Bakersfield, while not the most desirable of locations in California, does tend to force one to focus--on survival, in this case. A blog was not going to do it; too much responding to the moment. I would spend my time writing material like what follows, taking out all my issues by writing about someone else's issues. Or something like that.
So, I submerged myself in writing a 160 page memoir covering all the major points in a long and varied life on the farm, in the seminary (including 4 years in Washington in the '60,s), priesthood on campus at the University of Wisconsin (also in the '60's), marriage since then, along with a graduate degree in Religious Studies from Marquette, and following my partner around the globe as she pursued her life in petroleum geology. All to arrive in Bakersfield! Look for it as an e-book, sometime in the near future.
I emerged just in time to hear George Weigel pontificate (oh, yes, I love using that word) on whether or not the new pope would do something about the celibacy law, what with the priest sex abuse problem . So, here's his two major points: first, the "law" is 2000 years old; and second: allowing priests to marry is not going to eliminate child sex abuse (offenders come from every segment of society, even the married); besides, the church has already done something about the problem; it has dismissed the priest perpetrators, and it has set in place safeguards preventing problems in the future. Next question.
I reply: as to the first point, the practice of celibacy is long and hallowed in church history; but it is law only from the 15th or 16th century. And it is law from political, institutional reasons, not from theological reasons.
As to the second point: Paul writes somewhere in one of his Letters, "It is better to marry than to burn." Of course he is not writing about the severe sexual dysfunction of child sex abuse; he is writing about normal sexual function. All the more reason, I would argue, to listen to Paul, not George.
But it's the second part of the second part that makes the case that Weigel suffers from "epistemic closure" (google it); this is nothing more than repeating the talking points of the church hierarchy. There is nothing wrong with what the church has already done; it's what it has not done that is the problem. It has not done the one thing that sets it apart from any other institution, that makes it to be the church; it has not confessed! I don't mean apologize, I mean confess. I mean saying, "We have sinned. Have mercy on us."
And then doing some public penance--like spending two years in Bakersfield!
Talk to you later.
Friday, March 1, 2013
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