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Speaking of the Devil : 
Polarization in the Roman Catholic Hierarchy
John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D.                                         Oct.28, 2014

The Archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput, is "very disturbed" that there are debates about official Roman Catholic teachings about people with a same-sex orientation and remarried Catholics receiving Eucharist. In fact, Chaput said in a New York, earlier this week, that this month's Vatican summit sent a confusing message; and he stressed that "confusion is of the devil."

 "I was very disturbed by what happened" at the synod, the Archbishop said. "I think confusion is of the devil, and I think the public image that came across was one of confusion." Archbishop Chaput also condemned gay activists for their "dishonesty" and "hatred" of gay marriage foes; and he said portrayals of them as homophobic are "dishonest and evil."


Over in Providence, Rhode Island, Bishop Thomas Tobin offered his "random thoughts" on the recent Synod of Bishops: "In trying to accommodate the needs of the age, as Pope Francis suggests, the Church risks the danger of losing its courageous, counter-cultural, prophetic voice, a voice that the world needs to hear," he wrote. "The concept of having a representative body of the Church voting on doctrinal applications and pastoral solutions strikes me as being rather Protestant."


The Bishop of Providence did have kind words for Pope Francis: "Pope Francis is fond of 'creating a mess.' Mission accomplished." His highest praise, however, went to Cardinal Raymond Burke: "Wherever he serves, Cardinal Burke will be a principled, articulate and fearless spokesman for the teachings of the Church."


If he hasn't already done it, Cardinal Burke will soon be emptying his desk and handing-in his office key at the Apostolic Signatura. Burke, well-known for his high Renaissance ecclesiastical dress, finds Pope Francis far too lenient with liberals who would water-down Catholic teaching. He and other far-right bishops were highly critical of the open-minded interim document released halfway through the recent synod. That report had suggested that the Catholic Church should be "welcoming to homosexual persons" and open to lifting the no-Communion ban for remarried divorcees.

Burke has accused Pope Francis of harming the Church by allowing free-ranging discussions on key contemporary issues. For Cardinal Burke homosexual men and women are "intrinsically disordered" and homosexual acts are "wrong and evil." Perhaps "intrinsic disorder" is in the eyes of the beholder? A majority of U.S. Catholics, today, now favor same-sex marriage.

Nevertheless....Roman Catholic hierarchical polarization is a fact of life. Perhaps it is good to shake-up the institution from time to time. A continually reforming church is a healthy thing. Let the discussions continue, let transparency be the operative value. Let us think, reflect, and debate at all levels in the church. I think the Holy Spirit thrives in this kind of environment.


Blaming the devil for opposing Catholic viewpoints? Maybe we are simply too close to Halloween....... 

Jack Dick is ARCC Vice President    
All Saints Day/ All Souls Day

This weekend we remember, honor, pray to and for all those who have gone before us.  ARCC commemorates past board members who have given much time, expertise and talent to the ongoing work of Church renewal:

Mary Buckley, Dennis Geaney,OSA, Philip Kaufman,OSB, Elmer Powell, SVD,  Ingrid Shafer, Alan Turner

For all our departed:


For those who walked with us this is a prayer.
For those who have gone ahead, this is a blessing.
For those who touched and tended us, who lingered with us while they lived, this is a thanksgiving.
For those who journey still with us in the shadows of awareness, in the crevices of memory, in the landscape of our dreams, this is a benediction.
                     --- Jan L. Richardson,  
In Wisdom's Path: Discovering the Sacred in Every Season
Some things we have been reading  
11 Key Quotes from Pope Francis' Speech Concluding the Synod
ChurchPop editor      Oct.19, 2014

After two dramatic weeks at the Synod of the Family in Rome, Pope Francis delivered a final speech to the bishops, who reportedly responded with a four-minute standing ovation.

The full text of his remarks are available on, but here are 11 key quotes if you're looking just for the highlights

  1. The Synod has been a journey    I can happily say that - with a spirit of collegiality and of synodality - we have truly lived the experience of "Synod," a path of solidarity, a "journey together."  . . . .  There were moments of profound consolation listening to the testimony of true pastors, who wisely carry in their hearts the joys and the tears of their faithful people.
  2. There's a temptation to traditionalism    One, a temptation to hostile inflexibility, that is, wanting to close oneself within the written word, (the letter) and not allowing oneself to be surprised by God, by the God of surprises, (the spirit); within the law, within the certitude of what we know and not of what we still need to learn and to achieve. From the time of Christ, it is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called - today - "traditionalists" and also of the intellectuals.
  3. There's a temptation to treat symptoms and not the causes    The temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness, that in the name of a deceptive mercy binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them; that treats the symptoms and not the causes and the roots. It is the temptation of the "do-gooders," of the fearful, and also of the so-called "progressives and liberals."
  4. There's a temptation to conform to the world    The temptation to come down off the Cross, to please the people, and not stay there, in order to fulfill the will of the Father; to bow down to a worldly spirit instead of purifying it and bending it to the Spirit of God.
  5. There's a temptation to neglect the deposit of faith (the revelation of God)    The temptation to neglect the deposit of faith, not thinking of themselves as guardians but as owners or masters [of it]; or, on the other hand, the temptation to neglect reality, making use of meticulous language and a language of smoothing to say so many things and to say nothing!
  6. He is encouraged by the conflict among the bishops, he'd be worried if all were in agreement    Personally I would be very worried and saddened if it were not for these temptations and these animated discussions; this movement of the spirits, as St Ignatius called it (Spiritual Exercises, 6), if all were in a state of agreement, or silent in a false and quietist peace. Instead, I have seen and I have heard - with joy and appreciation - speeches and interventions full of faith, of pastoral and doctrinal zeal, of wisdom, of frankness and of courage...
  7. The Synod is not questioning the Church's teaching on marriage    And this always - we have said it here, in the Hall - without ever putting into question the fundamental truths of the Sacrament of marriage: the indissolubility, the unity, the faithfulness, the fruitfulness, that openness to life (cf. Cann. 1055, 1056; and Gaudium et spes, 48).
  8. The Church is a Mother for sinners, the poor, the needy    And this is the Church, the vineyard of the Lord, the fertile Mother and the caring Teacher, who is not afraid to roll up her sleeves to pour oil and wine on people's wound; who doesn't see humanity as a house of glass to judge or categorize people.   . . . .
  9. The Pope serves the Church as a point of unity and to remind bishops to serve their flock     [T]he duty of the Pope is that of guaranteeing the unity of the Church; it is that of reminding the faithful of their duty to faithfully follow the Gospel of Christ; it is that of reminding the pastors that their first duty is to nourish the flock - to nourish the flock - that the Lord has entrusted to them, and to seek to welcome - with fatherly care and mercy, and without false fears - the lost sheep. I made a mistake here. I said welcome: [rather] to go out and find them. His duty is to remind everyone that authority in the Church is a service, as Pope Benedict XVI clearly explained...
  10. The Church belongs to Christ, and the Pope is just a servant    So, the Church is Christ's - she is His bride - and all the bishops, in communion with the Successor of Peter, have the task and the duty of guarding her and serving her, not as masters but as servants. The Pope, in this context, is not the supreme lord but rather the supreme servant - the "servant of the servants of God"; the guarantor of the obedience and the conformity of the Church to the will of God, to the Gospel of Christ, and to the Tradition of the Church, putting aside every personal whim, despite being - by the will of Christ Himself - the "supreme Pastor and Teacher of all the faithful" (Can. 749) and despite enjoying "supreme, full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church" (cf. Cann. 331-334).
  11. Jesus, the Holy Family, and a request for prayer  May the Lord accompany us, and guide us in this journey for the glory of His Name, with the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and of Saint Joseph. And please, do not forget to pray for me! Thank you!

Read more

Analysis: Synod document not a setback for Pope Francis
Patsy McGarry      Oct.20, 2014

Those who feel they've been consigned to the margins once again by a Catholic Church  statement should put the brakes on their despair for the moment.


The concluding Relatio Synodi document of the extraordinary Synod of bishops on the family, published yesterday, is not the last word.


Copies will be sent to Catholic bishops' conferences worldwide for further reflection before a Synod of Bishops proper next year.

It takes place from October 4th to October 21st and will be a much larger synod than the one concluded, which had 183 voting participants.


Next year's synod will have 250 and it will be followed by an apostolic exhortation from Pope Francis, taking up its themes and deepening them.

. . . .

He knows what he is up against. In his final address to the synod yesterday he warned against those with "a temptation to hostile inflexibility," such as "is the temptation of the zealous, of the scrupulous, of the solicitous and of the so-called - today - 'traditionalists' and also of the intellectuals".


He also cautioned against the "the temptation to a destructive tendency to goodness, that ....binds the wounds without first curing them and treating them" and against "the temptation of the 'do-gooders,' of the fearful, and also of the so-called 'progressives and liberals'."


He made clear over the weekend where he is coming from.

At the beatification of Pope Paul VI he quoted approvingly from that pope: "by carefully surveying the signs of the times, we are making every effort to adapt ways and methods... to the growing needs of our time and the changing conditions of society."

The journey goes on.

Read more

Seven lessons from the Vatican's wild and crazy synod on the family
David Gibson       Oct.21, 2014

Pope Francis and senior Catholic leaders wrapped up their two-week Vatican summit on the challenges of modern family life on Sunday without reaching a consensus on a number of hot-button topics. So where does that leave Francis' papacy? And the church?


Here are seven takeaways:

1. Hard-liners won the battle

. . . .

Hard-liners claimed victory, and headlines spoke of Vatican "backtrack" and a "resounding defeat" for Francis that left his papacy "weakened." 


2. Reformers may win the war

That could be a Pyrrhic victory, one that cost more than it was worth. If the controversial passages did not reach the two-thirds benchmark, they nonetheless won strong majorities. In addition, a growing number of reform-minded bishops say they voted against the contentious proposals because they did not go far enough in emphasizing the church's welcome, respect and value for gays and lesbians.   .

. . .

3. Change is hard

Change is especially hard for the Roman Catholic church, which likes to present itself -- and its teachings -- as immutable. But history shows that doctrine has changed (or "developed," as theologians say), and many synod participants reiterated that teachings could, and should, be adapted for today's new family realities.   

. . . .

4. Catholicism is 'flirting with an Anglican moment'

That's a phrase New York Times columnist Ross Douthat used on Twitter in discussing the resistance of African bishops to what they saw as the synod's focus on Western concerns like divorce and homosexuality and efforts to adapt church teaching on those issues in ways that the African churches would not accept. 

. . . .   

Anglicans have been divided almost to the point of breaking as African churches have rejected moves by Western members to open the sacraments to gays and lesbians.


That dynamic is also a risk for Rome, as African Catholicism is also growing in size and influence. Two key differences, however: About 16 percent of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics live in Africa, whereas well over half of all Anglicans are from Africa, and they have a far greater say in the future direction of Anglicanism.


5. Speech is free

Amid all the lobbying and armchair analysis, it's important to step back and realize that in the three decades before Francis was elected pope, bishops, priests and theologians could have been investigated, censured, silenced or fired for many of the ideas that were being openly discussed at the synod.  That is perhaps the real earthquake, and it's one that Francis himself wanted.


6. Talk is cheap
On the other hand, be careful what you pray for. Francis has long urged Catholics to say what they think without fear of reprisals.  . . . .  
And by all accounts, they did, with great passion inside the synod hall, but even more sharply in the press. The various interest groups seeking to influence the discussions were often much less diplomatic. As one cardinal put it to the Catholic news site Crux, at a certain point, open discussion becomes "chaos."
7. Francis is the "Pope of Process"

That's what Grant Gallicho of Commonweal magazine called the pontiff. Francis and his fellow Jesuits might prefer to characterize his method as "discernment."   Either way, it means that this synod was not the end, but the beginning. Nothing has been decided, and nothing is off the table. There will be another longer, and larger, synod next October, and between now and then, Francis says he wants everyone to continue to debate and discuss.

Read more

More articles on the synod
Tablet cover
Looking to the 2015 Synod
Gerard O'Connell     Nov, 2014

The Extraordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, which closed on Oct. 19, approved a final report that, with the pope's endorsement, will soon be sent to the 114 Catholic bishops' conferences worldwide and to the patriarchates and major archbishops of the Eastern Catholic churches.


The sending of that text from the secretariat of the synod to the local churches marks the opening of a most important phase in the new synodal process established by Pope Francis in 2013. 

The report, which will be accompanied by a questionnaire, is meant to serve as a working document for the discussion that is to take place in the local churches over the next year.


Bishops are expected to discuss this report not only among themselves in bishops' conference meetings but also in their own dioceses, with their priests, the lay faithful and especially with families.

. . . .

Next year's synod will be held from Oct. 4 to Oct. 25. It will be an ordinary general assembly, which means many more bishops will participate than in this year's meeting, which was an extraordinary assembly. They will be elected by the bishops' conferences or the corresponding bodies in the Eastern Catholic churches.

. . . .

It is clear, then, that the next 12 months will not only be an important and challenging period for the local churches; it can also be a very enriching one. Their contributions can make a difference to the final outcome of the meeting in 2015, which is expected to come up with proposals for the pastoral response of the Catholic Church to the many different and sometimes complex questions that have been identified in the final report of the assembly just ended. Next year's general assembly of the Synod of Bishops will present these proposals to Pope Francis, and he will make the final decisions. 

Read more

The Catholic Church is changing - and the gates of reaction shall not prevail against it
Paul Vallely      Oct.24, 2014

Can you be more Catholic than the Pope?


The American arch-reactionary Pat Buchanan clearly thinks so. He has been lambasting Pope Francis for sowing "confusion among the faithful" by refusing to defend "the unchanging truths of Catholicism".


Indeed, says the US Catholic paleo-conservative, the Pope may be "speaking heresy", which would imply that Francis is "not a valid pope".


Yet how does this high-octane indignation square with widespread reports at the end of last week that a liberal Pope had been defeated by doctrinaire traditionalists in his attempts to make the Church more welcoming to gays and divorcees? The fortnight-long Extraordinary Synod on the Family ended with headlines like: "Pope snubbed" and "Liberal Hopes Dashed".


The answer is that, as the dust settles, what has become clear is that, for all the hoo-ha made by conservative cardinals, the overall outcome has been a remarkable advance for those who want the Catholic Church to be more compassionate and inclusive. The vociferous minority who tried to box the Pope into a corner, on gays and divorcees who remarry, may have won one small battle. But they are losing the wider war.


To understand why, you need to know something of the "two steps forward, one step back" method of making progress within the Catholic Church. Pope Francis knows he is operating in a deeply conservative environment which requires a "softly softly" approach. 

. . . .

Change is coming in the Catholic Church. The blustering of an outraged conservative minority will not hold back the tide.

Read more

US bishop causes furor with outspoken criticism of pope
Global Pulse staff      Oct.27, 2014

TobinBishop Thomas Tobin of Providence Rhode Island has caused reverberations in Church circles with an uncompromising criticism of Pope Francis.


Writing in the Providence diocesan newsletter on October 21, he offered a number of frank objections to the way the recent Family of the Synod was conducted. His observations include:

"The concept of having a representative body of the Church voting on doctrinal applications and pastoral solutions strikes me as being rather Protestant."


"Pope Francis is fond of 'creating a mess.' Mission accomplished."


The bishop was especially critical of the relatio, the document that was issued at the halfway stage of the synod and which seemed to suggest "a seismic shift" in Church attitudes towards homosexuality "and 'irregular' conjugal relationships.


He had voiced objections to it at the time and expanded on them in his newsletter:

Have we learned that it's probably not a good idea to publish half-baked minutes of candid discussions about sensitive topics, especially when we know that the secular media will hijack the preliminary discussions for their own agendas?"

. . . . 

A number of respondents questioned Archbishop Tobin's denigratory use of the word 'Protestant'.


The Pray Tell blog responded: "Bishop Tobin seems to be using "Protestant" to mean "bad, something to avoid." This is not the proper ecumenical spirit. We Catholics look at Protestants and other Christians with respect for their difference from us (which are sometimes quite significant), and with an open heart for what we can learn from them. And with humility: the liturgical vision of the Second Vatican Council is closer to Martin Luther than to Trent on many points, which suggests that we aren't always right.


"Synods and gatherings and ecumenical councils have been "voting on doctrinal applications and pastoral solutions" for about 2,000 years now, from the Council of Jerusalem to Nicea to Trent and ever since."

Read more

A Critic & a Pope Comfortable in His Skin
Robert Mickens     Oct.22, 2014

An Italian Catholic bishop recently belittled Pope Francis's apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, saying a "campesino," or simple peasant, could have written it. That's what Fra Enzo Bianchi, founder and prior of the Monastery of Bose in northern Italy, penned last week in the Turin daily, La Stampa. He cited the unnamed bishop as further proof that not everyone in the church is thrilled with Papa Francesco. Or to quote Archbishop Georg Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household and live-in secretary of the retired Benedict XVI (more on that later), "Pope Francis is not everybody's darling".

. . . .

Only nineteen months have passed since Cardinal Bergoglio of Buenos Aires was elected Bishop of Rome. So much has happened in this short period of time that is easy to forget how different things might be today if not for the personality of Papa Francesco. One characteristic that has stood him astonishingly well in these months, especially when he's had to face opposition or criticism, is his obvious sense of personal freedom and being comfortable in his own skin.


Most people probably never stop to consider how difficult it must have been to become pope in the circumstances that surrounded his election. Not only was the church embroiled in scandal and an organizational mess, but the newly chosen Francis also inherited the unprecedented situation of having a retired predecessor. This was made more complex by the fact that the former pope had already decided how he would be called, where he would live and how he would dress - even before his successor was elected.


Knowing he was to resign, he even named his personal secretary, Archbishop Georg Gänswein, as prefect of the papal household - the place where for many years the popes have lived and conducted their daily affairs.


It seemed the archbishop was destined to be the link that ensured a certain seamless transition from one pontificate to another. (Have you ever heard of the hermeneutic of continuity?) But Francis shocked everyone in the Vatican by deciding to live at the Santa Marta residence, where about fifty mid-level Roman Curia officials reside when it's not used as a "conclave hotel." Still, the former pope is only a five-minute walk away and he discreetly receives visitors. Pope Francis does not show signs that he's threatened by any of this. A lesser man and a lesser pope sure would be.

Read more

What the Left and Right get wrong about Pope Francis
John Gehring     Oct.27, 2014

. . . .

When bishops meet in Rome next fall for the second and final act of this synod, you can bet there will be another robust conversation about how the Church can do a better job applying doctrine in a way that does not ignore the messy reality of human experience.


To really understand why this papacy is so revolutionary, you have to recognize that Francis is playing the long game. He is setting his vision on a different horizon than those who are stuck fighting trench warfare over a narrow set of hot-button issues.


While Catholics check off boxes on our ideological scorecards, Pope Francis is calling the Church to a profound spiritual conversion. His foes are clericalism, legalism, and anything that gets in the way of the joy of the Gospel. This is not a flashy corporate re-branding or a mere tinkering with tone. It's a return to the radical values at the root of Christian faith.

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Kasper: Francis' map for reform will outlive his pontificate
Christa Pongratz-Lippitt       Oct.20, 2014

"The spirit of the [Second Vatican] council is blowing through the synod," Cardinal Walter Kasper underlined in his Oct. 15 lecture on "The Ecclesiological and Ecumenical Vision of Pope Francis" at the University of Vienna.


Kasper flew to Vienna in the middle of the second week of the Synod of Bishops on the family to deliver the keynote lecture at the theology faculty's "dies facultatis" ("faculty day").


Kasper said the Oct. 5-19 synod was wholly in the tradition of a church on the move, as embodied in Vatican II. The discussions proceeded in a climate of "confidence, joy and freedom," a climate also reflected in the synod's Oct. 13 interim report, known as the relatio, which was heatedly disputed in some circles, Kasper said.


With Pope Francis, the recent, "somewhat pessimistic basic mood in which scandals descended on the church like a form of blight" have given way to a new joy, a spirit of optimism, and a new start, Kasper said.


Even if some of the synod participants were skeptical and were "exercising restraint and pulling their punches in the hope of sitting out this pontificate," Kasper said the "Francis effect" was palpable. For the majority of the synod participants, this pontificate is a "new spring."

. . . .

The reform program that Pope Francis has prescribed the church is a long-term program, Kasper said, "a program for a century or more," because it concerns all the dimensions of being a church, "right up to every individual Christian's basic attitude." This means Francis' road map for the future of the church will far exceed his pontificate, Kasper said.


Francis is a "gift of God," Kasper said; the pope's success, however, will depend on whether it will be possible to maintain his spirit of optimism and a new start in future pontificates.

Read more

Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are right and God isn't 'a magician with a magic wand'
Adam Withnall      Oct.28, 2014

"The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it.


"Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."

. . . .

Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator - arguing instead that they "require it".


"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said. 

Read more
Next on Pope Francis' agenda: Curia reform, personnel moves, a revamped synod
Robert Mickens      Oct.27, 2014

. . . .

"Differing currents of thought in philosophy, theology and pastoral practice, if open to being reconciled by the Spirit in respect and love, can enable the Church to grow," he [Pope Francis] writes in Evangelii Gaudium. In this same document, he says there is an "imbalance" when "we speak more about law than about grace, more about the Church than about Christ, more about the Pope than about God's word." And he's said quite frankly that "little progress" has been made in rebalancing "papal primacy" with the "genuine doctrinal authority" that still needs to be elaborated for patriarchates and episcopal conferences. 


Today's generation of bishops are not comfortable hearing a pope says such things. That's also true of those who work for him at the Vatican. But here's the problem. A local ordinary may have the right and sometimes the duty to oppose the bishop of Rome to his face, as Paul did to Peter at Antioch, but bishops and cardinals who are directly in his service do not.


And it seems Pope Francis has more than a few of these types meddling in the Vatican. The way he unleashed discussion in the synod seems to have been the last straw for many of them. It certainly smoked them out.


This is actually good, because as he moves toward the second anniversary of his election and begins to make final decisions for a total reorganization of the Roman Curia, he is going to have to begin making key personnel changes. Obviously, he must replace those who oppose his reforms with people who will help implement them.


His most visible critic in the Roman Curia, American Cardinal Raymond Burke, has been telling anyone that will listen that Francis is going to move him from his illustrious position as the head of the Apostolic Signatura (the church's supreme court) to the merely ceremonial post of cardinal-patron of the Knights of Malta. If true, this will be quite a bump for a man who is only 66 and still nine years away from retirement. Watch to see if Msgr. Alejandro Bunge replaces him or gets another important post. Pope Francis brought the 62-year-old canon lawyer over from Argentina to be a judge on the Roman Rota. He surprised many by putting him the recently formed commission on streamlining annulments.


Another key Vatican official who has not been exactly singing in tune with the pope for some time now is Cardinal Gerhard Müller, also only 66 and prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Francis has graciously tolerated the discordant notes the German, so often strikes regarding the pope's own beloved theme of God's mercy, seemingly because the doctrinal chief was appointed only about six months before Benedict XVI announced his retirement. It would have been a slap in the former pope's face to sack him. But that could change.


Müller's home diocese of Mainz soon will need a new bishop to take over from Cardinal Karl Lehmann, who will be 79 in May. If the pope decides to name a new doctrinal congregation prefect, he could turn to Archbishop Bruno Forte, although conservatives would consider it a declaration of war after having publicly expressed their no-confidence in the Italian theologian at the recent synod.

. . . . 

Pope Francis will be calling together the Council of Cardinals in the second week of December for a seventh group meeting.  Gathering for a few days every two months, this privy council has helped the pope complete and put in place a plan for restructuring Vatican finances, led principally by Pell. Now the Council of Cardinals will start discussing the Curia's reorganization, likely advising Francis to form a Congregation for the Laity that would incorporate the current councils on the family and the laity. Other offices, such as those dealing with justice and peace, migrants, health care, and charities, may also be combined. But no decisions are expected until spring or early summer.


This may delay the long-awaited replacement of a number of council presidents and congregation prefects who are already past the retirement age of 75 or have spent far too many years in Rome.   . . . .

Read more

Müller: It is not true I avoided greeting the Pope because of an argument
Andrea Tornielli      Oct.22, 2014

"It is not true that I deliberately avoided going to greet Pope Francis at the end of last Sunday's mass because of an argument ... these allegations are false," Cardinal Ludwig Müller said at the end of a round table on the theme "The hope of the family. The Synod and beyond" held at the European University of Rome. He denied that he avoided greeting the Pope after the celebration of October 19th because of an argument a number of individuals claimed he had had with him.

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LCWR receives 2014 Mission Award from US Catholic Mission Association

On October 24, 2014, the US Catholic Mission Association presented its 2014 Mission Award to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious during the annual USCMA conference. Sr. Janet Mock, LCWR executive director, received a standing ovation as she accepted the award from USCMA board member Maryknoll Sister Janice McLaughlin. 


The inscription reads: "The 2014 Mission Award is presented to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in recognition for embodying a Gospel-inspired, non-violent concern for the dignity of the poor, and strengthening the religious dimension of commitment to social justice."

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Eastern canon lawyer examines Catholic, Orthodox practices in handling divorce
Jennifer Brinker       Oct.23, 2014

Eastern and Western Catholic and Orthodox Churches would do well to challenge one another in their practices of handling cases of divorce and remarriage.


A pastoral approach that doesn't renounce the indissolubility of the sacrament, yet doesn't automatically exclude the faithful from full communion with the Church is needed, according to Maronite Chorbishop John D. Faris. The assistant professor of canon law at The Catholic University of America spoke Oct. 16 to nearly 350 people at the 76th annual Canon Law Society of America convention in St. Louis.

. . . .

But he stressed that the Orthodox Church and Catholic Church have failed in two areas: teaching the faithful about the holiness and permanence of marriage, and providing effective pastoral, healing response to those whose marriages have failed.


"The Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church both have the responsibility to teach the sanctity and unity of marriage -- which is ultimately designed to help couples get to heaven -- and to be cognizant and merciful when faced with human frailty," he said.

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Nichols sees way for civilly remarried to receive Communion
Elena Curti       Oct.17, 2014

Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, has said that he could now envisage a "demanding penitential pathway" by which divorced and remarried Catholics could eventually be allowed to receive Communion.


Before leaving for the Synod on the Family, Cardinal Nichols said he could not see how the ban could be lifted without changing the Church's doctrine on the indissolubility of marriage.


The cardinal also denied there were deep divisions had surfaced among the Synod Fathers over the mid-term relatio which suggested radical changes in the Church's pastoral approach to gay men and women, divorced and remarried and cohabiting couples.


In an interview with Elena Curti in the garden of the English College in Rome on Friday, Cardinal Nichols talked about his very positive experience of participating in one of ten small groups that agreed amendments to the relatio this week. 

Listen here

Paper Trail
Paul Moses      Oct.27, 2014

NCR 50 years

As The National Catholic Reporter marks the 50th anniversary of its founding this October, it's worth considering how long the odds were against the paper's success. From the start, the editors had small budgets to finance their big dreams. Despite meager resources, the founders set out to create an independent newspaper that circulated nationally. They focused coverage on a set of self- described progressive issues, hardly the stuff of long-term, mass-market appeal. They based the newspaper in Kansas City, not in the media and advertising centers on the coasts. And yet, N.C.R. has managed over the years to offer not only detailed and at times groundbreaking coverage of the Catholic Church across America, but also strong reporting from the Vatican, Latin America and Asia.


Arthur Jones, editor of the paper from 1975 to 1980 and editor-at-large afterward, tells this story through the lens of the editors and publishers who captained N.C.R. through both a stormy media market and the controversies of the post-Vatican II church.


Two factors emerge in the book to explain why the paper has managed to continue attracting enough of a readership to survive. One is the quality of the reporting. Jones, who worked at Forbes, notes that many of N.C.R.'s editors and writers over the years have held good positions in major secular news organizations, where they no doubt could have earned more if they so chose. They're pros.


The second is the staff's deep commitment to the Catholic Church and, in particular, its teachings on social justice. "The New Testament came easily to the paper's lay editors," Jones writes, noting that three had been seminarians, one had been ordained and another is a woman religious. In Jones's portrayal, the editors' vision of what the church is and should be is at the core of what amounts to a media ministry rooted in the biblical tradition of prophetic witness.

. . . . 

As an admirer of N.C.R., I found that this book deepened my appreciation for the paper, starting with the sheer unlikelihood of its longevity. It made me want to know more. In his introduction, Jones makes clear that his book is not intended as a full history of The National Catholic Reporter. Rather, it is "the inside story told by an insider who cares." And a noteworthy story it is.

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National Catholic Reporter at Fifty

The Story of the Pioneering Paper and Its Editors
August 2014
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. 312p $30
Arthur Jones
Secularism grows as more U.S. Christians turn 'churchless'
Cathy Lynn Grossman      Oct.24, 2014

If you're dismayed that one in five Americans (20 percent) are "nones" - people who claim no particular religious identity - brace yourself.


How does 38 percent sound?


That's what religion researcher David Kinnaman calculates when he adds "the unchurched, the never-churched and the skeptics" to the nones.


He calls his new category "churchless," the same title Kinnaman has given his new book. By his count, roughly four in 10 people living in the continental United States are actually "post-Christian" and "essentially secular in belief and practice."


If asked, the "churchless" would likely check the "Christian" box on a survey, even though they may not have darkened the door of a church in years.


Kinnaman, president of the California-based Barna Group, slides them into this new category based on 15 measures of identity, belief and practice in more than 23,000 interviews in 20 surveys.

. . . .

Other "tribes" among the churchless include:

  • 25 percent are self-identified atheist or agnostics. Kinnaman calls them "skeptics." And their ranks have changed in the last two decades. The percentage of women is up to 43 percent from 16 percent since 1993. Highly educated and more mainstream than before, "this group is here to stay," he said.
  • 27 percent belong to other faith groups such as Jewish or Muslim or call themselves spiritual but not religious.
  • 16 percent are Christians - people with a committed relationship with Christ, Kinnaman said - who don't go to church anymore.

Kinnaman predicts no change in direction. He concluded: "The younger the generation, the more post-Christian it is":

  • Millennials (born between 1984 and 2002) - 48 percent
  • Gen X-ers (born between 1965 and 1983) - 40 percent
  • Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) - 35 percent
  • Elders (born in 1945 or earlier) - 28 percent

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Cuba Allows The Building Of First New Catholic Church In 55 Years
Andrea Rodriguez       Oct.28, 2014

Cuba has allowed construction of the country's first new Catholic church in 55 years, the church said Monday. Experts said it's a sign of improving relations between the Vatican and Cuba's communist government.


The church, funded by donations from Catholics in Tampa, Florida, will be built in Sandino, a citrus and coffee-growing town in the far-western province of Pinar del Rio.


The church publication "Christian Life" said it will have space for 200 people.


"The construction of a church is a clear demonstration of a new phase, of an improvement, in relations between the church and the state," said Enrique Lopez Oliva, a professor the history of religions at the University of Havana.

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Four easy steps to take to become a bishop
Fr. Peter Daly      Oct.14, 2014

The appointment of Blase Cupich as the new archbishop of Chicago is a good sign. He is a pastoral bishop. His writings emphasize civility in discourse and a willingness to listen. He is not a cultural warrior. He seeks dialogue rather than confrontation. Hopefully, Cupich's pastoral orientation is a harbinger of appointments to come.

. . . .

I hope the pope's prayer for simpler priests and bishops is heard in heaven. But if past is prologue, I am not very confident.


The problem as I see it: the way bishops are groomed and chosen. Our bishops are chosen more for their connections than for their simplicity. They are often much more ecclesiastical careerists than they are pastors. In fact, very few of them have much (if any) actual parish experience.

. . . . 

What is it that has been valued in the appointment of bishops over the last 40 years?


It seems to me two things: obedience and institutional conformity. Pastoral experience was not seen as necessary or important.


In the last half century, how did (and does) one actually become a bishop in the Catholic church?


There are four common steps.

First, apprentice yourself out to a bishop as his personal secretary.

Secretaries learn the day-to-day life of a bishop and the inner workings of the diocese. Of course, the actual day-to-day work of a bishop's secretary is not very priestly or pastoral. They drive the car, pack the bags, make the plane reservations, keep the calendar and basically act as a "man Friday."


Second, get an advanced degree, preferably in canon law.

Knowing the rules of the church is the sine qua non for a bishop. Degrees in liturgy or dogma are nice, and maybe once in a while they are useful, but the real gold standard is canon law. All Vatican diplomats study canon law. It is the instruction book on the machinery of the church.


Third, get a Roman connection. This step is essential.

For Americans, this often means that you either go to the North American College in Rome for your seminary or graduate work. There are other ways to get a Roman connection, such as getting a job in some Vatican office, serving in the Vatican diplomatic corps, working for some pontifical charity, or maybe even getting yourself assigned to the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C. (Both Cupich and Cardinal Timothy Dolan worked there.) Or you could work at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' headquarters in Washington.


Fourth, keep a sharp eye on the weather in Rome.

Knowing which way the wind is blowing in Rome helps adjust your own sails.

. . . . 

Being a career bishops means having a Vatican-centric view of the church. Pope Francis said in that interview with La Repubblica, "This Vatican-centric view [of the church] neglects the world around us. I do not share this view and I'll do everything I can to change it. The Church is or should go back to being a community of God's people, and priests, pastors and bishops who have the care of souls, are at the service of the people of God." 

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Vatican defrocks 3 priests over sexual misconduct
Dan Horn       Oct.28, 2014

The Vatican defrocked three Greater Cincinnati priests Tuesday because of sexual misconduct with children that occurred more than a decade ago.

. . . .

All three priests -- Thomas Kuhn, Thomas Feldhaus and Ronald Cooper -- had been on administrative leave for years and had been barred from saying Mass and performing any priestly acts.The Vatican's move to dismiss them "from the clerical state" means they can never again present themselves as priests.


"I hope that this resolution will bring some measure of closure and healing to anyone harmed by these priests," said Cincinnati Archbishop Dennis Schnurr.

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Video Of Dancing Priests Goes Viral: Reverends Get A Taste Of The 'Singing Nun' Effect
Tricia Thomas       Oct.23,2014

A video of a pair of dueling, dancing American priests studying in Rome has gone viral, following in the footsteps of a now-famous Italian nun whose Alicia Keyes-esque voice won her a singing contest and a record contract.


The Rev. David Rider, 29, of Hyde Park, New York, and the Rev. John Gibson, 28, of Milwaukee, first shot to Internet fame when they were filmed in April during a fundraiser at the North American College, the elite American seminary up the hill from the Vatican.


Rider warmed up the crowd with a lively tap-dance routine, only to be pushed aside by Gibson's fast-footed Irish dance. Soon they were battling it out, trying to impress the crowd.


At the back of the room, journalist Joan Lewis recorded the event and later posted on YouTube.


"All of a sudden the numbers started rising and rising," Lewis told The Associated Press. The video has nearly 260,000 views.

Vatican monsignor pressured to return church valuables that went missing on his watch
Jason Berry      Oct.25, 2014

A Vatican monsignor, considered an unindicted co-conspirator by the FBI for his role in a 2008 criminal scheme to sell American church property, has been forced by Italian authorities to return valuable objects to churches in his home diocese of Turin, according to a Sep. 28 report in Il Fatto Quotidiano, a daily in Rome.


Msgr. Giovanni Carrù, an undersecretary at the Congregation for the Clergy from 2003 to 2009, is secretary of the Pontifical Commission for Sacred Archaeology, a job that oversees the catacombs.


"During his 20 years as pastor in a town on the outskirts of Turin, many paintings, statues, furniture and other objects have been lost and then found in private homes," Andrea Giambartolomei reported in Il Fatto. "Two candelabra ended up among the possessions of Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, former secretary of the Vatican State."


Bertone, whose million-dollar renovation of his apartment in the Vatican has drawn bad press, returned the questioned candelabra, according to the report in Il Fatto Quotidiano, an independently owned newspaper that, unlike many larger ones, promotes itself as receiving no government subsidy.


A special division of the Italian police charged with the protection of cultural heritage had two investigators focused on Carrù and missing religious property, Giambartolomei reported.


Sculptures, chandeliers, furniture and a wooden altar reportedly disappeared from three churches and were traced back to Carrù by the authorities, working with disgruntled parishioners in Carrù's native region of Piedmont.

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Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, a leader of Communion and Liberation, dies at age 73
CNS      Oct.27, 2014

Msgr. Lorenzo Albacete, a theologian, physicist, author and a leader of the Catholic lay movement Communion and Liberation, died Friday in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., after a long illness. He was 73.

. . . .

Albacete had been one of the leaders of the Communion and Liberation movement in the United States, serving until recently as its national director, and an offshoot, Crossroads Cultural Center, which focuses on the relationship between religion and culture. Albacete was its chairman at the time of his death. 

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ISIS magazine shows flag flying in Vatican
Redazione ANSA      Oct.13, 2014

The black flag of Islamic militant group ISIS is shown flying above St. Peter's Square on the cover of the group's magazine Dabiq, which called in its latest issue for a war against the Catholic Church.

With the headline The Failed Crusade, the photo-shopped cover of Dabiq caps new threats against Rome and the Vatican as well as forces led by the United States in a bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria against ISIS militants.


It threatens to "conquer" Rome and "break your crosses," referring to the symbol of Christianity.

ISIS flag

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Prayers for Myers Briggs Types
  • ISTJ: Lord help me to relax about insignificant details beginning tomorrow at 11:41.23 am e.s.t.
  • ISTP: God help me to consider people's feelings, even if most of them ARE hypersensitive.
  • ESTP: God help me to take responsibility for my own actions, even though they're usually NOT my fault.
  • ESTJ: God, help me to not try to RUN everything. But, if You need some help, just ask.
  • ISFJ: Lord, help me to be more laid back and help me to do it EXACTLY right.
  • ISFP: Lord, help me to stand up for my rights (if you don't mind my asking).
  • ESFP: God help me to take things more seriously, especially parties and dancing.
  • ESFJ: God give me patience, and I mean right NOW.
  • INFJ: Lord help me not be a perfectionist. (did I spell that correctly?)
  • INFP: God, help me to finish everything I sta 
  • ENFP: God,help me to keep my mind on one thing - 
    Look a bird - at a time.
  • ENFJ: God help me to do only what I can and trust you for the rest. Do you mind putting that in writing?
  • INTJ: Lord keep me open to others' ideas, WRONG though they may be.
  • INTP: Lord help me be less independent, but let me do it my way.
  • ENTP: Lord help me follow established procedures today. On second thought, I'll settle for a few minutes.
  • ENTJ: Lord,helpmeslowdownandnotrushthroughwhatIdo.



Boston College Shakes It Off, Taylor Swift Approves
Emily Wright       Oct.17, 2014
Boston College - Shake It Off


When a couple of Boston College students started work on a video last month, they had one mission: Ramp up the buzz around Espresso Your Faith Week, which examines the way BC students incorporate religion into their day-to-day lives. But they also hoped that Taylor Swift would notice the clip, since her hit "Shake It Off" served as its soundtrack.


Last night, Swift recognized the hard work put in by John Campbell and John Walsh and took to Twitter to show her appreciation.

Yes, Boston College, YES. Thank you so everyone who took part in making this, it just made me SO happy! #ShakeItOff

- Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) October 17, 2014

Walsh, a sophomore, and Campbell, a senior, are both involved with the campus group Church in the 21st Century (C21). The group, created in 2002 in the wake of the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal, helps brainstorm ways "to facilitate or be a catalyst for conversation" around students' faiths, according to associate director Karen Kiefer.

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So Apparently People Have Been Getting Pope Francis Tattoos
ChurchPop editor      Oct.15, 2014

So there's this thing called the Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen (GISHWHES), which is exactly what it sounds like, and it has 14,000 participants a year.

One of the challenges in this year's contest was "Have an image of Pope Francis permanently tattooed on yourself."

And people actually did it.  ...  you're welcome?

Pope tattoo 1Pope tattoo 2 Pope tattoo 3 

Pope tattoo 4
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Upcoming Events   


Fr. Tony Flannery: Catholic Tipping Point Tour

Fr. Tony Flannery will visit cities across the U.S. this fall on a tour to talk about conscience in the Catholic Church. 


Washington DC | Baltimore | Philadelphia | New York | Providence | Boston Syracuse | Cleveland | Detroit Minneapolis | Memphis | Sarasota | San Antonio | St. Louis Phoenix | Sacramento | Portland | Seattle


For complete information (tour sites & dates, venues & times, etc.) visit: 


Fr. Tony Flannery is a native of Galway, and member of the Redemptorist Congregation for more than 50 years. He is the founding member of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) in Ireland.


Fr.Tony has been ordered to remain silent and forbidden to minister as a priest because of his refusal to sign a document that violates his conscience: namely that women cannot be priests and that he accepts all Church stances on contraception, homosexuality, and refusal of the sacraments to people in second relationships. After a year during which he attempted to come to some accommodation with the Vatican without success, he has decided to take a public stance on the need for reform in the Church. 

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