PROGRESSIVE ROMAN CATHOLICS
Roman Catholics who gladly embrace the liturgical changes of Vatican II and
the ecumenical advances of these days. They go further, modernizing Roman
Catholicism in many ways: using women in liturgical functions, calling
priests by their first names, decorating churches with "evangelical"
slogans instead of statues, shunning conservative words like limbo and
purgatory. Many also urge the ordination of women to the priesthood, relief
for divorced and re-married Catholics, some question the virgin birth and
original sin and do not believe in a personal devil or angels. Some
progressive priests use "do-it-yourself liturgies" that use Ry-Krisp and
whiskey instead of bread and wine. Others attack traditional teachings on
contraception, clerical celibacy, the necessity of baptism and the physical
resurrection of the body.
They are widely diverse, but easy to witness to because they are so open.
They usually believe all sincere people will get to Heaven, so it is
difficult to establish a basis for discussion with them.
From INTRODUCING CONTEMPORARY CATHOLICISM by Theo Weston. "(They) tried to
hammer out improvements in Christianity in order to restore the relevance
of it to our age, which it had quite obviously lost in rather frightening
"Pope Greogory condemned freedom of conscience as a dangerous error; it
is a relief that this has now been put straight.
"As `Mass' became less communal, it became more ritualistic with greater
emphasis on actual body and blood. This led to superstitions (biting the
host, etc.,") and was explained by St. Thomas Aquinas in Aristotlian terms
substance and accidents.
"When Cardinal Alfrink of Holland cooly observed in defense of his Dutch
theologians that Holland has over 75% practicing Catholics and Italy only
15%, he was asked not to explain any further.
"The Curia is a body without theological significance but a purely human
institution which has grown up around ther Papacy during the Middle Ages.
41 of 47 are still Italian (1967).
"Many Dutch theologians intimate that the perpetual virginity of
Christ's mother may be a myth. `It is more modern,' says one, `to believe
that Christ was the son of Mary and Joseph.'"
Progressive Priest Andrew Greeley in TV GUIDE, 10/27/84, said, "Some of us
like our vocations so much that we will not leave even if the clowns
presently running the church try to throw us out."
From TIME, 9/28/70. Report of The Brussels Declaration. "225 theologians,
mostly Catholic, met to discuss `The Future of the Church.' They called for
more democratic methods of choosing the Pope, bishops and priests, for
pluralism in both theology and church structure, and urged investigation of
a role for women in the ministry. The congress proved an array of
theologican superstars including Edward Schillebeeckx and Hans Kung. They
expressed solidarity with those working for the liberation of men; among
the prisoners singled out were seven Dominicans accused of being members of
a terrorist group and the Berrigan brothers, now in prison for destroying
US Govermnment draft files. They further suggested that the church should
examine seriously the possible role of women in the ministries, and sought
for a recognition that the magisteriumn of the church and the theologians
serve one same Christian message."
From TIME, 8/18/67 re Dutch Catechism. "Conservative Dutch laymen objected
to the Catechism's comments on the Virgin Birth and original sin. The Dutch
theologians deliberately left open the question of Mary's biological
virginity. Conservatives say that the new catechism contravenes official
church teaching on the Eucharist, birth control, man's soul and the
existence of angels."
From INDEPENDENT PRESS-TELEGRAM, Long Beach, CA 7/24/74. Quotes are from
Rev. Peter Riga, theologian of St. Mary's College, Moraga, CA. "`True
Christianity neither needs nor should it desire such a fallacious prop. As
we move further into modern history, belief in a personal devil will only
prove more and more an embarrassment to true Christianity.' He says that
although the Bible includes many references to angels and devils, modern
scripture study indicates that they are not necessarily `personal entities'
and `probably are symboolic of reality.' He says belief in a personal devil
`has never been officially defined by the Church.'"
From NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE, Fall 1982. GOING MY WAY by Andrew Greeley.
"As many as a fifth of the priests and nuns in this country have left the
active ministry, and a higher proportion of nuns have withdrawn from
religious life, while the number of young men enrolled in seminaries is
less that a third of what it was in the early 1900s. Bishops can no longer
count on pastors to obey them. Pastors cannot assume that their religious
associates will do what they are told. And many parish priests have learned
that they must consult with, and not command, the laity. In direct defiance
of Rome many parish priests permit women to act as Acolytes at Mass.
"`If the Pope comes to our parish we won't use them that day,' says one
pastor. Elected Parish Councils challenge the authority of pastors. Local
school boards demand the right to set policies and budgets, even to hire
staff. . . Ry-Krisp and whiskey instead of bread and wine are taken for
granted in many places."
From TIME, 3/31/67. "`Orthodoxy is the tragedy of Christianity' says the
Rev. Joos Arts, the priest-editor of a Catholic weekly called DE NIEUWE
LINIE. `What we need is a re-thinking of all the basic Christianity. We
must break away from the formal dogmas of the Catholic Church.' Methodical
Dutch theologians are doing just that. Among the first to attack the
Church's traditional teaching on contraception and clerical celibacy,
priests and laymen are now questioning everything from the virginity of
Mary to the traditional view that premarital intercourse is sinful.
"Dominican theologian Edward Schillebeeckx, an expert at the Second
Vatican Council, proposed that the Resurrection of Jesus may not have been
a physical recomposition of his body but a unique kind of spiritual
manifestation. `One generally likes to consider his Resurrection,' he says,
`as being the impact of his personality on his disciples and his presence
in the hearts of all Christians.'"
"`Dutch theologians also reject original sin as an inherited spiritual
stigma on the soul, instead regarding the doctrine as a symbolic way of
expressing the truth that man exists in a sinful, imperfect world. For that
reason, some thinkers question the need to baptize infants.
"`To say that a human being is born damned and continues to be damned
unless he is baptized is utter nonsense,' says Lay Theologian Daniel de
Lange, secretary of the Netherlands' ecumenical center. Heaven and Hell?
Dominican theologian William van der Marck shrugs them off as a myth.
`Heaven and hell just do not pre-occupy us any more.'"
From THE CATHOLIC VOICE, Oakland, CA 11/1/76. Report on Call to Action
Conference in Detroit 10/21-23/76. "Participants called on the U.S. Bishops
to push for the oridination of women to the priesthood, grant relief to
divorced and remarried Catholics and stopped just short of urging
Reader's comment in THE CATHOLIC VOICE, Oakland, CA. "The recent Vatican
`directive' on liturgical abuses will insure a revival of triumphalism. It
seems like the Roman bureaucracy succeeding locating the window opened by
John XXIII to let in the light of day and, of course, fresh air. Needless
to say, they are proceeding to shut that window. We are being shoved back
through time. A few more `shoves' and we might make it back to the Council
of Trent. This trend makes me somewhat less than enthusiastic. One wonders
when the `directive' will arrive instructing the hierarchy to admonish the
laity to practice the virtue of humility by accepting their authentic role
in Church, namely, to pay, pray and obey."
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