Posts Tagged future of the Church
During his 18 years in the U.S., Abanulo has filled various chaplain and pastor roles across the country, epitomizing an ongoing trend in the American Catholic Church. As fewer American-born men and women enter seminaries and convents, U.S. dioceses and Catholic institutions have turned to international recruitment to fill their vacancies.Kwasi Gyamfi, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter
Fr. Athanasius Chidi Abanulo — using skills honed in his African homeland to minister effectively in rural Alabama — determines just how long he can stretch out his Sunday homilies based on who is sitting in the pews.
Seven minutes is the sweet spot for the mostly white and retired parishioners who attend the English-language Mass at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in the small town of Wedowee. ‘If you go beyond that, you lose the attention of the people,’ he said.
For the Spanish-language Mass an hour later, the Nigerian-born priest — one of numerous African clergy serving in the U.S. — knows he can quadruple his teaching time. ‘The more you preach, the better for them,’ he said.
As he moves from one American post to the next, Abanulo has learned how to tailor his ministry to the culture of the communities he is serving while infusing some of the spirit of his homeland into the universal rhythms of the Mass.
“‘Nigerian people are relaxed when they come to church,’ Abanulo said. ‘They love to sing, they love to dance. The liturgy can last for two hours. They don’t worry about that.'”
By Kwasi Gyamfi Asiedu, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves.Cruxnow.com
“Looking ahead to a looming Synod of Bishops on the concept of ‘synodality,’ a lay Venezuelan theologian says the time has come for bishops to grasp one key point: Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves.
“Layman Rafael Luciani, who divides his year between Venezuela and Boston, where he works at Boston College, is one of three Latin American theologians who were chosen as consultants for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the matter of Synodality, to which he hopes to contribute “from a non-clerical vision.”
“‘If there is no co-governance, there is no understanding of the Church that involves all the baptized,’ Luciani told Crux. ‘Co-governance does not mean that one person makes the final decision and brings it to the table, where others have to understand why I made a decision. It means that a discernment has to be done together, and decisions have to be made together, not explained from the top down.'”
By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Read more …
Bishops’ meetings won’t heal the U.S. church. We need a Fourth Plenary Council involving all Catholics. / America: The Jesuit Review
The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore concluded in December 1884. Among its results was the standardized catechism known to generations of Catholics as the Baltimore Catechism. This meeting was the last of 13 councils of different kinds that took place in Baltimore between 1829 and 1884. These 13 councils made the United States one of the most conciliar places in the Catholic Church during that time—rooted, in part, in the country’s own democratic experiment.
Given all the challenges facing the Catholic Church in our country, we are far overdue for a moment in which the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of our country can discern together how to be the people of God in our time and place. It is time that we as a church convoke a Fourth Plenary Council of Baltimore. Given the work of practical preparation and spiritual conversion needed for such an event, it should be held in 2029, the 200th anniversary of the First Council of Baltimore in 1829. That will allow us to walk together in dialogue about the pastoral needs of our church.
The most prominent of the many challenges before the church in the coming decades is the issue of clerical sexual abuse of minors and the enabling of that abuse by bishops, religious superiors and other church leaders. We have yet to acknowledge fully and address these sins, both past and present. Nor have we appropriately addressed the ongoing responses to survivors of clerical sexual abuse and other forms of sexual harassment and misconduct.
By Brian P. Flanagan, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
“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 …
‘Sad to admit, the evidence is clear that the church in Australia is sick to its institutional core. It has a nasty, though treatable cancer that is being fed by a pervasive clericalism.’
Australia is often used as a controlled market to test new technology products. With an educated, tech-savvy, multicultural society, it has representative features that appeal as a laboratory for commercial researchers.
“But now Australia might also become a test bed for what needs repair and how it can be done in the Catholic Church. The facts are friendly. Those reported in La Croix International by Frank Brennan on Feb 14 are staggering statistics. Some of them are new and some are have been in the public domain for some years.
“Widely and well known or not, the statistics shine a light on a deeper and systemic illness that needs root and branch reform. Without such reform, the church will continue to be fertile ground for the abuse of power – of which sexual abuse is a catastrophic symptom.”
By Peter Day, La Croix International — Read more …
The current Vatican commission exploring the possibility of women deacons has raised a number of questions about their role in the church. As ordained ministers who are neither priests nor lay people, the actual role of deacons in the parishes where they minister remains unclear to many Catholics. What are deacons, and how has their role changed over history?Could women deacons revolutionize pastoral ministry and transform the church? How can the diaconate better meet the changing needs of the faithful today? Join us for a roundtable discussion sponsored by the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture and America Media featuring:
- Nancy Dallavalle, theologian and vice president for mission and identity at Fairfield University
- Deacon Greg Kandra, blogger at Aleteia’s “The Deacon’s Bench,” multimedia editor at Catholic Near East Welfare Association.
- Rita Ferrone, contributing editor at Commonweal and blogger at “Pray Tell Blog”
- George Demacopoulos, theologian and founding co-director of the Orthodox Christian Studies Center at Fordham University
- James Martin, S.J., moderator, author and editor-at-large for America Media
By The Editors at America: The National Catholic Review — Click here to read the rest of this article and access links to videos and transcripts of the roundtable discussions.
In response to acute priest shortages around the world, Pope Francis may well decide that his next Synod of Bishops should focus on ministry—including the question of whether married men could be ordained to celebrate the sacraments, in effect creating a parallel priesthood.
After the bruising but fruitful experience of the synod on the family, one thing is clear: Francis has created an instrument of discernment that is capable of wrestling with big issues in the contemporary Church.
“The reformed synod – a global consultation, followed by two assemblies separated by a year, concluding in a major papal teaching document that resets pastoral strategy for the next generation – means that big topics can no longer be kicked into the long grass on the basis that they are just too big to deal with.
“If a vast topic such as the Church’s preparation for marriage and its handling of divorcés can be discussed, it means other burning issues can be too. And top of that list are questions about ministry: access to the sacraments, the role of women and lay people, as well as the role of deacons.
“Some are saying that pastoral ministries will the topic for the next synod, likely to be scheduled for 2018-19.
‘No one doubts the question is an urgent one. More than half of the Catholic Church’s communities worldwide have no resident priest.”
By Austen Ivereigh, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
We could not have said this better ourselves.
“Christian Churches are not in good shape today. Reform is urgently needed. Instead, in many parts of Europe, Roman Catholic bishops are destroying local communities…
“Roman Catholic bishops in Europe are abolishing local Christian communities: pointing to the shortage of celibate priests, they are closing or amalgamating parishes into larger regional units. Parishioners are told to get used to finding a mass elsewhere – as if Christian faith could be reduced to merely getting to Mass. Such bishops are convinced that the church depends on priests. However, this thinking is deeply flawed …
“… The rich sacramental life in the Catholic Church gives expression and structure to the local community. The celebration of the Eucharist gathers the community in Christ’s presence around one table. However, a shortage of (celibate) priests does not have to mean the end of Christian vocation and community.
“It is a tragic misunderstanding that the prime task of bishops is to organize people around priests. Rather, priests are called to serve the local community. If this clericalist misunderstanding is to continue, bishops will quickly become the grave diggers of the church …”
Commentary by Prof. Werner Jeanrond, Roman Catholic theologian and Master of St. Benet’s Hall, University of Oxford, in Oxford Mail, as compiled by Pete Hughes — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.
Pope Francis goes to Africa tomorrow (Nov. 25) for a six-day, three-nation apostolic journey that is supposed to culminate next Monday in Central African Republic, a country still in the throes of a brutal civil war.
“It is a real possibility that security concerns could force the Pope and his entourage to return home after visiting only the first two destinations — Kenya and Uganda — or at least limit the last leg to just a brief stopover for a Mass at the tightly guarded Bangui airport.
“No matter how the trip unfolds, Francis will not be coming back to anything remotely considered “peace and quiet” in Rome.
“Among other things, in the coming days and weeks he is set to announce some major personnel and structural changes in the Roman Curia and other Vatican-related departments.
By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Catholic women sharply call for Synod to open to women’s participation, voices / National Catholic Reporter
A diverse global network of Catholic women is set to launch an expansive and compelling collection of writings before the opening of October’s Synod of Bishops, pointedly calling on the male prelates to include their half of humanity and its experience in the synod’s discussions.
“In 40 short essays mixing the sociological, theological, and sometimes deeply personal, the writers raise a number of weighty concerns for the hotly anticipated worldwide meeting of prelates on family life — centered on the fact that extraordinarily few women are invited or involved.
“At the heart of many of their concerns, however, is their own exclusion from the Synod process. While Francis has appointed 30 women to attend the Synod as auditors making contributions to the discussions, only the 279 male members of the meetings can vote …
“‘The absence of women’s perspectives at times of reflection on these issues is not only an act of disdain toward women, who make up more than half of religious and believers, it is also an impoverishment of Catholic life, writes (historian Lucetta) Scaraffia, one of 43 women writing for the essay collection, titled ‘Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table.’”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The collection of essays will be launched in Rome on Oct. 1.