Mudcat Café message #3488987 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #149850   Message #3488987
Posted By: Joe Offer
11-Mar-13 - 12:26 AM
Thread Name: BS: Catholic religion response to 'today'
Subject: RE: BS: Catholic religion response to 'today'
Well, as usual, I'm short of time on Sunday and Monday - but let me say this: I went to ten o'clock Sunday Mass at Galway Cathedral on Pentecost (May 27, 2012), just before I spent the afternoon with Martin Ryan.

I have to say, I was appalled by the Mass. There was no music, and there was no joy in the service. The church was about 1/3 full of people who mumbled their prayers, and the priest wasn't a whole lot better. I'd say that the sad state of that liturgy was probably a strong statement about the sad state of that congregation, and probably the sad state of the Diocese of Galway. No wonder people don't go to church in Ireland.

On my way back to my hotel, I went past St. Nicholas Collegiate Church (Church of Ireland/Anglican), and I could hear wonderful music as the 11 o'clock service was beginning. I went in and stayed almost an hour, and it was delightful. If I lived in Galway, I'd probably remain Catholic and do my damn best to liven up the cathedral congregation (I've been successful at that), but I'd also go to services at the Church of Ireland as often as I could (Martin Ryan says the canon at that church is unusual - and he's a folk musician). On the other hand, I visited several convents of the Sisters of Mercy in Ireland (I'm an associate member) - all of them were wonderful, and they fed us and fed us and fed us. That's not to deny the industrial schools and the participation of the nuns in the Magdalene Laundries, but those problems are gone now, and those cruel nuns are no longer alive or no longer in charge of young people.

And in my home parish in California, Sunday Mass is a lively, joyful celebration - with terrific music. That lively Mass enlivens the entire life of the congregation, and it's a joy to be there. I have a great time every Sunday morning, so good that I go to Mass twice every Sunday.

OK, so back to my idea of "benign neglect." It's how every organization operates. Policies that don't work are seldom rescinded, because that just stirs things up and gets the naysayers upset. What happens most of the time in most organizations, is that outdated policies are gradually forgotten, and might be rescinded after they've long passed from mind. No institution wants to be continually reminded that it has made bad decisions - better that those decisions just be forgotten, rather than fought about.

You know where I hear all the stuff about the Catholic Church sending people to hell for practicing birth control? It's from people who aren't Catholic. According to official Catholic teaching, no deed automatically sends a person to hell. I learned in third grade that it has to be a serious matter, done intentionally, and done knowing that it is seriously wrong. And if a person is later sorry for doing such a thing, it is forgiven - and that already-received divine forgiveness is formalized in the sacrament of reconciliation/penance/confession.

Now, all that is difficult to define in simplistic terms, so it often gets twisted. But in the Catholic Church, conscience reigns supreme. If you do the deed believing you're right, you're not guilty of sin.

Let me tell you why I think Catholic teachings on birth control and homosexuality are mostly in "benign neglect" - they're hardly ever talked about, and hardly ever written about. You'll find lots of recent Catholic documents on just treatment of workers and on the immorality of capital punishment and discrimination (against race, creed, color, sexual orientation, gender, and whatnot), and most warfare. You'll find a bit about homosexuality and even less about birth control in the Catechism of the Catholic Church (the compendium of official teaching), but really not much. Look what happened to Limbo - for fifty years, it was taught less and less, and then finally Benedict XVI said it was bad theology and that Limbo didn't exist. So, as a general principle, look at the amount written on an issue to see how important it is. You'll find that the various U.S. wars and the poverty widespread in the world, are far more important issues than homosexuality and birth control. Yes, there was a "fortnight of freedom" campaign waged by some bishops who opposed the Obamacare requirement that Catholic institutions provide contraceptives in employee insurance programs, but most American bishops didn't participate in the "fortnight" campaign.

As for child molestation - yes, it's still there and always will be there, but there are dramatically fewer occurrences. No bishop in his right mind nowadays, would defend a priest guilty of molesting a child - they got the message. In the United States, every diocese but Lincoln, Nebraska, adopted "no tolerance" policies regarding child molestation, and there is an extensive system of controls to ensure that priests other employees and volunteers do not molest children. These controls are not failsafe, and there will be offenses in the future; but the Catholic Church in the U.S. has made an extraordinary effort to enact preventive measures. Dioceses in other parts of the world are following suit. And Lincoln finally has a new bishop, and I expect that diocese will soon adopt a "no tolerance" policy.

Yes, bishops will still do their best to prevent bankruptcy and will be reluctant to pay million-dollar settlements, but denial of sexual abuse in the U.S. Catholic Church is now almost nonexistent.

No, the Catholic Church isn't perfect. In many places, particularly in Ireland, it's in really bad shape and need of reform. But when I go to church on Sunday, I know I'm in a good place. And still, I have fought all my life to right the many wrongs of the Catholic Church.

-Joe-