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25 January 2017 Changing the Conversation (170509) Celebrating More Than 50 Years (170509) Conscience-Based Moral Judgments (170509) Dignitaries Humanae (170509) False Views on Jesus' Views on Divorce (170509) Mission and Human Rights (170509) Jesus and the Ordination of Women (170516) 29 May 2017 How much of Church Doctrine do we really believe? (170602) Trump Pulls Out of Paris Agreement (170602) 05 June 2017 Thoughts on Religious Vocations: An Open Letter to Pope Francis (170605) I can't get the institutional church out of my system (170618) 25 June 2017 Just War? Enough Already (170703) What would Teilhard say? Evolve or be annihilated (170710) Fifteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (170719) Religion's Wax Nose (170726) American Civil Religion (170731) A Heresy of the Times (170807) Cardinal Calls for Global Church (170818) The Price of Being a Prophet (170821) The Implosion of the Roman Catholic Church (170902) Reflection on Racism in America (170913) Who am I? Where am I going? (170918) One Priest's Hopes for the Mass Translation (170925) The Edge of the Inside (171002) Selective Christianity (171016) Theology at the Cutting Edge: Healing the Political and Social Divide in America (171016) Resisting Islamophobia Is The Catholic Thing To Do. (171023) It Started With a Letter to the Archbishop (171030) Why Do We Still Tolerate Mass Stipends? (171106) Their Cross to Bear: Catholic Women Told to Forgive (171113) Papal loyalists become dissidents (171120) Echoes of Theocracy (171127) Will Pope Francis Remove the 'Warning'? (171204) Gumbleton on Nuclear Deterrence (171211) The Scandal of the 2011 Missal (171218)
ARCC News 2018
Prophets of a Future Not Our Own (20180101) 2018: Time to Become Ultra-Human? (20180118) Time for a Bonfire of Their Vanities? (20180122) Until All Are Welcome My House, My Rules: 3 Women "Rejected" (20180208) Policing the Communion Line (20180205) A Time to Judge (20180212) Mary McAleese Being Banned is Embarrassing (20180219) Correct, Don't Complicate Excommunication (20180226) Catholic Tradition, Labour, and Organizing Workers (20180305) Misogyny in the Vatican (20180312) The Unofficial Saint of the Internet (20180318) Francis Invites Change, But We Are the Change (20180325) Rediscovering the Role of Mary Magdalene as Apostle of the Apostles (20180401) Synodality and its Perils (20180409) Get rid of the clergy - But keep Holy Orders (20180415) Renewing the Program of Priestly Formation (20180429) Male and Female, in the image and likeness of God (20180506) Wedding Bans: Why Do Parishes Turn Young Couples Away? (20180513) Christian Humanism, the Path to the Divine (20180520) Mary - Prophet and Priest (20180527) A Wake-Up Call to Liberal Theologians (20160603) Canonization is right for Oscar Romero (20180610) Could the Church take a risk? (20180618) AJC expresses "Profound Concern" over beatification (20180624) The Bible's #MeToo Problem (20180701) 'Humanae Vitae' and the census fidelium (20180715) The Catholic Church wasn't always so against contraception (20180722) 50 years later, scientist's findings on birth control... (20180729) #MeToo, Your Excellency The Catholic Church needs a way to deal with bad bishops (20180812) The Catholic Church is tempted by power and obsessed with sex (20180819) Real change against abuse... (20180826) Pope Francis is facing a crisis of justice (20180829) Catholics Are Facing a Very Real Emergency (20180902) Truth and its violent consequences (20180909) The Third Millennial Catholic Reformation (20180917) Reality in an Historical-Critical Perspective (20180923) Both Prudential & Indisputable (20180930) Catholic Crossroads and Catholic Conflict (20181007) Schism or Evolution? (20181015) Theology: Stones or Bread? (20181028) White Christian America (20181102) Stone Throwing. Or Not. (20181104) Young People, Hope for the Church(es) (20181112) Who Represents the Laity? (20181118) Open Letter to the US Catholic Bishops: It's Over (20181125) From Collegiality to Synodality (20181203) The Birth of the Messiah (20181217) A Non-traditional Blessing for 2019 (20181231)
ARCC News 2019
Epiphany 2019 (20190107) Celibacy isn't the cause of the church sex-abuse crisis; the priesthood is (20190114) How to save Western civilization - again (20190121) Catholic curricula and the invisibility of Native Americans (20190128) Ministry and Power (20190204) A Document on Human Fraternity Our History The Reflection on the Wrath of God (20190224) Read Just One Speech (20190304) Why the Priesthood Needs Women (20190311) "Honest Rituals" argues for sacrament update (20190325) Stop Calling Me "Father" (20190401) The Sexual Abuse Crisis is not a Crisis (20190408) Palm Sunday 2019 (20190414) What Women Want (20190428) Targeting Pope Francis (20190513) Power Sharing Seen As Essential... (20190520) Pde Francis Dithering... (20190527) When the Sky Didn't Fall... (20190603) The Ancient Diaconate of Women (20190609) Bishop Bransfield and the Misuse of Funds (20190616) When it comes to Church reform... (20190624) We asked Catholic Church women if they... (20190630) Women in Christianity - Free to share their wounds (20190707) Can laypeople lead a parish? (20190714) Civility (2190721) Mary the Magdalen (20190729) Faithful America (20190804) Sacralizing Politics (20190811) Tackle Clericalism First (20190818) Failure Guaranteed (20190826) Divorce, Annulment & Communion (20190901) Human Nature & Human Sexuality (20190909) Climate Change Most Important Life Issue (20190915) Being An Open-Minded Believer (20190923) The Laity Hold the Key (20190929) Be Prophetic (20191013) Are You Satisfied With Priestly Ministry? (20191020) Racism - A Challenge to the Church (20191101) Irish Priests Call for... (20191104) McAleese Calls on Pope... (20191111) Top 5 Takeaways from the Amazon Synod (20191111) Thomas Doyle traces the disintegration... (20191202) We've been bishops in 3 Death Penalty states... (20191209) Spirituality (20191223)
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Christmas 2019

President's Message - Advent/Christmas 2019: The Humility of Uncertainty



Contemporary Catholic Belief and Action


The mission of ARCC is to bring about substantive structural change within the Catholic Church by seeking to institutionalize a collegial understanding of church where decision making is shared and accountability is realized among Catholics of every kind and conditio n.
Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates. 
                                          -   Patrick Sullivan, ARCC President
President's Message - Advent/Christmas 2019
The Humility of Uncertainty
A short time ago, I was called by an individual who was concerned about an annulment process for a friend. Most of the call was spent wading through the rather legalistic language associated with marriage, annulments, and all the rules. It was an interesting conversation, to say the least. After the call, I reflected on what had just taken place. The caller was quite surprised to learn that there are few solid answers to these kinds of questions. We were engaged in careful interpretations of words in scripture, along with the formal processes used by the church to resolve such things. Sometimes, I think we are all determined to get firm answers to things that don't avail themselves to such clarity.

A couple of weeks later, I was presenting a class on collaboration. One of the videos that I use in that class is a TED talk about how we can learn to disagree productively by Julia Dhar. She used a phrase in her presentation that really struck me as important - "humility of uncertainty." Her point was that skilled debaters should be willing to rely on this characteristic. That phrase stuck with me for the next few weeks. I wonder about ourselves in terms of our church and even our values and politics. We seem to engage in our disagreements as if we are certain of the truths behind them. My question is: "how can we be so sure of our positions?" We are dealing with issues beyond human knowing. More to the point is how we disagree with one another so unproductively. Whether one is a traditionalist, conservative, liberal, or radical, we argue our points by assaulting the character of those with whom we disagree. Dhar makes a very valid point when she explains that this is not the way to carry on a debate. 

In the readings from the Second Sunday of Advent, we learn about John the Baptist. At one point, he addresses the Sadducees and the Pharisees as a "brood of vipers." (Matthew 3:7) In the homily delivered by my pastor, he describes these two groups as the conservatives and the liberals of that time. Yet, John makes no distinction between them. Perhaps, this is because both groups claim a level of certainty about what is truth. In our own time, we mostly do the same as these groups. We make claims about what others should or should not do based on our convictions of what is preferred by God. I have received letters, emails, and even phone calls from those who disagree with us. These are not particularly cordial messages. Mostly, they are rather ad hominem attacks. 

Looking back on my conversation with my caller who was concerned about the merits of an annulment case, I realized that she was looking for those clear answers, for certainty, in matters that are not always clear. In the process, there was a great deal of parsing of language in scripture to justify a position. The result of the conversation was that she said I left her with a lot to think about. I believe that we can ask for nothing more. In the bigger picture, perhaps we need much more of the "humility of uncertainty." 
I finished a book recently that was a brief history of the papacy. In general, I have to say it did not paint a pretty picture. However, I came away with something of a different perspective. In spite of all the broods of vipers involved in this history, we still have a church. If we take an honest look at our history, we must come away with a stronger faith in the Holy Spirit. We have seemingly done everything we can to screw it up. Yet, we still have a faith tradition that passes on the wisdom of the gospels. 

As we have begun another liturgical year, perhaps it is most fruitful to consider the power of the Holy Spirit and to let go of our need to be right. We have serious disagreements. Christianity itself is now confronting a huge identity crisis. There may even be need for a new reformation. At the same time, we need a "humility of uncertainty" more than ever. As such, the reason for the existence of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church is to preserve the right for each person to seek the truth and to develop their primacy of conscience. There is a good reason not to impose our beliefs on to another person. We walk by faith, not by certainty. The Holy Spirit remains in charge. Our mission "to bring about substantive structural change within the Catholic Church by seeking to institutionalize a collegial understanding of church where decision making is shared and accountability is realized among Catholics of every kind and condition" is more vital than ever. 

I know that you get a ton of requests for financial support from many causes. If you cannot give to us this month, will you consider giving next month? Please support us in whatever way you can. 

I am confident that 2020 will be a productive year for us. So, I wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

Patrick B. Sullivan, DPA
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