I Heard the Voice of Catholic Fundamentalism


Listening to Bishop Leonard P. Blair of Toledo, Ohio, on National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air” program on July 25th, I heard the voce of Catholic fundamentalism. It is a dangerously arrogant voice; and we hear it ever more frequently in episcopal rhetoric.

Bishop Blair believes firmly that the bishops have the truth and the LCWR sisters need to conform and adhere to it. No one in fact has all the truth; and we should all be in respectful dialogue. But dialogue for Bishop Blair is not genuine dialogue. For him it appears to be more like a monologue demanding loyal submission of intellect and will.

On the dialogue that the LCWR would like to have with the Vatican, Bishop Blair said in the NPR interview: “If by dialogue, they mean that the doctrines of the church are negotiable, and that the bishops represent one position and the LCWR represents another position and somehow we find a middle ground about basic church teaching on faith and morals, then no, I don’t think that’s the dialogue the Holy See would envision. But if it’s a dialogue about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching and to implement it in their discussions, and try to heal some of the questions or concerns they have about these issues, that would be the dialogue.”

When the subject of women’s ordination came up, the Toledo bishop made statements that are simply wrong. I will explain in a minute what I mean. First Bishop Blair’s statement: “The church doesn’t say that the ordination of women is not possible because somehow women are unfit to carry out functions of the priest, but because on the level of sacramental signs, it’s not the choice that our Lord made when it comes to those who act in his very person, as the church’s bridegroom. And you can say that sounds like a lot of poetry or you know, how do we know that’s true, but if you’re a Catholic, this is part of our sacraments and practice for two millennia, and it’s not just an arbitrary decision of male oppression over women.”

Now why the bishop is dead wrong.

(1) Jesus did not ordain ANYONE! In the church’s first century, ordination, as we know it, did not exist.

(2) There is now ample and clear historic evidence that demonstrates beyond a doubt that women did in fact preside at Eucharist in early Christian communities; and women were called “apostles” by St. Paul and other early church leaders.

(3) And (as I indicated in an earlier post) there is also solid historic evidence that women were ORDAINED and functioned as deacons and priests even into the Middle Ages.

Yes…..Fundamentalism is hardly confined to just Islamic religion and is found in all societies and religions, including Roman Catholic Christianity; and the virus of Roman Catholic fundamentalism is pernicious, self-righteous, and devilishly destructive….

Increasingly, Roman Catholic fundamentalism (one need only reflect on many a red-faced outburst from the Cardinal Archbishop of New York) is a form of organized anger in reaction to social and religious change.

Fundamentalists find change emotionally disturbing and dangerous. Cultural, personal, and institutional religious “certitudes” are shaken. Today’s Catholic fundamentalists, like Cardinal Raymond Burke wrapped in his medieval cappa magna (picture below) pushing to bring back the Latin liturgy of the Council of Trent, yearn to return to a utopian past or a golden age, purified of “dangerous” contemporary ideas and practices.

Todays Catholic fundamentalists, like supporters of Pope Benedict’s New Evangelization, have aggressively banded together in order to put things right again – according to “orthodox” principles. They want to get things back to “normal”….Or as Bishop Blair said: dialogue is “about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching.”

Today’s Catholic fundamentalists are still troubled by: (1) the cultural revolution of the 1960s that questioned all institutions and brought profound social, economic and political consequences that continue to this day; and (2) the impact and immense cultural changes generated by the much-needed reforms of Second Vatican Council.

Catholic fundamentalism is becoming a powerful movement in the church to restore uncritically pre-Vatican II structures and attitudes.

Here are some clear signs of contemporary Catholic fundamentalism:

(1) Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that the church never changed, was then a powerful force in the world, undivided by the post 1960s misguided devotees of the Vatican II values. In fact, we know for certain that the church and its teachings have often changed. Some church statements have been shown to be wrong and were repealed or allowed to lapse.

(2) A highly selective approach to what fundamentalists think pertains to church teaching and belief. Statements about sexual ethics, for instance, are obsessively affirmed. At the same time, papal, conciliar, or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered simply matters for debate.

(3) An exaggerated concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the Cardinal Burkes stress Latin for the Eucharist, failing to see that this does not pertain at all to the church’s authentic tradition.

(4) Vehemence and intolerance in attacking people like LCWR who are striving to relate the Gospel to the world around them according to the insights and teachings of Vatican II.

(5) An elitist assumption that Catholic fundamentalists have a kind of supernatural authority and the right to pursue and condemn Catholics who disagree with them, especially “radical feminists” and theologians.

(6) A spirituality which overlooks the humanity, compassion, and mercy of Christ and stresses in its place an unbending and punishing taskmaster God.

Remember: Membership in Catholic fundamentalist groups is not a question of logic, but an often sincere, but misguided, search for meaning and belonging.

If we react to Catholic fundamentalists with heated expressions of anger we will only confirm them about the rightness of their beliefs.

Our best witness to the truths of our Catholic beliefs, as they continue to be explored and developed, is our own inner peace built on faith, charity, and concern for justice, especially among the most marginalized.

And a closing biblical refection:

Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” (Matthew 20:25-28; cf. Mark 10:42-45 and Luke 22:25-27)

20120727-140340.jpg

Struggling to Stay Catholic


Up to now I have decided to stay. It is an important part of my identity. I do understand the concerns and frustrations. Nearly everyone in my close family has now left the Catholic Church. The American Catholic exodus is gathering momentum. Dioceses are closing parishes across the country. “A necessary purification,” one of my […]

A Prayer and a Thought for Pentecost 2012


Come Holy Spirit!

Give us the wisdom, strength, and courage of Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli!

Shortly after becoming Pope John XXIII in 1958, Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli announced he would call for a second Vatican Council. Immediate reactions were mixed. Leading people in the Curia Romana were negative. Even Giovanni Montini, who later became Pope Paul VI. Montini remarked to a friend: “This holy old boy doesn’t realize what a hornet’s nest he’s stirring up.”
John realized very well of course exactly what he was doing……

Pope John’s frequent habit of sneaking out of the Vatican late at night to walk the streets of the city of Rome earned him the nickname “Johnny Walker.”

Very different from his current successor whose nicknames are “God’s rottweiler,” “the Enforcer,” and the “Panzer Pope.”

Pope John was an action man. Fifty years ago he was losing patience with the narrow-minded bureaucratic ecclesiastics at the Vatican. “The time has come,” he told the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Cicognani, ” to put an end to this nonsense.”

“Either the Biblical Commission will bestir itself, do some proper work….and make a useful contribution to the needs of the present time,” John said, or “it would be better to abolish it….”

Pope John was angry at the backward, literalistic views of the Biblical Commission and its attacks against Cardinal Agustin Bea, Rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, where progressive approaches to biblical scholarship were favored.

________________________________________________

Come Holy Spirit!

Help us put an end to contemporary church nonsense!

Come Holy Spirit!

Bless those who question, search, and challenge!

Come Holy Spirit!

Fill us with the faith and courage that animated Pope John!

Come Holy Spirit!

Renew and reform your church!

20120524-195110.jpg

USCCB TARGETS GIRL SCOUTS!


Maybe the old boys club would just like to have a church full of old boys. According to David Crary, writing for the Associated Press, Girl Scouts USA is now suspected of deviant thinking and wayward behavior by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. At issue are USCCB concerns about program materials that some […]

WE HOLD THESE CATHOLIC TRUTHS…


There is a sinister spirit pontificating in contemporary Roman Catholic leadership. It is a kind of religious fundamentalism; and it is unwelcome, unhealthy, and unacceptable.

In the name of orthodoxy, today’s Catholic fundamentalists condemn and denigrate believers who study, ask questions, and call for a serious discussion. Increasingly silent about about sexual abuse in the church, and about past and present episcopal complicity in sexual abuse, they shout instead about the evils of questioning celibacy for ordained ministers, respecting the nature and dignity of gay men and women, and asking why women cannot be ordained.

Men in Renaissance robes who loudly proclaim “respect or life” are working overtime to squeeze every bit of life out of their church. People who challenge their authoritarian crack-down are labeled “disobedient,” or “anti-Catholic,” or “in grave sin.” Priests are silenced and removed from leadership positions and theologians are condemned, often without any genuine discussion about their research and thought. There is a major Catholic exodus from the church and our bishops applaud it as a necessary institutional purification.

We are not living in the middle ages. Every man and every woman has dignity and rights: to be, to enquire, to think, and to express one’s thoughts.

And every Roman Catholic man and every Roman Catholic woman has rights stated and guaranteed in Roman Catholic Church law.

Here a few significant Catholic rights (and the number of the canon in church law that affirms it):

Basic Rights

All Catholics have the right to follow their informed consciences in all matters. (C. 748.1)

Officers of the Church have the right to teach on matters both of private and public morality only after wide consultation with the faithful prior to the formulation of the teaching.4 (C. 212, C. 747, C. 749, C. 752, C. 774.1)

Decision-making and Dissent

All Catholics have the right to a voice in all decisions that affect them, including the choosing of their leaders. (C. 212:3)

All Catholics have the right to have their leaders accountable to them. (C. 492, C. 1287.2)

All Catholics have the right to form voluntary associations to pursue Catholic aims including the right to worship together; such associations have the right to decide on their own rules of governance. (C. 215, C. 299, C. 300, C. 305, C. 309)

All Catholics have the right to express publicly their dissent in regard to decisions made by Church authorities. (C. 212:3, C. 218, C. 753)

Due Process

All Catholics have the right to be dealt with according to commonly accepted norms of fair administrative and judicial procedures without undue delay. (C. 221:1,2,3, C. 223, 1,2)

All Catholics have the right to redress of grievances through regular procedures of law. (C. 221:1,2,3, C. 223:1,2)

All Catholics have the right not to have their good reputations impugned or their privacy violated. (C. 220)

Ministries and Spirituality

All Catholics have the right to receive from the Church those ministries which are needed for the living of a fully Christian life, including:

a) Instruction in the Catholic tradition and the presentation of moral teaching in a way that promotes the helpfulness and relevance of Christian values to contemporary life. (C.229:1,2)

b) Worship which reflects the joys and concerns of the gathered community and instructs and inspires it.

c) Pastoral counseling that applies with love and effectiveness the Christian heritage to persons in particular situations. (C. 213, C. 217)

Catholic teachers of theology have a right to responsible academic freedom. The acceptability of their teaching is to be judged in dialogue with their peers, keeping in mind the legitimacy of responsible dissent and pluralism of belief. (C. 212:1, C. 218, C. 750, C. 752, C. 754, C. 279:1, C. 810, C. 812)

Social and Cultural Rights

All Catholics have the right to freedom in political matters. (C. 227)

All Catholics have the right to follow their informed consciences in working for justice and peace in the world. (C. 225:2)

All employees of the Church have the right to decent working conditions and just wages. They also have the right not to have their employment terminated without due process. (C. 231:2)

For a more complete explanation of Catholic rights and responsibilities, please consult:
http://arcc-catholic-rights.net/arcc_charter.htm

20120506-082535.jpg

The Pope’s War: Pope Benedict’s Crusade


Matthew Fox, former Roman Catholic and now Episcopalian, has written more than thirty books. An early and impressive proponent of Creation Spirituality, he first caught my attention when he completed his doctorate, summa cum laude, at the Institut Catholique de Paris.

Fox’s most recent book, THE POPE’S WAR: WHY RATZINGER’S SECRET CRUSADE HAS IMPERILED THE CHURCH AND HOW IT CAN BE SAVED, is a powerfully incisive critique of Pope Benedict XVI’s reform strategy to shift the Catholic Church back to the nineteenth century.

As Matthew Fox outlines it, the current Ratzingerian reform relies on three powerful and secretive pillar organizations: Opus Dei, the Legionaires of Christ, and Communion and Liberation. No surprises here; but as Fox tells it, it becomes all the more unsettling. Power. Absolute power. And corruption. So very far from the humble man of God from Nazareth.

The most moving and upsetting part of Fox’s book is its “martyrology” of the great “inquisitor’s” enemies. The inquisitor of course: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Fox lists 91 men and women whose careers were either derailed or dead-ended because, in the judgment of Joseph Ratzinger’s Inquisition, they said the wrong thing. Martyrs indeed, like the venerable German theologian, Bernhard Häring, who was the first theologian to be attacked by Ratzinger.

Häring, presented a dialogic approach to Catholic moral theology in Free and Faithful in Christ and The Law of Christ. Morality, he said, follows the pattern of faith i.e. a dialogue. It rests not on obedience to the church but on the freedom of a person’s conscience that acknowledges listening to God as the basis of value. “God speaks in many ways to awaken, deepen and strengthen faith, hope, love and the spirit of adoration. We are believers to the extent that, in all of reality and in all events that touch us, we perceive a gift and a call from God.”

Häring, who experiencd a Nazi inquisition, said his inquisition under Cardinal Ratzinger’s CDF was far more scary.

Put it on your spiritual reading list: The Pope’s War by Matthew Fox

20120115-171859.jpg

Curse and Affliction Upon the Church


Theologians can be a “curse and affliction upon the church,” according Capuchin Fr. Thomas Weinandy, Executive Director of the USCCB Secretariat for Doctrine.

Thomas Weinandy remember is director of the  bishops’ committee that recently condemned Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s book on the Trinity, Quest for the Living God: Mapping Frontiers in the Theology of God. Weinandy’s committee said Elizabeth Johnson’s book “completely undermines the Gospel and the faith of those who believe in the Gospel.” Strange talk from a fellow who is supposed to know what theology is all about.

The Board of Directors for the Catholic Theological Society of America responded to the USCCB Committee’s critique by noting that Weinandy’s committee demonstrated a “deficient” reading of Professor Johnson’s work as well as a “narrow understanding” of the work of theologians.

In their statement the board of directors stressed, what any good theologian should know and understand:

Theologians throughout history have promulgated the riches of the Catholic tradition by venturing new ways to imagine and express the mystery of God and the economy of salvation revealed in Scripture and Tradition. This is a Catholic style of theological reflection that very many Catholic theologians continue to practice today. The teaching of the Second Vatican Council in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World (Gaudium et Spes) is especially eloquent on this responsibility:

“From the beginning of its history [the church] has learned to express Christ’s message in the concepts and languages of various peoples, and it has also tried to throw light on it through the wisdom of philosophers, aiming so far as was proper to suit the gospel to the grasp of everyone as well as to the expectations of the wise. This adaptation in preaching the revealed word should remain the law of all evangelisation.… It is for God’s people as a whole, with the help of the holy Spirit, and especially for pastors and theologians, to listen to the various voices of our day, discerning them and interpreting them, and to evaluate them in the light of the divine word, so that the revealed truth can be increasingly appropriated, better understood and more suitably expressed.” (#44)

USCCB theologian Weinandy, on the other hand, sees  theologians as propagandists for the institutional church. Their responsibility, says Weinandy is one of “promoting, advancing and defending” philosophical and theological truth as taught by the church.

In fact…..ever since Anselm of Canterbury (1033-1109), Catholic theologians have clearly understood the theological task as one of “Faith seeking understanding.”

If Thomas Weinandy and his committee were my students I would send them all back to school: for remedial theological education.

The Vatican is Upset — Perhaps We Should be Upset Because of the Vatican…..


Waltzing on thin ice……

Patsy McGarry writing in the Irish Times (July 28, 2011) offers some well-phrased reflections about the Vatican’s reactions to sexual abuse in Ireland and the Murphy and Cloyne reports.

Frankly the current Vatican administration, orchestrated by the Bavarian pontiff, shows very little interest in transparency. Fortunately the Vatican cannot control the media. The truth will indeed come out. The bishop of Rome wears fancy slippers but he is waltzing on thin ice…..

McGarry’s observations:

In 2008, Bishop John Magee of Cloyne and Msgr Denis O’Callaghan lied to the church’s child protection watchdog about abuse there.

This formidable desire to hide the truth on the part of senior clergy in Ireland by lies, damn lies and mental reservation was not rooted in any peculiar aversion on their part. It rested entirely on what they understood was required of them by Rome.

Yet in his March 2010 pastoral letter to Irish Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI told the bishops that “some of you and your predecessors failed, at times grievously”, when it came to child protection. Not a word about Rome’s role in any of this.

Not a word about Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos who was responsible for the 1997 letter to the Irish bishops dismissing their 1996 Framework Document as “merely a study document”. Which letter, the Cloyne report said, “gave comfort and support” to those who “dissented from the stated official Irish church policy” on child protection.

In 1999, when the Irish bishops were visiting Rome they were reminded by a Vatican official they were “bishops first, not policemen” when it came to reporting clerical child sex abuse. But apologists for Rome insist all changed in May 2001 when then prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger sent two letters to every Catholic bishop in the world. In Latin. One insisted that both be kept secret. The other directed that all clerical child sex abuse allegations “with a semblance of truth” be sent to the congregation and it would decide whether they be dealt with at diocesan or Vatican level.

Yet, as current chancellor of Dublin’s archdiocese Msgr John Dolan told the Murphy commission, this policy “was subsequently modified as Rome was unable to deal with the vast numbers of referrals”. The Cloyne report continues: “The position now, he [Msgr Dolan] said, is that all cases brought to the attention of the archdiocese before April 2001 and which were outside prescription . . . were not going to be dealt with by the CDF. It was up to the bishop to apply disciplinary measures to the management of those priests.”

In effect, the Irish bishops were back where they were before 2001. As Murphy reported: “Victims have expressed disappointment that neither the Framework Document nor its successor, Our Children, Our Church (2005), received recognition from Rome, thus leaving both documents without legal status under canon law.”

This, Murphy found, “was in direct contrast to the approach adopted by the Holy See to the request of the American Conference of Bishops”. The truth is Rome tied the hands of those Irish bishops and religious superiors who wanted to address the abuse issue properly.

Yet, Rome did not even acknowledge correspondence from the Murphy commission in September 2006. Instead it complained the commission did not use proper channels. So, in February 2007, the Murphy commission wrote to then papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto requesting he forward “all documents in his possession relevant to
the commission”. He did not reply.

So, in early 2009, it wrote to current nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, (in situ since April 2008), enclosing a draft of its report for comment. He did not reply.

The nunciature in Dublin has been the conduit for truthful clerical child abuse reports to Rome, while Archbishop Leanza was personally involved in talks which led to Bishop Magee standing aside at Cloyne in February 2009.

So, the Murphy commission asked him to “submit to it any information which you have about the matters under investigation”. He felt “unable to assist” it “in this matter”.

Roman Catholic Seismic Event


The Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of the Republic of Ireland, Enda Kenny spoke to the Dail

(the Irish Parliament) on Wednesday 20 July

This may be a truly historic moment for the contemporary Roman Catholic Church

The revelations of the Cloyne report have brought the Government, Irish Catholics and the Vatican to an unprecedented juncture.

It’s fair to say that after the Ryan and Murphy Reports Ireland is, perhaps, unshockable when it comes to the abuse of children. But Cloyne has proved to be of a different order.

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic…as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism….the narcissism …….that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day. The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’.

Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict’s “ear of the heart”……the Vatican’s reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.

This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded. The radicalism, humility and compassion which are the very essence of its foundation and purpose. The behaviour being a case of Roma locuta est: causa finita est.

Except in this instance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Cloyne’s revelations are heart-breaking. It describes how many victims continued to live in the small towns and parishes in which they were reared and in which they were abused… Their abuser often still in the area and still held in high regard by their families and the community. The abusers continued to officiate at family weddings and funerals… In one case, the abuser even officiated at the victim’s own wedding…

There is little I or anyone else in this House can say to comfort that victim or others, however much we want to. But we can and do recognise the bravery of all of the victims who told their stories to the Commission.

While it will take a long time for Cloyne to recover from the horrors uncovered, it could take the victims and their families a lifetime to pick up the pieces of their shattered existence.

A day post-publication, the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade met with the Papal Nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza. The Tánaiste left the Archbishop clear on two things: The gravity of the actions and attitude of the Holy See. And Ireland’s complete rejection and abhorrence of same.

The Papal Nuncio undertook to present the Cloyne Report to the Vatican.

The Government awaits the considered response of the Holy See.

I believe that the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who – like me – have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of Church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all Church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the State’s authorities in line with the Children First National Guidance which will have the force of law.

Clericalism has rendered some of Ireland’s brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors cited in the Ryan and Murphy Reports. This Roman Clericalism must be devastating for good priests…. some of them old… others struggling to keep their humanity….even their sanity……..as they work so hard…..to be the keepers of the Church’s light and goodness within their parishes…… communities… the human heart.

But thankfully for them, and for us, this is not Rome. Nor is it industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world.

This is the ‘Republic’ of Ireland 2011. A Republic of laws…..of rights and responsibilities….of proper civic order….. where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version….. of
a particular kind of ‘morality’….. will no longer be tolerated or ignored.

As a practising Catholic, I don’t say any of this easily. Growing up, many of us in here learned we were part of a pilgrim Church. Today, that Church needs to be a penitent Church. A church, truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied.

In the name of God. But for the good of the institution. When I say that through our legislation….. through our Government’s action to put Children First…….those who have been abused can take some small comfort in knowing that they belong to a nation…..to a democracy where humanity, power, rights, responsibility, are enshrined and enacted …..always….always…. for their good.

Where the law – their law – as citizens of this country, will always supercede canon laws that have neither legitimacy nor place in the affairs of this country.

This report tells us a tale of a frankly brazen disregard for protecting children. If we do not respond swiftly and appropriately as a State, we will have to prepare ourselves for more reports like this. I agree with Archbishop Martin that the Church needs to publish any other and all other reports like this as soon as possible.

I must note the Commission is very positive about the work of the National Board for Safeguarding Children, established by the Church to oversee the operation by Dioceses and religious orders. The Commission notes that all Church authorities were required to sign a contract with the National Board agreeing to implement the relevant standards and that those refusing to sign would be named in the Board’s Annual Report. Progress has been in no small measure to the commitment of Ian Elliott and others.

There is some small comfort to be drawn by the people of Cloyne from the fact that the Commission is complimentary of the efforts made by the Diocese since 2008, in training, in vetting personnel and in the risk management of Priests against whom allegations have been made.

Nevertheless, the behaviour of Bishop Magee and Monsignor O’Callaghan show how fragile even good standards and policies are to the weakness and willful disregard of those
who fail to give the right priority to safeguarding our children.

But if the Vatican needs to get its house in order, so does this State.

The Report of the Commission is rightly critical of the entirely unsatisfactory position which the last Government allowed to persist over many years. The unseemly bickering between the Minister for Children and the HSE over the statutory powers to deal with extra-familial abuse, the failure to produce legislation to enable the exchange of soft information as promised after the Ferns Enquiry, and the long period of confusion and disjointed responsibility for child protection within the HSE, as reported by the Commission, are simply not acceptable in a society which values children and their safety.

For too long Ireland has neglected its children.

Just last week we saw a case of the torture of children, within the family, come before the courts. Just two days ago, we were repulsed by the case of a Donegal registered sex offender…and school caretaker…

Children and young adults reduced to human wreckage. Raising questions and issues of serious import for State agencies.

We are set to embark on a course of action to ensure the State is doing all it can to safeguard our children.

Minister Shatter is bringing forward two pieces of legislation – firstly, to make it an offence to withhold information relating to crimes against children and vulnerable adults; and secondly, at long last, to allow for the exchange of ‘soft information’ on abusers.

As Taoiseach, I want to do all I can to protect the sacred space of childhood and to restore its innocence. Especially our young teenagers, whom I believe to be children. Because regardless of our current economic crisis, the children of this country are, and always will be, our most precious possession of all. Safeguarding their integrity and innocence must be a national priority. This is why I undertook to create a Cabinet ministry for Children and Youth Affairs.

The legislation ‘Children First’ proposes to give our children maximum protection and security without intruding on the hectic, magical business of being a child.

Cardinal Josef Ratzinger said “Standards of conduct appropriate to civil society or the workings of a democracy cannot be purely and simply applied to the Church.”

As the Holy See prepares its considered response to the Cloyne Report, as Taoiseach, I am making it absolutely clear, that when it comes to the protection of the children of this State, the standards of conduct which the Church deems appropriate to itself, cannot and will not, be applied to the workings of democracy and civil society in this republic.

Not purely, or simply or otherwise.

CHILDREN…. FIRST.

Our # 1 Problem: Fundamentalism in the Catholic Church


 

Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age

In relating to fundamentalist Catholics we need to avoid hostile or heated arguments.

 

(Particular thanks for these reflections to Father Gerald Arbuckle SM author of Culture, Inculturation, and Theologians: A Postmodern Critique)

Nostalgia for a pre-Vatican II Golden Age, when it is assumed that the Church never changed, is the foundation for Catholic fundamentalism which is becoming quite a problem in contemporary church leadership.

The fact is: the Church and its teachings have often changed. Over the years some church statements have been shown to be wrong and were either repealed or allowed to lapse.

Here are some characteristics of contemporary Roman Catholic fundamentalism:

  • A highly selective approach to what Catholic fundamentalists think pertains to the Church’s teaching: Statements  on incidental issues are obsessively affirmed, but papal or episcopal pronouncements on social justice are ignored or considered matters for debate only.
  • Concern for accidentals, not for the substance of issues, e.g., the  stress on Latin for the liturgy, failing to see that this does not pertain to authentic tradition.
  • The vehemence and intolerance with which they attack co-religionists who are striving to relate the Gospel to the world around them according to Vatican II.
  • Attempts to infiltrate governmental structures of the Church in order to obtain legitimacy for their views and to impose them on the whole Church.
  • An elitist assumption that fundamentalists have a kind of supernatural authority and right to pursue and condemn those who disagree with them, including bishops and theologians.
  • A spirituality in which Jesus Christ is portrayed as an unforgiving and punishing God; the overwhelming compassion and mercy of Christ is overlooked.

WHAT TO DO:

In relating to fundamentalist thoughtful and concerned Catholics need to avoid hostile or heated arguments. Membership in fundamentalist groups is not a question of logic, but generally of a sincere, but misguided, search for meaning and belonging. Expressions of anger and vigorous disagreement will only affirm people in the rightness of their belief. 

Our best witness to the truths of our Catholic beliefs will be our inner peace built on faith, charity and concern for justice, especially among the most marginalized.

Peace to All!

John Greenleaf