Church is Weak, But God is Strong

To the Editor,

Re: "Married Priests," July 18. I was 14 when I went to the seminary and left after 31 years as a priest to get married.

The world is undergoing a profound change in its global spiritual awareness brought on by Internet communication. Thus all institutions must adapt, change and improve. The human potential is driven by sexuality, spirituality and relationships. The Catholic Church is hierarchical, misogynistic and paternalistic and therefore resistant to change to preserve its power, control and possessions. When it did change in 1965 it took only a few years to retrench itself back to its conservative roots.

Some bishops need to retire, resign, go to prison, be demoted, or fired. They are promoted for their passivity and continue to act and write passively--"Mistakes have been made" rather than "I made a mistake!" Scapegoating the priests only makes clergy angry, fearful and sad, leading to depression. If there is no restructuring of the way bishops are selected and appointed and changes in the selection and training of seminarians then there will be a continual erosion of clergy and laity. In the priesthood today each year 600 die, 600 retire, 600 are ordained, 600 leave to get married, 200 die of AIDS and 200 leave as pedophiles for a total reduction of 1,500 a year. In 2003 there will be more married priests than so called "celibate" priests.

We need to allow the 25,000 married priests to return to ministry. There should be term limits for bishops, priests and pope. There should be term limits for clergy in parishes.

The clergy need a safe place to do some grieving and healing in bereavement groups to discharge anger, sadness, guilt, shame and fear because right now they are in various stages of depression. This only increases the stress they already have.

The "Elephant Dancing in the Sacristy," "Sanctuary Trauma" and "The Pontius Pilate Syndrome" of washing our hands of responsibility must be addressed soon.

The laity are angry, shocked, sad, hurt, fearful, surprised, embarrassed and chagrined.

There must be adequate, safe, secure and open means for clergy and laity to communicate, negotiate, compromise and share in the authority and responsibility of the church they call Catholic. All this needs to happen immediately on an evolving basis with assistance from professionals in the area. Priests' canonical and civil rights must be respected and victims need to be interviewed by sensitive retired detectives and a witness of the same gender as the victim who has experienced sexual abuse.

Part of the church is dying while another is being resurrected. Both bishops and CEOs are more concerned with the institution's image, self perpetuation and profit line than the protection of their shareholders and laity, which has led to denial and distrust.

The Holy Spirit is cleaning up the mess with truth, honesty, integrity, hope and love. God is in charge of healing, restoring and forgiving. We need to surrender and let go. God does not love us because we are good. We are good because God loves us! The days of praying, paying and obeying as long as we are hatched, matched and dispatched are finished. All God's people must take responsibility for their spirituality and actively foster, nourish and spread their faith with deeds, not words. It's a choice, a decision. Where do we stand? Is God the center of our life?

Some may not like or enjoy what I have stated above but I defend my right to say it and everyone else's right to disagree and state their own truth. My motto has always been: "To comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."

--Rev. Lawrence Quilici
Pastor, Church of Immanuel

Pull the Rug Out

To the Editor,

The Skinny has always been an entertaining read, but I feel compelled to take issue with the August 1 commentary regarding Pete Hershberger. I've known Pete Hershberger for over 20 years, and while I'm a lifelong Democrat, I respect him for his intelligence and integrity. The insinuation that he is a "carpetbagger" in the new legislative District 26 is completely misleading. Pete has lived in the district all his life until the latest round of political gerrymandering.

Perhaps even more ludicrous was the assertion that Pete is "not one of the brighter bulbs in the legislative light display." He's probably one of the few legislators that could pass the AIMS test and I would wager a bet that he would score among the top on an intelligence test when compared to his political peers. I've never known a harder working individual than Pete and he's definitely 150 watts compared to most of our legislators who are "not noted for their massive wattage."

I do agree with the observation that Pete's moderate views on social policies have made him a target for the conservative neanderthal segment of the GOP. I'm grateful we have a Republican legislator like Pete Hershberger who gives a damn about education, children's issues and other "Democratic" policies.

--Phillip Shelley

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