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.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Farewell to Roman Catholicism


Dear Blog Visitors:


For those of you who have followed my religious journey over many years, any type of announcement that points to my no longer being a Roman Catholic should not be a surprise.  For over twenty years, I have tried to work within the institutional church for two primary changes in its policies, inclusive of the need for an inclusive clergy and ending what amounts to sexism.

When I became an ordained married priest, via an ordained married archbishop and a supportive independent Catholic community, my relationship with the institutional Roman Catholic Church became somewhat severed.  Due to the fact that my ordination was covered by the international media, the Vatican felt it necessary to respond.  Therefore, a Vatican spokesperson simply stated that my ordination was “valid, but illicit.”  In the legal language of the church, this simply means that since my ordination followed the official Roman rites, and due to the fact I was ordained by a bishop in apostolic succession, I could be called a priest, but an illicit status prohibits me from becoming a diocesan priest, due to the celibacy requirement for such status.

Although I was never formally excommunicated from the Roman Catholic Church via letter or decree, conservatives within the church were quick to state that by my actions, I was “latae sententiae.”  In the legal language of the church, it simply means that by my actions (ordination as a married priest in 2006), I automatically excommunicated myself from the institutional church.

At this juncture, I feel it is important to state that I have consistently cherished and praised the episcopacy of Bishop Matthew Clark, who led the Diocese of Rochester for 33 years.  While he could have certainly issued a public condemnation when I was ordained a married priest in 2006, he did not.  In some dioceses, when either women or married men have been ordained independently of the Roman institution, they found themselves condemned by their respective diocesan bishops.  Now that Bishop Clark has retired, it is fair to say that the Vatican will appoint a replacement with a more conservative mindset.  So, I decided this might be a good time for me to officially take the exit door.

Whenever anyone asks me what church I currently attend, the answer I provide probably surprises many.  In brief, I often spend my Sunday mornings in the midst of nature settings.  After all, God is not confined to church buildings; God is rather amongst us in all of creation.  While worshipping with a community has its advantages, such as having common prayer and similar beliefs, I find I am at total peace in scenic outdoor surroundings.  In this regard, it is comforting to remind myself that Jesus was not confined to a building, and felt most comfortable in the wilderness and traveling from community to community.

If I were to define my current religious status, perhaps the best description would be an independent Catholic with a Judeo-Christian background (Judaism on my father’s side of the family, and Catholicism on my mother’s side).  I will continue to officiate at weddings, via my certification/commissioning from the Federation of Christian Ministries.  However, I have come to accept the fact that I am no longer a member of the Roman Catholic community.  I have been open to invitations I have received to explore faith communities within the Episcopal Church and the United Church of Christ.  These are certainly possibilities I will explore.  In the meantime, my Sunday mornings in the midst of nature settings will continue.

My religious journey has been exciting, faith-driven and humbling.  I look forward to whatever God has in store for me in my remaining years.


Peace to all,
Ray

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