In the 3 years since I left the Roman Catholic Church to venture out on my own as an indendent Catholic priest in an independent Catholic parish, I have experienced a few blows at the hands of the domination system. I was summarily dismissed from my music director’s position of 10 years, fired from my part time job as sacristan at a wealthy, white parish, and perhaps most disappointing, I lost virtually all the friendships and cordial relationships with the other clergy and laypeople I had come to know over the years. These are, to be sure, small prices to pay for my having taken a personal stand for the People of God and against the domination system, but just today I was reminded again of the preoccupation of some within the larger system to continually look for opportunities to punish those who have spoken up, raised ethical concerns or, God forbid, had the audacity to leave the Roman Brotherhood. The Roman Church has made it clear that no one will criticize its policies or its leadership, as evidenced today on CNN. http://religion.blogs.cnn.com/2010/06/28/pope-reprimands-cardinal-over-sex-abuse-criticism/
The cost to me personally is minimal at best, but to encounter open hostility from the Roman diocese three years after I left is surprising and strangely unsettling. It was to be expected that they refer to me as “Mister” Holland instead of Father Holland–that is standard institutional practice for showing disdain for the vocation of someone previously held in high regard. That is what clerical shunning is all about. What did come as a surprise was that someone in authority would still be harboring such passionate feelings against me personally, particularly in a diocese where the hymn, “All Are Welcome” is sung routinely at Mass, including at the cathedral parish. If I was inconsequential, they would extend to me the usual benign neglect, but because Holy Redeemer continues to grow and reach out to the very ones the Roman Church doesn’t want anything to do with, they felt the need to “put me in my place”. So I thank them for the compliment! Their attention to me and my whereabouts means we are being successful in bringing the news that God is love and that “Catholic” doesn’t have to mean “Roman”.
(Perhaps, in the interest of honest advertising, they need to place an asterisk after the title of that hymn, with a footnote that reads, “Some Restrictions Apply.”)