A few weeks ago, my co-worker asked me where all the activist Catholics had gone. “What has happened to the Daniel Berrigans and Dorothy Days?” she asked me, the resident Catholic on a fairly secular staff (I won’t even get into all the other questions I got asked as the staff anomaly).
I said, “Oh, they’re out there …” Daniel Berrigan is still alive, and his nieces and nephew (Philip’s children) are living at Catholic worker houses, protesting corporate imperialism, and researching the effects of nuclear weapons. Dorothy Day’s movement of Catholic Worker houses has created thousands of opportunities for people to live a life in the spirit of what she valued (and to adapt them to the present day). As for outspoken priests, perhaps Father Roy Bourgeious of the Maryknolls has been the most controversial priest speaking for justice for women in the church, earning him excommunication (and thus new friends and enemies around the globe).
I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on this blog and how far it has come. It was launched about a year ago on Pentecost 2008. It grew out of a concern that the Catholic blogging world is dominated by conservative voices. That’s fine, but on a sociological level, it’s only a small sampling of who makes up the American Catholic Church. We wanted to provide a sampling of the other side of the coin – to show that there are young Catholic voices that weren’t being heard, yet were just as committed and faithful to the Catholic traditions for social justice as others.
One of the repercussions after the termination of Ms. Ruth Kolpack at St. Thomas the Apostle Church in Beloit, Wisconsin, is that several progressive and middle-of-the-road Catholics are quite unhappy with the Diocese’s decision. Some have called for consequences for her termination by Bishop Robert Morlino (see this article that I wrote for the National Catholic Reporter), including withholding their contributions to the Diocese unless their beloved friend and teacher was reinstated. That is not happening, so now many Catholics in the Diocese of Madison are facing the tough choice of whether to give to a Diocese whose decisions they don’t agree with. While making this financial statement, they also risk cutting important social service programs.
A friend just passed on this article from Catholic News about Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide providing a public apology to the Sisters of St. Joseph after what he deemed the wrongful excommunication of Mary MacKillop in 1871. He provided this apology as a statue of Mary MacKillop was going up in the plaza of Victoria Square.
This is the first time that I’ve heard of an excommunication overturned (can someone provide information on other ones? What a fascinating topic!). It reminds me of other Catholics who weren’t so appreciated in the time that they were on Earth, but have later become appreciated by the Church’s hierarchy (both Galileo and Dorothy Day come to mind).
Two opportunities have struck me this past week as being helpful on a spiritual journey:
There is a Benedictine monastery in my hometown of Middleton, Wisconsin, (recently named the #1 place to live by Money Magazine!). The monastery recently became ecumenical, opening its doors to Christians of all faiths for the opportunity to live a communal, monastic lifestyle. They have about 130 acres near Lake Mendota, a short drive from downtown Madison. They currently have an opportunity for a 2-week to 2-month internship over the summer: Continue reading →
Nicole Sotelo wrote a beautiful column for the National Catholic Reporter last week on the Church and true apologies. It reminded me of the Indigo Girls’ hit Galileo, in part because it’s been in our car on repeat for awhile, as well as the upcoming concert they are putting on to celebrate the Progressive Magazine’s 100th year anniversary here in Madison. But more importantly, Galileo Galilei is always on my mind when people tell me that what the Church teaches is final. It’s just not true.
A few months ago, someone on the board suggested we talk about Postville, Iowa, and the immigration raids that took place there last May 2008. I had followed what had happened at the time, but was a bit naive in how it is still effectively destroying the community. I called Father Paul Ouderkirk to see if he would be available to come to Madison, not really knowing how he was as a speaker. Right away, I knew he was perfect. He was completely fired up, saying that the destruction the community continues to face is real and cannot be forgotten.