Blogging Religiously

From a New York point of view


Maryknoll on Father Bourgeois: Some agree, some do not10.26.11

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:

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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.

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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.

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Female ordination, Maryknoll, Vaticanwith 11 Comments →

Another catch-up on the news…10.21.11

I’ve been too busy to blog of late. I’ll try to write more, but it’s all about finding the time.

Catching up on a few things:

1. Father Roy Bourgeois, the Maryknoll priest who faces dismissal from the order because of his support for women’s ordination, is not going quietly. He led a march to the Vatican a few days back to press his cause and was briefly detained by police. Bourgeois either has been excommunicated or soon will be because of his public stand, depending on which report you read.

Bourgeois’ ongoing, very pubic struggle with the church is surely causing anguish for many at Ossining-based Maryknoll, where many love Bourgeois but can’t support him openly.

2. The Metropolitan New York Synod of the ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) is starting a “strategic planning process” for its future.

They’re asking congregants to fill out on-line surveys by the end of the year that ask for the main strength of one’s congregation, the most significant issue facing one’s congregation and one’s “dream” or vision for their congregation.

It’s hard for me to see how such a survey will produce any new information or surprises. You can pretty much predict what the most common responses will be.

3. As Mitt Romney holds on as one of the top contenders for the GOP nomination, we are hearing more and more about his Mormon faith and what it means to non-Mormon Republicans (just as we did four years ago).

If you don’t really get, I strongly suggest that you read a recent explainer by Ann Rodgers of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, one of the country’s best religion writers. She offers a terrific primer on Mormon belief that offers just enough theology. Give it a try.

4. Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, chief rabbi of the United Kingdom since 1991 and one of the world’s most prominent rabbis and Jewish thinkers, will speak next Saturday night, Oct. 29, at 8 at Young Israel of Scarsdale.

You can see a sampling of numerous writings and speeches and “thoughts of the day” on his website.

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Uncategorizedwith 9 Comments →

My two days with the New Square arson victim, a Muslim doctor and Maryknoll missionaries06.23.11

For a guy who no longer covers religion, I’ve spent a lot of time the past few days with people of faith.

Yesterday, I got to speak with Aron Rottenberg, the famous arson victim from the Hasidic village of New Square. Last night, I sat in on a discussion of Adam and Eve, led by Dr. Mahjabeen Hassan, an important Muslim figure I am profiling as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 nears. And this morning, I visited with several officials at Maryknoll for an upcoming story about the Catholic missionary society’s 100th birthday.

It’s been like the old days. What interesting people. What great stories they tell.

Rottenberg, who got out of the hospital Monday, met with local media yesterday at a hotel where he is staying before he attempts to return to New Square. As I wrote for today’s Journal News/LoHud, he talked about all sorts of things — the attack, the blame he places on New Square’s leaders, his father’s “open-minded” ways, and the brainwashing that he says goes on in New Square as a way of life.

I was anxious for some time to ask Rottenberg about growing up in New Square and what the people are taught to believe about the grand rebbe.

He said that the people are taught to believe that the GR is “pure spirituality.”

He said he wants his children to leave New Square. His oldest child, married and a new mother, has already left with her family for Monsey. “Most people in New Square are good people, but I don’t want them there,” he said.

Rottenberg kept saying that people should “enjoy religion” and not give up their basic freedoms, like choosing where to pray. Interestingly, he said that the reason he started praying at a nearby nursing home instead of New Square’s synagogue — the move that sparked all his troubles — was that he was asked to help form a minyan, a 10-man prayer quorum, so that an elderly resident could pray.

What a rebel.

I’ll write more in the days ahead about my upcoming profile of Dr. Hassan, the best-known face of Islam around here, and Maryknoll’s centennial.

I spoke with one missionary, Father Vince Cole from Detroit, who has spent the last 40 years serving in a village in Indonesia. He’s in Ossining to celebrate his Maryknoll anniversary, but is looking foward to getting back home.

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Catholic missions, Hasidic Jewswith Comments Off on My two days with the New Square arson victim, a Muslim doctor and Maryknoll missionaries

Maryknoll celebrating its 100th01.28.11

Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, the Roman Catholic missionary group based in Ossining, has just started celebrating its 100th birthday.

Maryknoll was co-founded by Father James Anthony Walsh of Cambridge, Mass., and Father Thomas Frederick Price of Wilmington, N.C., as the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America. Pope Pius X gave the group his blessing on June 29, 1911.

Since then, Maryknoll has become quite famous for working with the poor all over the world, particularly in Asia, Latin America, Africa and the U.S.

There will be special events all year, including a Mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Oct. 30.

I hope to write something about Maryknoll’s history over the next few weeks.

Maryknoll kicked things off Tuesday with an opening Mass in Ossining. It included a specially commissioned composition by Father Jan Michael Joncas, liturgical theologian and composer of contemporary Catholic music.

Here are two pictures from the Mass, provided by Maryknoll:

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Catholic missions, Maryknollwith 4 Comments →

Maryknoll nearing centennial10.25.10

It seems like just yesterday that I wrote about Maryknoll’s 90th birthday:

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OSSINING – A family reunion of sorts has been taking place here, bringing together men and women from the poorest, most desperate regions of the world.

Many haven’t seen each other in years, but they’ve shared remarkably similar tales about the fallout from globalization, the continuing spread of AIDS, unabated threats to the environment and the basic plight of the oppressed, illiterate and hungry.

A depressing scene, perhaps, one without hope. But these are Maryknoll missioners, the heart of the Catholic Foreign Mission Society of America, and they have been trying to bring light to the darkest corners of the world for 90 years.

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Now here we are, on the cusp of Maryknoll’s 100th anniversary, which will be celebrated through all of 2011.

Here’s the anniversary logo (it’s kind of small, I know):

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Centennial, Maryknollwith Comments Off on Maryknoll nearing centennial

No nukes04.07.10

Back in the Cold War days, one of the most high-profile items on the Catholic agenda — on many agendas — was nuclear disarmament.

We haven’t heard as much about it since the wall came down.

646a42253eb221903e312bf2271bf522But with meetings at the U.N. next month to review the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, Obama rewriting America’s “nuclear strategy”  and growing concerns about nukes getting into the hands of terrorists, disarmament is back in the headlines.

Want proof? Maryknoll is hosting a forum entitled “For Peace and Human Needs—Disarm Now!” on Sunday  (April 11) at 2:30 p.m. at the Maryknoll HQ in  Ossining.

According to a release: “Panel discussion topics will include: Arms Control and National Security, Nuclear Disarmament, and Seizing this Moment.  Presenters will be members of the United Nations NGO community.”

Coincidentally, I got a release from the Two Futures Project, an evangelical movement pushing for the abolition of nuclear weaspons.

“The use of even one nuclear weapon would cause indiscriminate death and destruction and threaten uncontrollable escalation, both of which are anathema in the just war tradition,” says the Rev. Tyler Wigg-Stevenson,  Director of the Two Futures Project. “The moral imperative is to do everything possible to ensure that no nuclear weapon is ever used, whether in war, terrorism, or by accident—which requires taking concrete, threat-reducing steps toward their multi-lateral, verifiable, and complete elimination.”

Obama yesterday officially said that nuclear terrorism is a greater threat than whatever nukes Russia has left.

“The greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states,” he said.

Just about anyone should be able to agree on this point, I guess. Not counting Iran.

Posted by: Gary Stern - Posted in Maryknoll, Non-Proliferation Treaty, Nuclear disarmament, Two Futures Project, Uncategorizedwith Comments Off on No nukes

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