Recently I learned that, a few years back, a friend of mine who has taught for many years at a catholic university in Europe was accused of heresy. The way it happened was some of his personal emails were anonymously sent to a “prominent” member of the american hierarchy by a “concerned and loyal Catholic.” In those private and personal emails my friend had expressed support for women’s ordination, etc., etc. The “prominent” hierarch proceeded to generate significant energy among his peers in an unsuccessful attempt to have my friend removed from his post at the university. Members of the european hierarchy intervened, and my friend was able to retain his teaching position.
A number of thoughts here. First of all, it must have taken a tremendous amount of courage for the anonymous person to submit anonymously my friend’s private and personal emails. It seems to me there is an integrity issue here. Granted that anything on the internet is fair game, someone on his mailing list is not deserving of trust. I don’t know if he ever learned who this “concerned and loyal catholic” is. Obviously the moral implications of the Sixth Amendment to the US Constitution do not apply to the inner workings of the Catholic Church and the morals of the thought police.
What is a “concerned and loyal Catholic”? Concerned about what? Loyal to what or to whom? A code of conduct, a list of questions, answers, and approved language? A relationship with Christ and all it entails? I do not want to be a “concerned and loyal Catholic” as understood by that anonymous person of courage.
Then there is the integrity issue of the “prominent” hierarch to act on an anonymous tip. It must have been the appropriate course of action, because not long after the incident he did get his red hat.
It seems, too, that there is a concerted effort among what passes in the church as “leadership” to control what folks think. I find it disturbing that so many buy into this idea, and willingly give their thinking processes over to the hierarchy. But, then, I have been told that I am pretty rabid in my thoughts and my choosing to retain my own right to think, and that I look down the alley with my own set of lights. Fine by me.
If my friend was perceived as a heretic, what does that make me? I firmly believe the basic tenets of the Catholic Church. However, I am in favor of optional celibacy. I am in favor of women’s ordination. I am in favor of same sex marriage. While the church can make whatever rules it wishes for its members (an internal issue that the membership has to deal with), I am against the Catholic Church imposing its will and values on the citizenry at large through getting laws passed and amending constitutions. I resent the hierarchy declaring soldiers that I have served with to be intrinsically disordered. I am in favor of church run institutions obeying the HHS insurance mandate. I am a member of Future Church and serve on their board for optional celibacy. I am against members of the hierarchy using bullying tactics on folks who disagree with some hierarchs’ courses of action and are following their conscience. If the activities of the hierarchy continue as they are, I am in favor of the church losing its tax exempt status. I am against the church “leadership” being unaccountable to the folks. I do not believe the Catholic Church is the only way for everybody always and everywhere. I have met too many wonderful folks from other and not traditions. No on has a monopoly on God. Any claim that a given tradition is the only true one reflects, in my opinion, phenomenal hubris. I think “leadership” has long since stopped believing its mission is to serve the folks, and instead has come to believe its mission is to make the folks serve “leadership’s” insatiable need for power and control. I am against folks being threatened by the hierarchy for speaking out their on personal views much as I am doing now. In many ways I see the hierarchy as an embarrassing anachronism out of touch with the everyday lives of the folks they claim to lead. I am not imposing my views on anyone, and I resent anyone trying to impose their views on me.
In the matter of free speech and freedom of expression, it is interesting to note that the right to freedom of expression is recognized as a basic human right under Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, not to mention the First Amendment to the US Constitution. Perhaps the Catholic Church hans’t gotten this far yet. But, it seems that for a few years following Vatican II there was recognition of these values, but that was then, and there sure isn’t now.
If I had a choice to have my picture taken with either His Prominence or with my friend, the choice would not even be close. Having my picture taken with my friend would be a privilege. Having it taken with His Prominence would be an embarrassment.
Just sayin . . .