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ARCC News 04 May 2013

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John 14:27
Gospel for Sixth Sunday of Easter
 
Opinion: On Casting the First Stone
Robert Schutzius                                          May 2013
 

While we have rights as members of the Catholic Church, defending them is a tricky business and always entails self-examination.  Take the example of Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City MO who is on probation for failing to report child abuse.  The Catholics of KC certainly have a right to a trustworthy bishop. Opus Dei member, Bishop Finn, no longer has or deserves much confidence. They RIGHT-FULLY expect his resignation.  But before casting the first stone, a bit of perspective is in order. 

 

Keep in mind that every bishop of the Roman Catholic Church swears an oath of loyalty to the Catholic organizational system, and Opus Dei doubles-down on that oath.  So Bishop Finn was only being loyal to his oath to defend and protect the Church structure by shielding it from harm. He is indeed, judged very trustworthy by the system.  
 
Bishop Finn should resign on his own, thus honoring the rights of his people to a trustworthy leader. But then as long as Finn stays in office, he is a shining model for all to see that no civil authority, nor consensus of his Catholic people, can challenge the power and authority of Rome to secrecy, unaccountability, and absolute control.  
 
While there is absolutely nothing that the Catholics of KC can do about it, they may make the best of a bad situation.  He serves as a reminder to us all that any rights we might think we have, only exist in our own minds, or only at the pleasure of the hierarchy, unless we resist with a community based, well formed conscience, to the contrary. Bishop Finn reminds us that we have a long way to go before the Vatican II proclamation that "We are the Church" becomes a recognized and acknowledged reality. Don't bother picking up the first stone. Rather, claim the one right that you still have (and the one that they recognize well) - the right to find a better place to put your envelope.  
 
Bob Schutzius is an ARCC Presidential Advisor and Office Manager.  
 
Why I Remain Catholic
John A. Dick                                           Apr.30 2013
 
Last week, a friend asked why I put up with the Catholic Church.
 

On my seventieth birthday, I did a lot of re-thinking about my life and public posture and positions. I would like to be around for a few more years. My health is rather good for a corpulent old man; and longevity is characteristic in my paternal and maternal families. Nevertheless I know the clock is ticking for Jack, and now I more carefully state my positions and beliefs.

 

I am indeed a follower of Jesus Christ. I am far from perfect; but my life is anchored in his life and teachings and spirit. I am also a member of the Roman Catholic Church. That church educated me, opened me to contemporary life, and sill sustains me. It is not a perfect institution; but then no institution is perfect. Indeed I can write horror stories about the Roman Catholic b*****ds - bishops, priests - who over the years cheated and screwed me. Pious b*****ds! No other words can better describe them. Despicable human beings.

 

On the other hand, I have known and have been nourished and supported by some remarkable Roman Catholic lay people, women religious, ordained ministers, bishops, and cardinals. One cardinal saved my skin when another cardinal tried to screw me and get me thrown out of the church and fired. Another cardinal and an archbishop became my spiritual fathers and gave me human support and encouragement in particularly dark moments of my life. No small things. Great men! Great Catholics!

 

I went to Roman Catholic grade school, high school, college, and university. My education was excellent and my formation left me an informed and critical thinking believer. Not afraid to ask questions.

 

As a contemporary Catholic I remain particularly critical. The papal administrations of JPII and Benedict XVI were not healthy moments in the history of our church. What will happen under the most recently elected Bishop of Rome remains to be seen. Time will tell. Nevertheless I am not much of a papal person. (And I am an American anchored in the values expressed in the Declaration of Independence.) The age of absolute monarchs is over and gone. I am more a follower of Jesus of Nazareth than the Jesus of Rome.

 

I must also say I am very disappointed in and about the current group of US Roman Catholic Bishops. If they were in my theology classes, I think I would have to flunk them. Their knowledge of church history and their understanding of biblical exegesis is pathetic. Far too many of these men proclaim their ignorance with an offensive and demeaning arrogance that has no place in the community of faith.

 

But the Catholic Church remains my home. It is where I live and work. There are b*****ds in the church but they don't guide my life. There are also giants and wonderful women and men. Truly saints! I respect, appreciate, and admire them. And in the Catholic Church I have experienced more saints than b*****ds.

 

A number of my friends have left the Church of Rome. I understand what they have done and why. They have taken steps I chose not to take. They remain my good friends and sisters and brothers in the faith. One Lord, one Faith, One Baptism, one God who is Father (Mother) of all! Together we pursue the Truth. Together in respectful dialogue and fellowship.

 

And so we move on...in our pilgrimage. 

   
Jack Dick is Vice President of ARCC    
Some things we have been reading  
With Benedict's Return, Vatican Experiment Begins
Elisabetta Povoledo     May 2, 2013
 

When Benedict XVI, the pope emeritus, returned to Vatican City on Thursday, two months after his retirement, he inaugurated a living arrangement as unusual as it may be unpredictable. 

 

Will Pope Francis head to Benedict's new home, the Mater Ecclesiae Monastery, inside the Vatican walls, for heart-to-hearts with the one living man who understands the burdens of leading the world's more than one billion Roman Catholics? Will they casually bump into each other while strolling the landscaped gardens of the tiny sovereign state of Vatican City?

 

Or will they studiously avoid contact, to squelch any concerns about the potential influence - deliberate or not - that the retired pope may have on his successor?

 

"It's all a very new situation - there are no examples of any kind," said Roberto Rusconi, a church historian at Roma Tre University. He said the nuts and bolts of the cohabitation "will really depend on the new pope and how he chooses to develop the relationship.

Read more

When will this ever end?
Photo By TONY GENTILE/REUTERS      May 1, 2013
General Audience
Vatican seeks to temper major reform expectations
Associated Press     Apr.30, 2013

A top Vatican official sought Tuesday to temper expectations of an imminent reform of the Holy See's dysfunctional bureaucracy, even though Pope Francis has made clear it's a key priority.

 

Monsignor Angelo Becciu, under-secretary of the Vatican secretariat of state, said it was "absolutely premature to put forward any hypothesis" about the reform and that Francis was still in a "listening" and discerning phase.

 

Cardinals who elected Francis pope in March insisted that fixing the Curia, as the Vatican bureaucracy is known, was a top concern. They want the Vatican to be more efficient and responsive to the needs of church leaders in the field.

. . . .

Becciu also quashed speculation about an imminent reform or even closure of the Vatican bank, which has long been a source of scandal for the Holy See. Italian prosecutors opened an investigation in 2010 into a routine Vatican bank transaction that violated Italy's anti-money laundering laws, but they haven't charged the two officials placed under investigation and returned the 23 million euros ($33 million) initially seized.
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Furor grows over Newark archbishop's stance on priest banned from ministry with children
Mark Mueller      Apr.30, 2013
 

Amid calls for a Vatican investigation, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers came under fierce criticism Monday for his handling of a priest who attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors in defiance of a lifetime ban on ministry to children.

 

At the Monmouth County church where the Rev. Michael Fugee had been spending time with a youth group, angry parishioners said they were never told about Fugee's background and they questioned Myers' defense of the priest, the subject of a lengthy story in the Sunday Star-Ledger.

. . . .

For the first time in his many years as an advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse, Mark Crawford, New Jersey director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on the archbishop to resign, characterizing Fugee as the latest in a string of problem priests shielded by Myers.

 

"The archbishop continues to insist it's fine for Fugee to work with children. It's a very dangerous message," Crawford said. "When will it be enough? When someone gets hurt? What does it take when you have a man who has admitted groping a child on more than one occasion?"

Read more
Priest calls on Vatican to investigate Newark Archbishop John J. Myers
Mark Mueller     Apr.29, 2013
 

An influential Wisconsin priest who advocates for victims of sexual abuse has called on the Vatican to investigate whether Newark Archbishop John J. Myers violated canon law in his handling of a clergyman who continues to work with minors despite a lifetime ban.

 

The Rev. James Connell, the former vice chancellor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, aired his concerns in a letter he emailed this morning to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican office that has dealt with allegations of sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Connell, a canon lawyer, wrote the letter after reading a Sunday Star-Ledger story about the Rev. Michael Fugee, who is barred from working with minors under a 2007 agreement with law enforcement. 

Read more

Religion News Roundup 
David Gibson              May 3, 2013
 

The Rev. Michael Fugee, the New Jersey priest under fire for working with children despite a legal ban, has resigned.


The archbishop who allowed the priest to minister despite the ban is still in office. And the archdiocese has reversed course and now says they did not know about Fugee's activities with kids and that it was in fact against the law - contrary to what they had been saying.


Read Mark Mueller's story at the Star-Ledger and you may be able to figure it out. Bill Donohue of the Catholic League may be trying to figure it out too, after his full-throated defense of Myers.  Our own Mark Silk 

deconstructed that one.

 

Some, like Kevin O'Brien (via Frank Weathers), are not happy about the bishops, and they don't mince words:
"It is not surprising that our shepherds fall short of the high standards of the Christian Faith. It is surprising that they don't even rise to the low standards of the secular world."


Ouch.


Rhode Island, the most Catholic state in the country, becomes the 10th to legalize gay marriage. Bishops not happy.


Maryland, a historically Catholic state with a Catholic governor, becomes the 18th to ban the death penalty. Bishops happy.


Speaking of bishops: One Vatican now housing two popes. Is it warm in here or is it just me?


Our own Alessandro Speciale has the details of Benedict XVI's return, but the New Yorker's Andy Borowitz has the inside scoop:

 

VATICAN: Pope Francis Tells Pope Benedict to Stop Rolling His Eyes in Meetings nyr.kr/10ZmS6F 
- Andy Borowitz (@BorowitzReport) May 2, 2013
 

Speaking of popes on Twitter, Francis is making the most of 140 characters, and not everyone in the business world is happy.
. . . .
Ever try to figure out your Catholic teenager? Mark Gray at CARA has some stats that could help. The rest is up to you... 

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Deal in works to save Bronzeville church?
Ron Grossman,      Apr.30, 2013
 

With the dispute over the proposed demolition of St. James Church on dockets in both Cook County and Vatican City, Chicago's Catholic Archdiocese hinted at the possibility of a settlement with preservationists fighting to save the 133-year-old Bronzeville building.

  

Asked if a compromise might be in the offing, Thomas Kennedy, the archdiocese's real estate manager, replied by email: "There are many ongoing conversations about the preservation of the St. James Church building."

. . . . 

The suit also alleges that the decree that authorized St James' demolition - technically providing for its "reduction to profane use" - was invalid because it is not signed by Cardinal Francis George. When it was issued, he was in Rome for the papal conclave.

Peter Borre, the parishioners' Boston-based canon-law adviser, said colleagues in Rome have filed papers with the Vatican asking that George be issued the canon-law equivalent of an injunction forbidding St James' demolition until the plaintiffs' case can be heard.

. . . . 

[Lead litigant Eileen] Quigley is heartened by the thought that archdiocese officials could be looking for a way out of the stand-off. "They underestimated the people in the pews," she said. 

Read more

A troubling poll: 7 in 10 support death penalty for Boston Marathon bomber
Elizabeth Lefebvre      May 1, 2013
 

In the two weeks since the Boston Marathon bombings, the police captured suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and as progress has been made to start his trial, the city has started to move forward in healing. However, a poll released this morning indicates that 7 in 10 people would support the death penalty for Tsarnaev, should he be convicted.

 

Though support for the death penalty has in general been declining over the years, it's not necessarily surprising that support would increase in a case such as this one. As ABC News points out, nearly 75 percent of people supported the death penalty for Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh.

 

Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley said the weekend after the bombings: "Forgiveness does not mean that we do not realize the heinousness of the crime. But in our own hearts when we are unable to forgive we make ourselves a victim of our own hatred. Obviously as a Catholic I oppose the death penalty, which I think is one further manifestation of the culture of death in our midst."

 

What greater good can be served by ending yet another life? The reason that the bombing, and other acts like it, is reprehensible to us is due in large part to the fact that people lost their lives and were put in danger of death. A quest for revenge can be fulfilled by capital punishment, but revenge differs greatly from justice and forgiveness. 

Read more

death penalty
  
Lay Catholics Are Changing the Hierarchy's Position on Same-Sex Relationships
Francis DeBernardo & Sr Jeannine Gramick      Apr.29, 2013
 

In 2003, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was then prefect of the Roman Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, wrote that "respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions."

 

Ten years later, the Catholic hierarchy may be in the process of repudiating the teaching of its former pope. In an interview with a Costa Rican newspaper recently, Archbishop Piero Marini, president of the Pontifical Committee for International Eucharistic Congresses, told a reporter that society should "recognize the union of persons of the same sex, because there are many couples that suffer because their civil rights aren't recognized."

 

His comments came on the heels of an interview in which Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, the Archbishop of Vienna and editor of The Catechism of the Catholic Church, said: "There can be same-sex partnerships and they need respect, and even civil law protection."

. . . .
Faced with mounting evidence that the hierarchy is rapidly losing influence in Europe and the Americas, and alienating the faithful in the process, some leading bishops are seeking to soften the hard line that Benedict XVI drew when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger. Their argument --articulated by prelates from Colombia, France, Italy, Germany, the United Kingdom, the United States and within the Vatican itself -- is that marriage, even civil marriage, must be defined as a relationship between one man and one woman, but that legal recognition of same-sex relationships is permissible or even desirable.

. . . . 

Reform-minded Catholics are often told that the church is not a democracy. In the conventional political sense, that may be true. But the church ministers in democracies. And in country after country, Catholic voters have gone to the polls, ignored the often heavy-handed lobbying of their bishops, and voted in favor of marriage equality, or legislators who support marriage equality. They are changing the teachings of the church by changing the culture in which the church functions.

 

Pope Francis himself has participated in this trend. In 2010, with the Argentine government poised to write marriage equality into law, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio urged his fellow bishops to support civil unions as a compromise. His colleagues rejected this strategy, and the future pope led a futile campaign to persuade voters in that heavily Catholic country to discriminate against same-sex couples.

. . . .

The choice before our bishops now is whether to continue a divisive battle that will only diminish their own authority, or to follow where the laity has led.
Read more

Women Catholic deacons 'no longer taboo' 
The Local       Apr.29, 2013
 

Archbishop of Freiburg Robert Zollitsch, who chairs the German Bishops' Conference, called for the change at the end of a four-day meeting to discuss possible reforms. 

The conference, the first of its kind, invited 300 Roman Catholic experts to propose reforms. Zollitsch's comments echo year-long calls from the Central Committee of German Catholics to permit women to become deacons. On Sunday, Zollitsch said that aim was no longer a 'taboo.'

. . . .

While reform might be slow to come, the sentiments expressed at the conference are a signal to many that change is on the way. "I have never experienced a process of strategy development as transparent as this one," said Thomas Berg, of the Baden-Württemberg Leadership Academy, who attended the conference.  

Read more

Argentina's 'Grandmothers' Ask Pope Francis To Help Find Disappeared Children
Associated Press.     Apr.26 2013
 

Almost 40 years ago, their grandchildren were taken from political prisoners during the country's 1976-83 military dictatorship in Argentina. 

 

Now, members of of the Argentine human rights group "Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo" asked Pope Francis for help finding still-missing children- and said the pontiff told them they could count on him.

. . . .

The babies - some were abducted along with their parents, others were born in captivity - were mainly given to army families or supporters of the military regime, according to a government report titled "Never Again." In many cases, the infants' names were changed.

 

The "Grandmothers" group has been marching every Thursday since 1977 in the Plaza de Mayo, the main square in front of Argentina's Government House, to demand answers about the whereabouts of the missing.

Read more
Ex-Catholic has no right to keep his Church job, German court rules
Tom Heneghan     Apr.26, 2013
 

Germany's top labor court ruled on Thursday the country's Catholic charity network had the right to fire an employee who quit the Church in protest against the sexual abuse crisis and disputed decisions by ex-Pope Benedict.

 

The 60-year-old teacher, challenging his 2011 dismissal, had claimed his constitutional right to freedom of opinion trumped the Church's right to employ only Catholics who agreed with the religious mission of their jobs.

 

He said that his work at Caritas Germany tutoring grade-school children did not deal with religion and that pupils of all faiths were welcome there.

. . . .

The court decision was based on the loyalty requirement in the defendant's contract and not on the views that led him to leave the Church. 

Read more

Cardinal O'Brien scandal: No to new Scots bishops
Scotsman      Apr.27, 2013
 

The Catholic Church of Scotland is facing fresh scrutiny after the Vatican ordered a halt to the appointment of new Scottish bishops until an investigation into Cardinal Keith O'Brien is complete.  

  • No new Scottish bishops are to be appointed until an investigation into Cardinal Keith O'Brien has been completed
  • The Vatican order comes as Catholic Church comes to terms with Cardinal O'Brien's resignation earlier this year amid allegations of inappropriate sexual behaviour

. . . .

Three dioceses - Paisley, Dunkeld and Edinburgh - will remain without a bishop as a result of Cardinal [Marc] Ouellet's order.

 

The Congregation of Bishops, headed by Cardinal Ouellet, has instructed the Pope's ambassador in the UK to continue gathering evidence on Cardinal O'Brien.

 

It also wants an inquiry into revelations made by a serving priest in Lanarkshire, Father Matthew Despard, of the existence of a "gay mafia", sexual bullying and open sexual relationships in the Catholic Church. 

Read more

Cardinal ordered into exile by Vatican 
Gerry Braiden   May 4, 2013
 
Cardinal Keith O'Brien has been told by the Vatican to leave the UK amid concerns of wreaking further damage on the Catholic Church in Scotland.
 

Friends of the cleric have said he has been told by Rome to shelve his plans to retire to a church-owned cottage in East Lothian and instead leave the country.

 

The Herald understands Cardinal O'Brien was given the news yesterday afternoon, three days after being photographed moving his personal belongings from his official residence in Edinburgh to the residence in Dunbar where he had been spending regular weekends over the past few years.

. . . .

Investigations also continue into claims made by a serving priest in Lanarkshire of a "gay mafia" running seminaries in the 1980s and naming leading Catholic figures.

 

The Herald revealed on Thursday Archbishop of Glasgow Philip Tartaglia was behind an appeal to the Vatican to intervene after Cardinal O'Brien's re-emergence in Scotland this week.

Read more

'Nuns On The Bus' Will Hit The Road For Immigration Reform 
David Gibson     May 1, 2013
 

The "Nuns on the Bus" are revving up their engines for another national campaign, only this time the Catholic sisters are taking their mobile platform for social justice along the country's Southern border to push Congress to pass immigration reform.


"The 'Nuns on the Bus' is going on the road again!" Sister Simone Campbell, head of the social justice lobby Network, told an enthusiastic gathering of faith leaders and charity activists at a Manhattan awards ceremony Wednesday (May 1).


"This time we're going out for common-sense immigration reform," she said to rousing applause.


Details of the latest tour are still to be announced, but the bus trip is expected to start at the end of the month, beginning in New York and winding up in California by way of Florida and the U.S. border with Mexico. The tour is to last about three weeks and comes at a crucial time for a potentially historic immigration reform bill that has run into roadblocks in Congress despite largely bipartisan support.  

Read more

Pope Francis to meet privately with international sisters 
Joshua J. McElwee       May 3, 2013
 

Pope Francis is scheduled to have a private audience next week with the leadership group representing international women's congregations meeting in Rome for their triennial assembly, the group announced Friday.

 

About 800 of nearly 2,000 members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) are meeting in Rome through Wednesday. They will meet privately with Pope Francis before his regular Wednesday general audience.

Leaders of the sisters' group, which announced the meeting with the pope at a pre-assembly meeting Friday, could not recall the last time a pope had met with their general membership. 

Read more

LCWR head to global sisters: 'Serious misunderstandings' with Vatican
Joshua J. McElwee     May 4, 2013
 

"Serious misunderstandings" exist between Vatican officials and Catholic sisters, the head of the U.S. sisters' group that was ordered to place itself under the review of bishops told some 800 of her global peers Saturday.

Franciscan Sr. Florence Deacon, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), addressed the sisters during the plenary assembly of the International Union of Superiors General, a group of nearly 2,000 leaders of women religious throughout the world.

 

Deacon's remarks constituted LCWR's most public narrative of their relations with the Vatican. Citing a need to continue dialog with the Vatican, the group has kept a tight lip on their discussions.

 

In a detailed, 20-minute address, Deacon outlined for her peers how her group, which represents about 80 percent of the some 57,000 U.S. sisters, had been ordered to revise itself last April by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

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The Mind of Francis: Denying Communion
Thomas Reese      Apr.30, 2013
 

In On Heaven and Earth, the book he co-authored with Rabbi Abraham Skorka, Cardinal Bergoglio wrote, "One could deny communion to a public sinner who has not repented, but it is very difficult to check such things."

. . . . 

At the same time, Bergoglio said it would be wrong for someone to receive Communion who "rather than uniting the people to God, warps the lives of many people." Such a person "cannot receive communion; it would be a complete contradiction."

 

In the book, the Communion issue came up not in the context of abortion, but of injustice. He referred to those "who have not only killed intellectually or physically, but also have killed indirectly through the poor use of resources by paying unjust wages." He called them hypocrites because "in public they may form welfare societies, but they do not pay their employees a wage corresponding to their work or they hire them 'under the table.' "

. . . . 

Archbishop Bergoglio was especially suspicious of "pretend" Catholics who were public figures looking for a photo op at the Communion rail. In such circumstances, "I do not give communion myself; I stay back and I let the ministers give it because I do not want those people to come to me for the photo op." 

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Oops! 

Oops1

Oops2

Mother Theresa's Masochism: Does Religion Demand Suffering to Keep People Passive?
Valerie Tarico      Apr.28, 2013
 

In the last century, no one icon has improved the Catholic brand as much as the small woman who founded the Missionaries of Charity, whose image aligns beautifully with that of the new pope. In March a team of Canadian researchers noted the opportunity: "What could be better than beatification followed by canonization of [Mother Teresa] to revitalize the Church and inspire the faithful, especially at a time when churches are empty and the Roman authority is in decline?"

 

The question, however, was more than a little ironic. The team of academics  from the Universities of Montreal and Ottawa set out to do research on altruism. In the process, they reviewed over 500 documents about Mother Teresa's life and compiled an array of disturbing details about the soon-to-be saint, including dubious political connections and questionable management of funds-and, in particular, an attitude toward suffering that could give pause to even her biggest fans.  

. . . .

Mother Teresa's outlook on suffering played out in her order's homes for the sick and dying, which doctors have described as deficient in hygiene, care, nutrition, and painkillers. Miami resident Hemley Gonzalez was so shocked by his volunteer experience that he has founded an accountable charity to provide better care. "Needles were washed in cold water and reused and expired medicines were given to the inmates. There were people who had chance to live if given proper care," . . . "I have decided to go back to Kolkata to start a charity that will be called 'Responsible Charity.' Each donation will be made public and professional medical help will be given," Gonzalez said after returning to the U.S. He also launched a Facebook page called, "Stop the Missionaries of Charity." 

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Pope accepts Peres' invitation to Israel
Philip Pullella     Apr.30, 2013
 

Israeli President Shimon Peres invited Pope Francis on Tuesday to visit Israel, at his first meeting with the new pontiff who has appealed for peace in the Middle East.

The pope accepted the invitation "with willingness and joy," a Vatican spokesman said, but there was no indication when a trip would be made.

 

"I am expecting you in Jerusalem, not just me but the whole country of Israel," Peres told the pope in the presence of reporters after 30 minutes of private talks in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

. . . .

A Vatican statement said they discussed prospects for a resumption of negotiations for a solution that would respect "the legitimate aspirations of the two Peoples, thus decisively contributing to the peace and stability of the region".

 

They also agreed on the need for a political solution to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

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Religious leaders push for kidnapped bishops' release
Michele Chabin|      Apr.30, 2013
 

Religious leaders from around the world have stepped up their pleas for the safe return of two Syrian bishops who were kidnapped April 22 by armed men as they were driving near the war-torn city of Aleppo.

 

The kidnappers, who have not been identified, abducted Greek Orthodox Metropolitan Boulos Yazigi and Syriac Orthodox Metropolitan Youhanna Ibrahim, both of Aleppo, while they were undertaking a "humanitarian mission" to help Syria's Christian minority, according to Syrian Christian expatriates in the U.S.

. . . .

In a statement over the weekend, the Organization of Islamic Cooperation called for the bishops' "immediate and unconditional" release.

. . . .

The OIC's statement followed earlier pleas by the Greek, Syrian and Melkite churches, as well as Pope Francis, who asked that the bishops "be returned quickly to their communities." 

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Church elders front abuse inquiry
ABC News      Apr.29, 2013
 

Leigh Sales, presenter: Relatives and victims of countless cases of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church have waited years to hear the Church's leaders explain their handling of the scandal.

 

Today, Church elders finally stepped up to faced questions at a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria.

Among them were the leaders of the Ballarat Diocese, where there've been 116 substantiated cases of abuse, 67 of them committed by a single priest. There've also been up to 50 suicides as a result.

 

This afternoon, the Ballarat Diocese revealed that not one of these cases was reported to police and victims groups remain outraged as they await the Federal Government's Royal Commission.

Transcript

Pope Compares Bangladesh Factory Workers To 'Slave Labor'
Krishnadev Calamur     May 1, 2013
 

Pope Francis has equated the wages paid to Bangladeshi workers who died in last week's building collapse to "slave labor."

 

More than 400 people were killed in the April 24 collapse of the Rana Plaza building outside Dhaka; the building housed several garment factories that made products for Western brands.

 

News reports say that workers at the factories housed in the building were paid about 38 euros a month (about $50).

 

"This was the payment of these people who have died," the pope said, according to Vatican Radio. "And this is called 'slave labor!' "

 

Francis' comments came at a Mass Wednesday to mark the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.

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Pope Francis takes sharp shot at greedy profiteers 
Thomas C. Fox       May 3, 2013
 

Pope Francis awakened the global financial establishment Thursday he will not be shy in criticizing greed and the greedy, especially when that greed comes at significant cost to the poor of the world.

In the 30th tweet of his pontificate, a tweet being called "the tweet heard around the world," Francis wrote: "My thoughts turn to all who are unemployed, often as a result of a self-centered mindset bent on profit at any cost."

 

The tweet came just one day after Francis decried "slave labor" conditions of workers in many parts of the world.  

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ANALYSIS: Will former Palin adviser help or hurt bishops' media woes?
David Gibson      Apr.30, 2013
 

A former adviser to Sarah Palin and an attorney with a long record of advocating conservative causes, will become the first spokeswoman for the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the USCCB announced Monday (April 29). 

 

The addition of Kim Daniels, who is a leader of the conservative media lobby, Catholic Voices USA, seems aimed at revamping the hierarchy's communications strategy, which many bishops say has been hampered by a lack of coordination and an authoritative spokesperson.

 

Under the new structure, Daniels will speak for the president of the bishops' conference - currently New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan - while the USCCB's media office will continue to speak for the bishops as a whole.

Daniels' hiring also looks like an effort to satisfy Dolan's goal of finding an "attractive, articulate, intelligent" laywoman to help recast the hierarchy's image, which many feared was starting to be seen as unfriendly to women because of legal battles like the fight against the Obama administration's contraception mandate.

 . . . . 

 Daniels - who also did legal work for the McCain campaign, according to The New York Times- was described as "Palin's personal domestic policy czar" in 2010 and prepared daily briefings and speeches for her. But Palin has continued to alienate herself from all but her most loyal fans on the movement's right flank, and it is not clear where Daniels' relationship with Palin stands today.

. . . . 

Yet Daniels, a mother of six, will also have to be credible, which means she would need to have a clear mandate. Daniels will work under the USCCB's general secretary, Monsignor Ronny Jenkins, not in the USCCB's media shop.

 

"Kim Daniels is not in the Communications Department," Sister Mary Ann Walsh, who has been the main spokeswoman for the bishops, said in an email. "As head of the USCCB Office for Media Relations I speak to the media in that capacity."

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A search for 'a spark of hope' in the underground
Robert McClory      May 1, 2013
 
Notes from the Underground: The Spiritual Journey of a Secular Priest

By Donald Cozzens
Published by Orbis Books, $20

 

Donald CozzensIn Notes From the Underground, he [Fr. Donald Cozzens] expresses his very personal exasperation as he surveys the bleak landscape of a church that is coming apart at the seams. And he sees himself as "likely to live out my years in the underground, holding fast to the hope of a renewed and reformed church envisioned by Pope John XXIII."

 . . . . 

But despite this season of euphoria, we have no guarantees the new spring will last, and sections of the book may well serve as a cautionary note or at least a sobering reminder of what Francis has to overcome. Cozzens writes with passion about "Vatican policies and directives that [have] ignored the lived experiences of ordinary men and women ... with a Vatican that [has] insisted gay and lesbian Catholics were 'disordered' and had no right to fall in love ... and with hierarchs that [have] shrugged off the voices -- muted voices though they were -- of discouraged priests." It is the hierarchy obsessed with "pelvic issues," he writes, that has created "the current atmosphere of suspicion and accusation."

It will be some time before the full church has a sense of whether this is a false spring or the real one.

 

More importantly, a substantial part of the book provides Cozzens' advice on living with integrity in uncertain times. He discusses in some detail the distinction between faith and belief. 

. . . .

Faith's essential core is trust, Cozzens says, "a conviction without proof that the mystery we call God is good, that creation is holy, and that we are called to live in right relationship with one another." Faith in his view is "a cry of the heart, a brave act of trust, a conviction that we are beloved, that we are saved."

. . . .

His other powerful theme is the importance of intimacy and transcendence. He returns again and again to theologian Walter Brueggemann's definition of table fellowship as "serious conversation leading to blessed communion." Those words have become a kind of mantra for Cozzens (and for this book as well). 

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The Good Bishop: The Life of Walter F. Sullivan
Phyllis Theroux (Author)     Publication Date: May 1, 2013
 

An inspiring portrait of a bishop renowned for his qualities as a pastor, a leader, and a human being. 


Bishop Walter SullivanWalter F. Sullivan retired in 2003 after twenty-nine years as bishop of the Richmond, Virginia diocese. As one of the great generation of bishops appointed by Pope Paul VI, he was famous for his pastoral leadership and his prophetic role as a champion of peace and social justice.  Guiding his flock through the tumultuous post-Vatican II years, he brought a human touch to his role, reaching across boundaries to foster a spirit of ecumenism, encouraging the gifts of the laity, and reaching out to prisoners and those on the margins. In the 1980s he acquired a national reputation as one of the leading peace bishops, standing up against the climate of cold war and warning against the nuclear threat. In this biography by renowned author Phyllis Theroux, Bishop Sullivan emerges as a complex human being, who struggled faithfully to lead the church with integrity, compassion, and love. 

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Patriotism As the False Sacred
Richard Rohr      May 1, 2013
 

Jesus showed no undue loyalty either to his Jewish religion nor to his Roman-occupied Jewish country; instead, he radically critiqued both of them, and in that he revealed and warned against the idolatrous relationships that most people have with their country and their religion. It has allowed us to justify violence in almost every form and to ignore much of the central teaching of Jesus.  

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Harrisburg Bishop McFadden dies attending bishops' meeting in PA. 
Catholic News Service     May2, 2013 
 

Bishop Joseph P. McFadden of Harrisburg died May 2 in Philadelphia where he was attending a meeting of Pennsylvania's Catholic bishops.


According to a Facebook posting from the diocese, Bishop McFadden awoke at the rectory where he was staying and felt ill. He was taken to a hospital and was pronounced dead at about 7:40 a.m.


No cause of death was immediately available. He was 65 and had been the bishop of Harrisburg for three years. He was also chairman of the U.S. bishops' Committee on Catholic Education.  

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Harrisburg opening sets scene as papal indicator
Thomas C. Fox      May 4, 2013
 

The death May 2 of Bishop Joseph McFadden, who headed the Harrisburg Diocese since August 2010, hands Pope Francis a unique opportunity to choose a U.S. bishop of his personal liking.

 

Church observers will watch carefully what happens in the Pennsylvania diocese in the coming months. It will send signals throughout the church.

 

Unlike the three episcopal appointments Francis has already made for U.S. dioceses, -- appointments of men already in the Vatican hopper before his election-- the opening in Harrisburg provides a chance for the pope to oversee the entire episcopal appointment process.

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Boston priest named bishop of Oakland
Matthai Kuruvila      May 3, 2013

Pope Francis named a Boston priest with longtime ties to the Bay Area as the bishop of Oakland, where the future bishop emphasized that he would lead a path more pastoral than political.

 

Until now, Rev. Michael Barber had been the director of spiritual formation at a Boston seminary. In his first comments to diocesan staff in Oakland on Friday, Barber spoke of spending time in soup kitchens serving food, washing dishes, visiting jails and otherwise "getting my hands dirty." 

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Important Message to ACP leadership from our Solicitor
Association of Catholic Priests      Apr.30, 2013
 

We have received the following from the ACP solicitor, Robert Dore, and he has asked us to inform all the members of the ACP. The message goes as follows:


"Recently I have been consulted by a number of priests who are members of the Association.


Prior to meeting with me they have been requested by their bishops to undergo assessments, and they have all done so.


To a man the findings of these assessments have been hugely prejudicial.


It is my earnest advice that, in future, should any of your members be asked to undergo an assessment, and if they are minded to do so, they should insist on being assessed by a completely independent eminent professional, preferably a psychiatrist."


And the letter is signed by Robert Dore.
We thank Robert for this very important advice. 

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Letter Sent to Bishops on April 30th by the ACP
Association of Catholic Priests      May 1,2013 
 

On Wednesday, February 20, 2013, about 250 priests ­ members of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) ­ met in Athlone to discuss the challenges faced by priests in Ireland today.


During a discussion on the rights of priests, the meeting was reminded that the 1971 Synod on Justice produced the document, the Practice of Justice, which emphasised that the Catholic Church must act justly towards all its members, if it to have credibility in preaching on Justice.


The Synod document stressed that everyone has a right to suitable freedom of expression and thought and affirms that in any form of judicial procedure the accused should have the right to know his accusers and also the right to a proper defence.


Seán McDonagh proposed the following motion:
In the light of the above teaching from the Synod of Bishop in 1971, we the undersigned ask the Irish Bishops¹ Conference to meet, as soon as possible, with those Irish priests who have been censured by the Vatican in recent years.  

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Vatican fresco cleaning reveals images of native Americans
John Thavis      Apr.28, 2013
 

A detail of a fresco by the Renaissance artist Pinturicchio, discovered during restoration work in the Vatican Museums, depicts men dressed only in feathered headdresses who appear to be dancing, and another on horseback.

 

The painting was completed in 1494, shortly after Christopher Columbus returned from the New World with a detailed description of natives who painted themselves, danced and gave gifts of parrots.

 

For hundreds of years, the frescoed figures were hiding in plain sight - sort of. They are part of the background in a lunette fresco titled "The Resurrection," noted for its depiction of Pope Alexander VI, the infamous Rodrigo Borgia, who was elected in 1492.

 

The detail was obscured by centuries of soot and grime, and came to life only recently when the fresco underwent a careful cleaning by Museum experts.

 

Vatican Museum director Antonio Paolucci announced the discovery in an article published April 27 by the Vatican newspaper. He stopped short of saying definitively that the figures depicted American Indians, but the newspaper headline was less cautious, proclaiming: "Here is the first image of the native Americans described by Columbus."

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Vatican and Argentina Issue Joint Postage Stamps Honoring Pope Francis 
Kathy Schiffer       May 1, 2013
 

StampsA four-stamp collector's set of stamps, each featuring a photographic image of Pope Francis, has been issued jointly by the Vatican City State and Argentina.  The set marks the beginning of the new pope's pontificate, and includes four different stamps with the values of €0.70 (for mail to Italy); €0.85 (for Europe); €2.00 (for mailing to Africa, Asia, the Americas); and €2.50 (for Oceania).  Only 250,000 sets will be printed.  

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Knights grateful for Gonzaga student group status 
Carl Bunderson       May 2,, 2013
 

The Knights of Columbus applauded a decision by Gonzaga University to grant them recognition as a sponsored organization after their application to be acknowledged as a student club was denied.

. . . .

On April 30, Gonzaga president Thayne McCulloh granted the Knights of Columbus status as a student club, after an earlier decision by the school's student life office suggested that they would not be granted this recognition. 

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Woman embalmed, bronzed in favorite pew
     

Longtime church-goer Gert Rizzoli was so devoted to her spot in the pew at Featherside Congregational church that when she passed away last month, her family received permission to bronze her body and set it in the pew. Now, to the consternation of some church members, her body is permanently located in the aisle seat she occupied every Sunday for forty years.

. . . .

When church members enter the sanctuary now, they can't help but catch the glare of light off of Gert's bronzed pate. Visitors find it inconvenient to climb over her, and children have stubbed their toes on her hardened shins.

"She was a Christ-like lady, except when it came to giving up that spot," says a family friend. "She had a real sense of her turf. To her, it was like the Israelites: Once you get land, you don't give it up."

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 "Lumen Gentium, God's Pilgrim People." 
 
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