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As Long as We Remember...

November 23, 2007

Church's New Dark Ages

Roy Meachum

"What are we, in the Dark Ages? This is absolutely ridiculous." That was a Baltimore Catholic woman's reaction to the news that the new archbishop had forced the resignation of her pastor.

A couple of week’s ago Baltimore’s Sun reported her quote and summarized the situation:

"Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien personally ordered the Rev. Ray Martin, who has led the Catholic Community of South Baltimore for five years, to resign from the three churches and sign a statement yesterday apologizing for "bringing scandal to the church.’”

Father Martin's sin, in the eyes of the Catholic Gestapo, was to invite, at the family's urging, the participation in funeral services of an Episcopal minister. She is female.

Her gender also stands as a black mark in the minds of the misogynistic control freaks who make up the Roman curia. The Rev. Annette Chappell actually read the Gospel! Can you imagine?

Without knowing what precise verse, it's safe to assume the words were no different than the Protestant version she has offered to her Episcopal congregation. The implication carried in the judgment was that her non-Catholic lips had defiled the Holy Book.

Archbishop O'Brien's spy tipped him the Rev. Chappell had been invited to take communion. Father Martin remembers making no such invitation.

At the height of Vatican II influence, however, Protestants, and occasionally even Jews, were asked to participate – in the spirit of the original Last Supper, which is what the Mass represents.

The teachings of Jesus were totally absent in the archdiocese's punishment of the Irish-born pastor. Comforting the bereaved was among the Nazarene's Biblical examples. He also taught forgiveness of the sinner.

Yet a charge against the Baltimore priest came from hiring a man with a criminal past and not following bureaucratic protocols.

That's on the assumption Father Martin either concealed or ignored the man's past. The story does not delineate. The popular pastor could have been giving the human being a chance to put his life back together, and likely knew of his past.

For his failure to comfort a young man sexually abused by his priest, actually ignoring him, while promoting his abuser to a well-paid, prestigious interfaith post, the former archbishop, Cardinal William Keeler, earned my gross disrespect.

After further revelations and charges against the offending priest, Mr. Keeler initially still refused to meet the victim; only under great pressure he assented. He still should have been forced to throw his miter into the harbor and on the very basis that Father Martin has been punished.

The ex-archbishop's scandalizing the faithful was monstrous by comparison with what happened in Locust Point. Indeed, Ray Martin's treatment advertises forcefully how far the faith of my youth has degenerated into a patching and scratching life.

The Roman Catholic Church abandoned what it calls its divine roots and become an institution devoted to temporal power. Christian charity has been displaced by a dictatorial code that smacks of idolatry.

Attired in Peter's white robes, Josef Ratzinger remains in his mind, at least, a pope who worships his own sense of order. Edmond F. O'Brien has already demonstrated he is an apt and slavish follower.

My poor church!

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