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ARCC News 18 December 2014

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A Genealogy of Jesus Christ:
Alternative to Matthew
 Ann Patrick Ware  SL
 

A genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of Miriam, 
the daughter of Anna:
Sarah was the mother of Isaac,
And Rebekah was the mother of Jacob,
Leah was the mother of Judah,
Tamar was the mother of Perez.
The names of the mothers of Hezron, Ram, Amminadab, Nahshon 
and Salmon have been lost.
Rahab was the mother of Boaz,
and Ruth was the mother of Obed.
Obed's wife, whose name is unknown, bore Jesse.
The wife of Jesse was the mother of David.
Bathsheba was the mother of Solomon,
Naamah, the Ammonite, was the mother of Rehoboam.
Maacah was the mother of Abijam and the grandmother of Asa.
Azubah was the mother of Jehoshaphat.
The name of Jehoram's mother is unknown.
Athaliah was the mother of Ahaziah,
Zibiah of Beersheba, the mother of Joash.
Jecoliah of Jerusalem bore Uzziah,
Jerusha bore Jotham; Ahaz's mother is unknown.
Abi was the mother of Hezekiah,
Hephzibah was the mother of Manasseh,
Meshullemeth was the mother of Amon,
Jedidah was the mother of Josiah.
Zebidah was the mother of Jehoiahim,
Nehushta was the mother of Jehiachinm
Hamutal was the mother of Zedekiaj.
Then the deportation to Babylon
the names of the mothers go unrecorded.
These are their sons:
Jechoniah, Shealtiel, Zerubbabel,
Abiud, Eliakim, Azor and Zadok,
Achim, Eliud, Eleazar,
Matthan, Jacob and Joseph, the husband of Miriam.
Of her was born Jesus who is called Christ.
The sum of generations is therefore:
fourteen from Sarah to David's mother;
fourteen from Bathsheba to the Babylonian deportation;
and fourteen from the Babylonian deportation 
to Miriam, the mother of Christ.

 
A Genealogy of Jesus Christ: Alternative to Matthew was compiled by Ann Patrick Ware SL of the Women's Liturgy Group of New York, who put this text in the public domain for all to use.
 
 
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Enya
O Come, O Come, Emmanuel - Enya    
Some things we have been reading  
Vatican report on U.S. nuns is conciliatory, stresses teachings
Philip Pullella      Dec,16, 2014
 

A keenly-awaited Vatican report prompted partly by concerns over a secular mentality among some Roman Catholic nuns in the United States praised them on Tuesday for their social and educational work but urged them to stick closely to Church teachings.


The report, largely conciliatory in tone, is the result of an investigation launched in 2008 after some Vatican officials and U.S. bishops voiced concerns over the nuns. One official suggested they had been infiltrated by "radical feminism".

 

The inquiry, begun during the papacy of former Pope Benedict, involved 341 religious orders and about 50,000 nuns.

 

Sister Sharon Holland, a leading U.S. nun, told a news conference presenting the 12-page report that it had "an encouraging and realistic tone".

Read more

Vatican Report on U.S. Nuns is Conciliatory, Stresses Teachings

Final Report on the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious in the United States of America

The ending should have been the beginning
Joan Chittister      Dec.17, 2014
 

I learned somewhere that "All spirit starts at the top." The attribution may be apocryphal, perhaps, but in this case true, nevertheless.

 

Tuesday, in fact, I saw the truth of that with my own eyes.

 

The plan, as then defined, simply mandated the invasion of American religious congregations to look into the quality of life being lived by American sisters. Launched without discussion or collaboration with the women religious involved, the plan took on the aura of a witch hunt and marked the entire process negatively.

 

The process alone alerted sisters to the lack of trust and respect for them, even as institutions let alone individuals. It also alerted the laity, thousands upon thousands of them, whose own spiritual lives had been nourished by the changes sisters had made in their work and lifestyles over the years. It was the laity who knew up close and in a special way the potential disaster that could come to the church itself from blocking those changes in the future.

. . . .

As a result, this final report becomes a standard for future dialogue, yes, but at the same time, its lack of transparency galls a bit. Here the visitation is explained as meant to convey the caring support of the church in respectful 'sister-sister-dialogue' - akin to Mary's visit to Elizabeth. The explanation by today's writers that the review came merely out of interest and support actually weakens the present document by denying women religious the apology they deserve.

 

In fact, Tuesday's report, with its recognition of the momentous effect of the American sisterhood on the development of the church in the United States, is precisely the document that should have opened the discussion rather than ended it.

 

Two issues remain in abeyance:

The first is the ongoing role of women in the church. If women religious are so respected by the church, it would seem that the church should be involving them in the decision-making that affects their lives.

 

The second is the very real possibility, if the press conference on the release of this final report is to be taken seriously, that this very model of Roman evaluation of particular congregations undertaken by the Congregation independently of the congregations involved, might easily become the norm.

Read more

Pope to theologians: Listen to ordinary faithful
Nicole Winfield      Dec.5, 2014
 

Pope Francis urged the Catholic Church's top theologians on Friday to listen to what ordinary Catholics have to say and pay attention to the "signs of the times," rather than just making pronouncements in an academic vacuum.

 

Francis, whose near-disdain for theologians is well-known, told the International Theological Commission that they must "humbly listen" to what God tells the church by understanding Scripture but also by taking into account how ordinary Catholics live out their faith.

 

"Together with all Christians, theologians must open their eyes and ears to the signs of the times," Francis said.

. . . .

The congregation is known for disciplining Catholic theologians whose writings or teachings stray from church doctrine. It has been criticized for issuing these notifications without consulting the academics or giving them a chance to defend their work.

. . . .

Francis has instead spoken frequently about what he calls "theology on its knees" - a more merciful type of theology that isn't focused so much on rules and regulations but meeting the faithful where they are to help them reach holiness.

Read more

Curia reform: Congregation for the Laity
Thomas Reese      Dec.4, 2014
 

The creation of a new Vatican Congregation for the Laity appears to be a likely first step in the reform of the Roman Curia. Many are welcoming this as a recognition that the laity have just as important a role in the church as bishops, clergy and religious, each of which has a congregation dedicated to their concerns.

. . . .

Currently, there is a Council for the Laity, but in the Vatican pecking order, councils are ranked below congregations. For example, a cardinal must head the nine Vatican congregations, but the 12 councils can make do with an archbishop. Not only would the laity council be upgraded, it would be merged into a larger entity that could take over the functions of the Council for the Family, the Council for Health Care Workers, and the Council for Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People.

 

Whether this new entity will be a congregation or a secretariat, like the new secretariat dealing with Vatican finances, remains to be seen. In any case, a cardinal will head it, and Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga's name has been floated. Laypeople could head offices within the congregation. 

Read more

Vatican asks for wide input on 2015 synod, not based on doctrine
Joshua J. McElwee      Dec.9, 2014

 

For the second time in two years, the Vatican has asked national bishops' conferences around the world to seek input from Catholics at "all levels" about how the church should respond to sometimes difficult questions of modern family life, such as divorce and remarriage.

 

Issuing a document in preparation for a second worldwide meeting of Catholic bishops on family life next year, the Vatican has also stressed the need for mercy in responding to such difficult situations -- even asking the bishops to avoid basing their pastoral care solely on current Catholic doctrine.

. . . .

Quoting the final document from the 2014 synod, it continues: "It is a matter of re-thinking 'with renewed freshness and enthusiasm, what revelation, transmitted in the Church's faith, tells us about the beauty, the role and the dignity of the family.' "

 

"For this purpose, the episcopal conferences are asked to choose a suitable manner of involving all components of the particular churches and academic institutions, organizations, lay movement and other ecclesial associations," the document states.

Later in the document, the instructions to the national bishops' conferences are made even more explicit when the Vatican's synod office tells them to involve "all levels" of the church in their analysis of the questions provided.

 

"It is important to be guided by the pastoral approach initiated at the Extraordinary Synod which is grounded in Vatican II and the Magisterium of Pope Francis," the document states later.

Read more
How the Pope Helped End the Cuba Embargo
 Adam Chandler       Dec.17, 2014
 

As more details emerge about the watershed normalizing of diplomatic relations  between the United States and Cuba, we're learning more about the instrumental role that Pope Francisplayed in helping to bring American and Cuban leaders together. 

On Wednesday, a senior Obama administration officials spoke of an "extraordinary letter" written by the pope to President Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro over the summer in which he urged the two men to mend the relationship between their countries.

 

As one official noted, the correspondence "gave us greater impetus and momentum for us to move forward."

 

In a press conference on Wednesday, which also happens to be the pope's 78th birthday, President Obama credited Francis for his influential "personal plea" and thanked him for his "moral example."

In particular, I want to thank his Holiness Pope Francis, whose moral example shows us the importance of pursuing the world as it should be, rather than simply settling for the world as it is.

According to officials, Pope Francis brought up Cuba several times during his meeting with the president in March and, given Francis' significance as the first pope from Latin America, it's fair to assume that his clout likely helped bring Castro to the table as well.

. . . .

On Wednesday, Cuban President Castro also thanked the pope in his address. "I want to thank the support of Pope Francis for the improvement of relations between Cuba and the U.S." 

Read more

Prosecutor freezes accounts of ex-Vatican bank heads
Philip Pullella       Dec.6, 2014
 

The Vatican's top prosecutor has frozen 16 million euros in bank accounts owned by two former Vatican bank managers and a lawyer as part of an investigation into the sale of Vatican-owned real estate in the 2000s, according to the freezing order and other legal documents.

 

Prosecutor Gian Piero Milano said he suspected the three men, former bank president Angelo Caloia, ex-director general Lelio Scaletti, and lawyer Gabriele Liuzzo, of embezzling money while managing the sale of 29 buildings sold by the Vatican bank to mainly Italian buyers between 2001 and 2008, according to a copy of the freezing order reviewed by Reuters.

 

The money in the three men's bank accounts "stems from embezzlement they were engaged in," Milano said in the October 27 sequester order.

 

Milano's investigation follows an audit of the Vatican bank by non-Vatican financial consultants commissioned last year by the bank's current management. The Vatican bank earlier this year also filed a legal complaint against the three men. The men have not been charged.

 

The Vatican spokesman on Saturday issued a statement confirming the freezing but gave no names, amounts or other details.

Read more

Communiqué of the Secretariat of State
From the Vatican, 17th December 2014
 

The Holy Father wishes to express his warm congratulations for the historic decision taken by the Governments of the United States of America and Cuba to establish diplomatic relations, with the aim of overcoming, in the interest of the citizens of both countries, the difficulties which have marked their recent history.

 

In recent months, Pope Francis wrote letters to the President of the Republic of Cuba, His Excellency Mr Raúl Castro, and the President of the United States, The Honorable Barack H. Obama, and invited them to resolve humanitarian questions of common interest, including the situation of certain prisoners, in order to initiate a new phase in relations between the two Parties.

 

The Holy See received Delegations of the two countries in the Vatican last October and provided its good offices to facilitate a constructive dialogue on delicate matters, resulting in solutions acceptable to both Parties.

 

The Holy See will continue to assure its support for initiatives which both nations will undertake to strengthen their bilateral relations and promote the wellbeing of their respective citizens.

URL

A victory for the Vatican's line of détente
John L. Allen Jr.       Dec.17, 2014
 

The normalization of relations between the United States and Cuba may be primarily a turning point for those two nations, but it also represents a victory for a Vatican policy of détente that reaches back at least to the papacy of John Paul II.

 

Cuba is a historically Catholic country, where 60 percent of the population is still estimated to be Catholic, and where the Church is also an important provider of social services and humanitarian relief.

 

Under the Fidel Castro regime, Catholicism suffered from various forms of persecution and harassment. In Castro's early years, he reportedly jailed, killed, or exiled 3,500 Catholic priests and nuns. In light of Pope Francis' nationality, it's worth noting that the first Cuban Cardinal, Manuel Arteaga y Betancourt, was forced to take refuge from Castro's forces in the Argentinian embassy in Havana from 1961 to 1962.

. . . .

Depending on where Cuba goes from here on religious freedom, time will tell whether the Vatican's determination to keep the conversation open comes to look like sage statecraft or appeasement.

 

For now, Francis can bask in Obama's tribute for moral leadership that encouraged officials on both sides to see "the world as it should be."

Read more

Vatican finds hundreds of millions of euros 'tucked away': cardinal
Philip Pullella      Dec.4, 2014
 

The Vatican's economy minister has said hundreds of millions of euros were found "tucked away" in accounts of various Holy See departments without having appeared in the city-state's balance sheets.

 

In an article for Britain's Catholic Herald Magazine to be published on Friday, Australian Cardinal George Pell wrote that the discovery meant overall Vatican finances were in better shape than previously believed.

. . . .

"It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke ... the Holy See is paying its way, while possessing substantial assets and investments," Pell said, according to an advance text made available on Thursday.

 

Pell did not suggest any wrongdoing but said Vatican departments had long had "an almost free hand" with their finances and followed "long-established patterns" in managing their affairs.

. . . .

Pell's office sent a letter last month about changes in economic ethics and accountability.

As of Jan. 1, each department will have to enact "sound and efficient financial management policies" and prepare financial information and reports that meet international accounting standards.

 

Each department's financial statements will be reviewed by a major international auditing firm, the letter said.

Read more

Pope Francis fires the chief of the Swiss Guard
Inés San Martín      Dec.4, 2014
 

The man characterized as a dictator by his employees has been removed as commander of the Swiss Guard, the small army that historically protects the pope, at the request of Pope Francis.

 

Colonel Daniel Rudolf Anrig, who served in the position for eight years, will leave his post Jan. 31.

 

French media reports attributed the decision to the commander's strictness, quoting one Swiss Guard as calling his removal "the end of a dictatorship."

 

The Vatican and the Guard have declined to provide any official explanation.

 

The move was first reported by the Vatican's official newspaper, Osservatore Romano.

"The Holy Father has ordered that Colonel Daniel Rudolf Anrig end his term on 31 January, at the conclusion of the extension granted after the end of his five-year mandate," the brief notice said.

Read more

German Bishops Will Revise Church's Labor Laws
Edward Pentin       Dec.15, 2014
 

Despite a postponed vote last month, a German prelate has said he is confident the country's bishops will change Church rules to allow employment of remarried divorcees and men and women living in same-sex relationships, despite growing opposition to the move.

 

Archbishop Stephan Burger of Freiburg im Breisgau said the German bishops' conference "will revise" the ecclesiastical labor laws (Kirchliches Arbeitsrecht), according to a Dec. 9 interview with the German news website Morgenweb. He said the changes will be made in the interests of maintaining the Church's "credibility" in the eyes of the general public.

 

According to Church sources in Germany who ask to remain anonymous, the bishops were to vote unanimously in favor of change on Nov. 24, but they decided to postpone the decision until April, after a federal court ruling supported the Church's current laws that forbid employing staff whose lifestyles run contrary to Church teaching.  

 

Until now, those seeking employment in the German Church - the second-largest employer in the country - are required to adhere to lifestyles consistent with Church teaching.

Read more
Catholic Church in Australia links celibacy to child abuse
Martin Parry        Dec,12, 2014
 

The Catholic Church in Australia on Friday said that obligatory celibacy may have contributed to priests abusing children, and recommended that clergy should be given "psychosexual" training.

 

In a landmark report, an Australian Catholic Church body dealing with the legacy of child sex abuse added that some church institutions and their leaders turned a blind eye to what was going on for years.

 

"Obligatory celibacy may also have contributed to abuse in some circumstances," the Truth, Justice and Healing Council said.

. . . .
Council chief executive Francis Sullivan said even the most sacred church traditions, including celibacy, must be up for discussion, although he was not recommending that the no-sex vow be changed.
 

"What our council's report says is that we recognise that celibacy can be a contributing factor," he told ABC radio.

 

"We do not know the extent of that, we do not know the degree to which it was a dominant factor but we are not putting our head in the sand and ignoring the issue."

He said the way priests were trained should be addressed.

Read more

Napa Institute gathers US church's well-heeled and high-ranking devout
Dan Morris-Young     Dec.15, 2014
 

The Napa Institute is a remarkable mix of religious retreat, networking opportunity, strategy session, wine-tasting vacation, immersion catechetics, pep rally and keyhole glimpse at the U.S. traditionalist Catholic superstructure.

 

Held at the elegant Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa in late July, it is a gathering of the well-heeled and the high-ranking of both church and economic achievement. It does not pretend to be "big tent" Catholicism, although its outlook is expansive.

 

Napa Institute participants -- officially 366 at this year's fourth annual July 24-27 -- are conservative, knees-on-stone-floor, pious Catholics. The people I met there -- and those I knew before attending -- are good people. Fun. Solid. Caring. Well-read and well-educated. Very serious about their Catholic faith. "Devout," to use the media's default word.

. . . .

The aim is a mobilization to better equip these Catholics for their role in "the next America," a phrase used by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput in a 2010 essay in the journal First Things. The essay inspired the formation of the Napa Institute.

"The next America" is broadly defined as a secular culture with little time for religious questions and even less interest in hearing what Catholic teaching might bring to bear in the public forum.

 

A central institute mantra is that attendees are being instructed and inspired, fine-tuned and focused to boldly defend Catholic principles in the civic arena. Marquee issues include defense of religious freedom, traditional marriage and the unborn.

. . . .

As institute co-founder and organizer Tim Busch told first-timers during an orientation session, "in-your-face Catholicism" would be the order of the day.

 

It was. But it was often Catholicism closely aligned to what many might associate with another era -- solemn liturgies, nuns in full habit, a muscular emphasis on confession, a hint of triumphalism in the air. Rosary, benediction, exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, eucharistic procession.

 

Deeply devotional and traditionalist Catholicism was the point. On each of the four main days of the conference (Thursday through Sunday) there were at least five Masses one could attend, with the opportunity on all but Sunday to celebrate the Eucharist in Latin -- in either the extraordinary (Tridentine) form or the novus ordo.

 

Space and time were reserved each day for persons to take part in the rite of reconciliation ("confession" in the program) and spiritual direction.

. . . . 

The Napa Institute's genesis seems largely rooted in Legatus, an organization of "top-tier" Catholic executives in which Busch is active.

 

Launched by Domino Pizza magnate Tom Monaghan in 1987, Legatus "offers a unique support network of like-minded Catholics who influence the world marketplace and have the ability to practice and infuse their faith in the daily lives and workplaces of their family, friends, colleagues and employees," explains its website.

 

Underline "like-minded" and "top-tier" and "ability to practice and infuse." Legatus does not recruit the manager of the local grocery store, but rather the grocery store chain's CEO or owner.

. . . . 

Legatus' more than 4,000 members in more than 80 chapters embrace a traditionalist orthodoxy. These financial leaders are very aware they have the resources to make flourish what they subsidize. No bones made about it.

 

Same in Napa. It was self-evident that sponsors and their many booths were there to be seen and heard and, with luck, find patrons. Every plenary session had a sponsor that was given a few minutes at the beginning to make a pitch. These appeals were universally informative and well-done.

. . . . 

During the 2014 conference, the economic justice track was particularly interesting in light of the average participant's prosperity, the four-star-plus setting and Francis' 2013 apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, which pulls no punches in its critique of unrestricted free-market economics and its exhortation for the people of God to seek lives of simplicity and service to the poor.

 

In private conversations and in open discussion during some breakout sessions, some participants pulled no punches about their displeasure with elements of Evangelii Gaudium, notably its unvarnished critique of any economic system that "tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits" and where "whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market."

Read more

Cardinal Timothy Dolan cuts ties with anti-abortion crusader Frank Pavone
David Gibson       Dec.15, 2014
 

In the latest clash between the Catholic hierarchy and one of the church's leading anti-abortion crusaders, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan accused the Rev. Frank Pavone of continuing to stonewall on financial reforms, and Dolan said he is cutting ties with his group, Priests for Life. 

 

In a Nov. 20 letter to other U.S. bishops, Dolan said he did not know if the Vatican would now step in to take action against the New York-based priest, who for years has angered various bishops by rejecting oversight of the organization by church authorities and for refusing to sort out his group's troubled finances.

 

"My requests of Father Pavone were clear and simple: one, that Priests for Life undergo a forensic audit; two, that a new, independent board be established to provide oversight and accountability," Dolan wrote in the letter, which was first reported by Catholic World News.

 

"Although Father Pavone initially assured me of his support, he did not cooperate. Frequent requests that he do so went unheeded. I finally asked him to comply by October 1st. He did not," Dolan wrote.

 

Dolan, who had been asked by the Vatican to help Pavone restructure Priests for Life, said in the letter that he has informed Rome that "I am unable to fulfill their mandate, and want nothing further to do with the organization."

Read more

Washington state economy 'built on fraud,' bishop says
Dan Morris-Young      Dec.12, 2014
 

"Much of the economic underpinnings for Washington state's economy is built on fraud" fostered "by the very structure of our immigration laws," said Bishop Joseph Tyson of Yakima, Wash., in a homily Thursday during a vigil Mass for the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

 

At Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish in the small town of Granger, Wash., Tyson told the congregation, which included many agricultural workers, "You have a nobility and a greatness that comes not from a passport, a visa, a green card, or an I-9 work permit, but from being created and fashioned from the very image and likeness of God.

 

"Certainly, I am keenly aware that you receive the very opposite message from various sectors of our North American society," Tyson continued. "This comes from the fact -- and I will not mince words -- that we have become a nation built on half-truths. We fail to tell truth that without  undocumented  immigrant labor we would have very little food on our nation's table. We fail to tell the truth about the human cost this takes on our nation's agricultural workers: the fear of deportation and the constant threat of family separation."

 

Tyson pointed out that "agriculture is the single largest sector" of Washington state's economy, "larger than our state's higher profile industries such as computer software, aircraft and designer coffees," an allusion to Microsoft, Boeing and Starbucks.

Read more

Editorial: The US government's use of torture is an indelible stain on the nation's conscience
 NCR Editorial Staff       Dec.12 2014
 

Since 2003, when news reports of torture at Abu Ghraib first appeared, we have known that the CIA was involved in systematic human rights violations and torture, in that instance, working with the U.S. military. Since then, more reports have surfaced, and the word "waterboarding" entered the national lexicon. The release last week of the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on torture demonstrated for all to see that the activities undertaken in our name, by our government, were even worse than we had previously thought.

 

The details of the torture the CIA committed are chilling and need not be repeated here. Equally chilling was the response to the report's release. All manner of justification for the use of torture was presented, insults were hurled at Sen. Dianne Feinstein for releasing the report, and dark threats were made about new terrorist attacks on account of the report's release. Former vice president Dick Cheney, arguably the most sinister public official since Richard Nixon, said, "The report's full of crap."

. . . .

As Christians, we have a special responsibility to combat torture. As Maryann Cusimano Love, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies, noted in 2009, "Being disciples of a tortured God means that we must never be torturers, but must see in the image of Christ our solidarity with the powerless and marginalized, the victims of torture. We must see the fundamental dignity of human life, the face of God, even in suspected enemies, and treat them accordingly."

 

The Senate report demonstrates that we did not, in fact, respect the fundamental dignity of those in our custody. Respect for human dignity is the indispensable cornerstone for any and all peace-building efforts in the Middle East and beyond. In fact, it is strange that those who defended the war in Iraq do not see how badly torture harms their own stated goals. The struggle against Islamist extremism is primarily to be won not on the battlefield, but in the hearts and minds of Muslim communities. Only when people in at-risk communities are convinced that the rule of law is preferable to the law of violence will that struggle be won. Both the war in Iraq and the systematic use of torture make a mockery of the rule of law and, just so, provide recruiting tools for terrorists.

. . . . 

The use of torture by U.S. government personnel is an indelible stain upon the nation's conscience. It will not wash off. The release of the report is a first step in truth-telling, but reconciliation requires more. It requires justice. None of us should be naïve about the threat terrorists pose. But all of us should have the moral intelligence to recognize that our strongest weapons in the fight against religious extremism and terrorist violence are our ideals.   

Read more

China rules: Why the pope ducked meeting with Dalai Lama
Jean-Louis Da La Vaissiere     Dec.13., 2014
 

Pope Francis may be known for championing dialogue, but faced with the certainty of riling China, analysts say, he ducked out of a meeting with the Dalai Lama.

Sensitivities over the fate of the Catholic minority in China were foremost on the pope's mind when he decided against greeting the Tibetan spiritual leader, according to observers.
. . . . 

China is home to several million Catholics and Protestants, whose freedom of religion is heavily curtailed.

 

The establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the Vatican would allow Catholicism in the world's most populous nation to flourish.

 

Since becoming pope, Francis has given new impetus to the quiet discussions that have been ongoing between Rome and Beijing since the 1980s.

 

A meeting with the Dalai Lama could jeopardise that, given Beijing's known abhorrence of any gesture of solidarity towards Tibet by other powers.

. . . .

China has around 12 million Catholics, half of whomare members of the state-controlled Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association.

 

The remainder belong to underground churches that are loyal to the Vatican, although there is some overlap.

 

The chief bone of contention between Rome and Beijing is China's policy of consecrating of bishops without the pope's approval. In the rest of the world, bishops are named by the pontiff.

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Dissident IRA supporter picked as St. Patrick's Day aide to Grand Marshal Cardinal Dolan
James O'Shea       Dec.11, 2014
 

Martin Galvin, 64, the former head of the Irish Northern Aid (NORAID) group often accused of funding the IRA and now a hardline opponent of the peace process, has been named an aide to Grand Marshal Cardinal Timothy Dolan for the New York St. Patrick's Day Parade in 2015.

 

His appointment as one of several aides to the Grand Marshal is bound to stir controversy because of his aggressive anti-peace process stance. He has denounced the Sinn Fein leadership as traitors for taking part in it.

Read more

New Ways Ministry Builds Bridges with Archbishop Cordileone
Francis DeBernardo       Dec.17, 2014
 

Fulfilling a promise he made last summer, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco met with New Ways Ministry's Francis DeBernardo and Sister Jeannine Gramick on Monday, December 15, 2014, to help enrich understanding of each other's approaches to marriage equality and LGBT issues.

. . . .

Two groups took Cordileone up on his offer for a personal meeting: New Ways Ministry and DignityUSA. Earlier this autumn, Cordileone met in San Francisco with representatives from Dignity. New Ways Ministry's meeting occurred on December 15th at our offices in Mount Rainier, Maryland, while the Archbishop was in the Washington, DC area on other church business.

. . . .

New Ways Ministry asked for advice on how LGBT Catholics and their families can initiate dialogues with their local bishops.  He noted that bishops often have many demands on their time and many requests for appointments.  A more practical route may be for people to request meetings with directors of diocesan ministries, such as family life, or with other chancery officials.

. . . .

Cordileone expressed genuine concern for how to speak about lesbian and gay people in ways that would not compromise his concern for church teaching or would harm lesbian and gay people. New Ways Ministry suggested that he elaborate more on church teaching concerning the human dignity of LGBT people and to show interest in their lives beyond the question of sexual ethics.  DeBernardo and Gramick shared a list of suggestions that were published on Bondings 2.0 in the summer of 2012. 

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Francis, the comic strip
Pat Marrin     Dec. 9, 2014
Francis cartoon
Pope Francis and the Catholic Crisis       
Charles J. Reid, Jr.         Dec.15, 2014
 

There is a growing crisis haunting the Catholic Church. And it is a crisis larger than the events that have so greatly afflicted the American Catholic Church. The pedophilia scandals are a horrifying element of this crisis. So, too, are the bishops who covered up and excused these outrages. And so, also, the more general loss of confidence Catholics have in a hierarchy that seems oddly concerned with rank and privilege and with fighting yesterday's culture wars. Yes, these are all elements of the crisis, but the crisis is larger than this.

 

And that something larger is both sad and profound: a loss of faith in the institutions of the Church. Pope Francis, in his remarkable interview with La nacion, published the weekend of December 6 and 7, made it clear that he recognized the gravity of the moment. He was asked why so many people were leaving the Church. As posed, the question addressed Latin America. By implication, it looked to the world.

 

Pope Francis could have directed his answer at factors external to the Church. Indeed, one can imagine his predecessors alternatively blaming culture, or relativism, or the forces of secularism. Pope Francis, however, is different. His was a more introspective answer. We must look within, he advised, to what Catholics are themselves doing wrong.

 

At the root of the crisis, he proposed, was the problem of clericalism. Clericalism is strangling true Christianity. Pope Francis has spoken often about clericalism during his brief pontificate.

 

The clergy must come to terms with this dimension of the lay vocation and be supportive of it. "The priest's suggestion is immediately to clericalize," the Pope warns. This temptation must be resisted. The priest has a spiritual role, a pastoral role, and a sacramental role, but the priest must not subsume the role of the laity. Harmony between the two orders is what Catholics should strive for. It should never become a situation in which "the big fish swallows the little one."

 

Pope Francis, in other words, expects an active and engaged laity, a laity that can think for itself, and is not fearful of its own independence. But how shall this Church, of harmonious yet different orders, address the Catholic crisis?

 

It must not preach. It must not proselytize. It must not condemn, or throw tantrums, or engage in theatrics. Rather, the Church -- the People of God, lay and clergy alike -- must set a good example. They must know that the world is filled with human suffering and that they are called to go about relieving in some small quantum this great misery in ways adapted to need and circumstance.

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Pope names second abuse survivor, global experts to protection panel
Carol Glatz      Dec.17, 2014
 

Pope Francis expanded his papal commission on child protection to include a second survivor of abuse and more experts from around the world.

 

The Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Pope Francis established one year ago, adds four more women and four men from five continents to the now-17-member body.

 

The Vatican announced the new members Dec. 17.

 

One of the new members is Peter Saunders, the chief executive officer of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (NAPAC), which he founded nearly two decades ago in the United Kingdom to help other survivors find support. He was one of six abuse survivors who spoke with Pope Francis in a private meeting at the Vatican July 7.
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Marginalised Catholics 'very hopeful' about papacy of Francis
Fr Tony Flannery       Dec.9, 2014
 

I have recently returned from an 18-city speaking tour in the US, organised by the network of Church Reform movements. They impressed me. Their commitment to the faith is strong, but they believe that the church as institution is not working, and that it needs urgent reform.

 

They display great energy and enthusiasm, and in my experience they are warm, loving people looking for a deeper spirituality and sense of community in their church. Their knowledge of theology is impressive.

 

More than half the people attending one gathering at a Call to Action conference in Memphis last month had masters degrees in theology. They are not the people who have left the church, but they are on the fringes. It was sad to see such an enormous resource being left unused by the church authorities.

 

The bishops in the US are much more vocal than our bishops who, with one or two exceptions, are quiet men who mostly avoid the public glare. The US "culture warrior" bishops take a strong public stance on some moral issues, mainly contraception, abortion and same-sex marriage.

 

Their doctrinaire statements, often followed by the sacking or excommunication of people who, according to them, violate the rules, drive many away from the churches.

. . . .

The Pope Francis effect is significant among them. They are very hopeful as they see him returning to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council. They follow church affairs closely and showed significant interest in the Extraordinary Synod of Bishops in Rome. 

. . . .

Many people I spoke to believe the church as institution is in the process of collapse, and is beyond recovery. That may be true. All institutions are under pressure today, and it is impossible to know what shape things will take. But fragmentation is a danger in the US church. 

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Lost in translation? 7 reasons some women wince when Pope Francis starts talking
David Gibson      Dec.10, 2014

. . . .

Indeed, Francis has spoken repeatedly of the "feminine genius" and the need for a church to develop "a deeper theology of women," and of his determination to promote women to senior positions in Rome. He also points out that some of his remarks are meant as jokes, the fruit of a sense of humor that is part of his appeal.

 

Still, not everyone is amused.

. . . .

For all his positive comments and reforms, they said, the pope "reveals a highly patriarchal view" of the value and traditional role of women.

 

Here are seven examples of what these critics are talking about:

 

1. "Be a mother and not an old maid!"

"Please, let it be a fruitful chastity, a chastity that generates sons and daughters in the church. The consecrated woman is a mother, must be a mother and not an old maid (or "spinster"). ... Forgive me for speaking this way, but the motherhood of consecrated life, its fertility, is important."

- Address to nuns from around the world, May 8, 2013 

 

2. "I am wary of 'masculinity in a skirt.'"

"It is necessary to broaden the opportunities for a stronger presence of women in the church. I am wary of a solution that can be reduced to a kind of 'female machismo' ("machismo in gonnella," he said in Italian, or "masculinity in a skirt") because a woman has a different make-up than a man. But what I hear about the role of women is often inspired by an ideology of machismo."

- Interview with Jesuit publications, September 2013

 

3. "The fact is, woman was taken from a rib."

Q: Do you see a bit of misogyny in the background (of your references to women mainly as mothers and wives rather than leaders)?

A: "The fact is, woman was taken from a rib." (The pope gives a hearty laugh.) "I am kidding, that was a joke ... "

- Interview with the Italian daily Il Messaggero, June 29, 2014

 

4. "Pastors often wind up under the authority of their housekeeper!"

Q: Can we expect some historic decisions from you, such as making a woman the head of a Vatican department ... ?"

A: (He laughs again) "Well, pastors often wind up under the authority of their housekeeper!"

- Interview with the Italian daily Il Messaggero, June 29, 2014

 

5. "Europe is now a 'grandmother,' no longer fertile and vibrant."

"In many quarters we encounter a general impression of weariness and aging, of a Europe which is now a 'grandmother,' no longer fertile and vibrant. As a result, the great ideas which once inspired Europe seem to have lost their attraction ... "

- Address to the European Parliament, Nov. 25, 2014

 

6. Woman theologians "are the strawberries on the cake!"

"I would like to note, in the context of the increasingly diverse composition of the Commission, the greater presence of women - still not enough. ... They are the strawberries on the cake, but we want more!"

- Address to the International Theological Commission, Dec. 5, 2014 

 

7. "A church that seems more like a spinster than a mother"

"When the church does not (evangelize), then the church stops herself, is closed in on herself, even if she is well-organized, has a perfect organizational chart, everything's fine, everything's tidy - but she lacks joy, she lacks peace, and so she becomes a disheartened church, anxious, sad, a church that seems more like a spinster than a mother, and this church doesn't work, it is a church in a museum. The joy of the Church is to give birth ... "

- Homily at morning Mass, Dec. 9, 2014

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Court hears arguments in Little Sisters of the Poor's HHS appeal
CNS       Dec.9, 2014
 

The Little Sisters of the Poor aren't seeking special privileges - they just want the same exemption from the federal contraceptive mandate offered to others, the order's mother provincial said Dec. 8.

 

Sister Loraine Marie Maguire spoke publicly for the first time after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver heard oral arguments in an appeal filed by the Little Sisters and in two related cases, Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, Oklahoma, and Reaching Souls International, an Oklahoma nonprofit.

. . . . 

The Little Sisters of the Poor, a Denver-based religious order that cares for the elderly poor in several facilities around the U.S., has been steadfast in its refusal to provide contraceptive coverage to its employees as required by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services under the Affordable Care Act.

. . . .

The order appealed to the 10th Circuit. Last December, the U.S. Supreme Court granted the Little Sisters a temporary injunction on enforcement of the mandate and now the order seeks to make that protection permanent.

 

Refusal to comply with the mandate may force the Little Sisters to pay millions of dollars in fines to the federal government. The fine is set at $1,000 a day per enrollee in an employer's health plan.

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The Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell Press Conference
The Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell Press Conference

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Church of England Names Libby Lane as First Female Bishop
Allen Cowell      Dec.17, 2014
 

The Church of England on Wednesday named the Rev. Libby Lane, a parish priest for 20 years in the north of England, as its first female bishop, just weeks after the church authorities took the final step to reverse centuries of canon law to begin what the archbishop of Canterbury called "a completely new phase of our existence."

. . . .

The halting process toward her consecration reflected deep divisions between liberals and conservatives that are likely to be cemented rather than resolved by the move.

"Without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures," the Most Rev. Justin Welby,the archbishop of Canterbury, who backed the push for female bishops, said after a final vote on the matter last month.

. . . . 

The Church of England first agreed to the appointment of women as bishops in July, and it took the final step with a show of hands at its General Synod on Nov. 17. The appointment of Ms. Lane comes almost four decades after the Church of England first considered the ordination of women, in 1975. 

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Diocese releases 'credibly accused clergy' list
 Russell Contreras      Dec.16, 2014
 

The Diocese of Gallup has released a list of "credibly accused clergy" linked to decades-old sex abuse cases in New Mexico and Arizona.  The list released Monday includes 30 priests and one lay teacher assigned to parishes from the 1950s to last year.

 

Gallup Diocese Bishop James Wall says he was making the new list public to protect children and in the spirit of transparency. In a statement, Wall apologized for the actions of those who committed "these terrible acts."  Wall says that if victims recognize the names of the priests on the diocese's website they should contact law enforcement.

 

Previously, the diocese released the name of 11 priests linked to such cases. The new list adds 20 new names.

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Diocese of Helena files reorganization plan
Alexander Deedy       Dec.15, 2014
 

The Diocese of Helena filed information on Friday detailing its financial situation and a reorganization plan to resolve its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

 

The diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Jan. 31, 2014 as part of a $15 million settlement to victims who said some diocese clergy had sexually abused them decades ago.

 

The plan was submitted in collaboration with the Unsecured Creditors Committee, which represents the hundreds of people who have filed those claims of abuse.

. . . .

The United States Bankruptcy Court is scheduled to take action on the disclosure statement on Jan. 14, 2015, in the Federal Courthouse in Missoula, according to a press release from the diocese.

New York Archdiocese Appears Likely to Shutter More Churches
Sharon Otterman      Dec.14, 2014

 

The sweeping reorganization of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, set to take effect next year, is likely to involve the merger or the closing of significantly more parishes than was originally announced last month, archdiocese documents show.

 

Church officials said in November that 112 of the archdiocese's 368 parishes would be consolidated to create 55 new parishes, the largest realignment of the parish structure in the history of the archdiocese, which stretches from Staten Island to the Catskills. In 31 of those new parishes, one or more of the original churches would no longer be used for regular services, effectively shuttering those churches by August.

 

But the documents show that Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan has now proposed that an additional 38 parishes merge, to create 16 new ones. Among the affected churches, 11 would effectively close, with no regular Masses to be celebrated there. The remaining 27 church buildings would remain open for the celebration of the sacraments after the parishes merge. 

. . . .

The parish reorganization is being driven by a shortage of priests, financial troubles and declining weekly church attendance, which hovers at less than 15 percent of the archdiocese's Catholics on an average Sunday, according to the archdiocese. But church officials have been reluctant to comment on the reasoning behind specific mergers, which can be especially frustrating to parishes that appear to be flourishing. 

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RI court hears $60M dispute with Catholic order

 

The niece of a woman who gave more than $60 million to a now-disgraced Catholic order is asking the Rhode Island Supreme Court to let her sue so the money can go somewhere more deserving.

 

The court is due to hear arguments Tuesday over lawsuits brought by Mary Lou Dauray against the Legion of Christ, whose founder secretly molested seminarians and fathered three children. Dauray's aunt, Gabrielle Mee, died in 2008 and left everything she owned to the Legion.

 

A Superior Court judge ruled in 2012 that Douray did not have standing to sue and threw out her lawsuits against the Legion of Christ and Bank of America, which Douray claimed breached its fiduciary duty as the trustee of Mee's estate.

 

When Judge Michael Silverstein issued that decision, however, he wrote there was evidence that the Legion had exerted undue influence on the widow.


Dauray has said she believes her aunt, a devout Catholic who did not have children, would not have wanted the money to go to the Legion given its history. She said she does not want the money for herself and would give anything she receives to charity.

"She's not in this for personal gain," Dauray's lawyer, Bernard Jackvony, said.

The Legion and the bank argue that Dauray is not a legal beneficiary, and even if she were, Mee wanted her assets to go to charity and not to her estate or heirs.

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Pope gets cake, tango and chicken for birthday
Daniela Petroff       Dec.17, 2014
 

Pope Francis got a cake, cards and a tango demonstration for his 78th birthday Wednesday - and 800 kilograms (1,760 pounds) of chicken meat for the poor.

The Vatican said Wednesday the meat, provided by a Spanish producer, would be distributed to soup kitchens.

 

Francis also greeted eight homeless people bearing sunflowers during his Wednesday general audience, held under bright sunny skies in St. Peter's Square.

 

As he drove around in the open-air car to greet the crowds, children handed up birthday cards they had made for him. Francis asked one: "Did you make this? It's good!"

Others held up signs saying "Feliz Cumpleanos" ("Happy Birthday" in Spanish) and sang to him.

 

Outside the square, dozens of couples danced the tango, the Argentine pope's favorite. The pope quipped: "It looks like a two-by-four!" - a reference to tango.

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A Town, if Not a Painting, Is Restored
Doreen Cavajal      Dec.14, 2014
 

After an 83-year-old widow and amateur painter tried her hand at restoring a nearly century-old fresco of Jesus crowned with thorns in her local church here, she faced nothing but scorn and ridicule.

 

News of the earnest, if utterly failed, restoration in 2012 rocketed around the globe on Twitter and Facebook - the image likened variously to a monkey or hedgehog, and superimposed in memes and parodies on the "Mona Lisa"and a Campbell's soup can.

 

But these days, people in this village of medieval palaces and winding lanes in northeast Spain are giving the artist, Cecilia Giménez, and her work a miraculous reassessment.

. . . .

Since the makeover, the image has attracted more than 150,000 tourists from around the world - Japan, Brazil, the United States - to the gothic 16th century Sanctuary of Our Lady of Mercy on a mountain overlooking Borja.

Visitors pay one euro, or about $1.25, to study the fresco, encased on a flaking wall behind a clear, bolted cover worthy of the Louvre's Mona Lisa.

. . . . 

This Christmas, the image of her "Ecce Homo" is stamped on the town's lottery tickets. The portrait also plays a bit part in a popular Spanish movie, with a couple of thieves trying to steal it.

 

"I can't explain the reaction. I went to see 'Ecce Homo' myself, and still I don't understand it," said Borja's mayor, Miguel Arilla, from his art-filled office.

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