Friday 26 March 2010

Ratzinger, Kung, Schillebeeckx, and Jesus

There was this wonderful joke that went around religious scholar types in the mid to late 1980s. First, the info so that those who don't belong to this esoteric field can get the joke. This is my version of the story.

The Players:

Cardinal Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was always considered to be entrenched in the (radically) conservative theological position of the Roman Catholic Church.

Hans Kung was a Swiss Roman Catholic theologian who was considered to have deviated somewhat from the "party line". For example, he wrote a book on the Priesthood that suggested that since a celibate priesthood was historical in development, it could be changed and priest should be allowed to marry. The hyperlink is the Google hyperlist of his books. He wanted change, but did not think that it needed to be as radical a other theologians. Mind you, I saw him Carleton University years ago (c. 1983), and then met him at the after-reception. I couldn't understand why he just didn't convert to Lutheranism. His talk was sooooo Martin Luther. I'll bet he never studied Luther, except from the POV of Roman Catholic "history".

Edward Schillebeeckx was a Dutch/Belgium Roman Catholic theologian. He was considered a radical liberation theologian (this link may have problems, but in general will give an overview of the issues & the issues between Ratzinger & Liberation Theology).

Saint Peter and Jesus: Do I have to explain?

The Story:

Ratzinger, Kung and Schillebeeckx all died on the same day. No surprise, they all ended up in the waiting room at the Pearly Gates of Heaven and were met there by Saint Peter. Saint Peter told all of them that they would have to have a discussion with Jesus to decide whether or not they had been good enough Christians to go straight into heaven, or whether they needed to spend a little time in Purgatory to ponder on their errors.

The first one to sit down with Jesus was Hans Kung. They had an amiable discussion that lasted about 2 hours. Then Kung walked back to the waiting room. Ratzinger and Schillebeeckx wanted to know how it went. Hans answered that he guessed that he hadn't been a good enough Christian because he was going to spend the next 6 months in Purgatory.

Schillebeeckx said that he would go next, and Kung said that he would hang around just to see what happened to him. After all, Schillebeeckx was the really radical one. Well, the three of them sat around for what seemed like forever waiting for Edward to come out. After about ten hours, he came out shaking his head saying "I guess I really wasn't a good enough Christian. I'm going to Purgatory for three years."

Now it was Ratzinger's turn. He went in to see Jesus while the others waited to see what would happen. They all thought that it would probably be a shoo-in. The first day passed; then a second. The three in the waiting room sat around discussing this in amazement. St. Peter said that this had never happened before. None of them could imagine what was going on.

About noon on the third day, a stunned Jesus walks out. They all look at him with various expressions on their faces. "What happened? What happened?" they clamoured. "Why are you here?"

"Well," said Jesus. "I guess I wasn't a good enough Christian. I have to spend the next five years in Purgatory contemplating my sins!"

Thursday 25 March 2010

Birds of a feather flock together

Pope Sexual Abuse Scandal: Benedict Implicated in Cover-up of Wisconsin Sexual Abuse Case

Just to reiterate. Why should anyone be surprised? All of these cases had to have gone through Cardinal Ratzinger, aka Pope Benedict XVI under John Paul II. He was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (re-branded Inquisition), and, was PJP2s gatekeeper and adviser. Watch the trailer for One of the reasons that I was never surprised at PJP2s conservatism.

The Roman Catholic Church is hierarchical bureaucratic institution. As with all bureaucracies, it has a vested interest in its own survival. We know exactly how the "sexual abuse scandal" has come about. The cover-ups begin at the lowest bureaucratic levels. However, as with all bureaucracies, extensive records are kept. (Oh to get hold of those records!!) I have know of only one archbishop who said "the buck stops here": Archbishop Penny in Newfoundland, who took on the responsibilities for the cover-ups in Newfoundland and then resigned. Now to be fair, this means that Rome could deny that it knew anything about this. So Penny "manned up" and took the flak for the Church, and they let him.

Ratzinger came up through the ranks. There is absolutely no way that he did not participate in "cover-ups" in his parishes, etc. The s**t has finally hit the fan in Europe - it will be no different there than anywhere else in Catholicism. What happened in North America, happened in Europe and everywhere else. We just need to wait as the cases fall out of the trees. Ratzinger/Benedict truly believes in those "old-fashioned" values of Roman Catholicism and its theology. Check out Gregory the VII, Pope Innocent the 3rd & the Fourth Lateran Council, the Council of Trent, Vatican 1 and even Vatican 2, the J-P2's Humanae Vitae.

People seem to be so shocked at what's going on. However, basic history of Christianity would show that "so it was, so it is". The question should be "so it ever shall be?" History tells us that if there is some sort of Council held over this issue & reform is in the air, the solutions will never go to the heart of the problem. The Church has already begun to retrench into its past theologies that allowed this to happen in the first place. The Church has been covering up child sexual abuse since its inception - why change now? Again read Doyle, Sipe & Wall. Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2,000-Year Paper Trail of Sexual Abuse.

If people would just take off their blinders, things might get better.

Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Saturday 13 March 2010

Catholic Church Child Abuse Claims Sweep Across Europe

All I can say is that it's about time. The Vatican has tried to make this a North American problem and a problem related to the "moral laxity" of the west for the last 30+ years (when they lowered themselves to address the issue). Never forget that Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly, known as the Inquisition - a wonderful re-branding if there ever was one) when this scandal broke out. Cardinal Law (he of the Boston scandal) is still living in the Vatican, if I am not mistaken. The Roman Catholic Church has (NOT) been dealing with this issue since the inception of the church (see Doyle, Sipe & Wall: Sex, Priests and Secret Codes: The Catholic Church's 2000-year Paper Tail of Sexual Abuse). I published a paper back in 1993 in the Canadian Church History Journal that discussed the situation in one part of Canada. It was already clear that this had to be a worldwide problem. Getting rid of compulsory celibacy and homosexuals in the church is not going to solve the problem, as much as the RC Church and its laity would like to believe it will. These are red herrings. Easy to see and easy to blame.

My heart goes out to all those who have been abused. Their journeys are hard. May they be heard.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

Thursday 11 March 2010

Oh, those well meaning pastoral counsellors & educators

And God bless them, they do mean well but most of the time, they really don't have a clue.

The earlier post brought to mind another incident from the 2002 AAR regional conference. I was delivering a paper called, "God Isn't Really like That! - Or is he? The Child, the Bible and the Patriarchal God". The woman who was chairing the session was so excited to meet me. She had read my articles and wanted to know if maybe, sometime, I would like to lecture in one of her classes. She also told me that Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza had mentioned me in her latest book, Wisdom Ways (which I ran out and bought, of course). I delivered the paper and there were lots of questions that continued after the session. The next day, while we were all in line for cafeteria-style lunch, she came up to me and said something like, I think I know why are so interested in all of this. You were in a sexual relationship with your minister when you were about 17. Where she got that age is beyond me. I stood in line and looked at her for a minute, thinking about how I was going to answer this. I did not, at that time, bring my personal history into these academic discussions, for what should be obvious reasons (at some point, I will do a blog on the horror show that evolved when I did about 3 years later). I looked at her and said, "No, I was sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest when I was 8 years old." I don't recall the rest of the minimal conversation, but it had something to do with how I didn't really think that the issues were well handled within the pastoral counselling department at St. Paul's, after she said that they had a course in the Canon Law (!!!) department that dealt with that. Needless to say, I never heard from her again.

What was sort of funny (not ha ha funny, but ironic funny) was that about 3 years later, as a peer reviewer for the Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion, I was sent a paper (on impact of child sexual abuse on some adult women) that came from the MA in Pastoral Counselling program at St. Paul's. St. Paul's is a Roman Catholic seminary and university with one of the best libraries in North America. After a first quick run through of a paper, the first place I go to for the review process is the bibliography to see whether the appropriate literature had been accessed for the review of literature. This review of literature should serve as the basis for understanding material, setting up the hypothesis and discussing the results. It was missing at least 6 critical books (and my dissertation). All 7 of these items were easily available at either St. Paul's or the University of Ottawa or Carleton University (the 3 universities are rather close together, so distance isn't an excuse & St. Paul's and the University of Ottawa are affiliated). I actually checked the on-line libraries at U of O & Carleton. All of these items would have answered the questions that the authors of the paper had in their discussion section of the paper. They would also have changed the structure of some of the questions that were asked of the participants. It was my recommendation to send the paper back to the drawing board, in large part because of this. I wasn't surprised, but it is so depressing to actually see how little things had changed. I should note that I would have been one of a minimum of three reviewers, so mine wasn't the sole decision maker on this submission.

We are finally getting a number of dissertation on the subject of god images, spirituality, psychology, child sexual abuse and religion (read Christianity - there is such a privileging of Christianity in most writings - they use "religion" when they mean Christianity). I will be reviewing them on the blog. From a cursory glance at a couple of them, it will not be a happy task. I love electronic databases - they make tracking these things so much easier that it was even 5 years ago, but it does mean that I don't have any reason not to keep up with the latest in my field! Maybe this will spur me to publish a book, who knows?

Sunday 7 March 2010

Everyone Should Watch This One

It is free on the Internet at SnagFilms. It is called Girl 27. It tells the story of one rape case from 1937 in Hollywood. It is a such a compelling story. You watch all of the people's lives that were destroyed because of the rape. First Patricia Douglas, but also her daughter, her mother, the parking attendant who perjured himself at the trial. The betrayal by her mother and lawyer.

This is not just a story about about corruption in Hollywood; it is a story about the long term and devastating impact of rape.

Girl 27 Girl 27

(2007) 86 min

The reclusive Patricia Douglas comes out of hiding to discuss the 1937 MGM scandal

Hollywood 1937—Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the world’s most prestigious and powerful movie studio, tricks 120 underage chorus girls into attending a stag party for its visiting salesmen. When dancer Patricia Douglas tries to flee, she is brutally raped; defying the studio’s order for silence, Douglas files a landmark lawsuit while MGM launches the biggest cover-up in Hollywood history-until six decades later, when author-screenwriter David Stenn stumbles upon the story. Stenn’s decade-long search for the truth leads to Patricia Douglas herself, nearly ninety and still in hiding. Will she go public once again, or will Hollywood’s best-suppressed scandal die with her?

So. You know what is left out of the discourse????

 Children Just Saying ........... The discourse of rape culture, of course, in the academic literature, of course. Just struck me as I was r...