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Old Aug 18, '11, 8:14 am
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
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Default Picking and planning our battles: going "mainstream" CAF

I really appreciate this little group forum, as might be obvious by how much I've posted in it.

We can come to this "safe haven" and discuss our issues without so much fear of the reaction it causes. It's already given me a feeling of connection and hope, and even made me feel a little closer to the Church and others such as us. But as nice as it is, when we go to "mainstream" CAF or other forums, or even "real life," what can we do then? Do we have to choose between "stuffing" our thoughts or risk starting a pointless fight?

After thousands of posts over seven years at CAF I have noticed a few things about what flies and what doesn't. What gets threads locked by moderators, what results in "dive bomb" attacks and what type of responses to them works or not, etc. I'd like to share our experiences and do some thinking together about how and when to bring up our issues, and when it's time to bite our tongues and wait for a better time and place.

It would be useful to understand where the different people are coming from and what is their point of view, in order to become more effective. I'd like to start by quoting another poster on another thread in this forum that gives a good starting place.

Quote:
Originally Posted by chaunceygardner View Post
What I see happening more and more is a decided split in the Catholic church. On one side is the group who values unwavering adherence to doctrines, rituals and hierarchical authority; and the other side is the group who favors a return to Gospel values and the way of Jesus, and to local control of their faith communities. In the middle of all this is the great majority of the faithful, many of whom do NOT understand or do not agree with every rule and doctrine of the Church (think birth control here), yet remain in the Church, attend Mass, volunteer their services, and contribute money to their parishes. They will be caught in the crossfire. What will happen to them?
So of the three groups, I'd say most of us on this forum are probably in the second or third group, whereas on "mainstream" CAF there are quite a few in the first group.

There are several types of issues that have gotten me into trouble, so I'll try to categorize them a bit.

First, there are issues that are not about dogma, teachings, infallible proclamations, or anything like that. These fall into two subcategories: 1) problems we have with other people and their behavior and attitudes toward others such as ourselves, whether they be religious or lay people, and 2) problems we have with the structure and operation of the church. Issues of these kinds do not present a challenge to the core beliefs Catholics hold to, and IMO we should be able to discuss them relatively freely. Many if not most of the posts in this forum seem to fit into these categories.

Of the two subcategories, even "first group" people understand there are problems with the people. In fact, when you get down to it, whether they like to admit it or not, most all of them have expressed frustration with church leaders in one way or the other. For example, first group people tend to opine that John Paul II erred when he kissed the Quran. They are quick to say that this did not present a serious problem for the authority of church teachings, because in doing so JPII was NOT making a statement about dogma, any infallible proclamations, etc. They chalk it up to an error of good intention and even suggest in passing that maybe he didn't know what he was doing. I'm getting this from an article by apologist Jimmy Akin, with which I don't entirely agree, but looking at it from his side I think it is a fair and informative article.

More recently, in the last couple days I was on a thread discussion whether Father Richard Rohr, a Franciscan, was or wasn't a heretic and worse. I asked one poster if Rohr was really all that bad, then wouldn't the Vatican have dealt with him long ago? He's been a priest for 40 years and a spiritual director for at least 30, and has published numerous books and given many public interviews (here is one on YouTube) so why doesn't the Pope silence him or even take away his priesthood? He answered: "Tell me, and we`ll both know." and "i`m frustrated by the seeming inaction." In a later post he added, "It`s like a paralysis! "

When he wrote that, I immediately felt a connection I hadn't previously felt in the thread. So our differences weren't about whether it's right or wrong to question Church leadership, the differences were just in the particulars of the issue in question.

This offered me a glimmer of hope for better unity between a "group 1" person (where I consider he is) and a "group 3" person (me).

So I think it's safe to say that group 1 and group 3 people both have disagreement with certain actions and behavior of Church leadership. This means that simply questioning authority in general is not a taboo topic. The challenge for me is that "group 1" people who are also challenging and harsh, occasionally use the very leaders whose actions they question, as tools to tell me I'm being disobedient, disrespectful, or worse.

So now I think I'm ready if I get this sort of accusation. To me, it isn't fair to say, "the pope erred on this issue," but then if I have a beef with something the pope does (not on morals or dogma -- will get to that later in the thread) they say I'm being disobedient and disrespectful. If I do get this in the future, I just might ask, "do you consider this an issue of faith and morals? Are you saying the pope is without error on this particular issue?" and if that doesn't work, maybe I can go to the next step, "are you saying that you agree with everything the pope says and does even when it isn't an issue of faith and morals?"

(to be continued)

Alan
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Old Aug 18, '11, 6:28 pm
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chaunceygardner chaunceygardner is offline
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Default Re: Picking and planning our battles: going "mainstream" CAF

There is within that first (docrtinal, authoritarian) group a wide range, which you have noticed. Most on that side think the current and recent popes have been just fine, properly orthodox and conservative. But there is an extreme part of that group who think that some of the actions and pronouncements of these recent popes are wrong, in some cases even heretical. Kissing the Quran and praying with those of other (especially non-Christian) faiths are two examples.

Personally, I find the recent popes to be quite conservative, so I was amazed when I found people who thought Benedict and JP II were "too liberal"!

People in the first group have a problem with those in the middle group, who they consider not Catholic enough. They just contribute the time and money to keep parishes operating. Those in the middle, who are the great majority of the people in the pews (and the majority of those who aren't in the pews each Sunday) generally don't care whether the Pope kisses the Quran or with whom he prays. They ignore all that, just as they ignore or are ignorant about some of the basic doctrines of the church (several studies have reported that half or more of Catholics don't have a "correct" understanding of transubstantiation). Yet they are Catholic.

As the OP stated in another post, some priests, when asked about some of these doctrinal matters, basically tell people not to worry about it. I have personally heard this several times from priests; in fact, I cannot recall ever hearing a priest tell me personally TO worry about whether I understood or believed in a particular doctrine. That occurs in public situations but seems to be rare in private ones.

Of course there are those in Group 1 who would say that all those priests are "bad" and should be removed. But the parish priest does not have the luxury of making doctrinal pronouncements from on high, telling the people what they should think to be "good" Catholics. Priests have to deal with the people and the circumstances and daily issues that involve keeping God centered in the lives of the parishioners. Lofty words will not suffice; it takes a pastoral approach, and condemning people or berating them for their ignorance will not keep people in that middle group coming to Mass.

There have been many recent instances of bishops who have "punished" wayward priests and parishes that have been operated too loosely for their tastes. Bishops have sent conservative, authoritarian, by-the-book pastors to parishes to "clean them up". They remove long term volunteers (often because of their suspected non-orthodoxy) and shut down lay operated programs and ministries. Not surprisingly, often the people have rebelled, either moving to other parishes, stopping their support of their parish, or even taking the amazing step of "breaking away" from the control of the Bishop, by forming a new "parish" or continuing their parish community in another way or at another location. And the priests have usually moved with them! That is astounding! Yet the bishops and the Vatican do not have a clue as to why that would happen. Their usual reaction is to threaten priests and laity, emphasizing authority even more to people who are already saying "enough with your heavy handed authority".

And the band plays on.
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Old Aug 19, '11, 2:59 pm
AlanFromWichita AlanFromWichita is offline
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Default Re: Picking and planning our battles: going "mainstream" CAF

I have seen some promise, but it's hard not to get discouraged. The promise is that there are people who are on Jesus's side and even a few honest ones on the "group 1" side, but it isn't about half empty/half full. More like 95% empty, 5% full.

No matter how many times I quote 1 Cor 9, esp. v 19-23, they don't get it. They steer clear of any comment, even when provoked and even when I specifically challenge them on it after they stayed clear of it the first time. They don't want to hear anything Jesus or St. Paul has to say if it doesn't fit their preconceived notions. They ignore scripture and make references to something a pope said. But they can't give a citation showing it, but since my opinion is different than the "mystery pope" comments, I'm wrong. Of course, when they disagree with the pope, they are wrong. It's amazing how one can be 100% in line with the papacy but still pick and choose which parts of the papacy they agree with.

It's amazing how people stick to their guns, even when there is no evidence on their side and plenty of evidence against them. They can't let anything like Truth, fact, and good teaching get in the way of what they wish to claim as Truth.

I guess my euphoric spell here could be coming to an end soon. :/

Don't get me wrong. CAF has been a critical part of my spiritual development and I owe a great deal to it. It's just that sometimes I think since the days of Jesus when everyone was illiterate, maybe we could have made some progress. I change my mind in a heartbeat when somebody gives me sufficiently compelling evidence that I should. In this day of technology and higher learning, I feel very alone in that regard.

Alan
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Old Aug 22, '11, 1:51 pm
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chaunceygardner chaunceygardner is offline
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Default Re: Picking and planning our battles: going "mainstream" CAF

The verses you reference in 1 Corinthians 9 show a disciple, Paul, who adapts to the needs of those he is working among. Jesus did the same quite often, identifying himself with the poor, the sick, the lost, the shunned. Neither required that their followers must come only from the politically or religiously "correct".

It is sad to note how quickly the church changed from a focus on the Gospel teachings of Jesus to a focus on doctrine and right belief, something Jesus never emphasized. We see that occurring even in the later epistles, and it becomes quite evident by the time of Constantine and the varying views about beliefs that grew into "heresies". One should note that there was no clear, obviously correct view on such things as the nature of Christ or the idea of the Trinity. Scripture did not provide unquestioning support for any particular belief. Rather, adherents of the different viewpoints could claim that nothing in the words of Jesus contradicted their particular view. This was only settled through councils and the eventual imposition of an orthodox position determined by who had the authority and the power of the "throne".

The many doctrines and dogmas that came along later have even less backing from scripture (priestly celibacy), and often less then reputable origins ( indulgences, for example). Yet to even discuss some of those today is tantamount to committing heresy.

The sad fact is that the Church has raised a building of doctrines constructed with the imperfect words and ideas of men in a very haphazard and sometimes contradictory manner, but consider them to be the immutable word or will of God.
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