Sunday, 7 November 2010

The "Dumbing Down" of the Roman Catholic Church

More people need to hear this as far as I'm concerned. Robert Caruso is priest of the Old Catholic Church in America.

The "Dumbing Down" of the Roman Catholic Church


The Roman Catholic Church has always been controversial on social issues. In recent years the Roman leadership has spiraled further and further into a more aggressive absolutist, monarchical and judgmental kind of leadership that distinctly and genuinely has embraced a power that is neither pastoral nor loving.

Minnesota's Roman Catholic Archbishop Neinstedt has singled out a persecuted minority group to demonize and bully. As a gay man in a relationship for close to 14 years, and as an ordained Old Catholic priest, I feel compelled to say something for the sake of the Catholic Church and the GLBT community here in the Twin Cities. Let me be clear that I love the Church and believe that the Second Vatican Council was Spirit-driven in a most dynamic way. But I believe the Roman Catholic leadership in Minnesota has imposed extreme injustices on Catholic gay and lesbian persons as well as on progressive Catholics in general.

It is indeed dangerous for us to remain silent or wait for better days within the Catholic Church when such horrible psychological abuse is inflicted upon gay and lesbian persons who merely seek to fully live their lives in harmony and peace with others. It is no longer acceptable to be "bi-partisan" or "non-controversial" on this issue when such psychological abuse from Archbishop Neinstedt is apparent and unapologetic.

The conciliatory renewal that was to occur in the post-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church has gone stagnant. The pastoral constitution of "Gaudium et Spes" ("Joy and Hope") has all but been ignored by Pope Benedict and more locally by Archbishop Neinstedt. It is clear that the church's fidelity to persons having a God-given gift of freedom of conscience is a very scary idea for men like them because complex social moral issues such as same-sex marriage indeed require something more than calculated vagaries of fear and manipulation. Dialogue needs to happen, and this can only occur among persons with free consciences. Moreover, Vatican II explicitly proclaims that bishops are called to "direct the energies" of the church "towards its common good" in a manner that is pastoral in character and "not in a mechanical or despotic fashion." (GS, Ch. 4, sec. 74)

The recent political actions of Archbishop Neinstedt, the mailing of 400,000 DVDs in opposition to the civil rights movement of same-sex marriage, are grotesque, to say the least. Neinstedt's DVD message is but one example among others of what many Catholics and non-Catholics believe is the systematic "dumbing down" of the Roman Catholic Church. The message contained in the DVD never once spoke about the actual teachings of the Roman Magesterium concerning same-sex marriage. This DVD was neither theological nor intelligent, but deceptively political in singling out gay and lesbian persons.

I will no longer participate in the "dumbing down" of the Catholic Church I grew up with and love. We are the church of Ireaneus, Tertullian and Gregory of Nyssa; we are a church that cherishes a pastorally reasonable and coherent tradition! We are a Christian tradition that is comprised primarily of eucharistic table communities where worship reminds us that we live in an ordered creation that moves Christians to love in generosity and nonviolence. The Roman Catholic leadership has clearly ostracized Catholic gay and lesbian persons from the eucharistic table! It is time to celebrate our Catholic faith apart from the Roman Catholic leadership—it is time for us progressive Catholics to form eucharistic table communities as a "counterstructure" from the Roman leadership.

The spirit of Vatican II is not dead, but alive in those of us who seek to fully live our lives as the People of God, regardless of sexual orientation.

That is to say, the spirit of Vatican II continues to move beyond the denominational borders of Roman Catholicism! Our hope, our joy is our coming together as a eucharistic community where the tradition of the church is not "dumbed down," but enriched and transformed in the communion of the Spirit!

Fr. Bob is pastor of Cornerstone Old Catholic Community of the Twin Cities.


Anonymous said...

you are niether a Catholic nor a priest but you sound like you would be a great member of the E.L.C.A. ,so please go there and make yourself useful.The gay/liberal catch phrases are so thick in your whiney article how can anybody take you seriously? The "spirit" of VII,the "horrible psycholigical abuse" inflicted upon gay/lesbian persons..please.Catholic "community"???? you can't even say the word Church.Maybe it has some evil,fill-in-the-blank-phobic,unwelcoming...blah,blah,blah conotation that gives you the creeps.Or by using the word "community" you thing everone is on board with your disobedience.I've reached a point where I would ask any dissenting Catholics to please leave,I would rather have a smaller Church that follows the truth than one full of people trying to destroy it from the inside.And here's a real shocker for you and your liberal/anti-hierarchal Bishop/Pope haters....THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS NOT A DEMOCRACY!!!! YOU CAN NOT CHANGE HER!!! YOU DON'T GET A VOTE!!! is that dumbed-down enough for you? Please leave and be a good protestant.

Contemplative Catholic said...

not a democracy eh ? What about the sensus fidelium ? Your charity and fraternal love is impressive !

Anonymous said...

typical liberal,"sensus" how you feel seems to be more important than the truth.Keeping your vow of obedience is impressive too by the way.Sensus fidelium is something the hierarchy can consider when making changes to canon law but that's all.So yes the Church is not a democracy,there are no votes cast by the layity.Why do you stay in the Church if you disagree so much with it? Or are you a follower of Joan Chittister(won't call her sister) when she was asked this same question after ripping on her(the Church) Joan said she stays in it to change it.She can't,you can't.It is unfortunately a love it or leave it relationship.Look,I'm in the same canoe as you in many ways.I'm a single man and I must remain chaste.I've had to change my thoughts on some social issues since I came into full communion with the Church that I'm not happy about but I'm obedient.As soon as I find myself as unhappy as you about the Church teachings I will leave Her.

Contemplative Catholic said...

Have you read the Acts of the Apostles and the letters of Paul. You could hardly describe the picture of 'church' found in them as lovey dovey ! They disgreed on almost everything. As I recall it was us lay plebs who influenced the arian controversy in the 4thC and how about the church's acceptance and promotion of slavery, blacks only churches etc They were considered 'right' in their day and those prophetic voices that were heard then proclaiming the gospel reality once more pointed to truth that was being 'hidden' by the church. Even though slavery seemed to be sanctioned by scripture. Are not the same voices today raising gblt issues not those same prohetic voices ? The church has changed in the past and can be changed and should be changed. Erasmus has the last word for me . . . "Thus I put up with this Church, until I see a better one; and she is forced to put up with me, until I myself become better."