Irish priests’ group calls for halt in permanent diaconate training 

The Association of Catholic Priests of Ireland has called on the Irish bishops to halt the introduction of permanent deacons in their dioceses until the Vatican’s commission on women deacons has concluded its report and Pope Francis has made a decision based on its findings.

A posting on the National Catholic Reporter website (Sept. 5, 2017) notes that a member of the association’s leadership team, Fr. Roy Donavan, said on Aug. 9 that introducing permanent deacons without women is “extending patriarchy.”

Donovan, who is a priest of the Archdiocese of Cashel and Emly, made his comments following news that Archbishop Kieran O’Reilly is setting up a group there to research the introduction of the diaconate ministry for the first time.

The Vatican announced the commission in August 2016, which Pope Francis established to look at the history of women deacons in the early church, with a view to possibly opening the diaconate to women.

For the entire NCR report, click here.


Petition to ordain married men sent to Rockville Centre bishop

Pointing to column written in March by Jesuit Fr. Thomas Reese citing Pope Francis’ thoughts on the possibility of ordaining married men to the priesthood, James Stubenrauch, 93, a World War II veteran and resident of Dominican Village, a retirement community on Long Island, had 52 village residents sign a petition asking Rockville Centre Bishop John O. Barres for the church to “move without delay” in allowing ordination of married men to the priesthood and asked Barres to “make every effort to advance this important proposal.”

According to the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 7, 2017), the petition was mailed to Bishop Barres in June, after Stubenrauch spoke in favor of his proposal at a discussion group on social and religious issues held Tuesday mornings at the retirement facility.

The report notes that Bishop Barres responded to the petition this month with a latter addressed to “Residents of Dominican Village.” He wrote, “It is a blessing to observe people with fervent faith in our Diocese who are concerned about the needs of the Church. I certainly will bring your concerns to my own prayers and reflection.” Celibacy wasn’t mentioned.

For the entire NCR report by Peter Feuerherd, click here.


The changing face of Christianity in America

A study released on Sept. 6 by the Public Religious Research Institute notes that almost every Christian denomination in the US shows signs of growing diversity as white Christians, once the majority in most mainline Protestant and Catholic denominations, give way to younger members, who tend to be of different races.

The study titled “America’s Changing Religious Identity” and reported on the Religion News Service website (Sept. 6, 2017), notes that Americans are continuing to move away from organized religion altogether, as atheists, agnostics and those who say they do not identify with any particular religion — the group known as the “nones”  — hold steady at about one-quarter (24 percent) of the population. However, the report goes on to state that even though atheists and agnostics account for about one-fourth of all the religiously unaffiliated, 16 percent of the unaffiliated identify as “a religious person.”

The report also notes that the Catholic Church is headed south. A majority of Catholics now live in the American South (29 percent) or West (25 percent). That’s a reverse from four decades ago, when 7 in 10 Catholics lived in the Northeast or the Midwest.

For the entire RNS report, click here.

Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today

Teaching and Learning the Love of God: Being a Priest Today, by Joseph Ratzinger is a collection of homilies about priesthood that span six decades of Pope Benedict XVI’s life. The volume was inspired in part when Pope Benedict inaugurated the Year for Priests in 2009 commemorating the 150 anniversary of the death of St. John Vianney, the patron saint of parish priests. The 384-page paperback is arranged in the following manner: Homilies, Priestly Ordination, Diaconal Ordination, First Mass, and Jubilee Homilies. In the Foreword, Pope Francis writes, “Every time I read the works of Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI, it becomes clear to me that he pursues theology ‘on his knees’ and still does, …..” Cardinal Gerhard Müller writes the Introduction. Available for the special web price of $21.21 from Ignatius Press. Also available in e-book format.

To order the paperback version online, go to:

US bishops call plan to end DACA “reprehensible”

The president and vice president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops released a statement on Sept. 5 calling the cancelling of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program “reprehensible.”

The statement from USCCB President Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, along with USCCB Vice President, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, including Bishop Joe S. Vásquez of Austin, chairman, Committee on Migration, and Bishop Joseph J. Tyson of Yakima, chairman of the Subcommittee on Pastoral Care of Migrants, Refugees, and Travelers, states in part that the action to the program, also known as DACA causes unnecessary fear for DACA youth and their families

The DACA program began in 2012 by executive order of former president Barack Obama, provided no legal status or government benefits but did provide recipients with temporary employment authorization to work in the United States and reprieve from deportation.

The statement continues, “The Church has recognized and proclaimed the need to welcome young people: ‘Whoever welcomes one of these children in my name welcomes me; and whoever welcomes me does not welcome me but the one who sent me’ (Mark 9:37). Today, our nation has done the opposite of how Scripture calls us to respond. It is a step back from the progress that we need to make as a country.”

For the entire statement, click here.


Hurricane Harvey devastates SE Texas dioceses

Pope Francis expressed his solidarity to all affected by Hurricane Harvey. In a message from Vatican secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin to Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops and Archbishop of Galveston-Houston, the cardinal conveyed  “the assurance of (Pope Francis’) spiritual closeness and pastoral concern to all those affected by the violent hurricane that swept through the states of Texas and Louisiana in these days,”

Calling for prayers and solidarity with all those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, Cardinal Daniel Di Nardo, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, stated in part,  “The effects of this storm continue to put people in harm’s way, with horrific scenes playing out all around, such as those of people trapped on their rooftops as water continues to rise around them. Many dioceses of the Church in the United States have been affected; many others will be as the storm continues.”

He went on the say, “The USCCB is working closely with affected local dioceses, Catholic Charities USA and St. Vincent de Paul, along with other relief organizations, to assess the needs on the ground. In the next couple of days, we will share more about the best ways to assist those in the Gulf region with material needs based on the latest information.”

For the full text of Cardinal Parolin’s letter, click here.

Catholic Charities USA is taking monetary donations on its website:

For the USCCB News Release, click here.

For the Catholic News Service (Aug. 28, 2017) report, click here.


US bishops release 2017 Labor Day statement

The US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development has released its annual Labor Day Statement for 2017.

The letter covers a wide variety of topics related to people and work close to the heart of Pope Francis. Quoting from Pope Francis’ May 27, 2017 meeting of the World of Work at Iiva Factory in Genoa, Italy, “. . . . There has always been friendship between the Church and work, starting with a working Jesus.  Where there is a worker, there is the interest and the gaze of love of the Lord and of the Church.”

The letter extols the role of unions and quotes heavily from Pope Francis in noting that unions are prophetic when they “give voice to those who have none …”

The statement notes the nature of work is to support the flourishing of the family and decries “unthinkable ways as they [workers] become victims of labor trafficking.”

“We thank God for the vocation of work, which, when healthy, “anoints” with dignity, helps children grow into adults, and strengthens cooperation across all people in our society.“

For the USCCB News Release, click here.

For a direct link to the US Bishops the Labor Day Statement. click here.

Heeding Pope Francis call to “Go to the people”  

The Outreach Commission of St. Charles Borremeo Parish in Lima, OH decided to find out why people who were registered in the parish were not coming to church. So, heeding the message of Pope Francis to go out to the peripheries, the commission decided to visit every parishioner for whom they had a record. The project began a year ago and will conclude at Christmas.

The September 2017 edition of the PEP Newsletter, a publication of the Parish Evaluation Project, focuses on the parish initiative and how the Outreach Commission decided to conduct it.

For the results so far and what the commission and pastor are learning, click here.

30th annual National Vocations Awareness Seminar

The J.S. Paluch 30th annual Vocations Awareness Seminar was held from August 21-23, 2018 at the Embassy Suites O’Hare Rosemont Hotel in Rosemont, IL.

About 75 national and international leaders from Catholic vocation, evangelization, youth, young adult, multicultural ministries, Catholic marriage and family groups, Serra International, and religious and diocesan formation and communication organizations attended the event. The theme of the seminar was “Creating a Culture of Vocations: Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going.”

NFPC president, Father Tony Cutcher, represented the priests’ organization.

For the entire press release, click here.

Pope Francis: The Works of Mercy

Pope Francis: The Works of Mercy is collection of Pope Francis’ homilies, talks, and writings on mercy. In his reflections, Pope Francis treats each of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy, which encompass Part 2 and 3 of the 190-page volume . Each topic opens a window on a larger theme. For instance, under “Welcoming the stranger,” Pope Francis reflects on the plight of refugees and immigrants. His reflections on “Visiting the prisoner” are set in the context of his own pastoral visits to prisons, and his self-description of himself as “a man who has experienced forgiveness . . . who has been saved from his many sins.” The source of each reflection is noted. The Foreword is written by Jesuit Father James Keenan. Available for $16.00 from Orbis Books, P.O. Box 302, Maryknoll, NY 10545. Tel: (800) 258-5838. Fax: (914) 941-7005. E-mail: [email protected]. Web site: