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.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

On the condemnation of a prominent Catholic theologian’s book by the US bishops’ committee on doctrine

Most Bishops don't have advanced degrees in theology; they often write and say things that are theologically incorrect and that do not clearly express the official teaching of the church. Many of them think that simply by being bishops they have been endowed with a level of learning that they had not had before their consecration. The wiser bishops tend to have competent theologians to whom they look for help when they need it. Cardinal Wuerl does not seem to be in that group nor do his colleagues. They don't even seem to observe their own procedures. My sense is that they ignored the proper procedures in this case because it never occurred to them that women can be theologians--just like they can't be priests. Unfortunately for them, many laypeople--men and women--have become increasingly knowledgeable about theology. It is arrogant of the bishops to believe that their theological knowledge is greater, by virtue of their office, than that of lay and ordained theologians.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Response to a comment in NCR concerning Australian Bp. Morris’s removal

"Most bishops legally own their own dioceses and can establish a true Catholic Church at any time, free of Roman monarchical tyranny and corruption." "Magari" as one says in Italian, "--If only it were so!" The legacy of the First Vatican Council [1870's] comes back with a vengeance.
A bit of conciliar history helps us to understand what led up to Vatican I [1869-1870]. The last general council of the Western Catholic Church before the Reformation was the Council of Constance  [1414-1418] that was attended by a representative number of bishops from the Western Church and—even—the Byzantine emperor and a number Eastern Church bishops. It accepted the abdication of one anti-pope and removed two others, electing a new pope. The Council of Trent  [1545-1563] only included what was left of the papal church; those bishops who disagreed with the papal party were systematically excluded and—eventually—alienated from the papal church. It, as well as the two subsequent councils [Vatican I and Vatican II] cannot, therefore, be called a general council of the Western Church. 
Two dogmatic conclusions of Vatican Council I, i.e., the ordinary universal jurisdiction of the pope, and the infallibility of the pope placed the papal church outside traditional Catholic teaching. The adoption of these two doctrines as dogmas for the papal church radically affected the possibility of restoring unity in the Western Church, and between the papal church and with the Eastern Church. The effect of universal jurisdiction for the papal church has been the reduction of the local bishop to being no more than the vicar of the pope; the effect of infallibility has been an increasingly expanding and unique final authority of the pope exercised in a way that is secretive and beyond appeal.
When we examine the removal of Bishop Morris of Toowoomba, Australia in this context, we discover the application of infallibility leading to the removal of the bishop. In 1975, Pope Paul VI had sent a letter to the then Archbishop of Canterbury arguing that women were not valid subjects for ordination and warning that it would make the attainment of unity more difficult if the Church of England went ahead with the ordination of women. The Pope instructed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to issue a statement that it did in 1976. The concluding paragraph of it reads as below:

Inter Insigniores
October 15, 1976
Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

For these reasons, in execution of a mandate received from the Holy Father [Editor: Paul VI] and echoing the declaration which he himself made in his letter of 30 November 1975,6 the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith judges it necessary to recall that the Church, in fidelity to the example of the Lord, does not consider herself authorized to admit women to priestly ordination. The Sacred Congregation deems it opportune at the present juncture to explain this position of the Church.

There was nothing in the Pope’s letter or the Congregation’s Statement claiming that this is an infallible declaration. On 22 May 1994, Pope John Paul II issued an Apostolic Letter concerning the ordination of women containing the following conclusion:

Apostolic Letter 
ordinatio sacerdotalis
of John Paul II to the Bishops 

of the Catholic Church 
on Reserving Priestly Ordination 
to Men Alone

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.
(Edtor’s note) Lk 22:32 is Jesus’s admonition to Peter to is to “strengthen” his brethren. Once again, no reference to papal infallibility.

Back to Bishop Morris: Pope Benedict accused Bishop Morris of disagreeing with an infallible statement of the pope when he said in a letter to his diocese in 1976  that the desperate shortage of priests could lead to discussion of the ordination of women. Benedict has raised these statements to the level of infallible statements by the pope and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The statements heretofore only declared that there was to be no further discussion of the subject. The pope, raising them to the level of infallible statements, has used his authority of ‘universal ordinary jurisdiction’ to remove Bishop Morris from jurisdiction over his diocese.
One sees here the fruit of Vatican I’s ‘dogmas’. We can easily understand the promulgation of the two ‘dogmas’ as a reaction to the pope’s loss of temporal power with the defeat of the Vatican’s military forces at the  hands of the forces of the new Republic.  The present application of these two ‘dogmas’ in prohibiting further discussion of the ordination of women [or the elimination of celibacy for Latin Rite priests] Benedict XVI has—once again—taken a position that is contrary to the spirit of Vatican II’s ecclesiology. The support for the ordination of women by most European and English-speaking Roman Catholics—as well as others—will eventually prevail not just as a response to the shortage of celibate male priests, but as a matter of justice.    

Sunday, January 30, 2011

A response to the controversy between a Roman Catholic bishop And a Roman Catholic professional organization

The conflict between Bishop Olmstead and the Catholic Health Association is a symptom of a serious problem for the heretofore unquestionable authority of the hierarchy: a group of lay and religious experts have challenged the opinion expressed by a bishop on a critical moral theological issue. The CHA and the particular ethics commission at the hospital in question have provided an argument for their decision based on present Roman Catholic moral theology; the bishop does not enter into the discussion, but --in effect--says, "They are wrong, because I am a bishop and I say so." Increasingly, clergy, religious, and lay people are standing up and saying, "The hierarchy is wrong; the hierarchy has lied to us; the hierarchy has placed itself above the accepted principles on the basis of which we decide what is acceptable and what is not."

This is a situation that transcends simple interpretations of what the authentic opinion of the Church is. The 'sensus fidelium' and the 'sensus magisterium' of theological experts have asserted a critical right to be consulted in what the authentic Catholic faith is. The Pope, the papal curia, and the bishops are being held responsible for their opinions according to established norms by an educated laity and the authoritative opinions of theologians. It is no longer possible for the curia to declare that a particular theologian is no longer a recognized Catholic theologian for his or her opinions to be ignored.

We have entered into an era in which "moral authority' transcends other kinds of authority. One must engage the other in dialogue and argue honestly and openly for one's point of view in order to persuade other-minded people. It is no longer acceptable simply to declare conclusions without the support of rational discourse: the Pope, the Curia, the bishops [either individually or in union with one another] are no longer able to impose their opinions on the rest of the Church by fiat. Their positions must stand the test of rational discourse in order to obtain the agreement of the Church.

The exercise of such a new authority on the part of the Patriarch of the West, the Pope is set forth in the Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission's “Report: Authority in the Church III". It needs to be adopted by both churches and implemented in order for us to be obedient to Christ's prayer for the unity of the Church.