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Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum;
habemus Papam:

Eminentissimum ac Reverendissimum Dominum,

Dominum Georgium Marium
Sanctae Romanae Ecclesiae Cardinalem Bergoglio
qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum


Pope Francis Elected: Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina to be New Leader of the Catholic Church

Pope Francis Elected: Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina to be New Leader of the Catholic Church


Official text of Pope Francis' 1st speech to world
Associated Press       Mar.13, 2013

Brothers and sisters, good evening!

You know that it was the duty of the Conclave to give Rome a Bishop. It seems that my brother Cardinals have gone to the ends of the earth to get one... but here we are... I thank you for your welcome. The diocesan community of Rome now has its Bishop. Thank you! And first of all, I would like to offer a prayer for our Bishop Emeritus, Benedict XVI. Let us pray together for him, that the Lord may bless him and that Our Lady may keep him.

(Our Father... Hail Mary... Glory Be... )

And now, we take up this journey: Bishop and People. This journey of the Church of Rome which presides in charity over all the Churches. A journey of fraternity, of love, of trust among us. Let us always pray for one another. Let us pray for the whole world, that there may be a great spirit of fraternity. It is my hope for you that this journey of the Church, which we start today, and in which my Cardinal Vicar, here present, will assist me, will be fruitful for the evangelization of this most beautiful city.

And now I would like to give the blessing, but first - first I ask a favor of you: before the Bishop blesses his people, I ask you to pray to the Lord that he will bless me: the prayer of the people asking the blessing for their Bishop. Let us make, in silence, this prayer: your prayer over me.


Now I will give the Blessing to you and to the whole world, to all men and women of good will. (Blessing)

Brothers and sisters, I leave you now. Thank you for your welcome. Pray for me and until we meet again. We will see each other soon. Tomorrow I wish to go and pray to Our Lady, that she may watch over all of Rome. Good night and sleep well!


 The ubiquity of screens in eight short years



"Francis, go repair my house": papal advice from a saint?
Simon Barrows      Mar.13, 2013

Others will also recall it now, but I am grateful to Mark Chater, director of Culham St Gabriel's Trust in Oxford, for reminding me of one of the most significant sayings said to have been received from Christ by St Francis of Assisi: "Francis, go repair my house which, as you see, is falling completely to ruin."

. . . .

The resonance with a 12th century Saint who is revered well beyond Catholicism, who is recognised for his humility and voluntary poverty, who is an inspiration to peacemakers, and above all who challenged a wealthy and top-heavy Church, looks very powerful in the context of the crises the Vatican is currently presiding over -- not least within its own structures and culture.

. . . .

The symbolism of all this will be immensely powerful, not least for those whose hope and prayer is for a wind of revivifying change to blow through the corridors of the modern Catholic Church, and perhaps especially its hierarchy and Curia (administrative bureaucracy).

Robert Micken, correspondent of The Tablet newspaper, currently in Rome, said this evening (13 March 2013) that we might expect not just a challenge to the ruling bureaucracy, but "a reform to simplicity" from Pope Francis. It will be fascinating to see what unfolds.
Read more



Vatican rejects claims that Bergoglio collaborated with junta
* One of the two priests kidnapped when then-Fr Bergoglio was Jesuit provincial also says claims are false

Tablet     Mar.15 2013

In a prepared statement, the spokesman for the Vatican press office, Fr Federico Lombardi said today that the claims against the Pope, which date from the time that he was Provincial of the Jesuit order in Argentina in 1970s, were entirely false and defamatory.

Fr Lombardi said they referred to an episode recounted in a publication which he said was known to have an anti-clerical agenda. According to Fr Lombardi, the book claimed that the then-Fr Jorge Bergolio did nothing to protect two Jesuits who were kidnapped, interrogated and tortured by the military.

Fr Lombardi said there was no concrete evidence to support this claim.

. . . .
According to one of the two Jesuits who was kidnapped, who was interviewed in Germany this week, the claims that the future Pope did nothing to help them was false. He said that together with the other Jesuit they had concelebrated Mass together as a public demonstration of their solidarity
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ADL Congratulates New Pope Francis
Anti-Defamation League       Mar.13, 2013

Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director issued the following statement:

We congratulate the new Pope and wish him well in his important new responsibility.  We believe that the election of Francis I is a significant moment in the history of the Church.  We look forward to working with him to continue to foster Catholic-Jewish relations as we have with his predecessors.  There is much in his record that reassures us about the future.

Under his leadership in Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio made important strides in maintaining positive Catholic-Jewish relations following the transformational papacies of Pope John Paul II andPope Benedict XVI - pontiffs who launched historic reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Jewish people.

Cardinal Bergoglio maintained a close relationship with the Jewish community in Argentina.  He has celebrated various Jewish holidays with the Argentinian Jewish community, including Chanukah where he lit a candle on the menorah, attended a Buenos Aires synagogue for Slichot, a pre-Rosh Hashana service, the Jewish New Year, as well as a commemoration of Kristallnacht, the wave of violent Nazi attacks against Jews before World War II.

In 2010, during a commemoration of the 1994 bombing, Cardinal Bergoglio called it "a house of solidarity" and added "God bless them and help them accomplish their work," which showed his dedication and support in standing up against extremism.

In 2010, he together with Argentinian Rabbi Abraham Skorka, published the book "On Heaven and Earth" addressing issues of interfaith dialogue.  The new Pope's sensitivity to the Jews emerges from this work in his comments on the Church's approach to the Jewish people since Vatican II, the Holocaust and the Arab-Israeli conflict.


Pope Francis: A Friend To Muslims
Palash R. Ghosh |     Mar.15, 2013

The former Cardinal and Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, was almost removed from his position in the church eight years ago by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, in a dispute over the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam.

In 2005, Bergoglio expressed his disapproval over comments Benedict had made castigating Mohammed.
. . . .

In response to the brouhaha, Bergoglio, speaking through an aide, told Newsweek Argentina of his "unhappiness" with Benedict's statements and urged church members to criticize the Pope.

"Pope Benedict's statement don't reflect my own opinions," Bergoglio stated at the time.

"These statements will serve to destroy in 20 seconds the careful construction of a relationship with Islam that Pope John Paul II built over the last twenty years."

Benedict did not take these statements kindly.

Almost immediately, the Vatican removed Joaquín Piña, the Archbishop of Puerto Iguazú in northern Argentina, who also criticized Benedict. As a subordinate to Bergoglio, Pina's removal was a signal that the Cardinal of Buenos Aires himself could be the next to go.

As it turned out, Bergoglio kept his position, but in a protest cancelled a flight to Rome to boycott a synod Benedict had called.

. . . . 

Bergoglio reportedly has long enjoyed good relations with both the Muslim community in Argentina.

The Buenos Aires Herald newspaper reported that when Bergoglio was elected Pope, two senior Muslim officials in the country, Sheik Mohsen Ali and Dr. Sumer Noufouri, Secretary General of the Islamic Center of the Republic of Argentina, both praised the news.
Read more


Obama sends prayers, warm wishes to new pope
John Lederman       Mar.13, 2013

President Barack Obama offered prayers and warm wishes Wednesday to the newly elected pope, applauding the selection of the first pope from the Americas as a sign of the region's strength and vitality.

He said his joy on the historic election of former Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of Argentina, who chose the papal name Francis, was shared by millions of Hispanic Americans, the majority of whom are Roman Catholics.

"As a champion of the poor and the most vulnerable among us, he carries forth the message of love and compassion that has inspired the world for more than 2,000 years - that in each other, we see the face of God," Obama said in a statement.

Vice President Joe Biden, the first Catholic to be elected vice president, will lead the U.S. delegation to Francis' installation in Rome, according to a White House official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the trip had not been announced publicly.
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Pope Francis' humility: stops by hotel to get bags
Nicole Winfield     Mar.14, 2013

Pope Francis put his humility on display during his first day as pontiff Thursday, stopping by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself in a decidedly different style for the papacy usually ensconced inside the frescoed halls of the Vatican.

The break from the tradition-minded previous pontificate was evident even in Francis' wardrobe choices: He kept the simple pectoral cross of his days as bishop and eschewed the red cape thatBenedict XVI wore when he was presented to the world for the first time in 2005 - choosing instead the simple white cassock of the papacy.

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, began his first day as pope making an early morning visit in a simple Vatican car to a Roman basilica dedicated to the Virgin Mary and prayed before an icon of the Madonna.

. . . .

Pope Francis put his humility on display during his first day as pontiff Thursday, stopping by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself in a decidedly different style for the papacy usually ensconced inside the frescoed halls of the Vatican.

. . . .

He displayed that same sense immediately after his election, shunning the special sedan that was to transport him to the hotel so he could ride on the bus with other cardinals, and refusing even an elevated platform from which he would greet them, according to U.S. Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

"He met with us on our own level," Dolan said.

Later, during dinner, the new pope addressed a few words to the cardinals:

"'May God forgive you for what you have done,'" Francis told them, Lombardi said.
Read more


The Pope Francis I know
Margaret Hebblethwaite       Mar.14, 2013

There are two views on Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. The world has warmed to the first Latin American pope, whose election has cracked open the Eurocentrism of the Catholic church, and who came across on the balcony as so humble, so genuine, so holy. But that is not all that can be said.

In the last 10 years that I have been watching this Argentinian papabile, I have heard two opposite opinions. One sees him as humble, the other as authoritarian. One as progressive and open, the other as conservative and severe.

. . . .
From 1973 to 1979, as Jesuit provincial, Bergoglio had a confrontation with a couple of priests, Orland Yorio and Francisco Jalics, who were living in a poor barrio and carrying out dangerous work against the military dictatorship. They felt betrayed by Bergoglio because instead of endorsing their work and protecting them, he demanded they leave the barrio. When they refused, they had to leave the Jesuit order. When they were later "disappeared" and tortured, it seemed to many that Bergoglio had been siding with the repression. It was the kind of complex situation that is capable of multiple interpretations, but it is far more likely Bergoglio was trying to save their lives.

When I spoke with fellow Jesuits from other countries about Bergoglio's prospects for becoming pope, I was taken aback by their dislike. He was harsh and disciplinarian, they said, and never went to visit his Jesuit brothers in the curia in Rome. According to Marcó, the alienation between Bergoglio and the Jesuits was a thorn in his side that he bore with silent patience.

Because of issues like this, and his confrontations with the Argentinian government on questions such as same-sex marriage, he has been classed as a conservative. But a different picture has been painted by one of Bergoglio's friends, a radical feminist and Catholic called Clelia Luro, who is about as far to the left on the ecclesial spectrum as you can go. She married a prominent and respected bishop, Jerónimo Podestá - one of the leaders of the progressive reforms that followed the second Vatican council - and was sometimes seen concelebrating mass with him, the kind of thing that makes a Catholic cleric's hair stand on end. But Bergoglio reacted differently

. . . . 

When Podesta was dying, Bergoglio was the only Catholic cleric who went to visit him in hospital, and, when he died, the only one who showed public recognition of his great contribution to the Argentinian church.

Now he is pope, we can hope Francis may start not only with a new name but with a clean bill of moral health, and that the world can make its own judgment on what kind of man he is - not based on misunderstandings that come from painful and difficult moments in the past, but responding to his call from St Peter's balcony for "fraternity, love and trust among us". I believe he will not let us down, and will be a beacon of Franciscan poverty and simplicity in a Vatican that still operates like a medieval court.
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Pope Francis' style change found in way he greets cardinals
Joshua J. McElwee       Mze.15, 2013

Changes in style between Pope Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, were highlighted Friday as the new pontiff greeted the entire College of Cardinals for the first time.

Although speaking with prepared remarks, Francis frequently put the papers aside and added off-the-cuff comments as he gestured widely and looked at the cardinals in the audience.

After thanking Cardinals Angelo Sodano, Tarcisio Bertone and Giovanni Battista Re by name for their roles in handling church governance in the time between the popes, Francis then said he and many among the group "are in the third stage of our lives."

"We are in our old age, but it is the time of giving," Francis said.

"Old age is the seat of life's wisdom. People who are wise go a long way, like old Simeon in the temple, who met Jesus," he said.

. . . .

Standing at the center of the ornate Clementine Hall, Francis greeted most of the cardinals with the traditional European double-kiss on the cheeks. Several times he made a writing gesture, perhaps indicating the cardinals should leave a note about the meeting or provide their email address.

One cardinal gave the pope a yellow bracelet, and Francis smiled and immediately put it on his right wrist. When another cardinal bent to kiss his ring, Francis bent too and kissed the cardinal's ring at the same time.
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Pope Francis the first of his kind in more ways than one
Eugene Cullen Kennedy   Mar.15. 2013

A high tide of conventional analysis of Pope Francis -- is he conservative or progressive, a reformer in fact or a pastor at heart -- misses the central significance of Pope Benedict XVI's resignation and Pope Francis' election.

They constitute one event whose meaning cries out for our attention but is drowned out by the re-enactment in our time of the myth of Babel, in which Yahweh turned the talk of the self-important tower builders (TV towers today) into babble.

This event, occurring on the eve of the spring equinox from which both Easter and Passover are dated, places it symbolically within the spiritual pull of the moon, the symbol of time, and of the sun, the symbol of eternity, in the vast array of space, whose age we entered as the Second Vatican Council convened, during which Jorge Mario Bergoglio studied theology, and climaxed when we visited the moon in 1969, the year he was ordained a priest.

This papal resignation and election complete the Copernican Revolution that revealed that the Earth was not the center of the universe by making it clear central Europe is no longer the center of the Catholic church.

While we are told Benedict resigned because of increasing weakness and advancing age, this action may better be understood as a function of the impact, little-understood or even considered except tangentially at what was considered the topmost level of hierarchy, of the Space/Information Age.

. . . .

The relevant questions are not whether Pope Francis is a progressive or a conservative or any of the other ecclesiastical junkie's speculations. The only important question is whether Pope Francis is a man of his time, and the answer to that is certainly yes. That reality transcends many of the worries about where the pope stands on this or that issue.

The choice of Cardinal Bergoglio burst the longitudinal lines of an outdated understanding of Catholicism. The church chose a man who had already cast aside the hierarchical trappings of residence and retinue. His lifestyle was not that of a monarch but of a servant, of a pastor who has been more interested in easing the world's grief than in enjoying its grandeur.
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A house that needs putting in order
Habemus papam: Pope Francis
Robert Mickens       Mar.16, 2013

There have been a number of attempts to reform the Roman Curia, but the new Pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio SJ, has the best opportunity to date.

. . . .

Indeed, there is a long-standing view that only a pope who is an insider can be trusted with reforming the Curia. That's what happened with the election (exactly 50 years ago next June) of Paul VI. And it was supposed to happen with the election in 2005 of Benedict XVI. Unfortunately, it did not.

But Francis is the first Pope from the Americas, and the first from outside Europe in over 1,000 years, and there is a firm belief among the cardinals and many bishops around the world that he must show a greater interest in administration than his predecessor did. That includes carrying out an internal bureaucratic reform at the Vatican
. . . .

More and more the Roman Curia began forming policy without widespread consultation. Then during the last eight years under Benedict XVI, there was yet another turn. Rather than reform the Curia, the Pope just ignored it and began issuing motu proprio decrees. These were decrees issued by his "own initiative" and seemingly without consultation, either with the Curia or the world's bishops.

When the cardinals who gathered in pre-conclave meetings spoke of Vatican reforms, they were mainly addressing the pope's and the Roman Curia's relationship with bishops and their national conferences. The media, on the other hand, seemed to be looking only at the more sensationalist aspects of dysfunction in the Curia - the alleged scandalous activity that was hinted at in the VatiLeaks documents.

. . . .

Pope Francis  should make it a top priority to appoint a Secretary of State and other top aides that will move immediately to fix "his" Curia and bring it more fully into line with the vision set out by Paul VI and the Second Vatican Council.

However, that alone will not resolve the Church's more crucial crisis, which is its increasingly anachronistic model of ­monarchical governance. Francis I could provide a marvellous service to church unity if he consults widely with the world's ­bishops and tries to find a fruitful way of restoring the more ancient and more ­evangelical model of synodal governance.
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Why the Next Pope Matters
Duane Shank       Mar.12, 2013


As the College of Cardinals begins its conclave today in Rome to select the next Pope, I find myself intensely interested in the outcome. Since I am an Anabaptist, a child of the "radical" Reformation, I've spent some time reflecting on why that is so. 


First, the Roman Catholic Church is an unbroken link to the first century Roman church for all Christians, no matter our denomination. Before the so-called "Great Schism" between the eastern and western church in 1054, the Christian church led from Rome was THE primary Christian church. No matter if we are Eastern or Western Christians, no matter how Protestant or Anabaptist some of us are, the Church of Rome is still in some way our Mother church.


Second, it remains the largest Christian tradition in the world. According to the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life, there are slightly more than 2 billion Christians in the world, and more than half of them are Catholic. What the Catholic Church and its leader say and do has an impact on all Christians. Despite their other failings, the strong leadership of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI for peace and economic justice was globally significant.


Because of this history and size, the leadership of the Catholic Church matters. The past 50 years have shown that, for better and for worse. On the positive side of the ledger, the documents of Vatican II, from Pacem in Terris to Gaudium et Spes, the engagement of Catholic social teaching with the world has been a source of education for me and many other non-Catholics. The development of liberation theology - the "preferential option for the poor" - and the price paid by those who made that commitment, from Archbishop Oscar Romero to countless others whose names will never be known, has been an inspiration and source of reflection on the history of Christian faithfulness and martyrdom that began with Jesus. Given my tradition's history of persecution and suffering, it carries a special resonance.


 On the other hand, the church as a human institution is in need of serious reforms. A stifling bureaucracy, allegations of financial corruption, the disempowerment of women, and the continuing outrage of sexual abuse have seriously damaged the church. There will be a special responsibility on the next pope to exert strong leadership in repenting for those wrongs and ensuring that systems are in place that can prevent them from reoccurring. 

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New pope must end Vatican leaks, says Austrian cardinal
Keith Weir       Mar.14, 2013

Pope Francis must end the scandal of Church secrets being leaked to newspapers, Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn said on Thursday, underlining one of the challenges facing the new Roman Catholic leader.

. . . . 

Vienna archbishop Schoenborn, himself seen as a leading contender in the conclave that elected Francis on Wednesday, was shocked that details of confidential conversations between cardinals had been made public as they gathered at the Vatican to choose a successor to Benedict.


"There is really a massive need for reform," Schoenborn said.

. . . . 

"It's a scandal that cardinals can meet in the most trusted room, where we have sworn an oath that we won't pass anything on, and the next day our messages can be read word for word in the Italian newspapers," he added. 

Read more



Quiet thunder in Argentina
This profile of Cardinal Bergoglio first appeared in The Catholic Herald on October 7 2005 
José Mariá Poirier       Mar.13, 2013

What a surprise: it turns out that the main opponent to the unstoppable Joseph Ratzinger in the April conclave was none other than the severe, shy figure of the Archbishop of Buenos Aires. The revelation comes in the "secret diary" of one of their colleagues in the Casa Santa Marta - a cardinal's account of the election published recently in an Italian magazine.


The spotlight the news has placed on Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio - whether or not it is true - will be agony for this notoriously media-shy Jesuit, whose face will have gone even redder with the speculation by vaticanisti that Bergoglio should now be seen as the leading contender to replace Benedict XVI when his time comes: the first Jesuit, and the first Latin American, in Church history to occupy the See of St Peter.


For Bergoglio's enemies, the revelation will come as no surprise. It only proves, they will say, what we thought all along: that behind all that humility what Bergoglio really cares about is ambition.

. . . .

What is certain is that he is not loved by most of his Jesuit companions. They remember him as their provincial during the violence of the 1970s, when the army came to power amid a breakdown in the political system after the death of General Peron. A part of the Church in Argentina was involved in the theology of liberation and opposed the military government. Bergoglio was not. "After a war," he was heard to say, "you have to act firmly."


He exercised his authority as provincial with an iron fist, calmly demanding strict obedience and clamping down on critical voices. Many Jesuits complained that he considered himself the sole interpreter of St Ignatius of Loyola, and to this day speak of him warily.


The secular clergy of his diocese, however, love their archbishop. As auxiliary bishop in Buenos Aires in the 1990s, he managed always to be with his priests, keeping them company through crises and difficulties and showing his great capacity for listening sympathetically (I have heard many stories of Bergoglio spending hours with elderly sick priests.) He also continued to show his option for the poor by encouraging priests to step out into the deep in intellectual and artistic areas: Bergoglio has never hidden a passion for literature.

. . . .

If he were Pope? Everything suggests that his approach would be above all pastoral, which is what a number of the cardinals were looking for in the conclave. He would govern the Curia with a sure hand, as he does his diocese. He would likely take a firm stand with the powerful of this world. But the modern-day media demands on the papacy would be a torture for this most retiring of Church leaders.

Read more
Tears, Cheers for Pope Francis in Argentina
Associated Press       Mar.13, 2013

Raw: Tears, Cheers for Pope Francis in Argentina




White smoke?
Brothers in Black       Mar.13, 2013





Articles on the election of Pope Francis



Images of Pope Francis
Kissing the feet of a child with AIDS 
In a women's hospital on Holy Thursday
Riding the bus to work
Receiving the blessing of God's people
Riding bus
Pope on a bus
Other things we have been reading
Former San Francisco archbishop calls for papal reforms ahead of conclave
Thomas C. Fox       Mar.10, 2013

With the world's cardinals set to choose a new pope, Emeritus Archbishop of San Francisco John Quinn on Saturday called for major church governance reforms, including changes in the papacy itself.

. . . .

"Today, if we want to deal seriously with the legacy of Vatican II and issues of reform we must have the courage to consider the deeper questions. This is not possible unless the paramount issue of the exercise of the papal office is addressed."

. . . .

He said shared bishops' decision-making with the pope is needed. Such decision-making "is not the result of a juridical decree, not the result of the action of a council, and not the result of the decision of any pope." Rather, it is rooted in the ordination of the bishop and the doctrine that he is a successor to the apostles of Jesus, Quinn said.

He said shared episcopal decision-making was "the legacy of Vatican II."

. . . . 

Quinn said local bishops now "have no perceptible influence" in the appointment of bishops. Instead, appointments are made in Rome, often by men who do not adequately know local diocesan needs.


"The bishops of the region may never have heard the name of a bishop sent to their area," Quinn said. "Often, bishops submit multiple names and none of them is accepted."

Quinn also cited changes in the words Catholics use during the Mass. He said the intentions of local bishops "who best understand local language and customs" was disregarded by the Vatican when it decreed new liturgical language norms two years ago.


"The observations of the bishops' conferences had little influence and at the end of the consultation with conferences a very large number of changes were made in the final text which the bishops had never seen," Quinn said.


He suggested two governance changes to rebalance church decision-making and to decentralize church authority. Both, he said, come out of church history and tradition: regional bishops' conferences and deliberative episcopal synods.


These moves, he said, would involve separating two aspects of the function of the papacy: "the unity of faith and communion" and administration. The pope would have "the burden of fostering unity, collaboration and charity, but church administration would become more regional."


In such a reconfiguration, the appointment of bishops, the creation of dioceses, questions of liturgy and other matters of Catholic practices would be up the regional bishops' conferences, Quinn said.

Read more



Sex, scandal and sadness in the Catholic church
Brian McNaught        Mar.15 2013


Whether or not Pope Benedict XVI resigned because of a gay-related scandal in the Vatican, there is no doubt that gay sexual scandals among the clergy today are causing the average Catholic, and the average gay man, a great deal of sadness.


The head of the Scottish Catholic church, Cardinal Keith O'Brien, resigned amid allegations he was physically inappropriate with four priests. Msgr. Kevin Wallin is in a Connecticut jail, accused of dealing crystal meth from the rectory, which he allegedly did to pay for his sex and drug addictions.

. . . .

I'm no longer a Catholic, so I can't speak to the feelings of other Catholics about gay sex scandals in the church. My guess is that many people feel as disappointed as I do that the sweet, innocent church of our youth can no longer recognize itself in the mirror. That's not the fault of gay clergy. Much of it is due to the addiction of Benedict XVI and other popes to control, secrecy and tradition. Like the lives of gay men who also made wrong choices, the Vatican is a mess. I'm grateful my spirituality is no longer impacted by the scandalous addictions of the church, and I'm compassionate knowing I have the same weaknesses that made the pope and the cardinal archbishop of Scotland behave the way they did. 

Read more



Are Women "Secondary" in Catholic Church? 
Elizabeth Drescher      Mar.11, 2013

We might not be surprised to learn that Canadian Roman Catholic cardinal Marc Ouellet, a leading candidate to fill the See of Saint Peter, sees the concerns of women in the church as "secondary." In a recent interview with the CBC, Ouellet made clear that the second-class status of women in the Roman Church would not change were he to become pope.

"Obviously these questions [about the role of women in the church] are, have their importance," he told the CBC, "but it is secondary, you know, and it has been always secondary."

As International Women's Day this year coincides with the gathering of cardinals in Rome to elect a leader of the oldest gender-biased religious tradition in the West, it seems worth considering how welcome women really are in Christian churches across the denominational spectrum. As mainline churches continue to decline in overall membership, Americans believe the Catholic Church is out of touch, and as the religiously unaffiliated continue to grow in number, how women-the majority of active church-goers-experience the church is hardly a secondary concern. Gendered church language seems as good a place to start as any.

The liturgies of most churches are lousy with sexist godtalk. This is the case well beyond the limited texts in which, arguably, tradition and aesthetics make make gender changes difficult. First on the list would be biblical texts, of course-especially perhaps the Epistles from the Apostle Paul, a historical person who, though he famously insisted that there was "no male nor female" in the Christian community, nonetheless addressed said community as though they were comprised of only one, normative gender. 

. . . .

International Women's Day and the coming papal conclave seem as fine a time as any for churches to start thinking (again) about the damage inflicted on the imaginations, self-identities, and spiritualities of both women and men, girls and boys, by sexist god-talk. And, not for nothing, on the practical, material harm caused throughout the world through these gendered imaginaries. A mountain of data tell us that patience across the denominational spectrum is wearing thin. 

Let the healing begin.  
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Celibacy and the priesthood
CBS News     Mar.10, 2013

As the Roman Catholic hierarchy begins the process of choosing a new pope, many are taking the opportunity to examine one of the church's most controversial rules: clerical celibacy. Barry Petersen examines celibacy for priests and the future of this centuries-old tradition.


Re-examining the Catholic Church's celibacy rule 



New pope odds at Paddy Power

California bishop adds belief requirements to teacher contracts
Dan Morris-Young      Mar.11, 2013

The Ides of March has taken on new meaning in the Santa Rosa, Calif., diocese, where teachers and administrators have until March 15 to sign a letter of intent to renew their contracts for the 2013-2014 school year. The contracts now include an addendum requiring they agree they are "a ministerial agent of the bishop" and that they reject "modern errors" that "gravely offend human dignity," including "but not limited to" contraception, abortion, same-sex marriage and euthanasia.


The roughly 400-word addendum requires all teachers and administrators -- Catholic and non-Catholic -- to "agree that it is my duty, to the best of my ability, to believe, teach/administer and live in accord with what the Catholic Church holds and professes."


Written by Santa Rosa Bishop Robert Vasa and added at his direction, the addendum is titled "Bearing Witness." In press reports, Vasa and Catholic school superintendent John Collins have described it as expansion and clarification of the standard faith and morals clause of the teacher contract. 

Read more


Strong' Catholic Identity at a Four-Decade Low in U.S.

Pew Forum       Mar.13, 2013

The percentage of U.S. Catholics who consider themselves "strong" members of the Roman Catholic Church has never been lower than it was in 2012, according to a Pew Research Center analysis of new data from the General Social Survey (GSS). About a quarter (27%) of American Catholics called themselves "strong" Catholics last year, down more than 15 points since the mid-1980s and among the lowest levels seen in the 38 years since strength of religious identity was first measured in the GSS, a long-running national survey carried out by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.


The decline among U.S. Catholics is even starker when they are compared with Protestants, whose strength of religious identification has been rising in recent years. About half (54%) of American Protestants - double the Catholic share (27%) - described their particular religious identity as strong last year, among the highest levels since the GSS began asking the question in 1974.

Pew forum graph
Weekly church att.


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L.A. archdiocese to pay $10 million to settle abuse claims
Los Angeles Times       Mar.12, 2013

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles has agreed to pay nearly $10 million to four men who allege they were molested by a pedophile priest in what Cardinal Roger Mahony has called the most troubling case of his tenure, a lawyer for the men said Tuesday.

The agreement settled four lawsuits against the church concerning Michael Baker, who authorities believe molested 23 boys during three decades as a parish priest and hospital chaplain.


The settlement is the first since the church released 12,000 pages of internal personnel files about its handling of abuse allegations, including scores of documents detailing how Mahony and a top aide dealt with Baker.

The priest admitted his abuse of two boys directly to Mahony during a 1986 retreat. Mahony sent him to New Mexico for treatment, but later returned him to ministry where he molested again. He was convicted in 2007. 

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New Translation of the Roman Missal








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