4 July 2012, Thoughts on Recent Church Events

July 4, 2012 at 16:48 3 comments

There has been a lot lately about the Fortnight for Freedom sponsored by American bishops in opposition to what they see as an attack on Americans’ religious freedom. The bishops are complaining that they are the victims of religious persecution, some going so far as to complain their civil rights are being violated. I just don’t buy all that. I don’t see how there is any attack on religious freedom. It looks to me that the bishops are trying to impose their views and values on others who are not catholic, and that what is being attacked is their perceived right to do this.

It probably doesn’t help that I just listened to the Declaration of Independence read on Public Radio. There seem to be a lot of similarities to what the bishops and other church “leaders” are doing these days. I realize that it is “dangerous” to have an opinion that does not go along with the zealous folks who side with the bishops. Oh, well  .   .   .

When one side on any issue claims that their interpretation is the only true and valid interpretation there is no chance for honest and open dialogue. But, honest and open dialogue, based on mutual respect and the willingness to see the truth in someone else’s position, contains the possibility for growth in truth. That has been my experience, especially during my first tour on active duty, but also in my second. There were just different areas of dialogue.

It is good to know that we catholics are the only ones who have any religious rights these days. Any who disagree with us on the hot button issues — same sex marriage, contraception, sexual orientation, the HHS mandate as it is interpreted (perhaps not all that accurately) by the bishops and their followers, etc. — are in error, and error has no rights, so there. This includes not only folks who are not catholics, but also catholics who dare to have original thoughts. Isn’t that wonderful. God agrees with us, and with God agreeing with us and on our side, how can we be wrong? And so we can threaten any who disagree with us on anything. Peachy. This is power. Surely Jesus would act this way if He had all the facts we have and knew what the bishops know.

Benedict XVI has said that the Gospel is to be proposed, not imposed. This seems to be more of a stated value than an operational value. In other words, talk says one thing, actions another.

When it comes to catholics who do not toe the line, we can treat them without any consideration for their rights and talents, since they are in error. “Leadership” can silence them, investigate them, publicly besmirch them, treat them with their own brand of self-righteous smugness, always claiming the higher ground of loyalty to the magisterium which allows no debate or discussion. Although if they have written a book, “leadership” can by these very actions move it very high on Amazon’s best seller list. There also is a phenomenon known as the church police, the religious police, even the thought police. These folks are especially virulent in their attacks on any they perceive as less than orthodox in their thoughts and opinions. In some places they are referred to as “Catholic Taliban” because of their alleged tactics, all in the name of what is good and true. They, too, are good folks.

It seems to me that the only thing being threatened these days is the bishops’ perceived god-given right to impose their views on everybody, to discriminate against women, married men, gays, lesbians, and any who do not do and think as they are told by the bishops. The “leadership” doesn’t seem to understand that true values are not imposed from above, but are taught by lived example. What is imposed by violence and threats creates its own aura of violence and threats, as is becoming increasingly obvious. What goes around comes around. Abuse and violence used often enough become ends in themselves.

One example of the bishops’ perceived right to impose their views on everybody is their support of a law that would ban the use of government buildings for same sex marriages. This would mean that military chapels could not be used for same sex weddings. This might be alright for catholics, but there are other religious traditions in the military who have no problem with such weddings. Supporters of this law claim they are acting to protect the consciences of chaplains and other military members who might be forced to act against their consciences. Some who have no personal experience in the military claim to know what they are doing. But the regulations are very clear that no chaplain can be asked to act against her or his conscience, religious beliefs, or tenets of their endorsing agency. Some who have no military experience claim this is not enough because it doesn’t really work that way, or so they would convince folks. That has not been my experience while on active duty. Chaplains have what is called the “perform or provide” clause in their mission. If, during my time on active duty as an Army Chaplain, a catholic soldier came to me and asked to be married, I would “perform” the wedding according to the guidelines of the Catholic Church. If a soldier of another tradition came to me and wanted to be married, it would be my responsibility to “provide” an appropriate minister according the soldier’s tradition. The same would apply to a soldier requesting a same sex marriage. There is no need for the law. Appropriate safeguards are already in place.

These are my thoughts, and mine alone. I am exercising my right to free speech, one of the constitutional rights the military has been protecting and guarding for a few hundred years — something our country appreciates and values, but our Church “leadership” does not.

Just sayin .   .   .


Entry filed under: Catholic, Church Leadership, Current Church, Disobedient priests, Forbidden topics, Priest. Tags: , , , , , , , , .

4 July 2012, Current Local Events 10 July 2012, Thoughts on Schism

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bob Wenz  |  July 5, 2012 at 10:25


  • 2. Joe Konen  |  July 6, 2012 at 09:40

    Yes, at least operationally, it seems that the hierarchy has a faulty notion of the path to truth. I’m convinced that authroity is not the path to truth but rather inquiry is. William James in Varieties of Religious Experience points out that one’s deep religious experiences may be normative for that one person but cannot be normative for others. I’m not sure why the bishops seem convinced that their authority allows them to tell others what is true (doctrine) and what is good (morality) but I have often said recently that they soon will also be using that authority to tell us what is BEAUTIFUL. Mourn that day!

  • 3. Jim Dubik  |  July 6, 2012 at 15:28


    Jim Dubik


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