Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

The Dollar Man

April 28, 2015


Televangelist Creflo Dollar a superstar of the prosperity gospel recently blasted “the enemy” for criticizing his dream of buying his pastors and staff at World Changers Church International a $65 million private Gulfstream G650 jet. Carol Kurville undressed this “reverend”on the Huffington Post.I wonder where Creflo studied scripture. Maybe the University of Centre Island or some other diploma mill.

This biblical illiterate is hardly alone when it comes to disfiguring Christianity but his gall is beyond belief.

“Let me tell you something about believing God,” he’s shown saying in a YouTubevideo of a sermon given at the World Dome, his 8,500-seat sanctuary in College Park, Georgia. “I can dream as long as I want to. I can believe God as long as I want to. If I want to believe God for a $65 million plane, you cannot stop me. You cannot stop me from dreaming.”

No,Mr Dollar but you got all the wrong dreams if you are referencing Jesus of Nazareth.The “prosperity gospel” has long preyed on the poor, the weak and the vulnerable who desperately want to escape their harsh conditions.They are told that believing in Jesus will make you richer.It does make the Dollar man rich.He really does need a private jet to spread his confusion among the vulnerable.

Poor willy Loman had ‘wrong dreams” in Arthur Miller’s great play Death of a Salesman but he only hurt himself and his family but this guy is over the top
Dollar’s initial request reportedly entailed asking 200,000 followers to donate $300 each to fund the effort, according to Christian Post. The fundraising page has since been taken down.

Dollar claims it was the devil that stirred the campaign against him. He believes Satan was trying to discredit him in order to stop the gospel from spreading.
You’d think anybody who is still blaming Satan has long ago surrendered any scriptural credibility. But no,the beat goes on.

“The enemy has got to discredit the voices of faith and grace and truth because he don’t want you to know that you can walk on the water if you can look at Jesus. I’ve got to discredit that man before he starts showing people Jesus,” Dollar said during the sermon.

Only in America? No but mainly in America among the poor and fundamentalist. Remember the 50 million books sold on the end times. The Late Great Planet Earth is the all time “religious” best seller.

Now here comes Creflo and the Jets.

He’s a John Paul ll bishop

April 22, 2015

The Archdiocese of Kingston had a festival for youth  in October called Shine Like the Son a pun on sun referring to Jesus.

And Padre Roberto tells me that the “star’ was the auxiliary bishop of Ottawa, Christian Riesbeck

And the first thing out of his mouth was “I am a John Paul ll bishop’. MMM what’s up here? Not unusual according the Insider. Many of these bishops do not like Francis and his “mercy” talk, his insistence on consulting the laity and “getting the smell of the sheep on them.’ so they are now self-designating themselves as JP ll bishops. This is code for, “I do not like the direction the present pope is moving”.

Riesbeck methinks does not dig the new Pope Francis.

Not unusual these days. so many of these right wing bishops, Riesbeck belongs to a an ultra conservative order called Companions of the Cross, very Rome centred—unless it’s a Vatican ll pope like Francis.

So in front of all these kid he identifies himself as a “John Paul ll bishop.” How lame.
You have a festival named for the crucified kingdom bringer, the radical rabbi Jesus of Nazareth and this guy identifies himself as a “John Paul ll bishop.”

That’s how hard it is for Francis, dealing with guys like this.

Where is Bill Murray when we need him? The irish mick comedian from Chicago had a great stock line when confronted with absurd statements that Riesbeck made.

“I have to laugh.”

Good Friday in the American empire

April 4, 2015


From Holy Thursday morning to Good Friday, some 25 friends gathered in
D.C. for the annual Holy Week Faith and Resistance retreat sponsored
by the Dorothy Day Catholic Worker and Jonah House communities. We
were especially blessed to have with us students from Loras College
from Iowa and members of the New Jerusalem Community from
Philadelphia. The theme of the retreat was: “Put Away the Sword.” Holy
Thursday was a day of reflection, sharing, action planning and
Liturgy. Good Friday was a day of public witness.

The retreat began with a communal Gospel sharing of Matthew 26: 36-56,
led by Ted Walker. After lunch, Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst,
peacemaker and founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for
Sanity, gave a powerful presentation about his journey from being in
the CIA for 27 years to becoming a Gospel peacemaker and truth-teller.
His talk, interspersed with song, prayer, stories, video footage, and
Irish wit and humor, included a powerful expose about how government
lies are consistently used to justify its horrific warmaking
ventures—from Vietnam to now. He addressed how the corporate
controlled media manipulates and distorts the news. He also spoke of
the government’s ruthless and vindictive attempts to stifle dissent
and persecute whistle-blowers, like Julian Assange and Edward Snowden,
whom he has personally met with. His insights and stories regarding
state criminality and whistle-blowing friends were truly illuminating!

In the evening, Bill Frankel-Streit from the Little Flower Catholic
Worker, led a Holy Thursday Liturgy which included spirit-filled
singing led by Loras students, a moving foot-washing ritual and
inspiring reflections on the Gospel and its meaning for us today.

On Good Friday, a nonviolent public witness was held at the Pentagon.
At 7:00 a.m. the community processed from Army-Navy Dr. to the police
designated protest zone with signs and small crosses with the names of
different victims in our society and world written on them, and
singing “Let Me Be An Instrument Of Your Peace.”  As hundreds of
Pentagon employees  streamed  into work and numerous police were on
hand, seven of our community remained on the Pentagon sidewalk (where
we are subject to arrest) and held an “adoration of the cross” before
a small cross with the inscription: “2015– Suffering Humanity.” We
prayed: “We Adore You O Christ and We Bless You, Because By Your Holy
Cross You Have Redeemed the World.”  Simultaneously, the rest of the
community proceeded into the designated “protest zone.”

A huge banner that said: “U.S. Empire Crucifies Humanity” was displayed on the
grassy slope overlooking the metro entrance. A retreatant, dressed in
a black robe, standing on a crate, with arms outstretched on a large
cross,  wore a sign: “Victim of Militarism.” Our leaflet was read and
a reflection about militarism and Jesus being nailed to the cross
today, written by Leonardo Boff, were read aloud.  In between the
readings there was silence and singing “Were You There When They
Crucified My Lord.”

After about ten minutes, those who were praying on the sidewalk were
arrested, taken to the Pentagon Police processing center, and released
after several hours.  They were charged with “failure to comply with a
lawful order” and have a court date for June 4, 2015.

At noon-time, as a light rain fell, retreatants held a “contemporary
crucifixion” on Pennsylvania Ave. directly in front of the White
House, as many tourists looked on. See below the reflections that were
read for each of the eleven crucified victims as they, wearing black
robes, took turns, standing on a crate, with arms outstretched on the
cross. After each victim came off the cross we sang: “Were you there
when they crucified my Lord.” Our leaflet was also read to begin the
witness, and a reading about how Jesus is being crucified today, by
Leonardo Boff, was offered to conclude it. The Loras students began
and ended the witness with singing “Let Me Be An Instrument of Peace.”
We ended our witness and retreat by sharing a sign of peace.

Let us pray for each other during this Holy Season, and for all those
in our world who are experiencing at this very moment the passion and
death of Jesus. And let us be transformed by the cross and
resurrection of Jesus as we seek to practice resurrection and be
living signs of hope for our world.

Good Friday continues

April 4, 2015


In 1979 we moved out of the narrow confines of individual churches where Jesus had become boxed in. We insisted that Good Friday continues in the streets of our city.THE JOURNEY begun by a small group of Catholic teachers  CONTINUES in  a radical ecumenical way.


We are a Good Friday People.
Centuries ago, a holy man invited a group of people on a journey.
That journey turned out to be both harrowing and life changing.
It ended in death, a violent death on a cross,
but also in the exciting realization that in the end
death is not God’s final answer to the human struggle
for meaning, hope and liberation.

The power that Caiaphas and Pontius Pilate thought they had over Jesus
turned out to be illusory.
The Passion Story unveils another kind of power at work in the world, and in the Word.
When Jesus said, “All power is given to me in heaven and on earth,”
he was not talking about domination and control
but about solidarity and liberation
At enormous cost, Jesus confronted the life-denying forces of his day and entered death,
showing us that our lives too can confront and overcome the forces of death in our day.

Jesus entrusted us with an amazing gift: the gift of knowledge
about what the real purpose of our lives is,
a purpose dramatically at odds with a world marked by violence, oppression and alienation for far too many.
He offered up his life with this message and challenges our souls through his example.
Conversion of our own lives and of the death-dealing power systems of our times is within our reach.

And so today as we walk, we journey together with Jesus,
enacting a hope that can be for all people,
a hope that had and still has the power to confront the myriad forces of death
and overcome them in all their forms,
moving beyond the brokenness of our world
toward abundant life for all.

All who share our vision are welcome.

Oscar Romero at 10

March 23, 2015


25 years ago today  Paul Hansen Redemptorist priest and myself penned an article (March 23,1990) in the Globe and Mail.We pointed out that the Salvadoran bishop Oscar Romero who broke with the oligarchy and the rest of his brother bishops was also snubbed by the Bishop of Rome,John Paul ll.It was reported that on the day of his as assassination 25 years ago tomorrow, Romero’s dismissal as archbishop was on John Paul ll’s desk.

Romero now on his way to beatification was humiliated by the then pope, a man of blinkered vision when it came to Latin America. Reputedly it was the one thing he regretted. Romero had come to rome to plead his case and was made to wait outside the pontiff’s office. He never did get to see him.

Meanwhile for the people Romero had already been canonized for his prophetic stance against the cowboy capitalism of the USA.
As we stated in our article “For decades Washington had supported local oligarchs Somoza of Nicaragua, Pinochet of Chile, Trujillo of the Dominican Republic all who had turned their backs on los pobres de la tierra.They had become mere satraps of the dominant centre.” The Polish pope never understood why some of the better US bishops were critical of Reagan’s America. Once he queried Cardinal Bernadin asking, “Why do you not support your president”.At that time Rome and Washington were at war with the USSR.But Washington was making war on Latin America.
Earlier in the decade Cardinal Ratzinger had come out against liberation theology, suggesting it was pure Marxism.The great Latino bishops convinced JP ll he was dead wrong and to the pope’s credit in 1985 when he was taken aside by the men closest to “smell of the sheep” he declared that liberation theology was not only useful but necessary.
We asked “Has the pope learned anything from this?” It was dubious given the brutal papal appointments through the southern cone, men who had little credibility but who adopted the harsh Roman line.
We pointed out that Vatican “has closed seminaries which champion close association with communities,imposed traditionalist bishops with whom they could not work,denigrated the prophetic work of Dom Helder Camara and Paiulo Evaristo Arns,towering churchmen and fierce defenders of the marginalized.As one prelate said,’for us the vatican is but a sect within the church”.

We went on to state that “a parallel church was emerging which increasingly distances itself from the hopes and joys of the world which Vatican ll encouraged us to serve.Instead of leaven in the dough the church is becoming a loaf unto itself,preoccupied with internal concerns, obsessed with power and discipline rather than love and service. Brazilian bishop Mauro Morelli described the Vatican as “neurotics for orthodoxy.”

We went on to criticize the pope for “the heavy handed imposition of Romanized clerics as bishops who brook no dissent,his harassment of theologians and prophetic bishops made us ponder the words of the 1971 synod,’anyone who wishes to speak to people about justice must first be just in their eyes.hence, we must undertake an examination of the modes of acting found within the church itself.
We concluded that “the death of Oscar Romero was a watershed for the modern Catholic Church.It signifies the permanence of justice and peace as the church’s agenda.It speaks to us of the church as servant not master,as a sign of the kingdom yet not the kingdom.It reminds us that convertsion is possible,that the final word, for the Chruistian is love not power.
As believers in the sensus fidelium, the wisdom of the baptized, we understood that the base church was way ahead of the hierarchs.

Romero had been proscribed by both Ratzinger and John Paul ll only to be rehabilitated by the present pope who saw Romero for what he was, an authentic voice of the humiliated people and a saint for our times.
Many clerics of that time did not dare to raise the life of Romero up.He was not ‘in season” in a time of reactionary papacies. Rather than being adorned with “the smell of the sheep” the Romanized yes men acted like sheep and became idolators of the papacy.
Today we give thanks for a Vatican ll pope who sees the church like Romero as a field hospital after battle. rather than seeing Vatican ll as a grave error that must be corrrected Francis like Romero sees the Church as committed to the poor.This is not Marx, it is Jesus.

Uppity Irish woman challenges Pope Francis

March 17, 2015


Pope Francis is holding women back due to misogyny, former Irish president Mary McAleese has warned.

Pope Francis has been very vocal about the baptized speaking candidly both in an out of synods. For the time being it appears that the sycophants are out of step.In Canada we have one notorious priest known as the chameleon who now has reinvented himself to be on the same wave length as the Pope.Previously he was a cheerleader for conservative reaction to Vatican ll.But I digress.

Reminded me of W.H.Auden’s Unknown Citizen

Our researchers into Public Opinion are content

That he held the proper opinions for the time of year;

When there was peace, he was for peace: when there was war, he went.
Recently the very bright former president of Ireland Mary Mcaleese took Pope Francis to the woodshed and called him out on his regressive attitude to women.

Pope Francis is holding women back due to misogyny, she warned.

She referred to his “blindness hat comes from a kind of a priestly formation that leaves so many good, decent, gentlemanly men like Francis still carrying an element, a residual element, of misogyny that closes them off to the dangers of not dealing with these issues,”.

Dead on.

Francis seems blinkered or rather chained to an outmoded but understandable protocol about not contradicting former popes ,the last two being particularly blind to women’s equality within the church, the right to aspire to every role that males enjoy—and that means priesthood.

McAleese like many is sympathetic to the pontiff.He is trying to reverse the reactionary retreat from Vatican ll by the previous two. he knows his time is short but he seems stuck on the female question.
“I don’t think that he gets it. Still. He’s very gentlemanly, he’s a lovely person, everybody likes him and women like him. We love his smile, we love his openness, we love his accessibility, we love his frankness, we love the ease of him. But we also know that that’s not enough.”

Mcaleese focused on the structural problems of a huge church.

“I’m talking about an altogether different phenomenon and that is the structure of a universal Church that comprises 1.2bn people, half of whom are women, and who do not have appropriate vehicles at parish, diocesan or universal level that fully respect the role they play in the Church or could play in the Church,”

Can you hear so many audibly groaning at the candor of this uppity woman? Get used to it.

McAleese previously caused a stir by stating that “a very large number” of Catholic priests are gay and the Church is in denial about the fact. “It isn’t so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants.”

Bishop asks collar-wearing clergy to rally at city meeting

March 15, 2015


So says the headline in the National Catholic Reporter

KANSAS CITY, MO. The bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., who hopes to raze a former parish school and build a faith-based dormitory on that ground, has invited all the priests and deacons of his diocese to appear at a city planning meeting to show support for his plan.

“If you attend it would certainly be appropriate for you to wear your collar,” Bishop Robert Finn tells the clergy in a letter dated March 13 and sent as an attachment to emails on Friday.

OK, I have no problem with this but come on, Bishop Finn and the many like you.Get in the justice parade, brother.

It’s always said about the Roman church,if  it’s not leading the parade it’s not in it.always wanting control not solidarity.

Do you ask your priests to don their collars on serious social issues? Hardly. You are absent on these major issues…much like most of the JPll/Ratzinger bishops who seemed obsessed with pelvic orthodoxy.

These men appear to have no understanding of “kingdom “politics,the imperative to promote social justice in the world.

Jim Wallis of Sojourners Magazine has correctly stated

Ultimately, as followers of Christ, climate change is about our faith, our theology, our moral identity, and our calling as God’s children. Climate change is not another issue to move higher up the list of our concerns. Rather it is the concern central to all other issues.

So priests, put those Roman collars and join ordinary folks in remediating “the blood stained face of history” (Camus)

Saving the Church

February 18, 2015

Bob Betterton of Saving the Catholic Church newsletter compares two pontiffs in his latest missive

The Irony of Two Popes: Benedict and Francis

One would have to say that Benedict XVI is a highly conservative theologian, a traditionalist, a fundamentalist and a cleric’s cleric. He is also a severe critic of Vatican II, a bit of a misogynist, an absolutist, an enemy of change and an opportunist.

Francis on the other hand seems to be the antithesis of most, if not all of those attributes. This is best illustrated in the way he has approached the changes he considers essential. It is logical, deliberate and collegial. It is Vatican II-like.
The incredible irony lies in the reality that we are all sub-consciously wishing that he would be more Benedict XVI-like. For example:
• Under Benedict there would not be any advisory group of Cardinals to consult and there certainly would never been a questionnaire circulated on any subject.
• He absolutely would not convene a synod to discuss anything of consequence. The only opinions he has ever found relevant were his own.
• Finally, he would not be considering increasing the size of the College of Cardinals.
Benedict would issue a few encyclicals describing the way things are going to be from here on. He would summarily get rid of anyone who disagreed with him and he would “pack the College of Cardinals” to assure that the new way of doing things could not be changed for a century.
I am coming to believe that Benedict XVI did not decide to retire. It was the work of the Holy Spirit, inflicting a deserved Penance for the disaster imposed on the Church through his systematic dismantling of the vision of Vatican II.

I agree with most of this. The previous two popes formed one papacy, that of reaction.It was to be expected.They drove too many thinking Catholics away with their absolute refusal to hear the Spirit rising in the faithful.They were almost totally tone deaf in this regard.Any institution hates to give up power as Frederick Douglass reminded us:“Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will.”
Betterton goes on to describe elements of the Church Francis can’t fix.
A smart theological friend of mine is pessimistic about the Francis reform, says it will die with him because of the reactionary bishops the last 2 popes named, men who acted as stenographers for everything that came out of Rome.These men, Betterton maintains “for the most part, the archbishops and bishops are opposed to change of any kind and they can delay those changes by obfuscation and inaction.” this is largely true.There may be some conversions but don’t hold your breath.
This is substantially true. Simply look at the stunning inaction around climate change.This is a grave scandal which I highlighted when the Archbishop of NYC looked like a goof by doing nothing when 250,000 marched a few months ago for climate justice. Wasn’t even on his radar. And there’s nothing happening in parishes here,no leadership from the top and generally inadequate pastoring everywhere. The few Vatican ll guys are departing and they are running out a 38 year old priest north of the city, wildly popular because of some pathetic liturgical aberration.
What will save the Church from this is a massive uprising of the faithful. The first part has already happened —massive defections in the best educated parts of the church. This will probably continue on account of the very poor quality of priests being ordained. The laity have gone way past “pay, pray and obey” and are much more theologically in tune and will not tolerate the ”my way or the highway” approach of the insecure new ordinands.

Catholics absent on israel/Palestine

January 22, 2015


On January 20 the United Church and Christian Jewish Dialogue of Toronto sponsored a day long seminar on Israel/Palestine. It was billed as a day of discernment and thoughtful discussion. Anybody who paid their money could show up was welcome. About 60 people showed.
Irrespective of the dialogue that ensued, it was a good attempt at raising the issue for church and synagogue people.
The United church to its credit has been grappling publicly with this for decades and its working group on Israel/Palestine put forth a policy in 2012:

It names the Occupation as a major contributor to the injustice
It advocates the end of all settlement construction
Calls on Israel to dismantle settlements and separation barrier
It identifies equitable access to water as a critical factor
It calls on Canadian government to provide leadership
it also affirms non-violent resistance to the occupation is justified
Acknowledges with deep regret the past policy of calling on palestinians to acknowledge Israel as a Jewish state as a prereq to peace.
This was the grounds for discussion.
One question: where is the Catholic dialogue on this cardinal issue?
Why the timidity of the largest church in Canada to even discuss this?

Pope Francis moving ahead on climate justice

December 29, 2014


More indigestion for the JP ll/Ratzinger bishops who showed little or no interest in the greatest moral issue of our time: climate change. It is just reported that Pope Francis will be speaking for climate justice in the new year. Catholics will be specifically targeted with a papal encyclical after the pontiff visits Tacloban the Philippine city devastated by the typhoon Hayan in 2012. Undoubtedly there will be a fresh call to the 1.5 billion Catholics to get moving on this issue—and put the pelvic issues aside for now.

Pope Francis will have his hands full with the world’s 5,000 bishops, most chosen for their strict adherence to everything that came out of Rome in the long pontificates of Woytyla/Ratzinger. In reality this was one reactionary pontificate a pushback against the liberal reforms of Vatican ll. iI was pure Newtonoian physics, action and reaction. The reaction eventuated in massive lay defections from the Roman Catholic church particularly in the developed world where the best educated Catholics in history resided.

The Woytyla/Ratzinger papacy was long on topdown Soviet-style diktats from Rome central to the outlying provinces. The absolute ecclesial thought control failed for two simple reasons.In the 50 years since the end of the Council lay theological education accelerated and the quality of the priesthood declined. Foreign imports came with a reactionary theology topped off too often with a misogyny. In a culture nourished on human rights and participatory democracy, North American Catholics rebelled.

Secondly there was the lay internalization of the sensus fidelium, that the Holy Spirit was given to the whole church not to a subset of clerics. When the hierarchs refused to listen to the collective wisdom of the baptized the faithful resisted the ecclesial thought control and walked. 30 million left the Catholic church in the USA.

Today a pope who shows little concern for how he is perceived by his bishops is moving ahead with celerity on the agenda of Vatican ll where social justice is an integral part of the gospel and baptism not Holy Orders is the essential sacrament.

So immovable object (the JP ll/Ratzinger bishops are meeting the irresistible force, a progressive pope and the lay people who are buying into his Vatican ll agenda.The pope in many ways is way ahead of his bishops so much so that he is almost being seen as “the enemy”. many are not happy campers.
So far in Canada the JPll/Ratzinger bishops have failed the laity. The classic example was in Toronto, the largest Catholic diocese, where nothing was done by the hierarchs to engage the laity in adding their insights to the synod on the Family. This was requested by the pope bug basically ignored and never promoted by the archbishop.There was no pastoral plan or active engagement with the faithful.
Pope Francis has correctly identified climate justice as the morel issue of the day but do not look for the weak bishops of the last two decades to get on board. They have collectively shown little or no interest in this. Their focus is inward. They have lost the next generation who intuitively understand how dire the situation is and do not look for the church for any inspiration here.

It is absolutely stunning that there has been no pastoral planning around this crucial issue.

Make no mistake. This Jesuit pope has his ear to the ground and his eye on the overwhelming “sign of our time”, the destruction of the Body of God, our earth. He has already told the Latin American and asian landless peasants “Climate change, the loss of biodiversity and deforestation are already showing their devastating effects in the great cataclysms we witness.”

Now Pope Francis is going deeper by ratcheting up the stakes among his bishops. Watch how the Canadian bishops respond.

Exciting times for sure.


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