The Vatican is Upset — Perhaps We Should be Upset Because of the Vatican…..

Waltzing on thin ice……

Patsy McGarry writing in the Irish Times (July 28, 2011) offers some well-phrased reflections about the Vatican’s reactions to sexual abuse in Ireland and the Murphy and Cloyne reports.

Frankly the current Vatican administration, orchestrated by the Bavarian pontiff, shows very little interest in transparency. Fortunately the Vatican cannot control the media. The truth will indeed come out. The bishop of Rome wears fancy slippers but he is waltzing on thin ice…..

McGarry’s observations:

In 2008, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne and Msgr Denis O’Callaghan lied to the church’s child protection watchdog about abuse there.

This formidable desire to hide the truth on the part of senior clergy in Ireland by lies, damn lies and mental reservation was not rooted in any peculiar aversion on their part. It rested entirely on what they understood was required of them by Rome.

Yet in his March 2010 pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops that “some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously”, when it came to child protection. Not a word about Rome’s role in any of this.

Not a word about Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who was responsible for the 1997 letter to the Irish bishops dismissing their 1996 Framework Document as “merely a study document”. Which letter, the Cloyne report said, “gave comfort and support” to those who “dissented from the stated official Irish church policy” on child protection.

In 1999, when the Irish bishops were visiting Rome they were reminded by a Vatican official they were “bishops first, not policemen” when it came to reporting clerical child sex abuse. But apologists for Rome insist all changed in May 2001 when then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent two letters to every Catholic bishop in the world. In Latin. One insisted that both be kept secret. The other directed that all clerical child sex abuse allegations “with a semblance of truth” be sent to the congregation and it would decide whether they be dealt with at diocesan or Vatican level.

Yet, as current chancellor of Dublin’s archdiocese Msgr John Dolan told the Murphy commission, this policy “was subsequently modified as Rome was unable to deal with the vast numbers of referrals”. The Cloyne report continues: “The position now, he [Msgr Dolan] said, is that all cases brought to the attention of the archdiocese before April 2001 and which were outside prescription . . . were not going to be dealt with by the CDF. It was up to the bishop to apply disciplinary measures to the management of those priests.”

In effect, the Irish bishops were back where they were before 2001. As Murphy reported: “Victims have expressed disappointment that neither the Framework Document nor its successor, Our Children, Our Church (2005), received recognition from Rome, thus leaving both documents without legal status under canon law.”

This, Murphy found, “was in direct contrast to the approach adopted by the Holy See to the request of the American Conference of Bishops”. The truth is Rome tied the hands of those Irish bishops and religious superiors who wanted to address the abuse issue properly.

Yet, Rome did not even acknowledge correspondence from the Murphy commission in September 2006. Instead it complained the commission did not use proper channels. So, in February 2007, the Murphy commission wrote to then papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto requesting he forward “all documents in his possession relevant to
the commission”. He did not reply.

So, in early 2009, it wrote to current nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, (in situ since April 2008), enclosing a draft of its report for comment. He did not reply.

The nunciature in Dublin has been the conduit for truthful clerical child abuse reports to Rome, while Archbishop Leanza was personally involved in talks which led to Bishop Magee standing aside at Cloyne in February 2009.

So, the Murphy commission asked him to “submit to it any information which you have about the matters under investigation”. He felt “unable to assist” it “in this matter”.

Roman Catholic Seismic Event

The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland, Enda Kenny spoke to the Dail

(the Irish Parliament) on Wednesday 20 July

This may be a truly historic moment for the contemporary Roman Catholic Church

The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.

It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic…as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism….the narcissism …….that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day. The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”……the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.

This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded. The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose. The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.

Except in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Cloyne’s revelations are heart-breaking. It describes how many victims continued to live in the small towns and parishes in which they were reared and in which they were abused… Their abuser often still in the area and still held in high regard by their families and the community. The abusers continued to officiate at family weddings and funerals… In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding…

There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the Commission.

While it will take a long time for Cloyne to recover from the horrors uncovered, it could take the victims and their families a lifetime to pick up the pieces of their shattered existence.

A day post-publication, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met with the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza. The Tánaiste left the Archbishop clear on two things: The gravity of the actions and attitude of the Holy See. And Ireland’s complete rejection and abhorrence of same.

The Papal Nuncio undertook to present the Cloyne Report to the Vatican.

The Government awaits the considered response of the Holy See.

I believe that the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the State’s authorities in line with the Children First National Guidance which will have the force of law.

Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy Reports. This Roman Clericalism must be devastating for good priests…. some of them old… others struggling to keep their humanity….even their sanity……..as they work so hard…..to be the keepers of the Church’s light and goodness within their parishes…… communities… the human heart.

But thankfully for them, and for us, this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.

This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011. A Republic of laws…..of rights and responsibilities….of proper civic order….. where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version….. of
a particular kind of ‘morality’….. will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

As a practising Catholic, I don’t say any of this easily. Growing up, many of us in here learned we were part of a pilgrim Church. Today, that Church needs to be a penitent Church. A church, truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.

In the name of God. But for the good of the institution. When I say that through our legislation….. through our Government’s action to put Children First…….those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation…..to a democracy where humanity, power, rights, responsibility, are enshrined and enacted …..always….always…. for their good.

Where the law – their law – as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country.

This report tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children. If we do not respond swiftly and appropriately as a State, we will have to prepare ourselves for more reports like this. I agree with Archbishop Martin that the Church needs to publish any other and all other reports like this as soon as possible.

I must note the Commission is very positive about the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, established by the Church to oversee the operation by Dioceses and religious orders. The Commission notes that all Church authorities were required to sign a contract with the National Board agreeing to implement the relevant standards and that those refusing to sign would be named in the Board’s Annual Report. Progress has been in no small measure to the commitment of Ian Elliott and others.

There is some small comfort to be drawn by the people of Cloyne from the fact that the Commission is complimentary of the efforts made by the Diocese since 2008, in training, in vetting personnel and in the risk management of Priests against whom allegations have been made.

Nevertheless, the behaviour of Bishop Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan show how fragile even good standards and policies are to the weakness and willful disregard of those
who fail to give the right priority to safeguarding our children.

But if the Vatican needs to get its house in order, so does this State.

The Report of the Commission is rightly critical of the entirely unsatisfactory position which the last Government allowed to persist over many years. The unseemly bickering between the Minister for Children and the HSE over the statutory powers to deal with extra-familial abuse, the failure to produce legislation to enable the exchange of soft information as promised after the Ferns Enquiry, and the long period of confusion and disjointed responsibility for child protection within the HSE, as reported by the Commission, are simply not acceptable in a society which values children and their safety.

For too long Ireland has neglected its children.

Just last week we saw a case of the torture of children, within the family, come before the courts. Just two days ago, we were repulsed by the case of a Donegal registered sex offender…and school caretaker…

Children and young adults reduced to human wreckage. Raising questions and issues of serious import for State agencies.

We are set to embark on a course of action to ensure the State is doing all it can to safeguard our children.

Minister Shatter is bringing forward two pieces of legislation – firstly, to make it an offence to withhold information relating to crimes against children and vulnerable adults; and secondly, at long last, to allow for the exchange of ‘soft information’ on abusers.

As Taoiseach, I want to do all I can to protect the sacred space of childhood and to restore its innocence. Especially our young teenagers, whom I believe to be children. Because regardless of our current economic crisis, the children of this country are, and always will be, our most precious possession of all. Safeguarding their integrity and innocence must be a national priority. This is why I undertook to create a Cabinet ministry for Children and Youth Affairs.

The legislation ‘Children First’ proposes to give our children maximum protection and security without intruding on the hectic, magical business of being a child.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said “Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.”

As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.

Not purely, or simply or otherwise.

CHILDREN…. FIRST.

Our # 1 Problem: Fundamentalism in the Catholic Church

 

Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age

In relating to fundamentalist Catholics we need to avoid hostile or heated arguments.

 

(Particular thanks for these reflections to Father Gerald Arbuckle SM author of Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians: A Postmodern Critique)

Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that the Church never changed, is the foundation for Catholic fundamentalism which is becoming quite a problem in contemporary church leadership.

The fact is: the Church and its teachings have often changed. Over the years some church statements have been shown to be wrong and were either repealed or allowed to lapse.

Here are some characteristics of contemporary Roman Catholic fundamentalism:

  • A highly selective approach to what Catholic fundamentalists think pertains to the Church’s teaching: Statements  on incidental issues are obsessively affirmed, but papal or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered matters for debate only.
  • Concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the  stress on Latin for the liturgy, failing to see that this does not pertain to authentic tradition.
  • The vehemence and intolerance with which they attack co-religionists who are striving to relate the Gospel to the world around them according to Vatican II.
  • Attempts to infiltrate governmental structures of the Church in order to obtain legitimacy for their views and to impose them on the whole Church.
  • An elitist assumption that fundamentalists have a kind of supernatural authority and right to pursue and condemn those who disagree with them, including bishops and theologians.
  • A spirituality in which Jesus Christ is portrayed as an unforgiving and punishing God; the overwhelming compassion and mercy of Christ is overlooked.

WHAT TO DO:

In relating to fundamentalist thoughtful and concerned Catholics need to avoid hostile or heated arguments. Membership in fundamentalist groups is not a question of logic, but generally of a sincere, but misguided, search for meaning and belonging. Expressions of anger and vigorous disagreement will only affirm people in the rightness of their belief. 

Our best witness to the truths of our Catholic beliefs will be our inner peace built on faith, charity and concern for justice, especially among the most marginalized.

Peace to All!

John Greenleaf 

The Restoration of Papal Imperialism: Revisionist Church History and Tunnel Vision Theology

Pope Pius XI warned of the danger in the late 1930s as he saw authoritarian regimes growing in

Italy, Germany, and Spain.

Pius XI in his final public address in 1939, stressed:

The church, the mystical body of Christ has become a monstrosity.

The head is very large, but the body is shrunken. You young priests must rebuild the church and mobilize the lay people.”

 

1. Redefining Magisterium in Pope Benedict’s (revisionist history) reform of the reform

For years “The Ordinary Magisterium,” the teaching office of the Roman Catholic Church was composed of:
The magisterial role of the pope and bishops
The magisterial role of the theologians
The magisterial role of the sensus fidelium

Under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, the magisterial role of  theologians and the sensus fidelium have all but disappeared. Magisterium has been redefined as what the pope and his appointed bishops say

2. Tunnel Vision theology. The old gentleman should know better; but he doesn’t. His theology is not just outdated……It is wrong.

In his latest book, Pope Benedict XVI reaffirmed that the church has “no authority” to ordain women as priests and rejected the idea that the rule was formed only because the church originated in a patriarchal society.

The pope said that man did not produce the form of the church, and does not have the power to change it. Christ gave the form of the priesthood when he chose his male Apostles, he said in the book-interview, “Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times.”

“The church has ‘no authority’ to ordain women. The point is not that we are saying we don’t want to, but that we can’t,” he said. This requires obedience by Catholics today, he added.

Here the Pope is speaking historical and theological nonsense.

3. Canonization of papal theological ideology. Whenever people erect monuments to themselves, red flags go up immediately. Or they should!

Special announcement: Vatican-based foundation to promote study of pope’s theology

With the pope’s agreement and funding, the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI Vatican Foundation has been established to promote theological studies on his writings and to reward promising scholars.

Msgr. Giuseppe Antonio Scotti, president of the foundation, said it was established with just over $3.1 million from the pope. The money represents part of the royalties from the publication of his books; the rest of his royalty income goes to charity, Msgr. Scotti told reporters Nov. 26.

Cardinal Camillo Ruini, retired papal vicar of Rome and president of the new foundation’s scientific committee, said he hoped that someday the “Ratzinger Prizes” in sacred Scripture, patristics and fundamental theology “would be considered as something analogous to a Nobel Prize for theology.”

+++


Asking the critical question – rooted in Catholic history and tradition – is neither improper nor anti-Catholic.

Its is very responsible and loyal Catholic behavior.

Sometimes I wonder if Jesus of Nazareth will be replaced eventually with a Jesus of Rome.

Best regards in this Advent season — as we prepare to celebrate again the birth of JESUS OF NAZARETH!

John W Greenleaf

Sexual Abuse and the Rotten Apple Theory

The press has been positive about Pope Benedict’s state visit to Britain this month. I found it revelatory in many ways.

The Bishop of Rome continues to re-make John Henry Newman in the image and likeness of Joseph Alois Ratzinger; and I think he is less interested in ecumenical dialogue with Canterbury than he is in converting conservative-minded-anti-woman-priest Anglicans and bringing them over to Rome.

What bothered me most about this papal visit, however, were Pope Benedict’s expressions of “great sadness” about revelations of widespread abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests and religious. He stressed that  ”authorities in the church have not been vigilant enough” in combating the problem.

What Pope Benedict meant of course is that the rotten apples were not dumped early enough.

The rotten apple theme song has become an all-time favorite among various national and international church leaders.

Yes it is the rotten apple theory of sexual abuse in the church: dump those rotten apples and we will be back to normal.

The rotten apple theory was originally generated to explain cases of police brutality: any police officer found to be corrupt must promptly be denounced as a rotten apple in an otherwise clean barrel. It must never be admitted that his or her  individual corruption could be symptomatic of an underlying institutional disease that condones, promotes, and trains law enforcement people to rely on brutal force, even when unjust, inhumane and illegal.

Many years ago an old friend, Father Tom Doyle, alerted me to the folly of the rotten apple theory about sexual abuse in the church. And Tom continues to speak out, inform and alert. On my desk I have a well underlined copy of some of his recent “reflections” about clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Some observations that cry out from his text:

(1)   The institutional Catholic Church is truly a stratified society with the bishops as a powerful aristocracy at the top and the laity beneath them. This description is not merely metaphorical but accurately describes the Church’s socio-political structure. In spite of the profound inequity in their respective standing the laity provides one hundred percent of the material/financial support for the clerical sub-culture and the hierarchical government yet lay persons have no effective voice in Church government.

(2)   The laity has the potential to influence the course of the clergy sex abuse saga but thus far they have scarcely realized it. A small but very significant group of laity have been moved to the point of radical action in response to the continuous waves of abuse revelations.

(3)   The majority however are either removed and indifferent or angrily reactive to the revelations of internal Church corruption and the consequent demands for accountability. The complacency or negative reaction of the laity is perplexing in light of the harsh reality of what the clergy abuse “crisis” is all about.

(4)   There is an ideology that provides the basis for the way the papacy and hierarchy have reacted to clergy sexual abuse. This ideology is a combination of theological definitions about the nature of the Church, Canon Law and the theology of human sexuality. And this is where the rotten apple theory falls apart…. You can dump all the rotten apples but the ideology remains imbedded in the institution.

(5)   The completely inappropriate responses of the bishops and clergy to the horrific accounts of all manner of dysfunctional sexual exploitation and their excuses that they did not realize the serious effects of molestation and abuse can be partially explained by the traditional teaching on human sexuality and the impact of mandatory celibacy on the emotional and psycho-sexual formation of clerics. In other words this teaching so distorted the nature of human sexuality that clerics failed to comprehend the destructive nature of sexual exploitation.


John Greenleaf is back…

Four main reflections at the end of the summer:

 

(1) The old-time Inquistition is alive and well in our contemporary US Catholic Church

 

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced that a group of Catholics planning a “synod” for church “reform” is not associated with the Catholic Church, cautioning the faithful that the group is trying to change magisterial teachings of the Church that all Catholics must believe. 

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement from its Committee on Doctrine, headed by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, regarding the book, “The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology.” The statement noted that the book “does not offer minor revisions to a few points of Catholic sexual ethics,” but rather, “the authors insist that the moral theology of the Catholic tradition dealing with sexual matters is now as a whole obsolete and inadequate and that it must be re-founded on a different basis.” Consequently, it continued, the authors, Creighton University professors Todd Salzman and Michael Lawler, “argue that the teaching of the magisterium is based on this flawed ‘traditional theology’ and must likewise be substantially changed.”

(2) John Henry Newman has been beatified and his feast day is the date he left Canturbury for Rome. Great ecumenical sign for sure. What is also very clear is that John Henry Newman is now being re-made in the image and likeness of Joseph Alois Ratzinger.

(3) During summer travels in Eastern Europe, I discoverd that the Catholic Church in Croatia is strong, and wealthy, powerful and arrogant — and well ensconced in a nineteenth century Catholic ethos. When people complained that one local bishop was out of touch with the contemporary world, he shouted out in his cathedral: “If they don’t like what I am doing, they can leave right now!”

(4) And then in little Belgium. Another pedophilia explosion. The PR people for the new archbishop are saying the scandal is really the fault of a few rotten-apple priests and religious and has been greatly exaggerated by an anti-Catholic media campaign. To date three bishops in Flemish Belgium have said it is time to drop celibacy as a requirement for ordination. The new archbishop has replied that he does not think this is an oppportune moment for such a discussion.

 

The kids are back in school. The nuts are falling from their trees. The pope is back in Rome. And it is indeed time for ANOTHER VOICE once again!

 

 

Is the Roman Catholic Church Lost at Sea?

The Bark of Peter, it seems,  is drifting somewhere these days with neither map nor compass.

The Lord has not abandoned the People of God; but our institutional leaders have lost their bearings.

A quick summary of what’s been happening……

(1) Sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy and religious and the episcopal cover-up of  that rape and sodomy are now a systemic deformity in the global church. Put a pin in your globe for every country where Roman Catholic sexual abuse has been acknowledged and you have a sieve not a globe. Austria, the USA, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Belgium, Chile, Brazil, India, Italy – you can add a new country every day with your morning coffee and newspaper.

(2) And then we have the still-to-be-revealed other forms of sexual abuse. Certainly the Vatican knows about the practice in some parts of Africa where women religious are expected to help priests relieve their sexual tensions with special attentiveness: young “brides of Christ” turned into present day temple prostitutes, with a covert snicker from church authorities.

(3) And certainly the Vatican knows about those prominent bishops, archbishops and cardinals – often publicly homophobic – who have an inordinate fondness for androgynous young seminarians.

(4) Roman Catholic hierarchical credibility is at an all-time low. If one is a “successor of the Apostles,” the expectation is that the fellow (officially we have only fellows who are successors of the Apostles in the Church of Rome) carries on and lives the faith, ministry, and witness of the Apostles. Far too many members of our hierarchy today have the imposition of hands but their actions and attitudes seem terribly distant from those of the Carpenter from Nazareth and his band of faithful followers. The moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church’s leadership has never been weaker. The men dressed in purple and red have sold their souls to self-protective power, control, and arrogant privilege and prestige.

(5) The Dean of the College of Cardinals (and former Secretary of State under Pope John Paul II) Angelo Sodano complained on Easter Sunday that news reports about sexual abuse in the Church were petty gossip. That same old gentleman was long-time friend and supporter of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, Founder of the Legionaires of  Christ and a favorite of John Paul the Great.

Some fellow that Father Degollado: when he had abdominal cramps, invited seminarians to his room to masturbate him.  At   other times of physical and psychological malaise, Degollado penetrated and masturbated seminarians. Good at sexual multi-tasking, Father Marcial also fathered at least one child and (according to his son’s testimony) sexually abused his own son. But perhaps Cardinal Sodano would say this is just more petty gossip.

(6) According to Cardinal Darió Castrillón Hoyos, former prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, sexual abuse is just a fact of life; and lawyers and the media have unfairly focused on it. In 2001 he praised a French bishop for breaking the law and refusing to hand-over to civil authorities a priest engaged in the sexual abuse of minors.

(7) Increasingly our bishops and cardinals parade around and process down the central aisles of churches and cathedrals like princes in some medieval royal court. Twenty-feet-long red trains are now in vogue as episcopal haute couture. And Jesus only complained about tassels and phylacteries! 

            The signs of the times call for creative action and deep and serious planning for the future.

As an institution we seem to have all our engines running full-speed in reverse.

The Roman Catholic institutional regression began with the election of Pope John Paul II. And now under Cardinal Ratziner-become Pope Benedict XVI and his “reform of the reform” we are moving back to a nineteenth century Roman Catholic ethos that stresses power and control and demands unquestioning obedience to Rome.

 Pope John XXIII opened the church’s windows to the contemporary world; and the council he inaugurated stressed collegiality and shared decision-making at all levels in the Church. Pope Benedict XVI is nailing those windows tightly shut. All roads now go in one direction back to Rome.

Joseph Ratzinger’s institutional church is a centralized power structure which controls everything in the Catholic Church through a network of Vatican congregations controlled by a group of old men who demand strict compliance to what they deem orthodox. Censure and punishment await the disobedient. Control and command have replaced conversation and persuasion.

Most recently Pope Benedict has announced the creation of a new department at the Vatican: the Pontifical Council for New Evangelization. The Pope hopes his new office will clear up the problems created by secularism out there in Western Europe and the United States.

I think the Pope should focus first of all on the problems at home: in the very heart of his institutional superstructure.

Some readers have accussed me of being both anti-Catholic and anti-hierarchy.

NOT TRUE!

I just want the Church to be what it should be:

TRULY   CHRISTIAN    AND    TRULY    CONTEMPORARY

    

 

 

 

The Lord has not abandoned the People of God; but our institutional leaders have lost their bearings. The Bark of Peter, it seems,  is drifting somewhere these days with neither map nor compass.

 

The Vatican Nightmare: WOMEN PRIESTS!

Something in Vatican DNA reacts negatively towards women.

But it was not always so……..

 

When it comes to the Vatican’s current attitude toward women in the church, I think of George Orwell’s famous line from Animal Farm that “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others”. 

(1)   The Vatican is preparing to update the 2001 norms that deal with priestly sex abuse of minors, in effect codifying practices that have been in place for several years. At the same time, it will include the “attempted ordination of women” among the list of most serious crimes against church law, or “delicta graviora,” sources said.

(2)   Vatican opposition to women’s ordination is reprehensible and absolute theological nonsense.

(3)   The old men at the Vatican (well young men at the Vatican as well!)  need some serious in-service updating about women in Christian history.

_________________________________

What we know……………………..

Women in the ministry of Jesus: Jesus broke established religious and cultural taboes about women.

  • In stark contrast to the rabbis of his day, Jesus often used women as illustrations in his teaching.
  • He dared walk out to and speak to the Samaritan woman at the well in the heat of the day. He offered her living water. She talked to her neighbors and many of them believed in Jesus “because of the woman’s testimony” (John 4:28-29, 39).
  • Most Jewish and Greek men had negative views of women, but Jesus treated women with dignity and respect.
  • He healed various women, cast demons out of them, and raised their children from the dead.
  • The rabbis said that women should not be taught Scripture, but Mary (criticized by older sister Martha) rejects the typically female role, becomes a disciple learning at the feet of Rabbi Jesus. His response:  “Mary has chosen what is better.”
  • He protected the woman about to be stoned to death.
  • Women were the first witnesses to the Resurrection.

Women in ministry in the early Christian community

  • Following the example set by Jesus, women were acknowledged and respected as leaders in early Christian communities.
  • Euodia and Syntyche are called Paul’s fellow-workers in proclaiming the Gospel.
  • Priscilla (Prisca), Junia, Julia, and Nereus’ sister are all key leaders in the Christian community.
  • Paul praises Junia (or Junias) as “prominent among the apostles.”
  • For Paul and the early church: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Ordination and Eucharist in the early church 

  • Ordination as we know it did not exist in the early Christian church.
  • The “Twelve” were not ordained by Jesus at the Last Supper.
  • (Parenthetical remark: I find it comical and sadly stupid the way even some “informed” people posit events at the Last Supper based on what they see in the 15th century mural painting in Milan created by Leonardo da Vinci.)
  • The person who presided at Eucharist in early Christian communities was the head of the household or the leader recognized by the community.
  • Even when important visitors, like Paul,  came to visit and address the community – an early form of “apostolic visitation” – the person who presided at Eucharist was the community leader.
  • We know of course that women were heads of households and the acknowledged leaders in early Christian communities.

Women and ordination in later church history

  • There is now abundant historic evidence that right up into the late Middle Ages women in the church were ordained to diaconal, presbyteral and episcopal ministry. (See for instance The Hidden History of Women’s Ordination by Gary Macy)
  • In a great number of Christian communities today women are ministering as ordained ministers.
  • And of course there is an ever-increasing number of Roman Catholic women who are now ministering very effectively as women priests.

There is no valid excuse

for

Vatican patriarchy, misogyny and opposition to women’s ordination in the Roman Catholic Church.

RIP William R. Callahan: Champion of Social Justice

Rev. William R. Callahan, an international leader in movements for social justice, peace, and reform of the Roman Catholic Church,

died on Monday, July 5th in Washington, DC

In 1976, together with Dolly Pomerleau and Jesuit Bill Michelman, he founded the Quixote Center, where – as he put it – “people could dream impossible dreams of justice and make them come true.”

In 1980, Bill was silenced by the Jesuits on the issue of women’s ordination, but resumed his public stance a year later. 

In the late 1980s, he founded Catholics Speak Out, a project of the Quixote Center that encouraged lay Catholics to take adult responsibility for the direction of their church.

In 1989, the New England Province of the Jesuits, at the direction of the Vatican, threatened Bill with dismissal unless he severed his ties with the Quixote Center, Priests for Equality, and Catholics Speak Out, and returned to Boston.

He was dismissed from the Society of Jesus in the early 1990’s. 

Over the years, Bill guided many projects that the Quixote Center initiated.  These include: New Ways Ministry, a gay-positive ministry of advocacy and justice for lesbian and gay Catholics, the successful Karen Silkwood case on nuclear safety issues (completed by the Christic Institute), and Equal Justice/USA – a project opposing the death penalty.

Bill, far better than many Catholic leaders, understood the tension between laws and justice. Laws vary from time to time and place to place. Justice is unconditional. Laws are real but justice is a spirit that haunts laws and those who make and enforce laws.

People with enough power and influence often violate the demands of justice under the protection of the law and persecute the just.

The George W. Bush administration did it every day by unjustly making the poor poorer, by shrinking the size of the middle class, and by  filling the pockets of the rich with perfectly legal tax breaks.

The Christian Right — among whom are far too many prominent Roman Catholics — calls for law and order but makes hardly any mention of the biblical demands for social justice: justice for people forced to move to a foreign land to squeeze out a meager living. Justice for people caught in the poverty of inner-city life. Justice for people forced to work for below-subsistence wages and with no health care.

The God of forgiveness, mercy, compassion, and JUSTICE shines like a bright spotlight on the hypocrisy of those who, under the cover of God and in the name of Jesus, oppress the most defenseless people in our society.

In the Gospels the only time we see an angry Jesus is when he shows his anger at the hypocrisy of religious authorities who made a living denouncing sin while thriving in and concealing their own corruption. And they did it all, like those bishops today who cover-up sexual abuse of children, in the name of God.

A prophet is not someone who sees the future but a man or woman who warns about the consequences in the future of a present evil.

A prophet hears the call of justice as a human cry for help and the beating of a human heart.

Let us thank God for prophets like William R. Callahan and may we be inspired and encouraged by his example and memory.

 

What Rome Never Understood: From Power and Control to the Reign of God

The Roman crucifixion of Jesus is the iconic and ironic symbol of today’s deeply troubled Church.

 

A brief meditation about Sacred irony

 

With cruel mockery, the Romans labeled Jesus “King of the Jews.” The crucified Jesus proclaimed for all time the essence of genuine Christian belief: the Reign of God — the Way of Jesus —  is not about the strong-arm rule of power and control.

In the Reign of God the weak are strong. God’s Reign —  rule of Jesus —  invites and extolls  self-giving, patient listenting, tolerance, understanding, and forgiveness.

Some Christians just never seem to hear or understand what authentic belief is all about.

Christianity is about the powerless power of the Reign of God. And that powerless power reigns wherever the questioning, the least and the most undesirable are favored while the most orthodox and the most powerful are put on the defensive.

When the institutional Church degenerates into the nineteenth century Catholic ethos, it regresses into a sinister and deeply un-Chritsian lifestyle.

No. It is not just a question of a diffent theology or a different ecclesiology. It is a matter of poor theology and bad ecclesiology.

The Rule of Rome is not the Way of Jesus.

Without a change of heart, our old instituition risks the loss of of its immortal soul…..