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Message from the President

As we approach the highest point in the liturgical calendar, the Triduum, I pray that all of us find comfort and confidence in the risen Christ. I am frequently reminded that we are an Easter people. As such, we believe that life conquers death and that faith can achieve anything. This can be extremely difficult to believe when we find ourselves in troubling times. This season, we are in the midst of a rather aggressive move on the part of the USCCB. They are rallying the troops around the banner of defending religious freedom. The most troubling aspect of this is that within the official church there is no room for discussion. Either we all go along with this perspective or stay silent. There is no place for adult conversation.

We must ask whether that same demand for religious freedom is to be extended to Muslims and some Mormons, who may demand laws allowing for multiple wives. Will the USCCB support calls for Sharia law for Muslims?

Closer to home, after listening to the diatribe at a local parish community about how the rules on contraception are an attack on our religion, I took a moment to look around the room. What I noticed immediately is the absence of any large families. So, I will dare to say what no one wants to hear: this is a case of massive hypocrisy! It is clear that the majority of the people in the pews have used, or are using, some form of artificial birth control. I have been around long enough to recall the difference. Prior to the availability of birth control, the parishes were filled with large families, mine included. Now, a quick look around the room and the average family size is two or three children.So my conclusion is that one of two things is going on: (1)couples are controlling their sexual urges much, much better than ever before in history, or (2) they are using artificial contraception. I have to conclude the latter is true. That means that we have a large group of people who find it reasonable to criticize a policy that makes available to more people the advantages they have themselves. They are actually taking a stance against themselves because the bishops said so.

We must therefore ask whether legislation proposed by the Obama administration is an attack on religious freedom, or a step toward freedom from religious totalitarianism. This is a question we must be free to debate on the way to determining an answer.

If we cannot have a reasonable discussion of this issue, nor any other for that matter, we should seek other ways to make our voices heard. One way is to redirect our contributions to places other than the bishop's fund. I am not suggesting that we deprive any Catholic charities of our support but I am saying that the bishop's fund is different. For one thing, we have no way of knowing how much of our contribution is going to campaigns that contradict our own deeply held beliefs. Furthermore, in light of the recent revelations about financial shenanigans in Rome and elsewhere, it would be reasonable to avoid throwing good money after bad. One of our members has made her donation to ARCC instead of the bishop's fund. While I am not saying that we should supplant the genuine needs of the church, I am saying that we should reflect carefully on what we want to support in our giving. We should not put "new wine into old wineskins." (Luke 5:36-39)

Another way to promote reasonable discussion is through your support of the workshops ARCC plans to provide in the next few months. We are at the final planning stages now and seeking sites to present the workshops. The workshops will offer information needed to advocate for a Catholic Church that emphasizes the centrality of the People of God."This people possesses the dignity and freedom of the daughters and sons of God, in whose hearts the holy Spirit dwells as in a temple. Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us. (John 13:34)"(Lumen Gentium, Chapter 2, Section 9) The workshops will also help develop a strategy through which we may all claim our baptismal dignity as a priestly people. We seek only to promote the Light of the World and not to condemn any others. Your contributions toward this end will be greatly appreciated and put to very good use. I remain,

Yours in Christ,

Patrick B. Edgar, DPA
President, ARCC

Ed. Note:     ARCC recently received a $500 contribution from a member with the following note: "Keep up the good work!  Thanks for all you do.  This donation is instead of the annual bishop's appeal (again)".


Some things we have been reading  

Catholic Leadership for the 21st Century
Leonard Swidler      March 2012

We are already several years into the 21st century, and yet the Catholic Church is more like 1960 Catholicism than 1965 Catholicism. The Second Vatican Council was the momentous upsurge of intellectual and spiritual energy unleashed by St. John XXIII (so canonized by the traditional method of popular acclamation by the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church-ARCC) that dragged the Catholic Church into Modernity. However, from the 1968 Humanae Vitae, through the increasing Hamlet-like drift till the end of the pontificate of Pope Paul VI in 1978, followed by the repressive Reconquista of the more than quarter-century of Pope John Paul II, to the current stagnation/ regression under Pope Benedict XVI, the Catholic Church has lurched back toward pre-Enlightenment Ultramontanism (remember that word?).
. . . .
The question now facing the leadership of the Catholic Church, whether those in position of structural power or those in intellectual, social, and financial power, recognize it or not, is precisely how to bridge the gap between the mental world of Modernity in which we all live and Catholicism of the 21st century.

Ed. note:  An ARCC News clip can not do this piece justice.  One Catholic university professor described it as 
"A concise compendium of where the Church is at in the modern world and what, in essence, it needs to do to fulfill the mandate of Vatican II.   It should be required that every priest and bishop read and sign it."

Read the complete article here.  

Leonard Swidler's latest book is Club Modernity - for Reluctant Christians.  


N.J. Catholics give church a piece of their minds
Peggy McGlone      Mar.23, 2012

As part of a survey to understand why they have stopped attending Mass, a few hundred Catholics in the Trenton Diocese were asked what issues they would raise with Bishop David O'Connell if they could speak to him for five minutes.

O'Connell would have gotten an earful.

Their reasons ranged from the personal ("the pastor who crowned himself king and looks down on all") to the political ("eliminate the extreme conservative haranguing") to the doctrinal ("don't spend so much time on issues like homosexuality and birth control").
In addition, they said, they didn't like the church's handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal and were upset that divorced and remarried Catholics are unwelcome at Mass.

The findings are included in a report commissioned by the Diocese and presented Thursday at the "Lapsed Catholics" conference at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.
Read more


White House proposal gives religious groups more say in birth control mandate
David Gibson       Mar.16, 2012

The Obama administration is offering to expand the number of faith-based groups that can be exempt from the controversial contraception mandate, and proposing that third-party companies administer coverage for self-insured faith-based groups at no cost.

At its heart, the newest offering from the White House would allow religious groups -- dioceses, denominations and others -- to decide which affiliated institutions are "religious" and therefore exempt from the new requirement that employers offer free contraception coverage as part of employee insurance plans. 
 . . . .
 Sister Mary Ann Walsh, the spokeswoman for the U.S. bishops' conference, told National Catholic Reporter she was "surprised that such important information would be announced late Friday of St. Patrick's Day weekend and as we prepare for the fourth Sunday of Lent."
Read more


Despite 'tensions,' Catholics and administration working together
Joshua J. McElwee       Mon.22, 2012

While the words "Obama administration" and "Catholic" have been used together in recent weeks frequently to only highlight discord between the executive branch and the U.S. bishops over the administration's mandate requiring coverage of contraceptives in health care plans, federal funding figures may tell a different story.
. . . .
The numbers seem to support DuBois' claims that Obama has increased focus on funding Catholic social justice work. According to a fact sheet provided by the White House, the administration has worked to funnel more than $1.5 billion since 2008 to Catholic agencies, including half a billion dollars to Catholic Relief Services focused towards "global health and international development efforts."

And according to Catholic Charities USA Annual Survey data, which are available online, annual federal funding to Catholic Charities' agencies nationwide has increased by over $100 million between 2008 and 2010, with the total allocation in 2010 reported to be $554,212,255.
Read more


Good news for the rich: New GOP budget vs. Jesus of Nazareth
 Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite       Mar.20, 2012

Jesus announces his ministry as "Good News for the Poor" (Luke 4:18). House Republicans have released their budget and one thing is clear: this budget is "good news for the rich" and bad news for the poor and middle class.

Prominent religious leaders immediately issued a statement, "denouncing" the GOP budget for "its immoral cuts and irresponsible tax breaks for millionaires and corporate special interests"

Read more


Religious leaders press 'faithful' federal budget
 Jerry L. Van Marter       Mar.22, 2012

More than three dozen religious leaders today (March 22) unveiled a "faithful budget" that they say will address the nation's needs and priorities rather than partisan political considerations.
According to a press release from the "Faithful Budget Campaign,"  its priorities for a faithful budget are a set of comprehensive and compassionate budget principles that will protect the common good, value each individual and help lift the burden on the poor.
Read more


St. Louis judge rules in favor of St. Stanislaus church
Tim Townsend       Mar.15, 2012

A St. Louis circuit court judge has ruled in favor of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic church in a decision handed down this morning.

The ruling grants the church control over the assets and property that have been the source of a decade-long dispute between the historic Polish church and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
. . . .
"The Archbishop may own the souls of wayward St. Stanislaus parishioners, but the St. Stanislaus Parish Corporation owns its own property," the judge wrote.
Read more            Judgment


St. Stanislaus ruling stirs hot debate; Carlson vows fight to Supreme Court
Tim Townsend       Mar.17, 2012

The ruling comes just two months after a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision held that religious employees of a church cannot sue for employment discrimination. That unanimous ruling, known as Hosanna-Tabor, was one of the high court's most important church-state decisions in decades and amounted to a huge victory for religious institutions.

 The archdiocese saw in Hettenbach's willingness to explicate canon law an encroachment by the government on religious freedom that the Hosanna-Tabor decision halted. In a statement Thursday, St.Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson promised to appeal the judge's opinion "all the way to the Supreme Court."
Read more


Majority of Americans Do Not Believe Religious Liberty is Under Attack
PRRI/RNS Religion News Survey       Mar.15, 2012

On the heels of a months-long heated debate on religious liberty, a new national survey finds that a majority (56%) of Americans do NOT believe that the right of religious liberty is being threatened in America today. Roughly 4-in-10 (39%) believe religious liberty is under attack.
 . . . .
"Nearly 6-in-10 Catholics do not believe that religious liberty is being threatened. The only religious group in which a majority believes religious liberty is being threatened in America today is evangelicals."
This survey also finds those most likely to believe religious liberty is under attack are Republicans, white evangelical Protestants, and Americans age 65 and older.
Read more


Bishops' 'religious liberty' point man gets a promotion
David Gibson       Mar.20, 2012

If there is any Catholic bishop in the U.S. who probably didn't need a bigger platform, it would be William E. Lori, who was named Tuesday by Pope Benedict XVI as the next archbishop of Baltimore

For the past decade, Lori has led the Diocese of Bridgeport in Connecticut's Fairfield County, but in recent months he's become the public face of the hierarchy's new signature issue: the fight for "religious freedom."

It's a fight that has defined Lori's career -- and is likely to define the public face of the church in the months to come.
. . . .
Last September, Lori was tapped to lead the bishops' new Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty in order to sharpen the bishops' message and raise their profile after years of playing defense in the clergy sexual abuse scandals.
Read more


Court Rules Religiously-Based Restrictions in HHS Contracts with Bishops Violate Establishment Clause
Sarah Posner       Mar.24, 2012

Late yesterday a federal court in Massachusetts ruled [PDF] in favor of the American Civil Liberties Union in a challenge it brought against the Department of Health and Human Services over contracts with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. When the ACLU first brought the case in 2009, HHS permitted the USCCB to prohibit the referral of victims of sexual assault to be referred for contraception and abortion services. 

Although HHS did not renew the USCCB contract last year, the ACLU proceeded with the case "to ensure that taxpayer dollars are not misused to impose religious restrictions on vulnerable trafficking victims that receive U.S. aid," according to a statement.

Judge Richard Stearns agreed the case was not moot, and in holding that the policy permitting the Bishops to restrict trafficking victims' access to reproductive health services violated the Establishment Clause, noted, "[t]o insist that the government respect the separation of church and state is not to discriminate against religion; indeed, it promotes a respect for religion by refusing to single out any creed for official favor at the expense of all others."
Read more


OpEd:  Many Kinds of Catholic

Frank Bruni       Mar.19, 2012

If Catholicism is measured by obeisance to the pope, his cardinals and the letter of Vatican law, then Rick Santorum is the best Catholic to ever get this far in presidential politics.

 He doesn't just oppose abortion as a private matter of personal conscience. He has made that position a defining crusade.

He hasn't just been fruitful and multiplied. He has promulgated the church's formal prohibition against artificial birth control, yanking this issue, too, into the public square.

On homosexuality, premarital sex, pornography and more, he doesn't just take his cues from church dictums. He trumpets that alignment as a testament to the steadfastness of his devotion, the integrity of his faith.

And for this he has been rewarded with a truly noteworthy level of Catholic support.

Noteworthy because it's so underwhelming.
. . . .
But it's also true that his particular Catholicism isn't theirs. It's the hierarchy's. And his poor performance among Catholics should cause cardinals, bishops and the candidate himself to rethink the way they approach their religion.
Read more


Santorum: Only Catholics Who 'Take Their Faith Seriously' Vote For Me
 Zack Ford       Mar.20, 2012

Rick Santorum yesterday tried to explain to Fox News contributor Sandy Rios why Catholic voters do not eagerly support him, despite the fact that he's Catholic. He claimed he performs better "with folks who do practice their religion more ardently," as opposed to those who do not "take their faith seriously":
Read more


More See "Too Much" Religious Talk by Politicians
Pew Forum       Mar.21, 2012

A new survey finds signs of public uneasiness with the mixing of religion and politics. The number of people who say there has been too much religious talk by political leaders stands at an all-time high since the Pew Research Center began asking the question more than a decade ago. And most Americans continue to say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics.
. . . . 
Slightly more than half of the public (54%) says that churches should keep out of politics, compared with 40% who say religious institutions should express their views on social and political matters. This is the third consecutive poll conducted over the past four years in which more people have said churches and other houses of worship should keep out of politics than said they should express their views on social and political topics. By contrast, between 1996 and 2006 the balance of opinion on this question consistently tilted in the opposite direction.
Read more


High stakes for church in case against Mo. bishop
Bill Draper       Mar..25, 2012
 The charge is only a misdemeanor, but if prosecutors are able to win a conviction against Kansas City Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Finn, they could be opening up a whole new front in the national priest abuse crisis.

Finn is accused of violating Missouri's mandatory reporter law by failing to tell state officials about hundreds of images of suspected child pornography found on the computer of a priest in his diocese.

Experts say a criminal conviction against Finn, the highest-ranking church official charged with shielding an abusive priest, could embolden prosecutors elsewhere to more aggressively pursue members of the church hierarchy who try to protect offending clergy.
Read more


Archdiocese suspends top attorney
John P. Martin       Mar.17, 2012

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Friday suspended its top lawyer, less than two weeks before a trial that could shine a spotlight on the role he and other church lawyers played in the handling of decades of child-sex-abuse allegations.
In an e-mail to employees and pastors, archdiocesan officials said general counsel Timothy R. Coyne was placed on administrative leave but did not say why.
. . . .
But the general counsel and his decisions had come under more scrutiny.

The grand jury report that led to endangerment and child-sex-abuse charges against four priests suggested Coyne was slow to turn over documents regarding one abuse allegation. Prosecutors in that trial, which starts March 26, have complained about similar delays in getting documents from the archdiocese.

Last month, attorneys for the lead defendant, former Secretary for Clergy Msgr. William J. Lynn, disclosed that Coyne waited until this year to turn over records he found in 2006 that suggested that Cardinal Anthony J. Bevilacqua once ordered aides to shred a memo identifying 35 priests suspected of sexual misconduct with minors.

That memo and other decisions by church lawyers are likely to play a role at the trial.
Read more


De-frocked priest pleads guilty ahead of Philadelphia pedophilia trial
Dave Warner       Mar.22, 2012

A defrocked priest accused of sex abuse in the pedophilia scandal that has rocked the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia pleaded guilty on Thursday, just days before he, another priest and a higher-ranking monsignor were due to go to trial.

Edward Avery, 69, admitted to sex abuse involving a 10-year-old boy and was promptly sentenced by Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina to two-and-a-half to five years in prison for involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and criminal conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children.

Avery was one of three defendants in the high-profile case at the Archdiocese, the sixth largest in the nation with 1.5 million Catholics.

The trial is due to begin on Monday with Rev. James Brennan, who is charged with child sex abuse, and Monsignor William Lynn, the former secretary of the clergy for the Archdiocese, who is accused of child endangerment and conspiracy.
Read more


Monsignor's role at issue as trial opens
John P. Martin       Mar.262, 2012

A landmark trial over clergy sex abuse within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia opened Monday with jurors asked to answer a central question:
Was Msgr. William J. Lynn trying to protect children - or the church?

For a dozen years, Lynn was the archdiocesan official responsible for fielding and reviewing complaints about sexually abusive priests.

Prosecutors told jurors he was more concerned with sparing the church and his fellow priests from scandal than getting to the truth, helping abuse victims or warning the public.
Read more


Defending SNAP
Dennis Coday      Mar. 15, 2012  

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAP,  is in dire straits, basically broke, still dogged by lawyers who want to pry deeply into that organization's files.

The national media has finally caught up with that story. Defenders are coming forward. Even unlikely ones.
Dominican Fr. Tom Doyle argues on our website that SNAP needs protection from the bishops' lawyers because SNAP meets the definition of being "The People of God."
. . . .
With word now from SNAP director David Clohessy that the legal defense has financially strapped the organization, it seems our worst fears may be realized, that "the advocacy group will be irreparably harmed and victims of clergy sexual abuse will have lost a key ally in their fight for justice."  
Read more


Victims object to pedophile priest's burial in full vestments
Annysa Johnson      Mar.15, 2012

A Milwaukee area priest who was restricted from ministry for sexually abusing a child in the 1960 has died, and victim advocates are objecting to his being buried in his priestly robes.

"This is absolutely outrageous," Peter Isely of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said of the burial plans for Jerome E. Lanser, 88. "Here's a man who violated everything the priesthood stands for," and he is being buried "in full uniform," he said.

Julie Wolf, spokeswoman for the Milwaukee Archdiocese said Lanser would have a closed casket out of respect for victims, but that he was entitled to be buried in his vestments because he remained a priest until death. A private viewing will be held for family, but she did not know whether the casket would be open or closed for that.
Read more


Clergy urged to listen to victims
Irish Times Reporters      Mar.20, 2012

Clergy should devote more time and effort into listening to abuse victims, a Vatican report on the child abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in Ireland has recommended.
. . . .
A seven-page summation of the report by the apostolic visitation was published at the Columba Centre in St Patrick's College, Maynooth this morning at a briefing attended by Cardinal Seán Brady, Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, the director general of Cori Sr Marianne O'Connor and papal nuncio to Ireland Archbishop Charles Brown.
. . . . 
"We particularly welcome today the call in the report for 'a new focus on the role of the laity, who are called to be engaged both within the church and in bearing witness to Christ in the world."
Read more

Read the Vatican's findings from Ireland
Rome's 'dismay and betrayal' at abuse within the Church 

We are Church Ireland Press Statement on the Findings of the Apostolic Visitation 


Vatican report attempts mere excuse not explanation
Fr. Tom Doyle       Mar.27, 2012

The report on the apostolic visitation reflects an exercise in irrelevancy. The visitors listened but did they hear? The report includes the standard apologies, blame for the bishops and religious superiors, and praise for all the church has done in digging into the clerical culture to determine why the horrendous epidemic occurred.

But in reality, they looked for excuses rather than explanations. This "crisis" is not primarily about sexual molestation. It's about the obsession with power and the corruption and stagnation of the clerical culture.
. . . .

The Irish people didn't deserve the insulting claim that the "shortcomings of the past" caused an inadequate understanding of the "terrible phenomenon of the abuse of minors". The people named the causes head on: the secretive clerical culture, the lopsided theology of sexuality, seminary training disconnected from reality and the "church's" obsession with control. 
. . . .
Catholics in Ireland are walking away not because they need a "deeper formation in the content of the faith" but because they no longer equate faith in God with childish obedience to a clerical establishment that feeds on control.  
. . . .
The words and actions of Archbishop Diarmuid Martin - and Taoiseach Enda Kenny's laser-sharp assessment of the Vatican culture in his speech to the Dáil last July - are proof the real church in Ireland has accurately assessed the situation. The Vatican could have made unprecedented progress in restoring the church's image by listening and learning.
Read more


Pope to axe Irish bishops accused of sex abuse against minors
Giacomo Galeazzi      Mar.21, 2012

The Vatican is clamping down on Irish bishops. Rather than a real investigation, the enquiry carried out by the Vatican was more an explanation of the reason why Benedict XVI is about to cut ecclesiastical hierarchies down to zero. "Controls were omitted, bishops and religious superiors were inadequate and incapable of monitoring and containing the spread of extremely serious cases of paedophilia in the clergy. The culprits went unpunished and the victims were treated with indifference." At the end of the apostolic visit to Ireland, the Holy See prepares a damning report on the Irish crisis concerning paedophile priests.

The island will be struck by a complete change of tactics. New cases will be reported immediately and the Pope will personally intervene to change "the current configuration of the dioceses in order to make diocesan structures better suited to deal with the current mission." It is time now for all the bishops that covered up the truth regarding paedophile priests (7 have already resigned) to take their leave and the cooperation between dioceses will see a smaller number of better quality priests. The Holy See "feels embarrassed and betrayed by the sinful and criminal acts at the root of this crisis."
Read more

Comment on this article from VOTF Ireland 

This really has me scratching my head:

"The enquiry on paedophilia carried out by representatives of Benedict XVI means that the Vatican takes the blame for decades of scandals that involved priests, nuns and religious schools."

Where in the document does Galeazzi find evidence for this conclusion?  I read instead a placing of the blame on failing Irish bishops, who will be replaced in the 'reconfiguration' - with a fewer number of higher-powered loyal apparatchiks instructed never above all to embarrass the 'Holy See' for the term of their office.  They won't do that, of course - but they probably will embarrass instead all sensible Irish Catholics who have long seen the writing on the wall for Catholic magisterial arrogance.

No - I don't think this guy is really 'there'.


Dutch Roman Catholic Church Castrated Boys As 'Treatment' For Homosexuality
 Laura Hibbard        Mar.19, 2012

Shocking reports have surfaced that reveal at least ten teenage boys were castrated in the 1950s by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church as a "treatment" for homosexuality, the Telegraph  reports.

Dutch journalist Joep Dohmen, reporting for the NRC Handelsblad uncovered ten cases of the castrations, one of which was suffered by Henk Heithuis, who was castrated as a minor for reporting to police sexual abuse by a priest that he endured while in the boarding home.
. . . .
Radio Netherlands Worldwide reports that the new information wasn't included in the large Deetman Commission report published three months ago on sexual abuses in the church -- and furthermore -- that the commission received a complaint about the castrations last year, but claimed there was a "lack of sufficient leads" to warrant an investigation.  
Read more


Interpol Arrests Priest Accused in MN Sex Assault in India
Mar.18, 2012

A Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota nearly a decade ago will appear in a court in India now that Interpol has tracked him down.

Joseph Jeyapaul, 57, will be extradited back to Minnesota after his appearance in a New Delhi courtroom.
Read more


Bishop urges change in 'church teaching concerning all sexual relationships'
Jerry Filteau       Mar.16, 2012

At the Seventh National Symposium on Catholicism and Homosexuality, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson called Friday for "a new study of everything to do with sexuality" -- a kind of study that he predicted "would have a profound influence on church teaching concerning all sexual relationships, both heterosexual and homosexual."
. . . .
He began his talk with three basic premises:

  • "There is no possibility whatsoever of a change in the teaching of the Catholic church on the subject of homosexual acts unless and until there is first a change in its teaching on heterosexual acts.
  • "There is a serious need for a change in the church's teaching on heterosexual acts.
  • "If and when this change occurs, it will inevitably have its effect on teaching on homosexual acts."

"If the starting point [as in current church teaching] is that every single sexual act must be both unitive and procreative, there is no possibility of approval of homosexual acts," Robinson said.
. . . .
His full text at the New Ways Ministry symposium, as well as other writings and references to controversies Robinson has engaged in in his efforts to change the way the church's approach to issues of sexual morality -- far too detailed to be covered in a single news article -- can be found  on his website.
Read more


Sexual Abuse Case Clouds The Pope's Visit to Mexico

Rachel Donadio    Mar.24, 2012

The shadow of the disgraced Mexican founder of a powerful religious order darkened the visit of Pope Benedict XVI here this weekend, as former victims and authors staged news conferences to call attention to the church's failure to combat what they call a systemic culture of sexual abuse.

In the past week, two books released in Mexico drew new attention to longstanding questions about whether Benedict, when he was the head of the Vatican's doctrinal office, acted decisively enough about the Rev. Marcial Maciel Degollado, a Mexican priest who founded the Legionaries of Christ, once victims began coming forward claiming he had had abused them.
The media attention shows that the Maciel case is far from closed. The Vatican has said that Benedict does not plan to meet with abuse victims while in Mexico, as he has done in other countries.

After complaints of sexual abuse were filed against Father Maciel in 1998, Benedict, who was then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, quashed a Vatican investigation. He re-opened the case in 2004, ultimately finding that Father Maciel had led a double life, raped seminarians, fathered several children and abused drugs while leading a charismatic organization known for producing ranks of priests. 
Read more



Olé Father

Mexico abuse victims denounce Vatican as Pope Benedict XVI visits
Tracy Wilkinson      Mar.24, 2012

Sexual abuse victims angrily accused the Vatican on Saturday of protecting a notorious Mexican priest for decades, and said they were dismayed that Pope Benedict XVI will not meet with them on his visit to the country.

Benedict has sat down with abuse victims in almost every country he has visited. But his spokesman said Mexican bishops did not request such an encounter here -- an omission that victims' advocates said was unconscionable.
Read more


Vatican bank image hurt as JP Morgan closes account
Philip Pullella and Lisa Jucca      Mar.19, 2012

P Morgan Chase (JPM.N) is closing the Vatican bank's account with an Italian branch of the U.S. banking giant because of concerns about a lack of transparency at the Holy See's financial institution, Italian newspapers reported.

The move is a blow to the Vatican's drive to have its bank included in Europe's "white list" of states that comply with international standards against tax fraud and money-laundering.

The bank, formally known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), enacted major reforms last year in an attempt to get Europe's seal of approval and put behind it scandals that have included accusations of money laundering and fraud.

Italy's leading financial daily Il Sole 24 Ore reported at the weekend that JP Morgan Chase in Milan had told the IOR of the closing of its account in a letter on February 15.

The letter said the IOR's account in Italy's business capital would gradually be phased out starting on March 16 and closed on March 30.
Read more


Pope appoints controversial German bishop to Vatican
AFP      Mar.21, 2012

A German bishop who resigned after admitting he beat children in a Catholic orphanage has been appointed by the pope to the Pontifical Council for Health Care, the Vatican said Wednesday.

Walter Mixa, 71, tendered his resignation as bishop of Augsburg and military chaplain in 2010 as German prosecutors announced they were also launching a probe into paedophilia claims that were later dropped.

The Vatican has a dossier on Mixa which contains allegations of alcoholism, misuse of Vatican money and sexual abuse, according to German media reports.

At the time, Pope Benedict XVI said that the outcry over the Mixa affair was exaggerated, and called on German bishops to "show him their understanding and help him to find the right path."

The pope had advised Mixa to retire to a monastery "for a period of silence, contemplation and prayer," according to I.Media religious news agency.
Read more


Kapellari fears clerical split
Austrian Independent       Mar.15, 2012

An end to the feud between the Austrian Church's leaders and a "disobedient" group of preachers seems out of reach.

Graz Diocese Bishop Egon Kapellari warned of a splitting of the country's Catholic Church if the Preachers' Initiative failed to stop its activities. Kapellari appealed to the association of parish priests - which was established by former Caritas Austria head Helmut Schüller last year - to "slow down."
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Vatican issues ultimatum to traditionalist Catholic group
Philip Pullella      Mar.16, 2012

The Vatican on Friday told an ultra-traditionalist Roman Catholic splinter group they must accept non-negotiable doctrinal principles within a month or risk a painful break with Rome that would have "incalculable" consequences.

The ultimatum was issued after a two-hour meeting between Swiss-born Bishop Bernard Fellay, leader of the dissident Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) and U.S. Cardinal William Levada, head of the Vatican's doctrinal department.

Levada told Fellay the group's response after years of negotiations was still insufficient to overcome doctrinal problems at the root of the split with Rome.
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Vatican Launches Criminal Probe Into Leaks
Nicole Winfield       Mar.17, 2012

The Vatican has launched an internal, criminal investigation into the leaks of confidential documents that alleged corruption and financial mismanagement and exposed power struggles among Holy See officials, a Vatican prelate said Saturday.

In addition, Pope Benedict XVI himself has set up a special commission to shed light on the so-called "Vatileaks" scandal because he was so distressed by the "disloyalty" shown by those who leaked the memos, Monsignor Angelo Becciu, undersecretary in the Vatican's Secretariat of State, told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano.

The scandal - and the rare threat to punish the perpetrators within the Vatican's own legal system of criminal and administrative sanctions - has come at an exceedingly delicate time for the Vatican, which is seeking to win European approval for its efforts to ensure its finances are transparent and that its laws to fight money laundering and terror financing meet international norms.
Read more


Archbishop of Canterbury to step down, take university job
 Simon Caldwel       Mar.16, 2012

The leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion has announced his resignation.

Archbishop Rowan Williams of Canterbury said in a March 16 statement that he would step down at the end of December. The archbishop, leader of the Church of England, plans to take a job as master of Magdalene College at the University of Cambridge, England, beginning in January.
. . . .
In December 2002 he was named as the 104th archbishop of Canterbury, the first Welshman to hold the office and the first person since the 13th century to be appointed from outside the English Church.
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Wanted: Superhuman Anglican
Tablet Editor       Mon.24, 2012

The paradox of Dr Rowan Williams is that he brought great distinction to the office of Archbishop of Canterbury without actually achieving anything remarkable. The cards were stacked against him from the start, and would have daunted a lesser man long ago. 
 . . . .
To measure him by achievement is to miss the point. He has shone forth as pastor, poet, sage, philosopher and outstanding spiritual example to the whole nation. 
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Pope Shenouda III, leader of Coptic Christians, dies at 88
Lee Keath and Maggie Michae       Mar.18, 2012

Pope Shenouda III, the patriarch of the Coptic Orthodox Church who led Egypt's Christian minority for 40 years during a time of increasing tensions with Muslims, died March 17 at his residence in St. Mark's Coptic Orthodox Cathedral in Cairo. He was 88.

The state news agency MENA reported his death. He had suffered from cancer and liver and lung problems for several years.

Pope Shenouda's death comes amid a deepening sense of vulnerability among Egypt's estimated 10 million Christians. Islamic movements have grown increasingly powerful since Hosni Mubarak's toppling as president last year.
. . . .
Pope Shenouda clashed with the government in 1981, when he accused then-President Anwar Sadat of failing to rein in Islamic militants. Sadat said the pope was fomenting sectarianism and sent him into internal exile. Sadat was assassinated later that year by militants, and Mubarak ended Pope Shenouda's exile in 1985.
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This is how you elect a pope, a Coptic pope
Georgio Bernardelli      Mar.25 2012

A blindfolded child will deliver the final word on the election of the successor of Shenouda III, the recently deceased Coptic Pope. According to customary voting practice, the child will pull one of three cards, with various names written on them, out of a silver urn. For centuries, the Coptic Orthodox Church has chosen its leaders through this unique system, at the end of a complex, multi-step process which lasts several months.
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Ukrainian Catholic leader calls shrine legislation 'clear threat'
 Catholic News S.ervice       Mar.16, 2012

The major archbishop of the Ukrainian Catholic Church said government-backed legislation to transfer control of key national Christian shrines to the Orthodox Church was "a clear threat to the interdenominational peace and agreement established in our state during recent years."Do the authors of this bill understand that, by their initiative, they are again pushing our motherland into a whirlpool of interdenominational -- and in this case interethnic -- confrontation with unpredictable consequences?
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A pastoral funeral experience highlights the problems with Barbara Johnson's treatment
Scott Alessi       Mar.19, 2012

With all the talk surrounding the controversy of Barbara Johnson being denied communion by the priest at her mother's funeral Mass, someone else has come forward with a story that serves as almost an antithesis to the way Johnson was treated.

Anne Monahan was raised Catholic but later left for the Episcopal church, where she was eventually ordained a priest and has spent 30 years in ministry.

 Monahan writes in an opinion piece for the Washington Post of how at her mother's funeral she was astonished to find the parish being entirely open to her participation in the liturgy, as per her mother's wishes. She wasn't ostracized for being a non-Catholic, nor was she relegated to a minor role. She was treated with respect and dignity by the pastor and his assistant, and told that she could serve fully in the Mass in any way she chose. Monahan was respectful of the boundaries placed upon her as a non-Catholic, and the parish priests were respectful of her role as an ordained minister.


GQ Reveals Romney's and Santorum's Secret Service Code Names 
Marc Ambinder       Mar.19, 2012

Candidates who get Secret Service protection get to choose the code word that they'll be called-perhaps for the rest of their lives, if they're lucky.

GQ can reveal the names chosen by the top two GOPers: according to multiple campaign sources, Mitt Romney elected to call himself "Javelin." And Rick Santorum chose "Petrus."
Read more


John Chuchman      Mar.15, 2012

I'm Grieving,
You're Grieving,
We're Grieving!
Fifty years ago at Vatican II, 
the world's Bishops gave our Church Hope. 

They reaffirmed Freedom/Primacy of Conscience.
Today's hierarchy says it must conform to their pronouncements.
We grieve.

A church governed in loving Collegiality was promised;
We've been dealt a Feudal Monarchy.
We grieve.

The Sharing of Power with local Synods of Bishops Representing the People
was foretold.
Power, instead, has been consolidated in the chief hierarch.
We grieve.

Lay Leadership of and in the Church was mandated.
Rather, the laity have been re-delegated to less-than-clergy.
We grieve.

Ecumenism was seen as essential to the future of 
Catholicism, Christianity, Religion.
Instead, the walls have been raised.
We grieve. 

We all got excited about Renewed Liturgical Practice
honoring local Artists, Musicians, and Traditions.
In a show of power, the hierarchs imposed 
new archaic liturgical language and rituals.
We grieve.
Read more


Pope commissions custom-blended eau de cologne
 Tom Kington        Mar.14, 2012

He is picky about his robes and his red shoes are tailor-made, but Pope Benedict has taken the meaning of bespoke to a whole new level by ordering a custom-blended eau de cologne just for him.
. . . .
Casoli said she had a "pact of secrecy" with her most illustrious client to date, and refused to release the full list of ingredients that had gone into his scent - but she did reveal that she had created a delicate smelling eau de cologne "based on his love of nature".
Read more


Ordinariate: RSV Bible, calendar with
 -gesima days
Anthony Ruff, OSB       Mar.15, 2012

The U.S. Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter - for Anglicans/Episcopalians coming into full unity with the Roman Catholic Church - has published its   liturgical calendar. It has also announced that the old RSV translation has been allowed for the lectionary.

Much of the ordinariate calendar tracks our Latin rite - e.g. Holy Family during octave of Christmas, Mother of God on octave day of Christmas, Baptism of the Lord after Epiphany.

There are a few wrinkles making it more like the Latin calendar before the Vatican II reforms - e.g. Septuagesima, Sexagesima, and Quinqugesima Sundays before Lent, Sundays "after Epiphany" and "after Trinity" (the last is an old Anglican tradition). Pentecost has an octave, and there arerogation days and ember days.


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


Upcoming Event 

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 http://arcc-catholic-rights.net/kung_award/
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


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