Friday, November 19, 2010

Quote of the Day

Lost in [the] hubbub [over the election of Archbishop Timothy Dolan as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops] is the fact that Dolan will be taking over an association of bishops that has been greatly weakened by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. The downgrading of bishops' conferences around the world followed a period after Vatican II when the conferences, spurred on by the Council, became friskier, bolder and more independent from Rome's control. The idea that local (national) churches should heed the signs of the times of their own surroundings was temporarily in full bloom.

It was during that period of two decades that the U.S. bishops wrote their most memorable pastoral letters, one on the nuclear arms race, the other on the nation's economy that underscored the shame of poverty.

They were heading for a third letter on women but that effort ended in perhaps inevitable shambles. By then, John Paul II had begun to curb the growing initiatives by the conferences on grounds that conferences had assumed authority that rightfully belonged to Rome. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was his able assistant in that effort.

From then to now, the conference's ability to do anything on its own has been virtually suspended. The conference does nothing that isn't rubber stampable by the Vatican.

Stripped of nearly all autonomy, the U.S. conference does the bidding of its hierarchical superiors. Dolan can act at best as a polished ambassador who can employ persuasion but doesn't set policy. His advice to Rome will most certainly serve to formulate strategies to convince wary Catholics that the church has been right all along rather than to challenge the policies of church authorities in the name of American Catholic insight.

– Ken Briggs
"Amidst Dolan Hubbub, Easy to Forget Bishops Are Virtually Powerless"
National Catholic Reporter
November 17, 2010


  1. 11-18-10
    One more manifestation of RC church decline. Power. Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Lord Acton.
    This arose as a quotation by John Emerich Edward Dalberg Acton, first Baron Acton (1834–1902). The historian and moralist, who was otherwise known simply as Lord Acton, expressed this opinion in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."
    The church has run its course. To do list:
    1. Read scientific biblical-historical scholarship. Check that against basic doctrine such as the incarnation and resurrection.
    2. Read some epistemology on belief, justification, and knowledge.
    3. Read relevant science.
    4. This religion originated in the age of mythology and still clings to mythical trappings. Pseudo-faith invents reality. Genuine faith seeks reality.

  2. Hi, Marie. That power tends to corrupt and that absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely is certainly relevant to the current situation in the Roman Catholic Church. There are no mechanisms for easy communication from the ranks of Catholics to the clerical leadership nor is there evidence that the clerical leadership wants to hear from the ranks. We have lots of problems. But I would take issue with your assertion that the church " has run its course." From where I stand, there is an abundance of life left in it. What many of us want to do is work together with the U.S. Bishops to re-create the institution in the vision of Vatican II. Will you contribute your considerable acumen to this cause? Please help us think of ways to exercise our baptismal responsibility to build the church going forward. We know the ways in which we are failing; we need help to imagine new ways. We don't need so much discouragement from you. Will you consider it? Thanks, Marie.

  3. Hi Paula. For years I have been writing about an Axial Age religion i.e. Christianity/Catholicism evolving into a post-Axial Age faith phenomenon based on good as well as diverse evidence from experts and other knowledgeable people. You should be encouraged, not discouraged! You should be dancing on the tables! There's a difference between "an abundance of life left in it" and "has run its course". But I'll stop if it offends you. Sorry we are not connecting. Marie

  4. 11-21-10 Hi Paula. I decided to make public my recent private e-mail to you slightly revised for the sake of clarity.

    Hello Paula. Today 11-9-10 I am looking at your April 2008 Who Is Responsible For Church Reform? and the seven insights. I would want to support evolution not exodus or reform, based on 21st and 20th century knowledge, not ‘insights of the early church retrieved by Vatican II’ in which the former, i.e. contemporary knowledge, trumps the earlier church thinking because it is more advanced. We know that Homo sapiens learns as the species evolves. We are in a post-Vatican II period and into a beginning post-Axial Age faith phenomenon. That is what my writing has been about for several years. Thanks. Marie Rottschaefer

    P.S. 11-21-10 I think I am repeating myself but once again: what is this contemporary knowledge? Scientific biblical-historical scholarship -- the kind Pope Pius XII promulgated in his encyclical is one source. Philosophy, especially epistemology on belief, justification and knowledge is another source. Relevant science is yet another source. Our task is: understanding and replacing the mythical trappings in RC to pursue a genuine faith that seeks reality, and eliminate a pseudo-faith that invents reality. Two millennia ago give or take, people had an excuse, but twenty-first century people have no excuse.
    The impression I get Paula, is that you want me to contribute but you want me to do it ‘your way.’ In conscience, with my best judgment, and with years of work on these issues, I can only do what I do. I was a young 30 something at the time of Vatican II. That history has played out. I wish all of you well but it seems that my task is done. Marie

  5. Hi, Marie. Please don't stop talking with us. You and I are both about the same age, and I think we are on the same page of the hymnal. Don't you think we have to keep tying in the past with the vision of the future? People don't just tear out all the roots and create something new for the 21st century. I think the vision of Vatican II with its emphasis on being open to human knowledge can help Catholics evolve into the future you see. I do want you to contribute and you can call it my way, but I see it as sensing a need of the community to make a gradual transition from one worldview to a new one. I think we have to unpack what you are saying at a more pedestrian pace.
    For example: You say: "Philosophy, especially epistemology on belief, justification and knowledge is another source [of new perspective?]." Let's talk about what that means to each of us. If you write for us or have written somewhere else what that means, we can post it as a new thread and we can all respond. What do you think?

  6. Thank you Paula for staying the course! There is too much to say for a space-limited post on PCV. That is why I can only make brief comments that are absolutely loaded. Yes, past, present, future are one. I write not to discourage people but to be realistic.
    My whole life as a layperson has been dedicated to searching for the meaning of genuine faith; intently so for about the past sixty-one years. I have written in different modes i.e. published, non-published, online and paper for ordinary people like myself – just trying to get a message out.
    The World Scientists’ Warning To Humanity 1,700 of the world’s leading scientists, including the majority of Nobel laureates in the sciences, issued this appeal in November 1992. This fact plus Hans Kung’s Global Ethic statement as I remember, catapulted me into action. So for the past 18 years, although even before that, I have been intently focused on people and planet as our way of homage to our Maker.
    Many Catholics need further intense education, epistemology being but one subject. That has been a part of the problem; indoctrination is not the answer.
    I was thinking of ‘winding it down’ and maybe writing my memoirs, age and less than perfect health factored in. So I would have to consider your offer in the light of my being able to do it rather than a matter of wanting to do it. I’ll think about it and get back to you. Marie.

  7. I'm going to jump into this conversation. Marie you wrote this in an earlier comment:

    Our task is: understanding and replacing the mythical trappings in RC to pursue a genuine faith that seeks reality, and eliminate a pseudo-faith that invents reality. Two millennia ago give or take, people had an excuse, but twenty-first century people have no excuse."

    Except we do invent the reality we experience. We do it on a very fundamental micro level as well as the macro level. The observer effect in quantum physics is very real and very potent. Roman Catholicism is worth fighting to reform because it represents the unique consensus reality of over a billion people. Change that reality in any meaningful sense and we have changed the global macro reality. Pope Benedict's recent modification of his thinking on condoms will have a huge impact in the global south, but the change won't stop there.

    It's an incredible time to be alive, if at the same time it's frustrating to be a Catholic who gives a damn about the Catholic reality.

  8. Thank you colkoch. I am not able time-wise right now to explain further what i meant. I know that we are talking about two different issues. It is my problem for not explaining further.
    P.S. My People and Planet Blog 7 is up for those interested.Thanks for letting me add this on to our conversation. Marie.

  9. Hi, Colleen. You are saying what I thought Marie might mean by current epistemology as a source of new perspective. Apparently not, but I trust we will hear from her when she has time. Your application to the pope's shift on condom use is lucid. It opens up new vistas. Will you comment on the idea that I think Marie is working with:the Christian myth in the sense of a God from outside the world who intervenes in the physical working of the world and sent his son to die in atonement for our sins etc. Have we invented a new metanarrative and how do you characterize it? Have you written about that someplace else?

  10. Paula and colkoch --
    Nov. 29, 2010 Since my message is too long for a post, I am using my blog to get this message to you. Please google Marie Schickel Rottschaefer or click my name on PCV.