Monday, April 30, 2012

The Vatican: Dogma v's Dialogue

Sister Simone Campbell, head of the Catholic social justice group NETWORK, appeared on several television programs regarding the recent Vatican report that reprimanded Catholic nuns for failing to speak out on “issues of crucial importance.”

Her group NETWORK was heavily criticized in the Vatican report.

Sister Campbell, who is also a lawyer, said “we’re a political organization. We don’t even have formal ties with Rome. Many of our members are Catholic sisters and priests, but we have 18,000 people across the country who are activists. But the Vatican named us. It’s not a faith fight; it’s a political fight.”

Sister Campbell went on to say, “What the bishops are criticizing is the engagement in culture. We come from a democratic culture. We follow the rule of Saint Benedict from the 500 A.D., where Benedict says, "When you’re making a decision, listen to every member of the community, and the truth will emerge."

She added that the Vatican comes out of a European experience and a culture of monarchy where the monarchy is always right with no room for a plurality of thought.

“The United States’ she said, “has an amazing pluralism that is really our gift, because it creates a vibrant diverse society. And I think that vibrant society is running headlong into the culture of monarchy at this point.

History is filled with stories of inspired individuals, mystics, and saints, who have come in conflict with authority over an inner dictate versus a system of rigid principles.  Galileo, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Aquinas, Kabir, and Thoreau are examples, to name a few. following one's inner faith, however it may be expressed, either as activism or mystical meditation, will always disempower dogma and render service activists unacceptable to most religious authorities.

A prime example today was the conflict between the Vatican and Dominican scholar, Dr. Matthew Fox.  His enlightenment and verbal activism led him to preach 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 silenced by the Vatican and has since left the order is now an Episcopalian scholar.

Within the Catholic church dogma has apparently no room for dialogue.

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