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In Celebration of Earth Day

We are co-creators with God
of what creation has left unfinished.
What has been left in embryo
is left for us to develop.
What can be developed
God trusts us to bring to full potential.

Co-creation,
the human commitment
to continue the work of God
on earth,
requires us to tend the land
and conserve the waters,
to till the garden
and protect the animals,
to use the things of the earth
in ways that enhance all life now-
and preserve them
for later generations.

To do that we must become part
of the liturgy of life,
treating as holy everything we touch,
regarding as sacred every being alive,
intent on preserving
the best of what is ---

while we use our science and technology
to protect, defend and enhance them all.

  - from The Monastery of the Heart: An Invitation to a Meaningful Life by Joan Chittister (BlueBridge)

 

Some things we have been reading  

For US Nuns, A Roman Shake-Up -- LCWR Ordered to "Reform"
Rocco Palmo      Apt.18, 2012

Citing "serious doctrinal problems" found over the course of a four-year study of the lead umbrella-group representing the US' communities of religious women, the Holy See has set into motion a thoroughgoing shake-up of the  Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), naming Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle as its delegate to conduct an overhaul of the group.

Among other concerns raised in an eight-page summary of the doctrinal inquest released today, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cited addresses at LCWR conferences that, it said, manifested a "rejection of faith," protests of church teaching on homosexuality and the ordination of women by officers of the group, and a "prevalence of certain radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith" in some of the conference's events.

" The current doctrinal and pastoral situation of the LCWR is grave and a matter of serious concern," the Congregation said.  
Read more

 

Full text of the Vatican's LCWR 'Doctrinal Assessment

"Support The Sisters" Petition

SisterNews.net

 

LCWR Statement from Presidency on CDF Doctrinal Assessment

[Silver Spring, Maryland] The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.   Because the leadership of LCWR has the custom of meeting annually with the staff of CDF in Rome and because the conference follows canonically-approved statutes, we were taken by surprise. 

This is a moment of great import for religious life and the wider church. We ask your prayers as we meet with the LCWR National Board within the coming month to review the mandate and prepare a response. 

For further information, contact:
  
Annmarie Sanders, IHM 
LCWR Director of Communications
asanders@lcwr.org 
Work: 301-588-4955 
Cell:  301-672-3043
www.lcwr.org 

 

LCWR 'stunned' by Vatican's latest move
Joshua J. McElwee      Apr.19, 2012

The largest leadership organization for U.S. women religious says it was "stunned" by the announcement Wednesday that the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith had ordered it to reform its statutes and had appointed an archbishop to oversee its revision.
  
"The presidency of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious was stunned by the conclusions of the doctrinal assessment of LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith," the group said in a news release Thursday morning.
  
"Because the leadership of LCWR has the custom of meeting annually with the staff of CDF in Rome and because the conference follows canonically-approved statutes, we were taken by surprise."
. . . .
The group sent an email Thursday to the heads of each of the congregations it represents, explaining how the group became aware of the news.

That email, obtained by NCR, says LCWR leadership was in Rome to meet Wednesday with members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the doctrinal assessment. When the leaders came to the meeting, the congregation had already communicated with the U.S. bishops' conference news of Sartain's appointment, the email states.

Additionally, the email says LCWR membership was told during the meeting that news of the appointment would only be shared Wednesday at the bishops' conference internally and not with the general public in order to give the group time to communicate with its leaders.

"When we met with Cardinal (William) Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on April 18, where we received the assessment results, CDF's communication had already been sent to the USCCB for release at noon," the email states.
Read more

 

Half-truths and innuendo about the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Brian Cones       Apr.19 2012

Today's news stories about the "renewal " of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith are already taking at face value the claims of the CDF that the LCWR is somehow doctrinally deficient. The actual CDF statement, however, is little more than a tissue of misinformation, misrepresentation, and innuendo that does a profound disservice to these religious women.

Misinformation: Once again the CDF statement invokes Dominican Sister Laurie Brink's 2007 keynote address to the LCWR on the future of religious life. In it she notes that some religious have made choices "involv[ing] moving beyond the Church, even beyond Jesus." The CDF document sees that statement as a "cry for help," but it is clear in Brink's lengthy keynote that she is doing nothing more than describing one option some religious have taken since the Second Vatican Council. Taken as a whole, her talk is a wholly appropriate reflection for adult religious women talking about the future of their way of life. Read it yourself.

Misrepresentation: The CDF statement singles out for withdrawal the LCWR resourceSystems Thinking Handbook, which describes a method of analysis to be used, for example, in dealing with conflict. The CDF complains that this method, instead of church teaching, is presented as a solution to a disagreement in a particular congregation about whether to celebrate Eucharist at an anniversary celebration. (The event was on a Saturday; the regular motherhouse Eucharist followed on Sunday.) 
. . . .
Innuendo: Throughout the document, the CDF accuses LCWR of dissent from magisterial teaching; silence on abortion, euthanasia, and homosexuality; support of women's ordination; and the big bugaboo of "radical feminism."
. . . .
When you boil it all down, the CDF's complaints are trumped up, giving the U.S. bishops the excuse to act against a relatively independent Catholic voice that they don't like-and a warning to others (perhaps such as Sister Carol Keehan of the Catholic Health Association) not to offer an alternative Catholic voice in the national debate. Sister Simone Campbell of NETWORK said it best, I think: "I think we scare them."

This action against LCWR is at best an abuse of authority; at worst, it looks like bullying. Either way, it's conduct unbecoming, and scandalous treatment of women without whom the church in the United States would be far less than it is today. 
Read more

 

Options facing LCWR stark, say canon lawyers
Joshua J. McElwee      Apr.19, 2012  

As the largest leadership organization for U.S. women religious begins to discern what steps to take following news yesterday that the Vatican has ordered it to reform and to place itself under the authority of an archbishop, experts say the options available to the group are stark. 
  
Ultimately, several canon lawyers told NCR, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has two choices: Either comply with the order or face ouster as a Vatican recognized representative of sisters in the United States.  
  
What's more, the lawyers say, LCWR has no recourse for appeal of the decision, which the U.S. bishops' conference announced Wednesday in a press release. 
Read more

 

The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell
MSNBC
Video

 

Rev. James Martin Twitter Drive #WhatSistersMeanToMe Supports US Nuns

With his opening tweets, the immensely popular Jesuit priest Rev. James Martin, SJ started his drive to remember how much Catholics (and non-Catholics) value the contributions of U.S. Catholic Nuns.
  
"Catholic sisters teach me what it means to persevere in ministry without the benefit of institutional power. #WhatSistersMeanToMe," he tweeted, following up with a second tweet asking, "How have Catholic sisters helped in your life?"
. . . .
Rev. Martin explained the Twitter effort in an email to The Huffington Post:

"Catholic sisters are my heroes. In light of the Vatican's desire to renew and reform their main organizing body, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, I thought it would be a great time to speak a word of support for Catholic sisters, and to acknowledge the hidden ways that these women have generously served God, served the poor and served this country."  
Read more

 

Bishops say Catholics must disobey unjust laws
Associated Press       Apr.12, 2012

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops called Thursday for a national campaign in defense of religious liberty, and urged resistance to laws that church officials consider unjust.

In a new 12-page document that quotes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., the bishops said priests, laypeople, public figures and others must be involved in the effort to change recent state and federal laws that church leaders believe violate religious freedom.
. . . .
Critics within and outside the church have accused the bishops of pressing the issue to remove President Barack Obama from office. But the bishops wrote, "this ought not to be a partisan issue."  
. . . . 
"If we face today the prospect of unjust laws, then Catholics in America, in solidarity with our fellow citizens, must have the courage not to obey them," the bishops wrote.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops plans a national "Fortnight for Freedom" from June 21 to July 4 that will include prayer and study about religious liberty.
Read more

 

SSPX rejects the Bishops' religious-freedom statement:

"Our First, Most Cherished Liberty":
A problematic document

The USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty has just published "A Statement on Religious Liberty" titled, "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty". This exhortation is filled with erroneous statements and tragic historical examples from our country's history when certain Catholic principles were compromised - which the USCCB holds up as shining examples of Catholicism.
. . . .
Unfortunately, the USCCB is exhorting Catholics to legitimately defend the Church's liberty via the false principle of "religious liberty" - and in doing so, has presented a series of historical fallacies from our country's ecclesiastical history which exemplifies another error: "Americanism", condemned by Pope Leo XIII in Testem Benevolentiae Nostrae.
. . . .
It is tragic that the United States' bishops who attended the Council (and those who came after) did not heed their fellow American, Msgr. Joseph Fenton (+1969), who vigorously fought the errors of religious liberty via his editorship of the American Ecclesiastical Review and his books. Instead the hierarchy thought that cozying up to the liberal establishment would bring to the American Church peace. But as it was not based upon Truth, it was ultimately a false peace and doomed to fail as we are seeing today. 
Read more

 

Catholic Leaders to Rep. Paul Ryan: Stop Distorting Church Teaching to Justify Immoral Budget
 Casey Schoeneberger   Apr.13, 2012

Nearly 60 prominent theologians, priests, nuns and national Catholic social justice leaders released a statement today refuting Rep. Paul Ryan's claim that his GOP budget proposal reflects Catholic teaching on care for the poor, which he made in an interview earlier this week with the Christian Broadcasting Network.  . . . . .
. . . . 
The leaders wrote: "Simply put, this budget is morally indefensible and betrays Catholic principles of solidarity, just taxation and a commitment to the common good. A budget that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few can't be justified in Christian terms."
Full statement with signatories

 

Republican Budget: John Boehner Says Bishops Miss Big Picture In Protesting GOP's Proposed Cuts
Michael McAuliff   Apr.18, 2012

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) chastised Catholic bishops at a Wednesday news conference on Capitol Hill, saying they needed to look at the bigger picture after they complained that the GOP budget plan fails to meet "moral criteria."

The bishops had written letters to Capitol Hill, arguing many elements of the Republicans' budget proposal, such as cuts to food stamps, harmed the poor while the wealthy benefitted.
. . . . 

Boehner, who is a Catholic, acknowledged the bishops' moral authority but suggested their focus was too narrow as they scolded Republicans over cutting assistance to those who are poor, hungry and homeless. 
Read more

 

BUDGET/ USCCB Tackles Paul Ryan
Michael Sean Winters      Apr.19,2012

On April 17, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the texts of four letters to various House committee chairs in which the bishops assess the moral ramifications of the federal budget. In each of the letters (links to the texts can be found here), the bishops reiterate the key criteria for such moral evaluations, the protection of human dignity, how proposals affect "the least of these," and whether or not a given proposal advances the common good. The bishops could not be more clear in rendering their verdict: "The House-passed budget resolution fails to meet these moral criteria."
 
The letters come shortly after Cong. Paul Ryan defended his budget proposals as consistent with Catholic social teaching.
Read more

 

Paul Ryan vs. the Bishops
Steve Benen    Apr.20, 2012

When it comes domestic investments and budget priorities, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops clearly aren't on the same page. As it turns out, neither is House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).

Given the severity of the cuts in the House Republican budget plan, and the way in which the poor are punished by the GOP agenda, the Bishops said in a letter this week the party's budget fails to meet certain "moral criteria" by disproportionately cutting programs that "serve poor and vulnerable people." They added the cuts are "unjustified and wrong."

Ryan, who, like Boehner, is Roman Catholic, appeared on Fox News yesterday, and was largely dismissive of his church's concerns.

Paul Ryan Dismisses Catholic Bishops' Critique of His Budget

Paul Ryan Dismisses Catholic Bishops' Critique of His Budget

Read more

 

IRS Should Investigate Catholic Diocese For Illegal Election Intervention, Says Americans United
Apr.19, 2012

The Internal Revenue Service should investigate the Catholic Diocese of Peoria for illegal electioneering after Bishop Daniel R. Jenky compared Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin as part of an election-year appeal, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Americans United today filed a formal complaint with the IRS over Jenky's intervention in the presidential campaign. Federal law prohibits churches and other tax-exempt nonprofits from endorsing or opposing candidates, said AU, and the bishop's April 14 sermon amounts to an order to vote against Obama.

"Bishop Jenky's intervention in the election wasn't just extreme and mean-spirited, it also seems to be a clear violation of federal law," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "Churches are tax-exempt institutions, and they aren't allowed to intervene in partisan politics."
Read more

 

Right-Wing Religion's War on America
Rob Boston      Apr.14, 2012

From a posh residence in the heart of New York City that has been described as a "mini-mansion," Cardinal Timothy Dolan is perhaps the most visible representative of an American church empire of 60 million adherents and vast financial holdings.

Dolan and his fellow clergy move easily through the corridors of political power, courted by big-city mayors, governors and even presidents. In the halls of Congress, they are treated with a deference no secular lobbyist can match.

From humble origins in America, the church has risen to lofty heights marked by affluence, political influence and social respect. Yet, according to church officials, they are being increasingly persecuted, and their rights are under sustained attack.
. . . .
Obama's Justice Department hasn't always pleased religious conservatives, but it has hardly been hostile to faith. The department sided with the state of Arizona in defending at the Supreme Court a private school tax-credit scheme that overwhelmingly benefits religious schools, going so far as to assist with oral arguments before the justices. When a federal court struck down the National Day of Prayer as a church-state violation in 2010, the administration criticized the ruling and quickly filed an appeal.

"If Obama is 'warring' against religion, he's doing it with a popgun and a rubber knife," Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United, told The Washington Times recently. "On core religious freedom issues, they have been moderate, to a fault.... It's not much of a war."

Other observers note that in a nation where the government's regulatory touch over religiously affiliated institutions is exceedingly light, it's hard to take claims of a war on religion seriously
Read more

 

Has the Catholic hierarchy really committed to root out abusive priests?
Kansas City Star      Apr.13, 2012

The headline on the website of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reads like good news: "Child Protection Audits Find Nearly All Dioceses Compliant
. . . .
The view from Kansas City is far less consoling. In September, their bishop will stand trial in criminal court for failing to report suspected child sexual abuse. Bishop Robert Finn will be the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to be tried on such charges.
. . . .
Many outraged Catholics in Kansas City are wondering how this could have happened.
. . . .
Yet the Kansas City case suggests that the sexual abuse saga of the U.S. Catholic Church is far from over, despite the largely positive review by auditors and years of multimillion-dollar settlements.
Read more

 

Virginia priest who headed child protection office is accused of abuse
  Michelle Boorstein  Apr.18, 2012

The Catholic priest who headed the diocese's 
Northern Virginia office responsible for protecting children from sexual abuse was placed on administrative leave Wednesday while he is investigated for alleged sexual misconduct with a teenage boy.

The Rev. Terry W. Specht, 59, who has been pastor of Holy Spirit Church in Annandale since 2007, denies the allegation of misconduct in the late 1990s. Specht was a parochial vicar at St. Mary of Sorrows Church  in Fairfax  at the time.
. . . . 
A man came to the diocese in late January with the complaint and within a week officials contacted the police, diocesan spokesman Michael Donohue said. 

Neither he nor the police would specify if the allegation involved one incident or more, or what sort of evidence was presented. Donohue said that an accusation itself would not automatically trigger the administrative-leave process.
  
"The bishop has looked at the information provided from the very beginnings of this and made a determination that it was best to put Reverend Specht on administrative leave," he said.
Read more

 

Child sex abuse in the Church: alliance demands full inquiry
Jerome Taylor     Apr.19 2012

Survivors of childhood abuse by members of the Anglican and Catholic churches have called on the government (UK) to conduct a full independent inquiry which would force religious institutions to disclose any files they have on clergy who have been accused of sexual exploitation.

It is the first time abuse victims have joined forces with lawyers, charities and child safeguarding specialists to launch a dedicated national campaign demanding such an inquiry.

Members of the newly formed Stop Church Child Abuse campaign argue that both the Anglican and Catholic churches have "lost the right to police themselves" following a long history of covering up abuse claims.

They also say safeguards which were put in place following a string of sex abuse scandals in the late 1990s are not strong enough to reinstate trust in the institutions. 
Read more

 

Bishop denies witness' abuse allegations
 Joseph A. Slobodzian and John P. Martin      Apr.20 2012

Complaining that he was blindsided while on church business in the Vatican, the bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, W.Va., on Thursday angrily denied trial testimony in Philadelphia alleging that he sexually abused a child during the late 1970s.

"I have never sexually abused anyone," Bishop Michael J. Bransfield said in a statement the diocese released.
Bransfield, 68, issued his statement after two witnesses at the child sex-abuse and conspiracy trial involving Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests referenced him while describing their own alleged abuse, and a prosecutor said Bransfield had been accused in a separate instance of fondling a minor.
Read more

 

Hindus Urge Pope to Reconsider Ordination of Women Priests
  Chakra Editor   Apr.21, 2012

Hindus have urged His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican to reconsider favorably the ordination of women priests in Roman Catholic Church.

Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, said that women could disseminate God's message as skillfully as men and deserved equal and full participation and access in religion.

Zed, who is President of Universal Society of Hinduism, further said that as women were equal partners in the society, so they should be equal partners in the religion also. He urged Vatican to be more kind to Roman Catholic women as exclusion of women from religious services, just because they were female, was very unfair and ungodly.
Read more

 

Catholic Priest Receives Standing Ovation For Shunning Anti-Marriage Equality Petition Drive 
Igor Volsky  Apr.18, 2012

At least six Catholic parishes in Washington state have ignored the Seattle Archbishop's call to gather signatures for a referendum repealing the state's recently-enacted marriage equality law, calling the effort "hurtful and seriously divisive in our community." "Seattle's Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church gave the Rev. Tim Clark a standing ovation  Sunday" when he announced that the parish would not be participating in the anti-equality effort.
. . . .
The other parishes to opt out of the signature drive include: St. James Cathedral, St. Joseph Church, St. Mary's Church, St. Patrick Church and Christ Our Hope Catholic Church.
Read more

 

Bishop Richard Lennon says he will reopen 12 churches that won Vatican appeal
Michael O'Malley     Apr.17 2012

Bishop Richard Lennon this morning announced that he will reopen 12 churches whose closings were reversed by the Vatican last month.
. . . .
Lennon said that he had decided not to appeal the Vatican rulings, adding that "it is time for peace and unity in the Diocese of Cleveland."

The 12 churches had appealed to the Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy, arguing they were vibrant, self-sustaining parishes that should not be closed. The panel ruled that he did not follow church laws and procedures when he closed the churches.
. . . . 
Lennon received official word of the Vatican decrees on March 14 and had 60 days to decide whether to appeal to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's supreme court.
He said he decided not to appeal after consulting with clergy, laity and experts in church law.
Read more

 

Disciplining dissent
Irish Times editors       Apr.12, 2012

Hamlet ordered Ophelia to "Get thee to a nunn'ry" to avoid the temptations of a sinful world. The Vatican has suggested that Fr Tony Flannery take himself to a monastery for six weeks to pray and to reflect on his liberal views. Fr Flannery, a Redemptorist priest, has upset the Vatican authorities. They have questioned the "orthodoxy" of some of his theological opinions. They have also censured and - for now - silenced him.
. . . .
The domestic reaction, from sections of the laity and some clergy, to the Vatican's disciplinary action has been one of regret and concern. The ACP has described the Vatican's intervention as "unfair, unwarranted and unwise". And it may well, as the association has warned, increase the public perception of a significant "disconnect" between the Irish church and Rome. Fr Flannery has spent many years developing the views that he now holds, views that were no doubt influenced and shaped by prayer and reflection. But six more weeks spent in silent isolation in a monastery engaged in further prayerful reflection may not produce the outcome the Vatican now hopes from its disciplining of one it, wrongly, regards as a turbulent priest.  
Read more

 

Irish Catholics 'want married priests'
Sarah Stack       Apr.12, 2012

The vast majority of Irish Catholics want women and married priests, liberal clergymen have found.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), which has had one of its founding members silenced by the Vatican for his views, insists it has public support for Pope Benedict to open dialogue on the controversial bans.

The group of more than 800 priests in Ireland claimed they have a mandate from mass-goers to raise concerns after a survey revealed a disconnect between official church teachings and what ordinary Catholics believe.
. . . .
The ACP wants to see the Second Vatican Council, which was also known as Vatican II and aimed to address relations between Rome and the modern world, enacted.
"We want to talk about them (the issues), discuss them and bring people's needs and rights to the heart of this dialogue," he said.
Read more

 

Fr Tony Flannery's silencing by Vatican causes new damage to Catholic Church
 Irish Voice Editors   Apr.12, 2012

The silencing of an Irish priest, Father Kevin Flannery, by the Vatican because of his liberal views has once again damaged the church in Ireland and worldwide.

The fact that the Association of Irish Priests, 800 strong, has come out in opposition to the Vatican move underlines once again how ordinary priests are becoming increasingly angry at the heavy hand that rules from the Holy See.
. . . .
A mildly turbulent priest in Ireland, expressing his feelings in his order's magazine, hardly seems likely to capsize the church in the way that the sex scandals and other matters may. 
. . . .
The ACP issued a strong statement in support of Flannery which stated in part, "At this critical juncture in our history, the ACP believes that this form of intervention -- what Archbishop Diarmuid Martin recently called 'heresy-hunting' -- is of no service to the Irish Catholic Church and may have the unintended effect of exacerbating a growing perception of a significant 'disconnect' between the Irish church and Rome.'
. . . . 
There are so many well-intentioned, hard-working priests who have no truck with scandals or moral judgments. They have never had a voice in the church. Father Flannery was their voice, one that did not nakedly challenge church authority but asked for understanding and action on critical matters of importance to the laity.  

Instead of censoring him, the church leaders would be wise to listen to him. 
Read more

 

Priests' group rallies behind cleric silenced by hierarchy
Luke Byrne       Apr.16, 2012

An organisation representing hundreds of priests last night described the silencing of Fr Sean Fagan over his writings as "outrageous".

The 84-year-old Marist priest was ordered to stop writing and commenting in public after he had called for an inquiry into clerical sexual abuse in all dioceses of the State.

All available copies of a theological book written by Fr Fagan were also bought up by his religious order and he was required to give an undertaking not to write again.
The move came after he had advocated allowing women and married men to be ordained as priests.
Read more

 

Pro-reform priest shunned by Rome
Tablet      Apr.19, 2012

The Vatican has rejected a proposal from the leader of the Austrian Priests' Initiative (PI), Mgr Helmut Schuller, that he meet Pope Benedict XVI to answer the Pope's questions about the PI's reform proposals.

Dialogue with the Austrian Priests' Initiative was first and foremost a matter for the Austrian bishops, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Austrian journalists in Rome on Tuesday. As this was a "pastoral problem", it was a matter for the Austrian bishops' conference, he said.
Read more

 

Belgian bishop for married priests
Tablet       Apr.13, 2012

Antwerp Bishop Johan Bonny has said he would like to ordain married men to enrich the pastoral service the Church can offer.

Bishop Bonny said he thought most other Belgian bishops would also welcome such a reform.
But he added, in an Easter interview with the Brussels daily De Standaard, ordaining women would be more difficult, because that posed theological problems instead of just the juridical issue that married male clergy present.

Belgian Catholics would probably accept women's ordination, Bishop Bonny said, but "this is a difficult issue worldwide". 

However he said he supported celibacy as a prophetic sign "especially in a consumer society like ours, where sexuality is sometimes trivialised".
Read more

 

Was the Visitation just another holy show?
Seán O'Conaill       Apr.12, 2012

In preparation for Confirmation around the age  of ten, Catholic children are taught that this sacrament will confer on them the dignity 'Temple of the Holy Spirit'. Are they taught how to recognise the Holy Spirit moving within them then?  If their hearts were then to burn strongly for other Temples of the Holy Spirit who were violated in the past, or they were to feel a just anger against bishops who knowingly allowed that to happen, or they were to shed tears for the mothers so cruelly betrayed - would any of those manifestations of moral indignation signify to them that the Holy Spirit was now at work within themselves?

I ask this question because of the stunning failure of the apostolic visitation to Ireland to address two other questions:   First, why Irish Catholic church administrators, politicians, civil servants and police officers - all also Temples of the Holy Spirit - were not moved to moral outrage and effective action by the cruelties revealed by the series of state reports into abuse:  Ferns, Dublin, the Catholic residential institutions and Cloyne.

Second, why it was that the church's clerical system did not become ostentatious in the cause of child protection until secular courts, media and state forced it to act.
The apostolic visitation to Ireland was itself the product of secular revelation but its summary report shows absolutely no sign of an honest acknowledgement of this.  Are Ireland's young Temples supposed to be forever unable to notice this, and forever unprompted by courage, honesty and love, to ask why?
. . . .
So again I ask: how exactly is the Holy Spirit supposed to be moving the young Catholics of Ireland and globally 'to renew the face of the earth'?  I've been saying the prayer 'Come Holy Spirit' all my life, and the fact is that I've learnt far more about how that could actually happen from Catholic clergy loyal to Vatican II (now again under covert intimidation in Ireland) and from Charles Dickens, than I have from the Catholic magisterium since 1968.   If it is argued that Irish Catholic lay people need to be protected from priests who would want to explore controversial issues, has the magisterium considered the impact of this upon our morale - through the inferences that the Holy See apparently believes the Holy Spirit denies the Irish people the gift of discernment and that we are not even allowed to suppose that an Irish priest could actually be speaking his own mind?

Our own bishops can't even have the courage to demand that the Holy Spirit be freed to enable them to determine the language of the Mass for us.  What kind of leadership is this?  And what kind of theology?
Read more

 

Why Young Adults Forget the Church to Follow Jesus
 Christian Piatt       Apr.16, 2012

. . . .  Why is this happening? . . . .   there are a few themes that emerge wherever I look for clues about this trend:

The teachings of the church are seen as devalued. This doesn't have so much to do with the inherent importance or validity of what is being said, but rather it's a reflection of the value of information overall. It's really a matter of supply and demand. Abraham Lincoln probably wouldn't have walked so far to get a book from the only area library, after all, if he had Wikipedia and Google Books at his fingertips. Most anything being said, taught or preached about in a church on Sunday can be found somewhere else, wherever and whenever we want it. Why wait?

The institutions have outlasted their original purpose. Most of our churches were built when populations were static. People didn't divorce, change jobs and move around like they do now. This mobility, combined with the diversification of networking opportunities, on-line and through other means, puts bricks-and-mortar institutions in an awkward spot of hoping people find them where they are. And much of the outreach efforts of church is still an attempt to get people "in the doors." But the fact is that most young adults don't particularly care.

Our understanding of community has changed. This builds on the previous point, actually. Community used to imply a specific geographic focus, like a church, country club or lodge. All of these kinds of institutions, incidentally, are not what they used to be. Our understanding of relationship is different, and what we come to expect out of being connected to one another has evolved (or mutated, depending on your point of view) in both size and content. For example, I am still in contact with hundreds of folks from my past who are all around the world. A few years ago, we would never have heard from each other again. But I also don't have many close friends. Everyone's too "busy." People are increasingly wary of investing their limited time and resources into anything new, including other people.
Read more

 

Evangelical leader: Mormonism will become a bigger issue for Romney
Dan Gilgoff       Apr.11, 2012

A top evangelical leader who is close to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign says the candidate's Mormon faith will be even more of an issue in the general election than it has been in the primary, predicting that the focus on Romney's faith will present a challenge to Romney.
 Richard Land is the public policy chief for the Southern Baptist Convention, the country's largest evangelical denomination.  . . . . "The 40% of electorate that's independent, most of them have no idea what Mormons believe," Land said. But they will all know what Mormons believe by the general election because the electronic national media by and large is the in the tank for Mr. Obama."
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Witness: Bevilacqua broke civil and church laws
John P. Martin and Joseph A. Slobodzian       Apr.13, 2012

Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua broke civil and church laws when he ordered aides in 1994 to shred a list identifying dozens of Philadelphia-area priests suspected of molesting children, an expert on canon law and clergy sex abuse testified Thursday.

"That was like obstructing justice cubed," the Rev. Thomas P. Doyle told a Common Pleas Court jury. "He's got a list of men who may have abused children - and he's going to shred it?"

The assertion thrust the late cardinal squarely into the spotlight for the first time in the landmark child-sex-abuse and endangerment trial against his former secretary for clergy, Msgr. William J. Lynn.
And though an attorney for Lynn strove to paint Bevilacqua as a bossy micromanager who dictated how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia handled abuse cases, Doyle wouldn't give Lynn a pass.
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Prosecution Puts the Archdiocese of Philadelphia On Trial
Ralph Cipriano       Apr.16, 2012

Shortly before court opened Monday, defense lawyer Jeff Lindy was trying to make a point with the judge before the jury entered the courtroom.

"The archdiocese isn't on trial, the monsignor is on trial," Lindy asserted.

At issue was whether the prosecution was justified in treating current employees of the archdiocese as hostile witnesses, as was the case last week when Bishop Robert P. Maginnis testified. The retired 78-year-old bishop, the former vicar of Montgomery County, didn't seem to have much of a memory on the witness stand. 
. . . .
"The archdiocese is not a hostile party, the archdiocese is not a party," Lindy argued. He was talking about the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. William J. Lynn, Edward V. Avery and James Brennan, now playing in Courtroom 304 of the Criminal Justice Center.
. . . .
It's an old rule that when a witness is killing you, get rid of him fast. The defense got rid of three witnesses Monday with a total of less than 15 minutes of cross-examination. But that was after the trio had inflicted heavy damage. 
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SNAP ordered to hand over wide range of abuse documents
 Joshua J. McElwee      Apr.20, 2012

A Missouri judge this afternoon (Friday) ordered the director of the leading advocacy group for victims of clergy sex abuse to give a second deposition and to turn over more documents to lawyers representing priests accused of sexual misconduct in the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese.

Lawyers representing at least four accused priests in the diocese will have access to a wide range of documents from the files of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). The judge ordered SNAP to handover nearly all its files "relating to sexual or other misconduct by priests in the diocese," and for SNAP director David Clohessy to undergo a second deposition.
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Church's suicide victims
Nick McKenzie, Richard Baker, Jane Lee  Apr.13, 2012

Confidential police reports have detailed the suicides of at least 40 people sexually abused by Catholic clergy in Victoria, and have urged a new inquiry into these and many other deaths suspected to be linked to abuse in the church.

In a damning assessment of the church's handling of abuse issues, the reports say it appears the church has known about a shockingly high rate of suicides and premature deaths but has "chosen to remain silent."
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Victoria to hold wide-ranging inquiry into church sex abuse cases
John Ferguson     Apr.17 2012

A wide-ranging inquiry into the handling of criminal abuse by religious organisations has been announced by the Baillieu government.

But the government rejected a royal commission and opted for a parliamentary investigation.

The terms of reference include whether there needs to be a legal overhaul to improve reporting processes and to better protect children.

The inquiry does not isolate the Catholic Church but includes all religions and also other non-government organisations.

The inquiry will have powers to compel witnesses to give evidence.
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New Byzantine bishop installed in Pittsburgh
AP      Apr.19 2012

Byzantine Catholics in America have a new leader who has been installed as archbishop in Pittsburgh.

Archbishop William Skurla was appointed by Pope Benedict XVI in January and enthroned as the Byzantine metropolitan archbishop of Pittsburgh on April 18, at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist in suburban Munhall.

Skurla replaces Metropolitan Basil Schott who died in June 2010.

Byzantine Catholics in America are loyal to the pope but have liturgical practices similar to Orthodox Christians.

As head of the Archeparchy of Pittsburgh, the 55-year-old Skurla will also head the church in the United States.
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Pontifical University in Peru rejects Vatican deadline
Apr.10, 2012

The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru says it refuses to comply with a Vatican deadline to reform its statutes until an unrelated legal dispute with the Archdiocese of Lima has been resolved.

As "of today there is no agreement on a comprehensive solution to the problems that exist," the university announced on its website April 9.

The university rector notified the Apostolic Nunciature in Peru on Monday that it would not convene an assembly to approve the reforms which were demanded by the Vatican as a condition for maintaining its status as a Catholic and Pontifical institution.

The Vatican had given the school until April 8 - later extending the deadline to April 13 upon the university's request - to comply, which marked the first time the Holy See has set such a deadline for a school to reform.
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Robert Blair Kaiser - Stories of Vatican II: 
The Human Side of the Council
American Program Bureau

As the 50th anniversary of the Catholic Church's historic Second Vatican Council approaches in 2012, author and journalist Robert Blair Kaiser-one of the last surviving eyewitness of Vatican II-offers an acute, informed account of this historic event, full of stories about the men and women who fought to update the Church.

Kaiser spent 18-hour days conducting interviews in an effort to illuminate what was going on inside and around the Council hall-which was closed to the press-and report it to the world. He shares delightful anecdotes about his experiences, including how he made friends among the Council's leaders, many of whom ended up in his home every week for Sunday supper, including more than 70 bishops from around the world, the Church's most prominent theologians, and a half dozen Protestant and Jewish observers.  . . . .

With a unique perspective as both a reporter and a witness, Robert Blair Kaiser illuminates the work of the Council between October 1962 and December 1965, while putting those events into context with the major problems confronting the Church, and the world at large, today.

Kaiser believes that the Council helped us all be more real, more human, and more loving; that it helped us realize that the world was a good place. He recalls what kind of Church we lived in before Vatican II, and what the Council did to change that-irreversibly.

Now is the time to bring Kaiser before your congregation, community, or organization, so they may learn firsthand about Vatican II, hear these fascinating stories from one of the foremost journalist/ theologians of our time, and see that the Council is not a dead letter from the past but a challenging charter for change.
Please call 800.225.4575 or contact us for more information on this speaker's speech topics.
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New Translation of the Roman Missal  

Sacrosanctum Consilium 50: 

The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.

We  recommend that you watch these sites during the transition to the new translation:
 
1.  Misguided Missal
(http://misguidedmissal.com/wp)
2.  U.S. Catholic; Special Section on the New Liturgy
(http://www.uscatholic.org/masschanges)
3.  PrayTell blog
(http://www.praytellblog.com)
4. Louisville Liturgy Forum
(http://liturgyforum.wordpress.com)

 

My, yours, ours: a prayer out of balance
Melissa Musick Nussbaum    Apr.16, 2012 

I've played with the font -- "my sacrifice and yours" -- and tinkered with the punctuation -- "my sacrifice, and yours" -- and still the words jar, like a mathematical equation in which the two parts are uneven, and, so, forever out of balance.

As issued by the church in 1975, the translation of the prayer at the presentation of the gifts reads, "Pray, brethren, that our sacrifice may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father." Going back to the sums analogy, "my and," or, plus, "yours" equals "ours." Why, then, did this part of the Mass need a new translation? My sacrifice and yours is our sacrifice.
. . . .
The rest of the prayer emphasizes God's goodness and our reception. Eucharistic Prayer I, the Roman canon, is laced with these bold declarations:

"We make humble prayer and petition," and "We offer you," and "We offer you this sacrifice of praise." It is "we," not "I" and "you."

The prayer continues:
"Lord, we pray: graciously accept this oblation of our service," and "We, your servants and your holy people, offer to your glorious majesty from the gifts that you have given us."

Based on frequency alone, it seems clear that the phrase "my sacrifice and yours" is the outlier, and the use of the words "we" and "our/s" is the standard. 
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 Upcoming Events

            Silent Vigil   April 29, 2012

We are Church Ireland announces a silent vigil in support of our silenced priests. The vigil will take place at the Apostolic Nunciature, 183 Navan Road, Dublin 7 on Sunday 29th April 2012 at 16.00 hours

             Towards an Assembly in the
Irish Catholic Church   May 7, 2012  
  
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) is organising a gathering to generate discussion about an Assembly in the Irish Catholic Church - a first effort at bringing people together to discuss the current state of the Church in Ireland; and hopefully to be the beginning of a process that will continue at all levels in the Church. It is set for 7 May from 10.30 am-4.30 pm in the Regency Hotel in Dublin.  
A full schedule for the day is available here.  
Register to attend the Assembly

  
A Retreat for Spiritual Activists
Pentecost Weekend   May 25 - 27, 2012 
Occupy Christianity, A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity.  Join Matthew Fox and others May 25 - 27, 2012, Boston, MA - Adelynrood Retreat Center, Byfield, MA.  
It is said that "the prophet is the mystic in action;" The goal of this retreat is to develop the mystic and prophet in all of us to carry on the important work of reimagining and rebirthing religion and spiritual community for the 21st century.  
To Register:  http://www.matthewfox.org
Questions: 510.835.0655

 

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