Thursday, September 25, 2014

AN OPEN LETTER TO CARDINAL PELL

Then Jesus spoke to the crowds and to his disciples, saying, “The scribes and the Pharisees have taken their seat on the chair of Moses. Therefore, do and observe all things whatsoever they tell you, but do not follow their example. For they preach but they do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens hard to carry and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they will not lift a finger to move them. All their works are performed to be seen. They widen their phylacteries and lengthen their tassels. They love places of honor at banquets, seats of honor in synagogues, greetings in marketplaces, and the salutation ‘Rabbi.’ As for you, do not be called ‘Rabbi.’ You have but one teacher, and you are all brothers. Call no one on earth your father; you have but one Father in heaven. Do not be called ‘Master’; you have but one master, the Messiah. The greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled; but whoever humbles himself will be exalted. Matthew 23:1-12
Dear Cardinal Pell,
In the lead-up to next month’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family you and a number of your confreres are re-asserting the church’s longstanding exclusion of divorced and remarried people from communion.
Your foreword to The Gospel of the Family appears to leave us with little doubt: outsiders are not welcome.
As you have said, “The sooner the wounded, the lukewarm, and the outsiders realise that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated.”
Respectfully, I have a number of questions I’d like to consider with you; conscious, of course, that neither of us in our grappling can claim to really know the mind of Christ.
So, what was it that our Lord had in mind when he instituted the Eucharist with these self-emptying words, “This is my body, this is my blood?” Whose hunger was he responding to? Who was welcome? And what are the implications for our Sunday worship and beyond? 
Well, we do know this: The tax collectors and sinners were all crowding round to listen to him, and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them …’ (Lk 15:2-3) 
And this: It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: ‘Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice.’ And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners. (Mt 9:12-13)
And this: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me!
Let anyone who believes in me come to drink! (Jn 7:38)
And this: When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town … She covered his feet with kisses and anointed him … the Pharisee said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know … what sort of person [was] touching him and what a bad name she has …’ (Lk 7:36-39)
And this: They were at supper … and he got up from table, removed his outer garments … and began to wash his disciples’ feet … (Jn 13:2, 4, 5) 
And this: Peter said …‘You know it is forbidden for Jews to mix with people of another race or visit them; but God has made it clear to me that I must not call anyone profane or unclean … God has no favourites … and who am I to stand in God’s way?’ (Acts 10:28, 34 & 11:17)
Could it be, given the exclusivity of our Communion, that when we proclaim these words we are potentially condemning ourselves as well?
Just think: Jesus, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners (Lk 7:34), real and present in our Breaking of Bread. Wow. Extraordinary. Out of this world. We actually believe this … don’t we?
If we answer in the affirmative, there are profound consequences: are we not also compelled to look beyond the in-crowd and welcome outsiders; are we not also compelled to take risks: like the risk of being labelled and pilloried for sharing our table with those we are not supposed to; for doing something that is forbidden by law. I am not thinking here of people who do not care. I am concerned for those who are hungry for love and long to share even the crumbs from the table.
Can any of us truly look at our Lord and Master and say without a profound sense of foreboding: ‘Yes, I am a follower; but you must understand there are rules …’
His disciples were hungry and began to pick ears of corn and eat them. The Pharisees noticed it and said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath’. (Mt 12:1-2)
If the Eucharist is essentially an encounter with the real presence, rather than essentially an institutional-cum-cultic event, then surely the Master’s social interactions make it abundantly clear: hunger, not worthiness underpins Table Fellowship. To allow the law, cultic statutes, and theology to take precedence over mercy and love and encounter, is tantamount to perpetuating the hard line rigour of those Pharisees who complained bitterly and moralised pompously about so many things.
Their approach fostered a cold, superficial temple-based religion. But Jesus invited his followers to a change of heart, a heart oriented to the one called, Abba – Father : a relational, God-based faith.
Indeed, if Jesus himself was bound by the strictures of his religious tribe and the social mores of his day, he would never have encountered the woman at the well because ‘Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans’ (Jn 4:10). Thankfully, he was not. Thus, a women consigned to the margins, and thirsting for love, was afforded one-on-one time with the One who risked everything to offer her living water.
Yet, despite the extraordinary inclusiveness and openness of our foot washing Master; not to mention the accusations his behaviour attracted – blasphemy, law-breaking, ‘prince of devils’ – there are still those who insist that the meal instituted by him who emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil 2:7) be an exclusive, High Church event with all the accoutrements, pomp and ceremony, do’s and don’ts, and rules about who’s in and who’s out, as if the Holy One needs protection and distancing from an encounter with the great unwashed.
If this non-relational Temple-centred worship takes hold, then we too leave ourselves open to the criticism:
Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple. And if you had understood the meaning of the words: ‘Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice’, you would have not condemned the blameless. For the Son of Man is master of the Sabbath. (Mt 12:5-8)
And if, in the depth of our being, we believe Jesus is real and present at the breaking of bread, then how do we justify the exclusion of so many? Can we in good conscience continue to turn away those longing to drink from the well-of-life because Catholics, of course, do not break bread with …? 
There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can neither be male nor female – for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28-29)
I do not presume to know the mind of Pope Francis either, but his musings on spiritual worldliness seem especially apt:
[There] are those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelising, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door of grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. (Evangelii Gaudium #94) 
In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few … The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. (Evangelii Gaudium #95)
It prompts the question: has a simple, inclusive and profound ‘family’ meal been overwhelmed by an impersonal and, often times, sterile institutional sacrifice; one that tends towards mass exclusion?
Peace and regards,
Fr Peter Day, Parish Priest, Corpus ChristiArchdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia

Source:  Here

22 comments:

  1. Nice try, Father Day, but the club will remained closed.
    The Catholic Church might as well hang out the "No Jews Allowed" or "No colored allowed" sign.
    Sad but true. The synod will change nothing.

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    1. I hope and pray you are wrong here.
      It appears that Pope Francis is looking to "do something."
      In the Church, change is never easy nor speedy.
      The teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is not going to change, nor do I think it should. How the Church responds to the human reality can change, and for what my opinion is worth, it should. Though I'm not so clear on the how.

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  2. Don't many priests already look the other way when remarried parishioners receive Communion?

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    1. Perhaps a "don't ask, don't tell" policy? I suppose in your average Latin Rite parish that is too large for the priest to really know the people that would work out okay. However, in Eastern Rite and national/ethnic parishes the community is small, even if the congregation is large. Everyone knows everyone and their business and there are ALWAYS those that have a need to insert their noses into the loves of others. Even if Father says "mind your own Ps and Qs" these types will insist on taking it to the next level.

      I would really like to post a survey related to this. If anyone knows an easy (VERY EASY) program/app/widget or whatever it's called to conduct surveys/polls in Blogger, please let me know. Drop me an email (fatherjtd@gmail) or add a comment here. Thanks!

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  3. I had forgotten all about that bishop in Brother Sun, Sister Moon. Guido! Boy, wouldn't he fit right in with some of today's crowd of anti Francis prelates.

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  4. Of course the Church should uphold its teachings on the indissolubility of marriage, but this is something entirely different from making individual couples whose marriages have ended, for whatever reason, bear the entire burden of this teaching. Yes, all the sacraments are related, but only in the context of the community in which all members are called to bear with each other in love. The gravest scandal is the Church using one sacrament as a means of "disqualifying" people from participation in the "summit and source" of all Christian life in the sacrament of the Eucharist. In a way, it is no surprise. Marriage has typically been seen as a disqualifying status in the Catholic Church. . . And many of those who claim to be upholding the dignity of marriage by penalizing those with broken marriages who would like to try again likely don't really believe in the dignity of marriage anyway.

    Rom 2: 22-23: "For there is no distinction; all have sinned and are deprived of the glory of God."

    Nice letter. Your parishioners are blessed to have you.

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    1. I would never take credit for the work of a good priest. Father Peter Day of Australia is the author. I am sure Father Day would never consent to being a part of a blog such as this!

      http://www.ccparish.org.au/node/105 is the source of the letter.

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    2. But I certainly agree, Father Day's parish is very lucky to have such a priest.

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    3. Ha ha...of course his parishioners are blessed to have him...thanks for posting the letter!

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  5. Is it just me or is Father Zed sounding more and more like Glenn Beck these days? The widespread reduction of enemies to "the liberals," the conflation of ISIS with "the religion of peace"…. has he lost his marbles? is it a fundraising ploy? Or did someone tell him "mention one more bishop by name and we'll actually research whether or not you are actually a priest in good standing"?

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    1. He is indeed and in truth in good standing in his home diocese in Italy and in Madison WI in these United States. Pretty much everywhere else as well.
      JTD

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  6. Since Pell is the money guy at the Vatican now, maybe he should check out whether or not Father Z pays taxes on his donations. Father Z announced today that he is NOT incorporated as a non-profit, which means….

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  7. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this, and it certainly hits close to home. Someone should nail it to the doors of a Church

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    1. And a good few Cathedrals as well!

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  8. God it hurts my head when I read stupid crap like this. This concept of the Church is a concept that never existed. Yes, Christ welcomed all, then converted them to the truth, and carried on. The Scriptures, which this protestant (yes, he is clearly protestant in his "theology") never indicate that Christ welcomed sinners and then said, "it's ok to keep sinning and doing what you do. I'm just happy you're here! You're all saved and have no personal responsibility! Yay!!"

    That's what people wish He said. Luther called us piles of shit covered in snow. No personal responsibility. We get to do what we want and we're all saved and we never have to worry about sinning or nothin'! Woohoo! You want to get divorced and ignore the sacrament of marriage? Great! Come on in! You don't want to take personal responsibility for your actions? Great! Come on in! Tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the Kingdom of Heaven because they heard the truth of John the Baptist and believed (and then it is implied that they changed their way of life!!!!!) IT DOESN'T SAY THAT BECAUSE ONLY A DUMBASS WOULD ASSUME THAT YOU HAVE TO DO NOTHING TO ATTAIN SALVATION! YIKES!

    I pity this parish. They need someone who knows what the hell he's talking about. Yikes.

    And yeah, I used profanity. If you want to engage my anonymous comment, please do, but let's avoid Ad Hominem attacks. You're dealing with someone with a Philosophy degree so cheap theatrics won't work.

    Peace

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    1. Let's begin the with premise that rectal thermometers have more degrees than you and I put together, and we know where those are put.

      Our Lord sets the bar very high in many areas of life. Perfection, for which all Christians are called to strive for, is hard. It's supposed to be. We are supposed to be challenged to live according to a higher standard. I want to be challenged. I want to grow in holiness-- and I have a LONG LONG way to go!

      The Church is the agent of God's mercy through her Sacred Mysteries (the Sacraments) and has an obligation to "speak the Truth in love" with compassion and always urge us on to fight against the darkness and win the race.

      Your passion for the Gospel shows forth in your words. Do you honestly think that I have less love of the Gospel, or love the Church less than you do? Do you think Father Day (whom I don't know at all) has no love for the Gospel or the Church?

      When I read Father Day's letter I understand it quite differently that you do.

      Even many more conservative and tradition minded are calling for "something" to be done. Bishop Tobin of Providence R.I. is not known for being a raging liberal and he is calling for some type of "reform."

      Western Society has changed significantly! The reality is much less than the ideal. I do not think that any priest or lay person advocating for some change is seeking to have the bar lowered-- only to have mercy applied based on the situation "on the ground."

      The Eastern Orthodox have an approach to the marriage situation that should be considered. Yes, sometimes it is abused. However, so is the annulment process in the Catholic Church.

      Real life is messy. There are no easy answers. But let's at least ask the questions, discuss possibilities and reach some answers that will allow individuals who are otherwise seeking to be good Catholics to be restored to Eucharistic Communion.

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    2. i have a couple of philosophy degrees and a couple in theology too. the degrees are inconsequential.

      what is consequential is how we speak about the mercy and love of God made visible in Christ Jesus, the Lord.

      i appreciate the words of fr. day. he speaks like many of us who have been in the trenches for decades working with those in a second marriage.

      through no fault of their own, many do not have the opportunity to pursue annulments. in my parish we have a number of refugees, who have no access to records or to the former spouse. both are required to bring forward a case.

      fr. d is correct. we need give consideration to the eastern approach and to recognize that annulments in the west are still something most easily accessed by the wealthy and the affluent.

      and yes - i worked for the marriage tribunal for a number of years. beyond the philosophy degrees, i speak from experience.

      why deprive people of the sacrament that they need to heal and to grow as God's own? it's seems not only counter-productive but counter-intuitive.

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    3. JTD-

      Sweet jab to start your comment. If only we all possessed the ability to swing the low blow then demand an elevation to the conversation! Hypocrisy at its finest.

      Allow me to answer your two questions: Yes and Yes

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  9. "As I read some fiction of the dystopian, or apocalyptic, or prepper genres (which often intertwine) I ponder..."
    Yowza! Is he trying to scare people into donating or is he desperately fantasizing the only scenario in accordance with the choices he's made? At this point, only worldwide catastrophe could justify (not really) an "I told you so!"
    By the way, "prepper" refers to the tuna fish and ammo crowd who await The Coming Storm. I would bet good [central bank-issued fiat] money that Zebulon has what every proper prepper prepares: a 'bug out bag', filled with the essentials of survival, ready for a Grab and Go to avoid the zombies or black helicopters or -

    [EDIT: I then performed a Google search just to make sure there weren't any 'bug out bag' hits on Z's....]

    https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&rlz=1C1CHFX_enUS476US476&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#safe=off&q=bugout+bag+site:wdtprs.com

    By St. Sebastian's Sixpack! this is TOO MUCH! There's even a photo of his Bug Out Bag contents, including his Beretta 9mm.

    This is why (mentioned explicitly) he's fooling around with ham radio! For TEOTWAWKI, which, it turns out, is not the name of some saintly 17th century Algonquin altar boy devoted to the latin mass, but an acronym for The End Of The World As We Know It.

    You probably all knew this; I'm new here. This man needs help. He should not have been interviewed by ObamAmeriKa Magazyklon as if he were just 'another voice in the conversation'. That was not responsible Catholic journalism. Maybe the Colbert Report chaplain thinks Zippo is a Second City alum with the same schtick.

    Now, for what I came here to ask: why is there an obsession (25% off!) with this book by The Five Cardinals about "the Myth of 'Divorce'"? Does Bug Out Baglady realize he's not exactly an expert on that sort of thing even if he did read "The Book", as he's calling it? Why is he going all in on this one? What if the synod doesn't go his way? Will he 'bug out' and disappear into the Upper Pennisula? He's setting himself up, it seems.. or maybe not - he's clearly unstable.
    Sorry to go on, this is all just... wow. Time to expose myself to some relative sanity and pop in my BluRay of Zardoz:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kbGVIdA3dx0

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    1. Z-boy is not really unstable. He exhibits anti-social (sociopathic) behavior and tendencies toward malignant narcissism. He is much too goal-directed to be crazy. He knows exactly what he is doing.

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  10. Z suffers from MicroPenis and is mad at the world because of it.

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