10 July 2012, Thoughts on Schism

July 10, 2012 at 19:13 Leave a comment

A few years back, Pope Benedict XVI said the Church was the place of the “great et . . . et (meaning “both … and), that there was always room for more than only one way of understanding the Church’s beliefs. That seems to have been then, and this is now. Today there is only one way for everything, and deviations are not tolerated.

There is increasingly more talk these days about a schism, either impending or de facto, in the Roman Catholic Church. Among the reasons usually given are: refusal of church “leadership” to allow certain topics even to be discussed (eg, mandatory vs optional celibacy, women priests); the perceived discrimination against women, homosexuals, and folks married “outside the church”; the Vatican’s position on contraception; the ignoring by the Vatican of regional bishops’ conferences; the refusal by the Vatican to recognize national cultures in the local celebrations of liturgies; the perceived “caving” of many bishops’ conferences; the recent imposition by the Vatican of the English Missal and the way in which this was done; the Vatican’s perceived rolling back of the teachings of Vatican II; what is perceived as the blatant abuses of authority by Church “leadership” at all levels, including our local situation. This schism would be informal since folks are not denying church authority, just ignoring it. There is no heresy or denial of the basic truths of faith. It is hard to see Jesus’ life and Gospel in the way the hierarchy are behaving, not to mention their lifestyles — although Jesus did say something about tying heavy burdens and laying them on people’s shoulders, while not lifting a finger to help them. Come to think of it, he said something about palaces and fancy clothes, too.

I personally follow the de facto view, that, at least on the day to day operational level of many folks, we are already informally in schism on several levels and in several degrees. Many of us are just fed up with the myriad abuses and posturing by what calls itself church “leadership”. Their portraying of themselves as the voice of God and their claiming to act in God’s name rings hollow for increasing numbers of us, as does their claim to be taking the high ground of moral superiority. Fewer and fewer of us pay any attention to them, offering them at best only lip service, if even that. Many of us see the Church in terms of our local parish or activity, ignoring the higher organizational levels, while many are simply staying away and living quite well without the Church. If this isn’t schism, then what is.

Some say that this schism is actually part of an action plan by Church “leadership” in their search for a smaller, purer Church. If “leadership” is successful in their discriminating against women, they won’t have to be afraid of women messing in their fiefdoms and maybe competing for their jobs, or so they think.

Schisms are not necessarily bad. Thy can help an organization fine tune its value system. And since the reception of a particular dogma or teaching by the faithful is an important, if not essential, part of the magisterium, a schism might help “leadership” get an idea of what the faithful really think.

Undoubtedly, though, there are many good pastoral bishops who care about their folks and know what their folks think, often even agreeing with them. Some suffer and are abused themselves or punished because of their pastoral care for their folks. Many of them are not well known outside their dioceses. One wonders about the dynamics of the NCCB.

Few would deny that the Holy Spirit is guiding the Church, and that Jesus is with us all days even to the end of time. The question is, what are we being called to do? This is not at all clear. What is, is, and we are where we need to be, because where we are needs the gifts God gives us. Each of us is necessary and important, and that we are here is not an accident. Jesus calls us to follow him, to live as he did, to make his values our own. He confronted abuse when he saw it, named the sin, and reached out to the sinner.

There are plenty of abuses in our Church in our day. Rooted in prayer we have to name them, and confront them, and still love the persons who are perpetrating them. What this means and how to do it is not always clear. Some among us have found their path and are walking it. Others of us are still prayerfully (and prayerfully has to be the operative word here) searching. Whatever our course of action we can be sure that we will not be popular in some sectors. Nothing new here. This is our Church. We are all together the People of God. We knock at “leadership’s” door asking for bread, and we get rocks. We ask “leadership” to look at the realities of everyday life, and they hurl threats. Most of “leadership” are not bothered by the current economic problems throughout the world or the unemployment rate. They have nothing to lose. And so they go on as they have because they can. Is this what Jesus had in mind?

Just sayin  .   .   .


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

4 July 2012, Thoughts on Recent Church Events 15 July 2012, Take Nothing for the Journey

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