Sunday, March 22, 2009


A special Sunday Post.

Here is a blogger’s story out of Brazil. It is indicative of the Catholic Church’s role in our global society today.

“A 9-year-old girl several times raped and made pregnant by her stepfather was guaranteed the right to have an abortion legally in Brazil. After the operation, the Roman Catholic Church excommunicated the mother, the doctor and the whole medical team responsible for the operation.”

Let me state at the outset I was raised Catholic. I had a devout Irish Catholic Mother and a convert Father. Through the years I have been involved in Catholic issues and programs and although I am now a non-practicing Catholic I still consider my Catholic foundation as a valid base upon which to disagree with the tenants, operation, edicts and dogmatic reasoning of the central Church of Rome.

Global Catholicism today is fear based, not love based as exemplified by the living Christ of two thousand years ago. I suspect that some in the church’s hierarchy years ago and others who sustain it today, secretly acknowledged that fear of hell’s condemnation attracts more alms to the church than love does in releasing the fictitious bondage of eternal fire.

The Catholic Church has a history of apologies where intellect and science conflicted with primitive church doctrine. People were killed, executed, and excommunicated because the church’s hierarchy was mired in the arrogance of false belief.

In my view, Catholicism has forgotten spirituality and what they think they do remember of it they confuse with dogma.

The word Dogma comes from the Greek and its root meaning is "opinion". Its root word "Dokein" means "to seem good". So when people say religious dogma, they are really saying, "religious opinion that seems good". To me, "seeming good" and the knowing awareness derived through a direct experience of God, are not the same.

Centuries of non-spiritual ritual and adherence to man-made rules give credence to doctrine, not necessarily to Truth. Even the early Christians were cautioned about dogma in the Gospel of Mark - Chapter 7 - Verse 7. "...In vein do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men".

To some religious authorities, an experiential truth, a gnosis, a Divine revelation that may result from an improvisational prayer or mediation is discouraged and discounted. History is filled with stories of inspired individuals, mystics, and saints, who have come in conflict with authority over an inner knowing or a scientific proof versus a system of rigid principles. Galileo, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Kabir, and Thoreau are examples.

A direct communication with God cannot be proven; it can only be experienced. Enlightenment, however it is experienced, will always disempower dogma and thus render mystics unacceptable to religious authorities.

A modern example was the conflict between the Vatican and then Dominican scholar, author and lecturer, Dr. Matthew Fox. His enlightenment led him to preach and write about creation spirituality, a positive view of humankind’s inter-relationship with God, rather than the Catholic Church dogma of redemption spirituality, a view whereby human beings are born sinful.

Fox was first silenced by the Vatican, and then asked to leave the Dominican Order and the Catholic priesthood and he is now an Episcopalian scholar. The church leader who silenced Fox was Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict the 16th.

Back to the little girl in Brazil. The blog by Carlos Dutra states:

“The nine year old complained to her mother of severe stomach pains. They went together to a health unit, where they discovered the girl was 15-weeks pregnant, expecting twins. Only then, the girl confessed to her mother that her stepfather had been raping her and her older sister, aged 14, for the last 3 years. The stepfather has been detained and has admitted sexually abusing the girl since she was 6 years old.

After much opposition from the Catholic Church, a legal abortion was performed by a medical team. Brazilian law bans abortion except in cases of rape (up to the twentieth week of pregnancy), and when there is risk of death for the mother. Her case ticked all the boxes.
Nevertheless, the case has led to a social battle involving the Roman Catholic Church and the judiciary: supported by the Vatican, the archbishop of Olinda and Recife, Dom José Cardoso Sobrinho, excommunicated the mother, the doctor and the whole medical team responsible for the operation.

The girl was spared, as Catholic Church law says minors are exempt from excommunication. The archbishop, however, did not excommunicate the stepfather, and declared that “a graver act (than rape) is abortion, to eliminate an innocent life.”

Those who believe in a Presence greater than the self rightfully ascribe "Unconditional Love" to the All That Is. We fail to acknowledge our own divinity when we judge.

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