Posts Tagged ‘pope’

Pacem in Terris? At Least in Warwick

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Pope John XXIII, artist Frederick Franck. From Pacem In Terris web page.

By Bob Gaydos

Spending a summer afternoon at Pacem in Terris, in Warwick, can be like being transported to another world. Which may well have been what Frederick Franck had in mind when he created his six-acre oasis/sanctuary/art museum/sculpture garden/spiritual retreat on the banks of the Wawayanda River. On special Sundays, magnificent music, such as was performed last Sunday in a stone grotto by the Loma Mar string quartet (playing Haydn and McCartney) , heightens the feeling of beauty and tranquility that is palpable almost everywhere one looks.

Franck, who died in 2006, was a pacifist, agnostic, painter, sculptor, dental surgeon, author and student of Zen Buddhism. Put prolific in front of everyone of those. A seeker of peace on earth and among all religions, he was among a select group of artists who sketched the sessions of Vatican II, presided over by Pope John XXIII, whom Franck greatly admired. Inspired by what he saw and heard, he came home to Warwick and created his “transreligious” sanctuary.

“Pacem in Terris,” of course, was the title of the encyclical issued by the pope in April of 1963, “on establishing universal peace in truth, justice, charity and liberty.” That remarkable doctrine, among many other things, encouraged religious orders to modernize, to bring the Catholic Church actively into the life of the 20th century. For many orders, this meant opportunities for greater education and learning skills to advance the causes of justice, liberty, charity and truth within their communities, not just in churches. For many orders of nuns the encyclical was, in itself, a symbol of individual liberty and justice. Instead of simply repeating church doctrine, they could actively spread the pope’s message of peace in various community settings.

And they did. And they have continued to do so. And for that, with a succession of more conservative popes since John XXIII, thousands of American nuns now find themselves threatened by the Vatican. The same institution that encouraged them to become educated, to proclaim their individual rights and responsibilities, now wants them to cease and desist. The nuns, members of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents 80 percent of American nuns, say this is not what Vatican II was about. Franck would likely agree. In fact, many lay Catholics agree with the nuns, staging demonstrations around the country to show their solidarity.

Last week, the nuns met in St. Louis to plan their response to a no-nonsense order issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The bishops said the sisters, through words and deeds had spread “certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.” The Vatican was particularly concerned with the nuns’ interest in sexuality, contraception, same-sex marriage and women in the priesthood. Although the group has taken no official stand on any of those issues, it has engaged in open discussion about them, arguing that they are vital issues of social liberty and justice of the times.

Which apparently everyone but the all-male Vatican can see.

The long-building ultimate confrontation has yet to occur as the sisters took a little detour after their conference, at which they took no official position. Instead, they met with Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain, assigned by the Vatican to redraw the mission of the sisters to more accurately reflect what the men in Rome want. The nuns said they expressed their concerns about the Vatican report honestly and openly with Sartain, who, they said, was a respectful listener. The bishop has been mum since the meeting, but then he probably feels, as the Vatican’s point man, that he’s holding all the cards in this game.

For their part, the nuns do not seem ready to fold. In the spirit of respectful dialogue of Vatican II, more meetings with Sartain are scheduled for the fall. But they also said they “will reconsider if LCWR is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.”

Perhaps more tellingly, the LCWR also issued a statement saying: “The expectation of the LCWR members is that open and honest dialogue may lead not only to increasing understanding between the church leadership and women religious, but also to creating more possibilities for the laity and — particularly for women — to have a voice in the church.”

One could say, in reading “Pacem in Terris,’ that a natural evolution of the church in light of a rapidly changing world, was what John XXIII had in mind. It would seem that any institution, even a religious one, must evolve with the people and society it professes to serve, else how can it continue to properly serve?

A voice for women in the Catholic Church? A radical idea? Maybe 50 years ago. Maybe not. Perhaps Sartain should spend a few hours in the gardens at Pacem in Terris reflecting on the spirit of “Pacem in Terris” before speaking to the sisters again.



Cher, Cindy, condoms, etc.

Monday, December 6th, 2010


By Bob Gaydos

A collection of random thoughts that piled up in my brain as I was figuring out my list of the twenty most influential thinkers of the 20th Century:

  • It’s hard being a McCain. It must be. After all, look at poor John, the onetime war hero, prisoner of war, and principled maverick Republican senator from Arizona, the man who never marched in lockstep with his GOP colleagues and never sold his soul for anything as crass as a vote (that savings and loan scandal notwithstanding). I don’t know when it started, maybe when he got his butt kicked in the 2000 primaries by that draft-evading Bush kid, but McCain hasn’t been the same since. He sold out in South Carolina to the Righteous Right — the same ones who pilloried him in 2000 — to get the 2008 GOP nomination and then developed such a crush on the governor of Alaska that he asked her to be his mate, er, running mate. Taking his lead from her, he then forgot everything he ever knew about principled governing and opted for doing and saying whatever was likely to gain him votes. Meanwhile, his actual mate, Cindy, who is the wealthy wind beneath John’s sails, finally dared to be herself and came out publicly against bullying of gays and for repeal of the military’s don’t-ask-don’t-tell policy, which John adamantly opposes. Or so it seemed. A day after her public service announcement appeared, Cindy tweeted the world that she supported both the anti-bullying of gays message and her hubby’s position on DADT. Yes, that is literally impossible, even for the best of wives. Adding to the McCain household holiday spirit, their daughter, Meghan, is quite vocal about repealing the military ban. Meanwhile, back on Capitol Hill, the senator was saying that, while surveys showed a majority of military personnel in favor of repeal, as well as the Joint Chiefs, McCain was rejecting the conclusion of a report — which he requested — saying the change could be made with no harm to military effectiveness. As for the support for repeal by the defense secretary and commander-in-chief, the man who graduated near the bottom of his class at Annapolis said he considered neither of them a military leader. Imagine if he had become president and someone said that about civilian control of the military. As disappointing as Obama has been, we could have had McCain. So I am grateful.
  • The uptight City by the Bay. San Francisco banned Happy Meals. Once upon a time, it was the place everyone went to get happy. Playing Big Brother is unbecoming its reputation.
  • The Bristol stomp. Bristol Palin, who dances about as well as Sanjaya sings, mercifully did not win the Dancing with the Stars competition. After weeks of being kept afloat by a rightwing write-in campaign, the Sarah Palin offspring lost to Jennifer Grey, who actually can dance. Bristol and her baby sister responded to the defeat and to criticism of her “talent” with an ungrammatical, profanity and gay-bashing laced assault on Facebook. Mom was apparently too busy discovering Alaska for her TV show to provide parental guidance. Again, forever grateful.
  • Snap out of it! Cher is back in the movies. Who cares if “Burlesque” is good or not, it’s just great to have her image dominating the screen again.
  • We love you, yeah, yeah, yeah. The Beatles are now available on I-tunes. I don’t have an I-anything, but it seems only right that the lads’ tunes can now be downloaded along with Miley Cyrus and Diddy, or whatever he‘s calling himself these days.
  • Sloooooowly, I turned, Step by step … The pope said it may sometimes be acceptable to use condoms. Arright, arright, don‘t get too excited just yet. Pope Benedict XVI said some people, specifically male prostitutes, using condoms could be justified because the intent was to reduce AIDS infection. While this is huge, he did not suggest using condoms as birth control, which is banned by the church, or mention the use of condoms by female prostitutes, suggesting to some that, perhaps, their infection is OK with the pope. Benedict said he wanted to start a debate on the topic of condoms. Oh to be a fly on the wall in the Vatican.
  • Hit the road, Jack and don’t come back. Some football coaches finally stood up to high-priced, whiny-baby star players, telling them to pack up their gear and take their act elsewhere. Randy Moss got cut by the Minnesota Vikings, the Tennessee Titans told quarterback Vince Young they were tired of his prima donna act and the Washington Redskins showed the sullen Albert Haynesworth the door. That’s three down and about 50 more to go in the NFL.
  • “Shut up, Jon Gruden! Nobody cares if ‘they blitzed the A gap.’ ” The preceding was a message from my son, Zack, a 16-year-old football fan who knows his stuff and can spot a Monday Night Football blowhard when he hears one. Got to admit, the kid’s got a way with words.