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Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates.
                                          _  Patrick Edgar, ARCC President
Pluto - New Horizons - God: A Contemporary Meditation
John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D.                                           August, 2015

In July, after a ten year journey, the New Horizons interplanetary space probe sent back so much data that NASA, and others, will be analyzing and learning more about Pluto for months to come. The exploration has just begun.... So far New Horizons has revealed flowing ice, impressive mountain ranges, and a surprisingly thick atmosphere on Pluto. But no "outer space aliens" .... as of yet.

The galaxy that contains our Solar System, what we have long called the Milky Way is no small thing. The Milky Way contains from 100 to 400 billion stars. Some astronomers say in fact that there are probably at least 100 billion planets in our Milky Way. Do any of them have intelligent life on them? I suspect so, but we really don't yet know. I would love to have an "outer space alien" land in my back yard and drop in for a visit. (Then I could post the photo on Facebook!)

In many ways, our perspective on Reality is rather narrow. My astronomer friends at the University of Leuven tell me that, according to the best estimates, there are at least one hundred billion galaxies in our observable universe. (Those Leuven professors are very proud, as I am, that the Big Bang theory was proposed by a Belgian priest and professor at our University of Leuven: George Lemaitre.) Twinkle twinkle little star was just the beginning. 

Years ago, my favorite poet, T. S. Eliot, wrote "We shall not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." I think that applies to galactic realities and to God as well.

I am hardly an atheist. I am an active and strongly committed Christian. Nevertheless, looking at the images sent back by New Horizons, I could 't help thinking that our conception of God may be terribly narrow and has been constructed too much in our own human image and likeness. 

Traditionally, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim people have always understood God as a kind of heavenly superman: like a human being without human limitations. This theological projection was explained and justified by suggesting that God was so much like a human being because human beings were in fact created in God's image. Today, however, we recognize that it was the other way around. We portrayed God in OUR image: a powerful supernatural authority, demanding our strict obedience. The heavenly headmaster.

In the Hebrew Scriptures, God defends obedient Hebrews and destroy's their enemies. He (always a "he") annihilates sinners and the unfaithful. The story of Noah's Ark is the classic example. In European Christian history, believers understood that God blessed the imperialistic and colonial expansion of the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Christians declared that their colonialist domination of the underdeveloped peoples of the world was the very will of God. Under the banner of Christ, native populations - often considered inferior beings - were subjugated and converted and subjugated. 

Christians don't always pay attention to it; but our Christian tradition really does aim to help us live and walk with the mystery of God. I honor my tradition, but I don't think my tradition defines God. I think it points me to God. 

At the heart of all Reality is what we have called "God." We are personally touched by God. I still feel personally touched by God. Although we use human poetry to describe God - God as "Mother," or God as "Father," God is not a person. God is at the heart of all Reality; and that means that at the heart of our own lives, we find God. I think Jesus, in a remarkable way for a man of his time, understood this very clearly. No wonder our tradition calls him Emmanuel: God With Us.

The more deeply and fully human One becomes, the more one reveals the God of life and being. And that's the God I find revealed in Jesus Christ. We really need to reflect more and find a way to express the entire Christian experience in the language of our own days. That is the task of contemporary theologians. We need to move beyond viewing Reality in dualistc categories of "natural and supernatural" and "physical and metaphyscal." We could also update the Nicene Creed of 325 CE with a better and more contemporary statement of Christian identity and mission. 

God is at the heart of all Reality and all Reality is in process. Process philosophers and theologians, with whom I resonate, suggest that God is also in process...unlimited in possibilities. Not limited by culture, language, time, or space. God, the galaxies, and humanity are all in process. 
Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins wrote "The world is charged with the grandeur of God." If he could have travelled to Pluto in a shuttle like the New Horizons, I think he would have said: "Our galaxy is charged with the grandeur of God." 

Back on planet earth, it was the grandeur of God that animated Jesus of Nazareth. His challenge remains constant wherever we go: unconditional love, mercy, and compassion. A message addressed to all peoples, in all parts of our world.



Some things we have been reading  
Milwaukee: Hypocrisy in Spades
Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.A.D.C      Aug.19, 2015
People often ask if the clergy abuse scandal is over. Recently, in response to the question, Cardinal Dolan cavalierly replied "That's all over now." Sorry Cardinal but its not all over and the proposed settlement in the Milwaukee bankruptcy process is solid proof.

To quote an article I wrote in May: "The disgusting charade going on in Milwaukee was cooked up by and is sustained by Dolan and Listecki." The outrageous proposed settlement is not the result of reasonable negotiations. Jeff Anderson, the attorney who represented 300 victims, said " the archdiocese of Milwaukee has played hardball and has used tactics from the start that have beaten down the survivors' community and left the committee with no good choices." Add to that the appalling tactics the church lawyers employed in cooking up the proposal and Jeff's assessment pretty much sums it up.

A few weeks ago Francis LoCoco, Listecki's lead lawyer, threatened to spend down the phony cemetery trust that Cardinal Dolan created to try to divert $56 million, by challenging the validity of every claim of the nearly 400 remaining survivor-claimants. The survivors had already been treated with more than enough cruelty brought on by the hard-ball legal tactics. Continued litigation would have resulted in more insult, pain and debasement. The archbishop and his lawyers forced them to accept a grossly unjust and unreasonable option in exchange for one that was even worse.

A word of clarification. It is common to refer to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee as the entity responsible for the bankruptcy process but its not the archdiocese, which is made up of several hundred thousand people, including presumably all of the claimants. It's safe to presume that a fair number of these people view the settlement proposal and the entire process just as the claimants do. No, it's not the archdiocese, it's the archbishop who is responsible.

In his otherwise unbelievable statement on Aug. 4, Archbishop Listecki did say one thing that is true: "Today we turn the page on a terrible part of our history." He's dead right. It is a terrible chapter in the history of the archdiocese and he and his immediate predecessor are responsible for making it so.

When the bankruptcy process started over four years ago it was not because the archdiocese was on the verge of insolvency. It was a tactic to avoid having to face and possibly compensate the seventeen cases pending at the time. It was also a way to try to prevent disclosure of even more documentary evidence of the terrible treatment of clergy victims over the years. At the outset Archbishop Listecki openly invited all who were sexually abused to come forward assuring them that "nothing will prevent me from making every possible effort at moving forward toward healing and resolution with those who have been harmed."

The victims came forward, unaware that Listecki did not mean a word he said but rather planned to have his lawyers disqualify every one of the 575 victims who filed claims. This they set about to do which is how they managed to burn through nearly $26 million, all for legal fees which is twice as much as they are offering the victims and six times as much as the victims would have gotten had they not accepted the current plan.

I have often said that the sexual abuse nightmare, a chapter of which we have been part of since 1983, is not over and will never be over as long as the system and the self-serving mindset that created it still exists. The Milwaukee debacle, which actually began in the 1950's when Archbishop Meyer sent Fr. Lawrence Murphy on retreat for sexually violating deaf boys rather than firing him, still goes on. Archbishop Listecki's "new Pentecost" is a meaningless insult to survivors and his "new road lined with hope, forgiveness and love" is rhetorical nonsense given the reality of the hundreds of victims who have been brutalized for years and continue to be insulted and demeaned by the proposed settlement. Does this look like the radical change of heart and actions that are the only sure signs that an end is in sight? Hardly!

Behind Listecki's "holier-than-thou" statement looms the appalling and duplicitous actions of he and his lawyers in forcing the settlement. Peter Isely's statement and the online NCR article by Marie Rhode on August 10 describe them in some detail. The main points need to be stressed to get greater clarity of the hypocrisy:
-At least 80 victims were secretly removed from the settlement without the creditor committee's knowledge, among them appear to be the deaf victims of Fr. Murphy
-The five survivors on the committee were given nothing in writing about the settlement, were not allowed in the mediation to see any of the case reports of the victims they represented and were not told when the settlement was going to be announced.
-The archdiocesan lawyers and Listecki decided unilaterally which claims were valid
-Among the 575 claims that came forth 100 involved newly alleged clergy perpetrators. The archbishop decided without any investigation that none were a danger to children.
This travesty brings even more discredit and disgrace to the already tarnished office of bishop. It is also an insulting and arrogant perversion of the federal bankruptcy process and it surely justifies every debasing pejorative joke about lawyers.

David Clohessy of SNAP described it as "the largest mass betrayal of victims we've ever seen by one diocese." One of the survivor-advocates said it is the most destructive church response he knew of. Both are right but what makes their assessments even more painful is that this is 2015, thirty-one years after the U.S. bishops became collectively aware of the fact that their traditional way of responding to sex abuse victims was both humanly destructive and spiritually deadly.
There's no question that in the hierarchy there are men who truly "get it" and strive to respond as Christians rather than loyal Churchmen. Sadly though there are probably more who still see the victims as the enemy, to be defeated at all costs, a pathetic example of which is still happening in Milwaukee. As a group, have the bishops learned anything? All the safety plans for children of the future are meaningless if the Church's leaders don't know how to treat the victims of the past.
Dolan, Listecki and their squadron of attorneys either fail to see what this is really all about or they have rejected it. It's not about preserving the financial stability of the Archdiocese nor is it about what most archbishops and bishops find unimaginable, losing. It is about treating the men and women, whose bodies and souls were violated, as Jesus Christ would treat them.

Fr. Tom Doyle is a former ARCC Board member.
Child abuse royal commission: NSW priest 'grabbed boys by the genitals', retired Bishop tells inquiry
ABC Australia    Aug.24, 2015
A former NSW priest was shifted out of the priesthood and the state after complaints he was grabbing boys by the genitals and squeezing, a retired Bishop has told the child abuse royal commission.

Geoffrey Robinson, a key player in the church's response to child sexual abuse by members of the clergy between 1994 and 2003, is giving evidence today before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Sydney.
. . . .
Bishop Robinson also told the inquiry of his work in the early 1990s on a church tribunal set up to deal with complaints of sexual abuse by clergy.
He said that at the time he felt progress on the issue was too slow - that, while "the city was burning" the church was setting up committees.
"When I sat down to start drafting a response to complaints, I quickly became aware that the majority of complaints did not want to go to the police," Bishop Robinson said, adding that their were two reasons for that.

"One was the fear that if they went to the police, their particular case would become public. Some of them, even their husband or wife wasn't aware of the abuse.

"The second fear was of being cross-examined by an opposing barrister."

He said he realised the police were not "the total solution to the problem".

Bishop Robinson, who was a bishop for 31 years in the Sydney Archdiocese and a priest for 54 years, has spoken out and written widely urging "profound and enduring change" and a more compassionate approach by the church to victims of abuse by religious leaders.

Bishop Robinson, who has terminal cancer, has written two books: Confronting Power and Sex in the Catholic Church, and For Christ's Sake.
LCWR president: A new era of communion with Vatican closes 'cultural chasm'
      Aug.12, 2015
The controversial investigations of U.S. women religious by the Vatican - and resulting tensions - stemmed largely from a "cultural chasm," the group's president said Wednesday.

But that chasm is closing, she said, and a new era of communion seems to have begun.

Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, told the group's annual assembly that behavior that is very normal for a woman in American culture - such as asking questions and thinking critically - might easily be perceived as disrespectful in another setting.
. . . .
Openly addressing the apostolic visitation to women religious in the United States and the doctrinal assessment of LCWR, Holland said that at the 2012 assembly, she felt more tension in the atmosphere and the nagging question of why the two controversial investigations were happening. Both ended in the last year.
. . . .
"We somehow were looking at the same realities, but we were standing in different places," she said. "We didn't realize that we were experiencing the incomprehension of two groups who did not know each other's deeper assumptions. We risked slipping into talking about each other instead of talking more deeply with each other."
. . . .
But there are powerful signs that the cultural chasm may be closing, she said: the joint final report issued at the end of the mandate and the photo of LCWR officials with Pope Francis when the mandate ended two years early.

"It is not the usual practice to have a joint report in processes such as this," Holland said. "It may sound very sensible to Americans, but normally, delegates sent from the Apostolic See submit their report directly to those who sent them. They don't give it first to the persons they were visiting."

Not only was LCWR given the report; the group was invited to collaborate on it.
Family synod will let bishops adapt Church teaching to local culture, says cardinal
Michael Swan      Aug.15, 2015
This October's synod will allow bishops to adapt Church teaching on the family to the local culture, political landscape and economic situation, an African cardinal has predicted.

Cardinal Berhaneyesus Souraphiel of Addis Ababa said: "The Catholic Church is a universal institution, both human and divine. It is not a European church, it is not a Canadian church or a US church. It's different. The issues families are facing in some parts of the world would be different than in other parts of the world."

While Europe and North America face problems such as how to respond pastorally to state-sanctioned same-sex unions or divorced and remarried Catholics, families in other parts of the world face issues that arise from economic globalisation or rapid urbanisation.

"For us in Ethiopia, the big issue will be poverty," said Cardinal Souraphiel. "If you are not sure if you can continue providing sustenance for the family, food and so on - not only rent, but food - if you don't have this [basic economic stability] you might find the husband working somewhere else, the wife working somewhere else. The family separates. And then the children suffer."
French churches get increased security before feast of Assumption
CNS      Aug.13, 2015
Catholic churches in France have been placed under police protection and urged to take extra security measures against possible Islamist attacks before the Aug. 15 feast of the Assumption.

"Every religious gathering, whatever its magnitude ... is vulnerable today to acts of malevolence, which may extend to terrorism," the country's Interior Ministry and bishops' conference said in a joint message to Catholic dioceses. The message was published Aug. 11 in France's Catholic daily, La Croix.
. . . .
Security was increased at France's 45,000 Catholic churches, as well as on Jewish, Muslim and Protestant places of worship, after January attacks on the offices of a Paris satirical weekly, Charlie Hebdo, and a kosher supermarket left 17 dead, including three Islamist assailants.

In April, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls placed 178 Catholic churches, including the capital's Notre Dame cathedral and Sacre Coeur basilica, under permanent police guard after an ethnic Algerian and two others were arrested for planning an armed attack on churches at nearby Villejuif.

However, since then, several Catholic sites - including a church in Tourcoing and a cemetery at Labry - have since been attacked or desecrated.
Cardinal Burke is out; Cardinals Kasper and Danneels are in
Future Church Blog       Aug.15 2015
Pope Francis is weaving hope into the Synod process.  Robert Mickens reports on his role in shaping the outcome.
Via a Vatican source, Mickens learned that Pope Francis will NOT be inviting Cardinal Raymond Burke back to the synod floor.   . . . .

And while Pope Francis is keeping more caustic voices like Raymond Burke at bay, he is also confirming his point men, Cardinals Walter Kasper (Germany) and Godfried Danneels (Belgium), to be there again.

Under Synod protocol, Pope Francis can make appointments, but it seems that Pope Francis is expanding his appointments from the typical fifteen percent to, according to Mickens, up to one-third of the Synod Fathers.   He recently appointed Archbishop Blaise Cupich of Chicago and Bishop George Murry SJ of Youngstown.

There will be around 345 participants, including bishops, priests, curial heads, those elected from the Union of Superior Generals, experts and observers.  Of those who can vote, there will be more than 260 bishops and priests with Pope Francis appointing more than 80.
The People Speak Out
Welcome to The People Speak Out.

If you could sit down with Pope Francis and share with him the faith and life experiences of you and your family, what would you say?  You actually do have a way to share these experiences.  Join us as The People Speak Out.  This is a global feedback process inviting you to share your stories and  offering Pope Francis an opportunity to encounter you and learn about your Catholic experience.

Through your voices, he and his bishops will gain a better understanding of contemporary family life.

The People Speak Out
Pope politics: How the 'Francis factor' could upend 2016
John Gehring      Aug.2, 2015

Pope Francis won't be in Cleveland this week for the first presidential debate, but the most influential moral leader on the global stage has those eyeing the White House looking over their shoulders.


A pope who denounces "trickle down" economics and insists climate change is an urgent moral issue is recalibrating a values narrative in U.S. politics that in recent years has been off kilter. Less than two months before the pope visits the United States and becomes the first pontiff in history to address Congress, a "Francis factor" could prove to be one of the most intriguing storylines of the 2016 election. 


Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is joining several other Republican presidential hopefuls in making a pilgrimage to kiss the rings of billionaire industrialists Charles and David Koch. The Catholic convert seems far less eager to cozy up to Pope Francis, who describes the economic status quo as an "idolatrous system" that "excludes, debases and kills." Pro-choice Catholic Democrats have long felt heat from the church. These days it's Republicans who are playing defense. 

. . . . 

Candidates fighting for the Democratic nomination also have the pope on their minds.


"Some people say my economic ideals are radical," Bernie Sanders tweeted last week. "You should hear what the Pope is saying." Billionaire Tom Steyer, a liberal donor pushing Hillary Clinton and other Democratic candidates to make climate change a top priority, has cited Pope Francis in his appeals. Former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, a Catholic educated by Jesuit priests in high school, has been dubbed a "Pope Francis Democrat."

Despite his frequent presence in U.S. political rhetoric, the pope is likely to find his toughest audience in this country. A new Gallup poll shows the pope's approval ratings here have dipped swiftly in the past year, driven largely by growing conservative unease. Republican insiders are hyperventilating. "This pope is selling a line of Latin American-style socialism," a GOP strategist who is Catholic recently told The New York Times. "This guy is not in sync with the American Catholic Church. Guys like Jeb and Rubio are more in line with the American Catholic Church than the pope."


While that strategist needs a Sunday school lesson - the pope isn't preaching socialism, but  about the common good - his breezy reference to an unofficial alliance between the church and the Republican Party does underscore a significant shift. A Catholic hierarchy now most widely known for battling the Obama administration over contraception coverage and decrying same-sex civil marriage as a was once at the vanguard of major progressive social reforms. 

. . . . 

Pope Francis is starting to redefine the public voice of American Catholicism with his appointments and priorities. Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, who some have anointed the "American Francis," has economic inequality a "powder keg that is as dangerous as the environmental crisis the world is facing today." Instead of bristling with outrage after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage, he  for "mature and serene reflections as we move forward together."

. . . .

None of this makes the pope a Democrat, and liberals should tread cautiously. Pope Francis considers abortion part of a "throwaway culture." His critique of extreme individualism and rampant consumerism is as much a bracing challenge for those on the left as the right. 


Get ready, Washington. A pope who learned his most important lessons in the barrios of Buenos Aires and isn't afraid to take on entrenched power at the Vatican is coming to town. 

Read more

It's unconstitutional to ban the homeless from sleeping outside, the federal government says
Emily Badger        Aug.13, 2015
We all need sleep, which is a fact of life but also a legally important point. Last week, the Department of Justice argued as much in  it filed in a relatively obscure case in Boise, Idaho, that could impact how cities regulate and punish homelessness.

Boise, like many cities - the number of which has swelled since the recession - has an ordinance banning sleeping or camping in public places. But such laws, the DOJ says, effectively criminalize homelessness itself in situations where people simply have nowhere else to sleep. From the DOJ's filing:
When adequate shelter space exists, individuals have a choice about whether or not to sleep in public. However, when adequate shelter space does not exist, there is no meaningful distinction between the status of being homeless and the conduct of sleeping in public. Sleeping is a life-sustaining activity - i.e., it must occur at some time in some place. If a person literally has nowhere else to go, then enforcement of the anti-camping ordinance against that person criminalizes her for being homeless.
Such laws, the DOJ argues, violate the Eighth Amendment protections against cruel and unusual punishment, making them unconstitutional. By weighing in on this case, the DOJ's first foray in two decades into this still-unsettled area of law, the federal government is  and backing up federal goals to treat homelessness more humanely.
Trump says he would 'scare the pope' with ISIS if he slams capitalism during US visit
Travis Gettys       Aug,20, 2015
Soon after declaring he would seek an end to birthright citizenship, Donald Trump said he would use Islamic State extremists to scare the pope if he slammed capitalism on his upcoming visit to the U.S.

Pope Francis will honor immigrants by using a chair made by Latino laborers during Mass next month at New York's Madison Square Garden - where he is expected to make critical remarks about American economic policies, as he has in the past.

Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, told CNN's Chris Cuomo that he would remind the pope that ISIS radicals want to kill him and take over the Vatican.

"I'd say, 'ISIS wants to get you,'" Trump said. "You know that ISIS wants to go in and take over the Vatican - you have heard that. That's a dream of theirs."

Cuomo asked if he would really try to scare the pope.

"I'm going to have to scare the pope," Trump said.

"The pope, I hope, can only be scared by God, but the truth is - you know, if you look at what's going on - they better hope that capitalism works, because it's the only thing we have right now. And it's a great thing when it works properly."
You'll never guess which candidate is quoting Pope Francis most frequently
Jeremy Zipple      Aug.14, 2015
Sanders At last count, seven Catholics are running for president - six Republicans and a Democrat. But surprisingly, the candidate who's talking about Pope Francis the most often is a Jewish guy from Vermont.

This past February, Sanders delivered a remarkable 15 minute speech from the U.S. Senate floor, built on an anthology of Pope Francis money quotes on signature issues of his pontificate: poverty and economic injustice. The hook? The invitation for Pope Francis to speak to Congress. Sanders opens with a nod of gratitude to (Catholic) House Speaker John Boehner, declaring, "I do not agree with the Speaker of the House John Boehner on very much. But I do agree that it is an excellent idea for there to be a joint session of Congress in the fall to hear from Pope Francis."
. . . .
To be precise, Senator Sanders's speech was delivered several months before he officially threw his hat into the presidential ring. But since then, Candidate Sanders's papal quoting has only gained momentum. One of America's summer interns, Rob McCarthy, pointed out that on his , Sanders has tweeted a Pope Francis quote every single Sunday since May 24. (Save one...he missed June 7.)
Philadelphia archdiocese cancels LGBT program ahead of pope visit
Laila Kearney     Aug.18, 2015
The Philadelphia Archdiocese has ordered a local parish hosting events for gay and transgender Catholics during Pope Francis' U.S. tour next month to cancel the program, organizers said on Tuesday.
Workshops and other discussions around lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues were scheduled to be held at St. John the Evangelist Church on Sept. 26, the day the pope arrives in Philadelphia for a two-day visit.

Pope Francis will attend a summit on families being held in the city, and LGBT Catholic groups have asked for an official presence at the gatherings to express their view that gays and lesbians should be more included in the Church.
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has said he would allow the presence of openly gay and transgender Catholics at the World Meeting of Families but did not want the groups to lobby for their issues during the event.
. . . .
"This is yet another instance of the kind of exclusion LGBT Catholics and supporters have endured for decades," the Equally Blessed Coalition, a gay Catholic coalition and coordinator of the event, said in a statement.

An archdiocese spokesman said parishes decide which programs to offer but it is expected that they have content in line with the Church's teachings.
"In this case, the Archdiocese was asked to evaluate the program and provide guidance, which it did," spokesman Kenneth Gavin said. He said the decision was made locally by the parish.

The program's centerpiece, a workshop about gender identity, will likely take place at a nearby Methodist church, said Francis DeBernardo, workshop organizer and director of LGBT Catholic advocacy group New Ways Ministry.
One Catch In Pope's Climate Push: U.S. Catholic Oil Investments
 Richard Valdmanis      Aug.12, 2015
Pope Francis heartened environmentalists around the world in June when he  to save the planet from the effects of climate change, declaring that the use of "highly polluting fossil fuels needs to be progressively replaced without delay."

But some of the largest American Catholic organizations have millions of dollars invested in energy companies, from hydraulic fracturing firms to oil sands producers, according to their own disclosures, through many portfolios intended to fund church operations and pay clergy salaries.

This discrepancy between the church's leadership and its financial activities in the United States has prompted at least one significant review of investments. The Archdiocese of Chicago, America's third largest by Catholic population, told Reuters it will reexamine its more than $100 million worth of fossil fuel investments.
. . . .
The , a letter sent to all Catholic bishops, has sharpened a debate well underway in Catholic organizations and other churches about divestment. But many major American dioceses have resisted the push.

"You now have this clash between Pope Francis' vision of the world, and the world that the bishops who run the investments live in," said Father Michael Crosby, a Capuchin friar in Milwaukee who advocates socially responsible investing in the church.

"The bishops are a very conservative group, and I'm not hopeful this will be resolved anytime soon."
Divorced and remarried are not excommunicated, pope says at audience
CNS     Aug.10, 2015
Catholics who have divorced and are civilly remarried "are not, in fact, excommunicated - they are not excommunicated - and they absolutely must not be treated as if they were," Pope Francis said.

Resuming his Wednesday general audiences Aug. 5 after a month's break, Pope Francis returned to the series of talks he has been giving on the family. It was the 100th general audience of his papacy.

At his last audience, June 24, he talked about the damage caused especially to children when couples fight and hurt each other. "Today," he said, "I want to draw our attention to another reality: how to care for those who, after the irreversible failure of the matrimonial bond, have undertaken a new union."
. . . .
The church, Pope Francis said at the audience, must have "the heart of a mother, a heart that, animated by the Holy Spirit, always seeks the good and the salvation of persons."

The children of such couples suffer most and deserve particular care, the pope said.

"How can we tell these parents to do everything possible to raise their children in the Christian life, giving them the example of a convinced and lived faith, if we keep them at a distance from the life of the community as if they were excommunicated?" the pope asked.

Particularly over the past few decades, he said, "the church has not been insensitive or lazy" when it comes to providing pastoral care to the divorced and civilly remarried.
High-ranking US Jesuit: Married priests would be healthy for the Church
Michael O'Loughlin       Aug.18, 2015
A high-ranking US Jesuit says he wouldn't be surprised if Pope Francis ushers in an era of married priests in the Roman Catholic Church, and says the move would be healthy for the Church.

"I used to say, 'Well, it will change but probably not in my lifetime.' And then Pope Francis came along, and what I see him doing is opening the avenues for discussion," the Rev. Michael Garanzini, chancellor of Loyola University Chicago and the secretary for higher education for the worldwide Jesuits, told Crain's Chicago Business on Monday.

He told the paper that the clergy abuse scandal spurred discussion of married priests and led to an "openness to a priest's physical and psychological health."
. . . .
 He said he expects bishops from England to raise the issue at the next Synod on the Family at the Vatican in October.
Paddy Clancy: I hope Pope Francis pays close attention to the call of the women that they be ordained
Paddy Clancy    Aug.18, 2015
There's a priest from Galway who has been suspended from saying Mass in public since 2012.
He is going to be one of the main speakers in Philadelphia next month at the Women's Ordination Worldwide conference.

So far as the Vatican is concerned, Fr Tony Flannery is a downright nuisance.

He was banned from public ministry because he believes women should be allowed to enter the priesthood.

I find it difficult to understand how a Church that is struggling to find enough men to enter the priesthood can deny ordination to women.

Men in their late 70s are struggling to run two parishes in some areas because the Church is running out of priests.

Yet, the Vatican refuses to accept the inevitable; that there are queues of women praying for a Church U-turn that would enable them to be priests.

So downright determined is the Vatican to maintain the status quo - despite the dwindling numbers of clerics - that Fr Flannery was kicked out of public ministry because he believes women should be priests.
. . . .
Parish churches are going to close down unless there is some major initiative, like allowing women into the priesthood.
. . . .
Pope Francis will be visiting Philadelphia a few days after Fr Flannery addresses the Women's Ordination Worldwide in September.

I hope His Holiness pays close attention to the call of the women that they be ordained.
Creditors committee chair for Milwaukee archdiocese bankruptcy disputes settlement outline
Marie Rohde      Aug.10, 2015
The chairman of the creditors committee for the Milwaukee archdiocese bankruptcy said the outline of the settlement released this week does not match his understanding of what was in the agreement and that neither he nor the other victims on the committee can support it in its present form.

"It makes me feel like I was duped in mediation," said Charles Linneman, chairman of the committee, adding that on Aug. 6, the committee discussed the version released by the archdiocese two days earlier and concluded "what they announced was not what we agreed to."

Linneman contends that the archdiocese's Aug. 4 statement outlining the key points in the settlement does not match what the creditors committee agreed to during the mediation. The committee had gotten nothing in writing and were not given copies of the statement before it was released.

"I didn't even know it was coming out," Linneman said. "I didn't know anything about it until I started getting calls from survivors."
8 Things About Pope Francis' Upcoming Visit That Would Make Him Facepalm
Catherine Woodiwiss      Aug.20, 2015
Pope facepalm
Look, we all know it - Pope Francis is a pretty unflappable guy.   . . . .
But one thing Pope Francis won't suffer is treating God's commandments lightly. He is deeply serious about religion - its immense power to heal, shelter, and reconcile; and its limitless power, if abused, to degrade, divide, and injure.

So we're willing to bet he's got mixed feelings about coming to the U.S. in September. His visit will take him from a school in Harlem and interfaith services near the site of the September 11 attacks, to visiting Catholic Charities in Washington, D.C., and a prison in Philadelphia - a trip with, as TIME writes, a .

Naturally, we in the U.S. have gone all out to show just how excited we are for his visit. But that's where things are getting a little screwy.

1. Ticket Scams
. . . .  Reports are popping up of approaching Catholics with  to see the pontiff in New York City or Philadelphia - for a steep price, of course.
. . . .
2. Money, Money, Money
The logistical preparation for the pope's two-day stop in Philadelphia alone is ringing up at an . Some are expressing displeasure at the enormous budget for a short visit in a city in which  at any given time face hunger, and many food and housing shelters struggle to meet the needs of their clients. 
. . . .
3. Keep a Safe Distance, Please 
The pope is famously fond of mingling with crowds. This has security teams nervous - so much so that the New York Police Department, Security Service, and Vatican Security are all teaming up to try to contain the pope's love for wandering off route.

"I'm loading up on the Excedrin already for that visit. No, it is literally changing day-to-day in terms of what he would like to do,"  complained  NYPD police Commissioner William Bratton.
. . . .
4. Shutting Out LGBT Brothers and Sisters
A coalition of LGBT groups planning to attend Philadelphia's World Meeting of Families will no longer be able to use space in a Catholic church for lodging and workshops. Initially promised to them for use by the local church, organizers were recently told that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia rejected the gender identity program the groups had planned to host. 
. . . .
5. Congressional Indulgences (kind of)
Members of Congress each hold one extra ticket for one of the hottest events in memory - Pope Francis' address to both chambers of Congress - but only one. So who gets it?

The Associated Press reports some members facing a "nearly Solomonic choice straight out of the Old Testament" with lawmakers having to decide between spouses or siblings, family members or friends.
. . . .
6. All is Vanity, Part 1: Inspirational Jewelry
. . . .
Christian Bling is ready for the week, with a Papal Signature Collection of "couture rosaries," "pick-a-saint" jewelry, and a Pope Francis notebook.

"It's cool to be Christian. Display it in a trendy and super attractive way," says their handle.

"This is vanity: it is living for appearances, living to be seen," says the pope.

7. All is Vanity, Part 2: Cufflinks
Another fun item being sold: cufflinks with a Photoshopped image of the pope "visiting" a local cheesesteak joint in Philadelphia, are .
. . . .
8. Plummeting Popularity ... For Caring About the World 
On the eve of his visit, the pope's approval numbers have taken a steep dive - in part, for talking too much about social justice. Not kidding.

"This decline may be attributable to the pope's denouncing of 'the idolatry of money' and attributing climate change partially to human activity, along with his passionate focus on income inequality," said one Gallup poll analyst.
Pope Goes to Mass Like Everybody Else
Anthony Ruff, OSB      Aug.22, 2015
Vatican Insider reports that Pope Francis happened to go to Mass yesterday by sitting in the congregation and getting in line to receive Communion.

The occasion was the memorial of St. Pius X, which is August 21. Francis went to pray at the tomb of his predecessor in St. Peter's. A Mass started at 7am, so he decided to stay for it. A certain Fr. Bonora, who works in the Vatican, began Mass, and looked up to see the pope among the 50 or so faithful. The pope "rose from the pew to exchange the embrace of peace and got in line to receive communion," Vatican Insider reports.
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Controversial Paraguayan bishop Livieres dies
Inés San Martín      Aug.15, 2015
A conservative Latin American bishop fired by Pope Francis last September, who once claimed he was the victim of "ideological persecution" but later moved to reconcile with the pontiff, died Friday at the age of 69.

Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano, a native Argentinian, died in Buenos Aires from complications related to diabetes. He had been the bishop of Ciudad del Estes in Paraguay before his removal on Sept. 25, 2014.

Before his death, Livieres reached out to the pope.
Last July, while meeting local bishops during his trip to Paraguay, Francis read a letter Livieres had written to the pontiff. In it, the bishop expressed his gratitude to the pope and his "full communion" with Rome.

According to a Vatican statement in September 2014, Francis removed Livieres from his post for unspecified "serious pastoral reasons" and "the greater good of preserving the unity of the local Church."
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