Saturday, June 11, 2011

The American Catholic Conference: Kung Starts Things Off But I Write About Fox

I have to admit this is too frequently my primary source of knowledge.  It's the discernment thing that becomes an issue.

The American Catholic Conference is off and running.  Last night's opening address was given by Hans Kung via video.  The National Catholic Reporter has this article about Kung's thoughts, and Brian Coyne, editor of Catholica Australia is in attendance and has posted his thoughts in this first article, and then lists the ACC Bill of Rights in this postI was actually going to do a post on this Bill of Rights, but decided instead to focus on another of the Council's keynote speakers, Mathew Fox.  Fox has just released a new book, The Pope's War, which maintains that the JPII/Benedict papacies have essentially been schismatic precisely because both papacies have done everything in their power to abrogate the main thrust of Vatican II.  Kung says essentially the same thing, if not so strongly, but even Kung calls for a peaceful revolution and compares the  Papacy to the French monarchy just before the French revolution.

There's an interesting interview with Mathew Fox about his new book, and I am going to excerpt his answer to one question because  my own thoughts echo Fox's.  Lately I've had a number of people (non Catholics) ask me why I bother with this blog or with Catholicism at all, and I blather on endlessly and not too coherently.  Mathew Fox on the other hand, hits most of my reasons in the following answer:

If I am not Catholic (or even Christian), should I be at all interested in this book on the woes of the Catholic Church?

The Roman Catholic Church is the largest Christian denomination by far.  Its global influence is profound for good or for ill.  It has at times drawn many wonderful and generous souls into its service even if today many are tripping over each other to exit.  When it chooses at its hierarchical level to support dictatorships and fascist rulers—and to imitate them—that impacts on all of us.  (On this score, the last two papacies have been following Pius XII's script.  Benny has just substituted secularism for communism.)

When it teaches that birth control and condoms are wrong when the world is being swamped by excessive human population as well as by sexually transmitted diseases like AIDS, that affects us all.  

When its theatrical rituals suck all the religious air out of the room because it is pleasing to television’s needs to elevate a person dressed in white to cult status, that affects us all. (There is a great deal of truth to this observation. No question that Papal theatrics are TV friendly.)

When Ratzinger interfered in the US presidential election of 2004 by telling bishops to publicly announce that a Roman Catholic voter cannot vote for a politician (i.e. Kerry) who favors women’s choice and the vote of three states (Iowa, Ohio and New Mexico) was determined by that intervention as studies show, then the fact that the Vatican got Bush elected his second term is of concern for all. (Yes indeedy, which is why we now have the Republican Catholic Church in the US and it's being led by converted southern evangelicals.)

When theological thinkers are suspended and pedophile priests are countenanced and their hierarchical defenders are promoted (a la Cardinal Law), that affects us all. 

When fascist cults like Opus Dei and Legion of Christ and Communion and Liberation are promoted by the Vatican, that affects us all.  (And this is matched by incessant pressure on the historical orders like the Jesuits and Benedictines.)

When base communities and liberation theology are denounced, that affects us all.  When the spirit and teachings of the great Vatican Council including outreach to all world religions are denied, that affects us all.

And when morality is reduced almost exclusively to sexual issues instead of the great issues of planetary survival and social and economic justice, that affects us all.

The hijacking of the name and teachings of Jesus in the name of Ecclesiolatry affects us all.  Ours are not a time for keeping silent about the sins of organized religion.  Ours are a time for starting over.

All of the above is reason enough to be concerned about and active in the attempt to reformat Catholicism, but reform it to what?  It's here where I am really in line with Fox's thinking.  In some respects we have been walking the same path from different starting  points.  In the following Fox is answering a question about the other book on Christian mystics he was writing at the same time he was writing The Pope's War:

Writing The Pope’s War (Sterling, May 2011) was so dour, so dark, so dreary, the news was so much the opposite of uplifting that I told a friend I felt like Oscar the Grouch who lived in the garbage can on Sesame Street.  Yes, it was like living with garbage.  What to do?  I put the project, about 60% finished, on a shelf not sure I would ever return to it.  All my other books had uplifted me in the writing; not that one.  It dragged me down day after day.  It was not fun. (Same with this blog some days. Covering the Vatican is sometimes like wallowing in a big dipsy dumpster full of spiritual and psychological garbage.)

The culmination of the pope book was my conviction that the Holy Spirit is so decimating Catholicism as we know it today that we can and need to push the restart button on Christianity.  This includes “taking the treasure from the burning building” as I put it in the book.  And first and foremost of those treasures is our mystical and prophetic heritage.  Thus Christian Mystics is a deep part of the treasure that our lineage contains.  It points the way to Christianity’s greatest accomplishments and its greatest future potential.  The task is not that complicated: It is about turning out mystics and prophets.  Like Jesus did; and was.

Mathew Fox is onto something about Christianity's task.  I too believe the task is to mentor mystics and prophets and that the teachings of Jesus were all about what it takes to be a mystic, a prophet, and a healer. His teachings were meant to unfold the reality of heaven on earth.  They were not meant to create Vatican City and Catholic clericalism, both of which exist to disempower the laity.  And that to me is the real heresy of the last two papacies--they have been bound and determined to disempower the laity and return to clerical triumphalism.  I will fight that tooth and nail because that path leads to chaos and destruction.  If anyone doubts that, just review the real history of the Vatican and it's support of fascism in World War II.



  1. Colleen, you certainly don't "blather," as you put it. Your blog provides a crucially needed voice. And this posting is an example of what it provides. I hadn't noticed Matthew Fox's address until you posted about it, but now that you've done so, I plan to read it in its entirety.

    I'm intrigued by the conclusion that the last two papacies have been schismatic. If that's true--and it strikes me that there's truth to this conclusion--then I wonder who's driving the schism.

    I'm inclined to agree with Frank Cocozzelli that there's a deliberately induced schism going on, in which the right wing of the church is seeking to expel everyone except themselves. And it seems to me that schism is far more about economic considerations than anything else.

    Very rich and very powerful men are intent on using the Catholic church to bolster their power and control. And to do that, they have to silence all voices except those that affirm the rapacious greed of the very rich.

    Which means schism, of course, since you can't silence those voices without breaking from the gospels themselves, and from all those within the church for whom the gospel message still has meaning.

  2. A very excellent post. I read some of the links too. Very informative. Thanks for sharing.

  3. It's not just Frank's stuff, It's Betty Clermont's and Jason Barry's as well. Who is really behind this continuous swing towards fascism and why can't the Vatican wean itself away from fascist interests? It has to be the money and it has to be the Vatican Bank.

    I keep going back to JPI's 'death' and the fact the first thing JPII did on his election is put the Vatican Bank under his sole authority. I seriously doubt either event was the work of the Holy Spirit.

  4. Very informative post and interview with Matthew Fox. I never considered that my long and troubling exit from the Church was possibly an exit from a Church in schism, as my affirming of my gay identity was the context of that exit. I am no theologian or scholar, but I do know that after JPII took the throne, with Ratzinger by his side, the Church I thought I knew, started to become unrecognizable. It was no longer a vehicle for spirituality for me. Now I observe with some interest, from the outside.

  5. Collen,
    Just got back from holiday to read this fine piece.
    Don't give up heart ! Like William says you are a crucially needed voice and you write coherently well.

  6. Colleen, your blog was a most refreshing gust of wind on this Pentecost morning. It made me want to obtain and read Matthew Fox’s new book, The Pope’s War, at once. I have a friend I would plan to give it to, also.

    I especially liked your linking Fox’s reasons for staying in the Roman Catholic Church and fighting the hard fascist turn to the right while trying to control and drive everyone one else out; and how Fox’s articulation for staying and speaking out reflect your own views. I would add that Fox’s and your own assessment mirror my own. You give words and reasons to what I feel.

    I wonder if the archbishop of Detroit has any thoughts this morning on how he is fomenting schism in the RC Church? I hope they have a great spirit filled liturgy this Pentecost in Detroit at the American Catholic Conference. I wish I could be there.

  7. Wild I actually see this exactly the way Fox does. It's a war for the soul of the Church and it's being taught to the remnant as exactly that.

    If there's anything to the idea of quantum consciousness, and I happen to know there is, the Vatican is attempting to put in place a very distilled toxic fear based religious consciousness that will function to reinforce some of the worst manifestations of man's inhumanity to man this planet has ever seen. None of their actions are about love, they are about fear.

    It is not an accident that a card carrying member of the Hitler Youth has been manifested as the leader of this version of Catholicism. Unfortunately the left doesn't seem to be able to manifest much more than chaos. That has to change and the internet may just be the framework on which our consciousness coalesces and begins to manifest something more coherent.

    Check this video out, it's really powerful:

  8. As more and more people begin to understand the RCC leadership, they are giving up on its authenticity for moral pronouncements. This is a good thing. I have often said of the RCC Bishops that their morality is not even ethical. The reason of course is something that Coleen has stressed for years, these men in general have lost human integrity. So happens in a dictatorial regime that does not look for authoritative truth but rather believes in its own omniscience. ----- That is the mind set of the Authoritarian.

  9. I've found it fascinating to read the conservative response to the American Catholic Conference. If there is any sense of Jesus Christ in these responses I didn't find it. It's like Jesus doesn't count in comparison to the Pope and the infallible magisterium. And in all honesty I don't find that surprising because Catholics have been enculturated for eons to look to Rome before looking to Jesus.
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