Documentary History of Catholic Clergy Abuse

Thanks to Bishop Accountability for creating a time line of recent clergy abuse “at a glance” (post 1940, not including all the history of killing through the Crusades, persecution of innocents during auto da fe, and horrific abuse of all who dared to disagree with his pope-nesses down through the centuries).  For a video documenting before that:

Of course clergy abuse isn’t limited to Catholic priests. Most religions have their pedophiles, murderers, and nutcases, the majority of them male, which is a good reason to steer clear of men gathering in large groups and those males who hold positions of authority.


Misogyny in the Morning

Everyone seems so curious about why the Roman Catholic church would allow Anglican congregations to convert en masse to Catholicism, still retaining married priests, etc. The answer is simple: the Catholic Church is suffering a priest shortage and has to solve this somehow. The numbers of those entering the priesthood has been in steady decline since the 60s. So why else would they do it? This allows them to get more priests without having to admit that celibacy should be chosen not forced and also to keep those pesky women out of the priesthood; a “problem” that Anglicans are grappling with right now.

Well damn!! It’s all us “tainted” women’s fault again. If we would just keep our taints out of religion everyone would be happier don’t you think? Then all men can avoid the “pussification” of the countries they live in. Ah… love the smell of misogyny in the morning…..

(thanks Reg for all the links and Tweets that informed this post)

Whose Eucharist Is It?

Sally Quinn, a Protestant, is getting lots of flack by Catholics and William Donohue’s Catholic League for taking Communion at Tim Russert’s Roman Catholic funeral. She writes a great explanation here. I really dislike it when Christians get all proprietary and exclusive about rituals. It reeks of us vs. them mentality when, from what I read of Jesus, he didn’t even exclude the Gentile “dogs” from eating the scraps from the Master’s table (Matthew 15:24-28). So, how can Christians do any less? Is the Eucharist the church’s property to include and exclude whom they will or is it the open invitation of God to partake in the Kingdom? What do you think?

A Sermon in Books on Sunday Morning

This weekend, I had every intention of going to church. After a lonnnnnng weekend of 4th of July activities, fried Walleye fish sandwiches and cheese fries (did I say I’ve been off my “heart healthy” diet?), and rearranging the bedroom, I was ready for a leisurely Sunday. Being both Catholic and Baptist (no it’s not redundant or an oxymoron) I intended to go to Mass on Saturday and Baptist worship on Sunday. Well, we got lazy and watched a movie on Saturday instead. Ooops. If I were more scrupulous, I’d write that down for confession next weekend, but I’ve outgrown the scrupulosity I had when I first became Catholic. Still, I felt a small twinge of guilt.

Yesterday my husband and I rearranged our bedroom. It’s a long room and rearranging is not easy. I can’t help very much either since I have a bad back. But I gave it a go and was aching all over by day’s end on Saturday. We also had gotten a new mattress last week (an ordinary Bemco) because I could no longer sleep on the $1500 mistake of a latex foam mattress we bought last year. I would arise every morning since we bought the thing with what felt like severe arthritis. I could barely move around. It was so odd. This mattress was always billed as great for your back. Uh-no!! But this morning, after a day of heavy lifting and an Aleve cocktail, I got up freshly feng shue-d and rested in our rearranged bedroom and new mattress and got ready for church. Sunday school is always first up for Baptists who only have one worship service on Sunday. In this church, Sunday school was at 9:00 a.m. so, off I went with my bible and lesson book. I got there just in time for pre-Sunday school announcements. I chit-chatted with the ladies for a while and then sat through a good 25 minutes of prayer requests, which is really nothing but the women sitting around trading stories about who was sick and who was sicker. I’m all for prayer concerns, but this was silly. It’s akin to gossip and playing catch-up for the week. After that we finally got to the lesson about hospitality or something. The “proof” text was Job 31. The American Baptist curriculum we use is ok, but it’s by no means in-depth bible study. Most of it is lecture in written form. Of recent years the curriculum is spouting “ermergent-ese.” You know what I mean; where every word discussing the “new church model” ends in “al:” missional, intentional, relational, etc. Ugh.

Well, after the bell was rung for church (literally a little bell like those kept on hotel concierge desks), I started to go into the sanctuary with everyone else, but I fell back. I just couldn’t sit through another bland, Baptist worship service where the same hymns were sung and the same sermons preached. I felt a longing for something deeper, something more true; something to connect with that great Undercurrent of Life. It was communion Sunday (the first Sunday of the month) and I couldn’t face that either. Little bits of bread and little cups of grape juice passed around the pews did not in any way signify to me the deepest mysteries of the Eucharist. I felt that to take it would be a betrayal somehow. So, I packed up my gear (purse, book bag, bag of lettuce from Helen’s garden) and left while everyone filed into the sanctuary. I drove home and found my husband cleaning out the garage. There was a light summer breeze blowing through the trees and after dropping my bags on the kitchen chair, I headed out to our patio with a book. I opened up Brother Odd by Dean Koontz. Odd Thomas, the character of this series of Koontz’s, sees dead people. These dead people usually want him to solve their murders. In this novel, Odd is taking a long-needed retreat in a monastery in the mountains of California after having prevented a larger massacre at a shopping mall. His purpose is to retreat from his ordinary duties to the dead and heal his own soul. As I read partway into the chapter, I found this:

The world beyond this mountain retreat was largely barbarian, a condition it had been striving toward for perhaps a century and a half. A once glorious civilization was now only a pretense; a mask allowing barbarians to commit ever greater cruelties in the name of virtues that a truly civilized world would have recognized as evils. Having fled that barbaric disorder I was reluctant to admit that no place was safe, no retreat beyond the reach of anarchy… (page 64-65)

That’s how I feel most of the time right now. I feel that barbarians have been allowed to take charge of the hen-house and our only hope is a “chicken-run.” Many people, I’m sure, feel this way nowadays. Each thinks they are right in feeling this way and want to blame others, but regardless of who is “right” or who should be blamed, I feel as if the world has hurtled toward some barbarism much faster than anticipated and that words no longer mean the same things any longer. We’ve come to a war of ideas and dogmas. It’s the era of Big Brother speak in which the signifiers no longer signify long held beliefs but are being used against the definers of traditions in ways that bring confusion and anarchy. I also feel today, that I had learned far more sitting in my breezeway reading fiction than I could have listening to one sermon in a long line of spiritless sermons.

My retreat lately feels just like Odd Thomas’ retreat. It’s a falling back; a regrouping. It is a choice to choose non-action in a world that does nothing but mindlessly act merely because it feels good to our self-esteem to act. At what point is our character development more important than activism for activism’s sake? I wonder if anyone really knows why they argue endlessly for the beliefs that they do? I wonder what is solid and real and what is mere show and bluster; bread and circuses? I am also beginning to think that I’m an unfortunate product of my time (70s), my education (university) and my lack or conscience formation. I can soak up vast amounts of knowledge and “education” but I cannot honestly come up with a consistent ethic of my own. I have simply bought into the empty rhetoric of poststructuralism where there are no norms and where consistency is lacking. I had given up trying. I fall back on the argument that there is no use trying because there is no foundation on which to base concrete beliefs.

Increasingly, in my self imposed exile from belief, I’ve found that despite what Emerson said about consistency, there is a deep, deep truth to foundational thinking. Emerson did not say that consistency was the problem; foolish consistency was. We are living in an age, I think, of foolish consistency. One of the books that set me permanently on the road to Roman Catholicism is John A. Hardon’s The Catholic Catechism. It is beautifully written and far easier to read than the modern Catechism the church put out in recent years. Hardon writes at the beginning of the book about the age in which we live,

The world in which one lives keeps asking for evidence, it wants to be shown that what the believer believes is not mere illusion but objectively true. This same world protests that all human knowledge is unstable, that what people know today others will know better and more accurately tomorrow. So the man of faith must defend himself against the charge of dogmatism, as though what he believes now has always been true and will remain essentially unchanged in a universe whose only apparent constant is change. It would be tempting to try to respond immediately to both levels of criticism in our day. More effective is to look at ourselves and ask what too many Christians have taken for granted: What do we believe, and why? This will lead us into pastures that few Catholics, who may be severely orthodox, have ever visited. We are discovering that orthodoxy is no guarantee of perseverance and still less of living up to what the faith demands. Self knowledge as believers will deepen our loyalty and help evoke generosity, and in the process the commonplace objections will also be satisfactorily answered. (pages 29-30)

I suppose Hardon is saying that in discovering the reasons for our own belief we will answer the questions of our age. Ours is a time of surface thinking and surface solutions. We want change for change’s sake as if we are going to come up with anything new. There is nothing new under the sun, yet no one born form the 60s onward wants to believe that. Our churches, especially Protestant ones, are not asking us to deeply examine our beliefs. They are only asking us to enforce a prideful dogmatism and certainty about doctrine. They are only asking us to accept change just as the world wants to accept change. There is no substance in it. We are not asked to examine, test, and practice. I’m tired of wasting time on ineffective methods or theories that are merely the pet projects of mega-pastors and gospel shills. I want to get to the kernel, the very heart of ethics, the tried and true, the deep foundations, not just learn to spout what others have said because it sounds pleasant. I feel like I’m close to discovering something…. I’m still striving for I’m not sure what, but I’ll let you know if I get there.


Supporting Freedom of Choice is a Sin, But Abusing Children is Ok!

Ok, Roman Catholics are really beginning to piss me off big time. First we have a Pope who turns a blind eye to the sexual abuse of thousands of children and now we have bishops telling governors that supporting the right of others to do as they wish is a sin! Hmmmm. Pot meet kettle. So let me get this straight. The ACTUAL sexual abuse of children is ok and is not subject to excommunication (after all priests need their outlets don’t you know), but someone who hasn’t ACTUALLY had an abortion can be excommunicated for exercising their civil rights and being pro-choice. Is that correct? I mean really, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t this the HEIGHT of hypocrisy and absurdity? It’s a known fact that all of the popes swept the abusive priest reports under the rug in order to keep their coveted positions. What I don’t understand is why people still worship morons like these. I’m not surprised really, just very, very pissed off and sickened that a pope and bishops and priests and all Catholic clergy are given a free pass by the laity to do whatever they wish and to whomever they wish. How dumb and blind is that?

For those not so gullible, there is help here and here. And for those who want to see the light, there’s help here.

“Eat, Pray, Love” and Catholic Ritual

Lent and Easter are coming up really fast this year! Ash Wednesday is February 4!!! Whenever this season rolls around I long for the ritual and mystery of the Catholic/Orthodox Church. The pomp and ceremony, which sometimes annoys me at other times, is just the ticket during Lent. People cringe when I cater my spiritual whims this way, but I’m with Elizabeth Gilbert on this one. She writes,

We do spiritual ceremonies as human beings in order to create a safe resting place for our most complicated feelings of joy or trauma, so that we don’t have to haul those feeling around with us forever, weighing us down. We all need such places of ritual safekeeping. And I do believe that if your culture or tradition doesn’t have the specific ritual you’re craving, then you are absolutely permitted to make up a ceremony of your own devising, fixing your own broken-down emotional systems with all the do-it-yourself resourcefulness of a generous plumber/poet. If you bring the right earnestness to your homemade ceremony, God will provide the grace. And that is why we need God (page 187).

It is indeed.

When I am at the end of my own spiritual rope and cannot even muster up the “right earnestness” I go to the Catholic church and get fed. I find that in Protestant houses of worship, the faithful are expected to come to worship and give, give, give to God all that you have and lay it spiritually at the alter. This is it’s own reward and sometimes we feel the Holy Spirit move and sometimes we don’t. I find, though, that in the Catholic church the only thing I have to bring is repentance and be open to receiving the mystery; in penance and the Eucharist. Sometimes, and more and more lately, I find that I can’t sustain my own spiritual highs in Baptist churches. I couldn’t possibly be charismatic or pentecostal and do what they do Sunday after Sunday. I’ll go for weeks feeling devoid of all desire to worship. When my spiritual “gas tank” is on E, I trot down to the local Catholic church, put aside my problems with their doctrines and dogmas, and fill up again.

Cafeteria Christian? Perhaps. But I refuse to be bound by artificial denominational boundaries and petty rules about exclusivity. That’s for man to answer for. I’m simply following the call of the Spirit in my life.