Archive for September, 2016

Doctrinal congregation convokes meeting on role of women in the church / Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Leaders of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spent three days in late September listening to women theologians, canon lawyers, Scripture scholars and specialists in other academic fields talk about roles women have played in the Catholic church and roles they could play in the future.

“After the symposium Sept. 26-28 was over, the congregation issued a brief statement outlining the topics discussed and listing the women who made formal presentations. The congregation said the papers will be published at a later date.

“Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, opened the meeting, which involved about 50 people, mostly women, and officials and consultants to the congregation, the statement said.

“The theme of “the role of women in the church” was explored first by looking at “the definition of the feminine vocation in Catholic tradition,” and proceeded to a discussion about concrete roles women have played and can play within the church.”

By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Has Pope Francis failed? / The New York Times

When Pope Francis ascended to the chair of St. Peter in March 2013, the world looked on in wonder. Here at last was a pope in line with the times, a man who preferred spontaneous gestures to ritual forms. Francis paid his own hotel bill and eschewed the red shoes. Rather than move into the grand papal apartments, he settled in the cozy guesthouse for visitors to the Vatican. He also set a new nondogmatic tone with statements like ‘Who am I to judge?’

“Observers predicted that the new pope’s warmth, humility and charisma would prompt a ‘Francis effect’ — bringing disaffected Catholics back to a church that would no longer seem so forbidding and cold. Three years into his papacy, the predictions continue. Last winter, Austen Ivereigh, the author of an excellent biography of Pope Francis, wrote that the pope’s softer stance on communion for the divorced and remarried ‘could trigger a return to parishes on a large scale.’ In its early days, Francis’ Jesuit order labored to bring Protestants back into the fold of the church. Could Francis do the same for Catholics tired of headlines about child abuse and culture wars?

“In a certain sense, things have changed …”

By Matthew Schmitz, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.

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Catholic Church needs better way to select bishops / National Catholic Reporter

By now it should be clear.

“Pope Francis really believes there is a serious lack of quality among priests and bishops in the Catholic church. Otherwise, he would not talk so often about the negative traits of certain men in ordained ministry, as he’s done again several times in recent days.

“‘The world is tired of lying charmers and — allow me say — of ‘fashionable’ priests or ‘fashionable’ bishops,’ the pope said on Sept. 16 to a group of 94 bishops consecrated in the last two years for dioceses in mission territories.

“‘The people ‘scent’ — the People of God have God’s ‘scent’ — the people can ‘scent’ and they withdraw when they recognize narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades,’ the pope warned the so-called ‘baby bishops,’ who were in Rome for a training seminar.

“He also cautioned them about too easily accepting seminarians or incardinating already ordained priests into their dioceses …”

By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article

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Canadian Bishops Write Letter Affirming Importance of Laity / Zenit: The World Seen from Rome

Echo criticism of clericalism often made by Pope Francis

The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a new document entitled The Co-responsibility of the lay Faithful in the Church and the World.

“This pastoral letter explores the great responsibility of the laity in God’s plan for the world, in which they are not simply collaborators of the clergy but are truly “co-responsible” for the Church’s being and acting …”

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Clergy abuse survivor says Vatican commission is making progress / Religion News Service

The only abuse survivor currently serving on a panel set up by Pope Francis to fight clerical sexual abuse says the Catholic Church is making good progress and welcomed changes initiated by the Vatican and the pontiff.

Marie Collins, who was raped at age 13 by a hospital chaplain in Ireland, is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

“‘I have complained about slowness and frustration in the past,’ Collins told RNS this week. ‘From my point of view as a survivor, I would like everything to happen tomorrow.’

But, she continued, ‘We have had some really positive moves.'”

By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Pennsylvania seeks diocese records in broad sweep / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“… the most wide-ranging criminal investigation ever into the scandal in the United States.”

In compelling Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses to turn over as much as 70 years’ worth of records on sexually abusive priests, the state Attorney General’s Office is mounting what could be the most wide-ranging criminal investigation ever into the scandal in the United States.

“And if history is any guide – in particular, the history of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, which was the subject of the initial two-year grand jury investigation that mushroomed into the statewide probe – here are a few things to expect in the coming months or years …”

By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on Philly.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Pope Francis addresses papal nuncios on bishop selection

The importance of bishops to a local church cannot by overstated, so the selection of bishops is a major issue for the laity. Pope Francis is equally concerned about the qualities bishops possess. He has talked about bishop selection many times during his papacy and most recently when he addressed a meeting of papal nuncios from around the world on Sept. 17. He said, in part, in a Holy See press office extract:

The selection of future bishops is a great concern of mine. Speaking with the Congregation for Bishops some time ago, I outlined the profile of the Pastors that I consider necessary for today’s Church: witnesses of the Risen Christ and not bearers of a curriculum vitae; praying bishops, familiarised with things ‘from above’ and not crushed by the weight of what is ‘below’; bishops able to enter with patience in God’s presence, so as to possess the freedom not to betray the Kerygma entrusted to them; bishops who are pastors, not princes or officials. … You are the first to have to scrutinise the fields to see where the little Davids are hidden. They are there, God will not let them be lacking. … You must go out and search for them. … You must cast your nets out widely. You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding ground of ‘friends of friends’. At stake is trust in the Lord of history and of the Church, Who never neglects their true good.”

Voice of the Faithful shares the pontiffs concerns for the quality of our bishops, and of course, is interested in the widest possible lay input into bishop selection. In a letter to Pope Francis only a few months after his election, VOTF asked him “to restore to all the laity and clergy of a diocese a formal role in the process of recommending candidates for their bishop to you prior to your appointment of him.” Enclosed with the letter was the VOTF document, “Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for Bishop.”

You can read about VOTF’s letter to the Pope and our proposal for including the laity in the selection of local bishops by visiting votf.org and clicking on Bishop Selection under the Programs button on the home page. You also can learn there about VOTF’s web portal votf.org/bishop where any Catholic in a diocese may make recommendations about the new bishop that are forwarded directly to the U.S. papal nuncio’s email box.

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