Thursday, February 28, 2013

@Pontifex, We Hardly Knew Ye: Salon Reporting BXVI's Twitter Feed Erased

Katie McDonough at Salon is reporting that the Vatican has now erased Benedict's entire Twitter feed:

Vincent J. Miller on Unbelief in Post-JPII and BXVI Era, and Catholic Response

Vincent J. Miller

At America's "In All Things" blog, Vincent J. Miller cites Robert Putman and David Campbell's American Grace to argue that the "current wave of increasing secular sentiment in which we currently live" is discontinuous from the critical reaction to belief that ensued from the "long sixties." The papacies of John Paul II and Benedict were, in key respects, molded by reaction to that previous moment of critical response to belief, and were an attempt to deal with it.

Jamie Manson on the "Dark Side" of Proposals to End Mandatory Celibacy: Whither Gay Priests?

To my mind, the operative paragraph in Jamie Manson's recent wise warning to Catholics in favor of the option of married clergy to consider a possible "dark side" of revising the mandatory celibacy requirement is this one:

Benedict Takes Georg Gänswein with Him to Retirement: People Will Talk

I wrote recently that people will talk about the arrangement made by Benedict to retire inside the Vatican with his personal secretary Georg Gänswein. And here's some of the talk as Benedict retires:

Commentary on Benedict's Final Day and What Next? A Selection

The changing of the guards in the Vatican and Benedict's farewell address yesterday are producing a torrent of commentary about the current state of the Catholic church and its possible paths to the future. In what follows, I'd like to offer readers some excerpts from statements hot off the press that seem to me eminently worth reading:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Tom Ehrich to Staunch Catholic Traditionalists: "Sorry to Burst Your Bubble"

At Religion News Service, Tom Ehrich maintains that the bubble of "establishment Christianity" in America is now bursting, as people leave churches, buildings become empty, money can't be found to pay for things, and "many people discover that their primary religious interest had been sustaining the institution":

Joanna Moorhead to Benedict and the Men Leading the Catholic Church: "Not in My Name"

Zoe Ryan on Legacy of Benedict as "God's Rottweiler": "Silenced Many"

I'm just now seeing Zoe Ryan's latest article at National Catholic Reporter: "'God's Rottweiler' Silenced Many As Head of Doctrinal Congregation." Since what Ryan says in the article dovetails perfectly with what I said in my first posting this morning, I want to draw readers' attention to it.

Michael D'Antonio on Vatican Gay-Baiting As Shame for Catholic Church

Michael D'Antonio, author of Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime, and the Era of Catholic Scandal (NY: Macmillan, 2013) and winner of the Pulitzer prize, on Vatican gay-baiting and the shame it brings to the Catholic church: 

Benedict's Parting Words: Papacy As "Great Weight" (and My Reflections)

Dennis Coday and Joshua McElwee report that on his last public day on the job, Pope Benedict has told crowds gathered in St. Peter's square that the papacy has been a "great weight" on his shoulders. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Two Poems from Bilgrimage Readers Scott Lentine and Molly Roach: People of God Dreaming Dreams

One of the delights of my experience as a blogger in the past few years is that readers of my blog occasionally contact me to send things they've written--books, essays, poems. These invariably introduce me to fascinating literary statements I'd probably have missed otherwise, and they lay the groundwork for new relationships-at-a-distance that have come to mean a great deal to me. Today I'd like to share two poems that have come my way from readers in the recent past.

Scott Lentine, a young man in Massachusetts living with autism (and who has a background in religious studies), contacted me some months ago to share his poetry. I read his poems with great interest, in part, because the world of autism is somewhat distant from any worlds I've inhabited up to now, though I've known a number of parents of autistic children, and Scott's poetry comes to those who read it as a cri de coeur from that world. It comes as a powerful plea to be understood as a human being, to be accepted and loved as a human being among other human beings.

Kate Childs Graham on Benedict's Human Rights Legacy: A Mixed Bag

Yesterday, I wrote about the continuing attempt of some people of faith (notably, those who resist human rights for gay and lesbian human beings) to talk about human rights as if the rights of those who are LGBT are somehow a case apart. Some people of faith resistant to gay human rights appear to imagine, I argued, that "'real' human rights have to do with poor people and really marginal people--not the gays." And I responded:

More Commentary on Current Crisis of Catholicism (and Its Roots in Institutionalized Homophobia)

And yet more valuable commentary about the issues regarding which Michael Bayly and Andrew Sullivan give witness in the posting I've just uploaded:

Gay Catholics Giving Witness in the Teachable Moment of Catholicism's Current Crisis: Michael Bayly and Andrew Sullivan

Yesterday, I wrote that the Vatican gay lobby story and the story of British Cardinal O'Brien place the Catholic community in a teachable moment regarding those who are gay and lesbian.  I said,

Monday, February 25, 2013

Disqus Slow to Load Comments

Dear Readers,

I don't know why, but Disqus is being slow about loading comments right now. It seems to be a problem lately at many sites using Disqus. I can see comments some of you have made, since they're in the queue of approved comments, but I'm noticing they're very slow to load--as have been some of my own comments at sites like NCR. I'm sorry this is happening, and wanted you to know about it. I hope Disqus fixes the problem shortly.

NPR on Catholic Church At Crossroads Mistakenly Cites Pew Forum on Extent of Catholic Exodus: A Caution to Readers

I'm not sure how to frame the following posting, except as a kind of caveat emptor for anyone who reads the NPR article at which I left the comment below in the comments thread: 

Hans Küng on Hope for New Pope Committed to Human Rights (and Implications for Papal Candidacy of Cardinal Peter Turkson)

In what I just posted, I linked to an important statement by Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff, which appeared at his blog site yesterday. It's about Boff's hopes as a new pope is elected. 

Benedict's Resignation, Priests in Panties Scandal, Cardinal O'Brien's Resignation: Catholicism At a Teachable Moment re: Gay and Lesbian Human Beings

We need a different type of pope; more a pastor than a professor, not a man of the Church-institution, but a representative of Jesus of Nazareth who said: "And he that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out" (Gospel of John, 6,37), be he a homosexual, a prostitute, or a transsexual. 
Leonardo Boff, "What Pope Can We Hope for Who Is Not Another Benedict XVI?"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Alice Walker Feature Documentary "Beauty in Truth" Premieres

Back in October 2011, I told readers of Bilgrimage about a film being made to celebrate the life and work of Alice Walker--"Alice Walker: Beauty in Truth." Pratibha Parmar is the writer, director, and producer.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "If There Is a Gay Lobby in the Vatican, They Have to Be the Most Unsuccessful Lobby Ever"

David, responding to the Commonweal thread by Paul Moses now discussing the media flurry about the secret report of cardinals Benedict appointed to investigate the Vatileaks situation, and which is said to contain sensational allegations of a gay cabal in the Vatican:

"Gossip, Misinformation, and Sometimes Slander": Vatican Press Spokesperson Slams Media Coverage of Gay Sex Scandal Story

Lead HuffPo headline as this Saturday afternoon continues: "Gossip, Misinformation, and Sometimes Slander." Underneath, a photo of Pope Benedict.

Frank Cocozzelli on Cardinal Timothy Dolan as "Neocon Cheerleader"

As a complement to what I posted earlier today about the statement of the German Catholic bishops re: the morning-after pill and rape cases, and the abysmal lack of pastoral and credible moral leadership on the past of the U.S. bishops, here's an excerpt from a hard-hitting essay by Frank Cocozzelli on Cardinal Dolan, president of the U.S. Catholic Bishops' Conference, as a "neocon cheerleader":

Jan Phillips, "If I Were Pope" (with Thanks to Claire Bangasser)

Don't miss Jan Phillips's magnificent poem "If I Were Pope" at Claire Bangasser's A Seat at the Table blog right now. It opens with this provocative declaration:

German Bishops Approve Morning-After Pill in Rape Cases, and U.S. Bishops Now Have a Problem on Their Hands

The German bishops have now taken the step about which I've posted several pieces recently (and here and here): they have issued a statement affirming that Catholic hospitals can administer the "morning-after" pill in cases of rape. As Christa Pongratz-Lippitt reports at National Catholic Reporter, the conservative cardinal-archbishop of Cologne, Joachim Meisner, told the media several weeks ago that he had consulted with medical experts about how the morning-after pill functions, and had learned it's a contraceptive and not an abortifacient--hence the willingness of the German bishops to consider its use in cases of rape:

Friday, February 22, 2013

A Reader Writes: "Kvelling Over the Clothes of a Pope Who Failed to Come to Grips with Widespread Sexual Abuse of Children"

In response to my posting yesterday about Charlotte Allen's on Benedict's "sartorial revivals," Christine McCall writes:

A Prediction for 2013: NOM and Other U.S. Anti-Gay Groups Will Astroturf Anti-Gay Demonstrations Outside U.S.

Brian Brown of National Organization for Marriage at French Anti-Gay Protests, Jan. 2013

As 2013 moves along, I'm going to go out on a limb and make a prediction about the year ahead: I'm going to predict that we'll be seeing quite a few more of the astroturfed, faux-populist anti-gay-rights demonstrations that have now taken place in France and Puerto Rico in this new year. As Zack Ford reported last month at Think Progress, the apparent success of the French protests "seems to reflect the influence of American groups more than anything." And I have no reason to think that things are different with the recent Puerto Rican protest--that is, that it was primarily an astroturfed event behind which stand the big dollars of anti-gay groups in the U.S. who have made an industry of fostering anti-gay prejudice.

Titles I Wish I'd Written: "The Red Prada Shoe Drops?"

"The red Prada shoe drops?": Andrew Sullivan, commenting on the story that appeared in the news yesterday (here's John Hooper in The Guardian) that Benedict resigned after having received a dossier compiled by three cardinals he had commissioned to look into the Vatileaks scandal, who informed him of a gay cabal in the Vatican.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: Charlotte Allen on Benedict's "Sartorial Revivals" As Ministry of Beauty to Drab Church

And from the sublime (Matthew Fox) to the ridiculous: here's anti-feminist Charlotte "MeanCharlotte" Allen on Benedict as "the pope of aesthetics" whose "sartorial revivals" have brought beauty back to a drab, sad church in need of a few glimpses of sartorial splendor to revive its flagging spirits (no, I am not making this up):

Matthew Fox on Benedict's Legacy and the Necessary Destruction of the Imperial Church

Last week, Rob Kall of OpEd News's Up Radio interviewed Dominican theologian and former Catholic priest Matthew Fox regarding the transition in the papacy and what it portends for the future of the Catholic church.* A two-part transcript of the interview is at the OpEd News website here and here.

Cardinal-Electors Dolan and Mahony Deposed Before Heading to Rome for Papal Elections

As Laurie Goodstein is reporting now for the New York Times, a week before the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, His Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, is scheduled to go to Rome to elect the new pope, he's just been deposed in New York regarding his knowledge of abuse cases in his former archdiocese of Milwaukee. As Goodstein also notes, another cardinal-elector, His Eminence Roger Cardinal Mahony, will be deposed in Los Angeles later this week (see also Joshua McElwee at National Catholic Reporter). 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Here Be Dragons: Tribalistic Patrolling of Catholic-Identity Boundaries and Pushback Against Garry Wills

Over the lunch hour and after we had met friends for lunch, Steve had a bit of business to conduct. As I often do while I wait in the car for him, I turned on a "Christian" radio program to catch up on what the "Christians" (the folks who hold forth on this channel are very much what Andrew Sullivan would call Christianists) are saying these days.

Theologian Mary Hunt on Papal Elections: "Unrivaled Displays of Kyriarchy" and "Ancient Rituals of a Men's Club Cloning Its Own Head"

I'll admit it: it's hard not to like a statement about the upcoming papal election which observes, in its opening sentences, the following:

Two Updates: Iglesia Descalza on Theologians' Statement re: Authority in Catholic Church, Alan McCornick on German Bishops' Discussion of Morning-After Pill

I'd like to point readers today to two very valuable postings at other blog sites which provide updates to or further commentary on stories I've told here in recent days:

Quote for the Day: "A Church That Welcomes and Strives to Help the 'Outsiders' of Society, As Modeled by Our 'Outsider' Founder"

A moving appeal to Pope Benedict from his former colleague at Tübingen, Leonard Swidler, who has written an open letter to the pope as Benedict resigns his office: Swidler asks Benedict to make one more courageous step and send the cardinal-electors into the conclave with a statement of his vision for a renewed church:

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Catholic Scholars Call for "New System of Authority" in the Church

In this period leading up to the election of a new pope, Catholic scholars from around the world have released a statement calling for a "new system of authority" in the Catholic church, "based on Gospel teaching and genuine co-responsibility as demanded by Vatican II." The heart of the statement's argument:

Revelations from Legionaries of Christ Documents in Rhode Island Trial: Implications for Upcoming Papal Election

John Paul II and Father Marcial Maciel

Monday, February 18, 2013

German Catholic Bishops Continue to Consider Morning-After Pill as Contraceptive in Cases of Rape

Archbishop Robert Zollitsch

I recently pointed to an article by Pat Perriello in National Catholic Reporter noting the difference between how the U.S. Catholic bishops deal with issues from gay marriage to contraception and how their counterparts in France and Germany approach such issues. As Perriello notes, the German bishops are looking at the use of the morning-after pill in cases of rape.

Archbishop Georg Gänswein and Benedict's Fixation on Rehabilitating SSPX, Benedict and Immunity from International Prosecution: What's Going on in the Vatican?!

Follow the Money

To be frank, I am not particularly interested in Vatican chit-chat. It seems far removed from my tiny little life in the miasmatic swamps of Arkansas. And I wonder how anyone can truly know what goes on in the inaccessible miasmatic swamps inside the Vatican. Anyone other than insiders, that is, and everyone who works inside the Vatican takes an oath, as I understand, not to see, hear, or tell.

Cardinal Mahony Ready to Forgive Victims of Abuse: Narcissism and the Failure of Top Catholic Pastoral Leaders

While Michael Sean Winters throws yet another of his tired tantrums at the "anti-Catholic" bias of the New York Times (and of Catholics Maureen Dowd, Garry Wills, Frank Bruni, and John Patrick Shanley), here's how the real world increasingly sees the Catholic church. This is how the world outside the precious (and tightly controlled) parameters of the centrist Catholic tribe looks at the Catholic church--and what the world sees is not pretty:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Illinois Catholic Laity Reject Bishops' Lead about Marriage Equality, Robert Mickens on Benedict's Resignation, Rachel Maddow on Hubris and Iraq War

End-of-week news items that I couldn't shoehorn into other postings today, but which strike me as eminently worth paying attention to:

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage (2): A Departing Benedict "'Bearing Away' the Burden of the Sex-Abuse Crisis"

And as a Lenten Friday treat (since you'll be fasting from grosser food for the flesh, and will need to stock up on calories for your spirit as compensation), and because Mollie Wilson O'Reilly's commentary at Commonweal about Benedict's resignation (his abdication, the top-perch fellows in the birdcage would have us say) is just so darned witty, here's a second birdcage dropping today:

Michael Sean Winters Orders Garry Wills to Go Away, and I Order Wills's Book Why Priests? in Response

Michael Sean Winters tells Garry Wills "please go away" and "stop posing as a Christian commentator," and my immediate response is to check the online catalogue of my local library and see if it has Wills's new book Why Priests? It does--three copies. I've added my name to the list of those waiting to read the book.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "Ratzinger's Legacy?" "Over 100 Theologians . . . Silenced, Admonished and Disciplined"

In response to an article by John Allen at National Catholic Reporter about the legacy Pope Benedict XVI leaves behind, Vacy writes,*

Thursday, February 14, 2013

If I Could Tweet: The Danger of Marriage Equality to Tender Consciences of Florists

One of the things I love about many right-wing Christians of late is their growing deep compassion for florists and florists' tender consciences.

More Religion in the News: Catholic Hospital in Köln, Teacher Fired in Cincinnati Catholic School, One Billion Rising, Southern Baptists and Gays, and Origins of Evangelical Pro-Life Movement

Other very valuable religion-in-the-news articles and essays of late, which don't have to do with the papal resignation:

A Valentine's Day Selection of More Commentary on Benedict's Resignation

A Valentine's Day gift from me (and most of all, from the authors of the following pieces) to any readers not thoroughly bored by now with talk of the papal resignation: here's an assortment of articles commenting on this event and talking about the choice of a new pope. I've provided only tasty tidbits from each, in the hope that these will pique the appetite of interested readers, and you'll read the entire piece:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lines I Wish I'd Written: No Wonder Rubio Was Thirsty

Ça Va Mieux: French Assembly Passes Marriage Equality

Meanwhile (I'm saying this as a footnote to what I just posted about the status of LGBT Catholics post-Benedict), the French Assembly yesterday moved marriage equality and adoption by same-sex couples forward to the Senate by a vote of 329-229.

For LGBT Catholics, Will It Get Better After Benedict? An Ash-Wednesday Meditation

A question pulling at my heart as the initial fanfare about Benedict's resignation announcement dies down: for LGBT Catholics, will it now get better? I'm pushing myself to write about this issue today--pushing myself specifically as an Ash Wednesday expression of self-mortification.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Mary Hunt and Colleen Baker on Theological Implications of Benedict's Resignation: "A New Church, Not Just a New Pope"

Benedict and Curia, December 2008

And, to complement the two postings I've just published providing the testimony of LGBT Catholics, abuse survivors, and allies of both groups about Benedict's troubling legacy: here are two stellar theological reflections on Benedict's announcement by Catholic women scholars with compelling insights and clear vision--Mary Hunt at Religion Dispatches and Colleen Baker at Enlightened Catholicism:

Abuse Survivors and Their Allies Remember Benedict's Legacy: "Failed to Achieve," "Words Rang Hollow," "Never Once Contacted, Spoke To, or Apologized," "Did Not Do Enough"

And it's not merely LGBT Catholics and their allies (I'm referring to my previous posting) who see Benedict's legacy in decidedly more sober terms than do the leading luminaries who dominate the discourse at the center of the Catholic conversation: the same is true for Catholics who have survived childhood sexual abuse by clerics, and those who stand in solidarity with abuse survivors. Here's a selection of statements from this group of important commentators: