Archive for category Future of the Church

Pope institutes new ‘secular ministry’ of Catechist open to laymen and laywomen / Cruxnow.com

“‘Catechists,’ he (Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization) said, ‘must know that they speak in the name of the Church and transmit the faith of the Church, but always doing so in a ‘secular’ manner, ‘without falling into forms of clericalism that blur the true identity of the ministry, which must express itself not primarily in the liturgical sphere, but in the specific sphere of the transmission of the faith through proclamation and systematic instruction.'”

Cruxnow.com

“Pope Francis on Tuesday (May 11) instituted the ‘secular’ ministry of the catechist, meant for lay men and women who feel called to help in the Catholic Church’s mission of spreading the Gospel. With the formal recognition of the many ‘competent catechists,’ who already exercise an ‘irreplaceable mission in the transmission and deepening of the faith,’ Francis offers yet another ministry to the laity after extending the role of acolytes and readers to women in the beginning of January.

“The institution of the ministry of the catechist came in the form of a motu proprio, meaning a document issued by the pope on his own initiative and personally signed by him. Titled Antiquum ministerium, Instituting the ministry of catechist, it was presented on Tuesday by Archbishop Rino Fisichella, president of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization, and Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-Van Elst, who heads up the council’s catechetical office.

“‘There is no doubt that the institution of this ministry, together with those already existing of Acolyte and Lector, will make it possible to have a laity that is better prepared in the transmission of the faith,’ Fisichella said.

“Catechists, he said, must know that they speak in the name of the Church and transmit the faith of the Church, but always doing so in a ‘secular’ manner, ‘without falling into forms of clericalism that blur the true identity of the ministry, which must express itself not primarily in the liturgical sphere, but in the specific sphere of the transmission of the faith through proclamation and systematic instruction.'”

By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com Read more …

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Synods will make the difference / National Catholic Reporter

“Over the years, we have begun to discover some differences between Jesus and the church: Jesus has credibility.

The reputation of the church, on the other hand, teeters.”

National Catholic Reporter

“Over the years, we have begun to discover some differences between Jesus and the church: Jesus has credibility.

“The reputation of the church, on the other hand, teeters. The papacy, the very cornerstone of the church, is a little-known history because so many of the early popes themselves were morally decrepit. The institution itself has wavered between the preservation of the faith and the amassing of power. The call of the church to protect the faith deteriorated into the Crusades rather than into universal unity. Evangelization became more a game of denominational competition than wholesale welcome of the ecumenical others.

“Until finally, the renewal of the church has been swamped in regalia, clericalism and wealth. The eminence of the church has become more architectural, more institutional than ringingly, obviously, universally compassionate. At least not as the divorced Catholic saw it then. Not as the Catholic in a mixed marriage saw it. Not as the beaten women they were telling to be more obedient to their husbands saw it. And certainly not as LGBT persons seeking real love and the sacraments they need to maintain them even now.

“Yet, it is also the church that saved itself over and over again. The church recoiled from nepotism — the control of the church by family dynasties. The church faced a long, long struggle to do it but managed finally to free itself from secular power in a monarchial world that had come to engulf it in simony and the selling of positions, pastorates and religious hucksterism.

“Even more, the church pursued idea development well beyond the errant levels of piety gone astray or magic confused with sacramentalism. The church triumphant educated generations of the faithful who sought to lead both a spiritual life and a humanly fulfilled life. And, from age to age, the church gave the world models of sanctity that kept Jesus alive in our midst.

“Is that the church that has repented its sins over the centuries and converted itself from age to age.

“But now we are back to that very point: The Church is again in need of reform and repentance, of growth and grace …”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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In came Latin, incense and burned books, out went half the parishioners / National Catholic Reporter

‘The Charlotte Diocese is not alone. While Pope Francis preaches an accompaniment for all spiritual seekers and castigates clericalism … seminaries in the U.S. continue to graduate priests for ordination who look not to Francis, but to Pope John Paul II for inspiration. It is a quiet, awkward and uneasy kind of schism in church practice and discipline.”

National Catholic Reporter

“Religion scholar Maria Lichtmann felt a strangeness overcome St. Elizabeth of the Hill Country Parish in Boone, North Carolina, four years ago.

“Fr. Matthew Codd, the then-pastor at St. Elizabeth’s, was joined by a group of seminarians who went through the church’s theology library and removed books deemed heretical, including those of spiritual writers Henri Nouwen and Thomas Merton. The books were later burned, she was told by a parish staff member.

“Lichtmann, a retired religious studies professor at Appalachian State University, left the region in part, she told NCR, because of the changes in the parish. She now lives in Georgia.

“‘I felt it was a lost cause,’ she said about St. Elizabeth’s.

“The spirit of hyper-orthodoxy in parish leadership continued, noted Lichtmann, after Codd was replaced in July 2019 by Fr. Brendan Buckler.

“Nearing 18 months since Buckler arrived, on the edge of Boone, a college town and popular retirement community in the mountain foothills, a few dozen now gather every other Sunday at a car restoration shop shared by a hospitable non-Catholic, the husband of a parishioner.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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The people should choose their bishops again / Commonweal

“His (former cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s) appointment (to auxiliary bishop of New York) required no consultation with the body of clergy of New York, and no consultation with the body of the laity, beyond those few apostolic letters. It mostly required Cardinal Cooke’s patronage.”

Commonweal

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“There are a number of conclusions one could draw from reading the Vatican report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. For example: that the clerical sex-abuse crisis in the Church is worse than we thought and extends to vulnerable adults. Also, that position and influence in our Church are easily bought, and that bishops lie, even to the pope, to protect other bishops. But the conclusion that encompasses all of the above is that the way we choose our bishops is deeply flawed, producing bishops who are, in turn, deeply flawed. How did things get this way, and what can be done about it?

“First, let’s consider a bit of history. Once the office of bishop was clearly established in the early Church as the unitary head of a diocese (a Roman administrative unit), that office was filled by someone chosen by local people and priests, then ratified by the neighboring bishops, as a sign of the unity of the Church. Even the unbaptized were eligible, as we know from the oft-told story of St. Ambrose, whom the clergy and people of Milan chose as their bishop while he was still a catechumen. The first bishop of the United States, John Carroll, was elected by the priests of Maryland and confirmed by the pope. Today, we are so used to the pope choosing our bishops for us that we think it was always that way. It wasn’t. In fact, the right of the pope to choose bishops was only settled with the 1917 Code of Canon Law, a papal document that clearly allocated that power to the holder of the papal office.

“Arguably, there is some limited lay input in the selection of bishops. When a priest is being considered for appointment as bishop, the papal nuncio sends out what are called apostolic letters to a select group, which may include laypeople from the area, asking their opinion of the candidate based on some very specific questions …”

By Nicholas P. Cafardi, Commonweal — Read more …

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Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows / Religion News Service

The reasons for the steady hemorrhage of Catholic clergy worldwide are varied, from secularization to the church’s ongoing sexual and financial scandals. And the COVID-19 pandemic has brought its own challenges. (Religion News Service)

“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18).

“The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly, especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.

“The total number of priests in the world decreased to 414,065 in 2018, with Europe registering a drop of 2,675 priests compared to 2017. The report also reveals a slight decrease in the number of Catholic faithful in America, Europe and Oceania. Meanwhile, Africa and Asia continue to show signs of growth, according to the data.

“‘We mustn’t be afraid! Mission goes on thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit,’ said Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, the secretary of the evangelizing congregation, during a press conference at the Vatican on Friday.

“However, the diminishing number of clergy coincides with an increase in the global population, putting pressure on priests who must minister to larger numbers of people. As of December 2018, the report shows, there are 1,328,993,000 Catholics in the world.”

By Claire Giangrave, Religion News Service — Read more …

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Can laypeople lead a parish? Look to Louisville for a thriving example / National Catholic Reporter

We are a living example of how the Catholic Church can move forward despite the priest shortage, despite the sex scandals and despite the Roman Curia. We are proof that the spirit of Vatican II is still alive and well. At St. William, ‘We are the church’ is more than a slogan. It’s the way we operate. And it is all allowable under canon law! We just need bishops who will recognize the immense possibilities of lay-led parishes. (National Catholic Reporter)

In his recent book Worship as Community Drama, sociologist Pierre Hegy described an unusual Catholic parish whose identity he hid under the name Church of the Resurrection. When the book was published earlier this year and we read the chapter titled ‘A Lay-Run Parish: Consensus Without a Central Authority,’ we could tell that it was about us.

“I asked Hegy about possibly revealing the facts behind the chapter. He replied that sociological protocols had to be followed in the book, but these would not apply to an article in a newspaper. OK, here goes.

“For almost 30 years, the St. William Catholic Community in Louisville, Kentucky, has had a lay parochial administrator but, even before that, all-important decisions were made by the people of the parish.”

By Joseph Martos, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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The Catholic Church’s U.S. seminaries need reform / Religion News Service

This is not an easy task, but it is made more difficult by many bishops who prefer the status quo. I fear we will not see much change in seminaries until Francis has time to appoint more new bishops. It could take another five years before we see real reform of diocesan seminaries. (Religion News Service)

No one has a greater impact on a Catholic parish than its pastor, which is why diocesan seminaries are key to the future of the church in America. Diocesan seminaries evaluate and then form those men who want to be parish priests. Sadly, in recent decades, too many of the priests coming out of these seminaries have been trained to be authoritarians with few pastoral skills.

“Some of them come to seminary with an authoritarian mindset, but faculty at today’s seminaries often do little to change that. Some faculty members even foster it, teaching their students that they have all the answers and that their job is to kick the laity into shape. In these cases, seminarians are not taught to listen, to delegate, to work with committees or to empower the laity, especially women.

“This is not true of all seminaries and seminarians. Chicago’s Mundelein Seminary has improved under the leadership of Cardinal Blase Cupich. Some are mixed bags. Others are disaster areas.

“In the worst programs, students are told not to ask questions but to consult ‘The Catechism of the Catholic Church,’ the book-length presentation of the teachings of the church prepared under the papacy of John Paul II. The documents of the Second Vatican Council are either downplayed or interpreted through a conservative lens. In too many places by too many faculty, moral theology is presented in a legalistic framework in which everything is black or white.”

By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service — Read more …

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Connecticut bishop appoints laywoman to lead parish / Cruxnow.com

He (Bridgeport, Connecticut, Bishop Frank Caggiano) went on to note that the appointment was the first of its kind in the diocese of Bridgeport and added that it has support in canon law. (Cruxnow.com)

Less than two months after serving as delegate in the Bishops Synod on Youth which called women’s leadership within the Church ‘a duty of justice,’ Bishop Frank Caggiano has established a new leadership model in a Connecticut parish, appointing a woman to serve as parish life coordinator.

“The appointment of Dr. Eleanor W. Sauers, which was announced on Sunday in a letter to parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua in Fairfield, Connecticut, grants Sauers decision-making authority over a team of priests who will be responsible for sacramental ministry.

“‘We are at a very particular moment in the history of our Diocese, and indeed, within our Church,’ Caggiano wrote to parishioners. ‘As I travel throughout Fairfield County, it has become apparent to me that many lay women and men are seeking new ways to serve their parishes, and, in collaboration with the clergy, to create vibrant and thriving communities.’

“He went on to note that the appointment was the first of its kind in the diocese of Bridgeport and added that it has support in canon law.”

By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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From Voice of the Faithful — Here is another idea for responding to the bishop coverup scandals


Expression of Concern

Concerned parishioners from Christ the King Parish in Chicago have written to Cardinal Blase Cupich concerning the crisis in the Church. Voice of the Faithful endorses this letter and urges those who may be interested to read and consider supporting and signing the “Expression of Concern,” which can clicking here.

Cardinal Cupich will be hosting the U.S. bishops for prayer at Mundelein Seminary near Chicago in January 2019 and then meeting with Pope Francis and bishops worldwide in February 2019 in Rome. The “Expression of Concern” letter and list of all signatories will be delivered to Cardinal Cupich in advance of those meetings.

Appointed to the organizing committee for the February meeting of bishops in Rome to discuss clergy sex abuse, Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chjicago has assumed new significance in efforts to repair the harm engendered by decades of coverups and denials. Here is an opportunity to bring lay voices to his attention.

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As anger over Catholic clergy sexual abuse intensifies, U.S. dioceses’ average financial transparency score rises only marginally

BOSTON, Mass., Nov. 1, 2018― Anger over clergy sexual abuse has risen dramatically with new revelations in recent months, and Voice of the Faithful’s second annual study of U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency, released in October, shows the average score for those dioceses rising only marginally. Voice of the Faithful has long considered secrecy surrounding Catholic Church finances to be linked to secrecy surrounding clerical sexual abuse.

The average overall score achieved by all 177 dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in Voice of the Faithful’s “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2018” was 39.7 out of 60, or 66 percent, which represents a 5 percent increase over the 2017 average score. Thirty-nine percent of dioceses still have not posted audited financial statements on their websites, and 25 percent do not post a financial report of any kind.

Much of the recent anger over clergy abuse is invested in the secrecy surrounding the abuse. “Carrying out a widespread coverup of criminal acts without access to large amounts of untraceable money is impossible,” said Margaret Roylance, Ph.D., a VOTF trustee and Finance Working Group chair.

“In the wake of ongoing revelations about clerical sexual abuse,” she continued, “every Catholic who loves the Church is justly angry and asking serious questions about our Church leadership. This report is one tool in the hands of faithful Catholics who want to know what each of us can do. Genuine financial transparency will be essential in rebuilding U.S. Catholics’ trust in their bishops.”

Roylance continued to point out that:

  • If your diocese does not post its audited financial statement or, worse, not even an unaudited financial report, your diocesan leadership is being less than forthright about its finances.
  • If your diocese does not mandate safe collection procedures, it is failing in its duty to protect the resources you have provided to them.
  • If the names and backgrounds of your Diocesan Finance Council members cannot be found on your diocesan website, you have no way of knowing if they are “truly expert in financial affairs and civil law, outstanding in integrity,” as Canon Law requires.

“We must let our bishops know if their failures of financial transparency prevent us from fulfilling our obligations as good stewards of the gifts God has given us,” she said.

Although the transparency scores of 21 dioceses in the 2018 study dropped from 2017, more than 70 had higher scores and some achieved very significant increases. The Archdiocese of Omaha went from a dismal 26 to 56, and the Diocese of Orlando from 26 to a perfect score of 60, which tied with the Diocese of Burlington. However, Burlington received a qualified opinion from outside auditors, whereas Orlando received an unqualified (good) opinion on its audit. The Diocese of Santa Rosa was the only one of the 177 to post highlights of their Finance Council meetings—another significant factor in diocesan financial transparency.

The highest scoring dioceses in VOTF’s 2018 study are:

  • Burlington, Vermont, and Orlando, Florida, tied at 60
  • Atlanta, Georgia, Baltimore, Maryland, and Sacramento, California, tied at 59
  • Bismarck, North Dakota, Bridgeport, Connecticut, Buffalo, New York, Des Moines, Iowa, Ft. Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Omaha, Nebraska, and San Diego, California, tied at 56

The lowest scoring dioceses in VOTF’s 2018 study are:

  • Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Orange, California, and Santa Fe, New Mexico, tied at 19
  • Salina, Kansas, 18
  • Brownsville, Texas, Knoxville, Tennessee, Lubbock, Texas, Portland, Oregon, and Tulsa, Oklahoma, 15
  • Grand Isle, Nebraska, 13
  • Thomas, Virgin Islands, 12

Voice of the Faithful News Release, Nov. 1, 2018
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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