Sunday, 25 September 2011

Vatican II lost and betrayed - Iglesia Descalza

Giovanni Franzoni, a former Benedictine abbot, Catholic theologian, and eyewitness to Vatican II, offered these reflections at the 31st Congress of the Asociación de Teólogos y Teólogas Juan XXIII in Madrid earlier this month. They were reproduced in Spanish on Religión Digital.  and translated in English on his blog.

read the article here, the introduction is below.

Dear friends, dear fellow travellers, it's an honor and a joy for me to have been invited here to Spain to participate in your meeting. I thank you, not only for the invitation, but mainly because, despite the difficulties, and although times are not propitious, you continue to courageously hold high the flame of Vatican II, and you continue to hold tenaciously to the need for an evangelical reform of the Roman Catholic Church.

I apologize if my manner of speaking is more "itañol" (Italian-Spanish) than Spanish, but I hope you will understand me all the same. I wrote my speech in Italian and Maria Lorenza Ferrer, a friend from the Canary Islands who has lived in Rome for many years, translated it into Spanish. She patiently tried to teach me the pronunciation of your Spanish language, and for this I thank her as well. Naturally, after my speech I will be happy to answer your questions. I'll do it in Italian. I hope that one of you will do me the favor of translating.

Reaffirming the joy of being among you (I really feel at home!), I would like to explain first why I attended the Council, then go straight to our topic.  more . . .

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Association of Catholic Priests, Ireland

The Association of Catholic priests in Ireland published this article found on the Glasgow Celtic Quick news website. The Post is reproduced below as soon as I find a link I’ll include it here.

13 September, 2011 at 12:29

Re the impending legislation and Bishop Tartaglia’s comments.

As the train from Geneva stopped at Montreux on the way to Sion, right outside our carriage, two young guys kissed each other goodbye. The comments from some Celtic fans were such that I hoped the young guy getting on the train wouldn’t get into our carriage. I feared for him. Thankfully he didn’t.

I saw knuckle-draggers that day, and they werent Rangers fans.

Phil Tartaglia – You and the other Scottish Bishops stand utterly without a shred of credibility. You have allowed the Pope, Sodano, Bertone, Castrillon Hoyos and the Vatican Curia to remove any semblance of ‘collegiality’ from you without so much as a whimper.

You have sat back and watched these fascists rip apart Vatican II Council, be bought off by the insidious Opus Dei, ignore the culture of abuse of our children by priests and the disgusting attempts to cover up by these same people, you have watched them reward Marcel Maciel for years of abuse, you watched them give a Papal Knighthood to Rupert Murdoch while lecturing us on what newspapers we are allowed to read and clapped your hands as Escriva was made a saint and while they fast track Pius XII through the same process – dispensing with the use of the devils advocate for the first time in history regarding the last two. Worst of all, you lot dine with Cardinal Law when you are in Rome – a man being protected from prosecution in the United States by the Vatican, a man who collects $12, 000 A MONTH!! salary and is clearly being rewarded for NOT cooperating with the police re the shocking abuse of children in the US.

Saints like Oscar Romero and the wonderful John XXII are ignored.

Presently, you allow these people to impose a Latinate Mass on the English speaking population without a word on the bullying tactics they have employed. You sat and watched the chairman of ICEL, one of your brother Scottish Bishops, in tears as his life’s work on translating the Mass, was thrown down the toilet. You, with the other Scottish Bishops have kept silent and hoped no one would really notice as you sneak it in now.

So forgive me if I totally ignore your comments re marriage and gay people, especially when you yourself know how many Scottish priests are gay. Hypocrites.

Good luck on Thursday, Celtic.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The Real Face of Thomas Merton ?

Found this fascinating website with personal accounts about Thomas Merton.  The Intro is posted below, but click here to view the website.

What is the real face of Thomas Merton?

When he painted the portrait of his friend Merton standing near the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky, Ed Rice deliberately blanked out Tom's face. He confessed to being confused. Over the years, the scholars, the followers, publishers, the church itself, had drawn a portrait that was unrecognizable, that of a plastic saint, a monk interested mainly in pulling nonbelievers, and believers in other faiths, into the one true religion.

This was not the Merton that his friends from younger days and later days, Jim Knight and Ed Rice, knew. Merton was eminently human. He honored, and reached out to other faiths. He loved, he laughed. In essence he was a poet, who used words to help us understand the thousands of things we need to understand. This is his portrait, as recalled by his very close friends.

Jim Knight

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Push for reform grows in Austria

From the National Catholic Reporter
Sep. 12, 2011  By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

VIENNA, AUSTRIA -- As Cardinal Christoph Schönborn of Vienna prepares to meet privately for a second time with leaders of a group of priests who are pushing a reform agenda for the Catholic church, other Catholic leaders are calling for wider discussion of church reform.

In June, a group of about 300 priests, called the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, issued an “Appeal to Disobedience,” in which they pledged to take practical action on a list of reforms that included giving Communion to everyone who approaches the altar in good faith, including divorced Catholics who have remarried without an annulment, and publicly speaking out in support of the ordination of women and married men.

Membership in the group has grown to about 400, roughly one in 10 active priests, and some 12,000 lay Catholics are said to support the initiative.

Schönborn met Aug. 10 with leading members of the initiative and countered the priests’ “Appeal to Disobedience” with an “Appeal for Unity.” Schönborn reminded the priests that when they were ordained, they promised the bishop “reverence and obedience.”

Anyone who has come to the decision “that Rome is on a wrong track,” he said, must leave the Catholic church.

This sparked media reports of schism in the Austrian church, which caused the archdiocesan spokesman Michael Prüller to tell Catholic News Service, “The situation is not as dramatic as the Austrian media make it seem.”

While some saw the cardinal’s statement as an ultimatum, Prüller said, “this is nothing like that. There will be an ongoing debate and there has to be an ongoing discussion of the underlying issues.”

Schönborn was reportedly to meet the Priests’ Initiative leaders again Sept. 10.

But the leaders of Austria’s Conference of Religious Superiors of Men want that meeting to be public and encompass a larger group. Because there is talk of schism, they say, the controversy can no longer be solved by Schönborn alone.

There are about 40 male religious superiors in Austria, and their opinions carry weight because religious priests account for about half of all parish priests in Austria.

The head of the male superiors, Abbot Maximilian Fürnsinn of the Augustinian Monastery of Herzogenburg, says a church summit is called for because certain of the reforms the Priests’ Initiative is pressing for -- such as “allowing older married men to say Mass” -- are “at least worthy of discussion.”

Abbot Martin Felhofer of the Premonstratensian Abbey of Schlägl said, “Everyone -- bishops, abbots, religious and representatives of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative -- must sit down and discuss these problems together.”

The director of Caritas Austria, Franz Küberl, told Austrian state radio Sept. 3 that the church reform debate was not confined to Austria. The same issues are being discussed in many countries. He was in favor of ordaining women deacons, he said, and as far as obedience was concerned, the main thing “surely” was to obey the Gospel.

The head of Austrian Catholic Action, Luitgard Derschmidt, said that she fully understands that the members of the Priests’ Initiative “have had enough” and that Catholic Action shares many of their concerns. Austrian Catholic Action is the umbrella group for seven Catholic lay organizations that represent approximately 500,000 lay Catholics.

They were “not so much calling for disobedience but rather for a higher obedience to conscience and to God,” Derschmidt said. Mandatory priestly celibacy was a rule that could be relaxed, she said, adding that that many Catholic theologians see no reason why women could not be ordained.

The most recent polls taken among Austrian Catholics show that 90 percent want this controversy solved without there being winners or losers.

The polls also show that only 14 percent of Austrian priests think they are duty bound to obey church leaders and only 14 percent of Austrians accept the argument that women can never be ordained as Jesus only ordained men.

But 70 percent believe the church and its leaders are “an important moral authority.”

Ninety-six percent say that the exodus from the Austrian Catholic church would be “huge” if members of the Priests’ Initiative are suspended.

The Austrian Priests’ Initiative was founded in 2006 by Msgr. Helmut Schüller, one of Austria’s best-known churchmen and media personalities. He is a former president of Caritas Austria and former vicar general -- under Schönborn -- of the Vienna archdiocese.

Schüller, 58, was ombudsman of the Vienna archdiocese’s center for priestly sexual abuse and child protection from 1996 to 2005. Since then he has been the chaplain for students at Vienna University and parish priest of Probstdorf, a small market town north of Vienna.

The initiative decided to make their “Call to Disobedience” public in June, Schüller said, because parish priests have been expected to live schizophrenic lives for so long that it was wearing them out.

The hierarchy tolerates widespread disobedience at the grass roots, he said. For instance, it is a well-known fact that Catholics, even many of the young who go to World Youth Days, widely use contraception although it is forbidden by church law, he said. As a result, birth rates in Catholic countries like Poland and Austria are among the lowest in Europe if not in the world, but the bishops refuse to discuss such problems openly, thus leaving parish priests to teach one thing but practice or tolerate another, Schüller said.

Since June, Schüller’s group has been in touch with similar groups in Ireland and the United States, he said. From the beginning, the group has had close contact with like-minded priests in Germany, where there is a similar initiative that is, however, more hesitant to go public than the Austrian initiative, according to Schüller.

He has received thousands of e-mails from all over the world, he said. Most have been supportive, but there has also been some harsh criticism, with people accusing the priests of promoting a schism and telling them to leave the Catholic church.

Schönborn’s call for “reverence and obedience” triggered a heated, nationwide debate on obedience and disobedience in the church, which has a sad history in Austria.

It was pointed out, for example, that in April 1938 the Austrian bishops called on Catholics to vote for Nazi Germany’s annexation of Austria. Most obeyed the bishops, but a few, like Franz Jägerstätter, refused. Jägerstätter did not leave the church. He was, moreover, many years later beatified for his disobedience.

[Christa Pongratz-Lippitt is an Austrian correspondent for the London-based weekly Catholic magazine The Tablet.]

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Why Catholics are heading for the Exits . . .

A well thought out piece from the Catholica website deserves a full airing here.  It can be found on Catholica by clicking here.

Exit Stories : Why Catholics are heading for the exits

We have known for a long time that Catholica attracts a disproportionate readership from the sectors of the Catholic Church who have played a significant role in leadership initiatives in the Church over recent decades. This has been confirmed through an initiative that one of Catholica's publishers, Amanda McKenna, initiated earlier this year asking people to send in their stories explaining their disillusion or why they have left or dropped out of supporting the institution. Today's commentary from Amanda seeks to give an overview of the responses she received. Over coming Tuesdays we will publish a selection of the comments that people have written.

Listening to the disenchanted and those who have left the Church...

Some months ago an article by William J. Byron titled "On Their Way Out" [LINK] appeared in the online journal "America" magazine's January 3rd edition. What I read came as no surprise to me or to any of us who are paying attention to the trends in the Catholic Church today. In fact, I felt very strongly that we should be doing a lot more listening to discover why people are making the decision to leave the practise of their faith. For this reason I put out a call through the pages of Catholica and other websites I frequent to learn more not just from those who had already left, but also from those still practicing their faith, albeit uncomfortably.

What I didn't expect was the sheer volume of replies I was to receive over the next few months. For many, it was the first time anyone had ever bothered to ask the question. So many of these people noted that they had left communities in which they had played a active role with no one even noticing they were gone, let alone asking if everything was all right. This apathy only served to confirm them in their decisions.

We have heard over and over again from the Vatican how things such as 'consumerism' and 'secularism' are drawing people out of the church, and while for some that may be true, it certainly wasn't reflected in the many heart-wrenching stories shared by the respondents. By and large the people who responded to my request for their stories are people who have been the heart and soul of their communities; often cradle Catholics who have been educated in the Catholic system and are theologically literate, who have become so disillusioned by the current state of a church in which they can barely, or no longer, in good conscience participate.

Rather than being apathetic, these people were highly involved in their parish and faith communities. They served as pastoral councilors, RCIA facilitators, liturgists, teachers, music ministers, catechists and youth leaders, as well as priests and religious of all stripes. Many of those who remain practicing Catholics say that if not for the life they find in their own local parish communities, they would be long gone.

A wide range of reasons...

There were a wide range of reasons people gave for leaving (or having one foot out the door), but one reason above all others appeared in almost every letter I received: sexual abuse and its cover-up in the church.

The extent of anger and disillusionment of the people continues to grow as more and more stories come to light of instances where pedophile and abusing priests and religious were moved on to unsuspecting parishes, schools, hospitals and other institutions to continue their nefarious activities. The argument that 'we didn't know any better back then' no longer holds sway in light of the fact that canon law has forbidden it for many hundreds of years with promises of dire consequences for the offending persons, as well as the fact that it continues to this very day. People are frankly disgusted with the hierarchy's adversarial response to victims in an effort to shore up both their finances and their reputations, rather than pastorally caring for the victims and their families.

Another of the main reasons people gave for leaving was the misogyny inherent in both the teachings and the organisation of the church. The lack of equality between women and men in the church is as unpalatable to modern western society as it was to Jesus and his followers. And given that among those who remain in the pews, women far outnumber men, it is a dire forecast for the future of Catholicism, particularly in the western world of the 21st century.

In fact, most of the objections about the church were centred around, or related to, sex. Humanae Vitae was a stillborn teaching if ever there was one. It has been largely ignored by women and men since its promulgation in 1968 and therefore not 'received' by the body of the faithful. And if, as many stated, the Vatican could get that so wrong, what else did they get wrong and what does that say about the teaching of 'infallibility'?

Personal experiences of hurt and injustice...

Many people spoke of their own experiences of hurt and injustice suffered at the hands of the church. Numerous stories of sexual abuse were told, as well as of situations where new priests came to already established and thriving parishes and literally emptied the pews in very short order by the insensitive imposition of their own brand of so-called 'traditional' liturgies, lack of respect for the laity (women in particular) and inability to pastorally care in any meaningful way for their communities.

The majority of the respondents also cited their dislike of the way the church is currently governed; the increasing centralisation of the church paying lip-service to notions of 'collegiality', the lack of transparency at all levels, the treatment of theologians who dare to question 'the party line' ... and the list goes on.

The glossy pr might look good but the reality is that throughout the Western world nearly 90% of the baptized have ceased participating and listening. That's why the bishops try and mount these campaigns to get people back. But do they work? What's the results of all the evengelisation and re-evangelisation efforts of the past half century?

How can the 'sensus fidelium' be heard when there is no one to listen? I have said before that Vatican II woke up the People of God, and the Roman Curia has been trying to put us all to sleep ever since! Today, the claim to be a Vatican II Catholic is met with derision by those currently influencing and controlling the agenda in the Catholic church. Labeled '70's hippies' and worse, it now seems to be a criminal offense to have been born a 'baby boomer' and to have maintained an active church affiliation since Vatican II. We are now told that we didn't understand what the documents 'really' said, as if we were a theologically uneducated laity not capable of reading the documents for ourselves. Even though conservative popes, Paul VI, JPII and Benedict XVI have been at the helm throughout this period, apparently all the rest of us are to blame for the state the church finds itself in today, as the bishops of Ireland and the people of Cloyne have been told in recent times.

People are tired of beating their heads against a brick wall and are now finding other ways to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ outside of the church. Only two respondents stated that they went on to worship at other churches, while most of the rest found nourishment in a myriad of other ways outside the confines of any church. While some respondents state that they have lost faith in God altogether as a result of their experiences, the vast majority went to great lengths to explain that their faith in God remains strong; that, in fact, it was their faith in God that led them out of the Catholic church in the first place!

In my view the New Evangelisation and initiatives like Catholics Come Home are doomed to failure while ever the very serious reasons people left in the first place go unaddressed. And until those in authority right up to the 'servant of the servants of God' are prepared to actually listen to the People of God, nothing will — or can — change.

Over the coming Tuesday's we will publish a selection of the views I received. Although some respondents gave us permission to publish their names others, for understandable reasons, work in sensitive positions or disclosure of their names may harm other people close to them. On consideration of the sensititities we are choosing to publish all opinions we received anonymously.

Amanda McKenna, Linden, NSW. 06Sep2011

Milly is the pen name of musician and composer Amanda McKenna. She is the wife and business and creative partner of the Editor of Catholica, Brian Coyne. (Amanda McKenna is both her professional and married name.)