Sunday, July 31, 2011

Erin go Bonkers

Interesting insight on the causes and possible consequences of the Irish crisis from George Weigl, distinguished senior fellow of Washington’s Ethics and Public Policy Center, where he holds the William E. Simon Chair in Catholic Studies. He says the Vatican should start over by replacing all the bungling Irish bishops. Might not this apply in other countries with massive coverups also?

JULY 29, 2011 4:00 A.M.
Erin Go Bonkers
A radical proposal for the desperately needed reform of the Irish Church

While America’s attention has been absorbed in recent weeks by domestic affairs, something quite remarkable has become unmistakably clear across the Atlantic: Ireland — where the constitution begins, “In the name of the Most Holy Trinity” — has become the most stridently anti-Catholic country in the Western world.


There can be no doubt that the crisis of clerical sexual abuse — and the parallel crisis of local Catholic leadership that failed to address the problem — has been especially acute in Ireland. Benedict XVI condemned both the abuse and the coverup of abuse in a stinging letter to the entire Church in Ireland 16 months ago, a letter that condemned abusers and their enablers while offering a heartfelt apology to victims. Apostolic visitations of the principal Irish dioceses and seminaries have been undertaken, on Vatican orders, by bishops from the United States, Canada, and Great Britain; their reports, one understands, have been blunt and unsparing.

What has not happened, and what ought to happen sooner rather than later, is a wholesale replacement of the Irish hierarchy, coupled with a dramatic reduction in the number of Irish dioceses. Ireland is in desperate need of new and credible Catholic leadership, and some of it may have to be imported: If a native of Ireland could be archbishop of New York in 1850, why couldn’t a native of, say, California be archbishop of Dublin in 2012? The United States and Canada, in particular, have Anglophone bishops who have demonstrated their capacity to clean house and reenergize dioceses evangelically. Thus the Vatican, not ordinarily given to dramatic change, might well consider clearing the Irish bench comprehensively and bringing in bishops, of whatever national origin, who can rebuild the Irish Church by preaching the Gospel without compromise — and who know how to fight the soft totalitarianism of European secularists.


The deeper question that the past several weeks of Catholic-bashing in Ireland has raised — How on earth did this most Catholic of countries become violently anti-Catholic? — touches on the modern history of independent Ireland; serious answers to that question are likely to offer little comfort to either Irish romantics or defenders of the old alliances between Church and state.

Sixty years into the 20th century, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, and Quebec were among the most intensely Catholic nations on the planet. Fifty years later, Quebec is the most religiously arid space between Point Barrow and Tierra del Fuego; Portuguese Catholicism, outside the pilgrimage shrine of Fatima, is hardly robust; Spain has the most self-consciously secularist government in Europe; and Ireland has now become the epicenter of European anti-Catholicism. What happened?
Perhaps some comparative history and sociology suggest an answer. In each of these cases, the state, through the agency of an authoritarian government, deliberately delayed the nation’s confrontation with modernity. In each of these cases, the Catholic Church was closely allied to state power (or, in the case of Quebec, to the power of the dominant Liberal party). In each of these cases, Catholic intellectual life withered, largely untouched by the mid-20th-century Catholic renaissance in biblical, historical, philosophical, and theological studies that paved the way toward the Second Vatican Council. And in each of these cases, the local Catholicism was highly clerical, with ordination to the priesthood and the episcopate being understood by everyone, clergy and laity alike, as conferring membership in a higher caste.

Then came le déluge: the deluge of Vatican II, the deluge that Europeans refer to as “1968,” and the deluge of the “Quiet Revolution” in la Belle Province. Once breached, the fortifications of Counter-Reformation Catholicism in Spain, Portugal, Quebec, and Ireland quickly crumbled. And absent the intellectual resources to resist the flood-tides of secularism, these four once-hyper-Catholic nations flipped, undergoing an accelerated course of radical secularization that has now, in each case, given birth to a serious problem of Christophobia: not mere indifference to the Church, but active hostility to it, not infrequently manifested through coercive state power.
This, then, is the blunt fact that must be faced by bishops, priests, and lay Catholics who want to build the Church of Vatican II, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI — the Church of a New Evangelization — out of the wreckage of the recent Irish past: In Ireland, as in the other three cases, the Church’s close relationship with secular power reinforced internal patterns of clericalism and irresponsibility that put young people at risk, that impeded the proclamation of the Gospel, and that made the Church in these places easy prey for the secularist cultural (and political) wolves, once they emerged on the scene.

And that is why the leadership that Catholic Ireland needs may have to be imported, at least in part. Men of indisputable integrity and evangelical passion who have no linkage to this sad, and in some instances tawdry, history are needed to lead the Irish Catholic reform for which Benedict XVI has called. I know no serious observer of the Irish Catholic scene, anywhere, who disputes the necessity of clearing the current bench of bishops; I also know no one who thinks that a reconfigured Irish episcopate, even one leading fewer dioceses, can be drawn entirely from the resident clergy of Ireland today. This may be one factor leading to the current languid pace in reforming the Irish hierarchy; and that lassitude is what gave Taoiseach Kenny the opening for his latest rabid attack on the Church, the Holy See, and the Pope. All the more reason, then, to make the reform of the Church in Ireland truly radical by looking outside Ireland for men capable of helping lead this once-great Church back to evangelical health.

Entire article at the National Review

Stifled by weight of Rome's pomp, power and subborn patriarchy

The following article from the Irish Catholic asks "what would St. Patrick do?" and suggests some Catholics are beginning to think schism, i.e. an Irish Catholic Church independent of Rome. This is interesting comparing to developments elsewhere, e.g. in Austria and in the recent column about the threat of a possible American schism noted here recently. This gives a sense of deep seated historical problems between Roman Catholicism and the Irish people.

he Irish Church seems to be mobilising itself for a schismatic war, writes Carol Hunt
in the Irish Catholic
July 30, 2011

WHAT with the Taoiseach being compared to Hitler, the Vatican throwing a hissy fit and the rest of the world enthralled at little Catholic Ireland standing up to the big boys in Rome, perhaps it's time we asked: "What would St Patrick do?" Not the snake-slaying, shamrock-waving bishop of later invention, but the Patrick of humanity and pragmatism, with all his foibles, failings, loss of faith, love of women and bloody awful Latin.

Because, since the Taoiseach fired the first official salvo against Rome, the Irish Church seems to have been mobilising itself for a schismatic war. As Catholic commentator David Quinn noted: "It is as though we are now being asked to choose between the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, and the Irish Catholic Church. Catholics in the past have had to make a similar choice. How will we choose?" Bishop Willie Walsh, Fr Enda McDonagh, and the Jesuit theologian Fr Gerry O'Hanlon, among others, have advocated the idea of an Irish synod involving clergy and laity -- and, God bless us, women too -- to map out the future of the church. As O'Hanlon has noted: "It will not
do any more for priests, bishops, cardinals, the Pope to simply tell us what to think, what to do. People rightly want a say." Is this heresy, or just a return to the church of our ancestors?
Well, it's probably fair to say that the idea would go down like a cup of cold sick in the Vatican. God knows what would happen if some of those more outspoken Irish clergy (like the ones who called the new translation of the missal sent from Rome "elitist" and "sexist") got
together with a disillusioned, increasingly secular and very angry Irish populace. Ninety-five theses? I bet they could come up with 195. Are we about to have our own Reformation?

Well, we weren't always good Roman Catholics. Though historians no more accept the idea of a unified "Celtic Church" than they do a united Celtic people, it wasn't until the Synod of Whitby in 664, about 150 years after the death of St Patrick (who, if he was sent to
"Romanise" us -- very doubtful, he was later confused with Bishop Palladius who got short shrift from the Irish -- failed miserably) that the highly individual, monastic, forgiving and relatively egalitarian Irish Church submitted somewhat to Roman law.

According to one historian: "Irish Christianity was pure, spiritual, intensely personal, dedicated only to the absolute word of God. Rome's was materialistic, tightly organised, widely social in intent, intolerantly conformist." But after the decline of the Roman Empire, the so-called Golden Age of Irish monasticism blossomed when we modestly declared that our
monks, abbots and abbesses (mixed religious communities existed) "saved civilisation". Celibacy was a choice, not a necessity, and many church offices were handed from father to son -- and even sometimes, it was rumoured, to daughter.
But then came the Vikings, disorder, disruption and the implementation of Gregorian reforms. From 1111 a series of synods changed the monastic Irish Church into a parish-based system. They still weren't overfond of celibacy though, or of sending cash to Rome. And consequently the (forged?) papal bull of Pope Adrian I was used by the Angevin King Henry II as an excuse to invade Ireland.
Chronicler Gerald of Wales complained: "Of all peoples it [Irish Catholics] is the least instructed in the rudiments of the Faith. They do not
pay tithes or first fruits or contract marriages. They do not avoid incest. They do not attend God's church with holy reverence."

Oh dear. Well, Gerald had a habit of exaggerating, but it can still be said quite truthfully that the official reason for the Norman invasion of Ireland was to turn us all into good Roman Catholics. Now, how ironic is that? Did it succeed? Well yes, up to a point -- in that the hierarchical structure of the Roman Church most definitely replaced the Irish monastic one. But now that the great days of the learned monks had ended, the general mass of people never bothered with all that Roman theological stuff, preferring a mix of ancient pagan beliefs and rituals combined with an Irish style Catholicism. Celebrations at holy wells, harvest bonfires and wild Irish wakes co-existed with a soft Catholicism practised under
the Penal Laws. Mass and confession weren't such a big deal for the average Irish peasant. And anyway, there were never enough priests to go around. Hanging was a pretty good deterrent to vocations.

It wasn't until after the great famine that Roman Catholic Ireland as we know it was eventually established. The old superstitions had failed to protect the people from catastrophe, and the newly emancipated, increasingly middle-class Roman Church (heavily influenced by Victorian attitudes to sexuality) was well set to step into the breach. The "devotional revolution" commandeered by the Roman-trained Cardinal Paul Cullen revolutionised the Irish Church. The British cheerfully handed control of new schools and hospitals to the clergy -- a cynical move as they knew the threat of eternal damnation from a bishop was a most excellent deterrent against sin. We became the "Jewel in the Vatican Crown" as impoverished mothers gave their younger children -- whether they wanted to go or not -- to the Church in the hope of earning honour and prestige for the family. We had so many "Mammy vocations" that we began to export our religious abroad. Mass attendance increased exponentially. And national identity became inextricably linked with Roman Catholicism. So when the British finally left, the real victor was not so much the Irish people but the Roman Catholic Church.

Perhaps future historians will look back on the 20th century as an unfortunate period when the Irish replaced one foreign overlord for another, with disastrous consequences.
Perhaps the Irish clergy calling for a national synod to discuss the future of the Catholic Church will realise that whereas Ireland has given so much to Rome, Rome has given little in return -- bar contempt for our laws, our women and children and our young, struggling

There are still many Irish people who sincerely desire to maintain a spiritual, Catholic religion. Yet they are finding it impossible to do so under the weight of Roman pomp, power and stubborn patriarchy. Yet community, spirituality and ritual are still very important to many Irish Catholics. Do Wiccans Have Hymns? asked writer Barbara Scully in a blog post last week where she articulated the innate desire of many lapsed Catholics to be members of a church that valued community, equality, spirituality, ritual and support rather than the inflexible "doctrinal truths", invented over the centuries by Rome. She is not a "secular-atheist or pseudo-rationalist", and neither are the majority of the Roman Church's critics in Ireland and abroad. Nor are they so ignorant as to be blindly led by some imagined "hysterical anti-Catholic media agenda".

What would the humble, nomadic Patrick we know from his Confession do? Would he support the Church of Rome in its attempts to retain control of its empire? Or would he advocate a return to the simple, spiritual yet pragmatic practices of the early Irish Church? What do you think?

Commonwealth's answer to Pretrial Motions

The Philadelphia prosecutors in the case against Msg. Lynn, a top diocesan official charged with criminal conspiracy in endangering children wanted to block the grand jury testimony of Cardinal Bevilaqua given previously on the grounds that the Cardinal is now ill and senile. The court denied this motion and some of the Cardinal's testimony was released publicly. Below is part of the argument of the State of Pennsylvania to release this testimony, essentially stating that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia acted like a criminal organization.

In the present case, when the crimes often involve agreeing to do nothing when action is called for to protect children - and when the co-conspirators worked for an organization that was systematically covering up evidence and producing documents using obscure language so that their true meaning could not be ascertained - the task is especially complex. The Commonwealth cannot point to merely a few pages in notes of testimony, or a handful of documents, to prove that the actions of Lynn and the priests in this case were part of a decades-long conspiracy that endangered children.

To understand Lynn's interactions with Avery and Brennan, a fact finder needs to look at the files of dozens of other priests whom Lynn supervised. What might look like an innocuous transfer, an accidental omission, or a mistake in judgment in a single case can only be understood as intentional when it is repeated over and over in the handling of other abusers in the priesthood.

The fact finder cannot fully comprehend the deliberate deception that Lynn and others employed to help sexual predators remain in assignments with access to children without reading the entire testimony of Archdiocese officials - including Lynn, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Bishop Edward Cullen, and Bishop Joseph Cistone, - as they tried to explain their handling of known and admitted rapists and serial molesters. (Notes of their testimony before Grand Juries XVIII and XIX are included in this response as Appendices G, H, I, and J, and have been made available to defendants.) (Note 4: Notes of testimony cited in this response are included in Appendix F. They have been made available to defendants.) These are not witnesses who told the grand juries openly and honestly what they did and what they knew. There are no discreet passages in which they describe their common understanding that, rather than expose pedophiles or report them to police, they would instead choose to put parish children at risk. Their methods are revealed only in thousands of pages of documentary evidence - and in the church officials' dissembling, inconsistent, blameshifting, and evasive answers over numerous days of testimony.

Three grand juries spent over four years amassing the evidence that establishes the conspiracy between Lynn and the abusive priests he supervised. Judge Hughes reasonably found that repeating the evidence heard by the Grand Jury at a preliminary hearing, and then again at trial, would entail an enormous and unnecessary drain on judicial resources. Given that Judge Hughes's rulings have already established the law of the case, there is no reason for this Court to review all of the evidence of conspiracy. If it chooses to do so, however, the 2005 Grand Jury report and the presentment for this case detail the evidence that the Commonwealth relies on to support the charges. (Note 5: Attached to this memorandum are some of the documents from the Archdiocese's files on Avery and Brennan, which have been turned over to defense counsel (Appendix E). The 2005 Grand Jury report describes hundreds of similar documents for over a dozen priests who had similar interactions with Lynn.) [pp. 14-16]

The full testimony has been put online by the Philadelphia Inquirer

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Catholic group based in Chicago leads protest against church

New York Times
Dirk Johnson
July 30, 2011

It’s a long way from the Vatican to Roscoe Village, but a group based in that North Side neighborhood is leading a high-profile protest among American priests that challenges the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on ordination of women.
The group, Call to Action, an organization for reform-minded Catholics, has collected signatures of more than 150 priests — including 8 in Chicago — on a petition defending a liberal priest, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, who is being threatened with dismissal for his public support for ordaining women. In an increasingly conservative church, the rebellion has been hailed as a remarkable moment for liberals in the church.

“We just got on the phones and started telling priests, ‘We’ve got to support Father Roy,’ ” said Nicole Sotelo, 33, a leader of Call to Action, which bills itself as the nation’s largest organization for reform-minded Catholics.

The Rev. Bill Kenneally, who lives in the Beverly neighborhood on the South Side, is among the protesters. Father Kenneally, the 75-year-old retired pastor of St. Gertrude’s Church and volunteer at St. Barnabas Church, said he “and a majority of priests, truthfully” do not agree with the church’s “vapid reasoning” for excluding women.

Father Kenneally said he is unfazed by possible reprisals. “Since I’m retired,” he said, “it’s not like they can take a church away from me.”

The protest orchestrated by Call to Action underscores the role that Catholic culture — orthodoxy and dissidence — has played for generations in shaping the intellectual life and politics of Chicago. Only once have voters elected a non-Catholic mayor — Harold Washington — in the more than 75 years before Rahm Emanuel, who is Jewish, won a landslide victory this year.

Nuns have also held powerful positions in Chicago public life. Sister Sheila Lyne served as commissioner of public health under Mayor Richard M. Daley, while Sister Catherine Ryan headed the juvenile division at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office under Richard Devine. Writers, including the Rev. Andrew Greeley and Eugene Kennedy, a former priest, as well as John Powers, have given rich voice to Chicago cultural and Catholic issues (and in Father Greeley’s case, contributed to some steamy romance novels)

Full story at New York Times

5 defendants will be tried together

photo: Monsignor William Lynn, charged with transferring predator priests to new parishes, arrives for a hearing yesterday. A judge ruled that Lynn and four others in the city's Catholic Church sex scandal will be tried together

Philadelphia Daily News July 30, 2011
BY MENSAH M. DEAN 215-854-5949

THE FIVE DEFENDANTS in the Philadelphia Catholic church sex scandal will be tried together, a judge ruled yesterday.
During the case's final pretrial hearing, Common Pleas Judge Lillian Ransom denied the defendants' requests for separate trials and most of their motions to dismiss conspiracy charges.

Ransom also denied a motion by the attorney for Monsignor William Lynn that would have allowed the state Superior Court to determine if the endangering-the-welfare-of-children statute applied to Lynn.

Thomas A. Bergstrom, Lynn's attorney, argued that it did not because Lynn's job had not required him to supervise children.

Lynn, formerly the secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, is accused of transferring predator priests to new parishes, which allowed them to sexually abuse altar boys. He is charged with endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy.

He is the first U.S. Catholic Church official to be charged with such a crime.


The charges against the defendants are the result of a Feb. 10 grand jury report that laid out the allegations in graphic detail and denounced Philadelphia church officials for how they handled sexual-abuse complaints.
Full story at Philadelphia Daily News

Friday, July 29, 2011

Visitator will tell Pope that Irish church is near to collapse

Michael Kelley
Catholic Herald (UK)
Feb 15, 2011

Cardinal Seán O’Malley will reportedly tell Pope Benedict XVI that the Catholic Church in Ireland is “on the edge” of collapse due to the fallout from clerical abuse scandals.

Cardinal O’Malley is one of several senior prelates charged by Pope Benedict with carrying out an apostolic visitation of the Irish Catholic Church following a series of highly critical judicial reports that revealed abuse by priests and a widespread culture of cover-up for decades among Church leaders.

Fr Tony Flannery, a leading member of the Association of Catholic Priests, revealed at a conference of lay people in the Irish capital that “Cardinal O’Malley told the association the Irish Church had a decade, at most, to avoid falling over the edge and becoming like other European countries where religion is marginal to society”.

Fr Flannery said Cardinal O’Malley gave a commitment to the priests’ association that he would deliver the frank assessment to the Pope in a confidential report to be submitted later this year.

Admitting to being previously sceptical about the apostolic visitation, Fr Flannery said that in light of Cardinal O’Malley’s undertaking, “there may be some gleam of hope.”

Cardinal O’Malley could not be reached for comment.

In a mid-November statement, the Vatican said it would issue a comprehensive summary of the investigations’ findings when they are completed.

Fr Flannery said that while the association was ready to campaign for radical change, it was apprehensive that it would be viewed as “a new clericalism”.

The association, which represents more than 400 of Ireland’s 4,500 priests, was formed in 2010. It has proposed a re-evaluation of the Church’s teaching on sexuality and the inclusion of women at every level within the Church.

The first phase of the visitation should be completed by Easter, and it is likely the visitators will meet with senior officials of the Roman Curia in the spring to discuss what Jesuit Fr Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, described as the next phase of the “path to renewal”.

Vatican nuncio to Ireland moving to Czech Republic

Is this the same pattern we saw, e.g. with Cardinal Bernard Law ? The Irish government has been highly critical for some time of Vatican non-action and foot-dragging in the sexual abuse crisis. Much of this was directed at the Papal Nuncio who declined to talk to Irish commissions when requested to do so. After release of the Cloyne report, the emotional level racheted up and the Prime Minister delivered a blistering speech very critical of the Vatican. After that the Papal Nuncio was recalled to Rome, usually used by governments as a sign of distaste over actions of another government. Now it appears the Papal Nuncio is being re-assigned to the Czech Republic and so will never be available to answer questions about why things were done or not done in dealing with the crisis in Ireland. The following is from the BBC.

The Vatican's nuncio to Ireland is to be transferred to the Czech Republic.

The Pope recalled Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza following criticism of the Catholic Church by the Taoiseach Enda Kenny.

The remarks followed the publication of the Cloyne report into the church's mishandling of cases of clerical sex abuse in County Cork.

In a blistering attack, Mr Kenny accused the church of putting its reputation ahead of child rape victims.

After the recall, vice-director of the Vatican press office Father Ciro Benedettini said the nuncio's recall "should be interpreted as an expression of the desire of the Holy See for serious and effective collaboration with the (Irish) government".

He added that it "denotes the seriousness of the situation and the Holy See's desire to face it objectively and determinately.

"Nor does it exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions."

Thursday, July 28, 2011

German catholic theologians call for end to celibacy

BERLIN, Germany 2/4/2011 - More than 140 Catholic theologians from Germany, Switzerland and Austria called Friday for an end to celibacy as part of sweeping reforms in the wake of a sex scandal that rocked the Church.

In a letter published in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung daily, the group said the Catholic Church in Germany had suffered an "unprecedented crisis" last year and that "2011 must be a year of departure for the Church."

"The Church needs married priests and women in the ministry," the group wrote.

They also called for acceptance of same-sex partnerships and divorce, in a radical departure from current Catholic thought.

"The high value that the Church places on marriage and a celibate form of life should not be called into question.

"But this does not demand that we exclude people who live responsibly with love, fidelity and mutual respect in a same-sex partnership or as re-married divorcees," the group wrote.

The letter marked the strongest internal criticism of the Church in Germany since the Cologne Declaration of 1989 in which more than 200 German-speaking theologians attacked the conservative teachings of then pope John Paul II, the Sueddeutsche said.

The current pope, Benedict XVI, himself German, also questioned the issue of celibacy when he was Cardinal Ratzinger, reported the Sueddeutsche.

Ratzinger was part of a group of nine German theologians who in February 1970 wrote a letter to bishops in Germany asking whether the practice was still necessary, the paper wrote, citing archives in Regensburg.

The 83-year-old Benedict is due to visit Germany for his first official visit to his native land on September 22 to 25, 60 years after he was ordained as a priest.

Germany has faced revelations over the past year that hundreds of children were physically and sexually abused in institutions throughout the country, all but a handful run by the Roman Catholic Church.

The Church in Germany has said it failed to investigate properly claims of abuse and that in some cases there was a cover-up, with paedophile priests simply moved elsewhere instead of being disciplined and reported to the police.

Spanish cardinal recommends that Catholics receive communion on the tongue while kneeling

Lima, Peru, Jul 28, 2011 / (CNA).- Spanish Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera recently recommended that Catholics receive Communion on the tongue, while kneeling.

“It is to simply know that we are before God himself and that He came to us and that we are undeserving,” the prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments said in an interview with CNA during his visit to Lima, Peru.

The cardinal’s remarks came in response to a question on whether Catholics should receive Communion in the hand or on the tongue.

He recommended that Catholics “receive Communion on the tongue and while kneeling.”

Receiving Communion in this way, the cardinal continued, “is the sign of adoration that needs to be recovered. I think the entire Church needs to receive Communion while kneeling.

New liturgical music will enhance the celebration of the Eucharist

By Marty Denzer
Catholic Key Reporter
KANSAS CITY — You’ve figured out that GIRM stands for General Instruction of the Roman Missal, in other words, GIRM is the official Vatican document that explains how we celebrate the Eucharist in the Catholic Church. You’ve gotten used to the idea that many of the familiar words of the Mass are changing, and you’ve finally wrapped your mind around the fact that as of the first Sunday of Advent this year, Mass will sound different. But did you know that liturgical music will be changing also, to fit with the new translations?


Wait, the music also? But what about my favorite hymns and psalms? The familiar hymnals will still be in the pews, and the congregation will still be invited to sing with the cantor or choir during the offertory, communion and the closing. It’s the music of the Mass itself that will change — the Gloria, the Sanctus, the Memorial Acclamation, parts of the Mass that may or may not be sung such as the Our Father and parts of the Mass sung by the celebrant. The music for those parts is called a setting.

Parishes will be encouraged to select new or revised music settings for the Mass that are appropriate to their community, Beyers said. There are several to choose from. Earlier this summer, several members of the subcommission reviewed the settings and shared their impressions and opinions of the settings to aid parish music directors in choosing features of the individual settings that will best suit their parish congregation. The selections may change from parish to parish.


Another change that may surprise U.S. Catholics is the Mystery of Faith, formerly called the Memorial Acclamation. The familiar text, “Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again,” has not been approved for continued use. All forms of this text must not be used during Mass after Nov. 26.

Full article at the Catholic Key

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Irish politician calls for Dublin Catholic conference to be postponed

I understand the Pope's visit near year to Ireland is no longer being discussed. Now priests and politicians are asking that the planned Eucharistic Congress in Dublin be postponed.

Henry McDonald, Ireland correspondent, Wednesday 27 July 2011 19.26 BST

Senator Cáit Keane says cancel liturgical event given row with Vatican over inquires into child sex abuse by priests in Ireland

Ireland's taoiseach, Enda Kenny, lambasted the Vatican’s attitude to investigations in Ireland. The Vatican responded by recalling its ambassabor.
In another sign of worsening relations between Ireland and the Vatican a member of the ruling Fine Gael party has called for the postponement of an international Catholic conference in Dublin next year.

Senator Cáit Keane said the Eucharistic Congress, which is scheduled to be held in the capital's Phoenix Park in June, to be put off in the light of the row over the Vatican's attitude to clerical child sex abuse inquiries in the republic.

She said she backed suggestions from a group of rebel Catholic priests that one of the largest liturgical Catholic events be postponed.

Speaking in the Irish parliament, Keane said: "I support the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland's request to postpone this event as I believe it is not an appropriate time for an event such as the Eucharistic Congress to take place in this country.

"I believe that everyone will be better served, given the sensitivities around the findings of this report, that it be held at a later date.

"The association has over five hundred ordinary priests as members in this country who are not afraid to speak out on the injustices and wrongdoings in the Church, and we must support their efforts to stand up and be counted."

Full article at the Guardian

Never forget who we are

Before there was Gregorian Chant, there was Roman Plain Chant. The following sounds in the embeded video below are some of the oldest Psalmodies in ancient Western history. This is who we are! It is our Roman Catholic heritage and culture. This is what Modernists inside the Church unwittingly undermine with their constant liturgical innovations and introduction of modern pop/folk music. The Modernists inside the Church I have pity for.......

See the whole article and hear the chant at The Catholic Knight: Never Forget Who We Are....

Maybe it needs someone like the Taoiseach and words of the force he used to get through to them

statment from an Irish priest member of the Association of Catholic Priests


A PRIEST’S VIEW: PERSONALLY, I was happy with the Taoiseach’s statement on the Cloyne report. I presume not every member of our association was, but those who rang me about it were delighted.

Many of us priests are very frustrated with the way the Vatican conducts its business. To hear someone in the position of the Taoiseach speak so strongly, so eloquently, and with such dignity, in challenging the Vatican was good.

I know you could quibble with some of the points he made, and he could have acknowledged more fully all the progress that has been made towards better child protection systems in the Irish church. But the Vatican is a very entrenched institution, and it would appear increasingly to have an agenda of dismantling the progress of the Second Vatican Council, and returning to the authoritarianism of the Tridentine church.

Maybe it needs someone like the Taoiseach and words of the force that he used to get through to them. But I wouldn’t hold my breath. Many reforms are needed in the church, and there is little or no discussion allowed at any level. It is clear that one of the big problems in Cloyne was the appointment of John Magee as bishop of the diocese. His appointment ignored the views of the priests (the lay people, of course, were not consulted at all), and he was put in there to suit some Vatican agenda that had nothing to do with the needs of the church in Co Cork.

When decisions like that are made it is not surprising that sometimes the consequences are serious. But there is no indication that the Vatican is learning, and beginning to rethink its method of episcopal appointments. Until it does, nothing very much will change in the Irish church, or I suspect, internationally.

We of the Association of Catholic Priests are almost a year in existence, and have over 500 members, but our efforts at having any worthwhile discussion or dialogue with the Irish bishops has been frustrated. They meet us, but ignore the points we bring up; we write to them and get a reply four months later that is patronising in the extreme. All of this is happening at a time when the church is going through the worst crisis at least since the Reformation. Unless all the different groups within the church in this country can come together and face our difficulties honestly and openly we will make no headway.

The recent developments raise serious questions about the proposed Eucharistic Congress next June. Would it be possible for the Irish bishops to make a decision that, in view of all that has occurred, this is not a suitable time for such an event, and inform Rome of their decision? Along with showing clearly that they realise the seriousness of the situation we are in, and the need for repentance for the wrong that was done, it would also show a degree of independence from Rome among the hierarchy.

This would be of great help in working out a better future for all of us. It would signal that they no longer need to look over their shoulder at Rome before they made decisions. If they cannot do that, and if the congress is to go ahead, it is crucial that there be no trace of triumphalism about it.

This will involve a very different style of celebration than the one that appears to be in planning. We cannot have any event dominated by a phalanx of mitre-wearing bishops surrounded by large groups of clergy. A gathering like that, even with the best will in the world, is going to look and sound triumphalist in the present climate in Ireland.

Whatever else you could say about the celebrations of the Eucharist in the early church, there was no trace of triumphalism in them. So, in this context, anything that can shake up the Vatican, and get them to begin to think in new and different ways is good. They cannot silence or remove a Taoiseach like they do theologians and bishops who speak out.

For those reasons I was glad to hear Enda Kenny say what he did, and in the way that he said it.


Fr Tony Flannery is on the administrative team of the Association of Catholic Priests

Priests blackmailed for gay affairs

from Italian news:
(ANSA) - Potenza, July 26 - Italian police arrested two men accused of blackmailing priests by keeping their homosexual affairs secret in exchange for thousands of euros Tuesday.

According to police, two men extorted money from at least a dozen priests in the regions of Emilia-Romagna, Lazio, Molise, Puglia and Sicily.

Authorities began their investigation three months ago when one of the priests reported the suspects who allegedly made their threats by telephone from the southern town of Maratea.

Officials visited the homes of the priests in question Tuesday to acquire further information.

None of the priests are charged with a crime.

Why Ireland is no longer the Vatican's loyal follower

Genevieve Carberry
Jyly 27,2011

Ireland has long been the model of a loyal Catholic state, an ask-no-questions adherent to the Vatican's word. But following more than 15 years of church child-abuse scandals and cover-ups, that seems to be changing. Today the relationship between the two is at an historic low, with the Holy See recalling its ambassador after Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny launched an unprecedented public attack on the institution's handling of child-abuse allegations.
In a rare and serious diplomatic move, the ambassador Papal Nuncio returned to Rome on Monday following what a Vatican spokesman described as the "excessive reaction" in Ireland to the government's latest report on clerical abuse. The spokesman was referring to a scathing speech Kenny gave on July 20, in which he berated the Vatican for its part in covering up child-abuse allegations against its clergy. The prime minister's speech accused the Vatican of "downplaying" the "rape and torture of children" to uphold its reputation, and spoke of the "dysfunction, disconnection and elitism, the narcissism that dominates the culture of the Vatican to this day."

The inquiry, which covered 1996 to 2009, found that although the Vatican had in place a policy, developed by Irish bishops in 1996, of reporting suspected cases of clerical child abuse to police, it undermined that policy by telling bishops in 1997 that it violates church law. While awaiting a response from the Vatican (another reason the ambassador was recalled, says the spokesman), Ireland has proposed new legislation to make it a crime not to report child sex abuse, even if the act is revealed in the secrecy of the confessional — a controversial break from church law. In his speech, Kenny drew a line in the sand in regards to Ireland's traditional status as a loyal Catholic state: "This is the Republic of Ireland 2011. A republic of laws, of rights and responsibilities; of proper civic order; where the delinquency and arrogance of a particular version, of a particular kind of "morality," will no longer be tolerated or ignored."
Kenny has been widely hailed for his speech; he told reporters on Sunday that he had received thousands of messages of support and was "astounded" by the number of clergy who told him it was "about time." Campaigner and former abuse victim Andrew Madden welcomes the change from the attitudes of previous governments, which he says were "way out of step not just with victims but with wider public opinion."
Indeed, Kenny's attack carries more weight for ordinary Irish Catholics because he leads the traditionally staunchly Catholic party Fine Gael. "It was not an anti-Catholic speech, but was pro-children and pro-Ireland," Madden says. "The fact that his speech will probably not lose Kenny a single vote — but will most likely gain him some — is a sign of a shift from excessive deference in political circles and wider culture," Says Michael Kelly, deputy editor of the Irish Catholic newspaper. Thanks to more than a decade of horrific abuse scandals, the Vatican's power over ordinary Irish Catholics has grown weaker and weaker. "There has been an absolute loss of moral authority for the Church, and Catholics will increasingly privatize their faith — keeping their distance from and not looking to the hierarchy as previous generations did," Kelly says.

Read more: TIME

Monday, July 25, 2011

Quote of the year

Judge halts release of cardinal's secret testimony
By MARYCLAIRE DALE, Associated Press
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A judge on Monday halted the release of 1,200 pages of grand jury testimony of a Roman Catholic cardinal relating to his handling of priest sex-abuse complaints in Philadelphia.
Prosecutors filed Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's secret testimony from 2003 to support conspiracy charges filed this year against a high-ranking church official, they said in court papers filed Friday.
Monsignor William Lynn, 60, is charged with conspiracy and child endangerment for allegedly transferring priest-predators without warning. Lynn served as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, mostly under Bevilacqua.
The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Sunday that Bevilacqua, the former archbishop, had testified that accused priests "would not be able to function" at new parishes if people were warned of their backgrounds.
Grand jurors found the leader of the Philadelphia archdiocese "excused and enabled" the attacks, and was "not forthright" and "untruthful" during 10 grand jury appearances over eight months, the newspaper reported. He was not charged because the statute of limitations had run out.

Cleveland Catholics abuzz over investigation of Bishop Richard Lennon

By Michael O'Malley, The Plain Dealer

The Plain Dealer
Bishop Richard Lennon's leadership is the subject of a Vatican investigation.
CLEVELAND, Ohio -- After the recent revelation that Bishop Richard Lennon's leadership of the Cleveland Catholic Diocese is under investigation by the Vatican, local Catholics are abuzz about what might happen next.
But with a shroud of secrecy hanging over the inquiry church activists can only guess.
The Rev. John M. Smith, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Trenton, N.J., representing the Vatican, spent five days at the Jesuit Retreat House in Parma beginning July 11 interviewing priests and parishioners about how they perceive Lennon as a spiritual leader.
Such an investigation, known as an Apostolic Visit, is rare by the Holy See, according to at least one lawyer familiar with church law. The review, which Lennon has said he requested, comes in the wake of his reconfiguration of the eight-county diocese which saw the closing of 50 churches since August 2009.
Most were inner-city or ethnic churches, prompting protests and a flurry of letters to the Catholic hierarchy in Rome. More than a dozen parishes filed formal appeals to a Vatican panel and are waiting for verdicts.
One congregation, St. Peter's in downtown Cleveland, in defiance of Lennon's order to disband, broke away from the diocese and, along with its priest, set up its own worship space in a commercial building.
It wasn't clear how many people Smith interviewed during his week-long visit. Sister Mary Ann Flannery, director of the retreat house, estimated 25 to 30 people met with the New Jersey bishop.
See the entire story at the Cleveland Plain Dealer

Braxton battles on against abuse suit

Here's another diocese in trouble with a bishop who seems disconnected from both his priests and his parishoners, not to mention the law.

Jul. 25, 2011
By Robert McClory

Bishop Edward Braxton took a big chance when he decided to let his diocese of Belleville, Ill., go to trial on charges of fraud and deceit regarding its mishandling of a serial, sex-abuser priest. He could have opted for an out-of-court settlement but the trial option apparently seemed to him a relatively safe gamble at the time.
After all, the plaintiff was a 47-year-old man, James Wisniewski, whose abuse had occurred 35 years before. This wasn’t a case of repressed and recovered memory. Wisniewski admitted he was always aware of the abuse he endured at the hands of Fr. Raymond Kownacki, but had spoken to nobody about it until 2002, when he filed suit against the diocese.
Surely, the statute of limitations alone would doom the plaintiff’s case, Braxton may have reasoned.
But Braxton lost his bet big time in August 2008 when a jury found the diocese guilty of “fraudulent concealment” and awarded Wisniewski $2.4 million in compensatory damages and an unexpected $2.6 million in punitive damages.
Braxton appealed the trial verdict, and the state appellate court upheld it in January 2011. Braxton appealed again, and in May the Supreme Court of Illinois refused to review the case.
The original $5 million award to Wisniewski has now risen to well over $6 million, due to accruing interest charges. This sum continues to rise at the rate of $1,250 per day.
And Braxton battles on. In June, he asked the high court to reconsider its May decision -- a long shot, legal experts say.

The high punitive damages reflected the jury’s contempt for the diocese’s deliberate deception for almost 30 years during the leadership of at least three bishops.
But many in the Belleville diocese are not so sanguine. Since his arrival in 2005, Braxton’s handling of financial matters and his reluctance to seek advice have been regularly criticized by laity and priests.
In a statement last May, James Friederich, a member of the diocesan finance council, called Braxton “a financial disaster” as bishop. He “did not ask the council for its advice or consent before allowing the Wisniewski suit to go to trial,” Friederich said, and “he did not seek the advice or consent of the council before he decided to appeal the $5 million judgment rather than try to settle for less money.”
Nor was advice sought, he noted, before Braxton settled another clergy abuse case for $1.2 million.
Friederich also said Braxton had misused funds earmarked for the Propagation of the Faith several years ago and admitted he was wrong “only when the people of the diocese rose up in anger” (NCR, May 2, 2008).
The annual diocesan appeal, he said, is now garnering $500,000 less per year than it was at the time Braxton became bishop. Friederich predicted the diocese “will soon be bankrupt because of [Braxton’s] arrogance” in using money and his handling of sex abuse cases, three more of which are slated for trial this year or next.
Similar charges from priests have been stewing in the diocese for years.
In 2007, 46 priests (representing 60 percent of the active, incardinated clergy) issued a statement saying, “Our repeated attempts to work cooperatively with Bishop Braxton through the Presbyteral Council, Diocesan Pastoral Council, Diocesan Finance Council, Priests Personnel Board and Annual Priests Convocation have proved futile.”
Recently, members of the Belleville Association of Priests released a list of 20 alleged instances of fiscal and authority abuses by Braxton. He has steadfastly refused press requests to reply to criticism.

Full story at NCR

Vatican recalls envoy to Ireland amid abuse uproar

Associated Press July 25,2011
VATICAN CITY—The Vatican made the rare move of recalling its ambassador to Ireland on Monday following accusations that the Holy See sabotaged efforts by Catholic bishops to report clerical sex abuse cases to police.

Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore had summoned papal ambassador Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza two weeks ago and demanded an official response from the Vatican. The Vatican has said it will issue one at the "opportune time" but has not done so yet.

The Vatican acknowledged that the recall of an ambsssador was a measure rarely adopted by the Holy See, underlining the "seriousness of the situation."

The principal aim was for direct consultations to prepare the Holy See's official response but the measure "does not exclude some degree of surprise and disappointment at certain excessive reactions," said deputy spokesman the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, answering questions from reporters.

The Irish government called the recall "a matter for the Holy See," saying in a statement that "it is to be expected that the Vatican would wish to consult in depth with the nuncio on its response."

Repercussions from the long-running scandal have grown increasingly bitter, with Ireland's lawmakers making an unprecedented denunciation of the Holy See's influence in the predominantly Catholic country.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny denounced to lawmakers last week what he called "the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism -- and the narcissism -- that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day."

Full story here

Catholic apology over Australia forced adoptions

This story, appearing today, indicates that Catholic institutions forced adoptions not only in Ireland, but also in Australia. Where else?

Monday, Jul 25, 2011
SYDNEY - The Catholic Church in Australia on Monday apologised for the forced adoption of babies from young, unwed mothers in the 1950s, '60s and '70s, saying the practice was "deeply regrettable".

"We acknowledge the pain of separation and loss felt then and felt now by the mothers, fathers, children, families and others involved in the practices of the time," the apology said.

"For this pain we are genuinely sorry," said the statement from Catholic Health Australia and Sisters of Mercy nuns from Singleton, north of Sydney, in response to accounts of babies taken from their mothers in decades past.

Catholic Health, the representative body for Catholic Church-run hospitals and aged care services in Australia, said it had no way of knowing how many people had been affected by forced adoptions.

It said that over the past 20 years, people had come forward to speak about unacceptable adoption practices which it said were "regrettably common in many maternity hospitals across Australia" at the time.

"These practices of the past are no longer tolerated, nor allowed by today's law, and are deeply regrettable," the statement said.

The church said it agreed with a New South Wales state Parliamentary Inquiry into forced adoption which in 2000 found past practices were misguided, and at times unethical or unlawful.

Full story here

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Cloyne bishop John Magee should be arrested

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has led the nation’s fury over an official report into sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne and Catholic Church cover-ups.

Former Bishop John Magee of Cloyne, who has been missing since the report from Judge Yvonne Murphy, and is believed to be somewhere in the U.S., has had pressure piled on him to assume accountability in the aftermath of the damning report.

Cover-ups stretched all the way to the Vatican, where Magee was once a high-profile and powerful secretary to three popes. He is accused in the report of hugging and kissing a teenage boy on the forehead and telling him he dreamt about him.

So deep has been the national outrage that there has been no popular groundswell of opinion against plans by Justice Minister Alan Shatter and Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald to toughen legislation and make it illegal for a priest to fail to fail to report child abuse to police, even if he hears it in confession.

Shatter plans to impose jail sentences of up to five years for the failure-to-report offense.

Proposals for a visit to Ireland by Pope Benedict XVI next year are understood to have been shelved.
Jack O’Donnell, whose late daughter Maeve made a complaint to Magee that she was abused while a teenager by a Cloyne priest, supported the call by Father Tom Doyle for members of the hierarchy to be jailed for covering up abuse.

O’Donnell said, “I agree with Father Doyle. Until such time as some senior figure in the church hears a prison door clang shut behind him, then the cover-ups and the concealment will continue. Anyone engaging in a cover-up should be prosecuted and punished.”

Government plans to jail priests for up to five years if they fail to report information on child sex abuse, even if it was obtained in the confession box, put it in direct conflict with the traditional teachings of the church. A Catholic bishops spokesman said the seal of confession “places an onerous responsibility on the confessor/priest, and a breach of it would be a serious offense to the rights of penitents.”

Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny backed the tough new laws to compel priests to report pedophiles to Gardai.

“The law of the land should not be stopped by a crozier or a collar,” Kenny said. Kenny described as “absolutely disgraceful” the attitude of the Vatican to complaints of child sex abuse in the Cloyne diocese.
Full editorial at Irish News

Leading Ireland’s fury, Martin said he did not see a situation in which Magee, who should return instantly from wherever he is abroad, would practice public ministry ever again.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Ireland's Example

I copied this article from Canada's Ottawa Citizen in its entirety because it makes the connection between the Irish and Philadelphia situations which I also saw and says the time for apologetic words with no action is past.


Good for Ireland. The traditionally Catholic country - still (wrongly) viewed in cliché as a devout nation of unquestioning churchgoers - has finally had it with empty words and vacuous apologies.

This week, in a unanimous parliamentary denunciation, Irish lawmakers blamed the Vatican for encouraging Irish bishops to not report suspected abusive priests to the police - thus defying Irish law and permitting the victimization to continue.

This is not a reference to ancient history, either. It was in 1996 that Irish bishops decided calling the cops on priestly abusers might be the right thing to do. And, it turns out, it was in 1996 that Rome nixed that notion. Since then, in this country that has been left reeling by the depth and breadth of the scandal's sickening revelations, the response from Rome has been largely a reliance on canon law - and, effectively, a vast criminal coverup.

No wonder the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, spoke angrily of "the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism - and the narcissism - that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day."

Let the example of tiny Ireland be an international model. No nation that reveres justice and the rule of law should be intimidated by religious institutions, no matter how ancient or influential, if those institutions have been criminally implicated.

Like Ireland, no nation should shy away from telling harsh truths about an institutional culture that, on this file, has turned all the forces of its labyrinthine secrecy to selfprotection - at the expense of justice, morality and countless destroyed human lives.

Not that the current Pope would ever want the world to believe that, not for one second. As a result, Benedict XVI has developed and honed the art of the hollow apology.

The spiritual leader of the world's billion Roman Catholics has become a whiz at saying "Sorry!" - which he does at the drop of a hat. Since taking over the Vatican helm in 2005, the Pope has apologized pretty much non-stop for all the harm done to children by abusive priests.

In Australia three years ago, he said he shared in victims' pain and suffering. In April 2009, he told native Canadians that the abuses in residential schools could not be tolerated. The following spring, he was apologizing to Irish victims (while managing to blame some of the clerical abuse on Ireland's unfortunate "secularization" since the 1960s). A month later, he apologized to abuse survivors in Malta.

In June 2010, from within the Vatican itself, he begged unprecedented forgiveness from those who had been wronged. In London last fall, he expressed "deep sorrow" and "shame and humiliation." He's apologized in the United States and Oceania.

All of which would be quite moving if it were accompanied by any meaningful signs of change. But it hasn't been, as Ireland's surprisingly frank denunciation of Vatican culture this week suggests.

In one Irish diocese, for example, a bishop (and former papal private secretary) actually suppressed evidence of child rape and molestation as recently as 2009. A recent Irish request for an official Vatican response has yet to be acknowledged.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, where a grand jury has filed a criminal indictment against a church official and accused the diocese of harbouring predators - 10 years after U.S. bishops promised to report them - this week saw another meaningless changing of the guard. The city's large Catholic archdiocese, rocked yet again by abuse revelations - this time the alleged repeated rape of a 10-year-old altar boy by three priests and a Catholic teacher (and this as late as 1998) - now has a new helmsman.

But rather than install an archbishop who might actually heal wounds, the profoundly conservative pope has ensured only that a prelate with profoundly conservative bona fides is in place. Charles Chaput arrives with a list of achievements that includes opposing universal health care, stemcell research and gay marriage; condemning Catholic politicians who don't condemn abortion; and keeping lesbians' children out of Catholic schools.

A curiously self-defeating policy, this. The more negative the person, the more likely his appointment as Vatican bridge-builder.

In the end, though, it is institutional Rome's deeply embedded self-interest, its stubborn reluctance to take genuine action to end the abuse of children - action, as opposed to the breast-beating rhetoric of which Benedict is so enamoured - that all moral people must condemn.

For instance, in its recent guidelines against priestly abuse, issued in May, the church could have threatened bishops with severe punishment if they held back files from the police, kept abusers' names secret or failed to suspend credibly accused molesters - a sensible suggestion from the U.S.based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. But it didn't.

And it won't. Not without unrelenting pressure from righteous people willing to call a spade a spade.

Ireland's blunt stand this week for the greater good should be applauded.

Pre-2003 bishops should all quit' - Fr Twomey

`Pre-2003 bishops should all quit' - Fr Twomey

The Irish Catholic - 21 Jul 2011

Michael Kelly
Senior theologian Fr Vincent Twomey has called on Cardinal Seán Brady and all Irish bishops appointed before 2003 to quit to make way for much-needed reform and renewal in Irish Catholicism.
Fr Twomey (left), retired professor of moral theology at Maynooth, said he felt that all bishops appointed before Archbishop Diarmuid Martin was sent to Dublin as coadjutor archbishop in 2003 should resign.
''We need new leaders, we need new bishops,'' he said this week, admitting he was ''incandescent with rage'' at the extent of abuse and subsequent mishandling in the Diocese of Cloyne.
Fr Twomey's radical proposal would mean that only seven of Ireland's current 28 members of the bishops' conference would remain on the episcopal bench and would give the Pope a free hand in reshaping the current creaking structures of the Church in Ireland.
The call comes as pressure is mounting on the State to withdraw proposals that could see priests imprisoned for preserving the seal of the confessional.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter has unveiled plans that would threaten priests who do not reveal information about alleged abuse they may hear in the confessional with imprisonment, breaching centuries of acknowledgement by civil authorities of the inviolability of the seal.

See The Irish Catholic for the entire story

Anglican Ordinariate

The new Anglican Ordinariate which will allow entire Anglican communities to join the Catholic church and keep their Anglican liturgies, married priests, etc is supposed to be created in the US before Advent. Identified parishes in California appear to be only in the southland, like Orange County.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Challenging the Vatican on female priests

July 22, 2011

More than 150 Roman Catholic priests in the United States have signed a statement in support of a fellow cleric who faces dismissal for participating in a ceremony that purported to ordain a woman as a priest, in defiance of church teaching.

The American priests’ action follows closely on the heels of a “Call to Disobedience” issued in Austria last month by more than 300 priests and deacons. They stunned their bishops with a seven-point pledge that includes actively promoting priesthood for women and married men, and reciting a public prayer for “church reform” in every Mass.

And in Australia, the National Council of Priests recently released a ringing defense of the bishop of Toowoomba, who had issued a pastoral letter saying that, facing a severe priest shortage, he would ordain women and married men “if Rome would allow it.” After an investigation, the Vatican forced him to resign.

While these disparate acts hardly amount to a clerical uprising and are unlikely to result in change, church scholars note that for the first time in years, groups of priests in several countries are standing with those who are challenging the church to rethink the all-male celibate priesthood.
Church experts said it was surprising that 157 priests would sign a statement in support of the American priest, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, because he did much more than speak out: he gave the homily and blessed a woman in an illicit ordination ceremony conducted by the group, Roman Catholic Womenpriests. That group claims to have ordained 120 female priests and five bishops worldwide. The Vatican does not recognize the ordinations and has declared the women automatically excommunicated.

Father Bourgeois, a member of the Maryknoll religious order, received a letter from the Vatican in 2008 warning that he would be excommunicated if he did not recant. He sent the Vatican a long letter saying that he was only following his conscience. The Vatican never wrote back, he said.

The Maryknolls, however, did not dismiss him, and he continued presenting himself as a priest. He is a rather well-known one, at that. Father Bourgeois, now 72, was an American missionary in El Salvador during the death squad era and has made it his ministry ever since to lead antiwar protests outside the United States Army School of the Americas in Georgia.

But now, under pressure from the Vatican, the Maryknolls have sent the first of two required “canonical warnings” that they will dismiss him if he does not recant. Father Bourgeois responded that if he recanted to save his priesthood or his pension, he would be lying. “I see this very clearly as an issue of sexism, and like racism, it’s a sin,” he said in an interview this week from his home in Georgia. “It cannot be justified, no matter how hard we priests and church leaders, beginning with the pope, might try to justify the exclusion of women as equals. It is not the way of God. It is the way of men.”
In Australia, the church was shaken in May when Pope Benedict XVI removed Bishop William Morris from the Diocese of Toowoomba, where he had served since 1992. The pope wrote the bishop that the teaching barring women’s ordination was “infallible.”

The Vatican had sent Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Denver (named this week to be the new archbishop for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia) to investigate Bishop Morris.

The National Council of Priests of Australia, which says it represents 40 percent of priests there, denounced the dismissal, saying that those who influenced the decision “have limited pastoral experience.”

The Rev. Ian McGinnity, chairman of the priests council in Australia, said in an e-mail, “Bishop Morris was endeavouring to face honestly significant problems in his rural diocese, particularly with the shortage of priests, which meant that some communities were deprived of the Eucharist on a regular basis.”

See full story at

Is this the end of Catholic Ireland?

Imagine a country whose police and politicians had for decades been in thrall to a foreign-owned multinational controlled by an autocratic octogenarian. For years, political leaders paid homage to the aged boss, believing his backing essential to their pursuit of power, as though he held a mystical sway over public opinion. The organisation claims to be working for the public good, yet some of its employees, it is now clear, have engaged in practices that the public naturally finds abhorrent.

Many of these crimes have been known about for years, and a few offenders have even been sent to jail. But senior executives have indulged in numerous cover-ups, obstructing justice and even colluding with corrupt police officers. At the very top, the leadership has claimed not to have known what was going on. Action has been limited mainly to belated apologies and expressions of regret, even as the scandal has spread to subsidiaries throughout the world. It won't wash. Riding the wave of public indignation, politicians are finally queuing up to denounce the very organisation whose approval they once abjectly sought. The prime minister himself has led the charge.

No, I'm not talking about Rupert Murdoch, though the News Corp boss does have financial and personal links with the organisation in question. The crimes of paedophile priests vastly exceed phone-hacking at the News of the World, of course; so much so that even to raise the comparison may seem offensive. But then the power of the Murdoch empire in Britain, even at its height, even in the most fevered imaginings of his enemies, was a little thing when compared with the dominance that the Roman Catholic Church once exercised over minds and lives of the people of the Irish Republic.

Not so much any more. As the Taoiseach said in his extraordinary speech to the Dáil on Wednesday, this is no longer "industrial-school or Magdalene Ireland, where the swish of a soutane smothered conscience and humanity and the swing of a thurible ruled the Irish-Catholic world." Even before the abuse scandals, that Ireland was already receding into history, its fate sealed not by the misbehaviour of clergy but by the inevitabilities of economic and social change.

What has died as revelation has followed shameful revelation has been not just Catholic Ireland itself but nostalgia and respect for what Catholic Ireland represented. Along with horror and disgust, it's possible to detect in the public reaction to the scandal something approaching a sense of liberation.

Here's how a key witness described Bishop John Magee's general approach to priestly abuse:

If a case had come up, the bishop would say, "Oh yes, get on to Denis to cover that."

"Denis" was Mgr Denis O'Callaghan, the bishop's right-hand man and the cleric charged with investigating child abuse within the Cloyne diocese. He is the villain of the piece. Far from following the guidelines, he did his best to ensure that they were never implemented. He claimed to dislike the "rule-based" approach the Church had adopted. He especially disliked the rule that instructed church officials to report potential offenders to the police. In one case, he tried to have an allegation investigated by a police officer known to be sympathetic to his views. Shockingly, or unbelievably, neither he nor Magee appears to have read a report into priestly abuse that they themselves had commissioned.

The situation persisted as late as 2009, when Magee was first sidelined and then removed from office. The Vatican's own role in this was somewhat marginal. Apart from the Nuncio's letter, which encouraged those who, like O'Callaghan and Magee, objected to the Irish church's attempt to clean up its act, the report's main criticism is that that the Vatican declined to respond to requests by the Commission for assistance.

The Vatican has, indeed, failed miserably in the past and continues to act with more defensiveness than true penitence. Such institutional failings, however, are a symptom of a deeper problem. The Catholic Church claims to represent God. Individual priests may commit grievous sins but the church itself is the infallible embodiment of absolute truth. As the then Cardinal Ratzinger himself put it in a 1990 document quoted disapprovingly (and out of context) by the Taoiseach, the Catholic Church is "the sole authentic interpreter of the Word of God, written or handed down, by virtue of the authority which it exercises in the name of Christ."

How can any institution teach that, expect people to believe it, and not be prey to corrupting arrogance? And can some of the blame be attached to the faithful for believing in it for so long? Any other organisation, revealed to have had, over decades, an official policy of covering up such vile crimes would be disbanded, its leaders put on trial, its assets seized. No decent person would want anything to do with it. Rupert Murdoch felt in necessary to close the News of the World. Even now, even in Ireland, no-one is quite suggesting that fate for the Roman Catholic church.

full story in the New Statesman

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Archbishop speaks of shame of Irish child abuse cover-ups

For some time now, the most forthcoming Irish churchman has been Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin (who is being given a cold shoulder by Rome). He commented on the recent release of the report about the diocese of Cloyne and the Prime Minister's stinging rebuke of the Vatican.

(from The Telegraph July 21, 2011)
Close to tears, Archbishop Martin, later said told RTE he hoped the Taoiseach’s stinging criticism would teach his fellow churchmen a “lesson”.
"I find myself asking today, can I be proud of the Church that I'm a leader of?” he said.
“What I'm seeing – I have to be ashamed of this, and I have to be ashamed because of what was done to the victims and what was done to other people."
Described the leadership in Cloyne as a “cabal” which had deliberately ignored recent Vatican policy to combat child abuse, he said only invasive audits of all diocese was the only way to expose all abuse.
"Those who felt they were able to play tricks with norms, they have betrayed … good men and so many others in the Church who are working today, I am angry, ashamed and appalled by that,” he said.
He called on the Vatican to announce full support for the local church in Ireland on mandatory reporting of abuse allegations to the state authorities and ensure that internal reviews of the handling of complaints are published.

from the address by Ireland's Prime Minister

Because for the first time in Ireland, a report into child sexual-abuse exposes an attempt by the Holy See, to frustrate an Inquiry in a sovereign, democratic little as three years ago, not three decades ago.
And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism .... the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.
The rape and torture of children were downplayed or 'managed' to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and 'reputation'.
Far from listening to evidence of humiliation and betrayal with St Benedict's 'ear of the heart'......the Vatican's reaction was to parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer.

This calculated, withering position being the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman Church was founded.

The surprising outcome of Bishop Lahey's trial

It's a constant surprise how deeply the sexual problem infests the priesthood, up to high levels. This story didn't get a lot of press in the states-

from Catholic Culture, May 6, 2011:
Most of us were caught off guard on Wednesday, May 4, when Bishop Raymond Lahey pleaded guilty to child-pornography charges and announced that he wanted to begin his prison term (a 1-year minimum) immediately.

But some people were evidently not surprised. And therein lies a tale.

In the 20 months since he was apprehended at the Ottawa airport, carrying a laptop computer loaded with files of pornography, Bishop Lahey had not given any indication that he would acknowledge his guilt. His lawyer worked the case slowly through the Canadian legal system, accepting several postponements. The guilty plea came only as the case went to trial. If Bishop Lahey wanted to plead guilty—if he was anxious to begin serving his sentence immediately!--couldn’t that have been arranged months ago?

See entire article at Catholic Culture

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

The coming American schism

by Phyllis Zagano, July 20,2011

Maybe because it is summer and tempers tend to flare along with the temperature, there is a lot of anger in blog posts and Twitter feeds about the land. The church's social media blood pressure seems very, very high.
There is a fist fight on between the Ultra-Left and an Ultra-Right.
Will the Center hold?
Maybe not.
I fear that if an organizational genius comes along to connect the large glowing dots across the internet, we'll see a full blown schism sooner rather than later. The only question is who will join with whom?
Schisms come in two basic flavors: juridical and theological. When it comes to ignoring bishops’ juridical authority, the signs are already there.
In Cleveland, St. Peter's Church folks formed the Community of St. Peter in defiance of their bishop, Richard Lennon. The bishop is now under Vatican investigation apparently at the request of a group called "Endangered Catholics." Years earlier in St. Louis, parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kosta Church defied orders to close and hired their own priest rather than turn over their endowment to the archbishop.
Angry theological debate abounds. Homosexuality is the topic du jour, but even moderate academic work gets dragged into the fray: witness the high profile attack on Elizabeth Johnson on behalf of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and the resulting push-back by professional theologians and her religious community.
In the Right corner, the "orthodox" crowd is coached by EWTN, The Wanderer, and the Catholic News Agency. Their cheering squad is led by folks like Bill Donohue at the Catholic League, the mysterious "Father Z", and other angry righteous bloggers too numerous to mention. (Father Z calls this newspaper "National Catholic Fishwrap.") They have a lot of money.
Warming up in the Left corner are the folks who oppose just about anything the bishops say, especially about homosexuality, embryonic stem cell research, and abortion -- while following this newspaper only insofar as it will scratch their itching ears. Their coaches -- depending on their individual issues -- are at Call to Action, Catholic Democrats, and Catholics for Choice. Their cheering squad is a collection of Facebook and Twitter pros. They seem to have a lot of money, too.
The problem with the splinter groups and their amalgamated clergy -- no matter what they proclaim -- is that they have ended (or never had) communion with the church. Every single Catholic who joins with them changes what the rest belong to.
The Catholic Church is not "Left" enough for some, but when they leave it, the barque of Peter lists even more to the Right. The church is not "Right" enough for others, so they jump out and that same barque lists to the Left. Even folks not in the fight are getting a little seasick.
Meanwhile, back in the arena the real fight is far from over, but people Left and Right are heading for the door.
I do not know the answer, or what will stop the fracas, except that maybe somebody should go out into the parking lot and put "WWJD" bumper stickers on all the cars before they speed away.

See full story at Just Catholic

Irish PM: Vatican has 'calculated, withering' abuse stance

The Irish continue to react with outrage at the new revelations of coverup and untruth from the diocese of Cloyne. Today the Prime Minister spoke as excerpted below from a NCR story

Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny has accused the Vatican of adopting a "calculated, withering position" on abuse in the wake of a judicial report that accused the Holy See of being "entirely unhelpful" to Irish bishops trying to deal with abuse.
During a July 20 parliamentary debate, Kenny said an independent judicial investigation into the handling of clergy sexual abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne "exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago."
"And in doing so, the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day," he said
The report accuses the Vatican of being "entirely unhelpful" to bishops who wanted to fully implement the 1996 guidelines, "Child Sexual Abuse: Framework for a Church Response."
Kenny said that "this calculated, withering position" was "the polar opposite of the radicalism, humility and compassion upon which the Roman church was founded."
He said that "the Irish people, including the very many faithful Catholics who -- like me -- have been shocked and dismayed by the repeated failings of church authorities to face up to what is required, deserve and require confirmation from the Vatican that they do accept, endorse and require compliance by all church authorities here with, the obligations to report all cases of suspected abuse, whether current or historical, to the state's authorities."
Referring to a tendency identified in the Cloyne Report to put the rights of accused clerics ahead of victims, Kenny said "clericalism has rendered some of Ireland's brightest, most privileged and powerful men, either unwilling or unable to address the horrors" of abuse.
He said this "Roman clericalism must be devastating for good priests, some of them old, others struggling to keep their humanity, even their sanity, as they work so hard, to be the keepers of the church's light and goodness within their parishes, communities and the human heart."
Kenny said the church needs to be "truly and deeply penitent for the horrors it perpetrated, hid and denied."

Vatican spokesman Fr. Lombardi denied this was true.

For the full story, see Irish PM criticizes Vatican

Amid American church abuse scandal, Philadelphia stands out

By Dan Gilgoff, Religion Editor
(CNN) - Accusations and revelations of sex abuse by Roman Catholic priests have been hitting American cities for a solid decade.
The now-global scandal broke in a big way in 2002 in Boston and has ensnared dioceses from Los Angeles to Kansas City to Memphis, along with many others.
But Philadelphia, where Archbishop Justin Rigali stepped down Tuesday - five months after the scandal struck his city – is different.

Pope accepts resignation of Philadelphia archbishop amid sex scandal

The scandal there could open a historic chapter in the abuse crisis, church watchers say, changing the way the American criminal justice system deals with church abuse and challenging the church’s claims that that reforms adopted in the wake of the Boston scandal have largely rooted out abuse.
“What makes Philadelphia devastating is allegations that priests who were facing credible accusation of sex abuse were still working in parishes as recently as February,” CNN senior Vatican analyst John Allen said. “This is not about misconduct that happened 50 years go. This is about the failures of today.”
The scandal hit Philadelphia five months ago, when a grand jury charged four priests and a parochial school teacher with raping and assaulting boys in their care.
The charges were unusual because they went beyond accusations against priests. A church higher-up was charged with covering up the abuse, which church experts say had never happened in the United States before.
But the grand jury also took the unusual step of releasing a report alleging that as many as 37 priests remained in ministry in Pennsylvania despite credible accusations of abuse.
Although the abuse alleged in the grand jury report happened more than a decade ago, accusations that accused priests remained active challenged the church line that reforms adopted by American bishops in the wake of the Boston scandal had largely stamped out abuse.
The American bishops’ reforms, adopted in 2002, include a zero-tolerance approach toward priests who are known to have abused children; mandatory reporting of abuse allegations to authorities; and the creation of local boards of lay Catholics to respond to such allegations.
But the allegations of the grand jury report raise doubts about the application of those standards.
“The story that the Catholic bishops have tried to tell is that, yes, the sex abuse crisis is terrible, but it’s in the past,” Allen said. “They say they’ve been called into account and cleaned up their act. Some have even argued that the church has become a social model for protecting children from abuse.”
Jeffrey Anderson, a lawyer who has represented hundreds of abuse victims in church lawsuits, says the grand jury report shows that the church is “singing a different tune but taking the same kind of actions to protect themselves.”
“Philadelphia demonstrates that abuse is every bit the current problem that it was in the past,” Anderson said. “There has been no fundamental change.”
The four priests and parochial school teacher charged in Philadelphia are pleading not guilty.
Rigali had initially challenged the claim that as many as 37 allegedly abusive priests remained active in the archdiocese, but eventually, 29 of them were placed on administrative leave. No further investigations were conducted on the remaining eight.
Allen says that many American bishops are waiting to see how the Philadelphia archdiocese responds to accusations about the priests named in grand jury report but that if abuse allegations are born out, there is likely to be widespread anger.
“You’ll find a lot of bishops who are outraged because they worked hard to apply the 2002 reforms,” he said. “They’ll realize that their credibility is under attack and badly damaged because of Philadelphia.”
In charging a church official with covering up abuse, the Philadelphia cases could also establish a national precedent for authorities holding the church hierarchy responsible for abuse.
Patrick Wall, a consultant to church abuse victims who says he is helping Philadelphia’s district attorney build a case against the archdiocese, hopes the threat of prison time will change the way American bishops respond to abuse allegations in a way that civil lawsuits have not.
"In the civil cases, we have taken over $3 billion, but you're not getting a lot of change in the system," he says.
Anderson says that he’s representing roughly two dozen abuse victims in suits against the Philadelphia archdiocese.
“Some have sought our help for years, but we weren’t able to help them because of the statute of limitations,” he said. “The grand jury report gave us a new legal basis to bring claims of cases we otherwise wouldn’t have been able to do.
“And because of all the publicity,” Anderson said, “a lot of other survivors have come forward.”

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Good Event, Bad Event

Sister Joan Chittester excerpted her talk to the American Catholic Council in Detroit in June

Boethius, a philosopher of fifth-century Rome, taught the world of his time something important for ours. “Every age that is dying,” Boethius taught in the midst of a declining Roman Empire, “is simply another age coming to life.”
New life, in other words, is not death unless we reject it. New life is growth, not decline unless we refuse it. New life is evolutionary, not revolutionary unless we make it so.
A Zen master wrote in a similar period of history, “No seed ever sees the flower.” We are all meant to begin things that will only come to fullness of fruit after us.
With those insights in mind, we have to ask how it is that two groups of people, bred from the same tradition, cut from the same social cloth, can possibly see the same agenda -- the celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council by bringing all facets of the church to recommit itself to the fulfillment of that council -- so differently: one ripe with hope, the other thick with despair.

he decision to take the church out of the 16th century -- out of the character and quality of Trent -- into the vision and character of Vatican II was good. At the council of Trent in the 16th century, the church’s response to calls for reform was to lay new laws and new regimentation on the backs of the people rather than bring reform to the policies at the center of the system itself.
The brave decision of the bishops of the world in our time to bring the church into the 20th century in Vatican II -- 400 years after the fact and more necessary than ever -- was good. But the response this time, too, is being delayed by a few.
It is being denied by those in the system who fear loss of privilege and power for themselves more than they value spiritual gain for the many. In the name of reforming the reforms there is a move abroad now to define who are the ins -- the clerical, the hierarchical, the male -- and who are the outs again -- the laity, the women, the gays.
Yet the fact is that great good has happened in our time. In our time we learned that the church is the people of God -- not simply a gathering of hierarchs around an even higher hierarch. Instead, we learned from a church alive with Vatican II that the church is indeed the people of God and we are it!
If I were a Roman Catholic bishop I would not be disturbed that Catholic women were throwing themselves on the steps of the cathedral wanting to minister in the church, begging to minister in the church. I would be disturbed that they had to go to Protestant seminaries for the theological and pastoral preparation to do it.
Let faith impel you. Let love direct you. Let hope be the glue that binds you and courage your eternally enduring Pentecostal flame. You are the good event of the church in what has too often become a bad event time.
In the Native American tradition at the time of initiation the elders tell the younger, “As you go the way of life you will see a great chasm -- jump.”
When the retreat to yesterday threatens the movement of the Holy Spirit within us all today, this is no time for despair. This is no time to stop. This is the time to jump, move on, begin again.

See NCR for the entire article.

Philly's new archbishop faces big challenges

Philadelphia's new archbishop is Denver's Bishop Charles Chaput, very conservative, recently in the news for being involved in "visitations" to the Legionaires of Christ and the Australian Bishop who was forced to resign. There are lots of newspaper accounts this morning (July 19). Here is one from Jan Ransom of the Philadelphia Inquirer

Update: The Vatican officially announced this morning that Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has been named the new archbishop of Philadelphia.


Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput, who will take over the beleaguered Philadelphia Archdiocese, will face a roster of daunting challenges.

Dozens of suspended priests are being investigated for sex crimes, a high-ranking church official has been charged with child-endangerment and four others, including a schoolteacher, have been charged with sexually assaulting minors after a damning grand-jury report blasted the Archdiocese for a widespread coverup of predatory priests.

These are just some of the many woes Cardinal Justin Rigali's successor will have to deal with, besides six civil lawsuits and a budget deficit.

Below are some of the items that should be at the top of Chaput's to-do list:

* Actively address decades of systematic negligence, assist victims and deal with predatory priests.

"One, [Chaput] must immediately reach out to victims and deal with litigation," said blogger Michael Sean Winters, who first reported Rigali's resignation on the National Catholic Reporter's website. "The other part is a long-term project to restore self confidence of the demoralized clergy."

* Restore the public's trust in the Church. The grand-jury report blasted the Archdiocese for failing to investigate claims of sexual abuse.

"[Chaput] must fire people, anyone who ignored and concealed sex crimes," said David Clohessy, National Director for the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "That's the single quickest and safest way to send a very clear signal."

* Take a stand on suspending the window in statutes of limitations.

A bill introduced by state Rep. Mike McGeehan, D-Phila., would give child sex-crime victims a two-year window to bring civil charges against offenders who currently can't be charged due to the statute of limitations. Another bill, introduced by state Rep. Louise Williams Bishop, D-Phila., would end the statute of limitations on criminal and civil lawsuits for child sex abuse.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Exequies of Archduke Otto of Austria

Sometimes it's difficult to understand statements by various church leaders, but occasionally I am left completely dumbfounded. We recall that "The Great War" devastated Europe and killed off most of a generation of young men. As a result, the Austro-Hungarian empire ceased to exist and with it the Habsburg emperors. Except the Vatican still recognizes them referring to Otto Habsburg as royal highness. The following is from the New Liturgical Movement website. The picture shows Otto with his father Blessed Charles and mother Empress Zeta.

On July 4th, 2011, at the venerable age of 98, died Archduke Otto of Austria, eldest son and heir of Blessed Charles, last Emperor of Austria and Apostolic King of Hungary. You can read a short biography of the late Archduke Otto on his official website or his obituary in the Telegraph.

This is the telegram which Our Holy Father Pope Benedict sent to Archduke Karl, the eldest son and heir of the late Archduke Otto (NLM translation):

To His Imperial Highness Archduke Karl of Austria

It is with deep sympathy that I have learned of the passing of your father, H.I.R.H. Archduke Otto of Austria. In the hour of grief over this grievous loss I unite myself with you and the entire Imperial family in prayer for the departed. In a long and fulfilled life Archduke Otto became a witness to the history of Europe and its vicissitudes. Responsible before God and conscious of an important heritage, as a great European he worked tirelessly for peace, harmony between peoples, and a just order on this continent. May God our Lord amply reward his manifold work for the good of men and grant him the life in abundance in His heavenly kingdom. Through the intercession of Mary the Mother of God I willingly impart to the relatives and all who mourn Archduke Otto and pray for his eternal salvation my Apostolic blessing.

men's feet are more worthy than women's feet

Ultra-conservative bishops seem to be more and more in the ascendance with a preference for the "good old days" of pre-Vatican II. One common symptom of this is a current of female degrading, from making fun of female altar servers to not wanting female eucharistic servers. But I was kind of shocked to see the following story coming from Florida a year ago.

SARASOTA COUNTY, FLA March 2010 - In a move that brings a national debate home to Southwest Florida Catholic churches, Bishop Frank Dewane has reminded priests that only men should have their feet washed during a pre-Easter ceremony.
Many Catholic priests in Southwest Florida have customarily washed the feet of male and female parishioners on the Thursday before Easter in a symbol of humbly serving others.
Dewane sent his "Rules of the Road" letter to churches on Friday for the series of Masses and events leading up to Easter, and it included the foot washing clarification, the diocese said.

"I don't know why men's feet are more worthy than women's," said Alice Campanella of Voice of The Faithful in Boston, where Archbishop Sean O'Malley upset many Catholic women in 2005 by inviting only men to participate in the Holy Thursday ritual.
The Vatican told O'Malley he could wash women's feet, as is the practice of many priests, the Boston Globe reported at the time.

The role of women in church practices has been a constant issue for the Catholic church. Polls show that about two-thirds of U.S. Catholics believe women should be ordained, an increase of 20 percent over similar polls in the 1980s.
In a Pew Research Center survey, the treatment of women in the church was cited by 39 percent of former Catholics as part of the reason they left.

Complete story at Sarasota Herald Tribune