Tuesday, April 20, 2010

It's time

It's way past time.

The eminent Catholic theologian Hans Kung has spoken out in an open letter to the bishops on what he perceives to be a crisis in the Church -- a crisis much broader than child abuse. Among other things, he mentions the Vatican's retrogressive attitude toward science.

As someone who has long since left the practice of the faith, perhaps I have no right to offer an opinion. But my affection for the Church remains. Like many Catholics who have left the fold, I care. This may not be the appropriate venue for so parochial a subject, but here goes.

It's time for a clean sweep.

It's time to throw out the pampered bureaucrats in Rome, with their silly Renaissance costumes, watched over by guardsmen in even sillier outfits with halberds no less, waited on by subservient nuns in the Catholic equivalents of burkas. It's time to end the groveling before men who live in palaces, the ring kissing, the ruby slippers, the obsequious deference.

It's time to see the Church as a people, not a monarchy.

It's time to reform the archaic theology based on an inchoate mix of Platonic and Aristotelean philosophy, as if the last four hundred years of scientific discovery never happened.

That is to say, it's time to end the miracle-mongering and the magic.

It's time to admit that women are fully human, and as able -- perhaps more so in the present circumstances -- to minister to the needs of the faithful.

It's time to let men and women ministers, heterosexual and homosexual, live normal partnered relationships in sacramental unions, if they so choose.

It's time to abandon the proscription on artificial contraception that has caused so much human suffering and death in developing countries.

It's time to rekindle the forward-looking spirit of Vatican II and John XXIII.

This morning I walked through the community cemetery of the Eastern Province of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the order of priests who -- among many other ministries -- founded my college. So many of the stones evoked memories of remarkable men who dedicated their talented lives to the service of others. Be sure of this: there is goodness -- a tidal wave of goodness -- in the Church, waiting to be released, waiting to be empowered, among the laity and professed men and women.

It's time.

This rant is prompted by an invitation from a center for spirituality in the American midwest, sponsored by an order of American Catholic nuns, an invitation I am unfortunately not able to accept. These women, and others like them I have met, are remaking the Church in the image of the man of Nazareth who preached on the Mount. They are living lives of spirituality and service, open to goodness wherever they find it. Almost unanimously, in my experience, they embrace and celebrate contemporary scientific cosmology, both in substance and in spirit. When I am in their presence, I feel a breath of sweetness flowing through a greening Earth. And for their trouble they get hauled on the carpet in Rome, chastised by bishops, lectured by fuddy-duddy bureaucrats intent on rooting out every whiff of nonconformity.

It's time. It's way past time.