Thursday, 30 June 2011

300 Austrian Parish Priests Call For Reform and Disobedience to Institutional Church

A Post on Bridget Mary's Blog gives encouraging news from Austria.  Because of the church's closed mind to reform andfailure to face up to the crises it is going through, 300 Austrian parish priests have drawn up a 7 point plan of 'disobedience.'  The seven points are: (John Wijngaards has translated and summarised from the German text):

· In every Church service they will say a public prayer for Church reform.

· They will not refuse communion to well-meaning Christians. These may include divorced and remarried, members of other Churches, at times people who have left the Church.

· They will avoid saying multiple masses in many centres. They will prefer services conducted by people themselves to artificial supply services.

· From now on they will call a service of the word with distribution of holy communion a 'eucharistic celebration without a priest'. This will fulfil the Sunday duty.

· They will ignore the preaching prohibition imposed on competent lay people.
· They will see to it that each parish has a lay chairperson: a man or woman, married or not. This to counter the joining up of parishes and of projecting a new priestly image.
· They will use every opportunity to publicly promote the admission of women and married men and women to the priestly ministry -- seeing in both men and women welcome colleagues in our pastoral ministry.

‘Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.’ Arundhati Roy

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The Patriarch of Lisbon: "There are no theological reasons for excluding women from the priesthood"

From "Vatican Insider"

As stated in an interview by Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo, the issue is mainly a "strong tradition that comes from Jesus"

Andrea tornielli

There will be women a priest «when God wills», for the moment it is better «not to raise the issue». But there is «no fundamental obstacle», from «a theological perspective», for women to say mass on the altar. It is, instead, a «tradition» that dates back from the time of Jesus. This was said by Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo, seventy-five year old Patriarch of Lisbon, who has just been confirmed for another two years at the head of the diocese of the Portuguese capital.  continue reading here . . . .

I wonder how Benedict will deal with him ? Retire him like Bishop Morris in OZ, excomunicate hime Like Fr Roy Bourgeois in the US ? Perhaps there's a bigger treat in store for Cardinals . . . .

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

What's happening in Portlaoise ? ? ?

Just browsing through a recent blog post I noticed a link was broken on my entry about the meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Portlaoise, June 2nd 2011.  Interested to find out why I visited the website of the ACP and found the post has been 'modified.' I wonder why . . . . . I specifically noticed the contribution from Angela Hanley was sadly missing.   Here's the original post and here's the link to the new post reproduced below.

Press Release from ACP after Portlaoise Meeting

The Association of Catholic Priests met to discuss the New Missal On Thursday, June 2nd in Portlaoise. The purpose of the meeting was to seek further direction from our members, wh0 in January had requested us to meet with the bishops with a view to having the implementation of the New Missal postponed for five years.

We reported that while the meeting with the bishops had taken place, we were disappointed with the level of their engagement with us.

There was unanimity about the inadequacy of the texts, and about the way they have been developed and imposed.

A recommendation was unanimously accepted that priests and people avoid using the sexist language that pervades the New Missal

The ACP is requesting time and space for priests who have conscientious or pastoral objections to the use of some of the new texts.

The ACP is baffled that while generous provision has been made for the Latin Mass, no provision is being made to accommodate the far greater number of people who will have difficulty for different reasons with the New Missal. Such derogations by a bishop’s conference are possible under the General Instruction on the Roman Missal, No.6: “Each conference of bishops may establish additional norms for its territory to suit the traditions and character of the people, the regions and the various communities”.

It is noteworthy that the meeting was also attended by representatives of various lay groups and religious.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Church : The need for a new beginning

Solidarity with Memorandum 2011

More than 300 professors of Roman-Catholic theology have written the Memorandum "Church 2011: The Need for a New Beginning" because of the worldwide crisis of the Roman Catholic Church.

This memorandum is addressed to all "who have not yet given up hope for a new beginning within the Church and are committing themselves to this." It is theologically justified, follows canon law (CIC Can 212) and speaks from the heart of the great majority of Catholics .

The memorandum calls for dialogue - a fundamental principle of the Second Vatican Council - which deserves right now, almost 50 years after the Council, any support to the "Gospel’s message of freedom" will reach the people in the future.

More than 66,000 people have already signed in solidarity with the memorandum.
Please support the memorandum with your signature!

Make others aware of this important action of solidarity!
Many thanks!
Pedro Freitas & Christian Weisner International Movement We are Church

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tongues of Fire Burning the Building Down

I have always felt an empathy with Jayden Cameron through his blog, "Gay Mystic."  He offers a superb reflection on some of the talks being disseminated from the American Catholic Council.  His latest post, "Tongues of Fire Burning the Building Down," deserves a wider read in the UK.  I'm reminded that Karl Rahner said, "the Christian of the future will be a mystic or will not exist at all." (Concern for the Church pg149).  Meanwhile, drink in Jayden's perceptive comment.

(Mother of the New Pentecost:: taken from the wonderful site St. Andrei Rublov Icons)

I've been reflecting today on the wonderful interview given by Matthew Fox, regarding the publication of his new book, The Pope's War. Fox is also one of the keynote speakers at the ongoing American Catholic Conference in Detroit. Thanks to Colleen Kochivar-Baker of Enlightened Catholicism for alerting us to this interview and for her insightful comments, and thanks to Betty Clermont's posting at Open Tabernacle, with her provocative question about possible reform, which prompted these reflections: I am waiting for anyone to suggest a path to reform of the Roman Catholic Church which would be more effective than Catholics staying away. )

I've chosen several passages from Matthew Fox's interview which particularly struck me as very prescient of the future of Christianity, and have followed them with my own reflections:

As a theologian I am trying to ponder how the recent events of Catholic history can be seen through the eyes of the Holy Spirit. Is there some good that come out of so much anguish, so much betrayal, so much disappointment with the false direction the church has taken under Pope John Paul II and Ratzinger? And I come to a clear conclusion that Yes, the Holy Spirit is still at work in the events of deconstruction and reconstruction that are at hand. It is time to restart the church. Let many of its forms go; let them die as they are doing.

(With the death of Pope John Paul I in September 1978 [most likely by assassination], I felt that we were being given a sign by the Holy Spirit that we were not meant to have a 'reformed Church' along the lines proposed by Vatican II, as so many of us of the Vatican II generation were longing for. In a way my hope for meaningful 'reform' of the Church died along with the saintly, gentle, collegial and open-hearted Albino Luciani, who reined for only a short 33 days, and who died in such mysterious circumstances which have never been adequately explained to this day. If one ventures down into the crypt beneath St. Peters, which contains the remains of past Popes, John Paul I's coffin has been placed on the side of the central aisle, the least significant location for any pontiff. Pilgrims rush past it, oblivious to this genuinely saintly martyr to reform of the Church, in their haste to get to the far more dramatic and spacious alcove which contains the remains of his successor, John Paul II, with the 'eternal flame' burning to the side and the permanent guard standing by. I always bring a bouquet when I visit Papa Luciani's tomb, but I have never seen any other evidence of tokens of devotion and affection for this most 'perfect' of collegial minded Pontiffs. If the Spirit had intended us to have a reformed Church, without any radical reconstruction, John Paul I would have remained alive to have fulfilled that destiny. His death must be read as a sign of the Spirit that a much more radical purging of the Church was intended and that we were being asked to 'let go' of the forms of the old Church, to surrender our longing for renewal itself, even to cut the umbilical cord to Mother Church herself (in her present institutional structure) and to find the courage in the Spirit to venture out into the unknown, living in trust that the Maternal Spirit of Wisdom would find a way to preserve the lineage of Catholic Christianity outside the present, moribund institutional structure. However, I could not have imagined a more terrible or more profound purging and deconstruction than that enacted, albeit obliviously, by Karol Wojtyla, John Paul II. Such is the irony of history that the genuine saint is ignored and (taking my cue from Matthew Fox) the 'schismatic' Polish Pope in his spacious alcove down the aisle is honored beyond belief. Using the "S" word will be seen as contentious, but I am in agreement with Matthew Fox here when he says:

The “S” word rarely gets used these days but I think that Schism properly summarizes what the past two papacies have been about. They deliberately turned their back on a valid Ecumenical Council and in doing so are in schism. This means that its appointed cardinals and bishops are in schism. They do not represent the lineage of the church. This opens up whole new possibilities of seeing the church anew. All the Yes men and sycophants that have lined up at the papal trough for a piece of the power these recent decades are seen for what they are in their transparent reality.

An ecclesiastical system in schism? Is that too strong a word and does it not make us similar to those ultra conservative Catholic sects (St.Pius X), who consider Vatican II itself to be in schism and every pope elected after Pius XII? A contentious issue and a very strong word, but sometimes honesty, courage and directness in language are necessary instruments to pierce the boil that is infecting the Church. However, rather than hurl invective, I prefer to follow Fox's inspiration and ask what the Holy Spirit is telling us through these powerful and painful 'signs of the times.' It is my own view that we cannot understand the present crisis in the Church without taking into account the overall shift in religious and spiritual outlook in the culture at large. Sincere spiritual searchers are no longer so dependent upon or so trustful of large religious institutions, but are finding alternative sources of nourishment in a variety of places and religious communities. The time for the great institutional structures has past, and what is to replace them remains a mystery and perhaps a cause of anxiety, as we fearfully contemplate fragmentation, splintering, chaos. But I feel such fears must be faced and overcome in the peaceful, interior conviction that the Spirit is leading us towards a radical reconstruction of the whole Catholic tradition and to forms of community which are at present beyond our imagining. Fox continues:

I have tried to sketch out some directions for new versions of Christianity that are needed today with of course the primary emphasis on lay leadership. We do not need another Council (after all the last one was totally stuffed); what we need is a rise and indeed a take over of the church by lay leaders. Jesus was not a clericalist. He never heard of the Vatican (or of cardinals) all of which developed centuries after his death. Time to start over. And with the courage and imagination and generosity that characterizes all authentic spirituality.

(These words themselves need to be deconstructed and their implications laid bare. A "take-over" of the church by lay leaders ultimately must mean a take over of the sacramental system, and a refusal to be intimidated by the monopoly of control the hierarchy presently maintains over the sacraments through the myth of 'apostolic succession.' (Readers of Terrence Weldon's blog, Queering the Church can find an abundance of documentation for exploring the justification for calling this doctrine a myth.) And here I am in complete agreement with another key note speaker at the Detroit conference, theologian Anthony Padovano, who is simply following the great Dutch theologian Edward Schillebeeckx by insisting that a 'validly ordained' minister is not an absolute requirement for a genuine celebration of the Eucharist. In the absence of 'ordained priests,' communities must find the courage within themselves, through the most profound and heartfelt prayer and discernment, to bless their own lay leaders and celebrate the sacraments independently of episcopal approval. This is a radical act that requires the utmost trust in the Spirit, because 'the real presence' is among the great treasures of the Catholic tradition. Such communities will find themselves under fire and will endure censure and 'excommunication,' but it is already happening in increasing numbers of breakaway communities. Until increasing numbers of communities are willing to take this painful step - in the absence of 'officially ordained' priests - no real revolution within the church is possible. Lay leaders must rise up and take back the church and that means listening to the interior movements of the Spirit, experiencing the peace and joy which are the signs of the Spirit, when and as they celebrate the Eucharist on their own. The Holy Spirit is already imbuing communities with the fire of Pentecost, the interior joy and consolation that bring with them the assurance of conscience that this step is the right one. We are already being blessed, we are already being assured, we are already being led into the new Church of the Holy Spirit. It simply requires more and more laypersons to listen to this interior call. This will not happen overnight. It is too radical, too frightening, it calls for too great a sacrifice, too painful a wrenching from the security of the Mother Womb, but in my opinion it is way the Spirit is leading increasing numbers of us. The official organizers of the American Catholic Conference in Detroit are 'following the rules,' but I would not be surprised to learn that informal Eucharists on the periphery of the conference are fulfilling Archbishop Allen Vigneron's worst fears. To take such a step, however, requires the most prayerful discernment and this brings me to Matthew Fox's final points.

I believe, the most important direction that religion needs to go in its reconstruction—that is spirituality, the experiential dimension of religion. The mystical-prophetic tradition I have been recovering including the Cosmic Christ, Hildegard, Aquinas, Eckhart, Julian and others, together with today’s post-modern science, offers new and deeper expressions of healthy religion. They are among the treasure to take from the burning building.

Let us remember what Thomas Aquinas taught about religion. That it is, he felt, primarily a virtue, that is a habit that persons carry within them. Indeed, for Aquinas religion’s essence is Gratitude. Gratitude for existence. This means that institutions are NOT what religion is primarily about. What goes on in the heart and mind and gives birth to outer form is what is at the essence of religion. This means that social constructs like basilicas, cathedrals, churches, vaticans, popes, cardinals, bishops, canon laws, etc. are on the periphery of real religion. And they render themselves religiously irrelevant when their thrust at certain times of history is very far from the love and compassion and service that Jesus preached. They have more to do with accumulation of power and prestige and institutional and personal ego.

(All the more reason, then, for alternative communities to branch out of their own, while maintaining their ties to the larger community through prayerful discernment, counseling, advice, and listening to the authentic voices of wisdom within the community, born of contemplation and prayer. Nothing could be more important than the spiritual witness in peace and joy of lay led communities, celebrating the presence of the Resurrected Lord. The time for waiting upon ecclesiastical leaders for change has past. The ecclesiastical system must be bypassed, and only when increasing numbers of lay led communities are forced by circumstance to take this painful step, and discover within themselves the Pentecostal peace and joy assuring them that the Spirit is with them, will the real revolution of the Holy Spirit within the Church have begun. For this to happen, we need increasing numbers of genuine prophets and mystics who are attuned in the depths of their being to the life giving movements of the Spirit.

At the bottom, the crisis in Roman Catholicism is a crisis in spirituality or the lack thereof. Real people want spirituality. The church as we know it today is the last place they go looking. We are talking about the future of religion, the future of spirituality and very likely the sustainability or unsustainability of our species on this planet. This is why the issues at hand are of deep importance to us all, whether within or outside of organized religion.

I would like to close these reflections with these moving words from another contemplative teacher of the Catholic mystical tradition:

DIARMUID O'MURCHU: There's certainly a part of me as a human being, a part entirely of being a Christian, that feels I don't want to abandon any sister or brother on the journey of life and the journey of faith. But this is a very real question for me and for people who are like me who facilitated for renewal programs and chapters of religious congregations, because this one comes up often. What do you do with the people who don't want to move, that want to keep things as they always were, and are so rigid and frightened and scared, and you can't get them to move without badly damaging them, which I don't feel I have any right to do or anybody else has a right to do. And so I think the delicate balance has to be something like this and for me Gerry Arbuckle is the person who has named this very, very clearly. Supposing you have this group...and let's put this into percentages...and you have 50% that are totally rigid and stuck, if you like, and you have 50% that are yearning to go. Insofar as there are people that are committed primarily to life and to the evolution of life, the primary energy should move with the 50% that want to move. And then we keep a secondary energy to try and help and maintain the others in a meaningful way. So this principal is that you go primarily where the life is! I think the tendency, particularly in churches, is that we try to keep everything at the lowest common denominator to please those who want to keep things the way they are. That, in my opinion, is not what Jesus would do. That is not Christian gospel. I think we need to go where the life is, primarily, without abandoning the others. And we need to try and bring them with us, in so far as we can, in love, in charity, and also in challenge! And ok, if they choose to remain totally stuck, or totally where they are - let me not be too judgmental about it - ok, that is their freedom, that is their right if you like, but I think in the overall sense of things, whether at the human level, at the religious or spiritual level, I think this commitment to life always has to be honored. And so go where the life is primarily, put your energies primarily there. And then also spare some to try and maintain, in kindness and dignity, those that pretty much want to remain. And a corollary of that, of course, which is much more difficult and this requires a lot of skills, we do not allow this subgroup to dictate. And I think that's where leadership has a huge responsibility. Leadership has to put it's commitment with the new primarily .

Monday, 13 June 2011

Baptism, not bishops or pope, unites the church

Jerry Filteau, reporting for the "National Catholic Reporter," wrote the following article about the theologian and author Anthony T. Padovanos' address to the American Catholic Council.
DETROIT -- "Baptism unites the church, not ordination," theologian and author Anthony T. Padovano told more than 1,800 reform-minded Catholics gathered June 10-12 at Detroit's Cobo Hall.

Addressing the inaugural national meeting of the American Catholic Council June 11, he said, "The pope does not unify or sanctify the church and make it catholic or apostolic. This is the work of the Spirit and the community. The pope is an institutional sign of a unity already achieved by the faithful. The pope does not create a community of believers or validate baptisms or make the Eucharist occur."

Padovano was first president of CORPUS, an organization originally formed to seek return of married priests to ministry but now advocating "inclusive ministry," meaning also the ordination of women.

Most of his talk focused on the fact of changes in the church's history, the need for such change, and how the sensus fidelium, the sense of the faithful as to the church's beliefs and practices, often preceded the recognition by church authorities that change was needed.

"This consensus of the faithful is never valid if it is forced," he said. "In a totalitarian system, force is a factor in creating compliance. In a believing community, agreement must be free."

"The church learns, early in its history, that the Spirit is best discerned in community, in councils, in synods. … Thus the acceptance of the Gentiles was not credible to the church in the year 35 and yet became doctrine in the year 50 at the Jerusalem Council," he said.

"In our era," he added, "we have seen that women priests were not a credible option for the community a century ago and seem an imperative now; ecumenism was unthinkable for Catholics at large in 1865 and became conciliar teaching in 1965; a lay-led Communion service was prohibited in 1935 and promoted in 1995."

"What made the difference?" he asked. "The community and its experience with Gentiles or women or Protestants or enlightened laity. The Spirit led the community to accept what church administrators once denounced."

"There are three magisterial or teaching structures in the church: episcopal (papal), theological, communitarian," Padovano said.

"Teaching is formally expressed by the episcopal magisterium," he added, but "this teaching is not authentic and cannot be considered infallible unless a genuine dialogue among bishops and theologians and the community at large is a substantial part of it."

He quoted Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman: "The body of the faithful … and their consensus is the voice of the infallible church."

"Following Newman's lead, a doctrine not received is not infallible. Infallibility in teaching depends on infallibility in believing and receiving, not the other way around," he said.

Applying that to the reception of the teachings of the Second Vatican Council, he commented, "The community has affirmed the major themes of that council: collegiality, liturgical and biblical renewal, ecumenism, religious freedom and conscience. The turbulence of the last 50 years is not caused by resistance to the council, but by their desire to implement the council and to do this even while church administrators resist their efforts."

Again quoting Newman, that truth "is the daughter of time," Padovano said, "The sensus fidelium may receive a doctrine in one era and reject it in another, not because the faithful are frivolous but because they sense the emergence of new circumstances, often before church administrators do."

"Thus, mandatory celibacy may make sense in one century but not another," and changes in time, culture or circumstance may similarly change what the faithful believe about questions of women priests, birth control or church-state separation, he said.

If church authorities were more in tune with the sense of the faithful over the past 50 years, Padovano argued, church teaching would now be different on birth control, married priesthood, ordination of women, same-sex relationships, ecumenical unity, the clergy sexual abuse crisis, and "on fiscal accountability and on hierarchical mismanagement."

He also devoted part of his address to the difference between civil law and church law, "which is closer to theology than to jurisprudence," noting that the church "officially allows lawlessness."

Among examples, he cited the refusal of the Eastern Catholic churches to accept mandatory celibacy and the fact that "bishops, even the bishop of Rome, did not comply" after the 1917 Code of Canon Law ordered every diocese to hold a synod every 10 years.

When Pope John XXIII in 1962 ordered that all seminary courses be taught in Latin, virtually all seminaries ignored it because many of their professors couldn't speak it and many students couldn't understand it, and "Rome allowed the contrary custom to prevail" over the papal order, he said.

"Fasting for a time before receiving Communion is ignored. … "When eating meat on Friday was prohibited, Catholic countries in Europe simply did not comply and the law was changed," he said.

The principle that "in the church, law is not valid unless it is accepted by the community" goes back 16 centuries to St. Augustine, he said.

He noted that the final canon in the Code of Canon Law, governing all the rest, says that "the salvation of souls … is always the supreme law of the church." That canon shows that the fundamental intent of all church law "is spirituality rather than compliance," he said.

Calling for greater hierarchical recognition that the faith of the church "is not entrusted to a few but to all God's people," Padovano said, "Once we lose sight of Luke's words that Pentecost was for 'all,' we create not a Pentecost church, but a church without Pentecost … [that] has a place for the hierarchy but not for God's people."

"Why would we want such a church?" he asked. "Clearly Christ did not. Nor do we."

The American Catholic Council, formed three years ago to advance reform in the church, convened the gathering in Detroit in an effort to develop a reform agenda and reverse what its leaders – and clearly virtually all its participants – see as a sustained program, under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI and many of the U.S. bishops appointed by them, to reverse many of the reforms of Vatican II.

[Jerry Filteau, NCR Washington correspondent, is covering the Detroit meeting.]

Monday, 6 June 2011

Dissent to the New Translation of the Missal - at last

At last voices are being raised as to the nonsense of the new translation.  Thanks to the Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland.  Read their write up from a "Meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Portlaoise, June 2nd 2011". or read below.

Meeting of the Association of Catholic Priests in Portlaoise, June 2nd 2011.

The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) met in Portlaoise on Thursday, June 2nd 2011, to listen to the reflection of its members and other lay people and religious on the new Missal. At a meeting in January the leadership had been asked to meet with the bishops with a view to having the implementation of the New Missal postponed for five years.

Portlaoise Meeting

The June 2nd 2011 meeting which was attended by more than 100 people began at 2.30pm. Fr. Tony Flannery introduced the facilitator Mr. Martin Kennedy. He called on Fr. Seán McDonagh to report on the meeting between a delegation from ACP and the Episcopal Commission for Worship.

Seán stated that a meeting with the Commission for Worship, Pastoral Renewal and Faith Development took place at Maynooth on February 28th 2011. A number of priests from the ACP shared their well researched concerns about the adequacy of the new translation from pastoral, liturgical, theological, linguistic and cultural perspective. Unfortunately, the response from Bishop John McAreavey, Fr. Paddy Jones and Bishop Seamus Freeman was every disappointing. Worse was to come. In a letter to the ACP the Commission did not address any of the substantive pastoral, theological, linguistic and cultural concerns raised at the February meeting. This took place at a time when the bishops issued their pastoral letter entitled Towards Healing and Renewal. In this document the bishops stated that “one of their greatest failures in the past was a failure to listen.”

Angela Hanley

Martin Kennedy asked the theologian Angela Hanley to share her reflections on the new Missal. She spoke for about 10 minutes. She called attention to a number of particularly historical moments in the life of the Catholic Church since the Second Vatican Council. The first was the way that the Encyclical Humanae Vitae was implemented and, especially, the treatment which was meted out to those who raised questions about it. The second was the refusal of the Catholic Church in Ireland and right around the world, to face up to the clerical abuse scandals in the 1970s and the 1980s. The third moment she highlighted was the Apostolic Letter of Pope John Paul II – Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in which he stated that women could not be ordained to the priesthood.

The fourth moment was the imposition of translation of the new Missal without adequate consultation.

She identified two elements which are common in all of these moments. First, an unwillingness on the part of Church leaders to believe that they can err, despite numerous examples in history. Second, a belief, that despite the teaching of Vatican II, all competence for administration within the Church is vested in one person – the Pope.

Angela said that we need a paradigm shift or Copernican revolution in our understanding of the Church. The Church does err and history has shown this to be true. This, however, does not conflict with our belief that the Holy Spirit remains with the Church to protect it and save it from error. The Spirit works in and through all of us, through our gifts, though our challenges, and through our discernment of failure – when we assess our mistakes and learn from them.

Angela went on to say that the current English translation of the missal is wrong. Having it forced on us compounds that wrong. The question remains – what are we going to do about it? She suggested that it would be easy for the ACP to say, “we have made our views known, we have challenged it on different grounds and there is nothing else we can do.”

“All that is left now,” she said,” if the five year moratorium is not accepted is to refuse to implement the translation. You cannot be forced to act against your conscience. Look at history – there is a record of peace-loving individuals using passive resistance to avoid collusion with oppressive regimes.” There will be costs. The same applies to people in the pews. We can also be passively resistant by choosing to be silent in Church and offer no response.

This is a pivotal moment in the Church – and no one who has been any way involved with the forced implementation of this missal will have the luxury to look back and say, of only we had known….

Fr. Brendan Hoban

Brendan Hoban then addressed some of the challenges which now face lay Catholics, priests and bishops, when the new missal is introduced.

1. How, as priests, do we deal with the anger of our people who realise that they have not been consulted about the language we use at the liturgy?
2. How do we deal with the prevalence of exclusive language? This is not merely a problem for women it also affects many men as well.
3. How do we deal with the confusion of our parishioners as they struggle with inserts which change the liturgy with which they have become familiar over the past 30 years.
4. How do we deal with the ridicule of those who have opted out of active participation in the Church and now feel confirmed in their wisdom?

Specific difficulties for priests:

1. If a priests feels that it is impossible for him to intelligently read a prayer with 60 or more words per sentence, what is he supposed to do?
2. If a priest feels that, for pastoral and linguistic reasons, he cannot use the new Missal, is he confronted with making a decision to use either the new Missal, the Tridentine rite or not saying Mass at all?

Difficulties for Bishops

1. Brendan asked what can be done to avoid the growing rift between bishops and priests which will be further exacerbated by the imposition of the new Missal?
2. What can be done to repair the growing division with Rome, who despite our service and particular competence in the practical area of liturgy, refused to consult us?

Practical Concerns

1. At present there is a derogation for people who wish to say the Tridentine Latin Mass even though there is minimal demand for this among priests or laity. Why cannot there be similar derogation for those who wish to use the present form?
2. Should we call on Irish Bishops to accept that some priests, who have serious difficulties with the new Missal, be given an opportunity not to use it?
3. If the changes are found to be unworkable and congregations are reduced to silence, do the Irish Bishops have a plan B for the celebration of the Eucharist in our parishes. Will they revisit the issue in the autumn of 2012 and use professional surveys to ascertain how the new Missal is being received by the people?
4. A reference was made earlier to the comments of Archbishop Bugnini, the architect of the Vatican II liturgical reforms. In his book The Reform of the Liturgy page xxvii) he wrote: “The work of experts needed to be ratified in the minds of ordinary folk if the change was to find acceptance in the soul of the people.”

A Lively Discussion

After these presentations, Martin Kennedy facilitated a lively discussion for more than one hour. Every one of the 25 + people who spoke criticised both the translation itself, the lack of consultation involved in the process and the authoritarian way in which these faulty texts are being imposed on the Irish Church. Words and phrases such as “dominance,” “control,” “incompetence,” “bullying,” “lack of courage” and “fascism” were used by many of the speakers. Even though there was anger and frustration in the room, everyone who spoke, either in critiquing the new Missal itself or the processes involved in it imposition, did so out of a concern for the wellbeing of the Catholic Church in Ireland Many of those who spoke said that the Bishops are more responsive to Roman bureaucrats than the concerns and pastoral expertise of their priests and people. The Bishops have authority when it comes to liturgical matters. This is clear in The General Instruction on The Roman Missal, which states that, each Conference of Bishops may establish additional norms for its territory to suit the traditions and character of the people, the region and the various communities” (No. 6). The German bishops showed courage in not accepting the new translation, why did the Irish Bishops not take a similar stand?

One of the most interesting comments at the meeting came from a priest from the West of Ireland. He spoke of a recent meeting in Knock where priests from the four dioceses of Tuam, Achonry, Clonfert and Killala met for a training day on the new Missal. The meeting began at 11.30 am. Bishop John McAreavey was expected to speak for 45 to 50 minutes on the new texts and then allow time for questions. Unfortunately, the bishop continued speaking until 12.50 pm, when the meeting broke up for lunch.

The meeting resumed at 2.30pm and the bishop was about to continue his talk and deal with some of the texts when a priest stood up and expressed the frustration of the priests at not having an opportunity to ask questions. He, and many others, expressed their annoyance at not being listened to during the preparation of the texts. The Knock meeting itself was another example of bishops not listening to reasonable questions and concerns. He was followed by more than 20 other priests. All but two criticised various aspects of the Missal and the fact that priests are not listened to by either the Irish Bishops or Roman authorities. One priest was amazed with Bishop McAreavey’s explanation that, “I believe” instead of “We believe” in the new translation of the Creed could be explained by saying that the “I “ was a “corporate I,” and therefore really meant “we.”

This intervention was very important because a number of supporters of the new Missal are claiming that priests are in favour of it because they are not challenging it at these clergy meetings. The fallacy here is that, in many of these meetings, they are not being allowed or encouraged to express their opinions.

All of the women who spoke criticised the pervasive use of sexist language as both insulting and incompetent. One stated categorically that she will never use it. Obviously, the translators have not heard that “man” is no longer a common noun in contemporary English.

Towards the end of the meeting a recommendation was unanimously adopted that priests and people avoid using the sexist language that pervades the New Missal.

It is noteworthy that the meeting was also attended by representatives of various lay groups and religious.

Gay priest McNeill shakes up Rome with new moves and new movie

Thanks to "Jesus in Love" Blog for this introduction to a new film by Fr John McNeill SJ.

Pioneering gay priest John McNeill is still shaking up the Vatican at age 85. He is going to Rome for the world premiere of a new documentary about his life on June 6 at EuroPride 2011 -- and to ask the Vatican for LGBT justice.

When in Rome, McNeill will not do as the Romans do, but instead will advocate change in the Roman Catholic church.

The new film, “Taking A Chance on God,” tells the life story of McNeill, author of the groundbreaking 1976 book “The Church and the Homosexual.” McNeill’s work inspired the founding of Dignity, the LGBT Catholic group, but he was silenced by the Church and expelled from the Jesuit order for coming out and promoting LBGT rights in church and society.

John McNeill, right,

with director Brendan Fey

Rome is the perfect city for the premiere because the order to silence McNeill for his LGBT activism was issued in Rome in 1977 by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger -- the current Pope. For refusing to obey this order of silence, McNeill was eventually expelled from the Jesuit order in April 1987.

During his Roman holiday, he will deliver a letter to Catholic leaders at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The letter will ask for dialogue, and urge Church leadership to speak out against the violence, injustice, and discrimination experienced by lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people around the world.

McNeill and his life-partner Charlie are traveling to Rome from their home in Florida for the premiere. McNeill will be welcomed as pioneer of the international LGBT religious movement by thousands of LGBT persons who will gather in Rome for EuroPride 2011. This is the first time ever that EuroPride will include a section on faith and homosexuality.

The documentary is directed by filmmaker and activist Brendan Fay. He co-produced “Saint of 9/11” about Father Mychal Judge, the gay chaplain who died in the World Trade Center tragedy on September 11, 2001.

“For a few days Rome will be a sea of rainbow flags as thousands of LGBT activists mingle with Catholic pilgrims in Rome for the observance of Pentecost,” Fay commented. “In the midst of Pride celebrations, our community needs John McNeil’s reassuring voice of hope. McNeill’s message that gay love can be holy love is as relevant today as when he first began to proclaim it in the early 1970s.”

I first met McNeill in 1987, soon after he ended his silence. He came to preach at Metropolitan Community Church of San Francisco, where I served on the clergy staff. I was impressed by his powerful-yet-gentle presence and the intellectual force behind his liberating theology.

McNeill went on to write more books on LGBT spirituality, including “Taking A Chance on God,” “Sex as God Intended,” “Freedom, Glorious Freedom” and “Both Feet Firmly Planted in Midair.”

“Taking A Chance on God” will be screened at EuroPride Park on Monday, June 6, and at other festivals this summer and fall. For more info on the film, visit For info on EuroPride events on Faith and Homosexuality, click here.

If you can’t make it to Rome, watch the trailer above or on YouTube for highlights of “Taking a Chance on God.”

Saturday, 4 June 2011

St Mary's Brisbane : Fr Peter Kennedy

Take time to watch the story of the community of St Mary's in exile, Brisbane in this Australian documentary.  The official TV information is as follows.

"When rebel Catholic priest Father Peter Kennedy is ordered to leave St Mary's Church in Brisbane accused of unorthodox practices, he and his flock begin an extraordinary journey in exile.

In April 2009 after 28 years as priest in charge at St Mary's South Brisbane, Father Peter Kennedy closed the doors of his church for the last time and, in an unprecedented move, led his congregation into exile. He was sacked as priest administrator of St Mary's by his Bishop for challenging traditional Catholic practices and rituals.

After ongoing defiance, he is suspended from exercising his ministry as a priest. With exclusive access, this film follows Peter Kennedy's journey over two years as he and his flock set up the "St Mary's-in-Exile Church Community" in a nearby Trades and Labour Council building, and grapple with new ways of being religious outside Catholic Church doctrine."

To view the documentary click here.