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The other side of the Catholic church

The other side of the Catholic church

Former Roman Catholic priest, Matthew Fox, offers this perspective the current state of affairs in the in the Roman Catholic Church:

The other side of the Catholic tradition

By Matthew Fox in the Washington Post

People who came of age in the past 40 years have known only one version of the Roman Catholic Church—a version of an iron-fisted ideology that first John Paul II and then Benedict XVI have enforced in the process of condemning condoms, birth control, liberation theology, creation spirituality, women, gays, the “secular world” and much more. World-over the hierarchy are being criticized for coddling pedophile priests and bishops while denouncing theologians and others who bring ideas to an age-old tradition.

All these thoughts and more emerged last weekend at an event in Detroit sponsored by progressive Catholic groups networking as the “American Catholic Council.” So opposed to the event was Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, that the priest who was to lead the final Mass was told the day before that if he did so he would be laicized. At the last minute a Canadian priest was shipped in to lead the Mass for the American Catholic Council of 2000 participants including representatives from similar groups in Europe and Australia.

. . .

Pope John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council of the early 1960’s has been called the “greatest religious event of the twentieth century.” Sadly, the papacy of John Paul II turned its back on its principles, including the courageous response of Latin American Liberation Theology that supported the poor and oppressed in direct expression of Gospel values. Further, contrary to the spirit and law of Vatican II, a modern day Inquisition was launched with Cardinal Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) as chief inquisitor. One can argue that in squelching the Vatican Council, the Vatican has been in schism for 40 years since traditionally Councils trump popes, popes don’t trump Councils.

Can the Catholic Church resurrect from its self-dug grave and experience another renaissance in giving great souls and ideas to the world?


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To clarify, I meant “invited to receive RC communion”, above. As a non-RC.

JC Fisher


I was born in the early 1960s, rick, so that’s not the period I’m speaking of.

I’m primarily talking about a period of the late 70s to the mid 90s (I recall being invited by RC priests—who KNEW I wasn’t RC—several times in the mid-90s. And not in a situation of pastoral emergency either)

I wish you a blessed Trinity Sunday, rick, too. “I bind unto myself today…”

JC Fisher

rick allen

JCF, I have no doubt that many Catholics were extremely upset that the reform of Vatican II didn’t go as far as they had hoped (just as many were extremely upset that it went as far as it did).

I think familiarity has made people forget just how different many things are now. Myself, I customarily attend a Spanish mariachi/ranchero mass in a post-VatII in-the-round sanctuary. I began in a parish featuring 18th century polyphonic masses, then went to one with a one-guitar folk mass, and have experienced just about everything in between. Even the recent, much ballyhooed liberalized permission for the old mass, and the development of an Anglican rite for a handful of small parishes, continue the trend toward greater liturgical diversity.

There is a limit to those developments, of course, and perhaps Fr. Fox’s Cosmic Masses display the consequence of ignoring those limits. Every reform, if it is not to devour itself, must have core principles whose bounds it must not exceed.

As to eucharistic sharing, the Degree on Ecumencism, Unitatis Redintegratio, was fairly clear that common worship was a goal, conditioned on actual unity of faith, and not to be used as a way to falsely imply that such unity already existed. After the Council there was much boundary-pushing in that respect, and no, I have no right to say to anyone that their worship wasn’t valid, only that it violated the principles of Catholic ecumenicism set out in Vatican II. One still hopes for ecumenical rapproachment, but, honestly, in the early 1960’s, the Catholic and Episcopal Churches were much closer, theologically, than they are now. One can blame it our our being so hidebound, or on your being so progressive, but we seem to be definitely diverging.

In any case, have a good weekend, and a happy Trinity Sunday.


And if Vatican II was betrayed, it wasn’t by JP II, but by the bishops under Paul VI.

Oh, those wicked, wicked bishops! How dare they interpret Vatican II—as if they were there or sumthin!


JC Fisher

rick, I wasn’t specifically sexual ethics…but now that you mention it, hopes were raised (not just by crazy laypeople, but at high levels) in the VaticanII Church, re contraception, that were ripped away by Humanae Vitae. [The first sign that Vatican patriarchy, like a B-Movie Monster, was coming back to wreak further destruction]

Rather, I was speaking more about the worship life of the church. Just as an ecumenical visitor, these are things I experienced COMMONLY in the VaticanII Church in the 70s, 80s and early 90s: folk/Campesino/jazz masses, explicitly OPEN communion, ecumenical co-consecration at the mass, women preaching, communicants serving the elements to each other (passed around a circle). [Admittedly, mainly in the Crazy California of my youth…but later on the East coast and in the Midwest].

If these experience left a strong impression on *me* (we’re talking about—oh, a few dozens of experiencing worship w/ RCs, in their churches?), how much more so faithful Roman Catholics? What do you say to these Roman Catholics, rick? “Oh, for those decades—perhaps up till 2011—you were just Doing It Wrong?” Do you really think that will take their PAIN away?

C. Wingate

My eyes automatically head for the ceiling whenever I see that Fox has let loose another anti-papal denunciad, and as usual he largely misses the point. Mystics like Hildegard, Eckhart, and Chardin are largely irrelevant to the great mass of Catholics, not because they are or are not heretical, but because they don’t have time for that stuff. And if Vatican II was betrayed, it wasn’t by JP II, but by the bishops under Paul VI. Finally, surely it is a revelation of Fox’s old lefty heart that he talk about liberation theology and completely ignores the church’s heavy involvement in the Solidarity movement in Poland.

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