Sunday, March 30, 2008

Family a Starting Point for Christian-Muslim-Jewish Dialogue

As reported by Catholic News Service, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah Aziz believes there can be fruitful inter-religious dialogue between Christians, Muslims, and Jews. It is not often that one hears a Middle East leader speak of inter-religious dialogue between Muslims and Jews.

King Abdullah believes that the logical starting point for such a dialogue would be around such issues as family, morality, and the importance of religion.

The idea of such a dialogue is both welcome and haunting. It is welcome because it is truly wonderful to hear the word dialogue seriously used by a Middle East leader. It is haunting because the family values shared by the type of Jews, Christians, and Muslims that would come to that discussion table is not the idea of family that I believe to be fruitful or realistic. I think such an idea of family is not helpful and will only create a religious dialogue on a house of cards that cannot stand.

On the other hand, even if the house of cards would fall, the friendships that would be formed during the dialogue could contribute to a lasting peace in the Middle East and lay a fertile ground for an example of peace-making for the rest of the world. This is beside the fact that the Saudi Arabia government is renowned for some of the worst human rights abuses in the world. But then again, this could be an impetus for change. Godspeed.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, March 24, 2008

Easter Should be a Time for "Something New"

In 2004, Bryan Massingale, a priest for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee gave his "See, I Am Doing Something New: Prophetic Ministry for a Church in Transition" speech at the annual Spring Priest Assembly. His words are needed as much, if not more, today as they were needed four years ago.

Citing Walter Brueggemann, Massingale states that "the biblical prophets have a twofold task: first, in light of God’s word, to express the people’s deepest hopes and lead them to embrace God’s promise of new life." His speech then breaks into two parts: "I have heard the groans of my people..." and "I am doing something NEW..."

In the first section Massingale spoke of the "community's groans and giving it a voice." Priests have become "older, grayer and fewer." Many are sick mentally and/or physically. A sign that "all is not well." There is also "a desire for an honest discussion of the human sexuality of priests."

Among bishops, many "fear that they are becoming a little more than 'liturgical police' enforcing laws that they did not write, were not consulted about, and really do not agree with." Among the laity there are groans for "relevant homilies" and "collaborative relationships with priests and bishops." Because of these groans and many others, the prophets states that: "These things must end!" or "to put it bluntly, a particular way of being 'Church' is dying." The "all-male, mostly celibate priesthood" is declining, we're moving from a European church to a global church, there's a shift to female equality, there's been an increase in lay participation, and a rise in "Bible-based worship" among many other things.

In part 2, I am doing something NEW...

There two "dangers" or "temptations" that arise in "times of transition:" 1) "nastalgia" for the past or 2) "despair" for the future. Then Massingale comes to some very important sentences: "Brueggemann maintains that among the ways that the prophets pierced the veil of the community’s numbing despair and energized it with new hope was by offering symbols and images that nourished an alternative vision. In that spirit, I want to offer an image that speaks to me of hopeful endings and new beginnings: the image of hospice. I want to suggest that prophetic ministry today requires a “hospice” mind set and approach to priestly ministry. I believe that priests today are called to be hospice ministers for the Church. Hospices prepare people to face endings that are unthinkable yet inevitable . . . and thus also prepare people for new beginnings that are unwanted yet full of life."

"God will work a miracle, but not the one that we expect. I’m not entirely sure what this means concretely for the Church.... a hospice approach to priesthood means that we must help facilitate honest conversations of sadness, hurt, anger and even rage, for these are some of the inevitable and essential reactions to any transition or loss. A hospice consciousness requires that we recognize that not everyone in the Church will be on the same page in dealing with the stress of transition."

Massingale closes by saying: "The prophetic vocation is to help the community to accept a loss they cannot admit and to embrace a hope they cannot dare to believe. Prophets do this by attending to the present groans of the people and positing an alternative future vision. This, I believe, is the essence of being a spiritual leader in the Church during this time of transition."

Happy Easter from a Faithful Catholic

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Happy Easter!!!

May everyone who reads this have a happy and blessed Easter!!!

A Faithful Catholic

Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Apology to Bishop Callahan

In discovering that my last entry was incorrect, I sent the following e-mail to Bishop Callahan. I am choosing to leave my prior post up as a reminder to myself and others that I can make huge mistakes. This will be of no surprise to some of you.

Dear Bishop Callahan,

Perhaps you have heard about my egregious blog entry concerning you and extraordinary communion ministers for confirmation services ( I must sincerely apologize to you for this post on my blog. After talking to someone this past weekend, I thought that what I posted on my blog was correct, but I have discovered this was definitely not the case.

Dean Daniels, with Christian charity, pointed this out to me. I then revisited the person I had conversed with and discovered there had been a miscommunication, which is most definitely my fault. For even if this person misspoke, I should be much more careful before putting such an entry on my blog. So once again, I am very sorry.

I do not expect a reply from you, but hope that you can find it in your heart to not think ill of me.

In true embarrassment,

A Faithful Catholic

P.S. I refer to myself as a faithful catholic, but after this incident I feel much less faithful.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

An Idiotic Post From Myself*

*The following post is incorrect and totally wrong. It is only being left up as a reminder that to me that this blog and myself are far from perfect. As my above entry states, I am very sorry to Bishop Callahan for the content of this blog entry and for any person I may have misled to think that it was true. It's is utterly false and represents the nonsense that I sometimes type. The original factually incorrect text is as follows:

Milwaukee Auxiliary Bishop Callahan has made it known that he does not want extraordinary Eucharistic ministers at any confirmation ceremonies at which he is presiding. That's special church talk to say that he does not want lay people distributing communion. At each church at which he is performing the confirmations, he is requiring the host church to make sure there are enough priests present (otherwise known as ordinary ministers) so that only priests will be distributing communion.

This is a great insight into the theology of Bishop Callahan. The ordained are there to give... and the lay people are there to receive. This follows the "Theology of the Body" model laid down by John Paul II: men have a penis and hence are the active givers (like priests), women have a vagina and hence are the receptive passive receivers (like lay people).

Though I must admit that after listening to one of Bishop Callahan's homilies on the Archdiocesan website, I think he has theological and intellectual depth, I find his theology of the laity to be distorted, hurtful, and a basic slap in the face that does not properly account for the priesthood of all believers.

A Faithful Catholic

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

John Paul II Mockumentary on PBS

There was a documentary about John Paul II on PBS Channel 36 tonight, "Pope John Paul II: A Saint for Our Times." I could only get through 40 minutes of it before turning it off because it was complete drivel. The documentary reminded the watcher over and over again how saints throughout history have had quirks, doubts about God, etc., but never is there a single question about any decision or belief of John Paul II. They only interviewed people that seemed to believe he was Christ walking on water. John Paul II was apparently perfect like the Blessed Mother that he adored. In the forty minutes that I forced myself to watch, I don't think they mentioned Jesus once. Perhaps it should have been renamed: "John Paul II & Mary: The Perfect Marriage for Mariologists."

It really appeared to a cheap ploy by PBS to garner some extra money from a group of conservative Catholics. After the first 20 minutes, they cut to their pledge drive person asking viewers to be dedicated to PBS like John Paul II was dedicated to a holy life or some trite thing like that. This was one of the worst things I've ever seen on PBS. All in all, a very poor night for television.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

"Who Are the Church?" Is More Important Than "What is Church?"

Earlier this afternoon, the 2008 Pere Marquette Lecture was held at Marquette University. The speaker this year was Rev. Joseph Komonchak, a professor of Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.

He made reference to "Responses to Some Questions Regarding Certain Aspects of the Doctrine on the Church" - the document released by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) last summer in which the CDF stated that only the Catholic Church may be properly called church (see prior post).

Komonchak stated that this CDF document was based on an inadequate interpretation of the Vatican II document, Lumen Gentium 8, which states: "The Church of Christ... subsists in the Catholic Church." There are two complementary meanings in this phrase. The first is that the fullness of salvation is found in the Catholic Church as it is in no other church. Komonchak gave such examples as the unitive ministry of the pope, the sacraments, and the extra books found in the Catholic Bible to illustrate the greater variety of instruments available within the Catholic Church for salvation. The CDF document appears to pay attention to only this meaning of the Lumen Gentium 8.

The second meaning of "subsists in the Catholic Church," as the doctrinal commission explained to the Vatican II fathers who were voting on this document, is that "ecclesial elements of church can be found elsewhere" outside the confines of the Catholic Church. This is why Lumen Gentium 8 did not read "The Church of Christ... is the Catholic Church," but had been changed to "subsists in."

Komonchak finds the more important question to be: "In whom is the Church?" In whom is the faith, hope, charity of Christ most realized? In 1950 Alabama, that may not be the segregationist Catholic Church, but the integrated Reformed Church down the road. He cited similar statements regarding the greater importance of "Who are the Church?" from Ratzinger, Augustine, Aquinas, and Unitatis Redintegratio, the Vatican II Decree on Ecuminism. It was very good lecture.

A Faithful Catholic

Saturday, March 1, 2008

The New Donatists of the CDF

The Donatists in the time of Augustine created a stir by stating that sacraments performed by priests who had renounced the faith in time of persecution were not valid. As such, the "un-baptized" person, if they had received the sacraments of confirmation, marriage, or ordination, had not really received those sacraments either. They only thought they had.

A statement released yesterday from Vatican Information Services states that anyone baptized using the formula " I baptized you in the name of the Creator, and of the Redeemer, and of the Sanctifier," or "I baptize you in the name of the Creator, and of the Liberator, and of the Sustainer," has not only not been baptized, but in Donatist-style, has not received those other sacraments either.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated that the other formulae are not properly Trinitarian and do not "obey Jesus' command as it appears at the end of the Gospel of St. Matthew." These arguments are quite weak. First, within Scripture we find innumerable names given to the persons of the Trinity. Does that mean those names are inadequate not only for baptism, but for using at anytime? In addition, God's infinite nature makes any naming of the Trinity grossly inadequate. Second, no serious scripture scholar really believes that Jesus literally commanded his disciples to baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Jesus' followers discerned this after the resurrection, just as some of the today's priests and religious groups has discerned a different Trinitarian formula in which to baptize.

The US Bishops' Secretariat of Doctrine, Fr. Tom Weinandy, stated that unless there is a witness who is sure that the non-standard formula was used, "it is assumed they used the right formula."
Sounds like the US Bishops are trying to make some wiggle room of their own because of the possible blowback from the CDF telling people their baptisms and marriages are invalid.

A Faithful Catholic