Monday, 26 January 2009

ARCC speaks for millions of Catholics

To Pope Benedict: Be Catholic!

The latest move by Pope Benedict XVI to reinstate four schismatic bishops of the St. Pius X Society-which rejects the liberalizing decrees of Vatican Council II (1962-65)-is shocking as it negatively highlights the millions of Catholics he apparently is not interested in reaching out to, including the millions deprived of the Eucharist because of the medieval law requiring that only celibate males can be priests.

Last spring the Pew Foundation found that there are currently 65 million American Catholics-and 30 million former American Catholics! These latter are not Vatican II rejectionists like the Traditionalists, but most likely are either Catholics who are deeply disappointed at the anti-Vatican II Restorationism of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, or never really learned about the Freedom Spirit of Vatican II in the parched years after the appointment of Cardinal Wotyla as Pope in late 1978.

We of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC, founded in 1980 in the wake of the Vatican repression of Catholic thinkers in 1979) welcome the reaching out to the few million Traditionalist Catholics.

We also cry out for a reaching out to the 30 million alienated former American Catholics! (How many more millions of former Catholics are there elsewhere in the world!?) We also look for a reaching out to the untold millions of the 65 million current American Catholics who are barely holding on to their church membership by their fingernails, threatening to swell the ranks of the 30 missing millions.

Personally, I also plead with my former colleague on the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Tübingen, Professor Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, to reach out not only to the right, but also to the left. Make our Church truly catholic, universal!

Professor Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L.

President, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church


Saturday, 3 January 2009

What Every Roman Catholic Should Know about Self-Excommunication

This comes from ARCC Spot Light

Ed, a We Are Church (UK) supporter and members of the discussion group, comments, "Based on what we were taught by a wonderful Jesuit priest during a school retreat, I firmly believe that laughter is the best weapon. Whether the writer was in any way serious, this is so funny that it should be included on the blog, perhaps with a comment that "Satire can sometimes strain too hard to make its point.""

Most Catholics are familiar with Excommunication. It is a penalty imposed by Church authorities for having done serious things like abortions, heresies, schisms, and other crimes. The purpose is to seek repentance and protect the faithful. In days gone by it could be deadly as now-canonized saints like St. Joan of Arc, learned the hard way.

The two general types are
a) AUTOMATIC - the kind that happens just by doing the deed,


b) IMPOSED - the kind that needs to be issued, publically or secretly, by some Church official.

New on the Excommunication scene is the concept of Self-Excommunication (SEx)whereby one excommunicates oneself. There are apparently two different types of SEx:

a) Self Excommunication in the External Forum (SEx-EF) which occurs when a Church official declares that you have excommunicated yourself (even without your knowledge) or after a certain time period (30 days),


b) Self Excommunication in the Internal Forum (SEx-IF) whereby one excommunicates oneself by doing or believing the same thing as those who have been self excommunicated in the External Forum (SEx-EF). This latter category, (SEx-IF), can be further divided into:

ACTIVE (SEx-IF-Active) which includes those Catholics who are still active in the Church but support such things as the ordination of women, birth control, same sex unions, stemcell research, in-vitro fertilization, Obama for President, shared control of Church property, and more recently, active support for child sex-abuse victims (others to be added later),


PASSIVE (SEx-IF-Passive) which includes those Catholics who have just passively left the Church and moved on. (The third largest group of Christians in the US).

The above is offered as an observed description of this phenomenon and is not in any way official. A preliminary search finds no official reference in Church Law nor in past documents that deal directly with this, a gap soon to be filled no doubt by the Catholic media. Practically speaking, there is not much defense against the SEx-EF except to repent quickly if possible.

Those who fall into the SEx-IF-Active category would be well advise to keep a low profile and avoid going public, until such time as the Spirit calls you to be a more prophetic Christian.

It is obvious to many that our Church is in serious trouble, and that such machinations are only attempts to avoid the inevitable need for reform through accountability, openness, and participation of all. Please pray that the loving Spirit of God who dwells amongst us will prevail and help our poor Church.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Disciples of the Divine Word

My name is Chris Gidden. I am a Christian with experiences of various Christian 'paths'.

In the 50's I was confirmed by Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark, a truly courageous person whose inspiration has set me on a trail of unknown consequences. I have believed in a Comedian who has landed me in, and taken me out of many situations.

In the 80s, through a good Irish parish priest, with whom I had many interesting conversations, I was received into the Catholic Church and confirmed by Bp Roger Michael Mahony. At the turn of the century I joined the Iona Community, and recently also became a member of the Metropolitan Community Church.

I am a Christian, the longer I live, the more I see myself as a Christian, the more I speak to others about faith the more I am aware most just have a rule book and follow it without thought, contemplation or personal discernment. From conversations with Catholics I have learned that many PP's operate a 'myway' or 'noway' approach: "you align with my way of thinking or go somewhere else". Some PP's are totally obedient to the hierarchy - the organisation.

On a recent visit to my local church, a leading member of the English Catholic Hierarchy was on a pastoral visit. His attempt at a sermon with a local bent was utterly miserable to say the least. I compared it to the off the cuff reflection by the Anglican Bishop at my confirmation. This was crisp and to the point, relevant and knowledgeable. I concede that the comparison may not be magnanimous to either as both have their good and weak points. The point I make is that the Church is the people living their lives in their local circumstances, not grand and glorious buildings or institutional edifices. The latter are there to serve the People of God not to be their masters.

We are slowly realising the truth that the history of the church was written by men for men, and, as such, deals with 'the other' in passing. Women were and still are second class members, secondary to the running and decision making by dominant males. The purpose of women is to produce children and nurture them. Sometimes they may be allowed to help the men who are on the front line.

I am fortunate to have been able to live on both sides, not by choice but by the way I have been put together as a human being. I hope I can bring to the table of the understanding of both sides and show the errors of the line of thought the previous paragraph outlines.

I would add too that the Roman Catholic Church is not the only route up the mountain, nor for that matter is any other faith, division, sect or whatever. Oh dear! What is? We each have to discern for ourselves how we love God, ourselves and each other. If we do not get to the stage of love for each other as we love ourselves there is no hope for us. All of us are the disciples of God through whatever means we are given. Apostles and disciples were not merely a first century phenomenon but are those who hear the call of God and embark on God's task throughout time.

Does your sex or gender really determine what you can do for God? From the pages of the Gospels one can see that both women and men were valid in the eyes of Jesus, but the customs of the time limited the expression of that equality before God. It was a women who pointed out the mission of Jesus was to the Gentiles. The parables were certainly put in a way to be construed throughout time, through change of culture and circumstance.

In this country the pressing problem of a lack of ordained priesthood, both in Catholic and other denominations is the lack of suitable single men in sufficient quantity. The problem is getting worse over time. The ban on the use of artificial means of contraception is steadily being reinforced. One wonders whether this is to try to increase the pool of candidates for the Priesthood. That the clergy are bound to celibacy is also a limiting factor as they are not supposed to produce offspring. What a situation! What a doctrine!

I cannot accept a view that gives more rules and regulations than the succinct ones in the Gospel: Matt 22:34-40 and again in Lk 10:25-28. The judgement for each one of us is whether what we do is in agreement or not with these two statements and that judgement alone.

I am called as others to be a witness for my Lord,
- to try and bring a joining and working together for the Kingdom to come,
- to bring healing through justice and for peace to follow.
- to question diligently those who have an "I am right, I have the only right view".
- to challenge those who say only people like themselves can do this or that.

We are called to be disciples of the Divine Word. We may not have at this time what it takes "to be" but be sure we will get that which is needed. The present time is surely a good time to reflect on what we actually need, discarding that we do not need: discard with discretion though - it maybe someone else's need.

Just a few thoughts as we struggle on for the Kingdom in 2009

Heartfelt blessings to you all