The Bishops We Need

It’s one thing to oppose political policies like abortion and stem cell research: it’s quite another to clothe that opposition … Continued

It’s one thing to oppose political policies like abortion and stem cell research: it’s quite another to clothe that opposition with hateful attacks on individuals. But that’s what seems to be going on in the right-wing corner of the U.S. Church. I think the stridency reflects the ongoing struggle to “rebrand” Catholicism and Father Tom Reese has recently fleshed out some of the issues on his website. Theology aside, lay persons in Catholic America should consider this a testing of leadership styles.

Leadership is often a matter of perception. After all, a military general — even a brilliant one– can’t win the battle unless troops follow him into battle. Catholic America is familiar with how secular politics personalizes leadership and how electioneering appeals are salted with words like “stay the course” or “change for a new direction.” It should not surprise anyone, therefore, that social perceptions about leadership seep into the way pastors and bishops govern and how their governance is understood.

I’m old enough to remember the “two Johns” in Catholic America during the 1960s. Both President John F. Kennedy and Blessed Pope John XXIII were seen as leaders moving a new direction. During the 1980s, it was hard to tell which conservative had the more charismatic personality: Ronald Reagan or Pope John Paul II. But they walked in the same directions. Now in 2009, both Church and politics are undergoing a sea-shift in governance style.

Appearances matter. For instance, take away the charismatic dimension of political conservatism and sunny movie-star Reaganism becomes Darth Vader-esque Cheneyism. I am not alone in thinking that bishops who rule by threat and condemnation erode their pastoral effectiveness. Just as general public has turned off the old Republican Party styles, much of Catholic America isn’t listening to the segment of bishops who are following the old playbook. Their stridency lacks a Christ-like message.

All of this is a shame because the challenges facing Catholic America are huge. Since the 1960s, much of the Euro-American Catholic population has moved to the suburbs Most dioceses face the dual need to build new parishes in the suburbs while simultaneously closing down old ones in urban centers. Moreover there are few religious women left who define their vocations as a cheap labor force in the Catholic schools.

The situation for Catholic institutions holds similarities to the collapse of General Motors or to the financial meltdown of the Great Recession. The faithful are divided into two sociologically defined groups: the suburbs with a decreasing number of Euro-American Catholics and the cities growing with Latino Catholics. The solution can’t be to “burn the candle at both ends” because that would fail to service adequately both city and suburb. But neither ought the choice be to abandon one and choose the other. Exclusion of any part of the Catholic population, I think, leads to problems like those of today’s Republican Party which is all but dead on the two coasts where most Catholics live.

What leadership style a bishop chooses is crucial for addressing the crisis and making the necessary radical policy shifts. Some prelates seem to think they can close parishes, schools and hospitals searching only for the bottom line and without consideration of the laity’s faith. To continue the political style comparison, a bishop ill-serves his flock by adopting the leadership style of Donald Rumsfeld used in misconducting the Iraq War. A “lean” Catholic Church with heavy procurement based on old strategies and one that ignores the basic needs of the foot soldiers or that goes against the advice of the field commanders is doomed to failure.

I am confident that the U.S. Catholic Church will catch up with the need for change in the style of episcopal leadership. The new approach was installed with Archbishop Dolan in New York. His personality suggests a chat over a hamburger and a cold beer rather than a missive dripping with vitriol and threats to deny communion.

Meantime, we must regret the damage done by prelates making headlines that hinder Catholicism’s mission. We don’t need Catholic versions of Rush Limbaugh and Dick Cheney dividing us; we need bishops who bring us together.

About

Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo Anthony M. Stevens-Arroyo is Professor Emeritus of Puerto Rican and Latino Studies at Brooklyn College and Distinguished Scholar of the City University of New York.
  • MikeL4

    Ah Stevens-Arroyo. You clearly detest it when the Bishops stand up and tell you, that you are wrong. You clearly don’t like Archbishop Burke pointing out your sin of cooperation in the evil of supporting abortion. So you say they are doing “damage” for telling people what they do is wrong and that they must repent. I guess Jesus was doing “damage” for telling us we must repent. The Bishops of the Church are not Limbaugh or Cheney. They are servants of God. They do not serve political parties, such as yourself, with their statements.

  • CCNL

    oops, make that “What we need are bishops who tell the truth- these “new-wave” bishops should start by having the following read at all Sunday Masses:

  • Flavius3

    Mr. Stephens-Arroyo, And LK 12:51: “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”

  • ThomasBaum

    Isn’t part of the mission that Jesus sent us on to “Proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth”?Gospel means “Good News” and as the angels said at Jesus’s birth, “This is ‘Good News’ for ALL”, they did NOT say that this is ‘good enough news’ for some.Maybe the time has come to “Proclaim the Good News” and leave politics to the politicians.The clergy are called to feed the laity not to starve the laity if the laity does not follow them.God feeds us in many ways and one of the ways is with His Body and Blood in the Eucharist, even tho I do not know exactly how He does this, I do know that the Eucharist is Jesus.Rather than deciding if another should or shouldn’t be allowed to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, has any of the “deciders” considered that God is God, not them?We all answer for our actions and the motives for our actions. Unless someone truly knows someone else’s heart, how can they decide to withhold God from that person? We seem to be very good at categorizing sin as to the severity of that sin whereas sin is sin.Does anyone remember the “He who is without sin cast the first stone”? Something to think about, “He who is without sin can decide at what “severity” of sin should the Body and Blood of Jesus, which God freely gave to us even before the cross, be withheld from a fellow human being”.We sure do seem to like to judge others, maybe if we judge anyone, it should be ourself.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • MikeL4

    “Unless someone truly knows someone else’s heart, how can they decide to withhold God from that person?” The clergy of the Church have the obligation to guard the sanctity of the sacrament from those who would take it unworthily. Whose sin is so public as to cause scandal in the Church. Those “Catholic” politicians who jealously guard the “right” to kill unborn human beings are such that are committing such a public sin. The clergy must address those men and women directly, or they become complicit in their evil by their silence.

  • iamweaver

    MikeL4, There are many things that Christians need to do – especially when it comes to standing up for what they believe is right and chastising others who claim to be Christians of their community.But I have great difficulty when Christians decide to judge another (even by their fruit), and refuse them the sacrament. That’s not “correction”, that’s refusing them the Eucharist, which Christ *commanded* us to observe in community – not just to those whose ideas we like.No human, not you, not a priest, not I, has the right to decide that one sin is worse than another – and that one is bad enough to refuse a sacrament. You have decided (in a most un-biblical act of judgement) that the sin of omission in regards to abortion is worse than murder, worse than adultery, worse than theft, worse than perjury, worse than disobeying the sabbath, etc.What’s more, you aren’t judging someone by their “fruits” – only by one particular bad apple. Does the person contribute generously of their time, talents, gifts and service to the church? Do they show kindness, generosity, patience, gentleness, self-control? Even if you *had* the right to judge someone, you seem to be picking and choosing your sins, once again claiming authority that only one Being has.

  • CCNL

    Thomas, The Hallucinator and Moses of the NT, Baum you noted:”I do know that the Eucharist is Jesus.”And how do you know this??From some of the experts who reviewed the history of the Last Supper: See “At the same time, Luedemann concludes that the portrayal of Jesus celebrating such a ritual on the night before his death is not historical. He is clear that there is “no generic relationship” between any actual final meal and the Lord’s Supper understood in cultic terms. He also denies the Passover character of the supper as a Markan creation. Like Meier (below), Luedemann does accept the saying (Mark 14:25) about drinking wine in the kingdom of God as authentic. He concludes: (this saying) “hardly came into being in the early community, for in it Jesus does not exercise any special function for believers at the festal meal in heaven which is imminent. Only Jesus’ expectation of a the future kingdom of God stands at the centre, not Jesus as saviour, judge or intercessor.”

  • prita46

    Based on this article one would think Father Reese’s analysis is something new. In fact, variations on his attitude have been around for 500 years—it is called Protestant. It even has the bishops he proposes. Father might also want to reread Matthew 7.The unlimited patience of his Mother, the Church, is exemplified by the fact Father is still allowed to call himself Catholic!

  • arosscpa

    Mr. Stevens-Arroyo: In an interview given while Prefect of the CDF, Benedict XVI said that the Church could offer a more effective witness when only those members who believe and practice what Christ and his Church teach remained as members of the Church. This column demonstrates why that need exists. No longer satisfied with your putative right to dissent, you now demand that bishops be made in your image and likeness.A bishop is not a fund raiser, group facilitator, CEO, or head of a family business. From Apostolic times the bishop’s job description has consisted of three words: priest, king, and judge. The bishop offers sacrifice for his people, rules over the people of God given to his care, and pronounce judgment over the members when they stray in serious matters in word and deed. You are a good example of why the Lord defended his spouse by forming the episcopacy in the way he did.

  • ThomasBaum

    MikeL4You wrote, “Well Mr. Baum, to quote Calvin and Hobbes, “I think our actions show what’s in our hearts.” So if you have a “Catholic” politician (or a columnist who defends such politicians) who defends the killing of human beings in the womb or the “right” to do so, I think that shows what it is in their hearts.”God gave us free will so that should tell you something about what is in God’s “Heart”.If you believe something is wrong then don’t do it, do you need a law for your morality?Actions don’t always show what is in one’s heart, people sometimes do the wrong thing for the right reason and conversely do the right thing for the wrong reason, so unless one can see into another’s heart as only God can, than that person should not judge another.You then wrote, “The clergy of the Church have the obligation to guard the sanctity of the sacrament from those who would take it unworthily.”Jesus said, “Feed My lambs, tend My sheep, feed My sheep…”, He did not say, “guard the sanctity of the sacrament from those who would take it unworthily”, did He? You then wrote, “Whose sin is so public as to cause scandal in the Church.”Jesus said, “Simon, thou art Peter and upon this rock I will build My Church and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against It”.The mission of the Church is that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against It, it is not to “legislate”. By the way, is abortion the only “wrong” that is “wrong enough” to deny God in the Eucharist from one of God’s children and we are all God’s children since we are all made in the Image and Likeness of God.If it is not the only “wrong” that is “wrong enough” then are we going to keep on going until there are none left to receive Communion?I happen to believe that life begins at conception and I also used to believe that there was nothing at all wrong with abortion. By the way, in my opinion, life begins at conception but it does not end at birth if the child lives.You also wrote, “Those “Catholic” politicians who jealously guard the “right” to kill unborn human beings are such that are committing such a public sin.”In your opinion it is a sin, other people don’t agree, no one is suppose to be anyone else’s conscience, should only “public” sin be treated this way? Should it be only some “public” sins? Even tho we seem to have a sliding scale for sin, do you think God does?I am not here to tell anyone else how to live their life, there sure does seem to be quite a few that are vying for that “job” and always have been.I am here to tell the whole world that God’s Plan is for All and that God’s Plan will come to Fruition.Remember, night is coming but the dawning of the seventh day, the new heavens and the new earth, will surely arrive in God’s Time.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • ThomasBaum

    Isn’t it something, when so many things seem to take precedence over God?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • willemkraal

    the heading of this article should read:BISHOPS, WHO NEEDS THEM?

  • kinlawj

    The autocratic leadership style adopted by many bishops is neither accidental nor surprising. In fact, it has been encouraged and cultivated for years, and the same attitude is prevalent among many seminarians. What is appauling, however, is the arrogance that has accompanied the autocracy. Rather than enter into genuine repentance in the midst of sexual abuse scandals, the hiearachy turns more autocratic and begins, for one, a witch hunt to ensure that there are no divorcees teaching theology in the Catholic universities. In addition, some non-reactionary diocesan priests have been re-assiged to ensure that they remain appropriately quite and hopefully (by lesson) appropriately docile.

  • sylvia_giem

    A change in hierarchical leadership style won’t get to the heart of the problem, which is the uncanny resemblance of these most moral of bishops to the Gospel portrait of the typical pharisee.

  • mascmen7

    US Bishops are too timid as a group to fight the Catholic pro-abortion politicians. Obama a confessed pro-abortion candidate won the Catholic vote 54%-46% which shows what happens when Bishops are silent on crucial issues. Bishops prior to Vatican II were much better than current crop of bishops.

  • ThomasBaum

    KINLAWJYou wrote, “I still love the Church, but the attempted intimidation of Catholics who don’t conform to the hezbollah wing of the GOP, intimidation by bishops in the so-called one true Church, is simply one example of a pattern that gives me scant hope for the Church’s future in my lifetime.”I am Catholic and I cherish my Catholic Faith and as I have said before sometimes I find it amazing that the Catholic Faith has thrived and continues to thrive within the Catholic religion.I don’t look at Catholicism as a religion even tho some do and that is fine.The “Church” is just part of God’s Plan which God has had since before creation and God’s Plan will come to Fruition.Just as in Jesus’s day, some thought of Judaism as a religion rather than a covenantial relationship between God and a People, there are some that think of Christianity as a religion rather than a covenantial relationship between God and a person.Another thing that I have said many times on here and in person is that if someone is Catholic then they should also be catholic.If God’s Plan is not for All to be with Him in His Kingdom then that would mean that God is a loser and God is NOT a loser.A tie would be the same as a loss.Total Victory, not only for ALL OF HUMANITY but also for ALL OF CREATION, remember the new heavens and the new earth, plenty of people sure seem to have a very small view of God.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • hc74nh

    The Catholic Church in America is imploding just like the Republic Party which it seeks to emulate. Fewer priests, fewer members among all but Latinos (and they will leave, too), fewer liberals and moderates among leaders, fewer liberals and moderate among members. But despite how much these far right wingers of the Church try they can’t stop the leaks in the dam. The latest amusing item is the fact the one of their heroes, Cardinal Newman, was likely gay. Their days are numbered and the pendulum will swing back to the middle and left.

  • gilbertpb40

    To several of the Bishops -Remember that Jesus said in his Sermon on the Mount —”Judge not lest you be judged, condemn not lest you be condemned.” Isn’t it enough to love one another as Jesus taught us? God is love and he who abides in love, abides in God and God in him.

  • lufrank1

    The problem is that a growing number of Catholics understand that a clump of mindless human cells is not yet a human being. Viva the progression (albeit slowly and difficult) away from dogma of the Dark Ages.

  • MikeL4

    Mr. Baum.Are we to stand silent as others commit sin? Your version of Christ would have us do so. Would you have us stand by as others are struck down by evil? Your version of God’s love would have us do so.Are God’s clergy to remain silent when they see sin? You say YES! When God’s Church says “Repent!”, You, yell back “free will!”The Bishops of the Church are not playing politics. They are saying those that cooperate in the Evil of killing unborn children in the womb are committing sin. The deliberate killing of innocent human lives. Would you have your priest present our Lord’s body and blood to the abortionist, knowing he is unrepentant, and the priest knowing their guilt, without so much as batting an eye? The church witnessing the scandal. The priest should follow Jesus’ words and go to the recalcitrant sinner, then with a witness, and the Church. Then if they still won’t listen to the Church, then treat them as they would “a tax-collector”. You see, that is Jesus’ words, not mine.Stop trying to impose your will on God’s Church, and let God work His will through you.

  • j2hess

    “A bishop is not a fund raiser, group facilitator, CEO, or head of a family business. From Apostolic times the bishop’s job description has consisted of three words: priest, king, and judge. The bishop offers sacrifice for his people, rules over the people of God given to his care, and pronounce judgment over the members when they stray in serious matters in word and deed. You are a good example of why the Lord defended his spouse by forming the episcopacy in the way he did.”I don’t recall anything in the Gospels about the episcopal hierarchy of the church. And in the Kingdom of God, who declared these little kings? I thought they were to be shepards to their flocks, and that ‘those who exault themselves shall be humbled’ etc.There is a tension between the roles of defender of the dogma and pastor. Usually these are accommodated. But Stevens-Arroyo is on to something here, a new militancy on the Catholic right that parallels the hardening and narrowing of the Republican party. Both have a Truth, an ideology that defines the goals and methods and reacts to adversity by insisting on purification and more vigorous enforcement of orthodoxy.We’ve been down this path before. It led to a split in Christendom. The question here is whether it will lead to a new schism in the Catholic Church, or whether increasing numbers of Catholics will ignore the bishops. You see, we don’t believe in kings anymore. Their time has passed, as the time of patriarchs before them. The High Priest is no longer a state official. God’s creation continues, and human institutions are part of the process

  • iamweaver

    “Would you have your priest present our Lord’s body and blood to the abortionist, knowing he is unrepentant, and the priest knowing their guilt, without so much as batting an eye? The church witnessing the scandal.”As a protestant, I have issues with the role of the priest in the Catholic church to begin with – but here, as below, I am merely pointing your lack of logic. You do not get to choose which sins may remain on the unrepentant sinner’s heart. Remember – to God, the 7th grader who made fun of a classmate at lunch commits sin just as does the one with a pistol who kills a lunch partner. You (and the Catholic church) don’t get to pick and choose your Eucharist-forbidding sins – not even the apostolic pope. Picking on only pro-choice candidates, rather than ones who oppose any tenant of the church, however “minor” it might seem to us, should never happen. It appears that anyone holding beliefs contrary to any of the Catholic Church’s teachings is sinning unrepentantly, and thus needs to be excluded from the Catholic church.

  • Donna3

    Did these Priests and Bishops that want to refuse communion to some ,ever refuse communion to their own who they knew were guilty of molesting the youth of their churches? No, they just moved them to new hunting grounds. Is the death of a childs innocence any less a crime then abortion? I think not! In Scranton, our Bishop is very hateful to Senator Casey who is pro-life but doesn’t follow orders from the Bishop.He is also very hateful against gays. I think that he is really a racist and can’t stand the idea of a black man being president.

  • bibliophile1

    And if the Church does go the way of General Motors, who will miss it?

  • GodsGadfly

    Dear Mr. Stevens-Arroyo,No, the bishops we do *not* need are bishops like Rembert Weakland, Roger Mahony and Joseph Bernardin. Thankfully, their generation is slowly passing away, and we have a solid Holy Father who is shepherding us.Your claim that John Kennedy, a president who funded contraception, engaged in private acts of adultery and drug addiction, and publicly renounced obedience to the Pope, was Catholic is horribly misguided. So is your “interpretation” of John XXIII, whose efforts at merely strategic reforms of the Church were commandeered.

  • Donna3

    I can’t think of anyone less Christ like then most Bishops. They act like they are aristocracy. Do they go out and minister to the poor and sick? They live in splendor and condemn everyone else.Our Bishop can only give orders he does not ever answer to the people when he is critized for some of his positions like closing schools and churches.It is like we are all the little people and he looks down on all of us from his high position. Divorce, living together out of wedlock,not attending church,lying,murder,unjust war, the death penalty,and greed, which Christ condemns many times in his sermons while never mentioning abortion or homosexuality are all sins.but the bishop of Scranton does not announce plans to refuse communion to these sinners . He only condemns Democratic politicians. I guess the biggest sin is being a democrat

  • JimMcCrea

    For those of you who still go all tongue-tied and obeisant when a bishop walks in the room, or is mentioned, I recommend you read “The Purple Culture” by Stephen Boehrer.And for those of you of a theocon bent (including the author of this article), may I quote from one of your darlings of the right?”The problem of clericalism is composed of several problems. It is the problem of a caste that arrogates to itself undue authority, that makes unwarranted claims to wisdom, even to having a monopoly on understanding the mind of God. The consequence is the great weakening of the Church by denigrating or excluding the many gifts of the Spirit present in the people who are the Church. The problem of clericalism arises when “the church” acts in indifference, or even contempt, toward the people who are the Church.”Richard J. Neuhaus, June 1989.

  • n_observer

    The mere fact that some people don’t like being rebuked doesn’t make their actions any less sinful.Rebuke of sinners is a spiritual work of mercy, not something for which the Church needs to apologise.

  • adrienne_najjar

    Religion is nonsense.

  • Diogenes

    The last pope with a practical bent was John XXIII, who convened a Council, whose deliberations brought the Catholic Church into the twentieth century. The current pope and his minions are hell-bent on taking the Church back to the Middle Ages. The great majority of American Catholics won’t buy it and many will go their separate ways. The church hierarchy, controlled by too many mossbacks, seems not to have a clue about what is happening.

  • SMPTURLISH

    The problem that Rembert Weakland has made everyone aware of is the part that blackmail may have played in decisions made during his tenue as archbishop. Weakland has already admitted under oath that he did not remove men that he knew were sexual abusers. That elephant remains in the living room. The question is why didn’t he? What pressures were put on him and by whom because of his own situation and the $ 450,000.00 in hush money that was paid. It will be very hard to believe that it didn’t have any influence. Maybe his book will address that, maybe not.

  • ThomasBaum

    MikeL4 You wrote, “The priest should follow Jesus’ words and go to the recalcitrant sinner, then with a witness, and the Church. Then if they still won’t listen to the Church, then treat them as they would “a tax-collector”.”And just what did Jesus do with the “tax-collectors”, He ate and drank with them and the “religious” of His day bad-mouthed Him for it, didn’t He and did they not?You then wrote, “Stop trying to impose your will on God’s Church, and let God work His will through you.”I am not trying to impose my will on God’s Church, I am just a messenger and believe me, I am counting on God working His Will through me.You also wrote, “You surely have a weird vision of our Lord. Ours is truly a loving God,”Actually, you are wrong, Love is not an attribute of God, Love is God’s Very Being.You wrote, “Are God’s clergy to remain silent when they see sin? You say YES! When God’s Church says “Repent!”, You, yell back “free will!”Should they pick and choose which ones to remain silent about and which ones they are to yell Repent about? Sin is sin. I am not the one yelling and if “free will” is such a problem to you, take it up with God, He is the One that gave it to us or we would be nothing but puppets on a string.Do you not know that God asks us to repent for our own good? As I have said, God knows our hearts, All of our hearts, I can’t look into other’s hearts but sometimes from what I hear, some hearts do seem rather bleak and very judgemental.You also wrote, “The Bishops of the Church are not playing politics.”I am not saying all of the Bishops of the Church are playing politics but some most definitely do and abortion is not the only thing happening in the world, not by a long shot. There were “religious” of Jesus’s day who were playing politics and there are today.Politics is not just practiced in the “secular” world, when people think of Christianity as a religion rather than a relationship, politics, overtly and covertly, can very much so come into play.I was taught that Jesus took All of the sins of humanity upon Himself on the cross and I believe it, were you taught that and do you believe that?Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • MikeL4

    Mr. Baum,I also do not understand why you think our bishops only have a problem with abortion. I remember this very columnist, cheering on the bishops as they took the previous president to task over Iraq. Seems sometimes the Left hears what it wants to. I have heard my Bishop in the past year speak about Life, immigration, health care, the poor, the environment, war, and the Eucharist. Wow, and wouldn’t you know it, neither political party falls in there.And to answer your question, of course Jesus, took all our sins unto Himself. Yet we still manage to find ways to reject him over and over again. In the process, forever separating themselves from God. Some have found a way to do that by killing developing human beings in the womb, and defending those who do it and their “rights” to do so. Clergy must continue to speak out against Evil in this world and not be intimidated into silence by those who would rather they be compliant, so that they can sin in peace.

  • coloradodog

    RCC (Republican Catholic Bishops) have hijacked the Catholic Church like Dobson, Falwell, Haggard, Robertson et. al. hijacked evangelical Christianity. These Bishops are turning the Catholic Church into a right-wing political action committee and a neocon bully organization to intimidate their politicians, their flock and the rest of us. Just as the young left the neochristian right-wing Republican parties and “churches”, the young will leave O’Reilly’s Catholic church for the same reason.

  • CCNL

    Once more for Thomas, the Hallucinator, Baum’s benefit:From Professor JD Crossan’s book “Who is Jesus” co-authored with Richard Watts)”Moreover, an atonement theology that says God sacrifices his own son in place of humans who needed to be punished for their sins might make some Christians love Jesus, but it is an obscene picture of God. It is almost heavenly child abuse, and may infect our imagination at more earthly levels as well. I do not want to express my faith through a theology that pictures God demanding blood sacrifices in order to be reconciled to us.” “Traditionally, Christians have said, ‘See how Christ’s passion was foretold by the prophets.” Actually, it was the other way around. The Hebrew prophets did not predict the events of Jesus’ last week; rather, many of those Christian stories were created to fit the ancient prophecies in order to show that Jesus, despite his execution, was still and always held in the hands of God.” “In terms of divine consistency, I do not think that anyone, anywhere, at any time, including Jesus, brings dead people back to life.”

  • SarahTX2

    I managed to skip all of the long, boring, tedious comments engendered by Mr. Baum!I sure did like Donna3′s comments.Poor Bishops. They had no women in their circle. They had no way of knowing that an all men’s club would never make it into the 21st century. All the nuns leaving in droves and the schools closing, and they still don’t want to get it. “For God’s sake, let us sit upon the groundGo Celtics!

  • jackvick77

    The kind of leadership we need in order to halt the death spiral into which our Church is now headed, simply do not exist among the bishops, archbishops and cardinals or the Catholic Church. There have been one or two bishops who have tried to speak out for justice and fair treatment for the childhood victims of clergy sexual violation, but these good men are, obviously in the minority. Then there are other bishops who are good men and are trying to do their best; but these men are fence straddlers who are trying to be all things to all peoples. Result? Nothing is accomplished. These Bishops are bad for the Church and Bad for the Faithful. With the present attitude of arrogance, inhumanity and indifference that has and still does prevail among the Hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, I don’t see any way that our once ancient and honorable faith can be saved.

  • Rayosun

    As a young priest who was disillusioned to see how short-lived John XXIII’s revolution had been, I shared the view of Coloradodog that “These Bishops are turning the Catholic Church into a right-wing political action committee and a neocon bully organization to intimidate their politicians, their flock and the rest of us.”

  • ThomasBaum

    MikeL4You wrote, “Ooh. Nice try with the “Jesus ate with them” thing, but He said “treat them as you would a tax collector”. Emphasis on the “you” part”Don’t you have a clue what being a “Christian” is suppose to be. We are to become “Christ-like”, where do you think the word “Christian” came from? As it says, “We can rise above our pettiness”, but that is a choice, our choice, we do have free will, how we use it is our decision.You then wrote, ” Seems sometimes the Left hears what it wants to.”Sounds as if you consider yourself right-wing and seem to have shall we say, contempt for those you consider left-wing.Are you familiar with ducks or geese or eagles or any other type of flying creature? Have you ever see any that can fly very well with one wing?Jesus was neither left-wing nor right-wing, Jesus was the most radical human being that ever set foot on this planet.Actually, we should listen to all and try to walk the path that God has chosen for us, individually, remember, “Take up your cross and follow Me”.You then wrote, “I have heard my Bishop in the past year speak about Life, immigration, health care, the poor, the environment, war, and the Eucharist. Wow, and wouldn’t you know it, neither political party falls in there.”Maybe you should reread what I wrote, I wrote about the politics of the Church and there are many power-seeking members of the clergy and there are also many members of the clergy who do not seek power.Remember, one of the title’s of the Pope is: The servant of the servants of the Lord.Then you wrote, “And to answer your question, of course Jesus, took all our sins unto Himself. Yet we still manage to find ways to reject him over and over again. In the process, forever separating themselves from God.”So you are saying that even tho Jesus took all of the sins of all of humanity upon Himself that He still died in vain, I disagree, God’s Plan will come to Fruition.You probably think that hell is seperation from God, you are wrong. Spiritual death is seperation from God. Hell is seeing oneself and all of the ramifications of one’s sins in the Light of Pure Love.God won the keys to both hell and spiritual death and God will use them in due time, God’s Time.You also wrote, “Clergy must continue to speak out against Evil in this world and not be intimidated into silence by those who would rather they be compliant, so that they can sin in peace.”Clergy should also “Proclaim the Good News” and they should take Jesus at His Word when He said, “Feed My lambs…”.Human Beings, at least the ones that believe in God, tend to underestimate God and something that I heard in a homily recently, I would like to write here, “God created us in His Image and we have been trying to return the favor ever since”, something to think about.As I have said, “God wins, satan loses, a tie is unacceptable”.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • usapdx

    WHO DO SOME OF THESE AMERICAN BISHOPS THING THEY ARE? YOU CAN SEE THROUGH THEM AS REPUBLICANS AND BIG MONEY BOYS, BETTER THAN THE MEMBERSHIP. JUST LOOK AT THE LAST TWO PLACES THEY IN WASHINGTON D.C. AREA IN 2008 AND 2009. WHOULD CHRIST CARRY ON LIKE SOME OF THEM? WHAT ROME NEEDS IS ANOTHER POPE JOHN 23.

  • ElizabethP

    The Bishops of the Church are servents of God. How about that for a Pollyanna statement? For a realistic, humanistic, demysifying glimpse into what some (not all) Bishops have become, read “The Purple Culture” by Stehen Boehrer. It’s not conservative, it’s not liberal, it simply deals with a pervasive culture that undermines the heirarchy. It’s a culture that has been building over centuries, but is it one that Jesus would be proud of? Someone asked Mr. Boehrer, a priest trained in Rome, how he could have written this book. His answer, “How could I have not.” “The Purple Culture” is like a parable of our times, that reader of all religous walks can read with spritual profit.

  • ThomasBaum

    ElizabethPHi, you wrote, “The Bishops of the Church are servents of God. How about that for a Pollyanna statement?”Not just the Bishops but all of the clergy are suppose to be servants of God, some are, some aren’t. Actually, we are all called to be servants of God and servants of one another.God does not look at the “label” or the “title”, God looks at the person.At the Last Supper, Jesus washed the Apostle’s Feet, instead of doing this symbolically at Holy Thursday services, maybe people should take it to heart, some do, some don’t.Jesus said, “Love one another as I have loved you”, also, “Do not lord it over others as the world does but serve one another”, close enough.Jesus spoke so simple and straight-forward, of course, it definitely goes against “looking out for No. 1″.As it says, “I will send the simple to confound the wise”.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • MikeL4

    Mr. BaumClergy must continue to speak out against Evil in this world and not be intimidated into silence by those who would rather they be compliant, so that they can sin in peace.

  • ThomasBaum

    MikeL4 Yes, the “gate is narrow”, so why should anyone try to get in between God and a fellow human being.No one but God and maybe the person in question knows how God is working in someone’s life and only God knows completely.Do you think that just because someone is a member of the “clergy” that they are on the “narrow path”?Have you ever heard of the “Mystical Body of Christ”?If God’s Plan isn’t ultimately for ALL then you can have your loser God and what I refer to as the ‘good enough news’?I met God and God is a Trinity and God is a Being of Love, Love is not an attribute of God but is His Very Being.I do not know all of the details of God’s Plan but then again I am not God but I am a messenger of God and God is not the partial winner that seems to be fine with you.You said about me, “Your vision of salvation is not Biblical.”Are you saying that you know exactly what absolutely everything in the bible means to the minutest detail?I sure don’t but then again, I am just a messenger, God is God and thank God for that.Take care, be ready.Sincerely, Thomas Paul Moses Baum.

  • daniel12

    To me all of this seems depressingly trivial–on all sides I might add. First Notre Dame. What is this self-importance of institutions of higher learning that they feel honorary degrees in general let alone from themselves are worth a damn? And then this controversy at Notre Dame over whether to honor Obama. Would you not think that if a controversy were to erupt over something so trivial in the first place as an honorary degree that the whole thing would be called off? But no, Notre Dame not only had to wade into the controversy, they called into question their entire integrity (and is there any other?) about whether or not they are a conservative not to mention Catholic institution. And then we have Obama. I see no integrity from him at all on this matter. You would think he would reflect a bit on whether he deserves such a thing for the simple reason why would any man be eager for an honorary degree, would feel deserving of such without having done any work for such–no matter if in the first place the whole notion of honorary degrees is trivial. Then we would ask why a man would be willing to accept one if a controversy exists about whether or not he should be so honored. You would think at least the person receiving the honor would question himself as to whether he was ever such as to receive the honor without controversy, and generally you would expect the person receiving the honor to state that he will modify his behavior (or whatever) to be worthy of the honor without controversy. But no, Obama just steps forward and accepts the honor.Who is more corrupt, Obama or Notre Dame? Then we have the students of Notre Dame without a shred of integrity themselves, more a pack of noisy animals than anything else, although I suppose Notre Dame can be blamed for corrupting them–for they are corrupt, not at all thinking about what is taking place. It just stinks on all sides. Not least because I am reading Machiavelli with his descriptions of VIRTU and all the astounding character traits and decisions of great military leaders. In Machiavelli’s terms, Notre Dame is not an army worth joining, and Obama is not worthy of being in any army. However, ironically, he might be worthy of Notre Dame. Yes, Obama and Notre Dame deserve each other.

  • gregbyrneva

    Anthony, thank you for remaining a voice of reason in this whole debate. I am reminded of Augustine’s dictum, quoted by John XXIII: In essentials, unity; in doubtful things, liberty; in all things, love.”

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