Thursday, May 3, 2012

Reponse to NCR article of 2 May 2012 on the abuse of authority by the Vatican and the bishops

All good plans begin with fantasy about what if...? So, here goes! What if the North American, Northern European, Southeast Asian, Australian and New Zealand Roman Catholic Churches together with other Roman Catholic Churches simply told the Vatican that from now on they would decide their own issues locally through elected bishops, priests and laypeople; and that they would begin by lifting the rule of clerical celibacy; they would ordain women; they would admit divorced and remarried people to Communion; they would use liturgies approved by local commissions; they would approve the use of contraceptives; all this for starters; and they would keep the Vatican apprised of their decisions without granting Rome a veto? That would return the church to something like what it was for the first thousand years of its existence and allow continuous reform as needed. Far out? Indeed--like the Second Vatican Council! Still binding as promulgated by the then reigning pontiff, Paul VI. By the way, how come the Vatican is silent about those who dissent from and work against the official teaching of the church as contained in the Council's pronouncements. Cafeteria catholicism on the part of the Vatican? Listen to the overwhelming voices of the catholic faithful throughout the world--the sensus fidelium.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Contraception and the Roman Catholic Church

18 Feb 2012

Response to an NCR article on the discussion of ‘freedom of religion’ and ‘government mandated access to birth control’

What a sorry state Catholic moral theology has come to. The idea that the moment of conception brings into being an individual human being is not found in the works of even the most conservative moral theologians. The fertilized ovum develops into a pre-embryonic blastocyte that cannot be confused with being an individual human being because it is still capable of becoming more than one such being. According to the official teaching of the RC church, the 'ensoulment' of the embryo is the moment at which an individual human being is present. Thomas Aquinas--whose theology is considered the 'model' to be followed --wasn't sure when 'ensoulment' took place. He 'knew' that it was some time after conception and that boys got their 'souls' earlier than girls. Of course, no? The current science of human reproduction does not support--and is not compatible with--the 13th century's view of such things.

If we want to know what the moral status of birth control methods is within the RC church, we should ask the practicing Roman Catholics whose lives are affected rather than a minority group of supposedly celibate men, i.e., women and men who are engaged in making decisions about when and how many children to have. The overwhelming majority [+/- 98%] do not have problems of 'conscience' about using birth control methods condemned by the church. They regularly receive Holy Communion without visiting the confessional; their informed consciences do not accuse them of bad faith. After all, Humanae Vitae is an encyclical containing the opinion of a 1960's pope. It should certainly be considered, but it is hardly the final word.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Vatican's Role in Abuses

One of the comments on John Allen’s article, “A Blessing for the Vatican ….” In the September 23 issue of  “The National Catholic Reporter” refers to an article in Der Spiegel interviewing the Swiss-German theologian Hans Kueng  <,1518,787325,00.html>. In his interview Professor Kueng refers to the—so far, successful—attempt on the part of Pope John Paul II, his successor Pope Benedict XVI, and the papal curia at the Vatican to reverse the reforms approved by the Second Vatican Council. The reversal of those reforms has been vividly demonstrated in the Vatican- directed, international attempt to cover up and minimize the world-wide sex abuse of victims in the Roman Catholic Church. Although this abuse has caught the attention of the non-Roman Catholic world, other—strictly—internal abuses of Vatican II reforms have had a significant impact on the integrity and credulity of the dominant culture of the Church’s leadership.


Freedom of Religion?

NCR   15 Nov 2011 Bishop says freedom of religion is under attack in the USA

I was naive enough to believe that the bishops were actually talking about freedom of religion. Complaints about the 'secularization' of our society misunderstand that democracy implies separation of 'church--including synagogue and mosque, etc.--and state'. Freedom of religion implies freedom to believe--or not believe--in any particular religion. True freedom of religion requires a secular state in order that no one be coerced in matters of religion. The attempt by the RCC to impose its set of official beliefs about sexual morality and reproduction on all citizens is a violation of freedom of religion not a support for it. The overwhelming majority of Roman Catholics in the USA reject the RCC teaching on artificial contraception; a good percentage also refuse to follow The RCC teaching on freedom of choice for women regarding abortion. No law of the USA requires anyone--pregnant woman or physician--to agree to an abortion. If a RC hospital does not want to provide all of the medical services for people that are part of legally and professionally approved procedures, then it should declare that and forego any taxpayer derived funds. The constant reference to 'unborn babies', 'murder of children', and the like are ignorant (willfully?) of the fact that in Western civilization an embryo or fetus only acquires the status of person upon birth; until then the pregnant woman has control over her own body. What does the RCC believe? Ask the Vatican if you will; or ask the overwhelming majority of practicing Roman Catholics. The answers will not be the same!

NCR 14 October On the Distribution of Communion

NCR 14 ctober, 2011

It is with great sadness that I see this kind of response to the distribution of Holy Communion by "Extraordinary" Eucharistic Ministers. It strikes yet another blow to the Vatican II concept of a Eucharistic community celebrating together with the ordained ministers. The Roman 'model' of receiving on the tongue accentuates the 'unclean' nature of the hands of the faithful to receive Holy Communion. The insistence of the laity kneeling during the Eucharistic Prayer--at least one of which declares that we all have been made worthy to stand before God--is yet another instance of that inconsistency. When I preside at the Eucharistic am I actually the only person--a priest--who has been made worthy to 'stand' before God? The gradual, intentional destruction of the norms and clear intentions of Vatican II by the Vatican, the Curia, and many bishops raise deep questions about the authority of a Roman Catholic Ecumenical Council, promulgated by the then Pope Paul VI,  the decrees of which are being systematically abrogated by the present Pope, his predecessor and bishops appointed by those Popes. Was Joyce really right when he wrote that "the center will not hold"?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The "new" English Roman Missal: Whose translation?

The idea that the translation of the Latin Rite Mass into English should be done by a handful of non-native speakers of English in Rome rather than the overwhelming majority of native-English speaking bishops and scholars in the entire Roman Catholic Church is so absurd that one wonders about the motives behind it. Whether intended or not, it discredits not only those bishops and scholars but the intention of Vatican II for the use of the vernacular in liturgy. The English-speaking RC Church throughout the world should simply decline to use a translation of its liturgy not made by itself; I doubt that the Vatican would be ready to excommunicate the majority of the world's English-speaking Roman Catholics for the sake of such an absurdity.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

How to begin the Revolution

When Prof. Kueng [As quoted in The National Catholic Reporter, June 11, 2011] suggests a 'peaceful revolution' many people behave as though they have never heard of such a thing in the church. Several contributors to these pages have raised the question, 'How do we begin that peaceful revolution?'. Perhaps recalling some historical examples may help us to understand what a peaceful revolution would look like. The 15th century Council of Constance accepted the resignation of one anti-pope, dethroned two others, and elected the next pope. Likewise, when John XXIII convened Vatican II, the papal curia tried to take over the council by preparing the proposals for the college of bishops to adopt. They refused and gave the church one of the most fruitful councils that it had ever had. The curia and subsequent popes have tirelessly worked since then to overturn Vatican II's results.

Revolutions--peaceful or otherwise--do not begin with those who are in power, but with those who use the power they have to challenge the status quo. A group of Episcopalians, when asked by several Roman Catholic monks how the Episcopal Church managed to achieve approval of the ordination of women to the priesthood, replied, "Three retired bishops ordained a group of women to the priesthood and then turned to the wider church and asked, 'Now what?'" The moment was ripe in 1976 and now almost every Church in the Anglican Communion has accepted the ordination of women. The Roman Catholic bishops who have ordained women priests in Europe and the United States have not acted in vain despite their excommunication by an increasingly weaker Vatican. Maryknoll priest Fr. Bourgeois has not acted in vain by assisting at the ordination of women priests despite his excommunication. Every act of civil disobedience, based on the church's own teachings of justice and human dignity, weakens the power exercised unjustly by a papacy, curia and hierarchy determined to use that power as a violent means to oppress and control others. The church, like a nation, cannot continue to exist divided against it self, half slave and half free.