Monday, September 3, 2012

Cardinal Martini's Last Words: It's About Love, Not Law

Cardinal Carlo Martini, may he rest in peace.  May his vision live for ever.

The death of Cardinal Carlo Martini hit last Friday hit close to home since I had posted the day before about one of his contemporaries, Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen.  In that particular post I excerpted part of the summary from a doctoral dissertation written about the conflict dynamics in the situation between Archbishop Hunthausen and JPII's Vatican.  AB Hunthausen had a vision of Church which was pastoral, flexible, and treated laity like adults.  The Vatican had a vision of Church which was far more legal and tended to see laity like misbehaving teenagers way too focused on their genitals.  Yesterday I posted an excerpt from Cardinal Burke's speech to the Kenyan Canon Law Convention in which he elevates the Code of Canon Law to the importance of the 10 commandments.  Today, thanks to Commonweal, I am posting the entirety of the last interview given by Cardinal Martini.  It was originally printed in the print edition of the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera And once again we see this same huge divide in visions of the Church..

How do you see the situation of the Church?
The Church is tired, in prosperous Europe and in America. Our culture is out of
date; our Churches are big; our religious houses are empty, and the Churches bureaucratic
apparatus is growing, and our rites and our vestments are pompous
. Do such things really
express what we are today? ... Prosperity weighs us down. We find ourselves like the rich
young man who went away sad when Jesus called him to become his disciple. I know
that it’s not easy to leave everything behind. At least could we seek people who are free
and closer to their neighbors, as Bishop Romero was and the Jesuit martyrs of El
Salvador? Where among us are heroes to inspire us?
We must never limit them by
institutional bonds. (Cardinal Martini might just as well be speaking about Cardinal Burke.  I hate to keep picking on Burke, but he is the poster boy for the vision of Church which is killing the Church in the West.)

Who can help the Church today?
Fr. Karl Rahner liked to use the image of embers hidden under ashes. I see in the
Church today so many ashes above the embers that I’m often assailed by a sense of
powerlessness. How can the embers be freed from the ashes in order to rekindle the flame
of love?
First of all, we have to look for those embers. Where are the individuals full of
generosity, like the Good Samaritan? Who have faith like that of the Roman centurion?
Who are as enthusiastic as John the Baptist? Who dare new things, as Paul did? Who are
faithful as Mary Magdalene was? I advise the Pope and the bishops to look for twelve
people outside the lines for administrative posts [posti direzionali]–people who are close
to the poorest and who are surrounded by young people and are trying out new things.
We need that comparison with people who are burning so that the spirit can spread
everywhere. (Yes, how can the embers be freed from the ashes?)

What means do you advise against the Church’s weariness?
I have three important ones to mention. The first is conversion: the Church has to
recognize its own errors and has to travel a radical journey of change, beginning with the
Pope and the bishops. The scandals of pedophilia are driving us to undertake a journey of
conversion. Questions about sexuality and all the themes involving the body are an
example of this. They are important for everyone, at times they’re also too important. In
this area is the Church is still a point of reference or only a caricature in the media?
The second is the Word of God. Vatican II restored the Bible to Catholics. ... Only
someone who receives this Word in his heart can be among those who will help the
renewal of the Church and will know how to respond to personal questions wisely. The
Word of God is simple and seeks as its companion a heart that is listening. ... Neither the
clergy nor Church law can substitute for a person’s inwardness.
All the external rules, the
laws, the dogmas were given to us in order to clarify the inner voice and to discern the
spirits. (
And there in lies the difference between Burke and Martini, and Hunthausen and Ratzinger. One view is obsessed with law and intellectualization, and the other view thinks with their heart.)

For whom are the sacraments? They are the third means of healing. The
sacraments are not a disciplinary instrument, but a help for people at moments on their
journey and when life makes them weak.
Are we bringing the sacraments who need a
new strength? I’m thinking of all the divorced people and couples who have remarried
and extended families. They need a special protection. The Church maintains the
indissolubility of marriage. It is a grace when a marriage and a family succeed. ... The
attitude we take toward extended families will determine whether their children come
near to the Church. A woman is abandoned by her husband and finds a new companion
who is concerned for her and her three children. The second love succeeds. If this family
is discriminated against, not only the woman, but her children, too, will be cut off. If the
parents feel external to the Church and do not experience its support, the Church will lose
the future generation. Before Communion we pray: “Lord, I am not worthy...” We know
we are unworthy. ... Love is grace. Love is a gift. The question whether the divorced can
receive Communion would have to be turned upside down.
How can the Church come to
the aid of complex family situations with the power of the sacraments?

What do you do personally?
The Church is two hundred years behind. Why is it not being stirred? Are we
afraid? Afraid instead of courageous? Faith is the Church’s foundation–faith, confidence,
courage. I’m old and ill and depend on the help of others. The good people around me
enable me to experience love. This love is stronger than the feeling of discouragement
that I sometimes feel in looking at the Church in Europe. Only love conquers weariness.
God is Love.

I have a question for you: “What can you do for the Church?”


Cardinal Martini asks why is the Church not being stirred?  The truth is it is being stirred, it's just that his peers won't acknowledge it.  I think they won't acknowledge the stirring because too many of them are experiencing the Church from the intelligence in their heads, and not from the intelligence in their hearts.

In fact I think too many of our leadership are ignorant of the reality of heart intelligence and the power of it's influence on the human brain.   They still think intellectual discipline and academic training can tame human emotion and there by control human societies.  Under this thinking gays can live happy celibate lives if they just develop the discipline, women can handle all the children God gives them if they just develop the right 'understanding' of their role, and the priesthood will have all the vocations it needs if parents just demonstrated good Catholic discipline in the family.  The  People of God will be happy when they just follow the carefully thought out rules.  

The first problem with this kind of rational wishful thinking starts directly with the fact the human body reacts emotionally faster than it does cognitively. This principle explains why all the training in celibacy can go straight down the drain the instant a priest falls in love.  At that point it's no longer about discipline or intellectual rationalizations because the cognitive centers of the brain are being steam rolled by powerful emotions.  The center of that emotional steam roller is literally in the structure of the heart.  Cardinal Burke would do himself a favor to get his head out of Canon Law books and start reading the research on the intelligent heart.  This field of research has huge implications for theology, spirituality, religious systems and our understanding of ourselves as humans.  It is not New Age wishful thinking.

Cardinal Martini ended his life soundly affirming God is Love and that love will conquer all weariness. Love is a tonic for sure, and one quite capable of totally upsetting the perfectly laid intellectual plans of any human or human institution.  It's often called conversion.  Until Cardinal Martini's peers understand just how powerful love is relative to cognition, there's very little hope the Burkes of the Catholic world will ever lose their bureaucratic influence and the Church in the West will continue to die.  The Church doesn't need more laws, it needs more love.  Didn't it's Founder say just that?


  1. Eternal rest, grant unto him O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace. Amen

    And thank God that this Church still has brave men and loving men who can see what he has said here and are willing to say it also. We are all poorer for his death, and richer for his vision.

  2. Olivia, I really appreciate the brave and loving men who comment on this blog. Sometimes I get so hard hitting about the utter lack of feminine perspective in the Church I wonder why they keep reading. I thing they are like Cardinal Martini and have gone beyond conditioned gender stereotyping. Sometimes I wonder if I have, but then I know I've paid a much harder price for being female than I would have if I was male. On the other hand, if I had been born male, I wouldn't be writing this blog, I'd still be driving a monster tractor on the family ranch.

  3. Martini's words here fell on my heart like a balm healing the wounds of so much frustration and sadness as I witness the calcification of our Church from within. Just like that, the Spirit can dissipate ashlar citadels of abject propriety. May we become just such burning embers amidst this heap of ashes piling high around us...

    Keep hitting hard Colkoch! I have six sisters, some of who would make a truck driver blush to hear them speak but whose hearts are as true as faith itself! Mentors all on my journey...

  4. For no good reason today, I was web surfing and came across a video of the Bob Dylan song "The Times they are a Changin'" set against a backdrop of old films of the civil rights movement.

    I had never before heard that song in my head as a hymn to the Holy Spirit, but by God I heard it that way today.

    What struck me watching those films though was the number of white people marching in those protests for the equality under God that was promised to all and so long denied. Elderly white men, nuns, young servicemen, mothers carrying children.

    And suddenly I remembered this post again and came back. Because the Spirit that moved these people then still flows through the world today, and Cardinal Martini lived that Spirit.

    And I think he said this to the Church that he served so long and well, in love and in grief, the Church that is watching in bewilderment as her sons and daughters question her, as children always grow up to question their parents. Indeed, if the child does not grow up to question the parent, then the parent hasn't done much of a job in nurturing that child's mind! It's painful and utterly necessary.

    "Come mothers and fathers
    Throughout the land
    And don't criticize
    What you can't understand
    Your sons and your daughters
    Are beyond your command
    Your old road is
    Rapidly agin'
    Please get out of the new one
    If you can't lend your hand
    For the times they are a-changin'. - Bob Dylan

    God bless you all.

    1. My favorite version of this song , Odetta's singing I've have always found very stirring.

      John Fremont

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  7. What would Rome look like today had Martini been made Pope instead of Wyjota? How could we have elected Luciani then Wyjota? How did the physical and soul murder of this institution begin? It takes a mind that will study the mafia of Europe and the US to put this all together. We do not have a leadership anymore that believes in The Way of Christ. Instead they believe in their own antediluvian and at times delusional parental rules. This is not belief, this IS false whiteness by the Episcopacy at the highest level. What is to be done? The Roman Church is in ashes and the Vatican is nothing but a museum of art and amoral decisions.. A big push toward disaster was the murder of Luciani and the “accidents” of several other leaders that were opposed to the thoughts of Opus Dei. Now we have Ratzinger and Burke. What will men and women who wish to follow in the Way of Jesus Christ decide? It can not be support of this leadership. dennis

    1. Colleen:
      This is a request to ask you to talk more about mysticism which to me is being willing to let go all all that "we know for sure" and being willing to follow the call wherever it may lead us, whatever faith tradition, no matter how deep the darkness. It seems that is what Dennis is asking: for those who wish to follow in the Way what do we do? Or at least what can we learn from those who walk with us?

    2. Coolmom, I've thought about the question you ask about following the way of mysticism. I have to admit I have let go of quite a bit of the piety that I thought would lead to mysticism. It's really about making connections and you can't do that with the fear of 'the devil' that is inherent in so much of what passes for Catholic piety and Burke's idea of holiness.

      I had pretty much decided I would write something on mysticism as I've experienced and lived it as both a Catholic, a seeker, and a pyschic. So much of the language is no longer in the language of 'religion' and more in....well, I actually hate having to say the language of the New Age. Those guys understood the quantum physics and consciousness speculations of scientists like David Bohm, and biologists like Greg Braden light years ahead of those of us whose experiences fell into the language of our religious belief structure. Mysticism is a universal EXPERIENCE, but the language is not. Quantum physics and recent work in human consciousness and neurophysiology is providing that universal framework. But you can't talk exclusively in the language of Catholicism and Jesus and expect non Christians to hear you. So I find myself using phrases like "Christ Consciousness or the Cosmic Christ and not "Jesus died for our sins and if you don't accept Him you will go to hell".

      I know why some LCWR members are accused of being "New Agers". It's because they have used the universal mystical language.

      We follow The Way in which we do because it is absolutely the major key for working in the realties outside our sense perceptual 3D reality. In those realms you don't get to play if it's all about you, and if you can't see Christ in others and be willing to let go judgment and bring on love.

      It's not really that selfishness is like the 'dark side', it's just that you don't get anywhere, you don't have the keys, and you aren't even working from the right map to get anywhere. So much of what I've begun to understand is in the New Testament. It's a primer for 'doing as Jesus did'.

      Half the reason I write on the Burkes et al, is because they are teaching the wrong concepts and no, neither they nor anyone they teach will find the keys to Kingdom. They will find the Kingdom they are taught to find: Satanic attacks, fear, and psychosis.

    3. Dennis, it all started with Constantine. You have to study Constantine's full life before you can begin to understand the energy that really birthed 'Roman' Catholicism.

      Murdering Popes and consorting with criminal enterprises and secretive gnostic sects like Opus Dei goes way way back. We need to expose it and let it die in the Light.

      I think mysticism for me has a two fold purpose. One is the micro level which includes our influence on family, social networks, and for me personally, the clients I work with. The other is the macro level and for me that has been a mandate from outside this reality. "Roman' Catholicism must die as we know it so that Universal Catholicism can be birthed. This is essential for the third world or women in those countries will continue to be slaves to all kinds of patriarchal cultures. The feminine must seek balance with the masculine or our wonderful blue globe will become very inhospitable to 'homo sapiens sapiens.

  8. Why does it take two weeks before Cardinal Martini dies to hear of what his views are? While I am glad he said what he had to say I'm pissed off he's no longer here.


    1. Fran, from what I've read, that was the deal Cardinal Martini made with the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera before he gave the interview. Martini wanted it released after his death.

      Just as an aside, I bet Fr Groeschel now wishes he had made the same contract with the National Catholic Register.

    2. Oh, ok. I don't know what you mean by Fr Groeschel now wishes he made the same contract..... Not connecting the dots tonight. It happens!!

      That's too bad that Cardinal Martini waited to say what he said. His conscience must have been bothering him maybe. It's essentially a death bed confession.

      I believe he might have been mentioned in your blog at one time or other. I can't remember though.


    3. EWTN just gave Fr. Groeschel the ole' heave ho, and blamed it on the National Catholic Register for printing the interview without editing it. EWTN owns the National Catholic Register. EWTN seems to have become the flagship station for clerical talking heads who deep down inside, just don't get it.

    4. A sinking flagship~! They are blaming themselves!! LOL!! "A house divided against itself shall not stand." You think they might have read that somewhere?

      When will the craziness end? Come Lord Jesus !!


  9. Yes Colleen,
    There is the pre-Constantinean church that was attempting to organize its leadership in a more democratic way. There is reason to have leadership because all humanity needs to develop rudimentary ideas of ethics. But for true spirituality to develop in a human mindset, critical thought is necessary. With out, it there can not be intellectual or ethical growth and development. With out the use of critical thought man stays in the adolescent mind set and we can describe the current group of bishops in this mind set. When thinkers imply that the world is grey or even that the old dogma is incorrect, the adolescent mind set responds in a black and white envious way that rules out all growth and actually becomes murderous in intent. Look what happened to the great theologians of the past 50 years! Look what happened to Luciano.

    Following The Way (of Christ) is how the early Christians described themselves. There were no formal orders and no formal consecrations of bishops, no formal organized politicians of the Church. There was the leadership of St. Paul. Both men and WOMEN offered the Eucharist in their homes. This is why the word Apostolic really implies the sacrament of Baptism and not orders. Orders did not exist for at least 100 years. The word catholic was also coined after 1 0r 200 years. Those that wish to follow the mind set of Christ in a Universal Church must follow the beliefs and actions of Jesus Christ. They must follow The Way of Christ again. This mind set can be Moslem, Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist , Christian, agnostic or even Atheist. Some "New Age" thinkers are making much more progress than the dogmatism of religious thinkers.

    Finally, University theology departments must be open to critical thought at the FRESHMAN level or they are no more than Cathecatical centers not at all open to find truth from the Spirit. This has tremendous implications on the University as a whole. Unless Catholic institutions can remain open to critical thought in Philosophy, Theology, Science and even History, they can not be true institutions of higher learning. They become dogmatic centers of propaganda. dennis

    ps Thank you Colleen for allowing my posts as I have little time to organize such a fine blog as you have done.

  10. I had hoped that the sex abuse scandal would have made Catholics angry enough to demand changes within the church. It appears to me it has given the hierarchy of the church much more power and they are using it to 'keep the laity in line'.

    It seems to me that anything that does not change eventually dies.
    The stated hope of the church, that smaller, more conservative more faithful does not seem healthy nor does it seem to express the teachings of Christ.

  11. "that smaller, more conservative more faithful does not seem healthy nor does it seem to express the teachings of Christ."

    Yes, dianedp, This represents a dysfunctional leadership that are no longer following The Way of Christ, but who are pushing for their own recognition. They are really materialistic and worldly old men devoid of much spirituality. dennis

  12. Colleen, thank you. This is powerful and soul-nourishing reflection.

  13. I have three important ones to mention. The first is conversion: the Church has to recognize its own errors and has to travel a radical journey of change, beginning with the Pope and the bishops. Great stuff!