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Building a Civilization of Truth and Love
JAD     Jun.20, 2014

On Thursday, June 19, 2014, San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone, was a key participant in the second March for Marriage in Washington DC, leading supporters of "traditional marriage" along a half-mile route that concluded at our U.S. Supreme Court building. On that site last year, two major Supreme Court decisions encouraged federal judges in eight U.S. states to overturn existing same-sex marriage bans and in another four states to issue rulings in favor of same-sex marriage.


Archbishop Cordileone, his Roman Catholic Church, the Mormons, and Evangelical Protestants continue to strongly protest same-sex marriage as immoral and socially destructive. Nevertheless, American support for same-sex marriage, even among U.S. Catholics, increases each year.


A solid majority of people, who identify as contemporary religious mainliners, now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry. In a survey the Pew Research Center conducted in February 2014, 62% of mainline U.S. Protestants said they now favor same-sex marriage. Just 34% favored same-sex marriage a decade earlier. Roman Catholics? Today at least 58% of white U.S. Roman Catholics and 56% of Hispanic Catholics favor allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry. (Some studies say the support for same-sex marriage among American Catholics is now at 70%.) A majority (83%) of Jewish Americans also favor legalizing same-sex marriage. Vox populi vox Dei? The infallibility of the People of God?


In his March for Marriage speech, titled "Building a Civilization of Truth and Love," Archbishop Cordileone stressed that marriage is "a key to individual and societal flourishing." Indeed. Perhaps that is a strong argument as well for same-sex marriage?


"No justice, no peace, no end to poverty, without a strong culture of marriage and the family," the Archbishop of San Francisco emphasized. I could not agree more. I doubt that they were; but perhaps they should have been cheering for him in The Castro when he concluded: "This noble cause is a call to love we cannot abandon, that we will not give up on, and that in the end we know will triumph." Well  yes ...... Marriage is good for gays as well, I think. It is a noble cause and truly a call to love.


As an historian, I know that across the centuries nature of marriage has varied according to different cultures, different religious traditions, and different times. It has found social importance as an institution because it contributes to societal stability and because it enhances intimate and sexual interpersonal relationships. Marriage as well can create an environment of support and caring which is ideal for child-rearing.


A strong rhetorical theme among opponents to same-sex marriage is that children, for their healthy development, need "a father and a mother." (They forget of course that some fathers and mothers can be absolute monsters.) After doing research on values formation and development for about forty years, I am convinced that what children need most of all for healthy human development is loving parents.


And so once again, at all levels in the church, let's drop the venomous, judgmental language. Let's learn to listen and to grow and to work together. And yes, let's learn how we all can build a civilization of truth and love.

Wedding rings
Other things we have been reading  
Daniel Burke       Jun.18, 2014

A Vatican spokesman denied reports on Wednesday that Pope Francis is ill, saying that the curtailment of his public summer schedule is common for popes.


"There is no sickness whatsoever," said the Rev. Thomas Rosica, a consultant to the Vatican press office. "If there was, we would be open about that and asking people to pray for him."

Francis made his usual public appearance in St. Peter's Square on Wednesday morning and is planning a trip to South Korea from August 13 to 18.


But the Pope will curtail public appearances in St. Peter's Square during July, as he did last year, and will scale back his daily celebration of Masses at Casa Santa Marta for the summer.

Read more

The Fall of the Vice-Pope
Ingrid D. Rowland       Jun.16, 2014
Bergoglio & Bertone
Cardinals Bergoglio & Bertone in 2007
  . . . .
On May 19, the glossy, gossipy German newspaper Bild Zeitung printed a report that made immediate headlines in Italy: Vatican prosecutors had begun to investigate allegations that Cardinal Bertone, as the Holy See's Number Two from 2006 to 2013, had embezzled 15 million euros ($20 million) from Vatican accounts, apparently to benefit an Italian television producer, a former director of the state broadcaster RAI named Ettore Bernabei, with deep connections to Italy's conservative establishment and a longtime membership in the powerful Catholic organization Opus Dei. The transfer of these funds allegedly occurred in December 2012. The Vatican press corps swiftly denied that a "criminal investigation" was underway, and Bertone himself insisted that the deal had followed "all the rules."
In May 2012, tensions escalated still further: the papers from the Viganò affair and other confidential documents were published and analyzed in a book by journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi, Sua Santità (His Holiness); Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, head of the Vatican bank, was deposed from office after a vote of no confidence by the institution's governing board (whose five members were themselves fired this month); and the Pope's butler, Paolo Gabriele, was arrested as the probable source of the Vatileaks papers and confined to a room on the Vatican grounds. In October 2012, a Vatican court convicted Gabriele of grand theft and sentenced him to jail. By December, however, when the transfer of monies is said to have occurred, Bertone could have felt more confident about his position within the Church; even the pardon Pope Benedict extended to his former butler was only a partial pardon, for Paolo Gabriele remains exiled forever from Vatican territory. 

But the timing of the presumptive transaction is, to say the least, interesting. It came at the very end of the remarkable year in which confidential documents from Pope Benedict's private office began leaking to the press, revealing power struggles within the Curia and suggestions of widespread corruption within the Church. In these "Vatileaks" documents, Cardinal Bertone figured prominently: he had personally reproved the general secretary of the Vatican governorate, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, for reporting detailed evidence of nepotism, cronyism, and crooked property deals within the Vatican, and soon Pope Benedict had transferred the whistle-blowing prelate from the Vatican to Washington.

. . . .

Then the unthinkable happened. At the end of February 2013, Pope Benedict announced that he would be retiring before Easter, effectively forcing a quick conclave, and just as effectively putting a lid on Bertone's career.   

. . . .

Within a few months, Pope Francis had named his own secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, whose residence in the Vatican guesthouse, the Casa Santa Marta, is as modest as the present pontiff's, and Bertone retired from the Vatican's foreign service; in fact he retired slightly ahead of schedule, miffed by the new Pope's failure to defend him against the charges of corruption that had begun to emerge with Vatileaks. In December, when Bertone turns eighty, he will be compelled by law to leave the several Vatican congregations to which he still belongs as an active member. 

. . . .  

Massimo Franco, a journalist for Corriere della Sera, has suggested that Benedict resigned in full awareness that Jorge Mario Bergoglio might succeed him, since the Argentine cardinal was runner-up at the last conclave. The fact that the future pope failed to appear on most of the lists of papabili circulating before the conclave of 2013 shows how many journalists were covering the Vatican from personal positions sympathetic to Bertone and his cohorts (and Bertone, who as chamberlain oversaw the logistics of the conclave, certainly entertained high hopes of becoming pontiff himself). 


Both these prelates and these reporters failed to recognize how negatively the economic crisis, the profound corruption of the Italian state, and the power struggles within the Vatican struck the great outside world as well as many people within the Catholic Church itself. Indeed, Benedict does not seem discomfited at all by the changes Francis has put into effect. The old pope may have been an old fox.

Read more

Vatican acts on trafficking initiative by pledging to slavery-proof supply chains
Christopher Lamb     Jun.19, 2014

The Vatican has pledged to eradicate modern slavery from all of its supply chains following a meeting between Church officials and the Archbishop of Canterbury.

. . . . 

It is understood that the Holy See is undertaking internal checks to make sure it does not have suppliers who use trafficked labour.


After a meeting on countering trafficking with Archbishop Justin Welby on Sunday, Cardinal George Pell, Prefect of the Vatican's Secretariat for the Economy, said: "it is something we will look at. But I couldn't say with any clarity that we are free."


The Global Freedom Network is supported by both Archbishop Welby and the Pope Francis, and featured strongly in the former's visit to Rome last weekend. 

Read more

Pope Francis refuses to meet with migrants at Santa Maria Maggiore
Hannah Roberts    Jun.20, 2014

Pope Francis has refused to meet with immigrants who have taken shelter in a landmark Roman church in case it is seen as a political gesture.


Around 120 people, mostly migrants from North Africa and Eastern Europe, took refuge in the Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore two weeks ago. 


Having been evicted by Italian authorities from a squat outside Rome the fifty families asked Francis to grant them asylum in the Vatican. 

. . . .

But Francis, who went to pray at the Marian Basilica on his very first day in office as well has before his recent trip to the Holy Land, had the church cleared yesterday before his visit.

As he arrived in a procession to celebrate the Corpus Christi the migrants were relocated to the car park by Vatican Gendarmerie. 

. . . .
Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica said beforehand that the Holy See feared such a meeting might be "manipulated to put pressure on the Rome authorities". 

. . . .

The group have now left the Basilica. Some have accepted temporary accommodation offered by the Italian authorities in a former exhibition hall but others say they will not live there because there is no light or water and other inhabitants have been diagnosed with tuberculosis.  

Read more

Pope to legalizing recreational drugs: Just say no
Nicole Winfield     Jun.20 2014

Pope Francis condemned the legalization of recreational drugs as a flawed and failed experiment on Friday, lending his voice to a debate which is raging from the U.S. to Uruguay and beyond.


Francis told delegates to a drug-enforcement conference in Rome that even limited attempts to legalize recreational drugs "are not only highly questionable from a legislative standpoint, but they fail to produce the desired effects."


Likewise, providing addicts with drugs doesn't solve the problem and is "rather a veiled means of surrendering to the phenomenon," he said. 

Read more

Cardinal Kasper 'hurt' by German Protestant Church
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt       Jun.19 2014

The former President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, Cardinal Walter Kasper, has sharply criticised the German Protestant Church's failure to mention the historic "Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification" of 1999 in its recent position paper on the theological foundation of the Reformation.


The position paper, which was published last month, "doesn't mention the 1999 Joint Declaration with a single word. I could hardly believe it. That really hurt me," Cardinal Kasper said in Berlin last week. The failure to mention the 1999 Declaration did "not bode well" for the Reformation Anniversary coming up in 2017, he underlined, and added that he hoped this was not the German Protestant Church's last word on the matter.


The 1999 Declaration is seen as a pivotal consensus document between the Catholic and Lutheran Churches. Essentially it says that Lutherans and Catholics explain justification in different ways but share the same basic understanding. 

Read more

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson Can't Remember If He Knew Raping Kids Is a Crime
 Ray Downs       Jun.10, 2014

St. Louis' "Most Reverend" cloaked man says that back in the wild and crazy '80s, he didn't know sexually abusing a child was against the law.


The comments came during a deposition for a lawsuit against Thomas Adamson, a former priest who is accused of molesting more than a dozen kids in the Minnesota area during the 1980s. Carlson was the chancellor of the Minnesota archdiocese during those years, and attorneys representing the plaintiffs called upon him to comment about what he knew.

And Carlson basically said he knew so little, that he didn't even know raping kids was a crime. 


Archbishop Carlson on criminal child sexual abuse
Archbishop Carlson on criminal child sexual abuse
 Anderson: "Archbishop, you knew it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid."

Carlson: "I'm not sure I knew whether it was a crime or not. I understand today it's a crime."

Anderson: "When did you first discern it was a crime for an adult to engage in sex with a kid?"

Carlson: "I don't remember."

Anderson: "When did you first discern that it was a crime for a priest to engage in sex with a kid who he had under his control?"

Carlson: "I don't remember that either."

Anderson: "Do you have any doubt in your mind that you knew that in the '70s?"

Carlson: "I don't remember if I did or didn't."

Anderson: "In 1984, you are a bishop, an auxiliary bishop in the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. You knew it was a crime then, right?"
Carlson: "I'm not sure if I did or didn't."

. . . .

Carlson's memory is pretty bad, according to Anderson. The Minnesota attorney has deposed Carlson fifteen times over the years, but memories are continually out of reach.

"He said 193 times...'I do not remember,'" Anderson says, according to CBS Minnesota.

Read more

Old Man Defense
John Chuchman       June, 2014
Old Man Defense
OK, fellow Bishops,
We all agree that
When testifying,
We will all say
"I can't remember."
It's fool-proof; 
We can't be convicted of memory loss.



The mistaken defense of Archbishop Carlson
Phil Lawler        Jun.13, 2014

With his customary bravado, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League claims that "Archbishop Carlson Has Been Framed" and says that criticism of the archbishop's testimony (including mine, presumably) can be attributed to "malice, ignorance and laziness." Strong words. Let's see if they hold up. 


Examining the transcript of the deposition, Donohue notes several times when the archbishop spoke of sexual molestation in terms that suggested it was a crime. Donohue concludes that in light of that recorded testimony, "it is simply impossible to believe that Carlson did not know it was against the law for an adult to have sex with a minor."


But that's exactly the point! No reasonable person thought that the archbishop was ignorant of the law. That's why it was so shocking that the archbishop said he was ignorant. Let's be clear here. The scandal did not arise because Archbishop Carlson didn't know the law. The scandal arose because, under oath, he said he didn't know the law.

. . . .

Bill Donohue has spent years defending the Church against her critics. His loyalty and his zest for intellectual combat are admirable. But when a prelate's statements soar beyond the limits of credulity, it is no longer a service to the Church to defend them. The truth has higher claims.

My point - not just in my recent comment on this case, but in all the work I have done in the past decade, most notably in The Faithful Departed - is that when Church leaders deny or distort or camouflage the truth, they harm the Body of Christ, and love for the faith impels us to correct them. 

Read more

Return of vaccine trial documents amounted to 'further abuse'
Patsy McGarry       Jun.12, 2014

The return in 2012 of documents collated by the vaccine trial division of the Ryan Commission to relevant pharmaceutical firms, religious congregations and State agencies has been criticised as "further abuse" of children in institutional settings used "as guinea pigs".


Independent TD Denis Naughten also pointed out that "the trials that took place in 1973 were approved by the National Drugs Advisory Board and a licence was issued to Wellcome for a two-year period, yet these trials were still ongoing in January 1976."


The trials were suspended in 2003 following legal action.


In a written reply to Mr Naughten this week, Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said he had approved the return of the vaccine module documents to their original sources and understood this had been done.


He also confirmed that he was preparing legislation to retain the records of the Commission itself, the Redress Board and the Residential Institutions Abuse Review Committee in the National Archives where they would be sealed for 75 years, following which access would be restricted. Consultation on this with survivor groups and other stakeholders was planned, he said. 

Read more

Four in five Irish priests say they want new Missal translation revised or scrapped, bishops told
Sarah Mac Donald      Jun.13, 2014

A new survey of Irish priests' attitudes to the new Missal has shown that the majority are either dissatisfied or very dissatisfied with it and 80 per cent want it revised or scrapped.


The "Survey of Clergy: Views on the New Missal 2014" was commissioned by the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) and conducted among a random sample of 191 of the Irish Church's 4, 300 priests between 31 March and 11 April this year.


Close to two thirds of those surveyed said they were either dissatisfied (33.5 per cent) or very dissatisfied (27.2 per cent) with the Missal. This compared with just a quarter who were either very satisfied (4.7 per cent) or satisfied (19.9 per cent). Even among those who were satisfied, over half wanted to see a revised Missal within a few years. 

Read more

Irish priests calls for ordination of women and marriage in Church
Jane Walsh       Jun.10, 2014

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), in Ireland, says the church must ordain women and allow priests to marry in order to survive.


Pointing out that there are only two priests under the age of 40 in the Dublin archdiocese, Father Sean McDonagh says the Church is "facing an implosion in terms of vocations to the priesthood."

. . . .

He continued, "Women have to be a very major part of the future of ministry in the church. When you look around the church on a Sunday, who are doing most of the roles? Women."

The association is also calling on men who left the priesthood to marry to be called back to ministry.

. . . .

McDonagh said it is the obligation of the Irish bishops to raise these issues in Rome and added that it is not an issue unique to Ireland. He also noted that Pope Francis has indicated that he is open to such suggestions.


McDonagh said that while praying for the numbers of vocations to increase is "fine" the Catholic Church needs a plan. 

Read more

Lightning strike causes fire which completely destroys local family's home
Angela Maria DeJesus     Jun.17, 2014
Gene Fisher

Eugene Fisher, who served as head of the Catholic-Jewish relations for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for 30 years, holds one of only a few salvageable keepsakes from his home - an award given to him by the Brazilian Catholic-Jewish community. A lightning strike Monday evening sparked a fire that completely destroyed the Fisher family's home.  



  • The Red Cross provided the family with three nights of lodging, but the Fishers still need help. Their biggest concern at this time is providing for their surviving horses, which are the foundation of the family's business. They also need water for themselves, so they can continue outdoor care for their horses, help maintaining the grounds around the barn and help finding a nearby furnished rental. 
  • Readers can contact the Fisher family via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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Bishops focus on religious liberty, election document, upcoming synod
Carol Zimmermann       Jun.12, 2014

During their June 11-13 spring general assembly in New Orleans, the nation's Catholic bishops voted to extend their Ad Hoc Committee on Religious Liberty and to approve work on a limited revision of their quadrennial document aimed at guiding Catholics in election decisions.

They also were urged to promote and support Catholic families by paying close attention to the upcoming synod on the family at the Vatican and to promote the World Meeting of Families next year in Philadelphia.

The bishops heard about the progress made and the work that still needs to be done on efforts to protect children from sexual abuse. They received a report about their aid to typhoon victims in the Philippines and were advised about the work being done to make sure religious educational materials conform to the Catechism of the Catholic Church. 

Read more

Archbishop Fiorenza: "Bishops have a lot to learn from Pope Francis." 
John Gehring       Jun.17, 2014

Joseph Fiorenza, Archbishop Emeritus of the 1.3 million-member Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, is a former president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (1998-2001). A leading social justice voice in the Church, Fiorenza spoke with Catholic Program Director John Gehring about the ways Pope Francis is setting a new tone and shaking up the Catholic conversation.


In your opinion, what has been the most important change Pope Francis has brought to the Church and why are most people responding to him so positively?


The Pope seems to want a Church that is inclusive and out in the world, a Church going to the peripheries, a Church that is involved in the truly human problems that are affecting so many, especially the problems of poverty. He is also demonstrating a desire to enter into dialogue with an open spirit, not only among Catholics, but all people of goodwill who want the world to be more fair and just and peaceful. And even with those who may be our opponents he wants to find points where we can agree. Even when we don't agree we should show respect and dignity. Bishops have a lot to learn from him, especially his lifestyle. He has made a deliberate effort to distance himself from the imperial court of Rome. Bishops have to take a close look at ourselves to see how we can live more simply.

. . . .

There is a lot of anticipation for the October Synod at the Vatican. Do you think there will be changes regarding the availability of Sacraments for divorced and remarried Catholics?


We should be guided by the spirit of the Gospel in a way that upholds the dignity or marriage. Hopefully, there will be a consideration of ways to have a path that includes these people (divorced and remarried) in the life of the Church but in a way that is not in conflict with the Church's teachings on marriage.


Pope Francis has fully embraced the teachings of the Second Vatican Council for the laity to take an active role in Church life. What role do you see the laity playing in implementing the Francis agenda?


I hope they will be up front and strong about implementing that agenda in their parishes and dioceses. The "Gospel of Joy" can be their diocesan plan. If that becomes the starting point I think lay people will make a very positive contribution.


Some Catholics have expressed disappointment that Pope Francis has allowed the oversight of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious to continue. Are you hopeful for a positive resolution in that tense situation between Rome and women religious?


I think if Pope Francis had stopped the process it would have been perceived as him disagreeing with Benedict so I'm not really surprised the oversight (of LCWR) continued. But my hope is there is much more dialogue going on, and I hope they have a chance to meet with Pope Francis. Hopefully, there will be more voices coming forward among bishops who want to get this issue resolved. The Church has grown and been strengthened in this country because of women religious. They have been doing what Pope Francis has been talking about in the streets of the world, in the prisons.  They have done that far more effectively than anyone else in the church.

Read more

ATF Press     Jun.19, 2014

At least four Australian bishops have banned sales of a book detailing the abuse of one of their number by the Vatican.


Bishop Bill Morris's "Benedict, Me and the Cardinals Three" is banned from sale in Catholic bookshops in Toowoomba and is only available on request in Adelaide's Catholic bookshop.

The book by Morris, the Emeritus Bishop of Toowoomba, details the process by which he was fired by the Pope. He was asked by Pope Benedict in 2009 to resign but refused and took early retirement. The book includes appendices of the correspondence with the Vatican officials and the Pope. 


The day after the cancelled launch the publisher, Mr. Regan, delivered copies of the book that had been ordered by Toowoomba's Catholic bookshop only to have phone call an hour later informing him that the current Bishop, Robert McGuckin, did not wish copies of the book to be sold from the bookshop. The book will now be available through Dymock's Bookshop in Toowoomba.


Two weeks before this the Archbishop of Adelaide, Philip Wilson, who was head of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference when Bishop Morris was dismissed from his position in Toowoomba, sent out a letter to all Catholic parishes in Adelaide. Archbishop Wilson's notice was regarding a letter, which had been sent to all parishes by the publisher, advising of the Adelaide launch on Wednesday 25 June by Jesuit Fr Frank Brennan.


Archbishop Philip Wilson informed parishes that the letter sent out by the publisher advising of the Adelaide launch had been sent out without his permission or authority.   


It is expected large numbers will attend all launches around the country. 

Read more

Interview: Sacked Catholic Bishop Bill Morris  

Book tells Nebraska's Catholic horror story
Robert McClory       Jun.18, 2014

By Rachel Pokora

Published by Paragon House, $19.95 

Crisis of Catholic Authority is a kind of ecclesiastical horror story. It relates what can happen when an autocratic hierarch chooses to exercise his supreme, punitive power over some of his subjects. No one on this earth will restrain him, neither the priests of his diocese, nor his fellow bishops in the U.S., nor the high authorities in Rome, not even the pope himself. And like some ancient gothic curse, this awesome penalty has acquired a life of its own, continuing in full force for 18 years, outliving the resignation of the bishop who pronounced it, still in effect to this day and into the foreseeable future.


The bishop is Fabian Bruskewitz, who ruled the diocese of Lincoln, Neb., from 1992 to 2012. Those immediately affected by excommunication in 1996 were some 45 members of the Nebraska chapter of the Call to Action organization who happened to live in the Lincoln diocese. They were given one month to resign from the accursed group, at which time the penalty would automatically go into effect. Also presumably affected were any other Call to Action members who would move to Lincoln in the future without renouncing their membership.

. . . .

Author Rachel Pokora narrates the story clearly, without rancor or bitterness. She is a professor of communications at Nebraska Wesleyan University who moved to Lincoln after Bruskewitz struck. She chose to join CTA's Nebraska chapter after experiencing the rigidity and extreme conservatism that marked parish life in the diocese, and she later served for several years as the chapter's president.

. . . .

Pokora goes to some lengths (almost half the book) to supply the backstory to this tale of frustration, sorrow and fortitude.

. . . . 

Pokora does a fine job of covering reactions from press, clergy and laity. Many observers thought this was an unfortunate gaffe that would be quickly settled, as cooler heads, especially among the bishop's episcopal colleagues, intervened. No such intervention was undertaken, and no bishop publicly reprimanded Bruskewitz for failure to present specific charges or give the accused an opportunity to reply.


Though some church authorities (including Fr. James Coriden, a noted canon law expert) declared the excommunication invalid on its face, the still embattled 50 or so members of CTA in Lincoln forged on in the name of justice. The leader, until his untimely death in 2013, was Jim McShane, a retired college professor with a heightened sensitivity to injustice. What he wanted was a hearing, a day in court. He did not get it.


Pokora recounts the details of appeals that were carefully prepared and sent between 1996 and 2007 -- to Bruskewitz, then to a wide swath of experts, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Vatican's Apostolic Signatura. Though Bruskewitz announced at one point that a Roman congregation had rejected CTA Nebraska's appeal, neither he nor anyone else would provide an official document asserting that as fact. And so the excommunication endures.


Clearly, the Nebraska story cries out for systemic change. As Patty Hawk, who joined the Nebraska chapter after the Bruskewitz edict and has since served as co-president of the national CTA board, observes in the book's pages, "It's not about making certain changes. ... It's about creating and evolving and nurturing a healthy church environment. We have to reform our way of thinking about the church, about community. We have to reform our way of thinking about hierarchy."  

Read more

U.S. Bishops Seek to Match Vatican in Shifting Tone
Michael Paulson      Jun.12, 2014

They are rethinking what kinds of houses they live in, and what kinds of cars they drive. They are wondering whether, in anticipation of the 2016 presidential election, they need to rewrite their advice to parishioners to make sure that poverty, and not just abortion, is discussed as a high-priority issue.   


And they are trying to get better about returning phone calls, reaching out to the disenchanted and the disenfranchised, and showing up at events.


Fifteen months into the pontificate of Pope Francis, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United States find themselves unsettled in ways large and small, revisiting both how they live and what they talk about in light of the new pope's emphasis on personal humility and economic justice. 

 . . . .

After several of their colleagues faced recent criticism for lavish houses, several bishops said in interviews that they were paying new attention to their own spending, mindful of the pope's decision to eschew the apostolic palace for a small suite in a Vatican guesthouse, and aware that their parishioners are concerned about how the church uses its money.  

Read more

Baltimore auxiliary bishop to become bishop in Springfield, Mass.
Danae King      Jun.19, 2014

Mitchell T. Rozanski will soon move to Springfield, Mass., to serve as bishop of that diocese, the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore announced Thursday.


Rozanski, 56, has been a priest and bishop in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for almost 30 years and served at several churches in the area. 

Read more

How Dying Became A Multibillion-Dollar Industry
Ben Hallman      Jun.19, 2014

Evelyn Maples' last day as a hospice patient wasn't anything like her family imagined when the nurse from Vitas Healthcare first pitched the service two months before.


On the morning of Dec. 31, 2011, Maples' daughter, Kathleen Spry, found her mom unconscious and gasping for breath, with her eyes rolled back in her head. Maples was at a Vitas inpatient facility on Merritt Island, 30 miles from the home the two women shared on Florida's east coast. No one from Vitas had called to warn the family that the woman everyone called "granny" was in sharp decline, Spry said. No one from Vitas had sought treatment for the blood infection that had made her severely ill, despite the family's standing request that she receive life-saving care in the event of a crisis. 


Frantic and near tears, Spry called her son, David Dunn, who demanded an ambulance. Maples was taken to a nearby hospital, where she recovered from the infection. But her fragile health was permanently compromised, her family claims. She died a month later.


Hospices exist to provide comfort to people who doctors determine are at the end of their lives, with six months or less to live. The paramount objective, according to the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, a trade association, is to make patients comfortable, with a focus "on enhancing the quality of remaining life."


But Maples' family claims she never belonged on hospice, and that she was recruited for the purpose of inflating the company's Medicare billings.

. . . .

Nearly half of all Medicare patients who die now do so as a hospice patient - twice as many as in 2000, government data shows.


But mounting evidence indicates that many providers are imperiling the health of patients in a drive to boost revenues and enroll more people, an investigation by The Huffington Post found.

Every day, hospice marketers descend on doctor's offices, rehab centers and hospitals. These workers have been known to rifle through patient logs at nursing stations, scramble to sign up what some in the industry call "last gasp" patients - people with just hours left to live - and even scuffle with each other in hospital corridors over the right to sign up dying people, according to current and former hospice employees and allegations made in federal lawsuits.

. . . .

Some people receiving the Medicare hospice benefit, which pays all hospice costs provided patients meet a set of criteria that indicate death is imminent, were healthy enough to play golf and go shopping, prosecutors have said. Since Medicare is government-funded, and pays nearly 90 percent of all hospice claims, taxpayers ultimately foot the bill for this kind of fraud.

Patient families, hospice whistleblowers and even federal prosecutors have claimed that hospices are compromising quality and endangering patients by enrolling people who don't qualify into a service custom-tailored for dying people.

. . . . 

Because of health confidentiality laws, the government will not release the names of those patients it says were mistreated while on hospice. But Maples' family, which is not engaged in any litigation against the company, agreed to share health records, phone records and other documentation they claim shows evidence of fraud and abuse.  

. . . .

Four independent hospice experts who also reviewed her records said the documents raised serious concerns about the medications Maples received, her overall care as a patient and whether she was ever appropriate for hospice at all.


"There is nothing in her medical history that made her eligible for hospice," said Ralph Capone, a Pennsylvania doctor who is a former hospice medical director. "This is a questionable admission at best and at worst an example of the most terrible kind of fraud."

. . . .  

Despite allegations like those made by Maples' family, and the surge in lawsuits, government examiners have not attempted to calculate either the human or dollar cost of fraud in any comprehensive way. The Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services also hasn't heeded calls by the inspector general that watches over Medicare to increase the frequency of hospice inspections.


A HuffPost analysis of Medicare survey data found that the average hospice hasn't undergone a full certification inspection in 4 ½ years. Nearly 22 percent of hospices, 866, haven't been inspected in more than six years. By contrast, nursing homes must be inspected under federal law every 15 months. 

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McAleese: asking bishops' advise on family life 'bonkers'
Joe Humphreys       Jun.17, 2014

Mary Mc Aleese Former president Mary McAleese has described as "completely bonkers" Pope Francis's plan to ask a synod of bishops to advise him on whether church teaching on the family should change.


She said there was "just something profoundly wrong and skewed" about asking "150 male celibates" to review the Catholic Church's teaching on family life.

Commenting on a planned October synod in Rome on the issue, she said: "The very idea of 150 people who have decided they are not going to have any children, not going to have families, not going to be fathers and not going to be spouses - so they have no adult experience of family life as the rest of us know it - but they are going to advise the pope on family life; it is completely bonkers."

. . . .

In a wide-ranging talk, the former president - who now lives in Rome where she is studying canon law - said Pope Francis had raised expectations of change but the odds of this happening were "very poor".


While the pope said he wanted a new role for women in the church, discussion of women priests was off the table, while other senior roles in the Vatican continue to be filled by men in a manner which lacked transparency.


"You don't need a new theology of women, you just need to end the old boys club," she said. 

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Mary McAleese: a thorn in the church's side?
Patsy McGarry       Jun.20, 2014

Some people have taken offence on behalf of Pope Francis because Mary McAleese, the former president, threw the word "bonkers" in his direction. One figure in the Catholic Church said it was unbecoming of a former head of state to speak this way. A letter writer to this paper described her remarks as terribly unfair.

. . . .  

It's doubtful whether the plain-speaking Pope Francis would take offence at any of this. He may disagree with the substance of what McAleese said, but its manner of expression would hardly faze him. After all, this is the pope who advised his clergy to get down and dirty among the people so they smell of them and who has spoken about the narcissism of popes and theologians.


As for McAleese, she is just being consistent.

. . . .
In a 2012 interview with Gay Byrne on RTÉ television she disclosed that, where the ban on women priests in the Catholic Church was concerned, she had written to John Paul II wondering whether, with her views, she was really a member of the church any more. 

She got "a lovely letter back on his behalf", assuring her she was indeed a member of the church but asking that she try her best to accept church teaching. She wrote to the then archbishop of Dublin, Desmond Connell, seeking literature on the issue. What she received back was "wickedly poor scholarship", she said.


That same month, October 2012, McAleese made clear the mission of her post-presidential life at the launch in Dublin of Quo Vadis?, her book on canon law: she is intent on being a thorn in the side of Rome for the rest of her days. "I'm here for the long term," she, shall we say, advised the church authorities. "Get used to it."

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Gay Danish couples win right to marry in church
Richard Orange       Jun.7, 2014

The country's parliament voted through the new law on same-sex marriage by a large majority, making it mandatory for all churches to conduct gay marriages.


Denmark's church minister, Manu Sareen, called the vote "historic".


"I think it's very important to give all members of the church the possibility to get married. Today, it's only heterosexual couples."


Under the law, individual priests can refuse to carry out the ceremony, but the local bishop must arrange a replacement for their church.

. . . .

Karsten Nissen, the Bishop of Viborg, who is refusing to carry out the ceremonies, has warned that the new law risks "splitting the church". 

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Poland's PM: doctor's duty is above his faith
Associated Press      Jun.10, 2014

Poland's prime minister, Donald Tusk, on Tuesday weighed into an abortion debate that is roiling emotions in the largely Catholic country, saying doctors have to put their obligation to the patient and the law above their religious beliefs.


Tusk's comment came after a well-known obstetrician in Warsaw, Bogdan Chazan, caused uproar by refusing to allow a woman to abort a fetus with serious head and brain defects. A declared Catholic, Chazan argued that an abortion would be against his personal beliefs and the woman now has to give birth to the child.


In Poland, abortion is legal until the 25th week of pregnancy when the mother's life is at risk or if the fetus is badly damaged or the result of rape or incest.


"Regardless of what his conscience is telling him, (a doctor) must carry out the law," Tusk said. "Every patient must be sure that ... the doctor will perform all procedures in accordance with the law and in accordance with his duties."


The woman has lodged a complaint with the health minister, who has ordered a review of the case.

Read more

Indian Jesuit abducted in Afghanistan
Ritu Sharma       Jun.12, 2014

Jesuit Fr Alexis Prem Kumar tp:// director of Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) in Afghanistan was abducted on Monday afternoon [June 2] by a group of unidentified men from Sohadat village outside Herat, according to Jesuit Provincial of South Asia Fr. Edward Mudavassery.


Fr.  Alexis Prem Kumar, 47, was visiting a school for refugee Afghan children recently returned from Iran and Pakistan at the time of the abduction.


"There was no violence. The kidnappers just came and took the priest with them," Fr. Mudavassery told


"The Indian consulate in Herat and the Afghan security forces have been informed and a search has begun to find the priest," he said. 

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Doctors and theologians approve miracle of late American Archbishop Fulton Sheen
RomeReports       Jun.18, 2014
Late Archbishop Fulton Sheen is one step closer to becoming a Blessed. A group of Vatican doctors and theologians agreed that a miracle should be attributed to the intercession of Venerable Fulton Sheen. 
The case involves a stillborn baby boy. His mother gave birth to him back on September 2010. For over an hour, the stillborn showed no signs of life. Overwhelmed with grief, his parents started praying to Fulton Sheen, asking for a miracle. 

After 61 minutes, the baby boy responded. Three years and a full recovery later, the boy named James Fulton Engstrom, in honor of the late Archbishop, is doing just fine. 
. . . . 
The process isn't over just yet. Now that a team of doctors and theologians agreed that there is no medical explanation for the miracle, the case will be reviewed by the Vatican's Congregation for the Causes of Saints, which advises Pope Francis, on these matters.  

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Christians Among 500,000 in Flight From Mosul
 Doreen Abi Raad      Jun.11, 2014

Church leaders in northern Iraq struggled to find shelter for Christians who were among hundreds of thousands who fled Mosul, the country's second-largest city, after Islamist forces took over much of the town, a Chaldean Catholic archbishop said.


Christians began fleeing early on June 9, Archbishop Amel Shamon Nona of Mosul told Catholic News Service in an email.

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Cardinal Zen issues anti-China rallying cry       Jun.13, 2014

Retired Cardinal Joseph Zen Ze-kiun of Hong Kong sharply criticized the Chinese authorities' recently released white paper that emphasized Beijing's total control of the special administrative region.


"You (the Chinese communists) can tie me up, can take me away, chop my head off, but not as a slave," said the cardinal in an online radio program yesterday evening.


Hong Kong people should "not succumb to fate but maintain one's own dignity," the cardinal said, warning that "if we kneel down, everything will be finished."


China's State Council released the white paper on Tuesday that emphasized its total control over Hong Kong. The policy statement said "the high degree of autonomy enjoyed by Hong Kong is subject to the central government's authorization. There is no such thing called 'residual power' for the special administrative region."


The document sparked widespread discontent among Hong Kong residents as it appeared to break the promise of 50 years of autonomy given to Hong Kong after the former British colony was returned to China in 1997.


The cardinal called on people to vote in a June 20-22 nonofficial referendum on universal suffrage for the election of governor in 2017 and to show their aspiration for full democracy. 

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Pope Excommunicates Mafiosi
Reuters      Jun.21, 2014

Pope Francis on Saturday took on one of Italy's most dangerous organized crime groups, calling it an example of "the adoration of evil" and saying Mafiosi "are excommunicated".


The pope, speaking about the 'Ndrangheta crime group during a mass in the southern Italy, issued the strongest attacks on organized crime since the late Pope John Paul lambasted the Sicilian Mafia in 1993.


"Those who in their lives follow this path of evil, as mafiosi do, are not in communion with God. They are excommunicated," Pope Francis said in impromptu comments at a mass before tens of thousands of people. 

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Holocaust-denying bishop's visit axed
Australian Jewish News        Jun.12, 2014

Richard Williamson An anti-Semitic British churchman with a record of denying the Holocaust will not be allowed to visit Australia after The AJN alerted the government to his views.


Bishop Richard Williamson - who has publicly denied that six million Jews were killed during the Shoah, insisting that at most the number of victims was between 200,000 and 300,000 - was scheduled to travel to the country later this month.

. . . .

Last week, after learning of Williamson's travel plans, The AJN contacted the Department of Immigration and Border Control to inquire if he had been granted a visa and to alert Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to his views.


The following day, a spokesperson contacted The AJN saying, "The individual's visa has been cancelled," and noting that the minister was "appreciative" of the newspaper drawing his attention to the matter.


The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) also contacted the Department of Immigration last week.


Noting Williamson's views and past, ECAJ urged that he be banned from the country in line with legislation that allows the minister to refuse or cancel a visa on character grounds, having regard to the person's past criminal record or if there is a significant risk that during that person's visit he or she would vilify a segment of the Australian community. 

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Pope, Anglican archbishop urge joint action to share God's love
Cindy Wooden      Jun.16, 2014

Although they have not yet reached full unity, Roman Catholics and Anglicans continue their dialogue, come together in prayer and work side by side, including on a new project to combat human trafficking around the world.

. . . .

In his meeting with the archbishop, Pope Francis said Jesus' question to the disciples in Capernaum, "What were you arguing about on the way?" could apply to the Roman Catholic and Anglican churches as well.

"When Jesus put this question to his disciples, they were silent," the pope said. "They were ashamed, for they had been arguing about who was the greatest among them. We, too, feel ashamed when we ponder the distance between the Lord's call and our meager response."

Under God's merciful gaze, he said, "we cannot claim that our division is anything less than a scandal and an obstacle to our proclaiming the Gospel of salvation to the world." 

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Catholic, Orthodox bishops push for more married priests
David Gibson       Jun.9, 2014

Top Catholic and Orthodox church officials in North America are calling on the Vatican to let married men become priests in Eastern rite Catholic churches, another sign that optional celibacy could become a front-burner issue under Pope Francis.


Eastern rite Catholic churches have a look and feel similar to Eastern Orthodox churches but are loyal to Rome and fall under the pope's jurisdiction.


Like Eastern Orthodox churches, Eastern rite Catholics tend to have more local autonomy than their Roman Catholic counterparts, and they have particular liturgies and customs that date back to their origins in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.


One of those customs is optional celibacy. While Eastern rite Catholic bishops cannot be married, the priesthood is open to married men.


The main exception has been in North America, where a 1929 decree by the Vatican effectively barred married clergy in Eastern rite churches. The move was spurred by concerns among leaders of the much larger Roman Catholic church in the U.S. that having married priests in Eastern Catholic churches would prompt Roman Catholics to demand a similar practice. 

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Sudan death sentence woman 'freed'
BBC      Jun.23, 2014

A Sudanese woman sentenced to death for abandoning her Islamic faith has been freed from jail, her lawyer has told the BBC.


Meriam Ibrahim's death penalty was overturned by an appeal court, the official Suna news agency reported.


She is married to a Christian man and was sentenced under Sharia law to hang for apostasy in May after refusing to renounce Christianity. 

. . . . 

"We are very very happy about this - and we're going to her now," Mrs Ibrahim's lawyer Elshareef Ali told the BBC.


"They have released her... she's on her way to home," he said. Mr Ali said Mrs Ibrahim had shown "extraordinary courage" during her ordeal. 


"It's a victory for freedom of religion in Sudan... By Mariam's strong position, we believe that in the future no-one will be subjected to such a trial," he said.

Read more

Phoenix Priest Shot Dead, Another Wounded at Catholic Church
NBC News      Jun.12, 2014

A priest was fatally shot at a Catholic church and another was left critically injured, Phoenix police said early Thursday.


Officers discovered the two victims when they responded to reports of a burglary around 9 p.m. local time on Wednesday at the Mother of Mercy Mission in Phoenix's downtown district.


The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Phoenix identified the deceased priest as Fr. Kenneth Walker, 28, and the injured victim as Fr. Joseph Terra, 56.


"We are stunned and deeply saddened to learn of the tragic assault perpetrated last night," the archdiocese said in a statement, adding that both were members of The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. 

Read more

Priests and guns
Author       Mon.dd, 2014

. . . .

In Phoenix at their morning Masses June 11, Frs. Kenneth Walker and Joseph Terra of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter probably spoke about Barnabas, the apostle. Perhaps they told how a land-owning Cypriot, then named Joseph, sold his possessions, gave the proceeds to the church at Jerusalem and received the name Barnabas. Luke wrote about him in Acts. Paul included him in epistles. Some say his cousin was the evangelist Mark.


Barnabas became a martyr in Cyprus. Some say he was stoned. Others, that he was dragged through the streets by a rope around his neck then burnt.
 . . . .

Back in Phoenix that Wednesday night, when Terra opened the door to the church courtyard, could he have thought about Barnabas or martyrdom? A crazed man was swinging an iron rod. Terra got to his bedroom and his .357 Colt Python. We know he approached the crazed man. We know Walker entered the commotion. We know the intruder took Terra's handgun and shot Walker.  

. . . .

Why, in the name of all that is just, merciful and humble, would a priest have a gun?


Even military chaplains don't have guns. The Geneva Conventions underscore their noncombatant role in war. The U.S. Navy forbids chaplains from qualifying with weapons, earning warfare qualifications, or bearing arms.

 . . . .

The tragedy of a young priest killed by a weapon he lived with is too awful to behold. It's one more thing the bishop needs to think about. Sooner rather than later. 

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Underreported survey responses for synod on the family a valuable tool for Vatican
Christine Schenk      Jun.19, 2014

Last week, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported on survey responses from U.S. dioceses in preparation for October's first session of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Kurtz's report was underwhelming at best. His take is that responses pointed to a need for a "more remote and proximate formation" of Catholics: "We know there is a need for greater, effective teaching on key tenets of the faith, such as the indissolubility of marriage, the importance of sexual difference for marriage, the natural law, and the married couple's call to be open to life."


Unfortunately, Kurtz is echoing a talking point used by many prelates who spin survey feedback as if it is just another consumer poll designed to rate how well they are doing their job. There is no real dialogue here, no real listening, only the assumption that Catholics will change their minds if bishops talk louder and longer.


Worse, the report watered down what many laity really said. For example, St. Petersburg, Fla., Bishop Robert Lynch, reporting on a diocesan survey that attracted 6,800 respondents, wrote: "On the matter of artificial contraception the responses might be characterized by the saying, 'that train left the station long ago'. Catholics have made up their minds and the sensus fidelium [the sense of the faithful] suggests the rejection of Church teaching on this subject."


Surveys from other dioceses indicate similar disconnects between official teaching and acceptance of that teaching by ordinary Catholics.

. . . .

While it's true that church teaching doesn't come from opinion polls, neither does it emerge without regard for the lived experiences of those taught. The Holy Spirit lives, moves and guides the lives of ordinary people seeking to love and follow Christ within their own particular, unique circumstances. Could such Spirit-filled lives also have something to teach our bishops?


Our church must listen. Otherwise, synod outcomes are doomed to fall on deaf ears. If this happens, it will only be because our bishops have failed to open their own. 

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Buenos Aires Victims Urge Pope Francis To Focus On Sex Abuse In His Home City
Will Carless      Jun.16, 2014

Pope Francis made headlines last month when he announced the Vatican will take a "zero tolerance" policy toward sexual abuse in the church.


In a historic move, Francis also promised to celebrate mass in Italy in June with several victims of sexual abuse, a gesture lauded for its significance in helping to overcome decades of inaction from the Vatican on an issue that has ruptured the foundation of the church.


But in the pope's home city of Buenos Aires, these two announcements stirred a different reaction: Dozens of victims of sexual abuse in Argentina's Catholic churches say they are still waiting for recognition of their plight from the Vatican.


Abuse victims and their representatives contacted by GlobalPost said they spent fruitless years seeking an audience with Francis when he was the highest-ranking Catholic representative in Argentina, the archbishop. They said they were turned away by his office or offered gifts in exchange for meeting with the man then known as Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio.


Email requests for comment to the Vatican Information Service and the Diocese of Buenos Aires did not receive responses.

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Two Catholic priests charged with rector's murder
ucanews      Jun.19 2014

Police charged five people, including two Catholic priests, on Tuesday for the murder of a seminary rector in Karnataka more than a year ago.

Father K J Thomas, 63, was bludgeoned to death at St Peter's pontifical seminary in Bangalore on the night of March 31 and April 1 last year.

The two priests were identified as Fr Elias Daniel and Fr William Patrick. The three other accused were only identified by their first names, Peter, Francis and Swami. 

Police arrested the priests and Peter in March after a year-long investigation, while the other two have avoided capture. 
. . . .

Police filed the charges because under Indian law they must be filed within 90 days of a suspect's arrest, Mohanty said. 

We have "the full story" behind the murder but the investigation is not closed, he told, adding that "more evidence is needed" and the "investigation is continuing." 

He said the reasons behind the killing were complicated, but alleged that the two accused priests thought the murdered rector was preventing them from progressing within the Church. 

A dispute over the seminary's assets also brought things to a head, he said. "It is not something that developed in a day or two. The enmity started at least four years ago," said Mohanty. 

"Then he was given a second term as rector, adding to the hate and anger," he said.  

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The pope stopped outside their house
Cindy Wooden      Jun.23, 2014

Pamela Mauro thought it was unlikely Pope Francis would stop at her house, "but seeing how he is, I decided to try anyway."


Mauro's parents, and her sister Roberta, who is severely disabled, live in Calabria, just outside Sibari on the main road Pope Francis traveled Saturday on his way to a Mass with an estimated 250,000 people.


She and her family put up big signs on the road, asking Pope Francis, "Stop." Another said, "There's an angel waiting for you here." And yet another said, "Dear Pope, bless and embrace little Roberta."


Shortly before the pope was due to pass, the family went to the edge of the road, bringing Roberta with them on a reclining wheelchair.


Pope Francis did indeed stop his car. He got out of the car and blessed and caressed Roberta.

He blessed the others, shook hands, posed for photos and put up with some ear-piercing shouts of approval, mostly "Bravo, Francesco."


  Papa Francesco

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Catholic parishioner not allowed to minister
Jennifer Perez       Jun.18, 2014

A parishioner from St. Michaels Catholic Church in Marquette says he was not allowed to participate in Sundays mass with the rest of the congregation.


For Bobby Glenn Brown and his lifetime partner Don Roberts, last Saturday was filled with love as they celebrated 31 years together with a commitment ceremony.


While their good news spread throughout social media, Brown was faced with disappointing news when he showed up for mass at St. Michaels Church.


"They told me if I wanted to worship that I could worship in the vestibule and listen, but that I would not be able to participate," said Bobby Glenn Brown.


Brown served on the pastoral council, as a cantor, lector, and sang in the choir, but on Sunday was told he couldn't take part in those roles. 

Read more

Giving your pennies to Peter or Mary
Dennis Coday       Jun.5, 2014

. . . .

Peter's Pence is an annual, global collection of the Catholic church. The money goes directly to the pope, who uses it to "provide emergency assistance to those in need because of natural disaster, war, oppression, and disease," according to the website of the U.S. bishops' conference.


The collection is take up annually in parishes around the world in late June. This year it will be weekend of June 28-29.

. . . .

"The Peter's Pence Collection is a way for individual Catholics to help Pope Francis as he reaches out to our suffering brothers and sisters around the world," said Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, the chairman of the committee on national collections for the bishops' conference.


Now I'm not advocating anything here, just sharing information. I know some people who want to support development and relief work in the developing world, but also want an alternative to Peter's Pence. These people give to Mary's Pence.


From more than 25 years, Mary's Pence has been helping found projects in North America, Latin America and the Caribbean, including farms and markets, small businesses and job-training programs. It focuses especially on projects that are self-sustaining and run by women. "We invest in projects that support women's well-being - physical, social and economic," Mary's Pence website says.  

Peter's Pence

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Interviewing Liturgical Leaders: Robert Taft, S.J.
PrayTell Blog      Jun.11, 2014

. . . . 

Three things to fix the liturgy - what would they be?

The liturgy doesn't need fixing. For starters it just needs a translation into something remotely resembling English. What needs fixing are the celebrating clergy. What I have often said of my own Jesuit confreres applies here too: all Jesuits have studied theology, but not all of them learned theology-i.e., learned how to think theologically. A classic instance is the question of the clergy's refusal to cease giving communion from the reserved sacrament in the tabernacle despite the Church's constant exhortations and orders to do so. That is not because the clergy are disobedient,but because they are theologically and liturgically ignorant, as I have tried to show in Worship 88/1 (pp. 2-22).


Pope Francis good for liturgical renewal or not?

Papa Francesco is good for everything, including liturgical renewal. When he first celebrated Mass in the Sistine Chapel he had them toss out the altar facing away from the congregation that his predecessor had installed, and thereby gave the signal indicating how he rated the reformed Vatican II liturgy vis-à-vis the restored pre-Vatican II Summorum Pontificum "extraordinary form." 


Is the Vatican II liturgical renewal secure or endangered?

I think it is secure, because I believe the vast majority of Catholic people throughout the world confirm it by voting with their feet and going to Mass in the reformed rite, showing thereby that despite the right-wing neo-con wackos (hereafter NCW's), most Catholics prefer the reformed rite.

But that does not mean that the NCW's are not a threat, since it is said that large numbers of them now control the terrain in our seminaries. As Professor Massimo Faggioli, the Catholic point-man on these issues has shown, the Vatican II Liturgical Constitution was the fundamental document that led the way to the rest of Vatican II, so an attack against that key document is an attack against the guiding spirit of the Vatican II Council. 


Anything good coming out of Summorum Pontificum?

Nope, unless creating unnecessary divisions in the Church and driving crazy our harried bishops who have too few priests to start with and now have to try and accommodate the NCW's is considered "good." 

Read more

Orthodox Bishop In Moldova Fined For Antigay Statements &      Jun.11, 2014

A court in Moldova has fined an Orthodox bishop for publicly insulting members of the country's gay community and ordered him to publicly apologize. 

The court ruled on June 9 that Bishop Markel of Balti and Falesti has to pay 10,000 leus ($710) to the GenderDoc-M organization as compensation for moral damages and an additional 12,000 leus ($850) to cover trial expenses.

. . . .

In September 2012, Markel publicly called for barring LGBT community members from working in schools, catering services, and medical institutions, citing as the reason that "92 percent of them are AIDS-HIV patients." 

Read more

'Bling Bishop' finds new home in Bavaria
The Local       Jun.11, 2014

Germany's disgraced "bling bishop", Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, who earned his name blowing €31 million on his luxurious headquarters in central Germany has been given a new home in Bavaria.

. . . . 

A report into the huge sums spent was published in March, but the 54-year-old has continued to live in the luxurious surroundings of his Limburg home, while the church tries to find a new role for him.


But in a statement on Tuesday, the diocese of Limburg said the problem of what to do with Tebartz-van Elst had been solved. He will move in September to a rented apartment in Regensburg until he takes up a new role.


Bishop of Regensburg Rudolf Voderholzer has assured him a "fraternal welcome and hospitality", the Limburg diocese said. 

Read more


Open Letter to Pope Francis re Vatican
 - LCWR: "sadness and dismay"

Aletter from AUSCP was sent to Pope Francis and copied to several bishops as well as an LCWR leader expressing concern that release of a cardinal's opening remarks "served as a public 'rebuke' of the LCWR" and a "chastising" of their leadership.


The third annual assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests  

The third annual assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests will be held in St. Louis, Missouri, June 23-26, at the St. Louis Airport Hotel Marriott.  


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.

Upcoming Events   


Catalyst for Renewal & Aquinas Academy present 


  The Second Rosemary Goldie Lecture  
Professor Mary McAleese 
Sunday  7th September 2.00pm - 4pm at 
The Sydney Town Hall Centennial Hall 
Bishop Geoffrey Robinson will introduce Professor McAleese. The lecture will take the form of an interview with Andrew West, the Religion and Ethics Report compere on Radio National and will be followed by an open forum. The Master of Ceremonies will be Mike Bailey.
Tickets available through TryBooking.


Association for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 



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