Apr 29, 2010


This just in from National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC) News (thanks to William Lindsey at Bilgrimage for the link to this at Voice from the Desert Blog)
Received from A. W. Richard Sipe

Pope Benedict XVI is a good man. He has served the Church long and well. It takes nothing away from his goodness to suggest that he should resign his office. Nine of his predecessors have resigned, most for the good of the Church. The clerical sex abuse crisis that now exposes a corrupt pattern and practice of a system has escaped and confused many good, brilliant people and left generations paralyzed. There is no need to point fingers.

However, the Roman Catholic Church is in a period of Reformation as profound (and breathtaking) as any its history has ever recorded. The voluntary resignation of Pope Benedict XVI would be a gesture that would match the epic challenge that faces Catholicism today. Such leadership would break the pattern and practice that holds the church hostage to a past that no longer serves the Christian message. The monarchy that rules the church has outlived its service in the evangelization of peoples, an evangelization that Paul the apostle taught and that Pope John Paul II championed. The People of God, hierarchy included, are shackled by a secret system designed to control rather than free them.

Whether or not Benedict's  resignation is a real possibility in the near future and quite apart from the issue of who might succeed him (Cardinal Levada?), just to see such a statement presented from such a distinguished voice is uplifting indeed. However, I was particularly struck by the following comment/response to the above statement  by Tom Barnes at Voice from the Desert Blog. A bleak and pessimistic statement. to be sure, the conclusion of which I do not share, but sometimes the harsh reality of the situation needs to be presented in it's starkest terms before we get the point. 

With all due respect to a good and decent man, Richard Sipe, we are well beyond the stage now where the Pope’s resignation would mean anything substantial to a world hungering for a Cosmic Christ to take hold, Teilhard de Chardin’s vision of life’s human meaning and Christianity’s purpose. What we actually need is less ‘catholic church’ and more Cosmic Christ. The question is, how do we do that?
Hint: Do not look to me. I have no idea how to implement this. Maybe let the Holy Spirit work in our lives for once?

The Catholic Church has proven itself to be….how shall I say this?….meaningless in the general flow of modern human discourse on values and ethics. It is seen by most educated people on the planet as quaint, trite and perhaps a bit odd. It allows child rape en masse for millenia and then tries to blame the Fourth Estate for the crisis….or it blames ‘modern values’ degeneration…or it blames Protestants or Masons or disenfranchised former Catholics for the problems it is now facing. 

In fact, the Catholic Church and Chrisitanity as a whole is more or less passe. We don’t matter anymore. That is our fault. This was a long time coming. The sex abuse crisis in Catholicism is simply a symptom of deeper problems that probably stem all the way back to the very beginning of the Jesus Movement. Perhaps our time has come….and gone. We have to be open to that possibility.

When we have arrived at the point where children are raped as a matter of course by nuns and priests and brothers and bishops and then evidence is hidden by the powers that be, we have given up all call as a group to anything even resembling holiness. Lets not add hypocrisy to this tragedy.

Lets take a look at ourselves, at Christianity, and see it for what it is: a quaint myth based on Hellenized, apocolyptic Judaism of Second Temple Judaism under the Romans and be open to the possibility that it is a value system that no longer works.

Changing popes won’t change any of this. We need to be realistic.
Tom Barnes

Apr 28, 2010

THEN AND NOW: John McNeill and Joachim of Fiore

Contrast the two following statements: The first is a report of Pope Benedict's address on March 10th of this year.

The Pope’s address to the weekly audience continued the reflections on St. Bonaventure that he had begun the previous Wednesday. In this second talk, the Holy Father concentrated on St. Bonaventure’s response to Joachim of Fiore and the “spiritual” Franciscans, who had taught that a new phase of history was beginning, in which the Church hierarchy would disappear and the enlightened faithful would be guided only by the Holy Spirit.

“St. Bonaventure opposed that error, the Pope observed, and in rebutting it he upheld the true teaching of St. Francis of Assisi. The faithful should not follow radical new teachings, but should recognize that “there is no other Gospel, no other Church to be awaited.” The Franciscans, St. Bonaventure insisted, should work within the structure of the hierarchical Church.

The second reading is from John McNeill's recent posting, Theology of Fallibility Part IV

There is no doubt in my mind that we are at present in a new stage of the collapsing Temple and the emergence of a new form of shepherding. Joachim of Flores in the 13th century saw three stages in the development of God's church. The first was the Church of obedience to the Father, the Church of Israel; the second was the Church of the Son, Jesus, which he identified with the hierarchical Catholic church. He prophesied that there would come the day when the hierarchical church, becoming superfluous, would in time dissolve and in its place would emerge the Church of the Holy Spirit. I believe that time is now.

Ministry in the Church of the Holy Spirit will come from a direct call of the Holy Spirit to any baptized person from within their spiritual self-awareness. The task of authority will be to listen prayerfully to what the Holy Spirit is saying through the people of God. All authority will proceed from the bottom up and not from the top down. Every community should prayerfully discern spirits to select among their members the one whom God is calling to leadership. That individual could be a man or woman, married or single, gay or straight! The Church of the Holy Spirit must become a totally democratic church with no caste system, no higher or lower, totally equal, women with men, gays with straights; everyone possessing the Holy Spirit within them; everyone an authority.

Apr 27, 2010


We should never forget that many of the greatest saints now recognized as saints at one time or another found themselves on the wrong side of the Vatican power structures, in deep trouble with the papacy and church bureaucrats. Heresy, it has been said, is just a matter of timing.

And as your pictures remind us more directly, Jesus himself was no respecter of strict adherence to church law, or respecter of religious authority. Sticking to the more important issues of love, justice and speaking the truth got Him into a great deal of trouble with the clerics of the day - and just see what a difference that has made to religious history. 

Terrence Weldon of Queering the Church

Apr 26, 2010


It should be evident to all that the paternalistic hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church has lost contact with the Spirit of God and is no longer its instrument. The pedophile crisis, the effort of the hierarchy to cover that up and the attitude in the hierarchy that their primary objective is not to convey the message of Christ but to do anything to protect their own power, prestige and wealth has made their very existence idolatrous. The hierarchy as presently constituted is the exact opposite to the movement based on the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that Jesus announced at the last supper.

John McNeil: (an article not to be missed) The Theology of Fallibility Part IV


I was inspired by a Eucharistic celebration this Sunday at the very beautiful baroque church of St. John of Nepomuk on the Rock, a short walk from my apartment. The little church is an exquisite jewel-box of perfect loveliness and gives off an aura of humble pride in it's delicate and ornate artistry. I couldn't find any actual photos of the interior of the church and it's remarkable ceiling, so have contented myself with some shots of the more famous St. Nicholas church in the Mala Strana District of Prague, a rather gaudy maidenly aunt up the road a ways,  completely lacking in her garishness the finesse and restraint of St. John's On the Rock at Paleckeho Namesti. Frescoes of St. John Nepomuk adorn the ceilings in pastels of pink and green, depicting events of his torture by the king's servants and his death by drowning in the Vltava River. Most of these events are now considered legendary, and though the Catholic Encyclopedia defends the historicity of St. John of Nepomuk, more secular historians doubt his existence. Wicked people even go so far as to 'blame' the Jesuits for oh so wickedly concocting the entire legend in order to lead the Czech people away from their growing devotion to the great reformist martyr, Jan Hus, burned at the stake by the Catholic Inquisition for insisting, among other things, that laity and clergy should both partake of bread and wine at the Eucharistic celebration. Hus felt this was a vital practice to restore  in order to  teach the fundamental equality among all Christians, with no clerical caste assuming spiritual supremacy and superiority. It all sounds oh so familiar. He was burnt to a crisp for his views and here we are some hundreds of years later! The naughty slander against the Jesuits is probably unfounded, since the cult of John of Nepomuk, the saintly confessor who refused to break the seal of confession by revealing to the king the identity of the queen's lover, was already widespread by the time of the Jesuits' triumphalist takeover of Catholic culture in Prague in 1620 after the battle of White Mountain. Recent historical investigations have revealed, however,  that no John of Nepomuk was ever the queen's confessor, so out the window goes that legend of 'the martyr of the confessional' (the first in Church history.) However, it also seems clear that the Jesuits did all in their power to further the cult of the 'saintly confessor,' which they inherited, and it's not unfair to say that counteracting the growing  devotion to the saintly and genuine martyr, Jan Hus, was the Jesuits' prime motive. How familiar it all seems. At Sunday's mass, conducted in German for a small, very polite and restrained congregation of fifty, all of us together received the Eucharist under both elements, by tincture, under the watchful gaze of St. John - being tortured on the rack up above us on the ceiling - in delicate pastels of pink, lavender and green.  Was he also watching with a bemused eye the two male altar servers, one a very poised, handsome and self-possessed young man of about twenty-two and the other a fidgety, blond, blue-eyed Aryan boy of twelve as they attended to the grizzled, bearded and very somber celebrant? What thoughts we now have, O Lord,  and how long will they be with us? In any event, it all seemed rather peaceful up there on the ceiling, and perhaps that was St. John's opinion of us down below, on this post Easter morning tincturing our hosts in the sacred wine, all of  us more or less equal together before the Lord and infused with the peace that "passeth understanding."  Yesterday's heresies and crimes have become today's common practices and virtues. There's a lesson in this somewhere. But despite all of the follies of past history and the present turmoil within the church, including the dismaying and rather ugly defense presently underway of a dying and corrupt clerical caste system, one could not deny the palpable sense of peace and sacredness that permeated this beautiful little church on this Fourth Sunday of Easter, a sacred mystery still thriving despite all attempts to sully it or use it in the interests of naked power.
But these ruminations only reminded me of another great monument to Catholic Culture (writ large), the grand basilica of Sacre Coeur in Paris, once the most hated structure in the city after the Eiffel Tower and now the second most recognizable symbol of Paris after la Tour Eiffel. (to be continued with reflections on the Paris Commune of 1871, the erection of Sacre Coeur by the reactionary Catholic hierarchy as both a guilt offering and symbol of celebration for the defeat of the working class revolutionaries, the essence of Triumphalist Catholic Culture, and the fact the Eucharist has been 'exposed' at Sacre Coeur without interruption since 1885, or one hundred and twenty five years.)

Apr 25, 2010


It is such a beautiful spring day today here in Prague and I experienced such a moving and mystical Eucharist this morning at the beautiful little baroque church of St. John of Nepomuk 'On the Rock' behind my house, that it seems a shame to sully the purity of the day with another scandalous tale of sex abuse in the Church. But these stories coming out of India are important in all of their horror and monstrosity because they involve women rather than young boys, and reveal a degree of violence and torture inflicted on women that we have not seen in the cases involving male youth. This, in my opinion, is the real underbelly of the sex abuse scandal, the unholy tale that has yet to be told - the horrendous abuse of nuns by priests that is going to make the abuse of young boys look like kindergarten pranks by comparison (an exaggeration to be sure). What strikes me immediately about these tales, and others like them coming out of Africa,  is the disparity in the level of violence imposed upon female victims in contrast to male victims, as if women are the recipients of a more cynical form of manipulation, domination and contempt. Boys can be  dominated, manipulated, abused...but only up to a certain point, when their sacred maleness protects them from the worst excesses of abuse of women. An editorial generalization on my part, of course, but there it is. I'm reminded of a line from Francis Ford Coppola's Godfather Part III, which he puts into the mouth of the saintly cardinal (modeled on Albino Luciani, Pope John Paul I. "Great goodness always attracts great evil." Indeed. 

For my more positive and more hopeful thoughts of the day,  inspired by this morning's Eucharist, I've written a reflection for the progressive blog Open Tabernacle which I hope to post later today.

from India Today

The sex scandals that have rocked the Roman Catholic Church from the Americas to Europe may have hogged international headlines, but for Kerala, cases of rape and sexual abuse by priests and nuns, and attempts by the church to brush such cases under the carpet, have had a history of recurring as media stories.

Sex is taboo for nuns in all Christian denominations and for priests in most of them. Yet a section violates this rule with impunity, even resorting to murder to silence the voices that may blow the whistle. And in most such cases in Kerala, the church has had no qualms in flexing its financial, religious and political muscles to shield the black sheep from the law of the land. The Sister Abhaya case is a classic example.

According to the CBI, Sister Abhaya, a 17-year-old college student in Kottayam, had inadvertently stumbled upon the tryst of Father Jose Poothrikkayil, Father Thomas Koottoor and Sister Sephy at the St Pius X Convent on March 2, 1992. Apprehensive of the consequences, the trio killed Sister Abhaya, hitting her with an axe on the head and throwing her body in the convent's well. The Church tried its best to hush up the case and succeeded to an extent as it took 16 years for the investigating agencies to make the first arrests-the accused were nabbed on November 19, 2008. Further investigations, however, have hit roadblocks. Even after the arrests, the Church has not stripped the accused of their rights and privileges. On the contrary, it has fought strongly on behalf of the three. Consider this: The copies of the CD of the trio's narco-analysis were mysteriously leaked and shown on television. Again, a crucial prosecution witness, an assistant sub-inspector, was found dead a week after the arrests. And Sister Sephy has moved the Mumbai High Court against the medical finding that her hymen had been surgically re-implanted. Says Jomon Puthenpurcakkal, the activist who has relentlessly fought for justice for Sister Abhaya, "The church uses all its resources to protect its people from any heinous crime. The real world behind its shining walls is a trash pit." 

Yet another case of the church's defence of its violators is that of Father Benedict, a Roman Catholic priest who was arrested in the late 1960s in connection with the murder of a young woman. The local sessions court had awarded him five years' rigorous imprisonment. The Church, however, hired the services of one of the most expensive Supreme Court lawyers then, to argue Father Benedict's case in the High Court. The court acquitted the accused and till he died a few years ago, the Church took care of him. Such instances abound.

Another case, which is almost as well-known as that of Sister Abhaya, is that of the suicide of Sister Anupa Mary, resident of St Mary's Convent, Kollam, on August 11, 2008. Her suicide note stated that she was ending her life due to the sexual harassment she had faced at the hands of a senior nun. In a fit of originality, the convent's mother superior denied the allegation, stating that the nuns slept in a cubicle that was only six-feet high, so it was "impossible" to abuse her sexually.

In yet another shocking incident dating back to October 2008, a 60-year-old nun of the Congregation of Daughters of Mary Convent at Anchal near Kollam had alleged that young nuns from the convents were being forced to have abortions. The nun is now in a mental hospital at Thodupuzha in Idukki district. Her nephew alleges that she has been forcibly admitted to the hospital by the convent authorities. A nun who has gone public with such allegations is Sister Jesme, who quit the holy order after 33 years of service to it to expose the wrongdoings within the church through her book, Amen: The Autobiography of a Nun.

The 53-year-old Jesme, who was the principal of a leading women's college managed by the church, has given explicit details of sexual encounters that nuns face almost daily. She writes in the book: "At a retreat for novices, I noticed that girls in my batch were unsettled about going to the confession chamber. I found that the priest there asked each girl if he could kiss them. I gathered courage and went in. He repeated the question. When I opposed, he quoted from the Bible which spoke of divine kisses." In yet another instance, she discloses: "I was sent to teach plus-two students at St Maria College. There, a new sister joined to teach Malayalam; she was a lesbian. She would come to my bed in the night and do lewd acts and I couldn't stop her.' A recall of a priest's sexual overture towards her is the most shocking: "Back in his room, he tried to fondle me and when I resisted, he got up and asked angrily if I had seen a man. When I said no, he stripped himself, ejaculated and forced me to strip." 

Sister Jesme equates the Church with a greedy father who does not marry off his daughters and does not allow his sons to marry as well. What is disturbing, however, is the Church's defence of acts it prohibits when committed by the upholders of its values and virtues.


Willem Janssen's beautiful spiritual mandalas and paintings can be accessed here at his website: Willem Janssen's Art. 

BIRTH is a sign of inner transformation, a shift in consciousness that manifest externally as rebirth or renewal, the arising of a New Earth. The sign is about the effortless balancing of inner and outer, the removal of resistance and the ending of struggle. These are all aspects of the constant outpouring vibration of Birth.
JOY: This picture of joy represents energies that help dissolve patterns of resistance that are holding us back from experiencing the peace within. It's  high vibrational frequency fosters love, balance, healing, and harmony. 
THE EYE OF CREATION appeared after my morning meditation on January 1st 2007. I see it as the arising of form from the unmanifested Source as well as the continuing presence of the unmanifested at the heart of all things and all beings, what Eckhart calls inner space. The picture represents the world and also your self.

Apr 24, 2010


God took me by the hand and, blindly, I followed… in what seemed the most total darkness, and in the most disconcerting absence of human means, but with unlimited trust in Jesus, Master of the Impossible.

 Magdeleine Hutain, founder of the Little Sisters of Jesus


Apr 19, 2010


We (LGBT Catholics) are being scapegoated by our Church to avoid dealing with its own sins. Many of us in the past interiorized the Church's homophobia, resulting in self-hatred and self-destructiveness. But Jesus' Spirit at some point touched our hearts and freed us from all self-rejection by giving us a clear, undeniable experience that God loves us in our gayness. Our ministry, then, like the former demoniac is to witness to our people all the great things that God in his/her mercy has done for us. Our first task, then, is to prayerfully call in the Holy Spirit to give such an overwhelming experience of God's love that we are healed of all self-hatred and self-rejection and thus rendered immune to the persecution of the institutional church.

taken from John McNeill Theology of Fallibility III

Apr 18, 2010

Apr 17, 2010


 Many thanks to Contemplative Catholic for this important link:

The International Movement We are Church regrets that the fifth anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election is so much tarnished by the deep crisis our Church at present is undergoing. We refer to the world-wide disclosure of sexual abuse scandals and their cover up for such a long time.

"It is not growing secularism that has caused the most profound crisis of our Church, but the inability of the Papacy to read the signs of the time", declares Raquel Mallavibarrena from the Spanish Somos Iglesia, present Chair of the International Movement We Are Church. "The abuse crisis and its concealment are due to an inhumane conception of sexuality and outdated patriarchal power structures. The actual global crisis makes it clear that the clerical hierarchy alone can’t serve any longer as the foundation and justification of the Catholic church's institutional structure and authority."

We are Church appreciates the present activities of the Pope combating paedophilia in the Church. Benedict’s tragedy is caused by the fact that he started it too late, too weakly, and that he is not supported enough by all cardinals, bishops, and the Roman Curia. He is now harvesting the fruits he sowed, when in 2001, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) he ordered all bishops in the universal church to conceal from public authorities any case of sexual crime against minors by members of the clergy and instead to inform his office.

read the rest of the statement here:

Apr 16, 2010

The Holy Mystery in Saint Jacob's and Beyond the Institutional Church

This afternoon, I treated myself to  a lovely lunch at the trendy French Parisian Brasserie, La Provence,  on Stuparska Street in Old Town Prague. Cream of cucumber soup, followed by  salmon trout filet with creamy pumpkin sauce, a small carafe of French white wine, a lemon tart and cappuccino. A very lovely, peaceful experience on a gorgeous if slightly crisp, bright and sunny spring day in Prague. Following that, however, I made a visit to one of my favorite churches in Prague, St. Jacob the Bigger, with its magnificent baroque interior. St. Jacob's has one of the most magnificent old organs of any church in Prague and is frequently used as a concert hall. However, in contrast to the more frequently used Sts. Simon and Jude, which I described two postings ago, St. Jacobs has not been de-consecrated and still harbors the Eucharist and gives off a distinct if delicate aura of holiness and sacredness. By my good fortune, a spontaneous organ concert was underway, most likely a practice session, but the sounds were truly magnificent and a number of pilgrims and tourists were held captive by the glorious strains of Bach and Handel and Petr Eben and Klement Slavický, among those I could recognize. The impromptu concert lasted for about 30 minutes and during that time I felt myself carried away with joy into a place of deep interior silence and peace, touched in the soul both by the music and by the aura of sacredness of this consecrated church. The feeling is distinctly different from the de-consecrated St. Simon and Jude - or is that my imagination, triggered by the knowledge that the Eucharist is reserved in St. Jacob's, but has long fled the scene in Saint Simon and Jude.? Is the feeling purely a figment? Not a bit of it. When I first entered Simon and Jude over a year ago for a concert, I had no idea it had been de-consecrated, I was only aware of a flat and empty feeling - an absence of presence - a decorative empty shell of great beauty and magnificent acoustics - but without that sense of sacred space that characterizes a blessed house of worship. This made me suspect the Eucharist was not reserved, so I looked around in vain for a sanctuary lamp and found none lit, then went outside to talk to the woman at the ticket desk and she informed me that the church had not been used formally for some years, so there was my answer. At some point the Bishop of Prague would have entered the sanctuary and uttered words to this effect:

“Lord God, in your great goodness you once accepted to your honor and glory this building, now secularized. Receive our praise and thanksgiving for the blessings, help, and comfort which you bestowed upon your people in this place."

Back to Saint Jacob's and the delicate sense of sacred presence that a consecrated church seems to emanate - this afternoon I felt immensely grateful for this great gift which the catholic tradition has bestowed upon us and passed onto us down the ages, a gift that outweighs all of the horrific scandals of recent days committed principally by episcopal prelates who dishonor this sacred presence. Be that as it may, the Presence survives within its 'imprisonment' and transcends the very grave limitations of the keepers of the keys of the institution.  And the magnificent baroque interior honors this presence in one particular example of the human creative imagination - expressing through ornate richness the treasure that lies within. However, I also felt that as valuable as the magnificent chamber may be and as grateful as we may be for these beautiful churches and cathedrals that house the Eucharist - they are not absolutely necessary. The Presence survives outside them, within breakaway communities, within the Old Catholic Church, within home Eucharists, where ever 'two or three are gathered in my name.' The institutional church has provided a temporary home and place of worship, but the mystery of sacred Presence that is the Eucharist is not contained or controlled in any absolute sense by the hierarchy and its belief in the absolute power and superiority of the priestly caste and the necessity of an ordination rite that occurs within 'the line of succession'. In these terrible times of scandal with the urgent cries for 'reform,' this to me is the most urgent reform of all - freeing the Eucharistic mystery from ecclesiastical control, because it is this illusion of control that gives the present patriarchal system its illusory sense of power.  Break the illusion of control and we break the stranglehold of power and set the divine mystery free! We will always need structures of some sort and roles of humble leadership in a spirit of service, but the monopoly of power over the sacramental system must be revealed for what it is - an illusion of power that is not Christ like and that is not necessary for a truly catholic celebration of communion in the Spirit of the Crucified and Risen Christ.

Apr 15, 2010

Apr 14, 2010


Last evening I went to the beautiful church of St. Simon and Jude in Prague to hear a stunning concert performance of the Weser Renaissance Ensemble, one of the most sought after ensembles in the world specializing in early 16th and 17th century music. The performance piece was a haunting mass by Flemish composer, Heinrich Isaac, entitled Missa Paschalis, and the ensemble consisted of one counter tenor, two tenors, one baritone and one bass accompanied by a coronet and four trombones. I felt completely carried back to an earlier time in history and into a rare and wonderful sacred space conjured up by the rich polyphonic music. It reminded me very poignantly of how rich the Catholic spiritual tradition has been to so many who have been touched by it in a mystical way and that this mystery has been communicated most powerfully through the Eucharist and the Mass, as well as through the witness of such martyrs to injustice as Bishop Oscar Romero and the Jesuits massacred in El Salvador. In these terrible times of revelation, we have to remind ourselves that the Mystery still exists within the broken container of the institution, even though we are being painfully weaned away from dependence on the structures of authority. These structures have weaved such a tangled, corrupt and suffocating web around the Divine Mystery that it has become obscured to many. It is time for the structures to fall away and the loud noises we are hearing in the streets today, both the anguished cries of the abuse victims calling out for justice and the hysterical, high pitched denials of the Episcopal and Papal enablers, is simply the clattering sounds of the superfluous scaffolding falling away. The authority system, having proven itself defunct,  is simply no longer needed and must be dismantled, leaving the way open for a true reformation of the Catholic communion. It will not surrender its power of its own accord, it will not reform itself from within, so power and credibility must be taken away from it, thereby enabling us to experience the  Divine Mystery that still lives within the living community of the Spirit. This community will still have the responsibility to pass on the tradition and to still act as a conduit for the sacred mystery, but new forms of organization need to rise from the ashes. As the Old Catholic Church so eloquently witnesses (along with other Spirit filled breakaway communities), there are ways of being Catholic outside the control of the Vatican system.

This is why I thought it appropriate to experience this rich, deeply moving spiritual music in a church in Prague which has been de-consecrated and is now used as a concert hall. It's 'sacred power' has been taken away from it, the Eucharist is no longer reserved, and it has  simply become an empty shell of great artistic beauty, but devoid of that unique Catholic mystical presence. As I looked at all of the ornate decorations, the statues, the paintings, the crystal chandeliers, I felt Saint Simon and Jude had become an apt metaphor for the  present state of the Roman Catholic institutional and hierarchical system, a relic of the past devoid of sacred presence. As the scaffolding falls to the ground with a cacophonous clatter, the divine mystery is being set free, like an ecstatic  bird, soaring, soaring through the air on great white wings.
This morning I received this email comment from a close friend of mine which expresses how so many 'Catholics' are now feeling today about faith and spirit and life:

I continue to have moments of special warmth coming from somewhere... it feels like a combination of Christ and Ramakrishna... Christ thru Ramakrishna.
A few weeks ago I felt a cord cut ... a cord that made me feel tied to the Catholic Church... one that had guilt attached. Now, I feel the cord is cut and I am free just to be.
Something is happening and I am different.

Indeed! Something is happening, the cord is not only being cut, we are  not only different - but we are all so much the better for it. Alleluia!

Apr 11, 2010


Taken from the wonderful Sufi blog, Inspirations and Creative Thoughts 
 Paradigm Shift

In order to understand our moment in history and where we can go in the future, we have to know what brought us here. In order to be strategically intelligent, we need to be able to comprehend the sources of our world. Our world is shaped by our worldview. How we approach reality is defined by the kinds of assumptions we have about that reality, and that, in turn, shapes reality and feeds it back to us. The subject and the object are deeply implicated in each other.
- Richard Tarnas, author of ground breaking work, The Passion of the Western Mind (credit)

A paradigm shift will often be initiated by a distinct, extraordinary break from the past - a kind of declaration of independence - yet this initial breakthrough will retain from the old paradigmatic structure certain essential and usually unexamined assumptions that limit the success of the new vision. - Richard Tarnas

If we carefully observe the loosening of authoritarian institutionalized religious power structures (especially true for Judaism and Christianity, and further specific to Christianity in the West) and an ever widening interest in learning about  other faith traditions (which began in the 60s with interest in Eastern religion including Buddhism, Zen, Hinduism, Yoga and Sufism) we see how this opening attraction to universal spirituality is helping the process of evolution of consciousness.  The transition has already begun from the Age of Pisces to the Age of Aquarius.  One can see this from the numerous web sites about the New Consciousness which people are attaining and of the Awakening that is occurring all over the globe. Dreams which show the awakening of people are numerous as well.

But before that its absolutely necessary to restore the True Image of Christ by breaking the idol that is placed between our inner eye and True Christ. As long as this false idol  is there, shrouded in myths, no matter how dazzling and how decorative and how familiar it has become to us, we can not truly be receptive to the Christ Consciousness that is our birth right.

(Painfully, tragically, and at great human cost to the victims, the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church is is very much a part of this process of transformation and demythologization, the breaking of a false idol that has obscured the True Image of Christ.


Thanks to Colleen Kochivar-Baker at Enlightened Catholicism for this extraordinary article from Father Tom Doyle on the path to healing for sexual abuse victims. However, it is also a brilliant summation of the path to healing and spiritual wholeness for all Catholics today in light of the horrendous scandal now unfolding day by day. The comments in parenthesis are Colleen's.

There is no available tradition or font of information about healing the spiritual wounds of clergy sexual abuse. Consequently one can only look at the damage and its sources and respond to each aspect of the trauma. It goes without saying that any therapist working with victims should be well aware of the idiosyncratic nature of sexual abuse by clergy and by Catholic clergy in particular.

The first level of response should be to the victim's self-destructive belief system. The immediate concern should be the victims' concept of a priest. He or she needs to be aided and supported in shedding the magical notion that the priest is somehow the personal representative of God or the stand-in for God. The dependence of the victim on the priest and on the clerical system needs to be first challenged and then replaced with a deeply rooted sense of personal spiritual autonomy. This "adult spirituality" of the victim-priest relationship will bring freedom from the misplaced guilt that burdens so many victims. (This is certainly clinically true, but the Church itself, cannot afford to take this route because it undercuts virtually the entire Catechism when it comes to the priesthood and sacramental system.)

De-mythologizing the concept of the priest necessarily leads to a re-imaging of the notion of God. This is perhaps the most fundamental and radical dimension of the healing process. Upon it hinges the victim's concept of Church, sin and even self. Catholic theology is rooted in a theistic notion of the Higher Power. God is a supernatural, personal being who controls all aspects of life. It is possible to move to a concept of God that does not lend itself to the toxic beliefs about guilt, suffering, sin and punishment.[42] Such a transition is easiest on the cognitive level but much more challenging to the emotions. Many victims are all too painfully aware of the personal devastation caused by the sexual abuse yet they continue to feel guilt because they have exposed a priest or sued a Church entity such as a diocese. This is all grounded in the irrational belief that God resides in a special way in the institutional Church.

Once a clergy abuse victim begins to accept a Higher Power that is non-judgmental, non-vindictive and not under the control of the ordained office-holders of the Church, he or she will be able to move to the next necessary level of healing which is separating the visible, institutional Church from the Higher Power.

This should include an unfolding of the mysterious emotional ties and reactions associated with the victim's relationship to the institutional Church. Once the variety of feelings are acknowledged it is perhaps time to cognitively examine the historical and doctrinal bases for the Church's contention that it was founded by God, is controlled by God through clerics and provides the only authentic source of spiritual security. At this stage the victims may be helped by reading one or more books that provide an objective and scholarly exposition of traditional Church teachings and traditions on the nature of the Church.[43] As they examine concept of the Higher Power they realize that what they have believed in and feared was not an authentic reality but someone else's vision of what god was all about.

Responding to the Loss of Religion.

The victim's anger at the Church and possibly at religion in general needs to be acknowledged and affirmed as a healthy response to the abuse. If it has not been done earlier in the recovery process this might be the appropriate time to examine the radical distinction between organized religion and spiritual security and strength. The toxic belief that God will be displeased if the victim feels anger towards the Church must be dispelled and replaced with a more realistic belief that the organized religious body has actually been a barrier to a secure relationship with the Higher Power. Victims attribute spiritual power to the visible Church because it has been presented as the only pathway to God. Most Catholics are never allowed to progress beyond a level of spiritual and religious development that is early-adolescent at best. The recovery process from clergy sexual abuse offers a unique opportunity for spiritual maturity. This maturity will provide the emotional security needed for whatever choices the victims makes about the place or religion, worship or a higher power in his or her life.

Affirming the Church's responsibility.

The institutional Catholic Church has thus far avoided accepting its responsibility for the culture of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up. Church authorities have made public apologies for "mistakes made" and have shifted the blame to others such as the media or the medical profession.[44] Yet no public statement has given evidence of a full awareness of the causality of clergy abuse or of the damage done to those abused.

Victim/survivors need to explore the substance of some of the official apologies and then come to an emotional as well as cognitive acceptance of the fact that the institution and its office holders will not because they cannot respond in a manner that would reflect full awareness and accepted responsibility. Some victims get "stuck" in an almost endless contentious process trying to get the official Church to realize the enormity of their actions. They need to come to a realization that the Church's narcissistic self-concept of a perfect society renders its leaders incapable of comprehending that the responsibility is rooted in the very core of the institutional Catholic Church.

The Church's responsibility is directly related to the process whereby it has educated and formed Catholics from childhood to adulthood. The victims need to be able to see this as effective pre-conditioning that is related not only to the grooming for the abuse itself but also for their subsequent guilt and shame in responding to the violation of their bodies and souls. (They also have to understand that experiencing this same conditioning is the reason their fellow laity turn on them and irrationally support what ever excuse the Vatican or a given bishop uses.)

A key aspect of this process is the concept of sexuality internalized by most Catholics. The guilt, shame and fear associated with it are responsible for much of the post-abuse trauma. Re-examining the Church-given sexual awareness can be a slow, difficult and often fear-laden process but it must be done in order to guide the recovering victim in the internalization of a healthier notion of sexuality.

Finding an authentic spirituality.

Most clergy abuse victims did not realize that they had a spiritual dimension to their being until it was taken from them. The final phase of healing involves the discovery of this spiritual dimension and the acceptance of an authentic, life-giving spirituality. God or the Higher Power is re-imaged from an omniscient super person to a source of power and love that is not shaped or limited by human conceptions. The traditional relationship with God was far too enmeshed with loyalty and obedience to the deity's self-styled earthly representatives. When this is abandoned there is room for the transition to a spiritual relationship with a Higher Power or even an institutional Church that is not a source of pain, fear and guilt but rather enhances life and provides joy and balance. This non-toxic spirituality requires a healthy sense of self-worth if it is to take root and grow. The path to emotional and spiritual health is often long, always arduous and usually bewildering at times. Yet is can be traversed with an outcome that promises not only freedom from the spiritual pain but a new and hope-filled future.


(Thanks to William Lindsey at Bilgrimage for this link)

The Pope, the Church, and Sexual Abuse: A Perspective
Guest Commentary:submitted by Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.

(taken from Voice of the Faithful)

Holy Thursday, April 1, 2010
The reports that Pope Benedict had mishandled a clergy sex abuse case when he was archbishop of Munich have sharpened the focus of international attention on the Pope, the Vatican and the seemingly perpetual problem of clergy sex abuse in the Catholic Church. This revelation coincided with what some believed might be the culmination of the furor in Ireland by the pope’s Pastoral Letter to the Irish People.  Questions about the Munich case and the mixed reception of the papal letter have guaranteed that critical interest will intensify rather than recede.

First, a brief summary of what I suspect happened in Munich back in 1980. The priest in question was credibly accused of sexually molesting two minors. His bishop arranged for him to go from his home diocese, Essen, to Munich, to receive treatment.  Treatment reports and a strong recommendation that he not be allowed contact with minors were submitted orally and in writing to an auxiliary bishop of Munich. Nevertheless the priest was assigned to parish work in Munich even while he was in therapy. The Munich archdiocese reported that the Vicar General, who was second in command in the archdiocese, decided to place the priest back in a parish. Although the former Vicar General claimed it was totally his responsibility and that then Archbishop Ratzinger had no part in this decision, this is highly unlikely in light of the Church’s own law as well as the unwritten yet equally powerful customary practices within church administration.

Archbishop Ratzinger’s direct involvement in the acceptance of the priest from another diocese and his assignment of the same priest to ministry in a Munich parish was mandatory according to Church regulations. The Catholic governmental system is such that the archbishop has full power and everyone under him functions on delegated authority or power. Only the head of a diocese or archdiocese, the bishop or archbishop, has the authority to accept an outside priest or to make an assignment. More important though is the fact that this priest was being sent for therapy resulting from his admission that he sexually abused two minors. Even if aspects of the bureaucratic process were handled by priests in inferior positions, it is improbable that the archbishop was not informed and involved in the dealings with a priest who admitted to such a serious transgression.

Then-archbishop Ratzinger probably handled this case the way similar cases were dealt with throughout the Church at that time. True, there were internal procedures in place to investigate and deal with reports of clergy abuse of minors, but these were very rarely used. The common approach was to maintain secrecy, insist on therapy in a few cases and re-assign without disclosing the priest’s background to the new assignment. This unofficial substitute process, common throughout the Catholic world, has been the reason for the criticism. Thousands of civil litigations have been initiated because this departure from the approved procedures constitutes negligence according to the secular courts.

The scandal, as it is commonly referred to, has finally found its way to the pope’s doorstep. This may have been his first direct contact with clergy sexual abuse but it was clearly not his last. After leaving Munich in 1982 Cardinal Ratzinger assumed leadership of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, ironically the present-day descendant of the Roman Inquisition.  As Prefect, or head, he was responsible for processing the petitions of priests seeking release from priestly obligations. His office also handled cases of sexual abuse sent to the Vatican by the world’s bishops. Thus he had some idea of the nature and scope of clergy abuse. Since most cases never entered into the church’s administrative or judicial system, it is safe to assume that the prefect was not accurately aware of the full extent of cases throughout the world.

Since the first public revelation in the U.S. in 1984 Catholic officialdom has responded to questions and criticism with a variety of explanations. These have ranged from accusations of media Catholic bashing and a rejection of the Church’s traditional sexual morality to claims that the bishops just didn’t know much about sexual abuse or were led astray by their medical advisors. Those who have criticized the hierarchy have been accused of dissent, disloyalty or worse. Victims and their attorneys have been demonized or told to forgive and move on. None of this rhetoric has stemmed the continued revelation of more victims and more cover-ups. The Pope and the bishops have not been able to move from defense to offense or even to guarded neutrality. The public apologies and expressions of regret and shame that have come from bishops have been rejected by the victims as insincere and self-serving.  In his letter to the Irish people, released on March 19, Pope Benedict expressed what certainly sounded like sincere sorrow and regret. Throughout his letter however, he injected references to the institutional Church and even put harm done to the victims on equal footing with the loss of respect and confidence in the Church. This adds to the conviction that at the end of the day this is not primarily about healing the victims or purging the Church of the source of the pain, but about power, papal and episcopal power, and the assurance that more of it won’t be relinquished.

Sexual abuse of the vulnerable by clergy has been a shameful aspect of Catholic culture for centuries. Church defenders claim it has always been a minuscule percentage of the clerical population, but the numbers are irrelevant. What is urgent and destructive has been the way the Church leadership, from the papacy on down to local bishops, have responded. “For the good of the Church” victims have been ignored, silenced and rebuffed, and criminal offenders have been quietly sent off to new assignments, often to offend again. “For the good of the Church” those harmed by the clergy have been led to cooperate in their own exploitation, convinced by their trusted leaders that the institution’s image and the exalted status of the priests is of greater value than healing or justice.  Though other institutions, public and private, religious and secular, have all experienced sexual abuse and other forms of internal corruption, the Catholic Church is unique. It has used its immense spiritual power and its absolute authority to control victims to the extent of persuading them to be part of their own cover-up.

There will continue to be abuse by the clergy as long as the ecclesiastical environment that allowed it to flourish continues as a closed, hierarchical system enshrouded in secrecy and sustained by the power of fear. As sexual abuse cases surface in country after country the patterns of cover-up, collusion and denial are the same. This is not proof of an international conspiracy or a secret order sent to all bishops as some would have it, but of something more radical. The world-wide outrage, the seemingly countless lawsuits and the close examination by various academics are directed at the status quo in three areas: the essential role of the clerical sub-culture, hierarchical governance and the efficacy of the theological dogmas that support them. The most realistic response is also the most fearful to the hierarchy and to many clergy and laity as well: a thorough, fearless examination of the heretofore untouchable system of power and control and the closed, secretive and often privileged world at the heart of the institutional church.  There is really only one vital question: Why is this system and the men who sustain it more important than the emotional, physical and spiritual welfare of a single, innocent child?

Pope Benedict’s letter to Ireland was remarkable in that he confirmed what most had already known: that favoritism of the clergy and “misplaced concern for the reputation of the Church and the avoidance of scandal” are among the elements of the crisis. Clericalism, the belief that clerics, especially priests and bishops, are fundamentally different from ordinary people and entitled to deference, obedience and unquestioned respect because of their exalted state, is the source and support for these aspects of causality. Clericalism has many faces. It is the delusion that priests speak for the Almighty and therefore are entitled to special treatment and even immunity from accountability for criminal behavior. It is the source of the conviction held by many, including top-level Vatican officials, that the legal systems of secular society are subordinate to Canon law, the Catholic Church’s own system of governance.  

It is unlikely that Pope Benedict would ever allow a close scrutiny of the clerical-hierarchical world. In his letter to the Irish he leveled unprecedented criticism directly at the bishops but stopped far short of demanding radical accountability nor did he dismiss the most egregious architects of the cover-up. To undertake the unspeakable and allow an objective, fearless and radical examination into the causal relationship between the “scandal” and the system would lead to a risk that probably extends beyond the imagination of all bishops, namely the dismantling of the very structures that assure the existence of their world.

Although clergy sexual abuse has plagued the church for centuries, the current reaction from the body of believers, but especially the laity, has been significantly different from anything in the past. This reaction has had a seriously detrimental impact on the essential aspects of the church’s operations in the world.

The persistent question of where this will all lead does not end with radical or earth-shattering answers if one considers it with pragmatic realism. The pope will not resign and it is unlikely that there will be a widespread purge of every bishop who has engineered a cover-up. A few bishops will submit to pressure to resign, but it is unlikely that any will be submitted to any disciplinary measures or if they are it will not be made public. Catholics who have been sexually abused, encouraged by the current wave of publicity and assisted by survivor support groups will continue to overcome the fear and shame that had paralyzed them in diocese after diocese. The Vatican and the bishops will continue to respond defensively, perhaps with more creative yet still unconvincing excuses.  

The end result is already well underway. The image of pope and bishop is steadily shrinking because the deference, respect and credibility essential to this image has been severely damaged and continues to erode in spite of all efforts to regain or at least hold on to what is left of their former stature.  Catholics are walking away in ever increasing numbers convinced that they don’t need the control of the institutional Church for spiritual sustenance. The sexual abuse scandal may not be the only reason but it certainly is the dominant reason for the diminishing role and influence of institutional Catholicism. The Church will survive but in the long run it won’t be in the form of a gilded monarchy with its stratified vision of humankind.  In all likelihood it will be the Church as community and hopefully this Church will hold as its most important members those who are most vulnerable, most rejected and most in need … not of control, but of love.

Apr 10, 2010


Nothing new in the following article, wise words of wisdom that any sane, rational person would endorse. I was just struck by the fact that this was written eight years ago in 2002 and is more timely than ever. 
Blame Church Arrogance, Not Oversexed Society
by Robert Scheer
While it might appear to be sweet revenge for the Inquisition, it is best to resist the impulse to burn some Catholic priests--and the cardinals who covered up their criminal activities--at the stake. Be thankful that we live in a secular, pluralistic society in which the heavy hand of the sanctimonious is restrained. But it would be helpful if the church's leaders, from the pope on down, for once would assume accountability for their lengthy history of covering up scandals rather than shifting the blame to homosexuality or a too-permissive secular society.
The church's recent equation of homosexuality with pedophilia or any other sex crime is a slander against a subset of the national population that shows no greater inclination to sexually criminal behavior than the heterosexual population. Even within the cloistered Catholic priesthood there are plenty of charges that priests are molesting women, such as in the case of an Iowa priest accused of groping a female parishioner after an evening Mass. The woman sued the priest, the bishop and other church officials for concealing the priest's history of sexual abuse. This same priest was later accused of sexual advances toward a 13-year-old girl at a Catholic school, but the case was dropped when he resigned. The larger problem is one of arrogance. The church presumes to act as the guardian of our morals by telling the rest of us--including non-Catholics--how to live, as if the attainment of a healthy sexuality is a simple matter of shunning the texts and images the church finds objectionable and has so often managed to have banned.
D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterley's Lover," which was banned in this country until 1959, could not possibly have led priests to pedophilia since that is hardly the focus of this or most erotic works. Nor could the "sacrilegious" art at the Brooklyn Museum--so viciously attacked by Catholic leaders--in any way explain the degenerate behavior of priests who were not allowed to view the paintings.
To indulge the wrath of the censor is to deny that sex crimes such as pedophilia are the result of mental illness, a terrifying disorder that strikes Catholics as well as atheists, the married and the celibate, heterosexuals and gays. Indeed, the loudest moral censors often are hiding severely destructive compulsions.
A decade ago, it was Father Bruce Ritter, director of the massive Catholic Church-supported Covenant House for runaway children, whose alleged sexual abuse was covered up by the church but eventually exposed to the world.
Ritter, who had served on the Reagan administration's Commission on Pornography, was hailed as an "unsung hero" by President Reagan in his 1984 State of the Union address and in 1990 was visited by President George Bush.
Those ringing endorsements should give pause to those who now celebrate faith-based charities as the panacea for a troubled social order.
Months after meeting with Bush, Ritter stood accused of having had sex with a young male in a New Orleans hotel during a break in the pornography commission hearings. Two other men connected with Ritter's program also came forth to accuse him of having sex with them when they were minors, and an investigation by Covenant House's board of directors turned up extensive evidence of sexual misconduct. Ritter, who had run what the Los Angeles Times called "the largest child-care agency in the country," was forced to resign in disgrace from Covenant House.
As one searches for an explanation for why so many priests have been exposed as child molesters recently, there is no indication that pornography or other manifestations of a permissive secular world pushed any of those men of God into their insanity. Indeed, the more plausible explanation is that they led a life too cloistered from the ordinary sources of adult sexual stimulation and satisfaction.
As the stories of the Bible amply testify, sexual perversion was a feature of the human experience long before the advent of modern communications technology. Certainly the history of the Catholic Church is replete with tales of decadence on the part of priests long before the allures of the silver screen, cable TV and the Internet.
Rather than scapegoat gay men--or sex outside marriage, pornography, masturbation, short skirts, precocious children, Hollywood films and so on--the Roman Catholic Church might be best served by reciting the wisdom of Pogo at every vespers: "We have met the enemy and he is us."
Pedophilia is a serious crime, irrevocably damaging young lives. The problem here is not that the church had sick priests but rather that their evil ways were permitted to fester by the indifference of corrupt cardinals and bishops who then and now blame everyone but themselves for the terrible harm that has been done.
Copyright 2002 Los Angeles Times

Apr 9, 2010

Is the Pope Infallible? Examining the Catholic Doctrine of Papal Infallibility

In Christian theology, infallibility is the doctrine that in matters of faith and morals the church, both in teaching and in believing, is protected from serious error by "divine dispensation." This doctrine is most associated with the Catholic church, but is also applied by the Orthodox church to ecumenical councils. The doctrine is widely rejected by Protestants on the grounds that only God can be described as infallible. 

Catholic theology asserts that the entire church is infallible (and therefore cannot err in matters of faith) when, from bishops to laity, it shows universal agreement in matters of faith and morals. Evidently popularity produces truth. Only a few persons in the church (those who hold its highest teaching office) are believed to proclaim Christian doctrine infallibly: (1) the entire body of bishops in union with the pope when it teaches with moral unanimity; (2) an ecumenical council which receives papal approval; and (3) under certain conditions, the pope alone.
What is Papal Infallibility?
Papal Infallibility, also called ultramontanism, is limited to when the Pope is speaking ex cathedra, that is when he is speaking in his official capacity as the "pastor and teacher" of all Christians in defining matters of morals and faith.
How did Pius IX manage to get papal infallibility declared an official dogma? Catholic theologian Hans Küng, critical of this dogma, argues for four principle reasons: "Pius IX had a sense of divine mission which he carried to extremes; he engaged in double dealing; he was mentally disturbed; and he misused his office." 

Criticisms of Papal Infallibility
There have been many Catholic critics of the doctrine of papal infallibility. In 1979 Father August Bernhard Hasler, Catholic priest, historian, and former staff member of the Vatican's Secretariat for Christian Unity, published "How the Pope became Infallible: Pius IX and the Politics of Persuasion." His description largely matches that of Hans Küng but differs greatly from the official version of the Church. Since he used Vatican documents which still haven't been released to the public, we should seriously consider his charges.

Apr 6, 2010


Thanks to Terry Weldon at Queering the Church for this very funny April fool's satire in these very depressing times. It's good to remember that no critique of Hitler was more savage or more effective than the brilliant parody of Charlie Chaplin.

Revision Studios, famous for the Princess Diana Gay Bible, will launch a new website called Leviticus International which promises to help unhappy straights become gay. According to Max Mitchell, creator of the site, “If heterosexuals want to end their misery, there is a way.”
Hate2BStraightLeviticus International says that straights can be “born again” as gay with the help and love of Jesus Christ. Joseph “Bo” Kelly, of Las Vegas, NV, a former heterosexual, claims it worked for him. According to Kelly, his compulsive attraction to women led him to two suicide attempts. “Now that I’m gay, my life is divine, and I don’t mean in the biblical sense. My boyfriend and I share so much more than I ever did with any of my four ex wives. I thank God for taking that sinful disorder away from me.”
How did it work? “I got on my knees and asked Jesus Christ to release me from the spell cast by women.” It took weeks of prayer but it finally worked. Then I met Todd at church. One thing led to another and the next thing I knew, it was Super Bowl. We were so excited by the football game, let’s just say there was dancing in the end zone. And we moved out of the trailer park into a fabulous Italian palazzo with topiary and an herb garden. I can’t thank Rev. Karl enough. Prayer works.
Mary Bermanoff, of Dearborn, another ex straight, says she’s never been so happy. “I truly am born again. Who knew Jesus could make me a happy lesbian? It was a long painful journey getting here but I’m glad I made it. Twenty years living with a man who smelled and never took out the trash was more than I could take. Janine, my girlfriend, actually cooks for me and brings me coffee in bed. She tells me she loves me. Hallelujah! I no longer have to be drunk to have sex. I actually enjoy it.”

The website offers visitors a chance to ask Jesus different question about becoming gay. I guess Jesus has email now. In any event, Jesus will answer all questions on the Leviticus site. Another page on the site has testimonials from people who succeeded at becoming gay.
Rev. Karl Krutchner, pastor at the Trailer of God in Houston, says that Leviticus has a very high success rate. “I can’t take credit for it. It’s the power of Jesus doing it, not me.” Why Leviticus International? “Leviticus in the Princess Diana Bible says it’s an abomination for a man to lay with a woman. That’s my ministry. Saving people from this sinful heterosexual lifestyle. You should see their faces when they find gay love. It’s a divine transformation. You can see God in the eyes. They have never felt this kind of joy. Warms my heart.”ALLELUIA!


We live in a spiritual age, and until the bishops and the pope learn to lead a people hungry for authenticity, trust and spiritual nourishment, we will look elsewhere. There are millions of Catholics with deep spiritual wisdom -- millions of faith-filled people who love God in transformative ways. We will trust their faith and witness if the bishops fail us. 

My faith is not shaken by these scandals. My hunger for my own conversion to a more loving, more just and more peaceful way of living is undiminished. On Easter, my family and I celebrated the hope beyond all hopes and did so with the Eucharist. 

But this is Altargate. The hierarchy, not the faith, is in jeopardy. The pope need not resign. He must do something far more difficult: convert. 

Thanks to William Lindsey for the link to this article by Timothy Shriver in the Washington Post

Quote of the Day

The hierarchical leadership of our church has been accused of being out of touch with the people of God in many areas too numerous to count. Women’s ordination is one of them. There have been times when I was ready to leave this church and join one that is more open and inclusive.

But: This is my church and, to put it succinctly, We Are the Church. I do not remember ever having “excommunicated myself” and I do not think that a coterie in the Vatican can decide who is in and who is out. Vatican II is not dead and there are enough of us to keep it alive.

Let us remember the promises we have received in baptism and let us claim our birthright as children of God and as brother’s and sisters of Jesus. May Sophia open the hearts of all of us in the Catholic Church to true dialogue and to the love that Jesus asked us to share, so others would recognize us as his disciples.

Bishop Regina Nicolosi of Roman Catholic Women Priests

taken from The Progressive Catholic Voice

Apr 4, 2010


Thanks to the Daily Dish:

Saint Basil of Caesarea, the fourth century Church Father who wrote the principal rule of the monks of the East, establishes this: “The cleric or monk who molests youths or boys or is caught kissing or committing some turpitude, let him be whipped in public, deprived of his crown [tonsure] and, after having his head shaved, let his face be covered with spittle; and [let him be] bound in iron chains, condemned to six months in prison, reduced to eating rye bread once a day in the evening three times per week. After these six months living in a separate cell under the custody of a wise elder with great spiritual experience, let him be subjected to prayers, vigils and manual work, always under the guard of two spiritual brothers, without being allowed to have any relationship . . . with young people."

And from: The Silence of Sodom: Homosexuality in Modern Catholicism by Mark D. Jordan (University of Chicago Press, 2000)
In 1570, a canon of the shrine of Loreto was named as a sexual partner by a choirboy. The boy's testimony was confirmed by multiple interrogations and by torture. (p. 122)
Avoiding scandal seems to have been more important than prosecuting offenders. Cases we do discover in the archives are often cases with aggravating circumstances, such as violence or public outcry. A Capuchin was burned publicly in Paris in 1783 for killing a boy who resisted being raped. (p. 123)
One Minim friar, Pedro Pizarro, dubbed "La Pizarra," maintained a well-supplied "playroom" on the monastery grounds in Valencia until his arrest in 1572. He would invite boys into the monastery on the pretext of doing paid work, ply them with food and wine, then couple with them in various combinations, often with the assistance of other friars. (p. 127)
In his Trifles, the twelfth-century priest and poet Walter Map repeats a familiar joke about St. Bernard, the second founder of the Cistercian monastic order. Two Cistercian monks are talking piously about an incident in which Bernard tried to bring a young man back from the dead by stretching out on top of the corpse. Bernard did not succeed. Another clergyman, an anti-Cistercian, interrupts the pious story with feigned astonishment. He had often heard of monks throwing themselves on top of boys, but usually both the monk and the boy got up afterward. (p. 132)

HE IS RISEN - within the Old Catholic Church

I attended the Easter Vigil last night at the 'Old Catholic' Cathedral of St. Lawrence high atop Petrin Hill in Prague. Father Robert Caruso of the US Minnesota OCC is here in Prague for the week and invited me to the service. The "OLD" Catholic Church is so named because this community believes it represents the true Catholic tradition before Vatican I and the imposed dogma of Papal Infallibility.  The community did not willingly split from the Roman branch, it was excommunicated when a number of Bishops in good conscience decided they could not accept the decision of Vatican I to declare the Pope infallible.  In fact the majority of Bishops walked out of the Council in protest before the vote could be taken.  The reigning pontiff, Pius IX, a deeply disturbed human being whom a number of psychiatric authorities have diagnosed as a classic  sociopath, threatened excommunication and interdict to any bishop and diocese who did not agree with the decision. Most  of the dissenting bishops gave in at great cost to their consciences. But a significant and prophetic remnant stood fast These bishops together with their dioceses then banded together to form the Old Catholic Church and they have been living their marginal, Spirit filled witness-in-exile, ever since. Outside of the control of the Vatican, the worldwide community of the Old Catholic Church then evolved  in a (not surprisingly) healthy manner and we now have a Church which images the Catholic Church as she should be - inclusive, tolerant, fair = with women priests and married priests, gay marriages and ethical decisions regarding contraception (among others) left to the individual consciences of the married couple. No scandals regarding child abuse have surfaced within the Old Catholic Church. Does that surprise anyone?
Father Robert Caruso is the tall priest in the center of the photo (taken with my cell phone). For those who are more interested in this community, you can read a review of Father Robert's book,  The Old Catholic Church: Understanding the Origin, Essence, and Theology of a Church that is Unknown and Misunderstood by Many in North America, and a series of interviews with him at Michael Bayly's blogsite, Wild Reed.

I was deeply moved by the service (despite the terminally long readings, following  the Roman ritual exactly) and I have to say it "felt' exactly like a Roman Catholic Liturgy -with one important distinction. At communion, all of the priests, the presiding Bishop and the ministers, received communion last - after all of the 'laity' had themselves partaken. Wow! What a stunning example of a ministry of service that does not privilege the ordained. As Father Robert remarked, "It isn't just 'like' the Catholic Mass - ala the Anglican service - it is the Catholic Mass." I have to agree. Seven new catechumens and one charmingly distraught baby girl received baptism this evening, and the adults went on to receive Confirmation and First Communion as well. It was a very deeply moving sight to see and the entire evening was Spirit filled in an atmosphere of peace and joy.  It was a delightfully eclectic community and I was on the receiving end of some wonderful and warmly humorous comments about gays within the community. I have never felt so graciously accepted as a gay man at any other form of Catholic service. I will be celebrating with this community again.

This morning I watched Pope Benedict's Urbi et Orbi homily on Eurotelevision and I felt that the  role of the 'Supreme Pontiff" in all of his pomp and regalia was in no way more charismatic or significant than the very impressive, deeply spiritual Bishop Dusan Hejbal of the Old Catholic Church of Prague.