Archive for category Future of the Church

Editorial: Stop censoring, have a civil discussion / National Catholic Reporter

“It no longer takes the time it once did for tiny minorities to derail careers by slandering anyone who asks inconvenient questions.) National Catholic Reporter

“In September, NCR (National Catholic Reporter) and GSR (Global Sisters Reporter) have reported on three tales of Catholic thinkers censored — Jesuit Fr. James Martin; Boston College theology professor M. Shawn Copeland; and Rebecca Bratten Weiss, co-founder of the New Pro-Life Movement. The excruciating irony of these tales begins with the fact that it no longer requires an edict from the Holy Office or a word of disapproval from the local bishop to silence thought and to pronounce someone persona non grata.

“The mechanics have gone digital for sidelining someone like Martin, whose rather mild suggestions in his latest book, Building a Bridge, which urges a kinder church approach to the LGBT community, have stirred the hornet’s nest of homophobia. Bratten Weiss was branded as insufficiently pro-life for suggesting the life agenda can and should include issues of women’s rights, health care and violence. Word from Madonna University is the decision for Copeland not to speak was mutual, out of fear the situation would get ‘uglier.”‘

“It no longer takes the time it once did for tiny minorities to derail careers by slandering anyone who asks inconvenient questions. Once upon a time, such groups at least had to make the effort to send actual letters to faraway offices in Rome. They at least had to have some pull with officials there who would mistakenly construe a few dozen missives to mean the Catholic population of an entire country was up in arms.”

Editorial by National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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‘Magnum Principium’ is the latest event in the ‘liturgy wars’ / National Catholic Reporter

“It was probably not until the very late 1980s and early 1990s, however, the bubbling controversy in liturgical matters came to a boiling point.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis’ Sept. 9 announcement that he was decentralizing the Vatican’s authority over translations of liturgical texts, turning that duty back over to local bishops, created quite a buzz in Catholic circles because, for some, it capped a story that spans more than 50 years. It is the story of the ‘liturgy wars.’

“Consternation over the liturgy has roiled through the Catholic community since sweeping reforms were introduced by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) — although truth be told, many of the changes that came in the 1960s rose out of liturgical reform movements in the 1940s and ’50s.

“It was probably not until the very late 1980s and early 1990s, however, the bubbling controversy in liturgical matters came to a boiling point.

“If one wants to point to a time and event when controversy turned to conflict and the tagline ‘liturgy wars’ could be applied to what was happening, a secret meeting in the Vatican in 1997 might be that point and time.”

By James Dearie and Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter (story contains links to others in NCR series on the Magnum Principium) — Read more …

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Seeking a path from Pell to a Plenary Council / Commonweal

“The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the (clergy abuse) scandal to be so badly managed,” he (Francis Sullivan, head of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council) told me. “They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation.” (Commonweal)

Arriving in Sydney, Australia, this summer for a round of conferences sponsored by the Broken Bay Institute of the Australian Institute of Theological Education, I found a church confronting events likely to have a profound impact on its future: the Royal Commission’s completion of its work on an ‘institutional response to child sexual abuse’; the return of Cardinal George Pell from Rome to face charges on sexual abuse cases alleged to have taken place decades ago in the diocese of Ballarat; and the announcement of a Plenary Council for Australia set for 2020—the first since 1937.

“The three issues are interwoven. The Pell case frightens the institutional church for the ripple effects the trial might have on other investigations into clergy sexual abuse. It complicates the creative response of the Australian episcopate to the scandal: the creation of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council launched shortly after the establishment of the Royal Commission and headed by Francis Sullivan, a lay Catholic who for fourteen years was chief executive of Catholic Health Australia. After the expected publication of the Royal Commission’s report at the end of this year, the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council will publish its own report. It will be interesting to see how the episcopate receives it. Created by the bishops, the council has nonetheless maintained an independent attitude; for example, it has refused the request of some bishops to cross-examine witnesses heard by the Royal Commission.

“Sullivan gave me his assessment of the impact of the Royal Commission hearings. ‘The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the scandal to be so badly managed,’ he told me. ‘They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation. This has opened public debate about the role of women, celibacy, seminary training, supervision of clerics, and the ethical use of church finances.’ The church, he added, has lost control of this public debate. ‘Its voice has been muted and compromised,’ he said. ‘Any semblance of a defensive tone is jumped on by critics and the majority of the leaders have been missing in action.'”

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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Pope invokes ‘magisterial authority’ to declare liturgy change ‘irreversible’ / Cruxnow.com

“Battles over liturgical practice have been a chronic feature of Catholic life since Vatican II.” (Cruxnow.com)

Addressing a group of liturgical experts on Thursday (Aug. 24), Pope Francis said that after the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and a long path of experience, ‘We can affirm with certainty and magisterial authority that the liturgical reform is irreversible.’

“The declaration came in a speech on Thursday (Aug. 24) to Italy’s ‘Center of Liturgical Action,’ which sponsors an annual National Liturgical Week.

“By ‘liturgical reform,’ Pope Francis meant the changes in Catholic rituals and modes of worship which followed from Vatican II, the most immediately visible elements of which included Mass facing the congregation, the use of vernacular languages, and a stronger emphasis on the ‘full, conscious and active’ participation of the people.

“Although Pope Francis is often seen as having less interest in liturgical questions than some of his predecessors, this was a lengthy and carefully footnoted reflection, roughly 2,500 words in all.”

By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Round-up


TOP STORIES

Ex-Catholic bishop of Phoenix accused of sex abuse of boy
“A former bishop who led the Roman Catholic church in metro Phoenix during a worldwide child sexual abuse scandal has been accused of molesting a young boy(link is external) 35 years ago. Retired Bishop Thomas O’Brien is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing the boy on several occasions at parishes in Phoenix and Goodyear from 1977 to 1982. The Diocese of Phoenix says O’Brien denies the allegation.”
By The Associated Press in The New York Times

Canon expert: Vatican protected bishops for centuries
“The ongoing canonical trial of Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron(link is external) is significant in that it’s only the second time in centuries a bishop has been put on trial by the church, said Thomas Doyle, a Catholic priest and former board member of the Canon Law Society of America. The last archbishop to undergo a canonical trial — Jozef Wesołowski, who was accused of sexually abusing children in the Dominican Republic — was defrocked in 2014.”
By Steve Limtiaco, Pacific Daily News

German abuse report ‘shocking’ and not the end, Church expert says
“Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a leading anti-abuse expert and a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, called a report documenting hundreds of cases of physical and sexual abuse at a German boys’ choir ‘shocking(link is external),’ and warned that as the taboo lifts in other parts of the world, similar accounts are likely to keep emerging.”
By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

On abuse: Francis yet to make critical clerical changes
“NCR’s editorial, ‘On Abuse: church has changed but not enough,’ rightly identifies the all-male clerical culture as a critical factor in the sex abuse scandal(link is external), but it fails to point to the failure of Pope Francis to change parts of canon law that embody that culture.”
Commentary by Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter

Bankrupt archdiocese files objections to creditors’ reorganization plan
“The bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis says the latest reorganization plan proposed for the church by creditors would strip it of all assets required to pursue the church’s mission(link is external). The archdiocese filed its objections to the creditors’ plan Friday (Aug. 4) and urged acceptance of its own $156 million settlement. ‘The committee’s plan isn’t a reorganization plan, it’s an unlawful dismantling of the Catholic Church in the Twin Cities,’ read a joint statement from Tom Abood, chair of the Archdiocesan Finance Council and Brian Short, a member of the Archdiocesan Corporate Board of Directors. ‘The committee’s plan is also simply unworkable from a legal or practical basis.’”
By Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

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Catholic Church unlikely to change, abuse review head Elizabeth Proust says / ABC News Australia

“I don’t see any sign that the lessons have been truly learned to the point where the institution of the Church is being questioned by those who’ve got the ability to change it,” she (Elizabeth Proust, head of the Australian Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council) said. (ABC News Australia)

The senior Australian businesswoman appointed to supervise the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis says she is ‘pessimistic’ about the Church’s willingness to reform.

“Elizabeth Proust, the head of the Church’s own Truth, Justice and Healing Council, fears the institution will emerge from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse only ‘partially cleansed and unreconstructed.’

“‘I fear there’s a view that once the royal commission reports, and the publicity around what will be a fairly dire report all dies down, that life will go back to what it was,’ Ms Proust told The Religion and Ethics Report.

“‘I hope I’m wrong. I’d like to think that the possibility for real transformation of the Church exists, but it’s an institution that’s been very slow to change on a whole range of issues.'”

By Andrew West, ABC News Australia — Read more …

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Nor more audible gasps in church, please / National Catholic Reporter

“One cannot be ‘responsible’ for the ‘Church’s being and action,’ for example, if ignorant of basic facts about what’s going well or poorly … Who knows why such information was not shared more widely within that archdiocese over the decades …  No matter how well-meaning the motive, the lack of transparency with basic information smacks of what church leaders like the late Cardinal Francis George and Pope Francis have called an unhealthy ‘clericalism.'”

Recent events in the Hartford Archdiocese underscore our church’s profound challenges, yet also point the way to toward a better future. Archbishop Leonard Blair recently announced a sweeping and painful reorganization: consolidating 212 churches down into 126 …

“As part of that process, one parish’s congregants were briefed about the broader context. Since 1969, the number of Catholics in the archdiocese had declined by 69 percent; the number of priests had fallen by roughly two-thirds.

One parishioner told National Catholic Reporter that such statistics were greeted by an audible gasp in the church. ‘It’s an unbelievable attrition,’ the parishioner said, ‘It was a real shock.’ Her ‘shock’ points to a first step on the long path to a revitalized Catholic Church …

Consider that “audible gasp” as an indictment of sorts and a cry to do things differently from now on: parishioners should never be in a position to be shocked by news about the ongoing health of their own parishes and diocese.” (emphasis added)

By Chris Lowney, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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