Sunday, April 14, 2013
John Hooper The Guardian (UK) April 14,2013 Pope Francis presaged a revolution in the running of the Catholic church when, at the weekend, he announced the formation of an eight-strong panel of cardinals from all parts of the world who are to advise him on governance and the reform of the Vatican. The Italian church historian Alberto Melloni, writing in the Corriere della Sera, called it the "most important step in the history of the church for the past 10 centuries". For the first time, a pope will be helped by a global panel of advisers who look certain to wrest power from the Roman Curia, the church's central bureaucracy. Several of the group's members will come to the job with a record of vigorous reform and outspoken criticism of the status quo. None has ever served in the Italian-dominated Curia in Rome and only one is an Italian: Giuseppe Bertello, the governor of the Vatican City State. The panel will be headed by one of the most dynamic figures in the Catholic leadership: Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa in Honduras and head of the global charity Caritas Internationalis. A polymath who plays the saxophone and piano, Maradiaga has trained as a pilot and speaks six languages. Like Pope Francis, he has long been a tenacious critic of economic inequality. In an interview with the Italian television news service Tgcom24, Maradiaga said his group would "certainly" be tackling the ever-controversial Vatican bank. The remaining members of the group were each chosen to represent one of the six continents. They include Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who imposed a "zero tolerance" policy on clerical sex abuse in his archdiocese of Boston, and George Pell, the archbishop of Sydney, who gave an unusually forthright interview before the election of Francis in which he said the leaking of the former pope Benedict's correspondence last year had identified "substantial problems" that needed to be addressed "in a real way". Another formidably savvy member of the panel will be Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya, the archbishop of Kinshasa in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In the 1990s, he was handed the responsibility of overseeing his country's transition to democracy following the dictatorship of Mobutu Sese Seko. A statement from the Vatican said the group would not be meeting until October. But it added that Francis was already talking to its members. The statement said they had been entrusted with drawing up a scheme "for revising the Apostolic Constitution on the Roman Curia, Pastor Bonus", which dates from 1988 and was drafted by Pope John Paul II. The last thoroughgoing shake-up of the Curia, however, was by Pope Paul VI more than 40 years ago. Pope Francis appeared to be doing more than just initiating a much-needed bureaucratic reform. A global panel of mostly diocesan archbishops will give some real meaning to "collegiality": the idea that the church's pastoral leaders should have a role in its overall governance. Collegiality was enjoined by the Second Vatican Council which ended its work in 1965, but only very partially implemented under Paul and the charismatic, but autocratic, John Paul. Maradiaga said: "Above all, we shall be giving first-hand information in contact with the bishoprics – perspectives other than those that get to the Holy See."
Saturday, April 13, 2013
CNN April 13, 2013 Pope Francis has appointed a group of eight cardinals from around the world to look into ways of reforming the Catholic Church, the Vatican said Saturday. The group, which includes U.S. Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston, will examine ways to revise the Vatican constitution, Pastor Bonus, which sets the rules for running the Roman Curia, or church hierarchy. The cardinals -- who come from North America, Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe -- will first meet in October, the Vatican said. The move follows on from suggestions made during the General Congregations, a series of meetings that brought together all the cardinals last month before they elected Francis as pope, the Vatican said. The other seven cardinals are: Giuseppe Bertello, president of the Vatican City State governorate; Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa from Chile; Oswald Gracias from India; Reinhard Marx from Germany; Laurent Monsengwo Pasinya from the Democratic Republic of the Congo; George Pell from Australia; and Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga from Honduras. An Italian bishop, Monsignor Marcello Semeraro, will act as secretary for the group. Pope Francis has already been in touch with the chosen cardinals, the Vatican said. The Catholic Church has faced calls for reform in the wake of scandals involving the sexual abuse of children by priests and allegations of corruption.
Thursday, April 11, 2013
Paige Brettingen Annenberg Digital News April 10, 2013 Iseult Ward completed her Irish Catholic school education, received all of the required sacraments and then left the Church. “I suppose I’ve become disillusioned by the whole structure of the Church and all the bad stories that have been coming out over the years,” the 22-year-old student at Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, said. “I just have no interest in being associated with them whatsoever.” The cover-ups of clergy sex abuse and the increased secularization of Ireland have prompted many young people like Ward to leave the Church. Yet in their absence, another group’s presence is gaining prominence and giving the Church leaders hope. Each year brings a greater influx of immigrants known as “New Irish” who want to become Catholic in the Dublin Archdiocese, says Fr. Damian McNeice, director of the archdiocese’s Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults (RCIA)– a program that helps non-Catholics join the Church. The number of new Catholics has risen steadily since the archdiocese began the program in the late 1990s. “One may think, ‘Who would want to be part of the Catholic Church in Ireland given all its mess?’” said Fr. McNeice. “But God is still calling people and that is just extraordinary.” This year, 83 candidates– up from 46 last year– received all of the sacraments necessary to become Catholics at Easter Vigil. For most of them, it marked not only their Catholic initiation, but their initiation to Christianity as a whole, says Fr. McNeice. The majority of new Catholics joining the archdiocese include immigrants from China and Africa as well as Poland, Slovakia and Russia. Eric Tchanga wasn’t Catholic when he first arrived in Ireland from Cameroon, Africa 12 years ago. After enrolling at University College Dublin to study business, Tchanga, 37, began going to Catholic masses that were said in Latin– a language he could understand well. Eventually the masses started affecting him outside the church doors. “It made me see life in a different way,” he said. “When you are faithful, you tend to… trust God that things are going to be OK.” Two years ago, after going through the RCIA process, Tchanga was baptized, confirmed and received his first Holy Communion at Easter Vigil. The length of the RCIA process in Dublin differs for each candidate. Instead of a one-size-fits-all structure, Fr. McNeice says the program is tailored to the individual. The process starts with discernment in deciding why one wants to be Catholic, and continues with a series of weekly faith formation discussions. Most complete the initiation process within a year, but it may take longer for those who come from non-Christian backgrounds, says Fr. McNeice. While Tchanga received an individualized initiation into the Church, students like Ward experience more of a “conveyor belt of Catholicism,” as Fr. McNeice describes. The process becomes more of a rite of passage, which often results in students going through the motions without finding personal meaning in the sacraments, says Fr. McNeice. “People think they’ve had an experience of Catholic formation, but actually young people can come out of school after 12 years of Catholic education and know very little. There’s something seriously wrong there,” said Fr. McNeice. It may take more than an overhaul of religious education to get people like Ward back to Mass. Any attempt to reach out to former Catholics would feel contrived, she says, unless the Church– and especially the newly elected Pope Francis– can change its staunchly conservative image. “I think you’d have to do something really extreme and radical to change people’s minds,” she said. “I think so many people are so cynical about the Church now that any efforts they do will be seen as them doing it for their own marketing rather than genuine.”
John Thavis April 11,2013 Cardinal Walter Kasper has an important piece in today’s Osservatore Romano, saying that Pope Francis, with his focus on poverty and social justice issues, has launched a new phase of implementation of the Second Vatican Council. Cardinal Kasper makes a strong argument that the council’s journey of renewal is not over and that the decades of discussion over its teachings should lead to new “practical consequences.” Pope Francis, he said, has pointed the way with his emphasis on a church that becomes poor and serves the poor. “In this sense, Pope Francis from the first day of his pontificate has given what I would call his prophetic interpretation of the council, and has inaugurated a new phase of its reception. He has changed the agenda: at the top are the problems of the Southern hemisphere,” Cardinal Kasper wrote. It’s useful to remember that it was Pope John XXIII who presented the image of “the church of all, and in particular the church of the poor” shortly before opening Vatican II in 1962. Cardinal Kasper said Pope Francis’ election had also underlined a related point: that the church's make-up has changed greatly since the time of the council. “At the beginning of the last century, only a quarter of Catholics lived outside Europe; today only a quarter live in Europe and more than two-thirds of Catholics live in the Southern hemisphere, where the church is growing,” he said. Cardinal Kasper also noted that Pope Francis appears to be open to a more collegial exercise of papal authority. The role of the pope as a unifying figure in the church should not lead to an “exaggerated centralism,” Kasper said. “Therefore it was very significant that Pope Francis made reference to the bishop of Rome who presides in charity, echoing the famous statement of Ignatius of Antioch. This is of fundamental importance, not only for the continuation of ecumenical dialogue, above all with Orthodox churches, but also for the Catholic Church itself,” he said. Cardinal Kasper made several other interesting points in the lengthy article, which so far is available only in Italian: -- The spirit of optimism toward progress in the world and the sense of journeying toward new frontiers, which marked the beginning of Vatican II, are long gone, the cardinal said. “For most Catholics, the developments put in motion by the council are part of the church’s daily life. But what they are experiencing is not the great new beginning nor the springtime of the church, which were expected at that time, but rather a church that has a wintery look, and shows clear signs of crisis,” he said. That doesn't mean Vatican II is no longer relevant, he said, but that “the church needs to take seriously the legitimate requests of the modern age. It needs to defend the faith against pluralism and postmodern relativism, as well as the fundamentalist tendencies that run from reason.” -- Kasper credited Pope Benedict XVI with promoting a balanced approach to Vatican II, and said the retired pope had a goal of “renewal in continuity.” At the same time, the cardinal seemed to respond to a talk given by Pope Benedict two weeks before his resignation, in which Benedict said a dominant misinterpretation of the council had “created so many disasters, so many problems, so much suffering: seminaries closed, convents closed, banal liturgy.” Kasper said some critics still consider Vatican II as “a disaster and the greatest calamity in recent times.” But the cardinal said it was wrong to presume that “everything that happened after the council also happened because of the council,” and that the critics need to look more closely at more general social trends of that era. -- One reason Vatican II documents have “an enormous potential for conflict” is that compromise language was adopted on many crucial issues, opening the door to selective interpretation in one direction or another, Kasper said. -- Overall, Vatican II teachings have given new impetus to life in dioceses, parishes and religious communities, especially through liturgical renewal, new spiritual movements, better knowledge of Scripture and dialogue with non-Catholics, he said.
Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Tracy Connor NBC News April 10, 2013 Twenty million Americans consider themselves lapsed Catholics, but Pope Francis is convincing many to test the holy waters again with his bold gestures and common touch. After years of disenchantment with the church's hierarchy and teachings, former members of the flock say they are willing to give the Vatican a second chance under new leadership. Dallas teacher Marilyn Rosa is one of them. "It was a sign," Rosa, 57, said of the Argentine Jesuit's election as pontiff last month. "It was like a miracle." Born and raised Catholic, Rosa attended parochial schools and had a church wedding for her first marriage. Over the years, she drifted away from the religion that had been such an integral part of her Puerto Rican family's life. She questioned the relevance of church policies in the modern world. As a divorced woman, she felt cast out. The pedophile-priest scandals disgusted her. Three years ago, she quit going to Mass and joined an evangelical church. But she didn't feel at home and she started to wonder how she could fill the void. "The day the pope got elected, I turned on the TV and when I learned he was Latin, I went crazy at home," said Rosa. "When they started to talk about how he lived by himself and didn't move into the archbishop's residence, how he took the bus to work, I said, 'I know God is talking to me. This is the man we needed.'" On Palm Sunday, she and her second husband "reverted," attending services at Dallas' St. Pius X Catholic Church. "It was packed. I had to stand up the whole time. But I felt so happy. It was like a revival," she said. Father Peter Mussett of St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center in Boulder, Colo., had five people tell him they were returning to the faith in a week because of Pope Francis. Rosa has kept going to back to St. Pius, encouraged by what she's seen of the pope: from the simple white robe he wears to his rejection of the opulent papal apartment in favor of a spartan guest house. "................ Father Peter Mussett, pastor of the St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Center, which serves the University of Colorado at Boulder, agrees. "I had five people in a week who were saying, 'Pope Francis has inspired me to return to my faith,'" he said. "It's pretty remarkable." Brian O'Neill, 48, an Irish-American cop from Washington State, went to Catholic elementary school and a Jesuit high school but hasn't practiced since graduating from a secular college. He says that could change soon. The Vatican's stance on social issues, along with the gilded lifestyle of some higher-ups previously drove O'Neill away. Francis' embrace of the poor and his background as a service-minded Jesuit might bring the father of two back. "I was shocked and amazed when he started doing those things -- you know, 'No Popemobile for me,'" said O'Neill, who wrote a column for his local newspaper about possibly returning to Catholicism. ........... Full article at NBC News
Saturday, April 6, 2013
Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB Pray Tell April 6, 2013 Here is the liturgy booklet for Pope Francis’ Mass this Sunday at St. John Lateran, the cathedral of the diocese of Rome, at which he will take possession of his chair (“cathedra,” from which we get “cathedral”) as bishop of the diocese. This is significant: the liturgy is all in vernacular, except for the Gregorian Chant Latin Mass ordinary and propers, and all the vernacular is Italian. This isn’t an international event that calls for Spanish and English and Vietnamese and so forth, though people from all over will be there. This is a celebration of the diocese of Rome, and they speak Italian there. To be sure, eight years ago when Benedict took possession of the cathedral, the liturgy didn’t look that much different from this. Benedict began his administration in continuity with what went before. But gradually over the course of Benedict’s eight-year papacy, at the behest of Benedict or his MC Guido Marini, papal liturgies increasingly shifted to Latin. Near the end, in Rome or elsewhere, Benedict was pretty much always doing the Eucharistic Prayer in Latin. But now with Pope Francis it’s in Italian. * * * * * ........ But Benedict also took a sour, pessimistic view of liturgical renewal since Vatican II, including a pretty sharp critique of the supposed invention of a new liturgy under Pope Paul VI. He couldn’t bring himself to accept the “new thing” (cf. Isaiah 43:19) the Spirit was doing. Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” was never about continuity with the past fifty years of Catholic liturgical renewal. It wasn’t about the sensitivities of current-day worshipers or continuity with current liturgical practices. It was about establishing continuity with practices lost fifty years ago. It was about re-doing the liturgical reform as it supposedly should have been done. Ironically, Benedict’s “hermeneutic of continuity” meant a rupture with present practices and became a pretext to introduce liturgical changes, sometimes great changes, of a traditional sort. (Think wall of candles between celebrant and congregation, or two forms of the Roman rite.) It was always a rather small group which supported Pope Benedict’s liturgical thing, albeit a very vocal and enthusiastic group. Most of those by far in liturgical and musical ministry saw their life’s work being called into question by the new direction under Benedict, and they had reason to feel confused or worried or demoralized. (Think new English missal.) ........... But for those of us who track what’s going on behind the scenes and what it means for the future of Catholic liturgical renewal, Pope Francis’ Mass this Sunday at the Cathedral of John Lateran is one more indication of the direction of his papacy. It is part of Francis’ “hermeneutic of continuity” – with Vatican II, with Pope Paul’s reform of the rites, and with the rest of the Catholic Church. Full article at Pray Tell
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Pray Tell April 4, 2013 In the Süddeutsche Zeitung from Munich – most likely a newspaper Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI reads daily – Matthias Drobinski is noting the contrast between Pope Francis and his predecessor. “The Opposite of Benedict’s Program” reports on the “sensation” of the short speech Jorge Mario Bergoglio made at the cardinals’ meetings before the conclave, made public with his permission. Dobrinski sees it as the “program of the new pope,” like the 2005 homily of Joseph Ratzinger at the Mass before the 2005 conclave. Efforts are underway to put Bergoglio in the light of continuity with Ratzinger, Drobinski says. Both are against relativism and for the truth of the Gospel. Bergoglio warn of a “worldly” church, which fits with Benedict’s desire for “desecularizing” the church. But note the contrasts: In 2005 Joseph Ratzinger described the church as a little ship threatened by the high waves of the “dictatorship of relativism.” What can a ship crew do in a storm? Shorten the sails, close the hatches, raise the ship sides, close oneself off from the danger from the outside. In 2005 Joseph Ratzinger preached hermeticism, securing of what one has, preservation of the entrusted treasure in a secure place. This is – to put a fine point on it – what his successor castigates as an “egocentric church” which “seeks Jesus within.” The image of a church that goes to the borders of the world and human existence is not compatible with the image of a ship in a hostile storm. A church that goes to the borders risks something. It risks losing its own security. And the treasure of Catholic tradition, in view of the cries of the present day, appears as something beautiful but secondary. To go to the periphery: the notion derives from Latin American liberation theology, whose proponents left their rectories in the 70s to live with the poor. For many in the curia – but by no means for all – this is a battle cry: to be a liberation theologian and thus naturally a Marxist is a curse. It is a battle cry just like the demonstrative renunciation of insignia, trappings, and formalities of papal existence, the renunciation of forms that have long since broken free from their content, that have become self-referential and narcissistic. The cardinals have voted for this battle cry – with full knowledge of the inflammatory speech of the cardinal from Buenos Aires, Argentina. With a two-thirds majority, they are fed up with the royal court carrying one of the curia, the sacralization of form over existential content, a church leadership scandalously concerned with itself, with a pope at the peak who is, to be sure, a man of integrity and well-educated, but increasingly out of his depth. They voted for a change that they had not yet wanted in 2005. These cardinals will now have to support their Pope Francis over against the mentality of adamancy, of closed hatches. For those powers are very strong in the Catholic Church. ........ Full article at Pray Tell
Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Fr. John A. Coleman, SJ America April 1. 2013 Most of my adult life, since Vatican II, at every parish I have either worshipped or celebrated Holy Thursday, the priest and others have washed the feet of men and women, boys, girls and elderly people. I have never in my life given much extra thought to this practice because it struck me that Jesus, of course, washes the feet of all those in need as a sign to us also to do likewise. That conservative and reactionary Catholics seemed aghast that Pope Francis, for the first time for a pope, washed the feet of women on Holy Thursday took me by surprise and stunned me! It literally stunned me in showing how out of touch so many in our church can sometimes be. But maybe I have not been paying attention. I now know that a number of "self-referential" bishops and priests (Pope Francis' great term about those who do not meet people where they are in their struggles, real lives and, as he puts it, "in the streets"), including the bishop of a neighboring diocese of mine, have forbidden the washing of women's feet on Holy Thursday. I saw a recent right-wing Catholic blog expressing disdain and disgust at the pope for washing the feet of women and Muslims and conjecturing that, perhaps, next year he would wash the feet of cats and dogs! This may be a harbinger of Catholic conservative back lash on our pope. I am saddened by such narrow and not terribly theologically informed ecclesial theology. I suspect that they think that, because Jesus washed the feet of his disciples at the last supper, if we wash the feet of women soon they will want to consider themselves also disciples and want to be ordained! Actually, I have never imagined that there were no women at the Last Supper, if indeed it was held on the Passover. Jewish ritual assumed that the seder at the Passover was not legitimate if there were no women present. In the patriarchal society at the time of Jesus, who else would have served the meals? Jesus had, himself, just been anointed by a woman in costly nards and said something that, in fact, the church has largely ignored through most of its history: "Amen, I say to you, wheverever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be spoken of, in memory of me" ( Matthew 26:13). In point of fact we have very rarely heard of this act of the woman proclaimed far and wide about her washing Jesus' feet with her tears. Hurray for Bishop of Rome and also Pope Francis for washing the feet of women and few Muslims in the detention facility on Holy Thursday. Of course, they would have felt left out if their feet could not be washed. What a breath of fresh air—so necessary after such a long period of overly self-centered church activity—this pope represents. Let all of us call narrow, self-referential bishops and priests who do not allow the washing of feet of women in our parishes on Holy Thursday to some kind of ecclesial accounting and conversion. We need to address their narrow ecclesiology which slights women and the role of the whole laity--and the inclusive ministry of Jesus. At a time when people lament the narrow roles allowed to women in the church, what does it symbolize if you can not wash their feet on Holy Thursday?