Friday, 28 Dec 2007
beg of you, my brother bishops, let us avoid a new
I've been torn this morning between three subjects on which to prepare a lead commentary today. Firstly there has been the overnight news of the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan. Secondly I've been thinking of re-visiting Vince Exley's recent introduction to the spiritual insights of Eckhart Tolle as I began reading his book"The Power of the Now" for myself yesterday. Thirdly though there was a post on the CathNews Discussion Board overnight by Clare which quotes a conservative American priest, Joe Horn (See http://holyjoe.org/homilies/homily15.htm), commenting on an American survey of attitudes of Catholics towards Church teachings. Here's the body of Clare's post…
You want proof? Here's proof. The Orange County Register ran an article entitled, "Religion Watch: How Catholics Feel About Being Catholic." They asked a bunch of Catholics whether or not they agreed with various Catholic teachings. The tallied results of this survey are stupefying. They asked whether a Catholic can never go to confession and still be a good Catholic, and 66% said Yes.
the Church wrong about abortion? 58% said Yes.
When asked whether they believe sexual abuse of young people by priests to be isolated incidents or widespread, the majority replied: Widespread.
Think that's depressing? Here's the coup de grâce. When asked whether they follow the Pope on difficult moral issues, or if they follow their own feelings instead, 16% said that they follow the Pope, leaving 84% of all American Roman Catholics following their own feelings! We are sheep who have abandoned our shepherd, each going his own way!
Link to Clare's post: http://members4.boardhost.com/cathtelecom/msg/1198762900.html
Over the last couple of days I've been involved in a couple of in-depth discussions about the sorry state institutional Catholicism is in and during the course of those conversations we re-watched the short excerpt from Edward Stourton's documentary "Absolute Truth" which I drew attention to on Catholica this time last year.
In the end I've decided to draw attention to Edward Stourton's documentary again as today's lead commentary. Before doing that though I would like to link this to the two other topics I was considering making the focus of this lead commentary. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto firstly is a reminder that when push comes to shove, religious and political extremists will stop at nothing when they perceive their neat little world of simplistic solutions is under threat.
Eckhart Tolle's book, on the other hand is to me symbolic of countering trend in another sector of society which seeks a more rational response embedded from within a deep spiritual insight. It stands in contrast to both the disturbing developments with the Islamic world as much as it does against the drive towards fundamentalism in Christianity and Catholicism. I'd like to encourage further discussion about that in ur forum in coming weeks.
For the moment though I would urge all readers of Catholica to firstly take on board the statistics revealed in the homily by Fr Joe Horn quoted by Clare on the CathNews board. It's probably even worth going and reading the full text of Fr Joe's homily (See http://holyjoe.org/homilies/homily15.htm). I then urge you to go back and have another look at the BBC documentary by Edward Stourton — and I particularly recommend you watch the video rather than read the alternative text that is provided. The video had a different level of power when you hear the participants voicing their opinions directly to camera. In particular I urge special attention be paid to the testimony of Patty Crowley and John Marshall both lay members of Paul VI's commission on birth control. I also urge special attention be paid to the observations by Cardinal Basil Hume and Archbishop Denis Hurley which occur at the conclusion of the video excerpt.
To me perhaps the most telling comment in the entire video segment occurs at around the nine and a half minute mark in this short observation by journalist Robert Blair Kaiser: "After the Papal Birth Control Commission submitted its report then the politics began. Then the minority within the Papal Birth Control Commission went to the Pope privately and said to him 'you can't change the teaching on birth control. What will happen to all those people we have condemned to Hell for practising contraception. You'll lose your moral authority.'"
Ladies and Gentlemen, I ask you seriously, when you read statistics like the one's we read so often today in the Western world how much moral authority does the Catholic have left today? Perhaps the greatest tragedy of all, as the statistics quoted by Clare illustrate so poignantly, the loss of moral authority today extends way, way beyond the relatively simple matter of birth control.
The Robert Blair Kaiser comment does not occur in the written excerpt from Chapter 4 of Stourton's book. On the other hand this comment is worth taking on board from the written text which isn't included in the video:
Inevitably, the issue of contraception was raised, even though it was an issue the Pope had reserved for his own judgement and the consideration of his commission. It prompted one of the most famous interventions of Vatican II, a passionate plea for the possibility of change from Cardinal Suenens. In a challenge to the understanding of sex that lay at the heart of the Church's position, he turned to the book of Genesis: "Hasn't there been too much emphasis," he asked, "on the passage 'Increase and multiply' and not enough on another phrase, which says, 'And they shall be one flesh'?" Before he sat down to prolonged applause, Cardinal Suenens gave special emphasis to this: "I beg of you, my brother bishops, let us avoid a new 'Galileo Affair'. One is enough for the Church."
Do we not today have a second Galileo-level crisis of credibility and moral authority? When will this crisis be addressed? When Hell freezes over? Or when we've had a few assassinations within the Catholic Church as well? Or when there's absolutely no one left in the pews except the 5% who believe they are the only ones with all the answers and a direct telephone conduit to God the Father himself? <Watch or read the excerpt from the Edward Stourton documentary> | <Text only version>
I end with especial best wishes for a great Christmas Day wherever you
happen to be ... in life or in our world!