Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Be not afraid

Some have emailed me asking if I was alright since I have not posted for a while. To tell you the truth I have been a little depressed for a period of time. I had such high hopes to be living under a President Kerry, a Catholic after my own heart. The joy I felt at hearing the first exit polls only to be crushed as state after state fell into the red zone. This was bad enough and I tried to cheer myself up by remembering this is only a four year term and thinking about the possiblilty of a President Hillary Clinton who though is not Catholic is very close to me spiritually.

With the death of John Paul II again my hopes for the next head of the church were raised. Not to speak ill of the dead, but I thought his papacy was initially promising but overall disappointing. Sister Susannah Malarkey sums up what I feel.
Well, he was socially progressive, and doctrinally conservative. Those of us who believe in the development of doctrine and the idea that even disciplinary laws of the church are made by humans believe that they can be unmade by humans. I think the pope just held the line -- perhaps feeling that the church was losing its moorings in this liberalism that he saw particularly in the developed countries -- in the United States, especially. He needed to sort of dig in his heels, which is what he did. Now, I think it's time to take a new look at some of these issues. Take the celibacy of priests, for instance. There is nothing in scripture to support that idea. The same is true for [the church's stand on] gay marriage. I think these decisions need to be looked at each time we have a cultural shift like this -- to see what fits and what doesn't fit.

What sorts of issues do you think might change?

Well, I think it's possible in the next 20 years that we'll have married priests. I think gay marriage is a cultural phenomenon that within 25 years will probably be recognized [by the church] as a legitimate union of love between two people. I don't see it ever becoming recognized as marriage per se, but [it it may be recognized] as a partnership of love -- and a legitimate one.

What about women priests? Do you think that will happen anytime soon?

No, I don't. Women in the church already have quite an effect, but as far as having any kind of position of real influence in the workings of the church, they simply don't. And if you watch these parades of priests, bishops and cardinals all coming down to carry the pope's body, and to officiate at his funeral, you don't see a single woman there. I think this is very offensive. Jesus treated women as equals, but if Jesus were on Earth, walking through this crowd of men, would he even recognize his gospel here?

Even though I kind of felt that I was setting my self up for disappointment I was hoping that the Cardinal-electors would truly listen to the Holy Spirit and choose a
a more progressive Cardinal. They unfortunately did not listen for guidance and a need for a healer and reconciler and I am not alone in my opinion.
  • The election of Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as Pope comes as an enormous disappointment for all those who hoped for a reformist and pastoral Pope. -- Hans Küng
  • A spokeswoman for the Ordination of Catholic Women said the cardinals' choice would keep the religion locked in conservatism.

    "We were hoping for a pope who was listening to the hard issues and a pope ready to offer dialogue and with Ratzinger, unless a miracle happens, that will not be the case," Associate convener Joelle Battestini said.
  • Dr Collins was investigated for heresy between 1998 and 2001 following the publication of his book, Papal Power, which was critical of the centralisation of the church.

    "When it was announced ... I have to admit to a tinge of disappointment," Dr Collins said.

  • It would be hard to over-state the radicalism of this decision. It's not simply a continuation of John Paul II. It's a full-scale attack on the reformist wing of the church. The swiftness of the decision and the polarizing nature of this selection foretell a coming civil war within Catholicism. The space for dissidence, previously tiny, is now extinct. And the attack on individual political freedom is just beginning. --Andrew Sullivan
  • "They elected another Pope. It’s Ratzinger - the Goebbels of the Vatican. Un...believable, even for an organization as self-destructively oblivious as this one. Well, for Catholics and the dwindling number of Westerners who still take Catholicism seriously, it’s time to kiss the Dark Ages hello again...The medieval wing of an organization that just barely got over Galileo has now claimed the right to declare itself “infallible” (the irony of which they never seem to get). If you thought John Paul II was bad, wait till you get a load of Pope Torquemada Jr."
  • The Rev. Al Moser struck a similar note at Newman Hall near UC Berkeley. He acknowledged many parishioners in the famously liberal city reacted negatively to the selection of the new pope, but told them they have a responsibility to pray for him nonetheless.

    "We are equal before God, so we have a responsibility, certainly to pray, certainly to love," he told the group. "We are not apart. We are part of the church.

    "We are one family. We are together. We ask the Lord to send our spirits to Benedict XVI. We grow together in God's love."

    Parishioners reacted favorably to the message, but still expressed some regret over the choice of a pope who isn't likely to move the church in the direction they'd like him to -- including toward allowing priests to marry and women to be ordained. Benedict, the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, served Pope John Paul II beginning in 1981 as head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. In that position, he has disciplined church dissidents and upheld church policy against attempts by liberals for reforms.

    "A lot of us were hoping for someone more liberal," said Diane Dietrich, a Riverside resident vacationing in San Francisco. She said she is especially dismayed that priests cannot marry, considering she knows three ex-priests who left their positions to wed.

  • Isn't it strange that in a matter of hours our faith has been transported back to the Counter-Reformation? The Torquemadas have no problem getting canonized now...
  • One of the Brazilian Church’s most radical social activists, Bishop Tomás Balduino OP, Bishop Emeritus of Goiás and president of the rural pastoral commission (CPT), was not optimistic: he said the choice of the new Pope would mean greater rigidity on doctrinal matters, and would lead to even greater centralisation. “You don’t have to be a prophet to see how things will be,” he said. “He will continue and deepen the line taken by his predecessor.”
  • "Catholics for a Free Choice is deeply concerned that the election of Cardinal Josef Ratzinger as pope is a strong indication of continued dissension within the church. The cardinal’s historic role as a disciplinarian means the tradition of the punitive father is maintained within the Roman Catholic church."
  • "The white smoke yesterday signaled that the Vatican thinks what it needs to bring it into modernity is the oldest pope since the 18th century: Joseph Ratzinger, a 78-year-old hidebound archconservative who ran the office that used to be called the Inquisition and who once belonged to Hitler Youth. For American Catholics - especially women and Democratic pro-choice Catholic pols - the cafeteria is officially closed." --Maureen Dowd
Even in this time of profound sorrow it is good to remember that we are not alone! That we still exist and our opinions have not yet been trampled down and that we can continue to dialogue to bring about positive change in the church. This is a teaching moment for us and a sign for use to revitalize our efforts. For once I disagree with Ms. Dowd that the cafeteria is closed. Those of us who believe in change for the church are the same today as we were yesterday and we are not going away.
(AP) A nun who was ordered by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger to stop ministering to gays and lesbians called his election to pope "devastating" for those who believe the Catholic Church needs to be more tolerant on social issues such as homosexuality.

Sister Jeannine Gramick said the choice of Ratzinger, who as the Vatican's guardian of doctrine silenced her and Father Robert Nugent in a 1999 order, will likely prevent the church from "moving into the 21st century and out of the Middle Ages."

"It does not bode well for people who are concerned for lesbian and gay people in the church," she said.

Gramick and Nugent founded the Mount Rainier-based New Ways Ministry in 1977. The pair ministered to gays and lesbians, held retreats, published writings on homosexuality and the church, and traveled the nation to hold workshops.

The Vatican, which disapproves of homosexuality and gay marriage, investigated the ministry for years through its Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, a body headed by Ratzinger.

A 1999 opinion signed by Ratzinger said Gramick and Nugent's teachings were "erroneous and dangerous" and that they "caused confusion among the Roman Catholic people." Both were ordered to end their ministry. Nugent conceded but
Gramick chose to continue speaking out, eventually leaving her religious order.
Sister Gramick's example is just so praiseworthy and it inspires me so. That she has not bowed down under the heavy hand of persecution. That the inquisition headed by then-cardinal Ratzinger did not deter her from her vision. She did not knuckle down under the weight of an unfeeling male hierarchy but instead bravely fights on! Her example renews me We are not alone and I will leave you with some food for thought by theologian Maria Pilar Aquino.

...Globally, she said, "many people saw the hierarchical church of the past quarter-century and more as an institution, an absolutist monarchy, that lacked transparency as it operated among others nations in the halls and meeting rooms of the United Nations and elsewhere exerting what influence it could through its Department of State.

Large numbers of Catholic scholars and intellectuals, she said, show a clear "rejection of the outdated, imposed, and one-sided thought patterns of the Roman Curia and the Vatican as a whole. We feminist Catholic theologians profoundly disagree with the intractable position of official Roman Catholicism regarding reproductive rights and women's human rights," she said.

Today, instead, the Roman Catholic church is to me a site of struggle," she said. "This church will survive as a whole only if it has the vision and the strength to become a discipleship of equals as a whole. The major concern of the Roman Catholic church should not be that of exalting and glorifying any pope's figure, but that of radically transforming the structure of the papacy and the relationship of the Vatican State to the world. Only by doing that can the church demonstrate that it continues being faithful to the Gospel of Jesus Christ."