Friday, November 11, 2011

Occupying Catholicism: Terry Weldon and Jayden Cameron Report on Austrian Movement

Building on the excerpt I posted yesterday from Jamie Manson's recent keynote address at the Call to Action gathering, I want to point to two valuable summaries of what's happening right now in the Austrian Catholic church.  At Open Tabernacle, Terry Weldon compares the We Are Church movement in Austria, which has the strong support of a sizable proportion of Austria's Catholic priests, to the Occupy movement.

Terry notes that one of the steps being proposed now by the Occupy movement in Austrian Catholicism is that lay people will begin celebrating the Eucharist in priestess parishes.  This represents a rejection of the "magical" theology about which Jamie Manson speaks in the excerpt to which I pointed yesterday, which assumes that only priests have the power to celebrate the sacraments, and the laity must depend utterly on clerical mediation for those celebrations.  And so the movement on which Terry is reporting asserts, in the face of that magical thinking promoted by the Catholic hierarchy, the right of the people of God to own the sacraments and to invoke the power of the Spirit dwelling within them in sacramental celebrations, as more and more parishes go without clergy (and without the Eucharist), while Rome chooses to hinge the future of Catholicism on the continuation of an historically determined system that will ordain only (ostensibly) celibate men.

At Gay Mystic, Jayden Cameron reports on this same discussion, noting powerfully,

This is just the kind of prophetic act the Church needs in this time of crisis to highlight the fact that the hierarchy, who have become mere bureaucratic administrators of  Church 'buildings' and little more (except as signs of contradiction), do not possess some charismatic superiority, some special supernatural power,  that elevates them above the laity. It is this misinformed adulation and 'idolization' of hierarchical power that the community called Church needs to purge from its body, this powerful addiction to sacral power residing exclusively in specially blessed male leaders. This act, if carried out, has implications far more profound than simply providing a solution to the priest shortage. The very system of clericalism needs to go and nothing less than a shock of this magnitude will effect such a profound purification.

Jamie Manson's story about how Louise Lears's mother and brother and sister Catholics handled the command of Archbishop Burke to remove the Eucharistic bread from her mouth suggests that there's a powerful hunger among the Catholic people to feed and be fed, despite the decrees and delicts of our prelates.  And we'll find ways to keep feeding and being fed, no matter what the lords of the church decree, declare, or fulminate.

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