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In Our Church
Robert Schutzius, Ph.D.                                            February, 2014 


In our Church we encounter many sinners, but far more saints.


In our Church are hundreds who violate children, but many millions who love and cherish them.


In our Church are many who live in luxury and wear silk robes, but millions who share what they have.


In our Church we are ashamed and embarrassed by our human leaders, but they are not THE Church.


In our Church we have a human institution with all its human foibles, but it is not THE Church.


In our Church there are many who seek and acquire great wealth, but many, many more who live as Jesus did.


In our Church there are many who seek power and authority, but far more who know the humble truth.


In our Church we find great authority and teachings, but most trust and follow their own conscience.


In our Church we have leaders who claim absolute truth, but we know that they are human like us. 


In our Church great saints are proclaimed, but we know that far, far more are missed. 


In our Church we find ourselves, all of us, sinners and saints, trying to love one another.


We are THAT Church; THE Church wherein God dwells and guides us through the changes needed to grow.

Bob Schutzius is an ARCC Presidential Advisor, former officer, executive board member and office manager.
Some things we have been reading  
Amos and American Christianity
Marcus Borg      Feb.10, 2014

I have been thinking a lot lately about what I wish every Christian knew. On my list: I wish all Christians, especially American Christians, knew the book of Amos.

 . . . .

The effect of Amos is best experienced by reading the whole book thoughtfully and slowly and with several awarenesses. He was speaking, not writing; his speeches (commonly called "oracles") are short, seldom exceeding six verses or so; they have a poetic structure and use language designed to be memorable in an oral culture.
. . . .

Amos paints a vivid picture of the leisurely life-style of the wealthy and powerful and their indifference to the impoverishment of the many: "Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall; who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph [the ruin of the many]!" (6.4-6).


"They sell the righteous [the innocent, those who have done no wrong] for silver, and the needy for a pair of sandals. They trample the ... poor into the dust of the earth, and push the afflicted out of the way." (2.6-7).

 . . . .
Perhaps the best-known text from Amos indicts the worship of the wealthy and powerful. As often in the prophets, the "I" is God, for the prophet speaks in the name of God. "I hate, I despise your [religious] festivals, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies. Even though you offer me your burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them; and the offerings of well-being of your fatted animals I will not look upon. Take away from me the noise of your songs; I will not listen to the melody of your harps. But let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like an everflowing stream." (5.21-24)

. . . .

They challenge much that is central to American Christianity and American politics today, especially our ethos, our ideologies, of individualism and exceptionalism.


Politically and economically, individualism is based on the conviction that the degree of our material well-being is primarily the product of how much we have applied ourselves and how hard we have worked.


But is that really true? Or is the decisive influence the way the powerful and wealthy have put the world together in their own self-interest? Is the cause of human misery and suffering primarily individual irresponsibility - or is it systemic? Have the powers that be, in the ancient world and our world, organized the system to create, enhance, and preserve their privilege? Is the cause of poverty in America and the rest of the world primarily individual failure - or is it systemic?


Amos and other voices in the Bible also challenge the notion of American exceptionalism - that we have been and are not only blessed by God but also chosen and favored by God. Polls indicate that more than a majority of Americans affirm that. So do a majority of American Christians, including those who are fearful that we might lose that status because of our deviation from God's ways (fill in the blank as to what our sins are). The notion of exceptionalism means more than one thing, including that we are the best country in the world and that we would never use our power for anything other than legitimate purposes.

But, to use words from Amos, "Are you not like the Ethiopians to me?" We as a nation are not chosen, not exceptional. Like every nation, every society, our future depends upon our present and how we shape our life together here and now.

Read more

UN Urges Changes in Vatican Policies
CNS      Feb.5, 2014

The U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child continued to insist that the Vatican compile and publish detailed statistics on clerical sexual abuse of minors and that the pope, as head of the church, can and should order Catholic dioceses and religious orders around the world to implement all the policies of the U.N. Convention of the Rights of the Child.


The committee's "concluding observations" said the church's procedures for dealing with suspected cases of abuse are so hostile to children and their parents that some have reported being "re-victimized by the church authorities."


The committee's report also objected to confidentiality being "imposed as a condition of financial compensation," although Bishop Scicluna had told committee members that in the vast majority of cases, the compensation is awarded by a court, which sets the terms.

. . . . 

In other areas concerning the rights of children as set forth in the U.N. convention, the committee:

  • Praised a pledge to consider "withdrawing the discriminatory expression 'illegitimate children' which can still be found in canon law."
  • Insisted the church and its teaching on sexuality "contribute to the social stigmatization of and violence against lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender adolescents and children raised by same sex couples."
  • Said the rights of children to know their biological parents have, in some cases, been violated by Catholic adoption agencies and in cases where the biological father is a priest. The policy of some Catholic convents and hospitals to let mothers know they can anonymously leave unwanted babies and any other practice that gives parents anonymity should be only a last resort, it said.
  • Expressed concern about adolescents "separated from their families and isolated from the outside world" when they enter minor seminaries run by some religious orders.
  • Suggested the church needs to "overcome all the barriers and taboos surrounding adolescent sexuality that hinder their access to sexual and reproductive information, including on family planning and contraceptives."
  • Asked the church "to review its position on abortion, which places obvious risks on the life and health of pregnant girls" and to amend church law to identity "circumstances under which access to abortion services can be permitted."

Read more 

Read the report

No excuses for priestly child abuse
James Carroll Feb.10 2014

On the question of  how far papal authority extends, the canon law of the Catholic Church could not be clearer: "The vicar of Christ. . . possesses full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely." (Can. 331) Note that canon law does not say, "except in cases of priestly sex abuse of children." Canon law does not say that priests and bishops are independent contractors. Canon law does not say that what happens in Catholic parishes and dioceses around the world has nothing to do with Rome. In fact, another canon reads, "By virtue of his office, the Roman pontiff not only possesses power over the universal church, but also obtains the primacy of ordinary power over all particular churches and groups of them." (Can. 333)


How to square that sweeping papal power with the shameless dodge put forward by the Holy See in this era of church disgrace - the claim that, when it comes to protecting children from abuse, the Roman Catholic Church is legally responsible only to safeguard those living in the confines of Vatican City, a tiny city-state that would fit inside New York's Central Park eight times? Washing the Vatican's hands of broader responsibility for the staggering transnational accumulation of rapes by priests, and systematic enabling of those rapes by bishops, a Vatican spokesman said, "When individual institutions of national churches are implicated, that does not regard the competence of the Holy See . . . The competence of the Holy See is at the level of the Holy See."

. . . .

 But the Vatican strategy has come at a terrible moral cost. Once again, protection of church power and possessions is trumping the profound moral obligation to reckon with the truth of what is still happening in the Catholic Church. And now comes this next lie - the ridiculous assertion that the pope does not exercise full and complete authority over priests and bishops.

. . . .

 The UN report is so blistering because the committee clearly concludes that, despite a Vatican official's assertion that the church "gets it," the hierarchy still does not understand the urgency of protecting children. The Holy See hides behind reporting law loopholes that exist in many nations. It still does not hold to account the abuse-enabling bishops, a failure permanently on display in the honors accorded to cover-up icon Cardinal Bernard Law. 

. . . .

The message from the United Nations is that the world is more appalled by Catholic crimes than defensive church officials are. If the church does not address those crimes, others will. 

Read more

UN names church for what it is: a rogue state
Brendan O'Connor       Feb.9, 2014

Ww can tend to outrage fatigue when it comes to reports about the crimes committed within the Catholic Church in recent years. So when the UN Committee on the Rights of Children reported last week on its ongoing engagement with the Catholic Church regarding the rights of children within the Vatican and  the Holy See, many people will have been tempted to ignore it.

. . . .

We knew all that stuff already, didn't we? 

. . . .

While some will argue about the Vatican's claim to statehood, the UN uses the church's claim to independent statehood against it. The UN is basically treating the Holy See as a state, subject to the same duties and responsibilities as other states. And what the UN finds is a rogue state.

. . . . 

Here is a state that has institutionalised homophobia, discrimination against women and children, that has systematically overseen the protection of the abusers of tens of thousands of children, protecting abusers from the laws of their host countries. Here is a state that has overseen mass scale trafficking of babies, a state that opposes modern health and sexual education for young women, a state that forces secrecy on children, even those who are victims of sexual abuse.


These guys are up there with China or the worst of Africa in terms of their human rights record. And when you look at it coldly and clearly like that, your blood runs cold. 

. . . . 

The UN's message to the church is stark. If you want to be a state, you need to act like one. You cannot just declare yourself a jurisdiction, make up your own laws that excuse things that are universally accepted to be wrong, and refuse to be party both to the laws of the countries you operate in and universally agreed conventions on human rights. 

Read more

Pope Opens Big Week With Sex, Divorce on Agenda
Nicole Winfield      Feb.17, 2014

Meetings this week between Pope Francis and his cardinals will deal with some of the thorniest issues facing the church, including the rejection by most Catholics of some of its core teaching on premarital sex, contraception, gays and divorce.


German Cardinal Walter Kasper, who has called for "changes and openings" in the church's treatment of divorced and remarried Catholics, will give the keynote speech Thursday to the pope and cardinals attending a preparatory meeting for an October summit on family issues.

The cardinals are in town for Saturday's ceremony to formally install 19 new "princes of the church," the first batch named by Francis to join the group of churchmen who will elect his successor. Saturday's ceremony is the high point of an intensive week of meetings presided over by Francis that include the first proposals to put the Vatican's financial house in order.

Ahead of Saturday's consistory, cardinals will meet for two days behind closed doors to begin preparations for the October summit on family issues. 

Read more

Holy See's Permanent Observer to UN speaks on woman's rights
Vatican Radio)       Feb.8, 2014

In a speech entitled "Promoting Equality, including Social Equity, Gender Equality, and Women's Empowerment", Archbishop Francis A. Chullikatt called for a universal approach in addressing the root causes of inequality, poverty and exclusion, noting that women and girls, in particular, face a broad range of threats against their human dignity.

The archbishop was addressing the Eighth Session of the Open Working Group on the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Full text of Archbishop Chullikatt's speech


Pope praises Benedict's courage on resignation anniversary
ANSA      Feb.11, 2014

Pope Francis on Tuesday praised Benedict XVI's courage on the first anniversary of his predecessor's shock announcement that he was resigning as the head of the Catholic Church. 

Francis was elected to replace Benedict at a conclave last March. "Today I ask you to join me in prayer for His Holiness Benedict XVI, a man of great courage and humility," Francis said via the papal Twitter account,@Pontifex


When did Benedict XVI first think of resigning? Card. Bertone has the answer
Rome Reports       Feb.11 2014

In a one on one ROME REPORTS interview, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, says that in mid 2012, Benedict XVI told him he was thinking of resigning. For months, he kept it a secret, until it was announced to the world on February 11, 2013. 



"Pope Benedict XVI thought about this decision long before announcing it. He told me about it in mid-2012. I told the Pope all the problems that could arise if he did so. But, he felt tired, his age weighed on him. He was concerned with World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro. He would ask himself, 'At my age, how will I, address millions of young people?' As he explained later on, on February 11, he felt that in order to fully carry out the Petrine mission, he needed more physical and mental strength. He personally explained it, but I would tell him, 'Look, you still have to complete the trilogy on Jesus of Nazareth, and finish the volume on the Childhood of Jesus. It would be a great Christmas gift from the Pope to the people of God. Then, there's your Papal encyclical on faith, which you're still working on and plus, the Year of Faith just started.' But Benedict XVI decided that the date of his resignation would be February 11, 2013, the Feast Day of Our Lady of Lourdes." 

Read more

Vatican admits infighting in financial watchdog
JNicole Winfiels      Feb.18, 2014

The Vatican on Tuesday acknowledged recent infighting inside its financial watchdog agency which preceded the resignation of its president, a new development as Pope Francis works to reform the Holy See's finances in meetings this week.


The board of the Financial Information Authority complained in a letter to the Vatican secretary of state that it was being kept in the dark about agency activities since the arrival of Swiss anti-money-laundering expert Rene Bruelhart as director, Rome daily Il Messaggero reported Tuesday.


Two weeks after that Jan. 16-dated letter, Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the agency president, Cardinal Attilio Nicora, who had clashed with Bruelhart.


The Vatican created the agency in 2010 as part of its first major push to comply with international anti-money-laundering standards. Its mission was to supervise, regulate and investigate the Holy See's financial activities to ensure they complied with international norms, and to share financial information with other countries in the fight against money laundering and financing of terrorism.


Bruelhart, who previously headed Liechtenstein's financial intelligence unit, joined the Vatican regulator in 2012. He since has been credited with delivering progress in the Vatican's compliance with international financial norms and scoring membership in the coveted Egmont group of financial watchdog agencies.

England and Wales survey findings to stay under wraps as German responses reveal laity rejecting church teaching
James Macintyre & Christa Pongratz-Lippitt      Feb.6, 2014

Some 16,500 responses have been received by the Bishops' Conference of England of Wales to a Vatican survey of Catholics' views on same-sex marriage, contraception and communion for divorced and remarried couples. But their contents will not be revealed, unlike in Germany, where the responses showed a huge gap between church teaching and what Catholics believe and practise.

. . . .

But what the respondents wrote will be sent confidentially to the Vatican in "accordance with the wishes of the Holy See," the spokesman explained. The English and Welsh bishops led the way by being the first to make the questionnaire available online. 


It is understood, however, that Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, the Secretary General of the Synod of Bishops appointed last year by Pope Francis, later requested that the results of the survey were not made public.


However, the German bishops this week released the survey's findings, which showed that respondents in Germany want a radically new approach to family and on sexual morality on the part of the Church.


The Church's teaching on such issues is seen as a "morality of prohibition pure and simple", the bishops say. It is not accepted, because a "fundamental change and pluralisation of the definition of the family, as well as the privatisation of sexual morality and of human relationships as a whole" has taken place. 

Read more

Synod at the Crossroads, on Second Marriages
Sandro Magister      Feb.7, 2014

The German-speaking area has been the quickest both in responding to the questionnaire released by the Vatican in view of the synod on the family and in making the responses public.

The Swiss bishops have gone even further, and have composed an even more detailed questionnaire which they entrusted to the socio-pastoral institute of San Gallo, which has collected about 25,000 responses, mostly through the internet and from citizens of the German-speaking cantons.

They released the results on February 3. And the next day the bishops of Germany did the same.

In both cases, emphasizing the avalanche of "yes" responses on one of the crucial points: communion for the divorced and remarried and the recognition of their second marriages by the Church.

Not only that. In presenting the results of the survey, the bishops of both countries have called for "a new  approach concerning Catholic sexual morality," given that "the faithful though longer understand the arguments of the Church on these issues." 

Read more

Pope: Church should not abandon divorced, separated couples
UPI      Feb.7, 2014

Pope Francis, in a meeting with Polish bishops at the Vatican, said Friday priests should try to help divorced and separated couples instead of excluding them.


The pope said it is unfortunate the family is no longer "a place where people learn to get along despite their differences ... and where parents pass on the faith to their children," the Italian news agency ANSA reported. But he said those couples who have divorced should be helped to keep their faith and "raise their children in the fullness of the Christian experience."


The pope made similar remarks at a meeting last month of the Union of Superiors General. At the time, he said the church should not "administer a vaccine against faith" to separated couples and their children. 

Read more

Cardinal McCarrick meets with Boehner on immigration
Robert Costa       Feb.6, 2014

House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) met privately Thursday morning with retired Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick at the Capitol, where they discussed the prospects of immigration reform and their shared Roman Catholic faith, just an hour before a press conference where Boehner cast doubt on whether he could move immigration legislation this year.


According to a person familiar with the session, Boehner did not make any promises to McCarrick, the 83-year-old Cardinal archbishop emeritus of Washington and a veteran presence in American politics. But the huddle between the two longtime friends underscores Boehner's continued interest in immigration reform, in spite of a push by conservatives to shelve the issue. 

Read more

Obama Denounces Religious Repression
Peter Baker     Feb.6, 2014

President Obama on Thursday scolded China, Iran, North Korea and other countries known for repressing religious minorities and declared that promoting freedom of faith around the world was a central goal of American foreign policy.


Speaking at the annual National Prayer Breakfast, Mr. Obama singled out the government in Beijing and urged it to do more to allow Christians and others to worship. He also called on North Korea to release a Christian missionary held for the last 15 months and insisted that Iran release a Christian pastor held for more than 18 months.

. . . .

The president used the breakfast to lavish praise on Pope Francis, whom he plans to visit at the Vatican next month and whose messages on economic injustice around the world have coincided with Mr. Obama's focus on income inequality in the United States.


"Like Matthew, he has answered the call of Jesus, who said, 'Follow me,' " Mr. Obama said, "and he inspires us with his words and deeds, his humility, his mercy and his missionary impulse to serve the cause of social justice." 

Read more

Vatican's doctrinal congregation isn't so supreme anymore
Thomas Reese         Feb.15, 2014

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) was once known as the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Roman and Universal Inquisition. Later it became the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office. Even after the Second Vatican Council, when it got its current name and lost the adjective "supreme," it was still the top dog in the Roman Curia.

. . . . 

But the supreme congregation doesn't look so supreme anymore. It has been publicly criticized by a curial cardinal from Brazil, by the president of the German bishops' conference, and by two cardinals who are members of the Council of Cardinals, appointed by the pope to advise him on reforming the Vatican. Even Pope Francis told Latin American religious not to worry about the congregation.

  • CDF's decision in 2012 to place the Leadership Conference of Women Religious under the control of three U.S. bishops was made without consultation or knowledge of the Vatican office that normally deals with matters of religious life, the office's leader complained. It caused him "much pain," Cardinal João Braz de Aviz said.
  • Pope Francis met with top officials of the Latin American Conference of Religious and was reported to have said: "They will make mistakes, they will make a blunder, this will pass! Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine [of the Faith] will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing. ... But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward."
  • Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich, a member of the Council of Cardinals, publicly issued a rebuke of Archbishop Gerhard Müller, current prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, on the subject of divorced and remarried Catholics: "The Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith cannot stop the discussions."
  • Archbishop Robert Zollitsch, chairman of the German Bishops' Conference, defended a plan to offer Communion to divorced Catholics despite Müller's opposition.
  • Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga, coordinator of the Council of Cardinals, told Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger newspaper that Müller is "still learning." As a German theology professor, Rodriguez Maradiaga said Müller is convinced something could "only be wrong or right -- and that's it. But I say: The world, my brother, is not like that. You should be a little more flexible when you hear other opinions so that you don't only say: No, this is fixed and final."

. . . .

In January, Pope Francis gave his most explicit talk on the role of CDF when he spoke to the congregation's members. While confirming their role in "promoting and protecting the doctrine of the faith," he went on to warn the congregation against the temptation to domesticate the faith or reduce it to abstract theories. 

Read more

Legionaries of Christ elect new leaders, apologize to founder's victims
Francis X. Rocca       Feb.6 2014

Representatives of the Legionaries of Christ, meeting to reform their troubled congregation nearly four years after it was effectively taken over by the Vatican, announced a new slate of leaders Thursday and formally apologized to victims of their disgraced founder.


The statement by the congregation's extraordinary general chapter, released Thursday, expressed "deep sorrow" for the late Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado's "reprehensible and objectively immoral behavior," including "abuse of minor seminarians," "immoral acts with adult men and women," "arbitrary use of his authority and of material goods," "indiscriminate consumption of addictive medicines" and plagiarism.

. . . .

The Legionaries announced Thursday that the chapter had elected Mexican Fr. Eduardo Robles Gil Orvananos to serve as the congregation's general director. Robles Gil was to succeed German Fr. Sylvester Heereman, who has served as the congregation's vicar general and then acting general director since February 2012. Heereman will now serve as general councilor, one of six other posts filled in the election.

. . . .

The Legionaries will henceforth change leaders more often and appoint advisory councils to "prevent potential arbitrary behavior and abuses of authority," the chapter statement said.

Read more

Pope Pressed on Bishop Who Supervised Pedophile
Laurie Goodstein      Feb.15, 2014

A group of Roman Catholics in Kansas City, Mo., and a priest with expertise in canon law petitioned Pope Francis this week to take disciplinary action against Bishop Robert W. Finn, who was convicted in 2012 of failing to report a priest who was an active pedophile.

. . . .

The materials included letters from a nun and 13 parishioners in Kansas City, and a petition asking for Bishop Finn's removal signed by more than 113,000 people worldwide.


The request to the pope was initiated by the Rev. James E. Connell, a priest and a canon lawyer in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, who belongs to a newly formed group of priests and nuns known as Catholic Whistleblowers.


Father Connell cited Canon 1389 in the church's Code of Canon Law, which says that a person who through "culpable negligence" harms another person by performing or omitting his or her "ecclesiastical power" is to be given a "just penalty." Father Connell said he cited this canon because it was recently mentioned by Bishop Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former chief prosecutor, as a means of holding church officials accountable. 

Read more

Bankruptcy document: Most Milwaukee abuse claims will receive no money
Marie Rohde        Feb.18, 2014

The Milwaukee archdiocese will walk away from bankruptcy relatively unscathed if its proposed reorganization plan is accepted by Judge Susan V. Kelley.


Although it was lawsuits brought by 570 alleged childhood victims of clergy sex abuse that forced the archdiocese into bankruptcy court, a close reading of the 337-page document shows that the vast majority of those claims will get no financial compensation from a $4 million fund for survivors.


Most other creditors in the case will be paid, although some will get less than they say they are due.


The archdiocese has no plans to reduce its annual $24 million operating budget or sell any property. It will have to put some property up as collateral to "borrow" $2 million from the controversial cemetery perpetual care trust fund -- the same $57 million fund church officials fought to keep out of the bankruptcy case that is now being appealed.


Meanwhile, the price tag for bankruptcy legal fees that the archdiocese must pay will be at least $18 million. Already, $12.5 million has been paid and another $4.5 million in bills has accrued. The archdiocese estimates it will cost another $1 million to complete the bankruptcy under the plan. 

Read more

Puerto Rico probes church sex abuse allegations
Danica Coto       Feb.7, 2014

Prosecutors in Puerto Rico are investigating six priests who face sex abuse allegations and have been expelled by church authorities from a diocese in one of the island's north coastal towns.

Government prosecutor Yolanda Pitino said Friday that she and other attorneys are interviewing several people who have accused the priests of sodomy, lewd acts and sexual harassment.


She said the Arecibo Diocese has provided prosecutors with information related to the six priests, but that they need more details. 

Read more

Polish priest held over Dominican Republic sex abuse claims
BBC      Feb.17, 2014

Police in Poland have arrested a Catholic priest suspected of committing sex offences against children in the Dominican Republic.


The 36-year-old, identified only as Wojciech G, is accused of molesting boys while serving as a parish priest on the Caribbean island.  He denies the accusations.


Last year Polish archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was recalled to Rome amid claims he sexually abused children in the Dominican Republic.


The 65-year-old archbishop, formerly the Vatican's representative to the island, is one of the highest ranking Catholic Church officials to be investigated for alleged abuse.


In the latest case, Wojciech G was arrested at his home near Krakow on Monday and is expected to be formally charged on Tuesday. 

Read more

Polish Catholic Church working on abuse procedures
Associated Press      Feb.13, 2014

Poland's Catholic Church is preparing to publish a book on internal procedures to deal with child sex abuse by priests as cases come to the fore in the staunchly Catholic country, the head of the nation's Catholic news agency said Thursday.


Marcin Przeciszewski told The Associated Press the book should come out by June, provided the Vatican approves the guidelines suggested by Poland's bishops last year. It is not clear when the Vatican will make a decision.


The book appears to be a response by Poland's church to allegations that it has been sweeping cases of sex abuse under the carpet, against the Vatican's efforts since 2001 to punish abusers. Poland's first conviction came in 2004, but allegations last year against two Polish clergymen - one was a Vatican envoy - serving in the Dominican Republic brought the problem to greater public attention. 

Read more

The Pope 'seeks the truth' in Dominican Republic sex abuse cases
Dominican Today       Feb.11 2014

Justice minister Francisco Domínguez and Vatican envoy Jude Thaddeus Okolo on Monday discussed child abuse cases attributed to his predecessor Jozef Wesolowski and the priest Wojciech Gil (Padre Alberto) in Juncalito, Santiago.


In a statement released after the meeting, the officials said the courts must do everything to seek the truth in each case and punishment if there's evidence of the allegations.

Dominguez said Dominican investigators found serious criminal responsibility against the prelates, for which they should be punished.

. . . .

Pope Francis' new representative said they'll be in constant contact with authorities and will always seek protect the victims in each case. 

Read more

Vatican investigates Chilean bishop for sex abuse
AFP      Feb.6, 2014

The Vatican has opened an investigation into a Chilean bishop for alleged sexual abuse, the local Church leadership said Thursday.


A statement released by Chile's Catholic church leadership said San Felipe bishop Cristian Contreras had "expressed the wish" for the allegations against him to be investigated.

Contreras denies the allegations as "completely unfounded."


The case came to light after an investigation by the Center for Investigative Journalism, or CIPER, which revealed the archdiocese had received complaints from other priests of suspected abuses by Contreras -- in one case against a 15-year-old child.


The Vatican agency responsible for overseeing such cases, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, sent two Mexican emissaries to Chile to investigate the allegations, CIPER said. 

Read more

Missouri's top court orders St. Louis archdiocese to name accused priests 
Jennifer S. Mann       Feb.6 2014

Ordered by the Missouri Supreme Court to reveal the names of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing minors - and of the victims - the Archdiocese of St. Louis said Wednesday that it would comply.


The identities would be provided only to lawyers pressing a lawsuit and would be sealed from the public.


The Archdiocese had stubbornly fought such a disclosure, blowing past several deadlines set by St. Louis Circuit Judge Robert Dierker and taking its appeal to the state's top court. The only recourse would have been to try to get the U.S. Supreme Court to accept the case for review.

The ruling, issued by a full panel of judges, will open new doors to lawyers who sued in 2011 on behalf of a woman, then 19. She said she was sexually abused from 1997 to 2001 by the since-defrocked Rev. Joseph Ross, who previously had been convicted of abusing a minor.


The lawyers are trying to show that church officials had a pattern of ignoring warning signs and of shuffling abusive priests to other parishes, rather than addressing allegations and preventing future abuses. 

Read more

A Strange Catholic Conscience
Another Voice     Feb.7, 2014

Shaela Evenson, an unmarried teacher at a Roman Catholic middle school in Montana, has been fired after getting pregnant. According to the middle school Principal Kerrie Hellyer, she was an "excellent teacher" and taught sixth, seventh, and eighth-grade literature and physical education for just over eight years.


Wonderfully pro-life that Catholic school. What a strong and lasting teaching moment for those young boys and girls. I wonder what they would have done with a pregnant and unwed Virgin Mary.


Patrick Haggarty, the superintendent of Catholic schools for the Diocese of Helena, fired Evenson on January 10, after learning about her pregnancy. It takes years to dismiss a sexually abusive priest, with a history of raping boys and girls. But just a matter of days to dump an exemplary teacher because she is unmarried and pregnant. 

Read more

Religious Groups Join, Fight Gay Marriage in Court
Brady McCombs       Feb.11, 2014

A coalition of religious organizations has come together to urge a federal appeals court to uphold same-sex marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma, saying unions between a man and woman are best for children, families and society.


The argument was made in a 42-page brief filed Monday afternoon to a Denver-based court reviewing cases that could reverse gay-marriage bans in Utah and Oklahoma.


Lawyers for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops wrote the brief, which was signed by the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod. 

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Lesbian Couple Denied Communion At Mother's Funeral 
Huffington Post        Feb.5, 2014

Carol Parker was devastated by her mother's death-- but what happened next proved just as painful to her and her partner of 20 years, Josie Martin.


Loyal members of Columban Catholic Church in Chillicothe, Missouri, for over 12 years, the couple received a phone call from the priest, Father Benjamin Kneib, after an obituary listed her as leaving behind a son, a daughter, and her daughter's partner. Kneib informed them that they would not be able to take communion at the Dec. 30 funeral, reports the St. Joseph News-Press.

. . . .
Parker and Martin expressed their sadness that Kneib would choose to compound their grief by preventing them from participating fully in the funeral. "It was very important to me, my last opportunity to worship here at the church with her," Parker said to Fox 4 News. In a show of solidarity, most attending the funeral chose not to take communion, she told the News-Press

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Newark archbishop's future retirement home undergoing a $500K addition
Mark Mueller/      Feb.17, 2014

The 4,500-square-foot home sits on 8.2 wooded acres in the hills of Hunterdon County. With five bedrooms, three full bathrooms, a three-car garage and a big outdoor pool, it's valued at nearly $800,000, records show.


But it's not quite roomy enough for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers.

Myers, who has used the Franklin Township house as a weekend residence since the archdiocese purchased it in 2002, is building a three-story, 3,000-square-foot addition in anticipation of his retirement in two years, The Star-Ledger found. He will then move in full-time, a spokesman for the archbishop said.


The new wing, now just a wood frame, will include an indoor exercise pool, a hot tub, three fireplaces, a library and an elevator, among other amenities, according to blueprints and permits filed with the Franklin Township building department.


The price tag, the records show, will be a minimum of a half million dollars, a figure that does not include architectural costs, furnishings and landscaping. 

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Commission finds incriminatory evidence against 'Bishop of Bling': report
Deutsche Welle (DW)       Feb.10, 2014

According to the report in the online edition of Spiegel on Sunday, the internal church commission investigating Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst has found documentary evidence that could lead to legal proceedings against him.


Among other things, previously unknown documents bearing the bishop's signature had been found in a "secret apartment" in the central German city of Limburg, the magazine reported.

The report said the evidence gathered by the committee showed that the costs for building and renovations at the episcopal headquarters in Limburg, which the bishop is said to have lied about, were even higher than the 31 million euros ($42 million) that have been estimated. That cost that was already eight times higher than originally planned. 

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Pope Francis first wanted to be named after Pope John XXIII
David Gibson     Feb.11, 2014

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who reportedly ran second to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger in that conclave, later told a fellow cardinal that if he had been elected then he would have taken the name "John" after Pope John XXIII.

. . . .

"John, I would have called myself John, like the Good Pope; I would have been completely inspired by him," Bergoglio told Cardinal Francesco Marchisano, according to a new book by longtime Italian Vaticanista Gianluca Barile.

. . . . 

But Bergoglio also changed his mind on what name he would take, and instead of becoming Pope John XXIV he became the first Pope Francis in history.


But Francis still frequently cites Pope John, an icon to progressive Catholics, and he will formally declare John XXIII a saint in April.

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Hog wild! Pope's Harley gear nabs record prices
Carol Glatz        Feb.6 2014

A Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide that Pope Francis put up for auction went for a hefty $326,500 today, demolishing its pre-sale appraisal of $16,000.


The record sale was the hit of the day as hundreds of bidders and spectators attending the Paris auction "erupted into applause when the hammer came down," according to the Bonhams auction house.


Bidding was fierce, Bonhams said, and lasted a full six minutes. The 2013 autographed bike went to "a private European buyer" who was bidding over the telephone.


A leather Harley jacket, also signed by the pope, sold for $77,644 to someone "overseas," meaning, not in Europe. A pre-bid estimate had put the 110th anniversary special edition XL jacket at between $1,400 and $2,000.

. . . .

All proceeds will go to benefit the renovation of Caritas Rome's Fr. Luigi di Liegro shelter and soup kitchen. The money looks like it will provide the final funding needed for the project, which had been $270,000 short of its target. 

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Francis is presented with a chocolate statue of himself at the Vatican
Daily Mail Reporter     Feb.6, 2014

Chocolate popeWith Lent just a few weeks away, chocolate may be among the treats Pope Francis plans to give up for the religious fasting.  


So he may want to start tucking into this chocolate gift now - a life-sized version of himself moulded out of 1.5tons of cocoa from Atitlan, in Guatemala, central America.


The Pope was presented with the unique chocolate statue of himself in the Vatican by a group of 20 amateurs chocolatiers yesterday.

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After 37 Years, Albany Turns - Hubbard Retires, Brooklynite Succeeds
Rocco Palmo      Feb.11, 2014

At Roman Noon this Tuesday, the Pope retired Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany all of three months after the native son reached the canonical age of 75. Named the New York capital's ninth bishop at the tender age of 38, Hubbard will be succeeded by Msgr Edward Scharfenberger, 65, a priest of Brooklyn currently serving as a pastor and episcopal vicar of Queens. 
. . . .

Alongside the capital nod, Francis named Msgr Andrzej Zglejszewski, 52, the Polish-born co-chancellor and director of worship in Rockville Centre, as auxiliary bishop of the 1.4 million-member Long Island diocese. 

. . . .

The Big Story, however, is Albany. Beyond being the longest-serving Stateside prelate in the same post, Hubbard's retirement brings the era of the "Jadot bishops" to its end as the last of the young nominees of Paul VI's polarizing legate to Washington from 1973-80 hands over his chair.  

. . . .

With the Albany file handled in unusually rapid time, six Stateside Latin-church diocese currently remain vacant, with all of four others led by a prelate serving past the retirement age.  

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More protests over Koch gift to Catholic University of America
David Gibson      Feb.11, 2014

A group of leading Catholic activists and academics has renewed criticism of Catholic University of America over a large gift from the billionaire industrialist and conservative funder Charles Koch, and over a school official's statements that seem to endorse Koch's questioning of climate change and the right of public workers to unionize. 


In a letter sent on Monday (Feb. 10) to CUA President John Garvey and Andrew Abela, dean of CUA's new business school, more than 50 Catholic signatories said Charles Koch and his brother, David, "have a clear political and ideological agenda.


The Kochs' libertarian-leaning positions, they said, "are in direct conflict with traditional Catholic values." 

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Santo Domingo Archbishop calls Jesuit human rights activist a "scoundrel"
Rebel Girl      Feb.12, 2014

This time, López Rodríguez has launched his vitriol against Fr. Mario Serrano, a young Jesuit priest who has been active in defending the rights of Dominican born children of undocumented Haitian immigrants.

During a Mass he celebrated January 26 at the close of a meeting of the Dominican Conference of Men and Women Religious, the cardinal lambasted the Jesuits in general and Serrano in particular, calling the priest a "sinvergüenza" -- a "scoundrel" -- and accusing him of devoting himself to leftist groups, talking nonsense, and doing whatever he pleased (see video below). 

As his fellow clergy looked away, embarrassed by the outburst, the cardinal turned his guns on the Jesuit superiors. After explaining that he had been educated by the order, López Rodríguez screamed, "You have to respect me in this country, although this gentleman [Serrano] thinks he's the supreme pontiff. I'm very bothered. Morally, I don't agree with a priest going around publicly talking nonsense. Here's the Jesuit superior. Tell him, 'Shut up. That's all. Who are you to go around talking nonsense? Defending the Haitians...(inaudible).'" 

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New Spanish cardinal to be probed for 'anti-gay' incitement
AFP     Feb.6, 2014

Spanish prosecutors have opened an investigation into newly chosen Spanish Cardinal Fernando Sebastian Aguilar after a gay-rights group accused him of hate speech for calling homosexuality a "defect".


The public prosecutor for the southern province of Malaga, Juan Carlos Lopez, said he had opened a preliminary inquiry "to clarify whether the allegations constitute a criminal offence," according to a document obtained Wednesday by AFP.


Sebastian, who is close to Pope Francis, is one of 19 new cardinals chosen by the pontiff last month to be officially appointed on February 22.

. . . .
Activists have launched a petition to the pope to withdraw his nomination of Sebastian, which the website hosting it,, says has gathered 20,000 signatures.

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Murphy-O'Connor wants reforms to Confession to address decline as author says children should be exempt
James Macintyre     Feb.13 2014

Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O'Connor believes that Confession is in need of significant reform and should be discussed at a special synod on the sacraments.


The Archbishop Emeritus of Westminster has called for "proper reform to the sacrament" and says Confession has not received "serious reflection by any authoritative people within the Church" despite declining numbers of Catholics making use of the sacrament.


The remarks come in a private letter to the Cambridge academic and author John Cornwell, who is campaigning for a ban on childhood Confession and who sent the cardinal a new book he has written on the sacrament.


Mr Cornwell, who says he was the victim as a boy of sexual solicitation by a confessor, has written an open letter to Pope Francis calling for a ban.


A spokeswoman for the cardinal stressed that he was not endorsing an end to childhood Confession, had not read Mr Cornwell's book when he replied to the author, and in no way associated himself with the letter to the Pope. 

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I know
Pope renews passport as a regular Argentine
Pope Francis fingerprinted - to renew passport
Michael Warren     Feb.17, 2014
Pope renews passport as a regular Argentine  

Pope Francis may be the head of the Vatican state, but he's not giving up the right to travel as just another Argentine citizen.


The leader of the Roman Catholic Church has renewed his Argentine passport and national identity card, and Argentina's Vatican envoy told The Associated Press on Monday that the pope insisted on paying for the documents himself.


Renewing Argentine passports and identity cards usually cost about $55 at the official exchange rate.

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Rev. Daniel Harrington; taught theology
Bryan Marquard            Feb 16, 2014 

DanielHarrington SJ

"He was the most important chronicler of biblical theology in the past 50 years," said the Rev. James Keenan, a Boston College theology professor who taught with the Rev. Harrington and, with him, published two books. "Everything for him was the Bible."
Rev. Harrington, who taught for many years at the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, and more recently at the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry, died of prostate cancer Feb. 7 in the Campion Center in Weston. He was 73.
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Pope Francis greets engaged couples in St. Peter's Square on Valentine's Day 
Roselyn Franke     Feb.14, 2014

Pope Francis greeted engaged couples from all over the world on the feast of St. Valentine. The "Joy of 'Yes' Initiative" is an event that was organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family. Over 30,000 people gathered for the special audience with the Pope in St. Peters Square on a sunny Valentine's Day.

 . . . .

During the event, organised by the Pontifical Council for the Family, Pope Francis emphasised that living together is 'an art, a patient, beautiful and fascinating journey' which can be summarized in three words: please, thank you and sorry. 
 . . . .

Couples attending the event "received a small white pillow with Pope Fancis' signature and his papal crest; the cushion has two satin ribbons for securing wedding rings during the marriage ceremony."  

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God knows, scientists are more religious than you think
Cathy Lynn Grossman    Feb.16, 2014

In the land of science, it turns out, there nearly as many believers and churchgoers as there are to be found in the nation at large and many in each camp say science and faith have a lot to offer each other.


Sunday, the Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion program within the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) presented a major national study examining how these two worldviews do - and often don't - communicate.

. . . .

Among the findings: 

  • Nearly 36 percent of scientists have no doubt about God's existence 
  • 18 percent of scientists attended weekly religious services (compared with 20 percent of the general U.S. population 
  • 15 percent of scientists consider themselves very religious (19 percent) 
  • 13.5 percent of scientists read religious texts weekly (17 percent) 

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The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC) sees its origin in the recognition that the Spirit speaks through all in the Church, (as subsequently affirmed by Vatican II) which the Catholic hierarchy seemed to forget.  Far too many hierarchs refuse to listen to, or learn from, or acknowledge how the Spirit speaks and teaches through the universal experience and evolving understanding of the Christian communities, People of God.  

ARCC's Charter of Rights arose as a collective voice to inform Roman Catholic leaders and administrators of the rights of Catholics to be heard and respected,  as they fulfill their responsibilities in the church. 


Since the 1980s, ARCC has made much progress. But teaching and learning remain an ongoing process and ARCC's role continues to be an informed and strong support in this evolution, giving expression to the voice of the People of God and facilitating their listening and learning.   


To this end ARCC would offer church leaders the wisdom of Catholics in the pew, who are, after all, by far the largest group within the Roman Catholic Church. ARCC urges all Catholic leaders to listen and learn rather than repeating  answers to questions that Catholics in the pew stopped asking.  They know that failed marriages are a fact of life, and more often than not, re-married Catholics are strong, loving, stable, and grace-filled, successful in the sight of God. They know that the sacraments are not rewards for virtuous living but food for sinners in their life's journey. Catholics wonder if church leaders really understand this. 


They know that one's conscience is a reliable guide in family planning and responsible parenthood. They doubt that church leaders recognize this when they continue to understand  human sexuality as exclusively male/female activity when couples know from lived experience that sexuality involves so much more  - a broad spectrum of human life, attraction, affection, intimacy, and love.  They know that the use of contraception is not always irresponsible.  They know that supporting candidates for office is no longer a one-issue concern.


In months to come, ARCC - the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church - will endeavor to inform and challenge all in the church to be more open to hear the voice of the Spirit speaking through, and to, all in the Church. The following is an on-going list of sources where Catholics and others express a more prophetic, faith-filled voice, than that ordinarily heard from the hierarchy. 

ArCC resources.


ARCC can earn a penny every time you search the Internet. donates half its revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities its users designate. You use it just as you would any search engine.  Go to  and enter ARCC as the charity you want to support. Just 50 of us searching four times a day will raise about $730 in a year without anyone spending a dime.

New Translation of the Roman Missal


Strong words on missal translation from former ICEL chair  

Anthony Ruff, OSB      Feb.16, 2014


In the current issue of The Tablet (subscription required), there is an incisively-written letter to the editor from Bishop Maurice Taylor. Bishop Taylor was chair of the episcopal (i.e. bishops') board of the International Commission on the Liturgy (ICEL) during the difficult period when the Holy See did away with ICEL as it then existed, and restructured it as it took over the translation process.

Bishop Taylor expresses concern about

the requirement that the Holy See must approve (grant recognitio to) a translation before it can be lawfully used. Such a requirement is, in fact, not to be found in the relevant document of the Second Vatican Council. ... What unfortunately happened was that, within a few weeks of the constitution being promulgated, the Holy See issued a motu proprio which states (wrongly) that the Vatican Council requires the Holy See to approve not only a decision to translate but also the resultant translation. ...

He also is concerned that

although translations of the Missal for use in the liturgy need the approval of "the competent local authority" (bishops' conferences), the English translation which we now use does not seem, after the alterations made by the Congregation for Divine Worship and its advisory group Vox Clara, to have been formally approved by the bishops' conferences.


Upcoming Events



Tony Flannery 

Redemptorist priest from Ireland
'A Question of Conscience' 

 Sat. 22nd Feb. 2014     3.00- 5.00pm

St. Andrews, Waterloo, Short Street 
(opposite Young Vic)
Entrance free- donations at meeting
Tony has been under interdict  from Rome for over a year because of his views on women, gay rights etc. Tony will talk about his negative experiences with Rome and his fears that he will never be able to function as a priest again if the interdict is not lifted. 



Pope Francis and the Future of the Global Church
Tuesday, February 25, 2014   6:30 p.m.   
 Boston College, Gasson Hall, Room 100 

Free and Open to the Public


As the anniversary of Pope Francis' election approaches, this panel brings together four experts of diverse experience and perspective for a robust discussion. Topics will include inter-religious dialogue, the new evangelization, the status of women and women religious, the Jesuits, liberation theology, the Church and the global south, the Curia and Francis' continuities and discontinuities with his recent successors.  

* Francesco Cesareo, President, Assumption College
* Richard R. Gaillardetz, Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology, Theology Department
* Mar Muñoz-Visoso, Executive Director, Secretariat for Cultural Diversity in the Church, USCCB
Moderator: M. Shawn Copeland, Professor, Theology Department  

Event URL 
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 



 Membership options:

 Life $500     ARCC-Angel $100     Regular $50  
Senior $25     Student $15