Posts Tagged future of the Church

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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An opportunity for deep reform in the church / La Croix International

‘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 …

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Deacons, women and the call to serve / America: The National Catholic Review

This special web round-table discussion is sponsored by America Media and the Fordham Center on Religion and Culture. Two in this series of three round-table discussions on the potential of a Catholic women’s diaconate have been published.
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.

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Next synod likely to focus on ordaining married men / Cruxnow.com

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.

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Reforming the Roman Catholic Church / Oxford Mail

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.

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Major changes coming for Roman Curia / National Catholic Reporter

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.

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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.

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