Category: 2014
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Some things we have been reading  
McAleese says Catholic Church's 'old boys club' has to go
Padraig Collins     Sep.8, 2014

Speaking in Sydney yesterday, former president Mary McAleese argued for a greatly increased role for women in the Catholic Church, saying: "The old boys' club are going to have to go."

About 1,000 people came to Sydney Town Hall to see Mrs McAleese interviewed by ABC radio presenter Andrew West.

In a reference to an Australian Catholic newspaper refusing to run an advertisement for the event because of Mrs McAleese's views on homosexuality and the ordination of women, Mr West said: "We have to thank the Catholic Weekly for a full house today."

. . . .

She said trying to be heard by the Catholic Church hierarchy was comparable to shouting at children: "If I'm yelling it's because you didn't listen to me when I said it nicely . . . I look at the curia and I don't know too many of them who have gone through equal opportunity training."

 Mrs McAleese said the governance of the church "and the structure of church government needs to change".

 "The church is not terribly happy with criticism," she said to laughter from the audience. "I'm saying that as gently as possible . . . The church which will not listen to people who speak out of love has a very big problem." 

Read more

Catholics, keep away, lest you hear what you ought not
Damien Murphy      Aug.31, 2014

The former president of Ireland Mary McAleese will deliver the Rosemary Goldie Lecture at Sydney Town Hall on Sunday week but local Catholics, it seems, are being discouraged from attending.

The Catholic Weekly newspaper refused to take advertisements for the lecture which honours an Australian Catholic theologian who became the first woman to serve in an executive role in the Roman Curia.

. . . .

Speaking out against tradition often provokes disagreement, but adding to the confusion caused by the newspaper's stand is the fact that a former auxiliary bishop of Sydney, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, will introduce Professor McAleese when she takes the stage.  

The Archdiocese of Sydney had recently rebuked Professor McAleese for her attack of Cardinal Pell, now Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy in Vatican City, for his appointment of Sydney archdiocese business manager, Danny Casey, to his Rome office.


Professor McAleese said the position had not been openly advertised and it looked like "the gravitational pull of the old boys' club".

The former Irish head of state is in Sydney as the guest of the Australian Catholic think-tank, Catalyst for Renewal.

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Vatican's doctrinal chief renews criticism of US nuns, says he's no misogynist
David Gibson      Sep.2, 2014

The Vatican's guardian of orthodoxy and the force behind Rome's investigation of American nuns has renewed his criticism of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, downplaying the group's size and importance and arguing that the Vatican is trying to help them recover their religious identity so they don't die out.

 "Above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don't want to gobble up a woman a day!" Cardinal Gerhard Müller told L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semiofficial newspaper, in the edition published on Monday.

. . . .

The Vatican's doctrinal watchdog also said the sisters were focusing too much on social justice issues, such as caring for the poor and advocating for immigrants, and were too active in promoting health care reform. It said the LCWR members should spend more time advancing church teachings on sexuality and abortion. 

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Communion for the Remarried. Francis Has a Yes "In Pectore"
Sandro Magister     Sep.8, 2014

The latest to call for a radical change in the Church's practice and doctrine on marriage is the Belgian bishop of Antwerp, Johan Jozef Bonny.


He did so in early September with a thirty-page memorandum in multiple languages, which he also sent to Pope Francis.


Because the presumed support of Jorge Mario Bergoglio is inevitably part of the arguments of the cardinals, bishops, and theologians who are calling for the change, which would mean granting Eucharistic communion to the divorced and remarried: a key argument of the synod of bishops on the family set to have its first session in Rome this October.


Pope Francis has never said explicitly what his position is in the dispute - to which he intentionally gave free rein - between the proponents and opponents of the change.
. . . .

In any case, there is evidence for the idea that Pope Francis leans more to the side of the innovators in the appreciation that he has repeatedly expressed for Cardinal Walter Kasper, foremost among supporters of the change, whom he charged with introducing the discussion on the theme of the family at the consistory of cardinals last February.

. . . .

This brings up the question: up to what point is it plausible to assign Francis to the camp of the innovators, on the question of communion for the remarried? And if this convergence exists, is it just superficial or of substance?


This question is answered by a theologian who has already spoken out on this website to illustrate the innovations of method in the most representative document of pope Bergoglio, "Evangelii Gaudium": Paul-Anthony McGavin of Australia age 70, a priest of the archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn and an ecclesiastical assistant at the University of Canberra.


McGavin leans toward a change and does not conceal his agreement with Kasper's positions. But this is not what he has written about. He instead dedicates his essay to demonstrating the affinity between the proposals of innovation and the "methodology" of Francis, intolerant of any "closed system," whether pastoral or doctrinal. 


The complete text of the essay by the Australian theologian:
Reconciling anomalies: a hermeneutic on divorce and remarriage

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Catholic Church must welcome 'unconventional couples,' says top Italian bishop
Josephine McKenna      Sep.2, 2014

The Catholic Church should make "unconventional couples" feel at home instead of making them targets of "de facto discrimination," the leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis said this week.

 "Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice," said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, an apparent reference to divorced and remarried Catholics.

 "The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination," he said Wednesday (Aug. 27) in an address to a national conference on liturgy in the Italian hill town of Orvieto.

Galantino was Francis' choice in March to lead the fractious Italian hierarchy, and from the beginning the bishop has adopted the pontiff's inclusive approach. That has often landed Galantino in hot water, as he has spoken about the need for the church to welcome gays and to consider optional celibacy for the priesthood.
Read more

A Church for the Poor
Paul Vallely     Sep.4, 2014

Pope Francis grabbed headlines recently when he announced that Rome had lifted the block on sainthood for Archbishop Óscar Romero of San Salvador, who was shot dead while saying Mass in 1980. But much less attention was given to another of the pope's actions, one that underscores a significant shift inside the  Vatican  under the first Latin American pope in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

. . . .

This month he also lifted a ban from saying Mass imposed nearly 30 years ago upon Rev. Miguel d'Escoto Brockmann, who had been suspended as a priest for serving as foreign minister in Nicaragua's revolutionary Sandinista government in the same era. There is no ambiguity about the position on liberation theology of Father d'Escoto, who once called President Ronald Reagan a "butcher" and an "international outlaw." Later, as president of the United Nations General Assembly, Father d'Escoto condemned American "acts of aggression" in Iraq and Afghanistan.


But there is more to the pope's action than kindness to an 81-year-old man. In a remarkable turnaround, liberation theology is being brought in from the cold.

. . . .

After the Cold War ended, Pope Benedict encouraged bishops in Latin America to find new ways of expressing the church's "bias to the poor." He attended their seminal meeting in Aparecida, Brazil, in 2007, at which they refined the message of liberation theology. The priest the bishops elected to draft the document was Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the archbishop of Buenos Aires, who six years later was elected Pope Francis, and announced that he wanted "a poor church, for the poor."

The pope has gone through his own revolution on liberation theology. He was named leader of the Jesuits in Argentina in 1973, in part to crack down on the movement. But 15 years later, after undergoing what he has called a "great interior crisis," he became "Bishop of the Slums" in Buenos Aires and revised his views. Over the following decades he rehabilitated key figures in liberation theology in Argentina and supported the kind of bottom-up initiatives that the Vatican, with its top-down authoritarian model of governance, had so feared.

. . . . 

Last year the pope invited Father Gutiérrez, whose 1971 book "A Theology of Liberation" had been for years under investigation by the C.D.F., to meet him in the Vatican. L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican's semi-official newspaper, marked the event by proclaiming that liberation theology can no longer "remain in the shadows to which it has been relegated for some years, at least in Europe." Moreover, Father Gutiérrez has recently co-authored a new book with Archbishop Gerhard Müller, the current head of the C.D.F., who was appointed to the post by Benedict XVI. Archbishop Müller now describes liberation theology as one of the "most significant currents of Catholic theology of the 20th century." 


The perspectives of the West, which have for so long dominated the thinking of the Vatican, are being augmented by those of Latin America. A new historical moment has arrived. Pope Francis is taking a risk. Conservatives, who are already muttering about other changes in this new Franciscan era, are not happy. But at a time when the economic gap between the rich and the poor is widening, the pope's rehabilitation of liberation theology is timely and most welcome. 

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Bones of contention: Catholic dioceses fight over Archbishop Sheen's body
David Gibson       Sep.4, 2014

Fulton SheenIn life, Archbishop Fulton Sheen was exceptional, a riveting Catholic preacher on radio who outpolled star comedian Milton Berle in the early days of television, winning two Emmys and a following that was the envy of Bible-thumping Protestants.

After his death in 1979, it was no surprise that Sheen would be pushed for sainthood. But now two bishops have clashed in an unusual public dispute over who holds claim to Sheen's body: the Archdiocese of New York, where he is buried, or the Diocese of Peoria, where he was raised and ordained.


The fight between Illinois Bishop Daniel Jenky and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York erupted into public view on Wednesday (Sept. 3), when Jenky issued a statement blasting the New York archdiocese for thwarting Sheen's expected beatification next year by reneging on an agreement to return the late archbishop's body to Peoria.
. . . .  

On Thursday, the Archdiocese of New York rejected Jenky's claims and said it would be happy to take over Sheen's cause if Peoria balks.


Dolan's spokesman, Joseph Zwilling, noted in a statement that Sheen's own wish was to be buried in St. Patrick's and that his closest surviving relatives also want him to remain there.

. . . . 

How or whether this fight over Sheen can be settled is unclear. Dolan is a cardinal and past president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and he has influence in the American hierarchy and in Rome that Jenky can't match.


The Vatican department in charge of advancing Sheen's cause of sainthood said in a statement Thursday (Sept. 4)  it "does not believe that this will be a lasting impediment." But it added that "it depends upon negotiations between others."


Still, this sort of fight is bad publicity for the Catholic Church, and it's hard to imagine that the American bishops would want to be seen as stomping on sainthood for a candidate like Sheen, who remains remarkably popular even decades after his death. 

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Peres: Pope Francis is only leader respected enough to end today's wars
Carol Glatz    Sep.4, 2014

Former Israeli President Shimon Peres asked Pope Francis to head a parallel United Nations called the "United Religions" to counter religious extremism in the world today.


"In the past, most wars were motivated by the idea of nationhood. Today, however, wars are incited above all using religion as an excuse," Peres told the Catholic magazine, Famiglia Cristiana, ahead of the papal meeting Sept. 4.

 Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, confirmed that Peres, who ended his presidential term in July, had requested the meeting and told the pope about his idea.

The pope, however, did not commit himself to the proposal.


"The pope listened" to the idea just as he always does with any peace initiative, "showing his interest, his attention and encouragement," Father Lombardi said.


But "the pope made no personal commitment" and reminded Peres that the Vatican has the Pontifical Councils for Interreligious Dialogue and for Justice and Peace -- two offices "that are suitable" for supporting or following such initiatives, Father Lombardi said.


Pope Francis also met later in the day with Jordan's Prince El Hassan bin Talal, who, for the past four decades, has worked to promote interfaith understanding and dialogue around the world. 

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James Foley and Steven Sotloff were martyrs for freedom, not faith
Brian Pellott     Sep.4, 2014

James Foley was Catholic. Steven Sotloff was Jewish. Both held American passports. Both were freelance journalists. Both were beheaded by Islamic State extremists. Neither died for their faiths.

. . . .

Addressing the camera, Foley's executioner said to President Obama, "This is James Wright Foley, an American citizen of your country...any attempt by you, Obama, to deny the Muslims their rights of living in safety under the Islamic caliphate will result in the bloodshed of your people."

No mention of Foley's faith. 

Now with Sotloff, a man presumed to be the same unidentified executioner said, "You, Obama, have but to gain from your actions but another American citizen. So just as your missiles continue to strike our people, our knife will continue to strike the necks of your people..."

No mention of Sotloff's faith.

. . . .

Foley and Sotloff were killed for what they represented, firstly and explicitly because they were American citizens, secondly, it seems, because they were journalists.  

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Vatican Addresses Report Saying Pope Francis Is An ISIS Target
Cavan Sieczkowski     Aug.27, 2014

The Vatican is speaking out against a claim that Pope Francis is a target of the Islamic State militant group, otherwise known as ISIS.

In an article published Monday, Italy's Il Temponewspaper reported that the pope is a target of ISIS. The paper, citing an unnamed Italian intelligence source, states the pope -- who is considered the "bearer of false truths" by the group -- is "in the crosshairs of ISIS" and that the extremist group plans to "raise the level of confrontation" by attacking Italy and greater Europe.

However, the Vatican has dismissed the report.

. . . .

ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who is behind the group's offense to overtake large regions of Iraq and Syria in an effort to establish its own Islamic State, issued a threat against Rome earlier this summer, near the start of Ramadan.


"Rush O Muslims to your state. It is your state. Syria is not for Syrians and Iraq is not for Iraqis. The land is for the Muslims, all Muslims," he said in an audio recording posted online and reported by the Telegraph. "This is my advice to you. If you hold to it you will conquer Rome and own the world, if Allah wills." 

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Italy Steps Up Security Over Alleged ISIS Plot to Kill the Pope
Barbie Latza Nadeau       Aug.28, 2014

As Pope Francis continues to straddle the fine line between calling for the end of persecution of Christians in Iraq and blessing American airstrikes against the Islamic State (also known as the "Caliphate," ISIS, or ISIL), there is increasing concern for the pontiff's-and the public's-safety. 

. . . .

The Vatican downplayed the concerns, calling them unfounded despite growing concern in Italy that it is not just the Pope who is under threat.  "There is nothing serious to this," Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi told Catholic News Agency.  "There is no particular concern in the Vatican." 


The Italian government apparently begs to differ.  Earlier this week, Italy's deputy interior minister Filippo Bubbico said that Italy and the Vatican are equally at risk after authorities issued a terrorism alert, warning ISIS could launch terrorist attacks on what they referred to as "sensitive targets" in Rome and elsewhere, specifically pinpointing embassies to both Italy and the Holy See, Catholic churches, bus and train stations, sea ports, airports and travel agencies. Other security measures include restricting air space above Vatican City and Italy's foreign ministry, in addition to stepped up police presence in public transportation hubs and busy tourist sites like the Coliseum, the Spanish Steps and St. Peter's Square.  

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How Survivors Have Changed History
Thomas P. Doyle, O.P.       Aug.2 2014 

Fr. Thomas P. Doyle's address at SNAP's 25th Anniversary Convention 

A letter sent by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana to the papal nuncio in June, 1984, was the trigger that set in motion a series of events that has changed the fate of the victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and clergy of all denominations. The letter informed the nuncio that the Gastel family had decided to withdraw from a confidential monetary settlement with the diocese. It went on to say they had obtained the services of an attorney and planned to sue the diocese.


This long process has had a direct impact on much more than the fate of victims and the security of innocent children and vulnerable persons of any age. It has altered the image and role of the institutional Catholic Church in western society to such an extent that the tectonic plates upon which this Church rests have shifted in a way never expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.
. . . . 

I cannot find language that can adequately communicate the full import of this monstrous phenomenon. The image of a Christian Church that enabled the sexual and spiritual violation of its most vulnerable members and when confronted, responded with institutionalized mendacity and utter disregard for the victims cannot be adequately described as a "problem," a "crisis" or a "scandal." The widespread sexual violation of children and adults by clergy and the horrific response of the leadership, especially the bishops, is the present-day manifestation of a very dark and toxic dimension of the institutional Church. This dark side has always existed. In our era it has served as the catalyst for a complex and deeply rooted process that can be best described as a paradigm shift. The paradigm for responding to sexual abuse by clergy has shifted at its foundation. The paradigm for society's understanding of and response to child sexual abuse had begun to shift with the advent of the feminist movement in the early seventies but was significantly accelerated by the mid-eighties. 

 The paradigm of the institutional Church interacting in society has shifted and continues to do so as the forces demanding justice, honesty and accountability by the hierarchy continue their relentless pressure. The Catholic monolith, once accepted by friend and foe alike as a rock-solid monarchy, is crumbling.

The single most influential and forceful element in this complex historical process has not been the second Vatican Council. It has been the action of the victims of sexual abuse. 

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OpEd: The Vatican's Defrocked Diplomat
NYT editorial boarf      Sep.1, 2014

Roman Catholics and much of the world have been closely watching for evidence that Pope Francis has the wherewithal to buck the resistance to reform from the Vatican's powerful bureaucracy.

 An encouraging sign emerged last week with the announcement that the Vatican's former ambassador to the Dominican Republic had been stripped of diplomatic immunity and could be tried there for his alleged soliciting of underage boys for sexual acts. The announcement reversed a devious and secret stratagem engineered by unidentified Vatican officials last year to recall the ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, before Dominican authorities could bring criminal charges of child abuse against him.

. . . . 

The Vatican denied it had attempted a cover-up in recalling the archbishop, pointing out that he was later defrocked after church officials concluded he was indeed guilty of abusing children. Defrocking is hardly adequate punishment for criminal acts, however, and the Vatican maintains the former archbishop might still face criminal charges under its own laws. There are understandable concerns that this could be used to shield him from full justice in the places where he allegedly abused children. However it ends, the case will be followed as an indicator of Pope Francis's commitment to true church reform. 

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Vatican accepts resignation of Cardinal Seán Brady, leader of Catholic Church in Ireland
BBC News      Sep.8, 2014

The Vatican has announced that it has accepted the resignation of the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Seán Brady.

Last month, Dr Brady, who has been the leader of Ireland's Catholics for 18 years, confirmed that he offered his resignation to Pope Francis in July.


His tenure had been beset by clerical child sex abuse scandals and claims that he helped to cover up one case.


Archbishop Eamon Martin has been announced as his successor.

Pope Francis has appointed him Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of all Ireland.


He was appointed as coadjutor archbishop of Armagh in January 2013 and ordained in April 2013.


Cardinal Brady resisted calls to resign in 2010, when it emerged that when he was a young priest in 1975, he attended meetings during which two teenage sex abuse victims were sworn to secrecy after they alleged they had been abused by Fr Brendan Smyth. 

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Minneapolis priest says Archbishop Nienstedt must resign if church is to heal
Jean Hopfensperger      Sep.1 2014

The Rev. Patrick Kennedy of St. Olaf Catholic Church has called for the resignation of Twin Cities Archbishop John Nienstedt, saying it would create a "collective sigh of relief" from Twin Cities Catholics.

In the Aug. 31 church newsletter, Kennedy wrote that he reached the conclusion after returning to  Minneapolis  recently following two years away. It was then that he realized the "full effect" of the recent clergy sex abuse scandal on Catholics in the pews.

"There appears to be a pall over the Archdiocese that is affecting the ministry we are trying to be about," wrote Kennedy, pastor at the downtown Minneapolis church.

"People are leaving our parishes. Some have stopped giving money. Others have stayed but carry a heavy heart. ... " he wrote.

Conversations with family members, friends, parishioners and others indicate that there is no confidence that Nienstedt can lead the church out of the mess, Kennedy continued. Catholics are "troubled and angry by what has happened and how the situation is handled," he said. 

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Court ruling is victory for new legal strategy in clergy abuse cases
Jean Hopfensperger    Sep.3, 2014

A Minnesota clergy abuse lawsuit has broken new ground with a judge's ruling that a public nuisance claim can be made against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

The ruling by Ramsey District Judge John Van de North allows attorneys for the alleged victim of sexual abuse to examine all evidence pertaining to all clergy abuse across the Roman Catholic diocese and not be limited solely to the abuse committed by a particular priest.

Legal experts say it may be the first time a U.S. court has allowed a clergy abuse victim to pursue a public nuisance claim.

"This is something that lawyers across the nation will take notice of and follow," said Charles Reid, a professor of civil and canon law at the University of St. Thomas. 

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New Evidence Points to Church, Police Cover-Up In Sexual Abuse-Related Murder of Baltimore Nun
Tom Nugent       Aug.23, 2014

More than 44 years after Sister Catherine Ann Cesnik was brutally murdered while reportedly attempting to blow the whistle on widespread sexual abuse at her Catholic high school in Baltimore, there is startling new evidence to suggest that she was killed to prevent her from speaking out.

The same evidence sheds new light on the murder of a second victim - 20-year-old Joyce Malecki, whose body was found only a few days after the nun died from a blow to the head.  Increasingly, investigators believe Malecki may also have been killed in an effort to keep Church-related sex abuse hidden from the public.

Obtained during a two-year investigation by this reporter, the new findings also include testimony indicating that one or more local police officers participated in the sex abuse . . . and that both the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore and Baltimore-area police officials then orchestrated a cover-up of the two killings that has lasted for more than four decades.

The new evidence shows that the second murder victim had close ties to the same Catholic parish - St. Clements in Lansdowne, located only a few miles from Archbishop Keough High School in southwest Baltimore - where two Catholic priests who were later defrocked for rampant sexual abuse lived off and on during the period in which the nun was killed.

One of those later-defrocked priests was serving as the chaplain at Keough when the nun (a beloved English teacher and also the drama coach) was abducted and killed on the evening of November 7, 1969.

In recent months, Baltimore police sources have confirmed that Baltimore police took statements (in the early 1990s) from an alleged eyewitness who said that she and a friend were in the murdered nun's apartment the day before she was killed - and that they had come there to ask her help in reporting the sexual abuse at the high school.   The statements given to police reportedly noted that during the visit to the nun's apartment, an eventually defrocked abuser-priest - who was the subject of their complaints and the chaplain at the high school - also showed up at the nun's apartment and seemed intent on discussing an urgent matter with her.

According to the statements taken by police, the priest became angry and threatened to kill one of the visitors if information about the abuse were to become public.


Sister Cathy was killed less than 24 hours later.

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VOTF Bishop Selection Project

VOTF's web link,, allows Catholic lay men and women to provide direct input to the apostolic nuncio, who advises the Vatican on bishop selection for the American Catholic Church.


Catholics may record their concerns and recommendations in three key areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates' ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.

The portal brings into the 21st century a lay-consultative process as old as the Church itself. In the early Church, all members of a diocese - clergy and laity, - elected their bishops, and only in 1917 did Church law reserve the appointment of bishops, with few exceptions, to the pope.


Archbishop Viganò has said that all input reaching him from individual Catholics via the web portal will be reviewed and that "serious observations may well be incorporated in the developed confidential process."

Top Italian Bishop Nunzio Galantino Says Church Must Welcome 'Unconventional Couples'
Josephine McKenna      Aug.28, 2014

The Catholic Church should make "unconventional couples" feel at home instead of making them targets of "de facto discrimination," the leader of the Italian Bishops Conference and an ally of Pope Francis said this week.

"Couples in irregular matrimonial situations are also Christians, but they are sometimes looked upon with prejudice," said Bishop Nunzio Galantino, an apparent reference to divorced and remarried Catholics.

"The burden of exclusion from the sacraments is an unjustified price to pay, in addition to de facto discrimination," he said Wednesday (Aug. 27) in an address to a national conference on liturgy in the Italian hill town of Orvieto. 

Read more

186 Magdalene survivors now receiving redress payments
Noel Baker     Aug.30, 2014

Some 186 survivors of the Magdalene laundries are now receiving payments under the Government's new redress scheme.


Figures provided by the Department of Social Protection show that since the weekly payments commenced in June, 186 women are now receiving the payment, which is one of the steps recommended in the Magdalene Commission Report, also known as the Quirke Report.

. . . .

The level of the payment due is calculated based on current Department of Social Protection payments, if applicable, to ensure that women under the age of 66 will receive a payment of no less than €100 per week, while women aged 66 or over will receive a payment of no less than €230.30 per week. 

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Is God Laughing or Crying?
John Chuchman      Sep. 2014
Yes, We are against Discrimination

Yes, We are against Discrimination

except with regard to
Gays and Lesbians,
People of other Religions,
Those who refuse to 
Pay, Pray, and Obey,
Democrats . . .


Diaconate sparks discrimiation row in Killaloe
Mags Gargan       Sep.4, 2014

The Diocese of Killaloe has vowed to press ahead with the introduction of the permanent diaconate, despite a campaign calling on parishioners to reject the move.

In recent days, posters have started appearing in the porches of churches urging Massgoers to oppose the diaconate because women are not permitted to be ordained.

The move has sparked a stand-off between local Church leaders and some female parish volunteers who feel they are being excluded.

Since Bishop Kieran O'Reilly issued a pastoral letter at the beginning of August inviting applications to the permanent diaconate, a ministry open to married or celibate men, a campaign of posters and flyers has appeared in parishes across the diocese. They say 'Women have had enough of this discrimination', 'No to the permanent diaconate' and 'No to the permanent diaconate, yes to all laity trained to work in pastoral ministry'.

A number of women heavily involved in their local parishes expressed their anger on local radio, Clare FM, saying the diocese had left them feeling like second-class citizens. 

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Gays to march in NYC Parade, with Cardinal Dolan as 2015 Grand Marshal
Debbie McGoldrick     Sep.2, 2014

Cdl.DolanA gay group of employees from NBC will march in next year's New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade behind their own banner, a source with knowledge of the ongoing parade controversy has told the Irish Voice.


On Wednesday, September 3, at a reception at the New York Athletic Club, Cardinal Timothy Dolan will be named as the grand marshal of the 254th St. Patrick's Day parade, set to step off on Tuesday, March 17.

In a historic move aimed at defusing the storm that erupted this year over the exclusion of gay banners in the march, the addition of a banner identifying gay NBC staffers is a compromise forged at the insistence of several New York City St. Patrick's Day Parade Committee  members, including Dr. John Lahey, president of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and Francis X. Comerford, chief revenue officer for NBC-owned TV stations.

NBC, the long-time broadcast home of the St. Patrick's Day parade, was prepared to drop its coverage unless a compromise that resulted in the inclusion of a gay group was brokered. 

The withdrawal of parade sponsorship last year by Guinness was also a huge factor in bringing about the change, according to a former grand marshal.

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Are Catholic conservatives turning on Cardinal Timothy Dolan?
David Gibson      Sep.5, 2014


Cardinal Timothy Dolan's positive reaction to this week's decision by organizers of New York's annual St. Patrick's Day parade to allow gay groups to march under their own banners initially drew charitable responses in many Catholic Church circles.


But it didn't take long for conservative church critics to turn.


After initially signaling his grudging acceptance, William Donohue of the Catholic League came back with a revised view when he realized that more than one gay group could be allowed to march in the future.

. . . .

The St. Patrick's Day parade is closely identified with Irish-Catholicism but it is not a church-sanctioned event.


In his statement welcoming the decision of parade organizers to accept a gay and lesbian contingent from NBC, which broadcasts the event, Dolan stressed New York's archbishops have never "determined who would or would not march in this parade."

. . . .

One of the most blistering rips at Dolan and the parade organizers came from a Washington priest, Monsignor Charles Pope, who blogs at the website of the Archdiocese of Washington.
 . . . . 

"It's time to cancel the St. Patrick's Day Parade and the Al Smith Dinner and all the other 'Catholic' traditions that have been hijacked by the world," he wrote. "Better for Catholics to enter their churches and get down on their knees on St. Patrick's Day to pray in reparation for the foolishness, and to pray for this confused world to return to its senses."

The Washington archdiocese took Pope's post down, though it can still be read at the traditionalist website, Rorate Caeli, which called Dolan's welcome of gays and lesbians to the parade "The St. Patrick's Day Massacre."

Rod Dreher, a writer for The American Conservative and a former Catholic-turned-Orthodox, chimed in with a post titled "You've Been Dolanized," in which he said his Catholic friends in New York are very unhappy.

. . . .
How much impact this criticism will have is unclear. But Dolan clearly seems to be comfortable with the more inclusive posture adopted by Pope Francis.  

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Müller's first meeting with Fellay
Andrea Tornielli       Sep.4, 2014

Contact was never lost between the Society of St. Pius X and the Holy See. Although no official actions or meetings have taken place, unofficial relations have continued. And now the Lefebvrians have confirmed the rumours about a meeting between their superior, Mgr. Bernard Fellay and the Prefect of the Congregation fro the Doctrine of the Faith and President of the Ecclesia Dei commission, Gerhard Ludwig Müller.

The news was announced on this website and then published by Italian Catholic blog, Il Sismografo.

. . . .

It is no secret that there were and still are some within the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith who would like to bring negotiations with the Lefebvrians to a close, reaching an ultimatum. Some had hoped that if no agreement was reached on doctrinal subjects, a new official declaration could be issued to formalise the split. But Pope Francis wants to take things slowly and seeing that relations never ceased, the dialogue between the two continues. And Fellay's meeting with Müller proves this. 

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San Diego Catholic bishop dies after battle with cancer
Victoria Cavaliere      Sep.6, 2014

Roman Catholic Bishop Cirilo Flores, the first Hispanic bishop to preside over San Diego's nearly one million Catholics, died Saturday after a battle with cancer, according to church officials. He was 66.

. . . .

Bishop Flores was the first Hispanic bishop to lead the church in San Diego, a city where one-third of all residents are of Latino heritage, according to U.S. Census data. 

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Capital gains mean church losses in new German tax twist
Tom Heneghan      Aug.29, 2014

A change in Germany's capital gains tax has prompted an exodus from its Catholic and Protestant churches this year as thousands of registered members quit their parishes rather than pay the money.


Dioceses in both churches have reported in recent weeks that the number of members deserting them has jumped compared to last year, often by 50 percent or more, as banks prepare to withdraw church tax at source for capital gains from January 1.

 German tax authorities collect an 8 or 9 percent premium on churchgoers' annual tax bills and channel it to the faiths to pay clergy salaries, charity services and other expenses. Members must officially leave the church to avoid paying this.

 Under a simplified procedure starting next year, banks will withhold that premium from church members earning more than 801 euros ($1,055) in capital gains annually and pass it on to tax authorities for distribution to the churches.

. . . .

These departures already hit the Catholic Church hard last year, rising by 50 percent to 178,805 because many quit in protest after a prelate dubbed the "bishop of bling" spent 31 million euros on a luxurious new residence and office.


"These latest figures are painful and all in the Church must take them seriously," Cardinal Reinhard Marx, head of the German bishops conference and a close adviser of Pope Francis, said last month when the statistics for 2013 were published. 

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In Google Hangout, pope helps launch worldwide social network
Carol Glatz      Sep.5 2014

The wisdom of "It takes a village to raise a child" has been lost as kids are either overprotected by permissive parents or neglected, Pope Francis said.

"The educational partnership has been broken" as families, schools and society are "no longer united together for the child," he said Sept. 4 after holding his first Google Hangout -- a live video conversation -- across five continents with teenagers who belong to the international network of "Scholas occurentes," uniting students of all faiths and cultures.
. . . .

The pope's comments came at the end of an afternoon encounter to launch -- a new social network for students from all over the world to cooperate on environmental and social causes, sport and art initiatives, and charitable activities. 

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The Boston Globe launches Crux to draw a global, Catholic audience

David Uberti          Sep.2, 2014


The religion of journalism has always found believers in Boston. The same goes for Catholicism. No small wonder, then, why the flagship Boston Globe intends to practice the former creed to examine the latter, an ambitious attempt to attract readers outside of city limits. 


On Tuesday, the Globe launched  Crux, a standalone website dedicated entirely to Catholicism. It covers not only the church itself, but also topics such as politics, entertainment, travel, and spirituality - all of them through a Catholic lens. The newspaper has been recognized for its local religion reporting in the past. But Catholicism, of course, stretches far past the Archdiocese of Boston, holding potential for a Globe audience spanning, well, the globe.

. . . .

The Globe has made a habit of shirking conventional wisdom, a manner that has seemingly intensified since Red Sox owner John Henry bought the paper last year.


 "We are going to concentrate on what we are good at, and we are going to dispense with things that we aren't that good at," Henry told the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce in January.  

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Forced Church Visits in California Pass Muster
Lorraine Bailey     Aug.19, 2014

Religious rights are not trampled in forcing caregivers for the developmentally disabled to attend worship services with their clients, the 9th Circuit ruled Tuesday.

In 2009, the San Gabriel/Pomona Regional Center held a meeting to discuss behavioral issues with a client, C.W., of the Payne Care Center, a six-bed residential community care facilities licensed by the California Department of Social Services.

It came out at the meeting that C.W. wanted to attend Jehovah's Witness worship services, and California later informed Payne that it was obligated both to provide an opportunity for C.W. to attend the church of his choice and to have one of its workers personally accompany him to the services because his disability makes him unable to attend without direct staff assistance.

Since Payne did not force its staff to attend worship services with C.W., however, it was cited for violating its obligations to a client.

Payne, its owner and several employees soon suit, alleging that the state trampled their constitutional rights in requiring employees to attend services for a faith not their own.

"Two [Payne Care Center] employees are Catholic and maintain that their Catholic faith restricts them from attending any other religious service unless that service is a wedding or funeral, and another [Payne Care Center] employee refuses to attend or participate in any religious service," the complaint states.

. . . .

 "The primary effect of the regulations at issue is not to inhibit religion insofar as plaintiffs allege that it requires them to engage in conduct in contravention of their own religious beliefs and practices," King wrote. "As noted above, the regulations do not require plaintiffs to adopt any particular religious beliefs or to worship, engage in prayer, or otherwise participate in any religious services. "

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Court Reverses Divorce Order Barring Father From Disparaging Mother's Catholic Religion
Howard Friedman      Aug.20, 2014

In Pierson v. Pierson, (FL App., Aug. 18, 2014), a Florida appellate court reversed the portion of a trial court's order which, in granting a dissolution of a marriage, prohibited the father "from doing anything in front of ... or around the children that disparages or conflicts with the Catholic religion." During the marriage the three children had been raised in the mother's Catholic faith, but while the parties were separated the father became a Jehovah's Witness. One of the children, during a third-grade Catholic Sunday school class, told the teacher and students that their Bible and music were wrong, their priests were bad, and he was going to grow up to be a Jehovah's Witness minister.  The appeals court concluded, however, that "the evidence did not establish the harm necessary to award the mother ultimate religious decision-making authority...." 


Jesus, the consummate storyteller
Michael Fitzgerald      Sep.7, 2014

Who was Jesus, exactly? Depending on your perspective, there are a lot of potential answers: a wandering Jewish mystic; the son of God on Earth; a radical political agitator in the ancient Near East.

Now the New Testament scholar Amy-Jill Levine is offering another one: literary master. In a new book, "Short Stories by Jesus," Levine argues that to understand how Jesus captured people's imaginations, we need to appreciate him as a profoundly gifted storyteller, one who worked through the medium of parables-and that as modern, non-parable-reading people, we have lost the ability to see his genius.

The parables of Jesus are recounted in all four Gospels, and some are so well known we use them as cultural shorthand-the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son. Though they're often treated almost as children's stories, Levine suggests they're nothing of the sort. Levine, who teaches at Vanderbilt University and wrote the 2007 bestseller "The Misunderstood Jew," offers new translations of the parables in her new book, recovering the sense of provocation and challenge they would have presented to their first-century audiences. The Jesus we see here came up with inventive ways to challenge his listeners, and didn't allow them easy answers or room for self-congratulation.

Levine, who grew up in North Dartmouth, developed the book in part through frequent classes and lectures at universities, synagogues, Christian churches, and even a maximum security prison. She says it can be complicated to be Jewish and extol Jesus, but says the stories are "absolutely fabulous" pieces of world literature she wants people to appreciate anew. 

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Upcoming Event

C21 Center Event at Boston College 
Poverty: What Did Jesus Preach? What Does the Church Teach? 

Presenter: Kenneth Himes, OFM

Date: September 23, 2014

Location/Time: Gasson Hall, Room 100, 5:30 p.m. 

Free and open to the public

Register here


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