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"I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome"

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to
communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church.

After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today's world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me.

For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff.

With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013




Leonard J. Swidler      Feb.12, 2013

February 12, 2013


Professor Josef Ratzinger

Pope Benedict XVI

Dear Josef,

Besides personal communications, I have written you two open letters since we were colleagues on the Catholic Theology Faculty of the University of Tubingen, Germany.

I am writing you once again openly, this time not to pose an objection to an action of yours. Rather, I am writing this time to congratulate you upon the bravest and wisest act of your life: Your decision to resign from the papacy because of failing health for the good of the Church!

As a fellow academic who almost matches you in age, I wish you many good years of quiet reflection, scholarship, and writing after February 28, 2013.

But, before you go into that grey world of quietude, I urge you to take one more brave stand for the good of the Church, and the world at large. As the cardinals, and, indeed, the whole world, gather at your feet at the end of this month, I hope that you will send them into the Consistory to elect your successor with a visionary commission - this time not as Dean of the College of Cardinals as you did eight years ago, but this time as reigning/resigning pope.

In your vision I hope you will portray a Catholic Church which is also catholic with a small as well as a capital "C," that is, a Catholic Church that not only holds to the best of its Catholic tradition, but also opens itself out to the entire kat'holos, the "whole" world. I and many, many other Catholics believe that vision must be of a Church that welcomes and strives to help the "outsiders" of society, as modeled by our "Outsider" Founder Rabbi Yeshua ha Notzri, Jesus of Nazareth.

Who are these outsiders? First of all, that majority: Women! You have written books about Jesus, and so you doubtless know that Jesus Was a Feminist! I am sure that you have not had time to read my 2007 book of that title, but you know the facts that, if we never had the testimony about Jesus' life passed on to us by his women followers and promoted by the rest of the women named in the New Testament, we would have no Christianity today! The Catholic Church needs to follow the example of our Founder and bring women fully into the life of our Church.

Jesus also gave us a model of how to care for and protect another great outsider group - children. The Church's shameful sacrificing of these "little ones" must not only cease, but its new, cleansed reality must lead the way in a world which is full of the oppression of children, which doubtless has been happening since Cain and Abel.

Then there are the poor of all sorts in all societies. Here, fortunately, the Catholic Church has a more than century old tradition of preaching and acting in favor of the poor, marginalized. But it must make this tradition much more effective among its members, especially those who have leadership roles in government and business. For example, not all American Catholics put the principles of Catholic social justice into political and business practice!

That means that the Church leadership must cease it obsession with sex! It must stop oppressing homosexuals, recognize that Jesus did allow for divorce and remarriage, cease forcing the priesthood into the straightjacket of celibacy and maleness. Stop denigrating the body, but stress the beauty of all matter as created by God, which at the end of each day of creation was said in Genesis to be tov, good, and even mod tov, very good!

So Josef, this should be the greatest sermon of your life. Give it your best shot!

Vergelts Gott!


Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L., LL.D.           is co-founder and past president of ARCC.

Jesus Was a Feminist: What the Gospels Reveal about His Revolutionary Perspective


For Benedict, retirement will be final

Associated Press     Feb.12, 2013

The papal ring will be destroyed, along with other powerful emblems of authority, just as they are after a pope's death. The retiring Pope Benedict XVI will live in a monastery on the edge of the Vatican gardens and will likely even give up his beloved theological writing.

The Vatican went out of its way on Tuesday to declare that for Benedict, retirement means just that: retirement.

With speculation swirling about his future role, the Vatican's chief spokesman explicitly stated that Benedict will not influence the election of his successor.   . . . .

As for the pope's new name, Burke said Benedict would most likely be referred to as "Bishop of Rome, emeritus" as opposed to "Pope Emeritus." Lombardi also said Benedict would take some kind of "emeritus" title.

Other Vatican officials said it would probably be up to the next pope to decide Benedict's new title and wouldn't exclude that he might still be called "Your Holiness" as a courtesy, much as retired presidents are often referred to as "President." It was not even clear whether the retired pope will retain the name Benedict or revert to being called Joseph Ratzinger again. 

Read more



The resignation of Pope Benedict XVI

Gemma Simmonds CJ      Feb.12, 2013 

. . . .

But maybe this last, charismatic and courageous gesture will be a chance for the whole Church to do some soul-searching and to reflect on what it needs from a pope. In this Year of Faith and anniversary of Vatican II, we can see that there remains much unfinished business from the Council. 

In my view that is nowhere so true as in the matter of governance. The Church is not a workers' co-operative or a bear pit where the strongest and loudest wins. Nor is it fittingly governed by means of labyrinthine manipulation of a structure of governance that is opaque and unaccountable.

Among the faithful the increasing polarity within the Church is a scandal whose pernicious effects are gathering momentum. Outside the Church, our critics have looked on in disbelief as we insist on holding to an uncompromising doctrinal line in the face of desperate pastoral imperatives, while failing to deal effectively with the glaring wrongs within our own structures. 

This has led to massive cynicism on the part of those who see not integrity and fidelity to Christ's message but only hypocrisy and a lack of pastoral finesse. If we continue to think that the pope is the only viable source of authority within the Church we will be doomed to a see-saw of polarised conservative vs. liberal personalities that will do nothing to make sure we all grow up. 

It is worth remembering that Archbishop Oscar Romero was thought to be a conservative figure when he took on authority over the Church of El Salvador. It was a close encounter with pastoral realities that led him onto the road of sanctity, martyrdom and lasting authority. 

Perhaps this tells us something more useful than political labelling about the man who should succeed Pope Benedict XVI. Perhaps this is the God-given moment for us to follow the Spirit's wisdom expressed in the Council, dismantle the very recent 'tradition' of a strong, centralised papacy and follow Newman's line in consulting the faithful in matters of doctrine, including that of church governance. 

Read more


Outgoing pope prepares for monk's life in Vatican

GMA News    Feb.12, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI, who has announced he will resign on February 28, will retire to a monastery tucked away inside the historic walls of the Holy See: so once the new pope is elected, there will be a former pontiff and his successor living in the Vatican.

Benedict, 85, who said he was standing down due to old age, will temporarily stay at the papal summer house at Castel Gandolfo near Rome.


During that time, the Mater Ecclesiae monastery building within the Vatican grounds -- an oasis of calm with its own vegetable garden and blooming flowerbeds -- will be renovated

. . . .

A stone's throw from St. Peter's Basilica, the monastery has housed Benedictine nuns, Poor Clares -- an order founded by saints Clare of Assisi and Francis of Assisi -- and sisters from the order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, who moved out in November when the renovations began. 

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Vatican plans big send off for pope, consultations begin

Philip Pullella       Feb.12, 2013


Cardinals around the world began informal contacts to discuss who should next lead the Church through a period of major crisis and the Vatican said it planned a big send-off for Pope Benedict before he becomes the first pontiff in centuries to resign.

Read more


With two weeks left, what will Benedict do?

Joshua J. McElwee       Feb.12, 2013


Until the moment of his resignation at 8 p.m. Rome time Feb. 28, the Vatican says Pope Benedict XVI is fully on the job as supreme pastor of the Roman Catholic church.

But as the first pontifex maximus to effectively give two weeks' notice, what exactly will he be doing?

Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesperson, said in a press bulletin Tuesday the pope intends to at least maintain his current public schedule, which includes a public service to mark the beginning of Lent Wednesday and a number of visits over coming days with pastors in Rome and bishops throughout Italy.

What Lombardi didn't answer is whether the pope intends to use his remaining time to direct the functioning of the various Vatican offices, over which he has final governance and alone can give explicit orders.

Until Feb. 28, those offices essentially face a ticking clock. Once Benedict formally steps aside, their leaders must resign and all their work, except that considered most essential for the basic functioning of the church, must come to a halt.

Among offices facing the clock are the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops, responsible for recommending priests for appointments as bishops in places throughout the world, and the powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, known for acting as the church's doctrinal watchdog.

Read more


From the Pope, a Progressive Moment

Sidney Callahan       Feb.12, 2013

Pope Benedict's resignation can be viewed as a positive development for Catholics seeking church reform. Even those who disagree with many of Benedict's theological views and actions, readily recognize and praise his essential goodness as a virtuous person. Benedict has served Christ long and faithfully with years of hard and difficult work. He deserves his accolades.  


Benedict's unprecedented announcement is in itself an edifying teaching act that will leave its mark in history. The pope stresses the primacy of conscience in determining his decision. Prayer guided his exercise of prudence. Benedict's authentic humility is revealed when he asks "pardon for his defects" and gives thanks his brothers for their "love and work." He shows an ecumenical spirit when he refers to "the Petrine ministry" as a "spiritual work" serving the Supreme Pastor, Jesus Christ. The pope must truly serve and never cling to power and status.    


It is also a progressive moment when Benedict states that his service in the papal office can be usefully evaluated in its effectiveness. Evangelical criticism of leaders is validated. Moreover, in the unprecedented act of resigning the pope accepts that his term of office should have a limit. Term limits and the election of leaders are key requirements for collegial participation and church reform. Would that women and the laity would be taking part in the coming election. Yet Vatican II reformers can take heart. The pope's act of conscience reminds us once again that God is a God of surprises.




Q&A on Benedict's bombshell

John L. Allen Jr.       Feb.12, 2013

When you're talking about a church with more than 2,000 years of history, you don't get a chance to use terms such as "uncharted waters" very often, but that's precisely where Catholicism finds itself in the wake of Benedict XVI's bombshell announcement that he plans to resign Feb. 28.

. . . .  

  • What      will Benedict's role being in the election of his successor?  . . . .
  • What      will Benedict do after the new pope is on the job?  . . . . 
  • What      are the implications of all this for future popes?  . . . . 

Read more


Pope's resignation stuns native Germany

Geir Moulson       Feb.11, 2013

Many in Germany haven't always had an easy relationship with the conservative-minded Pope Benedict XVI, but most on Monday praised their countryman's courage in deciding to step down from his position amid failing health.

. . . . 

The pope's elder brother, 89-year-old Georg Ratzinger, told the dpa news agency at his home in Regensburg that his brother had been advised by his doctor not to take any more trans-Atlantic trips and was having increasing difficulty walking.


"His age is weighing on him," Ratzinger said of the pontiff. "At this age my brother wants more rest."


He said he had known for months of the pope's decision. Others, however, were caught off guard.

. . . . 

Hans Kueng, a theologian who was an early colleague and friend of Ratzinger but later fell afoul of the Vatican for challenging church doctrine and became a vocal critic, told news agency dpa that he respected Benedict's decision - "but it has to be hoped that Ratzinger will not exert influence on the election of his successor."


He asserted that, given that Benedict has named many conservative cardinals, it would be hard to find someone "who could lead the church out of its many-layered crisis."

. . . .

Unlike Polish-born predecessor John Paul II, Benedict hasn't enjoyed undivided admiration in his country, which is roughly evenly split between Catholics and Protestants and where many didn't appreciate his conservative approach. The day after he was elected in 2005, best-selling newspaper Bild's front page screamed "We are the Pope!," but the left-leaning Tageszeitung countered with the headline "Oh, my God!" 

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Are you shocked, just shocked, by the pope's resignation? Maybe you shouldn't be

Bryan Cones       Feb.12, 2013

One of the consistent meme's running around the web right now is how shocked everyone is that the pope has resigned (for example, this story from Reuters). 

I'm actually a bit shocked--that anyone is shocked. Benedict spoke openly, both during the waning years of Pope John Paul II's papacy and after his own election, of the possibility of the pope resigning. After all, the pope is "only" a bishop, and bishops, according to canon law, are required to submit their resignations on their 75th birthdays. Benedict--elected at 78--always foresaw the possibility of his own resignation, especially since he was elected three years after the mandatory retirement age!


Benedict is doing his finest service to the church right now, demystifying the office of the papacy, reminding us all that it is an office, not a person, as Joshua McElwee has succintly pointed out in a brief story at NCR. He is not "abandoning the flock," as one Italian parliamentarian has put it. On the contrary, his resignation is an act of pastoral care and concern, both for the church as a whole and for himself.

Read more


Catholic Clergy Child Abuse Investigations Since 2005 ... and a Papal Resignation

Patrick J. Wall       Feb.11, 2013

The German Pope's resignation today as the Bishop of Rome (for health reasons) is the final lie in his Papacy. Since 2005, Benedict XVI's church has been the subject of  more civil and criminal inquiries of the Church since the time of the Protestant Reformation.


Just look at the sheer volume of child abuse and financial abuse inquiries during Benedict XVI's reign. The real story is how these worldwide child abuse inquires brought on the first resignation of a healthy Pope in eight centuries.


Click on the links to read the full reports.





United States





Will the Next Pope Make a Difference?

 Rabbi Arthur Waskow       Feb.11, 2013


 . . . .   The Pope's resignation comes just upon the heels of a stunning documentary film, Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God, on the priestly abuse of children and the cover-up of these priestly crimes, broadcast by HBO just a few days ago, about the resistance of deaf young men in Milwaukee to the Church's silence about their being abused.  The film makes clear his responsibility, when he was still Cardinal Ratzinger, for controlling and arranging the concealment of hundreds of cases of priests around the world who abused and raped children.  . . . .


Assessment and judgment of the past will be necessary to healing of the future. Perhaps the scandal of the priestly abuse of children and the even worse scandal that bishops, archbishops, cardinals, and popes protected those criminal priests will so stir the conscience of the College of Cardinals  - or at least their prudential judgment, about the reputation of the Church - that an unexpected choice will emerge. For the sake of the world as well as of the Church, let us hope so. Even pray so.

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African papal contender Peter Turkson wants change

 The Grio     Feb.12, 2013

One of Africa's brightest hopes to be the next pope, Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson, says the time is right for a pontiff from the developing world, and that he's up for the job "if it's the will of God."

In an interview Tuesday with The Associated Press, the day after Pope Benedict XVI announced he would soon resign, Turkson said the "young churches" of Africa and Asia have now become solid enough that they have produced "mature clergymen and prelates that are capable of exercising leadership also of this world institution."

The church in the Third World doesn't need a pope of its own to thrive, he said. It's done just fine growing exponentially with European pontiffs. But Turkson said a pope from the global south, where half of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics live, would "go a long way to strengthen them in their resolve."

Turkson, 64, became Ghana's first cardinal when he was elevated by Pope John Paul II in 2003, while he was archbishop of Cape Coast. Six years later, Benedict tapped him to head the Vatican's peace and justice office, which tackles issues such as the global financial meltdown, armed conflicts and ethical codes for the business world. 

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Spoiler alert: Pope Benedict XVI chooses his own successor! (says my crystal ball)

 Bryan Cones       Nov.25, 2012


That's how I read yesterday's elevation of Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Tagle to the rank of cardinal. (Don't worry, the NCR's John Allen called this one a long time ago.) Tagle joined five others in receiving the red hat, but he is the only one likely to succeed Pope Benedict.


Since I have invoked NCR's Allen, I will follow his point-by-point style in supporting my claim to foreknowledge.


1. Tagle is a theologian in Ratzinger's mold, with a twist. Tagle, who has his doctorate from the Catholic University of America, has been serving on the International Theological Commission, part of Ratzinger's former Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, since 1997. Having studied in the U.S., Tagle also speaks and writes in English, a necessity for any pope-to-be. The twist? He raised the issue of the shortage of priests at the 2005 synod of Asian bishops (code for a reconsideration of celibacy) and he is an outspoken advocate of the poor (has he read liberation theologians?). He's also from a person of color from a country that has suffered two rounds of colonialism (Spain and the United States), which give him a different theological voice, even if he's speaking in the "standard" European and North American theological categories.


2. He's from the Philippines, a traditionally Catholic but outside the Christianity's Near Eastern and European cradle. It is also a developing nation as well as a completely forgotten border in the sometimes violent encounter between Christianity and Islam (some Philippine islands are majority Muslim). Tagle's election as pope would signify a significant shift in focus to the Southern part of the globe, where most Catholics live, and to Asia, where most Christians are minorities.


3. He's young! At only 55, Tagle's election would make sense. Despite his longevity, Benedict XVI is a "caretaker pope"--I even think he sees himself that way. In five years, B16 would be in his 90s and would surely resign. At 60, Tagle would be set up for a 20-year long-term papacy.


4. He's a great communicator (in the mold of John Paul II) and already has a Facebook page and a YouTube channel. It wouldn't be news if Chito (Tagle's nickname) starting tweeting.


It's hard to find anyone who says anything bad about this guy: He takes the bus, eschews clerical privilege, rides a cheap bike, and exudes simplicity, humility, and down-to-earthiness. If the College of Cardinals were to choose him as the next bishop of Rome, they would be making a choice for change indeed.

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Catholic Stephen Colbert outraged by Pope Benedict's resignation

Meredith Blake     Feb.12, 2013

Pope Benedict XVI shocked the world by announcing his resignation on Monday, becoming the first pope in more than half a millennium to step down from his position. Late night's most renowned Roman Catholic owned the story Monday night, devoting nearly all of "The Colbert Report" to the papal bombshell.

He began by expressing his surprise at the pope's decision to step down. "Popes don't quit! God has a way of telling popes when it's time to retire. It's called death!" he proclaimed, adding, "You didn't see JP2 trading in his papal staff for a nine iron and moving to Boca."

. . . .

Worst of all, the pope's departure on Feb. 28  is going to leave the church's top vacant for as long as a month. Colbert predicted "a Catholic free-for-all" where the once-devout will be "passing out Pez dispensers full of birth control pills, using the Lord's name in vain, coveting thy neighbor's wife, killing anybody you want. It'll be like being a Presbyterian."

. . . .

Elsewhere in the pope-tastic episode, Colbert chatted with his show's resident chaplain, Father James Martin, about his own chances for becoming pope (alas, they're pretty slim) and with author Gary Wills about the role of priests in the church.

Read more (includes videos)  



Other things we have been reading 


A Short History of Lent

Norman Tanner SJ     


The earliest mention of Lent in the history of the Church comes from the council of Nicaea in 325 AD.  . . . .   The council issued twenty canons of a practical nature, dealing with various aspects of church life, and the fifth of these canons speaks of Lent.

. . . .

In many languages the word for Lent implies 'forty'.  . . . .  The English word 'Lent' has another, very beautiful derivation. It comes from the Anglo-Saxon (early English) word meaning to 'lengthen'. Lent comes at a time when the hours or daytime are 'lengthening', as spring approaches, and so it is a time when we too can 'lengthen' spiritually, when we can stretch out and grow in the Spirit. 

. . . .

We should not, therefore, place too much emphasis upon our own efforts. Just as the sun was thought to do the work of 'lengthening' the days during early Springtime, so it is the sun - in the sense of God's warmth and light - that does this work in our 'lengthening' and growing in Christ. In the English language, indeed, we have a beautiful play on the words 'sun' and 'son', which are pronounced identically. Just as the sun was seen to do the work of 'lengthening' the days in spring, so it is the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who does the work of 'lengthening' in our spiritual growth. This image provides a comfort for us in our busy modern world, where hyperactivity can become the norm. Our role during Lent is to cooperate with God's grace and initiatives, in a sense to relax in the presence of God, rather than to force the pace with our own efforts. 

Read more








Catholic bishops reject birth control compromise

David Morgan       Feb.8, 2013


U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the Obama Administration's latest bid for compromise over a hotly disputed health policy that requires employees at religiously affiliated institutions to have access to insurance coverage for contraceptives.


Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said his group would redouble efforts to reach an agreement on the contraceptives issue after more than a year of protest and scores of federal lawsuits from Catholics groups and other social conservatives.
. . . . 


The Catholic Health Association of the United States, the leading church-affiliated healthcare provider, declined to comment on Thursday, saying it was still seeking input from its 2,200 members, including 600 hospitals.


The contraceptives coverage is backed by liberal Catholic groups and women's rights activists.


The healthcare law already requires secular employers to cover all contraceptives and sterilization methods approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including the "morning after" pill.

Read more



Judge dismisses Illinois lawsuit against contraception mandate

Manya A. Brachear       Feb.8, 2013


A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by six Roman Catholic institutions in Illinois against the Obama administration over the issue of birth control and the government's health insurance mandate


U.S. Judge John Darrah ruled on Friday that because the dioceses and Catholic Charities of Joliet and Springfield, as well as Catholic Charities of Chicago and St. Patrick High School on Chicago's West Side, had filed their lawsuits before the mandate went into effect, their complaints were premature.


Darrah's ruling comes exactly one week after the Obama administration announced it had opened the door for religious nonprofits to rely on a third-party company to cover the cost of federally approved contraception and sterilization procedures. 

Read more



Los Angeles' Archbishop Gomez wins the Renault Shocked, Shocked Award

 Eugene Cullen Kennedy       Feb.8, 2013


Archbishop Jose Gomez has earned and retired the Shocked, Shocked Award based on the response of Captain Louis Renault, played by Claude Rains in the movie "Casablanca," who, when pressed for his reasons for closing down Rick's Café, says indignantly as he is handed his winnings for the night, that he is "shocked, shocked," to learn that gambling has been going on there.


Gomez uses Renault's tones in a letter relieving his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, of his administrative and public duties, professing to be shocked, shocked, to learn from the court-ordered release of files on priests that sex abuse has been going on in the archdiocese of Los Angeles.

. . . .

This is the same Mahony he praised when, on succeeding him in March 2011, said, "I am very grateful ... to serve the Church with a mentor and leader like Cardinal Mahony."


Mahony responded with an open letter in which he notes that after Gomez became official archbishop, he was "personally involved with the Compliance Audit of 2012 ... Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors."

. . . . 

Gomez's "shocked, shocked" response may seem somewhat affected when one learns of the suit against a Fr. John M. Fiala in which Gomez was listed as one of the defendants. He is not reported to have used words like "brutal," "painful," "sad" or "evil" or to have commented at all on this situation. Fiala was accused, according to the San Antonio Express-News, of "repeatedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy, at times by gunpoint, in hotel rooms and during catechism classes." Fiala was arrested "on a charge of attempting to hire a hitman to kill the youth, now 19." 

. . . .  

Gomez, now aghast at the policies of his predecessor, has, however, made no move to change them and has not stopped payment on the checks to the lawyers and insurers who continue to be involved in carrying them out.


Whether Gomez is the Renault of Catholicism or just a prelate so caught up in his Opus Dei devotions and pursuing his own ecclesiastical goals that he really missed the sex abuse scandal that has engulfed the church for a decade, his behavior in making Mahony the principal scapegoat for clerical offenses does suggest a keen sense of career timing.


He knew what he was doing when he signed off on the near-million-dollar settlement just before ascending to Los Angeles. Is he now making sure he is eligible for future honors by clearing his record by accusing the man he once identified as his mentor as now the villain in the sex abuse tragedy in Los Angeles?

Read more



And the Oscar goes to" "The Sting LA Style"

Vinnie Nauheimer       Feb.10, 2013


Accepting the Oscar for "The Sting LA Style" are Roger Cardinal Mahony and Archbishop Jose Gomez for their stellar performances in a remake of "The Sting." Produced, directed, and orchestrated by the Vatican, it is the story of two bishops who feign fighting with each other in order to collect vast sums of money from an unsuspecting laity. Gomez plays the part of a white knight who rides in, releases documents (which was his legal obligation), derides his predecessor, and saves the Los Angeles diocese from the last vestiges of child sex abuse. Mahony, for his part, takes umbrage at being silenced by his protege and being blamed for his dastardly deeds. Could we expect anything less from the diocese that contains Hollywood? Certainly not!


Anyone believing the sincerity of the this "made for public consumption" feud should reach into their Tinker Bell pouches and throw some pixie dust on themselves so they can remain in La La Land. Are we really supposed to believe that Gomez was unaware of the extent of Mahony's malfeasance? No more than that insulting excuse that Mahony made when he proffered, "nothing in my training prepared me for priests raping children." If true, we ought to put both their faces on the Naivete Awards! Mahony for not knowing that the rape, sodomization, and molestation of children was a heinous, immoral, and criminal act. Gomez, who obviously doesn't read, deserves his award in honor of his empty protestations that he knew nothing of how bad things were under Mahony.  . . . .


Why the wink, wink? Money, money, and more money! 

. . . . 

The Sting LA Style is on now because monies have to be replaced! Mahony and Gomez publicly pretend to dislike each other like Newman and Redford did in The Sting, but the goal is not to fleece a mobster; their goal is to take more money from the laity. Los Angeles is the largest diocese in the richest country in the world, and both Gomez and Mahony are company men. Only those who still believe in the Easter Bunny would be naive enough to believe that the Vatican would give this prize diocese to anyone but a company man. This script was written as a contingency plan when Gomez was given the nod; of the five million Catholics in the diocese forty percent of LA Catholics are Latino. Coincidence? 

. . . .

Several papers have pronounced a bishop silencing another bishop as unprecedented. Not so. This same scenario was recently played out in Ireland where Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin, made a big public display of demanding the resignations of three bishops, who like Mahony, had been instrumental in the cover-up of the sexual abuse of minors. After a suitable and very public fight, the bishops agreed to tender their resignations to Pope Benedict XVI who promptly refused to accept them. Martin went down as an Irish hero for battling the Vatican, and the three bishops went back to work, business as usual. 

. . . . 

According to the LA Times, Gomez has already been in touch with the New York Company, Guidance in Giving Inc. He is using professionals, like his predecessor, to study whether or not this charade worked and when the pew Catholics of Los Angeles will be ripe enough for another round of financial plucking. That folks is what this drama between Gomez and Mahony is all about.


It's all about the money! 

Read more


What went wrong in the Catholic Church?

Michael D'Antonio      Feb.10, 2013

 The files released last week by America's largest Catholic archdiocese revealed new and disturbing details about how church officials schemed to protect priests accused of molesting children. But was the scandal in Los Angeles really so much worse than in other places?

Sadly, no. The details emerging from the documents mirror what happened in archdioceses across the country, as church officials time and again put their own concerns above the needs of victims.

. . . . 

Time and again church leaders have responded to complaints against priests with cover-ups and deflections, and they have been unable to deal with scandal in an honest and convincing way.

But why?


I've done a lot of thinking about that question. One part of the answer, I believe, has to do with the nature of the priesthood. To be ordained is to be elevated, to be taken into a special and higher relationship with God. That's something Catholic officials had a hard time letting go of when it came time to see molesting priests in their ranks for what they were: criminals.


Another factor, I believe, was Catholicism's attitudes toward sex. On the one hand, it is something sacred when part of marriage. But church teachings forbid virtually all sexual expression outside of marriage and condemn homosexual sex without exception. Moreover, priests are expected to be celibate, which puts them at an even greater distance from the realities of ordinary life.

Sex and power. These are two factors that Catholic leaders have failed to confront, even as the church falls down around them. Any recovery from the great scandal will require change in both areas. Thirty years on, even under the threat of criminal prosecution, they seem incapable of the kind of self-examination that would allow such change. Instead they fight against truth-telling and suffer further ignominy. No wonder this is a scandal without end. 

Read more

Michael D'Antonio is the author of "Mortal Sins: Sex, Crime and the Era of
Catholic Scandal
" to be published in April.


Can science and faith serve each other?

Nelson Bock       Feb.7, 2013

This weekend is the convergence of two observances that deal with facets of the issue of the relationship of faith and science. It is both "Evolution Weekend", sponsored by The Clergy Letter Project, and the annual Preach-in on Global Warming sponsored by Interfaith Power and Light. Both projects insist that as people of faith we need to integrate the insights of scientific inquiry into our faith-based understanding of what it means to live with integrity on the earth.

. . . . 

What science is teaching us lately is that . . . . that we are in fact part of nature, that we are interconnected and interdependent with nature, that our own well-being is intrinsically connected to the well-being of all the other creatures with whom we share this earth. 

. . . . 

 If there's one truth that evolution illustrates, it's that we came from the same place as all the rest of the creatures, that our history and our destiny is irrevocably bound up with the rest of creation.

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Priest who admitted groping boy appointed to high-profile position in Newark Archdioces

Mark Mueller     Feb.4, 2013


A Roman Catholic priest who confessed to groping a teenage boy 12 years ago has been named to a prestigious post in the Archdiocese of Newark, drawing furious criticism from advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse.


The Rev. Michael Fugee, who is barred from unsupervised contact with children under a binding agreement with law enforcement officials, has been appointed co-director of the Office of Continuing Education and Ongoing Formation of Priests, the archdiocese recently announced in its newspaper, the Catholic Advocate.

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Newark archdiocese stands by ministry of priest accused of sex abuse

Carl Bunderson      Feb.6, 2013


The Archdiocese of Newark affirmed its decision to allow a priest accused of abusing a minor to remain in ministry, stressing that they are complying with authorities and prohibiting any interaction alone with children.

. . . .

"it certainly is not a prestigious assignment...Father simply has to send out emails and notices to the priests in the diocese talking about this or that seminar or workshop if they want to take advantage of it, that's it." 

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Michael Enright in conversation with Father Tony Flannery


Michael Enright in conversation with Father Tony Flannery, Redemptorist Priest, founder of the Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland, writer -- and a priest on the outs with the Vatican.
LISTEN 25:01




Abp Chaput Throws Gauntlet at +Dolan's Feet

Michael Sean Winters       Feb.5, 2013



When I got an email last night asking if I had seen Archbishop Charles Chaput's statement on the HHS mandate revisions announced Friday, I thought to myself, "Who died and elected Archbishop Chaput the president of the USCCB?"


Since the administration announced its revisions on Friday, one of the remarkable qualities of the discussion has been the way other key stakeholders have refrained from issuing any but the most anodyne, cautious statement. The Catholic Health Association, Catholic Charities USA, other bishops, Notre Dame, if they have commented at all have basically repeated the line put out by the USCCB - we are looking at the issue more closely. 

. . . . 


So, it struck me as strange that Archbishop Chaput would get out in front of the conference by issuing a statement on his own. This "speaking out of turn" challenges the collegiality and unity of the conference itself. But, we all know Chaput is a bit of a culture warrior, he fancies himself exercising a prophetic voice, and so I was not entirely surprised he would speak out of turn and issue a blistering criticism of the Obama administration's revisions of the rule.   


What I did not expect is that Chaput's statement would be a much more direct, even snarky, challenge to the leadership of Cardinal Dolan. Here are Chaput's closing remarks:


One of the issues America's bishops now face is how best to respond to an HHS mandate that remains unnecessary, coercive and gravely flawed.  In the weeks ahead the bishops of our country, myself included, will need both prudence and courage - the kind of courage that gives prudence spine and results in right action, whatever the cost.  Please pray that God guides our discussions.


Does his Grace of Philadelphia really think His Eminence of New York lacks a spine? 

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A Spokane Solution?

Kevin Clarke       Feb.11, 2013

After Bishop Chaput's recent scorching of the latest regulatory revision from the Department of Health and Human Services, Spokane's Bishop Blase Cupich has jumped in where episcopal angels may have feared to tread, daring to offer some not-negative comments about the recent accomodation-exemption bureaucratic editing from the Obama administration. In a letter to diocesan employees posted on the Spokane web site, Bishop Cupich emphasized a point that he worried might be getting lost in all the rhetorical kerfluffling: that the church has long supported affordable health care for all. He even decried "scare tactics" which suggest that the church may be moving toward a nuclear option in terms of its hospitals and social services in light of the ongoing policy dispute over the contraception mandate with HHS.


He said the removal of the government's four-point criteria for determining eligibility for a religious exemption to H.H.S. new contraception requirements, "which we requested, has the potential of being a breakthrough moment. 

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Shame on the leaders of the Catholic Church for their sweeping campaign against gay marriage

Peter Stanford       Feb.8, 2013


As an attempt to influence policy, it has been high-profile but ultimately unsuccessful. The Catholic authorities have surpassed themselves with letters read out in churches, archbishops in prime spots on radio and TV, mailshots to MPs and the efficient lobbying of parents and pupils through the Catholic schools' network. In the run-up to this week's House of Commons' vote, no one can have missed the fact that Catholicism regards gay marriage as, at best, the theft of "our" sacrament, and, at worst, as the beginning of the end for our civilisation. 


It drives me - and many Catholics I have spoken to lately - to despair. Are these really our Church's priorities? Jesus, in the Gospels, utters not a single word about homosexuality. But as the nation confronts unprecedented austerity, rising inequalities in wealth, and debates over immigration, education and the alarming growth of an underclass there are passages aplenty from the Good Book that are directly relevant to what we collectively are going through. When are our leaders going to start making as big a song and dance about these?


I have listened carefully to the Church's objections to gay marriage - the least I owe it as a Mass-going member - but I still can't see what the problem is. The official logic, that allowing gay marriage will somehow diminish every heterosexual marriage, including my own, is utterly lost on me. 

. . . .  

A stark choice faces the Catholic authorities. If they want to influence national debates by drawing on the social teaching of our Church, they need to start speaking up as forcefully as they have done in recent weeks against gay marriage in defence of the poor, the disadvantaged and the marginalised. In the three, soon-to-be four years since his appointment as leader of the five million Catholics in England and Wales, Archbishop Vincent Nichols has been all but invisible on the national stage on everything save gay marriage. 




Vatican signals options for protecting gay couples

Alessandro Speciale       Feb.4, 2013



A high-ranking Vatican official on Monday (Feb. 4) voiced support for giving unmarried couples some kind of legal protection even as he reaffirmed the Catholic Church's opposition to same-sex marriage.


Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, also said the church should do more to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination in countries where homosexuality is illegal.

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German Catholic Church may back some "morning-after pills"

Tom Heneghan,      Feb.4, 2013


Germany's Catholic Church may approve some so-called morning-after pills for rape victims after a leading cardinal unexpectedly announced they did not induce abortions and could be used in Catholic hospitals.


Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne, an ally of German-born Pope Benedict, changed his policy after two Catholic hospitals refused to treat a rape victim because they could not prescribe the pill, which is taken after sex to avoid pregnancy.


. . . .


"The German Bishops' Conference is holding a regular meeting in two weeks and the issue will certainly be on the agenda," Cologne archdiocese spokeswoman Nele Harbeke said on Monday.  "The bishops' conference must in principle agree on a common line."

. . . .

Meisner's change of mind made headlines because he is known for his outspoken conservative views. The surprise was compounded when another conservative, Berlin Archbishop Rainer Woelki, urged the Church to debate the issue.


Meisner said he had changed his view after learning from scientists that some newer pills did not abort fertilized eggs but rather prevented fertilization altogether. 

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'Forgetful of History': Top Vatican Cleric Criticized for 'Pogrom' Remark

Spiegel       Feb.5, 2013


The doctrinal watchdog of the Catholic church, German Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, has run into criticism from politicians for saying the church was being subjected to a "pogrom sentiment" because of its position on the ordination of women, same-sex partnerships and the celibacy of priests.

. . . .  

"Comparisons with the Holocaust are tasteless when it comes to divergent opinions in our society about current issues such as the role of marriage, family and registered life partnerships," Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger of the business-friendly Free Democratic Party (FDP) told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.


The co-leader of the opposition Greens, Claudia Roth, called Müller's statement "utterly unacceptable and dangerously forgetful of history."

. . . .

Another senior Greens politician, Volker Beck, said: "He should take back the use of the term 'pogrom sentiment' as soon as possible, and express regret."

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Vatican credit-card crisis over

Gazzetta del Sud       Feb.12, 2013



A credit-card and ATM block that has plagued visitors to the Vatican since January is over, a spokesman said Tuesday. "The system of electronic payments with ATMs and credit cards has been reactivated," spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said. He said the new service was "guaranteed" by a deal with Swiss company Aduno Sa. On January 1 the Bank of Italy froze all credit-card and ATM transactions inside the Vatican City over its failure to fully implement international anti-money-laundering standards. In late December, the central bank denied Deutsche Bank Italy, the Vatican's former provider of electronic-payment services, a permit because of the Vatican's shortcomings in financial controls and oversight. 

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Book claims victims of clerical abuse are afraid to speak out

Derek Scally       Feb.5, 2013


Polish victims of clerical abuse live in a climate of fear and are afraid to speak out against their maltreatment, a new book has claimed.


The book, Be Afraid: Victims of Paedophilia by the Catholic Church, examines 27 cases of alleged abuse and accuses Catholic bishops of ignoring abuse allegations.


Warsaw-based Dutch journalist Ekke Overbeek said Polish abuse victims were afraid of going public because of the continued prominent place the Catholic church occupies in Polish life. Slowly the issue is being addressed in the Polish media. 

Read more




Peter Isely on Catholic Church Sexual Abuse

 Allison Hope Weiner          Jan.31, 2013



Abuse survivors advocate Peter Isely joins Media Mayhem to discuss the patterns of abuse that plague the Catholic Church and why they are particularly susceptible to shielding pedophiles. He dispels the forced link between homosexuality and the pedophile priests in the church, and also offers a chilling estimation of how far reaching the abuse is.


 Media Mayhem - Peter Isely on Catholic Church Sexual Abuse




Philly archdiocese's fund-raising campaign is falling short

Harold Brubaker       Feb.10, 2013


When the Archdiocese of Philadelphia set out in late 2008 to raise $200 million in donations, Catholics stepped up generously and pledged $221 million through January 2011.

The Heritage of Faith/Vision of Hope campaign gathered $185 million in pledges for the archdiocese and $36 million specifically for parishes, the archdiocese reported.

But pledging is one thing. Paying is another.

Church officials said in late November, in a long-delayed report, that as of June 30, 2011 - just six months after the pledge period officially ended - collections were falling short. They estimated that they would not collect $41 million, or 22 percent of the $185 million promised to the archdiocese, spokesman Kenneth Gavin said recently. The estimate of the shortfall could go up or down.

Through June 2012, Heritage of Faith had collected $85 million in cash, the November report said. Archdiocesan officials would not provide a corresponding figure for anticipated collection shortfalls. 

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Report: Irish state sent thousands of women to infamous workhouses

Laura Smith-Spark and Peter Taggart       Feb.6, 2013


More than 130 unmarked graves at a former convent discovered in Dublin in 1993 first brought to public consciousness the plight of thousands of women forced to work at Catholic-run workhouses in Ireland -- an ugly legacy that's the focus of a new report from the Irish government.


The report, released Tuesday, acknowledges that Ireland's government sent thousands of women and girls to "harsh and physically demanding" workhouses known as Magdalen Laundries, where they worked and lived without pay, sometimes for years. The laundries operated from 1922 to 1996


In numbers: the report into the State's role in the Magdalene Laundries



Europe's human rights chief says Magdalenes deserve State apology

Christine Bohan      Feb.8, 2013


Europe's human rights chief has said Magdalene Laundry survivors deserve an apology from the State - and compensation.


The call by Nils Muiznieks, the Council of Europe's Commissioner for Human Rights, puts further pressure on Enda Kenny to issue a full apology, which has so far not been forthcoming.


"Women victims of forced labour in Magdalene laundries in #Ireland and their descendants deserve State apologies and restorative measures," Muiznieks said in a tweet today

Read more




Vatican official thanks media for uncovering Church abuse

Philip Pullella       Feb.5, 2013



The Vatican's new sexual crimes prosecutor on Tuesday acknowledged that the U.S. media "did a service" to the Catholic Church through its aggressive reporting on child abuse that helped the Church "confront the truth".


The rare acknowledgement came from Father Robert Oliver, a canon lawyer from the U.S. diocese of Boston, speaking at his first public appearance since becoming the Vatican's "Promoter of Justice" last week.


"I think that certainly those who continued to put before us that we need to confront this problem did a service," he said in response to a question on whether the role of an aggressive American media was, in hindsight, a blessing for the Church

Read more



Amid molestation scandal, archdiocese mulls $200-million fund-raiser

Harriet Ryan      Feb.5, 2013


In the midst of renewed public outrage over its handling of the priest molestation cases, the Los Angeles Archdiocese is considering a $200-million fund-raising campaign.

The archdiocese has hired a New York company, Guidance in Giving, to study the feasibility of a capital campaign that would shore up the church's finances.

The archdiocese is $80 million in debt, according to a recent church financial report. In 2007, the archdiocese agreed to a record $600-million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of priest abuse.

The consultants conducting the six-month study are interviewing every pastor in the archdiocese, as well as lay leaders.

Read more



...and I can be a priest


Father Giertych, theologian to the Pope, recently stated that women can't be priests because priests love the church in a characteristically "male way" when they show concern "about structures, about the buildings of the church, about the roof of the church which is leaking..." 

We say, "I'll fix the roof ... and I can be a priest."  

Submit your photo

Also tweet your photo to the Vatican  with the hashtag #andicanbeapriest.     Eg.  

I can fix a roof...#andicanbeapriest @Pontifex




Call for Catholic burial of Richard III

Tablet       Feb.8, 2013


Richard III

A   reconstruction of Richard III shown at Monday's press conference

Hundreds of people have signed a petition calling for the remains of Richard III to be re-interred in a Catholic burial site according to the rites of the Church. 

Following DNA testing, a skeleton discovered beneath a car park in the centre of Leicester was confirmed on Monday as being that of the king who was killed in battle in 1485, leading to Henry VII being crowned as the first Tudor monarch.


It is understood that Richard's remains are to be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral, in whose parish they were found. The king was laid to rest in the Franciscans' Greyfriars church, in Leicester, which was demolished during the Reformation. 

Read more




New Translation of the Roman Missal  


One year on: verdict on the new translation

Abigail Frymann and Elena Curti   Feb.7,2013


. . . .

Our survey, conducted on The Tablet website from 5 December 2012 to 9 January 2013, invited respondents to rate the new translation against the old, to air their views on the language and tone and to give their response to some of the more controversial elements of the new text. 

. . . .

Which Mass do respondents prefer?
New English translation: 24 per cent.
Old English translation: 51 per cent. 
Latin in the Ordinary Form: 6 per cent.
Extraordinary Form: 19 per cent (10 per cent of UK and Ireland responses, 21 per cent of US responses). 

. . . .

What priests think of the new translation
Seventy per cent of clergy who participated in the survey disliked the new text. Two-thirds were unhappy with its more formal style and almost three-quarters (72 per cent) found some of the language obsequious and distracting. Two-thirds of priests found the new text less prayerful. There was strong opposition to 'consubstantial' (67 per cent), 'for many' (63 per cent), 'chalice' (61 per cent), 'through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault' (60 per cent). Only 41 per cent of priests reported always striking their breasts at this point, while another 16 per cent said they did so sometimes. Around half of priests approved of 'And with your spirit' and 'under my roof'. Four-fifths said they always or sometimes saw people in the pews struggling to follow the text, and almost three-quarters had still seen priests finding it hard to say the Eucharistic Prayers. 

Some 69 per cent of clergy preferred the old translation, against 22 per cent who preferred the new text. Fewer than a third considered the new text an improvement, and 70 per cent felt it urgently needed to be revised. Just over half believed they should be allowed to celebrate Mass using the old translation. 


What Religious think of the new translation
Four out of five - 80 per cent - did not like the new translation and the same proportion did not believe that it was more prayerful and reverent. Only a quarter reported striking their breast at 'through my fault, through my fault, through my most grievous fault' and the proportion that did not accept the various text changes highlighted hovered at around 70 per cent. Ninety per cent said they always or sometimes saw people in the pews struggling to follow the new text. Given a choice, 81 per cent would opt for Mass in the previous English version. 

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