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ARCC News 20 January 2014

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Changing Power Relationships
Caridad Inda, CHM, Ph.D.                                          January 2014
 

When the American Catholic Council Institute on Nonviolent Action for Church Reform was established,  its first activity was an online  pilot program entitled  Changing Power Relationships.  Dr. Caridad Inda was asked to structure and present the course. The participants were invited to engage in study and dialogue around nonviolent action as a tool of resistance against injustice as it exists in the governance of the Catholic Church. 

 

Gene SharpThe works of Dr. Gene Sharp(Senior Scholar at The Albert Einstein Institution in Boston,MA) formed the basis  of the curriculum with additional resources as indicated by the course designer.  . . . .

. . . . 

The first session was a summary presentation of the key ideas summarizing nonviolent action.  The three points to remember are that

1. Every hierarchical structure depends on the obedience of the governed.

2. Obedience is voluntary

3.  If enough of the oppressed resist for a long enough period of time the structure changes or collapses. 

. . . .

The second session presented The Strategic Estimate and its Role in Nonviolent Resistance.

 

Strategic estimate is a term borrowed from the military, but it is also a common sense activity.  When we are getting ready to act, to defend, to respond to aggression, we need to know how strong we are, and how strong the other side is.  We need to understand what "dependency balance" is about: for what do we, the resisters, depend on the adversary's strengths and tactics and for what the adversary depends on the nonviolent struggle group.  This is vital information since we are about countering and diminishing the power of our adversary.

 

The purpose of the strategic estimate, then, is to have an idea, a data base, the more detailed the better, of the strengths and weaknesses of both the nonviolent action group and its chosen adversary, in our case the Vatican, at the level of management.

. . . .

The third session discussed obedience and the creation of an alternative structure based on the principles of nonviolent action.  The creation of alternative structures comes late in the process but it will not be possible for us to detail all the steps in this presentation.

  

In his chapter on ObedienceRobert Helvey (On Strategic Nonviolent Conflict: Thinking about the Fundamentals) reminds us that obedience is at the heart of political power.  As Gandhi said, "A ruler cannot rule if the people do not obey."  And the readings for today emphasize that "it is this insight upon which strategies for nonviolent struggle are based."

. . . .  

However, what might be the perspective of those who have experienced what they perceived as injustice or perhaps actual abuse  from the hierarchy or Rome-experiences such as those referred to by S. Sandra Schneiders in Chapter 4 of her book Prophets In Their Own Country, published by Orbis Books in 2011?  . . . .

There have been instances in which the Vatican has framed acts of power as legitimate requests for change.  Within my experience is the attempt by Vatican officials to violate the consciences of 24 women religious who in 1984 signed the New York Times ad asking for an honest discussion of the issue of abortion.  I was one of the 24.  There are instances where no person or organization is humbled by the directive but the impact is nonetheless intended to be and, in fact, actually functions as a lesson in docility and knee-jerk obedience.  Closer to our day we have the translation of the Mass which has been imposed by the Vatican on all English-speaking peoples.  What is this but another example of an act of power framed as a liturgical change designed to force people to recognize the power of Rome?   

. . . .

Sharp suggests three kinds of "arms" to carry on the struggle: 1) protest and persuasion, 2) social, economic and political noncooperation and 3) intervention. He also points out that the substance of nonviolence is unbelievably simple: to do things or acts we generally don't do; to refuse to do things we generally do, and/or a combination of both.  

. . . .  

 In her analysis of the senior management of the Church, Dr. Paula Welldone summarizes what she calls the impracticality of obedience and of change from within.  "In my view, the Church (read the hierarchy) has for centuries manipulated Catholic thought to such a degree that many, if not most, Catholics equate obedience to Church (Vatican) with obedience to God... In sum, loyalty, obedience, communication and relationship with God have been profoundly supplanted by loyalty, obedience and relationship with the Church, and by extension its priests, bishops and popes. . . . .
 

 "I posit that many American Catholics are seriously deluded about the nature of the resistance to change in the Church.  We act as if polite, legally-crafted petitions (signatures/postcards) or laws themselves will produce changed hearts and minds... To believe that sooner or later right-minded Vatican leaders will agree to make needed changes is folly.  But it is also understandable."

 

 Dr. Sharp´s readings offer another viewpoint.  He reminds us of Gandhi´s insight: The ruler cannot govern if the subjects do not obey.  The subjects need to learn how to reduce the ruler´s power, not how to keep on his good side.

 
Session Four presented  Dr. Sharp's - Sources Of Political Power And Strategic Thinking.
 . . . .

Dr. Sharp posits six sources of political power:

 1. Authority - the belief among the people that the regime is legitimate, and they have a moral duty to obey it

 2. Human resources - the number and importance of the persons and groups which are obeying, cooperating, or providing assistance to the rulers

 3. Skills and knowledge --  needed by the regime to perform specific actions and supplied by the cooperating persons and groups

4. Intangible factors - psychological, cultural and ideological factors that may induce people to obey and assist the rulers

 5. Material resources - the degree to which the rulers control or have access to property, natural resources, financial resources, the economic system, and means of communication and transportation

 6. Sanctions - punishments, threatened or applied, against the disobedient and noncooperative to ensure the submission and cooperation that are needed for the regime to exist and carry out its policies

Read more  

Ed.:This is only a brief excerpt.  We encourage readers to follow the link for the whole article.

 
 
Caridad IndaCaridad Inda, CHM, is an international educator who co-founded CIRIMEX, a Spanish Language and Culture Center in Guadalajara, Mexico, where  
she has served as executive director for nearly 30 years, and is a long-time member of the ARCC board. She has developed and presented workshops on nonviolent action as a tool of resistance as it applies to Church reform.  Dr. Inda can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  She has related material available.
    
Some things we have been reading  
Rocco Palmo   Jan.12, 2014
 

 With nary a leak on the timing, at the Noon Angelus on this feast of the Baptism of the Lord Pope Francis unveiled the biglietto of 19 prelates - 16 electors, three "honorary" picks over age 80 - to whom he'll give the red hat at his first Consistory on February 22nd.

As expected, the list is topped by four Curialists - with, in a significant shift, the head of the newly-enhanced Synod of Bishops, Cardinal-designate Lorenzo Baldisseri, outranking the prefect of the CDF, Cardinal-designate Gerhard Ludwig Müller - but the big story is the likewise-foreseen predominance of names not just from well outside the Vatican, but considerably off the traditional path of membership in the papal "Senate," including the first-ever cardinals from Haiti, the outer Caribbean and the Philippines' majority-Muslim island of Mindanao... and with them, the heads of only two European sees. 

. . . .

In the order of precedence by which they'll be elevated, here's the list as given by Francis - first, the electors: 

Archbishop Pietro Parolin, Secretary of State (Italy)
Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops (Italy)
Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Germany)
Archbishop Beniamino Stella, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy (Italy)
Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster (Great Britain)
Archbishop Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano of Managua (Nicaragua)
Archbishop Gérald Cyprien Lacroix of Québec (Canada)
Archbishop Jean-Pierre Kutwa of Abidjan (Ivory Coast)
Archbishop Orani João Tempesta, O.Cist. of Rio de Janeiro (Brazil)
Archbishop Gualtiero Bassetti of Perugia-Città della Pieve (Italy)
Archbishop Mario Aurelio Poli of Buenos Aires (Argentina)
Archbishop Andrew Yeom Soo Jung of Seoul (South Korea)
Archbishop Ricardo Ezzati Andrello SDB of Santiago de Chile
Archbishop Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo of Ouagadougou (Burkina Faso)
Archbishop Orlando B. Quevedo, OMI of Cotabato (Philippines)
Bishop Chibly Langlois of Les Cayes (Haïti)
...and the three cardinals-designate over 80:
 
Archbishop Loris Francesco Capovilla 
 
 Archbishop Fernando Sebastián Aguilar, CMF, emeritus of Pamplona (Spain) 
 
 Archbishop Kelvin Edward Felix, emeritus of Castries (St Lucia/Dominica) 
 
 
Cardinal electors
 
 
The Pope's letter to cardinals to be elected on 22 February
Vatican Information Service       Jan.13 2014
 

Dear brother,

On the day that your designation as part of the College of Cardinals is made public, I wish to send you a cordial greeting along with the guarantee of my closeness and prayer. It is my hope that, joined with the Church of Rome and "clothed in the virtues and sentiments of the Lord Jesus", you may help me with fraternal efficacy in my service to the Universal Church.

 

The cardinalship does not imply promotion; it is neither an honor nor a decoration; it is simply a service that requires you to broaden your gaze and open your hearts. And, although this may appear paradoxical, the ability to look further and to love more universally with greater intensity may be acquired only by following the same path of the Lord: the path of self-effacement and humility, taking on the role of a servant. Therefore I ask you, please, to receive this designation with a simple and humble heart. And, while you must do so with pleasure and joy, ensure that this sentiment is far from any expression of worldliness or from any form of celebration contrary to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.

 

Until we meet, then, on 20 February, when our two days of reflection on the family commence, I remain at your disposal and ask you, please, to pray for me and to ask for prayers on my behalf.

May Jesus bless you and the Holy Virgin protect you. 

Read more

Kerry Seeks to Build Ties to New Pope With Vatican Visit
Nicole Gaouette and Terry Atlas       Jan.14, 2014
 

President Barack Obama is seeking to build ties with Pope Francis, the new spiritual leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, for help on issues such as Mideast turmoil, climate change, and global poverty.

 

Secretary of State John Kerry yesterday met with his Vatican counterpart, Secretary of State Pietro Parolin, to discuss a range of issues in preparation for a visit by Obama. The last U.S. secretary of state's visit was by Condoleezza Rice in April 2005, when she accompanied President George W. Bush to the funeral of Pope John Paul II.

 

Miguel Diaz, who was Obama's ambassador to the Holy See during the tenure of Pope Benedict XVI, said he sees an opportunity for the U.S. to work cooperatively with a new pope who's re-energizing Vatican diplomacy.

. . . . 

Their talks covered issues from global poverty to this month's Syriapeace conference to the fighting in South Sudan, where there is a large Catholic population, Kerry told reporters afterward. They discussed Israel-Palestinian peace talks in preparation for the pope's announced visit to Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territories in May, Kerry said.

 

"This was as comprehensive a conversation as I've had with any secretary of state or foreign minister in the course of my tenure, and I think, happily, we agreed on an enormous amount of things that we can cooperate on," Kerry said. 

Read more

Pope removes cardinals in shake-up of Vatican bank
Philip Pullella      Jan.15, 2014
 

Pope Francis shook up the scandal-plagued Vatican bank on Wednesday, removing four of five cardinals from an oversight body in a break with the clerical financial establishment he inherited from his predecessor.

 . . . . 

The new team includes two cardinals - Toronto's Christopher Collins and Vienna's Christoph Schoenborn - from relatively rich dioceses who have had extensive dealings with financial affairs.

The others are Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's new secretary of state, who will be elevated to the rank of cardinal next month, and Santos Abril y Castillo, a Spaniard who is based in Rome and is a close friend of the pope's.

 

The one holdover was French Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran.

 

The four who were not re-confirmed included the former secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

 

Commentators and some church officials blamed him for lax oversight that led to a spate of scandals during Benedict's pontificate, including the leaking of some of the pope's personal documents by Benedict's butler.

 . . . . 

 Francis has not ruled out closing the bank, which is formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), if it cannot be reformed.

Read more

Cardinal Points
Peter Borre       Jan.17, 2014

In the past few days there have been newsworthy developments from Rome,

  • The official announcement of the 19 prelates to be elevated to the personal rank of cardinal at the upcoming February 22 consistory;
  • An in-depth front-page article above-the-fold in the New York Times issue of January 14, four columns wide, 2000+ words, pics;
  • The first visit to the Vatican by a U.S. secretary of state in nine years, on January 14, paving the way for an eventual meeting between the Pope and the President later this year.

Part of the 'Francis effect' is a surge in the relevance of what is happening within the Vatican, and the consequences throughout the world for 1.2 billion Catholics in over 200,000 parishes, clustered into 5,000 dioceses and eparchates.

 

The imminent investiture of 19 cardinals is one of the most noteworthy management actions by Pope Francis in the ten months since his election last March.  The commentary below picks up on what has been reported and adds some personal observations, including promotions that did not materialize and significant changes within the College of Cardinal Electors regional alignments.

. . . .

Steering a 2,000 year old institution with truly global reach has been compared with trying to maneuver a 100,000 ton aircraft carrier.

 

Actually it may be tougher because of the enormous inertia of the status quo, built up during the last years of John Paul and the entire papacy of Benedict.

 

Moreover, while from the outside the Church may seem to be a monolith, the internal tensions are sharp.  Remember Vatileaks?  And the captain on the bridge turned 77 just one month ago.

In his first ten months of service he has certainly set a new tone, but perhaps most importantly, in world affairs he has made the Church relevant again to the resolution of many of the most intractable contemporary issues - poverty and war, to pick just a couple.

 

And by his personal example he is entirely serious about tackling the disgusting spectacle of clericalism with its trappings of opulence...he himself has used words like 'leprosy' and 'unctuousness' in describing these afflictions. 

Read more

Pope Benedict defrocked 400 priests in two years 
Associated Press    Jan.18, 2014
 

In his last two years as pope, Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for raping and molesting children, more than twice as many as the two years that preceded a 2010 explosion of sex abuse cases in Europe and beyond, according to a document obtained Friday by The Associated Press and an analysis of Vatican statistics. 
. . . . 

It was the first compilation of the number of priests forcibly removed for sex abuse by the Vatican's in-house procedures -- and a canon lawyer said the real figure is likely far higher, since the numbers don't include sentences meted out by diocesan courts. 

 

The spike started a year after the Vatican decided to double the statute of limitations on the crime, enabling victims who were in their late 30s to report abuse committed against them when they were children. 

Read more

Should laypeople have a role in choosing their bishops?
Nicholas Cafardi       Jan.7, 2014
 

Pope Francis says that he wants a special kind of bishop for our church-he wants "shepherds who smell of their sheep." Let us take our Holy Father at his word: Who knows how the sheep smell better than the sheep themselves? No one. So then why not let the sheep make a modest proposal and ask that we laypeople have a significant say in the choice of our bishops.

 

This proposal is not as radical as it may seem. Once the office of bishop was clearly established in the early church, that office was filled by the choice of the local people and priests, and ratified by the neighboring bishops as a sign of the unity of the church. Even unbaptized persons were eligible to be chosen for bishop, as we know from the story of St. Ambrose, who was acclaimed by the clergy and people as bishop of Milan while he was still a catechumen. And the very first bishop in the United States, John Carroll, was elected by the priests of Maryland and confirmed by the pope. Today we are so used to the pope choosing our bishops for us without any input from those whom the bishop will serve that we forget it was not always that way. In fact the right of the pope to choose bishops was only finally settled by the 1917 Code of Canon Law, which clearly allocated that power to the holder of the papal office.

. . . .

So campaigning for bishop by priests does occur. Wouldn't it better if this were all out in the open-if laypeople knew about it and participated in the process?  Indeed, the laity seeing a priest desperate to become a bishop might just consider such ambition, as would Pope Francis, a disqualifying factor. But the sheep do know who the right men are for the job, and the church would be better off in the bishops we get if we were consulted in the process. 

Read more

U.N. committee on sexual abuse grills Vatican officials
Laura Smith-Spark & Ed Payne      Jan.16, 2014
 

A senior Vatican official acknowledged Thursday there is "no excuse" for child sex abuse, as he and others were grilled by a U.N. committee about the Catholic Church's handling of pedophile priests.

 

It's the first time the Vatican has been forced to answer allegations so publicly that it enabled the sexual abuse of children by protecting such priests.

 

The committee questioned a handful of Vatican officials -- including Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, and Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former chief sex-crimes prosecutor -- for several hours Thursday in Switzerland.

 

In his opening remarks, Tomasi said, "There is no excuse for any form of sexual violence or exploitation of children.

 . . . ."

In a series of hard-hitting questions, committee member Sara Oviedo pressed Tomasi over what kind of sanctions are imposed on abusive priests and whether they are handed over to the justice systems of the countries where crimes are committed.

 

The Vatican officials were also questioned on what is being done to prevent bishops transferring problem priests to different parishes in order to cover up their abuses. 

. . . .

Scicluna said he was there to say that "the Holy See 'gets it' " with regard to the issue and that no one should stand in the way of the prosecution of abusive priest.
. . . .
 

The Vatican officials were also quizzed on transparency. "The best way to prevent new offenses is to reveal old ones and to remove the offender from positions where he or she will have the opportunity to reoffend -- so openness instead of sweeping the offenses under the carpet," a panel member said.

 

The panel also urged the Vatican officials to do "very concrete things" to help those who have suffered abuse by clergy, and to give them "closure" so they can move forward.

. . . .

Other questions asked Thursday dealt with the church's approach to forced adoptions of children, including historical cases where religious bodies in Ireland and Spain are accused of removing children born to unmarried mothers, who were then given to "more suitable" adoptive parents.

 

The panel asked the Vatican officials what action was being taken to reunite those children with their families and to punish those responsible for their removal.

Read more

Vatican response 'fails smell test for ordinary people'
Deutsche Welle       Jan.16, 2014
 

The Vatican on Thursday faced a grilling by a UN panel over its failure to implement a UN child protection convention and its handling of sex abuse scandals. DWspoke to John Allen from the National Catholic Reporter.

 

Envoys of the Holy See appeared for the first time before a UN committee to answer questions about child sex abuse cases in the Catholic Church on Thursday (16.01.2014). The hearing took place as part of a broader UN probe on the implementation of the UN Convention of the Rights of the Child, which the Holy See ratified in 1990. But it has refused to provide regular progress reports.

 

But the Vatican's representatives made it clear that the Vatican is taking the handling of the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church seriously. However, they reiterated that the Vatican's options are limited, as it only has jurisdiction in Vatican City State.

 

DW: The Vatican still insists that its limited jurisdiction means it cannot sanction pedophile priests and bishops around the world. How does that chime in with its recent efforts to reform?

John Allen: It's a double-edged sword for the Vatican. On the one hand, they want to argue that they've adopted tough new policies and are trying to promote reforms, which certainly sounds like the have responsibility for what happens in the Church around the world, on the other hand they want to, both for theological reasons and for practical legal reasons, keep themselves at arm's length from taking direct responsibility for the conduct of priests on the ground.

 

In a sense, you could say they want it both ways: they want to take credit for tough new policies, but they don't want to take responsibility for when those policies break down. 

Read more

Church Criticized for Child Abuse at UN Hearing
Associated Press      Jan.16, 2014

Church Criticized for Child Abuse at UN Hearing

URL

Pope won't be lenient with predator priests - ex-prosecutor
Philip Pullella      Jan.18, 2014
 

Pope Francis will not show leniency towards paedophile priests because truth and justice are more important than protecting the Church, the Vatican's former sex crimes prosecutor said on Saturday.

 

Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the most authoritative Catholic official on the Church's abuse crisis, . . . .  

said Francis, despite his merciful nature, would be very tough on paedophile priests after an abuse crisis that the pope on Thursday called "the shame of the Church."

. . . .

Scicluna, who served in Rome for 17 years, was the Vatican's expert last Thursday in Geneva when United Nations child protection experts pushed Holy See delegates to reveal the scope of the decades-long sexual abuse of minors by Roman Catholic priests.

 

Despite the unprecedented grilling of Vatican delegation, he said the experience was very helpful for the Church.

 

"We have a great responsibility to our people ... I think it was a blessing that we had this meeting (in Geneva) before the commission is set up," he said. The commission is still in the process of being formed and its members chosen.

Read more

Cardinal O'Malley, female Methodist pastor team up on ritual
Lane Lambert     Jan.14, 2014
 

The Rev. Anne Robertson has baptized more infants and youngsters than she can count in her past years as a United Methodist minister in Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Florida.

 

But the Plymouth resident and Massachusetts Bible Society director never imagined that she'd get the chance to share a ritual drop of water for a baptism remembrance with a Roman Catholic cardinal.

 

Until Sunday, when Cardinal Sean O'Malley asked her.


"What moved me was not so much that I was anointing him," she said. "It was him being willing to accept that from my hand - to ask me, as a woman in ministry, to do that."

 

A Rhode Island native, the Rev. Robertson was the only female clergy member who assisted at a special 50th anniversary worship service at Sudbury United Methodist Church. Cardinal O'Malley delivered the homily at the ecumenical gathering, which commemorated a groundbreaking appearance by Cardinal Richard Cushing at the church in 1964.

Read more

Does the Altar Need to Be Guarded?
Rita Ferrone      Jan.7, 2014
 

The Trenton diocese has invented a new order of acolytes to serve at the bishop's liturgies in the cathedral. They are called Guardians of the Altar.  Guardians? Really? Does the altar in Trenton need to be guarded? From whom? Girls?

 

It appears that plain old ("traditional") acolytes won't do for the bishop's celebrations. These Guardians of the Altar are "highly trained" (in what?) to be the "elite of the servers." Examples of the celebrations for which these super acolytes are needed, enumerated in the diocesan newspaper, the Trenton Monitor, are: ordinations, the Chrism Mass, and the Rite of Election.

. . . .

Oh yes, and they are all male.

 

"It has been a very, very good thing for the boys of our parish," the religious education director said.

 

Ah, now we come to the nub of the issue. Relegating female altar servers to a lower status by creating bogus "special" skills that can only be performed by boys.

Read more
A new Vatican theology for Women
John Chuchman
Hope to women?

URL

The Shriver Report - Are Women Devalued by Religions?
Sr. Joan Chittister      Jan.10.2014
 

The bad news came in the 2013 "State of the World's Mothers" report. Of the 30 best countries in the world to be a mother, the survey reports that the United States ranks 30th-behind all the countries in Scandinavia, Australia, Canada, and most of the developed world.

 

How can this situation exist in the United States-one of the world's most religious countries-where so many of us believe that religion is a great force for good? Moreover, what exactly are our religious institutions-our churches, mosques, synagogues, and faith communities-doing to advance the development and status of women?
 . . . . 

But even as far as we've come, women are still one class of people who are set apart, separated, and given less value and worth by multiple religious traditions. Religion has defined women by their maternity-just one dimension of a woman's multifaceted humanity. Religion has defined women as "helpmates," as too irrational to lead, too intellectually limited for the public dimensions of life. Though they are endowed with the same degree of sense, reason, and intellect as men, women have been locked out of full humanity and full participation in religious institutions and society at large. This marginalization of women masquerades as "protecting" them and even "exalting" them. Instead, these attitudes serve to deny the human race the fullness of female gifts and a female perspective on life.

 

As a result, women make up two-thirds of the hungry of this world. Women are two-thirds of the illiterate of this world. And women are two-thirds of the poorest of the poor, because they lack access to the resources and recognition men take for granted.   

. . . .

What religion has said about women has long been used to justify what society has done to limit their development. Not only does what our churches, mosques, synagogues, and faith communities teach and do about women become the morality of the land. What they do not say or do on behalf of women condones what becomes the immorality of the land.
. . . . 

It is time for religions to repent the acceptance of assumptions about the social place and roles of women-assumptions that spring from theological definitions of women as less fully rational, less fully human, and less fully essential to the public arena than men. 

Read more 

 

If you are interested in ordering the hard copy version of the Shriver Report which will be available in paperback on March 11th, you can pre-order yours now.  

The Kindle edition is available here.

Half Of Americans Say God Plays A Role In Super Bowl Winner: Survey
Jaweed Kaleem      Jan.16 2014
Fans who pray

Read more

 

Pope calls for Korean reconciliation, Syria peace
Agence-France Presse       Jan.13, 2014
 

Pope Francis on Monday urged reconciliation on the Korean peninsula and voiced hope that talks in Geneva next week will kick off a peace process in Syria.

 

"I wish to implore from God the gift of reconciliation on the peninsula, and I trust that, for the good of all the Korean people, the interested parties will tirelessly seek out points of agreement," Francis said in a speech to the Vatican diplomatic corps.

 

Francis also expressed grave concern about the humanitarian situation in Syria and said urgent aid should be allowed to reach all parts of the country.

 

"What is presently needed is a renewed political will to end the conflict. In this regard, I express my hope that the Geneva 2 Conference, to be held on 22 January, will mark the beginning of the desired peace process," he told the ambassadors.

 

Francis also pleaded for "social harmony" in Egypt and peace and stability in Iraq and said the exodus of Christian minorities from the Middle East and north Africa continued to be "a source of concern". 

Read more

Pope says abortion evidence of "throwaway culture"
Allesandra Tarantino   Jan.13, 2014  

. . . .

 Saying hunger is a threat to world peace, he noted that not only food but human beings themselves are often discarded as unnecessary.

 

"We cannot be indifferent to those suffering from hunger, especially children, when we think of how much food is wasted every day in many parts of the world immersed in what I have often termed 'the throwaway culture,'" Francis said.

 

That culture, he said, also affects the unborn child.

 

"For example, it is frightful even to think that there are children, victims of abortion, who will never see the light of day," he said. Francis has generally limited his exhortations about abortion, saying church teaching is well known and that he prefers to speak less about the church's moralizing rules and more about its positive, welcoming message. 

 

In remarks that were less diplomatic and more a reflection of his own priorities, Francis called for the elderly to be treated with respect that their wisdom warrants, and for children to be protected from exploitation, slavery and hunger.

 

He lamented those who have died trying to find better lives for themselves and their families, citing migrants from his own Latin America trying to reach the United States and Africans seeking to enter Europe. 

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Pope Francis should consider the church's outdated annulment process
 Fr. Peter Daly       Jan.13, 2014

. . . .

In preparation for the meeting of bishops in October, Pope Francis has asked the whole church to answer 38 questions in nine broad categories, all dealing with marriage and family life. I just want to deal with just one question: annulments.

 

Here is my view: It is time for us to scrap our current annulment process and look east to see what our Orthodox brothers and sisters are doing.

. . . .

Nobody is deterred from getting divorced and remarried by our annulment process. But many people are deterred from coming into or back to the church by our annulment process. It is spiritually counterproductive.

 

The Roman Catholic annulment process needs a total overhaul. We should look to the Orthodox churches for a better way to handle it.

 

In the Eastern churches, the first annulment is handled entirely by the parish priest. After all, he is the person on the scene. He knows the people involved and can judge their sincerity and seriousness. He can talk to them about marriage and see if they are sincere in their desire for reconciliation with the church. No tribunal downtown at the chancery office can do that.

. . . . 
To our faithful, the real scandal is not the fact that divorced and remarried people might receive Communion, but that sincere people who really desire the Eucharist are kept from it by a legalistic, complicated, capricious and alienating annulment process. 

Read more

German theologians critique church teachings, propose new sexual understanding
Joshua J. McElwee     Jan.14, 2014
 

Two groups of noted German theologians have bluntly outlined how church teaching does not align with the concerns or lifestyles of most European Catholics in response to a Vatican questionnaire on Catholics' attitudes on issues like contraception and same-sex marriage.

Church sexual teachings, say the representatives of the Association of German Moral Theologians and the Conference of German-speaking Pastoral Theologians, come from an "idealized reality" and need a "fundamental, new evaluation."

 

"It becomes painfully obvious that the Christian moral teaching that limits sexuality to the context of marriage cannot look closely enough at the many forms of sexuality outside of marriage," say the 17 signers of the response, who include some of Germany's most respected Catholic academics.

 

The theologians also propose that the church adopt a whole new paradigm for its sexual teachings, based not on moral evaluations of individual sex acts but on the fragility of marriage and the vulnerability people experience in their sexuality. 

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Leaving the Jesuits after 32 years
John Dear   Jan. 7, 2014
 

This week, with a heavy heart, I am officially leaving the Jesuits after 32 years. After three years of discernment, I'm leaving because the Society of Jesus in the U.S. has changed so much since I entered in 1982 and because my Jesuit superiors have tried so hard over the decades to stop my work for peace -- most recently, when my provincial ordered me to Baltimore but gave me no assignment and, I felt, encouraged me to leave, as many other superiors have done in the past.

According to my provincial, the Society of Jesus in the U.S. has renounced its commitment to "the faith that does justice." It has also deepened its financial involvement with the culture of war and decreased its work with the poor in favor of serving through its universities and high schools. Given this change and the lack of support (and, at times, censure) I have endured over the years and its debilitating effect on my health, I realized I could no longer stay.

. . . .
I'm still a Catholic priest but have no priestly faculties. I doubt any U.S. bishop will give me faculties because most also object to my work against war and injustice, so I'm not sure if I will remain a priest. 

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Francis searches for secrets of Holocaust pope
John Follain      Jan.19 2014
 
Pope Francis wants to open the Vatican's secret archives on Pope Pius XII and the Holocaust before deciding on sainthood for the controversial wartime pontiff, accused by critics of having turned a blind eye to the extermination of 6m Jews.
 

Abraham Skorka, an Argentinian rabbi and friend of Francis, said he discussed Pius XII with the Pope during a week he spent in September at St Martha's House, the papal residence. It was the first time a pope and a rabbi have lived under the same roof in the Vatican.

 

Asked whether Francis would open the wartime archives, as Jewish leaders have long demanded, Skorka, 63, told The Sunday Times: "The Pope is consistent with all he said as a cardinal, and as pope he will undoubtedly make happen what he said he would do when  he was a cardinal. 

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The pope's rabbi on Jewish/Catholic relations
John L. Allen Jr.       Jan. 17, 2014
 

On Thursday, an old friend of Pope Francis came calling on him in Rome. Rabbi Abraham Skorka of Buenos Aires led a delegation of Jewish leaders from Argentina into an audience with the pope, with whom he co-authored the 2010 book On Heaven and Earth while Francis was still Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.

 

Skorka said while the delegation had some serious business to discuss, they also spent time joking and chatting with their old Argentine friend, even festively singing a few verses from the psalms together. In a gesture of hospitality, the pope treated the group to a lunch at his residence in the Casa Santa Marta catered by Ba' Ghetto, a famous kosher restaurant in Rome.

 

Skorka delivered a public lecture on Jewish/Catholic relations Thursday night at Rome's Jesuit-run Gregorian University, accompanied by Swiss Cardinal Kurt Koch, who heads the Vatican office that deals with ecumenism and relations with Jews. Skorka and Koch also took part in a brief press conference afterward.
. . . . 

Both Skorka and Koch said Thursday night, however, that they believe the future of Catholic/Jewish relations lies precisely in the theological arena. Skorka said he talked with Francis at the end of September, and that "what the pope wanted to convey to me is the importance of new theological steps."

 

"We need a theological explanation of what a Jew is to a Catholic, and what a Catholic is to a Jew," Skorka said.

 . . . .
In the course of his talk, Skorka made a fascinating observation without really developing it, which was that while Jewish/Catholic exchanges in the West often pivot on the past -- the history of anti-Semitism, the Holocaust and so on -- the focus in Latin America is more on the present. 

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John Allen to cover Catholicism, the Vatican for Boston Globe
Boston Globe       Jan.7, 2014
 

John Allen, a senior correspondent for the highly respected National Catholic Reporter, will be joining the staff of The Boston Globe in early February.

 

Allen, widely hailed as the best-sourced and most knowledgeable English-speaking reporter on the Vatican, will help lead coverage of Catholicism and the Vatican as an associate editor of The Globe.

 

"There is a resurgence of global interest in the Catholic Church, inspired by the words and deeds of the newly-installed leader, Pope Francis," said editor Brian McGrory. "There's nobody in the nation better suited. John is basically the reporter that bishops and cardinals call to find out what's going on within the confines of the Vatican. His inexhaustible energy, supported by extraordinary insights, is legendary."

 

McGrory said Allen, 48, will play "several roles of prominence. He will be a correspondent first and foremost. He will be an analyst on all things Catholic. He will also help us explore the very real possibility of launching a free-standing publication devoted to Catholicism, drawing in other correspondents and leading voices from near and far."

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Thomas Melady, diplomat who helped set path for Vatican recognition of Israel, dies at 86
Matt Schudel    Jan. 7, 2014
 

Thomas Melady

Thomas P. Melady, a scholar and college president who served as a U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and was an informal liaison between Catholic leadership and top federal policymakers, died Jan. 6 at his home in Washington. He was 86.

He had brain cancer, said his wife, Margaret Badum Melady.

 
Dr. Melady (pronounced muh-LAY-dee) began his career in the 1950s as an authority on emerging independence movements in Africa. He served as U.S. ambassador to the African country of Burundi before becoming ambassador to Uganda in 1972, when the country was controlled by strongman Idi Amin.
. . . . 

After serving as a president of Sacred Heart University in Connecticut, Dr. Melady reentered the world of diplomacy in 1989, when he was named ambassador to the Vatican by President George H.W. Bush.
. . . .

Dr. Melady was also entrusted with a secret mission at the Vatican - he was instructed to open quiet negotiations that would move the Vatican toward official recognition of the state of Israel.

. . . .

Since 2002, Dr. Melady had been affiliated with the Washington-based Institute of World Politics, where he taught a course on the art of diplomacy and continued to work "at the intersection of Catholic leadership, government and diplomacy." 

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Milwaukee Archdiocese is ready to file bankruptcy plan
Annysa Johnson      Jan.14, 2014
 

Three years after it declared bankruptcy as a way to deal with its mounting sex abuse claims, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is poised to file the reorganization plan that will detail how it compensates abuse victims and operates as an institution into the future.

 

The archdiocese has said the plan is complete. But it has offered few hints about its content or when it might be filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Milwaukee.

 

While the reorganization plan is a significant step toward exiting bankruptcy, legal scholars suggest that exit could still be a long way off. Even then, the legal battles could go on for years.

"This is not the end game. There will be multiple objections on multiple bases," said Pamela Foohey, a professor at the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign, who specializes in bankruptcy law.

 

The Milwaukee bankruptcy, filed by Archbishop Jerome Listecki in January 2011, came after the archdiocese had been largely successful in fighting lawsuits dating back at least to the 1950s. 

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Archdiocese seeks more time to challenge order to name priests
Jean Hopfensperger       Jan.14, 2014
 

The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Diocese of Winona have asked for more time to challenge a judge's order to release the names of all priests accused of sexually abusing children and teens since 2004.

 

A Ramsey District Court judge had initially given the church a Jan. 6 deadline to file the list of priests more recently accused of abuse. Earlier this month, Judge John Van de North postponed that deadline to Feb. 5.

 

But lawyers for the church argued that the court "exceeded its jurisdiction" when it ordered that the names of all priests accused of abuse, whether "credibly accused" or not, be made public. It filed papers in Ramsey District Court Friday, asking the court to delay the Feb. 5 deadline, pending an opportunity to "fully brief the issue" before the court.

. . . .

Both the archdiocese and the Winona diocese have released the names of clergy credibly accused of abuse before 2004, names they submitted to a national study of clergy abuse prepared for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops a decade ago.

 

Attorneys apparently were caught off guard earlier this month, when Van de North ordered that the list of more recent offenders include any priest who had been accused of sex abuse of a minor - regardless of whether the church deemed the accusation credible. 

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The Pope and Chris Christie
Paul Krugman      Jan.19, 2014
 

Sometimes, when you read a news report, you remember connections that, while not invalidating the reporting at all, nonethless shed a different light on some aspects of the story. So it was with today's Times report on the internal recommendations Chris Christie has been getting within the GOP. Quoted at some length was a guy named Ken Langone:

The billionaire Kenneth G. Langone, Mr. Christie's most devoted fund-raiser and loudest cheerleader, got in touch with him in recent days. Mr. Langone said he told the governor that he must be smarter about those who surround him.

. . . .

Ah, yes - that Ken Langone, who recently tried to bully ... the Pope:

Billionaire Home Depot founder Ken Langone has a warning for Pope Francis.

A major Republican donor, Langone told CNBC in a story published online Monday that wealthy people such as himself might stop giving to charity if the Pope continues to make statements criticizing capitalism and income inequality.

Langone said he was worried the Pope's comments about an "exclusionary" "culture of prosperity" that may make some of the rich "incapable of feeling compassion for the poor."

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Vatican refuses to extradite Polish archbishop accused of child sex abuse
 Liz Dodd       Jan.10, 2014
 

The Vatican has refused to extradite a Polish archbishop who was accused of sex abuse while serving as papal nuncio in the Dominican Republic.

 

In a statement the Holy See said that Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was a citizen of the Vatican, and that Vatican law did not allow for his extradition.

 

The District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw had requested the clarification, Polish news agency thenews.pl reported today, adding that the Holy See was pursuing its own investigation against the Archbishop.

 

Archbishop Wesolowski was dismissed as papal nuncio in the Dominican Republic in August last year and was recalled to the Vatican, where is currently believed to be living. He and a Polish priest, Father Wojciech Gil, have been accused of sexually abusing young boys.

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Child sexual abuse royal commission: Victims pleased with commission's progress after one year
Dan Conifer         Jan.11, 2014
 

Sex abuse survivor groups say they are pleased with the progress of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse after its first year of operation.

 

The commission was established on January 11, 2013, before private hearings began in May and public hearings began in September.

 

More than 1,000 victims have shared their stories with the commission.

 

About two-thirds of people taking part in private sessions were male and 70 per cent were over 50.

 

A third of institutions identified in private sessions were children's homes, including religious ones, while about a fifth were religious schools and 16 per cent were religious organisations. 

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Missouri Supreme Court grants stay for Archdiocese of St. Louis
 Melissa Meinzer       Jan.13, 2014
 

With 15 minutes to spare before a circuit court judge's deadline, the Missouri Supreme Court ruled that the Archdiocese of St. Louis does not immediately have to provide a list of the names of complainants and alleged perpetrators in cases of possible sexual abuse.  

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Article heading UK's largest child abuse inquiry begins in Northern Ireland
ABC News      Jan.13, 2014
 

The biggest inquiry into allegations of child abuse ever held in Britain has begun its first public hearings in Belfast, in Northern Ireland.

 

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry is looking into allegations covering 73 years in church and state-run children's homes in Northern Ireland, including complaints from dozens of people who were sent to Australia as child migrants. 

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The Russian Veto Against Francis and Bartholomew
Sandro Magister       Jan.8, 2014
 

Exactly half a century since the embrace in Jerusalem between Paul VI and the patriarch of Constantinople, Athenagoras, Pope Francis has announced that he too will go to the Holy Land, next May 24-26, to repeat that ecumenical gesture with the successor of Athenagoras, Bartholomew.

. . . .

 Since that January 5 of 1964 until today, the ecumenical dialogue between Rome and the Churches of the East has made substantial progress. And it has not been afraid to bring into discussion even the burning question of papal primacy.

The foundational document for the exchange on the universal role of the bishop of Rome was finalized in Ravenna in 2007 by a joint team of bishops and theologians called the "joint international commission for the theological dialogue between the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church."

 

This document was unanimously approved by those present. But the Russian Orthodox Church was absent from the meeting in Ravenna because of a dispute with the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople. An important absence, because the Russian Church represents by far the largest part of the entire Orthodox world.

. . . .

The rigidity of the Russian Church on papal primacy is all the more striking in that it was accompanied during the pontificate of Benedict XVI by a growing unity of action between Moscow and Rome in the defense of unborn life, the family, religious freedom.

The Russian Church was certainly not pleased by the decision of Joseph Ratzinger, at the beginning of his pontificate, to remove from among the attributes of the pope presented in the Annuario Pontificio that of "patriarch of the West." The Russians in fact saw that move as the latest evidence of the claim of the bishop of Rome to a primacy over the universal Church, without geographical limitations of any kind.

 

While on the other hand there is a favorable interpretation today, not only by the Russians but by the whole of the Orthodox world, of the insistence of the current pope, Francis, on calling himself simply "bishop of Rome."  

. . . .

In Jerusalem, in May, Pope Francis and Patriarch Bartholomew will embrace.

From Moscow they have cautioned both of them. With a forceful veto against a papal primacy that is anything more than simply honorific. 

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2nd gay worker at Catholic school to marry
Mike Baker       Jan.7, 2014
 

A part-time musical coach at a Catholic school in Washington state said Tuesday she is engaged to her same-sex partner and is nervous about how school leaders will handle the news after they forced out a vice principal  (Mark Zmuda) who married his partner.

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Students winning as Eastside Catholic twists gay marriage logic
 Danny Westneat       Jan.11, 2014
 

The ongoing morality play about gay marriage at an area Catholic high school keeps getting foggier. Except for one part that is becoming clear: The student protesters are winning.

Consider the jumble of values, rules and official gobbledygook the students of Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish have exposed with their agitating in the past month:

It's apparently OK to be gay and teach there. Unless you get married - then you are fired. With the caveat that if you agree to get divorced - then you can keep your job.


Now if you're a lesbian who teaches part-time and announces on the radio that you're getting married - not only do you keep your job, you get a raise!  

. . . .

Now if you're a lesbian who teaches part-time and announces on the radio that you're getting married - not only do you keep your job, you get a raise!

. . . .

I mean it's wrong in a moral sense. That's what those spirited students are appealing to in their protests: Not the law's strict letter, but a sense of "passionate discernment," as Father John Whitney of St. Joe's in Seattle wrote in praising the students.

 

Whitney likened the "noisy uproar" of the students to the Apostles: "We in the broader Church should be grateful for the mess these young people bring.

 . . . .

"Though it is a painful time, their teachers and their parents should be proud of the Gospel spirit that has been planted in these young hearts," Father Whitney wrote of the students.

Non-Catholic translation: I'll be damned, these kids are winning.

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Ex-president McAleese criticises church's stance on gay people
Mark Hennessy, Patsy McGarry       Jan.8, 2014
 

Mary McAleeseFormer president Mary McAleese, who has urged a Scottish cardinal forced to stand down last year to admit publicly that he is gay, has said "a very large number" of Catholic priests are homosexuals.

 

The Catholic Church has been in denial over homosexuality for decades, particularly since many priests are gay, she said. "It isn't so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants.

"I don't like my church's attitude to gay people. I don't like 'love the sinner, hate the sin'. If you are the so-called sinner, who likes to be called that? We also know that within the priesthood a very large number of priests are gay." 

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'Playboy priest' goes on trial
AFP       Jan.11, 2014
 

A Croatian priest dubbed the "playboy minister" for his luxurious lifestyle went on trial on Thursday charged with embezzling some 1.3 million euros ($1.9 million) through the illegal sale of church property.

 

Franciscan priest Sime Nimac was charged before a local court in the coastal town of Split together with a former bank employee believed to be his lover who allegedly helped him with the scheme, a court official said.

 

Nimac is accused of selling a plot of land in 2012 without church authorities' approval.

He then allegedly withdrew the money paid for the property from the parish bank account and transferred it to his own, according to the indictment.

 

Both Nimac and his alleged accomplice, Jasna Bilonic, pleaded not guilty at the start of the trial. 

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Highway to heaven: Pope auctioning his Harley Davidson chopper for charity
Elisha Fieldstadt      Jan.14, 2014
 

The pope plans to sell off his 1,585cc Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide, embellished with a signature on the tank that reads "Francesco," Bonhams auction house announced Monday.

The bike was originally gifted to Pope Francis by the company last June in celebration of the 110th  anniversary of the motorcycle brand. The pope is known for refusing to ride bullet proof Popemobiles so that he can interact with the faithful and turning to more low-key modes of transportation.

. . . .

"I suspect that it will (have) a very limited mileage," said Ben Walker, head of motorcycles at Bonhams told Reuters.

 

The money raised will go toward Catholic charity Caritas Roma's renovations of a hostel and soup kitchen in Rome. 

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New Translation of the Roman Missal

Review of Missal translation promised as disquiet about text grows 

Sarah Mac Donald and Christopher Lamb      Jan.10, 2014

 

A review of the new English translation of the Roman Missal is on the cards as disquiet grows about the quality of the Mass texts.

 

Fr Patrick Jones, who has just completed 21 years as executive secretary of the Irish bishops' council for liturgy and director of the National Centre for Liturgy in Ireland, said that a review of the texts has been promised and talked of a "disturbing quietness" of congregations in Ireland faced with the new responses and other parts of the Mass.

. . . . 

It is not clear whether the review will take place across the English-speaking world but The Tablet understands that the measure has been discussed in the liturgy agencies of different English-speaking bishops' conferences.  

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