A Contemporary Resurrection Reflection: Life is Changed
John A. Dick, Ph.D., S.T.D. April, 2015
Around 33 CE, Jesus of Nazareth was executed in Jerusalem by the Roman authorities, with the collusion as well by certain Jewish leaders. Jesus had a way of upsetting people more committed to religion than to faith. After his death, the women (first) and the men who were his disciples experienced him very much alive.
Jesus of Nazareth was not raised from the dead like a resuscitated corpse. After death on the cross, his followers experienced him alive in a new way: alive in God in a new form of life far beyond the restrictions of a physical body and the imaginations of the human mind.
Jesus' resurrection introduced a major paradigm change in understanding the human condition: life is stronger than death, love is stronger than hatred, people more important than regulations, and the old regulations don't work anymore.
Christian moral responsiveness and leadership - proclaimed in the Resurrection of Christ - is a journey with God in human life and history, a journey of cross and resurrection that transforms everything. It challenges self-understanding, institutional life, and the very nature of Christian witness and ministry.
I suggest it is far better to speak of a Christian spirituality than a Christian ethic. As we stand at the resurrection and look back at the life of Jesus, we see now perhaps more clearly that Jesus did not just show kindness to the sinner, but subverted the whole division of the world into the good and the bad, the righteous and the unrighteous.
Far too many people require the existence of the bad against whom they then secure their own goodness, living in a perpetual state of self-righteous comparison and judgment. Every day in the news, we see examples of "Christians" proclaiming their "goodness" by denigrating others as bad.
This past week Indiana Governor Mike Pence signed into law a sweeping bill allowing individuals to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT people and other minorities. Legislators from Arizona to Indiana have now conceded that the intent of their bills, on behalf of "religious liberty," is to protect business owners from having to serve gays and lesbians.
Closer to home in the Catholic camp, Cardinal Raymond Burke has spoken out again, telling an interviewer that gay couples and divorced and remarried Catholics, who are trying to live good and faithful lives, are still living in sin just like "the person who murders someone and yet is kind to other people."
Far too often, Christians too easily and too comfortably forget what Jesus was all about.
Jesus refused to allow himself to be designated as good (Mark 10:18). He understood God to be unconcerned with our division of each other into good and bad categories, because God "makes the sun rise on the evil as on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous" (Matthew 5:45) and gives the worker, who has worked least in the fields, the same wage as the one who had worked longest (Matthew 20:1-16).
In his life and ministry, Jesus was not simply proposing a new principle of moral life, or a new form of judgment within an alternative system of goodness. Jesus was making available a far deeper way of being Good.
One could argue, perhaps, that the antidote to the moral and spiritual danger self-justification and self-righteousness would be to refuse to prescribe norms of goodness, since without norms there would be no bases for envious comparison and assessment. The problem however is that a mere rejection of norms would not transform the dynamic that underlies the human tendency towards envy, competition, and threatening others. It is precisely this tendency that is inimical to the possibility of true human fellowship, true Goodness.
What then is the deeper order of Goodness to which Jesus gives us access? Jesus opened up new possibilities for human being that are interdependent, with the possibility of participating in God's Goodness: a Goodness beyond categorizing people as good and evil.
It is in the experience of finding ourselves in communion in a deeper way with other people, with the energy of divine life, so that we can begin to realize the extent to which we had been previously isolated.
The healing of the self and of human community is dependent on our letting-go of the illusion of both the possibility and the necessity of self-making, by learning to accept our vulnerability and dependence on others without fear of annihilation. This, I suggest again, is the way to understand the experience of salvation for those women and men who were Jesus' disciples.
Jesus himself modeled freedom from any project of self-making, entrusting himself entirely to God as the source of his life and meaning. By freely allowing himself to become the victim of the system of goodness in his day, Jesus was able to unmask the mechanism by which the identity and the goodness of the group was secured by denigrating the designated other. Indeed, many people become victims of systems that reinforce the identity and goodness of one group at the expense of those who are cast out.
As Paul reminded the Galatians (3:13) "Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written, 'Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree.'"
Through his own exercises of hospitality and his resurrection from the dead, Jesus enacts God's endlessly giving life in the human world; and he invites the disciples to "follow me" in that same trusting dependence. Just as the mystical tradition has discovered it: as the self comes to know and embrace its own nothingness, it can finally authentically become itself and receive the fullness of being.
How Pope Francis could help Obama on the Iranian deal
John L. Allen Jr. Apr.7, 2015
Popes generally use their Easter Urbi et Orbi address, "to the city and the world," to pray for peace amid global conflicts. Francis followed that tradition on Sunday, among other things commenting on a tentative nuclear deal between the P5+1 nations, including the United States, and Iran.
The pontiff said, "In hope we entrust to the merciful Lord the framework recently agreed to in Lausanne, that it may be a definitive step toward a more secure and fraternal world."
That may not amount to a direct endorsement, but it's certainly more favorable than the commentary coming from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or Republicans in Congress about the outline for an accord reached April 2 in Switzerland, not to mention Iranian hardliners who see it as a threat to their national interests.
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First of all, Pope Francis has plenty of political capital at the moment because of his high approval ratings and perceptions of his moral authority. He also has a proven capacity to translate that capital into results, as his role in restoring relations between the United States and Cuba illustrates.
If Francis were to lend his seal of approval to the nuclear deal, even campaigning for it in the oblique but unmistakable way popes sometimes do on political matters, it could move the needle in terms of public opinion.
On a more long-term basis, the Vatican may be the global institution with the best shot at rebuilding trust between Iran and the West.
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This isn't to say the Vatican is uncritical in its approach to Iran. Above all, Pope Francis has become increasingly outspoken about anti-Christian violence, and Iran's ambiguous relationship with radical forces that often target Christians and other minorities is a source of burning concern.
Yet the Vatican nonetheless favors keeping lines of communication open, and the interest is clearly reciprocated by Tehran. Diplomatic relations between Iran and the Holy See date to 1954, making them 30 years older than US/Vatican ties, and the Iranian embassy to the Holy See is well-known in Rome for its large staff and activist spirit.
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In a small but telling sign, Italian Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia, who heads the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Family, recently met with a delegation of high-level Iranian women including Shahindokht Molaverdi, vice-president for women and family affairs. When the Iranians floated the idea of attending the upcoming World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September, an event Pope Francis will attend, Paglia immediately embraced it.
As a result, when Francis visits the United States, he's set to bring an Iranian delegation in his wake. Not many world leaders could wrap such a gesture into their American debut without triggering a diplomatic fracas.
Salvadoran general linked to deaths of US churchwomen faces deportation
Linda Cooper & James Hodge Apr.8, 2015
A former Salvadoran defense minister who's been living in Florida for 25 years is a step closer to deportation after the highest U.S. immigration appeals court found he covered up torture and murder by his troops, including the 1980 murders of four U.S. churchwomen by members of the National Guard.
The March 11 ruling by the Board of Immigration Appeals upheld a deportation order against Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, head of the National Guard from 1979 to 1983 and Minister of Defense from 1983 to 1989.
The board also upheld the principle of "command responsibility," saying that "he participated in the commission of particular acts of torture and extrajudicial killing of civilians" by the fact that they "took place while he was in command." He knew about them but "did not hold the perpetrators accountable," the board said.
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The board's decision on Vides Casanova is significant not only for its use of the concept of "command responsibility," but also for the fact that the general was once a close ally of the United States, and the highest-ranking military commander successfully prosecuted under a provision of the 2004 law.
He was the recipient of two Legion of Merit awards by the Reagan administration and was given safe haven by the Bush administration to live in Florida, where his wife, Lourdes, owned considerable property. His profile was made even higher by his father-in-law, Prudencio Llach Schonenberg, who was a coffee baron and the Salvadoran ambassador to the Vatican during the time Vides Casanova was the most powerful man in the military.
In the case of the churchwomen, the board relied, in part, on the 1993 U.N. Truth Commission report. That report concluded that Vides Casanova "knew that members of the National Guard had committed the murders" of Maryknoll Srs. Ita Ford and Maura Clarke, Ursuline Sr. Dorothy Kazel, and lay missionary Jean Donovan, but he "made no serious effort to conduct a thorough investigation."
Burundi's Catholic Church steps in as leader hangs tough
Aude Genet Mar.29, 2015
The Sunday service at the hill-top Kiryama church was packed as Catholic Archbishop Simon Ntamwana delivered a sermon, and a political bombshell, for the small central African nation of Burundi.
Addressing a congregation of hundreds in his central Burundi parish, Ntamwana read from the Old Testament story of Zedekiah, the last king of Judah who rebelled against God and brought destruction on his kingdom.
"We cannot choose other paths than those of love and of mutual respect for the principles that govern our country," he said.
To his congregation the message was clear: President Pierre Nkurunziza must not stand for re-election in June.
Days before, leaders of the influential Catholic Church penned a newspaper commentary criticising the president's desire for what opponents say would be an unconstitutional third five-year term.
In the article, Burundi's Catholic leaders warned that the country must not "fall back into divisions, clashes or war" and recalled that a peace deal that ended the civil war in 2006 and put Nkurunziza in office only allowed for two terms.
Officials from Burundi's ruling party, the CNDD-FDD, admit the statement has caused "immense damage" to the presidential camp, already hit by accusations of running an election campaign characterised by censorship and repression.
"Catholics represent between 75 and 80 percent of the population, so it is a social force, an influential force," said Julien Nimubona, a political science professor at Burundi University in the capital Bujumbura.
Can Francis break the US climate change stalemate?
John Gehring Apr.7, 2015
For decades now, scientists have raised increasingly urgent warnings about human-induced climate change. Headlines grow more ominous every day. Global carbon emissions are at record levels. Water shortages, including in the western United States, have reached crisis proportions. The Pentagon expects climate change to intensity global instability. The world's poor-those least responsible for the carbon emissions in the first place-are already paying the heaviest price. Even in the face of this stark reality, a growing number of Americans say global warming is not occurring, or rank the issue low in importance. This is both dispiriting and unsurprising. A well-funded climate denial industry, politicians nestled in their pockets, casts a cloud of doubt over the overwhelming scientific consensus that our world faces a threat of existential proportions.
Enter, Pope Francis.
If anyone can help break the stalemate over climate change and reach an audience far beyond the progressive choir, it's a global leader with approval ratings most politicians crave and the moral gravitas they usually lack. The first pope in history to take his name from Francis of Assisi - the saint most associated with poverty and reverence of nature - is working on a highly anticipated encyclical focused on the environment, expected to be released in early summer. When it comes to the Catholic Church, Francis is not exactly a maverick on this issue.
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While Pope Francis is clearly following in the tradition of his predecessors, he will make a much bigger splash by becoming the first pope in history to issue a lengthy encyclical about the environment. From the start of his pontificate, Pope Francis has linked what he calls an "economy of exclusion and inequality" with ecological devastation. "An economic system centered on the god of money needs to plunder nature to sustain the frenetic rhythm of consumption that is inherent to it," he told a meeting of social movements last fall. Cardinal Peter Turkson of Ghana, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, is one of several Vatican officials helping Pope Francis shape his encyclical. "The threats that arise from global inequality and the destruction of the environment are inter-related, and they are the greatest threats we face as a human family today," Turkson said in a recent speech.
Expectations are high.
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The first pope from Latin America will likely find his toughest audience in the United States, a country he will visit for the first time this fall. Some conservatives are already throwing punches. The pope is part of "the radical green movement that is at its core anti-Christian, anti-people, and anti-progress," writes Stephen Moore, a Catholic who is an economist at the Heritage Foundation in Washington. Robert George of Princeton University, a prominent Catholic philosopher, argues that the pope should steer clear of an area where-in his own misguided view-the science is unsettled.
Powerful Catholic politicians are climate change skeptics. Speaker John Boehner, who invited the pope to address a joint session of Congress, routinely blasts the Obama administration for "job killing" environmental policies. "The idea that carbon dioxide is a carcinogen that is harmful to our environment is almost comical," the graduate of Xavier University, a Jesuit college in Ohio, has scoffed.
Trial ordered over possession dispute at Scituate church
Sean P. Murphy Mar.28, 2015
A 10-year-long standoff between dozens of parishioners of a Scituate Catholic church and the Archdiocese of Boston appears to be heading for a trial, with both sides expected to assert that they are the rightful owners of the church.
The Boston Archdiocese officially closed St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in 2004, as part of a consolidation amid declines in attendance and funding. But parishioners devoted to the church never left: they have conducted a vigil, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, hoping for a reprieve from the closure order.
The archdiocese recently filed a lawsuit asking a court to find that the parishioners are trespassing and to order them out of the church. With the suit, they filed a request for a preliminary injunction, which if granted would have evicted the parishioners pending a trial on the trespassing issue.
On Friday, Judge Edward P. Leibensperger declined to issue an injunction and instead ordered the parties to go to trial, beginning with a conference scheduled for April 2 in Norfolk Superior Court and the trial within 30 days of that.
But Leibensperger's order imposes severe limits on the issues that the parishioners can raise.
The trial will be limited to the archdiocese's "proof that it has the right to possession" of the church, the judge wrote.
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In addition, Leibensperger wrote, the trial "will not concern defendants' arguments that they somehow are equitable owners of the Church or that the Church should be held for them under the legal theory that the archdiocese holds the church for the parishioners in trust."
Mary Beth Carmody, an attorney for the parishioners, said they look forward to a trial.
Christopher S. Pineo & Gregory L. Tracy Apr.6, 2015
As the trial of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev went to the jury April 6, the bishops of Massachusetts have released a statement reiterating the Church's teaching on the death penalty. If convicted, Tsarnaev could be sentenced to death or life without the possibility of parole.
Tsarnaev has been on trial in federal court in Boston since March 4, were prosecutors have presented evidence that he and his older brother Tamerlan Tsarnaev planted the bombs that exploded on April 15, 2013 near the finish line at the Boston Marathon, wounding more than 260 people and killing 8-year-old Martin Richard of Dorchester; 29-year-old Medford native Krystle Campbell; and Lu Lingzi, 23, a Chinese national studying at Boston University. Later, Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer Sean Collier was killed as the brothers attempted to escape from the Boston area.
In their statement, the bishops acknowledged the profound effect of the bombings and their aftermath has had on Greater Boston community.
I add my voice and prayer to Fr O'Collins SJ, call for the 1998 English Missal translation, which was approved by more than two-thirds of the United States bishops, to replace the present failed text of the New Roman Missal.
In his address to the bishops of Brazil in 2013, Pope Francis remarked: "At times we lose people because they don't understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and impart an intellectualism foreign to our people."
That statement is clearly verified on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception when the New Missal prayer over the Offertory reads: "On account of your prevenient grace". "Prevenient grace" is a technical theological term that neither priest nor people understand.
In the New Missal we have these words: consubstantial, incarnate, oblation, conciliation, ineffable, unfeigned, and so on. And yet the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, which came out of the Second Vatican Council, declared: "The rites should be distinguished by a noble simplicity, they should be short, clear - and they should be within the people's powers of comprehension and normally should not require much explanation" (paragraph 34). These words of an Ecumenical Council trump any document of a curial congregation on translation.
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Our translated text is intended for prayer, worship, and lifting up the heart and mind to God. If a translation - no matter how exact - does not communicate in the living language of the liturgical assembly, it fails as a translation. The believer must be able to make the prayer his or her own. St Jerome, the great doctor of the Sacred Scriptures, who spent 20 years translating the Bible into Latin, was not a literalist. He said: "If I translate word by word, it sounds absurd."
Where did the Indiana law come from? A brief history of religious freedom
Jay Michaelson Apr.1, 2015
Before this week, few people had heard of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act or could even pronounce its acronym, RFRA (Riff-ra), even though there's a federal version of the law and 20 states have passed their own versions. Is it a "license to discriminate," as liberals claim, or a "protection of religious freedom," as conservatives claim?
What RFRA did -- in the federal and later in state versions -- was change the way courts interpreted competing rights claims. It replaced the balancing test that the Supreme Court had used in the Native American case with a much more exacting standard, requiring a "compelling state interest" justifying a ban on religious practice, an action "narrowly tailored" to that interest, and the "least restrictive" means of pursuing it.
This is a very high standard, and it's meant to block all but a few government actions.
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That all changed in the 2000s as conservative activists began using RFRA in a new way: as a sword, rather than a shield. Now, they argued, my religious belief should trump your civil rights. Gays and lesbians may see the florist's refusal as discrimination, but she sees ias freedom of religion.
These two streams -- religious exemptions and RFRA -- converged in the Hobby Lobby case, decided last year.
In that case, the Supreme Court decided, for the first time, that RFRA could be sword as well as shield. A corporation could deny someone their legal rights, then claim religious freedom as a defense.
That was a game-changer. With the court's imprimatur, a host of lawsuits were filed around the country using RFRA to defend against claims of discrimination. Those lawsuits are still ongoing.
Which brings us to Indiana. Yes, as Gov. Mike Pence has said many times, 19 other states also have RFRAs. But Indiana is only the second state, after Mississippi, to pass one in the new, post-Hobby Lobby reality.
Arizona's governor vetoed that state's version, Oklahoma dropped its, and Georgia and Texas appear poised to reject their versions. Late Tuesday afternoon, though, Arkansas passed its own RFRA measure, which will now go to Gov. Asa Hutchinson for his signature or veto.
Now, is Pence right that this law is just about protecting religious freedom? Or are his opponents right that it's about legalizing discrimination?
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On the surface, Pence is correct. The law prohibits government restriction of religious exercise without a compelling state interest.
In reality, though, this law and others like it have been advanced by social conservatives who repeatedly give examples about LGBT people: a photographer in New Mexico found guilty of civil rights laws for turning a gay couple away, a baker in Colorado, a florist in Washington, that church-owned pavilion in New Jersey. These are all actual, not hypothetical, cases.
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One resolution to this conflict might be to remember that corporations have to play by the rules of the marketplace. This is not what the Supreme Court said in Hobby Lobby, but it might help the photographer who feels sincerely torn. Render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, the Bible says -- anti-discrimination law included.
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Really, though, the Indiana case is about politics, not religious philosophy. Pence is an ambitious politician, and he gave his conservative backers what they wanted. Now it all may backfire. Seventy-five percent of Americans oppose discrimination against LGBT people, even though only 55 percent support same-sex marriage. Moreover, while America remains a uniquely religious nation, it also respects the rule of law. And letting people discriminate because of religion is not what the rule of law is about.
Pope under pressure to roll back on abuse case bishop
AFP Mar.28, 2015
Pope Francis's decision to appoint a Chilean bishop suspected of protecting a paedophile priest has alarmed the Vatican's own child protection watchdog, its members told AFP.
Several members of the new commission set up by the pope to stamp out child abuse in the Catholic Church expressed their shock at the decision, with pressure building up for the decision to be overturned.
Juan Barros, who took up his post as Bishop of Osorno last Saturday, has denied that he knew about the abuse committed by Fernando Karadima, once an influential figure within the Chilean church.
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Another source said that the pope may have been badly advised.
British commission member Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, told the US National Catholic Reporter that "one of two of us are suggesting we go to Rome to talk with the pope."
The pope had pledged to crack down hard on the culture of cover up within the Church, and had personally taken up the cases of abuse victims in Spain and Italy recently.
Archbishop Chomali: Pope Francis was confident in appointing Chilean bishop
CNA Mar.28, 2015
Both the Archbishop of Concepcion and the apostolic nuncio to Chile have maintained that Pope Francis understood all the facts in the case when he made a bishop appointment in the country earlier this year which has met with protests.
The Chilean Archbishop Fernando Chomali Garib of Concepcion said Thursday that Pope Francis "told me he had analyzed all the past records and that there was no objective reason at all" that Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid "should not be installed as the diocesan bishop."
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Bishop Barros' installation was marred by a group of protesters who are accusing him of having covered up sexual abuses committed by Father Fernando Karadima, a charge the prelate denied numerous times. Bishop Barros' vocation was fostered by Fr. Karadima, and he was among his closest circle of friends decades ago.
Archbishop Chomali explained that he gave Pope Francis a "document with detailed information on the consequences of the appointment he had made. All the documentation that I cited came to him, whether through the nunciature or the Chilean embassy to the Holy See. He was very much up to date on Bishop Barros' situation, and in fact a few days prior he had spoken with him."
In outspoken remarks regarding the attitudes of the Catholic Church, the ex-head of State insisted that the Pope is "blind" to improving the role of women.
Ms McAleese caused a stir in 2013 when she condemned the Vatican's attitude to gay rights.
While saying she admires Pope Francis, the former president urged a radical change in the Church's thinking towards women.
"There is a blindness here that comes from a kind of a priestly formation that leaves so many good, decent, gentlemanly men like Francis still carrying an element, a residual element, of misogyny that closes them off to the dangers of not dealing with these issues," Ms McAleese told RT?.
"I think that's where there's a problem with Francis, I don't think that he gets it. Still. He's very gentlemanly, he's a lovely person, everybody likes him and women like him. We love his smile, we love his openness, we love his accessibility, we love his frankness, we love the ease of him. But we also know that that's not enough."
She said the rights issue went further than the ban on women priests.
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"I'm talking about an altogether different phenomenon and that is the structure of a universal Church that comprises 1.2bn people, half of whom are women, and who do not have appropriate vehicles at parish, diocesan or universal level that fully respect the role they play in the Church or could play in the Church," Ms McAleese said.
She previously caused a stir by stating that "a very large number" of Catholic priests are gay and the Church is in denial about the fact. "It isn't so much the elephant in the room but a herd of elephants," she said.
Ultra-traditional Catholics rebel against pope in Brazil: 'He is less Catholic than us'
Jonathan Watts & Stephanie Kirchgaessner Apr.1, 2015
In a secluded monastery in south-eastern Brazil, a breakaway group of ultra-conservative Catholics gathered to participate in an act of rebellion against the pope.
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But the 50 or so priests, Benedictine monks, nuns and other worshippers who file into Santa Cruz monastery on Saturday were no ordinary congregation. Hailing from Europe, the US and Latin America, they described themselves as a "resistance" movement against Vatican reforms.
In favour of Latin services - and fiercely opposed to ecumenism, freedom of religion and closer relations with Judaism - they had come to defy the authority of Rome with the ordination of a new priest by an excommunicated bishop, Jean-Michel Faure.
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After the mass, Faure told the Guardian the Vatican was smashing tradition, and going against the teachings of Pius X, a staunch conservative who was pope between 1903 and 1914.
"We do not follow that revolution. The current pope is preaching doctrine denied by Pius X. He is less Catholic than us," he said. "He does not follow the doctrine of the faith that are the words of Jesus Christ."
The Vatican's response to the ordination was unequivocal.
"Excommunication is automatic," a spokesman said. He added: "For the Holy See, the diocese of Santa Cruz in Nova Friburgo does not exist. Faure can say what he wants, but a Catholic, and even more so a bishop, obeys and respects the pope."
Half of baptised Catholics never attend Mass and a third claim to have 'no religion'. But it would be wrong to point the finger at the great ecumenical council.
It is no secret that a great many baptised Catholics are, in the parlance of one of our bishops, "resting".
Forty-eight per cent never attend Mass; one in three claims to have "no religion". A moment's reflection, however, confirms that it cannot ever have been thus. The Catholic birthrate would need to be vastly above average (it isn't) to break even, let alone grow, in the face of such attrition. So when, exactly, did the haemorrhage begin? And why?
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Fortunately, I am not a cynic. And nor, I think, need you be. Post Concilium, ergo propter Concilium - the notion that because something happened after the council it is necessarily caused by the council - is by no means so obvious as such statistics might suggest. This is so for two reasons.
The plummeting graph lines one sees from the 1960s onwards (in all areas of Church life, not just regarding identity) are not at all exclusive to Catholicism.
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They all show the same pattern: consistent levels in the first half of the 20th century, perhaps even with a slight rise in the late 1950s, and then swift and unambiguous decline, from the 1960s to the present day.
Similar stories can be told for every major denomination - only one of which, be it noted, held an ecumenical council at more or less the watershed moment. What it was about the 1960s that precipitated all this is keenly debated among sociologists and social historians. Strangely though, none of them regard either guitar Masses or female altar servers as the primary drivers.
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Nevertheless, the beginnings of our current pastoral crises assuredly predate the council, and in any case - as noted above - they are by no means Catholic-specific. (We might also observe that at least in certain areas, such as retention and church attendance, Catholics are doing somewhat better than most denominations.)
To accuse Vatican II of being the cause of disaffiliation and "resting", therefore, is rather like blaming Trent for the rise of Protestantism.
Robert Blair Kaiser passes, at 84, on Holy Thursday
Thomas C. Fox Apr.3, 2015
Robert Blair Kaiser, journalist and inveterate church lover and critic, died at the age of 84 in a hospice center in Phoenix yesterday, on Holy Thursday, with daughter, sons, and grandchildren at his bedside.
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Nearly a decade in the Jesuit order, Kaiser left to become a journalist, covering the Second Vatican Council for Time magazine, and going on to write a half dozen books about church post-conciliar life.
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He pressed for reform to the last breaths of his life, a computer on his chest while hooked up to oxygen. In recent months he was finishing a book on Dominican Father Tom Doyle, who for forty years has been one of the church's most outspoken critics of clergy sex abuse. I worked with him, writing an epilogue for that book, "Whistle: Tom Doyle's Steadfast Witness for Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse," set to be published in June.
Kaiser, lecturer and author, found every vehicle he could to fan the flames of church reform. He was the editor of Just Good Company, an online journal of religion and culture, and co-founder of takebackourchurch.org, a web community of American Catholics whose stated mission was to seek "ownership and citizenship in the people's church envisioned at Vatican II." The group advocated the election of local bishops and the power to dismiss them. More recently, he co-founded Catholic Church Reform International, with which American Catholic Council, another church reform group, is associated.
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The council was a high mark in Kaiser's life, shaping it indelibly. It was also one of its darkest chapters. During those years, Kaiser and his wife hosted a friend, Jesuit Father Malachy Martin, who betrayed Kaiser, running off with his wife. That betrayal tortured Kaiser for many years. Four decades after the episode he wrote about it in a personal book called "Clerical Error."
If Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were primarily responsible for thwarting the winds of conciliar reform in Kaiser's eyes, Pope Francis, now two years into his pontificate has been its principle prelate conveyor of fresh hope.
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Last year, Kaiser published "Inside the Jesuits: How Pope Francis Is Changing the Church and the World," a work in which the author argued that Francis' "Jesuit DNA" is central to understanding his vision of church and its place in the wider world.
Throughout the book Kaiser emphasized not only that Francis is different from his predecessors, but also that the nature of this difference lies precisely in the fact that he is a Jesuit. The book once again allowed Kaiser to write personally about his own experience as a Jesuit, an experience that shaped his own DNA.
Kaiser was among the last of the journalists to have reported the Second Vatican Council and with his death, a rich and lonely living memory of that epic church event is being silenced, the reforms Kaiser sought still remaining to be fulfilled.
A wake and celebration of his life will be held at 6:30 p.m., Thursday April 9 at Santa Lucia Yaqui Church, 5445 E Calle San Angelo, in Guadalupe, AZ 85283. A Mass will be celebrated at 1:30 p.m., Friday April 10 at Francis Xavier Church, 4715 N Central Ave., in Phoenix, AZ 85012
Kaiser worked to the very end on the OMG!Journal of Religion and Culture of which he was Editor and Publisher and which was issued April 1.
NCR 'stalwart' Bob McClory dies on Good Friday
Thomas C. Fox Tom Roberts Apr.3, 2015
Decades-long National Catholic Reportercontributor, Robert J. McClory, died April 3, Good Friday, in Chicago, after being anointed by a parish priest. Humorous to the end, wife, Margaret, said Bob told the priest: "Hurry up; make it quick." He was 82.
Arthur Jones, McClory's first NCR editor in the late 1970s, recalled him as, "a fluid writer, a disciplined and diligent reporter who earned the readerships' respect."
Tom Fox, NCR editor who worked with McClory in the 1980s and 1990s, remembered him "as a journalist with a passion for justice, a person able to find humor in all things."
Tom Roberts, NCR editor who worked with McClory from 2000 to 2008, said McClory "handled a huge range of material with a firm command of church history and theology, a pro's pro."
NCR Editor Dennis Cody called him "an admirable stalwart to the end. ... He was pitching me a story just weeks ago."
McClory fell three weeks ago, entered a hospital, developed a bacterial infection in an artificial knee, and continue to weaken. "He died peacefully," said Margaret, adding that he passed after his daughter, Jennifer, her partner, Sarah Klein, and their daughter, Rose, had arrived for a visit.
Robert Joseph McClory grew up on the first floor of a brick, two-flat building in Chicago, attending a Catholic elementary school and studying five years at Quigley Preparatory Seminar before graduating in 1951. He attended St. Mary of the Lake Seminary and was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Chicago in 1958.
McClory served as associate pastor at Sts. Faith, Hope and Charity Church, Winnetka, Ill. for six years and at St. Sabina Church in Chicago until 1971 when he resigned from the priesthood, later marrying Margaret McComish that year.
McClory turned to journalism, getting a degree from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism. He then became a reporter and feature writer and later, city editor for the Chicago Daily Defender and the Chicago Reader in the 1970s.
. . . .
He also wrote for the Chicago Magazine, US Catholic, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Catholic Digest, Student Lawyer, Illinois Times, and the Chicago Lawyer.
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National Forum on Women in the Catholic Church Today:
What Pope Francis Needs to Know
July 25, 2015
Watch for further information.
Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church