Monday, May 25, 2009

Politics in the Catholic Church

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There was an interesting story on ‘Australian Story’ tonight about a Catholic priest at St Marys Church is Brisbane. Father Kennedy was evicted as administrator of St Mary’s because of his alleged ‘unCatholic’ practices. It showed how ‘unCatholic’ the Vatican is, because it sends out spies to check on its parish administrators. Now, one cannot blame them for taking an interest or for investigating the conduct of Father Kennedy. Without question he is engaging in controversial practices, but then two issues were overlooked:
1. The Church survives on the contributions of its members. In this case Father Kennedy has the overwhelming support of his congregation
2. The Church never had a dialogue with the Father to establish the facts, or his position on them.
3. The Church was lacking objective perspective, and certainly it was acting with a ideological zeal that cannot be good for the Church.

This case highlights the hypocrisy of the Church or religious institutions. There is no question there are two issues here:
1. The ethical values of the Church – the institution
2. The ethical values of religion – as displayed by Father Kennedy, or anyone else who displays religious conviction which is independent or free thinking

It is apparent that the Vatican wants to dictate how its Church administrators conduct themselves. The problem for this administrator was that he embraced homosexuals, allowed women to address the congregation and even allowed them to address the Church. One can understand why this man was highly regarded by his congregation. He made people feel they mattered. The Church on the other hand wants to tell people how it is. It has an ideological agenda. That’s ok, but it’s an agenda divorced from the facts of reality. The Vatican is living in the past.
With respect to Father Kennedy, I support him to the extent that he has his own judgement, I support that he earnestly believes he is right, but he to departs from facts with respect to his values. Implicit in his values are that values are intrinsic, that people are good in themselves, regardless of what that may do. This is a hard position to maintain because he is not in a position where he can thus criticise the actions of the Church. No wonder he went relatively silently, but not before knocking the camera out of the hands of a spy from the Vatican. He displays the flawed values inherent in religion, though I respect his stand of relative merit. The Church is an autocratic institution; clearly there is no room for liberals. Clearly his popularity is a reproach to the institutional hierarchy. Further related news here and here.
Andrew Sheldon
Attention all atheists!!
In fact anyone who has had an interesting encounter with a Christian which involved manipulation, deception or blatant rationalisation. This is research or material for a forthcoming book. I am not suggesting that all Christians are criminals, dangerous or threats to society, but I am suggesting that Christianity is a basis for moral inefficacy. There is a reason why Christian nations are always at war. There is a reason why former Christians (or children of Christians) have a tendency to drift into cults and extreme religious groups. Thank you for any life experiences you can recall. ----------------------------------------------- Andrew Sheldon