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Some things we have been reading 


Pope Emeritus Benedict's health 'has deteriorated'


Nick Squires      Apr.10, 2013


Benedict, 85, who made history by becoming the first Pope since the Middle Ages to voluntarily step down, has looked increasingly frail in his few public appearances since his resignation on Feb 28.


He appeared particularly unsteady when he was visited by his successor, Pope Francis, at Castel Gandolfo, the summer papal residence outside Rome where Benedict has been staying since his departure from the Vatican.


Paloma Gomez Borerro, a veteran Vatican correspondent from Spain, claimed that "Benedict is in a very bad way. In the last 15 days he has undergone a tremendous physical deterioration."

. . . .

Vatican insiders said her claim that Benedict had deteriorated sharply in the last 15 days was overly "alarmist", but conceded that in the last few months he had become weaker. 

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U.S. Catholics wowed by Pope Francis -- for now


Cathy Lynn Grossman       Apr.3, 2013


He has been Pope Francis less than a month but the keep-it-simple prelate from Argentina is a wow with American Catholics - so far.


However, the tables may turn on Francis once media attention moves from his no-fuss style to his substantive actions, said a Vatican expert Wednesday.

. . . .

Francis' favorable score was measured in a survey of 1001 Americans including 193 Catholics conducted March 28-31. That's just two weeks into his papacy while the media is still cooing about how he lives humbly, pares down Vatican pageantry and devotes the substance of most talks to serving the poor.
. . . . 

Right now, opinion on Francis may rest on his novelty, [Thomas]Reese said.. . . .


Soon, however, he'll begin making appointments and issuing statements that may not please so many Americans. Reese said U.S. Catholics will be watching:

-- What will Francis do about last year's controversial crackdown on the leadership of U.S. nuns?

-- Will he continue Benedict's tight watch on theologians?

-- What qualities will he look for in the bishops he names?

-- Can he bring transparency, efficiency and integrity to the bureaucracy of the church, known as the Curia?


It can take even a pope years to shift the medieval structure of the Curia because, as Reese said Wednesday "How do you fire a cardinal" in a structure modeled on a centuries-old nobility? In the old days, Reese quipped, "You didn't fire princes or dukes, you assassinated them. You poisoned them. But we don't do that any more."

. . . .
Yet, Reese sees opportunities for success for Francis' message of stepping up to serve the poor.




"Young people are attracted to action for justice. They see that in Francis and they see he is authentic." 


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Impending wardrobe change?






Pope chooses Franciscan leader as Secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for religious
Gerard O'Connell       Apr.6, 2013

In his first significant appointment to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis has taken the highly unusual step of naming the actual head of a religious order, Fr. José Rodríguez Carballo, as Secretary of the Vatican's Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated life and the Societies of Apostolic Life (formerly known as 'The Congregation for Religious').


When the Pope chose him, the 59-year old Spanish priest was Minister General or head of the largest group of the Franciscan family - the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), which has some 15,000 friars in 113 countries. He was first elected to that post in 2003, and re-elected for another six-year term in 2009 as head of an order that is contracting in Western Europe and North America, holding steady in Latin America, and gaining vocations in Asia, Africa and Eastern Europe.


The Vatican broke the news of Father Carballo's appointment on April 6, and said Pope Francis has raised him to the rank of archbishop.


Born in Lodoselo, Spain in 1953, Carballo did his early studies in schools run by the Franciscans in that country and, in 1973, was sent to do biblical studies in Jerusalem. 


After being ordained priest in Jerusalem in 1977, he gained degrees in Biblical Theology in the Holy City and a further degree in Sacred Scripture from Rome's Biblical Institute. In the following years he held increasingly high posts of responsibility in the Franciscan order in Spain and, in 2003, was elected Master General of the worldwide order.

Read more 


Fr. José Rodríguez Carballo's letter to all the brothers of the Order upon his appointment by the Holy Father:



More than just "media folklore": Jon Sobrino, SJ on his hopes for the new pope
Concha Lago      Mar.16, 2013

. . . .  In a very clear but politically incorrect discourse, he [Jon Sobrino] assails the spectacle of the election of a new pope. "The sumptuous display was shocking, far from the simplicity of Jesus," he says. And, without mincing words, he states that "Bergoglio, Superior of the Argentinian Jesuits during the years of the worst repression of the civic-military genocide, had a falling out with the Popular Church which was committed to the poor. He was no Romero," Sobrino stresses.


You've dismissed the papal election as "media folklore."  . . . .   Is that bad? 

No. None of that was bad, but it didn't say anything significant about who was going to be the next pope, what joys and problems he would have, and what cross he was going to bear...Yes, the lavish display, far from the simplicity of Jesus, was shocking. And I sensed a certain boastfulness in the organizers as if to say that everything is going well. When that perfection also expresses power, I usually call it the ministry of apotheosis.  


But not everything was folkloric.
No. There was something not folkloric even from the first day. I'm talking about the simple garments of the pope, the small cross on his chest without gold, or silver, or shining jewels, his prayer in which, bowing, he asked the people [to bless him] before blessing them. These are small but clear signs. Let's hope they grow into big signs and go along with his mission. His simplicity and humility were evident. 

. . . .

These days, you've spoken with people who know Bergoglio up close.
Yes. I'm not an expert on the life, work, joys, and sufferings of Bergoglio. And so as not to fall into any type of irresponsibility, I've tried to connect with individuals in Argentina, whom I won't quote, above all those who've had direct contact with him.  . . . . 

His austerity has been highlighted.
Also, they remember him for his boundless interest in communicating to others his convictions about the Society of Jesus, an interest which could become possessiveness, even to the point of demanding loyalty to his person. Many recall his austerity of life, as a Jesuit, archbishop, and cardinal. Examples of this are his residence and his proverbial travelling by bus. When he was bishop, many priests remember how he was close to them and how he offered to stand in for them in their parish work when they needed to go away to rest. The austerity of life was accompanied by a real interest in the poor, the indigenous, trade union members who were attacked; this led him to firmly defend them in the face of successive governments. Moral issues have been very dear to him, and certainly abortion, which led him to directly confront the president of the country.


Did they recall his option for the poor?
In all that, one can appreciate his specific way of making an option for the poor. Not in actively going out and risking himself in their defense during the time of repression of the criminal military dictatorships. The complicity of the church hierarchy with the dictators is known. Bergoglio was superior of the Jesuits in Argentina from 1973 to 1979, during the years of major repression of the civil-military genocide. 


Are you talking about complicity?
It doesn't seem fair to speak of complicity, but it seems correct to say that in those circumstances Bergoglio distanced himself from the Popular Church which was committed to the poor. He wasn't a Romero -- celebrated for his defense of human rights and assassinated while exercising his pastoral ministry.   

. . . . 

However, he also has a pronounced solidarity side.
Yes. On the other hand, since 1998, as archbishop of Buenos Aires, he has accompanied the poorly treated sectors of the big city in various ways -- and with concrete deeds. One eye witness talks about how, on the first anniversary of the Cromagnon tragedy [when a fire during a rock concert took the lives of 200 young people], Bergoglio was present and forcibly demanded justice for the victims. He used prophetic language at times. He denounced the evils that grind the flesh of the people and he named them specifically: human trafficking, slave labor, prostitution, drug-trafficking, and many others. For some, perhaps the greatest virtue and the greatest strength for carrying out his present papal ministry is that Bergoglio is a man who is open to dialogue with the marginalized from their suffering. He has gone along decisively with church processes on the margins of the Catholic Church and processes that are happening at the edge of legality. Two significant examples are the deanery of slum priests in marginal neighborhoods and his support for priests who are going about without a worthy ministry.  


What awaits Pope Francis?
God only knows. The new pope will have thought well about what awaits him and about what he ought to do, what he will be able to and what he wishes to do. Now we could enumerate some tasks which appear important to us here in El Salvador and which could be important for everyone in the Church.  

. . . .  

What's the most urgent one?
The first -- I believe the greatest dream -- is to make John XIII's dream a reality: The Church is in a special way the Church of the Poor. This didn't succeed in the hall of Vatican II, and so about forty bishops met outside the hall and in the Catacombs of Saint Domitila signed the manifesto which has been called the Pact of the Catacombs.
. . . .

And what can you tell me of the problems that are shaking up the church and that appear in the media?
The second dream is to face the known constellation of problems inside the organization of the Church which are waiting to be solved. For example, the urgent reform of the Roman Curia. It's also necessary that the members of the Curia should preferably be lay people. Likewise it's important that Rome let the local churches choose their pastors. That all the symbols of power and worldly honor should disappear from the papal environment, and certainly that the successor of Peter stop being a head of state, since this would have made Jesus ashamed. It's necessary that the whole Church see the present separation of the Christian faiths as an offense against God. We must ask the Pope that Rome resolve the problem of Catholics whose first marriage failed and who have found stability in a second union. And, of course, priestly celibacy should be reconsidered. 


You don't neglect other classic demands either.
I do have three other concerns. On the one hand, that once and for all we fix the untenable situation of women in the Church. Also that we stop undervaluing, and at times despising, the indigenous world -- the Mapuche of South America and all those the pope will get to know in his travels through Africa, Asia, and Latin America. And, of course, that we learn to love Mother Earth.

All this with a firm commitment that has to do a lot with what has happened these days.
Yes. The commitment ought to be that the new pope on the balcony of St. Peter's and the millions in the square not become a great actor -- the Pope -- and mere box-office spectators -- the faithful. Read more

(English translation by Hermano Juancito and Rebel Girl)




Francis: Women have 'special role' in church
CNS, NCR staff     Apr.3, 2013

Women have a unique ability to share the Catholic faith because of their penchant to experience love and share it with others, Pope Francis told a crowd of some 50,000 during the second general audience of his pontificate Wednesday.

Speaking to those gathered in St. Peter's Square for the event, Francis mentioned the role of women in the church several times, even stating that their presence in the Gospel account of Jesus' resurrection shows that "God does not choose according to human criteria."

. . . .

Commenting on the words, "rose again on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures," the pope noted that the New Testament gives women a "primary, fundamental role" as witnesses of Jesus' resurrection. He cited the passage in Mark's Gospel in which women find an empty tomb and an angel who tells them that Jesus is alive.


"Here we can see an argument in favor of the historical truth of the resurrection," the pope said. "If it had been an invention, in the context of that time it would not have been linked to the testimony of women," since the Jewish law of period did not consider women or children as "reliable, credible witnesses."


"This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria," the pope said. "The first witnesses of the birth of Jesus are the shepherds, simple and humble people, and the first witnesses of the resurrection are women."

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Is Pope Francis inaugurating the third Millennium?
Leonardo Boff     Apr.6, 2013

Leonardo Boff


The second millenniumwas characterized by the paradigm of the Church as a perfect and hierarchichal society: an absolutist monarchy centered in the figure of the Pope as supreme head (cephalic), endowed with unlimited powers and, most recently, with infallibility, when he makes declarations as such in matters of faith and morality. The Pontifical State was created, with an army, a financial system and legislation that included the death penalty. A body of experts of the institution was created, the Roman Curia, responsible for the world ecclesiastical administration. This centralization produced the Romanization of all of Christianity. The evangelization of Latin America, Asia and Africa was accomplished within a process of colonial conquest of the world, and meant that the Roman model was transplanted, practically annulling the embodiment of the local cultures. The strict separation between the clergy and the lay was made official. The lay had no power of decision, (in the first millennium the lay participated in the election of bishops and even of the Pope), and were turned into childlike non-entities, in law and fact.


The palatial ways of the priests, bishops, cardinals and popes were affirmed. The titles of power of the Roman emperors, starting with those of Pope and Sumo Pontiff, were transferred to the bishop of Rome. The cardinals, princes of the Church, dressed up as the high Renaissance nobility, and so it has remained until now, scandalizing more than a few Christians, who were used to seeing Jesus of Nazareth as poor, a man of the people, persecuted, tortured and executed on the cross.


All indications are that this model of Church ended with the resignation of Benedict XVI, the last Pope from this monarchical model, in the tragic context of scandals that have touched the very heart of the credibility of the Christian message.


The election of Pope Francis, who comes «from the end of the world», as he presented himself, from the periphery of Christianity, from the Great South where 60% of Roman Catholics live, will inaugurate the ecclesiastic paradigm of the Third Millennium: the Church as a vast network of Christian communities, rooted in the various cultures, some more ancient than the Western cultures, such as the Chinese, Indian and Japanese, the tribal cultures of Africa and the communities of Latin America. It is also embodied in the modern culture of the technologically advanced countries, with a faith that is also lived out in small communities. All these incarnations have something in common: the urbanization of humanity, where more than the 80% of the population live in huge conglomerates of millions and millions of persons.

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Pope considering Secretariat of State overhaul 


Andrea Gagliarducci        Apr.8, 2013


A top official who works at the Secretariat of State says Pope Francis is thinking about streamlining his department by combining it with another Vatican government body.
According to the source - who requested anonymity in an April 6 interview with CNA - the Pope is considering simplifying the Curia by combining a part of the Secretariat of State's first section with the Vatican City State's administration. The first section deals with the management of the Church around the world.
Luigi Sandri, a Church observer and historian of the Vatican Councils, remarked in an April 6 interview, "a re-thinking of the Secretariat of State would perfectly follow Pope Francis' line of considering himself as the bishop of Rome."
One consequence of these types of changes is that they would enhance Cardinal Giuseppe Bertello's power.
A former Observer to the United Nations in Geneva and a former Vatican ambassador to Italy, Bertello is now president of the Vatican City State's administration. He is considered one of strongest contenders for the position of secretary of state, especially if reports are true about him playing a key role in moving some Curia votes to Francis during the conclave.
But the timing for the leadership change at the most powerful Vatican congregation appears to be set for the fall.  

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Pope Francis and Museum-Piece Catholicism


Charles J. Reid, Jr.       Apr.4, 2013


Jaroslav Pelikan once called tradition the living faith of the dead and traditionalism the dead faith of the living. I am reminded of this pithy observation as I watch right-wing Catholics react to Pope Francis' warm-spirited evangelization.

. . . 

The right-wing furor over the pope's foot-washing puts into stark relief two ways of viewing Tradition. The first approach is that of the commentators on Rorate Caeli. Tradition is fixed and unchanging. What was done yesterday must be done today, and tomorrow, and the day after that, world without end, Amen.  . . . .  

. . . .

 The language of the Catechism, however, cautions against static conceptions of Tradition. After all, it refers to the "living transmission" of practice and doctrine. The adjective "living" insists upon a dynamic application of Tradition. It is tradition that is adaptive and forward-looking, not enclosed and self-referential.

. . . .

Pope Francis grasps this. He understands that tradition is a continually unfolding process and that individuals are not passive observers but must play a role in the constant renewal and re-creation of what it means to be Church. Nothing can ever be handed on exactly, because historical context is constantly shifting, altering our vantage point and making all things fresh.

. . . .

The Church cannot be all change, all flux, lacking all core or conviction. But at the same time, the Church has been most alive when it has been swept by change -- whether that be the ascertainment of the Books of Scripture, the founding of the great religious orders, like the Franciscans and the Jesuits, or the shifts in Church teaching brought about by the Second Vatican Council. Who knows, perhaps we are once again about to experience an exciting time of change?  

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Former aide says Francis may close Vatican Bank


John L. Allen Jr       Apr.4, 2013


A former top aide to Pope Francis said yesterday that a little-known aspect of his record as the archbishop of Buenos Aires lends credence to speculation that sooner or later, he may shut down the Vatican Bank.

On Tuesday, the Reuters news agency quoted two Vatican officials anonymously who said that closing the bank, formally known as the "Institute for the Works of Religion," is an option Francis might consider.

Yesterday Federico Wals, a layman who served as the future pope's spokesperson in Buenos Aires since 2007, told NCR he believes that may well be the case.

"I think he'll move everything to the Bank of Italy, or something like that," Wals told NCR, citing as a precedent a key decision made by then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio when he arrived in Buenos Aires in the late 1990s.

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Pope Francis confirms Benedict XVI's decisive line on sex abuse


Vatican Radio       Apr.5, 2013


The Holy Father today received in audience Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. During the audience, various subjects pertaining to the Dicastery were discussed, the Holy Father recommended in particular that the Congregation, continue the line desired by Benedict XVI of decisive action regarding cases of sexual abuse, primarily by promoting measures for child protection; help for the many who in the past have suffered such violence; due process against those who are guilty; the commitment of Bishops' Conferences in the formulation and implementation of the necessary directives in this area which is of great importance to the witness of the Church and its credibility. The Holy Father assured that the victims of abuse and their suffering are especially present in his thoughts and prayers. 





Argentina Bishops Delayed Abuse Plan
Stacy Meichtry  & José de Cordoba     Apr.8, 2013
As the new leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, Pope Francis pledged Friday to forge ahead with measures aimed at stemming sexual abuse in church ranks. But as the church's most powerful official in Argentina, he didn't comply with a Vatican call to create guidelines for handling sexual-abuse allegations in the country.

The delay, which hasn't been previously reported, opens new questions about the new pope's record of addressing the issue of sexual abuse by priests, even as the Vatican vowed anew to address the issue.


On Friday, Pope Francis met with Cardinal Gerhard Ludwig Müller, who heads the office in charge of leading the Vatican's global crackdown on abusive priests and instructed him to continue the Vatican's strategy for fighting sex abuse. The pope urged him to "act decisively with regard to cases of sexual abuse, pushing above all the measures to protect minors," the Vatican said. Swift detection, Vatican officials have said, is crucial to stopping abusive priests.


The Vatican highlighted the importance of pressing national conferences of bishops to draw up comprehensive policies for detecting abuse and helping victims. "The commitment of bishops conferences in formulating and implementing the necessary guidelines is so important for the witness and credibility of the church," the Vatican said following the meeting Friday.

Among those that haven't met the Vatican's deadline for the guidelines-which passed nearly a year ago-is the Argentina conference that was run by Cardinal Jorge Bergolio, who on March 13 was named Pope Francis. 

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Historians ask: Is Francis a John XXIII?
Joshua J. McElwee       Apr.5, 2013 
. . . .

Jesuit Fr. John O'Malley, a prominent U.S. church historian who has written extensively on that meeting of bishops, known as the Second Vatican Council, likewise said Francis' actions so far are "projecting precisely" the image of the church imagined by the council.


O'Malley pointed specifically to Francis' decision to host last week's Holy Thursday evening services at a Roman youth detention center instead of St. Peter's Basilica.


. . . .   despite the obviously positive optics from the first few days of Francis' papacy, each of three church historians who spoke to NCR about the new pontiff's impact said what we see so far are words, style, and symbols.


The question remaining, they said, is just what changes the pontiff will make on issues of substance - like in the appointment of bishops, or his handling of the Vatican bureaucracy.


"One of my thoughts as a historian is that this is all lovely, but it's all about style," said  [Sr. Janice] Farnham [ a retired professor of church history at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry]. "When substance begins - and there will be substance, for sure - then we'll see where all these people who are so enamored of the style, including me, will be."


As focus on Francis shifts from his style to how he handles issues of substance, another church historian said he was waiting to see especially how the new pope makes decisions.


"We had two top-down papacies in terms of decision making," said Christopher Bellitto, a widely cited church historian and the chair of the history department at Kean University, Union, N.J., referring to the styles of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI.


One question, said Bellitto, is whether Francis will allow more decision making in the church to come from a more local level, perhaps from national bishops' conferences. 

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New meme:  What Would Pope Francis Do? 








Nicolas Coppola, Openly Gay Catholic, Banned From Church Duties


Meredith Bennett-Smith      Apr..5, 2013


Nicolas Coppola is a proud Catholic, and an equally proud gay man. For years, these two halves of Coppola co-existed without incident. Until recently.


The 47-year-old retired construction worker has been a parishioner at St. Anthony's Roman Catholic Church, in Oceanside, N.Y., for close to a decade. Always open about his sexuality, Coppola was also an active member of St. Anthony's, visiting home-bound members, teaching fifth-graders on the way to confirmation and serving as a member of the Consolation Ministry and St. Vincent de Paul, according to the GLAAD.


Then, in October of 2012, Coppola wed his longtime boyfriend, David, in a ceremony attended by several members of St. Anthony's. In a phone interview with The Huffington Post, Coppola explained the subsequent series of events that ended in his removal from all parish duties.


On Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Coppola said he attended a mass at St. Anthony's celebrating justice and equality. After the homily, he was summoned into the office of his pastor, Father Nicholas Lombardi, where he was told an anonymous letter complaining about his sexuality had been sent to Bishop William Murphy of the Rockville Centre Diocese, which includes St. Anthony's Parish. Lombardi said Coppola would be banned from his parish duties, as a result of the letter. 

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Letter from ARCC President




8 April 2013


Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Ave.
New York, NY  10022 


Bishop William Murphy
Diocese of Rockville Centre 

P.O. Box 9023


Rockville Centre, NY 11571-9023


Dear Bishops Dolan and Murphy;


You, Bishop Dolan, have stated that the Roman Catholic Church needs to be better at welcoming gay and lesbian people.  As you said, the Catholic Church isn't anti-anybody, and should be a church for all.  I have no doubt that you, Bishop Murphy, would agree with this laudable principle.


The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) has for over 30 years not only tried to educate the laity in terms of their rights and responsibilities as Catholics, but also defended those whose rights appear to have been violated.   These laity are now increasingly educated, no longer content with fiats from on high, and want instead honest and open answers that make sense.  


We ask you, therefore, how your proclaimed position is compatible with the termination of the parish ministry of Nicholas Coppola, whose involvement in the parish of St. Antony's Roman Catholic Church in Oceanside, New York, has been significant over the years, even while he was openly known as being gay.  


We ask this particularly because Mr Coppola entered, with another gay person, into a CIVIL marriage, complete with all the rights and obligations involved.


In this marriage he made a statement of faithful and committed love, the exact same kind of fidelity and commitment which we call for, honor and applaud when made by heterosexual couples, who we then expect to abide by the same requirements.


It is a statement of civil purpose and recognition, and does not go into the details of what happens (or doesn't happen) in the bedroom.


Has Mr Coppola attempted to enter into a marriage according to religious terms, and been denied?  If not, is this termination of responsibilities not a direct denial of your stated claim that the Catholic Church is a Church for all?


Is Mr Coppola's expression of committed and faithful love any more sinful than those of many priests who enter into relationships with women, some doing so for much, even most of their priestly ministry, including in some cases as bishops and cardinals (there was a cardinal who, on his election as Pope, was told he would have to give up his mistress), yet are not denied the right to continue to celebrate the Eucharist for their parishioners?


Is his commitment to his partner more at odds with Catholic teaching than the practices of the vast majority of Catholics who practice artificial birth control contrary to the teachings of Humanae Vitae?  Should those Catholics, many of whom provide untold quantities of voluntary service in the Church, not also have their contributions terminated, and be told they are not welcome?


Does not the failure to terminate the voluntary contributions of such Catholics across this country and around the world not constitute discrimination, something you have clearly stated both you and the Church are against?


Did Jesus say anything about, or condemn anyone for, any sexual activity other than that which broke the vow of marriage?


Is this not one of those times when you as the Church might, as Bishop Francis has suggested, go out to the margins?  Is this not an example of where you might begin practicing being better at welcoming gays and lesbians?  Might you not, instead of waiting until you have the theology perfectly worked out before acting, begin (however haltingly and inadequately, and therefore very uncomfortably) acting in a welcoming manner, and allowing the Spirit of God to open the theology within you as you walk the journey of welcome?


Catholic Bishops have to convince their people that the Bishops are capable and trustworthy to teach and seek the Common Good rather than maintain power and control over their people's lives and resources.  Does not your position in this matter seem to justify their doubts?




Patrick Edgar, President
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC)
3150 Newgate Dr.
Florissant, MO  63033



Gays and the Church
Joseph F. O'Callaghan       Apr.2, 2013

Catholics should support Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan's statement that the Catholic Church should be more welcoming of gay people (news article, April 1). Addressing gays, he emphasized that "you are made in God's image and likeness."


If he truly believes that, he ought to acknowledge that the very nature of gay people is good because it is the work of a good God who creates only good things. If he accepts that, then he should also agree that God has willed that gay people should love each other in the most intimate way.


If he accepts that, then he should encourage his priests to take up the spiritual care of gay people.


Finally, if he truly believes that gays are made in God's image and likeness and that a good God is the author of their nature, he ought to affirm that gays should have the same right to marry as straight people.


Until Cardinal Dolan and other church leaders fully accept gay people as they are created by God and declare that they are entitled to the rights given to all people, his aspiration to "try our darnedest to make sure we're not an anti-anybody" will always ring hollow. 





3 ways for Cardinal Dolan to show his 'love' for gay people
Ross Murray       Apr.4, 2013

Cardinal Dolan asserted that he "loves" gay and lesbian people and that God does too. But he then followed up by saying that he believes gay and lesbian people are only entitled to friendship, and that anything more than friendship "is intended only for a man and woman in marriage, where children can come about naturally." 

. . . .

It's a familiar one-two punch that LGBT people have heard time and time again. "I love you," is followed by a litany of incorrect beliefs that we are broken, intrinsically disordered, unqualified parents, or otherwise less-than fully human. By the time the sentence is finished, the "love" that was expressed at the beginning is rendered powerless against the condemnation that follows.

. . . . 

Taking Cardinal Dolan at his word, I'd suggest a few steps that may move him from his expressed "love," to an actual love that follows Catholic teaching and actually means something for the lives of LGBT people.

1.Cardinal Dolan needs to stop talking about LGBT people and spend more time listening to them.

. . . . 

2.If Cardinal Dolan cannot talk about LGBT people without uttering words of condemnation, he should simply stop talking about LGBT people in general.

. . . .

3.Cardinal Dolan could turn his stated love into tangible action that would help real LGBT people in their day-to-day lives. 

. . . .

God's love is felt, not simply stated. When Cardinal Dolan makes such blatant attacks on LGBT people, it makes his "I love you and God loves you" in front of the media ring hollow. Such expressions of love need to be backed up with tangible action. Do something that demonstrates that church leaders view LGBT people as more than a threat or a curse.

Cardinal Dolan can keep saying that he loves us and God does too, but until he turns away from the camera to actually listen to the stories of our lives, these words will have no meaning.  

Read more



The Disinvited Friar
Leslie Scrivener       Apr.6, 2013

As Catholics around the world wait to see if Pope Francis ushers in a new era of openness, the local archdiocese has been accused of stifling free speech.

Rev. Michael Crosby, a reformist American priest who supports women's equality and critiques church governance, was set to address a conference for Catholic educators in April.

Crosby was approved to speak at the Canadian Forum on Theology and Education, but the Archdiocese of Toronto's chancellor for spiritual affairs pulled the plug in February. The event has now been moved to Sheridan College in the Archdiocese of Hamilton.

Forum organizer John Quinn, a retired religion teacher, says the Toronto archdiocese is "suppressing healthy dialogue."

In turning down Crosby, the archdiocese has "blackballed" both the speaker and the forum, he says.

"There's no discussion, there's no thinking, and you're talking about the best theologically educated, scripturally sophisticated Catholic laity ever."

Despite these criticisms, Quinn remains hopeful that things will change as Francis's papacy unfolds. During the papal conclave at which he was elected, Pope Francis called on the church to be less self-absorbed and to look outward, it was recently revealed. Some have interpreted his early comments as a critique, the beginning of a campaign to change the bureaucracy that runs the Vatican. "He's been a pastor," says Quinn. "He's had to relate with regular people and, from everything I have read, he listens. Once you listen, you're open to change." 

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Dems' Annual Spaghetti Dinner bounced from Catholic parish hall 

Electa Draper      Apr.10 2013

Denver Democrats had the tablecloth pulled out from their Annual Spaghetti Dinner fundraiser by the Catholic Archdiocese of Denver just days before the Saturday event.

The St. Ignatius of Loyola Catholic Parish was told to cancel the event hosted by House District 8 Democrats, who were informed of the cancellation five days before the fete.

The church had been the venue for the annual dinner for three or four years, state Rep. Beth McCann, a District 8 Democrat, said. Although a substitute hall has been found - The Assistance League of Denver at 1400 Josephine St. - McCann said she was disturbed by the last-minute cancellation.

The archdiocese says it's simply trying to be apolitical, but some associated with the event say the archdiocese is being anti-Democrat - perhaps even retaliating for passage of the civil unions bill opposed by the church.

Vatican said Pinochet killings were 'propaganda': leak
AFP       Apr.8, 2013

The Vatican once dismissed reports of massacres by Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet as "Communist propaganda", according to US diplomatic and intelligence documents from the 1970s leaked on Monday.


One cable dated October 18, 1973 sent to Washington by the US embassy to the Holy See relayed a conversation with the Vatican's then deputy Secretary of State, Giovanni Benelli, the leak by whistleblowing website WikiLeaks showed.

Benelli expressed "his and the pope's grave concern over successful international leftist campaign to misconstrue completely realities of Chilean situation," read the cable to then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

. . . .

The conversation took place five weeks after army general Pinochet took power in a coup that overthrew the socialist regime of Salvador Allende, as thousands of perceived leftist sympathisers were being imprisoned and killed.


The cables also showed the Vatican later realised the full extent of the abuses being carried out but refused to criticise Pinochet's regime openly and continued with normal diplomatic relations. 

Read more


Time to reunite all Catholics with a new Nicaea

Mark Etling       Mar.31, 2013

When the Roman Emperor Constantine convened the Council of Nicaea in 325 A.D., both the church and the empire were in a state of flux. A little more than a decade earlier, Constantine had legalized Christianity, because he recognized the growing social and financial power of Christians within the empire. But controversy, turmoil and violence raged over some unsettled theological issues.

. . . .

Now, almost 17 centuries later, we stand at another crossroads. Catholics are deeply divided over issues of theology, authority, scriptural interpretation, tradition and canon law. Developments in archeology, biblical exegesis, historical research, psychology and other disciplines make me wonder whether the Nicene Creed remains sufficiently elastic to embody the truths of Christianity as they -- and the Christians who recite it -- have evolved.

At this moment in Christian history -- initiated by the wise and courageous retirement of Pope Benedict XVI -- we need a "new Nicaea," a new attempt to unify the people of God courageously and creatively through the vehicle of a general council.

. . . .

My list of agenda items for the new Nicaea is clearly overly ambitious. But the opportunity this agenda presents to unify and energize the church is equally enormous. It includes:

  • A more up-to-date affirmation about God.   . . 
  • A broader understanding of Jesus.  . . . . 
  • A broader understanding of salvation.  . . . .
  • A broadened understanding of revelation.  . . .
  • A broader understanding of authority and ministry.  . . . .
  • An expanded canon of Scripture.  . . . .
  • A new creed.   . . . . 

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AMS Calls on U.S. Defense Department to Review Army Reserve Training Material for Anti-Religious Content

Archdiocese for the Military Service      Apr.4 2013

The Archdiocese for the Military Services and Chaplain Alliance for Religious Liberty recently became aware of a U.S. Army Reserve Equal Opportunity training brief that expressly listed "Catholicism," "Evangelical Christianity" and other religious groups as examples of "religious extremism" alongside groups such as "Al Qaeda", "Hamas" and the "KKK."  

The Archdiocese is astounded that Catholics were listed alongside groups that are, by their very mission and nature, violent and extremist. 

According to an investigation and reply from the Army Chief of Chaplains office, the training in question appears to have been an isolated incident not condoned by the Department of the Army. The Archdiocese and the Chaplain Alliance explained that the Army can and should take steps to prevent such incidents in the future.

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Cairo clashes at St Mark's Coptic Cathedral after funerals 

Aleem Maqbool        Apr.7, 2013

One person has been killed in clashes outside Cairo's main cathedral following the funerals of four Coptic Christians killed in religious violence on Saturday.

Mourners leaving St Mark's Cathedral clashed with local residents.
Police fired tear gas to break up the violence. More than 80 people were injured, the state news agency said.
. . . .
Mourners inside the church had earlier chanted slogans against Egypt's Islamist President, Mohammed Morsi.

Witnesses told local TV stations that the violence started when a mob attacked mourners as they exited the cathedral, pelting them with stones and petrol bombs. There was initially little police presence.
. . . .
Police said five deaths - four Copts and one Muslim - occurred on Saturday in Khosous, about 10 miles (15km) north of Cairo, after inflammatory symbols were drawn on an Islamic institute, provoking an argument.

The dispute escalated into a gun battle between Christian and Muslim residents, while Christian-owned shops were also attacked.

Violence there flared again on Sunday, with police reporting more sectarian fighting on the streets and clashes between police and youths.

Meanwhile, Egypt's top judicial body has urged the chief prosecutor appointed by Mr Morsi to step down.  

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After Sectarian Violence, Coptic Pope Takes On Egypt's President 

 Ashraf Khali       Apr.9, 2013


On Tuesday, Coptic Patriarch Tawadros II took to the public airwaves with an unvarnished and unprecedented attack on President Mohamed Morsi's government, starkly warning: "This is a society that is collapsing."


In a phone interview with ONTV, one of the country's most popular and influential satellite news channels, the 60-year-old Pontiff harshly criticized the behavior of the security forces and Morsi's handling of the situation, saying that the tear gas on the cathedral grounds "breached all the redlines."

. . . . 

The papal outburst brings the Coptic Church into a position it hasn't occupied for three decades: openly opposing the government. Previous Pontiffs have paid a stiff price for such opposition. Tawadros' long-serving predecessor Pope Shenouda III publicly butted heads with Anwar Sadat in 1981 and ended up being placed under house arrest in a Sinai monastery near the end of Sadat's tempestuous reign.

During the Mubarak years, Shenouda largely kept his criticisms of the regime behind closed doors and worked to present a unified public face with Mubarak - a strategy that led many younger Copts to view him as a borderline collaborator in the final years before the revolution.

Tawadros, who was named the church's 118th Pope last November, was expected by some church watchers to toe the same apolitical line. But within weeks of his ascension, the new Pope confounded those predictions by publicly criticizing the nascent constitution as religiously biased. That constitution was then approved in a divisive fast-track referendum last December that spawned enormous amounts of political bad blood and severed most lines of communication between Morsi and Egypt's oft-fragmented opposition.

Italian priest arrested for fraud
Tablet      Apr.9, 2013

An Italian priest has been arrested for embezzling more than €4 million from a Rome clinic owned by his religious order and forcing the facility into bankruptcy after accumulating some €600 million of debt.


Fr Franco Decaminada, 68, was placed under house arrest on 4 April for misappropriating funds from the Istituto Dermatologico dell'Immacolota (IDI), of which he was the executive director from 2004-11. The clinic was founded in 1925 by his order, the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception.


Italian police also arrested two of Fr Decaminada's lay business associates for embezzling a further €10 million and they impounded a country home worth more than €1million that the priest had purchased in Tuscany. Earlier this year it was reported that some 1,500 medical personnel at the clinic had not been paid for months. Pope Benedict XVI in February transferred control of the IDI to a Vatican cardinal. 


Italian priest arrested for fraud

Tablet      Apr.9, 2013

An Italian priest has been arrested for embezzling more than €4 million from a Rome clinic owned by his religious order and forcing the facility into bankruptcy after accumulating some €600 million of debt.


Fr Franco Decaminada, 68, was placed under house arrest on 4 April for misappropriating funds from the Istituto Dermatologico dell'Immacolota (IDI), of which he was the executive director from 2004-11. The clinic was founded in 1925 by his order, the Congregation of the Sons of the Immaculate Conception.


Italian police also arrested two of Fr Decaminada's lay business associates for embezzling a further €10 million and they impounded a country home worth more than €1million that the priest had purchased in Tuscany. Earlier this year it was reported that some 1,500 medical personnel at the clinic had not been paid for months. Pope Benedict XVI in February transferred control of the IDI to a Vatican cardinal. 


Ancient site unearthed in Biblical home of Abraham 

Associated Press      Apr.4, 2013


British archaeologists said Thursday they have unearthed a sprawling complex near the ancient city of Ur in southern Iraq, home of the biblical Abraham.


The structure, thought to be about 4,000 years old, probably served as an administrative center for Ur, around the time Abraham would have lived there before leaving for Canaan, according to the Bible.


The compound is near the site of the partially reconstructed Ziggurat, or Sumerian temple, said Stuart Campbell of Manchester University's Archaeology Department, who led the dig.


"This is a breathtaking find," Campbell said, because of its unusually large size -- roughly the size of a football field, or about 260 feet on each side. The archaeologist said complexes of this size and age were rare.

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Orleans County: Nun admits stealing $128,000; faces jail time

Scott DeSmit      Apr.9, 2013

A Catholic nun faces up to six months in jail after she admitted in Orleans County Court Monday to stealing $128,000 from two churches where she served.


Sister Mary Anne Rapp, 68, first waived her right to a grand jury proceeding before accepting the plea deal offered to her by District Attorney Joseph Cardone.


Rapp pleaded guilty to fourth-degree grand larceny and quietly admitted that she stole about $128,000 from St. Mary's Church in Holley and St. Mark's Church in Kendall.


Rapp stole the money from March 2006 to April 2011. 

. . . .

Rapp, a nun for nearly 50 years, served both churches and has told investigators that she stole the money to feed a gambling addiction. 

Read more

Reflections on Catholic Revisionism: Garry Wills' "Why Priests"?

Tony Equale      Mar.31, 2013

Gary Wills is trying to save Catholicism.

But not the way you might think.  Prospective readers of Why Priests? might see in the provocative title a veiled reference to the sexual abuse by priests and the hierarchy's cover-up, so prominent in the news these days.  But the book, in fact, is not about priestly behavior.  At best the scandals are background for Wills' real agenda: a general theological revision that leaves what  he believes are Catholic fundamentals intact while justifying the transition to a more convivial religiosity and representative government within the Catholic Church.

. . . . 

He is calling for nothing less than thecategorical elimination of priesthood.  Perhaps a better word than "revise" for what he is doing would be "re-envision."  If the changes he suggests were implemented, it would in fact be institutionally revolutionary, for it would mean the end of the Catholic caste system, setting priests apart from the laity based on their magical powers.

. . . .

But the effort still deserves the word "revision," for it leaves "Catholic fundamentals" in place.  It does not directly attack Catholic dogmatic and moral absolutes or the sacred autocracy that sustains them.  Neither of those foundational features of Catholicism depends on "priesthood" for its justification.  They rest on the claim of the divinity of Jesus - the "Incarnation" - and that is something Wills does not dispute.


For those who believe that the problem with the Church can be exhaustively identified as the blow-back from a hydraulic view of the sacraments, a hierarchical male caste system, mandatory priestly celibacy and mediaeval papist authoritarianism, Wills' book is just what the doctor ordered.  What we may all need to be reminded of, however, is that it has all been done before: it was called the Protestant Reformation.  And it had exactly the opposite effect on the Catholic Church from what the reformers intended; in fact it caused a violent defensive recoil that cast in concrete the worst features of Roman Catholic religious life.  The door was nailed shut at the Council of Trent 25 years after Luther's protest at Wittenberg.   And even though since then Catholics have been living side by side with the very reformed Christianity that Wills calls for, it has done nothing but intensify their desire to cling to their unreformed "catholicity."  


In our own times, some of these "protestant" changes suggested by Wills' theological study were encouraged (though not mandated) by the Second Vatican Council, 50 years ago.  Since then, an almost predictable backlash on the part of the Vatican authorities fundamentally repeated the reactions of Trent.  While a significant minority within the Church has criticized the Popes for their systematic unraveling of the visionary tapestry woven by the Council Fathers, it seems clear that the sacred authority and dogmatic absolutism that defines the Catholic hierarchy, setting Catholicism apart from all other religious institutions, remain firmly in place, unaffected by great numbers of defections. 

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Meet the 'Catholic NRA'

Aaron Schrank      Apr.10, 2013

As the Senate takes up a heated debate over gun control and background checks, Catholic bishops have used the months since the Newtown school massacre to push gun control in email blasts and Senate Judiciary Committee testimony. But among the Catholic faithful, not everyone supports gun control measures.

. . . . 

John M. Snyder, a lifelong Catholic and former seminarian, is one. Snyder isn't thrilled to be opposing the bishops, but he sees little choice. An outspoken gun rights activist for decades - once the chief Washington lobbyist for the Citizens Committee For the Right to Keep and Bear Arms - he doesn't see any discord between his faith and his activism.


"Advocating for the rights of people to defend themselves with the appropriate weapons is part and parcel of my Catholicism," said Snyder, ofWashington. "I do feel a great loyalty to the church and the bishops and it pains me to see them behaving so foolishly."

. . . . 

"The Catholic Church is a spiritual guide, but it's not a guide in determining my rights," said Mark Cunningham, a Salinas, Calif. Catholic who opposes increased gun control laws. "They're offering an opinion, but it's not something that I have to believe in as a Catholic."


Snyder, the former lobbyist, hopes Catholics will feel at home in the group he runs, the St. Gabriel Possenti Society, dedicated to promoting the 19th-century Italian priest as "the patron saint of handgunners." In 1860, the priest used a handgun to scare away a band of soldiers from raping and pillaging his small village.

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Ex-Fairfield County Priest Pleads Guilty In Meth Case
Greg Canuel      Apr.3, 2013

A Roman Catholic priest from Fairfield County who reportedly made more than $300,000 by selling methamphetamines pleaded guilty Tuesday to a federal drug charge, according to a report in Newsday.

Kevin Wallin, 61, admitted to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute methamphetamine and was scheduled to be sentenced June 25. The prosecution and defense agreed on a sentence of 11 to 14 years in prison.

He had previously served as pastor of St. Augustine Parish in Bridgeport for nine years until he resigned in June 2011, citing health and personal reasons. He also served six years as pastor of St. Peter's Church in Danbury until 2002.

"Msgr. Wallin's guilty plea represents an important step in his coming to terms with his own actions and their impact on others," the Diocese of Bridgeport said in astatement on its website. "It is a difficult moment for all of us, but we hope it is also the first step in rebuilding his life. We pray that he moves toward healing and wholeness."

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Three Philadelphia priests removed over child sex abuse scandal after 'victim' killed himself when church dismissed the allegations

Daily Mail      Apr.8, 2013

Three more priests were permanently removed from ministry by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Sunday, including one whose accuser killed himself after his allegation was dismissed by church officials.

The Revs. Joseph Gallagher and Mark Gaspar were suspended following a scathing 2011 grand jury report that ultimately led to the landmark conviction of a high-ranking archdiocese official on child endangerment charges. Two other priests and a Catholic school teacher were also convicted.

The February 2011 grand jury report prominently named Gallagher as a priest who remained in ministry despite apparently credible allegations of abuse. The grand jury said the archdiocese had found the allegation against him unsubstantiated despite the accuser's 'obvious credibility.'

'Our only problem is that it took so long,' Marci Hamilton, the attorney for the family of Daniel Neill, said Sunday. Neill committed suicide in 2009, less than a year after being told his allegation of couldn't be substantiated. 

Read more


Milwaukee archdiocese to release sex abuse files

Dinesh Ramde      Apr.3, 2013

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee said Wednesday it will publicly release thousands of pages of documents tied to sexual abuse lawsuits, including depositions with some of its former top officials.

The archdiocese had been fighting the release of the documents, and it made its announcement the day before a hearing on the matter was to be held in U.S. bankruptcy court in Milwaukee. The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2011 to deal with about 500 sex abuse claims filed by men and women. Lawyers representing those people had been seeking the documents' release.

The documents to be released include depositions given by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who previously led the Milwaukee archdiocese, former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland and retired Bishop Richard Sklba. Victims' advocates have accused archdiocese leaders of transferring abusive priests to other parishes and concealing their crimes for decades.

Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said the archdiocese plans to post the documents on its website by July 1. Along with the depositions, the cache will include documents from priests' personnel files and the files of bishops and other church leaders.

Read more


Australia launches national inquiry into child sexual abuse

Emily Alpert      Apr.3, 2013

Australia launched a sweeping national inquiry Wednesday into the sexual abuse of children, holding its first public hearing in a Melbourne court to start what a government statement called "a healing process for survivors and their families."

Prime Minister Julia Gillard said the newly opened Royal Commission into the Sexual Abuse of Children will hear the stories of abuse victims and make recommendations about stopping such crimes, and can refer suspected abusers to the police for possible prosecution. It will cover a vast array of institutions including schools, churches, child-care centers, recreational groups and detention centers.

"We've let children down in the past as a country," Gillard said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. "We need to learn what we can do as a nation to better protect our children in the future."

The inquiry follows the revelation last year that hundreds of children had been abused by Roman Catholic clergy in Victoria state since the 1930s. The government was also galvanized by an open letter from a New South Wales police detective who accused the church of concealing abuse. 

Read more


Churches don't want to know, abuse inquiry told

Barney Zwartz        Apr.5, 2013

Catholic Church leaders in Australia were contributing to the ostracism and scapegoating of child sex abuse victims, showing little leadership and little ''will to know'', the inquiry into how churches handled sex abuse has heard.

Edith Cowan University social justice professor Caroline Taylor said church leaders, as well as judges and lawyers, too readily followed misleading stereotypes that minimised child abuse.

''The greatest insurance policy offenders have is the ignorance of the community,'' Professor Taylor said on Thursday. ''I don't believe the Catholic hierarchy has changed its attitude ... I haven't seen that probity and will to know, which means setting aside preconceived ideas and being open to learn. It takes courage.''

When she had suggested ways to help educate the community, she had been ''severely rebuffed''. 

Read more


Scottish Catholic church's handling of abuse is a sham, says former insider

Catherine Deveney       Apr.6, 2013

A former child protection consultant for the Scottish Catholic church has criticised its procedures for dealing with abuse, branding them a sham, only weeks after the country's most senior cleric, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, was forced to resign over allegations of inappropriate sexual conduct.

As evidence mounts of the chaotic response in the church to the crisis that O'Brien's resignation caused, Alan Draper, who worked for the Motherwell diocese for seven years, says in an interview with the Observer that the church has been unable to produce the annual audits of abuse claims that it promised in 1996, or give any details of a coherent national policy, and that individual bishops are allowed to make decisions piecemeal. "For too long the bishops have been kings in their castles and accountable to nobody," said Draper. "It's very corrosive. Some dioceses may be doing a good job - but we have no knowledge or information about what's been going on."



The church's sex abuse crisis: Coming soon to a theater near you?
Elizabeth Lefebvre       Apr.3, 2013
The Boston Globe announced yesterday that DreamWorks has acquired the rights to tell the story of the sex abuse scandal that its reporters revealed a decade ago. The Globe staff won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting that broke open the reality and severity of sexual abuse within the church.

Apparently, work for the film has already been conducted in secret for the past year. Variety reports it will be similar in nature to All the President's Men, the 1976 film that told the story of Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein and their efforts to uncover the Watergate scandal. The piece also notes that one unnamed A-list actor has supposedly been connected to the film project.


Catholic Church set to lose education stronghold in Ireland

IrishCentral Staff Writers,       Apr.3, 2013
Some 23 primary schools across the country are set to lose their Catholic Church patronage and will most likely transfer to the multi-denominational Educate Together schools.

The announcement comes following a survey by the Department of Education which questioned parents of students aged up to 12-years in 38 areas across the country. Many parents expressed a preference for an Educate Together patron in 23 of the areas. At present Educate Together operates 65 multi-denominational primary schools around Ireland. 

Detroit-area Catholic leaders urge gay marriage supporters to skip Communion
Niraj Warikoo      Apr.8, 2013

A Detroit professor and legal adviser to the Vatican says Catholics who promote gay marriage should not try to receive holy Communion, a key part of Catholic identity.


And the archbishop of Detroit, Allen Vigneron, said Sunday that Catholics who receive Communion while advocating gay marriage would "logically bring shame for a double-dealing that is not unlike perjury."


The comments of Vigneron and Edward Peters, who teaches Catholic canon law at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, are part of a polarizing discussion about gay marriage that echoes debate over whether politicians who advocate abortion rights should receive Communion.

. . . .

"Most American bishops do not favor denying either politicians or voters Communion because of their positions on controversial issues," said Thomas Reese, a Catholic priest and senior fellow at the Woodstock Theological Center at Georgetown University. Reese said that Peters' views are "in a minority among American canon lawyers." 

Read more

Free birth control rules to be finalized

Tom Howell, Jr.       Apr.8, 2013


President Obama's top health official said Monday the administration will finalize its new rules granting free birth control, saying the controversial policy will go into effect in August.
. . . .

"As of Aug. 1, 2013, every employee who doesn't work directly for a church or a diocese will be included in the benefit package,"
. . . .

Dozens of nonprofits and more than 20 corporations have sought relief in federal court from the contraception mandate within the Affordable Care Act. They've obtained mixed results at the appellate level, a scenario that leads many to believe the issue will land before the Supreme Court.


On Monday, Archbishop William E. Lori, of Baltimore, cheered those who are challenging the mandate, saying they were taking a "courageous" stand.

Read more

Dubuque Archdiocese names new bishop

Richard Pratt       Apr.8, 2013

Pope Francis appointed Bishop Michael Jackels to become the new archbishop in Dubuque. He will be introduced at a news conference at 10 am in Dubuque.


Bishop Jackels is currently the Bishop of Wichita, Kansas, where he's served since 2005. According to his biography, Bishop Jackels also worked for eight years in Rome under then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who recently completed his term as Pope Benedict XVI.


Jackels will replace Bishop Jerome Hanus, who has served as Dubuque's archbishop since 1994. 

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Pope names new bishop for Fargo Diocese in ND 

David Kolpack       Apr.8, 2013


Pope Francis on Monday named a priest from the Diocese of Lincoln in Nebraska as the newest bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Fargo in North Dakota.

Monsignor John Folda, 51, rector of St. Gregory the Great Seminary in Seward, Neb., since 1999, will become the eighth bishop of the Fargo diocese, which serves more than 130 parishes and 72,000 parishioners in eastern North Dakota. He will be ordained as the Fargo bishop in late June.

. . . .

Folda will succeed Samuel Aquila, who left as Fargo bishop last June after a decade in the position to become archbishop of the Archdiocese of Denver. Bismarck Bishop David Kagan has been overseeing administration of the Fargo Diocese since then. 
Read more

North Carolina House Speaker Kills Bill To Create State Religion
John Celock       Apr.4, 2013


The Republican speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives killed legislation on Thursday that aimed to establish an official state religion.

House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Charlotte) announced Thursday afternoon that the bill would not be receiving a vote in the full House, effectively dropping the measure. Loretta Boniti, a reporter for News 14 Carolina, broke the news on Twitter, and it was confirmed in a breaking news alert posted on the home page of, a Raleigh-based television station. Tillis' decision followed several days of national media attention on the bill, which also said that the state government did not have to listen to federal court rulings and was exempt from the requirements of the First Amendment.

. . . .

The bill, which was drafted by state Reps. Carl Ford (R-China Grove) and Harry Warren (R-Salisbury), was intended to address an issue in Rowan County, where the ACLU has filed a lawsuit against the county commission in an attempt to block commissioners from having a Christian prayer at the beginning of meetings


Fr. Musaala commission set up
Taddeo Bwambale       Apr.2, 2013

The Catholic Church has set up a commission to investigate allegations by Fr Anthony Musaala that some priests had deviated from the oath of celibacy.

"We have set up a commission to look into the allegations by Fr Musaala. As to whether the allegations are correct or not, the commission will determine," he said.

Addressing journalists at his residence in Rubaga on Saturday, the Archbishop of Kampala, Dr. Cyprian Kizito Lwanga said the commission would establish the truth.

The probe stems from a document purportedly authored by Musaala recently, claiming that many Catholic priests and bishops are sexually abusing minors, have mistresses and children who they are concealing or have abandoned.

The letter also calls for a review of celibate chastity in the Catholic Church. Musaala has since acknowledged writing the document, but claims it leaked on the internet after he gave it to a fellow priest to edit it. 

Read more

If Catholic bishops can criticise government, why can't priests criticise the church?

Ladislaus K. Rwakafuuzi      Apr.1, 2013

When a bird perches off its nest without a word, it must only be too young. I will not fail to say something about Fr Anthony Musaala's saga because I am neither too young to speak nor am I too daft to fathom the preponderance and momentousness of his dossier.


Fr Musaala has said that the Catholic Church should re-examine celibacy for its priests. Musaala has reasoned that many otherwise good priests fail in their vows of celibacy. What Musaala is raising here is not new. That debate is as old as the date the church decided on celibacy.


Celibacy was not a precept for priests in the beginnings of the church. The church later mooted celibacy as a means of serving God better without family distractions. The same church has the power to reverse itself on this precept if it sees that priests are no longer serving better when celibate. So Musaala has proposed that celibacy may be made optional. This is one arm of Musaala's arguments.


The second arm is that the church should not merely watch when some of its priests who have failed to be celibate cause harm. Musaala is proposing that the church should strictly discipline the priests whose failure in celibacy causes harm to third parties, especially the children. 

Read more

Pope Francis doubles @pontifex's Twitter following

Agence France-Presse    Apr.4,2013


Pope Francis's online flock has doubled from 2.5 million to 5.0 million Twitter followers in just seven weeks - nearly half the time it took his predecessor Benedict XVI to build up his following.


The account @pontifex - the word "pope" in Latin - has tweets in nine languages including English, Spanish, Arabic and Latin. They are snippets of religious instruction rather than insights into the pontiff's daily life.


The number on all nine accounts put together went over five million for the first time on Thursday.

. . . .

The Vatican has said the tweets are approved by the pope although not actually written by him and are sent from a single computer to avoid hacking.

Twitter password

Petition campaign against the flood of money in U.S. politics

There is one woman who could -- in an instant -- undo the damage of Citizens United.


Mary Jo White is the incoming head of the Securities & Exchange Commission, which regulates corporations. If she requires corporations to report where and how they spend money in politics, it would end the system of secret, unlimited corporate money in politics and allow us to hold corporations accountable for their spending.

The SEC is evaluating the rule right now. It has already gotten nearly half a million public comments urging it to make the change -- over 5,000 times the normal amount -- and it looks like the pressure is working! If we make this an issue now, we can make sure that one of her first actions is to institute meaningful reform.


Send your comment to the SEC telling it to force corporations to report political spending. 

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Someone at the Vatican Is Downloading Really Dirty Porn
Connor Simpson      Apr.8, 2013

The file-sharing folks at TorrentFreak discovered that some Vatican City IP addresses were fairly frequent torrent users, downloading episodes of Chicago Fire, Touch, and The Americans. Someone in the Vatican also downloaded Love Actually, which isn't that surprising because it's a great movie, obviously, though we suspect they probably don't agree with some of the humor. But Bill Nighy's potty mouth is hardly the worst thing TorrentFreak has discovered in the download caches within the confines of the Catholic Church headquarters. There was porn, too. And lots of it.  

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