Tom Poelker from St Louis, Missouri, sent in this commentary a few days ago that probably expresses the feelings of many elders who are attacted to Catholica. Around the other side of the world, we sit here pondering on the reflections sent to us and simply wonder if these hierarchs and prelates who have been responsible for pushing so many of the faithful away from the altar ever stop for a single micro-second and reflect on what sort of "reward" they are going to earn for this enormous emptying of the pews? One wonders how cock sure some people can be of their "eternal certitudes"?
The Church left Me!
by Tom Poelker
Instead of describing me as a lapsed Catholic, it would be more accurate to describe me as a Catholic abandoned by a lapsed institution. For me, the final blow was the nearly complete rejection of Sacrosanctum Consilium (SC) by the Roman Curia.
My dearest and lifelong interest in Catholicism continues to be its liturgical practices. I spent forty years promoting [and financed my own graduate degree to be accurate] in my promotion of liturgy as taught authoritatively by the highest teaching authority of Roman Catholicism — an ecumenical council in union with the pope. This was the work the Second Vatican Council fathers chose to put first, what they considered most important, but now it has been set aside except for out-of-context proof-texting.
Long before the recent Latinate translation was imposed on English speaking Catholics, it was obvious from the new General Instructions of the Roman Missal that the Curia was not interested in good liturgy but in distinguishing Catholicism from Protestantism. In addition the new instructions were patently clericalist, instead of being oriented to the call for "full, conscious and active participation" of all present, something the Council insisted upon fourteen times in SC. Finally, the new translations abandoned all the progress made in having common texts among liturgical Christians. Fifty years of Ecumenical work was destroyed in a single swipe.
A persistent pattern...
The Romans have shown a persistent pattern in this regard. When a Commission was ready to present a new approach to contraception, a commission selected and appointed by the pope to be his 'experts', the pope closed the Commission on the advice of the Roman Curia .
When the Biblical Commission, again selected and appointed by the pope to be his 'expert' advisors, prepared a draft that found no biblical basis for limiting ordination to males, again the pope dismissed them without officially receiving their report.
Later they did the same sort of thing to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy (ICEL). If the experts don't agree, the Curialists throw out the experts. They also throw out any pretense of respect for theologians. The Curia is very far from its hero Aquinas who taught that there are two magisteria: the bishops and the theologians.
This sort of intellectual dishonesty, this disrespect for learning, this rejection of expertise is disgusting to me. I learned how to think logically, philosophically, theologically in Roman Catholic seminaries. These were supposed to be the dependable bases of orthodox teaching. To have all that rejected by authoritarians, is to have them destroy the very basis of respect for their offices, because they have taken to acting like self-serving dictators, outside of theology, outside of the laws of logic, outside of science, self-perpetuating through selection of like minded rather than competent successors.
The Roman Curia has betrayed the people of God and done so out of self interest rather than out of any theological concerns. They are satisfying their own tastes and forcing that diet down the throats of the faithful instead of nurturing them.
Two kinds of authority...
The Curialists continue to undermine authority because they do not understand that there are two kinds of authority: that of jurisdiction on which they build pyramids of power-based decisions, and that of expertise from which comes through earned respect. The abuse of jurisdictional authority by rejecting outside expertise and actual evidence is a sure sign of dictatorship. The dictatorship serves itself and those who support it, not the populace.
I still believe in what the Church has taught, but I have been driven away by what the Curia has imposed after taking over and making meaningless the Synods of bishops. They have used their bureaucratic organization, and the desire of many bishops to avoid confrontation, to do exactly what the Council Fathers rejected, prepare bureaucratic null content documents and expect the bishops to rubber stamp them. I am totally at a loss to understand why bishops put up with this. At Vatican II, the Fathers brought their own experts, the periti including Ratzinger and Küng, and thought for themselves and had meaningful discussions instead of set piece adoption of bureaucratic documents.
Now the curial bureaucrats will not recognize any theological idea as valuable unless it supports their personal positions. They have ceased to be able to distinguish the doctrines of the faith from the disciplines of the institutions they want to preserve. That is why I say the Church has left me. I have not left it.
Tom Poelker. Submitted to Catholica 11 Oct 2012
What are your thoughts on this commentary?