Sunday, November 30, 2008

The Lethal Insanity of Absolute Morality

This does not confer a medical degree.

The following is a comment written by a doctor and illustrates what happens when clerical folks who aren't medically educated apply their absolutist morality to specific situations. They become abusive and this abuse can kill.

"I have never advocated elective abortion and never participated in one, yet I as a scientist can not agree with the Bishops about what constitutes an elective abortion. I worked with a patient that was told by a recently trained priest that the Bishop would excommunicate her if she went ahead with a D&C for an inevitable abortion.

She was running a fever in a very early pregnancy and it was determined by her gynecologist that the products of conception were badly infected. He told her correctly that this was a life threatening problem and she required an immediate D&C. Instead of going right to the hospital, my patient stopped to talk to her pastor. (Oh the poor woman.)

When he heard the term inevitable abortion, he became angry and told my patient that inevitable abortions do not exist. He then told her if she had the D&C that he would report her to the Bishop for excommunication. (Inevitable abortions used to be called spontaneous miscarriages. When the infected fetus doesn't spontaneously abort it decays, as all dead things do, and septicemia results. This is a very life threatening condition. This young priest is totally out of his league and threatening excommunication over a dead and infected fetus is clerical malpractice.)

She then called me and I called the chancery and was told by the Monsignor in charge that there was no reason to take this to the Bishop as the Bishop would back his priest. I explained to him that this was the same as a miscarriage, that the fetus was certainly dead and that my patient might well die without the D&C.

He asked me if I had ever heard of antibiotics. I told him that she would need intravenous antibiotics as well as a D&C as her fetus had become an abscess in her uterus. He told me there was nothing he could do. (Nothing except tell a medical practitioner how to practice medicine and back the boys in black.)

I explained to him that I was a graduate of a Catholic medical school and that I had never before run across a Bishop or priests that actually tried to practice medicine without a license and that my patient probably would die if she took their advice and that if asked I would help the husband sue all the clerics involved when that happened. (The truth is the Church has been using absolutist stands on abortion and birth control as a means of controlling women's reproductive issues. They have been defacto practicing gynecology strictly from a moral position while ignoring any other medical or scientific point of view.)

I then called her husband, a teacher at a Catholic HS, and discussed the problem with him. Apparently the monsignor had second thoughts and telephoned the patient and after a conversation told her that he did not think she should have a D&C but that she would not be excommunicated if she had it. The husband was furious with the pastor and the Bishop. (It's quite a sad statement that only the threat of lawyers ever works with the boys in black. I couldn't help but notice the monsignor only backed off the excommunication issue, his medical advice was still in effect.)

Fortunately, this couple decided to follow good medical advice and the lady met her Gynecologist in the hospital and had her procedure. She spent 3 days afterward in the ICU in shock from her infection after the procedure, but the outcome was finally OK.

These men in the Episcopacy must stop to take a serious look at where all the doctrinaire preaching is leading. They have little ability to understand science or medicine, yet they pronounce what they believe to be infallible statements about this field. They tell women that to take Birth Control pills causes abortions, they tell partners of HIV positive spouses or boyfriends that condoms allow the virus through (The World Health Association has proven the opposite to be true.) (And this iventifacted advice kills people by the millions.)

Bishops have little understanding of embryology. Yet they make these pseudo-infallible statements about Abortions. Let's be clear, an abortion can not occur unless there is implantation in the uterus. From 60 to 80 percent of all fertilized ova never implant. After an ovum is fertilized it becomes a structure that is known as a blastocoel. Most of these structures never survive. They are like seeds trying to find a fertile spot to germinate and like most seeds, most blastocoels never have a chances to implant or germinate. (The silence on this one fact about implantation is deafening because it means birth control pills and morning after pills are not abortifacients. Without implantation a blastocoel is not viable human life.)

The Bishops recently fail to understand that many of the blastoceols that do implant and form embryos do not develop properly and undergo what physicians call a spontaneous abortion. These abortions used to be understood as miscarriages by the clerics, but they are now counted in the the Bishops’ abortions statistics. (If the bishops are going to add spontaneous abortions to abortion statistics they better get on it and excommunicate God.)


This is just one egregious example of abortion absolutism being taken to a potentially lethal end.

We could see some really interesting things come about if this same absolutism is taken to it's logical end with regards to marriage.

If the hierarchy really wants to protect the tradition of marriage as a unit of procreation then instead of limiting themselves to gay marriage and adoption, they need to go all the way.

They should be starting initiatives in which couples who cannot pass adoption standards should not be allowed to marry and have children. If you can't adopt you can't procreate. It goes without saying that if you can't procreate at all you can't get married. There for no woman past menopause should be allowed to marry.

What if we really got serious about traditional marriage, just like the clerics mentioned above got serious about abortion. Here's one example of how this all might play out.

A teenager like Bristol Palin would not be allowed to marry her baby's father in that he has publicly stated he doesn't want any "f'ng" children. This couple would not pass the adoption standard, so no marriage for them. As an unmarried single woman her baby would be taken by the state for it's own good until suitable parents could be found.

Bristol's own parents would not be suitable because the father is unemployed, the mother is never home, and they already have three other underage children one of whom is special needs. Additionally, as parents, they have already proven they are patently incapable of teaching appropriate sexual ethics to their own children. So no adoption for them. Say good bye to your baby Bristol, because after all, this is all for it's own good.

Sound crazy? It's not really, it's just the logical extension of the absolute position on traditional marriage. It's no crazier than some young priest telling a woman who needs a D and C to remove a dead decaying fetus that she will be excommunicated if she does so.

If it's a moral imperative to protect the rights of the unborn by allowing the quite dead to kill the mother, it also makes sense to protect the moral imperative of traditional marriage by taking babies from teenage mothers, refusing to marry them, and adopting the child out to some perfectly defined perfect family. It's the moral thing to do. The fact it's cruel and mostly insane has nothing to with it. Jesus weeps.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Old Bulls And Natural Law

One of the things I find interesting in the Culture War debates is the absolute refusal of the culture warriors to take a serious look at what our cultural laws are really based on. They are based in defining boundaries through which male sexuality and male aggression can be safely expressed. The ten commandments are our first codified examples of creating acceptable limits for male behavior.

This is not me being a raging feminist, this is me looking at the facts. These rules and regulations have often been accompanied by other cultural norms which place women and children secondary to the primary objective of controlling men. In one sense women and children can be seen as the reward men received from other more powerful men for allowing themselves to be controlled. Dowries and spoils of war come to mind.

Western society with it's no fault divorce laws is now experiencing what happens when one of those cultural barriers is softened. We have more of our children being raised in non traditional family settings--mostly single women--than in traditional marital settings. Two of our American heroes this year, Michael Phelps and Barack Obama, were raised by single mothers after their fathers took off. America no longer practices the traditional one man one woman marriage, it is engaged in practicing serial monogamy. In Europe the tradition is legal wife and sexual mistress.

I could make a pretty good historical case that the 'traditional' marriage laws are not natural at all but actually contrived economic arrangements which fly in the face of natural male sexual expression, which is to spread the seed in the interests of genetic diversity. There have always been social arrangements, some of them politely covert, which actually accommodated this tendency to spread the seed, especially for men who wielded power.

Gay bashing amongst the religious right is not about gays threatening the institution of marriage. Gay marriage does not threaten heterosexual marriage. What gay marriage does do, is force the admission that in the West, traditional marriage is failing to sustain itself. That particular horse got out of the barn a long time ago, and with it male dominion within marriage.

Legally empowered women will not stay in abusive or dead end marriages. Empowered women don't see the need to be the boundary by which male behavioral expression is controlled. Raising children and establishing behavioral boundaries, is tough enough without having to extend the same efforts to immature husbands or boyfriends.

If our religious leaders were serious about their concerns for our children, they would do well to re-evaluate their positions. If Western culture has made a mistake, it's been in not demanding more personal maturity from it's men. We have to stop making heroes of men who act like irresponsible teenage boys and lionize those mature men who understand they are a necessary and important part of healthy communities.

In a previous article I quoted John Paul I, who made the very valid point that mature relationships are not based in sex, but in love and companionship. He stated that relationships based in sexual attraction are actually divisive in that once the sexual attraction wanes, people too often find there is no other attraction to sustain the relationship. Unfortunately the children of those marriages are not a six or seven year proposition.

Our divorce statistics would indicate we are not doing a very good job of pointing out the differences between sexual attraction and real lasting love, but that's not surprising because traditional marriage was not really about love and companionship. It was an economic agreement and/or a religious rite legitimizing sex.

We're in new territory now, and it's a territory in which both women and men have to take equal responsibility for their actions, and that includes the fruits of their loins. So far we haven't quite gotten the hang of this, but I believe we will. It takes time for society to adjust to new paradigms, and realistically speaking, the idea of equality for women with in context of marriage hasn't been around that long. I suspect this means it will be awhile before men really understand that society needs them to accept their own parental responsibilities as a separate issue from their marital responsibilities. Raising our children is not just a woman's issue.

In the meantime religious institutions, which are still living in and preaching the old paradigm, are hell bent on wreaking as much damage as they can before they expire. Rather than admit they no longer have much control, they seem to prefer hanging on to the illusion of control by endlessly haranguing us about the evils of abortion, feminism, gays, secularism, and threats of eternal damnation.

They bellow about the evils of gay men and feminists while being strangely silent about male exploiters in government and the corporate world. They speak about the evils of various New World Orders, while stealthily making pacts with proponents and moneyed men of the Old World Order. Now that the West has stopped listening, it seems they are turning their eyes to the South, as if they and their interests haven't exploited the South enough.

They remind me of old bulls past their prime. Those bulls will bellow and bellow and look for herds with very young bulls to intimidate. Frequently these bulls will leave their home pastures in their search for a new heard. Eventually you find them all alone bellowing at nothing. That is the real natural law.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Grandmother Pilgrim and the Pope

Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim and some old dude not named Benedict.

Thanksgiving is the holiday which is first and foremost a remembrance of the thanks owed to Indigenous peoples for helping the Pilgrims survive their first hazardous years in the New World. The Pilgrims did indeed, owe much to the First Nations of America for their survival and subsequent prosperity, but something else entirely was going on in other parts of the Americas.

While the Pilgrims were refugees from protestant Europe, in South and Central America, Mexico and the Southern US, the European presence was Catholic, and it was an invasion, not a desperate attempt by a marginalized religious group to found and nurture a safe haven.

I'm not going into any detail here today to enumerate the differences between the two approaches. In the long run, for Native Americans, neither group was good for Native Americans. What I do want to do is show how little has appreciabely changed in the Vatican with regards to indigenous populations and customs. Apparently Pagan is still pagan.

The following article is about a core spiritual group of Native Grandmothers. Thirteen older women from tribes across all continents whose mission is best expressed in the words of Eldest Grandmother Agnes Baker Pilgrim: (I find her last name very interesting, at least today.)

"I have visions of seeing women all over the world empowering themselves and holding prestigious roles. Women are natural nurturers and they will step forward all over the world. And it's happening. Move over, men. It is time for the natural nurturers to get this world back in balance."


Indigenous grandmas nearly kicked out of Vatican

Thirteen indigenous grandmothers, formally known as the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, initial greeting at the Vatican was not pleasant. The group was almost kicked out while performing a prayer and waiting to speak with Pope Benedict XVI.
They went to pray. They went to see Pope Benedict XVI on his home turf. They went to ask that he rescind historic church doctrine that played a role in the genocidal onslaught of millions of indigenous people worldwide.

For 13 indigenous grandmothers, accomplishing only one of their three goals wouldn't have been so bad - had they also not been harassed by several Vatican policemen who claimed the women were conducting ''anti-Catholic'' demonstrations. (Bill Donoghue must have been giving lessons in paranoia to the Vatican Police.)

The elders, formally known as the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, convened in the morning hours of July 9 at St. Peter's Square. After setting up an altar cloth, candles and sacred objects, including feathers and incense, they began holding a prayer and ceremony circle. Nine-year-old Davian Joell Stand-Gilpin, a direct descendant of Chief Dull Knife of the Lakota Nation, was brought along by one of the grandmothers to participate in traditional regalia.

Soon, however, four Vatican police officials asked the women to stop the prayer ceremony, claiming their prayers were in contradiction to the church's teachings - despite the two crosses on the alter cloth and some of the members being practitioners of the Catholic faith. (Must be because they were women engaged in religious ritual. Should have let the nine year old boy do the smudge.)

The officials told Carole Hart, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning producer and filmmaker traveling with the grandmas, that the group was in violation of Vatican policy. They said a permit Hart had obtained in order to document the prayer gathering was only relevant in terms of filming, but did not allow the women to pray, sing or burn incense. (Should have let the boy lead things.)

The police said the actions of the grandmothers were ''idolatrous.''Through the course of obtaining the permit, Hart had written to Vatican officials explaining that the grandmothers would be conducting a prayer ceremony at the site.''We stuck to the fact that we were legitimately there with this permit,'' Hart said.

''The grandmas did not back down.'' Still, the police urged the grandmothers to move on; but Hart and the group appealed the decision to a higher authority. Finally, the police brought back a law official who assessed the situation. Upon seeing 13 indigenous elder women and hearing one of their songs, the official concluded there was no problem with the ceremony. (There must be something wrong with the man's catechetical training.)

The official also ultimately invited the grandmothers to enter St. Peter's Basilica to rest and pray. (way wrong)

Despite their short-term success, the ultimate goal of the grandmothers - to hand-deliver a statement to Pope Benedict XVI, asking him to rescind several controversial papal bulls that played a part in the colonization of indigenous lands - was thwarted.

Documents from the 15th century, such as the papal bulls, show the papacy played a role in the genocidal onslaught that affected millions of indigenous people on the North American continent. In 1455, for instance, Pope Nicolas authorized Portugal ''to invade, search out, capture, vanquish and subdue all Saracens and pagans'' along the west coast of Africa, enslave them and confiscate their property - which set the tone for European interaction with the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere.

Just a short time before the grandmothers left for their long-planned journey to Rome, Pope Benedict XVI announced that he would be leaving the Vatican to rest at his summer home, called Castel Gandolfo, in preparation for a trip to Australia.

The pope had originally been scheduled to be in residence July 9. Laura Jackson, the grandmothers' publicist, described the pope's decision to leave the Vatican as a ''sudden cancellation'' and noted that the grandmas held tickets to a scheduled public audience he was to have held that day.

While Castel Gandolfo is less than 20 miles away from the Vatican, the grandmothers ultimately decided not to make the journey to the pope's summer getaway despite some in their inner circle encouraging them to pay an unexpected visit.

Hart believes the grandmothers chose to focus on St. Peter's Square because it's part of the Vatican and is a strong symbol of the pope.

''As women of prayer, I think they felt that bringing their prayer there, on the very ground on which the church as an institution stands, as close as they could get to the heart of the church, would have a great effect on what will happen next,'' Hart said. Additionally, the women had no guarantee that they would even be able to enter the grounds of the pope's summer residence. (I can certainly pray that this be so, only I'm not sure they brought enough smudge.)

Instead, the elders left a package with one of the pope's personal guards at the Vatican. The package contained a written statement the women had sent to the Vatican in 2005 decrying the papal bulls, to which the Vatican never responded. It also contained a new 632-word statement to the pope asking him to repeal three Christian-based doctrines of ''discovery'' and ''conquest'' that set a foundation for claiming lands occupied by indigenous people around the world.

''We carry this message for Pope Benedict XVI, traveling with the spirits of our ancestors,'' the women said in their new message. ''While praying at the Vatican for peace, we are praying for all peoples. We are here at the Vatican, humbly, not as representatives of indigenous nations, but as women of prayer.'' (If I was Benedict I would much rather deal with male representatives, than with real women of prayer.)

The package was given to the pope's guard via a traditional Lakota manner, by extending it to him three times with him then accepting it on the fourth attempt. The entire process was captured on film, and is expected to be made into a documentary by Hart in the coming year.

It is unknown whether the pope has yet personally received the package, but legal scholars and Native activists in the U.S. have nonetheless been paying close attention to the grandmothers' journey.

''I think the trip is very significant,'' said Steven Newcomb, co-director of the Indigenous Law Institute and author of the book, ''Pagans in the Promised Land: Decoding the Doctrine of Christian Discovery,'' and an Indian Country Today columnist.

''These are women who are very much grounded in their own languages and traditions. They're able to raise visibility of the issue in ways that others are perhaps less effective.''


I also note with some amusement that when Benedict did go to Australia for World Youth Day, he was exposed to even more Indigenous beads, feathers, smudge, dancing, and other idolatrous religious notions. Somehow these indigenous notions are completely different from Catholic beads, candles, incense, processions, and fancy clothes. Catholic Natives however, know they are NOT different, in spite of the opinions of the Vatican police.

Grandma Baker Pilgrim, in an interview, stated she felt the Creator had determined this was not the time for the Grandmas to be heard at the Vatican, (Nor Fr. Roy Bourgeios' time) and so they weren't that upset about not meeting the Pope. Their time was coming whether he knew it or not. The Creator was moving in the world, and she would not be stopped.

For that I am truly Thankful.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh, What Might Have Been Had John Paul I Lived

"Never be afraid to stand up for what is right, whether your adversary be your parent, your peer, your teacher, your politician, your preacher, or even your God." so spoke Albino Luciani (who was John XXIII first choice as a Bishop, then Paul VI's first choice as a Cardinal, and was finally known as JPI.)


The future Pope John Paul I, "did much to encourage single persons to adopt parentless children. It was his lobbying in the Italian Parliament that made it legal for single persons to adopt children in Italy. (I have frequently stated on this blog that my biggest fear with the gay marriage initiatives is their potentially devastating effects on adoption.)

When an opposition member of the assembly challenged his proposal: "But, that would make it legal for homosexuals to adopt children," Luciani responded, "The desire to parent children is a basic human need . .. Until the day comes that we can guarantee basic human rights and dignity to the tiniest minority, we cannot truthfully call ourselves a democracy. "

Yet, his adversary objected, `But homosexuals have a record of splitting up after the `honeymoon' is over and this would cause children to lose either one or both parents."

Luciani responded: "There are two major forces involved in making for long term loving relationships and regardless of what Rome might believe, sex is not one of them. As a matter-of- fact, sex is most often a declining force in many relationships. It often has very little to do with the long term survival of a union. The longevity of a relationship of two people who parent children that is so important to protecting the rights of children until they reach adulthood depends not on sex, but rather on the two major forces that create long term relationships, love and companionship.

When one considers the latter, the homosexual has a great advantage. Two people of the same sex who fall in love with each other make much better companions of each other because they are more likely to share common interests. It is for this reason that children parented by homosexual couples are less likely to undergo the trauma of arguments in marriage and of divorce. "

His opponent had still another objection: "Nevertheless, homosexuals are pedophiles. This will put children in great danger."

"To begin with, " Luciani responded, "homosexuality has nothing to do with pedophilia; one is sexual orientation and the other is sexual perversion. Yet, in that most cases of pedophilia involve incest, we must consider the question. If our objective is to prevent pedophilia in adoption then the only logical action is to permit only homosexuals to adopt children who are only of the opposite sex. This would reduce incest to zero. If we permit heterosexual couples to adopt children, then children would be at risk. "

Within a few years of the passage of that measure, more than a half-million children, who had previously been confined to the streets, were provided loving and economic support by single parents. Some of these were homosexual couples, in which case one of the parents had adopted the child, as it remained illegal for two people of the same sex to adopt the same child.

Very little is known of Luciani's involvement with homosexual parents other than a few short notes written in connection with his orphanages, "We have found that homosexual couples will take handicapped and less than healthy and attractive children. Most importantly, they will take bastards. Heterosexual couples, on the other hand, go for the cutest babies as if they were shopping for a puppy in a pet shop. "


The following letter was written to Lucien Gregoire, the author of the book "Murder In The Vatican". It illustrates the point John Paul I makes about the truths of gay adoption.

"Dear Mr. Gregoire,

My name is Tommy. I read Murder in the Vatican.

I was born with one eye and had a wrinkled face so nobody wanted me. I think I scared them. Then one day when I was five years old my father showed up and took me home. I remember the kids used to laugh at me in the playground. Then my father's sold everything they had including the house and I spent a long time in the hospital and the doctors and nurses made me look good. We have still many bills to pay. But now I am quite a ladies man at school. I hit my first home run last summer and this year I am going to hit forty more.

My parents love me. That is, they used to love me. Now only one of them loves me. Because the other one is dead. He gave his life trying to win freedom for Iraq. He died on my fourteenth birthday. I noticed in your book that General Patton said some words over the grave of another soldier who like my father was gay and gave his life to save some Italian school children.

As you know I won't be getting any benefits from the army or from social security to pay for my education or my medical bills because my parents did not have the freedom to marry and I was adopted by the father that is still with me. I didn't even get his purple heart or bronze star. The army gave them to his parents who hated him and sold them in a tag sale. I would have liked to have them.

My father tells me not to feel bitter because according to the last census there are more than a million children in gay families and they are in the same boat. But, of course, I am not listed with them because of the don't ask don't tell policy. My father says that there are also over fifteen million other children in single parent families, many like me who are of gay parents who are not counted in the census because they are fearful of losing their jobs too. So we are talking about a lot of children here, million s of them, not just me.

Both my father and I are sure that your book will be a best seller, I want to ask you a favor. I want to ask you when you are on Larry King Live, could you please read my letter. I think it might help people to understand our problem.

I was planning on being a baseball player. But your book has made me change my mind. Instead I am going to study hard and I am going to become president. Well, maybe not president, but I am going to help other people. Like me."


One of the things which must be understood about John Paul I's influence on the Italian Parliament about single parent adoption is that his reasoning about homosexuality and relationships was years ahead of the American Psychological Association. That may have been his problem, he was years ahead of almost everyone around him. Sometimes we call these kinds of people prophetic.

It's hard to imagine what the Church would be like now if he had had more time for his version of Catholicism to flourish. I have no doubt we would not now be subjected to Catholic culture warriors who think nothing of trampling on the rights of single parents in order to get at gays. You know, those Catholics who think chopping down the entire forest is the perfect solution to eradicating one kind of tree. The kind who kill prophets.

John Paul I had other strange ideas as well. He is on record as a parish priest as having requested the excommunications of Hitler and Mussolini, comparing them to the mandatory excommunication of divorced Catholics. "I am greatly tormented that Mother Church would see it as her duty to close the Gates of Heaven forever to so many innocent people who have at last found true love and yet on the other hand see it as her duty to leave them open to the likes of such tyrants." JPI is not the only Catholic who has wondered about this one.

When every other Cardinal saw the devil in the creation of Louise Brown, the world's first test tube baby, JPI wrote to her parents and said this: "My congratulations to you on the birth of your little girl. I (the church) have no right to condemn you for what you wanted. Be assured that there is reserved for your child a place in Heaven."

Many church watchers felt that JPI would rescind the teachings on birth control and they had reason, as he had lectured fellow Cardinals on the links between poverty, famine, abortion and unwanted pregnancies. He stated that the Church had a responsibility to stop being a primary cause of these problems and become a solution.

It's sort of funny, but when I think about it, the Vatican seems to operate out of a self sustaining paranoia. During World War II Pius XII bent over backwards to sacrifice the Message for the sake of the messenger. In other words, he never excommunicated any of the multitude of Catholic fascist dictators--- to protect the Church--or so the Vatican says. He muzzled the message in order to save the muzzled messenger. Imagine if Jesus had muzzled Himself in order to save Himself.

I guess now that it's safe to shout their message again, all we hear is condemnation of progressive policies and politicians. But then the Vatican has always been johnny on the spot when it comes to the left, but johnny come last when it comes to the right. I don't imagine that has a thing to do with the fact that progressive policies do not support divinely appointed authoritarian structures.

I wonder what the Vatican would look like now if JPI had lived. I suspect there would be more women walking the Vatican halls with something other than dust rags and mops. In the meantime JPI's and Tommy's real life understanding of gay adoption must be shouted from the rooftops. Kids lives depend on it.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Words From A Real Culture Warrior And A Suggestion For A New Catholic Rite

At the recent fall assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop Robert J. Hermann, the administrator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, declared that for any bishop it would be a “privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion.”

He has further explained that Catholics' response to abortion in our country should be proportionate to the scale of the tragedy.

At the bishops’ meeting in Baltimore, Bishop Hermann had said:
"We have lost 50 times as many children in the last 35 years as we have lost soldiers in all the wars since the Revolution."I think any bishop here would consider it a privilege to die tomorrow to bring about an end to abortion.”

“If we are willing to die tomorrow, then we should be willing to, until the end of our lives, to take all kinds of criticism for opposing this horrible infanticide."

Speaking with the archdiocesan newspaper the St. Louis Review, the bishop commented:
“I think that the way abortion has been presented over the past 35 years so often is that this is something that’s horrible, and we need to stop it. But it seems to me that people do not realize that it is 50 million children that we have killed. We have campaigned to save the baby whales, and yet we vote in pro-abortion politicians — which doesn’t make any sense whatsoever.”

Bishop Hermann also described how bishops can look to the example of soldiers.

“If American youth are willing to go to war and lay their life down to defend our freedoms, then every bishop should be willing to give up his life, if it meant putting an end to abortion. And if we’re willing to do that, then we should be totally fearless of promoting this cause without being concerned about political correctness, without trying to build coalitions with pro-choice people,” the bishop said in an apparent reference to those Catholics who have recently begun to give up the fight to outlaw abortion.

He proposed an “awareness- raising campaign” to help people realize “the destruction that we’ve brought about” and “the atrocities that we’re committing.”

“There should be 50 more million Americans in our midst, and anyone under 35 can look around and say, ‘Where are they?’ And, ‘I’m very lucky to be alive.’” (What about all the ones who don't feel lucky to be alive, or don't feel wanted, or wish they had been aborted? Do you care about them?)

Bishop Hermann reported that after he made his comments one or two bishops started clapping, but the meeting then moved on to other business. (Seems most of our bishops may not be on board with Bishop Herman's willingness to die.)

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, and Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver, along with other bishops, personally thanked him afterwards.

He reported that about 95 percent of the popular responses to his remarks have been positive, with some people consulting him about how they ought to deal with past voting habits. Bishop Hermann said many people have been conditioned to act as if God does not exist. (In my case I've been conditioned to believe that authentic bishops don't exist. God is alive and well in my neighborhood.)

“I have great empathy and great compassion for people who are influenced by society and are taken in by the big lie that God does not exist. My job is to raise their awareness to, yes He does (exist), and it does make a difference what you believe. It makes a big difference in what you do.“We also have to be aware that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities and the powers and the spirits of this world of darkness, as Paul tells us in Ephesians. (Seems we have yet another Holy Warrior.)

“Therefore, behind Planned Parenthood, behind the abortion issue, is the evil one,” Bishop Hermann stated. (The evil one was also hanging around some tree in the garden of Eden, and you male religious leaders have been saying the evil one was behind women ever since.)

“I often see human beings caught up in this as victims of the evil one who need my prayers and who need my compassion and who need my love. We don’t only want to save our children from destruction; we also want to save our adult brothers and sisters from eternal destruction.” (And you hope to accomplish this by denying us access to the sacraments, and generally condemning us for heresy and apostasy. Makes great sense to me.)

The bishop expressed concern about President-elect Barack Obama’s support for Planned Parenthood, which he claimed targets blacks with abortion information and facilities in their neighborhoods. (This is a very serious accusation of blatant racism and worse than that, purposeful eugenics. Where is his proof for this allegation?)

Turning to possible problems under a pro-abortion rights Obama presidency, he called the proposed Freedom of Choice Act “dangerous” because “it would be undermining all the efforts for the past 35 years of trying to limit the destructive effects of abortion.”

He also noted the possibility Obama could appoint two more Supreme Court justices, which he claimed could secure the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision “for many, many years.”

Responding to a common criticism that bishops and priests place such importance on abortion, he noted that other rights and political issues “mean nothing if the fundamental right to life is not guaranteed.” (Bishop, you are not talking about a right to life, you are talking about a right to birth. A right to birth means nothing if that life has no guarantees to something as basic as clean water after birth, or basic nutrition before birth. In too many cases this means a guaranteed death with in five years after birth.)

“When someone is denied life, then all the other rights don’t mean anything. That’s the reason the Church places such a high priority on that.“For an individual to have a proportionate reason to vote for a candidate who supports abortion would be very hard to come by. The only way I could see that happening is if we had one candidate who supports abortion and another one who may mandate abortion ... as they do in China.” (Perhaps the Church should be taking a much tougher stance in China instead of sucking up to the Chinese government in order to procure the right to appoint it's own bishops.)

Bishop Hermann closed his interview with the St. Louis Review by encouraging Catholics to study Church documents such as Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Evangelium Vitae and Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, “so they can clearly understand the nature of man and woman and the sacredness of God’s calling for man and woman.” (Maybe we should just concentrate on the New Testament, the Good News, The way the truth and the life of Jesus.)

“The more they study that and begin to live those teachings, the more they’re going to come into freedom to promote the Gospel of Life,” he concluded.


It seems Bishop Herman is still campaigning to become the Archbishop of St Louis. He has all his papal talking points correct, if not to thunderous applause from his fellow bishops.

I wonder what would happen if bishops like Herman, Neumann, Chaput and Martino decided to form their own Catholic rite. They could call it the New Apostolic Reformed Catholic Rite. I'm sure they would get Vatican backing and maybe even be able to incorporate Opus Dei and the Legionairres. They would also get lots of welcoming attaboys from groups like the Mormon Church, like minded Evangelicals, (especially those in Colorado Springs) and lots of money from rich reactionaries.

They could join a whole host of prayer warrior groups, if they haven't already. They would get at least 7-8% of the Catholic population, who would be very happy to belong to a Catholic rite that doesn't even pretend to admit gays of any sort, celibate or not. They would have their hearts desire--- their own leaner and meaner form of Catholicism, free to exclude who ever they wanted.

The rest of us could have what was left, and we'd all have a choice. Works for me.

Monday, November 24, 2008

I came across the following book report on the bible from the Catholica Austalia website, and can't stop laughing. It so reminds me of the time my daughter came home from CCD class when she was about six or seven and asked me to explain what was meant by the Ejaculate Conception. Then there was my college roommate who 'fessed up to the fact as a child she could never understand why Catholics asked Mary to 'Him or sin us' at the end of the Hail Mary. She thought this was asking Mary to change women into men or suffer the consequences.

I guess it just goes to prove the old adage that we never quite know what the other person's perception is of what one it trying to communicate---especially children. Have a good laugh.

The Children's Bible in a Nutshell

In the beginning, which occurred near the start, there was nothing but God, darkness, and some gas. The Bible says,'The Lord thy God is one, but I think He must be a lot older than that.

Anyway, God said, 'Give me a light!' and someone did.

Then God made the world.

He split the Adam and made Eve. Adam and Eve were naked, but they weren't embarrassed because mirrors hadn't been invented yet.

Adam and Eve disobeyed God by eating one bad apple, so they were driven from the Garden of Eden. Not sure what they were driven in though, because they didn't have cars.

Adam and Eve had a son, Cain, who hated his brother as long as he was Abel.

Pretty soon all of the early people died off, except for Methuselah, who lived to be like a million or something.

One of the next important people was Noah, who was a good guy, but one of his kids was kind of a Ham. Noah built a large boat and put his family and some animals on it. He asked some other people to join him, but they said they would have to take a rain check.

After Noah came Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Jacob was more famous than his brother, Esau, because Esau sold Jacob his birthmark in exchange for some pot roast. Jacob had a son named Joseph who wore a really loud sports coat.

Another important Bible guy is Moses, whose real name was Charlton Heston. Moses led the Israel Lights out of Egypt and away from the evil Pharaoh after God sent ten plagues on Pharaoh's people. These plagues included frogs, mice, lice,bowels, and no cable.

God fed the Israel Lights every day with manicotti. Then he gave them His Top Ten Commandments. These include: don't lie, cheat, smoke, dance, or covet your neighbor's stuff.

Oh, yeah, I just thought of one more: Humor thy father and thy mother.

One of Moses' best helpers was Joshua who was the first Bible guy to use spies. Joshua fought the battle of Geritol and the fence fell over on the town.

After Joshua came David. He got to be king by killing a giant with a slingshot. He had a son named Solomon who had about 300 wives and 500 porcupines. My teacher says he was wise, but that doesn't sound very wise to me.

After Solomon there were a bunch of major league prophets. One of these was Jonah, who was swallowed by a big whale and then barfed up on the shore. There were also some minor league prophets, but I guess we don't have to worry about them.

After the Old Testament came the New Testament. Jesus is the star of The New. He was born in Bethlehem in a barn. (I wish I had been born in a barn too, because my mom is always saying to me, 'Close the door! Were you born in a barn?' It would be nice to say, 'As a matter of fact, I was.')

During His life, Jesus had many arguments with sinners like the Pharisees and the Democrats.

Jesus also had twelve opossums. The worst one was Judas Asparagus. Judas was so evil that they named a terrible vegetable after him.

Jesus was a great man. He healed many leopards and even preached to some Germans on the Mount.

But the Democrats and all those guys put Jesus on trial before Pontius the Pilot. Pilot didn't stick up for Jesus. He just washed his hands instead.

Anyways, Jesus died for our sins, then came back to life again. He went up to Heaven but will be back at the end of the Aluminum. His return is foretold in the book of Revolution.
Sometimes adults can get things a little mixed up too. One person quoted John 3:16 as:
"For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have internal life.
This is a really profound Freudian slip, because in many respects this is exactly what Jesus came to do, teach us a rich, living internal life by basing it in love of God, love of neighbor, and love of self. This internal life can not perish because it is life giving and life recieving by it's very nature.
Our baseball fixated young George Will would probably call this notion a bases loaded Homerun".

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Native Americans Painted With Gay Brush In Florida Adoption Case

Bill Lyndsey, who authors Bilgrimage, has been discussing how the religious right has suddenly found solidarity with the black community, and like me is somewhat cynical as to this sudden 'conversion'. It didn't take a statistical genius to interpret the voting demographics surrounding the anti gay initiatives in California, Florida, and Arkansas. I have stated on this blog that although California's Prop 8 has been getting the press, the initiative that really bothered me is the one in Arkansas that banned gays and unmarried heterosexuals from adopting. Adoption policy is the one area where homophobia will effect straights.

Shortly after the election, I put on my cynical hat in an effort to try and figure out which would be the next group the right would choose to bash--black racism having lost it's punch in the right's desire to co opt their gay initiative votes. I was pretty sure it would be the Native American community.

After all this is a minority group with a certain amount of independence from state and federal government, and they have gambling. They have a lot of gambling, and it was corrupt lobbyists in tribal employ that took down some very high profile right wing Republicans like Tom Delay and a senator from my very own state. I figured it was time for paybacks. Little did I know how the first salvo would be shot. It came in a Florida trial over a gay man adopting two foster children he has had in his home for four years.

Florida bans all gays from adopting, while allowing convicted felons and drug abusers to adopt. Apparently the foster care system allows gays to be foster parents, but I'm sure we can look forward to an initiative to close that loophole. In the meantime this trial has pitted social workers and psychologists against each other, as reported in the Miami Herald.

One of the 'social scientists' testifying for the state is George Rekers who is a retired professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral sciences at the University of South Carolina. Professor Rekers has made a booming career for himself with think tanks like the Family Research Institute by interpreting social statistics in the light of the Gospel. Here's the words of the man himself:

"Under cross-examination, Rekers, who also has a theology degree, acknowledged that he taught and practiced psychology from a Christian perspective, and had written books condemning social science that doesn't recognize ``the moral laws of God.''
''To search for truth about homosexuality in psychology and psychiatry, while ignoring God, will result in futile and foolish speculations,'' Rekers wrote in a 1982 book."

So now we know what Mr Reker's bias is, but he goes much further in his testimony as the State of Florida's expert witness. He demonstrates exactly how one uses statistics to bolster one's Godly position, and how those same kinds of statistics can be used against another group.

"Gay men and lesbians have two to four times the likelihood of suffering from major depression, anxiety or substance abuse, based on several national studies, Rekers testified. Gay men, he said, are four times more likely than straight men to attempt suicide.

Depressed people, Rekers said, ''are less consistent in their parenting, less positive [and] have higher rates of neglecting child needs.'' Gay people, he added, ``would have less capability of providing the kind of nurturing and secure emotional environment for children.''

The lives of gay people can also be stressful to children, Rekers testified. The children may experience teasing and bullying from other children who don't approve of their parents' orientation. And children with gay parents are likely to suffer from repeated separations because gay people are more likely to have multiple failed relationships.

Rekers said he would, in fact, favor banning anyone from adopting who had more than 18 ''sex partners'' during a lifetime. ''I think that would be a very good social policy,'' he said in a deposition.

He said he would also consider banning Native Americans from adopting because research shows that they are also at much higher risk of mental illness and substance abuse. ''They would tend to hang around each other,'' Rekers testified. ``So the children would be around a lot of other Native Americans who are . . . doing the same sorts of things.'' (Gee, maybe that's because a lot of them live on reservations.)

Do you suppose it's a coincidence that Florida is home to the Seminole tribe? The very first tribe whose desire to increase their bingo revenues resulted in our current Native gaming policies? I don't. I strongly suspect the right will be giving us oodles of statistical information on the evils of gambling. Just like the evils of being gay and the evils of being Native American.

Mr. Rekers left out the part about the fact that living in overtly racist and homophobic societies might have a lot to do with the mental health statistics he quotes. That's OK, I for one don't mind being lumped in with Native Americans. They have a real and effective attitude concerning spirituality and science. They know from past experience what the 'foster' care system is like and how 'benevolent' Christians like Mr. Rekers really are, and so being equated with homosexuality should come as no surprise to them. I just hope no one else is too surprised.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

"All Ya Need Is Love"

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Vatican remembers the Beatles

The Vatican on Friday praised the Beatles in a newspaper article that appeared to bury the hatchet on John Lennnon's infamous 'more famous than Jesus' remark.

Vatican daily Osservatore Romano said Lennon's comment, which sparked outrage in the mid-1960s, ''today just sounds like a quip from an English working-class lad struggling to cope with unexpected success after growing up with the Elvis myth''.

In the article, marking the 40th anniversary of the famous White Album, Vatican music critics said ''snobs'' might dismiss the Fab Four but ''the talent of Lennon and the other Beatles gave us some of the best pages in modern pop music''.

The critics said: ''38 years after the band split up, the Lennon-McCartney songs have shown an extraordinary resistance to the effects of time, providing inspiration for several generations of pop musicians''.

Osservatore Romano made its peace with Elvis in July.

It recalled the the once-outlawed pelvis-twister as a ''nice, sensitive young man'' who was doomed by fame.

Lennon made his comment on March 4, 1966, to London's Evening Standard.''Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink... We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first - rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me''. (I doubt either rock n roll or Christianity will go the way of the hula hoop, unless their current stagnation becomes permanent.)

The response was immediate. Christians, especially in the American South, made huge pyres of Beatles albums and Protestant pastors threatened fans with excommunications - though the Vatican did not comment. Elvis fans had been threatened with excommunication by Protestant churches a decade earlier. (The American South has a long history of losing culture wars, starting with slavery, but I have to give them this, they don't give up. They just lose, as the Republican party has just learned with the crash and burn of their 'southern strategy".)


I can remember being caught up in Beatlemania, and I vividly recall this remark from John Lennon. My mother was not pleased, although she did not insist I burn my Beatle's 45's. I had none of their albums as albums were too expensive for my limited allowance. My side of the bedroom was a shrine to George Harrison, while my sister's side was a shrine to Paul McCartney. John Lennon was a little too outspoken for his own shrine in a good Catholic household.

The second movie I ever saw in a theatre, was a Hard Day's Night. My mother took my sister and I as a special treat. Plus she wanted to get a better idea of what this insanity was all about. She laughed her ass off and later became a big fan of Monte Python and weird British humor in general. She was changed by Beatlemania.

My dad loved 'Hey Jude' and Paul McCartney's wistful voice when he sang "Mother Mary come to me, speaking words of wisdom. Let it be." For my dad, it was a prayer, not a song and he would frequently play "Let it be" on his state of the art souped up stereo. That is, when we weren't being endlessly subjected to Franky Yankovich and his polkas. Dad was not approving of Franky's son 'Wierd Al', appalled in fact, but he absolutely fell in love with the Moody Blues and Simon and Garfunkle. He too, was changed by Beatlemania.

I remember with fondness my daughter sitting on grandpa's lap as he rocked her to sleep while listening to 'Bridge Over Troubled Waters', on the no longer state of the art souped up stereo. The stereo may have been outdated, but the grandfatherly love wasn't. Generations bonding through music, that's not outdated either. So let the 'snobs' dismiss the fab four, the Vatican is right, the Fab four did give us some of the best pages in 'rock n roll', and it still sounds great, and it still bridges gaps.

Perhaps this is one time the right and left can agree on something. "Let it be."

Friday, November 21, 2008

Michael's Army Not Composed Of Jedi Knights

I was over on the website today reading an article by Fr. Dwight Longenecker on the recent brouhaha over Fr. Jay Scott Newman in South Carolina. Fr. Newman was the priest who wrote the article in his parish bulletin strongly suggesting that those parishioners who voted for Obama should go to confession before receiving communion.

In my own commentary I suggested in the interests of fairness, that Fr. Newman should also have strongly suggested that anyone who voted for McCain should also go to confession because McCain supported embryonic stem cell research, which the bishops have also designated an 'intrinsic evil'. I felt Fr. Newman was being a cafeteria Catholic in his focus on the democratic candidate.

After reading Fr. Longenecker's article and the commentary associated with it, I realize I am totally off base. It isn't about the relative merits of one party versus the other with regards to abortion, it's really about those who have been co opted to Satan's camp and those who are faithful loyal Catholic followers in St. Michael's army.

I also learned from Fr. Longenecker that I am in the 'defiant' camp and my kind will be extinct in the next twenty years or so. I wonder if this code speak for the Vatican II 'boomers' as in most of us will be dead. Nah, can't be.

Here's Fr. Longenecker's description of the defiant Catholic as he determined from the thousands of emails which the parish received from all over the US. The other three categories were the demonic, the lame, and the loyal supporters:

But the "defiant" category makes up the largest number of our respondents, and is the saddest category of all. Statistics show us that these are the Catholics who sealed Obama's victory. They are people who were poorly catechized over the last 40 years in America. They have been nurtured in the Protest Generation and told that it is fine, even noble, to disagree with the Church. They have been taught to act according to their conscience without taking the trouble or time to inform it.

Caught up in the trendy agendas of the day, they have jumped on the bandwagons of feminism, environmentalism, homosexualism, socialism, and sentimentalism -- mistaking their favorite cause for the Catholic Faith. When they are confronted with clear, concise, and consistent Catholicism they are shocked and angry, and their response is (if they haven't done so already) to leave the Church, preferring their own wisdom to the wisdom of God.

But then things get even more interesting:

In the next 20 years, this sort of Catholic will become extinct. As America descends further into decadence and decline, the lines will be drawn between the forces of darkness and the forces of light. People will have to choose whether to serve God and His Church or the dark side.

So it isn't about being democrat or republican it's about being a defiant Darth Vader or a Catholic Jedi Knight. I really wish I could see the world so black and white, but I'm not allowed to, I seem to be cursed with seeing into the depths of things and not their surface presentation.

Shining light into dark places sometimes means you really need to go deep into things to find the real hidden places where darkness is born, and it means starting with yourself. It's not pleasant and as I've written before it means confronting those original events which trigger your fear mechanism and all the defenses which are associated with protecting that defenseless child.

I can remember many times when I was very young calling on Michael to protect me from those things hidden in the darkness of my night time bedroom. Now when I call on Michael I'm more apt to be taken directly into those terrors to see where they originated and why they are still in effect.

Michael's metaphorical sword is one of love and to truly wield the sword means one must be able to love, to see the Christ in others, to see Christ in oneself, to seriously confront one's own shortcomings. Michael's sword is double edged. It's as apt to cut the wielder as it is a perceived enemy. It's not just about saying some rosaries and receiving the sacraments. That's only a start, an apprenticeship if you will. To go beyond the basics means self discipline and the courage to face your own shadow self. To go beyond the basics means to learn to unite oneself with and convert the 'enemy' not to divide and conquer them. This is exactly the kind of spiritual warfare that Jesus was engaged in, and if anyone thinks Michael is engaged in some other kind of warfare, they haven't really met him--yet.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

When Fantasy Collides With Reality

Readers may have to bear with me for awhile, but eventually I will have a point to make. I think.

I was reading some of the comments on the National Catholic Reporter website concerning the Fr. Roy Bourgeois situation and came across a comment written by a JPII priest which struck me as something from a fantasy romance novel. Here is a portion of his comment:

The priest is called to be the living image of Jesus Christ, the Spouse of the Church.[49] Of course, he will always remain a member of the community as a believer alongside his other brothers and sisters who have been called by the Spirit, but in virtue of his configuration to Christ, the Head and Shepherd, the priest stands in this spousal relationship with regard to the community.

"Inasmuch as he represents Christ, the Head, Shepherd and Spouse of the Church, the priest is placed not only in the Church but also in the forefront of the Church".[50]

In his spiritual life, therefore, he is called to live out Christ's spousal love towards the Church, his Bride. Therefore, the priest's life ought to radiate this spousal character which demands that he be a witness to Christ's spousal love, and thus be capable of loving people with a heart which is new, generous and pure, with genuine self-detachment, with full, constant and faithful dedication and at the same time with a kind of "divine jealousy" (cf. 2 Cor 11:2), and even with a kind of maternal tenderness, capable of bearing "the pangs of birth" until "Christ be formed" in the faithful (cf. Gal 4:19).(Pastores Dabo Vobis, #22) (All of the above is a direct quote from JPII's Pastores Dabo Vobis)

Furthermore, to admit women to the priesthood would belittle the great dignity of women who hear the invitation to consecrated virginity and so become brides of Christ and an image of our Lady. (I've never understood why Jesus needs dedicated virgin brides, when he didn't seem to need one when he actually walked the earth. Is this the Catholic version of the Islamic male fantasy?)


When I read the above, I once again found myself banging my head on my desk. This whole thing describes a delusional fantasy world in which the Church is a "bride" composed of submissive and compliant laity, and the priest is the "spouse" who is the living image of God in the form of Jesus Christ.

The divine imaged spouse is even capable of "genuine self detachment, with full constant and faithful dedication and at the same time a kind of "divine jealousy" and even with a kind of maternal tenderness capable of bearing the 'pangs of birth' until Christ be formed in the faithful.

In too many respects this sounds like the ultimate male fantasy. A compliant and submissive wife, the ability to self detach while still exhibiting divine jealousy and the delusion of sharing in the pangs of birth.

I just love the 'pangs of birth' thing. My ex husband once asked me what it was like to go through child birth. I told him, "Imagine defecating a water melon." He never asked again or pretended he shared in my pain. Believe me contractions are not 'pangs'.

But the important thing here, is that this fantasy of priest to church is a romantic male fantasy. It contains lots of delusions concerning the rightful place of women and children vis a vis their relationship to men. I'll admit for eons this fantasy was pretty much reality, but not anymore.

The children are grown and the women are demanding the end of the fantasy.

This fight to hang onto the fantasy can be seen in all the hot button issues of the bishops. Whether it is birth control, abortion, a female clergy or gay marriage, all of these issues threaten the underlying assumption of the fantasy. That underlying assumption is that men have divine right to control both the propagation of the species and the order of society. Control is not just about the present, but extends into the future, and progeny is all about the future.

Birth control and abortion place the progeny decision in the hands of women who actually do have the babies and do experience the 'pangs' of birth. Go back to the water melon analogy and you might begin to see why women just might want some control over whether they get pregnant. Defecating water melons can end in one's death.

But of course, there's more to having babies than that. Someone has to take care of them. All too frequently our male who is indulging in his ultimate fantasy, is no where to be found, being 'self-detached' for some reason or another. And then there is the 'divine jealousy' thing, but most women don't find male jealousy divinely inspired. It's more a case of jealously guarding male prerogative.

Gay marriage is in too many respects the ultimate threat to the ultimate male fantasy. It's the sexual fantasy without the burden of children, an unlicensed and unrestricted male fantasy. It's not fair. Of course that's only true if one ignores the tens of thousands of gay partnerships which are raising children. But hey, this is a fantasy we're protecting here. Reality need not apply.

And that brings us to women priests. In a church which raises the ultimate male fantasy to dizzying theological heights, women priests are way way too much reality. It's not surprising then that the Vatican wields the dogmatic sword of excommunication to stop this notion, while allowing their abusive 'spouses' to go unpunished and heavily protected. It's always been that way when sexual abuse raises it's head within the patriarchal family structure. The fantasy can not be questioned by the reality of it's consequences. Male dominion is sacrosanct. God says so.

The good new is that the fantasy can no longer being sustained. Not by society, not in politics, and not by the planet. There just aren't enough true believers to keep it sustained, and that is especially true in the younger generations. They don't seem to want the burden of the fantasy because they are seeing that ultimately it's deadly--for society, for politics, and for the planet.

At this point it doesn't look like the Roman Catholic Church is willing to give up on the fantasy. They've done pretty well living it for the last 1700 years. The times are changing though, and the hierarchy needs to absorb a serious dose of reality or the Church too will go the way of the empire it replaced. By the time the original Roman Empire died it's leadership was also desperately clinging to the fantasy of it's past and incapable of dealing with the reality of it's present. Fr. Bourgeois isn't a case of "Et tu Brute", he's an unwelcome dose of reality.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

An Open Letter To Pope Benedict

Last night I was out and about with my Joe sixpack buddies and was asked how the blog was going. I remarked it had been a frustrating week because tempers were flaring over Obama and abortion and excommunications and women priests and lazy cafeteria catholics and true believers and all in all. It was worse than talking with them. They laughed. We plinked more money in the Keno machines. Then one turned to me and asked an interesting question. Do you really think women priests are going to save the Church?

I had to think about this for a minute. No, I said, I don't think women priests are going to save the church, but I think a woman's point of view would change things enormously. He's a Catholic so I asked him a question. "Would you rather go to confession to your mother or your father?"

"No brainer", he says, "It would be my mom hands down, even though she was the weird disciplinarian, but she also listened." And then he paused. "Now, that I think about it, the weirdness went up with the number of lies in my excuses. Dad just went to screaming and yelling and things would go down hill from there." This then brought up a raucous time where all of us recounted our worst punishment stories, and yes, his mother had some weird punishments.

In the end though, all of us agreed we would rather go to confession to a woman rather than most men. It had to do with perceptions about which sex generally listened better, spouses not included, as marriage can be a long series of confessions.

I was almost shocked this morning to run across a letter to Pope Benedict which mentions this very point about confession. But there's so much more to this letter, and it so shows the difference in approach between men and woman, and it's so much better than anything I could write. I offer the following letter with great respect for the woman who wrote it. It's all about the potential for the feminine voice in the Church. (I especially liked the paragraph about cats. Because it's true. Cats know when your praying and they can't get enough of your energy when you pray. They do have to climb up on you and it does set them to purring.)

Dear Brother in Christ, Pope Benedict XVI,

I write to you on behalf of Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who, as you know, is facing excommunication in a few days from now, because he is following his conscience on the issue of women ordinations.

I don't know him personally, but he feels like a dear brother. I've (through the internet), heard his homily at the ordination he attended, and I've read a few articles, and his letter in response to the excommunication letter. And his words are really touching my heart, it's very healing to hear a priest speak openly about the injustice he feels is being done to so many Catholic women with a call to ministry within the Church... I'm grateful to him for his courageous witness - and I wish that all other priests and bishops around the world who believe that God wants to show the Church that this call is indeed genuine, would also dare to speak up for change. A change that would be strongly welcomed by many Catholics in our days, and especially among young people (even priest candidates in Rome, as an anonymous open letter from one of them recently shows, I'm sure you must have seen it). Besides, this is nothing new... Women served in the early Church...

Fr. Roy was ordained the same year as I was born, and he's been serving the Church all this time. Amazing thought! That's more than I've done... But I could have been a priest for many years, as I felt the call already at the age of 14. I love the Church profoundly, and would love to serve as a priest... Like so many other Catholic women. And like several of our woman Saints, among those Thérèse of Lisieux, my patron Saint, who once led me to the Church. I attended the festive ceremony in 1997 at St. Peter's Square, when she was declared a Doctor of the Church. How that must have surprised her, and made her smile in heaven! "Little" Thérèse among all those distinguished old male teachers of the Church...! I'm happy that she now has this position, since the Church must listen carefully to all its theological Doctors.

Thérèse tells us openly about her call to be a priest, a call that didn't leave her even when she felt death approaching. She handled the hosts with lots of love as a sacristan, while she thought about celebrating Mass. She asked her sisters to shave a tonsure on her head, and she united herself in prayer with the young priest missionaries she would have liked to follow. And she said that she was happy to die - so that she didn't need to suffer the pain of not being ordained at the time she would have been ordained - if she had just been a man... There are numerous witnesses who knew her who confirms this. I find it amazing that her writings haven't been censured. And they speak right into our times.

I often think that it's like the body of the Church is jumping ahead on just one leg. While she (!) could be dancing and rejoicing and move much faster and more graciously than now, showing the world who God is (both feminine and masculine), if she would use both her legs, not just the male one. It's as if the Church body has made herself crippled, although she's actually whole. She's strangely refusing to use one half of her body in ministry...

Excommunication is a similarly odd phenomena within our Church body. So odd to see her shutting off her own limbs from the powerful blood flow of the holy Communion!

And not just any limbs. It's the prophetic limbs that are often shut off. Those who were Jesus' own didn't understand him... It seems to be the same today for his followers. But they'll keep speaking until their last breath - prophets can't be silenced... This is their mission: to show the Church what's missing! To speak soft words where they're needed, and sharp words where they're required.

I'd like to humbly ask a few burning questions: Who do you think Jesus would excommunicate?

Would He cut off living branches from the tree?

What is easier: to change a tiny paragraph in the Canon law which doesn't correspond with the Gospel message and Jesus' way of treating women and men equally - or keep hurting the Body of Christ again and again?

Where in the world can you find a mother who would stop giving some of her children food? And what mother would forbid only her girls to prepare food and serve it to their siblings? Shouldn’t the Church Mother act as good as these earthly mothers? (I love this paragraph,)

Excommunications are actually getting the opposite result than they probably are meant to give. Trying to get rid of one after the other will only put this matter (women ordinations) even more on the agenda. It's so much better to communicate than to excommunicate!

I've read the most recent homily by your preacher, Fr. Raniero Cantalamessa. He speaks about women in it, like several times during the passed years, which I actually encouraged him to do when I once met him. I'm happy for this, because it's really needed. But I wish the urgent need for women in the heart of the Church would be as visible and clear. We need to hear the perspectives also of women in homilies. We need them serving at the Eucharistic table, as well as in the confessional. Many (both women and men) say it would be so much easier to confess if the priest was a woman... Both men and women are needed to make the priestly ministry as beautiful and complete as it's meant to be... Both reflect the image of God - together....The wonderful Pope, John XXIII, didn't live long as a Pope, but long enough to initiate revival, inspired by the Holy Spirit. (Nice take on complimentarity,)

I've heard that you attended the Council as one of its most brilliant progressive theologians... You quoted Karl Rahner (who btw has written at depth about the priest-poet, well worth reading), when he said something like: "The dogma is no package, well wrapped and tightly tied up, but an open window."

I wish I could reawaken some of that youthful glow within your heart, bring fresh air through the Vatican doors, and open all the windows widely... (Well, the risen Jesus knew how to walk also through closed doors, behind which frightened apostles were sitting...!)

Now it's time to listen in deep prayer to what the Holy Spirit is repeatedly saying to the Church at present. God is calling so many women to serve... Please, consider to receive and embrace this gift...! It's for the good of the whole Church, ultimately the whole world...And please don't let my brother get excommunicated, or any other of my brothers and sisters who dare to say what they, and so many silent Catholics, actually think! Fr. Roy is just the kind of priest that is most appreciated and needed among the faithful!

As he has spoken courageously - I can't remain silent.

I love my Mother, the Church, and say all this out of love for her...Catholicity is all about Communion and union, so when one limb is suffering - all the others are also suffering (if they're healthy and thus able to feel compassionate). I suffer immensely by the thought of others getting excommunicated. I've spent some sleepless nights now, praying about this, actualized by what Fr. Roy is going through. And led by holy inspiration, I got the idea to ask, like Maximiliam Kolbe, the Saint, who stood right in front of a man who is now in my parish and who witnessed his words: "may I take his place?"

I wish to stand in solidarity with all those who are excluded and marginalized in our society and in the Church, I think that's what being a Christian and following Jesus is about, to rejoice with those who rejoice, and cry with those who cry, to ultimately give up one's life, and everything that one holds most dear... And the Church is my life, my home, my everything... I would never want to be without the Eucharist - that would be to starve spiritually. I imagine it's pretty much the same for Fr. Roy. But if someone has to be sacrificed to keep up the present human rules and regulations, then don't excommunicate someone who is a "father" of many... You may punish me instead...

And by now you may perhaps wonder who I am... Maximiliam Kolbe got the same question. He answered: "I'm a Catholic priest."And I'm just a simple Catholic lay person, an artist and theologian, a priest only at heart and not through ordination. I haven't broken any single Church rule, but I've spoken freely, by inspiration and out of conscience, when asked what I believe. I feel that unity among Christians and within the Catholic Church (in spite of different opinions - we share what is most important after all: our faith, a sacred gift from God), is part of my mission, and thus I find it very hard to stand injustice or prejudices. I wish to see a renewed Church where everyone is welcome, a Church where no one is shut out... And if someone is threatened to be excluded, I must stand up for him or her. (Here's your answer anonymous, and stated far better than I could have.)

To something else - but still connected to this. I've heard that you love cats - we have that in common! As you might have noticed, they're very free and independent creatures. But they stay where they're given food and are treated well. They're also fascinated by prayer, and come and lay down purring in one's lap during silent prayer if one allows them to... A cat I know once ended up sitting and looking intensely at my icons... I wonder what he saw through those heavenly windows...

I've also heard that sheep need no fences, they stay where there's fresh water.

And we Christians, who are drawn to the Source of Life itself, who could draw us away from it? If there's love in the Church - and Love has indeed its dwelling place among us - then there's no need for fences...

God gives us this beautiful call to freedom, and invites us to use all our gifts and talents. The Gospel yesterday speaks about these talents - everyone’s talents need to be recognized and developed. Also those of women with a call to serve. Where else should we go? Which other source should we drink from? Is it really right of the Church to bury our gifts....?

If theology at some point turns out not to correspond with what we know about God - it needs to be reconsidered and eventually rewritten. I’ve studied all the arguments against women ordinations in detail, and I’ve found that none of them is solid enough to build any teachings upon. It’s rather the opposite way - they all fall down like a pile of cards if they’re slightly touched. I thus hope you will welcome and reopen theological discussions about this in the Vatican, through inviting theologians from all over the world who has studied the question at depth - both women and men, and both those who based on their studies are positive to change, and those who aren’t, and they should all have the right to speak and vote…

I'll end this letter by a poem that I dedicated to the previous Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke when he excommunicated my sister in Christ, Sr. Louise Lears, whom I don't know in person either (but, as you know, lives amazingly touches those of others also at a great distance). It somehow fits also in this sad situation. With all due respect, much love in Christ, and with fervent prayers that you'll intervene to make a good and just decision regarding Fr. Roy...

Your little sister,
Charlotte Thérèse
(in Sweden)


Thank you Charlotte Therese on behalf of myself and all who read this blog.