The Futility of (Attempted) Church Censorship: Minnesota, Ireland.

The standard response by the CDF (and others who hold power in the Catholic Church) to opinions they do not wish to hear appears to be to censor them. My gut response to censorhip is to do what I can to uncover what has been hidden. Others have the same impulse.

A local example from Minnesota is that of a Catholic school head who has removed two articles from the school on-line magazine which are critical of the local bishops’ political intervention in the gay marriage debate. Fortunately, in an internet age, it is no longer so easy to kill something that has once been published. It was in this spirit that MinnPost has retrieved and published in full the piece published by the editorial board, then removed by the school principal – together with comment on the excellent quality of the writing, a link to a companion op-ed piece on “Life as a Gay Teenager”, and a statement released by the editorial board.

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Philippine Idiocy, Continued

In the Philippines, where the Catholic bishops are engaged in a foolhardy, Quixotic fight against the government’s plans to reform the national reproductive health system by easing access to contraception for low-income families, their latest salvo is a highly offensive attempt to justify their stance by invoking the memory of the church’s historic role on the side of the poor and for justice,during the remarkable display of people power which unseated former President Marcos and his wife Imelda (and her famous shoes). The two issues are not comparable.

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Pray, Don’t Pay, Disobey: The Catholic Revolution Has Begun.

Prickly Pear, at Far From Rome, has written about a personal decision to remove himself from the sacramental life of the Church. He says that this was “precipitated” by moving house, but has been a long time coming – and was preceded by substantial time for reflection, during a time without easy internet access.  It’s important to note here, that this time was accompanied by an increase in meditation practice.  I was alerted to Pear’s post by a report on it by Jayden Cameron at Gay Mystic, who writes on his own experience outside the formal life of the Church for over 25 years. Anyone who is familiar with Jayden’s writing will recognize that he too may have left the institutional church, but retains a very strong spiritual, even sacramental life, with a strong devotion to the Eucharist. He simply chooses to practice his spirituality independently.  Pear quotes from a Commonweal article by Cathleen Kaveny (sadly, hidden behind a paywall I cannot access), on many others who are doing the same thing:

From the perspective of these Catholics, doctrine and practice are not developing but withering. But why not stay and fight? First, because they think remaining appears to involve complicity in evil; second, because fighting appears to be futile; and, third, because they don’t like what fighting is doing to them. The fight is diminishing their ability to hear the gospel and proclaim that good news. The fight is depriving them of the peace of Christ.

Bill Lindsey at Bilgrimage is another important Catholic blogger who writes specifically as a Catholic theologian, at his own site and at Open Tabernacle, and has frequently made clear his objections to participating formally in the sacramental life of the Catholic church. He has a useful summary of Kaveny’s piece, and includes this extract:

From the perspective of these Catholics, doctrine and practice are not developing but withering.  But why not stay and fight?  First, because they think remaining appears to involve complicity in evil; second, because fighting appears to be futile; and, third, because they don’t like what fighting is doing to them.  The fight is depriving them of the peace of Christ.

Prickly Pear, Jayden and Bill are far from alone. It has been widely reported that ex-Catholics, those who have either transferred to another denomination or simply ceased to identify as Catholic, are now the second largest religious denomination in the US. Similar patterns of disengagement are seen in many other parts of the world. (Research has shown that the most important reasons people give for leaving concern Vatican teaching on gender and sexual ethics, compulsory clerical celibacy, and the child abuse disgrace). I am more interested though, in another phenomenon: the abundant evidence that Catholics who choose to stay are simply ignoring official doctrine, on matters ranging from sexual ethics to church discipline.

A couple of months ago, an Irish paper asked, with reference to the call for a boycott of Mass, “Is this the start of a revolution in the Catholic Church?” My response is no, the start of a revolution is no longer possible. The revolution has already begun, and is well under way, in Ireland, in the US, and elsewhere.

 

Velvet Revolution, Czechoslovakia: Prague 1989

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DIY Catholicism: Swiss Church’s Condom Campaign

There have been many illustrations of ordinary Catholics open defiance of Vatican doctrine, especially on contraception, but this is one of the most remarkable I have seen: a Swiss Catholic church openly distributing condoms as part of an AIDS awareness program:

Photograph showing rolled up condom
Image via Wikipedia

 

From Swiss Info:

Catholic condom campaign sparks controversy

The Catholic church of Lucerne has launched a controversial Aids prevention campaign which includes the distribution of condoms.

At the same time, a Catholic mission is hosting a road show that educates young people about Aids in Africa.

From Monday until Wednesday, a multimedia exhibition staged in a truck outside the main railway station illustrated the harsh reality of life in Uganda and in South Africa, where HIV and Aids are a severe problem.

Small rooms represented African huts, a classroom, a market and a clinic. An accompanying audio guide tells the story of two young people affected by Aids.

Flavio Moresino, responsible for Missio’s youth-related activities in German-speaking Switzerland, said that the exhibition had enjoyed a good response.

Fourteen school classes signed up to visit the exhibition in Lucerne. Over the next three weeks, the truck will travel to other parts of Switzerland.

“We are really very happy about it – the HIV/Aids situation in Africa has had quite an impression on the schoolchildren. This exhibition makes the problem more concrete and interesting for them,” Moresino told swissinfo.ch. He added that somebody in the world is infected with HIV every 12 seconds.

 

Love thy neighbour

The Catholic church of Lucerne set up a stand to coincide with the Aids truck’s stay in the city. As part of its campaign, the church produced 3,000 custom-wrapped condoms to distribute.

Reactions have been mixed, with criticism from other branches of the Swiss Catholic Church.

The condom packaging features a stylised skyline of the city’s Catholic churches under a rainbow-coloured spray of condoms. The motto reads: “Forgetfulness is contagious. Protect your neighbour as you would yourself.” The church’s URL is printed on the back.

“We want to discuss this problem with youths and other people and show that we are from this millennium and that they can talk about this openly with us – there are no taboos,” said Florian Flohr, spokesman for the Catholic church of the city of Lucerne.

Flohr told swissinfo.ch that he was impressed by the young people he had spoken to.

“They respect their partners and are conscious of the fact that they have to think about Aids when they have sexual relationships,” Flohr said.

He emphasised the fact that he and his colleagues had not simply been passing out condoms to everyone who walked by. As of midday on Tuesday, he estimated that about 150-200 condoms had been given away – but only after a conversation about the importance of safe sex.

Although the Roman Catholic Church is officially against the use of condoms, pastoral workers supporting the Lucerne campaign say that it is unethical to ignore them when addressing the danger of HIV.

Youth workers will continue to broach the subject in and around the parishes of Lucerne.

 

It’s cool

Reactions to the Aids campaigns – in particular the one involving free condoms – have been mixed. The diocese of Chur has expressed its dismay in the Swiss media.

“It sends the wrong signal,” diocesan spokesman Christoph Casetti told Swiss television. He added, “From a medical point of view, I also think it’s wrong because we know that condoms don’t provide absolute protection.”

Diocese of Basel spokesman Guiseppe Gracia told swissinfo.ch the bishopric had not yet formed an opinion but was planning to issue a formal statement soon.

“It’s not a condom distribution campaign – it’s an information campaign,” Gracia pointed out. He added that most of the people who had reacted negatively had only informed themselves through the media.

The story has been picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in international newspapers including the Boston Globe and the London-based Telegraph.

Around the train station, swissinfo.ch found the responses to be quite positive.

“I think it’s cool,” said 17-year-old Tatjana Jud. “It’s surprising,” added her friend Valerie Beschwanden, 19. Seventeen-year-old Stefan Rogenmoser said he didn’t know much about the campaigns, but that he would feel comfortable talking to a church group about sex and Aids.

Alda Beck, an older woman waiting for her train, also spoke well of the project.

“I find it good – young people have sex and need to protect themselves. It’s high time that the church did something like this.”

 

 

Conscience & Legislation: Sanity From the Catholic Church in Malta.

In the US and Mexico, some bishops are working themselves into a froth over the possible introduction of legal recognition for same-sex unions. In the Philippines, the issue that has them excited. In Malta, it is the possibility of legal divorce. Unlike the other two regions, though, the Maltese church has allowed some sanity into the official discourse, recognizing the possibility of an informed conscience reaching a conclusion that differs from Church teaching, and so acknowledging that parliamentarians could in principle vote in favour of divorce legislation.

 

The Awakening Conscience, (Holman Hunt)

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Bishops “Protecting Marriage” and the ‘had it’ Catholics

As some Catholic bishops persist in attempts to impose their disordered ideas on sexual ethics and civil marriage on the rest of the population, they would do well to read and ponder deeply a post by Tom Roberts at NCR on the extent of disaffected Catholics, whom he calls the “had it” Catholics “who are leaving the church and either dropping out of organized religion altogether or finding refuge in other denominations.”

The phenomenon of declining numbers in all the major denominations is well-known, but Roberts refers to a Pew research report that show the Catholic church is especially hard hit.

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Meddling Bishops, Filipino Style.

While meddling bishops in Minnesota are dividing the Church over gay marriage, and those in Mexico are working themselves into a froth over gay adoption, their counterparts in the Philippines are doing their best to destroy the church over – contraception!

The Philippines is unique in Asia as a majority Catholic country – 80-83% are described as “Catholic”.  Every Easter, some of the devout famously commemorate the crucifixion by putting themselves through the same agony. A quarter of a century ago, in the famous “yellow revolution” that put an end to the corruption of President Marcos and his shoe-fixated wife Imelda, the wonderfully named Cardinal Sin played an important part, demonstrating the commitment of the Catholic faith to justice and the marginalized poor.

 

Philippines, crucifixion re-enactment

 

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