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      Raul Vera Lopez, the Catholic bishop of Saltillo, Mexico, has criticized homophobes, calling them “sick.” Mexican Bishop Raul Vera Lopez of Saltillo, Mexico, has a proud record of standing up against injustice of all kinds, whether inflicted by the state,…Read more →
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      Whew! It's time to catch my breath. Since the release of Queer Clergy in February, I've been on the road ... Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, and California. I have been the guest of book clubs, adult forums, LGBT reconciling groups, the Pacific School of Religion, and I've been a guest preacher (always a treat for an old lawyer). I've mad […]
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      Greetings to all others who grace these pages! Thank you for stopping by. If you still have a reader pointed here, this blog no longer publishes in this location, but can be found at this new link. Please subscribe to the new feed, get the new blog via email or read us by liking us on Facebook or by following me on Twitter.If you want more, please feel free […]
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      See also the previous Wild Reed posts:Summer BloomsSummer Blooms IISummer Storms InOut and About – Summer 2013Out and About – Summer 2012Summer RainShards of SummerImages: Michael J. Bayly.
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    • Roman Catholicism's Fundamental Problem: The Cultic Priesthood and its "Diseased System" of Clericalism July 23, 2014
      The clerical leadership of the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis has been in the news recently . . . and not in a good way. Last week's broadcast of the Minnesota Public Radio documentary Betrayed by Silence shocked and upset many. The documentary is, after all, a damning indictment not just of the current archbishop but of his two predecessors also. […]
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    • Papa Francesco does it again July 14, 2014
      Well, the whole world - or at least the semi Christian world - is all a flutter over yet another freewheeling interview of Pope Francis conducted by acknowledged atheist and La Republica journalist Eduardo Scalfari. Before the ink had barely dried, Father Lombardi of The Vatican Press Office was already huffing out his damage control , assuring us that Scalf […]
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      Krivoklat CastleTomorrow I leave for three weeks of summer camps in the forests of Krivoklat, so there will be little time to devote to my random musings on this blog. I look forward to the camps every year for the wonderful bonding that takes place between camp teachers and the Czech kids. In my case, I get to do real theater with a group of about 12 studen […]
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    • Jesuits in Japan redux July 29, 2014
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Bad Relational Psychology Leads To Bad Theology

 

John Allen felt compelled to use his Friday column in the National Catholic Reporter to attempt to justify the Vatican’s action in not accepting the resignations of Irish Auxiliary Bishops Raymond Field and Eamonn Walsh.  I’m glad he did because I trust his reporting is objective in this instance.  It gives Catholics a great opportunity to look at the kind of reasoning under which the Vatican operates when it comes to the episcopal hierarchy–at least the surface reasoning. 

“First, the Vatican doesn’t want to feed impressions that public opinion and media hostility can bring down a bishop. Rome wants bishops to be willing to say and do unpopular things, on matters ranging from abortion to immigrant rights, and it would obviously be a deterrent if the bishop has to worry that Rome might capitulate to pressure campaigns seeking to run him out of town on a rail. (These resignations had nothing to do with taking unpopular moral stands. This is a diversionary excuse.)

Such blowback, of course, is a special risk in the early 21st century, when the Internet and 24-hour cable news channels have created a whole new industry of outrage generation. (A situation from which you yourself and CNN and NCR have derived a great deal of benefit.)

Second, allowing a bishop to resign, even if it’s entirely merited, can create an avalanche which buries other bishops who don’t share the same level of responsibility. If that happens, a good chunk of a country’s episcopacy could be wiped out — further destabilizing an already volatile situation, not to mention creating pressure to find replacements quickly and perhaps without sufficient thought. (‘What if’ and slippery slope arguments are both based in accepting a notion of the future which is as valid as the reality of the present. The Church’s history in Eastern Europe and China indicate bishops aren’t as critical to the local church as the Vatican would have us believe.  Local Churches can manage without them.)

Third, the Vatican also tends not to remove problem bishops because, in the institutional culture of the church, retirement has traditionally been seen as a reward for a job well done. A retired bishop has all the privileges of rank and few of the burdens, so the tendency is not to let a man walk away until he has cleared his desk. (In more ways than this one, this Vatican decision is all about the institutional culture and has nothing to do with the actual good of the Irish Church.)

The case of former Cardinal Michele Giordano of Naples offers an illustration. Giordano, who finally exited the scene in 2006 after turning 75, twice faced criminal charges for shady accounting, and once was actually convicted and sentenced to house arrest. Both times, rumors abounded that Giordano would be removed, and both times the Vatican instead let him stew in his own juices. Officials later said, on background, that they never had any intention of letting Giordano off the hook. That’s how they held him accountable: Not by firing him, but by forcing him to stay on the job and clean up his own mess. (It is possible for one to ‘clean up’ one’s own mess without retaining episcopal authority.  This mentality sends the message that it doesn’t matter what you do you will still retain your prestige and position.  This is crazy.)

Fourth, and perhaps most fundamentally, the Vatican does not like the idea of a bishop resigning for poor performance because, in their view, it’s bad theology. As they see it, a bishop isn’t a corporate CEO or a football coach, who should be sacked when profits sag or the team goes on a losing streak. The episcopacy isn’t a job but a sacramental bond akin to marriage, with the bishop as the father of the diocesan family. In the early centuries of the church, it was considered almost heretical for a bishop to move from one diocese to another on precisely this basis. (Millions of Catholic women and children through out the global church are aware of this ‘pater familias’ mentality and have suffered enormous repetitive abuse because of it.  This mentality, which overlooks the behavior in favor of some abstract fantasy, is itself BAD THEOLOGY.)

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The above is another illustration of the kind of thinking that relates to an abstract objectification of a class of people.  In other words, the definition of the class as noun is more important than the actions undertaken by the class as beings, or verbs.  It doesn’t matter who or what a bishop does in his being or actions, the operative relationship is with the description for the noun bishop.  This is very bad theology and even worse psychology.

A person can not have a meaningful relationship with a definition, nor can they act authentically when they substitute a definition of themselves as a noun for their actual being.  This is precisely what the Church actually requires of gay people, that they define themselves by the Church’s definition of homosexuality and then act as if this definition was the true overwhelming reality of themselves as beings.  This gives the Church the freedom to relate to gays as a defined noun.  This definition equates the defined noun (person) with the acts the definition is based on.  It justifies the church relating to gays on the basis of acts they may not have committed just exactly as it permits the hierarchy to relate to bishops as if acts which don’t fit the definition of bishop were never committed.

In the case of gay bishops, the definition of bishop relationally supersedes the definition of homosexual.  Hence Catholicism can logically have a significant number of gay bishops who are free to be sexually active because they know they will not be expected to pay a price for their activity. Unless that is, they are dumb enough to get caught red handed and exposed in the media.  In the case of the priesthood, the definition of priest is not far enough up the noun hierarchy to protect them from the gay definition.  Hence, a gay priest can be celibate but if he admits to being gay he will be treated by definition as sexually active and chucked out of the priesthood–without perks and benefits and the opportunity to clean up his mess.

I believe one of the most important steps a given Catholic can take on an authentic spiritual path is to stop relating to people as catechismically given definitions, and start relating to them as people.  It is then that ideas like accountability and transparency take on real meaning, and an understanding of why Christians are called on to ‘see’ themselves in others and ‘see’ Christ in others becomes operative.  “Seeing” is a verb and implies an active real time relationship.  We may over look this, but Jesus continually stressed the importance of seeing people as they actually are, not as some class defined noun or a reduction to a given behavior.

Jesus refused to ‘see’ or relate to the Temple Priests and Pharisees as self defined authoritative nouns. He didn’t relate to any defined class of people as if they were nouns.  He asked Peter, “Who do you say that ‘I am'”. Peter says “You are the ‘living’ God.”  Neither Jesus nor Peter are relating to Jesus as some kind of defined static category based in past events or future speculation.  Jesus is the undefined ‘living’ God in the present moment. 

To stay in the moment and relate to people as beings rather than nouns is difficult to do and takes a great deal of energy. To do other wise is easier and takes less energy.  The Vatican’s insistence in relating to the entire church on the basis of definitions of law, past history, and a consistent refusal to engage with the present are symptomatic of a tired depleted spiritual energy.  Returning to a fantasy liturgical past and reasserting the preeminence of classes of canonically defined nouns is not going to bring a resurgence to the Church.  It will not restore the ‘living’ God as the center of the Church’s ‘BEING’. 

The only noun that realistically defines a state of ‘being’ is death–the absence of life.  Jesus came to overcome that definition of a state of being.  That’s why He is called the ‘living’ God. It is that dynamic notion of a ‘living’ God that fueled early Christianity.  It’s time to make this Being real and present in modern Christianity before dead is the last true descriptive word for the Church.

Will There Be Another Global Gathering Of Bishops?

Pope considers emergency ‘abuse summit’
Senior clergy call for crisis gathering of bishops as fears grow that the scandal is spiralling out of control
By John Phillips in Rome – Independent – Sunday, 28 March 2010

As pilgrims, tourists and the faithful congregate in St Peter’s Square today to collect olive branches during a solemn Palm Sunday Mass, an embattled Pope Benedict XVI is coming under mounting pressure to call an emergency synod of bishops from around the world to hammer out a new strategy to deal with the worsening child abuse scandal, Vatican sources say.

 

A number of Roman Catholic prelates have strongly urged the Holy See that such an extraordinary synod, or conference, be held on the grounds that the German pontiff and the Vatican evidently cannot cope effectively on their own with the spiralling image crisis. (I suppose dealing with the image crisis is a lot more palatable than actually dealing with the abuse crisis.)

 

“There is a deep feeling of unease in the Vatican at the moment,” said one well-placed source in the Holy See. “Senior people in the Curia feel under siege from parts of the international media as they see it trying to nail the Pope for allegedly covering up or mishandling abuse cases.

 

“Many bishops have let it be known they want Benedict to convene a special synod or worldwide conference of bishops to examine the problem because of a growing feeling that the Vatican cannot handle this.”

Continue reading

Time For The USCCB To Back Obama On Regulating Financial Sector

 

 

Paul Volcker Prevails

Simon Johnson - Huffington Post - 1/21/10

Paul Volcker, legendary central banker turned radical reformer of our financial system, has won an important round. The WSJ is now reporting:

President Barack Obama on Thursday is expected to propose new limits on the size and risk taken by the country’s biggest banks, marking the administration’s latest assault on Wall Street in what could mark a return — at least in spirit — to some of the curbs on finance put in place during the Great Depression.

This is an important change of course that, while still far from complete, represents a major victory for Volcker – who has been pushing firmly for exactly this.

Thursday’s announcement should be assessed on three issues.

1. Does the president provide a clear statement of why we need these new limits on banks? The administration’s narrative on what caused the crisis of 2008-09 has been lame and completely unconvincing so far. The president must take it to the banks directly – tracing the origins of our “too big to fail” vulnerabilities to the excessive deregulation of banks following the Reagan Revolution and emphasizing how much worse these problems became during the Bush years.

 2. Are the proposed limits on the total size (e.g., assets) of banks, or just on part of their operations – such as proprietary trading? The limits need to be on everything that banks do, if they are to be meaningful at all. This is not a moment for technocratic niceties; the banks must be reined in, simply and directly.

 3. Is there a clear strategy for (a) taking concrete workable proposals directly to Congress, and (b) win, lose, or draw in the Senate, running hard with this issue to the midterm elections?

Push every Republican to take a public stand on this question, and you will be amazed at what you hear (if they stick to what they have been saying behind closed doors on Capitol Hill.)

The spin from the White House is that the president and his advisers have been discussing this move for months. The less time spent on such nonsense tomorrow the better. The record speaks for itself, including public statements and private briefings as recently as last week – this is a major policy change and a good idea.

The major question now is – will the White House have the courage of its convictions and really fight the big banks on this issue? If the White House goes into this fight half-hearted or without really understanding (or explaining) the underlying problem of unfettered banks that are too big to fail, they will not win.

Continue reading

Haiti

The catastrophic situation in Haiti is beyond painful.  It is very difficult to even begin to articulate any meaningful thoughts much less sort out feelings.  Powerlessness comes to mind.

I am also reminded of an important concept from my post on spiritual intelligence.  In fact it summed up what spiritual intelligence is all about in a sometimes purposefully unfair and at other times capricious world.  Haiti is a real and tragic combination of both purposeful and capricious events.  Haiti’s future could be much brighter if humanity so wills:

In closing, as we enter the third millennium, we are urgently called to action in two distinct capacities: to serve as hospice workers to a dying culture, and to serve as midwives to an emerging culture. These two tasks are required simultaneously; they call upon us to move through the world with an open heart-meaning we are present for the grief and the pain-as we experiment with new visions and forms for the future. Both are needed. The key is to root our actions in both intelligence and compassion-a balance of head and heart that combines the finest human qualities in our leadership for cultural transformation.

It is too late for too many Haitians to put the above in play, but it is not too late for the survivors.  Compassion in the present is only useful if it serves as the foundation for a better future.  We can do this for and with the Haitian people,  as a global people,  working in unison.  It would be unconscionable to remake the old situation.  It would be less than fully human.  This is the time we must make the least of us, first.

Reason As The Source Of Natural Law

Father Geoff Farrow has an insightful take on the theology of Robert P. George. Dr. George is apparently the Catholic neocon replacement for Fr. John Neuhaus. The New York Times writer, David Kilpatrick, did an extensive piece on George in December. Fr. Farrow’s post deals with specific quotes from the article. It’s well worth taking the time to read. In my own writing today, I want to deal with something else about Dr. George’s thinking. It’s his insistence that man’s faculty for reasoning is the shining light which illuminates the truth of George’s natural law position. This optimisitic assessment of reason is the ground on which the rest of George’s position on moral issues resides. Somehow the light of reason is immune from the dulling aspects of Original Sin:

I asked George several times if he was really hoping to ground a mass movement in abstract principles of reason so at odds with the prevailing culture. It was a bet, he said, on his conviction about the innate human gift for reason. Still, he said, if there was one critique of his work that worried him, it was the charge that he puts too much faith in the power of reason, overlooking what Christians describe as original sin and what secular pessimists call history. It is a debate at least as old as the Reformation, when Martin Luther broke with the Catholic Church and insisted that reason was so corrupted that faith in the divine was humanity’s only hope of salvation. (Until relatively recently, contemporary evangelicals routinely leveled the same charge at modern Catholics.) “This is a serious issue, and if I am wrong, this is where I am wrong,” George acknowledges. (Well, you are wrong, but not for the reasons that worry you.)

 

 Over lunch last month at the Princeton faculty club, George noted that many evangelicals had signed the Manhattan Declaration despite the traditional Protestant skepticism about the corruption of human reason. “I sold my view about reason!” he declared. He was especially pleased that, by signing onto the text, so many Catholic bishops had endorsed his new natural-law argument about marriage. “It really is the top leadership of the American church,” he said. “Obviously, I am gratified that view appears to have attracted a very strong following among the bishops,” he went on. “I just hope I am right. If they are going to buy my arguments, I don’t want to mislead the whole church.”

Continue reading

Spiritual Intelligence: The Master Intelligence

Sometimes silence is the best route for finding a path.  The best kind of silence is also an active listening.  There is a part of our brains which seems to be dedicated to a different kind of intelligectual capacity and has a different- meta set if you will–of sense perceptual ability.  This part of our brains deals with problem solving on a holistic basis, and uses our typical set of intellectual attributes only as tools to further and express personal development and problem solving.

The following article written by Will Keepin  is taken from  the now defunct ezine, Timeline, but its parent organization (www.globalcommunity.org) is still a very going concern.  Although there are a number of different conceptualizations of spiritual intelligence, the following best describes my own understanding of how this form of human intelligence operates.

I plan to do a series of articles on to expand on the concept of spiritual intelligence.  First because the operating principles  are universal to the  core teachings of almost all spiritual systems, and two, because they describe the method of thinking–as opposed to a philosophy–which underlie the teachings and actions of Jesus.

The Twelve Principles of Spiritual Leadership

First: The first principle is that the motivation underlying our activism for social change must be transformed from anger and despair to compassion and love. This is a major challenge for the environmental movement, for example. It is not to deny the legitimacy of noble anger or outrage at injustice of any kind. Rather, we seek to work for love, rather than against evil. We need to adopt compassion and love as our foundational intention, and do whatever inner work is required to implement this intention. Even if our outward actions remain the same, there is a major difference in results if our underlying intention supports love rather than defeating evil. The Dalai Lama says, “A positive future can never emerge from the mind of anger and despair.” Continue reading

The USCCB Pastoral Letter On Marriage…zzzzzz

This post was originally posted 10/12/2009 on my personal blog.  This ‘pastoral’ letter was one of those times when it became really apparent to me that I did not live in the same Catholic world this USCCB letter strongly suggests I live in……

I really did try to make it through the whole pastoral draft, but I admit, it was beyond my patience and tolerance level. In an effort to save readers some time, I’ll paraphrase the entire draft.

Everything is intrinsically evil when it comes to sex, unless sex is discretely engaged in for the purposes of procreation in a sacramental marriage.
That about sums up the entire message. No need to read the fifty or so pages which expand this basic concept–unless you want to subject yourself to excessive verbiage on the intrinsic evils of not understanding this basic concept.

The pastoral begins in the garden with Adam and Eve where we are informed that Eve is made to be Adam’s help meet and they are to be fruitful and multiply, and yes indeed they are made equally in God’s image with COMPLIMENTARY roles. This leads directly to the first of numerous cut and paste statements from one or the other of our last two popes. Oh yea, and the often stated but completely erroneous idea that the Church has always recognized marriage as between one man and woman for ever and ever amen–except for when it hasn’t, which was more or less it’s first 1100 years, which for some reason isn’t mentioned.

By the time I quit reading this pastoral it had more or less condemned 97% of American Catholics to hell if they don’t mend their ‘intrinsically evil’ ways. Which leaves about 3% of American Catholics saved and pastorally directed. A reasonable person might wonder what a Church actually has to offer when it’s leadership wipes out 97% of it’s membership in one pastoral letter.

A reasonable person might wonder if this statistical fact might just indicate that said leadership is completely out of touch with the real lived experience of their flock. Or maybe this is just an attempt to rally the true believing base, ala Rush Limbaugh. Judging from the comments on the NCR itself, it is not rallying the 97% it condemns to potential hell.

I personally agree with the NCR editorial board that the USCCB should just let this one quietly die, exactly as they did their ‘pastoral’ letter on women. At least with the pastoral letter on women they actually consulted women. Some people feel the disconnect this consultation presented between the teaching on women and women’s real experiences of the teaching is why that letter was dropped. Too much truth I guess.
This current pastoral letter most certainly didn’t consult anyone but JPII and Benedict. In my book, that’s kind of a definition of a cult when only one or two voices are consulted. This letter actually reads like most Opus Dei letters which constantly reference the thoughts of St. Escriva. I imagine a lot of members of Opus Dei are in that 3% and so they will be quite supportive of this letter. I wonder how many of them secretly wonder where God is when they sit at the kitchen table and try to balance the bills.
In this pastoral letter God is much more concerned with creating children than providing for them. In fact I don’t believe this pastoral letter even deals with any of the ‘providing for” aspects of creating the children we are to ‘raise and educate’ as our primary marital duty. Kind of like the abortion debate. There’s nary a word about providing the post birth care those potential humans will require.
I guess we are to trust in the providence of a God who lately has seemed quite indifferent to providing post birth care. Or maybe He is trying to provide–health care reform comes to mind–but His erstwhile leaders are too busy accepting provision for themselves from the very folks who aren’t interested in bringing God’s providence to fruition for the rest of us. Just a thought.

In any event, save yourself some serious frustration. Don’t attempt to read the whole thing. The NCR article and editorial has it about right. This letter is intended to be read by the Vatican for a pat on the back and career advancement. It’s not a useful or meaningful communication for American laity.

Progressives Must Stop Ignoring Certain Conservative Beliefs About Holiness

There is a reason for the obvious lack of any medical equipment in this clinic of Mother Teresa’s and it’s not lack of donations.

Sometimes I come across articles that leave me pondering for quite awhile. This happened to me the other day when I came across an article written by Susan Shields for the website “Council for Secular Humanism”. Ms. Shields an ex member of Mother Teresa’s Sister’s of Charity. I’m going to quote the part that caused me a certain amount of mental angst:

Three of Mother Teresa’s teachings that are fundamental to her religious congregation are all the more dangerous because they are believed so sincerely by her sisters. Most basic is the belief that if a sister obeys she is doing God’s will. Another is the belief that the sisters have leverage over God by choosing to suffer. Their suffering makes God very happy. He then dispenses more graces to humanity. The third is the belief that any attachment to human beings, even the poor being served, supposedly interferes with love of God and must be vigilantly avoided or immediately uprooted. The efforts to prevent any attachments cause continual chaos and confusion, movement and change in the congregation. Mother Teresa did not invent these beliefs – they were prevalent in religious congregations before Vatican II – but she did everything in her power (which was great) to enforce them.

Once a sister has accepted these fallacies she will do almost anything. She can allow her health to be destroyed, neglect those she vowed to serve, and switch off her feelings and independent thought. She can turn a blind eye to suffering, inform on her fellow sisters, tell lies with ease, and ignore public laws and regulations. (These behaviors are endemic to every single one of the right wing traditional apostolates approved of and singled out for praise by the Vatican in the last forty years.)

Women from many nations joined Mother Teresa in the expectation that they would help the poor and come closer to God themselves. When I left, there were more than 3,000 sisters in approximately 400 houses scattered throughout the world. Many of these sisters who trusted Mother Teresa to guide them have become broken people. In the face of overwhelming evidence, some of them have finally admitted that their trust has been betrayed, that God could not possibly be giving the orders they hear. It is difficult for them to decide to leave – their self-confidence has been destroyed, and they have no education beyond what they brought with them when they joined. I was one of the lucky ones who mustered enough courage to walk away……

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Taken together these three beliefs describe a very sad definition of the path to holiness. They also describe logical extensions of the belief that man’s material existence has meaning only in terms of his soul and that since the fall of Adam and Eve, our bodies are condemned to suffering in order to appease God and purify our immortal souls from the filthy stains of material existence.

Take the first one for example:the belief that as long as a sister obeys she is doing God’s will.”
There’s no question that with in the Sisters of Charity, as it is in Opus Dei, the Legionaries, or any number of other twentieth century apostalates, obedience to the will of the founder was equated with obedience to God. This was not just an attitude freely assumed by members, it was promulgated by the founders themselves and they were backed by the Papacy. Why wouldn’t they be? This demand for obedience to the founder is exactly what the Vatican demands of every Catholic with regards to the Pope.
The problem is neither the Pope nor any given founder is God. Jesus did not say God is obedience, He said God is love. Every parent has experienced the fact that our children can still love us dearly without feeling the need to obey every jot and tittle of what we say. And if a parent matures with their child in parenting, one finds that they actually love their children more when those children think for themselves, act decently on their own initiative, and stop demanding approval for everything they do. None of those free acts of a maturing child is an assault on the fundamental parent/child relationship. It is instead both a deepening and a broadening of the relationship. What a parent really learns as their child matures, is the reason for and nature of, forgiveness. Forgiveness is not a ‘get out of hell’ free card. Nor is it a reset button to engage in the same failed strategy. It’s an opportunity to change direction, learn a lesson and grow some more. Parental forgiveness is often the weedkiller in our children’s garden of life
The second belief is in some respects even more damaging than the first: “the belief that the sisters have leverage over God by choosing to suffer. Their suffering makes God very happy. He then dispenses more graces to humanity.” There are so many fallacies here. No human person has the capacity to leverage God. That’s a description of a very small god, but it gets worse. The thought that this god is happy being leveraged by our suffering makes him an even smaller God. That he would then dispense more grace to humanity because of his happiness with our suffering makes him very very minuscule on the god scale. Puts him about as far up the god scale as the parent who beats their child to get the rush when they cry and then gives the child candy to shut them up until the next time. It’s called abuse dynamics.
Then we come to the third belief: “that any attachment to human beings, even the poor being served, supposedly interferes with love of God and must be vigilantly avoided or immediately uprooted”. For Mother Teresa and the Sisters of Charity this belief can be restated as the love of the concept of poverty as a path to holiness. Their ministry actually has very little to do with an effective realtional love with the poor. It has to do with their individual choice to live in, and surround themselves with institutional poverty.
This is probably why Mother Teresa never built a world class hospital with all of her hundreds of millions in donations, or did a great deal to eradicate poverty in the areas in which her convents and clinics operated. These initiatives served as way stations for sufferers in which her sisters were given the opportunity to evangelize and ‘save’ souls. It was this that took precedence over alleviating suffering or providing real medicine. The truth is she didn’t need a world class hospital to evangelize and save souls–she needed hundreds of convents and that’s precisely what she built.
In honesty, Mother Teresa never claimed to be in the business of lifting the yoke of poverty or eradicating disease in the areas in which her enterprises operated. She forthrightly said she was in the business of Catholic evangelization and the saving of souls. The poor people she worked with were not victims of choices not their own. Instead they had been given a wonderful opportunity from God to both achieve her definition of holiness, and offer their unchosen suffering for others. And of course, they provided the means by which she and her fellow sisters could achieve their definition of holy poverty. In this respect, she would have been working against her definition of their best interests to do otherwise.
Not one of these three beliefs are espoused by LCWR congregations, which makes me wonder if that’s not part of the problem they are having with the Vatican. There’s nothing like making poverty a short ticket to heaven to soothe the consciences of people whose own greed makes that poverty possible. No wonder Mother Teresa had many good things to say about the Duvalier’s in Haiti. Just think of all the opportunity the Duvalier’s provided for the people of Haiti to experience holy poverty.I think progressive Catholics need to put some time and effort in understanding this dynamic in the traditional and conservative Catholic mind set. Ignoring it will not make it go away nor lessen it’s influence in the Vatican and subsequently on Catholic laity.

The Symbolism Of Vestments And The Investments In Saints

One of the things which has been on my mind lately is the use of symbolism within the JPII/Benedict XVI papacies. Benedict seems to be making his symbolic statements with Liturgical ritual and vestments.  It’s now gotten to the point where L’Osservatore Romano has taken to apologizing and explaining for this penchant of Benedict’s. He’s not being ostentatious, He’s dressing in Christ.
VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Wearing ornate liturgical vestments symbolizes the spiritual transformation of the person wearing the clothes, not his love of fashion, the Vatican newspaper said. “The priest does not choose such ornaments because of an aesthetic vice — he does it to put on the new clothes of Christ,” said an article in the June 26,  2008 edition of L’Osservatore Romano. Liturgical vestments represent “dressing oneself anew in Christ” in which the priest “transcends his identity to become someone else,” to become one with Christ through a process of interior transformation and inner renewal, it said.
Now I know why I tend to dress in baggy older clothes.  Here all along I thought it was because I had no reason to wear any other kind.  Now I know it reflects my interior transformation and inner renewal.
John Paul II made the most of his statements with his Saint factory and it’s quite a statement. 438 of them including the likes of Pius IX — he who epitomized antisemitism in the guise of ‘caring for their souls’ and giving us the infallibility doctrine of Vatican I which justified all of his anti semitic leanings.  John Paul followed St Pius IX with St  Jose Maria Escriva whose legacy is Opus Dei and all it’s fascist connections and secrecy.  He also gave us Cardinal Stepanic,  whose performance in World War II was abysmal.   There is pretty credible evidence that he rooted on his Archdiocesan Franciscans in their various campaigns supporting the Nazi genocide.

Each of these saints is a political statement underlining the fact that there are certain elements within the Church which certainly see themselves and their understanding of humanity as more divinely inspired than other groups of humanity.

Continue reading

The Open Tabernacle

When I was a little girl I was always pretty confused when the priest would lock the ciborium in the tabernacle after communion. It seemed to me like Jesus was being locked in His kennel. It was a pretty kennel, but I didn’t  grasp why Jesus had to be locked away. I couldn’t quite believe Jesus would run away the way my dog had run away. But having had the experience of losing my dog that way, it was nice to know that Jesus couldn’t go the route of my first dog.

Then I grew up, but to my horror, I realized that symbol of locking Jesus away in a tabernacle was still really important for some people, and for very specific theological reasons. On the practical level this locking up the ciborium would seem to be about theft, but I began to realize it was also about theft on the theological level. Leave the metaphorical theological tabernacle open, and horror of horrors, anyone could come in and take Jesus. Which is after all, what He Himself said. Take this all of you…..

The locked Tabernacle for me became a very potent symbol about access to the Catholic Jesus. There would be a lot of hoops to jump through before that door would be unlocked and there would be insurmountable intrinsic barriers which meant I would never be allowed access to the keys. It didn’t matter how much I loved Jesus or how I advanced spiritually, the closed tabernacle was a fact of Catholic life I would  have to accept.

And then I grew up some more and realized the locked tabernacle has nothing to do with Jesus and everything to do with the clerical key keepers. Once I realized that, I knew if there was a tabernacle, it was always open and always meant to be that way. The only keys were faith and love, and those can’t be put in a pocket. Those have to be lived. Continue reading

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