The Virtues of Catholic Anger

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

The Virtues of Catholic Anger

In the face of the Pennsylvania abuse scandal, Christians should use their rage to combat evil within the church.

By James Martin

The Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest, is the editor at large of America magazine.

Image
CreditDesign Pics, via Getty Images

Every American Catholic I know is angry — with good reason. The recent release of a grand jury investigation into 70 years of sexual abuse by priests in Pennsylvania is appalling in its breadth and detail.

One priest had his victim wash his mouth out with holy water after being forced to perform a sex act on the priest. Another arranged an abortion for a minor he impregnated. Compounding these appalling crimes were years of documented cover-ups by church officials.

That most of these stories are decades old does not diminish the abject horror among Catholics today who read them today.

These disgusting reports come on the heels of revelations that one of the church’s most powerful clerics, Theodore E. McCarrick, for many years the archbishop of Washington, D.C., was accused of multiple incidents of harassing seminarians and young priests and of the sexual abuse of a minor.

Catholic wrath burns hot. Chief among those enraged are victims and their families, several of whom I know, many whose lives have been destroyed by sexual violence. Catholics not directly affected by the abuse are furious at both abusive priests and the bishops who covered up their crimes, and many have had their faith in the church severely shaken. Many believed that after the sex abuse scandals of 2002, the church had “moved on” and so feel poleaxed by these new stories.

Pennsylvania Catholics (of whom I am one: I grew up in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia) have shared their personal anger with me as they read about pastors they knew who had taken unforgiving stances with them on sexual matters while raping children. Some millennial Catholics, who were themselves children in 2002, are appalled as they read about sex abuse cases as adults for the first time.

You have 4 free articles remaining.

Subscribe to The Times

The Catholic clergy is furious as well. Like many priests, I have been deluged with emails from Catholics saying, “I don’t know how I can stay in the church.” To see a person’s faith shaken in the church is to know that they may be tempted to distance themselves from God, another tragedy.

And we are painfully aware that the financial settlements — justified, of course — mean slashing desperately needed programs at the diocesan and parish level: educational programs for the young, health care assistance for the aged, financial aid for the poor in the community.

Then there are more selfish reasons: These stories, even though they represent a fraction of the priesthood, cast every Catholic priest in the darkest light. During the 2002 crisis I was spat upon in the subway on two occasions and at times was embarrassed to wear my collar.

Lately, I have also been angry with the Catholic commentators who have been using these revelations to advance their own agendas, so that the suffering of children becomes an opportunity to stir up hatred, for example, of all gay priests, or L.G.B.T. people in general.

Or they use these stories to whip up what seems to be their boundless contempt for Pope Francis. One of the more absurd tropes has been far-right commentators blaming Francis for Archbishop McCarrick’s crimes, conveniently ignoring the fact that he was named a bishop by Pope Paul VI and rose in the ranks, and was named a cardinal, under St. John Paul II. Francis may be responsible for some failures in the church today, even when it comes to addressing sexual abuse, but Theodore McCarrick is not one of them.

All this anger may seem like an un-Christian scourge, tearing the church apart. In fact, it is good, healthy and clarifying.

In the Gospels, Jesus is described as angry many times, a stark contrast to the portrait many have of him as a doe-eyed man of peace. Jesus excoriates the disciples for their lack of faith (“You faithless and perverse generation!”). Most famously, he makes a “whip of cords” and chases the “money changers” out of the temple in Jerusalem, upending their tables in a dramatic act that helped to lead to his execution by Roman authorities.

Anger is an important part of the life and ministry of Jesus. And so anger should be part of the Catholic life — with Jesus as a guide.

Jesus’ anger is always a righteous anger, never on behalf of himself, but in reaction to how he sees others being treated. Even as he is dying on the cross, he refuses to be angry with the Roman soldiers who have crucified him, choosing instead to pray for them: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” Jesus’ anger is, in a word, unselfish and constructive, intent on doing something, effecting a change.

Those Catholics who are feeling angry today are, in the Christian worldview, feeling God’s anger. This is, as I see it, God’s primary way of acting in the world: through our human emotions. How else would God act, how else would God intervene, how else would God move to change things, other than to rouse in us a burning desire to upend the tables of the clerical culture and chase out all those who have defamed and abused the trust placed in them?

What can Catholics do? Listen to your anger. Let it inform you. Let it move you to act in whatever way you think will most protect children and root out the clerical rot that gave rise to these crimes. I can only suggest a few specific actions: Speak to your pastor, write to your bishop, express your anger to the Vatican’s nuncio in this country. Most of all, work in any way that you can for real change, even at the cost of being seen as a troublemaker.

But more important than my suggestions is what each Catholic feels moved to do.

Buried within one of the central texts of the Second Vatican Council, “Lumen Gentium” (“The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church”), a document of the highest teaching authority, promulgated in 1964, is a vivid call to arms, addressed to laypeople. The laity are, the Second Vatican Council said, “by reason of the knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church.”

Today their strong emotions should encourage them to follow the call of their church. In fact, their anger obliges them to do so.

James Martin is a Jesuit priest, editor at large of America magazine and author of “Jesus: A Pilgrimage” and, most recently, “Building a Bridge.”

Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTopinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A23 of the New York edition with the headline: The Virtues of Catholic Anger. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

How the Vatican changed its position to China

(THIS ARTICLE IS COURTESY OF THE ‘CHINA SPEAKERS BUREAU’ AND THE NEW YORK TIMES)

 

How the Vatican changed its position to China – Ian Johnson

Ian Johnson

The Roman Catholic Church at the Vatican has shocked its communities in China by asking two “underground” bishops by complying to the country’s rulers. Journalist Ian Johnson, author of The Souls of China: The Return of Religion After Mao, tries to make sense out of the move for the New York Times.

Ian Johnson:

In a statement released on Monday, the former bishop of Hong Kong, Cardinal Joseph Zen, confirmed the broad outlines of the Vatican’s recent efforts, writing that he traveled to Rome this month to personally deliver to the pope a letter from an underground bishop who had refused to resign.

The letter came from Bishop Zhuang Jianjian of the southern Chinese city of Shantou, an 88-year-old who had been secretly ordained in 2006 with Vatican approval.

In December, Bishop Zhuang was escorted by government officials to Beijing, where he was taken to the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse to meet a papal delegation believed to have been headed by Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, who leads the Vatican’s China negotiating team…

In his statement on Monday, Cardinal Zen said that when he delivered Bishop Zhuang’s letter to the pope, the pontiff expressed sympathy for the underground bishops, telling the cardinal that his negotiators should not “create another Mindszenty case,” a reference to a pro-democracy bishop in Hungary who was forced out of his country in 1956 and replaced with a person acceptable to the government.

Cardinal Zen wrote that he had been heartened by the words. “I was there in the presence of the Holy Father representing my suffering brothers in China,” he said. “His words should be rightly understood as of consolation and encouragement more for them than for me.”

The Rev. Bernardo Cervellera, the editor of Asianews.it, said the developments showed that Vatican negotiators were prepared to give the Chinese government “carte blanche, and accept all requests and pose no opposition on questions that affect the church in China.”

But Father Cervellera said the pope’s reported comments to Cardinal Zen may have signaled that he was not entirely in agreement with his negotiators.

People following the issue said that the highly unusual series of events showed how badly the Vatican wanted a deal.

“The fact that both sides can carry on the negotiation till now shows that the Vatican must consider this a rare opportunity,” said Wang Meixiu, a researcher on Chinese Catholicism at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing.

Dr. Chen (Dr. Chen Tsung-ming, research director at the Ferdinand Verbiest Institute) in Belgium said that one reason for the Vatican’s eagerness was a sense that the faith had been growing relatively slowly compared with other religions in China. While the number of Protestants has grown from one million in 1949 to at least 50 million today, the number of Catholics has largely tracked population growth, increasing from three million in that period to at most 12 million today, in part because of the schism in the Chinese Catholic Church.

The pope’s background as a priest in the Society of Jesus may also play a role, Dr. Chen said. Jesuits arrived in China more than 400 years ago, establishing a permanent presence for the church on the mainland after several failed efforts in earlier centuries. But they did so by being extremely flexible and conforming to local norms — a point that may be informing the pope’s negotiating approach.

“He has a sense of mission,” Dr. Chen said. “There’s a historic responsibility.”

More details in the New York Times.

Ian Johnson is a speaker at the China Speakers Bureau. Do you need him at your meeting or conference? Do get in touch or fill in our speakers’ request form.

Are you looking for more experts on cultural change at the China Speakers Bureau. Do check out this list.

Response To An Atheist Followers Response To A Christian Post Article

 

A couple of days ago I reblogged a post from ‘The Christian Post’ with the title of ‘Teenagers today are the least Christian generation ever’. One of my followers, a man named Jim whom you can find here on WordPress at ( Thecommonathiest.wordpress.com ) left me a comment that many Christians may find a bit offensive, I don’t. I believe that all of my Christian readers, no matter how devout, or not, should really think about what Jim had to say. I asked Jim if he cared if I used his comments in an article this evening, this article, he gave me his blessings to do so. I am going to copy paste our conversation so that I make no errors in it.

(Jim’s comment about the Christian Post article)

Hoping this trend grows. Don’t forget the core! They are waiting and praying for God to come back and slaughter all the rest of us. That little tidbit says a lot about how they really feel. It’s a religion that is divisive and racist to its core, and piety sets dividing lines for them to fight every step of social equality or scientific advance.

 

In reply to jim-.

Hi Jim, thank you for the comment. I do see why you and millions of other people feel this way about Christianity. I would like to ask your permission to write an article where I incorporate the title about the ‘Teenagers in America’ then copy paste your response to their article. If you wish I will put a link to your blog site or if you wish, I won’t. I will not blast you at all in the article, if anything I am going to be hard on Christians. I think that I can write a pretty good article and in no way will I try to be hard on you or your line of thought, may I write this article Jim? Please let me know, I appreciate you Sir.—ted

 

In reply to oldpoet56.

Permission granted. Lol. Yes no problem. I think it’s important to see all the views. Believe no one and find your own conclusions without pressure of all wise pastoral leader to influence and rationalize sense into the senseless. Thanks. I appreciate your openness.

 

In reply to jim-.

Thank you Jim, I always try my best to always be honest with everyone. I know that I am wrong sometimes as I have no illusions of being a ‘know it all’ but I refuse to lie to people. Thank you for your permission, I will try my best to get the article written and posted before I go to bed this evening, I appreciate you Sir.—ted

 

Now that the conversation is posted for you to read I would like to break down the concerns and thoughts that Jim spoke of about Christians. To start off I am going to copy paste most of an article that I wrote this past November 16th of 2017 about the common threads between Science and Divine Creation. This is something that is laid out in Scripture that simply isn’t being taught in the Churches. There are things that theologians are getting wrong because they have always been led down a ‘one sighted’ path so most have never thought to look differently at what the Bible is actually telling us. Next is almost all of the article I spoke of just a moment ago.

 

I am a person that believes that we are all children of the Divine power of God. Yet I know very well from a little over 50 years of studying Scripture that all of the Christian Churches (that I know of), as well as our Jewish friends, have many things wrong right from the beginning of the first Book of the Bible. I totally believe that the Scriptures and Science actually agree on many, many things, in fact, they agree on the vast majority of issues. There is no reason for people who believe that God created all things to be so uptight about things like the big bang theory. I also believe that human beings have evolved greatly from the first Gentiles who have probably been here on this planet for at least a million years. Did we evolve from at least as far back as the Neanderthals, yes, without a doubt? Did we evolve from monkeys or gorillas, no! Did our ancestors crawl up out of the Oceans, no! Is there really such a thing as ‘the missing link’, no! Science has never been able to find the so-called ‘missing link’ because it as never existed, there is a gap between monkeys and mankind, we were never one and the same. If people who believe in a Divine Creator would quit blindly following ‘Church Doctrine’ their eyes might be opened to the truth of what Scripture is really telling all of us.

 

I have written articles here on this blog before about these issues of creation by God and creation by accident. To me, it is ridiculous for Christians to insist that the Earth is about 5,500 to 5,600 years old. To believe that one must not believe the Apostle Peter, the Prophets, or God Himself when we are told that the human day is not God’s day. We are told that a human lifetime, the example of 80 of our years are literally equivalent a blink of an eye compared in God’s time. So, why do we Christians and Jewish believers insist on degrading God down to our level? My Jewish friends please correct me on this next sentence if you believe that I am wrong on what I am about to say.  To me, what I have garnered about the Jewish calendar is that it begins with the time they believe that Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden Of Eden. (You can find this information in the following Los Angles Times Article:

Jewish Calendar Starts With Adam Symbolism

September 23, 1989 |ALLEN S. MALLER | Special to Religious News Service)
I believe that this year would be about year #5578 on the Jewish calendar, I believe that the Jewish New Year begins right after the 10 day Holiday of Yom Kipper. Many Christians consider the birth of Jesus (Yeshiva) to be the beginning of the ‘Christian Calendar’ yet if we really dig into History we will find that the lifespan of Jesus was from 4 B.C. to 29 A.D. The Arabic Calendar begins in the Christian Calendar when Mohammad fled from Medina to Mecca in about year 630 A.D. I do ask my readers who are of the Islamic Faith to drop me a comment if this date is a little bit off and let me know the true date please.
I do say that it seems a bit odd to me though that so many people believe what is being taught from the Pulpits without questioning what they are being taught. Why do people have a Bible in their home or bother taking one to Church if they are never going to study the Scriptures on their own? Even in the times of Jesus and His Apostles when He/they would go into the Synagogue’s to teach, the people there would search the Scriptures daily to see if what they were being taught was correct or not. Why is it that Christians today do not open their Bibles to see if what they are being taught is correct, or not?
Now, I would like to get back to the time of Adam and Eve for a moment. Many people who are looking into the window’s of Christianity dismiss Christianity as idiotic because of the belief that the world began 5-6,000 years ago, and honestly, I can’t blame them. Please, get your hands on a Bible and actually look at the first two chapters of the first Book of the Old Testament, the Book of Genesis. Now please read where it is speaking of the six days of Creation. On the sixth day, God created Men and women and told them to go out into the world and multiply. Then Scripture speaks of how on the seventh day God rested. Then, in the next chapter we are told the story of the creation of Adam, then Eve. This is after the sixth and the seventh day, not during the sixth day at all.
Now, if you think I am crazy, or not, please keep reading. After Adam and Eve were cast out of God’s Garden you will see the story of Adam and Eve’s first two children, the story of Cain and Able. After Cain killed Able God cast him out of this area just outside of the Garden. Now, please think about a few things that we are being told here. When God told Cain that he was being cast out he said that “all those who find me will kill me.” Excuse me, all WHO? Aren’t there only three people on the whole Earth at this time? Aren’t Adam, Eve, and Cain the only people? So all of Who? What did God say and do to Cain at that moment? God put a mark upon the forehead of Cain and said He put it there so that “all of those who find you will not kill you.” Again folks, all of WHO? Then we are told that Cain traveled to the East into the land of Nod and there he took a wife! Wait a moment, where the heck did she come from?
There are many issues that Christianity and the other Faiths in the world have wrong and that is because the base of what they are teaching is corrupted. If your teachings are built on a sandbar there is no way it can stand in the storm of reality. Folks the truth is so plain, it is given to us, but we refuse to see it. God created humankind many thousands, hundreds of thousands or possibly even a million years or so before God created Adam and Eve. Yet, not until God created Adam did He “breathe into him the breath of life and he became a living Soul.” This is not said during the creation of mankind in day six. God created us Gentiles first but He did not create this Royal Bloodline until He created Adam and Eve. Folks, even Jesus Himself referred to us Gentiles as “dogs” because until after His Resurrection was complete we were not counted into the salvation that up until that time was reserved only for the Hebrew Bloodline. I could go on much further in this conversation as there are great errors in the Church’s teachings that are running millions of people far away from Christianity causing their Souls to be given over to Satan for damnation. Folks, we will all answer for our laziness of not caring enough to learn what the Truth is so that we could actually save a lot of these people who are going to be cast into Hell. If we are egotistical enough to believe that their blood will not be upon our own hands, we are not only lazy, we are delusional.
Okay folks, that is the end of that article from last November, I hope that it opened some pathways deep within your mind.
From the early 4th century up until the mid 15th century with the advent of the actions of Martin Luther the Catholic Church was two things to Christianity, an incubator and a destroyer. During the times that humans tend to consider as the ‘dark ages’ the Catholic Church very much helped keep the name of Christ alive yet through their piety they became the ‘Great Whore’ of the Book of Revelation. They stole the Scriptures away from all but the Priests as they felt that the common man was unworthy to be allowed to read the ‘Word of God’. Then of course there is the ignorance of speaking in Latin during Church services to ‘the faithful’. Folks, Scripture is very plain about not speaking in tongues unless you have an interpreter standing beside you letting the people know what it is you are saying. Friends up until the year 1611 when King James of England had his assembled Bible scholars publish the Bible in English for the masses to be able to have and read, you would get hanged or burned at the stake by the Catholic Church for having a Bible. There are many sick hate filled things that the Catholic is guilty of during the past two thousand years and these things mentioned as well as the stigma they have glued to Christianity as a ‘hate filled’ religion is certainly one of them.
Friends, I am going to shut down for the night as it is almost midnight here. Lord willing I will take up on Jim’s comments tomorrow, for now, Shalom.