Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Priests call on hierarchy to help save church from "effective collapse"

RTE Ireland
Oct. 30, 2012

The Association of Catholic Priests has called for all groups within the Irish church to join in planning how to save it from "effective collapse" in 20 years' time.

The ACP has asked the hierarchy to join priests and lay-people to discuss the future of the church in light of the decline in the number of priests.

It has called for the reality of the situation to be communicated to Rome and for space to be created at parish, diocesan and national level for discussion of the crisis.

Primate of All Ireland Seán Brady has been told that clerical gatherings are often characterised by dejection, depression and, sometimes, almost despair.

The ACP said there is energy, vibrancy and enthusiasm when lay-people attend assemblies with clergy.

It is disappointed that its request for a meeting with the Bishops' Conference on the crisis has been turned down.

It accepts Pope Benedict's call for the "renewal" of the church in Ireland and his emphasis on the opportunities offered by the upcoming "Year of Faith".

Last week, the hierarchy responded that bishops' engagement with the ACP would best take place at local level by using established structures such as the Councils of Priests.

Monday, October 29, 2012

False gods, erroneous notions of holiness and blindness of righteous people

The Archbishop of Manilla Luis Antonio Tagle will become the youngest Catholic Cardinal on November 24. As Bishop of Imus, he gave the following talk at the Eucharistic Congress in Quebec in 2008:

“Jesus' sacrifice of obedience to the Father and communion with weak sinners is the same sacrifice that the baptized are asked to offer as a gift to the world. This is so because we have received his life in baptism. And in every Eucharistic memorial of Christ's sacrifice, we are taken up into its life-giving power so that we can share it for the life of the world.

It is ironic, however, that during the public ministry of Jesus, he was not always perceived as someone who offered a sacrifice pleasing to God. Instead of being praised for being obedient, he was frequently accused of transgressing the law of God. No wonder, some people attributed his miracles to the power of the prince of demons rather than to Divine intervention. His critics even took his repeated claims of oneness with God as blasphemy rather than as revelation of God's truth.

They concluded that God was as displeased with him as they were. He was dangerous for the nation and the Temple. For indeed Jesus' sacrifice of obedience took on a seemingly disobedient or irreverent expression. It is interesting to note that quite often, Jesus was denounced as a violator of God's law when he showed compassion for the weak, the poor, the sick, the women, and public sinners. He offered new life to those considered impure by eating and mingling with them. He assured them that God was not distant and there was hope in God's loving mercy.

But he himself got no mercy from his adversaries, only ridicule for disobeying laws that were supposed to embody God's will. Jesus suffered on account of his self-offering for those loved by God. But he never wavered in his sacrifice. In the process he exposed the false gods that people worshipped, erroneous notions of holiness and the blindness of righteous people to the visitations of God. Jesus' sacrifice uncovered the link between the worship of false gods and insensitivity to the needy.

The bishop's entire talk, well worth reading, is quoted at Whispers in the Loggia

Showing support for LCWR during these trying times

Fr. Richard McBrien
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 29, 2012

Fr. McBrien is the Crowley-O'Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame.

It's old news by now, but I want to add my name to the already long list of people who have supported the Leadership Conference of Women Religious against the Vatican and its allies in North America.

The nuns have been in the forefront of the struggle to keep the spirit and the letter of the Second Vatican Council alive, not only in religious communities of women but also in the Catholic church at large.

Unfortunately, LCWR is a scapegoat for everything the right wing in the Catholic church loathes. One should recognize that ultra-conservatives exist in the highest ranks of the Vatican, excluding no ecclesiastical office in the church.

As I said (to a standing ovation) at the symposium held in my honor at the University of Notre Dame toward the end of April, few North American Catholics would be Catholics today if it were not for the nuns. The nuns, I insisted (to another standing ovation), are the greatest asset to the church in North America, and one hopes and prays that the Vatican will soon come to realize that as well.


The council brought fresh air into the church, just as Pope John XXIII had hoped, but neither he nor his closest friends could have foreseen the terrible backlash he would also unleash.

He couldn't have foreseen, for example, the concerted efforts of his successors, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, to undermine the council, consciously or not, by the appointment of bishops and archbishops unfriendly to the council.


Nor could John XXIII have foreseen the wholesale assault on the nuns of the United States, not only in the "visitation" of the sisters' communities, but also in the investigation of LCWR, which has been the source of so much good for the U.S. church.

Neither could he have foreseen the demoralization that has set into the Catholic church nowadays, with many Catholics looking forlornly at the Second Vatican Council as if it never happened and the pontificate of John XXIII as if he never existed.

The bishops appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI insist they support the council, but that the council was misinterpreted by progressive Catholics. Progressive Catholics, on the other hand, feel the recent crop of bishops overemphasize the abortion issue to the practical exclusion of the church's traditional emphasis on social justice and the needs of the poor, which the Nuns on the Bus have highlighted.

We cannot overemphasize the fact that a pall of sadness now covers the church. Many have dropped out (the recent Pew poll disclosed that ex-Catholics constitute one-tenth of the U.S. religious landscape); others stay because they have found a worshiping community that meets their spiritual needs (usually on a college or university campus, where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach).

But I have not given up hope -- nor should you, my readers. The nuns (including LCWR) will eventually be vindicated, a new pope will be elected who the electors think is only a seat-warmer (just as they once regarded John XXIII), and the pendulum will swing the other way. It always has.

Some of us will never see the change, like the saintly Moses, but it will come. As John XXIII insisted, history is the great teacher of life. And history has much to teach us.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

McAleese reveals she is often mistaken for a nun in Rome

Sarah MacDonald
Catholic Ireland news
Oct. 23, 2012

Former president of Ireland, Mary McAleese, has said she is often mistaken for a nun at the university where she is studying canon law in Rome.

At the official launch of her new book, Quo Vadis? Collegiality in the Code of Canon Law, the former head of state recounted how clerics at the Gregorian University regularly take her for a nun or a consecrated virgin.

....... Mrs McAleese said no amount of flashing her engagement and wedding rings seemed to make any difference because lay people at the university are so few.

The presence of the laity would be one of the great changes for the future of the Church she said.

The total population of the Church globally was 1.6 billion of whom 99.9 per cent are lay people, Mrs McAleese noted.


“The Church isn’t quite sure how to handle us yet because, of course, for most of the 2,000 years they haven’t had to deal with an educated laity. ....

"This is one of the major difficulties of adjustment for this Church today, an educated laity living in democracies where they have freedom of speech, freedom of conscience and in the public space, access to every kind of science, every kind of analysis in order to bring all of that to bear on the opinions that they form.” She said this is, “a big challenge” for the institutional Church and it is a challenge that post-dates Vatican II because even at Vatican II there was not a mass-educated laity.


Expressing her gratitude once again to Sr Elizabeth Cotter, IBVM, who was unable to attend the launch and was represented by Sr Jane Carey, IBVM, from Portglenone, Co Antrim, “a good Northern woman”, Mrs McAleese said, the former head of state then added that having obtained a Masters in Canon Law under Sr Cotter’s supervision, she was able to undertake a licentiate in Canon Law in the Gregorian in Rome and having obtained that, she was now undertaking a doctorate.

Elsewhere in her address, Mary McAleese paid tribute to the Irish Church’s five silenced priests, of whom Frs Sean Fagan, Brian D’Arcy, Tony Flannery and Gerry Moloney were present for the launch.

In a strongly worded rebuke to the institutional Church for its treatment of the five, Mrs McAleese said they are, “living with such grief.”

She described Marist Sean Fagan and Redemptorist Tony Flannery as, “good men who have loved this Church with a passion,” and who are living through a time when they are being asked were they “real Catholics.”

“Are we living with Christ if we are obliged to live in silence, in a silence which consumes the truth,” she asked, and she accused the Vatican of succumbing to fear in its handling of these priests.

“There is a fear at the centre of how they can cope with these voices. One of the ways in which it was dealt with is to iterate the demand for obedience,” she said, and added that this demand for obedience has contributed to the clerical abuse scandals.

“It was translated into a really really dangerous silence where children suffered abominably. It may also have contributed to the terminal decline of the Church. It, certainly made the Church very very ill,” she acknowledged.

Referring to the title of her book, which asks the Church where it is headed, she said the faithful are now being asked today whether they want to stand and make a fight against this or to disappear out the door and no longer appear in the pews.


One of the, “most wonderful moments in the wake of Vatican II,” she recalled was when Pope Paul VI took off his episcopal ring and handed it to the then Archbishop of Canterbury, Michael Ramsey. The gesture said the Pope accepted not just his priesthood but accepted him as a bishop.

“I remember thinking that in the country that I lived in and in the city that I lived in where religious division was so brutal and so violent and contemptuous, that here was our hope; here was our future.”

Read entire article at Catholic Ireland News

Fr Brian D'Arcy:' I felt like giving it all up when the church tried to gag me

Sean MacDonald
Irish Independent
Oct. 26, 2012

THE well-known broadcaster and priest Fr Brian D'Arcy contemplated leaving the priesthood following his censure by a Catholic Church watchdog, a new BBC documentary reveals.

The documentary, titled 'The Turbulent Priest', which is due to be screened by BBC NI on Monday evening, provides an insight into the high-profile cleric's dilemma as he confronts his censure by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith and grapples with some of its thorny issues such as its teachings on clerical celibacy.

He also openly discusses his personal experience of clerical abuse as a young seminarian.

Last April it emerged that the Passionist priest had been censured by the the Catholic Church's doctrinal watchdog, the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith in Rome, which was angered by his criticism of the church's mishandling of clerical sexual abuse and his views on celibacy for priests, its teachings on contraception and homosexuality.

Read the full article at the Irish Independent

Friday, October 26, 2012

Different perspectives of Austrian bishops and priests

The perspective from the church hierarchy is often quite different from that of the church on the ground. For example, consider the respective takes on the ongoing call for reform by the "priests' initiative" in Austria from the Austrian bishops and the priests themselves.

First, we hear from the bishops
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt
Oct. 26, 2012

VIENNA AUSTRIA In a 15-page pastoral letter, which Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna admitted was the "outcome of intensive dialogue with Rome," the Austrian bishops insist that renewal of faith in full communion with the pope and the church's magisterium, and with special emphasis on church unity, is the only way out of the stalemate between the bishops and the Austrian Priests' Initiative, which demands far-reaching structural church reforms.

The pastoral letter, titled Jahr des Glaubens or "Year of Faith," has a special chapter on the ongoing deadlock in the Austrian church since the Austrian Priests' Initiative, which has more than 400 members, published its "Appeal to Disobedience" in June 2011. The initiative, which has the support of a large number of Austrian lay Catholics, calls for radical church reforms, including the ordination of married men and women.


According to Schönborn, after intensive talks with Vatican authorities, the Austrian bishops had agreed to use the Year of Faith to state their "position on the controversial issues under discussion in Austria with absolute clarity.

" "And that is what we have done at Rome's request -- but also from our own, personal conviction," Schönborn said at the news conference.

The chapter in the bishops' pastoral letter titled "Reform Backlog?" begins:

We do not want to conceal what we are repeatedly being told in private and in public, namely that there is widespread dissatisfaction with the church situation and particularly with "church leadership," that is, with us bishops and with Rome. Behind this dissatisfaction, there is usually deep concern about a way forward for the church and about its future. Pope Benedict XVI showed how well-informed he was about these concerns in his impressive sermon at the chrism Mass on Maundy Thursday [April 5], in which he went into the "Appeal to Disobedience" by a group of priests in Austria. Many people in our country are under the impression that "no progress is being made," that "we're not moving forward" and so the catchphrase "reform backlog" has established itself. On the other hand, we bishops have been saying quite clearly for more than a year now that an "Appeal to Disobedience" cannot be left uncontradicted. Does this mean that we will now remain in a sort of "no-win situation for everyone involved," in which we continue to goad one another with more and more accusations? We see the Year of Faith as a chance being offered us by the Lord to find a way out of apparent or real deadlocks together.

The bishops go on to say that they share the concerns behind certain demands for reform. "Many Catholics are above all worried about the shortage of priests. In some parts of our country this is being felt more and more acutely. More and more people, whether they belong to the church or not, find it difficult to understand why the conditions for priestly ordination cannot be changed in such an emergency and why 'proven married men' (viri probati) cannot be ordained. They think that we bishops should put pressure on Rome to reform the present stipulations. What most people overlook, however, is that the Second Vatican Council decided in favor of retaining mandatory priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic church and that all the episcopal synods since the council have confirmed this. Should this not be seen as a sign from the Holy Spirit?"


"We remain in dialogue but some demands can only be made at the expense of church unity and that cannot be our [the bishops'] aim," he said.

The Austrian bishops did not think that their differences with the Priests' Initiative would lead to a schism, Schönborn said. He suggested that all those involved should take a "step back" (he used the English words) and take a critical look at the deadlock with the aim of finding out what they had in common.

In his archdiocese, Schönborn said, he would continue the policy of not appointing to leadership posts priests who had signed the appeal. One cannot represent the bishop and at the same time support an appeal against the bishop, Schönborn said.


Full article at National Catholic Reporter

And how do the Austrian priests assess the situation? (as reported by an Irish priest)

Fr. Seán McDonagh, SSC

Oct. 25, 2012

I arrived in Vienna on October 19th 2012 to attend the Annual General Meeting of PFARRER –Initiative (parish priests initiative) I met Fr. Helmüt Schueller, one of the leaders of the Initiative at midday and we proceeded to St. Stephen’s Cathedral in the centre of the city. Over coffee Helmüt told me how the Initiative began in 2006. It arose because many priests felt that the Austrian Bishops and the Holy See are not addressing the serious crises which are affecting the Catholic Church right across the globe, but particularly in Austria. Furthermore, Helmüt argues that the Catholic Church shows little respect for the dignity of the baptized and refuses to allow priests and lay people to have any genuine involvement in the decision making processes of the Catholic Church.

In 2008, a number of priests associated with the movement went to Rome. They met with officials at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). One of the senior officials agreed that none of the positions taken by the movement were heretical. However, a younger official declared that almost everything the movement was looking for was heretical.

Membership of the Initiative is open to all priests, including those who have left active ministry. The number of members now stands at around 500 priests out of a total of 3,000 priests in Austria. As we sipped coffee, Helmüt told me that research conducted by Professor Paul Zulehner shows that more than 75 percent of the priests in Austria actually support the aims of the Initiative. They are often afraid to join, as it may affect their career paths in the Church. It seems that anyone associated with the Initiative will not be nominated as a dean in any of the Austrian dioceses


The Initiative has had little contact with the Austrian bishops during the past year. The leadership believes that the Austrian Bishops are afraid of Rome: They are prepared to take orders from Rome, rather than listen to the pastoral needs of the people.


Talking to priests during the coffee break, I got the distinct feeling that the priests did not believe that the Austrian bishops had any serious plans to meet the pastoral needs of the people, as the number of priests diminishes, through death or retirement. The only initiative which the Bishops are promoting is the clustering of parishes, and both priests and laity are against this.

A number of priests said that members of the Initiative should think long and hard about joining in ‘dialogues’ with bishops and deans when they know that changes are not going to happen. By joining in such dialogues priests are lending their support to ecclesial structures which are not in line with the thinking of Vatican II. As one priest was speaking on this issue, I was reminded of the participation of ACP members with the Visitors which were sent from Rome in 2011. Members of the ACP put a lot of effort into preparing for the various meetings with the visitors. None of this was reflected in the summary of the final document which came from Rome.

At the open forum, a number of priests said that they believe that the bishops, like Lot’s wife, are continually looking over their shoulders at what Rome wants rather than acting as genuine pastors whose primary obligation is to ensure that there are ministers in the Church who will continue to celebrate the Eucharist and other sacraments. Many criticized the present way of choosing bishops. Catholics, priests and lay people, should have a role in choosing bishops.

A number repeated the phrase – act, don’t ask! Others spoke of the importance of modeling the view of Church which the Initiative espouses in the parishes where members are serving. Others bemoaned the fact that ecumenism seems to have been relegated to the back burner.

The Initiative encourages priests and people to speak out courageously about the present dysfunctional structures in the Catholic Church. A lot of the participants emphasized the need for courage and solidarity.


Full article at the Association of Catholic Priests

Catholic state senator in ND challenges bishop on election letter

Maureen Fiedler
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 25, 2012

North Dakota is considered a “red” state — politically speaking. But this year, the Democrats have put up a challenger with a real chance to win a U.S. Senate seat, Heidi Heitkamp, a former state attorney general. She is running against Republican Rick Berg. That was evidently too much for the Bishop of Bismarck, David Kagan. He has published a letter that he wants read at all Masses this weekend, which — without mentioning names – effectively endorses Berg over Heitkamp.

As you might expect, Bp. Kagan zeroes in on social issues, with no mention of poverty, economic justice, immigration, peace in the world or human rights. He maintains that “A properly formed Catholic conscience will never contradict the Church’s teachings in matters of faith and morals.” Really? A conscience is an ecclesial tape recorder?

And just so no one misses his point, he lists some actions which he believes “are never acceptable and should not be made so by law, they include: abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and not recognizing the unique and special role of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”

Ironically, the Web information on Heidi Heidkamp says she has no public position on abortion, and believes that same sex marriage is an issue for the states.

Now, a courageous Catholic state senator, Tim Mathern of Fargo, has rebutted Bishop Kagan publicly and called on him to withdraw his letter.

Mathern tried for a private conversation with the bishop before issuing a public media advisory, but he says, “Yesterday, I was informed by Bishop Kagan’s staff that Bishop Kagan would not be returning my call.” So much for civility.

In his press advisory, Mathern corrects the bishop’s erroneous teaching on conscience: “A Catholic owes a duty to listen thoughtfully to the Bishop, but if in ‘good conscience’ he or she cannot give assent, the Catholic must be free to follow his or her own conscience, which is the true moral responsibility.” The conscience of a good and thoughtful Catholic, in other words, might or might not square with official teaching.

Mathern also notes that Bishop Kagan’s urges voters not to vote for the more “likeable” candidate. This is just short of using candidates’ names. Media in the state have consistently called Heitkamp the more “likeable.” Mathern says, “The National Republican Senatorial Committee is currently running an ad that says: “North Dakotans think they like Heidi Heitkamp. … You might like Heidi...”

This thinly veiled episcopal electioneering comes close to violating the tax exempt status of the Diocese of Bismarck. But most of all, it is flatly unacceptable for a bishop to be giving voting instructions to his flock. Bishop Kagan should withdraw his letter and certainly not have it read from pulpits next Sunday.

Full article along with Bishop Kagan's letter and Senator Mathern's statement at National Catholic Reporter

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Do contemporary US Bishops agree with the Know Nothings?

It is interesting to consider the implications of the bishops' present attempts to influence the American political process in light of the history of the acceptance and/or opposition to Catholic political participation in American life.

Mid 19th Century - The Know-Nothing party

The Know Nothing was a movement by the nativist American political faction of the 1850s, characterized by political xenophobia, anti-Catholic sentiment, and occasional bouts of violence against the groups the nativists targeted. It was empowered by popular fears that the country was being overwhelmed by German and Irish Catholic immigrants, who were often regarded as hostile to republican values and controlled by the Pope in Rome.

Although Catholics asserted that they were politically independent of priests, Protestants alleged that Pope Pius IX had put down the failed liberal Revolutions of 1848 and that he was an opponent of liberty, democracy and Republicanism. One Boston minister described Catholicism as "the ally of tyranny, the opponent of material prosperity, the foe of thrift, the enemy of the railroad, the caucus, and the school."[5][6] These fears encouraged conspiracy theories regarding the Pope's purported plans to subjugate the United States through a continuing influx of Catholics controlled by Irish bishops obedient to and personally selected by the Pope.


Mid 20th Century - 1960 election

A key factor that affected the vote for and against John F. Kennedy in his 1960 campaign for the presidency of the United States was his Catholic religion. Catholics mobilized and gave Kennedy from 75 to 80 percent of their votes.[40] Some Protestant spokesmen, such as Norman Vincent Peale, still feared the Pope would be giving orders to a Kennedy White House.[41] To allay such fears, Kennedy kept his distance from church officials and in a highly publicized confrontation told the Protestant ministers of the Greater Houston Ministerial Association on September 12, 1960, "I am not the Catholic candidate for President. I am the Democratic Party's candidate for President who also happens to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my Church on public matters – and the Church does not speak for me."[42] He promised to respect the separation of church and state and not to allow Church officials to dictate public policy to him.


21st Century - 2012 election

While the bishops have said they aren't telling anyone for whom to vote, some seemingly have given Catholics few, if any, options./br>
Citing the Democratic Party platform plank supporting "safe and legal" abortion, Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Ill., told Catholics in his diocese that their salvation was in "serious jeopardy" should they vote for that plank./br>

Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., warned Catholics that disagreement with the church's official teaching on same-sex marriage "seriously harm[s] their communion with Christ and His Church."/br>
"I urge those not in communion with the Church regarding her teaching on marriage and family ... sincerely to re-examine their consciences," Myers wrote in a 16-page pastoral statement Sept. 25. "If they continue to be unable to assent to or live the Church's teaching in these matters, they must in all honesty and humility refrain from receiving Holy Communion until they can do so with integrity."/br>
(National Catholic Reporter)


The issue of abortion, (Philadelphia) Archbishop Chaput says, “really is a big issue today.” And the issue “requires of Catholics” a “loyalty to the Church prior to their political party,” he says.

“We are Catholics before we are Democrat, we are Catholics before we are Republican, we are even Catholics before we are Americans,” Archbishop Chaput emphasizes, “because we know that God has a demand on us prior to any government demand on us.”

(see National Review)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

SSPX expels Bishop Williamson

Ed West
Catholic Herald (UK)
Oct. 24, 2012

The Society of St Pius X has confirmed that it has expelled the English Bishop Richard Williamson.

Bishop Williamson, 72, one of four men illicitly ordained in 1988 by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in Écône, Switzerland, has been a controversial figure, particularly for his views on Jews, who he has called the “enemies of Christ”.

In a statement the society said: “Bishop Richard Williamson, having distanced himself from the management and the government of the SSPX for several years, and refusing to show due respect and obedience to his lawful superiors, was declared excluded from the SSPX by decision of the superior general and its council on October 4 2012. A final deadline had been granted to him to declare his submission, after which he announced the publication of an ‘open letter’ asking the superior general to resign.

“This painful decision has become necessary by concern for the common good of the Society of Saint Pius X and its good government, according to what Archbishop Lefebvre denounced: ‘This is the destruction of authority. How authority can be exercised if it needs to ask all members to participate in the exercise of authority?’”

Bishop Williamson, who was educated at Winchester, has denied that millions of Jews died in Nazi gas chambers and believes the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to be authentic.

A television interview in which Bishop Williamson denied the Holocaust was broadcast in January 2009 on the same day that Pope Benedict XVI lifted the automatic excommunications of the four bishops, causing the Vatican embarrassment. Bishop Williamson apologised to the Pope but did not retract the statement.

Superior general Bishop Bernard Fellay subsequently banned Bishop Williamson from speaking in public.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Majority of Catholics say church should emphasize social justice, the poor

Tom Roberts
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 22, 2012

Catholics overwhelmingly say the church should emphasize social justice and the poor in its pronouncements on public policy, even if it means focusing less on abortion, according to a new study conducted by the Public Religion Research Institute. The data were contained in "The 2012 American Values Survey: How Catholics and the Religiously Unaffiliated Will Shape the 2012 Election and Beyond," which also found that the outcome of the presidential election "will be determined, in part, by which Catholics head to the polls and how many of America's fastest growing religious community, the religiously unaffiliated, are motivated to vote."

The survey of 3,000 Americans was done prior to the presidential debates and has a margin of error of plus or minus 2 percentage points. This year's version of the annual survey confirms an ongoing shift away from organized religion, especially among the young, creating what the report describes as "a religious marketplace" that is "marked by significant volatility." A recent survey of the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life found that one in five adult Americans now claim no religious affiliation and that for the first time, the United States is no longer a majority Protestant country.

By a two-to-one margin, 60 percent to 31 percent, Catholics would prefer bishops to focus on social justice issues even if it means less emphasis on abortion. While that view is held strongly by Catholics who attend church only occasionally, "the most striking finding, and one that may surprise many leaders in the church, is that Catholics who attend church once a week or more also express a strong preference for an emphasis on social justice over abortion," the report states.

In that latter group, 51 percent said the church should focus more on social justice in its pronouncements, while 36 percent said it should focus on abortion and the right to life.

This issue is broken down further in the report's conclusion, an explanatory essay by E.J. Dionne and William A. Galston, both of the Brookings Institute. They write that liberal Catholics thought the church should focus on social justice by 70 percent to 25 percent and moderate Catholics held the same view by a 68 percent to 23 percent margin.

Even among conservative Catholics, Dionne and Glaston write, the view narrowly prevailed, with 46 percent saying social justice should be emphasized and 44 percent saying the focus should be on abortion.

Full article at National Catholic Reporter

Monday, October 22, 2012

For the future of new evangelization, look to Ukraine

John L. Allen, Jr
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 22, 2012

Back in 1974, music writer John Landau achieved immortality after attending a set in the Harvard Square Theatre by a then-obscure act out of New Jersey, and declaring: "I have seen the future of rock and roll, and its name is Bruce Springsteen." In a similar vein, let me say here and now: "I have seen the future of the new evangelization, and its name is the Ukrainian Catholic University."

If the place eventually becomes known as "the Boss" of Catholic evangelism, remember you heard it here first.

Located in Lviv in western Ukraine, the university is part of the revival of the Greek Catholic Church after the fall of the Soviet empire, when it was the largest illegal religious body in the world. The biggest of the 22 Eastern churches in communion with Rome, it has more than 3 million followers in Ukraine and around 5.5 million worldwide.

Re-established in 1994, with an enrollment today around 1,600, this is the only Catholic university in the former Soviet sphere; as they like to say, it's the only Catholic university "between Poland and Japan."

Its bold aim is nothing less than to "rethink" what a Catholic university can be in the 21st century.


two challenges:

Building on the legacy of the Ukrainian martyrs during the period of Soviet oppression, when the Greek Catholic Church was the most important source of social opposition. No country produced more martyrs in the 20th century, and the university's aim, Gudziak said, is to pioneer "a new social, intellectual, and theological synthesis" of that experience – a theology, so to speak, born of the catacombs.

Repairing a deficit of social trust, Gudziak said, because "the Ukrainian soul and psyche have been profoundly marked" by the Soviet period, in which "the system killed systematically." In that milieu, he said, Ukrainians were taught from early childhood "to think one thing, say another and do a third," and so they learned to wear masks, to hide themselves, and never to trust anyone else.

The response has been as acute as the diagnosis.

With regard to the martyrs, Gudziak believes a theological synthesis of their suffering will have less to do with doctrinal theory than an "ecclesiastical style," which he describes in terms of "humility" and "being close to the people."

"When times are difficult, you're stripped down and forced to look at the essentials," he said. "You fall back on the basic Christian experiences of being together, supporting one another, praying together and being community ... overcoming the negation of the Gospel without any pretense or imposition."


"Our relationship of clergy to laity is also conditioned by the fact that our priests are married to lay women, and they have lay children at home," he said.

This combination of factors, Gudziak suggested, allows the university to be a place where a church that prizes humility, closeness to the people, and taking the lay role seriously becomes self-reflective.

As for the trust deficit, the response has been even more innovative. To help people learn to take off their masks, the university turned to the insights of Henri Nouwen, Jean Vanier, and the L'Arche movement, inviting mentally handicapped people to become part of their community. (Gudziak studied under Nouwen at Harvard.)

At the Ukrainian Catholic University, the mentally handicapped actually serve as "professors of human relations."

"This is not some kind of handout," Gudziak insists. "We need the gifts they have. They don't care if you're a rector, a doctor, or how rich you are. What they force us to confront is the most important pedagogical question of all: Can you love me?"


In the context of present-day Ukraine, however, this place is nothing short of a miracle.


People looking for information about the university can find it here: Catholic University Ukraine


Frankly, the rest of us in that global community have solid reasons to rejoice at what's happening in Lviv.

One in 20 priests an abuser, inquiry told

Barney Zwartz
The Age (Australia)
Oct. 22, 2012

AT LEAST one in 20 Catholic priests in Melbourne is a child sex abuser, although the real figure is probably one in 15, the state inquiry into the churches' handling of sex abuse was told this afternoon.

RMIT professor Des Cahill said his figures, based on analysing conviction rates of priests ordained from Melbourne's Corpus Christi College, closely matched a much larger American analysis of 105,000 priests which found that 4362 were child sex offenders.

The intercultural studies professor also told the inquiry that the Catholic Church was incapable of reforming itself because of its internal culture. He said the Church's Melbourne Response abuse protocol had to go, and the state would have to intervene to achieve it.

In other key testimony, Professor Cahill:

Called for married priests, as are being allowed now in the Anglican ordinariate within the Catholic Church, as a "circuit-breaker" that would reduce child sex abuse. The state should remove the Equal Opportunity Act exemption letting the church discriminate on grounds of marital status, he said.

Described the Church as "a holy and unholy mess, except where religious sisters or laypeople are in charge, for example schools and welfare agencies".

Called for an "eminent Catholic task force" of lay people to work with the Church on reform and transparency.

Said other religions were not immune from child sex abuse, including credible anecdotal evidence of two incidents within Melbourne's Hindu community where the offending monks were "shipped back to the home country".


He suggested that, though the Church tried to "fudge the figures" by including other church workers, Catholic priests offended at a much higher rate than other men. If the general male population now over 65 offended at the same rate, there would be 65,614 men living in Australia who had been convicted of child sex abuse — very far from the case.

Professor Cahill said the Church's "culture of caste clericalism" and its pyramid structure rendered it incapable of the systemic reform needed. The organisational culture was "verging on the pathological".

"Bishops are caught between canon law and civil law, and Rome has put a lot of pressure on bishops to make sure canon law and the rights of priests are being observed, but canon law has nothing to say about the rights of child victims," he said.

The Melbourne Response — the internal protocol used by the Melbourne archdiocese — was designed to protect the image and reputation of the church and to contain financial liability, and had to be changed. "The church is incapable of reform, so the state will have to do it," he said.

He suggested a new structure involving the Office of the Child Safety Commissioner and a new "eminent Catholics task force", appointed by the Government, to work with Church leadership. Possible candidates included former Supreme Court judge Frank Vincent, La Trobe professor Joseph Camilleri, former Geelong mayer Frank Costa, former deputy Prime Minister Tim Fischer, Mrs Diana Grollo, state chief health officer Rosemary Lester, retired Ballarat bishop Peter Connors, retired Melbourne priest Eric Hodgens and Australian Catholic University professor Gabrielle McMullin.

Professor Cahill said child sex abuse had existed in all ages, cultures and religions, shrouded in secrecy and poorly responded to by religious authorities. He said a church council in 309 AD was concerned about child sex abuse in monasteries.

Full article at the Age Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/one-in-20-priests-an-abuser-inquiry-told-20121022-2816q.html#ixzz2A2NKXgyc

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Pope names seven new saints

Associated Press
Oct. 21, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI added seven more saints onto the roster of Catholic role models on Sunday, saying their example would strengthen the church it tries to rekindle the faith in places where it's lagging. Two of them were Americans: Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint from the U.S. and Mother Marianne Cope, a 19th century Franciscan nun who cared for leprosy patients in Hawaii.

Native Americans in beaded and feathered headdresses and leather-fringed tunics sang songs to Kateri as the sun rose over St. Peter's Square ahead of the Mass. Also taking part was Sharon Smith, whose cure from complications from pancreatitis was deemed a "miracle" by the Vatican, paving the way for Mother Marianne to be canonized.

In his homily, Benedict praised each of the seven new saints as examples for the entire church, calling Cope a "shining" example for Catholics and Kateri an inspiration to indigenous faithful across North America.


One of the new saints was Pedro Calungsod, a Filipino teenager who helped Jesuit priests convert natives in Guam in the 17th century but was killed by spear-wielding villagers opposed to the missionaries' efforts to baptize their children. Rome's sizeable Filipino expat community came out in droves for the Mass, including Marianna Dieza, a 39-year-old housekeeper who said it was a day of pride for all Filipinos. "We are especially proud because he is so young," she said.

The two American saints actually hail from roughly the same place -- what is today upstate New York -- although they lived two centuries apart.

Known as the "Lily of the Mohawks," Kateri was born in 1656 to a pagan Iroquois father and an Algonquin Christian mother. Her parents and only brother died when she was 4 during a smallpox epidemic that left her badly scarred and with impaired eyesight. She went to live with her uncle, a Mohawk, and was baptized Catholic by Jesuit missionaries. But she was ostracized and persecuted by other natives for her faith, and she died in what is now Canada when she was 24. ..........

Cope is revered among many Catholics in Hawaii, where she arrived from New York in 1883 to care for leprosy patients on Kalaupapa, an isolated peninsula on Molokai Island where Hawaii governments forcibly exiled them for decades. At the time, there was widespread fear of the disfiguring disease, which can cause skin lesions, mangled fingers and toes and lead to blindness.

Cope, however, led a band of Franciscan nuns to the peninsula to care for the patients, just as Saint Damien, a Belgian priest, did in 1873. He died of the disease 16 years later and was canonized in 2009.

"At a time when little could be done for those suffering from this terrible disease, Marianne Cope showed the highest love, courage and enthusiasm," Benedict said in his homily. "She is a shining and energetic example of the best of the tradition of Catholic nursing sisters and of the spirit of her beloved St. Francis."


The Vatican's complicated saint-making procedure requires that the Vatican certify a "miracle" was performed through the intercession of the candidate -- a medically inexplicable cure that can be directly linked to the prayers offered by the faithful. One miracle is needed for beatification, a second for canonization.

The other new saints are: Jacques Berthieu, a 19th century French Jesuit who was killed by rebels in Madagascar, where he had worked as a missionary; Giovanni Battista Piamarta, an Italian who founded a religious order in 1900 and established a Catholic printing and publishing house in his native Brescia; Carmen Salles Y Barangueras, a Spanish nun who founded a religious order to educate children in 1892; and Anna Schaeffer, a 19th century German lay woman who became a model for the sick and suffering after she fell into a boiler and badly burned her legs. The wounds never healed, causing her constant pain.

Read more at seven new saints

Friday, October 19, 2012

Victoria police slam Catholic church over child abuse

Pia Akerman
The Australian
October 19, 2012

VICTORIA'S deputy police commissioner has accused the Catholic Church of impeding criminal investigation of child sex offences through its lack of cooperation with police.

In the first day of a parliamentary inquiry into how religious organisations have handled child sexual abuse allegations, Victoria Police deputy commission Graham Ashton resumed his scathing assessment of the church's internal processes which he said were hampering prosecutions.

"Victoria Police has concerns that existing protocols within religious organisations are focused on church issues such as legal liability and public relations rather than the long term interests of victims," he told the inquiry before a packed public gallery this morning.

Mr Ashton said the church had repeatedly dismissed allegations of abuse by already dead offenders, which was "an absolute nonsense" and stopped police from knowing the full picture.


Mr Ashton said the existing processes within the Catholic church for dealing with abuse lacked transparency, independence and oversight.

He revealed police had for the first time compiled statistics on child sex abuse involving religious organisations, using data from 1956 to June this year.

In that period there were 2110 offences recorded by members of religious organisations against 519 individual victims, 370 of whom were in the Catholic church system.

Nearly 90 per cent of the victims were 11 or 12 year old boys at the time of the abuse.


See the Australian

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Laugh line on liturgical translation

John L. Allen, Jr.
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 16, 2012

Let's face it: a Synod of Bishops, when some 300 prelates and other participants meet for three weeks to advise the pope on some topic, isn't exactly a laugh riot. During the opening phase, one five-minute speech after another is presented, some of it lofty theological rhetoric and some of it heartfelt cris de coeur about specific situations. Little of it, however, is really calculated to tickle ribs.

That made today's presentation by Archbishop Ignatius Suharyo Hardjoatmodjo of Jakarta, Indonesia, especially memorable, because he drew what one participant later described as "heartfelt laughter" while talking about a matter typically seen as especially ill-suited to comedic effect -- liturgical translation.

Suharyo's basic argument was about the need for flexibility in translation based on cultural differences. He then offered an especially telling case in point from his own neighborhood.

"When the priest addresses the people, 'Dominus vobiscum', the people are to reply, 'Et cum spiritu tuo'," he said. (In English, that's "the Lord be with you," followed by "and with your spirit" in the new translation.) Yet, Suharyo said, the word "spirit" as translated into his local language comes out as "roh," which often connotes an evil spirit.

Thus his punch line: A literal translation of " 'et cum spiritu tuo' means some communities find themselves saying, 'With your evil spirit!' "

Suharyo, 62, went on to make a strong plea for greater "subsidiarity", meaning allowing local churches to make some of these calls for themselves.

"My wish -- I hope that I am not alone -- is that the translation of liturgical texts ought not always to be done literally, rather seriously take into account the diversity of the cultural background," he said. "Could the principle of subsidiarity be applied in the task of translation and even in other areas of the life of the local church?"

Subsidiarity, Suharyo said, is "the spirit of Vatican II."

"In this way, the local church will become more communicative and expressive," he said, "and as a result the faith of the people will be more energized and more relevant to their Catholic lives and engagement both in the Church and in the world."

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Brendan Hoban's talk at Assembly of Catholic Priests (Ireland)

My name is Brendan Hoban. I'm 64 years of age. I'm a priest of Killala diocese. I'm almost 40 years ordained.

Over two years ago I was part of a small group of priests who founded the Association of Catholic Priests.

We did that to give priests a voice, to provide a platform for responding to a church in crisis; because authority is collapsing, vocations are in free-fall, practice is declining, the average age-level of priests is now 64;
and we felt in desperation that someone had to do something.

In less than 2 years we had 1000 members so we knew we were on the right track. What we wanted was to start a conversation about what was happening to our Church; about what needed to be done; and, in these strange' and difficult times, to attempt to plot a track into the future.

We realised quickly that we shouldn't and couldn't do this on our own, that many lay people ¬ forgive the use of that disrespectful term ¬we realised that many lay people felt as strongly as we did about it,
that the reforms envisaged by the Second Vatican Council had been modified, resisted, rejected by popes, bishops, priests and sometimes people too.

One thing was very clear to us – that unless structures were put in place to give the Spirit of that Great Council substance, that our task was hopeless.

So we attempted a first step towards an Assembly of the Irish Catholic Church, what should have been happening in our Church years ago,
and more than 1000 people participated in a wonderful day in the Regency Hotel in Dublin . . .
As a result we were confirmed again that we were on the right track,
that God¹s Spirit was guiding us . . .

Last Saturday in Galway, 430 people gathered for another Assembly 
and it was another great day . . .

and again here in Cork it's wonderful to see so many people gathered here .
. .

I have no doubt but that God is with us, that God wants his priests and his people to come together and to save the Church that we love . . .
We are doing no more than our duty.

Last Saturday in Galway Denis Crosby talked about the demon of fear that stalks our Church. He mentioned Orlando Figes’ book, The Whisperers, Private Life in Stalin¹s Russia, where speaking out against the official wisdom was so dangerous that people had to whisper their criticisms.

We¹re the Whisperers now but we have to do more than whisper, we have to find our voice, to stake a claim for the right and the responsibility
to speak our truth about the Church we love.

There are those, we know, who for different reasons would like to pretend that we¹re left-wing, radical, raving extremists, that we¹re trouble-makers and dissenters, that we¹re out to destroy the Church.

Well, let me put the record straight.
The ACP does not seek to overturn the defined teaching of the Catholic Church. I say the Creed at Mass every Sunday; I¹m proud to say it; and I believe every last word of it.

We mustn't confuse what's church teaching and what some people are saying is church teaching; we mustn't confuse teaching and governance; we mustn't confuse dogma and discipline; we mustn't confuse what can be changed and what can't. The ACP is not a threat to the unity of the Church. We cherish and we value and we wish to further the unity of all our people – unity among lay Catholics,
and with our fellow clergy, with Religious, with our bishops, with the Papal Nuncio, and with the Successor of Peter.


The ACP wants debate and discussion and dialogue because we profoundly believe that, in the present critical context, it is irresponsible not to debate and to discussion and to dialogue.
So we say to our leaders and to every Catholic in Ireland:
don't say to us that we¹re against church teaching when we cherish it.

Don¹t tell us that we¹re damaging Communion when we¹re working for it.

Don't tell us that we can only reflect on our experience, if we keep silent.

Don¹t tell us that we can¹t discuss the problems of our Church because we have a right and duty to do just that.

Don¹t pretend that silencing us will make the issues go away ¬ it won¹t.

Don¹t talk down to us to us as if we don¹t matter.

Don¹t refuse to meet with us because we¹re not going away.

Don¹t pretend that freedom of conscience and the dignity of every baptised person are strange concepts that we can pull conveniently out of the air to suit ourselves.

Above all, don't ask us to walk away.
It's our Church too.
We are not dissidents and it is insulting to depict us in that light.
We¹re at the heart of our Church.
We want to remain at the heart of our Church.
But we know that our Church is in deep crisis.
We know we need to talk.
We know we need to listen.
That¹s not just our right as baptised Catholics. It is our duty and, in present circumstances, it is our supreme responsibility.

At a time when our Church has lost so much credibility in so many areas, we need the pastoral and intellectual credibility of a robust debate in the Irish Church and the much-needed confidence that will bring.


Full talk at the Assembly of Catholic Priests

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Scandal hit Cardinal Brady to go as new cardinal lined up

Gary O'Sullivan
 Irish Independent
 Oct. 13, 2012

 THE VATICAN is set to make Cardinal Sean Brady pay the price of the recent scandals surrounding him by announcing his successor within two months.

 The Vatican and the Papal Nuncio, Dr Charles Brown, are advancing plans to replace Dr Brady as Primate of All Ireland.

 It's all part of an effort to finally put two decades of scandal behind the church here.

 Senior Vatican sources said his successor -- most likely to be a bishop from abroad -- will be named before Christmas.

 Dr Brady has up to now refused to resign despite the revelations about his mishandling of abuse allegations about the notorious Fr Brendan Smyth.

 It is understood Archbishop of Dublin, Dr Diarmuid Martin, and most of the current Irish Catholic hierarchy do not figure in the succession stakes. Instead, the Vatican is shortlisting Irish clerics based outside the country.

 Dr Brady has been mired in controversy, unable to shake the Smyth scandal since it ignited two years ago. He has faced repeated calls for his resignation after it emerged that he had been aware of abuse by Smyth in the 1970s, but did not inform the police or the abused children's parents.

Complete article at the Irish Independent

US Bishops Respond To Inaccurate Statement Of Fact On HHS Mandate Made During Vice Presidential Debate

October 12, 2012

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement, October 12. Full text follows:

Last night, the following statement was made during the Vice Presidential debate regarding the decision of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to force virtually all employers to include sterilization and contraception, including drugs that may cause abortion, in the health insurance coverage they provide their employees:

"With regard to the assault on the Catholic Church, let me make it absolutely clear. No religious institution—Catholic or otherwise, including Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital—none has to either refer contraception, none has to pay for contraception, none has to be a vehicle to get contraception in any insurance policy they provide. That is a fact. That is a fact."

This is not a fact. The HHS mandate contains a narrow, four-part exemption for certain "religious employers." That exemption was made final in February and does not extend to "Catholic social services, Georgetown hospital, Mercy hospital, any hospital," or any other religious charity that offers its services to all, regardless of the faith of those served.

HHS has proposed an additional "accommodation" for religious organizations like these, which HHS itself describes as "non-exempt." That proposal does not even potentially relieve these organizations from the obligation "to pay for contraception" and "to be a vehicle to get contraception." They will have to serve as a vehicle, because they will still be forced to provide their employees with health coverage, and that coverage will still have to include sterilization, contraception, and abortifacients. They will have to pay for these things, because the premiums that the organizations (and their employees) are required to pay will still be applied, along with other funds, to cover the cost of these drugs and surgeries.

USCCB continues to urge HHS, in the strongest possible terms, actually to eliminate the various infringements on religious freedom imposed by the mandate.

For more details, please see USCCB's regulatory comments filed on May 15 regarding the proposed "accommodation": www.usccb.org/about/general-counsel/rulemaking/upload/comments-on-advance-notice-of-proposed-rulemaking-on-preventive-services-12-05-15.pdf

Friday, October 12, 2012

Church must eliminate child sex abuse and promote women : bishop

Naomi O'Leary
Oct. 12, 2012

The Roman Catholic Church must strengthen safeguards against any further sexual abuse of children by its clergy and expand the role of women in the Church, a Canadian bishop said on Friday in a speech to hundreds of his peers at a Vatican conference.

In his address to the Synod of Bishops, convened to discuss how to battle dwindling numbers of practicing Catholics in the face of growing secularization and dissent against its teachings, Bishop Brian Joseph Dunn called on the Church to "become more authentic in our contemporary world".


Dunn said church leaders must "consider the reasons why this crisis happened" and "put into place measures which will create safe environments for children and all who are vulnerable in the faith community".

Abuse scandals have been one of the greatest challenges faced by the Catholic Church, forcing it to pay hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation worldwide and undermining its status as a moral arbiter.

The head of the diocese of Antigonish in eastern Canada, Dunn called on church leaders to "appreciate the depth of hurt, anger and disillusionment associated with this scandal".

Dunn also called for "a deliberate and systematic involvement and leadership of women at all levels of Church life," but stopped short of calling for a female priesthood. The Church's opposition to women priests has proved one of its most divisive regulations.


Leading religious scholars have said that greater integration of women into Church structures could help reduce cases of abuse, which were largely perpetrated by men.


Full article at Reuters

Seattle pastor to parishoners: 'authority never supplants conscience'

Dan Morris-Young
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 11, 2012

The pastor of Seattle's St. Joseph Parish has urged his parishioners to evaluate Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain's call for defeat of a same-sex marriage referendum next month in light of the "call of conscience" and underscored that "authority never supplants conscience."

Jesuit Fr. John D. Whitney's Sept. 24 "e-blast" to parishioners specifically refers to a column by Sartain carried in the Sept. 13 archdiocesan newspaper. Whitney asked parishioners to review the narrative dispassionately and ask themselves "if this referendum refers to the same object as does the Church's understanding -- that is, is the civil marriage to which the referendum is addressed, the same as the sacramental marriage described by the column?"

In that column, Sartain wrote, "Suffice it to say, that should marriage be redefined in our state, the very foundational nature of marriage for the good and strength of human society would be harmed beyond repair." It was requested that copies of the column be carried in parish bulletins. Some parishes also have video clips of the archbishop speaking about Referendum on their websites.

If Referendum 74 is passed Nov. 6 in Washington state, the marriage equality law passed by the state legislature in February would take effect.

The state's four Catholic bishops and the Washington State Catholic Conference were high-profile supporters of securing signatures for the referendum to qualify for the ballot and have been outspoken in efforts to defeat it next month. The referendum language duplicates the earlier legislation itself. Voters may accept or reject it.

Asking Catholic voters to reject it, Sartain's recent column repeated that he and fellow bishops' opposition to same-sex marriage "is not 'against' anything, and especially not 'against' anyone."


In Whitney's commentary, titled "Conscience and Referendum 74," he said Catholics are "morally obliged to form our consciences well, through study and through practice" and that "a person acts morally only when following his or her conscience, despite the sometimes opposite calls of public pressure, self-interest, fashion or authority."

"That being said," he continued, "it may appear from the outside that Catholics are governed more by authority than by conscience. ... The role of authority in Catholic conscience formation is, indeed, complex; but, authority never supplants conscience."

The "call of conscience" is "the Catholic categorical imperative," Whitney wrote.

Whitney said Catholics "must take the teaching of the Church seriously" and "accept that those whose ministry is to lead the Church in the world are graced for that mission, just as every Christian is given the grace to live out her or his mission as a baptized person."

"But," the pastor added, "we know such grace is not a guarantee of infallibility, and -- as the story of Galileo makes clear -- the grace of the Church, interpreted through individuals, is still subject to the deeper truths planted in Creation. No matter how great the authority of the Church official, the order of Nature -- the rising of tides, the movement of the stars, the operations of DNA -- does not change by human dictate. Indeed, God's guarantee of grace, given to the Church and to those in authority, is not an answer-key for all kinds of judgments, just a promise that our failure to judge wisely will not be irredeemable."

In an email response to NCR, Whitney said, "I very much do not want to make this about a clash of the archbishop and me. To me, this is not about persons but about visions of the Church. I truly believe that the movement of the Holy Spirit among the People of God can only work if people receive the tools to responsibly decide issues of public policy and personal morality."

"I know there are people in the archdiocese ... who believe I am sowing seeds of discord and would prefer to have me out of town, but I have heard nothing of that nature from the archbishop's office," he said.

Whitney said parish feedback has been "mostly positive" on his reflection and on "all that we have done around Referendum 74."


"The other message was also from an older woman who said that the issue had driven a wedge in their family, until they read my article and found a way to talk to each other. This is why it is so important, not that people vote my way, but that people are told they can be good Catholics and discern various responses. The absence of this teaching is the greatest tragedy in the Church's current course, I think."


"Between Referendum 74 and the intervention in the (Leadership Conference of Women Religious), the Catholic community in Seattle has been severely hurt, in my experience," Whitney told NCR. "It has not just exposed polarities, but it has made people feel -- with incredible power -- how little their voices or their prayers matter in the deliberations of the Church leadership in the United States and in Rome."


Full article in National Catholic Reporter

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Tonight's vice-presidential debate: a Catholic smack down?

Barbara Miner
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Oct. 11, 2012

One thing is certain about tonight’s vice presidential debate.

A Catholic will win.

Some clever headline writers are calling the debate “A Catholic smackdown.” But far more is stake than a tussle between two candidates.

The gulf between the policies of Joe Biden and Paul Ryan reflects a divide both within this country and within the Catholic Church. Should the priority be placed on issues such as abortion and contraception, as many bishops prefer, or on demands for social justice?

On Wednesday Oct. 10, a diverse group of more than 100 theologians and academics released a sharp critique of Ryan’s budget.

The critique is titled “On All of Our Shoulders — a reference to Ryan’s favorite author, Ayn Rand, whose book “Atlas Shrugged” put forth a libertarian perspective of Atlas and his mythological task to carry the world on his shoulders. (Yes, this all gets a bit thick, but what do you expect from Catholic theologians?)

The statement is not a quick read, but the basic point is clear in the opening sentences:

We write as Catholic theologians, academics and ministers concerned for our nation and for the integrity of the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. We write to hold up aspects of the Church's social doctrine that are profoundly relevant to the challenges our nation faces at this moment in history, yet are in danger of being ignored. At a moment when the ideas of Atlas Shrugged influence public debate and policy, we write to proclaim the Catholic truth that the stewardship of common good rests upon all of our shoulders together. This is a responsibility we dare not shrug. We fulfill this obligation in myriad ways, but indispensibly among them, through the policies of our government. We highlight these principles of the Church's social doctrine in the hope that their substance will better influence our political and policy debates.

And, just to be clear. the theologians go on to state: “Our concern is that Ryan and his Catholic supporters, must be informed … that some of his positions are fundamentally at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

More at the Journal Sentinel

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New vatican ordeal for rebel priest Fr. Flannery

Garry O'Sullivan
Irish Independent
Oct. 10, 2012

A HIGH-PROFILE priest is coming under increasing scrutiny from the Vatican's theological watchdog for expressing liberal views.

Silenced Redemptorist and Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) founder Fr Tony Flannery has been contacted by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), the Irish Independent can reveal.

It emerged earlier this year that Fr Flannery was silenced by the Vatican and put under investigation for his "liberal" views on women's ordination.

This came to light only weeks after the report of the Apostolic Visitation from Rome which noted that Ireland had widespread dissent among priests, religious and lay people from the church's teaching.

Several other clerics were either silenced or received warnings from the Vatican, including Fr Brian D'Arcy.

Now Fr Flannery has received further correspondence and documents to sign from the CDF under its new head, German Bishop Gerhard Muller, who has a reputation for taking on what the Vatican see as Catholic 'dissidents'.

Fr Flannery is having difficulty signing up to some of the demands in the latest documents seeking his retraction on certain liberal views.

Some of these views include campaigning for women's ordination and married priests; a complete re-think on contraception; and a change in what is seen as harsh and insensitive language in the church's teaching on homosexuality.

Sources said the language of the letters contains the terminology of Vatican I, held in the late-1860s. One cleric said: "The church says it has good news for the 21st Century but is proceeding to operate a 16th Century mindset."

It is widely speculated in church circles that Fr Flannery has been singled out for his public support of Taoiseach Enda Kenny's post-Cloyne Report speech in which he castigated the Vatican for its "elitism, dysfunction, disconnection and narcissism". The ACP, which represents 800 of Ireland's 4,000 priests, said last April it was "disturbed" that its founder was under Vatican investigation.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Archdiocese of Vienna to undergo radical parish reform

Christa Pongratz-Lippitt
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 8, 2012

The Vienna archdiocese, which is one of the largest in Europe and extends from the Czech frontier down to the southern Alps, will undergo radical parish reforms, reducing its 660 parishes to 150 in the next 10 years.

"This is the most comprehensive reorganization of the Vienna archdiocese since that of Austrian Emperor Joseph II [1765-1790] 200 years ago," Cardinal Christoph Schönborn told journalists at a Sept. 19 media reception in the archbishop's palace in Vienna.

The main reasons for these measures were the increasing shortage of priests and the steady decline in the number of Catholics, especially of those who regularly attended Mass and were involved in their local parishes, the cardinal explained.

"I am fully aware that these reforms denote a far-reaching change of perspective," Schönborn said. "We must take leave of the traditional concept that the church is only present where there is a priest. That is a restricted view that has developed over time but which must now be corrected. Church is community, and leading offices in the church should in principle be carried out collaboratively, even if the parish priest has the final responsibility according to canon law."

The "common priesthood of all the baptized" will take center stage from now on, Schönborn said, meaning that those who have been baptized and confirmed will be responsible for evangelization and pastoral work. The reform is meant to bring about a new form of cooperation between priests and lay Catholics based on their common vocation to Christianity, he said.


Within these large central parishes, there would be many small affiliated communities run only by lay Catholics who would work voluntarily. The cardinal expressly emphasized that no parishes would be closed, but smaller parishes might be amalgamated with larger ones..

Catholics would have to travel to one of the large central parishes to celebrate the Eucharist, but Services of the Word would be celebrated by the laypeople running the local affiliated communities..

Complete article at the National Catholic Reporter

Chinese authorities "re-educate" Shanghai's priests and nuns

Gerald O'Connel
Vatican Insider
Oct. 6, 2012

Seeking to prevent any further dissent from the Government’s policy on religious matters, the Chinese authorities have compelled 80 Catholic priests and 80 nuns of the Shanghai diocese to attend thirty-six hours of classes to get them to “think and act in the right way” about relations between the State and religion, the principle of an independent Church, and the Communist Party’s understanding of religious concepts, policies and regulations.

The 160 priests and also nuns of the Shanghai diocese have been forced to attend compulsory “study classes”, UCA News agency said when it broke the news. The nuns are members of Our Lady of the Presentation Congregation whose Superior General, Sister Agnes Liu Shujing, was dismissed by the same authorities last July.

Participants at the re-education course were divided into three groups and ordered to attend three-days of classes, each lasting 12 hours, at the Shanghai Institute of Socialism. The classes began September 10 and concluded at the end of September. Church sources told UCA News that University professors gave lectures aimed at strengthening the participants’ sense of duty to the country, its laws and to the principle of an independent Church principle – that is a Church run independently of Rome.

Full article at the Vatican Insider

Sunday, October 7, 2012

editorial: Vatican II (continued)



there are currently several different, sometimes contending ways of being Catholic. To some degree that has always been so. The notion of the church as a rigorously disciplined and monolithic enterprise is largely myth, and modern myth to boot (see “An Imagined Unity”). What is not myth, however, is the dramatic change in the self-understanding of Catholics brought about by the council. For at least two centuries Catholicism saw itself as a bulwark against the spread of pernicious liberal and democratic principles, and held fast to a monarchical and aristocratic worldview in which the church enjoyed a privileged civic, cultural, and political role. At Vatican II, the bishops called off this long and ultimately futile struggle against modernity. Not without ambivalence, they reconciled themselves to the separation of church and state and to the idea of religious liberty (see “Outvoted, Not Persecuted”). They then went further, extending the hand of fellowship to other Christians, to non-Christian religions, and especially to the Jewish community, while warmly endorsing human rights and aspirations for democratic self-determination. Even the pursuit of technological and material progress, long viewed with world-weary skepticism, was encouraged.

And so a church once narrowly focused on the world to come suddenly discovered much to praise in the world at hand. Most important, perhaps, the laity was now urged to bring its faith into the secular sphere, to transform a fallen world rather than retreat from it. This effort at aggiornamento, or updating, looked back to certain neglected aspects of the tradition (ressourcement) for inspiration and guidance. That project was in part an effort to find within the church’s own traditions theological and philosophical sources that could more firmly ground and thus defend what was morally sound in the modern world’s understanding of human dignity and individual liberty.

There is nothing intellectually, theologically, or politically tidy in this long-delayed encounter between the church and the post-Enlightenment world, as the ongoing struggles between the Vatican and theologians and the Vatican’s recent criticism of women religious remind us. Nearly forty years ago, longtime Commonweal columnist John Cogley offered the following assessment of the council’s aftermath: “The religious community that survived the early onslaught of bigotry, with a certain style; that built up an enormous citadel of protective institutions to protect its identity; and that valiantly fought its way out of the ghetto to achieve acceptance in American life may yet have to face its greatest challenge.” As Cogley understood it, the challenge was the seemingly irresistible, yet questionable, attraction and authority of modernity itself, with its atomizing individualism, triumphant materialism, scientific hubris, and deep skepticism about the existence of any transcendent values or reality.

Can the church rise to this challenge? So far the results are mixed. What seems certain is that not everything that worked in the past will work now.


Just before his death last month, Milan’s Cardinal Carlo Martini lamented the institutional and pastoral paralysis gripping the European and American church. He cast a sorrowful eye on “pompous” liturgies, “empty” religious houses, and the church’s stifling bureaucracy. “Where are our heroes today who can inspire us?” he asked, and went on to recommend that the pope and the bishops “find twelve unconventional people to take on leadership roles.” What sort of unconventional people? “Those who are close to the poor,” Martini specified; “who can galvanize young people by being willing to try new approaches.”

One such “new” approach, as suggested by John Wilkins in this issue, would be a return to the council’s embrace of collegiality, and the development of that tradition to include genuine lay participation.


The sometimes bitter disagreements among Catholics today are not going to end any time soon. But that should not be a cause for pessimism or despair. As the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre has reminded us, every institution or tradition is “partially constituted by an argument about the goods the pursuit of which gives to that tradition its particular point and purpose.” In other words, robust debate about the church and its mission can be a sign of health. There will need to be more room, not less, for the “argument about the goods” of the Catholic tradition.

Modern men and women long for a unity of purpose that extends beyond mere individual striving or difference. Such unity is forged by the conviction that there is in fact meaning to suffering and death, and that the meaning and value of life itself can only be found in a good that reaches beyond this world. That was the first truth the council proclaimed, and to which it called every Catholic to give witness. The need for that witness is even greater now than it was fifty years ago.

Full editorial at Commonweal

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Bishop's conviction could compound legal problems for Kansas City diocese

The Kansas City Star
Oct. 5, 2012

The legal arena has become a sort of second home to the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese — but hardly a sanctuary.

Bishop Robert Finn’s criminal misdemeanor conviction this past summer for failing to report suspected child abuse involving the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, analysts say, could dramatically undercut the diocese’s defense against mounting civil lawsuits.

More than two dozen pending cases allege offenses ranging from sexual abuse by priests to wrongful death.

The Ratigan case triggered a new wave of litigation.

“Now that Bishop Finn has (been convicted), the diocese is at absolute risk,” said Patrick Wall, a canon lawyer and former Roman Catholic priest who has worked on behalf of clergy sexual abuse victims for a decade.

This is only the latest surge of lawsuits charging that church leaders covered up sexual abuse by priests in the diocese. This bunch follows past assurances of reform. Consequently, some analysts see ballooning liability and potentially crippling judgments.

In 2008, the diocese paid a $10 million settlement to 47 victims and their families who filed lawsuits involving 12 current or former priests.

That settlement pointedly included a pledge to follow mandatory state reporting requirements and diocesan guidelines to report suspected sexual abuse of minors to law enforcement.

Finn’s recent guilty verdict, experts say, could be offered as evidence that the diocese didn’t live up to its promise. That conviction, they say, could hamper the diocese even more.

“If you’ve been convicted of something very closely related to what the allegations are in the lawsuits, then it’s certainly possible that it could be used as leverage by the plaintiffs in aiming toward a settlement,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

Last October, after the bishop was indicted for failing to report Ratigan, most of the plaintiffs in the 2008 settlement filed a breach-of-contract lawsuit against the diocese. They alleged that the diocese and Finn failed to live up to some of the settlement’s critical terms. They asked a judge to force the diocese into arbitration to ensure that it complied with the reforms agreed upon just three years earlier.

In June, a judge granted that request. If an arbitrator rules that the diocese violated the 2008 settlement, experts say, liability could skyrocket.

Already, the diocese’s lawsuits and legal costs have piled up. Finn’s defense in the criminal case alone cost nearly $1.4 million in the 12-month period ending June 30.

A diocesan spokesman said that he could not discuss specifics of the lawsuits but that 26 cases are pending against the diocese, all but four filed since Ratigan’s arrest in May 2011.


The diocese will probably be tangled up in lawsuits for years to come.


The diocese has filed motions to dismiss all of the lawsuits filed since last year. But so far, its efforts have had little success.


Read entire article at the Kansas City Star

Friday, October 5, 2012

Episcopal bishop not seated for Cordileone's installation

Dennis Coday
National Catholic Reporter
Oct. 5, 2012

Bishop Marc Andrus of the Episcopal diocese of California, an invited guest for the installation of San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, was not allowed to be seated for the service, according to a report by Pacific Church News, the news service of the Episcopal diocese of California.

Andrus, who three days earlier had written a letter pledging to work with Cordileone but remaining firm in supporting gay rights and marriage equality, which Cordileone opposes, was escorted to a basement room at St. Mary's Catholic Cathedral and “detained by an usher until the time the service began, whereupon Bishop Andrus left the cathedral,” according to the report.

The spokesman for the Catholic archdiocese told the Associated Press that Andrus’ exclusion was due to a misunderstanding. Spokesman George Wesolek said that Andrus had arrived late and missed the procession of interfaith clergy.

Church staff, said Wesolek, were looking for an opportunity to bring the bishop in without disrupting the service. "We had no intention of excluding him at all," Wesolek said. "If he felt like because of the wait that was insulting to him, we certainly will apologize."

Andrus, however, said that he was not late. In a statement released on his blog this morning, the Episcopal bishop said he waited in the basement with other invited interfaith dignities. When Andrus attempted to enter the church with the other dignities, the bishop claims, he was stopped.

“An archdiocesan employee attempted to escort me upstairs with the Greek Orthodox group, but was stopped from doing so by the employee to whom I had first identified myself. This person, who appeared to be in a superior role, instructed another employee to stand with me,” Andrus’ statement reads.

“At this point no other guests remained in the downstairs area. The employee and I chatted while waiting. I began to wonder about the time holdup. I checked my phone; it was 1:50 PM. I asked the employee standing with me if the service indeed started at 2, which she affirmed.”

“At 2PM, when the service was to begin, I said to the employee, 'I think I understand, and feel I should leave.' Her response was, 'Thank you for being understanding.' I quietly walked out the door. No one attempted to stop me. No attempt was ever made to explain the delay or any process for seating. I arrived early, before the time given my assistant, and waited to leave until after the service had begun.”

Vatican: No more talks with Catholic rebels SSPX

Tom Heneghan
Oct. 5, 2012

PARIS (Reuters)- The Vatican plans no more talks with rebel Catholic traditionalists who insist the Church must revoke modernizing reforms launched five decades ago, Pope Benedict's main doctrinal official has told a German interviewer.

Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, who took up his post as head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in July, said in an interview to be broadcast on Saturday that the Church could not negotiate away the fundamentals of its faith.

His comments to North German Radio (NDR) were the first from the Vatican on deadlocked talks meant to reintegrate the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) into the Church after a 21-year schism over its implacable opposition to 1960s reforms.

In recent weeks, SSPX leaders have indicated a two-year series of talks with the Vatican had hit an impasse because Rome's insistence that they accept reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council was a deal breaker for them.

"We cannot give away the Catholic faith in negotiations," Mueller said according to a pre-broadcast report by NDR.

"There will be no compromises here," he said. "I think there now will be no new discussions."


The Swiss-based SSPX broke away from Rome in 1988 in protest against the 1960s Council reforms that replaced Latin with local languages at Mass, forged reconciliation with Jews and admitted that other religions may also offer a path to salvation.


Full article at Reuters

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Our ninth archbishop in San Francisco

Brian Cahill
San Francisco Chronicle
Oct. 3, 2012

Salvatore Cordileone will be installed as the new Roman Catholic archbishop of San Francisco Thursday at St. Mary's Cathedral on the feast of the city's patron saint, Francis of Assisi, a 13th-century Italian radical known for his love of all God's children and his passion for bringing Jesus' message of love to the poor and marginalized - so much so that he was always on the receiving end of criticism from Italian bishops.

What does Cordileone's appointment mean for those Catholics who disagree with church teaching and who are discouraged with flawed church leadership, but remain committed to the church and want the church to be relevant in their lives?

The archbishop is the new head of our church family - admittedly, a family that is at times dysfunctional and riddled with conflict and tension, but from a faith perspective, a family nonetheless. How the new head of our family gathers information, how he makes decisions, how he communicates, how he teaches, how he leads, are all important to our community.


His apparent obliviousness to the disrespect felt by many gay and lesbian Catholics is disturbing. His continued insistence that same-sex marriage is unjust to children ignores the reality of the 70,000 children placed in the California foster care system by the abuse and neglect of their heterosexual parents, and ignores that the only significant cohort of adoptive parents for the most vulnerable of these children are gay and lesbian couples who want to form a family. His recent statement that Catholic gay and lesbian couples should not be allowed to receive Communion is distressing.


Our new archbishop can be our leader and our shepherd and the head of our family, or he can join the growing list of heavy-handed, ineffective bishops who have forfeited their credibility as teachers and lost their moral authority as leaders. We hope and pray he chooses the former.

More at San Francisco Chronicle

Episcopal Bishop Andrus letter on Archbishop Cordileone

Oct. 1, 2012

Dear Ones,

On the Feast of Saint Francis, patron saint of our city by the bay, Salvatore Cordileone will be installed as the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco. The announcement of his appointment by Pope Benedict has come with mixed reactions and feelings from San Franciscans of all or no faith tradition. Bishop Cordileone was an active supporter of Proposition 8, which I and the other Episcopal bishops throughout California opposed.

Despite this difference of opinion and support, I look forward to working with Archbishop-designate Cordileone when and how we can, remembering as the Apostle Paul writes that we are one body, united by one Lord, one faith, and one baptism. Christianity has a long tradition of the faithful disagreeing with one another yet working together for common mission for the building of the Reign of God.


Archbishop-designate Codelione and I share concerns for the treatment of immigrants to this country and reforming the United States’s immigration policies. Working to alleviate global poverty and change systems that disenfranchise all people are the concerns of those who follow our brother Christ, and that work is not limited to the work of bishops.

In working together with the Archdiocese of San Francisco, however, I will not change my course with regard to the full inclusion of all people in the full life of the church. I hope that public disagreements can be handled respectfully and that criticisms of public statements may be met with mutual respect. Some Catholics may find themselves less at home with Salvatore Cordileone’s installation and they may come to The Episcopal Church. We should welcome them as our sisters and brothers.


+Marc Handley Andrus
Episcopal Bishop of California

Full letter to the diocese of California here

Monday, October 1, 2012

Pope's bid to win over Catholic rebels seems at dead end

Tom Heneghan
Oct. 1, 2012

PARIS (Reuters)- Pope Benedict's bid to draw rebel Catholic traditionalists back to the Roman fold, a major effort that has divided Catholics and sometimes embarrassed him, seems to have hit a dead end with little apparent hope of a solution.

Two leaders of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), which broke away over reforms of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council, have recently rejected his conditions for their rehabilitation after a series of contacts following his 2005 election as pope.

SSPX head Bishop Bernard Fellay, who Church officials expect will send a formal reply to Rome soon, has not yet indicated the group's final position but it is not expected to be positive.

A formal or de facto SSPX rejection would be a setback for Benedict, whose decision to lift excommunications on its four bishops in 2009 backfired when it emerged one was a notorious Holocaust denier and the Vatican did not even know it.

"The SSPX has set conditions that are simply unacceptable to the pope," Nicolas Seneze, a French expert on the Society, told Reuters. "Their discussions are now back at square one."

The Swiss-based SSPX broke away from Rome in 1988 in protest against the 1960s reforms that replaced Latin with local languages at Mass, forged reconciliation with Jews and admitted other religions may also offer a path to salvation.

Benedict, who at the time was the Vatican's top doctrinal official, failed to convince SSPX founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre not to ordain four bishops. Appointing them meant the SSPX could continue its work outside of Vatican control.


Since becoming pope, Benedict has met Fellay, promoted the old Latin Mass the SSPX champions and lifted excommunications imposed on Lefebvre and the four bishops when they defied Pope John Paul and went ahead with the unauthorized ordinations.

Benedict's 2007 decision to allow wider use of the old Latin Mass met with a mixed reaction among Catholics. A minority welcomed it but many thought that reviving the 16th century ritual was turning back the clock to before the 1960s Council. Two years later, he set off a firestorm of criticism from Catholics, Jews and German politicians when his decision to lift the bishops' excommunications brought Holocaust-denying Bishop Richard Williamson back into the Church.

Lifting the excommunications meant the four bishops were once again full members of the 1.2-billion member Church.

........... Read full article at Reuters