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 Blooming Stars

Autocracy is a Sin – 4

            Currently the Pope selects and appoints Cardinals who follow his line of thinking, and who swear fealty to him as a tenant in olden days swore loyalty to a feudal lord. This, I do not think, will be approved by Christ who came to set all humans free by proclaiming the Glorious liberty of God’s children. The cardinals serve their time at the Pope’s pleasure. The pope is the absolute monarch for life. And when he dies, the new pope is elected by secret ballots in a secret conclave by cardinals appointed by him. Thus the vicious cycle is complete. The pope is not accountable to the members of the Church. Interestingly all this is done in the name of God. According to a self-serving theology, this is the way God wills things. Of course anyone who differs from this peculiar theology is going against the will of God! There is no Godly reason for this. There is no need for this. Things do not have to be this way. I cannot see Christ approving this anachronistic feudal system discredited long ago. This system has to go. The hand-writing on the wall is very clear.

            Organizations clamoring for reform in the Catholic Church are springing up in different parts of the world. A news report (Indo-Asian News Service, New Delhi, and December 13, 2012) stated that over hundred countries and organizations declared their support to rebels fighting the autocratic government of the dictator, Bashar Al-Assad, in Syria. Now it is a question only of time as the international community is going to exert its will on this dictatorship. Interestingly Russia portraying itself as a democracy intervened on behalf of the dictator to keep him in power. That is the nature of international politics played by major powers to keep their own sphere of influence disregarding democratic process and human process. Autocrats rarely leave their power on their own. They have to be forced out. There is no need to bring an out-dated theological system in the Catholic Church to prop up an out-dated autocratic system. A patriarchal, autocratic system and a “spiritual” dictatorship that unjustly keep out about half of humanity, women, from its power structure cannot carry on in the name of Christ. It is clearly unthinkable in this day and age.

            Fear of the devil was strong in the minds of the Catholics especially in the 16th century. Misogyny in the middle Ages has its origin in the thinking that woman, the daughter of Eve, plays the diabolical role of tempting men to evil. When I was initiated into religious life in the Jesuit Order in 1958 at the age of 18, there were clear guidelines with regard to modesty and custody of the eyes, and what part of the body of a woman to be look at and what part to be avoided when one was in the presence of a woman. There was a certain fear of and preoccupation with sinning. Woman obviously was considered to be a temptress who would occasion sin for men.

            And most of the sins were related to sexuality anyway! This kind of negative spirituality and thinking dealt a heavy blow to the equality of men and women. It also diminished responsibility for a man’s intention and action. Ultimately it did no good to women or men. Unfortunately, this kind of thinking persists in some form even today, and plays some role in not ordaining women to priesthood. A woman priest with her body contours and curvatures could be a distraction for men. Why should not a nice-looking male priest be equally distracting to women? In my clinical practice I was made aware that the intensity of female libido (sexual drive) is not really any less from that of a man. The libido in men and women is expressed differently. Except male-dominated tradition there is no cogent theological reason against the ordination of women.

            Pope John XXIII through the Second Vatican Council attempted to open the tightly shut windows of the Catholic Church to let in some fresh air in. Pope John Paul II and Cardinal Ratzinger, who is the present Pope*, shut in effect the very partially opened windows in that no substantive and meaningful reforms in the Catholic Church took place. They played lip-service to the much anticipated reforms while all the time appeasing and catering to the reactionaries. Persons who vowed obedience and celibacy are leaving religious organizations and hierarchical priesthood. Young persons do not feel inspired to take their places. In fact I am really surprised at myself for saying things that it would have been unthinkable for me to say a few years ago. Everything that I write comes after prayerful discernment. I have spent 25 years of the most important years (from 17 years of age to 42 years) of my life under the vow of obedience and celibacy (chastity).

            Most religious who leave do not leave on account of the vow of poverty. I do not expect the bishops and the pope to like what I am writing. But the truth needs to be told. The possibility of rejection by this world should not stop anyone from telling things for what they are. The reality as I discern God’s will is that the present pope and the magisterium are not truly responsive to the needs of the members of the Catholic Church. They are not representative of the members of the Catholic Church and as such they are illegitimate. They have lost their credibility. There is no theology that can legitimize them. The current theology of the pope being the Vicar of Christ**, who does not represent the collective will of the members, is going to go the same way the theology of the divine right of kings. We need to accept in awe that the sincere, discerning will of everyone is created by the same one God.


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