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  • Writer's pictureImmersed in Christ

Immersed in Christ: August 13, 2020

THURSDAY of the NINETEENTH WEEK in Ordinary Time

Do not forget the works of the Lord!

(Responsorial: Psalm 78)

Ezekiel 12:1-2 lays it out very simply: “You live in a rebellious house. They have eyes to see but do not see, and ears to hear but do not hear.” But generalities are useless. Specifically, how would this apply to our time?

At the inaugural convention of the American Catholic Council in Detroit, June 12, 2011, an estimated 2,000 reform-minded Catholics stood en masse to endorse a 10-point Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Speaker after speaker articulated the participants’ frustration at growing clericalism in the church and what they viewed as sustained efforts by church authorities to slow down or reverse many of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Citing this does not imply agreement or disagreement. It simply presents a concrete challenge to “see and hear.”

Speakers criticized the way bishops have handled clerical sex abuse; the church’s treatment of gays; lack of consultation with the laity; mismanagement of church funds and property; closings of parishes and sales of the closed churches to pay off diocesan debts; and politicization of the Eucharist by some bishops who threaten to withhold Communion from insufficiently pro-life politicians.

I repeat: Citing this does not imply the author’s agreement or disagreement. We just cannot shut our ears to concerned Catholics who “moan and groan” over what they perceive, rightly or wrongly, as “abominations that are practiced within the Church.”

Their examples:

Restorationism: Speakers and participants widely shared the view that under Benedict XVI and John Paul II, there has been a serious backpedaling on many Vatican II teachings and reforms. To name just a few: liturgical reform, lay participation, church engagement in the world, consultation in church decision-making.

Hierarchical authoritarianism: A revival of episcopal threats of excommunication or other church penalties as a response to dissent in matters open to serious debate.

Clericalism: more concern for priestly and episcopal prestige and power than for pastoral care and service. This is a growing issue in numerous areas of church life. 1

The “rebellious house” are not those who raise these issues, but those who refuse to listen and look at them with openness.

Should these spiritual Reflections raise such “political” issues? Can our spirituality be authentic if we have “eyes to see” but close them to what is going on around us? Can it?

It is not against the Gospel to “see, judge and act” in response to issues in the community of God’s People. Jesus did, though the religious authorities had him killed for it. Matthew 18:21 to 19:1 tells us what is against the Gospel: it is the refusal to forgive. We don’t reject anyone for sin. We raise issues and work for reconciliation. With love. 2

Initiative: See, Judge, Act with Jesus whose love is the Way, Truth and Life.

1 See National Catholic Reporter, June 21, 2011. 2 See-Judge-Act” was the formula of the ecclesiastically approved “Catholic Action” movement between World War II and Vatican II. View Today's Readings Here

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