My World of Religion, Politics, Entertainment and Social Issues

If you are visiting my blog, expecting to see 'Toward a Progressive Catholic Church,' I have changed my title to reflect my wide assortment of interests. Having retired from my secular job, I hope to devote the rest of my life to my hobbies, ministries and perhaps a part-time job that makes good use of my communications skills. This blog will be designed to address my multi-faceted interests.

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Location: Rochester, New York, United States

I have an M.A. in Theology and an M.Div (Master of Divinity) from St. Bernard's School of Theology and Ministry. I am currently a media consultant and promoter of classical music. I am also certified as an officiant by the Federation of Christian Ministries for baptisms, weddings and funerals and minister independently of the Rochester Diocese. My life has encompassed many interesting paths: broadcasting, free-lance writing, video-production, music, ministry and a secular job in government. In addition to this blog, I have a YouTube site at www.youtube.com/priestray and I have a Facebook page.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Fortunate to be in Rochester

There are many days that I contemplate leaving Rochester in favor of a warmer climate. This may indeed a possibility for me as I move closer to my retirement years. Yet, I must say, from a Roman Catholic perspective, that I am fortunate to be in the Rochester Diocese, due in large part to the 'pastoral' leadership of Bishop Matthew Clark. Being in another diocese with an ultra-conservative bishop would be problematic at best. (One only has to read daily newspapers to gain a sense of how much turmoil and discontent there are in many dioceses throughout the United States and beyond.)

If you have read some of my web articles, you are aware of the fact that I am an advocate for inclusivity in the Roman Catholic priesthood. In many dioceses, priests who have entered into marriage are allowed to do no more than sit in pews on any given Sunday. They are not allowed to be eucharistic ministers, lectors, serve on committees or teach. Furthermore, many were forced to move out of their originating communities, so as not to cause scandal for the faithful (a rationale often cited by bishops). Part of my recent decision to pull out of my parish liturgical ministries (at least temporarily) is due to my desire to be in solidarity with those who are excluded from the table because of flawed church policies.

In many dioceses, there are still no altar girls. Furthermore, women are not allowed to touch sacred vessels, and in some dioceses, women lectors are rare. (I wonder what Jesus would think about this!) To add insult to injury, even when women are occasionally granted permission to preach by their bishops (unfortunately rare), enterprising conservatives in the pews write hateful letters to the Vatican.

In many dioceses, priests, deacons, women religious and parish employees are not allowed to speak out when their bishops act inappropriately, under penalty of what is often referred to as 'canonical punishments.' Furthermore, diocesan newspapers are not allowed to print alternate views to existing church policies. (When reformers such as myself are shut out of diocesan newspapers, we have no choice but to take our writings to mainstream media outlets.)

A well-known theologian recently stated the following to me: "You are very fortunate to have Matthew Clark in Rochester. He is a saint amongst bishops." I must agree with this assessment. Sadly, the days of pastoral bishops are coming to an end, especially considering our current pontiff was the former head of the notorious Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (formerly the office of the Inquisition).

Benedict XVI (formerly Cardinal Ratzinger) has stated that he would rather have a smaller church if necessary. He just might have his wish come true when members of the faithful who seek more inclusivity take the exit door. (I still have hope that the Holy Spirit will give Benedict XVI some much-needed advice.)

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