• RSS Queering the Church

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS Spirit of a Liberal

    • To my Republican Friends July 6, 2020
      You voted for Trump even though you didn't like him. Doubted his character. Questioned his fitness for the job. Yet, your aversion to Hillary was even greater The post To my Republican Friends first appeared on Spirit of a Liberal.
      Obie Holmen
    • Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist May 4, 2020
      The Midwest Independent Publishers Association (MIPA) recently named Wormwood and Gall as one of three finalists for a Midwest Book Award in the Religion/Philosophy category. The awards program, which is organized by MIPA, recognizes quality in independent publishing in the Midwest. The post Wormwood and Gall a Midwest Book Award Finalist first appeared on S […]
      Obie Holmen
  • RSS There Will be Bread

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS The Wild Reed

    • Photo of the Day February 5, 2023
      Related Off-site Link:Mild Temps Sunday and Beyond – Ron Trenda (Minnesota Public Radio News, February 5, 2023).See also the previous Wild Reed posts:• Photo of the Day – January 20, 2023• Wintering• Brigit Anna McNeill on “Winter’s Way”• Brigit Anna McNeill on Hearing the Wild and Natural Call to Go Inwards• Winter Beauty• Winter Light• After Record-Breakin […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
    • Quote of the Day February 4, 2023
      I believe in the human capacity to learn from mistakes and to make amends, and that atonement should be rewarded not punished. Rep. Omar and I disagree regularly on policies, both domestic policy and foreign policy. She has made statements that [I experienced as] hurtful, painful and we have spoken about those. I do not believe that’s grounds for removal fro […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Michael J. Bayly)
  • RSS Bilgrimage

  • RSS Enlightened Catholicism

  • 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

    • A saint for the millenials: Carlo Acutis beatified today in Assisi. October 10, 2020
       A saint for the millenials: the young Italian teen, Carlo Acutis, who died in 2006 of galloping Leukemia, will be beatified today in Assisi by Pope Francis (last step before being officially declared a saint). Carlo came from a luke warm Catholic family, but at the age of 7, when he received his first 'Holy Communion', he displayed an astonishing […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
    • Ronan Park and Jack Vidgen: The Travails of Gay Pop Stars October 28, 2019
      (Jack Vidgen)Quite by accident, through a comment from a performance arts colleague of mine, I stumbled across the recent bios of two boy teen singing sensations, both of whom made a big splash worldwide 8 years ago. The first, Jack Vidgen, won Australia's Got Talent Contest in 2011 at the age of 14, primarily for his powerful renditions of Whitney Hust […]
      noreply@blogger.com (Unknown)
  • RSS The Jesus Manifesto

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • RSS John McNeill: Spiritual Transformations

  • RSS Perspective

    • Bob Marley February 7, 2023
      Happy birthday today to Jamaican musician Bob Marley, who died in 1981. Here is Eric Clapton doing one of Marley's more well known songs, I Shot the Sheriff ...
      noreply@blogger.com (crystal)

Good Friday, Easter, and Continuing the Conversation about Clerical Abuse of Children

It seems not everyone may have gotten Michael Sean Winters’ Good Friday memo at America’s “In All Things” blog yesterday—pronouncing that “Good Friday is too solemn a day for blogging, especially about something as ephemeral as politics.”  Because important conversations continued happening on Catholic blog sites around the world yesterday, and overtly political conversations continued to take place right in Catholic churches yesterday.

Including the Vatican itself, where the papal preacher Rev. Raniero Cantalamessa compared the suffering of the pope and the Catholic church at this time of “violent and concentric attacks” (by whom, one wonders) to the historic suffering of the Jews.  This on the heels of his recent homily, about which I blogged yesterday, in which Rev. Cantalamessa preached that priests are suffering in an unparalleled way today, due to the ongoing revelations about abuse of children and the church’s cover-up of such abuse.

The pope as alter Christus, bound to the pillar and scourged, and the clergy as the suffering, messianic people of God bearing the pain of everything for the rest of us.  Something seems completely wrong-headed about the picture being painted for us by Catholic apologists right now, doesn’t it, when one looks outside the church door at the long line of real victims of abuse, carrying real suffering—suffering inflicted by those very men we’re being told to regard as Christ, and therefore as beyond reproach and criticism.

The assumption that Good Friday is somehow off-limits for blogging or political commentary strikes me as exceptionally strange—as theologically strange—since it’s a day of remembrance of a savior who was executed by the state on charges of sedition, because he called on his followers to walk with him along a path of discipleship towards the reign of God.  And in doing that, he was rightly understood by the powers that be as seditious in a uniquely threatening way, because the reign of God towards which he walked and asked others to walk turned the normal expectations of his world—and of all social worlds—upside down.

It put the poor first and the rich last.  It gave women a voice and asked men for once—for one precious moment—to stop talking and listen.  To despised women.

It spoke of children as models of faith and of millstones to be tied around the necks of those who shatter the souls of children.

It told us to call no man father.

It invited every voice into the conversation and gave a privileged place to those traditionally excluded by the power structures of the world.

And it led, this vision of a world turned upside down by a new perspective of faith, to Jesus’s capital punishment at the hands of Roman authorities on the charge that he had incited sedition among the Jewish people.

There is no walking in the path Jesus sets before his followers without political discourse, political discernment, political action.  Without taking sides and avowing commitments.  Because faith and discipleship are inherently political.  They have political implications even when we do not intend to involve ourselves directly in political movements.

As the saintly Brazilian bishop Dom Hélder Câmara once said, “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint.  When I ask why they are poor, they call me a Communist.”

It would seem, too, that Good Friday and the Sacred Triduum would be an entirely appropriate time to continue the politically significant conversation about the abuse crisis in the Catholic church for two other reasons.  One of those is obvious: revelations about the cover-up of clerical abuse of children continue to pour forth, even at this holy season.  And these ought to preoccupy the attention of all Catholics, and to receive immediate responses.

When people have been hurt, have had their lives shattered, action is an appropriate response.  Action now.  And action includes conversation—inclusive conversation in which voices that may make us itchy and uncomfortable finally have a hearing.  Because our healing, and the authenticity of our faith commitment, may depend on whether or not we choose to let those voices into the conversation, and once we have done so, to let them count.

I mean voices like the voices of those who have been abused, for instance, and whom we have found it possible to shut out year after year, as we walk into our churches to kiss the wood of the cross on which our savior was crucified.

Another reason that this conversation appears entirely appropriate for the weekend that begins with Good Friday and ends with Easter is one about which Michael Sean Winters himself wrote two years ago, when he observed in an essay at Slate that Benedict denounced the “filth” in the church in his Good Friday homily in 2005 weeks before his election to the papacy.  Benedict’s statement about filth was and continues to be heard as his commentary on priests who abuse minors.

With Benedict setting this example, it seems not only appropriate but imperative that we continue the discussion of the abuse crisis and its cover-up through Good Friday and Easter—and on those holy days themselves—and on into Eastertide.

Because we still have much to talk about.  And because many voices that ought to have reverberated through those holy celebrations in the past have not had a hearing, even as we talk on and on about crucifixion, discipleship, holy living, and being church in the world today.

Voices absolutely necessary to our conversation, if any of that talk is to mean anything more than empty words.

The graphic for this posting is a depiction of the crucifixion by Chinese artist He Qi, which Jim Rigby used last Easter to illustrate a posting at his Rag Blog about the political implications of Easter.

Cross-posted from Bilgrimage, 4 April 2010.


2 Responses

  1. Another great article. I am somewhat annoyed to hear some of these priests and bishops go on about how the Pope is suffering in all this. Too bad they don’t have as much concern for the suffering of those children who were abused. “Scourged”? I think more of those children in Ireland and other places who had the crap beaten out of them as suffering scourging than I do the Pope.

    • I’m glad you find the posting valuable, Mark.

      Yes, the obscene attempt to appropriate victim status to themselves at this point when the spotlight is finally on the real victims of the clericalism that has grown so much stronger under the last two popes is creating revulsion around the world.

      It’s not a wise strategy of response, to say the least. And hardly one fitting a Christian institution.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: