|I have to admit this is too frequently my primary source of knowledge. It's the discernment thing that becomes an issue.|
The American Catholic Conference is off and running. Last night's opening address was given by Hans Kung via video. The National Catholic Reporter has this article about Kung's thoughts, and Brian Coyne, editor of Catholica Australia is in attendance and has posted his thoughts in this first article, and then lists the ACC Bill of Rights in this post. I was actually going to do a post on this Bill of Rights, but decided instead to focus on another of the Council's keynote speakers, Mathew Fox. Fox has just released a new book, The Pope's War, which maintains that the JPII/Benedict papacies have essentially been schismatic precisely because both papacies have done everything in their power to abrogate the main thrust of Vatican II. Kung says essentially the same thing, if not so strongly, but even Kung calls for a peaceful revolution and compares the Papacy to the French monarchy just before the French revolution.
There's an interesting interview with Mathew Fox about his new book, and I am going to excerpt his answer to one question because my own thoughts echo Fox's. Lately I've had a number of people (non Catholics) ask me why I bother with this blog or with Catholicism at all, and I blather on endlessly and not too coherently. Mathew Fox on the other hand, hits most of my reasons in the following answer:
If I am not Catholic (or even Christian), should I be at all interested in this book on the woes of the Catholic Church?
The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination by far. Its global influence is profound for good or for ill. It has at times drawn many wonderful and generous souls into its service even if today many are tripping over each other to exit. When it chooses at its hierarchical level to support dictatorships and fascist rulers—and to imitate them—that impacts on all of us. (On this score, the last two papacies have been following Pius XII's script. Benny has just substituted secularism for communism.)
When it teaches that birth control and condoms are wrong when the world is being swamped by excessive human population as well as by sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS, that affects us all.
When its theatrical rituals suck all the religious air out of the room because it is pleasing to television’s needs to elevate a person dressed in white to cult status, that affects us all. (There is a great deal of truth to this observation. No question that Papal theatrics are TV friendly.)
When Ratzinger interfered in the US presidential election of 2004 by telling bishops to publicly announce that a Roman Catholic voter cannot vote for a politician (i.e. Kerry) who favors women’s choice and the vote of three states (Iowa, Ohio and New Mexico) was determined by that intervention as studies show, then the fact that the Vatican got Bush elected his second term is of concern for all. (Yes indeedy, which is why we now have the Republican Catholic Church in the US and it's being led by converted southern evangelicals.)
When theological thinkers are suspended and pedophile priests are countenanced and their hierarchical defenders are promoted (a la Cardinal Law), that affects us all.
When fascist cults like Opus Dei and Legion of Christ and Communion and Liberation are promoted by the Vatican, that affects us all. (And this is matched by incessant pressure on the historical orders like the Jesuits and Benedictines.)
When base communities and liberation theology are denounced, that affects us all. When the spirit and teachings of the great Vatican Council including outreach to all world religions are denied, that affects us all.
And when morality is reduced almost exclusively to sexual issues instead of the great issues of planetary survival and social and economic justice, that affects us all.
The hijacking of the name and teachings of Jesus in the name of Ecclesiolatry affects us all. Ours are not a time for keeping silent about the sins of organized religion. Ours are a time for starting over.
All of the above is reason enough to be concerned about and active in the attempt to reformat Catholicism, but reform it to what? It's here where I am really in line with Fox's thinking. In some respects we have been walking the same path from different starting points. In the following Fox is answering a question about the other book on Christian mystics he was writing at the same time he was writing The Pope's War:
Writing The Pope’s War (Sterling, May 2011) was so dour, so dark, so dreary, the news was so much the opposite of uplifting that I told a friend I felt like Oscar the Grouch who lived in the garbage can on Sesame Street. Yes, it was like living with garbage. What to do? I put the project, about 60% finished, on a shelf not sure I would ever return to it. All my other books had uplifted me in the writing; not that one. It dragged me down day after day. It was not fun. (Same with this blog some days. Covering the Vatican is sometimes like wallowing in a big dipsy dumpster full of spiritual and psychological garbage.)
The culmination of the pope book was my conviction that the Holy Spirit is so decimating Catholicism as we know it today that we can and need to push the restart button on Christianity. This includes “taking the treasure from the burning building” as I put it in the book. And first and foremost of those treasures is our mystical and prophetic heritage. Thus Christian Mystics is a deep part of the treasure that our lineage contains. It points the way to Christianity’s greatest accomplishments and its greatest future potential. The task is not that complicated: It is about turning out mystics and prophets. Like Jesus did; and was.
Mathew Fox is onto something about Christianity's task. I too believe the task is to mentor mystics and prophets and that the teachings of Jesus were all about what it takes to be a mystic, a prophet, and a healer. His teachings were meant to unfold the reality of heaven on earth. They were not meant to create Vatican City and Catholic clericalism, both of which exist to disempower the laity. And that to me is the real heresy of the last two papacies--they have been bound and determined to disempower the laity and return to clerical triumphalism. I will fight that tooth and nail because that path leads to chaos and destruction. If anyone doubts that, just review the real history of the Vatican and it's support of fascism in World War II.