Friday, May 25, 2012
THE REFORM OF THE REFORM WITH STRONG MONARCHICAL LEADERSHIP BUT WITHOUT THE CHAFF OF PRE-VATICAN II RIGIDITY, CLERICALISM OR POST-VATICAN II BLEEDING HEART LIBERALISM AND CLERICALISM AND "LAITYISM"
My comments first: I've spoken of the academic elite and the aging liberals of the Church expanding on the use of the worn out term of radical feminist nuns of another period in the recent past "patriarchy" to describe the Church's leadership style and expanding it now to "monarchy" and "aristocracy" in order to denigrate the role of the Petrine Office in the Church and the role of the Magisterium. Some, as the 82 year old author below, even liken the pope to the dictators in Arab countries and the Arab spring that brought about their downfall. They seem to hope to foment that kind of downfall for the Church's leadership. So you get their drift, it almost sounds demonic doesn't it?
And this kind of sentiment born of the "spirit" of Vatican II that so many radical Catholics in Europe and America had hope for a more democratic style Catholicism that is like a reed swaying in the wind where polls are taken and doctrine and morals are adjusted to accommodate the Wal-mart mentality of the consumers of our Faith. The great fear of these radical Catholics is that if we don't please the customer they will go somewhere else, like to K-Mart or JCPenney or the like (substitute some Christian denomination or no affiliation yourself for these retail outlets).
But there is a very legitimate warning to those of us joining our Holy Father in the "reform of the reform within continuity of our 2000 year tradition" that we should take seriously. We cannot recover the pre-Vatican II rigidity of so many clergy, religious and laity nor should we recover the blatant clericalism of that period that accelerated in the post-Vatican II period and became an ugly beast infecting not only clergy and religious but for the first time the laity who took on more and more "clerical" responsibilities in full time positions in the parishes and bishops' offices. What has happened in the aftermath of Vatican II and with its false spirit was the laicization of the clergy and the clericalization of the laity.
As well, the "bleeding heart" "liberal" clericalism of bishops and priests of the post-Vatican II period who hid the mortal sins and crimes of abusing priests and sent them to comfortable treatment centers in order to recirculate them in other assignments to unsuspecting laity and their children needs to be forever ended.
The secrecy of the pre-Vatican II period needs to remain forever in the past too and new measures at solid transparency need to be established especially when priests become public sinners or criminals or simply break their promises of celibacy and obedience. Parishes need to be kept informed from on high as to what has happened (within confidentiality bounds of course) when a priest is removed from a parish due to scandal of whatever nature. And if the celibacy breach is consensual and non-pathological and the priest is returned to ministry, there should be a public reconciliation of such a priest by the bishop with the priest, the presbyterate and the community where the breach occurred. We've got to stop being so puritanical about sexual sins of a consensual nature all the while living in a media driven let is all hang out sexualized culture of libertine proportions. These are strange bed-fellows and the breach of the 6th Commandment and the promise of celibacy is not an unforgivable sin against the Holy Spirit. We need to get real here! Of course, I am speaking within reason here, but we all know of married people who commit adultery as well as priests who break their celibacy promises who are able to reconcile their lives to their promises/vows and resume healthy, moral lives!
But do we need to become like the Episcopalians, the United Methodists, the liberal branch of the Presbyterian Church? Hell no! That is a recipe for disaster and we have the data to prove it.
What we need is liturgical reform on a major level and a rediscovery of the Church Militant and a crystal clear international Catholic identity and for these indeed Holy Mother Church can and should reach back only so far as the 1950's to discover the recipe for that all the while steering clear of pre and post-Vatican II clericalism, laityism and the like as well as secrecy and the fear of scandal being brought to the light of Christ and His Church, the community of believers.
I recommend beginning with a return to Latin for the official Introit, Offertory and Communion Antiphons of the Mass including the Gloria, Credo, Sanctus and Agnus Dei; all else in the language of one's choice. I also recommend a return to meatless Fridays, Ember Days and the like. I recommend a stricter Lenten Discipline and more days of fast and abstinence. I recommend ad orientem and kneeling for Holy Communion and intinction as the norm for offering the Most Precious Blood. I recommend liturgies that are beautiful, with participation that is both active and contemplative. I recommend a return to the habit for religious, men and women and clerical attire for priests and deacons. I recommend a theology of active assent to the faith to promote the unity of the Church under the pope and bishops in union with him. The theology of dissent based upon the political model of loyal opposition must cease in the Church in the areas of faith and morals.
But another warning, we must be pastoral towards those in our parishes who struggle with sexual sins. We must be pastoral to those who have found partners to live with and where the Sacrament of Marriage is not possible. We cannot though call sin a virtue but we do have to allow people the freedom to live good lives under messy circumstances without compromising our high moral values and teachings. Sometimes the lesser of evils is better than the greater of evils (promiscuity verses monogamy; support of each other and children verses destitution and abandonment). Ultimately when people choose a lifestyle that can lead to their condemnation, we have to keep that between them and God and let them by God's grace work it out as long as they don't try to convince us in radical ways that we should publicly condone anything that goes against the faith and morals of the Church. Moral rigidity of the past with the focus only on sexual sins will alienate people who otherwise need to be at least coming to Mass every Sunday even if they are not free to receive Holy Communion! There is no scandal in remaining in the pew when at Communion time! There is a scandal when receiving Holy Communion unworthily especially when one's sin is public knowledge.
BOOK REVIEW: Devout Catholic calls on church to reform, adapt to modern age
Touching on gay marriage and multiple sex abuse scandals, Notre Dame alum Thomas Arthur Nelson offers up a passionate critique of the Roman Catholic Church in “An Ordinary Catholic: A View From The Pew”
(PR NewsChannel) / May 24, 2012 / FARMINGTON HILLS, Mich.
"An Ordinary Catholic: A View From The Pew" by Thomas Arthur Nelson
In “An Ordinary Catholic: A View From The Pew” (ISBN 1475016743), former Naval officer and Notre Dame graduate Thomas Arthur Nelson calls on his church to reform. A life-long Catholic, he offers a critique for the institution to return to a Jesus-centered faith of love. In this plea for change, Nelson speaks for the millions who have the left the Catholic Church in frustration as well as those who remain in the pews, discontent concealed behind prayers.
His memoir and essay is a unique tale of the conflicts between rigid church doctrine and real-life experience. He relates this conflict to some of the headline-grabbing church issues of the day, from the clerical sex abuse scandals to the doctrinal disputes over gay marriage. At 82, Nelson recounts his life journey of faith from an uncritical follower to an unlikely activist for reform. His voice is that of the Catholic laity who breathes so much life into mass and church activities yet is largely ignored when it comes to setting the moral direction of the church. He speaks to several social issues the church has yet to touch on, including elder abuse which in his eyes is a new scandal in the making.
This book is written from the point of view of a man who attends mass and takes communion regularly. He understands the joy of Catholicism and the resilience followers get from their faith. At the same time, he knows all too well their frustrations and fear of speaking out on strict, fantasy-based church doctrine.
“The institutional Roman Catholic Church over the centuries has evolved into a rigid aristocracy in the most classical sense . . . The pope, the emperor-king, leads the aristocratic elect, the hierarchy,” says Nelson. “Finally, at the lowest level is the ignorant laity, the ordinary folks who are assigned the stature of peasants and serfs.”
In his plea for reform, Nelson warns that in an era that has seen the rebellion of the Arab Spring, the Church will not be immune to cries for change.
About the Author: Thomas Arthur Nelson is a Notre Dame graduate who was raised and educated as a Catholic from kindergarten on. A former Naval officer, he is the author of the award-winning essay, “God Gave Me a Gay Son.” He is the father of six and grandfather to a dozen grandchildren.