In an article about dissent within the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of Portland and the Diocese of Baker in Oregon.
The Rev. Thomas Farley, pastor of Greger’s parish, St. Clare Church in Portland, seems to see the church as a very big table, one that ought to value dialogue.
The Catholic Catechism, an 800-page book that outlines the church’s faith and doctrine, declares that there is a hierarchy of truth without spelling out what that hierarchy is, Farley says. He has his own ideas of what that hierarchy may be, and so do his parishioners.
"Christ and human beings are mysteries that can’t be captured in words," he says. "To pull people out of smaller perceptions and into bigger ones, (how one does that) that, too, is a mystery. Dialogue is so important, my talking and my listening in order to expand my experience and this heritage of faith."
So let me get this straight. The Catechism is insufficient since human beings are mysteries that can’t be captured in words and the solution for this is to dialogue. Last time I checked dialogue required words. His statement on the hierarchy of truths is less than truthful. When the Catechism talks about this subject it places dogmas of the Church at the top of that order. That they have their "own ideas of what this hierarchy might be" is not surprising. They reverse what God did in Genesis and place their own image and likeness on the Church. I heard a homily a couple a weeks ago where the priest who is in charge of a Catholic schools admitted that he never read the new Catechism and also called it a 800 page book. He said he preferred imagination when teaching which I guess makes sense since when I have heard him preach it was pretty close to fiction compared to Catholic theology. So I guess the only thing that progressive priests agree about the Catechism is that it is a 800 page book.
The article goes on with the typical progressive cliches about the Church changing in the past and needing to change to prevent from becoming stagnant. Also included is the oxymoron "faithful dissent" giving as example Saints and other who bucked the Church. What they never mention is that in such cases of reform is that is was some in the Church’s hierarchy who were actually dissenting from Church teaching and that the reformers being faithful to Church teaching were calling them back. Just as we as sinners are constantly in need of reform, so are all the members of the Church from the laity to those in religious life or with Holy Orders. But we are to reform to the truth, not pick what are the truths in which we will reform to. Normally if we look at our own beliefs and then decide that it is the Church that needs reforming instead of ourselves – we have gotten it exactly backwards. To say for example that the Church can change its teaching on homosexuality is also to say that sometime in the future they could change it back. If these teaching can change then why not the teachings on helping the poor?
Linda Dove and Judy Ringle are both members of St. Mary parish in Corvallis. The two women organized a reading group that has been meeting for several months. Right now, they’re discussing "In Search of Belief," a study of the Apostles’ Creed written by Sister Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister who’s written dozens of books.
Some Catholics from St. Mary’s have challenged the group, which had met on church property with the parish priest’s permission. Now they’re back to meeting "off campus," Dove says.
"To question is not to deny," she says, paraphrasing Chittister. Love and Ringle are dismayed by the implication that they are not "faithful" Catholics.
"Don’t call me a dissenter," says Ringle, 66. "I am a faithful Catholic who loves the church and assents to the movement of the Holy Spirit in this era."
Dove, who is 51, says she’s been called "Catholic to the bone" and only recently been criticized because she has spoken in favor of inclusive language and the ordination of women.
Both women wonder why it is hard to find a place inside their church to study, talk and pray about issues that are not easy to accept or reject for any number of reasons. What they want, they insist, is a discussion.
"Discussion is of the essence," Chittister says in an interview. "Discussion is why you have theological study.
Theological study is belief seeking understanding, not justifying your own opinions and wanting the Church to understand them. There is just so much mistaken thought here. To want to dissent from Church teaching and at the same time not to be called a dissenter is ridiculous. Why is it that progressives only think that the Holy Spirit is moving in this era. Do they think that the Holy Spirit is a slacker that just waited all these years to finally influence the Church? This is more akin to the Protestant view of things who sees church history as starting at the time of Luther. Or that the Holy Spirit now wants to contradict what was inspired in scripture? This of course is why there has be so many attacks on the Bible so as to specifically deny that it was inspired and that their own beliefs are the ones inspired. Theological study first and foremost requires humility. I know myself like most converts did not just one day see that the Catholic Church was right in all its teachings. It took must struggle to start to see where I had been wrong and where I had to discard what were my own beliefs. This is not an easy process, especially when there are some of your own sins attached to a specific teaching.
"Nothing has been settled, finally, in the Catholic Church. The church spent 300 years discussing the nature of Jesus. We have to assume that the Holy Spirit goes on working."
So I guess Sr. Chittister if nothing has been finally settled then it could still turn out that the Council of Nicea was wrong and that Arius was right? We come to a deeper understanding of mysteries, not a different understanding. Arius idea was seen as novel at the time and specifically not as something that had be taught by Apostles and the Church put the question to bed and you can not believe that Jesus isn’t divine and call yourself a faithful Catholic. You can no longer have a discussion as to whether Jesus is divine or to dialogue on the subject without being branded truly as a heretic.
In her lifetime, Chittister points out, the church told Catholics that they "would go to hell" it they ate meat on Fridays and received Communion in their hands. Now Catholics may eat meat on Fridays, except during Lent, and Communion in the hands is a practice of the church, she says.
This is exactly the problem with dissenters is that their arguments are intellectually vapid. For all their talk about nuance they see Church law as black and white and make no distinctions between divine law and Church law pertaining to penitential practices. Jimmy Akin had an excellent post on this subject not too long ago. The reason they bring up cases like this to justify their opposition to Church teaching is that this is the only intellectual argument they have. Unfortunately even this weak argument is sufficient for some to continue to justify their own beliefs.