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ARCC News 06 May 2012

Interview with Bishop Geoff Robinson 
Ingrid Shafer, ARCC Past Vice President

I recorded my conversation with Bishop Geoff Robinson in March, the evening before he was to leave for the East Coast. Particularly, given current developments, I am convinced that he needs to be heard much more widely than by those who had a chance to attend his lectures. 

Dare I hope that this gentle man's courage, his choice to place loyalty to God and God's People before a loyalty oath to the pope, might inspire other bishops to speak out? After all, the loyalty oath is designed to stifle all public criticism of the pope and assure that the Catholic Church remain an absolute monarchy, trapped in what Bishop Geoff calls "the prison of the past." 

The magisterium may have "thrown away the key," but we who love the church as it can be, do, in fact hold that key.The video is available in a four separate parts version (ca. 10 minutes each) and a full version (ca. 40 minutes). Depending on your system, you may prefer the smaller files.

Here are the links:
Part I Part II Part III Part IV Full version



Bishop Robinson Interview Parts I, II, III, IV.wmv

Bishop Robinson Interview 


Some things we have been reading 

We Are All Nuns
Nicholas D. Kristof Apr.29, 2012

Catholic nuns are not the prissy traditionalists of caricature. No, nuns rock!

They were the first feminists, earning Ph.D.'s or working as surgeons long before it was fashionable for women to hold jobs.

As managers of hospitals, schools and complex bureaucracies, they were the first female C.E.O.'s.

They are also among the bravest, toughest and most admirable people in the world. In my travels, I've seen heroic nuns defy warlords, pimps and bandits.

Even as bishops have disgraced the church by covering up the rape of children, nuns have redeemed it with their humble work on behalf of the neediest.

So, Pope Benedict, all I can say is: You are crazy to mess with nuns.
. . . . 
If you look at who has more closely emulated Jesus's life, Pope Benedict or your average nun, it's the nun hands down. 
. . . .
At least four petition drives are under way to support the nuns. One on has gathered 15,000 signatures. The headline for this column comes from an essay by Mary E. Hunt, a Catholic theologian who is developing a proposal for Catholics to redirect some contributions from local parishes to nuns. 
. . . .
Nuns have triumphed over an errant hierarchy before. In the 19th century, the Catholic Church excommunicated an Australian nun named Mary MacKillop after her order exposed a pedophile priest. Sister Mary was eventually invited back to the church and became renowned for her work with the poor. In 2010, Pope Benedict canonized as Australia's first saint.
"Let us be guided" by Sister Mary's teachings, the pope declared then.

Amen to that.
Read more

The current inquisition and the North American nuns
Sr. Ivone Gebara Apr.26, 2012

. . . . What attitude should we take towards this anachronism and symbolic violence from the curial and administrative organs of the Roman Catholic Church? What to make of its rigid philosophical framework that associates the best of the human being with what is masculine? What to say about their unilateral and misogynist anthropological vision from which they interpret Jesus' tradition?

What to make of this punitive administrative treatment based on which an archbishop is appointed to review, guide and approve the decisions of the Conference of Women Religious as if we were incapable of discernment and lucidity? Might we perhaps be a capitalist multinational corporation where our "products" should abide by the dictates of a single production line? And to maintain it, should we be controlled like robots by those who consider themselves the owners and guardians of the institution? Where is the freedom, the charity, the historical creativity, the sisterly and brotherly love?

At the same time as indignation, we are invaded by a sense of loyalty to our dignity as women, and the Gospel proclaimed to the poor and marginalized invites us to react to this repugnant act of injustice.

It's not new for the bishops and church officials to use a double standard. On the one hand, the upper echelons of the Catholic Church have been able to welcome again into their midst far-right groups whose harmful history, especially towards youth and children, is widely known. I'm thinking especially of the Legionaries of Christ, of Marcial Maciel (Mexico), and the male religious of Monsignor Lefebvre (Switzerland) whose disobedience to the pope and coercive methods to win disciples are attested to by many.

This same institutional church welcomes and receives men who interest it because of their power and repudiates women whom it wants to keep submissive. With its attitude, it exposes them to ridiculous criticism spread even by Catholic media acting in bad faith. The prelates seem to formally acknowledge that these women have a certain merit when their actions are focused on those tasks traditionally performed by nuns in schools and hospitals. But is that all we are?
. . . .
Plagiarizing Jesus in his Gospel I dare to say, "I feel pity for these men" who do not know about the contradictions and beautiful things of life, who do not allow their hearts to vibrate openly with the joys and sufferings of the people, who do not love the present, preferring the strict law to the fiesta of life. They have only learned the inflexible rules of a doctrine locked in an already obsolete rationale and they judge the faith of others, especially women, on its basis.
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Mobilize: Support our Catholic sisters
Dennis Coday Apr.24, 2012

Sisters Under Scrutiny is a new NCR blog that aims to be your one stop site gathering the latest news, actions and reactions arising from the Vatican ordered reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the umbrella organization for 80 percent of American Catholic sisters.


Also visit the Support our Catholic sisters Facebook page. We hope this page will become a space sisters can turn to for inspiration and that the sisters' supporters can use to organize that support.
Read more



"Support The Sisters" Petition

Nun Justice





Sampling of Additional Commentary on the LCWR Situation

Thank You, Sisters

Thank You, Sisters



'Loose canon' on annulments may get tighter
John Allen Jr May 1, 2012

A Rome conference in late April hinted that the Vatican may be moving towards a more restrictive posture on annulments, the procedure in church law for declaring a marriage null and void, which some critics refer to as "Catholic divorce."

If so, the fallout could have special significance for the United States, home to just 6 percent of the world's Catholic population but accounting for roughly two-thirds of the 60,000 annulments issued by church courts each year.

The April 26-27 Rome conference focused on canon 1095 of the Code of Canon Law, which allows a marriage to be declared null if one of the parties lacked the ability to consent because of "causes of a psychic nature." Of the 15 to 20 possible grounds for an annulment in church law, more are granted on the basis of canon 1095 than all others combined, roughly two-thirds of the total.

As a result, some wags have dubbed canon 1095 the "loose canon."
. . . .
If the conference sponsored by Rome's Opus Dei-run University of the Holy Cross is any indication, that loose canon may be about to become a little tighter.
. . . .
To be sure, the number of annulments being granted each year in the United States is in decline. From peak of almost 64,000 in 1991, the number fell to 35,000 in 2007. Yet observers say that drop-ff isn't so much because courts in America became stricter, but rather because fewer Catholics are applying for an annulment.
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Fr D'Arcy fifth priest censured by Vatican
Patsy McGarry Apr.27, 2012

One of Ireland's best known priests Fr Brian D'Arcy has been censured by the Vatican over four articles he wrote for the Sunday World newspaper in 2010.

Fr D'Arcy is the fifth Irish Catholic priest known to have been censured by the Vatican recently. The others are Redemptorist priests Fr Tony Flannery and Fr Gerard Moloney, Marist priest Fr Sean Fagan and Capuchin priest Fr Owen O'Sullivan.

The four articles by Fr D'Arcy concerned how the Vatican dealt with the issue of women priests; why US Catholics were leaving the church; why the church must take responsibility for clerical child sex abuse; and homosexuality.
. . . .
Now, in instances where he addresses matters of faith and morals in his writings or broadcasts, he must first submit these to a third party for clearance.
. . . .
Writing in the Sunday World last week, Fr D'Arcy said there were those in the church who believed that "priests like me, for example, should have 'the party whip withdrawn from them' as one prominent Catholic woman so smugly put it on a radio programme recently.

"Sadly in our church now, it has become impossible to be open and honest about what good people are convinced of. It's as if merely stating unpalatable facts is in itself disloyal. For years I've tried to point out the perils of the growing disconnect between church leaders and the ordinary people."
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Fr Brian D'Arcy: Vatican must take some blame for abuse
Irish Independent April 28, 2012

Journalist and broadcaster Fr Brian D'Arcy, who has been living under Vatican censure for the past 14 months, said today that Rome must take some of the blame for the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests.
In an emotional interview on RTÉ's Marian Finucane Show this morning, sixty-seven-year-old Fr D'Arcy said that if there is secrecy, and no questioning mind within the Catholic Church, then no child will be protected.

Fr D'Arcy also denied ever questioning the defined doctrine of the Church.
. . . .
He also said that if he had to stop writing about issues such as the sexual abuse of children or homosexuality, he would have to leave the priesthood.
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Protesters speak out in 'anger' at silencing of priests by Vatican
Edel O'Connell Apr.30, 2012

A group of Catholic nuns, priests and lay people wore gags yesterday as they demonstrated outside the office of the Pope's envoy to Ireland to protest at the Vatican's silencing of several dissident priests.
. . . .
The protesters chose to hold their protest outside the Papal Nuncio, Monsignor Charles Brown's residency on the Navan Road in Dublin, as the 52-year-old has worked at the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith since 1994.

More than 200 people joined the demonstration, despite inclement weather conditions.
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"Silencing" our way out of trouble: Shutting down reform by shutting up an Irish priest and American sisters
Bryan Cones Apr.26,, 2012

It's deja vu all over again: About 150 years ago the Vatican's first response to the "modern world" of democratic reform and theological renewal was to silence and shame any Catholic who spoke positively about either. So we got the Syllabus of Errors in its various incarnations and the condemnation of "modernism" and anyone who espoused modern approaches to scriptural interpretation or the "new theology" of the early and mid 20th century. Big names there: Congar, DeLubac, Jungmann, Murray--all ordered to silence on this topic or that.

Until, of course, the Second Vatican Council undid all that nonsense and brought the church--at least theologically--into the late 19th century (still 100 years behind the rest of the world). All those silenced became heroes, the bright lights of the renewal.

Now here we are at the beginning of the 21st, and once again the Vatican (and presumably the pope) is choosing the former path: condemnation and silencing, first of American women religious, and now of the Redemptorist leader of the Irish Association of Catholic Priests, Father Tony Flannery. His crime? Raising questions and organizing pastors around issues of concern, including the church's sexual teaching and the new English translations of the Mass, and lining up with victims of abuse in the ravaged Irish church.
. . . .
It is a strange time to be a Catholic. One wonders where on earth or in the church the Holy Spirit is stirring the air. It took 100 years for the Vatican to get up to speed at Vatican II--and the Roman Curia at least has been resisting ever since. Unfortunately, I'm not sure we have another 100 years to waste.
Read more



Vatican loud on liberals but silent on abuse
Fintan O'Toole May 1, 2012

There's a column I would have written a few years ago, but can't be bothered to write now. It was a reliable old standby about the latest abuse of power by the institutional Catholic Church. It would be fuelled by anger and by expectation - rage at the hierarchy's latest folly but an implicit hope that the innate decency of Irish Catholicism would some day be allowed to blossom.
. . . .
I thought about writing one of those columns in response to the Vatican's censuring of five priests - Brian D'Arcy, Tony Flannery, Gerard Moloney, Seán Fagan and Owen O'Sullivan - simply for saying what most Catholics actually think about celibacy, women priests and homosexuality. But I couldn't find either anger or hope.

All that's left is a double dose of sadness - for a generation of idealists; for a society in need of moral leadership that is being given just one more, all too familiar dose of the most abject cynicism.
. . . .
It's desperately sad that what should have been a noble story in Irish life should end so cruelly. But there's also a sadness for Ireland itself. Our society hardly needs yet more hypocrisy, another layer of self-serving cynicism. The institutional church disgraced itself by systematically covering up child abuse. It is almost beyond belief that its final conclusion from that trauma - the real outcome of all those apologies and visitations - is that the true problem is some mildly liberal articles in Reality or the Sunday World.

This is the institution that told us that it was unable to control child rapists in its ranks because it couldn't just issue orders. Remember Cardinal Cahal Daly writing to the parents of a victim of the hideous abuser Brendan Smyth: "There have been complaints about this priest before, and once I had to speak to the superior about him. It would seem that there has been no improvement. I shall speak with the superior again." Remember the stuff about how bishops were lords in their own dioceses and religious orders were their own kingdoms?
. . . .
When priests were raping children, the institutional hierarchy was wringing its hands and pleading "what can we do?" The Vatican was very busy and very far away. But when a priest makes some mild suggestions that women might be entitled to equality, the church is suddenly an efficient police state that can whip that priest into line. The Vatican, which apparently couldn't read any of the published material pointing to horrific abuse in church-run institutions, can pore over the Sunday World with a magnifying glass, looking for the minutest speck of heresy.

An institution so stupid that it thinks its Irish faithful is more scandalised by Brian D'Arcy than by Brendan Smyth is not worth anyone's anger. It is doing a far better job of destroying itself than its worst enemies could dream of.
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Calls Grow For Cardinal In Ireland To Resign
Douglas Dalby May 3, 2012

Pressure is building on the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, to resign in the wake of damaging accusations made against him in a BBC television documentary about his role in a secret inquiry into clerical sexual abuse.

Abuse survivors, senior government ministers, serving priests, canon lawyers, newspaper editorials, police officials, human rights groups and the head of the country's biggest children's charity were among those calling on the cardinal to step down Thursday over his failure 37 years ago to report damning evidence against the Rev. Brendan Smyth. That failure allowed Father Smyth to continue abusing children for at least 13 more years.

Father Smyth, who died in prison at age 70, was convicted in the 1990s and admitted to molesting and raping about 100 children in Ireland and the United States.

Speaking in Parliament, Deputy Prime Minister Eamon Gilmore on Thursday described the disclosures in the BBC program as "another horrific episode of failure by senior members of the Catholic Church to protect children" and said the cardinal should resign for failing to report the accusations.
Read more



Cardinal Brady: Political leaders and Vatican at odds
Robert Piggott May 4, 2012

Senior politicians have intensified pressure on the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady, to resign over a paedophile priest scandal in the 1970s.

But the Vatican - where the key decisions on his future will be made - has its own reasons for wanting him to stay.

Meanwhile, the row could overshadow the Church's International Eucharistic Congress, due to take part in Ireland next month.

Three out of the four main parties in the Republic of Ireland and the Northern Irish Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness have called on Cardinal Brady to consider his position.
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Martin wants commission set up into Smyth cases
Patsy McGarry May 6, 2012

An independent commission of investigation ought to be set up to inquire into the abuse of children by Fr Brendan Smyth, the Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin has said. This was necessary as "the Brendan Smyth story is of such a dimension," he said earlier today.
Where Cardinal Brady was concerned he said "I've never called for anybody's resignation, I've never done that. Everybody has to make their own decisions."

Asked about the censuring of Irish priests by the Vatican he believed the best way to deal with such cases was to address them first in Ireland. "I think the Theological Commission of the Irish bishops has not been carrying out its function as in other countries where this dialogue would take place as a first stage and then be resolved without it necessarily being dealt with from Rome directly," he said. He "would have preferred that these matters be dealt with in a a robust dialogue within the Irish church."
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Priest risked church career to expose paedophile but concerns dismissed
Patsy McGarry May 4, 2012

From the late 1960s he tried to have child abuse by Fr Brendan Smyth addressed through direct contact with two papal nuncios, one bishop, an abbot-general and two abbots. He might as well have stayed as silent as Fr Brady.

Fr Mulvihill joined the Norbertine congregation, of which Fr Brendan Smyth was a member, in 1963. From 1968 onwards he tried to have something done about his colleague.
. . . .
In a statement to gardaí of June 1995, Fr Mulvihill recalled his attempts to raise his concerns about Fr Smyth with papal nuncio Alibrandi and Bishop McKiernan at a 1974 function in Kilnacrott. Archbishop Alibrandi "was not interested". Bishop McKiernan "showed no interest".
. . . .
Fr Mulvihill left the priesthood in frustration. He went to Germany, where he died in a car crash in October 2004. He was 59.

It is estimated that, between 1945 and 1989, Fr Brendan Smyth sexually abused and indecently assaulted 117 children in Ireland. The number of victims in the US and other countries is unknown.
Read more



5 Catholic Priests Out After Child Sex Abuse Investigation
Karen Araia & Maryclaire Dale May 4, 2012

Five Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse will not be able to return to their jobs. They were deemed unsuitable for ministry.

The five are among 26 priests investigated for abuse in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.

Archbishop Charles Chaput announced today that decisions on eight priests had been made, one priest has died since the investigation began, three priest were found "suitable for ministry" and that decisions on 17 more cases are in different stages of investigation but that more decisions would be announced in the coming weeks.

The five priests found "unsuitable" to return to ministry are:

  • Reverend Robert Povish
  • Reverend John Reardon
  • Reverend Thomas Rooney
  • Reverend Monsignor Francis Feret
  • Reverend George Cadwallader

The three priests found "suitable" to return to ministry are:

  • Reverend Philip Barr
  • Reverend Michael Chapman
  • Monsignor Michael Flood

Read more



Pope asks US bishops to keep to the Vatican script
AFP May 5, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI asked bishops Saturday to ensure that religious teachings are authorised by the Catholic Church, in a bid to keep US Catholics in line with the Vatican.

The appeal comes after the Vatican last month upbraided a US association of Catholic clergy women for its feminist and liberal stances on contraception, homosexuality and female priests.

"Such discord harms the Church's witness and, as experience has shown, can easily be exploited to compromise her authority and her freedom," the pope said in a speech.

He referred to an article of Catholic rules that specifies clergy must receive approval from the Vatican for the contents of their teachings.
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Bishop Morlino warns dissenters to stop - or else
Doug Erickson Apr.29, 2012

Madison Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino has moved to quell a backlash against a group of conservative priests in Platteville by warning parishioners they risk formal church censure unless they stop spreading "rumors and gossip."

The action by Morlino, which two Catholic scholars called highly unusual, appears to include the possibility of offenders being prohibited from taking part in church sacraments such as communion, confession and burial.

The warning came in a five-page letter Wednesday from Morlino to St. Mary's Catholic Church in Platteville. The congregation has been roiled by opposition to the traditionalist priests, who began serving the parish in June 2010.
. . . .
The letter, in which Morlino raises the prospect of invoking the church's Code of Canon Law against dissenters, has stunned many parishioners.
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Wisconsin bishop has made a career as an orthodoxy enforcer
Eugene Cullen Kennedy May 3, 2012

Madison Wisconsin's Bishop Robert Morlino, displays, among other items on his coat of arms, a golden turret that, according to the designers of his heraldry, symbolizes a place "in which to take refuge on the journey, to reset ..."
It may be time for the good bishop, after months of contentious interactions with his people, to move, if not to a golden turret of refuge -- the kind many bishops are said to prefer -- then at least to a neutral corner in which to reset his relationships with his people.
. . . .
He started in Kalamazoo, Mich., where priests who knew him tell me that he had long ago stamped himself for ecclesiastical greatness. He was always devising or imagining some unorthodox scenario that he could report to Rome. One such incident centered on a pastor who told extraordinary ministers of the Eucharist where, in case of emergency, he kept the key to the tabernacle.

He took pictures of the tabernacle and the place in which the pastor hid the key and sent them off to Rome with a critique of this allegedly unorthodox behavior. He was ultimately rewarded by being made bishop of Helena, Mont., and, more recently, promoted to Madison, Wis., working his way eastward with what dreams of soon-to-be vacant archdioceses such as Chicago one can readily imagine.
. . . .
He dismissed Mary Kolpack, a pastoral associate in Beloit, Wis., for what he claimed was the unorthodox theme of her 2003 scholarly thesis in which she supported women's rights in the church. In a 10 minute interview, he told her that he had read "bits and pieces" of her master's degree paper, that her teachings about Jesus were "off base," and demanded an oath of loyalty from her and that she denounce her scholarly paper.
. . . .
There have been other similar incidents in which, even at such poorly timed moments as just before her father's funeral, he insisted that a grieving daughter could not speak at the service.
. . . .
His "vision" has been one of a steady journey upwards to ever more gleaming turrets of gold. His vision may have dispirited many members of his flock but it certainly has not disappointed him.
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Association of U.S. Catholic Priests AssemblyAlleluia
The National Association of U.S. Catholic Priests is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Vatican II with its inaugural assembly from Monday, June 11 through Thursday, June 14, 2012 to be held at St. Leo University, located near Tampa, FL. The assembly's theme is "Keeping Alive the Vision and Passion of Vatican II" with specific focus on the Council's first declaration, The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy from November 1963.

Our two plenary speakers are Fr. Anthony Ruff, OSB, monk and liturgical theologian from St. John Abbey in Collegeville, MN and Mr. Richard Gaillardetz, Professor at Boston College.

Mr. RICHARD GAILLARDETZ will speak on "The Historical Impact of Vatican II on the American Church and Priesthood".

Fr. ANTHONY RUFF, OSB, will address: The New Roman Missal: What is the Problem, and What Can We Do About It? This talk will explore the many issues raised by the new missal, both the translation itself and the process by which it was produced. What does all this say about ecclesiology (centralism and collaboration), consultation of scholars, inculturation, inclusivity, and ecumenism? As a response, what can we do to serve the Church now and going forward? Fr. Ruff will also lead a break-out session on: Continuing the Conversation. As a former collaborator with ICEL and an insider to the translation process, Fr. Anthony will dialog with participants about what this translation is all about.

Fr. DON COZZENS will lead a break-out session on: The Changing Face of the Priesthood-12 Years Later This breakout session will address critical issues facing today's priests-identity, integrity, intimacy and others-in light of the author's 2000 book, The Changing Face of the Priesthood.

Members of the original ST. LOUIS JESUITS will lead A 'guided meditation' through the early and later days following the Council and liturgical renewal; including some of the familiar songs along with stories and reflections on their work; and where things have gone.
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Are Catholic priests leading secret double lives?
Scott Alessi May 3, 2012

For those hoping the debate about priestly celibacy would die down, think again--An Australian priest is pouring gasoline on the fire by claiming that many priests around the world have already cast off their vows to remain celibate.

Father Kevin Lee, a priest in Sydney, Australia, came forward this week to admit that he's been secretly married for a full year, and that he hasn't done much to hide this fact from church leaders, who turned a blind eye to his actions. That is, of course, until he publicly admitted his secret marriage, which immediately led to his removal from ministry. So why come forward?

Lee, who is now writing a tell-all book about priestly celibacy, says he wanted to call attention to just how many priests aren't following that vow in hopes that the church will make a change to the requirement.

"That's one of the reasons that's motivated me to make public my admission that I'm one of those people who's been a pretender: To draw to the attention of the public that there are more like me, in fact most of them," he told an Australian TV news station.
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The Subversion of Vatican II
Brother Louis DeThomasis, FSC Apr.25, 2012

When anyone reviews the litany of recent church scandals, missteps, mistakes and public relation blunders, must that person -- the faithful, the not-so-faithful or the unfaithful -- not stop a moment and ask, "Is the Holy Spirit really guiding the church today?"

My answer is: Of course! Probably never before in the history of the church has there been greater de facto evidence of the grace-filled presence of the Holy Spirit. Go to almost any Catholic parish that is following the spirit of Vatican II and you will experience what I am talking about. But (and this is a big but) surely the amateurish solutions proffered by the institutional church in response to the current crises of confidence in the church on everything from the cover-ups of sexual abuse to the refusal to even allow a discussion of the ordination of women could lead anyone with a modicum of common sense to question the presence of the Holy Spirit in Rome or in most chancery offices today.
. . . .
What is so very strange and inconsistent is that the institutional church, which defends its role as protector of the faith and as conveyor of the truth, seems to be doing all that it can to negate the results of its own most recent ecumenical council, Vatican II.

Have they forgotten that Pope John XXIII -- as much the Vicar of Christ on Earth as Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI -- convened bishops from all over the world half a century ago to join with the bishop of Rome to exercise its teaching authority with the assurance that such collegiality is imbued with the presence of the Holy Spirit?
. . . .
Mean-spiritedness, hostility and acrimony flourish in a church that should be all about the peace and love that Jesus brought to our world. Certainly, all sides are to blame as we permit these differences to obfuscate the "Good News" of the faith.

Yet now, more than ever, those of us who believe in the vision of Vatican II cannot back down from speaking the truth as we see it. The institutional church needs to respond in a vitally new and more effective way to Vatican II that will allow the church to once more "teach as Jesus did."
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At 96, Blessed John XXIII's secretary tells tales of his famous boss
Francis . Rocca May 4, 2012

. . . . Today, at age 96, now-Archbishop (Loris F.) Capovilla has outlived his employer by nearly half a century, but remains an indefatigable custodian of his legacy. Here in Blessed John's birthplace, about 25 miles northeast of Milan, the archbishop pursues a highly active retirement that includes running a museum dedicated to the small town's most famous native son.

While keeping up with current events, Archbishop Capovilla draws on his remarkable memory to recount vividly detailed and revealing stories of his years with one of the most consequential figures in modern Catholic history.

The archbishop was privy to some of the pope's first remarks, only a few days after his election in 1958, about what would become the Second Vatican Council.
. . . .
"My desk is piling up with problems, questions, requests, hopes," Blessed John told his secretary. "What's really necessary is a council."

Though the pope mentioned the idea more than once, his secretary refused to comment. Finally the pope gave his interpretation of the priest's silence.

"You think I am old," Blessed John told him. "You think I'll make a mess out of this enormous task, that I don't have time. ... But that's not how you think with faith. ... If one can only begin with the preparatory commission, that will be of great merit. If one dies, another will come. It is a great honor even to begin."
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The Supreme Court's immigration hearing: Human dignity not up for debate
Archbishop Jose H. Gomez Apr.24, 2012

In a friend of the court brief submitted in the case, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops argues that the federal government is in the best position to balance competing goals of enforcing of immigration laws while upholding long-held American values such as family unity and human dignity. These values help define America as a nation. They should not be taken for granted.
. . . .
As a pastor, I am less inclined to speak to the legal principles involved in the case, but I am deeply concerned about the human consequences if Arizona's law is upheld.

First, it would create a society that treats foreign-born men and women not as contributors to our American life, but as threats.
. . . .
Second, upholding the Arizona law would accelerate a disturbing anti-family tendency that we find in our nation's current enforcement of immigration laws.
. . . .
Most disturbing, upholding Arizona's law would change our American identity as a welcoming nation, which has served us well since our inception.
. . . .
The Supreme Court decision in Arizona v. United States will mark a critical juncture in our nation's immigration history. We will either maintain the direction which has made us a great nation or embark on a darker course that weakens and divides us. Let's pray we choose the right path.
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Paul Ryan Cites Pope In Defense of Budget Plan
Abby Ohlheiser Apr.27, 2012

A group of American bishops may have criticized Rep. Paul Ryan's budget plan for going against Church doctrine on helping the poor, but the Wisconsin Republican says that their boss, the Pope, is in his corner.
. . . .
Ryan noted that he himself is a Catholic, and explained that his "own personal thinking on these issues has been guided by my understanding of the church's social teaching," adding, "simply put, I don't believe the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government."

As the Washington Post notes, the The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that 62 percent of Ryan's proposed budget cuts (which total $5.3 trillion) come from programs serving low-income Americans.
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Hardball with Chris Matthews - Catholics protest Ryan's budget, say fails basic moral test
MSNBC Apr.26, 2012

James E. Salt, Executive Director of Catholics United, and Sister Simone Campbell, Executive Director of NETWORK, join Hardball to discuss the Catholic Church's opposition to Rep. Paul Ryan's proposed budget.



Thomas Reese, SJ on 'The Colbert Report' on US Budget
Comedy Central May 1, 2012

Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, of Woodstock Theological Center of Georgetown University discusses Barack Obama's and the Catholic Church's war on Paul Ryan's deeply Christian Republican House budget.



Teacher who was fired after fertility treatments sues diocese
Leigh Remizowski Apr.26, 2012

A teacher at a Catholic school in Indiana is suing the diocese where she worked after being fired because the in vitro fertilization treatments she received were considered against church teachings.

Emily Herx, a former English teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, filed a federal lawsuit against the school and the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend.
. . . .
Herx says the school's priest called her a "grave, immoral sinner" and told her she should have kept mum about her fertility treatments because some things are "better left between the individual and God," the complaint said.
. . . .
Herx and her lawyer, Kathleen DeLaney, say that since Herx taught only English, she should be exempt from the so-called ministerial exception.
. . . .
"The doctrine exists in order to protect the religious institution's right to protect their message," said Richard Garnett, a law professor at the University of Notre Dame.

But Gregory Lipper, senior litigation counsel at Americans United for Separation of Church and State, disagreed, saying that deeming an English teacher "a minister" in a religious school constitutes "Exhibit A of what goes wrong if the exception becomes too broad."

"If a teacher of purely secular subjects is considered a minister, then the implication of that is that everyone who works for a Catholic school would be considered a minister," he said. "It becomes an open license to discriminate."
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Fired Ohio teacher: Catholic schools discriminated
Lisa Cornwell Apr.30, 2012

At age 30 and single, Christa Dias wanted a baby and decided on artificial insemination. The results: a 14-month-old daughter she adores, a lost job and a federal discrimination lawsuit now moving forward that is being viewed as a barometer on the degree to which religious organizations can regulate employees' lives.

Dias charges that the Catholic Archdiocese of Cincinnati and two elementary schools where she taught violated state and federal anti-discrimination laws by firing her in October 2010 because she was pregnant.

The archdiocese says she was fired because artificial insemination is immoral and violates church doctrine and a contract requiring all employees to "comply with and act consistently in accordance with the stated philosophy and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church."
. . . .
Dias, who is not Catholic, says "nobody should control my right to have a child."

Employment law experts expect issues in the case to draw national attention.
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Pope donates quarter million dollars to ordinariate
Carol Glatz May 1, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI donated $250,000 to the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham to help support its clergy and work.

The gift "is a clear sign of (the pope's) personal commitment to the work of Christian unity and the special place the ordinariate holds in his heart," said Archbishop Antonio Mennini, the Vatican nuncio to Great Britain.
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Pope orders cardinals to investigate Vatican leaks
Philip Pullella Apr.26, 2012

Pope Benedict has set up a commission of cardinals to investigate the leaks of sensitive documents to the media alleging corruption and mismanagement in the Vatican.

The documents included private letters to the pope from an archbishop who was transferred to Washington after he blew the whistle on what he said was nepotism and cronyism in the awarding of contracts, and documents alleging internal conflicts about the Vatican bank.

The Vatican said the commission would be made up of three retired cardinals: Spaniard Julian Herranz, Jozef Tomko of Slovakia and Salvatore De Giorgi of Italy.
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Vatican imposes new controls on charity federation
John Allen Jr May 2, 2012

After moving last year to block the re-election of the first laywoman to head Caritas Internationalis, the Rome-based confederation of Catholic charitable agencies around the world, over an alleged "lack of coordination" with papal aides, the Vatican today imposed sweeping new rules that effectively tightens its control over Caritas' finances and global operations.

Among other points, the rules require the top officials of Caritas to make promises of loyalty before a Vatican official, including "Christian obedience" to church leaders.

Aside from its direct importance for Catholic charities, today's Vatican move is also interesting for the recently decreed overhaul of the Leadership Conference for Women Religious in the United States, the country's main umbrella group for superiors of women's orders.

Like LCWR, Caritas Internationalis is a juridical person under church law recognized by the Vatican. The new rules are thus a further indication that the Vatican is in earnest about tightening its grip over groups that enjoy official status and, in some sense, represent the church.

The rules came in the form of a "General Decree," released today in the name of Italian Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's Secretary of State.
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Even pope's friends a bit leery on Lefebvrites
John Allen, Jr May 4, 2012

Even in Roman circles most sympathetic to Pope Benedict XVI's overall reading of the Second Vatican Council, it would seem, there's a bit of anxiety percolating about what it might mean to bring the council's biggest critics, the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, back into the fold.

At the very least, some of the pope's defenders appear to believe a clear signal of adherence to Vatican II ought to be the price of admission.

Most recently, that impression surfaced during a May 3-4 conference on the 50th anniversary of Vatican II at Rome's Opus Dei-run University of the Holy Cross.
. . . .
The Santa Croce event suggests it's not just the usual suspects, meaning broad critics of the Vatican or of Benedict's papacy, who wonder about the price that could be paid to get the Lefebvrites back. It would also seem to include some of Benedict's friends.
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Church should not accept members who deny Vatican II, official says
Cindy Wooden May 5, 2012

The Second Vatican Council's teaching, particularly on Judaism and other religions, is rooted in traditional Christian theology and the Bible, and the Catholic Church should not offer concessions to those who do not accept its teaching, said an Israeli-born Franciscan who serves as a judge on a top Vatican court.

Msgr. David Jaeger, a judge at the Roman Rota, defined as worrying a tendency, "here and there in Catholicism, to look leniently upon stray groups that are marginal but well-publicized who denounce the doctrine of the council, including the declaration 'Nostra Aetate'" on the relationship of the church to non-Christian religions.
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Conservative Catholic group gripped by scandal
John Allen May 2, 2012

For a long time it was Opus Dei, and then, even before massive sex scandals exploded around their founder, it was the Legionaries of Christ. Today, at least in Italy, it now seems Communion and Liberation's turn to be the conservative Catholic group generating the most controversy, the sexiest news headlines, and the greatest volume of conspiracy theories.

That's likely a special source of heartburn for Pope Benedict XVI, for whom Communion and Liberation has always been his personal favorite among the new movements in the Catholic church.
. . . .
Robert Formigoni, the highest profile adherent of Communion and Liberation in Italian politics, now finds himself embroiled in a deepening corruption scandal. The longtime governor of the Lombardy region is at the centre of a judicial investigation into bribery for the awarding of public health contracts. He also faces charges of suspicious ties to a shady businessman now in jail on corruption charges, and of using public funds to pay for his private vacations.
. . . .
Another veteran member of Communion and Liberation, Antonio Simone, has already been arrested and charged with being part of a scheme to bilk as much as $74 million from a well-known Italian health institute.
. . . .
Riffing off those bombshells, an Italian paper recently did a write-up of all the various public officials and tycoons in Lombardy with ties to Communion and Liberation, under the provocative title, Comunione a Molto Poltrone, meaning "communion and lots of seats of power." Among other things, the article suggested that businesses with ties to Communion and Liberation control assets in excess of almost $100 billion, representing five percent of Italy's Gross Domestic Product.
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Vatican in talks over embassy
Mary Fitzgerald Apr.28, 2012

Diplomatic efforts are under way to seek agreement from the Vatican to allow the former Irish embassy to be used as a location for embassies to Italy and to the Holy See.

Minister for Foreign Affairs Eamon Gilmore said yesterday that the non-resident Ambassador, department secretary general David Cooney, was having discussions with Vatican officials to see if agreement could be reached about both missions cohabiting in the Villa Spada, which had been home to Ireland's embassy to the Holy See until recently.
. . . .
"One of the difficulties we had was the insistence by the Vatican that we had to have two separate ambassadors, two separate embassies, two separate buildings," Mr Gilmore told Morning Ireland. "In our present financial circumstances I didn't think that was sustainable."
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Austrian parish listens to priest, none receive the host
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt May 3, 2012

The parish church of Amras, Austria, near Innsbruck in Tyrol, was chock-a-block full for the first-Communion Mass on April 22. Shortly before Communion, the parish priest, Norbertine Fr. Patrick Busskamp, announced that only Catholics who were in a state of grace should come forward to Communion. Catholics who are divorced and remarried and Catholics who do not attend Mass every week were not worthy to receive the Eucharist, he said.

When Communion time came, not a single adult came forward. The entire congregation demonstratively remained seated. Only the children received Communion.

In an interview with Austrian state radio in Tyrol, Busskamp confirmed that his words to the congregation had been accurately reported, but added, "I wouldn't have refused anyone Communion had they come forward."

Abbot Raimund Schreier of the Premonstratensian Monastery of Wilten, to which the parish belongs, said he regretted what had happened. "It was most unwise of him to act like this at such a ceremony. I have told him that. Behaving like a policeman shows a lack of pastoral sensitivity," Schreier told the press.
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US al-Qaida official called Catholics 'fertile ground' for conversion
Michael Kelly May 3, 2012

A U.S. al-Qaida official concluded that Catholics were "fertile ground" for conversion, "particularly after the rage expanding against the mother church (Vatican) as a result of its scandals and policies refused by many of its public."

American al-Qaida spokesman Adam Gadahn wrote Osama bin Laden in January 2011 and laid out reasons for reaching out to Catholics, particularly the Irish. He urged bin Laden to use public anger at the church's mishandling of clerical abuse to encourage Irish people to convert to Islam, according to newly declassified documents.

The letter was contained in files allegedly found at bin Laden's Pakistan hideout after he was killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan, last May.
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Northern Ireland-born cleric blasts David Cameron for 'protecting rich colleagues'
Daniel Bentley Apr.30, 2012

One of Britain's most senior Roman Catholics has accused David Cameron of turning a blind eye to the poor while protecting his "very rich colleagues" in the City.

Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the head of the Catholic church in Scotland, said it was "immoral" how the less well-off had been made to "suffer" over the failings in the financial services sector.
. . . .
The Cardinal said he was not only concerned about people in "abject poverty" but also people who might have thought themselves "reasonably well-off".

"People who have saved for their pensions and now realise their pension funds are no more, people who are considering giving up their retirement homes that they have been saving for, poverty affecting young couples and so on and so on," he said.

"It is these people who have had to suffer because of the financial disasters of recent years and it is immoral.
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Vatican 'accepted one billion lire' to bury crime boss in basilica next to former popes
Michael Day Apr.30, 2012

The Vatican is facing a deepening controversy over the burial 22 years ago of a notorious crime boss, with reports emerging that the church accepted a one billion lire (£407,000) payment from the mobster's widow to allow his interment in a basilica.

A source at the Holy See told the Ansa news agency that "despite initial reluctance" the then vicar-general of Rome, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, "in the face of such a conspicuous sum, gave his blessing" to the controversial interment of Enrico De Pedis, the former boss of Rome's notorious Magliana gang.
. . . .
The claims, which the Vatican has not commented on, may explain how such a reviled criminal was buried in such a hallowed site. Last week, to deflect growing criticism and to help resolve a 30-year-old murder mystery, it emerged that Vatican officials had decided to move the remains of De Pedis from his special crypt.

Pressure mounted earlier this month when a prosecuting magistrate, Giancarlo Capaldo, claimed senior officials at the Vatican knew much more than they were letting on about the Magliana gang's links to the Holy See, and the gang's suspected kidnap and murder of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican official, in 1983.
. . . .
Some believe Emanuela's father had evidence linking the Vatican Bank, Istituto per le Opere di Religione, to organised crime, and that she was snatched to keep him silent. The theory is that De Pedis, who was shot dead in 1990, organised the kidnapping.

For the past two decades, there has been speculation that Emanuela's remains were put in the tomb alongside De Pedis.
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Mormonism leading way in U.S. religious growth
Peggy Fletcher Stack May 1, 2012

To many observers, it may be old news that the missionary-minded LDS Church is the nation's fastest-growing Christian group.

What may be surprising, though, is where the Utah-based faith is leading the way - Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Louisiana, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, North Dakota and other states far outside the West's traditional "Mormon corridor."
. . . .
Evangelical Protestants held steady and Catholics and mainline Protestants declined.
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21 killed in north Nigeria church service attacks
Associated Press Apr.30, 2012

Gunmen attacked worship services at a university campus and a church in northern Nigeria, killing at least 21 people in coordinated assaults that saw panicked Christians gunned down as they tried to flee, witnesses and officials said.

The deadlier attack targeted an old section of Bayero University's campus in the city of Kano where churches hold Sunday services, with gunmen killing at least 16 people and wounding at least 22 others, according to the Nigerian Red Cross.

A later attack in the northeast city of Maiduguri saw gunmen open fire at a Church of Christ in Nigeria chapel, killing five people, including a pastor preparing for Communion, witnesses said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility, but the attacks bore similarities to others carried by a radical Islamist sect known as Boko Haram.
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The President's New Secret Service Team URL



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



Pope to German bishops on "for you and for many"
Anthony Ruff, OSB Apr.25, 2012

In a lengthy letter to the bishops in Germany (German-language bishops in other countries are also to receive the letter), Pope Benedict has explained in some detail his reasons for insisting upon "for many" in the Eucharistic prayer. About a year ago, the German bishops informed the pope that there was division among German-speaking bishops on the question of "for many" vs. "for all." The danger was imminent that, even if the bishops' conference were to unite around the wording "for many," some regions would opt to keep "for all"in the forthcoming publication of the official hymnal Gotteslob ("Praise of God").
. . . .
The pope distinguishes between "substantial" and "literal" (inhaltlich and wörtlich) translation, which of course reminds English speakers of the distinction between "dynamic equivalence" and "formal equivalence." Forty or fifty years ago, this distinction was widely employed in translation studies. A possible problem with the pope's position is that the distinction has been abandoned by so many translation theorists in recent decades.
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Upcoming Events

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:
Questions: 510.835.0655

AUSCP's Inaugural Assembly: Vatican II Lives!
June 11 - 14, 2012
The National Association of U.S. Catholic Priests is celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the opening of Vatican II with its inaugural assembly "Keeping Alive the Vision and Passion of Vatican II" from Monday, June 11 through Thursday, June 14, 2012 to be held at St. Leo University, located near Tampa, FL



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