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A Pope That a UU Can Love (mostly), Part Duo: The Church

Uploaded: Dec 12, 2013
This will be the second of three installments on Time's Person of the Year, specifically his EVANGELII GAUDIUM, a principles roadmap to guide his papacy. The first column described broad themes; this one focuses more narrowly on his Church – both internally and in the world.

Speaking to his flock as Catholic Church leader, he wants to transform their relationship to the institution. He sets up a series of contrasts: affiliation as a source of freedom, not servitude; confession not as a torture chamber but an experience of God's forgiveness; the Eucharist not a prize for the perfect, but a medicine to nourish the weak; and church as a place of celebration for all, rather than a tollbooth on the road to salvation. He wants an inclusive institution – a place of open doors. "'Mere administration'" can no longer be enough," he writes, quoting his Latin American colleagues. "Throughout the world, let us be "'permanently in a state of mission.'" (23)

Consistent with his decentralization theme, he also wants a Church that inculcates introspection and self-critique as a basis for constant renewal. "This is the source of the Church's heroic and impatient struggle for renewal: the struggle to correct those flaws introduced by her members, which her own self-examination, mirroring her exemplar Christ, points out to her and condemns." (25)

Francis also counsels his priests specifically on their sermonizing. Responding to the run of routine clerical messages he deems too doctrinaire, he wants his pastors to emphasize his themes in their homilies: charity over temperance, and grace over rules. He wants them to celebrate successes, and to preach Love, and joy, in service to humankind. He and his cardinals must do likewise, he says, and be open to the implications of this new openness.

The new Pontiff also signals incremental openness to an expanded role for the women of the Church, although here he stops far short of transformation. In a cringeworthy description of the unique attributes of women as a stereotype, he "acknowledges the indispensable contribution which women make to society through the sensitivity, intuition and other distinctive skill sets which they, more than men, tend to possess." (81) While calling for the "inclusion of their genius in all expressions in the life of society," and expressing that "men and women are equal in dignity," he applies the brakes to any fundamental equality in their roles as Church officers:

"Legitimate rights [of women present the Church with profound and challenging questions that cannot be lightly evaded. The reservation of the priesthood to males, as a sign of Christ the spouse who gives himself in the Eucharist, is not a question open to discussion …" (83)

That's progress, I suppose, and it may signal an end to the institutional persecution of the 'nuns on the bus,' but it stops far short of consistency with the stated principle of equal dignity. Francis may be an incrementally more modern male than his predecessors, but as to gender issues, his Church will vary its course only by degrees.

Still more troubling is his failure to meaningfully address the worldwide child abuse scandal at the hands of pedophile priests. An entire sub-chapter is devoted to "Temptations Faced by Pastoral Workers," but never does he name that scandal, or promise to reform the Church's disgraceful approach that has been consistently secretive – protecting the guilty to tragic consequences among the innocents.

The closest he comes is an acknowledgement of the "shame we feel at the sins of some members of the Church, and at our own" (63), as a dependent clause in a passage about how much good the Church does. There is also an oblique promise to "create spaces where pastoral workers can be helped and healed…" (63), but that's it, including no specific reference to criminality, or to comfort for the many victims of clergy sex abuse. That's hugely disappointing – seeming to wash his hands of an issue that continues to cripple his church as a moral exemplar, and failing at the deep introspection he calls-for elsewhere. Is there really Any internal issue more important than that?
__

Turning the focus to the Church in the external world, as part of his Integration theme, Francis proclaims that the Catholic Church must be present in the social dialogue. He specifically identifies The Poor (next installment) and Peace as issues appropriate to religious concern. Peace, he states, is not the result of any balances of power, but a matter of integration – the knitting of its peoples into an interdependent web (a very UU concept!). He posits four great principles to guide his church's contributions to the dialogue.

First, Time over Space. "This principle allows us to work slowly but surely, without being obsessed with immediate results. It helps us patiently endure difficulties … and accept the tension between fullness and limitation." (171) It focuses effort on initiating processes and celebrating progress toward the bearing of fruit, rather than the fruit (or space) itself.

Next, Unity over Conflict. Conflict must be faced, without becoming trapped in it. "… it becomes possible to build communion amid disagreement, but this can only be achieved by those great persons who are willing to go beyond the surface of the conflict and to see others in their deepest dignity." (173) Reconciliation (as the events of this week remind us) is greater than mere compromise, and necessary to the unity that inspires progress. Amen. Are you listening there in the capitol?

Third, Reality over Ideas. There's a constant dialogue between the two concepts – the ideal and the possible. He favors the latter: "This calls for rejecting the various means of masking reality: angelic forms of purity, dictatorships of relativism, empty rhetoric, objectives more ideal than real, brands of ahistorical fundamentalism, ethical systems bereft of kindness, intellectual discourse bereft of wisdom." (175) If the perfect is the enemy of the good, this Pope will go for the good, every time.

Finally, the Whole over the Part. This concept seeks to balance the global with the local – global principles, expressed locally, and daily. Small actions, consistently taken, have a greater than additive effect in improving the world's condition for all its citizens.

In summary, Francis wants his Church to play a much more central, integrative role in the narrow individual lives of parishioners, and in the broadest sense in cultural life of the world. I do not see him as a reformer intent on scrubbing clean the darker corners of his institution, but as a "servant leader," exhorting his church to follow his example and reach out to engage with the temporal world, relieving its suffering, especially for its most downtrodden denizens. In that sense, he's quite consistent – opting for the Good, but not Perfect.
___

Coda: one heartening, if brief, passage for animal advocates that I've never seen expressed (except by me) – that doesn't fit anywhere else in this series. Francis, much more than his namesake, sees a solemn duty in humankind's dominion over the planet and All its inhabitants.

"There are other beings who are frequently at the mercy of economic interests or indiscriminate exploitation. I am speaking of creation as a whole. We human beings are not only the beneficiaries, but also the stewards of other creatures. …. All of us, as Christians, are called-upon to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live, and all its 'peoples.'" (167-8)
___

Next/last: The Pope and unfettered Capitalism, an expression of Liberation Theology.

Comments

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 12, 2013 at 1:58 pm

Pope Francis continues to deny the horrific reality of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy worldwide.

Tens of thousands of children/vulnerable adults have had their lives destroyed by Catholic priests and nuns. Every penny in the Sunday basket supports Catholic crimes against humanity.

President Obama, elected state and national legislators are only minimally concerned about clergy sexual predators of any faith. That is the reality.

My suggestions is that parents never allow your children/teens to be in the presence of any clergy without a trusted adult present. In my opinion, clergy of any faith cannot be trusted.

I appreciate any attention to the reality of child abuse by trusted clergy.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 12, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Taoiseach Enda Kenny: Web Link

The Taoiseach is my kinda HERO! A GREAT LEADER! American has much to learn from the Taoiseach! VIVA ENDA KENNY! VIVA!

My ears almost flew off my head when I heard this speech.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 8:16 am

Some further sources:

Time PoY cover story: Web Link

Catholic Conservative backlash: This Pope We Do Not Like (10/9/2013) "His interviews and his gestures are a collection of moral and religious relativism, the attention of the media circuit-ecclesial goes to the person of Bergoglio and not to Peter. The past is overthrown…" Web Link

Pope appoints panel on sex abuse issue, (12/06/2013: Web Link


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

Tom continues babbling about religious nonsense.

I've never understood how rational people could believe God wants them to follow an organization that used to burn people at the stake as recently as the 1820's.

Tom is willing to gloss over the church's tolerance of pedophilia, sexism, homophobia, etc., because Pope Francis advocates for wealth redistribution. That's Tom's real passion. We can look forward to hearing about that in Tom's sermon next week, no doubt.


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 9:24 am

S-P: Four swings at the caddie, none at the hole, one whiff at the target-rich clubhouse and a pre-emptive shot into the woods -- that's about par for your trolf course. Web Link


Posted by spcwt, a resident of Danville,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 10:19 am

You're the caddie alright. But this is my golf game. Web Link


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 10:26 am

The American Conservative: Web Link

I have no faith that any of the Catholic leadership appointed by Pope Francis will do anything to identify priest/nun perpetrators of sexual abuse. All are known for concealing information that could lead to the public identification of hidden pedophiles. Catholic leadership has extensive information re: names of priest/nun offenders, where they live, and detailed records of their illegal activities.

I've worked for many years tracking down photos of known pedophiles. The RCC has NEVER been cooperative in providing photos of the perps, where they live, or how many crimes they have committed. I track down difficult to locate photos and they are posted online.

Every member of the panel that Pope Francis has appointed is known to resist any effort to hold the perps accountable for their crimes against humanity. In fact, many have been reassigned to unknowing parishes and the perps continue to re-offend multiple times.

In my opinion, it's time that the RCC's army of offenders be publicly identified, arrested, and put on trial. Unless each and every one of them is given a public trial, absolutely nothing will change.

There are qualities that I admire re: Pope Francis but to ignore the pleas of families whose children who have been raped/murdered by priests/nuns, thousands upon thousands of innocent children and vulnerable adults will continue to be victimized.

TRAGIC.




Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 10:49 am

Burning people at the stake? The KKK is known for crimes against humanity and not much has ever happened to hold them accountable.

Millions upon millions upon millions of Native Americans were murdered with government approval and not many responsible Americans have done anything about it.

Racism has also resulted in the deaths of multiple Americans and little has been done re: reparations.

The hate filled comments on this blog re: union workers and the race/class concerns that have been voiced are so toxic and full of hate.

duh...




Posted by Obiedient American, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 11:18 am

I thank Cholo for that WebLink. Why are the abusers still being protected? In addition, as a former Grand Juror, I do not understand why the District Attorneys in every county in California and our other 49 states have not indicted and prosecuted these abusers in our judicial system. Exercise search warrants! Any citizen or resident in our United States is suppose to obey our laws. Any citizen or resident who violates our laws must go through our judicial system !! Period !! All DAs need to be ask why they have not done their jobs, and be punished or discharged for not doing their jobs.. Why? I cannot understand them not arresting the perverts. These guys are just hiding out...in the open! Outrageous! NO, not one church, cult, or organization of ANY kind in this country, is exempt from the laws in our country ! Period. Period. Justice is NOT blind. That any person of law would just unilaterally decide to ignore our laws is violating their oath to uphold.
Catholic leaders got away with crimes during the \'Inquisition\', but those days are over. We are a country of laws.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 11:59 am

Rape Victims of the Catholic Church SPEAK OUT:

Web Link

Can anybody please explain why Cardinal O'Malley of Boston has been assigned by Pope Francis to a panel that is intended to protect children? He has played a major role in the cover-up. It's more of the same.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 12:17 pm

New York Times 12.13.13: Web Link

CHILDREN YES! PEDOPHILES NOT!

KEEP IN MIND THAT NUNS ALSO SEXUALLY ABUSE BOYS AND GIRLS.

gotta walk my dogs...HOORAY!


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of Alamo,
on Dec 13, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Okay Cholo -- I need to put you a ration program: you get two more on this thread, and up to five (no carryover) for future threads. Any more than that, and I will feel free to delete them without regard to content. Okay?

Choose well. :-)


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 14, 2013 at 6:37 pm

I can't resist taking a shot. There is no humility in the RCC, check out former monk/priest Richard Sipe's web page: Web Link If you want to talk to Richard, you gotta be a serious person like me and he will respond. He will always know the jokers and totally ignore you so be serious.

Cardinal Raymond Burke takes the cake! This boy has so many fancy threads in his closet that he can hardly breathe under the weight of the crown jewels. Burke is waaaaaaay wrapped in G_d, glory, and fancy tippy toes silk slippers. He can really strut and prance about town which he LOVES to do! He has no mercy. yup...prances around in gold tipped shoes!

The other GOON is from Germany and he spent millions and millions and millions and million and more multi-millions to build himself a compound and was recently asked by Pope Francis to hide out in a monastery until the fuss blows over...a nasty nasty nasty pathetic creature.

The former NAZI Pope Benedict didn't give a damn about poor people, the disabled, women, and ate porkchops 'n raisins at least 20 times monthly! He was fed all the pork he could stomach and more.

I never recall ever hearing Benedict expressing any concern for animals, raisins, and if all American pray hard for him, he'll completely fade away!

i rest my case...i don't hold a grudge, that's the kinda person i am...

signed,

Cholo Pololo Mololo
Commentator











Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Dec 14, 2013 at 6:43 pm

$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ LOST in GERMANY: Web Link

You eyeballs are gonna pop out of your head...just found the story about the jack-ass from Germany!

B U S T E D!


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