Monday, January 28, 2013

Lots Of Interesting Stuff

This photo has nothing to with any of the interesting stuff. It's just wishful thinking.

I've come across a number of interesting articles today, so I'm just going to post some snippets, links, and a few comments.  I don't know that there's any real connection amongst them other than my interest.  The first is about Sarah Palin and Archbishop Chaput appearing together at a fund raiser for Terry Schaivo's family non profit.  Readers will remember the Terry Schaivo case for becoming a political football in Florida and Washington. It wound up being a huge media circus for the right to life folks which certain politicians, one in the White House comes to mind, and does his brother who happened to reside in the Florida State House, took liberty to use for political reasons.  Now it's Archbishop Chaput and Sarah Palin. (Poor Sarah, her career appears to be on a downward trajectory. Maybe this appearance will help.)

Heads up to Mike McShea and his Cultural Christian blog for this tidbit.  The article is from Canada Free Press.  Mike has also excerpted another description from a password blocked site that I couldn't get into.  It's worth reading if only for it's interesting history on the Schaivo case.

"PHILADELPHIA, —The Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network is delighted to announce that Archbishop Charles Chaput, Archbishop of the Diocese of Philadelphia, will celebrate “The National Memorial Mass for Terri’s Day.”

In addition, Governor Sarah Palin will be the honored speaker at the Terri Schiavo Life & Hope Network’s Award Gala following Terri’s Memorial Mass.

The International Day of Prayer and Remembrance for Terri Schindler Schiavo, and All of Our Vulnerable Brothers and Sisters (“Terri’s Day”) was established in 2007 and is observed each year on or around March 31st, the date of Terri’s death."

There is something just disconcerting about Palin and Chaput together at a fund raiser for a non profit run by the family members of Terry Schaivo.  I guess poor Terry is one person who will never be left to rest in peace.  Especially from the political vultures.


Michael Sean Winters has a post up today at the National ___________Reporter that really seems to be all about MSW coming out of his conservative closet.  He compares and contrast a NY Times Op Ed written by Frank Bruni, with a Washington Post Op Ed written by Cardinal Wuerl.  Bruni's post is based on a forth coming book by Gary Wills about the history and flaws of the clerical priesthood.  Bruni concentrates on the flaws.  Not surprising given the news coming out of LA and elsewhere.  Wuerl concentrates on the necessity for Church dogma and the part that dogma plays in Roman Catholicism's social justice initiatives for which, of course, the Church should be patted on the back and Americans should be thankful.  Wuerl completely leaves out 75% of the money for those DC charitable efforts come from taxes, not Catholic altruism.  

In any event these are the sentences that brought me up short from MSW.  At this point in his missive he is essentially attacking Fr Tony Flannery for refusing to adhere to the CDF and acting on his oath of obedience--an oath that as a religious Flannery did not make to his bishop or Rome. MSW leaves out the part about Flannery being requested to publicly state Jesus instituted the hierarchical Church and the papacy. I think MSW conveniently left that out because it wouldn't exactly reinforce the following sentences:

 ..."And, is there not something a little bit strange about all these 21st century champions of 1st century Christian practices who seem to discern in that first Christian century a society that looks completely compatible with the more found today on the Upper West Side?

"This fascination with primitivism among liberals is bizarre to me. Yes, the doings of the early church are interesting, but they are not necessarily of doctrinal significance. We are Catholics, after all, not Baptists."

I guess Michael fails to see that Rome is demanding Flannery adhere to their version of 1st century Christian practices in which everything Jesus instituted looks just like today in Rome.....perfectly epitomized by the machinations of Cardinal Wuerl.


Tom Fox of the National _____________ Reporter has responded to Bishop Finn's attacks on their _________ Creds.  I thought Roberts was understated and respectful. Not so much the conservative commenters who have been coming over from Fr Z's blog.  Speaking of whom, according to his blog he is attending a conference in Oklahoma on exorcism.  Where before have I heard that a conservative media priest thinks he's an exorcist.  Oh that would have been Fr Eutenuer.  Fr Zuhlsdorf should pray very long and very hard over what happened to Eutenuer and not let his ego or his conservative flock propel him into a ministry that is quite probably more than he can handle.  He's much better off making a name for himself by becoming the Catholic clerical version of Rush Limbaugh or making the NCR his personal conversion project.  I just wish he would tell his followers to stop cutting and pasting his work into NCR comments without giving him credit.  That would be plagiarism and last I checked that was considered immoral.


Finally, I'd like to draw attention to Bill Lyndsey's translation of the French bishops statement on gay marriage.  Bill seems to have done an excellent job with the translation.  I found this extensive letter to be very interesting to read, open to dialogue and to have been utterly twisted around by the Lifesite news article I used in my own post on this letter.

However, in the end, in the final paragraph,  it came to that old bugaboo for women---the common good:

The real question is, then, to discover whether, in the interest of the common good, an institution regulated by law should continue to speak of the link between conjugality and procreation, the link between the faithful love of a man and a woman and the birth of an infant, as it reminds us all that 
  • life is a gift
  • the two sexes are equal and both indispensable for life
  • the clear recognition of parenthood is essential for the child.
Evolution of family law is always possible.  But rather than yield to the pressure of various groups, France will do credit to itself by implementing a real society-wide debate and seeking an original solution which does justice to the demand to recognize homosexual persons without, however, undermining the anthropological foundations of society.  (Just substitute patriarchy for 'undermining the anthropological foundations of society' and the for all it's even handed rhetoric, the French bishops pass the Vatican test with their very last words.)

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Is 'Spiritual But Not Religious' Actually Bad For One's Mental Health?

I love these kinds of optical illusions because they help remind me reality is not necessarily what I think it is.

A couple of weeks ago I book marked an article from the Guardian UK that discusses a recently released British study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. The article is based on a short abstract of the full study but I was not going to pay $15.00 for a 24 hour look at the full study to get a better idea of their methodology.  However, the abstract was written by the authors and they do state as their conclusion that: People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder.  That is a very strong conclusion since the authors give no indication in the abstract that they bothered with any in depth interviewing which might indicate if the mental health issues existed prior to becoming 'spiritual but not religious'.  I have published the entire Guardian article below and the author of the article, Mark Gordon,  suggests a different conclusion, that it's the fault of churches for failing to meet people's needs. 

Spiritual, but not religious? A dangerous mix

The prevalence of mental disorders among those who 'do God' alone is an indictment of churches' failure to meet their needs

Mark Gordon - Guardian UK - 1/9/2013
People who are "spiritual but not religious" are more likely to suffer poor mental health, according to a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry. Michael King of University College London and his colleagues examined 7,400 interviews with folk in Britain, of whom 35% had a religious understanding of life, 19% a spiritual one and 46% neither a religious nor spiritual outlook. The analysis led to one clear conclusion. "People who have a spiritual understanding of life in the absence of a religious framework are vulnerable to mental disorder [dependence on drugs, abnormal eating attitudes, anxiety, phobias and neuroses]." The work supports evidence from other studies too. (Actually it only supports a correlation.  It says nothing about causation.)

All the usual weaknesses associated with asking individuals about religion are at play here, as the authors acknowledge. Nonetheless, the study prompts a number of speculations.

The spiritual itch is a deep one in the human psyche, for those who feel it. To scratch without the support of others might lead to an inner obsession that spirals out of control. It is possible, too, that personal crises drive people to seek spiritual solace that of itself does not address the underlying psychological distress. Then again, the resources of a healthy spiritual tradition, not pursued in isolation, should provide or point to the means of addressing psychological problems. The ground is then gradually cleared for genuine spiritual growth.(Operative words are 'healthy spiritual tradition', which is true of religious traditions as well.)

This raises another question, though. Do religious organisations in the UK today take enough notice of the insights of psychology and, conversely, do schools of therapy treat spirituality seriously? As the Cambridge psychologist and priest Fraser Watts explored in a recent talk, American therapists, for example, seem to be far happier talking about their clients' spiritual concerns than their British counterparts.

This must highlight broader cultural differences. In the US, religion tends to carry associations of freedom. I remember an American priest once saying to me, when I expressed amazement at the prevalence of religiosity in the US, that Americans came from Europe fleeing religious persecution. The two words "religion" and "freedom" naturally go together in the American psyche. (Now there seems to be a qualifier in that some forms of Christianity are demanding and exalted status in this equation of religion and freedom.)

In Britain, though, it appears that many individuals view religion as an impingement upon their spiritual searching. Christianity, say, is felt to constrain life – perhaps because of the negative attitudes it projects about gay people and women; or because it presents belief as more important than growth; or because it looks more interested in sin than enlightenment. If that is so, the new research is a striking indictment of the failure of British churches to meet spiritual needs: individuals are not just not coming to church, some are becoming mentally ill as a result of religious failure.

Other results from the research are striking too, though similarly not determinative. People with no religious or spiritual understanding were significantly younger and more often white British, but were less likely to have qualifications beyond secondary school, perhaps challenging research purporting to show that atheists are more intelligent. (Or that main stream religions have abandoned the lower economic classes.)

Another finding of this work was that those who were neither religious nor spiritual had just as good mental health as those the religious. This contradicts a notion widely held in positive psychology that religion is good for happiness (though that positive correlation typically derives from North American evidence.)

Finally, the research challenges the stance of those who are spiritual but not religious. It might be called the individualism delusion, the conviction that I can "do God" on my own. And yet, as the psychotherapist Donald Winnicott argued, human beings need to work through traditions to resource their personal creativity. Only in the lives of others can we make something rich of our own life. To be spiritual but not religious might be said to be like embarking on an extreme sport while refusing the support of safety procedures and the wisdom of experts who have made the jump before. Spirituality is like love: more risky than you can countenance when you're falling for it.


I'm never quite sure what to make of these kinds of survey studies. I'd really need to see the survey and get a better feel for the methodology, consequently I take these results with something of a grain of salt.  I've actually read far more studies linking severe mental illness, at least in terms of psychotic delusional content, with fundamental religious interpretations. There are also more than a few studies that link increased sexual and physical abuse and major depression with being raised in fundamentalist families.  Even then, I'm not sure I would be so quick to establish causation with the correlation.  When one is talking about demonstrated changes in neuro chemistry it's hard to separate nature from nurture.

There's no doubt that some 'spiritual but not religious' tend march to their own drum and eschew communal spiritual experiences.  Although in general it's never particularly healthy to isolate in your own little world, I'd have to see more data to conclude the isolation was a product of the spirituality and not a precursor. On the other hand  I would hardly be shocked if a similar study done with video game players found that all that isolation wasn't particularly good for their mental health as well.  It just seems when the topic is spirituality or religion, negative correlations generate more media interest which all too often slides into causation.

My clients want me to teach a group called "Psychotic or Psychic'.  I have not done so for a number of reasons and one of them is the fine line between the two experiences.  Most of that line has to do with one's ability to live with the knowledge that the real world is mostly set in stone in terms of our experiential reality, but not always.  A person almost has to be super sane to seek out those experiences which transcend normal reality.  In other words they have to truly hold to a world view which can encompass seeming 'impossible' changes in otherwise stable aspects of time/space/matter reality.  In my experience those who seek out these experiences are generally unprepared for the consequences, both emotional and intellectual, of actually having these experiences and that includes those who seek out these experiences from a religious or spiritual framework.  In some respects, those who approach these experiences from a religious or spiritual framework are at a disadvantage because when the fear hits, and it will because our egos are vested in this reality and not other realities, their framework for dealing with the fear is to go right to the devil card because fear is cognitively linked with bad/threatening/evil.  Jesus was certainly aware of this because His first words to His followers after his Resurrection were 'Be not afraid' and when Thomas intellectually doubted, Jesus allowed him to touch the reality of his risen body.  Thomas found out Jesus was not a visual hallucination or an ephemeral group psychotic experience produced by desperate wishful thinking.  He was the real deal.

I don't know with any certainty whether being 'spiritual but not religious' is bad for one's mental health.  What I do know is that seeking out non ordinary experiences without meditating on the potential consequences, and this includes drug use, can be bad for one's mental health.  Maybe the moral of the story is 'be careful what you wish for because it may not be what you expect.'

I Change To An Enlightened Commenting System

After giving this some thought I have decided to switch to Disqus as a commenting system.  I had a number of reasons for the switch, the primary one having been my own difficulties with the Captcha system for Blogger.  I also began to seriously appreciate being able to track my own comments on blogs and webzines that use the Disqus system.   Then there is the fact editing comments on Disqus is much simpler, which it isn't simple at all on Blogger.  I also like the fact readers can flag comments they find inappropriate by clicking on the arrow in the upper right hand corner.  I will be notified when a comment is flagged.

For those who haven't used Disqus before, you do have to register with the system, but it's easy.  For that matter installing the system on this blog was much easier than I had anticipated.  The good thing is that once registered you will never have to bother with a Captcha or security code ever again.  Thank God.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

A Survey Of German Catholics Points To Some Serious Disconnect With German Bishops


German Catholic reformers out for a little stroll where the hills are alive with the sound of music.

German Catholics have had a tumultuous few years.  First there was the ongoing German abuse crisis and then the revelation that their bishops were the proud owners of one of Germany's largest porn houses, and then the Church tax issue and just lately they found out Catholic rape victims aren't going to get treated in Catholic hospitals lest treating rape victims violate Catholic medical ethics.  Given all of this it's not surprising German Catholics are dissatisfied.  The following article describes a small but in depth study done by a group controlled by the German bishops.  The results are not encouraging for the German bishops.  Article courtesy of Vatican Insider. 

German Catholics vent their dissatisfaction with the Church

A study on Germany's Catholic community reveals the discontent of faithful with the ecclesiastical institution. But proposals for solutions are lacking

Alessandro Alviani - Vatican Insider - 1/25/2013 Berlin - The Pope’s ecclesiastical policies are “backward-looking” and suspected of trying to take the Church back to the pre-Second Vatican Council period. As for the Church’s leaders, they are “cut off from reality, reactionary and obstructionist.”

This is the opinion German faithful have of Benedict XVI and the Catholic Church according to a study by Sinus Institute and consulting agency MDG (which the German Church controls). In-depth interviews were conducted with 100 Catholics from different social backgrounds. According to the study, which picks up on a similar one carried out in 2005, German faithful are convinced that today’s Church finds itself in a “desolate situation” and the most obvious manifestation of this is the sex abuse scandal.
The authors of the study wrote that the scandal seriously damaged the image of the Church, even in the eyes of the most fervent Catholics, whose faith was deeply shaken. The scandal was seen as confirmation of the Church’s “modernization deficit”. The Church lost a great deal of credibility not just as a result of the accusations of paedophilia made against it  but also because many believe it dealt with the abuse issue inadequately.
Internal dogma and rules that had been tacitly accepted until about a year ago are now openly criticised by faithful. Criticisms range from complaints about “discrimination against women” and celibacy, to the condemnation of homosexuality,  contraception and sex outside wedlock, to the marginalisation of lay people involved in Church life. (I wonder if instead of 'tacitly accepted' a better description might be endured in silence.)

Another factor that is creating animosity, is the organisational restructuring that is taking place in Germany, with a number of parishes being merged because of the shortage in parish priests, for example.
The study also shows the Church’s detachment from the weakest sections of society: it would make no difference to the lower social classes if  the Church ceased to exist. (This is the most damning sentence in this whole article.)
Despite their criticisms, however, faithful still look to the Church for “spiritual guidance” and “meaning”. The majority of them do not want to lose their Catholic identity and few consider leaving the Church.
So what do German faithful expect from the Church? They want lay people involved in the Church to play a greater role; they want more women in leadership roles; the possibility for women to be ordained priests; the elimination of celibacy; a different attitude towards sexuality and contraception; the sacraments to be administrated to all Christians, regardless of their denomination or sexual identity; less ostentation and less abuse of power and a greater focus on God’s love and love for one’s neighbour.


It would be interesting to get more information on this study, because limited as it is in numbers, only 100 participants, it appears from this article to have been an in depth kind of survey.  A couple of findings are really intriguing.  The first one is the statement that open criticism has increased dramatically in the last year. Given the number of less than flattering stories that have come out of Germany since 2011 it's easy to see where the frustration level may be very high amongst German Catholics.  It doesn't seem that having a German Pope appoint a German head of the CDF has made much difference.  German nationalism is not trumping German Catholic frustration.  I find that important because it seems to me a true understanding of what Jesus taught should transcend nationalism or tribalism.  Catholics should have a global outlook, not a provincial outlook.

The other tidbit I found very disturbing is the assertion that in the lower social economic classes it would make no difference if the Church ceased to exist.  That is also a trend in the US as more and more inner city parishes are closed in favor of wealthier suburban parishes.  The truth is the Church has no reason to exist if it abandons the poorest of the flock.  In the US,  the strategy of chasing after the monied classes has not been particularly effective except with some people at the very pinnacle of the financial pyramid.  People who have more financial freedom coupled with the education that buys, are less inclined to follow authoritarian religious figures.  The virtual refusal of Western Catholics to follow Humanae Vitae would be one example of outright rejection of the kind of authoritarian edicts previous generations, without that freedom or education, routinely obeyed without question.  They accepted such edicts as part of their Catholic identity.  Not any more.

It seems to me the abuse crisis has been the final straw for Catholics who still held onto vestiges of unquestioning obedience.  It's taken 10+ years, but Catholics now have enough information to know the clerical abuse phenomenon was global and systemic,  and the response orchestrated from the Vatican was consistent, demanded under a vow of pontifical silence, and obeyed without question.  Victims came last, protecting the reputation of the clergy came first.  It was all smoke and mirrors if not outright lies. Now the danger becomes lay Catholics asking if the whole shebang isn't all smoke and mirrors and outright lies.  Which brings me to my last thought.  

According to this survey, German Catholics still look to the Church for spiritual guidance and 'meaning'.  Lots of people still look to the Church for spiritual guidance and meaning.  That is very different from looking for all the answers for morality and life itself or seeking personal salvation from the wrath of a vengeful God.  It leads to a need for a different kind of leadership and leadership structure.  It expects inclusion and welcome and meaningful believable answers to the age old questions.  Some of those answers will never change because they are indeed truth, and those answers are all about the power of love and compassion. It's about the importance of non judgmental acceptance of people where they are at as the first step in moving beyond that place.  It's about that whole yearning for more emphasis on God's love for us and our love for our neighbor. For this kind of catholic the reality of God's love manifested in and through the Church is a whole lot more real and important than any notion of papal infallibility or apostolic succession.  Our apostolic successors and infallible pope should give serious consideration to this fact before they make themselves totally irrelevant.

Bishop Finn Shoots At The Messenger In His Backyard

Bishop Finn ponders his options with the National Catholic Reporter and comes up with very little meaningful action.  Maybe NCR can do some investigating as to why this Opus Dei member is still a bishop and why OD Archbishop Gomez hasn't uttered a peep about the abuse revelations in his own Archdiocese of Los Angeles. 

This morning all the conservative Catholic websites and web magazines are carrying the same story. Bishop Finn of NCR's home diocese has issues with the National Catholic Reporter. I can't imagine why Bishop Finn in particular would have issues with NCR. However, he's mostly concerned not with their coverage of his own particular news worthy problems, but NCR's editorials supporting women's ordination, their lack of enthusiasm for other pelvic issues, and secretly, their continual reporting about abuse and corruption in the Church.

Bishop: National Catholic Reporter undermines Church teaching

.- Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-Saint Joseph announced his discouragement that the National Catholic Reporter has failed to live up to the “Catholic” portion of its name.

“In light of the number of recent expressions of concern, I have a responsibility as the local bishop to instruct the Faithful about the problematic nature of this media source which bears the name 'Catholic,'” he wrote in his Jan. 25 column for his diocesan paper, “The Catholic Key”.

His comments on the National Catholic Reporter came in the context of World Communications Day, held on Jan. 24. He noted that the day is celebrated then as it is the the feast of Saint Francis de Sales, patron of journalists and the Catholic press.

Bishop Finn reflected on the role bishops play in fostering Catholic media, and their responsibility over local media for the promotion and protection of the faith.

The bishop noted that he is well-pleased with The Catholic Key and its staff, who “use the paper to teach Catholic doctrine, to provide trustworthy reflections on issues that take place in our culture, and to provide stories of apostolic life and work – particularly from our local diocese – that inspire us to live our Catholic faith more fully.”

Bishop Finn said he is similarly happy with the Catholic radio station located in the diocese, KEXS 1090, for helping Catholics to “know and live their faith.”

In contrast to these positive, faithful Catholic media outlets located in the Kansas City-Saint Joseph diocese, Bishop Finn examined the National Catholic Reporter.

“I have received letters and other complaints about NCR from the beginning of my time here,” saod Bishop Finn, who was consecrated the diocese's coadjutor in May, 2004.

He continued, “In the last months I have been deluged with emails and other correspondence from Catholics concerned about the editorial stances of the Reporter: officially condemning Church teaching on the ordination of women, insistent undermining of Church teaching on artificial contraception and sexual morality in general, lionizing dissident theologies while rejecting established Magisterial teaching, and a litany of other issues.”

He noted that the problem of the National Catholic Reporter did not start under his time as bishop.

“Bishop Charles Helmsing in October of 1968 issued a condemnation of the National Catholic Reporter and asked the publishers to remove the name 'Catholic' from their title – to no avail. From my perspective, NCR’s positions against authentic Church teaching and leadership have not changed trajectory in the intervening decades.”

He noted that early on in his time as bishop he asked that the Reporter “submit their bona fides as a Catholic media outlet in accord with the expectations of Church law.”

“They declined to participate,” he wrote, “indicating that they considered themselves an 'independent newspaper which commented on 'things Catholic.'' At other times, correspondence has seemed to reach a dead end.”  (Unfortunately for Bishop Finn, this is the crux of the matter and there isn't anything he can do about it.)

Bishop Finn wrote that “While I remain open to substantive and respectful discussion with the legitimate representatives of NCR, I find that my ability to influence the National Catholic Reporter toward fidelity to the Church seems limited to the supernatural level.”  (That's a very inventive way of admitting there's nothing I can do about it.)

Noting Bishop Finn's column, Edward Peters, professor of canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, posited that National Catholic Reporter's use of “Catholic” in their title is canonically illicit.

“There is simply zero question about this assertion, for they 'claim the name Catholic without the consent of the competent ecclesiastical authority.' Second, once one is shown to be acting illegally under canon law, a number of canonical responses to illicit activity come into play including precepts, the invocation of penal law, and certain sacramental consequences for organizational leadership,” Peters wrote Jan. 25 at “In the Light of the Law.” (Mr Peters has become the go to Canon Lawyer for conservative Catholics and his son runs one of the biggest and first of the conservative Catholic blogs--American Papist.)

Bishop Finn's column concluded as it began, with an appeal to St. Francis de Sales.

Realizing that by natural means he has been unable to bring the Reporter to fidelity to the Church, he wrote: “For this we pray: St. Francis DeSales, intercede for us.”


Poor Bishop Finn, cursed with the National Catholic Reporter in his own Diocese on top of all his legal difficulties. What's a poor Bishop to do when he's inundated with emails and letters from disgruntled conservatives who resent their precious idea of the meaning of 'Catholic' being drug through the mud by those heretics at NCR?  Unfortunately for both the Bishop and disgruntled conservatives, the founders of the National Catholic Reporter chose their name wisely and they never did claim to offer themselves as orthodox teachers, just reporters on 'All Things Catholic".  

When a newspaper is actually reporting, and not practicing apologetics, they can report on things like Bishop Finn's inept criminal attempt to cover for a sexually abusing priest, or a psychopathic sexual predator masquerading as the founder of a conservative religious order, or an independent unaccountable bank pretending to protect 'charitable offerings' while laundering drug money for the Mafia and Central American drug cartels.  It's just that reporting on those kinds of 'Catholic things' doesn't enhance the brand identity. Obedient loyal Catholics are not supposed to report on things, even sickeningly true things, that damage the brand identity.  And they certainly don't question the rationale and source of authority for some illogical and self serving magisterial teachings.

I did notice though, that Bishop Finn didn't really address the actual reporting of the National Catholic Reporter.  He limited himself to editorials and he is correct, the NCR has taken some less than orthodox editorial stances.  Given the Vatican's sudden increase in disciplining priests who discuss unorthodox things, I wouldn't be surprised if Bishop Finn gets emboldened enough to threaten to excommunicate NCR's editorial board.  Nothing better than a good distraction,  especially when the LA sex abuse crisis is exploding in the faces of Cardinal Mahony and Bishop Curry. Bishop Finn may feel he owes some of his fellow bishops, or at least one fellow OD member in LA,  a distracting broadside at the National Catholic Reporter as a sort of payback for not saying anything about his refusal to excommunicate himself from their ranks.  

But whatever Finn hoped to accomplish, and from his own writing it seems not much, he has given the conservative Catholic media world a story to get all excited about---as opposed to that odious stuff coming out of Los Angeles which has done more to scandalize more faithful than anyone news outlet could ever hope to accomplish.

Monday, January 21, 2013

More Vatican 'Help' For The Novus Ordo Is On The Way

By the time Pope Benedict meets his maker, he and his predecessor will have proven in spades, two popes outrank an ecumenical council.  In the meantime the exodus out the doors will have more or less destroyed the living Church in the West.

Vatican Preparing a Manual to Help Priests Celebrate Mass

Prefect Warns Against Making Liturgy Into a 'Show'

H. Sergio Mora - ROME, January 16, 2013 ( Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments is preparing a booklet to help priests celebrate the Mass properly and the faithful to participate better, according to the prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments.
Cardinal Antonio Cañizares confirmed this Tuesday at an address at the Spanish Embassy to the Holy See on "Catholic Liturgy since Vatican II: Continuity and Evolution."
"We are preparing it; it will help to celebrate well and to participate well. I hope it will come out this year, in the summer," the cardinal told ZENIT.

During his talk the cardinal reiterated the importance Vatican II gave to the liturgy, "whose renewal must be understood in continuity with the Tradition of the Church and not as a break or discontinuity." A break either because of innovations that do not respect continuity or because of an immobility that  freezes everything at Pius XII, he said. (It's beginning to look like the only aspects not frozen with Pius XII will be the use of the vernacular.  Well, at least the latinized version of the vernacular.)

In particular, Cardinal Cañizares stressed the importance that Sacrosanctum Concilium gave to the sacred liturgy, through which "the work of our Redemption is exercised, above all in the divine sacrifice of the Eucharist," adding that "God wants to be adored in a concrete way and it's not up to us to change it."
The cardinal said that there is talk of a renewed Church, which must not be understood as a mere reform of structures, but as a change starting with the liturgy, because it is from the liturgy that the work of our salvation is effected. (I am at a loss as to where God has specifically given concrete directions for how He wants to be worshiped. Perhaps this just didn't translate well.)

When speaking of the liturgy, continued the cardinal, one must not forget what the conciliar document states: "Christ is always present in his Church, especially in the liturgical action. He is present in the sacrifice of the Mass, be it in the person of the minister, 'offering himself now through the ministry of the priests as he then offered himself on the cross,' be it especially under the Eucharistic species."
He stressed that the objective of the liturgy "is the adoration of God and the salvation of men," which is not a creation of ours, but source and summit of the Church." (Back in time we go to a theology which elevates the priest and elevates the atonement aspects of one tradition of Catholic theology above any others.)

The prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments criticized existing abuses such as showmanship, and praised moments of silence "that are action," which enable the priest and the faithful to talk with Jesus Christ and which exclude the predominance of words that often becomes showmanship on the part of the priest. The correct attitude is the one "indicated by Saint John the Baptist, when he says he must decrease and the Messiah must increase."

The cardinal criticized the effort to make the Mass "entertaining" with certain songs -- instead of focusing on the mystery -- in an attempt to overcome "boredom" by transforming the Mass into a show.

He added that the Council did not speak of the priest celebrating Mass facing the people, that it stressed the importance of Christ on the altar, reflected in Benedict XVI's celebration of the Mass in the Sistine Chapel facing the altar. This does not exclude the priest facing the people, in particular during the reading of the word of God. He stressed the need of the notion of mystery, and particulars such as the altar facing East and the fact that the sacrificial sense of the Eucharist must not be lost. (So here it is, by the summer Rome will have declared that priests once again face the wall and the traditionalists will have won yet another liturgical point without input from any other views.)


Slowly but ever so surely, the Novus Ordo is being 'reformed' into the vernacular version of the Tridentine Rite.  The Vatican could have saved everyone a lot of angst with a little honesty.  They could have come out of their Tridentine closet years ago and just said" "those of us who grew up in the Latin Rite and enjoyed all that priestly status it entailed, do not like this more egalitarian Mass which de emphasizes mystery and priestly magic for the sake of community and lay involvement.  The lay don't need to be involved.  They can be bored or pray their rosaries."  The fact it's taken them this long only means that now we can fiddle with our smart phones or read our Ipads without fearing any dirty looks from the priest who will conveniently once again have his back to us.

I keep going back to the one meditation I did about six years ago when I was shown that the Vatican would indeed do everything in it's power to roll back the core concepts of Vatican II, that collegiality would give way to dictatorship, that subsidiarity would give way to micro management from Rome, that the laity would again be reduced to passive sponges,  that the Mass would once again return to a magic ritual in which the Resurrection would take a very very distant second place to Crucifixion so necessary for atonement theology and a male priesthood, and that the Way Jesus taught would be buried under papal idolatory and papal decrees.

So far this is all coming true, and it's abusive in it's execution.  I had hoped that the sexual abuse scandal would at least delay the implementation of some of this, but once JPII started appointing bishops on the basis of loyalty oaths rather than ability, that became an empty hope.  Pope Benedict has only accelerated the process, and the older he gets, the more acceleration, as if his goal is to have everything back in it's proper pre Vatican II order before he dies.  He's probably going to get his mission accomplished, but at what price?
How many souls must be turned away to save the few who will be left in the West.  Apparently it doesn't matter and that is the saddest part of all of this 'reform'.

The Vatican Men Take Pro Athletics Under Their Broken Wing

I tried to find a photo of a Cardinal in a track suit, and all I could come up with is a FLYIN' FATHER in a cassock.  Check out this link.  The Flying Fathers represent my idea of Catholic values in sports. Plus they cheat.
It's good to know that when the Vatican is not protecting us from priests who wonder about reforming a few things, they are always searching for other avenues in which to assert Catholic moral values. Now it's professional athletics.  Personally I think they are way too late to save professional athletics from itself, but what ever.  The following article is taken from Catholic News Service and written by Carol Glatz.

Vatican to enlist Christian all-stars to help scandal-ridden sports

In an effort to flex its moral muscle in the professional sports arena, the Vatican has invited top-tier Christian athletes Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lin to help bring ethical values back to a scandal-ridden world of sports.

The Pontifical Council for Culture is planning to host an international conference on re-instilling values in sports this spring, inviting representatives from top world governing bodies like FIFA (the International Federation of Association Football), the International Cycling Union and the Italian National Olympic Committee. (Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lynn? Why no Catholic athletes? Baseball and hockey have tons of Catholic athletes.)
Msgr. Melchor Sanchez de Toca Alameda, head of the council's "Culture and Sport" section, told Catholic News Service on Wednesday that pro sports "have become a commodity that is subordinate to the free market and, therefore, to profit." (The Vatican truly does move at a glacial pace.  That economic thing happened over a century ago.)

Instead of sports being an activity that builds important values, respects human dignity and helps shape the whole human person, "it has reduced people to merchandise," he said. (The athletes went right along with this, like a lot of entertainers.)

U.S. cyclist Lance Armstrong's admission to doping was just the tip of the iceberg, he said, since high-stakes commercial interests pressure almost every professional cyclist into the illegal practice. The world of cycling and soccer is "a world that is rotten," he said.

"We want to work with the big sports bodies to give new value to sports" and the upcoming conference -- titled "We Believe in Sports" -- will be one way to get that initiative started, the monsignor said.
The council will also have Catholic and Christian athletes in attendance, to give witness to how the worlds of faith and sports can easily come together. (Actually they don't come together so easily. One can't help but wonder why neither Tebow nor Lynn are with the teams they were with when their fame as Christian poster children became widespread.)

He said the council hoped its participant line-up would include two high-profile Christian U.S. sports stars: NFL quarterback Tebow of the Denver Broncos, and NBA basketball player Lin of the Houston Rockets.
The goal of the conference is two-fold, Sanchez de Toca said.
First: "to help put healthy values back into sport and counteract the current market logic, because if the current state of affairs continues, all is lost." (It was lost a long time ago. Or as a very famous Catholic football coach, Vince Lombardi, stated fifty years ago: "Winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."  The best Tim can do is win one for Jesus, but it's still all about competition and winning, and not about Jesus.)

Second: to help the church see sport as an important resource for future priests, Catholic schools, parishes and catechists. (Ohhh I get it, to find priests who pass for macho straight athletes, like uhmmm, I know!  Georg Ganswein.)

The former-modern pentathlete-turned-priest said the council also wants to hold a "Race of Faith" -- a 100-meter jog, shuffle or sprint up the Via della Conciliazione toward St. Peter's Square during the gathering.
"We want to see lots of cardinals in tracksuits, too," he said.  (I might actually buy a ticket to see Cardinal Burke shuffle in a tracksuit with his matching socks and shoes.  Undoubtedly he would be sponsored by any number of clerical designers and tailors.)


I have a tough time understanding why the Vatican thinks it has all the answers for absolutely everything.  In the first place I think cleaning up professional athletics should be a lay thing, not that I really think the laity will be able to clean up professional athletics while buying tickets to professional athletic events and thereby feeding the beast.  The laity have been singularly incapable of using this same strategy with Hollywood.  When it's about money and competition, money and competition are what it's about.  Those are the only values that count.  Everyone must agree with that or we would stop supporting professional athletics. 
I am not being a personal hypocrite here, after spending months complaining about greedy hockey players and owners, I'm right back into hockey after exactly two days of actual play.  When one is pretty much aware they are part of the problem, it behooves one not to pretend they can be much help in the solution.  Which is precisely why I find the idea of Tim Tebow and Jeremy Lynn as part of the solution to put values back in professional sports something of a joke.  Right....maybe when they both play for free, or in Tebow's case when he only gets paid for the minutes he actually plays and not for the minutes he prays.
In any event, my idea of Catholic clergy getting involved in sports really is the Flyin' Fathers'.  Over the course of the teams existence they have made over 6 million for charity and brought a great deal of joy doing so.  OK so they cheat to win and that's why their record is 900 wins in 906 games. They are honest about that and possess a certain amount of integrity in their honesty.  At least they don't threaten damnation when they lose and they know from personal experience the sin bin is a temporary banishment, and not a permanent excommunication.  Shoot, maybe they should run the Vatican.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Irish Redemptorist Fr Tony Flannery Gets The Ray Bourgeios Treatment From The CDF

Pope Benedict shakes his crozier at yet another dedicated priest who made the mistake of discussing women's ordination.  Is this not the 21st Century or does this Pope really think the Church never changes.

Irish Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery has been given a set of orders from the CDF in which he must recant certain past statements involving the ordination of women, homosexuality, birth control, and divorce and remarriage.  Fr Flannery was one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests, and he has also been banned from working with that group until he writes a letter to be approved by the CDF renouncing his previously mentioned indiscretions.  Essentially he faces the same banishment from the Redemptorists and excommunication/laicization leveled on Fr Roy Bourgeios.  Loyalty must truly be a one way street in the Vatican.  The following article is taken from the ACP website.  The story is also in today's NY Times. This stuff is nauseating.


Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery is threatened with excommunication from the Catholic Church for suggesting that, in the future, women might become priests and calling for this and other matters to be open for discussion. Fr. Flannery, (66) who joined the Redemptorists in 1964 at seventeen and was ordained ten years later, has been told that if he is to remain in the Church and in his Congregation, he must also guarantee not to attend meetings of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) until he has publicly agreed to the conditions laid down.

Fr. Flannery was forbidden to minister as a priest for most of the past year, and this will continue until he meets the requirements of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
“I have been ordered not to engage with the media or publish any books or articles,”
he told a press briefing in Dublin today. “I have also been ordered not to have any involvement, public or private, with the ACP. I was put under a formal precept of obedience not to attend the AGM of the ACP last November by Michael Brehl, Superior General of the Redemptorists. But he made it clear he’d been instructed by the CDF to issue it.”

Fr Flannery will be allowed back into ministry only if he writes, signs and publishes an article (pre-approved by the CDF) accepting the Catholic Church can never ordain women to the priesthood and accepting all Church stances on contraception, homosexuality, and the refusal of the sacraments to people in second relationships.

“I could not possibly put my name to such an article without impugning my own integrity and conscience,” he said today. “The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is orchestrating all this while refusing to communicate with me. I have had no direct communication with them. I have never been given an opportunity to meet my accusers, or to understand why this action is being taken against me when I’ve raised the same issues, consistently, for decades.”

The documentation Fr Flannery received, apparently from the CDF took the form of a typed A4 page (not a letterhead) which was unsigned.
“The only reason that I can be sure that this came from the CDF is that Michael Brehl, the head of the Redemptorists, told me it did,” he said. “All requests for direct communication with the CDF have been ignored.””
Fr. Flannery described as “frightening, disproportionate and reminiscent of the Inquisition” the actions against him.

“I have served the Church, the Redemptorists and the People of God for two thirds of my life,” he pointed out. “Throughout that time, I have in good conscience raised issues I believed important for the future of the Church in books and essays largely read by practicing Catholics, rather than raising them in mainstream media. I’m hardly a major and subversive figure within the Church deserving excommunication and expulsion from the religious community within which I have lived since my teens.”

The choice facing him, he stated at a press briefing today, Sunday 20th January, was between deciding between Rome and his conscience.
“I must also question if the threats are a means, not just of terrifying me into submission, but of sending a message to any other priest expressing views at variance with those of the Roman Curia,” he added. “Submitting to these threats would be a betrayal of my ministry, my fellow priests and the Catholic people who want change.”

Fr. Flannery said that because he believes he is being subjected to unfair treatment, he has taken legal advice under Canon and Civil law to help him defend his rights as a member of the Church and as an Irish citizen. (At which point he will find out like Roy Bourgeios that he has no rights in this current Vatican.)


I have to be honest, there is a part of me that just can't believe this kind of thing is happening in Roman Catholicism in the 21st century.  I'm not just talking about the inquisitional flavor of how priests like Fr Flannery are being taken out and silenced, but more so the incomprehensible fact that the priesthood of pedophiles like Marcial Maciel was protected by the same cast of characters that excommunicate other priests over women's ordination.  Has Catholicism in it's Vatican heart reached such a nadir that pedophile priests who rape and sexually abuse children have more rights with in the Vatican than priests who speak on the issue of women's ordination?  Is questioning an intellectual position about a priestly discipline really considered more grave than actually abusing the physical bodies of children and utterly undermining their connection with their own existence?  

I get that Pope Benedict and his cronies really and truly want a much smaller more compliant Roman Catholic Church in the West.  I also get that they don't appear to give a rat's ass about how many lay Catholics they drive from the faith anymore than they ever gave a damn about any abused children.  In the end this is all about maintaining the current clerical system and nothing else.  This is the reason Pope Benedict has so frequently stated the Church must be pruned.  This is a strategy designed to disempower protest and reform movements before they can be effective.  It essentially states "we don't care what you think, you are not real members of our Church, so we don't have to pay any attention to anything you say". 

If Satan actually exists, his post office box is in Vatican City, where the smoke of Satan is so strong some people seem to think it's incense and others are just choking on it. 

In France Some Catholic Bishops Don't Appear To Be On Pope Benedict's Wavelength

I can't actually figure out if this gentleman is protesting for or against gay marriage, but I'm sure this somehow threatens civilization as I know it.

Hmmm, seems like the French hierarchy are not all on the same page when it comes to homosexuals and homosexual unions.  Here's an article about this conflict as posted on one of my favorite UberCatholic propaganda sites, LifeSiteNews.  There appears to be a group of bishops whose secular approach to the issue of gay civil unions has the Catholic sin police all upset. Be sure to check out the comments after the article.  They make one proud to be a cafeteria Catholic.
French Catholic bishops endorsing homosexual unions, undermining pro-family cause, warn activists

by Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
PARIS, January 16, 2013 ( - The Conference of the Bishops of France (CEF) is making a mistake in endorsing an improved "Pact of Civil Solidarity" for homosexuals as an alternative to instituting homosexual 'marriage', in contradiction to Catholic teaching, warns the French pro-family association Avenir de la Future (Future of the Culture).

The organization of faithful Catholics are reacting to a document published recently by the Bishops' Conference's Family and Society Committee, which implies homosexual relationships could be given a strengthened legal recognition, while not going so far as to equate such unions with marriage.

While the Vatican teaches that "all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions," the French Bishops' document states that "the Catholic Church calls the faithful to live a [homosexual] relationship in chastity, but it recognizes, beyond its sexual aspect, the value of solidarity, of attention and of concern for the other that can arise in a durable affective relationship. The Church intends to be welcoming regarding homosexual persons and will continue to make its contribution to the struggle against every form of homophobia and discrimination." (Seems our self proclaimed faithful heterosexual French Catholics don't think even chaste gay relationships should be given any legal recognition.)

The document, entitled, "Extend marriage to people of the same sex? Open the debate!," also states that "the request to extend marriage to people of the same sex challenges society to seek new ways to live out our differences within a state of equality," and "an evolution of family law is always possible."

The Catholic Church repudiated by its own bishops?

According to Avenir de la Culture, the document seems to reflect the sentiments of Gerard Daucourt, bishop of Nanterre, and numerous other bishops who have made even more explicit statements insinuating the endorsement of homosexual unions, including an "improved" Pact of Civil Solidarity (PACS).

Prior to the Family and Society statement, Daucourt had told the news agency France Iter: "I, for my part, want to take heed of homosexual unions, I want to recognize them, accompany them. I have known a certain number of homosexual couples," adding: "I don't want it to be called marriage, that's all."

"So then, there is the PACS. I think that they could improve it. Look, I would be rather disposed to that (...) I myself have no desire for a direct opposition, but rather to dialogue, to explain," said Daucourt.

The Pact of Civil Solidarity (PACS) to which Bishop Daucourt refers is a contract, considered far less than a civil union, that can be granted both to homosexuals and heterosexuals, which can be dissolved at will by either party, and gives tax advantages to the couple as if they were married. (And does not allow for adoption by these couples--gay or straight.)

Daucourt also denounced the Catholic Church itself for what he regarded as "discrimination" against homosexuals.

"This has grave consequences, because we know that the people most directly concerned are homosexual persons, who have suffered so much and who have been condemned for centuries by the Church and by a certain number of people in the Church," the bishop said. "I think that this is terrible for people who still suffer discrimination of which they have been the object on the part of the Church and by many others, and which they still suffer today."

Avenir de la Culture documents that numerous other French bishops have spoken similarly, expressing sympathy for homosexual unions and advocating legal protections for them, and denouncing what they regard as "persecution" of homosexuals historically, including Bishop Hippolyte Simon of Clermont-Ferrand (vice-president of the Episcopal Conference), Bishop Bernard Ginoux of Montauban, Bishop Michel Pansard of Chartres, Bishop Bruno Grua of Saint-Flour, Bishop Francois Fonlupt of Rodez, Bishop Philippe Gueneley of Langres, Bishop Jacques Blaquart of Orleans, Archbishop Armand Maillard of Bourges, Bishop Vincent Jordy of Saint-Claude, Bishop Jean-Charles Descubes of Rouen, Bishop Bernard Housset of La Rochelle.

The organization also notes that while Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, has ringingly denounced homosexual "marriage" as potentially leading to the approval of incest, other bishops failed to support him when he was condemned in the press for the comments and some even rejected his words publicly. (Not surprising many of his fellow bishops wouldn't support a completely unsubstantiated slur against gays. How is 'religious truth' served by outright lies?)

In response to the bishops' statements, Avenir de la Culture asks: "Should one conclude that, for a homosexual person, it is preferable to live in cohabitation, a permanent occasion of sin?" The organization notes that the bishops' Family and Society Committee has produced "six pages of unclear commentary to arrive at the same conclusion expressed in a more frank way by Bishop Daucourt: in place of marriage, we could agree to provide homosexuals with an 'improved PACS.'"

The organization also notes that "in 85 episcopal declarations regarding the 'marriage for everyone' bill, except for a few references (...) there is NOTHING, ABSOLUTELY NOTHING religious in the argumentation of the French bishops! Rather to the contrary, the majority have the obvious desire to emphasize that they are expressing themselves in strictly human terms." (Uhmm, maybe there's nothing religious in their argumentation because France is a secular state as opposed to a Catholic theocracy.)

The bishops contradict Pope Benedict XVI ... and even themselves

Avenir de la Culture observes that the bishops' approach is contrary to Pope Benedict XVI's clear rejection of all homosexual unions, made while he was the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in 2003, and also seems to contradict the French bishops' own statements denouncing PACS in the late 1990s, when they were first proposed.

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, writing at that time with the authority of the Papal magisterium, declared in 2003 that "There are absolutely no grounds for considering homosexual unions to be in any way similar or even remotely analogous to God's plan for marriage and family. Marriage is holy, while homosexual acts go against the natural moral law.

Quoting the Catechism of the Catholic Church, Ratzinger noted that homosexual acts constitute "serious depravity" and "close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved."

He added that "all Catholics are obliged to oppose the legal recognition of homosexual unions."

In 1998, the bishops of France themselves warned that PACS would be "worthless and dangerous" and would create "a new status of relationship that risks the further destruction of the meaning of the couple and of the family."


When it comes to gays, our French Temple Police have now decided it's in the best interest of gay Catholics to ban them from even the 'near occasion' of sin, therefor even chaste gay relationships can not be legally approved.  After all, those 'chaste' relationships can never be proven to be chaste. One would have to take the word of those chaste gay Catholics seriously and being already disordered in an intrinsic way, that is apparently too big a leap for any self respecting self proclaimed Faithful Catholic.  Just as an aside, I sometimes wish I was a self proclaimed True Catholic because I find it much easier to mind everyone else's morality than to adequately deal with my own, but unfortunately, I've moved past that trap.

This articles does point out that not all French bishops are on the same Vatican page. This might have prompted this rebuttal from French Cardinal Poupard.  In this interview with Vatican Insider he states:
 “We cannot bow down in the face of society’s destruction, caused by a new conception of sexuality that is sparking an anthropological revolution based on gender ideology. In this way, the Pope once clarified, humans deny their own nature and decide that not only is this nature a preconceived fact but they create it themselves. It is the Church’s task to defend non negotiable values so that these translate into political action.”
Cardinal Poupard also drags out the old tired Vatican canard that gay unions threaten civilization. But again does not explain just what that threat is, unless it's Pope Benedict's words on the evils of gender bending. This is so not easy take since every time I see another photo of Cardinal Burke in his ever so expensive clerical drag, I get my gender bent all out of shape.  Or hear our male hierarchy wax ever so eloquently about Holy Mother Church, or how they represent the People of God as the Bride of Christ, or propose that mothers of priests are somehow then daughters of their father/sons. And I'm still trying to understand why opting for celibacy or declaring oneself a 'vowed virgin' isn't an intentional denial of human nature to procreate. It's all very head scratching and seems to envelope a number of double standards.  Speaking of which, this story has to take the case for most bizarre clerical gender bending.  The cross dressing mentioned in the article does not refer to dressing an actual cross.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Yesterday Was The Trees, Today Is The Forest

In the States the War on Women can generate a little humor.  Not so in other parts of the world where the reality is much different and far bloodier.

As the Vatican continues to ramp up opposition to gay marriage in France and England, and in the US the USCCB continues to plan for another "Fortnight for Freedom", violence against women in more traditional cultures is increasing.  On Friday there was another gang rape of a woman on a bus in India.  This time the woman lived and reported the rape.  The police have arrested six of her attackers.  The following excerpt is from Salon.  It's part of an extended interview with David Jacobson, a University of South Florida sociologist, whose book "Of Virgins and Martyrs: Women and Sexuality in Global Conflict" will come out later this month.  The article was written by Tracy Clarke-Flory.  I have started the excerpt at the end of her introduction to Mr Jacobson's book.

It’s chiefly an ideological divide of “honor” versus “self-possession” — or, as he puts it in the book, “who owns and control’s one’s body, especially when it comes to women: is it the individual herself or the community, through enforced practices of honor, virginity, veiling, and marriage?”
What Jacobson does beautifully in his accessibly academic book is differentiate between politicized Islamist patriarchy and “the broader Muslim community,” the former being “a core expression of a deeper global fissure,” he explains. “In an honor society, patriarchal and tribal traditions dictate that a woman’s body belongs to and serves the community. … An interest-based society privileges self-determination, the sovereignty of the individual over her body, and ownership of one’s own capital, be it economic, cultural, or social.” As globalization improves the status of many women, it also incites a ferocious backlash against them.

..... Why is female sexuality at the heart of some of our most significant global conflicts?
It’s extraordinary. What we’ve seen in Delhi recently is a horrifying symptom of this broader global phenomenon. The more patriarchal a society, the more vicious the backlash to the integration of women, not just in the labor market and education but to the growing autonomy of women in areas from fashion to consumerism to marriage. I think what’s happening is that women’s sexuality and women’s status has really become the hinge of two very different visions of society and visions of morality. What we’ve seen in recent decades is that women have been making these extraordinary strides in the aggregate. As a consequence, women’s sexuality has become this battleground and this backlash of the most patriarchal elements that control it. We can see women’s progress in these areas is dramatic, but it’s much more muted in the most patriarchal corners of the world from Southeast Asia, including India, down through the Middle East to North Africa. India’s an interesting case because, as has been seen in Delhi, it captures both the modern India and the patriarchal India, which get juxtaposed in what we’ve witnessed in these last weeks.


I have to admit I have had a very difficult time understanding why Roman Catholicism has made such a big deal about gay marriage, abortion, and birth control.  I fully understand how these issues undercut a great deal of Catholic theology based in Genesis, and I understand that women's progress is perceived to be coming at the expense of men's rights and gender expectation. I also think all this forward progress for women directly impacts the rights and justifications of Catholicism's insistence on a completely male centric hierarchical church.  Unfortunately while I wandered amongst these trees, I had lost sight of the forest.  The forest is truly all about whether women will be allowed to determine their own reproductive life, or if it really is in the best interests of families, cultures, and nations to force women's reproductive compliance for the 'greater good' of the community. And of course, if women's reproduction is going to be subservient to the needs of the community that means the traditional method of forcing that subservience--male domination--must continue unquestioned.

In the West this is being played out in Roman Catholicism quite loudly over abortion, gay marriage, and birth control. This is happening over birth control even though the conflict was resolved fifty years ago in the minds of most men and most women.  Western culture has mostly accepted that women are indeed capable of determining their own contribution to the future of the community and actually have a right to do so. However, this idea of women's sovereignty over their own bodies has not been accepted in the same way in the developing world. Since the Roman Catholic Church is experiencing growth in these areas, it makes a certain amount of sense to loudly castigate Western notions of female autonomy in order to have a palatable message in these areas and be seen, not as another destabilizing Western influence, but a champion of traditional values. It makes sense to rail against gay marriage as if it has an ability to harm cultures and threaten world peace, not because two people loving each other is a threat, but because it's the inherent gender freedom implied in gay marriage which is the threat and it specifically threatens the most patriarchal and political of the Islamic strains. This is no different than in the West, where the most conservative Christians are also the most ardent proponents of gun rights, the most anti abortion, the most gay phobic, the most likely to insist women belong subservient to their 'loving' husbands, and very much the most political.  They are also the most fearful of change on this profound a level because reproduction is the bottom line which determines the survivability of the community. In this view, women must have children and it's so profound a need, that those that can't have the children MUST control those who do.

Religions have been important in maintaining the idea women's bodies are the property of the community and they have developed all kinds of rationales to support this 'truth'.  In Catholicism this has moved from teaching that women are agents of evil in a way men aren't, to blaming women for the pain and death associated with child birth, to fostering the idea that their lives are subordinate to their fruit of their wombs and that the sacrifices inherent in providing children are the means with which women repay humanity for the sin of Eve. Lately the language has changed to 'women are equal but complimentary to men with the genders having different 'roles'.  It's the same thing, only different less demeaning language.  It is an improvement, at least in the language and rationale sense.  The irrational logic and demeaning language has now shifted to, and is reserved for, homosexuals, but 'homosexuals' really means gay men.

It would be nice if we could debate this issue of whether women have a higher calling to the community to provide children, or have an equal right to provide for their own individual development.  Women in the West have shown it is possible to do both, if one limits the amount of children they have, but for some reason in Catholicism this is still not an option,  even though it was the exact option we are taught that Mary herself opted for in raising Jesus.  It's doubtful that she could have been one of Jesus' followers and at the foot of the cross if she had other children to take care of back in Nazareth.

At one level this idea of women being the property of the community is really a statement about men not trusting women to make legitimate decisions about their own reproductive and child raising capacities.  In that sense it's a story about male domination of women through a need deficit form of motivation.  They need children for various reason, they can't provide them alone, they will force women to do it for them.  It's all for the good of the community.  Their community.  Their community that women are allowed to build and serve, but not have autonomy within as individuals.  Sounds like the Catholic Church to me, which is why the Catholic Church is sounding more and more out of touch with post modern society.

In the meantime the war against women is a hot war in too many areas of the globe and I wish it was possible for Pope Benedict to address this as loudly as he has gay marriage and abortion, but I doubt he can.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

In Britain The Sky Is Falling

Add a Roman Collar and a 1000 more and a person would have a picture of the clerical angst over gay marriage.

 I want to thank Rat-biter for giving me the link to this article in London's Daily Telegraph. Although I've reprinted most of the article, I did edit a few paragraphs.  I also happen to think there is more to the 'chicken little' response from these clergy than the threat of gay marriage.  I think it's what gay marriage represents to too much of their theology.

 Gay marriage could signal return to ‘centuries of persecution’, - say 1,000 Catholic priests

The comments are contained in a letter to The Daily Telegraph, signed by 1,054 priests as well as 13 bishops, abbots and other senior Catholic figures.
They account for almost a quarer of all Catholic priests in England and Wales.
It comes as opponents of gay marriage launch a lobbying campaign targeting MPs in 65 of the most marginal seats.
The Coalition is due to publish its Equal Marriage Bill, allowing couples of the same sex to wed at the end of this month.
Legal opinions commissioned by opponents have argued that teachers could face disciplinary measures under equality laws if they refuse to promote same-sex marriage once the change has been implemented.
Hospital, prison and army chaplains could also face challenges if they preach on marriage being between a man and a woman, it is claimed.

Until 1829 Catholics and other religious dissenters in Britain and Ireland were barred from entering many professions or, in many cases, even meeting to worship under a body of restrictions collectively known as the penal laws.

The priests write: “After centuries of persecution, Catholics have, in recent times, been able to be members of the professions and participate fully in the life of this country.
“Legislation for same sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship.

“It is meaningless to argue that Catholics and others may still teach their beliefs about marriage in schools and other arenas if they are also expected to uphold the opposite view at the same time.”
Arguing that marriage as traditionally understood is “the foundation and basic building block of our society”, they add: “We urge Members of Parliament not to be afraid to reject this legislation now that its consequences are more clear.”  (I fail to see what those consequences are since no religious entity has been taken to court for teaching against divorce, and Catholic clergy do not marry every heterosexual couple whose relationship violates Church precepts. Nor have they been persecuted for such refusals.)

Last night the Bishop of Portsmouth, the Rt Rev Philip Egan, one of the signatories, insisted that the comparison with the penal laws was “dramatic” but not an exaggeration.
“It is quite Orwellian to try to redefine marriage,” he said.
“This is strong language but something like this totalitarian. (And this is a lie with no basis in reality.)

“I am very anxious that when we are preaching in Church or teaching in our Catholic Schools or witnessing to the Christian faith of what marriage is that we are not going to be able to do it – that we could be arrested for being bigots or homophobes.”(You haven't been arrested for teaching against divorce or refusing to marry divorced Catholics.)

Rev Dr Andrew Pinsent, a leading Oxford University theologian, who also signed the letter, said: “We are very sensitive to this historically because of course the reformation started in England as a matter of marriage.
“Henry VIII could have been forgiven for his adultery but he didn’t want to do that, he wanted to control marriage and redefine what was a marriage and wasn’t.(This is pretty simplistic and ignores a whole host of other variables involved in Henry's situation. Not too mention Henry was only interested in his marriage, not every-bodies marriage and he had very specific grounds on which he argued his case.)

“Because the Church would not concede that point, that launched three centuries of great upheaval in English society, and from the Catholic point of view life was very difficult.(The papacy's relationship with Spain had a whole lot more to do with refusing Henry's divorce decree than the Rev Pinsent lets on.)

.....In recent weeks the Archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols, and several other leading Catholics in Britain have stepped up their attacks on David Cameron’s plans, echoing concern in a series of pronouncements from Pope Benedict.
But the letter is the first large scale protest initiated by local priests.
Rev Mark Swires, one of the organisers, said it had taken weeks to compile the signatures but that it showed the strength of opinion in the pews. (No, actually it shows only the level of concern of 25% of the men occupying the pulpits.)
 “This is a grass roots initiative by priests, it isn’t an initiative by the hierarchy of the church.....”


And so now our fearfilled Catholic leadership has degenerated to predicting centuries of persecution if gay marriage is passed.  Since these are supposed to be highly educated men, I can't help but wonder what is it about gay marriage that precipitates such hyperbole.  What are they really afraid of?  

When I look at the acronym GLBT I can't help but notice how little one hears from the pulpit about the "L" and "B" parts. One hears a whole lot more about the "G" and "T" parts. What is it about the "G" and "T" parts that makes them so threatening to Christian clergy, and especially the Vatican.  I think Pope Benedict actually spoke about it in his Christmas message to the curia.  It's the gender bending the "G" and "T" represent, and they do so in ways the "L" and "B" apparently do not, or at least not enough to warrant much mention.  

Gender bending, especially when the latest research in epigenetics is proving the gender bending is a result of genes not starting and stopping their influence on sexual identity and gender development in a normal pattern, destroys the validity of the creation story in Genesis.  We know that Eve did not come from Adam's rib.  All of humanity starts on the Eve pattern until certain genes in the Y chromosome start activating in the 5th to 6th week of gestation.  We also know the brain does not begin it's own gender identification until much later in gestation, at the end of the fifth and beginning of the sixth month, and again this neural development is dependent on certain genes operating in the correct sequencing, producing the correct amount of certain amino acids/hormones.  When this doesn't happen you get gender bending in both sexes.  This is a major problem for religions who base too much of their theology on the gender absolutism of Genesis. In God's real world, neither physical gender not it's expression, is absolute--not by any means.

When the Adam and Eve story is no longer absolutely valid in it's gender definition, then all other theologies which are based on this story are weakened.  Rigid gender typing is a false premise and a great deal of theology is based on rigid gender definitions.  The gender expectations for a Sacramental marriage is just the most historically recent in a long line of teachings which subordinated women to men based on Genesis and the Genesis story of Adam coming first and Eve the product of Adam's body.  I would think it would be pretty difficult to maintain Genesis is correct about women's place in creation when embryology is showing the exact opposite of the Genesis creation story.  I would think demanding conformance to doctrines based on physical genitalia for a number of crucial leadership roles is difficult to maintain when epigenetics is proving gender is not absolute and physical genitalia do not always dictate gender expression.  

When the Vatican looks at the real implications of secular society embracing the facts of science and moving well beyond the notions of gender and gender roles assigned in Genesis, they are seeing the end of their own Genesis inspired status as their male god's exclusive male voices.  No wonder there is fear aplenty in Rome and elsewhere--the Truth may very well set them free, but unfortunately for them,  not on their terms.