Posts Tagged church reform

Stem parish closures and mergers pleads U.S. priests group / National Catholic Reporter

An association of nearly 1,200 U.S. priests is in the final development stages of issuing an urgent ‘plea’ to the U.S. bishops to ‘formulate a plan now to meet this emerging crisis’ of parish closings and consolidations.

“In a working draft it calls a ‘Proposal for Pastoral Care In & Thru Priestless Parishes,’ the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests exhorts the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and ‘dioceses nationwide’ to quickly address the issue.

“Core to the plan is ‘new and more specific exploration’ of lay ecclesial ministers to oversee non-sacramental aspects of parish life and administration, according to a proposed plan cover letter contained in an email to NCR.”

By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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In sign of resolve, Pope taps O’Malley for Vatican office handling abuse cases / Cruxnow.com

In a move likely to be read as an attempt by Pope Francis to show resolve in the fight against clerical sexual abuse, the pontiff has named Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, widely seen as the leading reformer in the Catholic hierarchy, as a member of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the powerful Vatican department that handles abuse cases.

“The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, traditionally known as the “Holy Office,” is headed by German Cardinal Gerhard Muller. Its main responsibility is defending Catholic teaching, but since 2001, it’s also played lead in prosecuting cases under Church law for priests charged with sexual abuse.

“Last June, Pope Francis also announced that the congregation would house a new legal section designed to impose accountability not only on abuser priests, but also on bishops and other Catholic superiors who covered up that abuse.

“Since then, however, the launch of the new tribunal has been delayed amid legal and administrative wrangling, and O’Malley’s appointment may well reflect a desire by Francis to kick-start the process.”

By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Our Faithful Revolution

churchfacadewebshadowIn this first week of a new year, Voice of the Faithful reflects.

Voice of the Faithful, a community of Roman Catholics committed to service and reform, has always sought to “Keep the Faith, Change the Church.” We are faithful Catholics seeking to change those Church structures and processes that impede lay voices and change Church cultures that exhibit a clericalism that separates the clerical from the lay rather than binding them pastorally and collegially.

Such clericalism often stifles the people of God. Pope Francis has said as much and condemned clericalism repeatedly, recently saying that “the spirit of clericalism is an evil that is present in the Church today, and the victim of this spirit is the people, who feel discarded and abused.”

The story of Voice of the Faithful’s founding is well documented. The movement exploded onto the scene in 2002 along with the burgeoning visibility of Church scandal, specifically clergy sexual abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Boston, chronicled most effectively by The Boston Globe in 2002 and 2003.

The movement spawned a frenzy of activity at the beginning, fueled by anger at and frustration with a Church that had, euphemistically, let us down. If you were to review the Globe stories, other media coverage of the crisis from that era, and books about Voice of the Faithful written since, you would discover that Voice of the Faithful could be credited with much of the rhetoric calling the Church to task.

By 2017 Voice of the Faithful, with commitment and tenacity, has settled into a long struggle in which we use our voices to help change Church structure and culture so that scandal has no fertile ground in which to grow. Progress has been slow, but steady.

We offer Catholics a community within the community of the Church where, as the people of God, we find a way to remain faithfully Catholic without giving up our baptismal right and responsibility to offer opinions and foster dialogue on issues important to the Church.

This is a post-Vatican II point of view well expressed recently by Fr. Louis Cameli, author of more than a dozen books and the Chicago archbishop’s Delegate for Formation and Mission. In an interview about post-Vatican II pontiffs in National Catholic Reporter Cameli said he “sees underlying, foundational points of continuity in the post-conciliar era.” Two of the points he made are especially pertinent to Voice of the Faithful:

  • “Communion: The Church is a set of interlocking and dynamic relationships among people and with the Triune God (in contrast to a primarily organizational-institutional-structural model of the Church).
  • “Dialogue: The Church is the place where believers speak and listen to each other, and it is the community of faith that speaks with and listens to the world. (This is the ecclesia discens et docens (Church teaching and learning) and, therefore, is a dynamic community instead of a static “container of truth.”)”

Communion and dialogue could be Voice of the Faithful watchwords. We are a community concerned with providing a voice for the voiceless and have introduced the language of clericalism, accountability, and transparency into the language of Church reform, language that is being reiterated by no less than the present occupant of St. Peter’s chair. While we have always supported victims/survivors and promoted programs that better protect children, we have focused most directly on finding, naming, and publicizing the underlying causes of scandal which must be addressed to stop and prevent scandal.

Kathleen McPhillips, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, has succinctly framed the challenge Voice of the Faithful seeks to meet. In an article in the Newcastle Herald called “The royal commission has exposed a Catholic Church in desperate need of change,” she said:

“It is imperative [that] current religious groups undertake research into why this happened, as well as resourcing for the healing of survivors … Understanding how this happened is essential to the health of our community, and to the creation of new Church structures which are transparent, inclusive, accountable and respectful of women and children. The Church needs to show it is serious about cultural change – this is yet to be effectively demonstrated.”


More information about Voice of the Faithful is at www.votf.org.

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Irish priest warns of depression among overworked clerics / National Catholic Reporter

“That the bishops and the nuncio don’t want to engage in a structured way with the ACP (Association of Catholic Priests) is symbolic of a church adrift, a church stuck, a church in denial, a church with 26 kingdoms, an Irish church on a parallel path to that which Pope Francis speaks about, an Irish church attached and addicted to an ecclesial vision that is at variance to what Pope Francis is trying to build.” (Redemptorist Fr. Gerry O’Connor)

Irish priests’ ever-increasing workload is threatening to turn this aging, demoralized and declining group into ‘sacrament-dispensing machines’ who find pastoral work less and less satisfying, a co-founder of Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests has warned.

“In his address to the association’s annual general meeting in Athlone Nov. 16, Fr. Brendan Hoban highlighted how suicide is on the rise among Irish priests, a group he said was also increasingly prone to depression.

“With the vast majority of Irish priests now age 70 or over, elderly diocesan priests are living increasingly isolated and lonely lives and are constantly ‘reminded that we no longer really matter, that at best we’re now little more than a ceremonial presence on the sidelines of life,’ he said.”

By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Catholic priests, lay persons call for LGBT, women’s rights / WindyCityMedia.com

“(Margaret) Roylance (of Voice of the Faithful) singled out clericalism (the elite Catholic hierarchy which seeks to control and maintain power) as a quintessential issue in the church.”

“‘To our brothers in the wider church, we are asking you to deeply listen to the women in your circle [and] in your communities,’ (Kate) McElwee (The Women’s Ordination Conference) stated. ‘In the spirit that invites transformation, we ask you to carefully reflect on male and clerical privilege and risk stepping out and acting courageously for full equality in our church. [It] has become an ever more broken body. We need to walk this journey together.'”

It was the unlikeliest of press conferences and a sign of times that are changing with unprecedented momentum even from within one of the world’s oldest religious institutions.

On Oct 20, in Arlington Heights, representatives from Catholic priest movements and lay reform organizations based across the world gathered to lay out a series of direct challenges to the Catholic Church on everything from women’s equality to LGBT rights.

“The announcement, also carried via a live global webcast, came at the conclusion of the third international conference of its kind during which 40 priests and lay persons from 10 countries—Argentina, Australia, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States—met for three days ‘to develop strategies for reform in the Catholic Church including the full participation of women in the Church, confronting clericalism and supporting LGBT Catholics.’

“Sam Bowns, an activist working on the restoration of women priests; William McGinnity, from the National Council of Priests of Australia; Margaret Roylance, of the Voice of the Faithful; Kate McElwee, co-executive director of The Women’s Ordination Conference; and organizer Markus Heil served as the gathering’s representatives.

“‘In this space we wrestled with the damaging effects of oppressive structures knowing that patriarchy and hierarchy hurt us all,’ McElwee said. ‘We discovered, time and again, that by sharing as equals and asking hard questions we can transform, ourselves, our church and our world.’

“‘One of the guiding principles of our assembly was unity in diversity,’ Roylance said. ‘Envisioning an active change in the church means appreciating our differences.’

“Roylance singled out clericalism ( the elite Catholic hierarchy which seeks to control and maintain power ) as a quintessential issue in the church …”

By Gretchen Rachel Hammond, Windy City Media.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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New cardinals signal a shift away from U.S. culture wars / America

The pope’s decision to make two American archbishops cardinals is a message to other U.S. prelates that the church needs leaders less concerned with culture war issues and who are instead focused on building bridges and making the church a more welcoming place.

“In a move that will further shake up how the American hierarchy operates, Pope Francis on Sunday (Oct. 9) announced the creation of 17 new cardinals, including three American bishops: Archbishop Blase Cupich of Chicago, Archbishop Joseph Tobin of Indianapolis and Bishop Kevin Farrell, the former bishop of Dallas who was appointed by the pope to lead a new Vatican department on family life earlier this year.

“The impact on how the church operates in the United States could be immense.”

By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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How is Pope Francis’ “The Joy of Love” being received?

A non-synodal reception for a post-synodal exhortation

Three months after the publication of Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”), the reception is underway, and various commentators already are noting the wide differences in the hermeneutics of the post-synodal exhortation. If we want to identify the two main approaches, we can say that one has a rather constrained view of the text and, especially, of the two synodal gatherings … The other interpretation focuses on the exhortation’s renewed emphasis on conscience as opposed to legalistic approaches to moral theology, and its acknowledgment of the need for theological and pastoral attention to new situations.”

By Massimo Faggioli, dotCommonweal — Click here to read the rest of this article

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