• RSS Queering the Church

    • Catholic High School Coach Dismissed – for Homophobic Violence! September 19, 2014
      As we continue to see punitive actions against same – sex Catholic couples who choose to protect their relationships in civil marriage, it’s worth noting that there is in fact nothing in formal Church doctrine, as found in the formal…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
    • When a Priest DEMANDS that a Couple Divorce! September 19, 2014
      Cardinal Damasceno Assis of Aparecida has claimed that the church has always supported stable same – sex relationships. At the level of teaching, there may be some degree of truth in that. At the level of practice, its a different matter entirely.…Read more →
      Terence Weldon
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand September 15, 2014
      Gonna Stick My Sword in the Golden Sand: A Vietnam Soldier's Story has just been released. The title comes from a stanza of the gospel traditional, Down by the Riverside, with its refrain--"Ain't gonna study war no more." Golden Sand is a bold, dark, and intense retelling of the Vietnam experience through the eyes of an army scout that is […]
      Obie Holmen
    • Gay Games Symposium July 21, 2014
      I am pleased and honored that the UCC has asked me to moderate a symposium during the games entitled Queer Christians: Celebrating the Past, Shaping the Future. [[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • Where Are You? October 26, 2011
      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 […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Fran)
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Quote of the Day September 20, 2014
      There are many with a deep and abiding understanding of the depth and breadth of the climate, economic, ecological, social, political crisis we are facing and its common twisted roots. They will not just travel to New York [this weekend to participate in the People's Climate March] and then go quietly home afterwards feeling satisfied and personally red […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Photo of the Day September 19, 2014
      For more photos of Eddie, see:• I Knew It!• Out and About – Winter 2013-2014• Out and About – Spring 2013• Out and About – Winter-Spring 2013• Photo(s) of the Day – December 7, 2012• Out and About – Autumn 2012• Photo of the Day – March 23, 2011Image: Michael J. Bayly.
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
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  • RSS Far From Rome

    • the way ahead March 23, 2013
      My current blog is called the way ahead.
      noreply@blogger.com (PrickliestPear)
  • RSS The Gay Mystic

    • Back from the "Dead"/Book Reviews September 13, 2014
      Just getting back on my feet after eight weeks of very intense interactions with Czech kids in summer camp in the mountains. The experience was so intense I felt cut off from my own spirit from time to time, but worth every minute.  What great kids.I'm getting ready to review two books, John Boyne's magnificent fictional treatment of the sex abuse […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
    • The travails of young love July 30, 2014
      On a bit of a hiatus from blogging for the summer as I recollect my spirit, but I may have some reflections to share this weekend about the difficulties of young love. Been listening to tales of heartbreak from some of my young students. And young River Viiperi has broken from his partner of two years, Paris Hilton, so these must be difficult days for him as […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Jayden Cameron )
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • プロミスの返済は残高スライド元利定額返済方式 September 11, 2014
      返済に影響するものは金利だけ、そう考えているのであれば今一度利用している消費者金融のホームページを確認してみましょう。実は返済方式も返済に大きく影響するものなのです。例えばプロミスで見てみましょう。返済方式として残高スライド元利定額返済方式が採用されています。これがどういったものなのか、金融専門書を確認しても出てくるものではありません。そもそも、本来であれば管理均等返済方式や元金均等返済方式というのが返済方式の中でも一般的なものですが、残高スライド元利定額返済方式とは新たにできた造語だからです。今では多くの消費者金融がこの返済方式を採用しています。プロミスではこれによって月々の返済の最低金額が決められています。例えば借り入れが2万7000円までであれば1000円の最低返済額、5万5000円までであれば2000円 […]
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • A photo from my yard ... September 21, 2014
      The sky is a strange brownish orange today, I guess because of all the forest fires in the area ... Record Drought Hastens Dramatic Spread of California Wildfires. Here's a satellite image from Wikipedia of the fires burning back in May ...
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Cardinal Dolan’s Neocon Cheerleader

Originally posted at Talk to Action.

Since Pope Benedict announced his resignation  only one of the potential successors  (Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi) offers hope for a more moderate papacy. So while conservatives are unlikely to be disappointed, prominent American Catholic neo-con Michael Novak is rooting for Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York.  Indeed, if Novak’s one man dream team were to ascend to the Chair of Saint Peter, neo-conservatives like Novak would have the ability influence world events beyond their wildest dreams.  

And if Novak’s dream comes true it would certainly involve the kind of  state-based faith and buccaneer capitalism I have written a lot about.  As typical of many American neocons, Novak began his political odyssey on the Socialist Left but over time, lurched over to the neoconservative Right.  But he is still a revolutionary in search of a revolution.

Novak is a hyper-libertarian when it comes to money but leans towards collective state power on individual morality. And yet there is something profoundly hypocritical about complaining about any state -role in economics while advocating state directed and enforced neo-orthodox Catholic morality. When it comes to business it’s “laissez-faire”, but individuals including (maybe especially) non-Catholics should be coerced into Novak’s neo-Catholic orthodoxy by the long arm of the law.

We should remember that neo-conservatism is built upon a three-legged stool of nationalism (as opposed to patriotism); laissez-faire capitalism (as opposed to the New Deal legacy variety); and religious orthodoxy (as opposed to religious neutrality). It is with this in mind that I must wonder about Novak’s recent cheerleading for Cardinal Dolan to become the Church’s next pope.

While Novak did not mention Cardinal Dolan by name it isn’t difficult to figure out who he wants running things from Vatican City. The neocon “philosopher” has declared, “it’s time for an English speaking candidate to be considered for the post.” After this was pointed out to Cardinal Dolan in a recent interview, with the added proviso “Novak was also referring to the cultural contribution a U.S. Pope could make acting as a crossroads between European and Hispanic cultures” Dolan replied, “Novak is a very intelligent person and what he says always makes sense.”  

For all of his jovial outward appearances, Gotham’s prelate is a vicious culture warrior. For example, when the Opus Dei bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Robert Finn, was taking heat from the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), he joined Bill Donohue and the Catholic League in waging a scorched earth campaign against them, designed to drain it of money while scaring potential victims from cooperating with SNAP.  Novak, it should be noted, serves on the Catholic League’s Board of Advisors, along with other Catholic neocons. The Cardinal has also gone to war against the Affordable Care Act while blunting Catholic criticism of GOP Congressman Paul Ryan’s Ayn Rand, libertarian-inspired budget plan.

While Dolan might be the neconservative’s man, Novak’s cheer leading for him is about more than the papacy.  

It is no secret that neo-conservatism has taken a big hit since the debacle of the Iraq War and the halcyon days of  the Bush administration.  Indeed, some of the more pointed criticism of the 2003 invasion has come from the Vatican. Beyond that, much to neocon chagrin even the Papacy of Benedict XVI has denounced the libertarian economics favored by the likes of Robert George, George Weigel and Mr. Novak himself.

Short and sweet:  having a pope who speaks their language sure would help the Catholic necons rebound out of the doldrums.

Church Reform: Adapting Hans Kung’s 2010 Letter to Bishops

In the British “Call to Action” Google group, Chris McDonnell posted a useful contribution under the heading “Direction and Purpose“, in which he referred to Hans Kung’s 2010 open letter to the bishops, and asked “Does this help us forward?”.

This was my reply:

Does this help? Yes, I think it does – with one qualification. Kung was writing to the bishops, with respect to the worldwide church, and problems with the Vatican in particular. As Call to Action UK, we need to adapt this to our situation – and, mindful of the words of the “Serenity Prayer”, to be mindful of what we can and cannot do.

From Kung’s complete letter, I have extracted his six core recommendations, with comment on how we can adapt them, within the bounds of the possible, to our situation and competence.

 1. Do not keep silent: By keeping silent in the face of so many serious grievances, you taint yourselves with guilt.

This, to me, is what CtoA is all about. If, as was said at the October launch meeting, we are not an “issue” driven movement we should certainly be talking about “the issues” that concern us. There will certainly be disagreements between us on several of these: but we do need to discuss them, and encourage others to discuss them.

We also need to discuss them publicly – I am saddened that so much useful discussion is taking place here, in a closed Google group, and not publicly, in the forums of the main CtA website. (I will cross – post my own contributions, in both).

 2. Set about reform: Too many in the church and in the episcopate complain about Rome, but do nothing themselves.

It is too easy for us to assume that “reform” can be implemented only from above. The lesson of the Arab Spring, and of many other political transformations of recent decades, is that it often begins from below. Each of us has the capacity to initiate reform at some level – even if it’s only reform our own minds, in overcoming excessive and inappropriate deference to church authority.

3. Act in a collegial way

Collegiality is usually spoken of in terms of collegiality between the Vatican and the bishops, or between bishops and clergy. But we can also insist on collegiality at deanery and parish level. (And where we meet resistance from an unco-operative priest, see (1) and (2) above).

4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone

This is fundamental. Growing up in apartheid South Africa, educated in Catholic schools, it was drummed into me that obedience to God, justice and conscience took precedence over obedience to unjust laws. I firmly believe that the same principle applies to unjust laws and regulations promulgated by the Vatican. (Benedict XVI, as a young theologian, has said precisely the same thing).

 5. Work for regional solutions

The October launch meeting was a useful start, notable for two features in particular:

  • a strong attendance, in spite of what was really very limited advance publicity.
  • not surprisingly, there was disproportionately strong representation by the London and other South Eastern dioceses, and much weaker turnout from further afield.

We must each work to continue the process, and develop momentum, within our own regions: in our local dioceses, and taken down to deanery and even parish level.

6. Call for a council

I am certain that many of us would agree that we need another council of the whole church, and will happily call for one – but there is little we can do to make it happen. What we can possibly influence, is the creation of local councils: there is provision within existing church rules for diocesan synods. There may come a time when we are ready, at least in some dioceses, to work with the bishops towards such diocesan synods.

Where we are unable to gain the co-operation of the bishops, there could be another strategy: in Minnesota, where progressive – minded Catholics found themselves faced with a particularly conservative and intransigent ordinary who refused to negotiate with them, a group of Catholics set up an independent “Synod of All the Baptized”, for open and public discussion of matters of concern to the church.

That was clearly confrontational, and not necessarily what we want: but it does illustrate that there are different kinds of “councils” and synods. Where we are unable to set up local synods with formal recognition, there are other kinds of public gatherings that we can arrange for ourselves.

Books:

Links to Amazon.com (USA)

Chronicles of a Vatican II Bishop Remi De Roo, 2012

Why the Catholic Church needs Vatican III T.P.O’Mahony

Living beyond Conformity: An Experience of Ministry and Priesthood Owen Hardwicke

Priestless People? New Vision for the Catholic Church Vincent McLaughlin

Off Beam Off Side Off Menu: An Appeal From the Catholic Pews‘ Kevin Clarke 

‘Quo Vadis’ Collegiality in Canon Law Mary McAleese

What Happened at Vatican II John W O’Malley

Links to Amazon.co.uk (United Kingdom)

Chronicles of a Vatican II Bishop Remi De Roo, 2012

Why the Catholic Church needs Vatican III T.P.O’Mahony

Living beyond Conformity: An Experience of Ministry and Priesthood Owen Hardwicke

Priestless People? New Vision for the Catholic Church Vincent McLaughlin

Off Beam Off Side Off Menu: An Appeal From the Catholic Pews‘ Kevin Clarke 

‘Quo Vadis’ Collegiality in Canon Law Mary McAleese

 What Happened at Vatican II John W O’Malley

“Theologians’ Revolt” – International Edition

The Catholic Spring has gone global, with the publication of a notable “Jubilee Declaration on Church Authority”, sponsored by a range of top Catholic theologians, from countries on all continents.

That the institutional Catholic Church is in a state of crisis is surely an understatement. It has been widely castigated and scorned for the disclosures of sexual abuse and its grossly inadequate response, including cover-ups and protection of perpetrators. More recently, Vatileaks has uncovered extensive evidence of widespread corruption and financial shenanigans, alongside evidence of political in-fighting in the Vatican bureaucracy. The Catechism rules on sexual ethics, most notably on contraception, but also on masturbation, sex before marriage or after divorce, and on homosexuality are widely ignored – to such an extent that it can reasonable be asked whether they can truly be said to have been received by the faithful, whether they have the sensus fidelium (and if not, they do not have legitimate status as authentic Church teaching). Attempts by the Vatican and national bishops’ conferences to suppress important books by Catholic theologians (“The Sexual Person“, “Just Love” on sexual ethics), or “Jesus: an Historical Approximation” and “Quest for the Living God” on Christology and the nature of God) have had as their most notable result soaring sales. A common thread running through all of this is an unacceptable abuse of power and lack of accountability, by many of the bishops and Vatican officials, in complete contravention of the decisions and declarations at Vatican II in favour of a collegial church, and a Church of all the people.

The spirit of rebellion is most visible in the public resistance to the bishops’ opposition to gay marriage. It is notable that of the countries that currently recognize same – sex marriage, almost all are either substantially Catholic (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Canada, Argentina, Brazil), or the Lutheran countries of Scandinavia (Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Denmark). In the US, parish priests who have refused to disseminate bishops’ letters in opposition, or who have spoken up in favour, have received standing ovations from their congregations, Catholic politicians have been prominent in passing state laws for marriage equality, and opinion polls show overwhelming Catholic support for some form of legal recognition, either as full marriage, or as civil unions. Even in Italy, in at least one parish, same – sex couples take their place alongside others in marriage preparation classes.

Over the past two years, organized rebellion has been spreading. There was the theologians’ revolt in German – speaking countries, when several hundred professional theologians, representing a significant proportion of the total number, signed a public declaration of the need for fundamental reform – of sexual doctrines, on rules for ordination, and of the pervasive culture of clericalism. That was followed in Austria by a much more radical Catholic priests’ initiative, for a “Call for disobedience”, later repeated in Belgium. In Ireland, the critical Association of Catholic Priests has attracted wide support from the laity, and has since extended its activities to include all Catholics. Here in England, the Call to Action process initiated by a small group of priests and continuing to develop, is not as confrontational as the Austrian initiative, but springs from the same impulse.

But what I see as possibly the most significant development of all, a public declaration on church authority by top level theologians, has had relatively little publicity. All the other initiatives have included the need for a reform of church rules and culture in their list of concerns – but this declaration sees this as so fundamental that it is the only issue they address.  They are right to do so: unless the pervasive abuse of authority is addressed, unless we see proper accountability, all other attempts at reform, are likely to be stillborn.

The second notable feature of this declaration is the stature and impressive credentials of the signatories. Their numbers are relatively low (but constantly increasing), but these are men and women of great seniority and stature: almost all have professorial rank, or even heads of schools of theology, from a wide range of countries on all continents.

The third feature (as one would expect from people of such great scholarship) is how well substantiated is their case. Their website contains a both a clear statement of the problem, and an outline of the necessary steps for improvement, along with resource pages and much more.

Here’s the core of the declaration:

On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, we call on all other members of the People of God to assess the situation in our church.

Many of the key insights of Vatican II have not at all, or only partially, been implemented. This has been due to resistance in some quarters, but also to a measure of ambiguity that remained unresolved in certain Council documents.

A principal source of present-day stagnation lies in misunderstanding and abuse affecting the exercise of authority in our Church. Specifically, the following issues require urgent redress:

  • The role of the papacy needs to be clearly re-defined in line with Christ’s intentions. As supreme pastor, unifier and prime witness to faith, the pope contributes substantially to the health of the universal church. However, his authority may never obscure, diminish or suppress the authentic authority directly given by Christ to all members of the people of God.
  • Bishops are vicars of Christ, not vicars of the pope. They carry immediate responsibility for people in their dioceses, and joint responsibility, with other bishops and the pope, for the world-wide community of faith.
  • The central synod of bishops should assume a more decisive role in planning and guiding the maintenance and growth of faith within our complex world. To execute its task, the synod of bishops needs to be given appropriate structures.
  • The Second Vatican Council prescribed collegiality and co-responsibility on all levels. This has not been realised. Priestly senates and pastoral councils, as envisaged by the Council, should involve the faithful more directly in decision making concerning the formulation of doctrine, the running of the pastoral ministry and evangelization in secular society.
  • The abuse of choosing for leadership offices in the church only candidates of a particular mindset, should be eradicated. Instead, new norms should be laid down and supervised to ensure that elections to such offices are conducted in a fair, transparent and, to the extent possible, democratic fashion.
  • The Roman curia requires a more radical reform, in line with the instructions and vision of Vatican II. The curia should be retained for its useful administrative and executive roles.
  • The congregation for the doctrine of the faith should be assisted by international commissions of experts who have been independently chosen for their professional competence.

These are by no means all the changes that may be required. We also realise that the implementation of such structural revisions will need to be worked out in detail according to the possibilities and limitations of present and future circumstances. However, we stress that the seven reforms outlined above are urgent and their implementation should be started immediately.

The exercise of authority in our church should emulate the standards of openness, accountability and democracy achieved in modern society. Leadership should be seen to be honest and credible; inspired by humility and service; breathing concern for people rather than preoccupation with rules and discipline; radiating a Christ who makes us free; and listening to Christ’s Spirit who speaks and acts through each and every person.

CHURCHAUTHORITY.org

When the Tablet reported on this some time ago, in just a few lines tagged on to another report, they referred to 37 signatories, and a further 115 co-signatories. When I first came across it, the number of primary signatories had gone up to 50. By last night, it was at 60 (UPDATE:  By Nov 21st, it’s at 66). See the full listing, and their impressive credentials, here (A – H) and here (I – K) and here (L -P) and here (Q – Z). Meanwhile, the co-signatories had gone up to 1303 (with myself at that 1128). Add your signature here.

(Originally published on November 5th, at Queering the Church)

Books:

Margaret Farley: Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics

Elizabeth Johnson: Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God

Jose Pagola: Jesus, an Historical Approximation 

Todd Salzmann and Michael Lawler: The Sexual Person: Toward a Renewed Catholic Anthropology 

While Bishop Gumbleton Discloses Details of His Vatican Punishment, Cardinal Law Throws Himself a Big Party

So on 4 November Tom Gumbleton was in Milwaukeee revealing that Rome removed him from pastoring his inner-city African-American parish four years ago because he testified in support of extending the statute of limitations for survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Continue reading

John Allen on Vatican Critics as Sharks Out for Blood: That’s One Way of Looking at It

Followers of Vaticanologist (and, increasingly, Vatican head cheerleader) John Allen at National Catholic Reporter will find his latest screed at that site interesting, I think.  It compares critics of the Vatican to–get this–sharks.  Sharks circling in the water, who are now revved up by the blood they sense leaking out of the poor old Vatican as it encounters one hard knock after another in recent weeks. Continue reading

New York Times on Rome’s Coupling of Clerical Pedophilia and Women’s Ordination: Inept Posturing

This is a brief addendum to what I published yesterday about the document released by the Vatican this week, which couples clerical abuse of minors with women’s ordination.  I’d like to note, as a postscript to what I published yesterday, that today’s New York Times has an editorial addressing the document. The Times critique of the Vatican document runs along channels similar to my critique. Continue reading

Roman Guidelines Equate Clerical Pedophilia with Women’s Ordination: How Many Mistakes Can You Spot in This Picture?

I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all,” James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson.

The Vatican has just released its much-touted new norms for dealing with clerics found to be sexually abusing minors.  And what is attracting international media attention in the new norms issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which reserves to itself the right to handle clerical abuse cases worldwide, is not their guidelines for handling abuse cases.  It is, instead, the norms’ equation of the “attempt” to ordain a woman with pedophilia. Continue reading

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