July 25 2011, Meanderings

July 25, 2011 at 18:59 1 comment


Lots going on in my head these days. I have some opinions, and I am writing them here. That is all this is – me meandering through some of my opinions, kind of thinking out loud. Just sayin . . .

CTA mentions a letter signed by some 165 priests to the Superior General of Maryknoll in which they voice their support for Fr Bourgeois’ right to express himself. I believe he has the right to speak his mind. His taking part in the ordination of women is another matter. I have no problem with ordaining women. While I might from time to time express my opinion privately or even publicly in certain settings, I would not preach it, nor would I take part in the ordination ceremony for a woman priest. I would not preach my opinions during Mass because the people celebrating Eucharist have the right to a homily on the Gospel, which my discussing this probably would not be.

I hesitate to sign the letter from CTA because I am not sure what the repercussions would be for me locally. This strikes me as an act of cowardice on my part. I am having an intense discussion with myself. All I can lose is the faculty to celebrate Mass publicly. Either I believe or I don’t believe. Either I have the courage of my convictions or I don’t. I don’t think I am being faithful to the Army Values here.

I resent the church leadership telling Catholics what we can and cannot discuss. I resent bishops telling priests who disagree with the church on certain matters that they can lose their pension, livelihood, or assignment unless they remain silent on whatever the issue may be. There seems to be a lot of anecdotal evidence that this is really happening. I understand why so many priests are afraid to say anything. They have a lot to lose, and some bishops can be pretty vindictive. A number of police officers have mentioned to me that crooks they arrest on the street have more rights than priests have. Priests aren’t much different from indentured servants. I am independent. I have a pension. I wonder if this gives me more responsibility to say what I believe as a gesture of respect for those who cannot say what they believe? It seems to me that respect, honor, and integrity are in play here.  Now what?

I resent the promptness with which the church disciplines a priest or bishop who speaks on a forbidden topic, eg, ordination of women, optional celibacy, same sex marriage, etc, while being far less swift in dealing with priests who have abused children and bishops who have covered for them.

I applaud the Irish Taoiseach in his remarks that the Vatican had been downplaying the mistreatment of children in order to uphold its own power and reputation. There seems to be evidence that the Vatican had actually interfered in the Irish government’s investigation of the mess. It looks to me that power and its protection is the guiding principle of the church leadership, and not only in Ireland.

I believe in free speech. I believe in the separation of church and state. I do not think any religion has to right to impose their beliefs, however noble, on the general citizenry through laws. I believe the Gospel is proposed, never imposed. If we impose our beliefs on our fellow citizens through laws which we have lobbied to enact, other religious traditions can do the same to us. We are all equal. How would we like to have sharia, a tradition in the Muslim faith, imposed on us? If we think our values are worthwhile for others, we might try to live them ourselves, perhaps teach by example. The Infantry School teaches this well – “Follow Me!”

There is the idea of same sex marriage. The Church opposes this, and is trying to impose her will and teachings on the citizenry through law. What about other traditions who favor same sex marriages? What are their rights? The Church can make all the rules she wants about marriage in the Church, but I don’t believe they can be forced on people who are not Catholics. There are enough rules about marriage in the church already, and they treat some wonderful people pretty shabbily. Where is Jesus in all this?

The notion that women cannot be priests is to me, at least, in the same category as women not being allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia, and makes just as much sense.

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Entry filed under: Catholic, Current Church, Gospel thoughts, Priest, retirement.

July 3 2011, Gospel Wonderings 28 November 2011, Thoughts on the New Missal, etc

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Jim Dubik  |  August 2, 2011 at 07:20

    This exposes a very thoughtful interior dialogue. That itself is a display of courage.

    I must say as a lay Catholic that i understand the Church in two senses. First, the Church is us, the Body of Christ, the believers, the seekers, those on the journey of faith. In this sense, we must talk to one another, opennly and honestly. We grow closer when we do that.Our faith is a living faith. We can only live in the here and now where things are changing rapidly. Our faith in Christ and his message is our constant, our way, our truth, and our light. But we must apply it to our lives as they are and to our social conditions as they are as well.

    This Church, I believe, is the Church of all and the Church for all times. It has been amazingly stable and adaptive throughout the centruies. This is the Chruch of perpetual life. In Thomistic terms, this is essence.

    Second, the Church is the structure and hierarchy that has grown up around the first Church. This Church, in my mind, consists of the human instituttions, regulations, processes, and systems that are necessary to govern a very diverse, global community. While founded upon the Gospel, it’s runnings are mostly the result of man.

    This is the Church of power, protection or perogative, and imposition of will. This is not, again in my mind, the perpetual Church. This Church merely reflects what we need for communal life, and what we need changes as that communal life changes. Again, in Thomistic language, this is accident.

    Not accident in the sense that diminishes the ultimate foundation of our community on Peter and his charge from Christ. But accident in that what grew up around Peter’s successors has been mostly human construction reflecting the ways people believed a large institution must function and the ways people understood the definition of leadership and followership.

    There ae many varieties of institutional models, many ways in which institutions–even diverse and global ones like our Church–can function. The understanding of leadership and followership is also a diverse understanding. OUr Church is not a corporation, but it does have corporate-like functions, processes, rules, and systems. These are not essence; these are accidents.

    What’s at risk, as I watch global trends, is that we mistake the accident for the essence. We are facing a cirisis in the essence of our Church, the community of believers. This Church–the Church of the first sense–is being rocked, not by the elements of failth, but by the conduct of leaders, processes, rules, and systems. We are risking essence for the sake of accident, risking the Diviine for the sake of the human.

    Reply

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