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O come, O come, Emmanuel!
Come, the hope of the nations!


The Grace of Everyday Saints: How a Band of Believers Lost Their Church and Found Their Faith

by Julian Guthrie, New York, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011
Review by 
Patrick B. Edgar, DPA , 
President ARCC

St. Anselm of Canterbury wrote that theology was "faith seeking understanding."  In the 21st Century, we find ourselves engaged in such theology on many fronts.  Some seek this understanding in a scholarly pursuit.  Others seek the divine through spiritual exercises.  For most, theology has been intertwined with their faith tradition, regardless of religion or denomination.  

Those of us who were raised in the Roman Catholic Church have sought it in the sacraments and especially in our traditions.  These traditions have been tightly bound with our relationship with the institution, usually through our parish.  

Julian Guthrie tells the story of one such parish in San Francisco - St. Brigid's.  In 1994, their Archdiocese of San Francisco announced that this parish was to be closed.  The reasons given for this closure were the need to streamline the Archdiocese and to save the cost of retrofitting the structure after the 1989 earthquake.  The story that follows is one of courage, frustration, and, most of all, faith.  

The people of St. Brigid held on to the faith that their church could be reopened.  What they encounter is a hierarchy that uses subterfuge and obstruction to resist their pleas to keep their church.  Nevertheless, the various participants in the Committee to Save St. Brigid, develop a deep faith that they never expected.  They learned the true meaning of being followers of Christ.  

Every Catholic, every person of faith for that matter, will benefit from reading this book.  On the darker side, the reader learns of an institution bound in practices that were the trappings of the Medieval age.  The primary tool of power is silence.  If the hierarchy does not like what the people ask of it, it simply does not respond.  If that does not succeed, it turns to deflection and archaic pre-bureaucratic rules.  By "pre-bureaucratic" I mean that it only applies the rules that it chooses for its own benefit.  In an actual bureaucracy, the rules take precedence, not the rulers.  If all else fails, the hierarchy turns to disinformation, what anyone else would call lies.  

On the brighter side, the reader learns of what it means to be a true faith community.  The main figures become stronger in their faith despite the hierarchy not because of it.  This community is an incredible mixture of faithful Catholics.  There are those who cling to the sacramentals of the rosary and icons.  There are also those who are dedicated to prayer and still others who rely on the liturgical process.  They are conservative in their faith alongside of the more progressive.  They learn not to label one another and to recognize the dignity of the other.  These "everyday saints" give us a clear example of what it means to be a Catholic Christian.  

 Julian Guthrie captures the nature of being an authentic Christian in relaying this story of tragedy and triumph.  One cannot help but love the people of St. Brigid.  For those of us dedicated to a Roman Catholic Church that lives up to its values, it should be inspiring as well as challenging.  This is not a story that pits liberal against conservative.  It is one that declares the common human experience of faith seeking understanding. 


New Translation of the Roman Missal  

 We  recommend that you watch these sites during the transition to the new translation:

1.  Misguided Missal 

2.  U.S. Catholic; Special Section on the New Liturgy 

3.  PrayTell blog
(http://www.praytellblog.com )


Some things we have been reading 

Belgian Catholics issue reform manifesto

John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D, Vice President ARCC       Dec.2, 2011 

BRUSSELS, BELGIUM -- The week before the start of Advent, four Flemish priests issued a church reform manifesto that called for allowing the appointment of laypeople as parish pastors, liturgical leaders and preachers, and for the ordination of married men and women as priests.
By the week's end more than 4,000 of publicly active Catholics had signed on to the "Believers Speak Out" manifesto. By Dec. 1, the number of signers had reached 6,000.

Among the supporters are hundreds of priests, educators, academics and professional Catholics. Two prominent supporters are former rectors of the Catholic University of Leuven, Roger Dillemans and Marc Vervenne.

"These are not 'protest people.' They are people of faith. They are raising their voices. They hope their bishops are listening," said Fr. John Dekimpe, one of four priests who launched the manifesto.
Read the full text of the manifesto 


UK Catholic bishop endorses gay civil unions 

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman     Dec.2, 2011 

THE Archbishop of Westminster, England, has publicly endorsed homosexual civil unions, a move that puts him at odds with a clear Vatican decree against supporting such unions confirmed by Pope John Paul II and then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) in 2003.

While acknowledging that marriage and civil partnerships are not equal, Archbishop Vincent Nichols stated in a press conference last week: "We would want to emphasize that civil partnerships actually provide a structure in which people of the same sex who want a lifelong relationship [and] a lifelong partnership can find their place and protection and legal provision."
Read more


Diocese gets blessing from Vatican to buy Crystal Cathedral

Deepa Bharath      Nov. 30, 2011

GARDEN GROVE - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange received the necessary approval this week from the Vatican to proceed with its purchase of the Crystal Cathedral at $57.5 million, officials said Wednesday.

The Pope's approval, which came on Monday, is the last hurdle the diocese had to clear before sealing the deal, said Monsignor Douglas Cook, the diocese's Canon Law expert and rector of Holy Family Cathedral in Orange.
Read more 


What writers can learn from the new translation of the Catholic Mass

Roy Peter Clark         Dec. 1, 2011

If you have ever tried to translate a passage from one language into another, you know how challenging the task can be. A word in Italian or Danish, for example, may look very much like an English cognate, but mean something quite different in a new cultural context.
So I begin with sympathy for those experts within the Catholic Church who have worked very hard to produce a new translation of the Mass, introduced around the world last Sunday, the first day of the new liturgical year.
All writers can learn something important from such a project, the most ambitious since the traditional Latin Mass was replaced by vernacular versions around the world in 1962, my first year in Catholic high school.
Read more 


Erasure of Vatican II extends to new Missal affecting 400 Million!

William Slavick       Nov.28, 2011

The three foremost developments in the Roman Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council committed it to engage the modern world are the largest exodus in 2000 years for lack of such engagement, the sex abuse scandal's betrayal of children, and the relentless Vatican campaign to erase the Council. By 1997 this infidelity to Vatican II had led dozens of European theologians to judge the Vatican in schism in its rejection of collegiality: the Holy Spirit speaks to only one person.

Emblematic of this rejection of the highest Church authority was the Congregation of Divine Worship's presumption to delay approval of the English-speaking Bishops' Conferences' (ICEL's) excellent new Missal translation, 15 years in the making (available at misguidedmissal.com ), to replace the hurried 1973 post-Council translations, and then, in 2001, to reject it. These translations had been approved in 1998 by all eleven English-speaking conferences, exercising authority the Council granted solely to the bishops' conferences, by a 99.9 per cent Council vote. The CDW's role was to check adherence to procedures.
Read more


Rome is burning, new texts are fiddling

Eugene Cullen Kennedy       Dec. 01, 2011

I must credit my wife for the best observation I heard as we drifted out of Mass among other grumbling survivors of the wreckage of the most over-ballyhooed maiden voyage since that of the Titanic a century ago. Rome, as she observed, is indeed burning, and the pope, surely winking like a German paterfamilias aware that he isn't fooling anybody in his Santa Claus suit, boasts that the Catholic church is leading the way in the war against sex abuse.

One regretfully concludes of the introduction of the new liturgical texts that we must look beneath the surface of this much ado about nothing episode for the real reasons for all the time and treasure Rome invested in imposing it on its bishops, priests and people.

Perhaps this is best understood as another element in the so-called reform of the reform, the main thrust of which is to restore the mixed blessings at best of a revived clericalism that raises the priesthood like a gilded monstrance above the heads of, and surely out of the reach of, laypeople. This return to hollow and brittle wordings that supposedly echo the pre-Vatican II Latin texts is another clumsy effort to repeal the rich theological documents of that epochal council and to recreate the lost and gone world of Vatican I.
Read more


Kneel, stand, hold hands? Bishop aims to end Mass confusion

Dylan Parry      Dec.2, 2011

After the new Mass was celebrated in the US for the first time last Sunday, a bishop has issued a set of edicts on when and when not to perform actions like kneeling, standing and holding hands.

Catholic Bishop Roger J Foys of Covington, Kentucky, issued a Decree on November 27 which directed his priests and people on how to best celebrate the Ordinary Form of the Mass according to the real wishes of the Second Vatican Council.

In an accompanying pastoral letter, Bishop Foys asked his flock to take to "heart the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, in the decree Sacrosanctum Concilium (The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy), that no one on their own authority, for any reason, may add to, remove or change anything in the Sacred Liturgy."
Read more


Mystery Worshipper

Since ancient times (ok, 1998), Ship of Fools has been sending Mystery Worshippers to churches worldwide. Travelling incognito, they ask those questions which go to the heart of church life: How long was the sermon? How hard the pew? How cold was the coffee? How warm the welcome?

The First Sunday of Advent saw the introduction of the new English translation of the Roman Missal in Roman Catholic churches. Our Mystery Worshippers fanned out to all corners of the United States (well, to New York, Michigan and Arizona, anyway) to report on how the faithful took to this change. Read what they had to say from their vantage point in the back pews.

Grappling with the unfamiliar at Epiphany, NYC
Not a singing congregation: St Robert's, Ada, USA
How long to undress a baby? St Andrew, Grand Rapids, USA
Heavenly silence at St Charles Borromeo, Peoria, USA
Applause but no missals: St Francis Xavier, NYC


Archdiocese to group parishes in large clusters

Mark Arsenault         Dec.01, 2011

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston is proposing to reorganize the management of its 290 parishes by creating teams to oversee multiple parishes under a single pastor, in a search for efficiencies that would save money and allow staff to concentrate on the growth of the church.

The plan, to be unveiled Monday at a priest-only meeting with Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, does not call for the closing of more churches. The archdiocese proposes to create about 125 pastoral service teams that, once created, would be free to merge programs among churches and make recommendations to the cardinal about closing and selling churches, rectories, or other buildings.
Read more


Franciscan ready to accept consequences for joining woman-led liturgy

Brian Roewe       Nov.30, 2011

Despite rumors that Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada would be excommunicated and expelled from his order for his participation in a liturgy led by a female priest, Zawada and the leadership of his order say that has yet to be discussed.

Zawada participated in the Nov. 19 liturgy while attending the School of Americas Watch in Fort Benning, Ga.
Read more

Is Ireland just the first Vatican embassy to go?

John L Allen Jr.        Nov.30, 2011

Last year, veteran Italian journalist Massimo Franco published a book about what he sees as the Vatican's declining international relevance. Its opening chapter was titled "The Last Ambassador," and featured a diplomat from a major Western nation who compared his situation, representing his government to the Vatican today, to that of the final ambassadors to the soon-to-disappear Republic of Venice in 1797.

Franco quoted another diplomat at a Vatican reception looking around at his colleagues and openly wondering, "How many of us will still be here in 10 years?"
 Read more


Fellay: "We cannot accept the Preamble as it is" 

Andrea Tornielli     Nov.29, 2011

"It is true that this Doctrinal Preamble cannot receive our endorsement, although leeway has been allowed for a "legitimate discussion" about certain points of the Council.  What is the extent of this leeway?  The proposal that I will make in the next few days to the Roman authorities and their response in turn will enable us to evaluate our remaining options.  And whatever the result of these talks may be, the final document that will have been accepted or rejected will be made public." 

This was the much awaited reply given by Bishop Bernard Fellay of the Society of Saint Pius X, to Vatican authorities. Last September, following a series of doctrinal talks between Lefebvrians and the Holy See, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith delivered the doctrinal preamble text to the Lefebvrians. The Vatican made it clear that it considered their agreement to the points made in the document, vital, if they were to enter into full communion again with the Catholic Church. This would also make it possible for the Church to offer them some canonical status.
Read more 


In our DNA. Bishop Morris did it the Australian way

Terry Fewtrell     Nov. 2011

The story of William Morris is a cautionary tale on many levels. However one aspect of the story that has yet to be properly scrutinised is that, arguably, Morris was repudiated by the Vatican because he exercised his leadership in, what many would consider, a quintessentially Australian way. For if nothing else William Morris displayed that most endearing of Australian characteristics - he faced up to the facts and spoke directly and plainly.
By repudiating Morris and denying his direct honesty, the Vatican in a sense has rejected something deeply ingrained and respected in the Australian psyche. Some of his brother bishops probably see Morris as an archetypal image, a man who had the courage to articulate realities that they know only too well. Some see no point in arguing with Rome, but a good number find it difficult to see how they can maintain both their promise to Peter and their integrity with their people.
Read more

ThisYear's Papal Advent Theme: Prepare Ye the Way for Catholic Fundamentalism 

John W. Greenleaf     Dec.3,2011

The signs are all around us: Catholic fundamentalism is the theme for the new church year.

Some thoughts from GERALD ARBUCKLE
Fundamentalism is not confined to Islamic religions. In fact fundamentalist movements are to be found in all societies and religions, including Catholic Christianity.

Fundamentalism is a form of organized anger in reaction to the unsettling consequences of rapid social and religious change.

Fundamentalists find rapid change emotionally extremely disturbing and dangerous. Cultural, religious and personal certitudes are shaken. Consequently, fundamentalists simplistically yearn to return to a utopian past or golden age, purified of dangerous ideas and practices.

They aggressively band together in order to put things right again - according to what they decide are orthodox principles. Sometimes they turn to all kinds of bullying - emotional, political, even physical violence at times - to get things back to "normal". History must be reversed.
Read more

Pope: Others should be held to same abuse 'standards'

Francis X. Rocca, Religion News Service   Nov.28, 2011

VATICAN CITY - Pope Benedict XVI told bishops from New York state that "all other institutions" in society should be held to the same "exacting standards" as the Roman Catholic Church in preventing and reporting sex abuse.
Benedict spoke on Saturday (Nov. 26), one day before New York's Syracuse University announced that it had fired its associate men's basketball coach, Bernie Fine, over charges that he had sexually abused young boys.
Read more


Catholic Church Will Now Teach Us How to Handle Sex Abuse

Paul Davies    Nov.30, 2011   

Is the pope taking cover behind Penn State scandal?

With all due respect, Pope Benedict XVI either lives in an alternate reality or needs better PR handlers. His comments over the weekend to U.S. bishops about the sex abuse of children showed a continued disconnect with the church's mishandling of this ongoing scandal. The pope referenced the church's "conscientious effort" to confront sex abuse by priests.
Uh? Perhaps the pope meant to say conscientious cover-up.
No institution has done more to deny and downplay the sexual abuse of young boys than the Catholic Church. No institution has done more to discredit victims and protect pedophile priests than the Catholic Church. And no institution has done more to avoid accountability for decisions made at the highest levels to cover up decades of sexual abuse of boys by scores of priests.
Read more


Up to 350 Irish priests were likely accused child abusers

James O'Shea    Dec.1, 2011

One of the arguments made frequently in Ireland is that it is only a tiny minority of priests who were abusers. Yet the latest investigation, released yesterday, into six dioceses seems to indicate  the opposite.
The  report was compiled by the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.
Read more


Dutch Catholic church knew of abuse for decades, published warnings 

Nov.29, 2011

The Catholic church was aware of child abuse at orphanages and other institutions throughout the Netherlands as early as 1954, according to documents found by researchers in church archives.
Senior church officials have consistently claimed they were not aware of the abuse.

However, television current affairs show Altijd Wat reported on Monday night the church's council for child protection issued warnings about child abuse in church-run homes and boarding schools in 1959 and 1962.

The warnings were sent to the authorities at 112 homes and residential schools.

The letters urged institution managers to be aware of the dangers of employing people who are 'unsuitable' to give leadership to children.
Read more


Conservatives dominate religious advocacy in D.C.

Justin Elliott    Nov.29, 2011

A Pew study released this week shows that the growing number of religious advocacy groups in Washington spent nearly $400 million last year to influence public policy.

The groups are ideologically diverse, but data collected by Pew shows that conservative groups tend to have the biggest budgets.
Read more


USCCB reality TV

Phyllis Zagano     Nov.23, 2011

The webcasted November meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops held the excitement of a gathering of accountants discussing actuarial tables. You can catch reruns on the USCCB website. Even so, the 300 or so bishops, most over the age of 60, seemed to enjoy their Baltimore sojourn.  

At least two public talks -- one by Bridgeport, Conn., Bishop William Lori on religious liberty, another by Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl on the coming Anglican Ordinariate -- relieved the tedium of numbers, names and PowerPoint.

Both Lori and Wuerl were articulate and precise. Each looking exhausted, they covered their topics without a nod to the several elephants camped in their midst.

It's not just the sex mess. It's women and inclusive language. It's married priests. It's the plight of the poor. You almost want to scream at the screen.
Read more             Cartoon


Pope urges politicians to ban death sentence

Nov 30, 2011 

VATICAN CITY (AFP) - Pope Benedict XVI voiced his support on Wednesday for 'political and legislative initiatives' to abolish the death penalty in a message for the start of a major conference on the issue in Rome.

Speaking before thousands of pilgrims at one of his weekly audiences, the Pope hailed the efforts of the Sant'Egidio Community, a Catholic group that has brought together officials from dozens of countries in the Italian capital.

'I express my hope that your deliberations will encourage the political and legislative initiatives being promoted in a growing number of countries to eliminate the death penalty,' the Pope said.
Read more


Ten years later, controversial New York church still thrives

Jamie L Manson       Nov.30, 2011 

Ten years after her historic ordination, Mary Ramerman rarely makes it into the papers anymore. Watching her minister as a priest today, it may be hard to believe that she was at the center of a highly publicized, painful battle between the diocese of Rochester, N.Y., and the parish then known as Corpus Christi in the late 1990s.
. . . .
Spiritus currently has 1,500 active parishioners, including 250 families, with 1,100 people attending one of the parish's three weekend Masses every week. They are the largest non-Roman Catholic-identifying congregation in the country. 
Read more


Busted Halo's 2011 Advent Surprise Calendar 

The Editors    Nov.27, 2011

Each day, that day's link in the Advent calendar will start working, leading to a special Advent-themed Daily Jolt, with an opportunity for reflection and a microChallenge. Some of the reflections come from unlikely sources, and the challenges help you to take an action, usually a small one, based on the reflection.
Read more


Colbert Report: Yahweh or No Way - Altered Catholic Mass, Papal Seat Belt & Offensive Vodka Ad 

Nov.29, 2011

The Catholic Church revises the liturgy, Pope Benedict XVI gets caught riding the Popemobile without a seat belt, and a vodka ad offends Jews and Christians alike. 
Watch video


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Upcoming Event
New Ways Ministry's Seventh National Symposium  
to be held March 15-17, 2012

From Water to Wine: Lesbian/Gay Catholics and Relationships,
New Ways Ministry's Seventh National Symposium, will be held March 15-17, 2012, in Baltimore, Maryland, Major speakers: Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, Luke Timothy Johnson, Patricia Beattie Jung, Richard Rodriguez, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend.

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson will facilitate a pre-symposium retreat day.

 Workshop topics: marriage equality, transgender issues, youth and young adults, lesbian nuns and gay priests/religious, Latino/a issues, African-American issues, and coalition building.

For more information:
(301) 277-5674


Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 
(870) 235-5200 



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