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Advent2     Beannachtaí na        Féile Pádraig oraibh!
               Pronunciation:  ban-ock-tee nah fay-luh paw-rig uh-riv                    Literally:   St. Patrick's Day blessing upon you!   


2012 Hans Küng Award Invitation

The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) invites you to participate in the presentation of its Hans Küng Award for the Rights of Catholics in the Church, being given this year to John Hushon and Janet Hauter, cochairs of the American Catholic Council.  The award presentation will take place Saturday April 21st, 1:00 p.m. at the O'Hare Best Western, 10300 West Higgins Road, Rosemont IL 60018.

The Hans Küng Award is given annually to a person who has been outstanding in promoting the rights of Catholics in the Church, rights enabling Catholics to live out their responsibilities as adult children of God and followers of Jesus Christ.

Hushon and Hauter admirably meet these criteria.  In addition to lifetimes of active Catholic service, they devoted their considerable talents to establishing and developing the American Catholic Council (americancatholiccouncil.org).   
This includes the Listening Sessions which took place across the country in preparation for the Council, the Council itself (held in Detroit in 2011), and the various projects and activities which continue to flow from it.
Following the presentation, the recipients will give a brief presentation on "The Vision of Rights and Responsibilities of Catholics in the  Church."   This will be followed by a question-and-answer period and a reception.

ARCC sees its own mission as complementing that of the American Catholic Council, through activities such as developing a program to educate Catholics on their rights within the Church, thereby enabling and encouraging Catholics to carry out their responsibilities as adult people of faith.
Hushon and Hauter join such illustrious recipients as Hans Küng (2005), Archbishop Jean Jadot (2006), Joan Chittister, OSB (2007), Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (2008), Sheila and Dan Daley (2010), and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (2011).
For more information, and to register for this free event, please see
or call 1-877-700-2722  (1-(870) 235-5200)


Patrick Edgar, PDA, M.Div., President
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church

Some things we have been reading  

Lawyer: Vatican overrules 13 Cleveland closings
Thomas Sheeran and Jay Lindsay       Mar.7, 2012

The Vatican has taken the extraordinary step of overruling the closing of 13 parishes by the Cleveland Diocese, a lawyer who fought the cutbacks said Wednesday.

The move represents a rare instance in which Rome has reversed a U.S. bishop on the shutdown of churches.

The Vatican office known as the Congregation for the Clergy ruled last week that Bishop Richard Lennon failed to follow church law and procedure in the closings three years ago, attorney Peter Borre told The Associated Press.
. . . .
The bishop can appeal to the Vatican's high court. It was not clear whether he could simply restart the process, follow the correct procedure and close the churches all over again. Nor was it clear how big a financial burden the churches would be if the bishop were forced to keep them open. However, the diocese said in its most recent annual report that its finances are "robust."

From time to time, the Vatican has intervened on behalf of parishioners trying to save their churches, but Borre said this was the first actual reversal by the Congregation for the Clergy that he could recall over the past two decades.

"The Vatican seems to be reminding us that there're people involved here and people's spiritual lives," said the Rev. Patrick Lagges, a canon lawyer at the Archdiocese of Chicago.
Read more


Cleveland parish remains a community of a different sort
 Tom Roberts       Mar.5, 2012

There's no steeple. No big stained-glass windows or rectory, no signs along Euclid Street announcing service times or the pastor's name. . . . .  

The church, as it were, is an indoor courtyard away from office doors bearing such legends as "Solar Systems Networking Inc." and "Arteriocyte Cellular Therapies Medical Systems" and "Diagnostic Hybrids."

Somehow, it all seems to fit with this hybrid itself, the Community of St. Peter, born of the painful downsizing of the church in this city, and with this odd place where it finds itself on the church's landscape.
Once a parish in good standing with the Cleveland diocese and known for distinctive liturgies and a pastor who delivered thoughtful, provocative homilies, St. Peter, since August 2010, has been a community of a different sort, still known for distinctive liturgies and a pastor who delivers thoughtful, provocative homilies. 

That ecclesiastical parallelism, for lack of a better term, is one of the elements that make the Community of St. Peter so intriguing.

The community, by its very existence, raises devilish questions about what it means to be "uppercase" Catholic and about the significance of an individual community in the Catholic scheme of things, and about authority in today's church. In fact, when it became clear that the diocese planned to close the parish, the parishioners essentially told the bishop: "You can have the building, but you can't have us."
Read more


White House insists contraception talks are on track
David Gibson       Mar.6, 2012

The Obama administration is rejecting charges by the nation's top Catholic bishop that talks to modify a controversial birth control mandate are "going nowhere" because of alleged White House intransigence and efforts to diminish the central role of the bishops.

"The White House has put nearly every issue requested by the bishops on the table for discussion and has sought the views of bishops on resolving difficult policy problems, only to be rebuffed," an administration official close to the negotiations said Tuesday (March 6).
. . . .
"Unfortunately, it appears that some bishops and staff are more interested in the politics of this issue than resolving any underlying challenges faced by Catholic social service providers. Nonetheless, the administration is still hopeful we can find a solution to the most pressing issues."
Read more


Catholicism is not the Tea Party at prayer
 E.J. Dionne Jr.       Mar.11, 2012

The nation's Roman Catholic bishops will make an important decision this week: Do they want to defend the church's legitimate interest in religious autonomy, or do they want to wage an election-year war against President Obama?

And do the most conservative bishops want to junk the Roman Catholic Church as we have known it, with its deep commitment to both life and social justice, and turn it into the Tea Party at prayer?
. . . .
Opposition in the church to extreme rhetoric is growing. Moderate and progressive bishops are alarmed that Catholicism's deep commitment to social justice is being shunted aside in this single-minded and exceptionally narrow focus on the health-care exemption. A wise priest of my acquaintance offered the bishops some excellent questions about the church.

"Is it abandoning its historical style of being a leaven in society to become a strident critic of government?" he asked. "Have the bishops given up on their conviction that there can be disagreement among Catholics on the application of principle to policy? Do they now believe that there must be unanimity even on political strategy?"
Read more


Pope denounces gay marriage lobby to US bishops
Nicole Winfield       Mar.9, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI waded deep into U.S. campaign politics Friday, urging visiting U.S. bishops to beef up their teaching about the evils of premarital sex and cohabitation, and denouncing what he called the "powerful" gay marriage lobby in America.

 As debate over health care coverage for birth control rages in the United States, Benedict said there was an urgent need for Catholics in America to discover the value of chastity - an essential element of Christian teaching that he said had been subject to unjust "ridicule."

Benedict has long championed traditional marriage between man and woman, as well as opposition to premarital sex and fidelity within marriage. But his strong comments to visiting U.S. bishops took on particular significance given the culture wars that have erupted in the U.S. this campaign season.
Read more


Standing up against the hallelujah chorus for war
 Kevin Clarke       Mar.4, 2012

It's too bad U.S. bishops are spending so much political and cultural capital on the religious liberty fight which is now becoming bogged down over contraception. Too bad because while they are engaged in what I suspect will be a losing battle in a rhetorical war, the voice they are raising, rare these days in Washington, against a real war is getting lost in the cultural haze.
. . . .
In a March 2 letter from Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, chair of the U.S.C.C.B. Committee on International Justice and Peace, to U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, the bishops noted their concern over "an alarming escalation in rhetoric and tensions," including Iran's threat to close the Strait of Hormuz to commercial traffic and speculation on the possible use of force against Iran, including an Israeli pre-emptive strike on Iranian nuclear facilities.
. . . .
 "In Catholic teaching, the use of force must always be a last resort. Iran's bellicose statements, its failure to be transparent about its nuclear program and its possible acquisition of nuclear weapons are serious matters, but in themselves they do not justify military action," Bishop Pates said.
Read more


The bishops' little-publicized petition

Please join thousands of Americans by adding your name to the following petition to the President before March 31, 2012: 

President Obama, move us closer to a world free of nuclear weapons

Dear Mr. President,

Thank you for supporting the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons and for pledging to "put an end to outdated Cold War thinking." In the 21st century, nuclear weapons are a global security liability, not an asset. You must act now to reduce the nuclear danger and the role of nuclear weapons.

In the coming weeks, I urge you to end outdated U.S. nuclear war-fighting strategy, dramatically reduce the number of U.S. nuclear weapons and the number of submarines, missiles, and bombers that carry those weapons, and take U.S. nuclear weapons off high alert. Maintaining large numbers of nuclear forces on alert increases the risk of accident or miscalculation.

By taking these steps, you will facilitate reductions in Russia's nuclear arsenal, encourage other nuclear-armed countries to join in reductions, and move us closer to a world free of nuclear weapons.


Click here to sign your name


Kennedy doctrine still stands
Tablet editors       Mar.3, 2012

The contest between an ultra-conservative ultra-Catholic on the one hand and a billionaire venture capitalist Mormon on the other is one of the most intriguing spectacles American politics has offered the world for some time.
 . . . .
Mr Santorum's Catholic credentials seem so far to have helped him win over hard-core conservative Evangelicals, where once they would have objected. But they may have trouble swallowing his repudiation of the "Kennedy doctrine" of the first Catholic president - that as a prospective Catholic incumbent of the White House, he believed in the absolute separation of Church and State, and so in practice he would not take orders from the Vatican. 

The Kennedy doctrine made him "want to throw up", said Mr Santorum, who went on to give it an extreme construction far beyond what John F. Kennedy ever intended. 
. . . .
Mr Santorum applies his own uncompromising version of Catholic teaching to many of the hot-button moral issues in America.  . . . .  But it is his rigid views on the relationship between church teaching and the criminal law which are likely to harm his cause most. 
. . . .
In Mr Santorum's view, it seems, Catholic politicians must share in the guilt of every immoral act that they have not actually voted to make a criminal offence.   
Read more


Father "No communion for you!" not the whole story
John Shore       Feb.29, 2012

By now you've likely heard the story of how this past Saturday morning, at Saint John Neumann Catholic Church in Maryland, Barbara Johnson was denied holy communion by the priest officiating at the funeral of her beloved mother.
. . . .
Yes, Fr. Guarnizo denied Barbara communion. But almost immediately thereafter a layperson acting as the service's Eucharistic Minister did lovingly serve Barbara communion.

Yes, Fr. Guarnizo essentially shunned Barbara. But directly following the service (and to a necessarily lesser degree during the service), Barbara was also surrounded and hugged by fellow Catholics who made a point of telling her that Fr. Marcel in no way represented the love of the Church.

Yes, Fr. Guarnizo shamelessly refused to go to the cemetery. But immediately thereupon the funeral director ("an angel," says Barbara) comforted Barbara with assurances that he would quickly secure a priest to perform the burial. He then turned to Fr. Peter Sweeney, who wasted no time at all stepping right out of his retirement, and right into the Johnson funeral service.
. . . .
When the head of Saint John Neumann's, Fr. LaHood, was made aware of what had happened at the Johnson funeral, he phoned Barbara to apologize. Barbara played for me Fr. LaHood's message. It left nothing on the table: his apology was sincere, obviously heartfelt, and accompanied by every last means to reach him, including his personal cell and home phone number.

After Barbara later met with Fr. LaHood, she reported that, "He was very kind, compassionate, and apologetic." 
Read more


Gaithersburg Catholic priest placed on leave for 'intimidating behavior'
Michelle Boorstein      Mar.11, 2012

A  Gaithersburg Catholic priest who triggered national debate late last month when he denied Communion to a lesbian at her mother's funeral Mass has been placed on administrative leave from ministry in the Washington archdiocese.

Specific details about why the Rev. Marcel Guarnizo 
was barred from ministry - a severe penalty- were not immediately available. The Post learned of the action from a letter dated March 9 that is written to other archdiocesan priests.

The letter from Bishop Barry Knestout, a top administrator in the archdiocese, which covers Washington and the Maryland suburbs, says the punishment was for "engaging in intimidating behavior toward parish staff and others that is incompatible with proper priestly ministry."

The archdiocese on Sunday confirmed Guarnizo's removal, and noted that Knestout's letter was read at all Masses this weekend at St. John Neumann. The pastor there, the Rev. Thomas LaHood, added some additional comments, including noting -- and repeating -- that the removal was not related to the Communion standoff, but "pertains to actions over the past week or two."  He did not elaborate.
Read more


'The Daily Show' with Cathleen Kaveny
Grant Gallicho      March 2, 2012

Be sure not to miss Commonweal columnist and Notre Dame professor Cathleen Kaveny's appearance on The Daily Show! Cathy chats amiably with Jon Stewart about the bishops, contraception, the HHS mandate, social justice, political rhetoric, and why she's still a Catholic. 
Part 1              Part 2


Diarmuid Martin claims Irish Catholicism at 'breaking point'

(CBS News) An Irishman named Diarmuid Martin says the Catholic Church in Ireland has reached a breaking point, a crisis that he says results from the sexual abuse of children by priests and the cover-up by the Church. Martin has provided tens of thousands of pages of evidence against specific priests, and his words and actions carry extraordinary weight. That's because Diarmuid Martin is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin. Bob Simon reports.
Watch "60 Minutes" segment and read transcript 


Jury set in clergy sex abuse trial
 John P. Martin       Mar.5, 2012

Ending a two-week screening process, lawyers on Monday chose a retired nurse and an airport security guard as the final alternate jurors for the conspiracy and child-sex abuse trial of three current and former Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests.
. . . .
Opening statements are scheduled to begin March 26, and the trial is projected to last as long as four months.
. . . .
Msgr. William J. Lynn, a former administrator for the archdiocese, faces endangerment charges for allegedly recommending abusive priests for assignments that gave them access to children. His codefendants - the Rev. James J. Brennan and Edward Avery, a former priest - are accused of sexually assaulting two boys in separate incidents in the 1990s. 
Read more


Ex-priest on the run
 David Jackson and Gary Marx,        Mar.10, 2012

Accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl, the Rev. Sleeva Raju Policetti fled nearly a decade ago to his native India, where the Roman Catholic archbishop of Hyderabad soon issued an order barring him from ministry. 

In 2008, after a canonical trial, theVatican took the rare and severe step of defrocking Policetti over the allegations, meaning he is no longer a priest.

But civil justice never caught up to the fugitive ex-priest, whose lawyers in India have fought efforts to extradite him to Chicago to face 20 felony counts of criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse.

And now it's apparently too late.

In recent days, Policetti's case took a dramatic turn when an attorney for Policetti's alleged victim indicated to Cook County prosecutors that she was no longer willing to pursue charges - a decision that would effectively force prosecutors to dismiss the case and abandon the years-long extradition effort 
Read more


A Decade Later, Catholic Anger, Defections Over Abuse Not Letting Up
David Briggs       Mar.9, 2012

The revelations in recent years of the global nature of the scandal are only inflaming the anger of rank-and-file Catholics, analysts say.

The Catholic abuse scandal became a national crisis for the church in 2002 following revelations of widespread wrongdoing in Boston, Cleveland and other areas of the country. By 2005, as the church responded with new rules and safeguards, many Catholics were willing to give bishops the benefit of the doubt, sociologist William D'Antonio of Catholic University of America said.

However, "Six years later, as the scandal continues and becomes worldwide, the laity seem much more distressed by it," said D'Antonio, who has led five major surveys of American Catholics since 1987. "The laity seems to be losing their patience."

In the 2011 study of 1,442 adult Catholics, 69 percent of respondents said the Catholic bishops have done a fair or poor job in handling accusations of sexual abuse by priests. More than four in five respondents said the issue has hurt church leaders' political credibility, reported researchers D'Antonio, Mary Gautier of the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate and Michele Dillon of the University of New Hampshire.

Many Catholics may be lost for good.

In an online survey of Catholics who left the church, 20 percent of respondents who said they were returning to the church listed anger at church leadership over the sexual abuse scandal as one reason for their departure. Among those who say they are not returning, 64 percent said anger over the scandal was a reason they left.
Read more


Sacramento Catholic Diocese drops funds over nonprofit director's views
Cynthia Hubert       Mar.8, 2012

The Catholic Diocese of Sacramento no longer will fund programs at Francis House, a nonprofit agency that serves homeless people, because of its new director's views supporting abortion rights and gay marriage.
 . . . .
Each morning, dozens of poor people line up at Francis House, in Sacramento's homeless services epicenter on C and 14th streets, for help with basic services such as housing and transportation. Now in its 42nd year, the organization is one of the largest homeless services agencies in the Sacramento region, serving upward of 25,000 people. It has an annual budget of about $500,000.

For at least two decades, Francis House has received annual donations from the diocese ranging from $7,500 to $10,000, said Michael Miiller, a member of the agency's corporate advisory board. 
Read more


BC Won't Renew Contract Of Controversial Professor
Monica Brady-Myerov      Mar.5, 2012

Several students are protesting the decision by Boston College to not renew the contract of an adjunct professor in its School of Theology and Ministry who has openly questioned why the Catholic church won't ordain women.
. . . .
But after Father John Shea, a professor of pastoral care and counseling, asked church leaders for a theological explanation for why women are not being ordained to the priesthood of the Catholic church, he was let go. After nine years, Shea will leave his position at the end of this semester. He refused to comment.
Read more


U.S. adds Vatican to money-laundering 'concern' list
 Philip Pullella       Mar.8, 2012

(Reuters) - The Vatican has for the first time appeared on the State Department's list of money-laundering centers but the tiny city-state is not rated as a high-risk country.

The 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report was made public on Wednesday and Washington's list of 190 countries classifies them in three categories: of primary concern, of concern and monitored.

The Vatican is in the second category, grouped with 67 other nations including Poland, Egypt, Ireland, Hungary and Chile.

It was added to the list because it was considered vulnerable to money-laundering and had recently established programs to prevent it, a State Department official said.
. . . .
Two months ago, Italian newspapers published leaked internal letters which appeared to show a conflict among top Vatican officials about just how transparent the bank should be about dealings that took place before it enacted its new laws.

The Vatican Bank was formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) and was entangled in the collapse 30 years ago of Banco Ambrosiano, with its lurid allegations about money-laundering, freemasons, mafiosi and the mysterious death of Ambrosiano chairman Roberto Calvi - "God's banker".
Read more


Rumored new doctrinal czar has liberation theology ties
 John L Allen Jr       Feb.28,  2012

Although speculation about who's in line for top Vatican jobs is a favorite indoor sport in Catholicism, usually to be taken with a grain of salt, you can sometimes tell a rumor is serious when pot shots start falling on the would-be nominee.
By that standard, Bishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller of Regensburg, Germany, has to be considered a hot tip for the next prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican's powerful doctrine office currently headed by American Cardinal William Levada.
. . . .
Specifically, the e-mails faulted Müller for espousing suspect positions on the virginity of Mary (which he said in a 2003 book shouldn't be understood in a "physiological" sense), the Eucharist (Müller has apparently counseled against using the term "body and blood of Christ" to describe the consecrated bread and wine at Mass), and ecumenism (last October, Müller declared that Protestants are "already part of the church" founded by Christ.)

Whatever evaluation one makes of those points, the e-mails suggest that rumors around Müller's possible appointment have set off alarms in traditionalist circles.
Müller has long been something of a paradox. In Germany, he's seen as a staunch defender of Catholic orthodoxy, often at odds with the liberal reform group "We Are Church", and he clearly enjoys papal favor.
 . . . .
Despite his broadly conservative reputation, Müller actually earned his doctorate in 1977 under then-Fr. Karl Lehmann, who went on to become the cardinal of Mainz and the leader of the moderate wing of the German bishops' conference. Müller's dissertation was on the famed German Protestant theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Moreover, Müller is a close personal friend of the renowned Peruvian theologian Gustavo Gutiérrez, considered the father of liberation theology. Every year since 1998, Müller has travelled to Peru to take a course from Gutiérrez, and has spent time living with farmers in a rural parish near the border with Bolivia.
Read more


Anglican leader, pope pray for unity, warn of greed
AFP       Mar.11 2012

The Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope Benedict XVI jointly prayed for the unity of Christianity in a rare gesture on Saturday despite simmering resentment over the Catholic Church's move to recruit Anglicans.

Anglican leader Rowan Williams and the pope celebrated vespers together in the monastery of San Gregorio al Celio near the Colosseum in Rome and a stone Celtic cross brought from Canterbury was put up in the ancient church.
. . . .
In his homily Williams said the Church was "called upon to show that same prophetic spirit which is ascribed to St Gregory, the capacity to see where true need is and to answer God's call in the person of the needy. 
Read more


Anonymous hackers claim to bring down Vatican website, site inaccessible for hours
Nicole Winfield, AP       Mar.7, 2012

Members of the amorphous hacking group Anonymous claimed Wednesday to have taken down the Vatican website to protest everything from Catholic doctrine to the sexual abuse of children.
 . . . .
 The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed the attack but declined to comment on its possible source. He said he didn't know how long it would take the Vatican's technicians to bring the site back up.

In what claims to be the "official" site of Anonymous in Italy, a statement posted Wednesday said the group was attacking the Vatican to protest the execution of heretics and the burning of books during the Inquisition and more recently the sexual abuse of children by priests.
Read more


Vatican official sees 'strategy of confusion' behind leaks scandal
John L Allen Jr        Mar. 8, 2012  

A senior Vatican prelate has claimed that a "strategy of confusion" is behind the current leaks scandal, arguing that the recent torrent of leaked documents is intended to paint a picture of the Vatican as a "ship without a helmsman", thereby undercutting the moral leadership of Pope Benedict XVI.

The comments came from Italian Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the Vatican's former top diplomat and then, until October 2011, the man who led the Government of the Vatican City State. That's the office where Arcbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, today the pope's ambassador in the United States, held the number two role.

It was two confidential letters from Viganò to the pope and to the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, complaining of corruption and cronyism in the finances of the government, which triggered the recent avalanche of leaked documents.
NCR translation of Lajolo's interview with TG24


Are Catholic hospitals and universities really in danger of closing?
 Scott Alessi       Mar 5, 2012

Chicago's Cardinal Francis George caused a stir last week when he wrote that Catholic-affiliated institutions are in danger of closing as a result of the Department of Health and Human Services' requirement of mandatory contraception coverage.
. . . . 
George's comments left some to speculate on the disaster of Catholic hospitals closing their doors, but less attention has been paid to a more obvious question: Do the bishops have the authority to shut down Catholic hospitals, universities, and social service agencies? And if not, do the institutions themselves feel strongly enough about this to close over the law? 

The answer, most likely, is no on both counts. Most of these organizations are run not by a diocese, but by either a religious order, an independent board of directors, or some combination of the two. Though they have a Catholic mission and may follow the teachings of the church, they are generally not answering directly to their local bishop.
. . . .
Hopefully no organization will be forced to shed its Catholic affiliation or be disowned by a local bishop over the government's health care insurance regulations. But those that do choose to follow the law, even against a bishop's wishes, won't necessarily abandon their Catholic mission. And even though bishops may threaten that the law will mean those institutions will be wiped from the pages of diocesan directories, that doesn't mean the organizations themselves will cease to exist. 
Read more


FFRF ad, 'Quit the Catholic Church,' runs in New York Times
NY Times ad      Mar.9, 2012

The Freedom From Religion Foundation placed an open letter via a full-page ad in today's New York Times (page 10, front section) urging liberal and nominal Roman Catholics to "quit" their church over its war against contraception. 

Beginning "It's your moment of truth," the ad asks: "Do you choose women and their rights, or Bishops and their wrongs? You are an enabler. And it's got to stop." 

 "As a member of the 'flock' of an avowedly antidemocratic Old Boys Club, isn't it time you vote with your feet? Please, exit en Mass," requests the ad, signed by FFRF Co-Presidents Annie Laurie Gaylor and Dan Barker. 
 . . . .
The Times required FFRF to alter its punchy headline, 'It's Time to Quit the Catholic Church,' to 'It's Time to Consider Quitting the Catholic Church.' Barker called that decision "disappointing" and "a sign of the Catholic Church's inordinate power to intimidate and muzzle criticism."  
Read more


New York Times' Gutter Rhetoric: Catholics Launching an Inquisition
Daily Beast       Mar.9, 2012

The full-page anti-Catholic advertisement in Friday's New York Times is a nasty piece of work, similar in tone and rhetoric to the hate-filled nativist screeds of the 19th century. In those days, cartoonist Thomas Nast portrayed bishops as alligators. This time around, the ad sponsored by the new nativists (actually the Freedom From Religion Foundation) features a reprinted cartoon portraying New York's Cardinal Timothy Dolan as a screaming madman. The foundation alleges that in arguing that religious liberty is at stake in the Obamacare debate, the church is "launching a ruthless political Inquisition"-capital "I" to suggest that the real Inquisition is back.
Read more


America's Theologian
An archive of articles by John Courtney Murray 

In light of the coninuing debate about religious liberty, we offer here an archive of articles by the premiere theologian of the subject: John Courtney Murray, S.J. Murray wrote extensively on what the church could learn from the U.S. commitment to religious liberty. At times, his writings reflected "a faith in American exceptionalism and goodness so prevalent in the United States after World War II" (Am.,2/7/2005). Murray served as an associate editor  at America and later as peritus at the Second Vatican Council.

For additional articles by Fr. Murray, visit this collection at the Woodstock Theological Center, compiled by Leon Hooper, S.J.

"How Liberal is Liberalism?"(pdf), April 6, 1946
"Separation of Church and State"(pdf), December 7, 1946
"The Church and the Council," October 19, 1963
"On Religious Liberty," November 30, 1963
"The Declaration on Religious Liberty: Its Deeper Significance"(pdf), April 23, 1966
"Freedom, Authority, Community"(pdf), December 3, 1966


A Clash of Catholic "Civilizations"
John W. Greenleaf         Mar.9, 2012

Understanding why the Church seems to be drifting far out at sea......

I was awakened by a vivid dream last night....A wrinkled old dinosaur, clutching a mighty crosier and crowned with a golden miter, sat perched on an iceberg drifting in the ocean. The more he roared and shook his crosier, the more the iceberg cracked and sank deeper into the icy water.

Roman Catholic leadership seems more and more like a club of old dinosaurs, caught in a clash of civilizations.

Just as we have seven sacraments, I see seven forces clashing and exploding in a dramatic confrontation that is really just beginning.
A sketch of what I see:

(1) Ongoing international sexual abuse: pedophilia, sexual use and abuse of women (often women religious) by members of the clergy, clandestine and widespread hypocritical homosexual activity by bishops and priests (even in higher Vatican circles), increased sexual repression and arrested sexual development in Pope Benedict's reform-of-the-reform seminary programs of priestly formation.
(2) A Vatican imposed institutional regression to a nineteenth century Catholic ethos that stresses: an arrogant triumphalist church glorying in its own grandeur, a church structure in which ordained are superior to the non-ordained, an approach to liturgy which stresses symbol and ritualistic rigorism as more important than the liturgical assembly, an anthropology that once again tends toward male exclusiveness, an approach to human sexuality that is more genital oriented than human person oriented, an approach to Christian morality that is narrow-mindedly and often pathologically preoccupied with sexual behavior and is blind to a broad range of other ethical concerns and issues.
(3) Increasingly around the world and particularly in Europe and North America Catholic laypeople moving away from being duty-bound Catholics to being men and women engaged (or not engaged) in the Church and Church activities because they do (or do not) find them meaningful. They have no interest in faulty products.
(4) In the minds of increasing large numbers of Catholics there is a realization that the Roman Catholic church-experience is simply one legitimate form of the Church of Christ but not the only legitimate expression of the Church of Christ.
(5) It is just about impossible to justify today the high Renaissance clothing, pompous ritual and ecclesiastical nobility in which members of the hierarchy parade, pontificate, and operate. (Kissing bishops' rings and calling them "eminence" or "excellency" is not just old fashioned. It is wrong.)
(6) After the American and French Revolutions, the rationality of the Enlightenment, and an enhanced understanding of the nature of the Church based on the Christian Scriptures, the monarchical papacy is not only nonsensical but offensive and an obstruction to genuine Christian community....the Body of Christ.
(7) The Church can no longer control the flow of information, cannot control how people seek to discover the truth nor what they discover to be the truth, nor can the Church any longer control human thought. We are indeed free at last.......

Let's put the dinosaurs in a museum. Or as Jesus said: Let the dead bury the dead. Let's recommit ourselves to being contemporary followers of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

The Church is not dead. It just needs extensive rehabilitation.....
Read more 


End of Church? Religion Dying? Spiritual Awakening? Some Liturgical Musings.
Anthony Ruff, OSB      Mar.9, 2012

Organized religion is in dire shape, while young people are reinventing spirituality. It's affecting everyone, from Roman Catholics to mainline Protestants to the conservative Southern Baptist Convention.
. . . .
It looks like we're in for continuing drastic declines in institutional Catholicism, marked by declining Mass attendance, parish closings, school closings, and shuttering of things like the  National Pastoral Life Center or the liturgy center at Georgetown.
. . . . 
For five or so centuries, we've all been enjoying the liturgy as a byproduct of the old order of authority, even as we've gradually evolved beyond that order of authority. It couldn't last, and it didn't last. Now, as Bass's research would seem to show, we're at the end-stage in the inevitable collapse of organized, liturgical Christianity, tied as it is to obsolete models of authority.
 . . . .
Is there a new spiritual awakening afoot? Is there a way for this awakening to reinvigorate our liturgical life? Is there some liturgical prophet out there who has a vision of how to tap into the spiritual longings of people today? 
Read more


Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
We are an association of U.S. Catholic priests, offering mutual support and a collegial voice.  We are engaged in contemplation, dialogue, and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society.
On August 25, 2011, twenty-seven priests representing 15 dioceses from 11 states and one religious order, meeting on the grounds of St. Mary's Seminary, Mundelein, IL, founded our association.  Subsequently we sent a letter to the USCCB informing its president, Archbishop Timothy Dolan and member diocesan bishops of this step, taking into account the relevant paragraphs in Canon Law.
Our hope is that US priests will join in this effort in sufficient numbers that the first general national meeting programmed for June, 2012, will justify our optimism that the initiative of a group that began with "Vatican II Priests" can be helpful for its members by being a VOICE FOR PRIESTS.

 Please join us for our First National Assembly, June 11-14, St. Leo University, near Tampa, Florida.

 Click here to download the complete Assembly brochure and registration materials.


Vatican II priests still embrace council's model despite reversals
 Dan Morris-Young       Mar.12, 2012

As the golden anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's opening on Oct. 11, 1962, approaches, men ordained in the years bookending the council predominantly embrace "the spirit of Vatican II" as a wellhead for their lives and ministry even as other Catholics disparage that "spirit."

At the same time, many of these "Vatican II priests" -- as researchers call them -- express concern that the iconic church windows thrown open by the council are being shuttered and latched. They raise concerns about church leadership, ecumenical apathy, a collapse of collegiality, the role of women, liturgical reform and more.

"Sometimes I think the Second Vatican Council is the church's best-kept secret," said Fr. David Pettingill, a retired priest of the San Francisco archdiocese who is still active in retreat work and teaching courses on the council for lay ecclesial ministers.
. . . .

They would agree with a young theologian-consultant to the council who wrote in 1963, "The formulation of liturgical laws for their own regions is now, within limits, the responsibility of the various conferences of bishops. And this is not by delegation from the Holy See, but by virtue of their own independent authority."

According to biographer John L. Allen Jr., that theologian, Fr. Joseph Ratzinger and future Pope Benedict XVI, would also write during the days of the council, "For many people today the church has become the main obstacle to belief. They can no longer see in it anything but the human struggle for power, the petty spectacle of those who, with their claim to administer official Christianity, seem to stand most in the way of the true spirit of Christianity."

And that true spirit of Christianity, Vatican II priests will say, was -- and is -- illuminated brightly by "the spirit of Vatican II."
Read more


All about Eve: The Christian roots of the GOP war on women
 Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite       Mar 1, 2012

The Senate has defeated the "Blunt amendment," the controversial bill named for Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) that would have that would allowed even non-religious employers to opt out of health care coverage they disagreed with on "moral grounds."

This defeat is not an end to the GOP's war on women, however. It is merely a skirmish in what looks to be a protracted struggle for women's freedom and dignity in this country. This attack on women is, and I am grieved to say it, driven by a particular Christian theological perspective that denigrates women and holds them responsible for sin, particularly sexual sin.
GOP politics today is, in fact, all about Eve.

The GOP war on women will continue precisely because of the conservative Christian theology that drives wedge politics in a campaign season has a fundamental contempt for women and their equal dignity and worth. . . . .  In conservative Christian eyes, women are the evil temptresses, the sinner "Eves" who lead the gullible Adams astray, especially sexually. 

There are "softer" forms of this view of women as sexual temptresses, as in  John Paul II's Apostolic Letter on women, where Mary is the "new Eve." Women's "femininity" earns them love, but the implication is clearly only if they stay "Mary," the good mother, and don't wander over into the independence of "Eve."
. . . . 
 But mark my words, the GOP's war on women will not end because the Republican party has shackled themselves to a theology that sees women as 'all about Eve.'
Read more


Catholic voter guide differs from two Catholic candidates
David Gibson       Feb.29,, 2012

The new guide stands in stark contrast to the positions of the two Catholic presidential candidates, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich, whose culture war rhetoric has dominated political discourse in recent weeks.

While the authors said they took their cues from the U.S. bishops' own voting priorities, the new guide does not even mention gay marriage, which the Catholic bishops increasingly regard as a threat on par with legalized abortion.

The guide from Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good takes the words of Pope Benedict XVI's teachings on social justice as its starting point, and from there contrasts the church's social teaching on the common good with the "explicitly anti-Christian teachings" of the Tea Party and like-minded movements.

In unusually strong, populist tones, the guide's authors decry efforts to cut government programs for the poor and middle class while protecting tax rates for the "super-rich." They "denounce this new ideology as un-Christian, un-Catholic, and, indeed, as a perversion of America's own best traditions."
Read more


CACG's Voter 2012 Voter Guide

Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good is pleased to present our 2012 Voter Guide.

We do not endorse any particular candidates, of course. That is not our mission. Instead, the goal of our guide is to help Catholics think about the political issues of the day in light of the Church's teachings about the common good. We encourage everyone to read our guide, share it with friends, show it to your pastors, and get the word out: In these contentious political times, the social justice tradition of the Catholic Church is needed more than ever


Catholic Church: We need comprehensive immigration reform, not 'Secure Communities' program
Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski      Mar.5, 2012

Programs such as Secure Communities, regardless of aim, are succeeding in spreading fear and division and in threatening the stability of the family. Moreover, the program is altering the relationship between federal immigration enforcement and local law enforcement.  
The Catholic Church's concern for the welfare of migrants stems from its belief that immigration is ultimately a humanitarian issue because it impacts the basic human rights and dignity of the human person. The Church believes this dignity is undermined by this program's alleged channeling of immigrants into the criminal justice system through racial profiling and pre-textual arrests for the purpose of vetting them for their immigration status. Because Secure Communities is operated at the point of arrest, rather than post-conviction, it casts a wide net over virtually any immigrant who has come into contact with the criminal justice system.
. . . .
The Church acknowledges the right of governments to control and protect its borders however the human dignity and human rights of undocumented migrants should be respected. Programs like Secure Communities as well as overly-aggressive laws such as those passed in states like Alabama and Arizona underscore the need for comprehensive and just immigration reform.  
Read more


Drop the I-Word Campaign 

Drop the I-Word is a public education campaign powered by immigrants and diverse communities across the country that value human dignity and are working to eradicate the dehumanizing slur "illegals" from everyday use and public discourse. The i-word opens the door to racial profiling and violence and prevents truthful, respectful debate on immigration. No human being is illegal. 

How can you get people and media to drop the i-word? Find out how to take action!

Suicide car bomber detonates explosives outside Catholic church in central Nigeria; 10 killed
Jon Gambrel, AP       Mar.11, 2012

A suicide car bomber attacked a Catholic church Sunday in the middle of Mass, killing at least 10 people in the blast and the retaliatory violence that followed after the latest assault targeting a church in a central Nigerian city plagued by unrest, officials said.

The bomb detonated as worshippers attended the final Mass of the day at St. Finbar's Catholic Church in Jos, a city where thousands have died in the last decade in religious and ethnic violence. Security at the gate of the church's compound stopped the suspicious car and the bomber detonated his explosives during an altercation that followed, Plateau state spokesman Pam Ayuba said.
Read more


Pakistan: Bishops say minority women suffer double discrimination
Vatican Insider Staff       Mar.6, 2012

Women from religious minority groups are "doubly discriminated and marginalised." They are widely abused and harassed, often forced to convert and their level of education is significantly inferior to the national female literacy average. This has been confirmed in a Report presented today on the occasion of International Women's Day by the "Justice and Peace Commission" of the Catholic Episcopal Conference of Pakistan and sent to Vatican news agency Fides. The Report which is entitled "Life on the edge", is based on interviews to more than 1000 Hindu and Christian women, carried out in 8 districts in Punjab and 18 districts in Sindh, where 95% of religious minorities, present in Pakistan, live.
. . . . 
On the occasion of "Women's Day" on 8 March, the Commission is appealing for the support of the whole civil society and is asking the government to intervene with legislative measures to establish gender equality, equal opportunities and rights for minorities, to bridge a social, economic and cultural gap caused by religious discrimination. 
Read more


Remember How Tiny We All Are
Ethan Siegel       Mar.1, 2012

With everything that goes on in this world, from our daily lives to concerns around the globe, it's easy to forget just how vast the Universe is, and how small we all really are.
 . . . .
The entire Universe is estimated to have at least hundreds of billions of galaxies, spread out over a spherical region about a million times larger in diameter than our galaxy is.  . . . . 

It inspired me to dig up this old (2008) video, that helps put into perspective just how big the Universe is. Sometimes, pictures can't do the same justice that a well-put-together video visualization can. And the Universe? It's really, really, really big!  

Size Of The Universe
Remember how big this Universe is, and how tiny we all are.   But despite all of this, we all get to be a part of it, 
here, on the most beautiful marble you can imagine.
Read more


The Most Astounding Fact in the Universe
Ross Pomeroy       Mar.5, 2012

Neil deGrasse Tyson is highly regarded for his proficiency in astronomy and astrophysics, but even more so for his unbelievable ability to educate and inspire. Recently, Tyson has been featured on a variety of media outlets to talk about his newly released book, Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier. Amidst his current medley of radio, magazine, and television interviews, all of which showcase Tyson's refreshing candor and soaring rhetoric, an astronomical gem has surfaced from his past.
. . . .
In 2008, Tyson sat down with Time Magazine to answer ten reader-submitted questions. One of them asked, "What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the universe?" 
. . . .
Here's a snippet from Tyson's uplifting answer, and you can watch the full video below:
"The most astounding fact is the knowledge that the atoms that comprise life on Earth -- the atoms that make up the human body -- are traceable to the crucibles that cooked light elements into heavy elements in their core under extreme temperatures and pressures. These stars, the high mass ones among them, went unstable in their later years. They collapsed and then exploded, scattering their enriched guts across the galaxy. Guts made of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen and all the fundamental ingredients of life..."  
"...When I look up at the night sky, and I know that, yes, we are part of this Universe, we are in this Universe, but perhaps more important than both of those facts is that the Universe is  in us."
The Most Astounding Fact (Neil DeGrasse Tyson)
Read more


Book Review:  The Big Reveal - Why does the Bible end that way?
Adam Gopnik       Mar.5, 2012

Review of "Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation" by Elaine Pagels (Viking)
The Bible, as every Sunday-school student learns, has a Hollywood ending. 
. . . .
In a new book , "Revelations: Visions, Prophecy, and Politics in the Book of Revelation" (Viking), Elaine Pagels sets out gently to bring their portents back to earth. She accepts that Revelation was probably written, toward the end of the first century C.E., by a refugee mystic named John on the little island of Patmos, just off the coast of modern Turkey.  . . .  She neatly synopsizes the spectacular action. John, finding himself before the Throne of God, sees a lamb, an image of Christ, who receives a scroll sealed by seven seals. The seals are broken in order, each revealing a mystical vision: a hundred and forty-four thousand "firstfruits" eventually are saved as servants of God-the famous "rapture." . . . . The Heaven and Earth we know are destroyed, and replaced by better ones.
. . . .
What's more original to Pagels's book is the view that Revelation is essentially an anti-Christian polemic. That is, it was written by an expatriate follower of Jesus who wanted the movement to remain within an entirely Jewish context, as opposed to the "Christianity" just then being invented by St. Paul, who welcomed uncircumcised and trayf-eating Gentiles into the sect. At a time when no one quite called himself "Christian," in the modern sense, John is prophesying what would happen if people did. That's the forward-looking worry in the book. "In retrospect, we can see that John stood on the cusp of an enormous change-one that eventually would transform the entire movement from a Jewish messianic sect into 'Christianity,' a new religion flooded with Gentiles," Pagels writes. "But since this had not yet happened-not, at least, among the groups John addressed in Asia Minor-he took his stand as a Jewish prophet charged to keep God's people holy, unpolluted by Roman culture. So, John says, Jesus twice warns his followers in Asia Minor to beware of 'blasphemers' among them, 'who say they are Jews, and are not.'
Read more
Book Excerpt


 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
4.  Louisville Liturgy Forum


Advent2 URL


Fr. James Dallen    Mar.6, 2012

The imposition of the new-but-old-sounding translation of the Roman Missal has been accomplished. U.S. Catholics are trying to remember "and with your spirit" and "holy Church," as well as struggling with the Creed and the Glory to God. Priests are, to varying degrees, struggling and stumbling as they try to pray texts which at times give the impression of having been translated by graduates of ESL programs or specialists in Victorian English literature-or which simply sound silly. Both people and priest are bothered by Latinate constructions-rambling sentences, clumsy relative clauses, a scarcity of periods and semi-colons-and multisyllabled Latin look-a-likes that have replaced simple and direct words rooted in our language's Anglo-Saxon foundations.
. . . . 
The translation of the third edition of the Roman Missal is another example of the restoration of the institutional model of Church.  Both the translation and the process for producing it are more consistent with the Counter-Reformation outlook and its institutional model of Church than with the communion ecclesiology of Vatican Council II. That is what I try to establish in
this paper.

Read more


Ad-libbing priest changes his mind, withdraws his resignation
George Pawlaczyk      Feb.28, 2012

The Rev. William Rowe, whose ad-libbing of the new Roman Missal of Mass liturgy led to his resignation, effective in June, has written a letter to Bishop Edward Braxton withdrawing his offer to leave.

Rose, 72, is the pastor of St. Mary Parish in Mount Carmel, and for at least 25 years has changed portions of the liturgy of Catholic Mass to "make it more understandable," he has said.

Rowe met with Braxton in October and, at Braxton's request, sent a letter offering his resignation. But Braxton, who insisted that Rowe follow the exact wording in the Missal, took more than three months to respond to the letter. That, Rowe said, is a violation of Canon 538 of the Catholic church and makes his resignation void.

. . . .   Rowe said he hopes his action will encourage more discussion about his straying from the exact words of the liturgy that might lead to him be allowed to stay, but added he won't stop ad-libbing during Mass.
Read more


Dutch-Flemish divide delays new Missal
Posted by Paul Inwood      Mar.9, 2012

Today's Tablet reports:
Liturgists from the Netherlands and Belgium may fail to agree on a single Dutch-language Missal due to slight differences in the way the language is spoken in the two countries, according to Cardinal Wim Eijk of Utrecht.

At present the two bishops' conferences have slightly divergent texts but they have been required to produce a single Missal in the vernacular to satisfy the demands of Liturgiam Authenticam, the 2001 Vatican instruction that sparked the recent changes to the Mass in English.
. . . .
Makes the much larger differences between English as spoken in different parts of the world look like an unsuperable obstacle. Oh well.
Read more


Upcoming Events
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: info@NewWaysMinistry.org, (301) 277-5674 or www.NewWaysMinistry.org.

 Bishop Geoffrey Robinson at Paulist Center in Boston on March 25 
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, author of the acclaimed Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church, who served for seven years addressing clergy sex abuse in Australia, speaks Sunday, March 25, after the 6 p.m. Mass, on the topic "Challenge to People of Faith: How Does One Reconcile Disagreement With the Institution and Remain Catholic?" For details, 
print the flyer.  The event is at the Paulist Center, 5 Park Street, Boston MA 02108 and is free (good-will donations are requested).


ARCC's 2012 Hans Küng Award 
to be presented April 21, 2012
The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) will present its Hans Küng Award to John Hushon and Janet Hauter, cochairs of the American Catholic Council. The award presentation will take place Saturday April 21st, 1:00 p.m. at the O'Hare Best Western, 10300 West Higgins Road, Rosemont IL 60018. Hushon and Hauter join such illustrious recipients as Hans Küng (2005), Archbishop Jean Jadot (2006), Joan Chittister, OSB (2007), Bishop Geoffrey Robinson (2008), Sheila and Dan Daley (2010), and Bishop Thomas Gumbleton (2011). For more information, and to register for this free event, please see 
or call 1-877-700-2722   (1-(870) 235-5200) 
A Retreat for Spiritual Activists
Pentecost Weekend May 25 - 27, 2012 
Occupy Christianity, A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity.  Join Matthew Fox and others May 25 - 27, 2012 Boston, MA - Adelynrood Retreat Center, Byfield, MA.   It is said that "the prophet is the mystic in action;" The goal of this retreat is to develop the mystic and prophet in all of us to carry on the important work of reimagining and rebirthing religion and spiritual community for the 21st century.  
To Register:  http://www.matthewfox.org
Questions: 510.835.0655

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



or text ARCC 
to 22828


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