The Detroit archbishop’s recent comments about communion and support for same sex marriage is still sparking debate among Catholics. Now a local priest is speaking out publicly against the archbishop’s approach.
“Don’t stop going to communion. You’re okay,” said Retired Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Thomas Gumbleton.
Long a progressive voice in Detroit’s Catholic community, Gumbleton is breaking with Archbishop Allen Vigneron days after Vigneron declared that supporters of same-sex marriage should refrain from receiving Holy Communion, comparing it to perjury.
“If you look at it from a pastoral point of view where you’re trying to reach out to people, trying to draw them in, then the last thing you want to do is impose a penalty or make them feel like they have to impose a penalty upon themselves,” Gumbleton said.
The bishop says the church’s approach should be pastoral not punitive. Just this week, he counseled a couple with a gay son.
“Husband, wife, raised seven children, Catholics all their lives, they’re in their eighties now, and the mother says to me, you know I can’t go to communion anymore,” said Gumbleton. “They’re hurt and she’s crying because we can’t go communion and that means so much to them.”
Gumbleton says it’s a matter of conscience, which is deeply personal.
“Not everybody’s going to come to the same conclusion at the same time, so we have to keep on working with people and trusting people that they’re trying to do the right thing,” he remarked.
Gumbleton read from a pastoral letter penned years ago at a bishop’s conference called “Always Our Children.”
“Judging the sinfulness of any particular act is a matter ultimately between God and the individual person.”
He also says that an individual person must choose whether or not to receive communion.
“Their conscience is the ultimate voice they have to follow,” Gumbleton explained. “A person coming up to communion has a right to make their own decision about am I in a state of grace?… Am I ready to receive? Well, that’s for the person to decide not for the minister or not for any bishop.”
….………as reported in FOX 2 NEWS in Detroit
ANOTHER VOICE is now on Twitter…….following papal example 🙂
Listening to Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program on July 25th, I heard the voce of Catholic fundamentalism. It is a dangerously arrogant voice; and we hear it ever more frequently in episcopal rhetoric.
Bishop Blair believes firmly that the bishops have the truth and the LCWR sisters need to conform and adhere to it. No one in fact has all the truth; and we should all be in respectful dialogue. But dialogue for Bishop Blair is not genuine dialogue. For him it appears to be more like a monologue demanding loyal submission of intellect and will.
On the dialogue that the LCWR would like to have with the Vatican, Bishop Blair said in the NPR interview: “If by dialogue, they mean that the doctrines of the church are negotiable, and that the bishops represent one position and the LCWR represents another position and somehow we find a middle ground about basic church teaching on faith and morals, then no, I don’t think that’s the dialogue the Holy See would envision. But if it’s a dialogue about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching and to implement it in their discussions, and try to heal some of the questions or concerns they have about these issues, that would be the dialogue.”
When the subject of women’s ordination came up, the Toledo bishop made statements that are simply wrong. I will explain in a minute what I mean. First Bishop Blair’s statement: “The church doesn’t say that the ordination of women is not possible because somehow women are unfit to carry out functions of the priest, but because on the level of sacramental signs, it’s not the choice that our Lord made when it comes to those who act in his very person, as the church’s bridegroom. And you can say that sounds like a lot of poetry or you know, how do we know that’s true, but if you’re a Catholic, this is part of our sacraments and practice for two millennia, and it’s not just an arbitrary decision of male oppression over women.”
Now why the bishop is dead wrong.
(1) Jesus did not ordain ANYONE! In the church’s first century, ordination, as we know it, did not exist.
(2) There is now ample and clear historic evidence that demonstrates beyond a doubt that women did in fact preside at Eucharist in early Christian communities; and women were called “apostles” by St. Paul and other early church leaders.
(3) And (as I indicated in an earlier post) there is also solid historic evidence that women were ORDAINED and functioned as deacons and priests even into the Middle Ages.
Yes…..Fundamentalism is hardly confined to just Islamic religion and is found in all societies and religions, including Roman Catholic Christianity; and the virus of Roman Catholic fundamentalism is pernicious, self-righteous, and devilishly destructive….
Increasingly, Roman Catholic fundamentalism (one need only reflect on many a red-faced outburst from the Cardinal Archbishop of New York) is a form of organized anger in reaction to social and religious change.
Fundamentalists find change emotionally disturbing and dangerous. Cultural, personal, and institutional religious “certitudes” are shaken. Today’s Catholic fundamentalists, like Cardinal Raymond Burke wrapped in his medieval cappa magna (picture below) pushing to bring back the Latin liturgy of the Council of Trent, yearn to return to a utopian past or a golden age, purified of “dangerous” contemporary ideas and practices.
Todays Catholic fundamentalists, like supporters of Pope Benedict’s New Evangelization, have aggressively banded together in order to put things right again – according to “orthodox” principles. They want to get things back to “normal”….Or as Bishop Blair said: dialogue is “about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching.”
Today’s Catholic fundamentalists are still troubled by: (1) the cultural revolution of the 1960s that questioned all institutions and brought profound social, economic and political consequences that continue to this day; and (2) the impact and immense cultural changes generated by the much-needed reforms of Second Vatican Council.
Catholic fundamentalism is becoming a powerful movement in the church to restore uncritically pre-Vatican II structures and attitudes.
Here are some clear signs of contemporary Catholic fundamentalism:
(1) Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that the church never changed, was then a powerful force in the world, undivided by the post 1960s misguided devotees of the Vatican II values. In fact, we know for certain that the church and its teachings have often changed. Some church statements have been shown to be wrong and were repealed or allowed to lapse.
(2) A highly selective approach to what fundamentalists think pertains to church teaching and belief. Statements about sexual ethics, for instance, are obsessively affirmed. At the same time, papal, conciliar, or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered simply matters for debate.
(3) An exaggerated concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the Cardinal Burkes stress Latin for the Eucharist, failing to see that this does not pertain at all to the church’s authentic tradition.
(4) Vehemence and intolerance in attacking people like LCWR who are striving to relate the Gospel to the world around them according to the insights and teachings of Vatican II.
(5) An elitist assumption that Catholic fundamentalists have a kind of supernatural authority and the right to pursue and condemn Catholics who disagree with them, especially “radical feminists” and theologians.
(6) A spirituality which overlooks the humanity, compassion, and mercy of Christ and stresses in its place an unbending and punishing taskmaster God.
Remember: Membership in Catholic fundamentalist groups is not a question of logic, but an often sincere, but misguided, search for meaning and belonging.
If we react to Catholic fundamentalists with heated expressions of anger we will only confirm them about the rightness of their beliefs.
Our best witness to the truths of our Catholic beliefs, as they continue to be explored and developed, is our own inner peace built on faith, charity, and concern for justice, especially among the most marginalized.
And a closing biblical refection:
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28; cf. Mark 10:42-45 and Luke 22:25-27)
Give us the wisdom, strength, and courage of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli!
Shortly after becoming Pope John XXIII in 1958, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli announced he would call for a second Vatican Council. Immediate reactions were mixed. Leading people in the Curia Romana were negative. Even Giovanni Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI. Montini remarked to a friend: “This holy old boy doesn’t realize what a hornet’s nest he’s stirring up.”
John realized very well of course exactly what he was doing……
Pope John’s frequent habit of sneaking out of the Vatican late at night to walk the streets of the city of Rome earned him the nickname “Johnny Walker.”
Very different from his current successor whose nicknames are “God’s rottweiler,” “the Enforcer,” and the “Panzer Pope.”
Pope John was an action man. Fifty years ago he was losing patience with the narrow-minded bureaucratic ecclesiastics at the Vatican. “The time has come,” he told the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Cicognani, ” to put an end to this nonsense.”
“Either the Biblical Commission will bestir itself, do some proper work….and make a useful contribution to the needs of the present time,” John said, or “it would be better to abolish it….”
Pope John was angry at the backward, literalistic views of the Biblical Commission and its attacks against Cardinal Agustin Bea, Rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where progressive approaches to biblical scholarship were favored.
Come Holy Spirit!
Help us put an end to contemporary church nonsense!
Come Holy Spirit!
Bless those who question, search, and challenge!
Come Holy Spirit!
Fill us with the faith and courage that animated Pope John!
There is a sinister spirit pontificating in contemporary Roman Catholic leadership. It is a kind of religious fundamentalism; and it is unwelcome, unhealthy, and unacceptable.
In the name of orthodoxy, today’s Catholic fundamentalists condemn and denigrate believers who study, ask questions, and call for a serious discussion. Increasingly silent about about sexual abuse in the church, and about past and present episcopal complicity in sexual abuse, they shout instead about the evils of questioning celibacy for ordained ministers, respecting the nature and dignity of gay men and women, and asking why women cannot be ordained.
Men in Renaissance robes who loudly proclaim “respect or life” are working overtime to squeeze every bit of life out of their church. People who challenge their authoritarian crack-down are labeled “disobedient,” or “anti-Catholic,” or “in grave sin.” Priests are silenced and removed from leadership positions and theologians are condemned, often without any genuine discussion about their research and thought. There is a major Catholic exodus from the church and our bishops applaud it as a necessary institutional purification.
We are not living in the middle ages. Every man and every woman has dignity and rights: to be, to enquire, to think, and to express one’s thoughts.
And every Roman Catholic man and every Roman Catholic woman has rights stated and guaranteed in Roman Catholic Church law.
Here a few significant Catholic rights (and the number of the canon in church law that affirms it):
All Catholics have the right to follow their informed consciences in all matters. (C. 748.1)
Officers of the Church have the right to teach on matters both of private and public morality only after wide consultation with the faithful prior to the formulation of the teaching.4 (C. 212, C. 747, C. 749, C. 752, C. 774.1)
Decision-making and Dissent
All Catholics have the right to a voice in all decisions that affect them, including the choosing of their leaders. (C. 212:3)
All Catholics have the right to have their leaders accountable to them. (C. 492, C. 1287.2)
All Catholics have the right to form voluntary associations to pursue Catholic aims including the right to worship together; such associations have the right to decide on their own rules of governance. (C. 215, C. 299, C. 300, C. 305, C. 309)
All Catholics have the right to express publicly their dissent in regard to decisions made by Church authorities. (C. 212:3, C. 218, C. 753)
All Catholics have the right to be dealt with according to commonly accepted norms of fair administrative and judicial procedures without undue delay. (C. 221:1,2,3, C. 223, 1,2)
All Catholics have the right to redress of grievances through regular procedures of law. (C. 221:1,2,3, C. 223:1,2)
All Catholics have the right not to have their good reputations impugned or their privacy violated. (C. 220)
Ministries and Spirituality
All Catholics have the right to receive from the Church those ministries which are needed for the living of a fully Christian life, including:
a) Instruction in the Catholic tradition and the presentation of moral teaching in a way that promotes the helpfulness and relevance of Christian values to contemporary life. (C.229:1,2)
b) Worship which reflects the joys and concerns of the gathered community and instructs and inspires it.
c) Pastoral counseling that applies with love and effectiveness the Christian heritage to persons in particular situations. (C. 213, C. 217)
Catholic teachers of theology have a right to responsible academic freedom. The acceptability of their teaching is to be judged in dialogue with their peers, keeping in mind the legitimacy of responsible dissent and pluralism of belief. (C. 212:1, C. 218, C. 750, C. 752, C. 754, C. 279:1, C. 810, C. 812)
Social and Cultural Rights
All Catholics have the right to freedom in political matters. (C. 227)
All Catholics have the right to follow their informed consciences in working for justice and peace in the world. (C. 225:2)
All employees of the Church have the right to decent working conditions and just wages. They also have the right not to have their employment terminated without due process. (C. 231:2)
Theologians can be a “curse and affliction upon the church,” according Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Doctrine.
Thomas Weinandy remember is director of the bishops’ committee that recently condemned Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s book on the Trinity, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God. Weinandy’s committee said Elizabeth Johnson’s book “completely undermines the Gospel and the faith of those who believe in the Gospel.” Strange talk from a fellow who is supposed to know what theology is all about.
The Board of Directors for the Catholic Theological Society of America responded to the USCCB Committee’s critique by noting that Weinandy’s committee demonstrated a “deficient” reading of Professor Johnson’s work as well as a “narrow understanding” of the work of theologians.
In their statement the board of directors stressed, what any good theologian should know and understand:
Theologians throughout history have promulgated the riches of the Catholic tradition by venturing new ways to imagine and express the mystery of God and the economy of salvation revealed in Scripture and Tradition. This is a Catholic style of theological reflection that very many Catholic theologians continue to practice today. The teaching of the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) is especially eloquent on this responsibility:
“From the beginning of its history [the church] has learned to express Christ’s message in the concepts and languages of various peoples, and it has also tried to throw light on it through the wisdom of philosophers, aiming so far as was proper to suit the gospel to the grasp of everyone as well as to the expectations of the wise. This adaptation in preaching the revealed word should remain the law of all evangelisation.… It is for God’s people as a whole, with the help of the holy Spirit, and especially for pastors and theologians, to listen to the various voices of our day, discerning them and interpreting them, and to evaluate them in the light of the divine word, so that the revealed truth can be increasingly appropriated, better understood and more suitably expressed.” (#44)
USCCB theologian Weinandy, on the other hand, sees theologians as propagandists for the institutional church. Their responsibility, says Weinandy is one of “promoting, advancing and defending” philosophical and theological truth as taught by the church.
In fact…..ever since Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), Catholic theologians have clearly understood the theological task as one of “Faith seeking understanding.”
If Thomas Weinandy and his committee were my students I would send them all back to school: for remedial theological education.