Friday, June 27, 2008

Response to St. Leo friends,re "Old Catholic"

This response to the post forwarded by McKechnie re Old Catholics includes a) history of doctrine of infallibility; b) Response of John Henry Cardinal Newman; c) history of celibacy; d) what Jesus said and meant; d) a different view of the RC papacy.

My name is Paschal Baute. I was monk and priest at St. Leo’s for a total of 16 years, from 1952 to 1968, ordained in 1959. While there I served in a number of capacities, prefect of minor seminarians, teaching Latin in Prep, Athletic Director and football coach, Prep, chaplain to Holy Name, organizer and director of the physical education and intramural program of the Prep, 1955 on, Chaplain U.S. Navy Reserve, Dean of Men and Dean of Student Affairs, First two years of St. Leo College, Athletic Director and Soccer Coach. I was also elected by my monastic community (in my absence) to serve on the Abbots senior council.

I resigned my vows in 1968 while declaring I would remain a minister of the gospel. This resignation was for both personal spiritual and theological reasons. This was 9 months before Marion was removed as Abbot.

I am now 79 years old, active in ministry for now almost 50 years. In Lexington, the arenas have been Peace and Justice issues, interfaith dialogue, pastoral psychology, marriage and family counselor, spiritual growth network of Kentucky, prison ministry, teaching Human Resource Management at Midway College, still doing some psychological screening (did the monastic candidates at Gethsemani Abbey for several years) writing and a wedding ministry. My web site is found at My email address is

I have my orders accepted by an independent Catholic jurisdiction that accepts married priests. We have Apostolic succession, and agree in all aspects (sacraments, Eucharist, etc) with the Roman church except the legal jurisdiction of the Vatican over the rest of the Catholic community.

I am blessed to be in reasonably good health, still able to serve God in many ministries, survivor of metastized cancer, after 15 years. All this is to be up front with my background, values and the context of my remarks. Friend John Meyer usually visits once or twice yearly. I will always miss the camaraderie we had at St. Leo. It was a kind of Camelot.

The key issue for Old Catholics is Papal Infallibility. Research reveals much that few Catholics know. The doctrine got inserted into theological speculation by Franciscan factions arguing over the assume absolute poverty of Jesus, as Franciscan wealth accumulated. When Pius IX got the first Vatican council to declare this doctrine, it also declared that this had always been the teaching of the church. This is simply not so, as a previous pope had condemned the doctrine. A number of Austrian, Swiss and German bishops walked out, and even Cardinal Newman disagreed, with the notable Catholic historian of the time, I refer you to the Wikipedia article on dissent to infallibility,

These bishops declared they would remain faithful to the ancient Catholic faith. Their movement in Europe became known as the Old Catholic church. It is with one of those that I am affiliated with, the Celtic Christian church.

Bishop John Henry Newman also disagreed to the catholicity of this new doctrine, but he later changed his mind, and “came around.”

I believe the current Roman Catholic church is not faithful to the gospel of Jesus in a number of ways. Not only celibacy. But this is far too much for an email post.

Old Catholics believe that the popes elected since the orthodox excommunication do not represent the entire Catholic Church, since large groups of faithful orthodox Catholics have been systemically excluded from official discussions in matters of faith and morals. Some go further than others.

Historically and theologically, it is difficult to make a case for the validity of the teaching of papal infallibility. I have research the issue and written on the issue.

A couple of years ago, I receive a “Cease and Desist” order from the RC chancellor here in Lexington. I was offering a monthly Eucharist in a Retirement village that never saw a priest, as well as a prison ministry program that had ten volunteers participating. I responded that I had never called myself a Roman catholic priest, and was not under their jurisdiction.

The first paragraph of my response is as follows:

"Your demand, sir, disregards the explicit command of the Lord. When the apostle John went to Jesus complaining that there was another who was casting out devils in His name and that he was "not of our company." Jesus said "DO NOT STOP HIM..." See Mark 9:38 ff to the end of the paragraph as it is the one that ends with the millstone around someone's neck because of scandal. Question, reverend sir: What reward in heaven shall a minister of the gospel have who tries to STOP another from ministering where he does not, cannot or will not go? " (end of para)

You, or some of you, might be interested to learn that in one instance I cared more about the Roman Catholic priesthood and the diocese than did the bishop himself. .. In the 1990s, as a psychotherapist, I became aware of priests taking sexual advantage of their pastoral counselees. both married and unmarried. I wrote three times to the bishop urging him to undertake training in the psychology of sex and celibacy lest he face serious consequences to his priests and the diocese. (I did not offer my services.) Three times without a single response. Even though he knew me and I had been in his office a number of times, and to others, he had praised my ministries.

When the scandals finally broke, they were devastating to the faith of many Catholics here in Lexington. The local RC bishop also failed to respond appropriately and with pastoral healing to one mother whose young daughter had been abused by a priest. I took the mother to him personally, and although he was “sincerely” apologetic, there was no follow up of offering counseling or pastoral care. None whatever, even though an episcopal fund and committee had been established to deal with such.

In my view, the current RC system is a anti-gospel CULT of leadership, that undermining and prevents true inclusive ministry of service in the following of Jesus, both on the part of RC laity and RC hierarchy. If you want justification of that tendency consider the “Circle the Wagons” approach of the Catholic bishops since the 1980s in the widespread sexual scandals, which have cost the church close to one billion dollars not to mention the effect on laity, abused children and priests.

Still a priest, and blessed in many ways
Paschal Baute.
Lexington, Ky
“Noblesse oblige”

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Jim Wallis: A Transformational Moment.

When the historic legislative milestone of the Voting Rights Act finally passed in 1965, I was still a young teenager. Until then, black people in America didn't have the right to vote. And until the Civil Rights Act passed the previous year in 1964, black Americans had to drink from separate drinking fountains, eat at separate lunch counters, ride at the back of buses, and watch movies only from the balconies of theaters. Then there was all the violence. I remember a civil rights worker from my hometown of Detroit, named Viola Liuzzo, who traveled to the South in order to help black people win the right to vote for the first time. She was murdered for doing so.

I was still in the U.K. on a book tour Tuesday night, just having finished speaking to a forum at the British Parliament with ministers from all three parties about the relationship between faith and politics. Then I stayed up until 4 a.m. to watch Barack Obama claim the nomination of the Democratic Party for president of the United States. It was my birthday the next day, and I recalled those days when the relationship between faith and politics for many black and a few white Christians was that if you stood up for civil rights -- especially the right to vote for black Americans -- it could get you killed. So I was not only blurry-eyed but also more than a little teary-eyed as I watched a young black man announce that he was ready to run for president of the United States, and for most of America to assume that he had a chance to win.

Race was the issue that led to my own confrontation with the church that raised me. It was my "converting issue," though the conversion led me out of the white church of my childhood, not into the church. A church elder bluntly told me one night that "Christianity has nothing to do with racism. That's political and our faith is personal." I was only about 15, but it was the night I think I left, in my head and my heart. And a couple years later, I was gone all together.

The little evangelical church that my parents had started and that was my second home was simply wrong about race -- completely wrong. Race was the issue that fundamentally shaped my early social conscience. What I saw in Detroit and in the country I had grown up to love seemed fundamentally wrong. I learned there were two Detroits and two Americas, one white and one black. And it seemed contrary to the religion my family had taught me to treat people in a fundamentally different way because of the color of their skin. But the church didn't agree and we parted company for most of my student years, with me only coming back to faith after a fresh encounter with the radical gospel of the New Testament. I came back with the realization that God is indeed personal, but never private, and exploring what that means has shaped the rest of my life.

So watching Obama, a black man, win the nomination of a major party for the presidency brought back a virtual flood of memories and feelings. That Barack is a friend of 10 years made it all the more personal. This morning I heard several interviews on NPR with black Americans about their response to Obama's nomination. One older woman said, "A black man running for president, did you hear what just I said? A black man running for president of the United States ...." She just kept repeating the words, and succinctly captured my own personal feelings.

Yes, it is truly historic, and the U.K. newspaper headlines captured that sentiment as did papers around the world. Nothing could change the image of America around the world more than this. But it is more than historic; it is very personal for many of my generation. A new generation just sees this as natural -- he's an inspirational leader who happens to be black, which matters little to them. But for my generation -- I'm dating myself now -- this is a transformational moment, one we didn't think would come in our lifetimes. Race was the issue that changed us, shaped us, determined our path, and even defined the meaning of our faith. Now a black man is running for president of the United States. Amazing grace.

Jim Wallis is the author of The Great Awakening, Editor-in-Chief of Sojourners and blogs at

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Kicked out of the Play Group.

The Ethicist

Kicked Out of the Play Group

My daughter’s play group consists of children ranging in age from infancy to 4 years old. One mother revealed that she does not vaccinate her son. After much frank but cordial discussion and opinions from pediatricians — some thought she endangered our vaccinated kids; others did not — she felt pressured to leave the group. Did the group behave ethically? J.G., PASADENA

The group’s inclination was understandable, but its actions were unfortunate. Parents may — must — provide for their kids’ safety, but should not act unless that safety is truly threatened. Had you thought this mother was a witch who would cast wicked spells on your kids, you would have been wrong to purge her from your midst. A parent may prevent her child from being turned into a toad, but she may not exile someone when there’s no actual risk of toad-turning. You could, however, expel a member who is merely a social or cultural menace — a parent (or precocious but sullen 2-year-old) who curses like a drunken sailor, perhaps.

Did this mother present any such dangers? It can be a tough call to make when pediatricians offer contradictory advice, but the doctors I consulted say she did not imperil your kids, so I say you were wrong to push her out. Her views on vaccination are certainly benighted. Or as Dr. Mark Cullen of the Yale medical school more tactfully puts it, “The data on the harm from vaccines (e.g., autism) is such that the mother’s choice not to vaccinate is a very poor one for her own child.” That is, she endangers not your play group’s vaccinated kids but her own. She also jeopardizes other people’s unvaccinated children. Dr. Michele Barry, Cullen’s wife and also of Yale, cites a statistic from one study: “The likelihood of an unvaccinated child getting measles after exposure is anywhere from 22 to 224 times greater compared to vaccinated kids.”

Assuming that this mother is a congenial person (and you wouldn’t have included her otherwise), you should not exile her simply because she deviates from the group’s thinking. It is possible to socialize with people who have a diversity of ideas, even wrongheaded ones. As Dr. Johnson wrote, “a man accustomed to hear only the echo of his own sentiments, soon bars all the common avenues of delight, and has no part in the general gratification of mankind.” And he is a guy I’d want in my play group.


I telecommute full time for my job as a copy editor for a large business Web site. I plan to spend a month in the Caribbean. Is it ethical to do this without running it by my supervisor? My online presence will remain the same; only my physical location will change. NAME WITHHELD

If your duties are truly unmoored to place — you never drop by the office to swipe supplies (I mean, consult with colleagues face to face) — then pack your laptop and sunscreen and head south. Your supervisor has an interest in how, not where, you do the job. Unless you anticipate a decline in the quality of your work — Antillean computer problems, cellphone vagaries, cataracts and hurricanos that spout until they drench your steeples and drown the cocks, sulfurous and thought-executing fires, oak-cleaving thunderbolts or simply the Siren song of the wi-fi-less beach — I don’t see why this is any of your supervisor’s business. But you might want to mention it: to give information, not to get permission.

Send your queries to or The Ethicist, The New York Times Magazine, 620 Eighth Avenue, 6th Floor, New York, NY 10018, and include a daytime phone number.