Catholic Church Reform International is always on heels coordinating Church lay citizens from around the world and advancing towards a purpose to be set for the upcoming Family Synod in 2015. What is given below is a part of these online exchanges – Editor
That question you ask in an email to me, Larry, “if their minds are already made up and they’ve made it almost impossible to offer new ideas, what to do?” has, especially with regard to women in the Church, a several thousand year history. The answer of the disenfranchised throughout history used to be – use prudence to survive – but we’re evolving, right? We have evolved quietly under the surface but we have to bubble to the surface and SHOUT out our objections to the use of silencing of other voices a to preserve religious privilege. Prudence receding, feminist theologians and some equally silenced males ones have been re imaging Christian belief and giving cause for us to keep our faith for decades. We should proclaim their writings. Might is not right. Might has diminished under the slur of scandal. In the name of peace and justice, we have to keep on diminishing the might of the oligarchic leadership by providing more evidence of silencing as a form of scandal perpetrated against right-thinking Catholic theologians and prophetic religious minds. It may have been true that in the past the more you struggle the more the noose tightens but bullying is a recognised phenomenon. We know measures to combat it that define both aggressor and victim as participants. Maybe those measures, measures to combat bullying in playgrounds, schools and workplaces provide guidelines for what we should do. The insidious phrasing included in the Visitation report just handed down shows it is critical that precisely this issue is addressed. Unmasking official passive aggression is another contemporary topic that could help us express our cause. We need more subtle historic landmarks of expression than simply manning the barricades. I strongly support a website for ‘insiders’ to gather and give voice to the kinds of theology we do support, where it crosses existing boundaries stating why we contest the boundaries in Christ’s name. People have been doing this for decades, yes, so we need to gather it together as a religious movement. We have gathered people and groups, now, I think we need a gathered body of writings too. Otherwise, manning the barricades has been a revolutionary force used against clericalism in the past. A pity that so far we have been unable to raise sufficient numbers to be a significant popular uprising. Why this is so seems to be obtainable from survey development, with expert help we can pursue this avenue too. How do we bring about a vast popular uprising so that all the people of the Church who do not like to be bullied, say so? It is so important to build up momentum and create change in this historical moment offered to us.
What to do new is loudly reject aspects of Lineamenta for 2015 and reject relevant Papal encyclicals while pointing to better expressions of faith put forward by theologians we do support. Difficult to do while saying we still support Pope Francis but, as usual in peaceful resolution, ‘this’ and ‘that’ have to be considered. In some ways we do wish to preserve the Church, in some we do not, we prefer to promote what we believe is highly appropriate change for these reasons. We are still ‘insiders’, we would not be almost despairing if we were not.
So exasperated with the ‘same old, same old’, but we have to honour our faith and make its’ beauty live.
I'm struck by the earnestness of all these replies to Keith Brennan's question–do we want to be seen as insiders or outsiders? Everyone seems to want to be seen as BOTH, which of course we are IF we dare to dissent whenever the occasion calls for it–and, in the current Church climate, we could be challenging decisions made by our local bishops every hour on the hour, even an offhand remark by the pope himself. How we'd come across if we had a countering opinion every day (or even every hour on the hour)–well, then, I'd say even the friendliest bishop would would soon get tired of all the second-guessing. He would have to cry, "Can't we do anything right?" Our only honest answer to that question: "Given your clerical take on everything, developed over the course of centuries: probably not!"
So where does this leave us? I think we have to declare a truce in the cultural war, develop a new tolerance for one another, and moderate our need to get everyone in lockstep.
Robert Blair Kaiser
Like Bob Kaiser, I, too, am touched by your communications with one another and your exploring how we should proceed. The decisions ahead of us are not easy ones. You are a living example of our being the Church we want the universal Church to become.
I am grateful to have you all as such an intricate part of Catholic Church Reform Int’l and look forward to working together in the coming year.
With love and prayers for each of you at this blessed season,
I like what Bob says, and now try to inch forward a bit more. We are trying to be both IN and OUT at the same time. Again we run up against the paradox of using limited language – human words and ideas. Maybe we should not limit ourselves to being either “insiders” or “outsiders, but just seekers of truth. Let’s not lock ourselves into categories. Move cautiously, weighing both the full ideal picture and the problem of how our views will be taken or accepted. Obviously, we have do all prayerfully.
That much said, Let’s remember that the bishops do not constitute one united body, but a group of individuals who are each at a somewhat different place; some may be questioning and contemplating change and others may be determined to only “stay the course – they and Jesus must be in agreement.” (and now I speak as if they’re in two classes, again over simplifying!)
I think, Bob, you’re over-generalizing a bit when you suggest that even the friendliest bishops would conclude, “Can”t we do anything right?” and write us off…or that we have to conclude: “Probably not!” I’m a little afraid of backing off too much from disagreements and/or having too much fear of appearing in lock-step. Culture is such a multi-inclusive and mysterious term! But we do have to keep trying to be more all-inclusive and keep working to be more inclusive and open.
Hope I’ve added something useful and not just more confusion on the issue.
You were very insightful, Ed, I believe the fear that has bound the faithful to a state of total silence and blind obedience. The faithful, too, suffer from the same insidious problem and we must find a way to confront old fallacious belief systems in a meaningful way.
I hope everyone had a meaningful Christmas that allowed for a healthy balance between rest and celebration!
Changing ourselves to change the church