Midland Daily News, August 4, 2012
The phrase “Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts
absolutely” is very well known. What I learned recently however is that Lord
Acton used this phrase in reference to Pope Pius IX in 1870. He had just lost
rule over the Papal States in Garibaldi’s effort to unify the people of the
Italian peninsula who were following the trends toward democracy that was
Many of us learned in our world history class that the Magna Carta (1215) was a monumental document that ushered in democracy. In reality it only granted nobles some special privileges. It took five hundred years for the democratic movement to take place among the people. This came about for many reasons but one was the education, or shall I say enlightenment, of the ordinary people.
A similar transition occurred in the Catholic Church when
over two thousand bishops assembled at the
The documents called for collaboration and cooperation among the bishops and the priests. They gave new emphasis to the role of the laity and urged us to participate in the governance of the Church through the establishment of many Commissions in each parish.
Vatican II called for a greater respect and understanding of all Christians. We can learn from each other and help each other promote the love, peace, forgiveness, and healing which Jesus proclaimed nearly two thousand years ago. Vatican II called for religious freedom for all people, not just Christians, claiming that everyone has the right to follow their conscience.
Vatican II called for the creation of national conferences of bishops so they could adapt the religion to the cultures. As a result we began to worship in English, instead of using Latin that virtually no one understood. Even the priest in some cases merely pronounced the words without understanding them.
On the other hand, Vatican II retained the language and
power of the Pope over all matters pertaining to the governance of the Roman
Catholic Church. But the changes were similar to the changes made in the Magna Carta in civil society. Unfortunately Pope John Paul II
proceeded to overturn the progressive reforms deliberately and quietly in a
policy of retrenchment. His first actions were to appoint men to be bishops who were
loyal to him. Yes, that is correct, the men appointed
bishops had to sign a loyalty oath to the Pope! One can easily conclude from
this that these men are pawns of the Pope, not pastoral leaders of the people.
These appointments resulted in a major shift of attitudes and pronouncements by
the bishops of the
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, issued a document in 2001 which emphasized the superiority of the Roman Catholic Church over other Christian churches. We are no longer supposed to refer to them as “sister churches” because that would give them a status they do not have, according to Ratzinger. Retrenchment became public.
Catholics became aware of this retrenchment when the Pope
ordered the change in the language of the
The latest effort at retrenchment was the investigation of
the religious women (nuns) in the
All these changes point to restoring the control the institution had prior to Vatican II on the part of the Pope and his robotic bishops to take the church back to the pre-Vatican II days when power was absolute and everyone knew it. The “divine right of kings” is alive and well in the Roman Catholic Church!
In the midst of all this but not unrelated is the priest sex
abuse of children that was covered up by many bishops for years even after the abuse
was made public. Cardinal Bernard Law of
In early July the bishops of the
The Pope and bishops of the Catholic Church have much to learn. They have much to change. Democracy will win out but more importantly the message of love and healing proclaimed by Jesus will ultimately win if the people remain steadfast in their opposition to this corruption of power.
This article puts me squarely in opposition to the Pope and bishops (and now some priests) of the Catholic Church which I dearly love. But I cannot silently stand by while this corruption of power continues. I hope this sheds some light on what is happening in the Catholic Church.
A response to Bufka's column
August 27, 2012
To the editor:
does not know
be forgiven for assuming he is an anti-Catholic
disciple of Jack Chick.
It might have come äs a shock to them upon reaching the end of Mr. Bufka's
diatribe against Cathoh'c Church hierarchy
("Have the Pope and
organization he vilifies.
Normally I simply ignore his misguided columns, but since he claims that he is trying to educate the public by "shed(ding) some light on what is happening in the Catholic Church,"it seems necessary to point out that Mr. Bufka does not represent a common understanding of the church, nor does he speak for a majorityofCathoh'cs.
example is Mr. Bufka's reference to the "change
in the language of the
uproar of protest from a handful of Catholics of Mr. Bufka's persuasion. Actually, the resulting
reaction from those who had been properly prepared has been, "What was all the fuss about?"
More points could be made. However, it would take multiple paragraphs to untangle each of the distortions, inaccuracies or false premises contained in Mr. Bufka's column, just äs it can take years to clean up and rebuild after each bomb that only takes a second to detonate.
Such an undertaking goes beyond the scope of a letter to the editor. Suffice it to say, Mr. Bufka's column does not represent a historical understanding of Roman Catholicism. It is the opinion of a small group of people (shrinking, through the attrition of age) who insist on interpreting the Second Vatican Council within a framework of rupture rather than within a framework of continuity with the past, and who understand church hierarchy within the dialectic of power.
Finally, a word about
agree is that some bishops were woefully, even criminally, negligent in their handling of sex
cases. I think this says more about human nature than the nature of power.
However, Mr. Bufka clearly creates a connectthe-dots
picture in order to imply that
remain silent. Anything else is simply unjust.
BRIAN G. SMITH
Brian’s response was the only negative
response I received about this column. I know Brian and I respect him but we
are miles apart on the subject of the Roman Catholic Church and what its
leaders has been doing for the last thirty years and what they are especially
doing right now. Incidentally the day before Brian’s letter appeared in the
paper, there was an announcement that