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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.

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

A history lesson the whole church should be given!

Another Voice

I thought I would take advantage of “sede vacante”……there NOT being a pope……to reflect on facts and fantasies about the papacy.

Concerned about the Catholic Church and the survival of the papacy, one of my pen-pals has been sending emails, reminding people that “Our Blessed Lord picked Saint Peter to be the first pope and he will surely take care of the church today by selecting a new one.”

An American archbishop wrote in his diocesan paper a few days ago that “Our Lord selected St. Peter to be the first pope, making him the rock on which the Catholic Church would be solidly built.”

There are facts, for sure. There are a lot of fantasies as well.

Let’s start from the very beginning……..

Peter was a young married man, probably around twenty years old. Most likely he had children but we don’t know for certain. He must have been…

View original post 660 more words

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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I don’t know if I can call myself Catholic any more, in fact I think I am embarrassed to do so. Yet, as a victim of sexual assault by a priest, I feel I can have more impact if I remain Catholic and continue to speak my truth within the Catholic community.

I get very angry about the assumption that all victims are Catholic haters and no longer part of the Church, as if being raped by a priest is an excommunicable offense. Or perhaps it’s just telling the truth about it that is unacceptable: victims must be liars. But can that be it? Since when has lying been an excommunicable offense?  Is it the fact that we are accusing priests, then? Is that the unforgivable offense? If so, then the problem is with Catholics who believe that priests cannot be predators, who assume that a priest cannot be both loving and compassionate in ministry and also calculating, predatory, and criminal in their sexual behavior. Such naive beliefs are fed by the archaic view that priests are higher human beings by virtue of their ordination, that a transformation takes place in that sacrament raising priests closer to God than ordinary mortals will ever get!

These beliefs must be challenged. They are based on a magical view of priesthood and the sacrament or ordination that needs to change, and who better to challenge it than victims – especially ones with divinity degrees. So I struggle to hang on to the Catholic community, to remain within its borders, searching for wisdom among Catholic writers and enjoying the occasional gospel mass where the priest doesn’t look like my abuser and panic attacks remain at bay.

(Edited.  Apologies for the previous version; it was a comment in process that became frozen in cyberspace and I didn’t realize it had “defrosted.” I need to visit my blogs more regularly!)

Yes, it’s true: there is Justice going on in the Church. Read on and rejoice! Better yet, support CTA.

“In the last two weeks, three parishes in the Seattle Archdiocese have said they will NOT participate in Bishop Sartain’s anti-gay campaign that is being run by NOM, an organization known for its racist strategies.

Instead, by their action, these parishes have declared they are going to stand on the side of love and stand with their LGBT parishioners.”

Jim Fitzgerald, Call to Action

Read more of the story here on NCR.

Dominican nuns serve heroically in midst of Iraq’s violence  from Catholic Culture.org.

“Early in the crisis, especially in 2003 and 2004, most of Iraq’s hospitals closed down,” she added. “We run Al-Hayat Hospital in Baghdad, and we stayed opened. We stayed open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We stayed open for the people.”

The Dominicans have been serving in Iraq since the thirteenth century.

“The War in Iraq has drawn the attention of the Christian world to the presence there of a native church with roots extending all the way back to Apostolic times. There are also about 200 Dominicans there. Dominican friars first came to Mesopotamia, the country the world now calls Iraq, in the thirteenth century.  They established a small community in Baghdad to minister to Christians there  and to study Arabic and the culture and history of the people at the University of Baghdad. A church and priory were built in Mosul in the northern part of the country.”

For more details you can visit the Dominican Life site. Or click on the logo below for a list of articles about Dominicans in Iraq.

An Open Letter from One Catholic Priest to All Other Catholic Priests

Regarding the Need for the Revelation of Truth Concerning the Priest Sexual Abuse Scandal

December 6, 2010

Dear Brother Priests,

Soon after Christmas 2009 a group of priests here in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee met to begin what has become an effort to provide some pastoral outreach to victim/survivors of sexual abuse of minors by priests. Quickly we expanded our group to include some victim/survivors and others who support them. Together we initiated an ongoing series of simple candle vigil services for prayer and talking. The effort is making a difference.

A question that is asked by some victim/survivors is where have all the good priests been? No doubt our presence now is warmly appreciated, but this challenging question has caused me to reflect on my own accountability. During my homily on the weekend of November 13 & 14, I explained that I had not been where I should have been. I was not standing with people in pain who needed the public presence of a priest. I had been inattentive when I should have noticed. I apologized. Of course, I cannot reverse time, I told my parishioners, but I can be different going forward, especially by standing publicly with those who seek the revelation of the complete truth regarding the priest sexual abuse scandal in the Church. The reaction of my parishioners has been powerfully supportive.

Surely, everyone wishes that this crisis would be resolved for the good of all. Unfortunately, however, I find that some people are saying that the victim/survivors should simply forgive and move on with life. Yet such an expectation overlooks what seems to me to be the necessary sequence of events for forgiveness and peace to happen: (1) knowing and understanding the whole truth; (2) doing justice based on the whole truth; (3) allowing healing to blossom over time; (4) then granting forgiveness that releases one from bondage; and (5) finally welcoming the peace that comes from healing and forgiveness.

What has caused me to be more attentive now to this scandal and crisis? Listening to and being moved by the stories that I hear. These stories can be discomforting but they are part of the truth needing to be revealed and understood. Here is some of what I hear.

1. Sexual assault is violent, at times causing bleeding. The word blood captures me. However, what is more captivating is to hear victim/survivors say that as agonizing as the assault was, the reaction of the Church has been more traumatic. They loved the Church and were involved in the Church (which probably is why they were available to be preyed upon), but the Church wasn’t there for them in their need.

2. Many people, from victim / survivors to parishioners in the pews, have left the Church because of the priest sexual abuse crisis, and that is true scandal. Moreover, some of these people who are disconnected from the Church would like to be reconnected, but the absence of truthfulness and accountability stops them.

3. Many victim/survivors “lost their voice” and can’t speak about what happened. They depend on others to speak for them and to cry out on their behalf.

4. Some victim / survivors and their families not only were not believed they were tormented by some clergy and laity such that the families decided to move to a different parish (if they remained in the Church), or even to a different city.

5. A prevailing question is why is it so difficult for the Church to reveal the truth?

I see four positive results coming from the complete truth being available to all people.

1. The truth would complete the puzzle so that the picture can be seen clearly, both validating the stories of the victim/survivors while also clearing the names of the innocent.

2. The truth would help create accountability for what happened.

3. The truth would empower the laity and the clergy alike to become the seedbed from which can come forth justice, healing, forgiveness, and peace. This effort needs the people in the pews but first they need to know the truth.

4. The truth would provide the energy to generate necessary changes in the Church.

My brother priests, obviously the revelation of the truth is not forthcoming easily, but we can be the catalyst for change. We have been sent into the Lord’s vineyard with a mission to provide voice and witness to all that Jesus Christ is about. I trust that you will do all that you can to help bring about a grace-filled resolution to this crisis and scandal. And, as I say, we need to do this in a vocal and public way.

I suggest that this Christmas season we raise our united voices in calling for the necessary sequence of truth, justice, healing, forgiveness, and peace, regarding this most difficult challenge in the Church. Indeed, doing so in this season of peace would provide a route to peace for all who suffer in any way because of sexual abuse of minors by priests.

Let us always embrace the words of the Lord: fear not; the truth will set you free.

Sincerely in Christ,

Rev. James Connell

Sheboygan, Wisconsin


What is it that we want from our church?

  • A system to educate our children
  • A ritual to honor our marriages, our births, our deaths
  • A representative from our church to help us with deaths and burials
  • Someone to listen to us when we have a personal crisis

 Where do we go for these things if we don’t go to the church? 

  • We go to public schools and complain about the lack of a morality curriculum, and lament the lack of  values in the sex education program.
  •  We go to our therapists for counseling and become frustrated at the lack of spirituality in the process of   
     therapy.
  •  We go to funeral homes and work with funeral directors who are strangers, at a time when what we
     desperately need are people who know us and know our loved one.
  •  We use event planners for our weddings and shop around for a pretty church and a minister willing to fit in
     with our “vision” of our wedding, all the while complaining that the priest at the church we were baptized
     in, and haven’t attended since graduating grammar school, wasn’t willing to witness our marriage without a
     preparation process and a commitment to start attending mass again.

What are we willing to give to our church in order to maintain the functions we want it to offer?

  • Are we willing to become professional teachers and administrators in the Catholic school system?
  • Are we willing to volunteer our time with bereavement ministries?
  • Are we willing to enter the diaconate program?
  • Are we even willing to attend mass and pray for each other?

What are we willing to do in order for there to be a church for our own children to cynically dismiss as young adults?

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