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Renew your wonders in this our day,

as by a new Pentecost.

-- St. John XXIII


    Why Hope?      


Cardinal Leo Suenens, a leading figure and one of the four moderators of the Second Vatican Council, wrote: 


"Why am I a person of hope even in these days?


Because I believe that God is new every morning.  I believe that God is creating the world today, at this very moment. That means that we have to expect the 'unexpected' since it comes from God.  


God is here, near us, unforeseeable  and loving.


I am hopeful, not for human reasons, but because I believe in the Holy Spirit present in Church and in the world even if people don't know God's name. 


I am hopeful because I believe the Holy Spirit is still the creating Spirit. I believe that the Spirit will give us every morning fresh freedom, joy and a new provision of hope, if we open our soul to the Spirit.


The story of the Church is a long story, filled with the wonders of the Holy Spirit.  Think of the prophets and saints who have discovered a spring of life and shed beams of light on our path.


I believe in the surprises of the Holy Spirit.  John XXIII came as a surprise, and the Council, too.  They were the last things we expected.


Why should we think that God's imagination and love might be exhausted?


Hope is a duty, not just a luxury. Hope is not a dream, but a way of making dreams become reality. Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true!"


from Suenens' book:  A New Pentecost   

Seabury Press (1974)


Ed. Note:  Thanks to reader Anne Kilkenny for sharing this.


Message from the President 

Soon we will be celebrating Pentecost, the event traditionally viewed as the birthday of the church. The followers of Jesus were gathered in a room, fearful and not knowing which way to go. It is not hard to imagine the feelings of those women and men on that occasion. After all, their teacher had been killed after trumped up charges were made by some of the religious leaders. This Jesus of Nazareth had only gone about doing good works and announcing to all who would hear that there was no need to fear.  Jesus showed them how much God loved them and called them to pass on that love to one another.   


But there were those in power who feared that message. If everyone were to believe that God loved them as they were, there would be no need for them to rely on the rituals and rules of the hierarchy.  This was all the power the hierarchy had left. The Romans had already taken away their political power.  The only thing they had left to wield was their theocratic power. If people no longer lived in fear that they would be condemned for all eternity unless they followed all the rules, then they would no longer be subject to the control of those who claimed a special connection to God. So, the hierarchy brought him before the Romans and claimed that he was a threat to their power. It was fear that ruled that day:  he was executed so that the people would not see that they did not need to cooperate with either form of autocracy-political or religious.


So the men and women in that upper room were very much afraid that they would be next. Even after Jesus revealed himself through the Resurrection, they could not see that the authorities could be challenged. They were still convinced that if they continued to proclaim the message of the risen Christ, they would be executed like he was. They saw themselves as powerless.


It was then that a powerful force entered the room-the power of the Holy Spirit. It was then that the disciples began to understand. The Spirit burned in their hearts and they saw that there was nothing to fear. It was on that day they found their voice. Some of them spoke in tongues, it is said. They began saying things that had never before crossed their lips. They spoke of the power of God's love.  They began to announce the message of the Resurrection. That message was that even death may be conquered. They were then able to leave the perceived safety of that room and go out into the streets and proclaim God's love. Of course, the religious leaders and later on the Romans began to persecute them but the message spread anyway. It spread because it was the truth.


Today, we find ourselves in a place similar to that of the women and men in the upper room. We are facing an aggressive religious leadership that is very afraid that the last of their power is being threatened. The hierarchy sees that their message of fear may not work anymore. So, they are on the attack. The leaders of the Roman Catholic Church, as well as leaders of other Christian faith traditions, are using the instrument of fear to retain and/or regain their power. They are also flexing their power by going after those who have voiced the message of hope. They have attacked the priests of Austria and Ireland who have dared to speak out, calling us all to renew the call of the gospel. They have attacked women who believe that they should also be bearers of the gospel message. They now threaten those extraordinary women religious who act on the call of the Beatitudes. These women who confront the worst part of humanity in poverty, in disease, and in abuse have stood with Jesus in a way that few of us will. So, we are afraid. We are afraid that if do like these brave women who have shown us the way of Jesus, we will be next. We are afraid that there can be no reform, there can be no change, and that the only way to deal with this aggression of the hierarchy is to run away to our own upper rooms.


Now, however, is the time of our Pentecost. There is no power greater than the Holy Spirit. There is no hierarchy that can withstand this burning in our hearts. We can and we must believe in that power.  God's love is for everyone, and that is the message we also must proclaim. In the next few months, we at ARCC are preparing to present workshops to help us all rediscover this truth. We invite all who want to see a church that does not operate based on fear. 


The title of the workshops is: IN ALL THINGS -- HOPE. It is an opportunity for all to gather who love the church and who believe in the gospel message of universal love. Then, we will explore together how to claim our dignity as the People of God and to stand for a church that is authentic for all of us. We will reflect on how our rights as followers of Jesus have been compromised. Most importantly, we will claim our voice and explore how we, too, can leave the upper room and take this message to the streets. It will be through non-violent action that we will stand up to those who would take away this dignity. Abusive religious leadership, like any power, cannot stand if we do not allow it to do so. We all must learn how to stop cooperating with this  perversion of the gospel.


In this endeavor, I ask for your support. We need your prayers and your presence. We have spoken about the rights of Catholics in the church for a long time now. We can no longer be satisfied with just talk. We must now open ourselves to the Holy Spirit and act. I urge you to go to the ARCC web site to learn how you can register for the workshops. I ask you to pass this on to anyone who will listen. For those of you who feel that you cannot attend for whatever reason, I invite you to consider sponsoring the workshops through your contributions, and by working with us to set one up in your city. I can tell you that ARCC is taking this step with the full faith that the Holy Spirit will provide us with what we need. That will happen through you. We embark on this not to blow our own horns but to heed the call of the Spirit and advance the message of God's love.


Peace and all that is good,

Patrick B. Edgar, DPA, M.Div.
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church





Some things we have been reading  


Three "Aggiornamento" books

 May.9, 2012




Here are my three latest books. Two are focussed on bringing the Catholic Church "up to date" -Aggiornamento, as our beloved St. John XXIII put it! The third is to bring me - and anyone who wants to "read over my shoulder" - up to date.


The first one, Constitutional Catholicism, follows John's successor, Paul VI's pet project, a Catholic Constitution: 


The second one, Democratic Bishops for the Roman Catholic Church, is a plea - believe it or not! - by Professor Joseph Ratzinger and his colleagues at Tubingen University for the election limited term of office of bishops!  


The third book, Club Modernity - for Reluctant Christians,  is my attempt to reflect on how those living in the mental world of Modernity can also at the same time be intelligent Christians: 


My request is, first, tolle lege, and then write me back what you think - about any and all of them.




Leonard Swidler    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L., LL.D., LL.D.

Co-Founder & Past President 

Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church


New Fight on a Speaker at a Catholic University

Laurie Goodstein      May.16, 2012


Among politically conservative Roman Catholics, Kathleen Sebelius, the secretary of health and human services, was already at the top of the list of Catholic public officials considered to be traitors to the faith.

 . . . .

 So there was an uproar when it recently became public that Georgetown University, a Jesuit institution, had invited Ms. Sebelius to speak at an awards ceremony this Friday, its commencement day.


The Archdiocese of Washington released a strong letter of rebuke to Georgetown's president on Tuesday afternoon, calling Ms. Sebelius the architect of the birth control mandate - "the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history."

 . . . . 

In response to the controversy, Georgetown's president, John J. DeGioia, said it was the decision of the students at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute to invite Ms. Sebelius in recognition of her long service as a public official.


He also cited "her role in crafting the landmark legislation that will make health care more accessible to 34 million Americans who are currently uninsured," referring to the Obama administration's health care overhaul.


And, he noted, Ms. Sebelius is "the spouse and mother of Georgetown graduates."


A Georgetown representative said Wednesday that the university would not rescind the invitation.

Read more


William Peter Blatty, 'Exorcist' Author, To Sue Georgetown University In Catholic Court

Daniel Burke       May 18, 2012


The author who turned Georgetown University into a horror scene in "The Exorcist" plans to sue the school in church court, charging that his alma mater has strayed so far from church doctrine that it should no longer call itself Catholic.


William Peter Blatty, who graduated from Georgetown in 1950, says the "last straw" was the university's speaking invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

. . . . 

Blatty's "indictment" against Georgetown charges the school with failing to recruit Catholic teachers and students, neglecting to instruct students in Catholic morality and failing to act in accord with church doctrine. He expects the suit to be filed in the Archdiocese of Washington's court of canon law this fall.


Blatty recently founded The Father King Society, named after a former Georgetown theology professor, to enlist fellow alumni in his cause.

A similar church suit was brought against Georgetown in 1991 for authorizing university funding for a student group that supported abortion rights. According to Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly, the case reached the Vatican before Georgetown agreed not to fund the group.

The conservative Cardinal Newman Society has assisted Blatty's cause. 

Read more



Nun Justice Project


ARCC is part of a coalition of church reform organizations who are supporting the Nun Justice Project since the Vatican's mandate for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. You can help support the sisters through the Nun Justice Project website.


Six things you can do to Support the Sisters

1. Petition
Let the sisters know you stand with them! Sign the petition or share it with friends! Let's get 57,000 signatures - one for every sister in the United States!

2. Write
Tell Church officials that you support the sisters. Write to the Apostolic Nuncio, the Vatican's ambassador in the U.S., other officials, or to your local newspaper. 
Download a sample letter and suggested talking points.

3. Vigil
Join or organize a public vigil Tuesdays in May. If you're unable to join a vigil in person, join a Virtual Vigil in spirit by posting a photo showing your support! 
Find a vigil near you.

4. Share
Follow Nun Justice on Tumblr
Post a photo showing your support
Tweet using #nunjustice
Share the petition on Facebook

5. Pledge
For Pentecost, make a financial pledge to support the sisters by directing or redirecting a contribution to your local community of women religious. Help us tally the total amount pledged by recording your pledge amount here.

6. Pray - Now and on May 29th
Pray for the sisters on your own and organize a prayer service in your parish or small faith community on May 29th, during Pentecost week, when LCWR begins its meeting. A sample prayer service is available to use.



And yet another episcopal coverup


People were told to meet in front of the sign at the USCCB for the first D.C. vigil in support of the LCWR. This is what they saw.  Sympathetic USCCB employees said the sign was covered because of the vigil.

URL Alleluia


After stinging report, Pope softens tone for U.S. nuns

Philip Pullella      May 18, 2012


Pope Benedict on Friday held out an olive branch to American Roman Catholic nuns, who are reeling from a stinging Vatican report that criticized them as being feminist and politicized.


"I wish to reaffirm my deep gratitude for the example of fidelity and self-sacrifice given by many consecrated women (nuns) in your country," he said in an address to visiting U.S. bishops.


In a reference to the malaise felt by many American nuns after the report issued last month, he said he hoped that "this moment of discernment will bear abundant spiritual fruit for the revitalization and strengthening of their communities in fidelity to Christ and the Church ..." 

Read more


Girl Scouts Under Scrutiny From Catholic Bishops

David Crary      May 10, 2012


Long a lightning rod for conservative criticism, the Girl Scouts of the USA are now facing their highest-level challenge yet: An official inquiry by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

. . . .

The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops' Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts' "possible problematic relationships with other organizations" and various "problematic" program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.


The bishops' conference provided a copy of

  the letter to The Associated Press, but otherwise declined comment.

Read more


New Girl Scout Promise

On my honor

Thank the Girl Scouts on Twitter  


Attack on Girl Scouts shows current law isn't working

Joan Chittister      May 16, 2012


This month, it was the Leadership Conference of Women Religious that bishops were concerned about. Before that, it was Catholic Charities in the United States. Then it was Caritas, the church's umbrella organization for the coordination of international charity. And now it is the Girl Scouts. Each of them has been curtailed, "investigated" or put in some kind of canonical receivership because of their reputed lack of orthodoxy on sexual issues or because of association with other groups that, according to the bishops, have the same problem. And all of that in the face of the sex abuse debacle of the church itself, still to be resolved, never monitored, and totally closed to outside investigation.


The question is, Where has all this energy for empirical destruction come from in a church now projecting its own serious problems with sexual issues onto everything that moves?

. . . . 

Under Pacelli, law became the power of the church; the Gospel, its victim.  For the first time in history, the Vatican took sole control of episcopal appointments, extended "infallibility" to "definitive" statements like encyclicals and gave the pope the right to declare on universal issues without the advice and consent of episcopal conferences, synods or councils. It was a recipe for monarchical control. And it worked.

. . . .

The American tradition comes out of a commitment to freedom of speech, freedom of thought and democratic participation in the political process, which, admittedly, the Vatican has always suspected; indeed, has never liked. To ask Americans to take on not simply a European or Eastern European or Asian or African approach to "obedience" or governance or women, but a medieval one at that, is asking for what no law can provide. It is easy, of course, to force obedience; but, never doubt, it is impossible to force belief.


The effects here are beginning to show, as they did in Pacelli's Europe. The second-largest religious denomination in the United States, after Catholic, is now ex-Catholic.

. . . .

Maybe the Vatican needs to go back to the approach of the loving John XXIII or the patient Paul VI.  Maybe we ought to try the Gospel again, the one that understands people who lift their work animals out of a ditch on the sabbath, or get caught in adultery, or are shunned because of their leprosy, or decide that circumcision is only one culture's sign of commitment, not theirs, or are the wrong sex, as was the Woman at the Well, to preach the Word of God.

. . . . 

The results cannot possibly be worse than the ones we're getting. But one thing's clear. I know my own problem now: I was a Girl Scout.

Read more


Open letter to the U.S. bishops: Let's not be a laughingstock, OK?

Robert Blair Kaiser      May 18, 2012


Back in the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas warned his fellow scholars about taking positions that brought ridicule upon the church. "Ne fides rideatur," he said. Literally, "Don't let the faith be laughed at."


Last week, we learned the U.S. bishops were launching an investigation into the supposedly subversive activities of our Catholic Girl Scouts.

. . . .

Only a few weeks ago, we were laughing over the news that our bishops are investigating the doctrinal purity of our religious sisters, the most admired Catholics in the land. Who of us is not hooting this week over something even sillier, this latest attempt by our bishops to swoop down, Taliban-like, on our Girl Scouts?

. . . .

What appalls me most about (Bishop Kevin) Rhoades is he seems ignorant of the relatively recent history of Vatican II, when the papal birth control commission had its meetings. I suspect that what he knows of the council, which began when he was 5 years old, is what Pope John Paul II and Benedict XVI wanted him to know of it, which is to say, not much. 

. . . .

The best thing about Vatican II: It reversed centuries of Catholicism's standoffishness toward "the world." . . . . 

I was covering the council for Time magazine, and at a session of the American Bishops' Press Panel later that day, I remember trying to understand the implications of this "new stance toward the world." I asked the panel of theologians, "Does this mean that Catholics can, for example, start working together with all kinds of organizations (not necessarily Catholic), like Planned Parenthood, for instance?"


I will never forget my sense of euphoria when almost everyone in the room applauded the reply of Francis Connell, a moral theologian from the then quite rigid Redemptorist Order. He said he didn't see why not.


I think it is important that we, the people of God, including our bishops, study up on Vatican II, now approaching its 50th anniversary. Folks were not laughing at us then.


[Robert Blair Kaiser has just republished his history of the papal birth commission and its aftermath, The Politics of Sex and Religion, as an ebook. It is available for free.]

Read more


Cleveland Church Reopenings: Parishioners 'Anxious And Edgy' As Process Drags

Michael O'Malley      May 18, 2012


It's been nearly a month since Bishop Richard Lennon announced he would reopen 12 closed churches, but so far no shuttered sanctuaries have been resurrected.


As they wait, parishioners from some of the moribund parishes have begun organizing committees in preparation for the reopenings, which the diocese says are in process, although there's no official timetable.

. . . .

"The complex process of appointing clergy leaders for the affected parishes has been moving forward steadily since the April 17 announcement and continues on a daily basis," diocesan spokesman Robert Tayek said.


But so far, no assignments have been publicly announced, frustrating some parishioners eager to return to their churches.

. . . .
Lennon leans strongly toward having priests -- not nuns or lay administrators -- running parishes. Given the scarcity of priests, some Catholics are wondering where Lennon is going to get 12 new pastors.  Read more


Prince of Peace student pushes to overturn bishop's decision

Katie Dahlstrom    May 8, 2012


Prince of Peace Catholic High School senior Keaton Fuller won't be recognized by the foundation that awarded him a $40,000 scholarship at his school's award ceremony because the group's support of gay and lesbian rights contradicts with the teachings of the Catholic Church.

. . . .
Fuller received the scholarship for his scholastic achievement and work reducing homophobia in his school and community as an openly gay student.

. . . .

The Diocese of Davenport issued a press release stating a staff member of Fuller's choice would present the scholarship at the awards ceremony.  According to the press release, Bishop Martin Amos Lee of the Diocese explained to Randy and Patricia Fuller that the Diocese has a policy barring a member of an organization which promotes a message "contrary from the teachings of the Catholic Church" to give a school presentation.

Read more


Diocese, gay teen reach a compromise

Todd Erzen      May 12, 2012


A compromise has been reached between the Diocese of Davenport and an openly gay Catholic high school student in Clinton honored with an award by a gay advocacy group.


The Des Moines-based Eychaner Foundation that is providing Prince of Peace Catholic School senior Keaton Fuller with a $40,000 Matthew Shepard scholarship has prepared a script to be read at a May 20 graduation ceremony with the blessing of Bishop Martin Amos.


The diocesan superintendent of schools will read the script, but a representative from the foundation's scholarship committee will be there to physically hand a statue to Fuller.

Read more


Do Most Catholic Theologians Support Same-Sex Marriage?

 Matthew DeLuca      May 11, 2012


Cardinal Timothy Dolan said he found President Obama's announcement that he supports legalizing same-sex marriage "deeply saddening." But some Catholic theologians and writers say he doesn't speak for them.

 . . . .

Among the theologians who say the bishops are in the wrong is Paul Lakeland, a professor of religion and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, a Catholic university in Connecticut. "That's not really an argument that has a theological justification," Lakeland said of the church's opposition to same-sex civil marriages. "It's an argument that's based more on fear or repugnance."


"There is a lot more to be said about these issues than one stream of words from the hierarchy," Lakeland said.

. . . .

"This is not a partisan issue, but a matter of justice, fairness, and equality for the law to uphold every child's basic right to be welcomed and raised by his or her mother and father together," Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, chairman of the USCCB's subcommittee on the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, said in the statement.  

. . . .

Cordileone's position is dead wrong, says Daniel Maguire, a theologian and Marquette University professor who has written on church teaching and sexuality. Maguire said the interpretation of church teaching held by Dolan, Cordileone, and other bishops isn't representative of the position held by many lay Catholics and theologians.

. . . .

"Most Catholic theologians approve of same-sex marriage and Catholics generally do not differ much from the overall population on this issue," Maguire said.

. . . .

Frank Parella, a professor of theology at Santa Clara University, a Catholic institution in California, said he sees growing support for same-sex marriage among his Catholic students, and that he himself finds "nothing in the Gospels" that should lead the church to oppose its legalization. 


Read more


Küng misses Vatican II celebration

Tablet     May 17, 2012


Theologian Hans Küng has turned down an invitation to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council at the German Katholikentag at Mannheim, held from tomorrow until Sunday.

. . . .
"I was honoured to receive the invitation but is one really in the mood to celebrate at a time when the Church is in such sore distress?" Fr Küng asked in his four-page reply. "In my opinion there is no reason for a festive Council Gala but rather for an honest service of penance or a funeral service," he said.

Read more



Vatican denounces leaks of papal correspondence, documents as 'criminal,' promises justice

Nicole Winfield     May 19, 2012


The Vatican on Saturday denounced as "criminal" a new book of leaked internal documents that shed light on power struggles inside the Holy See and the thinking of its embattled top banker, and warned that it would take legal action against those responsible.
. . . . 

The publication Saturday of "His Holiness," by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, added fuel to the fire, reproducing confidential letters and memos to and from Benedict and his personal secretary which, according to the Vatican, violated the pope's right to privacy.


Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi said in a statement Saturday the book was an "objectively defamatory" work that "clearly assumes characters of a criminal act." He said the Holy See would get to the bottom of who "stole" the documents, who received them and who published them. He warned the Holy See would seek international cooperation in its quest for justice, presumably with Italian magistrates. 

Read more


Niagara bishop who disappeared amid abuse case found in Montreal

Ishani Nath      May 19, 2012


More than two years after his sudden resignation and disappearance amid a growing sex-abuse scandal in his diocese, a former leader of Niagara-area Roman Catholics has been found in Montreal, located by a private investigator, according to reports.


Bishop James Wingle, 65, was photographed on April 27 after a church function outside the Marine-Reine-du-Monde Cathedral in downtown Montreal, wearing a clerical collar, the St. Catharines Standard newspaper reported. The former head of the St. Catharines Roman Catholic Diocese was served with notice of a civil lawsuit related to the sexual abuse.


Donald Grecco, a former priest in Welland, Ont., and Cayuga, Ont., plead guilty in March 2010 to sexually abusing three altar boys between 1978 and 1986. Victim Mike Blum came forward in 2005, during Bishop Wingle's leadership, and told the church about the abuse. He later went to police.


Lawyers trying to find Bishop Wingle hired a private investigator, according to the Standard, to bring the bishop out of hiding to face lawsuits claiming that as the head of the diocese, he didn't do enough to help victims such as Mr. Blum.

Read more


Pope defrocks Roman Catholic bishop convicted of child pornography

Michael Tutton      May 16, 2012


The Pope has defrocked a Roman Catholic bishop who was convicted earlier this year of importing child pornography into Canada.


The Holy See in Rome has stripped Raymond Lahey of his clerical duties in what is one of the most serious penalties that the Roman Catholic Church can impose, the Diocese of Antigonish, N.S., said Wednesday.

. . . .

Archbishop Richard Smith, the president of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Lahey's actions have left the Catholic community deeply wounded.

. . . .

In January, Lahey was sentenced to 15 months in jail and two years of probation after he was caught at the Ottawa airport in September 2009 with hundreds of pornographic images of young boys on his laptop and a handheld device.


But because Lahey was given double credit for the time he served in custody before his sentencing, he was released on probation upon conclusion of his trial.


Smith said Pope Benedict XVI has also ordered Lahey, 71, to continue his daily prayers.


"The Holy Father has chosen not to release him from that obligation, to make sure he continues to pray ... in reparation for the sin and the scandal that's been caused by this," the Edmonton-based bishop said.

Read more


Catholic Church braced for new child sex abuse scandal in Republic of Ireland

Ralph Riegel      May 9, 2012


The Catholic Church is bracing itself for another potential child abuse scandal, with a file to be sent to the Republic of Ireland's Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) about allegations of physical and sexual abuse at a boarding school.


Colaiste an Chroi Naofa in Carraig na bhFear in Cork -- which was formerly run by the Order of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart (OMSH) -- is the focus of a garda probe into abuse complaints lodged by almost 20 former pupils.

. . . .

Three men have been arrested as a result of the complaints.

. . . .

A file will now be sent to the DPP within the next two months for a decision on what action, if any, will result.

The garda probe is running in parallel with a Health Service Executive probe into complaints levelled against the school.

Read more


Under-fire cardinal suffers snub from his own priests


Garry O'Sullivan      May 18, 2012


Cardinal Sean Brady has suffered a new blow after the majority of priests in his diocese snubbed a meeting organised as a show of support for the embattled leader of theCatholic Church in Ireland.

Just 20 of 150 priests in the Armagh Archdiocese invited to attend a prayer gathering in support of Dr Brady actually showed up -- with many privately voicing concerns about his leadership.

The poor turn-out at the meeting is the most overt response by rank-and-file priests to new allegations surrounding Cardinal Brady's handling of abuse allegations made against notorious paedophile Fr Brendan Smyth.
. . . .

As well as disquiet over Dr Brady's role in the Smyth affair, other factors also played a part in the poor attendance, according to priests in the diocese.


Priests in Armagh who were contacted complained of low morale.

One said he felt that the poor turnout "was a sign that priests of the diocese are very fed up. Many are just doing their own thing because they think it is rudderless at the top."

Read more


Church lawyer: Philly cardinal, aides lied to me

Maryclaire Dale      May 14, 2012


A Roman Catholic cardinal and his top aides lied to their lawyer about shredding a key piece of evidence in the Philadelphia clergy-abuse scandal, the lawyer testified Monday.

Lawyer Tim Coyne was looking for an internal list of 35 suspected predator-priests for a 2004 grand jury investigation. He asked Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and four top aides where to find it.

. . . .

No one told him that Bevilacqua had ordered the list shredded in 1994, shortly after Monsignor William Lynn, his secretary for clergy, compiled it. 


"Everyone who I spoke to said they didn't know where it was and they didn't have a copy of it," Coyne testified Monday.


"Everybody lied to you?" Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington asked.

"That's fair," Coyne said.  

. . . .

Yet a surviving copy surfaced at the archdiocese early this year - 10 days after Bevilacqua died.  

Read more


'Never admit there are other cases,' Msgr. Lynn was told

John P. Martin    May 15, 2012


In 1991, Msgr. William J. Lynn wrote a memo outlining his interview with a man who said he had been molested by the Rev. Michael McCarthy, a longtime teacher at Cardinal O'Hara.


But Lynn made a mistake, at least in the eyes of his boss at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Lynn had told the accuser that his was not the first complaint against McCarthy.


"Unnecessary statement," the Rev. James E. Molloy, then the assistant vicar for administration scrawled in the margins of the memo. "Never admit to victims that there are other cases."

Read more


Church ignored complaints on Philly priest until donor complained about rival business

Associated Press     May 15, 2012


Documents from a clergy-abuse trial show Catholic church officials ignored complaints a Philadelphia priest had molested two boys until they heard he was also running a travel business - and competing with a big donor.


The documents involving defrocked priest Michael McCarthy come as the prosecution details how the archdiocese handled abuse complaints against about 20 priests. They were never charged with crimes because authorities didn't know about the complaints - kept in secret, locked archives at the archdiocese - for years.

. . . . 

Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua promoted McCarthy the next year to lead a parish in Norristown. Before long, a travel agent whose husband had donated $25,000 to the archdiocese complained about McCarthy running a travel business that had robbed her of parish bookings.


And priests were complaining about McCarthy's temperament, and about sexually-charged speech, underwear catalogs that came in the mail and gay pornography found in his bedroom. While McCarthy was away, a raid of sorts turned up pornography and a homoerotic poster on his wall.

Read more


The Truth About the Philadelphia Archdiocese, Child Sex Abuse by Its Priests, and Its Latest Missteps

Marci A. Hamilton     May 17, 2012


The most developed record in the country of a cover-up of child sex abuse by an entire Roman Catholic diocese now exists in Philadelphia.  Why?  Because recent Philadelphia prosecutors have proactively sought the truth, even when it was far from flattering to the diocese's hierarchy.  For an elected official, that takes guts.  Fortunately, both former District Attorney Lynne Abraham and current District Attorney Seth Williams have plenty of guts.


The Philadelphia Archdiocese is being unmasked, day by day, as an institution that operated in such a way as to endanger children.  . . . .  Each and every day of the trial-which already has lasted six weeks, and is expected to last up to three months-the prosecution further peels back the diocese's veneer, exposing it as a truly horrific place for children.  Recently, it has also added to its profile of callousness by re-victimizing the victims it had a hand in creating.

. . . .  

Jurors are hearing evidence of the hierarchy's pressuring nuns and priests to keep silent if they learned about a child abuser or pornographer, and evidence about the hierarchy's sending pedophile priests to "treatment centers" and then putting them back in active ministry, even when the diagnosis the priest had received was spine-chilling. 

. . . .

At least the public is learning, in digestible bits and pieces (rather than the 600 pages of grand jury reports that have already been published), the truth, which is that the Archdiocese has been callous toward children and victims, unerringly protecting its own.  

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Texas: Ex-Priest Found Guilty of Soliciting Murder

Associated Press    May 18, 2012


A Dallas County jury has found a former Roman Catholic priest, John F. Fiala, guilty of plotting the death of a man who accused him of sexual abuse. Mr. Fiala could be sentenced to up to life in prison for solicitation of capital murder. Prosecutors said that Mr. Fiala tried to hire a neighbor's brother to kill the man who accused him of abusing him in 2008, when the man was 16 and Mr. Fiala was at a West Texas parish. His lawyer argued that he had no true intention of having his accuser killed.



Popular Priest Fathered Child and Says He'll Step Aside

Laurie Goodstein         May, 15  


A telegenic American priest, widely known for his media commentary from Rome on popes, prayer and personal morality, has publicly acknowledged having an affair and fathering a child - the latest jolt to hit his scandal-torn religious order, the Legionaries of Christ.

The priest, the Rev. Thomas D. Williams, apologized in a statement on Tuesday "for this grave transgression" and "to everyone who is hurt by this revelation." He said he would take a year off from public ministry to reflect on his transgressions and his "commitments as a priest" - a decision he said he made with his superiors.

. . . .

Father Williams said in the statement issued by the Legion that his relationship occurred "a number of years ago." The Associated Press and The National Catholic Reporter broke the news on Tuesday after learning of allegations made by a Spanish association of Legion victims about multiple sexual improprieties by Father Williams.


Father Williams, who joined the Legion in 1985, was ordained a priest in 1994, and rose to become superior of the Legion's general directorate in Rome. He is the author of many books on spirituality, including "Knowing Right From Wrong: A Christian Guide to Conscience," and "The World as It Could Be: Catholic Social Thought for a New Generation."


In recent years, he taught ethics and Catholic social doctrine at the Regina Apostolorum Pontifical Athenaeum, a Legion university in Rome, and served as a Vatican analyst for NBC, CBS and Sky News in Britain. During the funeral for Pope John Paul II and the conclave that elected Pope Benedict XVI, he was often seen on American television.


"He was the face of the church at the time of the conclave," said Susan Gibbs, the spokeswoman at the time for the Archdiocese of Washington and now a media consultant for Catholic organizations. "He really helped people understand how the church worked."

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Vatican official: Secretive order knew for months about priest scandal

Philip Pullella      May 16, 2012


Leaders of the scandal-plagued Legionaries of Christ religious order knew that their most famous priest had fathered a child for many months before they acknowledged it this week, a top Vatican official told Reuters on Wednesday.

. . . .

The question left hanging was how long the order's leaders knew about Williams's secret life and why they continued to let him preach, teach and appear on television around the world, particularly in the United States.


"I found out about it this year," Spanish Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, who was appointed by Pope Benedict in July, 2010 to oversee the restructuring of the order, told Reuters in a telephone conversation from his home. 


"I found out about it this year," Spanish Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, who was appointed by Pope Benedict in July, 2010 to oversee the restructuring of the order, told Reuters in a telephone conversation from his home.  
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I'm not quitting the Catholic church

E.J. Dionne     May 14, 2012


Recently, a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation ran a full-page ad in The Washington Post cast as an "open letter to 'liberal' and 'nominal' Catholics." Its headline commanded: "It's Time to Quit the Catholic Church."

. . . .

My, my. Putting aside the group's love for unnecessary quotation marks, it was shocking to learn that I'm an "enabler" doing "bad" to women's rights. But Catholic liberals get used to these kinds of things. Secularists, who never liked Catholicism in the first place, want us to leave the church, but so do Catholic conservatives who want the church all to themselves.


I'm sorry to inform the FFRF that I am declining its invitation to quit. They may not see the Gospel as a liberating document, but I do, and I can't ignore the good done in the name of Christ by the sisters, priests, brothers and lay people who have devoted their lives to the poor and the marginalized.

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Franciscan University of Steubenville drops student health plan over HHS mandate

Ben Johnson      May 15, 2012


Catholic religious leaders have warned that religious institutions may be forced to stop providing health care coverage if the Department of Health and Human Services does not change its mandate to provide contraceptives, including abortifacients, as part of their health care plans. Today, the first Catholic university has followed through by dropping its health care plan for students. The Franciscan University of Steubenville announced it will not furnish students with health care coverage effective this fall, specifically citing the HHS mandate as the reason.
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Lefebvrians: The internal battle

Andrea  Tornielli    May 10, 2012


website has reported on the letters exchanged a month ago between bishops Tissier de Mallerays, Alfonso de Gallareta, Richard Williamson and the leader of the Society of St. Pius X, Bernard Fellay. The letter which the three bishops sent Fellay on 7 April contains a final appeal asking the superior not to sign the doctrinal preamble or accept the agreement proposed by the Holy See.

. . . .

The three bishops wrote against Fellay: "Doctrinal discussions have proven that it is impossible for an agreement to be reached with Rome at the moment" because "after the Second Vatican Council the Church's official authorities  separated themselves from the Catholic truth and now they seem determined, as before, to remain faithful to conciliar doctrine and practice."

. . . .

Ten days later Fellay responded with an equally long and articulate letter.  . . . .  "The Pope has let us know that legitimising our position for the good of the Church is a concern that lies at the very heart of his pontificate," the Fraternity's superior wrote. Benedict XVI "was well aware of the fact that it would have been easier for him and for us to leave things as they were."

. . . .

What is the significance of these letters and, above all, can they interfere in the process that is currently under way? It would seem not. Instead, they illustrate the well known fact that profoundly different positions exist within the Society of St. Pius X. The decision has been made but it will take another day or so before the cardinals' and the Pope's final decisions are announced. Everything, however, points to the likelihood of an agreement being announced by the end of May. Only then will it become clear as to whether and in what way other bishops will comply. 

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Rome to deal singly with SSPX four

Tablet      May 17, 2012


The Vatican yesterday announced that it has decided to deal on a case-by-case basis with the four bishops of the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), or Lefebvrists, thus significantly changing the method it has used until now.


The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith indicated in a communiqué that it would continue unity discussions with Bishop Bernard Fellay, the SSPX superior, but it said it would now have to deal "separately and individually" with the other three SSPX bishops.

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Vatican settles with Benetton over pope-kissing ad

Alessandro Speciale     May 15, 2012


The Vatican announced on Tuesday (May 15) it had settled a lawsuit against Italian clothing group Benetton for using an image of Pope Benedict XVI in one of its advertisement campaigns.


The image had been modified to show Benedict kissing Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed El-Tayeb, imam of Cairo's renowned al-Azhar Mosque.

. . . .

The Benetton group "publicly recognized it had hurt the faithful's sensitivity," and that "the pope's image must be respected and can only be used with the prior authorization of the Holy See," he added.


Lombardi also stressed that the Vatican chose not to seek any economic compensation in the settlement but requested a "moral reparation" in the form of a "small but effective" donation to a Catholic charity.

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Mobster's body exhumed from Vatican site in search for teen who vanished

Barbie Latza Nadeaur      May 15, 2012


The body of a mobster buried among cardinals and bishops on a Vatican property has been exhumed in an investigation into a teenage girl's disappearance.


Investigators at the church of Sant'Apollinare in central Rome opened the tomb of Enrico "Renatino" De Pedis on Monday in the search for clues about what happened to Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a prominent Vatican employee.


The 15-year-old vanished without a trace after leaving her Vatican apartment for music lessons on the afternoon of June 22, 1983.

. . . .

Meanwhile, an anonymous caller told police that Emanuela was kidnapped to keep her father, Ercole Orlandi, quiet.


That caller said Ercole Orlandi had stumbled upon sensitive documents that tied banker Roberto Calvi to an organized crime syndicate. Calvi was known as "God's banker" for his close association with both the Holy See and its primary banking facility, Banco Ambrosiano.

. . . .

In 2005, another anonymous call to an Italian detective said Emanuela was kidnapped on the orders of the then-vicar of Rome, Cardinal Ugo Poletti, and that "the secret to the mystery lies in a tomb in Sant'Apollinare basilica" -- specifically De Pedis' tomb.
Read more


Vatican Appoints New Toowoomba Bishop

Fidelis Rego      May 15, 2012


The Vatican has appointed a new Bishop for the Toowoomba diocese on southern Queensland's Darling Downs.


Monsignor Robert McGuckin is a senior member of the Parramatta diocese in western Sydney.


He will replace William Morris, who was forced to retire last year over comments he made about married priests and the ordination of women.


His removal caused anger in sections of the Catholic community, with some priests arguing Bishop Morris had not been given the right to defend his comments.

Read more


Personal Ordinariate to be established in Australia

Independent Catholic News     May 13, 2012


The President of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Archbishop Denis Hart,  has announced that Pope Benedict XVI intends to establish a Personal Ordinariate for Former Anglicans in Australia,  commencing on 15 June  2012. 

. . . .

This new community will have the status of a diocese and will be known as the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of the Southern Cross under the patronage of St Augustine of Canterbury.  

Read more


No more official religion for Norway 

QMI Agency      May 15, 2012


Norway is distancing itself from its Christian past. The Storting -- the country's Parliament -- will amend the constitution so that the state no longer has an official religion, ending the 1,000-year tradition of the Church of Norway.


A parliamentary committee report presented Tuesday contains a unanimous recommendation to have the state permanently separate from the church.

. . . .

The government will no longer have a minister of churches, and the state will no longer be responsible for the appointment of bishops and deans.


Instead, Norway will treat all religions and philosophies equally.

. . . .
The Church of Norway is evangelical Lutheran and says on its website around 86% of the population are baptized members. 
Read more


France Will Have New Denomination with Protestant Merger

ENI News      May 16, 2012


After years of preparation, a new Christian denomination will be formed this week in France when two synods meet in the eastern town of Belfort, a location historically important in the growth of Protestantism.


The Reformed Church of France (ERF) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of France (EELF) are merging to form the United Protestant Church of France. The new entity will be a reality after the churches' synods meet from May 17-20, said Pastor Laurent Schlumberger, president of the ERF's national council.

Read more


Vatican board asked to resign over conference

Nicole Winfield     May 9, 2012


Members of the Vatican's bioethics advisory panel have called for its board to resign after scientists who don't support core church teaching on issues like birth control and infertility were featured at its annual conference.

The members said the Pontifical Academy of Life's Feb. 24 conference on diagnosing and treating infertility was a "Planned Parenthood-like meeting" that caused great scandal. They were upset because it was a Vatican meeting open to the public yet "consisted in promoting uncritically what the church teaches to be intrinsically bad."

. . . .

It was the second time the academy has come under fire from its members for its speakers' list this year.  In March, it hastily canceled a stem cell research conference whose speakers included scientists whose work involves human embryonic stem cells, which is opposed by the church. The academy said too few sponsors and participants had signed up to take part.


And in 2010, the academy's membership rebelled against its then-president, Monsignor Renato Fisichella, over his less-than-condemnatory comments about abortion. He was soon replaced.

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Bill Cleary RIP

Burlington Free Press      May 8, 2012


William Cleary died Thursday, May 3, 2012, in Pillsbury Manor, South Burlington. He is survived by his wife, Mary Francis "Roddy" O'Neil Cleary; two sons, Tom and Neil; foster daughter, Ry Nguon; and siblings, Thomas H. Cleary, Catherine Scharle, Margaret Dittmann and Daniel Quiery. Bill was born Dec. 12, 1926, in Detroit, Mich. 

He served in the Navy from 1944-1946, entered the Jesuit order in 1947 and studied at Saint Louis University. He spent 22 years as a Jesuit, teaching literature, music and drama. In 1964, while teaching at Sogang University in Seoul, Korea, he wrote "Chun Hyang Song", a musical comedy based on a Korean folk tale. It was revived for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and again in 2006 at Seoul's Co-Ex Theater. 

In the late 60's in New York City, he founded the Jesuit Writers Agency and co-founded Billy Budd Films, writing and producing educational short films. In 1969, he left the Jesuits and married Roddy. They settled in Vermont in 1976, opening Hopkins Bookshop at 136 Church St. in Burlington. 

A prolific songwriter, Bill composed seven musicals and many other original songs; he also authored twelve books along with countless articles and book reviews. He was a vibrant member of the Burlington community and one of the founding members of Green Mountain Habitat For Humanity. 

He and Roddy opened their home to a number of refugees, students, relatives and people in need. Most of all, he was well-loved for his wit, warmth, compassion, deep spirituality and joyful irreverence. 

A memorial in his honor was held on Saturday, May 12, 2012, at 2 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Society. Funeral arrangements by Steven C. Gregory & Son. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to
Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity,
300 Cornerstone Drive, Suite 335,
Williston VT 05495.



New Translation of the Roman Missal 


O Lord, who are the author of ever-living life... 

Adam Wood      May 15, 2012 


O Lord, who are the author of ever-living life, and the source of all wonder and mystery, bless, recognize, and approve these words, these clauses, these holy and undefiled enunciations, we humbly pray, both dependent and independent, which we offer you first of all on behalf of your Church, that by the anticipation of their conclusions, long forestalled by the mysterious work of your servants who, holding to the truth, handed them to us, and by the sincere searching for their venerable antecedents, we, though pitiable in our ignorance and darkened by the stain of sin, may come circuitously to the understanding of that enlightening grace by which you make your miraculous salvation known to all who speak, hear, and rightly understand the sacredness of these, your most holy and auspicious words.   




1.  Misguided Missal


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


3.  PrayTell blog


4. Louisville Liturgy Forum



What kind of ecclesiology?

Rev. James Dallen


I see it [the new Missal translation] subtly communicating a view of Church, the Counter-Reformation institutional model, that threatens the ecclesiology of communion that is central to both the letter and the spirit of Vatican Council II.  

. . . .

Liturgy remains the area where tensions between differing ecclesiologies are most deeply felt. How this latest challenge will play out over time remains to be seen. But the kind of ecclesiology the new translation presents is unacceptable. 

Read entire article


James Dallen, a priest of the diocese of Salina, Kansas, has his doctorate in liturgical and sacramental theology from The Catholic University of America.  He is emeritus professor of religious studies at Gonzaga University, Spokane, Washington, where he specialized in liturgy, sacraments, and ecclesiology.




Upcoming Events 


A Retreat for Spiritual Activists

Pentecost Weekend May 25 - 27, 2012 

Occupy Christianity, A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity.  Join Matthew Fox and others May 25 - 27, 2012, Boston, MA - Adelynrood Retreat Center, Byfield, MA.  

It is said that "the prophet is the mystic in action;" The goal of this retreat is to develop the mystic and prophet in all of us to carry on the important work of reimagining and rebirthing religion and spiritual community for the 21st century.  

To Register:

Questions: 510.835.0655


AUSCP's Inaugural Assembly:  Vatican II Lives!  

June 11 - 14, 2012

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





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