Category : Roman Catholic

(Telegraph) Charles Moore–What can happen when a Pope kisses your feet?

It was moving to watch Pope Francis kiss the feet (or, to be absolutely accurate, the shoes) of the warring leaders of South Sudan last week. In human terms, it was particularly touching because the Pope is an old man, so his physical effort added to the gesture of humility.

As it happens, I met one of those leaders, Riek Machar, when I visited South Sudan a few years ago. Despite holding a PhD in “Philosophy and Strategic Planning” from the University of Bradford, he is something of a rough diamond. I would not have risked kissing his feet myself. But that, of course, is only 
the more reason for Pope Francis 
to have done so: great sinners have great need.

The story of South Sudan shows how much divine help is required. 
At the time I met Dr Machar, his country had just emerged from many years of tyranny under the government of North Sudan – whose appalling ruler, Omar al-Bashir, was finally removed in a coup last week after 30 years of wrongdoing. South Sudan thus became a place enjoying new freedom.

That feeling came partly from the fact that it is mainly Christian: the Khartoum government which oppressed it had once harboured Osama bin Laden. It was run by extreme Islamists who persecuted Christians. So when the leaders of this new Christian country later turned on one another and began killing, this represented spiritual as well as political failure.

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Posted in --Justin Welby, --South Sudan, Archbishop of Canterbury, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Sudan, Violence

(America) What does Catholic Social Teaching say about the economy? It’s more complicated than you think.

The political common good is of interest to the church because it is an incomplete but real fulfillment of the eschatological unity to which we are all called. The comparison with the unity of Jesus and the Father calls attention not simply to outcomes but also to the character of relationships. “Gaudium et Spes” states that humans “cannot fully find themselves except through the sincere gift of themselves” (24). Finally, “Gaudium et Spes” challenges limited notions of the common good, expanding it beyond the local community or nation, making clear that we have rights and duties regarding the “whole human race.”

In its treatment of the role of the church in the contemporary world, “Gaudium et Spes” considers and distinguishes economic and political aspects of society, which it discusses in separate chapters. As the theologian David Cloutier notes, each has its own associated good. The treatment of economics focuses on the universal destination of goods, and the discussion of the political order centers on the common good. Here we find the oft-excerpted definition: “The common good embraces the sum of those conditions of social life whereby men and women, families and associations may more adequately and readily attain their own perfection” (74).

Lifted from its context, there is always the danger of reading “conditions” here as if they are purely external situations in which we pursue individual flourishing. But the context in the document makes clear that the common good is the collective work of the community. Individuals, families and groups “are aware that they cannot achieve a truly human life by their own unaided efforts. They see the need for a wider community, within which each one makes his or her specific contribution every day toward an ever-broader realization of the common good” (74). Awareness of this need drives the establishment of various forms of government or “political community” that exist “for the sake of the common good.” This expresses the ancient Catholic judgement that government is not a response to human sinfulness but an essential consequence of our social nature created by God.

Thus, Catholicism views the common good as a particular kind of good that concerns the whole of society. It corresponds with a particular form of agency: collective and political action. The common good is distinct from the economy but related to it as both address different aspects of social life.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Roman Catholic

(NYT Op-ed) Ross Douthat–Why Celibacy Matters: How the critique of Catholicism changes and yet remains the same

…the way the “healthy sexuality” supposedly available outside the church seems to change with every generation offers a reason to be skeptical that all Catholic ills would vanish if Rome only ceased making “unnatural” demands like celibacy and chastity.

The sexual ethic on offer in our own era should make Catholics particularly skeptical. That ethic regards celibacy as unrealistic while offering porn and sex robots to ease frustrations created by its failure to pair men and women off. It pities Catholic priests as repressed and miserable (some are; in general they are not) even as its own cultural order seeds a vast social experiment in growing old alone. It disdains large families while it fails to reproduce itself. It treats any acknowledgment of male-female differences as reactionary while constructing an architecture of sexual identities whose complexities would daunt a medieval schoolman.

In the name of this not-obviously-enlightened alternative, Catholicism is constantly asked to “reform” away practices that are there because they connect directly to the New Testament — in the case of celibacy, to Jesus’ own example and his hard words for anyone making an idol of family life.

This seems like a bad bargain, no matter how much hypocrisy there may be in Rome.

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Posted in Anthropology, Church History, Ethics / Moral Theology, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Theology: Scripture

(PBS Newshour) Pope sends ‘signal’ by defrocking ex-cardinal for sexual abuse

Rev. James Martin:

But you know my faith in God hasn’t changed. It’s it’s my sort of disappointment and anger. You know certain people in the church at abusers certainly some of whom I know people who covered this up. But I think it’s also important to say that this happens in all sorts of institutions you know families schools places like that. But in the church what we need to do is really address that and be sort of forthright about it and be as transparent as possible so frankly I am really in favor of the release of these lists that have been happening that’s pretty controversial because it’s it’s necessary for transparency it’s necessary for us to understand how these things happen and enable us to move ahead and reconcile.

Hari Sreenivasan:

Well what are you looking for this week? What helps the church survive this?

Rev. James Martin:

This desire to confront it without any sort of fear. You know that you know we have of the truth the truth sets us free. I mean that that really should be kind of what we’re focused on.

Hari Sreenivasan:

You think the Pope’s doing enough?

Rev. James Martin:

I think the pope could always do more. I think that this meeting in the end of this week is really helpful it’s the heads of all the bishops conferences. There are still countries where bishops have said well it doesn’t happen in our country it doesn’t happen and are part of the world. And I think one of the reasons for this meeting is to teach in a sense those bishops the facts about sex abuse. So I think that’s a really good step forward.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Teens / Youth, Theology, Theology: Scripture, Violence

(CNA) Cardinal Gerhard Müller–Manifesto of Faith

“Let not your heart be troubled!” (John 14:1)

In the face of growing confusion about the doctrine of the Faith, many bishops, priests, religious and lay people of the Catholic Church have requested that I make a public testimony about the truth of revelation. It is the shepherds’ very own task to guide those entrusted to them on the path of salvation. This can only succeed if they know this way and follow it themselves. The words of the Apostle here apply: “For above all I have delivered unto you what I have received” (1 Cor. 15:3). Today, many Christians are no longer even aware of the basic teachings of the Faith, so there is a growing danger of missing the path to eternal life. However, it remains the very purpose of the Church to lead humanity to Jesus Christ, the light of the peoples (see LG 1). In this situation, the question of orientation arises. According to John Paul II, the Catechism of the Catholic Church is a “safe standard for the doctrine of the faith” (Fidei Depositum IV). It was written with the aim of strengthening the Faith of the brothers and sisters whose belief has been massively questioned by the “dictatorship of relativism.”

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Posted in Roman Catholic

(ACNS) Anglican leaders in Arabian Gulf welcome Pope Francis’ visit to United Arab Emirates

This week’s historic visit to the United Arab Emirates by Pope Francis resulted in “extraordinary scenes”, the Senior Anglican Chaplain in Abu Dhabi, Canon Andrew Thompson, has said. During his visit, Pope Francis celebrated Mass at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi. News reports cite a variety of numbers of those attending, varying from 130,000 to 180,000. Canon Thompson was one of those present. He told the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) that Anglicans and Roman Catholics have, for decades, “literally been neighbours” in the UAE “In every one of the emirates of the UAE, the Anglican churches lie literally in the shadow of the gigantic compounds which are the spiritual homes to thousands of Roman Catholics”, he said.

The UAE, which has designated 2019 as the “Year of Tolerance”, has the largest Catholic population amongst Arab nations. According to the Reuters news service, most UAE citizens are Sunni Muslims; but the large migrant population – foreigners are said to outnumber locals by around nine to one – means that the country is home to some two million Catholics – around half the total number of Catholics living in Gulf countries.

“Relationships are close between Catholic and Anglican ministers, not least because we all share the same status as guest migrants in a nation which proudly defines her status as Islamic”, Canon Thompson said. “This sounds as if we are bound together through the challenges of facing a hostile bureaucracy. The truth is actually the opposite.

“We both enjoy complete freedom of worship and the grace and favour of the ruling families. While there are certainly bureaucratic frustrations, a constant flow of pastoral needs, and legal conundrums, these issues are not unique to the UAE.

“We celebrate our friendship together by mutually hosting ecumenical gatherings, and are constantly cheered by the genuine welcome of the Emirati authorities.”

Read it all.

Posted in Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, UAE (United Arab Emirates)

(Vatican Radio) Pope and the Grand Imam: Historic declaration of peace, freedom, women’s rights

The “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” signed on Monday afternoon in Abu Dhabi by Pope Francis and the Grand Imama of Al-Azhar, Ahmad el-Tayeb, is not only a milestone in relations between Christianity and Islam but also represents a message with a strong impact on the international scene. In the preface, after affirming that “Faith leads a believer to see in the other a brother or sister to be supported and loved”, this text is spoken of as a text “that has been given honest and serious thought”, which invites “all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together”.

The document opens with a series of invocations: the Pope and the Grand Imam speak “in the name of God who has created all human beings equal in rights, duties and dignity”, “in the name of innocent human life that God has forbidden to kill”, “in the name of the poor”, “orphans, widows, refugees, exiles… and all victims of wars” and “persecution”. Al-Azhar, together with the Catholic Church, “declare the adoption of a culture of dialogue as the path; mutual cooperation as the code of conduct; reciprocal understanding as the method and standard”.

In the document, “we… call upon ourselves, upon the leaders of the world as well as the architects of international policy and world economy, to work strenuously to spread the culture of tolerance and of living together in peace; to intervene at the earliest opportunity to stop the shedding of innocent blood and bring an end to wars, conflicts, environmental decay and the moral and cultural decline that the world is presently experiencing”.

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Posted in Inter-Faith Relations, Islam, Muslim-Christian relations, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, UAE (United Arab Emirates)

(WSJ) Eugene Rivers–Another Religious Test in the Senate?

People often assumed that prejudice against Catholic politicians ended with the election of John F. Kennedy. Yet anti-Catholic bigotry is still with us. On Dec. 5 U.S. senators sent written questions to Brian Buescher, an Omaha, Neb., lawyer recently nominated by President Trump to sit on the U.S. District Court in Nebraska. Amid queries about judicial philosophy, two Democratic senators demanded answers about Mr. Buescher’s membership in the Knights of Columbus, a 140-year-old Catholic service organization.

Hawaii’s Mazie Hirono and California’s Kamala Harris didn’t ask about the group’s charitable work, which includes $1 billion of assistance and hundreds of millions of hours of service in the past decade. Rather, they wanted answers about what they called its “extreme positions.”

The senators cited the group’s support in 2008 for California Proposition 8, which banned same-sex marriage. They also took issue with the group’s opposition to abortion.

Each senator insinuated that Mr. Buescher’s membership should disqualify him. When asked if he would quit the organization if confirmed, Mr. Buescher responded, “I have not drafted any policies or positions for the national organization. If confirmed, I will abide by the Code of Conduct of United States Judges and will not affiliate with any organization in violation of the Code.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Senate

He is With Me, He is With Us

Christian joy thus springs from this certainty: God is close, he is with me, he is with us, in joy and in sorrow, in sickness and in health, as a friend and faithful spouse. And this joy endures, even in trials, in suffering itself. It does not remain only on the surface; it dwells in the depths of the person who entrusts himself to God and trusts in him.

Some people ask: but is this joy still possible today? Men and women of every age and social condition, happy to dedicate their existence to others, give us the answer with their lives! Was not Bl. Mother Teresa of Calcutta an unforgettable witness of true Gospel joy in our time? She lived in touch daily with wretchedness, human degradation and death. Her soul knew the trials of the dark night of faith, yet she gave everyone God’s smile.

In one of her writings, we read: “We wait impatiently for paradise, where God is, but it is in our power to be in paradise even here on earth and from this moment. Being happy with God means loving like him, helping like him, giving like him, serving like him” (The Joy of Giving to Others, 1987, p. 143). Yes, joy enters the hearts of those who put themselves at the service of the lowly and poor. God abides in those who love like this and their souls rejoice. If, instead, people make an idol of happiness, they lose their way and it is truly hard for them to find the joy of which Jesus speaks.

Pope Benedict XVI.

Posted in Christmas, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic

Pope Francis’ ‘Urbi et Orbi’ Message for 2018

For this reason, my wish for a happy Christmas is a wish for fraternity.

Fraternity among individuals of every nation and culture.

Fraternity among people with different ideas, yet capable of respecting and listening to one another.

Fraternity among persons of different religions. Jesus came to reveal the face of God to all those who seek him.

The face of God has been revealed in a human face. It did not appear in an angel, but in one man, born in a specific time and place. By his incarnation, the Son of God tells us that salvation comes through love, acceptance, respect for this poor humanity of ours, which we all share in a great variety of races, languages, and cultures. Yet all of us are brothers and sisters in humanity!

Our differences, then, are not a detriment or a danger; they are a source of richness. As when an artist is about to make a mosaic: it is better to have tiles of many colours available, rather than just a few!

The experience of families teaches us this: as brothers and sisters, we are all different from each other. We do not always agree, but there is an unbreakable bond uniting us, and the love of our parents helps us to love one another. The same is true for the larger human family, but here, God is our “parent”, the foundation and strength of our fraternity.

May this Christmas help us to rediscover the bonds of fraternity linking us together as individuals and joining all peoples.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

(Terry Mattingly) Old Time Religion – Meeting the woman who could become St. Thea of Mississippi

During her final speaking tours, she joked about black Catholics kneeling at altars carved out of fine Italian marble. These black Catholics gazed at sacred images carved by European artists many centuries after the lives of numerous early church saints who lived and worshipped in the lands already being called “Africa.”

“I know that people are looking for sources of hope and courage and strength,” she told me, clasping a warm robe with hands thinned by cancer. “I know that it’s important to have special people to look up to. … But, see, I think all of us in the church are supposed to be that kind of person for each other.”

In her 1989 talks, she constantly returned to images of faith, family and the ties that bind through the generations. Bowman talked about workaholic parents who give their children toys – but little of their own time. She talked about broken homes and marriages. She praised parents that set a strict, but loving, example – showing children they “aren’t fools … who will tolerate insanity.”

“Remember the old days? … Remember those old family stories? You didn’t know they were telling you WHO you are and WHOSE you are,” she said, urgently. “Hard times test us. … This is family business, people. This is the church and we are the family and we have to take care of family business. … I am not talking about the way of the WORLD. I am talking about the way of the CHURCH.”

All the people said, “Amen.”

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Church History, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Women

(VN) Australian RC Bishops oppose efforts to remove religious freedoms

On Tuesday, Archbishop Peter Comensoli of Melbourne, the spokesperson for the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference on religious freedom, responded to an announcement by the Shadow Attorney General of the introduction of a bill by the Opposition. The bill seeks to repeal exemptions in place in the Sex Discrimination Act.

The exemption is not used by Catholic schools to discriminate against students or to expel students based on “sexual orientation or gender identity”, the Archbishop said. Rather, “these exemptions are important to us because schools want to maintain the capacity to teach a Christian understanding of sexual ethics and marriage according to our faith tradition. Our right to continue to teach Catholic beliefs is threatened by proposals to repeal existing faith-based exemptions for religious schools and institutions”.

Furthermore, having the exemption in place protects the Church against claims that its beliefs are discriminatory. “We need to have the assurance that we can pursue our religious mission without legal risk”, Archbishop Comensoli said….

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Posted in Australia / NZ, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(WSJ) Mene Ukueberuwa–The Vatican prevents American prelates from addressing clergy sexual abuse

Ahead of the conference, the bishops coalesced around two proposals to impose accountability. The first is a simple code of conduct extending to bishops the zero-tolerance policy for sex abuse enacted for priests in 2002. The second is an independent review board to investigate claims against bishops and refer credible cases directly to the Vatican. “Each bishop would have to agree to allow himself to be investigated by the committee,” San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone told me last week. He described the bishops’ shedding of immunity as “a covenantal sort of relationship” that would allow them to police each other better.

Yet the Vatican’s surprise announcement means the new covenant will have to wait. The Holy See barred the conference from voting on new sex-abuse protocols until after a summit in Rome this February. Naturally, the bishops were shocked when they received the news Monday morning. Instead of returning to their dioceses with a concrete agreement, they’ll bring nothing but assurances of future reforms. More than 15 years after the sex-abuse crisis first surfaced in the U.S., such promises do little to quell public anger or ease prosecutorial pressure.

The delay shows that the Vatican simply doesn’t place the same value on speed and openness with the public that the U.S. episcopate does. American bishops are closer to the schools and parishes where abuse actually takes place. When one leader fails to respond appropriately to abuse, they all take on the stench of corruption. And unlike the pope, local bishops generally are seen as dispensable by their followers—shepherds to be discarded if they fail to protect the flock.

Despite the imprudent delay, U.S. bishops can continue cleaning their own pastures ahead of the Rome summit.

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Posted in Children, Ecclesiology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology, Violence

(NYT) Archbishop Óscar Romero and Pope Paul VI Are Made Saints by the Roman Catholic Church

Thirty-eight years after being gunned down in a hospital church in El Salvador, Archbishop Óscar Romero was named a saint on Sunday to cheers in St. Peter’s Square, while thousands watched the ceremony on video monitors in the Salvadoran capital.

Pope Francis also canonized Pope Paul VI, who is credited with continuing the work begun by Pope John XXIII and bringing the church into the modern era with reforms wrought from the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

In his homily, Francis said Archbishop Romero “left the security of the world, even his own safety, in order to give his life according to the Gospel, close to the poor and to his people.” Of the pope, he said, “Even in the midst of tiredness and misunderstanding, Paul VI bore witness in a passionate way to the beauty and the joy of following Christ totally.”

In all, Francis canonized seven people at the ceremony, which was attended by 70,000 people in St. Peter’s Square, according to the Vatican.

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Posted in --El Salvador, Central America, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

In 2009 an Anglican church was expelled from their building in Central NY under TEC Bishop Skip Adams and it became an Islamic Center for 1/3 the price the parish was willing to pay

Former Bishop of South Carolina, C. Fitzsimons Allison, has written about this matter here and described it as follows:

…nothing in the behavior of TEC suggests their goals with departing parishes and Dioceses have changed over time. They continue to litigate in the Diocese of Quincy, Illinois despite having lost at the highest level in the state courts there. In the Diocese of San Joaquin, California, after spending $15 million to recover the parish properties, only 21 have been declared “viable” with the other 25 reported as going up for sale. In Bishop Adams’ former diocese, the people of Good Shepherd, Binghamton, NY were denied the purchase of their former church, seeing it sold for 1/3 their offer to become a mosque instead. The pattern of behavior is clear. For TEC, “reconciliation” has meant, “surrender, return the property and we’ll forgive you so you can rejoin us”. That is not a viable way forward.

Posted in Ecumenical Relations, Islam, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Stewardship, TEC Bishops

(NYT) Can the Roman Catholic Church ‘Evolve’ on L.G.B.T. Rights?

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I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Roman Catholic, Sexuality, Theology: Scripture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John XXIII

Lord of all truth and peace, who didst raise up thy bishop John to be servant of the servants of God and bestowed on him wisdom to call for the work of renewing your Church: Grant that, following his example, we may reach out to other Christians to clasp them with the love of your Son, and labor throughout the nations of the world to kindle a desire for justice and peace; through Jesus Christ, who is alive and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

From 2015: (Crisis) James Matthew Wilson–The Joyful Death of Catholic Ireland

The reason the Irish—as Irish—are celebrating is that they have with this referendum delivered a decisive and final blow to their venerable image as a Catholic nation. They have taken their vengeance on the Church. They must relish the unshackling; they must love the taste of blood. But, finally, they take joy in becoming what, it seems, they were always meant to become. An unexceptional country floating somewhere in the waters off a continent that has long since entered into cultural decline, demographic winter, and the petty and perpetual discontents that come free of charge to every people that lives for nothing much in particular.

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, History, Law & Legal Issues, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Theology

(NYT) House Chaplain Was Asked to Resign. He Still Doesn’t Know Why

The chaplain of the House said on Thursday that he was blindsided when Speaker Paul D. Ryan asked him to resign two weeks ago, a request that he complied with but was never given a reason for.

The sudden resignation of the chaplain, the Rev. Patrick J. Conroy, shocked members of both parties. He had served in the role since he was nominated in 2011 by Speaker John A. Boehner, a fellow Catholic. In an interview, Father Conroy was categorical: His departure was not voluntary.

“I was asked to resign, that is clear,” Father Conroy said. As for why, he added, “that is unclear.”

“I certainly wasn’t given anything in writing,” he said. “Catholic members on both sides are furious.”

Father Conroy said he received the news from Mr. Ryan’s chief of staff. “The speaker would like your resignation,” Father Conroy recalled being told. He complied.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Crux) John Allen–Unpacking a non-interview Pope Francis ‘interview,’ this time on Hell

From a news point of view, the most explosive portion of the alleged interview came when Scalfari described Francis saying that Hell doesn’t exist, and that sinning souls which refuse to repent simply disappear. The headline-form takeaway was along the lines of, “Pope says no such thing as Hell.”

Three things suggest themselves about the situation, which can only be described as border-line surreal.

First, there’s basically zero plausibility that Francis actually said what Scalfari cites him as saying on Hell, at least as quoted, since Francis has a clear public record on the subject – he actually talks about Hell more frequently that any pope in recent memory, and he has never left any doubt that he regards it as a real possibility for one’s eternal destiny.

Read it all.

Posted in Eschatology, Pope Francis, Roman Catholic

(Economist Erasmus Blog) As French Catholics hail a martyr, the faith is fading in Europe

Even in Europe, the world’s least religious continent, a dramatic turn of events can turn a little-known public servant into a posthumous hero hailed as a kind of modern martyr.

Arnaud Beltrame, a police colonel, died of his injuries over the weekend after voluntarily taking the place of one of the hostages seized by a fanatical Islamist in a small French town. As it happens he was a devout Catholic who devoted much spare time to pilgrimages and helping with religious instruction. He won praise of two different kinds. Speaking for the French republic, President Emmanuel Macron described him as a man who had “fallen as a hero” and deserved “the respect and admiration of the entire nation.” In the Catholic circles to which Beltrame belonged, another vocabulary was used. He was praised as a man whose self-sacrifice reflected the faith that he had eagerly professed since a conversion experience a decade ago. Comparisons were made with Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish friar who in 1941 stood in for a fellow prisoner, a man with children, whom the Nazis were preparing to execute.

A French priest who had been preparing to solemnise the policeman’s marriage (he was already married civilly) instead found himself sitting at his friend’s bedside, conducting the last rites. With understandable emotion, the cleric described Beltrame as a man who “had a passion for France, her greatness, her history and her Christian roots which he rediscovered with his conversion.”

But whatever the truth of that statement about cultural roots, how much longer will such language be comprehensible, let alone appealing, to people growing up on the continent?

Read it all.

Posted in Europe, France, History, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(NYT) The world is changing. This South Carolina Trappist abbey isn’t. Can it last?

 “A year and a half ago, I could do anything — run the chain saw, cut up trees, use a backhoe.”

Brother Joseph Swedo was bent forward in his chair, his rugged hands folded delicately in his lap. As a monk at Mepkin Abbey, a Trappist monastery in South Carolina, he maintains that Roman Catholic order’s code of prayer, work, seclusion, poverty and chastity. And for the last 73 years — since he joined the order at age 17, answering a call from God, he said — physical labor has been an integral part of his daily routine.

Lately, though, Brother Joseph’s health has taken a turn for the worse, narrowing the scope of his monastic life. He is no longer strong enough, he said, to regularly attend the first or last of Mepkin’s seven daily prayer services — vigils at 3:20 a.m., and compline at 7:35 p.m. Nor can he fully participate during the roughly five hours set aside each day for agricultural work and the upkeep of the monastery’s grounds.

“Right now, it’s a bleak situation,” he said. “We’re all getting old.”

Mepkin Abbey — part of a global network of Trappist monasteries that for nearly 1,000 years have provided their communities with reliable sources of prayer, learning and hospitality — is edging toward a potential crisis.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Roman Catholic, Spirituality/Prayer

(WSJ) DeSanctis Alexandra–Notre Dame Becomes a Bit Less Catholic

The University of Notre Dame caved in. It will partly obey the Obama Care mandate requiring employer health-care plans to cover the cost of contraceptives and abortifacient drugs. Rejecting the Trump administration’s religious exemption, Notre Dame announced last month that it will provide “simple contraceptives” to students and employees through its insurance program.

Notre Dame’s president, the Rev. John Jenkins, deserves praise for discontinuing coverage of abortifacients. Yet he justified the birth-control decision by saying, in part, that Catholic tradition requires respect for “the conscientious decisions of members of our community.” Of course, Notre Dame community members can exercise their consciences without receiving university-provided contraception. And there is also the serious possibility that Notre Dame abused the legal process when it sued the Obama administration for relief. If the university had standing on religious-freedom grounds, how can it now explain its decision to facilitate coverage of birth control?

While these issues are concerning, as a graduate of Our Lady’s university, I take the recent news personally. I chose to attend Notre Dame because its essential Catholicism makes​it different from other outstanding American universities. Serious young Catholics may no longer look at Notre Dame the way I did, and with good reason.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Education, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(Guardian) Vatican hosts first hackathon to tackle global issues

The Vatican is to host its first hackathon this week, harnessing the technological skills and creativity of students from more than 50 universities around the world to tackle issues identified as priorities by Pope Francis.

About 120 students and 35 mentors will gather in Rome over three days to focus on social inclusion, migrants and refugees, and interfaith dialogue.

“The aim is to bring people with backgrounds in technology, business, civil society and the humanities together to bring new perspectives to key global issues,” said Father Eric Salobir, a Catholic priest and president of the research and innovation network Optic.

The VHacks event is being organised in partnership with some of the world’s biggest tech companies, including Google and Microsoft.

Read it all.

Posted in Globalization, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology

(Vatican news) Placuit Deo: the Gospel solution to two current problems

Placuit Deo is a “beautiful expression of the Gospel,” regarding two “current problems,” says Dr Michael Sirilla, Director of Graduate Theology and Professor of Dogmatic Theology at the Franciscan University of Steubenville….

Dr Sirilla explains that Placuit Deo provides a response and meaning to two problems that Pope Francis has brought up several times in his pontificate, especially in Evangelii Gaudium and Lumen Fidei. He explains that the document correctly clarifies that these two problems, Neo-Pelagianism and Neo-Gnosticism, are not identical to their classical counterparts, but that there are “points of contact.” Dr Sirilla says that the document also interprets and communicates well Pope Francis’ teaching in this area.

Dr Sirilla defines neo-pelagianism as the “end result of the modern project. We can save ourselves” perhaps imitating Christ but not through his power at work in us. “We ourselves attain salvation by our own efforts.” Neo-Gnosticism is the “view that the flesh and the created order are meaningless and purposeless.” Salvation is interior and subjective. “We need to be liberated from the flesh and the created order and from its absurdity.”

The response to these problems, provided in Placuit Deo is that “we cannot save ourselves and the created order does have meaning.” The Letter addresses Neo-Pelagianism by affirming what the Declaration Dominus Iesus already declared, that “salvation for all humans is found only in Jesus Christ.” How Jesus saves us is a response to Neo-Gnosticism—he does so “precisely in His flesh which He sacrificed on the cross.” We receive this salvation sacramentally through the Church that Christ established. We receive divine life “by means of the visible, tangible Jesus Christ in His mystical body, the Church. And the sacraments…communicate grace visibly to us.”

Read it all.

Posted in Roman Catholic, Theology

Roman Catholicism’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith releases Placuit Deo, a Letter To the Bishops On Certain Aspects of Christian Salvation

1. “In His goodness and wisdom God chose to reveal Himself and to make known to us the hidden purpose of His will (cf. Eph 1:9) by which through Christ, the Word made flesh, man might in the Holy Spirit have access to the Father and come to share in the divine nature (cf. Eph 2:18; 2 Pt 1:4). The deepest truth about God and the salvation of man shines out for our sake in Christ, who is both the mediator and the fullness of all revelation”.[1] The teaching on salvation in Christ must always be deepened. Holding fast to the gaze of the Lord Jesus, the Church turns toward all persons with a maternal love, to announce to them the plan of the Covenant of the Father, mediated by the Holy Spirit, “to sum up all things in Christ, the one head” (Eph 1:10). The present Letter is intended, in light of the greater tradition of the faith and with particular reference to the teachings of Pope Francis, to demonstrate certain aspects of Christian salvation that can be difficult to understand today because of recent cultural changes.

II. The effect of current cultural changes on the meaning of Christian salvation

2. The contemporary world perceives not without difficulty the confession of the Christian faith, which proclaims Jesus as the only Savior of the whole human person and of all humanity (cf. Acts 4:12; Rom 3:23-24; 1 Tm 2:4-5; Tit 2:11-15).[2] On one hand, individualism centered on the autonomous subject tends to see the human person as a being whose sole fulfilment depends only on his or her own strength.[3] In this vision, the figure of Christ appears as a model that inspires generous actions with his words and his gestures, rather than as He who transforms the human condition by incorporating us into a new existence, reconciling us with the Father and dwelling among us in the Spirit (cf. 2 Cor 5:19; Eph 2:18). On the other hand, a merely interior vision of salvation is becoming common, a vision which, marked by a strong personal conviction or feeling of being united to God, does not take into account the need to accept, heal and renew our relationships with others and with the created world. In this perspective, it becomes difficult to understand the meaning of the Incarnation of the Word, by which He was made a member of the human family, assuming our flesh and our history, for us and for our salvation.

3. Pope Francis, in his ordinary magisterium, often has made reference to the two tendencies described above, that resemble certain aspects of two ancient heresies, Pelagianism and Gnosticism.[4] A new form of Pelagianism is spreading in our days, one in which the individual, understood to be radically autonomous, presumes to save oneself, without recognizing that, at the deepest level of being, he or she derives from God and from others. According to this way of thinking, salvation depends on the strength of the individual or on purely human structures, which are incapable of welcoming the newness of the Spirit of God.[5] On the other hand, a new form of Gnosticism puts forward a model of salvation that is merely interior, closed off in its own subjectivism.[6] In this model, salvation consists of improving oneself, of being “intellectually capable of rising above the flesh of Jesus towards the mysteries of the unknown divinity.”[7] It presumes to liberate the human person from the body and from the material universe, in which traces of the provident hand of the Creator are no longer found, but only a reality deprived of meaning, foreign to the fundamental identity of the person, and easily manipulated by the interests of man.[8] Clearly, the comparison with the Pelagian and Gnostic heresies intends only to recall general common features, without entering into judgments on the exact nature of the ancient errors. There is a great difference between modern, secularized society and the social context of early Christianity, in which these two heresies were born.[9] However, insofar as Gnosticism and Pelagianism represent perennial dangers for misunderstanding Biblical faith, it is possible to find similarities between the ancient heresies and the modern tendencies just described.

Read it all (emphasis [except for he heading] is mine).

Posted in Anthropology, Christology, Roman Catholic, Soteriology, Theology

(WSJ) Roman Catholic Church Considers Married Priests to Ease Amazon Clergy Shortage

In the remote Brazilian town of Tabatinga, João Souza da Silva helped construct the Roman Catholic church where he got married 31 years ago, a wedding that officially ended his boyhood dream of becoming a priest.

He may get a second chance, as Catholic leaders in the vast Amazon basin consider whether the church should let married men become priests in certain cases. The issue is likely to be discussed at a gathering of bishops Pope Francis has called for next year about the church in the Amazon.

The Vatican is contending with a shortage of clergy to serve isolated communities in the region, as well as a growing challenge from evangelical Protestantism, which allows married ministers. Pope Francis has said the “door is always open” to married priests, though recent predecessors have rejected the idea.

Mr. da Silva, a 53-year-old teacher and father of three, said the change would make it easier to serve people in communities around the Amazon, some of which priests only visit two or three times a year.

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Posted in Brazil, Marriage & Family, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Roman Catholic, South America

Benedict XVI’s 2013 Ash Wednesday Homily

Today, Ash Wednesday, we begin a new Lenten journey, a journey that extends over forty days and leads us towards the joy of Easter, to victory of Life over death. Following the ancient Roman tradition of Lenten stations, we are gathered for the celebration of the Holy Eucharist. The tradition says that the first statio took place in the Basilica of Saint Sabina on the Aventine Hill. Circumstances suggested we gather in St. Peter’s Basilica. Tonight there are many of us gathered around the tomb of the Apostle Peter, to also ask him to pray for the path of the Church going forward at this particular moment in time, to renew our faith in the Supreme Pastor, Christ the Lord. For me it is also a good opportunity to thank everyone, especially the faithful of the Diocese of Rome, as I prepare to conclude the Petrine ministry, and I ask you for a special remembrance in your prayer.

The readings that have just been proclaimed offer us ideas which, by the grace of God, we are called to transform into a concrete attitude and behaviour during Lent. First of all the Church proposes the powerful appeal which the prophet Joel addresses to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning” (2.12). Please note the phrase “with all your heart,” which means from the very core of our thoughts and feelings, from the roots of our decisions, choices and actions, with a gesture of total and radical freedom. But is this return to God possible? Yes, because there is a force that does not reside in our hearts, but that emanates from the heart of God and the power of His mercy. The prophet says: “return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love, and relenting in punishment” (v. 13). It is possible to return to the Lord, it is a ‘grace’, because it is the work of God and the fruit of faith that we entrust to His mercy. But this return to God becomes a reality in our lives only when the grace of God penetrates and moves our innermost core, gifting us the power that “rends the heart”.

Read it all.

Posted in Lent, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pope Benedict XVI, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic, Theology

(CEN) Irish Church leaders unite in support of families

Irish Church leaders issued a rare joint New Year’s message in support of the family, as Pope Francis prepares to take part in the Roman Catholic Church’s World Meeting of Families in the summer.

The Pope is taking part in the three-yearly meeting as part of his state visit to Ireland, and it prompted calls from Church leaders for new efforts to protect vulnerable families from hardship.

The joint message was signed by the Anglican Primate of Ireland, Archbishop Richard Clarke. He was joined by the Roman Catholic Primate of Ireland and Presbyterian, Methodist and Irish Council of Churches leaders.

They expressed their concern at the rising level of homelessness in Ireland, which they describe as “one of the most tragic and glaring symptoms of a broken system that is leaving too many people without adequate support.”

They said that in the Republic of Ireland one in three of those living in emergency accommodation is a child. And in Northern Ireland, families with more than two children are among those most at risk from the combination of welfare changes, cuts to services, and cuts to charities providing vital support to children and young people.

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Posted in --Ireland, Anthropology, Church of Ireland, Ecumenical Relations, Ethics / Moral Theology, Marriage & Family, Methodist, Other Churches, Other Denominations, Pope Francis, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

Pope Francis’s 2018 Homily for the Solemnity of Epiphany: ‘We may ask ourselves what star we have chosen to follow in our lives’

Seeing the star. This is where it starts. But why, we might ask, did the Magi alone see the star? Perhaps because few people raised their eyes to heaven. We often make do with looking at the ground: it’s enough to have our health, a little money and a bit of entertainment. I wonder if we still know how to look up at the sky. Do we know how to dream, to long for God, to expect the newness he brings, or do we let ourselves be swept along by life, like dry branches before the wind? The Magi were not content with just getting by, with keeping afloat. They understood that to truly live, we need a lofty goal and we need to keep looking up.

Yet we can also ask why, among all those who looked up at the heavens, so many others did not follow that star, “his star” (Mt2:2). Perhaps because the star was not eye-catching, did not shine any brighter than other stars. It was a star – so the Gospel tells us – that the Magi saw “at its rising” (vv. 2, 9). Jesus’ star does not dazzle or overwhelm, but gently invites. We may ask ourselves what star we have chosen to follow in our lives. Some stars may be bright, but they do not point the way. So it is with success, money, career, honours and pleasures when these become our life. They are meteors: they blaze momentarily, but then quickly burn out and their brilliance fades. They are shooting stars that mislead rather than lead. The Lord’s star, however, may not always overwhelm by its brightness, but it is always there, ever kindly: it takes you by the hand in life and accompanies you. It does not promise material reward, but ensures peace and grants, as it did to the Magi, “exceedingly great joy” (Mt 2:10). But it also tells us to set out.

Setting out, the second thing the Magi do, is essential if we are to find Jesus. His star demands a decision to take up the journey and to advance tirelessly on our way. It demands that we free ourselves from useless burdens and unnecessary extras that only prove a hindrance, and accept unforeseen obstacles along the map of life. Jesus allows himself to be found by those who seek him, but to find him we need to get up and go, not sit around but take risks, not stand still, but set out.

Read it all.

Posted in Epiphany, Pope Francis, Preaching / Homiletics, Roman Catholic