Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Buffalo Diocese Sponsors Speaker who calls Structure of the Church "Oppressive"

See Buffalo News article

Interesting that the Diocese of Buffalo would sponsor a speaker who believes that the visible structure of the Church is wrong or worse:

" The main problem affecting the contemporary church, Lakeland said, is that it operates out of a structure of oppression. "One thing that's clear is that the laity has no official role in leadership or governance," Lakeland said. "I'm not saying that the bishops are running around and hitting people over the head, but people are kept in infantilized positions."

Checking the Vatican II document Lumen Gentium, I find a different view...

8. Christ, the one Mediator, established and continually sustains here on earth His holy Church, the community of faith, hope and charity, as an entity with visible delineation (9*) through which He communicated truth and grace to all. But, the society structured with hierarchical organs and the Mystical Body of Christ, are not to be considered as two realities, nor are the visible assembly and the spiritual community, nor the earthly Church and the Church enriched with heavenly things; rather they form one complex reality which coalesces from a divine and a human element.(10*) For this reason, by no weak analogy, it is compared to the mystery of the incarnate Word. As the assumed nature inseparably united to Him, serves the divine Word as a living organ of salvation, so, in a similar way, does the visible social structure of the Church serve the Spirit of Christ, who vivifies it, in the building up of the body.(73) (11*)"

By saying that the visible hierarchical Church is somehow bad in its very structure is different than saying that some of the Bishops, Priests and others do bad things. Now we are all mad at the Bishops who are responsible for causing the "scandal" that has plagued the Church and has cost the Church in America over $1 Billion dollars, causing the closing of Churches and the reduction of programs for the faith. It is difficult for sure for us as adult professional catholics to take such incompetence seriously. However, they are still Bishops and surely we pray that God will have mercy on their souls.

But to call the structure oppressive reminds me of the Liberation Theology ideas from the 1980's. This attempt to look at faith using the intellectual structure of dialectical materialism has long been discredited. I agree with his ideas about how the Protestant churches have lay people doing many things for the Church. In fact, a Lutheran Priest I knew many years ago told me that he was shocked at what goes on in some Catholic liturgies and his Choir Guild ladies would shoot him if he departed from the Lutheran Liturgy with such abandon. Unfortunately, it is hard to implement. And we will discuss that later.

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