<%@LANGUAGE="JAVASCRIPT" CODEPAGE="65001"%> ARCC News 09 April 2012 ARCC
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       Easter blessings


This is the day, O God, that you have made.
Raising Christ from the dead,
and raising us with Christ,
you have fashioned for yourself a new people,
washed in the waters of baptism,
sealed with the gift of the Spirit,
invited to the banquet of the Lamb.
 Through the presence of every friend and stranger,
 reveal to us the face of the one who has entered into glory,
Jesus Christ, our Passover and our Peace

Hans Küng Award 
to be presented April 21   

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.   The event includes a presentation and Q&A about the Catholic Bill of Rights and Responsibilities  (CBRR)  adopted by ACC last year.  A reception will follow. 
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). 
If you will be in the Chicago area on April 21, plan to join in recognizing these deserving honorees.  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).



Dear Joe,

Some years back when you were still the head of the Holy Office ("of the Sacred Inquisition" is, as you know, stilled chiseled in stone over its dark building immediately next to St. Peter's square), I wrote you an open letter  
concerning the role of women in the Catholic Church. At that time I addressed you with a familiar "Dear Joe," relying on our relationship from the late 60s/early 70s when I was frequently a Visiting Professor at the Catholic Theology Faculty of the University of Tübingen, and you were Professor Ordinarius there. I did so in the thought that this form of address would tell you that I seriously hoped you might open your mind and heart to hear what I wanted to say to you. I have no way of knowing what success I may have had, if any, in that regard.  However, relying on our former "collegiality," I am approaching you once again in this fraternal fashion.

I am disturbed that especially of late you have been giving signals that are in opposition to the words and spirit of Vatican Council II, during which you as a leading young theologian helped to move our beloved Catholic Church out of the Middle Ages into Modernity. Further, while a professor at our Alma Mater University of Tübingen, you, along with the rest of your colleagues of the Catholic Theology faculty, publicly advocated 1) the election of bishops by their constituents, and 2) limited term of office of bishops (see the book Democratic Bishops for the Roman Catholic Church ).  

Now  you are publicly rebuking loyal Catholic priests for doing precisely what you earlier had so nobly advocated. They, and many, many others across the universal Catholic Church, are following your youthful example, trying desperately to move our beloved Mother Church further into Modernity. I deliberately use theword "desperately," for in your own homeland, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, the churches are empty, and also are so many Catholic hearts when they hear the chilling words coming from Rome and the "radically obedient" (read: "yes-men") bishops. In my own homeland, America, the birthplace of modern freedom, human rights, and democracy, we have lost-in this generation alone!-one third of our Catholic population,  30,000,000, because the Vatican II promises of its five-fold Copernican Turn (the turn toward 1. freedom, 2. this world, 3. a sense of history, 4. internal reform, and above all, 5. dialogue) have all been so deliberately dashed by your predecessor, and now increasingly by you.

Joe, you were known as one of the Vatican II theologians who promoted Pope St. John XXIII's call for  aggiornamento (bringing up to date) by the reforming spirit of returning to the energizing original sources  (resourcement!) of Christianity (ad fontes!-to the fountains!). Those democratic, freedom-loving sources of
the Early Church were exactly the renewing "sources," the "fountains," of renewal that were spelled out in detail by you and your Tübingen colleagues.

I am urging you to return to that early reforming spirit of your youth. I am reminded of that spirit now in preparation for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies (JES), which my beloved wife Arlene and I launched in 1964. There in the very first issue of JES are articles by your friend and fellow Vatican II theologian Hans Küng, and yourself (!), looking to bridge over the isolating Counter-Reformation gulf that divided the Catholic Church from the rest of Christianity, and indeed the rest of the modern world.

Joe, in that spirit, I urge you to return to your reforming fountains: Return ad fontes!

Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L. dialogue@temple.edu
Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue, Temple University
Co-Founder, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church  


International Movement We are Church 
Press Release 
Rome, Apr.5, 2012 / Lisbon, Apr. 8, 2012.

Benedict XVI wants obedience by Austrian priests. But is obedience still a virtue?

The homily delivered by Benedict XVI on April 5, in the traditional Chrism Mass of Holy Thursday, was  particularly important. It seems necessary to express some critical reflections on it.

The Pope spoke indirectly of the text of the June 19, 2011, signed to date by about 400 Austrian priests, known as the Pfarrer-Initiative. It has been followed by other important appeals in northern Europe of similar content. These priests say they are obliged to follow, especially in relation to the shortage of clergy, "their conscience" and to "take action independently" as regards the organization of their ministry. They include active participation by the Laity and pose questions about opening up the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried, and the ordination of women and married people. But Benedict XVI, like Pope Wojtyla, will not discuss the matter, never. Ever since the international movement "We Are Church", born in Austria seventeen years ago, first raised these issues, there has been no rapport, no dialogue with the Vatican.
Read the full statement 


Some things we have been reading  


Pope reaffirms ban on women priests, assails disobedience
Philip Pullella      Apr.5, 2012

Pope Benedict on Thursday re-stated the Roman Catholic Church's ban on women priests and warned that he would not tolerate disobedience by clerics on fundamental teachings.

Benedict, who for decades before his 2005 election was the Vatican's chief doctrinal enforcer, delivered an unusually direct denunciation of disobedient priests in a sermon at a morning Mass on Holy Thursday, the day the Church commemorates the day Christ instituted the priesthood.

The pope responded specifically to a call to disobedience by a group of Austrian priests and laity, who last year boldly and openly challenged Church teaching on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and women's ordination.
. . . .
In his response to the Austrian group, his first in public, Benedict noted that, in its "call to disobedience", it had challenged "definitive decisions of the Church's magisterium (teaching authority) such as the question of women's ordination ..."
He then restated the position by citing a major 1994 document by his predecessor John Paul II that stated that the ban on women priests was part of the Church's "divine constitution".
. . . .

The group, which says it represents about 10 percent of the Austrian clergy, has broad public backing in opinion polls and has said it will break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and remarried divorced Catholics.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have for decades challenged the conservative policies of Benedict and his predecessor, creating protest movements and advocating changes the Vatican refuses to make.

Catholic reform groups in Germany, Ireland and the United States have made similar demands.
Read more


Quick! Get the picture before the women and children come in.



Apostolic Imagination
John Greenleaf   Apr.9, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI once again denounced the ordination of women and the abolition of priestly celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church during a stern Holy Thursday address.
Delivering his homily this past Thursday in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Benedict said the ban on female priests was a "divine constitution," as Jesus chose only men to be his apostles during the Last Supper.

Surrounded by more than 1,600 priests, bishops and cardinals, the Pope stressed that he would not tolerate disobedience about these issues.

With all due respect, Pope Benedict is blind to the realities of the early Apostolic Church. And far too many highly-placed contemporary Church leaders spend more time reading L'Osservatore Romano than they do reading the signs of the times.
Very early in the history of our Church, there was a conviction that what Jesus taught and did should be faithfully remembered but not necessarily repeated in all the forms in which the first disciples received it.

Apostolic imagination and institutional creativity were in the post-Resurrection Church.

Things the historic Jesus never directed, became normative in the Apostolic Church:
(1) By Baptism, in the Christian community, Gentiles were accepted as equal to Jews.
(2) A New Testament was written.
(3) Four different Gospels interpret Jesus Christ in four different theologies.
(4) A sacramental system is created with great fluidity and a variety of rituals.
(5) A plurality of ministries emerges based on individual charisms and community approval.
(6) Paul, who never met the historic Jesus is considered an apostle.
(7) Women are given the title "apostle."

The processes of theological and structural creativity continued into the post-Apostolic Church.
(1) The Council of Nicea described Jesus in ways that the historic Jesus (along with Paul and other apostolic witnesses) would have never ever used: the Son as "consubstantial with the Father."
(2) The Council at Ephesus described Mary in terminology the early Apostolic Church would have rejected: "Mother of God."
(3) The Roman Papacy became an authoritarian power structure.

And the process continued.......and continues.....and must continue. Long ago I learned the old principle of Catholic life: "Ecclesia est semper ipse sed numquam idem." ("The Church is always itself but never the same." That should be emblazoned on every bishop's coat of arms!

Resurrection is about on-going new life. On-going Apostolic Imagination.
Read more


In Philadelphia, a church at the crossroads
Rocco Palmo       Apr.9, 2012

In the tumult that followed last year's second grand jury report to allege a staggering history of sex abuse and cover-up in the Philadelphia archdiocese, the most striking response I heard from a reeling faithful came not from any cleric, staffer or abuse survivor, but from my mother.
Over a late-night cup of coffee as the revelations were still sinking in, all Mom could bring herself to say was, "It just feels like there's been a death in the family."
What she was implying seemed clear, but I wanted to be sure. "You mean your trust in the wider church, outside the parish?"
"That's exactly what I meant," she shot back.
If that was how Mom, a South Philly Italian named for a nun, now a lay minister and caretaker for my ailing grandmother -- in other words, a pillar of the faith -- felt at the start of a year whose turns since have read like a surrealist novel, one could forget about finding credibility anywhere else.
It's been a steady stream of "deaths" for this family of 1.2 million since February 2011, when District Attorney Seth Williams (himself a Catholic) stunned the church here and well beyond with the explosive findings of his office's second full-scale investigation of the archdiocese's leadership in five years. Listing the tiers of tumult that have erupted to roil the fold, however, does little to convey the sense of the visceral impact they've had, one many natives have likened to some variation of being "hit by a truck" as each fresh aftershock has surfaced.
. . . .

A considerable downsizing in bricks and mortar, however, is perhaps the most significant sign of the end of an era. Archbishop Charles Chaput has placed on the market the 13,000-square-foot mansion on nine acres where his predecessors have lived since the 1930s.

Despite the success of several appeals of school closings -- including a last-minute reprieve for four targeted high schools -- June will still bring the shuttering of 36 elementary schools.
And already under way is the first wave of an anticipated three-year process that could see the closing or consolidation of a quarter of the 268 parishes spread across five southeastern Pennsylvania counties.

Seven months on the job, Chaput's tenure is shaping up as an uphill decade of gutting and rebuilding a 200-year-old apparatus. Like the last year, the road ahead won't exactly be for the faint of heart.
Read more

Jerry Slevin's comment:

Sorry to upset your Mom, Rocco, but my four decades of law practice, after graduating Harvard Law, leads me to see this Philly trial most likely as another rigged hierarchical charade, in this case designed to help the pope's closest US Cardinal, Justin Rigali, walk "scot-free" from any criminal investigation.

Chaput has hired a former Democratic PA governor's law firm. The politically ambitious Democratic DA is going through the motions to wrap up Msgr. Lynn's case, which he reluctantly inherited from his brave predecessor, Lynne Abraham.

The press is losing interest because the judge, who used to work for the ex-governor and has expressed an interest in a Federal judgeship, is operating an almost secret trial with a totally unnecessary and undemocratic gag-order on lawyers, as well as unusual courtroom restrictions on reporters. The victims suffered the priest sexual abuse; all citizens should be able directly to see and hear their testimony and how the Chaput-paid lawyers are revictimizing them again with brutal cross-examinations.

The judge almost secretly and suddenly accepted two weeks ago a soft plea deal from a priest child rapist Msgr. Lynn protected and let the rapist be quietly wisked away into oblivion--for likely at most a one and a half year term.
Read more


Bishops say Obama compromise is `unconstitutional'
David Gibson      Apr.4 2012

The nation's Catholic bishops say the Obama administration's proposed revisions to a mandate that requires insurers to provide birth control coverage are still unacceptable and even "radically flawed" -- signaling a long drawn-out election-year fight between the White House and the Catholic hierarchy.

The bishops also say that they will continue to try to overturn the contraception regulations in Congress and the courts even as the bishops carry on negotiations with the White House.

The critical judgments on the government proposals, which were  published by the U.S. Department for Health and Human Services on March 16, are contained in an internal, two-page March 29 memo from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The memo's contents were first reported Tuesday (April 3) by Catholic News Service.
. . . .
The March 29 memo from the bishops conference says the mandate's definition of what constitutes an exempt religious organization is still too narrow and remains "radically flawed" and "unconstitutional." 
 . . . .
It appears that legislative action by the bishops' Republican allies in Congress have stalled. The bishops have some hope that if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Obama's health care reform law - which provides the legal underpinning for the birth control mandate - then the entire issue will be moot. 
Read more


Cardinal Dolan decries HHS mandate, weighs JFK church-state speech
  Apr.9, 2012

Appearing on the television show "Face the Nation" on Easter Sunday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan decried the Obama administration's contraceptive mandate.

"We didn't ask for the fight but we're not going to back away from it," Cardinal Dolan said. He added:
What I'd say is this: Yeah, I don't think religion should be too involved in politics but I also don't think the government and politics should be overly involved in the Church, and that's our problem here. You've got a dramatic, radical intrusion of a government bureaucracy into the internal life of the Church that bothers me. So hear me say, hey, I'd like to back away from this, I got other things to worry about and bigger fish to fry than this. Our problem is the government is intruding into the--into the life of faith and in--in the Church that they shouldn't be doing. That's--that's our--our read on this.
The prelate also defended what he saw as the main thrust of John F. Kennedy's famed 1960 speech to the Greater Houston Ministerial Alliance, in which the presidential candidate said, "I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute; where no Catholic prelate would tell the President, should he be Catholic, how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote."
Read more
"Face the Nation" transcript: April 8, 2012 (CBS News)


Judge orders Kansas City bishop to stand trial in abuse case
 Joshua J. McElwee       Apr.5, 2012

The first criminal case against a sitting U.S. bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis will go forward after a county judge's decision Thursday that Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, must stand trial on charges of failing to report suspected child abuse.

The decision, rendered Thursday morning by Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge John Torrence, denies several motions Finn's lawyers had brought in the case, arguing that charges against the bishop should be thrown out over questions of constitutionality and whether Finn can be considered a "mandated reporter" according to Missouri law.

"The Court finds that the evidence in this case is sufficient to allow a jury to conclude that Bishop Finn was a designated reporter as defined by Missouri law," Torrence wrote. 
Read more


Nobody expected the return of the inquisition
Dan Buckley      Apr.7, 2012

If Fr Tony Flannery lived 300 years ago, it is almost certain he would have been burned at the stake as a heretic. But the Vatican - and Catholic Church teaching in general - has come a long way since then. 

Or has it? The Vatican retains a tendency to view unfavourably any Catholic - particularly a priest - who has the temerity to question its dogma. A group of priests acting in consort is bound to come in for particular scrutiny. 

As part of his crackdown on so-called dissident clerics, Pope Benedict has ordered an investigation into Fr Flannery, one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests, an independent organisation that provides a forum for members to discuss issues affecting the Church in Ireland and Irish society in general. 

The association shares some of the views espoused by the more radical Austrian organisation, the Austrian Priests' Initiative, which last year issued a public 'call to disobedience' in relation to a number of Catholic Church teachings. 
. . . .
The investigation, which Vatican sources say was prompted by the priest's opposition to the Church's ban on artificial birth control and his support for the ordination of women, is expected to focus as well on the Association of Catholic Priests, which Fr Flannery co-founded. He also drew the wrath of the Pope for his public support for Taoiseach Enda Kenny's criticisms of the Vatican over its handling of clerical child sexual abuse.  
Read more
Association of Catholic Priests (Ireland) website  


Silenced priest receives global support
Claire O'Sullivan and Jimmy Woulfe       Apr.7., 2012

Fr Adrian Egan, who heads the Redemptorists' Mount St Alphonsus monastery in Limerick, went on radio in Limerick yesterday to deliver a stinging attack on the Vatican. 

Speaking in a personal capacity and not on behalf of the Redemptorists, he described himself as "dismayed, disappointed, flabbergasted, amazed, and hugely disappointed at the action by the Vatican". 

In a forceful interview, Fr Egan claimed priests were being subjected to FBI-like attention from Catholic agents who wanted to silence anyone brave enough to voice their opinions from the pulpit. 
. . . .
It also emerged yesterday that Fr Tony Flannery, a brother of Fine Gael's top strategist Frank Flannery and founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests (IACP), is not the only member of the Redemptorist Order in Ireland who has received a rap on the knuckles. 

Fr Gerard Moloney, who edits the Reality magazine in which Fr Flannery's columns have appeared for 14 years, has also been informed that not only is Fr Flannery's column to be halted but any content which may run contrary to the Church's teachings should not be commissioned.  
Read more


Theologian claims there is 'ominous divide' in church
Patsy McGarry      Apr.9, 2012

AS CONTROVERSY over the silencing by the Vatican of Redemptorist priests Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Gerard Moloney grows, an Augustinian priest has written about "an ominous division" in the Catholic Church.

Theologian Fr Gabriel Daly has said "one party is now in control and is presenting its views as 'the teaching of the church'."
He continued: "Its more voluble members dismiss those who differ from it as 'a la carte Catholics' - a witless enough phrase in a legitimately diverse church."
. . . .
Writing in the current issue of Doctrine Life magazine, Fr. Daly said the secular press unwittingly encouraged such "bad theology" by identifying the Vatican's Curia and even the bishops, with the Catholic church "thus failing to recognise the role of the people of God and legitimate differences in the church."

He recalled how at the end of the second Vatican Council in 1965, "power once again devolved to the body which was most in need of reform, namely the Vatican Curia, which has slowly but inexorably been re-establishing its former authority.
"The control it exercises is systemic, structural and fiendishly difficult to reform."

Aided "by secrecy and the unchallenged exercise of power, the Curia has established effective control over the whole church". Fr Daly observed that "there is little or no concern for those faithful Catholics who are quietly appalled by what is happening. They are seen as simply wrong," he said.
. . . .
Meanwhile a slew of priests have publicly asserted their support for Fr Flannery and Fr Moloney in comments on the Association of Catholic Priests website.
. . . .
As Fr Seán Duggan wrote on the website last Saturday: "First they came for Tony and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Flannery. Then they came for Reality and I didn't speak out because I don't read it. Then they came for Moloney and I didn't speak out because he is well able to speak for himself. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me." 
Read more


Christianity in Crisis
Andrew Sullivan      Apr.2 2012

If you go to the second floor of the National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C., you'll find a small room containing an 18th-century Bible whose pages are full of holes.  . . . . It was, rather, a project begun by Thomas Jefferson when he was a mere 27 years old. Painstakingly removing those passages he thought reflected the actual teachings of Jesus of Nazareth, Jefferson literally cut and pasted them into a slimmer, different New Testament, and left behind the remnants (all on display until July 15).  . . . .  He removed what he felt were the "misconceptions" of Jesus' followers, "expressing unintelligibly for others what they had not understood themselves." Alleluia
. . . .
When we think of Jefferson as the great architect of the separation of church and state, this, perhaps, was what he meant by "church": the purest, simplest, apolitical Christianity, purged of the agendas of those who had sought to use Jesus to advance their own power decades and centuries after Jesus' death. If Jefferson's greatest political legacy was the Declaration of Independence, this pure, precious moral teaching was his religious legacy. "I am a real Christian," Jefferson insisted against the fundamentalists and clerics of his time. "That is to say, a disciple of the doctrines of Jesus."  
. . . .
Whether or not you believe, as I do, in Jesus' divinity and resurrection-and in the importance of celebrating both on Easter Sunday-Jefferson's point is crucially important. Because it was Jesus' point. What does it matter how strictly you proclaim your belief in various doctrines if you do not live as these doctrines demand? What is politics if not a dangerous temptation toward controlling others rather than reforming oneself? If we return to what Jesus actually asked us to do and to be-rather than the unknowable intricacies of what we believe he was-he actually emerges more powerfully and more purely.
. . . .
And more intensely relevant to our times. Jefferson's vision of a simpler, purer, apolitical Christianity couldn't be further from the 21st-century American reality. We inhabit a polity now saturated with religion. On one side, the Republican base is made up of evangelical Protestants who believe that religion must consume and influence every aspect of public life. On the other side, the last Democratic primary had candidates profess their faith in public forums, and more recently President Obama appeared at the National Prayer Breakfast, invoking Jesus to defend his plan for universal health care. The crisis of Christianity is perhaps best captured in the new meaning of the word "secular." It once meant belief in separating the spheres of faith and politics; it now means, for many, simply atheism. The ability to be faithful in a religious space and reasonable in a political one has atrophied before our eyes. 
Read more


Learning to Respect Religion

Nicholas D. Kristof      Apr.7, 2012

A few years ago, God seemed caught in a devil of a fight.

Atheists were firing thunderbolts suggesting that "religion poisons everything," as Christopher Hitchens put it in the subtitle of his book, "God Is Not Great." Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins also wrote best sellers that were scathing about God, whom Dawkins denounced as "arguably the most unpleasant character in fiction."

Yet lately I've noticed a very different intellectual tide: grudging admiration for religion as an ethical and cohesive force.

The standard-bearer of this line of thinking - and a provocative text for Easter Sunday - is a new book, "Religion for Atheists," by Alain de Botton. He argues that atheists have a great deal to learn from religion.
. . . .
"The error of modern atheism has been to overlook how many aspects of the faiths remain relevant even after their central tenets have been dismissed," he adds, and his book displays an attitude toward religion that is sometimes - dare I say - reverential.
Read more


Joseph Amodeo Quits Catholic Charities Board Over Cardinal Dolan's Stance On LGBT Youth
Verena Dobnik      Apr.7, 2012

A day before Easter, the head of New York's Roman Catholic archdiocese faced a challenge to his stance on gay rights: the resignation of a church charity board member who says he's "had enough" of the cardinal's attitude.

Joseph Amodeo told The Associated Press on Saturday that he quit the junior board of the city's Catholic Charities after Cardinal Timothy Dolan failed to respond to a "call for help" for homeless youths who are not heterosexual.

"As someone who believes in the message of love enshrined in the teachings of Christ, I find it disheartening that a man of God would refuse to extend a pastoral arm" to such youths, Amodeo said in his letter to the charitable organization last Tuesday.
Read more


Bad news, good news about the death penalty in the U.S.
Liz Lefebvre      Mar.30, 2012

This week we heard some good news and bad news about the death penalty in the U.S. People usually want the bad news first, right? Well, here it is: According to a recent Amnesty International report, the U.S. was the only Western democracy to execute prisoners last year.

We ranked fifth in the world in total executions, behind China, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Iraq.
. . . .
And now for the good news: More individual states in the U.S. are taking steps to end the death penalty. In 2011, Illinois became the 16th state to abolish the death penalty, and Oregon recently placed a moratorium on executions. Debates about the death penalty are shaping up in CaliforniaPennsylvaniaMaryland, and  North Carolina, reports Faith in Public Life
Read more


Connecticut may end the death penalty
Daniela Altimari and Jon Lender      Apr.5, 2012

Connecticut is poised to become the 17th state to abolish the death penalty after the Senate passed a bill early Thursday morning repealing capital punishment.

The 20-16 vote came at 2:05 a.m., after more than 10 hours of debate. The measure now moves to the House of Representatives, where it has broad support. Gov.Dannel P. Malloyhas pledged to sign the bill once it reaches his desk.
Read more


Anna Maria College cancels Victoria Kennedy's commencement speech under pressure from Worcester bishop
Mary Carmichael      Mar.30, 2012

A small Catholic college that invited Victoria Reggie Kennedy to speak at its spring commencement has rescinded the offer under pressure from the Worcester bishop, who described her apparent political views as out of line with Catholic teachings.

Anna Maria College in Paxton, west of Worcester, released a statement today placing the decision at the feet of Bishop Robert J. McManus and saying it still believes Kennedy is an appropriate choice.

However, the statement continued, "after hours of discerning and struggling with elements of all sides of this issue, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees decided with deep regret to withdraw its invitation."
Read more


Catholic Fund Cuts Off Aid Over Groups' Affiliations

Dan Frosch      Apr.5, 2012

For three years now, Compañeros, a small nonprofit organization in rural southwestern Colorado, has received thousands of dollars from the Roman Catholic Church  to help poor Hispanic immigrants with basic needs including access to health care and guidance on local laws.
But in February, the group was informed by a representative from the Diocese of Pueblo that its financing from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, an arm of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops devoted to ending poverty, was in danger.
The problem, the diocesan liaison explained, was Compañeros's membership in an immigrant rights coalition that had joined forces with a statewide gay and lesbian advocacy group, recounted Nicole Mosher, Compañeros's executive director.
. . . .
Catholics United, a social justice group based in Washington, has vowed to counter the pressure from conservative Catholics. James Salt, the group's executive director, said it planned fund-raising efforts this year so groups would not have to lean so heavily on money controlled by bishops.

"What is apparent is that these conservative groups are succeeding in subverting the mission of C.C.H.D., which is probably the most important antipoverty foundation in America," he said.
Read more


Bishop: Total re-examination of Catholic faith, culture needed
 Joshua J. McElwee       Mar.28, 2012

The roots of the decades-long clergy sex abuse scandal lie not in any set of rules or practices, but are found deep in the culture of the church itself, retired Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson said Wednesday in a wide-ranging talk at the historic Newberry Library in downtown Chicago.

The "major fault" of the church in the scandal, Robinson said, is that it "refuses to look at any teaching, law, practice or even attitude of the church itself as in any way contributing" to the crisis.

"In studying abuse, we must be free to follow the argument wherever it leads rather than impose in advance the limitation that our study must not demand change in any teaching or law," he continued. "We must admit that there might be elements of the 'Catholic culture' that have contributed either to the abuse or to the poor response to abuse.'"

Peppering his talk with personal stories of bishops and priests, Robinson spoke of 12 areas of Catholic culture he said deserved "serious consideration" for their role in contributing to the abuse crisis, including our understanding of God as a being who is frequently angry and a hierarchy that is prone to a "culture of obsessive secrecy."
Read more


12 elements in Church Culture that contribute to clerical abuse

Video: 12 steps for reform


The Vatican is a cold house for liberal Catholics
Fr Kevin Hegartyr       Mar.29, 2012

It has been ironically said that the three greatest lies in human history are "the cheque is in the post", "of course I'll still love you in the morning", and "we're from head office, we are here to help you".

So the Irish Catholic hierarchy must have felt some trepidation akin to that felt by teachers when a whole-school evaluation is in the offing, after Pope Benedict announced in March 2010 that he was sending apostolic visitors to Ireland to examine church institutions.
 . . . .
In the leisurely manner that prevails in the Vatican it took a year for a team of apostolic visitors to be assembled and come to Ireland. They spent several weeks here last year, visiting church institutions and talking to individuals and groups.

Last Tuesday their report was published. Well, not really. It is disappointing that all we got is a seven-page summary. 
. . . .
The visitors proposals for reform in the Irish church are couched in conservative terms, a return to the spiritual and theological cartography of the past. This is not surprising. Pope Benedict has a jaundiced view of the insights of the Second Vatican Council which pronounced an open and dialogical church. The visitors were chosen on the basis of orthodoxy rather than imagination.
. . . .
Liberal Catholics, like myself, hope for a church that opens the priesthood to married men and women, that revises the position of contraception in "Humanae Vitae" and that reverses the harsh insensitivity of its teaching on homosexuality. Many of us have come to our views as a result of honest and honourable reflection. The Vatican is a "cold house" for us but we do expect respect for our freedom of conscience. 

Sometimes it seems to me that the Vatican's vision of an ideal Catholic community is an assembly of Rick Santorum lookalikes. 
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Beware of hoodies


Cardinal permits man in homosexual partnership to serve on parish council
 Apr.2, 2012

Overruling one of his parish priests, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna has permitted a homosexual in a registered domestic partnership to serve on a parish council.

Father Gerhard Swierzek, the parish priest of a small parish in the archdiocese, had refused to allow Florian Stangl, 26, to serve on the council. Stangl, who is disabled, had obtained 96 out of 142 votes in a recent parish council election.
. . . .
Cardinal Schönborn said that he had initially intended to uphold the priest's decision--but then, he said, "I ask myself in these situations: How did Jesus act? He first saw the human being."
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Vatican Wants To Revive Church's Role In Fighting The Mafia
Alessandro Speciale      Mar.31, 2012

Vatican officials traveled this week to the island of Sicily, the heartland of the Mafia, to promote the church's role in fighting organized crime.

The Vatican says it wants to show that the best way to respond to the Mafia is through the promotion of a "culture of dialogue and legality."

The "Courtyard of the Gentiles," a Vatican-sponsored initiative aimed at bridging the gap between Christian and secular culture, organized the two-day event in Palermo, Sicily's main town.
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Accused priest to appeal verdict on breached seal of confession
 Annysa Johnson     Apr.2, 2012

A Waukesha County Catholic priest ordered to spend the next year in prayer and penance for indirectly violating the seal of confession, is appealing his verdict to the Vatican, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has confirmed.

Father David Verhasselt of St. Catherine's Catholic Church in Mapleton notified the archdiocese that he would be seeking a due-process review by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, a step known as an administrative recourse, said Father Paul Hartmann, judicial vicar for the archdiocese.

Verhasselt has been on leave since April 2010 while Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki considered the allegation against him. Listecki notified parishioners of Verhasselt's guilty verdict in March.                 URL
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1.  List of sites on Churches and Religions
Updated April 3, 2012. With two new additions: "Doctrina fidei," with all of the documents of the congregation for the doctrine of the faith, and the CCEO, the code of canons of the Eastern Churches
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2.  Newspapers, radio, and TV from all over the world 
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Notification of Upcoming Safeguarding Review For The Irish Spiritan Province

The Spiritan Congregation in Ireland has requested to be audited. The present Provincial Leadership Team, supported by the recent Provincial Chapter, believe that only a public audit of the reality of abuse committed by Spiritans can free the Congregation to carry out its mission of service among God's people here in Ireland and overseas. That mission, today, includes the Congregation's outreach to those who were abused.

This notice is to inform Spiritan membership, their co-workers, their associates, their pastoral and educational institutes, their development and community works and the public at large that an audit will be carried out in early May 2012.  . . . .

Should you need any further information in regard to the audit or wish to make comment either to the Spiritans or to the NBSCCCI in respect of it you may contact:

Child Protection Policy Document Available By Clicking Here
Brendan Carr C.S.Sp.,
Delegate for Safeguarding Children.
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Pope Benedict XVI to cut back on foreign trips
Nick Squires      Apr.8, 2012

I think he won't travel that much anymore, because it's more and more of an effort," Rev Georg Ratzinger said of Pope Benedict XVI, who has looked frail in recent weeks.

Rev Ratzinger, who is three years older than his brother, made the remarks during an interview with a Catholic news agency in Germany, KNA.

In a book published last week, he recalled how upset he was when his brother was made pope because he was afraid the role would impose too much mental and physical stress.
. . . .
The Pope, who succeeded John Paul II in 2005, has just one more foreign trip planned this year - to Lebanon in September, where he will celebrate Mass in Beirut. 
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Catholic Church in Holy Land plans switch to Orthodox calendar for Easter
Apr.4, 2012

The Catholic churches of the Holy Land plan to observe Easter according to the Orthodox calendar, the head of the Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land has announced. The change could come as early as next year.

Father Pierbattista Pizzabella explained that the change was prompted by a desire to strengthen ecumenical ties between Catholics and Orthodox, and also by pastoral concern for the many families in the Holy Land that include both Catholic and Orthodox believers.

The Orthodox churches set their liturgical feasts according to the old Julian calendar. For some years the Orthodox observe Easter on the same day as Catholics; in other years the dates may differ by either one week (as it does this year) or 5 weeks. The change in the liturgical calendar for Catholic churches would not apply to the basilicas in Jerusalem and Bethlehem, which draw thousands of Catholic pilgrims for Easter and Christmas every year. Those basilicas are governed by agreements that date back to the Ottoman empire, and include detailed accords on when feasts are to be celebrated.
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Too soon to tell
BooknReview by Hilmar Pabel      Apr.4 2012  
Vatican II: the battle for meaning
Massimo Faggioli
Paulist Press

I shall go beyond the reviewer's usual brief of assessment by beginning with a challenge. You have celebrated the holy Triduum of salvation. Now embark on a solemn triennium in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the renaissance of faith instigated by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65). 

Celebrate the anniversary of what Blessed John Paul II called "a great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century" (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 57) with a triple reading assignment, but not necessarily in the order that I give. Take three years if you need them. First, read the 16 documents of the council. If you have already read them, read them again, reflecting on the way in which they affect you today. Secondly, read a history of the ­council. I recommend the fascinating account, now in paperback, by John O'Malley: What Happened at Vatican II. Thirdly, read about the reception of the council or, in other words, the ongoing and disputed history of the council after it formally closed. This is what Massimo Faggioli calls "what happened after Vatican II". His book serves as a comprehensive and accessible guide through the complex debates about the meaning of the council that will whet your appetite for more. Use the bibliography to find what else you can read. 

The assignment that I recommend goes to the very heart of the underlying message of Faggioli's book: the council was an event in the Church's history of such epic proportions that it continues to reverberate in the lives of Catholics - whether they like it or not - and it consequently continues to spark controversy in how to interpret it. Faggioli is not a fastidiously impartial umpire as he delineates the battle lines. By calling the council an event, he recognises that it has a "before" and an "after". Thus he disagrees with the view that equates the council with the finality of its 16 documents or that aligns the council with continuity against its polar opposite, "rupture". Is it with deliberate irony that he describes as a "rupture" the "defection" of theologians from the journal Concilium, established to promote the renewal of theology begun by the council? Faggioli's sympathies clearly lie with Karl Rahner's notion of the council as "the beginning of the beginning" of theology's renewal. 
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Nanni Moretti's 'We Have a Pope' makes tough points with a gently comic style 
Elizabeth Weitzman    Apr.5, 2012

Although some critics have recently accused Italian filmmaker Nanni Moretti ("The Son's Room") of blunting his edge, "We Have a Pope" is a tougher movie than it appears to be. Moretti's blithely comic approach may soften his themes, but that actually increases their force. What appears to be an amusing tale of a leader who has lost his way is also an unapologetic challenge to faith itself.

We begin at the Vatican, where a conclave elects a successor to the recently deceased Pope. This great honor goes to the aged Cardinal Melville (Michel Piccoli) - who responds by panicking and running away. As church officials try to keep this strange state of affairs secret from the world, Melville wanders Rome anonymously and in desperation.

Moretti, who co-wrote, directs and plays Melville's psychiatrist, occasionally does go for the too-easy laugh. But meticulous staging and Piccoli's world-weary presence balance any silliness, making the issues here feel relevant and real. The method is not pointed political satire but gentle enlightenment.

Even as Moretti choreographs slapstick pratfalls and inter-Vatican volleyball tournaments, he's questioning precepts that are accepted by millions: infallibility, tradition and trust. Sometimes we make a bigger impact when we tread lightly.
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$30,000 Watch Vanishes Up Church Leader's Sleeve

Michael Schwirtz       Apr.5, 2012

Facing a scandal over photographs of its leader wearing an enormously expensive watch, the Russian Orthodox Church worked a little miracle: It made the offending timepiece disappear.

Editors doctored a photograph on the church's Web site of the leader, Patriarch Kirill I, extending a black sleeve where there once appeared to be a Breguet timepiece worth at least $30,000. The church might have gotten away with the ruse if it had not failed to also erase the watch's reflection, which appeared in the photo on the highly glossed table where the patriarch was seated.

The church apologized for the deception on Thursday and restored the original photo to the site, but not before Patriarch Kirill weighed in, insisting in an interview with a Russian journalist that he had never worn the watch, and that any photos showing him wearing it must have been doctored to put the watch on his wrist.
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New Translation of the Roman Missal 

Return of the Bees to the Exultet

This is the night of which it is written:
The night shall be as bright as day, dazzling is the night for me,  
and full of gladness. 
The sanctifying power of this night dispels all wickedness, 
washes faults away, restores innocence to the fallen, and joy to mourners, 
drives out hatred, fosters concord, and brings down the mighty. 
On this, your night of grace, O holy Father, 
accept this candle, a solemn offering, 
the work of bees
 and of your servants' hands, 
an evening sacrifice of praise, this gift from your most holy Church. 

But now we know the praises of this pillar, 
which glowing fire ignites for God's honour, 
a fire into many flames divided, 
yet never
 dimmed by sharing of its light, 
for it is fed by melting wax, 
drawn out by mother bees
 to build a torch so precious.

Sacrosanctum Concilium No.14: In the restoration and promotion of the sacred liturgy the full and active participation by all the people is the aim to be considered before all else, for it is the primary and indispensable source from which the faithful are to derive the true Christian spirit. 

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 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.  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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