By William H. Slavick
The Times Record
Friday, August 13, 2010
The Vatican has been generous with censures and excommunications since the John Paul II-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger duo took up residence and initiated what Cape Town Bishop Kenneth Dowling recently described as “‘restorationism.’”
Dowling goes on to define that term as “the carefully planned dismantling of the theology, ecclesiology, pastoral vision, indeed the ‘opening of the windows’ of Vatican II — in order to ‘restore’ a previous, or more controllable model of Church through an increasingly centralized power structure ... which now controls everything in the life of the church.”
Key to that control is maintaining the monarchical celibate patriarchy, even by denying the Eucharist to half of the Church — which, from a pastoral viewpoint, is indefensible.
Essential to that end has been Vatican rejection of the worldwide move toward equality for women, manifest in its demanded changes in a U.S. bishops’ pastoral on women that led to it being abandoned.
The Vatican responded to calls for ordination of women with mumbo jumbo that women cannot image Jesus and that the Church lacks permission to ordain women. But women served among Jesus’ following as evangelists, presided at the Eucharist in early centuries, were bishops in Italy and Ireland and ordained to serve Cold War Czech prisoners. Scripture offers no bar to their ordination.
For lack of a convincing case, Pope John Paul II ordered that discussion cease.
As women have despaired of Vatican intransigence and been ordained by accommodating Roman Catholic and Old Catholic bishops, the excommunication machinery has cranked into high gear. Now the Vatican declares any role in the ordination of women a grave mortal sin against the sacrament, meriting the same judgment process as child sex abuse.
Unfortunately, too many Catholics are still conditioned to pray, pay and obey. Too few appreciate that the dismantling of Vatican II is lawless: Council determinations trump contrary papal, Curia and bishop postures. Unilateral, uncollegial papal decrees denying equality to women are not doctrine.
So the recent and present pope, most Vatican Curia and many bishops are properly liable to censure and excommunication if they do not recant of their restorationist errors — or heresies — and arrogant abuses of authority. Lacking, of course, is a formal juridical authority to excommunicate them!
There is the judgment of the people of God. Cardinal Bernard Law and the Vatican recognized their authority when Law resigned as archbishop of Boston on Dec. 13, 2002 in response to outrage over the coverup of the Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal in his diocese.
So, before more Vatican II faithful have departed — not the Church but this life — they must identify crimes against the supreme Church authority, identify the criminals, present evidence, and call guilty hierarchs to account.
— Council reforms reestablished the Eucharist as a participatory community action, with a priest presiding, not a clerical performance full of pomp and foreign language and with the laity passive witnesses.
— Consequently, allowing the Tridentine rite and supplanting Council regulations for text translation with ignorant, literal renderings of early Latin translations from Greek and Aramaic are lawless usurpations of authority.
— The Eucharist and pastoral care are clearly essential: prioritizing an arbitrary requirement of celibacy (only in the Roman rite, not in Eastern rites) and the male gender for Holy Orders is irresponsible — unchristian — as is subordinating the needs of abuse victims to the Catholic Church’s image. Vatican sexism is, arguably, heresy.
— The Council was clear in distinguishing the realms of church and state, espousing religious liberty, and establishing primacy of informed conscience. Neither popes nor bishops are empowered to set aside those Council determinations in favor of obedience to a pope’s or bishop’s claimed “superconscience.”
— Recent unilateral papal changes in canon law, enforcement provisions and establishment of unprecedented penalties are directly contrary to the Council’s call for collegial decision making.
— The hierarchy’s relative indifference to environmental degradation, denials of human dignity, wars, corporate greed and consequent poverty disrespect the Council call to engage the world.
— Early and medieval popes, the Council of Toledo, and 1059 Synod of Reims declared that no bishop may be recognized who is not chosen by the people — the people of God’s conveniently forgotten veto power over a closed, self-perpetuating patriarchy.
It’s time to muster the people of God to require our supposed teachers’ and pastors’ fidelity to the Gospel and Church teaching.
For starters, how about women rejecting en masse criminalization for pursuing equality in Church ministry?
William H. Slavick posts on MaineCatholicsTogether.blogspot.com and has published extensively in the Catholic press. He is long-time coordinator of Pax Christi Maine.