Archive for June, 2013

Quote of the Day

The rich are in possession of the goods of the poor, even if they have acquired them honestly or inherited them legally. 
 — St. John Chrysostom

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Gerhard Ludwig Müller

Cardinal Muller

From Vatican Insider:

Gianni Valente
Vatican City

“The Latin American ecclesial and theological movement known as “Liberation Theology”, which spread to other parts of the world after the Second Vatican Council, should in my opinion be included among the most important currents in 20th century Catholic theology.” This authoritative and glorifying historical evaluation of Liberation Theology did not just come from some ancient South American theologian who is out of touch wit the times. The above statement was made by Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith which Ratzinger headed in the 1980’s, after John Paul I appointed him to the post. The Prefect gave two instructions, warning against pastoral and doctrinal deviations from Latin American theological currents of thought.

This decisive comment about the Liberation Theology movement is not just some witty remark that happened to escape the mouth of the current custodian of Catholic orthodoxy. The same balanced opinion pervades the densely written pages of “On the Side of the Poor. The Theology of Liberation”, a collection of essays co-written with liberation theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez and published in Germany in 2004. Gutiérrez invented the formula for defining the Liberation Theology movement, whose actions were – for a long time – closely scrutinised by the Ratzinger-led Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The movement was not criticised once during this time.

Today the book seems to wave goodbye in a way to the theological wars of the past and the hostility that flash up now and again, to cause alarm on purpose.

 The book put an official seal on a common path the two had followed for many years. Müller never hid his closeness to Gustavo Gutiérrez, whom he met in Lima in 1988, during a study seminar. During the ceremony for the honorary degree which the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru granted to Müller in 2008, the then bishop of Regensburg defined the theological thought of his master and Peruvian friend as fully orthodox. In the months before Müller’s nomination as head of the dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, some claimed his closeness to Gutiérrez proved he was not suited to the role previously held by Cardinal Ratzinger (24 long years).

 In the book’s essays, the two authors/friends back each other up. Müller says the merits of Liberation Theology go beyond the Latin American Catholic. The Prefect stressed that in recent decades, Latin America’s Liberation Theology movement has been oriented towards the image of Jesus Christ the Redeemer and liberator, an image all genuinely Christian theological currents are oriented towards. This stems from an evangelical inclination towards the poor. Müller affirmed that “poverty in Latin America oppresses children, the elderly and the sick,” to such an extent that many are driven to “contemplate death as the only way out.” Right from the outset, the Liberation Theology movement “forced” theological movements founded elsewhere, not to consider the real living conditions of people and individuals as something abstract. He saw “the body of Christ” in the poor, as Pope Francis does.

Read the rest here: http://vaticaninsider.lastampa.it/en/the-vatican/detail/articolo/teologia-della-liberazione-freedom-theology-teologia-de-la-libertad-vaticano-vatican-25842

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With Mario and Fafa…

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Theodore Roethke is one of my favorite poets. I hadn’t read him for a very long time and picked up my copy of his collected poems the other day. This is one of my favorites, and rereading it the other day I was once again struck by the deep mysticism in his best work.

I was always one for being alone,
Seeking in my own way, eternal purpose;
At the edge of the field waiting for the pure moment;
Standing, silent, on sandy beaches or walking along green embankments;
Knowing the sinuousness of small waters:
As a chip or shell, floating lazily with a slow current…
Was it yesterday I stretched out the thin bones of my innocence?
O the songs we hide, singing only to ourselves!
Once I could touch my shadow, and be happy;
In the white kingdoms, I was light as a seed,
Drifting with the blossoms,
A pensive petal.
I think of the self-involved:
The ritualists of the mirror, the lonely drinkers,
The minions of benzedrine and paraldehyde,
And those who submerge themselves deliberately in trivia…
What do they need?
O more than a roaring boy,
For the sleek captains of intuition cannot reach them;
They feel neither the tearing iron
Nor the sound of another footstep–
How I wish them awake!
May the high flower of the hay climb into their hearts;
May they lean into light and live;
May they sleep in robes of green, among the ancient ferns…
May the sun gild them a worm;
May they be taken by the true burning;
May they flame into being!

-Theodore Roethke

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Monday I drove to Westerville, just outside of Columbus for a long overdue “Beer Summit” with my old friend Tom Storck. Driving back through Westerville on Tuesday I noticed a stunning church, which turned out to be St Paul’s Catholic church. The really remarkable thing about this church is that it was dedicated in 2011:

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Missing Bernice

Deep inside the administrative bureaucracy, from Brazil, Terry Gilliam’s 1985 film.

One of the only good legacies of the Clinton presidency is the Family Medical Leave Act, which insures that workers are allowed time off work for medical care, whether for themselves or for family members.

Of course, the Act fell short because it did not say that employers must offer paid leave for this, and as most working class people cannot afford to take time off without pay, it in effect was an act that only benefited the rich.

And, ahem, union members. I am deeply grateful that one benefit of my membership in the Union is that I am guaranteed paid FMLA leave. This, when too many hard working people get no paid sick leave, just another example of the sin that cries to heaven for vengeance.

I have used paid FMLA numerous times since its inception: caring for my mother at various times toward the end of her life, time off to recuperate from my own surgeries, and, not least, caring for my wife and children during and after childbirth. I always take two weeks off at the birth of a child.

Until this baby all that entailed was calling Bernice at the Postal Service in Akron in the, ugh, “Human Resources” department.

But a year or two back, Bernice’s job was eliminated and the process was “streamlined”; ie, became something one must do online or by phone.

So I tried to apply for the requisite papers. As I only rarely visit the online postal site I could not find my PIN number. Not a problem, right? And sure enough they had a “forgot your pin number” pop-up, which I clicked only to see the screen read “this operation not available”.

I tried again, for several days, and always met the same impasse. So I asked my benevolent supervisor, Eric, and he gave me a phone number to call.

I called, and got the usual computer voice. I entered my employee ID number as required, only to get the response that this number was invalid. after about an hour of running the online gaunlet I finally spoke to a human being. I told him my dilemma and he hit the same roadblock. He told me to ask my supervisor to request the paperwork.

Which I did. A few days later I received a letter informing me that my request for FMLA, which I had not yet submitted, had been denied. When I told Eric he once again pulled the levers and sure enough, in a few days an application finally arrived.

I filled out the data that I was supposed to and Michelle took the doctor’s part to her next visit with her obstetrician.

About a week later, after Michelle had called to ask if she could fax the doctor’s papers, we received a call from a woman at the Department of Labor, which handles FMLA claims.

My request was denied because we did not meet the June 10 deadline (how long the doctor takes to submit the form is quite beyond our control).

Further, because the request was for late August, it had also been denied because it had been submitted too early.

Did you get that? We were too late, and also too early.

The woman, who was quite pleasant, did not in the least understand that this was ludicrous.

Such is bureaucracy.

Once again my preference for localism, for human scale, was confirmed. I am sure that this will all work out, that I will in the end be paid for my leave time, to care for my bride and children after the birth of this baby.

But boy, I miss Bernice.

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