Monday, October 29, 2012

Propositions From The Synod On Evangelization Sing Benedict's Music

Cardinal Wuerl as Secretary Relator of the Synod made sure Pope Benedict got to read a whole bunch of Benedict's own words and thinking in the propositions Wuerl sent to Benedict.  This is one Cardinal who knows how to keep his bread buttered.

This morning I read through the propositions Cardinal Wuerl wrote up as a synopsis of the work of the Synod on Evangelization.  For the most part I found nothing new in them.  There were a lot of self reflective statements pointing back to the Church as the Sacramental source of salvation, and more statements than I expected about the importance and authenticity of actual living The Way as opposed to pontificating about the way.  Over all I thought Cardinal Wuerl could have made the critical points in about a third of the verbiage actually used.  It is to say the least a quite repetitive, long winded series of statements.  This link will take you to the Vatican's website so you to can wade through all the verbiage.

One of the propostions I found especially interesting is number 12:
The Synod Fathers recognize the teaching of Vatican II as a vital instrument for transmitting the faith in the context of the New Evangelization. At the same time, they consider that the documents of the Council should be properly read and interpreted. Therefore, they wish to manifest their adherence to the thought of our Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, who has indicated the hermeneutical principle of reform within continuity so as to be able to discover in those texts the authentic spirit of the Council. “There is the "hermeneutic of reform", of renewal in the continuity of the one subject-Church which the Lord has given to us. She is a subject which increases in time and develops, yet always remaining the same, the one subject of the journeying People of God. [...] However, wherever this interpretation guided the implementation of the Council, new life developed and new fruit ripened” (Benedict XVI, Address to the Roman Curia, 22 December 2005). In this way it will be possible to respond to the need for renewal required by the modern world and, at the same time, faithfully preserve the identity of the Church’s nature and mission.

In this proposition it seems to me that the bishops more or less admit that we will be evangelizing the Benedict XVI Catholic Church.  It's only Roman Catholic in so far as Benedict deems it so. The authentic spirit of the council is only authentic if it conforms to Benedict's ideas of authenticity.  I thought this kind of papalotry was bad under JPII, but it's getting worse under Benedict XVI.  Why call 290 bishops and cardinals to Rome if one of their central propositions affirms what ever Benedict wants Benedict gets?  They could have done that by conference call and saved the Church a bundle of money.

I have to admit I was also purposely looking for a proposition that spoke to Cardinal designate Tagle's ideas of a listening, more humble Church.  I didn't find one, but for some reason the Vatican's website doesn't list all the propositions.  Maybe they haven't been translated from the Latin.  Which is a statement in itself isn't it?
Translating texts from Latin into English is pretty indicative of how out of touch and dead this monstrosity is getting.  

Here's a some thoughts Pope Benedict might want to meditate on.  There is a difference between religion and spirituality.  People in the West are not turning their backs on God because they are leaving the Catholic Church by the millions.  They are leaving the Catholic religion by the millions.  It could very well be that Benedict's concept of the Catholic religion isn't universally appealing.  It's pretty hard for some of us to relate to 290 men dressed in theatrical costumes from the middle ages, castigating entire cultures by parroting Benedict's words and phrases and all in an historically dead language to boot. That is not spirituality.  That is cultic religion.  That's what is no longer selling in the West----especially the unreformed clerical version which Benedict leads.

Finally, I noticed the two propositions that encourage the 'new movements' to infest dioceses and parishes with their particular enthusiasms.  This kind of thing will only evangelize the already evangelized.  Which is apropos since the synod mostly just sang Benedict's songs with Benedict's refrains.  I'm really hoping that my impressions are just the result of Wuerl's interpretation and not representative of the global bishops.  There were notes not sung in Benedict's key, but it doesn't look like they made Wuerl's cut. 

I mentioned above Cardinal designate Tagle and his words on listening and humility.  Here's some more of his words.  This man gets the difference between spirituality and religion, between living The Way and living the clerical way.  This man is definitely not Cardinal Wuerl.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Since it's now voting season, I thought I would reprint the five non negotiables every Catholic must take into consideration in their voting.  The first thing I noticed about the five non negotiables is that not too many heterosexual Catholic men would be ever be effected by them, or engage in them.  That's always been my primary concern about the pro life Catholic position on abortion which seems to end at birth.  It's way easier to be Catholic when the positions we are asked to take up and defend don't actually effect us.  Some would call this 'cheap grace'.  I would be one of those.  

The negotiable positions, the ones we Catholics can use our prudential judgment with, or disagree with the hierarchy on, are the very ones Jesus spent three years emphasizing in his ministry.  They are the hard ones to follow precisely because we are effected by them and have an effect on them. Some of these are waging war, the death penalty, wealth distribution, climate change, and personal rights and human dignity.  It's interesting that these are matters of prudential judgment when Jesus lived poverty, was a total pacifist, was denied his personal right to free speech, and was executed for his teaching. On the other hand, Jesus didn't say anything much at all about the 'five non negotiables' which now determine our Catholic creds.

1. Abortion
The Church teaches that, regarding a law permitting abortions, it is "never licit to obey it, or to take part in a propaganda campaign in favor of such a law, or to vote for it" (EV 73). Abortion is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent human being, and therefore it is a form of homicide. The unborn child is always an innocent party, and no law may permit the taking of his life. Even when a child is conceived through rape or incest, the fault is not the child's, who should not suffer death for others' sins.
Another sub-set issue within this subject area that is non-negotiable pertains to Human Reproductive Technologies, which includes the Church’s position against Contraception, In-Vitro Fertilization and Sterilization. (Romney has seriously violated the bit about Human Reproductive Technologies and also taken personal income from Stericycle's abortion waste activities.  I don't feel compelled to say too much about the Republican penchant for speaking utter stupidity when it comes to rape.)

2. Euthanasia
Often disguised by the name "mercy killing;' euthanasia is also a form of homicide. No person has a right to take his own life, and no one has the right to take the life of any innocent person. In euthanasia, the ill or elderly are killed, by action or omission, out of a misplaced sense of compassion, but true compassion cannot include intentionally doing something intrinsically evil to another person (cf. EV 73).
(This is an issue which I think is going to become far more prominent in the future, and I am not shocked that in this cycle there has be virtually no discussion of this topic. Check this link for why this discussion must become front and center in US discussions of health care.)

3. Embryonic Stem Cell Research
Human embryos are human beings. "Respect for the dignity of the human being excludes all experimental manipulation or exploitation of the human embryo" (CRF 4b). Recent scientific advances show that medical treatments that researchers hope to develop from experimentation on embryonic stem cells can often be developed by using adult stem cells instead. Adult stem cells can be obtained without doing harm to the adults from whom they come. Thus there is no valid medical argument in favor of using embryonic stem cells. And even if there were benefits to be had from such experiments, they would not justify destroying innocent embryonic humans. (This is a non negotiable that medical science itself is by passing. Perhaps it's time to update the non negotiables.)
4. Human Cloning
"Attempts ... for obtaining a human being without any connection with sexuality through ‘twin fission,’ cloning, or parthenogenesis are to be considered contrary to the moral law, since they are in opposition to the dignity both of human procreation and of the conjugal union" (RHL 1:6). Human cloning also involves abortion because the "rejected" or "unsuccessful" embryonic clones are destroyed, yet each clone is a human being. (I have been unable to find a single politician or political party advocating cloning.  This is another one that doesn't belong on such a list.)

5. Homosexual "Marriage"
True marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Legal recognition of any other union as "marriage" undermines true marriage, and legal recognition of homosexual unions actually does homosexual persons a disfavor by encouraging them to persist in what is an objectively immoral arrangement. "When legislation in favor of the recognition of homosexual unions is proposed for the first time in a legislative assembly, the Catholic lawmaker has a moral duty to express his opposition clearly and publicly and to vote against it. To vote in favor of a law so harmful to the common good is gravely immoral" (UHP 10). (In a real sense the Church itself opened up this issue when in 1975 it recognized the homosexual orientation as a state of 'being'.  Previous to 1975, homosexuality referred to the sexual act of sodomy. Much of the discussion on gay marriage is confusing because of conflating the state of 'being' gay with the act of sodomy, and the additional failure to recognize the difference between sacramental matrimony and civil marriage.  In my opinion the Church got ahead of it's own moral theology when it recognized homosexuality as a state of 'being' and now seems unable to deal with the implications.  I suspect that confusion can be laid at the feet of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict.  I strongly believe he is acting out his own confusion about his own sexuality through the campaign against gay marriage.)



Monday, October 22, 2012

Ireland's Mary McAleese Ventures Into Canon Law. Look Out Above

Imagine if this Synod could actually make a decision instead of entertaining each other with inventifacted Utube videos.

 The following excerpt is part of a very interesting interview done by Sara McDonald of ciNews with former Irish President Mary McAleese.  She is now studying Canon Law in Rome.  One of her stated reasons for doing so is that lay Catholics are expected to obey Canon Law while knowing almost nothing about it, and that attempting to find out anything about Canon Law is extremely difficult in Ireland and elsewhere.  The following is about half way through the interview and includes her thoughts on shared decision in making in Catholicism.

......“We have a bright, intelligent, confident and educated public who in the public space, that is outside of the Church, have enormous freedom to debate everything to death.  Ireland must be one of the most open democracies in the world.”

However, she said this freedom to discuss and debate and access information in the public sphere is in increasingly stark contrast to the Church where no such forum for discussion or debate exists.
“Realistically, what we have in the Church is a centralised primatial system of governance, a style of governance which relies on the brain power of one man, the Pope, and whoever is permitted to feed into him.  So he is the author essentially of governance and decisions and we as a lay faithful or indeed as the clerical faithful don’t have much input into those decisions.” (Basicaly we have none unless it comes with lots of Benjamins.)

She added, “We have a system of command and control where we are obliged to respond in obedience to the teachings of the Church and to accept certain things.  I think the issue of obedience is quite difficult due to the erosion of trust in the judgment of those whom we are expected to obey.  That really falls at the feet of the abuse issue,” she explained.

Speaking as the Church marks the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, Mary McAleese told ciNews that she feels the Council did not drive home sufficiently the way in which the Church was to be governed for the future. (I so totally agree.  This became the loop hole through which the papal reformers undid most of the theological world view underlying the Council.)
“It was very evident at Vatican II that the bishops felt the need for change; that they felt that the college of bishops would be recognised and should be recognised.”  She suggests that Vatican II left, “no roadmap,” as to how collegiality would develop, “apart from a relatively clear wish from the Council that there would be opportunities for much greater collaboration, much greater co-responsibility and a handing over to the Pope to decide how it would develop.”

One of the conclusions of her book, Quo Vadis?  Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law, is that post conciliar collegiality is chaotic.

She told ciNews that she also believes that this chaotic development since Vatican II, “looks more and more like arguing against ever having another Vatican council.”

Discussing the synod of bishops, which was not a creation of Vatican II but a creation of Paul VI, she highlights that it has, “no decision-making powers whatsoever.  The Pope could actually give it decision-making powers but he never has.  The agenda is set effectively by the Pope and the Curia and they don’t take on major controversial issues that are being debated out in the public domain but fairly safe phenomena.” (This is surely seen in the current Synod on Evangelization which is not addressing any of the problems which have precipitated the exodus out of the pews in the west. There has been a lot of babbling about 'secularism' which is so vaguely defined it means whatever Benedict needs it to mean.)

She believes there is scope for developing greater synodality. 
“If the bishops had more input into the decision making, by almost a process of osmosis, they would be obliged to have a much greater input into their own decision-making processes.  Greater collaboration, greater discussion, greater access to the views of laity and clergy, in order to inform the views that they would then bring in turn to the governance of the universal church.”

“But because they have no real direct involvement in the governance of the universal church, we have this logjam right back down the line and the only person who can unlock that logjam is the Pope himself.  He is the only person with the power under the code of canon law to change and to create new structures for co-responsibility and governance.  Vatican II clearly wanted him to do that so that he would co-govern the church with the bishops,” she said.  (Unfortunately we wound up with two popes whose personal experience of governance was totalitarian.)


I set this post up last night, and then decided I personally really needed to know why a former president of a soveriegn state would decide to study Canon Law as a mission.  This is not your average gig for a presidential retiree.  I decided to sleep on it, and low and behold this morning dear Bill Lyndsey provided the reasonThe following is from the Irish Independent article Bill links in his blog post:

 In 1998, she met the now disgraced Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, former Catholic Archbishop of Boston, on an official visit to the US.
According to Ms McAleese, he told her he was "sorry for Catholic Ireland to have you as President" and went on to insult a junior minister who was accompanying the then president.
"His remarks were utterly inappropriate and unwelcome," Mrs McAleese told the Irish Independent in Rome yesterday, where she was promoting her new book on canon law.
According to Mrs McAleese, Cardinal Law lambasted her and a considerable number of her official delegation after ushering them into a room where a well-known American conservative Catholic, Mary Ann Glendon, was waiting to lecture the President on her views on women priests.
Mrs McAleese said the cardinal's language and attitude were nasty and he demanded that she sit down and listen to the orthodox view on women's ordination from Mrs Glendon.
She said she and her delegation were initially gobsmacked by this "arrogant" man.
However, Mrs McAleese told the cardinal that she was the "President of Ireland and not just of Catholic Ireland".
At this point, a heated argument ensued between the two, according Mrs McAleese. She revealed details of the fractious meeting yesterday as she publicised her new book 'Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law'.

The article then goes on to report that McAleese was so incensed she spoke with the Irish hierarchy when she got home, and they too, were 'gobsmacked'.  An invitation they had extended to Cardinal Law to visit Ireland was rescinded. I guess one could see this as just another example of powerful American Irish Catholics attempting to control Ireland, but I don't buy that.   This was Cardinal Law acting from his ecclesiastical position and direct connection with JPII to not just intervene in Irish affairs, but to dress down a high profile female Catholic politician. It's no wonder Mary McAleese has decided to fight fire with fire by studying Canon Law.  As she states in the first linked article, Canon Law is a well kept secret in which laity do have rights and maybe it's time we all got to know them.

Her main point about the lack of power sharing and collegiality is very very important.  One of the biggest roll backs in the 'reform of the reform' has happened not in the Liturgy, but in gutting the power of national bishops conferences, synods of bishops, and the voices of individual bishops in their own dioceses.  This is especially true on issues of discipline and doctrine, and even more true when it comes to the place of women in the Church.  That's why a bishops like Australia's William Morris can be forced out of his diocese, but a bishop like Robert Finn is left in place.  The message this kind of thing sends is the exact same message Cardinal Law gave Mary McAleese, and that message is it matters not how high a woman rises in the secular realm she is still a mindless child in the clerical realm.  Mary Anne Glendon is willing to accept that double standard, Mary McAleese is not.  It sure looks to me like Cardinal Above the Law has created a worthy adversary in the use of Canon Law.  I just have a sneaking suspicion this is a story worth following.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Reform of the Reform

I only had to go back two weeks to reform my reform.

As you can see, I have returned to the old format.  The new one was just too progressive.  I expected a clown Mass to start at any minute with liturgical dancing, tambourines and other 'folksy' things totally inappropriate to a transcendent and serious enterprise.  And then there was the whole problem of language, I just didn't get why I couldn't have all my old sidebar standbys which I relied on a lot more than I thought.  It was like losing my rosary or something and Google totally ignored my whining.  Imagine that.  And then for some reason the link to my master dash board was dropped and I had a heck of a time figuring out how to get back to it.  If I couldn't get back to the dashboard I couldn't write at all.   I finally had to go through Google services.  It was just all too much, so my idea of 'reforming the reform' is to have no reform at all.  I learned this approach from Pope Benedict.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Catholic Imagination And The Gay Marriage Vote Leads To Pure Speculation

Jamie Manson just posted another wonderful piece at the NCR.  In this one she speculates on reasons for the majority of lay Catholics supporting same sex marriage.  She posits it's the influence of the Catholic sacramental view of life, or as Fr Andrew Greeley designated it, the Catholic imagination.  The following has been edited for length.

....In Catholic theology, grace perfects nature. Yes, human beings are a mess, and we're born into a very messy world. But because we are created by God and because everything God creates is good, there is intrinsic goodness in us. God offers us countless opportunities of grace to help us transform ourselves and to redeem us. (The concept of original ignorance as opposed to original sin, dovetails with the idea of intrinsic goodness.)

Catholics believe the finite is capable of the infinite. This is why Greely says objects, events and persons all have the capability to reveal God's grace to us. That grace can come in our experiences of love, forgiveness, compassion, justice, sacrifice, but also in the midst of suffering, brokenness and desolation.
It is the Catholic imagination that gave Dorothy Day the vision to see a prostitute with advanced syphilis as Jesus Christ on her doorstep.
It's Catholic sacramental view of the world that allowed Pierre Teilhard de Chardin to see that "Christ has a cosmic body that extends throughout the universe."
It is the Catholic theological tradition that made Thomas Merton see, in the middle of a Louisville, Ky., shopping center, that he was so in love with all of the people buzzing around him that he longed to tell them that "they are all walking around shining like the sun."

Those with a sacramental view of the world find it challenging to separate the sacred from the profane in this world. The theological ideas that support the Catholic imagination were articulated during the Reformation period as a response to the increasingly influential theology of John Calvin and other reformers.
Calvin's understanding of grace and nature was radically different from the Catholic tradition. He believed human beings are totally depraved and enslaved to sin. God saves human beings in spite of who they are, not because of any intrinsic goodness or merit that they have. Calvin believed God predestines who will and who will not be saved. In order to be redeemed, the human being had to completely die to the old, irredeemable self.  (Calvin saw all of humanity as depraved and enslaved to sin. Our Catholic authorities seem to be limiting this view strictly to gays.)

Calvinism still pervades the evangelical tradition and has helped shape the evangelical position on homosexuality. Given Calvin's theological understanding of the human person as being wholly depraved and irredeemable, it's easier to understand why evangelicals can justify their belief that no good can come out of a same-sex relationship.

But the affirming nature of the Catholic view of the human person and the core Catholic belief that all finite things are capable of the infinite makes the Roman Catholic position on LGBT persons and same-sex relationships much more problematic. (And it makes the alliances that some Roman Catholic bishops have formed with many anti-gay evangelical pastors all the more troubling.) (Actually it's not problematic if our bishops believe that the Calvinistic view of life really does pertain to gay humanity.)......

.....Those who possess a sacramental view of the world often realize that any human person or relationship that brings love, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, generosity or faithfulness into the world is a sign of God's grace. Perhaps this is the reason so many Catholics defend marriage equality: They have recognized these graces can come forth as much through same-sex couples as heterosexual couples. Those who have a Catholic imagination recognize that a couple's ability to enter into a marriage commitment is not contingent on their anatomies, but on the depth, strength and fruitfulness of their bond......


I would take Jamie's ideas a little farther.  Traditional Catholic teaching in sexual morality is based exclusively in biology and biological definitions of gender.  Biology determines everything about appropriate gender and sexual expression.  Catholic theology makes no room for an intrinsic spiritual reality of a person having any influence on the expression of one's sexual or gender expression. That intrinsic spiritual reality is what Merton describes as "all walking around shining like the sun." I don't believe biology creates this energy force which Merton saw. I think it's the intersection of that 'light' self with the biological expression which influences sex and gender expression.

In some indigenous traditions they talk about the 'two spirited'. This is not necessarily a description of a gay person.  It is a description of a person whose spirit seems to carry both male and female signatures.  When this dual spirit is manifested in biology it is not unusual for that person to be gay, bi sexual, or transgendered, but not always.  The two spirited were seen as great gifts to a tribe because it was believed these special people were bridges between the worlds of matter and spirit, but also between the sexes in the material world.

There was also a belief that the biological reality of men and women called for different paths in order to achieve mystical experiences.  Males needed a lot of rigorous discipline and physically demanding rituals in order to quiet the male mind to make contact with the spiritual self.  That sometimes took years and years of training to reach the same mystical experience Merton had.  For women, it was a different story.  They experienced the physically demanding ritual of birth, and needed no such long apprenticing.  If women wanted to they could connect with the spirit world on their own and their training would come from that realm.  In other words, there was a definite recognition that men and women were different spiritually and well as physically and different religious training was needed for each sex.  

The two spirited were generally allowed to determine their own path as to the spiritual and cultural expression of their gender and sexual orientationGifted Native practioners look for the expression of a person's spirit and mostly ignore the physical person sitting in front of them when mentoring, teaching or healing.  In a sense they are communing with what Catholics would call the soul, except indigenous practitioners see this aspect as much more interactive than the standard Catholic idea which leaves the soul at the mercy of the idiot human to which it's attached.  They would also agree though, that it is most possible for the idiot human, through misuse of free will, to utterly destroy the experience of his/her soul for that given lifetime. 

To make this post even longer, I've spent a long time thinking about the Native ideas on the connection between the light self and material self.  If Catholicism made room for a spiritual expression of gender, acknowledging that there is more going on than genetics and culture in gender expression, Catholicism might get  past it's biological fixations.  Imagine if Catholicism recognized that it was possible for two souls to interact with each other as well as two biological genders? It would be easier to make room for love relationships which don't fit the biological norms or even the head logic of the two people involved.  I doubt I'll see such a view evolve in my lifetime, at least in the institutional church, because so much of the doctrine is based in rigid gender definitions of male and female.  

I think Jesus was two spirited in the Native sense of the word, because he was both a bridge between the sexes, and between the spiritual and material realms.  I suppose that thought is some sort of heresy, but that doesn't make it a false speculation.  Plus he did say his Kingdom was not of this world, that it was found with in and that the love we showed others and ourselves was the entrance key.  When one starts to get this and it opens the doors to 'seeing' and 'hearing' as it did for Merton, it's just flat overwhelming.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hans Kung Speaks Again, And This Time He's Calling For A 'Revolution From Below"

Looks to me that Hans Kung has run out of patience and hope for his frenemy Pope Benedict.

Pope Benedict's personal adversary, Fr Hans Kung, is calling for a revolution from below within Catholicism in order to force radical reform within the Vatican.  Kung might be 84, but he doesn't seem to have lost much of his internal fire. The following interview is from the Guardian UK. I have edited it for length and to feature certain topics.  It is interesting in it's entirety and worth reading for background on Fr Kung's latest projects.

Catholic theologian preaches revolution to end church's 'authoritarian' rule

Kate Connelly - Guardian UK - 10/5/2012
One of the world's most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.
Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church's members.

In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, described the church as an "authoritarian system" with parallels to Germany's Nazi dictatorship.
"The unconditional obedience demanded of bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler," he said. (In both cases these oaths were not to the Church or the German State, but to the men who held/hold total dictatorial power. This kind of oath is a form of idolatory.)

The Vatican made a point of crushing any form of clerical dissent, he added. "The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who, say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list." The result was a church of "yes men", almost all of whom unquestioningly toed the line.

"The only way for reform is from the bottom up," said Küng, 84, who is a priest. "The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."

Küng, the author of around 30 books on Catholic theology, Christianity and ethics, which have sold millions worldwide, said that inspiration for global change was to be found in his native Switzerland and in Austria, where hundreds of Catholic priests have formed movements advocating policies that openly defy current Vatican practices. The revolts have been described as unprecedented by Vatican observers, who say they are likely to cause deep schisms in the church. (If schism should occur, it would be in reaction to Vatican policies, which would suggest the Vatican initiated the schism.)

"I've always said that if one priest in a diocese is roused, that counts for nothing. Five will create a stir. Fifty are pretty much invincible. In Austria the figure is well over 300, possibly up to 400 priests; in Switzerland it's about 150 who have stood up and it will increase."

He said recent attempts by the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, to try to stamp out the uprising by threatening to punish those involved in the Austrian "priests' initiative" had backfired owing to the strength of feeling. "He soon stopped when he realised that so many ordinary people are supportive of them and he was in danger of turning them all against him," Küng said.

The initiatives support such seemingly modest demands as letting divorced and remarried people receive communion, allowing non-ordained people to lead services and allowing women to take on important positions in the hierarchy. However, as they go against conventional Catholic teaching, the demands have been flatly rejected by the Vatican....

....Küng refers to the "heap of legends" that abound about himself and Ratzinger from their "Tübingen days", not least the apocryphal accounts of how he gave lifts in his "red sports car" to the bicycle-riding Ratzinger.
"I often gave him a lift, particularly up the steep hills of Tübingen, yes, but too much has been made of this," he said. "I didn't drive a sports car, rather an Alfa Romeo Giulia. Ratzinger admitted himself that he had no interest in technology and had no driving licence. But it's often been turned into some kind of pseudo-profound metaphor idealising the 'cyclist' and demonising the 'Alfa Romeo driver'." (This story has become something of talking point on conservative sites.  Kung the flamboyant Vatican II egoist and Benedict the struggling young pious professor.)

Indeed the "modest'' and prudent "bicycle-rider'' image that pope-to-be, now 85, fostered for years has all but evaporated since his 2005 inauguration, according to Küng.
"He has developed a peculiar pomposity that doesn't fit the man I and others knew, who once walked around in a Basque-style cap and was relatively modest. Now he's frequently to be seen wrapped in golden splendour and swank. By his own volition he wears the crown of a 19th-century pope, and has even had the garments of the Medici pope Leo X remade for him." (This is absolutely true, and at no small cost.  Even I find this factoid a little unsettling.)

That "pomposity", he said, manifested itself most fully in the regular audiences who gather on St Peter's Square in Rome. "What happens has Potemkin village dimensions," he said. "Fanatical people go there to celebrate the pope, and tell him how wonderful he is, while meanwhile at home their own parishes are in a lamentable state, with a lack of priests, a far higher number than ever before of people who are leaving than are being baptised and now Vatileaks, which indicates just what a poor state the Vatican administration is in," he said, referring to the scandal over leaked documents uncovering power struggles within the Vatican which has seen the pope's former butler appear in court. The trial ends on Saturday. (The Pope's butler got 18 months.)......

......."The Vatican is no different from the Kremlin," Küng said. "Just as Putin as a secret service agent became the head of Russia, so Ratzinger, as head of the Catholic church's secret services, became head of the Vatican. He has never apologised for the fact that many cases of abuse were sealed under the secretum pontificium (papal secrecy), or acknowledged that this is a disaster for the Catholic church." Küng described a process of "Putinisation" that has taken place at the Vatican. (This is a point I have made myself, except I think the 'Putinisation' started under JPII.)

Yet despite their differences, the two have remained in contact. Küng visited the pope at his summer retreat, Castel Gandolfo, in 2005, during which the two held an intensive four-hour discussion.
"It felt like we were on an equal footing – after all, we'd been colleagues for years. We walked through the park and there were times I thought he might turn the corner on certain issues, but it never happened. Since then we've still kept exchanging letters, but we've not met."......


The relationship between Pope Benedict and Fr Kung is one for the ages.  They have become almost archetypal images for the 'reform of the reform' and 'spirit of Vatican II' Catholics. One is portrayed as something of an agent of chaos and the other as the epitome of Catholic order and stability.  As the story goes, one is an extroverted egoist, and one a reclusive academic. But I also think their relationship has a lot of academic competitiveness on the part of both men and I find the theology of both unnecessarily dense and convoluted. It's almost as if their theologic treatises and tomes were secretly written for and to each other. 

In my book they are worthy adversaries who are now engaged with each other for the future of the Church.  Pope Benedict most certainly defends his view from the far more powerful position which has forced Kung to engage from the margins. Pope Benedict chose to engage from inside the power circle. Kung, who was banished to the margins by JPII, has no choice but to engage from way outside that circle.  Pope Benedict is calling for Catholics to increase their identity with the center. Kung is calling for revolution from the outer edges.  

I don't think the center can hold.  Pope Benedict is not JPII.  The Vatican center is far too compromised.  It acts too much from fear.  I don't see any Joan of Arc on the horizon who will save Pope Benedict and his court from the destabilizing influence of the evolution of secular thought.  

Cardinal Schonborn seems to have realized that rather than holding the more powerful hand, he's actually playing the weaker hand.  In Austria the Vatican bluff was called and Cardinal Schonborn has retreated into silence. This should be an ominous sign for the Vatican.  There is real anger on the margins, in the outer circles.  The last two papacies have shrunk the inner circle and deprived it of the vitality and creativity the center needed to hold the Church together. Pope Benedict can't keep it viable with loyalty oaths, secrecy, and distilled dictatorial power.

Eventually the Vatican will be forced to realize it's traditional bicycle can't pull the hills of the 21st century.  It will ask for a ride from the very car it refuses to learn to drive.


Saturday, October 6, 2012

Lessons In Humility Come From God For AB Cordileone, But From Cordileone In The Case Of Bishop Marc Andrus

When there are guitars there are Neo Cats.  Archbishop Sal drew a lot of Neo Cats to his installation, but not many from Oakland.

Archbishop Sal Cordileone's installation ceremony has generated some very interesting stories, most of which do not demonstrate the attitude one would expect from a fully committed Christian leader in Jesus's Church.  They do however, demonstrate a fully committed leader to Rome's version of Catholicism.  The following is from an article by NCR's Dennis Coday.  It describes the fate of Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal Diocese of California in his attempt to attend Bishop Sal's coronation as king of San Francisco Catholics.  It wasn't very nice treatment for one of Bishop Sal's ecumenical peers.

Episcopal bishop not seated for Cordileone's installation

By Dennis Coday - National Catholic Reporter - 10/5/2012
Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal diocese of California, an invited guest for the installation of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, was not allowed to be seated for the service, according to a report by Pacific Church News, the news service of the Episcopal diocese of California.

Andrus, who three days earlier had written a letter pledging to work with Cordileone but remaining firm in supporting gay rights and marriage equality, which Cordileone opposes, was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral and “detained by an usher until the time the service began, whereupon Bishop Andrus left the cathedral,” according to the report.
The spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese told the Associated Press that Andrus’ exclusion was due to a misunderstanding. Spokesman George Wesolek  said that Andrus had arrived late and missed the procession of interfaith clergy. (I guess Bishop Andrus misunderstood the nature of his invite.  He was supposed to politely decline, not actually attend.)

Church staff, said Wesolek, were looking for an opportunity to bring the bishop in without disrupting the service. "We had no intention of excluding him at all," Wesolek said. "If he felt like because of the wait that was insulting to him, we certainly will apologize."

Andrus, however, said that he was not late. In a statement released on his blog this morning, the Episcopal bishop said he waited in the basement with other invited interfaith dignities. When Andrus attempted to enter the church with the other dignities, the bishop claims, he was stopped.

“An archdiocesan employee attempted to escort me upstairs with the Greek Orthodox group, but was stopped from doing so by the employee to whom I had first identified myself. This person, who appeared to be in a superior role, instructed another employee to stand with me,” Andrus’ statement reads.

“At this point no other guests remained in the downstairs area. The employee and I chatted while waiting. I began to wonder about the time holdup. I checked my phone; it was 1:50 PM. I asked the employee standing with me if the service indeed started at 2, which she affirmed.”

“At 2PM, when the service was to begin, I said to the employee, 'I think I understand, and feel I should leave.' Her response was, 'Thank you for being understanding.' I quietly walked out the door. No one attempted to stop me. No attempt was ever made to explain the delay or any process for seating. I arrived early, before the time given my assistant, and waited to leave until after the service had begun.” ("Thank you for being understanding."  These are some of the saddest words I have read in very long time.)


I do not for one second believe the spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco.   I think the treatment Bishop Andrus received was intentional and designed to humiliate him.  If Cordileone or the Archdiocese was that offended by Andrus's letter to his own flock they should have called his office and requested he not attend.  Instead these Catholic folks chose to publicly marginalize him in the presence of his peers.  This kind of thing is nothing more than vicious politics.  Or given Cordileone's penchant for keeping the spotlight on himself, narcissistic pique.  

One segment of his sermon illustrates his narcissism:  "I know in my own life, God has always had a way of putting me in my place in little and sometimes big ways to remind myself of my need to depend on him and to attend to the work of my own rebuilding from within," Cordileone said. "I would say, though, that with the latest episode in my life, God has outdone himself."  Apparently we are to believe that Sal's arrest for drunken driving was not his fault.  It was God thrusting His hand into Sal's life to teach him a personal lesson about public humiliation.  This speaks to a great deal of self importance, and is seemingly a twist on the 'devil made me do it' blame game.  For Sal's ego only God could set him up like that.  The truth is Sal did it all on his own, and it was Sal who made a freaking fool of himself trying to pass a field sobriety test---in front of his mother no less.  Anyway, it might have been the devil who answered Sal's urgent prayers for personal intervention because Sal snuck in a guilty plea this past Monday to reckless driving, not drunken driving, and avoided a bigger public embarrassment and lesson in humility from God.

I can see where Sal might have decided a certain Episcopalian political foe needed a lesson in humility not from God, but from Sal.  After all Sal is quite apparently a much better political operative than he is a bishop.  It wasn't lay members from Oakland who demonstrated in his behalf.  It was Neo Cat followers who have no allegiances to any diocesan bishop.  I'm sure Sal will richly reward the Neo Cats for their public support.

But the one thing I don't really understand is how traditional Catholics can truthfully be upset with the pastoral letter Bishop Andrus wrote his own Episcopal flock.  It's common knowledge there are millions of disaffected Catholics in the US Church, and there will be even more in San Francisco.  Andrus was stating the obvious that many of those Catholics might start to pop up in Episcopal churches and should be given a warm welcome.  Unlike Pope Benedict, he didn't start some Episcopalian Ordinariate for disenfranchised Catholics where they could bring in their own priests and keep their own rites.  Andrus's blog post was an observation and request for hospitality.  It was  not a pointed attack on Catholicism the way the Anglican Ordinariate was a stab in Archbishop Rowan Williams back and a betrayal of years of ecumenical discussion.

Many many people have written that the problem with Catholicisms' clergy is the prevalence of narcissism and competitive ladder climbing where there are no rules about the people you destroy on the way up the clerical colors.  Sal is one of the more colorful poster children for this truth. Maybe San Francisco is the step that will prove to be Sal's one too many.