Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Perhaps shortly the Vatican can contract with a Japanese robotics company and solve their 'priest' problems.

 After spending seven years studying the issue, the Vatican has acknowledged a vocations crisis in the priesthood, and has prepared guidelines for fostering vocations.  The following was posted on Huffington Post.

Vatican Blames Lack Of Priests On Secularism, Abuse, Parents

Religion News Service - 6/26/20121
VATICAN CITY (RNS) The sexual abuse scandal has tarnished the image of the priest and contributed to a crisis of priestly vocations in the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican said Monday (June 25), while also faulting a widespread "secularized mentality" and parents' ambition for their children, which leaves "little space to the possibility of a call to a special vocation."

The "Pastoral Guidelines for Fostering Vocations to Priestly Ministry" were prepared over the last seven years by the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.

The document says candidates to the priesthood shouldn't be accepted if they show "signs of being profoundly fragile personalities," and says future priests should learn the "importance" of their future commitments, "in particular with regard to celibacy." (Why does my mind go to Cardinal Raymond Burke?)

The guidelines acknowledge that "in many places the choice of celibacy is questioned" and say that such "erroneous opinions within the church" are responsible for a "lack of appreciation" for those who make the choice to remain celibate. (Even amongst Bishops celibacy is questioned and questionable.)

In fact, Western culture, with its "indifference to the Christian faith," is "unable to understand the value of vocations to a special consecration."  ("Call no man father, for you have but one Father".....Jesus Christ.)

Data presented by the congregation's undersecretary, the Rev. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, show that priestly vocations over the last 10 years fell sharply in Europe. They remained stable in North and South America and rose significantly in Asia and Africa, though still not enough to offset the rapid growth in Catholics' numbers worldwide.


It never ceases to amaze me that when institutions have recruitment problems the last place they look for reasons is themselves and their own policies.  Here we have a perfect example.  Celibacy itself is not the reason, it's secularism which doesn't understand the value of celibacy and parents who are greedy for their sons futures.  Oh, and maybe a few child abusers that the media used to attack the credibility of the Church.  So,  it seems that in the mind of Pope Benedict's Vatican, it makes more sense to attempt to change culture than it does to change one rule of discipline involving the priesthood.  I'm also not buying the statistics on priests from Africa and Asia, because while the priesthood is growing, it is far from celibate.  This is one of the reasons Vatican watchers think there are so few African prelates appointed to Rome.  Their families become a major issue and the Vatican doesn't want another Archbishop Milingo disaster.

It's hard for me to dismiss the thought that this refusal to consider any change in the priesthood is because the Vatican is currently being run by a group of entrenched 80 something year old clerics who function on the spiritual and emotional level of self absorbed teen age boys.  It's their priesthood, their little clique and by God to join it, a man has to play by their rules. After all, they played by these rules their entire lives.  To change now would be to cheapen and disavow the sacrifice they and their predecessors made.  In short, it's all about them and to hell with the People of God who are enduring an unchosen sacramental fast for the sake of the priesthood of Benedict XVI. 

The reform of the reform will not result in a blossoming of vocations to this current priesthood nor a rebirth of the Church in the West.  It is not designed to do any such thing.  It is designed to force out of the Western Church any Catholics whose belief structures include notions of the primacy of individual conscience, anglo style democratic governance and judiciary, and enlightenment notions of human dignity, equality, and civil rights for all men and WOMEN.  In this mindset the all male celibate clerical priesthood is the single most visible symbol of Benedict's view of the Church.  Everything, including the entire rationale for current Roman Catholic sexual morality hinges on the perceived sanctity, ontological superiority, and sexual purity of this ritual priesthood.  The fact that such a priesthood is by definition ripe for exploitation and leads to grown men acting like terrified children,  as classically shown in the abuse scandal, is of no moment.  Pope Benedict and his predecessor John Paul II have bet the future of the Church on maintaining this version of priesthood for an infantilized and immature laity willing to put selfish notions of magically 'saving their soul' in place of Jesus' very difficult command to love others.   

What parent, with any kind of spiritual maturity, would want a son to sacrifice their life to this impoverished idea of spiritual service?  Apparently not very many and maybe we should thank God for that bit of parental wisdom.

Monday, June 25, 2012

"Persons With An Inclination To Abuse"

Bishop Cordileone is in that group of Bishops who can be defined as carrying the cross of  'persons with an inclination to abuse'.

Oakland California's Bishop Salvatore Cordileone has upped the stakes in the Catholic identity movement.  He is demanding the Board of Directors of the gay and lesbian pastoral outreach group CALGM take an 'oath of personal integrity' to Catholic teaching--his version anyway.  This is hubris beyond belief given the USCCB has once again refused to have their own integrity to the Dallas Charter policed by anyone other than their own individual conscience. No 'oath of personal integrity' for them,  Cardinal Archbishops like Timmy Dolan can continue to bribe predator priests to leave the priesthood while simultaneously inventing any dubious strategy under the sun to avoid paying victims.  On the other hand CALGM has to start referring to their intended pastoral group as "persons with a homosexual inclination" rather than as gay and lesbian. Oh, and take a loyalty oath to their fuhrer with a crozier.  Does it get anymore insulting or absurd?

The following is an excerpt from the NCR coverage:

Gay ministry group refuses to sign oath

 By Brian Roewe - NCR - 6/25/2012
Following a more than yearlong investigation into the group's "adherence to the fullness of Catholic teaching," the future of a national association of ministries to gay and lesbian Catholics is uncertain because its board members refused to sign an "oath of personal integrity" to Catholic teaching given to them by the local bishop.

Declining the oath could result in Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of Oakland, Calif., declaring the Catholic Association for Lesbian and Gay Ministry, or CALGM, as "not authentically Catholic," a letter to its members from the association president warns.

"In good faith, we have done most everything required of us to maintain a legitimate space within the boundaries of the institutional Church," president Sheila Nelson wrote to members April 5. "Yet, this has not seemed to be adequate or satisfactory to the office of the bishop. We have repeatedly, abundantly and humbly submitted that our work is pastoral in nature and not political or primarily doctrinal."

The Oakland bishop declined NCR's request for comment. Mike Brown, the diocese's director of communications, issued a statement saying, "If the Bishop decides to make a public statement about the CALGM organization, he will then decide the best time and communication method to do so."

Cordileone's list of concerns with the association have included the omission of specific church documents on its website and publications; its use of the terms gay and lesbian; members' statements deemed critical of the church; and the backgrounds, affiliations and public statements of both conference speakers and board members.

In an April 12 letter to the association's board, Cordileone stated he would "take public action to clarify the status of CALGM with regard to authentic Catholic ministry" should they refuse to take an oath that requested that each member "strive to clearly present Catholic doctrine on homosexuality in its fullness" and "profess personally to hold and believe, and practice all that the holy Catholic church teaches, believes and proclaims to be true, whether from the natural moral law or by way revelation from God through Scripture and tradition.".......

But wait, it gets better, here's some of the contents of the 'personal oath of integrity'.

......The board declined the request for resignations in a Feb. 10 letter, and offered to submit and sign an oath written by the board. In his response letter March 5, Cordileone supplied his oath, which began by having each board member affirm the church's commitment to the pastoral concerns and support of gay Catholics and their families, and included a series of "I affirm and believe" statements regarding the definitions of marriage, purgatory and hell; the belief that Communion is available only under a state of grace; and church positions on chastity and cloning, among others.

Cordileone indicated that the purpose of the oath was not for the board to begin teaching church doctrine immediately in its outreach, which he acknowledged would be counteractive to their ministry, but rather to give assurance to the pastoral effectiveness of their ministry by way of each board member affirming the truths he outlined. 

If readers take in the whole article it becomes apparent that Bishop Cordileone keeps moving the goal posts in this 'dialogue' with CALGM, until it is not about the mission of CALGM and whether it conforms to Church teaching, but ends with the demand the Board sign away their individual consciences in obedience to his.  More classic abuse dynamics.  Not surprising then that Sheila Nelson, the Board President of CALGM finally responded this way:

Nelson, in a March 29 letter, informed the Oakland bishop the board would not take his oath: "In the course of our conversations with you over the last year, we have endeavored to engage and respond to each of the concerns that you have raised about our pastoral ministry."

She continued: "Sadly, there always seems to be something that you say 'confirms [your] doubts' about us and our work. ... We have tried to gain your trust ... We have tried to assure you that we are faithful disciples in parishes and dioceses doing the pastoral work of the Church ..."

"We hope you can understand, then, our confusion at the 'Oath of Personal Integrity in Belief and Practice Regarding the Teachings of the Catholic Church.' Suddenly, the terms of our long conversation have migrated from the work of the Association to the personal lives of the Board members," she said.


First off a personal note.  I have been off line for a week or so due to a move to a different residence much closer to work.  This should give me an extra hour a day to ponder wise things, or as my daughter said: "Waste".  Unfortunately I had a bit of a hiccup getting internet service, (I'm just so thrilled with Verizon), but now I am up and running and spouting all the wise things I've been pondering about.

This blast from Bishop Cordileone is not wise, it is a blatant power grab, engaged in just because he can.   I am thrilled to see that the Board of CALGM will not come crawling on their knees to kiss his a.. ergh...ring.  If they did it would be tantamount to them agreeing their personal salvation is dependent on kicking those 'persons with a homosexual inclination' to the curb.   

I have to admit, I did not know, that as a Catholic I must now believe the official Catholic definition of gays and lesbians is 'persons with a homosexual inclination' and that I must no longer refer to 'persons with a homosexual inclination' as gay or lesbian.  My own 'personal inclination' is to burst out laughing at the stupidity of this mindset, but I can't help but remember it's this mindset that is in charge of our Catholic church and they seem to be 'persons with an inclination to abuse'.  Which is why from now on I am strongly tempted to refer to Roman Catholic Bishops by that definition: "persons with an inclination to abuse'.  It seems somehow, more truthful than calling these men shepherds.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Catholic Dialogue: A Long And Winding Road

Some of those crazy Franciscans who support the LCWR.  In spite of the religious apparel, I'm not sure these men are Bill Donohue's kind of Catholic.

An Op Ed piece in the NY Times by Bill Keller has been generating a lot of commentary today.  In this piece Keller basically agrees with Wild Bill Donohue that it's time progressive and centrist Catholics abandon ship.  The battle over the soul of the Church has been won by the righteous right and these winners will not tolerate the presence of the losers.  Wild Bill will gladly hold the door open for us as we exit.

In my own mind I actually see this split differently.  It is really a tussle between those who have a need to be validated and motivated by an external authority structure and those who have fought through that and operate from an internalized structure. The two don't necessarily wind up in different places as far as behaviors, but they most certainly present an entirely different attitude towards others and towards ones self.  One is based in absolute truths defined by an accepted authority, and one is based in process dynamics in which one moves towards the ideal and is motivated internally because they have validated the 'rightness' of a particular behavior in their own experience. 

This, it seems to me, is what Cardinal Levada may mean when he describes the dust up between the CDF and the LCWR as a potential 'dialogue with the deaf'.  Most members of the LCWR don't operate from a need for external validation concerning their faith and therefore don't have much need for the CDF.  The CDF, on the other hand, owes it's existence as the source of Catholic authority precisely for those who need external validation---unfortunately this includes most of it's own members.  The seeming indifference of the LCWR becomes a real threat precisely because it eats at the core reason for the CDF's existence.  

But more than that, if members of the LCWR, who are all women, have internalized their value system and Faith expression, this very trait undercuts the Vatican's teachings on sexual complimentarity, which in it's core language implies women need to account for themselves to eternal male authority.  I think it's this recognition on the part of the CDF which necessitated accusing the LCWR of 'radical feminism' amongst a list of other sexual disciplinary issues---because according to the theory of  gender complementarity,  it IS a form of radical feminism if women are answering to themselves or their own leadership rather than their male superiors.  In this sense, it is the very existence of the LCWR as a leadership conference and the independent thinking it represents, that is the real issue.  It undercuts so much of what Pope Benedict teaches about gender and sexuality.  Hence Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Sartain are going to great lengths to separate their criticism of the leadership organization from the vast majority of sisters it represents.  They seem to be saying it's the idea of independent female leadership that's at issue, not individual women who don't hold leadership positions.  The CMSWR is not at fault because their leadership is content to be a funnel for the words of wisdom cascading down from male leadership and they are quite willing to subordinate their leadership role to men.  

I suspect Cardinal Levada is correct, and this will be a dialogue of the deaf if the CDF and LCWR don't admit to the real issues and road blocks between them.  The male leadership of the Roman Catholic Church is demanding a true Catholic is one whose behavior is determined and whose salvation is procured by obeying and being rewarded by external authority--especially for Catholic women.  I call this the 'merit badge or military school' form of spirituality.  Uniforms and titles, ranked clerical dress, religious habits etc. are big issues for this mindset.  It's all external and has a lot of visual validation.  It's pretty far from the LCWR or Vatican II mindset which was all about internalizing Catholicism and living it reflexively because it was who you were--and it was not dependent on one's gender.  It was not something you had to think about much less wear like some merit badge which separated you from the sinful masses.

In the long run I don't think it will make much difference in the mission of LCWR congregations if the CDF decides to follow through on Cardinal Levada's veiled threats.  People will know the LCWR women exactly as Jesus told his followers they would be known, not by their uniforms or subservient female obedience, but by their love. 

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Is Fortnight For Freedom Just A Clever Strategy To Replace Individual Rights With Institutional Rule?

Tradition, Family and Property is another of those right wing Catholic groups who freely mix monarchical political philosophy with traditional Catholicism.

The most important reason I personally have trouble with the USCCB Fortnight for Freedom is the strategy the bishops are using to promote this campaign.  It seems to me that they are attempting to twist guarantees for individual human rights and freedoms away from the individual towards an understanding that places the institutional rights above the individual.  I don't find this all that surprising since the exact same strategy is mirrored when corporations or political Super Pacs argue for their own collective rights on similar reasoning.  This is one reason I find the US Supreme Court decision in the Citizen's United case abhorrent.  Institutions, religious or not, and corporations are not individuals and do not have 'consciences'.  It is frightening that they are in some cases arguing successfully that they are individuals, and that the USCCB is taking this further and insisting they do have consciences.  Individual rights are getting steam rolled in this process.

Religion Dispatches has an article about the just recently held World Congress of Families in Madrid, Spain. Written by Gillian Kane, this article expands on my own thinking, drawing similar conclusions.  This clever campaign is purposely designed to decrease individual rights in favor of institutional rights when it comes to the issues of sex and gender.  This is seen in the novel, but powerful idea, that 'traditional rights' supersede 'new' individual rights centered in sexual reproduction for women and children:

One concern undergirding the varied topics covered by the speakers was that the protection of individual rights (youth rights, gay rights, reproductive rights) was taking place at the expense of “fundamental” religious, cultural, and parental rights. The idea of Christian persecution, or Christianophobia, was echoed throughout and the human rights framework was frequently misappropriated to serve the needs of a given speaker. Human rights were oppressive when they protected reproductive and gender rights (or “new” rights), whereas, when it came to protecting “traditional” rights to freedom of religion and speech, they were suddenly fundamental. New rights, they argued, cannot supersede traditional human rights. When they do, these rights violations must be redressed. (These 'traditional' rights are not human rights, they are patriarchal rights.)
This very argument is being used in the debate over the Obama health care reform law, one of the main objections to which is access to reproductive health care. Lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the mandate, however, do not directly confront abortion and contraception, but are based on the purported violation of the First Amendment. Stand Up For Religious Freedom, one of the lead networks agitating against health care reform, explicitly states that: “the American ideal of religious liberty is at stake. This isn’t really about contraception—it’s about the First Amendment.”

If readers take the time to read the linked article, they will find familiar names pop up on the Catholic side of this issue.  The Ave Maria Law School created by Tom Monoghan features prominently. Another familiar legal group is the Alliance Defense Fund, whose creators were the big evangelical names of the moral majority, but whose major contributors include Edgar and Elsa Prince Foundation--(Eric Prince ring any bells?), An allied legal group is the Thomas More Law Center, and finally,  the Tradition, Family, and Property group whose members seem to think society could use a good dose of rule by a benevolent Catholic elite who can own as much of the world as they want.

It would be easy to dismiss all of this as far right agitation from groups who are totally disconnected from modern reality, but that is a mistake.  These groups feel disenfranchised from modern reality more so than disconnected, and they are backed by some of the world's most powerful political and religious organizations, and funded by very wealthy individuals.  This is far from a joke.  It's a very well organized attempt to dominate global politics by using secular argumentation against itself and providing specific targets for the generalized fear permeating global societies.  We should all be taking this very very seriously if we care about individual rights and representative democracy.  Religious Freedom can not become an excuse to exterminate individual rights because that path leads to precisely what we have in the Roman Catholic hierarchy,  a closed leadership structure which considers itself above any meaningful accountability to any outside authority.  That would not be good.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Some Strong Words From Sr Joan Chittister, Plus Cardinal Levada On....Product Identity?

According to Cardinal Levada, Sr Joan is one of those LCWR types which is not on board with his version of  CDF 'product identity'.

I came across this interview with Sr Joan Chittister on Huffington Post in an article written by Paul Brandeis Raushenbush. Mr Raushenbush has been mentored by Sr Joan and also worked and studied with other LCWR members at Union Theological Seminary. His view of the LCWR/CDF clash  is uniquely informative since his is a protestant perspective.  Sr Joan pulls no punches, but then when  a person reaches a certain age in life, it's kind of pointless to beat around the bush.

On the CDF side of things, Cardinal Levada gave a rather aggressive and none to flattering assessment to NCR's John Allen after Tuesday's meeting at the Vatican with LCWR leaders Sr Janet Mock and Sr Pat Farrell.  There was something about 'dialogue of the deaf', Bernie Law not being involved at all, irritation that Fr Charles Curran had been a speaker and the Barbara Marx Hubbard was to be this year, and this observational gem: ""Too many people crossing the LCWR screen, who are supposedly representing the Catholic church, aren't representing the church with any reasonable sense of product identity," Levada said. Hmm product identity?  He also more or less stated the LCWR could easily be replaced by some other Vatican appointed umbrella organization and that should the LCWR incorporate under secular law the Vatican would have nothing to do with them.  All in all his assessment was not a particularly believable presentation of the Vatican's willingness to dialogue. Unless dialogue means we tell you what your product identity is and they you go sell it.  Anyway here's Sr Joan.

So what is this all about Sister Joan?
"Well it is a hostile take over, there's no doubt about that. They're 'cleaning up the church' -- everything but themselves." (touche')

One of the speculations is that the crackdown has its roots in the nun's support for President Obama's health care bill.
I don't know about that for sure, but it seems like it may have been a turning point. It [the nun's position] was a model of thinking Catholic, thinking through this thing and coming up with another approach. There are other ways to impact the issue you care about.
Part of it, whether they know it or not, is a strong demonstration of the whole male/female aspect of every question. Sit down and shut up. Daddy knows best. We will tell you what to think, we will tell you what to do -- what would a woman know? (Really, what would a woman know about the female reproductive system if men didn't tell us?)

How are the Sisters are holding up?
There is prayer and fasting going on for the sake of the LCWA officers. We want to give them all the support we can. The sisters are mightily concerned, but they know there is no substance to these accusations. For instance, to talk about radical feminism when you don't have a clue as to what it is -- it is very embarrassing. Because the people who do know what it is sit back and say What?. It's bizarre.

There is a serious power play going on. It seems like they could take over.
Yes. Theoretically they can do it. If you were ranking the departments of the Curia, the CDF would be the ultimate department -- from which there is no official appeal.
No doubt that it is serious, but it's also putting people in a corner that nobody should. And not these people [in CDF]. And the lay people know that. If there is integrity left in this church it is in the people who are ministry on the streets.

Which are the nuns.
Yes. (Not just the nuns, there are good priests, good brothers, and whole lot of good laity.)

Say this plays out -- do you ever think about leaving the church?
I don't seek to do that, I'm a Catholic, born and bred, I have learned that the tradition and the institution have often been at odds in the history of the Catholic Church.
The church has always converted slowly. The last time their sins were pointed out it took them 400 years to say that Martin Luther was right and that they shouldn't have been selling relics and that maybe people could read the scriptures in their own language and read the word of Jesus themselves.
It was the same thing. 'We tell you what to think about scriptures, because you will destroy the sacred word. You won't understand it. You'll destroy it.' We got through that. God willing we will get through this.
My fear is not the people who organize to leave the church, it is the amount of disillusionment and depression that is out there because of the church itself.
Everybody talks about how the Pope wants a smaller, purer church. Well, they talked about that in the 16th century. And they got it -- they lost half of Europe. Now they are losing Ireland, Austria, the American church is teetering. You have people who love their faith but cannot support these acts by the institution.

What happened to Vatican II?
Good question, somebody hijacked it when we weren't looking. Maybe this is the moment that we all decide what happened to Vatican II. Clearly there is an element of the institution that wants Vatican II destroyed, eliminated. That's because it makes the whole church, the church. For the very first time in history, Vatican II made being laity a vocation, and the laity have taken that seriously. So they are standing up in the streets to say what the church needs to study and make a decision

It's tricky, I'm a Protestant writing about this because I feel so strongly about supporting my mentors, but many will criticize me because I am not Catholic.
We are all Christians in this together, what happens to this church does affect you as a Christian. It will affect the way others see Christians around the world. We are not in this alone The laity are being very clear about that, not just because they have loved Sisters or see the work they are doing, because they know that this is damaging the church.
The whole notion that you would suppress thought and call that Catholic, call that Christian, call that a witness to adult ministry in an adult world is impossible to compute. Write this as a Christian. Don't absent yourself here, I need you.

Well, a lot of us are concerned and not sure what to do when someone holds all the trump cards.
Oh, there is no doubt about it; people may be destroyed here. And there may be people who want them destroyed. They either want thinking adults in the church who bring their own experience of the Holy Spirit to every question -- with great respect for the institution, ironically, or they don't. (It's kind of obvious they don't want independent thinking adults of any sort-lay, religious, or clerical.)

I assume you saw the critique on Sister Margaret Fawley's book?
Oh, I can't tell you what that did to me. But that woman is so bright, and so precise. Her responses are superb; she said: "I never said I was producing Catholic doctrine. I'm a theologian, thinking through these issues. "
When you want to make all your thinkers parrots, puppets, don't talk to me about your respect for the Holy Spirit.


I think it would be worth watching if Sr Joan Chittister debated Cardinal Levada.  Neither one pulls any punches or shirks in their defense of their own positions. We'd need a good moderator though, someone who could keep the debate fair and entertaining.  Maybe Stephen Colbert, ...well, maybe not.  Anyway, doesn't look like there is going to be much dialogue unless Archbishop Sartain goes a little rogue and a little outside the product identity plan of Cardinal Levada and the prayers and fasting of the LCWR shakes up a whole lot of spirit.  In the meantime, the CDF may rue the day the riled up the American laity, because Sr Joan is quite right about this, there is a lot of "disillusionment and depression that is out there because of the church itself".

Fortnight For Freedom? How About A Fortnight For Truth

Cardinal Dolan, the President of the USCCB, needs to explain why his policy in Milwaukee was no money for victims, but somehow money to bribe their clerical abusers and dig up dirt on victims.

The USCCB is set to meet tomorrow and most articles are concerned with the abuse scandal and the USCCB response or the LCWR investigation or the trumped up Fortnight for Freedom campaign.  I'm actually more interested in hearing from the President of the USCCB, Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  I want to know his justification for paying off known clerical abusers rather than turning them in to police.  I want to know why he thought Canonical laicization was more important than criminal law.  I also want to know how the USCCB can keep electing for their president men who are known to have protected abusers after the Dallas Charter went into effect.  Why do our bishops do this?  It sends an abysmal statement about them as moral men and about the bankruptcy and hypocrisy of their leadership.

The following excerpt of an article on Huffington Post from Michele Somerville asks these same kinds of questions.  In it she gives some theories as to why Catholic laity accept this kind of dismal behavior from our leadership.  The excerpt starts about half way through the article with one of those theories--the kind that appeal to Bill Donohue and is relied on by the Cardinal George's and Timothy Dolan's to excuse their otherwise inexcusable behavior.

Cardinal Dolan Has a Lot of Explaining to Do

........Some Catholics (an orthodox fringe) still hold the belief that because the church is saving souls from the eternal fires of Hell, there is no earthly cost too high to pay to keep the Magisterium propped up; the ends justify the means. In a church that so venerates its martyrs, the notion of sacrificing children in order that the world should obtain redemption isn't all that much of a theological reach. (Of course this doesn't apply to the preborn only the born.)

But rare is the mother who does not cast a cold eye on those who violate her children, and Mother Church is really no exception.

The great majority of Roman Catholics believe unequivocally, that in every case, an adult who has sex with a child must be reported to the police. They may agree on little else, but with the exception of a tiny, hysterical segment of "orthodox Roman Catholics" who believe otherwise, almost all Roman Catholics agree that when it comes the rape of children, there should be Zero Tolerance.

A bishop who defrocks a priest credibly accused of a sex crime as an alternative to reporting a him to the civil authorities makes himself an accessory to that crime. (Yes he does and complicit in any future crimes committed by that priest--laicized or not.)

Timothy Dolan could face a lot of heat in the coming months. The New York Times obtained court papers that indicate Dolan authorized payment for digging up dirt on victims for the legal defense of a priest accused of sex crimes. The pedophilia scandal bankrupted (his former) the Milwaukee diocese. He has been credibly accused of hiding $130 million to protect it from being seized for settlements to victims. Yet his Milwaukee diocese was apparently flush enough to allow for payoffs to men who committed sex crimes against children.

It appears that the United States' top bishop may have seen laicization of pedophile priests as an acceptable alternative to reporting these predators to law enforcement agencies. If Dolan did fail to report such crimes, he could still face child endangerment and obstruction of justice charges down the line. If the Milwaukee diocese was tax exempt at the time these bribes were offered -- if Dolan moved money around in secrecy while covering up a pattern of sex crime involving children -- it is conceivable that Dolan could be charged under RICO.

Did Timothy Dolan physically harm children himself? No. But it appears he may have "looked the other way." I hope (we) Catholics won't look the other way. If we do, we too are culpable.

As Dolan, his advisors, flak catchers and apologists wait for reports pertaining to his alleged payoffs to priests who violated children to just go away, the bigger question might be whether the "long arm of the law" can stay away.

If that long arm does aim to reach out to tap Cardinal Dolan on the shoulder so as to ask a few questions, it had best reach swiftly. It's way too soon to think of Dolan as a flight risk, but the Vatican is only seven hours away, and once ensconced in La Citta Vaticana, the pope's man in "Sin City" would never again have to explain a thing.  (We've seen this already with Bernie Law, may see it with Cardinal Rigalli, and residences in Rome have been very useful for Cardinals Burke and Levada.)

Not in this life, at least.


One of the points being brought out in other articles on this upcoming USCCB meeting is the necessity to add some sort of accountability for Bishops in the Dallas Charter.  I agree whole heartedly with this sentiment, and it's been my one over arching complaint about the Dallas Charter since it's inception.  Lack of accountability for bishops utterly destroys the validity of the whole Charter.  We've seen that repeatedly come to the forefront in the last ten years. It's why I think Cardinal Dolan needs to be confronted because he appears to have violated the Charter while simultaneously making a mockery of the Canonical judicial process for accused priests.  How much is the Sacrament of Ordinaiton worth?  Apparently 20,000 dollars.

I had a tough time dealing with Cardinal George as the head of the USCCB but following him up with Cardinal Dolan makes a mockery of the whole Dallas Charter.  Actually, Cardinal Dolan is making a mockery of the whole idea of an Archbishop. Here I'm thinking of using his blog as a platform for Bully Bill, using Archdiocesan money to 'dig up dirt' on abuse victims, secreting 130 million in a cemetery trust to avoid paying abuse victims, and now the bribes to known abusers to leave the priesthood, and this undoubtedly to get them off Archdiocesan roles and avoid more abuse settlements.  Archbishop Weakland should have been so clever.  He made the mistake of trying to get the Vatican to expedite the laicization of some of these guys and here all along all he had to do was bribe the offending priests. He could have saved the money he wasted in Vatican City arguing his case with Cardinal Bertone.  But of course, both Weakland and Dolan failed to inform police.  Which is the bottom line.  It doesn't matter what side of theological spectrum, these bishops will be bishops, they will close ranks,  and they will protect their own.  

What the USCCB really needs, is not a glad handing republican political operative for a president, but one honest man who can rally his silent brother bishops and end this entire travesty.  The Vatican can't fire them all because the Vatican is having trouble finding men who even want their jobs.  They have the power to walk outside the closed circle, the question is do they have the courage?

Monday, June 11, 2012

The Vatican And The LCWR: Is The Gap In Understanding Too Wide?

Tomorrow members of the LCWR leadership council meet in Rome with Cardinal Levada and Archbishop Sartain and the Vatican hopes to seek 'reciprocal understanding'.  I guess that's a start, but I just don't see how this is going to come about when the two sides have such different understanding of what is real in Catholicism and how Christ should be presented to the world. Or, to use the Vatican buzz word, 'evangelized.  Here are two articles which for me underscore this difference in world view.  The first is from Vatican Insider and recounts Pope Benedict's thoughts on the recent Italian earthquakes plus his views on Eucharistic Adoration.  The second is from the Oxford University Press blog and is the work of an Oxford scholar, Carole Garibaldi Rogers, who chronicles the lives of LCWR nuns. A kudo to TheraP for bringing this link to my attention.

Pope feels moved at today’s Angelus: “Jesus is also under the rubble”

Vatican Insider - 6/10/2012
During the Sunday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope spoke about the recent earthquake in northern Italy and recalled how “the Eucharistic Body of Christ, in the tabernacles, has also remained in certain cases under the rubble”

Today, Benedict XVI recalled “with emotion" the population of northern Italy hit by the “recent earthquake”, sparing a special thought for “the numerous churches which have been severely damaged.” He also stressed the fact that “the Eucharistic Body of Christ, in the tabernacles, has also remained in certain cases under the rubble.”

The Pope remembered the people and communities affected by the earthquake in Italy’s Emilia Romagna region, “with affection.” He “thanked” Christians “for all that they are doing for the benefit of the entire population” and invited faithful to be “more and more united in the name of the Lord”: from the sharing of the Eucharist “comes the ability to share life and assets, and to bear each other’s burdens.”

During the Angelus, Benedict XVI proposed again a reflection on the Eucharistic mystery for Christians and the value of “adoration”, drawing on what he had said last Thursday when he celebrated a mass for the Corpus Domini, on the steps of Rome's Cathedral Basilica of St. John Lateran.

“Today, Italy and many other countries celebrate the Corpus Domini, that is, the solemn feast of the Body and Blood of the Lord, the Eucharist,” the Pope said. On this day, it is a lively tradition to hold solemn processions through streets and squares with the Holy Sacrament. In Rome, this procession already took place on a diocesan level last Thursday, the day of the feast’s anniversary. Every year, the Corpus Domini renews Christian joy and gratitude for the Jesus’ Eucharistic presence among them.”

“The solemnity of the Body and Blood of the Lord - he explained – reminds us of the value of Eucharistic adoration. The Servant of God, Paul VI recalled that the Catholic Church professes the worship of the Eucharist, “both during Mass and outside of it, by taking the greatest possible care of consecrated Hosts, by exposing them to the solemn veneration of the faithful, and by carrying them about in processions to the joy of great numbers of the people.”


Here's the second article which I've edited, skipping the introduction to the LCWR investigation since readers of this blog are quite familiar with the investigation itself.  This story represents a very different view of Church. It's the Church of the People of God, not the clerical Church of Jesus in the Tabernacle.

So who are these women who stand in the eye of the storm? 

Meet Sister Rosemarie Milazzo, a Maryknoll Sister whom I first interviewed in 1992. She had just come home from 20 years in the missions of rural Kenya. Eighteen years later, when I returned to the Maryknoll motherhouse, Sister Rosemarie, then 77, had been again to Africa — Tanzania and most recently Congo, serving on a Christian Peacemaker Team:

“It was my first time in a war zone. And I’m with a peace team, whose goal is to get in the way of the violence with nonviolent methods. That was very new for me. The first thing I saw were the United Nations tanks and huge, huge truckloads of armed soldiers. The weapon of war there is rape, definitely the weapon is rape. There’s a whole lot of shooting and killing but wherever we went, women told a story of rape. Every place we went, we talked to the people. The women can’t go fetch firewood. They can’t go to fetch water. They are in danger whenever they leave. 

“We worked with Synergie in Eastern Congo, which is a women’s group that works with rape victims. They were finally able to convince one woman to go to court to tell what happened to her. She needed a place to stay because she lived way out in the village, and two women said, ‘We have room in our house. You can stay with us.’ Shortly after that, the two women were killed.

“I can’t just be a stranger doing a job in a place. In Congo, I got to know my neighbors very well. I found myself going to visit families. [The militia groups] started to target university students, and so at one of our neighbors, a young man was home studying, and he was shot in front of his family. It was a terrible time. I got there, and I looked at this child on the floor, and I thought, ‘What is this that our children can’t grow up?’ Well, I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed. I could not say one word to those people. And then I left. A few days later they came to get me, and they said, ‘Come here, come here. We want to tell these people who you are.’ And I said, ‘For what?’ And they said, ‘This is the one who cried with us.’ 

“That’s the cost of relationships. You’re into their lives. They’re into your life. We enter into the pain of people, and I guess for me it’s become more the pain of the world. It’s so deep. There are so many trouble spots and there are so many people who don’t get a share at the table. I hope my prayers are deeper. I hope my walking on this earth is gentler and more caring and more compassionate. I also feel that I have met the people and they’ve told me their story. So what is now my responsibility?”


I am curious to see how Archbishop Sartain and Cardinal Levada are going to understand the view of Church and the People of God the LCWR understands.  These are men whose Pope is as concerned about Hosts in tabernacles under earthquake rubble than the people under rubble. I can't imagine for the life of me that someone who has lost a loved one in an earthquake is going to be comforted by the Pope's statement on 'Jesus in the rubble'.  For me Jesus is more incarnate in the people in the rubble, which is something Sister Milazzo has experienced first hand in all it's devastation. "What is this that our children can't grow up?"  And I said, 'For what?" And they said, "This is the one who cried with us."

How does one bridge the gap between abstract triumphal clericalism and Christ centered practical compassion?  I guess it's going to be up to the LCWR to figure that out, because I don't think the clerical mindset is capable of even seeing the need to bridge the gap.  Good luck ladies.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Men Behaving Badly: More Finger Pointing From The Vatican's Bankers

The keys to this kingdom may be in the 47 binders of material the Italian Police found in Ettore Gotti Tedeschi's home.

 The Guardian posted an interesting article on some of the repercussions of the dismissal of the CEO of the Vatican Bank, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi.  The article is based on 'leaks' which are obviously intended to further destroy the credibility of Tedeschi in an attempt to make him look mentally unhinged.  I guess we're supposed to overlook the fact these 'leaks' correspond with some potentially disastrous financial material found in Tedeschi's home when it was searched for evidence in an unrelated Italian financial mess.  Again this all reminds me of the old Soviet days, when potential whistle blowers were viciously discredited before they could blow their whistles--assuming they weren't dispatched some other way.  When it comes to the Vatican Bank it might just be Gotti Tedeschi has a whole woodwind section rather than just a whistle to blow. The following is edited for length:

The ousted head of the Vatican bank came under a withering counter-attack at the weekend as his former top official accused him of negligence and leaked documents were published casting doubt on his mental health.
The Vatican meanwhile warned Italian prosecutors against using information in papers seized last week from the bank's ex-president, saying it may be covered by the Holy See's "sovereign prerogatives". (These prerogatives apparently include the right to conduct criminal activity unimpeded by international secular law.)

The financier was last week reported to have prepared a series of dossiers to be sent to named individuals in the event of his sudden death. According to an Italian prosecutor, Gotti Tedeschi has said his problems at the bank started after he demanded to see "information about accounts that were not in the church's name".
But his former general manager, Paolo Cipriani, said in an interview published on Sunday that there were no numbered accounts at the Vatican bank and the only Italians, apart from priests, monks and nuns, who banked with the IOR were lay employees or pensioners of the Holy See..... (The trouble with this bit of 'truth' is that in the Banco Ambrosiano scandal of the early 80's, it was found that priests sold their access to the Vatican Bank to the highest bidders.)

......Aspersions were also cast on the ousted banker by a psychotherapist who advises the IOR on the welfare of its employees. After observing Gotti Tedeschi's behaviour at last year's Vatican bank Christmas party, Dr Pietro La Salvia wrote a report – published in the daily Il Fatto Quotidiano – which the paper said was handed to Benedict's right-hand man, secretary of state Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.
The report said that the banker displayed "traits of egocentricity, narcissism and a partial disconnection from reality that could be a psychopathological dysfunction"..... (I know of no reputable psychotherapist who would make a diagnosis on the basis of the behavior exhibited at a company Christmas party.  His description of Gotti Tedeschi describes most people who have one too many glasses of Christmas cheer.)

......Carl Anderson, the head of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic lay fellowship, said: "His occasional communications with me are focused not on the life of the institute but on internal political manoeuvring and on denigrating others."
The vice-president of the board, Ronaldo Schmitz, a former executive director of Deutsche Bank, also wrote to the secretary of state just before the meeting at which Gotti Tedeschi was fired to say that he would resign if the then president were not removed...

..... An independent watchdog was set up in 2010, but its charter was changed, prompting claims that some in the Vatican were less than keen on full transparency. (Hey, Carl Anderson:  This kind of thing is known as political maneuvering.)


The following excerpt from the Daily Beast by Barbie Latza Nadeau gives a pretty good picture of what Italian sources think Mr. Tedeschi had in his house,  that Italian police now have,  and that is causing all the angst and disinformation spewing forth from the Vatican and the Vatican Bank:
......What they are reportedly worried about is a secret dossier that Gotti Tedeschi told friends he compiled “just in case something happens to me.” Local press reports say the dossier includes 47 different binders with emails from the pope, letters from cardinals, and notes and reports from various meetings tied to Vatican bank business. He had reportedly planned to deliver the dossier directly to Pope Benedict XVI, presumably as a counterargument to his May 24 firing. The cache reportedly contains irrefutable evidence that could substantiate claims that the IOR is involved in money laundering and tax-evasive practices. There were documents that allegedly show financial transactions between the Vatican and a number of surprising characters, including politicians and known middlemen for mafia bosses. If true, it would give Italian authorities a rare opening to investigate the Vatican’s banking practices with names, account numbers, and transaction dates of dealings with financial entities outside the Vatican’s historically secretive jurisdiction.

In 2010, Gotti Tedeschi and IOR general manager Paolo Cipriani were placed under criminal investigation by authorities in Rome on suspicion of alleged money laundering for shady transactions between the Vatican’s bank accounts. More than €23 million was frozen and later released after the Vatican allegedly cleansed itself by passing anti-fraud legislation. Gotti Tedeschi’s dossier reportedly also included a list of enemies who might want to harm him, including Cipriani, who is still under criminal investigation in the Italian judicial system from the 2010 affair. The Italian police are taking the banker’s enemy list seriously and are considering providing him with police protection.

Here we are again thirty years after the Banco Ambrosiano scandal and nothing seems to have changed except the names, and maybe one other thing.  Back in 1982 Archbishop Marcinkus, who more or less had Gotti Tedeschi's position,  stonewalled, refused to cooperate, and was protected by the Vatican and JPII. Eventually the Vatican coughed up some 240 million dollars to refund investors who lost money through the machinations of Roberto Calvi with a great deal of help from the Vatican Bank.  JPII accepted no responsibility when he mysteriously came up with all that money.  This time around it looks like the just deposed head of the Vatican Bank was not about to go the way of Roberto Calvi, and since he didn't enjoy the Vatican protection of Archbishop Marcinkus,  he was going to make sure he had some insurance.  Not the KofC kind I might add. 

This is almost too surreal for words.  I doubt very much Italian authorities are going to turn over those 47 binders of material, but even if they do, I'm sure somewhere there is memory stick with all that material encoded.  These are not auspicious days for the Vatican of Pope Benedict XVI.  In some ways his papacy is going to be defined by his predecessor's penchant for playing political games with money from organized crime and various intelligence agencies and that is not going to result in the kind of legacy Pope Benedict probably has in mind.  I have very little sympathy since as Cardinal Ratzinger he was up to his neck in promoting the cultural aspects of JPII"s political games and apparently never could be bothered to look at the morality of how all those games were financed.  It's all coming home to roost now and just in the nick of time as far as the Church's future is concerned.

For those who desire more information on the 1982 scandal and all it's convolutions this link will take you to a pretty well done synopsis of the major players,  and all their connections with intelligence agencies, fascist regimes, Italian financial and political leaders, organized crime, and even Masonic lodges and Opus Dei. It's somewhat long and was written in 1999 but the information is as current as it gets---until now that is.

Hans Kung On Benedict The Schismatic Pope

Archbishop Fellay of SSPX has plenty of reason to smile, given that Pope Benedict has come so far in their direction that Hans Kung thinks Benedict is the schismatic.

Swiss theologian Hans Kung has denounced Pope Benedict as a schismatic pope if the Pope follows through on his invitation to SSPX---and he's using traditional argumentation for his point of view.  I don't know if Benedict would make himself a schismatic pope if the SSPX are taken back in the arms of the Church, but I know for certain he would be a first class hypocrite.  This is especially true since Archbishop Fellay has recently stated that Benedict is taking Catholicism to the SSPX position and rectifying the schismatic teaching of Vatican II.  In Fellay's view, SSPX is not conceding anything, Pope Benedict is conceding everything.  The following article by Andrea Tornielli is from Vatican Inisider.  I have edited a few things by using parenthesis because I think the English translation is a tad bit garbled.  Not unusual on Vatican Insider.

Hans Küng claims Pope is provoking disobedience

Andrea Tornielli - Vatican Insider - 6/9/2012
The dissenter theologian says he will hold Benedict XVI responsible for the schism that would be created if he signs an agreement with the Lefebvrians

The Pope has been calling for unity since the beginning of his Pontificate and in the last Chrism Mass he dealt with the issue of the disobedience of Austrian priests belonging to the Pfarrer-Initiative movement. And yet it is Benedict XVI himself who is being accused by his lifelong dissenting colleague, Hans Küng, of “provoking” disobedience. Küng goes as far as to call the Pope “schismatic” if he goes ahead and gives canonical recognition to the Society of St. Pius X, founded by Mgr. Lefebvre.

Küng’s harsh accusation was recently published in German newspaper Südwestpresse. He writes that preparations for the “final recognition” of the Lefebvrians (which he wrongly predicted would take place by Pentecost) are already underway and that recognition would be granted “even at the cost of integrating them into the Church using canonical subterfuge.” He recalled that the members of the Fraternity “continue to reject fundamental documents of the Council.”  (Archbishop Fellay is saying this will most likely occur in July and be issued from Castel Gondolfo.)

Küng claims that “The Pope would be definitively including in the Church bishops and priests that are invalidly ordained.” The Swiss theologian backed up his claim by referring to the Apostolic Constitution of Paul VI Pontificalis Romani Recognitio of 18 July 1968 and the positions of an “influential member of the Ecclesia Dei Commission, Karl Josef Becker SI, currently a cardinal.” In truth, while everyone agrees about the fact that the priestly and Episcopal ordinations carried out by Lefebvre after his suspension a divinis and his excommunication in 1988 are “illicit”, practically no one expressed any serious doubts over their “validity”: the ordinations were celebrated by a bishop who was in apostolic succession and according to the rite used by the Catholic Church up until the post-conciliar liturgical reform.

But Küng goes further, inaugurating a sort of potential liberal “sedevacantism”. According to Küng, by welcoming the Lefebvrians, the Pope “would distance himself further from the people of God.” Küng writes that Benedict XVI should remember that “there is a schism in the Church when one separates themselves from the Pope, but also when one separates themselves from the entire Church body.” “According to canonical doctrine, a schismatic pope - the Swiss theologian writes - loses his ministry and can certainly expect (dis)obedience. As such, Pope Benedict XVI would encourage the “disobedience” movement - which is on the rise everywhere – as opposed to a hierarchy that shows disobedience to the Gospel. He would be exclusively responsible for the serious discord and quarrels that he would bring into the Church” by accepting the Lefebvrians.

“Instead of reconciliating the ultraconservative, ultra-(un)democratic and anti-Semitic Society of St. Pius X with the Catholic Church - Küng concludes – the Pope should focus on the majority of Catholics who are ready for reform and reconciliation with the reformed Churches: by doing so he would unite and not separate.”

This tough accusation is a first for Hans Küng, who has never before attacked the Pope using traditional arguments. In so doing he introduces a liberal form of “sedevacantism”, using the same arguments used by the traditionalist anti-conciliar sedevacantists, but reversed.


Hans Kung articulates my own thoughts on this pending reunification.  How can the Vatican accept into the ranks of the Church a sect that denies the validity of Vatican II over doctrinal issues, who has not given one inch on their dissent after years of dialogue and negotiations,  while at the same time attacking the LCWR over other doctrinal issues without any dialogue, and directly taking over their leadership.  This does appear to be a double standard of epic proportions.  

If readers follow the link and read Archbishop Fellay's interview it's hard not to be struck with how utterly entitled Fellay comes across.  Fellay makes no bones about his belief that Benedict is taking Roman Catholicism in the SSPX direction as preparation for utterly repudiating Vatican II, especially Vatican II notions of priesthood.  In Fellay's opinion this is why Benedict needs all the SSPX traditionalist priests so that we laity who have gotten too big for our lay britches will give up our silly notions of any kind of priestly status. This apparently would include those lay women otherwise known as consecrated religious and who belong to LCWR congregations.  Women, in the 'reformed' Catholic Church of Latin, incense, and total male domination, won't have much of a role other than on their knees or in labor with child.

Hans Kung is certainly not out of line to state that Pope Benedict risks a whole lot more disobedience from the greater church if Benedict incorporates SSPX , and it will be precisely because in doing so Benedict will be affirming what Fellay states, the reform of the reform is just smoke and mirrors on the way to total repudiation of most of Vatican II. The other ironic thing to me is that in bringing back SSPX, Pope Benedict will be directly contradicting a ruling of his predecessor, something none of the popes in my lifetime would do when it came to birth control.  All of which says to me, the Roman Catholicism of Pope Benedict has stopped being about the Way of Jesus, and has become mired in defending it's antiquated sexual teachings as an adjunct to protecting it's priestly prerogatives and institutional wealth.  SSPX fits right in with that agenda. The LCWR does not.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Cardinal Ratzinger Made A Speech In 1989 That Has A Lot To Do With The Plans Of B16 In 2012

These two Popes had a plan all along, and in 2012 we will see if it bears fruit or blows up the Church in the West.

I've been meditating on Fr Sivalon's piece in the National Catholic Reporter about the upcoming Year of the Faith in which Sivalon writes that the big purge is coming to clean out the last of progressive thought in the Church. I came across this following speech that the then Cardinal Ratzinger gave during a meeting with CDF personnel and the Presidents of the European Doctrinal Commission. Cardinal Ratzinger gave the opening address which I reprint here in full. Keep in mind the year of this address is 1989. Twenty three years ago Cardinal Ratzinger was boldly stating where the Church was going in regards to cultural issues. In 2012 his war strategy is fully evolving.  The following was in pdf format so I'm not quite sure how it's going to look when posted.  I will be off to work and so won't be posting for a few days, but I really want to encourage readers of the blog to digest this rather dense and circuitous piece because it lays out exactly the strategy Herr Ratzinger intended to use and has used to keep gays and women in their place, and the priesthood in it's pristine Trentan form.

Retrieving the Tradition

• Joseph Ratzinger •
“We can give a meaningful answer to
the questions raised only if we . . . are
able to express the logic of the Faith in its
integrity, the good sense and reasonableness
of its view of reality and life.”

As bishops who bear responsibility for the faith of the Church in our
countries, we ask ourselves where especially do the difficulties lie
which people have with the faith today and how can we rightly
reply to them.

We need no extensive search in order to answer the first of
these questions. There exists something like a litany of objections to
the practice and teaching of the Church, and nowadays its regular
recitation has become like the performance of a duty for
progressive-thinking Catholics. We can ascertain the principal
elements of this litany: the rejection of the Church’s teaching about
contraception, which means the placing upon the same moral level
of every kind of means for the prevention of conception upon
whose application only individual “conscience” may decide; the
rejection of every form of “discrimination” as to homosexuality and
the consequent assertion of a moral equivalence for all forms of
sexual activity as long as they are motivated by “love” or at least do
not hurt anyone; the admission of the divorced who remarry to the
Church’s sacraments; and the ordination of women to the priesthood.
As we can see, there are quite different issues linked together
in this litany. The first two claims pertain to the field of sexual
morality; the second two to the Church’s sacramental order. A
closer look makes it clear, however, that these four issues, their
differences notwithstanding, are very much linked together. They
spring from one and the same vision of humanity within which
there operates a particular notion of human freedom. When this
background is borne in mind, it becomes evident that the litany of
objections goes even deeper than it appears at first glance.

What does this vision of humanity, upon which this litany
depends, look like on closer scrutiny? Its fundamental characteristics
are as diffuse as the claims which derive from it, and so it can be
easily traced. We find our starting point in the plausible assertion
that modern man would find it difficult to relate to the Church’s
traditional sexual morality. Instead, it is said, he has come to terms
with his sexuality in a differentiated and less confining way and thus
urges a revision of standards which are no longer acceptable in the
present circumstances, no matter how meaningful they may have
been under past historical conditions. The next step, then, consists
in showing how we today have finally discovered our rights and the
freedom of our conscience and how we are no longer prepared to
subordinate it to some external authority. Furthermore, it is now
time that the fundamental relationship between man and woman be
reordered, that outmoded role expectations be overturned and that
complete equality of opportunity be accorded women on all levels
and in all fields. The fact that the Church, as the particularly
conservative institution that she is, might not go along with this line
of thinking would certainly not be surprising. If the Church,
however, would wish to promote human freedom, then ultimately
she will be obliged to set aside the theological justification of old
social taboos, and the most timely and vital sign of such a desire at
the present moment would be her consent to the ordination of
women to the priesthood.

The roots of this opposition continue to emerge in various
forms and make it clear that what we are dealing with in our
imaginary but quite pointed litany is nothing less than a very
coherent reorientation.

Its key concepts present themselves in the words “conscience”
and “freedom,” which are supposed to confer the aura of
morality upon changed norms of behavior that at first glance would
be plainly labelled as a surrender of moral integrity, the simplifications
of a lax conscience.

No longer is conscience understood as that knowledge
which derives from a higher form of knowing. It is instead the
individual’s self-determination which may not be directed by
someone else, a determination by which each person decides for
himself what is moral in a given situation.

The concept “norm”—or what is even worse, the moral law
itself—takes on negative shades of dark intensity: an external rule
may supply models for direction but it can in no case serve as the
ultimate arbiter of one’s obligation. Where such thinking holds
sway, the relationship of man to his body necessarily changes too.
This change is described as a liberation, when compared to the
relationship obtaining until now, like an opening up to a freedom
long unknown. The body then comes to be considered as a
possession which a person can make use of in whatever way seems
to him most helpful in attaining “quality of life.” The body is
something that one has and that one uses. No longer does man
expect to receive a message from his bodiliness as to who he is and
what he should do, but definitely, on the basis of his reasonable
deliberations and with complete independence, he expects to do
with it as he wishes. In consequence, there is indeed no difference
whether the body be of the masculine or the feminine sex, the body
no longer expresses being at all, on the contrary, it has become a
piece of property. It may be that man’s temptation has always lain in
the direction of such control and the exploitation of goods. At its
roots, however, this way of thinking first became an actual possibility
through the fundamental separation—not a theoretical but a
practical and constantly practiced separation—of sexuality and
procreation. This separation was introduced with the pill and has
been brought to its culmination by genetic engineers so that man
can now “make” human beings in the laboratory. The material for
doing this has to be procured by actions deliberately carried out for
the sake of the planned results which no longer involve interpersonal
human bonds and decisions in any way. Indeed, where this kind of
thinking has been completely adopted, the difference between
homosexuality and heterosexuality as well as that between sexual
relations within or outside marriage have become unimportant.
Likewise divested of every metaphysical symbolism is the distinction
between man and woman, which is to be regarded as the product of
reinforced role expectations.

It would be interesting to follow in detail this revolutionary
vision about man which has appeared behind our rather haphazardly
concocted litany of objections to the Church’s teaching. Without a
doubt this will be one of the principal challenges for anthropological
reflection in coming years. This reflection will have to sort out
meticulously where quite meaningful corrections to traditional
notions appear and where there begins a truly fundamental opposition
to faith’s vision of man, an opposition that admits no possibility
of compromise but places squarely before us the alternative of
believing or not. Such reflection cannot be conducted in a context
which is more interested in discerning the questions which we have
to pose for ourselves today than in looking for the answers. Let us
leave off this dispute for now; our question instead must be, how
does it happen that values which presuppose such a background have
become current among Christians?

It has become quite evident at the present time that our
litany of objections does not turn upon a few isolated conflicts over
this or that sacramental practice in the Church, nor is it over the
extended application of this or that rule. Each of these controversies
rests upon a much more far-reaching change of “paradigms,” that is,
of the basic ideas of being and of human obligation. This is the case
even if only a small number of those who mouth the words of our
litany would be aware of the change involved.

They all breathe in, so to speak, the atmosphere of this
particular vision of man and the world which convinces them of the
plausibility of this one opinion while removing other views from
consideration. Who would not be for conscience and freedom and
against legalism and constraint? Who wishes to be put into the

position of defending taboos? If the questions are framed in this way,
the faith proclaimed by the Magisterium is already manoeuvred into
a hopeless position. It collapses all by itself because it loses its
plausibility according to the thought patterns of the modern world,
and is looked upon by progressive contemporaries as something that
has been long superseded.

We can then give a meaningful answer to the questions
raised, only if we do not permit ourselves to be drawn into the
battle over details and are able instead to express the logic of the
faith in its integrity, the good sense and reasonableness of its view of
reality and life. We can give a proper answer to the conflicts in
detail only if we keep all the relationships in view. It is their
disappearance which has robbed the Faith of its reasonableness.
In this context, I would like to list three areas within the
world-view of the Faith which have witnessed a certain kind of
reduction in the last centuries, a reduction which has been gradually
preparing the way for another “paradigm.”

1. In the first place, we have to point out the almost
complete disappearance of the doctrine on creation from theology.
As typical instances, we may cite two compendia of modern
theology in which the doctrine on creation is eliminated as part of
the content of the faith and is replaced by vague considerations from
existential philosophy, the 1973 edition of the ecumenical “Neues
Glaubensbuch” published by J. Feiner and L. Vischer, and the basic
catechetical work published in Paris in 1984, “La foi des
catholiques.” In a time when we are experiencing the agonizing of
creation against man’s work and when the question of the limits and
standards of creation upon our activity has become the central
problem of our ethical responsibility, this fact must appear quite
strange. Notwithstanding all this, it remains always a disagreeable
fact that “nature” should be viewed as a moral issue. An anxious and
unreasonable reaction against technology is also closely associated
with the inability to discern a spiritual message in the material world.
Nature still appears as an irrational form even while evincing
mathematical structures which we can study technically. That nature
has a mathematical intelligibility is to state the obvious, the assertion
that it also contains in itself a moral intelligibility, however, is
rejected as metaphysical fantasy. The demise of metaphysics goes
hand in hand with the displacement of the teaching on creation.

Their place has been taken by a philosophy of evolution (which I
would like to distinguish from the scientific hypothesis of evolution).
This philosophy intends to discard the laws of nature so that
the management of its development may make a better life possible.
Nature, which ought really to be the teacher along this path, is
instead a blind mistress, combining by unwitting chance what man
is supposed to simulate now with full consciousness. His relationship
to nature (which is, to be sure, no creation) remains that of one who
acts upon it; it is in no way that of a learner. It persists as a relationship
of domination, then, resting upon the presumption that rational
calculation may be as clever as “evolution” and can therefore lift the
world to new heights. The process of development up to this point
had to struggle along without human intervention.

Conscience, to which appeal is made, is essentially mute, just
as nature, the teacher, is blind, it just computes which action holds
the best chances for betterment. This can (and should, according to
the logic of the point of departure) occur in a collective way, for
what is needed is a party which, as the vanguard of history, takes
evolution in hand while exacting the absolute subordination of the
individual to it. Otherwise, things occur individualistically and
conscience then becomes the expression of the subject’s autonomy
which, in terms of the grand world picture, can only seem absurd

It is quite obvious that none of these solutions is helpful, and
this is the basis for the deep desperation of mankind today, a
desperation which hides behind an official façade of optimism.
Nevertheless there is still a silent awareness of the need of an
alternative to lead us out of the blind alleys of our plausibilities, and
perhaps there is also, more than we think, a silent hope that a
renewed Christianity may supply the alternative. This can be
accomplished, however, only if the teaching on creation is developed
anew. Such an undertaking, then, ought to be regarded as one
of the most pressing tasks of theology today.

We have to make evident once more what is meant by the
world’s having been created “in wisdom” and that God’s creative act
is something quite other than the “bang” of a primeval explosion.
Only then can conscience and norm enter again into proper
relationship. For then it will become clear that conscience is not
some individualistic (or collective) calculation; rather it is a “consciens,”
a “knowing along with” creation and, through creation,
with God the Creator. Then, too, it will be rediscovered that man’s
greatness does not lie in the miserable autonomy of proclaiming
himself his one and only master, but in the fact that his being allows
the highest wisdom, truth itself, to shine through. Then it will
become clear that man is so much the greater the more he is capable
of hearing the profound message of creation, the message of the
Creator. And then it will be apparent how harmony with creation,
whose wisdom becomes our norm, does not mean a limitation upon
our freedom but is rather an expression of our reason and our
dignity. Then the body also is given its due honor: it is no longer
something “used,” but is the temple of authentic human dignity
because it is God’s handiwork in the world. Then is the equal
dignity of man and woman made manifest precisely in the fact that
they are different. One will then begin to understand once again that
their bodiliness reaches the metaphysical depths and is the basis of a
symbolic metaphysics whose denial or neglect does not ennoble man
but destroys him.

2. The decline of the doctrine on creation includes the
decline of metaphysics, man’s imprisonment in the empirical, as we
have said. When this occurs, however, there is also of necessity a
weakening of Christology. The Word who was in the beginning
quite disappears. Creative wisdom is no longer a theme for reflection.
Inevitably the figure of Jesus Christ, deprived of its metaphysical
dimension, is reduced to a purely historical Jesus, to an “empirical”
Jesus, who, like every empirical fact, contains only what is
capable of happening. The central title of his dignity, “Son,”
becomes void where the path to the metaphysical is cut off. Even
this title becomes meaningless since there is no longer a theology of
being sons of God, for it is replaced by the notion of autonomy.
The relationship of Jesus with God is now expressed in terms
such as “representative” or the like, but as regards what this means,
one must seek an answer by the reconstruction of the “historical

There are today two principal models for the alleged figure
of the historical Jesus: the bourgeois-liberal and the Marxist revolutionary.
Jesus was either the herald of a liberal morality,
struggling against every kind of “legalism” and its representatives; or
he was a subversive who can be considered as the deification of the
class struggle and its religious symbolic figure.

Evident in the background are the two aspects of the
modern notion of freedom, which are seen embodied in Jesus; this
is what makes him God’s representative. The unmistakable symptom
of the present decline of Christology is the disappearance of the
Cross and, consequently, the meaninglessness of the Resurrection,
of the Paschal Mystery. In the liberal model, the Cross is an
accident, a mistake, the result of short-sighted legalism. It cannot
therefore be made the subject of theological speculation; indeed it
really should not have occurred and a proper liberalism makes it in
any event superfluous.

In the second model Jesus is the failed revolutionary. He can
now symbolize the suffering of the oppressed class and thus foster
the growth of class consciousness. From this viewpoint the Cross can
even be given a certain sense, an important meaning, but one which
is radically opposed to the witness of the New Testament.
Now in both these versions there runs a common thread,
namely, that we must be saved not through the Cross, but from the
Cross. Atonement and forgiveness are misunderstandings from
which Christianity has to be freed. The two fundamental points of
the Christian faith of the New Testament writers and of the Church
in every age (the divine sonship understood in a metaphysical sense
and the Paschal Mystery) are eliminated or at least bereft of any
function. It is obvious that with such a basic reinterpretation all the
rest of Christianity is likewise altered—the understanding of what
the Church is, the liturgy, spirituality, etc.

Naturally these crude denials, which I have described here
with all the severity of their consequences, are seldom spoken of so
openly. The movements, however, are clear and they do not confine
themselves to the realm of theology alone. For quite some time they
have entered into preaching and catechesis; on account of the ease
of their transmission, they are even more pronounced in these fields
than in strictly theological literature. Quite clearly, then, the real
decisions today fall once again in the field of Christology; everything
else follows from that.

3. Finally, I should like to refer briefly to a third field of
theological reflection which is threatened by a thoroughgoing
reduction of the contents of faith, namely, eschatology. Belief in
eternal life has hardly any role to play in preaching today. A friend
of mine, recently deceased, an exegete of note, once told me of
some Lenten sermons he had heard at the beginning of the 1970s.
In the first sermon, the preacher explained to the faithful that Hell
does not exist; in the second, Purgatory went the same way; in the
third, he eventually undertook the difficult task of trying to
convince his hearers that even Heaven does not exist and that we
should seek our paradise here on earth. To be sure, it is seldom as
drastic as that, but diffidence in speaking about the hereafter has
become commonplace.

The Marxist accusation that Christians justified the injustices
of this world with the consolation of the world to come is deeply
rooted, and the present social problems are now indeed so serious
that they require all the powers of moral commitment. This moral
requirement will not at all be called into question by the one who
views the Christian life in the perspective of eternity, for eternal life
cannot be prepared for otherwise than in our present existence.
Nicholas Cabasilas, for example, expressed this truth in a wonderful
reflection in the fourteenth century. Only those attain to it (that is,
the future life) who already are its friends and have ears to hear. For
it is not there that friendship is begun, that the ear is opened, that
the wedding garment is readied and all else prepared, it is rather this
present life which is the work place where all this is fashioned. For
just as nature prepares the embryo, even while it leads a dark and
confined existence, for living in the light and forms it, as it were,
according to the pattern of the life that is to come, just so does it
happen with the saints. Only the exigency of eternal life confers its
absolute urgency on the moral duty of this life. If, however, heaven
is only something “ahead” of us and no longer “above” us, then the
interior tension of human existence and its communal responsibility
are slackened. For we indeed are not “ahead,” and whether this
prospect of what is ahead is a heaven for those others who appear to
us to have gone “ahead,” we are not in a position to determine,
since they are as free and as subject to temptation as we are ourselves.
Here we find the deception inherent in the idea of the
“better world,” which, nonetheless, appears today even among
Christians as the true goal of our hope and the genuine standard of
morality. The “Kingdom of God” has been almost completely
substituted in the general awareness, as far as I can see, by the Utopia
of a better future world for which we labor and which becomes the
true reference point of morality—a morality which thus blends again
Difficulties Confronting the Faith in Europe Today 737
with a philosophy of evolution and history, and creates norms for
itself by calculating what can offer better conditions of life.
I do not deny that it is in just this way that the idealistic
energies of young people are unleashed and that the results are
fruitful in terms of new aspirations to selfless activity. As an allembracing
norm for human endeavor, however, the future does not
suffice. Where the Kingdom of God is reduced to the “better
world” of tomorrow, the present will ultimately assert its rights
against some imaginary future. The escape into the world of drugs
is the logical consequence of the idolizing of Utopia. Since this has
difficulty in arriving, man draws it to himself or throws himself
headlong into it. It is dangerous, therefore, if the better world
terminology predominates in prayers and sermons and inadvertently
replaces the faith with a placebo.
All that has been said here may appear to many to be all too
negative. It was not intended, of course, to describe the situation of
the Church as a whole, with all her positive and negative elements.
It was rather a case of setting out the obstacles to the faith in the
European context.

Within this limited theme, I have not claimed to present an
exhaustive analysis. My sole intention was to examine, beyond the
individual problems which are constantly surfacing, the deepest
motives which give rise to the individual difficulties in ever
changing forms.

Only by learning to understand that fundamental trait of
modern existence which refuses to accept the faith before discussing
all its contents, will we be able to regain the initiative instead of
simply responding to the questions raised. Only then can we reveal
the faith as the alternative which the world awaits after the failure of
the liberalistic and Marxist experiments. This is today’s challenge to
Christianity, herein lies our great responsibility as Christians at the
present time.