Month: November 2015

Selective memory, selective shock, and selective outrage at the presumption of guilt.

Brendan Hoban writing in the Western People, is amazed that media commentators were declaring the publication of allegations against a former politician and government minister marked a new low in journalism.
Such commentary seems to ‘have missed the shocking ordeal that priests like Kevin Reynolds, and so many others like him, who have been wrongly accused, have had to endure.’
‘where was the outrage in the Irish media when one of the foundation stones of our legal system – the presumption of innocence – was seen not to apply to priests and religious accused of abuse? To pop stars, yes; to politicians, yes; to celebrities, yes. To priests, not really.’

The Pact of the Catacombs

With the example of the lifestyle of Pope Francis there is renewed interest in many circles in a document known as the ‘Pact of the Catacombs’. Can all bishops and all who are in authority positions in church learn from it?

As Vatican Council II drew to a close in 1965, 40 bishops met at night in the Domitilla Catacombs outside Rome. In that holy place of Christian dead they celebrated the Eucharist and signed a document that expressed their personal commitments as bishops to the ideals of the Council under the suggestive title of the Pact of the Catacombs.

It is known that the bishops were led by Archbishop Helder Camara of Recife, Brazil, one of the widely respected 20th century champions of justice and peace.
The pact had some clear objectives;
“We renounce forever the appearance and the substance of wealth, especially in clothing (rich vestments, loud colours)…”
“As far as possible we will entrust the financial and material running of our diocese to a commission of competent lay persons…”
“We do not want to be addressed verbally or in writing with names and titles that express prominence and power (such as Eminence, Excellency, Lordship)…”
“we will try be make ourselves as humanly present and welcoming as possible; and we will show ourselves to be open to all, no matter what their beliefs…”

A drop of over 43% of priests in active ministry since 1995 – no crisis

When is a crisis not a crisis? When it involves the church it seems.
The number of priests in active ministry 20 years ago – in 1995 – was 3,550.
There are now just 2,019 in active ministry – which represents a drop of 43%.
Just over 67% of that number are over the age of 55 – while it is believed the majority of those are actually even older.
Where is there evidence of strategy and planning to face this ‘crisis’?

‘Mass’ at the wake?

Stan Mellett shares some thoughts on the importance of having a pastoral approach to funeral rites “when the increasingly normal experience is a funeral for one who has long since lost touch with the church, had ceased to practice the faith and been in an irregular marital situation,”
“People who have little contact with church – uneasy with ceremony and ritual – anxious and uneasy about protocol, any effort to accommodate and accompany them through the Wake, funeral Mass and burial/cremation is a service not to be underestimated; an important pastoral opportunity not to be missed.”

The Inquisition by any other name

Fr. P. John Mannion in this article explores the disjunction between the Church’s Canon Law and the teaching of the New Testament.
He does so in the context of the dealings of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly The Inquisition, with Fr. Tony Flannery.
The injustice of those dealings and lack of due process is compounded when some commentators lay charges against Tony Flannery on the basis of what the CDF has done rather than anything he actually said.

Pope Francis’ Advice for Bishops, Priests and prospective Seminarians

Iacopo Scaramuzzi reports on some off the cuff remarks made by Pope Francis at a Conference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy.
He told bishops: “Be present in your dioceses of resign”
To priests he said “It is not normal for a priest to be often sad, nervous, or of a hard character; it is not good, and does no good, neither for the priest nor for his people,”
About those wishing to enter the seminary he said authorities should think twice if the young man “is too confident, rigid and fundamentalist”.

Faith, Ethics, Elections, Citizenship

Pádraig McCarthy poses some interesting questions as we face into a general election in the Republic of Ireland early in the new year.
“We have an election coming early next year, significant for the centenary of 1916. How does our faith in Jesus Christ inform our active citizenship?
What inspiration and challenges can faith offer to setting goals in political and public life? “

De-centralisation and the selection of bishops

Robert Mickens in his ‘Letter from Rome’ on Global Pulse Magazine comments on the stresses and strains that surface when trying to attempt de-centralisation in the church. He says “Reactions to the US bishops’ deliberations this week at their fall meeting suggest that Catholics may have drawn the conclusion, unwittingly, that decentralization may not be all that it’s cracked up to be.”
However he adds ‘it is going to be a rough and rocky road to healthy decentralization in the Catholic Church. It’s not likely to happen until the synodality that Francis is trying to instill in the Church’s way of living and being also embraces and transforms the way bishops are selected.
Even if a change in the discernment process for choosing our pastors were to be implemented in the next couple of years, it would probably take at least two more generations before we’d get an episcopate that would make decentralized government effective.
Having said that, there are some men in miters – even those with the august rank of cardinal – who should be doing everything as the pope wishes, both in style and emphasis.
And they actually do work for him. They are called apostolic delegates and Vatican officials.”

Mercy can heal the wounds of the Church

The Tablet recently carried an edited version of a lecture written by Cardinal Walter Kaspar for The Spirit of Catholic Renewal, a conference held at Durham University as one of the events to mark The Tablet’s 175th anniversary. In his absence due to illness, the lecture was delivered by Professor Eamon Duffy. 

In his address Cardinal Kasper asked “How can we heal the many wounds of the Church caused by its divisions? How can we heal the many wounds of our world? Once more Pope Francis gives us the right cue. It is taken from the very centre of the Gospel; its name is mercy. Reconciliation, including reconciliation of divided Christians, can be achieved only by mercy.”

A Clear Voice?

Fr. Anthony Ruff OSB reports on the meeting of the U.S. bishops at Baltimore.
He raises the possibility of some movement on the ongoing problems with the current “translation” of the Roman Missal with the election of a new chair to the U.S. bishops liturgy committee.
“it is noteworthy that the bishop who spoke most negatively about the new translation, Archbishop Wilton Gregory, was a candidate to be chair of the USCCB liturgy committee. He was elected. His term will begin in 2016.”
” Archbishop Wilton Gregory, also a former USCCB liturgy committee chair, rose to echo Trautman’s concerns. Before printing up more books with the current translation, we ought to look at the problems with the translation. There should be a review of the problems with the new Missal.”

Isn’t it time the Irish bishops addressed the problem realistically and had a real discussion about it?

Receiving Eucharist: a goal to achieve or something to share on the journey of life?

Rocco Palmo reports that Pope Francis today, Sunday 15 November, visited Rome’s Evangelical Lutheran church for an ecumenical dialogue.
Speaking of her marriage to a Catholic, a woman member of the Lutheran congregation addressed “the hurt we’ve felt together due to [their] difference of faith” and asked about their ability “to finally participate together in Communion.”
In response Francis said “I ask myself and don’t know how to respond – what you’re asking me, I ask myself the question. To share the Lord’s banquet: is it the goal of the path or is it the viaticum [etym. “to accompany you on the journey”] for walking together?”

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