Monday, September 28, 2009

Eucharist Needed in Times of Crisis

Some of the laity in Cleveland have organized because their bishop plans on closing or merging 50 parishes. The laity state that some of these parishes are vibrant and financially self-sufficient. What reason could exist for closing all those parishes except the priest shortage. Bishop Lennon, celebrating the last Mass at one of these parishes a few weeks ago had a police escort.

In Spain, a study by a newspaper there has determined that 20% of the country's priests are married or laicized. Many conservatives still contend that a married clergy (or women priests) would not solve the priest shortage problem. They say: Look at Protestant churches... This has got to be one of the few issues that conservatives think that we can learn something from Protestants. Although a married and female clergy may not "solve" the entire problem, it would help dramatically. In addition, for vibrant and financially stable parishes that still do not have a priest, a lay person should be appointed by the bishop to be able to celebrate Mass as an extraordinary celebrant until a priest is available. In emergency situations, we already allow lay persons to perform baptism, anointing of the sick, and reconciliation. Is not the closing or merging of 50 parishes an emergency? I'm pretty sure if you ask the parishes involved they will see it as an emergency. I also believe that sooner or later, what's happening in Cleveland will be happening here in Milwaukee.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 21, 2009

Benedict Puts Male Celibate "Priesthood" ahead of Eucharist

What is the most important sacrament in the Catholic Church? Benedict would seem to say "Ordination." Benedict met with the bishops from the poor and northeastern area of Brazil, which suffers horrifically from a priest shortage. He told them to hold fast in preventing the line between the laity and priesthood from being blurred. In many of the remote areas of Brazil, lay people have been trained to lead discussions of faith and scripture. The people of these areas are lucky if they see a priest every six weeks. As such, some of these communities also celebrate eucharist together. Benedict does not state this, but his reminder that the priest "is essential and irreplaceable in announcing the word and celebrating the sacraments" makes clear his two concerns. Perhaps this blurring would not be the case if the reins on ordination were not so restricted. And although I respect the amount of education that is normally required for priests, exceptions should be made in rural areas where people do not have academic training so that eucharist, reconciliation, anointing of the sick, and other "priestly" minstries can be readily available. In the mean time, how can we expect Catholics to go six weeks to six months at a time without Eucharist? Would we simply accept this situation of "no eucharist" in a place like Milwaukee? I do not think so.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Second Coming...

As a kid, I really thought that I would be around for the second coming of Christ. I took that teaching from Scripture very literally. While I would not rule out the second coming - I don't think it is meant to happen literally in this world. We are only meant to experience glances and tastes of the coming kingdom in this world. I think that the kingdom is only fully realized for each one of us after we die.

Following this train of thought to it natural conclusion, I do not buy into the communal resurrection of the dead at the end time either. If a communal resurrection does exist, we as Catholics have circumvented it anyway. How can we pray to the saints if they have not been resurrected yet... oh yeah, there is no time with God. Using that logic, Mother Theresa could have prayed to herself while she was still alive. It seems more likely to me that we simply go to heaven, hell, or purgatory immediately following our deaths. I am not going to bothering defining those realities in this short entry, because that is beyond anyone's competence.

A Faithful Catholic

Monday, September 7, 2009

Right to Unionize Often Denied by Conservatives

While all labor should be honored on Labor Day, unionized labor is particularly remembered. So many of the rights taken for granted by workers in the United States are thanks to labor - the 40 hour work week, child labor laws, higher wages, job security, etc.

Many conservatives in the Church whom I have talked to try to state that workers do not have a right to unionize. If they are a bit more educated, they will point out that Rerum Novarum in 1891 only supported "Catholic" worker associations. Although that is correct (Leo was averse to Communist controlled-unions), later popes and Vatican II saw there implicit support for labor unions in their modern form and explicitly stated so:

Mater et Magistra
22 ( by John XXIII): Pope Leo XIII also defended the worker's natural right to enter into association with his fellows. Such associations may consist either of workers alone or of workers and employers, and should be structured in a way best calculated to safeguard the workers' legitimate professional interest. And it is the natural right of the workers to work without hindrance, freely, and on their own initiative within these associations for the achievement of these ends.

Gaudium et Spes
68 (Vatican II document): Among the basic rights of the human person is to be numbered the right of freely founding unions for working people.

Laborem Exercens
20 (by John Paul II): All these rights, together with the need for the workers themselves to secure them, give rise to yet another right: the right of association, that is to form associations for the purpose of defending the vital interests of those employed in the various professions. These associations are called labour or trade unions.

Centesimus Annus
7 (by John Paul II): This means above all the right to establish professional associations of employers and workers, or of workers alone. Here we find the reason for the Church's defence and approval of the establishment of what are commonly called trade unions

With such a wealth of sources (and there are more) supporting unions as a basic and natural right, it is hard to beleive how any Catholic could deny that this is official Catholic teaching. Normally, when I meet a conservative Catholic of this persuasion, I do not have these references with me. Hopefully, this short reference list that I have compiled will be helpful in illustrating without a doubt the Catholic Church's support for unions.

A Faithful Catholic