Howard Thurman felt that “Christianity has betrayed Jesus.” Gandhi agreed and Albert Schweitzer offered this observation: What has been passing for Christianity during these nineteen centuries is merely a beginning, full of weaknesses and mistakes, not a full-grown Christianity springing from the spirit of Jesus.
2000 years of religion in Jesus’ name has not always lived up to its best intentions. Ask the indigenous victims of so-called “Christian empires” and the Doctrine of Discovery and other victims of religious aggression.
The Holy Spirit can make good things out of bad.
Maybe the Holy Spirit gave us 34 years of Popes JP II and Benedict in order to kill the church as we know it. Why?
So Christianity can start over and travel lighter and be more attuned to the real message in the Gospels—to recovering a sense of the Sacred Earth so that the Earth can survive, so that deep ecumenism can thrive and world spiritualities can work together to solve human problems and more.
Maybe to put a vital spirituality ahead of tired religion?
Ratzinger called Creation Spirituality “dangerous and deviant,” but maybe his reign of homophobia, misogyny, religious one-up-manship, approval of fascism, “killing of theology” and avoiding the signs of the times whether science, women or gay rights qualifies as “dangerous and deviant.”
I think this is the historic role that Ratzinger played: By slaying theology and condemning both liberation theology and creation spirituality, by failing to interfere with priestly pedophilia and its hierarchical cover-up and instead elevating people like Cardinal Law, who passed pedophile priests from parish to parish, to head the Maria Maggiore basilica in Rome, by turning his back on the signs of the time, he so deconstructed the church that he made room for a more authentic spirituality in Jesus’ name to grow from the ashes he left behind.
He encouraged people wittingly or unwittingly to move from religion to spirituality.
Maybe now a new thing can happen. Mystics and prophets can flourish. This can happen outside as well as hopefully inside institutional religion. Those who follow Jesus are freer to do so now. Something far closer to Jesus’s message of the presence of the Kingdom/queendom of God among us can flourish.
See Matthew Fox, “Section Four: The End of the Catholic Church as We Know It and the Birth of a Truly Catholic Christianity” in The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved, pp.171-237.
To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.
Queries for Contemplation
Do you believe that the Holy Spirit used two recent popes to kill the church as we know it and render spirituality more important than religion? What follows from that?
Christian Mystics: 365 Readings & Meditations
As Matthew Fox notes, when an aging Albert Einstein was asked if he had any regrets, he replied, “I wish I had read more of the mystics earlier in my life.” The 365 writings in Christian Mystics represent a wide-ranging sampling of these readings for modern-day seekers of all faiths — or no faith. The visionaries quoted range from Julian of Norwich to Martin Luther King, Jr., from Thomas Merton to Dorothee Soelle and Thomas Berry.
“Our world is in crisis, and we need road maps that can ground us I wisdom, inspire us to action, and help us gather our talents in service of compassion and justice. This revolutionary book does just that. Matthew Fox takes some of the most profound spiritual teachings of the West and translates them into practical daily mediations. Study and practice these teachings. Take what’s in this book and teach it to the youth because the new generation cannot afford to suffer the spirit and ethical illiteracy of the past.” — Adam Bucko, spiritual activist and co-founder of the Reciprocity Foundation for Homeless Youth
The Pope’s War: Why Ratzinger’s Secret Crusade Has Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved
The Pope’s War offers a provocative look at three decades of corruption in the Catholic Church, focusing on Josef Ratzinger, Pope Benedict XVI. The final section in the book focuses on birthing a truly catholic christianity.
“This book should be read by everybody, not only for its ferocious courage, but also for its vision for what needs to be saved from the destructive forces that threaten authentic Christianity.” ~ Andrew Harvey, author of The Hope.
“In the gripping The Pope’s War, Matthew Fox takes an unwavering look at the layers of corruption in the Catholic Church, holding moral truth against power.” — Jason Berry, author of Vows of Silence: The Abuse of Power in the Papacy of John Paul II