Catholics for Renewal


News 2021


A broad and  diverse mix of Local, National and International faith-related News, Information and Opinions. 
     Views expressed are those of the Authors and may or may not always represent those of Catholics For Renewal.
US Catholic bishops sign statement to LGBT youth: ‘God created you, God loves you.’
Extract from Michael J. O’Loughlin, America, The Jesuit Review, 25 January 2021
A group of U.S. Catholic bishops, including a cardinal and an archbishop, have signed a statement of support for L.G.B.T. youth, telling them, “God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”            “As we see in the Gospels, Jesus Christ taught love, mercy and welcome for all people, especially for those who felt persecuted or marginalized in any way; and the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that LGBT people are to be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity,’” reads the statement, released by the Tyler Clementi Foundation, an organization that fights L.G.B.T. bullying in schools, workplaces and faith communities.         Among those signing the statement were Cardinal Joseph Tobin, archbishop of Newark, and Archbishop John Wester, who leads the Archdiocese of Santa Fe.        “All people of goodwill should help, support, and defend LGBT youth; who attempt suicide at much higher rates than their straight counterparts; who are often homeless because of families who reject them; who are rejected, bullied and harassed; and who are the target of violent acts at alarming rates,” the statement continues.        A group of U.S. Catholic bishops, including a cardinal and an archbishop, have signed a statement of support for L.G.B.T. youth, telling them, “God created you, God loves you and God is on your side.”        “The Catholic Church values the God-given dignity of all human life and we take this opportunity to say to our LGBT friends, especially young people, that we stand with you and oppose any form of violence, bullying or harassment directed at you.”     Archbishop Wester said in a phone interview with America that he signed the statement because he wanted L.G.B.T. young people to know “you have worth, you have value and you’re a child of God.”        A former high school teacher, Archbishop Wester said bullying can be especially toxic for young people who are trying to come to terms with their sexual orientation, especially when either they or others misinterpret church teaching on homosexuality to convey the notion that being gay itself is sinful.      The Catholic Church teaches that homosexuality is “objectively disordered” and condemns sexual acts between people of the same sex as sinful. But at the same time, it says that gay people “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”      Archbishop Wester said young L.G.B.T. people may sometimes misinterpret church teaching about homosexuality and incorrectly think they are somehow cut off from God’s love as a result.       Archbishop Wester said that he signed the statement because he wanted L.G.B.T. young people to know “you have worth, you have value and you’re a child of God.”      “We have our teachings, which we prize and cherish, but those teachings need to be understood in the proper context of love and mercy,”....(more)   Photo: America, Jesuit Review 20210125 CNS photo Gregory A. Shemitz
A charade of unity: The US bishops continue to ignore Pope Francis' vision for a renewed Church
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, subscription journal, La Croix International, 23 January 2021
The pontificate of Pope Francis has now surpassed that of Benedict XVI in terms of duration. And Benedict has now been a "former" pope longer than he was actually the Roman Pontiff.      The latest milestone comes during the eight-day Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, the "octave" when Christians ask God to guide them in healing the divisions that keep their various separated Churches and communities from realizing full communion.        It is part of the ecumenical movement, which is aimed at fostering deeper relations between the different Christian denominations. Its eventual goal is the restoration of the full, visible unity of all who believe in Jesus Christ and strive to truly be his disciples.       But the work of ecumenism is severely hampered by divisions within the various denominations themselves. Sadly, every Christian Church and ecclesial community has them.       The fractures within the worldwide Orthodox Church are well-known.       The Anglican Communion, which is both praised and ridiculed for tolerating vastly different doctrinal positions among its members, has also incurred splits.       And the Roman Catholic Church has not been immune to division, either.     But until fairly recently its leaders, the bishops, have been amazingly united in an almost lockstep fashion.       Singing from the same hymn sheet, until they didn't...          There are more than 5,000 bishops around the world. And despite different cultures and languages, they have been strikingly harmonious in singing from the same hymn sheet.        After John Paul II imposed a strict litmus test on what type of candidates could be appointed to the episcopate, they have been especially mindful of following the lead set by the Bishop of Rome.        They did so, with few exceptions, during the Polish pope's long reign and also during the nearly eight years his Bavarian successor was at the helm.        But that changed not long after the Argentine Jesuit, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was elected to the See of Peter in March 2013.       Looking back at the past nearly eight years, one can see that the worldwide episcopate's honeymoon with Pope Francis was brief. That is certainly true with the bishops of the United States......(more).  Photo: Vatican at dusk mickens-13677-39 La Croix Int 20210123   

Joe Biden’s Catholicism
Extract from Paul Collins, Pearls and Irritations, John Menadue website, 18 January 202

Most of them keep their faith private, but Biden is different; he’s right up-front about his Catholicism. ‘It’s foundational to who he is,’ his long-time friend, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware says.         Coons also says that Biden’s stances on social justice, race, refugee and environmental issues are informed by ‘a deeply rooted sense of fairness’ that he learned from his parents and his Catholic formation. He has profoundly assimilated the Christian sense of the importance of the community over individualism, of putting others before self, and he sees politics in the words of Pope Francis ‘as something more noble than posturing, marketing and social spin.’              As well as the Catholic tradition of social justice, his faith is deeply rooted in the church’s spirituality and practice. He attends Mass every Sunday and quite often on weekdays. He prays regularly, often quotes the bible in political speeches and even publicly bursts into popular hymns, as he did in his November 7, 2020 victory speech when he quoted Michael Joncas’ hymn On Eagle’s Wings. ‘In the last days of the campaign,’ he said, ‘I began thinking about a hymn that means a lot to me and my family, particularly my deceased son Beau. It captures the faith that sustains me and…I hope it can provide some comfort and solace to the…Americans who have lost a loved one through this terrible virus this year.’ He then quoted the first verse:.....(more). Photo: Paul Collins

Top German bishop presses on with Church reform, promises to involve Vatican
Limited extract from Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, Subscription journal La Croix International, 11 January 2021
President of Catholic bishops' conference in Germany says local Churches must be allowed to find solutions to pressing questions like the diaconate for women.         Bishop Georg Bätzing, head of Catholic episcopal conference of Germany (DBK), has vowed to work "in close cooperation with the Vatican" as he forges ahead with his country's synodal procedure for Church reform.       "I have already had talks in the Vatican about this and plan to continue the discussions when I go down to Rome with the synodal procedure presidium as soon as possible," Bätzing said in an interview published January 3 by the Catholic news agency KNA.       The 59-year-old bishop, who has been DBK president since last March, said he plans to keep Vatican officials informed of the developments of the synodal procedure (also known as the Synodal Way) and not just its results.        He also announced that Cardinal Mario Grech, the 63-year-old Maltese prelate who recently took over as secretary general of the Synod of Bishops in Rome, "will come and see us, perhaps for our second synodal meeting".       Following Vatican Council II   The DBK president said this would allow the cardinal to see first-hand that the German Church's endeavors for reform are based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) in the tradition of the Würzburg Synod (1971-75).       Many of the demands of that national synod in the 1970s -- such as admitting women to the diaconate and opening the priesthood to married men -- have not been implemented by Rome to this day.       Bishop Bätzing said these suggested reforms, like the ongoing synodal procedure, are still being discussed and debated. Thus, he said he could understand that many Catholics were restless.       "The great majority of committed Catholics in our country want change and that is why the synodal procedure is so essential," said the DBK president, who has headed Limburg Diocese just north of Frankfurt since 2016.     He warned that if the Church did not answer the "pressing questions", it would lose credibility.          Women's ordination was one such pressing question, Bätzing said in a long interview in the January issue of the German theological monthly Herder Korrespondenz.         Church's official explanation is "less and less convincing"     He said he always tried to do his best in explaining honestly the current Church teaching on the subject.....(Source)
Pope says women can be acolytes and lectors
Extract from Christopher Lamb, The Tablet, 11 January 2021
Pope Francis has changed Church law officially to recognise female ministry and allow women to be instituted into roles previously reserved to men.       In a ruling on 11 January, Francis amended Canon Law so that women can become lectors and acolytes, which are both public ministries. The role of lector reads the scriptures during Mass while an acolyte assists a priest as an altar server.        One significance of the change is that until now it was mainly seminarians who were instituted into these positions in a formal ceremony carried out by a bishop. Both lector and acolyte roles are seen as staging posts on the path to the priesthood.         In practice, however, Francis is codifying what is already happening across the world. Women are often seen reading at Mass, while female altar servers are long-established. Nevertheless, church law had previously stated that only “lay men” could hold the lector and acolyte positions and Francis has now changed the wording to “lay people”.     The real impact of the Pope’s reform is in the symbolic significance of recognising women’s roles.        “This is the first official document in modern times to allow women across the altar rail during the Mass,” Phyllis Zagano, an academic from Hofstra University who has written extensively about the role of women in the Church, told The Tablet. “They are formally stating that women are equally human to men in terms of liturgical action.”           Explaining the changes, the Pope said he was following the reforms of the Second Vatican Council which saw “an urgent need” to “rediscover the co-responsibility of all the baptised in the Church.” The change, he added, has also been recommended by some synod of bishops gatherings, including the 2019 meeting on the Amazon region where women are already heavily involved in leading church communities....(More).  Photo: Women Acolyte Lector CNS Gregory A Shewmitz The Tablet 20210111
Archbishop Coleridge: Catholic bishops can’t risk falling back on old tactics of political engagement
Extract from Mark Coleridge, America, The Jesuit Review, 11 January 2021
The way in which Catholic bishops engage with the political process in Western liberal democracies is the fruit of a long and complex history. With the demise of Christendom and the loosening of the bond between throne and altar, popes and bishops have had to reorder their relationships to the secular order.       This has meant a certain detachment from the political process and even a reluctance to be seen interfering in politics. The separation of church and state was a hard-won achievement in the West, and by and large it has worked to the benefit of both.     It does not mean total separation, but it does mean that the relationship between the secular and the sacral has changed. This shows itself in the detachment of church leaders from the business of lawmaking and government—except when in the defense of church teachings and interests.       But bishops are quick to speak and act, for instance, on life issues (such as abortion and euthanasia), on religious freedom and on questions having to do with marriage and the family. To those we might add issues of sexuality and gender.       So, too, they are quick to intervene when it comes to Catholic schools, hospitals and welfare agencies.      They are also keen to play both sides of the political aisle, in part to foster social amity but also because they know that the electoral wheel turns; if they attach themselves too closely to one side of politics, they will pay a heavy price when the wheel does turn.     As a prudential arrangement, this has worked well enough in most circumstances.     But there have been moments in recent history when it has broken down and left the bishops seeming to be impotent bystanders or even unconscious collaborators. Think of Hitler’s Germany, where all accepted norms were cast aside and the beast was unleashed.    Papal and episcopal attempts to deal with the beast missed the mark: Something new and different was needed.....(more)   Photo: Trump Supporters pray outside Capitol 6 January 2020 CNS photo Mike Theiler Reuters America Jes. Rev. 20210111
"Cast off the dictatorship of the self," says pope on Epiphany
Francis has encouraged people "not to let ourselves be imprisoned by those imaginary specters that stifle hope"
Limited Extracts from  Loup Besmond de Senneville, subscription journal La Croix International 7 January 2021
Pope Francis, who's Christmas and New Year liturgical celebrations were severely curtailed by measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus, has invited believers to put aside their "weariness and complaints".   While celebrating Mass in St. Peter's Basilica on January 6 -- still observed in Italy and some other parts of the world as the Feast of the Epiphany -- the pope urged a small crowd of worshipers to reflect more deeply on the significance of the Magi.        He said their visit to the crib is an invitation to raise one's gaze to "escape the bottleneck of a narrow way of seeing things".       Francis said it was also a summons "to cast off the dictatorship of the self, the constant temptation to withdraw into ourselves and our own concerns".......The pope encouraged them and all Catholics to learn from the Magi and "devote more time to worship… to learn ever better how to contemplate the Lord".       "To worship the Lord, we first have to 'lift up our eyes'. In other words, not to let ourselves be imprisoned by those imaginary specters that stifle hope, not to make our problems and difficulties the center of our lives," Francis insisted.         "This does not mean denying reality, or deluding ourselves into thinking that all is well," he added.       On the contrary, he encouraged people to view "problems and anxieties in a new way".       "When we lift up our eyes to God, life's problems do not go away, no; instead we feel certain that the Lord grants us the strength to deal with them," Francis said.....(source) Photo: Pope Francis Epiphany in St. Peter's Basilica KAMIL JASINSKI  EPA MAXPPP La Croix 20210107
'You reap what you sow': Some bishops decry violence at Capitol
Extract from Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter, 6 January 2021
As the U.S. Capitol was taken over by insurrectionists on Jan. 6 seeking to disrupt the certification of the Electoral College votes to formally declare Joe Biden the winner of the presidential election, a number of Catholic bishops took to Twitter to call for prayer and peace, with a few specifically condemning the siege of the Capitol by a violent mob.       "Today's events show the immensely perilous pathway of division and polarization that our country has embarked upon in these past four years," San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy told NCR.         "We need to begin immediately a moral and spiritual regeneration in the public and political realms that touches the hearts of Americans and helps us all to see through the prism of this terrible assault on our democracy," he added, saying that the country must embrace dialogue over division as it seeks to move forward.         Unlike some Catholic leaders in recent weeks who have said President Donald Trump's refusal to accept the election results did not pose a threat to democracy, McElroy did not mince words at identifying what he sees as the root cause of the day's events.         "We must be clear in identifying this moment as the logical trajectory of the last four years of President Trump's leadership of our country and stare in the face how we have stood by without giving greater witness to the terrible danger that leadership rooted in division brings to a democratic society."        "Today we see the face of insurrection in the United States in a way that we have never witnessed in the last hundred years," said McElroy. "It is ugly and calls us to action."         Over the last six weeks, some right-wing Catholics have joined forces with evangelicals in rejecting the election outcome. In December, when protestors rallied in Washington, D.C. calling for the Supreme Court to throw out the election results, they were joined virtually by a disgraced former Vatican archbishop and a Texas Catholic bishop, along with in-person appearances from several priests and prominent Catholic pro-life activists......(more).   Photo:  Trump Demonstrators US Capital Building CNS  Reuters Mike Theiler NCR 20210106
International Church Reform Movement releases A Peoples Exhortation
Extract from Catholic Church Reform International, 6 January 2021

Catholic Church Reform Int'l recently released a survey inviting people globally to describe their experience of Covid-19 and freely share its effect on their experience of church, their place in the human family, and their hopes and dreams for our world.          We were interested in knowing whether the experience of the lockdown had changed what is important to them and whether they intended to change anything about their life as they transitioned through the pandemic. Providentially, we find it encouraging that this is also the topic of Pope Francis's newest book: Let us Dream: the Path to a Better Future.

This broad initiative was in response to the Papal Exhortation on the Amazonian Synod, released in February 2020, just as the Corona virus pandemic began its global impact.        Just as Francis immersed himself into the people and the culture they live in to understand the obstacles and opportunities they face, likewise, through this survey, we have attempted to do the same – really listening to the diversity of voices and seeking the Spirit-guided perspectives of the People of God.       The survey was conducted from July to September 2020 in five languages (English, Spanish, French, Italian, and Portuguese) with responses from thirty countries spanning six continents. While we believe we speak for a broader group, when we refer to the People of God, we are primarily reflecting the views of the participants in this survey.           The summary result, which we dare to call A Peoples Exhortation, is a parallel effort to reflect an incarnate journey and to collect broad perspectives with many points of connectedness.      For centuries, the Catholic Church has tried to make everyone sing one note, but we believe beautiful harmony can be made from all the different notes....(More)   (Context  of photo on source page - Pope Francis at  Youth Synod).

Brazilian archbishop faces accusations of abuse of seminarians
Extract from Eduardo Campos, Crux Now, 6 January 2021
SÃO PAULO – Archbishop Alberto Taveira Corrêa of Belém, an archdiocese with more than 2 million residents in the Amazon region in Brazil, faces criminal and ecclesial investigations after being accused of sexual harassment and abuse by four former seminarians.       The accusations were disclosed by the Brazilian edition of the Spanish newspaper El País at the end of December and became a high-profile scandal on January 3, when TV Globo’s weekly news show Fantástico aired a report on the story.       The names of the former seminarians have not been revealed. All of them studied at the Saint Pius X seminary in Ananindeua, in Belém’s metropolitan area, and were between 15 and 20 years old when the alleged abuse happened.      According to the alleged victims, Corrêa usually held in-person meetings with seminarians in his residence, so they didn’t suspect anything when they were invited by him.     One of them, identified as B. in El País’s story, used to frequent Corrêa’s house for spiritual guidance, but the harassment began after the seminary discovered he had a love affair with a colleague. He was 20.       According to the report, B. asked Corrêa’s help and the archbishop said that the young man had to comply with his spiritual healing method......(more)
Remembering Geoffrey Robinson: a bishop of compassion and integrity
The retired auxiliary bishop of Sydney, a staunch defender of abuse victims, has died at age 83
Limited Extract from Michael Kelly SJ, subscription journal la Croix Int. 4 January 2021
Saying farewell to Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who died this past December 29, is saying goodbye to one of the few Australian Catholic bishops with his integrity and reputation for honesty still intact. He championed the defense of the weak and the abused.         He was outstandingly intelligent and compassionate. He lent his considerable knowledge of Church law to ease the burden of those who suffered the effects of failed marriages.        He focused on what is essential in Christianity by his very accessible, popular commentaries on the Synoptic Gospels. His commentaries were well appreciated by preachers and believers of all denominational allegiance.         While our paths overlapped from time to time, it is what Bishop Robinson will be best remembered for most – caring for and promoting the rights of children abused by Catholic officials, including priests – that brought about a very significant intersection of our paths in 1997.       I vividly recall the day I was in Melbourne in 1997 and Geoff called me from Sydney on my recently acquired mobile. He was then the auxiliary Catholic bishop of Sydney (1984-2004) and champion of justice for victims of clerical sexual abuse.       He was ringing me to get advice on how to settle a score with a journalist and have a record corrected. He was furious with a young reporter from Rupert Murdoch's The Australian over a report Geoff had presented the previous day on his work with victims of abuse.        It was the first of what became annual reports on what Church authorities were doing to improve management procedures, supervise the processing of complaints and remove pedophiles from its workforce.       But Geoff was responsible for the care of victims and seeing they got some justice from Church authorities, not supervising miscreant clerics, disciplining them or seeing to their removal from the workforce.....(source) Photo:  Bishop Emeritus Geoffrey Robinson  Dr Ingrid Shafer La Croix 2021010