Main Menu  




How can you stay cozied in a Church
that excludes and relegates?
How can you stay?
And don't say, because of all the good works
when the good workers are the ones shunned.
The body of Christ shares its limbic brain
with all sorts of creatures,
but the mind of Christ is an essential organism.
We are part of a mutation of the moral imagination;
enlightenment happens in sparks so I stay to be fuel.

Frank Desiderio, C.S.P

Director, Paulist Center Boston

                                                                                     URL ( go to page 3)


Vatican criticizes U.S. theologian's book on sexual ethics

Jerry Filteau      Jun.4, 2012


The Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has sharply criticized Just Love, an award-winning book on sexual ethics by Mercy Sr. Margaret Farley, a prominent Catholic theologian at Yale University. In several areas, the Vatican Congregation said, the author's position "contradicts" or "is opposed to" or "does not conform to" church teaching, in a statement released Monday morning.

. . . .

Made public Monday but dated March 30, the Notification was approved by Pope Benedict XVI and signed by U.S. Cardinal William J. Levada, prefect of the congregation, and Archbishop Luis F. Ladaria, its secretary.

Read more


NCR coverage of the Vatican's criticism of Margaret Farley's 'Just Love'

Full reactions from the Vatican, Farley, McDermott, and other theologians:


Jewish-Christian Dialogue: The Nuns Versus the Bishops

Wes Howard-Brook      Jun.5, 2012


Much has been written about the ongoing assault by the male Catholic hierarchy on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, as well as individual women religious whose writings have been deemed "erroneous." Non-Catholics might be inclined to dismiss this as merely an internal church issue. However, there are important implications for interfaith conversation between Jews and Christians that have not been as widely considered.

In its most stark terms, the women religious have largely embodied what I call the "religion of creation" while the bishops speak from within the "religion of empire."

. . . .

What is crucial to note for the purpose of Jewish-Christian conversation is that "the Catholic Church" is deeply divided between those who seek to maintain traditional power and authority and those who put the Gospel at the center of personal and communal discipleship. There can be little effective dialogue between Jews and "religion of empire" Catholics. However, "religion of creation" Catholics, such as the women religious and their supporters, share much in common with progressive Jews, as we do with many Muslims, socially engaged

Buddhists and Hindus.


Just as Jesus challenged not the "Jews" of his day but the upholders of the religion of empire, so Jews today might recognize that the problem isn't with "Catholics," but with those, like the bishops, whose loyalty is less to the Way of Jesus and more to defending their own, institutional authority. From Moses through the prophets - ancient and current - the Voice of YHWH empowers women and men to speak truth that topples entrenched power and reveals the joyous reign of the Creator God. May that one Spirit fill us all with strengthening courage to stand against domination in all its forms and in solidarity with one other.

Read more


Fissures in the religious liberty debate?

Jennifer Butler      May 29, 2012


In a move that escalated the political controversy about contraception and religious liberty, 44 Catholic bishops and colleges filed lawsuits last week challenging the requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control without a copayment.


But it's also notable that relatively few leaders participated - only  13 of America's 195 Catholic dioceses joined the suits. And in a move that was little noticed outside religious media, a prominent bishop expressed concern that the entire debate is being co-opted by right-wing groups bent on attacking President Obama.

. . . .

As Republican politicians accuse the president of waging war on religious freedom and extremist religious leaders compare the administration to totalitarian dictatorships, a warning against partisanship is welcome news. 

. . . 

This controversy isn't going away, and it's not just a Catholic issue. Some evangelical leaders have suggested that they will join the Catholic bishops' upcoming "fortnight for freedom" campaign to mobilize Christians nationwide to stand against alleged threats to religious liberty. 

Read more


The Bishops & Religious Liberty

Cathleen Kaveny      May 30, 2012


 "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty"reflects the bishops' deep ambivalence about whether they prefer the protection afforded a religious minority in the United States or whether they want to be an influential force in the moral mainstream. The first option will likely require them to accept some marginalization, while the second exposes them to uncomfortable pushback from opposing forces. Their statement suggests they want to have it both ways, but that outcome seems highly unlikely, at least within the American legal and political framework.


The bishops tend to frame their complaint in terms of religious liberty. Yet most religious-liberty cases involve minority religious groups seeking to be left alone to pursue holiness as they see fit, free from the baleful attention or coercion of the majority. They want to worship as they wishChurch of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah, 1993)or educate their children as they think faith requires (Wisconsin v. Yoder, 1972). Recognizing themselves as religious and moral minorities, most religious-liberty plaintiffs do not try to influence the broader community. Nor do they attempt to recast American society in their own image. 

. . . .

Finally, the most striking aspect of the bishops' claims about religious liberty is the absolute nature of their assertions (they don't really make arguments). They give the reader virtually no hint that such questions must be assessed in a framework of competing rights and duties, particularly the duty to promote the common good. This is ironic from a theological perspective. Vatican II's Declaration on Religious Freedom  recognizes that there are "due limits" on the exercise of religious freedom, including the need to promote a "just public order," and preserve the "equality of the citizens before the law." 

. . . .

The case that seems most on point with regard to the contraception mandate is United States v. Lee (1982). It was decided under the stricter test that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act still applies to federal regulations such as the mandate. In that instance, the Supreme Court held that it was constitutionally permissible for the federal government to force Amish employers to pay Social Security taxes for their employees, although both the payment and receipt of Social Security taxes violated their religious beliefs, and although the employees in question were Amish themselves. 

. . . .

When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes which are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption from Social Security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer's religious faith on the employees. 


It seems to me that this last point is decisive with respect to the contraception mandate. The vast majority of Americans do not believe that the use of contraception is intrinsically immoral. In fact, they think it is a morally appropriate way to fulfill their responsibilities to themselves and to their families. In this context, granting an exemption to Catholic institutions would effectively impose the Catholic employer's understanding of morality on the employee just as surely as granting a Social Security tax exemption to Amish employers would. 

Read more

See also  Kaveny's The Key Supreme Court Case for the Mandate: 'U.S. v. Lee'


The battle among Catholic bishops

E.J. Dionne Jr.      May 23, 2012


There is a healthy struggle brewing among the nation's Roman Catholic bishops. A previously silent group, upset over conservative colleagues defining the church's public posture and eagerly picking fights with President Obama, has had enough.

. . . .

Until now, bishops who believed that their leadership was aligning the institutional church too closely with the political right had voiced their doubts internally. While the more moderate and liberal bishops kept their qualms out of public view, conservative bishops have been outspoken in condemning the Obama administration and pushing a "Fortnight for Freedom" campaign aimed at highlighting "threats to religious freedom, both at home and abroad."  

. . . .

For too long, the Catholic Church's stance on public issues has been defined by the outspokenness of its most conservative bishops and the reticence of moderate and progressive prelates. Signs that this might finally be changing are encouraging for the church, and for American politics. 

Read more




LCWR Press Release

LCWR Board       Jun.1, 2012


The national board of the Leadership Conference of Women

Religious (LCWR) held a special meeting in Washington, DC from May 29-31 to review, and plan a response to, the report issued to LCWR by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


The board members raised concerns about both the content of the doctrinal assessment and the process by which it was prepared.  Board members concluded that the assessment was based on unsubstantiated accusations and the result of a flawed process that lacked transparency. Moreover, the sanctions imposed were disproportionate to the concerns raised and could compromise their ability to fulfill their mission. The report has furthermore caused scandal and pain throughout the church community, and created greater polarization.


The board determined that the conference will take the following steps:

  • On June 12 the LCWR president and executive director will return to Rome to meet with CDF prefect Cardinal William Levada and the apostolic delegate Archbishop Peter Sartain to raise and discuss the board's concerns.
  • Following the discussions in Rome, the conference will gather its members both in regional meetings and in its August assembly to determine its response to the CDF report.

The board recognizes this matter has deeply touched Catholics and non-Catholics throughout the world as evidenced by the thousands of messages of support as well as the dozens of prayer vigils held in numerous parts of the country. It believes that the matters of faith and justice that capture the hearts of Catholic sisters are clearly shared by many people around the world. As the church and society face tumultuous times, the board believes it is imperative that these matters be addressed by the entire church community in an atmosphere of openness, honesty, and integrity.


Contact: Sister Annmarie Sanders, IHM - LCWR Director of Communications - 301-588-4955 (office) - 301-672-3043(cell) - This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


June 1, 2012



Support the Sisters 

Want to take action to support the sisters? Visit the  Nun Justice site

Sisters Under Scrutiny

For ongoing coverage and updates, visit: Sisters Under Scrutiny on the National Catholic Reporter site


Visit the Support our Catholic Sisters Facebook page.  


Recent articles on the LCWR situation


Vatican Declares "Year of Assault"

John  C. Sivalon, M.M        May 27, 2012


Under the guise of a "Year of Faith," the Vatican has launched an all-out assault on any theology or interpretation of Vatican II based on what it calls a "Hermeneutic (Interpretation) of Rupture."  This theological assault is articulated in the document known as "Porta Fidei" written by Benedict XVI and further specified in a document titled "Note on Recommendations for the Implementation of the Year of Faith" which was developed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both of these documents are cited by Cardinal Levada in his statement on the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The rationale for that assessment and other punitive moves that have been made in recent months (Caritas International, educational institutes, and the Girl Scouts) must be understood in the broader context of this special "year of assault."


The real crux of the issue according to the "Note" is a "correct understanding"  of Vatican II over against "erroneous interpretations."  Benedict likes to refer to these interpretations as being based on a "hermeneutic of discontinuity" while referring to his own interpretation as being based on a "hermeneutic of renewal."  In truth, better labels for these respectively, are a "hermeneutic of mission" over against Benedict's "hermeneutic of retrenchment."
. . . . 

As modern Catholics celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, we have entered into a new chapter of church history.  The Council that was declared to open the windows is now being reinterpreted as closed shutters, protecting the Church from the gale force winds of a world searching for spiritual authenticity.  While said to be a time of renewal, the "Year of Faith" is really dedicated to the idolatry of doctrine, power and hierarchy.  The sisters in their communal service to the Church and world, who not only take a vow of poverty but actually live that vow without privilege, status or accumulation of wealth are a vivid and prophetic contrast to the inauthenticity of the call to retrenchment masquerading as renewal. 

Read more


Vatican's assessment of LCWR about fear, not doctrine

Sr. Fran Ferder       May 29, 2012


The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's April 18 doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is not about doctrine. It is not primarily about protecting the faith or ensuring an ecclesiology of communion, no matter how many times these terms are woven through the report. It is fundamentally about fear -- fear of the loss of power -- and the willful use of dominative control to defend that power.

. . . .

The final report of the LCWR assessment reveals a desperate attempt on the part of some fearful and angry church leaders to protect their turf -- to maintain an all-male church leadership, to keep women and laypeople under their authority, and to shield the homophobic-homosexual subculture in the leadership of the Catholic church.


The pattern of using coercive intimidation to control others in one's household is called domestic abuse.  . . . .  

Whether through hits or humiliations, broken bones or broken spirits, threats of bodily harm or warnings of impending excommunication, the goal of abusers is the same: Assert absolute control. Wear the person down until he or she gives in or gives up. Use punishment if he or she dares to claim his or her own authority.

The most dangerous time in a household where domestic abuse is present is right after the person being abused has stood up to the abuser. Have too many members of LCWR claimed their own authority? The classic domestic abuser seeks one thing above all else: obedience to dictates. It is not surprising that obedience is alluded to on every page of the final doctrinal assessment document.

. . . . 

What kinds of people abuse others? While there is no single profile of the domestic abuser, research has identified characteristics frequently seen among perpetrators of all types. Ironically, there is not much difference between those who use their fists and those who use words alone to demand obedience.

  • Abusers believe they are entitled to maintain power and control over those in their households (institutions).
  • They may believe they have an obligation to compel obedience for the benefit of the victim and the good of the household (church).
  • They do not identify their controlling and hurtful tactics as abusive and are insulted when others perceive them that way.
  • Perpetrators tend to perceive all interactions within relationships through a prism of compliance or disobedience.
  • Abusers tend to be insecure men who need to establish dominance to feel confident.

. . . . 

Some male abusers have been found to harbor a secret loathing of females, considering them inferior. Since such attitudes are certainly present in the history of the church (read St. Jerome), it is possible that its influence still inhabits, consciously or the unconsciously, the collective mind of church leaders.


The persistent desire of hierarchical leaders to keep women under their control and out of their sphere of leadership, especially women theologians, suggests that the "Jerome Syndrome" might still be operative.

Read more


Dolan: White House is "strangling" Catholic church

CBS News     May 22, 2012


The spat between Catholic leaders and the Obama administration over its contraception policies is heating up again, with one of the nation's most prominent Catholic leaders charging that the White House is "strangling" the church over the matter.


Timothy Cardinal Dolan told "CBS This Morning" Tuesday that the compromise reached earlier this year is not sufficient because the exemptions made for churches are too restrictive.

 . . . .

"We're like, wait a minute, when did the government get in the business of defining for us the extent of our ministry," Dolan said.

Read more


Cardinal Dolan Quiet on $20K Payments to Pedophile Priests

Colleen Curry      May 31, 2012


Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the archdiocese of New York is keeping quiet today after his old diocese, the archdiocese of Milwaukee, confirmed that under his leadership the church paid individual sums of $20,000 to priests accused of molesting children.

. . . .

The archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed to the Associated Press Wednesday that the church paid the priests money to voluntarily sign papers to leave the priesthood because it was cheaper and faster than removing them by other administrative routes, which would have included going through the Vatican.

Read more


Dolan Rips 'Groundless' Claims That He Authorized Payments to Abusive Priests

Brigid Bergin       Jun.3, 2012


Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of New York, said on Sunday that reports he approved payments to priests facing sex abuse charges while he was archbishop of Milwaukee were "groundless and scurrilous." 

. . . .

Speaking to reporters after mass at St. Patrick's on Sunday, Dolan blasted the New York Times' coverage of "this issue" saying it was not fair or accurate.  He also took aim at the organization behind the charges  . . . .  "SNAP has no credibility whatsoever," Dolan said. "To respond to charges like that that are groundless and scurrilous in my book is useless and counterproductive."  

Read more


Ex-priest: Archdiocese payment helped in new life

Gretchen Ehlke      May 31, 2012


The Archdiocese of Milwaukee and a former priest who received money to leave the ministry following allegations of sexual abuse say the payment was a form of charity meant to help men transition to a new life following the priesthood.

. . . .

Jerome A. Wagner said he accepted $20,000 from the Milwaukee archdiocese "because it was time to move on" after he was accused of assaulting a minor. He was never criminally charged and declined to comment on the allegations, but the archdiocese has acknowledged the accusations against him.

. . . .

Wagner used the money to attend a mortuary school in Illinois. He graduated in 2004 and is a licensed funeral home director in Fond du Lac, the same community where he left the priesthood in 2002. 

Read more


Video Threatening Damnation for Obama Voters Goes Viral

Frank Cocozzelli      May 31 2012


A small group of conservative Catholics has produced an election-year YouTube video thathas gone viral. The dark, somber three-minute production recites the Church hierarchy's culturewar grievances against the Obama administration - and all but promises that Catholics who vote for Obama will pay in the next life.

. . . .

"Catholics Called To Witness" is the project of two upper-middle class couples from South Florida. Interestingly, the group's secretary/treasurer serves as the Florida State Coordinator for, whose board includes a number of movement conservatives, notably anti-tax advocate  Grover Norquist.  . . . . But leadership of is dominated by leaders of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HDSLA). 

. . . . 

All this suggests that the video may be much much more than the work of a few zealous Catholic conservatives. It is more likely part of a widely coordinated conservative Republican message machine.


The video was produced by Creative Lab, LLC a politically well-connected South Florida company.

Test of Fire: Election 2012 (Official HD Version - Catholic)

Test of Fire: Election 2012 

 Read more


Cleveland priests doubt Lennon's leadership, call for removal

Brian Roewe      May 25 2012


The recent decision of Cleveland bishop Richard G. Lennon to eliminate his diocese's pastoral planning office appears to have been the final straw, atop a growing list of grievances, for some of his priests.


Since the office's closing and concurrent firing of two long-time and respected employees, several priests have written letters to Lennon's superiors in the United States and in Rome, voicing a lack confidence in his leadership and requesting his removal.

Read more


Amid doubts of Cleveland bishop's leadership, priest suspended

Tom Roberts     May 31, 2012


Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon this week suspended Fr. Robert Marrone for refusing to step down as pastor of the Community of St. Peter, a congregation that defied the bishop and remained together after its parish, of the same name, was closed in 2010.

. . . . 

It also is one of 11 parishes that the Vatican ordered  Lennon to reopen, a reversal of his ruling that resulted from legal proceedings at the Congregation for the Clergy.


Marrone said in a letter to his congregation that in a May 22 meeting with Lennon, the bishop expressed his wish that Marrone reconcile with the diocese and then read a statement containing a number of "whereas" clauses ending with the ultimatum that he remove himself from the community within seven days or face suspension from ministry.


In a May 30 interview with NCR, Marrone said he asked Lennon for a copy of the document. The bishop refused, telling him, according to Marrone, "that he didn't want to see it on the front page of the paper" the following day.

Read more


Bishop Richard Lennon says he has not suspended priest who leads breakaway congregation

Michael O'Malley     Jun.1 2012


Bishop Richard Lennon of the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland said in a letter Thursday that he has not suspended the Rev. Robert Marrone from his priestly ministry, despite what Marrone told his breakaway congregation this week.


Lennon, writing to priests and deacons, said that on May 22, he met with Marrone to encourage him to remove himself as pastor of the Community of St. Peter and to reconcile with the Catholic church. The bishop said he gave Marrone seven days to respond.


Although Marrone responded that he would not leave his congregation, Lennon said in his letter that he has not suspended the priest. Instead, the bishop wrote, he has "begun an investigation to determine whether a canonical penalty is to be imposed."


Marrone said Thursday that he still believes, according to what the bishop told him during their meeting last week, that he was suspended. He added that he was troubled and puzzled by the bishop's denial

Read more


Cleveland Catholic Diocese Bishop Richard Lennon sends conciliatory letter to priests, seeking to repair relationship

Michael O'Malley     Jun.7 2012


Bishop Richard Lennon has sent a conciliatory letter to the priests in the Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, acknowledging that his relationship with many of them has deteriorated. 


In a letter obtained by The Plain Dealer, Lennon wrote to the diocese's priests on May 21, saying "I have become aware of a growing disconnect between many of the priests who serve faithfully in this diocese and myself."


"It saddens me to hear reports," the bishop continued, "that a number of our priests feel anxious and uncomfortable in my presence and that rather than being co-workers with me, a number of priests feel left out of consultation."

. . . .

The bishop has asked all priests to attend at least one of nine meetings he has scheduled at various parishes throughout the eight-county diocese to discuss the matter. The first meeting was scheduled for today at St. Mary in Wooster. They are to continue through July 2. 

Read more


All The Cardinal's Men: Who Are These Guys?

Ralph Cipriano      May 21, 2012


For the past eight weeks, as the prosecution presented its case against Monsignor William J. Lynn, district attorneys and defense lawyers kept mentioning three names: Cullen, Molloy and Cistone.

. . . .

Cullen, Molloy and Cistone were the three top guys in the archdiocese chain of command just below Cardinal Anthony J. Bevliacqua. All three outranked Msgr. Lynn, the lone man at the defense table left holding the bag for the sins of an entire corrupt organization.
. . . .

Defense lawyers are apt to invoke the trio as often as possible in their efforts to convince a jury that Lynn was just a lackey down at Archdiocese HQ, and not a guy who wielded any power.

So who are these guys, and why aren't they sitting at the defense table with Msgr. Lynn?  

Read more


Father Gana Stayed in Church Because He Also Womanized and Stole Parish Money: So, Not a "Pure Pedophile"

JD Journal      May 25, 2012


On Thursday, Monsignor William Lynn of the Philadelphia Archdiocese was ripped apart by the prosecution and a gem, a true scintillating gem of Church logic came to fore. The reply given by Monsignor Lynn to the unhappy being identified in court records only as "Tim" was cited by the prosecutors. Tim, a former seminarian, had been repeatedly sexually abused by Reverend Stanley Gana, and a scathing 2005 grand jury report was cited on the exchange where Tim faced Monsignor Lynn. Tim asked why, even though the entire church knew that Stanley Gana was a confirmed pedophile, he was not evicted from the church. 


The grand jury report says, "Monsignor Lynn asked the victim, who had been forced to have oral and anal sex beginning when he was 13 years old to understand that the archdiocese would have taken steps to remove Father Gana from the priesthood had he been diagnosed as a pedophile." 

"But Father Gana was not only having sex with children and teenage minors, Monsignor Lynn explained, he had also slept with women, abused alcohol and stolen money from parish churches," informed the report of the grand jury.


The rationale: "That is why he remained, with Cardinal Bevilacqua's blessing, a priest in active ministry. 'You see, Tim,'" said Monsignor Lynn, 'he's not a pure pedophile.'"

Read more


The Church's Legal Tab: $11.6 Million in 2011-2012

Ralph Cipriano     Jun.5, 2012


Every day for the past ten weeks, Msgr. William J. Lynn has been accompanied to trial by four full-time defense lawyers. A conservative estimate is that the archdiocese is spending $75,000 a week on those four defense lawyers, or $750,000 for the past ten weeks of trial.

But the costs of the archdiocese's legal bill is much higher than that. In the archdiocese's new financial report issued this month, it was disclosed that the church has spent $11.6 million in response to the 2011 grand jury investigation of the archdiocese.

In a letter to parishioners that accompanied the new financial report, Archbishop Charles Chaput said the church spent $1.6 million in the 2011 fiscal year, and another $10 million over nine months of the 2012 fiscal year that ended March 31. 

Read more


 Signs emerge of a long deliberation at priests' trial

John Martin     Jun.7,  2012


Jurors at the landmark clergy-sex abuse trial of two Archdiocese of Philadelphia priests signaled Thursday they may be far from a verdict: The panel asked to take Friday off and to arrive late next Monday and Wednesday if they are still deliberating.

The jurors cited personal and family commitments. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina granted the request, according to her staff.

The panel of seven men and five women began meeting last Friday to deliberate the endangerment and other charges against Msgr. William J. Lynn and the Rev. James J. Brennan. They've asked the judge and lawyers for legal guidance and pieces of evidence throughout the week, but deliberated without interruption on Thursday morning. 

Read more


A Radical Look at Today and Tomorrow

Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C.      May 11, 2012


Santa Clara University


I would like to begin by stating my conclusion. Since 2002 the revelations of widespread sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and religious men and women have spread to Europe, Latin America and to some Asian countries. In the US the Catholic bishops have created a number of programs and policies and have aggressively implemented their "Zero Tolerance" policy. In spite of these policies and the expensive public relations efforts they have implemented, the attitude of the bishops as a collective group has not only not changed but it has gotten worse.


Their disdain for the victims has become more and more obvious. The true measure of their understanding of the horrific nature of the issue and their commitment to change is not the programs, policies, documents or speeches they generate but their unqualified attitude of compassion toward the victims and this is scandalously lacking. The bishops simply don't get it or if they do get it, they don't care.

 . . . .

This dark and toxic side of the Church will only began to fade when popes, bishops, priests, religious and laity understand that when we say "Church" we refer not to the hierarchy, the government or the power structure, but those harmed, 
abused, marginalized and rejected by a Church that forgot that before all else it is the People of God.

Read more


Is Bishop Finn a BINO?

David Gibson      May 29 2012


That would be "Bishop-In-Name-Only." I ask because NCR's Joshua McElwee dug into a seemingly boilerplate announcement of "canonical assignments" posted at the newspaper of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Friday afternoon and discovered that Bishop Robert Finn had shifted - apparently - some of his authority to a newly-created "Episcopal Vicar with Special Mandate," who is Fr. Patrick Rush.

The move was made in anticipation of Bishop Finn's trial this fall in Jackson County on charges of failing to report one of his priests, Fr. Shawn Ratigan, who was suspected of possessing child pornography and perhaps of abusing children.

Finn has already signed away some of his authority in Clay County (another part of the diocese) on sex abuse and personnel policies in order to avoid trial on similar charges there.  Friday's announcement also transferred another official tainted by the Ratigan case.
Read more


Analysis: Bishops' accountability still missing from abuse scandal

David Gibson      Jun.72012


As the nation's Catholic bishops mark 10 years since they adopted sweeping reforms to address the sexual abuse of children by clergy, the 800-pound gorilla in the chancery remains a lack of accountability for the bishops themselves.


That gap also remains the single greatest obstacle to ensuring the safety of children in Catholic parishes and schools and to restoring some measure of credibility for the bishops - and, by extension, the entire Catholic Church in the U.S.


"Bishops should be accountable to their people, to their priests," Nicholas Cafardi, a canon and civil lawyer who teaches at the Duquesne Law School in Pittsburgh, writes in the current issue of U.S. Catholic magazine.


"But authority without accountability is tyranny," writes Cafardi, who once headed the bishops' National Review Board that was established to ensure compliance with their own reforms.

Read more


Laity to set up church reform groups

Patsy McGarry     May 28, 2012


Following the Toward an Assembly of the Catholic Church gathering in Dublin's Regency Hotel three weeks ago, which was attended by over 1,000 Catholic laity, priests and nuns calling for dialogue in the Irish church, two further events are planned for this coming week.


A meeting will take place in All Hallows College, Dublin at 8pm on Wednesday, May 30th. It will discuss the formation of an umbrella group to represent laity interested in supporting reform and renewal in the church.

. . . .

Meanwhile the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) - which organised the Toward an Assembly of the Catholic Church event - is planning a meeting at the MacWilliam Hotel in Claremorris, Co Mayo, at 8pm on Wednesday.


The meeting will discuss plans to set up regional events similar to the recent one in Dublin, to take place in early autumn.


Over 900 priests have now signed up as members of the ACP.


The Association of United States Catholic Priests (AUSCP) has expressed its support for the ACP. Fr David Cooper, chairman of the AUSCP, spoke in a statement of the ACP's work as "a great service to the enterprise of dialogue so dear to the Fathers of Vatican Council Two 50 years ago."


In a statement on the ACP website Fr Brendan Hoban of its leadership team emphasised that it "does not seek to overturn the defined teaching of the Catholic Church."
. . . . 

"Freedom of conscience is a fundamental Christian teaching; it is not a strange or frightening concept. The word 'dissident' does not describe us. We are at the heart of our church, and that is where we wish to stay. So, please, work with us; talk with us; pray with us." 

Read more


Irish Times series 

Patsy McGarry     Jun.2, 2012


A new 'Irish Times' series begins today. Next week, Ireland hosts the 50th Eucharistic Congress of the Catholic Church. More than 80 per cent of Irish people still call themselves Catholic, but the church is out of touch and divided. Can it be repaired?

Friday What will the Irish Catholic Church look like in 20 years? 


Legion's latest admission revives hypocrisy charge

Nicole Winfield     May 22, 2012


The Legion of Christ religious order, already discredited for having covered up the crimes of its pedophile founder, suffered another blow to its credibility after its superior admitted Tuesday that he knew in 2005 that his most prominent priest had broken his vows of celibacy and fathered a child, yet did nothing to prevent him from teaching and preaching about morality.


The admission by the Rev. Alvaro Corcuera is likely to enrage members of the Legion and its lay branch who have endured years of apologies, hypocrisy and explanations for the crimes of the order's founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, who sexually abused his seminarians and fathered three children with two women.


The Rev. Thomas Williams, the public face of the Legion in America, admitted last week that he had fathered a child several years ago, going public with a statement after the Associated Press presented the Legion with the accusation. 

Read more



Legionaries of Christ ending their role in Sacramento area

Carlos Alcalá       May 26, 2012


The Legionaries of Christ are withdrawing from Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish, ending the prominent Catholic religious order's presence in the Sacramento region.

. . . .

Local officials say the local withdrawal is a product of the order shrinking and re-evaluating where to focus its priests.

Read more


The Pope is provoking disobedience

Prof. Hans Küng      May 24, 2012


General discontent and frustration over the delay of inner-church reforms dominated both the alternative and the official Katholikentag (bi-annual Catholic Congress) at Mannheim. In sharp contrast, Pope Benedict XVI is obviously preparing for the definite reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the traditionalist Society of St Pius X and its bishops and priests. This is even to take place if the SSPX, which continues to reject decisive Council texts, should have to be reincorporated with the help of canonical artistic devices. The Pope should be warned in the strongest terms against doing this, not least by the bishops, because:

1.    The Pope would be taking invalidly ordained bishops and priests definitely back into the Church. According to Pope Paul VI's Apostolic Constitution Pontificalis Romani recognito of 18 July 1968, the ordinations of bishops and priests undertaken by Archbishop Lefebvre were not only illicit but also invalid. This is also the view taken by Karl Josef Becker SJ, an authoritative member of the "Reconciliation Commission" and now a cardinal, among others.

2.    With such a scandalous decision, Pope Benedict, in his already much bewailed aloofness, would further distance himself from the People of God. The classical teaching on schism should be a warning to him. According to the teaching, a schism occurs if one separates oneself from the Church but also if one separates oneself from the body of the Church. "Thus the Pope could also become a schismatic if he did not wish to maintain the union and affinity he owes to the whole body of the Church" (Francisco Suarez, authoritative 16th/17th century Spanish theologian).

3.    According to the same church teaching, a schismatic Pope loses his office. At the very least, he can no longer reckon with obedience. Pope Benedict would thus further promote the already growing movement of "disobedience" to a hierarchy which is disobeying the Gospels. He alone would be responsible for the serious rift and strife which he would thus promulgate in the Church.  

Instead of seeking reconciliation with the ultra-conservative, anti-democratic and anti-Semitic Society of St Pius X, the Pope should rather attend to the interests of the majority of Catholics and seek reconciliation with the Reformation Churches and with the whole of ecumenical Christianity. In that way he would not divide minds. 

May 22, 2012                        Prof. Dr. Hans Küng

Translation: Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Vienna

URL  (scroll down)


What the #!%*? Did the Pope's butler do it?

National Post Wire Services  May 29, 2012


Q: How did this all start? 

A: The Vatileaks scandal broke in January when Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi broadcast letters from the former No. 2 Vatican administrator to the Pope in which he begged not to be transferred for having exposed alleged corruption that cost the Holy See millions of euros in higher contract prices. But the whistleblower, Monsignor Carlo Maria Vigano, was moved and is now the Vatican's ambassador in Washington.

Q: But it didn't end there? 

A: No. At the weekend, Mr. Nuzzi published a book, Your Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, in which he released dozens of private letters to Pope Benedict, and other confidential Vatican correspondence and reports, including encrypted cables from Vatican embassies around the world.

Q: And what do they show? 

A: A host of things. Some documents showed Vatican officials discussing one of the great unsolved mysteries in Italy, the 1983 disappearance of Emanuela Orlandi, the 15-year-old daughter of a Vatican employee. That led to the reopening of a criminal investigation. The book also provides a window into the nexus between Italian banking, media power and the Vatican. In a letter last Christmas, Bruno Vespa, Italy's most well-known television host, enclosed a cheque for $12,500 to the Pope's private secretary, Monsignor Georg Gaenswein, describing it as "a small sum at the disposal of the pope's charity," and asking for a private audience. The director of Italy's Intesa San Paolo bank, Giovanni Bazoli, sent a $32,000 cheque, "with my most deferential salutations." Other letters are written in obsequious baroque language, in which everyone - from Jesuits to government officials and Mercedes-Benz directors - seeks favours, recommendations and, most of all, the Pope's ear.

Q: What about the ouster of the Vatican's banker? 

A: The sacking last week of Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, president of the Vatican Bank, may be part of a wider conflict over how to bring the secretive institution in line with international anti-money-laundering standards. He was removed over accusations of negligence and failing to fulfill basic duties. However, his defenders say he was trying to improve the transparency of the Vatican's finances, and in the process upset powerful people.

Q: Anything else? 

A: Some commentators have said the Machiavellian machinations that have come to light are part of a campaign of reciprocal mud-slinging by allies and enemies of the Vatican's secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.

Q: Who is Bertone? 

A: Cardinal Bertone has emerged as a central contentious figure in the VatiLeaks drama. Many critics, including some inside the Vatican, see him as a poor administrator who as the Vatican's CEO has struggled to manage the scandal-ridden papacy of a German intellectual with little interest in day-to-day affairs of state. Vatican observers say many of the leaked documents are aimed at undermining the cardinal's influence.

Q: And the Pope's butler did it? 

A: A lot of people think not, or at least, not alone. Paolo Gabriele was charged at the weekend with illegal possession of secret documents. But some think he is a scapegoat. "It doesn't seem likely that he is the only one responsible for Vatileaks because many of the documents that came out didn't ever pass through the Pope's apartment where he works," said Paolo Rodari, a Vatican expert for the Italian daily Il Foglio. The 46-year-old father of three - who was always considered extremely loyal to Pope Benedict and his predecessor, John Paul II, for whom he briefly worked - could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. Meanwhile, he was reportedly "very serene and calm" Monday.

Q: So, who else could be behind the leaks? 

A: Several Italian newspapers carried an interview with an anonymous whistle-blower who explained why the documents were being leaked. "There's a group of us: the real brains behind it are cardinals, then there are monsignors, secretaries, small fry," the informer said. "The valet is just a delivery boy that somebody wants to set up. Vatican intelligence has security systems more advanced than anything the CIA has but cardinals are still in the habit of writing their messages by hand and dictating them. It's open warfare, with everyone against everyone else. Those doing it are acting to protect the Pope. There are those opposed to the Secretary of State, Tarcisio Bertone. And those who think that Benedict XVI is too weak to lead the Church. And those who think that this is the time to step forward. So it's become everyone against everyone."

Q: What's next? 

A: Authorities say Mr. Gabriele has pledged to co-operate with Vatican magistrates, raising the spectre high-ranking prelates may soon be named in the investigation. Italian media reported Monday a cardinal is suspected of playing a major role in the "Vatileaks" scandal. However, the Vatican spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, denied the reports.



More leaked letters show scheming inside Vatican

Philip Pullella   Jun.4, 2012


Pope Benedict XVI got no rest yesterday from a leaks scandal when an Italian newspaper published documents showing that his butler was not the only person in possession of confidential correspondence indicating a Vatican in disarray.


. . . .  the Rome newspaper La Repubblica published documents that it said it had received anonymously after the arrest of the pope's butler on May 23.  A note received by the newspaper said that there were "hundreds more" documents and that the butler, Paolo Gabriele, was just a scapegoat.

. . . . 

The person who sent La Repubblica the documents also provided two letters signed by the pope's private secretary, Monsignor Georg Ganswein. 

Read more


Leaks confirm ambivalence about Neocatechumenal Way

 John L Allen Jr   Jun.4, 2012


Both a brand new Vatican leak, and one contained in the avalanche of secret documents already published by an Italian journalist, depict deep ambivalence  among the pope's most senior aides about the controversial lay movement the Neocatechumenal Way.


The documents illustrate doubts about both the worship style of the Neocatechumenate, and its missionary activities.

 . . . . 

The movement has long been controversial. Some critics complain of fanaticism and unthinking obedience, while others object to allegedly heterodox teachings and liturgical practices.  . . . .   Bishops and pastors in various parts of the world have sometimes objected that the Neocatechumenate divides parishes and amounts to a "parallel church." 

Read more




Pope's top aide at centre of Vatican furor

Tom Heneghan     May 31, 2012


Amid all the rivalries and gossip exposed by a growingVatican crisis, Pope Benedict's deputy Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone has emerged as the chief target of an unprecedented campaign of leaks.

The publication of embarrassing details about men he has appointed or moved out andprojects he has promoted or opposed suggests a concerted effort to force him out of his post as secretary of state, or Vatican prime minister.


Benedict ruffled feathers in 2006 by choosing the theologian and canon law expert to head the Vatican bureaucracy known as the Curia, which is normally run by an experienced papal diplomat.


A series of mishaps embarrassing the pope and Bertone's increasingly authoritarian management style finally prompted his critics to launch the campaign to discredit him, according to Vatican insiders.


"It's all aimed at Bertone," said a monsignor in the Curia who sides with his gregarious boss. "It's very clear that they want to get rid of Bertone."

Read more


Vatican crisis highlights pope failure to reform Curia

Tom Heneghan      May 30, 2012


When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger became Pope Benedict in 2005, epithets like "God's Rottweiler" and "Panzerkardinal" suggested he would bring some German efficiency to the opaque Vatican bureaucracy, the Curia.

Instead, as the "Vatileaks" scandal has revealed, the head of the Roman Catholic Church can't even keep his own private mail secret. His hand-picked deputy, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, faces a "monsignors' mutiny" by prelates in the halls of power.

Benedict's papacy has been marked until now by controversies over things he has said and done, such as his criticism of Islam at Regensburg in 2006 or his 2009 decision to readmit four excommunicated ultra-traditionalist bishops to the Church.

Now a goal he has failed to achieve -- gain control over the Curia -- has come back to haunt him. Leaks of confidential documents on everything from Vatican finances to private papal audiences make his papacy look weak and disorganised.

. . . .

The cumulative effect of such incidents over the years and revelations of Vatican mismanagement now has been to cast Benedict's as "a tin ear papacy," said Christopher Bellitto, a Catholic Church historian at Kean University in New Jersey.

"This all seems to be a power game that matters only to the power players," he said. "It seems to be a Church hierarchy further distancing itself from the people in the pews." 

Read more


Pondering the 'what,' not the 'who,' of Vatileaks

John L. Allen Jr      Jun.1, 2012


While the arrest of the pope's butler has triggered feverish speculation about the "who" of the Vatican leaks scandal, there's been less attention so far to the "what" of the revelations contained in the sensational new book His Holiness: The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI, published by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.


In part, that's because the scores of documents in the 326-page book are complex and highly diverse, often composed in dense ecclesiastical Italian; in part, that's because a Vatican whodunit is tough to resist.


Yet the substance of the leaks obviously merits consideration, so below, I present a sampling of the highlights, including material likely to interest English-speaking readers. Later, I'll roll out more.

. . . .


The Secret Papers of Benedict XVI contains 11 chapters, two concerning Nuzzi's sources and the genesis of the project, and nine devoted to the documents themselves. Nuzzi quotes from the documents throughout the text, and an appendix contains reproductions.


The nine content chapters cover the following subjects:

1.             The Dino Boffo case

2.          Controversies surrounding Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, currently the papal ambassador in Washington, D.C.

3.          Vatican finances

4.          The Vatican's role in Italian politics

5.           The Vatican security forces

6.          Controversies surrounding Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican's Secretary of State

7.           Communion and Liberation, the Legionaries of Christ, and the Lefebvrists

8.          Globalization and its economic impact on the Catholic church

9.          Vatican diplomacy

Read more


Missing girl 'buried in murdered mobster's tomb was kidnapped for Vatican sex parties', claims Catholic Church's leading exorcist priest 

Nick Pisa     May 22, 2012


The Catholic Church's leading exorcist priest has sensationally claimed a missing schoolgirl thought to be buried in a murdered gangster's tomb was kidnapped for Vatican sex parties.


Father Gabriel Amorth, 85, who has carried out 70,000 exorcisms, spoke out as investigators continued to examine mobster Enrico De Pedis's tomb in their hunt for Emanuela Orlandi.

. . . .

And although bones not belonging to the mobster were recovered they have not yet been positively identified as hers.


However Father Amorth, in an interview with La Stampa newspaper, said: 'This was a crime with a sexual motive.


'It has already previously been stated by (deceased) monsignor Simeone Duca, an archivist at the Vatican, who was asked to recruit girls for parties with the help of the Vatican gendarmes.


'I believe Emanuela ended up in this circle. I have never believed in the international theory (overseas kidnappers). I have motives to believe that this was just a case of sexual exploitation.

Read more 


Pope removes Italian bishop amid fraud accusations

David Kerr      May 22, 2012


Pope Benedict XVI has removed an Italian bishop from ministry following the launch of a police investigation into alleged financial corruption within his Sicily diocese.

The Vatican's official bulletin on May 19 announced that the Pope relieved the Diocese of Trapani from the "pastoral care" of Bishop Francesco Miccichè.


Bishop Miccichè, 69, had been in charge of the diocese on the Island of Sicily for the past 14 years. Since last year, however, Italy's financial police have been investigating the disappearance of over one million euros (approximately $1,275,000) from two charitable foundations operated by the diocese. 

Read more


Vatican Bank Chief Ousted After Money-Laundering Scandal

Flavia Krause-Jackson      May 24, 2012


The Vatican bank, whose reputation took a blow last year over an investigation into money laundering, has fired Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi after a tenure stained by a financial scandal.


In a vote of no-confidence, the board of directors unanimously agreed to remove Tedeschi, a Banco Santander SA (SAN) banker who took the job in 2009, from his post for failing "to carry out various duties of primary importance," according to a statement by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.

. . . .

The institute is no stranger to scandal. It was implicated in the fraudulent bankruptcy of Banco Ambrosiano in 1982. The bank's former Chairman Roberto Calvi, dubbed "God's banker," was found hanged under London's Blackfriars Bridge in June of that year. The Vatican paid $240 million to compensate Ambrosiano's account holders without admitting any wrongdoing.   

Read more


Cardinals split as Vatican internal rift widens

AF      Jun.2, 2012


Cardinals tasked with deciding the fate of the Vatican bank president amid financial scandals and a struggle for power in the Holy See are struggling to come to an agreement, media reports said Saturday.


The commission of cardinals must decide whether or not to uphold the board's decision to oust Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who was fired for failing to clean up the institution's image amid accusations of corruption and money-laundering.

But the cardinals are reportedly split, with two of the four siding with Gotti Tedeschi, widening the bitter rift between the financial ethics expert and Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican number two.


It was Bertone who reportedly pushed the bank's board to fire their president as internal divisions over financial transparency came to a head.

Read more


Cardinal Calls for Equality of Heterosexual and Homosexual Relationships 

Francis DeBernardo      May 21, 2012


Berlin's Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki told a major Catholic conference in Germany that relationships of same-gender couples should be treated equally with heterosexual couples. An article in The Local, an English news source in Germany reports:


He told a crowd on Thursday that the church should view long-term, faithful homosexual relationships as they do heterosexual ones.


"When two homosexuals take responsibility for one another, if they deal with each other in a faithful and long-term way, then you have to see it in the same way as heterosexual relationships," Woelki told an astonished crowd, according to a story in theTagesspiegel newspaper.

Read more


New Translation of the Roman Missal  

Sacrosanctum Consilium 50: 


The rite of the Mass is to be revised in such a way that the intrinsic nature and purpose of its several parts, as also the connection between them, may be more clearly manifested, and that devout and active participation by the faithful may be more easily achieved.

For this purpose the rites are to be simplified, due care being taken to preserve their substance; elements which, with the passage of time, came to be duplicated, or were added with but little advantage, are now to be discarded; other elements which have suffered injury through accidents of history are now to be restored to the vigor which they had in the days of the holy Fathers, as may seem useful or necessary.




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



What's Next?

A pastor reflects on the new Roman Missal. 

Rev. Michael G. Ryan      May 28, 2012


. . . . An Early Report Card

So how does the report card look? Is the worst over? Apart from critics like me, has the new Missal been well received? Can it be called a success? I do not think so. The Missal continues to be an obstacle to prayer and to raise many more questions than it answers.


First, there is the question of justice. 

In spite of the outspoken concerns of liturgists, theologians, pastors and lay faithful (and some bishops, too), the new Missal, a book as heavy, awkward and clumsy as the new texts themselves, was rolled out right on schedule . . . . This was no small achievement given that, after the Missal finally received the approval of most, not all, of the bishops' conferences of the English-speaking world, its test flight to Rome resulted in hundreds of last-minute, behind-the-scenes changes made by some nameless Vatican editors.


Second, there is the question of language.

Some of the Latin originals of our prayers are wonderful compositions-simple yet profound and expressed with classical economy of language. Not so these translations, where "Roman brevity" is nowhere to be seen. On almost every page, there are passages so turgid as to be distasteful and, in many cases, downright baffling. 

. . . .

Third, there is the question of reception. 

A large number of the Catholic faithful seem to have shrugged helplessly and gone along with the new program, but can their passive acceptance be read as approval? I think not. 

. . . .

Many mainstream Catholics, the people who fill our pews and our collection baskets Sunday after Sunday, are quietly asking questions: Why? Whose idea was this? Who said it would improve our prayer life and deepen our relationship to God? Who thought this was a good idea, when the church has so many more pressing issues to deal with? Who authorized the massive expenditure of money that was required? And who came up with these awkward, clumsy, tongue-twisting and, in some cases, virtually unintelligible translations?


The acquiescence of priests cannot necessarily be read as approval, either. In many cases, our willingness to go along with the program can be chalked up to: our powerlessness to do anything else, our fear of reprisals or our unwillingness to sacrifice the unity of the communities we serve.


Speaking for myself, it was difficult to make the decision to implement the Missal, but I took hope in the thought that our people, once they heard it, would speak out. Some have. But most people have been quiet.  A friend recently asked me how realistic it was to expect the people to speak up about the Missal. "I don't know," she wrote, "if you're right to hope that your people will resist even as you yourself are yielding and going along with a diminished Mass. They trust you and they will follow your lead." Her question has kept me awake some nights.


So I come to the question I hope we will respectfully but insistently ask: What's next?
. . . .

Instead of carping in private, can we all talk openly and honestly about the texts we have been given? Can we talk about what works well and what clearly does not? Can we talk about tortured texts being forced into lines of music with all the comfort of an ill-fitting pair of shoes? Can we talk about what contributes to prayer and what gets in the way


Can we talk about a new edition of the Missal, not someday, but soon? . . . . Can we even talk about the beautiful 1998 translation of the Missal-the product of 17 years of labor by seasoned professionals?


If we do not talk, we may face two very unfortunate outcomes. The first is that the people will simply tune out the texts when they realize how much effort is required to make sense of them. (This is clearly already happening.) The second is that we will see a kind of liturgical free-for-all in which celebrants alter the texts to fit their comfort level-whether theological, literary or both. (This, too, is already happening.) 

. . . . 

We need to talk about what's next.

Read more




Upcoming Event


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