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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Renewal and reform

On this great and glorious feast of St. Bonaventure, Seraphic Doctor of the Church, several things converge. Bonaventure is one of 33 Doctors of the Church. You'd think by now it would be cured.

Alas today we have yet another self-inflicted wound as the Vatican issued a "clarification" that only confused people more. In it they stream-lined the procedure for defrocking pedophile priests, bishops and even Cardinals, put lay people on the judicial panel reviewing these cases and added child pornography to the list of things that could get a cleric booted. Still strangely silent is any mention of disciplinary action against bishops whose duplicity and/or incompetence perpetrated the scandal for decades (unless you consider being appointed to a plum position as pastor of one of Rome's major basilicas a punishment.)

Worse, that same document elevated the "attempted ordination of women" to the category of "grievous sin" on par with sexually abusing a child. Hello? A Vatican spokesman hastened to clarify the clarification that one was a moral sin while the other a sacramental sin. Huh? Advocates for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (S.N.A.P.) were outraged as were women's groups and ordinary people with consciences. But of course these are a small minority of those real Catholics who come to church and pay their offering and shut their eyes, ears and mouth, so who cares what they think, right?

Enter St. Bonaventure. He was the eighth Minister General of the then still young Franciscan movement. He strove to link the heart of Francis of Assisi with the intellect of his contemporary, Thomas Aquinas. He opined the more one loves God, the more one would want to study about God; and the more one studies about God, the more one would love God.

It was both a logical and emotional wedding of two trends in Catholicism, so naturally he was vehemently opposed by those in his Order as well as those in the Church.

We here at the Center mourn the passing of the spirit of Vatican II. We give lip service to the reformation of the Church and the renewal of Maryknoll, both of which must take place if either is to survive.

But we are the Church. And even more so, we are Maryknoll. Want to renew the Society? Then do it. Be the Maryknoller you think the Society needs you to be. Want to reform the Church? Good luck with that. But renewing Maryknoll would reform the Church!

Today's gospel gives the solution: "Come to me all who labor and are heavy burdened, and I will give you rest. Take up my yoke and learn from me, for I am meek and humble of heart."

Ultimately, the renewal of Maryknoll and reformation of the Church are God's work. If we do our part and it is God's will, it will succeed. If we don't and it isn't, it won't matter.

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