The Road to Remonstrance
Frank Cocozzelli printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 01:43:33 PM EST
I recently wrote about the need for mainstream and liberal Catholics to offer remonstrance -- an earnest presentation of reasons for opposition or grievance against the reactionaries now fomenting schism within the Church.   I'd now like to further explain the need for such action.

 

Why is Catholic remonstrance necessary? Here are a few compelling reasons.

First, remonstrance is a form of dissent. Any institution, whether it be a national government or a religious hierarchy, needs to hear about potential problems before they become major problems. Listening and hearing such dissent is essential to institutional health. Arguably: No dissent, no health.

Dissent also draws attention to vital new ideas even if they were treated with scorn upon arrival. For example, a reconsideration of natural law principles in light of knowledge acquired since St. Thomas Aquinas in the thirteenth century offers strong arguments in support of artificial birth control and embryonic stem cell research while establishing homosexuality is not the aberration Church fathers believe it to be.  Even the great Aristotelian thinker, St. Thomas Aquinas was treated as a heretic and excommunicated shortly after his death. And yet his ideas came to greatly influence Catholic theology.

Remonstrance also allows more the esoteric economic agendas of the Catholic Right to be exposed.

Reactionaries now control much of the structure of Church governance.  For example, Archbishop Raymond Burke is now the current Perfect of Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, roughly the equivalent of a Vatican Supreme Court.  Additionally, Pope Benedict XVI is expanding the ranks of conservatism in the Church by reaching out to the anti-modernist, anti-Semitic Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) and attempting to bring socially conservative Anglicans into the fold.  

Although he also recently issued the economically progressive encyclical Caritas in Veritate, he is appointing and elevating economically regressive bishops and cardinals --  especially in the United States.  The very anti-health care reform Kansas City, Kansas Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, as well as Kansas City - St. Joseph Bishop Robert W. Finn, Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia and Bishop R. Walker Nickless, of the Diocese of Sioux City, Iowa immediately come to mind. Many of these church princes cavort with Catholic neocons whose political agenda for the church has more to do with comforting the wealthy and extending empire than with Jesus's concern for the oppressed, the marginalized, the vulnerable,  and the despised.

Finally, Catholicism risks transformation as an appendage not only of neconic  oligarchy but opposition to pluralism as espoused by traditionalists.  Some such as Tradition, Family, Property, are downright scornful of modern democracy. To that end, these folks often abuse the Catholic notion of obedience. In their hands it is transformed from the idea of living a life in compliance with God's will to one of blind obedience to those who abuse their hierarchical authority to violate other key components of natural law such as distributive justice. To people like these,  dissent is a dangerous thing.

It is not difficult to see where this goes. If the faithful can be bullied into religious compliance by dint of damnation anxiety, then they can be an effective tool for oligarchs who join with traditionalists in equating dissent with disobedience to God.

That is why mainstream Catholics must now offer remonstrance; and refute the substitution of Caesar for God; both in the pew and in the public square.

Next:  Catholics who exemplify remonstrance.

 




Display:
The Vatican, with nation-state status, has world-wide influence. If we want that influence to better the average person instead of neocon oligarchs, then there is no choice but to offer remonstrance.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 01:53:03 PM EST

Frank, though I am not a Catholic, I enjoy your thoughtful pieces here regarding the struggle amongst Catholics for control of their Church.  I did have a small (admittedly somewhat) off-topic) question regarding your comment above.  Should the Vatican be a "nation-state," with all the rights and privileges that guarantees?  Should the US have an ambassador to the Vatican, who always seems to be a conservative Catholic?  Indulge me with your thoughts if you have the time.

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"I believe in a President whose views on religion are his own private affair" - JFK, Address to the Greater Houston Ministerial Association
by hardindr on Thu Jan 28, 2010 at 03:18:44 PM EST
As always, Ms. Hughes provided some very good historical background -- bravo Kathy!

As for me, I am not so concerned as whether or not the Vatican has nation-state status or not; I just want Catholics to be vigilant so as not to let that influence fall into the wrong hands -- Catholic neocons who I suspect are far more of the mindset of a Irving Kristol, than as that of a religious person -- seeing the Church as a mere political tool, or at least to reshape it into an institution that seemingly blesses laissez-faire economics, nationalism and empire.

by Frank Cocozzelli on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 01:00:11 PM EST
Parent



Frank-good posting as always. I will defer to you on the question of whether the Vatican should be a city state, but wanted to detail briefly why it is one. The Vatican's current status as a city-state is a result of the Vatican's concordat with the Italian state in 1929, when Benito Mussolini was dictator of Italy. Before 1870, the Papacy had governed a sizable amount of territory in what is now Central Italy, including Rome and the regions surrounding it. Pius IX was miffed when the newly created Kingdom of Italy incorporated the Papal states into its territory, and until 1929, various popes refused to acknowledge the incorporation of the Papal States into Italy or to recognize the creation of the Kingdom of Italy. This was the origin of the phrase that the popes from 1870 to 1929 were said to have "sulked in the Vatican." Mussolini's concordat with the Vatican recognized it as a city-state, recognized the Papacy's rights to certain religious and diplomatic privileges, and in return, the Vatican acknowledged the existence of the unified state of Italy.

David I. Kertzer has written some good books about the history of the papacy and its (poor) relations with the Jewish community of Rome in the 19th century. Kertzer notes that the residents of the Papal States almost universally welcomed the unification of the Papal States into Italy. The only ones who didn't like it were the Pope and his government, and the papal nobility, known as the Neri.

by khughes1963 on Fri Jan 29, 2010 at 01:06:50 PM EST


I have a question and I wonder if anyone can answer for me.

I understand in a general way the idea that the traditional tridentine mass is making a comeback. I've read up a bit about it to try to understand exactly what its about. It still includes, as I understand it, a prayer to convert the Jews. It used to include the word 'perfidious' to describe the Jews. So the mass is back. Has that word been restored? Is there such a thing as the 'official' text in english of the tridentine mass that one can find somewhere and read?

thanks.

by marktypos on Sun Jan 31, 2010 at 01:30:54 PM EST

I have not looked for one, but I am certain there is a version with translation available online. Sometimes you can also find copies of pre-Vatican II missals at thrift stores. One of the controversies now is that bishops in both English and non-English-speaking countries are being pressed to adopt Mass translations that change the language we have used for the last 45 years and make it more slavishly resemble the original Latin. The bishops in South Africa adopted the translation early and it didn't go over well among lay Catholics. I don't like what I've heard of it, but the American bishops will probably adopt it despite pushback from some bishops and priests.

by khughes1963 on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 06:55:08 AM EST
Parent

Latin Masses are offered in every diocese, although these tend to be limited to one or few parishes. In some areas, like Cincinnati, they also compete with Latin Masses offered by breakaway churches run by groups like the Societies of St. Pius X and St. Pius V. The prayer Benedict XVI drafted doesn't use the word "perfidious," which was last used in 1959, but it is controversial because it prays for Jews' conversion to Christianity. Personally, I don't care for that mindset. The original prayer was removed from the liturgy in 1959 after John XXIII ordered it. Would that we had another John XXIII today!

by khughes1963 on Mon Feb 01, 2010 at 07:01:32 AM EST
Parent


I have been a Catholic for the last 53 of my 55 years.
For the last 2 years,  I have seriously questioned my support of the Catholic church.
I cannot support the conservative branch that I feel is destroying the Church.
It started with the cover up of all the sexual abuse the intolerance of gays.
It continues with the intolerance of woman playing any advance role in the Church.

I'm told by my friends to stay in the church and fight the good fight, but I  am not comfortable with a church that does not value women. And is a very comfortable with the religious right. I have taken a break from being Catholic.

by mgardener on Thu Mar 11, 2010 at 08:22:27 AM EST



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