A Watershed moment in Ontario

It is a welcome development that the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association has come out strongly behind new provincial legislation that allows gay and lesbian Catholic high-school students to organize themselves on school grounds under the banner “gay-straight alliance.” Welcome because gay and lesbian students can be subjected to brutal bullying that has led in some cases to suicide, and they need all the support they can get. And also welcome because there are some powerful forces opposed to that part of the law.

So opines the conservative Globe and Mail editorial of June 7,2012. The Globe joined the Toronto Star editorial board which expressed similar sentiments.

What has this all been about one might ask.

In the end it is about a man sent from Rome the present Archbishop Thomas Collins who failed once again to listen to the great common sense of the baptized, the vast majority of Catholics.The “sensus fidelium” was ignored.

Many of these are classroom teachers.They have gay relatives and friends and they intuitively have rejected the Vatican dicta  that homosexual acts are “acts of grave depravity”  and homosexual people  are “intrinsically disordered” .Kevin O’Dwyer, president of the Ontario English Catholic Teachers’ Association spoke for the membership and  said his 43,000 members welcome the legislation, which passed third and final reading on Tuesday, because it allows schools to protect students from homophobia and other forms of discrimination.

OECTA president Kevin O’Dwyer

This may be a watershed in the Catholic firmament.

Theologically it positions the Cardinal Archbishop on the margins of Catholic thinking.and lagging behind the teaching of the second Vatican Council which  outlined a tfundamental ecclesiological truth  defined during the Council.  We are an absolutely egalitarian people, a communio, a discipleship of equals. This church, this people of God exists prior to any internal architecture. This fundamental structure, trinitarian and thus relational, must be our way forward. This exciting development, is one the first shoots of a new paradigm  one which sees the church moving from hierarchy to dialogue where the entire people of God participate in decision making.This has been a hard swallow for Roman hierarchs.

The great document on the church Lumen Gentium phrased it this way:

The whole body of the faithful who have received an anointing which comes from the holy one cannot be mistaken in belief…this sense of faith (sensus fidei) aroused and sustained by by the spirit of truth, the people of God, guided (of course) by the sacred magisterium which it faithfully obeys, receives not the word of human beings but truly the word of God…” (12).

Now we are only 50 years down the road from the beginning of Vatican ll, a short historical time.In this period , aided and abetted by catastrophical church scandals of the pedophilia crisis and the shocking dereliction of duty by institutional leaders—clerics–Catholics have begun to ubnderstand the “sensus fidei”, that each has a voice. Now that voice is being claimed and the baptized are beginning to claim a much greater ownership of the church of which they are majority members. No bishop can proceed without listening to the “sensus fidelium”. In this case Kevin O’Dwyer represents the wisdom of the sensus fidelium.Thomas Collins has been told erroneouly by Rome that  he is the Teacher in his diocese.But our theology now insists that one cannot teach without listening to the sensus.

The idea of the “sensus fidelium”, that the Spirit is given to the entire church and all the baptized have a voice in this church is still anathema to bishops sent by Rome like imperial satraps. “Father knows best” which suited the arcane medieval structure dominated  and often served well by educated clerical celibates has vanished. Rome In its  isolated ignorance has not noticed  that that old church was slowly dying dead, transformed by the gale force irruption of the Spirit at Vatican ll. The new wine of mature, well-fermented lay thinking  has burst the old medieval wineskins.   The much needed transformation of an inert, theologically backward, scripturally ignorant mass has slowly but surely grown into a more responsible group of educated  believers. Newly awakened the baptized have begun to “pick up their pallets and walk”(Mark 2:9). Almost overnight (50 years since the beginning of the Council) the non-ordained have inexorably  morphed into a priesthood of all believers, an idea which had taken decades to sink in. The realization has finally permeated many: the Catholic Church is not the papacy, the bishop is not the church and the priest is not the pope in his parish.

We are present to a new moment.Pope John XXlll was correct when he said at the beginning of the Council.”It is still yet dawn in the Catholic church.”


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Phil Little Says:

    There is a monumental shift occurring here – the “magisterium” (the teaching office of the church) was previous defined as the bishops in communion with the Pope. According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church: “The task of interpreting the Word of God authentically has been entrusted solely to the Magisterium of the Church, that is, to the Pope and to the bishops in communion with him.” according to the Catholic catechism. However today, and this is evident in the leadership provided by the President of OECTA Kevin O;Dwyer, that the teaching authority has shifted to the people of God – not just those who are theologically trained but those whose faith is challenged and enlightened by the modern sciences and those who are accepting the challenge to grow up in the faith – to be not just followers but doers who understand that what Jesus began depends on their actions to make it continue. The episcopacy is left with the unthinking remnant, and daily they makes themselves look foolish as they ignore the real problems threatening not only humanity but the planet earth while they obsess with their pelvic centered and underdeveloped preoccupations. The new magisterium challenges the faithful to understand the gospel as it speaks to the real world, while the old group conferences on the intrinsic difficulties of masturbation and indulgences.

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