Monday, November 13, 2006

God Help Us

It seems the Catholic Church in its infinite wisdom is doing its best to alienate even more of its dwindling flock. It's not enough that attendance at Sunday mass is at an all time low across America, that there is a shortage of priests or that diocese left and right are filing for bankruptcy protection what with all those pesky sex abuse suits pending, but now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is voting on "Guidelines for Helping Catholics Prepare for Receiving Communion."

"Helping"--isn't that nice of them?

At the conference the bishops will be discussing how to teach core (read archaic) Catholic values to the otherwise uninvolved of the faith. In other words they will be making sure that marriage is restricted to one man and one woman and teaching people to use the rhythm method of birth control (or "Vatican Roulette" as my mother's OB/GYN used to call it). Sure boys, that'll pack 'em in!

In terms of who is "eligible" to receive communion, there are no surprises here:

The statement reiterates Church teaching that with few exceptions, only those who are members of the Catholic Church may receive Holy Communion at a Catholic Eucharist...but should refrain from the sacrament when they find themselves no longer in a state of grace because of mortal sin...Catholics who are conscious of committing any mortal sin must receive the Sacrament of Penance before receiving Holy Communion. Catholics should also refrain from Holy Communion...when they lack adherence to what the Church authoritatively teaches on matters of faith and morals...

Now, what is a mortal sin exactly? As I recall from my Catholic upbringing that's the big stuff. You know, murder, birth control, etc. I'm not sure if "sins of the flesh" are venial or mortal, but certainly gay sex is a no-no. So basically even though none of us are murderers no one in my family with the possible exception of my parents will be going up for communion at midnight mass this year.

I also recall from my Catholic upbringing the mass already takes into account those souls who may not be in a state of grace upon receiving communion by having the congregation say "Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed." As I understand it, this acts as a green light for pretty much anyone in the church. I also recall that in a pinch saying a quick Act of Contrition will clear your soul for a direct flight to heaven in the event of any life threatening situation. So I imagine it would work for communion, too. (By the way, did you know that anyone can perform an emergency baptism? Well, it's true.)

Also on the agenda at the conference: Guidelines for Ministry to Persons with Homosexual Inclination. When I first started reading this article I was actually pretty encouraged by things like this:

The document says the Church teaches that persons with a homosexual inclination must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity, and it condemns all forms of violence, scorn, and hatred, whether subtle or overt. Those who would minister in the name of the Church must in no way contribute to such injustice, the guidelines state.
But alas, a few paragraphs down they hit you with this:
The guidelines state that while the Church teaches that homosexual acts are immoral, there is a distinction between engaging in homosexual acts and having a homosexual orientation. While the former is always sinful, the latter is not.
So, go ahead, Mary--be gay as a clutch purse on Tony night! Just don't have any sex. Or better yet, join the priesthood, be celebate and pretend you don't have a sexuality at all. We all know how well that works.

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At 6:44 PM, Blogger Donald said...

Love that last paragraph - well said.

At 11:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

whatever we can all do to make each of us feel a little more isolated... sad.. thanks for your post... well written :)

At 11:58 PM, Blogger kevin said...

A very interesting post. I am not sure why religions ARE PERSECUTING THEMSELVES.

Wishing you a great day.
Kevin in New Zealand

At 12:07 AM, Blogger judy said...

Somebody needs to show me where Christ ever turned anyone away from His table. These poor Bishops are so busy trying to make themselves feel important that they forget the most important commandment according to Jesus was: "Love the Lord God with your whole heart and your whole soul and love your neighbor as yourself." There was no memtion about conditional reception of the eucharist in any account I've ever read of the last supper. Here's a suggestion boys, how about you get excited about genocide, war and child abuse and don't worry so much about someone who wants to receive the "body of Christ", or for that matter wants to commit themselves to sharing their life with the person they love. I know God doesn't get depressed, but He surely must get disappointed from time to time.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the elaboration, Mike. Do you ever wonder who would crucify Jesus if he were alive today?

Yeah, you know the answer.

At 4:59 PM, Blogger farmboyz said...

Concerning your statements about mortal sin:
a) you can't erase it (according to the Catholic Church) by a simple private act of contrition. You need to receive the sacrament of Penance (Confession) through a priest. Interestingly, some sins which used to be defined as mortal are nolonger mortal : eating meat on Friday, for example. Gay sex is mortal, as is missing Mass on Sunday (or the vigil on Saturday night).
b) When Cardinal Keeler (commonly known among American priests as "Ruby")and two clergy buddies were in a serious car accident while touring Italy, they heard each others confessions while waiting for the ambulance. Only one of them died. The other two now have the goods on each other!
c) The present day American Catholic Church would be laughable if it wasn't so mean-spirited and paranoid. All the wise and talented gay men who once ministered beautifully to their flock have left in disgust, leaving only fools to steer the ship.


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