Readings: Two Brave Bishops

This is about the need for dialogue in the church. The springboard consists of two essays I read recently that dealt indirectly with women’s ordination; but the real topic was the effort of two great American bishops who courageously pursued the discussion. They sensed that the ordination might not take place in their lifetimes, but they knew it had to be discussed, because it was intimately connected with other issues that kept the church from being true to its mission, including the patriarchal attitude of the leadership and the second class status of women which, even 20 years ago, was perceived as an injustice in the church.

The articles: Christopher J. Kauffman, “Bishop P. Francis Murphy Proposes the Ordination of Women Priests,” in U.S. Catholic Historian (Fall 2011) and William McDonough, “Bishop lived teachings of Lumen Gentium for 37 years,” National Catholic Reporter, July 6-19, 2012.


The articles struck me because I have been working on an essay on the Suppression of the Society of Jesus (1773-1814) in the United States when the first American Bishop John Carroll found himself the elected head of about 22 “former” Jesuits, then all the priests in America, and had to decide how “American” the American church would be. He was adamant it resisting top-down orders that would compromise the freedoms Americans cherished, including both freedom of religion and freedom of speech, and insisted that newly-arrived priests study and embrace local culture. These two bishops, now deceased, used their American freedom of speech as freely as they could for what they saw as the good of the church.

Bishop Murphy, born in 1933, went through the standard training of one seen as apt for promotion: Baltimore seminary, the North American College in Rome, the Gregorian University, briefly an assistant in a Baltimore parish, back to Rome as assistant rector of the North American College, an enthusiast for the Vatican Council in 1962-65. Then back to Baltimore as Bishop Shehan’s secretary, to auxiliary bishop in 1976. I list all this to stress that he was hardly a radical. But he chose as his motto: “To listen to God speaking in human words.”

Women’s ordination came to the fore while the American bishops were working on their third major pastoral letter — following The Challenge of Peace (1983) and Economic Justice for All (1986), considered masterpieces largely because the authors had consulted widely, held hearings, listened to experts. This was on the role of women. It went through several drafts, without outside consultation, and the fourth draft, wrote McCarthy in “Let’s Start Over,” in Commonweal (September 25, 1992), “underscores the old dual-model whereby men define their own roles as well as those of women. Patriarchy: Of all the weaknesses of this system operating in the church, this system of dominance excludes women from presiding at the table where the community is fed.”

The article inspired strong response, including personal letters from 5 bishops (including Bishop Matthew Clark of Rochester, Joseph Ferrero of Honolulu, Charles Buswell of Colorado, Walter Sullivan in Richmond, and Howard Hubbard of Albany) praising his leadership and courage. Murphy died of cancer at 66 in 1999. A woman friend noticed at the end that he had a hearing aid. “Has he over-taxed his hearing in being such a good listener?”

Bishop Raymond Lucker, of the New Ulm diocese in Minnesota, died of cancer in 2001. He had been devoted to the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, which states that the whole body of the faithful, who “have received an anointing from the holy one,” cannot be mistaken in their belief. Shortly before his death he was talking about the debate between Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and Cardinal Walter Kasper on the relationship between the local and universal churches and was yearning for the church to come together and talk about the issues that divided it. Recently he had been quoted in the NCR as being in favor of ordaining women, but that, he said was inaccurate: He was for talking about it in free and open discussion, all theological schools. Then all should listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the church. Whatever consensus the church came to he would support. One wonders today what all the bishops, given a chance to speak freely, would say.

Recently I heard an essay on NPR about the rhetoric of Winston Churchill that carried England through the war. One idea that might apply to the church stuck: A civilization where every man cannot speak his mind cannot long endure.

Raymond A. Schroth

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Joe Kash
6 years 9 months ago
I think it is even greater bravery when a bishop, in union with the Church, takes a strong counter-cultural public stand.  It is so much easier and less brave to go along with the current cultural winds.  Ask Chic-fil-a what happens when you take a stand that is counter cultural.
6 years 9 months ago
15 – Sandi) I don't think this is going to do it, but please allow a few lines commenting on your scholarly post referencing my earlier one. Yes, my post is inadequate, hopefully not “woefully inadequate” as you suggested. You see, I just don’t know all there is to know. Come to think of it even Scripture is inadequate (incomplete) based on what John says in his Gospel, that if everything that Jesus and the early Church said and did were recorded, not even all the libraries of the world could hold the books required!

 You and everybody else must remember that, my postings are the opinions of an ordinary man who know a little about many things, but not very much about anything! But no matter what, I am Roman Catholic by grace and by choice. As such, I believe in and follow the teachings of that Church, including her position on women as priests. If the Church ever corrects that view allowing women to become ministerial priests, I will correct mine too, because I live by Augustine’s wisdom quoted in my earlier post, “We must FEEL with the Church.” As the Church FEELS so do I.

 I don’t think it’s possible to be Catholic and think (FEEL) otherwise. Certainly one may be a “good” whatever, but one cannot be a good Catholic and not FEEL with the Church! Inadequate conclusion? This is how I see it.

 My Church, for want of a better word, has two PERSONAS, one human, one Divine. The human one is the Institutional Church with all its warts, scandals, intrigues, humanness along with an enormous amount effort towards goodness. The other persona is the Body of Christ whom we (the Baptized are) and therein the holiness of God himself resides and in God’s holiness we share, essentially Sacramentally. “Where shall we go, Lord? You have the words of eternal life!”

 The Body of Christ is the real Church and the one I love! The one I believe in wholeheartedly. About your comment that in the Church, women are not allowed to think or speak theologically. Wrong! Starting with the Blessed Virgin Mary, through the ages to women like Catherine of Siena, Teresa of Avila, Teresa Benedicta, Dorothy Day and an endless list of others, women have always supplied brainpower to the Church along with the theology, especially the theology of holiness the one end towards which all theology points. God bless you!
Joe Kash
6 years 9 months ago
Thomas Farrell, your post shows why pope JPII and pope Benedict are couragous indeed. They must endure the slings and arrows of accusations such these accusations that their opinions are not rooted in their intellect and faith but their male insecurity. (I think that is what they call an ad hominem attack).  

That's so beautifully absurd!  Nice post.  You gave me a good laugh when I needed it.
6 years 9 months ago
Sandi (18) – YOU WIN!  I marvel at the veracity of your words, the “overturned tables” of anger in the Temple of your heart, showing like Jesus, your zeal for the integrity of our Father’s House, the Church! So with a somewhat elongated period (.) let me conclude our discussion as follows.  O.K.?

Granted there’s lots of excrement in the Baptismal Water of the Vatican, some of it from the People of God like  you and me, because of ugly warts on the face of our souls called “sin.” But mostly   because the Vatican is also the political arm of the Institutional Church and although politics is a legitimate vehicle of human exchange, often corruption destroys its moral vitality, in a kind of ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch your back’ interplay – see for example how Popes have been elected and Bishops chosen as leaders of the Mystical Body of Christ, almost from the beginning, the Mystical Body being  wherein resides  the truly One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.  Find it and you shall have found the "Pearl of Great Price!"

May I suggest you try to validate the reason for your Catholic faith by praying, meditating and studying the mystery of Faith in the Mystical Body, to help you wade through the waste material all around the Institutional Church, where interestingly, despite the stench you’ll find some beautiful flowers blooming, yes, even there!  God bless you!  Sandi, find the PEARL!
Crystal Watson
6 years 9 months ago
Thanks for this post.

 I've come across a few brave souls who have spoken up for women's ordination, or at least the opportunity to discuss the subject, like Robert Egan SJ ...   ... and William Barry SJ ...  ... but I wasn't aware of any bishops doing so.

Nothing speaks so strongly of weakness and fear as the refusla to even discuss a subject.
6 years 8 months ago
#22 – Sandi – I don’t want to reopen our online conversation, although I do agree more than you may realize with your zeal in addressing the problems in the Catholic Church, even if not able to accept 100% your methodology in “lancing” them. You certainly are articulate and my and your former Church, could use your skills in her defense. “I wish you were hot, or cold, but since you are neither hot, or cold but lukewarm, I will vomit you out of my mouth!” These words showing the Spirit’s abhorrence of wishy-washy Believers is a favorite and assuredly do not apply to you!

 So why do I write? I decided to write because you mentioned in your last post that I did not address any of the issues you raised and so I feel I owe you an explanation. The reason is pretty mundane and economically driven, in that, our computer is hooked-up to the telephone meaning that when in use the computer closes down the phone and when the phone is in use it closes down the computer. I must keep my posts short because my wife, for example, may need the phone, or someone trying to call cannot get through, or she also uses the computer and it’s not fair of me to tie up the computer unmindful of her needs. Also, after 45 years of marriage parenting with my dear wife four children, one of whom went to the Lord in the third month of the first trimester in miscarriage, and now having seven grandkids I (we) have a lot on our plates and more to be concerned with than lengthy online posts – although I LOVE THE CONVERSATION!

 So, in a nutshell that’s it ,and simply don’t have the capacity, the time, to respond professorial-like to online converse. I feel better for explaining to you.Thanks and again, God bless you!
Joe Kash
6 years 9 months ago
Yes Vince, popular culture and the media portray Chic-fil-a as homophobic and sexist.  you prove my point. 
Thomas Farrell
6 years 9 months ago
The late American cultural historian and theorist Walter J. Ong, S.J. (1912-2003) of Saint Louis University published a book-length study of male agonistic tendencies: FIGHTING FOR LIFE: CONTEST, SEXUALITY, AND CONSCIOUSNESS (1981), the published version of Ong’s 1979 Messenger Lectures at Cornell University. The Greek word “agon” means contest, struggle.
Ong attributes the extreme propensity toward agonistic behavior among human males to male insecurity. The extreme opposite of agonistic behavior would be a catatonic state. But a mid-range between these two bipolar extremes would be desirable not only for human males but also for human females.
On the one hand, when Ong discusses male insecurity, he does not deny female insecurity, which he sees as real enough.
On the other hand, he holds that male insecurity is rooted in the male’s recognition that females are more important for the reproduction of the human race than males are. There is no contest here. Ironically, the point of much male agonistic behavior is to establish the importance of a certain male or certain males.
Moreover, Ong argues that each human male needs to work to establish a specifically masculine sense of personal identity. By definition, this specifically masculine sense of personal identity is designed to be set over against the feminine forces in the male’s consciousness. In this respect, the male’s drive to establish a specifically masculine sense of personal identity can be understood as anti-feminine. Now, this anti-feminine spirit can remain largely healthy. But it can also go awry and become unhealthy.
So Pope John-Paul II’s papal edict forbidding further discussion of the possibility of the ordination of women to the priesthood in the Roman Catholic Church is probably best understood as growing out of the male insecurity of Pope John-Paul II.
In a similar way, the CDF’s recent critique of the LCWR, which was issued with the approval of Pope Benedict XVI, is probably best understood as growing out of the male insecurity of Pope Benedict XVI and Cardinal Levada and others in the CDF.
The late David Toolan, S.J., of AMERICA discussed Ong’s account of male agonistic tendencies in his article “The male agony: According to Walter J. Ong” in COMMONWEAL, volume 119, number 20 (November 20, 1992): pages 13-18.
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
"Ask Chic-fil-a what happens when you take a stand that is counter cultural." How on earth is Chic-fil-a "counter culture"? They are right at the center of a culture marked by homophobia and sexism.

That same culture is at work in the Church so I was interested to read about these bishops.
Sandi Sinor
6 years 9 months ago
No matter its source (I'll leave the psychological analysis and jargon to others), it's pretty clear that the church's leadership is pathetically ''insecure'' when it comes to women. They are so desperate at this point to keep women under ''control'' that they do some really dumb things - like throw mud at the women religious who aren't subservient enough to suit the bishops. What is with these men anyway? Are their tender little male egos really so fragile? Insecure doesn't even describe it  - it seems that some of them are acting out of fear instead of insecurity. Truth be told, the fear is justified. Most women aren't going to go back to being what these popes want them to be. They need to get over it. It's going to be slow and painful for them, but the reality is that patriarchy is dying. Thanks be to God.

Nice to know there have been at least a few ''real'' men among recent bishops.  Thanks for the article.
Vince Killoran
6 years 9 months ago
"You prove my point."  Thanks Joe, but I didn't think you should equate me with "popular culture"!

p.s. please sort out what you mean by counter culture, popular culture, and the media.  It seems very busy and imprecise.
Jim McCrea
6 years 9 months ago
Chic-a-fil is bad for one's health in more than one way.
Jim McCrea
6 years 9 months ago
"Nice to know there have been at least a few 'real' men among recent bishops.

And note that you had to say "have been" as opposed to "are."  At least for the US.  Other countries still foster integrity and fortitude within some of the clerical ranks, ending up with "uppity" priests and independent bishops.
Sandi Sinor
6 years 9 months ago
#10 -Other countries still foster integrity and fortitude within some of the clerical ranks, ending up with ''uppity'' priests and independent bishops.

I would love to know who and where they are - especially independent bishops. Are those other names (besides the two deceased bishops who are featured) in the post alive or dead?  A couple in Australia, but one was canned by Rome. At least one in Ireland (Martin of Dublin), but he seems to be walking on tip-toes. Can't really blame him. He knows what will happen if he speaks up too much and he probably can't afford to give up his retirement by getting fired.

The priests in Ireland and Austria are kicking up a fuss, and the hierarchy is starting to crack down on them. It seems they don't want to come down too hard yet or the people in the pews might kick back, but they can't let the fire burn too long or it might erupt into a 4-alarm and be out of control. 
Thomas Piatak
6 years 9 months ago
Joe Kash is exactly right.
6 years 9 months ago
I’m quite sure if asked for a private opinion, many Catholic Bishops would support ordaining women to the priesthood. Did St. Paul create wriggle room by teaching, “in Christ there is neither male, or female.” Isn't priesthood all about being "in Christ?" I wish someone would wring it dry, explaining exactly what Paul was talking about.

 However, if the word “definitively” means “defined” then I don’t see how Catholic fidelity can permit continued talk about women as priests, since Blessed Pope John Paul II said he spoke “definitively” when he declared that it isn’t that the Church doesn’t want to ordain women as priests, but rather it’s because she doesn’t have the authority from Christ to do so. Case closed? It seems not.

 Interestingly the question of women as priests is not necessarily related to the Womens’ Liberation Movement. Back in 494 Pope Gelasius I, ordered an end to the practice which had sprung up in Southern Italy and in Sicily. Additionally, Canon XI of the Fourth Laodicean Council also forbade the practice. Also worth noting is the following. As told to me, during World War II somewhere in Eastern Europe, in an Underground Church without a priest, the faithful greatly desiring Eucharist called from their Assembly some men, who began to confect Eucharist. Some women were also called forth. Subsequently the case was brought to Pope Pius XII who declared valid the priesthood of the men “ordained” by the acclamation of the assembled Church. But the women were declared invalid. I believe in Acts one may find the prototype for ordination by acclamation.

 There are many ways for women to serve the Church (it is all about SERVICE) and one way women along with laymen may effective serve, is to be named to the College of Cardinals! A Cardinal is an advisor to and an elector of the Pope and can also be assigned to diplomatic tasks, Women and men can function excellently as Cardinals and the job has no intrinsic connection to Holy Orders. Women can also serve as Papal Nuncios, take on administrative positions in dioceses and do anything really, that does not require Holy Orders. Women can even become Deacons based on a teaching of Blessed John Paul II that, the Deaconate is not part of the priesthood, but something altogether other. There are so many things that women can do in the Church besides priesthood. However, if the Church ever decided that women can be ordained to the priesthood, I would have no problem accepting it, for as St. Augustine has pointed out, “We must always FREEL with the Church!”
Sandi Sinor
6 years 9 months ago
Sorry for the long post. This is why I try not to post. I get carried away a bit. I'll sign out now.  Mea culpa.
Sandi Sinor
6 years 9 months ago
#14  Bruce, that is all well and good, but woefully inadequate. Of course some cardinals should be women. But some priests should be women too.  Insisting on a teaching simply because it goes back for hundreds of years ignores history - patriarchy goes back to the beginning of time. But patriarchy is a sin. Just because it's an old sin and one people ignored for most of history doesn't mean it should continue, now that we understand the evil that it causes.  Perpetuating it is when we've reached a stage of human development where pretty much everyone in the christian world, if not all, understands that is also sinful. The RCC is the biggest christian church in the world and it has a responsibility to LEAD positively instead of setting the worst example possible by teaching that the subservience of women to men isn't human sin but divinely decreed!  Such arrogance - takes your breath away at times.

These teachings and bans on women priests were first proclaimed when women were literally chattel, the possessions of their husbands or fathers, just like the cattle and donkeys.  John Paul II had a somewhat sad history that not surprisingly is most likely part of what led to his understanding of females to be distorted, to put it charitably. Anything he declared ''definitively'' as far as women goes reflects his personal history as well as the church's legacy of patriarchy and should be pretty much disregarded.  There was a Pontifical commission of scripture scholars back in the 70s, scholars appointed study the issue of women's ordination. Their conclusion - there is nothing in scripture to support banning women from ordination. The absurd bit about the 12 apostles being all male meaning God himself is banning women from a sacrament is a pathetically weak argument. No time to go into all the fallacies here. Even weaker is the relatively recent in church time invention of the notion that priests have to physically look like Christ with all the same male equipment and appendages. Ridiculous. Sounds like pagan religion.

So the report was buried, just like the birth control commission's report. You would think the church would actually seek truth and understanding, but it really doesn't. It sets up commissions to rubber-stamp what the PTB in Rome have already decided on. When the commission acts honestly and goes off the rails as far as the men in black - and red and white - are concerned, they are simply ignored. Theologians with fresh insights are silenced. So why have them? Rome is reaching a point where it's almost legislating that theologicans are not allowed to think either - just like women - because, God forbid, they come up with the wildest ideas (remember all the stuff about Americanism being a sin? Everyone should reread the Syllabus of Errors annually to remind themselves that these are just MEN, and just as fallible and subject to their own times, cultures, and prejudices as any other human being. And if they protest - but the pope is infallible, they'd better add some reading about Vatican I and that particularly off-balance pope to their required homework). And so now theologians are being pretty much told they can only develop and explain what has already been developed and explained!  And this is a search for truth? Please. Not everyone is gullible enough to swallow that.

Under the current patriarchal system, women can only administer, they aren't allowed to think - at least not think theologically and doctrinally. That's men's work, don't you know?  No need to worry their pretty litttle heads about all that. Men will figure out the teachings, and we'll let women teach them - at least to the children in RE. O But the REAL teaching - that's for men.  Men are too important to teach kids in RE, just like they're too important for all those other housewifely SERVICE opportunities like ironing altar cloths and arranging the flowers. Women's work - decreed by God himself. It's not our fault. Right?  Hmmmm. No, not right. Not one bit right. Dead wrong in fact.

 Until women are 51% of those are the real people who are that vague entity called the ''magisterium'' and women's unique perceptions and insights from life inform its teachings, then the church will just continue to stumble along its way, willfully blind at times, choosing to operate with half a brain. Literally. And it will continue to have a lot of messed up teachings because they don't reflect the WHOLE - for a holistically healthy church men and women have to be fully equal at all levels. And they're not. So, the church is a bit sick and it won't get well until it adopts a new and healthier holistic lifestyle.
There is too much church history out there to ignore the reality that the officialdom of the Holy Roman Catholic Church has often not only gotten it dead wrong at times (and in being dead wrong, participated in the death of ''heretics'' among other evils), but is really not very holy very much of the time.  Not that women are any holider. But at least their sins are often different than the men's. That would also add to true complemantarity.
Sandi Sinor
6 years 9 months ago

Bruce, thanks. I was going to try not to get on my soapbox again, but ...  I am so tired of the same old tired arguments about Mary and Catherine of Siena and the Theresas etc .  Please - let's be honest - the doctrine of the church is defined by men. Period. These women contributed a lot to the church, especially to mysticism, but not a lot to doctrine. There are some great women theologians but Rome mostly ignores them (at best) and silences them (at worst).  How many women theologians did Rome consult before coming out with John Paul II's insufferably condescending  letter defining what women should do and be  (at least in his mind). Men would call it downright insulting if he wrote this stuff about them.

These men pontificate (pun intended) on so much about which they know nothing - such as on women (sorry guys, but you really haven't a clue), on marriage (just like Augustine - and how close did he come to understanding the beauty of marital sex  - well, he didn't come close at all, did he?). They think it is their God-given right to define women's lives and roles FOR them - treating women as if they are simpletons who can't figure out their own lives for themselves. They need big, strong, smart men to do it for them. It's God's plan.

Tell me , since you don't trust yourself to make moral judgments and would rather ''feel'' with the church,  would you have'' trusted'' the pope who wrote that slavery is moral and ''in accord with natural law''? Is something TRUTH just because it was accepted for much of history (like patriarchy has been)? Slavery is immoral and always has been. But it took a while for the church (and the whole culture) to figure it out (sadly, the RCC was well behind other christians and even the secular culture in figuring it out). It's doing the same thing with women - holding on tight to what it ''always'' taught and believed - the truth be damned! They just hunt until they find theologians who say what they want them to say and then claim that ''there's nothing we can do. It's all God's doing. God is the misognyst, not us!)

What happens when people just blow wherever with Rome's winds?  One pope says that democracy is evil. Freedom of religion is evil. (ref, Syllabus of Errors). Pius XI believed that coeducation violated ''natural law'' (just like the pope now says modern birth control does) and is founded on a denial of original sin (ref. Pius XI 1929 encyclical called ''Christian Education of Youth''.)  But I bet you don't believe that, do you?  Now popes don't say that, but once they did. So does a mature Catholic just go along and say ''I accept that freedom of religion, and of democracy, and co-education are evil because Rome says so and I go along with whatever they say. And then, later, when Rome ''develops''a teaching and now says that the new teachings are Truth and the old ones that had been proclaimed as Truth are not Truth? So now all those who let Rome form their consciences can say ''Democracy and freedom of religion and coeducation aren't evil after all I guess.'' Well nothing changed about their ''evilness'' - the only thing that changed was that saner people took charge in Rome.  As Ratzinger once said, we are OBLIGATED to follow our own consciences - even against the pope. Yes, he did write that.

Lots of people in church history did NOT go along with everything Rome and popes said they ''must'' believe. They were (gasp!) Dissenters!  Some died as ''heretics'' without sacraments because they refused to recant but at least a few of those were later canonized (and at least one died at the burning stake but was later canonized) and some lucky few were vindicated later on without having to die for their beliefs. Newman was fired because he dared say that THE church includes ALL the members of the Body of Christ, not just clerics. And he further said (still ignored) that the Holy Spirit speaks through THE church, not just men in Roman collars.   He was fired from his job for saying this and refusing to take it back and was investigated by Rome for years, without ever getting a real answer or vindication. Until Vatican II, which is sometimes called ''Newman's Council.'' I used to think it was sad he didn't live to see it. But, maybe it's just as well, because  although he probably would have been elated it would have been short-lived. Then he would have been heartbroken because the conversion of hierarchical hearts was cut off - and John Paul II was right in there cutting. Et tu Brute?

Pleading ''I am just an ordinary person''  in order to justify accepting everything Rome comes up with without question isn't really a good excuse for, well, ignorance of church history etc, right?. Educating yourself is a lot better than staying ignorant - it's really quite interesting in fact. 

I'm just an ordinary person too, and no theologian, but I study anyway. Anyone who can read can do it.

p.s. It wasn't your post that was ''woefully inadequate'' - it's the band-aids you and others want to put on the gaping ugly wound caused by patriarchy that are woefully inadequate. Wow - women are 'allowed'' to be lectors (that is, if the pastor and bishop say it's OK). They are ''allowed'' to teach, but only what men have defined as ''doctrine''. They are ''allowed'' to be eucharistic ministers (for now, in some places anyway, but not for long if the retro forces continue as they have been) and they are, of course, ''allowed'' to do all the nice little ecclesial housewife tasks so ''appropriate'' to their gender. LOL! BTW, it's a total pipedream to think that the all-male boys club in Rome would entertain for even one second the idea of appointing women to be cardinals - not matter what canon law might permit. Nice try though.

Sandi Sinor
6 years 9 months ago
#19, Bruce. Don't you worry your pretty little head (whoops - that's for women, right?) about me. OK, I'll change it - don't worry about me. But perhaps a bit of reflection is in order - not just for me, but for you too. You acknowledge that much evil has been done at times by the head folks in the church. You acknowledge that THEY aren't ''the'' church but that THE church is ALL members of the Body of Christ. Yet you ACT as though the hierarchy, the ''magisterium'',  and the pope are THE church and imply that you must obey'' their teaching authority in all things, even to the point of giving them your mind and conscience to form. OK to let them inform it but you have to go beyond. A lot of their interpretations are simply human self-serving and you have to develop a way of discerning so that you can receive what is valuable but also learning enough on your own - fully informing your own conscience - to be able to decide what should be tossed.

You yourself say that you go along with whatever ''they'' teach at this present time, whether it is moral and right or it isn't. Whether it causes harm to the body of Christ or not.  How can that be? What kind of ''faith'' is it that submits the intellect and the will to a self-defined human and fallible authority that may very well be dead wrong, as it has been many times in the past? You say that you accept the teaching on women's ordination. But if the PTB change it, then you will change your assent to assent to the opposite.You seem to believe that you don't have the - what? - education, or intellect or something to figure it out for yourself? Of course you do. If you gave an argument supporting the ban on women's ordination that was something you figured out in your own mind and could explain, rather than just saying that you go along with it because this is what the PTB have decreed, then you could claim a sound conscience on the issue.  But that's not what you say - you say that you ''feel'' with the church instead of thinking about it all, and defer because you think that these priests are somehow ''smarter'' than you are and so whatever they say, you will accept. And when they change that teaching, you will accept that too. That could well be a danger - a form of spiritual sloth maybe?  (Hmmm. I'll have to think about that one).   God gave all of us minds and consciences and he expects us to use them, not just hand them over to someone else to form.  Why did Jesus go into the temple and turn over temples? Was he TEACHING his followers what they should do when the temple masters abuse their authority to do harm to the people of God? Maybe following Jesus rather than men might mean that we should be turning over a few tables ourselves.

Every Catholic needs to ask themselves - Is my faith in Jesus and the gospels or is it in men in Rome? Or is it in the sensus fidelium of the Body of Christ? Or in some combination?  And if the Body of Christ, the sensus fidelium, does not go along with what the men in Rome teach, whom are you going to ''believe''?  Is it automatic (the magisterium), or do you wrestle with it? For you, it seems to be the men, and ''feeling'' with them is  unfortunately not a part of sound conscience formation. You have to think too. And sometimes you have to struggle, especially for those who are used to letting the men in black do all the thinking. Sometimes you might conclude after all that study and praying and reflecting for proper conscience formation that they are right (even I don't reject out of hand ALL that the church teaches) and sometimes you might think they need to go back to the beginning and re-figure it out, especially when the teaching is not accepted by THE church. Newman said that is a red flag - if it is rejected by THE church, most likely it is not ''truth'' and it should be back to the drawing board. Sadly, the men in charge these days prefer to silence any theologian or mystic or anyone else whose thoughts stray outside their preconceived boundaries. Suppressing independent and individual thinking is not how truth is discovered.

 The ''pearl'' is found in ''the'' church and in the gospels, in Jesus, in obedience to GOD not to men.  Seldom in Rome and chanceries it seems. The church is just a means to an end, not the end itself. When it detours onto the wrong path, you have to try to stay on the right one anyway as best you can, even if you too might detour now and then too and fall off the path. You might have to wait for the PTB to find the right path again, but you don't have to follow them down it. You also don't need to stay mired in the waste that surrounds the institutional church. You can try to get around it. Or you can try to help clear it away. Get out the shovels and stop being a ''docile'' Catholic when what the church teaches is wrong and harmful. Otherwise those beautiful flowers might die - there will be so much waste (the sex abuse scandal, the official teaching that women are subservient, the abuse of authority, etc, etc) that those poor flowers will be buried in it and, without light and fresh air they will have trouble surviving. (Vatican II tried to provide the fresh air and light, but it too is being buried in the waste). Pick up a shovel and see what you can do to help clear out some of this ugly waste that is killing the church. 

So, just as you exhort me to pray and meditate and reflect, I know you will understand when I recommend the same program for you. 

OK, I'm going to log out now and TRY not to be tempted back again since brevity is not among my virtues, sadly.

Peace and God's blessings!
6 years 9 months ago
#20  Sandi, I've managed by the grace of God to have lived 80 years so far in the Catholic Church and please God I hope to die in it. It is an imperfect Church, to some a beautiful flower with a unpleasant  stench, or an ugly flower with the heavenly scent. For me it's a beautiful flower heaven-sent, thorny, but beautiful!

The Church has been correcting herself from the beginning and will always have to follow that route because it's made up of imperfect people like me, and naybe you too. I'm all for a reformed Church, but not a deformed Church. What is that? Therein rests the full weight of the Church's burden (our burden) that many feel and well-intentioned, or not so well-intentioned try to resolve.

 Right and wrong it's my Church. I agree with what Martin Luther is reported to have said on his deathbed, "My Church is a good Church to live in but the Catholic Church is trhe best one to die in!" The passion of your posts tell me you are a clandestine mystic and like St. Paul a woman capable of great holiness, full of fire for the righteous. I have a hunch that some day you'll be speaking as luminously pro-Church as you are now inclined to speak against the Church. I'll probably be doing a jig in the Land of the Living when that happens, but if I have anything to say about it I hope to live to be 100 and do my jig right here! God bless you! 
Sandi Sinor
6 years 9 months ago
LOL!  Bruce, I hope that you have a very happy death well after your own century mark, secure in the arms of your beloved church!  You are too funny - I'm hardly a mystic and clearly not in danger of ''great holiness.''  As one of those apostate ''spiritual but not religious'' members of the third largest ''denomination'' in the US (former Catholic) I will not be buried in consecrated ground. But since all of God's earth is holy, I have no problem with that.

 But I'll take the kind words, Most religious peple are less kind to we SBNRs of the world. James Martin, SJ calls us ''complacent, self-centered, egotists'' - among other things. I don't care who chooses to stay and who chooses to leave. But those who stay have a moral obligation to try to fix what is wrong. I gave up - that's why I'm SBNR. Since you're still ''in'', maybe .....

So, thank you for your christian charity and patience (even if you did avoid addressing ALL the questions and dilemmas posed. Maybe it would be worth your time to reflect on the ''why'' of that choice?) and I will say Adieu now! 



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