BY MICHAEL MULLINS
Devett O’Brien has identified clericalism as a significant discussion point at the Synod currently taking place in Rome. He is blogging on behalf of the International Young Catholic Students, of which he is Secretary General. He attended Saturday’s meeting of journalists with Cardinal George Pell, who made some surprising comments about what he called the “problem” of clericalism.
Almost all leaders of Catholic hospitals are now lay, most of our School Principals are lay people ... We take it for granted now that they’re almost all lay and many are women. I hope [clericalism] is not too much of a problem in Australia... I know in other parts of the Catholic world they take a different view and reserve more of those roles for priests.
Cardinal Pell said lay Catholics need to take a leading role in the New Evangelisation because its challenge is mainly in the secular sphere. O’Brien comments that bishops and priests need to
place their trust in the communities of young people who are evangelising their world”
He titles an earlier post “Clericalism the Greatest Obstacle to New Evangelisation”.
During their most recent free discussion time the Synod of Bishops began discussion of what potential obstacles lay in the path of the New Evangelisation. The concern that topped a list may be seen by many as an unexpected acknowledgement: Clericalism. In a refreshing sign there was widespread agreement on the emerging theme that “rank and status too often prevent the message being heard.
However O’Brien notes that this view is not unanimous.
Some observers pointed out that the group conspicuously absent from this consensus about the danger of Clericalism was the Bishops from North America. This assumes a particular importance given the prominence of American Bishops in this Synod, especially Cardinal Wuerl and Cardinal Dolan.
Sandro Magister’s blog contains an unsigned post on Synod discussion of problems associated with Muslims converting to Christianity. The Bishop of Constantine, Paul Desfarges Constantine said:
These new disciples are sometimes rejected by their own family or must be very discrete.
Archbishop Joseph Absi, auxiliary bishop in Damascus, said:
Muslims do not see the difference between Christians and Westerners, because they do not distinguish, themselves, between what is religious and what is political and social.
Describing conversion from Islam as a taboo subject, Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, president of the pontifical council for interreligious dialogue, said:
No Muslim [living in a Muslim country] accepts that the freedom to change religion, or to choose it, should be inscribed in a legal text. ... The right to change religions has, on the other hand, been tranquilly incorporated into the world of Christian tradition. With sometimes surprising results, like the spike in conversions to Islam that is being seen in Haiti.
Meanwhile John Allen speaks about cultural rather than religious difference, with a quote from Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, who used his voice at the Synod to urge flexibility in the translation of liturgical texts, which he called “subsidiarity”.
“And with your spirit" in the new translation ... as translated into his local language comes out as "roh," which often connotes an evil spirit. ... A literal translation of “et cum spiritu tuo” means some communities find themselves saying, “With your evil spirit!”
Divine Wedgie blogs on what he sees as an “over-reliance on social networking as a means of evangelisation” which he calls a
commodification of the Gospel, in the sense that the Gospel is spread and Justice effected with a click of a "like" or "+1" button.
He argues that the pre-formatting of the message undermines the sacramentality of the Church.
The Church is meant to be a Sacrament, an embodied manifestation of a transcendent reality that, by virtue of its transcendence, escapes full articulation. ... To focus on the Gospel as an articulated message is to bypass the communication of another important aspect of the Gospel, that sacramental transcorporeal data that escapes precognition.”
Bad Catholic blogs on Andy Warhol, who was in fact a very good Catholic. The openly, and arguably proudly, gay Warhol remained celibate and a self-declared virgin.
He wore a cross on a chain around his neck, carried with him a missal and a rosary, and volunteered at the soup kitchen at the Church of Heavenly Rest in New York. He went to Mass — often to daily Mass. ... The Church Andy Warhol love[d] did not and does not teach that it is a sin to be gay, to carry with oneself same-sex attraction, [but] that homosexual actions are detrimental to the human person, and thus sinful... At the same time intentionally celibate seems to represent a certain peace about the man, an intellectual separation of the sinless same-sex attraction and the sinful homosexual action, and an effort at communion with the teachings of the Catholic Church.
At The Tablet, Abigail Frymann blogs about Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Berlin, who rejected the Respect Award for which he was nominated by the Alliance Against Homophobia. The said his gesture of meeting with the Association of Gays and Lesbians “broke the tention between his church and gays and lesbians”. Fryman quotes the reaction of a colleague of hers to Woelki’s rejection of the honour:
A colleague instantly said: 'I wondered who has rung him up?' Indeed, the cardinal said that as a Catholic Christian, respect for all human beings was a matter of course and he did not want to be rewarded for something that was a matter of course.”
Finally, welcome back to Country Priest after a six week blogging hiatus. There’s little doubt that his explanation for the absence would be contested by his readers:
I haven’t been blogging because I have been devoting the little time I can spare online to several more important web projects. They are more important because they are more apostolic than this blog and less vainglorious than this blog.
Michael Mullins, founding editor of CathNews, compiles this 'Blog Watcher' column every week.
Disclaimer: CathBlog is an extension of CathNews story feedback. It is intended to promote discussion and debate among the subscribers to CathNews and the readers of the website. The opinions expressed in CathBlog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the members of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference or of Church Resources.