Friday, June 8, 2012

From the Blogs: Bishops' "Religious Liberty" War, Attack on Nuns, and More

As the work week ends, a selection of tidbits from blog postings around the web that have caught my eye this week--most of them about the U.S. Catholic bishops' faux "religious liberty" war or the recent Vatican statement about Sr. Margaret Farley, but also (two fine concluding statements in this vein) about the theological issues underlying these current stories:

Liberty for me but not for thee: at Michael Bayly's Progressive Catholic Voice site, an excerpt from University of Virginia professor of constitutional law, Douglas Laycock, writing in Commonweal about the Catholic bishops and religious liberty:

The bishops claim liberty for themselves, and for the large institutions they control, while also fighting to restrict the liberty of others with respect to abortion, emergency contraception, and same-sex relationships. 

Then and now, the backstory of Catholic leaders' shock-and-awe campaign: in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Susan Hogan reminds us of how the bishops were behaving 10 years ago in Dallas--and what they want us to forget now, as they mount their shock-and-awe "religious liberty" demonstrations around the nation today:

Instead of being viewed as weak, they're flexing their ecclesiastical muscles politically in hopes of being seen as strong. Don't buy it. This summer, when bishops are claiming to be victims of a political system that has trampled on their religious rights, take a moment to remember that they had to be publicly humiliated 10 years ago into taking action to protect children from predatory clergy.

Paranoid, me?! Who's been saying that?: at Diary of a Wimpy Catholic, Max Lindenman wonders if the gentlemen running the church may have gone a tad bit . . . crazy . . . lately:

To win over swing voters, it’s time to break out the soft soap. Less paranoia from them could mean more metanoia from us.

Please, pretty please, condemn me!: at Slacktivist, Fred Clark notes how Sr. Margaret Farley's book sales have vaulted to the top of the charts after the Vatican condemned her book Just Love:

Farley’s publisher is probably scrambling to see if they can get the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith to condemn the rest of their catalogue.

Who'll buy my wares?: and at Queering the Church, Terry Weldon makes the same point with a headline that takes the prize for wryness: 

Sr Margaret Farley Rebuked by CDF: Book Sales Set to Boom

Men behaving very, very badlyMike McShea at This Cultural Christian blog proposes that the Vatican is perhaps not putting its very best foot forward, image-managementwise, in attacking yet another highly respected American nun-theologian, citing Maureen Dowd:

This latest ignoble fight with a noble nun adds to the picture of a Catholic Church in a permanent defensive crouch, steeped in Borgia-like corruption and sexual scandals, lashing out at anyone who notes the obvious: They have lost track of right and wrong.
And more waresat Iglesia Descalza, Rebel Girl helpfully provides a list of other banned-by-the-Vatican books you'll now want to go out and buy--and read (including, I'm happy to see, the wonderful Jesus, Symbol of God by my equally wonderful dissertation director Roger Haight):

Here is a short list of titles -- and people -- who have received the (unwanted) attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and therefore deserve our attention.

The mills of the gods don't always grind slowlyat Alternet, Adele Stan wonders about the . . . curious . . . timing of the Vatican announcement  condemning Just Love:

Interesting, BTW, that the notification about Farley's book became news just yesterday, only days after the board of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious issued a statement basically saying that the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith was not only wrong in its "doctrinal assessment" of their group -- which represents 80 percent of U.S. nuns -- but had also behaved badly in its actions taken against the nuns. Note that Farley's book was published six years ago.

And in the from-sublime-to-ridicluous category: at National Catholic Reporter, Michael Sean Winters goes right on whistling past the graveyard and doughtily defending his scotch-and-cigar-club USCCB buddies, who are, Michael still insists--right hand to God in heaven!--not political partisans in the least  (as he himself is not, bien entendu):

I do not believe the bishops have a partisan agenda, but I do worry that too many of them have accepted a political and legal narrative that leads inescapably to certain partisan conclusions. That is not the bishops fault, but the bishops should do everything they can to articulate their legitimate concerns in ways that make it harder, not easier, for others to misuse their documents.

And equally ridiculous: at Commonweal, when Mollie Wilson O'Reilly and others rightly lampoon E. Christian Brugger's condescending and sexist remarks about the "old woman" at Yale the Vatican has just condemned, David Nickol logs in to wag his finger at the lefties who must be kept in place at all costs, opining,

Now people . . . 
Brugger has very impressive credentials. 

After which John Hayes responds (well, he's actually responding to Irene Baldwin) by noting Brugger's bio at the website for his colleague Germain Grisez.  And I defy you to read that bio without chuckling, just a li'l bit, both at what it says in such breathless tones and at Nickol's awe about the credentials of a scholar who reduces an emerita professor at Yale to the "old woman" category, and who expresses such tender solicitude for the "girls at Yale" that the good fathers of the CDF want to protect from the "old woman's" heresy.

And now back to the sublime:

"Even the unearthed Chinese army of clay soldiers has each one manifesting uniqueness"at Heresy and Humor, TheraP finds the current top-down attempt to set Catholic identity in stone for political reasons theologically shallow with its assumptions that said identity is defined by "robotic thought and behavior":

The question, it seems to me, is:  Who are you in your deepest heart?  Who are you in the eyes of God?  

The one thing necessaryat her Blue Eyed Ennis site, Phil Ewing offers extracts from an interview given by Dom Mark Patrick Hederman of Glenstal Abbey, who addresses questions about church reform (and what's essential to Catholic identity) in the following way:

I believe that everything can change, and should change if necessary, except one thing which is the love of God made present to us in Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.

An affirmation that is foundational to Catholic thought and the Catholic communion, but hardly at all affirmed these days by the purer-and-truer crowd who are rabidly determined to weed out of their church fellow believers in Jesus who do not march to their tune of magisterial fundamentalism--which has never been the central song sung by the Catholic community when that community is about fulfilling its commission from Jesus in the world . . . .

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