Keller Higbee’s letter of May 13 ("Progress over 500 years") needs no response. Beneath its medieval coloration is a prejudice that speaks for itself.
No doubt Archbishop John Morton believed that the "neighborhood priory" had become a "local brothel." Abbot Johannes Trithemius may have been sincere in his condemnation of monks who prepared a feast for themselves and spent the day venting "in filthy talk." Although judgmental, both men were vigilant.
The point is, Higbee’s examples do not prove any insincerity on the part of the Catholic Church today. Regarding today’s news, that 848 priests have been "defrocked," the writers of the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries are silent.
Geoffrey Chaucer (c. 1340-1400) did take up the problem of sincerity. A statesman, diplomat and poet, Chaucer came down hard on abuses of authority. His age invited condemnation: It perpetuated the worst fund-raising scheme in history, the selling of church pardons.
On the subject of insincerity, Chaucer is clear: It depends on the person.
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