Monday, April 30, 2012

Vatican loud on liberals but silent on abuse

Fintan O'Toole
The Irish Times
May 1, 2012

We are witnessing the cruel humiliation of a generation of clergy that deserves better


I thought about writing one of those columns in response to the Vatican’s censuring of five priests – Brian D’Arcy, Tony Flannery, Gerard Moloney, Seán Fagan and Owen O’Sullivan – simply for saying what most Catholics actually think about celibacy, women priests and homosexuality. But I couldn’t find either anger or hope.

All that’s left is a double dose of sadness – for a generation of idealists; for a society in need of moral leadership that is being given just one more, all too familiar dose of the most abject cynicism.
What we’re seeing now is the sadistic humiliation of a generation of clergy that deserves better. At a simple human level, there’s something genuinely tragic in the fate of these priests: not just those who have been silenced but all their like-minded colleagues. These were once young men and women, mostly in rural Ireland, in the wake of the Second Vatican Council. They were infused with the energy of reform and renewal. The priesthood still had glamour, and it was still tied up with familial snobbery, social prestige and institutional arrogance.

But there was also a promise of something more: that the institution to which they were drawn was changing, opening up, moving away from cult-like obedience to obsessive sexual doctrines. It was engaging with deep questions about power and poverty. And it was reasonable to think that this process was sure to continue, to imagine that by 2012 the church would long since have made its peace with democracy.


These people don’t deserve to be called to heel like errant lapdogs. It is easy to say that they should refuse to follow orders or just walk away from an abusive institution. But that would be to walk away from the only adult life they’ve known. It would be to write off decades of work and sacrifice – to accept that the most profound decision of one’s life was based on a delusion.

 But there’s also a sadness for Ireland itself. Our society hardly needs yet more hypocrisy, another layer of self-serving cynicism. The institutional church disgraced itself by systematically covering up child abuse. It is almost beyond belief that its final conclusion from that trauma – the real outcome of all those apologies and visitations – is that the true problem is some mildly liberal articles in Reality or the Sunday World.

This is the institution that told us that it was unable to control child rapists in its ranks because it couldn’t just issue orders. ...........

When priests were raping children, the institutional hierarchy was wringing its hands and pleading “what can we do?” The Vatican was very busy and very far away. But when a priest makes some mild suggestions that women might be entitled to equality, the church is suddenly an efficient police state that can whip that priest into line. The Vatican, which apparently couldn’t read any of the published material pointing to horrific abuse in church-run institutions, can pore over the Sunday World with a magnifying glass, looking for the minutest speck of heresy.

An institution so stupid that it thinks its Irish faithful is more scandalised by Brian D’Arcy than by Brendan Smyth is not worth anyone’s anger. It is doing a far better job of destroying itself than its worst enemies could dream of.

All we can do is mourn the passing of a strain of decency and hope in a society so inured to hypocrisy that one more example is neither here nor there.

Full article at the Irish Times

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fr. D'Arcy fifth priest censured by Vatican

Religious Affairs Correspondent
The Irish Times
Fri, Apr 27, 2012

ONE OF Ireland’s best known priests Fr Brian D’Arcy has been censured by the Vatican over four articles he wrote for the Sunday World newspaper in 2010.

Fr D’Arcy is the fifth Irish Catholic priest known to have been censured by the Vatican recently. The others are Redemptorist priests Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Gerard Moloney, Marist priest Fr Sean Fagan and Capuchin priest Fr Owen O’Sullivan.

The four articles by Fr D’Arcy concerned how the Vatican dealt with the issue of women priests; why US Catholics were leaving the church; why the church must take responsibility for clerical child sex abuse; and homosexuality.

The Vatican is also understood to have complained about headlines on some of the articles, which would have been written by editorial staff at the Sunday World.

Fr D’Arcy has been a columnist with the Sunday paper for decades. He is also a contributor to RTÉ programmes, BBC Radio 2’s Pause For Thought, and an author.

Now, in instances where he addresses matters of faith and morals in his writings or broadcasts, he must first submit these to a third party for clearance.

In a statement yesterday Fr Pat Duffy, Irish provincial superior of the Passionist congregation in Ireland, to which Fr D’Arcy belongs, said that “last year concerns were expressed to Fr Ottaviano D’Egidio – the Passionist superior general – by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) about some aspects of Fr Brian D’Arcy’s writings.”

He added: “Since then Fr Brian has been co-operating to ensure he can make a contribution to journalism in Ireland. Fr Brian remains a priest in good standing.”

According to journalist Sarah MacDonald, writing in the current edition of Catholic weekly The Tablet, Fr D’Egidio was summoned by Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the CDF (at the Vatican), 14 months ago.
“It is understood that Cardinal Levada conveyed his dissatisfaction with four articles of Fr D’Arcy’s over a 38-year output,” wrote Ms MacDonald.

Writing in the Sunday World last week, Fr D’Arcy said there were those in the church who believed that “priests like me, for example, should have ‘the party whip withdrawn from them’ as one prominent Catholic woman so smugly put it on a radio programme recently.

“Sadly in our church now, it has become impossible to be open and honest about what good people are convinced of. It’s as if merely stating unpalatable facts is in itself disloyal. For years I’ve tried to point out the perils of the growing disconnect between church leaders and the ordinary people.”
From Co Fermanagh, Fr D’Arcy was born in 1945 and ordained in 1969.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Notre Dame faculty members call on bishop to retract 'incendiary' statement

Jerry Filteau
National Catholic Reporter
 April 23, 2012

 Almost 50 University of Notre Dame faculty members have urged Bishop Daniel Jenky of Peoria, Ill., to "renounce loudly and publicly" his recent comparison of President Barack Obama with Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. If he does not do so, they said, Notre Dame should seek the bishop's immediate resignation from the university's Board of Fellows.


 Jenky said if the Obama administration does not rescind the regulation in question, U.S. Catholic schools, hospitals and social services nationwide will be forced to close down next year. "This is not a war where any believing Catholic can remain neutral," he said


 Jenky's homily led Americans United for Separation of Church and State to file a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service, claiming the bishop's sermon was clearly political in violation of federal laws that allow churches and other tax-exempt nonprofits to address issues of public policy but prohibit them from endorsing or opposing specific political candidates.


 The Notre Dame professors said Jenky's comparison of the HHS regulation to the attacks on the church by Bismarck, Clemenceau, Stalin and Hitler was "profoundly offensive." "Bishop Jenky's comments demonstrate ignorance of history, insensitivity to victims of genocide, and absence of judgment," they wrote in the letter. "We accept that Bishop Jenky's comments are protected by the First Amendment, but we find it profoundly offensive that a member of our beloved university's highest authority, the Board of Fellows, should compare the president's actions with those whose genocidal policies murdered tens of millions of people, including the specific targeting of Catholics, Jews, and other minorities for their faith." The faculty members' letter, addressed to Notre Dame's president, Holy Cross Fr. John Jenkins and board president Richard Notebaert and released Friday, called for a university statement "that will definitively distance Notre Dame from Bishop Jenky's incendiary statement." "Further, we feel that it would be in the best interest of Notre Dame if Bishop Jenky resigned from the University's Board of Fellows if he is unwilling to renounce loudly and publicly this destructive analogy," the letter states.


 Read the full article at the National Catholic Reporter

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Leader of 'radical' US nuns rejects vatican criticism

Jane Little
April 20, 2012

The leader of a group of US nuns the Vatican accuses of flouting Church teaching has rejected the claims. "I've no idea what they're talking about," Sister Simone Campbell, head of Network, a Catholic social justice lobby, told the BBC. "Our role is to live the gospel with those who live on the margins of society. That's all we do."
 Network was singled out for criticism in the report for "being silent on the right to life" and other "crucial issues" to the church. Sister Campbell suggested that her organisation's vocal support for President Barack Obama's healthcare bill was behind the slapdown. "There's a strong connection," she said. "We didn't split on faith, we split on politics."

 Full article at the BBC

Bishops vs. nuns - no contest

James Zogby
 Huffington Post
 April 20, 2012

 I was joking yesterday that I was only slapped once by a bishop, while every nun who taught me hit me at least once -- and so it might seem strange for me to want to defend the nuns. But, it's not. While the bishops have adopted a Nixon-like "circle the wagons" defensive posture during their disgraceful "defend the institution at all costs" approach to the pedophile scandal, making us wince in shame at their outrageous behavior, it was our women religious figures who held high the social gospel, in word and deed -- reminding us why we could still be proud of the Catholic church and its teachings.

 Instead of "silencing" nuns who support health care for all, the dignity of all life and have been in the forefront of the movements for peace and social justice, the bishops should be focusing their wrath on their peers who have spoken so shamefully about the President, behaved with such intolerance toward gays and lesbians and criminally mishandled the sex abuse scandals.

 The church's hierarchy may have turned their back on the reforms of Vatican II, but in doing so they ignore the fact that, for my generation, it was the breath of fresh air created by those reforms that gave an exhausted American church new life. The sad fact is that it was the nuns who internalized the reforms of Vatican II, while many in the hierarchy recoiled, feeling threatened. In reasserting their heavy-handed control, slamming shut the windows of reform, the bishops are putting the church back on life-support.

 With each new outrageous act of control, the bishops are looking more like desperate old men, obsessed with their narrow interpretation of one of God's Commandments, attempting to hold on to the last vestiges of their fading authority by defending their power over the institution while ignoring the gospel.

 Most Catholics only know there are bishops, but they personally know the nuns -- they teach their children, run their hospitals, and carry out the gospel injunctions to feed the poor, clothe the naked, etc. The bishops may want to convert the church, transforming it into a "corpus Santorum," but when they pick on the nuns, methinks they may be over-reaching.

Complaint filed with IRS over homily by Peoria bishop

Manya Brachear Chicago Tribune April 19, 2012 A prominent advocate for the separation of church and state filed a formal complaint with the Internal Revenue Service Thursday, accusing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria of violating federal law by intervening in a political campaign. The Rev. Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, alleges that a fiery homily by Peoria Bishop Daniel Jenky last Sunday effectively urged Catholics to vote against Obama in the 2012 presidential election. Jenky’s homily criticized policies proposed by the Obama administration that would require all employers, including religious groups, to provide free birth control coverage in their health care plans. The bishop included Obama's policies in a litany of government challenges the Catholic Church has overcome in previous centuries, including actions by Hitler and Stalin. “Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services and health care,” Jenky said. “In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.” Lynn has said church-affiliated agencies who operate on taxpayer dollars should follow public policy guidelines or only collect money from parishioners. But remarks delivered later in the homily prompted Lynn’s complaint to the IRS. “This fall, every practicing Catholic must vote, and must vote their Catholic consciences, or by the following fall our Catholic schools, our Catholic hospitals, our Catholic Newman Centers, all our public ministries -- only excepting our church buildings – could easily be shut down,” Jenky said. In a letter to the IRS, Lynn wrote that Jenky violated the rules that prohibit issue advocacy and that he had called on Catholics to vote as a bloc at the polls. “To be sure, Jenky never utters the words ‘Do not vote for Obama,’ ” Lynn wrote. “But the Internal Revenue Code makes it clear that statements need not be this explicit to run afoul of the law.” On Wednesday, Lonnie Nasatir, the regional director of Chicago's Anti-Defamation League, demanded an apology from Jenky, calling his remarks “outrageous, offensive and completely over the top.” A spokeswoman for the diocese said the comments were taken out of context and misunderstood. “Based upon the current government’s threatened infringement upon the Church’s religious exercise of its ministry, Bishop Jenky offered historical context and comparisons as a means to prevent a repetition of historical attacks upon the Catholic Church and other religions,” said Patricia Gibson, chancellor of the Peoria Diocese. “Bishop Jenky gave several examples of times in history in which religious groups were persecuted because of what they believed,” Gibson said. “We certainly have not reached the same level of persecution. However, history teaches us to be cautious once we start down the path of limiting religious liberty.” Copyright © 2012, Chicago Tribune

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Anti-Defamation League assails comments by Peoria's bishop

Chicago Tribune

April 19, 2012
A homily delivered Sunday by Peoria's Roman Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky has angered the Anti-Defamation League, a watchdog for anti-Semitism.

In the homily in St. Mary's Cathedral in Peoria, Jenky took aim at health care policies proposed by the Obama administration that have been a source of consternation for Catholic bishops since they were announced this year. He included Obama's policies in a litany of government challenges the Catholic Church has overcome in previous centuries.

"Remember that in past history other governments have tried to force Christians to huddle and hide only within the confines of their churches, like the first disciples locked up in the upper room," he said. "In the late 19th century, Bismarck waged his 'Kulturkampf,' a culture war, against the Roman Catholic Church, closing down every Catholic school and hospital, convent and monastery in Imperial Germany. Clemenceau, nicknamed 'the priest eater,' tried the same thing in France in the first decade of the 20th century. Hitler and Stalin, at their better moments, would just barely tolerate some churches remaining open, but would not tolerate any competition with the state in education, social services, and health care.

"In clear violation of our First Amendment rights, Barack Obama — with his radical, pro-abortion and extreme secularist agenda — now seems intent on following a similar path.

On Wednesday, Lonnie Nasatir, the regional director of Chicago's Anti-Defamation League, demanded an apology from Jenky, calling his remarks "outrageous, offensive and completely over the top."

"Clearly, Bishop Jenky needs a history lesson," Nasatir said. "There are few, if any, parallels in history to the religious intolerance and anti-Semitism fostered in society by Stalin, and especially Hitler, who under his regime perpetuated the open persecution and ultimate genocide of Jews, Catholics and many other minorities."

A spokeswoman for the Peoria Diocese could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Vatican orders LCWR to revise, appoints archbishop to oversee group

Joshua McElwee
National Catholic Reporter
April 18, 2012

The Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has ordered the largest leadership organization for U.S. women religious to reform its statutes, programs and affiliations to conform more closely to "the teachings and discipline of the Church."
The Vatican also said Wednesday it has appointed Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), which has been the subject of a "doctrinal assessment" by the Vatican congregation since 2009, and has given him power to review and revise the organization's policies.
The news came in a press release Wednesday morning from the U.S. bishops' conference, which was accompanied by an eight-page document of the doctrinal congregation and a one-page statement from Cardinal William Levada, prefect of the congregation.
According to the document from the congregation, Sartain is to be given authority over the group in five areas, including:
  • Revising LCWR statutes;
  • Reviewing LCWR plans and programs;
  • Creating new programs for the organization;
  • Reviewing and offering guidance on the application of liturgical texts; and
  • Reviewing LCWR's affiliations with other organizations, citing specifically NETWORK and the Resource Center for Religious Institutes.
According to the letter, Sartain's mandate runs for "up to five years, as deemed necessary." Sartain is also expected to set up an advisory team including clergy and women religious, to "work collaboratively" with LCWR officers and to "report on the progress of this work to the Holy See."
"In this way, the Holy See hopes to offer an important contribution to the future of religious life in the Church in the United States," the letter states.
According to the U.S. bishops' release, Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo, Ohio, and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., will work with Sartain.
Although LCWR officers did not immediately return requests for comment on this story, a former leader of the group told NCR that the appointment and the order for the group to revise itself was "actually immoral."
"Within the canonical framework, there is only one way I can see to deal with this," said Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister, who has served as president of the group as well as in various leadership positions. (Chittister also writes a column for NCR.) "They would have to disband canonically and regroup as an unofficial interest group.
"That would be the only way to maintain growth and nourish their congregational charisms and the charism of the LCWR, which is to help religious communities assess the signs of the time. If everything you do has to be approved by somebody outside, then you're giving your charism away, and you're certainly demeaning the ability of women to make distinctions."
The Vatican congregation's doctrinal assessment of LCWR started shortly after the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life announced a separate apostolic visitation of U.S. women religious orders. The results of that study were submitted to Rome in January.
While much of the information contained in the Vatican document released Wednesday is previously reported information about the assessment, the statement also reveals more details about the extent of the investigation of the group and provides previously unknown information about the timeline of the process and the involvement of Pope Benedict XVI.
Regarding the timeline, the document states the Vatican congregation was first presented with the results of the doctrinal assessment in January 2011 and decided then to examine what forms of "canonical intervention" might be available to address the "problematic aspects" it says is present in the organization, which the letter says are considered "grave and a matter of serious concern."
The document also states that Pope Benedict met with Levada two days after the meeting and at that point gave Levada authority to explore the "implementation" of the congregation's findings.
Citing a passage from the Gospel of Luke -- "I have prayed for you, Peter, that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned to me, you must strengthen the faith of your brothers and sisters" -- the document says the pope gave Levada the authority to show his "pastoral concern" for women religious, "who through the past several centuries have been so instrumental in building up the faith and life of the Holy Church of God."
In his letter Wednesday, Levada writes that Sartain's appointment is "aimed at fostering a patient and collaborative renewal of this conference of major superiors in order to provide a stronger doctrinal foundation for its many laudable initiatives and activities."
The document from the congregation re-emphasizes the reason for the doctrinal assessment, writing that Levada told LCWR leadership in 2008 that the congregation had three major areas of concern with the group:
  • The content of speakers' addresses at the annual LCWR assemblies;
  • "Corporate dissent" in the congregation regarding the church's sexual teachings; and
  • "A prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" present in some of the organizations programs and presentations.
The document cites an address by Dominican Sr. Laurie Brink, given at the 2007 LCWR assembly, and says it is a "serious source of scandal and is incompatible with religious life."
The document states Levada has received letters from the leadership of several U.S. orders protesting church teaching on issues, including women's ordination and the proper ministry to homosexual people.
"The terms of the letters suggest that these sisters collectively take a position not in agreement with the Church's teaching on human sexuality," the document states. "It is a serious matter when these Leadership Teams are not providing effective leadership and example to their communities, but place themselves outside the Church's teaching."
The document also says certain LCWR presentations "risk distorting faith in Jesus and his loving Father who sent his Son for the salvation of the world" and "even undermine the revealed doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture."
Ultimately, the document states that the doctrinal assessment undertaken by the congregation revealed a "two-fold problem" in the organization of "positive error" -- citing what it calls the "doctrinally problematic" statements at annual assemblies -- and of "silence and inaction ... in the face of such error."
The document notes specifically "the absence of initiatives" by LCWR members to promote the reception of the church's teaching, specifically mentioning Pope John Paul II's apostolic letter on the ordination of women, Ordinatio sacerdotalis.
The document also criticizes remarks by women religious that their disagreement with the church's official teaching on certain topics could be considered prophetic, writing that such a notion is "based upon a mistaken understanding of the dynamic of prophecy in the Church" that "justifies dissent by positing the possibility of divergence between the Church's magisterium and a 'legitimate' theological intuition of some of the faithful."
The review "seems all the more opportune" in light of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, "whose theological vision and practical recommendations for Consecrated Life can serve as a providential template for review and renewal of religious life in the United States," the document states.
In his letter, Levada writes that the first step in the implementation of the findings will be a "personal meeting" between members of the congregation and LCWR leadership.
"Such a personal encounter allows for the opportunity to review the document together in a spirit of mutual respect and collaboration, hopefully thereby avoiding possible misunderstandings of the document's intent and scope," Levada writes.
Chittister said she was deeply distraught at news of Sartain's appointment and the order for LCWR to revise itself.
"When you set out to reform a people, a group, who have done nothing wrong, you have to have an intention, a motivation that is not only not morally based, but actually immoral," she said.
"Because you are attempting to control people for one thing and one thing only -- and that is for thinking, for being willing to discuss the issues of the age ... If we stop thinking, if we stop demanding the divine right to think, and to see that as a Catholic gift, then we are betraying the church no matter what the powers of the church see as an inconvenient truth in their own times."
In attempting to take such control of people's thinking, she said, "You make a mockery of the search for God, of the whole notion of keeping eyes on the signs of the times and of providing the people with the best possible spiritual guidance and presence you can give.
"When I was a child in this town, I was taught that it was a sin to go into a Protestant church.
In my lifetime, the church, to its eternal credit, admitted that it was wrong. The scandal and the sin is that it took 400 years to do that."
Chittister said women religious have been trying since Vatican II "to help the church avoid that kind of darkness and control ... they have been a gift to the church in their leadership and their love and their continuing fidelity.
"When you set out to reform that kind of witness, remember when it's over who doomed the church to another 400 years of darkness. It won't the people of the church who did it."

Original article and extensive comments at The National Catholic Reporter

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Second Irish priest silenced by church as anger grows over gagging attempts

Patrick Counihan
 Irish Central
 April 17, 2012

 Irish priests are at war with the Vatican again after attempts to silence a second rebel cleric.

 Veteran Marist priest Fr Sean Fagan has been ordered to stop writing and commentating in public. The 84-year-old has been reprimanded by the church after he had called for an inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in all Irish dioceses. His order has also bought all remaining copies of a theological book written by Fr Fagan who was required to give an undertaking not to write again. The latest move came after Fr Fagan publicly advocated allowing women and married men to be ordained as priests.

 The Association of Catholic Priests has condemned the moves to silence Fr Fagan, just days after another rebel priest was ordered to return to his monastery after his newspaper column was pulled by the Church. ACP spokesman Fr Sean McDonagh told the Irish Independent that the silencing of Fr Fagan is ‘just outrageous’. Fr McDonagh added: “The church is throwing a fatwa at the priest. Some of the church’s recent actions are like a return to the Inquisition. “This isn’t the time for heresy hunting. Fr Fagan’s writings were clear, well written and interesting. He wants to start a conversation about the church’s views on sexuality. “I believe that the silencing of priests by the Vatican is out of a desire for control rather than because of sincerely held belief or intelligent argument.” The Irish Bishops have refused to comment to the Irish Independent on the story.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Obedience to law or to scripture?

Phylis Zagano
National Catholic Reporter
April 11, 2012

Now it's Vienna's Cardinal Christoph Schönborn who's wading in hot water. Seems he and a group of Austrian priests and deacons got a full blast of papal steam on Holy Thursday.

The shrill Roman whistle sounded: No women or married men will be ordained.

Goodness, what's a 67-year-old prince of the church (and son of a count) to do? After all, Schönborn was a student of Joseph Ratzinger in Regensburg, Germany. He taught dogmatic theology at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He was a member of the International Theological Commission. He oversaw the creation of the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Now Schönborn's former professor, the pope, chastised the Austrians (not directly, of course) in the middle of Holy Thursday. Benedict also sent a letter to Schönborn. Do you think it might be about women?

Schönborn has tangled with Benedict before. In 2009, as the Austrian bishops were ending emergency meetings called by the pope, the cardinal handed Benedict XVI a petition. Called an "initiative of the faithful," it asked for married priests (both men to be ordained and those who left to marry) and for ordination of women as deacons. Since then, the Austrian Priest's Initiative, representing 15 percent of Austrian clergy, broadened the demands. And, by the way, 87,000 Austrian Catholics have formally resigned from the church.

The Pfarrer Initiative, as it is also called, goes far beyond Schönborn's earlier requests, but Austria has been simmering with reform ideas for a long time as Rome watched. In 2001, three Vatican offices directed a terse four paragraph "Notification" (a document roughly on the level of parking regulations) at the Austrian bishops, telling them not to train women as deacons. The Vatican's argument: We do not want to ordain them. One of the Curia's signers was Joseph Ratzinger.


In the late 1990s, the Austrian bishops -- and perhaps some German bishops -- were actually training women for the diaconate. When the "Notification" landed at their episcopal doorsteps, they acquiesced, sending the women away. Wonder what happened?

Ever hear of Roman Catholic Womenpriests? The Danube Seven? A year after the "Notification," these natives of Austria and Germany were off on a riverboat being ordained as priests by an illegal bishop in an illegal ceremony. By 2003, they were excommunicated -- for breaking the law.


Full article at the National Catholic Reporter

Sunday, April 8, 2012

theologian claims there is 'ominous divide' in church

Patsy McGarry
Irish Times
April 8, 2012

AS CONTROVERSY over the silencing by the Vatican of Redemptorist priests Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Gerard Moloney grows, an Augustinian priest has written about “an ominous division” in the Catholic Church.

Theologian Fr Gabriel Daly has said “one party is now in control and is presenting its views as ‘the teaching of the church’.”

He continued: “Its more voluble members dismiss those who differ from it as ‘a la carte Catholics’ – a witless enough phrase in a legitimately diverse church.”

Fr Flannery, a founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, has had his monthly column with Reality, the Redemptorists’ monthly magazine, discontinued at Vatican direction, while Fr Moloney, the magazine’s editor, can no longer write on certain issues.

Both priests hold liberal views on contraception, celibacy and women priests.


Aided “by secrecy and the unchallenged exercise of power, the Curia has established effective control over the whole church”. Fr Daly observed that “there is little or no concern for those faithful Catholics who are quietly appalled by what is happening. They are seen as simply wrong,” he said.


Meanwhile a slew of priests have publicly asserted their support for Fr Flannery and Fr Moloney in comments on the Association of Catholic Priests website.

Full article at the

Association of Catholic Priests co-founder silenced by CDF

Catholic Ireland
April 9, 2012

The Catholic lay group, We are Church Ireland, has expressed outrage at the news that a prominent Irish Redemptorist priest has been silenced by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

On Thursday, Fr Tony Flannery, one of the co-founders of the Association of Catholic Priests, which represents over 800 Irish clergy, confirmed to the media that he is being investigated by the Vatican over his liberal views on issues such as clerical celibacy and women priests.

A second Irish Redemptorist, Fr Gerard Moloney, who is editor of the well-known religious monthly, Reality, is also reported to have been silenced over his liberal views and is no longer permitted to write on particular issues in the magazine. Fr Flannery’s column in Reality, which has featured for the last fourteen years, has been discontinued.

In a statement, We are Church Ireland said its members were, “appalled” at the silencing of Fr Flannery from the expression of his theological views. They also called on Irish Catholics to support him at this time.

The group, which was established this year, said it was not the first time Irish theologians have been silenced and they referred in their statement to moves two years ago against Capuchin, Fr Owen O’Sullivan, by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), after he published an article in The Furrow magazine arguing for a more supportive attitude towards homosexuality.

Describing the CDF move against Fr Flannery as an, “infringement of the rights of Catholics to dissent from man-made canon laws of the Church,” We are Church Ireland urged his fellow priests to, “publicly express their solidarity with their silenced brother priest,” in order to circumvent further moves against him.

A spokesperson for the group said it is, “a critical time in the Catholic Church,” as both the apostolic visitation report and Pope Benedict’s Holy Thursday homily were, “trying to bring our Church back into rigid authoritarian centralised structures where all dissent is dealt with in a ruthless manner.”

Read entire article at Catholic Ireland News

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Lay organizations criticise Vatican investigation

RTE News (Ireland)
April 6, 2012

Two Catholic lay organizations and a number of prominent priests have criticized the Vatican's investigation of the Redemptorist author, Fr Tony Flannery, for his liberal views.

Referring to Pope Benedict's recent visit to Cuba, a leading member of the Association of Catholic Priests said Pope Benedict XVI could not ask the Cuban leadership to permit freedom of expression if he does not respect it within the Church.
Sources say that the Vatican began investigating Father Tony Flannery two months ago. He has been prevented from contributing his monthly column to the "Reality" magazine. And his order, the Redemptorists, have been told to scrutinize both the Magazine and its editor, Fr Gerry Moloney's, output.
Cardinal William Levada's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has not explained its moves publicly, but for years Fr Flannery has opposed the Church's ban on artificial contraception and obligatory priestly celibacy.

Full article at RTE News

Signs of the times: blind obedience against well formed conscience

Signs of the times?   On the one hand, the hierarchy wants to equate unquestioning obedience to authority as the mark of genuine Christianity .......

Disobedience is not a way to renew the church, Pope tells dissident priests
Andrea Tornelli
Vatican Insider
April 5, 2012

his homily said during this morning’s chrismal mass in St. Peter’s, Benedict XVI referred explicitly to the appeal by dissenting Austrian priests for reforms and the possibility for women to be ordained to the priesthood. Speaking of a priest’s “faithfulness to Christ” and the difficulties in achieving this, “given the often dramatic situation in the Church today,” the Pope said: “A group of priests in a European Country recently published an appeal for disobedience, which should even ignore definitive decisions set out in the Magisterium – for example on the question of women’s ordination. The Blessed Pope John Paul II had made a definitive statement on the subject, saying that the Church had received no authorisation from the Lord on this matter.”

“Is disobedience a way of renewing the Church?” Ratzinger asked himself. “We want to believe the authors of this appeal - he added - when they claim that they are motivated by their concern for the Church; that they are adamant that the slowness of Institutions should be dealt with by taking drastic measures to open up new paths – so that the Church can keep up with the pace of today’s world. But is disobedience really the way forward? Is it possible to perceive, in this, elements of faithfulness to Christ - which is the prerequisite for real renewal - or is it just a desperate push for something to be done, for the Church to be transformed according to our wishes and ideas?”

Full article at Vatican Insider

On the other hand, the sensus fidelum of the faithful is otherwise, for example :

Pittsburgh Priests to bishop: listen to laity on contraception
Joshua J. McElwee
National Catholic Reporter
April 5, 2012

Several priests of the Pittsburgh diocese have met with Bishop David Zubik -- the prelate who said in January that the Obama administration's mandate regarding coverage of contraceptives in health care plans told Catholics, "To Hell with you" -- telling him his stance on the issue was alienating women and creating "a lot of anger" among laypeople.
The meeting took place in mid-March between four priests and the bishop and lasted about two hours. NCR learned of the meeting Monday through a fax sent from the Association of Pittsburgh Priests, an area group known to accept women and married men into its ranks.
The meeting was "cordial" and Zubik "took the time" to listen to many of the priests' views, Fr. Neil McCaulley, one of the four priests, told NCR in a telephone interview. He also said the bishop had agreed to meet in the future with groups of women and laypeople to hear their views on the matter.
Speaking to NCR on Tuesday, Zubik said the meeting was amicable and that he wanted to meet with the priests because "it's important for me to be able to respond" to their concerns.
The bishop also said he is open to meeting with laypeople. "I think that as many people as possible need to hear from me" on the issue, he said.

full story at National Catholic Reporter


Fbi tactics used against Irish priests according to superior
Irish Central News
April 6, 2012

Irish liberal priests are being subjected to FBI Edgar Hoover like tactics says Fr Adrian Egan, the head of the Redemptorist Order in Limerick.

His comments came after The Vatican stated they were investigating fellow Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery for his liberal views on issues such as female priests and his criticism of the church sex scandal.

In a defiant show of public support for his "friend and colleague", Fr Egan said he was "hugely disappointed", "dismayed", "flabbergasted, shocked and amazed" at the move by the Vatican.

"I'm speaking on my own behalf and not for the Redemptorist order. I see nothing to be gained from silencing Tony. It doesn't sit well in today's culture and it doesn't benefit anyone. He (Tony) is articulating what he is hearing on the coal-face from ordinary people."

"The reality, too, is that, there are people sitting in churches on a daily basis that are almost listening to hear you express an opinion that might be seen as dissenting and they will report you.

"It's a little bit back like maybe in the Hoover days in America, where there are kind of agents all around the place that are willing to lift a phone, or write a letter, to a local bishop or the Vatican, and say, 'so and so did this', and it may be of the most minor thing, and yet, they can be taken seriously."

Egan said: "I want to be able to articulate what I feel and what I think about. We are now celebrating Holy Week this week and, in many ways, Jesus was a victim of those who wanted to silence him . . . They wanted rid of him.

"There is a sense of that here -- this is not how you deal with people who you disagree with," Fr Egan added.

"He certainly has my support and I'd be surprised if he doesn't have the support of the vast majority of his colleagues and of the congregation."

Read more: Irish Central

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The vatican is a "cold house" for liberal catholics

Fr. Kevin Hegerty
Mayo News (Ireland)
March 29, 2012

t has been ironically said that the three greatest lies in human history are “the cheque is in the post”, “of course I’ll still love you in the morning”, and “we’re from the head office, we are here to help you”.

So the Irish Catholic hierarchy must have felt some trepidation akin to that felt by teachers when a whole-school evaluation is in the offing, after Pope Benedict announced in March 2010 that he was sending apostolic visitors to Ireland to examine church institutions.

The announcement came in the wake of the publication of the Murphy Report in December 2009 after which the Pope had summoned the bishops to Rome to account for their stewardship.
The report was a devastating indictment of the archdiocese of Dublin. It revealed the horrifying extent of the sexual abuse of children by clerics in the diocese and multiple cover-ups by successive superiors.

The report was a culmination of over a decade of similar revelations that indicated there was something rotten at the heart of Irish Catholicism.

By 2009 the bishops were shell-shocked, beleaguered and divided. The impenetrable façade of public episcopal unanimity that had characterised the Irish hierarchy since the late 19th century had shattered like the scramble for life boats on the ‘Titanic’. It was every man for himself. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin, the church leader most trusted by abuse victims because of his passionate understanding of their pain seemed isolated from his colleagues.

In the leisurely manner that prevails in the Vatican it took a year for a team of apostolic visitors to be assembled and come to Ireland. They spent several weeks here last year, visiting church institutions and talking to individuals and groups.

Last Tuesday their report was published. Well, not really. It is disappointing that all we got is a seven-page summary. It is as if the report of the Mahon Tribunal was confined to an executive summary.
For the church in Ireland this has been a steep learning curve whose summit has not yet been fully reached. There are still some clerics who claim privately that the crisis in the main is a creation of the liberal media.

There has however, been significant progress since the 1990s. Then the church’s response to sexual abuse cases was shrouded in secrecy and dominated by the paramount desire to protect the good name of the church. Anyone criticising this approach was seen as a disloyal fomenter of low morale among the clergy.

The visitors proposals for reform in the Irish church are couched in conservative terms, a return to the spiritual and theological cartography of the past. This is not surprising. Pope Benedict has a jaundiced view of the insights of the Second Vatican Council which pronounced an open and dialogical church. The visitors were chosen on the basis of orthodoxy rather than imagination.

They propose a return to the rigid and enclosed model of seminary training that existed up to the Second Vatican Council. Contact with the outside world is seen as a kind of contamination.
I believe that this is a retrograde step. Students for the priesthood in Ireland are now few in number. They are usually rigidly pious and theologically conservative. I reckon they require regular exposure to secular reality rather than incarceration in a spiritual ghetto even if that is where they prefer to be. Should these students be eventually ordained they will have to minister in a complex world, not an incense-filled cocoon.

The visitors have a cut at liberal Irish catholics for holding ”theological opinions at variance with the teaching of the Magisterium”. According to them we are not following the “authentic path” of church renewal.

How can they know that? I think it an arrogant assumption. Liberal catholics, like myself, hope for a church that opens the priesthood to married men and women, that revises the position of contraception in “Humanae Vitae” and that reverses the harsh insensitivity of its teaching on homosexuality. Many of us have come to our views as a result of honest and honourable reflection. The Vatican is a “cold house” for us but we do expect respect for our freedom of conscience.

Sometimes it seems to me that the Vatican’s vision of an ideal Catholic community is an assembly of Rick Santurom lookalikes.

Full article at The Mayo News