Thursday, April 29, 2010

Richard Sipe Calls on Pope Benedict to Resign

 
I began today posting an excerpt from Richard Sipe's latest article at NCR, analyzing the roots of the abuse crisis.

And now as the day moves on, I have just read at Frank Douglas's Voice from the Desert blog that Richard Sipe has called on Pope Benedict to resign.  Voice from the Desert says that the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) newsletter published the following op-ed statement by Sipe today:

Pope Benedict XVI is a good man. He has served the Church long and well. It takes nothing away from his goodness to suggest that he should resign his office. Nine of his predecessors have resigned, most for the good of the Church. The clerical sex abuse crisis that now exposes a corrupt pattern and practice of a system has escaped and confused many good, brilliant people and left generations paralyzed. There is no need to point fingers.

However, the Roman Catholic Church is in a period of Reformation as profound (and breathtaking) as any its history has ever recorded. The voluntary resignation of Pope Benedict XVI would be a gesture that would match the epic challenge that faces Catholicism today. Such leadership would break the pattern and practice that holds the church hostage to a past that no longer serves the Christian message. The monarchy that rules the church has outlived its service in the evangelization of peoples, an evangelization that Paul the apostle taught and that Pope John Paul II championed. The People of God, hierarchy included, are shackled by a secret system designed to control rather than free them.

The problem is the system.  And it can be addressed only by systemic reform.  I agree with Sipe: that can begin only with substantive change at the center.  Benedict's resignation would be a significant step in the right direction, towards such substantive change.

Catholic Abuse Crisis, Argument and Counter-Argument: Weighing the Moral Norms



Since the conversation continues—and heatedly so, but with more heat than light ensuing—let’s try it from another angle.  I want to return now to an observation of Vincent Twomey’s to which I linked several days ago. 

Writing about the dynamic underlying the cover-up of clerical abuse by Catholic hierarchy, Twomey observes that the “real cause” of the cover-up—and Twomey finds this frightening—is “the lack of expected emotional response to reports about the abuse of children.”  As he notes, while Catholic officials have been quick to blame others for exposing the abuse and its cover-up, and have been quick to call for sympathy and understanding for clerics abusing children, nowhere has there been “any expression of horror or outrage by those who were told [about the abuse].”  And yet, in Twomey’s view, “Horror and outrage are the natural passions of the good person which God gave us to ensure that we get up and do something in the face of injustice done to others.”

Richard Sipe on Rigidity, Submission, and Psychosexual Immaturity as Precondition for Power in Catholic Clerical System



Richard Sipe writing at National Catholic Reporter about how the unholy trinity of lies, secrets, and power around which clericalism revolves fosters the abuse crisis, and would bring the walls of the church tumbling down if the lies were ever exposed, the secrets told, and the power effectively challenged:

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Jim Burroway on Arizona Anti-Immigrant Law: We Are All Mexicans




Jim Burroway at Box Turtle Bulletin has a very fine series of articles (here and here) about Arizona's new anti-immigrant law, entitled "We Are All Mexicans."  As he notes, 

For National Poetry Month: James Applewhite, "Good as Dad"



His name is always Don or Bo or Bud
Or Jesse.  He doesn't know Mozart from dog fart.
He refers to blacks as 'em.  "I seen three of 'em
In a big old Buick.  Perfume on 'em would knock you dead."
He's been known to hit his woman, some dumb
Lip she gave back after staying too late or smart
Answer instead of supper.  He can learn a dog
To mind real good with a stick and maybe birdshot
If the bitch runs off.  A boy, though, that's what
This rangy, soft-voiced man can teach to jog
Behind his strides, to love for the half-playful cuffs.

Aging and Learning: The Gift of Fallibility



I’ve noted recently on this blog that I’m growing older.  Just a little bit, maybe?  I’ve talked about turning 60 just a little bit perhaps.

I don’t mean to be obsessed with an experience that, after all, affects every one of us every time the clock ticks.  Still, I’m fascinated by some of the aspects of growing older about which I haven’t thought much in the past.  Because I wasn’t then where I am now, on the chronological scale of things . . . .

John McNeill on the Theology of Fallibility and Urgent Need for Catholic Reformation: Judaism and Christianity as Religions of the Collapsing Temple


 John McNeill continues to post provocative (and prophetic) theological statements on his new Spiritual Transformation blog.  The latest in his theology of fallibility series (about which I’ve blogged several times in the past) focuses on the urgent need to reform the Catholic church. 

John grounds his reflections in scripture—particularly in Ezekiel’s call to the Jewish community to look to God as their shepherd when God’s Spirit withdrew from the temple in Jerusalem as the shepherds of Israel focused on their own self-protection and not on safeguarding their flock; and on Jesus’s statement in John’s gospel that his body and the body of all those united to him through the Spirit will become the new temple.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Refried Beans, Children, and Moments of Grace: Hope in the Face of Hate and Fear



A brief addendum to what I wrote earlier today about the current distempered attack of the political (and in my area, the religious) right on immigrants:

Steve had business to do around lunchtime today, and asked if I would join him for lunch.  I'm always glad to get out of the house (and to eat), so I went along.  We decided on a Mexican restaurant near his meeting place--one of many simple, down-home Mexican places that have popped up all over the city with the influx of Mexican and Central American immigrants in our area in recent years.

2010 Elections Approach: Immigrants Now Under Fire (While We Bring Out Red Silk and Lace)



A few weeks ago, Chris Hedges at Truthdig did an interview with Noam Chomsky, in which Chomsky says that in his long life, he has never seen conditions so reminiscent of the Weimar phase of German history as he now sees in the United States.  In Chomsky’s view, we are now a nation ripe for hate, and ripe to have our hate exploited.

"Threatened with Resurrection": English Translation of Julia Esquivel's Poem


The following is a translation of a portion of the preceding Julia Esquivel poem.  The translator is Gloria Kinsler:

They have threatened us with Resurrection
There is something here within us
which doesn’t let us sleep, which doesn’t let us rest,
which doesn’t stop the pounding deep inside.
It is the silent, warm weeping of women without their husbands
it is the sad gaze of children fixed there beyond memory . . .

For National Poetry Month: Julia Esquivel, "Nos Han Amenazado de Resurrección/They Have Threatened Us with Resurrection"



Lo que no nos deja descansar hermano,
no es el ruido de la calle,
no son los gritos de los jóvenes que salen borrachos del "Saint Pauli,"
no es el barullo de los que pasan agitados
hacia las montañas.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Emperor Has No Clothes: More on the Cappa Magna Moment of Contemporary Catholicism


Well, the red silk is not precisely attached to the unclothed emperor here.

But the principle seems to be eerily akin to the one at work in the cappa-magna principle of pastoral self-justification in contemporary Catholicism: the barer the authority figures underneath the sartorial splendor, the longer the cappa magna grows, the more refulgent the costume becomes.

As if we can't see the correlation.  Or the emptiness lurking inside, as the scarlet silk rolls forth, the lace bobs about, and the prancing and bowing commence.

Scads and Scads of Scarlet Silk and the Magical, Mystical Resolution of Catholic Crisis



Yes, indeedy, this is going to save the Catholic church from its present crisis.  

Yards and yards of scarlet silk.  Scads of lace.  Just what the doctor orders for an institution sick unto death.

Narrative and Counter-Narrative: The Image-Management Crisis Now Facing Rome and Its Apologists


Toward the end of last week, I blogged about the image-management and spin-control phase into which the Catholic church and apologists for its current hierarchy have now entered, vis-à-vis the latest round of abuse revelations.

Today—and briefly—I’d like to frame that discussion in terms of narrative, and the power of narrative.  In order to shape something so powerfully destructive and global as the current crisis in the church, those seeking to vindicate church leaders have to craft a narrative as powerful as or more powerful than the narrative that has emerged from the abuse revelations.

Uwem Akpan on the Salvific Significance of the Child's Perception

 
Reading Uwem Akpan’s Say You’re One of Them (NY: Little, Brown, 2008) in the middle of the current Catholic crisis is thought-provoking, to say the least.  I didn’t deliberately choose to read this set of short stories by a Nigerian Jesuit now because of the abuse crisis, though the thread that binds them together is the redemptive power of children’s perceptions of the world.

But reading the stories in light of all we’re coming to know about the abuse of children by Catholic priests, and the astonishingly callous attitude of Catholic pastoral leaders to the pain inflicted on children by this abuse for generations, opens a new vista of understanding on the abuse crisis itself.  And on the church that might have been, had pastoral leaders chosen to listen first and foremost to the voices of those who have been abused, and not to the voices of those calling for us to put “the” church (that is, priests) first.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Pedophilia, Ephebophilia, and Priests: My Points of Departure



Sometimes, I forget to explain myself completely on this blog, because I assume that others take for granted where I stand on a particular issue, based on where I stand on other connected issues.  As I noted in a recent posting, one of the experiences I’m reliving through the current discussion of the crisis in the Catholic church is the experience of finding that I thought I shared some fundamental presuppositions with others, when it turns out that my own viewpoint is worlds apart from that of some others writing about these issues.

As best as I can recall, I haven’t ever explicitly addressed here the question of priests who have “relationships” with adolescent boys—except in the comments section following various postings, where I’ve engaged in heated discussion with several respondents.  I did explicitly address these questions a few years ago on some threads at the SNAP website.  But at that time, like most other posters there, I was using a username and not my own name when I posted, and I hadn’t yet thought of creating my own blog to deal with these and other issues in my own territory, under my own name.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

John Allen on Castrillon Hoyos's 2001 Letter to Bishop Pican: What Counts in Coverage of the Vatican?



I wonder if I'm the only person in the world troubled by the following statement in John Allen's recent NCR article about Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos, to which I linked in a posting earlier today.  Allen writes:

Though the letter was actually published on the Internet in 2001, it languished in relative obscurity until a French Catholic publication brought it back to life a couple of weeks ago. Given the current media climate, it immediately became a cause célèbre. 

That statement troubles me at a number of levels.  First (or "first up," as Mr. Allen prefers to say), it bothers me because it's an implicit rebuke of the media in general, the media who don't have his inside track to the Vatican mind, and who therefore can't be trusted (so Allen seems frequently to suggest) to parse Vatican statements correctly or even justly, as Mr. Allen can as a Vatican insider.

Mike Huckabee on Gay Adoption as Not Ideal, and the Churches' Need for Enemies



Former Arkansas governor (and Southern Baptist minister) Mike Huckabee told Rosie O’Donnell this week that permitting gay couples to adopt children is not “the ideal.”  This statement comes on the heels of a statement Huckabee made a few days back that equated allowing gay people to adopt with treating children as puppies.

John Allen on Castrillon-Hoyos: An Inadvertent Foil to Vindicate Benedict



On Thursday, re: Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos’s latest incendiary remarks about his 2001 defense of a French bishop who refused to report a priest abusing minors to the authorities, I asked,

Thank You, Bishop Moriarty: Resigning Irish Bishop Speaks Truth



As his resignation as bishop of Kildare and Leighlin was accepted (after months of delay from the Vatican) this week, Bishop James Moriarty released a statement that, in my view, should now become a model for other Catholic churchmen.

Rather than blame those calling for transparency and accountability among church leaders in the abuse situation, he blames himself—for having been so enmeshed in the culture of clericalism that he did what he knew to have been wrong, when he shielded priests abusing minors. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

For National Poetry Month: Mary Oliver's "Some Questions You Might Ask"



For National Poetry Month and for Earth Day:

Is the soul solid, like iron?
Or is it tender and breakable, like
the wings of a moth in the beak of an owl?
Who has it, and who doesn't?
I keep looking around me.
The face of the moose is as sad
as the face of Jesus.
The swan opens her white wings slowly.
In the fall, the black bear carries leaves into the darkness.
One question leads to another.
Does it have a shape? Like an iceberg?
Like the eye of a hummingbird?
Does it have one lung, like the snake and the scallop?
Why should I have it, and not the anteater
who loves her children?
Why should I have it, and not the camel?
Come to think of it, what about maple trees?
What about the blue iris?
What about all the little stones, sitting alone in the moonlight?
What about roses, and lemons, and their shining leaves?
What about the grass?

From House of Light (Boston: Beacon Press, 1990)

End of Week News Roundup: Catholic Crisis Continues to Spread



Well, there’s still that Castrillon Hoyos story about which I blogged last night hanging out there.  And it will be interesting to see if mainstream media outlets (other than AP and FOX) pick it up and run with it.

In my view, this story deserves far more attention than it has gotten so far, for the following reason.  In his RCN radio interview, Castrillon Hoyos states that the present pope, then Cardinal Ratzinger, took part in the meeting of cardinals in 2001 which prepared the letter (later approved by Pope John Paul II) praising Bishop Pierre Pican for shielding a priest abusing minors from legal authorities.  The AP article goes so far as to say that Ratzinger was “involved” in the decision to praise Pican for not disclosing information about a priest’s criminal activities to civil authorities.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

FOX News Gets into the Act: A Report Hot Off the Presses about Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos's Latest Musings



Can this story be for real?

When FOX news ("Fair & Balanced") begins to jump on the latest negative press out of Rome, then you know the Catholic church has a serious problem on its hands.  FOX's website is carrying an AP report hot off the press right now about an interview that Colombian Cardinal Castrillon Hoyos gave to Latin American RCN radio today.  Castrillon Hoyos is the retired head of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy who in 2001 wrote French bishop Pierre Pican to praise Pican for refusing to report a priest's abuse of minors to the legal authorities.  Pope John Paul II made Castrillon Hoyos a cardinal in 1998.

The Current Catholic Crisis and Shock Waves: An Addendum



As an addendum to what I posted earlier today on this topic: it goes without saying that I don't think we've seen the last of troubling revelations about the abuse situation and its cover-up.  Much of the current fanfare--much of the diversionary activity represented by statements like Benedict's second in command, Cardinal Bertone, that the abuse situation = homosexual priests = pedophilies--is, in my view, diversionary precisely in view of the Marcial Maciel story.  We don't yet know all there is to be known about the Marcial Maciel story.  When that story is fully told following the recent Vatican investigation of the Legionaries, I suspect there will be information in it more grievous than we have yet imagined.  If that story is ever fully told . . . .

Catholic Church's Present Crisis: The Shock Waves Continue Globally

 
And, of course (you didn’t expect me to give this story up yet, did you?), as Andrew Sullivan observed on his Dish blog two days ago, the abuse crisis in the Catholic church continues to go global.   Though, as I’ve noted here, I expect the coverage of the crisis in its global dimensions to diminish now in the mainstream media in the U.S., anyone who thinks this crisis is over and done with in the wider context of the church universal is, I believe, deluding himself or herself.

On Pink Flamingoes and Flight: A Poem-Essay



We do have pink flamingoes.

Like any self-respecting gay household.

Ours have weathered many storms and have lost much of their pink.  But I hold onto them, because.  Well, because I remember catching the eye of a man walking with his wife or girlfriend when we bought them at a garden show several years ago, and seeing the half-sneer he sought to disguise as a grin when he saw the gay couple buying pink flamingoes.  And when he knew that I was watching him.

And I don't want to be that man or the world  he inhabits.  I want to be me instead.  So I celebrate my pink flamingoes.

And I hold onto them just because.  Because they're pink.  And flamingoes.  And pink flamingoes.

And this spring, they're living in a patch of variegated Solomon's seal that has just stopped blooming, gathered as a flock about to take flight, stepping warily with their long, skinny legs through the foliage.

A reminder of who I can be--of who we all can be--if we walk where Solomon walks and try our wings now and again.

For National Poetry Month: Thylias Moss's "Fullness"


One day your place in line will mean the
Eucharist has run out.  All because you waited
your turn.  Christ's body can be cut into only
so many pieces.  One day Jesus will be eaten up.
The Last Supper won't be misnamed.  One day the
father will place shavings of his own blessed fingers
on your tongue and you will get back in line for
more.  You will not find yourself out of line again.
The bread will rise inside you.  A loaf of tongue.
Pumpernickel liver.  You will be the miracle.
You will feed yourself five thousand times.

From Small Congregations (Hopewell, NJ: Ecco Press, 1993), p. 4.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

For National Poetry Month: Andrei Voznesensky, "Someone Is Beating a Woman"


I just wrote about the damage that oppressive regimes do to themselves when they silence and exile their poets, artists, and intellectuals.  As a follow-up to that observation, I want to offer readers today (to celebrate National Poetry Month) Andrei Voznesensky's poem "Someone Is Beating a Woman."

After Khrushchev publicly denounced him in March 1963, ordering him to "clear out of my country," Voznesensky was silenced and spent a number of years wandering from place to place as a fugitive.  And here's his poem:

John McNeill on Theology of Fallibility and the LGBT Community: Total Absence of Love and Compassion in Hierarchy's Gay Scapegoating


I just spoke of Hans Küng’s vast learning and obvious love for the church, and of my own determination to keep listening to him for those reasons, even when I do not always agree with each theological conclusion he reaches.  As the crisis in the Catholic church continues to unfold, I’ve been blogging about our need to listen to the many significant theological voices silenced during the papacies of John Paul II and Benedict—a silencing that emanated from the office headed by the current pope, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, when Cardinal Ratzinger headed that office.

Carl Olson on Hans Küng: "A 100-Member Gay Men's Choir Led by Gene Robinson"

 
In the discussion thread following my analysis of the blowback against Nicholas Kristof re: the problem of patriarchy in the Catholic church, two perceptive readers, Joseph O’Leary and Kathy Hughes, note that Carl Olson fisked Hans Küng earlier this week at his Insight Scoop blog.  Kathy calls Olson’s fisking of Küng “the dimmest response to Küng that I’ve seen in a long time.”

On the same day that readers made these observations at Bilgrimage, Fr. Jim Martin published a balanced and theologically insightful overview of Küng’s piece at America’s “In All Things” blog—a response which suggests that he has actually read and understood Küng’s theology over the years. 

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Case of Harold Scull and Clay Greene, and Mr. Obama's Memorandum re: Visitation Rights of Gay Couples

 
I’m deeply concerned about the story of Harold Scull and Clay Greene of Sonoma Co., California.  Dan Savage’s Stranger blog has a complete account yesterday, along with a link to a pdf file of the court complaint filed on behalf of Scull and Greene yesterday.

Scull and Greene were a gay couple who had been together some 20 years.  In 2008, Scull, who was 88, fell and Greene called for medical assistance.  Though the two had filed documents giving each other the right to make medical decisions for the other and making each other the beneficiary of their respective estates, after Scull was hospitalized, Sonoma County filed for guardianship of Scull and his estate. 

For National Poetry Month: "The Men Who Rule Us"

This is a poem of my own that I've posted previously on this blog.  As I post it again to celebrate National Poetry Month, I'm painfully aware that--as with much that I write--it's not anywhere in the league of the poems I've been posting here to commemorate this event.

Still, it's something of my own that, in my view, ties into the discussion that Nicholas Kristof opened on the weekend, with his New York Times piece pointing to the damage that gender-skewed presuppositions have done to the Catholic church.  This poem is entitled "The Men Who Rule Us."  I wrote it in 1991:

Marilyn French on Inability of Patriarchal Systems to Hear Women



As a complement to what I posted yesterday about the attempt of male-dominated institutions to suppress critiques of patriarchy and marginalize those who offer such critiques, effectively treating these critics as if they do not exist, here's Marilyn French talking in the final year of her life about what moved her to write her classic novel The Women's Room

Former Munich Vicar General Breaks Rank: Pressured to Take Blame for Hullerman Decision


I saw this news item yesterday, but didn’t want to overwhelm readers with too many stories about the crisis in the Catholic church on a single day.  It’s an important piece of information that demands attention.

This story has to do with the case of Fr. Peter Hullerman in Munich.  Hullerman, readers will recall, was reassigned to parish ministry in 1980 while Pope Benedict (then Joseph Ratzinger) was archbishop of Munich,  after Hullerman’s therapist begged diocesan authorities not to reassign him because he would abuse minors again.  And he did just that after being reassigned.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Patriarchy and Pushback: Nicholas Kristof Hits a Nerve

 
Nicholas Kristof’s op-ed piece in yesterday’s New York Times, to which my posting about the Watergate fiasco linked, is getting immediate blowback from Benedict’s loyal laddies, the defensores fidei who have locked arms to resist critiques (e.g., Hans Küng’s) of what’s wrong in the church that drive to the heart of it all—to the center, from which the problems clearly emanate.

The sensitive point on which Kristof touched, and which has the defensores fidei up in arms as a new week begins?   Patriarchy.  The question of gender as a central problematic of the Catholic church at this point in its history.  The question of how male domination and female subordination, enshrined in our teaching and how we do business, are at the very center of the problems we face.

Leonardo Boff on Benedict's Legacy at the Five-Year Mark: A Failed Shepherd

Bishop Accountability published a link yesterday to an interview with Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, in which Boff reflects on the track record of Pope Benedict on the occasion of Benedict's fifth anniversary as pope.  For non-German speakers, the interview in Süddeutsche Zeitung is unfortunately in German.  But the Bishop Accountability summary of the article (scroll down the page at Bishop Accountability to which the preceding link points, and you'll find it) has a partial summary.

We Are Church on Fifth Anniversary of Benedict's Papacy: Begin the Reforms You Promised Now

The international We Are Church movement issued a press statement this past weekend in response to the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict’s papal election.  The statement calls on Benedict to begin in earnest the reforms he promised when he became pope.

These should be, in the view of We Are Church, the following:*

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Survivors to Pope Benedict: Challenge Moral Relativism in Abuse Cover-up



The National Survivor Advocates Coalition today, responding to media reports that Pope Benedict has expressed sorrow for the Catholic church's treatment of those sexually abused by clerics when they were minors:

An institution with the depth of 2,000 years of history seeking to be the moral leader on the earth has to squarely face that the cover up of crimes is also a severe and festering wound in the Church.
Tears, yes, words, yes but solid and convincing action that is uniquely within the Pope’s purview is what is needed. Remove the bishops and Vatican hierarchy that covered up. Otherwise what we have is creeping relativism, the very thing Pope Benedict preached against on the eve of his election to the papacy five years ago.
The Pope’s tears in his eyes at Malta should surely lead him to addressing the victims in his own country. For the German victims there has been absolute silence from him.

As this statement notes, the present pope has made combating moral relativism a leitmotiv of his papacy.  And so survivors are echoing the pope's own most cherished sentiments when they call for an end to moral relativism in the church's thinking--for an end to the moral relativism that finds it possible to cover up crimes of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clerics . . . .  

Tears, yes, words, yes but solid and convincing action: because it's our acts that count in the end.  And that speak far louder than our words . . . .   

As I have noted before and will keep repeating here, it's extremely important that the voices of survivors of abuse be heard first and foremost, if we're to make headway towards true (and much-needed) reform in the church.  Not the voices of the clerical boys' club who keep trying to convince us the problem has been solved, and of their allies in the media, who keep trying to spin the narrative as a now-finished story that vindicates those who have given us the cover-up.

But the voices of survivors of clerical sexual abuse.  First and foremost.

For National Poetry Month: Elizabeth Bishop's "The Fish"


I caught a tremendous fish
and held him beside the boat
half out of water, with my hook
fast in a corner of his mouth.
He didn't fight.
He hadn't fought at all.
He hung a grunting weight,
battered and venerable
and homely.  Here and there
his brown skin hung in strips
like ancient wallpaper,
and its pattern of darker brown
was like wallpaper:
shapes like full-blown roses
stained and lost through age.

Watergate on My Mind: Martha Was Right



Watergate’s been on my mind lately.  At the time the break-in and eventual unraveling of the cover-up took place, I didn’t have a television.  My partner Steve and I had met not long previously, and we were living with two other students (and, for a good part of one year, with a homeless alcoholic man we’d offered shelter)—all of us either just out of college or just finishing—in a community of work and prayer. 

No t.v., because we wanted to focus on prayer and outreach to people in need.  In addition to attending daily liturgy, we gathered to pray several times a day.  And we served as the “legs” for a tiny Catholic nun who was one of the most amazing human beings I’ve ever met.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Overcoming Boys'-Club Mentality as Precondition for Healing of Catholic Church: Two Recent Newsweek Essays

 
In my posting earlier today enumerating ten life lessons I’m having to relearn in the middle of the current crisis in the Catholic church, I noted that members of boys’ clubs almost inevitably lock arms when crisis threatens their club and defend the club against all perceived threats—using any and all weapons at hand.  I also noted that the clerical system of the Catholic church is a boys’ club and fosters a boys’-club mentality.   And that even boys’ clubs that posture as holy are capable of using unholy weapons to defend their club when they feel the club threatened.

I’d like to talk more about this briefly now as I highlight two recent Newsweek articles that address the abuse crisis from the standpoint of gender.  The first is Lisa Miller’s “A Woman’s Place Is in the Church.”

Hans Küng on Healing a Church in Crisis: No Denying That Ratzinger Engineered Cover-Up


Some members of the boys’ club rallying to the Vatican’s defense in recent days are now proclaiming that the crisis in the church is over.  The Vatican has weathered the storm quite well, these defensores fidei are announcing.  The storm is already abating.

This announcement, which purports to be objective description of how things stand at present, is, of course, spin.  It’s designed to give those who call for continued open discussion of the abuse crisis—and, in particular, of the Vatican’s role in it—the impression that their continued conversation is silly and ineffectual, mere petty gossip and pubtalk.  It’s designed to close ranks even more tightly and to keep outsiders from straying into a pub that has hitherto been exclusively clerical (and therefore exclusively male).

The Abuse Crisis: Ten Life Lessons I'm Relearning Now


 
Times of crisis are always times to relearn lessons we thought we’d already learned.  Well, they work that way for me, at least.  People say that the Mandarin word for “crisis” means both “danger” and “opportunity.”

I have always suspected that the opportunity afforded by crisis is the opportunity to choose another, a more authentic and and functional, path for our lives at the crossroads with which a crisis presents us.  The opportunity that crisis brings us is to choose a path that doesn’t replicate the dysfunctional one we’ve chosen in the past.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

News Updates: More Reactions to Bertone's Equation of Homosexuality with Pedophilia


Some news updates supplementing postings in the last several days: yesterday, I noted Barbara Dorris’s statement at SNAP refuting the recent claims of the pope’s right-hand man Cardinal Bertone that homosexuality is liked to pedophilia and this equation explains the the abuse crisis in the Catholic church.

Cooking to Save the Planet: Pasta with Zucchini Sauce


I offer these culinary suggestions with some trepidation on a day when the members of this household have roiling stomachs--but, I suspect, due to the breakfast we ate a hygiene-compromised restaurant this morning, and not to last night's pasta.

This pasta sauce is one I cook frequently in summer, when tender, fresh squash is in season.  It's quickly made and, we think, healthy and tasty.  Zucchini and summer squash aren't yet in season locally here, but stores are now getting shipments that appear to be from someplace south, perhaps southern California or Texas, or Florida.  Though I'd prefer locally grown squash, when a new crop arrives from a distance, I'm still happy to buy the produce--except that I loathe the greasy substance with which either growers or handlers increasingly coat fresh produce shipped from afar.  I find that the only way to remove it is to wash the vegetables under very hot water and scrub them with a bamboo brush I keep just for cleaning fruit and vegetables.

Pope's Birthplace Vandalized: Chris at Americablog Responds



Chris at Americablog wonders why people are so bent out of shape about whatever was spray-painted on Pope Benedict's birthplace home.

It was just petty gossip, after all.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Survivors of Clerical Sexual Abuse Respond to Bertone: SNAP's Press Statement


*Again, it’s absolutely crucial that we hear the voices of survivors of clerical sexual abuse first and foremost as we discuss the church’s current crisis.

As I’ve noted in numerous postings at Bilgrimage, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has repeatedly and consistently combated the attempt of some Catholic officials and their defenders to divert the discussion of the real roots of the abuse crisis to the red-herring issue of sexual orientation.  Follow the link “clerical sexual abuse” beneath this posting if you want to track my previous postings about this, which link to SNAP statements and show SNAP’s rationale for coming to the conclusion that the interjection of sexual orientation into the discussion is a deliberate diversionary attempt to side-track the essential conversation: about the responsibility of the church’s pastoral leaders, from the top of the church down, for this crisis.

Flinging Wide the Pub Doors: Opening the Catholic Conversation in the Midst of Crisis


Though I realize that continued talk about the abuse crisis in the Catholic church is, for many of us, painful, I also think that we have no choice except to go on talking.  For all kinds of reasons . . . .

The church finds itself at its present point of crisis precisely because the “pub” (to borrow Fr. Joseph O’Leary’s image from Grant Gallicho’s recent Commonweal thread about Bertone and Benedict) in which ecclesial issues have been discussed has long had a sign outside forbidding entrance to everyone except clerics.

For National Poetry Month: Mary Oliver's "The Journey"



And for National Poetry Month, another poem—this from Mary Oliver’s 1986 volume Dream Work:

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice--
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
"Mend my life!"
each voice cried.
But you didn't stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do--
determined to save
the only life you could save. 

For Southern Rights Hurrah: The Attempt to Rehabilitate the Confederacy

For what it’s worth, here’s some of my commentary at Eduardo Peñalver’s Commonweal thread last week about abortion and the black community.  That thread launched into a discussion of one of the burning issues of the moment—what to make of the legacy of the Old South, and whether the Confederate flag is a racist symbol.  Is it possible to rehabilitate the Confederacy by retrieving its sterling values, without rehabilitating racism?