Cromey Online

The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Thursday, January 10, 2008

What Are We Doing? 150,000 plus Iraquis Dead

What Are We Doing?

“…a war doesn’t only kill off a few thousand or a few hundred thousand young men (and women) that can never be brought back. And if people go through enough wars so all that is left is the brute - the creatures that you and I and others like us have brought up from the slime…. The scholar [PRIEST] should not be asked to destroy what he has aimed his life to build…. You must remember what you are and what you have chosen to become and the significance of what you are doing.” A teacher to his younger colleague in Stoner, a novel by John Williams

What is it that priests have aimed their lives to build? The Bishop addresses the ordinand and says a lot of churchy stuff and then says, "…you are called to the renewing of this world…. You are to love and serve the people among whom you work, caring alike for young and old, strong and weak, rich and poor. You are to preach to declare God’s love to penitent sinners….” Later we “pray that (PRIEST) may be to us an effective example in word and action, in love and patience and in holiness of life.”

As I read over the vows and expectations in the ordination service, they are Jesus, church, bishop, scripture, sacrament, and pastoral related. They are quite unspecific and in fact provide a lot of freedom and leeway of interpretation left to the individual’s interpretation.

The young and not-so young, newly ordained look to the bishop for leadership. When the bishop loves raising money, building retreat centers and saying nothing of the social and political issues of our time, the new clergy will do the same. Too bad so few clergy realize the tremendous freedom they have to develop their own values and abilities to participate for love and justice in the church and state.

Glancing through the sermon on the Mount, which should be the required reading for the ordination of bishops, priests and deacons, one reads what Jesus calls us clergy to do and be: peacemakers, prepared for persecution, show mercy, seek justice - to see right prevail. Our lives are aimed to build love, peace, justice, forgiveness, safety for the dispossessed and hungry.

In the novel Stoner the hero decides not to go to war and kill others because he does not want to destroy what he has aimed his life to build.” Priests cannot go to war to kill or support a war to kill, as that destroys what they have aimed their lives to build.

But it is the same for all Christians. “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” This is the social policy part of the baptismal vows. So often these wonderful words are spoken without any specifics. We aim our lives to build justice and peace and respect the dignity of every human being. Specifically, this means to do all we can to stop this present war in Iraq and Afghanistan. It means we work and pay taxes that all may have adequate medical care. The same goes to make sure people have food and housing.

This is the significance of what we are doing as priests and lay people in the Christian Church.



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