Monday, June 30, 2014

The results are in...



Remember that brief 39 essay question survey the Vatican issued a few months back? You know… the one soliciting opinions about the church’s teachings on human sexuality and marriage to act as input to this October’s Synod on the Family.  Well, the Vatican has compiled and released its preliminary findings from the survey in a document called an instrumentum laboris.  Literally translated from Latin as…and we know the Vatican is all about literal Latin translations… granting us, O Lord, we pray, to hear about impoverished Jesus having an oblation in a gallant chalice held by his holy and venerable hands on a regular basis…  But, I digress.  Literally translated, instrumentum laboris means “instrument of labor”, basically a tool.

If you don’t want me to spoil your pleasure reading the 85 page report yourself, then stop reading now.  However, if you don’t want to invest numerous irretrievable hours of your life reading a report that could have been written without surveying a single person, you might prefer reading this summary instead.

When it was first issued, I wrote this about the survey in a November 2, 2013 blog article, “…do not place too much hope that the Vatican seeking your opinion means the Vatican will actually heed your advice.  It might again just inspire the Vatican to write another really long document in Latin explaining why you are wrong.”

It turns out that statement was prescient other than the Vatican crowd did disappoint by writing the original report in Italian rather than Latin.  Don’t despair.  We can still hope that some dreadfully long academic admonition in Latin emerges from the Synod itself.

To be fair, amidst the 85 pages of “We are right so how do we get these stubborn, misguided idiots to follow us…”, there were 2 entire sentences acknowledging the hierarchy’s lack of credibility as a moral authority since its culture enables criminal sexual abuse of children (paragraph 75).  And there was a half sentence which came dangerously close to acknowledging cultural sexism, “In some places characterized by a somewhat sexist cultural tradition, there exists a certain lack of respect towards women…”  (paragraph 55)

Don’t fret though.  The guys in Rome were not speaking of their own overt institutional sexist culture but the “somewhat” sexist secular culture in certain geographical regions only.  Vatican-originated sexism seems to be getting brasher as the idolized pope Francis recently boldly evaded Italian journalist Franca Giansoldati’s compelling questions about women by making sexist jokes.  For example, Giansoldati was trying to get Francis to be specific about these greater church roles for women he often touts by asking if Frank might appoint women to lead any Vatican departments.  Francis felt that serious question merited this response, “Well, priests often end up under the sway of their housekeepers.” 

Help me understand, Francis.  What message were you trying to convey about women and why did you think evoking the image of a stereotype rooted in both sexism and clericalism would convey it?

Anyway, here’s a summary of the report.  Brace yourself for the insightful void of insight:

  1. Unmarried, childless, clerical men, often lacking healthy intimate relationships, who like to parade in bejeweled gowns, know more about relationships, marriage, and child rearing than people who are actually married or have children.
  2. Said men are right, were right and will always be right.
  3. If you disagree with the hierarchy, you must be ignorant, stubborn or misguided and will be labeled “lost” even if you have a better grasp of the gospel messages than hierarchical leaders and consider them lost.  Please see item (2).
  4. Any information you provided through the survey was just to help them help you by “enlightening” you about your sinful ignorance in more “loving” and effective ways.  See item (2).
  5. If people have difficulty accepting what the hierarchy teaches, it must either be a problem of how the hierarchy expresses its teachings or how you receive it because the teachings themselves are, did I mention this yet….”right.”  See item (2).
  6. Gender studies that unmask the hierarchy’s sexism and misogyny are evil due to them inspiring people to question item (2).
  7. Information and facts are your enemy unless they are filtered through Vatican approved spin-doctors.  They cause you to realize when the hierarchy is wrong and again, please see item (2).
  8. If anything inspires you to question item (2), it is evil.
  9. By studying science and nature, people have figured out that the hierarchy’s invented “natural law” notion is, much like this term, qui fabricati (fabricated..made up).  Since this is confounding the hierarchy’s ability to confound nature, rather than correct themselves…because please see item (2) above…they might need to consider inventing a new slogan.
  10. Life situations that do not align with the hierarchy’s romanticized, academic, theological musings must be miserable because if they aren’t, it might lead to contradicting the immovable premises set forth in item (2) above.
  11. Model your marriage after the Holy Family….you know, the family that procreated without having sex.
  12. If the hierarchy feels you are unworthy to receive communion because of your marital and/or sexual practices, you need to just accept that they do this for your own good and overlook the hypocrisy of the sexual escapades and/or crimes of the men consecrating the hosts and ordaining the men who consecrate the hosts.
  13. Despite the gospel indicating Jesus came for the sinner, the hierarchy perpetuates the notion that communion is only for the worthy, and hierarchical leaders will, of course, define who is worthy…please see item (2). 

I offer this as food for thought.  The morning my mom died I asked her what she wanted for breakfast and she responded, “I want…I want…oh, what is that thing called…I WANT THE CHILD THAT IS MEDICINE!!!  That woman could barely breathe or think clearly but she about blew my hair back barking with fierce certainty that she wanted the Eucharist…the child that is medicine.

Gentlemen of Rome, please take note from my dying mother.   Communion is medicine for the misbehaving (that is all of us) not a treat for the well-behaved.  Who then that desires communion should be denied it?

By the way, I’m not surprised by the report; I could have written it last November before the first response was submitted.  I would call it a vastate labore (wasted effort) rather than instrumentum laboris (instrument of labor).

As I mentioned in my previous blog article, the hierarchy thinks it is married to the church (the people of God).  With this example of the hierarchy’s unhealthy marital relationship “dialogue” practices…asking questions for the sole purpose of gaining ammunition to prove your spouse is wrong…should the hierarchy  perhaps gaze in the mirror or at theology and Canon Law more than at T.V.s, newspapers, the internet, gender studies, secular governments, science or smartphones when pondering the underlying causes of strained interpersonal relationships? 

Marriage isn’t about who is right and who is wrong.  It is not a True/False quiz.  It is about learning, sharing, bending and being together in love.  My dear brothers in the hierarchy, as long as you set yourself above and apart, how can you be credible examples of or proponents for marital love?

8 comments:

  1. I don't think it was wasted. Let me put it this way: we have known for some time that the emperor has no clothes, but if the emperor has all the power, we can say it as often and as loud as we want, and it makes little difference. This questionaire was intended as a "snapshot" of what we think. "Snapshot" implies a camera or some such, and we get a picture of the emperor out of it... which is sometimes said to be worth a thousand words.

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    1. Yes, it does serve the purpose to reveal the insincerity of the effort...the nakedness..of that and the unwillingness to depart from things even in the face of overwhelming evidence that what they cling to is false. It makes them appear less as guardians of truth and more as guardians of their opinions.

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  2. Many thanks for keeping focus on reality and not hocus-pocus. MaryKay


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  3. The Synod document was an odious example of Church rhetoric at its smuggest and most condescending. The world is to blame, the culture is to blame, Catholics are to blame for embracing so-called secular values (common sense, for example). Gays are "these people." Married people reject the Church's teaching on contraception because they don't understand it. And on and on and on. The cynicism of the report's authors is appalling. Any hope we had that, finally, the Church was listening to us has been buried under this pile of empty paper.

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  4. Just brilliant . . . as Alfred says above, the Emperor is wearing no clothes, but still pretending that he is clothed. They say that religious thought is often paradoxical, but this is absurd . . . with the constant return to Item 2 in your list.

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  5. Always a joy to read your articles. Thank you!

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  6. Kathleen SchatzbergJuly 1, 2014 at 10:13 AM

    Sorry, I meant to post with my name --

    Didn't they actually use the term "children" to refer to the laity in this document? … as in, the clergy must work with "kindness and mercy" to lead the "children" back to church teachings.

    I can't wait to see your next blog, Ewe -- won't it be on Francis' remarks to the first woman reporter allowed to interview him?

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    1. Yeah, was considering that as a topic...fascinating article...reveals much

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