Pope speaks to newly appointed bishops

In an address to a class of new bishops on Thursday, Sept. 14, Pope Francis told them, “I invite you … to cultivate an attitude of listening, growing in the freedom to renounce your own point of view when it is shown to be partial and insufficient in order to assume God’s point of view.”

The pope told them their job is to “humbly — without attention-seeking or narcissistic behavior — offer your own concrete witness of union with God, serving the Gospel that is cultivated and helped to grow in that specific situation.”

Authentic discernment,” the pope said, “although definitive at every step, is always an open and necessary process, and can be completed and enriched.”

Although Francis did not make any direct reference on Thursday to the controversy surrounding his document on the family, Amoris Laetitia, and its cautious opening to allowing divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, many of the new bishops in his audience may have heard an echo of those debates at several points.

Pope Francis was speaking Sept. 14 at the end of several days of meetings at the Vatican for priests appointed as bishops for the first time, hosted by the Congregations for Bishops and the Oriental Churches and commonly referred to as “new bishops’ school.”

For the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 14, 2017) summary, click here.

For the Crux (Sept. 14, 2017) report, click here.

For the Crux report from Sept. 9, 2017, click here.

Council of Cardinals talk about ongoing reform of the Curia

In meeting for the 21st time from Sept. 11-13 at the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace, one of the key talking points of the Pope’s Council of Cardinal’s was the selection of personnel in the Roman Curia, with an emphasis on making it more international, and with a higher number of young people and women and ongoing reform of the Roman Curia

In a briefing about the meeting, Vatican spokesman, Greg Burke, said the group’s reflection included Pope Francis’ December 2016 address to the Roman Curia and his October 2015 address on the role of the Synod of Bishops in the church.

Burke called the latest meeting of the council, the group’s 21st since its creation in 2013, a “pause for reflection” led by Honduran Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, its coordinator.

The next meeting is scheduled for Dec. 11-13.

For the Catholic News Agency report posted on the Crux website (Sept. 14, 2017), click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 13, 2017) summary, click here.

Pope gives bishops’ conferences more leeway on liturgical matters

In a motu proprio (on his own initiative) titled Magnum Principium released on Sept. 9, Pope Francis wrote in part, that the “Apostolic See …. publish liturgical books, recognise adaptations approved by the Episcopal Conference according to the norm of law, and exercise vigilance that liturgical regulations are observed faithfully everywhere.” (Bold indicates change.)

In a note accompanying the motu proprio’s release, the Vatican’s Congregation for the Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments states the confirmatio process “leaves responsibility for the translation, presumed to be faithful, to the pastoral and doctrinal munus of the bishops’ conference.”

The document has references to Canon 838, which is the canon that was altered to give the world’s bishops’ conferences more say in the translations.

In a commentary for America by Father Michael Ryan, a priest of the Archdiocese of Seattle, who stated, “And for every priest and every person in the pews who has struggled for the past six years through awkward, convoluted, overblown, “sacral” prayers, this is a happy day,” click here.

For the America magazine report and links to the document and accompanying notes, click here.

For Fr. John Baldovin, SJ’s commentary, click here.

For the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 9, 2017) summary, click here.

US bishops issue statement clarifying position on advocacy and care for migrants and refugees  

The Chief Communications Officer for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement on Sept. 8, calling a claim of the former chief strategist for the Trump administration that the US bishops support undocumented immigrants in order to fill churches and make money, “preposterous,” “outrageous,” and “insulting.”

The former chief strategist, Steve Bannon, made the claim to “60 Minutes” host Charlie Rose in a segment scheduled to be aired nationally on Sunday, Sept. 10.

The statement by James Rogers, the bishops’ communications chief, notes in part, “It is preposterous to claim that justice for immigrants isn’t central to Catholic teaching. It comes directly from Jesus Himself in Matthew 25, ‘For I was hungry and you gave me food…a stranger and you welcomed me.’ Immigrants and refugees are precisely the strangers we must welcome.”

The statement goes on to note, “The witness of the Catholic bishops on issues from pro-life to pro-marriage to pro-health care to pro-immigration reforms is rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ rather than the convenient political trends of the day. We are called not to politics or partisanship, but to love our neighbor  …. Our pro-immigration stance is based on fidelity to God’s word and honors the American dream. For anyone to suggest that it is out of sordid motives of statistics or financial gain is outrageous and insulting.”

For the entire USCCB statement, click here.

For a summary from the National Catholic Reporter (Sept. 7, 2017), click here.

For a report from the Catholic News Agency (Sept. 7, 2017), click here.


Links to stories and commentaries about Pope Francis’ trip to Columbia

Below is a list of links to stories and commentaries about the pope’s six day trip to Columbia gathered from the following websites: National Catholic Register, National Catholic Reporter, and Crux.






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.

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: www.catholiccharitiesusa.org.

For the USCCB News Release, click here.

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