Tuesday, August 30, 2011

An Update On The Austrian Priest Movement

"Did I just read that some retired Brazilian Bishop is calling for a Vatican III?

The following article from Suddeutesche Zeitung gives an update on the goings on in Austria.  Lines are getting drawn in the sand.

An Open Clergy Rebellion In Austria’s Catholic Church 

By Michael Frank-SUDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG/Worldcrunch
VIENNA - There is open rebellion among the clergy of Austria’s Catholic Church. One highly placed man of the cloth has even warned about the risk of a coming schism, as significant numbers of priests are refusing obedience to the Pope and bishops for the first time in memory.

The 300-plus supporters of the “Priests’ Initiative” have had enough of what they call the Church’s “delaying” tactics, and they are advocating pushing ahead with policies that openly defy current practices. These include letting non-ordained people lead religious services and deliver sermons; making communion available to divorced people who have remarried; allowing women to become priests and to take on important positions in the hierarchy; and letting priests carry out pastoral functions even if, in defiance of Church rules, they have a wife and family.

Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, Vienna’s Archbishop and head of the Austrian Bishops’ Conference, has threatened the rebels with excommunication. Those involved in the initiative are not, incidentally, only low-profile members of the clergy. Indeed, it is being led by Helmut Schüller -- who was for many years Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Vienna and director of Caritas -- and the cathedral pastor in the Carinthian diocese of Gurk.

The issues that supporters of the initiative want addressed may be revolutionary, but they are by no means new: they constitute basic questions that have been around for a long time but have never been addressed by Church officials. (From the Vatican's point of view these have been addressed, and in that point of view, they are the only point of view that counts.)

Initiative supporters are demanding that parishes openly expose all things forbidden by the Church hierarchy, thus putting a stop to hypocrisy and allowing authenticity of belief and community life to emerge. The appeal for “more honesty“ made to the world’s youth by Pope Benedict XVI in Madrid last week left a sour taste in many mouths in Austria, where some say that honesty is a quality the Church hierarchy has more of a tendency to punish than reward. (It would be nice if authenticity was stressed instead of authority.  As it stands now the hierarchy treats these two very distinct concepts as synonymous.)

Open pressure and disobedience
Particularly affected are some 700 members of an association called "Priester ohne Amt" – loosely, priests without a job – who have a wife and children that they stand by, but wish in vain to practice their ministry. Priests who break ties with loved ones, on the other hand, are allowed to continue working. (I'm sure they find the married priests of the Anglican Ordinariate another blatant example of hypocrisy and hardly unifying.)

According to initiative founder Schüller, only openly disobedient priests and joint pressure from priests and laity alike can force the hierarchy to budge. Although the problems have been out there for decades, he says, the Church keeps putting off doing anything about them. Cardinal Schönborn stated that the critics would have to “give some thought to their path in the Church” or face unavoidable consequences. On the other hand, Anton Zulehner, a priest who is one of the most respected pastoral theologians in Austria, believes that this time the Church is not going to get away with diversionary tactics.

Twenty years ago, Austria, nominally at least, was 85% Catholic. Today, in the city of Vienna, Catholics account for less than half the population, and rural parishes are melting away. Various scandals have rocked the Church in Austria, among them child abuse charges against former Vienna Archbishop Hans-Hermann Groer, and the nomination of a series of reactionary priests to the rank of bishop.
Read the original article in German.


Now that Cardinal Schoborn is threatening excommunication, the slim hope for meaningful dialogue in Austria is circling the drain. As long as Benedict sits on the Throne of Peter, and treats it like a throne, there will be no dialogue in Roman Catholicism over any discipline impacting the exercise of the priesthood.  As for Cardinal Sconborn, he's been called to woodshed once for his remarks about Angelo Sodano and probably has another trip coming over his open support for Medjugorge-- depending on the outcome of the latest Vatican investigation of the phenomenon--so I'm not terribly surprised he pulled the excommunication card.  Certainly saddened though.

Father Shuller is correct in his assessment that it will take combined pressure from priests and laity to effect meaningful change.  I don't think this necessarily means the Vatican will suddenly cave in to outside pressure.  It could very well mean that priests and laity just stop listening to the Vatican and it's hierarchy and go their own way, forming their own systemic structure, parishes first and larger units from the parishes.  I wouldn't be surprised if this split didn't encompass religious orders like the Jesuits and many LCWR orders who are themselves in Vatican cross hairs.  (See this article in the NCR about the Jesuit theological journal Theological Studies and the Vatican's 'contribution'.)  Institutions can only put the hammer down for so long before folks stop looking at the hammer and start focusing on the hand the holds it.  Or as Father Zulehner says, this time the Vatican is not going to get away with diversionary tactics.

In a more positive vein there is this article from Mirada Global.com.  It's a treatise written by retired Bishop
Antonio Celso de Queirós of Sao Paulo, Brazil.  In it he calls for a Vatican III to address the following issues:
"The Church nowadays is living problems that were not addressed during the Council, or weren’t so clear, such as:
- Christians have abandoned the practice of faith and don’t refer to it in their lives;
- the permanent growth of new Christian religious faiths; the absence or scarce number of young people in ecclesial communities;
- the need for the practical recognition of the mission of the particular churches in the inculturation of faith and in the ecclesial organization and the evangelization of large urban populations;
- the decrease in the number of applicants for priesthood and religious life in countries that had a long-standing Catholic tradition as well as in other countries, and the concomitant population increase;
- the need to redefine the ministries and their fields; the widening of the field of the ministry of permanent deaconship; the opening of ministries to priests that have abandoned ordained ministry;
- the reality of ecclesial communities that lack Eucharist because of the shortage of ordained ministers;
- the issue of a new kind of priests who are not necessarily celibate, alongside others that assume celibacy;
- feminine priesthood;
- the relativization, or the simple practical ignorance of certain rules of the teachings (Sunday mass, keeping Sunday as a day of worship, abstinence and fast…, individual and numerical confession of one’s sins as the only form of the sacrament of penance);
- the “quiet” disagreement of married couples that participate in the Church of the orientations of its teachings in relation to certain rules regarding conjugal morale, second marriages, responsible paternity, the use of condoms as a means of preventing AIDS."
Bishop Celso de Quieros goes on to say this, and Cardinal Schonborn way over there in Austria needs to hear it: 
"....What is necessary is for the Church to open up and get deep into these issues through a serious and respectful dialogue; that the ecclesial structure changes its attitude, avoiding the simple prohibition of dealing with them, which only contributes to increase the risk of discredit and estrangement."

It's easy for some clerics like Australia's Cardinal Pell to blame the burgeoning discontent on mostly Anglo secularists in the Western democracies, but that is just another diversionary tactic.  The discontent is global and it's spreading. And it's spreading just as fast as parishes are being left without the Eucharist and other sacraments.  The Vatican's solution to this problem is not to open up ordination to more people, it's to force more people out of the Church in order to meet the number of priests and that is indicative of a very sick system.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Hermeneutics Of Discontinuity?

Apparently, a great deal of what was literally written in Vatican II was meant to be taken as a figure of speech.

Robert McClory wrote a very interesting article in the National Catholic Reporter on Friday.  It is most certainly worth reposting here for some of the points he brings up dovetail nicely with what I wrote yesterday about codependency and the strategies used by codependent people to maintain their view of reality.  One of those strategies is redefining the facts of actual reality in such a way so that denial is a more effective strategy in maintaining the fictitious reality from which codependents operate.  Language and communication strategies are critical to the success of this endeavor.  As an example, a codependent will defend the addict/abuser by telling one and all the abuser didn't mean what they said or to do what they did.  Keep this in mind when reading the following article, because the reform of the reformers, even though they hold almost all the power in the Church, still consider themselves victimized by Vatican II.

Hermeneutics as Weapon

- National Catholic Reporter
Beware of hermeneutics! It’s a $25 Greek word, referring to the god Hermes, considered the inventor of language and speech, and it deals with the principles of interpretation used in examining the meaning of texts. In theological and philosophical circles, hermeneutics has a long, relatively polite history as scholars probed the writings of masters and came up with diverse (though not necessarily contradictory) meanings based on their hermeneutic perspective. Picture a formal dissertation with two scholars dissecting from different points of view a proposition (preferably in Latin) from Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica, while a more or less rapt audience of students looks on.

That was then, this is now. (Back then the Church was the sole authority on everything.  Not so anymore.)

For hermeneutics as used by growing numbers of the hierarchy has become a blunt instrument insofar as the interpretation of Vatican II is concerned. Pope Benedict really got the ball rolling in his less-than-cheery pre-Christmas speech to the members of the Vatican curia in 2005. A large part of the difficulty in implementing the council, he said, stems from the fact "that two contrary hermeneutics came face-to-face and quarreled with each other." The first is the hermeneutic of reform, which the pope also describes as the hermeneutic "of renewal in the continuity of the one subject -- church -- which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying people of God."

The second, which he calls "the hermeneutic of discontinuity and rupture," is based "on a false concept of the church and hence of the council, as if the former were from man alone and the latter a sort of constituent assembly." This hermeneutic, he said, "has frequently availed itself of the sympathies of the mass media, and is also one trend of modern theology." The false interpretation caused confusion, he explained, while "the other, silently but more and more visibly, bore and is bearing fruit."

This is hardly an invitation to discussion and dialogue. When one hermeneutic is set against another -- the correct vs. the incorrect, the right vs. the wrong, the one based on what "the Lord has given" us vs. the one based on "man alone," there's no possibility of moving ahead. Classic hermeneutecists, I think, would be appalled.

This peculiar dichotomy was further explained in a 2009 speech Cardinal Franc Rode delivered before some 600 clerics and religious at Stonehill College in Massachusetts. He was at the time the prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. His talk was directed specifically at women religious, and it is Rode who initiated the controversial Vatican investigation of U.S. religious orders. "The hermeneutics of rupture has dominated the attempts at renewal of religious life," he said, and much of his talk dealt with how the "aggiornamento," the updating called for by the council, had been overtaken by a "pseudo-aggiornamento," a "naturalism which involved the radical centering of man on himself, the rejection of the supernatural and the supremacy of a climate of radical subjectivism."

The cardinal admitted that the language of the council document on religious life recommended ideas hitherto unheard of in church documents: “adaptation to the demands of the apostolate,” “adjusting their way of life to modern needs,” expressing “poverty in new forms,” in obedience “superiors should gladly listen to their subjects,” “suitable instruction …in the currents and attitudes and thought prevalent in social life today.” But such innovations must be tempered and qualified, said Rode, by other guidelines in the document which stress the more traditional, ascetic, demanding and holier aspects of religious life.

Rode said his remarks applied not only to religious but to all Catholics who have allowed their faith to become distorted by allegiance to the hermeneutic of rupture: “In our day the prevailing climate of agnosticism, relativism and subjectivism is frequently taken as having a normative value that belongs by right to the word of God. We must energetically oppose reformers who contend that the church must abandon her claims to absolute truth, must allow dissent from her own doctrines, and must be governed according to the principles of a liberal democracy.(Shades of Peter and Paul with regards to Jewish ritual law.)

In the final talk at the conference, Robert Morlino, bishop of Madison, Wis., said it’s a matter of teaching Catholics to speak properly. “Many if not most ... have learned the language of the discontinuity hermeneutic," he said.

Indeed, Vatican II did teach a new language, and most Catholics welcomed it. But it has little resemblance to the language Morlino wants us to learn. In his book, What Happened at Vatican II, historian John O’Malley vividly contrasts the pre-Vatican II emphasis on church teaching with the new emphasis the council had introduced. The shift, he said, was “from commands to invitation, from laws to ideals, from definition to mystery, from threats to persuasion, from coercion to conscience, from monologue to dialogue, from ruling to serving, from withdrawn to integrated, from vertical to horizontal, from exclusion to inclusion, from hostility to friendship, from rivalry to partnership, from suspicion to trust …from fault finding to appreciation …from behavior modification to inner appropriation.”  (This last is really hard for codependent control freaks to adapt to because they modified their behavior constantly to live sanely in an insane world.)

Turn that paragraph around, and you will see the direction in which the church as institution is being moved today: from invitations to commands, from persuasion to threats, from conscience to coercion, from trust to suspicion, from inclusion to exclusion, etc. etc. (From personal freedom and inner appropriation to command and control.)

New developments ranging from the excommunication of anyone assisting at a woman’s ordination, to the forced resignation of a bishop who even speaks about the subject, to the exclusion of girl servers in some parishes or dioceses, to a surprise assault by a bishops’ doctrine committee on the book of an eminent theologian, to the suggestion by the executive director of that committee that some theologians today are “a curse and affliction upon the church” -- these are the direct results we can expect from an exaggerated, extremist misuse of a “hermeneutics of continuity” to quash all discussion.

It’s not only discussion that’s getting quashed. In this coordinated campaign from above, it’s Vatican II that is being reduced to a false caricature of itself and its achievements dismissed as aberrations that must be corrected. (Sort of synchronistic that we had the story of Nathaniel this week who stated "No good can come from Nazareth.")


Someone asked me the other day what I considered the hardest part of the spiritual path. I said transcending our childhood because it's in our families and our early cultural experiences where we learn to relate to the worldIf those relational strategies are unhealthy and teach us to overly defend our egos, Jesus' teaching that we must lose our 'selves' to enter the Kingdom becomes much much more difficult.  In our religious relationships, being taught that God is quite willing to toss us aside for having created us fundamentally flawed (original sin) and preprogrammed to sin, does not bode well for a healthy religious relationship.  And when that kind of religious relationship makes us fearful and hyper vigilant,  learning selfless love is pretty much out of the question.  One is too busy defending their ego to let it go.  

I think that's pretty much what the reform of the reform is all about, and why Benedict defined the debates around Vatican II in the terms he did.  It's not about what's in the best interests of Catholics in learning to relate in a healthy way with the Creator.  It's about defending a particular version of institutional ego.  That's too bad because the world could certainly use a Catholic Christian voice generated from a selfless ego.

Here is a link which gives, well, almost a caricature of the 'hermeneutic of continuity'. I suppose that isn't surprising since it is the view of one of Catholicisms more ardent reformer of the reformers--Cardinal George Pell of Australia.  Pell completely ignores that Mass attendance in Australia in under 15%, but he does go on about the 10 postulants to his new Nashville Dominican Convent in Sydney.  This is an example of denial that is very close to delusional given that it's coming from a man who happens to be the titular head the rapidly imploding Australian church.  Don't miss reading this because there are all sorts of jaw dropping statements.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Catholicism And Codependency: It Isn't About The Holy Spirit

In the JPII Catholic Church I can think of one demon possessed who wa$ worth way more than three codepents.  Come to think of it, that person specialized in turning out codependents.

I have written in one way or another for almost four years that the abuse, addiction, codependency paradigm explains what is currently the prevalent psychological mind set in Roman Catholic leadership.  This is easy to see in the behavior of too many of our American Bishops, but codependent behavior seems to be the litmus test for the often praised JPII priest as well.  Obedience, loyalty, self abuse, codependency, and addictive behaviors have been hallmarks of historic Catholic religious indoctrination for about fifteen hundred years.  One of the problems with Vatican II was it seriously attempted to cut the heart out of this dynamic.  Unfortunately for the people of God, codependency was too ingrained in the clerical family and the usual reversal, frequently seen in the family abuse dynamic, took over.  The promised radical change turned out to be mostly empty words.  The Catholic family is now expected to close ranks and pretend all is well in the family and always has been.

If one looks at specific Catholic cultures and leaves out the addiction issues with in family structures, one can not begin to put together an explanation for Catholic abuse in countries like Ireland, Australia, Canada, or the US.  Children raised in families that are essentially units in the addiction cycle and who are then exposed to a Church run by codependents from other addictive families,  are going to have a very hard time avoiding their own abusive, addictive, or codependent issues when it comes to their own spirituality or own families.

The signature trait of a child born and raised in an addictive family is trying desperately to control and make sense of a life situation which is by any definition utterly unpredictable and too often abusive.  Or to put it differently, trying to make sane what is insane.  This task is usually accomplished by a predictable set of behaviors which includes an incredible ability to deny or reinvent the facts of their lives.  They are then   hypersensitive to criticism about their reinvented reality or the people close to them who necessitated the creation of this reality. They become very secretive in order to control information about themselves and protect their invented reality.  They learn to compartmentalize or divorce themselves from both the real facts of their lives and the emotions associated with those facts. They bend over backwards to serve the whims of their addictive abusers becoming in a very real sense addicted to perfect martyrdom. They become almost exclusively reactive and crisis oriented because that's what they grew up with and it's all they know.  Finally, they frequently repeat this pattern in adult relationships and situations.

All the service professions have a higher proportion of codependents than other fields.  This should hardly be a shocking surprise.  Neither should it be a shocking surprise that all religious bodies have their fair share of sexual predators.  The problem comes when the two faces of addiction/codependency intersect.  Then you have the  familiar situation of codependents covering up for addicts and predators because the codependents belief in their invented reality is more important than the facts of the damage done by the addicts and predators.  Ergo scandal to their image (invented reality) of the Church was far more of an issue for codependent bishops than the sexual abuse of some non consequential ten year olds. Besides, those non consequential ten year olds could be bullied into acting like perfect little Catholic codependents--which too many of them then tried to be to their own destruction.  Clerical abuse only became a problem too big to deny when too many of those inconsequential children started coming forward.  Tens of thousands of inconsequential victims and thousands of exposed predators are no longer inconsequential.  At this level the fantasy reality is facing a whole lot of unwelcome reality.

A corollary consequence to this process is that it inevitably stops maturation and development.  The individual, family, or institution seeks the return to the familiar cycle of abuse, crisis, placation, and the safety of the invented perfect world. That the codependent dynamic is alive and well in Roman Catholicism is not hard to see.  The hard part to see is how to change the dynamic.  The first step is to recognize and acknowledge the problem which this Vatican is not about to do.  They are in fact using all the codependent strategies in their tool box to hide this problem:  

1) The Vatican under Benedict is always creating a crisis for itself.

2) Secrecy reigns supreme even though we're told it doesn't.

3) Differences of opinion, criticisms of the hierarchy,  or views of the Church which differ from the imagined ideal are inflated to dissent or even heresy, and never tolerated.

4) Issues which result from actual clerical behavior- and which do undercut the fantasy of clerical holiness- are shoved aside and minimized in favor of over reacting to issues brought by outside others which are perceived to directly threaten the idealized notion of the all male celibate clergy.

5) The Vatican is now purposefully engaging in a strategy for convincing Catholics their personal identity resides in the institutional church, totally dependent on the all male priesthood,  and not the person of Jesus Christ--hence the whole Catholic identity movement.

6) The 'do as I say, not as I do' strategy becomes more and more evident.  This is especially evident in the treatment of gay Catholics.  "Yes we love and affirm your dignity as God's creatures-- as long as we don't know you, but if you make yourself evident, it's all about sinful behavior not personal dignity.

7) The use of the 'us against the world' strategy and it's corollary, "no one has the right to criticize us who isn't one of us".  In this strategy, those on the inside who criticize are systematically and forcefully hunted out and made outsiders.

8) The final one, which personally drives me nuts, is there is never direct communication.  It's always indirect communication and usually in the form of the behind one's back kind of thing.  In this scheme, organizations like the USCCB or the Maryknollers become go betweens for the imposition of Vatican authority while vociferously stating they are not.  Two examples of this indirect communication strategy are the Bishop William Morris saga, and the imposition of the new liturgical translations.

I wish the True Believers would understand this codependent/addiction dynamic.  Forget the battles over this that and the other dogma or liturgical preference.  Those are just diversions to keep Catholics from seeing the truth, and that truth is the clerical system has a power addiction problem and has for a very very long time.  It is for this reason that I do not advocate adding women priests to this addictive clerical family.  I actually suspect that if this Vatican were to ever ordain women priests, they would all come from the new habited cloistered convents.  You know, the obedient loyal ones, which just happen to be the two traits must highly valued by addicts in their family enablers.

Here's a great humorous read about this same topic.  The link is to the second part, but that contains a link to the first part.  It's by Australian Graham English and written for Catholica Australia.  I will freely admit I laughed a lot and can now stand up and say: My name is Colleen and I had a Hair of the Dogma problem.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Is Benedict About To Institute Another Papal Ordinariate For SSPX?

It does appear the Vatican mountain is willing to meet the SSPX mole hill more than half way.  And St Peter's Square will be all spruced up for the momentous event.

On September 14, Bishop Fellay with the Holy See will discuss a possible agreement

Andrea Tornielli - Vatican Insider - 8/22/11 Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Archbishop Lefebvre, has been summoned to the Vatican next 14 September. It is the first summit after the doctrinal talks last year in Rome, where there were clashes between  the Holy See and Lefebvrian delegations.

As readers will recall, since 2009 the Commission Ecclesia Dei, which deals with the Society of St. Pius X, has been incorporated in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and it has been entrusted to the leadership of Monsignor Guido Pozzo.

The doctrinal discussions, which addressed all of the nodes considered problematic by Lefebvre, who believes that, in some places, the Second Vatican Council represents a break with the tradition of the Church, have been concluded in recent months. (VII did not represent a break with the tradition of the Church. It represented a desire to emphasize a tradition which had always been part of the Church but never not in the ascendancy since Constantine.)

Now the Vatican should subject to Fellay some memoranda of understanding, clarifying doctrinal points, as for the Council, on the interpretation of the continuity in the reform suggested since December 2005 by Pope Benedict XVI as the more authentic interpretation of the texts of Vatican II. (Ah yes, his personal notions of the 'reform of the reform'.)

A proposal for a canonical adjustment will be submitted to the Society only if doctrinal difficulties are overcome, and that will resolve the current situation, in which the Lefebvrist community finds itself now.

Although the Pope, in a gesture of goodwill, nullified the excommunication of the four bishops ordained by Archbishop Lefebvre in January 2009, bishops and priests of St. Pius X still live in a state of canonical irregularity.

The proposal which has been studied by the Vatican, would allow Lefebvrists the establishment of an
ordinariate similar to that offered by the Pope has to Anglicans who wanted to come into communion with the Roman Catholic Church. In this way, the Fraternity would depend on the Holy See (and specifically on the Ecclesia Dei Commission) and could retain its characteristics without having to answer to the diocesan bishops. (Yes, we must protect SSPX from the Bishop Morris's of the Catholic world.)

The meeting of 14 September, that Vatican Insider is able to confirm, therefore, represents a new step in the journey of these troubled years. But it is premature to provide conclusions: in fact, it is known that within the SSPX there coexist different sensitivities and some consider difficult to reach an agreement.

It should be noted that Pope Ratzinger, who wanted to close the Lefebvre mini-schism, has already completed two very significant steps in the direction requested by the Fraternity: he has liberalized the old pre-Conciliar Missal and has lifted the excommunications in force since 1988.


One didn't have to be psychic to see this one was coming.  It's beginning to look like this Vatican will bend over for any group who maintains the primacy of an all male clerical caste, even if that comes with 'baggage' like anti semitism or a 'tepid' enthusiasm for the primacy of the papacy and the documents of Vatican II.  In the case of the Anglican ordinariate, the price has included married male clergy.  It will be interesting to see how the ever so traditional  SSPX deals with that issue in their brother Catholics.  I suppose their common love of Gregorian chant and triumphalist liturgy will transcend such difficulties.  The hypocrisy is mind boggling.

How long is it going to take before Western Catholics who were raised in, or freed by, the People of God vision of Vatican II realize their is no future for this vision under this current hierarchy.  This current Church is not about the People of God, it is about some Men of the Cloth.  That signal message is being thrown in our faces not just by the kind of priesthood Benedict affirms, but by the dark side of that same form of priesthood in it's sexual abuse and cover up phase.  How many ways must the Spirit give us this message?

Over at Catholica Australia, contributor Tom McMahon has a series about the recent American Catholic Conference in Detroit.  In this latest installment Tom has inserted an email sent to him by Robert Blair Kaiser who attended the conference.  Kaiser wrote the book 'Cardinal Mahoney' which describes the rise of an  autochthonous American Catholic Church.  Here's some of what he wrote to Tom McMahon:

".....But it was so much like all the national CTA [Call to Action] conventions I ever attended: inconsequential. Those 1800 who attended endorsed a Catholic Bill of Rights, but, to me, it was just a wish list, with no plan attached to it that told us how we'd get our wishes. So, the conference fell far short of what I had hoped for, the launching of an autochthonous American Catholic Church.

I realize this is something like a critic not liking a book or a movie because it isn't the book or movie HE would have written. Nevertheless, I was sad that I could not convince the organizers (some of the original 12 who founded the ACC) that the idea of an American Catholic Church was worth pursuing, no matter how long it takes......

I hope much sooner than later, Vatican II Catholics will get the message that there is no room in the Vatican Inn for the vision of church espoused in Vatican II.  There is unrest about this all over the Catholic globe but talking isn't going to change the direction of the current Vatican.  This is not just unrest about a few doctrinal issues but a huge gap in understanding about the very nature of the Church itself and the very God/Jesus that view of Church implies.  The view of Church described in Vatican II does not deserve to be steamrolled under the weight of an all male triumphalist priesthood with it's junior high notions of God in the sky heaven and the rest of us in some subterranean hell.  It's time, perhaps more than time, VII Catholics say enough is enough and we will go our own way.  Waiting for papal permission is a fool's errand.

Oh and if the above isn't enough to give you heartburn.  St Peter's square is to be completely refurbished according to this article from Digital Journal.

"The project will encompass all of the square’s 376 columns and pillars, 140 statues and 1,200 metres in terraces and cornices, as well as the Clementina and Gregoriana fountains and the Egyptian obelisk in the middle."

The renovation work which is being funded through donations from "generous sponsors" will also restore Bermini's original design and colors according to the head of Vatican technical services, Pier Carlo Cuscianna.

I wonder who these generous sponsors are, but I can make a pretty good guess one is the Knights of Columbus--a group whose current leadership would not be too terribly interested in an autochthonous Vatican II church which was willing to give up the power and the glory of Vatican city.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Psycho Sexually Immature Male Has His Own Little World In Phoenix.

USAF Major General Margaret Woodward prepares to serve Thanksgiving dinner for her troops at Ramstein AFB.  In her day job she is Commanding General of the 17th Air Force and US Air Forces Africa--the group that just accomplished the Libya mission with out a single casualty.



Here's another bang my head on my desk decision from our 'traditional' friends in Phoenix AZ. Oh, and we are to believe Admiral Olmstead had nothing to do with this decision affecting his Flag Ship. Interesting how Phoenix Catholic girls can attend the United States Naval Academy, but not serve Mass for Admiral Olmstead. The following is Michael Sean Winter's take on this decision as posted yesterday in the National Catholic Reporter.

No Altar Girls at Phoenix Cathedral

 By Michael Sean Winters - National Catholic Reporter - 8/22/2011
The rector of the Cathedral of Sts. Simon and Jude in Phoenix has decided to only allow boys to be altar servers at Mass. The Rev. John Lankeit said the decision was his alone, not that of Bishop Thomas Olmsted. Lankeit cited the historic connection between altar boys and vocations. (Notice Fr Lankeit states 'historic' connection, not present connection.)

The decision is regrettable from every angle. There may be an historic connection between boys being altar servers and some of those boys going on to be priests. Hard to tell. There was also an historical connection between maleness and, say, the American founding. There was, until recently, a connection between being male and running for President. The rector may not have noticed but women do lots of things they did not do previously and it is a misplaced concern for gender differentiation to want to hold on to yesteryear's ways.
The decision also runs the risk of bringing back the "boys club" mentality that has caused great damage to the Church. Altar servers bond. While other boys and girls sleep in or play soccer on a Sunday morning, they get together to help out at Mass. Restricting that activity by gender helps create the wrong kind of gender differentiation, the kind that leads adolescents to grow up to be uncomfortable with women in Church, but any future pastor will likely rely on women to run all sorts of activities in his parish. Boys who are uncomfortable around girls will be inclined to see being an altar boy as a chance to escape their uncomfortability. I would submit that this is not necessarily a good thing to discern, still less to cultivate, in future clerics.(I sort of disagree with Michael's take.  Boys will grow up uncomfortable with women in any meaningful role in the Church, as opposed to society.  I suspect the uncomfortableness with women in the church in ways other than the pews is the whole idea behind this move.)

But, there is a deeper concern. Those altar girls who are now barred are baptized. Serving as an altar boy does not have to do with holy orders - and it never has. Yes, in seminary, future priests were installed officially as acolytes and as lectors, but most parishes never had officially installed acolytes. Rev. Lankeit has focused on the wrong sacrament in this decision. One wonders if he has even read the documents of Vatican II which place such a heavy emphasis on the dignity of the baptized.

Bishop Olmsted has not been shy about making controversial decisions. And, generally, most of us think that allowing pastors more say in their parishes is a good thing: micro-managing bishops can be a disaster. But, this is not just any parish. Officially, Olmsted is the pastor of this parish. He should step in and overturn the decision.  (Oh wow, Michael what are you smoking?)


Catholics can surely expect more and more of this kind of thing.  It is so tiresome.  It is so frustrating.  It is so junior high.  Last night I read this 'professional assesment' of SNAP's National Convention from Bill Donohue.  Towards the end he takes on Richard Sipe and Tom Doyle for their professional analysis that one of the major underlying causes of the clerical sexual abuse crisis is the pscho sexual immaturity in the clergy and it's encultured narcissism.  Ya think?   Apparently Bill Donohue doesn't think.  It's a fascinating read in it's own way because Bill takes on seemingly everyone who has ever had a negative word to say about the sexual abuse crisis or 'Holy Mother' church.  The idea that some of that negativity might actually be truth is beyond Bill.

I just love how "holy mother" church has no room or place for her daughters except to prepare and clean all the sacred spaces reserved to her exalted sons.  That is what girls will get to do in Phoenix.  They will be allowed to function as sacristans who prepare the altar area before Mass.

I started this out by referencing Olmstead as an Admiral.  I did this for a purpose.  The Libyan campaign is now drawing to a successful conclusion, as least in terms of the military component.  Our US Air Forces were under the command of Major General Margaret Woodward.  A woman. A woman who ironically is a graduate of Arizona State University.  We Catholic women are being asked to believe that Margaret Woodward is capable of commanding in a theatre of war, but not serve at Olmstead's Masses.  Excuse me?

Here is what her fellow commanding officers think of General Woodward:

“Her success in a male-dominated world comes because she is a smart operator,” said Dunn, who served at the Pentagon when Woodward worked in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “She understands air power, and her forte is she gets along with people -- the human element of command can be one that’s difficult for some to master.” 

Maybe it's time pseudo Admiral Olmstead called on General Woodward for some advice on how to deal with the 'human element of command'.  After all General Woodward's campaign resulted in exactly zero US casualties and the objective was completed in six months.  Oh and lest I forget, the alliance which made this success possible was part and parcel of our Foreign service effort led by another woman, Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton.  

Women military and world leaders? Yes.  Altar girls? No.  This disconnect between women in the Church and women in society is a huge huge disconnectIt is a gap which will only get wider and wider unless the psycho sexually developed men in the Church start raising their voices and put the immature male in his place.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Why Was There Very Little Mentioned About The Resurrection At WYD.

This is not a shot from the Barcelona Olympics.  It's from the final Mass at WYD in Madrid.

I more or less decided to take a break from posting during this week and focused instead on some other things happening in life.  And no, that did not involve traveling to Aberdeen, Scotland for those of you who got an email to that effect.  The irony of having my email hacked is I had just upgraded to a supposedly more secure Yahoo edition.  So much for that notion.  In any event, this morning I decided to catch up on what happened at World Youth Day and have spent the last couple hours reviewing many of Pope Benedict's speeches.  I came away from this exercise utterly convinced Jesus suffered and died, and that was it.  After further scrutiny I found that Benedict mentions the Resurrection hardly at all.  He did mention it once as a sort of standard add on  in a sermon to seminarians.

"Fix your eyes upon him who through his incarnation is the supreme revelation of God to the world and who through his resurrection faithfully fulfills his promise. Give thanks to him for this sign of favour in which he holds each one of you."

Virtually every address Benedict gave was fulsome it's praise for the pain, suffering, and death endured by Jesus.  The paragraphs directly following the above in his address to seminarians is a perfect example:

"The first reading which we heard shows us Christ as the new and eternal priest who made of himself a perfect offering. The response to the psalm may be aptly applied to him since, at his coming into the world, he said to the Father, “Here I am to do your will” (cf. Ps 39:8). He tried to please him in all things: in his words and actions, along the way or welcoming sinners. His life was one of service and his longing was a constant prayer, placing himself in the name of all before the Father as the first-born son of many brothers and sisters. The author of the Letter to the Hebrews states that, by a single offering, he brought to perfection for all time those of us who are called to share his sonship (cf. Heb 10:14).

The Eucharist, whose institution is mentioned in the Gospel just proclaimed (cf. Lk 22:14-20), is the real expression of that unconditional offering of Jesus for all, even for those who betrayed him. It was the offering of his body and blood for the life of mankind and for the forgiveness of sins. His blood, a sign of life, was given to us by God as a covenant, so that we might apply the force of his life wherever death reigns due to our sins, and thus destroy it.

Christ’s body broken and his blood outpoured – the surrender of his freedombecame through these Eucharistic signs the new source of mankind’s redeemed freedom. In Christ, we have the promise of definitive redemption and the certain hope of future blessings...."


I've never understood this lack of enthusiasm for the Resurrection.  For me personally, it's been the biggest reason I have remained connected to the Church.  I sometimes wonder if this lack of enthusiasm is rooted in disbelief.  It's much easier to believe in the crucified Christ than it is the resurrected Christ. We all die, only one has risen from death and lived to tell about it.  

I can't for the life of me imagine how Christianity would have gotten off the ground unless it's original believers actually experienced the resurrected Christ.  Other wise Jesus was just another dead prophet, of which the Hebrews had a plethora at that particular time.  I am really at a loss as to the reason for this lack of enthusiasm for the Resurrection.  Is it because no other human, much less Christian believer,  has managed to accomplish it? 

Pope Benedict did give a number of other homilies stressing the need for love and compassion as the markers of the true Christian Way.  His address to young educators was especially well done. And yet,  he also had a consistent need to link love and compassion with pain and suffering-- as a healing antidote which redeemed our common experience of pain and suffering.  Love and compassion are much more than that however, they are the bedrock of creation.  They are what marks us as truly created in the image and likeness of God.   

I'm not unaware of why Benedict might continually link love and compassion with pain and suffering.  It's part of a traditional Christology which views the Eucharistic celebration as a re enactment of Jesus's suffering and death on the cross.  It is about sacrifice and the need for priests to stand 'in persona christi' as they offer this sacrifice on our behalf.  Priests such as himself.  It's not surprising then that Benedict would continuously remind Catholics that they must affirm the idea of Jesus as both redemptive suffering sacrifice and God's High Priest.  That notion asks the People of God to continue to affirm our need for the clerical priesthood to offer such sacrifice on our behalf.  The idea of resurrection does not particularly fit well in this ChristologyMaybe that's because the idea of resurrection transcends all the notions about sacrificial misery and suffering. The crucifixion was the last stop on the road to resurrection, the last big test before the real never ending end of the full story.

Catholics will continue to get homily after homily from this Pope about the redemptive quality of suffering and paid and how love and compassion ennoble them.  We will continue to hear a lot about Jesus's passion and death and very little about His resurrection.   It's my belief the resurrection was the whole point of the story.  It was that act that empowered Christian spirituality, that got people's early attention, that fueled what the first Apostles were able to do both as individuals and as authors of the Christian spiritual tradition.  They believed in the divinity of Jesus precisely because they experienced the reality of Jesus's resurrection.  Those experiences probably had a great deal to do with the fact the first Apostles were sure Jesus was literally coming back in their lifetime.  It's an easy to understand reaction, but it was flat wrong.  So much for the infallibility of Peter.

All in all World Youth Day was about what I've come to expect.  It's a great ecclesiastical show pretty much in the same way the Olympics are a great secular show.  It's fun if you get to be there, but not so riveting if you can't get there.  Two weeks from now pretty much everyone will have forgotten all about it, but twenty years from now, like Woodstock, one hundred million or so people will claim to have been there.  In the meantime very few people will have been truly converted and the vast majority will be trying to survive in cultures where just getting one's daily bread will get to be a harder and harder task to accomplish.  

The real question might be if in twenty years there will be much of a Roman Catholic Church left in the West. It may be that it is this question which is fueling all the babble about pain and suffering and the need for the younger generation of Catholics to affirm their need for the clerical priesthood.  I would much prefer it if those same younger Catholics would wrestle with what Jesus did and how He did it and why He said we too could do it and why His Way, His understanding of love, is crucial to doing what He did.  

Try this link for a rousing opening address on,  well, a lot of things.  It's the homily of Madrid's Cardinal Antonio Maria Ruoco Varela from the Opening Mass of WYD.  It's quite a pep talk.  And he mentions the Risen Christ twice.  Imagine that.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Rome Calls Two To The Woodshed

Bishop Raul Vera Lopez will be off to see the Powers that Be about the same time Archbishop Chaput is installed in Philadelphia by those same Powers.

In July I ran two stories on two different men, Cardinal Jose Policarpo of Lisbon, Portugal and Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of the Diocese of Saltillo, Mexico.  Vatican Insider is currently running two pieces about these men and how they have been called to the Vatican woodshed.  In Policarpo's case, his trip was over statements he made about the lack of theological reasons for the prohibition on ordaining women, and in Lopez's case, his trip involves both his support for a gay and lesbian group and  for a human rights campaign to de criminalize abortion in all States in Mexico.  The following is an excerpt from the Vat Insider article on Cardinal Policarpo.

...Now, the Portuguese daily paper reveals a behind the scenes description of what happened over the past weeks, stating that the Lisbon patriarch was summoned by the Papal Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. The conversation took place in Castel Gandolfo in the first half of July, while the Portuguese cardinal was in Rome to participate to a plenary session of the newly formed Papal Council for the new evangelization. Publico writes that Policarpo was treated with extreme kindness “because the Vatican was afraid he would react negatively to a strong reprimand.” (How sweet, Bishop Ruiz will not be so lucky.)

On July 2, a few days before the meeting with Bertone, Policarpo had received, through a papal nuncio in Lisbon, a letter by cardinal William Levada, prefect of the former Holy Office. According to a testimony obtained by Publico, the letter apparently had him very worried. For this reason, on 6 July, the patriarch wrote a clarification statement. The Portuguese daily paper, however, highlights that this was not the first time Policarpo had made statements of this kind about women priests: however, it was the first time that his words had been reported by the international press.

António Marujo’s article provides several of the cardinal’s statements as examples. In 1999, a year after his appointment as Lisbon patriarch of the diocesan center, Policarpo led people to believe that the matter of women priests had not been settled at all and that what was needed, was a period of maturing of the communities and the Church, since today the idea of “women carrying out duties that were unthinkable thirty years ago is now accepted within the Church.” (Notice phrasing:  Policarpo led people to believe.....)

On May 2003, in Vienna, the cardinal responded in a similar fashion to a question during a press conference in which mention was made to a letter sent by Pope John Paul II in 1994 and the Congregation’s subsequent clarification of the Doctrine of the Faith. Policarpo explained that in his opinion the matter “is not settled that way; from a theological point of view, there is no fundamental obstacle; there is this tradition, let’s call it that way... it was never done any other way”. In that same interview, the Lisbon patriarch stated that at the present time it was not appropriate to raise the issue because it would have triggered “a series of reactions,” but he concluded saying that “If God wishes it to happen, and if it God’s plan, it will happen.”

The document of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to which reference is made, was the answer to a doubt published by the former Holy Office (at the time led by cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who had archbishop Tarcisio Bertone as his right hand). It asked if “the doctrine, according to which, the Church cannot ordain women priests, as proposed in the apostolic Letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis” had to be “deemed definitive” and “part of the deposit of faith.” The answer, approved by Pope Wojtyla, was “affirmative.” The Congregation at the time explained that “this doctrine requires a permanent confirmation because, based God’s Word, written and constantly kept and applied in the Tradition of the Church since its origins, it was infallibly proposed by the ordinary and universal teachings of the Church” and thus, “it must be followed always, everywhere and by every faithful person, since it belongs to the deposit of faith. (I can't wait until the Vatican updates the Nicene Creed to include this gem in our deposit of faith.  That would certainly stop all the talk about women's ordination.)


Bishop Lopez will undoubtedly receive a very different reception when he makes his trip to the woodshed.  In his case Chaput's CNA Spanish affiliate has combined with Life Site news to lead the charge against Lopez, and it doesn't appear anyone holds more sway in the Vatican right now that Chaput.  Why would Lopez all of a sudden merit such a spot light from two North American Catholic propaganda outlets?  The answer more likely lies in Ruiz's stances on social justice and his avid support for married deacons than it does on his support for gay dignity in the church or the decriminalization of abortion. Hence, we have this from the Vat Insider article:

He remained close to the poor ever since his work in Ciudad Altamirano, where he became priest in 1988. In 1995 he became one of Samuel Ruiz’s (bishop of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas at the time) possible successors. On 14 August 1995, the Pope appointed him coadjutor bishop with the right to succession. (Samuel Ruiz was another Mexican bishop beloved by his people but not so much the JPII Vatican.)
He finally settled in Southwest Mexico in 1994, when the Country was still under the influence of the guerrilla movement of the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional (Zapatista Army of National Liberation). By appointing him, the Vatican wanted to achieve the quick replacement of Samuel Ruiz and to pull the reins in on the indigenous theology project in Mexico which was at its peak at the time. This was about the time that the Vatican began to show its concern.
But the attempt failed. Not long after his arrival in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Vera became one of the most radical defenders of the actions of permanent married deacons (as substitutes of presbyters) and of the diffusion of what Rome calls the “Diaconal Church”. The Vatican saw this as an organised attempt to do away with clerical celibacy. (Again another glaring example of how the all male celibate priesthood is more important than Jesus Christ Himself.  Sure does make one wonder why?)
This change forced the Apostolic See to appoint him Bishop of Saltillo (on 30 December 1999), before confirming his succession of Samuel Ruiz who was replaced by Felipe Arizmendi Esquivel.
Vera’s appointment, however, did not put an end his social demands. He used his position to defend exploited mineworkers and the needs of the families of individuals who had disappeared, mostly because of drug traffickers.
Furthermore, Raúl Vera applied the pastoral care model of San Cristóbal to Saltillo, widely promoting the ordination of permanent married deacons who according to him “are able to perform the work of priests in the most remote communities.” His incessant, quasi political proselytism and his stance with regard to certain matters have not warmly welcomed by Mexico and Rome. (Yes, only right wing 'quasi political proselytism' is permitted.--Try this article by Frank Cocozzelli on Archbishop Chaput.

Vatican Insider is an interesting read.  I am predisposed to think it has plenty of Opus Dei money behind it. It has a most definite political slant.  Couple this with the seeming unending influence of Archbishop Chaput in global Catholic affairs and I can't help but wonder who really is running Roman Catholicism.  

Lately, Benedict's papacy is beginning to look a great deal like JPII's papacy, and I'm not talking liturgically and theologically.  I see those as fog for another agenda. For some reason it is critically important for the real power in the Vatican to maintain an all male celibate priesthood with a large percentage of closeted gays.  It's way too obvious that the quickest way to get to the woodshed is by advocating, even gently advocating, positions which threaten the celibate priesthood or the position of gays in the Church.  Forget sexual abuse, our worst criminal enabling bishops are either in the Vatican curia or free to wander the globe with no accountability to anyone.  If the people of Ireland are curious as to the where abouts of Cloyne's Bishop Magee, they should reflect on the anonymous cushy lifestyle lived in his later years by American Archbishop Marcinkus.  He of the Banko Ambrosia scandal.

Yesterday I wrote the current version of the clerical system is spiritually bankrupt.  Actually it appears more and more as if it's running a serious deficit and has no desire to impose a debt ceiling.  Maybe because it's real energy is locked up in the same financial morass that is taking down Western economies.  That would be the energy of unfettered greed, not spiritual holiness. 



Saturday, August 13, 2011

In The Timeless Now The Illusions Of The Clerical System Are Running Out Of Gas

The Great and Powerful have brought back indulgences for WYD. 

There are trends popping up in Catholicism regarding lay relationship with the priesthood which should be raising alarms in the Vatican.  I have selected two comments which speak to two of these trends, while the final piece by Eugene Kennedy speaks to a major reason for the cracks in this relationship.

First up is a response to a comment on Phyllis Zagano's most recent NCR column.  It is a response not to the article itself, but to a comment from a recent convert who gave the Church's standard traditional response as to why sacramental spirituality still works in the very sinful ordained.  For this commenter, the answer Rome gave to the Donatists is not the final word.

Your answer is technically and legally correct, pursuant to the doctrine of "ex opere operato.' This doctrine was the Roman response to Donatus.
However this is not the end of the matter . . . There are the more important issues of legitimacy and pneumatic integrity to deal with.(Absolutely true.)

What all of us need to understand very clearly is that the Holy Spirit is not some celestial bellhop - capable of being "commanded" by the Mass-celebrant to descend on the Holy Gifts and transform them into the Body &;  Blood of Christ - simply at the words of institution - the Canon of the Mass! At all times, the Holy Spirit retains the sovereign choice as to whether to descend or not, transform or not. Or even *when* and at what point to transform.

The Holy Spirit will not be "coerced" by the doctrine of 'ex opere operato' into sanctifying the moral turpitude of the celebrant through granting a blanket-consecration of the contents of that altar.

What we may well discover is that for the true faithful, the consecration-moment for the Holy Gifts at a Mass where the celebrant is manifestly unworthy, is, in fact at the point when They enter the mouth of that true-faithful communicant. (Or when that faithful individual gives consent--hence the priesthood of the people through baptism is the ultimate operative in the spiritual efficacy of priesthood.)

Thus, in this "mixed multitude" Mass, there will be two groups of people who take the accidents (of bread and wine) into their mouths:
A) The true-faithful who will be legitimately Communing - independent of 'ex opere operato' - for these both accidents and substance will walk together, independent of the celebrant, and
B) The compromised "mixed multitude" (which will include the celebrant) who will NOT be legitimately Communing - despite 'ex opere operato' - for these, there will be no "substance" to the accidents. (This is too strong in my opinion.  People, including compromised celebrants, can still experience a real Communion with Christ by virtue of desire---just like they can with Baptism.)

I am prepared to prophesy that for the duration of this abuse scandal (&  possibly other scandals of similar magnitude), and wherever it has happened, this "two-group" scenario has existed.
I further prophesy that if clerical doublethink over this and related scandals goes on for much longer, the Holy Spirit may well decide, out of a sense of sustained frustration with respect to the legalities and niceties of Canon Law and the declarations of the Magesterium, to operate extra-murally with respect to these two, and grant "real-presence" in a Mass independent of any sanction from "unworthy" clergy.  (This is of course precisely what the Vatican has to fear will be the final outcome of their convoluted attempts to maintain the status of the current priesthood by minimizing it's responsibility for all of it's abuses.)

For the sake of the poor clergy, I sincerely hope and pray that it does not get this far, but I remain pessimistic over whether this can be avoided. (For the sake of the poor priestless laity, I hope it does get this far.)

Our Lord and Master, as recorded in Matt 25:31-46 said "Inasmuch as ye did (or did it not) to the least of these my brethren, ye did it to Me." (paraphrased). For these poor little abused ones, I was given a vision beyond the veil where He had His arms around them in comfort, saying to them "Come unto Me and find rest, I love you, for you (abused as you have been at the hands of My unaithful shepherds) are the quintessence of My Kingdom.
"And those unfaithful, abuser-shepherds who have so hurt you will be cast into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth."
I trust that this assists. (I had a somewhat different vision regarding a known class IV pedophile.  I saw him taken through the experiences of every single one of his victims (which happened in real time)-- and live these episodes as the victim, until he got to his own initial sexual abuse at four years old. At that point he was held by a very incredible loving energy. It was a profound experience for me and a profoundly healing experience for him.)


On to another interesting point which is being made more and more frequently:
The Holy Spirit may likely be driving people to prophetically draw attention to our shortcomings. We can't spiritualize to avoid accountability. People are not leaving the Church, they are taking leave of the current state of leadership.  (People are finally beginning to get beyond the indoctrination that defined the hierarchy as the sole voice of the Church, akin to Jesus Himself.  This too is not a trend that bodes well for the future of the existing ordained hierarchical structure.)


This final quote is from Eugene Kennedy's latest article at the NCR.  It's topic, plenary indulgences,  is another perfect example of a Vatican living in denial.  It's no wonder the two trends exemplified above are not just taking root, but spreading through out the Catholic land.  But Kennedy also makes other very important points.

...."Now, while Catholics burn with the shame inflicted on them by this crisis, Rome seems so pre-occupied with re-entering the shadowed yesterday of clerical domination that it has no interest or enough spiritual energy to lead the church to a fresh dawn of self-examination and self-cleansing. (This is a very important point.  The clerical system has run out of spiritual energy. This is a very serious state of affairs and one the Vatican either doesn't compute, or won't seriously look at.  Benedict's Year of the Priest, featuring St John Vianney was not the solution to this very real problem.)

The latest example is found in promising plenary indulgences to those who fulfill certain conditions when they attend World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, Aug. 18-21. BUT WAIT -- as they say on infomercials -- partial indulgences are also available to those who pray appropriately during this gathering even if they cannot attend in person.

As part of the Reform of the Reform, this unfortunately rings like a church bell with associations of selling such indulgences during medieval times when bartering for grace and time off from Purgatory with cash scandalized Catholics and helped bring on the Reformation. (Those who will not change are doomed to repeat their past.)

It is worse now because it confounds the mystery of Time and Eternity in which Roman officials should have an interest even if they lack any understanding of them. These are also critical variables in the human experience of the sexual abuse crisis and confusing them can only increase the suffering of the victims of sex abuse.

Indulgences are airily explained as lessening the temporal, or in time, punishment for sin that actually takes place beyond the reach of time, or the application of its parameters, in eternity. Where there is time, as Joseph Campbell has expressed it, there is sorrow. That is a function of time not of eternity and indulgences make no sense, sold 500 years ago or promised now, as any kind of spiritual currency to bail us out of the timeless sphere of eternity. (This is just another example of the bankrupt level of spiritual energy in Rome.  If you can't do the real thing, sell an illusion and base that illusion in confusion.)

Time, with its sorrows, has a meaning for sex abuse victims because there is no time in the human unconscious; it is always NOW. That means that a wound that was seemingly inflicted on a certain date breaks free of the calendar's grip and is always as fresh in the victim as the moment it was inflicted. There is not statute of limitations for victims and their suffering, no plenary or partial indulgences to relieve them of their wounds.  

By turning back to the concept of giving "Get Out of Purgatory" cards to those who attend an event in time demonstrates how estranging to human experience this return to another age really is. The world's victims are burning with suffering that is not cured by the passage of time and Rome fiddles, neglecting to plumb the depths of the still continuing sex abuse crisis, while talking irrelevantly in the language of plenary and partial indulgences.

To promise to relieve the so called temporal punishment due to sin through indulgences while failing to understand the timeless nature of the suffering of the sexually abused makes one think that Nero may have had it right when he did the fiddling while letting Rome do the burning.

The point Kennedy makes about the timeless nature of the sexually abused is precisely why I was able to experience in real time what had happened in the past with the pedophile I wrote about above. He relived all of it in real time, just not as the predator but as a repeated victim precisely because he was repeating his own victimhood on others. It was an utterly profound experience for me in understanding how love and forgiveness work in the eternal now.  All things are possible in that eternal now.  It is where healing happens.  Change whether good or bad, always happens in the present, not the future, and not the past.  As Kennedy points out, indulgences violate this truth about time and eternity.  This whole indulgence idea is pretty much a naive (or cynical) bankrupt spiritual concept.
It is however,  another perfect example of how little spiritual energy is left in this concept of an ordained priestly hierarchy---and this story on the continuing saga of Fr Roy Bourgeoius and the over the top punishment meted out to those who speak to women's ordination is another glaring example of how desperate the Vatican is to hide the truth about how spiritually bankrupt the system really is.


Sunday, August 7, 2011

Wither Goeth Catholic Ireland?

This is a great read on this Sunday commemorating the Transfiguration of Jesus.  The following article from the Irish Independent asks an important question in spite of all the fun:  How will Catholic Ireland transfigure itself in order to find a future which transcends it's "Roman" Catholic past?  And to be even handed, there is this far less humorous post from the Sydney Morning Herald

Stifled by weight of Rome's pomp, power and stubborn patriarchy

By Carol Hunt - Irish Independent - Sunday, July 31, 2011
WHAT with the Taoiseach being compared to Hitler, the Vatican throwing a hissy fit and the rest of the world enthralled at little Catholic Ireland standing up to the big boys in Rome, perhaps it's time we asked: "What would St Patrick do?"

Not the snake-slaying, shamrock-waving bishop of later invention, but the Patrick of humanity and pragmatism, with all his foibles, failings, loss of faith, love of women and bloody awful Latin.

Because, since the Taoiseach fired the first official salvo against Rome, the Irish Church seems to have been mobilising itself for a schismatic war. As Catholic commentator David Quinn noted: "It is as though we are now being asked to choose between the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and the Irish Catholic Church. Catholics in the past have had to make a similar choice. How will we choose?"

Bishop Willie Walsh, Fr Enda McDonagh, and the Jesuit theologian Fr Gerry O'Hanlon, among others, have advocated the idea of an Irish synod involving clergy and laity -- and, God bless us, women too -- to map out the future of the church. As O'Hanlon has noted: "It will not do any more for priests, bishops, cardinals, the Pope to simply tell us what to think, what to do. People rightly want a say." Is this heresy, or just a return to the church of our ancestors?

Well, it's probably fair to say that the idea would go down like a cup of cold sick in the Vatican. God knows what would happen if some of those more outspoken Irish clergy (like the ones who called the new translation of the missal sent from Rome "elitist" and "sexist") got together with a disillusioned, increasingly secular and very angry Irish populace. Ninety-five theses? I bet they could come up with 195. Are we about to have our own Reformation?

Well, we weren't always good Roman Catholics. Though historians no more accept the idea of a unified "Celtic Church" than they do a united Celtic people, it wasn't until the Synod of Whitby in 664, about 150 years after the death of St Patrick (who, if he was sent to "Romanise" us -- very doubtful, he was later confused with Bishop Palladius who got short shrift from the Irish -- failed miserably) that the highly individual, monastic, forgiving and relatively egalitarian Irish Church submitted somewhat to Roman law.

According to one historian: "Irish Christianity was pure, spiritual, intensely personal, dedicated only to the absolute word of God. Rome's was materialistic, tightly organised, widely social in intent, intolerantly conformist."

But after the decline of the Roman Empire, the so-called Golden Age of Irish monasticism blossomed when we modestly declared that our monks, abbots and abbesses (mixed religious communities existed) "saved civilisation". Celibacy was a choice, not a necessity, and many church offices were handed from father to son -- and even sometimes, it was rumoured, to daughter. ("How The Irish Saved Civilization" is one of my all time favorite books.)

But then came the Vikings, disorder, disruption and the implementation of Gregorian reforms. From 1111 a series of synods changed the monastic Irish Church into a parish-based system. They still weren't overfond of celibacy though, or of sending cash to Rome. And consequently the (forged?) papal bull of Pope Adrian I was used by the Angevin King Henry II as an excuse to invade Ireland.

Chronicler Gerald of Wales complained: "Of all peoples it [Irish Catholics] is the least instructed in the rudiments of the Faith. They do not pay tithes or first fruits or contract marriages. They do not avoid incest. They do not attend God's church with holy reverence."

Oh dear. Well, Gerald had a habit of exaggerating, but it can still be said quite truthfully that the official reason for the Norman invasion of Ireland was to turn us all into good Roman Catholics. Now, how ironic is that?

Did it succeed? Well yes, up to a point -- in that the hierarchical structure of the Roman Church most definitely replaced the Irish monastic one. But now that the great days of the learned monks had ended, the general mass of people never bothered with all that Roman theological stuff, preferring a mix of ancient pagan beliefs and rituals combined with an Irish style Catholicism. Celebrations at holy wells, harvest bonfires and wild Irish wakes co-existed with a soft Catholicism practised under the Penal Laws. Mass and confession weren't such a big deal for the average Irish peasant. And anyway, there were never enough priests to go around. Hanging was a pretty good deterrent to vocations.

It wasn't until after the great famine that Roman Catholic Ireland as we know it was eventually established. The old superstitions had failed to protect the people from catastrophe, and the newly emancipated, increasingly middle-class Roman Church (heavily influenced by Victorian attitudes to sexuality) was well set to step into the breach.

The "devotional revolution" commandeered by the Roman-trained Cardinal Paul Cullen revolutionised the Irish Church. The British cheerfully handed control of new schools and hospitals to the clergy -- a cynical move as they knew the threat of eternal damnation from a bishop was a most excellent deterrent against sin.

We had so many "Mammy vocations" that we began to export our religious abroad. Mass attendance increased exponentially. And national identity became inextricably linked with Roman Catholicism. So when the British finally left, the real victor was not so much the Irish people but the Roman Catholic Church.

Perhaps future historians will look back on the 20th century as an unfortunate period when the Irish replaced one foreign overlord for another, with disastrous consequences.

Perhaps the Irish clergy calling for a national synod to discuss the future of the Catholic Church will realise that whereas Ireland has given so much to Rome, Rome has given little in return -- bar contempt for our laws, our women and children and our young, struggling Republic.

There are still many Irish people who sincerely desire to maintain a spiritual, Catholic religion. Yet they are finding it impossible to do so under the weight of Roman pomp, power and stubborn patriarchy.

Yet community, spirituality and ritual are still very important to many Irish Catholics. Do Wiccans Have Hymns? asked writer Barbara Scully in a blog post last week where she articulated the innate desire of many lapsed Catholics to be members of a church that valued community, equality, spirituality, ritual and support rather than the inflexible "doctrinal truths", invented over the centuries by Rome.

She is not a "secular-atheist or pseudo-rationalist", and neither are the majority of the Roman Church's critics in Ireland and abroad. Nor are they so ignorant as to be blindly led by some imagined "hysterical anti-Catholic media agenda".

What would the humble, nomadic Patrick we know from his Confession do? Would he support the Church of Rome in its attempts to retain control of its empire? Or would he advocate a return to the simple, spiritual yet pragmatic practices of the early Irish Church?

What do you think?  (Well, since you've asked, see below.)


I think Catholicism has somewhat lost the idea of 'simple, spiritual yet pragmatic practices'.  I think if one reads the Gospels with the idea that Jesus practiced a 'simple, spiritual yet pragmatic' ministry, one has a good idea of where Catholicism should move in the future.  It should certainly move away from 'pomp, power, and stubborn patriarchy'.  Instead we are moving in the exact opposite direction with huge mega parishes, more pomp, and desperate attempts to hold onto secular power and influence.  It surely doesn't look like we will see much movement from Rome in the direction of a simpler pragmatic spirituality.  Instead we get World Youth Day, which is neither simple nor devoid of pomp.

World Youth Day will be held in Madrid in the middle of this month.  In all the press about Ireland, I think it's also important to remember that Catholicism in the other crown jewel of the Vatican--Spain, is also suffering from a serious down turn in participation and has it's own anger level directed at Rome.  The Zapatero government of Spain was taking on Rome long before Enda Kenny came on the Irish scene.  WYD is most likely being held in Spain this year so the Church can be seen flexing it's Spanish muscles as a visual reminder to the Zapatero government that Rome is still a player in Spain.  The truth is more likely that those Spanish Catholic muscles are pretty soft, and WYD will not be the steroid shot that produces any lasting effect.  Just as I doubt the 2012 Eucharistic Congress to be held in Ireland is going to save the Catholic Church from Irish civilization.

Pomp, power, and stubborn patriarchy just doesn't cut the mustard in most of the developed world.  That world has moved on.  But as Carol Hunt points out in this article, that doesn't mean the developed world has stopped needing real spirituality, or real communion, or meaningful ritual. It prefers a more simple and pragmatic form of spirituality.  Hollywood produces more than enough pomp and magic and Hogwarts sequels for the average person.  

Religious escapism isn't what most people are seeking.  They are seeking answers to serious questions that make some sense in a world being consumed with consuming,  it's resources gobbled up by fewer and fewer people.  Instead Rome offers advice from the indicted head of the Vatican Bank advising white Europeans to have more babies in order to produce more consumers in order to pay for the upkeep of the elder generations whose very existence is the reason for the current economic crisis.  I'll grant you that's a somewhat simplistic solution to our economic woes.  Have more babies.  Not consume less or regulate the out of control banking system, or figure out a way to share wealth or adjust for changing life styles,  just have more babies.  Wow. 

You go Ireland, maybe it is your destiny to save civilization from this kind of Roman thinking.