Archive for the ‘Vatican’
I mentioned the other day that Maryknoll’s Father Roy Bourgeois has been in the news again of late—taking his call for the ordination of women right to the Vatican.
I also wrote that he has a lot of support at Ossining-based Maryknoll, the generally liberal Catholic foreign missions society.
Turns out that Maryknoll has released a statement about that support (and its limits). So here it is:
The Maryknoll Society continues to receive correspondence and calls in support of Father Bourgeois. Maryknoll also receives many letters and calls from Catholics who do not agree with his views or his actions.
From the beginning, Maryknoll determined that this matter required a thoughtful approach. Since this matter is between Father Bourgeois and his Church and not between Father Bourgeois and Maryknoll, the Maryknoll Society decided it was necessary to have Father Bourgeois engage in communication with his Church to discuss the issues that separate them.
Maryknoll has repeatedly attempted to bridge the channels of communications. Father Bourgeois, unfortunately, always has elected not to pursue the opportunities provided to him by Maryknoll.
Currently, as this matter is reviewed, Father Bourgeois remains a member of the Maryknoll Society. Some within the Society agree with his view, while many others do not. Many also are not pleased with the manner in which he has conducted himself, indicating that this matter is between him and his Church and not with Maryknoll.
Whatever the final outcome between Father Bourgeois and the Church, Maryknoll will continue to provide for him spiritually and financially, should he be in need and request such support.
Maryknoll wishes that more Catholics would understand that it is Maryknoll that has tried to open the doors of dialogue for Father Bourgeois over these three years and that it is Maryknoll that will continue to befriend him as part of its extended family no matter his decision or the decision of the Church.
On a side note, Maryknoll’s year-long centennial celebrations will culminate on Sunday (Oct. 30) with a Centennial Mass of Thanksgiving at St. Patrick’s Cathedral at 2 p.m.
The principal celebrant will be Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington.
The Mass can be viewed live at www.livestream.com/maryknoll.
A few matters great and small:
1. I’ve written in the past that I’ve heard only good things about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf from those who know him. Rauf is, of course, the lead figure trying to develop the much-disputed Islamic center near Ground Zero.
The Record of Bergen County, N.J., has written some disturbing stuff about a low-income apartment building in Union City that needs serious repairs. Its owner, Rauf, hasn’t been making them and is now being taken to court.
The Record’s Mike Kelly writes:
Then, on Friday, on the eve of the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, Union City officials rushed again to Rauf’s building. PSE&G had shut off the electricity in the hallways. The reason: Rauf failed to pay a bill of almost $5,000, Stack said.
Not only were the hallways dark, but the electric-powered smoke detectors and fire alarms were not working. In other words, the building was now a fire trap.
When Union City officials persuaded PSE&G to restore electricity, they discovered yet another code violation – the fire alarms were not working anyway, even with electricity.
AP Photo/Hasan Jamali
2. Woody Allen has always been associated with a certain New York, Jewish sensibility.
A lot of Americans in the Heartland probably learned some of what they know about Jewish humor and even Jewish ways of looking at the world from Woody’s movies.
But, still, many Jews probably winced while reading the NYT’s interview with The Woodman yesterday. He pretty much disowned the Tribe.
He didn’t want to be wished a “Happy New Year” for the Jewish new year, telling the Times: “That’s for your people. I don’t follow it. I wish I could get with it. It would be a big help on those dark nights.”
He also says: “To me, there’s no real difference between a fortune teller or a fortune cookie and any of the organized religions. They’re all equally valid or invalid, really. And equally helpful.”
Manu Fernandez /AP file
3. The Jewish Week reports on the first-ever study of how Jewish day schools handle the abuse of students—sexual, physical, psychological.
Yeshiva U in NYC conducted the survey and got responses from more than 40 percent of 320 schools polled. These included mostly modern Orthodox day schools, some Conservative schools and some Orthodox yeshivas.
According to the JW:
Underscoring the need for more data on a problem little acknowledged until a decade ago, 80 percent of respondents report that “behavioral signs” are the primary means of identifying abuse, but only 15 percent of respondents said they could “easily identify abuse, with a full 48 percent disagreeing altogether,” according to the report.
“The headline here is that the community is recognizing a challenge and responding,” said Goldberg. He added that support is coming from rabbis, educators, lay leaders and philanthropists, and that efforts over the last decade have led “to what we expect is a ‘tipping point,’” where the community can face the challenges of abuse.
Yitzchak Schechter, a psychologist who headed the study and program with Goldberg, noted that “as a reflection of the changing times, 88 percent of the respondents agree or strongly agree that reporting abuse is accepted by the Torah.”
Though no statistical data is available for comparison, the study team said this represents “a very significant change in attitude” in the Orthodox community, where some still insist that rabbinic leaders, not secular authorities, should handle such cases.
4. Why would an ice cream company in Italy want to challenge the Vatican?
The company has an ad depicting a pregant nun eating ice cream. The ad promises ice cream that is “Immaculately Conceived.”
The same company produced an ad last year showing a nun and preist about to kiss.
The ads have faced all sorts of opposition. But the company, Antonio Fedirici, plans to press on. They have a bigger agenda, saying that the pregnant nun ad is supposed to “comment on and question, using satire and gentle humor, the relevance and hypocrisy of religion and the attitudes of the church to social issues.”
So the Vatican is essentially taking over the Legionaries of Christ—the long controversial religious order that has fallen into disarray since a series of bizarre revelations about its famous founder.
The pope will name a “personal delegate” and a commission to run things and rethink the Legion’s mission and its place in the Catholic orbit.
Some people must be wondering today how this news will affect the Legion’s property holdings in Westchester.
I doubt that anyone knows.
The Legion owns two big, side-by-side tracts of land in Mount Pleasant and another nice piece of real estate in New Castle. I don’t have the patience right now to recount all the different Legion proposals for their Westchester property—or all the opposition from local governments and neighbors.
It will have to suffice to say that the Legion has had a rough time of it here in the Burbs, where people don’t like most big development proposals, especially those that take chunks of land off the tax rolls.
Once the Legion is remade—whatever that means, however the order will look—you have to figure that development plans will change. But we’ll see.
In case you don’t know, the Legion’s late founder, Father Marcial Maciel, who was treated as something like a living saint by his order, has been…discredited (that’s him with JPII). He molested seminarians, fathered children with several women and who knows what else.
The Vatican’s statement includes this:
The apostolic visit has been able to ascertain that the behavior of Father Marcial Maciel Degollado has had serious consequences for the life and structure of the Legion, such as to require a process of in-depth revision.
The very serious and objectively immoral behavior of Father Maciel, as incontrovertible evidence has confirmed, sometimes resulted in actual crimes, and manifests a life devoid of scruples and of genuine religious sentiment. The great majority of Legionaries were unaware of this life, above all because of the system of relationships built by Father Maciel, who had skillfully managed to build up alibis, to gain the trust, the confidence and the silence of those around him, and to strengthen his role as a charismatic founder.
Not infrequently, the lamentable discrediting and dismissal of whoever doubted his behavior was upright, as well as the misguided conviction of those who did not want to harm the good that the Legion was doing, created around him a defense mechanism that made him untouchable for a long time, making it very difficult to know his real life.
(AP Photo/Plinio Lepri, File)
UPDATE: The Jesuit commentator Thomas Reese calls out Pope JPII for his unquestioning support of Maciel after the Legion’s founder was facing numerous accusations:
John Paul trusted those who cheered him and tried to crush those who questioned his ideas or actions. This led him to trust Maciel and distrust questioning Jesuits.
Having grown up in a persecuted church where unity was a mater of survival, John Paul could not accept open debate and discussion in the church. Loyalty was more important than intelligence or pastoral skill. As a result, the quality of bishops appointed under him declined, as did the competence of people working in the Vatican.
Of JPII, Reese writes: “But the sad truth is that while he was good for the world, he was bad for the church.”
About the whole Legionaries scandal, Reese writes:
But the Vatican response needs to focus not only on the Legionaries but also on itself. Why did it take 13 years for the Vatican to intervene? Why did the Congregation for Religious not investigate the numerous accusations against Maciel? Why did it approve such a defective constitution in the first place? Is it true, as Jason Berry alleges in the National Catholic Reporter, that Maciel used Legionaries’ money to buy influence with cardinals in the Vatican?
If the pope wants to deal with the core issue, he should hire an outside management consulting firm to answer these questions and to make recommendations on improving the Vatican curia. The sexual abuse crisis was not only caused by bad priest, it was compounded by bad management at the diocesan and Vatican level.
Dark days in Rome • 03.11.10
It’s becoming hard to ignore the bad headines facing the Catholic Church these days.
We’re talking internationally.
Lots of people have asked me in recent days something along the lines of “What’s going on with the Vatican?”
And I was greeted this morning with this headine from Robert Moynihan’s Inside the Vatican email: “Benedict’s Papacy in Crisis?”
You have a growing scandal in Germany, where more than 170 former Catholic school students have alleged that they were sexually abused. Others claim physical abuse.
Some of the accusations involve a boys’ choir that was run for 30 years by the pope’s brother, the Rev. Georg Ratzinger. He said Tuesday that he did slap students as punishment, but that he was not aware of any sexual abuse during his tenure.
“The problem of sexual abuse that has now come to light was never spoken of,” Ratzinger said.
Then you had a Vatican summit this week about past sexual abuse in Ireland, where the church has been practically brought to its knees by revelations of decades of abuse.
A Vatican statement includes this:
For his part, the Holy Father observed that the sexual abuse of children and young people is not only a heinous crime, but also a grave sin which offends God and wounds the dignity of the human person created in his image. While realizing that the current painful situation will not be resolved quickly, he challenged the Bishops to address the problems of the past with determination and resolve, and to face the present crisis with honesty and courage.
The fine journalist David Gibson explains how the archbishop of Dublin is trying to cope with the mess and becoming something of a hero in the process.
Then you have this bizarre story involving a papal usher and a Vatican chorister who are accused of being part of a gay prostitution ring.
By accused, we mean that the user, officially a “Gentleman of His Holiness,” was taped arranging transactions.
And then, finally, you have new stories about Fr. Marcial Maciel, the late—and now discredited – founder of the Legionaries of Christ.
The Vatican began an investigation of the order last year after it was revealed that Maciel had fathered a child and lived some sort of “double life.” Now a Mexican woman is saying that she had three sons with Maciel (who told her he was someone else) and that Maciel sexually abused two of the boys.
The Legion reacted with a statement, which includes:
In recent years, the Legionaries of Christ have gradually come to know, with surprise and great sorrow, hidden aspects of the life of Fr Maciel. We confirm our commitment to act in truth and charity. We renew our request for forgiveness from the affected people for all of the suffering this has caused and for the ensuing scandal.
The Legion also implied that the Mexican family’s lawyer tried to extort money from the order.
Now what? Based on the past, I would expect Catholic groups to start circling the wagons. Any day, we should start hearing complaints about media coverage focusing on the scandals instead of all the good work that the Catholic Church is doing in Haiti, Chile and elsewhere.
Otherwise, the Vatican is not known for reacting swiftly to crises. We’ll see.
Inside the Vatican’s Moynihan writes:
In Rome, some fear this is just the beginning.
This fear is not idle, as the internet and world press are already full of reports that these crises may cast a shadow over the entire pontificate.
The battle occurring right now is over how history will judge Benedict’s papacy.
(AP Photo/Diether Endlicher,File)
Catholic-Anglican, Catholic-Jewish updates • 10.23.09
A couple of quick updates:
1. I tried to make some sense yesterday of the Vatican’s plans for welcoming disaffected Anglicans. Seveal readers thought it’s a bigger deal than I did—and they may be right.
I got a pithy reaction from Bishop Catherine Roskam, the assistant bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of New York, which I share here:
We appreciate the welcome the pope extended to those in the Anglican communion who are disaffected. We for our part continue to welcome our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters, both lay and ordained, conservative and liberal, who wish to belong to a church that treasures diversity of thought.
John Allen has a comprehensive analysis of “What the Vatican’s Welcome of Anglicans means” HERE.
2. I wrote at the start of the week about Archbishop Dolan planning to take part in a program about Catholic-Jewish relations with the chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary in NYC.
It turns out that Dolan will be focusing quite a bit about Catholic relations with the Jewish community—and not just in New York.
He’s been named Moderator of Jewish Affairs for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, a pretty significant role. He’s replacing Cardinal William H. Keeler, the retired Archbishop of Baltimore, who has been a key international figure in Catholic-Jewish relations.
The appointment is effective Nov. 11 and is good for five years.
Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the Bishops Conference, says:
Since the Second Vatican Council, important strides in this relationship have been made through dialogue and collaboration in countering racism, anti-Semitism and other offenses against human dignity. Our Episcopal Conference, through the leadership of your predecessors in New York, and especially through the tireless and generous service of Cardinal William Keeler, has sought to contribute to the work of reconciliation between the Church and the Jewish people after centuries of mutual estrangement. While we look back with gratitude on nearly a half century of progress in these efforts at healing and renewal, we also know that important and pressing challenges lie ahead for us.
George also said that the Jewish community will find Dolan to be “a friend who communicates the joy of his own faith, while at the same time conveying profound respect for the spiritual gifts of the other.”
Dolan will join Keeler on November 11 for the semi-annual USCCB’s consultation with the National Council of Synagogues—with Dolan taking over as co-chair.
I would imagine that a lot of people are confused today by the Big News that the Vatican is taking steps to make it easier for conservative Anglicans to become Catholics while retaining Anglican traditions.
The fact that the NYTimes made it the Lead Story today will by itself tell many people that this is a major step for Rome.
I’m not so sure, although the whole thing is certainly quite interesting.
As you know, many traditional Anglicans—including Episcopalians in the U.S.—are unhappy with the liberal drift in parts of the Anglican Communion (meaning Europe and the U.S). They do not want to see gay bishops or female bishops. Some still do not want to see female priests. They don’t like the idea of some Anglican priests blessing same-sex couples.
Just last year, conservative Episcopalians in the U.S. left the church to form their own Anglican community, the Anglican Church in North America.
Now, some Anglicans have petitioned the Vatican to let them become Roman Catholics, while holding on to their Anglican liturgy.
But not that many.
The Times itself reports today that Cardinal William Levada (that’s him), the American boss of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “said that 20 to 30 bishops and hundreds of other people had petitioned the Vatican on the matter in recent years.”
We’re talking HUNDREDS of people out of 80 million Anglicans. Maybe a couple of thousand will think about making the change.
Most Anglicans live in parts of the world where their church communities are already quite traditional. So they’re good, more or less.
And disaffected Americans already have their own community that allows them to remain Anglicans.
So what’s the big deal?
Father Thomas Reese, the Jesuit scholar, writes that the most significant aspects of the whole story may be that the Catholic Church will recognize the Anglican liturgy—possibly opening the doors to other liturgical adventures—and that an uptick in married Anglican priests who become Catholic will raise new questions about the need for the celibate priesthood.
Despite all the Vatican attempts to downplay the acceptance of married Anglican priests, many people will ask why not married priests for other Catholics? Cardinal Levada said that not only married Anglican priests will be ordained but also married Anglican seminarians who join the Catholic Church. The Vatican has made clear that married Catholic priests will not be welcomed back to the priesthood, but could a married Catholic man join the Anglicans, enter an Anglican seminary and then return to the Catholic Church? If so, this could become a rich source of priests for the Catholic Church.
This is interesting stuff. But I haven’t heard or read anything to make me think that we’re going to be see any major changes here in the Catholic or Anglican worlds.
Maybe that’s why two Anglican archbishops, including Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams (that’s him), endorsed the whole thing, saying that it’s all good for conservative Anglicans who want out.
If they expected to lose significant numbers of Anglicans, I doubt they would have that reaction.
The funny thing to me is that I’ve long joked that the Episcopal Church in the U.S. could triple in size by actively seeking out lapsed Catholics. Come up with a fancy name for a “Try us, you’ll like us” program. Promote several easy steps toward becoming an Episcopalian. Explain how familiar the Episcopal liturgy would be for ex-Catholics.
Sort of like what the Vatican is doing, but in reverse.
But the Episcopal Church will never do it. It would be un-P.C.
Here are two events you might want to know about taking place tomorrow (Friday, May 29):
First off, the catechetical office of the Archdiocese of New York will offer an all-day adolescent catechesis workshop at the Riverview in Hastings-on-Hudson.
The program is called “Knowing Jesus, Growing as Disciples,” and is aimed at all Catholic educators who deal with adolescents.
It’s from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The price is $40 per person, including lunch. The Riverview is at 1 Warburton Ave.
For information or registration, contact Kathleen Alonzo at 212-371-1011, ex. 2864 or Kathleen.Alonzo@archny.org.
Second, the writer George Sim Johnston will speak at 7 p.m. at the Montfort Academy in Katonah about Christian views on the theory of evolution.
His lecture is called: “Did Darwin Get It Right? Christian Belief and the Theory of Evolution.”
He wrote a book with the same title in 1998. If you want a preview of what Johnston might say, I found an abridged version of a lecture he gave on the subject in 1999.
At the time, Johnston had great problems with classic Darwin:
There are other serious problems with classical Darwinian theory. Among them are the fact that scientists see very little “struggle for survival” in nature (many species tend to cooperate and occupy ecological niches which do not compete); the fact that all the major body plans we see today in animals and insects appeared at once in the Cambrian era, a fact which does not fit Darwin’s model; and that many species like the lungfish have not changed at all in over 300 million years despite important shifts in their environment, which flatly contradicts the constant fine-tuning Darwin attributed to natural selection.
Darwin himself was increasingly plagued by doubts after the first edition of the Origin. In subsequent editions, he kept backing off from natural selection as the explanation of all natural phenomena. Darwin’s unproven theory nonetheless became dogma in the public mind.
In his 1999 talk, Johnston said this:
The Catholic Church has never had a problem with “evolution” (as opposed to philosophical Darwinism, which sees man solely as the product of materialist forces). The Church has never taught that the first chapter of Genesis is meant to teach science.
Pius XII correctly pointed out in the encyclical Humani Generis (1950) that the theory of evolution had not been completely proved, but he did not forbid that the theory of evolution concerning the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter – for Catholic faith obliges us to hold that human souls are immediately created by God – be investigated and discussed by experts as far as the present state of human science and sacred theology allows.
In his catechesis on creation given during a series of general audiences in 1986, John Paul II stated that “the theory of natural evolution, understood in a sense that does not exclude divine causality, is not in principle opposed to the truth about the creation of the visible world as presented in the Book of Genesis.” He hastened to add that “this hypothesis proposes only a probability, not a scientific certainty.”
The Church’s quarrel with many scientists who call themselves evolutionists is not about evolution itself, which may or may not have occurred in a non-Darwinian, teleological manner, but rather about the philosophical materialism that is at the root of so much evolutionary thinking. The Church insists that man is not an accident; that no matter how He went about creating homo sapiens, God from all eternity intended that man and all creation exist in their present form.
Vatican: Bishop Williamson not back in • 02.27.09
Yesterday, Bishop Richard Williamson apologized, sort of, for his Holocaust-denying interview.
He said: “Observing these consequences I can truthfully say that I regret having made such remarks, and that if I had known beforehand the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise, especially to the Church, but also to survivors and relatives of victims of injustice under the Third Reich, I would not have made them.”
But the Vatican said today that Williamson did not go far enough.
From the AP’s Nicole Winfield:
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican said Friday that the apology issued by an ultraconservative bishop who denied the Holocaust was not good enough to admit him into the Catholic Church as a clergyman.
Vatican spokesman Rev. Federico Lombardi said Bishop Richard Williamson’s statement “doesn’t appear to respect the conditions” the Vatican set out for him.
In an interview broadcast last month on Swedish state TV, Williamson denied 6 million Jews were killed during the Holocaust, saying 200,000 or 300,000 were murdered. He said none were gassed.
Williamson apologized for his remarks on Thursday, saying he would never have made them if he had known “the full harm and hurt to which they would give rise.”
But he did not say his comments had been erroneous, nor that he no longer believed them.
Williamson’s initial remarks sparked widespread outrage among Jewish groups and others. The interview was broadcast just days before the Vatican announced that it was lifting his excommunication and that of three other bishops.
The four, members of the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, had been excommunicated after being consecrated as bishops without papal consent in 1988.
Bowing to the criticism, the Vatican on Feb. 4 demanded that Williamson “absolutely and unequivocally distance himself from his remarks about the Shoah if he is to be admitted to episcopal functions in the church.” Shoah is the Hebrew term for the Holocaust.
In his statement Friday, Lombardi noted that Williamson’s comments were not addressed to Pope Benedict XVI or to the Vatican’s Ecclesia Dei commission, which has been dealing with the Society of St. Pius X ever since its bishops were excommunicated. (more…)
Vatican: Williamson must recant • 02.04.09
The Vatican said today that Bishop Richard Williamson—the traditionalist who said that no Jews were gassed by Nazi Germany—must disavow his statements before he can function as a bishop.
A statement said: “The positions of Bishop Williamson on the Holocaust are absolutely unacceptable and are strongly rejected by the Holy Father.”
Williamson is one of four bishops belonging to the Society of St. Pius X whose excommunications were recently lifted by the pope.
It includes this nugget:
Ever since Christ was lifted up on Mount Calvary, the world has been subjected to two truly opposite forces: the Jewish force and the Christian.
In the world as it is, there can be only two truly basic modes, two poles of attraction: the Christian and the Jewish. Only two religions: Christian and Jewish. All that is not of Christ and for Christ is done in favor of Judaism. It follows from that, that the de-Christianizing of the world runs parallel to its Judaizing.
Jewish leaders are applauding the Vatican’s move today. Here’s one statement:
The International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations applauds the Vatican for clarifying that Holocaust denier Richard Williamson is not welcome in the Catholic Church until he recants his deplorable statements concerning the Shoah. In addition IJCIC welcomes the clear insistence of the Vatican that the members of the SSPX accept the teaching of the Second Vatican Council in general and those pertaining to Jews and Judaiasm in particular.
“We hope that this clarification can put this unfortunate episode behind us and enable us to continue progressing along the remarkable and historic path along which Catholic-Jewish relations have advanced in the last half century” said Rabbi David Rosen, IJCIC Chairman.
If you missed it, Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, released a statement about the whole affair, which includes:
As is now widely known, one of the four bishops, Richard Williamson, has recently made some deeply offensive and utterly false statements about the Holocaust of the Second World War. Bishop Williamson has denied historical facts about the Shoah, in which six million Jews were cruelly annihilated, innocent victims of blind racial and religious hatred. These comments have evoked understandable outrage from within the Jewish community and also from among our own Catholic people. No Catholic, whether lay person, priest or bishop can ever negate the memory of the Shoah, just as no Catholic should ever tolerate expressions of anti-Semitism and religious bigotry.
Vatican goes Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da on Beatles • 11.24.08
In what is likely to be the most fun story of the week…
The Vatican newspaper has noted the 40th anniversary of the White Album, praising the Beatles’ “unique and strange alchemy of sounds and words.”
The article said it was just “showing off, bragging by a young English working-class musician who had … enjoyed unexpected success.”
Too bad John’s not around to react…
If I remember correctly, one of the songs on the White Album, “Dear Prudence,” was about Mia Farrow’s sister, who was with the Beatles when they were studying Transcendental Meditation in India.
A strange alchemy, indeed.
The Vatican’s website doesn’t have the story yet, but check back Wednesday to see if an English-language version of the article pops up…