Why men need women in ministry

Why men need women in ministry

From your studies, it would appear to me that the future of Catholic ministry would embrace married couples, ordained together, and doing ministry together.  This is what I have known in my marriage as a mutual priesthood for each other and for the world. . . .   What would you make of this?

 

workinprogress5

 

By chance, I just picked up the book of Cardinal Suenens, THE HIDDEN HAND OF GOD: THE LIFE OF VERONICA O’BRIEN AND OUR COMMON APOSTOLATE.   In this book, Suenens details the life of “Sister Veronica” who left her religious order in order to pursue a “full-time apostolate” in the Church.  At first she worked with Frank Duff in creating and expanding the Legion of Mary.  Then, during and after Vatican II, she worked with orders of nuns who were wrestling with the issues surrounding the renewal of their orders.  Finally, she worked alongside Cardinal Suenens in fashioning the design and approval for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal (1972+).   Suenens, in the preface, speaks of “our joint apostolic initiatives for evangelical renewal” over a period of fifty years.  More importantly, however, Suenens says, without his usual reserve, “Our collaboration . . . has been the great spiritual grace of my life.”

 

In the Middle Ages, we have the well-documented cases of Francis and Clair and Abelard and Heloise.  In such cases, however, a man was energized by the love and devotion and intelligence of a woman; yet, the woman, in these instances, was confined to a cloister and had no active engagement with the world for the greater part of her life.

 

Then I discovered this book which describes how men become enchanted with women saints:

 

Women, Men, and Spiritual Power: Female Saints and Their Male Collaborators

John W. Coakley

January, 2006

In Women, Men, and Spiritual Power, John Coakley explores male-authored narratives of the lives of Catherine of Siena, Hildegard of Bingen, Angela of Foligno, and six other female prophets or mystics of the late Middle Ages. His readings reveal the complex personal and literary relationships between these women and the clerics who wrote about them. Coakley’s work also undermines simplistic characterizations of male control over women, offering an important contribution to medieval religious history.

Coakley shows that these male-female relationships were marked by a fundamental tension between power and fascination: the priests and monks were supposed to hold authority over the women entrusted to their care, but they often switched roles, as the men became captivated with the women’s spiritual gifts. In narratives of such women, the male authors reflect directly on the relationship between the women’s powers and their own. Coakley argues that they viewed these relationships as gendered partnerships that brought together female mystical power and male ecclesiastical authority without placing one above the other.

Women, Men, and Spiritual Power chronicles a wide-ranging experiment in the balance of formal and informal powers, in which it was assumed to be thoroughly imaginable for both sorts of authority, in their distinctly gendered terms, to coexist and build on each other. The men’s writings reflect an extended moment in western Christianity when clerics had enough confidence in their authority to actually question its limits. After about 1400, however, clerics underwent a crisis of confidence, and such a questioning of institutional power was no longer considered safe. Instead of seeing women as partners, their revelatory powers began to be viewed as evidence of witchcraft.

About the Author

John W. Coakley is the L. Russell Feakes Professor of Church History, New Brunswick Theological Seminary. He is the coeditor (with Andrea Sterk) of Readings in World Christian History.

 

Peace,

Aaron

 

Charlie Curran’s Right to Dissent

Facing An Ultimatum from Rome, Curran Fights for his Right to Dissent

ChasCurranThe letter from the Vatican’s Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger carried an ultimatum: Recant or lose your status as a Catholic theologian. Once again the Rev. Charles E. Curran—known to almost everyone as “Charlie”—had caught lightning. As a tenured professor of moral theology at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., Curran has kept up a spirited dissent from church teaching on birth control, masturbation, premarital sex, homosexuality, divorce, abortion and euthanasia, arguing that in some cases they may not be absolutely wrong. Now, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith wants to silence the turbulent priest, and Curran is fighting back. “I continue to hold my basic position that dissent from authoritative, noninfallible church teaching is possible and in certain cases is justified,” he told a press conference called to answer the warning from Rome. “My position is in keeping with a long-standing tradition. I cannot and do not retract it.” (The Pope is infallible on faith and morals only when speaking ex cathedra. Since Vatican I in 1869-70, this has occurred only once, in 1950, when Pius XII issued a decree on the Assumption of the Virgin Mary.)

The controversial Curran has gone head-to-head with church authorities twice before. In 1967, when Catholic University’s board of trustees decided—with no explanation—not to renew his contract, a strike by students and faculty convinced the board to keep him on and promote him to associate professor. In 1968 he spearheaded U.S. Catholic resistance to Pope Paul VI’s reaffirmation of the church ban on artificial contraception, organizing some 600 theologians and other academics who declared that Catholic couples could in good conscience practice birth control. His continuing dissent on issues of human sexuality has earned him the ire of American Catholic conservatives, who have bombarded the Vatican with complaints about his views. In 1979, as part of Pope John Paul II’s drive for orthodoxy, the Congregation launched an investigation of Curran that has culminated in the Vatican’s latest threat. “This is much more serious than 1968,” says Curran. “This is intervention by the Holy See.” If he loses his status as a Catholic theologian, he says, “I won’t be able to teach theology at any Catholic school in the country.”

Many feel that would be a great loss. Tall and slim, easygoing with a ready sense of humor, the 52-year-old teacher is as beloved of his students as he is of controversy. Shunning clerical garb, he prefers to wear a coat and tie. When California Republican Congressman Robert Dornan, a Catholic conservative, asked him why he dressed in civvies and let people call him by his first name, the priest replied, ” ‘Cause Jesus did.”

But Curran, who lives in a two-room suite above the theology department offices, is no self-styled radical guru. He teaches only graduate courses, mostly to students in their 30s and 40s, and is known for assigning a grueling work load. “He presents Roman Catholic teaching clearly, fairly and objectively,” says Sister Sally McReynolds, 47, who studied under Curran and is now a Ph.D. candidate in systematic theology. “He emphasizes the strengths and the weaknesses, but he emphasizes the strengths more.”

Curran maintains that his differences with church teachings on sexuality fall well within the mainstream of Catholic theology. The great majority of Catholics in this country reject the birth control ban, Catholics are divorced in the same proportion as the general population, and a recent Gallup poll found that 58 percent of Catholics do not believe premarital sex is morally wrong. Ratzinger nevertheless cites four major issues on which Curran departs from church doctrine:

•The church teaches that artificial contraception and sterilization are intrinsically wrong. Says Curran: “I’ve maintained that these actions are not intrinsically evil but can be good or evil insofar as they’re governed by the principles of responsible parenthood and stewardship.”

•Ratzinger says, “Every true Catholic must hold that abortion and euthanasia are unspeakable crimes.” Curran argues that “truly individual” human life does not occur until the second and third week after conception. “One can be justified in taking truly individual human life,” he adds, “only for the sake of the life of the mother or for a value commensurate with life itself.” Curran tentatively proposes a case for euthanasia: “When the dying process begins there seems to be no difference between the act of omission [not using extraordinary means to prolong life] and the positive act of bringing about death.”

•Ratzinger terms masturbation, premarital intercourse and homosexual acts “intrinsically immoral.” Curran says that while masturbation “falls short of the full meaning of human sexuality and should not generally be seen as entirely good or praiseworthy, it is not normally a serious issue…. For an irreversible, constitutional or genuine homosexual, homosexual acts in the context of a loving relationship striving for permanency can in a certain sense be objectively morally acceptable. The full meaning of human sexuality involves a permanent commitment of love between a man and a woman. Pastoral practice here requires prudence in dealing with people who do not accept such an understanding in practice…. Only in very rare and comparatively few situations would I justify premarital sexuality.”

•Ratzinger says marriage is “an indissoluble bond.” Curran replies, “The Catholic Church should change its teachings on indissolubility and allow divorce in certain circumstances.”

Because the teachings he questions are not declared “infallible,” Curran argues that his caveats fall within the bounds of permissible dissent under church law. “Infallibility is like pregnancy,” he says. “Either you are or you aren’t. It is unjust to single me out for disciplinary action of any type when so many other Catholic theologians hold the same position.”

Curran, born the son of an insurance adjuster (and leading Democrat) in Rochester, N.Y., is what seminarians call a “womb-to-tomber.” He entered St. Andrew’s Minor Seminary at 13 and eventually took his two doctorates in Rome before returning to his home diocese to teach at St. Bernard’s Seminary. He moved on to Catholic University in 1965, when it became clear his opinions on birth control were not welcome in Rochester. “One thing I’ve inherited from my father is cynicism,” he once said. “If you’re cynical enough, you don’t fall for everything that comes down the pike. And I never fell for all the folderol [in Rome].”

This time, however, Rome means business, and the current attempt to rein in Curran has divided the American church. “I welcome the action,” declares Auxiliary Bishop Austin Vaughan of New York. But nine former presidents of the Catholic Theological Society of America support Curran and have circulated a statement—already signed by more than 600 Catholic theologians—challenging the Vatican position. Curran’s home bishop, Matthew Clark of Rochester, says that questioning Curran’s status as a theologian is “a serious setback to Catholic education.” Chicago’s Joseph Cardinal Bernardin has urged Ratzinger to accept a compromise suggested by Curran that would point out the theologian’s errors but allow him to continue teaching. But Ratzinger appears unswayed.

Though 300 students turned out at a rally to support Curran, he can’t count on Catholic U. to go on strike this time. “While the contributions Father Curran has made to this community cannot be ignored,” editorialized the student newspaper, The Tower, “the right of the church to protect faithfully her teachings and guide those who would teach as Catholic theologians is paramount.” Curran chooses to see the controversy as an educational opportunity. “No matter what happens,” he says, “I want to make this a teaching moment.”  (source)

  • Contributors:
  • Jim Castelli

Legitimacy of Dissent

Case #1  Nineteen priests dissenting from HV

In 1968, Cardinal Patrick O’Boyle of Washington, D.C., disciplined nineteen priests who had publicly dissented from Pope Paul VI’s teaching in the encyclical Humanae Vitae. Three years later, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy decreed that Cardinal O’Boyle should lift canonical penalties against those priests who informed the cardinal privately that they agreed that the Church’s teaching on “the objective evil of contraception” was “an authentic expression of [the] magisterium.” The Congregation explicitly avoided requiring that the priests, who had dissented publicly, retract their dissent publicly.  A new biography of O’Boyle, Steadfast in the Faith (Catholic University of America Press), suggests that the decision not to require a public retraction was made by Paul VI himself.   (source)

 

Who Eats at the Lord’s Table?

Who Eats at the Lord’s Table?

 

Dear Cardinal Pell,

peterdayIn the lead-up to next month’s Extraordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family you and a number of your confreres are re-asserting the church’s longstanding exclusion of divorced and remarried people from communion.

Your foreword to The Gospel of the Family appears to leave us with little doubt: outsiders are not welcome.

As you have said, “The sooner the wounded, the lukewarm, and the outsiders realise that substantial doctrinal and pastoral changes are impossible, the more the hostile disappointment (which must follow the reassertion of doctrine) will be anticipated and dissipated.”

Respectfully, I have a number of questions I’d like to consider with you; conscious, of course, that neither of us in our grappling can claim to really know the mind of Christ.

So, what was it that our Lord had in mind when he instituted the Eucharist with these self-emptying words, “This is my body, this is my blood?” Whose hunger was he responding to? Who was welcome? And what are the implications for our Sunday worship and beyond? 

Well, we do know this: The tax collectors and sinners were all crowding round to listen to him, and the Pharisees and scribes complained saying, ‘This man welcomes sinners and eats with them …’ (Lk 15:2-3) 

And this: It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. Go and learn the meaning of the words: ‘Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice.’ And indeed I came to call not the upright, but sinners. (Mt 9:12-13)

And this: Let anyone who is thirsty come to me!

Let anyone who believes in me come to drink! (Jn 7:38)

And this: When he arrived at the Pharisee’s house and took his place at table, suddenly a woman came in, who had a bad name in the town … She covered his feet with kisses and anointed him … the Pharisee said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet, he would know … what sort of person [was] touching him and what a bad name she has …’ (Lk 7:36-39)

And this: They were at supper … and he got up from table, removed his outer garments … and began to wash his disciples’ feet(Jn 13:2, 4, 5) 

And this: Peter said …‘You know it is forbidden for Jews to mix with people of another race or visit them; but God has made it clear to me that I must not call anyone profane or unclean … God has no favourites … and who am I to stand in God’s way?’ (Acts 10:28, 34 & 11:17)

Could it be, given the exclusivity of our Communion, that when we proclaim these words we are potentially condemning ourselves as well?

Just think: Jesus, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of sinners (Lk 7:34), real and present in our Breaking of Bread. Wow. Extraordinary. Out of this world. We actually believe this … don’t we?

If we answer in the affirmative, there are profound consequences: are we not also compelled to look beyond the in-crowd and welcome outsiders; are we not also compelled to take risks: like the risk of being labelled and pilloried for sharing our table with those we are not supposed to; for doing something that is forbidden by law. I am not thinking here of people who do not care. I am concerned for those who are hungry for love and long to share even the crumbs from the table.

Can any of us truly look at our Lord and Master and say without a profound sense of foreboding: ‘Yes, I am a follower; but you must understand there are rules …’

His disciples were hungry and began to pick ears of corn and eat them. The Pharisees noticed it and said to him, ‘Look, your disciples are doing something that is forbidden on the Sabbath’. (Mt 12:1-2)

If the Eucharist is essentially an encounter with the real presence, rather than essentially an institutional-cum-cultic event, then surely the Master’s social interactions make it abundantly clear: hunger, not worthiness underpins Table Fellowship. To allow the law, cultic statutes, and theology to take precedence over mercy and love and encounter, is tantamount to perpetuating the hard line rigour of those Pharisees who complained bitterly and moralised pompously about so many things.

Their approach fostered a cold, superficial temple-based religion. But Jesus invited his followers to a change of heart, a heart oriented to the one called, Abba – Father : a relational, God-based faith.

Indeed, if Jesus himself was bound by the strictures of his religious tribe and the social mores of his day, he would never have encountered the woman at the well because ‘Jews, of course, do not associate with Samaritans’ (Jn 4:10). Thankfully, he was not. Thus, a women consigned to the margins, and thirsting for love, was afforded one-on-one time with the One who risked everything to offer her living water.

Yet, despite the extraordinary inclusiveness and openness of our foot washing Master; not to mention the accusations his behaviour attracted – blasphemy, law-breaking, ‘prince of devils’ – there are still those who insist that the meal instituted by him who emptied himself, taking the form of a slave (Phil 2:7) be an exclusive, High Church event with all the accoutrements, pomp and ceremony, do’s and don’ts, and rules about who’s in and who’s out, as if the Holy One needs protection and distancing from an encounter with the great unwashed.

If this non-relational Temple-centred worship takes hold, then we too leave ourselves open to the criticism:

Now here, I tell you, is something greater than the Temple. And if you had understood the meaning of the words: ‘Mercy is what pleases me, not sacrifice’, you would have not condemned the blameless. For the Son of Man is master of the Sabbath. (Mt 12:5-8)

And if, in the depth of our being, we believe Jesus is real and present at the breaking of bread, then how do we justify the exclusion of so many? Can we in good conscience continue to turn away those longing to drink from the well-of-life because Catholics, of course, do not break bread with …? 

There can be neither Jew nor Greek, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can neither be male nor female – for you are all one in Christ Jesus. (Gal 3:28-29)

I do not presume to know the mind of Pope Francis either, but his musings on spiritual worldliness seem especially apt:

[There] are those who ultimately trust only in their own powers and feel superior to others because they observe certain rules or remain intransigently faithful to a particular Catholic style from the past. A supposed soundness of doctrine or discipline leads to a narcissistic and authoritarian elitism, whereby instead of evangelising, one analyses and classifies others, and instead of opening the door of grace, one exhausts his or her energies in inspecting and verifying. (Evangelii Gaudium #94) 

In some people we see an ostentatious preoccupation for the liturgy, for doctrine and for the Church’s prestige, but without any concern that the Gospel have a real impact on God’s faithful people and the concrete needs of the present time. In this way, the life of the Church turns into a museum piece or something which is the property of a select few … The mark of Christ, incarnate, crucified and risen, is not present; closed and elite groups are formed, and no effort is made to go forth and seek out those who are distant or the immense multitudes who thirst for Christ. (Evangelii Gaudium #95)

It prompts the question: has a simple, inclusive and profound ‘family’ meal been overwhelmed by an impersonal and, often times, sterile institutional sacrifice; one that tends towards mass exclusion?

Peace and regards,

Fr Peter Day, Parish Priest, Corpus Christi  (source)

Archdiocese of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia

Priests talking about celibacy

Thomas Doyle interviewed by Frontline (05 Sept 2013)

Q: You’ve talked about the illusion of celibacy. What do you mean exactly by that?

Thomas_P_Doyle2A: Many, many priests are involved in long-term relationships; many are involved in a series of short-term relationships; many have had occasional sexual relationships with men or women. If you’re in the world, as I was for many, many years, I saw it. I saw it around me. So I think it is illusory, and I think what’s mainly illusory about it is that it somehow is necessary to have mandatory celibacy to have an effective priesthood, and I think that’s where the illusion becomes total, because the priesthood, as a form of ministry and sharing the life of Christ, would probably be immensely more effective if married men were allowed and if priests were not mandated to be celibate.   (source)

Sexual Abuse Survivors as the Unsung Heroes of Church Reform

Sexual Abuse Survivors as the Unsung Heroes of Church Reform

by Thomas Doyle  (02 August  2014)

Thomas_P_Doyle2A letter sent by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana to the papal nuncio in June, 1984, was the trigger that set in motion a series of events that has changed the fate of the victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and clergy of all denominations. The letter informed the nuncio that the Gastel family had decided to withdraw from a confidential monetary settlement with the diocese. It went on to say they had obtained the services of an attorney and planned to sue the diocese.

This long process has had a direct impact on much more than the fate of victims and the security of innocent children and vulnerable persons of any age. It has altered the image and role of the institutional Catholic Church in western society to such an extent that the tectonic plates upon which this Church rests have shifted in a way never expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.

I cannot find language that can adequately communicate the full import of this monstrous phenomenon. The image of a Christian Church that enabled the sexual and spiritual violation of its most vulnerable members and when confronted, responded with institutionalized mendacity and utter disregard for the victims cannot be adequately described as a “problem,” a “crisis” or a “scandal.” The widespread sexual violation of children and adults by clergy and the horrific response of the leadership, especially the bishops, is the present-day manifestation of a very dark and toxic dimension of the institutional Church. This dark side has always existed. In our era it has served as the catalyst for a complex and deeply rooted process that can be best described as a paradigm shift. The paradigm for responding to sexual abuse by clergy has shifted at its foundation. The paradigm for society’s understanding of and response to child sexual abuse had begun to shift with the advent of the feminist movement in the early seventies but was significantly accelerated by the mid-eighties. The paradigm of the institutional Church interacting in society has shifted and continues to do so as the forces demanding justice, honesty and accountability by the hierarchy continue their relentless pressure. The Catholic monolith, once accepted by friend and foe alike as a rock-solid monarchy, is crumbling.

The single most influential and forceful element in this complex historical process has not been the second Vatican Council. It has been the action of the victims of sexual abuse.

There are a few of us still standing who have been in the midst of this mind and soul-boggling phenomenon from the beginning of the present era. We have been caught up and driven by the seemingly never-ending chain of events, revelations, and explosions that have marked it from the very beginning and will continue to mark it into the future.

It has had a profound impact on the belief systems and the spirituality of many directly and indirectly involved. My own confidence and trust in the institutional church has been shattered. I have spent years trying to process what has been happening to the spiritual dimension of my life. The vast enormity of a deeply ingrained clerical culture that allowed the sexual violation of the innocent and most vulnerable has overshadowed the theological, historical and cultural supports upon which the institutional Church has based its claim to divinely favored status. All of the theological and canonical truths I had depended upon have been dissipated to meaninglessness.

Some of us who have supported victims have been accused of being dissenters from orthodox church teaching. We have been accused of being anti-Catholic, using the sexual abuse issue to promote active disagreement with Church positions on various sexual issues. These accusations are complete nonsense. This is not a matter of dissent or agreement with Church teachings. It is about the sexual violations of countless victims by trusted Church members. It is not a matter of anti-Catholic propaganda but direct opposition to Church leaders, policies or practices that enable the perpetrators of sexual abuse and demonize the victims. It is not a matter of defaming the Church’s image. No one has done a better job of that than the bishops themselves.

For some of us the very concept of a personal or anthropocentric god has also been destroyed, in great part by an unanswerable question: If there is a loving god watching over us, why does he allow his priests and bishops to violate the bodies and destroy the souls of so many innocent children?”

Those of us who have been in twelve step movements are familiar with the usual format recommended for speakers: we base our stories on a three-part outline – what it was like before, what happened, and what it is like now. This is the format I want to use as I look back on thirty years and try to describe where I think we have been and where we are going. Much to the chagrin of the hard-core cheerleaders for the institutional Church, there is no question that the victims and survivors of the Church’s sexual abuse and spiritual treachery have set in motion a process that has changed and will continue to change the history of the Catholic Church. The Catholic experience has prompted members of other denominations to acknowledge sexual abuse in their midst and demand accountability. It has also forever altered the response of secular society to the once untouchable Churches.

What It Was Like Before

The basic facts need no elaboration. The default response to a report of child, adolescent or adult sexual abuse was first to enshroud it in an impenetrable blanket of secrecy. The perpetrator was shifted to another assignment. The victim was intimidated into silence. The media knew nothing and if law enforcement of civil officials were involved, they deferred to the bishop “for the good of the Church.”

A small number of perpetrators were sent to special church-run institutions that treated them in secrecy and in many instances, released them to re-enter ministry. The founder of the most influential of these, Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, firmly believed that no priest who had violated a child or minor should ever be allowed back in ministry and should be dismissed from the priesthood. He made his unequivocal beliefs known to bishops, to the prefect of the Holy Office (1962) and to Pope Paul VI in a private audience in 1963. He was ignored.

What Happened

The Lafayette case involving Gilbert Gauthe was the beginning of the end of the default template. I suspect that none of the major players in the case had any idea of the magnitude of what they were involved in. I was one of them and I certainly could never have imagined how this would all play out.

The Lafayette case sparked attention because of the systemic cover-up that had gone on from before Gilbert Gauthe was ordained and continued past his conviction and imprisonment (see In God’s House, a novel by Ray Mouton, based on the events of this case). Jason Berry was singlehandedly responsible for opening up the full extent of the ecclesiastical treachery to the public. Other secular media followed suit. The story was picked up by the national media and before long other reports of sexual abuse by priests were coming in from parishes and dioceses not only in the deep south but in other parts of the country (Required reading! Lead Us Not Into Temptation by Jason Berry).

The report or manual, authored by Ray Mouton, Mike Peterson and I, is the result of our belief that the bishops didn’t know how to proceed when faced with actual cases of sexual violation and rape by priests. Many of the bishops I spoke to at the time admitted they were bewildered about what to do. None expected the series of explosions that were waiting just over the horizon. I asked several if a document or short manual of some sort would help and the responses were uniformly affirmative. Some of the bishops I consulted with were men I had grown to respect and trust. I believed they would support whatever efforts we suggested to deal with the developing, potentially explosive situation. Peterson, Mouton and I did not see it as an isolated, one-time “problem.” Rather, we saw it is as a highly toxic practice of the clerical culture that needed to be recognized and rectified.

Some of the men I consulted with and to whom I turned for support and guidance, in time became major players in the national nightmare. The two most prominent were Bernard Law and Anthony Bevilacqua, both men whom I once counted as friends.

It was not long before I realized that the major force of opposition was the central leadership of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the General Secretariat in particular. We had initially hoped the Bishops’ conference would look at the manual and consider the action proposals that accompanied it. The main blockage was, I believe, at the level of the general secretariat and the executive leadership. It was bad enough that they simply ignored the effort to help but they delivered a serious blow to their credibility when they made public statements to the effect that they knew everything that was in the manual and already had programs and protocols in place. When questioned by the media about this they were forced to admit that these protocols and policies were not written down.

Throughout this period the three of us were hopeful that the opposition was not representative of the entire hierarchical leadership. We wanted to believe that the pushback from the Conference was the reaction of a small group and that it was based on a turf battle between the Bishops Conference and the Papal nuncio. Our realization that the reactionary attitude was more extensive began when the bishops, through the office of the general council, publicly accused Mouton, Peterson and I of creating the manual and the making the recommended action proposals because we saw the growing problem as a potential source of profit and hoped to sell our services to the various dioceses. At this point the three of us had to accept the painful reality that episcopal leadership was far more interested in their own image and power than in the welfare of the victims. It was becoming very clear that in the Church we were trying to help, integrity was a scarce commodity.

At the recent Vatican celebrations for Saint John XXIII and former pope John Paul II, George Weigel and Joaquin Navarro-Valls created an outrageous fantasy about the role of John Paul II, claiming that he knew nothing until after the 2002 Boston debacle. This was a blatant lie. John Paul II was given a 42 page detailed report on the sex abuse and cover-up in Lafayette LA during the last week of February 1985. It was sent as justification for the request from the papal nuncio that a bishop be appointed to go to Lafayette to try to find out exactly what was going on. The report was carried to Rome by Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia precisely because the nuncio wanted it to go directly to the pope and not be sidetracked by lower level functionaries. The pope read the report and within four days the requested appointment came through. The bishop in question was the late A.J. Quinn of Cleveland who turned out to be a big part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.

Quinn visited Lafayette two times and accomplished nothing. We were suspicious of his intentions by the end of 1985 and quite certain by 1986. In 1988 he wrote to the nuncio: “The truth is, Doyle and Mouton want the Church in the United States to purchase their expensive and controvertible leadership in matters relating to pedophilia…The Church has weathered worse attacks…So too will the pedophile annoyance eventually abate.” (Quinn to Laghi, Jan. 8, 1988). Archbishop Laghi didn’t buy it, evident from his cover letter to me: “While I do not subscribe to the conclusions drawn in this correspondence, I want you to know of some of the sentiments expressed in some quarters…” (Laghi to Doyle, Jan. 18, 1988). In 1990 Quinn addressed the Canon Law Society of America and advised that if bishops found information in priests’ files they did not want seen they should send the files to the papal nuncio to be shielded by diplomatic immunity. Quinn, a civil lawyer as well as a canon lawyer, was then subjected to disbarment proceedings as a result of his unethical suggestion.

The papal nuncio, the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, was supportive of our efforts and was in regular telephone contact with the Vatican. There were very few actual written reports sent over although all of the media stories we received were transmitted to the Holy See. Cardinal Silvio Oddi, then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, visited the nunciature in June and asked to be briefed. I was deputed for the task. By then we had more information on the rapidly growing number of cases in all parts of the country. I recall that by that time we were aware of 42 cases, which I naively thought was a very significant number. I prepared a lengthy report that was not only detailed but also graphic in its content. I read the report to the cardinal and responded to his many questions. At the end of the meeting at which only he and I were present, he announced that he would take this information back to the Holy Father. “Then there will be a meeting of the heads of all the dicasteries [Vatican congregations] and we will issue a decree.” I understand that he did take the information to the pope but there never was a meeting of the heads and no decree ever came forth.

Our efforts to get the bishops’ conference to even consider the issues we set forth in our manual, much less take decisive action, were a total failure. Looking back from the perspective of thirty years direct experience, I believe they acted in the only way they knew how which was completely self-serving with scandalous lack of sympathy for the victims and their families. There were individual bishops who were open to exploring the right way to proceed but the conference, which represented all of the bishops, was interested in controlling the fallout and preserving their stature and their power.

We sent individual copies of the manual to every bishop in the U.S. on December 8, 1985. By then we still had hope that perhaps someone would read it and stand up at the conference meetings and call the bishops’ attention to what we had insisted was the most important element, namely the compassionate care of the victims.

In October 1986 Mike Peterson had flown to the Vatican to speak with officials at the Congregation for Religious and the Congregation for Clergy. He was in a better position than anyone else to expose this issue to them because he knew how serious and extensive the problem of sexually dysfunctional priests was from his experience as director of St. Luke Institute. He returned from Rome dejected, angry and discouraged. I remember picking him up at the airport and going to dinner. They not only were not interested but brushed his concerns off as an exaggeration of a non-problem. Mike was willing to keep trying with the American bishops. He arranged for a hospitality suite at the hotel where the bishops were having their annual November meeting. He invited every bishop to come and discuss the matter of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy. There were over three hundred bishops present. Eight showed up.

Between 1986 and 2002 there were several important developments in the unfolding history of clergy sexual abuse. I would like to mention a few that influenced the historical process.

1. The bishops addressed the issue secretly in their annual meetings. The direction was consistent: defense of the dioceses and the bishops. There was never any mention of care for the victims.

2. The media continued to cover the issue from coast to coast generally showing sympathy for the victims and outrage at the Church’s systemic cover-up.

3. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the US bishops in June 1993 which clearly revealed his attitude.

4. The bishops formed a committee in 1993 and produced a four-volume handbook. The handbook and the committee had no appreciable impact.

5. There were increasing cases of sexual abuse brought before the civil courts. There were also several very public explosions during this period: the Thomas Adamson related cases in St. Paul; St. Anthony Seminary, Santa Barbara CA; St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary WI; Fr. James Porter, Massachusetts; the Rudy Kos trial, Dallas, 1997. None of these jarred the bishops loose from their arrogant, defensive position and none served as a sufficient wake-up call for the broad base of lay support for the bishops.

6. The “problem” which John Paul II declared was unique to the United States, was amplified in other countries: Mt. Cashel, St. John’s Newfoundland, 1989; Brendan Smyth and the fall of the Irish government in December 1994; the exposure and forced resignation of Hans Cardinal Groer, archbishop of Vienna, September 1995. So much for the U.S. as the scapegoat!

7. SNAP was founded by Barbara Blaine and The Linkup by Jeanne Miller in 1989.

8. The first gathering of clergy abuse victims took place in Arlington IL in October 1992, sponsored by the Linkup. The main speakers were Jason Berry, Richard Sipe, Andrew Greeley, Jeff Anderson and Tom Doyle.

9. In 1999 John Paul II ordered the canonical process against Marcial Maciel-Degollado, founder and supreme leader of the Legion of Christ, shelved. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the truth of Maciel’s crimes against minors and removed him from ministry. In 2009 the Vatican announced that Maciel had led a double life, having six possible children with two women.   [Benedict XVI delayed the investigation of Marciel until he had fast-forwarded the canonization of John Paul II without any taint of his favoritism of Marciel.]

The pope made a total of 11 public statements about clergy sexual abuse between 1993 and his death in 2005. The letters showed little comprehension of the horrific nature of the problem and no acknowledgement of the bishops’ enabling role. The culprits were, in the pope’s eyes, secular materialism, media sensationalism and sinful priests. He never even acknowledged much less responded to the thousands of requests from individual victims.

The U.S. bishops issued a handful of press releases and a number of intramural statements, most of which came from the office of the General Council. To their credit their general counsel sent out a memo to all bishops in 1988 which contained suggested actions which, had they not been ignored by the bishops, might have made a significant difference.

The bishops’ approach in the U.S. and elsewhere followed a standard evolutionary process: denial, minimization, blame shifting and devaluation of challengers. The bishop’s carefully scripted apologies expressed their regret for the pain suffered. Never once did they apologize for what they had done to harm the victims. Likewise there was never any concern voiced by the Vatican or the bishops’ conference about the spiritual and emotional damage done to the victims by the abuse itself and by the betrayal by the hierarchy. It became clear by the end of the nineties that the problem was not simply recalcitrant bishops. It was much more fundamental. The barrier to doing the right thing was deeply embedded in the clerical culture itself.

January 6, 2002 stands out as a pivotal date in the evolution of the clergy abuse phenomenon. The Boston revelations had an immediate and lasting impact that surprised even the most cynical. I was not surprised by the stories because I had been in conversations first with Kristin Lombardi who wrote a series based on the same facts for the Boston Phoenix in March 2001 and later with the Globe Spotlight Team. The continuous stream of media stories of what the bishops had been doing in Boston and elsewhere provoked widespread public outrage.

The bishops’ cover-up of sexual abuse and the impact on victims were the subject of special reports by all of the major news networks and countless stories in the print media. Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report and the Economist all published cover stories about the “scandal.” The number of lawsuits dramatically increased and the protective deference on the part of law enforcement and civil officials, once counted on by the clerical leadership, was rapidly eroding. Grand jury investigations were launched in three jurisdictions within two months with several more to follow. It was all too much for the bishops to handle. They could not control it. They could not ignore it and they could not minimize it or make it go away.

The most visible result of the many-sided pressure on the hierarchy was the Dallas meeting. This was not a proactive pastorally sensitive gesture on the part of the bishops. It was defensive damage control, choreographed by the public relations firm of R.F. Binder associates. The meeting included addresses by several victim/survivors (David Clohessy, Michael Bland, Craig Martin, Paula Rohbacker), a clinical psychologist (Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea), a lay theologian (Scott Appleby), a Catholic author (Margaret O’Brien Steinfels). The tangible result of the meeting was the Charter for the Protection of Young People and the Essential Norms. The impact of Charter and the Norms has clearly been mixed. The lofty rhetoric of the bishops in the charter has not been followed up with action, to no one’s surprise.

The Essential Norms have not been uniformly and consistently followed. As proof we can look to the steady number of exceptions from 2002 whereby known perpetrators are either allowed to remain in ministry or are put back in ministry. The National Review Board showed promise at the beginning, especially after the publication of its extensive report in 2004. This promise sputtered and died as the truly effective members of the board left when they realized the bishops weren’t serious, and were replaced by others who essentially did nothing but hold positions on an impotent administrative entity that served primarily as an unsuccessful public relations effort to support the bishops’ claim that they were doing something.

Sexual violation of minors by clerics of all ranks has been part of the institution and the clerical culture since the days of the primitive Christian communities [source?]. Over the centuries the stratified model of the Church, with the clergy in the dominant role and the laity relegated to passive obedience, has held firm and allowed the hierarchy to maintain control over the issue of sexually dysfunctional clerics who, by the way, have ranged from sub-deacons to popes.

The paradigm shift, evident in the institutional Church since the years leading up to Vatican Council II, laid the foundation for a radically different response in the present era. The victim/survivors, their supporters and the secular society have shaped and guided the direction and evolution of the clergy sexual abuse nightmare. The Vatican and the bishops throughout the world have remained on the defensive and have never been able to gain any semblance of control. Those very few bishops who have publicly sided with the survivors have been marginalized and punished. The general response has been limited to the well-tuned rhetoric of public statements, sponsorship of a variety of child-safety programs, constant promises of change and enlightenment and above all, the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in attorneys who have used every tactic imaginable and many that are not imaginable to defeat and discredit victims and prevent their clients from being held accountable. The apologetic public statements, filled with regret and assurances of a better tomorrow, are worthless from the get-go, rendered irrelevant and insulting by the harsh reality of the brutal tactics of the bishops’ attack dogs.

While the institutional Church has essentially remained in neutral, various segments of civil society have reacted decisively. Between 1971 and 2013 there have been at least 72 major reports issued about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The early reports (three in the seventies) were about sexual dysfunction in general among the clergy but since 1985 they have been about sexual abuse of minors. Some of these have been commissioned by official bodies and are the result of extensive investigations such as the U.S. Grand Jury reports, the Belgian Parliamentary Report and the Irish Investigation Commission Reports. They come from several countries in North America and Europe. A study of the sections on causality has shown a common denominator: the deliberately inadequate and counter-productive responses and actions of the bishops.

Entering the Third Phase

The unfolding of the events in this contemporary era can be divided into three phases: the first begins in 1984 and culminates at the end of 2001. The second begins with the Boston revelations and extends to the beginning of 2010. The present phase began in March 2010 when the case of Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee revealed that the Vatican was directly connected to the cover-up. In this case, in spite of the pleas of an archbishop (Weakland) and two bishops (Fliss and Sklba) that Murphy, who had violated at least 200 deaf boys, be laicized, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with Ratzinger as Prefect, refused. Instead, he allowed the culprit to live out his days as a priest.

The three phases are arbitrary demarcation points based on the level of exposure of the Church’s true policies and actions. The difference is only in the depth and extent of information discovered about the bishops’ responses to decades of reports of sexual violation by clerics.

In 1993 and 1994 Pope John Paul II attempted to persuade the world that sexual abuse by clergy was an American problem, caused primarily by media exaggerations, materialism and failure to pray. At the conclusion of his first public statement on sexual abuse, a 1993 letter to the U.S. bishops, he said, “Yes dear brothers, America needs much prayer lest it lose its soul.” It is ironic that this comment came from the leader of an organization that had not so much lost but gave up its soul. By 2014 there was no doubt anywhere that geographic boundaries are irrelevant. This highly toxic dimension of the institutional Church and its clerical sub culture has been exposed in country after country on every continent except Antarctica, where there are no bishops, no priests, and no minors. The presence of God is found in a few scientists, some U.S. military and a lot of penguins.

The focus had finally shifted to the Vatican. In September 2011 the Center for Constitutional Rights assisted in the filing of a case before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In January 2014 the U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child delivered a blistering criticism of the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse by clerics. In May 2014 the U.N. Commission on Torture issued a report equally critical of the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse claims and its opposition to U.N. policies. This is truly momentous. The world’s largest religious denomination has been called to account by the community of nations.

What Its Like Now

The foregoing paragraphs have provided a sparse but factually correct description of the second element of the 12 Step presentation, “What Happened.” Now I would like to shift the focus to “What Its Like Now.” Any conclusions at this point, thirty years later, are obviously very temporary since this is not the end of the issue but simply a milestone along the way.

I’d like to summarize by asserting that in spite of all that has happened since 1984, I do not believe there has been any fundamental change in the hierarchy. It may be true that individual bishops have either changed or have been compassionately supportive all along but in general the hierarchy is behaving today just as it did in 1985. The dramatic events in St. Paul-Minneapolis are the latest example of this intransigence. After all that has been revealed over these thirty years, one would think that the constant exposure of the official Church’s duplicity and dishonesty as well as the vast amount of information we have about the destructive effects of sexual abuse on the victims and their families, would cause some substantial change in attitude, direction and behavior. The bishops and even the pope have claimed they have done more to protect children than any other organization. There may be some validity to this claim but what is also true is that there has not been a single policy, protocol or program that was not forced on them. In 30 years they have not taken a single proactive move to assist victims or extend any semblance of compassionate pastoral care. Programs and policies promoting awareness or mandating background checks do nothing for the hundreds of thousands of suffering victims. The bishops as a group have done nothing for them either because they will not or more probably because they cannot.

There seems to be little sense in continuing to demand that bishops change their attitudes or at least their behavior. We have been beating our heads against the wall for a quarter of a century and the best we can hope for is that the sound will reverberate somewhere out in the Cosmos and eventually cause a stir before the end of time or the Second Coming, whichever comes first.

Fatal Flaws within Church Structures

The institutional Church’s abject failure has revealed fundamental deficiencies in essential areas, all of which have been directly instrumental in perpetrating and sustaining the tragic culture of abuse:

1. The erroneous belief that the monarchical governmental structure of the Church was intended by god and justifies the sacrifice of innocent victims “

2. The belief that priests and bishops are superior to lay persons, entitled to power and deference because they are ontologically different and uniquely joined to Christ.

3. A lay spirituality that is dependent on the clergy and gauged by the degree of submission to them and unquestioned obedience to all church laws and authority figures.

4. An obsession with doctrinal orthodoxy and theological formulations that bypasses the realities of human life and replaces mercy and charity as central Catholic values.

5. An understanding of human sexuality that is not grounded in the reality of the human person but in a bizarre theological tradition that originated with the pre-Christian stoics and was originally formulated by celibate males of questionable psychological stability.

6. The clerical subculture that has propagated the virus of clericalism, which has perpetuated a severely distorted value system that has influenced clergy and laity alike.

Has Pope Francis brought a new ray of hope? I believe he is a significantly different kind of pope but he is still a product of the monarchical system and he is still surrounded by a bureaucracy that could hinder or destroy any hopes for the radical change that is needed if the institutional Church is to rise about the sex abuse nightmare and become what it is supposed to be, the People of God. The victims and indeed the entire Church are tired of the endless stream of empty statements and unfulfilled promises. The time for apologies, expressions of regret and assurances of change is long gone. Action is needed and without it the pope and bishops today will simply be more names in the long line of hierarchs who have failed the victims and failed the church.

I believe there is reason to hope, not because of the engaging personality of Pope Francis. This pope’s overtures to victims are grounded on three decades of courageous efforts by survivors. Without these efforts nothing would have changed. Survivors have changed the course of history for the Church and have accelerated the paradigm shift. If the Catholic Church is to be known not as a gilded monarchy of increasing irrelevance but as the People of God, the change in direction hinted at by the new pope’s words and actions are crucial and if he does lead the way to a new image of the Body of Chris it will be due in great part because the survivors have led the way for him.

Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.D.A.C.

Annual SNAP Conference, Chicago, Illinois

August 2, 2014

Further Sources

Frontline interview with Tom Doyle

Cardinal O’Malley Challenged

The Beginning of Lent, 2014

Dear Cardinal O’ Malley,

JackSheaI am writing to you and to all the ordinaries of the dioceses in the United States to ask you and your fellow bishops in your role as teachers to provide a clear and credible theological explanation of why women are not being ordained to the priesthood in the Catholic Church. I write not to challenge the teaching of Ordinatio Sacerdotalis on women’s ordination. Rather, my concern is the theological explanation of this teaching— theology being, as Anselm said, “faith seeking understanding.”

Two years ago, I wrote to all of you with the same request. At that time, I was teaching in the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. The teaching on women’s ordination was extremely important for many of the students—women, of course, but men as well—and a number of them were simply leaving the church because the theological explanation that was offered made no sense to them. Before my letter, I had already stepped aside from active ministry as a priest until women are ordained. After my letter, Jesuit-run Boston College terminated me as a professor. My provincial, with the urging of several archbishops, has given me two “canonical warnings” threatening me with being “punished with a just penalty” for voicing my concerns.

In case you are wondering who is writing to you, I am an Augustinian priest, solemnly professed for over 50 years. Before serving at Boston College (2003-2012), as Professor of the Practice of Pastoral Care and Counseling and Dual Degree Director (MA/MA and MA/MSW), I taught in the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education at Fordham University (1981-2002). My areas of expertise are in pastoral care and counseling (Fellow, American Association of Pastoral Counselors) and the psychology of religious development (Ph.D., Psychology of Religion), areas that today would be considered practical theology. I also have graduate degrees in theology, philosophy, pastoral counseling, and social work.

I mention this background because as a practical theologian I too have questions about the theological explanation of why women are not ordained. In all of my study, in all of my training, in all of my counseling experience, and in all of my years of teaching I have not come across a single credible thinker who holds that women are not fully able to provide pastoral care. Likewise, I have not come across a single credible thinker who holds that women are deficient in religious development or maturity. From the perspective of practical theology— a theology of the living church, a theology that takes experience seriously—I find absolutely nothing that does not support the ordination of women to priesthood.

It seems that Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, the document on the ordination of women that the Vatican and the bishops keep pointing to, is actually an historical explanation of the issue. It looks back at what it we think Jesus was doing in appointing the 12 Apostles. An historical explanation, however, raises a number of questions. Was commissioning the 12 a unique event? Did Jesus mean to ordain the way we understand ordination today? Was it the intent of Jesus to inaugurate ministry only males could carry out? Did he ever say this? Was Jesus only doing what he thought would work best in the patriarchal culture of his day? What was it about the religious role of the scribes and the Pharisees—all of whom were male—that so incensed Jesus? Was Jesus patriarchal? Did he see women as inferior to men? Did Jesus envision women in ministry? Finally, what about the history of ordination in the last two thousand years, an amazingly checkered history that clearly includes women?

The problem with historical explanations is that they suffer from an incomplete logic. They cannot complete the circle. On their own, they cannot say that “what was” also “had to be.” On their own, they cannot say that this particular event must have this particular meaning. History necessarily involves interpretation. Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, for example, gives a paradigmatic meaning to the commissioning of the 12 Apostles. Could not another perfectly logical interpretation of the meaning of that event be that a number of patriarchal men—then and now—were and are dead set against women having any authority over them?

If history is not a good proof, it does have many valid uses. A very brief look at the history of slavery, the history of racism/religious intolerance, and the history of women’s inferiority in the church is helpful in challenging our tendencies to absolutize as well as in chastening some our hallowed self-evaluations. Each of these three issues is about what makes us equal and fully human. Each is the cause of incredible violence—often in the name of God—violence that is beyond all telling.

  • Slavery—That men, women, and children would become slaves either by conquest, retribution, or inferiority was seen as something almost “natural.” Strangely, Jesus and St. Paul did not seem to have had a lot of problems with it. For centuries the permissibility of slavery was seen as part of “the ordinary infallible teaching” of the church. Over time, however, and in conjunction with racism and religious intolerance, the thinking in the church changed dramatically. Now, the inherent evil of slavery is part of “the ordinary infallible teaching” of the church.
  • Racism/Religious Intolerance—Jews came to be seen as “perfidious” and were severely persecuted. Muslims were “infidels” and had crusades led against them by the popes. It is fair to say that for centuries the inferiority of Jews and Muslims was part of “the ordinary infallible teaching” of the church. Later, with the colonization of the Americas and then of Africa, the question was whether or not these native peoples were really human beings with souls like those of European males. It took a long time with immense suffering, but eventually the utter abhorrence of racism and religious intolerance became part of “the ordinary infallible teaching” of the church.
  • The Inferiority of Women—Women’s inferiority was seen as “natural” by the cultures that cradled Christianity. In our history, this inferiority was generously reinforced by the teachings of St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas. These two wonderful theologians— arguably the two most influential in the West—not only questioned whether women had valid souls, but they outdid each other in describing women in the most vile and profoundly dehumanizing ways. No thinking in the church is more virulent and intractable than the patriarchal strain that so disrespects women. When the Vatican reasoned in the 1970s and 1980s that women could not be ordained because “they are not fully in the likeness of Jesus,” it was affirming an “ordinary infallible teaching” with roots incredibly deep in the substrate of our church.

A theological explanation weighs any issue against the core of the Christian message. It obviously takes historical events and their interpretations into account, but the focus is on those understandings of the Christian faith so central that our Christian identity and the very meaning of the faith are at stake. In their ordinary infallible teaching that women cannot be ordained in the church because “they are not fully in the likeness of Jesus,” the Vatican and the bishops were offering a much- needed theological explanation of the issue. It was an explanation meant to complete the circle, an explanation meant to settle the question of women’s ordination in terms of Christian identity.

Unfortunately, this teaching that “women are not fully in the like- ness of Jesus”—qualifying, as it does, as a theological explanation —is utterly and demonstrably heretical. This teaching says that women are not fully redeemed by Jesus. This teaching says that women are not made  whole by the saving favor of our God. This teaching says that the “catholic” church is only truly “catholic” for males. In time, many Vatican officials and bishops rejected the ordinary infallible teaching they had just affirmed. Now they say: “Of course, women are fully in the likeness of Jesus in the church.” Respectful words to be sure, but are they real?

We revere Jesus as priest, as prophet, and as ruler. If “women are fully in the likeness of Jesus” in our church, they fully share in the priesthood of Jesus—but in fact women are completely excluded from the priesthood of Jesus. If “women are fully in the likeness of Jesus” in our church, they speak for God as Jesus did—but women are completely without voice in the church; as if they were children they cannot read the Gospel at the liturgy and are forbidden to preach the Word. If “women are fully in the likeness of Jesus” in our church, then they [should] fully share in the formal authority of our church. . . .

Sincerely,
John J. Shea, O.S.A.

Father Roy Bourgeois: Refused to Keep Silent

Church Threatens to Excommunicate Father Roy Bourgeois, Founder of the School of the Americas Watch

Editor, Tikkun Magazine
Posted:
Updated:

RoyBourgeois2 RoyBourgeoisBenningRoy Bourgeois isn’t just any priest. He is, along with John Dear and Sister Joan Chittister, one of the most courageous Catholic voices for peace and non-violence and the founder and leader of the School of the Americas Watch (SOAW). The ultimatum and ex-communication would be effective the day before the annual demonstration of the SOAW at Fort Bennings (next to Columbus, Georgia) where the School of the Americas is housed and where it trains South and Central American police forces in the techniques of torture, repression, and counter-insurgency. We at the Network of Spiritual Progressives have been calling for support for this demonstration which begins on Friday and goes till Sunday.

So the current conservative leadership of the Catholic Church will now in one fell swoop be able to rid itself of the progressive Catholic who has created the most important spiritual progressive demonstration taking place anywhere in the country for peace and against torture, and simultaneously terrify other priests into not daring to question the Church’s doctrines on women.

It should be noted that the very progressive teachings of the Church against war and poverty have not served as a basis for the excommunication of any priest or other church officials who have publicly supported the US war in Iraq or Afghanistan or supported the notion of a violent war against terror. As the politically conservative forces have come to power in the Church after, and in part to undo, the more liberal spirit of Vatican II, they have used their offices in the hierarchy against those who support progressive causes, but not against those who support authoritarian and reactionary and violent causes. So, while they make their own tenth century decision to exclude women from the clergy on a pedestal of non-disputability, they leave Jesus’ teachings against violence and for social justice on no such pedestal, thus allowing priests who support economic oppression and wars an open path to challenge Church teachings or distorting how they might be applied, while preventing any serious dissent when it comes to matters of sexuality and gender.

We urge all those who feel strongly opposed to this attempt to silence dissent within the Church and to oust its most celebrated peace-priest to take the following steps:

1. Write to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the
Faith at the Vatican, Rome, Italy and protest.

2. Write to your local newspapers and protest.

3. Write to your local Catholic church and priests and
protest.

4. Write to the National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, and to national news sources like the New York Times and Washington Post and CNN and NPR and let them know that the NSP [Network of Spiritual Progressives] is protesting this move against Father Bourgeois and re-affirming our commitment to equal rights for women plus our commitment to strengthen the demonstrations in Fort Benning until the training of counter-insurgency experts (a way of saying torturers and repressors of democratic movements for justice and peace) is stopped and made illegal in the U.S.

Now here’s the key: we want to communicate this message in a respectful way to the Catholic world. We are not anti-Catholic. Our organization contains many faithful Catholics. We seek to recruit faithful Catholics into the NSP, and we do not wish to give them the impression that we are challenging their entire faith. Moreover, at the SOAW demonstration this weekend you’ll be able to meet many Catholics who have anti-war, anti-violence and pro-peace and generosity perspectives–and they represent a major part of American Catholicism. So please help us communicate our outrage at the attempt to silence or excommunicate Father Roy Bourgeois. But do so in a way that indicates respect and genuine caring connection to the many Catholics who remain committed to peace and social justice but who may be afraid to speak out on this issue for fear of losing their connection with the Church (including many many Jesuits, for example, who share our progressive peace-oriented and social-justice oriented perspectives and would be part of the NSP, but are fearful that they too would be thrown out of their livelihood should they speak out clearly on these topics).

Nor is it for progressives like Roy Bourgeois merely a matter of livelihood that is at stake — these are people of faith who feel nurtured by and deeply connected to the Church, and to the teachings of Jesus, and feel that on some specific matters their Church, which they love deeply, has mistaken priorities that do not reflect the true teachings of Jesus, and they wish to correct policies that they feel are out of sync with God’s word as they understand it. This kind of dissent, of course, was what led up to the convening of Vatican II, and the ideas that manifested there were only possible because of previous dissenters in the Church finally being given a chance to have real voice. So it is distressing to the dissenters today to find that the freedoms to dispute parts of the “official teachings” that made possible previous changes in the Church’s doctrines are now being withdrawn by Pope Benedict, who himself was part of this same process of limiting dissent when he headed the same Church Office that now seeks to silence Roy Bourgeois.

Please read the materials below so that you can see more
documentation of the issues discussed here.

Rabbi Michael Lerner
RabbiLerner@Tikkun.org

 

******************************************************************************

Printer's 2d ed. Cover 5-11-13Hard copies of My Journey from Silence to Solidarity (now in its second edition) are available for $7.00 (which includes shipping). Place your order by contacting the author at Roy Bourgeois, P. O. Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903 or by contacting the editor. Price breaks for bulk orders are available.

This book is freely available here for reading or downloading in the .pdf format.

 

The fact: Bourgeois, a priest for 36 years, attended the ordination of
Janice Sevre-Duszynska in Lexingon, Ky., Aug. 9 and preached a
homily.

If Bourgeois is excommunicated at the end of 30 days, it would
come just before the mass rally and protest against the U.S.
Army’s School of the Americas at Fort Benning, Ga., that Bourgeois
has organized for 19 years. In recent years, more than 15,000
people, many of them Catholic university students, have joined the
three daylong rally and demonstration.

Bourgeois was not immediately available for comment. The text of
Bourgeois’ letter follows.

———————————————————————–

Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903
November 7, 2008

TO THE CONGREGATION FOR THE DOCTRINE OF THE FAITH, THE VATICAN

RoyBourgeoisBenningI was very saddened by your letter dated October 21, 2008, giving me 30 days to recant my belief and public statements that support the ordination of women in our Church, or I will be excommunicated.

I have been a Catholic priest for 36 years and have a deep love for my Church and ministry.

When I was a young man in the military [serving in Vietnam], I felt God was calling me to the priesthood. I entered Maryknoll and was ordained in 1972.

Over the years I have met a number of women in our Church who,
like me, feel called by God to the priesthood. You, our Church
leaders at the Vatican, tell us that women cannot be ordained.

With all due respect, I believe our Catholic Church’s teaching on
this issue is wrong and does not stand up to scrutiny.   A 1976
report by the Pontifical Biblical Commission supports the research
of Scripture scholars, canon lawyers and many faithful Catholics
who have studied and pondered the Scriptures and have concluded
that there is no justification in the Bible for excluding women
from the priesthood.

As people of faith, we profess that the invitation to the ministry
of priesthood comes from God. We profess that God is the Source of
life and created men and women of equal stature and dignity. The
current Catholic Church doctrine on the ordination of women
implies our loving and all-powerful God, Creator of heaven and
earth, somehow cannot empower a woman to be a priest.

Women in our Church are telling us that God is calling them to the
priesthood. Who are we, as men, to say to women, “Our call is
valid, but yours is not.” Who are we to tamper with God’s call?

Sexism, like racism, is a sin. And no matter how hard or how long
we may try to justify discrimination, in the end, it is always
immoral.

Hundreds of Catholic churches in the U.S. are closing because of a
shortage of priests. Yet there are hundreds of committed and
prophetic women telling us that God is calling them to serve our
Church as priests.

If we are to have a vibrant, healthy Church rooted in the
teachings of our Savior, we need the faith, wisdom, experience,
compassion and courage of women in the priesthood.

Conscience is very sacred. Conscience gives us a sense of right
and wrong and urges us to do the right thing. Conscience is what
compelled Franz Jagerstatter, a humble Austrian farmer, husband
and father of four young children, to refuse to join Hitler’s
army, which led to his execution. Conscience is what compelled
Rosa Parks to say she could no longer sit in the back of the bus.
Conscience is what compels women in our Church to say they cannot
be silent and deny their call from God to the priesthood.

Conscience is what compelled my dear mother and father, now 95, to
always strive to do the right things as faithful Catholics raising
four children. And after much prayer, reflection and discernment,
it is my conscience that compels me to do the right thing. I
cannot recant my belief and public statements that support the
ordination of women in our Church.

Working and struggling for peace and justice are an integral part
of our faith. For this reason, I speak out against the war in
Iraq. And for the last eighteen years, I have been speaking out
against the atrocities and suffering caused by the School of the
Americas (SOA). Eight years ago, while in Rome for a conference on
peace and justice, I was invited to speak about the SOA on Vatican
Radio. During the interview, I stated that I could not address the
injustice of the SOA and remain silent about injustice in my
Church. I ended the interview by saying, “There will never be
justice in the Catholic Church until women can be ordained.” I
remain committed to this belief today.

Having an all male clergy implies that men are worthy to be
Catholic priests, but women are not.

According to USA TODAY (Feb. 28, 2008) in the United States alone,
nearly 5,000 Catholic priests have sexually abused more than
12,000 children. Many bishops, aware of the abuse, remained
silent. These priests and bishops were not excommunicated. Yet the
women in our Church who are called by God and are ordained to
serve God’s people, and the priests and bishops who support them,
are excommunicated.

Silence is the voice of complicity. Therefore, I call on all
Catholics, fellow priests, bishops, Pope Benedict XVI and all
Church leaders at the Vatican, to speak loudly on this grave
injustice of excluding women from the priesthood.

Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador was assassinated because of his defense of the oppressed. He said, “Let those who have a
voice, speak out for the voiceless.”

Our loving God has given us a voice.  Let us speak clearly and
boldly and walk in solidarity as Jesus would, with the women in
our Church who are being called by God to the priesthood.

In Peace and Justice,
Rev. Roy Bourgeois, M.M.
PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903

 

Reform of the papacy intended by Pope Francis

Reform of the papacy intended by Pope Francis

by Sandro Magister

The prior of Bose, Enzo Bianchi, and archbishop emeritus of San Francisco John R. Quinn are presenting it as a given that Francis will completely overhaul the role of the pope. But some acts of this pontificate contradict their expectations.

VATICAN CITY, August 7, 2014 – There are those who maintain, and even say they are certain, that Pope Francis wants to reform the papacy to the point of “destructuring” the role of the Roman pontiff as it was developed in the second millennium of the Christian era, beginning with the Gregorian reform and continuing through the magisterium of the Council of Trent and of Vatican I.

This seems to be the gist of two significant declarations that have come in recent weeks.

On July 23, after Pope Francis appointed him as a consultant for the pontifical council for the promotion of Christian unity, Bianchi released shattering statements to the website Vatican Insider.

> “Francesco vuole raggiungere l’unità anche riformando il papato”

The position that the prior of Bose received is not of great significance in itself. But it received enthusiastic coverage in the media, given the vast influence of Bianchi’s words in the Catholic world – and not only among progressives – and his regular contributions to the front pages of important Italian secular newspapers like “la Repubblica” and “La Stampa.”

But there have been few critical observations on the promotion – in the Vatican dicastery that deals with ecumenical dialogue – of the founder of a monastic experience that already presents itself as interconfessional, with a Lutheran among its long-standing members, highly open and friendly toward the Protestant and Orthodox but intransigent and disdainful with the traditionalist Lefebvrists, the only ones for whom it reserves the label of “schismatic.”

Particularly tough was the commentary of Msgr. Antonio Livi, a former dean of the faculty of philosophy of the Pontifical Lateran University, who went so far as to accuse Bianchi of attributing his own musings to the pope.

> Bianchi come Scalfari: usa il papa per i suoi fini

But what did Bianchi assert that was so explosive?

The prior of Bose told Vatican Insider that he thinks “the pope wants to achieve unity also by reforming the papacy, a papacy no longer feared in the words of ecumenical patriarch Bartholomew, with whom Francis has a bond of friendship.”

Explaining that the reform of the papacy means “a new balance between synodality and supremacy,” Bianchi added:

“The Orthodox Church exercise synodality but not primacy, we Catholics have papal primacy but we lack synodality. There can be no synodality without primacy and there can be no primacy without synodality. This would help create a new style of papal primacy and episcopal government.”

The Piedmontese monk then evoked an innovation that could also have a practical translation. He said that the synod of bishops “has been around since the Second Vatican Council,” that the council of nine cardinals who assist Francis in the reform of the curia “was the pope’s idea,” but added that there is a possibility in the future of “an episcopal organization that would assist the pope in governing the Church without calling papal primacy into question.”

We now come to the other attestation on Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s intentions concerning a reform of the papacy.

Here the protagonist is the American archbishop John R. Quinn, 85, head of the diocese of San Francisco from 1977 to 1995 – when he wanted to leave at the age of only 67 partly in the wake of sexual abuse that had involved a couple of his coworkers in the diocesan curia – and president of the United States episcopal conference from 1977 to 1980.

On July 7 Quinn told the American newspaper National Catholic Reporter that Bergoglio said to him, a few days before the conclave that saw him ascend to the see of Peter:

“I’ve read your book and am hoping it will be implemented.”

The book by Quinn that Cardinal Bergoglio read and approved of dates back to 1999 and is entitled “The Reform of the Papacy: The Costly Call to Christian Unity.”

The volume presents itself as a reflection on the 1995 encyclical by John Paul II “Ut Unum Sint.” An encyclical, according to the author of the book, “clearly in rupture with the past and in many aspects revolutionary,” in that “it extols the synodal model of the Church of the first millennium and insists on the fact that the pope is a member of the college of bishops and that primacy must be exercised in a collegial manner.”

“Ut Unum Sint” in short – still according to Quinn – “testifies to the fact that accepting Vatican I and its teaching on the primacy of jurisdiction does not exclude a broader understanding of primacy” and “makes it clear that Vatican I was not the last word.”

From this postulate Quinn derives a series of concrete proposals concerning the governance of the Church.

With regard to the episcopal conferences for example, in spite of the restrictive norms contained in the 1998 motu proprio on their theological and juridical nature, Quinn maintains that they are to be considered a true realization of episcopal collegiality and have a real magisterial and even doctrinal role.

Concerning the synod of bishops, he indicates the need to remove this from the control of the Roman curia, excluding the automatic inclusion of dicastery heads.

Regarding the appointment of bishops Quinn hopes, with respect for the “authentic ecclesiology” of Vatican II, that the role of nuncios in the selection of candidates will be drastically reduced, giving a preeminent role instead to the bishops of the relative ecclesiastical provinces and in subordination to the presidents of the episcopal conferences.

In practice, therefore, “the list of names selected by the bishops should be sent to Rome directly by the archbishop of the metropolitan province, with the indication of the agreement of the president of the conference,” while “there should be no discussion about the list between the bishops of the province and Rome,” much less any role of the nuncio. And if Rome were not to find itself in agreement about the list, “this should be sent back to the province for further consideration and amendment.” To all of this should be added a substantial involvement of priests and laypeople, but without any politicization, factionalism, and breaking of confidentiality.

These new modalities in the election of bishops would serve – still according to Quinn – to obviate the “grave problems” raised by the current procedures. And he cites the delay in filling vacant sees, the excessive “emphasis” on selecting candidates who provide doctrinal reliability, the transfer of a bishop from one see to another, the multiplication of auxiliaries.

Quinn also maintains that exclusivity in the election of the pope should be removed from the college of cardinals. He suggests admitting to the conclave the patriarchs of the Eastern Catholic Churches, without bestowing the scarlet on them, having at least a few presidents of the episcopal conferences participate in the vote, and allowing significant lay organizations to indicate to the electors the qualities that they would like to see in the new pope.

Finally, for Quinn, one crucial issue in a reform of the papacy aimed at Christian unity is not only that of centralization, but also that of the reform of the Roman curia.

A Roman curia that above all should have fewer bishops and fewer priests. And in this regard Quinn brands as “an abuse of the sacrament of sacred orders and the office of the bishop” the fact that secretaries of the Vatican dicasteries are systematically elevated to the episcopal dignity.

So these are the reforms that Quinn was hoping for at the end of the last millennium, the ones that then-cardinal Bergoglio, on the eve of the 2013 conclave, is alleged to have said – according to Quinn himself – that he wanted to implement.

The question arises naturally. Now that Bergoglio has become pope and has the power to do it, what intention does he have of promoting, fostering, and even imposing the application of these reforms?

Some of the decisions that Francis has made so far seem to move in this direction, like the creation of the council of nine and the reinforcement of the synod of bishops.

But others move in the opposite direction, like the continual elevation as bishops of secretaries not only of the curial offices, but also of the governorate and of the synod itself.

With regard to the delicate question of episcopal appointments in the dioceses – a topic that was touched upon at the last meeting of the “C9” – it is not known if the practice indicated by Quinn has or has not begun to be implemented in Argentina. What is certain is that none of the numerous episcopal provisions in that country from March of 2013 until now has undergone the scrutiny of the members of the congregation for bishops at the Vatican. Just as the appointments to the dioceses of Isernia and Locri in Italy did not undergo its scrutiny.

In Argentina, in addition to his successor in Buenos Aires, Pope Francis has made about twenty other episcopal appointments, eight of which (seven after an unexplained resignation between the publication of the appointment and the consecration) however concern auxiliary bishops. In this field as well, therefore, the Argentine pontiff does not seem to want to follow the indications of Quinn’s vaunted book.

But we are less than a year and a half from the beginning of the pontificate. Too soon to understand how far Francis would like to push in an actual reform of the papacy.   (source)

___________

The article in the “National Catholic Reporter” with Quinn’s statement relative to Bergoglio:

> Quinn to priest group: Church poised at a moment of far-reaching consequences

__________

English translation by Matthew Sherry, Ballwin, Missouri, U.S.A.

Tony Flannery: Hero of Conscience

Historian Dermot Keogh on the new book by the popular priest Fr Tony Flannery

by Dermot Keogh 15/09/2013

Historian Dermot Keogh on the new book by the popular priest Fr Tony Flannery

Dermot Keogh

Published 15/09/2013 | 05:00

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– See more at: http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/review-tony-flannerys-question-of-conscience-29578612.html#sthash.ZZ0Idyp9.dpufbookFlannery

bookFlanneryWritten by the well known Redemptorist priest Tony Flannery, this book ought to be his reflections on more than 40 years’ service to the Gospel and to the Catholic community in Ireland.

During that time, Fr Flannery preached tirelessly at parish and school retreats around the country, holding novenas in towns and cities that frequently attracted large congregations to usually empty churches. In the process he became one of the best known and most valued spiritual leaders in the country among ordinary Catholics.

That’s what this book should have been about – his service to the Catholic community in Ireland and what that has taught him.

Instead, this slim volume, with a foreword by former President Mary McAleese, chronicles Fr Flannery’s painful journey since February 2012 when he was ‘silenced’ by the Vatican. Being ‘silenced’ means he was forbidden from saying Mass, hearing confessions, conducting retreats, leading novenas or otherwise practising his ministry as a priest.

So one of the best-known and most-valued priests in Ireland, a man regarded with respect and affection by so many Catholics here, has been stopped in his tracks – his life’s mission brought to an abrupt halt.

Why? Because of his work as a founder member of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP). And also because of some passages in articles he had written for the Redemptorist magazine Reality.

Both of these matters had come to the attention of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome, the body Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger presided over before becoming Pope. The CDF has existed for centuries and is the powerful church body based in the Vatican whose job it is to promote and safeguard Catholic doctrine and take action when there are transgressions among the clergy or the faithful.

The CDF presumably did not like the perceived potential challenge to the existing power structure in the Catholic Church in Ireland which the ACP represented. And the CDF presumably did not like some of the views Fr Flannery had put forward for discussion in his monthly column in Reality, on issues like the attitude of the church to sexuality, birth control, celibacy and the ordination of women, among other topics.

When the weight of the Vatican fell on him, he had not seen it coming.

TonyFlanneryRemote from the workings of the Holy See because of his pastoral ministry here, Fr Flannery explains in his book how it came as “a shock, a bolt from the blue” when he was telephoned to be told that the CDF “had their sights” on him.

Over the following period he was told that he had to issue a public statement, saying he accepted all the moral teachings of the church and also that he accepted that women could never be priests.

He was also warned about the requirement for total secrecy about the involvement of the CDF and forbidden from having any dealings with the media on the matter.

Born in 1948, at 12 he entered the minor seminary of the Redemptorists in Limerick as did two of his brothers.

He went to the major seminary at 17 and was ordained 10 years later. Very typical of his generation, his formation was infused with the changing ideas generated by the Second Vatican Council for which he never lost enthusiasm.

He confesses that for someone who grew up in the 1950s it was not easy to shed the fear of authority. Summoned to Rome to meet the superior general of his order in February 2012, he was a worried man and even more so when he was told that he was in serious trouble and that Cardinal Lavada, head of the CDF, was taking personal charge of his portfolio.

Fr Flannery was handed two A4 pages on un-headed and unsigned paper by his superiors and it was made clear to him that they had come from the CDF.

The first page contained four extracts from articles he had written for Reality relating to structures in the church and the need for reform, the nature of priesthood, the new missal, priestly celibacy and the role of women in the church. On the second page, his superiors were ordered to “seek to impress upon Fr Flannery the gravity of his situation”.

He was not to be allowed to write or to give newspaper interviews.

Further, he was to be instructed to withdraw from his leadership role in the ACP and also from public ministry and to undertake a period of spiritual and theological reflection.

He was angry as he wondered who “those faceless people were who had produced this document” of diktats and given them to his superiors. He wanted to confront his CDF accusers face to face, to show them that their quotations from his articles were cited out of context. He has not, to date, been given that opportunity.

This book shows how its author grew very critical of his Redemptorist superiors in Rome as the process developed.

Fr Flannery argues that, instead of standing up for him, they had bought into the way of thinking and acting of the CDF and of repeatedly going ‘cap-in-hand’ to the Vatican authorities.

He became convinced that his superiors in Rome had “signed up to the Vatican’s way of doing things, which decreed that when it came to the test I as an individual would not be of any real significance . . . [and] I would be viewed as dispensable”.

Returning to Ireland, Fr Flannery wound up his pastoral duties. He did not publish or give interviews and entered into a period of reflection in a retreat house in Ireland. However, he did not stop work with the ACP, which openly supported him.

In early summer last year Fr Flannery received another document from the Vatican, the contents of which exacerbated an already delicate situation. He had two meetings with his superior general, one in Ireland and the other in Rome.

In Rome he was told there had been another “very angry letter” from Cardinal Levada.

Back in Ireland, his period of reflection having ended, he resumed his pastoral duties while preparing a response to the new Vatican document, which he sent to his superiors in late June last year.

Fr Flannery was relieved when he heard that the outcome of the meeting had been positive.

But there was a new twist to the story.

By September last year, with a new head of the CDF – Cardinal Muller – in place, there were further demands that the author’s statement be amended.

New instructions to discipline Fr Flannery were issued: he was to go on a further extended period of reflection to a retreat house outside of Ireland and he was to cease all involvement with the ACP.

Believing he was being bullied by the CDF and his superior general, he again felt angry and prepared an extensive response.

But under direction from the Vatican, when Fr Flannery refused to cease contact with the ACP, his superior general invoked rule 73, number 3, of the order.

This imposed a ‘formal precept of obedience’ which obliged him to obey or run the risk of being dismissed from the order. Fr Flannery refused to conform or sign any pledge.

In mid-January this year, the author went public, giving an interview to The New York Times and holding a press conference in Dublin outlining his case.

He has continued to speak in favour of church reform since then.

The election of Pope Francis this year may help find another way to deal with dissent in the Catholic Church which does not involve the abrogation of the rights of the individual and the use of a system of personnel management that is as archaic as it is unchristian.

It will be interesting to see if the new regime in the Vatican will allow Fr Flannery to explain his views and to clarify matters face to face.

While this volume is a very personal account, and other voices need to be heard and recorded, I am glad as an historian that this book has been published.

I wish the author – and other ‘silenced’ Irish priests – the strength and courage to see things through to a just end.  (source)

Dr Dermot Keogh is Emeritus Professor of History at University College Cork.

Fr. Flannery’s website=http://www.tonyflannery.com