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Some things we have been reading  
The pope said what? Six stunners from Francis 
Daniel Burke Jun.13, 2013 

Since his election in March, Francis has delivered sharp and unscripted remarks on everything from homosexuality to atheism to his unlikely election to the seat of St. Peter.

Anyone who bet the 76-year-old Jesuit from Argentina would become Supreme Pontiff likely won a lot of dough, Francis joked on Sunday.

We're wagering this pope's got a few more surprises up the sleeves of his white cassock.

Meanwhile, here are six eye-openers Francis has uttered thus far.  

1) There's a "gay lobby" inside the Vatican.  . . . .   Only the pope knows exactly what he means. The Vatican has clammed up, refusing to explain. 
 2) All atheists go to heaven?  . . . .   Many American atheists say they appreciated the olive branch from the pope, however unclear his remarks may have been. 

3) "I didn't want to be pope."   . . . .  "I didn't," Francis answered. In fact, "a person who wants to become pope doesn't love himself. And God doesn't bless him," the pontiff said. 

4) Sleepy prayers .  . . . .   "Sometimes I doze off, the fatigue of the day makes you fall asleep, but God understands," Francis said. 

5) Christians should mind their own beeswax.   . . . .   Gossip, the pope said, is like honey. It tastes sweet at first, but large doses deliver stomach aches.  
6) Throwing food away is stealing from the poor.  . . . .  "This culture of waste has made us insensitive even to the waste and disposal of food, which is even more despicable when all over the world many individuals and families are suffering from hunger and malnutrition. "  

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Pope says structures for collaboration, collegiality need strengthening 
Cindy Wooden      Jun.13, 2013


A meeting with Pope Francis designed as reflection on the last Synod of Bishops turned into a group reflection on strengthening the synod itself and the way the world's bishops assist the pope.

Meeting Thursday with members of the ordinary council of the Synod of Bishops, Pope Francis said there needs to be greater reflection on "the church, the mother church, with all its nuances, including that of synodality."

Pope Francis said each of the eight cardinals he named in April to advise him on the reform of the Roman Curia mentioned the need to "find a path for coordination between synodality and the bishop of Rome."

The work of the world Synod of Bishops, which has gathered bishops at the Vatican every three or four years to discuss a theme and make recommendations to the pope, "has to take a new path that expresses its uniqueness when united with the Petrine ministry," he said. "This is a big challenge." 

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John and Francis: two of a kind 
John Borelli     Jun, 15, 2013 


From the moment of his introduction to the world as Pope Francis, Jorge Mario Bergoglio has resembled Angelo Giuseppe Roncalli, or Pope John XXIII, more than any other Pope since Pope John's death 50 years ago. The first resemblance is that both were 76 when elected. Roncalli's electors wanted a short-term ­compromise candidate. He turned 77 less than a month after his election, reigning barely another 54 months before succumbing to cancer; yet, the much beloved Pope John unquestionably changed the lives of Catholics and of countless others.  Two of a kind

Three months into his papacy, Roncalli stunned the cardinals who had elected him, by announcing his intention to summon an ecumenical council of the Catholic Church. Only 20 such general councils had met previously. Pope John's Second Vatican Council greatly renewed the Catholic Church and significantly redirected Catholics towards social justice and dialogue with others.

Pope Francis, who will turn 77 in December, is indeed a man of social justice and dialogue, thoroughly formed in the principles and teachings of Pope John's Vatican II. Rumoured to have come second behind Benedict XVI in 2005, he already represents a change in direction for the Catholic Church and a correction of the immediate past, as did Pope John XXIII. Pope Benedict had just turned 78 when he was elected, but his papacy, by contrast, is already judged as eight additional years to the long papacy of John Paul II. 

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Pope Francis downplays threat of Vatican scrutiny of religious orders 
Alessandro Speciale      Jun.11, 2013


Weeks after authorizing a continued investigation of American nuns, Pope Francis told a group of nuns and priests from Latin America not to worry if they found themselves under similar scrutiny.

The pope's purported remarks came during a meeting with top officials of the Latin American Conference of Religious (CLAR) on June 6.

During the meeting, Francis seemed to refer to the Vatican investigation of an American nuns' group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, while telling the Latin American delegates not to worry should they find themselves the target of a similar investigation.

"They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder, this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing. ... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward."
What the pope's leaked comments really tells us about the church 
Francis X. Rocca     Jun.13,2013


A report that Pope Francis privately acknowledged the existence of a "gay lobby" inside the Vatican offers a sensational example of his unvarnished speaking style and a reminder of the challenge that style poses for the papacy in the age of digital communications and vanishing privacy.

On the other hand, an acknowledgment that the Catholic Church's central administration is troubled by factionalism and personal failings must be less than startling to anyone who has been following the news lately.

But the context of the headline-grabbing comment is a series of remarks most illuminating for what they reveal: not about divisions within the church, but about Pope Francis' vision of its harmony and unity.

Pope Francis' words to the leaders of the Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Men and Women Religious, or CLAR, as originally reported on a website in Chile, have not been denied by anyone who was there.

A statement from CLAR -- issued after the Chilean report -- described the leaked account of the June 6 Vatican meeting as a "summary based on the memories of the participants" and a reliable record of the pope's "general meaning," though not a verbatim transcript. 

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Pope Francis and CLAR 
English translation by Rebel Girl       Jun.9, 2013


In an unprecedented gesture, Pope Francis received and talked for a hour with the leadership of the Confederación Latinoamericana y Caribeña de Religiosas y Religiosos (Latin American and Caribbean Confederation of Men and Women Religious -- CLAR). They conversed sitting in a circle as equals, as it was in the first communities founded by Jesus...

In this simple atmosphere of trust, Francis encouraged CLAR's leaders not to be afraid to continue to bring their mission to the limits and the frontiers..."Courage! Advance towards new horizons! Don't be afraid to run risks going to the poor and the newly emerging subjects on the continent," said Pope Bergoglio who, at the end of the meeting, emphatically thanked religious life for being a "sign of and witness to the Gospel" in many places in Latin America and the Carribbean.

We are offering our readers -- exclusively -- this brief synthesis of that historic meeting that took place in the Holy See. 

Audience with Pope Francis  CLAR, 6/6/2013

Pope meets Archbishop Welby in Rome 
Standard(UK) Jun.14 2013 
Francis & Welby

Pope Francis has welcomed the Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby in Rome, the first time the two church leaders have met.

The leader of the Roman Catholic Church said the two men shared a common desire for social justice, peace and the promotion of Christian values in areas such as marriage.

He added that he was grateful for the "sincere efforts" of the Church of England to understand why his predecessor Benedict XVI set up the ordinariate for disaffected Anglicans who wish to be received into the Catholic Church.

. . . . 

Welby was enthroned as Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, and leader of the worldwide Anglican Communion, in March, days after the inauguration of Pope Francis. The Pope said the closeness of their inaugurations meant that they always had a "particular reason to support one another in prayer".

Welby was accompanied on his visit to the Vatican by the Most Rev Vincent Nichols, Archbishop of Westminster and leader of Roman Catholics in England and Wales.  

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Pope's warm welcome for the 'world's poorest president' 
MercoPress reporter      Jun.5, 2013


"The Pope is very pleased for having met with a wise man", was the official report from the Holy See following the 45 minute private audience of Francis with Uruguayan president Jose Mujica, the longest so far with a head of state. Although Mujica is a declared atheist and did not attend the inauguration of the first Latin American pope last March, he did request an interview with Francis, which took place on Saturday.

Wearing a blue shirt with no tie, a green sweater and a dark jacket, Mujica, 78, was received very warmly by the Pope and before they walked into for their private meeting, they took a few minutes to remember Uruguayan theologian and writer Alberto Methol Ferré, 'a common friend' recently deceased and who for decades was an advisor to the Vatican.

"He (Methol) opened our minds" said Mujica, with the Pope adding "he helped us to think"

The meeting as programmed started at 11:00 hours sharp and 38 minutes later Francis, private secretary Alfred Xuareb walked in but the two leaders continued talking in a display of great chemistry and coincidence on the many issues they addressed.

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Uruguayan president Jose Mujica donates 90 percent of his wages to charities, lives with his wife in a modest farmhouse instead of the presidential palace and drives himself in a decades-old Volkswagen Beetle)
Time for 'Catholic spring' and Vatican III: bishop 
Barney Zwartz   Jun.1, 2013   

+Geoffrey Robinson

+Pat Power

+Bill Morris


The bishop who designed Australia's Catholic clergy sex abuse response wants a ''Catholic spring'', a people-power movement to force the Vatican to tackle the abuse crisis at its source.  
Retired Sydney bishop Geoffrey Robinson has launched a petition for ordinary Catholics to seek another global church council like the 1960s reforming Vatican II council. But at ''Vatican III'', he says, there must be as many lay people as bishops to make sure the hard questions get asked.
. . . . 

Bishop Robinson, 75, was the architect of the Towards Healing protocol introduced in every diocese except Melbourne in 1996. Abused as a child, he headed the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference professional standards committee for a decade until he retired in 2004 because he was so disillusioned.  


On Tuesday, his new book For Christ's Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church ... for Good, will be launched in an inner-Sydney church. The petition, at, was opened in Australia a fortnight ago without any publicity, and already has more than 10,000 signatures. Backed by two other progressive Australian bishops, the recently retired Pat Power of Canberra and Bill Morris of Toowoomba, it will be launched in Europe and the US soon.    


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Bishop Robinson's website was recently updated by ARCC past Vice President Ingrid Shafer.

Pope Francis, The Vatican: For Christ's Sake Stop Sexual Abuse.... for good!  

Sign petition here.

Priest, teacher get prison in sex abuse case 
Joseph A. Slobodzian June 12, 2013

Even as they professed their innocence, a Catholic priest and an ex-parochial schoolteacher got long prison terms Wednesday in the serial sexual assault of a 10-year-old altar boy in the late 1990s.

Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler exceeded sentencing guidelines in handing out punishment to the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 66, and Bernard Shero, 50, saying their crimes called for long terms. She sentenced Engelhardt to six to 12 years in prison and Shero to eight to 16.

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Int'l court case against ex-pope fizzles 
Rachel Zoll    Jun.13, 2013 

The International Criminal Court has rejected a longshot request by clergy sex abuse victims to investigate former Pope Benedict XVI and Vatican cardinals for possible crimes against humanity.

The tribunal, based in The Hague, told attorneys for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests that "there is not a basis at this time to proceed with further analysis."

. . . .

Pam Spees, senior staff attorney for the Center for Constitutional Rights, said her group was confident it could collect enough evidence as new abuse victims come forward to press the tribunal to reconsider.  

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Andrew Greeley, priest, scholar, novelist, friend, laid to rest  
Manya A. Brachear   Jun.6, 2013     

His final farewell unfolded as if he had choreographed every song and step. With people in the pews belting out the Celtic hymn "Lord of the Dance," the Rev. Andrew Greeleywas carried out of Christ the King Roman Catholic Church in Chicago's Beverly neighborhood for a private burial.

Hundreds of mourners, including Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, theologian Martin Marty, comedian and former parishioner George Wendt and about three dozen clergy, nearly filled Greeley's first and only full-time parish on Wednesday to give him a traditional Irish Catholic send off.

. . . .

"Who became the first voice about abuse in the Catholic Church? Andrew M. Greeley, because he believed in courage and he had the freedom to pursue it," said the Rev. John Cusick, who delivered the homily for his mentor. "If on May 30, 2013, the Catholic Church and the world lost an honest voice, doesn't it behoove us to be that voice?"

Greeley, 85, was found dead May 30 at his home in the John Hancock Center, several years after suffering a near fatal brain injury when he fell getting out of a cab.

Cusick recounted seeing Greeley in the hospital days after the fall in November 2008. Doctors had drilled a hole in his head to relieve pressure in the brain. MirroringGreeley's own impish sense of humor, Cusick said he teased his mentor that if his critics could see him, they would say they always knew he had a hole in his head.

Cusick said Greeley's friends and millions of others knew that, in fact, Greeley had a "holy head" who saw the sacred and divine in ordinary, everyday life. He added thatGreeley's boundless energy, quick wit and intellectual curiosity surpassed most minds, and his courage trumped most backbones.

"Andy taught me, a priest, the most contemporary of sins is always the oldest of sins - mediocrity," Cusick said. "Worrying more about fitting in than speaking heart and soul."  

Greeley procession 

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Bernard Cooke, S.T.D., R.I.P.

Bernard CookeDr. Bernard J. Cooke is an internationally renowned theologian, author, and lecturer. He was born May 31, 1922 in Norway, Michigan, and passed away on his ninety-first birthday in 2013 at the Village at Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.  He is survived by his wife Dr. Pauline Turner and daughter, Kelly Turner-Cooke, his brothers David Cooke (wife Leann) of Elk Grove, CA, Tom Cooke (wife Margaret) of Oakland, CA, as well as, many nieces and nephews. 


Dr. Cooke published over twenty books and lectured in many countries, including Canada, France, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, Korea, Ireland, and East Africa. He recently taught grateful residents of the retirement center where he and his wife lived.   Dr. Cooke's areas of professional specialization were sacramental theology (religious symbol and ritual), New Testament, religious psychology, and history of theological method. 

 . . . .

He was the Chairman and a Professor in the Department of Theology at Marquette University, where in 1963 he inaugurated the first PhD program in the nation to train Catholic laypeople for careers in theological scholarship and teaching. He went on to hold faculty positions at the University of Windsor and the University of Calgary in Canada, and in the U.S. at the College of the Holy Cross, where he retired as Loyola Professor of Theology in 1990. A tireless and inspiring teacher, Dr. Cooke also held visiting professorships at Santa Clara University, Loyola University New Orleans, the University of the Incarnate Word, and the University of San Diego.

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Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, Advocate for the Poor, Dies at 83 
Marc Santora      Jun.8, 2013

Bishop Sullivan

Bishop Joseph M. Sullivan, whose work on behalf of the poor and downtrodden for Catholic Charities in Brooklyn and Queens earned him national recognition, died on Friday as a result of injuries from a car accident. He was 83.

Bishop Sullivan, who lived in Brooklyn, was critically injured in a three-car collision on the Long Island Expressway on May 30 and was airlifted to Nassau University Medical Center, where he died, according to a statement by the Diocese of Brooklyn.

"We mourn the passing of Bishop Joseph Sullivan," said Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio, the leader of the diocese. "During his tenure, Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens became a nationally recognized provider of social services. Even in retirement, Bishop Joe continued to serve on many boards for Catholic hospitals and health institutions. He epitomized the best of our church's teaching and the fundamental option for the poor. He was an outstanding priest."

In addition to his work with Catholic Charities, Bishop Sullivan played an instrumental role in the formation of St. Vincent's Catholic Medical Centers and served as chairman of the Social Development and World Peace Department of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

His work often brought him in touch with the city's most frail, neglected and impoverished citizens, and for more than five decades he was an advocate on their behalf. In the late 1980s, as whole neighborhoods were being ravaged by AIDS, drug abuse and crime, Bishop Sullivan went to Washington to testify before Congress about the plight many people were facing.  

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News from the Road 
Stay up-to-date on our journey for immigration justice!  
Obama picks former CRS head as new Vatican ambassador 
David Gibson- Jun 14, 2013 

President Obama on Friday nominated Ken Hackett, former head of Catholic Relief Services, to be the next U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

It's a savvy move, picking a Catholic whose career in the church has been dedicated to alleviating suffering as America's representative to a pope whose has made helping the poor a priority for his pontificate.

Hackett replaces Miguel Diaz, who left the post last November to teach at the University of Dayton. Diaz is a theologian, which was a first for the U.S. ambassador, and that also seemed to make sense in that Benedict XVI, whose retirement led to the election of Pope Francis last March, is a renowned theologian.
. . . . 
Hackett seems very much in synch with Francis. He is also familiar with Rome and Rome with him, and he has contacts across the U.S. church and is highly-regarded for his career at CRS - even if CRS is not a favorite of influential political conservatives in the American church.   

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Pope taps trusted prelate to help oversee troubled Vatican bank in first sign of reform 
Nicole Winfield   Jun.15, 2013 


Pope Francis took a first big step in reforming the troubled Vatican bank on Saturday by tapping a trusted prelate to help oversee its management, in a sign he wants to know more about its activities.  Francis signed off on naming Monsignor Battista Ricca as interim prelate of the Institute for Religious Works.

It's a key job that has been left vacant since 2011: The prelate oversees the bank's activities, attends its board meetings and, critically, has access to all its documentation. The prelate reports to the commission of cardinals who run the bank and is currently headed by the Vatican No. 2. That gives Ricca a near-direct line to the pope, serving as a bridge between the bank's lay managers and board members and its cardinal leadership.

Ricca is currently director of the Vatican hotel where Francis lives and other Vatican-owned residential institutes for clergy.  

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Pope Francis 'appoints management consultant' to advise on reform of Roman Curia 
Catholic Herald    Jun..13, 2013 


Pope Francis has appointed a management consultant him to advise him on reforming the Church, a leading Vatican observer has reported.
According to Sandro Magister, the Pope "welcomed enthusiastically" the idea of bringing in Thomas von Mitschke-Collande to assist him in streamlining the Roman Curia.

He said the proposal was made by Fr Hans Langerdörfer SJ, secretary of the German bishops' conference, and supported by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, one of the group of eight cardinals advising the Pope.

Dr von Mitschke-Collande was the manager of the Munich branch of the global management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Last year he published a hard-hitting book in Germany called Schafft sich die katholische Kirche ab?, which can be translated as "Does the Catholic Church want to destroy itself?" or "Is the Catholic Church going out of business?"  

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The Curia Strikes Back 
Mark Silk    Jun 14, 2013 


You may think that Pope Francis is a simple man of the people, eschewing the fancy trappings of office out of devotion to the poor and a rejection of papal monarchism.

No way, says veteran Vaticanista Sandro Magister in yesterday's post on his blog, Chiesa:

His reticence in attributing to himself the name of pope and his preference for calling himself as bishop of Rome have made champions of the democratization of the Church rejoice. But theirs is a blunder.  


According to Magister, the man in white is actually a wolf in sheep's clothing. He's Bergoglio the Jesuit, playing by the rules of his order, governing as if were superior general of the Society of Jesus, the autocratic "Black Pope." 

. . . .
I'm no Vaticanista, but I know a media hit when I see one. And this is how the curiales are fighting back.

It's pretty clever to play the Jesuit card the way they have. For centuries, the Jesuits were emblems of Catholic deviousness - the elite operatives who grabbed the money, pulled the international strings, playing fast and loose with the rules of morality. Forget Dan Brown and Opus Dei. The Great Jesuit Conspiracy against truth, justice, and democracy is back!

But there's another way Jesuits figure in the history of the Church, and one more relevant to the struggle at hand. In 17th-century France, it was them against the Jansenists, Augustinian puritans who believed in a Catholicism of the Chosen, zealots who in the name of opposing centralized Roman authority worked for a smaller, more rigid Church.

Thus, in the name of democracy, Magister gives voice to the neo-Jansenists in the Vatican, those eager to tighten the screws of orthodoxy and to bar the door against anyone who does not meet their standards of conduct. They are no friends of democracy in the Church, and they don't like Francis' traditional Jesuit message of inclusion and advance. They feel the levers of power slipping from their fingers. And they're scared.   

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Our Francis, Too
Why we can enthusiastically join arms with the Catholic leader
Timothy George        Jun.4, 2013

Since the Reformation, many of the names chosen by popes-Pius, Clement, Leo, Urban, even Benedict-sound quaint to non-Catholic ears. But the humble Francis of Assisi is a saint for everyone. 

. . . .

Francis succeeds two men of genius in his papal role. John Paul II was the liberator who stared down communism by the force of his courage and prayers. Benedict XVI was the eminent teacher of the Catholic Church in recent history. Francis appears now as the pastor, a shepherd who knows and loves his sheep and wants to lead them in love and humility. The new Franciscan moment is the season of the shepherd.


Catholics and evangelicals are the two largest faith communities in the body of Christ. Without forgetting the deep differences that divide us, now as never before we are called to stand and work together for the cause of Christ in a broken world.  

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Timothy George is the dean of Beeson Divinity School and has been heavily involved in the Evangelicals and Catholics Together discussions. 
Italy: Two Harley Davidson motorbikes donated to Pope Francis
Adnkronos   Jun.13, 2013 
New Harley

Harley Davidson has given Pope Francis two of its classic motorcycles to mark the brand's 110th anniversary and on Sunday hundreds will be allowed to park along the road leading to St Peter's Square while the pontiff recites the Angelus prayer.


Between 1,000 and 2,000 bikers are expected to fill St Peter's Square for the Pope's blessing - the highlight of a four-day event in Rome to celebrate more than a century of Harley Davidson.More than half a million Harley Davidson riders and fans from around the world are expected to head to Rome for the event taking place from 13-16 June . 

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The "temptation" of Francis of Assisi and the possible "temptation" of Francis of Rome 
Leonardo Boff      Jun.15, 2013

Let us not imagine that saints are free from the vicissitudes common to human life, which includes moments of happiness and frustration, dangerous temptations and courageous stands. It was no different with Saint Francis, portrayed as «the always happy brother», courteous, who lived a mystical union with all creatures, whom he considered his brothers and sisters.
. . . .
Beginning in the Summer of 1220, he wrote several versions of a rule that were all rejected by the gatherings of the fraternity. They were too utopic. Frustrated and feeling useless, he decided to renounce leadership of the movement. Filled with anguish and without knowing what else to do, he found refuge in the woods for two years, visited only by his intimate friend friar Leo.  He waited for a divine illumination that would not come. Meanwhile, a rule was drafted that was marked by the influence of the Roman Curia and the Pope, turning the movement into a religious order: the Order of Friars Minor, with defined structure and purposes.  


Francis, with pain, humbly accepted it. But he clearly stated that he would no longer discuss it, but would continue giving examples of the primitive dream. Law triumphed over life, power confined charisma. But the spirit of Francis remained: the spirit of poverty, of simplicity, of universal brotherhood that inspires us to this day. Francis died amidst great personal frustration, but without losing his happiness. He died singing Provencal songs of love and the psalms.  

Francis of Rome will surely face his own «great temptation», no less than the one of Francis of Assisi. He has to reform the Roman Curia, an institution that is about one thousand years old. In it, the sacred power (sacra potestas) has fossilized into an administrative structure.  At any rate, it is a question of administering an institution with a population as large as China's: one billion, two hundred million Catholics. But one must immediately be warned: it is difficult for love and mercy to co-exist with power.  It is an empire of doctrine, law and order, that by its nature includes or excludes, approves or condemns.

Where there is power, above all in an absolutist monarchy such as the Vatican State, there always arise anti-power intrigues, career climbers, and power disputes. Thomas Hobbes in his famous Leviathan (1651) saw it clearly: «power can not be guaranteed other than by seeking more and more power». Francis of Rome, presently the local bishop and Pope, must intervene in that power, marked by a thousand tricks, and sometimes, by corruption. We know from previous Popes who also proposed to reform the Curia, the resistance and frustrations they had to endure, including suspicion of the physical elimination of a Pope by people of the ecclesiastic administration. 

Francis of Rome has the spirit of Francis of Assisi: he is for poverty, simplicity and relinquishing power. But fortunately, he is a Jesuit, with a different background, and endowed with the famous "discernment of spirits" of the Jesuit Order. Francis of Rome manifests an explicit tenderness in everything he does, but he can also show an unusual vigor, as befits a Pope with the mission of restoring the morally bankrupt Church.

Francis of Assisi had a few advisors, dreamers like himself, who did not know how to help him. Francis of Rome has surrounded himself with advisors chosen from every continent, persons of age, that is, with experience in the exercise of the sacred power. 

This Pope must acquire a different profile: one that is more nearly of service than command, more divested of than adorned with the symbols of palatial power, with more of the "flavor of the lamb" than the perfume of the flowers of the altar. The carrier of the sacred power must be a pastor before he is the carrier of ecclesiastic authority; he must preside more in charity and less with canonical right, he must be brother among his brothers, but with different responsibilities.

Will Francis of Rome face his «great temptation» inspired by his namesake of Assisi? I believe he will know how to have a firm hand and that he will not lack the courage to follow what his "discernment of spirit" dictates is necessary to effectively restore the credibility of the Church, and return the fascination with the figure of Jesus of Nazareth.  

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Belgium's Cardinal Danneels okays same-sex unions 
Marco Tosatti   Jun.6, 2013


Belgian cardinal Godfried Daneels - who recently turned 80, losing his eligibility to vote in the Conclave as well as his position in Rome's various Congregations - has come under the spotlight for some controversial statements he made regarding same-sex unions and the protests held by Catholics and non-Catholics against the "Taubita law", France's same-sex marriage law.
"I think it's a positive development that states are free to open up civil marriage for gays if they want," Cardinal Daneels apparently told Dutch language newspaper De Tijd. He added, however, that such unions should be given a different name than marriage. In the eyes of the Church, a union between two people of the same sex is not "real marriage". Real marriage can only be between a man and a woman. "But insofar as it is legal" "the Church does not have a say" in such laws, he apparently added.
Belgian French language newspaper L'Echo also quoted the cardinal saying that the French should obey the law and not oppose same-sex marriage. 

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Iowa gov. may need to OK Medicaid abortion funding
Associated Press       Jun.7, 2013

Catholic, anti-abortion Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad could soon find himself in an uncomfortable position: He may have to sign off on payments for every Medicaid-funded abortion in his state.


A bill requiring that authorization is sitting on the Republican's desk after moving through the statehouse. If Branstad signs it, Iowa is likely to be the only state that would have the unique requirement.

. . . .
Branstad said he is likely to approve the legislation, which impacts reimbursements after the abortions, not authorizing the procedures ahead of time. 

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Visitors say Benedict XVI is in declining health 
Eric Lyman         Jun 10, 2013 


Just months after becoming the first pope in nearly 600 years to resign, reports are surfacing that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI is in poor health with diminished stature and energy.


After a brief hiatus at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo, Benedict returned to live in a converted monastery on the edge of the Vatican gardens last month. Already, some of his visitors have commented on the former pope's physical deterioration.

"Benedict is in a very bad way," said Paloma Gomez Borrero, a veteran Vatican correspondent for Spain's Telecinco television network who visited the former pope in late May. "We won't have him with us much longer."

Cardinal Joachim Meisner, the archbishop of Cologne, Germany, and a personal friend of Benedict's, visited the former pope in April. "I was shocked at how thin he had become," Meisner said at the time. "Mentally, he is quite fit, his old self. But he had halved in size."

Vatican officials have admitted Benedict has weakened since stepping down, but they deny his physical condition has become critical. 

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Syrian archbishops 'most likely dead' 
Tablet    Jun..14, 2013 


Speakers at a conference in Oxford last week gave strong indications that the two Orthodox archbishops kidnapped near the Syrian city of Aleppo on 22 April had been killed.

A senior regional source said he thought Syriac Orthodox Archbishop Gregorios Yohanna Ibrahim and Greek Orthodox Archbishop Paul Yazigi had been murdered on the day that they were kidnapped. The pair were intercepted while on a humanitarian mission in Syria to negotiate the release of two abducted priests. Their driver, a deacon, was shot dead at the scene.  

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Sue Malone Hayes      May 28, 2013

So here we are with a curious turn of events. It's a little phrase that I haven't seen or heard from Vatican spokespersons nor from the right side of the Catholic aisle in about thirty-five years. "The Pope is wrong." Pope Francis talked about atheists and "doing good" and says that Jesus died for everyone, not just Catholics, and the responding Rev. Spokesman for the Vatican has come out and publicly stated that "The Pope is wrong. Atheists and indeed ANYONE who knows about the Catholic church and doesn't join it will burn in Hell." What? Extra ecclesiam nulla salus rears its ugly head again? I'm pretty sure Paul VI dealt with that many years ago in the first encyclical of his papacy. 


On the same page of articles spotlighting all the ways our new Pope is in error is one on why Francis is "wrong" and "misguided" about unfettered capitalism. "The Pope demanded more government control over the economy, decried the gap between rich and poor, and called on the world's leaders to end "the tyranny of money." This is most unfortunate, not least in that the Pope's comments are utterly self-defeating. Francis admirably seeks the alleviation of poverty and the mindfulness of the wealthy toward the poor. (I don't know about you, but when anyone writes that what someone seeks is "admirable", that's code for "now I've said the guy's goal is nice, I can trash him.") But his comments miss the mark in every way. Nothing in human history has done so much to alleviate human poverty as free market capitalism. Nothing. This shouldn't even be a controversial statement."   


Who is he trying to kid? This is like Rep. Paul Ryan, R-WI, claiming that his slash and burn budget is a model of Catholic social teachings. This is the way these guys roll; just make a bold, outrageous assertion, give no examples as proof and everyone is supposed to just say, "Wow, I didn't know that...must be true." Did anyone besides me read this morning's Gospel? I'm actually sure many of us read this morning's Gospel. Seems pretty incontrovertible.


"Go sell all you hard it is for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God." Or how about "woe to you rich, you have had your reward." It seems to be conventional wisdom that people like my husband and me, Catholic Workers into simple living, are just JEALOUS of the rich because we are lamentably "unsuccessful" and we spend our time despising those who "have it made." Well, no, I think not.

From Where I Sit, I have spent nearly fifty years giving deep thanks daily that at fifteen, my inner ear discerned that awesome invitation to "come and follow Me"...doesn't get any better than that, does it?   


Catholic school employee fired...for being a victim of domestic abuse? 
Elizabeth Lefebvre     Jun.13,2013


We've heard recently of Catholic school employees being fired from their positions for various reasons (being in a same-sex relationship, or getting pregnant through IVF), which are usually accompanied by explanations about how behaviors are in conflict with official church teaching. That doesn't seem to be the case for San Diego second-grade teacher Carie Charlesworth, who was told she would not receive a teaching agreement for next year.

After an incident in which Charlesworth's abusive ex-husband appeared at the school where she taught and where their four children attend, the school decided that in the interest of safety, it could not allow her to continue teaching there, or any other diocesan school.'

Said the letter of termination (which points out to Charlesworth that "whether or not [she] is aware," her husband had a long history of violent behavior): "We feel deeply for you and about the situation in which you and your children find yourselves in through no fault of yourown....In the interest of the safety of the students, faculty and parents at Holy Trinity School, we simply cannot allow you to return to work there, or, unfortunately, at any other school in the Diocese."  

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DUI charges dropped against Worcester Bishop McManus 
Alexandra Cowley        Jun.4, 2013

The DUI charges against Worcester Bishop Robert McManus were dropped in a Washington County court room Tuesday. McManus had pleaded guilty in traffic court to refusing a breathalyzer test in exchange for a clear record. This was the Bishop's first offense.

Bishop McManus was arrested in Narragansett at the beginning of May for hitting a car and taking off. The police report describes him as having blood shot eyes and smelling of alcohol.

McManus was not in court on Tuesday when his attorney, William Murphy, was granted his clean record.

"He's sorry, he is remorseful for what has occurred, and again he's apologized to everybody for this, and you know it's behind him and the Bishop is going to move forward," said Murphy outside court.

The Bishop has not received any disciplinary action from the church.   

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Buoyed by a new pope, priests gather to urge church reform 
David Gibson      Jun.14, 2013


The death of liberal Catholicism has been proclaimed so often in recent decades that few even bother to check to see if the body still has a pulse.

But a fledgling organization of priests believes the obituaries are premature, and as the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests gathers this month to discuss an agenda for church reform, its leaders are pointing to support from the laity as well as inspiration from the top: Pope Francis.

"For me, his papacy so far has been a lifesaver," said the Rev. Dave Cooper, a priest from Milwaukee who is head of the AUSCP, which will hold its second annual assembly at Seattle University from June 24-27.

Not that Francis is a starry-eyed liberal who is about to ordain women priests or turn the church into a representative democracy. He's not. Rather, it is the new pope's repeated exhortations for the church to engage the world, to be humble and open to dialogue, and above all to show people - including Catholics - a welcoming face that has buoyed Cooper and others in the AUSCP. 

. . . .

The AUSCP was started in August 2011 by about two dozen priests from 11 states who met at a seminary near Chicago with the goal of trying "to keep the best of Vatican II alive," referring to the landmark church council of the 1960s that opened Catholicism to the modern world.

Like similar groups of reform-minded clergy in Ireland, Austria and elsewhere, these priests were, as one put it, "more than mildly distressed by the ecclesial turn of events" in the past 30 years that has seen the Vatican and local bishops take strong measures to enforce orthodoxy and curb anything that smacks of dissent.  

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AUSCP Assembly proposed resolutions
June 24-27, 2013    Seattle, Washington

Download complete background information on the 15 RESOLUTIONS to be presented at the 2013 Assembly in Seattle.  


1. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), share with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), its pastoral concern about the precipitous decline of active priests available to serve the People of God. We ask our Bishops, as Shepherds of God's people, to employ the power and the authority of their office and work to resolve the significant pastoral and sacramental challenges resulting from an expanding Church and a declining priesthood.
2. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), will promote among its members and all priests in the United States who are in positions of authority (e.g., pastors, Chancery officials, directors of social service agencies, etc.) the exercise of that authority in a collegial manner, i.e., through a consensus decision making process, with any councils, boards, ministry or other groups through which the priests is to carry out his ministry.
3. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), ask the Holy Father to grant permission to use the 1974 edition of the sacramentary in the United States where desired. Or be it resolved that the presidential prayers of the 1974 Sacramentary including the optional Opening Collect, written by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), prayer over the Gifts and Communion Prayer be allowed to be used at all 
4. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), support Pope Francis in the need to reform the Church and restore credibility especially by opening the selection of bishops to the participation of the laity and clergy. 
5. Be it resolved that the selection of diocesan bishops should become a more transparent process in which the local churches have a well-defined and effective voice.  

6. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) supports a comprehensive plan for evangelization in the U.S.A. which includes: 
*Diagnosis of the causes of exodus of 30 percent of Catholic from the Church  
*Identification of the hunger in many Catholics which Catholic worship and pastoral  
practice fails to satisfy.  
*Presentation of effective models for Catholic evangelization. 
7. Be it resolved The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) supports the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate and recommends: 
* That the ongoing discussion of the ordination of women to the diaconate continue;  
* That the US Catholic Bishops publicly support the restoration of the ancient practice of ordaining deaconesses; (cf. Constitution of the Holy Apostles, 8. 19-20) 
* That the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) request  amendment of canon 1024 which restricts valid sacred ordination to baptized males alone.
8. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), call for the study of, and an open discussion for the ordination of women and married men to the priesthood.
9. Be it resolved that as a free association of Catholic Church workers, The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), firmly supports the National Federation of Priests' Councils (NFPC's) Labor Priests Project and hereby establishes its own internal PriestLabor-Union-Friendly Caucus.
10. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), urge the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), to encourage the re-introduction of general absolution in U.S. Parishes.
11. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), in order to promote a constructive and fruitful dialogue between priests and bishops, invites the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to appoint a bishop to serve as its liaison to the AUSCP; the AUSCP also asks the USCCB to include an official delegate from the AUSCP among the auditors at its November meeting. 
12. Be it resolved the selection of, and publicizing The Priest Of The Month shall be an ongoing program of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) beginning in the year of its adoption.
13. Be it resolved that this Assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) decry the annual collection for the Archdiocese for Military Services for its rendering to Caesar what is to be rendered to God. 
14. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP), newly inspired by the words and example of Pope Francis and faithful to the dynamics and teaching of Vatican II, establish a working group to find concrete ways of promoting inclusive dialogue and collaborative practices in the U. S. church by endorsing and applying the approach of Cardinal Bernardin's Common Ground Initiative." 
15. Be it resolved that the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) promote that on the occasion of a bishop's (ordinary's) age-related resignation or retirement a sufficient time period be allowed for his diocese, through its officials, to discern and determine from its own presbyterate, an interim leader to govern the diocese as "apostolic administrator." 
Cincinnati Director of Formation Issues Broadside Against the Association of Catholic Priests 
Rita Ferrone    Jun.8, 2013 


Fr. Martin Fox, writing in his personal blog, Bonfire of the Vanities, has issued a broadside against the Association of Catholic Priests and their upcoming meeting in Seattle, calling it the "Sad-funny-ironic swan-song of the 'Spirit of Vatican 2'crowd."


Calling their agenda "pointless," his dismissive remarks about the group, which has 950 members, highlight not only the generational differences between age cohorts in the American Catholic priesthood, but also the increasingly acerbic and derogatory tone that younger priests feel free to take in public when speaking about their elder brothers.

In fact, it would be hard to tell from Fr. Fox's remarks that he regards older priests as brothers at all, much less valued older colleagues in ministry. They are described more as if they are either enemies or a pathetic nuisance to be gotten out of the way. Younger priests such as Fr. Fox, confident that they hold the whip hand, now seem ready to snap it - on other priests.

This attitude toward older priests and indeed toward an entire generation of the Church as blameworthy targets to be attacked, is of course nothing new to blogs. Significantly, Fr. Fox writes in red letters in the midst of his blog post "Welcome Fr. Zeee....ians!"

All of this would be of little interest, except for the fact that Fr. Fox is director of priestly formation for the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Generally, priests who are placed in positions of trust and authority in priestly formation are also regarded as role models for the young. (Fr. Fox, judging from his picture, is middle-aged.) Sadly, one reasonable inference may be that his Ordinary, Archbishop Schnurr, approves of his conduct and manner of expression and wishes to see it replicated in those who are drawn to the ordained ministry. Or does he? It's not always clear that bishops read the blogs of their priests or approve of everything they do.

Personally, I think this blog post illustrates a deplorable state of affairs in the priesthood today. Nothing of substance said here is new. But the spectacle of angry contempt speaks louder than the content of the argument.   

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Letters to the editor

 Jesus, ARCC, and "disobedience"

I am in full agreement (with Bob S. in the May 30 ARCC News) that ARCC supports the right and sometimes even the duty to disobey certain unjust orders or laws, including ecclesiastical laws.  Further, the incompetence and misdirected loyalty characteristic of most post-1979 bishops does not inspire confidence or (irrational) obedience. 
The reason, however, is NOT that of "following the example of Jesus who often, up-front and in-your-face, blatantly defied and disobeyed the laws and instructions of the teaching of his Jewish religious authorities.  And paid the price for doing so."
The assertion is unhistorical, uncritical, and (unintentionally) anti-Jewish.  This kind of reasoning has plagued Christian and Catholic discourse for centuries.  One would hope that, since Vatican II's Nostra Aetate and the reflections that followed it, as well as what one might expect from the spread of critical biblical (here: especially NT) scholarship, better reasoning would prevail.
In the statement cited above, Jesus' "paying the price" for his "blatant defiance and disobedience" suggests that it was "Jewish religious authorities" who crucified Jesus.  The use of crucifixion, however, points strongly to the Romans as Jesus' executioners, no doubt with some probably priestly collaboration.  This despite the gospels' tendency to point away from Pilate and toward Jewish responsibility.
More generally, it is highly likely that Jesus thought that his mission from the Father and the inbreaking of the reign of God were more important than, and took precedence over, some then-current positions on the Law: on some (disputed) Sabbath rules (e.g. Mark 2: 23-28; Luke 13: 10-16) and perhaps on burying one's parents (Matt 8: 21-22 //Luke 9: 60, 62).  Briefly, Jesus claimed to speak for God, and, at least in his summons to Israel and his initiative toward sinners, to act for God.  This might well have annoyed some "Jewish religious authorities."  But it is a far cry from a Jesus who "often, up-front and in-your-face, blatantly defied and disobeyed the laws and instructions of the teaching of his Jewish religious authorities."  This making Jesus shine brighter in comparison with Jewish "laws and instructions" needs to come to an end.
There is enough rationale for careful and thought-through occasional disobedience in the Catholic Church today without hyperbolic references to what Jesus allegedly did.
If more professional scholarship is needed, I would recommend E.P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, and John Meier, A Marginal Jew:  Re-Thinking the Historical Jesus, Vol.4 (on Law and Love). 
Dave Efroymson
David P. Efroymson, Ph. D.
Professor Emeritus, Religion
La Salle University  

Bob Schutzius responds


Many thanks for the comments.  I am glad you understood that I had no intention of implying guilt to our Jewish brethren.  Jesus would not look kindly on that.   But, even though unintentional, I am sorry that some might take it that way, as you point out.  It was just the way it was.

Hardness of heart and absolute certitude among religious leaders was the same then as it is now, and some are persecuted today as then for challenging it.  
I accept in gratitude your reminder that I am shy on professional scholarship and am duly admonished to be more careful about making sure that I do not accidentally convey unintended nor easily misinterpreted ideas in the heat of the message.  Thank you to for the reference to the   E.P. Sanders, Jesus and Judaism, and John Meier, A Marginal Jew:  Re-Thinking the Historical Jesus, Vol.4 (on Law and Love)..  I am currently into Gerry Sloyan's Jesus in focus: A life in its setting, but even this is 20 years old.
It is always good to hear from you and to learn from you, and would impose on you that you continue  to speak out whenever you encounter that which might lead others astray.

Bob Schutzius  

Robert Schutzius, Ph.D.
ARCC Presidential Advisor 
ARCC office manager.   

New Translation of the Roman Missal  


German priests ask bishops to wait on Missal translation 

Anthony Ruff, OSB          May 31, 2013 


The Tablet reported today that members of the German Priests' Initiative, founded in 2007, have asked their bishops to withhold approval of the new German translation of the Roman Missal. They are concerned with the linguistic register of the new translation, which they regard as inappropriate.

You can read the Tablet report here.

The priests' statement draws attention both to the process by which the translation was "pushed through" and the problems embodied in the resulting text:

We are aware that the Vatican worship congregation has pushed through this new translation according to the instruction  Liturgiam authenticam(2001) with great pressure, against the efforts of the German bishops and liturgy experts for a stylistically better and linguistically more comprehensible translation. ... 
We urgently need a language that helps contemporary people carry out a dialogue with God and thus participate actively in the liturgy. Our liturgy does not suffer from its words being too far from the Latin original. The opposite is the case: the liturgy is often far removed from the language and sensitivities of people and insufficiently poetic and inspiring. A new Missal that that doesn't deal with these difficulties, but in fact exacerbates them, will be rejected by many priests out of reasons of conscience, and will not be accepted and understood by congregations. It will not lead to greater unity in the church, but will cause divisions and encourage aberrations. 
In the few days of his pontificate, Pope Francis has sent clear signals that allow one to hope for more collegial interactions with the bishops and an end to exaggerated Roman centralism. ... 
We turn to you with this urgent concern: do not implement the new Missal, but stay with the current translation for the time being - even though so much effort has been expended. Make known to Pope Francis the problem, in the hope that he will give back to diocesan bishops the right to carry out the task proper to them, without the paternalism of the Roman curia. 
Pastors Karl Feser and Klaus Kempter, 
in name of the Pfarrer-Initiative of Germany
Upcoming Events   
2013 June 24-27, 2013  Seattle,WA   
 "Lumen Gentium, God's Pilgrim People." 
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Robert Kaiser, a Vatican II journalist's perspective 
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The Catholic Tipping Point 
Fr. Helmut Schüller's "Call to Disobedience," signed by a majority of Austrian priests, has brought worldwide attention and momentum to addressing the crises in the Catholic Church. He will be on a U.S. speaking tour this summer. 
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