April 30, 2012
Fifth Sunday of Easter [May 6, 2012]
I am unashamed to say that I have been a subscriber to The National Catholic Reporter for close to thirty years. The NCR, as it is commonly known, was first founded by a group of young adult Catholic laymen; hence the second line on the main page says that it is a lay catholic weekly (bi weekly these days, given the economy).
At any rate, being edited and published by lay people, one can expect less surveillance and supervision by the hierarchy. Some may say that this could put the “Catholicity of the paper into question. Others will say, predictably, that it’s the only way to get to objectivity in the news.
Having said all that, I want to add that Catholic news events seem to be popping faster than a bi-weekly Catholic newspaper can absorb them.
Hence, in recent times one must access Catholic news on NCR on line because they occur so rapidly. Indeed, several major Catholic news events may occur within the space of one hour.
I wanted to preface this homily with that piece of information because of the number of disquieting Catholic events that have happened around the world over the past several weeks.
A short description of each event will need to suffice: First, the sexual scandal within the religious community called the Legionnaires of Christ. Secondly, the schismatic Catholic group calling itself The Society of Pius X has separated itself from Rome over issues of the Second Vatican Council. Third, the scandal concerning Bishop Williamson, an Englishman (a member of the Society of Pius X) who claims that the numbers of Jews killed in the Holocaust was much fewer than reported. Thirdly, and some few years ago, the Vatican initiated an investigation of American seminaries for irregularities. Finally, just today (April 15, 2009) the Vatican launched an investigation of alleged irregularities of LCWR, (Leadership Conference of Women Religious) the elected group that represents roughly 95% of American religious sisters.
In addition to such disturbing major issues there are also serious issues noted in the NCR of Catholic individuals who are censured by a local ordinary (bishop) for “irregularities”.
I make no judgment on any of these issues, but what seems evident to me is that there is an increasing number of individuals or groups, initially Roman Catholic, who have broken from the center of the faith. Of course, there have always been such “uprisings” in the Church, all of which seems to indicate that Jesus’ explicit desire for one flock, one shepherd that we read of so clearly in this Sunday’s gospel, is far from fully realized. Even the earliest days of the apostolic church had its unique differences of opinion and practice.
On the other hand, if our Church is to be described as one, holy, Catholic and apostolic, such historical separations from the core of our Church can hardly be beneficial to the Body of Christ.
Personally, I would consider it a privilege and a responsibility to belong to the community that Christ founded even though I may have my share of differences with its leadership. Jesus is still the vine and we are the branches whether we consider ourselves grapes, oranges, apples red-hot chili peppers or whatever.
It is unity that will make us strong. Nothing is accomplished by formally or informally separating ourselves from Christ’s church. Personally speaking, I would feel rather lonely out there in the world if I did not have the Church to support me. But does that stop me, or any Catholic, from speaking out regarding critical issues that affect us in the Church or the world today? I would hope not. If we consider ourselves branches of the vine that is Christ we should consider it a right to appeal to the vine. I can imagine Jesus Christ saying: Hey, that’s okay; we’re part of one another, right?
Posted by Cindy Lentine on April 30, 2012 02:05 PM.