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25 January 2009 @ 06:29 am
Excommunicate on....excommunicate off.  
Apparently, a Catholic priest can be forgiven for insensitivity to outright genocide more readily than for supporting women's ordination, freedom of reproductive choice, same-sex marriage or the existence of (non-molesting and inoffensive) gay clergy....

Pope Reinstates Four Excommunicated Bishops

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI, reaching out to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church, revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict's four-year-old papacy has increasingly moved in line with traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.

A theologian who has grappled with the church's diminished status in a secular world, Benedict has sought to foster a more ardent, if smaller, church over one with looser faith.

But while the revocation may heal one internal rift, it may also open a broader wound, alienating the church's more liberal adherents and jeoparding 50 years of Vatican efforts to ease tensions with Jewish groups.

Among the men reinstated Saturday was Richard Williamson, a British-born cleric who in an interview last week said he did not believe that six million Jews died in the Nazi gas chambers. He has also given interviews saying that the United States government staged the Sept. 11 attacks as a pretext to invade Afghanistan.

The four reinstated men are members of the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by a French archbishop, Marcel Lefebvre, in 1970 as a protest against the modernizing reforms of the Second Vatican Council, also called Vatican II. Archbishop Lefebvre made the men bishops in unsanctioned consecrations in Switzerland in 1988, prompting the immediate excommunication of all five by Pope John Paul II.

Later that year, Benedict, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, sought to regularize the church's relationship with the society. And as pope, he has made reinstating the Lefebvrists an important personal cause.

Indeed, even though the Society has given no public signs that it would reverse its rejection of Vatican II, one Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity on Saturday because talks were continuing, said that the Vatican was willing to discuss making the group a personal prelature. Pope John Paul II did the same with another conservative group, Opus Dei.

In a public statement Saturday, the Vatican said that the pope would reconsider whether to formally affirm the four men as full bishops, but it referred to the men by that title. It said talks would seek to resolve the "open questions" in the church's relationship with the society.

In recent years, Benedict has made other concessions to the followers of Archbishop Lefebvre, who died in 1991. The overtures including allowing the broader recitation of the Latin Mass, which was made optional in the 1960s and includes a Good Friday prayer calling for the conversion of Jews [....].

full NYTimes article here]

Tell me again, in case it makes some sense I'm not seeing....why do humanistic and socially-intelligent people stay with the Roman Catholic Church (or any cultural-conservative establishment) and support it with their tithing and numbers, when these are the edicts and moral priorities issued from the top of the pyramid (and I don't mean God)? Shouldn't they more logically be splintering off, or seeking out the religious version of, well...Canada? If it's about the music and the artwork and the architecture of the Vatican and the cathedrals, I can certainly see not wanting to leave all that behind, and I know there's a good deal of cultural entwinement -- but it's certainly not the only access-route to God, so to speak. I should think that it'd be a relief to be able to separate oneself from the weight of that religious history, and no longer have to apologize and rationalize the contradictions of one's faith.

Though of course, the greater largescale question is whether a smaller-but-more-ardent Church, as Benedict prefers, would be focused enough by its loss of liberal balance to start being (again) a serious hazard to the progress of civilization...and what is it worth to prevent that, if so?
Current Music: If I had it, maybe the soundtrack to The Da Vinci Code...
massagedivamassagediva on January 26th, 2009 03:06 am (UTC)
I really wish I had an answer for you.
Sometimes people are stupid on a large scale.
Mai: Light-rainlodrelhai on February 27th, 2009 11:13 pm (UTC)
There are a lot of reasons, but in the end it comes down to one thing: faith. When you believe - really, truly believe - that God's law is immutable, that there is an eternity to spend in either paradise or hell and the only passage to the former is through the Church, that life is fleeting and it's hardships inconsequential in comparison... well, the small failings of divinely-appointed leaders are really of no consequence. Because the only real thing that matters is they ARE divinely appointed, even though they're still human, and they are part of the same fellowship.

That fellowship is a bond which reaches deeper than almost anything, sometimes deeper than blood. And it's not something that can be explained in a sensible way. You mentioned it's not the only access route to God - but for so many, that's exactly what it is, and if not the only then at least the best, the most true. I'm Protestant rather than Catholic, and honestly I'm not very happy with those who represent themselves as my leaders either. But leaving the church, even to find some other path... that's not abandoning my church leadership, that's abandoning God, turning my back on the path He gave me. Maybe I won't always see it that way, and maybe He'd accept me regardless of which route to Him I took... but I wouldn't. I couldn't, not at this point in my life. So I make my protests where I can, I pray for my leadership, and when compassion and reason fail I give it to God and move on. Because even that frustration and sorrow is better than a life without my faith.