Talking Past

While I no longer comment on other sites, I do follow the occasional thread of interest. dotCommonweal has close to forty comments following Grant Gallicho’s piece on Cardinal O’Brien.

I was struck by this exchange today between Bernard Dauenhauer and George D. First Mr Dauenhauer:

Please let me register strong disagreement with the tone and tenor of the remarks of (people listed). They recall people like Savonarola. They are right, of course, to condemn the sexual misconduct. But their criticisms of Pope Francis, handling of these issues is, and I mean this, merciless.

Criticisms are harsh. I am not sure about merciless.

I have been criticized on this site and off for my tone toward bishops. I have a bit of history I am not at liberty to reveal. At least since 2001, I have made myself available to a small number of victims, as circumstances in ministry have presented themselves. I can reveal that these people have been victims of both clergy sexual misconduct as well as administrative misconduct of bishops. I have been the person in church ministry that was engaged in conversations with people who believe they have been morally abandoned by the Church. I have listened to people who have lost loved ones to what they believe is a premature and untimely death because of the aftermath of abuse and cover-up. I have been the RCIA coordinator or other pastoral minister watching potential Catholics walk away. And I have been questioned by people within and outside of the Church, asking me how I can continue in support of the institution by my role as a minister and as an employee. I don’t always have the answers to those questions.

Close readers of this site also know that the young miss was spared a more serious brush with an abuser which, possibly, harmed people that she knew.

Where Mr Dauenhauer expresses strong disagreement, I find myself with a degree of understanding.

It is  fortunate for the Church that these people are not in positions of authority that would allow them to vent their spleen.

I am not sure of this. People in positions of authority are placed to have meetings with bishops, and can offer strong comment in circumstances that do not publicly undermine authority. Does the emperor deserve to be told about his wardrobe? Or is it a mercy to hold one’s tongue and shake one’s head?

The biblical texts that the Church presents to us for reflection this Lent certainly do not promote the sort of revenge the aforesaid  people insist upon. Their response to the sexual misdeeds is akin to a call for a punishment of inprisonment for life without the possibility of parole. The pope has compared such sentence with a kind of death penalty. I agree with him. Room for rehabilitation may never be wholly closed off.

To this statement, I thought George D had an important insight:

Then Rome should model appropriate forms of rehabiliation. For example, they could enact restorative justice practices. That would mean that all parties, victims, those immediately affected, perpetrators, Bishops and Cardinals together.  No cameras or records in the room – no recording of “proceeedings”. Just a quiet place to talk in a circle where all could talk about the impact on them. It would be a sacred circle only for those immediately involved and affected. First Nation communities use it but it is becoming popular all over.

I think something like this is needed. It strikes me as harmonious with the principles of Ignatian discernment. And if someone, somehow, could get the message to Pope Francis, I suspect he would take notice.

It would mean leaders being vulnerable but we are all the people of God, right?

What I see happening is “them” over here going through whatever internal process is necessary, and the other “them” over here going through whatever process they feel is necessary. But nobody is talking to each other! It is like a huge rupture in a family (and our family to boot!!!) and it is being treated instead like an institution complete with policy/canonical stipulations, processes, etc.

We need to find another language as this is just not working. Everyone is talking past each other and the affected people are not talking TO each other.

This seems like an accurate diagnosis to me. Of necessity, victims have been pushed back on their heels. It was inevitable, not to mention predictable, that the intimidated and abused side would seek out and find allies. Many of these allies are tough-talking, and when things get to court, mercy is out the window and the adversarial nature of modern society takes center stage.

One way the current methods are not working is that the O’Brien settlement raises suspicions about his reception of “mercy.” Is it a cheap mercy? Does it ensure his silence on other scandals–that seems to be a favorite on a few web pages the past few days.

I think it is indeed in the hands of Rome and the bishops. People offer harsh language when they do not believe they are being heard. If nobody’s listening, it seems natural and logical to raise one’s voice. When people yell, it is also natural and logical to retreat and withdraw so one cannot hear. That’s the environment in which concerned Catholics find themselves these days.

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How Much Use for the 1998 Missal?

I noticed on PrayTell some discussion about the 1998 Sacramentary centering on how much it gets used. I think some churchfolk would be surprised at how much it is utilized.

As a resource containing prayers, I will freely admit I’ve used it now and then for years. It’s more or less like any other prayer book published, and probably a bit better than prayers I might compose myself.

I’ve used some of the Advent and Lent collects for communal Penance liturgies. Likewise the occasional Sunday prayer for the occasional small group prayer service. It’s a good resource. My thinking is that like a lot of books on my shelf, it’s not approved for use at Mass, but there seems to be nothing wrong with using it for other occasions.

How about any of you in the readership? Getting any use out of the MR2 in English? Or another language?

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Swans Soar Late

swan-in-attack-mode-2I caught a full Swansea Saturday match in real time for the few times–often I’ll have church duties on a Saturday.

I thought losing to Aston Villa was a real prospect, given the way that team has played under new management. But the Swans held firm and picked up a late goal.

I wonder if they will have a training tour of the US again this summer. I wonder if I’ll be living somewhere near to where they will make an appearance.


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Reflecting on the Liturgy

New reader Karen DiNoto made a query I’d like to draw out and offer some extended commentary.

I am a new catechist and going to be doing the dismissal and lesson this week and need some thought provoking questions on how they felt during and after the scrutinies. Any suggestions?

I offer a disclaimer first: I am not a catechist by vocation. I would have two hopes at this stage of the catechumenate year. First, that the liturgies would be good in the sense of having the richness of music, Scripture, homily, and even environment to reflect upon. Second, that the elect have, by now, been formed to look at liturgy with an attitude of reflection.

By the time the elect have reached the fifth Sunday of Lent, they should be well into a period of scrutiny and reflection. A good catechist would remind the elect to look and listen for items that will strike them during the liturgy. It can be a matter of feelings–“I felt relief, forgiveness, affirmation …” or it can be insights–“I noticed Jesus did this, I heard in the song this …”. I would treat the beginning of the dismissal period as a second go through the Liturgy of the Word, allowing the elect to relive the experience and reflect on it.

As a dismissal leader, I would mostly let the insights of the people guide the time together. I would be prepared to comment on one or two aspects if the elect didn’t raise the points. Those would be the purpose of the scrutinies, and I’d ask what was uncovered and healed, what was brought out and strengthened.

By this time of Lent, the experience of the forty days as a retreat should be well-established. I’d treat the liturgy as an experience upon which to reflect.


Posted in Liturgy, spirituality | 1 Comment

DPPL 253: Great Dignity and Religious Sensibility

STA altar at night smallThe Church gives us three important cautions, lest all you-know-what should break loose.

253. Every stage of the rite of obsequies should be conducted with the greatest dignity and religious sensibility. Hence, it is necessary for:

  • the body of the deceased, which was the Temple of the Holy Spirit, to be treated with the utmost respect;
  • funeral furnishings should be decorous and free of all ostentation;
  • the liturgical signs, the cross, the paschal candle, the holy water and the incense, should all be used with the utmost propriety.

Propriety does not mean stinginess. Appropriate use of liturgical symbols is always generous, free, and indicative of God’s boundless generosity and mercy.

Remember to consult the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy online at the Vatican site.

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Svalbard Gets Totality

If I remember my geography right, Svalbard has a few thousand people living on its islands. Those inhabitants, plus some astronomical thrill-seekers got to see the year’s main total solar eclipse earlier today.

For Americans, the big one is still a bit more than two years away. And less than seven years after that, citizens of western Kentucky and southeastern Missouri will get their second experience of the moon totally blocking the sun. I’ve been waiting a long time to get my first.

There was this thrilling experience when I lived in Michigan. And when I was a boy, Carly Simon captured the essence of the excitement here. My mom shut the shades and kept my siblings away from the windows where outside, we were getting noticeable darkening at 89% of the sun blocked out. I don’t think I helped when I commented that the sun was nine times safer because the moon was absorbing all the harmful radiation that would damage earthling eyes in our neighborhood.

Posted in Astronomy, Other Places | 1 Comment

How Long Does Discernment Take?

Liam broke the news here a little while ago. The major Catholic internet news outlets are already on it.

The Holy Father has accepted the resignation of the rights and privileges of a cardinal … presented by His Eminence Cardinal Keith Michael Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop Emeritus of Saint Andrews and Edinburgh, after a long period of prayer.

cardinal dedecusKeith O’Brien, you will recall, was doused in scandal near the very end of Pope Benedict’s term, and declined to participate in the 2013 conclave after the outrage broke. So it has been a “long period” of prayer indeed. What I haven’t seen among the journalists or commentators yet is the question, “Why so long?”

For a major life initiative, the Jesuits would suggest thirty days. Many Catholics observe forty-plus-a-few days of Lent for an annual taking-stock. After two years, the archbishop emeritus can wear red hat and cape around the house, but that’s it. This discernment, which didn’t change very much at all, took hundreds of days?

I think there is blood lust in the Church the man be made an object lesson, but perhaps the Pope Francis way is better. The title and the pomp are really meaningless, and the retired prelate and the occasional houseguest are the only ones who will notice them. I imagine that will be a rather empty experience as the years roll on.

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