Sunday, December 27, 2015
Sunday, December 13, 2015
Saturday, December 5, 2015
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
At the risk of expressing myself in an inefficient manner, allow me to share some recent inter-personal exchanges with you.
Last week I was in Africa for a large diocesan event. Consequently I found myself in the company of many African priests. Our conversations often turned to the Synod. While in the company of four African priests I mentioned that some American media outlets reported that the African bishops were trying to block certain discussions. One of the four replied that he thought he knew which topics African bishops would try to block and then proceeded to speculate they were LGBT issues and communion for "'separated' and remarried Catholics...because there is no such thing as 'divorce' in the eyes of God."
We had a spirited dialogue following his comment that went something like this:
Me: Why are you focusing on lay Catholics rather than the priests who break the same commandment?
Him: (deer in headlights look....)
Me: I've seen statistics that about 50% of Catholic priests are sexually active. There are 4 priests here now. Statistically speaking, that means 2 of you are probably sexually active. According to moral theology, you two break the same commandment as divorced and remarried people. However, not only do you get to receive communion, you get to consecrate the hosts!
Him: But such priests do this in secret!!!!
Me: Which is more reprehensible! Secrecy gave us the abuse scandal, didn't it? Besides, it's not a secret. People tend to know.
Him: (a more frightened deer in headlights look...)
Me: Tell me truthfully, do you know multiple priests who are currently sexually active?
Him: (stunned look)
Me: So, you'd be lying if you told me "no" wouldn't you? And, thus, it's not a secret is it?
Him: (chuckling in a very sheepish rather than shepherd-ish way) Welllllllll......
Me: Well nothing. They're sexually active... they break the same commandment as divorcees. Commandment number 6 covers all sex-related sins. Same commandment. Same sin. But nobody is talking about refusing communion to all these sexually active priests.
Him: But married people take a vow; their marriage is a sacrament - a sacramental promise. Or don't you consider marriage sacramental? Do you just want to dismiss it as something trivial?
Me: (With look of disbelief at his seeming disconnect from his own priestly sacramental situation...) And......wasn't your ordination a sacrament? Didn't your sacramental promises include celibacy with implied chastity? Or don't you consider your ordination as a sacrament? Was it just something trivial? By the way, you know what my bishop calls sexually active priests? He says they have "celibacy lapses"... Lapses! Like it's as insignificant as forgetting to take out the trash. Maybe that's all divorced and remarried people are having too..."lapses."
Me: But, don't you think we should hold church leaders to a higher standard than the laity?
Me: Isn't this a special category of hypocrisy where the clerics fuss and sputter about the splinter in others' eyes rather than worrying about the big, huge, honking log in their own eyes?
Me: Yes, "um." We will be attending a diocesan Mass this weekend and there will be at least 100 clergy present; so likely 50 of them will be sexually active, breaking their sacramental promises, violating the 6th commandment. But they will all get to receive communion without question and even con-celebrate consecrating the hosts.
Him: But should the church not have any laws or rules?
Me: Well, I think we should stop using communion as a doggie treat to reward good behavior and instead use it as a balm to heal the wounded. Did or did not Jesus give communion to Judas?
Him: Um, yeah he did.
Me: I'm o.k. with laws but I think they should hold leaders to higher standards. So, how about this law? No communion for sexually active priests. And definitely no consecrating the Eucharist for them.
Me: Why not? Same commandment; same infraction; you guys should be up for at least the same consequences... If you were credible leaders, you'd want more severe punishments for yourselves than for the laity.
Different priest: But, I'm a man 24x7 and I have the feelings of a man all day every day. I have needs and urges.
Me: (Thinking to myself, "Methinks before me is one of those sexually active priests...") And divorced laypeople do not have these same needs and urges? And did you or did you not get ordained with full awareness of the celibate state and its....
Same different priest: (finishing my sentence and sounding a bit dejected that the light-bulb in his brain turned on) Its implied chastity...
So, my dear church hierarchy, I don't want to hear any more about trying to justify withholding communion from divorced and remarried Catholics until after sexually active clergy are wholesale banned from receiving and consecrating the Eucharist. Plain and simple: until you are willing to treat sexually active clergy the same as divorced and remarried laypeople, this is a non-issue. Communion for everyone! Full stop.
How about you concentrate on substantive issues like including women as voting members of your gathering, empowering women since they are 70% of people in poverty, or re-instating married clergy and the ordination of women as deacons?
Saturday, October 3, 2015
Sunday, September 27, 2015
A very powerful example rests in this week's gospel reading (Mark 9:38-40), which denudes the bishops' Canon Law demonizing women priests. "John said to him, 'Teacher, we saw someone driving out demons in your name, and we tried to prevent him because he does not follow us.' Jesus replied, 'Do not prevent him. There is no one who performs a mighty deed in my name who can at the same time speak ill of me. For whoever is not against us is for us.'" That gospel passage makes it impossible to denounce people of either gender who work to spread God's love. If the bishops do, they merely repeat the apostles' mistakes from centuries ago.
Tuesday, September 15, 2015
The Michigan Catholic Conference has just sent out the message below via the Bishops' Catholic Advocacy Network. Please follow the link at the end of the message to contact your U.S. Representative.
Legislation is expected to come before the U.S. House of Representatives this week that would eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood of America and its affiliates. Planned Parenthood receives over half a billion taxpayer dollars a year and performs over a third of all abortions around the United States. Recently, a number of undercover videos show officials from the organization willing to participate in the trafficking of fetal organs and tissue, as well as to alter the abortion procedure to obtain more "intact" parts. Taxpayer dollars should not be supporting an organization with these practices.
In particular, House Resolution 3134 places a moratorium on funding for Planned Parenthood for one year and is on the agenda for the House Rules Committee this Wednesday evening. A vote of the full House is expected shortly thereafter.
Take a few minutes now to let your U.S. Representative know that H.R. 3134 and similar legislation such as H.R. 3301 should be adopted into law. Thank you in advance for your efforts on behalf of the unborn.
Michigan Catholic Conference
Click the link below to log in and send your message:
Monday, September 14, 2015
- Stop using communion as a treat for people you consider well-behaved…for any reason.
- Require divorced and remarried people to undergo the same process that priests require when they divorce one parish and remarry another…. Oh, that’s nothing? O.K. Sounds simple, merciful and equitable, to me.
- If you retain an annulment process, how about requiring married people to act as judges? Better yet, how about requiring that the judges be people who have received an annulment themselves?
- Permit clergy to marry and then only married clergy can be marriage tribunal judges. (By the way, with women's increasing earning power, this might save the church a bundle. Wife makes more than priest spouse...they are devout...priest doesn't take a salary from the church...doesn't need healthcare benefits...they can pay their own housing and food bills...priest car allowance not needed...auto insurance paid by wife's income, etc.... The exact opposite situation for going to strict unmarried clergy now exists. Originally the move occurred to protect church property from being divided amongst priests' heirs. Now, women can actually relieve the church's material requirements for supporting priests.)
- How about shortening the application form to one page? I’d even be happy with a reduction to 5 pages. How about putting the form online and allowing it to be submitted electronically with automated workflow and cognitive analytics that provide the recommended ruling? Thus the judge only needs to review the recommended ruling and justification – tremendously expediting the process and introducing a high degree of ruling consistency.
- Fees? Eliminate them completely, even the “administrative” ones.