In my earlier post, I may have inadvertantly sparked a tussle in the comments box by not defining my terms clearly enough. I apologize for that, and I ask those commenters involved to please unruffle your feathers enough to realize that you are comparing unlike issues. Chris said,"I've got a big problem with obedience and blind faith in authority figures".
My intent was not to encourage blind faith in authority figures but rather a reasoned obedience, based on faith. That faith could come as a divine gift, or as a consequence of a healthy relationship (NOT POWER TRIPS). Blind faith in an authority figure comes darn close to the sin of idolatry. Even the Pope is not immune to error in matters of prudential judgement or everyday stuff - he is protected by infallability only under some fairly severe restrictions.
I put my personal faith in God - Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I owe obedience to the Church God founded on the rock of Peter, and whose Holy Tradition complements Holy Scripture. I owe obedience in faith and morals, even in areas where I may not clearly understand the deeper principles.
Yes, there have been abuses of prestige and authority within the Church throughout the ages, starting with Judas Iscariot. Part of knowing the faith and practicing the faith should be to be able to call other Christians to the responsibility they have - whether it is a wife calling a husband (or vice versa) or a parishioner calling a priest or bishop to obedience. To whom much has been given, much is demanded - and that applies to the hierarchy.
Dissent in the church is not just in the pews, it is an infestation that attempts to rot the very core. I don't much care (well, actually I do) whether the dissenter is a pew-warmer or a cardinal - that dissent is one of the gravest problems facing the church today.
It was not obedient, chaste, celibate priests who perpetrated the sexual scandal. It was not faithful religious who taught a generation of children that sin is an obsolete concept. It was not those parents who were obedient to Humanae Vitae and Castii Connubiae whose children were clueless about the church's position on contraception, abortion, and euthanasia.
So, Chris, while I think you have some good comments, I think you may have misinterpreted what I was trying to say. And Elinor, I think you have some valid points too, but I would really appreciate it if you could try to attack the points he was trying to make instead of attacking him or those in his profession.
Thanks, guys, for a lively debate and could we please try to have a little bit better manners on both sides.