‘The Holy Spirit is absent’

The Church Hierarchy meetings have hardly managed to console the disenchanted flock and convince followers that the campaign to clean up its act is more than a public relations stunt. Before the Church’s measures were announced, like another set of divine commandments, a bishop dared utter a self-evident remark: «The Holy Spirit is absent from this room,» he said. Whether the members of the different synods through the ages were indeed enlightened by the Holy Spirit is a question of faith. But the fact that Synod decisions have been shaped by external conditions such as the balance of power or the whims of the political class shows they have been profoundly human. The Holy Spirit is often depicted as descending from heaven in the form of a dove when Jesus was baptized or as tongues of fire at Pentecost. None of these manifestations seems to suit the present conundrum. The tense climate, the fiery passions, the bitter clerics and the insulting innuendoes would surely drive the peaceful dove away. And should the Spirit appear as fire, it probably would not have a spiritual role either. All this demonstrates that the bulk of the clergy have yet to grasp the size of the problem; and if they do, then they surely lack the necessary clout for a systematic purge. The Synod unfolded like a typical party congress, with bishops divided into different factions, with secret – and hardly spiritual – weapons, unprincipled alliances, and the thirst for power casting its relentless shadow over people’s souls. The actual decisions – like those calling for a less ostentatious dress code and the introduction of a state audit of Church finances – are more suited to economic organizations than the Church. That is, unless all this has a deeper meaning: that, to some senior clerics, the Church is something between a party and an economic body.