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Civil Discourse in an Era of   Catholic Polarization 

John W. Greenleaf     August 2012 


In our Catholic tradition, there has long been a variety of   theologies. From the earliest years of the church in fact, we had a Petrine   theology, a Pauline theology, and the four theologies of Matthew, Mark, Luke,   and John.
  Occasionally, however, polarization sets in. Civil discourse breaks down,   Christian charity disappears, and church people seem better at fighting each   other than celebrating and living their common bonds of faith, hope, and   charity.
  That is where we are today. LCWR's difficulties with Rome make an excellent   case study. Another good case study is the way many a high placed American   ecclesiastic demonizes Barack Obama and his policies. History will judge   whether Obama is or was a good president. But it is cruel and immoral to   demonize him and either his supporters or his opponents.
  The same goes for the Pope. Another excellent contemporary case study. He is   not my favorite Pope. I find his theology narrow-focused and archaic in a   disturbingly unhealthy way. Nevertheless he has a a right to hold and express   his theology. Others in the church have an equal right (responsibility) to   hold and express a different and more contemporary theology. Disagreement   with papal theology does not make one a Catholic heretic.
  Nevertheless: Polarization in today's church is an ecclesiastical infirmity   of major proportions. People hide behind their favorite stereotypes and   arrogantly condemn and assail their enemies. Like medieval knights fighting   dragons. In the process they demean the other. In the process they demean   themselves.
  Such heated exchanges are painful for the actors. They are painful for the   observers as well. I still remember an exchange, that got out of hand,   between my friend, Joe, a somewhat rigid and very macho Catholic businessman   and my friend, Ellen, a rather assertive sociology instructor who belonged to   a community of progressive women religious. Both were participants in a   seminar I had organized on "women in the church today." It started   out fine. There were keen observations, expressions of concern, and   occasional laughter.
  It became tense when someone in the group asked why women could not be   Catholic priests. Joe, well-known and influential in the diocese, bristled   and said the Lord did not want women to be priests. Ellen bristled and said   she was certain the Lord did want women priests and had called her to   ordained ministry. The fight was on.
  At one point red-faced Joe yelled at Ellen: "why don't you just jump on   your broom and fly back to your feminist convent?" She locked her jaw   and hissed: "well isn't this nice....just what we need... another   arrogant, narrow-minded talking penis!" I stood up and as calmly as I   could (well I do have Quaker roots) announced it was time for a coffee break   and took the two "friends" for a long walk in the backyard.....
  Most of us do have strong viewpoints. When our buttons get pushed, it is not   always easy to come up with something other than a polarizing response.
  Nevertheless, as I scan the contemporary church scene, it is obvious we are   well beyond the eleventh hour in the Catholic Church. Red danger lights are   flashing. We have to move beyond the liberal/conservative -- preVatican   II/postVatican II -- pro-life/pro-choice --feminist/sexist polarizations that   demean and destroy all of us.
  We need to develop the habit and the skills for critical and respectful   dialogue.
  I have been following the work of a young American theologian who, I believe,   understands exactly what we need: Charles C. Camosy, assistant professor of   Christian ethics at Fordham University in New York City and author of an   insightful book about polarization: Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond   Polarization.
  Charles proposes five practices for moving beyond the polarization which   currently dominates so much of contemporary church (and contemporary   political) discourse:
  (1) Humility. We are finite, flawed beings and are prone to making serious   mistakes. We need to enter into discussions and arguments with this at the   very front of our minds - not only in being comfortable with someone   challenging our point of view, but also reserving the right to change our   mind when our argument is shown to be problematic.
  (2) Solidarity with our conversation partner. This involves active listening,   presuming that one has something to learn, and (if possible) getting to know   the other personally beyond an abstraction. Never reduce the other to what   you suspect are "secret personal motivations." Instead, give your   partner the courtesy of carefully responding to the actual idea or argument   that he or she is offering for your consideration.
  (3) Avoiding binary thinking. The issues that are seriously debated in our   public sphere are almost always too complex to fit into simplistic categories   like liberal/conservative, religious/secular, open/close-minded,   pro-life/pro-choice, etc. Furthermore, it sets up a framework in which taking   one side automatically defines one against "the other side" - thus   further limiting serious and open engagement.
  (4) Avoiding fence-building and dismissive words and phrases. It might feel   good to score these rhetorical points, but doing so is one of the major   contributors to our polarized discourse. Let us simply stop using words and   phrases like: radical feminist, war on women, neocon, limousine liberal,   prude, heretic, tree-hugger, anti-science, anti-life, and so on. Instead, use   language that engages and draws the other into a fruitful engage of ideas.
  (5) Leading with what you are for. Not only is this the best way to make a   convincing case for the view you currently hold, but this practice often   reveals that we are actually after very similar things and simply need to be   able to talk in an open and coherent way about the best plan for getting   there.
  Charles C. Camosy can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.



Some things we have been reading  


The Second Vatican Council has already   made us free

Robert Blair   Kaiser     Aug.7 2012


Over the   weekend, an editor on the Internet observed that many events this year   commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council "seem   to be wakes, lamenting and grieving over the lost opportunity."

Rather than   wring our hands over what the church has become under back-to-back popes who   have acted in an arrogant and authoritarian manner, we should celebrate what   Vatican II has already done for us.


It has given   us a new view of ourselves. It's made us more free, more human and more at   the service of a world that Jesus loved.


It has given   us a new view of the church. It's our church, not the pope's church, or the   bishops' church, or a priest's church.


It has given   us a new view of our place in it. We can think, we can speak, we can act as   followers of Jesus in a world that needs us.

  Rather than whine over what daddy won't let us do, we can put the Council   into play ourselves.

American   nuns showed us how.

. . . .

We can put   the spirit of the Council into play in our own little part of the universe.   We don't have to seize moral leadership from our bishops. They have already   lost it with 90 percent of us by covering up for their wayward priests.

  With the cogency of our arguments, we can further marginalize our bishops   every time they misinform the people and the press about "the Catholic   position" on moral issues that are beyond their competence.  .   . . .


We can   continue to seek justice with our brothers and sisters across the whole   religion landscape (and break bread with them, too).


We can   continue to applaud our scholars and theologians and when they give us a take   on the Gospel in words that we, our children and grandchildren can understand.


When we find   ourselves in backward-thinking parishes, we can start up our own small-faith   Eucharistic communities. When enough of us start doing that, the bishops will   begin to understand. They need us more than we need them.

Read   more


Leadership Conference of Women Religious:   No Retreat, No Surrender

Anthea   Butler     Aug.11, 2012


The   Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) has offered a response to the   Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith's April 18th scathing   critique of the organization. In response to the CDF's censure, the LCWR says   it will continue discussion but "will reconsider if forced to compromise   the integrity of [their] mission."
  During the meeting this week in St Louis, the nuns experienced a tremendous   outpouring of support from lay Catholics, who stood with signs outside the   meeting in St Louis showing their support. Franciscan Sr. Pat Farell   instructed the sisters to be "fearless" in their response to the   Vatican, and the end of her speech as she stepped down from her office was a   phrase she learned in Chile during the Military dictatorship. "They can   crush a few flowers, but they cannot hold back the springtime."
  It is probably going to take a spring storm of sustained measure to stop the   CDF and the Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle appointed to oversee the CDF   mandate to carry out reforms in the LCWR. New President Franciscan Sr.   Florence Deacon will lead the LCWR during this time. She will have to forge a   path to keep the organization intact, while dealing with clerics who would   rather watch and censure than engage in dialogue.

Read   more


Statement By Archbishop J. Peter Sartain   Regarding The LCWR

Aug.10, 2012


The Holy See   and the Bishops of the United States are deeply proud of the historic and   continuing contribution of women religious to our country through social,   pastoral and spiritual ministries; Catholic health care; Catholic education;   and many other areas where they reach out to those on the margins of   society. 


As an   association of women religious, the LCWR brings unique gifts to its members   and to the Church at large. This uniqueness includes sensitivity to   suffering, whether in Latin America or the inner-city; whether in the life of   an unborn child or the victim of human trafficking. 

Religious   women have made a lasting contribution to the wellbeing of our country and   continue to do so today. For that they deserve our respect, our support, our   thanks and our prayers.


Along with   the members of the LCWR, I remain committed to working to address the issues   raised by the Doctrinal Assessment in an atmosphere of prayer and respectful   dialogue.  We must also work toward clearing up any misunderstandings, and   I remain truly hopeful that we will work together without compromising Church   teaching or the important role of the LCWR.  I look forward to our   continued discussions as we collaborate in promoting consecrated life in the   United States.



These nuns are the real thing

Thomas C. Fox         Aug.10, 2012


On the last   night of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly, just prior to   a dinner banquet honoring Immaculate Heart of Mary Sister Sandra Schneiders,   the 900 or more assembled Catholic sisters took time to thank the hotel   staff. First they called more than 100 staff to the front of the large   assembly hall to thank them personally. Then with many sisters waving their   table napkins they sang the staff a blessing. It was a gesture unlike any I   had witnessed before. Turns out it is part of the annual LCWR program, a   genuine thank you to those who worked quietly behind the scenes to make the   assembly carry on as planned.

  LCWR Thank you



A Latina nun defends her sisters accused   of straying from the Catholic Church

Kristina   Puga     Aug.7, 2012


                                                                         Sister Caridad Inda doesn't really have a full-time home.


Appropriately   named "Charity" in Spanish, her life is one of service, and she   goes to where those need her most.  However, this week she is defending   her fellow sisters.  


She has just   driven nearly five hours from one of her bases in Davenport, Iowa to St.   Louis, Missouri to demonstrate her support of the 57,000 nuns in the U.S.   accused of straying far from Roman Catholic doctrine.


Born in   Mexico, Sr. Inda has faithfully taught Spanish to American clergy   through her non-profit CIRIMEX, and she's also been a   devout nun in the Catholic Church for 60 years.


"There   are different points of view in terms of where you stand," says Sr.   Inda. "A person in the hierarchy looks at things differently than the   people in the pew. It's important to be more understanding of others."

. . . .

Sr. Inda   says she knows about the differences among people, because she's traveled   much throughout her life and says we all have lived through unique   experiences.


"Some   sisters have been brought up in a very traditional way, and some are still   wearing habits," she says. "We have people who are more liberal and   more conservative, but I think all the sisters are really trying to follow   the Gospel and the direction that came from the Vatican too."


She says on   the whole they want to continue to listen to the poor.


"That's   what we've been doing all these years," says Sr. Inda. "We need to   be concerned with those issues, and we need to be strongly in favor of change   in that direction. We want the Church to change in its view, and that's   really what we're here about."

Read   more

Ed.   note:  Sister Caridad Inda is a long-time   ARCC Board member.


Other sister news 


US bishops quietly adopt protocols for   theological investigations

Joshua J.   McElwee     Aug.17, 2012


The U.S.   bishops' committee tasked with enforcing church doctrine quietly adopted new   procedures for investigating theologians a year ago, apparently unbeknownst   to the theologians whose teachings and writings would be subject to the   protocols.

  The procedures seem to indicate that the committee is eschewing dialogue with   theologians when concerns over their adherence to church doctrine are   reported, instead preferring a private in-house review process.


The   procedures, which are dated Aug. 19, 2011, would have been formulated and   approved at a time when the bishops and their committee were being questioned   about their treatment of St. Joseph Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, a distinguished   theologian whose work they sharply criticized in March 2011.

. . . .

The existence   of new procedures came to light this summer in two academic journal articles   by noted canon lawyer Fr. James Coriden. In the latest issue of the   theological journal Concilium, Coriden writes that he had received a   copy of the protocols from the U.S. bishops' doctrine committee, but their   existence came as a surprise to several prominent theologians NCR called for   comment.  

Read   more


Are Catholics in the Pews Like Pew's   'Catholic Voters'?

Carol DeChant       Aug.14, 2012


Everyone   agrees that the "Catholic vote" is important: it was 24 percent of   votes cast in recent presidential elections and presumably determined the   winners of key states. Candidates court it and pundits analyze it. But no one   seems to know what (or who) it actually is.


Or even if   it exists. labelled the "Catholic vote" a myth after   Gallup found 90 percent of Catholics split evenly between Obama and Romney.   But other media, viewing a tilt toward Romney from Pew research, considered   the "undecided" 10 percent, and predicted that one way or another   Catholics will determine the 2012 presidency.

. . . .

Reactions to   our global and diocesan leadership show that what separates us in the voting   booth is also what divides us in the pews: whether we prioritize our church's   sexuality/gender teachings or its social justice doctrines. Beyond this   ideological divide, though, the shrinkage of Catholic families is silent   testimony that a vast majority of Catholics in the pews use   contraception 

. . . .

Whether the   Obamacare dispute will matter in November is another question. The weak   economy might trump all concerns, at least for heavily blue-collar Catholics   in key states.

. . . .

Meanwhile,   here's what we do know about the "Catholic vote": that   interpretations of polls (including this one) depend upon the segment of   Catholicism analyzed, how sizable it is in key states. and what issues might   be decisive in November. And that neither candidate should consider the   "Catholic vote" a slam-dunk. Whatever it is. 

Read   more


Earthly concerns

The   Economist     Aug.18, 2012


Of all the   organisations that serve America's poor, few do more good work than the   Catholic church: its schools and hospitals provide a lifeline for millions.   Yet even taking these virtues into account, the finances of the Catholic   church in America are an unholy mess. The sins involved in its book-keeping   are not as vivid or grotesque as those on display in the various sexual-abuse   cases that have cost the American church more than $3 billion so far; but the   financial mismanagement and questionable business practices would have seen   widespread resignations at the top of any other public institution.

  The sexual-abuse scandals of the past 20 years have brought shame to the   church around the world. In America they have also brought financial strains.   By studying court documents in bankruptcy cases, examining public records,   requesting documents from local, state and federal governments, as well as   talking to priests and bishops confidentially, The Economist has sought to   quantify the damage.


The picture   that emerges is not flattering. The church's finances look poorly   co-ordinated considering (or perhaps because of) their complexity. The   management of money is often sloppy. And some parts of the church have   indulged in ungainly financial contortions in some cases-it is alleged-both   to divert funds away from uses intended by donors and to frustrate creditors   with legitimate claims, including its own nuns and priests. The dioceses that   have filed for bankruptcy may not be typical of the church as a whole. But   given the overall lack of openness there is no way of knowing to what extent   they are outliers.

Read   more


Cardinal's 2nd cancer diagnosis raises new   questions over Catholic leader's future

 Manya   Brachear     Aug.18, 2012


When   Cardinal Francis George offered his mandatory resignation letter in January,   he gave every indication he intended to continue to lead the Roman Catholic   Archdiocese of Chicago and its more than 2 million faithful for years to   come.


Friday's   announcement that George is again battling cancer creates a degree of   uncertainty for the archdiocese, but church experts say any decisions   regarding the cardinal's future at the helm of the local church remain in his   hands.


"Nothing   is going to be done in terms of governance of the Archdiocese of Chicago that   isn't Cardinal George's request and preference," said Rocco Palmo, an   authority on the Catholic Church and writer of the blog "Whispers in the   Loggia." "I don't think this will hasten anything unless the   cardinal wishes otherwise."

Read   more


Vatican orders butler to stand trial,   charges second man

Philip Pullella   and Naomi O'Leary     Aug.13 2012


A Vatican   magistrate on Monday ordered Pope Benedict's former butler to stand trial on   charges of aggravated theft for leaking documents alleging corruption in the   Vatican.

  In a 35-page document on the case which has rocked the Holy See since   Gabriele was arrested last May, the Vatican also charged a computer expert   who worked in the Vatican bureaucracy with involvement in the case, the first   mention of a second man.


The layman,   named as Claudio Sciarpelletti, was also ordered to stand trial, although on   lesser charges of aiding and abetting a crime.


The Vatican   said it was not clear when the trial would be held but it would not be before   the end of September.

Read   more


Vatican openness in butler case not   enough, critics say

Ella Ide       Aug.15, 2012


The Vatican   has hailed its report on the decision to put the pope's butler on trial as   proof of its transparency, but critics suspect the secretive state of   diverting attention from its scandals.

. . . .

Despite   Gabriele's insistence that he worked alone, many religious observers believe   the operation was far too big to be orchestrated by one man and the media   have speculated over whether he was a pawn in a wider plot to grab power.


 "The   Church wants only one sinner," the left-wing La Repubblica daily said   when the news broke, accusing the Vatican of using Gabriele as a scapegoat.


There is   also a sense that there may be an attempt to undermine the butler's testimony   by discarding the original description of him as a model employee, in favour   of citing mental health experts who say he has "paranoid   tendencies."

. . . . 

Whatever   happens, the Vatican will have to work hard to convince sceptics that it   really is ready to open itself up to external scrutiny. 

Read   more


Religiosity slides worldwide, plummets in   scandal-hit Ireland

Tom   Heneghan     Aug.8, 2012


Traditionally   Catholic Ireland has registered almost the steepest drop worldwide   in people calling themselves religious in a new survey tracking international   trends in faith and atheism in recent years.


Only 47   percent of Irish polled said they were religious people, a 22-point drop from   the 69 percent recorded in the last similar poll in 2005, according to the   WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters.

Average   religiosity in the 57 countries included in the poll was 59 percent, a   decline of 9 points since 2005, it said.


At the same   time, the number of people declaring themselves to be convinced atheists rose   from 4 percent worldwide in 2005 to 7 percent this year. The biggest growth   was in France.

. . . .  

Only 47   percent of Irish polled said they were religious people, a 22-point drop from   the 69 percent recorded in the last similar poll in 2005, according to the   WIN-Gallup International network of opinion pollsters.


Average   religiosity in the 57 countries included in the poll was 59 percent, a   decline of 9 points since 2005, it said.

At the same   time, the number of people declaring themselves to be convinced atheists rose   from 4 percent worldwide in 2005 to 7 percent this year. The biggest growth   was in France.

Read   more


Nuns Challenge Romney To Spend A Day With   Them To Learn About Plight Of America's Poor

Travis Waldron      Aug.8, 2012


NETWORK, a   national Catholic social justice lobby, is inviting (Mitt) Romney to   "spend a day with Catholic Sisters who work every day to meet the needs   of struggling families in their communities," according to a release.   The group is specifically targeting Romney a day after his campaign released   a misleading ad about welfare reform that Sister Simone Campbell,   NETWORK's executive director, said "demonize[s] families in   poverty" and shows Romney's "ignorance about the challenges"   the poor face in America 

. . . .

Romney has   endorsed the House GOP budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI). It was   that plan, which includes deep cuts to food stamps and other safety   net programsthat benefit the middle class, that NETWORK's Nuns On A Bus tour   targeted, with Campbell and other sisters blasting it as "immoral"   at the tour's conclusion in Washington D.C. Romney has also proposed massive   tax cuts for the rich that would likely come at the expense of lower- and   middle-class families, which would see higher taxes or significant cuts to   the programs they depend on.

. . . .

The Romney   campaign did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but Campbell   said she "lives in hope" that he will accept, even if he spends   only an hour with the group. "I'll take whatever I can get,"   Campbell said. "He should accept."

Read   more


No joke: Dolan-Colbert 'Catholic comedy   slam' gets media blackout

David Gibson       Aug.10, 2012


News that   Comedy Central star Stephen Colbert and New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan would   appear together on a panel on faith and humor next month was greeted with   widespread anticipation: Both men are devout Catholics and pretty darned   funny.


But now this   tale has a surprising punch line that will surely make a lot of people   unhappy: Organizers of the Catholic comedy slam, set for Sept. 14 at   Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York, have announced a total media   blackout of the event.

. . . .

That's an abrupt   change from initial plans to broadcast the event as widely as possible, maybe   even on cable television. It may also rob the Catholic Church of a valuable   opportunity to show the faith in a positive light and to an audience -   Colbert's, mainly - that might otherwise tune out churchmen like Dolan. 

Read   more



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SNAP loses appeal to block release of   internal documents

Joshua J.   McElwee    Aug.14, 2012


Following   denial Tuesday of an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, the Survivors   Network of those Abused by Priests will have to decide whether to comply with   a local judge's order to grant access to more than 23 years of internal   documents to attorneys representing accused priests.

  The denial, issued by the court Tuesday afternoon, is the latest in a   months-long saga of SNAP, the leading advocacy group for clergy sex abuse   victims, to stop access to the documents.
  The group had filed a writ of prohibition to the court in late July, alleging   that the order, which requires it to hand over a range of eight categories of   documents, violates the freedom of speech and the rights of association of   SNAP's members and volunteers.

Several   groups -- including 24 victims' advocacy and church reform groups and six   former and current local, state and federal prosecutors -- filed amicus   briefs with the court that supported SNAP's position, saying the order could   lead to further victimization and ultimately "intimidate, harass, and   silence victims of sexual abuse."

Read   more


Lawyers for bishop, KC diocese want some   evidence kept out of trial

Tony   Rizzo    Aug.20, 2012


Evidence   that led to a Catholic priest's child pornography conviction should not be   allowed in the trial of the diocese and the bishop who supervised him,   defense attorneys argue in a pretrial motion.


Bishop   Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are scheduled for trial   starting Sept. 24 in Jackson County on misdemeanor charges of failing to   report suspected child abuse by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan.

In their   pre-trial motion, attorneys for Finn and the diocese ask a judge to exclude   eight pieces of evidence they believe prosecutors intend to introduce at   trial, including the contents of Ratigan's computer hard-drive that was   turned over to the diocese in December 2010 and to police in May 2011.


The defense   maintains that neither Finn nor another high diocesan official saw or   reviewed the hard-drive's contents. They also seek the exclusion of images   found in Ratigan's possession about the time of his arrest. Again, they   maintain that those items were never seen by the bishop or other diocesan   officials.

Read   more


In Vatican victory, judge rules priests   are not employees in Oregon sex abuse case

Nigel   Duara & Nicole Winfield     Aug.20, 2012


The Vatican   won a major victory Monday in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge   ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests.


The decision   by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the   decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.

. . . . 

The case is the last major U.S. sex abuse   lawsuit against the Holy See. Cases in Kentucky and Wisconsin have been   dropped in recent years. 

Read   more


Belgian bishop faces new abuse allegations

Robert-Jan   Bartunek     Aug.13, 2012


A Belgian   lawyer said on Monday he had launched an inquiry into a new case of alleged   sexual abuse by the former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, who has   already admitted to having abused his under-age nephews.


"The   present case concerns sexual abuse in the 1990s," at a care home in   Loker, in western Belgium near the French border, the lawyer, Walter Van   Steenbrugge, said.


He said he   had handed the allegations to a court in Brussels and lodged an inquiry with   it. It was up to the court to decide whether the statute of limitations ruled   out a prosecution, and if not, whether or not to prosecute the bishop, he   added.


Vangheluwe,   who was bishop of Bruges from 1984 to 2010, is the highest-ranking member of   the Belgian Catholic Church to be involved in a child abuse scandal which   resulted in 475 complaints of molestation by priests.

Read   more


Senior church officials in Australia under   investigation

 NCR staff       Aug.13, 2012


Three senior   church officials in Australia are under investigation for ties to an alleged   cover-up of a priest's sexual assault of young girls, an Australian newspaper   has reported.
  According to The Sydney Morning Herald, an investigation by New South Wales   police has named Fr. Brian Lucas, general secretary of the Australian   Catholic Bishops Conference, as a person of interest in relation to an   alleged concealment of the actions of pedophile priest Denis McAlinden.
  Other persons of interest are Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide and   retired Bishop Michael Malone of Maitland-Newcastle.
  According to multiple news reports, the three allegedly had knowledge of   McAlinden's abuse in 1993, a decade before the church reported the matter to   authorities. McAlinden, never facing charges, died in 2005, but two years   later the Maitland-Newcastle diocese confirmed that he was a serial child sex   offender believed to have targeted hundreds of girls -- ages 4 to 12 -- for   more than four decades.

Read   more


Church heads warn on abuse inquiry

Barney   Zwartz     Aug.21, 2012


State   Catholic leaders have warned parishioners that they will hear disturbing   reports about the church's past failure to respond to child sexual abuse by   clergy during the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of abuse complaints.
  In a pastoral letter to be sent to every Catholic church in Victoria this   weekend, the leaders say the church needs to learn from these failures, and   again apologise to victims of abuse and their families.
  The letter is signed by the four Victorian diocesan bishops - Melbourne   Archbishop Denis Hart, Ballarat Bishop Peter Connors, Sale Bishop Christopher   Prowse and Sandhurst Bishop Leslie Tomlinson - plus Sister Annette Cunliffe   and Sister Helen Toohey, presidents of the national and state religious orders.   ''The suffering and trauma endured by some children who have been in the   Church's care ... is a matter of continuing shame and dismay to all   Catholics,'' the letter says.
  ''Let us be very clear. The sexual abuse of a child was, is and always will be   a crime, and is contrary to all we believe in.''

Read more


Film to take on infamous Mexican pedophile   priest

AFP       Aug.15, 2012


The story of   an influential Mexican priest accused of rampant child sex abuse will   be featured in a new movie -- secretly filmed in Mexico this   summer.


Marcial   Maciel founded the Legionaries of Christ over six decades ago.    . . . . But starting in 1997, a number of students began to come   forward to accuse the high-profile priest of molesting them.

. . .   . 

Soon his   story will hit the big screen, in a Luis Urquizaproduction called   "Perfect Obedience," which began filming in July under close wraps.

. . . .

 But   the movie tells a broader story than just Maciel's abuse.


"Others   also profited from the mission" of the Legionaries to perpetrate   abuse, Alberto Athie, a former priest who served as an adviser for the   film, explained to AFP.


"It is   also a question of institutional behavior to cover up the abuse, and that's   what will be clear in the film," Athie added.

Read   more


'Rare, beautiful' work of Jesuit   missionaries in China now available on new Boston College website

Julie   Asher    Aug.17, 2012


Australian   Jesuit Father Jeremy Clarke, assistant professor at Boston College,has   launched a searchable website he calls  'Beyond   Ricci' that gives scholars and researchers online access to   newly digitized books containing historical narratives, maps, correspondence   and musical compositions in five languages that depict life in China in early   modern history and the East-West exchanges initiated by the early Jesuit   missionaries. The site was launched in late July.

Read   more


Mitchell heir leaves millions, literary   rights to Atlanta Archdiocese

Gretchen   Keiser     Aug.17, 2012


The   Archdiocese of Atlanta has received a substantial gift from the estate of   Margaret Mitchell's nephew, Joseph, including a 50 percent share of the   trademark and literary rights to "Gone With the Wind."
  The estate of Joseph Mitchell included a multimillion-dollar bequest to the   archdiocese and the donation of his home in Atlanta.
Read   more


New papal envoy to Israel hopes to foster   peace

Associated   Press     Aug.18, 2012


Pope   Benedict XVI has named Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarottoas a new   envoy to Israel, who will also serve as apostolic delegate in Jerusalem   andPalestine.


Lazzarotto,   a 70-year-old Italian prelate, told Vatican Radio Saturday that he   will do his best "in the cause of dialogue and peace" and said that   there are "many men and women of good will who live in the Holy   Land."


Vatican   Radio noted that Lazzarotto is familiar with the region, because he first   served as a papal envoy in Jordan and Iraq from   1994-2000. His most recent posting had been as papal envoy to Australia.



Russian, Polish churches appeal for   forgiveness

Monica   Scislowska     Aug.17, 2012


The leaders   of Russia's Orthodox church and Poland's Catholic church signed a document   Friday that urges their nations to forgive each other for past wrongs.


The signing   in Warsaw during the first visit to Poland by a Russia patriarch has been   described by the churches as a historic act of reconciliation and the   establishment of a bridge between the denominations. The two nations have   feuded for centuries and their ties are still marked by distrust.
  . . . .

Some have   compared the document to a historic 1965 letter by Poland's bishops to the   Catholic church leaders in Germany, offering and asking forgiveness for past   wrongs between Poles and Germans, the most painful committed during World War   II.

. . . .

Relations   between the Orthodox church and the Catholic church also have been tense.


The Orthodox   Church prevented Polish-born Pope John Paul II from making a trip to Russia.   The Orthodox also have accused the Vatican of seeking Catholic converts in   traditionally Orthodox areas - a charge Rome denies.

Poland's   official in charge of discussing the sticking points with Russia, Adam Daniel   Rotfeld, said the document signed Friday also laid foundations for an   improvement in relations between the two churches in general.

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Patriarch of the Ethiopian Tewahedo   Orthodox Church Dies

Fredrick   Nzwili     Aug.18, 2012


The   Patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, His Holiness Abune Paulos, died   on 16 August at the age of 76, according to his private secretary.


The   secretary told the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA) that Paulos died following   medical treatment. According to news reports, Paulos had been admitted to the   hospital in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia after suffering a heart attack on 15   August.


He was the   fifth patriarch of the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church and served in that   role since 1992.

He was also   president of the World Council of Churches (WCC) and was admired for his work   on HIV/AIDS, interfaith dialogue and the protection of refugees, according to   a WCC statement.

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New   Translation of the Roman Missal 


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


1.  Misguided   Missal

2.  U.S.   Catholic; Special Section on the New Liturgy

3.  PrayTell   blog

4. Louisville   Liturgy Forum

5. Liturgiam   Authenticam critique


The New Roman Missal among people   surviving poverty

Fr. Ronald   Raab, CSC    Aug.8, 2012


If you do   not have much experience with people who suffer mental illness, understand   that for so many people in our community change itself is very difficult.   Many people need a safe and stable place to be in life. Liturgy here is not   just about worship, but it is also about a home. The streets are really   brutal. People expect the parish to be a safe island of continuity and peace.   Even as I write that I know it is so unrealistic to live that out. However,   stability, consistency, reverence and calm are important to people who live   with a great deal of instability in life.


Our Masses   draw people from all walks of life. Our conversations first started with much   anger about the change itself. Many community members were really angry that   like so much for people in poverty, they are always being told what to do and   how to do it. They cannot sit on the sidewalks in Portland or sleep on the   park benches and now the one place where they thought would provide a little   more continuity in their lives was also changing.

. . . .


People   picked up immediately the thread of sinfulness in the text of the Roman   Missal. So many of our people have been sexually abused as children. Many of   them still blame themselves for their abuse. The constant thread of sin   suggests that they will never be good enough for God no matter how many times   they stand in a confessional line or come to Mass. They experience the   authority of the Church restating their inadequacy with the constant language   of not being worthy of God. In other words, some of the language of the new   translation opens the past wounds of abuse.  

. . . .

The stilted   language of much of the Mass is a real problem for many people in recovery   from addictions. They feel many of the words are very clerical and not   healing for people. Many people in recovery for alcohol, heroin and other   substances need the liturgy for healing. When they cannot understand the   language, healing seldom happens.


One example   is the word, "chalice".  We serve our community beverages from   donated mugs in our hospitality center every day. On Sunday we sometimes use   Styrofoam. People in recovery feel alienated from the Blood of Christ in the   first place. The word chalice reminds them of this separation. It drives home   the fact that priests drink from gold or silver chalices and alcoholics will   always sip from Styrofoam

. . . . 

We also   discussed the word, "roof." One more time before receiving   communion we say we are unworthy. Then we invite God under our roof. This is   a very difficult phrase for people who do not have a roof under which they   live. They do not have the opportunity to be hospitable. They cannot invite   people around a table or share a meal or stay dry or to pray under a roof.   This phrase has really been a new moment for me and for many people to pray   just before communion among people who live outside. This word is still being   talked about in our community and evokes much prayer and thought. 

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Upcoming Event 




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.


October 26   & 27, 2012 (Friday 6-9 p.m, Saturday 9-5 p.m.) Collenbrook United   Church, 5290 Township Line Rd., Drexel Hill PA  19026


Download a poster and/or   a brochure.    

Registration   information here.




Association for the Rights of Catholics in the    Church 








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