Category: 2012
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Secularization and Secularism: Convenient Scapegoats? 
 John W. Greenleaf       Oct.26, 2012

Surveying the spectrum of hierarchical rhetoric, on both sides of the Atlantic, we hear and read that "secularization" and "secularism" are now the source of all that is evil, have led to a collapse of Christian values, and are the driving force behind a new wave of anti-Catholicism in the West.


Pope Benedict XVI and his Facilitator for the Synod on the New Evangelization, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, strongly hope the New Evangelization will halt the spread of secularism and relativism in the church, re-fill nearly-empty churches with loyal and obedient laypeople, and disarm a number of other malignant "isms" (like feminism) that threaten contemporary Catholic life.


A few days away from the 2012 presidential election, the crusade against secularism and secularization, is particularly strong in our United States.

At the moment, I am in Philadelphia where his friends and supporters are energetically promoting Archbishop Charles Chaput's book A Heart on Fire: Catholic Witness and the Next America. In his e-book, Archbishop Chaput outlines the dangers of secularism in the United States and deplores what he sees as a growing American hostility toward religion in general and Roman Catholicism in particular.


A couple days ago, over in Chicago, Cardinal George remarked that strong anti-religious sentiments have emerged during this year's presidential campaign. He warns of an aggressive anti-religious and strongly anti-Catholic secularism in our American society.


Speaking with a flash of archiepiscopal drama, George acknowledged he had been quoted accurately when predicting: "I expected to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square."


Cardinal George said he had made such a dramatic reference to the prospect of martyrdom to underline the urgency of the problems created by aggressive anti-religious secularism.


 "Communism imposed a total way of life based upon the belief that God does not exist," Cardinal George said and added: "Secularism is communism's better-scrubbed bedfellow."


Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairperson for the USCCB's Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty, reiterated in his National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception homily on October 14th: "For some time now, both life and liberty have been under assault by an overarching, Godless secularism, replete with power and money, but sadly lacking in wisdom, both human and divine: a secularism that relentlessly seeks to marginalize the place of faith in our society."


Over in Peoria, the outspokenly ultra-orthodox Bishop Daniel Jenky is still complaining about President Obama's "extreme secularist" policies and compares them to those of Germany's "Iron Chancellor" Otto von Bismarck, to Adolf Hitler and to Josef Stalin.


The conservative Catholic crusade is gathering some local parish steam as well in election battleground states like Ohio. Faithful America reports that last week, the "Nuns on the Bus" went to Ohio, visiting local social service agencies and speaking out about how major federal budget cuts could endanger the poorest and most vulnerable in our society. When the sisters arrived in Marietta, Ohio, they were met by a crowd of angry right-wing protesters who called them "fake nuns" and waved signs labeling their "Nuns on the Bus" tour the "highway to hell" and "bums on the bus."


Many of these Ohio protesters were recruited from a local Catholic parish, where the pastor invited right-wing activists to distribute their propaganda accusing the sisters of "espousing radical ideology."


So what is this crusade against secularization and secularism all about?


My first and immediate reaction is to quickly respond that far too many ultra-orthodox bishops and their sympathizers are scapegoating and calling attention to the speck of sawdust in their neighbors' eyes and paying no attention to the planks in their own. But it is of course more complex.


These days "secularism" is more a principle and "secularization" more a process; but they often overlap of course in contemporary conversation.

Secularism is an outlook, and sometimes an ideology, that maintains that there should be a sphere of knowledge, values, and action that is independent of religious authority. In other words that religious leaders should not run the entire human show.


In American history we see secularism in our principle of the separation of church and state. Secularism can but does not necessarily exclude religion from having any role in political and social affairs. It simply asserts that religious leaders should not control and run political affairs. They can and should, as members of society, enter into constructive dialogue. Separation of church and state actually safeguards the church, as it also safeguards the state.


Secularism is often associated with the Age of Enlightenment and has played a major role in the history of Western society. Church leaders have, from time to time, had difficulties with the Enlightenment. Too much thinking, beyond church control.


We know of course, from our overall Catholic tradition, there really should be no conflict between faith and reason.

These days......most major religions accept the legal structures of secular, democratic societies; and a great many Christians support the secular state, seeing it affirmed, for example, in the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel According to Luke: "Then give to Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."


Some fundamentalists, however, fiercely oppose secularism, often asserting that there is a "radical secularist" ideology being adopted or imposed on people these days. They see secularism as a threat to "freedom" and to "traditional values."


The most significant representatives of this kind of religious fundamentalism in our contemporary world are Fundamentalist Christianity and Fundamentalist Islam.


The discussion about secularization is, I think much more complex. I often say in my adult education and adult faith sharing sessions that Jesus of Nazareth was THE great secularizer: He understood, taught and witnessed to the truth that God is met and experienced in secular life. Incarnational theology once again...... Jesus regularly poked fun at or simply denounced those overly religious people who were good at religious practices but in fact far from God. But this is just a part of the secularization discussion.


Secularization is a process of taking-seriously our day-today secular life. I would contend that the theologians and bishops at Vatican II REALLY understood secularization. They understood it as an invitation to dialogue, to discern, and to reflect on the "signs of the times."


Many of our contemporary Catholic bishops blame secularization for their lost credibility, the decline of their religious authority, and their inability to influence society. Frankly, I think their Vatican II episopal brothers would say: "stop shaking your fingers at the outside world and get your own house in order." Blessed Pope John would say: Open the windows! We need fresh air! We need new and fresh thinking! And we have made some colossal mistakes!


I can understand that some people are uncomfortable about secularization when it involves state control over spheres formerly controlled by religious institutions. This can affect education, social welfare, law, the media, etc. Loss of power and control can be very discomfiting.


Secularization, however, becomes absolutely essential in our contemporary world with its increasingly ethnic-cultural-religious pluralistic societies.


Good values will be learned and taught and passed on in a society in which all share in values clarification and formation.

And faith will be experienced, will thrive, and be passed on in communities where the teacher-leaders (the magisterium in Catholic talk) realize that they are also and always learners as well.


Scapegoats are convenient, but they keep people from looking deeply into their own hearts and souls.



Some things we have been reading 



U.S. Bishops Campaigning For Romney Accused Of Abusing Tax-Exempt Status
Laura Bassett     Nov.11, 2012


Amid reports that some Roman Catholic clergy have been campaigning for Mitt Romney at the pulpit, the good-government non-profit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Friday, challenging its its tax-exempt status.


The Conference of Catholic Bishops, as a 501(c)(3) group, is prohibited from campaigning for any candidate. In addition to their being one of the most powerful anti-abortion lobbies in WashingtonThe Washington Post reports that the bishops have been trying to persuade Catholics to vote for Romney by demanding that priests read pre-written letters at Sunday Masses. The letters avoid naming Romney, arguing that President Barack Obama's administration has waged a war on religious liberty, that the Democrats' positions on contraception, abortion and gay marriage are causing the nation to "lose its soul by little steps," and that Catholic voters cannot support Democratic candidates without betraying God and Catholicism.

. . . .

"This weekend, the Catholic bishops plan to use every tool in their arsenal, including warning parishioners that they may go to hell, to promote the candidacy of Governor Mitt Romney," said Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. "While the bishops are free to hold their own opinions, tax law is clear that this sort of political activity is prohibited." 

Read more



Fidelis's Embraces the Apostate Glenn Beck & More!

 Frank Cocozzelli  Nov.4, 2012


The Tom Monaghan-linked group Fidelis which has seemingly dabbled in financial fiddling seems to be at it again. It's political affiliate, is employing Catholic Right culture war memes to help elect Mitt Romney to the presidency - while also falsely casting economic libertarianism as the basis of the Church's understanding of Social Justice.

. . . .

One would think that Glenn Beck should be the last person to instruct American Catholics on how to vote in the upcoming election. After all, Beck is the former Fox television talk-show host who gave religious folks an odd admonition:

"I'm begging you, your right to religion and freedom to exercise religion and read all of the passages of the Bible as you want to read them and as your church wants to preach them . . . are going to come under the ropes in the next year. If it lasts that long it will be the next year. I beg you, look for the words 'social justice' or 'economic justice' on your church Web site. If you find it, run as fast as you can. Social justice and economic justice, they are code words.  Now, am I advising people to leave their church? Yes!"
. . . .


I guess no one should be surprised that Mr. Beck abandoned Catholicism to become a Mormon in 1999 because "For me some of the things in traditional doctrine just doesn't work..."


The actual Catholic view of economic justice is as lost on the folks at as it is on the apostate, Glenn Beck.  So much so, that the group created a September 25th town hall call-in event designed to reach Catholic voters centered around the self-described "Rodeo Clown" in the hope of roping them into the GOP.  Uncoincidentally, the group's the group's president, Brian Burch, took a leave of absence to work for the Romney campaign.

As previously noted, is a project of Fidelis (it may have superseded Fidelis itself as its web site no longer exists).


Fidelis is currently affiliated with Champion the Vote, a project of United in Purpose (UIP), which has been quietly financing and organizing a revived, dynamic religious right.

. . . . 
It is a sham, (arguably self-satire), for any organization that purports to inform Catholic voters of where the Church stands to try to sell them unCatholic ideas. But then again, to understand why engages in such mendacity one only need to follow the money -- and Glenn Beck!

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Priests call on hierarchy to help save Church from 'effective collapse'
RTÉ News    Oct.30, 2012


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


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


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

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


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

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Father Brian D'Arcy, The Turbulent Priest
BBC     Oct.29, 2012


Author and broadcaster Father Brian D'Arcy was censured by the Vatican after challenging some of the Catholic Church's core teachings. In this frank and personal documentary, filmmaker Natalie Maynes follows him on a journey across Europe as he confronts the biggest dilemma of his life - can he continue as a priest?   This is a 60 minute video.

Father Brian D'Arcy, The Turbulent Priest 




Association of Catholic Priests saddened by bishops' 'snub' 
BBC News     Nov.1, 2012


A group representing hundreds of Irish priests has said it is disappointed that the Irish Catholic Church's Bishops Conference will not meet them.


The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has claimed the conference refused to hold face-to-face talks to discuss the future of the Church.


The ACP represents more than 850 priests on the island of Ireland.  Recently, it has been criticised by the Vatican for expressing views that contradict the Church's teaching.


Fr Tony Flannery, a spokesman for the ACP, said the response they had received to their request for a meeting was a "fairly definitive statement" on the hierarchy's feelings about the group. 

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Hans Küng to retire from 'big stage' 
Tablet     Oct..27, 2012


KüngLiberal theologian professor Hans Küng has announced that he will withdraw from the "big stage" when he turns 85 next March.


Fr Küng, who has clashed repeatedly with the Vatican and specifically with Pope Benedict XVI during his career, announced at a meeting of reform-minded church groups in Frankfurt last weekend that he would be "withdrawing from the big stage and making room for the next generation".

Nonetheless, he told The Tablet he would "continue to be present in public through the media" and would publish his third volume of memoirs next year. He said he would hand over his Global Ethic Foundation to the former German President, Horst Köhler.

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Baltimore pastor speaks his mind in homily on same-sex marriage 
Arthur Jones   Oct.29, 2012


In Baltimore's St. Vincent de Paul church, Fr. Richard T. Lawrence read a nuanced letter from Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori at all the weekend's Masses. It concluded: "Each one of us -- as Catholics and faithful citizens -- must show up on election day and do our part by voting against Question 6," the Civil Marriage Protection Act.


"The archbishop's thoughts on this question are powerful, and will be persuasive in conscience to many" and should be read and prayed over by all, said Lawrence, who has been St. Vincent's pastor for 39 years.


He then stated his own homiletic thoughts:

. . . .  

 And I will continue to stand in genuine awe of all those couples -- straight, gay and lesbian -- whose day-to-day, year-to-year, and decade-to-decade faithfulness to each other is to me a sacrament, a believable embodied sign, of the absolute faithfulness of God to us all.

. . . .

Lawrence then said in his homily that religious and civil law are separate and that "evil" civil law, like segregation, should be resisted in conscience while other civil laws, like taxes, can be complied with in conscience "even when we disagree with them."

 . . . .

"It seems to me, therefore," Lawrence continued, "that even if we do not believe that gay marriage ever could or should be allowed in the church, we could live with a provision that allows civil marriage of gay and lesbian couples. Personally, however, I would go farther than that."


Turning to decisions at Vatican II (1962-65), Lawrence said an eventual change in church teaching was possible, "and we could come to recognize the total, exclusive and permanent union of gay and lesbian couples as part of the sacrament of matrimony."

Lawrence cited Genesis 1:18, in which God said, "It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him."


The church has always "been willing to marry couples in the church even though their ages suggest strongly that the procreation and education of children is no longer a possibility," Lawrence said.


"Could we not then say that their devotion to and support of each other ... could be recognized by the church as a valid sacrament of God's unrelenting faithfulness to us just as much as the union of an elderly straight couple?" he asked. "Neither will procreate children, but both can be sacraments of God's faithfulness in the living out of their commitment to each other."


Lawrence stressed such was not the teaching of the church, but said, "I personally believe that this is a possible line of future development in theology and perhaps eventually even in church teaching. And if this is even a possibility, could we not judge that civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples ought to be allowed by the state at this time?"


The pastor said if Question 6 passes, he will not perform gay or lesbian weddings at St. Vincent's or anywhere else, just as he did not officiate at the second wedding of his niece, whose first marriage was not annulled.


"I attended as a sign of my love and support for her, but I could not perform the ceremony," he said. "In the same way, I have attended, and will continue to attend, the weddings of gay and lesbian persons whom I love and support, but I cannot perform the ceremony.

Read more
University withdraws theologian's invitation after pressure from financial contributors
Joshua J. McElwee     Nov.1, 2012


The University of San Diego has canceled a visiting fellowship for a British theologian less than two weeks before her scheduled arrival at the university because of pressure from financial contributors, according to a letter from the university's president.

Tina Beattie, a professor of Catholic studies at London's private University of Roehampton known for her work in contemporary ethical issues and Catholic understandings of feminism, received notice of the cancellation Oct. 27. She was scheduled to take residence at the university on Tuesday.

Beattie -- who also serves on the board of directors of the British Catholic weekly The Tablet and is a theological adviser to the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, the Catholic aid agency for England and Wales -- announced the withdrawal of the invitation in an email to friends and other theologians Thursday.

Beattie said in an interview with NCR that cancellation of her fellowship was "symptomatic of something very new and very worrying."

"It's unheard of, certainly in Britain, for a theologian in my position to feel threatened by this kind of action," Beattie said. "It's not about me; it's about some change in the culture of the Catholic church that we should be very, very concerned about." 

Read more         Tina Beattie's Blog

Letter from USD President



My life-or-death ballot choice in Massachusetts
Bryan Cones     Nov.5, 2012


One unexpected consequence of living in Boston is that I qualify as a resident in time to vote in Massachusetts in tomorrow's election--which means I get a say on its so-called "death with dignity" referendum that will appear on the ballot. I covered that debate in my November column--but now the issue is that much more personal.


On the one hand, I think I get why people want to be able to say enough is enough when it comes to their own experience of pain and suffering, especially given the general attitude in the medical community that death is an "enemy" to be fought at all costs, indeed, often with great economic and emotional costs.  

. . . .  

And I also wonder whether we Catholics can insist that our understanding of the moral law in this particular area must be enshrined in the civil law.  

. . . .

Then I read a piece such as Ben Mattlin's "Suicide by choice?"in The New York Times. Mattlin was born with spinal muscular atrophy, a condition that has left him, as he puts it, "close to death all my life." Now at 50, he is physically more fragile than ever but still lives a rich life as a husband, father, and journalist. Though he acknowledges that similar laws Montana, Oregon, and Washington do not seem to have pressured disabled people to end their lives, he also notes that last year in Massachusetts there were 20,000 reported cases of elder abuse, lending weight to the Massachusetts Catholic Conference's claim that the law as drafted does not contain sufficient protections for vulnerable people. The preferential option for the poor and vulnerable seems to apply. 


Above all, I found Mattlin's conclusion most compelling: "I can't help wondering why we're in such a hurry to ensure the right to die before we've done all we can to ensure that those of us with severe, untreatable, life-threatening conditions are given the same open-hearted welcome, the same open-minded respect and the same open-ended opportunities due everyone else." 

Read more



Question 2 insults Kennedy's memory
Victoria Reggie Kennedy     Oct.27, 2012


My late husband Sen. Edward Kennedy called quality, affordable health care for all the cause of his life. Question 2 turns his vision of health care for all on its head by asking us to endorse patient suicide - not patient care - as our public policy for dealing with pain and the financial burdens of care at the end of life. We're better than that. We should expand palliative care, pain management, nursing care and hospice, not trade the dignity and life of a human being for the bottom line.


Most of us wish for a good and happy death, with as little pain as possible, surrounded by loved ones, perhaps with a doctor and/or clergyman at our bedside. But under Question 2, what you get instead is a prescription for up to 100 capsules, dispensed by a pharmacist, taken without medical supervision, followed by death, perhaps alone. That seems harsh and extreme to me.


Question 2 is supposed to apply to those with a life expectancy of six months or less. But even doctors admit that's unknowable. When my husband was first diagnosed with cancer, he was told that he had only two to four months to live, that he'd never go back to the U.S. Senate, that he should get his affairs in order, kiss his wife, love his family and get ready to die.


But that prognosis was wrong. Teddy lived 15 more productive months. During that time, he cast a key vote in the Senate that protected payments to doctors under Medicare; made a speech at the Democratic Convention; saw the candidate he supported elected president of the United States and even attended his inauguration; received an honorary degree; chaired confirmation hearings in the Senate; worked on the reform of health care; threw out the first pitch on opening day for the Red Sox; introduced the president when he signed the bipartisan Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act; sailed his boat; and finished his memoir "True Compass," while also getting his affairs in order, kissing his wife, loving his family and preparing for the end of life. 

Read more



Judge backs Catholic firm over contraception mandate
Terry Baynes    Nov.1, 2012


A Catholic-owned family business in Michigan does not have to comply with the provision of the new U.S. healthcare law that requires private employers to provide employees with health insurance that covers birth control, a federal judge in Detroit has ruled.

U.S. District Judge Robert Cleland, in a ruling late Wednesday, temporarily blocked the government from forcing the owner of Weingartz Supply Company, which sells outdoor power equipment, to include contraception in its health coverage of employees.

The ruling only affects the company's Catholic proprietor, Daniel Weingartz, and the approximately 170 people who work for him. But it opens the door for other firms to seek relief on religious grounds.

Cleland is now the second federal judge to temporarily block part of the Affordable Care Act of 2010 from being enforced against the religious owners of a family business. In July, U.S. District Judge John Kane in Denver temporarily prevented the government from requiring the Catholic owners of Hercules Industries Inc, a private manufacturer of heating, ventilation and air conditioning equipment, to provide health insurance that covers birth control. 

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Showing support for LCWR during these trying times 
Richard McBrien     Oct.29, 2012


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

 . . . .

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


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

. . . .

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


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

Examples of such bishops are (with the diocese and year they were first ordained a bishop): Thomas Welsh, Arlington, Va., 1970 (now deceased); Thomas Daily, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1974 (now retired); Nicholas DiMarzio, Brooklyn, 1996; David Ricken, Green Bay, Wis., 2000; Richard Lennon, Cleveland, 2001.

Examples of such archbishops are: John Myers, Newark, N.J., 1987; Joseph Kurtz, Louisville, Ky.,1999; Jose Gomez, Los Angeles, 2001; Francis George, Chicago, 1990; Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, 1988; Edward Egan, New York, 1985 (now retired).

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

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

. . . .

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

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Bishops to consider new document on preaching at fall meeting 
CNS     Oct.29, 2012


"My dad used to say, 'I know what happened 2,000 years ago. I need to know how to live my life today.'" These words, from Archbishop Robert J. Carlson of St. Louis, get to the heart of a new proposed document on preaching to be considered by the U.S. bishops at the fall general meeting in November. The document, "Preaching the Mystery of Faith: The Sunday Homily," encourages preachers to connect the Sunday homily with people's daily lives. Archbishop Carlson, as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations, shepherded the writing of the document, which he said had reviews by eight other USCCB committees. 

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Liturgical matters at the US Bishops' Fall Meeting
Pray Tell Editor     Oct.31, 2012


The U.S. bishops are scheduled to spend 30 minutes evaluating the implementation of the new Roman Missal at their annual fall assembly this November 12-15 in Baltimore. Discussion is intended to assist in re-translation of other liturgical books to be implemented in the future. ICEL (the International Commission on English in the Liturgy) has begun revising parts of the Liturgy of the Hours such as hymns, orations, and some antiphons.


The bishops will elect a new chairman of the Committee on Divine Worship, as the term of Bishop Gregory Aymond expires in November, 2013. Nominees are Cardinal DiNardo of Galveston-Houston and Archbishop Vigneron of Detroit.

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Vatican says it is willing to be patient with SSPX in reconciliation bid 
Cindy Wooden    Oct.29, 2012


"Patience, serenity, perseverance and trust are needed" as the Vatican continues talks aimed at full reconciliation with the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, said a statement from the Vatican commission overseeing the discussions.

The Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," in a statement released Oct. 27, said the leadership of the SSPX had requested "additional time for reflection and study" before responding to Pope Benedict XVI's latest efforts to reintegrate them into the church.

. . . .

The Vatican said that "after 30 years of separation, it is understandable that time is needed to absorb the significance of these recent developments."

. . . .

Just three days before the Vatican statement was published, the SSPX announced it had ousted British Bishop Richard Williamson, one of the four bishops ordained by SSPX founder Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre without papal approval in 1988. 

Read more



Vatican to initiate its own budget-cutting 'spending review' 
ANSA     Oct.31, 2012


The Vatican said on Wednesday that it would embark on its own 'spending review' to find ways to eliminate wasteful layouts as the effects of the global economic crisis weigh on its own treasury. No stone is to be left unturned. The review will look for ways to cut spending on everything from stationery, including photocopies, to consulting services, gifts to visiting dignitaries and payouts to sub-contractors. Even spending on the pope's ornamental medals will fall under the review's scrutiny. The Holy See is undergoing a thorough effort to get its finances under control. On September 11, the Vatican said that it had drafted in a Swiss expert to help it fight money laundering more effectively as part of an effort to join the 'white list' of states that, unlike tax havens, respect international standards on combatting money laundering and the financing of terrorism.

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Archdiocese starts online confirmation classes 
John Choi     Oct.29, 2012


The Seoul archdiocese has launched online confirmation classes in which faithful can prepare for the sacrament in just two days.


The archdiocese's Catholic Cyber Pastoral Office began offering the classes last week to make preparation for the sacrament easier and more convenient. Usually, confirmation classes take at least five weeks.


Comprising 10 hour-long lectures, the class requires each person to take a test after each lecture. A person can watch up to five lectures and take five tests in a day.

Armed with a certificate and with a little liturgy training, people can then be confirmed in their parish.

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Catholic priest charged with murder 
SAPA     Mon.dd, 2012


Croatian prosecutors on Friday charged a Catholic priest with murder for beating to death a village official in the Dubrovnik region after a row over a cemetery.


Father Ivan Sinanovic stands accused of repeatedly hitting on the head the local official who, under the influence of alcohol, last May had forced open the parish house in the tiny village of Banici and attacked him, the prosecution said.


According to local media reports, the priest and official Marko Kraljevic had been fighting over the size of the local cemetery. Sinanovic had started enlarging it without consulting the village authorities. 

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Attack on Nigerian Church Kills 8 and Wounds Dozens
Reuters     Oct.28, 2012


A suicide bomber drove a vehicle full of explosives into a Roman Catholic church during morning Mass in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing at least eight people, wounding more than 100 and triggering reprisal attacks that killed at least two more.

There was no claim of responsibility, but the bombing was similar to others by the radical Islamist group Boko Haram, which has attacked churches, security forces, schools and other institutions, killing thousands of people over the past several years in its quest to create an Islamic state in Nigeria. The nation's population of about 160 million is evenly split between Christians and Muslims.


The bomber drove the vehicle into a wall of the packed St. Rita's Roman Catholic church in the Malali area of Kaduna, witnesses said. 

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Vatican to begin trial of computer tech accused of helping papal butler
Cindy Wooden    Nov.2, 2012


A second criminal trial opens Nov. 5 in the little courtroom on the ground floor of the Vatican's tribunal building, located just behind the apse of St. Peter's Basilica.


Claudio Sciarpelletti, a computer technician in the Vatican Secretariat of State, is to be tried on charges of aiding and abetting Paolo Gabriele, the papal butler, who was convicted of aggravated theft for stealing or photocopying private Vatican correspondence -- including letters to and from the pope.


The Vatican court's indictment of Sciarpelletti was released Aug. 13 along with the indictment of Gabriele.

Read more



Hurricane Sandy Spawns Right-Wing Theodicy 
Candace Chellew-Hodge     Oct.29, 2012


As Hurricane Sandy heads ashore on the east coast of the U.S., far right-wing religious zealots are already calling it a sign from God for everything from U.S. policy on Israel to, of course, the gays.


The conspiratorial World Net Daily says Sandy is a sign that God is angry with the U.S. for defying his will on Israel:

In fact, in his book Eye to Eye: Facing the Consequences of Dividing Israel, [William] Koenig points out that nine of the 10 costliest insurance events in U.S. history followed dramatic calls by U.S. officials for Israel to make land concessions in bids for peace with its neighbors.   . . . .


Evangelical pastor John McTernan doubles down on the Israel talk and tosses in some blame for the gays, too:

It is like the hurricane is a huge bucket of vomit in America's face during the election. What a sign from the holy God of Israel that American politics is an abomination to Him. A pro-homosexual Mormon along with a pro-abortion/homosexual, Muslim Brotherhood promoter, Hard Left Fascist are running for president. And there is no cry of repentance from God's people! I see this storm as a warning from the LORD to call His church to repentance, This might be the last call from the Holy God of Israel. 

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Bishop Tawadros new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians 
Author     Nov.4, 2012


Bishop Tawadros has been chosen as the new pope of Egypt's Coptic Christians, becoming leader of the largest Christian minority in the Middle East.


His name was selected from a glass bowl by a blindfolded boy at a ceremony in Cairo's St Mark's Cathedral. Three candidates had been shortlisted.


The 60-year-old succeeds Pope Shenouda III, who died in March aged 88.

He succeeds as attacks on Copts are on the increase, and many say they fear the country's new Islamist leaders

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