Archive for the ‘Church’ Category

Another plea from Palestinian Christians

April 29, 2018


Well, this is just the latest sally from the besieged for an act of solidarity, for faith groups to step up to the plate and act on their faith but as the man said, don’t hold your breath.


In 2009 all the Christian churches in Israel/Palestine pleaded for solidarity


“Our word is a cry of hope, with love, prayer and faith in God. We address it first of all to ourselves and then to all the churches and Christians in the world, asking them to stand against injustice and apartheid, urging them to work for a just peace.”

We declare that the military occupation of Palestinian land constitutes a sin against God and humanity. Any theology that legitimizes the occupation and justifies crimes perpetrated against the Palestinian people lies far from Christian teachings.


Can it can get any clearer from  those who are suffering? and yet, silence.



Since then—virtually nothing from the Roman Catholic community, a little more from other denominations, especially United Church and Presbyterians.


For Catholics, a dearth of socially aware bishops named by the preceding popes, and leaders terrified of offending Jewish communities. Get over it! Israel is a state and states often do barbaric things. It is not a judgment on Jews or all Israelis. It is not “pro-Palestinian, it is simply pro justice.


Marc Ellis, a prominent Jewish theolgian gave us valuable advice when he spoke on Nov.14, 2000 to the General Synod of the Church of England:


Your respnsibility is not to patronize, not to flee in fear from us, not to treat us as children and not to repent endlessly for the Holocaust. Your job is to speak honestly` to us, to even scold us, to point the finger in the way we pointed the finger at you, to tell us to stop before it is too late.

Once again, an open letter from the Christian base


Palestinian Christians and Muslims call on faith communities to help end the occupation

Then the Lord saw it, and it displeased Him that there was no justice. (Isaiah 59:15b)
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it. (Luke 19:41)
We the undersigned, a group of Palestinian-American Christians from several church traditions, call on all faith communities to:
◦ Denounce the Trump administration’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and the decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.
◦ Lift up, in your places of worship, the plight of Palestinians, Muslims and Christians alike, recognizing that Israeli policies of occupation and apartheid are leading to the virtual extinction of the indigenous Christian population in Palestine.
◦ Recognize the urgency of ending Israel’s genocidal siege and attacks on the entire Palestinian hostage population of the Gaza Strip.
◦ Continue to use economic pressure as well as other nonviolent means to compel Israel to end its apartheid practices and policies against the Palestinian people.


We express deep concern at the increasingly hostile direction of Israeli policies and actions, emboldened by the equally aggressive foreign policy stance of the Trump administration toward the Palestinian people. President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is the final nail in the coffin of the so-called “peace process,” which has now been unmasked as a farce, exposing the United States not as an “honest broker” but as Israel’s unquestioning advocate. There is little doubt that the Trump administration’s Jerusalem decision, although condemned by the overwhelming majority of the international community, will encourage Israel to act with even greater impunity.

The Israeli occupation of East Jerusalem, as well as the rest of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Syrian Golan Heights, is now in its fifty-first year, the longest military occupation since the end of the nineteenth century. Palestinian Christians and Muslims are calling on the church to use its influence to end the occupation.
Since its occupation of Arab East Jerusalem in 1967, Israel has consistently followed a policy aimed at confining the city’s Palestinian population to ghettos surrounded by a ring of expanding Jewish settlements. It annexed the city and its suburbs into a much-expanded “greater Jerusalem,” and isolated it from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories. This separation of Jerusalem from the rest of the West Bank has resulted in grave economic and social consequences for all Palestinians in the occupied territories, because East Jerusalem has been the economic and spiritual heart of the Palestinian territories. Even the U.S. State Department recognized in a 2009 report  that “many of [Israel’s] policies in Jerusalem were designed to limit or diminish the non-Jewish population of Jerusalem.” Palestinian Jerusalemites complain that conditions are far worse now.
Last year, a Palestinian mass protest forced Israeli authorities to retreat from a decision to impose obtrusive “security measures” in the form of metal detectors at the entrances to the Muslim holy sites of the Dome of the Rock and the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Christians joined their Muslim brothers and sisters in peaceful protest, some praying shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets surrounding the mosques. …

Palestinian protests and international pressure have since compelled Israeli authorities to suspend the legislation in question. However, Palestinians are rightly concerned that Israel will continue to find ways to weaken Palestinians’ control of their land and property. Many are concerned about Jerusalem as the birthplace of Christianity: will it become a city with Christian shrines and cathedrals but devoid of the native Christian population?


On Friday, March 30th, Israel committed a massacre in the Gaza Strip, where Palestinians were engaged in a demonstration on Land Day. This annual event commemorates the killing, in 1976, of six unarmed Palestinians in the Galilee who were protesting against the confiscation of their lands. The Gaza demonstrators were protesting against the genocidal conditions that Israel has imposed on the territory of two million inhabitants over the past eleven years; most importantly, they were expressing their right of return to their lands and villages from which the Israeli forces expelled them in 1948. The peaceful protest was interrupted by the Israeli army, which used tanks and militarized drones as well as over 100 well-hidden snipers.


Violence began by the Israeli forces who shot a farmer working on his land. This served as incitement to a few protestors—out of a total of about 30,000 peaceful demonstrators, to engage in throwing stones from behind a large, barbed wire fence. The unarmed Palestinians’ actions did not come anywhere close to endangering the Israeli forces. Eighteen Palestinians were shot dead and hundreds of men, women, and children were wounded.


These events occurred on Good Friday, when the Christian world was mourning the crucifixion of Jesus. As the injustices and human rights violations keep piling up against the Palestinian people, we call on all churches and faith communities to take bold steps to end these grave injustices. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step up even when you don’t see the whole staircase.”

◦ Palestinian Christian Advocates for Justice
◦ Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace
◦ American Muslims for Palestine
◦ Israel-Palestine Mission Network, Presbyterian Church USA
◦ Franciscan Action Network
◦ Friends of Sabeel, North America
◦ Mennonite Palestine-Israel Network
◦ Pax Christi Metro DC-Baltimore
◦ Pax Christi USA
◦ Palestine-Israel Network of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ)
◦ Palestine-Israel Network of the  Episcopal Peace Fellowship
◦ Palestine-Israel Network of the United Church of Christ
◦ United Methodist Kairos Response- Steering Committee


Status quo not on for Catholics

March 21, 2018



For those who have yearned for a pope who would embrace “the greatest grace of the century”, Vatican ll we have had to watch a slow motion palace coup of bitter restoratoinists who simply plan to out wait him and return to the status quo ante where the hierarchs run the whole show. This is dreaming in technicolour. Those days are gone forever. Too many Catholics have educated themselves since the end of the Council. They have understood the meaning of baptism as the central sacrament of membership and a call for critical engagement in a suffering world. Holy orders as a sacrament is a distant second, maybe third.



Meanwhile the interregnum remains.Faced with massive defections in the educated north, the Roman church and its quiescent bishops sit on their hands and import foreign priests, most with weak theology, misogyny and a great deference to authority. Instead of demanding the obvious— an indigenous clergy of married males and female priests, these status quo men fiddle while Canadian Catholics shake their heads and people leave in droves. Pope Francis, a man who maintains vatican ll is where we start from is openly fought by too many bishops who simply hope to wait him out.


The status quo ante of course will never return. 50 years after Vatican ll lay Catholics are assuming their baptism, demanding their church to speed up its reform in the computer age and do the obvious: recognize the gender injustice which still hobbles this aging vessel.We no longer believe that Father knows best, especially the vast majority of us who live with Mother.




The Catholic church once a social leader know lags far behind the other faith communities in commitment to the common good and social justice. Hobbled by ideological papal appointments of the JP ll/Ratzinger lost years, social justice the heart of the gospel, finds few episcopal champions.The skewed focus which places the church at the heart of the Christian life rather than God’s reign is a betrayal of the gospel and bad theology begets bad practice.
Diarmuid Omurchu got it right:
We have come a long way from the fiery prophetic figure Jesus of Nazareth who shocked and disturbed the conventions of his day in the name of justice and liberation. Our respectability has taken a terrible toll on the authentic calling of Christian life.

We have lost sight of the deeper vision and lost heart
for the passion and enthusiasm of God’s New Reign.
The following of Jesus is not a respectable religion.



We need a new creed

February 26, 2018

Massimo Faggioli writes:


One wonders if, under the surface of unity, Catholicism in America is not fragmenting in a way that parallels the divisions in contemporary Judaism. There is a Traditionalist Catholicism (corresponding in some ways to Orthodox Judaism), which celebrates the Mass in Latin and treats the development of doctrine as having ended at some point between John Henry Newman and Pius XII.

Then there is a kind of ressourcement Catholicism (corresponding roughly to Conservative Judaism), which is rooted in the theology of Vatican II, with its understanding of tradition as dynamic.

And, finally, there is a Progressive Catholicism (corresponding to Reform Judaism), for which the tradition is mostly a relic of the past and Vatican II is just a springboard for future developments.
50 years ago the United Church wrote a new creed.


Catholics are so far behind in this regard. We have been radically inattrentive in our understanding of the creator God, the New Story as proposed by Thomas Berry, David Toolan, Ilia Dileo, Matt Fox, Elizabeth Johnson, Sally McFague et al.

The New Story of the universe is a biospiritual story as well as a galactic story and an Earth story. . . . Each particular being in the universe is needed by the entire universe. With this understanding of our profound kinship with all life, we can establish the basis for a flourishing Earth community. —Thomas Berry (1914-2009)




During the last several decades, a new story has indeed emerged, a new cosmology that brings matters of science and matters of faith into a space where they no longer need collide, but can complement each other and render a fuller picture of what is true. —Judy Cannato

Let’s have a new creed like this:


We are not alone,
we live in God’s world.
We believe in God:
who has created and is creating,
who has come in Jesus,
the Word made flesh,
to reconcile and make new,
who works in us and others
by the Spirit.
We trust in God.
We are called to be the Church:
to celebrate God’s presence,
to live with respect in Creation,
to love and serve others,
to seek justice and resist evil,
to proclaim Jesus, crucified and risen,
our judge and our hope.
In life, in death, in life beyond death,
God is with us.
We are not alone.
Thanks be to God.

Theologians pan “cheap grace”

November 22, 2017

Then they spit in his face and struck him with their fists. Matthew 26:27

Who are we? We are the crucified Christ-with us. This is our new identification.
Kosuke Koyama in Water Buffalo Theology

Koyama a Japanese Protestant theologian born in Tokyo in 1929 was sent to evangelize farmers in Thailand. Here he developed his unique brand of speaking to farmers.


One of his memorable designations of Jesus was very Pauline. He called Jesus “the spat-upon Christ.” Koyama reasoned that If Jesus Christ was nocked, spat upon and stripped, then his finality is shocked, spat upon and stripped . . . The spat-upon. Jesus nears the spat-upon finality of Jesus. It must mean then the. “spat-upon bishops’, ‘spat-upon theology’, ‘spat-upon evangeism’, ‘spat-upon “combat-against-racism”, “spat-upon churches’
We see very few “spat upon churches” these days, very few Christians who will risk the opprobium of the public  lulled to sleep with the silent and deadly song of the consumer culture.


Bourgeois Christianity is most evident but not exclusive to evangelical Christianity where Trump and his Wall street values reigned supreme. This sad fact reflects a faith riven by the cultural norms not of the nonviolent spat-upon Jesus but by a kind of Republican Fox News Christianity. The classic example is not evangelical but the shameful value system of “Catholic” Paul Ryan the Republican leader who genuflects not to a crucified lord  and his cross but to the highly individual capitalist ethos of Ayn Rand.



Since the 1945 and the advance of turbocapitalism in the USA, Christianity in all denominations has taken a major hit. The power of the market has sapped the vital countercultural elements of the gospel. The good life has levelled the God life and allowed putative Christians to pursue consumer comforts and vote in whomever will defend “the American way of life’ and ignore the victims of a rapacious economic system.


300 hundred Christian theologians attending the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature, an annual meeting of nearly 10,000 professionals in religion.The Boston Declaration calls Christians to follow the Jesus Way, bearing prophetic witness to Christ through fight racism, sexism, poverty and all forms of oppression.”



Theologian Susan Thistlethwaite of the Chicago Theological Seminary one of the signers t writes about the dispensation of “cheap grace” a phrase made fanmous by Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the martyred Lutheran theologian. This is regularly doled out in capitalist countries by clergy too afraid to challenge wealthy congregants with the demands of the cross which cost Jesus his life and should cost us at least some discomfort.


Such Christians are “losers” in Trump language.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Christian pastor who was arrested and ultimately executed by the Nazis for his opposition to Hitler, contrasted what he called “cheap grace” with the costly grace of the Gospel. “Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits.”
The Christianity Bonhoeffer denounced is the Christianity we denounce today. It is a Christianity that literally enables hate, hate for people of color, for immigrants, for those of other religions, for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender human beings, for women and girls, for the poor and the most vulnerable among us.

And why do these so-called Christians do this? Not out of obedience to the teachings of Jesus, because Jesus taught the exact opposite of their hate-mongering. No, they do it for power, for political gain. Jesus asks, “What does it profit you to gain the whole world and lose your soul?” Mark 8:36 We are not here merely to denounce, however. The most important thing we can do as Christian theologians is announce the good news of the Gospel. The good news is the radical inclusivity of God, for God so loved the world. Not just some in the world who are white, or rich, or male or heterosexual. God loved the whole world of animals and plants and the entire ecosystem that is a victim of this same rapaciousness and nearly mindless drive for political domination.
The good news, and it is very good news, is an invitation to turn away from greed and turn toward love of neighbor. Turn away from hate and turn towards love. It’s actually more fun here in the circles of radical hospitality.


Dorothy Day: Saved by Beauty

March 30, 2017

Kate Hennessy the youngest granddaughter of Catholic icon Dorothy Day (1897-1980), has written a fascinating biography of the not yet canonized Day, and her own mother Tamar, Day’s only child.

This book, Dorothy Day:The World will Be Saved by Beauty will be jarring reading for the fainthearted Catholics who want their saints and icons to be Hallmark cards of unalloyed piety and perfection.


Day of course had a fascinating life from bohemian friend of the young Eugene O’Neill and communist Mike Gold, a woman who had an abortion to serious Catholic with a penchant to priest idolatry  and a rigid spirituality. She appeared to be a hip anarchist with many lovers who found herself pregnant by the elusive Foster Batterham. The latter absolutely refused to marry Day. He wanted no truck with Catholicism which Day had embraced. It finally drove them apart and in n the end and after 5 years Day gives up on Forster but continues an on gain a off again relationship with him until she dies.

Day’s naked carnality puts Augustine to shame. This note to Forster is typical:

My desire for you is a painful rather than pleasurable emotion. It is a ravishing hunger which makes me want you more than anything in the world and makes me feel as though I could barely exist until I saw you again…I have never wanted you as much as I have ever since I left, from the first week on, although I’ve thought before that my desires were almost too strong to be borne.”

Tamar grows up with an absentee father off the scene and sadly marries the troubled David Hennessy with whom she has 9 children.

This movie is painful as we watch Hennessy disintegrate and Dorothy, now the founder of the Catholic Worker, combines the work of a hands on anti-poverty and anti-war activist with being a devoted grandmother.

At times her life appears out of control, absolutely chaotic. She only survives by taking off on speaking tours, riding buses and retreats to the Catholic Worker farm.

Hennesy’s mother, Tamar, who was Day’s only daughter. had a tempestuous but loving relationship with her mother. Tamar left the church in 1967 and was followed by all her children. There is a profound lesson to be teased out of all this. Patriarchy,misogyny and triumphalism would be good places to start.

This is a stunning book, sensitively written. It brings fresh light on the extraordinary Day whose freenetic  life was only saved by holding tight to a rigid Catholicism which many will find incredible. It is highly dubious if her harsh spirituality, highly judgmental and rigid until late in life could ever be duplicated today. At the same time it must be said, it saved Day but did have unforseen consequences.

Granddaughter Kate has rendered a great service to the Catholic community for fleshing out the visionary life of her extraordinary grandma whose love of books, music, beauty and the sacraments allowed her to persevere in her love for the poor and her own flesh and blood.

Who remembers Ben Salmon?

January 6, 2017

I wonder how many Catholics ever heard of Ben Salmon.

It seems to me his life would have made Christmas come alive as we welcomed the birth of the Prince of Peace.

In 1989 Torin Finney wrote Ben’s life Unsung Hero of the Great War (Paulist Press, 1989 —in my library somewhere. Maybe I lent it out. His life was inspiring. That of the official leadership, less so.

At Christmas Jack Gilroy wrote his homage to this saint.always trust the Catholic Worker to maintain pacifist New Testament principles.

Then the great Jesuit John Dear picked the story up in 2010

The story begins April 6, 1917. It was the day President Woodrow Wilson, the “peace president,” declared war on Germany, and the next day, Congress ratified the decision, bringing the United States. into World War I. Two weeks later, Cardinal James Gibbons of Baltimore, the de facto head of the U.S. Catholic church, issued a letter, to this effect: all Catholics were to support the war.

The letter was soon followed by the founding of the U.S. Bishops’ “National Catholic War Council,” which set out to mobilize Catholics for, what it called, “war work.” Peacework? Peacemaking? That was never an option. (According to historians, this War Council eventually led to the creation of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops.)As the darkness descended, on June 5, 1917, 28 year-old-Ben Salmon took up his pen. He wrote the president, saying he would refuse to fight. “Regardless of nationality,” he wrote,

all men are my brothers. God is “our father who art in heaven.” The commandment “Thou shalt not kill” is unconditional and inexorable. … The lowly Nazarene taught us the doctrine of non-resistance, and so convinced was he of the soundness of that doctrine that he sealed his belief with death on the cross. When human law conflicts with Divine law, my duty is clear. Conscience, my infallible guide, impels me to tell you that prison, death, or both, are infinitely preferable to joining any branch of the Army.

A brave missive in those days. Congress, suddenly fervid for war, wasted little time getting a new law on the books. It outlawed activities “detrimental to the war effort” — public anti-war statements, anti-war literature, utterances that might encourage draft resistance — all these punishable by up to 20 years behind bars.

Under the law, the authorities arrested hundreds, harassed thousands. And when challenged, finally, the law was upheld by the Supreme Court. Necessary for “national security,” they decreed.

Salmon had voted for Wilson. Like most, he had expected the president to lead the country to peace. And when the brilliant and upright candidate came to power and unleashed war, Salmon’s disappointment burned deep. Wilson outdid even his hawkish predecessors in warmaking. (A pattern, need it be added, quite obvious today.)

Undeterred by the chill on the air, Ben rose to leadership in Denver’s “People’s Council for Democracy and Peace,” a national anti-war organization. In defiance of the law, he wrote letters, gave speeches, and distributed pamphlets. Soon, he caught the attention of The New York Times, which hotly denounced him. He had become notorious.

Meantime, the gears of war turned feverishly, with a kind of census going full tilt to unearth prospective recruits. On Christmas day, Ben’s Army registration questionnaire arrived. Ben returned it, unfilled-out, accompanied by a letter explaining why. “Let those that believe in wholesale violation of the commandment, ‘Thou Shalt not Kill’ make a profession of faith by joining the army of war. I am in the army of peace, and in this army, I intend to live and die.”

Jan. 15, 1918, Denver policemen arrived at his door. The papers hurled slander his way, all sulfur and fire. The Knights of Columbus, the prominent Catholic lay association, in a fit of indignation revoked his membership. In March he was tried and convicted. And then the sentence came down — nine months in the county jail.

Gilroy writes that he was refused a priest and the eucharist. For 135 days prison guards poured liquids down his throat to keep him alive.

No support from the hierarchy.Cardinal James Gibbons encouraged RCs to join the war effort. .Cardinal Farley of New York: “Criticism of the government irritates me, it is short of treason.”

Hello Pontius Pilate!

Salmon was sentenced to death. This was commuted to 25 years. The government begged him to take an office job. For Salmon even non-combatant service, he said, entails cooperating with an institution “antithetical to Christianity.”

The war ended but not for Ben — solitary confinement — when he refused all orders. Five months he suffered in a dark, rat-infested cell. No toilet but a pail, bread and water his only food.

Matters grew worse yet when in June, 1919, the authorities transferred him to a military prison in Utah, where sadistic guards took a dim view of conscientious objectors. The guards inflicted beatings, withheld food, and kept prisoners underdressed against the cold.

“Christ’s doctrine to overcome evil with good” is the “most effective solution for individual and society ills that has ever been formulated. It is a practical policy…My life, my family, everything is now in the hands of God. His will be done.”

Two weeks later, death loomed, and he asked to see a priest. The priest arrived, but refused to offer him Communion, hear his confession or anoint him. Two other priests arrived some days later. And, after sizing things up, one of them agreed to the request for Communion. The sacrament was done. When word made its way back to the diocese, a fury descended. The priest was sent packing. Off to minor and punitive assignments in Oregon for pitying a traitor. Another instance of church colluding with warmongering state.

Today From the ACLU archives we have the fruits of Ben’s efforts, a 200-page, single-spaced essay on the fallacy of the just war. Much of it a refutation of the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on war by Father Macksey, a Jesuit from the Gregorian University in Rome. Point by point Ben refutes the lofty scholar.

“Either Christ is a liar or war is never necessary, and very properly assuming that Christ told the truth, it follows that the State is without [in the words of Father Macksey] ‘judicial authority to determine when war is necessary,’ because it is never necessary.”

Much of Salmon’s thinking depended on the Apostle Paul. “Overcome evil with good,” admonished Paul. (Rom 12:21).

We do not attempt to overcome lying with lies; we overcome it with truth. We do not try to overcome curses with curses, but we overcome with silence or with words of friendship. Sickness is not overcome with sickness; it is overcome with health… Anger is overcome with meekness, pride by humility. And the successful way to overcome the evil of war is by the good of peace, a steadfast refuse to render evil for evil.

A sad matter when faithfulness, nonviolence, sanity, as it was in Jesus’ own day, is regarded as — insanity. Finally the well-respected Msgr. John Ryan of Catholic University got wind of the news and personally lobbied the Secretary of War.


The War Department, in a feeble way, finally relented — they would release 33 conscientious objectors. Ben would be among them. Thanksgiving 1920, he was released and, from the army he never joined, dishonorably discharged. The news made front pages across the nation.

Persona non grata thereafter, he struggled to find good work. And when the Depression set in, he and his family landed in deep poverty. His health never recovered — the forced feedings had taken their toll — and in 1932 he caught pneumonia and died.
The astonishing life and times of Ben Salmon, all but unheard of in our day and age.

John Dear’s summary of Salmon’s life:

I regard him as a saint for the ages. He took on the nation, he took on Christendom. He took them on in reverence toward the Christ of peace. He shows us what allegiance to the nonviolent Jesus looks like.

A handful of great peacemakers have been given us: Franz Jagerstatter and Dorothy Day, Philip Berrigan and Howard Zinn. Yet most bishops and priests, and following their lead, most of the laity, still cheer on state-sanctioned mass murder, especially when committed in Jesus’ name. They go along, they rock few boats.

More, among our military, a third are Catholic. Vastly more theologians than not, like Father Macksey, pursue justifications for war. I get the feeling that the bishops wish they could start a new “National Catholic War Council;” they certainly haven’t formed a “Peace Council.” And today, as in Ben’s own day, an eloquent president, elected on promises of peace, has taken warmaking to new heights. The times, Ben’s and ours, run parallel. And that being the case, one of the brightest beacons we have is Ben.

His example urges us to refuse to cooperate with the warmaking state. Is the stand costly, are the stakes high? No matter.

“Peacemaking is hard, hard almost as war,” to quote the poet,Dan Berrigan

The vocation falls to us, Christians everywhere, to follow the nonviolent Jesus.

The set decorator priests

December 28, 2016

I once kidded a highly placed bishop for picking up his own phone. He laughed and proceeded to needle me about a column I had written about how out of touch the JP2 bishops were.They appeared, and still do, like ghost figures whose life styles hardly embraced the human condition.In particular in the column the bishop alluded to, i jokingly said that you’ll know when the Parousia (end times) is arriving: you are at a jazz club and you look across the room and you see a bishop! Never happens in my experience. Early to bed early to rise and you never meet the regular guys.

40 years ago i wrote another article(in the flush of the great Vatican ll glow, that until you can tell a bishop to eff off, he wasn’t worth bothering about.
The Catholci people have had their fill of the “set decorator priests” as Eugene Kennedy once called them, all part of the princely past of hierarchical Catholicism. Kennedy quipped,”If they build the people will come.” Well they did build it and the people left because these wax dummies were so divorced from everyday life.Kennedy further stated, ”they share a bristling confidence that they are the defenders of the faith out to rid the Church of Vatican ll heresies… a new generation of true believers whose zeal for their father’s house earns them places of honour in the new restoration.” Those days are long gone when people slobber over an episcopal ring, refer to “You excellency” and worst of all, ignore your heartfelt letters because you disagree with them.

I used to meet a beautiful priest regularly in his day off. He was the real deal, had gone to Latin America, seen another reality, actually read critical books on the church.He had had it with the local bishop, a real piece of the Canadian shield and told me he was leaving. I never tried to convince him otherwise but really hoped he would stay, because he was authentic. 6 months later I ran into him—and he was back!
What happened?
He lived in his brother’s basement apartment, saw the struggle his bro had with his young family, contrasted it with his own privileged life and he came back to earth—still on the job.

Which brings me to the new archbishop of Newark, Joe Tobin .Next time.


Pope Francis disses reactionary bishops

December 26, 2016

On December 22 Pope Francis denounced the resistance he’s encountering in reforming the Vatican bureaucracy, saying some of it is inspired by the devil and that the prelates who work for him must undergo “permanent purification” to serve the Catholic Church better.


Wow, strong albeit metaphorical language.

But dead on.

We have a few high ranking prelates in Canada who really do need “permanent purification.” They are the JP ll -Ratzinger brigade who unsuccessfully tried to stem reform in the church.

One of my favourites is the auxiliary bishop in Ottawa who declared openly that he was not “a Francis bishop” but a JP bishop. Whoopee.
Sadly these men, imposed on the people of God from above, were noted for being Yes men, reactionaries to the Vatican ll agenda. They were simply unwilling to perceive the signs of the times, the insight that baptism trumped holy orders.Lay people by dint of baptism needed to be seriously consulted.

this has never happened. this is why female ordination has not taken place. A scandal which has alienated many Catholics.

The clerics will not listen—even to their own teaching:

The Anglican Roman Catholic International Commission (ARCIC) 1998 states this:
Those who exercise episcope in the Body of Christ must not be separated from the ‘symphony’ of the whole people of God in which they have their part to play. They need to be alert to the sensus fidelium, in which they share, if they are to be made aware when something is needed for the well-being and mission of the community, or when some element of the Tradition needs to be received in a fresh way. (#30)

something is needed for sure. as of now the bishops got the words but they ain’t got the music

Francis is playing a new tune but these men appear to be tone deaf. they reuse to dance.

Chas McCarthy to Pope Francis

December 12, 2016



This is the mere opening of that incredible apostle of the  nonviolent Jesus, Emmanuel Charles McCarthy

Dear Pope Francis,

Christ is in our midst. He is now and ever shall be.

I am aware that several hundred Catholics and Americans of goodwill have appealed to you by letter, petitioning you regarding your upcoming visit to the United States in September. They appeal to you to denounce the U.S. government—not the American people—for the nation’s military aggression, its ongoing nuclear armament, its use of torture, and its genocide of the Arab people of the Middle East. These conscientious Americans are, surely, representative of tens of millions of other people of goodwill who are sickened by the agony that the U.S. economic, political, and military elites have intentionally brought down upon the Arab people.

Many American Catholics have waited every Sunday—for more than a decade now—waited for their bishop or priest to say something to counter the prevailing U.S. culture of unapologetic militarism, war mythology, war profiteering, vicious Machiavellian morality, with its stealing from the poor in order to fund killing the poor, all the while watching their local dioceses and churches morph into breeding grounds of nationalistic sentimentality, patriotic fervor, and glorification of the military. It is not difficult to understand why many American Catholics and others are looking to you, Pope Francis, to finally, finally, say something about this nightmarish, cold-blooded, pre-emptive war, and its crushing, merciless consequences for the people of the Middle East.



Be not afraid—join a movement

October 19, 2016

“But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.” Matt.14:27

The contemporary Catholic church says,”Be not involved.” Do not sully yourself by diving into history. There may be a cross for you. You may lose friends. Instead be part of the clean up crew, the charity givers, the cheque writers, the historically disengaged. Stay out of coalitions which fight injustice—like Kairos. Go to church and use prayer as a substitute for action.

There is seldom a response to Come follow me. After all it might lead to a cross. Very uncool.
Jim Wallis the great American evangelist many years ago gave the clue to Catholic churches.
Ask yourself if this parish meeting is linked to an outside movement. if not you are wasting your time. More navel gazing, more evading a historical commitment.Take the exit ramp on the way to Jerusalem.
Show me a Catholic parish which openly joins the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, the Suzuki Foundation, all organizations addressing the greatest moral issue of our time climate justice. There are none. Too risky. Besides we would not be in control.Instead we have some cheap grace, prayers from the pulpit which evade our historical responsibility.


Was the Catholic Church there?


How do we stay compassionate in the face of constant global tragedy?” Presbyterian writer Chris Hedges replied that he tries to maintain a constant relationship with the oppressed; this, he believes, keeps him accountable, despite his own privilege as a white male American.
Hedges said we are watching the rise of fascism through neoliberalism in America. Trump is “imbecilic, idiotic, self-destructive, morally repugnant,” he said, and it says something about our country that Hillary Clinton “is only four points ahead” in the polls. Clinton, he said, “is basically Mitt Romney in drag.”
So how does the average American combat neoliberalism, if our current political process is such a shambles? For Hedges, it comes down to large-scale movements—such as the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, the Dakota Access pipeline protestsand social justice movements that originated in Ferguson, Mo. “We can’t underestimate the power of living in truth,” Hedges said, “even though it’s outside of the formal mechanisms of power.”
Add to Hedges’ list Kairos Palestine. Catholic churches have turned a deaf ear to the 2009 request from all the Christian churches to fight Israeli occupation.
These movements have the power to influence the political elite, he continued. “The only things they have to offer you in this election is fear,” Hedges concluded. “The moment you stop being afraid, they become afraid.”


Join a movement. There is both strength and solidarity in numbers. Every parish has great people waiting to be set on fire. Don’t wait for father’s permission to act. A wet match can’t start a fire. History is changed by movements. The Lone Ranger died years ago and in the words of Ben Franklin,”We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately.”