28 January, 2010

Taking Stock::- Some thoughts

I recently received a comment from a person who came into the Vatican II Church. It seems that anonymous was happy and found a "new family" in the Church until the display of power and authoritarianism came to the fore in the last few years. Listen to anonymous:
I being a convert to Catholicism lost family ties as well as friendship to become a Catholic and I have found myself suddenly abandoned on a sea of rules and regulations....I have only been around Vatican II theology.... and I now feel so betrayed, disappointed, and disgusted that I can no longer fight the systematic reversal of Vatican II.... and despite that I can no longer worship with people I love as much as my own family I cannot continue to call myself a Roman Catholic and still be true to my conscience...

Do you read frustration, anger, and, especially, deep hurt in this person. What touches me the most is the sense of hurt and betrayal; a sense that "the People of God," collegiality, and ecumenism, no longer characterize the community he was, by the grace of God, called into at a great price.

Yes, I too am frustrated and angry at the re-assertion of 19th century neo-scholastic theology as the guiding force for the "reform of the reform:" the results of which we see in recent liturgical changes, and the reorientation of "inter-religious dialogue" toward "inter-cultural dialogue." [Both are important and necessary]. We have seen the widespread use of the Tridentine Latin Mass encouraged and the Latinization of our English Liturgy as well as permitting conservative Anglican married clergy to join the Roman Catholic Church with little attention to many of our good priests who de facto were required to submit to a promise of celibacy. All of these changes were made without any real attempts to get input from the laity or even the "lower" clergy. At the very least, these changes have the odor power more than pastoral care. Sometimes it seems to me that the fear of secularization and modern culture and the rise of  "Evangelical Catholicism" simply result from a loss of Faith and Hope at the Vatican and among many bishops.

Yes, secularization and our modern culture, especially our rank individualism, present challenges to us as Catholic Christians and to the whole People of God. But my trust and Faith in God and my sense of Hope (probably the least preached on virtue), will not allow me to find solace in returning to the rigid, authoritarian institutional structures of the 19th and first half of the 20th Centuries.

Some say that Vatican II has been the cause of a weakened Church, the reason for an increase in "non-practicing Catholics," the lack of converts, and on and on. I would only ask those who feel this way to consider for a moment, "Might it not be the case that the Church and the world would be much, much worse off had it not been for Vatican II?"

I will, and I encourage Anonymous and everyone else who loves the People of God to re-affirm their own commitment to to the Holy Spirit guided words of  Vatican II. At a practical level this will mean finding support through small faith groups who live from Vatican II and more recent progressive theology. Remain close to the Scripture and seek out Vatican II oriented priests for Liturgy. If possible, read good Church history (E.g. McBrien's, The Church) and remember we stand in continuity with a People who go back to Jesus; that our history did not begin with the Council of Trent and the Counter Reformation. Those who value Vatican II will find common ground with of the institutional Church's social justice principles. Hopefully, we can exert influence to apply those principles within the Church (E.g. for women, LGBT persons, ordination of both genders with attention to married as well as single clergy, significant roles for laity within the Church, not "just" in "Catholic Action" in the larger society, etc.).

In the end there must be compassion for ourselves, for those who are so regularly hurt by actions on the part of the powerful in the Church, and even toward those who understand the Church so differently from the authentic understanding of Vatican II. Conservatives often say, with regard to gays, "Hate the sin but love the sinner." [I believe that statement continues to be a put-down of  gay, lesbian and bi-sexual people, just as those who insult women with regard to ordination when they say, "You lack only one thing, a penis."]. But maye we could say, " 'Hate' revisionist theology and practice, but love the revisionists."

Pax vobis et oremus pro invicem!!

1 comment:

  1. Sebastian,

    Please give me some reasons that I should remain a Roman Catholic. Why should I wait for the Church to come to its senses? There are other Churches/Communities (Episcopal or Lutheran) that I can worship. Why should I subject myself to a church that allowed the cruelty of sex abuse to continue for so long? Why should I be proud of a church that continues to allow the poor and unequal treatment of women and gays? Why I should be tolerant of Bishops and Priests think that following the “rules” is the only way to salvation? Why should I belong to a church that sounds remarkably like the Pharisees that had Jesus crucified?
    I am having a hard time believing that the Roman Catholic Church cares for its people. I could go on about the inane belief that birth control is a sin despite the fact it would end over population or protect people from the HIV infection. I could write a book on the fear that the ordination of women or married men would end the world as we know it and maybe it would, but things need to be shaken up don’t you think? You know the other problems of the Church and I will not insult your intelligence by going on with this tirade. If the Roman Catholic Church keeps clinging to the outdated medieval theology it will find itself a useless antique in the future.
    Thanks for trying but I believe I am lost cause. I will have to find Christ somewhere else. It seems that He is overshadowed by the Roman Church’s hierarchy and governance. One has to look much too hard to find him in all the black ink and red tape.


Comments most welcome.