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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Church and Secularism

The Pope's resignation has stimulated many news articles about the Roman Catholic Church.

Last Sunday there was an article about Cardinal Archbishop Whurl of DC who, perhaps waging his own campaign for office, said that the next Pope must be able to evangelize Fallen Away Roman Catholics to renounce the secularism into which they have tumbled and return to the Church.

Bishop Whurl just doesn't get that many of us FARCs have left the RC Church precisely because we wanted to deepen our spirituality. As I argued earlier, Whurl, like other religious leaders, misunderstands the meaning of the secular.  We FARCs see that the RCC in its doctrine, its ritual, and especially its authority 1) puts off radical transformation to some other time and space, e.g. assumption into heaven or spiritual body resurrection, and 2) separates the sacred from the secular, spirit from body, father sun from mother earth. So doing, it supports a political economy that encourages a consumer culture that is destroying our habitat and each other.

We who have left the authority structure of the RC Church have not abandoned the sacred in life, action, and creation. Nor have we left the universal congregation of the faithful. We place ourselves in and ally ourselves with many congregations, including many secular and religious communities of women and men (in and out of affiliation with Roman authority) which are seeking cultural, economic, and political justice.

Most of us who have left the RCC authority structure have so done because we want to be part of a congregation that exemplifies solidarity, integrity, inclusiveness in the path of Jesus and his earliest desciples (which I learned in catechism are the marks of the true ecclesia). These are congregations that exclude no one from the table, that act in concert to ensure that people of color, women, immigrants, gay and lesbian persons, and the poor have equity, and that place no priestly or patron class over or between persons and the fulfillment of their potential here and now.

Bishop Whurl cannot see, much less accept, that.  His identity and his power are totally wrapped up in the organization of authority of the RCC.

Perhaps Joe Ratzinger now does see that. Perhaps this is why, like us FARCs, he resigned. I pray so.

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Update: Just learned that Joe is keeping his Popename, the white dress, and staying in the Vatican. So my prayers were not answered.

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