I feel it necessary to indulge in full disclosure and a disclaimer here: I am a Catholic. Nothing here is intended to belittle or impugn the Catholic faith which I believe exists independent of the Catholic Church; much like America can exist in the absence a bloated federal government. I know that the small parishes around the world are not necessarily corrupt or marching in lock step with every edict handed down by the Vatican (more on this below).
The woes of the Catholic Church mirror those of the American Federal government and find their roots in similar causes.
So what do Health care, bribes, Popes and pedophiles have in common? They are all symptoms of a larger corruption. While the two systems may be disparate in purpose they are equivalent in function. Both the Catholic Church and the American Government provide a structure that guides our lives; one the spiritual life the other the secular life. Since they both have similar hierarchical structures they are both prone to the same types of corruption.
The American government was founded upon and imbued with its limited power by the constitution. The Catholic Church was similarly founded upon the Bible and its mandates. Where both have run awry is by perverting or intentionally disregarding the laws upon which they were constructed.
The American Government has done this by expanding the government beyond its intended purpose which necessarily impinges on the rights of the citizens. Government cannot grow in power without the reciprocal loss of freedoms. Picture two plants growing in a fixed space. As one grows larger it necessarily requires a larger portion of the resources. At some point, if one plant grows unchecked, it will choke out the light from the other. One grows; one withers and dies.
Recent usurpation of power include the passage of the Patriot act, Health care, bank bailouts and the take over of the automotive industry. The government has created rights where none existed; not to perpetuate freedoms or ensure equality but to support unprecedented expansions of government. The manner in which government expands its control is less important than the fact that it does so with aplomb.
The Church has similarly grown beyond the constraints envisioned by its founder. Far from being a humble congregation of believers it has grown into a behemoth more concerned with retaining its power than bringing souls to the faith. Where money and power are intermingled corruption is a constant companion.
The Church's inability to purge pedophiles from its ranks, or even acknowledge that it is a serious problem, gives rise to the question why? The Church has shuffled and hidden these deviants in an effort to save itself from the stain of controversy. In doing so they have sewn the seeds of corruption and the appearance of apathy towards those whom they purport to serve. With an adeptness that would make any bureaucracy jealous they have circled the wagons to protect their own.
While the tenets of the Christian faith demand forgiveness they do not advocate perpetuating such destructive behavior by protecting pedophiles from prosecution. It reeks of the corruption we have come to expect from government.
Local VS. Central
The Catholic Church and Federal Government share another interesting, and condemnable, trait. The further the separation from the constituency the greater the corruption. Most would acknowledge that local governments/parishes tend to operate mostly above board. This is not great surprise when you consider that they have to face their constituents/parishioners each day up close and personal. When you move up the ladder there is an insulating factor created by distance and bureaucracy. The upper echelon in the Church and Federal Government are surrounded by sycophants and advocates and rarely are required to face those who are affected by their decisions. In short they are disconnected from the people they are sworn to serve/protect.
Dissent is discouraged
The federal government has shown its willingness to silence dissent over and over again. Caterpillar, AT&T, Verizon, Joe the Plumber, Sarah Palin, Talk Radio and Fox News have all felt the backlash over dissent. They have all been demonized, defamed and labeled as racists or corporate fat cats.
The Church is less obvious in its efforts but no less effective. Their tactics range from moving people to isolated locations to excommunication. Dissent is not welcomed in the halls of the elite.
The solution to all of these problems is the people who comprise the ranks of the governed. We have to power to change our government and our Church from the bottom up. Neither can do anything that we do not allow them to do. We are the solution. Once that fact settles in we will be in a position to effect the change that is long overdue.
One final comparison
Both our government and the Catholic Church were founded on sound, time tested principles and ideals. The corruption that has seeped in was not the result of flawed doctrine; it resulted from the perversion of the doctrine. If we strip away the corrupted veneer we will find underneath shinning jewels waiting to be rediscovered.