Sunday, September 18, 2011
I wish Catholicism were a bit more catholic
The Problem Seems to be Sex
Yes, what a shame, but that seems to be the case. When I was much younger and could understand what celibacy meant, marriage was out of the question for a priest, and I knew right away that I sure didn't want to be a priest in that church. When I met scores of former priests who left the priesthood for marriage, that fact merely reinforced my earlier reactions.
Mind you, sex is a problem for other churches too. My mother could not be married in the Episcopal Church in 1956 because she had been divorced. My uncle felt unwelcome because, truth be told, he was gay. In fact most of my family thought that the whole church thing was a bunch of bunk anyway; superstition and ignorance were the words they used to describe the whole of the religious world.
It befuddled my family to no end when I decided to become a priest. But I loved God, I loved Jesus, and I loved the whole thing about Jesus bringing Good News to the poor (Luke 4:18), I loved how he treated the "least of these" and how he recruited fisherfolk, and outcasts, how he healed the sick. And most of all, I admired his pure grit and courage in facing the religious authorities of his day. It seems, that we will always have to face the religious authorities of the day.
Thankfully, I was brought up in the Episcopal Church, so getting married was no big deal; in fact it was more or less expected that family life would be normative in this church.
This is how it has been for Reformed Christianity in The Episcopal Church/Anglicanism, and in the Lutheran Church for more than 600 years. I wish Roman Catholicism were just a bit more catholic.
As I child, I said the Creed each week. In it I said; "I believe in One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church". I was taught in Confirmation class that the word "catholic" means "universal". That puzzled me more since "Catholicism" seemed to be identified to a huge exclusive club, and not to all of humanity. It seemed hardly "catholic" to me.
I knew this because when I went to Mass with my friends, I was told I was not welcome to receive Communion. Rome is still making that claim, as if the Eucharistic meal instituted by Jesus were their exclusive province. That made no sense to me at all, since, when Jesus fed the multitudes on the hillsides of Galilee and elsewhere he didn't check to see if folks were card carrying "Catholics". Those folks hungered for God and Jesus fed them not just with bread and wine but with every word that comes from the mouth of God. At that point everybody, including Jesus was Jewish anyway, unless they were Samaritans or Gentiles of some other description. Jesus fed them too!
It took Episcopalians a long time to figure out that EVERYONE is welcome at God's table. After all, the Holy Table belongs to Jesus, and not to any "organization". If the church is "Catholic" then it belongs to Jesus anyway and not to a select group in Rome who decide who's in and who's out.
It took us a long time to figure out that divorced persons could be remarried. Similarly, it took a very long time to figure out that women could be ordained.
Rome still hasn't figured out that priests can be married, let alone that women can be ordained. In the meantime, an enormous scandal involving pedophilia has emerged. Rome still hasn't figured out that priests need to have background checks from an outside agency. Unfortunately the church is doing its own self policing. And frankly, that's a bit like asking the wolf to watch the hen house.
Again we figured this out and that cleaned out our clerical house in a whole hurry up. We're not without sin even yet. But the problem of child sex abuse has been largely weeded out of our church but persists in Rome and is far more widespread than many of us expected, as I pointed out in a previous post on this blog.
Now the big problem is the LGBTQ community (that's shorthand for Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual, Transgendered, and Queer). I have argued that we are becoming a Rainbow Church that is now willing to celebrate the Rainbow Marriage. I have argued the biblical base for both and believe that the move toward catholicity is irreversible.
I only wish that Roman Catholicism were a bit more catholic. A universally catholic church will learn to embrace marriage for its clergy, see women as being equal to men in every sense and even at the Church's Altar. A catholic church will ultimately embrace what God has made of all humanity; whatever race, ethnicity, class, gender or orientation. The day is coming when God's church will become a "House of Prayer for ALL People". I've argued that position too in this blog in an earlier post.
I do wish Roman Catholicism were a bit more catholic. Vatican II gave us such great hope. We cannot become One until we become catholic in the deepest sense of that meaning. Many Catholics pray for that Day. Many Anglicans/Episcopalians pray for that day too. We all hold to One, Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church.
In the meantime, in this tiny corner of the world of faith, we believe that catholicism is very much what God wants of his church, a church that rejoices in the Rainbow, a church in which all are welcome, a church which is "A House of Prayer for ALL People".
Remember God love us all, and in particular; You!