Posts Tagged Thomas Reese
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 …
In this sense, we should be happy to see more bad headlines because it means more bad actors are being caught. (National Catholic Reporter)
In the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandals, what seems like bad news for the church — seemingly daily headlines about clergy being disciplined — is actually good news.
“The truly bad news of the scandal, of course, has been the horrible abuse of children, which will have negative effects on them for the rest of their lives. The good news is that perpetrators have been caught and exposed. Accusations are being investigated and the guilty are being punished. When the abuse scandal was first uncovered in the United States some 30 years ago, bishops in other countries denied they had a problem. What is clearly a worldwide problem is now getting attention at the highest level in the church, thanks to Pope Francis.
“In this sense, we should be happy to see more bad headlines because it means more bad actors are being caught.
“Some of the cases that have received media attention in recent months include …”
By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“The fundamental problem is that the church has no process for judging bishops that is transparent and has legitimacy with the public. The bishop may or may not be innocent, but no one will trust a secret process that involves clerics investigating clerics, clerics judging clerics.” (National Catholic Reporter)
The overwhelming consensus in the media is that Pope Francis has a blind spot when it comes to sexual abuse.
“He may be on the side of refugees, migrants, the sick, the poor, the indigenous and other marginalized peoples, but he just doesn’t get it when it comes to victims of abuse.
“The evidence for this assertion is the pope’s unwavering support for Juan Barros, whom he appointed bishop of Osorno, Chile, despite accusations from victims that he witnessed and covered up abuse by the Fr. Fernando Karadima, the charismatic priest who in 2011 was found guilty by the Vatican of abusing minors in his upscale Santiago parish.
“In a leaked letter to the Chilean bishops, Francis defended his January 2015 appointment of Barros to Osorno. Francis acknowledged that the Vatican was so concerned about the crisis in Chile that it planned to ask Barros, who was the bishop for the military, and two other bishops to resign and take a sabbatical. Despite these concerns, Francis appointed Barros anyway.”
By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God. We cannot have a Catholic Church without sacraments, and a priest is needed for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing.
“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.
“For at least 50 years, the Catholic Church in the United States has seen a drop in the number of priests. According to CARA reports, in 1970, there were 59,192 priests in the U.S.; by 2016, there were only 37,192. Meanwhile, the number of Catholics increased to 74.2 million from 51 million. That means the people/priest ratio grew from 861 Catholics per priest in 1970 to 1,995 per priest in 2016. These numbers include all priests both religious and diocesan, as well as retired priests. When the priests currently over 65 years of age die, these numbers will be even worse.”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
On the agenda of the most recent meeting of the Council of Cardinals was what might be the most important issue in the reform of the Roman Curia — the decentralization of decision-making in the church.
“The council is made up of nine cardinals, six from outside of Rome, who are advising the pope on the reform of the Vatican Curia. This was their 13th meeting since the council’s creation by Pope Francis shortly after his election.
“The Feb. 8-9 meeting of the council included a discussion of the Holy Father’s discourse on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Synod of Bishops (Oct. 17). This talk developed theme of “synodality,” and spoke of “the need to proceed with a healthy decentralization” in the church.
“The pope’s speech “constitutes an important point of reference for the work of reforming the Curia,” according to Vatican spokesman Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi.”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.
As the U.S. bishops gather in Baltimore for their annual fall meeting this week (Nov. 16-17), they will be deciding their priorities until the end of this decade. Will these priorities sync with those of Pope Francis or will the bishops continue on as if the pope is not taking the church in a new direction …
“Francis has been very clear in laying out his priorities in his talks and writings. His priorities would look more like this:
- A poor church for the poor
- The church as a field hospital, a church of mercy and compassion
- The practice of synodality at all levels of the church
- The end of clericalism and the empowerment of the laity
- The promotion of justice and peace and the protection of the environment —
“Francis’ harshest words are against clericalism and careerism in the church. He sounds like Jesus denouncing the scribes and Pharisees. He insists that leadership is for service. That shepherds must smell like their sheep. And that priests and bishops are at the bottom of the pyramid, not the top …
“Francis also wants to empower the laity to take up their role in evangelization and in reshaping the world according to Gospel values.
“As he asked the CELAM bishops in Brazil,
- ‘Do we make the lay faithful sharers in the mission?’
- Do diocesan and parish councils, ‘whether pastoral or financial, provide real opportunities for laypeople to participate in pastoral consultation, organization and planning?’
- Do we give the laity ‘the freedom to continue discerning, in a way befitting their growth as disciples, the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them? Do we support them and accompany them, overcoming the temptation to manipulate them or infantilize them?'”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of the article.
Elections at USCCB’s annual fall meeting could presage how successful Pope Francis’ Church reforms may be
The upcoming election of committee chairs by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will present the American bishops with clear choices that will indicate the direction of the conference for the next few years.
“The elections will take place at the bishops’ annual fall meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 16-19.
“Four of the candidates are clearly ‘Francis bishops,’ because they were chosen by him for their dioceses or for a special assignment.
“I am not saying that only bishops appointed by Pope Francis can be considered ‘Francis bishops,’ but it is interesting that the USCCB elections will have four Francis appointees on the ballot. Will the bishops like these candidates as much as Pope Francis does?”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The synod on the family has created a lot of interest in the church and spilled a lot of ink (or electrons) in the media, but there are five reasons that it was doomed to fail before the bishops even gathered in Rome Oct. 4. Perhaps Pope Francis can perform a miracle and save it, but the odds are against him.”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this commentary and here to read similar comments from David Gibson, “Are conservatives at high-stakes Vatican summit overplaying their hand,” at Religion News Service.
Vatican watchers in the media continue to assess Francis’ impact a little more than two years and a month into his papacy. Here are three recent stories:
The barque of Peter in shark-infested waters
(Apr. 13, 2015) “The seas have suddenly become a lot more agitated for Pope Francis, who up to now has proven to be amazingly unsinkable in the face of any kind of adversity. But in the last few weeks, he has found himself in the midst of several minor crises and controversies that if not resolved well could work to undermine his credibility with many Catholics and deal a blow to his project for reforming the church.” By Robert Mickens, Global Pulse editor-in-chief, in National Catholic Reporter
Despite rhetoric, Pope Francis treats cardinals like princes
(Apr. 10, 2015) “In his pre-Christmas talk to the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican Curia, Pope Francis shocked his audience and the world by his scathing words on the failings of those working in the Vatican. He warned them against 15 separate “diseases” in their work and attitudes … News stories of this talk naturally connected it with Pope Francis’ plans to reform the Curia, but the speech notwithstanding, little progress has been seen except in the area of financial reform. After such a speech, one would have expected heads to roll, but they did not. Despite the rhetoric, curial cardinals are still treated like princes.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis is wildly popular. So what?
(Apr. 8, 2015) “In the days before Easter, NBC News and the Wall Street Journal published the results of a poll finding that most Americans still hold a favorable view of Pope Francis. A few weeks before that, the Pew Research Center released a report showing that the pope remains popular even with non-Catholics. That was an update to a poll from last December demonstrating that Francis was popular around the world, too.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com
In only two years, Pope Francis has changed the face of Catholicism by radically reimagining how it presents itself to the world. From the moment he stepped out on the balcony of St. Peter’s (March 13, 2012), he has presented a different style of being pope and a new set of priorities for the church.
“The change in style was what first caught people’s attention. He rejected the usual papal finery of silks and firs and presented himself to the people of Rome in a simple white cassock. A simple greeting of “Good evening” were his first words, and before he blessed the crowd in St. Peter’s Square, he bowed his head and asked them to pray over him.
“This was quickly followed by his decisions not to live in the papal apartments but in Casa Santa Marta; to celebrate his first Mass as pope in St. Ann’s, the small parish church of Vatican City; and to celebrate Holy Thursday in a prison for young male and female offenders whose feet he washed.
“These early gestures of the pope garnered him worldwide attention, but more importantly, they were symbolic gestures that communicated his vision for the church. He realizes that the Gospel is preached not just in words, but in actions. As St. Francis of Assisi said, “Preach the Gospel always, use words when necessary.”
“The pope’s early actions were a direct assault on clericalism in the church by modeling what it means to be a good bishop, a good priest, a good Christian.”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.