Sunday, August 31, 2008

Papal Infallibility and Authentic Relationship

I've been thinking lately about the fallacies of the clerical caste system and it's relationship with the laity. In Paul's letter to the Galatians he makes the following point:
"Before faith came, we were held in custody under law, confined for the faith that was to be revealed.

Consequently, the law was our disciplinarian for Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a disciplinarian.

For through faith you are all children of God in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

The relationship between the clerical caste and the laity is based in separating male from female, ordained from laity, and demands slavish obedience rather than respecting free choice. It mandates a Catholic identity based on law observance rather than life in Christ. In short we are not one in Christ Jesus, we are two distinct classes, one sacred and one profane, one possessing truth and one transgressing truths, one spiritually dominant and one spiritually dependent.

The magisterium continues to promote this class distinction principally through the notions of Apostolic succession and Papal infallibility. The desperation to maintain this veneer of ordained sacred supremacy can be seen in the world wide unified response of secrecy and cover up with regards to clerical sexual abuse.

To me it is somewhat mind boggling that the Institutional Church has not been prosecuted as a criminal pedophile cartel, and this itself is probably indicative of just how ingrained obeisance to the Catholic hierarchy is in the West and the former colonies of the West. In the case of Interpol, this refusal to prosecute the Roman Catholic Church directly contradicts it's mission statement with regards to crimes against children. One cannot look at the response of the Institutional Church to pedophile priests in the last 70 or so years and not see a world wide criminal conspiracy based in secrecy and premeditated cover up orchestrated directly from the Vatican. The existence of the document Crimens Sollicitationes is all the evidence one needs, and it's most recent copy was issued by the hand of Cardinal Ratzinger. Any yet, the Institutional Church is untouched by secular criminal authorities. La Cosa Nostra must be green with jealousy.

Rosemary Ruether touches on these issues in her book Catholic Does Not Equal The Vatican.
She has the following to say about the notion of Papal infallibility: "A church that believes itself infallible in the pronouncements of it's monarchical ruler is a church that has encapsulated itself in its own apostasy and made that apostasy irredeemable. The mistaken claim of papal infallibility was imposed at a particularly bad moment in late-ninetheenth-century Italian Catholic history. In my view as a theologian, every other sin is forgivable except this sin of claiming to be infallible, because it is a sin against the Holy Spirit......The error of infallibility fixates all other errors, and to repent of it is also to liberate ourselves to be human, knowing ourselves to be finite, fallible, and able to see only in part, not absolutely or with final certainty. Knowing our fallibility liberates us to be Christian, to live by faith, repentance, and the grace of transformation, gifts of the Spirit without which we cannot be in authentic continuity with the new life in Christ and in authentic relationship with each other."

This notion of authentic relationship is for me, one of the primary concepts taught by Jesus. It's a concept I first came to really understand not through the Church, but through the writings of Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. Authentic relationships are grounded in the perceived equality between the participants. They also need grounding in an authentic relationship amongst the various aspects of ourselves. Not only must we see the life of Christ in others, we must see it in ourselves. As Paul writes, the authentic relationship, or authentic life in Christ, does not include arbitrary culturally defined subclasses like male to female, Jew to gentile, slave to master, or within ourselves, super ego to id, parent to child, or addiction over self autonomy.

All of these classes and distinctions must be exposed to the grace of transformation and the Gifts of the Spirit. This applies most especially to the Institutional Church and is most evidenced by the continuing pedophile cover up.

I've spent many hours in conversations with Native American spiritual leaders discussing the state of their respective reservation cultures. Addiction and child sexual abuse are escalating problems and to a person, these elders see these trends as evidence of a profound soul disconnection-sickness- amongst their people. I don't remember attending a sweat ceremony in which prayers weren't offered for the spiritual restoration of their people.

The Catholic clerical culture is facing the same soul sicknesses of addiction and child sexual abuse, but unlike Native elders, our clerical elders are wedded to a notion that directly prevents them from seeking the transformative restoration my Native friends are free to seek. That notion is Papal infallibility. This is not just a blasphemous sin against the action of the Holy Spirit it is also a vicious circular delusion which precludes any healing. Until more Bishops like Geofrey Robinsion and Tom Gumbleton can come foreward and question the delusion, real healing for institutional Catholicism is unlikely.

The laity can raise our voices all we want, but the sad thing is this clerical delusion does not allow for them to be heard. This is why it is imperative that more bishops speak out about the flaws in this system. Part of the delusion of the system is that bishops are more or less exempt from the inbuilt canonical expulsions with in the system. They can be and are, marginalized and ostracized, but that very process indicates their voices are being heard. They are the keys to unlocking the delusion and reopening the doors to the transformative action of the Spirit. I pray that more bishops continue to come forward, that those who are still genuinely open to the transformative action of the Spirit will not let themselves be silenced through fear or shouted down by the clerical fear mongers. That in the end the love they feel for the Church and the People of God will win out over the fear of Vatican power. I have hope that as more of them reach the age of retirement and the power of the delusion is seen for illusion, that more of them will finally speak out----but then maybe I'm delusional.


  1. I think that one would be delusional if they did not believe in the action of the Holy Spirit. Fear, however, has the capacity to quell the Spirit. I hope too that more Bishops will speak up in the true light of the Gospels and with the love of Christ. I pray that we all gain the strength and courage to be more like Christ, and work towards being perfected in Him through His Holy Spirit.

    I agree with Rosemary Ruether's understanding that "every other sin is forgivable except this sin of claiming to be infallible, because it is a sin against the Holy Spirit." My husband and I have often thought this way regarding the hierarchy and their view of infallibility. What we have arrived at in understanding through the Holy Spirit is truly affirmed in her quote and in your comments.

    Thanks Colleen for this and for sharing your gifts of the Holy Spirit with us. Peace and love always.

    In the near future I will be ready to send you some music that I have composed. My son did get me the keyboard yesterday for my B-day. I was up well past two in the morning composing and once I can figure out how to send you some drafts of my music I can email to you. Would love your feedback. I'll need your email address to do that. I've named the series of compositions that I will be working on "Mystical Wanderings."

  2. Colleen:

    GREAT CARTOON! I love it.

    re: "it is somewhat mind boggling that the Institutional Church has not been prosecuted"

    As I understand it, they cant be. Since the institutional church is the Vatican, and the Vatican is a sovereign country, it has diplomatic immunity. Individuals within the church can, but the church itself cant. The best we can expect is criminal prosecution of individual bishops, and continuing lawsuits against the bishopric and individual dioceses.

    re: "La Cosa Nostra must be green with jealousy"

    Several of the "heretical" works I have read provide evidence of a Vatican/ organized crime relationship. It will be interesting to see what shows up when the Vatican veil-of-secrecy is penetrated.

    In another thread, you postulated the B16 may be going to lourdes "attempting to spiritualize the rules the others are just blindly enforcing".

    It is possible that when he goes to Lourdes, that a miracle of Lourdes will happen and create a MASSIVE change in his perceptions, but for now, I think that is giving him too much credit. He is old school German heritage, same as my family. {shudder} Nothing else needs to be said on that note. The cartoon is probably more aligned with reality.

    re: "The relationship between the clerical caste and the laity"

    I'm surprised that it hasnt occurred to anyone that the laity as a whole is treated with the same disrespect by the magisterial authority as women are treated.

    Bless Rosemary, it seems she has very eloquently made the connection "the Vatican is NOT the catholic church". I cant wait to read it. I suspect that once her book hits general release, we should see the storm intensify.

    I just finished reading Bishop Robinson's book. No wonder the magisterial authority was puckering. As I was reading Ch 13-14 where he proposed changes to the structure of the church, I again had images of two churches, a diminutive Roman Catholic and a thriving American Catholic church. My sense is there is one more scandal that needs to occur for this to happen. I suspect it will be soon, given the way the church is attempting to controll the presidential election this year.

  3. I dont know where this fits in, but the dragonfly became my power animal this week.

    Magic, music and mysticism. Wow!

  4. Carl, "It will be interesting to see what shows up when the Vatican veil-of-secrecy is penetrated."

    There are certain evil men in the world that would die first before they allowed the "veil-of-secrecy" to be penetrated. However, and this boggles my mind, if they are truly Christians and Catholic, why try to hide the truth? Do they really think that God is blind, not watching, that the Holy Spirit does not gift people with the truth, the understanding to see through the veil of secrecy anyway?

    Dragonflies - not sure what they symbolize. There were always a few by our pond this year. They'd fly around and stop and hover and looked like helicopters.

  5. Butterfly, meet the Dragonfly:

    The power of Dragonfly lies in its ability to see around things by looking from different angles. Using its ability to transform colors and lights by reflecting and refracting them, Dragonfly shows us that life, like light, can bend, shift, and adapt in various ways, making life's appearance never be what it appears to be. Dragonfly's magic shows us to see through life's illusions and find our true vision. It calls us to transform within our lives and reminds us to feel deeply so we will have the compassion necessary to help ourselves and others

  6. Colleen, I was away for the long weekend, and just now catching up. What a wealth of powerful and informative commentary in all your posts!

    Something in this one struck me right between the eyes. It's something I should have seen before, but haven't seen with the clarity you see it.

    It's your observation that the dominance of the clerical caste is built on exploiting clerical definitions of male and female. That is so obvious, and yet something I haven't thought about clearly enough, until you framed it for me.

    This clerical need to maintain absolute gender roles mirrors some of what I am reading about Ms. Palin, as I catch up on the news. This is her popularity as a feminist who's a "real" woman, someone who manages to call herself a feminist while embodying the "feminine" virtues.

    I think that she's an anti-feminist, of course. But what strikes me in this analysis is the need of so many of us--a need carefully cultivated by the controlling sectors of our society--to believe in absolute either-or solutions to complex issues. Either male or female. Either true or false. Either saved or unsaved. Either religious or secular.

    We're childish, we American folks. And we are childish because we have been made childish by those manipulating our consciousness. But it's we who allow this to be done to us, so we ultimately can't blame anyone but ourselves.

  7. Palin is an interesting woman. She seems to be a member of the post feminist generation who are truly caught between definitions of what it means to be a woman.

    This is the generation which took full advantage of the opportunities my generation fought for--Title IX, profesional standing, political position, but then can't stop themselves from castigating the entire movement because they fell in love with a man and had kids, there by making mommy and daddy happy and making them much more comfortable with their standing as women.

    They seem to have this weird inability to see that they are in fact allowing themselves to be used to fog the underlying debate about patriarchy and it's consistent subordination of women.

    She may in fact be governor of Alaska, but on the national stage she is subordinate to McCain. This is something I don't believe Hillary would ever have done no matter how much Obama asked. To do so would have undercut her whole message about the true equality of women---It's not that we're allowed to play in some roles in the game, it's that we can play all the roles in the game, and do them equally well.

    On another note, Sarah Palin the huntress is an interesting visual. My question would be, yes you can expertly use a rifle, but were you allowed to make the first kill? I suspect the answer would be that Todd Palin got to make the first kill, and that Sarah doesn't hunt alone. ever.

  8. Colleen, fascinating question about who gets to shoot first in Palin's "feminist" world. I think you're exactly right: the husband.

    I've just visited the webpage of her church Change Point at At a link discussing the philosophy of the church, it says explicitly that all ministries are equally open to men and to women.

    Then, without blinking an eye, it says that the ministry of elders is exclusively for men. If you click on the "leadership" link, you discover that the elders make ALL the decisions in the church.

    And they're all men.

  9. Butterfly my email address is in my profile.

    I look forward to listening to your music. Rosemary Ruether has a lot of things in this book that left me speechless. She has an uncanny knack for spelling out what I can intuit but fail to articulate well.

    At the end of the book she has a satirical piece which reverses the current all male clergy to an historical all female clergy. In the story this female clergy is faced with answering the 'pressing question of ordaining men to the priesthood." It is really funny. I'll give you a taste of her reasons why men can't be priests.

    "The division of humanity into female and male is a profound mystery that symbolizes the relationship of the transcendent and the immanent, the spiritual and the material, heaven and earth. Women represent the spiritual realm, men the material. The material must be ruled over by the spiritual, just as Holy Wisdom presides from the Heavens over the physical cosmos as her household.
    Moreoever since the church is female in her essence, those who represent her should be female as well. There should be a physical resemblance betweeen the priest and the church as Holy Mother. Obviously this means that all priests should be mature women. The Church is also said to be Bride of Christ and brides are female. The priest, as the representative of the church in relation Chhrist, represents Christ's bride. Therefore only women can be priests."

    At the end of the piece she suggests impertinent men return to their natural sphere which is hard physical labor. Roma Locuta: Causa Finita. It's a hoot to read and actually makes as much sense as the reasoning against women priests, which says little about the reasoning against women priests.