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BLOG * * * Catholic Voices From the Margins * * * BLOG

This Blog, sponsored by the Catholic Church of the Beatitudes, aims to provide a forum where insightful voices "from the margins" can be published online and gain a wider readership. We hope that both current and former Catholics will feel free to contribute.

To read comments or respond to any topic posted, click on its title. Provide your name — or just your initials — and your e-mail address (which won't be posted or passed on), and paste or write your comment in the window provided. Brief responses have a better chance of being published than lengthy ones.

We also welcome suggestions for new threads (top-level posts) and other constructive feedback. Please e-mail Voices{at}beatitudes-sb.org. The Moderators are a small group of Bloggers in the Church of the Beatitudes community who donate their time and talent to manage this little ministry.

What Mass Are You Going To?

I have been asked to share some of the articles I wrote this year (2013) as a member of the Beatitudes’ Vatican II Committee, celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Vatican II. This first reflection is about "Vatican II and the Liturgy." 

Recently this month, our own Mary Becker graciously announced after Mass how grateful she was for our wonderful Beatitudes community. She had gone to a reunion at her alma mater, St. Mary’s College, and had heard many stories from her classmates who did not have the same good fortune in their parish liturgies. These women felt that the Church's hierarchy — beginning with Pope John Paul II and continuing under Pope Benedict XVI — had been suppressing many of the profound changes made to the liturgy at Vatican II. It need not have been so.

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Stop Politicizing Communion

There are many ways the Roman Catholic Church has used to push Catholics into the  margins.  One of these is to use the Sacrament of Communion to single out those whom it sees as particularly undesirable. 

Recently we read of an incident in Gaithersburg, Maryland where a priest aimed his arrogance at a lesbian.  As the woman approached to receive, the priest denied her Communion by putting put his hand over the chalice – at her mother's funeral! 

Several years ago, during the 2004 presidential campaign, Democratic candidate John Kerry, while campaigning in Missouri, was refused Communion because of his position as a pro-choice supporter.  And what may happen to Joe Biden now that he's public about his support for gay marriage?  

I am part of a Catholic community in Santa Barbara presided over by an ordained Roman Catholic womanpriest. A member of our church was refused Communion at another local church because of her affiliation with us.  It happened again just last week. When the Communicant stepped up to receive, the priest lowered the host.  And then there are divorced Catholics who are often made to feel guilty and marginalized; many don't think they can even enter a Catholic church, much less be offered Communion.      

Those who hold a pro-choice position, gays, supporters of women's ordination, the divorced. What will be the next egregious “offense” the Church will find to put itself between a communicant and God? 

To receive the Sacrament of Communion is an intimate and tangible moment of the coming together of the human and the divine.  Our Creator invites all of us to come to the table and receive new life.  A Catholic priest is called to serve all, including those who have been forced to the margins by ignorance and arrogance. – KD

Invisible – one mother’s odyssey


Seven pregnancies in ten years.  Is that okay as far as a woman’s mental, physical and psychological health is concerned?   Or is it too much?

I entered into all seven of those pregnancies with an open heart and felt grateful for the caring man I chose to share my life with and to be the father of my children.  However, that still does not answer the question about the effect of seven pregnancies in ten years. The question was a struggle for my generation.  It is less of a struggle for younger women.  When I was a child, we were taught to obey.  Women of today are taught to ask questions.

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Being Catholic


It is said that the second largest ”church” in the United States is disengaged Catholics.   As a child, I remember that we called such people “unchurched.”  Others called them”fallen away.”  I was part of that church on and off for years.  But I was still Catholic in my bones.  I was “on” when my children were growing up and going to Catholic schools.  “Off” was after my sons left for college, stopped practicing their faith and also became disengaged Catholics. 

Attending Sunday mass had been a habit for me, an occasion to look after my own spiritual needs. But one day I walked out of the service feeling sad, just generally disappointed and empty, asking myself, for the last time, “Why do you do this to yourself?”  It was years before I attended another traditional Catholic Mass.  But many times I sat around a dinner table with close, mostly female, friends, held hands and prayed.  We ended by saying, “We are church.”  We shared a meal prepared and blessed by all of us, our Eucharist.  We loved one another, we were part of one another's lives, we listened to the spiritual longings in our hearts, we lit candles to represent Christ in our midst.  Some may call that being on the “margins” of the Catholic church – perhaps so, it's not important.  I call it “finding divinity in the midst of humanity.”  I'm starting to see that I'm no longer on the margins of anything.  – KD 

Environmental theology – radical indeed!

Food for thought: Are we called to be keepers of our planet, Mother Earth? Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good just posted this worthwhile reflection: "Recently, former Sen. Rick Santorum claimed that President Obama was following a 'radical environmental theology.' As Patrick Carolan, executive director of the Franciscan Action Network, writes in this week's Common Good Forum, there are few things more traditional, and less radical, for Catholics – and especially for Franciscans – than a theology rooted in a love for the earth and dedicated to responsible environmental policies." – TH

Why punish the Catholic prophets of our time?

I have met, read and listened to eminent theologians such as Fr. Charles Curran and Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, who have been investigated concerning the orthodoxy of their writing.  I simply don’t understand the arrogance of the Church in their lack of dialogue or Christian treatment of these two.  I have mentioned just these two theologians, but the list unfortunately is long and distinguished. 

Fr. Roy Bourgeois, the founder of the School of the Americas Watch, comes to mind for his standing up for the ordination of women and the Roman Catholic Womenpriest movement.  His punishment for speaking out publicly has been to be told he must recant or he would be banished from his order and the priesthood.  – HB

How we treat gay people – a personal story

Since this is a blog about stories from the margins, I will tell you about my grandson, who after eight years with his girlfriend/wife realized that he is gay.  After they divorced, he found someone, a man, with whom to share his life.  I ached when the Catholic Church led the way alongside the Mormon Church to deny the right for gay people to marry in the state of California.   I worked for the "No on 8" campaign because I believe that civilly they have every right to be married and that their love and commitment is a valid as that of a man and a woman.  – HB

Things that cause me to question

After I was married birth control became an issue when I had my fifth child in eight years.  I could see that my emotional and physical health would be better served if I limited the number of children we would be able to responsibly care for and rear. 

As the years have passed and I have grown in maturity, made mistakes and I think learned from them.  Some were wise choices and some were not, but I think in reflecting on them I was able to grow as an individual and in my relationship with God.  I continue to find many issues that cause me to question because the Church at this point in history seems more concerned with following rules and making judgments rather that being compassionate.  Why would a priest or minister of communion be put into the role of judging who could and who could not receive?  Why would one whole group of people in our society be looked upon as disordered?  Why are some theologians silenced or their words devalued without any true dialogue? Why have women been relegated to such a minor role in the church?  Why didn’t we pastorally lead the way in responding to victims of pedophilia rather than trying to protect ourselves from law suits?  Where was our sense of outrage when the women religious were exposed to the investigation/evaluation from Rome?  As you can see, I have more questions than I have answers. – HB

From the Margins? What does that mean?

This blog of Voices From the Margins has caused me to reflect on what “being on the margins” or “being marginalized” means.  Of course I have heard the term used referring to the poor, but I asked myself, “Is that me when I think of the Catholic Church?” The definition of marginalized that came up on the web was: “to relegate to an unimportant or powerless position within a society or group . . .  to relegate to a lower or outer edge . . . to place in a position of marginal importance, influence, or power.”  As much as it hurts, those words describe me fairly well when I look at where I stand with the Church, and probably where some in the Church would place me.  How did I get here? 

I suppose over the years I have made small and large choices not to blindly accept everything the church says.  Life experiences caused me to rethink, question and move away from the parental decisions that it seemed the church was making for me.  First was probably when I went to a public college after Catholic elementary and high school and I realized that non-Catholic people were often full of integrity, very ethical and prayerful.  We were not taught that people outside the faith didn’t have those qualities but there was a sense of superiority about “our faith.” – HB