Friday, July 30, 2010

What's A Frustrated Catholic To Do?

Today I want to feature a couple of posts from two prominent writers who have extensive experience with the more corrupt aspects of clericalism.  The first is an excerpt from Eugene Kennedy's current article at the National Catholic Reporter.  The second is from Fr. Tom Doyle explaining how clericalism itself engendered the duplicitous responses of bishops to clerical abuse allegations.  Fr. Tom's is actually a response to an analysis by William Carfardi as posted in Commonweal.  Cafardi's article dealt with the influence of 'secrecy' as an official Church strategy.  Fr. Tom has a different take.  First Eugene Kennedy:

Chicago was once the imperial seal embossed on America's clerical culture. That's when Cardinal Mundelein rode to his brick replica of Mount Vernon on the seminary grounds in a limousine with crimson strutted wheels and would ask absently, on his way to a priest's funeral, "What was Father's name again?" Chicago still has a cardinal archbishop named Francis George who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He is pleasant the way the man who sells you a suit is and just as hard to recall afterward. His phantom-like presence, except when he gets irritated with gays who want to receive the Eucharist together, is a symptom of the withering away of the clerical culture.

Clerical Culture, once the greatest show on earth, has not posted its closing notices but, like the three ring circus it so closely resembled in its days of glory, it has seen its tattered wonders outstripped by those of modernity, and the people are neither enticed by its barkers nor willing to believe in its clever illusions anymore. Its dissolution is a sign, starker than a symbol cut into a wheat field, of the collapse of the hierarchical pre-Vatican II establishment that so many righteous clerics are struggling to restore. (Kennedy makes a very important point.  The scientifically unprovable claims of the Church, along with it's unique and self serving interpretation of it's own history,  have been totally outstripped by modern science, psychology, anthropology, historical scriptural scholars, and archeology.)

Fr. Tom's essay explains in more detail than Eugene Kennedy's, why this culture itself created secrecy and why those who belong to the culture can't let it die in spite of the over whelming evidence as to it's practical,  moral, and criminal dysfunction.

The Church is a visible institution. The Church teaches as official dogma that the Church as we know it, that is, a hierarchical structure that is totally run by celibate male clerics (mostly bishops), was instituted by Jesus Himself. The Church teaches that the pope is the representative (Vicar) of Christ on earth. It teaches that Christ founded His church and left it in the control of the twelve apostles and explicitly willed that these apostles pass this power down to their successors. Consequently the official teaching is that the visible church is run by men who have been explicitly chosen by the Supreme Being. Furthermore the Church teaches that priests are fundamentally different than other humans. They are, in the words of John Paul II, uniquely configured to Christ. Catholics are taught to believe that priests are special. They represent Jesus Christ. They have very special spiritual powers. Their intercession is essential for anyone who wishes to make it to heaven in the next life.

This teaching is the foundation for the clerical culture that runs the Church. Clericalism is the belief that clerics (deacons, priests and bishops) are superior to lay persons and are rightfully entitled to deference, unquestioned respect and exemption from many of the obligations born by most lay people. This clerical world is the home of the men who make up the Church power structure. The Church teaches that this structure is the church. To be a Catholic, one must believe totally in the teachings about the nature of the church strictures and the sacredness of the Church’s clerical ministers.

If all of these teachings were true, would there be a need for all of the secrecy? If these teachings were true, especially about the “Christ-like” nature of priests and bishops, would there be such widespread corruption, dishonesty and abuse found among clerics at every level?  

If all of these things were true! The problem is that there is no authentic historical evidence that any of it is true. The various titles, roles and offices attributed to popes, bishops and priests are not products of divine revelation but of human invention, often as a response and reaction to serious external threats to the power and wealth of the clerical aristocracy. For example, and it’s a good example, Papal Infallibility was literally invented by Pope Pius IX and forced through the First Vatican Council...for political reasons. The pope’s kingdom, the Papal States, was threatened with dissolution by the Italian social upheaval at the time. Likewise the title “Vicar of Christ” was part of a conscious program of a medieval pope to fortify papal power. This title has had a long and complex and by no means consistent history. It was not applied to the Papacy until the 13th century when Pope Innocent III took it to enhance his overall program of actively concentrating just about all power in the Church in the papacy.

Consequently this massive institution seeks above all to preserve itself. Sexual abuse of children or anyone by members of the sacred elite is potentially disastrous for the image, credibility and hence the power of the Church. The bishops really believe that they are essential to the existence of the Church. Therefore protecting the hierarchy is essential and believed to be God’s will. The popes and the bishops did not have to conspire to keep sexual abuse by clergy buried as deeply as possible. The secretive response is in the blood of the bishops. It is rooted in the fundamental urge to survive. Disruption and disintegration of the monarchical structures of the Church means the end of the system of power and control as we know it. This poses an unthinkable threat to the clergy and to the clerical world. The threat is personal because this world, this monarchical institution, this magical theological support system is the past, present and future of the bishops. It is their source of identity. To change or destroy it is a threat to the very being of the clerics who feed off of it. (And the same can be said for the laity who truly believe the theology and incorporate all of this as part their ego identity. They are just as clericalized as the clergy themselves and just as survival dependent if in a different way.)


Given that the clerical leadership appears incapable of change, where does a Catholic who has moved beyond the three ring circus find a genuine faith expression?  The responses range from leaving and blowing the whole thing off, seeking to supplement their spiritual life by double or triple dipping in other spirituality's--my solution of choice--, staying and praying and wishing and hoping, joining more compatible congregations such as the Episcopalian or Orthodox churches, forming their own emerging communities, or doing as Eugene Kennedy suggests, joining and working with reform groups like VOTF.

For this post and subsequent ones, I'm going to focus on my own choice to double dip.  There are other readers who comment on this blog who can speak far better to the other options I've listed.  Eugene Kennedy favors what I feel is more or less just a continuation of a political two party system.  Trouble is the current leadership of the current Church structure is not predisposed to work as a two party system.  It has done everything it can to insure it's survival as a one party system.

My own quest started quite a long time ago with what to me was a very personal but important question.  Just what is spiritual power and is it tangible, repeatable and useful?  According to the New Testament, for Jesus and His disciples spiritual power was very tangible, repeatable and highly useful.  Spiritual power demonstrated a direct connection to a greater reality and Jesus taught that reality was both with in us and of His father.  Pentecost was all about a purposeful enhancing of this effective form of spiritual power in Jesus's followers.  And those followers weren't limited to the original Twelve Vatican All Stars.  So what happened, because none of this effective spiritual power is demonstrated by today's Vatican All Stars.  If you look at the history of the Church with an open mind about this question, you can't help but come to the conclusion it was sold out in favor of secular power at the Council of Nicea.  From this point on there are very few in leadership positions who are connected to the Pentecostal form of spiritual power.  Expectations about Christian spiritual power in leadership begins to be radically redefined as 'mystical sacramental power' and not practical spiritual power. 

This same phenomenon has happened in Native American society after it was over whelmed by White culture.  Their healers and Holy people, those folks who had connections with the greater reality, became harder and harder to find.  These all important connections, and how to make them, were getting lost.  Which is why the rez is now plagued with opportunistic half trained people who are essentially medicine wheeler dealers. They have all the clothes, all the language, a consistent ceremonial ritual, but they dont' have half the effectiveness of the preceding generations.  The more honest ones are really really trying to recover that powerfully effective aspect of their religious culture that has been lost.  But one of the problems most difficult to overcome is the farther you follow the 'red road' the more obvious it becomes that you have to live the life described in the ancestral teachings.  And that life is virtually indistinguishable from the Way taught by Jesus.  The more disconnect there is between how you actually live your life, and how the teachings say you should live your life, the more the effectiveness of the spiritual power of a ceremony gets compromised or the connections are taken over by something else. 

Pretty soon one finds it's mostly all ritual and any effective power is determined by the belief of the recipient not the 'holiness' or faulty connections of the ceremonial leader.  Which is why when a ceremony doesn't do what it's intended,  it's blamed on the faithlessness of the recipient, having nothing to do with the ceremonial leader.  I bet this sounds really familiar to Irish Catholics because Benedict's solution to the Irish abuse scandal places a great deal of the fault on the faithlessness of the Irish people. The clerical culture Benedict leads can not admit to any other reason than blaming it on the laity, because to admit otherwise is to admit the Emperor and his court have no clothes.

To be continued........................


  1. "Clerical Culture, once the greatest show on earthhas not posted its closing notices..."

    The gig is up for the Clerical Culture. The gig for the laity is just warming up, at least that is how I see it. Judging from many of the comments at NCR, many are asking the question in your blog's headline today - "What's A Frustrated Catholic To Do?"

    Eugene Kennedy's article makes light of the frustration today's Catholics are experiencing. He is right when he says, and I'll paraphrase, that it makes no sense to argue with them as it is a waste of energy. I so much agree and it is like banging one's head against a wall to argue with the dead, or to start a third party, or meet with other frustrated Catholics to share the Eucharist in our homes.

    Yesterday I really considered leaving the RCC to go to the original Catholic Church, the Orthodox Catholics, the first one's the RCC decided to excommunicate. I see the Orthodox Church as maybe a place to join forces with in opposition to the emerging fascist movements in the RCC.

    If the Sisters who are being "investigated" were given the ultimatum to obey or be excommunicated, might the Orthodox Church be open to receive them or fund them if they chose?

    I really don't want to see these women thrown out into the street. My concern is more for them than for myself. My frustrations are miniscule by comparison to theirs. VOTF, from looking at their mission does not yet as far as I know have one for the Sisters. They do for the sexually abused and for Priests. Expanding this voice of the faithful might be very fruitful.

    I'm just living day to day in my faith in Jesus Christ. Deepening my faith, being prayerful and mindful of God's blessings supports me. I need to stay in the desert for now. Frustration will do that.

    Can't believe this - word verif is outbarfa

  2. This is wonderful! And it seems to me that there is an underlying ontology that is evident in Orthodoxy but seems either unaddressed or only partially address in the RCC. And I have learned that from the first blog of the former Cistercian nun, written while she was still a nun. But I suspect she was already (in 2008) chipping away at these issues we have now run smack into:

    Her initial blog is the beginning of a reading and analysis of an Orthodox book, Being and Communion which looks at "the ontological nature of ecclesiology, the dialectic between history and eschatology, and the role of the Eucharist in both these themes."

    It seems to me this woman is onto something! That the "something" led her to Orthodoxy is significant to me. For it was in analyzing the structure of the church, in the light of the sexual abuse scandal and clericalism etc that I ran right into a wall - and ended up in Orthodoxy... as if a door opened in the wall that said: Come In! I've ordered the book for myself. And I intend to read through her blogs on it as well.

    Yes, I agree with Colleen, that maybe each of us needs to clarify our own personal solution here. Mine is Orthodoxy - but because I had come to see, from reading and pondering and attending the Orthodox Liturgy - and feeling nailed to a cross at the RCC where the spirituality that spoke to me was for monastics - in monasteries - when the fare for the laity seemed to be "Return of the Repressed" or something.

    I was never after "spiritual power" - though I am by no means denigrating what Colleen is after. I was instead after coherence, I guess (now that we've discussed that). A sense of everything fitting together, the "fullness" - as the Orthodox say. Depth. Coherence (and that word carries so much!). Grounding. And an absence of confusion, absence of duplicity, absence of back-writing of history or tortured logic to make it all appear ok, when clearly it wasn't.

    I feel pretty certain the Holy Spirit is leading us. Each of us. Even those who currently feel bewildered. And it's not necessary we all find similar solutions. We're not in charge. All we can do is try and discern our own particular call at this moment. And try to share and support each other nonetheless. (And I suspect many will agree with some of those last sentences.)

  3. More thoughts: As I've begun to ponder ecclesiology and Liturgy - and us as persons seeking to allow Christ's light to shine through us and among us - I've come to a conclusion. I'm beginning to think that the RCC, even prior to Vatican II was so riddled with problems, that something essential was missing, maybe more than just "something".
    So now I'm wondering whether Vatican II could ever really have succeeded, for it was built on sand... ready to wash away. Not on rock! The theocons want to "return" to a fiction. And the progressives want Vatican II - but if I'm correct, that won't work either, as there is no Rock to ground the Liturgy, Spirituality, the People of God as Church, etc. Something's missing! In the
    RCC itself. Or something's been substituted - like some kind of misfitting "transplanted organ" which will inevitably be "rejected" or "ejected" by the Body (of Christ).

    In sum, I think I was right when I said earlier that I felt, once I carefully analyzed things, that I'd run right into a wall. Smack into a wall. NO exit. Till the dawning thought slowly came - over many months - probably a thought I could not have considered putting into action till nearly 6 years ago. Though as I look back I can see I had problems with the liturgy going way, way back.... problems with ecclesiology (though I did not know to name it as such). And guess what? Like a good catholic, I blamed that: ON MYSELF! For decades!

    No longer!

    Even though I've joined the Orthodox, I am still processing that. Still processing the PTSD aspects, I think, of what I can't completely leave behind. For the RCC has good people in it! And I too am still in the grip and the grasp of what I've been through. As I say: Return of the Repressed.

    And maybe that is what so drives each of us. That no solution really can rid one of something sinister we can't quite rub off. We are driven to the desert, as butterfly says. Driven to prayer. Seeking refuge, sanctuary. I have found it. But there is so much to process, to understand, to seek.

    And I'm doing it having lost a parent who in many ways was as crazy and dictatorial as the church - and that has left scars as well, which even now are damaging the spouse and children she left behind - making it hard to "come together" in harmony. And like the inability to "argue" (a waste of time) in the church, I am dealing with it on a family level, that goes way back, an exposure of things that were never discussed. And to discuss them now is to invite being branded as an outcast, a black sheep. And it leads one to doubt oneself, as I mentioned above in relation to the church.

    Truth-telling can be powerfully disenfranchising. I never knew to what degree! You have two choices. Dissemble and gain acceptance. Tell the truth and be viewed as "crazy" or a heretic!

    Lest some be concerned by this point, it's actually very beneficial to see these links I've mentioned. Freeing. But wow, what a process!

    Makes me wonder if finding a refuge allows one better to look backward and analyze - from a point of safety.

    Along with my Orthodox refuge, the safety of this group has allowed me to express what I've trusted you with. I offer my thanks.

  4. Yes, I do agree with your last paragraph TheraP. I also agree with your analysis of Catholicism sequestering it's spirituality in the monastic or convent system. It was treated like a cancer that had to be walled off or at best doled out at their command. I suspect there were very practical reasons for that.

    It's still operative which is why Medjugorge is under a Vatican investigation. I'm positive the LCWR CDF investigation is also tied into this. But, I'll get into more of this as this series progresses.

    In any event, the original Christian communities fully realized everyone had their gifts and their part to play--even the questioners and dissenters. It's like the old saying, 'we may not like our ass holes, but we would die without them."

  5. I am at a crossroads. Born and raised RCC, but w/o a great deal of indoctrination as I only spent one year attending Catholic school. And both my parents were/are thinking rational people so I had some freedom to explore rather than have to learn to toe a line.

    Can't go to Mass. If I hear one more sermon on the 'place of woman' even tangentially, I'm afraid I'll go postal. They talk about freedom, but all I hear is repression. But also can't quite bring myself to not think of myself as Catholic.

    And I'm very introverted. It is very difficult for me to be around people other than a few close friends and relatives.

    My options: Find another church? Maybe. But there is a voice inside warning me that I may all to easily be trading one set of problems [however bad still I know the pitfalls] for another set of which I'm unaware.
    Stay with the RCC? Maybe, but not getting what I know I need even if I can't define it.
    Strike out on my own? And this one holds much appeal for the introvert in me. But am I qualified to be quite that self-directed? Not sure what strengths I can rely on.

    word verification: lumen


  6. Veronica that is a very interesting word verification. So was butterfly's.

    You are not alone. Anne Rice has made her decision:

    "Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being 'Christian' or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else."

    "In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control," the author wrote Wednesday on her Facebook page. "In the name of ... Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen."

    Huffpo also has another article on Rice's decision which I think is Brilliant:

    It's a tough time to be a thinking Catholic. I keep getting reminded that just because your thinking is out of 'coherence' with the Church, doesn't mean your faith and love are out of coherence with Jesus. It seems Anne Rice got the same message, but the incoherence can be just draining.

  7. I posted elements of this elsewhere, but it bears repeating.

    We now see the phenomenon of priests now 'playing conservative' as a means of career survival. Not because they have literally embraced 'Traditionalism' (though some have...),much less as they have had a true conversion experience.

    In plain English: orders have been given. Either overt and/or between the lines. "You are now going to play a new role".

    So we see priests who would never wear clerical garb (unless the Bishop were coming) suddenly wearing brand new cassocks! Still with the creases from being folded in the box, fresh from the supplier. Brandishing outlandishly outsized Rosaries. Performing Benediction. Using (hurriedly memorized) Latin phrases.

    No - most of these men neither believe in Transubstantiation any more then they believe in the efficacy of the Rosary. It is just 'following policy'. They are (truly lousy) Method Actors who have been ordered by the studio to play new characters.

    There is no such animal now as a young liberal priest. Only the 'radiant new priests'. The few remaining older truly liberal priests have largely learned to shut their mouths - if they wish to eat. Being fired past the age of 60 with no pension is not an option. So they will largely pretend to go along.

    I find Anne Rice's words to be very genuine; expressing the heartfelt quandry of many.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  8. I'm tempted to go down the street to the Anglican Church. I discussed this with Mrs. p2p's uncle, a former priest and a very wise man.

    "They've got their problems too" he said.

    Maybe I'd like to try a different set of problems...

    I don't know, but I'm looking forward to the rest of your series Colleen.


  9. If even someone like Michael Liccione, ( a very conservative Catholic), sees problems, then there might be some hope;

    On the Orthodox Church- I've been a member of the Orthodox Church for over 20 years.

    Belive me, the same problems exists there also but in less obvious ways.

    Clericalism exists but it's more focused on bishops than priests. After all, it's fairly hard to see much difference between the priest, who is married, often with children, often with a wife who may not be subservient but her own person, and the laity.

    That's the good aspect of Orthodoxy. A good priest is one in touch with the daily lives of people, something he knows from his own life.

    On the other hand, the jurisdictional chaos, in the U.S. and elsewhere has led to a lot of confusion.

    Add to this the plethora of 'Net Orthgodox blogs, often by conberts, that give rather one-sided views of Orthodoxy.

    All in all, the same problems abound but in different ways.

  10. Anon, that's a well thought out piece you linked. It's well thought out in a number of areas. The nice thing is Michael is not the least bit self righteous, at least in this post, which is such a nice change.

    I think these problems of clericalism are going to exist in virtually any example of Western spirituality or religious congregations. It seems it's endemic to hierarchical thinking. Western thought and philosophy is saturated with hierarchical thinking. The real trouble is hierarchical thinking also comes with a lot of judgements that don't necessarily have their basis in reality. Undeserved status is automatically accrued in way too many cases. I thought Michael Liccione did a good job of pointing this out.

    The other point I found interesting is the idea that the Belgium raid indicates the upper levels of the Church are no longer considered part of the untouchable elite. That must truly be a scarey thought in the Vatican.

  11. Of course I'm a new convert to Orthodoxy, but I already have a sense of how a diocese gets a new bishop - because right before Christmas, when I wasn't even Orthodox yet, our bishop died very suddenly. I learned that the procedure for selecting a new bishop was a lengthy one, with names proposed by the priests of the diocese, then the contacting of those persons (who have to be unmarried - so that narrows it down to widower parish priests or monastics or priests who are unmarried but not monks). And a final selection of three, with one preferred candidate - and then all the US Orthodox Metropolitians (there are maybe 9 or 7 - one from each of the ethnic Orthodox groups) meet together and jointing select the new Metropolitan (from that group, likely the preferred candidate). But you can see that this is far, far different from the RCC.

    The Orthodox process is an open one. I got an email outlining the whole thing - as our parish is linked by email that way. And another email when the final five and (later three) had been selected, explaining how things had gone so far and giving a bit of info about each one of the five (at that point). And any one of us might have spoken to our pastor or one of the other two priests if we had wanted to propose someone or offer an opinion. Thus it's a process where there is input all along the way. And not a top-down process where one man (or a tiny group in a foreign country) decides on something and imposes it.

    Even the current Metropolitan of the OCA is approachable (though I have some differences of opinion with some of his views). And I know a gay young man who was on retreat when the Metropolitan was on retreat and the young man deliberately took a long walk with him, explaining the importance of gay rights and urging him to be more open about that. (Is that possible with the pope? Or RCC bishops? Who are insulated from the laity?)

    So I recognize that no church is perfect. But I can honestly say that I think a married priesthood makes for a very different kind of man. And the method of selecting bishops would make for a very different kind of bishop - with allegiance to priests and people of the diocese - not to some far-away hierarch IMPOSING rules and a bishop from on high.

    There is no doubt that in the US, with the plethora of different Orthodox communities who have immigrated - there is a need to restructure things - and ultimately that appears to be the direction things are going in. Still, for my part, I find the priests in our parish very approachable (the pastor, the older professor who recently was ordained, even the introverted monk who is also a professor and comes once or twice a month).

    So if you're interested in joining the Orthodox, check out which churches are available in your area and talk to the pastor. Get a feel for the community. I do NOT see things being imposed from above, but rather they are decided in parish councils. I see a lot of pastoral care going on. The pastor knows his flock and has a commitment not only to the parish but to the community (since his wife probably works in come capacity and his children go to school there or were schooled there). In my mind, it just makes for a very different feel and a sense that if you have ideas or suggestions they will be heard, they matter.

    I doubt any of us are looking for perfection, but from where I now stand it feels very, very different. Liturgically, spiritually, psychologically, and sociologically.

    (I realize the Orthodox do not ordain women - but that is something I've come to terms with - given the pluses of Liturgy, smaller parishes, and I honestly have to say I feel it's been a deep conversion experience, which is ongoing really.)

  12. "I bet this sounds really familiar to Irish Catholics because Benedict's solution to the Irish abuse scandal places a great deal of the fault on the faithlessness of the Irish people. The clerical culture Benedict leads can not admit to any other reason than blaming it on the laity, because to admit otherwise is to admit the Emperor and his court have no clothes."

    There is no point is setting up falsehoods and then shooting them down. The Pope quite clearly identified the problem as faithlessness. It always has, always does, and always will start with the Bishops. A faithful Bishop will lead the flock closer to Jesus Christ. An unfaithful one will undermine the faithful and leave them prey to the wolves. The Pope pointed out that the Irish Bishops must get back to the Faith. Now you don't get back to something you have not left. So the obvious point the Pope has made is that they no longer are faithful. You do not propose to send missions into a country in particular to the priests and Bishops to teach them the faith if you think they already have it. No, you are not right when you say that the Pope has lay blame on the faithlessness of the Irish laity. In fact he quite openly pointed out that our little emperors wear the clothes but have no faith.

    As regards the lay faithful the Pope tells us to pray and do penance and fast. It is always the case that the lay FAITHFUL bring fruit by prayers and penance. That's our job. It has always been our job. Prayer and fasting is sometimes the only thing that works especially with the demonic as Our Lord teaches us. If he didn't think there were faithful here surely he would not have asked us to this work. Lukewarm or faithless Catholics rarely fast and do penance do they?

    Please try to be more accurate in your posts. It is quite sickening to see such misrepresentation being spread.
    Your Father in heaven will judge you on every word you write here. He will judge you on the effects your word have on the people who read your words and the influence they have on the people they meet. You have set yourself up in a public forum by your own free will. You therefore must be mindful of the responsibility you have to your own soul and the souls of others. Fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom so please for the sake of your soul stop offending Him by misrepresenting the truth. You will forfeit eternal life if you do not mend your ways. Go to confession.

  13. Colleen, I really think this is a good topic for this group. I must admit that there is no simple solution particularly for me. My wife and I really have two families, 2 grown daughters, that have given us 5 grandchildren with one on the way, and a preteen adopted child. The girls were raised in the RCC through high school. Our youngest goes to a non-denominational Christian School that has founding both in the Episcopal and Catholic Churches. The Current chaplain is from the Old Catholic Church tradition.

    As we began to question the RCC, we first moved to going to services at the Old Catholic Church, then the Episcopal and now the Lutheran. We decided to bring our son up with the Lutherans because it was simply the best parish in our area. There was outreach to the poor and a lot of activities for our son.

    My wife and I on the other hand occasionally attended weekday services at a RCC, or Orthodox community. We often went to different churches tying to widen our views of these groups.

    TheraP, you are correct about the PTSD aspects of being raised Catholic. I think we were looking for something that did not completely exist with all our searching. We were not looking for perfection but only a place of piece. The daily masses are much more peaceful than the Sunday affairs. Slowly we decided that our spirituality had to be generated from within. This did not occur without a lot of soul searching and painful conflict in our minds. But at least we had each other for the journey.

    When I left the field of Neuro Anesthesiology for Psychoanalysis, I think I was still looking for a community that I could believe in. In fact I did not find that in analysis either. What I did find was a more realistic way to soul search and examine what I could and could not believe and how to respond to my feelings of desertion by the RCC. It was very helpful. My wife left her medical specialty field as well and now practices a homeopathic version of both eastern and western medicine. I think she, as I, fond some community that she likes yet it was not a complete answer for her either.

    Again we have each other and we have many wonderful people that we know to be spiritual from both these medical communities and also others from our son’s school and his Little League relationships. I think it is easier for us to see the spirituality in others now.

    One of my daughters still clings to the RCC but quickly states she has a good parish lead by a married former Episcopal priest. The other has joined a very good Methodist community in her areas around a very liberal community.

    I think for all of us it is a journey and until we die, we are all becoming a little something different. Heretics all of us! I am proud to say.

    My wife and I continue with daily meditation but I have changed from the expression Jesus Lord in my mind to the A.....L.... M..... of many traditions. We continue to visit Buddhist monasteries, Protestant, Hindu and Islamic Churches and Jewish Synagogues. W no longer are seeking any particular faith, but trying to learn the goodness from people who believe in The Other more powerful than us. Call us new age? - No not really but yes in many ways.

    I could go on, but one thing is certain. It is a lonely place, but we understand that we can only be seekers in this lonely place. dennis

  14. Ma Tucker, I deleted your duplicate post. For some reason comments which reach a certain word count frequently double post.

    I may be misunderstanding you Ma, and if so feel free to clarify. The problem I have with Pope Benedict's view of the abuse crisis is to this date in time he has done nothing concrete to hold any bishop accountable for their lack of faithfullness. Granted he has accepted the resignations of those who understand their complicity and in the case of Bishop Mixa, refused to let Mixa unresign. On the other end of things, there are other bishops who have been promoted in spite of their proven record of facillitating the abuse.

    I agree with you that part of the job of the faithful lay is to pray and do penance and fast both on our own behalf and that of the Church. There also comes a time when one has to address whether or not action is also called for, especially when leadership has demonstrated in their own actions that they are incapable of accepting the fruits of lay faith because to do so would interfere with their own selfish agenda.

    I believe that faithful laity today are faced with a watershed moment in Catholicism. Part of that means confronting the difference between attitudes and behaviors which enable the 'filth' and those that exorcise the filth.

  15. Ma Tucker,
    Many years ago, I felt somewhat the way you do now. Maybe, you will see it differently over time as so many catholics who for one reason or another a pushed from inside to seek spirituality.

    Colleen, I am having trouble with my posts being rejected by the system. I have checked prior to reposting them and they are not on the system, but when I publish again, they appear. That is the reason I have removed several duplicate posts dennis

  16. Dennis, I just cleaned the residue of that up. I like to think it only happens to the really important posts, but reality says it's a scew up in the program.

    I had the same experience about weekday Masses vs weekend Masses. There was such a diffence in the way they felt. To be honest, that was another reason I got launched into exploring other spiritual systems. I found the same kind of thing in Native ceremony. Sometimes the feeling of peace was overwhelming, but other times it felt dissonant. The elders said this was due to people and ceremonial leader not sharing the same understanding and this was reflected in how the Ancestors interacted in the ceremony. This not too infrequently manifested in some wild meteorlogical events--which is why large Native ceremonies are always held out doors with temporary and somewhat primitive accomodations. I learned quite quickly to keep my sleeping bag in my vehicle until I needed it.

    This kind of thing does quickly get everybody on the same page. When these violent storms roll in they are seen as penance and purification for the community. I guess this why even today, you don't see a Native version of a cathedral. :)

  17. I agree that often daily masses are more tolerable than Sunday masses. But another reason I joined the Orthodox was a need to worship on Sunday. Now that I have Sunday and Feast Day Liturgies that provide are meaningful and fulfilling, I no longer need the daily masses. We also have Sat evening Vespers and usually Vespers on a weeknight. I love Vespers!

  18. Some reflections.

    "In any event, the original Christian communities fully realized everyone had their gifts and their part to play--even the questioners and dissenters."

    So true Colleen! EVERYONE had and has their GIFTS now. The Church DOES NOT RECOGNIZE those gifts. It represses them. It does not acknowledge those gifts. It is utterly selfish & self-centered of the RCC leadership and is tied to the FACT of THEIR FAITHLESSNESS in God and God's children.

    "All we can do is try and discern our own particular call at this moment. And try to share and support each other nonetheless."

    I so agree and thank you so much for your comments TheraP. Very helpful & inspiring as are Dennis, Colleen and Mouse.

    Roman Catholic Church or no Roman Catholic Church, I feel called to a constant need for healing, discernment, clarity, purification, learning and unlearning, a time to strengthen Faith by practicing Faith when faithlessness abounds all around from those who would have us believe they are the most faithful or only faithful. I search for Peace and that I cannot find in the RCC. I can find it by turning to Christ with my frustrations and concerns. He always heals and consoles. The Resurrected Jesus is the most Faithful servant of all.

    So, I do not turn my back on the RCC as it is ever in my soul and all its memories God sees.

    Colleen, whenever there is a thunderstorm, lately I have been thinking along the same lines of "purification" - that it is a call for purification to one and all. Who can deny the sound if one can hear? Who does not prepare for the storms and take shelter? God has put it into our nature/consciousness to seek Him and to take shelter in Him. The RCC does the opposite now; it takes shelter in itself, its dogma, it's laws, in its own stoney walls built by mere men who cling to irrational fears, which is a huge mistake.

    The RCC is no longer a shelter from the storms & trials, but has become a place of condemnation, fear, incoherence & impurity in thought and deed.

    TheraP, I was one of those "Return of the Repressed" seeking shelter, community among "faithful." Returned from the darkness & despair of faithlessness & my testimony of Faith was rejected, denied, deemed insignificant & of no value. I returned to the RCC with true Faith in God, still needing spiritual nourishment & the Church's laws prevented sustenance & access to real connection & avenues to being a part of a healthy Faithful community. I was not enlightened by the repression, but was driven away by Faith. Returned to Faith and faithlessness made a laughing stock of God's gift of Faith and its treasures & gifts that can not stay hidden or locked up in chains of repression.

  19. Ma Tucker -

    Perhaps Herr Ratz & his cohort in the Vatican & in numerous Chanceries should contemplate the fate of THEIR souls. As those who are given (or self assumed power over) the souls of others will be called to a greater accounting then others.

    "To he to whom much is given, much will be expected.."...etc.

    The Irish Bishops KNOWINGLY approved of the abuser, enabled the abusers, & did everything possible to prevent them from being brought to justice. The same has been repeated in EVERY diocese in the world. Fact!

    So for Ratz - or anybody - to attempt to impugn the laity, as if the abuse were somehow their fault, is the work of the Devil. Those in leadership positions are (literally) guiding sheep. When they INTENTIONALLY lead them astray, they have done something unspeakable.

    The Irish Bishops (like those elsewhere) led the ppl into viewing THEM as the object of 'faith', instead of God. Using 'God' as both a medium of control & a corporate logo. Intergenerationally conditioning the sheep to view them as divinely ordained absolute AUTHORITY FIGURES. Commanding absolute obedience of the Laity - and stealing money which should have gone to the poor.

    The image of the overfed, pompous, self righteous Irish bishop pontificating to the poor to give him more legendary. Read the book/watch the film 'Angela's Ashes' for the truth of Irish society! The Irish Bishops created a complete society in Ireland riddled with abuse. Everybody hitting each other, verbally abusing, gossiping, cheating, beating wives & kids.....& drowning their corporate shame in gallons of booze. For centuries.

    The Church literally has left the Irish ppl a shattered hull. Their faith has been destroyed by the shite of sick, twisted priests, bishops & nuns....who ran BDSM charnel houses cloaked as 'schools'.

    ..and you have the gall to side with Ratzinger? May God have pity upon your soul.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  20. Postscript -

    It must be stated that - even though the centuries old sex abuse scenarios are not the direct fault of the laity - it is possible to view them as an indirect result of a "lack of Faith". But not as the Great Whore in Prada loafers says....

    By this I mean that - regardless of intellect, level of education, or any mental programming by the Administrators of Religion in Rome - we are each responsible for our souls. And for the level of faith we have.

    This in NO way excuses or exonerates the filthy Vatican Administration. Nor does it in any way shift blame to the victims!

    But if we (not just the Irish...) are stupid enough to allow our minds to be shut off for us. If we ALLOW ourselves to be conditioned by screaming nuns, priests & bishops - away from Christ & the Gospel. To be taught another Gospel....of slavish obedience to humans masquerading as demi-gods. Supported by peer & familial pressures.......then, very sadly, we get what we deserve.

    No child deserves to be beaten by sadistic nuns or brothers. Or sexually abused by them. BUT...this is partially the fault of the parents. Because they were 'good Catholics'. Because they ignored the logic & critical thinking which God gave them. Thus approving of the emotional, physical & spiritual abuse. As if it was 'normal'. Due to moral cowardice. Due to peer pressure. Out of a selfish desire for conformity & social approval.

    These are the same motivations which prevented many Christians from standing up to the Nazis. Moral cowardice in the face of obvious evil.

    Christ came to defeat "the world'. He said: "I am overcome the world".

    What is then, 'the world'? It is the power of Mammon.....the overarching hegemony of Church & State, enforcing societal norms in support of their immoral hegemony. Using money as leverage. That is what the Temple Masters of Jerusalem were condemned by Christ for. A condemnation also prophetically intended for the Vatican. As in the Aramaic He spoke, future tense is expressed differently then in English; and implicity via context.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  21. Mouse I agree that there is a certain amount of culpability in the laity, and it extended beyond parents to civil authorities who also conspired to keep the myth of the priesthood stainless.

    I often wonder why. It's almost like we laity acted like little kids who desparately ignore the truth so they can still believe in the reality of Santa Claus. How does ignoring blatant evil have anything to do with protecting 'good'?

    Yes there is a need for penance and purification, but there is also a need to flat grow up and act like adults who can call evil what it is. Forgiveness is one thing, but forgiveness with no expectation for restitution is flat enabling behavior.

    Benedict was up to his ears in this like anyone else. His silence and his dithering while JPII was Pope is no different than the dithering and silence of siblings or the other parent when they know daddy is up to no good with another family member.

  22. Preach it, brothers and sisters!


  23. Just now reading Mouse's link. And wow! It seems clear now that ANYONE who begins to analyze the Church, as they would analyze any other institution, just as I did, suddenly sees almost nothing but warts when it comes to the hierarchy. This is truly eye-opening - that a conservative is writing the kinds of things I wrote nearly a year ago. Once that happens...

    And as any one person changes this radically, it's throwing a stone into water: The ripples go far and wide. Boy oh boy! The bishops are in for a rough ride. Some will get out the pop-corn; I'm just aghast!

  24. rpd46
    I am a happy faithful Catholic. I could not love Pope Benedict more. I feel fine. Sorry to hear your inner spirit has propelled you to a higher plane above the True Faith. Though judging by your previous post I feel rather distressed at a thought that you may never have had or were never taught this faith proper. It is clear you are looking for the pearl and it is to be found only in the Catholic Church but you have to go digging through all the sewage of lies that the world piles on top of her guided by love and faith. You have to trust Her. She is an organism not an organization as you, please God will see. She has a body and a mind. You live within Her and are connected to her members in a most explicit way. Happy hunting stick close to the saints they perceive reality most clearly. Steer clear of writings post 1950, the attack has been rather ferocious this time and many have fallen victim to the blindness associated. Pascendi is a good start if the intellect is up to it.

    Anon Y mouse, I hope for your sake you're just taking the Michael. It's not funny and you should stop.

  25. Dear Ma Tucker,

    Eighteen years of formal Roman Catholic Education and 3 as a seminarian. Seems the RCC had a good chance to teach faith properly. There was a time that I was as intense as you, but as one looks at truth, it just does not match what the leadership are doing in the RCC.

    I once loved Pius Xll and certainly still do John XXIII, John Paul i was a very interesting person, too bad his service was cut short under suspicious circumstances. I admired the leadership of John Paul II until I began to realize that he was leading us back to the thirteenth century. Cardinal Ratzinger was always a fearful man who enviously destroyed the carriers of many of the Churches best theologians. Their theology was not, however, destroyed as he could not destroy so much truth.

  26. I read the "conservative" view of Michael Liccione. He doesn't condemn the acts of child sexual abuse. A few "peccadilloes" he says. Just goes to show you how those who support the establishment are willing to sweep things under the rug when it suits them.

    He could justify almost any bad behavior of the elite, simply because they are the elite. "... the inability of the bishops in their magic circles to grasp that moral and legal rules applicable to ordinary people applied to them and their brother priests" I am appalled by his argument.

    No Michael the inability of an organization that was once part of the elite to cover-up successfully isn't the issue. The acts of the clergy were seriously wrong, morally, and legally wrong.


  27. Ma Tucker -

    "Anon Y mouse, I hope for your sake you're just taking the Michael. It's not funny and you should stop."

    I have no clue what you are referring to. Secondly, nothing I wrote was in any way intended to be amusing. If you think it is, you need an oil change. Now I shall be very blunt:

    a) "I am a happy faithful Catholic. I could not love Pope Benedict more. I feel fine."

    You have summarized your own problem; and there is no excuse for Denial.

    b) "the pearl and it is to be found only in the Catholic Church ......the sewage of lies that the world piles on top of her......You have to trust Her."

    The Roman Catholic Administration has self-provided ample proof over 1700 years that is is not worthy of trust. As to the 'pearl'...normally interpreted as the Gospel message which is the true core of the Catholic Faith - the Vatican does not believe in it. It has survived to this day in spite of the Vatican, due to the Holy Spirit!

    c) "Steer clear of writings post 1950.......Pascendi is a good start if the intellect is up to it."

    Anyone with an ounce of God given intellect & Faith would stay well clear of 'Pascendi'. It is the rationale of Traditionalism/Catholic Fascism.

    Most of the so-called 'Modernists' were guilty of one central sin:

    Believing that Christ had not founded a global, theocratic/financial/political hegemonic mega-corporation.

    Anon Y. Mouse

  28. The Truth is objective. It matters not a jot to my faith when Bishop's and priest's are faithless. Tell me what changes? You have an immortal soul. You have one life here on earth. You need to get to heaven. You need the sacraments to help you get there. You need to love God and love your neighbour as yourself. Jesus Christ is the pattern and he shows us the way. You need to avoid sin like the plague and you need the sacraments to do this.

    Certainly it is very painful when priests make a mockery of mass live scandalous lives and Bishops are negligent. It is like living in a house where your carers are feckless. Certainly, we are living in a very dark period at the moment with much disorientation. However, nothing changes you still have an immortal soul. You still have one life here on earth. You need to get to heaven ..........

    Of course if you do not believe this then the creed is meaningless to you and you have left the faith as many here seem to have. Why bother to call this blog enlightened Catholicism. You have fallen into apostasy simply admit it. It might help to be more honest with yourselves to begin with. By doing so you are faced with a choice. Do I remain apostate or not. Which choice will I make. You will die an apostate or a believer one or the other.

  29. "Of course if you do not believe this then the creed is meaningless to you and you have left the faith as many here seem to have."

    I'm at a loss to see how disagreeing with specific docttine or discipline has anything to do with the creed.

    I am at a loss to understand why it's fine for traditionalists to disagree with the Vatican, especially sedavanctists, but not progressives. Why do anti modernists get to keep their souls pristine and saved, but progressives don't?

    Why does Jesus leave the cafeteria open from the right side and not the left?

    By the way, thanks for the tip on Pascendi. Mouse is right, it's a either a treatise advocating fascism or the intricate rationalizaitons of a flaming narcissist.

    The title of this blog is a pun.

  30. ma tucker, you seem to view God as not only vengeful but subservient to the pope - as you seem to be. you are welcome to your views.

    I speak for many here, I am sure, when I say thank you for the opportunity to suffer for the sake of righteousness.

    Go in peace.

  31. Ma Tucker, you said: "You have fallen into apostasy simply admit it. It might help to be more honest with yourselves to begin with. By doing so you are faced with a choice. Do I remain apostate or not. Which choice will I make. You will die an apostate or a believer one or the other."

    Actually, the Pope & the Curia are apostates who are turning the Church into a place of battle, incoherence, divisiveness, a fascist organization full of bullies - using their worldly titles & abusing their positions of "authority" to ban critical thought, freedom of conscience, deny sacraments politically for selfish purposes and ends. This leadership is acting the total opposite of Jesus Christ and Saints such as St. Francis of Assisi who lived simply in Faith in Jesus Christ. They are doing what Jesus would not.

    If your idea of Jesus is that he would parade around in red shoes looking like a drag queen and being waited on hand and foot and living like a worldly king while ignoring the poor while making themselves fat and rich, then I feel sorry for you. You really need to read the Gospels for the real Faith.

    Furthermore, that is quite the statement to say not to read anything written after the 1950's. Honestly, that is the most ridiculous thing I ever heard. Someone is teaching you a load of something bad for your soul, rotten fruit for your heart and your intellect. It's as if they told you to stop thinking and you gave consent to ignorance of all your neighbors who wrote anything past 1950 - that you are to love as yourself.

    As for loving your neighbor as yourself, yes, by all means, that is the Faith in a nutshell. It is good to practice it. Practice loving your neighbor as yourself. Those who don't are apostates.

    BTW, getting to heaven does not require the Pope's consent, approval or blessing.

  32. I did see over the weekend what Anne Rice said about Christianity. I found some comfort in the idea that there ARE people out there in the public eye who will call a spade a spade.

    Ma Tucker: Your writings here sound like the nuns who taught me in preparation for my Confirmation so many years ago. I was too young then to understand what was happening to me. Now, I know better and can also call a spade a spade. The common attitude displayed is that of a self-righteous spiritual bully.


  33. Ma Barker-

    A re-read of your post indicates that you are very comfortable with the likes of 'Bully" Burke, Levada, & Herr Ratzinger & his magic red shoes. And not so comfortable with the poor, homeless carpenter from Nazareth & his condemnations of the former.

    The core of your problem is that you are clueless as to what you are defending. You are defending the self-assumed power, 'authority', greed & self-serving mode of the spiritual successors of the Scribes& Pharisees. You do not....will not....see this as you have allowed yourself to be Blinded to truth.

    To the truth that the Vatican Administrators would kill Jesus even faster then their predecessors did, were He to appear in the same mode (as the promised Messiah) today. Because He completely & utterly opposed, rejects & condemns them & all that they stand for as an abomination to God.

    Because they are LIE.

    Jesus is TRUTH.

    Anon Y. Mouse