The Deacon's Bench

The Deacon's Bench


A Protestant writes about “the Catholicism I cherish”

posted by jmcgee

A reader e-mailed me the following, with this note: “I have not seen much commentary on the current troubles in our church from faithful members of other ecclessial communities. No piling on by Methodists, Lutherans, Presbyterians, Anglicans etc. They are well aware of their own failings and many admire the Catholic churches record on social justice issues.”

Here, then, a snip from an essay by Rev. Dr. Serene Jones, president of the Union Theological Seminary:

Tears come easily when I think of the abuse and the horrifying realization that some within the church clearly believe that protecting priests is more important than safeguarding children. When I think of Jesus suffering during Holy Week, it is the broken bodies of children, betrayed by their own religious leaders, that come to mind. They bear the crosses of the church’s abuses of power.

That said, I also weep because this latest sex scandal adds to our distrust of religious leadership in general and keeps us from remembering all the good work the Roman Catholic church does for the poor, hungry, and homeless, and has done for many decades. I am personally indebted to countless nuns and priests I’ve encountered over the years, who patiently taught me what it means to “stand with the least of these.” In the twentieth century, especially, it was Roman Catholics rather than liberal, so-called “Main Line” Protestants who more often found spiritual grounds for social justice.

I think of Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker Movement that began during the depths of the Great Depression, and which continues today to give care and comfort to the forsaken. I think of Thomas Merton and his outspoken protest of the Vietnam War. I think of the Catholic bishops who stood side by side with César Chávez in his fight for justice among the farm workers of California’s Central Valley. I think of Archbishop Óscar Romero and the struggles of San Salvador. And I think of blighted neighborhoods across America where all-but-ignored nuns, priests, and committed laypeople offer hope to the nearly hopeless through soup kitchens, schools, and community centers. For them, and for energetic Catholic women I work with and teach — so unjustly banned from a priesthood that sorely needs them — the importance of justice-making always exceeds the importance of collars and confessions.

Tragedies come and go; issues like labor and immigration burn bright in the public consciousness for a time and then are forgotten. Long after the rest of the world has moved on, however, often enough the Catholic Church alone continues to affirm economic justice, offer a moral critique of capitalism, and, most importantly, insist that a radical love of the powerless and marginalized is the truest form of faith.

[snip]

As a Protestant, I refuse to throw self-righteous stones against Catholics. Disregard for public accountability is dangerous, in any form. It is not only in politics that power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. No church is immune. No person is.

The Catholicism I cherish — and the Catholicism that the world so desperately needs — is one that models an unguarded honesty about human failing, a gentleness of spirit that welcomes criticism, and a determination to hold all people, no matter their station, accountable for their actions.

This is the lesson of Holy Week, and it is one that Christians all — bishops, popes, and pew-sitters alike — would do well to consider carefully in the days ahead.

Check out the rest here.



Advertisement
Comments read comments(12)
post a comment
Marian

posted March 31, 2010 at 1:03 pm


I used to admire the Catholic church’s work for social justice too, especially where immigrants are concerned. But lately I keep looking for Catholic colleges, universities, and hospitals to step up and be counted in helping the undocumented aliens the feds have forbidden anybody else to touch, and I am not seeing it. Never mind the child abuse stuff–here in the US it has probably run its course. But why aren’t they taking a public stand for immigrants?



report abuse
 

Allison Salerno

posted March 31, 2010 at 1:16 pm


“the importance of justice-making always exceeds the importance of collars and confessions. ”
Nope. The corporal works of mercy he describes are beautiful and important, but must be understood within the context of the Church’s spiritual works of mercy and Sacramental life.
Otherwise, we are merely social workers.



report abuse
 

Patty

posted March 31, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Marian,
The Catholic Church is one of the leaders in social justice for immigrants. If you don’t see it, then you are not looking.



report abuse
 

Klaire

posted March 31, 2010 at 1:45 pm


Oh give me a break. This women is a Yale scholar who knows darn well that the least amount of sex abuse in America today is coming from Catholic priests. If she’s so eager to “hold all accountable for their actions, where’s the outrage?” She’s in a position to be leading the charge against abuse, calling out her own, not hiding behind a lot of pseduo rhetroic.
If these recent threads have made the case for anything it is loud and clear that the only sexual abuse that matters in this county is abuse by 3% of Catholic Priests 20 to 40 years ago, and never mind that 80% of them were homosexual acts (even Ross D of the NYT reported it yesterday, referencing the John Jay Report).
Allison great point; especially in a country where “social justice” has been hijacked by self admitted Marxists like Jim Wallace, AKA, “presidential spiritual advisor.”
The reality is that this country is so steeped in sexual sin that the big spotlight of the Catholic Church must be destroyed at all costs; even at the expense of the millions of children being abused today with no voice.



report abuse
 

Dana MacKenzie

posted March 31, 2010 at 2:11 pm


Thank you for posting this.



report abuse
 

Sean

posted March 31, 2010 at 3:28 pm


Marian,
You have not been doing your homework on the issue of immigration and the Church’s stance. I encourage you to go to the URL above and check out this article–just one of many. A week ago, there was a march on Washington, DC attended by over 200,000 people in support of immigration reform and the rights of immigrants. LA’s Cardinal Mahoney was one of the keynote speakers.



report abuse
 

Guido

posted March 31, 2010 at 4:20 pm


The Catholicism I cherish — and the Catholicism that the world so desperately needs — is one that models an unguarded honesty about human failing, a gentleness of spirit that welcomes criticism, and a determination to hold all people, no matter their station, accountable for their actions.
I can’t believe this, taking en event and tailoring it to one’s own agenda. I thought Holy week had to do with death and salvation.



report abuse
 

John M.

posted March 31, 2010 at 9:25 pm


“For them, and for energetic Catholic women I work with and teach — so unjustly banned from a priesthood that sorely needs them — the importance of justice-making always exceeds the importance of collars and confessions.”
She just can’t help herself. She couldn’t simply defend the Church and put into perspective the reports of abuse; but has to take a shot at the Church’s infallible teaching that women cannot be priests. Sorry Ms. Jones, the Church doesn’t live and teach according to the world’s standards. We leave that to liberal protestants.



report abuse
 

Tom

posted March 31, 2010 at 9:39 pm


Right on to Klaire! I love your post!
You sum up the total hypocrisy of the press, that “the only sexual abuse that matters in this county is abuse by 3% of Catholic Priests 20 to 40 years ago, and never mind that 80% of them were homosexual acts.”
Millions of children ARE being abused today— NOT BY PRIESTS— and the press could care less. They are out to DESTROY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH! The destruction of innocent children has never mattered to them. They are frauds!



report abuse
 

Marian

posted April 1, 2010 at 9:30 pm


Yes, I know the bishops say lots of stuff in support of the rights of immigrants, legal and otherwise. What I don’t hear from them (please point me to the appropriate sources if I’m wrong) is “We don’t care whether the president’s health care plan covers undocumented immigrants, because we will treat them without charge at any Catholic hospital. And we don’t care whether undocumented immigrant young people can qualify for federal or state college financial aid, because they can get a full ride at any Catholic college or university, if they are otherwise qualified.” Just like I never heard them saying that Catholic young people who had not registered for the draft back when that was a requirement for federal college aid could get a free ride at any Catholic college or university.



report abuse
 

NM

posted April 2, 2010 at 4:58 pm


Jim Wallis is a Marxist?? Oh, yeah…and Dorothy Day, too…Glenn Beck has decreed them so…it must be true…
And there’s a huge sex abuse scandal going on at Yale and Klaire knows about it and hasn’t informed the police and the media about it?
Klaire, you’re batshite nutso, dear.



report abuse
 

Susan

posted April 3, 2010 at 1:41 pm


Please forgive me for being so tardy in commenting here. I thought you might like to know that there is a very good article by a Lutheran theologian in support of Pope Benedict. Here is a snip:
The secular press has had it in for Joseph Ratzinger for going on three decades. Before his election as Pope in the spring of 2005, he was routinely derided in his homeland as the Panzerkardinal (“tank cardinal”) and caricatured in North America as the “Enforcer” or even the “Rottweiler.” The roots of this negative reputation stretch back at least as far as the book-length interview he granted to the Italian journalist Vittorio Messori that catapulted him to global fame when published as The Ratzinger Report in 1985. Prior to that juncture, as a heavyweight German academic who had leapfrogged over a major episcopal see (Munich-Freising) to become a leading official in the Roman curia (as cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) under the still new John Paul II, Ratzinger’s was hardly a household name.
Another snip:
In addition to the unremitting hostility directed at him from the Modernist wing of his own Communion, even prior to his election as Pope, Ratzinger was a favourite target of the unbelieving world’s impassioned hatred for Christ Jesus our Lord and the members of His mystical body. Some years ago, the British Daily Telegraph (which at one time had the reputation of being a “quality” newspaper) reported that the then cardinal had committed a terrible “gaffe” by publicly expressing hope for the conversion of the Jews. Fancy that, a Christian wishing salvation for a sizeable group of his neighbours, a faux pas indeed! A Google search has confirmed my memory that British journalists were likewise incensed by the then cardinal’s comparison of Buddhism with spiritual autoeroticism. How scandalous that a Christian spokesman should speak candidly of religions that offer a spurious salvation!
You can read the entire article here: http://www.logia.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121&catid=39:web-forum&Itemid=18



report abuse
 

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the beliefnet.com terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to beliefnet.com and may be used by beliefnet.com in accordance with the agreements.



Previous Posts

This blog is no longer active
This blog is no longer being actively updated. Please feel free to browse the archives or: Read our most popular inspiration blog See our most popular inspirational video Take our most popular quiz

posted 10:42:40pm Dec. 12, 2010 | read full post »

One day more
A reminder: "The Deacon's Bench" is closed! Please enjoy the archives!

posted 11:26:20pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Meet Montana's married priest
Earlier this week, I posted an item about Montana getting its first married priest. Now a local TV station has hopped on the bandwagon. Take a look, below.

posted 10:29:55pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Big day in the Big Easy: 10 new deacons
Deacon Mike Talbot has the scoop: 10 men today were ordained as Permanent Deacons for the Archdiocese of New Orleans. This group of men was formally selected on the day the evacuation of New Orleans began as Hurricane Katrina approached. The immediate aftermath of the storm for this class would be

posted 6:55:42pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »

Gaudete! And let's break out a carol or two...
"Gesu Bambino," anyone? This is one of my favorites, and nobody does it better than these gals: Kathleen Battle and Frederica von Staade. Enjoy.

posted 1:04:10pm Dec. 11, 2010 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.