Archive for December, 2016

Pope vows Vatican reform is real despite resistance / Cruxnow.com

In his annual speech to the Roman Curia on Thursday (Dec. 22), 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.’”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Update on New York Archdiocese’s clergy sexual abuse victim compensation plan

Scores of sex abuse victims apply to Cardinal Dolan’s program for compensation form New York Archdiocese

By Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News

More than 60 victims have applied to a program founded by Timothy Cardinal Dolan to compensate people sexually abused as children by clergy in the New York Archdiocese.

“With still more time to apply, 65 people have provided accounts of abuse by priests when they were minors.

“Kenneth Feinberg, the administrator of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, has thus far offered settlement amounts to 15 victims.”

Click here to read the rest of this story …

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African Jesuit Fr. Orobator quests for women’s inclusion in church structures / National Catholic Reporter

“We stand before God, as Cain was, befuddled by a question that we simply cannot wish away at the wave of a magisterial wand. The question is: ‘Church, where is your sister? Church where is your mother?'”

When theologians or others raise concerns about the exclusion of women from decision-making roles in the Catholic church, critics often say such concerns only come from a certain subset of the Western faith community. They say those in places like Africa, where the church is burgeoning, have other worries.

“Yet one of the most trenchant voices in recent years for the full inclusion of women in Catholic ministry has been a Nigerian Jesuit theologian and priest. In 2012, for example, he came to the premier annual theological conference in the U.S. with an unsparing message.

“Discrimination against women within the Catholic community is so manifest, said the priest, that the church ‘totters on the brink of compromising its self-identity as the basic sacrament of salvation.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Letter to Pope Francis Urging Lay Preaching

Catholic faithful of the dioceses of Rochester, New York, have posted an open letter to Pope Francis on their website, “God’s Word, Many Voices,” urging the pontiff to expand lay preaching. The letter advocates for well informed and inspired lay preaching at Mass, which the authors believe can be encouraged in a manner consistent with canon law. You may click here to read the letter and add your signature, and you may read the letter in full below:

November 28, 2016

His Holiness, Pope Francis
Apostolic Palace
00120 Vatican City

Your Holiness:

We, the undersigned, understand and believe that you have the authority to offer your interpretations of the 1983 Code of Canon Law to the universal Church.  Specifically, we are requesting that you urge the bishops to take a pastoral and expansive view on lay preaching during the Eucharist.

We make this request for the following reasons.

(1) People come to church hungering for a word of inspiration that will get them through the week.

(2) Lay preaching is rooted in Scripture and Tradition.  Jesus, in his encounters with people, often empowered them to proclaim the Good News.  Take the Samaritan Woman at the Well and Mary of Magdala, for example.  Leaders of house churches in the first century, men and women alike, preached the Good News during their Eucharistic gatherings.  Hildegard of Bingen – outstanding twelfth century abbess, poet, prophet, and more – was invited on preaching tours by Rhineland bishops.  The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy found the presence of Christ in the worshiping community, as well as in Scripture, priest, and Eucharist; indeed, “all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious and active participation in liturgical celebrations” to which all the baptized “have a right and obligation” (paragraph 14).  Furthermore, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church assures us that “the holy People of God shares also in Christ’s prophetic office” (paragraph 12).

(3) Preaching is a sacred responsibility, one to which lay people are called and for which they are gifted.  Indeed, lay preaching has mushroomed over the last 40 years, and a number of U.S. dioceses have schools to prepare people for this ministry.

(4) The 1983 Code of Canon Law confirms that “lay people, like all Christ’s faithful, are deputed to the apostolate by baptism and confirmation” so that God’s salvation might be made known (#225.1).  “They can also be called upon to cooperate with Bishops and priests in the exercise of the ministry of the word” (#759).  Importantly, lay preaching is possible in circumstances of “necessity” or where “advantageous” (#766), as long as the homily – a unique form of preaching – remains with the ordained (#767.1).

So it is that we advocate for informed lay preaching in today’s Church.  We believe

(1) that the experience of a gifted and well prepared lay person can often more readily connect with the folks sitting in the pews,

(2) that many of our priests are stretched because of fewer numbers, and they no longer have adequate time to prepare a thoughtful homily,

(3) and that a priest from another country can be difficult to understand.

But this remains: everyone needs to hear a word of inspiration.

So, then, how might we envision a pastoral and expansive approach to canon law?  The local bishop could commission a gifted and well prepared lay person to preach.  In such a case, the ordained person could deliver a brief homily before calling upon the lay person to thoughtfully fill out the thrust of the homily.  Thus, there would be a continued reflection, but not at exactly the same time as the homily.  The ultimate purpose of the homily would be respected and enhanced, all the while calling upon the Spirit-filled gifts of the lay person.

With prayers for your continued good health and courageous leadership,

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Pope: Clericalism distances the people from the Church / Vatican Radio

“The evil of clericalism is a very ugly thing! It is a new edition of these people. And the victim is the same: the poor and humble people that awaits the Lord.” (Pope Francis)

The spirit of clericalism is an evil that is present in the Church today, Pope Francis said, and the victim of this spirit is the people, who feel discarded and abused. That was the Pope’s message in the homily at the morning Mass at the Casa Santa Marta.

“Among those taking part in the Mass were the members of the Council of cardinals, who are meeting with the Pope this week in Rome.

“In his homily, Pope Francis warned pastors of the dangers of becoming ‘intellectuals of religion’ with a morality far from the Revelation of God.

By Vatican Radio on News.va — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Criticism of Pope Francis rooted in misunderstanding of Vatican II / National Catholic Reporter

N.B.: This is part one of a three-part series discussing the theologies of the papacies of Pope Francis and Pope Paul VI. Links to parts two and three of the series are listed below.

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.

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this first article in Winters’ three-part series.

Click here to read the second article in this series, “Pope Paul VI’s greatness lies in his church leaderhsip after Vatican II.”

Click here to read the third article in this series, “Different popes, different personalities — and underlying continuity.”

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Sharing stories of sexual abuse ‘helps to heal the hurt’ / National Catholic Reporter

“I believe this is one of the keys to understanding and healing the sexual abuse wounds in the church. It isn’t that people are just looking to bash the church, or that they want to wallow in victimhood. They desperately need to be heard so that the hurt can be healed in God’s way. When I experienced this phenomenon recently (at a Voice of the Faithful Healing Circle), Dot’s almost hokey way of describing our primal human need came back to me.”

‘Having the horror heard helps to heal the hurt. My stepmother, Dot, shared her wonderfully alliterative mantra with me years ago as we pondered the benefits of a person going to a counselor when stuck in pain. In her wise and eye-twinkling way, Dot — whose husband had been struck by a car and killed many years before, leaving her with 12 children to raise — was telling me how she had survived.

“After my mother died suddenly from brain cancer at 64, my father, Tom, was traumatized with grief and seemed to be on his way ‘out of the picture,’ as he used to say of others who had died. One of my nine sisters, Kate, challenged him to get up and start living again. ‘Because at least you had a life before Mama, but we never did,’ she reminded him. My father not only started to live again, five years later he married Dot. Between the two of them — Dot with her 12 kids, and Tom with his 14 — they had 26 mostly grown children. Talk about having the horror heard!

“Dot’s mantra shows how she understands people getting over the pains of life. They need to be heard. If someone is willing to listen to the horrors that befall us, it feels like we are not alone. We can bear it and even find meaning in it. As St. Paul wrote to the Galatians, ‘Bear one another’s burdens and so you will fulfill the law of Christ.’

“I believe this is one of the keys to understanding and healing the sexual abuse wounds in the church. It isn’t that people are just looking to bash the church, or that they want to wallow in victimhood. They desperately need to be heard so that the hurt can be healed in God’s way. When I experienced this phenomenon recently, Dot’s almost hokey way of describing our primal human need came back to me.”

By Paul F. Morrissey, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column. Augustinian Fr. Paul F. Morrissey is the author of “The Black Wall of Silence.”

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