2013 Favs: Christian Persecution: Are We the ‘New Jews’?

Yesterday’s news of fresh scandal and rumors of scandal in the Church left me feeling like the little girl in Poltergeist. Her family had suffered a harrowing attack by demonic forces. As fresh attacks started, she turned to the camera and said, “No more.”

That’s exactly how I felt when Deacon Greg Kandra posted that another of our Church leaders has been accused of sexual misconduct. This came at the tag end of a day in which the Vatican issued a denial that the Holy Father’s resignation was in any way a response to what sounded like a cabal of homosexual cardinals within the Vatican and Cardinal Mahony loaded on with another of his weird, cardinal-from-space blog posts.

My reaction was exhaustion and depression and sadness, all rolled into a sigh. No more, indeed.

This is especially sad, coming as it does at a pivot point in history. The Catholic Church is the only unified Christian voice in the world today. Christianity is under attack as it has not been for 17 centuries, with Christians in many places quite literally under the gun. Even the Muslim invasion of Christian lands and the subsequent subjugation of entire Christian populations that took place in the Middle Ages did not have the universal, multi-faceted breadth of the challenges Christians face today.

What a terrible time for our leaders to become disgraceful, not for their fealty to Christ, which would inspire and edify all of us, but for their overweening self-absorption.

Before I went to bed last night, I read a remarkable post by one of my colleagues here at Patheos, Rabbi Yitzchok Adlerstein, who blogs at The Velvet Kippah. In this post, Rabbi Adlerstein asks Are Christians the New Jews?  He says:

“If you want to understand us, study our story, learn of our pain.” That is what Jews told Christians who wanted to build new bridges of respect after the Holocaust. Ironically, when Christians begin listening to the story of the Jews, they are finding reflections of themselves.

Christians who listened learned of a Jewish history written in blood from ancient to modern times. When they thought of Christian martyrdom, on the other hand, they had to turn for the most part to antiquity, to early Christianity under the thumb of Roman emperors.

That has all changed. While Jews feel threatened by the massive explosion of global anti-Semitism in the last years, coupled with Iranian and Islamist calls for the genocidal destruction of all Jews, very few Jews in 2013 are dying because of their faith or their roots. Christians, on the other hand, have become the New Jews. (Read more here.

The violent persecution of Christians in the Middle East, which is what Rabbi Adlerstein is describing, is part — but only a part — of the tsunami of persecution that is heading toward Christianity and Christians today. In truth, violent persecution of Christians has spread over a good bit of the world. Christians are burnt, beaten, beheaded, kidnapped, raped, tortured and imprisoned with impunity in much of Africa, Asia, the Middle East and various Pacific nations.

At the same time, hate speech against Christians and Christianity has long been tolerated in the so-called Christian West. It is not only tolerated, but actively encouraged on many of our university campuses. Christians are increasingly faced with the choice of losing their jobs or following their faith throughout what has been for many centuries the stronghold of Christian faith.

We need leaders, and, fortunately, we have them. Our bishops have provided courageous leadership this past year against the overt government attack on religious freedom that the HHS Mandate represents. I am proud of them for this. They have my complete support and gratitude for doing it.

We are, as I said, at a pivot point. If we are going to turn back this tide of Christian-bashing bigotry, we must do it now, before it gets stronger. It is a great sadness that we keep getting battered by scandals at the highest levels in our Church in this perilous time.

I know that God makes all things, even bad things, work to the good. Good will come of these scandals. One good that I think we will see is a more authentic and committed priesthood. I am not one to criticize our priests. Based on my experience, I think they do their very best, and that this best is quite good. However, tough times are ahead. We are going to need priests who are committed to Christ to the death. The day is coming when we will need priests who can lead us through the fire.

I believe that these repeated scandals are the result of the Holy Spirit, cleaning things out. I don’t have any more insight into this than anyone else, but it seems to me that God just got enough. These abuses had to stop, and, even though the cure is quite painful, I believe that the scandals and the misery they bring to all of us will stop them.

So it is with the revelations of scandal from yesterday. These things have to be exposed because the Church cannot fail. The gates of hell will not prevail against this Church. There are times when things must be laid open because sunlight and air purify and heal. I think we are going through such a time in Church history today.

This brings me to something Cardinal Ratzinger wrote in 1969, decades before he became Pope Benedict XVI. I am going to quote it in its entirety because I think it is pertinent to what we face today. Read it prayerfully, and remember that St Paul told us, “The one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Do not let the sins of other people, including the sins of our religious leaders, lead you away from Christ or His Church. Do not throw away your salvation because someone else has sinned. Trust Jesus and endure to the end.

Cardinal Ratzinger’s comments in 1969 say in part:

 

The church will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.

It will be hard-going for the Church, for the process of crystallization and clarification will cost her much valuable energy. It will make her poor and cause her to become the Church of the meek . . . The process will be long and wearisome as was the road from the false progressivism on the eve of the French Revolution — when a bishop might be thought smart if he made fun of dogmas and even insinuated that the existence of God was by no means certain . . . But when the trial of this sifting is past, a great power will flow from a more spiritualized and simplified Church. Men in a totally planned world will find themselves unspeakably lonely. If they have completely lost sight of God, they will feel the whole horror of their poverty. Then they will discover the little flock of believers as something wholly new. They will discover it as a hope that is meant for them, an answer for which they have always been searching in secret.She will no longer be able to inhabit many of the edifices she built in prosperity. As the number of her adherents diminishes . . . she will lose many of her social privileges. . . As a small society, [the Church] will make much bigger demands on the initiative of her individual members….

And so it seems certain to me that the Church is facing very hard times. The real crisis has scarcely begun. We will have to count on terrific upheavals. But I am equally certain about what will remain at the end: not the Church of the political cult, which is dead already, but the Church of faith. She may well no longer be the dominant social power to the extent that she was until recently; but she will enjoy a fresh blossoming and be seen as man’s home, where he will find life and hope beyond death.

  • http://jessicahof.wordpress.com/ Jessica Hoff

    My co author, who shares your feelings, has written a piece on this on my blog, with another tomorrow. All my prayers are for your church at this crucial time.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Thank you Jessica.

  • pagansister

    Wish I could say I’m surprised with the newest “news” coming from the Vatican—more men who can’t follow what they preach—-and use their positions to take advantage of children, and the possibility that the Cardinals may have a little “mens’ club” which also doesn’t follow the rules they preach, where they can do what they tell others is “sinful”. The Catholic Church is a vast organization which is centuries old—run by men —due to the rules I feel they made up, just so they could stay in power. With the age of this organization/church is it any wonder that over the centuries corrugation is rampant? Kind of like inbreeding—–catches up with the participants. I think many have actually forgotten that their job is to be the leaders of a faith—-guide the followers in that faith. This is not a put down of the Catholic faith—but I wonder since part of it is “confessing” the sin and being “forgiven” and doing some kind of penance—so many Hail Mary’s or Our Fathers, or something. Since forgiveness is apparently easy to come by—perhaps they feel that their criminal acts are also “forgivable”. As to Christians being the “New Jews”? I figure that is possible. In a way, all religions feel they are The only ONE, and all others are “false” if you will. Over vast years, there have always been religious targets to persecute (Pagans included)…..and now it seems to be the Christians of various denominations in many countries. Why does there always have to be discord among those of “faith?”

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Pagansister, I started to delete this, but decided to leave it. This comment reads like you upended your trash can and dumped out every worn out canard against the faith that was in it. I am not going to bother to discuss all this myself. Maybe someone else will feel like taking them on.
      There are a couple of issues I do want to discuss. First, the newest accusation (emphasize accusation) of sexual misconduct seems to involve adults (at least so far as I know.) Also, just because a cleric is accused of something does not mean they have done it. We had a situation here in Oklahoma a few years ago that proved to be an attempted blackmail rather than a molestation. It happens. Let’s give it a little space and see what comes of it before we try and hang someone. Second, discord is common to all human beings, religious or otherwise. It is a direct result of living in a fallen world. The Scriptures record that the disciples squabbled among themselves right in front of Jesus. That is the human condition.
      As to the other issues you raise, I’ll back off and see what others have to say.

      • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

        It’s not worth anyone’s time. Pagansister, who I like as a person (we’ve had some nice exchanges over the last couple of years), has been commenting on these Catholic blogs for a long time. If she doesn’t know her points are nonsense by now, it’s engrained in her perception. What I can’t understand is with perceptions like that, why they waste their time coming to Catholic blogs. I hardly ever go to other religion’s blogs, and that’s once in a blue moon.

        • pagansister

          Manny, I like you as a person also—and I know you think my comments are nonsense. Perhaps if I read long enough, my “perceptions”will change and I’ll start making sense. :-)

          • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

            Darling, do you know Italy? Do you know the newspaper La Repubblica, from which all these accusations come from? Do you know that that newspaper has been making up false stories about the Church – false, mendacious, untrue, completely and consistently wrong, fraudulent, invented, lying – have I made myself clear? – and has done so for at least a decade? Do you know that its “reporters” are regarded by every sane Vaticanologist as jokes, and that they supply Catholic polemicists with more talking points than they do the opponents of the Church? Do you know that they have no credibility whatever? What? you knew none of these things? Well, now you do.

            • Bill S

              “Do you know the newspaper La Repubblica, from which all these accusations come from? Do you know that that newspaper has been making up false stories about the Church – false, mendacious, untrue, completely and consistently wrong, fraudulent, invented, lying – have I made myself clear? – and has done so for at least a decade?”

              Of course that is what the Vatican and it’s supporters are going to say. Have they been sued for libel? What information was obtained via VatiLeaks? Is the Vatican above the scrutiny of the news media? I think most devout Catholics would say yes.

              I’m not big on tabloids and I think most people know that you have to consider the source. But there had to be more reason for the first Pope in 600 years to resign, especially after the example set by his predecessor.

              • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

                If you had seen him close up, you would have been fearing, as I did, that he might die from one day to the next. He had been next to his friend Pope John Paul in the days of his decline, he had seen him fail and torment himself in the effort to do a work he was no longer able to. You want an explanation? There’s an explanation. Incidentally, he is not the first Pope in 600 years to resign – only the first in 69 years. In 1943, Pope Pius XII wrote and signed, but did not date, an act of abdication. It was intended to come into force if and when the Nazis abducted him. The act was never enacted, but it was regular for all that.
                Of course that is what the Vatican and it’s supporters are going to say. In other words, I am the kind who is going to slander a third party for political advantage. Thank you very much for your view of myself and of other “Vatican supporters”. And now I suggest you go live in Italy, learn Italian, and spend a few decades familiarizing yourself with the country, so you can actually find a reason to contradict me other than your insulting assumptions as to the kind of scoundrel I am.

              • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

                Oh, P.S…..
                It’s not “it’s supporters”. It’s “its supporters”. No apostrophe in the plural, only in the genitive. Maybe this has no relevance to your charges, but I would rather not have my honesty impugned by someone who doesn’t know her own native language’s grammar.

                • Bill S

                  Fabio,
                  I don’t know why my comment was deleted (maybe the comment to be deleted was the duplicate of your comment) but I will try to leave out the objectionable part if I know what it was. The “it’s” was an autocorrect that I missed. Autocorrect is dangerous and makes the most embarrasing mistakes like “when I lost my face”. Actually, that was dictation not autocorrect.

                  First of all, I don’t think you are a scoundrel, just the opposite. You are obviously a good Catholic. If I can remember what I was trying to say, as long as you brought up Pius XII, I read three books about him, one derogatory and two in his support. “Hitler’s Pope” tries to say that Pius could have done more to help the Jews in WWII. However, the next book I read describe Hitler’s plot to abduct the Pope, and the third book was by a rabbi who disagrees with the first book and instead shows how much the Pope did to protect the Jews hiding in Italy.

                  The last thing that I said was that I read a book about Padre Pio, who was my great grandmothers cousin, which claims that he used carbolic acid to make and maintain his wounds. From a strictly scientific standpoint, this would make more sense than a divinely caused stigmata. I hope I haven’t said anything to get deleted again.

                  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

                    Right, but you have to understand that to reject anyone’s witness only because they belong to this or that party is the same as to say that membership of that party obviously makes them scoundrels. Now, as it happens, between the time I wrote that comment and now, one senior Cardinal – Keith O’Brien of Edinburgh – has been forced to resign (rumour says by the Pope himself) – because he had been charged with making homosexual passes at young priests. The charges seem genuine, since the apparently come from no less than four different priests, and it would take quite a good conspiracy to get four people to perjure themselves. At any rate, if you had said simply that there are rumours of active homosexuals in senior positions, I would have been the last person to contradict you; I know too much. It’s just that taking the hostile spin of La Repubblica for gospel truth is very naive. These are people who regard it as their patriotic duty to do anything they can to uproot the Church and its influence from Italian soil. There is a lot of history behind this, which I don’t have the time to set out, but take it from me, no Vatican story sourced from La Repubblica and its smaller helpers is worth its weight in soot.

              • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

                Oh, P.S…..
                It’s not “it’s supporters”. It’s “its supporters”. Maybe this has no relevance to your charges, but I would rather not have my honesty impugned by someone who doesn’t know her own native language’s grammar.

              • Theodore Seeber

                If you aren’t big on tabloids, then why is it every post you make contains information from the tabloids?

                • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

                  Such as? You perhaps think that I got my information on the political situation in 490AD from the tabloids. Or my views about death and eternal life. Please quote one passage in which I have quoted “the tabloids”. I happen to be an Italian with family in Rome, and a historian with a certain acquaintance with Church history. Those are my main sources. But if the only sources you can recognize in my letters are tabloids, that tells not about my reading, but about yours.

                  • Bill S

                    Fabio, Ted’s comment was directed at me, not you.

        • Mike

          COULDN’T AGREE MORE! Why bother? If you’re so convinced you’re right why waste your time? I think it says more about their supposedly ironclad convictions that there’s no God/the RCC is EVIL than it does either about God or the RCC. They protestech too much!

          • Bill S

            I’m always interested in finding people who can convince me that I am wrong. Especially about God and the RCC.

      • pagansister

        Rebecca, I know it seems that I was “dumping” as you called it. I was merely writing what I felt after reading the article. I did realize when I mentioned the “men’s group” above that it was probably only adults, if indeed the story is true. I have always realized that not all accusations brought by some are true—but unfortunately many have proven to be so. Isn’t it possible that in an organization as large and old and with as many layers, that things can go far off the path, if you will? Human beings are fallible. I’m sure you wonder about my comment on confessions and forgiveness, even if you chose not to comment on it. When I was teaching in the Catholic elementary, I heard one of the teachers explaining to a group of older children that even those that murder can be forgiven…..I have a hard time with that, just as I have a hard time with those that molest children. To me, as a human being, who is by no means perfect in any way, I can’t deal with forgiving a child molester or those that take pleasure in killing others. (broad area, not for here). Obviously there are those that mistreat children in other places beside the Catholic church—my daughter-in-law was molested by her step-father, —so that horrible activity happens in other places that are supposed to be “safe” for children. Sorry to have written so much, again. You naturally have the right to remove this if you wish, but you will have read it. To use a cliche—some of my best friends are Catholic. If I was so opposed to it’s beliefs, I wouldn’t have stayed 10 years teaching in the Catholic school. My teaching career ended there as I retired with my husband.

        • Bill S

          I don’t like the fact that priest’s think they can do what some of them have done and just confess it to another priest and be forgiven either. But I will say one thing about forgiveness and reforming people who do bad things. When I was riding high in my faith around 2009, I accompanied a friend from my men’s group (different kind of men’s group) to a prison where we led the rosary with the inmates. Although I myself no longer believe, it is amazing how faith can transform lives. I struggle with the idea that the world really is better off if people who would otherwise do wrong have faith. I’m impressed that you taught at a Catholic school and am surprised that you are old enough to retire, as am I but not yet. I have my own environmental consulting business. Just me. (No employees that I would have to provide contraception coverage for.)

          • Andrew Goddard

            An ant that doesn’t believe someone is about to step on him still gets stepped on.

          • pagansister

            Yes, Bill, I’m a retired woman. We were able to retire at 60, and due to my husband’s health, it wasn’t too soon. He worked for the same company for 33 years, and was smart enough to put away plenty of money with the company’s plan over that time and though we aren’t rich, we are comfortable in our retirement. I had a small amount from teaching to contribute. As to teaching at the Catholic elementary. Those were very happy years, as I taught with some great teachers. The school is still open, but many of the other Catholic schools in the city have closed.

          • midwestlady

            If you no longer believe, I have no idea why you care whether you have “No employees that I would have to provide contraception coverage for.” You might be happier if you tried being consistent and logical once in a while.

            • Bill S

              That was a joke, midwestlady, just a joke.

        • midwestlady

          This is another of our problems. We have to quit hiring non-practicing Catholics to work for us. If we can’t run our schools and apostolates with our own people, then we have no business running them. Period.

          • midwestlady

            Nah, let’s just require that they be on the books, and that they show up at mass once a week. That’d be a start.

          • Mike

            YES! Catholic schools sold for 3o pieces of silver.

            • pagansister

              Catholic school without enough students to keep them open financially, Mike. Even though the pay is lousy, teachers have to be paid too, as well as the upkeep of the building. The school I taught in was built 90 plus years ago. Some in the city were a lot newer –build in the 1960′s. Many of the churches were being closed too—not enough priests to full the positions. Such in life.

              • pagansister

                I taught in Providence, RI. Very Catholic area.

                • pagansister

                  Rebecca, didn’t you ask me what part of the country I taught in? Or am I losing my mind (which is possible). Now I don’t see your question—and my answer above makes no sense where it is. :-)

                • Theodore Seeber

                  While the East Coast has many practical cultural Catholics like our friend Bill S, I would not call it a “Very Catholic Area” at all. It is an area where much Americanism has attacked the Church.

                  • pagansister

                    Have you ever been to RI, Theodore?

                    • midwestlady

                      Are you trying to tell me all of Rhode Island is orthodox Catholic, even yourself, “pagansister,” and other non-Catholics? ROFLOL. Not really. There are actually plenty of religions in Rhode Island and plenty of atheists, just like everyplace else.

                    • Bill S

                      Roger Williams went to Rhode Island to get away from people who think that they have the only true religion and that everyone should live by its teachings.

                    • midwestlady

                      The bit about Roger Williams and religious plurality in Rhode Island is actually true. But Rhode Island has been through a lot since then, just like everyplace else. I wouldn’t bet that they are really any different now than anyplace else with respect to the practice of religion or the lack thereof. You have to realize that Williams founded Providence Plantations in Rhode Island in about 1640, and there were really no Catholics there then. In addition, his stance was largely the product of a big feud with the Baptist colonists in neighboring areas. This was 1640 and he had absolutely no intention of condoning irreligion, atheism or agnosticism. This was a skirmish over which version of Protestant Christianity was correct.

                    • pagansister

                      Additional info. for you, midwestlady—-The official name of the state is : Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. There was a group in the state that wanted the name to just be Rhode Island, and eliminate the words “Providence Plantations”. This occurred while we lived there. Fortunately they lost and the name has stayed with all the words.

                    • pagansister

                      Nope, not trying to tell you all of RI is orthodox Catholic even me, midwestlady. However I do realize the entire state has plenty of different religions, a nice variety. “ROFLOL”. Happy to have given you a bit of humor. Beautiful country and people.

                  • pagansister

                    Theodore—-The East Coast is a great place—-and living there for 18 years was indeed super. Yes, they think differently —-

              • midwestlady

                Goes right along with the decrease in Catholic population in non-Hispanic areas of the country. Did you know that, on average, 10.1% of the United States is now ex-Catholic? (Pew Reports)

                • pagansister

                  Have you ever asked why there is a decrease in the non-Hispanic areas of Catholics, midwestlady?

          • pagansister

            midwestlady: In the case of the schools that were being closed, it wasn’t for lack of teachers, it was for lack of students, as I mentioned to Mike. If it makes you feel any better, I was one of two non-Catholics that were teaching in the school I retired from. The rest of the lay teachers were Catholic. The principal was fully aware I wasn’t Catholic when I was hired. For the first half of my 10 years there were 2 nuns—one was in her 70′s (and had graduated from that elementary school) and the other was in her 40′s. The one in her 40′s moved to another state to work there with her Order, and the late 70′s nun retired due to health reasons.

  • http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/ Manny

    We may very well be, though it’s a different situation between the middle east and in western countries. I can speak for my country, and while I believe our freedoms may slowly be reduced and we’ll have to swallow the complete secular pill and violate our conscience or else perhaps live in some sort of ghetto, I don’t think they will persecute us physically. Nonetheless, I could be wrong, so don’t give up your guns. ;)

  • Bill S

    What I was trying to say in my comment that was deleted is that the persecution of Christians by Muslims is caused by intolerance. In a non-violent way Christians are also intolerant of other beliefs. It’s all about every religion thinking it is the one true faith and that other religions pose a threat. We need more religious tolerance and secularism to maintain a peaceful coexistence.

    • midwestlady

      Christianity has inherent truth claims. There’s no way around this except leaving the faith. The problem with that is that some people have a lot of trouble dealing with that inescapable fact.

      • Bill S

        Was that inerrant or inherent? That Christianity has either is not a fact, and it is far from inescapable. I guess if you mean that they are just claims of being such, I can agree with that.

        • midwestlady

          Christianity makes truth claims, and not just any old truth claims, but absolute truth claims. The source of these claims is divine revelation and these claims are held to be non-negotiable. This has been the case since the ancient Christians were thrown to lions for not worshipping in the cult of the Caesars of Rome.

          You may not believe the absolute truth claims of Christianity. Some people don’t. Those people are not Christian.

          • pagansister

            IMO, nothing that is “absolute”.

            • midwestlady

              Just a few: Christ is the Son of God. God is a Trinity, three persons in one God. Christ died for your sins and rose from the dead. Scripture contains revelation. All of these have been understood as absolute truths for the last 2000 years by the Catholic Church.

              • pagansister

                Yes, midwestlady, the things you mentioned are, for you, and many Christians , absolute. Then again, a lot of the world isn’t Christian, and have other “absolutes”. Makes for a very varied world—which is IMO, is a very good thing.

            • Kurt

              Your opinion and $1.50 will get you a (small) cup of coffee.

    • Mike

      NO! No secularism, we’ve had enough Soviet secularism and Nazi secularism to last a life time. People must be free to follow their consciences. That is the basis of prosperity and peace.

      • Bill S

        You don’t know what I mean by secularism. In a secular society people are of course free to follow their conscences. All people, not just those of any particular faith. Please don’t bring up the Soviet and the Nazis as examples of secularism. We are a secular nation. Look at us, not them.

        • Theodore Seeber

          I look at the United States, and the only difference I see is that we’ve named our camps “Planned Parenthood” instead of “Auschwitz”. God save us, I do NOT feel free to be pro-life in the United States any more.

          • pagansister

            Oh Please, Theodore—really? Auschwitz? You are free to not have an abortion, and you are free to disagree. If indeed you had had any experience in “Auschwitz” you would have had the freedom to stay quiet and do as you were told—if you survived at all.

            • Oregon Catholic

              I don’t think you get his analogy. It’s the unborn children who are being killed in the new “Auschwitz”, not Ted Seeber or pagansister, and they definitely don’t get a choice of whether they go in or come out alive.

              I think his analogy is immensely profound and I admit I had not thought of it in those terms before but I do now.

              • pagansister

                OC, I totally got his analogy.

            • midwestlady

              In Nazi Germany, one was free to pretend not to notice the disappearance of their neighbors and co-workers. “Good people” were free to ignore the Kristallnacht and many, many people did. People did not want to believe it was happening; they thought maybe it was just an isolated incident and then another one, and yet another. They waited so long to say something that finally they couldn’t do much about it until the war ended. And then everyone paid. Germany was devastated.

  • Oregon Catholic

    Rebecca, I agree. I am so sick of what our hierarchy has done to destroy the moral authority of the Church at a time when the world needs it so badly. I was thinking the other day about Bishop Sheen and how he had one of the most popular TV shows in the 50s, teaching about Catholic morality, and he was adored and quoted by non-Catholics as well as Catholics. Even though many people may have disliked the Church, he was able to explain Catholic morality in a way that even non-Catholics could agree with.

    IMO, the only thing that will restore moral authority to the Church is a very public, painful, embarassing, and most of all a very transparent house cleaning at all levels. I’m just not at all sure anyone in this current crop of bishops and cardinals has the courage or even the desire to see it happen. IMO many of them still don’t get the damage they have done or the anger that is boiling over. Some people, including some on Patheos, have wondered if the pope read some of his Twitter feed and got a very rude awakening about the vast hatred and anger that is out there and realized what the Church is really up against and it led in part to his resignation. I think some (most?) of the hierarchy are so surrounded by deferential yes-men and chancery staff who control the flow of information that they are largely clueless.

    My prayer most nights is asking Jesus to take up His whip and clean out the Church like he did the temple. And I ask for the courage to bear the pain and shame and not give up.

    • Sus

      Yeah! Another comment that I agree with, Oregon Catholic.

    • pagansister

      Yes, OC, the hierarchy in the Church has done a fine job of messing things up—-and needs a total cleaning from top to bottom. Maybe the new pope will start doing that—–hopefully. Decades of coverups and deceit will take a while to clean up.

    • Theodore Seeber

      The key word there to me is “TRANSPARENT”. I have an opportunity to meet our new archbishop this spring. I plan to ask him to open the Called to Protect program to any Knight of Columbus or Catholic Daughter who wishes to take this highly important anti-abuse training.

      New processes have been instituted to protect children and punish abusers. We need to shout the existence of such programs from the rooftops and make sure *EVERY* member of the parish has the opportunity to take the training.

    • midwestlady

      It’s not only the hierarchy either. It’s all the Catholics who refuse to pay attention to what the Vatican says about liturgical laws, who refuse to learn their catechisms and learn what the Church really teaches, who refuse to give up their precious “reproductive services” and who fail to show up at mass weekly. The whole thing needs a good house-cleaning and we have to decide how serious we really are. It’s put up or shut up time.

      • Jack

        You can also start by throwing out all the “Christian” bloggers at Patheos who support everything and the kitchen sink.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          I don’t agree at all. One of the great things about blogging at Patheos is that we are all free to say what we think. That means that some of us will always offend somebody out there. I seem to make quite a few people angry. But that leads to better, more thoughtful debate. If someone doesn’t like a certain blog, all they have to do is not read it.

          • pagansister

            Well said, Rebecca. I left another “religious” site, after Deacon Greg moved to Patheos. He no longer takes comments but is still full of information daily.

          • midwestlady

            Everything is not debate. Debate implies that everything is up for grabs. There is a place for debate and a place for teaching. They’re not the same things.

            • pagansister

              True.

            • pagansister

              midwestlady, there is always room for debate—-which can also lead to a bit of teaching.

  • http://apocalypseicons.wordpress.com Constantina

    Maybe we should just be like the sun and simply shine and continue to work on ‘being’ and ‘loving’; reconnecting with our joy and doing the best we can each day with those around us.
    Mordecai had a vision of his niece, Esther, who appeared like a small stream that became a river which saved the entire nation of the Jews from destruction. God has it all in His hands, we can do more by ‘being’. Let’s not despair.

    • midwestlady

      Denial isn’t only a river in Egypt.

  • http://fpb.livejournal.com/ Fabio P.Barbieri

    Frankly, I disagree. There has never been a period in history – and I say this as a historian – in which good Churchmen did not feel that they were fighting with their backs to the wall and the odds against them. Certainly the condition of the Church today is not comparable to 490 AD, when the Eastern Roman Empire was possessed by the Monothelite schism, the Western successor states were all in the grip of Arianism, Egypt and Syria favoured Monophysitism, the Persian East was dominated by Nestorianism, and not one Christian polity supported the Church and the Pope of Rome. No Pope is in danger of the fates of St.Martin I, ST.Gregory VII, Pius VI – all dead in exile in the grip of their enemies. The Church will not see such a day as May 6, 1527, when a rabid army of Lutheran fanatics stormed the city, settling there for eight months and butchering in ways that their Nazi descendants might possibly have found over the top, while 186 Swiss Guards gave their lives to allow the Pope to escape. Nor will it see again a year like 1799, when, with the Pope dead in a French jail, a rabble of some twenty surviving Cardinals somehow managed to meet, not in Rome, but in Venice, under the contemptuous and dangerous protection of the Habsburg Emperor – a power scarcely less anti-clerical than the French Revolutionaries themselves – and nominate Pope Pius VII, who was shortly to be imprisoned in turn. That does not mean that we don’t have to fight for the Church; of course we do. But let us keep things in proportion. If you ask any historian what was the peak of Papal power and influence, they are likely to answer, the twelfth century, and the papacy of Innocent III. Now think about this: when Innocent had to make up his mind about the unpopular and possibly subversive beggar movement of Francis of Assisi, he had a dream in which he saw the whole Church as a crumbling building, with only the ragged man from Umbria holding it up and preventing it from collapsing. That was how the subconscious of the mightiest of Popes told him his Church was like: a crumbling ruin, that only a beggar from the hills of Unbria could rescue. As the Latin saying says, Ecclesia semper reformanda – the Church is always in need of reform.

    • pagansister

      Ditto to Bill S. comment, Fabio. Interesting history.

    • midwestlady

      Yes. This is one of the biggest problems we have as Americans. We have a picture of Catholicism that looks like a Bing Crosby movie and we have no idea of history. Catholics have faced worse, much worse. But it is necessary to persevere and have some spine and some faith to do these things. It’s also necessary to insist that our leaders have some spine, and it’s necessary to tolerate the way that looks to the American eye, too. Catholicism is a very old religion and it’s universal. It’s not only about us.

  • Bill S

    Wow, Fabio. That was awesome. In my faithful years, one of my favorite movies was “Brother Sun, Sister Moon”. Francis of Assisi was everything that today’s Church hierachy is not. The Fransiscans are doing great things in Boston. They run a worker’s chapel at the Shrine of Saint Anthony and a shelter for the homeless. We have a Fransiscan Cardinal Archbishop O’Malley who has done an incredible job of addressing the scandals.

    Padre Pio is my great grandmother’s cousin. I’ve read a book about him that accuses him of using carbolic acid to inflict the stigmata on himself. Since there is no better scientific explanation, I feel compelled to believe it.

    • Theodore Seeber

      If that is the best scientific explanation you can come up with for Stigmata, then I for one am sad for science.

      Fingernails work far better than carbolic acid. And OCD is an equally scientific explanation. Says the autistic who doesn’t bear the wounds of Christ, but *does* bear the wounds of a malfunctioning nervous system to the point that he’s scared to go into a public pool.

      • Bill S

        The pharmacy has claimed that he was purchasing the acid and asking them not to tell anyone. He said it was to sterilize needles for vaccinations. Sad to say, since he was a relative.

        Sorry to hear about your condition. I had no idea. You are very intelligent and I hope all goes well for you.

        • Theodore Seeber

          I’ve lived with it for 40 years, I can easily live with it for another 40. It’s embarrassing, nothing more (there isn’t even any pain when I bleed anymore, most of the time, which of course, is a huge part of the issue).

  • SteveP

    Rebecca, you write, “If we are going to turn back this tide of Christian-bashing bigotry, we must do it now, before it gets stronger.”

    This is going to be difficult. How can one influence the heart of those who burn their own children as medical waste?

    • Mike

      There is no cure for that except Love and hope and beauty and faith, but NOT arguments, not arguments.

      • midwestlady

        Decency also is crucial. When a person loves with the love of faith, then they grow in virtue. The two are inseparable, such that virtue is the only gold standard for determining what holiness is. (John of the Cross)
        To that point, you don’t expect the mess we found in 2001 in the priesthood in Boston and pretty much everyplace else, it turns out (Ireland, Germany, England, you name it). These men were supposed to be giving spiritual advice to exactly whom? To which I can only say, you can ‘t give what you haven’t got.

  • midwestlady

    I’m Catholic; a convert. If Catholics want to stop the tide of Catholic-bashing, then they’d better clean up their act. That’s the only way. People see what we say and they see what we do, and so, so often they’re two different things. We have been living on a legacy for years and the bill has finally come due. People don’t believe the Bing Crosby movies anymore.

    For instance: All the talk about love, that we’re constantly engaging in, has turned out to have a sex abuse punch line for many people observing the Church from outside. This won’t do. It doesn’t compute. It’s not believable. HEll, it’s not even believable from INSIDE the Church. We have got to get it out into the open and STOP this madness, whatever it takes.

    And another example–we’ve got PLENTY of them– if we’re going to have a big hissy fit in public about being required to purchase abortion services, then by golly, we’d better not be using them like we have been in the past. Currently Catholics use these services at about the same rates as the general population and we deny it but we do it. It’s a contradiction and the general population is now aware of it. The jig is up. We either do as we say we should or shut up. Period. That’s where we are. And until we get this straight, we’re going to hear about it. And you can count on that.

  • midwestlady

    No, accordingly the time has come for Catholics to act like Catholics, and history will take its course as it always has in the past.

    Pagans have always made foolish noise and they always will; I expect nothing less from them. They don’t practice what they preach either.

    • pagansister

      No one is perfect, midwestlady, no matter what faith they associate with.

      • midwestlady

        No one’s asking for perfection, pagansister. Actual membership in the Church, however, should be a basic requirement for those expected to teach in its schools.

        • Bill S

          “Actual membership in the Church, however, should be a basic requirement for those expected to teach in its schools.”

          That’s foolish, midwestlady. Other than religion (which atheists know better than most Catholics), what subject would pagansister not be able to teach just as well if not better than a Catholic teacher with the same level of training in that subject?

          • Rebecca Hamilton

            Actually Bill, (and no offense to Pagansister) I think those who teach in Catholic schools should be faithful Catholics. If I was a parent paying my good money for tuition to a Catholic school, I would consider anything else to be false advertising.

            As for atheists knowing religion better than most Catholics, not that I can see. The atheist understanding of religion that I’ve encountered has been propaganda laced with arrogance and rudeness and not much else.

            • pagansister

              No offense taken, Rebecca. And believe it or not, I’m not an atheist. :-)

          • midwestlady

            We should not be employing non-Catholics in the Church.

        • pagansister

          When I was called by the principal to schedule an interview, I told her I wasn’t Catholic and she was fine with it. She never had a problem with it. I had the teaching credentials and the experience, and as I said, it most certainly wasn’t a secret in the school that I wasn’t Catholic. The school had a monthly children’s mass during the day—-and it was obvious that I didn’t receive communion. Parents on occasion attended the children’s mass. No one ever asked me what church I belonged to—actually one did. I told her I was a UU. That was the only time anyone brought it up. In fact, the principal never did ask me what church/faith I was. One other teacher wasn’t Catholic either—not sure what Christian church she belonged to. I never had a problem teaching the little ones (K) their prayers (as I knew some of them anyhow) or any of the Church teachings. No problem whatsoever. The pay was lousy, the atmosphere and faculty—the best. My other teaching experiences had been in public schools—which were larger and paid better. I most certainly didn’t stay for 10 years for the salary. The single teachers usually had another job, due to the pay.

          • pagansister

            Addition to above—when I told the person I was a UU, that was the truth.

          • midwestlady

            Just because it often happens this way doesn’t mean it should. It’s just bad management and short-sightedness when it does happen. And Rebecca is right. When parents pay for Catholic schools, they should get Catholic teachers teaching in a Catholic atmosphere. That’s what they believe they are paying for in most cases.

            • pagansister

              midwestlady, the children I was teaching were getting Catholic teachings from me as well as the other teachers, in a very Catholic atmosphere. One actually doesn’t have to be Catholic to teach the faith—-and as previously mentioned, by me, in other places—if I had a problem with teaching them their religion, I wouldn’t have applied to teach there in the first place, and I wouldn’t have stayed. Apparently the powers that were in charge at that time didn’t find any problem with me or I wouldn’t have been hired or been rehired for 10 years—until I retired. So, perfect or not—-that was the way it was and may still be in some Catholic schools. No experience with others.

  • http://www.patheos.com Deacon Tom

    After reading through this thread, I note serious misunderstandings, or lack of understanding, about the teachings of the Catholic Church (CC) and the nature of the human condition. The CC, not the world, recognizes the fallen condition of humanity. As Father Longenecker pointed out in a post today, the CC calls us to the highest standards and offers a way of mercy when we fail. The CC teaches that our creator is a God of mercy and justice. Serious sin, horrific sin, even child sexual abuse and murder, can be forgiven by the power of Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation. But God’s mercy is joined with his justice, and we cannot presume to know how His mercy and justice play out in salvation. But the CC also teaches that sin has consequences and the common good may require a sinner (read criminal) must accept the consequences (Prison perhaps) for the sin and seek to remedy the harm caused by the sin. Going to confession in the sacrament of reconciliation is not some kind of get-out-of-jail-free card. There has always been and there will always be sin in the CC. Jesus entrusted his Church to Peter the Rock and the rest of the apostles, all sinners, all human, all fallen. It is very hurtful and often scandalous, when anyone in leadership positions, especially those bishops, priest and deacons ordained to serve the CC, violate the trust placed in them and hurt the body of Christ. The promise Jesus made to Peter the Rock and the apostles was NOT that they would be sinless or that we would be a Church without sinners. Peter and his successors have a charism to teach without error on matters of faith and morals, not that they would always act without committing sin.
    I think a point well-taken by Rebecca and Father Longenecker in his post today is that a world with low or essentially no standards for right and wrong are so quick to assume the worst, without proof, and seek to toss the teachings of the CC because some of its clergy (What a “shocking revelation” NOT per Father Dwight) can’t live up to them.
    Reminds me when some parents proposed that my daughter’s high school just set up an open bar at the prom because some kids were going to go out and engage in underage drinking anyway–yeah sure!

    • Oregon Catholic

      But like I pointed out on Fr. Longenecker’s blog too is that the hierarchy threw gas on the media’s fire by trying to hide their own sins, and by violating their own moral authority, and now they have gotten burned by it. IMO they have given society a further excuse to reject Catholic morality. The one thing the world will not tolerate is a hypocrite who denies they are one. And this is why I feel satan, not just fallen human nature, is very much involved in the scandals because the ramifications of the sins of our clergy is just so huge. I read someone else say, and I agree, that it is actually a back-handed compliment to our clergy that people, including the media, have been so outraged. It is because the clergy really were allowed their moral authority and when that authority was betrayed it generated an anger that a betrayal by a lesser authority would never do. The clergy really do have a grave responsibility, and although human too, should expect to be held to a higher standard and live up to it.

  • Bill S

    ” Serious sin, horrific sin, even child sexual abuse and murder, can be forgiven by the power of Christ in the sacrament of reconciliation.”

    Deacon Tom: You shouldn’t say that. You have to be forgiven by your victim if you want to truly be forgiven. Confessing to a priest is the lazy way out of your responsibility to make amends for the wrongs that you do to others. And no one should aid and abet abusers and tell them that they can be forgiven without paying their debt to society.

    “Peter and his successors have a charism to teach without error on matters of faith and morals, not that they would always act without committing sin.”

    This infallibility thing is nonsense. Nice of the evangelist to provide this perk to the successors of Peter but there is no way that such an idea could have any merit.

  • Bill S

    “You may not believe the absolute truth claims of Christianity. Some people don’t. Those people are not Christian.”

    And…?

    Would you agree that Jewish laws apply to Jews, Islamic laws apply to Muslims and Christian morals apply to Christians and that none of them should impose their rules on others?

    • midwestlady

      We’re not talking about laws here, Bill S. We’re talking about different accounts of what various religions think is the truth–only one of which will be closest to the real truth–the real truth being what is, in fact, the case. Something is the case, rather than nothing being the case which is impossible.

      Something really is the case, Bill, and you really believe that or you wouldn’t be arguing your own version of what you think it is.

      But I hear you saying, loud and clear: “There is no truth, and that’s the TRUTH, damn it!” You make me laugh. Listen to yourself when you say these things.

      • Bill S

        Midwestlady,
        Oh, there is a truth alright. I know what the truth is and it involves the basis for Christianity. Everyone is so sure that they are the ones with the truth, but the fact of the matter is that most of them have to be wrong. There is only one truth.

        I will give you a hint: Nothing that breaks a law of nature can be true. Think about it. If scientists ever discovered and proved one instance of the laws of nature being violated, it would make world news. People who believe that these laws can be suspended do not have the truth.

        • Rebecca Hamilton

          Bill, scientists modify their understanding as to what these “laws” mean all the time, as their knowledge of them grows. The “laws” of science of which you are so proud are just as much a creation of the Lord God’s as you and I are. They do not refute His existence. In fact, if you look at them as the beautiful things they are, they seem to point to Him. The same God Who made these laws can suspend them as He wills, or, as it may be, they simply are not what we think they are in our present state of ignorance. That is called a miracle, precisely because it is outside our understanding of these laws.

          Do you have something other to add to these discussions besides just repeating the same ad hominem attacks on Our Lord, the Church and believers over and over?

          • Bill S

            “The “laws” of science of which you are so proud are just as much a creation of the Lord God’s as you and I are. They do not refute His existence. In fact, if you look at them as the beautiful things they are, they seem to point to Him.”

            You may be right about that. But then it wouldn’t be the same God that we find in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition and it wouldn’t be a “He” it would be an it. It would be the intelligence from which we get the laws of nature, the Big Bang, and the creation of life. It wouldn’t have a Chosen People. It would not have a son who would be sacrificed to it to redeem humans from a sin committed by mythological characters. It would not get involved in morality or the day to day activities on an obscure planet. It would be a totally different God. One that our present religions would not recognize.

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              There is no reason why what you are saying here is true, except that you want it to be true. The scriptures themselves say, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

              The fact that God made everything, everywhere, including the laws of physics and mathematics, does not in any way preclude Him from being a personal God who loves you and me.

              “You may be right about that. But then it wouldn’t be the same God that we find in the Judeo-Christian-Muslim tradition and it wouldn’t be a “He” it would be an it. It would be the intelligence from which we get the laws of nature, the Big Bang, and the creation of life. It wouldn’t have a Chosen People. It would not have a son who would be sacrificed to it to redeem humans from a sin committed by mythological characters. It would not get involved in morality or the day to day activities on an obscure planet. It would be a totally different God. One that our present religions would not recognize.”

              • Bill S

                “There is no reason why what you are saying here is true, except that you want it to be true.”

                Just the opposite is true. That statement could just as easily apply to you as to me. I gain nothing by it being true. I admit that the world has been better off because of Christian faith. I happen not to believe it based on reason and logic.

                • Rebecca Hamilton

                  Bill, you are the one who is claiming that there is no God because of the laws of science, not me.

        • midwestlady

          Bill, now you’ve barked up the wrong tree. I’m a working research chemist with US patents to prove it. Those so-called “scientific laws” are only very well-supported theories, which means they’re different epistemologically from the contents of revelation. And if you knew anything about either theology, real science or the philosophy & history of science, you’d know that. If you want to talk about how scientific theories work, get up to speed first and don’t embarrass yourself.

          • Bill S

            “I’m a working research chemist with US patents to prove it.”

            Then you know how reliable those theories are. You know that the law of gravity has never and will never be violated. This would dispel the revelation of the ascension and the assumption. I don’t believe in revelation. I don’t accept anything offered by theology and very little from philosophy. I don’t think I am embarassing myself at all. I’m just stating my doubts about what you accept as Gospel Truth.

            • Rebecca Hamilton

              How does the fact that the “laws of science” as you characterize them, are reliable “prove” or even indicate for that matter, that there is no God? It would seem to me to be the contrary.

  • Bill S

    “How does the fact that the “laws of science” as you characterize them, are reliable “prove” or even indicate for that matter, that there is no God? It would seem to me to be the contrary.”

    Contrary to hardcore atheist who vehemently dismiss the concept of intelligent design and wrongfully refer to it as repackaged creationism, which cannot be taught in public schools, I do define my God as the intelligent designer but I don’t make it a person. Why does it have to be a person, three persons in one, our father, etc. ?

    To you, god is our Heavenly Father. Freud has identified that as a psychological fulfillment of a need that we feel from our infancy on. To me it is wishful thinking. My God isn’t a he or a she and doesn’t micromanage. That’s what we have the laws of nature for.

    • Rebecca Hamilton

      Bill, if I decide to define Bill S as a cupcake, that won’t make you dough and sugar icing. It’s the same with God. He is real. How you “define” him changes nothing except you and your life. You don’t seem to be all that happy with your choices, btw.

  • Joeglocken Rightjustice

    With all due respect to Rabbi Alderstein and respecting his question could be from another source manipulating towards a Political agenda.
    The christian pro Israeli groups come to mind here.


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