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It will be dialogue, but not dialogue

Yesterday it was the Vatican’s turn to explain the Deep Rifts between the priests and the sisters. Terry Gross talked to the bishop of Toledo (Ohio, not Spain), Leonard Blair, who is the one who assessed the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and found them very very wanting.

Along with Archbishop Peter Sartain and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki, he will be working with the nuns of the LCRW to make sure the group is aligned with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

“Working with” – ha. It won’t be working with, it will be telling. He says so himself. That’s the whole point. It’s not negotiable, it’s not discussable, it’s not open, it’s not a process – it’s just telling. Blair tries to pretend that it is a “discussion” but then he also very firmly says that it’s not a discussion, it’s orders. In other words he tries to square the circle, or just have it both ways and hope no one notices.

If by dialogue, they mean that the doctrines of the church are negotiable, and that the bishops represent one position and the LCWR represents another position and somehow we find a middle ground about basic church teaching on faith and morals, then no, I don’t think that’s the dialogue the Holy See would envision. But if it’s a dialogue about how to have the LCWR really educate and help the sisters appreciate and accept church teaching and to implement it in their discussions, and try to heal some of the questions or concerns they have about these issues, that would be the dialogue.

Classic, isn’t it? If it’s a dialogue about priests telling women what to do, then that would be the dialogue. If by dialogue they mean that they get to be treated as equals with equal capabilities to think and equal access to the sources of the church’s “teachings” (whatever the hell those sources might be), then hell no, of course that’s not the dialogue the Holy See would allow for one second.

I think that the fundamental faith of the Catholic Church is that there are objective truths and there are teachings of the faith that really do come from revelation and that are interpreted authentically through the teaching office of the church, by the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and that are expected to be believed with the obedience of faith.

And those are things that are not negotiable. You can have dialogue about understanding these things, but it is faith seeking understanding. It’s not new understandings that then change the faith. And I think that’s what really gets to the heart of all that we find in this assessment, that they are promoting, unilaterally, new understandings, a new kind of theology that is not in accordance with the faith of the church.

Yes, that’s the heart of it all right. It’s a clusterfuck at the heart of the whole thing. What is that revelation? What is its source? Is it the bible? No, because you don’t find all this nonsense that the church is forcing on the nuns spelled out in the bible. So what is it then? It’s interpretation “authentically through the teaching office of the church” – but what is the source of that authenticity? What makes their “teaching office” better than any other teaching office?

Nothing. Not a damn thing. It’s just their say so, that’s all. It’s a house of cards, but the bishop defends it and imposes it as if it were not. It’s a classic example of authoritarianism that gets away with it because it’s dressed up in piety.

Comments

  1. ImaginesABeach says

    I predicted last week that the bishop would not come across as well as Sister Pat Farrell did. And, what a surpise, I was right. He came across as deeply disurbed that a woman would dare question the authority of the male hierarchy on anything. His whole position can be summed up as “if they disagree with the bishops, they are wrong and not really Catholic because tradition.”

  2. says

    I heard part of the interview, and was surprised in one aspect by the bishop’s candor. He basically said (and I paraphase largely and imperfectly), “everyone is free to explore their conscience and determine what seems right to them. If your conscience leads you to believe the church is wrong, you have the freedom to seek another church or another religion that comports with your beliefs. But you can’t take a bit of Buddhism, a bit of Protestantism, and bit of Catholicism, and call yourself a good Catholic. If you’re a Catholic, you take the whole package or leave it.”

    IOW, “if you disagree with us, there’s the door.”

  3. says

    Oh, and this:

    there are teachings of the faith . . . that are expected to be believed with the obedience of faith.

    That phrase summarizes the rot at the heart of religion – don’t think, OBEY!

  4. Cuttlefish says

    Ophelia@#2–I thought he sounded atrocious, like some sort of mild-mannered evil Bond villain, the sort that matter-of-factly discusses a plan that would harm millions.

  5. John the Drunkard says

    The ‘revelation’ is whatever the boss says this week. The bishop can discuss the nuns into submission because he is higher on the ladder. But this is a ladder of obedience, not of command.

    There are a lot of rungs missing between the least bog-priest and the most elevated Mother-whatever. At the core is an unbroken tradition of arbitrary authority which permits the abrogation of ‘eternal’ revelations at any time, without notice.

    The Assumption of the Virgin, the Immaculate conception, Limbo, dietary restrictions etc. etc. Beliefs absolutely required to avoid permanent torment in lakes of burning sulphur can be proclaimed or withdrawn at the whim of the guy with the biggest hat.

  6. busterggi says

    ” but what is the source of that authenticity? ”

    Hint – it starts with the letter p.

  7. sailor1031 says

    “…there are teachings of the faith that really do come from revelation and that are interpreted authentically through the teaching office of the church”

    Over the course of a fairly long life I’ve had a few revelations myself – that’s how I know they are NO foundation for the truth. Revelations are subjective, unprovable, unfalsifiable; There is no way a revelation can be “authenticated”. Catholic dogma is therefore merely ‘argumentum tractum ex ano’.

    All the while I was listening to this man’s cant and hypocrisy I pictured him caressing a long-haired white cat in his arms…..

  8. sailor1031 says

    You will notice that none of RCC Inc’s ‘authentic revelations’ tells us anything about mathematics, quantum physics, cosmology, medicine, geology, etc etc etc. Funny that way back then doG didn’t know any of that stuff…..

  9. Sastra says

    “But you can’t take a bit of Buddhism, a bit of Protestantism, and bit of Catholicism, and call yourself a good Catholic. If you’re a Catholic, you take the whole package or leave it.”

    In other words, no “catholic” Catholics.

    I have some sympathy with this stance. It’s a demand for consistency and clarity in definition. Catholics who reject most of the doctrine but still carry the sign for Catholicism are confusing. The smorgasbord approach to spirituality is usually designed to bolster the importance of religious identity, the membership of a church, and the value of faith. I can do without bolstering all three.

    That last one though is what really cuts into the Bishop’s firm ground. Faith inspires the faithful to be very creative in their defense of God and Church. From a faith-based point of view, the nuns can say and believe they ARE accepting Church doctrine — the pure, original Church doctrine as set forth by Jesus Christ, St. Paul, and various respected theologians and saints. And do not ignore (or deny!) the promptings of the Holy Spirit! “I’m actually more of a Catholic than you are because…(insert cherry-picked fact and piety here.)” Nobody thinks they’re a heretic: the other guy is the heretic. Theology is a game of Calvinball.

    The Bishop’s side will win because they’ve got more power. At the moment. But if it swings the other way, Catholics will still be bragging about how harmonious and historical their unchanging stance is, even while they shift. “We’ve always thought that!” And “it was our idea in the first place!”

  10. says

    Cuttlefish – that’s interesting – with me his voice cut directly across the substance. I kept feeling tempted to like him, despite the poisonous nature of what he was saying. It felt almost as if I were listening to a captured hostage trapped inside a dogma-spouting priest.

  11. says

    Sastra – and another good thing about the consistency idea is that if people followed it, the church would shrink to a small fraction of its current size and it would HAVE LESS POWER.

  12. Mike says

    I heard part of that interveiw. Terry Gross should have pushed back with her questions more, and not just let him give an answer and move on. To me the bishop sounded more condescending than anything else. “Oh Terry, you just don’t understand because your a girl, just let the men talk,” type of thing.

  13. Tony the Parkour Kat [safe and welcome at FtB] says

    You will notice that none of RCC Inc’s ‘authentic revelations’ tells us anything about mathematics, quantum physics, cosmology, medicine, geology, etc etc etc. Funny that way back then doG didn’t know any of that stuff…..

    Non Overlapping Magisteria.
    They get the moral, spiritual realm of reality.
    Science gets everything else.
    Of course their Anti-Choice position certainly pertains to the realm of Science, but what theist sees that double standard?

  14. Sili says

    But you can’t take a bit of Buddhism, a bit of Protestantism, and bit of Catholicism, and call yourself a good Catholic. If you’re a Catholic, you take the whole package or leave it.

    Jesus Fucking Christ, but I wish the Catholics would get that.

    They keep whining about them being “Not All Like That”. Newsflash: If you disagree with the Pope, you. are. not. a. Catholic. full stop.

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