|Caritas will be having to change this logo. It will have to say Caritas is Catholic.|
John Allen posted an NCR article about the just released motu proprio from Benedict XVI on Catholic identity in charitable efforts. This papal letter was written at the behest of the Vatican watchdog for Caritas Internationales, the dicastery known as Cor Unum. Like the LCWR, the Vatican came down on Caritas Internationales for laxness on it's Catholic identity. This letter, if applied to Catholic efforts in the US, could spell the destruction of some of our bigger charitable efforts that rely on government grants.
New rules aim to beef up Catholic identity of church charitiesRome - John Allen - National Catholic Reporter - 12/1/2012
Among other things, the new rules appear to tighten the scope for Catholic charities to collaborate with groups with whom they may share specific interests, but which also take positions that conflict with Catholic teaching. In effect, the rules appear to be a response to perceptions voiced over the years that some church-run charities are more similar to secular NGOs and humanitarian groups than to distinctly Catholic operations. (Catholic identity in this context now supercedes Christian identity. It's not enough to practice Christian charity, it must be Catholic charity.)
Specifically, Pope Benedict XVI’s legal document, technically known as a motu proprio, stipulates that:
1) A charitable group may call itself “Catholic” only with the written consent of church authorities. If a particular outfit is deemed to be no longer “in conformity with the church’s teaching,” the bishop should make that known and take steps to prevent it from using the title “Catholic.” (This states a bishop's first duty is to the institution itself, and not to the mission Jesus commanded of His disciples.)
2) Personnel must “share, or at least respect” the Catholic identity of church-affiliated charitable organizations, and must also “give an example of Christian life” beyond their professional competence.
A Catholic charity may not take money “from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to the church’s teaching.” (I suspect this really means employees must be Catholic enough not to openly challenge the teachings on the all important pelvic issues. Nor should they demand birth control in their health insurance.)
3) To avoid leading people “into error or misunderstanding,” bishops are to ensure that parishes and dioceses don’t publicize initiatives “which, while presenting themselves as charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the church’s teaching.” (Apparently Catholics are considered too freaking stupid or too spiritually immature to handle any conflicts between charitable efforts and Church teaching.)
The title of the new papal edict is De Caritate ministranda, “On the service of charity,” and it was published today on the Vatican web site. Benedict wrote that he issued the document upon the recommendation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, who heads the Pontifical Council Cor Unum, the Vatican’s main oversight agency for charitable activities.
The new regulations come roughly a year after the Vatican moved to tighten its control over the leading global federation for Catholic charities, the Rome-based Caritas Internationalis. The organization’s secretary general at the time, Zimbabwe-born laywoman Lesley-Anne Knight, was denied Vatican permission to stand for a second term, and the organization’s statutes were revised to provide greater oversight by Vatican authorities, especially Cor Unum.
Among other things, the Vatican appeared to want Caritas, and Catholic charities generally, to have a more specifically “missionary” orientation, meaning promoting the faith alongside meeting basic humanitarian needs.
One veteran of the Catholic charities scene summed things up this way at the time in a background comment to NCR: “When it comes to charity work, there’s a continuum from secular humanism on one end to aggressive proselytism breeding ‘rice Christians’ on the other. Nobody’s saying Caritas ought to be at either extreme, but it’s clear the Vatican is pushing us further in the direction of promoting the church while we provide humanitarian and emergency assistance.”
In today’s document, Benedict XVI insisted that “The service of charity is a constitutive element of the church’s mission and an indispensable expression of her very being.” (Unfortunately sure looks to me like charitable efforts have now been reduced to an advertising campaign for Catholicism. Why else this obsession with 'identity markers'.
I'm beginning to detect a definite campaign by Rome to make sure no one confuses social justice Catholicism with the 'real' Catholicism of strict obedience to Rome. Hence Catholic identity has taken place of primacy over Christian mission. I'm actually not sure if the whole idea isn't to stamp out Christian from Roman Catholic and to further the purposeful conflation of Church with God, pope with God, priest with Jesus, Holy Spirit locked up in Vatican City dragged out only when god the pope allows it.
In the hands of bishops like Phoenix's Olmstead, this letter is a license to wreak havoc amongst Catholic hospitals, charities, schools, and other efforts by making the bishop the sole dictatorial power over all things Catholic. I can think of many other bishops who will wield this letter as a bludgeon to further their control in their dioceses and to shut down any alternative voice.
I wonder, given the actual wording of this letter, how many Catholic NGO's will be allowed to take any government grants, especially under this President, who has been vilified by our orthodox Catholic identity bishops as some form of the anti Christ. If I were working for a Catholic NGO in the State of Wisconsin, I'd really be concerned about my job. Or I'd be seriously agitating for dropping the word Catholic from the name of the organization I worked for in order to keep my job and it's mission funded.
For me, there is no question I would sacrifice "Catholic identity" for the sake of the mission. The fact this letter is essentially forcing such a choice says reams about the current direction of Rome. Rome controls all the directions, all directions must come from Rome, and lead back to Rome. All Rome all the time, which makes me wonder why the emphasis isn't on ROMAN as the identity marker rather than Catholic. It certainly isn't about Christian or Jesus or mission to the poor, or if it is, it's only a very distant second.
I suspect the real reason for all of this is precisely to make more 'rice Catholics' in the developing world to compete with 'rice Moslems'. Sort of following in the footsteps of Hammas by using social justice missions to convert followers. Which then makes this motu proprio a geo political tool most useful to bishops in the developing world but also very useful to reactionary bishops in the first world who never seem to get bored with reminding Western Catholics the Church is not a democracy and that pelvic issues are vastly more important than social justice issues.
And sadly, this movement to dis-empower the progressive social justice wing of the Church is only going to get more intense.