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Blessing for Jorge Mario Bergoglio
Maren Tirabassi          Mar.15, 2013

 God, make him an instrument of your peace.

Where there is hatred, let him sow love;
where his church injured people,
may he offer comfort and justice;
where there is extravagance,
may he teach the simplicity
of his leaving the chauffeur for the bus,
where there is despair among the poor,
may he care as he did in Buenos Aires slums;
where there is fear of Vatican exclusivity,
may he be priest from faraway
willing to listen to the world,;
and where there is sadness born
of torture and death in  the Dirty War,
may he become gentle as Francis.

God, grant that this Pope not so much seek
to be defined by the past as open to the future
to be understood through old views,
as to understand women and
your same-gender loving children;
nor to call others "devil" as to listen to angels.

For it is in his first humble words
asking for our prayers
rather than pronouncing a blessing,
that he is blessed,
it is in knowing that true pardon
is never protecting those who abuse others,
that there is healing,
and it is embracing the humble saint
of begging and bird-sermons
of crèche and courage
that he may guide his faith community
through dying to an Easter life. Amen.


Francis at inaugural Mass: Pope must be servant, 'inspired by lowly'
Joshua J. McElwee       Mar.19, 2013

Pope FrancisAmong a crowd of an estimated 200,000 people gathered from around the world, Pope Francis on Tuesday inaugurated the beginning of his ministry with a meditation on the model of St. Joseph and the power -- and limits -- of the papacy.


Standing behind a lectern from a raised red carpet platform and looking out from St. Peter's Basilica for the homily during the Mass, Francis acknowledged he is the 265th successor of Peter, which he said "involves a certain power" given by Christ to Peter.


"But what sort of power was it?" the new pope asked, looking up from his prepared remarks at the crowd in front of him.


"Let us never forget that authentic power is service," Francis continued after a pause. "The pope, too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service, which has its radiant culmination on the cross."

The pope, Francis continued, "must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked St. Joseph."

. . . .

Unlike Pope Benedict XVI, whose renunciation of the papacy Feb. 28 eventually led to Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio's election as Pope Francis on March 13, the new pope did not wear his miter during the homily and spoke standing instead of seated.


"Make no mistake about it -- this is a liturgical revolution," said Benedictine Fr. Anthony Ruff, an associate professor of theology at Saint John's University in Minnesota. "And no one saw it coming."


Ruff said Francis preaches "like a simple parish priest -- at the ambo, not the chair, and without miter," noting that at a Mass last week, the pope also did not wear his miter during his homily.

Read more


Coat of arms


Pope Francis' coat of arms, motto and ring signal simplicity 
Daniela Petroff         Mar.18, 2013

Pope Francis is mixing his Argentine past with his Roman present to create his new papal coat of arms, while harking back to a pope associated with the Second Vatican Council for the simple ring that he will receive during Tuesday's installation Mass.

. . . .

The new pope chose to keep the same coat of arms he had as archbishop of Buenos Aires, and picked the simplest ring out of several models offered him. It is fashioned in gold-plated silver and was once a gift to Pope Paul VI, who presided over the second half of Vatican II, the meetings that modernized the church.

. . . .

The shield itself, in very simple almost modern heraldry, depicts a star, a grape-like plant, and a monogram of Christ at the centre of a fiery sun. The symbols represent the three members of the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph. In religious writing, Mary is often referred to as a "star," while St. Joseph is often depicted holding a nard, a Middle Eastern plant. The monogram is the symbol of Francis' Jesuit order.


His motto suggests even more about the root of Francis' message:

"Miserando atque eligendo," Latin for "Having had mercy, he called him," comes from an episode in the Gospel where Christ picks a seemingly unworthy person to follow him.

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Pope's Installation Mass Held
NBC       Mar.19, 2013

Pope's Installation Mass Held


On way to installation Francis exits vehicle to greet a man in the crowd Raw: Pope Francis Rides to Installation Mass




 Watch Pope Francis' Installation Mass



Pope Francis makes surprise call to fellow Argentines
USA Today       Mar.19, 2013

Thousands of people who spent the night in the main square of Plaza de Mayo to watch the Mass inaugurating Argentina's archbishop as the new pope of the Catholic church got a bit of a surprise Tuesday.


At about 3:30 a.m., archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio spoke to the crowd directly from Rome as Pope Francis over speakers set up in the square here outside the Catholic cathedral.


His remarks, greeted by a huge wave of applause, came in a phone call about two hours before the Mass that marked his official transition to leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, according to the Vatican press office.


"Dear sons and daughters, I know you have gathered in the square. I know that you are saying prayers, I need them very much," he said. "It is beautiful to pray because we look to heaven and know that we have a good father who is God." 

Read more



The Pope's Call

Rocco Palmo       Mar.20, 2013

With the "Launch Mass" now in the books, the papal transition has reached its close, and the various participants and spectators of these last weeks have already begun heading home.

Things will remain eventful, however... and as further evidence of how much Pope Francis is jamming into the shredder of Vatican protocol, the Catholic world might want to start getting used to a six-word phrase bound to stun many over the years to come -"The Pope is on the phone."

Es verdad - beyond reaching out in the flesh, Jorge Bergoglio has spent a good part of his first week in white quietly burning up the lines to places and people he can't immediately visit. 

A practice mostly eschewed by his recent predecessors, PopeCalls look set to become a key element of Francis' ability to keep personally close - and on the equally crucial governance side, duly appraised.

Even before his first appearance at the balcony, the new pontiff placed a call to his predecessor at Castel Gandolfo, then another one last night on B16's onomastico, St Joseph's Day. Among others who've already been rung up include the Father-General of the Jesuits, while yesterday morning's public watch party in Buenos Aires received a 3.30am call from Francis over the sound system before the Mass and, last night, the Pope dialed the hometown newsstand where he'd buy his morning paper to thank the family who owns it for their daily time together over the years and ask for their prayers.  
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On Holy Thursday, Pope To Prison
Rocco Palmo       Mar.21, 2013

In a sudden announcement this morning from the Holy See, Pope Francis has yet again turned Vatican protocol on its head - shredding the earlier plan of beginning the Easter Triduum in St Peter's Basilica, the new pontiff has instead opted to go to a juvenile prison in Rome to celebrate Holy Thursday's Evening Mass of the Lord's Supper, at which he'll wash the feet of 12 inmates.


The opening chapter of the church's most sacred moment of the year, while the rite normally takes place in at St John Lateran, this year's Evening Mass was previously slated to happen in the Vatican Basilica as the new pontiff has yet to take possession of the Lateran - the "Mother and Head" of all churches, which technically serves as the cathedral of the bishop of Rome.


Over recent decades, the Popes have washed the feet of 12 retired priests of their diocese at the liturgy. As the facility Papa Bergoglio has chosen for the Mass comprises both male and female inmates, given his prior practice, a long-standing flashpoint for the church in the "developed" world - namely, the inclusion of women in the Mandatum rite - could well see its most authoritative verdict to date in Francis' actions next week.   

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Strained Under Benedict, Vatican's Interfaith Ties Already Improving

Jerome Socolovsky       Mar.15, 2013

Leaders of Muslim, Jewish and other non-Catholic faiths are welcoming the election of Pope Francis. Many expect improved interfaith relations after setbacks under Pope Benedict.

The Vatican's relations with other faiths have always been fraught. Benedict's papacy, however, has left them in need of repair. He sparked anger across the Muslim world when he cited a 14th century Byzantine emperor who said the Prophet Muhammad had brought things that were "evil and inhuman."

Omar Shahin, the secretary general of the North American Imams Federation, said, "It was a very bad start, and, because of this speech, people stop(ped) all interfaith dialogue."

. . . .

Benedict also angered Jews when he revoked the ex-communication of a bishop who denied the Holocaust.


As cardinal, though, Jorge Bergoglio had warm ties with rabbis in Argentina. One referred to the new pope as "my rabbi."
. . . .
Benedict angered other Christian denominations by suggesting they are not true churches. In the first days of Francis' papacy, however, the Vatican's relations with other faiths appear to be on the mend. 

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Pope "determined" to continue towards Christian unity 

AsiaNews       Mar.20, 2013

 Pope Francis has a "strong desire" to continue the ecumenical journey towards the "noble cause" of Christian unity, he is confident that the "fraternal dialogue" with the Jewish people will continue, he "appreciates" the presence of Muslims at the ceremony marking the beginning of his pontificate, with which to promote "friendship and respect between men and women of different religious traditions", a phrase repeated twice.  . . . . This morning's meeting with 33 delegations from churches and religious denominations, Christian and non-Christian, who attended the inaugural mass of the new Pope was an insight into this pontificate's line regarding relations with other Christians and religions, and even those who "do not even belong to any religions but who feel close to the truth and beauty".


The Pope responded to the warm greetings of Patriarch Bartholomew and calling him Andrew, the name of the apostle founder and patron of the Patriarchate. "Yesterday morning - he adds - during Holy Mass, through your presence, I recognized the spiritual presence of the community you represent. In this manifestation of faith, the prayer for unity among believers in Christ seemed even more urgent to men and together somehow to see prefigured this full realization, which depends on the Divine plan and our sincere cooperation. "


Francis then made a double reference to the link between the beginning of his pontificate, the Year of Faith and the fiftieth anniversary of Vatican II. He announced that want to continue the initiative of the Year of Faith, "a truly inspired" idea of Benedict XVI and then he quoted John XXIII. "Together with you - he said - I can not forget how the council's significance for the ecumenical journey. I like to remember the words that Blessed John XXIII, of whom we will soon mark 50 years since his death, when he gave his memorable inauguration speech: "The Catholic Church therefore considers it her duty to work actively so that there may be fulfilled the great mystery of that unity, which Christ Jesus invoked with fervent prayer from His heavenly Father on the eve of His sacrifice. She rejoices in peace, knowing well that she is intimately associated with that prayer'". 

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United against economic crisis and "worldly trends", Bartholomew and Francis to be in Jerusalem next year 

AsiaNews       Mar.20, 2013

Pope & PatriarchThe ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople has invited Pope Francis to travel with him to the Holy Land next year to mark the fiftieth anniversary of the embrace between Patriarch Athenagoras and Paul VI, the pioneers of Catholic-Orthodox dialogue. During their private meeting, Bartholomew and Francis explored possible paths towards unity, including theological dialogue, environmental defence, and a visit to the Fanar, after going through proper diplomatic channels.


Earlier, when the pontiff met Christian and other religious leaders, Bartholomew I was the only one who addressed Pope Francis. For the patriarch, Christians must bear witness in a credible way through "Church unity" in order to cope with the world's economic crisis and to counter "worldly trends" that limit life to its earthly horizons. Bartholomew's words reflect the pontiff's notion of stewardship, which he presented yesterday during his inaugural mass.


All this is evidence of the great unity between the two leaders. When Pope Francis introduced the patriarch, he called him, off the cuffs, "my brother Andrew" underscoring the blood ties between the two apostles patrons of the two Churches, Andrew of Constantinople and Peter of Rome, the "first one to be called" and the "first one among the apostles".

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The story from the Sistine Chapel on Pope Francis' election
David Gibson       Mar.16, 2013

On the night of March 10, Fr. Thomas Rosica was walking through the Piazza Navona in Rome's historic center when he bumped into Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, whom he has known for years. Bergoglio was walking alone, wearing a simple black cassock, and he stopped and grabbed Rosica's hands.


"I want you to pray for me," the Argentine cardinal told Rosica, a Canadian priest who was assisting as a Vatican spokesman during the papal interregnum. Rosica asked him if he was nervous. "A little bit," Bergoglio said.

. . . .

It was a surprising outcome, and even if Bergoglio suspected something was up, few others did, including many of the cardinals in the Sistine Chapel with him.


"I think it all came together in an extraordinary fashion," Chicago Cardinal Francis George told the Chicago Tribune.

. . . . 

 "I believe the Holy Spirit makes clear which way we should go. And we went that way very quickly."

The Holy Spirit, yes, but other forces also contributed to the unexpected result. And despite the cone of silence that is supposed to remain over all proceedings inside the conclave, leaks in the Italian press and interviews with various cardinal electors have begun to give a clearer picture of how this 28-hour conclave unfolded.


What happened, in short, is that during the first "shake out" ballot Tuesday evening, Bergoglio's name drew a surprising number of votes, suddenly putting him out there as a potential candidate.

"Cardinal Bergoglio wouldn't have become pope in the fifth ballot if he had not been a really strong contender for the papacy from the beginning," Austrian Cardinal Christoph Schönborn told reporters.

. . . . 

In the first round of voting, not only did Bergoglio make an unexpectedly strong showing, but Scola did not fare well, and neither did Scherer or another leading contender, Canadian Marc Ouellet, who works in the Curia.


That night, sequestered at the Casa Santa Marta residence that houses the cardinals during a conclave, the reform camp began to coalesce around Bergoglio. The Argentine continued to gain strength during the two ballots Wednesday morning. At lunch, he "seemed very weighed down by what was happening," according to Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who sat next to him.


According to La Repubblica, an Italian daily with good sources in the Vatican, Washington's Cardinal Donald Wuerl played a key role in rallying the Americans to Bergoglio, and they were followed by European bishops such as Vingt-Trois.

. . . . 

"I was surprised that consensus among the cardinals was reached so soon," said Ireland's Cardinal Sean Brady.


Also surprised, apparently, was the Italian bishops' conference, which was so sure Scola would win it sent out a message of congratulations to Scola on his election as soon as the white smoke appeared over the Sistine Chapel. 

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pope cartoon
What's the story about paying the hotel bill, riding the bus, and no golden cross?

... Perhaps I misunderstood. They said that I'm successor of a poor fisherman from Galilee, not the Roman Emperor.




No cuff links!
Anthony Ruff, OSB       Mar.18, 2013

As Rocco notes, Pope Francis doesn't wear cuff links.

Rocco links to two photos showing [MC] Marini's sudden reduction in lace. (Lace and Linen)  What a blessed relief this all is. 


But a monk confrere wonders whether Pope Francis shouldn't have a Vatican aide sample all his food before he eats it. 

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"Bergoglio is completely innocent," says Argentina's Supreme Court
Vatican Insider       Mar.18, 2013

Today, the President of the Argentine Supreme Court of Justice, Ricardi Lorenzetti said that pope Francis "is completely innocent" and was never suspected of being involved in violations of human rights committed during the military dictatorship (1976-83).

 . . . .  

At around 12 o'clock today, Pope Francis met with the President of Argentina, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Saint Martha's House, in the Vatican. This was the new Pope's first meeting with a Head of State.


"Never in my life has a pope kissed me!" Cristina Fernández de Kirchner said, smiling, after her private audience with Pope Francis. After exchanging gifts, the Pope kissed the Argentinean President on the cheek. Today's meeting betweenFernández de Kirchner and Pope Francis lasted between 15 to 20 minutes and was cordial and informal: the President gave the Pope a mate (traditional Argentinean drink) set, unwrapping each cup individually to show them to the Pope. "unwrapping a present brings good luck," according to Argentinean tradition.

. . .
The Latin American press has reported that Cristina Fernández de Kirchner will attend tomorrow's inaugural mass, alongside the President of the Italian Republic, Giorgio Napolitano. 

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Hans Küng talks about the new pope


 Euronews       Mar,14, 2013


Hans K??ng talks about the new pope
Hans Küng talks about the new pope


From Euronews Rudi Herbert spoke to the well-known theologian and church critic, Professor Hans Küng. 

Rudi Herbert: "It was a giant media show in Rome, and the election was a surprise. But with his fragile health, isn't he going to be just a transitional Pope?"

Hans Küng: "I am not worried about that. He is not going to be a transitional Pope. John 23rd. was only in office for 5 years and he changed the Church more than during the previous 500 years. The new Pope has already shown that he can change the whole atmosphere just by his simple and sober appearance."

Rudi Herbert: "How should we interpret this election? Is Francis 1st going to be a Pope for the poor? He comes from the continent with most Catholic believers and many social problems." 

Hans Küng: "He will certainly not give priority to the East/West problem like the last two Popes. But rather to the North/South and all the problems of the world's poor. This has lots of moral implications. Think of over-population, birth control, all this will be debated again."

Rudi Herbert: "What will be the new Pope's most urgent task? Clearing up the abuse-scandals? The so-called Vatileaks scandal?"

Hans Küng: "Indeed. The new Pope is the only one with access to the secret report written by the three Cardinals for his predecessor Pope Ratzinger. He will than realize who is not reliable in the Curia and what has happened. The most important mission is the reform of the Curia, a clear conception how the church should be led. It will be important to choose the right secretary of state, not to just confirm the leaders of the Roman ministries, but to bring in competent people, so as to really reform the church. We need nothing more urgently than a reform of the Roman court, which must become a centre of the church, which must really function and not obstruct."

Rudi Herbert "How much church do people need nowadays? What is the Catholic church in charge of today?"

Hans Küng: "A church can be a moral authority in the world if it is functioning correctly. But it must not allow Pharisaical behaviour nor point the moral finger. You have to be responsive to people's hardships, show comprehension and also be stand together with other Christian churches and world religions. It has to work for peace in the world. So there are gigantic tasks, and I really hope this Pope will do more for the renewal of the church, more for Christian churches, more for peace and well being in the world than his two predecessors."



Pope Francis: U.S. was 'stupid' for shuffling around pedophile priests instead of firing them
Ginger Adams Otis       Mar.21, 2013

Pope Francis is staunchly opposed to the "stupid" practice of reassigning priests who are accused of pedophilia, preferring to drum them out of the priesthood instead.

The former archbishop of Buenos Aires - then known as Jorge Cardinal Bergoglio - favors "zero tolerance" for priestly sexual abuse and criticized previous cases in the U.S. where accused clerics were simply moved to other parishes, according to a book of conversations he had with Rabbi Abraham Skorka.

During his 14 years as Archbishop Bergoglio ordered church officials to report all allegations to the police rather than simply moving them to avoid damaging the church.

"That solution was proposed once in the United States ... switching the priests to a different parish. It is a stupid idea," Bergoglio said. "That way, the priest just takes the problem with him wherever he goes."

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Pope Francis was often quiet on Argentine sex abuse cases as archbishop

Nick Minoff     Mar,18, 2013


Father Julio Cesar Grassi was a celebrity in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. The young, dynamic, ­media-savvy priest networked with wealthy Argentines to fund an array of schools, orphanages and job training programs for poor and abandoned youths, winning praise from Argentine politicians and his superior, Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio.


Grassi called his foundation Felices los Niños, "Happy Children."


Today, Grassi is a convicted sex offender who remains free on a conditional release after being sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2009 for molesting a prepubescent boy in his care.


Yet in the years after Grassi's conviction, Bergoglio - now Pope Francis - has declined to meet with the victim of the priest's crimes or the victims of other predations by clergy under his leadership. He did not offer personal apologies or financial restitution, even in cases in which the crimes were denounced by other members of the church and the offending priests were sent to jail.

. . . .


But during most of the 14 years that Bergoglio served as archbishop of Buenos Aires, rights advocates say, he did not take decisive action to protect children or act swiftly when molestation charges surfaced; nor did he extend apologies to the victims of abusive priests after their misconduct came to light.


"He has been totally silent," said Ernesto Moreau, a member of Argentina's U.N.-affiliated Permanent Assembly for Human Rights and a lawyer who has represented victims in a clergy sexual-abuse case. Victims asked to meet with Bergoglio but were turned down, Moreau said. "In that regard, Bergoglio was no different from most of the other bishops in Argentina, or the Vatican itself."

. . . .

There is no evidence that Bergoglio played a role in covering up abuse cases. Several prominent rights groups in Argentina say the archbishop went out of his way in recent years to stand with secular organizations against crimes such as sex trafficking and child prostitution. They say that Bergoglio's resolve strengthened as new cases of molestation emerged in the archdiocese and that he eventually instructed bishops to immediately report all abuse allegations to police. 

. . . .

In one of Argentina's most egregious abuse cases, another priest in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires was assigned to work with children even when church leaders knew of allegations against him.


After local parishioners accused Father Mario Napoleon Sasso of molesting children in a poor, rural province of eastern Argentina in the early 1990s, he was sent to a privaterehabilitation center for wayward clergy, La Domus Mariae (the House of Mary), north of Buenos Aires. He lived for two years at the center and was then reassigned to work in a soup kitchen for poor children in a town outside the capital. There, he went on to sexually abuse girls as young as 3.

. . . .

Moreau said that in 2003 he accompanied two nuns and a priest who had denounced Sasso, along with the victims' families, to a meeting with the Vatican emissary in Buenos Aires. He said the families were told to be "patient" and were offered gifts of rosaries "blessed by the pope."

"They just wanted to cover it up," Moreau said.


Three years later, as the evidence against Sasso mounted, the families asked to see Bergoglio, Moreau said, but they never received a response. Sasso was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to 17 years in prison. He has since been released on parole.


Religious-affairs scholar Fortunato Mallimaci, a sociologist at the University of Buenos Aires, said that as Pope Francis, Bergoglio will face an entirely different set of expectations for how to handle abuse claims. "In the United States and Europe, there is a clear separation of church and state," he said. "Not in Latin America." There, he said, civil society is often too weak to take on the power of the clergy, and suspicion falls first "on the accuser, not the accused."

Read more
U.S. Catholics Happy with Selection of Pope Francis
Pew Forum       Mar.18, 2013

In the days immediately following the selection of Pope Francis as the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church, nearly three-quarters of U.S. Catholics (73%) say they are happy with his selection, including 31% who say they are very happy. One quarter of Catholics do not yet have an opinion about Francis' selection, while just 2% express unhappiness.


Who are the people who were waiting for Pope Francis?
Joan Chittister        Mar.15, 2013

. . . .

At first sight, Jorge Mario Bergoglio -- Pope Francis -- is a quiet and humble man, a pastoral man and as a Latin American, a leader of 51 million Catholics, or the largest concentration of Catholics on the planet, which is not business-as-usual as far as papal history goes.

But perhaps the most profound and memorable moment of his introduction is that he presented himself on the balcony in front of thousands of people from all parts of the world not in the brocaded fashion of a pope, but in a simple white cassock.

And then came the real shock: He bowed to the people. Bowed. And asked them to pray a blessing down on him before he blessed them. Francis, I remembered, was the Christian who reached out to Muslims. Francis, the one who listened to every creature in the universe and dialogued with it.
Indeed, if this Francis, too, is a listener, there is hope for reconciliation, hope for healing, hope for the development of the church.

No doubt about it: We know who the people are who have been waiting for a pope and why they are weary. The question now is, Does he know how weary they are? And does he care? Really?
From where I stand, something has to change. Maybe, just maybe, this time ...
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The humility of a blessing: Pope Francis on conscience
Bryan Cones       Mar.19, 2013

As we all continue to scrutinize Pope Francis' every move, article of clothing, and hotel bill for the kind of bishop of Rome he might be, let me call attention to the lovely blessing he offered to journalists gathered to cover the conclave, as covered in The New York Times. "Given that many of you do not belong to the Catholic Church, and others are not believers, I give this blessing from my heart, in silence, to each one of you, respecting the conscience of each one of you, but knowing that each one of you is a child of God."


Not an iota of triumphalism in that blessing, nor an iota of waffling about the Catholic faith either. Here is a person who can be himself with others in a truly hospitable way. What I hope is that his respect for the consciences of individuals extends also to those in the Catholic Church whose consciences vary from his own. While he may not agree with them, I have a feeling, and I really hope, that he will be equally hospitable.


At any rate, his desire to make the church poor and for the poor is one that I think resonates with a great many Catholic consciences--and I imagine many non-Catholic consciences as well.




Bergoglio OK'd slain priest sainthood cases
Michael Warren       Mar.19, 2013

Before he became Pope Francis, Argentina's Catholic leader took the first steps toward granting sainthood status to priests and other Catholics who were murdered in July 1976 as Argentina's dictatorship was killing thousands of so-called "subversives."


The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, confirmed Tuesday that it was Jorge Bergoglio who approved the beatification cause of Carlos de Dios Murias, a Franciscan priest killed in Argentina's La Rioja province, where his mission had challenged the interests of powerful local leaders.


A fellow Franciscan priest, a Frenchman named Gabriel Longueville, was found alongside Murias. Both had their eyes gouged out and hands cut off, allegedly after being kidnapped by a military death squad. A Catholic lay worker who collaborated with them, Wenceslao Pedernera, was found beaten to death days later. The diocese of La Rioja province has been working on a sainthood case for all three since 2011.

Lombardi said that as leader of Argentina's bishops, Bergoglio also approved a sainthood investigation for five Pallotine churchmen killed at St. Patrick's Church in Buenos Aires. Fathers Alfredo Kelly, Alfredo Leaden and Pedro Dufau and their seminarians Salvador Berbeito and Emilio Barletti were shot to death by a right-wing hit squad. The killers left graffiti saying the deaths were in revenge for a leftist guerrilla bombing of a police station two days earlier that had killed 18 people. 

. . . .

The Franciscan priests' bishop, Enrique Angelelli, had gathered evidence about their deaths when he, too, was killed in a suspicious traffic accident. Church leaders didn't acknowledge that Angelelli was probably murdered until 2006, when President Nestor Kirchner announced a national day of mourning in his honor. Bergoglio said Mass in La Rioja that day, calling Angelelli a "martyr" during the first official church homage to him.
. . . .
La Stampa also interviewed another priest, Miguel La Civita, who was close to Angelelli, and credits Bergoglio for saving him and other priests by hiding them inside the Colegio Maximo, a church university in suburban Buenos Aires where Bergoglio was the rector.

"I was the exact prototype of what were then called 'third-world priests,' liberation theology," La Civita was quoted as saying. "The Colegio Maximo had become a kind of safe house to help the persecuted: they were hidden, false documents were prepared and they helped them flee the country. Bergoglio was convinced that the military wouldn't have the guts to violate the Colegio Maximo."

. . . .

Monsenor Gregorio Rosa Chavez of El Salvador, meanwhile, is convinced that Francis would be happy to beatify slain archibishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero, who was shot down while celebrating Mass in 1980 after challenging his country's military to end its civil war.

Chavez told The AP that Francis shares Romero's vision of the church, and that the phrase Francis used in his initial address, that he wants "a poor church that's for the poor," is something Romero also said many times.

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New pope and geopolitics of secrecy


Ivone Gebara       Mar.16, 2013


Now that the initial shock of Buenos Aires Cardinal Bergoglio's election and the thrill of having a Latin American pope who is both cordial and friendly are over, it's time for some reflection.

 . . . . 

The Catholic press says nothing about many people's suspicions regarding his role during Argentina's recent military dictatorship, or about his current political stands against gay marriage and the legalization of abortion. Neither do they mention his well-known criticism of liberation theology or his distain for feminist theology.


The image of a kindly and modest figure just elected by a group of cardinals assisted by the Holy Spirit veils the reality of a man who in fact embodies numerous contradictions. More recently the Brazilian newspapers (Folha de Sao Paulo, Estado de Sao Paulo) have offered differing profiles of the new pope that give us a more realistic idea of who he is.

In this light it becomes clear that his election was, beyond doubt, part of a geopolitical offensive involving competing interests and a balance of forces within the Catholic world. An article by Julio C. Gambina published via Internet March 13 in Argenpress, as well as information coming in from alternative groups in Nicaragua, Venezuela, Brazil and especially Argentina have confirmed my suspicions. The See of Peter and the Vatican State are positioning their pieces in the world game of chess in order to empower political projects championed by the North and its allies in the South. In a certain sense, the South is being co-opted by the North.  A Church leader who comes from the South will help balance the forces in the world chess game, which have been displaced a good deal in recent years by left-leaning governments in Latin America and by the struggles of many movements -- among them Latin America's feminist movements, whose demands annoy the Vatican. 

. . . .

The highly touted commitment to evangelization as a Church priority seems instead to be a commitment to a hierarchical order in a world where the elites reign and the people applaud in great plazas, where they pray and sing and bubble over with high spirits, invoking divine blessings upon the heads of their new political-religious leaders.


The same doctrine, with little variation, continues to be preached. There is no reflection, no awakening of consciousness, no invitation to critical thinking. What is invoked, instead, is a set of quasi-magical teachings.  On the one hand, we have a society awash with great spectacles that captivate us and urge us to accept -- with a dose of romanticism -- the restraints imposed by the contemporary system of order/disorder, and on the other a system of paternalistic handouts that is equated with evangelization.


To go out into the streets and give food to the poor and pray with prisoners is somewhat humanitarian, but it does not solve the problem of social exclusion that afflicts many of the world's countries.


To write about "the geopolitics of secrecy" in a moment of media euphoria amounts to spoiling the party for the buyers and sellers in the Temple, content with stalls filled with Rosaries, scapulars, bottles of holy water and the large and small statues of many saints. The problem is that if we break the secret and pull the plug on the allure of white smoke, we deflate the suspense of a secret conclave that denies the Catholic people access to the information to which we have a right-and lay bare those purple-clothed bodies with their sordid histories

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Translated by Mary Judith Ress from [Novo Papa] A geopoli­tica do segredo




Pope Francis called to restore the Church
Leonardo Boff       Mar.16, 2013

Leonardo BoffFrancis is not just a name, it is a project of the Church, poor, simple, evangelical and bereft of power. She is a Church that walks with the least among us, that creates the first communities of brothers and sisters who pray the breviary under the trees with the little birds. She is an ecological Church that calls all beings by the sweet words, «brothers and sisters». Francis was obedient to the Church and to the popes, and at the same time he followed his own path with the Gospel of poverty in hand. Then the theologian Joseph Ratzinger wrote: «the "no" of Francis to that type of imperial Church could not be more radical, it is what we could call a prophetic protest» (Zeit Jesu, Herder 1970, 269). Francis does not speak, he simply inaugurates the new.


I believe Pope Francis has in mind a Church removed from the palaces and symbols of power. He showed that when he appeared in public. Normally the Popes, and principally Ratzinger, would place over their shoulders the muceta, that small short cape embroidered in gold, that only the emperors could use. Pope Francis appeared dressed only in white. Three points of great symbolic meaning are worthy of note in his inaugural speech.


The first: Pope Francis said that he wants «to preside in charity», something that has been sought since the Reformation and by the best theologians of ecumenism. The Pope should not preside as an absolutist monarch, invested with sacred power, as provided by canon law. According to Jesus, he should preside in love, and fortify the faith of the brothers and sisters.


The second: the Pope gave centrality to the People of God, as Vatican Council II does, but as was set aside by the two previous popes in favor of hierarchy. Pope Francis humbly asked the people of God to pray for him and for the people to bless him. Only after that did he bless the people of God. This means that he is here to serve, not to be served. He asks for help to build a path together and cries for fraternity for all humanity, as humans do not now recognize themselves as brothers and sisters, but as joined by economic forces.


Lastly, he avoided the spectacle of the figure of the Pope. He did not extend both arms to greet the people. He remained still, serious and somber, I would say almost as if startled. All that was seen was a white figure who lovingly greeted the people. But he radiated peace and trust. He displayed humor, speaking without official rhetoric, as a pastor talks to the faithful. 

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Pope Francis & the Junta


Tom Quigley       Mar.18, 2013


Virtually everyone in Latin America (and North America as well) had every reason to be thrilled with the election of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, SJ, cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, to the papacy. Still, there were some who have raised questions based on their views of what Bergoglio, as Jesuit provincial, did or did not do during Argentina's guerra sucia.

. . . .

During that period, according to Emilio Mignone'sWitness to the Truth: The Complicity of Church and Dictatorship in Argentina, some sixteen priests were murdered or disappeared, nine of them in 1976 alone. And on May 23, the two Jesuits, Francisco Jalics and Orlando Yorio, residents of the Bajo Flores shantytown, were arrested. Five months later, they showed up, drugged and beaten, in a swamp, apparently deposited there from a helicopter.  


Convinced that their superior, Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, had not only not gone to bat for them but may even have facilitated their arrest, Yorio left the Jesuits and incardinated in Argentina's diocese of Viedma. He has since died. Jalics, a Hungarian, left Argentina to join his fellow Jesuits in Germany. In 2000 he and then-Cardinal Bergoglio met, celebrated Mass together, and proclaimed their reconciliation.


It is the brother and sister of the late Fr. Yorio who seem determined to revisit the question of Bergoglio's alleged complicity in the kidnappings, with [Horacio] Verbitsky as chronicler. The strongest charge is Verbitsky's curious account of what he takes to be Bergoglio's "betrayal" of his fellow Jesuits. In his book The Silence, Verbitsky writes, "Bergoglio withdrew his order's protection of the two men after they refused to quit visiting the slums, which ultimately paved the way for their capture."



"Visiting the slums" was what Bergoglio himself later became famous for as archbishop, with fellow Argentines coming to dub him their papa villero, their slum pope. The two Jesuits were doing more than just visiting-they were involved in activities that, from the Junta's point of view, were clearly subversive. Bergoglio says he warned them that they were risking arrest, if not worse, and urged them to be more prudent. According to an AP report, "Bergoglio has said he told the priests to give up their slum work for their own safety, and they refused." And they were kidnapped-or, if you prefer, extrajudicially arrested.


What now seems clear is that both men were freed after Bergoglio took measures to protect them. On one occasion he persuaded Videla's personal chaplain to call in sick so Bergoglio could say Mass in the president's home, where he pleaded for the two priests, most likely saving their lives.

It's known as well that Bergoglio regularly hid people on church property and once gave his personal ID to a man with similar features, allowing him to slip across the border.

. . . . 

Bergoglio's essential responsibility as provincial of the Jesuits, given the dramatic context of a murderous regime and bands of hardly nonviolent "subversives," was to protect his men. When some of them courted confrontation with the regime, we have every reason to believe he did what he could to rein them in. With Jalics and Yorio he tried, failed, but finally succeeded in saving them.  

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Theology Has Consequences: What Policies Will Pope Francis Champion?


Mary E. Hunt      Mar.18, 2013


Now that the smoke has cleared from St. Peter's Square, the future of the Roman Catholic Church is on the minds of many. Catholics are eternally hopeful, so the news of the papal election of an Argentine Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, a man of simple personal ways, engendered a certain enthusiasm.


My first official act in the new pontificate was to call a wise octogenarian friend in Buenos Aires, my favorite city in the world, to join in that country's pride and get an initial assessment of the man. Her reaction was what I would have expected from a Catholic in Boston if Cardinal Bernard Law had been elected. Her one word that stood out was "scary."

 . . . . 

After completing a doctoral dissertation in which I compared Latin American liberation theology and U.S. feminist theology, I spent 1980-81 as a visiting professor at ISEDET, the ecumenical Protestant seminary in Buenos Aires. I volunteered at Servicio Paz y Justicia led by Adolfo Perez Esquivel, where I got an education about social justice. The "Dirty War" was raging. Religious people were working feverishly to find thousands of people who had been "disappeared" and prevent others from suffering the same fate. Many Catholic priests perished; Jews suffered disproportionately to their numbers in the population.  

. . . .  

The controversy over then Cardinal Bergoglio's role in the kidnapping of two Jesuits during this period is instructive. As a Jesuit leader, Padre Jorge, as he liked to be known informally, opposed liberation theology and the ecclesial model of base communities that was consistent with it. In my view, he opposed the most creative, politically-useful, scripturally-sound way of thinking about how people who were made poor by the avarice of others could change their context and bring about justice.


Instead of putting the public weight of the Jesuit order behind the efforts of some of his brothers in slums and shantytowns (and the women who were involved in both theological and pastoral work from this perspective), he ordered Jesuits to stick with parish assignments. The two priests in question chose to cast their lot with the poor instead of obey the dictates of the order.

. . . .

The larger conservative theological program-which was in public opposition to the best efforts of church people to bring about justice by living out liberation theology principles-helped to create the dangerous situation in the first place. To apologize thirty years later and say the institutional church did not do enough does not bring back the disappeared. Theology has consequences. Moral do-overs are few and far between.


The hierarchical church's behavior was to Argentina what the sex abuse cases and episcopal cover-up have been for U.S. Catholics, namely the straw that broke the camel's back. I am haunted by a picture of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, mothers of the disappeared, who went to the church center where the bishops were on retreat to clamor for their help in finding their children. The picture shows a line of police between the mothers and the bishops, the mothers on one side of the fence and the bishops on the other. The institutional church in Argentina has never recovered its credibility. To the contrary, it is further eroded by similar instances of being on the wrong side of the history of justice.


The election of a doctrinally conservative pope, even one with the winning simplicity of his namesake, is especially dangerous in today's media-saturated world where image too often trumps substance. It is easy to rejoice in the lack of gross glitter that has come to characterize the institutional church while being distracted from how theological positions deepen and entrench social injustice.  

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Francis, the Jesuits and the Dirty War


Thomas Reese       Mar.17, 2013

Rumors and questions are circulating about Pope Francis and the time when he was the Jesuit provincial of Argentina and his relationship to two imprisoned Jesuits and the Argentine military dictatorship.

. . . .

Father Bergoglio, like Pope John Paul II, had serious reservations about liberation theology, which was embraced by many other Latin American Jesuits. As a North American I have trouble understanding these disputes since John Paul and Bergoglio obviously wanted justice for the poor while the liberation theologians were not in favor of violent revolution as their detractors claimed. But clearly this was an issue that divided the church in Latin America.


Part of the problem was the use of the term "Marxist analysis" by some liberation theologians, when they sought to show how the wealthy used their economic and political power to keep the masses down. The word "Marxist," of course, drove John Paul crazy. Meanwhile, the Latin American establishment labeled as Communist anyone who wanted economic justice and political power for workers. Even many decent but cautious people feared that strikes and demonstrations would lead to violence. What is "prudent" can divide people of good will.


There were also disagreements about how to respond to the military junta in Argentina. As provincial, Father Bergoglio was responsible for the safety of his men. He feared that Orlando Yorio, S.J., and Franz Jalics, S.J., were at risk and wanted to pull them out of their ministry. They, naturally, did not want to leave their work with the poor.


Yorio and Jalics were arrested when a former lay colleague, who had joined the rebels and then been arrested, gave up their names under torture as people he had worked with in the past. This was normal practice for the military. The junta did not get information from Bergoglio. Contrary to rumor, he did not throw them out of the society and therefore remove them from the protection of the Society of Jesus. They were Jesuits when they were arrested. Yorio later left the Society but Jalics is still a Jesuit today, living in a Jesuit retreat house in Germany.


The Jesuit historian Father Jeff Klaiber interviewed Juan Luis Moyano, S.J., who had also been imprisoned and deported by the military. Moyano told Klaiber that Bergoglio did go to bat for imprisoned Jesuits. There are disagreements over whether he did as much as he should have for them, but such debates always occur in these circumstances.

. . . .

Those who have not lived under a dictatorship should not be quick to judge those who have, whether the dictatorship was in ancient Rome, Latin America, Africa, Nazi Germany, Communist Eastern Europe, or today's China. We should revere martyrs, but not demand every Christian be one. 


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Two discordant 'dirty war' narratives on Pope Francis

Jason Berry       Mar.18, 2013

The news from Argentina on what Pope Francis did, or didn't do during the years of the dirty war has shadowed the early days of his papacy, prompting the Vatican to denounce reporting to that effect.


Could it be, on this one, that the Vatican may be right?


How to square the image of a cleric accused by some of assisting fascist generals - the men guilty of kidnappings, torture, abduction of newborns whose mothers were murdered - with the pope of gentle demeanor who blessed a seeing-eye dog as he charmed the media at an audience on Saturday?


At issue are Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio's years in the byzantine society of Argentina when it hit moral rock bottom.


His family carried its own nightmare of Italy's descent into political madness.

"My father escaped from Italy because of fascism," the pope's sister, Maria Elena Bergoglio, has told Paolo Mastrolilli of La Stampa / Vatican Insider in Buenos Aires. "Do you think it is possible that my brother could be an accomplice of a military dictatorship? It would have been like betraying his memory."

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Cardinal Bergoglio (Pope Francis) Clashed with New Religious Order; Cardinal Sodano Came to Its Defense
PrayTell      Mar.21, 2013

Argentine media report (here and here) that Cardinal Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, clashed with the very conservative religious order "Institute of the Incarnate Word," founded by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela in Argentina in 1984. Bergoglio was primate during the first investigation of the order. Under his leadership, the Argentinian bishops stopped the ordinations, shut down the seminary, and put restrictions on the founder Fr. Buela and other IVE priests.


Then, according to reports from Argentina, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, now dean of the College of Cardinals, helped Buela and the IVE out of their problems with the Argentinian bishops. The IVE moved its headquarters to the diocese of Velletri-Segni, which is in Italy 37 miles south of Rome.

The ancient Diocese of Velletri-Segni has 153 square miles and 44 diocesan priests, with 79 extradiocesan and religious priests in its ministry. Among the diocesan priests is American priest Fr. John Zuhlsdorf who runs the widely-read "Fr. Z's blog." Bishop Morlino of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconin recently sent a communication to his clergy that Fr. Zuhlsdorf has full faculties in Madison.
Looking to the example of Archbishop Oscar Romero
John Dear S.J.       Mar.19, 2013

Like many, I'm hopeful about the new Jesuit pope from Latin America who takes the name Francis, but I'm concerned about reports of his silence during Argentina's "Dirty War." I grieve, too, as we mark the 10th anniversary of the evil U.S. war on Iraq, to recall that few U.S. priests and bishops spoke out against our wasteful war. I think we need church leaders who speak out prophetically against war, poverty, nuclear weapons and the destruction of the environment and point us to God's reign of justice, disarmament and nonviolence. We all need to do that.


Shortly before he was killed, 33 years ago this week, Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador said, "If one day, they took our radio station away from us, closed the newspaper or didn't let us speak; if they killed off all of our priests and the bishop too, then each one of you would have to be a microphone for God. Each one of you would have to be a messenger, a prophet." I think the time has come for each one of us to lend our voice so that together we can be a prophetic people for peace and nonviolence. We all have to become microphones for the God of peace and nonviolence.

. . . . 

In these days of rapid change, I look to the example of Archbishop Romero and hope for a new "Catholic Spring" where we might all rise to the occasion, take the risks history demands of us, become microphones for the God of peace and point the way toward God's reign of justice, disarmament and nonviolence.  

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More articles on Pope Francis




1st impression




Other things we have been reading 



German Cardinal Lehmann Criticizes Pope Benedict on Vatileaks

PrayTell Editor       Mar.16, 2013


Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, Germany expressed criticism of retired Pope Benedict XVI in an interview with FOCUS. It displeases him that Benedict himself didn't say all he knew about the Vatileaks affair when questioned by the cardinals.


Cardinal Lehmann expects of the new Pope Francis that he bring in those Catholics who in past years "perhaps were disappointed" and must be newly won over. In the interview, Lehmann clearly distanced himself from retired Pope Benedict XVI.


For the cardinals in conclave, a clarification of the Vatileaks affair took place only "partially." Benedict ultimately kept back the secret dossier on the affair for his successor to read. In the conclave, one of the cardinals who produced the dossier "pretty much only read out the communiqué from December that we all knew."


Cardinal Lehmann said to FOCUS, "One had the impression here that we pose questions but no one answers them." Asked if the secret report should be made public, the cardinal answered, "It must be dealt with." Francis will perhaps have to consider seriously whether he wishes to change course of action of his predecessor, for it "could also be misinterpreted."




QC Calls For Former Pope's Indictment

 Lawfuel editors       Mar.20, 2013

Geoffrey Robertson QC, the high profile Australian barrister is leading calls for the Vatican to lose its status as a state and to have the former Pope Benedict XVI to be indicted for his alleged cover up of child sex abuse by the Catholic Church.


The calls came at the screening of a documentary in which Robertson appeared when he gave evidence before the UN Committee on Rights of the Child.


The documentary, Silence in the House of God: Mea Maxima Culpa, was screened at the same time as the new Pope was being elected.

Lawyer's Weekly:


He argued that the former pope acted negligently in what Robertson estimates to be 100,000 cases of sex abuse by priests since 1981, when Ratzinger became head of the Vatican office known as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.


"You can see the negligence that has characterised Benedict's reign ... he was burying his head in the sand when the evidence of child molestation came about," he said.


"The scale of abuse is international and this is a real human rights' problem and no one is seeing it in that way."


Robertson also criticised Canon Law for protecting perpetrators by directing that allegations of child molestation be investigated in secrecy, and described as "bogus" the recognition of the Vatican as a state, which gives the pope sovereign immunity from civil suits or criminal prosecution.

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Was the Collapse of this Theology the Main Reason for the Resignation of Benedict XVI?
Leonardo Boff       Mar.18, 2013

Leonardo BoffIt is always risky to choose a theologian to be pope. He can turn his particular theology into the universal theology of the Church and impose it on the whole world. I suspect this has been the case with Benedict XVI, first as a Cardinal, appointed Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, (ex-Inquisition), and later, chosen as Pope. This was not legitimate and became the source of unjust condemnations. In effect, he condemned more than one hundred men and women theologians, for not being in tune with his theological reading of the Church and of the world.

Reasons of health and feelings of impotence in the face of the gravity of the crisis in the Church led him to resign. But not only that. The text of his resignation speaks of the "diminution of vigor of the body and of the spirit" and of "his incapacity" to confront the questions that made the exercise of his mission difficult. Behind these words, I believe there hides the more profound reason for his resignation: the awareness of the collapse of his theology and of the failure of the model of Church he wanted to implement. An absolutist monarchy is not so absolute that it can overcome the inertia of the aged curial structures.

 The central theses of his theology were always problematic for the theological community. Three of them ended up being rebutted by the facts: the concept of the Church as a «small reconciled world»; that the City of Men only acquires value before God by going through the mediation of the City of God, and the famous «subsistit» that means: only in the Catholic Church does the true Church of Christ subsist, no other Churches can be called Churches. This narrow conception comes from a sharp intelligence that is hostage to itself, not having sufficient intrinsic strength or the necessary following to be implemented. Did Benedict recognize this collapse and coherently resign?
Major sex abuse uncovered in Joliet, Ill., diocese
Robert McClory    Mar.21, 2013
Sex abuse was back on the front page of the Chicago Tribune on Thursday with the release of approximately 7,000 documents detailing the extent of the problem in the diocese of Joliet, Ill., which covers suburban and collar counties of Chicago. The documents state that between 1973 and 1988, more than 10 percent of the diocese's priests were credibly charged with abuse. The highest rates, ranging from 11.4 percent to 13.2 percent, occurred in the early and middle 1980s.


Release of the material was due largely to the determination of a boy (now 38) who was sexually abused when making his first confession at the age of 8 in his home parish in Mokena, Ill. His lawyer, Terrence Johnson, said getting the records "was the worst, most abusive process of discovery I've ever seen."


Informed by the Tribune that a report was in preparation, Joseph Imesch, Joliet bishop from 1979 to 2006, said, "Sure. Sex and the priests, let's blast it all over the place. Never let it go."


Read the Tribune story here.
Cardinal was in physical relationship with accuser
Gerry Braiden       Mar.21, 2013

Cardinal Keith O'Brien had a long-standing physical relationship with one of the men whose complaints about his behaviour sparked his downfall as leader of the Catholic Church in Scotland.

The man left the priesthood in the middle of the last decade but rejoined and is living on the continent in a post the cardinal helped him secure.


The complainant is known to have been in regular telephone contact with Cardinal O'Brien until recently and was a frequent visitor to St Benets, his official residence in Edinburgh's Morningside.

It is understood the cardinal confessed to the relationship after it was recently revealed there had been several complaints to the Vatican about his sexual behaviour towards priests in the 1980s. It is thought to be part of his reference to his sexual conduct as "a priest, a bishop and a cardinal".

It also emerged the dramatic downfall of Britain's leading Catholic cleric was spurred by gay priests angry at his rhetoric and hypocrisy about same-sex marriages.


All those who complained about Cardinal O'Brien and alleged they had been abused by him were known to him for decades. At least two are known to have been in same-sex relationships and had become exasperated at double standards in his statements about gay marriage.

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Trust in Scots clerics and church teaching broken, says bishop

Tablet       Mar.20, 2013

Trust in the Church in Scotland has been "broken", the Bishop of Aberdeen has warned.

Bishop Hugh Gilbert used his statement welcoming the election of Pope Francis to highlight the "feeling of distress" within the Church.

"At the heart of it is a sense of things being broken," he said, "things like personal integrity, trust in our bishops and priests, the credibility of our faith and teaching."

Bishop Gilbert said "all of these things have seemed to collapse," and that behind people's sadness or anger "there is a great cry inside us for them to be given back to us. A cry for a new purity and honesty, for the Gospel, for Christ." 
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As Irish Flee the Church, a Push For Reform
Diane Winston      Mar.18, 2013

Recent surveys show Catholics in the Republic of Ireland are deserting their faith faster than believers in almost any other nation worldwide. According to Irish and Vatican analysts, the current crisis was precipitated by revelations of widespread clergy sexual abuse but also fueled by the post-1960s spread of secular values, upending forty-plus years of a postcolonial, faith-based society.  . . . .

Statistics are one way to tell the story: In 1984, 87% of Irish Catholics went to weekly Mass. In 2011, Archbishop Diarmuid Martin said 18% of Dublin Church members attend services.

. . . .

Three days of talking with Church leaders help put numbers and pictures in perspective. But their insights on the Church's problems make the new pope's task sound all the more difficult. Many of the Irish Church's fiercest critics are also its most devoted sons and daughters, who came of age when the social teachings of the Second Vatican Council provided a religious foundation for post-'60s currents of cultural change.

. . . .

Neither the Association of Irish Priests (ACP) nor We Are Church, local organizations that, respectively, represent the Irish clergy and laity, are willing to accept the status quo. The abuse crisis provided an opening for their critiques of Church structure and hierarchy, but the present troubles, they say, are symptomatic of the hierarchy's lack of transparency and accountability. 

Fr. Sean McDonagh, co-convener of the 1,000-member ACP, wants to see women ordained and priests allowed to marry. But he also wants a more representative, even democratic, Church that is more concerned with issues of poverty and the environment than with policing sexuality.

'What Jesus says about sexuality is miniscule next to what he says about power, money and position," said the Columban priest, who has written extensively about imminent ecological crises. 

McDonagh's archbishop, Diarmuid Martin, is one of the few heroes in the Irish sex abuse scandal. In 2009, Martin opened the diocesan files, enabling victims to seek justice for clerical crimes.  . . . .  Yet his overall interest in reform comes nowhere near McDonagh's or that of Brendan Butler, co-leader of We Are Church.

"The Archbishop is very good on child abuse but he's critical of groups like ours," Butler said. "He says we should looking for individual conversions, not for changing structures."

. . . .

Reformers like Butler and McDonagh say the Church's chief problem, its irrelevancy to the everyday life of the people, would be solved by addressing vexing issues of economic justice, climate change, and social inequality.

And, by recognizing the right of women and married men to ordination, the looming shortage of priests would be averted. Yet these kinds of substantive changes would require the Pope and the Curia to cede their power and undo more than ten centuries of authoritarian rule. For those who say the outcome would look a lot like Protestantism, Butler and McDonagh would disagree. They have no desire to become Anglicans or Methodists; Catholicism is their birthright, and its teachings their lodestar.
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American nuns struggle with Vatican for change
60 Minutes       Mar.17, 2013

When Pope Francis became the leader of the Catholic Church on Wednesday, people around the world were asking: what happens now? Can he restore confidence to a church struggling amid scandal to keeps its flock?


To understand just how troubled the church he's inheriting is, look no further than the power struggle going on between the Vatican and some of its most popular disciples: American nuns.

The Vatican launched what some Catholics call a "new Inquisition" when it accused the official group that represents most nuns in the United States of undermining the Church.


The crackdown last year on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious has sparked outrage -- creating yet another rift between those who want the Church to reform, and those who do not.

The new pope of the Roman Catholic Church took his name from Francis of Assisi, the humble saint who inspired orders of priests and nuns devoted to the poor.


And when he stood on that balcony in Rome, few could have been watching him more carefully than the nuns there in St. Peter's Square and in the United States.


In his native Argentina, he showed compassion to the people but also urged Catholic sisters there to promote conservative social values -- very much like what the Vatican has been doing in the United States. That's drawn a lot of attention to sisters like Pat Farrell, who leads the group that represents 80 percent of American nuns.

Read the script

Watch the segment



Bishops remind Congress that poor must be first in budget priorities
Dennis Sadowski   Mar.20, 2013

The needs of poor and vulnerable Americans must remain at the top of the country's spending priorities as Congress debates the federal budget in the coming weeks, the chairmen of two U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops committees said.


Holding firm to earlier stances, Bishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, Calif., chairman of the Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, and Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines, Iowa, chairman of the Committee on International Justice and Peace, told members of Congress in a March 18 letter that budget expenditures reflect the priorities of a nation.

"As Catholic pastors, we continue to emphasize that these choices are economic, political and moral," the bishops said.


"While we lack the competence to offer a detailed critique of entire budget proposals, we do ask you to consider the human and moral dimensions of these choices," they said.


Uganda's critical dossier author priest suspended
Daily Monitor       Mar.20, 2013
Uganda priest & archbishop

The Archbishop of Kampala, Dr Cyprian Kizito Lwanga, has suspended maverick cleric Fr Anthony Musaala, who authored a document criticising Catholic Church colleagues for sexual crimes among others.


Dr Lwanga, in a statement on Tuesday, said Fr Musaala had been suspended for the document, which "damages the good morals of the Catholic believers and faults the church's teaching".

According to Dr Lwanga, Fr Musaala admitted to authoring the document, which has been widely circulating on the internet.


"As per now, after the acceptance of Fr Musaala that he authored this document, the law prescribed by the Church in Can. 1369 takes its course. This law states that: "A person is to be punished with a just penalty, who, at a public event or assembly, or in a published writing, or by otherwise using the means of social communication, utters blasphemy, or gravely harms public morals, or rails at or excites hatred of or contempt for religion or the Church," said the Archbishop.

"This means therefore, that Fr Musaala, because of the publication of his article in the public media, which damages good morals of Catholic believers and further expresses a wrong teaching against the Catholic Church's teaching and that this stirs up hatred and contempt against the Church, he incurs a Ferendae sententiae penalty as prescribed by Can.1314, Dr Lwanga said in the statement. 

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Fr Musaala's article




New Translation of the Roman Missal  


Collect Following the Isaiah 54 Reading 

at the Easter Vigil


Almighty and eternal God, glorify your name by increasing your chosen people as you promised long ago. In reward for their trust, may we see in the Church the fulfillment of your promise. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen. 

Almighty and eternal God, for the glory of your name fulfill the promise you made long ago to men and women of faith, to bless them with descendants for ever. Increase your adopted children throughout the world, that your Church may see accomplished the salvation which those saints of old so firmly expected. We ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Almighty, ever-living God, surpass for the honor of your name what you pledged to the patriarchs by reason of their faith and through sacred adoption increase the children of your promise so that what the saints of old never doubted would come to pass your Church may now see in great part fulfilled. Through our Lord Jesus Christ your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever.


Upcoming Event   

June 24-27, 2013  Seattle,WA 
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