Forces advocating change in the Catholic Church clashed with the church establishment Saturday at St. John Vianney Church.Loyalty oaths? I guess some of us are still riding on the "refusing to learn anything from history" train. And as for that masters thesis found to be so objectionable?
The issue was the firing last week of Ruth Kolpack from her job as pastoral associate of St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit.
The firing came in a meeting with Bishop Robert Morlino. Kolpack said Morlino asked her to renounce her master’s thesis, make a profession of faith and take a loyalty oath.
But heaven forbid we, as humans, strive to become more egalitarian, more compassionate, more inclusive in all things. Because apparently a centuries old text, written by men living in a very different time with very different understandings of morality and equality, should be considered infallible. This sense of refusing to grow and learn baffles me - it is, essentially, the worst kind of anti-intellectualism. It's saying that everything we can and should know has already been carved in stone, and to study those words or to come to different conclusions based on new evidence and reinterpretations is heresy.
Kolpack said her thesis discussed the evil that can come of blind obedience. She said she can understand how that could be a red flag for the bishop.
“But if he would’ve read the whole paper, he would’ve understood it... he didn’t give it a chance,” she said.
The thesis also criticizes the church’s language of worship, which refers to God with words such as “he” or “Father.”
Kolpack said that’s harmful.
“I’m concerned about women, about young girls, who grow up in a patriarchal, male-dominated society. What does it do to their self-esteem?” she said.
But that's what the people in power prefer. If the hoi polloi were to start questioning the very foundations upon which these officials base their authority, well, they'd be plum out of a job. It's happened before, and they're fools to think it won't happen again.
My favorite (ie: the most outrageous) part of the article comes in the form of a quote, though:
Spokesman Brent King said that Catholics owe obedience to their pastor, bishop and the pope, because they represent Jesus.I admit that it's difficult for me to understand why anyone could claim to be a direct representative of a man who died 2,000-odd years ago, or of a spiritual entity that goes far beyond physical being. I suspect that it results from one of two things: True delusion, or full knowledge that it's a bullshit claim but still useful in attaining a position of great influence.
My father is a pastor, and he has never claimed to "represent Jesus" (but then, he's a dirty Protestant). Rather, most clergy worth their salt simply claim to be dedicated and tireless scholars of their chosen religions, interested in sharing their knowledge and ideas, and in attempting to bring some degree of order and kindness to their fellow man.
Too many fall far short of that noble goal, though, when they get caught up in the desire for authority, glory, riches, etc. And their all-too common weaknesses sometimes lead to things like war, oppression, and senseless struggle.
So I'm glad there are people like Kolpack who are willing to keep searching, keep trying to improve the ways in which we seek truth, compassion, justice and greater meaning in life. I just wish their were fewer Morlinos to stand in their way.