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Pope John XXIII

Address at the Opening of Vatican Council II - 11 October 1962

Today, Venerable Brethren, is a day of joy for Mother Church: through God's most kindly providence the longed-for day has dawned for the solemn opening of the Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, here at Saint Peter's shrine. And Mary, God's Virgin Mother, on this feast day of her noble motherhood, gives it her gracious protection.
. . . .
As regards the immediate cause for this great event, which gathers you here together at our bidding, it is sufficient for us to put on record once more something which, though trifling in itself, made a deep impression on us personally. The decision to hold an ecumenical council came to us in the first instance in a sudden flash of inspiration. We communicated this decision, without elaboration, to the Sacred College of Cardinals on that memorable January 25, 1959, the feast of Saint Paul's Conversion, in his patriarchal basilica in the Ostien Way. The response was immediate. It was as though some ray of supernatural light had entered the minds of all present: it was reflected in their faces; it shone from their eyes. At once the world was swept by a wave of enthusiasm, and men everywhere began to wait eagerly for the celebration of this Council.
. . . .
In the daily exercise of our pastoral office, it sometimes happens that we hear certain opinions which disturb us-opinions expressed by people who, though fired with a commendable zeal for religion, are lacking in sufficient prudence and judgment in their evaluation of events. They can see nothing but calamity and disaster in the present state of the world. They say over and over that this modern age of ours, in comparison with past ages, is definitely deteriorating. One would think from their attitude that history, that great teacher of life, had taught them nothing. They seem to imagine that in the days of the earlier councils everything was as it should be so far as doctrine and morality and the Church's rightful liberty were concerned.
We feel that we must disagree with these prophets of doom, who are always forecasting worse disasters, as though the end of the world were at hand.
Present indications are that the human family is on the threshold of a new era. We must recognize here the hand of God, who, as the years roll by, is ever directing men's efforts, whether they realize it or not, towards the fulfillment of the inscrutable designs of His providence, wisely arranging everything, even adverse human fortune, for the Church's good.



On the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary of the opening of the Second Vatican Council, we call on all other members of the People of God to assess the situation in our church.


Many of the key insights of Vatican II have not at all, or only partially, been implemented. This has been due to resistance in some quarters, but also to a measure of ambiguity that remained unresolved in certain Council documents.


A principal source of present-day stagnation lies in misundertanding and abuse affecting the exercise of authority in our Church. Specifically, the following issues require urgent redress:

  • The role of the papacy needs to be clearly re-defined in line with Christ's intentions.  . . . .
  • Bishops are vicars of Christ, not vicars of the pope.  . . . .
  • The central synod of bishops should assume a more decisive role in planning and guiding the maintenance and growth of faith within our complex world.  . . . .
  • The Second Vatican Council prescribed collegiality and co-responsibility on all levels. This has not been realised.  . . . .
  • The abuse of choosing for leadership offices in the church only candidates of a particular mindset, should be eradicated.  . . . .
  • The Roman curia requires a more radical reform, in line with the instructions and vision of Vatican II.   . . . .
  • The congregation for the doctrine of the faith should be assisted by international commissions of experts who have been independently chosen for their professional competence.

. . . .

The exercise of authority in our church should emulate the standards of openness, accountability and democracy achieved in modern society. Leadership should be seen to be honest and credible; inspired by humility and service; breathing concern for people rather than preoccupation with rules and discipline; radiating a Christ who makes us free; and listening to Christ's Spirit who speaks and acts through each and every person.

Some things we have been reading

50 years after Vatican II, should Pope John XXIII be a saint?

Greg Tobin     Oct.2, 2012

Fifty years after Pope John XXIII convened the Second John XXIII Vatican Council that revolutionized the Catholic Church, will the jolly man known as the "Good Pope" be declared a saint of the Roman Catholic Church? Perhaps the better question is: Should he be?

. . . .

It was reported at the time that Belgian Cardinal Leo Suenens, who was close to John XXIII and a leading voice in the council, favored a quick move to proclaim him a saint, eschewing the lengthy processes that could sap the energy and enthusiasm from the cause. Suenens said people needed new and contemporary figures as models of sanctity to inspire them in their spiritual lives.

. . . .

The historical circumstances of John XXIII's reign on the Throne of St. Peter and his personal sanctity -- well-attested and recorded during his lifetime and verified after -- have brought the "Good Pope" to the threshold of sainthood. The world only awaits verification of a post-beatification miracle credited to his intercession, as required by the rules.


I have no doubt that he will pass the final hurdle and "qualify" as a saint with flying colors, perhaps as soon as the 50th anniversary of his death, in 2013. Why? John XXIII's Second Vatican Council was, in itself, nothing short of a miracle.

. . . .

Even so, John XIII is a saint, acclaimed by many throughout the world already. They don't need the official stamp of approval of the Vatican hierarchy to verify what is already written on their hearts.

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The Catholic Church's lost revolution

50 years ago at Vatican II, a profound transformation of Catholicism began - only to be cut short
James Carroll     Sep.30, 2012

The Second Vatican Council, which convened 50 years ago next month, has been described as the most momentous religious event of the 20th century. Meeting in four sessions over three years, the world's Roman Catholic bishops sought to reimagine the role the church - the spiritual home of more than one-sixth of humanity - could play in a rapidly changing world.

Yet Vatican II so dramatically failed to fulfill its promise that it registers very little in common memory today, even among Catholics whose faith it was meant to transform. Nevertheless, the changes it initiated were profound, and their current still runs below the surface of an uncertain church. For Catholics like me, the council retains life-shaping significance. Aside from the blessings of family, it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

Far more importantly, Vatican II, from its half-forgotten place in the past, still points to an urgently needed Catholic renewal.


In books and articles over the years, I have often praised Pope John XXIII. But never has his unpredicted arrival on the Catholic scene held more significance than it does right now, when church authorities have returned to insisting that, in matters of faith and morals, Catholicism bears a God-given mandate never to change. Pope John punctured that myth - not single-handedly, but in league with his council.

. . . .

Alas, the age of miracles passed. It was naive of us to imagine that so profound a transformation could happen so easily. The very bishops who had launched the revolution were the first to feel threatened by what it required. Less than three years after the council concluded, a 1968 papal encyclical tried to arrest change by condemning "artificial" birth control - in defiance of a consensus then emerging within the church.


With that, clerical conservatism staked its program on bringing back a puritanical sexual morality. No to equal rights for women. No to the surrender of clerical power over the inner lives of Catholics. The long pontificate of John Paul II institutionalized this counter-revolution. Today, Benedict XVI caps it.


Yet basic changes of Vatican II could not be thwarted. Primacy of conscience was taken to heart. From the birth-control encyclical forward, the Catholic people began claiming their own religious liberty, at times rejecting the authority of popes and bishops - and still going to Communion.

. . . . 

Yet if those who left the ministry had taken Vatican II to heart, it showed in how many of us then refused to leave the church altogether. Instead, we became Catholic lay people who openly object to the hierarchy's betrayal of the council.


By now, the tragic meaning of that betrayal has become evident. Imagine if the other great reform movements of the 1960s had been rolled back. The civil-rights campaign, feminism, the peace movement, and environmental awareness have all transformed our culture. But the most profound religious transformation of the time was cut short, with implications far beyond Catholicism. Membership in the church, especially in Europe and America, has hemorrhaged. The moral authority of the Catholic hierarchy has been gutted. Priests, at best, evoke pity. Nuns upholding Vatican II values are targeted by inquisitors. The magnificent Roman Catholic Church, a millennial font of reasoned faith and aesthetic genius, is on the road to becoming yet another fundamentalist cult.

. . . . 

Yet this anniversary is a reminder of the wonder that Vatican II occurred at all. A transformation was begun. A certain image of Jesus Christ - of loving kindness, truthfulness, and preference of service over power - became the measure of what the church must be. This Jesus points to a God who views all persons as equals, forgives sin, and takes human fallibility in stride - the popes' included.


As if Vatican II anticipated its own failure, it planted in the Catholic mind a permanent principle of self-criticism. Fifty years of hesitation have done nothing to repeal it - the oldest edict of natural law: change or die. The reform will come again.

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Catholic theologian preaches revolution to end church's 'authoritarian' rule

Kate Conolly     Oct.5, 2012

One of the world's most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.


Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church's members.


In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, described the church as an "authoritarian system" with parallels to Germany's Nazi dictatorship.


"The unconditional obedience demanded of bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler," he said.


The Vatican made a point of crushing any form of clerical dissent, he added. "The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who, say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list." The result was a church of "yes men", almost all of whom unquestioningly toed the line.
"The only way for reform is from the bottom up," said Küng, 84, who is a priest. "The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore."

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I Went to Mass Last Sunday.

Thoughts for the Synod
Robert Schutzius, Ph.D.      Oct.8, 2012

It was good to have the impression of the presence of God in these familiar surroundings and sounds.  "Is that why you come?" I pondered?   "Daaa!" was my response using current verbiage. "Doesn't everyone come for that reason"?  But there was something missing in that thought.  I looked around and took-in the community around me, the old, and the young, in all our variation of size, age, dress, etc.  The Deacon gave the well written homily on marriage.  It was good, as he shared his own 40 years of married life with us in this community of families. 

As the Spirit was working on the bothersome missing piece in my thinking, I came up with the thought that I did not come to Mass to feel the presence of God, but rather I came to contribute and share the presence of God already within me.  I came and come to witness the sharing of God's presence in me and in all these people around me.  I did not need to come to have God within me, but rather to see and experience and share this presence in all of us.  It is the coming together of the God within each, here and now, that awakens the conscious experience of God's presence within and amongst us. 
It occurred to me that Jesus, who being God himself, did not go about by himself on his own, but sought out a community.  He went to the temple as a child, and later gathered a wandering group with whom he  mutually shared God's loving indwelling and by extension in ourselves as well.  It occurred to me that if the current Synod of "big-shots" in Rome, trying to figure out how to fix the leak in the bark of the Church, would have more awareness of God's presence already in us, if they would not just pontificate in detail their version of what God' wants us to do, but rather allow God within us speak through our conscience, they would find that the Spirit of God has not abandoned Her people. 
We are quite capable of gathering and keeping the Church alive, relevant, and well, in this changed/changing world.  They will find that we use a type of GPS system to navigate our spiritual lives instead of a sextant and compass. We ask that they just listen and share with us the presence of God as Jesus did who, by the way, did not fish himself but relied on humble fishermen, who knew what they were doing, to navigate the boat and catch the fish
But what do I know? Jesus did not have an organization with tons of worldly goods and property and prestige to worry about.  And the hierarchy worries about that big time.  God lives within us and not in the needed buildings.  Someone has to control the property and buildings.  Might we help (and pray) that they experience God's presence as we do - in each other, and does not need control/power over?  

Bob Schutzius has been a long time ARCC Board officer, is an ARCC Presidential Advisor and ARCC's office manager.

Burke may be the face of Catholic conservatism

David Gibson     Sep.29, 2012

When some American Catholics worry that the Burke hierarchy is tilting toward the Republican Party, or taking the church back to the 19th century (or earlier), they often point to Cardinal Raymond Burke as Exhibit A.


That's understandable, because love him or loathe him - and few are on the fence - Burke's many pronouncements on politics and the culture wars have given both fans and critics plenty of ammunition for their respective views.

Back when he was archbishop of St. Louis in 2004, for instance, Burke touched off a fierce debate by declaring that Catholic politicians such as John Kerry who support abortion rights should be denied Communion.

. . . .

Burke doubled down on his political views after Pope Benedict XVI appointed him in 2008 to head the Vatican's version of a supreme court, saying that under President Barack Obama, the Democratic Party "risks transforming itself definitively into a 'party of death.'"


In 2009, Burke fueled another controversy when he said that the late Sen. Edward Kennedy should have been denied a church funeral for his support of abortion rights and gay rights.

. . . . 

Indeed, when Burke was called to Rome after just four tumultuous years in St. Louis, many suggested that he was getting "kicked upstairs" in order to get him out of the U.S. spotlight. A case of "promuovere per rimuovere," as the Italians say - to remove through promotion.


But if that was the plan, it hasn't worked out so well.

In his four years in Rome, Burke has continued to speak his mind - he is a favorite on the conservative Catholic speaking circuit in the United States - while also becoming a player in Vatican politics in ways that extend his influence well beyond the occasional rhetorical broadside.

. . . .
Burke is also a leading advocate of a restoration of the church's older rites and traditions, like the Latin Mass, which he argues were heedlessly cast aside in the liberal "euphoria" after the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
But Burke has been celebrating so many old-style Burke liturgies and donning the most ornate regalia - long trains of watered silk, velvet gloves and elaborate brocades - that several Vatican officials said he had been asked to "tone it down a bit." Whether he will is another matter.  . . . .

For Burke, the risks are too high to remain on the sidelines. Obama's presidency and the advancement of issues like gay marriage and abortion rights have made it imperative for Catholic bishops to speak up, he says, though he realizes that the president is ahead in the polls and could well win. "I don't know what would happen if that would be the case," he said, shaking his head.


But he said he has been encouraged that a growing number of bishops appear to be joining the campaign for religious freedom that has targeted White House policies on contraception coverage.

"These are definitive moments, and the stakes are as high as you can get," Burke says. "That really pleases me, that more bishops are speaking out on their own."

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Newark archbishop urges voters to defend marriage, life
Abbott Koloff     Sep.25, 2012

In a sweeping pastoral statement to be made public today, the leader of more than 1 million North Jersey Catholics urges them to vote "in defense of marriage and life," and warns that the passage of same-sex marriage laws might lead to a government crackdown on their religious freedoms.


Newark Archbishop John J. Myers said the statement on gay marriage was not timed to coincide with the November election, now little more than a month away, and that he was not calling on Catholics to vote for a particular candidate. But he said they should examine the "full spectrum" of each candidate, including how they stand on abortion and "a proper backing of marriage."


He also said in the statement, a copy of which was provided to The Record before its release, that Catholics who disagree with the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on marriage should "refrain from receiving Holy Communion." He said he issued the statement because of what he described as a lack of clarity on the subject by other bishops. 

. . . .

Chris Pumpelly, a spokesman for Catholics United, a non-partisan social justice advocacy group, said it used to be unusual for Catholic leaders to make political statements. Now, he said, it has become the norm. And he said Myers' call for Catholics who disagree with the church about same-sex marriage to refrain from Communion will alienate members of the faith.

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AR Republican Charlie Fuqua Advocates Stoning Rebellious Children, Per Deuteronomy
Bruce Wilson     Oct.8, 2012

"The maintenance of civil order in society rests on the foundation of family discipline. Therefore, a child who disrespects his parents must be permanently removed from society in a way that gives an example to all other children of the importance of respect for parents. The death penalty for rebellious children is not something to be taken lightly. The guidelines for administering the death penalty to rebellious children are given in Deut 21:18-21" - Republican Charlie Fuqua, from his book God's Law.

It has rapidly migrated from the Arkansas Times - which has broken the story about a controversial book written by Republican candidate for the Arkansas Legislature Charlie Fuqua - to the Huffington Post, but so far media has not identified the most astonishing aspects of Fuqua's suggestion, in his e-book God's Law: The Only Political Solution, that rebellious children might should be executed in accordance with Deuteronomy 21:18-21. 

First, Fuqua is not advocating just any form of execution. By citing those verses from Deuteronomy, candidate Fuqua is recommending stoning rebellious children to death.

. . . .

Next, Fuqua's view that the American legal system should be based on Biblical Law identifies him as a type of Christian Reconstructionist.

. . . .

Among the crimes identified by Christian Reconstructionists as deserving the death penalty (by stoning) is also juvenile deliquency. Stoning disobedient children is, needless to say, slightly controversial, even among leaders of the hard religious right.  

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Pope's former butler gets mild sentence. The hunt for his accomplices continues
Giacomo Galeazzi    Oct.6, 2012

The "poison pen letter writer" has been given a mild sentence - he will only serve a jail term of one year and six months and will be pardoned - but investigations into potential accomplices continue. So Vatileaks is not over today: there are too many grey areas in an affair that has exposed a deep governance crisis in a Curia weakened by conflicts between opposing parties who are fighting to for power. Influential figures in the Curia still oppose the Pope, who is trying to enforce a strict line of purification, to the detriment of a deeply ingrained conspiracy of silence among sections of the Church hierarchy who are mixed up in the Vatican's financial scandals.

Meanwhile, the former butler's confidants, Curia representatives such as papal vicar Angelo Comastri, are ending up in the Vatileaks meat grinder when they actually have nothing to do with the whole affair. "I was dragged into the affair big time, even though I had nothing to do it," Cardinal Comastri complained at the end of the Gendarmerie's celebrations for the feast day of St. Francis on Friday. During the celebrations, Salvatore DeGiorgi, one of the cardinals who prepared the report on the Vatican document leak for the Pope, expressed regret about the sensationalist climate surrounding the search for the truth.

Today, after the sentence against the former butler was pronounced, the Vatican spokesman, Fr. Federico Lombardi stated there is "a concrete and very real possibility" that Paolo Gabriele will receive a papal pardon. Meanwhile, the former butler has been sentenced to one year and six months in prison for the theft of confidential documents and is under home arrest again. "The Pope is considering a pardon - Fr. Lombardi confirmed.

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Author of Vatican leaks book defends pope's butler, explains motives, seeks clemency
Nicole Winfield     Oct.8, 2012

The author (Gianluigi Nuzzi ) of the book of Vatican secrets that earned the pope's former butler an 18-month sentence for stealing private papal correspondence has set out to explain his source's motives and appeal for clemency.

. . . .

Gabriele, he said, was at the receiving end of disgruntled Vatican cardinals, bishops and managers who came to him "day after day" with their secrets and concerns "hoping he would bring them to the pope."

. . . .

Many of the issues Gabriele brought to light haven't yet been explained, "but certainly they explain the frustration of a man who, when confronting these intrigues, perceived the fragility of his pastor in a battle between good and evil," Nuzzi wrote.

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McAleese reveals 'attack' by disgraced cardinal

Garry O'Sullivan & Sarah MacDonald      Oct.6, 2012

Former President Mary McAleese has revealed how an American cardinal -- later disgraced for his involvement in covering up child sex abuse -- berated her for her support of the ordination of women priests.

Mrs McAleese spoke out in support of women being ordained prior to becoming President in 1997.

In 1998, she met the now disgraced Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, former Catholic Archbishop of Boston, on an official visit to the US.

According to Ms McAleese, he told her he was "sorry for Catholic Ireland to have you as President" and went on to insult a junior minister who was accompanying the then president.

"His remarks were utterly inappropriate and unwelcome," Mrs McAleese told the Irish Independent in Rome yesterday, where she was promoting her new book on canon law.

According to Mrs McAleese, Cardinal Law lambasted her and a considerable number of her official delegation after ushering them into a room where a well-known American conservative Catholic, Mary Ann Glendon, was waiting to lecture the President on her views on women priests.

Mrs McAleese said the cardinal's language and attitude were nasty and he demanded that she sit down and listen to the orthodox view on women's ordination from Mrs Glendon.

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No more talks with Catholic rebels: Vatican official
Tom Heneghan     Oct.5, 2012

The Vatican plans no more talks with rebel Catholic traditionalists who insist the Church must revoke modernizing reforms launched five decades ago, Pope Benedict's main doctrinal official has told a German interviewer.

Archbishop Gerhard Mueller, who took up his post as head of the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in July, said in an interview to be broadcast on Saturday that the Church could not negotiate away the fundamentals of its faith.

His comments to North German Radio (NDR) were the first from the Vatican on deadlocked talks meant to reintegrate the Society of Saint Pius X (SSPX) into the Church after a 21-year schism over its implacable opposition to 1960s reforms.

. . . .

Mueller, who crossed swords with SSPX traditionalists while he was archbishop of Regensburg in Germany  before going to Rome, rejected the group's central argument that the Council broke with a Church's 2,000-year traditions.

"The Second Vatican Council does not contradict the Church's overall tradition, but only some false interpretations of the Catholic faith," he said.

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Papyrus scrap mentioning Jesus' wife could affect thousands of priests
Fr. Richard McBrien     Oct.8, 2012

A fragment of a fourth-century papyrus, written in Coptic, makes some reference to Jesus' wife. It got front-page attention in The New York Times. The story seemed to have the approval of a professor at Harvard Divinity School in an academic paper she delivered recently in Rome.

. . . .

In a subsequent opinion piece in The New York Times, Fr. James Martin, a Jesuit editor at America magazine, while noting that there wasn't much evidence in the New Testament or church history for the hypothesis that Jesus had been married, said he wouldn't be troubled one way or the other. Whether Jesus was married would make no difference to his faith in Jesus or his vow of chastity.

. . . .

If Jesus had a wife, however, the primary basis for obligatory clerical celibacy in the Roman Catholic Church would be out the window.

So the question is an important one after all. It affects thousands of priests in the Roman Catholic Church, including most of its pastors and associates, as well as priests who teach in our colleges, universities and high schools; the many who are chaplains in the military, in hospitals, and in prisons; the dwindling few who serve as editors of their diocesan newspapers and other publications; and priests in various special ministries.

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Can the Vatican Survive the Age of Digital Media?
Alexander Stille     Sep.28, 2012

Some institutions may not adapt to 21st-century radical transparency. The papacy's turn to inflammatory rhetoric while hit by a series of damaging leaks suggests that it's struggling.

. . . .

For an organization famous historically for keeping its internal business as private as possible, the Vatican has gone out of its way since the scandal broke this spring to be as open and accountable as possible. Having been embarrassed by constant leaking, the Vatican has clearly decided to go on the counteroffensive, releasing information in anticipation of events so that it is not constantly caught off guard by embarrassing revelations.

. . . .

Suddenly, the word transparency, which was hardly pronounced during the first two millennia of the Catholic Church's history, is on everyone's lips at the Vatican, in what amounts to a kind of Copernican revolution -- an attempt on the part of an essentially medieval institution to join the Internet age.

. . . .

(The pope's official spokesman, Rev. Federico) Lombardi gets high marks from almost everyone in the Vatican press corps for his honorability, honesty, and integrity, but as he himself acknowledges, the Vatican has not ever had a media strategy: the pope does as he sees fit, and Lombardi tries to explain his words or actions after the fact.


And Lombardi speaks for an elderly and not particularly charismatic pope: a 78-year-old theologian at the time of his election, now 85 and increasingly infirm; a scholar with more-solitary habits than his predecessor.


Lombardi is also dealing with a new media environment. Dozens of Vatican news Web sites named Whispers in the Loggia, Vatican Insider, and the like, pick up and report on Vatican scuttlebutt that traditional media rarely, if ever, did. Victims of priestly sexual abuse have their own Web sites and can organize online; copies of court decisions, grand-jury reports, and compromising documents make their way around the world instantly.

. . . .

The Vati-leaks scandal has accentuated the already serious problem of the chasm between the Church and its people, between the hierarchy composed almost exclusively of elderly white men in their 60s and 70s living in the isolation within the Vatican walls and the 1 billion Catholics in the world contending with much more basic, day-to-day problems of life and of faith.  

. . . .

Seen as a whole, the Vati-leaks documents have a common denominator: they describe a series of failed efforts at cleaning up aspects of Church life -- the finances of Vatican City, the Vatican Bank, and relations with Italian politics. And precisely because the leakers had lost an internal power struggle, they appear to have released the documentation of their struggle as their only weapon left, like the parting shot of a retreating army.
The principal target of the leakers is the current Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who is seen by his critics as concentrating too much power in his own hands and of not using it wisely or well.

"There is no room for internal criticism or debate, all power is concentrated in a single place," one letter to the pope states.  . . . .


Bertone's supporters insist that this moralizing language masks a naked power grab, the resistance of members of the Vatican old guard, composed mainly of the diplomatic corps, against the encroachment of outsiders -- the real reformers, Benedict and Bertone himself.

. . . .

"The pope does not meet with the members of his government -- the equivalent of his cabinet -- but twice a year," said one ecclesiastical source. "Can you imagine a president who only held cabinet meetings twice a year? One reason for all this letter-writing and all this leaking is that there are not normal channels of communication."


Many of the documents that have been leaked are direct appeals to the pope from high-level figures within the Church and attempts to buck the authority of Bertone, who began traveling widely overseas, acting almost like a surrogate for the pope. The secretary of state was generally someone who stayed in Rome and made the machinery of the Vatican administration run. So when things went badly, many in the Church would blame Bertone. Nor did Bertone endear himself to other Italian cardinals when he arrogated for himself the lead role in managing the Vatican's relationship with Italian politics, something that has traditionally been handled by the Italian Conference of Bishops.

. . . .

The Church's close association with (former prime minister Silvio) Berlusconi became a source of increasing tension as details began to emerge about his private life: his separation from his (second) wife in 2009, stories of bunga bunga orgies involving professional escorts and teenage girls, and, finally, a criminal prosecution for frequenting an alleged underage prostitute. He denies any wrongdoing, and the trial is pending.

. . . .

As long as Berlusconi kept his private life private, the Church was prepared to close its eyes and hold its nose. But when the lurid details spilled out into the public arena, it became increasingly difficult to ignore. A split appeared to develop between the Conference of Bishops, who are closer to parishioners, and the leaders walled off in the Vatican, who were reluctant to abandon a political ally who had delivered so much in recent years.

. . . .

The editor of the Conference of Bishop's daily newspaper, L'Avvenire, a man named Dino Boffo, became one of the few voices in the Church to speak out, criticizing Berlusconi's unbecoming conduct in a series of stinging editorials. Shortly afterward, Boffo found himself the object of a vicious attack by the Berlusconi family newspaper, Il Giornale, which outed him as gay and reported that he had been forced to plead guilty in a sexual harassment suit. Under the pressure of a massive press campaign, Boffo resigned.

. . . .

But what came out demonstrates how tangled relations have become between the Vatican and Italian media. One of the two documents that Il Giornale published -- the supposed police file about Boffo's sexual orientation -- turned out to be a fake.

. . . .

Along with a full telling of the Boffo affair, His Holiness documents a furious power struggle over the management and finances of the Vatican City itself.  

. . . .

The lesson of both the pedophilia scandal and Vati-leaks is that the Church can no longer control information about itself. In the past, when police arrested priests who were acting out, they generally took the matter to the local bishop, and newspapers often chose, out of deference, not to write about it. Changes in public opinion -- anger and outrage over wrongdoing in the Church -- and in information technology make it impossible to keep the lid on scandal.

. . . .

But transparency is not as easy a matter for the Catholic Church as it might be for secular organizations.  . . . .  "Sunshine is the best disinfectant," Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis famously said of corruption. But there is a limited amount of sunshine the Vatican can allow into its walls without violating its very nature. Absolute monarchies are willfully opaque and mysterious; they are an archaic and charismatic form of leadership that derive much of their power from their mystery, unapproachability, and unknowability.   . . . .  


The pope -- with his golden mitre and ermine-lined robes sitting upon a throne -- is part and parcel of this tradition. Although human, the pope is thought to have been filled with the Holy Spirit on his election and to become infallible (at least in some things). The Catholic tradition rests heavily on the appeal of mystery.  . . . .  Too much transparency -- the equivalent of placing a Webcam on the Pope and his cardinals -- would strip away layers of mystery. It would be like pulling away the curtain at the end of The Wizard of Oz, revealing that the awe-inspiring figure we first see in Oz's throne room is nothing but a frail and highly fallible old man.

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SF prelate jokes about DUI charge at installation
Lisa Leff     Oct.5, 2012

San Francisco's new Roman Catholic archbishop made self-deprecating jokes about his recent drunken-driving arrest during his formal installation ceremony, which came just days after he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of reckless driving.


But Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone, a strong supporter of California's ban on same-sex marriage, did not refer to the distress his appointment has aroused in this gay-friendly city and mentioned marriage only obliquely Thursday.

Amid heavy security and the splendor of his faith's most sacred rites, Cordileone told an audience of more than 2,000 invited guests at St. Mary's Cathedral he was grateful for the support he had received from people of different religious and political viewpoints following the Aug. 25 arrest in his home town of San Diego.

"I know in my life God has always had a way of putting me in my place. I would say, though, that in the latest episode of my life God has outdone himself," Cordileone said with a chuckle as he delivered his first homily as archbishop.

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Episcopal Bishop Says He Was Denied Entrance To Catholic Archbishop's Installation Mass
Kevin Eckstrom     Oct.6, 2012

What started off as a rocky relationship between the Episcopal and Roman Catholic bishops of San Francisco got even worse on Thursday (Oct. 4) when Episcopal Bishop Marc Andrus said he was denied entrance to the installation Mass of the new Roman Catholic archbishop.

Andrus said he arrived at St. Mary's Cathedral 30 minutes before the installation Mass of Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone was scheduled to start, but was kept in a holding area with an employee of the Catholic archdiocese until after the service started.

After other local clergy had processed in for the 2 p.m. Mass, Andrus said the message was clear that he was unwelcome, even though he had been invited.

"At 2 PM, when the service was to begin, I said to the employee, 'I think I understand, and feel I should leave.' Her response was, 'Thank you for being understanding.' I quietly walked out the door. No one attempted to stop me," Andrus wrote on his blog.

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See also Cordileone installation snub of TEC bishop in San Fran: A misunderstanding?

The Human Dignity of the Elderly - and Of Us All
Steve Schneck     Sep.26, 2012

The graying of the Boomer generation begins and a new front in the intersection of morality and politics becomes evident - the end of life.  Two current issues bear upon the human dignity at issue for aging Boomers: a Massachusetts ballot initiative for physician assisted suicide and a radical cut to Medicaid.


Physician Assisted Suicide

. . . .

In form, the proposed Massachusetts suicide policy would follow the worrisome precedents elsewhere, such as the systems in the Netherlands and in Oregon.  Those precedents demonstrate real dangers to seniors, who even now are at times cross-pressured and counseled by family and even by medical professionals.

The elderly poor and middle class are especially at risk from such pressure. They are in a position where, faced with the diagnosis of terminal illness, the costs ofend of life care pose an enormous challenge for themselves and their families.  In the United States, end of life medical and care costs are very much dependent upon Medicaid.  Medicaid does not cover frills.  Even to qualify for Medicaid the elderly in many cases must intentionally exhaust their savings, property, and other assets -- a process that can generate anxiety if not actual resentment among family members. The elderly, faced with spending down their remaining wealth may well feel obligated to die now in order to save assets for heirs, especially in the context of family resentment.  Moreover, the elderly poor often do not have the resources for legal and medical counsel to consider a full range of possible alternatives.
. . . .

Radical Cut to Medicaid

. . . .

But the Medicaid cuts hit the middle class elderly equally as hard. Currently, about 60 percent of all nursing home care is paid for by Medicaid and for hospice care it's even higher. Those percentages may be expected to rise in coming years.  The number of people over the age of 65 will nearly double by 2030 to about 71 million. As the Boomer generation unfolds from early golden years of golf and travel to later years of assisted living, nursing homes, and hospices -- Medicaid will loom in importance.

. . . .

So, what would the proposed 29 percent or ultimately 40 percent cut in Medicaid mean then for Boomers' own last years?  The picture is not pretty.  More elderly Americans would need to rely on family or charity resources -- and, frankly, neither charities nor family resources are likely to be sufficient to cope with the need.  Greater rationing pressures would be experienced in regard to nursing home housing, nursing care, and end of life medical care.  Those pressures on families, on charities, and on the quality and availability of care will surely play out in worrisome dynamics for elder abuse and a host of other end of life moral issues.

The proposed Medicaid cuts make the Massachusetts' ballot initiate for assisted suicide even more frightening.  The teachings of our Church are clear about respecting and supporting the genuine dignity of living life as fully as possible until God calls. Our message as Catholic citizens is clear: Oppose the Medicaid cuts and defeat the Massachusetts physician assisted suicide referendum.

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Bishops block foreign aid campaign for being too partisan
Lee Berthiaume     Sep.25, 2012

Canadian Catholic bishops have taken the unprecedented step of blocking an annual education campaign organized by the church's foreign aid wing, Development and Peace, after deeming this year's edition too partisan.

The bishops are reported to have been concerned that the campaign, targeting the Harper government's controversial changes to Canadian international assistance, would divide parishioners and hurt the church's work with the Conservatives on other issues.

. . . .

The fall education campaign was to include postcards for Catholic parishioners across the country to send to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, as well as posters in churches and other material calling for a debate on the direction of Canadian international assistance.

But those plans ground to a halt this month when CCCB president Archbishop Richard Smith requested a meeting with Development and Peace officials.

. . . .

The CCCB refused to comment for this story, directing all questions to Development and Peace.

But the Catholic Register newspaper obtained a letter from Development and Peace national council president Ronald Breau in which he wrote that Smith had warned the campaign would lead to divisions within the Catholic community.

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'De-baptisms' follow Martin case
Tablet     Sep.28, 2012

Flemish Catholics upset by the convent refuge provided for the wife of a notorious Belgian child murderer have revived interest in "debaptism", or having their departure from the Church formally recorded in baptismal registers.


No figures are available yet for 2012 but church officials say this form of protest is on the rise again in reaction to the welcome the Poor Clare sisters gave to Michelle Martin, who was granted conditional release from prison last month after serving 16 years of her 30-year sentence.

A website called ("") reported a spike in users downloading its forms to request debaptism after Martin was released amid repeated protests against her convent refuge.

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Pope names Vatican's top abuse investigator to be bishop in Malta
Catholic News Service     Oct.8, 2012

Pope Benedict named the Vatican's top investigator of abusive priests to be the new auxiliary bishop of Malta.
Msgr. Charles Scicluna, who was born in Toronto to Maltese parents, served for the past decade as the Vatican's first promoter of justice in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, handling cases brought against clergy accused of the sexual abuse of minors.

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<nyt_headline>Anglicans Meet to Pick New Leader
Reuters Sep.26, 2012

Church of England officials met in secret on Wednesday to choose the next archbishop of Canterbury, a centuries-old task that now comes with the modern concern of preventing 80 million Anglicans worldwide from splitting over same-sex marriage and the ordination of women as bishops.


The departing liberal archbishop, the Most Rev.Rowan Williams, 62, has said his successor will need "the hide of a rhinoceros and the constitution of an ox." The 105th leader of the Anglican Communion will face a long-term decline in church attendance and divisions between modernists and traditionalists.

. . . .

The arcane selection process is wrapped in layers of protocol, with roots going back 1,400 years.

Meeting for three days behind closed doors at a secret location, a 16-member panel of bishops, church members and lay people will pick a preferred candidate and a reserve choice.

They will give the two names to Prime Minister David Cameron, who will forward the name of the preferred candidate to Queen Elizabeth II, supreme governor of the Church of England. Pending her approval, Mr. Cameron's Downing Street office will announce the new leader.

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German Catholic activists rap decree excluding church tax opt-outs
Tom Heneghan     Sep.25, 2012

Liberal and conservative Roman Catholic activists in Germany criticised a decree that came into effect on Monday to deny sacraments and religious burials to people who opt out of a "church tax".

The German bishops issued the decree last week warning Catholics who stop paying the tax they would be excluded from all religious activities, also including working in a church job, becoming a godparent or taking part in parish activities.

"'Pay and pray' is a completely wrong signal at the wrong time," the reformist movement We Are Church said on Monday. The decree "shows the great fear of the German bishops and the Vatican about further serious losses in church tax revenue."

A conservative group called the Union of Associations Loyal to the Pope asked why Catholics who stop paying the tax would be punished but those it called heretics could stay in its ranks.

"So sacraments are for sale - whoever pays the church tax can receive the sacraments," it said in a statement, saying the link the decree created "goes beyond the sale of indulgences that (Martin) Luther denounced" at the start of the Reformation.

German tax offices collect a religious tax worth 8 or 9 percent of the annual regular tax bill of registered Catholics, Protestants and Jews and channel it to those faiths. An official declaration that one is leaving the faith frees the citizen from this tax. 

. . . .

Some commentators suggested the bishops issued their decree to sidestep a looming legal case by a retired theology professor challenging the right of the Catholic Church to excommunicate those who opt out of the tax.  . . . .  A ruling in his favour could throw into doubt Germany's whole church tax system, which was introduced in the 19th century.

The bishops' decree, described as "excommunication lite" by the German media, could however undercut Zapp's case because the exclusions it listed were not described as a formal excommunication.

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No tax, no Church perks, German court rules
Ole Kämper    Sep.26, 2012

A German court has ruled that Catholics must pay a specialChurch tax if they want to take part in religious activities. It follows a warning by the Church that those who fail to pay will be denied a religious burial.


The Leipzig Federal Administrative Court ruled on Wednesday thatGermans cannot remain members of the Catholic Church without paying a Church tax. The case involved a retired professor of churchlaw, Hartmut Zapp. In 2007, he filed a legal challenge insisting that he would no longer pay the church tax but that he intended to remain within the Catholic faith and continue praying and receiving Holy Communion.

Zapp argued that under Catholic doctrine, membership in theChurch was determined by a person's beliefs and not by a financial relationship.


The Leipzig court, however, disagreed and said that those who voluntarily left the Church were no longer members of the Church in the eyes of the State, regardless of their motives for leaving the faith.

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Pope does not greet Irish Prime Minister
Gerard O'Connell     Sep.22, 2012

Ireland's Prime Minister (Taoiseach), Enda Kenny, attended a papal audience with other European political leaders linked to the internationalCentrist Democratic movement at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo this morning, September 22, but the Pope did not greet him or any of the other political leaders present.

. . . .

Given the group's size, nobody had imagined that Benedict XVI would greet them all individually, but it had been expected that he would shake hands with the European Prime Ministers, including Ireland's Enda Kenny, who was seated on the front row alongside the Greek Prime Minister. This did not happen.


Pope Benedict did not greet anybody on entering or leaving the audience, possibly because he was suffering from fatigue after last week's visit to the Lebanon, a Vatican source told me. Instead, after delivering his speech, he just sat with the group for a photo and then left the audience.

The previous day, Kenny met Italy's Prime Minister, Mario Monti, and afterwards spoke to journalists. It was clear then that he expected to meet the Pope.

Asked by the Irish Times whether he felt in any way "uncomfortable" about meeting Pope Benedict "given that he was one of the few European leaders to have been so critical of him" in his July 2011 speech to the Dail (the Irish Parliament's lower house), Kenny responded by defending what he had said,  implying he didn't feel any unease.

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Church is 200 years out of date, top cleric claims
Cormac McQuinn     Oct.1, 2012

A senior figure in the Association of Catholic Priests (ACPS) has said he agrees with a distinguished Italian cardinal who has said that the church is 200 years out of date.


Co Mayo priest Fr Brendan Hoban, one of the leaders of the organisation, has spoken of how the church needs to face its current crises such as the series of child sex abuse scandals and the fall in vocations.

And speaking ahead of two conferences aimed at increasing the participation of lay Catholics, he said bishops and priests can't solve the church's problems on their own, that it needs the help of ordinary Catholics.

Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini died at the end of August but in an interview given two weeks before his death, he said the Catholic Church is "200 years behind the times".

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Vienna cuts 75 per cent of parishes
Tablet     Sep.27 2012

The 660 parishes in the Archdiocese of Vienna are to be drastically reduced over the next 10 years to just 150.


The Archbishop of Vienna, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn, made the announcement to a startled audience of journalists at the annual media reception at the archbishops' palace on 20 September.

The main factors behind the restructuring are the declining number of churchgoing Catholics and the shortage of priests. Parishes in the archdiocese will in future be much larger, with three to five priests in charge, one of whom will be responsible to the archbishop. Each of these large parishes will be run jointly by priests and lay Catholics.

Cardinal Schönborn described the move as "probably the greatest structural reorganisation of the Vienna archdiocese for 200 years".


Nigeria Suicide Bombing: Officials Say Suicide Car Bomber Kills 2, Wounds 45
Shehu Saulawa    Sep.23, 2012

A suicide car bomber attacked a Catholic church conducting Mass in northern Nigeria on Sunday, killing two people and wounding another 45 in a region under assault by a radical Islamist sect, officials said.


An Associated Press journalist heard the explosion after 9 a.m. Sunday in the city of Bauchi, which has seen a number of bombings and shootings blamed on the sect known as Boko Haram. The blast appeared to hit a parking lot alongside the St. John's Catholic Church in the city.

Police and military surrounded the church and did not allow journalists inside the cordon. Later at a nearby hospital, Bauchi deputy police commissioner T. Stevens told journalists told that the bomber had been stopped at the church's gate, where he detonated the explosives packed inside his car.

Doctors cautioned more could die from their injuries.

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Hardline Israeli settlers deface Monastery of Saint Francis in Jerusalem
Ori Lewis     Oct.2, 2012

Suspected hardline Israelis scrawled pro-settler graffiti and religious insults on a monastery outside the walls of Jerusalem's Old City on Tuesday, police said, in the latest of a series of attacks on non-Jewish sites.


The vandals wrote the phrase "price tag" in Hebrew on the gate of the Monastery of Saint Francis on Mount Zion - a reference to a violent campaign supporting unauthorised settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.


The "Price tag" is the retribution some Israeli settlers say they will exact for any attempt by their government to curb settlement in the territory, which Palestinians want as part of a future state.

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<nyt_headline>Philippine Priest Facing Scrutiny Over Ivory and Abuse
Floyd Whaley     Sep.28, 2012

A Roman Catholic priest in the Philippines accused of ivory smuggling is under investigation by the Vatican  and has been stripped of his ministerial duties since June in connection with unrelated sexual abuse allegations, a church spokesman said Thursday.

. . . .

The ivory smuggling investigation was prompted by an article in the October issue of National Geographic magazine that quotes Monsignor Garcia as telling a U.S. reporter how to smuggle illegal elephant ivory figurines into the United States.

. . . .

The same article notes that Monsignor Garcia was accused in the 1980s of abusing altar boys in Los Angeles. He was subsequently transferred to the Philippines and became a respected high-ranking church official. It was those accusations that prompted the church to strip him of his ministerial duties in June.


"We were surprised by this investigation," Monsignor Dakay said. "This was a case from the 1980s, and it was revived just because it was mentioned in National Geographic magazine?"

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Chilean bishop suspected of abusing minors resigns
Nicole Winfield    Oct.9, 2012

The pope on Tuesday accepted the resignation of a Chilean bishop who is under investigation by the Vatican for the alleged sexual abuse of a minor.

The resignation of Bishop Marco Antonio Ordenes Fernandez of Iquique, Chile, marks one of the few times that the Vatican has acknowledged publicly that it was investigating a bishop for sex abuse allegations.

Advocates for clerical sex abuse victims have long complained that the Vatican has looked the other way when bishops have been accused of abuse or of covering it up.

The Vatican said Tuesday that the pope has accepted Ordenes' resignation under the code of canon law that says a bishop must resign if he is sick or because some other "grave" reason makes him unsuitable for his job.

The 47-year-old Ordenes suffers from a liver ailment and has been seeking medical treatment. But the Vatican Embassy in Santiago confirmed Oct. 2 that it had been investigating Ordenes since April, and was offering psychological and other care to "those affected."

The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said that the link between the resignation and the investigation "can be considered obvious."

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A Modern Monk's Tale
Patrick Wall     Oct.1, 2012

Every once in a while, real religious history is written. Those of us trained in religion know this firsthand-we have read thousands of pages of hagiography that simply skim over the truth, avoid scandal and paint a rosy, unquestioned picture of religious history.

Then there was John Cavanagh.

John Cavanagh was a former Trappist monk who blew the whistle on his Abbot and the Abbot's boy toys in the monastery. The Abbot was removed. But he wasn't the only one punished: the whistleblowers were also pushed out of the monastery. With the troublemakers gone, the Order could create a perfect cover story.
The reason to read this story is to see how John Cavanagh found a deeper spirituality after he lost his religion. His evocative and personal story was published the day before he died.
"A Modern Monk's Tale," by John Cavanagh.

New Translation of the Roman Missal

We recommend that you watch these sites during the transition to the new translation:


The New Translation of the Catholic Mass doesn't exactly appear to be firing great enthusiasm around the world except from the predictable minority. In this three-part essay, Dr Anthony Lowes takes a more detailed look at some of the problems.


At a loss: the dumbing [up] of the new English liturgy... 

Part 1     Part 2    Part 3

Upcoming Events



You are aware of injustice in the Church. 

You know action must be taken to stand against it until it is brought into the light. You are not alone!

The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) invites you to a time of reflection and empowerment - moving from identifying issues, to taking effective action in response.

Saturday, October 27, 2012   9-5 p.m.

Collenbrook United Church, 5290 Township Line Rd., Drexel Hill PA  19026

Download a poster, a brochure and the agenda

Register here.


The Utopia of the Council: Reflections on the 50th Anniversary of the Opening of Vatican II

a presentation by GUSTAVO GUTIÉRREZ, OP
Friday, November 9, 2012    5:30 pm
Barry University, Cor Jesu Chapel 11300 NE Second Avenue, Miami Shores, FL 33161
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church




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