Posted in church, Raised Catholic

Pope Francis Has Failed Us!

Pope Francis has been given the greatest opportunity that could ever be given to the leader of a “great” institution. He has been given the opportunity to root out and rid his home of the evil that has beset it.  Instead, Francis has chosen to side with the forces of evil by stating that the Church has “spared no effort” in resolving the issue of clergy sexual abuse – an “effort” that I find I must question. What exactly have you done about addressing the issue of priest sexual abuse and the culture of clericalism that has allowed this evil to continue for 2000 years? As far as I can tell, the evil continues in spite of the “effort” the Church claims to have put forth (an effort that has for the most part been geared toward preventing the laity from abusing children…a laity that was rarely guilty in the first place!).

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Children are still being abused. Priests are still getting away with it.  Clergy remain in hiding. And the magisterium turns its face in denial of the true source of this evil – a culture of white male, ordained privilege that places priests above the people they were meant to serve.  “Above” us to the point that neither Church, nor Canon, nor even moral law pertains to them.

Pope Francis has failed us. I cannot speak for other Catholics (or former Catholics), but I once had great hope for this pope.  I didn’t expect doctrinal change (though it would be nice if he at least acknowledged that women were deserving of ordination and that historically there is no support for a male-only/celibate only priesthood), but I did expect that the chose leader of the world’s largest religious faith would stand on the side of truth.  With his most recent statements, however, it seems he stands on the side of the hierarchy – specifically, protecting the culture of clericalism that is at the heart of all that is wrong with the Catholic Church, and I might argue, with all of Western society.  I have always said, if you want to see where Western culture is going, look to the Catholic Church.  Where Francis currently stands on the topic of clerical abuse seems right in line with what is happening in the area of sexual abuse in the good ole USA – the men in power standing with the men in power while the rest of the world suffers.  I am ashamed.

I will say it again, Pope Francis, you have failed us. You have been given a chance to acknowledge the horrors of clergy sexual abuse, admit the wrongdoing of your brethren, ask for forgiveness, and then embark on the true work of forgiveness which is to determine the cause of the sin and ROOT IT OUT!  Instead you have done nothing but offer platitudes while brushing clergy sexual abuse off as something that only happened in the past.  Incidents of clergy sexual abuse are still being reported today, but the Church does nothing.  Francis, with your words today, it is clear that nothing else will be done.  Until the cause of the “sin” is identified and transformed, the sin shall remain.  Apparently Pope Francis is ok with this or more would be done.  “We have spared no effort,” are perhaps the most offensive words I have yet to hear out of the mouth of this pope.

Pope Francis you have failed us…and as a 53 year old woman, I can tell you it is not only the youth of the Church who are outraged. The whole entire world is outraged over the ongoing sexual abuse of the vulnerable by the ordained Catholic priesthood….and you should be too!

Signed,

Lauri Ann Lumby, OM, OPM, MATS

Authentic Freedom Academy and Temple of the Magdalene

Please join us Wednesday evening for the inaugural of the Temple of the Magdalene online gathering:

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Posted in church, Raised Catholic

God is Cleaning House!

Or should I say “Goddess?” As the horrors of the priest sex abuse scandal continue to make headlines I can’t help but celebrate the truths finally being made known.  I’ve seen the horrors first-hand (I’m not only speaking about sexual abuse!) and it is only right that the sins of the Institution be made known and that the hierarchy be held accountable to the grievous harm they have inflicted on humanity for thousands of years.  I suspect (hope) that this current wave of truth-telling marks the end of the priesthood as we have known it and the end of the patriarchal/hierarchical structure built on fear, power and control. The Divine (by whatever name we call Her) is CLEANING HOUSE!  Amen!  Amen! Halleluiah!  (Cue Handel:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=usfiAsWR4qU )

In light of all of this, I found it hilarious (God has a great sense of humor…..or is it timing?) that this reading came up in my daily scripture feed this morning:

The word of the Lord came to me:
Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel,
in these words prophesy to them to the shepherds:
Thus says the Lord GOD: Woe to the shepherds of Israel
who have been pasturing themselves!
Should not shepherds, rather, pasture sheep?
You have fed off their milk, worn their wool,
and slaughtered the fatlings,
but the sheep you have not pastured.
You did not strengthen the weak nor heal the sick
nor bind up the injured.
You did not bring back the strayed nor seek the lost,
but you lorded it over them harshly and brutally.
So they were scattered for the lack of a shepherd,
and became food for all the wild beasts.
My sheep were scattered
and wandered over all the mountains and high hills;
my sheep were scattered over the whole earth,
with no one to look after them or to search for them.

Therefore, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
As I live, says the Lord GOD,
because my sheep have been given over to pillage,
and because my sheep have become food for every wild beast,
for lack of a shepherd;
because my shepherds did not look after my sheep,
but pastured themselves and did not pasture my sheep;
because of this, shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:
Thus says the Lord GOD:
I swear I am coming against these shepherds.
I will claim my sheep from them
and put a stop to their shepherding my sheep
so that they may no longer pasture themselves.
I will save my sheep,
that they may no longer be food for their mouths.

For thus says the Lord GOD:
I myself will look after and tend my sheep.

EZ 34: 1-11

What was true for Ezekiel (622 BCE) is true for us today. The “shepherds” (priests) have sinned against their people and against their God.  They have brought harm upon the people of the flock (us) and the Divine says NO MORE!  The truth is coming to light and as God said to Ezekiel, “I myself will look after and tend my sheep.”  What need have we for human shepherds (priests) when we have God/dess to guide us?  As Jesus chose God over the institution and his disciples did the same, this is the invitation we are currently being given as the outside perceived authority of institutional religion (here symbolized by the Catholic Church) comes crashing down around our feet.

As I have come to know in my own journey, we do not need an outside perceived authority (the Church) when the only true authority is the Divine within.  This is the truth Jesus came to know and what he then went on to teach his followers.  Mary Magdalene got this and held true to the Divine within.  The male disciples had to re-learn this truth after getting expelled from the Temple, and then somehow forgot this along the way when they appointed themselves “Bishops” and “Priests.”  But as I have said a million times over, “God/Love always wins!”  She is reclaiming what is hers; casting out all those who did not heed Her words and who did not care for Her people and inviting all of us to return to the only “Church” we will ever truly need – the “Church” that is in our own heart where we are One with the Divine (Love) that dwells within.

P.S. If you don’t yet know that “Church” within, I am happy to help you find it.

Posted in church

If Pope Francis Hired Me to Give the Catholic Church a Makeover

In the face of the most recent revelation of the deep culture of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, I wonder what will become of the Church. Ultimately, this may be the beginning of the end of institutional religion which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing.  However, in spite of all that is wrong with the Catholic Church, there is some good and if they can heal all that currently ails this 2000 year old institution, the Catholic Church has the potential for being a great force for good in the world.  It will take a miracle to get there, but if Pope Francis (read Pope Francis’ response to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report HERE) called me today and invited me in as a consultant on how to heal the Church, making it relevant and useful to the modern world, and he was willing to pay me a sh.t-ton of money to do so, I would undoubtedly say yes.  So Pope Francis, in anticipation of your generous offer, 🙂 here are my thoughts on the first order of business in healing and reforming the Catholic Church:

The first order of business would be to get rid of the ridiculous notion of original sin!  If we are made “in the image and likeness of God” and “loved without condition,” then how can we be sinners?  Wounded and in need of healing?  YES.  But not inherently evil.  Eliminating the projection of  Saints Paul and Augustine ‘s unhealed shame will do two things a) eliminate the first source of manipulation used by the Church against its members and b) heal the shame Catholics have been conditioned to feel.

Eliminate the hierarchical priesthood.  Fire them all.  In their place, prepare, equip and empower the most powerful priesthood that the Church has so far only given lip-service to:  THE PRIESTHOOD OF ALL BELIEVERS!  Every single person on this planet (and in the Church) is uniquely gifted to be a vessel of Divine love in the world.  Some are called to be teachers, preachers, facilitators of ritual, healers, counselors, artisans, leaders, pastors, sales people, administrators, financiers, etc. etc. etc.  Support the LAITY is naming, claiming, and cultivating their unique giftedness and then empower them to use these gifts in service to the mission of love and the betterment of the world.

After 1 and 2, my sense is that the rest will simply take care of itself. Absent the shame that imprisons and controls, and empowered in our gifts, Jesus’ mission of love (the mission the Church claims as their own) will naturally and effortlessly be fulfilled.  Scripture will be re-interpreted.  Sacraments re-written.  Liturgy will become vibrant and life-giving.  The Catechism will be tossed out, along with Canon Law.  Religious Education will be replaced with Spiritual Formation – the process through which people become self-actualized. Meditation and Contemplation will be at the center of all that is done. Baptism will become a ritual of celebration and welcome (not for the purpose of removing “the stain of original sin”). Confession will be replaced with Spiritual Counseling so that the unhealed wounds that cause our non-loving behaviors can once and for all be healed.  All people will be ordained in their own gifts and mission. The people of the Church will work for justice and peace in our world and love will lead the way.

Authentic Freedom Academy Leadership Training

 

Posted in church, Raised Catholic

Clergy Sexual Abuse – Compassion for the Victims

As social media continues to rage over the topic of clergy sexual abuse, I find myself wondering “what about the victims in all of this?” It is appropriate to be enraged at the Catholic Church for centuries of abuse, the culture of clericalism, fear, power and control, that made the abuse possible in the first place, and the long-standing refusal of the Church to do anything about it.  It is only right that the Church “pay for its sins,” and that they begin to do the really hard work of identifying and then eradicating the cause of clergy sexual abuse.  If the Church continues to do nothing, which I suspect it might, I predict that their days are numbered.

As it may be appropriate to wish karmic retribution upon the Catholic Church, this does nothing to address the deep needs of the victims who have suffered – and the victims are many. First, of course, are the hundreds of thousands, if not hundreds of millions who have been sexually abused by Catholic priests.  There is no doubt in my mind that these are the ones who have suffered the deepest wounding at the hand of the Church – deep psychological, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical wounding.  Unless we ourselves have been abused, we cannot begin to imagine the depth of their pain or the sense of betrayal.  I do hope that one day the victims will have the courage to speak.  Their voices need to be heard so that true healing can begin to take place.

The second victims are those who perhaps have not been sexually abused, but who were used by men of the Church so as to gain power or for their own selfish needs. When speaking of these, I think of all the women and men who have been the priests’ concubines – their “lovers.”  All the housekeepers, cooks, secretaries, vacation buddies who were made “special” by the priest because of his attentions, but who were never given the dignity of marriage.  Those who were good enough to spend time and sleep with but who had to do it all in hiding because “Father” couldn’t possibly leave the power of his position to make you his wife or partner.

The third victims are the good priests. I have known a few.  Not all Catholic priests are pedophiles and not all are abusing their power.  Many are good, kind, gentle men who have been called by God to serve.  They serve with a sincere and humble heart and do their best to continue the work that Jesus began.  Now these men are guilty by association – or at the very least, suspect.  My heart goes out to these men and I hope and pray that they receive the support they need to continue their work in spite of the suspicion that will now surround them, perhaps even becoming vehicles through which true reform and healing can begin to happen in the Catholic Church.  If nothing else, they will be needed to support the fourth group of victims.

The fourth group of victims is the people in the pews. Those who have found a home in the Catholic Church, who have found peace and comfort there and whose peace is now disturbed.  Those who grew up believing the Church was good and had only the people’s best interests in mind.  Those who gave their lives to the Church through their participation and support.  Those who found comfort in the traditions, the teachings, the prayers, and the scripture and who came to know Jesus and the love of God through their Catholic faith.  Those who believed the priest was a good man 1) because they were told this and 2) because they have personally experienced his kindness. These are the people who are now scared and confused – trying to make sense of senseless acts in an Institution that is supposed to be made of love.  My heart bleeds for these people because the Church is their home and now what?  Leave the only home they have ever known?  Leave what has been a source of comfort and support and go….where?  Watching as friends and relatives leave the Church and wondering what they are supposed to do.  I get it.  I’ve been there.  As one who eventually made the decision to leave the Church, I can say that it was the most difficult decision I have ever had to make and after ten years, I am still grieving this loss.  In light of the latest wave of truth-telling as it pertains to priest sexual abuse, some of this group might choose to leave the Church, doing the difficult work of mourning that loss. Others will choose to remain, hoping they can be a vehicle for healing and change.  Others will have no choice but to turn the whole thing off – turning away from the stories of abuse because it is just too much for them to handle.  Regardless of the choices made by those in the pews, my heart is with them.  They too are victims in this.

Actually, we are all victims in the clergy sex abuse scandal. Not one of us is exempt from the pain of the evils done by humanity.  When one of us suffers, we all suffer.  Life is suffering.  But in this suffering we have a choice.  We can let it destroy us, or we can use that suffering to find the path to healing and in that healing find our way to the new life on the other side of that pain.  This is my hope, and my invitation to all those who are currently suffering as a result of the latest reports on clergy abuse – let us come together as one, seeking together the path of healing so that something new might come forth out of this pain.  Ironically, this is what my Catholic faith taught me and what it would call me to do.

Healing Our Religious Wounds

 

 

Posted in church, Raised Catholic

Priest Sexual Abuse – There are No Words

Actually….there are a whole lot of words! On Tuesday the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released with a list of over 300 priests accused of sexual abuse  –  300 in Pennsylvania alone and that number accounts for only those who have been named.  This doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all those who have suffered in silence, or the centuries upon centuries of clerical abuse that preceded this investigation.  In reporting priest sexual abuse, the media tends to highlight the abuse that was inflicted upon young boys, completely missing the girls, nuns and women who have been and continue to be the victims of clerical abuse – sexual or otherwise.  The sheer magnitude is staggering!

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The culture of clerical privilege and clergy abuse is nothing short of evil – condemnable evil. Thank God someone is finally doing something to bring the truth to light and that the Church will finally be made to pay for centuries of abuse. Unfortunately, none of this does anything to heal the grave damage done by the Institution to its victims; neither does it do anything to change the culture that created the environment in which priests could get away with, and even be celebrated for raping women and children.

As one who worked in the Church when the sex abuse scandal first erupted in the late 1990’s and as one who has watched in horror as the Church has given lip service to the “changes” they are making to prevent clerical abuse, I can assure you that nothing has actually changed. Yes, band aids have been put in place, but the culture that created the environment in which abuse could happen in the first place has not changed.

I suspect the Church might not survive this layer of truth-telling. At one time I may have had pity or compassion for a Church that is suffering from its own woundedness, but no more.  The Church has had ample time and opportunities to take a good hard look at the culture of patriarchal privilege and power that makes it “ok” for priests to abuse, but again, the Church has done nothing.  Instead, they have systematically worked to protect the abusers, silence those who have been abused, and ignore (and even condemn) the voices of those who might actually be able to help the Institution transform the culture that has allowed sexual abuse to happen in the first place.  In short, the Catholic Church has made its own bed….and now it will have to lie in it.

The healing and reform of the Catholic Church is no longer my concern. The Church is dying.  It is long-past time for end of the tyranny brought forth by the Catholic Church.  It is time that this patriarchal, hierarchical Institution based in fear, power and control, which has used the name of Jesus to kill Jews, Muslims, and “witches;” and which has used God as the justification for their “holy wars,” and the subjugation of women, to  come to an end so that something new might come forth.  What that something new might be, I do not know, but I suspect it will have a lot more to do with what Jesus taught and Mary Magdalene lived out than what we are currently seeing.  At least I hope so, because what Jesus taught is really quite simple:

  • Love God.
  • Love one another.
  • Love your neighbor as yourself.
  • Everyone is your neighbor.
  • Feed the hungry.
  • Clothe the naked.
  • Set prisoners free.
  • Care for the widows and orphans.
  • Share what you have with those who have not.
  • Give money to the poor.
  • Give sight to the blind.
  • We are all one – with God, with each other and with all of creation.
  • Love is who we are and who we are meant to be.

It really is that simple. As Jesus taught, love is truly all there is, all we are, and all we are called to be and do. As Jesus taught, love heals all that is broken within us, thereby eliminating the cause of “sin.” Love is the answer.  It saddens me that the Church, in its quest for power, forgot this simple truth.  But like the phoenix that arises out of the ash, may the new that is brought forth out of the death of the Catholic Church be rooted in love, bringing forth the fulfillment of what Jesus originally taught and was lived out through Mary Magdalene.  Love is all there is and all we need to know.  When we know love, the rest flows effortlessly out of us.  It really is that simple.

Posted in church, Raised Catholic

Why The Catholic Church (as we currently know it) Must Fall

Danger:  If you are clinging to the current form of Roman Catholicism….you might not want to read today’s post.  Change is a comin…..and the invitation is to step aside, let the carnage fall where it may, then watch as the phoenix of new life arises from the ashes.  In order to do this, we need to let go of our attachment to what we know and have known the Catholic Church to be and to be open to something new and unexpected.

 

The Sex Abuse Scandal is NOT Over

Last night I was at a friend’s house reading the latest issue of Rolling Stone Magazine which features an exhaustive investigation into the Catholic Church and the sex abuse scandal, specifically, the secret sex crimes files.  (here’s a link to the article:   http://www.rollingstone.com/culture/news/the-catholic-churchs-secret-sex-crime-files-20110906 ) In the article, New York Archbishop, Timothy Dolan (formerly of our own Archdiocese of Milwaukee), was quoted as waving off the priest sex abuse scandal and saying, “That’s over with.” Are you flippin’ kidding me?   OVER With ?????  I realize that the Catholic hierarchy burying their heads in the sand is not new information….but really?  The priest sex abuse scandal is over?  NOT HARDLY!!!!!   In fact, is has only just begun.  What Dolan’s response illuminates to me, however, is the very reason that the Catholic Church (as we currently know it) will and MUST fall.  As long as the hierarchy clings to denial, self-protection and defense, the issues that created a culture in which priests have been allowed to sexually abuse children will never be dealt with.  Change and reform will NOT be coming anytime soon from the old-boys club and for those of us in the pew, we’d better just get used to this idea.  Instead of authentic reform, we will be pummeled with distractions – liturgical reform, investigations of women religious, new translations of the Roman missal, new guidelines on music, the restoration of vestments, vessels, etc. that set the priest apart as “more special” than the rest of us, hard-line insistence on upholding “the one true faith,” coming down on issues of morality, setting the Catholic Church apart as “better than the rest.”  Vatican II has been set aside in favor of a Church that wants us to pray, pay and obey (which is ironic considering the current state of the hierarchy) and keep our mouths shut!

You Don’t Have to Be a Prophet

You don’t have to be a prophet to figure out where this is all leading.  The Institution cannot keep up the facade of giving a damn about the sex abuse scandal forever.  We are not that stupid.  As secret files emerge and more charges against priests are made, it becomes painfully obvious that nothing is being done and nothing will be done to heal the wounds or work toward authentic reform.  The Institution has nothing to gain and everything to lose by owning their own sins, holding themselves accountable and working toward change.  In the meantime, all the work of creating distractions does nothing but create disillusionment and frustration in the hearts of those who want to see a happy and healthy Catholic Church (I count myself among those people).  In the end, what the Church will be left with is a flock of blindly obedient members content to look the other way as priests continue to abuse while those who want a healthy church will simply walk away….either retreating to private devotion or finding refuge in another denomination, while secretly pining for what they had to leave behind in the sacraments and rituals with which they had previously found comfort.

There is Good News

I know that I can tend to be uber-cynical and perhaps a little jaded when it comes to issues on Roman Catholicism, and I own that.  I found that working in the Institution does one of three things: creates bureaucratic puppets, frustrated reformers or jaded cynics.  I guess I fall somewhere between the latter two.  That being said, I boldy and passionately LOVE many things about my Catholic faith.  And….I am a 100% Vatican II baby and believe in the authenticity and vision of that council.  I want to see the reforms of Vatican II fully manifested in the Church and I look forward to seeing what the Holy Spirit has in mind for Vatican III.  I believe in the redemptive action of the Holy Spirit and I believe that even in the midst of what seems like the imminent death of the Institution (as we have known it) that something new and magnificent will rise from the ashes.  And while there is grief in witnessing the death of what I have known, it is in the on-going redemptive and life-generating action of the Divine that I place my trust, knowing that something new and wonderful is coming to pass.

Lauri Lumby

Authentic Freedom Ministries

http://yourspiritualtruth.com