Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When It Comes To Benedict's Thoughts, Cardinal Wuerl Insists On Civil Discourse

Cardinal Wuerl suddenly feels compelled to ask for polite Christian discourse and truth spoken with charity.  I bet all his DC employees who lost spousal health coverage are somewhat skeptical.

The following paragraphs are taken from a letter written by Cardinal Wuerl for the Washington Archdiocese newspaper. Amazing how the articles about proper Christian discourse are finally being written. I imagine this has something to do with the fact the target of the righteous right is Pope Benedict.

Christian Discourse: Both Truth and Love
Cardinal Donald Wuerl - Person and Society Part II - My Catholic Standard, Archdiocese of Washington

........No community of human or divine origin, political or religious, can exist without trust. At the very core of all human relations is the confidence that members speak the truth to each other. The covenant between God and his people also obliges us to a relationship of truth. It is for this reason that God explicitly protected the bonds of community by prohibiting falsehood as a grave attack on the human spirit. "You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor" (Exodus 20:16). To tamper with the truth or, worse yet, to pervert it is to undermine the foundations of human community and to begin to cut the threads that weave us into a coherent human family. (This deception and erosion of trust usually begins by presenting a false front about yourself, or being ignorant about one's own motivation.)

Christians must not only speak the truth but must also do so in love (Ephesians 4:15). It is not enough that we know or believe something to be true. We must express that truth in charity, with respect for others so that the bonds between us can be strengthened in building up the Church of Christ.  (I've never believed building up the Church of Christ was even on the radar of folks like Bill Donohue or Father Z.  Making it more exclusive, reclusive, and righteous was certainly on their radar.)

Even while there may be disagreements within the ecclesial community on policies and procedures, there is a presupposition that we are all one in our faith. One of the reasons why we should find it easy as a Church to arrive at consensus is because it is Christ who calls us together in the first place. We are already one in what we believe, in our loyalty to the Church and in our commitment to live by God's commandments. (Unfortunately the stronger presupposition for some is that the other person is a sinner and by definition not worth listening too.).......


"Whatever diminishes love diminishes the Church."  I wish Cardinal Wuerl would have given us his definition of love. The definition he actually acts on, not the one he intellectually believes in.  This whole notion of love is one of those starting assumptions which is fraught with possibilities for vociferous disagreement.  The kind of love a St Francis of Assisi might be acting from, is not the definition of love a teenager might be acting on.  One is all encompassing and non judgmental, the other is quite specific and actually quite selfish. 

Unfortunately, way too many Christians act from the two kinds of love experienced by the teenager.  These also happen to be the two kinds of love which precipitate the most teen age angst.  The first is the love precipitated by hormonal changes and involve sexual attraction.  The second is maturing past parental/cultural authority and learning to define and defend personal boundaries.  Both of these situations involve changes in neural functioning and maturation.  Changes I am not going to get into for purposes of this post, except to note that successfully navigating these tasks of the teenage years call for the healthy development of previous neural stages of development.

Another comment which Cardinal Wuerl makes without defining his starting assumption is this one:  " At the very core of all human relations is the confidence that members speak the truth to each other."  I can guarantee that my starting assumption about speaking truth is not Cardinal Wuerl's. My starting assumption about truth starts with me and my understanding about my truth. Cardinal Wuerl seems to be starting from an assumption of truth that reflects the Church's definition of truth as affirming it's long held tradition about truth.  This tradition by the way, ignores a lot of philosophy and science about how we experience reality and how idiosyncratic that can be and often is. 

Cardinal Wuerl's definition of truth leaves out self examination when relating to and with others. It substitutes externally given truth for hard won self truth. Our task as lay Catholics then becomes a process of finding external speakers who agree with the external teaching authority.  Catholic truth has nothing to do with going with in and discovering self truth.  Hence in this current time and place acting on one's conscience is only given lip service in official church teaching.  A good conscience is defined as being totally in concert with official church teaching and there by the whole notion of personal conscience is subsumed into unquestioned obedience.  There is no need for personal conscience at all.

Then along came Pope Benedict and his thoughts about condoms.  Oh my.  It appeared papa changed his mind and some of the children were being given a lighter yoke to carry.  How totally unfair of papa. 

Sometimes it's amazing how much truth Jesus taught in his parables. The prodigal son is ever so timeless and so hard for some people to understand. 

Neural development impacts our understanding of truth just as it does our ability to love. Failure to be truthful with ouselves about ourselves impacts our understanding of truth just as it severely impacts our ability to love. How we are raised, how many cultural experiences, and how much we've matured also impact our understanding of truth and our ability to love.  The truth is our personal understanding of both truth and love can indeed be very relative and subject to change.  Pretending this truth is false doesn't impact it's truth, it just helps make our own lives and the lives of others less than they could be.  It's also a lazy and cheap way to live one's spiritual life.  That too is the truth.



  1. Coleen, your comments about truth are most appropriate. I like the fact that you did not use the word the before the word truth. It is very important to understand as we grow and develop, we begin to see truth in a different way as we observe more of it. When we attempt to grab the truth it is like sand and it slips through our fingers.

    Our Church has gone very far astray with its ideas about modernism and relativism. They use the word relativism when they really mean relativity. It is a revolt against growth and development and a trend toward authoritarianism.

    Remember that Papal infallibility was only defined at Vatican 1 in the late 1870's. This was right at the time of the loss of the Papal States and the men in Rome were very fearful of the loss of all authority. In their fear and feelings of inferiority they struck out to define Papal infallibility. Even if they lost worldly power, they still had spiritual power. This was acting out in fear and inferiority. Just who are the intellectual teenagers? Remember also that Vatican I was a very turbulent council that when Pius IX initially did not get what he wanted on the infallibility vote, he disbanded the conclave only to reconvene it as many of his opponents had gone home. I fail to find any truth in his actions.

    The idea of relativity (relativism) is seen as a challenge to infallibility and infallible teachings that can never be changed no matter what current observations show. This is the key to the intellectual dishonesty practiced by this leadership. This inferiority is not getting better over the years but has metastasized into a growing sense of superiority in the minds of every Bishop and has been described as “creeping infallibility.”

    Just as this leadership were asked to open the windows of the church to observation and more truth by the saintly John XXIII, there were those that had an internal fit like the tantrum of a baby. This element in the clergy do not know how to grow and develop they fear it. Yet by the use of mutual manipulation of the very wealthy, this immature element in the Church gained control with the election of JP II. JP II had a big personality and a huge imprint on the selection of the leadership in the current church. He was a great leader the led the Church back toward the immature thought of the 11th to the 13th centuries. They have in a sense made their ability to deal with the growth and development of the human ethic into that of the mind of the immature infant. The Church Leadership have made themselves academically irrelevant but they continue to upset society with constant tantrums. They are like crying babies in a nursery and when one begins to cry they all follow suite. More of the laity each year begin to understand their irrelevance.

  2. Until we stop believing that dogma and "church teaching" save us, and do the tremendously hard work of building our relationships with God, based on our personaly truth, we will never gain the wisdom, which includes accepting the fact that the Holy Spirit speaks to all of us, we will never experience what God wants Church to be. My relationship with God has involved great struggle as I have faced and continue to face the truth about myself. My relationship with God is also so intimate that I know that I am God's beloved. From this awareness, then I can truly develop a conscience that reflects who I am in God, not adherence to dogma and teaching which isn't development at all; it's simply intellectual acceptance and has nothing to do with faith or relationship with God.

  3. "This tradition by the way, ignores a lot of philosophy and science about how we experience reality and how idiosyncratic that can be and often is. "

    Fricking True!!!!!!