Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Laity ID for the RCC

You've heard of Voter ID?  It's a method of suppressing voting, through requiring prospective voters to get a special ID for that sole purpose.  I often think of old ladies in nursing homes.... who may have trouble renewing such an ID.  Let alone getting one in the first place.  Or finding it when it's needed!  But at least, theoretically, it may prevent the dead from voting.

But I digress...

The subject of this post came to me while reading how certain RC bishops are attempting to use disciplinary methods (and threats!), which I found demeaning and unworkable when teaching third and fourth graders.  These bishops belong to a religion, which also claims to be a state*.  They want freedom to practice their religion - and that they have!  They also want a tax-free status when they meddle in politics.  And they want to be free to flee to the foreign state rather than man-up when problems with the law arise.  Even if their very name is, well, Law.

But I digress...

This blog is either a prophecy or a parody.  Only time will tell.  But given that some RC bishops have started threatening (yet again!) to withhold the Eucharist from anyone they deem sinners, it's time to formalize this process.  In terms of some kind of, well, Law.  Some kind of Infallible Law, one would think.  Something with heft and authority.  With clear guidelines.  And teeth to it!

The Roman Catholic Church modeled itself on Roman Civil Law.  And you thought it was modeled on Jesus!  Roman Law was a different type of legal system than US law (which is based on English Law and uses the Common Law approach), where judicial decisions are based not just on legislation but on the precedent of previous authoritative writings and decisions (where two competing sides can battle things out in the Court of Law).  Roman Law, on the other hand, lays everything out.  There's no fudging.  There's no appeal.  It's a top-down process.  RCC (Canon) Law follows this top-down process and adds to it:  The so-called Infallibility Principle.  Where once the Pope says it's Law, it's said to be coming from the mouth of the Almighty.  (Actually, some critics call this "creeping infallibility" - and I'd agree it's pretty creepy!)

Now, to digress just once more...  If the Vatican had followed English Common Law, then likely the sayings of Jesus, for example, would have factored in to any decisions about Canon Law.  You get the idea!  But no...  common sense has no part in this!

So, here's the prophecy or the parody.  Here's where Rome is moving.  It's bound to happen!  Why, the Mormons already have a practice like it:  They call it "Temple Recommend."  It's done yearly.  It proves a Mormon is fit to enter the Mormon Temple and perform certain Mormon rituals there.  It's based on a certificate that proves you're a tithing, law abiding, upstanding, weekly-worshiping, family-centered, coffee and alcohol abstaining Mormon male.

Now, I can't predict what the Vatican would call this.  Canon Law Recommend?  RCC Laity ID?  Roman Catholic Supper Ticket?  Nor can I predict how and where and when the ID would be checked.  Communion Line?  Church Door?  A Card Reader at the Holy Water Font?  Nor how it would be stamped or processed.  Confession Room?  But it's coming!

I have a suspicion it will involve signing a form that basically signs away your freedom of conscience.  Something like agreeing that you will abide by all past, present, and future Infallible Pronouncements.  It attests, on pain of .... oh, dear God...  I hate to think!  Anyway... one has to swear allegiance to all sorts of doctrines (like the doctrine of marriage, the doctrine of sexual inhibitions, the doctrine of ... well, all sorts of doctrines that Common Sense - in the form of Jesus' sayings - never dealt with!). 

Like Voter ID laws which reduce voting, the Canon Law Recommend (Laity ID) would ensure a reduction in Communion Lines.  And other sacraments.   Fewer priests will be needed.  Or maybe it's best to admit that the current reduced number of priests will find it easier to minister to their approved flocks.  They might even know their names!  Possibly they would even know them so well that the ID process could be dispensed with for these known and approved souls (God help them!).  One line for Known Communicants.  Another for aliens, anyone whose presence is suspect!  Who would first have to prove their allegiance - through applying for or showing their ID.

And there you have it!  You heard it first here.


* Quoting myself ( In Betrayal... below):
The pope resides in Vatican City.  It's a tiny area the size of a neighborhood.  With churches, museums, seminaries and residences for those who live and work there.  Whether this neighborhood constitutes a "state" or "quasi state" has never exactly been settled.  And the Vatican seems to operate according to fuzzy logic, shape-shifting according to needs of the Papal Palace at any given point.  Indeed,  one wonders if the Roman Catholic edifice isn't perched precariously upon the same fuzzy logic, the shifting sands of casuistry and dogma and self-protection that it deems an unchanging, infallible rock.  Inside this tiny enclave the Pope is a virtual Dictator or Monarch.  Though the Vatican exchanges ambassadors with most nations, it actually only holds an "observer seat" at the UN.   Nonetheless it claims diplomatic immunity and privileges.  Even asserts mystifying rights, for example the right to secret church tribunals in lieu of open courts, an exalted position above the law, and the right to meddle in the internal affairs of nations, by virtue of its claim to heavenly wisdom and the divine right of popes to expound on that.  


William D. Lindsey said...

A Catholic version of a Temple Recommend: I love it, TheraP! And you're absolutely right: this is where the restorationist version of the Roman church seems to be heading. Whether it formalizes the practice or not . . . .

Tim said...

The whole idea of swearing allegiance to His Holiness and the Holy Church is actually very much part of Vatican I, especially the part where the oath comes before oaths to any other body.

The fact that Jack Kennedy was catholic was a huge thing because many people wondered if he would listen to the Vatican before the U.S.

Ever wonder why there's an American flag in the sanctuary and why disturbingly patriotic songs are/were sung? It's a holdover from WWII when the loyalty of Irish and Italian RC was called into question.

As to prophecy or parody, I would like to believe that it is the latter, but I am afraid it is the former.

TheraP said...

Bill, thanks for your comment. Your blog, of course, was the inspiration for this post!

Tim, I have never seen an American flag in an RC Church, chapel, monastery, you name it. I did once see one in an Episcopal church and I was frankly horrified! But thanks for that interesting historical info.

Swearing allegiance to the pope... and the church. Yes, I can certainly recall my grade school Catholic education. But now... as an older, more educated and thinking adult it seems to me to fly in the face of the First Commandment. But apparently these loyalty oaths are already being extracted from priests and bishops and cardinals. I read an Australian priest/scholar recently who seemed to be extremely troubled by this development.

Tim... your "avatar" reminds me so much of someone I knew elsewhere, someone I held in such high regard that I nicknamed him The Rebbe. You have inherited my affection for that reason. :) Your voice adds such a great addition to Bill's blog comments.

This prophecy vs parody thing. It reminds me of times when I hoped I was wrong about a dire diagnosis. But I usually wasn't! There are enough - craving "authority" - who are all too ready to take such oaths.

Thank you for your visit. And blessings upon your journey.

PrickliestPear said...

I'm not sure if that's a funny post or not. I'd like to think that that won't happen, but the way things are going...

Re: flags in churches: I saw an American flag in a Catholic church once, years ago. Somewhere in NY state, I think. I believe it was around July 4, so maybe it wasn't there all the time. But it left an impression, as it was my first time going to mass in the US, and I had never noticed a flag in a church before.

TheraP said...

Hello, Prickliest!

I think mostly very conservative Christian groups are the ones with the flags in churches. At times Patriotism here in the US of A has characteristics of a religion - and marries very well with extreme conservatives - something the current trad RCC seems married to here. You can see that in the meddling in African politics - anti-gay bigotry, for example, coming from US evangelicals.

As for humor, since this blog is Heresy and Humor I account for differing perspectives: Some may view as "humor" what others would view as "heresy". I'm ok with being called a heretic! In the service of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Thanks for taking time to comment. :-)

Thom, SFO said...

Love this. :)

TheraP said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it, Tom! :-)