Theology in the Vineyard is a blog edited by Ted Schmidt a pure product of Vatican ll, the energizing reform movement in the Catholic Church.Growing up on a Jewish street in downtown Toronto, he was exposed to the searing experience of the Shoah at an early age. He was the first educator in Canada to institutionalize this in his teaching and the universal lessons of “silence and complicity” during the Shoah informed his teaching and writing. He is the retired editor of Catholic New Times and is active as a community theologian in his parish and community.
Theology in the Vineyard attempts to find God in the stuff of life where politics, history,culture and economics meet. It has both a virtual and a human face. When it hits the road as it has in the Picton area in two Vineyards, Chadsey’s Cairns and The Grange, it brings like minded Christians together who do not accept the present patriarchal and clerical domination of the Roman Catholic Church. This was of course before the reactionary papacies of John Paul ll and Benedict XVl. These good church men carried the predictable reaction against the revolutionary Council which was the greatest cahnge in catholic thining since the 16th century .As herman Pottmeyer, German theologian stated “The work of Vatican ll has remained an unfinished building site. I t is a transitional council.”
There is more movement in store as the Holy Spirit never stops renovating. as Vatican ll insisted: The Church is semper reformanda, always in the process of renewing itself .The necessary change is the decentalization and democratization of the church towards “the people of God” metaphor which the Council insisted on. We are an absolutely egalitarian people, a communio, a discipleship of equals .Baptism assures this. It not Holy Orders which is the first sacrament.
The Church is an institution and all institutions react to insulate themselves against change.The brakes applied by the last two popes have failed. As Pope Francis has stated Vatican ll can not be reversed. This present pope gives believers hope.
When the Vineyard began Catholics were losing hope. It began as an invitation to all to make the Church a more inclusive meeting place and a more credible witness to God’s reign among people. The bishops had failed terribly to hear the Catholic people. The John Paul ll bishops famously listened to only one voice, Rome. This has been an egregious failure. The brilliant martyred German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer warned :
The first service that one owes to others in community consists in listening to them. Just as love for God begins with listening to His Word, so the beginning of love for the brethren is learning to listen to them. It is God’s love for us that He not only gives His Word but also lends us His ear … Many people are looking for an ear that will listen. They do not find it among Christians because these Christians are talking where they should be listening. But he who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God. This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and, in the end, there is nothing left but spiritual chatter and clerical condescension arrayed in pious words,”
The first Theology in the Vineyard (Sept.17, 2005) was inspired by the Vatican Council’s statement ( Lumen Gentium) which invited “lay people to express their opinions which concern the common good of the church.” These comments spoke volumes:
“I feel like a starving orphan …”
“I am exasperated by the institution …”
“There is a need for real change in Christianity. I need to step away from the institution to energize …”
“We can’t count on clergy in parishes. I came here to hear what people can do …”
“There is respect here for diverse opinions and a lack of fear …”
“I support a social justice church … how better to spend a Saturday …”
“I thirst for the days of Vatican II …”
“I am in dire need of spiritual nourishment.”
“We’re retreating into the past. There is real frustration and a need to renew. There’s something radically wrong when a pastor changes, everything changes. There’s something wrong. That power should not exist.
“I am disillusioned and in need of hope …”
“I have four kids and thirst for a relevant church …”
“I just love the dialogue …
“I feel frustrated, alone and unwanted and I have no intention of leaving …”
“I want to know where that great hope of Vatican II vanished …”
The dialogue continues. Stay tuned.