Monday, March 03, 2008

The Shrinking Catholic Tent

When I first came to Minnesota from Australia in January of 1994, I found myself impressed by the diversity of the local Catholic community. This diversity was most evident in the range of worship styles within the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis.

From the traditionalist practices of the
Church of St. Agnes to the “liberal” practices of parishes such as St. Joan of Arc, there seemed to be a place for everyone. Such a spectrum suggested that the Catholic Church was like a great sheltering tent - broad and welcoming of all. I thought at the time, and continue to think so now, that this “big tent” understanding and expression of Catholicism is a sign of spiritual health and vitality.

Yet now the tent seems to be shrinking.

Rubrics versus Spirit

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that the parish I attend was recently ordered by the archdiocese to conform its various liturgies to the rubrics of the General Instruction of the Roman Missal.

As I noted in my previous post, I’m sure that for many Catholic parishes, these rubrics serve well to express and reflect their faith and community life. Yet for the past 40 years, the Catholic parish that I consider my spiritual home, St. Stephen’s in South Minneapolis, has developed its liturgy in ways that reflect the presence of the Spirit as discerned in the unique gifts and needs of its members and in our shared life together.

This development has been a very intentional and faith-filled embodiment of the Second Vatican Council’s call for “full and active participation” of the laity in “liturgical celebrations” (Sacrosanctum Concilium, 1963). Yet many now feel that, in one fell swoop, this embodiment – along with the Spirit that nurtured and inspired it – has been discounted by the chancery’s demand that it be abandoned for the rubrics of GIRM.

I can’t help but think that in this situation, the “form,” which Jesus said “profits nothing,” has been elevated above the “Spirit,” which gives life.


Many within the community of St. Stephen’s – especially those who attend the 9:00 a.m. liturgy – have decided that they cannot abandon the style of worship that has been prayerfully developed over the past 40 years. Although some suggested that the 9:00 a.m. community simply ignore the archdiocese’s directive and continue worshiping as usual at St. Stephen’s, the overall sense of the community was that the 9:00 a.m. liturgy be conducted “off-campus.”

Accordingly, a new worshiping space has been secured a few blocks away at Park House (2120 Park Ave.). It should be noted that those attending future 9:00 a.m. liturgies at this new location will continue to identify as parishioners of St. Stephen’s. We’ll continue contributing to the parish, serving on various committees, and volunteering with the various programs of St. Stephen’s Human Services.

In light of all of this, close to 200 people walked this morning from St. Stephen’s to Park House. Most of those who made the trek are now committed to worshiping at Park House. I’ll be worshiping with them.

Columnist Nick Coleman wrote about the community of St. Stephen’s plight in today’s Star Tribune. Following is Coleman’s column in its entirety, along with photos that I took this morning at St. Stephen’s.


The Push for Conformity Shoves Away Parishioners
Nick Coleman
Star Tribune
March 2, 2008

For 40 years, St. Stephen’s Catholic Church in Minneapolis has been a font of Christian compassion, service to the suffering and help to the poor.

Those good works will continue. But many of the good people who contributed their time, talents and resources to the $3 million-a-year social outreach of a historic, 119-year-old inner-city parish will not.

They will be without their worship home at St. Stephen’s.

Exiles in their own parish, 100 or more members of the St. Stephen’s community plan to march this morning from the church to a new home five blocks away, where they hope to continue the informal and spiritually arousing service that drew them to St. Stephen’s in the first place.

You know the kind of service: with guitars, lay people giving homilies, dancing in the aisles with people who have mental and physical disabilities, gay couples openly participating in worship, along with ex-priests, ex-nuns and sundry other spiritual wanderers.

It’s all so 1960s. The new church is more like the 1860s.

The 9 a.m. English-language prayer service, believed to have begun in 1968, has been shut down by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, which has moved in recent years to bring all of its 219 parishes into conformity.

“They all have to play with the same playbook,” says Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese. “They’ve had plenty of warnings to get their act together.”

The “playbook” is the GIRM – “General Instructions of the Roman Missal” – which spells out the rubrics for worship services. After the Second Ecumenical Vatican Council in the early 1960s, the orthodoxies loosened and churches, especially ones in needy neighborhoods like St. Stephen’s, put more emphasis on carrying out the message of the Gospels than following the rubrics.

The 9 a.m. service in the school gym (there’s also a 9 a.m. Spanish-language mass in the church sanctuary) became a place where all were welcomed, the wording of prayers was changed to make them inclusive (“Our Father and Mother, Who Art in Heaven,” for example), women had leadership roles in services, and simple ceramics were used instead of chalices of precious metal, as called for in the rubrics.

The parish is getting a new pastor next month (it has had only part-time clergy), and McGrath says the archdiocese wanted to get things “straightened out” before the Rev. Joseph Williams arrives.

But similar changes are taking place across the archdiocese, which is getting new, conservative leadership from Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt, who will shortly succeed Archbishop Harry Flynn.

The changes have caused pain in St. Stephen’s, at 2211 Clinton Av. S. in the Whittier neighborhood, near the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

“How can it have been OK for 40 years – even been encouraged because of the work we do – and not be OK anymore?” asks Eileen Smith, a parishioner from St. Louis Park, who has been active in fundraising for St. Stephen’s and thinks of the prayer service as her spiritual home. “They should hold us up as a model of service. Instead, they are giving us the boot.”

“It’s incredibly sad,” says Mary Condon Peters of Golden Valley, who has belonged to St. Stephen’s for 16 years and served on its parish council. “All these years, there was room in the big old Catholic tent for all of us. And now there isn’t. And they gave us three weeks’ notice.”

It was on Feb. 5 that Flynn met with parish representatives and instructed them that the 9 a.m. prayer service must end. McGrath says that “nothing of substance” will change, and that the parish outreach to the poor, the homeless and the Hispanic community will go on.

So will support of those ministries by the St. Stephen’s members who will march to a new prayer home today.

The last service was held last Sunday. About 200 people attended, many crying throughout the service, which ended with a tear-stained but joyful singing of “We Are Marching in the Light of God.”

Today, they will march again. This time, to Park Avenue.

After gathering at the usual time at the school gym, many parishioners who considered the 9 a.m. prayer service the center of a rich faith experience will say a last prayer on the steps and then head five blocks east, exiles in the desert, to 2120 Park Av., where they plan to continue the Sunday prayer meetings that brought them together.

“We are supposed to learn how to ‘pray right’ or go away,” Peters says. “Well, we are going to pray the way we think is right. And we are going to go away. With great sadness. But we will still pray.”

Nick Coleman


The Community of St. Stephen’s
Sunday, March 2, 2008

Above and below: At 8:45 a.m., members of the community gathered in the gym for a “leave-taking” ritual.

Above and below: At the conclusion of this ritual, most of the 9:00 a.m. community members and their supporters made their way to Park House - their new worshiping space.

Above: About 50 community members remained in the gym in “holy resistance” and participated in a Eucharistic celebration.


3/6/08 Update: The following letters appear in today’s edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Can’t pick and choose

I commend the archdiocese of Minnesota [sic] for finally bringing St. Stephen’s Catholic Church into conformity with the standards set out in the General Instruction on the Roman Missal (“The push for conformity shoves away parishioners,” March 2). People go to church to pray, not to party. Part of the way in which Catholics act to carry out “the message of the Gospels” is by following the “rubrics.” Otherwise they are merely social workers.

It has never been “OK” for Catholics to refer to God as “Our Father and Mother.” Nor has it been acceptable to dance in the church aisles like a bunch of swingin’ Maenads. Rubrics are formulated very precisely and put in place because they express the fundamentals of Catholic theology. One calls to mind the longstanding principle of Catholic worship, “lex orandi, lex credendi”: Let the law of prayer be governed by the law of belief. Catholics worship in accordance with what they believe.

St. Stephen’s and its band of merry rebels are free to pray the way they “think is right.” They are also free to join another religion.

Anthony Wilson

Back to the Dark Ages

Nick Coleman’s March 2 column reveals the troubling tightening of the archdiocesan belt in the Twin Cities.

Catholics must choose to either adhere to every letter of the law (rubrics), with no exception, or go elsewhere. It does not matter if it takes the life out of the liturgy. At least it conforms, and that's what counts, according to spokespeople at the chancery.

On a global scale, Vatican II’s “involvement of the people” has unilaterally been thrown out by current hierarchy. Catholic faithful are told to not speak in public, nor in church. Every male pronoun is now back in the liturgy. Every layperson is now back in the pews. Priests will make every decision – not parish councils – and everyone must do as they are told.

As a member of St. Stephen’s for the past 20 years, I am saddened and must choose. But my choice will be to follow God, not an archbishop.

St. Stephen’s has been a place where one is challenged 24/7 to live the Gospel. It is a tough place. The people there must accept their personal relationship with God and the call to be followers of Christ in daily living. Much of this challenge has come from lay preachers. Silencing those voices will adversely affect the poor, the underprivileged, the oppressed, the homeless, the abused.

Ann Marie McIntire
Hudson, WIS
Vice-chair, St. Stephen’s Parish Council

February/March 2009 Updates: A Catholic “Crisis and Opportunity” in South Minneapolis and Alive and Well . . . and Flourishing!

Images: Michael Bayly.

See also the previous Wild Reed posts:
What it Means to Be Catholic
Thoughts on Authority and Fidelity
Authentic Catholicism: The Antidote to Clericalism
Choosing to Stay
The “Underground Church”
Archbishop Nienstedt’s “Learning Curve”: A Suggested Trajectory

Note: To read the homily I delivered to the community of St. Stephen’s on the Feast of the Epiphany in the year 2000, click here.


Anonymous said...

Well, stay if you're stayin' and go if you're goin'.

Seriously, your story is not uncommon. This is where the Spiritus Christi community came from, in Rochester, NY.

It's not just that a part of a parish finds adherence to the GIRM onerous. That's the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Isn't a deeper issue that some part of a parish, organized to the extent that its a community within a community, no longer cares to be in communion with a local (parish), regional (diocese) and transnational (world-wide and Roman) instance of the Roman Catholic Church? Semper Reformanda indeed - you've formed your own church. It may look Catholic, but is it?

There is much discussion on this blog of expanding the definition of marriage. I'm not sure there's been any effort to compare and contrast different definitions of marriage. What, indeed, is marriage? Similarly, there is a difference in thinking about "church." There are different definitions of "church" operative in the Twin Cities, certainly more than 2, but comparing and contrasting the ecclesiologies of a a group that just left their parish, and the local Roman Catholic archbishop, are a reasonable place to start.

I don't know that the Roman Catholic Tent, big as it, was ever big enough to include every self-definition of Catholicism. And some people and groups can and do leave that tent. Think about it: nobody threw you out - you left. Consider what you gave up and what you're getting. Is it REALLY the (Holy) Spirit leading you out into the ecclesial and liturgical wilderness or another spirit.

Yeah, its easy to blame the Devil, but I might (ahem) look at myself first. What is about one's own individual spirit that leads them to join the thousands upon thousands of reform movements out to "fix" the Roman Catholic Church? You can't throw a rock and not hit some offshoot from the Western Church. Yet the Church - THE Church - remains, and the reform the Holy Spirit prompts is always (at least) slightly different than we imagine it could or should be.

A final thought: doesn't true reform begin with me and not with an institution? You're joining a new community, fine. How will this new community encourage and support the necessary, costly, difficult interior change in each person, that makes Christ more clearly recognizable in each person? Be careful that this "new" church doesn't only accept its members as they are, rather than goading them to become the persons and People God made them to be.

OBTW, I tried the numerous ID choices enabled on this blog and couldn't get any of them to work. So this will appear as "anonymous" but my name is,

Mark Andrews

Walter said...

"Yet now the tent seems to be shrinking."

Because it is not a tent. Political parties are tents, or coalitions of folks with varying viewpoints but sharing a common goal...the election of their agreed upon candidate.

The Catholic Church, which i love, is not a democracy. You either believe and follow the teachings or you don't, and thus lose the right to call yourself Catholic.

Think of it this way. The 12 disciples of Christ had 12 differnt personalities and brought different charisms (gifts), but regardless of these differences they all agreed on one thing, that Christ was the Messiah and had the words of Eternal Salvation. Thus they did what he said to do. When he established the Church on the rock that is Peter, they obeyed. When he established the Eucharist,even though many others walked away claiming "This is a hard saying. Who can accept it?" they stayed and obeyed. I could go on and on but the simple question is why did they obey? Why did not a one of them think he could do things his own way? Why did not one whine about being "stifled"? They obeyed becuase they understood that there was one source of the Truth and that was in Christ and his Church.

My advice: Go to confession. repent and stop sinning. Stop profaning the liturgy. And stop misusing and misinterpreting Vatican II.

Jeremy said...

Well, if you're gonna be protestant, you might as well have the decency to do so outside the Catholic Church.

Walter said...

Almost dare Isay providential that Pope Benedict's Angelus sermon so succinctly describes the dangerous path these folks are following.

"To the blind man whom he healed Jesus reveals that he has come into the world for judgment, to separate the blind who can be healed from those who do not allow themselves to be healed because they presume that they are healthy," he said. "The tendency in man to construct an ideological system of security is strong: Even religion itself can become an element in this system, as can atheism, or secularism; but in constructing this system, one becomes blind to his own egoism."

Michael J. Bayly said...


The pope could just as easily be talking about the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church!



Walter said...

"The pope could just as easily be talking about the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church!"

How so? Please explain further.

Michael J. Bayly said...

In the same way any human institution can stumble over its own hubris and “egotism”!

Remember, Walter, the hierarchy isn’t the totality of the Mystical Body of Christ. One can’t simply say, “the hierarchy of the Catholic church is a divine institution.” It has the potential to embody the divine, but to imply it simply is divine and therefore can never err is a cop-out, and only half the story. It’s also a human institution. Accordingly, the hierarchy is not infallible. It can (and has) screwed-up mightily over the centuries.

Also, in his January 10, 2008 column in The Catholic Spirit, Coadjutor Archbishop Nienstedt echoed Pope Benedict’s XVI’s Angelus sermon when he cautioned against “relativism” and law “rooted in the subjective.”

Here’s how the editorial team of The Progressive Catholic Voice, of which I’m a member, responded. You might find it helpful in understanding the perspective from which I and many other come.

We write:

[Coadjutor Archbishop Nienstedt,] please explain how you come to know the list of rulings about right and wrong that you say God has made. We don’t mean to be disrespectful in this request. It is at the heart of the question about authority that seems to separate us. When we experience suffering in ourselves and others caused by moral pronouncements that we do not see the reasons for, we believe it is immoral to submit to them without question. We hope you will accept that we are in good faith as we believe you are when you take an obedient and firm stand on some abstract formulations from the past.

If you would enter into the ongoing discussion of moral positions with good reasons, even grounded in the developing understanding of natural moral law theory, instead of giving us conclusions and attributing them to God, we would be grateful. We and the world need wise leadership in these discussions.

We believe that to be persuasive your reasoning would have to take into account the best science on human physical and social functioning, the best thinking about human life available, and, above all, it could not claim to be anything more than the best provisional knowledge of the human community to date. And this is because our minds are all finite and formed out of historical, cultural contexts. We just have to be humble about it. And we have to believe, hope and trust that the human species has within its matrix the desire to live in community and to thrive. Some of us believe that the Spirit of God is with us throughout the whole process, helping us to reason carefully, imaginatively and feelingly.

Finally, if you do not reason with all the communities of inquiry within the society, what distinguishes your pronouncements from those of the power elites you caution against in this paragraph?

“The one (or ones) who has power, whether it be in the form of military might or cultural/ideological influence, becomes the ultimate source of law governing human behavior. This leads to an ‘ethical relativism’ since the source of such law becomes rooted in the subjective whim of the one (or ones) who holds power rather than resting with the objective truth (read here natural moral law), which sustains the human good as found in our very nature. Such relativism threatens the very freedom of those individuals whose dignity stands at risk of being denied by the one (or ones} in power.”

As people whose freedom is threatened and dignity stands at risk of being denied by the cultural/ideological influence of the Roman Catholic institution when it claims to be the ultimate source of law governing human behavior, we ask you to approach questions of morality with a mind open to the experience of the whole community.


The Editorial Team of The Progressive Catholic Voice

Anonymous said...

Not to talk in circles, but the Archbishop is your brother in Christ who has an experience to offer the larger community. Just as progressive Catholics ask the Archbishop if he is open to their experience, are progressive Catholics in turn open to their Archbishop and his experience - not only his personal and individual experience as a Catholic, but the larger experience of the Catholic Church the Archbishop incarnates by virtue of his office?

Changing topics (sorry for the digression), its instructive, Michael, to see the phrase "cause pain" and "caused pain" used so frequently on your blog. Not all pain is bad, you know. It can be an immediate warning that something is wrong and needs immediate attention. Is the pain you refer to caused a) by a pastorally insensitive bishop teaching from some untenable position; b) a pang of conscience, perhaps, from a person or people who have chosen to separate themselves from the larger Catholic community; c) some some combination of a) and b), and the cognitive dissonance that results or d) some other source or sources.

Lastly, Michael, you've failed to address the many questions put to you in good faith about what you're doing and why. I'm not looking for a "correct" answer - I doubt we'd agree. But I would appreciate your taking the opportunity, on your own blog, to more clearly explain the tenants of this new form of Catholicism you're creating. The better to compare and contrast your Catholicism with Roman Catholicism, and let readers see what their options really are in the religious landscape.

Still stuck on "anonymous," but my name is,

Mark Andrews

Anonymous said...

I would ask the progressive Catholics, as they seem to have arrogated to themselves some piece of the teaching office of the Church, what this particular paragraph from Lumen Gentium means.

Mark Andrews
The laity should, as all Christians, promptly accept in Christian obedience decisions of their spiritual shepherds, since they are representatives of Christ as well as teachers and rulers in the Church. Let them follow the example of Christ, who by His obedience even unto death, opened to all men the blessed way of the liberty of the children of God. Nor should they omit to pray for those placed over them, for they keep watch as having to render an account of their souls, so that they may do this with joy and not with grief.(211)

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Mark,

I don't believe I use phrases like "in pain" or "cause pain" excessively on The Wild Reed. I aim for this blog to primarily be a celebration of the progressive, gay, Catholic perspective.

Having said that, I think LGBT Catholics can do without your sanctimonious lecturing about the cause of any pain they may feel as a result of the uninformed and insensitive teachings of the Vatican.

And spare us all the "magical thinking" that sees any member of the hierarchy incarnating, "by virtue of his office," the "larger experience" of the Catholic Church.

For too long members of the hierarchy have perpetrated and got away with all manner of abuses because of this type of "magical thinking." It there is anything positive that could be said to have come from the child sex abuse scandal, it's that this type of thinking has been exposed for what it is, and Catholics across the board are beginning to grow up - a process that enable them to question, challenge and, yes, disagree with the institutional church.

Indeed, around matters related to sexuality, I'd be surprised if 5% of Catholics actually follow church teaching. That's indeed indicative of a major problem - but it's a problem for the institutional church, not the people of God. The former needs to listen and learn from the latter. But while ever that aforementioned "magical thinking" exists, such listening and learning will be a problem for members of the hierarchy.

Also, could you please direct me to the "many questions" that supposedly have been put to me about what I'm doing and why?

As for explaining the "tenants of this new form of Catholicism" I'm supposedly creating, I call it as I see it. Roman Catholicism isn't (and never has been) the exclusive country club that you and others (such as Walter) seem to believe it is. Oh, to be sure, since the 1870s that's been the preferred model of Church championed by the Vatican and projected back onto church history, but according to Catholic historian Gary Macy, diversity isn't just part of the Catholic tradition, diversity is the Catholic tradition. (To read more about Macy's perspective, click here.)



Anonymous said...

Michael, I'm going to call a bullshit on you: GLBT folk did not invent pain, and to assert otherwise, as you do ad nauseum, is the living and perfect definition and demonstration of sanctimony in practice - your public practice I might add.

Quoting the documents of Vatican II isn't magical thinking, its the Faith of the Church. Well, do you believe it or not? Catholicism on my terms along - or your terms alone - is not Catholicism at all. If you are going to appeal to a particular reading of history to justify a particularly self-serving form of diversity, you can be more honest about it than alluding to the magic date of 1870 - when the Roman Church broke off from what you might call the faithful remnant of Utrecht.

But lets get back to "pain." Your writing already shows very clearly that you don't care what the pastors of Church think. That at least places you in good company - lots of people don't care for the Magisterium or its teaching. Lack of adherence to the teaching on birth control, for example, is very old news. I used to be part of that group. Morality in Catholicism is not formed by the flickering consensus of the majority in changing historical context. Some things are constructed that way, but there's got to be something unwavering in morality. Else why do people keep reaching for it? If there's nothing trans-contextual about morality, why is there even a moral impluse? Where does that impluse come from? That impulse is invarient, culturally and temporally - why. But that begs the question. Back to pain.

Pain is part and parcel of life on this mortal coil. GLBT folk don't have a lock on it. And whatever pain they feel isn't caused by some bad, old bishop somwhere. Honestly, most people IGNORE the bishops and for some reason are still "in pain." Why for heaven's sake WHY? The bishop can't be causing your pain, the bishop is an idiot whose pronouncements I ignore.

So where does that pain come from. Hurtful statements by the Roman Catholic Church? But wait, I ignore those too? Why do I hurt, why to I feel pppaaaaiiiinn? Oh why, oh why, oh why? Resistance to same-sex marriage? For most Americans under 30 this is a non-issue. How about all those bad, evil, mean, spiteful, close-minded people over 40? Well the Boomers are slowly dying off. Their repression can't last for long - those Boomers are croaking.

Hmmm...the legal system? The Human Rights Campaign seems to have zeroed in on a very successful legal strategy, namely that marriage (however you define it) is a civil right. Denial of marriage rights to a protected class is against the state and Federal constitutions. The slow march of liberty has had some setbacks, to be sure, but eventually the whole country will overturn those silly, evil, mean, restrictive, disrespectful, and painful, old-fashioned, cultural and legal constructs in favor of true liberty, and then my pain will stop. But many people, gay & straight, simply ignore the law and do what they want. Yes, they don't have all the precious rights they deserve, but the tide is turning and righteousness won't be denied. So I ask you, why all the talk about pain if hierarchy, the church, the state and even society are on your side?

There can't be any talk of pain, the pain of (for conversation's sake) 10% of the population, when there is no talk or recognition of the 30, 40, 50 or even 60% of the population with chronic illnesses like cancer and heart disease. Or the 90% of the population with clinically measurable mental illness (of whom I am one, thank you very much). Where, I ask you, is recognition of some one else's pain? Or is pain only the province of self-declared sexual minorities?

And speaking of sexual minorities, what of the rights of all those denied their voices? The adulterers, the swingers, the polyamorous? The animal lovers, the leather fetishists and the BDSM crowd? A quick trip to the Dignity web site will show you the Defenders, who proclaim a new Gospel of Christian compatibilty with a Leather Livestyle? Is there to be no justice for every measurable sexual minority that Kinsey every cataloged? Only the ones with full, adult consent and no measurable, lasting harm, of course.

The "progressive Catholic" is opening a can of worms. I don't think the "progressive Catholic" is truly prepared for what they are birthing.

Methinks, dear sir, your particular form of Catholicism lacks what the late Gov. Ann Richard (D - Tex) called "testicular fortitude." Sanctimony? Your courageous (and it is courageous) hosting of a blog from the progressive, Catholic and gay perspective does not award you monopoly application of the word "sanctimony."

I reject your rejection and demand you to return to the many questions asked here. You started this row - finish it - not by dismissing questions, but by meeting them head on. Surely the (Holy) Spirit you appeal to will not leave you voiceless. Lets hear that voice - if the (Holy) Spirit is truly giving you utterance.

Mark Andrews

Anonymous said...

With all due respect, I think people demanding a liturgy outside the wide options of the GIRM are demanding a liturgy of their fashion, and that's hubris to me.

As to the feeling that active participation and following rubrics can't happen, you can have both and lots of parishes do.

Diversity is important to Catholics, but so is unity. And the Mass is so foundational that it is no one group's own property. It is what we all, all 1 billion of us, share. It is important to hold things in common as well as be different.

St. Augustine said it best- as I recall the basic idea is, 'unity in the essentials, diversity in the nonessentials'. If someone can get the real quote, that would be better. :)

Peace to you, Michael, I can tell this has hurt you. But it needn't any longer. It is possible that your community got so far off the liturgical track that correction was needed. Make friends with the Mass that your larger circle of brothers and sisters experience. Its not all that bad. :)

So stay if you're staying, and I hope you do. You and all affected by this action are in my prayers.

Your Sister in Christ,

Mary Ann

Anonymous said...

Hi, Michael,
These are indeed the people of Vatican II, and their expulsion is to my mind something in the genre of the aposynagogein of John 9. (By the way, it's the "flesh" not the "form" that "profits nothing" in John 6, though the meaning is probably the same.)
Someone jeers that you are looking for Protestant model of liturgy, but to my mind the very fact that liturgies like yours seem similar to those of the Anglican communities is an indication of their universal Christian and Catholic quality. The liturgical renewal brought a great rapprochement between the Christian churches, as was willed by Paul VI. The failure of the Church to implement Vatican II at the level of macrostructures and at the level of fostering parish communities has left the entire world -- which so badly needs models of society and community -- in the lurch. It is a deeply sinful situation, and sin indeed causes "pain".
Joe O'Leary

Walter said...

"Coadjutor Archbishop Nienstedt,] please explain how you come to know the list of rulings about right and wrong that you say God has made."

The very first line of this shows me something is horribly wrong here. How can this group really not know where "right and wrong" that Nienstedt speak of comes from? It comes from Christ, from the Holy Scriptures and from Sacred Tradition.

And yes, of course all institutions are falliable as they are composed of humans. But the Holy Father and the Magestirium are no ordinary institution. You must know, as any person who claims to call themselves Catholic must, that the Magestrium and the Pope are lead by the Holy Spirit. That is why through 2000 years (and some very bad popes) none has taught heresy. I pray to God in thanskgiving for Pope Benedict as he is working to correct those within the Church who, like you and your group, have used the work of Vatican II for you own personal reasons and not out of love for Christ and His Church.

If you fail to recognize this and the teachings of the Church then you and your group ae nothing but Protestants infected with the most insidious and erroneous of Modernist thought. That's ok but don't think you are in any way Catholic.

As I have said before to to others, there is no liberal, conservative, or "progressive" or "gay" Catholic or Catholicism; there is only Catholic. One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. You either are or are not in that Church, the Body of Christ.

I will pray that you see your errors and return to Christ's bosom.

kevin57 said...

What I sense is being argued here are two distinct--and necessary--dynamics in the Church. It is not a question of "obedience" and "modernism," etc. Yes, the Church is the "magister," the teacher, and all Catholics must receive her teachings attentively and respectfully. But there are several theological missteps of what I call the Catholic brand of "funny-mentalism"; that is, what Rome or a bishop says is the end of all discussion. But this is indeed a Catholic position:

1) Teaching to be authentic needs to be accepted by the faithful. That's a theological fact and part of sacred tradition. Please don't say, "if even 5% of Catholics believe something, that doesn't matter." It does matter. It has always mattered. The Holy Spirit does speak to the CHURCH. That certainly includes the hierarchy, but is never exclusively the hierarchy's.

2) Even the most ardent amongst the "orthodox" would agree--and celebrate--the Church's attempts to "conserve" tradition. Perhaps this is a good thing. Perhaps not. One thing I do know is that a 100% following of any "spirit of the day" is probably not God's will, and a 100% trying to "conserve" the past is almost certainly not God's will. Most of the "orthodox" are uncomfortable with the Holy Spirit whose origins and ends we cannot predict or control (cf. Gospel of John). If all we were supposed to do is accept whatever the hierarchy pronounces, we'd still be condemning Galileo (okay, until recently we would have). More recently, we'd still be rejecting Teillard. Remember, it was not too long ago that the Vatican was uncomfortable with evolution.

3) To wit: those who throw around "modernism," a series of tenets condemned under Pio No-no, um, you may be check out Vatican Council II because that Council accepted much of what modernism was attempting to do-while, yes, rejecting its goofier claims.

4) The hierarchy of the Church must at the very least engage voices that disagree with them. I think what truly works against the spirit of the Church as "communio" is when bishops hand down pronouncements and then are not willing to engage opposing voices. I don't know your Archbishop, but he sounds all-too-typical. From my standpoint he lacks the intelligence or courage or humility to be a brother in faith. That's one thing I'll give Cardinal George (and nobody doubts his orthodoxy). He'll go to gay parishes in Chicago and engage people. He'll listen and dialogue, and I know that he tells Rome and he tells his audiences that he disagrees with certain items (For instance, he was deeply disturbed that the Vatican continues to use the word 'disordered' for homosexuals.). But, how many bishops do this? Sad.

4) Finally, it is a CATHOLIC position (see Thomas Aquinas) that the more specific the situation, the less applicable a moral law may be. Example: Stealing is wrong. Every human knows this by "natural law" if not from God's commandments. Fine. But we also "know" from those same sources that if a father has a hungry family, he is not only allowed but obligated to steal food in order to feed them. But aside from those very broad and universally recognized moral imperatives, there is a host of circumstances that only one's conscience can the migrant worker whose labor is utterly undervalued and is treated unjusty. PRE-Vatican II moral theology taught that he may engage in "occult compensation." Note Pre-

Anonymous said...

"Teaching to be authentic needs to be accepted by the faithful."

The "faithful" do accept the teaching of the Magisterium. If you don't that doesn't make the teaching inauthentic, it simply makes you unfaithful.


kevin57 said...

So, Judith, 95% of Catholics are unfaithful. That means they are all wrong and the teaching is perfectly fine.

I guess Donatism and Jansenism never have disappeared

Nina said...

“They all have to play with the same playbook,” says Dennis McGrath, spokesman for the archdiocese. “They’ve had plenty of warnings to get their act together.”

He speaks though the early church hadn't been a garden of liturgical diversity, as though the Celtic Church hadn't been full of lovely things that got stamped out at Whitby, as though the whole history of varying liturgies at different times and places had been invalidated by a committee. His imagery suggests that the liturgy is a game to be played by a franchise, rather than the source and summit of community experience, that "Catholic" is a brand name rather than a bone-deep identity. He seems not to realize that the Holy Spirit, that wild and creative force, has been working and will continue to work no matter who tries to shut Her up.

Thank God one community resisted. Pray God more will.

Michael, my brother, keep the faith. I know where I'll be worshiping if I ever get out your way.

Michael J. Bayly said...

Hi Mark,

First, I apologize for referring to you and your comments as “sanctimonious.” It was a bad choice of word.

I think what I was responding to was a perceived attempt on your part to minimize or rationalize the “pain” that LGBT people experience. Reading your clinical-sounding (to my ears) listing of why people might experience pain, I wondered: Why not just listen to LGBT people themselves for the answer?

Second, could you please highlight where on The Wild Reed I assert that GLBT people invented pain or that they have a “lock” on it?

To be honest, I personally don’t talk about any “pain” in my life as being the result of church teaching. Pissed off and incredulous I may sometimes be, but I’ve never cried myself to sleep about what the pope thinks or says. Like so many within the “leadership” of the church, he’s just uninformed and fearful of change when it comes to the issue of homosexuality. As a result, I feel inspired and challenged to help bring about enlightenment and reform within the church around this issue.

Having said that, the teaching of the church on homosexuality can and does cause feelings of hurt for many LGBT people. Why? Because these teaching clearly indicate that the experiences and insights of LGBT people have not been listened to and are not worthy of being listened to. And the message they can take from this? That their lives and relationships have nothing to say about God present and active in human life.

Some LGBT people are deeply hurt by this way of thinking on the part of the hierarchy – especially if they see church authority figures solely as “daddy” figures who have to be pleased. And let’s face it, adult faith formation is not exactly encouraged by the hierarchy. Better to keep people as little children whose feelings can be easily hurt by disapproval, and whose thoughts and actions can thus be more easily controlled.

Yet there comes a time for “putting away childish things,” and so thankfully I feel as if I have developed an adult faith. And just as an adult has an adult relationship with his/her parents, I strive to have a similar one with church authorities. If my parents were to say something that was uninformed and insensitive, I would call them on it. Likewise with members of the hierarchy.

Some other thoughts prompted by your last comment:

Quoting church documents (or scripture for that matter) without taking into consideration the context in which they were written or the context in which they’re now being read, and believing that such attention to context is unnecessary does indeed reflect a type of “magical thinking.”

I do care indeed what the “pastors of the Church” think – especially when what they think is so uninformed and insensitive, and results in the writing and publication of equally uninformed and insensitive teaching documents. There may well be “something unwavering” in morality, but I think to ascertain this in terms of sexual morality, one can do much better than look to the limited understanding of the Magisterium of the Roman Catholic Church.

And as for morality not being formed by the consensus of the majority, what then to make of Cardinal John Henry Newman’s words: “The body of the faithful is one of the witnesses to the fact of the tradition of revealed doctrine, and . . . their consensus through Christendom is the voice of the Infallible Church.”

You ask: “Where is recognition of some one else’s pain?”

Well, for starters, this blog is focused on LGBT Catholics, not on people suffering chronic pain or mental illness. That’s not the focus of The Wild Reed.

Having said that, I have addressed the “pain” and struggles of others beyond the LGBT community. Visit, for instance, here, here, here, and, most recently, here - where I share how a recent bout of food poisoning prompted me to consider and take action on behalf of those who don’t have the benefits I have so as to deal with and recover from physical discomfort and sickness.

You also state: “And speaking of sexual minorities, what of the rights of all those denied their voices? The adulterers, the swingers, the polyamorous? The animal lovers, the leather fetishists and the BDSM crowd?”

Hey, if any of these are your thing, then I’m sorry to say that you won’t find them here. They’re not what The Wild Reed is about (although I do actually discuss S&M here! Which may partly address your question: “Is there to be no justice for every measurable sexual minority that Kinsey every cataloged?”)

And finally, you state: “The ‘progressive Catholic’ is opening a can of worms.” Well, that’s one, negative way of looking at things. Personally, I prefer to trust the leading of the Spirit. And to use the words of Pope John XXIII, I trust that the Spirit guides us in “cultivating a flowering garden of life.”



Anonymous said...

Interesting stuff being discussed.

Thanks for what you're doing.

Michael J. Bayly said...


Thanks for your comments. As always, I'm deeply impressed by your knowledge and insight - and, more importantly, by the gentle way you always seem to engage people.



Anonymous said...

Dear Michael,

The only way I can respond to a public apology is in kind (Mt 5:21-26):


I publicly apologize to you and everyone here for being:

* insulting
* inconsiderate
* having poor boundaries

and coming completely unglued on this blog.

I will for now refrain from posting until I can do so with a civil tongue in my head. I will lurk (NOT troll) for a while. It will be a good Lenten practice.

Again, my apologies for being so rude,

Mark Andrews

Kasia said...

For what it's worth, the Augustinian quote is: "In essentials, unity; in nonessentials, liberty; in all things, charity."