Friday, June 17, 2011

In the News: Matthew Fox on Catholic Future, Boston Parish on Welcoming All, and John McWhorter on Tracy Morgan

As the weekend approaches, a selection of worthwhile articles on a variety of topics:

First, former Catholic priest-theologian (he's now Episcopalian, having been driven away from the Catholic church by its current leaders) Matthew Fox in the Washington Post on what the Catholic church might have become, had Popes John Paul II and Benedict not chosen to turn their backs on the mandates of the church's last ecumenical gathering of all bishops in the world, Vatican II: 

Pope John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council of the early 1960’s has been called the “greatest religious event of the twentieth century.”  Sadly, the papacy of John Paul II turned its back on its principles, including the courageous response of Latin American Liberation Theology that supported the poor and oppressed in direct expression of Gospel values. Further, contrary to the spirit and law of Vatican II, a modern day Inquisition was launched with Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) as chief inquisitor. One can argue that in squelching the Vatican Council, the Vatican has been in schism for 40 years since traditionally Councils trump popes, popes don’t trump Councils.

Can the Catholic Church resurrect from its self-dug grave and experience another renaissance in giving great souls and ideas to the world? As I point out in my recent book, The Pope’s War, if an angry lay movement rises up and launches Lay councils instead of Vatican councils, and moves to deconstruct the church as we know it and reconstruct it on the authentic principles of Jesus’ spirit and teaching, surely something wonderful and needed could occur.  The Detroit gathering [i.e., the recent American Catholic Council], the archbishop not withstanding, seemed to be such a launch.

"The Vatican has been in schism for 40 years" and "an angry lay movement" needs to rise up and launch lay councils instead of Vatican councils: provocative theses, but not particularly far-fetched ones, as there's talk in places like Germany now, prior to the German pope's impending visit to his homeland, of such disaffection among many German Catholics that they may separate themselves from the Vatican and set up a national church to address the serious problems the papacy refuses to permit their bishops to address.

And, as Maureen Fiedler writes in the wake of the recent American Catholic Council, new and independent Catholic communities are now springing up throughout the world, most of them outside the purview of the hierarchy, almost all of them granting to women and gay persons the full range of rights the Roman hierarchy denies to them.  But as she also notes, these movements inspired by Vatican II are graying, and as Fox points out, younger Catholics raised under the last two popes have known nothing but the "iron-fisted ideology that first John Paul II and then Benedict XVI have enforced in the process of condemning condoms, birth control, liberation theology, creation spirituality, women, gays, the 'secular world' and much more."

And so one wonders where hope now lies, given the deliberate theological miseducation of the John Paul II generation of Catholics and the willingness of badly catechized JPII Catholics to buy into the system that has deliberately miseducated them.

Second noteworthy article (with a noteworthy video clip): a summary of the "fiery" homily insisting on the obligation of the Catholic church to make all welcome that I mentioned a day or so ago.  This HuffPo article about the sermon includes a video clip with actual footage from Rev. John Unni's homily at St. Cecilia's church in Boston on Pentecost Sunday.

And, finally, John McWhorter of New Republic commenting (as an African-American man) on the Tracy Morgan debacle and noting the imperative need of the black community to get over its deep homophobia, and the imperative need of black men, in particular, to cease imagining that they have special entitlement to use gay men as punching bags in a quest to bolster African-American male self-worth.  McWhorter writes, 

But the truth is that homophobia has a nastier sting in the black community overall than it does in the white community overall. There is a problem. Talking around it helps no one. Nor will the fashionable strategy of tarring the whole discussion as “pathologizing” the black community, as if black people’s history in slavery and Jim Crow somehow makes us exempt from criticism. 


It’s really pretty simple: If America is supposed to do a month of penance every time a white person uses the N-word—and even when just referring to it, a la Dr. Laura last year—then it’s time for black people to start buttoning up on “faggot” and other expressions of unenlightened bigotry against gay people. It’s not funny. It’s not overblown—say “get over it” and remember that if T.R. Knight had called Isaiah Washington a nigger, Knight would never have worked again.

And, at this point, it’s just embarrassing. Black leaders and thinkers insist furiously that America is not “post-racial” and that anyone who doubts it is either ignorant or a moral pervert. Yet here are black men—even educated, cosmopolitan ones—thinking it’s okay to haul off with the word faggot when they get mad.

No, it’s not okay. This time it’s black people’s Teachable Moment. Men like this must start exerting the same exquisite self-control that they expect of the rest of America.

McWhorter's right on the mark.

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