Friday, October 30, 2009

Halloween Greetings From The Vatican

Real midwives of the Inquisition period kept cats because cats were reputed to drain off negative energy. In that sense they were very familiar with their owner's energy. When they were exposed to too much negative energy they got big and fat. Interesting theory.

Halloween Dangerous Says Vatican

In an article entitled Halloween's Dangerous Messages, Holy See newspaper l'Osservatore Romano quoted liturgical expert Joan Maria Canals as saying ''Halloween has an undercurrent of occultism and is absolutely anti-Christian''.

Father Canals, a member of a Spanish commission on church rites, urged parents ''to be aware of this and try to direct the meaning of the feast towards wholesomeness and beauty rather than terror, fear and death''.

L'Osservatore praised a Spanish community's decision to hold a prayer vigil on Saturday night and the Paris archdiocese's idea of having kids play a lucky dip dubbed 'Holywins' instead.

These and similar initiatives in South America ''allow Catholic communities to have an alternative to the feast, to bear witness to their faith and Christian hope in the face of death''.

The Catholic Church in Italy has taken a dim view of Halloween's growing popularity for years.

Last year, the bishops daily Avvenire appealed for a full-blown boycott, describing Halloween as a ''dangerous celebration of horror and the macabre''.

Warning parents of the dangers of children coming into contact with strangers during trick or treating, Anti-Occult Sect Service head Aldo Bonaiuto said the event ''promotes the culture of death'' and could spur ''pitiless (Satanic) sects without scruples''.

He also argued that the spooky festival sets a bad example for young children.

''Halloween pushes new generations towards a mentality of esoteric magic and it attacks sacred and spiritual values through a devious initiation to the art and images of the occult,'' he said.

''At best, it gives a big helping hand to consumerism and materialism,'' he added.


Halloween is not a traditional date on the Italian calendar but has been growing in popularity in recent years, with trick-or-treating becoming more common.

More than a million pumpkins are sold over the holiday while fancy-dress shops whose traditional bonanza came at Carnival time in February now make a killing in masks, costumes and accessories.

However, there is a small town in the southeastern region of Puglia, Orsara di Puglia, which has been celebrating Halloween for the past 1,000 years.

According to local historians, the only real difference between the American tradition and the town's version of Halloween is the date.

Halloween, a secular take on All Hallows Eve, the night before All Saints Day, is traditionally celebrated on the night of October 31, but in Orsara di Puglia the pumpkins come out on the evening between November 1 (All Saints Day) and Nov 2 (All Souls Day).

Hollowed-out and candle-lit pumpkins are placed outside homes on the evening of All Saints Day to keep away evil spirits and witches.

Townsfolks also light huge bonfires in the streets so as to illuminate the path of souls on their way to Purgatory.

Historians have traced Orsara's tradition back to a short-lived 8th-century incursion by a Germanic people, the Longobards, who in more northern parts supplanted older civilisations and reigned as the Lombards.


And to think all these years I thought Halloween was more or less innoncent fun. Here's a link to the post written by an Evangelical exorcist. Not much fun in this one either. It was posted on Pat Robertson's Christian Broadcast Network site and then taken down. Might have had to do with all the comments.

Michael Bayley has a very worthwhile post up on his site. Some of it deals with the connection between witches, midwives, and the influence of the rise in male medical practioners on maternal mortality rate and the whole process of giving birth. The Inquisition was not a positive event on many levels.

As fear driven as the Vatican seems to be getting, I guess I'm not surprised they have decided Halloween is dangerous. Actually, I would think all those evil spirits and energies would find Halloween a major put down and an insult, and as such, an energy decreasing rather than increasing celebration. So I say bring it on.

It's Time For Some Honesty, Not Blind Innocence

Photo of the recently deceased deposed Bishop of the Santa Clara diocese, Patrick G. Ziemann. Follow this link for his story on Bishop He avoided criminal prosecution courtesy of the now head of the CDF, Cardinal Levada.

The following from Andrew Sullivan's the Daily Dish is very pertinent to the discussion which opened in the comments section after yesterday's post on Hans Kung's article.

Brothers And Sisters
Andrew Sullivan, The Daily Dish, 10/29/09

Chris Dierkes, who has both Catholic and Anglican roots, notes an irony in the Pope's recent actions:

If personal experience and lifelong immersion in a sub-culture is any form of persuasive evidence, I can tell you that conservative Anglo-Catholicism — at the clerical level — is totally dominated by gay men. Mostly repressed. What used to be called when I was in seminary, the pink mafia. And the thing that is the initial trigger for this decision is the upcoming very likely to happen decision to ordain women as bishops in the Church of England (there have already been women priests there for about 15 years or so). Which has a certain irony in this case. If these Anglo-Catholics join the Roman Communion they can join up with very conservative Roman Catholic groups like Regnum Christi and The Legionaries of Christ, also totally dominated by closeted gay fellows. You don’t need to be Sigmund Freud to see the awesome tragic humor in a bunch of non-wife-having grown men wearing pink dresses (and in the Pope’s case super expensive fabulous Prada shoes!!!) telling everybody else they shouldn’t be gay.

We're not supposed to talk about this aspect of the drama in the Vatican. But there is as much an overlap of closeted gay priests and bishops with liturgical and theological orthodoxy as there is of closeted gay politicians finding ways to oppress other gays who are out and open.
Part of this is a function of generations.

If you had based your life - and sacrificed much of your emotional health - on the "intrinsic disorder" theory, you aren't exactly happy to reverse yourself in your old age. It suggests you gave up your life for an intrinsic illogic. Part is also just mysterious. But the fact that gay men have a disproportionate talent for order and theater and detail seems pretty obvious to me. No surprise then that among the best liturgical organizers are gay men - from choirmasters to priests to altar assistants. There is something very gay about a High Mass - it's almost the religious equivalent of a Broadway musical. So Benedict's sisterly outreach to the closet case smells-and-bells brigade among the Anglicans makes total sense. It's partly about keeping all the queens under one roof - and surrounded by incense and lace. (It's a strange kind of out reach for one particular group of gay men--and it's core very misogynist. The level of misogyny amongst this particular group of gay men is still something even Andrew Sullivan won't openly address.)

Weird, I know. But true. And I might as well admit it: I too love the old liturgies and ceremonies and drama of Catholicism. But for me, it's not sublimation but celebration of gay men's contribution to our churches. One day, we'll be able to offer our talents without having to sacrifice our integrity as human beings. One day, when all this fearful nonsense is blown away and the church can return to the Gospels and the sacraments, and gay people can be treated as, you know, the sinners that everyone else is as well.

Richard Sipe has just recently posted an important article on his own website which deals with the issue of closeted gay bishops. Here's a short excerpt which gives the angle of his thinking:

The pattern of sexual activity within the clerical system is woven into a clerical culture that despite verbal protestations and written directives does not really exercise informed discretion in the selection of its candidates; and most importantly the church does not educate its members for celibate living. Bishops and religious superiors are singularly resistant to explicit sexual and celibate training for clerical candidates; they rely on the tutelage of confessors and spiritual directors and the seminary schedule—horarium—to inculcate spirituality and the discipline of celibacy. The system fails in too many instances and those failures expose a flawed system based in part on a defective understanding of human sexuality.

Sex is the central and key problem of the Roman Catholic Church in this 21st Century—for lay and clergy alike. (Actually sex (and gender) is the key problem for all traditionally conservative movements.)

The sexual abuse crisis confronting the Roman Catholic Church is important, but it is merely one aspect of the unaddressed sexual concerns of the Church. It is clear from the response and cover-ups of the hierarchy to the clergy abuse crisis that they cannot deal with the sexual problems in their own ranks. One reason is the fear of exposing their sexual proclivities and practices.

Already in 1986 theologian William Shea listed what he called the tangle of issues that Catholic religious leadership is failing to face. No one has identified the reality of the challenges better or more succinctly: “They are: family life, divorce and remarriage, premarital and extramarital sex, birth control, abortion, homosexuality, masturbation, the role of women in the ministry, their ordination to the priesthood, the celibacy of the clergy, the male monopoly of leadership. Some have suggested that sex is, at bottom, the issue that clogs up our Catholic calendar. Fear of women, and perhaps hatred of them, may well be just what we have to work out of the Catholic system.” (23 years later we still have not begun to come to grips with any of this. We haven't even opened a discussion.)

I contend that the sexual live of priests-especially bishops-are what keep realistic and meaningful discussion of the sexual agenda under wraps. Although the area of clerical sex and celibacy is delicate to approach the subject of homosexuality is super sensitive and taboo.

I have to give the Vatican and our bishops a great deal of credit for keeping this discussion from ever happening by diverting so much attention to abortion and gay marriage. They have done a remarkable job of keeping the spot light focused on the 'sins' of the laity-especially women-instead of the hypocrisy of the clergy. It's been masterful but it's time we changed directions. We are paying too big a price for this insanity.

It doesn't make any sense to laicize and excommunicate Fr. Roy Burgeois because he participated in a woman's ordination while letting criminal pedophiles maintain their status, not just as Catholics still fully in communion, but in the case of our bishops, as priests. I understand the Canonical issues, but this speaks more to the fundamental injustice of Canon Law, than it does to my understanding of it.

We keep priests who impregnate women in the active clergy and on our payrolls if they denounce the women and abandon their child. And this says what about the sanctity of the family relative to the priesthood? Or for that matter, how much bigger statement is there to be made about the real status of women and the importance of children?

We instantly remove from ministry open and honest gays, heterosexual clergy who come clean and do the right thing about their 'illicit' love affairs, but raise self promoting hypocritical frauds to the episcopacy, virtually canonize known seminary abusers, and turn a blind eye to cardinals and bishops who surround themselves with young attractive priests. Why do we tolerate this?

Maybe because one skill Catholics pick up very early is the ability to feign innocence. We value innocence, whether it's real or not, above honesty and transparency. Or maybe it's we willingly substitute ignorance for innocence and willfully refuse to see what's plainly in front of our noses. We are paying, and forcing other Catholics to pay, too high a price to maintain our prized innocence when it comes to the sexuality of our clergy and our clergy are paying an even higher price.

This weird attitude also includes the lay hypocrisy of ignoring so much of the Church's sexual teaching without demanding, really demanding, the right to be taken into account in the promulgation of those teachings. Apparently we accept that the only rights our baptism gave us with regards to the teaching authority of the Church is the right to ignore the teaching authority. Sometimes I can't help but feel the real pastoral spirit which pervades this Church is the spirit of don't ask, don't tell.

Cardinal Rode and Archbishop Burke can engage in their version of a Broadway theatrical and parade around in their cappa magnas to their hearts content, but it isn't innocent and it isn't about exalting the Kingship of Christ. It's about taking, as in desperately hanging onto, the center stage role and the sole spotlight. It's all part of a masterfully executed charade. Catholicism can't afford this charade much longer. Too many people, for too many centuries have been corrupted or harmed by it.

It's time to blow open the doors of the secret clerical closet, not drag more clerical clothes out of it.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Hans Kung On Benedict's Imperial Move

The Vatican thirst for power divides Christianity and damages Catholicism
Hans Kung, Tuesday 27 October 2009 23.00 GMT

The astonishing efforts to lure away Anglican priests show that Pope Benedict is set on restoring the Roman imperium.

After Pope Benedict XVI's offences against the Jews and the Muslims, Protestants and reform-oriented Catholics, it is now the turn of the Anglican communion, which encompasses some 77 million members and is the third largest Christian confession after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches. Having brought back the extreme anti-reformist faction of the Pius X fraternity into the fold, Pope Benedict now hopes to fill up the dwindling ranks of the Catholic church with Anglicans sympathetic to Rome. Their conversion to the Catholic church is supposed to be made easier: Anglican priests and bishops shall be allowed to retain their standing, even when married. Traditionalists of the churches, unite! Under the cupola of St Peter's! The Fisher of Men is angling in waters of the extreme religious right.

This Roman action is a dramatic change of course: steering away from the well-proven ecumenical strategy of eye-level dialogue and honest understanding; steering towards an un-ecumenical luring away of Anglican priests, even dispensing with medieval celibacy law to enable them to come back to Rome under the lordship of the pope. Clearly, the well-meaning Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was no match for cunning Vatican diplomacy. In his cosying up with the Vatican, he evidently did not recognise the consequences. Otherwise he would not have put his signature to the downplaying communique of the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster. Can it be that those caught in the Roman dragnet do not see that they will never be more than second-class priests in the Roman church, that other Catholics are not meant to take part in their liturgical celebrations?

Ironically, this communique impudently invokes the truly ecumenical documents of the Anglican–Roman Catholic International Commission, which were worked out in laborious negotiations between the Roman Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Anglican Lambeth conference: documents on the Eucharist (1971), on church office and ordination (1973), and on authority in the church (1976/81). People in the know, however, recognise that these three documents, subscribed to by both sides at that time, aimed not at recruitment, but rather at reconciliation. These documents of honest reconciliation provide the basis for a recognition of Anglican orders, which Pope Leo XIII, back in 1896, with anything but convincing arguments, had declared invalid. But from the validity of Anglican orders follows the validity of Anglican celebrations of the Eucharist. And so mutual Eucharistic hospitality would be possible; in fact, intercommunion. A slow process of growing together of Catholics and Anglicans would have been the consequence.

However, the Vatican Congregation on the Doctrine of the Faith quickly made sure that these documents of reconciliation disappeared in the dungeons of the Vatican. That's called "shelving". At the time, a confidential press release out of the Vatican cited "too much Küng theology" in them – in other words, a theological basis for a rapprochement between the churches of Rome and Canterbury.

As I wrote in 1967, "a resumption of ecclesial community between the Catholic church and the Anglican church" would be possible, when "the Church of England, on the one side, shall be given the guarantee that its current autochthonous and autonomous church order under the Primate of Canterbury will be preserved fully" and when, "on the other side, the Church of England shall recognise the existence of a pastoral primacy of Petrine ministry as the supreme authority for mediation and arbitration between the churches." "In this way," I expressed my hopes then, "out of the Roman imperium might emerge a Catholic commonwealth."

But Pope Benedict is set upon restoring the Roman imperium. He makes no concessions to the Anglican communion. On the contrary, he wants to preserve the medieval, centralistic Roman system for all ages – even if this makes impossible the reconciliation of the Christian churches in fundamental questions. Evidently, the papal primacy – which Pope Paul VI admitted was the greatest stumbling block to the unity of the churches – does not function as the "rock of unity". The old-fashioned call for a "return to Rome" raises its ugly head again, this time through the conversion particularly of the priests, if possible, en masse. In Rome, one speaks of a half-million Anglicans and 20 to 30 bishops. And what about the remaining 76 million? This is a strategy whose failure has been demonstrated in past centuries and which, at best, might lead to the founding of a "uniate" Anglican "mini-church" in the form of a personal prelature, not a territorial diocese. But what are the consequences of this strategy already today?

First, a further weakening of the Anglican church. In the Vatican, opponents of ecumenism rejoice over the conservative influx. In the Anglican church, liberals rejoice over the departure of the catholicising troublemakers. For the Anglican church, this split means further corrosion. It is already suffering from the consequences of the heedless and unnecessary election of an avowed gay priest as bishop in the US, an event that split his own diocese and the whole Anglican communion. This friction has been enhanced by the ambivalent attitude of the church's leadership with respect to homosexual partnerships. Many Anglicans would accept a civil registration of such couples with wide-ranging legal consequences, for instance in inheritance law, and would even accept an ecclesiastical blessing for them, but they would not accept a "marriage" in the traditional sense reserved for partnerships between a man and a woman, nor would they accept a right to adoption for such couples. (Hans has an axe to grind here. Apparently even he thinks it's better for Christianity that gay clergy stay in a closet. I can't believe Hans truly thinks the gay issue wouldn't have surfaced in the Anglican Church if Gene Robinson had stayed in his closet. This whole paragraph is a gratuitous add on.)

Second, the widespread disturbance of the Anglican faithful. The departure of Anglican priests and their re-ordination in the Catholic church raises grave questions for many Anglicans: are Anglican priests validly ordained? Should the faithful together with their pastor convert to the Catholic church? (I think it's fairly apparent that the Vatican is demanding conversion. I believe these bishops actually swore on the catechism. That must make the catechism the real Catholic bible, or maybe it's Canon Law.)

Third, the irritation of the Catholic clergy and laity. Discontent over the ongoing resistance to reform is spreading to even the most faithful members of the Catholic church. Since the Second Vatican Council in the 60s, many episcopal conferences, pastors and believers have been calling for the abolition of the medieval prohibition of marriage for priests, a prohibition which, in the last few decades, has deprived almost half of our parishes of their own pastor. Time and again, the reformers have run into Ratzinger's stubborn, uncomprehending intransigence. And now these Catholic priests are expected to tolerate married, convert priests alongside themselves. When they want themselves to marry, should they first turn Anglican, and then return to the church? (Hans, I think you are behind the times. A lot of us are calling for the abolition of the whole clerical system. It's rotten at it's core and married priests will only be another caste, ineligible for promotion, spoiled by the rotten core.)
Just as we have seen over many centuries – in the east-west schism of the 11th century, in the 16th century Reformation and in the First Vatican Council of the 19th century – the Roman thirst for power divides Christianity and damages its own church. It is a tragedy.


In this analysis Hans hits some important points and then kind of drops the ball on the Gene Robinson issue. Bishop Robinson was not submitted by a group of Episcopalian yes men and appointed by a pope, like in Catholicism. He did not appoint himself. He was elected by his diocese. The people spoke.

When the people speak locally, sometimes it's a shout heard round the world. Some people, and Hans Kung appears to be one of these people, choose to see Bishop Robinson's appointment as an attack on the traditional interpretation of the Bible and as a primary reason for the disunity in Anglicanism. Others, and I happen to be one of those, see it as a vote for honesty and integrity. This is the kind of vote which says unity at the price of deception, secrecy, and dishonesty is not unity. It's fraud, and leads to more fraud and to other more heinous sins and crimes. This dishonesty about gay priests and bishops is part of the rot at the core of clericalism. The healthy move is not to kick them out of the clergy, it's to kick them out of the closet. Maybe Hans will get this some day.

The rest of his assessment is on target. Finally someone has told some truth. The resistance to the 'reform of the reform' is spreading to even the most faithful members of the Church. Anecdotal stories from places like Maine show the truth of this observation. Pious life long Catholics are admitting to embarrassment as Catholics as the gay marriage proposition moves towards a vote, and as it gets more vicious and more silly. Catholics are beginning to see that secular gay marriage is no threat to their sacramental marriages or to the Roman Catholic Church. Other issues are far more threatening, and one of those might just be who is really funding the Catholic Church's opposition?

As Kung points out in this editorial, Benedict has essentially trashed forty years of ecumenism which was aiming for a form of unity for the entirety of the Anglican Church. He did this for the sake of maybe half a million Anglicans, but especially to get their priests. Unity for the other 76.5 million Anglicans has been set back decades. Just as it has for other mainline protestant denominations.

Before anyone objects that the Anglicans did this to themselves with women clergy, Bishop Gene Robinson, and gay blessings, I have to remind folks that these issues had surfaced in other Christian denominations before the Anglicans followed suit, and they now exist in even more denominations. If Christian unity was really the point of this exercise, it's a unity based strictly on Catholic interpretation, and there for is not unity at all. It's uniformity through conversion. That's not ecumenism.

In the meantime the Southern Cone and African Anglicans have told the Pope thanks but no thanks. I never thought for one minute they would give up their outside money and supposed independent voice on the world stage for the sake of unifying with Rome. Benedict has his work cut out for him if his vision of unifying conservative cultural forces under Rome is to come to fruition. Opus Dei, the Legion, and the Neocats better get cracking because they are fighting entrenched well funded interests in the Evangelical movement in South America, and the same kind of well funded Anglican interests in Africa. Vatican control of the reactionary Christian religious movements won't come cheap or easily and it will certainly cost him all the progressives and most of the center in the Catholic Church itself.

I seriously doubt the moneyed interests behind these movements cares who 'wins'. The battle will leave the victor more or less vanquished and malleable and that is the whole idea. Personally I take great hope in the little scrum happening in New York State. The special race in the 23rd Congressional District is the perfect example of what happens when conservatives assert their voices. They split the movement and the progressives could very well win where they have never won. I doubt that's the outcome Benedict envisions, but it may be the one he gets.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cardinal Solomon In All His Glory

For those who are interested the National Catholic Reporter has more photos Cardinal Rode in all his worldly splendor. They also have an interview with Cardinal Rode which is every bit as fascinating to read as his celebratory finery is to contemplate.

I couldn't help but notice how the above photo demonstrates what an inclusive church Cardinal Rode's vision encompasses. Notice all the poor people and women? What can you expect, this is a photo taken at the consecration of some male Deacons. No wonder there are no poor people or women. Sheeesh. This was a ceremony for the important people in the Church.

In his interview Rode maintains he had nothing to do with either the LCWR investigation or the Legionnaire's. I'm quite ready to believe that was true in the case of the Legionnaire's. I'm not so sure about the LCWR. Rode blames it on younger members of LCWR congregations and American Cardinals in Rome. I guess that proves that the Vatican is willing to take some sisters seriously. He then glowingly describes the new religious orders and the numbers of new adherents and how wonderful all this is for the Church. This comes after he has this to say about Vatican II:

Looking back, Rodé believes that Vatican II, while designed to generate a moderate reform, instead triggered “the greatest crisis in church history.”

“In the 16th century, during the Reformation, many religious left the church and many convents were closed, but it was geographically limited, more or less to Northern Europe,” he said. “In the French Revolution, there was another catastrophe, but it was limited to France. The crisis after the Second Vatican Council, however, was the first truly global crisis.”
“We’ve paid a very steep price due to a secularized, worldly mentality,” he said.

Judging from his choice in liturgical dress up, no one is going to accuse Rode of having a 'secularized, worldly mentality'.

When he says we, I can't help but think he's not really referring to the whole church. I think he's referring to the Church he lives in. That's the Church that hasn't quite assimilated it's really 2009 and not 1609. That's the Church that doesn't believe it has anything at all to do with the exodus of people out of the pews in the West. That's the Church that blames Vatican II for every ill that actually had it's genesis in the clericalism and theology of the pre Vatican II church. That's the Church that believes the only good gays are closeted clerical gays who dress in Trenten drag. That's also the Church that believes the only good nuns are the ones in cloistered monastic closets whose clothes conceal every facet of their sexuality and individuality. Apparently it's easier to deal with the feminine in the Church when the feminine is presented as colorless drab a-sexual clones. A type of feminine identity which doesn't compete at all with the male cleric in all his peacock glory. Natural law operating at it's finest, I guess.

Basta, I say!! The pictures themselves are worth thousands of words. I don't need to add any more.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

No One Washes A Rental Car

This post may go all over the map, so have some patience because eventually I think it will deal with a fairly important human trait. It might be the reason for a lot of the frustration and estrangement with the Church.

A long time ago, when I taught management, one of the points I really stressed was that management was a lot easier when subordinates were emotionally and psychologically invested in the project. If a manager could accomplish this their job was not just easier, but they would be more successful. When projects became truly shared endeavors, with everyones energy working for the success of the project, those projects had a much higher success rate.

Since my students were in the mining and petroleum fields they would look at me like I was a bleeding heart liberal idiot. In view of the historical labor issues involved in mining this was a reasonable view on their part. It was a point of view which was not going to be easy to overcome unless I took them outside of their comfort zone.

I did this by taking these bright practical engineering students and had them engage in promoting rock concerts. At first they felt completely intimidated by the notion they could be successful at it. Rock concerts were something they all enjoyed, but the technical aspects of promotion and production seemed beyond them. They were meant to be the audience, not the promoters.

What they learned was that promoting rock concerts used the same kinds of skill sets that any organized human endeavor required. Once they were no longer intimidated by the contracts and technical terminology they emotionally invested in the projects and a great time was had by all. Instead of promoting just one concert, this group produced a half a dozen, some of them in unusual venues, where the technical aspects became very daunting--unless you were an engineer and then they were challenging and fun.

Somewhere in the last forty years, the Vatican has lost site of the importance of assuring that the People of God emotionally and psychologically invest in the mission of the Church. A lot of us took up that call of Vatican II and became emotionally invested as part owners of the new Church. It became a living breathing part of us, but that sense of ownership was not appreciated by certain of the Vatican's old guard and they haven risen up to take back the ownership.

It's a common mistake of fear filled managers of failing companies to focus on managing the subordinate managers and restricting access to the information flow. Centralizing authority seems the right tactic to take rather than focusing on the hard work of creating something people will invest in. The political, economic, and religious landscape is littered with the corpses and soon to be corpses of this strategy. It does not work.

As the saying goes, no one washes a rental car. For a lot of us, the current version of Catholicism is a rental car. It works to get you where you need to go, but it's real easy to walk away from in order to find something you can actually own.

This dynamic can be seen in the evolution of the LCWR congregations. The LCWR have been on a long journey to find and define a Catholicism they could actually own. They had the emotional freedom to do that because they were never involved in the decision making aspects of the Church. They were never involved in the constructing or promulgating if dogma, doctrine, and discipline. They had no vested personal interest in defending that which they hadn't defined. I don't imagine they were actually aware of this until the Vatican gave them the green light to go and define themselves. They sure vested in that concept. It really shouldn't come as any surprise that in that process, precisely because they were emotionally free of needing to defend every jot and tittle in the code of Canon Law, they didn't accept every jot and tittle. They were free to discard a lot stuff they were renting and not owning.

A lot of us have engaged in that exact same process. We are not emotionally vested in, nor do we feel a sense of ownership for a lot of what passes for Catholicism in 2009. It's strictly a rental and one that doesn't work very well to get us where we need to go. The soon to be shoved at us new English translation of the Mass will only serve to reinforce this feeling of personal estrangement. This time it will include a lot of clergy because unlike the archaic teachings on marriage, or the investigation of the LCWR, this one directly impacts a very sacred piece of their personal sense of ownership. If South Africa is any indication, very few priests are going to claim any desire to invest in this translation. (You would think the Vatican would have learned something from how poorly Vatican II was implemented- and in some cases received. I guess not.)

In the US this means the Vatican will have hit the trifecta of disenfranchising a majority of the laity, a majority of the religious, and a majority of the priesthood. That's right up there with EF Hutton's success rate, and as we all know, no one listens to them anymore.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Will The USCCB Give It's Stamp Of Approval To The ICEL (Vatican) English Translation of The Mass?

I sometimes despair of any of the silent majority of our bishops ever speaking out. Not today.
Bishop Trautman is one bishop who is speaking out, and he's speaking out on an extremely critical issue--that of the new translation for the Mass in English. It's critical because this is not just a new translation, it also encompasses changing our understanding of the very mission of Jesus. This is an attack on the core message of Vatican II about the nature of salvation. I hope more bishops rally to Bishop Trautman because this fight is worth their careers. That is if the long standing truth of the Church actually means anything to them.

'Slavishly literal' translation of missal criticized
By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service--10/26/09

WASHINGTON -- Bishop Donald W. Trautman of Erie, Pa., former chairman of the U.S. bishops' liturgy committee, sharply criticized what he called the "slavishly literal" translation into English of the new Roman Missal from the original Latin.
He said the "sacred language" used by translators "tends to be elitist and remote from everyday speech and frequently not understandable" and could lead to a "pastoral disaster."
"The vast majority of God's people in the assembly are not familiar with words of the new missal like 'ineffable,' 'consubstantial,' 'incarnate,' 'inviolate,' 'oblation,' 'ignominy,' 'precursor,' 'suffused' and 'unvanquished.' The vocabulary is not readily understandable by the average Catholic," Trautman said.

"The [Second Vatican Council's] Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy stipulated vernacular language, not sacred language," he added. "Did Jesus ever speak to the people of his day in words beyond their comprehension? Did Jesus ever use terms or expressions beyond his hearer's understanding?"

Trautman made his remarks in an Oct. 22 lecture at The Catholic University of America in Washington, as part of the Msgr. Frederick R. McManus Lecture Series. Msgr. McManus, a liturgist, served as a peritus, or expert, during Vatican II.

The Roman Missal has not yet been given final approval for use in the United States. The U.S. bishops were scheduled to vote on four items pertaining to the missal at their November general meeting in Baltimore. It is expected that the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments would give its "recognitio," or approval, at some point following the U.S. bishops' vote.

Trautman took note of sentences in the new missal that he said run 66, 70 and 83 words, declaring that they were "unproclaimable" by the speaker and "incomprehensible" to the hearer.
"American Catholics have every right to expect the translation of the new missal to follow the rules for English grammar. The prefaces of the new missal, however, violate English syntax in a most egregious way," Trautman said, citing some examples in his remarks.

"The translators have slavishly transposed a Lain 'qui' clause into English without respecting English sentence word order," he added. The bishop also pointed out subordinate clauses from the missal that are "represented as a sentence," and sentences lacking a subject and predicate.
Trautman also questioned the use of "I believe" in the retranslated version of the Nicene Creed, "even though the original and official Nicene Creed promulgated by the first Ecumenical Council of Nicaea in 325 said 'we believe' in both the Greek and Latin versions.

"Since this is a creedal prayer recited by the entire assembly in unison, the use of 'we' emphasized the unity of the assembly in praying this together as one body. Changing the plural form of 'we' to 'I' in the Nicene Creed goes against all ecumenical agreements regarding common prayer texts," he said.

The bishop complained about the lack of "pastoral style" in the new translation. The current wording in Eucharistic Prayer 3 asks God to "welcome into your kingdom our departed brothers and sisters," which he considered "inspiring, hope-filled, consoling, memorable."
The new translation asks God to "give kind admittance to your kingdom," which Trautman called "a dull lackluster expression which reminds one of a ticket-taker at the door. ... The first text reflects a pleading, passionate heart and the latter text a formality -- cold and insipid." (In spite of the frequent use of polysyllabic hi fallutin' English words, the new translation really does come off more than a little 'insipid', even saccharine--or for the less verbally enlightened, syrupy and sugary.)

Trautman quoted the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which said rites and texts "should radiate a noble simplicity. They should be short, clear, free from useless repetition. They should be within the people's powers of comprehension, and normally should not require much explanation."

"Why are these conciliar directives not implemented in the new missal?" he asked. They are "especially" relevant, Trautman added, to "the people of the third millennium: children, teenagers, adults, those with varying degrees of education, and those with English as a second language."

He acknowledged that "there are those who disagree with the way the liturgical reform of Vatican II was interpreted and implemented" and who maintained that "a reform of the reform" was necessary to stem what they saw as "diminishing religiosity [and] declining Mass attendance" tied to the Mass texts.

But while "the Latin text is the official, authoritative text," Trautman said, "the Latin text is not inspired. It is a human text, reflecting a certain mindset, theology and world view."
(This is a most important point. The Latin text does not fall into the realm of revelation, no matter what Latin traditionalist might want us to believe.)

As a consequence, "a major and radical change" and "a major pastoral, catechetical problem erupts" in the new missal during the words of consecration, which say that the blood of Christ "will be poured out for you and for many," instead of "for all," as is currently the practice.

"For whom did Jesus not die?" Trautman asked. "In 1974 the Holy See itself had approved our present words of institution [consecration] as an accurate, orthodox translation of the Latin phrase 'pro multis,'" he added. "It is a doctrine of our Catholic faith that Jesus died on the cross for all people." (This one simple little change completely redefines the saving mission of Jesus. It needs to be rejected, not just challenged.)

Trautman took issue with a 2006 letter to bishops by Nigerian Cardinal Francis Arinze, then head of the Vatican Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, which said that "salvation is not brought about in some mechanistic way, without one's own willing or participation."
"I respond that Jesus died even for those who reject his grace. He died for all," Trautman said.
"Why do we now have a reversal? The Aramaic and Latin texts have not changed. The scriptural arguments have not changed, but the insistence on literal translation has changed.

Trautman hearkened back to Msgr. McManus, whom he called "an apostle of the liturgical renewal."
"If Msgr. McManus were with us today, he would call us to fidelity to the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy and encourage us to produce a translation of the missal that is accurate, inspiring, referent, proclaimable, understandable, pastoral in every sense -- a text that raises our minds and hearts to God."


By the time the USCCB convenes in November (16-19) they may find they have a lot on their plates, but none more important than the approval or disapproval of the ICEL translation of the Mass. While the pastoral letter on marriage has already garnered a great deal of attention, and may hopefully have been rejected by voters in Maine, and Benedict's latest initiative will also generate interest, Bishop Trautman is focused on the key issue for American Catholicism going forward. Whose definition of Church matters in American Catholicism? If it's only the Vatican's definition, and the ICEL translation reflects only the Vatican, why bother with a Bishop's conference at all?

The ICEL translation, it's history, and how it was disseminated by the Vatican go right to the heart of the issue of collegiality. If this is rubber stamped, with these explicit changes in core understandings of the mission of Jesus, then the notion that conferences of bishops have any real authority is a freaking joke. They exist for one purpose only and that's to perpetrate the charade that the Vatican actually cares about what someone other than the Vatican--read only certain factions in the Vatican--actually think. Benedict has already proven time and again that he doesn't give a Ratzinger's ass about what anyone else actually thinks. He only cares to listen to those who agree with his vision of Catholicism.

If the USCCB cares about the reality of their own authority, if they really care about American Catholicism, if they really care about the truth of the mission of Jesus, they will reject this translation and join their voices to their brother bishops in South Africa. They won't put their stamp of approval on this Vatican hijacking of the English Mass and it's reinterpretation of Vatican II. If they do rubber stamp this thing through, they will have proven there is no need to waste any more money on USCCB meetings. Leadership via Vatican email will suffice and it's a lot cheaper.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

A Little Bit Of Reinforcement On Some Of My Idle Speculations

Meeting of Traditional Anglican People's Front, or is it the Traditional People's Front of Anglicanism. What ever, Rome has their eyes on them.

Here's an English editorialist who seems to be coming to some of the same conclusions I am with regards to dear Benedict's latest impulsive move. It's not about ecumenism. It's about sex and the type of sexual ethics that reinforce the traditional role of the heterosexual male at the top of the social pyramid.

Pope Benedict opens new front in battle for the soul of two churches
Diarmud MacCulloch, 10/25/2009

The pope's offer to Church of England members to switch to the Vatican was ill thought-out and could signal a struggle for the soul of both churches.

Over the centuries, the great church councils of Christian history have normally been held in magnificent echoing basilicas and stately palaces – but the church moves with the times. In 2003 a luxury hotel in Dallas, self-proclaimed as the largest in Texas (now that's big), hosted a gathering of very angry conservative American Anglicans, determined to do something about the consecration of a gay man, Gene Robinson, as a bishop of the US Episcopal church, sister church to the Church of England.
As they dithered about what doing something might mean, the delegates were electrified to receive an encouraging message from no less a figure than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger. This was remarkable, because Ratzinger was head of the Roman Catholic church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: what in less mealy-mouthed times was known as the Inquisition. (I love this line.)

Rather than ordering this roomful of Protestants to be burnt at the stake, Ratzinger assured them of his "heartfelt prayers" for all those taking part in this convocation. "The significance of your meeting is sensed far beyond [Dallas] and even in this city, from which St Augustine of Canterbury was sent to confirm and strengthen the preaching of Christ's Gospel in England." There was wild applause.

So the former Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, has form when it comes to sudden dramatic interventions in Anglican affairs. And now he has done it again. The announcement that whole parishes or even dioceses of Anglicans will be welcomed to Rome and allowed to keep many of their customs has been channelled through his successor in that line of prelates heading the Inquisition, Cardinal William Joseph Levada.

Benedict's idiosyncratic version of ecumenism overturns all the careful negotiations between the mainstream churches built up over the past half century. Rather, as in various other controversial personal initiatives of his pontificate, to do with Muslims or condoms in Africa, the pope has jumped into a delicate situation regardless of consultation with those in the Vatican who have charge of such matters. Senior figures in the Catholic church in England did not all seem up to speed with the decision when it was announced.

There has been a great deal of excited talk about this move: one hysterical front-page headline in the Times proclaimed that 400,000 Anglicans were poised to head for the Tiber. This turns out to be the self-estimated membership of a faction calling itself the Traditional Anglican Communion. (All these Anglican splinter groups get confusing. It reminds me of Monte Python's life of Brian: see photo.)
Equally extravagant claims that this could be the end of the Protestant Reformation need to be taken with several fontfuls of salt. It is in the interests of various discontented groups on the margins of Anglicanism to talk up the significance of the latest piece of papal theatre, while ignoring its wider context.

This much broader struggle within Christianity at first sight appears to be about sex. Throughout the world, the most easily heard tone in religion (not just Christianity) is of a generally angry conservatism. Why? I hazard that the anger centres on a profound shift in gender roles traditionally given a religious significance and validated by religious traditions.
The conservative backlash embodies the hurt of heterosexual men (or those who would like to pass for being heterosexual men) at cultural shifts which have generally threatened to marginalise them and deprive them of dignity, hegemony or even much usefulness. What they notice amid their hurt is that the sacred texts generally back them in their assumptions, and they therefore assert the authority of sacred scripture. (I disagree with this trend marginalizing heterosexual men. It's more forcing them to let go of sole possession of the center stage spot light and move a little stage left to share the light with others. If that's marginalizing them than so be it.)

They fail to hear other voices in scripture, just as two centuries ago those who perfectly rightly believed the Bible legitimised slavery failed to hear the Bible's other message – that freedom is a universal Christian value. Self-styled "traditionalist" Anglicans and the Curia both emphasise ancient authority in their efforts to outface the inexorable realities of modern life, which some others might style new workings of the Holy Spirit. King Canute's courtiers would have signed up to Pope Benedict's proposed new jurisdictions.

The other concealed struggle behind this move is an internal split within the Catholic church over the legacy of the Second Vatican Council, that half-completed church revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, which suddenly introduced to astonished Catholics religious customs previously enjoyed only by Protestants, such as worship in vernacular languages, popular music in the liturgy, layfolk involved in church government and the faithful thinking seriously for themselves on matters of doctrine and biblical interpretation.

Virtually no one in the Vatican dares openly criticise the great council, but neither John Paul II nor his successor have been enthusiasts for the messages embodied in its statements of faith, which so brusquely overturned the safe doctrinal texts prepared for the council by the Holy Office (the Roman Inquisition). (I love this line too. However, some parts of the carefully prepared texts were snuck back in before final publication of the official texts.)

They have been horrified by many of the council's results. Since John Paul II's election as Pope in 1978, there have been grim attempts to suppress growing Catholic calls for married clergy, for women clergy, for a greater real place for the laity in church decision-making, even merely for a real say for bishops of the church in decision-making.

John Paul II and Benedict have created the most centralised regime that Catholicism has ever known – a far cry from its state in either the medieval period or the Counter-Reformation. It is with an anxious ear for those alternative voices, not much different from those of mainstream wishy-washy liberal Anglicans, that Pope Benedict seeks to encourage those who think like him beyond the walls, and to bring them inside the fortifications.

Much is left unsaid amid the present triumphalist crowings of those Catholics who see this as a victory over a feeble, tottering Anglicanism, since Anglicans are temperamentally disinclined to blow their own trumpets. The Church of England is not about to disintegrate, as anyone who knows its day-to-day life, rather than listening to what journalists say about it, will be aware. Most Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals are fed up with all the name-calling, intolerance and calls for revolt. (In other words the average pew sitter was not writing letters to the Vatican asking for admittance. It was their leadership, whose motives may be suspect, which was doing all the hand wringing in the Vatican. Apparently these male bishops don't want women and gays in their exclusive exalted ranks--well, at least openly gay.)

The flow of Roman Catholics to Anglicanism has its counterpart in the flow of dissidents in the other direction. One particular flow has been little commented on: in the 1990s a few hundred Anglican clergy took a generous compensation package from the C of E and were received into the Church of Rome. A significant number then came back to Canterbury, because Rome was not what they expected. (Maybe it was too gay.)

It will be interesting to see exactly which customs the Vatican is going to allow from the past rich five centuries of Anglican worship, life and thought. Married clergy will have to be part of the package. What do faithful celibate priests of the Roman Obedience think about seeing their new colleagues happily allowed to bypass compulsory celibacy?

This will be different from the so-called "Greek Catholic" churches in eastern Europe. For centuries Greek Catholics have accepted Roman authority alongside married clergy with Orthodox beards and Orthodox liturgy, but they have had the decency to keep themselves to themselves.

These newly acquired Anglicans will be much closer to the centre, much more annoyingly able to go their own way in the midst of ordinary Catholic parishes. (This is an excellent point. These Anglican parishes--should any actually materialize-will be right there with Catholic parishes, not exotic, not foreign, highly accessible.)
There is one killer fact about the pope's present move. "Traditionalist" Anglicanism is a shotgun marriage between incompatible groups: extreme Anglo-Catholics and extreme evangelicals. One group believes an Anglican holy communion is the mass, and surrounds it with appropriate magnificence and ancient ceremony; the other thinks the mass is a blasphemy and stresses that holy communion is the Lord's supper, plain and simple.

Because of that, they cannot even agree on what a clergyman is, or what he does (though they can all agree that he ought to be he). Evangelical traditionalists, meanwhile, have no time for a reunion with an unreformed Church of Rome. Their alliance with the traditionalist Anglo-Catholics has been one of convenience, because both sides cannot stomach women in positions of clerical authority (for entirely opposite reasons) and hate the idea that homosexuals might be just part of the spectrum of boring normality in God's creation.

(Anglo-Catholics are more muffled in their outrage on this one, given how many of them are gay themselves.) So the pope's move will split the traditionalists down the middle and reveal how fragile their alliance is. The best law in church history is the law of unintended consequences.

In one sense, this is a storm in a teacup, stirred by an elderly cleric in the Vatican with a private agenda and a track record of ill-thought-out policy moves. In another, it is a fascinating moment in a confrontation as much a struggle for the soul of the Church of Rome as of the Church of England. Once we have got past the screaming headlines, we should keep an eye open for the real story. (So far it's not a story that has much to do with the actual Jesus.)


No comment from me on this one, since it covers quite a bit of what I wrote yesterday. I did come across one other story of note on a different topic. This one has to do with the professional pro life movement and the depth of their hypocrisy. Here's the link.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Connecting Some Vatican Dots Draws An Interesting Picture

I strongly suspect that the recent overture to disgruntled Anglicans is not just about providing a welcome mat to some Anglicans, but is in effect setting the parameters and precedent for reunification with the Russian Orthodox Church--amongst other culturally conservative Christian churches. It also is another step in what I see as the real agenda of Benedict's papacy.

First, the issue of Papal primacy has taken a back burner in this Anglican invitation in favor of the doctrinal and cultural issues of gays and women clergy. In giving socially conservative Anglicans their own rite, with little said so far about the extent of Vatican influence in their internal affairs, the Vatican is sending a message. It's a message which should play very well in Russian Orthodox circles where there is the same concern about the decay of Western morality and church discipline, but also serious questions about the extent and nature of papal primacy. There is no longer much concern about liturgical issues, since Benedict issued his Motu Proprio--an act which has the additional potential of paving the way for dividing Roman Catholicism along liturgical lines.
It's beginning to look to me as if Benedict has always had a long term strategy for his Papacy, and it's not one he has been transparent about. His goal seems to be the unification of certain socially conservative segments of Christianity even if it means a less autocratic centralized papacy.

In Roman Catholicism itself, he is doing exactly the opposite. He is underscoring papal authority in order to foster division between traditionalists and Vatican II progressives and between the West and the South. He is doing as much as he can to isolate Western progressives and it's purposeful. It looks to me that Western progressives are the price he is willing to pay for his idea of socially regressive ecumenism.

None of these Vatican moves have had anything to do with real ecumenism. They are all reactionary moves that work against forward cultural evolution. They have everything to do with fostering a unification amongst socially conservative Christian groups in order to provide a united front against post modernism and secular notions of human rights and equality. It's about keeping the old guard, the old culture, and the old ways in charge.

Should the talks with SSPX follow along the lines I think they will, accommodation will be made for SSPX to give lip service to Vatican II as a pastoral council that did not make any radical breaks with Vatican I or Trent. The contested devils came in how the details were implemented and it was grossly misinterpreted in the subsequent years. JPII and now Benedict have been doing their best to reform the reform, but it takes time. SSPX will give them time.

This will be another favorable message to the Orthodox, and undoubtedly will be as well received as Bendict's Motu Proprio. SSPX will be welcomed back with even wider arms. The Orthodox will be smiling on the Vatican even more favorably. In time these overtures will be extended to socially conservative Christians of other persuasions. I wouldn't be surprised if there aren't secret talks taking place amongst the Vatican and disgruntled Lutherans even as I write.

However, the biggest reason I think this is the true agenda is because all of these overtures have been taken in secrecy without any consultation with the wider church--even within the Vatican itself. The Times of London has written that not one single English Catholic bishop participated in the discussions that led to this latest overture by Benedict. They were sandbagged. Virtually the entire Church was sandbagged by the lifting of the SSPX excommunication. Very few people were consulted before the issuing of Benedict's Motu Proprio and many of those who were, objected to it. ICEL was dumped wholesale in favor of non English speaking traditionalists. Benedict has stocked the Vatican dicasteries with the conservative yes men, some of them the worst reactionaries in American Catholicism, and lest I forget, there are the dual LCWR investigations which in reality are aimed as much at American progressives as they are the LCWR.

I don't see this latest offer from the Vatican as a product of some sort of enlightened ecumenism. It's another secretive purposeful salvo designed to split Christianity along cultural rather than theological lines and it's aimed as much at Roman Catholicism itself as other Christian denominations. The schism is coming in Catholicism because Benedict and his backers want it and are actively pushing for it.

Are you listening Rowan Williams? The only difference between what's happened in Anglicanism and what's happening in Catholicism is Benedict is on the side of all the secret reactionary money and you aren't. If Benedict continues on this path he will provide you with plenty of company and best of all you can finally act with full integrity, a concept he doesn't seem to understand.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dreams, Revelation and Discernment

I've spent a lot of the last two days doing two things, reading on the Vatican decision to allow conservative Anglicans to convert in mass, and dealing with the flu. I've slept a lot and had numerous half waking dreams. Sometimes these dreams bled one into another and I felt I was making some sort of progress, but towards what I couldn't remember.

Now that I'm feeling a lot better and am very rested, I'm thinking my dreams were a metaphor for Catholicism. It's making some sort of progress, but it's chaotic and has forgotten what the progress is towards. I think the Magisterium is facing a couple of critical problems beyond the ones they have surrounding sexual morality. One is in the province of discernment and the other is in poorly understood notions of what a mystical Eucharistic community is really about.

There were two comments that triggered my thinking, and unfortunately I didn't bookmark the pages, so I can't share the links. The first was the simple observation that unity in belief is not something an institution can dictate or offer, it's something an individual awakens too on one's own spiritual path. In this sense unity is a mystical awakening, a journey in understanding that we, all of us, are truly one when it comes to the Universal creator. There really is no Jew, no gentile, no male, no female, no gay, no straight, no Anglican, no Catholic, no left, no right.

What institutional religion adds to this truth is impediments to it's realization, not much to it's fulfillment. It is individuals with in a tradition,who have reached this awakening that add to man's understanding of it's truth. Hence it is not Catholicism which propels us to this awakening, it is specific Catholics like St. Francis, St Theresa of Lisieux, Dorothy Day or St John of the Cross.

These individuals can also be mystics of other traditions, because all awakened people from any tradition eventually come to this understanding that we are all one and all partake of the same greater consciousness. When one begins to grasp this one understands that to judge another is to judge the Creator and His Creation, just as to condemn another is to condemn the Creator and His Creation. This is a hard truth. It is difficult to live. Believe me, I know I have way too frequently tripped over this truth in writing this blog.

There is however, a distinction between individuals and institutions. Jesus did not extend the same understanding and compassion to the institutions of his time as he did to individuals. In fact, He castigated the institutions precisely for putting impediments in the way of awakening to the truth of the Kingdom--that the Kingdom is with in individuals, not institutions. This distinction is what the Magisterium is doing it's best to obliterate. They are doing everything they can to maintain the Kingdom exists with in the institution and not the individual.

Which brings me to discernment. Part of this process of obliterating this core truth is maintaining that the Holy Spirit is heard in it's total truth only by the Hierarchy--by those who are set aside as special by the Institution. It's seen all the time in circular reasoning which reflects strictly on it's own past pronouncements.

Michael Bayley, on his blog Wild Reed, has a very good post on this process as it plays out in the soon to be released pastoral statement on marriage. Essentially what the bishops are asking us to do is suspend our individual faith, reason, and experience in favor of their definition of divine revelation. They allow for no possibility that the Holy Spirit might be influencing any other individual or group in any truthful or Spirit led way. They alone have the direct pipeline to God's will. They are telling us in no uncertain terms that our faith and reason are only adequately formed if we follow their divine revelations. The Spirit does not work with us as individuals, only them.

I suspect this discernment issue is another reason the LCWR is receiving their investigation. The discernment process used by the LCWR has proven to be a problem. Individual sisters and some congregations have followed the discernment process and have awakened to that universal truth that we are all equal, all members of the same God consciousness, and Catholicism is one path amongst many paths one can use to arrive at the same understanding. It is most certainly a beautiful and inspirational path, but it hasn't cornered the market on spiritual truth. It most certainly needs to be shared and cherished (with other traditions) because it is part of God's splendid concept of unity in diversity.

One last thought. There was one other comment I read from a very pious and traditional Catholic who was quite concerned with offending the Communion of Saints and Angels- with whom we share our Eucharistic celebration -with Anglicans who might not really understand how that might offend some Catholic martyrs. I'm assuming she means people like Bishop Fisher and St. Thomas More. I would love to sit down and talk with her, because these institutional impediments aren't part of the Communion of Saints and Angels or Ancestors and Holy Ones or whatever. They all share the same hope and prayer--that we get over our need to be special at the expense of others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Words Of Wisdom From Catholic League President Bill Donohue

America's secular saboteurs
By Bill Donohue President, Catholic League, Washington Post-10/19/2009

There are many ways cultural nihilists are busy trying to sabotage America these days: multiculturalism is used as a club to beat down Western civilization in the classroom; sexual libertines seek to upend the cultural order by attacking religion; artists use their artistic freedoms to mock Christianity; Hollywood relentlessly insults people of faith; activist left-wing legal groups try to scrub society free of the public expression of religion; elements in the Democratic party demonstrate an animus against Catholicism; and secular-minded malcontents within Catholicism and Protestantism seek to sabotage their religion from the inside.

Yesterday's radicals wanted to tear down the economic structure of capitalism and replace it with socialism, and eventually communism. Today's radicals are intellectually spent: they want to annihilate American culture, having absolutely nothing to put in its place. In that regard, these moral anarchists are an even bigger menace than the Marxists who came before them.
If societal destruction is the goal, then it makes no sense to waste time by attacking the political or economic structure: the key to any society is its culture, and the heart of any culture is religion. In this society, that means Christianity, the big prize being Catholicism. Which explains why secular saboteurs are waging war against it.

When Jesse Jackson led students at Stanford University in the late 1980s screaming, "Hey, Hey, Ho, Ho, Western Culture's Got to Go," it was a way of undermining this nation's Judeo-Christian heritage. When Yale University returned $20 million to Lee Bass in the 1990s because the faculty objected to its being used to expand its Western civilization curriculum--they wanted multiculturalism--it showed the power of radical secularists.
Sexual libertines, from the Marquis de Sade to radical gay activists, have sought to pervert society by acting out on their own perversions. What motivates them most of all is a pathological hatred of Christianity. They know, deep down, that what they are doing is wrong, and they shudder at the dreaded words, "Thou Shalt Not." But they continue with their death-style anyway.

Secular saboteurs have often seized the arts to make a statement. That's why the blasphemous often tracks the obscene: if the goal is to put an artistic dagger into the heart of culture, then it makes sense to use all the ammo available by attacking the sacred. And they are certainly masters of that art. From scatological artistic exhibitions to the latest obscene installation, the charlatans have succeeded in politicizing the arts and denigrating Christianity.

There was a time when Hollywood made reverential movies about Christianity. But those days are long gone. Now they just insult. And when someone finally makes a film that makes Christians proud, he is run out of town. Were it not for Mel Gibson, there would have been no "Passion of the Christ." But for every Harvey Weinstein who likes to bash Catholics, there is always someone else waiting in the wings to do the same. (Bill, Mel Gibson was exposed as a drunken anti semitic adulterous holier than though fraud. That's why he was run out of town.)

The ACLU and Americans United for Separation of Church and State harbor an agenda to smash the last vestiges of Christianity in America. Lying about their real motives, they say their fidelity is to the Constitution. But there is nothing in the Constitution that sanctions the censorship of religious speech. From banning nativity scenes to punishing little kids for painting a picture of Jesus, the zealots give Fidel a good run for his money. (Bill, you should probably stay away from images of child abuse. No one does that better than institutional Catholicism.)

Catholics were once the mainstay of the Democratic Party; now the gay activists are in charge. Indeed, practicing Catholics are no longer welcome in leadership roles in the Party: the contempt that pro-life Catholics experience is palpable. The fact that Catholics for Choice, a notoriously anti-Catholic front group funded by the Ford Foundation, has a close relationship with the Democrats says it all. (Bill, and what PAC pays your salary?)

Secularists within Catholicism and Protestantism are so out of control that it makes one wonder how any serious-minded person would ever accuse these religions of being oppressive. Insubordination of the most flagrant kind is routinely tolerated in a way that would never be countenanced at the New York Times, yet the bad rap always goes to Christians. We're not talking about those pushing for moderate reforms: we're talking about termites eating away from within. (Maybe the accusations of oppression come when your side writes crap like this.)

The only way secular saboteurs can be stopped is by an alliance of religious conservatives across faith lines. The good news is that this is already happening. In the fight over gay marriage, the scorecard is 30-0: traditional Catholics, evangelical Protestants, Orthodox Jews, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Mormons, along with a big contribution from the Latino and African American communities, have succeeded in throwing a roadblock at this crazy idea. (Bill, this sounds like gays have replaced Jews in your version of a Nuremberg rally speech.)

The culture war is up for grabs. The good news is that religious conservatives continue to breed like rabbits, while secular saboteurs have shut down: they're too busy walking their dogs, going to bathhouses and aborting their kids. Time, it seems, is on the side of the angels. (According to you it's on the side of breeding rabbits.)


Bill is entitled to his 'opinions', but I can't help wonder if official Catholic circles aren't wishing he would keep his opinions to himself. I'm sure our bishops are just thrilled that at a time they are trying to push the idea of unitive love in procreative marriage, Bill compares good conservative Catholics with 'breeding rabbits'. I'm glad Bill did, because he probably does give voice to the truth behind the upcoming pastoral on marriage. Good Catholics breed like rabbits--just like in the good old days.

Some of the article commenters wondered what the Washington Post was thinking in letting Bill rant this way on a forum that's supposed to be about civil religious dialogue. Maybe they let him rant so their readership could determine just exactly what the radical right considers civil dialogue. Perhaps in his next screed Donohue can tell us why right wing fascism is better for America than secular nihilism. He won't though, because we're not supposed to understand that's what his politics is really aiming at. He is not really about Catholicism, just in case anyone wonders. Catholicism is just a religious means to an elitist political end. Bill considers himself one of the right wing political elite.

Personally I loved the paragraph on bankrupt secular forces targeting the culture rather than the economic system. History plainly shows that the most effective and divisive attack on cultures is in the unfair distribution of cultural and economic resources.
In my own personal opinion, the fact Bill is trying to divert attention from the economy is quite telling as to who pays his salary. Especially because on the day this gets printed, Goldman Sachs announces their 16 billion dollar executive compensation package. Theoretically that's a 540,000 dollar bonus for every employee, but we know that's not how this bonus package is going to play out. In the meantime GS is still not lending out any money to individuals or mid sized corporations. They are investing in the stock market, other derivatives, and buying up other financial institutions. All their money is staying in the same tight little circle of elites. In the meantime unemployment amonst the non elite keeps going up.

In Bill's Catholic world this is all God's plan. True Catholics are not to worry their little heads about this. They are to breed like rabbits and concentrate on saving their souls. If they lose their jobs, house, and family in the process they are to remember that God never gives them more trials than they can handle. Just look at what Jesus endured in the Passion of Christ. As in Gibson's movie about Jesus, in Bill's world there is no level of abuse which a good Catholic can't take. Even if it comes from him, because it's all good for us in the end.

Welcome to Republican Catholicism all you Traditional Anglicans. Hope y'all are ready to breed like rabbits and suffer mightily for the greater glory of a strange definition of God.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Are Traditional Anglicans Suddenly The New Catholic Left?

I don't imagine Archbishop Rowan Williams is pleased with the latest Vatican overture to the Anglican Church. Maybe he should extend a similar offer to disenfranchised progressive Catholics to come over in bulk, with their Churches and all. Imagine the mess that could cause.

First there are talks with SSPX and now dissenting Anglicans. The door to St. Peter's is wide open to the right, and closing very fast on the left.

Vatican News Services 20/10/2009

With the preparation of an Apostolic Constitution, the Catholic Church is responding to the many requests that have been submitted to the Holy See from groups of Anglican clergy and faithful in different parts of the world who wish to enter into full visible communion.

In this Apostolic Constitution the Holy Father has introduced a canonical structure that provides for such corporate reunion by establishing Personal Ordinariates, which will allow former Anglicans to enter full communion with the Catholic Church while preserving elements of the distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony. Under the terms of the Apostolic Constitution, pastoral oversight and guidance will be provided for groups of former Anglicans through a Personal Ordinariate, whose Ordinary will usually be appointed from among former Anglican clergy. (Can't wait for the property disputes. Will these new Catholics keep the status of their property free from the encroachment of their local Catholic Ordinary?)

The forthcoming Apostolic Constitution provides a reasonable and even necessary response to a world-wide phenomenon, by offering a single canonical model for the universal Church which is adaptable to various local situations and equitable to former Anglicans in its universal application. It provides for the ordination as Catholic priests of married former Anglican clergy. Historical and ecumenical reasons preclude the ordination of married men as bishops in both the Catholic and Orthodox Churches. The Constitution therefore stipulates that the Ordinary can be either a priest or an unmarried bishop. The seminarians in the Ordinariate are to be prepared alongside other Catholic seminarians, though the Ordinariate may establish a house of formation to address the particular needs of formation in the Anglican patrimony. In this way, the Apostolic Constitution seeks to balance on the one hand the concern to preserve the worthy Anglican liturgical and spiritual patrimony and, on the other hand, the concern that these groups and their clergy will be integrated into the Catholic Church. (Welcome back Fr. Cutie.)

Cardinal William Levada, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which has prepared this provision, said: "We have been trying to meet the requests for full communion that have come to us from Anglicans in different parts of the world in recent years in a uniform and equitable way. With this proposal the Church wants to respond to the legitimate aspirations of these Anglican groups for full and visible unity with the Bishop of Rome, successor of St. Peter."

These Personal Ordinariates will be formed, as needed, in consultation with local Conferences of Bishops, and their structure will be similar in some ways to that of the Military Ordinariates which have been established in most countries to provide pastoral care for the members of the armed forces and their dependents throughout the world. "Those Anglicans who have approached the Holy See have made clear their desire for full, visible unity in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church. At the same time, they have told us of the importance of their Anglican traditions of spirituality and worship for their faith journey," Cardinal Levada said.

The provision of this new structure is consistent with the commitment to ecumenical dialogue, which continues to be a priority for the Catholic Church, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. "The initiative has come from a number of different groups of Anglicans," Cardinal Levada went on to say: "They have declared that they share the common Catholic faith as it is expressed in the Catechism of the Catholic Church and accept the Petrine ministry as something Christ willed for the Church. For them, the time has come to express this implicit unity in the visible form of full communion." (Thy accept the primacy of Peter when it comes to institutional misogyny and gay bashing. What about birth control, stem cells, IVF, and divorce? Will they accept that too, or just ignore them,)

According to Levada: "It is the hope of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, that the Anglican clergy and faithful who desire union with the Catholic Church will find in this canonical structure the opportunity to preserve those Anglican traditions precious to them and consistent with the Catholic faith. Insofar as these traditions express in a distinctive way the faith that is held in common, they are a gift to be shared in the wider Church. The unity of the Church does not require a uniformity that ignores cultural diversity, as the history of Christianity shows. Moreover, the many diverse traditions present in the Catholic Church today are all rooted in the principle articulated by St. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians: ‘There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism’ (4:5). Our communion is therefore strengthened by such legitimate diversity, and so we are happy that these men and women bring with them their particular contributions to our common life of faith." (I wonder if this will apply to progressives?)

Background information

Since the sixteenth century, when King Henry VIII declared the Church in England independent of Papal Authority, the Church of England has created its own doctrinal confessions, liturgical books, and pastoral practices, often incorporating ideas from the Reformation on the European continent. The expansion of the British Empire, together with Anglican missionary work, eventually gave rise to a world-wide Anglican Communion.
Throughout the more than 450 years of its history the question of the reunification of Anglicans and Catholics has never been far from mind. In the mid-nineteenth century the Oxford Movement (in England) saw a rekindling of interest in the Catholic aspects of Anglicanism. In the early twentieth century Cardinal Mercier of Belgium entered into well publicized conversations with Anglicans to explore the possibility of union with the Catholic Church under the banner of an Anglicanism "reunited but not absorbed".

At the Second Vatican Council hope for union was further nourished when the Decree on Ecumenism (n. 13), referring to communions separated from the Catholic Church at the time of the Reformation, stated that: "Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place."

Since the Council, Anglican-Roman Catholic relations have created a much improved climate of mutual understanding and cooperation. The Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) produced a series of doctrinal statements over the years in the hope of creating the basis for full and visible unity. For many in both communions, the ARCIC statements provided a vehicle in which a common expression of faith could be recognized. It is in this framework that this new provision should be seen.

In the years since the Council, some Anglicans have abandoned the tradition of conferring Holy Orders only on men by calling women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. More recently, some segments of the Anglican Communion have departed from the common biblical teaching on human sexuality—already clearly stated in the ARCIC document "Life in Christ"—by the ordination of openly homosexual clergy and the blessing of homosexual partnerships. At the same time, as the Anglican Communion faces these new and difficult challenges, the Catholic Church remains fully committed to continuing ecumenical engagement with the Anglican Communion, particularly through the efforts of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity. (Apparently it's more Christ like to be a sneaky self hating closeted homosexual clergyman, than an open and honest one.)

In the meantime, many individual Anglicans have entered into full communion with the Catholic Church. Sometimes there have been groups of Anglicans who have entered while preserving some "corporate" structure. Examples of this include, the Anglican diocese of Amritsar in India, and some individual parishes in the United States which maintained an Anglican identity when entering the Catholic Church under a "pastoral provision" adopted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and approved by Pope John Paul II in 1982. In these cases, the Catholic Church has frequently dispensed from the requirement of celibacy to allow those married Anglican clergy who desire to continue ministerial service as Catholic priests to be ordained in the Catholic Church.

In the light of these developments, the Personal Ordinariates established by the Apostolic Constitution can be seen as another step toward the realization the aspiration for full, visible union in the Church of Christ, one of the principal goals of the ecumenical movement.


It's pretty apparent that Benedict's vision for a leaner and meaner Church includes an open invitation to anti semites, misogynists, and homophobes. It seems a real conversion has nothing to do with Jesus. It only takes confirming the status of the papacy. For that conversion you get to keep your married priests, your own seminaries, your own rituals, and your own notions of exclusion. I wonder if they get to keep their own sexual morality. Gays are one thing but the papal ban on birth control actually effects Anglican couples. Maybe this will become the Vatican approved version of Catholic Lite.

I bet the rest of the Anglican and Episcopal Church won't see this as 'ecumenism'. They might be inclined to see it as poaching, giving into dissenters, stirring the waters of schism, hypocrisy of the highest order. Anglicanism didn't come into existence because it was a grass roots movement. It came into existence because an angry king who couldn't get a divorce, forced it on his people. Speaking of divorce, I wonder how these new Catholics will feel about paying for both a civil divorce and a sacramental annulment. Putting up with gay blessings and women priests might prove to be a lot cheaper.

I wonder if Fr. Cutie will be welcomed back with open arms. Given the current level of hypocrisy in the Vatican, I bet Cutie returns to EWTN as their expert on all things Anglican. See there is a silver lining in every cloud--unless you are a current Roman Catholic priest and this would feel like another kick in the teeth. Maybe Cutie won't come back, but I personally wouldn't put any money on that bet.

I'll be curious to see just how emphatic the Vatican is with SSPX on accepting the teachings of Vatican II with regards to Judaism and ecumenical dialogue. I guess it will depend on how badly they want to take over their priests and seminaries. If that's the case then I'm sure the emphasis will be on the 'pastoral' nature of Vatican II and the fact it wasn't a dogmatic council. Now that I think about it, I wonder how SSPX will take this Anglican initiative. That married priesthood thing might cause them some problems. Even the heretical Vatican II didn't mess this issue up. Compared to SSPX, traditional Anglicans could be considered the new Catholic progressive movement.

In the meantime the real Catholic progressive movement waits for the Emerging Church. The one that really is inclusive, has no addiction to clericalism, and has matured beyond the need to base it's identity in misogyny and homophobia. It can't come soon enough and maybe this latest pronouncement from the Vatican will hasten it's emergence.