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Once people start to believe change is possible, 
the drive to achieve it accelerates.
                                          _  Patrick Sullivan, ARCC President
Clericalism and Sociopathy
Patrick B. Edgar, DPA                                          July, 2016
Most Catholics interact with their church in the parish, where their faith is formed and nourished.  Unfortunately, the parish is also where they can experience bullying, abuse, and tyranny. Two main themes are prominent in the many calls from Catholics that I receive as President of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC).

First are the questions from those who have been divorced and remarried about how the internal forum works. The second main theme arises from numerous conversations with Catholics who are frustrated by the behaviors of their parish priest, usually the pastor.  In typical cases, the priest has taken away programs the parishioners cherish; the pastor has disbanded parish councils; the priest has removed people from ministries; or the priest has denied people sacraments for contrived offenses. To put it bluntly, the local priest is a bully or a tyrant.

Most priests I have known are not inclined to such behaviors.  However, that appears to be changing - and not in a good way. Priests who are more pastoral are retiring, and their replacements appear to have something else in mind. Based on the descriptions of their behaviors, I would argue that many are sociopaths.

The relationship between priest and people has not always been a power struggle. In the early church, the primary place of worship was the house church. The presider was usually the host. The deacons (diakonia - διακονία) and priests (presbyteros - πρεσβύτερος) were chosen from the local groups to serve others. There is little evidence that any ordination was involved. "Therefore, brethren, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task." (Acts 6:3)

The main function of these men and women was to care for others. They were not viewed as positions of authority but of service. This changed. As communities became more assimilated into the Roman Empire, they moved from house churches to more formal settings in large buildings that resembled Roman temples. They also took on a more hierarchical structure, similar to the Roman Empire. In fact, the term diocese comes from the division of the provinces established by the emperor Diocletian. The office of the pope became more and more tied to the Roman concept. The title of Pontifex Maximus was a Roman term for the highest priest who was the "bridge builder."

During the Middle Ages, the church replaced the empire as a coordinating and governing body. The parish priest became more and more the representative of the bishop, who was part of the nobility himself. The typical local priest, however, was minimally educated; he still served the people in taking care of the poor and providing the sacraments to the local community. But the need for educated priests became a priority, especially with the impact of the Protestant Reformation.

By the 18th century, the priest had become more the enforcer of rules than servant of the people. One of the reforms of the Council of Trent had been to formalize seminary training and to discourage Catholics from reading the scripture themselves. The concern was that too many interpretations differed from the official Roman Church position, which was seen as part of the cause of the Reformation. This established a system in which the priest was deemed the expert on spiritual matters; the people were to rely only on him for answers to their religious questions. This kind of control actually worked to slow the impact of the Reformation on Catholics. On the other hand, it failed in the primary mission of the church: to bring people closer to the call of the Gospel.  Instead, people became minimalist or legalistic; their main questions for "Father" were tied to what the threshold was for being in trouble, i.e., sin.

When the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) convened, the church was thriving in numbers and wealth. However, the concern was that most Catholics were rather immature in their spirituality. The council sought to move beyond Neo-Scholasticism and biblical literalism to become more in touch with the modern world. Some of the council's results were profound, especially in terms of the relationship between the priest and the laity. More lay people began to participate actively in parish ministries. The priest acted more as the pastor who encouraged spiritual growth. Liturgies began to reflect the local community instead of following medieval ritual. More lay people took up scripture study and reflection. There was certainly more open discussion of many topics, and the people in the congregation relied less on the priest to instruct them on how to obey the rules.

These changes were welcome to many Catholics but some were disturbed by the loss of control and conformity. They found that Catholics were no longer loyal to everything the priests and bishops expected. In fact, they thought that such active participation by the non-ordained was very troublesome, especially participation by women. Many such individuals in the hierarchy strove to push back against the changes.

One particular issue that caused considerable friction regarded artificial birth control. After the pronouncement of Humanae Vitae in July 1968, there was a deep division in the church. The majority of lay people ignored the teaching, and the size of Catholic families dropped dramatically. This widespread "disobedience" gave impetus to the Restorationist movement.  The papacy of John Paul II and Benedict XVI aggressively pursued strategies to regain control over the laity; ironically, this resulted in more people leaving the church. People simply no longer saw the need to obey a group of celibate men who seemed to have no experience with actual family life.

One of the practices of the bishops, especially those appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI, was to emphasize obedience. Apparently it was thought better to have obedient Catholics than thoughtful ones. As a result, many of the men selected for seminary training were chosen specifically because they indicated that they valued obedience over any of the other virtues. In my own experience, the most common topic raised and repeated during the seminary entrance interviews was how I felt about obedience. I answered that I understood the importance of having a degree of consistency. I did not realize how significant this was at the time. As I continued in my training (the most accurate term I can apply), the supreme value was obedience. We were constantly reminded of it, and I was sanctioned for not being obedient, even when I simply asked why a certain class was required when the professor himself said that I did not need it. Many seminarians were so keen on following and enforcing rules that I started referring to them as "Stepford Seminarians," after The Stepford Wives film.

At that time I did not recognize the depth or the severity of what it was I was seeing. These seminarians - the majority of those making it to priesthood - were acting on this need to control the laity. They were actually drawn to the priesthood because of this perceived power that they would enjoy. Recently, I have come to the conclusion that a disproportionate number would be considered sociopaths.

Sociopathy, or antisocial personality disorder, is a mental health condition in which a person has a long-term pattern of manipulating, exploiting, or violating the rights of others. High-functioning sociopaths are people with sociopathic traits who also have a very high intelligence quotient. They are likely to be highly successful in their field. They plan very meticulously, and their sociopathic traits - lack of empathy, lack of remorse, deceptiveness, shallow emotions, etc. - make it difficult for "normal" people to compete. (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM IV-TR, American Psychiatric Association.) The sociopath needs, and will do whatever it takes, to satisfy his ego needs without regard for others. This would explain many of the behaviors I have observed in my former colleagues and hear from people who call.

Paul Lawrence and Victor Lipman suggest that a disproportionate number of sociopaths are in leadership positions (Lawrence and Lipman, "The Disturbing Link between Psychopathy and Leadership," Forbes, April 25, 2013).  Paul Babiak and Robert Hare, in their book Snakes in Suits: When Psychopaths Go to Work (Harper Business, 2007), describe the traits that actually enable sociopaths to move into leadership roles. Their lack of empathy allows them to use whatever methods they want to get to the top. Martha Stout (The Sociopath Next Door) takes this further by describing how they use other people: "The perfect victim is someone who is very, very loyal. Most of us consider loyalty to be a very positive trait - and it is a positive trait. But it also blinds people to some of the traits they are loyal to." It is particularly noteworthy that the very people who contact me about controlling priests who have caused them such great concern are those who have been very loyal in the past. They could not understand that their commitment over the years was not only being ignored but abused.

We need not conclude that these are bad people, as Seth Myers explains in "Understanding the Sociopath: Cause, Motivation, Relationship," (Psychology, April 2, 2013):

Are sociopaths bad people?  It's easy to utter a full-throated "yes" for so many reasons, but the reality is that sociopaths don't necessarily have malicious feelings toward others.  The problem is that they have very little true feeling at all for others, which allows them to treat others as objects.  The effect of their behavior is undoubtedly malicious, though the intention is not necessarily the same thing.

This can explain the behaviors of many of those whom we see as clericalist. Sociopaths are drawn to leadership positions. A man who, while growing up, has watched the influence and authority of a priest may be attracted to a life in which people fawn over him as "Father" and are loyal to his preaching. It is reasonable to conclude that there may be a significant number of sociopaths in the priesthood. Further, it would make sense that sociopaths are even more likely to work their way up to higher office.

In the national population it is estimated that four percent are sociopaths. In prisons this rises to ten percent. So out of the 12,000,000 sociopaths, only 400,000 are in prison. That means that the remaining 97 percent are free to roam. Given the behavior of those caught in sexual abuse (a crime that necessarily requires the perpetrator to view the other as an object) and the willingness of others to protect them, it would be reasonable to conclude that we are dealing with a significant number of sociopaths.

The best way to deal with this situation is to remove the sociopath's path to power. Hierarchy is not a Gospel teaching, and its current form is ideal for attracting sociopaths. If people are empowered to interact with the Gospel and participate fully in liturgical practices, the hierarchy will soon be unable to continue in its present form. If they are no longer able to control the people, they cannot function as a hierarchy. The key point here is that neither the hierarchy nor sociopaths care about the rights of others.

Instead, the leadership should act as a partner in the journey of faith. The priest should be one who is chosen from the community, one who has demonstrated a high level of compassion and ability to love. Seminary preparation should emphasize pastoral care over obedience. The broader leadership should be chosen in a similar fashion and be monitored by the community itself. If bishops (or whatever replaces them) grasp for power and fail to demonstrate empathy, they should be removed.

"But now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)

Patrick B. Edgar, DPA, M.Div., is Director of the Professional Development Center, State of Montana; and President, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC).
This article first appeared in the OMG! Journal
Some things we have been reading  
What Young Millennial Christians Believe
John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D       July 8, 2016
As vice-president of ARCC, I am pleased to announce an important conference this coming October in the Washington DC/Baltimore area. I would appreciate your passing on the information.
"Changing the Conversation - The Millennial Generation: Their Values, Belief, and Thoughts about Church."
October 29, 2016 - 1:00 to 3:00 PM
Best Western at BWI
6755 Dorsey Rd, Elkridge, Maryland
 Our Presenter is
Todd Salzman - Professor of Theology at Creighton University
One of his special interests is the belief and ethical values of the Millennial generation.
He is married to Katy Salzman, and they have identical twin boys and a daughter.
To help with our planning, we appreciate a pre-conference registration and a donation of $5 per person, payable on site at the conference.

To register or for more information, please write:    This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
The Vatican denies 'ad orientem' changes to Mass are coming
Gerard O'Connell       Jul.11,2016
The Vatican has denied media reports, based on recent statements made by Cardinal Robert Sarah in London, claiming that there will be changes in the celebration of the Mass from next Advent with the priest facing the east, and that "a reform of the reform" of the liturgy is under way.

The Vatican statement, issued on the evening of July 11 by Federico Lombardi, S.J., director of the Holy See Press Office, said "there are no new liturgical directives starting from next Advent, as someone has improperly deduced from some words of Cardinal Sarah, and it is better to avoid using the expression 'the reform of the reform,' referring to the liturgy, given that this has sometimes been the source of misunderstanding."

The Vatican statement declared that "all this was expressly agreed during a recent audience given by the pope to the said Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship." That meeting took place last Saturday, July 9, as reported in the Press Office bulletin.

The cardinal's statements in London, made at the Sacra Liturgia conference on July 5, caused consternation and much confusion in many parts of the church across the world, and in the Vatican, too. They raised the fundamental question as to whether the cardinal was acting on his own accord or whether he had received authorization from higher levels in the Vatican for saying such things.
Today's Vatican communique makes clear that Francis never authorized any such statements and that these do not correspond to what is envisaged in the liturgical books approved by the pope.
Cardinal Sarah's very public slap-down shows Pope is willing to use his authority
      Jul.13 2016
When it comes to those he disagrees with, Pope Francis's approach is to avoid direct confrontation, preferring instead to ignore them and get on with his job. But in the case of Cardinal Robert Sarah he has made an exception. 
Last week the 71-year-old Guinean prelate unilaterally announced that priests should start to turn their backs on the congregation and face east to say Mass - something which liturgical traditionalists often call for as it is how the priest celebrates the Old Rite Latin liturgy.


This is all part of an agenda described as a "reform of the reform" which would make the Mass ordinary Catholics attend on Sunday more like the one celebrated before the reforms of the Second Vatican Council. It means more latin, more chant and less participation from the congregation.


Soon after the cardinal made his remarks, however, the Vatican released a statement saying there will be no changes to this part of the liturgy and, crucially, that this had been "expressly agreed" during a recent audience between the cardinal and the Pope. It added that the phrase "reform of the reform" should be avoided.

It is highly unusual for the Vatican to publicly slap down a Prince of the Church, yet not entirely surprising given how Cardinal Sarah has operated since his appointment to lead the Holy See's liturgy department.
Cardinal George Pell is given a reduced role at the Vatican by Pope Francis months after sex abuse investigation
Aneeta Behole   Jul.10, 2016
The Pope has removed many of Cardinal George Pell's administrative functions from his role as the Vatican's key financial office.
Pope Francis essentially reversed a 2014 law that had transferred the main operational section of the patrimony office to the Australian cardinal's Secretariat for the Economy as of Saturday. 
In a slight to Pell, Francis says he's removing the tasks because there needs to be an unequivocal and full separation between those who manage Vatican assets and those who supervise them.

Cardinal Pell, a critic of the Vatican's financial wastefulness, assumed control in a bid to assert authority over different areas of the Vatican's spending.
But over time Francis has managed to trim his reach.
The announcement comes just months after Cardinal Pell appeared in front of a Rome royal commission into sexual abuse.
Two Convicted of Conspiring to Leak Vatican Secrets in 'Vatileaks 2'
Elisabetta Povoledo       Jul.7, 2016
Vatican court on Thursday found two former members of a papal oversight commission guilty of having conspired to leak confidential information and documents to the press. But as the trial known as "Vatileaks 2" came to a close, the tribunal declared that it did not have the jurisdiction to try two journalists charged with disseminating that information via separate books.

Speaking to a hushed courtroom in the somber building that houses the Holy See's judicial offices, Judge Giuseppe Dalla Torre gave Francesca Immacolata Chaouqui, a public relations specialist, a 10-month sentence, then suspended it. Frequently outspoken during months of trial testimony, Ms. Chaouqui merely smiled as the verdict was read.

Msgr. Lucio Ángel Vallejo Balda, the former secretary of the Vatican's now defunct prefecture for economic affairs, was sentenced to 18 months in prison. His secretary, Nicola Maio, who had been accused of being part of a secretive association with Ms. Chaouqui and Monsignor Vallejo Balda that conspired to leak the documents, was found not guilty after the court ruled that this organization did not exist.

The court did not rule on the merit of the charges against the journalists, Gianluigi Nuzzi and Emiliano Fittipaldi, who wrote separate exposés on supposed mismanagement and corruption at the Vatican, declaring that as the two were not Vatican officials it did not have jurisdiction to try them. But the ruling specified that freedom of the press was guaranteed by Vatican law, which the two journalists interpreted positively.
Pope appoints Chicago Archbishop to Congregation for Bishops
CNS      Jul.7, 2016
Pope Francis has named Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich a member of the Congregation for Bishops, the office that advises the pope on the nomination of bishops around the world.

Archbishop Cupich, 67, takes the place left vacant by US Cardinal William Levada, who turned 80 in mid-June and automatically ceded his membership.

The congregation is led by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, its prefect. Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington also serves as a member.

Nuncios, or Vatican ambassadors, around the world conduct the initial search for priests suitable for the office of bishop and forward their names to the congregation. Congregation members review the biographies of potential candidates along with comments and recommendations collected by the nuncios before making their recommendations to the pope.
Pope says critics won't stop him from pursuing vision for church
Cindy Wooden     Jul.5 2016
Pope Francis said he will continue pressing for a church that is open and understanding despite opposition from some clerics who "say no to everything."

"They do their work and I do mine," the pope said when asked, "What is your relationship with ultraconservatives in the church?"

The question was posed by Joaquin Morales Sola, a journalist for the Argentine newspaper La Nacion,in an interview published July 3. The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, published a translation of the interview July 5.
. . . .
"I want a church that is open, understanding, that accompanies families who are hurting," Pope Francis said.

Some church leaders do not agree with his approach, but "I continue my course without looking over my shoulder," he said, adding that he does not try to silence them. "I don't cut off heads. I've never liked doing that."
Pope Francis urged mercy toward divorced Catholics. Now bishops are deciding what that really means.
      Jul.8 2016
Three months ago, Pope Francis released a church teaching about the family, a document that both empathized heavily with the challenges of modern life and left major questions unanswered, including whether he'd opened the door to a changed place for divorced and remarried Catholics.

Such people are barred from Communion - the highest sacrament of the church - and Francis uncorked decades of debate about whether this huge pool of people were about to be let back in.
Tiny clues are starting to come in the United States, where at least two bishops - including one with a key leadership role on the topic - issued quite different reactions.
Last week, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia quietly issued guidelines "for implementing Amoris Laetitia," which did not make any changes to existing practice in the prominent, historic archdiocese. The guidelines remind that people who live outside of the church's explicit teachings - primarily people who divorce and remarry outside the church, but Chaput also included people who live together unmarried and same-sex couples - are eligible for Communion only if they don't have sex.
. . . .
In May, San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy took a very different approach, calling for a special meeting in his diocese in the fall to discuss the papal document. Every parish will have a representative there, he said.
In the diocese's May paper, McElroy wrote that Francis's document "unceasingly points to the reality that the beauty of married love is not confined to an ideal world or exceptional relationships, but is realistic and attainable for most men and women. ... The declining number of Catholics who marry in the church is an enormous pastoral problem in the Diocese of San Diego and throughout the nation. Thus it is essential for our parishes to reflect a deep culture of invitation and hospitality toward all couples who have not yet celebrated Catholic marriage."
. . . .
As with many Francis documents, experts across the church read Amoris Laetitia and saw different things. Many acknowledged he had changed no doctrine, but had given in particular divorced and remarried people a hugely warm welcome and hope that he was urging priests to be as lenient and forgiving and merciful as possible.

Many debated a footnote which talked about ministry to divorced and civilly remarried people:

"In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, 'I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord's mercy'... I would also point out that the Eucharist 'is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak'"
Special Report: After decades of mistrust, Pope pushes for breakthrough with China
Lisa Jucca, Benjamin Kang Lim and Greg Torode      Jul.14, 2016
Pope Francis is leading a determined push to fundamentally alter the relationship between the Vatican and China, which for decades has been infused with mutual suspicion and acrimony.

Interviews with some two dozen Catholic officials and clergy in Hong Kong, Italy and mainland China, as well as sources with ties to the leadership in Beijing, reveal details of an agreement that would fall short of full diplomatic ties but would address key issues at the heart of the bitter divide between the Vatican and Beijing.

A working group with members from both sides was set up in April and is discussing how to resolve a core disagreement over who has the authority to select and ordain bishops in China, several of the sources told Reuters. The group is also trying to settle a dispute over eight bishops who were appointed by Beijing but did not get papal approval - an act of defiance in the eyes of the Vatican.
In what would be a dramatic breakthrough, the pope is preparing to pardon the eight, possibly as early as this summer, paving the way to further detente, say Catholic sources with knowledge of the deliberations.

A signal of Francis' deep desire for rapprochement with China came last year in the form of a behind-the-scenes effort by the Vatican to engineer the first-ever meeting between the head of the Roman Catholic Church and the leader of the Chinese Communist Party. Aides to the pope tried to arrange a meeting when both Francis and Chinese President Xi Jinping were in New York in late September to address the United Nations General Assembly.

The meeting didn't happen. But the overture didn't go unnoticed in Beijing.

While the two sides have said they are discussing the issue of the bishops, Catholic sources gave Reuters the most detailed account yet of the negotiations and the secret steps the Vatican has taken to pave the way to a deal.
. . . .
For the Vatican, a thaw in relations with China offers the prospect of easing the plight of Christians on the mainland who for decades have been persecuted by the authorities. It may also ultimately pave the way to diplomatic relations, giving the Church full access to the world's most populous nation.
Nuns on the bus will ride to political conventions
       Jul.5, 2016
Disturbed by the language of exclusion that has characterized much of the 2016 electoral campaign, Sister Simone Campbell and a band of Catholic nuns will again board her bus to promote a vision of a more inclusive America.

The activist nun and 18 other sisters will begin their trip on July 11 in Janesville, Wis., hometown of House Speaker and Republican leader Paul Ryan, a fellow Catholic whose conservative policies Campbell has regularly criticized.

The bus tour, the latest in a series of election-year trips organized by Campbell's Washington-based lobby, Network, will eventually travel to 13 states, making  at the Republican National Convention in Cleveland in mid-July and the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia later in the month.
World's oldest priest says strict routine basis of long life
Francois Lenoir      July 10, 2016
A strict daily routine is the recipe for a long life, according to the world's oldest priest, Belgian Jacques Clemens, who will celebrate his 107th birthday on Monday.

Clemens, who has also celebrated his 80th anniversary as a Catholic priest, gets up every morning at 5.30 a.m. and goes to bed at 9.00 p.m.

When Clemens was about to retire at 75, his bishop asked him to remain in service until they found a successor - he only stopped holding regular church services at his parish in the southern Belgian village of Nalinnes last year.
Sisters of Mercy also being asked to come to Rome for conversation
Dawn Araujo-Hawkins      Jul.5 2016
The Sisters of Mercy, the largest order of women religious in the United States, are among the communities being asked to come to Rome for further conversation following the apostolic visitation, Global Sisters Report has learned. The community's communications director, Susan Carroll, confirmed the report by email but said there would be no further comment at this point.

The Vatican's congregation for religious life is contacting  to clarify "some points" following the controversial six-year investigation of American communities of women religious, the head of the congregation said June 14.

Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said the conversations involve "listening to what they say in a transparent way, without fear, without judging."
Statement by the National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC): A Call to Prayer and Action
 National Black Catholic Congress      Jul.13, 2016
The National Black Catholic Congress (NBCC) joins the nation in mourning over the tragedies in Baton Rouge, the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area, and Dallas last week. As we commend to the Lord those who have died, we pray for the consolation of all who are grieving.
It is important for Black Catholics to contribute to the ongoing national conversation about the underlying issues which have existed for too long. These issues include racism, inequality, poverty, and violence. During this Jubilee Year of Mercy, we must be signs of God's love which promotes justice. Justice promotes right relationships, which includes upholding the dignity of human life.
The NBCC invites Black Catholics and all people of good will to join in a time of prayer and action. We believe in the power of prayer. We also believe that we must cooperate with how God will answer our prayers. HENCE, THE NBCC ASKS YOU TO JOIN US IN OFFERING THIS PRAYER FROM MONDAY, JULY 18TH TO MONDAY, AUGUST 15TH: 
O God, who gave one origin to all peoples
and willed to gather from them one family for yourself, 
fill all hearts, we pray, with the fire of your love and kindle in them a desire
for the just advancement of their neighbor,
that, through the good things which you richly bestow upon all, each human person may be brought to perfection, every division may be removed, and equity and justice may be established in human society.

Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.
(Collect, Votive Mass for the Progress of Peoples,
The Roman Missal)
Pope raps countries that talk of peace in Syria but supply arms
 Philip Pullella      Jul.5, 2016
Pope Francis on Tuesday criticized countries which are arming the warring parties in Syria while speaking at the same time of peace.

The pontiff did not name any countries. President Bashar al-Assad's government is receiving military and other help from Russia and Iran, while some opposition groups have the backing of Sunni Muslim regional powers and the West.
. . . .
More than a quarter of a million people have been killed and more than 11 million displaced in Syria's five-year-old civil war, which has led to Europe's biggest refugee crisis since World War Two.
U.N.-brokered peace talks have stalled. The United Nations' envoy to Syria told the U.N. Security Council last week it remained unclear when the next round peace talks would take place. 

Francis has made many appeals for peace in Syria and has criticized arms manufacturers and traffickers, saying they cannot in good conscience call themselves Christians.
Vatican goes international in new spokesman team
Nicole Winfield      Jul.11, 2016
Pope Francis on Monday named a former Fox TV correspondent, Greg Burke, as his spokesman and tapped a Spanish woman to be the deputy, the first time a woman has held the post.

The change is aimed at making the spokesman's job - long directed at Italy and Italians - more international in focus, and reflects the demographics of the Catholic Church during the first-ever Latin American papacy.
"Obviously Italian is the internal language of the Vatican," Burke said in a phone interview. "But half of the Catholic world population is Spanish-speaking, and if you want to speak to the globe, the language is English."
Burke, 56, takes over from the Rev. Federico Lombardi, 73, a Jesuit like Francis who has been Vatican spokesman for a decade.
Burke, who is a member of the conservative Opus Dei movement, in December moved in as Lombardi's deputy after working as a communications adviser in the Vatican's secretariat of state since 2012.
His deputy will be Paloma Garcia Ovejero, 40, currently the Vatican correspondent for Spanish broadcaster Cadena Cope of the Spanish bishops' conference.
Both, therefore, come into the spokesman's office having been part of the Vatican press corps and aware of the needs of a 24/7 news cycle that seems particularly interested in the Francis pontificate.
Dublin archbishop and laywoman appointed to new Vatican communications department
      Jul.14, 2016
Pope Francis has named the Archbishop of Dublin and an American laywoman as the first members of a newly established Vatican communications department. 

Archbishop Diarmuid Martin and Kim Daniels - a media consultant who is the Director of Catholic Voices USA - are part of a 16-member body that also includes six cardinals, six bishops and two lay people. 

Daniels, a lawyer specialising in pro-life and religious freedom issues, is one of two women appointed to the group - the other is Mexican-born psychologist Leticia Soberon.

They will be members of the Holy See's Secretariat for Communications, established following a review of the Holy See's media strategy by Lord (Chris) Patten and management consultants McKinsey & Co. 

The new secretariat's aim is to better co-ordinate the Vatican's media strategy and output and to ensure it operates across all digital platforms.
Archbishop Martin, 71, has long-standing experience of working for the Vatican as secretary to the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace and then as the Holy See's Permanent Observer to the United Nations in Geneva - he was also praised for his handling of the the sexual abuse scandal in Dublin. 

Ms Daniels is a former spokeswoman for Cardinal Timothy Dolan in his capacity as President of the United States Bishops' Conference and was the founder and director of the US-branch of Catholic Voices, a lay-led group that puts forward the Church's position in the media. 

Soberon is a psychologist and academic specialising in communication and religion in the digital era based in Spain. She was one of the founders and the chief content officer of, a website devoted to exploring ethical, moral and religious questions and helped coordinate the network, a web platform for Latin American bishops.
Altoona man abused by priest kills himself just days after defeat of reform measure in bill
      Mon.dd, 2016
He was 10 years old, the product of a devout Catholic family that worshipped at Holy Name Catholic Church in Ebensburg.

An altar boy, Brian Gergely should have been preoccupied with the task of assisting his priest with the rites of Mass. Instead, he was consumed with the idea of escaping the monster behind the black robe who sexually abused him in the sacristy and the confessional.
. . . .
As an adult, Gergely shared his story of abuse with others - from his high school biology class, where he first broke the news of his abuse, to national and international media covering the worldwide clergy sex abuse scandal.

On Friday, Gergely, 46, took his own life. He hanged himself. His father found him.
His friends, other survivors of sexual abuse and victims advocates point to the fact that his death comes just days after the state Senate voted in favor of a bill that reforms the state's child sex crimes law.

Last week, the Senate stripped House Bill 1947 - by a 49-0 vote - of a measure that would have allowed victims of past abuse whose legal rights had expired to seek justice in the courts.
. . . .
Former friend and school mate at Bishop Carroll Michele Gonsman said Gergely was certain to have looked at the measure as a last hope for other victims. Gonsman described him as a "tormented soul," who in spite of going public with his abuse, never found peace and struggled throughout the years with drug and alcohol abuse. 

"All he wanted was justice," said Gonsman, herself a survivor of child sex abuse by a neighbor. "They decimated the bill and he struggled and struggled, and he killed himself."
Commission meets to investigate cardinal accused of Nazi links
Christopher Lamb      Jul.13 2016
Two years ago the Vatican ruled that Cardinal Aloysius Stepinac had performed a second miracle - the details of which have remained undisclosed - allowing for him to be canonised. All that was required for this to happen was the signature of the Pope.

But following pressure from both the Serbian government and Orthodox church Francis took the unprecedented move to form a body of bishops and historians to examine the conduct of Stepinac who is accused of collaborating with Croatia's Ustase regime, a Nazi puppet state responsible for killing thousands of Serbians and Jews.


On the other side, many Croatians passionately believe that the former Archbishop of Zagreb should be canonised: they see him as a hero who resisted communism.


In a statement the Vatican said the new commission, which met on Tuesday and Wednesday, was being asked to clarify "historical issues" around Stepinac's conduct "before, during and after the Second World War" but stressed it would not interfere with decisions over the canonisation of Stepinac, a process reserved to the Holy See.


The body, which is being led by Fr Bernard Ardura, the President of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences and is expected to sit for a year, had been established following consultations with the Serbian Orthodox Church and the Croatian bishops' conference.
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Obituary: Mike Tegeder, outspoken priest and passionate outdoors enthusiast
       Jul.10, 2016
"Fearless." "A rare bird." And a burr under the saddle of authority. The Rev. Mike Tegeder was all those things, according to those who knew him. Tegeder, 67, who died Saturday after battling lung cancer, was never afraid to speak up or get his hands dirty on behalf of others, whether that meant bucking the Catholic hierarchy or showing up with a trailer to help someone move.
. . . .
Tegeder made headlines in recent years as a vocal critic of former Archbishop John Nienstedt and the church's attempts to block gay marriage, opposition that threatened Tegeder's status as priest at his two Minneapolis churches, St. Frances Cabrini and Gichitwaa Kateri. He kept his bus driver's license up to date in case he was dismissed from the priesthood.

"He used to get under the skin of power people," said Flahavan. "He was an especially gutsy guy when it came to church reform issues."

But although Tegeder was a leader and sometimes a lighting rod, he was a humble man who didn't seek the spotlight, according to those who knew him.
Dear Pope Francis, End the Religious Ritual that Devalues Human Life
      Jul.15, 2016
Dear Pope Francis,

Every single day before communion, millions of Christians verbally declare one of the most destructive phrases in human history. On Sunday, it's tens of millions if not a half billion of the over one billion Catholic Christians worldwide-and not without repercussions.  

In the Bible, a Centurion soldier relates, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof..." (Matthew 8:8) before recounting the inner workings of the blindness of patriarchal hierarchies and slavery that exists to this day.

Applying religious context, what's important for Christians to note is that the soldier uttered the phrase pre-salvation. An unsaved (ignorant) man sharing his feelings and a religion demanding a billion saved Christians repeat the phrase daily post-salvation are entirely two different matters.

Dialogue and constructs that perpetuate "I am not worthy" are the root of all evil behavior. It is divisiveness personified. By believing we are not worthy, we open the door for the mistreatment of ourselves and the mistreatment of others as we seek to assuage the psychological pain the false belief imparts.

The guilt of unworthiness calls for us to judge ourselves and to judge others just as harshly. We cower within power-over structures or worse; we attempt to control others in our imagined superiority. The insanity continues as inferiority complexes pursue power and wealth as outward substitutes for what Jesus, Buddha, and many other saints and sages have said can only come from within.
. . . .
It's time for a mass healing. I implore you to call for an end to the religious ritual of the declaration of unworthiness. As children of God, we are equally worthy-even the "ignorant." I think deep down in your heart; you know this to be true. Lead the way and others will follow.

Healed, we can finally turn in service to one another instead of exploitation as so many already have. Then maybe, just maybe, we can all work together cooperatively to create a peaceful and harmonious world.
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