Wednesday, March 27, 2002

While reading a commentary on the Passion narrative in the Gospel of Mark (C.S. Mann's Anchor Bible) last night, I came across an article, (pages 423-426), contained within the commentary that I found quite interesting. It dealt with a document that was discovered in the late 1800's that was attributed to Clement of Alexandria. It doesn't seem that anyone questions the veracity of the document but it does raise questions about a so called more "spiritual gospel"of Mark that supposedly existed in the early Church.
The subject of Clement of Alexandria's letter is that a certian group of gnostic heretics called the Carpocrates had perverted the text of this "spiritual gospel" in order to justify their behavior...which essentially justified homosexual encounters with young men, (this is in the second century!)
Of course, Clement of Alexandria condemns them and history records the gnostics as a heretical version of Christianity.
What struck me about this article of course was the relevance of this account to the daily revelations of clerical abuse. If you listen to the victims of these cases you find that the usual scenario is some perversion of the gospel or the church's teaching that justifies the abuse.
If the church is really serious about "purifying" itself of these priests it will begin by declaring them as heretics and excomunicating them. There is a long history of this and it seems this is where the Vatican should step in this case.
I believe it was St. Augustine who declared that, "every heresy comes from the altar," meaning the "clergy." At one time a third of the bishops were heretics (Arians), it could be today that a third of the clergy are Carpocrates. If so, they should be removed.