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|Today's Take: NCR's daily Web column|
|Each weekday over the course of a week, a member of the NCR staff offers a commentary on one or more topics in the news. It's our way of introducing you to some of the people carrying out the NCR mission of faith and justice based journalism.|
|November 19, 2003||
Vol. 1, No. 153
Talking about celibacy
By Tom Fox, NCR publisher
Today we talk with the man himself.
NCR: How do the issues raised in your 1991 book The Dysfunctional Church: Addiction and Codependency in the Family of Catholicism get expanded in Rethinking Celibacy?
My understanding of the addictive nature of the institutional church has moved to a deeper analysis of the sickness that underlies the addiction itself; this is abuse. I came to this conclusion from the U.S. bishops' own definition of abuse as "any way one uses to control another through fear and intimidation." Right now the clerical group, from the parochial to the episcopal and from the curial to the papal levels of the institutional church, are able to maintain their unilateral control, not through the power of their theology, but the power of their control ensured through canon law.
What is the essential message the bishops are not "getting" that they need to hear to continue the discussion on celibacy and restoring credibility in the church?
That's a very difficult question. If their hearts, collectively, are part of the system, they too live in fear and intimidation. Everyone is afraid of facing the truth and unmasking the lie that the God of the universe, in whom there can be no discrimination, actually wants or wills, much less graces, such a system. The bishops have said the abuse or violence I noted above is sinful. Somebody's got to practice the truth in love and tell the bishops and curia that the system they call "graced," or of God, is actually sinful in its institutional expression.
Since the heart, biblically, is the seat of our thinking, feeling and actions, I believe effective strategies must address our theology, the fear factor, and the present mode of acting that is constitutively unjust insofar as it now seems a human law (celibacy) is more important for the future of the church than a divine law (Eucharist). Therefore, theologically I am trying to change peoples' thinking about the theological warrants that have isolated what I call "the church of Matthew 16" from the "church of Matthew 18." Both have been given by Christ the power "to bind and loose." We must find, with 16's "keys" and 18's "abiding presence" a new way of governing.
What is the vision you have for the church?
The bishops and curia insist that celibacy (a man-made rule) must be preserved even as more and more communities are unable to celebrate the Eucharist. I believe if we envision a church that is truly Trinitarian at all levels, including its organizational level, there can be no discrimination among persons, relationship must be equal and all must have full access to all the resources (i.e., sacraments) available.
You have not really given a vision for the future of the church. Could you try again to flesh one out?
Tom Fox is NCR publisher. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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