Tag Archive | "progressive religion"

The Progressive Church That Will Never Come

Imagine this hypothetical situation:

The progressive Catholics have split from the Vatican to form their own church. They’ve called it the New Catholic Church.

A handful of progressive bishops have taken the place of the Pope as its leaders, and none of them call themselves infallible. Completing the clergy are progressive priests and theologians, mostly Jesuits, who feel exhilarated by the freedom to openly air their opinions without fear of being censured, excommunicated, or fired.

Unlike the Roman Catholic Church, the New Catholic bishops are in constant dialogue with their priests. Theologians thrive as their expertise is sought sincerely. Best of all, the laity are also given a voice. They’re invited to pastoral committee hearings on relevant social issues such as contraception, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and freedom of conscience. It seems like for the first time in centuries, progress is possible.

Progressive Church

Because most Roman Catholics were progressive, the New Catholic Church now outnumbers the Roman Catholic one significantly. And because the Roman Catholic Church is no longer the predominant religion, few politicians pander to them. The drop in donations has forced them to start using their billions in investment, which they have also been using to settle clerical abuse cases. More families are pressing charges with the New Catholic Church urging and supporting them to speak out.

Meanwhile, the New Catholic Church, being the biggest religion, has a steady flow of donations that has allowed them to build simple churches, unlike the luxurious Roman Catholic ones. Most of their funds are spent on charity instead of partisan political campaigns and causes. And none of it is used to settle abuse cases out of court; they report the rare offender to the police and fully cooperate with the authorities so that justice is ensured.

Having learned from the dangers political meddling, the New Catholic Church focuses on the well-being of its flock, avoiding partisan politics and fully respecting the separation of church and state. This has allowed legislation to proceed more smoothly, with the blackmail and fear mongering of the Roman Catholic Church falling on the ears of few conservative politicians.

New Catholics are thriving in their new religion, where they agree with the moral position of their priests and bishops, never again having to withhold tithes or walk out of sermons. Their personal views no longer conflict with their Church’s teachings, and educating the youth is now a cooperative effort between parents, teachers, and priests, each lesson based on scientific evidence and humanistic ethics.

Now. In this hypothetical future, if you are a progressive Catholic who still belongs to the Roman Catholic Church, would you join the New Catholic Church? Remember that the progressive priests and theologians who have made your religion bearable have already left to join this new one. Most of your progressive friends and relatives have also converted.

Would you remain a Roman Catholic when your views on so many social issues are at odds with the clergy? Would you tithe and pay for sacraments in a conservative church when you could so easily get the same experience in its progressive counterpart? What good reasons are there to remain Roman Catholic?

Hans Kung, one of the most prominent Catholic theologians today, has long urged progressive Catholics to revolt, but to no avail.


I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that most progressive Catholics would convert to this New Catholicism in a heartbeat. I believe that this is the ideal situation every progressive Catholic hopes would happen inside the Roman Catholic Church. The only problem is, this is not going to happen.

The conservatives in the Vatican are in full control, and because they’re a dictatorship, the opinions of the majority don’t matter. The only way progressive Catholics can get their ideal situation is by forming their own institution outside the Roman Catholic Church.

And this is precisely the problem. To make the New Catholic Church possible, they have to leave the Roman Catholic Church. Every person has to leave on their own. And someone has to start it. But who would begin such an exodus?

The youth would probably be the most willing. But their youth might be a turnoff to those who are so used to getting guidance from more mature men.

The older progressives are more authoritative, but they’re probably too settled into their Roman Catholic routine, with careers and families taking up most of their time, that taking on such a big change would be too much to ask. Not to mention they still wouldn’t be authoritative enough for those who look for a sense of the sacred in their leaders.

Progressive priests and theologians would have this holy authority. But compared to the laity, they would be risking their careers, their livelihoods. They would need to rely on their savings because while starting a new religion they wouldn’t have a source of income.

Bishops probably have enough saved up. But the way the Vatican has been screening bishops since Vatican II, finding even one progressive bishop is a challenge in itself, and such a person would be risking the most in terms of the wealth and influence he would have to give up.

That leaves no one.

Conservative Church

I believe that every individual needed for this New Catholic Church is already here. Majority of Roman Catholics who now have more progressive views than their conservative counterparts and clergy. A group of dissenting priests and theologians who have been expressing their progressive ideals more and more publicly. Enough ideological and theological conflict in many core beliefs to make forming a new religion necessary. And enough shortcomings of the Roman Catholic Church to make leaving it, ceasing to further support its bigotry, an ethical necessity.

But progressive Catholics have to start somewhere. Each of them would join this New Catholic Church if it is ever formed. But few, if any, of them would be willing to leave the Roman Catholic Church to start it.

Progressive Catholics will be content to bear their burden together, comforting each other with their shared dissent, hoping for change but knowing in their hearts that it will never come. Meanwhile, the Vatican thrives with power, arrogance, and impunity, never having to worry about the progressive church that will never come.

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Don’t Think, Just Obey: Progressive Nuns and the Primacy of Conscience

Despite disagreeing with bishops on almost every political issue of controversy — contraception, LGBT rights, etc. — many progressives maintain their Catholic identity for one reason: primacy of conscience. But this doctrine is misunderstood, as I elaborated in my previous post on primacy.

Long story short, primacy of conscience means that a Catholic must always act consistently with her conscience. However, a Catholic’s first duty is to always have a conscience that’s consistent with the Church. Taken out of context, primacy seems to grant Catholics freedom. Taken in context, however, primacy gives Catholics freedom to do only what the Church tells them — which is not really freedom at all.

I strongly suggest that you read the entire post; I believe it has enough good reasons to convince most that primacy is a fallacy (at least in the way progressives usually understand it). Yet some still refuse to accept that a Catholic’s first duty is to obey, and I can sympathize; it implies that Catholics are intellectually enslaved.*

If the post doesn’t convince you, nothing I say will be enough. But maybe the Vatican’s recent actions will change your mind.

Progressive Nuns of the United States

While continuing to protect pedophile priests around the world, the Vatican is waging a war on nuns.

Why? After some investigation, the Vatican concluded that the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)**, the largest group of nuns in the States, are apparently “radical feminists” who neglect their Catholic duty to fight contraception, defeat the gay agenda, and publicly agree with bishops’ political positions. (They were apparently too distracted by such relatively insignificant goals as feeding the poor and healing the sick.)

The LCWR’s offenses are so complex and countless that they’ve been assigned a babysitter supervising bishop and given up to 5 years to make their organization more consistently bigoted Catholic.

This space may not be enough, so instead of expounding, I’ll let former Nun Mary Johnson, who served with billionaire hypocrite Mother Teresa for 20 years, summarize the situation (emphasis added):

“The main complaint is that sisters are thinking for themselves,” she says. “No one says it in those words, but that’s the bottom line: you’re thinking for yourself, and we don’t like that.”

“The Catholic Church has long recognized that an individual’s first duty is to obey his or her conscience, but the bishops say that any conscience that conflicts with their teaching is a conscience in error.”

“Any questioning is seen as disloyal, even heretical—bishops aren’t used to being questioned.”

“The Vatican works like a dictatorship. They want blind obedience, as opposed to thoughtful ideas. The bishops insist that a faithful Catholic must submit to them.”

Don’t Think, Just Obey

The Vatican’s message to the US nuns — and to every progressive Catholic — can’t be any clearer. There may be some progressive theologians who disagree, but there’s a reason all they’re allowed is speculation and theory.

In practice, liberal bishops, dissenting priests, and progressive nuns know that the Vatican preaches only one kind of primacy: the primacy of obedience.

* The word “heretic” comes from the Greek “hairetikos,” which means “able to choose.” Heretics are those who choose their own beliefs, despite the doctrines of the Church. Following this definition, is a Catholic then one who is “disabled to choose”?

Although the worst punishment for a heretic is now excommunication — essentially being sentenced to Hell — the Church used to be so impatient that they’d start eternal damnation while the heretic is still alive, inventing all kinds of torture to simulate Hell on Earth.

** The way the Vatican is treating the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (and women in general), they probably think LCWR stands for “Let’s Crap on Women’s Rights”

Comic source: http://stmedia.startribune.com/images/548*425/sack043012.jpg

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