Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Quote of the Day

. . . [W]e've known for some fifty years now that the kinds of absolutist, top-down, authoritarian claims the bishops want to push in their "arguments" against Elizabeth Johnson have a shaky historical and biblical foundation. Vatican II has also taken place, and it has reminded us that the bishops and pope are not the whole church. The church is the people of God in pilgrimage towards a truth to be found at the end of history which transcends anything the church is, does, and teaches here and now. And we seek that eschatological truth together, in community.

And so why are the bishops now trying to revive and reassert long outmoded arguments about what it means to be a bishop, an apostle, a teacher in the Catholic church? Why are they trying now to reassert long-since exploded arguments about their exclusive right to define Catholicity?

Why are we speaking now of the finding that 98% of lay Catholics reject the teaching on artificial contraception as if this is some new finding--when these figures have been known since the late 1960s? What is it about the current state of the Catholic church that elicits this sudden muscular reaction on the part of the bishops, and the sudden spirited defense by a small handful of restorationist Catholics of the muscular episcopal Catholicism of the U.S. bishops and the Vatican?

It's clear to me that the bishops' (and the Vatican's) backs are up against the wall right now, and instead of talking with the faithful about the crisis in which the Catholic church now finds itself, they intend to become even more authoritarian, more repressive, more evasive – evasive when it comes to facing the plain truth of, say, what ordinary Catholics think and do re: contraception, for instance.

Evasive when it comes to facing and admitting the plain truth of their astonishing malfeasance as pastoral leaders, vis-a-vis the abuse crisis. Evasive when it comes to acknowledging that a huge number of Catholics in the developing parts of the world are simply walking away. That they're tired of the nonsense. That they've grown weary of the diversions and scapegoating of nuns and feminist theologians and gays and lesbians.

And of the empty authoritarian gestures masquerading as genuine pastoral leadership and credible theological or moral teaching. The Catholic church is in serious crisis today, because its leadership structures are in crisis . . .

– William D. Lindsey

See also William's follow-up piece:
The Elizabeth Johnson Case and the Teaching Authority of the Bishops: Further Reflections– William D. Lindsey (Bilgrimage, April 24, 2011).

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