Thoughts As We Prepare for Easter

March 21, 2012 at 20:01 2 comments

Thoughts on the approach of Easter. Lately I have been helping out in various parishes as they do what they can to help folks prepare for Easter. I have noticed several common threads.

There is a sense of anger and frustration among women who feel the Church considers them second class citizens since they cannot be ordained priests, and that the subject of women priests is not allowed even to be discussed. Also, anger that in the matter of contraception, while most catholics do not agree with or follow the Church’s teaching on contraception, the discussion is being led and controlled by men, most of whom are unmarried and who know nothing about women other than what they have read in book or seen in movies. A number of women say they feel like they have been violated.

There is a sense of anger among folks of all ages and living situations (married, single, students, clergy) who are angry at the new missal translation and how it was forced or foisted on the church by a few men in the Vatican.

There is anger at how the bishops mishandled and are still mishandling the clergy sex abuse matter. Why are bishops still in their jobs after all they did to cover things up?

There is a strong sense of anger at the way the bishops are perceived to be demonizing gay lesbian bisexual and transgender folks, who are our children and our friends. Why do I want to stay in a church that treats my son, my daughter, my friends like that? Do these celibate men have any idea what love really is? And they claim to speak in Jesus’ name.

There is a sense of anger that the bishops are trying to force their views on folks who are not catholic, on the general public by getting laws passed that favor their views. And they are doing it by interfering with and lobbying the legislative process. If they are acting like this, they are getting involved in politics and they ought to lose their tax-exempt status.

There is a sense of anger that the bishops seem to believe that only they have the truth about anything. Some of them think they are qualified to make medical decisions that differ from decisions made by real doctors. They do the thinking and we are supposed to accept their decisions gratefully and do whatever they tell us, even in the most intimate parts of our lives. Anybody who disagrees with them about anything is wrong, and if they make too much noise they will be threatened or excommunicated. They take our money that we put in the collection and use it to promote their own agenda whether we, who give the money, agree with their agenda or not.

There is anger at the perception that the bishops’ understanding of freedom of conscience means that only their views and their rights are legitimate and can be protected. Religious liberty applies only to what the bishops want. Folks have to do what the bishops say, ignoring their own conscience which, if they disagree with the bishops, is automatically in error.

Locally there is still a lot of hurt over the bishop’s closing of so many parishes. There is anger at the perception that he was not truthful with the folks as he formed the clusters, gave the impression that he would go along with what the clusters recommended, and then, he did not. The perception was that he had his mind made up, and his focus was money. Also, he has destroyed the ethnic character of our diocese and city.

The recent Vatican reversal of fourteen parish closures has injected some hope into the folks, but, since the bishop is not saying anything other than he will consult with his advisors, nothing will change.

Also, there is a lot of concern, especially among the priests, about the bishop’s capital campaign and the way it is being run.

Locally there are folks who say the notions discussed here are wrong, and if anybody really feels any of these angers, they should not, because they don’t know the whole story. “Downtown” seems either to be unaware of the depth of these angers, in denial of them, or hoping they will go away.

I have been surprised both at the extent of the anger across the spectrum of the Church, local, national, worldwide, and at its intensity. Whether the perceptions underlying these angers are accurate is not the issue. Perceptions, accurate or not, are reality. People are angry. Also, there is anger at folks who have been expressing their anger. There seems to be a common thread that, no matter what the issue, my view, whatever is, is the only right one, and everybody who disagrees with me is wrong. This seems to indicate there is a lot of hurt among the folks in the pews, as well as the folks who used to be in the pews. A legitimate question might be why would anyone want to become, or remain, a member of an organization that has so much anger?

It would, I think, be wrong to simply dismiss these angers simply by saying folks shouldn’t be angry, or by coming up with logical explanations why these angers are not appropriate. What is, is. Folks are angry. Pastorally, all of us have to deal with it.

Our faith teaches us that grace is real, that everything somehow is of Christ and points to Christ. How do we live this? Finger pointing doesn’t work. We could probably just keep on with what we have been doing, pretending the anger isn’t there, the bishops are always right and have everything under control, are laying down new requirements, and all is well, and any who are angry should just leave. There are models for this approach in the gospels – they are called Scribes and Pharisees.


Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Current Church, Gospel thoughts, New Missal, Priest. Tags: , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ray Sutter  |  March 23, 2012 at 16:30

    In our parish, there was a parishioner who said she loved our parish community but because her son was gay, she could no longer be part of an organization who considers her son, whom she loves, to be “disordered”.

    • 2. phrogge  |  March 23, 2012 at 19:04

      Ray, all in the name of Jesus, no doubt. The wonderful people who gave us the “disordered” label must think they are acting the way Jesus would act if he had all the facts. Somewhere along the line there might be a disconnect. Is someone reaching out to your parishioner and her son?


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