Thursday, August 23, 2012

Dolan: Blessing but not Endorsing ... Yeah, right!

So I wake up this morning to the news that red-faced Cardinal (!) Dolan will bless a presidential candidate on the night of his acclamation as official candidate.  But that's not an endorsement...  the Cardinal's office assures us.

Look...  If Jesus had blessed a Roman emperor....  If Moses had blessed the Pharaoh...   Do I need to go on?

Did Dolan's mother never tell him:  Actions speak louder than words?

Did Dolan never consider the principle:  Lex orandi, lex credendi?

When it comes to ethics it is hugely important to make sure that one's actions do not even give a hint or a whiff of impropriety.

Ok, what's gonna be the result of this blessing genuflection?

I seriously doubt it will sway any worldly votes.  Though it may energize some Romney supporters.  On the other hand...  it is just one more nail in the lengthening list that should be nailed to the Vatican wall or hammered onto the Vatican's rusty coffin of misbehavior.

Are there no good men left?  Men, who are humble.  Men who avoid the limelight.  Men, who, upon being asked to bless a candidate - at a national convention - likely with TV cameras running... would say, without hesitation:  It would be inappropriate for me to give the appearance of endorsing... 

But no...  the good men are never asked!  Or if they are, they refrain so quietly we never even know about it.

So what's gonna be the result of this blessing?  A serious backfire.  More folks heading for the church doors.  A sense of something gone terribly wrong.

RCC to the faithful:  No pastoral care for thee.  Alliance with worldly power for me. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

God Bless you, SISTERS!

The Sisters have voted to continue their mission - to stand with the Laity and follow God's leading in their religious life.  We can do no less.  It behooves us all to seek - in our deepest depths - the call of God and its meaning for our lives. 

The sisters have concluded that their discussions with the bishops will not start with doctrine but with their understanding of religious life.  This, to me, means that their identities (hidden in God) are on the line.  And that their responses will be in line with their vows to God and their ongoing discerning of the "signs of the times" with regard to God's call.

I can do no more than to suggest for all of us what I suggested when I first learned of the Vatican's crackdown on the LCWR:  Where they go, we should go.

I urge all who read here to search your consciences and lend every possible support to the sisters.  They need our prayers.  They need a continuing groundswell of encouragement:  verbal; written; and financial.

In my view their response to the Vatican is prophetic.  It includes a concern for the laity and particularly for the role of women in the church.  I thank God for their witness and their leadership!

Glory to God!!!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Vatican vs LCWR: A Trinitarian Controversy?

I've been praying for the nuns.  And as I pray, I've been pondering how this current crisis is a clash of differing assumptive worlds.  Differing ways of living.  Of praying. 

We are led to question:   What is church?   How does one lead (or exercise authority)?  And at an even more basic level:  How does this relate to - even spring from - the Trinity?  Who is this God of Mystery whose Divine Life we are invited to share?  In whose image we are made.

It seems to me that the Vatican and the LCWR are literally working from different theologies.  And I think it boils down to the very basics of the Creed.  The nuns are working from one play-book.  The hierarchs from another.  In how decisions are made.  In how relationships are structured.   

Key here, I think, is the role of the Holy Spirit.  How the Spirit's procession is conceptualized.  How the Spirit's guidance is sought and implemented.

The Vatican uses a top-down process.  Guided by the assertion of infallibility.  And apparently by a view of God as someone who demands unquestioning submission to his agents in Rome.  Think back to the Roman Empire and it's dictatorial oppression of dissentThink back to Saul as a complicit bystander of the stoning of Steven, a disciple who saw heaven open as he was martyred.  Recall too how Jesus later asked Saul:  Why are you persecuting me? 

Somewhere along the way the Vatican took Imperial Rome as its Icon.  Rather than the We-Community of Triune Holy Mystery

The LCWR, on the other hand, uses a communal process of leadership and decision-making. Following the edicts of Vatican II, a council which took the Spirit as it's guide and model, the LCWR views each of its members as integral to communally discerning the Spirit's guidance.

So which group better images the We-Community of the Trinity?

This question leads us back centuries and centuries into the distant past.  To 325.  To conflicts over the Creed.  Conflicts, which, I now believe, have bearing on the nun crackdown of our day. 

As you may recall, the Council of Nicaea painstakingly hammered out a creed.  And one of the tenets of this Creed, a tenet still recited by the Eastern Church, relates to the procession of the Holy Spirit "from the Father."  Some time later, in the Iberian Peninsula, there arose a change in the creed, which later made its way to Rome - where it stands to this day.  The Roman version has the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son.

Now this may seem like a small thing.  But consider the image of the Trinity as described by Irenaeus (late second, early third century):  the Son and the Spirit as "the two hands of God."  That's a pretty understandable image.  Unless you recite the Roman version of the creed.  When the image of the "two hands of God" turns into an image of one hand... and then what?  I don't know about you but it's pretty hard for me to wrap my mind around an image of the Spirit (hand) as proceeding from both the Father and the Son (hand).  While it is so easy to take Irenaeus at his word, envisioning the Trinune God as Our Father extending to us his two hands. Directly!

Our Baptismal Calling is to participate in the Divine Life.  To be immersed in Holy Mystery.  Once christened other Christs, we are members of a Holy Priesthood - guided by the Holy Spirit.  It is our task to transfigure the world.

This is what the sisters are doing!  And what the Vatican seeks to undo!

And if you ponder the Mystery, it makes me wonder if the Holy Spirit is doing way more than animating the nuns to do good works.  Something much larger - which bears on our understanding of the Trinity may be at stake here.

I've merely sketched this out.  But you can do your own research.  And ponder this for yourself.   I hope you will!