Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Joseph Martino - Scranton - Failed CEO

This is by no means scientific. But when I was younger and when the American RC church was in its prime, I considered that if 15% of baptized catholics had fallen away through divorce or indifference, then the established church went on in its prime. This is in no way an exclusively catholic thing but for the sake of argument, I am quoting from memory and my own observation which is, dare I say it, “culturally catholic”.

These are lean days of RC church attendance even with the emergence of the medieval revivalists, extreme right. In the ranks of those left who give a crap about the RC church, I think that in this survival mode status of the RC church in America, that getting and keeping 15% of baptized catholics still in the church is the desired goal. What happened to 85% of the church now in the dark?

Well, I will not talk about female issues here, though it is a significant factor in the scheme of things. I think that what destroys the RC church a little bit, decade per decade, percentage point per percentage point is the fact that certain people, besides women, were factored out of the salvation equation centuries ago. The one body of people that comes to mind is the gay community.

I knew a relatively famous actress some decades ago, a friend of a distant relative. Myself being a very na├»ve person, it took some time for me to realize that she was a lesbian. Putting that aside, she went on a trip to Rome with her entourage and upon her return I asked questions about her trip. I was surprised that she did not visit the Vatican or the Vatican Museum. She replied rather disdainfully – something like why should she. She was boycotting an institution that not only discounted her humanity based on her sexual preferences but totally ignored the question of salvation for anybody of her persuasion.

After the retirement, good riddance, of Bishop Joseph Martino, of Scranton, I look back over many press items and one thing stands out in my perception of his failed administration and the destruction through mismanagement of the faith of many deserving souls in the RC community there.

Putting aside Bishop Martino’s rantings and ravings, almost exclusively through distant abstract press releases, the turning point in his inability to rule over a sixteenth century social model framed by the Council of Trent was the very liberal Misericordia University and its Diversity Institute. The old cracker went absolutely ballistic over a minor item dealt with by a diversity program. One invited speaker to that Institute, Keith Boykin, was smeared in the catholic blogosphere as a Gay Marriage Advocate. This was also framed as a reason to shut down the diversity program at that university.

While that may be one of pet advocacies of that guest speaker, other things got ignored. My personal opinion is that Bishop Martino hated Boykin, first as an African American, and second as a faggot. Pius IX supported the Confederacy and was therefore pro-slavery and anti-African. Since Pius IX was infallible in spiritual matters, his personal petty likes and dislikes, like that of Bishop Martino, gets thrown into the human mix of things. Is it sacred tradition or good old fashioned human hate?

There is a great deal of pain now as the once sacred world bleeds into the growing real global world of secularism. The French are currently starting a twelfth generation since their revolution and their ease and comfort and treating religion and the church with total ambivalence, almost like just another cheese course after dinner, you like this stinky cheese religion or you don’t.

The institutions in the Christian mainstream, COE, RC, etc. that have ignored the relevance of Women, Gays and other minorities are in their death throes.

Individuals who seek faith and spirituality must do so in private and without influence from these dying institutions that centuries ago lopped off this percentage or that of humanity. The tree of their Christ is a grafted contrivance.

The message of God to all people and all time will survive. The institutions we see today as religion will not all survive into a future age unless they search their hearts and seek and love all humanity and not just a small part of it.


Peter said...

It seems like you often equate the decline of the American Catholic Church with the decline of the RCC. American Catholics only comprise about 5% of the world's Catholics, so if the American Church falls off a cliff that does not necessarily entail doom and gloom for the RCC.
The fact of the matter is that most Catholics the world over are content with the teachings of the Church, and the portions of the Church that are growing the fastest are those that are the most traditional and orthodox. That is simply an uncontestable fact.
The ECUSA has embraced the "glories" of supposed inclusiveness and diversity, radical feminism. abortion, women priests, gay clergy, contraception, and the de-dogmatazation of the Faith so that almost anything can be believed in "good conscience". And what about their growth? Where is the vibrant growth and vigor of youth in the ECUSA or any other heterodox or so-called liberal Christian group? It seems like heterodox Christianity is about the most boring place one could find oneself, where nothing really matters, nothing is really true, where Christ is not really God, where we all talk about how much we luv eachother (unless one happens to be in the womb), and the only creed is that there is none. For all this Spong like talk of "Christianity must change or die", all I seem to see is that those who have changed the most are dying the fastest.
As to +Martino, he was like an elephant in a china shop, not really that tactful. Yet how many current American Bishops allowed so much abuse to take place, and are still Bishops in "good standing". It seems a bit absurd if he was pressured hard behind the scenes to resign, yet all these other Bishops with real "blood on their hands" quietly resume to hang in their chanceries.
I hope that all my quotation marks and all the rest didn't drive you crazy as a writer. It is a quirk I inherited from my father, and I can't quite seem to beat it.

Mike McShea said...

Good points.

There are two levels of the churches worldwide. One would assume that one level should lead the way into a future, bleak or not. The Spong stuff has no real suggestions for change beyond the poetic level.

Just because the old Edsel model sells well in a non-european setting does not mean that the front office company is in healthy economic or spiritual mode.

The Christian church dies and is reborn about every five hundred years. I would hope that its rebirth in the next century does not restart for a ground zero but is resurrected with a viable gameplan and business model that values humanity, the here and now with social justice, more than it currently seems to.

As for ole Joe Martino, the washing of blood off one’s hands seems to be a standard front office business practice with that exclusive males only Bishop’s club.

Dave said...

What more would you want from Spong? Throwing open the curtains is no small feat and yet you want more? He has exposed a dead end in the it's up to each of us to chart another course. Just because he doesn't point the way is no reason to down grade what he's done. A brilliant mind.

Dave said...

Dying or morphing into something new and exciting? That which is irrelevant is doomed to fade away and be replaced by better ideas. Inter-faith efforts are afoot and that is where the next great ideas will come from unless we destroy ourselves thru fundamentalism and fear. Nowhere in the Koran does it say that a muslim is to convert the non-believer! That is right wing hate speak. God is father of us all..and we better grasp the idea soon.

Anonymous said...

The Bishop's resignation and the flock rebellion have very little or nothing to do with abortion rights, gay rights, or anyone's rights. I'm from Scranton. There are ethnic churches and bars on every corner (Polish, Italian, Russian, Irish, etc.) The Polish people don't go to the Irish church and vice versa. The economy of Scranton has tanked. The population is shrinking and aging. There are no more priests coming through the pipeline. The Bishop has been closing and consilidating the cas-starved ethnic churches and schools, and grandma and grandpa rebelled. No one will give to the Bishop's appeal when their favorite church is being closed, and their favorite priest has been transferred. The Bishop was forced out by the flock (and I wonder if he was told to resign because revenues are down!).

Dave said...

It's always about the money! Preaching to the choir but we understand the dynamic in play here. The RCC is fading away with the decline of the war generation here in the USA but world wide is where the future treasure lies. The well and the mines are going dry in coal country but greener pastures beckon Joe the Pope and his minions.