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Send a letter to your Bishop 
about the Synod
Robert Schutzius, Ph.D.                                         November, 2014 
Based on the results of the 1st session of the Synod on the Family, it is clear that our bishops need our help.  They seem to recognize this as they recommend that another survey, this time of all the faithful, be conducted in the coming year and the results used in the 2nd and final session scheduled for Oct. 2015.  A previous survey in preparation for the 1st session was sent to bishops (who may or may not have shared it with their people), but this new survey is meant for all, clergy and laity and to be used at the final session.
This is your chance to be heard.  Write and urge your bishop to participate in this survey and to offer it to his people in every parish, providing him with the benefit of your experience in trying to live your faith in everyday life.  The draft below offers a sample letter for you to adapt and send to your bishop.  The Church desperately needs to hear from you!


Date _____

Dear (Arch) Bishop _________,
I first want to thank you for your dedication to the Catholic Families of (your location), and for your guidance and help in responding to the will of the Holy Spirit as expressed by the magisterium as well as the sensus fidelium.  Discerning this is not easy knowing full well the limitations of human judgment.  In the recent extraordinary Synod on the Family the varying sincere expressions of faith demonstrated this quite clearly.  While the historical teachings of the Church are clear, the understanding and lived-experience of the faithful seem to challenge how these historical teachings apply to modern-day life.
I was excited to learn that in preparation for the 2nd and final session of the Synod, schedule for October 2015, that a survey of all the Catholic faithful (sensus fidelium) in the world would be undertaken to provide the local bishops with a clearer understanding of how the faith-filled understanding of Catholic teachings are expressed by their people.
I, and my Catholic community, look forward to completing this survey and to sharing with you what our experiences in everyday-life have taught us as we try to live out our faith, so that you, in turn, can contribute this to the working of the Holy Spirit in the forthcoming Synod.  Thank you in advance for providing us, your people, with this extraordinary and rare opportunity to be heard. 
Sincerely yours,

Bob Schutzius is an ARCC presidential advisor and former long-time board member.    



Here is one bishop's response to a copy of the above letter that was sent to him (with all identifying information removed):


Dear ______,
I received your letter of November __, 2014 and I thank you for writing.  I know that lot of excellent information was put together and sent off to Rome during the first lay consultation.
Unfortunately, at the time they said that we were not able to share the information that was pulled together since they did not have a document the people were reacting to.
In the next Synod I hope that we have the opportunity to not only gather data but also to share what we collect from the people of  _______ (diocese).
Thank you for your suggestion and I pray that these days are of blessing for you.
Sincerely yours in Christ.
(bishop's signature)   


Some things we have been reading  
US bishops elect delegates to synod: Kurtz, Chaput, DiNardo, Gomez
CNA      Nov.14, 2014

Meeting in Baltimore for their annual fall meeting, the U.S. bishops have selected their choices for delegates to next year's Synod on the Family, sources have confirmed to CNA.


The delegates, in order of election, are: Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, president of the U.S. bishops' conference; Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, who is hosting the 2015 World Meeting of Families; Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, the bishops' conference vice president; and Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles, the highest-ranking Hispanic bishop in the country, who leads the nation's largest diocese.

The two alternates elected are Archbishop-designate Blase Cupich, who will soon be installed in Chicago, and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, who heads the U.S. bishops' defense and promotion of marriage subcommittee. 

Read more

Bishops' meeting lacks passion, leadership
Thomas Reese       Nov.14, 2014

A lack of passion and leadership marked the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week in Baltimore. Their agenda was stale and did not reflect the excitement that Pope Francis' papacy has generated.

. . . .

The action items dealt with minor liturgical translations, which got some of the bishops excited, but no one else. Should it be "children of Adam," as the committee recommended, or "children of men," or "sons of men"? The committee won. And does the bishop really have to preach while seated with a miter on his head and crosier in hand at the dedication of a church as required by the rubrics?


Meanwhile, nothing was said about the economic plight of the American people, gridlock in Washington, or the wars in which America is engaged. They practically ignored immigration and only gave a few minutes to the topic because the media kept asking why the bishops were silent on the hottest political issue of the day.


There is a significant faction among the bishops and the USCCB staff who do not want these issues emphasized lest they distract from their core agenda -- opposition to gay marriage, abortion, and the contraceptive mandate.

. . . .

The reports from U.S. bishops who attended the synod on the family were brief and unexciting except for that of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who took the opportunity to attack the media for their coverage of the synod. According to Dolan, everything was hunky-dory at the synod without a disagreement expressed. The media's coverage was nothing like the meeting he attended, he declared.



It appears to be a mortal sin to admit in public that bishops might disagree with each other and argue over church teaching and practice. Needless to say, this ham-handed spinning does not help the bishops' credibility. Dolan got a generous round of applause after his presentation and was elected chair-elect of the USCCB pro-life committee.

. . . . 

If the bishops were totally behind Pope Francis they would have elected as delegates his best friend in the American hierarchy, Cardinal Sean O'Malley, and Archbishop-designate Cupich, his first major appointee. 


A big part of the trouble with the American hierarchy is that the bishops have no one to consult. The conservative theologians, who have been advising them during the last two papacies, are as upset as the ideologically conservative bishops. Since progressive theologians were labeled heretics, kicked out of seminaries, and shunned like Ebola patients, bishops have no one to explain to them how to thrive with the discussion and debate being encouraged by Francis.


Sadly, few bishops would feel comfortable inviting theologians from the local Catholic college over for dinner and conversation, yet that is exactly what is needed.

Read more

Irish archbishop decries comments critical of pope following synod
Michael Kelly      Nov.4, 2014

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin decried comments from clerics and others who said Pope Francis caused confusion in his calls for an open discussion on how the church should reach out to those who are marginalized, hurt and wounded in their lives during the recent Synod of Bishops on the family.


Archbishop Martin said he was "quite surprised at the remarks of some commentators within church circles about the recent Synod of Bishops, often making accusations of confusion where such confusion did not exist and so actually fomenting confusion."

. . . .

Archbishop Martin said he believed that "a longing for certainties may spring from personal uncertainty rather than strong faith."


"A strong -- and indeed orthodox faith -- is never afraid of discussion," he said.


"They fail to see how Pope Francis shows that his concern for people who suffer is far from being a sign of dogmatic relativism, but rather is a sign of pastoral patience," Archbishop Martin said.


Archbishop Martin also said that "a church which becomes a comfort zone for the like-minded ceases to be truly the Church of Jesus Christ." 

Read more

US archbishop orders priest to bar pro-reform Irish Redemptorist
Sarah Mac Donald      Nov.6, 2014

An American parish priest has refused a request from his archbishop to cancel or change the venue of a talk by the pro-reform Irish priest, Fr Tony Flannery.


Fr Mike Tegeder of the parish of St Frances Cabrini in central Minneapolis was summoned to a meeting by Archbishop John Nienstedt of St Paul and Minneapolis, who asked that the venue of Fr Flannery's talk be changed from the parish to a non-Catholic location.


Writing on the parish website, Fr Tegeder said the archbishop wanted a change of venue so as "not to cause scandal". He also said that Archbishop Nienstedt described the Irish priest as "not a Catholic".


During the 30-minute meeting with the archbishop, Fr Tegeder said he pointed out that Fr Flannery is a Catholic of good standing and has been, and remains, a member of the Redemptorist order for more than 40 years.


"To say he is not Catholic is to suggest he has been excommunicated, which is not the case, and in fact is a defamatory statement," Fr Tegeder said, adding that he queried what scandal could be caused by adult Catholics having a discussion about "needed church reform".

Read more

Controversial priest's visit exposes rift in Catholic Church

Pastor's comments


Sign on podium:

Tonight's speaker, Tony Flannery, is not to be perceived in any way as being sponsored by the Catholic Church. This announcement comes from Archbishop John C. Nienstedt, Chief Catechist of the Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis. 

Minneapolis and Mike Tegeder
Tony Flannery       Nov.6, 2014
Fr. Tony Flannery
Fr. Mike Tegeder

This evening in Minneapolis was probably the best evening I have had so far on my tour.  It was my first time in a Catholic church on this tour;  and the controversy between the pastor and the Archbishop certainly helped to gather the crowd. So the church was overflowing, and the basement hall was also used to fit the crowd - with a speaker installed. So the crowd must have numbered at least four hundred, some having come long distances.


For me it had the feel of a good novena back home, with the same atmosphere, sense of community and excitement.


There is a real problem here with the Archbishop.  People feel angry and hurt with the way he is behaving, and that came through in the discussion.  The question was being asked:  with someone like that in charge of the diocese, is there any way that he can be bypassed, and that the movement for reform can make its voice heard in  the national forum? They love the pastor, Mike Tegeder, and the warmth towards him from the people was palpable.

Read more

Jesus and the Modern Man
James Carroll       Nov.8, 2014

Sometimes, when I kneel alone in a pew in the far back shadows of a church, face buried in my hands, a forbidden thought intrudes: You should have left all this behind a long time ago. The joyful new pope has quickened the affection even of the disaffected, including me, but, oddly, I sense the coming of a strange reversal in the Francis effect. The more universal the appeal of his spacious witness, the more cramped and afraid most of his colleagues in the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church have come to seem.

. . . .

The intruding voice in my head keeps asking, for example, why has Francis, too, joined in the denigration of American nuns?


Why is the culture of clerical immunity that unleashed a legion of priest-rapists being protected instead of dismantled?


Why in the world beatify, or advance toward sainthood, Pope Paul VI? With his solemn reiteration, in 1968, of the ban on contraception, that pontiff, whatever counterbalancing virtues he displayed, single-handedly made Roman Catholicism a church of bad conscience.


Is an awful truth about dogged church backlash on display here?

. . . . 

Yet Jesus Christ is the point of all the smells, bells, rules and dogma; the point, finally, of being Catholic. Ironically, the failures of the church make that point with power, for it is when one dares imagine the deliberate act of lapsing that the image of Jesus Christ snaps into foreground focus. Here, perhaps, is the key to Pope Francis's astounding arrival, for beyond all matters of style, doctrine and behavior, he is offering a sure glimpse of a fleeting truth about the faith: The man on his knees washing the feet of the tired poor is the Son of God.

. . . .

The horrified reckoning after the Holocaust was the beginning of the Christian reform that remains the church's unfinished moral imperative to this day.


Most emphatically, that reform must be centered in a critical rereading of the Gospel texts, so that the misremembered anti-Jewish Jesus can give way to the man as he was, and to the God whom he makes present in the lives of all who cannot stop seeing more than is before their eyes.


Such retrieval of the centrality of Jesus can restore a long-lost simplicity of faith, which makes Catholic identity - or the faith of any other church - only a means to a larger communion not just with fellow Jesus people, but with humans everywhere. All dogmas, ordinances and accretions of tradition must be measured against the example of the man who, acting wholly as a son of Israel, eschewed power, exuded kindness, pointed to one whom he called Father, and invited those bent over in the shadowy back to come forward to his table.

Read more

Church offers prayers, Mexicans express outrage for missing students
David Agren         Nov.10 2014

Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera of Mexico City offered prayers during Mass Nov. 9 for Mexico's 43 missing teacher trainees, who authorities allege were captured by crooked cops, killed by organized crime and had their bodies burned.


The Mexican bishops' conference, meanwhile, issued a statement of solidarity with the families, who refuse to accept the authorities' explanations and continue calling for their children to be brought back alive.

. . . .

Everyday Mexicans have taken to the streets, condemning the crimes committed against the students and the apparent collusion between criminals and the political class in parts of the country. 

. . . .

Authorities arrested Jose Luis Abarca, mayor of Iguala, and his wife, Maria de los Angeles Pineda, Nov. 4 in Mexico City, alleging they ordered the attack on the students. The couple claimed the students were coming to protest a community event planned by Pineda. 


Classmates said the students went to Iguala, 120 miles south of Mexico City, to collect funds for a future trip to the capital, but had their borrowed buses shot at by police -- who detained 43 of the teacher trainees and handed them over to members of the Guerreros Unidos gang.

. . . .

Catholic leaders have called for a change in Mexico, even though they are seen in some cities as part of the establishment -- rubbing shoulders with prominent politicians and businessmen and staying silent on issues such as insecurity and corruption.


"The reality of our present-day Mexico did not surge from one year ago or five years ago," Bishop Francisco Moreno Barron of Tlaxcala told the Reforma newspaper. "It has been gestating for a long time through corruption and impunity and I believe that it's time to put a stop to it." 

Read more

New York bishop bans priest travel to West Africa
David Andreatta      Nov.4 2014

Citing the seriousness of the Ebola epidemic and a concern for the faithful in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, Bishop Salvatore Matano has banned priests from traveling to West Africa, the epicenter of the outbreak.


Any priest who defies the order by making a trip without permission from the bishop or the diocesan vicar general or chancellor will no longer be permitted to work in the diocese.

. . . .

Banned destinations include the three countries hardest hit by the disease - Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone - and four other countries that have not experienced outbreaks - Ghana, Senegal, Mali and Nigeria. There have been isolated cases in Mali and Nigeria, and Ebola has not surfaced at all in Senegal and Ghana, according to the World Health Organization. 


The policy also bans traveling on connecting flights through the countries, and requests that anyone with plans to visit other countries in Africa delay their trip. 

. . . .

Catholicism has exploded in Africa in recent decades and, according to the diocese, 12 priests who hail from the continent are employed in diocese parishes. 

Read more

Pope Francis To World Leaders: Consumerism Represents 'Constant Assault' On The Environment
Katie Valentine       Nov.13, 2014

Pope Francis had choice words for countries meeting at the G20 leadership conference this weekend, reminding the world leaders to keep the natural environment in mind as they discuss economic issues.


The Pope sent a letter to Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott, who's chairing the conference of G20 nations, a group of major developed and emerging economies that includes the U.S., China and the E.U. 


In it, the Pope warned the countries against unchecked consumerism, as well as reminding the leaders of the people in their own countries who are unemployed and who can't get enough to eat.


"There are constant assaults on the natural environment, the result of unbridled consumerism, and this will have serious consequences for the world economy," the Pope wrote in his letter.

Read more

All heads of Vatican departments will be made to retire at 75
Christopher Lamb      Nov.5, 2014

A "rescriptum" on the resignation of bishops and those appointed to positions by the Pope came into effect on Wednesday and takes on board recommendations of the Council of Cardinals, the group advising Francis on the reform of the Roman Curia also known as the "C9".


It states that cardinals who lead a curial department and diocesan bishops must offer their resignation on turning 75, although the document praises bishops who do so earlier due to ill health or another reason.


It also points out that the Pope may ask a bishop to resign after a "fraternal dialogue".

Read more

Pope removes Cardinal Burke from Vatican post
Francis X. Rocca      Nov.8, 2014

Pope Francis has removed U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, 66, as head of the Vatican's highest court and named him to a largely ceremonial post with a chivalric religious order.


Cardinal Burke, formerly prefect of the Apostolic Signature, will now serve as cardinal patron of the Knights and Dames of Malta, the Vatican announced Nov. 8.


The move had been widely expected since an Italian journalist reported it in September, and Cardinal Burke himself confirmed it to reporters last month.


It is highly unusual for a pope to remove an official of Cardinal Burke's stature and age without assigning him comparable responsibilities.


According to church law, cardinals in the Vatican must offer to resign at 75, but they often continue in their positions for several more years.

Read more

A signal on removal of bishops?
John Thavis        Nov.6, 2014

A single sentence in a papal document issued today may signal that Pope Francis is willing take a stronger hand in removing some bishops from office.


The one-page document deals primarily with the age of a bishop's retirement. But it also states: "In some particular circumstances, the competent Authority (the pope) may consider it necessary to ask a bishop to present the resignation of his pastoral office, after letting him know the motives for such a request and after listening attentively to his justifications, in fraternal dialogue."


The power of a pope to sack a bishop has always been presumed, but here it is spelled out. It comes after Pope Francis has already removed a Paraguayan bishop from office over pastoral controversies, and accepted the resignation of a German bishop in the wake of a spending scandal.

 The Vatican is actively investigating the pastoral leadership of at least two other prelates, including Bishop Robert W. Finn of Kansas City, Mo., who was convicted two years ago by a civil court on misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspected child abuse by a diocesan priest.

Read more

O'Malley: Pope recognizes need to address Bishop Finn situation
Joshua J. McElwee    Nov.14, 2014

Boston Cardinal Seán O'Malley, a key advisor to Pope Francis, has said the pontiff recognizes the need to address the situation in Kansas City, Mo., where Bishop Robert Finn was found guilty in 2012 of a criminal misdemeanor count of shielding a priest who was a threat to children. 


Speaking in a forthcoming interview with the U.S. television program 60 Minutes, O'Malley says the situation surrounding Finn is "a question that the Holy See needs to address urgently."


"There's a recognition of that -- from Pope Francis," O'Malley continues during the interview, which is to air Sunday evening.


CBS made a preview of the interview available online Friday.

Read more

Twin Cities Archdiocese, Vatican Accused Of Destroying Priest Child Porn Tapes
Esme Murphy      Nov.13, 2014

There are new allegations that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis destroyed as many as five suspected child porn videos - and that the Vatican knew what happened.

. . . .

One of the new names released by the archdiocese is 77-year-old Father Don Dummer. In 1997, when Dummer was working at St. Mary's Church in St. Paul, a part-time employee said he found VHS tapes in Dummer's room at a St. Paul home.


One of those videos was of 10- to 12-year-old boys playing basketball in the nude. The co-worker turned the videos over to then-Vicar General Kevin McDonough. Attorney Mike Finnegan said the co-worker waited to see what McDonough would do.


"He waited and waited and heard nothing from the vicar general, so he called McDonough again, he asked if he had checked it out and McDonough said, 'Yes,' and that he had destroyed the videos," Finnegan said.


But more videos were reportedly found in Dummer's room. In 2002, one frustrated Twin Cities parent sent three of Dummer's videos to the Vatican's embassy in Washington D.C.


The woman urged that Dummer should be removed from St. Mary's and from his job as a chaplain at what is now Regions Hospital in St. Paul. But it appears the Vatican also took no action.


"The Vatican Embassy chose to avoid scandal instead of protecting children," Finnegan said.


And in yet another letter, a superior of Dummer's wrote that when confronted, he denied all wrongdoing - and in the same letter the superior says he will destroy the additional videos.

. . . .

Dummer lives in a retirement home for priests in Massachusetts and could not be reached for comment. 

Read more

Cardinal Dolan: 30 Percent of NY Parishes to Merge
Associated Press       Nov.2, 2014

Cardinal Timothy Dolan on Sunday announced plans for the merger of almost a third of the parishes in the Archdiocese of New York, one of the largest reorganizations in the archdiocese.


An advisory committee of clergy and other diocesan officials conducted a years long review before coming up with the plan to merge 112 of the 368 parishes. The reorganization affects churches throughout the archdiocese, from Staten Island to Sullivan County, and takes effect Aug. 1, 2015.

. . . .

It was unclear what would be done with the unused churches and buildings.

Read more

Archdiocese of Chicago to release files on 36 more accused priests.
Grant Gallicho     Nov.6, 2014

The Archdiocese of Chicago has released the files of thirty-six priests accused of sexual abuse over the past fifty years. In January, the archdiocese  released six thousand pages of documents related to another thirty accused clerics, as part of a settlement with plaintiffs who alleged abuse. None of the priests are currently in ministry, and fourteen are deceased. The archdiocese chose to release the new batch of files, which total about fifteen thousand pages, on its own. The files were published on the archdiocese's website Thursday morning, less than a week before Blase Cupich will be installed as the ninth archbishop of Chicago.


The archdiocese is "voluntarily" releasing these documents, according to a letter signed by auxiliary Bishop Francis Kane, which accompanied a memo sent to Catholic school administrators. This release, in combination with January's documents, "covers all the priests who have substantiated allegations of sexual misconduct with minors"--except for two "where ongoing processes do not permit release," Kane wrote.

Read more

The Chicago Archdiocese's files On Priest Sex Abuse Reveal Decades of Unchecked Crimes
Lauren Barbato      Nov.6, 2014

. . . .

These files are meant to show how the archdiocese - one of the largest in the United States - responded to these alleged crimes. None of the priest listed here are currently in church ministry. However, it's unclear how many of these priests were convicted and served time for their crimes. Data from the archdiocese report shows that there were "major exoduses of priests" whenever new allegations surfaced, possibly revealing that priests were quietly dismissed rather than brought to court.  

. . . .

Previously, the Chicago Archdiocese publicly released files on 30 priests accused of child sex abuse, bringing the total number of accused priests in the archdiocese to 66. However, that number is not necessarily complete: The archdiocese notes that former priest Daniel J. McCormack is not included in either batch of files, because his child sex abuse case is ongoing. McCormack was first arrested for sexually abusing young boys in 2006 - though the allegations date back to his time in the seminary in the early '90s - defrocked by the archdiocese in 2007. He was sentenced to five years in prison, and arrested again in 2014 after new sex abuse allegations surfaced.  

Read more

Files of 24 sexually abusive priests released
KARE TV       Nov.5, 2014

The files of 24 priests credibly accused of sexual abuse, some of whom worked in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, were released Wednesday.


At least six of the priests whose files were released also worked at one time in the Diocese of New Ulm.


Attorney Jeff Anderson, who represents a number of victims of clergy sex abuse, says the Diocese of New Ulm refuses to release their list and documents pertaining to clerics credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

Read more

Pope Francis to build showers for homeless in St. Peter's Square
Josephine McKenna       Nov.13, 2014

In his latest bid to ease the suffering of the poor - and upend the expectations of the papacy - Pope Francis plans to build showers for the homeless under the sweeping white colonnade of St. Peter's Square.


Three showers are to be built into refurbished public restrooms provided for Catholic pilgrims along the marble columns leading into the historic basilica, which was completed in 1626.


The Vatican's deputy spokesman, the Rev. Ciro Benedettini, said Thursday (Nov. 13) that the project was a joint initiative of the pope and Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, the papal almoner who distributes charity on the pope's behalf. Construction is due to begin next week (Nov. 17).

. . . .
But Catholic charity is unlikely to stop there. Next on Krajewski's list is haircuts. He said he has asked a local hairdressing school if students may be available to give haircuts to pilgrims without a home.  
Homeless men sleep outside of St. Peter's Square on Nov. 13, 2014

Read more

Signals on Ecology Encyclical; New Gathering on Marriage
Robert Mickens     Nov.5, 2014

Pope Francis recently gave two powerful talks that offered a foreshadowing of his upcoming encyclical on human ecology, which is slated for publication early next year. "We are more capable of destroying the earth than are the angels [in the Book of Revelation 7,3]," the pope said last Saturday. "And this is what we are doing... destroying Creation, destroying life, destroying values, destroying hope," he said at an outdoor Mass for All Saints Day, held at a cemetery in Rome's San Lorenzo quarter. He noted that Allied bombs had devastated sections of the neighborhood during World War II, but said that was "nothing" compared to what's happening today.


"Man makes himself master of everything, thinks he is God, thinks he is king. And the wars... the wars continue, not exactly for sowing seeds of life, but to destroy. It is an industry of destruction," the pope charged. He said the only way to rectify this was by following the way of the Beatitudes. "Only this path will save us from destruction, from destroying the earth [and] Creation, morals, history, the family, of everything," he warned.

. . . .

The upcoming encyclical on human ecology promises to be a deep reflection on the protection of all that God has created, from the inside of the womb to the surface of the moon.  

. . . . 

The Vatican has moved into high gear to bolster its opposition to same-sex unions. What other purpose could there be for a three-day meeting touted as an "interreligious colloquium on the complementarity of man and woman"? Especially when it includes representatives of faiths that have widely different views of marriage, particularly when it comes to the role and rights of the woman. The November 17 to 19 gathering in Rome will not only include Christians from various denominations, but also Muslims, Jews, Mormons, Hindus, Taoists, and people from several other faiths.


Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), is the driving force behind the event; his Vatican office is the main sponsor. Three different pontifical councils that deal with the issues concerning the family, ecumenism, and interfaith dialogue have also thrown their support behind the colloquium. According to the official website, it intends to be a "gathering of leaders and scholars from many religions across the globe, to examine and propose anew the beauty of the relationship between the man and the woman, in order to support and reinvigorate marriage and family life for the flourishing of human society."

Read more

In Audience with Evangelicals Francis says divisions disfigure the tunic of Christ
Iacopo Scaramuzzi      Nov.6, 2014

"The reality of our divisions disfigures the beauty of the seamless garment of Christ but never completely destroys the profound unity generated by the grace in all the baptized." Francis quoted the Second Vatican Council during this morning's audience with representatives of the World Evangelical Alliance. Meanwhile, Secretary General Geoff Tunnicliffe spoke of a "new stage" in relations between Evangelicals and Catholics.

The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) is made up of Pentecostals, Reformed Churches, Baptists and Protestants from 129 countries.

. . . .

"I am pleased to learn that, in different countries in the world, Catholics and Evangelicals have established relations of brotherhood and collaboration. Furthermore, the joint efforts of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity and the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance have opened new perspectives, clarifying misunderstandings, and showing ways to overcome prejudices. I hope that such consultations can ultimately inspire our common witness and our efforts as evangelizers:

  "If we really believe in the abundantly free working of the Holy Spirit, we can learn so much from one another! It is not just about being better informed about others, but rather about reaping what the Spirit has sown in them, which is also meant to be a gift for us.

Read more

As a judge, she was threatened by Argentina's dictatorship. The Pope helped her hide
Rome Reports      Nov.6, 2014

A former Argentinian judge and friend of Pope Francis, Alicia Oliveira, passed away on Wednesday November 5th in Buenos Aires. 

At the height of Argentina's dictatorship, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, helped her hide, after she was threatened by the government. She personally saw how the now Pope, helped others who were being persecuted. 
As a judge, she was threatened by Argentina's dictatorship. The Pope helped her hide...
As a judge, she was threatened by Argentina's dictatorship. The Pope helped her hide...


Pope Receives Leader of Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo
TelesurTV      Nov.6,2014

The founder of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, Estela de Carlotto held a private meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday. Carlotto called the Pope, "An example, a progressive man, a man of faith for the 21st century and of a church for the people."


Carlotto's group was founded in the midst of the Argentinian dictatorship with the objective of locating and returning all abducted and missing children who were kidnapped by the state to their legitimate families. The dictatorship stole the children of the disappeared and murdered and had them adopted by families sympathetic to the military.


Pope Francis and Estela Carlotto were joined by her grandson Ignacio Guido Montoya, who only recently discovered he's related to Carlotto, after undergoing a DNA test. His mother gave birth to him while in jail, she and his father both died in prison. The Pope also met with Carlotto's 3 children and many of her grandchildren.

Read more

Catholic, Muslim leaders urge dialogue, condemn violence, persecution
Cindy Wooden       Nov.14, 2014

Gathering at "a time of severe tension and conflict," particularly in the Middle East, 24 Catholic and Muslim leaders and scholars urged dialogue to promote greater respect and understanding and condemned all acts of violence committed in the name of religion.


The Catholic-Muslim Forum met at the Vatican Nov. 11-13 while newspapers continued to be filled with stories of Islamic State forces committing violence against Christians and other minorities in Iraq and Syria, and just days after violence erupted around the Jerusalem holy site known as Haram al-Sharif by Muslims and as Temple Mount by Jews.


The 12 Catholic and 12 Muslim participants in the forum "unanimously condemned acts of terrorism, oppression, violence against innocent persons, persecution, desecration of sacred places, and the destruction of cultural heritage," said a statement released at the end of the meeting.

. . . .

Pope Francis, who is to visit Turkey Nov. 28-30, met participants briefly Nov. 12 before his general audience. A Vatican statement said the pope encouraged them "to persevere on the path of Christian-Muslim dialogue, and was pleased to note their shared commitment to the selfless and disinterested service of society." 

Read more

Archbishop Gallagher: A priest and a diplomat
Vatican Radio       Nov.10, 2014

On Saturday Pope Francis appointed Liverpool native Archbishop Paul Gallagher to the post of Secretary for Relations with States, thus making him the first native English speaker to hold the position that is to all intents and purposes the Vatican's Foreign Minister.

. . . .

Traditionally the Secretaries for Relations with States are chosen from the Holy See's diplomatic corps, drawing from their experience as papal representatives to nations around the world. 


In this, Archbishop Gallagher is uniquely placed.  In a ministry that has spanned thirty years he has served in Nunciatures in Tanzania, Uruguay and the Philippines and as Nuncio to Burundi, Guatemala and most recently Australia.

. . . . 

Archbishop Gallagher has also served as an Observer at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, which Pope Francis is due to address next week.   Moreover he has Curia experience, having worked in its Second Section, from 1995 to 2000 at the same time as the present Secretary of State Card. Parolin. 

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U.S. Augustinian named bishop in Peru
CNS     Nov.3, 2014

Pope Francis named U.S. Augustinian Father Robert F. Prevost as bishop and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Chiclayo, Peru. Father Prevost is a native of Chicago who has been serving as director of formation at St. Augustine's Convent there since finishing a 12-year service as prior general of the Augustinians worldwide. 


The 59-year-old bishop-designate previously had several assignments in Peru. In 1985-86 he was chancellor of the Diocese of Chulucanas, but then returned to Chicago as vocations director and missions director. In 1988 he returned to Peru as director of the Augustinian seminary in Trujillo.  

. . . . 

After 10 years in Peru, he returned to Chicago where he was elected provincial superior in 1998. He was elected prior general of the order in 2001.
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Pope defrocks Argentine priest on sexual abuse charges
 Inés San Martín      Nov.6, 2014

An Argentinian diocese announced Wednesday that Pope Francis has defrocked a priest who was criminally convicted of sexually abusing five minors in the country from 2000 to 2005.


The step is seen as significant not only as a sign of the pontiff's overall resolve with regard to clerical abuse, but also because he's faced criticism in the past for his response to charges against clergy in his native country.


José Mercau, the now ex-priest who's serving a 14-year sentence on charges of abuse of minors, had been pastor of the St. John the Baptist Church in the San Isidro diocese on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. He also ran a home for destitute children.


Minors aged 11 to 14 went to the police in 2005 to denounce Mercau, after reporting him to a teacher.

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Pope sets up commission to deal with sex abuse appeals
Philip Pullella       Nov.11, 2014

Pope Francis has set up a new commission to handle appeals by priests who have been disciplined for sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican said on Tuesday.


A Vatican spokesman said the commission, a new part of the Vatican's doctrinal office, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, would be made up of seven bishops or cardinals and had been set up to deal with a backlog of appeals.

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Vatican to rein in sales of papal blessings, vendors cry foul
Philip Pullella       Nov.11, 2014

Rino Pensa has been making personalized papal blessings on parchments for 65 years, a mainstay of his small business creating intricately lettered scrolls marking milestones like baptisms and marriages.


The Vatican has decided that as of Jan. 1 his workshop and about 60 other producers and stores that have been in the papal blessing business for decades will no longer be allowed to make or sell them, a decision vendors say could cost up to 500 jobs.


The Vatican's office of papal charities, the Apostolic Almonry, sent a letter to calligraphers and stores in April reminding them of a 2010 decision that their concessions would end this year. The Vatican would resume making all parchments, as it did before the 1950s.

. . . .

While the Vatican capped the price outsiders could charge - 26 euros for plain models and 52 for elaborate ones - vendors were selling some for more than twice that.


"We have had a lot of problems with that," said Monsignor Diego Ravelli of the papal alms office, adding that the estimate of 500 jobs imperiled was "greatly exaggerated".


The Vatican gets three euros for each parchment made by outsiders. By excluding them, they will give more money to the needy. "It's not a souvenir. You are not paying for a blessing but contributing to the pope's charities," Ravelli said.


About 337,000 blessings were made in 2013, nearly two-thirds by the Vatican. In 2013, 1.25 million euros was disbursed, most to help needy Italians pay for rent or utilities.

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Fisher of Men - In Sydney, This Is The Day The George Has Made
Rocco Palmo       Nov.13, 2014

. . . .

In spectacular fashion, yesterday in Sydney saw the homecoming of the city's Ninth Archbishop. And given all the expectation that's surrounded Anthony Fisher for a decade, that the promise would pay off at the tender age of 54 only added to the palpable sense of history in St Mary's Cathedral, as a phalanx of Australia's leaders joined Fisher's parents and a teeming standing-room crowd to witness the beginning of a tenure that could extend to the year 2040. Indeed, that the cathedra of Oz's preeminent post is a replica of King Edward's Chair - the coronation seat of the British monarchs in Westminster Abbey - merely added to the perception of triumph.

. . . .

Despite a decade-long rise through the hierarchy as his predecessor's star protege, Fisher has conspicuously sought to distance himself from Cardinal George Pell over the rollout for his arrival, and the Vatican's new, all-powerful Finance Czar was just as strikingly absent from the event. Still, beyond the choice himself, the long arm of Francis was reinforced in the room by the front-and-center presence of Archbishop Paul Gallagher, the beloved British-born Nuncio now preparing to depart for Rome as the Pope's newly-chosen "foreign minister," again becoming the first native English-speaker ever to hold the critical post. 

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Opinion: Pope Francis's 'holy war' on capitalism and toxic inequality
Paul Farrell       Nov.14, 2014

It's been 1 year since pope took on the failings of our economic systems.


Big first-year anniversary for anticapitalist, anticonservative, socialist Pope Francis. Fortune magazine ranks him first among the "World's 50 Greatest Leaders." Tenure unlimited. Now he's in an ideological war with U.S. Senate Majority boss Mitch McConnell's Big Oil backed GOP as well as conservative ideologues. At war in America's unstable, endlessly fickle, myopic, rigged political arena.
. . . . 

Yes, Pope Francis is celebrating his one-year anniversary since laying down his anticapitalism manifesto for his army of 1.2 billion Catholics worldwide. He's also been removing conservative cardinals and bishops from leadership roles. He's hell-bent on changing the world fast. And his mandate is unwavering and unequivocal. He's drawing clear moral and political battle lines against repressive capitalism, excessive consumerism, rigid conservatism. Listen:

"Inequality is the root of social ills ... as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems." 


Yes, it sure sounds like a declaration of war: The anticapitalist Pope Francis versus America's self-destructive amoral capitalism. Bet on Mitch?

 . . . .
Pope's 10 commandments in war against Inequality and capitalism

So welcome to his first-anniversary celebration: Yes, it was just one year ago Pope Francis laid down his anticapitalism agenda as a battle plan for Catholics. One short year. Mitch McConnell probably hasn't even read it yet. Every American should. So here's an edited version of Francis's 10 economic commandments. They define the specific strategies guiding his economic war against inequality and capitalism.

. . . .

1. Solve economic inequality fast ... or capitalism dooms whole world

Pope: "Inequality is the root of social ills ... as long as the problems of the poor are not radically resolved by rejecting the absolute autonomy of markets and financial speculation and by attacking the structural causes of inequality, no solution will be found for the world's problems or, for that matter, to any problems."


2. Never trust the greedy Invisible Hand of free-market capitalists

Pope: "We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the 'invisible hand' of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth ... a better distribution of income ... The economy can no longer turn to remedies ... such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded."


3. Trickle-down economic ideology of the Super Rich is massive hoax

Pope: Some "continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. ... a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power ... the culture of prosperity deadens us."


4. New tyranny of capitalism gets rich stealing from the public

Pope: "While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation, and reject the right of states charged with vigilance for the common good. ... A new tyranny ... unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules."


5. The new Golden Calf Idolatry is capitalism's worship of money

Pope: "Money must serve, not rule ... The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! ... The worship of the ancient golden calf has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money ... lacking a truly human purpose."


6. Capitalism fuels excessive consumerism, undermining social morals

Pope: "Today's economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. ... Inequality eventually engenders a violence ... new and more serious conflicts. Some ... blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles ... more exasperating ... widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries ... businesses ... institutions."


7. Obsessive competition to amass personal wealth destroys democracy

Pope: "Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless ... masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape. ... Such an economy kills ... it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?"


8. Capitalists treats humans as leftovers in their throwaway world

Pope: "Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a 'throw away' culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. ... those excluded are no longer society's underside ... no longer even a part of it. ... but the outcast, the 'leftovers'."


9. Extreme conservative individualism is killing democracy worldwide

Pope: "In a culture where each person wants to be bearer of his or her own subjective truth, it becomes difficult for citizens to devise a common plan which transcends individual gain and personal ambitions. ... freed from those unworthy chains and to attain a way of living and thinking which is more humane, noble and fruitful, and which will bring dignity to their presence on this earth."


10. Capitalism rejects God, morality, ethics ... loves total anarchy of money

Pope: "Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. ... condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. ... ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. ... makes it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order."

. . . . 

Pass this on. Post the 10 new economic commandments on social media, tweet, retweet, let others know where you stand. The pope's 10 economic commandments can save the world, save capitalists, save conservatives, save democracy ... yes, hope does spring eternal. 

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Upcoming Events   

A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power 

sponsored by Harvard Divinity School 

Wednesday, November 19, 2014, 3:30 - 6:30pm

Memorial Church 


President Jimmy Carter will discuss his latest book, A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Violence, and Power which urges the end of discrimination and abuse against women, calling it the number one challenge in the world today. 


Admission is free. Tickets required. Limit of 2 per person. Tickets valid until 3:15 pm. Available by phone and Internet for a fee, in person at the Smith Center Box Office, by calling 617.496.2222, or reserve online hereFor all who are unable to attend, this event will be live streamed and able to be viewed through


The Feminist Liberation Theologians' Network meeting
Friday, November 21, 2014, 4-6 PM, 
San Diego, CA 
in conjunction with American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature 
Annual Meetings

The Network will discuss teaching that engages gender-based violence as feminist liberation theological praxis. Speakers include: Solveig Anna Boasdottir, Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Iceland; Marie M. Fortune, FaithTrust Institute; Elizabeth Siwo-Okundi, Boston University School of Theology; Traci West, Drew University Theological School. Discussion and strategizing will follow their short presentations. All are welcome. RSVP: Mary E. Hunt, Women's Alliance for Theology, Ethics and Ritual (WATER), 301 589-2509, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza, Harvard Divinity School, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



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