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.
“the oxymoron, ‘faithful dissent'”
I have been saying for some time now that the whole liberal movement (if that is its proper name) has been one gargantuan effort to avoid the logical principle of non-contradiction. In their world, while Christ cannot be both man and God, nuns can be both Catholic Religious and viscious anti-Catholic bigots. Priests can be priests of Christ without believing in the institution of the Church which makes them priests.
Ah liberalism, belieiving so trustfully that opposed things can be ‘reconciled’ with enough dialogue. Try it with matter and anti-matter and see what happens to the lab.
Samurai, tornado season, dissent … lots of chaos today
Did you realize that nothing in the Chuch is ever settled?
I got bent out of shape this morning … Seems thoug…
“Discussion is of the essence,” Chittister says in an interview. “Discussion is why you have theological study.
These people want to keep discussing and discussing until they get their way and then they will ban all discussion.
Luckily the Holy Spirit is still working in this era, just like in all the other eras, and will keep them from getting their way. Now why the Holy Spirit doesn’t somehow keep them from discussing what they want to discuss, well, that’s one of the great Christian mysteries.
The distinction between doctrines and disciplines is pretty straightforward – my Jewish mother-in-law got it in one when I explained it to her. Why is it so difficult for Catholics to grasp? If Catholic-to-the-core doesn’t mean willing to be taught by the Church, even in a matter that puzzles or saddens one, it doesn’t mean anything at all.
The usual article–pitting it as a dispute between the brave laity and the fearful hierarchy. Lazy, lazy, lazy. It would have taken about 30 seconds to find laity on the opposite side of Oregon’s chapter of Clan Chittister, but that would have blown up the meme, I suppose.
A church in perpetual dialogue about absolutes is one that cannot be taken seriously.
When the Catechism talks about this subject it places dogmas of the Church at the top of that order.
Isn’t it interested that they are blind to this?
“To question is not to deny,” she says, paraphrasing Chittister. Love and Ringle are dismayed by the implication that they are not “faithful” Catholics.
The thing that bugs me about this is that they don’t take ANY time at all to discover what they church REALLY teaches. They usually set up a strawman, made up of hearsay and soundbites, and never delve into the church’s real position on something. They just jump right into the “question” period. I say, find out the actual teaching first. Delve into that. When I see that happen, somehow, it nevers gets into the Chissiter phase. Somehow, when people actually study the actual teachings of the church, they just seem to sort of stop and dwell there….sometimes for the rest of their lives. There is so much beauty there, you’d never have to move on to the “question” phase at all…
I mean interesting above, it is interesting that the Chissiter crowd is blind to the guidance of the truth as taught by the Church. The thing is, they no longer want to believe in church as a heirarchical entity. They think and believe that old “stages of religious belief” garbagio and restate that in our times, we don’t just march after the leader, as we did in the “old days” like 40 years ago. Now, we’re beyond that, because we’re no longer children in our religious beliefs. Adults question, and find things out for themselves. And the sad thing is, they seem determined that the adults couldn’t POSSIBLY find out the truths that children find out, that would be so backward. So, the adults have to find something new, something Chissiterish, in order to be seen as progressive and forward thinking and modern and with it,
am I making any sense to anyone?
I agree- as Catholics, we can’t embrace every passing feel-good trend and blend it in with our teachings as a truth.
An interesting note to what actually happened at St Mary’s parish in Corvallis. Linda Dove and Judy Ringle chose to not meet at the church because they could not stand dialogue or any dissention to their dissent. A number of orthodox Catholics merely came to their “open” discussion and were told their views were mean and completely unacceptable. Now St Mary’s has a truly Catholic Book Club! Want to come?
Thanks for a great fisking (demolition of an egregiously bad article). I am a member of the Corvallis book club mentioned in the article. The “Book Club” was a front and recruiting tool for Call to Action at our parish. It was run by the local CTA organizer, Linda Dove. Many people showed up to rebut the selected book by Joan Chittister, a CTA founder and regular speaker.We would civilly point out how her book misrepresented Church teaching. This upset them greatly and they reacted with great hostility. They were not at all interested in a “conversation” or a “dialog”. We are still here if they want to talk to us. There were so many of us doing this that the “book club” was not serving their purpose. So they chose to leave the book club, which we continue as an open group discussing Catholic books and ideas. They and anyone else is welcome to attend. It is important to note that the article does not mention the organization Call to Action, even though virtually all of the dissenters mentioned are members and leaders of that organization. Robert McClory, ex-priest, founder of the CTA newspaper, and frequent CTA speaker, lectured at St. Clares (Portland), St. Mary’s (Corvallis), and Bend in January of this year.
It’s not only children whose minds and hearts can be influenced by their companions and mentors. If we hang around with dissenters and the ones who enjoy thinking of themselves as avant-garde thinkers in matters of faith, we will find that we are slipping off center in our faith lives. Being enthralled with Marcus Borg, for instance, will not build up one’s catholicism, nor will reading Sr. Joan Chittister. Our priests, being human, are not immune to these influences either.
Did McClory didn’t make any headway in Bend? I doubt it but would really like to know!
Never having to say your sorry. AKA: Never having to go to confession. What a sad state of affairs. I pray for our church. I am discouraged here in Corvallis. Please pray for us. These “dissenters” are really a sad lot. Their pain is equal to their dissent. They are in the clutches of the father of lies, Satan. Pray for them.
You have to be kidding! Dissent is theologically necessary to sustain the Church. It’s those who can’t open their hearts and minds to different perspectives, equally valuable, and with foundations in scripture and the traditions of the Church, who have a problem and are holding out on what could be a great community.