A blog by the magazine's editors and contributors


Not only in the USA

According to Spiegel-onlinetoday, questions similar to those being raised about Catholic institutions here are also being raised there. I wouldn't say the article is a masterpiece of objectivity, but it's worth reading.  

About the Author

Rev. Joseph A. Komonchak, professor emeritus of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America, is a retired priest of the Archdiocese of New York.



Commenting Guidelines

  • All

Here's an article from today's Inside the Vatican about the disillusionment of the German Catholics with the leadership of the Church, especially over the last year. The lower classes wouldn't even care if the Chruch went out of existence, or so says the study, apparently.

this is a fascinating article for those us who knew little about the social welfare state in Germanyand its relation with the Church. Incredible that the Church is the second largest employer in the country, has 420 hospitals, and that 90+% of funding for Catholic insitutions comes from the state... and this doesn't even mention the previous posts about the bishops defending "no tax, no sacrament" policy. The box that the current prevailing moral theology has painted itself into regarding contraception and "morning after" pills is the top of the iceberg with reproductive ethics, but I can't foresee how it's all to break open -- unless, as Cathleen Kaveny suggested some months ago, the Catholic view of contraception/ pregnancy provide not so much moral guidance to all, but cultic features that will brand "Cathollic" but not be rally instructive to all. This tragic inciden of this rejectded woman illustrates the charade. Then jump to the story of the Catholic hospital in Colorade that's being sued and now wants to claim that fetuses are not "persons" to avoid another type of lawsuit and we see the confusion in the civil and theological spheres growing.

Maybe the Catholic hospitals should return to the old way -- not be dependent on the government for funds. This would cripple the Catholic hospitals in terms of volume of service, but maybe it's necessary. If the Church cannot define its own beliefs (and even the Hosannah decision says it must) then the Church must stop its cooperation with government health care.Whether or not you and I agree with the bishops' positions about abortion, etc., is irrelevant. They are the ones responsible to articulate Church teach *as they see it*. If we want the Catholic hospitals to flourish, then we have to change the mind *either* of the bishops or the government. Unfortunately, the bishops won't even allow these difficult matters to be discussed within the Church. Shame, shame on them.

Our diseased church seems intent on infecting everyone with the disease.

This is all about "non-negotiable" teachings. The following list might help people looking for examples of how definitive teachings have proved to be not so definitive after all:Academic FreedomAnimal RightsAstrologyBiblical CriticismElection of BishopsCanonization of SaintsCapitalismChurch and StateChurch as perfect societyChurch can errCollegialityCommunismConfession (ways of celebrating the Sacrament of Penance)Creation in six daysDemocracyDevelopment of DoctrineDissentEastern SchismEcclesiologyEcumenismEnsoulmentError has no rightsGalileoGospels authorship of the gospelsHoly orders forms of the sacramentInculturationInequality in the churchInfallibility of EncyclicalsJewsJustice in the churchLaicization of PriestsLaity participation in the churchLatin use ofLocal churchMarriage Definition ofMarriage inferior to celibate life; religious life superiorFreedom of the PressMembership in the churchModernismMonarchyMoses author of the PentateuchNational independenceOpeness to the WorldOriginal Sin and MonoganismPapal AuthorityPapal StatesPluralismPreferential option for the poorReligious LibertyRevelationSacramental TheologySalvation outside of the churchSexualitySlaverySocial ClassesSocial TeachingSuicideSupport of ColonialismTeaching role of BishopsTortureTridentine MissalUsuryVicar of Christ titleWomenWorship changes


To Joseph O'Leary's useful list above, we might add another category: History, meaning the refusal of Church leaders to engage seriously with the past, and examine the ways in which particular teachings -- e.g., salvation outside the church -- have changed.

I've long thought that members of the hierarchy should spend time teaching in a fifth-grade classroom. It forces one to learn something about human behavior. Try telling a group of fifth graders they are to shut up and not even think about something or other and you are ensuring that's all they'll think and whisper about. It's a perfect way to make yourself irrelevant as a teacher. Dictating isn't teaching. It doesn't work with fifth graders, and certainly won't work with thinking adults. However, really teaching is hard work.

So... is the Wittenburg Cathedral still accepting postings?Or at least a Facebook revolution?But from whom...?

From the article Ann refernece via link: Criticisms range from complaints about discrimination against women and celibacy, to the condemnation of homosexuality, contraception and sex outside wedlock, to the marginalisation of lay people involved in Church life. Lets summarize this. These folks want women priests and married priests, and they want the pope to say that homosexuality, contraception, and sex outside of marriage is Ok. Also, they think the laity should be charge of the church.Hmm - I do not see any of that happening anytime soon, or anytime at all for that matter.Next subject?

No, Ken, not on to the next subject. The Church has already proven that it can be incorrigible: it KNOWS that there have been married priests, and it KNOWS that it is the bishops' duty to provide the Sacraments to the faithful (even canon law says so!), but the hierarchy is so incorrigibly stubborn that it refuses to change the dumb law and provide the desperately needed priest. Further, NONE of the teachings you mention has been declared ex cathedra or by a Council, so they are not settled matters. They are at least arguable. But the Vatican prohibits argument even to the point of excommunicating priests who openly disagree. See the very recent cases of Fr. Bourgeois and the old Irish priest this week.) It is clear to anyone with eyes to see that the Vatican cannot bear the thought of admitting it has been wrong, so it allows the Church falls apart. Not my kind of leadership, and it shouldn't be yours.

I recently asked thirteen teenagers at catechism in France for the names of their bishop and of the pope. The bishop was an unknown: only one knew his name; the pope did better, but still, five of them thought that the pope's name was John Paul II. (I was a bit surprised.)In France at least, all that noise about the church hierarchy doesn't get through to most people.

" ... it KNOWS that there have been WOMEN priests ..."

See also: "An inconvenient truth: Catholic hospitals can't be selective in when to defend the rights of the unborn. "

Jim McC. --Thanks for the exceptionally interesting article about the history of the Czech women priests. I knew they had existed, but I had no idea any of them were still alive. Somebody get a grant to do that story before it dies!! We'll never get the story of their courage from Rome, that's for sure.Of most interest to me was the motive for ordaining them -- the lack of the Sacraments for certain groups of people. I empathsize mightily. As I keep repeating, my brother was in a nursing home for 14 years where there were no priests sent to minister to the people there. Lots of Baptist preachers, no priests. It's simply disgraceful that the lack of priests here in the USA in 2013 is similar to the lack under the Czech Communist regime. At least in that country there was serious reason for the lack of priests. There is no excuse for the lack of priests here, NONE. God bless Bishop Davidek!! Let's make him the patron saint of Church reform.

OK Ann, I will take the bait.Women priests No can do; more than one pope has said so. Married priests; Can do if the pope says OK. The Greeks have married priests. The decision on this belongs to the pope.Homosexuality Not evil in and of itself, but homosexual behavior is sinful; popes have reiterated this time and again.Abortion Murder plain and simpleContraception Read Humanae Vitae; I do not see the Vatican back peddling on this one either.And so as you say, people can argue these all they like, but the only one that could be changed is if Rome allows priests to become family men.Not much here then; time to move along.

Ken --You need to study more carefully the claims about infallibility that the current popes are relying on. I mean the Vatican I claims. According to those norms, for a teaching to be taught infallibly the pope (or Council) must confer with the whole Church and then make an ex officio statement that he is making an infallible statement. No pope has ever done all this with reference to the questions you bring up. Pope JP II has even hesitated to call some of his statements "infallible", calling them "definitive statements". That lends the statement a lot of authority, but it doesn't make it infallible. Of course, to disagree with an official teaching (and have been many, many, many of those over 2000 years) must never be done lightly and never, never without being convinced that the evidence does not support the official teaching. In my opinion this should require either a great deal of personal experience, corroborated by others' experience and/or study, depending on the issue. Dissent should never be just a well-that's-just-not-the-way-I-see-it matter. But I think that in at least some of the hot-button issues the Faithful are coming to see the matters more clearly than the bishops, no doubt because the Faithful have to face tough and confusing choices all the time. And that's another reason not to have an all-celibate clergy. Sadly, Rome and the bishops even refuse to talk about them. That to me is itself an indication that they too have their suspicions that if they addressed the questions that they might lose -- or even would lose. We really need to have the old scholastic method of argumentation come back -- 1. Formulate a question, as in the classic question: Does God exist?2. Give negative answers to the question and the reasons why that conclusions is presented. (Answer: No, because A, B, and C.)3. Give the opinion of the speaker, together with his/her reasons for that opinion(Yes, because X, Y, and Z.)4. Give rebuttals to the negative answer of 2 -- that is, tell *why* your opponents are wrong. (A is wrong because..., B is wrong because..., and C is wrong because...)But you won't find the current hierarchy looking at the evidence pro and con so carefully. They just say, "We already have the answers, so shut up". They conveniently forget the intellectual culture that produced Anselm and Aquinas and Scotus, and the others whose conclusions they still rely on so heavily.

Ken --Here's a splendid parody of a medieval question with the pros and cons. It's from Bro. Raymund Snyder, OP., and he sounds *exactly* like the Angelic Doctor:-) The question: Whether Thomas Aquinas is fittingly called boring?Objection 1: It would seem that Thomas Aquinas is fittingly called boring. The works of Thomas are composed of impersonal statements and arguments, which are boring. Now, every agent acts in accordance with its nature to produce something like unto itself (omne agens agit sibi simile). Just as nothing can effect heat unless it is hot, so too no one can produce boring writings, unless he is boring. Hence it is seen that since Thomas works are boring, Thomas is fittingly called boring.Objection 2: Thomas Aquinas is well known to have been of considerable girth. A man possesses phlegmatic humor in proportion to his size. The more phlegmatic a mans disposition, the more he is perceived as dull, wearisome, and uninteresting. Thus, as a result of his girth, Thomas is fittingly called boring.Objection 3: Those who are always correct in all things are annoying. Those who are annoying are also boring. Thus, Thomas, who is typically correct on account of the soundness of his reasoning and the brilliance of his intellect, is fittingly called boring.On the contrary, it is written (Job 7:1) Is not life on earth a drudgery, its days like those of a hireling? Hence it is on account of the burdens of this life that boredom comes.I answer that, A thing may be called boring in two ways: in itself (per se) or accidentally (per accidens) on account of some accompanying factor. Thomas, considered in himself, is not boring. A man is only called boring who tries ones patience excessively and to no great purpose. However, the works of Thomas are ordered towards producing knowledge and wisdom in the reader concerning the greatest realities, namely God and the things of God. As the Philosopher observes in the De Animalibus XI, the least knowledge of the highest realities produces the greatest joy. Whatever produces joy cannot fail to excite.However, St. Thomas may be called boring accidentally with regard to the difficulty some of his readers experience. As the Philosopher observes in Physics I, we start from the things which are more knowable to us and proceed towards those which are clearer and more knowable by nature.. . . Reply to Objection 1: Impersonal statements are necessary for the communication of abstract truths. A man who relies merely on stories and examples and who does not employ universal statements and syllogistic reasoning is limited in his ability to communicate the truth. For this reason, theology that remains at the level of literature may be exciting, but after a great period of time it will induce an even greater boredom than that which appeals to abstract reasoning.Reply to Objection 2: The soul is of greater dignity than the body. For this reason, a man possessing a virtuous disposition of soul may overcome certain impediments posed by his own corpulent physique.Reply to Objection 3: Those who are consistently correct are regarded as annoying principally by those who prefer the darkness of error. Thus is it is written that King Jehoshaphat detested the prophet Micaiah for his truthfulness (1 Kings 22:8): I hate him because he prophesies not good but evil about me. Thus, the real cause of annoyance and boredom is interior to the one who is bored and annoyed.

Add new comment

You may login with your assigned e-mail address.
The password field is case sensitive.

Or log in with...

Add new comment