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The Death of Vatican II

 Marian Ronan 


There's nothing original about arguing that many of the hopes generated by the Second Vatican Council have been dashed. Leonard Swidler speaks of the "devastating disappointment" of the Council. Rembert Weakland observes in his 2009 memoir that the decision not to ordain women meant "the loss of the future." Indeed, papers recently released by the Catholic moral philosopher Germaine Grisez reveal that even before the end of the Council, Paul VI indicated that he would do what he would do regardless of what the bishops had decided.


All this notwithstanding, recent developments suggest that the Vatican and the US bishops are now intent upon bringing the Vatican II era definitively to a close. These efforts began, I would argue, with the 2002 command that the faithful return to the (literally) medieval practice of kneeling during the canon of the Mass. Even as I regret the sexism of Mark Massa's The American Catholic Revolution, I agree with his observation that for most US Catholics, Vatican II began with the renewal of the liturgy. I can still see the nun who taught religion at my Catholic girlsʼ high school during Vatican II, Sister of Notre Dame de Namur Marcella Marie Missar, explaining joyously that "we stand during the canon out of respect for the dignity of the human person." I wish I could believe that we have been ordered to fall to our knees once again to increase our
respect for God rather than for the male leaders of the church. 


If kneeling during the canon was one step in the Vaticanʼs campaign to bring the Vatican II era to a close, the "new" translation of the Roman Missal is clearly another.  That the translation is ugly, wordy, cumbersome and inaccurate is only part of the story.  As the once-conservative Benedictine liturgist, Anthony Ruff, argues, another purpose of the Vatican veto of the translation the bishops had already approved was to show the entire community of English-speaking liturgists that their work didnʼt matter. Nor, apparently, do the beliefs of the English-speaking Catholic laity, who took from Vatican II the bizarre notion that they share some kind of equality with the clergy. "And with your spirit" reminds us, however, that the ordained possess a sacred quality the rest of us do not.

Another discouraging effect of the "new" translation is that before it was promulgated, a number of main-line Protestant denominations shared with the Englishs peaking Catholic Church certain responses and other fixed parts of the 
example, "And also with you." Many of us considered these shared liturgical passages a foretaste of the eventual reunion of Christians--a foretaste now eradicated. 


Recent doctrinal statements issued by the Vatican and the USCCB manifest another break with Vatican II. Unlike the previous twenty councils of the church, Vatican II defined no doctrines and issued no anathemas. It was a truly pastoral event.  Documents like the recent Vatican assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the USCCB condemnation of Elizabeth Johnsonʼs Quest for the Living God show that the men in power are accelerating the new era of anathema begun in 1968. "The joys and hopes, the griefs and sorrows" of the men and women of this age recede precipitously as doctrinal truth becomes, once again, the center of the Catholic faith.   


In the face of these attempts to move the church back to the First Vatican Council, and especially the vile CDF attack on the Catholic sisters who embody the faith for many of us, itʼs tempting to give up on the whole sorry business. To decamp to the Unitarian Universalists, or the United Church of Christ, or the Episcopalians, whose stances on women and gays and peace and justice are vastly more inspiring than those of our own church seem to be.  


As I argue in a recent post on Religion Dispatches, however itʼs likely that this is exactly what the Vatican and the USCCB have in mind-to drive out the "Vatican II Catholics" and cut back to what Pope Benedict XVI has called "the church of the little flock," the smaller, purer Catholic Church that tolerates no dissent, no theological development, no renewal. 


In the face of this attempt to eradicate the most powerful manifestation of Vatican II-the people of God-I urge us all, myself included, not to take the bait and give up. Instead, let us continue to identify ourselves as Catholics in whatever ways our consciences allow-as members of parishes where the leadership clearly does not support Vatican repression; as members of small faith communities who ordain their own celebrants or celebrate the eucharist communally; as ordained or lay participants in an RCWP congregation; as members of Independent Catholic churches; as leaders and activists in a wide range of Catholic reform groups like SEPA-WOC and ARCC and Call to Action and Dignity and Voice of the Faithful. And let us invite younger Catholics, gay and straight and Black and white and Latino and in between to join with us in these efforts. Letʼs collaborate and speak out and pub Letʼs collaborate and speak out and publish and resist the death of Vatican II to which Rome and the bishops seem committed. Let a billion Vatican II blossoms bloom.

Marian Ronan is Research Professor of Catholic Studies at New York Theological Seminary. She blogs at article first appeared in EqualwRites, the newsletter of the Southeast Pennsylvania Womenʼs Ordination C



Some things we have been reading  


Pentecost message from the Pfarrer-Initiative

Ingrid Shafer     July 2012


When I visited the website of the Austrian Pfarrer-Initiative a little while ago, I was deeply touched by a powerful message by one of the courageous priests involved in this movement.  I decided to translate it, and post it in this dormant blog. There are aspects of the original that cannot be fully conveyed in English. It is, for example, addressed to a "Jubilarin" -- a female celebrating an event, such as a birthday (in both German and Latin the word "church" (ecclesia) is feminine).  The anonymous author captured what I consider the essence of the true church as reflecting into the world God's radical, unconditional, all-embracing love. 


Dear birthday honoree,

Every year at Pentecost, we celebrated your birthday.  At this time, all over the world,  your friends get together in large and small groups. They look back at the varied periods of your life. They tell each other of the violent storms at the time of your birth. They recall  your baptism of fire and the enthusiasm of your early years.

I will now join the large crowd of your well-wishers. Far into your old age you have never lost sight of the life task that had been placed into your cradle:  to proclaim the Gospel to all, to offer them support and comfort, to keep them from losing hope. Thank you for this! However, with due  respect to your accomplishments, I cannot remain silent about the sorrow you are causing me at the present.

Frankly, I am worried about you. You have become pale and colorless. Your heart no longer wants to do its part. Often I notice that you are suffering from certain visual impairments and are increasingly becoming hard of hearing. You barely notice how many of your friends are turning back in disappointment, and you no longer listen to the voices of those who offer advice and assistance.  


Therefore, my esteemed honoree, I ask you to determine to undergo intensive treatment. Consider your motto of which I am so fond: "Ecclesia semper reformanda" - the Church should always renew herself! 

Read more


After the Fortnight

America Editors     Jul.30 2012


The Fortnight for Freedom, a series of public activities sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opposing infringements on religious freedom, concluded on July 4. The immediate impact of the campaign, however, remains unclear. Reportedly only some 70 of the nation's 198 dioceses announced programs and activities for the fortnight. In some, little attention was paid to the effort; in others it was energetically promoted.   

. . . .

In recent years Catholic institutions have made defensible moral compromises to deal with state and local health-insurance mandates. Abroad, other bishops' conferences have likewise responded to similar secular challenges without apocalyptic appeals. More attention should be paid to preparing creative, alternative responses before the church finds itself saving face by shutting doors, a response a few bishops have threatened. That outcome would be unfair to the millions who have come to rely on church institutions and one surely undesired by President Obama no less than by most bishops. 

Read more


5 Ways Churches Get Preferential Treatment and Benefit from Legal Loopholes

Rob Boston     Jul.27, 2012


Many conservative religious leaders insist that houses of worship in America today struggle under intense persecution. To hear some of the Catholic bishops tell it, religious freedom may soon be a memory because they don't always get their way in policy debates.

  It would be highly ironic if the United States, the nation that perfected religious liberty and enshrined it in the Constitution's First Amendment, had become hostile to the rights of religious groups.


But that's not what's happening. In reality, U.S. law is honeycombed with examples of preferential treatment and special breaks for religion

. . . .

Here are five ways American law extends protections and preference to houses of worship.


1. Tax Policy

Tax exemption is given to a variety of religious and secular groups, but in the case of houses of worship, they get one huge advantage: They are tax exempt by mere dint of their existence.  . . . .

2. Criminal Investigations 

The sentencing of Catholic cleric Msgr. William J. Lynn of Philadelphia to three to six years imprisonment for knowingly covering up evidence of clerical abuse of children by priests captured national headlines - because it was so unusual.  . . . .

3. Political Lobbying

Non-profit groups that want to lobby Congress in Washington, DC, are subjected to strict rules. There are limits on the amount of lobbying these groups can do and the amount of money they can spend on such efforts.  . . . .  Religious groups are exempt from all of this. Have you ever wondered how much money the Catholic hierarchy spends lobbying against abortion or marriage equality in DC? Too bad, because the bishops aren't required to tell anyone.  . . . .

4. Employment Law

People who work for houses of worship and ministries have little protection when it comes to being summarily fired from their jobs. This is to be expected with clergy, but the law seems to be moving to a place where even people in clerical positions and other slots without specific religious duties can be let go at will.  In the secular workforce, laws protect whistle-blowers from retaliation. These laws don't apply to religious groups in many cases.   . . . .

5. Ceremonial Uses of Religion

Government is supposed to be neutral on matters of theology - in theory. In reality, the government leans on religion pretty frequently, especially for ceremonial purposes. In the process, it creates a symbiotic relationship and a climate of preferential treatment that similarly situated secular groups don't get.  . . . .

Read more


Conscience and Contraception Sign On Letter

170 law professors      Aug.1, 2012




We are law professors concerned about the Constitution, religious freedom, individual liberty, and gender equality. Today, the egalitarian notion that every American deserves to enjoy religious freedom is under attack from those who would cede employees' religious-liberty rights to corporate executives and nonprofit directors. In this cramped and one-sided view of religious freedom, supervisors are entitled to decide, based on their religious sentiments, whether their employees will be permitted to enjoy essential health benefits without the slightest concern for their religious beliefs. In particular, advocates claim that the Constitution gives all employers the right to veto their employees' health-insurance coverage of contraception.


This view, which is espoused by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and others, is both wrong as a matter of law and profoundly undemocratic. Nothing in our nation's history or laws permits a boss to impose his or her religious views on non-consenting employees. Indeed, this nation was founded upon the basic principle that every individual--whether company president or assistant janitor--has an equal claim to religious freedom.


Nor does religious freedom provide a constitutional entitlement to limit women's liberty and equality, which are protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. Throughout the 1960s, religious leaders advocated laws banning contraception because they believed contraception was immoral. Nonetheless, in 1965 the Supreme Court held that contraceptive use enjoys constitutional protection in Griswold v. Connecticut. Moreover, the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that women enjoy the same health and reproductive freedom enjoyed by men.


Women's liberty and equality are well-settled constitutional law and must remain so. Just as the Court ruled in 1983 in Bob Jones that the free exercise of religion may not override government policies against racial discrimination, today free exercise must not undermine women's liberty and equality.


The diminishment of women's liberty and equality will be the result if organizations claiming a religious affiliation are granted an exemption from the Obama administration's policy requiring all employers to provide contraceptive insurance to their employees.

Read more


A Response to Bishop Leonard Blair's Comments Referring to Me

Michael H. Crosby, OFMCap     July 2012


In early June, 2012 Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo posted a video on the Toledo Diocesan website quoting me. He also wrote virtually the same comments in his "Bishop's Corner" column, June 8, 2012 in the Toledo Catholic Chronicle. The video went viral and his print comments were reported in diocesan papers throughout the country, including my own Archdiocese. Until now I have not responded to them. However, given the widespread but unilateral way his references have been disseminated, I believe it is important for me to respond.

. . . .

While I will continue to endeavor to practice the truth in love in order to build up our church (see Eph. 4:15) and will continue to seek genuine on any theological and disciplinary differences in our church, I cannot, in my informed conscience, retract the words Bishop Blair
quoted from me. I deeply believe that the governance model of the Trinitarian God must be replicated in the structures of the Church of Jesus Christ if it is to be perfected in the way God is Perfect Trinity. This demands non-discrimination among persons at every level, non-domination in all our relationships (including the way authority is exercised in our church structures) and non-deprivation of women from having full access to all the sacraments in our Church, just as men. Fidelity to the Gospel of the Reign or Rule the God--whose governance reveals it to be a Triune Community of Equals sharing all in common--demands no less. The integrity of this Trinitarian God is at stake.

Read more

This article also appeared in NCR on July 24.


Bishop Explains Vatican's Criticism Of U.S. Nuns

Joshua J. McElwee      Jul.25, 2012


One of the three bishops appointed to oversee the group which represents the majority of U.S. women religious took a hard line Wednesday towards the Vatican's criticism of the organization, saying the sisters are "promoting, unilaterally...a new kind of theology that is not in accordance with the faith of the church."


Toledo, Ohio, Bishop Leonard Blair, who was appointed with Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain and Springfield, Ill., Bishop Thomas Paprocki in April to oversee the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) made the comments Wednesday during an extended interview on the popular public radio program "Fresh Air."

Listen    Transcript 

Read more


Sister news


The bishops as juggernaut

Robert McClory     Jul.30, 2012


I do not understand what is going on in the upper echelons of the Catholic church.


It seems that there's a new radical theology of obedience being foisted on us. I am alarmed, and I believe you should be, too. The presentation by Bishop Leonard Blair during his lengthy discussion with Terry Gross on public radio regarding the LCWR takeover runs contrary to what hundreds of thousands of Catholics have come to believe about their faith and their right to be treated as adults. Blair and presumably the other bishops who will be working with him in an effort to rein in these rebellious, free-thinking sisters are taking the church to a dark place where submission to episcopal teaching is expected to be automatically accepted -- always and without exception.

. . . .

I have rarely been so embarrassed to be a Catholic as I was while listening to the one-note presentation by Bishop Blair. Where are the thoughtful bishops who know what's going on here? Where are the thoughtful Catholic theologians who have been writing and talking about the rights of conscience, the sense of the faithful and the reception and non-reception of doctrine in Catholic universities, books and articles for years? Is all that destined to be run over and crushed by the juggernaut that confronts the LCWR? And who after that? This not a time for polite silence. 

Read more


More than a hint of hypocrisy

Tom Roberts     Jul.31, 2012


The recent interview of Bishop Leonard Blair by Terry Gross, host of NPR's "Fresh Air," provided an interesting and revealing contrast to that of Sr. Pat Farrell, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, who was interviewed the week before. A certain inevitability hangs over this bishops vs. nuns clash, occurring as it is at the end of a long, historic arc that, since the mid-'60s reform council called Vatican II, has placed these two groups on course to a collision.


Listening to the two interviews was like listening to the ecclesial version of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus. Their language, what they view as important, what their lives are spent doing are so incredibly different that one has to wonder if any conversation, never mind dialogue, could be possible without an interpreter.

. . . .

While the bishops view the nuns as in need of supervision and have accused the nuns of "betraying core values of the church" and causing "scandal to the faithful," Gross asked if there wasn't a bit of hypocrisy in those allegations, if the same charges might apply to "the institutional church that appears not able to reform itself and to be in the need of outside supervision." 

Read more


Vatileaks, And Why Young People Should Care

Dan Horning      Jul.30, 2012

. . . .

Many stopped going to church altogether, the final straw in a faith life that has been dominated by overzealous bishops and priests, doctrinal discipline over pastoral understanding, and a lack of space for young people to bring fresh ideas to the table. Now this episode confronts the faithful. The same men who are entrusted with our pastoral wellbeing, our spiritual salvation, are bickering and backstabbing over money and power, over which one of themselves they will select to be the next Pope or who will be awarded a crony contract.


In spite of all this, there is a candle in the darkness. If there has ever been a need for young people to step up and become part of the solution, now is that time. This is just a case study of the trust vacuum that exists in society today. Look at Congress. Look at the Presidential race. Look at Wall Street and the big banks. The people leading these institutions are part of the problem; new leadership is needed.


That means us. That means people our age need to step up and fight back. It means speaking with our wallets, taking money out of crony banks that cheat borrowers, and churches that spend money on €500,000 Nativity scenes instead of the poor and dying. It means voting, in annual elections and parish council meetings. It means being active, not being an armchair activist, ranting on Facebook and Twitter. It means fighting corruption in every corner that is infiltrated.

Read more


New S.F. archbishop appointed by pope

Matthai Kuruvila     Jul.27, 2012


The Vatican on Friday named a prominent religious official who has been a leader in the fight against same-sex marriage as San Francisco's new archbishop, the latest in a string of conservatives to lead Catholics in one of the country's most liberal areas.


Salvatore Cordileone, 56, organized religious leaders and helped raise significant sums of money to get Proposition 8, the 2008 initiative that banned same-sex marriage in California, on the ballot and spoke forcefully in support of it. He is also chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage.  

Read more


Pope completes third volume of book on Jesus

AFP     Aug.2, 2012


Pope Benedict XVI has "in recent days" completed the third volume of his trilogy "Jesus of Nazareth", devoted this time to the childhood of Christ, the Vatican announced Thursday.


"Translation into various languages, directly from the original in German, has begun," the Holy See said in a statement. The aim is to publish the book simultaneously in several languages, but the Vatican gave no release date for "this important and awaited text".

Read more


Pope drafting new encyclical?

CWN    Aug.3, 2012


Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State, has added to speculation that Pope Benedict XVI is writing a new encyclical for the Year of Faith.

. . . .

Pope Benedict has produced 3 encyclicals during his pontificate. Along with his social encyclical Deus Caritas Est, which appeared in 2005, he has also written an encyclical on hope (Spe Salvi, 2007), and an encyclical on charity (Caritas in Veritate, 2009). A new encyclical on faith, completing the trio the theological virtues, would be perfectly timed for the Year of Faith that the Pope has proclaimed, which begins in October.

Read more


Elite Peruvian university stripped of Catholic credentials

David Kerr    Jul.21, 2012

 The Vatican has announced it is stripping the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru of its Catholic identity after the elite university repeatedly refused to comply with the Church's requirements for colleges.

. . . .

Today's move follows months of discussions between both sides, which began after a 2011 Vatican inspection of the university carried out by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest. He traveled to Peru, where he found the Lima-based institution at odds with the Catholic Church in several significant areas of policy.  

. . . .

The July 21 Vatican statement concluded with the promise that "the Holy See will continue to monitor the situation of the University" in the hope that the academic authorities will reconsider their position "in the near future."

Read more


Peru university challenges the Vatican on name change

AFP     Jul.26, 2012


One of Peru's top Catholic universities has announced it will continue to call itself "Catholic" and "Pontifical," despite a Vatican decree aiming to strip the titles after decades of ideological tension.


Lima's Pontifical Catholic University of Peru will preserve its title as long as the institution "considers it relevant," said university director Marcial Rubio.


"Any decision on the matter is under the authority of the university's governing bodies," Rubio added.

Read more


Peruvian university worries Opus Dei behind dispute with Church

Mitra Taj     Aug.1, 2012


 One of Peru's top universities says it thinks maneuvers by the conservative Roman Catholic group Opus Dei are behind the school's high-profile falling out with the Vatican.

. . . .

Efrain Gonzales, vice rector of the university, claims the archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Luis Cipriani, has tried to meddle in the university's affairs.

"Monsignor Cipriani ... is the most well-known cardinal of Opus Dei, and obviously everyone knows Opus Dei has a political agenda," Gonzales said. "We think this is part of the plan they have. So of course the archbishop uses all of his influence to take control of this very good university."

Cipriani, who holds the largely ceremonial post of grand chancellor of the university, is one of only a couple of Opus Dei priests who have been promoted to cardinal. 

Read more


Archbishop of Ljubljana transferred for allegedly concealing fatherhood

Giacomo Galeazzi     Jul.27, 2012


The Slovenian mystery has been solved. Archbishop Uran has been punished by the Vatican not for his involvement in a financial flop but for his infraction of the celibacy rule.


Now the prelate-father will move to the northern Italian city of Trieste. The Vatican has ordered Mgr. Alojz Uran, Archbishop of Ljubljana, from 2004 to 2009 to leave Slovenia because of all the rumours going round about him breaking his celibacy vows and fathering two children, now adults, neither of whom he recognises as his. "This is a temporary measure to calm public opinion until the question is resolved," stated Andrej Saje, spokesman for Slovenia's bishops, on Ljubljana's public television.

. . . .

The former archbishop will be welcomed in one of Trieste's ecclesiastical institutions. The Slovenian press reported that the Vatican has ordered the prelate to leave his country as soon as possible, at the latest by the end of the year, but it is unclear which part of the Canon Code exactly he has broken. Newspapers are speculating that he is involved in a financial scandal but they do not exclude a child kept secret or an internal clash between Slovenian prelates as the reason. The news has sparked the interest of the media partly because the Holy See rarely decides to take such drastic punitive measures against its bishops, but especially because the underlying reasons for the decision remain unclear. The retired prelate was apparently informed of the decision by the Congregation for Bishops.

Read more


Losing Faith: Abuse, Cover-Up and the Catholic Church with Fr. Thomas


A former Vatican insider shares details of the sex-abuse epidemic.


Having reached extraordinary heights in the Catholic Church and served in the Vatican embassy with the sexual abuse epidemic, Fr. Thomas Doyle turned away from the religious order in response to the spiraling and far-reaching cover-up. Privy to some of the most sensitive dealings of the church, Fr. Thomas provides us with a very rare perspective on the abuse, response and cultural framework that allowed it to happen and continues to minimize the impact on the victims.


Fr. Thomas names names as to who he feels are directly responsible, and shares with us how the sordid affair has changed his own spiritual relationship to the church.

 Losing Faith: Abuse, Cover-Up and the Catholic Church with Fr. Thomas Doyle on MM45



Vatican's Decision Not To Remove Connecticut Priest May Play Role In Abuse Trial

Dave Altimari     Aug.4, 2012


The Vatican's refusal to let the Norwich diocese remove an accused pedophile from the priesthood is expected to play a role in the upcoming trial involving a New London woman who says the priest molested her when she was 12.


Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger received the Norwich request days before being elected pope in 2005. It's unclear, though, if Ratzinger himself decided against laicizing Father Thomas Shea, who was accused of molesting as many as 15 girls at 11 different parishes throughout the Diocese of Norwich in a career that started in 1953.

One of accusers, using the pseudonym Jane Doe, sued the diocese in 2008 alleging that Shea made her perform oral sex on him while he was pastor of St. Joseph's Church in New London.


As a priest in good standing, Shea was being paid by the diocese a pension of about $15,000 annually and all of his health insurance costs, including his nursing home bills.

Read more


Msgr. Persico will succeed  Trautman as Bishop of Erie  

CourierExpress     Aug.1, 2012


The Rev. Msgr. Lawrence T. Persico was appointed as the 10th bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Erie by Pope Benedict XVI Tuesday.

Persico will succeed Bishop Donald W. Trautman and will be ordained and installed as bishop during a Mass at St. Peter Cathedral in Erie Monday, Oct. 1.

Read more


Romney unveils leaders of Catholic outreach team

Daniel Burke     Jul.31, 2012


Likely GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney unveiled the leaders of his Catholic outreach team today - with some prominent names on the list.


The national co-chairs of "Catholics for Romney" are:

  • Frank Shakespeare (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1986-1989)
  • Tom Melady (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1989-1993)
  • Ray Flynn (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 1993-1997)
  • Jim Nicholson (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2001-2005)
  • Francis Rooney (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2005-2008)
  • Mary Ann Glendon (U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See 2008-2009)

Read more


Catholics Share Bishops' Concerns about Religious Liberty

But Catholic Voters  Back Obama on Social Issues

PewForum      Aug.1, 2012


Catholics who are aware of U.S. bishops' concerns about restrictions on religious liberty generally agree with the bishops' concerns. Yet the bishops' protests against government policies they see as restrictive of religious liberty have not drawn much more interest among Catholics than among the general public. And there are no significant differences in the presidential vote preferences between Catholic voters who have heard about the bishops' protests and those who have not.

. . . .

However, while most Catholics who are aware of the bishops' protests agree with their concerns, about half of Catholic voters (51%) say Barack Obama best reflects their views on social issues such as abortion and gay rights; 34% say Mitt Romney best reflects their views on these issues. Obama's lead on social issues among Catholics is about as wide as his lead among all voters (50% to 36%). 

Read more


Victim, former priest accuse Archbishop Carlson of child abuse cover-up

Leisa Zigman     Jul.26, 2012


A victim of child abuse in the 1980s and a former priest made stunning allegations Thursday regarding St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson.


The allegations center on Archbishop Carlson playing an active role in the cover-up of child sex abuse cases when he worked in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis.

Since his installation in 2009, the Archdiocese of St. Louis has painted Archbishop Carlson as a staunch protector of children from abusive priests.

But Thursday, in St. Paul, Minnesota, Jim Keenan lashed out at Archbishop Carlson who was a bishop at the time Keenan was abused by his parish priest. The abuse allegedly occurred in the 1980s.

. . . .

Documents from the 1980s show Bishop Carlson never mentioned contacting police regarding Adamson. 

Read more


Retired Priest Speaks Out On Alleged Child Abuse, Church Cover Up

Edgar Linares     Jul.26, 2012


A retired Winona priest is coming forward after allegations of child abuse were tossed out by the Minnesota Supreme Court on Wednesday.


Retired Fr. James Edward Fitzpatrick of Diocese of Winona says he knew for decades his church had covered up allegations of abuse by victims.


"It's a matter of conscience," Fitzpatrick said. "It's been bothering me for years."

Read more


Prosecutors side with SNAP in Mo. records case

Associated Press     Jul.27, 2012


Several prosecutors are siding with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests in urging the Missouri Supreme Court to block an order requiring the group to release certain records.


The issue stems from lawsuits against a Roman Catholic priest by accusers who say they repressed memories of begin abused decades ago. A lawyer for the priest argues documents could raise doubts about such memories and whether a gag order was violated.


SNAP wants the high court to block a trial judge's order that it provide records.

Read more


Prosecutors to seek life term for priest

The Columbia Tribune     Aug.3, 2012


A Roman Catholic priest in Kansas City pleaded guilty yesterday to producing child pornography in a federal case that also led to charges against the diocese bishop for failing to report suspected child abuse, and prosecutors said they would recommend that he be sentenced to life in prison.


The Rev. Shawn Ratigan, 46, had been scheduled for trial later this month. He was charged with producing child pornography in May 2011 after police received a flash drive from the priest's computer that contained hundreds of images of children, most of them clothed, with the focus on their crotch areas. Prosecutors alleged he photographed girls, sometimes under their skirts, in and around churches where he had worked in the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph.


Under terms of the plea deal, Ratigan pleaded guilty to four counts of producing child pornography and one count of attempting to produce child porn. Eight other counts against him were dismissed. 

Read more


Police to allege senior Catholic priests concealed sexual assaults

Joanne McCarthy, Linton Besser     Jul.31, 2012


NSW Police will give prosecutors evidence that three of the most senior members of the Catholic Church allegedly concealed the sexual assault of young girls in the Hunter Valley, in a landmark case that could expose the church to a new wave of criminal prosecution.


One of three people of interest in Strike Force Lantle is the general secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Father Brian Lucas, who is alleged to have been aware of the actions of the paedophile priest Denis McAlinden as far back as 1993 but failed to report him to police. The others are Archbishop Philip Wilson of Adelaide, who wrote to police yesterday to formally decline to be interviewed, and the retired Bishop of Maitland-Newcastle Michael Malone. From 1993 to 1995 the three had roles in internal moves against the priest, including an attempted ''speedy'', secret defrocking in October 1995 because of the evidence against him.


The church failed to report the matter to authorities until 2003, after victims notified the police and were paid compensation.

Read more


What if the Catholic Church Responded to Its Sex Scandal The Way the NCAA Did to Theirs?

Mike Rivage-Seul     Jul.28, 2012

. . . . 

But what would it have looked like if (impossibly!) the Catholic Church had responded like the NCAA?

If it had done so:

-           Pope Ratzinger would have resigned immediately.

-           All cardinals and bishops who had covered up the scandal would have been removed from office.

-           The canonization process for John Paul II would have been terminated, because of the way he down-played the sex scandal. This would be the equivalent of removing Joepa's statue.

-           An investigation independent of the Vatican would have been launched headed by an unimpeachable figure -- say the Dali Lama, perhaps joined by Sr. Pat Farrell, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) which is currently being investigated by the Vatican.

-           Upon completion of its investigation (assuming it would have reached conclusions similar to the one in Ireland), the commission would have:

  • Fined the Catholic Church $500 billion -- the equivalent of one year of the R.C. church income.     . . . .
  • Removed from the list of genuine popes all those whose public crimes made them unworthy of the title "Vicars of Christ."    . . . .
  • The exclusion of women from the priesthood would be reversed, and seminary scholarships would be extended world-wide to women desiring to receive Holy Orders.  . . . .
  • Mandatory celibacy would of course be set aside as a requirement of the priesthood -- and a major contributor to the issue at hand.  . . . .
  • A reforming Church Council (Vatican III?) would be ordered to deal with the sex abuse and related problems -- to be attended only by bishops not involved in the abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up. Their places would be taken by women elected by national bodies equivalent to the LCWR in the United States.   . . . .

Read more


Is God Laughing or Crying?

John Chuchman    July 2012


Statue Removal

  Statue removal


Know of another Institution

that may need to remove

some statues?



meanwhile, the Catholic Church . . .




Penn State was fined

for valuing Football

more than the abuse victims;

We never so valued football . . .



'Plans' don't include sale to gay couple

Dianne Williamson     Jul.26, 2012


It's bad enough that the Catholic Church discriminates against gay people. But it's poor form - and possibly illegal - to document the bigotry and then mistakenly email it to the victims. 

This embarrassing etiquette lapse occurred as James Fairbanks and Alain Beret were pursuing the purchase of Oakhurst, a 44-bedroom mansion in Northbridge, owned by the Diocese of Worcester. Fairbanks and Beret had searched for two years for the perfect renovation project, and hoped to turn the run-down estate into a banquet facility. Previously, the pair had transformed mansions in Vermont and Barre into similar businesses. 

 . . . .

In early June, the pair was notified that a $240,000 sprinkler system would have to be installed. Concerned that the deal might fall through, the diocese's broker suggested the men make a smaller counter offer for the mansion and some of the land, rather than the full 24 acres. So the men made a revised offer of $550,000 for the mansion and six acres, assuming everyone would be satisfied. 

They were wrong. The next day, they received a brief email from the diocese's broker, LiSandra Rodriguez-Pagan, saying that the diocese decided to pursue "other plans" for the property. 

. . . .

This week, Monsignor Thomas Sullivan, who oversees the sale of diocesan property, told me the deal fell through because of financing. 

. . . .
I told him the potential buyers believed that he rejected the deal because of their sexual orientation, or the prospect of gay marriages someday being performed at Oakhurst. Was that an issue? 

"No, it wasn't," Msgr. Sullivan said. "It was an issue of them not having the financing. That was all."   

. . . .

As noted, if you're going to discriminate, you should cover your tracks. Inadvertently attached to the email rejecting the counter offer is an email from Msgr. Sullivan to the diocesan broker: 

"I just went down the hall and discussed it with the bishop," Msgr. Sullivan wrote. "Because of the potentiality of gay marriages there, something you shared with us yesterday, we are not interested in going forward with these buyers. I think they're shaky anyway. So, just tell them that we will not accept their revised plan and the Diocese is making new plans for the property. You find the language." 

Read more


Change the Church?

David J. O'Brien     Aug.13, 2012

 . . . .   

Few things would better serve the needs of the church than an enthusiastic, self-confident, engaged Catholic lay movement to keep the faith and change the church. Toward that end I make a series of appeals:


1. Ask in the church the political questions you would ask in any other public forum. Who is in charge and how did they get there? What is the relationship between power and authority? Are we depending on the good will of an individual bishop or pastor, or are we building systems that express shared values and common objectives?


2. Say yes to all invitations to genuinely shared responsibility. Catholics do need to work together, and there is no virtue in opposition. Say yes when our parish or diocese tries to find structures of decision-making that mirror the body of Christ and when we are invited to help make parish and diocesan pastoral councils more effective. Say yes when boards of Catholic agencies doing good work need assistance.


3. Say yes to independent associations. You will be asked to choose: parish councils or school advisory boards, Voice of the Faithful or Call to Action? If you are a priest, your choice may be between the presbyteral council and an independent forum for priests. The answer is a Catholic both/and, not either/or. Cooperation and negotiation work well when participants are genuinely empowered. There are such things as premature, incomplete and phony collaboration. Parish and diocesan pastoral councils will improve when priests, pastoral staffs and laypeople are better organized and better understand their distinct vocations.


4. Make a preferential, but not exclusive, option for the laity. Think lay. Ask what each church decision or proposal means from the point of view of ordinary lay men and women. Pastoral care in our society requires dialogue, communication, relationships of mutual trust and understanding. Any layperson, for example, could explain that having two priests visit a family to determine whether their claim of clerical sexual abuse is valid is not a good idea. The lay viewpoint is vital.


5. Think about the church as it is on a Wednesday morning at 10 rather than on a Sunday morning at 9. The church is the people of God, the body of Christ, the very presence of Christ in this particular time and place-all the time, not just when people gather at the church. The test of Christian discipleship is the life we live. Catholics everywhere should recapture an idea once identified with Chicago Catholicism: that ministries, structures and prayers should be appropriate to the Catholic community, since its people are scattered in workplaces, households, neighborhoods and public squares.


6. Recognize lay holiness and talk about it. According to Vatican II: "It belongs to the laity to seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and directing them according to God's will. They live in the world, that is, they are engaged in each and every work and business of the earth and in the ordinary circumstances of social and family life, from which, as it were, the very web of their existence is woven" ("Dogmatic Constitution on the Church," No. 31).


7. Affirm and ask the help of laypeople who work for the church. Talk to lay ministers, sisters and deacons. Ask yourself: Are they paid well? Do they have good working conditions, access to adequate resources, a place at the table when pastoral policies and priorities are established? If not, why not? They are not mini-priests, after all. If they were organized, and if they would work with like-minded groups, that could make a difference.


8. When you get discouraged, think mission. The why of our church is as important as the what. Our piety and practice, our ministries and offices, are supposed to serve the mission, the purpose, the work of the church. If Jesus came to make known the meaning of life and history, and if after Pentecost Jesus lives on in his church, then there is great work to be done. We can only do it together. Our mothers and fathers sought for us education and material resources so we could have choices they never had. They did not expect us merely to maintain the church and hand it on, but rather to use our freedom and power to keep the faith and, if necessary, change the church so we could change the world the way God would want it changed. In a time of crisis fand preserving trust begins with simple encounters, like the ones used in the interfaith organizing process. Changing the church begins with getting to know each other well enough to work together to make our church, to make us, the presence of Christ. Our rootless young people have a deep hunger for friendship. It is a gift of grace in our churches, mosques and synagogues. As we work toward church reform, let us look for leaders who genuinely like people. As we do, we may witness a renaissance of pastoral life. All the rest will follow. In that spirit let us do the best we can to keep the faith and change our church.or church leaders, we have to help one another keep that hope alive.


9. The church is all about people. It is a voluntary organization, as our children keep proving to us, that works through persuasion, not coercion. Many of our past problems came about because we did not trust each other. 

Read more


Vatican's doctrine chief: Pius X Society must accept Vatican II teachings

David Kerr     Jul.24, 2012


Although the new head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is optimistic about reconciliation with the Society of St. Pius X, he says that the teachings of the Church - including the dogmatic content of the Second Vatican Council - will never be up for re-negotiation.

. . . .

As prefect of the Congregation, Archbishop Muller is also the President of the Pontifical Commission "Ecclesia Dei," the Vatican body responsible for dialogue with the Society of St. Pius X.

The commission is currently awaiting an official reply from the society to an offer of reconciliation that would give the traditionalist group Personal Prelature status within the Church. In return the society would have to accept a "Doctrinal Preamble" proposed to it by the Congregation, including full adherence to the dogmatic content of the Second Vatican Council.
Read more


"Reform of the Reform" Scholar Leaves Vatican

Anthony Ruff, OSB     Jul.27, 2012


As reported in Katholisches - Magazin fur Kirche und Kultur, a close coworker of Pope Benedict XVI in the "reform of the reform" of the liturgy, Fr. Uwe Michael Lang, has ceased his duties within the Vatican and returned to his religious order, the Oratory, in London.

Fr. Lang, a native of Germany, was born in 1972. He joined the Catholic Church in 1997, joined the Oratory of St. Philipp Neri in Vienna in 1999, and has belonged to the London Oratory since 2002. The Oratorians in England and Vienna (unlike those in Germany) promote the pre-Vatican II Latin Mass.


Fr. Lang was first called to the Roman curia in 2007, and has worked in the Congregation for Divine Worship since 2008, when Pope Benedict named him a consultor for the office of liturgical celebrations of the Pope. Since 2008 he has taught at the papal university of the Legionaries of Christ in Rome, Regina Apostolorum, and in the year 2011-2012 he also lectured at the Papal Institute for Christian Archeology in Rome.

Read more


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


How Do You Solve the Problem of Translation?

  PrayTell Blog   Jul.30, 2012


At the NPM convention, as always, there was a festive breakfast Thursday morning at which awards and scholarships were given out.


Here's this year's "opening hymn" (so to speak) at the breakfast, compliments of Alan Hommerding from WLP. Sing it to get the full effect.



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.




Ed. notes


For those who had difficulty accessing the Flaccid 'Fortnight for Freedom' fizzles for fathers article in the last ARCC News, try this URL .


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