"Catholic" but not "Roman Catholic"
Many would hold that we are witnessing nothing less than a worldwide exodus from the Roman Church, punctuated—in the U.S.—by the recent convictions of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia's Vicar of Clergy and the Bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph Mo., both for child endangerment, as well as the frontal assault on American Nuns (LCWR), a Republican veneer on U.S. Roman Catholicism, and so many other issues. No wonder many find the Roman Church wanting.
Instead of engaging with others on these and other issues, the Roman Church has become more intransigent and doctrinal. So many conversations with the institutional Church—Deacon Kandra's response included—are about how high the wall, how locked the gate. As I remind my graduate students, "If the only tool in your toolkit is a hammer, everything must be a nail." On so many fronts, the Roman Church approaches complex issues with the delicacy of a hammer. What is needed is an open and listening heart.
In what has become a dying-declaration interview, former Roman Catholic archbishop of Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, said that the Church was "200 years out of date." He added, "Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous. The Church must admit its mistakes and begin a radical change, starting from the pope and the bishops. The paedophilia scandals oblige us to take a journey of transformation."
For us in the universal Catholic tradition who are called to minister to the people of God, whether deacon, priest, bishop, or pope, let us remember the true purpose of our ordination. We are called not to judge but to serve, nor to pomposity but to humility, the humility of a God who became one of us.
So I pray most fervently for the Catholic Church universal. I pray for Deacon Kandra's ministry; I pray for my own. There is so much to do. Let's get on with it, shall we?
Editor's Note: Rev. Freeman, having taken offense at Deacon Greg Kandra's blog piece, was invited to respond here.
Rev. William J. Freeman, a priest with United American Catholic Church, has an outreach ministry to Greater Washington, D.C.'s sick and dying. He also has an active independent-Catholic and interfaith wedding ministry. In the tradition of the worker-priest movement, Bill is a university professor teaching graduate courses in healthcare, ethics, leadership, and management. He holds an STM in liturgy, an MBA in finance, and a doctorate in business administration with a concentration in health services administration. He can be reached at WFreeman@FriarJudge.org.