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A Mother – protecting her children (the membership) from historical truth and theological insight, and the responsibilities of independent thought. Trying desperately to keep her babes from leaving the nest.

A Lioness – protecting her cubs (the clergy) by hiding them from attack, redirecting attention away from them, retaliating against their attackers.

A “Uriah Heep” – whose only concern is to protect and gain control over the moneys taken in by the business. Motivated by greed, and putting on a face of insincere humility.

A model of the Church of “Bishop” Francis? – I remain hopeful.

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The latest blog post at “Another Voice” reminds us of some basic historical truths about the papacy that very few Catholics seem to know, and very few Church officials would be comfortable admitting. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Pope Frances gave a statement on the history of the hierarchy that incorporated these facts.

When thinking about the history of the papacy in the Roman Catholic Church, we need to be clear about a few historic realities.

The historic Jesus did not appoint anyone pope. He did not appoint anyone a bishop nor did he ordain anyone. Contrary to what one often hears, flowing unctuously from episcopal lips, no one at the Last Supper was ordained by Jesus nor designated a bishop. Ordination came much later in the early Jesus Movement as a kind of quality control mechanism: to protect Christian communities from incompetent or deceptive leaders. So the plan, anyway…..

And Peter? Contemporary biblical scholars and historians give us a rather clear picture of the young man. Peter and his wife belonged to the group of young men and women (probably in their late teens or early twenties) who were Jesus’ close disciples. Jesus recognized Peter’s leadership qualities and designated him as the leader of the Christian community in Jerusalem. Peter could also be stubborn and head-strong. Jesus and his friends called Peter by his nickname “Rocky.”

I wrote this for the victim of Fr. Fugee, whoever he is. Because his pain will last a lifetime longer than the headlines, and people need to be reminded of that.

Touch

Touch creates communion
through a language all its own.

A mother’s strokes and caresses
tell her newborn he is wanted and loved,
her eyes tell him he is, he exists.
A father’s arms firm and strong
tell him he is safe and protected.

Being bathed and changed
tells him his body deserves care;
being made clean is being loved.

Caring hands pick him up
when he cries,
when he’s hungry,
when he’s tired.

Arms around him rocking
against a safe warm body.
The world is a warm and gentle place.

A Father blesses his forehead
anoints with oil.
He is named,
he belongs.

His child arms exploring his body
knowing, learning
this is me, this is mine.

Feet touching the floor
hands held then let go
he is strong and stronger now.

He feels the air on his skin
the rain on his tongue.
Holding a bat, wearing a glove
throwing a ball
casting line
skinning fish.

High fives
hugs.
You’re never too old for hugs
his mother says
mussing his hair.
His father pats his shoulder.

Life is good
his body is his ally
he is safe
he is loved.

Then a Father’s hand on his shoulder
like his dad’s touch
but with different eyes
looking where they don’t belong,
hands following the eyes.

Let’s wrestle, the Father says
and then the touch.

His body’s momentary
unbidden response;
betrayed by his own skin.

Feeling sick, afraid,
dirty, shamed.

He is helpless and alone
with his hate
for his body,
his pleasure,
himself.

One touch
and everything changes
from safe to lost
happiness to despair.

He lives with strangers now
his parents
who think his frame
is solid
but he is empty.

Who he was
has gone forever,
all he wants is
to peel away
the skin
that makes him vulnerable
to the cruelty of touch.

Meaning # 1
A 2010 movie starring Sylvester Stallone and other over-the-hill hit men.

Meaning # 2
Children.
In different ways all over the world children are the Expendables:
They work in sweat shops.
They are sold as sex slaves.
They star in porn movies.
The are used as bartering chips in divorce proceedings.
They are an investment for a larger government handout.
They are collateral damage in the Catholic abuse scandal, where the priorities are institutional image, the brotherhood of the priests, the good old boy network of the bishops, the protection of assets.

According to an article on JSpace.com about children of the holocaust who were abused by those who hid them from the Nazis, “the pain of sexual abuse often impacts childhood survivors far greater than other losses and traumas endured during the Holocaust.”

This is the kind of information that Catholics need to hear: from the parents of victims who refuse to believe their children; to those who think they should just get over it; to the bishops and priests who continue to shield their friends and deny the abusers’ guilt and their own culpability and continue to minimize the criminal nature of child abuse.

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A powerful message from Sr. Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter, March 6

Read the entire post here:
NCRonline.org/blogs/where-i-stand.]

“To a vast population of the world, the papacy of the Roman Catholic church is some kind of meaningless monarchy, colorful, intriguing and irrelevant. It is a fantasy game played by Catholics. How seriously is something like that to be taken when the issues to be dealt with are so contemporary, so important, not only to Catholics and their idea of church and faith and the spiritual life but to the world at large? How can we believe that the answers arrived at in a medieval setting have anything to do with the real world?

And so, when the pope waved goodbye from the balcony at Castel Gandolfo, I felt a twinge of sadness — for him, for us and for the world at large. Because of his presence of mind, because of his willingness to step out of a position that has been surrounded by fairy-tale expectations, the church has been brought to a new point in its own conversion and development. And those points are not easy for anyone. In fact, women religious have themselves known them in a very special way.

For that reason, women religious may have something to teach the church about the process of conversion and development at this very important moment.

Religious life, too, had been encased in another world. Women religious lived separately from the world around them, they dressed in clothes that had been designed centuries before, they gave up a sense of personal or individual identity. As a result, they got further away from the people they served by the day, further away from their needs, further away from their feelings.

The renewal process of religious life required three major changes before they could possibly pursue anything else of a particular nature, like future planning or ministry decisions. Renewal, they discovered, was a matter of demystification, integration and relevance.

Religious life had its own kind of monarchies to be deconstructed before anything creative could possibly happen or the gifts of its members be released for the sake of the world at large.

The first step was to take the Second Vatican Council’s direction about collegiality and subsidiarity, the concepts of shared responsibility and personal decision-making. That meant that the kind of absolute authority that had built up around religious superiors had to be relinquished. Major decisions began to be shared with the community at large. Personal decisions began to be entrusted to the sisters themselves, all adult and educated women who had been deprived of the minutest decision-making: for example, the hour at which they would go to bed; the right to make a doctor’s appointment; the structure of their lives between prayer times. Major superiors began to be expected — and allowed — to be Jesus-figures in the community, spiritual leaders not lawgivers, not monitors, not queen bees.

In the second place, religious had to learn to integrate themselves into the society they were attempting to serve. That did not necessarily mean eliminating a kind of symbolic dress, but it did mean updating it in a way designed to simplify rather than to separate. Most women religious chose, like Jesus, to set out to be the sign rather than do it the easy way and wear the sign.

Grave and sober voices everywhere warned women religious that to do something like that would eliminate generations of respect from the people around them. I can only speak personally for my own community, of course, but I can promise you that separated from the people, locked away from the world like specters from another planet, and dressed to prove how special we were in relationship to everyone else around us generated nowhere near the mutual respect the community feels now from those who come to the community to seek spiritual support, to search out individual sisters for compassion and guidance, and to take their rightful places with us in ministry and spiritual reflection.

Finally, addressing the questions of the time that plague the world — peace, justice, women’s issues, sustainability — and admitting the questions undermining the current credibility of the church, as well — clericalism, sexism, sexuality, the implications of interfaith societies — make sisters honest and caring members of a pilgrim church.

From where I stand, the church hierarchy itself could well take the opportunity, the crossroad, that Benedict provides us now and themselves do a little demystifying, a large bit of collegiality and a serious amount of communal discernment with the people of God on the great issues of the time.”

From the Introduction:

Catholic children, given these teachings, did not at first know that there is no historical evidence for Peter being bishop anywhere—least of all at Rome, where the office of bishop did not exist in the first century CE—or that the linear “apostolic succession” is a chain of historical fabrications. What we were supposed to accept is that all priesthoods are invalid ones except the Roman Catholic. Even if we grant the Roman myths, and say that the Catholic priesthood is valid, how is it Christian to make that priesthood a means for excluding all Christians but Roman Catholics?

I shall be arguing here that priesthood, despite the many worthy men who have filled that office, keeps Catholics at a remove from other Christians—and at a remove from the Jesus of the Gospels, who was a biting critic of the priests of his day. To make this argument, I must consider the claim that has set priests apart from all other human beings, their unique power to change bread and wine into the body and blood of Christ. On this claim the entire sacramental structure of the medieval church was built up. The priesthood stands or falls with that claim. I mean to examine it here—dispassionately, thoroughly, historically. The outcome of this debate will determine the future (if any) of the priesthood.

http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2013-02-13/garry-wills-why-priests-failed-tradition

For reasons of health  and advanced age, Pope Benedict XVI will resign on February 28, 2013.

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What will they do? Will they elect a new King?

 

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And continue to close their eyes to their crimes?

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Or will they search for the light of the Holy spirit?

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And imagine a New Beginning, A New Creation?

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And what will the Church do? Because … they are not the Church; the People of God are the Church. And it’s time to stop waiting for Rome to change – or for the perfect Pope, the Council that best expresses your views, the best translation of the liturgy. Start being the Church you want the Church to be. Like the brave women and men who have recently received excommunication.

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It seems that I have fallen under the spell of magical thinking. Although clear about the nature of priestly ordination NOT making any kind of magical, ontological change in the persona of a priest, I apparently still harbored similar ideas about religious vows.

I have treated my brother James as if his capacity to bear the burdens of others was deeper and wider simply because he was a professed religious. It didn’t help that he was indeed more compassionate, gentle, patient and tender than most brothers, or Brothers. This in fact made it harder to recognise how we all in the family were taking advantage of him and expecting him to bear burdens beyond those of ordinary mortals or even ordinary friends or siblings.

The truth is he has borne those burdens, often juggling one parent’s or one sibling’s needs against another – often more than just one other in fact. And he has borne them alone. Unlike the rest of us – with husbands, wives, children, grandchildren – he has had no permanent presence in his life. No daily confidant or consoler. And he has lost many of his dearest friends in the last few years, reducing the number of support people in his life and increasing the pain and loss in his own relationships.

I have shared these reflections with my brother and our siblings, but I felt the topic was worthy of public comment also.

For those who are committed to going forward in the community of the Catholic faith it is vital that we reconsider our view of religious and priests, and most importantly our view of the vows that we have taken. Yes, all of us are under vows (solemn promises to perform an act, carry out an activity, or behave in a given way) taken for us by our parents at Infant Baptism, renewed by us at Confirmation, and reaffirmed by us every time we recite our creed and pray the Lord’s prayer. Implicit in these sacraments, faith statements and prayers is the promise to live by the beliefs expressed. We are not promising to support priests and religious as they live out their “calling,” we are acknowledging that we, too, are called, that we, too, are committing to live out this common calling, this shared vocation.

The Catholic faith community will not survive unless all Catholics accept their role, their burden, their joy of living a “vowed” life. The role of priests and religious should be seen as supporting us all in this life, not the other way around. This is a good time to reclaim  not the priesthood of the people but the people of the priesthood, or even better the people of Christ.

This excites me. This energizes me. How will this look?

A RESPONSE TO AN ATHEIST BLOGGER WHO HAS CHOSEN TO BECOME CATHOLIC – click here for the website

I don’t know you; I came across an article about your conversion on CNN news. I am delighted that you have found the love of God; I am somehow offended that you have chosen the Catholic Church. With all its immorality in leadership, its disregard for truth, let alone God’s Truth, its dismissal of the work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of female religious and in the call to priesthood among women, its rejection of homosexuals as disordered, yet its acceptance of large numbers of homosexuals into the priesthood, its protection and promotion of child abusers and their bishops, its total and absolute disregard for the spiritual and emotional torment of child victims and their families… it is impossible for me to find the Truth that is Jesus within the contemporary Catholic Church.

I wish you well, I hope you can take Jesus with you on your journey into Catholicism and remain faithful to the guidance of the Truth.

It seems to me that in order for the Catholic Church to make any kind of meaningful recovery from the current dismal situation of international moral turpitude, there will have to be an overhaul of the Code of Canon Law, and a re-education of the bishops in the inappropriate use of “mental reservation” which has been used to avoid telling the truth to civil authorities and to victims.  It is pointless for reforms to be written in country after country if the priests and bishops can ultimately still lie while they assuage their consciences by recourse to Canon Law and archaic Catholic Moral Doctrine. Bishops are still instructing victim’s advocates to never admit there has been other accusations against, or other victims of, a particular priest. It has to stop. The dishonesty and denial has to stop.

Canon Law.

We need to have the Vatican remove Canon 1728.2. To quote Sr. Maureen Turlish:

While possible victims of childhood sexual abuse and other lay witnesses are asked to take an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth etc.” during a canonical trial concerning the public good, an alleged priest-perpetrator is not. Canon 1728.2 says, “The accused is not bound to confess the delict [crime] nor can an oath be administered to the accused.”

http://ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/philly-trial-reveals-unreliability-religions-self-policing-policies

The Scandal of Secrecy

It is time to open all the secret archives, and have an independent non-Catholic committee review the documents for records of criminal behavior. The privacy of priests should be upheld except in cases of written record of criminal behavior such as the sexual abuse of minors.

… canon law encourages — and even requires — church leaders to engage in secrecy so as to prevent scandal. If a bishop suspects a cleric has committed sexual abuse, for instance, canon law requires the bishop to conduct an investigation (or delegate the investigation) and then place the results into a secret archive. Those privy to such investigations swear secrecy and risk excommunication for violating that secrecy, note the authors.

From a review of Sex, Priests and Secret Codes, Thomas P. Doyle, A.W.R. Sipe and Patrick J. Wall, Volt Press.
http://ca.renewedpriesthood.org/page.cfm?Web_ID=764

Mental Reservations

We also need to remove the option of “mental reservation” from the bishops play book. Because despite its “official” rejection it continues to be implemented. Why? Because it serves a useful purpose.  To refer to the same review quoted above:

Then there’s the technique of mental reservation, which, say the authors, is used by a person who is caught between an obligation to keep a secret and a duty to tell the truth. Furthermore, Catholic moral theology allows a person caught in such a dilemma to use misleading words to deceive another so long as a deliberate lie is not told. This is commonly employed in order to avoid a greater harm.  Justification for mental reservation is built into the oath cardinals take to never reveal to anyone whatsoever has been confided in me to keep secret and the revelation of which could cause damage or dishonor to the Holy Church. This might go a long way toward explaining why church officials lie about scandal when, as the authors contend, honesty is the best policy.

From a review of Sex, Priests and Secret Codes, Thomas P. Doyle, A.W.R. Sipe and Patrick J. Wall, Volt Press

http://ca.renewedpriesthood.org/page.cfm?Web_ID=764

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