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The Nativity: a True Christian Myth 

 Leonardo Boff       Jan.1, 2013


A few weeks ago, with pomp and circumstance, the present pope showed himself again as a theologian by publishing a book about the infancy of Jesus. He offers there the classic and traditional version that sees in those idyllic stories a historic narrative.   The book was a surprise to theologians, because, for about 50 years, the biblical exegesis on these texts show that they are not historical, but a high and refined theology elaborated by the gospel writers Matthew and Luke (Mark and John do not say anything about Jesus's infancy), in order to prove that Jesus really was the Messiah, the son of David and the Son of God.


To this end, they resorted to iterary genres, that sound like history but in reality are literary devices, such as, for example, the Magi from the East (who represent the pagans), the   shepherd (the most poor, considered to be sinners for dealing with animals), the Star and the angels (to show the divine character of Jesus), Bethlehem,   not as a geographic reference, but to have a theological meaning, the place whence the Messiah would come, different from Nazareth, totally unknown, where Jesus probably was actually born. And similarly, other topics, as I analyze in detail in my book, Jesus   Christ the Liberator, (Jesucristo el Liberador), chapter VIII.


With these moving stories of the Nativity we see a grandiose myth, understood positively, as anthropologists do: the myth that transmits a profound truth that only the mythic, figurative and symbolic language can adequately express. That is what the myth does. A myth is true when the meaning it transmits is true and illuminates the whole   community. Thus, the Nativity of Jesus is a Christian myth, filled with truth.

. . . . 

We now use other myths to show the relevance of Jesus. To me there is great significance in an old myth the Church used in the liturgy of the Nativity to reveal the cosmic commotion caused by the birth of Christ.


It is said there:

«A profound silence fell at midnight. Then, the talkative leaves went silent, as if dead. The whispering wind stayed quiet in the air. The rooster that was crowing stopped in the middle of his song. Then, the running waters of the creek were paralyzed. The sheep that grazed turned immobile. The shepherd who raised his staff became petrified. In that moment everything stopped, everything was suspended, all was silence: Jesus, the savior of humanity and of the universe, was being born».


The Nativity tries to communicate to us that God is not a severe figure, with penetrating eyes to scrutinize our lives. God appears as a child. Not judgmental, but wanting only to be loved and to play.


And as it happens, from the Manger came a voice that whispered to me:

«Oh, human creature, why are you so afraid of God? Don't you see that His mother wrapped His fragile little   body? Don't you see that He threatens no one? That He condemns no-one? Don't you hear how He softly cries? More than to help, He needs to be helped and showered with love. Don't you know that He is God-with-us like us?» And we no longer think, we open the way to the heart that feels, that is compassionate   and loves. What else could we do before a Child who we know is God become human?


Perhaps no one has written of the Nativity better than the Portuguese writer Fernando Pessoa, who says: «He is the eternal child, the God who was missing. He is the divine one who laughs and plays. He is a child so human that He is divine».

. . . . 

In this holiday, lets try to see with the eyes of the heart. All of us have been educated to see with the eyes of reason, that's why we are cold. Today we will recover the rights of the heart: we will let ourselves be moved by our children, let them dream and be filled with tender affection before the Divine Child who felt pleasure and happiness when He said He was one of us.








Some things we have been reading  


Doing Moral Theology with Les Miserables

Berh Haile      Jan.1, 2013


You could teach a whole semester-long class on moral theology through the lens of Les Miserables, Victor Hugo's epic examination   of "the miserable"-the downtrodden and forgotten part of society.   The novel turned musical turned recent film starring Hugh Jackman, Russell   Crowe, Anne Hathaway, and a whole host of other stars is a marvelous study in   social justice, beginning with Jean Valjean in prison serving an unjust sentence for a crime committed more against him than by him and ending with the idealistic students dying at the barricade as martyrs for a better world   during the French Revolution. But the story's characters also highlights   certain key approaches to ethics, effectively carving out a typology of   ethical theories. 

  • First, there are the egoists, represented by the Thenardier couple. They have no values outside of self-interest; they have no God besides profit.   . . . .
  • Then there is Javert, the chief of police who chases Valjean through Paris and through the years after Valjean breaks his parole to become a new man. Javert is a deontologist, committed to rules and duties. For him, the good and the true is found in the law, not only the law of France but also the law of God reflected in the order of the universe.   . . . .
  • Then there are the various consequentialists. The best song illustrating consequentialism is the factory ladies singing "At the End of the Day" as they urge the foreman to turn Fantine out on the street.   . . . .
  • Which brings us to Valjean. He is a study in virtue ethics. "Who am I?" is the question that guides his moral choices.   . . . .  

In the end, Valjean is a man, "no worse than any other man," as he explains to Javert. The critical difference between the two is that Valjean is willing to live out a life of mercy. He is willing to both give and receive it while Javert can do neither. When Valjean offers Javert mercy, saving his life at   the barricade, Javert is tormented. His system is broken, his god dead. As   his world comes crashing down, he plunges into the Seine. Valjean, on the other hand, looking up with shame into the eyes of the bishop whom he just stole from, chooses to accept mercy, and then give it in return-to Fantine, to Cosette, to Marius, and even to his enemy. 


Victor Hugo apparently had a strained relationship to the faith but the story has a very Christian message: "To love another person is to see the face of God." As human beings, we are made for mercy. It is in mercy that we live; it is in judgment that we die. Jesus tells his disciples in the gospel   of John, "I have come that you might have life, and have it more abundantly." Jesus comes in mercy to lead us to life because we are incapable of finding it on our own, as Javert shows us. Jesus in turn asks us   to lead others to that life by loving our neighbor, by showing them mercy, by   forgiving them as we wish to be forgiven. In living a life of love and mercy, whatever our circumstances, whatever our class, whatever our faults, we come to know God, and we come to see God in this world, this broken and fallen and oftentimes all-too-miserable world he came to redeem. 

Read more


Theologian Hans Küng condemns pope's   modern 'Inquisition'

Jason Berry       Dec.18, 2012


Fifty years   ago in this medieval city with its steep hills and the sprawling campus of   one of Germany's great universities, Hans Küng and Joseph Ratzinger were   priests and theology department colleagues.


Emerging out   of the University of Tübingen, Küng and Ratzinger were the youngest and most   influential progressives to advise bishops in Rome at The Second   Ecumenical Council, or Vatican II, which began in the fall of 1962.

. . . .

Back in   Tübingen, Küng, a native of Switzerland, and Ratzinger, who had grown up in   the Nazi darkness of his native Germany, soon found themselves at odds over   the sweeping changes in the church, and a theological debate that would echo   across Europe and the global church.


Now on the   50th anniversary of Vatican II, Küng, an internationally renowned scholar,   and Ratzinger, known as Benedict XVI since his election as pope seven years   ago, are even more at odds. Of the many issues that divide them, Küng sees   the attempt to rein in the Leadership Conference of Women Religious as a sign   of myopia, a failure of vision.


"You   cannot deny that Joseph Ratzinger has faith," says Küng, in a coat and   tie, seated in his office, speaking in calm tones in the blue   twilight. "But he is absolutely against freedom. He wants   obedience."


"He is   against the paradigm of Vatican II." Küng pauses. "He has a   medieval idea of the papacy."

. . .   . 

"Many   sisters are better educated and more courageous than a lot of the male   clergy," he says matter-of-factly. The Roman Curia "will try to   condemn them."

. . . .
  As CDF proceedings targeted more church scholars, notably Charles Curran of   America and Leonardo Boff, theBrazilian scholar of Liberation Theology,   Küng likened Ratzinger to the Grand Inquisitor, in Dostoyevski's "The   Brothers Karamazov" - the sinister monk who tells Jesus the masses must   be subdued by superstition for religion to maintain its power. 

. . . .     

In   the French edition of his new book (forthcoming in English as   "Can the Catholic Church   Be Saved?"), Küng expands on the analogy between a church   that once put heretics on trial and injustice at the CDF under Ratzinger, as   cardinal and now as pope.


"The   Roman Inquisition continues to exist," he writes, "with methods of   psychological torture and the use in our day of many enforcement   manuals."

Read   more


Swiss abbot makes fiery appeal for church   reform

Christa   Pongratz-Lippitt     Dec.20, 2012


A fiery   appeal for church reform by an influential Swiss abbot has attracted   widespread attention throughout Europe, and has, moreover, been welcomed by   the future president of the Swiss bishops' conference.
  Fifty-year-old Abbot Martin Werlen, leader of the Abbey of Einsiedeln and   himself a member of the Swiss bishops' conference, first voiced his appeal in   a sermon on the 50th anniversary of the beginning of the Second Vatican   Council in October. The sermon was later published in a 39-page brochure that   sold out within three days and is now in its third edition.
  Titled "Discovering the   Embers Under the Ashes," it echoes remarks by Cardinal Carlo   Maria Martini in his last interview before his death Aug. 31. Referring to   the state of the church today, Martini spoke of his sense of powerlessness   and how Catholicism's "embers" were "hidden under the   ashes."
  . . . .
  Werlen wrote that he deplores the lack of courage, vision and creativity in   today's church, which he says is crawling along "with the hand brake on."
  "The problems are known. Pope Benedict on occasion refers to them. But   nothing concrete is done to solve them," Werlen said.
  Sweeping problems under the table or forbidding discussion of certain issues   undermines the church's credibility, he warned.

. . . .

But   polarization between conservatives and progressives in the church, which he   said has now reached a "frightening" level, has a deadening effect,   he cautioned.
  "I myself together with the Einsiedeln community would like to take   another path, namely that of seeking the embers in the ashes," he said.   He pointed out that Einsiedeln is in dialogue with both the Lefebvrist   Society of St. Pius X and the progressive Catholic theologian Fr. Hans   Küng. 

Read   more


Shine a light on church sexual abuse

L.A. Times   Editorial    Dec.28, 2013


When   hundreds of victims of sexual abuse agreed in 2007 to settle their   claims against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles for $660   million, they did so with the understanding that confidential church files   that contained the full story of what officials knew, and when they knew it,   would become public.


That   agreement, however, is at risk of being undermined. A court-appointed referee   has ruled that the names of church leaders who are not accused of abusing   children should be redacted from the files before those documents are   publicly released early next year. Why? The referee argues that including the   names of such high-ranking clerics, including Cardinal Roger M. Mahony,   would only cause further embarrassment to an institution that has already   enacted reforms to prevent future abuses.


Fortunately,   the referee's ruling is not final. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Emilie H.   Elias has the last word in the matter. Next month she will hear   objections to the referee's redactions and decide whether the names of   vicars, bishops and other priests who handled reports of abuse should be   released or be blacked out. 
  . . . . 

We urge Elias to release the files without   redactions. The church's right to privacy cannot trump the public's right to   know. 

Read   more


Catholic stand for peacemaking wanting,   some say

NCR Staff      Jan.3,2013


Are   Catholics too timid to form a united front against the pandemic of violence   that wracks the nation?

  Activists and pastors who work with street violence or teach peacemaking and   nonviolence fear the answer to that question is yes. They say the best   response to the tragedy of Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.,   where on Dec. 14 Adam Lanza, 20, shot and killed 20 first-graders, six   teachers, his mother and himself, is a re-commitment to Gospel nonviolence   and a grassroots-up movement to change our culture.
  "Pro-life Christians who are a major political force in this country   should be leading" a movement for saner gun control laws, says John   Gehring, Catholic program director for the advocacy group Faith in Public   Life.

. . . .

A week after   the shootings in Newtown, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a   statement decrying violence in society and reasserting their 2000 statement ["Responsibility,   Rehabilitation, and Restoration: A Catholic Perspective on Crime and Criminal   Justice"]. They called for greater support for mental health services   and for the entertainment industry to re-examine its glorification of   violence and how it preys "on the insecurities and immaturity of our   young people."
  Many in the Catholic community want the bishops to move beyond words.

. . . .

Bishop   Thomas Gumbleton, former president of Pax Christi USA and retired auxiliary   bishop of Detroit, told NCR that twice in two years he has called   the bishops' conference offices to order copies of the peace pastoral, only   to be told they were out of print and no copies are available.
  "That's one of our most important documents, recognized as such not only   within the church but outside the church, and yet we're not using it,"   Gumbleton said. "It certainly would help if [the bishops' conference]   would begin to put emphasis on this again." 

. . . .

While   Gumbleton, who was a pastor of an inner-city Detroit parish from 1983 to   2007, believes strict gun control laws will help stem the killing, that is   not enough. "We have to go deeper, because our culture is a culture of   violence, from the violence of abortion to the violence of nuclear war."
  "We just believe violence is the way you solve your problems. And that   seems to be the underlying spirit in the U.S.," he said. "Jesus   came to counteract that kind of culture, and we need his teachings more now   than we ever have." 

Read   more


Jesuit priest: Address actual issues in   wake of Newtown shooting

Porsia Tunzi       Jan.3, 2013


Jesuit Fr.   Greg Boyle cautions against looking at the tragedy of the Sandy Hook School   from too distant a perspective.
  . . . .

"When   we take our views lower, we know we need to address guns and we need to   address mental illness."
  Boyle is the founder of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang intervention,   rehabilitation and re-entry program in the U.S.
  "The elephant in the room is mental health, which is something I see   more and more with the gang population with whom I work," Boyle said.
  The nation's mental health care system is in desperate need of   rehabilitation, he said. Because of national, state and local government   budget cuts made in recent years, today's health care system is essentially   the same as it was in 1850, Boyle said. He fears even more cuts are coming.
  He says mental health facilities have one bed for every 7,000 patients. As a   result the nation's prisons, skid rows and homeless shelters are filled with   the mentally ill.  

Read   more


Pope pardons butler but expels him from   Vatican

AFP       Dec.22, 2012


Pope Benedict XVI pardoned his former   butler Paolo Gabriele, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing   secret papal memos, but banished the once loyal servant from the Vatican   forever.


"This   morning the Holy Father Benedict XVI visited Paolo Gabriele in prison in   order to confirm his forgiveness and to inform him personally of his   acceptance of Mr Gabriele's request for pardon," the Vatican said in a   statement.


The pardon   for Gabriele, who was convicted and sentenced in October by a Vatican court   for leaking secret papal documents to the press, was a "paternal   gesture" for a man "with whom the pope shared a relationship of   daily familiarity for many years".


However, the   ex-butler "cannot resume his previous occupation or continue to live in   Vatican City," it added.

Read   more


In rare article, Pope asks Christians to   reassess priorities at Christmas

Estefania   Aguirre     Dec.20, 2012


The Dec. 20   edition of the Financial   Times featured a rare article by Pope Benedict XVI in which he   advises Christians to use Christmas as a time to "reassess   priorities" and reflect on how to live out their faith with eternity in   mind.


"While   Christmas is undoubtedly a time of great joy, it is also an occasion for deep   reflection, even an examination of conscience," he says in the article.


"At the   end of a year that has meant economic hardship for many, what can we learn   from the humility, the poverty, the simplicity of the crib scene?" he   asks readers.


Seeing an   article in a newspaper by the Pope is a very unusual occurrence

Read   more


Vatican joins push to stop Sunday shopping

Allessandro   Speciale     Dec.19, 2012


The Roman   Catholic Church, trade unions and small-business associations have joined   forces in a bid to save Sundays.


In a bid to   spur economic growth, outgoing Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti backed a   new law that allows shops to stay open on the Sabbath.

. . . . 

The issue   extends beyond Italy. In Brussels, dozens of religious groups - including the   Catholic Church - unions and business associations from 27 countries have   formed the "European Sunday Alliance" to lobby the European Union   to keep Sunday as a continentwide day of rest, at least in principle. 

Read   more


First Member of Congress Describes   Religion as 'None'

Elizabeth Flock       Jan.3, 2012


When the   113th Congress is sworn in today, its new members will include the first   Hindu member of Congress and the first Buddhist to serve as senator. Also for   the first time, Congress will welcome a member who describes her religion as   "none."


Democratic   Arizona Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, who was raised a Mormon, is religiously   unaffiliated but does not describe herself as an atheist. 

. . . . 

Although   Sinema is the first member of Congress to declare her religious affiliation   as "none," a Pew   Forum on Religious and Public Life analysis out Thursday   notes that 10 other members of the new Congress declined to provide any   indication of religious leanings. That means that about 2 percent of the   113th Congress hasn't declared a religious affiliation, up from about 1   percent in the prior Congress. 

Read   more


113th Congress




Pope Benedict denounces gay marriage   during his annual Christmas message 

Carol Kuruvilla     Dec.22, 2012


Pope   Benedict used his annual Christmas message to denounce gay marriage,   saying that it destroyed the "essence of the human creature."


In one of   his most important speeches of the year, the Pope stressed that a person's   gender identity is God-given and unchangeable. As a result, he sees gay   marriage as a "manipulation of nature."

. . . .

In response,   LGBT activists staged a protest at St. Peter's Square. Equally Blessed,   a coalition of Catholic organizations in the U.S. that supports gay   marriage, repudiated the Pope's claims. In a joint press release, the groups   said that Benedict's "rigid and outmoded" view of gender identity   contrasted sharply with the reality they were witnessing in America -   same-sex couples creating happy homes for their kids and transgender people   living "healthy, mature, and generous lives." 

Read   more


Vatican to Catholic charities: Toe the   line or lose 'Catholic'

Seattle PI      Dec.22, 2012


The Vatican   has used the Christmas season to issue new rules to Catholic charities across   the globe, insisting that all who are permitted to use the word   "Catholic" in their titles be in full conformity with church   teachings.

. . .   . 

The new   Vatican rules contain several components:

  • A charitable organization is permitted to call        itself "Catholic" only with written consent of the church        hierarchy.    . . . .
  • The staff and workers at a Catholic charity must        "share, or at least respect" teachings of the Catholic Church.         . . . .
  •  Catholic charity is not allowed to take        money "from groups or institutions that pursue ends contrary to the        church's teachings."
  • So as to prevent people from an "erroneous        misunderstanding," bishops will insure that parishes and dioceses        do not publicize initiatives that, while presenting themselves as        charitable, propose choices or methods at odds with the Catholic        Church's teachings.  

 Read   more


Pope names Boston priest as new sex crimes   prosecutor

Associated   Press     Dec.22, 2013


The pope has   named a priest from the archdiocese of Boston, ground zero in the U.S.   clerical sex abuse scandal, as his new sex crimes prosecutor.


The Vatican   said Saturday that the Rev. Robert W. Oliver, a canonical expert in the   archdiocese, replaces Bishop Charles Scicluna, who was recently named   auxiliary bishop in his native Malta.


Scicluna's   departure had sparked some fears among sex abuse victims that the Vatican   might roll back on the tough line on clergy abuse he charted in his 10 years   at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith. 

Read   more


Vatican's New Sex Abuse Prosecutor Gets No   Confidence Vote

Joe   Saunders     Dec.23, 2012


Yesterday,   Pope Benedict XVI appointed Rev. Robert W. Oliver, a Boston canon lawyer, to   be the "Promoter of Justice" at the Congregation for the Doctrine   of the Faith (CDF) in Rome. A major portion of the job of the Promoter of   Justice is the supervision of the Church's internal investigation and   prosecution of Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children.


After the   Pope's announcement, Rev. Oliver got a no confidence vote from one of   Boston's leading child protection advocates. Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director   of Bishop Accountability, commented to the New York Times that: "Rev   Oliver is a champion of accused priests, which obviously does not bode well   for the job he will do as the promoter of justice."

Read   more


Dawkins refers to own experience of sexual   abuse by priest, still insists teaching hell to children is worse

Stoyan   Zaimov   Jan.2, 2013


"It was   a very unpleasant and embarrassing experience, but the mental trauma was soon   exorcised by comparing notes with my contemporaries who had suffered it   previously at the hands of the same master," Dawkins writes on his   official website. "Thank goodness, I have never personally experienced   what it is like to believe - really and truly and deeply believe ­- in hell.   But I think it can be plausibly argued that such a deeply held belief might   cause a child more long-lasting mental trauma than the temporary   embarrassment of mild physical abuse." 

Read   more


Priest offers remorse, but judge says it's   not enough

Joe   Mandak   Jan.3, 2013


 A suspended Catholic priest expressed remorse to everyone but the   young boys depicted in pornography Wednesday before he was sentenced to more   than eight years in prison for collecting more than 5,000 images of child   porn on his computer, in books and on compact discs.


The sentence   that the Rev. Bartley Sorensen, 63, received was more than the five-year   mandatory minimum sentence he sought but less than the 10-year maximum he   faced.


"I   served the diocese for 35 years. Along the way I betrayed that priesthood, I   betrayed the bishop and the other priests in the diocese," Sorensen told   the judge who sentenced him before also apologizing for shaming his friends,   family members, and former parishioners.

But Senior   U.S. District Judge Alan Bloch addressed those who did not get an apology   when he rejected the priest's request for leniency and said, "Viewing   child pornography is not a victimless crime."

Read   more


Church had duty to flag allegations:   lawyers

Staff, Canadian   Press     Jan.3, 2013


A Roman   Catholic diocese in New Brunswick should have notified police immediately   when it heard last year that two priests were alleged to have sexually abused   children, say two lawyers who have represented victims of abuse by clergymen.
  Robert Talach and John McKiggan say the Archdiocese of Moncton had a   responsibility to refer the matter to the RCMP once it became aware of the   accusations.
  "You name me any other institution, school board, a daycare, or a boys'   home that would not immediately react with disgust and outrage and drag the   information down to the police station before the end of that same day,"   Talach said Thursday from his London, Ont., office.
  But a spokesman for the archdiocese said it is up to the alleged sex abuse   victims to report their allegations to the police.
  Read   more


Agenda for a year of faith: looking ahead   at Pope Benedict's 2013

Francis X.   Rocca     Dec.29, 2012


Pope   Benedict XVI's calendar for 2013 is already filling up with planned, probable   or possible events. Here are 10 to watch for in the news during the coming   year.

  • Italian elections:  . . . .   For the pope and other Italian        bishops, a prime concern will be whether voters elect a center-left        majority that could bring Italy into sync with other major Western        European countries -- and out of line with Catholic moral teaching -- on        such issues as in vitro fertilization and legally recognized unions of        same-sex partners.
  • New Encyclical: . . . .   Treating the subject of faith, the        encyclical will complete a trilogy on the three "theological        virtues"; the previous installments were "Deus Caritas        Est" (2005) on charity and "Spe Salvi" (2007) on hope.  
  • Worldwide solemn eucharistic adoration:  On the feast of Corpus Christi, June 2, Pope        Benedict will lead an hour of eucharistic adoration to be observed        simultaneously around the world  . . . .
  • New charter for health care workers:  . . . .  The document, whose target release date is        in June, will reflect Catholic moral teaching on biomedical issues and        Catholic social teaching on the equitable and effective provision of        health care.
  • World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro: Hundreds of thousands of young Catholics are expected to        gather in Rio in July for a week of events whose highlight will be the        presence of the pope . . . . 
  • New U.S. ambassador? The post of U.S. ambassador to the Vatican has been vacant        since Miguel Diaz stepped down shortly after the November elections, and        the choice of his replacement will be especially delicate given current        tensions between the church and the Obama administration.  . . . .
  • New Secretary of State?  . . . .   Pope Benedict reaffirmed his        confidence in his longtime collaborator [Cardinal Tarcisio        Bertone] last July, but the cardinal is already three years past        the standard retirement age of 75, so he could well leave the stage this        year.   . . . .
  • New archbishop of Chicago? Cardinal Francis George, who has led the Archdiocese of        Chicago since 1997, turned 75 -- the age at which bishops must offer to        resign -- last Jan. 16. 
  • New cardinals? The number of cardinals under the age of 80, the only ones        eligible to vote for the next pope, will be down to no more than 110 by        Oct. 19. Pope Benedict could choose to boost their number to the legal        limit of 120 by calling a consistory on the day before the feast of        Christ the King (Nov. 24), a traditional occasion for the creation of        cardinals and the last day of the Year of Faith.  . . . .
  • Anniversary of the Edict of Milan: 2013 is the 1,700th anniversary of the Roman Empire's        legal toleration of Christianity, a watershed moment in the history of        the church.  

Read   more


Vatican Official Allegedly Spits in Face   of Protestor John Wojnowski

Ariel   Sabar     Dec.19, 2012


Last week   marked a milestone of sorts for John Wojnowski, the longtime protestor   outside the Vatican's US embassy, who was the subject of a lengthy   profile in the July issue of The Washingtonian. For the first time in his   life, he complained to law enforcement about the conduct of a priest. Not the   village rector in northern Italy who he says molested him in the summer of   1958, when he was 15 years old-but a balding, bespectacled clergyman at the   Vatican embassy, who, Wojnowski says, trampled his sign in August and then   spit in his face last week after Wojnowski asked his name.


A spokesman   for the US Secret Service confirmed that the agency was investigating the   complaint but said no more, citing the ongoing inquiry. The Apostolic   Nunciature, as the embassy is officially known, did not respond to several   requests for comment.

. . . .

(Officials   at the DC Department of Transportation told me that the public right of way   includes both the sidewalk outside the embassy and, to a depth of 23 feet,   the lawn and driveway. Juan Amaya, the agency's public space manager, said,   "Public space is public space. A man or woman can exercise their First   Amendment rights in a public place, as long as they're not blocking traffic   or interrupting the flow of pedestrians.") 

Read   more


Catholic Church closes London's   gay-friendly "Soho Masses"

Tom   Heneghan     Jan/2, 2013


The Catholic   Church will stop gay-friendly Masses in the central London church that has   held them for the past six years, London's archbishop said on Wednesday.


The   18th-century church in Soho, the heart of London's gay scene, has been   hosting the twice-monthly Masses with the support of the local Church   hierarchy, but Archbishop Vincent Nichols said in a statement that gay   Catholics should attend Mass in their local parishes rather going to separate   services.


"The   Mass is always to retain its essential character as the highest prayer of the   whole Church," Nichols said, stressing there would still be pastoral   care to help gay Catholics "take a full part in the life of the   Church."

Read   more


Work begins on dorms for Catholic students   at two secular universities

Laura Dodson       Dec.28, 2012


Catholic   students at one secular university in Florida soon will have a dormitory all   their own.


In a   historic collaboration, Bishop John G. Noonan of Orlando, Fla., Anthony J.   Catanese, president of Florida Institute of Technology, Matt Zerrusen,   president of the Newman Student Housing Fund, and Salvatorian Fr. Douglas   Bailey, chaplain of Catholic campus ministry at the school, participated in   the ceremonial groundbreaking for Mary Star of the Sea Catholic Student   Residence on Dec. 7.


The ceremony   was the second in as many months at a secular university in which housing   specifically designated for Catholic students is being constructed.

A similar   ceremony took place Oct. 3 at Texas A&M University-Kingsville for St.   Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, which includes a dormitory and chapel.

Read   more


Mexico Bishop Raul Vera Inspires,   Infuriates With Activism

Christopher   Sherman     Dec.25, 2012


        The white-haired bishop stepped before some 7,000 faithful gathered   in a baseball stadium in this violence-plagued northern border state. He led   the gathering through the rituals of his Mass, reciting prayers echoed back   by the massive crowd. And then his voice rose.


Politicians   are tied to organized crime, Bishop Raul Vera bellowed while inaugurating the   church's Year of Faith. Lawmakers' attempts to curb money laundering are   intentionally weak. New labor reforms are a way to enslave Mexican workers.


How, Vera   asked, can Mexicans follow leaders "who are the ones who have let   organized crime grow, who have let criminals do what they do unpunished,   because there's no justice in this country!"


In a nation   where some clergy have been cowed into silence by drug cartels and official   power, Vera is clearly unafraid to speak. That makes him an important voice   of dissent in a country where the Roman Catholic Church often works   hand-in-hand with the powerful, and where cynicism about politics is   widespread and corrosive.

. . .   . 

Anonymous   critics have hung banners outside the cathedral asking for what they called a   real Catholic bishop. And last year, the 67-year-old was summoned to the   Vatican to explain a church outreach program to gay youth.

. . .   . 

Parishioner   Julia Castillo, of Saltillo, said Vera wasn't just making headlines with his   bold stands. He was also inspiring Mexicans at a time when many are feeling   besieged.


"He   talks about all of the injustice there is right now, of all the danger there   is, that we have to stick together to fight against the corruption, above all   in the government and the police," Castillo said. "We like the way   he is."

Read   more


Italian Priest, Says 'Provocative' Women   To Blame For Spate Of Domestic Violence

 Meredith   Bennett-Smith     Dec.28, 2012


An Italian   priest found himself embroiled in a national controversy this week after a   Christmas bulletin he posted in his church went viral.


Perio   Corsi's flier, entitled "Women and femicide - healthy self-criticism.   How often do they provoke?" claimed that women in Italy may   be to blame for a spate of domestic violence attacks, Raw Story notes. Members of   the priest's congregation then posted the text on the Internet.  . . . .

. . . .

As calls for   the priest to resign intensified, Euronews reported that Corsi   issued an apology, only to quickly take it back. He also used   an anti-gay slur when debating a reporter from Rai Radio, L'Huffington Post reports.

Meanwhile,   local officials have been quick to distance themselves from the church   leader's comments.


The mayor of   San Terenzo said his constituents were "dumfounded" by Corsi's   holiday missive, while the region's bishop Luigi Ernesto Palletti called the   flier's sentiments "unacceptable and go against the church's common   feeling on the matter," reports The   Journal.


Even the   Vatican commented, with Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia, the president of the   Vatican's Congregation for the Family, going on Vatican Radio Thursday to   dismiss the claim, according to the Daily   Beast.


Italian priest provokes storm with misogynist rant

Read   more


Catholic leaders vow to ensure defeat of   LP candidates in 2013 polls over RH law

Philip C.   Tubeza     Dec.29, 2012


Catholic   leaders lambasted on Saturday the "secrecy" that shrouded President   Aquino's signing of the reproductive health (RH) bill into law and vowed to   "exhaust all legal remedies" to have it repealed.


Dr. Ricardo   Boncan, spokesman of the Catholic Vote Philippines alliance, said it was   "highly dishonorable" for the President to sign the law on December   21 in secret and away from media spotlights.

. . . . 

"We   will exhaust all legal remedies to fight this unjust, unethical and anti-poor   and anti-life law," Boncan said.


Catholic   lawyers are preparing to question the constitutionality of the law before the   Supreme Court.


"The   last recourse would be the Supreme Court," said Jaro Archbishop Angel   Lagdameo, a former president of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the   Philippines.


"But we   need to know what amendments were introduced and further study the new form   of the approved law. (It's) time to move on. The future will tell where   wisdom has been," he added.

Read   more


US bishop calls for nuclear negotiations   with Iran

CNA       Dec.20, 2012


The U.S.   bishops' leader on international peace issues said that dialogue is the path   to a peaceful resolution of nuclear concerns between the United States and   Iran.


"Bold   steps must be considered to counter this unfortunate and continually rising   tide of aggressive posturing between our own nation and Iran," said   Bishop Richard E. Pates of Des Moines.


In a Dec. 18   letter to Thomas E. Donilon, national security advisor to the Obama   administration, he explained that a "peaceful resolution will require   direct, sustained negotiations over a considerable period of time."


The bishop,   who chairs the Committee on International Justice and Peace for the U.S.   Conference of Catholic Bishops, voiced "deep concern" over the   "dangerous situation facing our nation, the international community, and   Iran." 

Read   more


Journalists   vote for contraception fight as top 2012 U.S. religion story, pick   Cardinal Dolan as top newsmaker

Debra L. Mason     Dec.18, 2012


As the   nation reeled from the Dec. 14 killing of 20 first graders and six adults in   Newtown, Conn., religious leaders sought to console a stunned public and to   discern religion's role in future debates about mental health and gun   control.


The No. 1   U.S. religion story in December 2012 was, without a doubt, the school attack   and the mournful search for meaning that follows.


However,   before the shooting, professional journalists who cover religion voted on the   year's other significant religious events.


The U.S.   Catholic bishops' opposition to national health care legislation mandating   contraception coverage was ranked the No. 1 Religion Story of 2012 by members   of the Religion Newswriters Association.


Related to   the top story, the top religion newsmaker was Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New   York, who became the point man for Catholic objections to required coverage   of contraception, sterilization and morning after drugs in Obamacare. 

Read   more


From nuns to 'nones,' 10 ways religion   shaped the news in 2012

Kevin   Eckstrom     Dec.20, 2012


Here are 10   ways religion made news in 2012:


1.  Suffer the children: Gun violence as a   new "pro-life" issue.    . . . .   "Those   who consider themselves religious or pro-life must be invited to see that the   desire to prevent gun-related deaths is part of the religious defense of the   dignity of all life," wrote the Rev. James Martin, a Jesuit priest and   contributing editor at America magazine.


 2. 'None of the above': America's   fast-growing nonreligious community.  A startling   one in five Americans (19 percent) now claim no religious affiliation, up   from 6 percent in 1990. The so-called "nones" include unbelieving   atheists who staged a massive "Reason Rally" in Washington, but   two-thirds of the unaffiliated say they believe in God or a universal spirit.   Almost nine in 10 say they're just not looking for a faith to call home.


 3.    Nuns on the bus and   in the spotlight:  . . . .  The reform of the   Leadership Conference of Women Religious was seen as a hostile takeover by   many rank-and-file Catholics, who rallied to the sisters' defense.  A   separate group of sisters, meanwhile, dubbed themselves the "Nuns on the   Bus," and embarked on a 2,700-mile tour to advocate for the poor. Sister   Simone Campbell, whose group NETWORK organized the tour, landed a prime-time   speaking slot at the Democratic National Convention, where she slammed the   budget drafted by GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, a fellow   Catholic. 


4. The "Mormon moment":    Even though he ultimately lost his White House bid, Republican Mitt   Romney nonetheless made history as the first Mormon to win a major party's   presidential nomination.  . . . .  Despite frosty ties with the   U.S. Catholic hierarchy, President Obama carried the critical Catholic swing   vote, largely on the support of Hispanic Catholics. The largest share of his   "religious" coalition came from an unexpected source: religiously   unaffiliated voters, at 23 percent.


5.  Goin' to the chapel: Unprecedented strides for gay rights.    Gay rights made unprecedented strides in 2012 when voters in   Washington, Maryland and Maine approved gay marriage, while Minnesota voters   rejected a constitutional amendment to ban it.       . . . .    All eyes are now on the U.S. Supreme Court, where justices in 2013 will   consider challenges to a 2008 California referendum that stopped gay   marriage, and the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act that prohibits the federal government   from recognizing legal same-sex marriages performed in nine states and   District of Columbia. 


6.  A bitter pill: Rallying against contraception in the name   of "religious freedom."   One of the   more unexpected entrants into the 2012 campaign was a fierce debate over   birth control, centered around Catholic and evangelical resistance to the   Obama administration's mandate for free employee coverage of   contraception. 


7.  10 years later: The long shadow of   sexual abuse.  As U.S. Catholics marked the 10th   anniversary of the clergy sex abuse scandal that erupted in Boston, the U.S.   Conference of Catholic Bishops was confronted with two landmark criminal   convictions: Monsignor William Lynn, found guilty of child endangerment for   shuffling abusive priests around the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and Kansas   City, Mo., Bishop Robert Finn, convicted of failing to tell police about a   priest suspected of sexually exploiting children.   . . . .     Franciscan priest Benedict Groeschel was forced to retract   statements that seemed to defend priests who sexually abuse children and   blamed some victims for "seducing" them. The chairman of the   bishops' National Review Board warned the prelates: "If there is   anything that needs to be disclosed in a diocese, it needs to be disclosed   now. No one can no longer claim they didn't know."


8.  New threads in America's diverse religious tapestry.  The 2012   campaign marked the first time that neither major party ticket included a   white Protestant, but there were other signs of America's growing racial and   ethnic diversity. New Orleans pastor Fred Luter was elected the first black   president of the Southern Baptist Convention, which was formed in 1845 in the   defense of slavery. Rep. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, will become the first   Buddhist member of the Senate; her House seat was won by Democrat Tulsi   Gabbard, the first Hindu member of Congress.  The number of mosques in   America has jumped 74 percent since 2000, up to 2,106. "Islam,"   said David Roozen of the Hartford Institute for Religion Research, "is   one of the few growth spots in America's religious mosaic." 


9.  Boldface names:

  • Evangelist Franklin        Graham apologized for questioning President Obama's        Christian bona fides.
  • ABC canceled its short-lived saucy church drama        "GCB"        after viewers lost faith in the bedazzled desperate housewives in choir        robes.
  • Crystal Cathedral founder Robert H. Schuller left        his California megachurch and lost a bid to recover assets as part of        the church's bankruptcy. The iconic glass building is now scheduled to        become a Roman Catholic cathedral.
  • The Dalai        Lama won the prestigious $1.7 million Templeton        Prize for his efforts to bridge the divide between science and religion.
  • Southern Baptist public policy guru Richard Land lost        his radio show, and later announced his retirement, after he was accused        of plagiarizing racially and politically charged remarks in the Trayvon        Martin case.
  • Former Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore won        his old job back, nearly a decade after losing it when he refused to        remove a 5,200-pound granite Ten Commandments monument from his        courthouse.
  • Yale theologian Sister Margaret Farley        was publicly rebuked by the Vatican for her book "Just Love: A        Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics," which was deemed "not        consistent with authentic Catholic theology."
  • Metropolitan Jonah, the leader of the Orthodox Church in America, was sacked for        failing to report or remove a priest accused of rape.
  • Jesus may or may        not have had a wife, at least according to a 4th-century papyrus        fragment that includes the cryptic line, "Jesus said to them, 'My        wife..."  The Vatican dismissed it as a "clumsy        fake."
  • Paolo Gabriele, the trusted butler to Pope Benedict XVI, was sentenced to 18        months in a Vatican jail for leaking private papal documents in an        attempt to rid the Vatican of corruption out of his "visceral        love" for the church and the pope.
  • The U.S. got its first Native American saint, Kateri Tekawitha,        a 17th-century Mohawk woman who practiced extreme acts of religious devotion        despite torment for her baptism and conversion.
  • Justin Welby will be the next archbishop of Canterbury, and the first        task of the former oil executive will be finding a way for the Church of        England to reconsider its vote this year not to allow women to become        bishops.

 10.  Passages:  2012   saw the passing of several leading religious figures, including: 

  • William Hamilton, the theologian        behind Time magazine's famed "Is God Dead?" cover story in        1966, at age 87; 
  • Coptic OrthodoxPope        Shenouda III, at age 88; 
  • Christian artist and "painter of light" Thomas Kinkade, at        age 54; 
  • Watergate felon and evangelical icon Charles Colson, at        age 80; 
  • Leontine T.C. Kelly, the first black        woman to be elected a United Methodist bishop, at age 92; 
  • March for Life founder and anti-abortion activist Nellie Gray at        age 88;
  • Unification Church founder Rev. Sun Myung Moon at age 92;        and 
  • anti-hunger activist and 1972 Democratic presidential        nominee Sen.        George McGovern, at age 90.

Read   more


Dutch Catholics "de-baptize" to   protest Pope Benedict comments against gay marriage

Sara Webb       Dec.27, 2012


Thousands of   Dutch Catholics are researching how they can leave the church in protest at   its opposition to gay marriage, according to the creator of a website aimed   at helping them find the information.


Tom Roes,   whose website allows people to download the documents needed to leave the   Church, said traffic on - "" - had soared   from about 10 visits a day to more than 10,000 after Pope Benedict's latest   denunciation of gay marriage this month.


"Of   course it's not possible to be 'de-baptized' because a baptism is an event,   but this way people can unsubscribe or de-register themselves as   Catholics," Roes told Reuters.


He said he   did not know how many visitors to the site actually go ahead and leave the   Church.

Read   more


Jindal teaches the Catholic Church a   lesson

Mark Silk       Dec.20, 2012


Bobby   Jindal, the conservative Catholic governor of Louisiana, attracted some   attention last week for a Wall Street Journal op-ed in   which he advocated making oral contraceptives available over the counter   without a prescription. And for his pains, he received a slap on the wrist   from his local archdiocese.

. . . .

In response,   the Archdiocese of New Orleans' communications director told the Times-Picayune,   "We disagree with the governor's opinion because, as the Catholic Church   teaches, contraception is always wrong." And so, presumably, the more   readily available it is, the greater the quantum of wrong in the world.


This   archdiocesan stance hardly comes as a surprise, but rather than simply let   their knees jerk, Catholic powers-that-be would do well to heed Jindal's more   subtle message. The relevant two sentences:


If the   Catholic bishops really wanted their schools and hospitals as well as any   employer with religious scruples to be exempt from the Affordable Care Act's   contraception mandate, they would be helping the Obama Administration find a   way to provide free contraceptive coverage to all women-or at least not   getting in the way of the Administration's doing so. 

Read   more


Teilhard de Chardin's "Planetary   Mind" and Our Spiritual Evolution 

Krista   Tippett    Dec.20 2012



Is   technology taking us towards greatness, or hyper-connected collapse?   Paleontologist and Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin foresaw this challenge a   century ago. He penned forbidden ideas, mystical at the time, that humanity   would develop a global intelligence. We join New York Times Dot Earth journalist Andy   Revkin, evolutionary biologist David Sloan Wilson, and religious scholar   Ursula King to discuss science and our spiritual evolution.


listen: stream   online  or download   mp3 
  subscribe: iTunes 

Read   more


Pope Benedict signals inter-faith alliance   against legalising gay marriage

Philip   Pullella     Dec.21, 2013


The pope's   latest denunciation of gay marriage came in a Christmas address to Vatican   officials in which he blended religion, philosophy, anthropology and   sociology to illustrate the position of the Roman Catholic Church.

  The Vatican has gone on the offensive in response to gains for gay marriage   in the United States and Europe, using every possible opportunity to denounce   it through papal speeches or editorials in its newspaper or on its radio   station.

. . . .

In some countries, the Catholic Church has   already joined forces with Jews, Muslims and members of other religions to   oppose the legalization of gay marriage, in some cases presenting arguments   based on legal, social and anthropological analyses rather than religious   teachings.


Significantly,   the pope specifically praised as "profoundly moving" a study by   Gilles Bernheim, France's chief rabbi, which has become the subject of heated   debate in that country. 

Read   more


Retired Ind. Catholic bishop diagnosed   with cancer

Associated   Press     Jan.2, 2013

The retired   bishop of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Catholic Diocese said Wednesday he's been   diagnosed with cancer in his lungs and brain.


Bishop   Emeritus John D'Arcy said he was diagnosed when he went to a hospital   Sunday after not feeling well while visiting relatives in the Boston area   for Christmas.

  D'Arcy, 80, said in a statement released by the diocese that he'll begin   outpatient radiation treatments within days in Massachusetts and hopes within   a few weeks for a return to Fort Wayne, where he would continue treatment and   possibly undergo chemotherapy. 

Read   more


Pope Paul VI inches one step closer to   sainthood

Alessandro   Speciale     Dec.21, 2012


Pope Paul   VI, who guided the Catholic Church through a tumultuous period of change in   the 1960s and 70s, took a crucial first step toward possible sainthood when   Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday (Dec. 20) recognized his predecessor's   "heroic virtues."


Paul VI is   now considered "venerable" in the Catholic Church, and needs the   Vatican to recognize a miracle due to his intercession in order to be   beatified, or declared "blessed." A second miracle would then   elevate him to sainthood.

Read   more


Vatican suspends bank card payments

Sapa-AFP      Jan.3 2013


The Bank of   Italy has suspended all bank card payments in the Vatican including for   tickets to its famous museum until further notice because of a failure to   fully implement anti money laundering legislation, Italian media reported on   Thursday.
  The payments have been suspended since January 1 after the Bank of Italy   ordered Deutsche Bank Italia, which handles bank card payments on Vatican   territory, to deactivate its terminals because of a lack of authorisation for   the transactions.

. . . .

The reports   quoted Italian central bank sources saying the Vatican does not respect   international anti money laundering norms and an Italian-registered bank such   as Deutsche Bank Italia can therefore not operate on its territory.
  The suspension also includes payments at the Vatican pharmacy, the post   office and a few shops that operate in the world's tiniest state. 

Read   more


USCCB committees call for action in   response to Newtown tragedy

Catholic News   Service     Dec.21, 2012


The chairmen   of three committees of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a joint   statement Dec. 21 stressing the need for gun control, improved services for   the mentally ill and a critical examination of the violence in today's   movies, videos and television shows.
  The statement was released in response to the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook   Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that left 20 children, the principal and   five teachers dead. 

Read   more


K of C Gun Show ? ? ? 

Pratt Knights of Columbus Gun Show

Notice: Gun show dates   are updated daily. Please call before going to any gun show. Gun show dates,   times and locations are subject to change without notification. 


March   23rd, 2013

Show Hours:

9:00 am -   5:00 pm

Show Location:

Pratt   County Fairgrounds


81 Lake   RoadPratt, KSUnited States


Knights   of Columbus Council #3058

Promoter Phone:


Promoter Email:

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New   Translation of the Roman Missal 


Is   Anybody Listening? 

Fr Michael G. Ryan    Dec.21, 2012


Writing on the new Roman Missal in The Tablet, I   asked the question: "What if we just said 'wait'?" I proposed that   the new translation be "road-tested" for a year before being   implemented.  


More than 23,000 people from around the   English-speaking world signed on to a website in support. To no avail. The   bishops had no interest in road-testing or waiting, and so, on the First   Sunday of Advent last year, after carefully preparing my parishioners, I   swallowed hard, read the prayers, chanted the chants, and did what I was   required to do. I told myself it would get easier over time. I was   wrong. 

. . . . 

Speaking for myself, I had hoped that our people, once   they heard the prayers of the new Missal, would speak out. They haven't. A   friend recently asked me how realistic it was for me to hope they would. She   wrote: "How can you hope that your people will resist even as you   yourself are yielding and going along with a diminished Mass. They trust you   and they will follow your lead." I must admit her question haunts   me. 


My original question was: "What if we just said   'wait'?" Now I find myself asking different questions. 


Can our bishops begin at once to talk about necessary   modifications, correcting the most egregious problems - linguistic,   grammatical, theological? This would provide some temporary relief.


Can our bishops begin to engage liturgists, scholars,   and poets in a conversation about authentic translation and the principles   that govern it? Can they then bring the fruits of this dialogue to   Rome?  


Can we all talk openly and honestly in our faith   communities about the texts we have been given, about what kind of language   nourishes prayer and what gets in the way? 


Can we talk about a new edition of the Missal, not   some day, but soon? 


If we don't talk, I fear that people will just stop   listening to the texts because of the effort involved in making sense of   them; and, as is already happening, there will be a kind of liturgical   free-for-all in which celebrants alter the texts to fit their comfort level   and make the prayers intelligible.  


So can we keep talking - without impugning one   another's loyalty, without silencing dialogue in the interests of a false   notion of communio, without letting weariness with the whole business,   or indifference, or fear of reprisals prevent us from listening to each   other? 

We need to talk.

Read more 


Also: How   the Grinch mistranslated Christmas 

Jonathan Day     Dec.27, 2012


Upcoming Events  

Elephants in the   Living Room.

The next Elephants' educational forum will be on   Friday, February 8, 2013.  The featured speaker will be Bishop   Remi DeRoo speaking on the contributions of Vatican II.    The location will be announced shortly.


Transformation in a   Time of Uncertainty 

Nancy   Sylvester, IHM, will take us through the years 1950 to the present helping us   to listen, speak and practice from a contemplative heart. How we engage the   world and what direction we take are questions seeking answers. We will look   at some model communities within our church that have taken root and see how   they act as an inspiration going forward. 


Saturday March 16, 2013        9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Chestnut Hill College -   Sugar Loaf Center

9230   Germantown, Phila., Pa 19118

$25.00,   or what you can afford, includes lunch

Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


You can register the day you   arrive. However, for planning purposes, we appreciate receiving your   registration by March 1.


Sponsors: ARCC, VOTF Chestnut Hill, CTA  



Other Voices