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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Catechism, Inquisition – and Chocolate!

The Catechism can evoke strong feelings from many Catholics. Bill Lindsey responded to my recent post on the subject with a reflection of his own, primarily on the folly and error of claiming to know and follow “all” Catholic teaching. He also covers the well known path of discussing the many changes in Catholic teaching – but includes many changes that are not so well-known:

Forbidden?

Here are some extracts:

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The Catholic Church’s Judas Kiss.

“What’s a Gay Catholic to Do?” is the heading to a sad but honest reflection by Fr James Martin SJ at the America blog. Fr Martin notes the dilemma that we face, listing just five things that the church tells us we may not do, that are not a problem for those who are not lesbian, gay or transsexual. These will be familiar to my queer readers, so there is no need to elaborate at any length:  I present here just a summary:

    1. Enjoy Romantic Love
    2. Marry
    3. Adopt a child
    4. Enter a seminary
    5. Work for the church and be open

Asking his readers to “imagine” that they are gay no difficulty in that, here), he observes that this presents a real pastoral problem for the church – one which he does not attempt to answer.  He is content just to raise the question, a useful enough exercise in itself.

This picture, of the Judas kiss, rather symbolises to me what the institutional church is doing to us.  They repeatedly tell us we are welcome and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity – but then insist that we are “disordered” and must be deprived of the full participation in the church we should reasonably expect. Worse, by providing a spurious religious justification for discrimination, they give tacit support to popular prejudice, leading not only to the denial of civic rights, but also to active homophobia, childhood bullying, violence, and even death.

Judas Kiss (Giotto fresco, Padua)

Judas Kiss (Giotto fresco, Padua)

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