Come in! Come in!

"If you are a dreamer, come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a Hope-er, a Pray-er, a Magic Bean buyer; if you're a pretender, come sit by my fire. For we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!" -- Shel Silverstein

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Why Jesus Wept: The Challenge of Organized Religion

Roman Catholics were recently advised they are "unworthy recipients" of the Eucharist and should "refrain from receiving the sacrament" of Holy Communion if they are divorced, "invalidly married," engaging in sex outside of marriage, believe in or practice reproductive rights, or have "homosexual inclinations" and are "inherently disordered."

Apparently, though, it's okay to have "honest doubts and confusion" but not honesty or authenticity.

"To be a Catholic is a challenge," said Paterson (NJ) Bishop Arthur Serratelli, in what was unanimously voted the "Understatement of the Year" by my Roman Catholic friends.

Ah, yes, but is their "manner of life a challenge to the Wider Anglican Communion"? Just try and avoid the subtleties of THAT! Now, there's the REAL challenge!


Bishops' meeting OK's 'core belief' documents
Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Star-Ledger Staff

BALTIMORE -- Reaching out to Catholics who ignore or just don't know important church teachings, American bishops yesterday approved documents on birth control, Communion and homosexuality.

One document restates church opposition to artificial birth control. Another urges Catholics who ultimately reject core religious beliefs not to receive Communion. A third welcomes gay people into parishes, while opposing same-sex marriage and offending some gay-rights activists in its tone.

All three issues have proved vexing for a hierarchy dealing with a generally resistant population of American Catholics, who in polls tend to oppose the church stance on issues of sexuality.

Paterson Bishop Arthur Serratelli, who chaired the American bishops' Committee on Doctrine and guided the documents on Communion and homosexuality to approval here, said he hopes American Catholics will view them as positive statements of Catholic faith and will begin to adhere to them if they don't already.

"To be a Catholic is a challenge," Serratelli said yesterday, the second day of the annual fall bishops conference. "To be a Catholic requires a certain choice. And these are the choices that are consistent with the gospel of Jesus as handed down in the church."

The statements contain little that will seem new to attentive Catholics, but they reiterate church teachings that bishops find especially relevant to Catholics in the United States, where, they say, sex and religion are treated casually and moral relativism holds too much sway.

Writers of the document on homosexuality tried to walk a delicate line, repeating church belief that "homosexual inclinations" are "objectively disordered" while trying not to alienate gay people. The document speaks of the need to welcome gays in parishes, lamented violence against them in society, and criticized all sex outside marriage, including that between heterosexual people.

But the tone in parts of the document, titled "Ministry to Persons with a Homosexual Inclination: Guidelines for Pastoral Care," upset gay-rights activists, who pointed to the title itself as an indication of a continued hard line. They also bristled at a line saying adopted children of same-sex parents could be baptized, but doing so "presents a pastoral concern" requiring a pastor's "prudential judgment."

"It's a flawed document," said Francis DeBernardo of New Ways Ministry, a Maryland organization for gay and lesbian Catholics. "Right from the title, by using the word 'inclination' rather than 'orientation,' the bishops are showing that they don't have a good understanding of homosexuality. And if they don't have a good understanding of homosexuality, they're unable to write effective pastoral guidelines."

The document on Communion urges lay Catholics to refrain from receiving the sacrament if they decide they do not believe core church teachings -- the divinity of Jesus, for example, and opposition to abortion and artificial contraception. Its goal, Serratelli said, is to inspire people to take Communion more seriously.

Communion is the heart of the Catholic Mass, a sacred rite by which Catholics experience Jesus. Catholicism teaches that priests can consecrate bread and wine to become the actual body and blood of Jesus. Unworthy receipt of Communion is viewed in the church as a grave matter.

The Communion document calls on lay Catholics to determine, before going up for Communion, whether they are properly disposed to receive it.

The document says that people "with honest doubt and confusion" about church teachings should continue receiving Communion "as long as they are prayerfully and honestly striving to understand the truth of what the Church professes and are taking appropriate steps to resolve their confusion and doubt."

But, it continues, "If a Catholic in his or her personal or professional life were knowingly and obstinately to reject the defined doctrines of the Church, or knowingly and obstinately to repudiate her definitive teaching on moral issues, however, he or she would diminish his or her communion with the Church. Reception of Holy Communion in such a situation would not accord with the nature of the Eucharistic celebration, so that he or she should refrain."

The document was written after a request by Newark Archbishop John J. Myers in 2004, when some bishops said they would deny Communion to John Kerry, that year's Democratic presidential candidate. Kerry, who is Catholic, had been a firm supporter of abortion rights.

Yesterday, Myers cited concerns by pastors in the archdiocese that people go up for Communion who should not do so, such as "those who go (to Mass) like twice a year or those who are living together in invalid marriages or without the benefit of marriage. All kinds of people don't understand their responsibility as they approach the sacraments, including the Holy Eucharist."

Jeff Diamant covers religion.
He may be reached at (973) 392-1547

© 2006 The Star Ledger
© 2006 All Rights Reserved.


MadPriest said...

Well, looking at the vicar I would guess post-op transgender, but he might be just a good old fashioned transvestite. If the vicar made the piccalilli then definitely post-op, no self-respecting trannie's gonna risk getting that muck under her finger nails.

Weiwen Ng said...

The Roman Catholic Church fought Galileo for years. They eventually repented and apologized.

Their current tirades against homosexuality seem similar. Psychologists generally agree that variations in sexual orientation are normal. The RCC will, some day, wake up to that.

That having been said, I once heard a joke. There are two kinds of change in the Catholic Church, fast and slow. The fast takes 300 years.

Prayers for all our sisters and brothers in Christ struggling to reconcile whichever church's teachings with revelation in daily experience!