Brian Coyne over at Catholica Australia put up a video of Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson's talk on the twelve areas with in Roman Catholicism which need reform, or as he might say, attending to. It's a very comprehensive list. The following is a list of the Robinson's 12 points and Brian's short description. The video is just over 26 minutes and well worth watching.
- The Angry God: This image the institution projects of a God of Wrath and Anger needs to be challenged. It is wrong, and bad theology. It's also really bad psychology.
- The Male Church: Women have been marginalized and treated as second class by the institution for far too long.
- The Culture of Celibacy: Not so much celibacy per se but mandatory celibacy has to take a major part of the blame as a contributing cause of this crisis.
- Moral Immaturity: The seminary system and training of priests and religious has not encouraged moral and spiritual maturity. That needs to be changed.
- Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy: Bishop Robinson argues there has been far too much emphasis on Orthodoxy (right belief) and far too little on Orthopraxy (right action).
- Sexual Teaching: He argues there needs to be "a profound change in all of sexual morality" within the institution.
- The Mystique of Priesthood: Priests have been placed on a pedestal of perfection for far too long. It's dangerous to them and it's dangerous to the people they are meant to be serving. Priests are not God — they struggle with all the challenges that any human beings struggle with in their lives. Often because of the positions on these pedestals they have been placed on they find it difficult to find support in their lives. The laity also have a huge part to play in keeping priests on those pedestals.
- Professionalism: There has been a rise in professional standards across almost all professions — ethical codes, structures that protect and foster professional integrity but the priesthood has largely been excluded. He argues much more needs to be done to lift professional standards of those in ministry with the Church.
- A Pope who can't make mistakes: He argues that the way the pontiff has been placed on a pedestal and immune from criticism has been especially damaging to the institution. Creeping infallibility is a huge problem not only for some at the top who would seem to believe they have divine perfection already but also for many at the lowest rungs of the Church. This culture needs to be changed.
- The Loyalty of Bishops to the Pope: Their oath of allegiance is to the Pope — not to God, or the Church. He argues significant blame has to be placed at the feet of the late John Paul II for his inadequate responses to the growing sexual abuse crisis.
- A Culture of Secrecy: Bishop Robinson argues that the culture of secrecy in the Church has been a major cause of the problems. Bishops need to present themselves in the best light all the time and the culture of secrecy runs with that. It has been deeply damaging to the institution and needs to be changed.
- The Sensus Fidelium: He argues the institutional leadership need to be listening far more to the thinking of the broad body of the faithful not just to the small sectors that crave authority figures and founts of certitude.
Thank you for sharing this here Colleen....ReplyDelete
The first Catholic bishop I've ever heard speak who gets it....Michael Ferri
I agree Mike, when I listened to this yesterday I was really happy to hear him discuss many of the areas I feel need tweaking but are seldom mentioned. Starting with point #1.ReplyDelete
Wonderful Post. Thanks for the video link. Ah, yes, the Spirit still breaths in surprising ways where She will in the Roman Catholic Church. Of course, Bishop Robinson can be dismissed because he is not wearing a capa magna, which I am sure is a mark of the Holy Spirit.ReplyDelete
"A Pope who can't make mistakes: He argues that the way the pontiff has been placed on a pedestal and immune from criticism has been especially damaging to the institution. Creeping infallibility is a huge problem not only for some at the top who would seem to believe they have divine perfection already but also for many at the lowest rungs of the Church. This culture needs to be changed."ReplyDelete
## This idea is inexplicable, because nothing in the definition of infallibility, or in teaching since, gives any reason for one to suppose that the Pope cannot be mistaken. Historically the idea is impossible to support.
I think the idea relies on a number of highly dubious assumptions, that have deep roots in Jewish & Christian history - the idea of a vulnerable God is deeply counter-intuitive, so it is not surprising if vulnerability to error is difficult to accept. Conversely, the Church has for a very long time rejected the idea of a non-omniscient Christ - even though the "Son of man" in the gospels is expliciitly said not to know certain things. IMNSHO, this gives us a not-really-human Jesus: He becomes too perfect to be human. And other ideas have also helped to buld up a human incredible Jesus. This is serious, because it comes dangerously close to denying the reality of the Incarnation - not in principle, but in in effect. And an inhumanly perfect Jesus goes very well with a Church that is already perfect & can do no wrong.
yes, yes, yes: "This is serious, because it comes dangerously close to denying the reality of the Incarnation - not in principle, but in in effect. And an inhumanly perfect Jesus goes very well with a Church that is already perfect & can do no wrong."Delete
The other thing this does is make the Resurrection look like a game God was playing with his humans, not an event which has huge implications for the real truth of humanity.
buld up a human... = build up a humanly...ReplyDelete
The idea of celibacy plays perhaps a larger roll than Bishop Robinson seems to believe. It pits body against mind. It demands perfect asexuality. It is extremely unnatural. This does not mean that there were not holy celibate people, but they were holy in spite of celibacy. Celibacy over short periods of time may be heathy for a person especially a couple. It is like fasting. Long term commitment tends to diminish all creativity. See Eugene Sullivan, "The Unhealed Wound."ReplyDelete
I agree. Bishop Robinson may have had no real difficulties living a celibate existence and that may blind him to the difficulties it poses for others. I have no trouble living alone and celibate, but I also know I am not like other people. I really like living alone. But, like a co worker pointed out, I don't actually live alone because I have my three slave drivers--otherwise known as cats. And this week I have another stray kitten who came from who knows where and adopted me. Blending the three with the one is going to take some time, and yet I also know, this young cat wouldn't be here if she didn't feel welcome on some level.Delete
I just strikes me that our Church leadership is so into their heads they have no real idea of what it means to live from ones heart. The heart doesn't operate on head logic and maybe we need to start writing our relational morality from the heart and not the head.
Yes, we need both the heart and the head when it comes to morality, and not to be fearful of meeting out own sexual needs even if they do not involve another person. Perfect anything is impossible, but perfect asexuality is a joke that few if any male priests are able to live by. Yes, you are correct, Our creativity depends on eros on some level. dennisDelete
col, there are lots of stray cats around these days. The theory is that some people who lost their mortgages in the economic meltdown left their cats to fend for themselves when they lost their homes. I am now officially the chosen adopted mom to an angel of a cat, whom I believe was sent by St. Francis to care for her. It is really a beautiful story about this cat that showed up on the Eve of Halloween. Her one ear is clipped, indicating she was neutered. What a trip this cat is. It took a while for her to trust me. Now she comes inside for little visits and sleeps at my feet, even as I compose music at the computer late at night. I love this cat, and whether or not St Francis sent her to me, I don't really know. But it seems to me that she seems to know just when to show up and remind me how wonderful a furry friend of a cat can truly be. BTW, this cat has friends and they are all the most beautiful cats I've ever seen and each one is so different looking than the other and each with their own personality. There are about 4 additional cats that show up before sundown for dinner everyday.Delete
A belief that celibacy is 'asexuality' is an unhealthy and inappropriate view of celibacy. True, living celibacy is an understanding of intimacy in a different way than just physical intimacy. A celibate is not called to somehow not have attraction, that's impossible. But it's accepting those attractions, acting appropriately, and learning how to focus our intimacy through spiritual, intellectual, and personal intimacy in our relationships without physical intimacy. Just because one has certain desires (philosophical called 'passions'), they must always be informed and filtered through the use of our reason. A healthy person always has both eros and agape forms of love, but celibacy just means not acting out on that through physical means.
Butterfly, that explanation about people letting their cats fend for themselves after eviction makes perfect sense. We're pretty sure this little girl was dumped here. Like you I find this little cutie a message. I had previously thought black cats were kind of boring, but what struck me about this one is her coat is so black her eyes seem to glow like neon and her tongue looks red not pink. Anyway, my other three condescend to let her hang around the house, but I'm not sure they are quite prepared to let her hang in their house.Delete
There is a black cat that strolls through the yard occasionally, with the same sort of eyes you describe. Not too social with any of the other cats or humans. Then there is moo-cow cat who has short black and white fur like a cow and is sort of close friends with my pretty little dancer cat who has a little face like a tiger and grey to brownish-reddish and black thick fur with a tail that looks like a raccoon. I have no idea what kind of cat this is. Has been a complete surprise to have these furry animals coming for dinner on most evenings. They didn't come tonight. I think they are mooching off a few of the neighbors. Sometimes I'll see a few of the cats sleeping on the porch before I retire at night. I call my new little cat the dancer cat because when she is hungry she'll go in a circle & do a dance-like number around me. She has white paws in the front that look like ballerina slippers and the two hind legs have a longer stretch of white that appear to look like go-go boots. LOL. She is a delight and a joy. I love when she comes to visit. Maybe I'm being prepped for grandmotherhood. :-)Delete
Oh, one more thing about this cat is that it brings the mothering qualities back in view for me. I've never been particularly close to cats. This cat is truly extraordinary on many levels. She sort of is the boss of the other cats too. She makes sure there is food for them too. All the other cats, except for her, are scaredy cats. As time goes on they are becoming a little more trusting.Delete
Robinson's 12 points are brilliant and refreshing to hear.ReplyDelete
I recently found this site. From my experience, most of the internet world is the ultra-traditionalist conservative part of the church. this group represents a very suffocating form of Catholicism. I've been hanging around those blogs too long trying to get someone to answer my questions and thoughts that go outside of the box of fundamentalist Catholic thinking. Finding a blog like this is indeed refreshing. Can you tell me why most of the Catholic internet is the type where the first disclosure on the blog is "I will do whatever the Magisterium tells me to do" (Paraphrased of course)
I wanted to add when anonymous said this on April 2nd (on a different thread) I whole heartedly agreed, "pardon my personal digression here but there is some clarity here for me, perhaps a moment of epiphany....we have swallowed, hook, line and sinker, a whole infantile view of GOD perpetrated upon us by a clerical system bent on controlling us by claiming religious infallibility, the keys to the kingdom, the sole ability to interpret who GOD is, what the Scriptures mean, how we should personally understand GOD..."
And then anon went on to talk about the woman in Haiti thankful that God saved her while her neighbors perished. I really understood that. I am trying to understand the God that does not interevene if indeed it is God that intervenes and saves some people but not others.
I know I went off topic but this is my first post and I wanted to say thanks for being here it is a voice of reason in a sea of insanity for me.
I posted a comment a couple days ago in this thread. Did it disappear?ReplyDelete
birdsong, I found your first post in the spam file and I'm not sure why it wound up there, but I will tell you this much, tonight I needed to be keyed in to reading your first post. Usually I know why a comment has been spammed, but this time I think it was for me personally. I needed to be reminded why I have kept up with this blog for four years because tonight I was sort out of sorts.Delete
To answer your main question you need to think very carefully about what Bishop Robinson talks about in his first bullet point, and which I will write about tomorrow. It's the angry God thing.
Colleen, a happy and blessed Easter--with profound gratitude for all you do to keep us informed and thinking through your blog site.ReplyDelete
And also with you Bill, and may you have many more joyous Easters.Delete
Happy Easter Colleen and all the regular contributors too.Delete
These 12 points generally do not actually apply to the Church. Some are very demonstrably untrue.ReplyDelete
But then, where would the Church be without its detractors?
Come, come Invictus, you wouldn't let me get away with this kind of unsubstantiated broadside. How do these twelve points of Bishop Robinson not actually apply to the Church. Which are demonstrably untrue?Delete
True. Ok, fair cop.Delete
"The Angry God: This image the institution projects of a God of Wrath and Anger needs to be challenged. It is wrong, and bad theology. It's also really bad psychology."Delete
Where was this expressed in any of the Pope's writings? Does it prevail in his speeches at World Youth Day or elsewhere? Does it prevail in official teaching? No, it clearly does not.
The Catholic Church is not the Westboro Baptist Church, and to dress her in such clothes is an insulting slander, or a profound and damaging error. Demonstrably untrue.
"The Male Church: Women have been marginalized and treated as second class by the institution for far too long."
Women have been respected since Mary, and since the Church's radical view on marriage replaced that of pagan Rome in giving women an enduring role in the family and a position of security, as well as established and healthy alternative vocations if they did not wish to have a family. Since then, the Church led the way first in Europe and later throughout the world in the education of women and girls.
But, oh no. We don't have priestesses. Clearly these contributions are therefore null and void. Demonstrably untrue.
"The Culture of Celibacy: Not so much celibacy per se but mandatory celibacy has to take a major part of the blame as a contributing cause of this crisis."
If there was a culture of celibacy, or mandatory celibacy, I for one could not have been born. But, in fact, there are lots of young Catholics who exist in defiance of this absurd charge. And many more being born all the time.
Clearly, it's just a snipe at the continued tradition of clerical celibacy, which is a much smaller and more specific matter, and not in itself controversial or damaging.
"Moral Immaturity: The seminary system and training of priests and religious has not encouraged moral and spiritual maturity. That needs to be changed.
Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy: Bishop Robinson argues there has been far too much emphasis on Orthodoxy (right belief) and far too little on Orthopraxy (right action)."
They very much are, and this comment is very telling. One: its insensitivity toward those men and women who are faithfully discerning their vocations and working hard with the Church to take up their crosses and follow Him betrays an underlying cruelty in the bishop's outlook. Two: I cannot believe that a bishop would be so seriously ignorant of the rigorousness of modern seminary, which suggests disingenuousness on his part.
Debatable at best, and demonstrably unfair.
"Sexual Teaching: He argues there needs to be "a profound change in all of sexual morality" within the institution."
Er. Like what? That's not very specific. Presumably he's playing to such a homogeneously liberal dissident audience that he doesn't even have to say anything in order to be understood.
"The Mystique of Priesthood: Priests have been placed on a pedestal of perfection for far too long. It's dangerous to them and it's dangerous to the people they are meant to be serving. Priests are not God — they struggle with all the challenges that any human beings struggle with in their lives. Often because of the positions on these pedestals they have been placed on they find it difficult to find support in their lives. The laity also have a huge part to play in keeping priests on those pedestals."Delete
If he think he's been put on a pedestal, he's not been doing his job properly. Of the priests I know, not a single one is 'pedestalised'. They're not all brilliant priests in my opinion, but the idea that it's necessary for a bishop to talk down to us laity, telling us that "Priests are not God"(!!??) and that "they struggle" is insulting and patronising. Anyone who lives in a parish can see these things, nobody should be able to confuse a priest with the creator of all things seen and unseen. What planet is this bishop living on?
Nobody who lives in the sacraments is realistically able to think that their parish never struggles, let alone that they might actually be God.
"Professionalism: There has been a rise in professional standards across almost all professions — ethical codes, structures that protect and foster professional integrity but the priesthood has largely been excluded. He argues much more needs to be done to lift professional standards of those in ministry with the Church."
Those codes are in Canon Law, and have existed since before the Bible. It's not about lifting standards, it's about assuring them.
"A Pope who can't make mistakes: He argues that the way the pontiff has been placed on a pedestal and immune from criticism has been especially damaging to the institution. Creeping infallibility is a huge problem not only for some at the top who would seem to believe they have divine perfection already but also for many at the lowest rungs of the Church. This culture needs to be changed."
This is an old protestant misunderstanding on the nature of papal infallibility. Looking it up on Catholic Answers or another Catholic website will answer it more fully than I can here.
"The Loyalty of Bishops to the Pope: Their oath of allegiance is to the Pope — not to God, or the Church. He argues significant blame has to be placed at the feet of the late John Paul II for his inadequate responses to the growing sexual abuse crisis."
Is he really suggesting that sexual predators were not held to account...because of an oath that bishops apparently swear to the Pope?
"A Culture of Secrecy: Bishop Robinson argues that the culture of secrecy in the Church has been a major cause of the problems. Bishops need to present themselves in the best light all the time and the culture of secrecy runs with that. It has been deeply damaging to the institution and needs to be changed."Delete
This man is obsessed with bishops and pedestals. I thought he was supposed to be talking about the Church? You know, that thing that includes us laity too?
Elitist and irrelevant.
"The Sensus Fidelium: He argues the institutional leadership need to be listening far more to the thinking of the broad body of the faithful not just to the small sectors that crave authority figures and founts of certitude."
Another insulting comment, suggesting that anyone who sides with the Church against his dissident views is a craven weakling incapable of independent thought. Thanks for that, Bishop Robinson, very charitable of you...great advert for your "liberal" cause.
The Church was founded not as a democracy of the cultural mainstream, but as the body of Christ, living here on Earth.
There you go. A fairly clearheaded rebuttal to his insulting prejudices.Delete
You did well. I have to clarify one really important thing. The synopsis of Bishop Robinson's points were not written by Bishop Robinson or myself. They were taken from Catholica Australia and like all such summaries emphasize the take of the summarizer. Bishop Robinson was much more in depth on many of these points. Also Bishop Robinson was referring to the seminary training of his own time and the abuser priests he worked with, which makes a big difference. It's really comparing apples and oranges if one looks at seminary training from today, which has been radically changed from the sixties.Delete
As to the place of women in the Church, women still have no real say when it comes to discipline, doctrine and dogma. That's because they can't be part of the ordained system. Now before you go off on me, I have an observation. At the wedding feast at Cana, Jesus shows up with is buddies and they certainly help to run the wedding hosts out of wine. His mother, noting this fact, suggests Jesus rectify the situation. OK actually it wasn't a suggestion. Jesus does and then complains about the fact He is not all that ready to be about His Father's business. He rectifies the situation anyway. There is no such thing as an 'in persona maria' having the kind of authority to tell an 'in persona christi' any such thing. At least not officially.
I didn't do well, Bishop Robinson did badly enough that the debunking was straightforward.Delete
If he was speaking about his negative experiences relating to the seminaries he went through, his comments would have been less misleading if they contrasted those past experiences with the modern reality. As it was, he managed to be quite insulting and appear quite ignorant.
Nobody has a say with respect to doctrine. Priests have no say whatsoever, and nor does anyone else. We accept God's will through obedience to Jesus' teachings safeguarded and taught by the Church He founded for the purpose. If a pope cannot alter doctrine, it is ridiculous to think it sexist that nuns and lay women cannot.
Women are on the same level as the rest of us Catholics; secular and religious of either gender cannot define doctrine for themselves or for the rest of the Church.
"But then, where would the Church be without its detractors?"ReplyDelete
Invictus, tell us, why are those who reveal the truth, see the truth, hear the truth, experience and witness this same truth as told by Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, deemed by a certain minority in the Church as detractors to be silenced, and not by their rightful name as true defenders of the Faith & of the People of God, who are entrusted to us to speak the truth through the guidance of the Holy Spirit?
If that is truth, then the Church is the Whore of Babylon and we all ought to run off and become protestants.
I wouldn't matter all our spiritual energy is already entangled. Might as well stick around and fix the Catholic mess. The rest of the dominoes will follow suit.Delete
Invictus, If the SSPX or Opus Dei are not the Whore of Babylon, I don't know what the term might even truly mean. That the Pope invited them back is the truth, and some are from the Anglican Church. So maybe the RCC is not all that Catholic after all is said and done. From what I've witnessed in reading this blog and others, the RCC is bent on going backwards. Take your choice of going backwards, stick around and fix the Catholic mess, go join a mega-Church somewhere as the Romans build their mega-Churches. I don't go to Church anymore. It has proven to be more detrimental than helpful to me and many others. And as is obvious from your comments, you don't really care anyway for any type of reform and that is incredibly unfortunate in my view of things.Delete
Ah, I hadn't realised you'd allowed yourself to become estranged from the sacraments. I apologise, I thought you spewed this stuff in spite of that, and so took it as pigheadedness on your part.Delete
Now your comments make more sense, and I hope that you find your way back someday. It will help you so so much when you do.
Well, Invictus, you have your view of Church and the sacraments in a box, wrapped in dogma & Canon Law, which includes the obstinate and arrogant unchangeable laws written by men that undermine the very foundation of Faith, which are in many cases a huge dissent from the original meaning and intent of the Gospel message and the command of Jesus for us to love one another. You can have that view of dissent, a willful dissent at denying Communion to a fellow Catholic who is treated like a leper for having a divorce and remarrying.Delete
The truth is that the rules have changed since Jesus changed the rules. His rules should rule us. We are not to be ruled by the laws of men. Jesus and His Holy Spirit do not rule according to dogma and Canon Law though. The laws of the RCC supersede even that of God's will is the rule of dogma and Canon Law regarding divorced & remarried Catholics. The rules for divorced and remarrieds is like the rule of excluding Gentiles, of holding onto the old letter of the law, or the issue of the rule of having males being circumcised. That was a law, a rule that could not be changed either, until the Holy Spirit blessed the early Church followers of Jesus, change their view of things that were once the law to rule their lives. The truth is that St. Paul & St. Peter were gifted with the Holy Spirit, as promised to those who love Jesus. Their message is clear to me. The message to divorced and remarrieds for cradle Catholics is not blessed with the Holy Spirt, but with the spirit of the law. It's easy to discern if you know Jesus' message for us. The message the RCC gives currently is the antithesis of the Gospel message to divorced and remarried Catholics who profess their Faith in Jesus Christ and do not profess their Faith to a building, a false idol, a law, a thing, a dogma.
The estrangement from the sacraments for divorced & remarrieds is from the law, the dead letter of the law. In truth, I am not estranged from the love & forgiveness & mercy of God at all, for He died on the cross for me too, nor does the Holy Spirit deny access to any saving grace and that is all that truly matters, however unfortunate it is to be considered an outcast & denied Communion by my Catholic Church for not submitting to what can be considered a circumcision, denying sexual contact for couples for years in an annulment process which is not in the natural order of being loving, forced to live as a brother and sister rather than as married until some inquisitional body makes a determination of ones case that may or may not allow them to receive Communion anyway. Many of us see this as craziness and having nothing to do with the message of Jesus for anyone. It's a real sad situation that the RCC is not willing to address in all sincerity or with any sense that it knows love at all, let alone that it has truly grasped the meaning of the Gospels.
Since I am divorced and remarried the dogma of the Church prevents me from receiving Holy Communion, now called the Eucharist. In other words, I am denied true forgiveness and mercy, like so many other cradle Catholics not fortunate enough as Newt Gingrich to be baptized a Protestant prior to becoming a Catholic.
A Protestant entering the Catholic Church nowadays has a better chance of being accepted into the Catholic Church than any cradle Catholic who was married & divorced. And, it is all because of a sick dogma that creates that circumstance. A dogma that has gotten away from the central message of Jesus Christ and the Gospels.
I like the term Holy Communion so much better, because it seems to have more meaning for me. In truth, whether I receive a wafer in the RCC Mass, or whether I receive Communion with God, the Angels and the Communion of Saints spiritually is not detrimental to my spiritual health at all. What is detrimental, however, are notions of God that say those who have divorced and remarried cannot receive Holy Communion spiritually in any other context except within the bounds of the reasoning of men who have made the dogma. Try to go to Mass and know you can't receive Communion. The Church is very insensitive to people by its laws that are man's laws, not the law of love.
My spiritual journey is very unique, certain aspects shared in common by many who were cradle Catholics indoctrinated pre-VII. I really doubt that you would have any understanding of that, or of my life, so I will not even try to explain to you. For I have come to understand upon returning to my childhood Church after a long absence that when a door to the Church slams shut against you by way of dogma that has nothing to do with love or understanding, or any charitable sense, even in a Gospel sense with the message of Christ in its understanding and attitude so obviously lacking, one has no choice but to go where the Holy Spirit beckons one to go in order to develop and grow closer to God.
Invictus, you just don't get it. The number of Catholics unhappy with their leadership is growing and wide spread. We have been taught all are lives that these men were special because they gave up having a family to minister to the church. We are not the uneducated people of the past. We know right from wrong. And sexual abuse is wrong. Ingoring someone who is a Homesexual, is divoced is just wrong. We should be welcoming to all. yes this sounds like the Espicopal Church and they may be right. It is time to step back and rethink and reread the bible. All of the bible not just the parts that we feel like following.ReplyDelete
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