Catholics for Renewal


NEWS 2016

See earlier Catholics For Renewal EDITORIALS

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Closing year of ‘Amoris’ row, Pope rejects ‘narrow-minded’ stance
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Editor, Crux, 31 December 2016
......Pope Francis never mentioned the controversy on Saturday, but the thrust of his year-end meditation was a call for mercy and inclusion.     “We know that we are tempted in various ways to adopt the logic of privilege that separates, excludes and closes us off, while separating, excluding and closing off the dreams and lives of so many of our brothers and sisters,” he said in his homily.    Saying that the Christ child brings enlightenment, Francis said, “We need this light, which helps us learn from our mistakes and failed attempts in order to improve and surpass ourselves; this light born of the humble and courageous awareness of those who find the strength, time and time again, to rise up and start anew.”    When God became a human being in the form of a child, Francis said, he wanted to make himself close to all those who find themselves on the margins.     “Far from remaining an idea or an abstract essence, he wanted to be close to all those who felt lost, demeaned, hurt, discouraged, inconsolable and frightened,” he said. “Close to all those who in their bodies carry the burden of separation and loneliness, so that sin, shame, hurt, despair and exclusion would not have the final word in the lives of his sons and daughters.”    Francis extolled not a “sterile nostalgia or empty recollection of an idealized and disembodied past,” but rather “a living memory, one that helps to generate personal and communal creativity because we know that God is with us.”     If not directly a commentary on the Amoris debate, the pope’s remarks to end 2016 nevertheless seemed a summary of his overall pastoral philosophy.    Francis also focused on youth Saturday night, saying, “We cannot speak of the future without … accepting the responsibility we have for our young.”    Rather than saying adults have a responsibility for the young, the pope argued, it’s more accurate to say they have a debt to younger generations....(more)  Photo: Crux, AP Photo/Andrew Medichini. 
Meet the captain of the realists on the Church and women
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Editor, Crux, 31 December 2016
No matter where one stands on women priests in the Catholic Church, the issue obviously isn't going anywhere, and real progress on empowering women thus must come elsewhere. Nobody makes that case better today than Lucetta Scaraffia, as her latest book shows.      ROME - Two months ago, an important Vatican milestone passed in basic silence. Oct. 15 marked the 40th anniversary of Inter Insigniores, a document of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued under Pope Paul VI, which spelled out the reasons why women cannot be ordained as Catholic priests.         It came in response to the first ordinations of female clergy in the Anglican communion, and ever since it’s remained the basis for the Church’s position, although it was amplified and developed in St. Pope John Paul II’s 1994 document Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, in which the pontiff couldn’t have been more clear: “We declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women, and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”        For the last forty years, the debate on women in the Church has largely revolved around a “yes” or “no” to these documents, i.e., yes or no to women priests.       Setting aside the rights and wrongs, here’s the political lay of the land. There’s a sizable portion of the Church that considers the exclusion of women from the priesthood a vestige of patriarchy, a glass ceiling, and they’ll never be convinced the Church is serious about equality unless that ceiling is shattered.   There’s another camp, also not small, which believes the whole discussion about a “women’s problem” is a canard, something cultured despisers of the Church use as an ideological weapon, and that, in reality, Catholic women are just fine.        In the middle is probably the largest chunk of folks, who grasp that arguing over women priests right now is a waste of breath, but who nevertheless recognize that Catholicism’s rhetoric about the “feminine genius” is not always matched by making women part of the decision-making process, and who regret that often the system at the top remains a “boy’s club.”      That group wants to talk about what can be done in the here-and-now to promote leadership by women in ways that don’t always come down to pointless theoretical disputes over a question that’s already been answered.....(more)  Image: Crux, The cover of "Dall'Ultimo Banco" by Lucetta Scaraffia. (Credit: Marsilio.)
Brazil may soon have married priests, says Leonardo Boff
Extract from  Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter, 30 December 2016
Pope Francis may soon fulfill the Brazilian bishops' special request to allow married priests to resume their priestly ministry, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff said in a Dec. 25 interview in the German daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.        "The Brazilian bishops, especially the pope's close friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes, have expressly requested Pope Francis to enable married priests in Brazil to return to their pastoral ministry," Boff said. "I have recently heard that the pope wants to fulfil this request — as an experimental, preliminary phase for the moment confined to Brazil."     With its 140 million Catholics, Brazil needs at least 100,000 priests but it only has 1,800, which is a "catastrophe," Boff said. "No wonder the faithful are going over to the evangelical churches or to the Pentecostals in droves, as they are filling the personnel vacuum. If the many thousands of priests who have married are once again allowed to practice their ministry, that would be a first step to improving the situation but at the same time also an impulse for the church to free itself of the fetters of celibacy.".....(more)   Photo: NCR, Wikimedia Commons/Agência Brasil/Valter Campanato
Fighting sex abuse in the Church goes global, from the ground up
Extract from Carol Glatz, CNS, Crux, 30 December 2016
ROME - Some parts of the world see swift attention paid to victims of sexual abuse and others still experience delays or a mishandling of allegations.    This imbalance, one Jesuit expert has said, reflects how years of papal pleas and Vatican mandates have not been received or implemented consistently everywhere.   Because the church’s typical top-down approach in getting the message out may not be enough, Jesuit Father Hans Zollner is spearheading a complementary course: a global alliance built and grown from the ground up by individual priests, religious and laity along with Catholic universities, religious orders and bishops’ conferences.   Zollner, president of the Center for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, told Catholic News Service in late December of the center’s plan to launch the new alliance in the coming months.....(more)

Christmas Greetings to all

from Catholics For Renewal, Friday 23 December 2016

Our world is plainly far from perfect
Despite great effort it may not become much better in our lifetimes
But there is also so much life, beauty, and  goodness to be found
Often in stables, shadows and hidden places
And in Christ-like people, clergy and popes, and others
That bring hope and encourage perseverance

Wishing our website visitors in Australia and throughout the world a peaceful Christmas with the joy and hope that is to be found and renewed in our changing world through the birth of Christ.

Painting: God is With Us, by Hanna Cheriyan Varghese,

Pope vows Vatican reform is real despite resistance
Extract from John L. Allen Jr. Editor, Crux, 22 December 2016
Pope Francis on Thursday conceded that his efforts at Vatican reform have attracted opposition -- both “open resistance,” offered in a spirit of constructive dialogue, and “hidden” and “malicious” resistance, which he said “sprouts in distorted minds."
ROME - In his annual speech to the Roman Curia on Thursday, Pope Francis presented a sweeping vision of reform for the Vatican’s central administration, outlining the values he wants that reform to embody and insisting that old bureaucratic patterns such as “promoting to remove” must come to an end.  Pulling no punches, Francis also conceded his efforts at reform have attracted opposition  - both “open resistance,” offered in a spirit of constructive dialogue, and “hidden” and “malicious” resistance, which he said “sprouts in distorted minds and shows itself when the devil inspires bad intentions, often wrapped in sheep’s clothing.”     Yet even resistance for bad motives, he said, “is necessary and merits being heard, listened to and encouraged to express itself.”     Francis denounced an attitude toward reform in the model of Gattopardismo, a reference to a classic Italian novel, the most famous line from which is, “Everything must change so that everything can stay the same.”      The pontiff called for more lay people and more women to be included in the Vatican’s workforce, and also said he wants to see Vatican departments become increasingly “multi-cultural.”     Francis hinted that more Vatican departments will be either consolidated or eliminated before the reform is over, and suggested that additional personnel changes are also in the cards.....(more)   Photo: Crux,
 'Vatileaks priest' freed from prison by Pope in act of clemency
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 21 December 2016
A priest convicted for leaking sensitive financial documents of the Holy See has been released from jail early by Pope Francis.     Mgr Lucio Vallejo Balda walked free from his Vatican prison cell last night after Francis offered a Christmas-time clemency halfway through the Spanish priest’s 18-month sentence.     Vallejo Balda had been convicted of releasing documents revealing embarrassing details of financial mismanagement and corruption in the Vatican with two journalists who later cited the material in books.    His former colleague, Francesca Chaouqui, was given a 10-month suspended sentence for leaking documents, but served no jail time; she had just given birth at the time of her conviction.     In a statement today the Vatican said that given Vallejo Balda had “served more than half of the sentence” the Pope was releasing him as an “act of clemency”.     The priest, the statement explained, will cut all ties with the Holy See and now falls under the authority of his home diocese, Astorga.    The last Vatican employee sent to jail for leaking was Paolo Gabriele, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI’s butler, who released private papers from the papal apartments in what was the first “Vatileaks scandal”. He was pardoned by Benedict after nearly three months of serving his sentence and afterwards he remained in the employ of the Holy See by going to work at the Bambino Gesu hospital.....(more)
My Message to Pope Francis
Extract from Tony Flannery, Ireland, 20 Dec 2016
When An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, visited Pope Francis recently he agreed to take a message from me to the Pope. Below is the text of what I sent to Pope Francis:
Your Holiness, Pope Francis,
Since 1994, the credibility of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been severely damaged due to the clerical sexual abuse problems. This led to many people, even committed Catholics, asking serious questions about the structure and practices of our Church, and the reasons why Church authorities failed to deal properly with the emerging scandal. Six Irish priests who sought in their writings to examine these questions were censored by the CDF since 2006. (One priest is since deceased and received a limited degree of “pardon” from the CDF at a time in his life when he was too ill to comprehend what was happening.) Two of these priests are public figures, namely, Fr. Brian D’Arcy C.P. and myself, Fr. Tony Flannery C.Ss.R. I have been most severely censored, as I am forbidden to minister publicly as a priest.        The main concern for all of us who have been censored by the CDF is the failure of that body to act in accordance with the principles of natural justice:      We were accused and judged to be in error before we had any knowledge that a case was being prepared against us.      All condemnatory messages and proposed punishments were communicated to us indirectly, through our religious superiors. We were never given the dignity of being addressed directly.      We were not given any opportunity to explain or defend our positions, or to put them into the context of the situation in which they were written....(more)
Why Catholics are leaving the faith by age 10 – and what parents can do about it
Extract from Matt Hadro, Cru
x, Catholic News Agency, 18 December 2016
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Young Catholics are leaving the faith at an early age - sometimes before the age of 10 - and their reasons are deeper than being “bored at Mass,” the author of a recent report claims.    “Those that are leaving for no religion - and a pretty big component of them saying they are atheist or agnostic - it turns out that when you probe a bit more deeply and you allow them to talk in their own words, that they are bringing up things that are related to science and a need for evidence and a need for proof,” said Doctor Mark Gray, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.    “It’s almost a crisis in faith,” he told CNA. “In the whole concept of faith, this is a generation that is struggling with faith in ways that we haven’t seen in previous generations.”   Gray recently published the results of two national studies by CARA - which conducts social science research about the Church - in the publication Our Sunday Visitor. One of the surveys was of those who were raised Catholic but no longer identified as Catholic, ages 15 to 25. The second survey was of self-identified Catholics age 18 and over.    In exploring why young Catholics were choosing to leave the faith, he noted “an emerging profile” of youth who say they find the faith “incompatible with what they are learning in high school or at the university level.” In a perceived battle between the Catholic Church and science, the Church is losing.....(more)  Photo: Crux [Ed: why are Christmas and Easter exceptions?)

Is Pope Francis campaigning for married priests?
Extracts from Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter, 16 Dec. 2016
Just weeks after the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, life for gay seminarians and priests in the Catholic church took a turn toward the merciless.        As was widely reported last week, Pope Francis approved a document called “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which bans gay men from seminaries and ordination.     Or, at least, most gay men. The document states,        “…the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”           Though the Vatican leaves to the imagination what precisely the “so-called ‘gay culture’ might be, the guidelines suggest that gay seminarians who act like straight guys, conceal their sexualities, repress their sexual desires, and oppose any campaign for LGBT rights might be given a small window of clerical opportunity........A married priesthood would be a giant leap forward for heterosexual men, but many steps backward for women and gay men who feel called to ordained ministry in their church.Those who push for a married priesthood must face the reality that they are, wittingly or unwittingly, advocating for the advancement of straight male dominance and privilege in the church. What might seem like an incremental step forward in our church might ultimately create an even more exclusionary priesthood. .....(more)        [Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics.Photo: NCR, CNS/L'Osservatore Romano

Catholic college sacred space as place for all faiths to pray
Extract from  Michele Jurich, CNS,Melbourne Catholic, 16 Dec.  2016
 The small space has served over the years as the pastor's office, a reconciliation room and the office of an Episcopal parish-without-walls whose members worship on the St Mary's College of California campus in Moraga. Now it has a new purpose as the Interfaith Sacred Space. It provides a place of prayer for students, faculty and staff members who might have otherwise sought out the rare, vacant classroom for prayer at the Catholic college.          The college's Office of Mission and Ministry shepherded the project with input from students. The cosy space, dedicated this fall, can be entered through the back of St Mary's Chapel or through a door on the arcade facing the front of the campus.       It is simply furnished, with a small chest to hold texts; a basket, which, on a recent visit, held three prayer rugs; and another rug and pillows that soften the space. The lighting is low. A digital clock in the corner displays the times Muslims are called to prayer; the clock is a gift from a faculty family. A small water fountain provides a backdrop. It's a tranquil spot on a bustling campus.    The room is intentionally minimalist, said Karin McClellan, director of the Office of Mission and Ministry, to make it welcoming and appropriate for various faith traditions. While the enrollment at the 153-year-old St Mary's College once might have been close to 100 percent Catholic, today's student body defines itself as more diverse in religious beliefs and practices. At the dedication of the Interfaith Sacred Space, for example, blessings were offered by representatives of seven faith traditions.....(more)  Photo: Melbourne Catholic,
Service of healing for Melbourne church destroyed by fire
Extract from Cathnews, 16 December 2016
The St James Parish community in Brighton gathered earlier this month for a service of lament for healing and reconciliation as part of the rebuilding of the 123-year-old church which was razed to the ground last year.      The fire has been linked to the crimes of Ronald Pickering, who served as the church's parish priest from 1978 to 1993 before he fled to the United Kingdom, fearing prosecution.     Several people are believed to have killed themselves after being sexually abused by Pickering between 1960 and 1980.    The mother of a 20-year old boy who took his life spoke of her time at the parish.    During the service, Fr Martin Dixon, parish priest of St James and neighbouring St Joan of Arc parish said he was conscious of the past and the actions that had brought the community together.   "Although the actions of one, all of us have suffered to varying degrees, none more so than the victims and their families.   "To every young man who was abused, sexually or otherwise, I am deeply sorry," he said during the service.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews
'I let them down': Anglican Archbishop of Perth resigns
Extract from Cathnews,16 December 2016
The Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft, has resigned after admitting he let down survivors of sexual abuse, reports the ABC.   Archbishop Herft had been Archbishop of Perth since 2005, but stood aside in October to "focus my attention on the royal commission's ongoing inquiry into the Diocese of Newcastle."    He gave evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in August, and finished his testimony with an apology to the people of Newcastle, where he served as bishop between 1993 and 2005.   "I've become aware that the sacred trust that the people of this region placed upon me, I have let them down," he said. "I let them down badly.   "[I have] let down the survivors in a way that remorse itself is a very poor emotion to express."   Archbishop Herft thanked the royal commission for holding him "personally accountable" during the hearing, which stretched over two weeks.   At the time he described how he had developed a "much more realistic view" of the priesthood in recent years....(more)
Criticism of Pope Francis rooted in misunderstanding of Vatican II
Extract from  Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 12 December 12, 2016
The opposition to Pope Francis is unprecedented. There have been disagreements in the life of the church before: How could there not be? And, in recent times, we have even seen some cardinals voice disappointment or even disagreement with directives coming from Rome. For example, Belgian Cardinal Leo Joseph Suenens was not shy in voicing his concern about the manner in which the first synods of bishops after the Second Vatican Council were conducted. But claiming an apostolic exhortation is not magisterial? Publishing detailed challenges to the pope's teaching? This is uncharted territory.    I believe that the opposition to Francis is rooted in a flawed understanding of the post-conciliar era and, more specifically, where we are in the process of receiving the council. Francis, just last month, in an interview with Italian daily Avvenire, noted that it takes about 100 years to fully receive a council, and he is right. Some people thought that process was completed, and that they had mastered all the riddles of the Catholic faith in the post-conciliar age. They are very upset that their assumptions and some of their conclusions have been challenged.    Last week marked the 51st anniversary of the close of Vatican II. In the past four years, we marked the opening of the council, commemorated the promulgation of key conciliar texts, held conferences to explore the meaning of the documents, and appropriately so, because Vatican II remains the most determinative event in the life of the Catholic church in our living memory.....(more)  Photo: NCR, (CNS photo/Catholic Press Photo) 
New letter by scholars supports Cardinals' Amoris query
Extract from Cathnews, The Catholic Herald 12 December 2016
The row dividing the top levels of the Church over Amoris Laetitia has deepened, with 23 scholars and priests publicly backing the Cardinals who have sent the Pope a “please explain’’ over the issue. The Australian reports.       Signatories to the letter include four Australians.      They expressed concern over Francis’ continuing refusal to answer the four Cardinals, arguing “we think that the Holy Father’s continued silence may open him to the charge of negligence in the exercise of the Petrine duty of confirming his brethren in the faith.’     The 23 warn that the Church is “drifting perilously like a ship without a rudder, and indeed, shows symptoms of incipient disintegration. In such a situation, we believe that all Successors of the Apostles have a grave and pressing duty to speak out clearly and strongly in confirmation of the moral teachings clearly expounded in the magisterial teachings of previous popes’’.     The row intensified last week when the head of the Vatican’s canonical court for marriage, Monsignor Pio Pinto, accused the four Cardinals – an American, two Germans and an Italian - who sent the original questions to the Pope of “a very serious scandal’’ and warned they could lose their cardinals’ hats for speaking out.   Australia’s Cardinal George Pell, in contrast, has backed the right of his brother Cardinals to ask the questions, stating in London last week: “How can you disagree with a question?”       The new letter has been signed by an Australian theology professor working the US, Fr Brian Harrison; University of New England academic Anna Silvas; Melbourne priest Fr Glen Tattersall, and Perth priest David Watt.   In it, they urge other bishops and cardinals to back the four Cardinals.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews,

Priests 'pitied, patronised, reviled, ignored'
Extract from RTE News. Ireland, 16 November 2016
A leading member of the Association of Catholic Priests has said it would be dangerous for diocesan clergy in Ireland to ignore the depth of depression and despair in their ranks. Fr Brendan Hoban also criticised a small number of bishops for bullying priests and warned of an increasing number of suicides among the clergy.     Speaking at the ACP's annual general meeting in Athlone, he further criticised the apparently official policy of bishops of automatically reporting anonymous accusations of clerical abuse to An Garda Síochána. He said this practice would be unconscionable and much resisted if applied to teachers, lawyers, gardaí or any other professional group.     Aged 68 and based in Ballina, Co Mayo, Fr Hoban has reached what he says is approximately the average age of diocesan priests in Ireland.    In the past four decades very many parish priests have lost the assistance of curates who have become an endangered species, he said. He said no parish priests in his own diocese employ live-in housekeepers.    Statistics indicate that most diocesan priests may well die on their own, he continued.    In contrast to 50 years ago "there are no vocations to dioceses, congregations (are) melting away …, collections (are) declining … and morale (is) at an all-time low."    He said they are often pitied, patronised, reviled, insulted, disrespected, ignored and resented.     He said that in some dioceses, the level of distrust between priests and bishops has generated an increasingly obvious build-up of resentment and anger.   He added that some - but not many - bishops are bullying priests who do not have the confidence to face them down because of the level of control bishops exercise over their priests' lives.....(more) Photo: RTE

Challenge of the Australian Church in its outreach to Young People.
Extracts from Enda, Eastwood, Australia, Catholica, 10  December 2016,
In 1999 I submitted a doctoral thesis called Participants in an Unfinished Church. It is from an idea of the American philosopher John Dewey that we are participants in an unfinished universe and not observers of a finished universe.     This idea of Dewey’s excited me when I first came upon it because it seemed to me the only way to go in religious education of the young. Either we include them in something that is unfinished and therefore possibly developing and therefore something they have a role in forming, or we will lose them. The figures suggest that we have lost them.     I was onto what I called “the crisis of meaning in the Australian Catholic Church following the changes in the Church and Australian culture since the 1960s, and the effect of this crisis on religious education in Catholic secondary schools”.     I said that there was a gap between the organisational and institutional aspects of the Church. The organisation being the bishops and other hierarchs and organisers; the institution being the ordinary folk who turned up and still call themselves Catholic whether they come to Mass every Sunday or not or whether they keep all the rules or not.........Education is about communication and interpretation and so needs an approach to interpretation that fits the context in which it takes place........This is a bit theoretical I know. My main point is that as far as I can see the model of religious education I grew up in failed my generation. And talk of New Evangelization and /or returning to the past is a waste of time.    A possible way to go if we want to really evangelize people, young and old is to have them feel and know that they are part of the process and that they have a stake in it. ....(more)   Image: 
Priests burdened by expectations of parishioners
Extract from Cathnews, 8 December 2016
Under pressure, increasing numbers of priests are suffering from depression and anxiety. But support for clergy with mental health problems is patchy and piecemeal, according to The Tablet.    In September a 65-year-old priest in Essex told his bishop he was unable to take on responsibility for another two parishes, after the elderly clergy looking after those communities had either retired or died.   He felt overwhelmed. He was celebrating four Masses every weekend, providing support to local schools, hospitals, and hospices, and there was no other priest in the diocese available to assist him.     The problem is not confined to England and Wales. In Ireland, the dwindling clergy numbers and the resulting malaise is so extreme that, according to the Association of Catholic Priests, suicide has claimed the lives of at least five priests in recent years.    Over the past few decades, Catholic priests have come under enormous psychological strain in Britain and Ireland. The fallout from the scandal of child sex abuse has certainly been a big factor, but the decline in church attendance, the collapse in vocations, and the Church’s fading influence and prestige – the wearying effects of creeping secularisation common to all the Churches across Europe – have added to the sense of being embattled.     Parish priests are often arranging more funerals than baptisms or weddings; churches are closing; dioceses are being restructured; and bishops are spending more time on administration and less on pastoral care. Change management is difficult at the best of times and, sure enough, the cracks are starting to show.....(more)  Photo: Cathnews
Vatican updates guidelines for educating priests
Extract Cindy Wooden, CNS, National Catholic Reporter, 7 Dec. 2016
The Catholic church needs holy, healthy and humble priests and that requires prayers for vocations and the careful selection and training of candidates, said the Congregation for Clergy.   Updating 1985 guidelines for preparing men for the Latin-rite priesthood and ensuring their continuing education, training and support, the Congregation for Clergy Dec. 7 released "The Gift of the Priestly Vocation," a detailed set of guidelines and norms for priestly formation.   The updated document draws heavily on St. John Paul II's 1992 apostolic exhortation on priestly formation, as well as on the teaching of and norms issued by now-retired Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis and by Vatican offices over the past three decades.   It reaffirms an instruction approved by Benedict in 2005, which said, "the church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called 'gay culture.'"   The document insists that through courses in pastoral theology, the example of priests and practical experience, candidates for the priesthood learn that priestly ministry involves — as Pope Francis says — being "shepherds 'with the smell of the sheep,' who live in their midst to bring the mercy of God to them."....(more) Photo: NCR,   CNS / Paul Haring
New U.S. Cardinals Condemn Polarization Inside the Church    Extracts from Michael O'Loughlin, Jeremy Zipple, America, the National Catholic Review, 5 December 2016
The problem that we have today, not only in society but also in the church, is that we’ve become too polarized,” Cardinal Kevin Farrell, an Irish-born prelate who was bishop of Dallas before taking over a Vatican department on family life earlier this year, told America. “We’ve believed that we’ve become gods on both sides, on the left and on the right, and neither one of them are correct.”     The days-long celebration in Rome was centered on a solemn ceremony inside St. Peter’s Basilica on Saturday morning, Nov. 19, during which Pope Francis elevated 17 men to the rank of cardinal. They will advise the pope, and 13 of them are eligible to vote for his successor.....At issue, they said, are ambiguities in one of the pope’s pastoral letters, “Amoris Laetitia.” The letter is the pope’s summary of a two-year discussion of family issues held by bishops from around the world, including hot-button topics like divorce, homosexuality and a breakdown in societal support for families.        Some bishops have said the document’s emphasis on conscience, reconciliation and discernment opens the door to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, a view the pope himself seemed to endorse. The four cardinals opposed to such an interpretation sent a letter to the Vatican in September asking for yes or no answers to five questions they had about the document. The pope chose not to respond, leading to threats of a public rebuke from Cardinal Burke....Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago who was among those made cardinals at the Nov. 19 consistory, dismissed such concerns and said that those raising them may have to look inward for clarity. He pointed to an interview with Pope Francis published on Nov. 18 by the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, in which the pope spoke about individuals who want the world to be “black and white.”     “But life is full of ambiguity,” Cardinal Cupich said at a press briefing at the Pontifical North American College following the consistory. Cardinal Cupich, who was handpicked by Pope Francis to lead the church in Chicago, also downplayed the notion that there exists widespread opposition to the pope or that Francis should be forced to defend his teaching.....He (Cardinal Joseph Tobin) also said that those opposed to the pope’s reforms are sometimes guided by a strong sense of legalism. “I think some people get it and understand that what he’s talking about is not just a sort of catechism of questions and answers but rather a recognition of the sanctity of conscience, as well as the obligation to form it, in the Catholic population.”...(more)  Photo:  Amerca NCR
TJH Council calls for law to protect the confessional
Extract from Cathnews, 2 December 2016
The Truth, Justice and Healing Council has called for new national laws making it a crime to not report information about child sex abuse — unless it is obtained by a priest ­during the confession. The Australian reports.      In a formal submission to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the TJHC has argued that this exemption would reflect Victorian legislation granting a similar “occasion of privilege” to that protecting commun­ic­ations between lawyers and their clients.    Under questioning at the commission yesterday, TJHC CEO Francis Sullivan said “parliaments will need to make their own decisions and then … priests will, like everybody else, have to obey the law or disobey the law.”      A series of child abuse scandals in recent decades has revealed “a shameful history, a rather confronting history within the Catholic Church of how sexual offenders were handled,” Mr Sullivan said.   This included the cover-up of known child sex offenders, and the moving of paedophile priests ­between parishes or dioceses, ­allowing them to offend again.    “We’re talking about culture. We’re talking about self-preservation. We’re talking about how the powers that be at a given time are more concerned about public scandal and reputation damage … than they were about the specific interests of a child,” he said.    The issue is expected to provoke controversy when the commission holds a three-week hearing into the Church in February, having ­recently flagged it will consider “the protection of the confessional.”....(more)  Image: Cathnews   [Ed: in an earlier submission to the Royal Commission Catholics for Renewal commented that confessional absolution for CSA offences should be conditional upon the offender directly reporting an offence to police, in keeping with existing practice that absolution is dependent on repentance and restitution].
Archbishop Coleridge elected as chair for historic plenary council planning the future of the Church in Australia
Extract from Mark Bowling, The Catholic Leader, National News, 1 December 1 2016
BRISBANE Archbishop Mark Coleridge has been elected to chair a special bishops’ commission to plan and run an historic plenary council of the entire Church in Australia.    It is to be held in 2020, only the fifth time in Australia’s history, and 79 years after the previous plenary council meeting.    Archbishop Coleridge was elected during the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference meeting in Sydney last month to chair the six-member special bishops’ commission.    “What the plenary council is all about is planning for the future of the Church in this country at a very complex time,” Archbishop Coleridge said.    He said the plenary council 2020 would have to consider deep questions of culture and the Church.     There would have to be genuine and thorough responses to all that had come to light in the Royal Commission into child sexual abuse.     “We can’t just put up a sign saying business as usual,” he said.     “The Church is not the presence in our society it once was. We need to take a measure of that and make decisions accordingly.     “The culture in which we have to proclaim the Gospel is very different to what it was even 20 or 30 years ago.”     A plenary council, or synod, can discuss and legislate on a wide range of issues, including matters of faith, morals and discipline.    They are a rarity in Australian history.    The last was held in 1937, and before that in 1885, 1895 and 1905 – each exclusively male gatherings, with only bishops, theologians and superiors of male religious orders attending.     “I think the bishops are very conscious that this call to the plenary council has come from God and the whole process will be the work of the Holy Spirit,” Archbishop Coleridge said.     “We have to discern what the Spirit is saying to the Church at this time.     Reaching a new generation: “The culture in which we have to proclaim the Gospel is very different to what it was even 20 or 30 years ago.”....(more).  Photo: CNS Reaching a new generation: “The culture in which we have to proclaim the Gospel is very different to what it was even 20 or 30 years ago.” Photo: CNS  plenary-council
Achbishops condemn Vic government over teens in adult prisons
Extract from Cathnews, 1 December 2016
Melbourne's Catholic and Anglican Archbishops have penned a joint letter to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews condemning the State government's decision to house teenagers in the "harshest of adult prison settings," reports the ABC.      Archbishop Denis Hart and Anglican Archbishop Philip Freier said they had taken the unusual step because they shared a deep concern about the welfare of "the most vulnerable and impressionable children" in the youth justice system.     The Andrews government last week started transferring teenagers from the Melbourne Youth Justice Centre in Parkville to a segregated wing of Barwon prison near Geelong, following riots that left a damage bill of up to $1 million.    But the Archbishops said the maximum security adult prison was designed to contain and manage serious adult offenders, rather than focus on rehabilitating young people.    "While we understand that the government has had to make an emergency response to recent unrest within the system we are gravely concerned that part of that response has resulted in children being transferred into the harshest of adult prison settings," they wrote.....(more)
Newman College appoints honorary Pope Francis Fellow
Edited Extracts from Words: Tiffany Obrien, Melbourne Catholic, Thursday 1 December 2016
On Wednesday 16 November at the Newman College council meeting, Archbishop Denis Hart launched the honorary Pope Francis Fellow position.....The Pope Francis Fellow will promote and disseminate the witness and teaching of Pope Francis by: organising two prominent international Catholic speakers each calendar year to deliver the Helder Camara lecture at Newman College on themes connected to the thought of Pope Francis in the spirit of Dom Helder;  conducting annual symposiums on key documents of Pope Francis such as: Evangelii gaudium (The joy of the Gospel, 2013);  Laudato Si’ (Praise be to you: On care for our common home, 2015), Laudato Si’ (Praise be to you: On care for our common home, 2015; Amoris Laetitia (The joy of love: Post-synodal apostolic exhortation on love in the family, 2016);  developing—at the direction of the Rector of Newman College—seminars and retreats for undergraduate and graduate students at Newman College;  coordinating a two-week study tour in Rome that introduces participants to the mission and witness of Pope Francis within the context of global Catholicism today....(more)
Parish roundup: Detroit's synod participants want spiritual formation for all ages
Extracts from Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter, and  30 November 2016
Editor's note: "The Field Hospital" blog series covers life in U.S. and Canadian Catholic parishes. The title comes from Pope Francis' words: "I see the church as a field hospital after battle. It is useless to ask a seriously injured person if he has high cholesterol and about the level of his blood sugars! You have to heal his wounds. Then we can talk about everything else. …".....(more)..... More than half the participants of a Catholic church gathering over the weekend pinpointed a project they would like to see the Archdiocese of Detroit’s Central Services take on: A plan that addresses spiritual formation for all stages of life from childhood to the seniors years.    Close to 400 Catholics assembled downtown to discuss ways the Archdiocese of Detroit can transform the local Catholic church and its parishes. The three-day gathering ended Sunday after area clergy and laity joined for workshops as part of Synod 16, the first time since 1969 that the Archdiocese of Detroit has gathered to embark on transforming the church and addressing changes.    A synod is a religious gathering to discuss ways to follow fundamental religious teaching while also reshaping how parishioners pray, share their faith and address spiritual needs for the future....(more)
Catholic Church and the Royal Commission on Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Extract from Peter Johnstone, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue blog, 21/11/2016, republished here 28 November 2016
....In May 2016, the Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released Issues Paper 11 – Catholic Church Final Hearing, inviting submissions for its final Catholic Church hearing scheduled for three weeks 6-24 February 2017. That hearing will review the horror of clerical child sexual abuse and the Church’s cover-up and protection of abusing clergy, including “factors that may have affected the institutional response of the Catholic Church to child sexual abuse.” The hearing will doubtless attempt to answer the question asked by many Catholics: How could the leadership of our Church behave in this way whilst continuing to espouse and teach Christian values?....The Issues Paper leaves little doubt that the Royal Commission recognises that the Catholic Church’s governance is dysfunctional, that the real scandal of clerical child sexual abuse goes beyond the criminal abuse of children to the immoral and shameful cover-up and protection of abusing clergy by the institutional Church, sacrificing children to protect the Church. The scandal has exposed the Church’s dysfunctional governance.....(more)
"To have courage and Prophetic Audacity"
Edited extract from Dialogue of Pope Francis with the Jesuits gathered in the 36th General Congregation, 24 October 2016
Downloaded in English from  La Civiltà Cattolica. 26 November 2016
[Ed: This address is valuable for many reasons, including that Pope Francis affirmed that the moral authority behind the second Synod’s reaffirmation of the Internal Forum is the teaching on the primacy of conscience of Thomas Aquinas himself. That swayed the Synod because it has been a central and standard theological teaching of the Catholic Church for eight hundred years.]

n October 24, 2016, Pope Francis met the Jesuits gathered in their 36th General Congregation. A few minutes before 9:00 in the morning he arrived in an ordinary car. After greeting Father General and the others who  were  waiting  for  him,  he  went  to  the  Aula  of  the  Congregation  where  he  joined  the  delegates  in  prayer.    Then  he  gave  a  speech.  After  a break, he entered into a time of frank and cordial dialogue with the delegates, who spontaneously asked him some questions. The Pope did not want the questions to be selected beforehand, nor did he want to see them first.         This gave life to a family-style encounter that lasted about an hour and a half.       At the end, Francis greeted those present one by one. We reproduce the questions and answers below. In the Aula, for practical reasons, the questions were asked in groups of three. The following text reproduces the Pontiff’s answers in their entirety and, for ease of reading, separates  the  questions, giving  the  basic  thrust  of  each  one.      The  text  preserves the tone and meaning of the oral conversation....
The illness of clericalism
Extract from Robert Mickens, La Croix International (a subscription journal) 25 Nov 2016
Rome: Those who are still not able or willing to understand the current pope should read the transcript of a free-flowing discussion he had in late October with fellow Jesuits.       Pope Francis’ plan for reforming and renewing the worldwide Catholic Church is becoming clearer by the day – except, perhaps, for those with “minds closed” or those who are “stupid, brainless people who have eyes and do not see, who have ears and do not hear” (cf. Jeremiah 5, 21; Mark 8,18).       The pope’s plan for reform is rooted in one simple, yet very profound notion – God’s mercy.     In fact, Francis dedicated an entire year to the theme, the recently concluded Holy Year of Mercy.....(more - by subscription)
 40% of Montreal parishes face closure due to cash crunch
Extract from Cathnews, The Catholic Register, 25 November 2016
Montreal’s community of English-speaking practising Catholics has shrunk to the point that 14 of the Archdiocese’s 34 parishes could face eventual closure barring an unexpected turnaround in fortunes, according to The Catholic Register.    “I wouldn’t say the glass is empty, there are resources we can tap, we just have to figure a way to turn on the tap,” Bishop Thomas Dowd said.   "The Lord needs a lot of parishes, but realistically, he doesn’t need a lot of buildings. Finances are a real distraction. Given the demographics we can perhaps sustain 20 parishes. At the moment there are 34.”    Although Montreal has 201,760 registered English-speaking Catholics, only about five percent attend Mass on any given Sunday. Only 18 parishes have a priest they can call their own.    Bishop Dowd said there are 141,230 English-speaking Catholics who “don’t participate at all.”   Of Montreal’s 34 English parishes, 11 are having problems meeting their expenses, he said. Several other parishes cannot afford to pay their priest.   “We have two choices. We either close churches or respond to dynamics of viability,” he said.....(more) Photo: cathnews,
In latest meeting, Synod of Bishops finalizes preparatory doc for 2018
Edited Extract from Elise Harris, Crux, Catholic News Agency, 23 November 2013
Rome. This week Pope Francis presided on the Synod of Bishops in order to prepare the groundwork for the Ordinary Synod on the topic of “Young People, the Faith and the Discernment of Vocation.” The preparatory document and questionnaire written at the meeting will be sent throughout the world in order to prepare for the Synod scheduled on October 2018.      The Synod of Bishops met in Rome this week to finalize the preparatory document and questionnaire that will form the basis of the discussion for the upcoming gathering to discuss youth, faith and discernment.     The document, which includes a questionnaire, will be sent out to Episcopal Conferences and to Synods of Eastern Catholic Churches “sui iuris” (independent) so that it can be distributed to dioceses and other ecclesial institutions throughout the world in order to prepare for the 2018 Ordinary Synod.    During the meeting, members of the Synod Council split up into small groups divided by continent in order to identify specific questions regarding youth “in different geographical and cultural contexts.”....(more) Photo, Crux
Church can’t be understood without laity, new cardinal says
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondent, Crux, 22 Novembver 2016
.....When we speak of fighting secularization, we speak of “The Church” and it’s often interpreted as if it’s the hierarchy and religious women. What can the laity do, as you said, to take Christ into these paths?     The Church is not understood without the laity! I believe that the people of God, as a whole, must be involved, each one from the place where we are. Priests as priests, but the laity in the commitments they have, in the worlds of the family, economics, politics, culture. In all places where men and women move, we have to leave an imprint.    The whole Church, and a Church that’s united, [must be] living that communion. [It’s] a Church that knows itself to be sustained by our Lord, who is the one who has called us to give to this world the most important news that a person can receive: That God loves us, that God counts on us.   God is not an obstacle. On the contrary, he is the guarantor of a person’s true freedom, and the guarantor of fraternity in this world.   When God is abandoned and marginalized, this world doesn’t do well. Because the guarantor of the best for the life of a person is God himself, who has created us in his image, and who wants us to live  respecting others, giving guarantees of life to the other.....(more)
Detroit synod devotes discussion to archdiocese's mission, challenges
Extracts from Kristen Whitney Daniels, National Catholic Reporter, 22 November 2016 
.....On an unseasonably warm November day, 400 members of the Detroit archdiocese's "Synod '16" filed into St. Aloysius Catholic Church to discuss that effort. The majestic three-story church stands in stark contrast to the dilapidated, abandoned and run-down buildings that surround it.........."Like a lot of organizations that subsist in our city, we've had to reorganize structurally, we've had to part with some churches and to adapt to shifting populations, especially in the city, a quickly decreasing population," Kohn said. "That kind of thing has been the groundwork for [Synod '16]."...."What we've done in recent years in terms of pastoral planning with our parishes in terms of fundraising, getting a lot of our parishes on good financial footing, that has all been in earnest and anticipation of redoubling ourselves toward the mission of our church. And Synod '16 is a very special part of that," said Kohn.....According to The Michigan Catholic, the archdiocese's newspaper, these are the propositions that garnered the most support in each category during the synod:....Eyes will be on the archdiocese and the archbishop as they sift through the information gathered during the synod. Many will look to see how the momentum generated by the synod translates into practical results. Official results of Synod '16 won't be released until June 4, 2017, Pentecost Sunday.....(more) Photo: NCR  / Kristen Whitney Daniels) 
Three messages from the new crop of Cardinals
Extract from Cathnews, John Allen, Crux, 22 November 2016
"Pretty much everything a pope does exercises leadership and shapes culture in the Church, whether or not it comes wrapped in a binding magisterial declaration, and the creation of 17 new Cardinals was a case in point," writes John Allen.   Francis delivered a talk on Sunday morning, which was notable for its plea to avoid in-fighting at a time when public crossfires involving bishops seem increasingly common. In reality, however, the most important statement of the day was made well in advance, in the form of his picks for new Princes of the Church.    Here are three take-aways from Sunday's consistory, which is the third of Francis’s papacy.....(more) Photo: Cathnews
A Lost Tribe: priests at risk: Address of Brendan Hoban to the AGM
Extract from Brendan Hoban, published 17 Nov in Irish Asociation of Catholic Priests journal, linked here 22 November 2016
First, I want to make it clear that what I have to say has to do with the world of diocesan priests. Whether it applies to others – non-diocesan priests, if you’ll pardon that expression – that’s for them to judge.      I speak out of my own experience.     In recent decades the Care of Priests has become a regular item on the agendas of Priests Councils and in the conversations priests have about our future lives.     Paddy Sweeney has an excellent article in a recent edition of The Furrow and I’ve written about it myself. Séamus Ahearne alluded to it in a recent contribution to the website.      Fifty years ago no one talked about the care of priests or priests at risk.     What’s different now from fifty years ago? Well, everything or almost everything.    I was ordained forty three years ago, and I was appointed a curate in Crossmolina parish. My parish priest was Ben McLoughlin, a lovely man, who was around my age now. (I’m 68, he was 70 then).     Every time I visited him, his house-keeper of over 40 years, Mary Forde, carried out a long practised liturgy with its rubrics hallowed from time immemorial: she took out the china cups, cut the crusts off the sandwiches, handed me a cloth napkin, she left the room and returned discreetly every five minutes to ‘heat up the tea’.    I was 25 at the time and I imagined that when I was Ben’s age, my circumstances would be like his.    But my life now as parish priest in Moygownagh couldn’t be more different. And it isn’t just that there’s no live-in housekeeper, no china cups or neatly presented sandwiches but that the safe, secure, confident clerical world that Ben inhabited has imploded completely.....(more)
Pope Francis' homily for the Consistory for the Creation of new Cardinals
Extract from  Vatican Radio, 19 November 2016
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis, in his homily at the Consistory which took place in St Peter’s Basilica on Saturday, reflected on the Lord’s “Sermon on the Plain,” found in the Gospel of St Luke.     The Holy Father said that, by taking the Apostles down from the mountaintop and setting them in the midst of the people on the plain, our Lord “shows the Apostles, and ourselves, that the true heights are reached on the plain, while the plain reminds us that the heights are found in a gaze and above all in a call: ‘Be merciful as the Father is merciful’.”   Speaking to the newly created Cardinals, Pope Francis said, “Today each of you, dear brothers, is asked to cherish in your own heart, and in the heart, this summons to be merciful like the Father.”      Read the full text of the Pope’s homily, as prepared.....HERE  Photo, Vatican Radio, ANSA 
Cardinals issue direct challenge to Pope Francis
Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Walter Brandmüller, Joachim Meisner and Raymond Burke have threatened to issue 'a formal act of correction' if Pope Francis fails to clarify certain points in Amoris Laetitia.
Extract from Robert Mickens, Rome,  subscription journal La Croix International, 19 November 2016
Pope Francis presides at his third cardinal-creating consistory tomorrow in St Peter’s Basilica where he will give the red hat to thirteen new papal electors and four others over the age of eighty who are ineligible to vote in a conclave.    It is essential to note that the pope has chosen to hold the ceremony in conjunction with the conclusion of the Holy Year of Mercy, which he has tied the renewal brought by the Second Vatican Council.      “The Jubilee was also the Jubilee of the Council, hic et nunc, where the time of (the Council’s) reception and the time of forgiveness coincide,” Francis explained in a new interview that appeared on Friday in the Italian Catholic daily L’Avvenire....(more). Photo La Croix,  Joachim Meisner / Raimond Spekking / Wikipedia
Women deacons commission to meet in Rome for first time next week
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 19 November 2016
The new Vatican commission studying the possibility of allowing women to serve as deacons in the Catholic church will be meeting in Rome for the first time as a full group Nov. 25-26.       The dates of the meeting, anticipated in recent months, was first reported Saturday by the U.S. newspaper Newsday, which spoke to commission member and NCR columnist Phyllis Zagano.       Pope Francis' creation of the commission, formally known as the Study Commission on the Women's Diaconate, has been seen as signaling an historic openness to the possibility of ending the Catholic church's practice of an all-male clergy.       The commission is made up of 12 experts in patristic theology, ecclesiology, and spirituality. It is led by Archbishop Luis Francisco Ladaria, a Jesuit who serves as the second-in-command of the Vatican's doctrinal congregation.      As reported first by NCR, Francis promised to create the commission during a meeting at the Vatican in May with some 900 leaders of the world’s congregations of Catholic women religious, who were in Rome for the triennial meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG).    Later, during a press conference with journalists in June, the pope said he had asked both Cardinal Gerhard Müller, head of the doctrinal congregation, and Sr. Carmen Sammut, the UISG president, to make a list of people he might consider for the group....(more)
Creating new cardinals, Francis warns against 'virus of polarization' in the church.   Extract from  Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 19 November 2016
Vatican City. Pope Francis has warned the world's Catholic cardinals against a "virus of polarization and animosity" that he says has seeped into the church, telling the church's highest prelates on Saturday that such attitudes are "contrary to the richness and universality" of the faith community.     Speaking during a formal ceremony in St. Peter's Basilica marking the creation of 17 new cardinals, the pontiff told the prelates that we live in an era in which people try to solve "grave global problems and issues" by excluding others or separating groups of people from one another.    "Without our realizing it, this way of thinking becomes part of the way we live and act," said the pope. "Everything and everyone then begins to savor of animosity. Little by little, our differences turn into symptoms of hostility, threats and violence."    "How many situations of uncertainty and suffering are sown by this growing animosity between peoples, between us!" Francis exclaimed. "Yes, between us, within our communities, our priests, our meetings."     "The virus of polarization and animosity permeates our way of thinking, feeling and acting," the pope continued. "We are not immune from this and we need to take care lest such attitudes find a place in our hearts, because this would be contrary to the richness and universality of the church, which is tangibly evident in the College of Cardinals."     Francis was speaking Saturday in a homily in St. Peter's Basilica during what is formally known as a consistory, a high ceremony marking the creation of new cardinals by the pope.    The pope's warning against polarization in the church comes the same week four semi-retired cardinals publicly questioned his most recent teachings on family life, issuing an open letter to the pontiff challenging him to respond to their concerns following the publication of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetita.....(more)  Photo, NCR, (CNS photo/Paul Haring) 
Soon-to-be cardinal lauds Francis' focus on the pastoral dimension
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 17 November 2016
Amoris Laetitia. Rome. One of the 17 Catholic prelates who will be named a cardinal by Pope Francis on Saturday says the pontiff has expanded his own understanding of the diocesan bishop's role, especially with his focus on integrating divorced and remarried people into the church's ministry.    Bishop Maurice Piat, who leads the Port-Louis diocese on the Indian Ocean island of Mauritius, said in an NCR interview Wednesday that Francis' recent exhortation on family life adds a new "pastoral dimension" to the church's work.     "Before, we talked about ... married and divorced people as what canon law says, what the doctrine says," said the cardinal-designate. "The pope doesn't deny anything about that. He said it very explicitly many times.     "But he adds the pastoral dimension and the discernment that we have to have while accompanying these people," Piat continued. "It's not just when they ask what they can do that we can give a decision. We're not there to give decisions mainly. We're there to accompany, to understand, and to see how God himself is working in broken lives."     "This is a new dimension and it has to be knitted with the other dimensions," he said. "It doesn't exclude them."...(more)   Photo, Cardinal-designate Maurice Piat of Port-Louis, Mauritius (CNS/Courtesy of the Port-Louis diocese)
Vatican Family head criticises Archbishop's policy on Amoris
Extract from Cathnews, Catholi News Service,  18 November 201
n a criticism of Archbishop Charles Chaput, US Cardinal-designate Kevin Farrell said he believes the US Bishops as a whole should have discussed pastoral guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia before individual bishops began issuing guidelines.         Implementing Amoris Laetitia "has to be done in communion with our bishops. I think that it would have been wiser to wait for the gathering of the conference of bishops where all the bishops of the United States or all the bishops of a country would sit down and discuss these things."      In September, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, then-president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement on Amoris Laetitia in which he announced that a report had been sent to Rome on the "reception and implementation" of the apostolic exhortation.       The committee that produced the report was headed by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, head of the US Bishops' ad hoc committee for implementing Amoris Laetitia.   In July, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued its own pastoral guidelines on the exhortation. Since then, other bishops have issued guidelines on the document and pastoral discernment and accompaniment of married couples.     Among other things, the Philadelphia guidelines state that while divorced and civilly remarried couples should be welcome in parishes and accompanied by priests, they may not receive Communion unless they live as brother and sister.       Cardinal-designate Farrell, recently appointed as the prefect of the new Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, said: "I don't share the view of what Archbishop Chaput did. I think there are all kinds of different circumstances and situations that we have to look at - each case as it is presented to us."....(more)
Vatican Family head criticises Archbishop's policy on Amoris
Extract from Cathnews, Catholi News Service,  18 November 2016

In a criticism of Archbishop Charles Chaput, US Cardinal-designate Kevin Farrell said he believes the US Bishops as a whole should have discussed pastoral guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia before individual bishops began issuing guidelines.         Implementing Amoris Laetitia "has to be done in communion with our bishops. I think that it would have been wiser to wait for the gathering of the conference of bishops where all the bishops of the United States or all the bishops of a country would sit down and discuss these things."      In September, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz, then-president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, issued a statement on Amoris Laetitia in which he announced that a report had been sent to Rome on the "reception and implementation" of the apostolic exhortation.       The committee that produced the report was headed by Archbishop Chaput of Philadelphia, head of the US Bishops' ad hoc committee for implementing Amoris Laetitia.   In July, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued its own pastoral guidelines on the exhortation. Since then, other bishops have issued guidelines on the document and pastoral discernment and accompaniment of married couples.     Among other things, the Philadelphia guidelines state that while divorced and civilly remarried couples should be welcome in parishes and accompanied by priests, they may not receive Communion unless they live as brother and sister.       Cardinal-designate Farrell, recently appointed as the prefect of the new Vatican Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, said: "I don't share the view of what Archbishop Chaput did. I think there are all kinds of different circumstances and situations that we have to look at - each case as it is presented to us."....(more)
Cardinal may make 'correction' if Pope ignores Amoris letter
Extract from Cathnews, 17 November 2016
Cardinal Raymond Burke has said it may be necessary to make a “formal act of correction” if Pope Francis doesn’t answer a letter from four cardinals asking him to clarify aspects of Amoris Laetitia. The Catholic Herald has the story.          In an interview with Edward Pentin of National Catholic Register, Cardinal Burke said that if the Pope were to teach error or heresy, “It is the duty in such cases, and historically it has happened, of cardinals and bishops to make clear that the Pope is teaching error and to ask him to correct it.”     Cardinal Burke is one of four cardinals who have written to the Pope asking for a clarification of Amoris Laetitia. They say that the document could be read as contradicting Church teaching on the moral law and on the question of Communion for the remarried. The Pope has declined to reply to the letter.     Asked what would happen if the Pope remained silent, Cardinal Burke replied: “Then we would have to address that situation. There is, in the tradition of the Church, the practice of correction of the Roman Pontiff. It is something that is clearly quite rare. But if there is no response to these questions, then I would say that it would be a question of taking a formal act of correction of a serious error.”....(more).  Photo: Cathnews,
Francis refuses 'trap' by Cardinal Burke et al over Amoris Laetitia 'errors'
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 16 November 2016
......So why is the Pope staying silent? Francis believes their questions are a trap and has opted not to engage in a debate which seems on the cardinals' terms and designed to make him restate old rules. He has also definitively endorsed the Argentinian bishops’ position which is that communion can be given to remarried Catholics in some cases - and he is leaving it up to individual bishops in general to make the call.     For the conservatives this is the crux of the problem. It is not so much “confusion” about the document but that the Pope has ruled in favour of personal conscience, discernment and power to the local churches. That is scary for them because it means throwing off the comfort blanket of clean, clear unequivocal papal teaching.      But the truth is that when it comes to marriage and divorce a “one size fits all” solution doesn’t work, and Francis knows it. He also knows that most Catholics agree and that Amoris Laetitia reflects the reality of countless numbers of parishes. And he may be sceptical of the claim that the faithful are “confused” from a group of cardinals not currently engaged in front-line pastoral work....(more)  Photo: The Tablet
Pope Francis commends pastoral dialogue led by Hispanic Catholics
Extract from Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter, 16 November 2016
In a message to the U.S. bishops' conference in Baltimore, Nov. 15, Pope Francis took time to endorse the process of the V National Encuentro, a pastoral dialogue led by Hispanic Catholics that is expected to involve more than 1 million people.    "Throughout your history, the Church in your country has welcomed and integrated new waves of immigrants," the pope said. "In their rich variety of their languages and cultural traditions, they have shaped the changing face of the American Church."     With that in mind, he said he "commends" the upcoming Encuentro, which he called a "great process of renewal and missionary outreach."        The Encuentro is a grassroots conversation beginning at the parish level and ending on a national stage in Dallas, September 2018. The four-year process is meant to analyze the realities facing Catholic Latinos, and how the Catholic community can address their shared concerns and experiences....(more)
Don’t listen to the ‘prophets of doom,’ Pope Francis insists
Extract from Melbourne Catholic By Inés San Martín, Crux Now, Tuesday 15 November 2016
Pope Francis on Sunday called for the faithful not to be driven by end-times curiosities or apocalyptic preachers, urging them to focus on what is truly important: ‘The Lord and our neighbor.’ ‘Those who follow Jesus pay no heed to prophets of doom, the nonsense of horoscopes, or frightening sermons that distract from the truly important things,’ Francis said.    It is important, he continued, to distinguish ‘the word of wisdom that God speaks to us each day’ from the shouting of those who use ‘God’s name to frighten, to nourish division and fear.’ Francis’s words came as he was celebrating Mass at St Peter’s Basilica, in Rome. The celebration was one of the events of the Holy Year of Mercy, and it served as the closing point of the Jubilee for the Socially Excluded, which began on Friday, when the pontiff encountered thousands of homeless people from around Europe....(more)
Cardinals ask Pope to clarify teaching on Communion for divorced
Extract from Cathnews, 15 November 2016
Four semi-retired Cardinals have questioned Pope Francis' teachings on family life, issuing an open letter to him to clarify how he understands Church teaching following the publication of Amoris Laetita, reports NCR Online.    While the Cardinals say they are writing the note in "an act of justice and charity" to allow the Pope to "dispel all ambiguity" about his exhortation, they pit Francis' document against others written by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI.    Publication of such an open challenge to a Pope from some of his Cardinals is exceedingly rare.   Although 13 Cardinals were reported to have questioned Francis in a letter during the 2015 Synod of Bishops, their letter was only made public after it was leaked to the press. Once it was public, several of the prelates attached to the note publicly distanced themselves from it.   The new letter on Amoris Laetita, which has five yes-or-no questions, was published openly on Monday after it was given to a number of news organisations. The full text was posted by the National Catholic Register.   The four Cardinals say they decided to make their letter public after their original September 19 note to Francis and to Cardinal Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, did not receive a response.   The four prelates signing the document are: Carlo Caffarra, former Archbishop of Bologna; Raymond Burke, head of the Order of Malta; Walter Brandmüller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; and Joachim Meisner, former Archbishop of Cologne.....(more)
Who or what is to blame for Trump?
Limited extract from Anthony Annett, United States, LaCroix International (a subscription journal), 15 November 2016
The finger points in four directions – at the Democrats, at the Republicans, at ideology, and at (American) Christianity.    I thought I would revisit an essay I wrote for Commonweal in July on the rise of Trump. I stand by what I wrote there. Of course, like almost everyone else, I had assumed that Clinton would sail to easy victory. Now that we’ve all been proven wrong, I thought it would be good to assess where we stand. Clearly, the process of collective reflection is only beginning. So let me add my voice by pointing the finger in four directions – at the Democrats, at the Republicans, at ideology, and at (American) Christianity.....First things first: Clinton was undone by a platform based on technocratic liberalism in economic policy combined with expressive individualism in social policy. She opted for a re-run of John Kerry’s sterile and dispassionate 2004 campaign. We all thought that it would be enough to beat someone like Trump. But we were wrong......(link to subscription source
Goodbye Obama, hello Trump (how transition occurs)
Extract from The Guardian, 15 November 2016
......When does President Trump take office?      At noon on Friday, 20 January 2017. Until his inauguration, neither Donald Trump, his family or his staff can take possession of the property or offices of the federal government (other than the transition spaces provided by the General Services Administration)....How many posts will Trump have to fill?   There are about 4,000 positions in the executive branch, including the White House, that are filled by appointment. About 1,200 of those positions (not including federal judges) require confirmation by the Senate, including cabinet nominees and agency heads.   It generally takes between six and nine months to fill all the positions requiring Senate approval, and well over a year to fill the mid-level positions not requiring confirmation.  What challenges will Trump face?.....(more)  Photo: The Guardian,
Authoritarian Seduction
Extracts from J.A.Dick blog, Another Voice, "Authoritarianism is very seductive", 14 November 2016
.....This week I am repeating elements of my earlier reflection, because I find it particularly appropriate this November, and as we look ahead to events in January.         Yes authoritarianism is hardly a new phenomenon. We saw it earlier in repressive political regimes in Hitler’s Germany, Mussolini’s Italy, Franco’s Spain, and the Croatian ustasha movement.      Authoritarianism is very seductive; and, just like drug dealers and their “clients,” authoritarian leaders and authoritarian followers promote authoritarian addiction. It happens when followers stop thinking for themselves and submit to the emotional rhetoric of narcissistic authoritarian leaders.        Authoritarian followers are highly submissive to authoritarian leaders and aggressively insist that everyone should behave as dictated by the authority. They are fearful about a changing world and a changing society which they neither understand nor want to understand. They would rather turn the clock back to some imagined golden era. In fact, no golden era was ever that golden; and, in any case, no one can reverse the calendar. The days, for instance, of white male supremacy in the United States are over and gone. White people will soon become the new minority group.       Authoritarian followers don’t question. They obey happily; and they happily denigrate and dismiss people who disagree with them. People seduced by authoritarianism are attracted to strong leaders, who, in often theatrical style, appeal to their feelings of fear and anxiety. They respond aggressively toward “outsides,” be they gays, Mexicans, Muslims, or political refugees. People unknown and different become the enemy.      Authoritarianism becomes even more sinister, when authoritarian leaders begin to proclaim their message in the name of Christianity, and some Christians begin to proclaim authoritarian leaders as protectors of Christian morality.....(more)
Four cardinals openly challenge Francis over 'Amoris Laetitia'
Extract from Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter, 14 November 2016
Rome. Four semi-retired cardinals have publicly questioned Pope Francis' most recent teachings on family life, issuing an open letter to the pontiff with five yes or no questions about how he understands church teaching following the publication of his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetita.     While the cardinals say they are writing the note in "an act of justice and charity" to allow the pope to "dispel all ambiguity" about his exhortation, they take a defiant tone and pit Francis' document against others written by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI.     Publication of such an open challenge to a Catholic pontiff from some of his cardinals, who normally act as the pope's staunchest defenders, is exceedingly rare.      Although 13 cardinals were reported to have questioned Francis in a letter during the 2015 Synod of Bishops, their letter was only made public after it was leaked to the press. Once it was public, several of the prelates attached to the note publicly distanced themselves from it.     The new letter on Amoris Laetita was published openly Monday after it was given to a number of news organizations. The full text was posted by the National Catholic Register. The four cardinals say they decided to make their letter public after their original Sept. 19 note to Francis and to Cardinal Gerhard Muller, head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, did not receive a response.    "The Holy Father has decided not to respond," they state. "We have interpreted his sovereign decision as an invitation to continue the reflection, and the discussion, calmly and with respect. And so we are informing the entire people of God about our initiative, offering all of the documentation."      The four prelates signing the document are: Carlo Caffarra, former archbishop of Bologna; Raymond Burke, head of the Order of Malta, Walter Brandmüller; former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences; and Joachim Meisner, former archbishop of Cologne.    The cardinals focus their questions on whether there are now circumstances under which divorced and remarried persons can receive communion, whether there are still "absolute moral norms" that prohibit Catholics from taking certain acts, and how the pope understands Catholic teaching on the role of conscience in making moral decisions.    In his exhortation, released in response to the 2014 and 2015 Synods on family life, Francis wrote that Catholic bishops and priests should no longer make blanket moral determinations about so-called "irregular" situations such as divorce and remarriage.....(more)
Vatican congratulates Trump, urges him to work for peace
Extract from Cathnews, The Catholic Herald,  10 November 2016
The Vatican has offered best wishes to Donald Trump after his victory in the US election and called on him to work for peace in the world, reports AP in The Catholic Herald.     In an interview with Vatican Radio, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, urged Mr Trump’s presidency to be “truly fruitful” and said the Vatican “notes with respect for the will expressed by the American people with this exercise in democracy.”     Cardinal Parolin also assured the President-elect of “our prayer that the Lord may enlighten and support him in his service of his country, of course, but also to the well-being and peace in the world.”     He added: “I believe that today we need all work to change the world situation, which is one of serious laceration and severe conflict.”      In response to a question about Mr Trump’s stance on immigration and specifically the Pope’s comment that “He who builds walls is not a Christian,” Cardinal Parolin said it was “too premature to make judgments.”.....(more)  Photo: Vatican Press Office.
NSW court orders priests to give evidence in civil case
Extract from Cathnews, 10 November 2016
The Archbishop of ­Adelaide, Philip Wilson, and the Director of Catholic Mission Australia, Fr Brian Lucas, have been ordered to give evidence in court about their knowledge of child abuse committed by a paedophile priest, according to The Australian.        The NSW Supreme Court has ordered both men to attend a hearing this month and to provide documents relating to discussions with or about the late Denis McAlinden, a priest of the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle who abused dozens of children between the 1950s and 1980s.     Two of McAlinden’s ­alleged victims, who cannot be identified, are suing the Maitland-New­castle diocese and the estate of its former bishop, Leo Clarke, claiming they were ­abused between the mid-1970s to late 1980s.        While the Church has previously admitted that McAlinden was an abuser, the case will centre on when officials were first aware of his crimes.      Fr Lucas, who is overseas, said yesterday: “I have always co-operated with the authorities and I have asked my solicitor to inform the parties that I will be available on my return.”....(more) Photo: Cathnews
The disaster that we chose
Extract from Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter, 9 November 2016
Shock. It is the emotional reaction that has accompanied Donald Trump's campaign from its start and it reached its climax last night. The country has administered a severe disaster to itself. The trappings of democracy cannot obscure the moral enormity, nor ameliorate the sense of disgust: This is a dreadful thing that has happened to America, but it did not happen the way an earthquake happens or a tornado happens. This self-inflicted wound was chosen.        It is futile to try and predict what a Trump presidency will look like. The thought of Attorney General Rudy Giuliani sends a shudder down one's spine. I am not a psychologist but I don't need to be: Mr. Trump has advertised his preference for unpredictability. The man who claimed he knew "more than the generals" about ISIS now looks at the landscape of American politics and media and has received the self-assurance that he knew more than all of them, he knew he would win. This will not diminish his sense of self-importance nor induce a sense of restraint. He will not now suddenly learn the human necessity of declining to cross the bounds of decency.........The president-elect delivered a conciliatory and even gracious speech last night. Do not be fooled. He rode to victory by stoking many of the worst sentiments in human nature and he awakened a beast. The beast will continue to want to be fed and when his advisors tell him not to continue agitating those base sentiments, he will scorn them. It is no secret that he already despises the Republican establishment as much or more than he despised Hillary Clinton......This election was not won or lost on any particular social issue or economic policy. This election was about our national identity. America is not the country many on the left thought it was. Consumer capitalism was never likely to be the friend of civilized democracy: It has raised millions of people whose untamed appetites govern their decisions and obliterate their moral sensibilities. Our democracy now has paid a terrible price for leaving socialization to the markets.......(more) 
White evangelicals, Catholics and Mormons carried Trump
Extract from Lauren Markoe, Religion News Service, 9 November 2016
A strong white evangelical, Catholic and Mormon vote for Donald Trump belied the condemnation many religious leaders had leveled at the tycoon and paved the way for a stunning upset after a long and polarizing campaign.     Preliminary exit polls indicate these religious groups voted for Trump by strong margins — in some cases larger than they had given to Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney in 2012.     Christians who described themselves as evangelical and born-again gave Trump 81 percent of their votes, up 3 percentage points from their support for Romney. Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton garnered 16 percent of their votes.     "Donald Trump made the most full-throated and aggressive appeal to evangelical voters ... since Ronald Reagan spoke to the Religious Roundtable in August of 1980," said Ralph Reed, chairman of the Faith & Freedom Coalition. "He made these voters of faith a centerpiece of his campaign."     Evangelical support for Trump surged even as prominent evangelicals, including Southern Baptist Russell Moore, railed against Trump's behavior toward immigrants, women and other groups as un-Christian.     Light-of-Truth-friends-2016.jpgNCR's award-winning reporting and commentary are possible because of support from people like you. Give today.     Trump never cast himself as a particularly religious person. And Clinton made her commitment to her Methodist faith known on the campaign trail.....(more)
Bishop Long: 'I urge Australians to reject these cruel measures'
Extract from Cathnews, 8 November 2016
Bishop Vincent Long OFM Con, Australian Catholic Bishops Delegate for Refugees, has condemned the Federal government's decision to ban those who arrived by boat from ever applying for a visa.     In a statement yesterday, Bishop Long said: “The announcement by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Minister for Immigration Peter Dutton that the government will introduce proposed legislation banning those who have arrived in Australia by boat from July 2013 onwards from ever being able to apply for a visa to Australia is deeply disappointing.         “Seeking asylum even by boat is not illegal. It is a basic human right. Yet not content with demeaning them, the Australian government now want to introduce laws that will ban them from ever coming here.    “The motives for these measures, in light of the current situation on Manus Island and Nauru, and in light of the bigger challenges facing Australia, are questionable at best and sinister at worst. Domestic advocates and international agencies have been appalled by the conditions under which asylum-seekers live and the effects on their health, spirits, and self-respect.      "To single out and punish further a small number of people who came by boat, even if they are found to meet the refugee definition is deliberately cruel and un-Australian. It betrays the tradition, status, and character of the country that we are proud of – a richly resourced country with a big heart for migrants and refugees.    “I urge all Australians to reject these cruel and unnecessary measures. We must find a more just, humane and effective way in dealing with the complex issues of seeking asylum and refugee protection. Inflicting more pain and harm to a small group of people who have caused us no harm is not worthy of all fair dinkum Australians....(more) Photo, Cathnews,
Australian senate blocks referendum on same-sex marriage
Extract from Rose Gamble, 8 November 2016, The Tablet
 Australia’s Parliament has voted against its Government’s plan to hold a referendum on legalising same-sex marriage.     The Senate voted 33-29 on 7 November against holding the plebiscite that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s conservative government had planned for 11 February 2017.     In a speech to the Senate on Monday before the parliamentary vote, Attorney General George Brandis implored the senators who spoke against the bill to “stop playing politics with gay people’s lives.” “Get out of the way and let us have the plebiscite that would deliver marriage equality in Australia in less than 100 days,” he said.      A public vote would have asked Australians if the Marriage Act should be revised to allow same-sex couples to marry. Mr Turnbull, whose liberal inner-Sydney constituency contains large numbers of people in same-sex relationships, has said he was sure that Australians would vote for change.   Recent polls show that around 70 percent of Australians want to see same-sex marriage legalised, reports the New York Times.     But on 7 November, opposition parties formed an alliance in order to block the bill on the grounds that a public vote would open a divisive campaign between gay-marriage supporters and its opponents. The opposition alliance has said that Parliament should decide the issue without asking the public....(more)
Welcoming our sisters and brothers in Christ
Extract from Cardinal-designate Joseph W. Tobin, Archdiocese of Indianapolis, 7 October 2016
During the past year, we’ve heard a lot about immigration. Since this is a major issue in the upcoming elections at federal, state and even local levels, I want to take this opportunity to state as clearly as possible our Church’s position on this very important matter.    Here is a summary:                                  The Gospel mandate to “welcome the stranger” requires Catholics to care for and stand with newcomers, authorized and unauthorized, including unaccompanied immigrant children, refugees and asylum-seekers, those unnecessarily detained, and victims of human trafficking. Comprehensive reform is urgently necessary to fix a broken immigration system, and should include a broad and fair legalization program with a path to citizenship; a work program with worker protections and just wages; family reunification policies; access to legal protections, which include due process procedures; refuge for those fleeing persecution and violence; and policies to address the root causes of migration. (U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,” #81).              In my recent columns, I have made the statement that no individual candidate or party platform conforms perfectly to our Church’s views on the major issues being discussed in this election. Immigration is no exception.        That means that when we examine what the candidates and political parties are saying about this issue, we must be especially careful to understand both the moral principles involved and the practical implications of the views being espoused.....(more). Photo, Archdiocese of Indianapolis 
Pope Francis names new cardinal Joseph Tobin to Newark
Extract from Inés San Martín, Vatican Correspondnent, Crux, 7 November 2016
ROME- The past month has been a whirlwind for Joseph Tobin: on Oct. 9 Pope Francis surprised the world by including him on the list of the 17 new cardinals he’ll create later in the month. And on Monday, the Vatican announced his new destination: Newark, New Jersey.       “One of my favorite descriptions of the experience of faith is ‘a willingness to be surprised by God’,” Tobin said in a statement on Monday.     “By that standard, the last weeks have been exceptionally ‘faith filled’.”      As of Nov. 19, when the pontiff formally elevates Tobin, 64, to the Church’s most exclusive club in a ceremony held in Rome known as a consistory, the US prelate will become Newark’s first cardinal, in the diocese’s 163-year history.      His fluent Spanish will be useful for leading the city’s 1.2 million Catholics, an estimated half of whom are Hispanic.     Tobin, currently in Indianapolis, will replace Archbishop John J. Myers, who presented his resignation this July, after turning 75. By canon law, it’s mandatory for every bishop to submit their resignation when reaching this age, and then it’s up to the pope to accept it and to appoint a replacement, which can take months or years, depending each case.    Self-defined as a “culture warrior,” Myers led the diocese for 15 years.    The contrast may be striking, as Myers was generally seen as something of a throw-back in terms of his concepts of clerical authority and lifestyle, while Tobin is regarded as more in the mode of Pope Francis in terms of his emphasis on simplicity and informality.....(more) Photo, Crux, Archdiocese of Indianapolis.
US bishops' conference to vote on new leadership
Extracts from Dennis Coday, 7 November, 2016
At their annual fall gathering in Baltimore Nov. 14-16, the U.S. bishops are to elect new leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and observers are watching to see if the winners signal greater or lesser adherence to the agenda of Pope Francis.    The president and vice president are elected to three-year terms. Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., will step down as president at the end of the fall assembly. A simple majority vote elects a president, which traditionally has been the sitting vice president; this year that would be DiNardo. The vice president then is elected from the remaining nine candidates.    Church historian Massimo Faggioli looks at the slate of candidates and sees "a clear split" with "two kinds of bishops."     On the one hand, Faggioli told NCR, there are bishops, "like DiNardo and Chaput … they express a clear cultural-warrior approach. You have on the other side those who clearly represent the church of Francis, like [Bishop Robert] McElroy [of San Diego] and the bishop of Santa Fe."...(more) Photo: NCR, CNS.Bob Roller,
Catholic reform group seeks to build diversity with conference changes
Extract from Jamie Mason, NCR, 7 November 2016
On Nov. 11, just days after the presidential election, Call to Action (CTA) will kick off its national conference, titled "One Earth. One People. Una Tierra. Un Pueblo."     The conference's timing and title seem especially fitting for a country that, throughout the election season, has been fractured by divisive rhetoric surrounding immigration, women, religious affiliation and climate change.    "I think there has been a groundswell of Catholics that recognize that relationships in the church and the world are broken," said David Saavedra, interim co-executive director of CTA. "It is only through the creation of authentic relationships that we are offered the opportunity to dialogue and come to greater understanding of people who have been marginalized."...(more)
Vatican rejects underground Chinese priest’s ordination as bishop
Extract from Associated Press. Crux, 7 November 2016
VATICAN CITY - The Vatican on Monday denounced the decision of a priest in China’s underground Catholic Church to be ordained bishop without the pope’s approval.    The statement was an apparent move by the Vatican to defuse tensions with China as negotiations proceed on reaching an overall agreement on bishop nominations.    Father Dong Guanhua of Hebei announced his ordination in September and offered to ordain others without the pope’s mandate. The move, however, was immediately condemned by other clergy of the underground church, the Vatican-affiliated AsiaNews missionary news agency reported.    On Monday, the Vatican press office said the Holy See hadn’t authorized any such ordinations and that, if true, they would constitute a “grave” crime in church law.    While saying it had no confirmation of Dong’s decision, the Vatican stressed that any such ordination without papal mandate is illegal even when done for “particular personal beliefs.”    China has an estimated 12 million Catholics, millions of whom worship in independent congregations outside the control of the communist party’s Chinese Catholic Patriotic Association. Priests who reject party control run the risk of severe punishment.    Starting under Pope Benedict XVI, the Vatican sought to unite all Chinese Catholics under its wing, but it has been stymied in particular over the nomination of bishops. It’s a sensitive topic for both: China considers the Holy See’s insistence on nominating bishops an infringement on its sovereignty, while the Vatican insists on the right to name successors to Christ’s original apostles.   Pope Francis has said the two sides have resumed working groups on the issue and that he is “optimistic” for an agreement. But he has said it will take time.....(more)

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