Friday, December 2, 2011

Hans Küng Open Letter to Catholic Bishops

http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStoryPrinter=15996
Note to readers. This letter was first posted on ICN on 19 April 2010. For some reason reappeared on our front page on 4 May 2010 and now carries that date.
Venerable Bishops,
Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, and I were the youngest theologians at the Second Vatican Council from 1962 to 1965. Now we are the oldest and the only ones still fully active. I have always understood my theological work as a service to the Roman Catholic Church. For this reason, on the occasion of the fifth anniversary of the election of Pope Benedict XVI, I am making this appeal to you in an open letter. In doing so, I am motivated by my profound concern for our church, which now finds itself in the worst credibility crisis since the Reformation. Please excuse the form of an open letter; unfortunately, I have no other way of reaching you.

I deeply appreciated that the pope invited me, his outspoken critic, to meet for a friendly, four-hour-long conversation shortly after he took office. This awakened in me the hope that my former colleague at Tubingen University might find his way to promote an ongoing renewal of the church and an ecumenical rapprochement in the spirit of the Second Vatican Council.

Unfortunately, my hopes and those of so many engaged Catholic men and women have not been fulfilled. And in my subsequent correspondence with the pope, I have pointed this out to him many times. Without a doubt, he conscientiously performs his everyday duties as pope, and he has given us three helpful encyclicals on faith, hope and charity. But when it comes to facing the major challenges of our times, his pontificate has increasingly passed up more opportunities than it has taken:

Missed is the opportunity for rapprochement with the Protestant churches: Instead, they have been denied the status of churches in the proper sense of the term and, for that reason, their ministries are not recognized and intercommunion is not possible.

Missed is the opportunity for the long-term reconciliation with the Jews: Instead the pope has reintroduced into the liturgy a preconciliar prayer for the enlightenment of the Jews, he has taken notoriously anti-Semitic and schismatic bishops back into communion with the church, and he is actively promoting the beatification of Pope Pius XII, who has been accused of not offering sufficient protections to Jews in Nazi Germany.

The fact is, Benedict sees in Judaism only the historic root of Christianity; he does not take it seriously as an ongoing religious community offering its own path to salvation. The recent comparison of the current criticism faced by the pope with anti-Semitic hate campaigns – made by Rev Raniero Cantalamessa during an official Good Friday service at the Vatican – has stirred up a storm of indignation among Jews around the world.

Missed is the opportunity for a dialogue with Muslims in an atmosphere of mutual trust: Instead, in his ill-advised but symptomatic 2006 Regensburg lecture, Benedict caricatured Islam as a religion of violence and inhumanity and thus evoked enduring Muslim mistrust.

Missed is the opportunity for reconciliation with the colonised indigenous peoples of Latin America: Instead, the pope asserted in all seriousness that they had been “longing” for the religion of their European conquerors.

Missed is the opportunity to help the people of Africa by allowing the use of birth control to fight overpopulation and condoms to fight the spread of HIV.

Missed is the opportunity to make peace with modern science by clearly affirming the theory of evolution and accepting stem-cell research.

Missed is the opportunity to make the spirit of the Second Vatican Council the compass for the whole Catholic Church, including the Vatican itself, and thus to promote the needed reforms in the church.

This last point, respected bishops, is the most serious of all. Time and again, this pope has added qualifications to the conciliar texts and interpreted them against the spirit of the council fathers. Time and again, he has taken an express stand against the Ecumenical Council, which according to canon law represents the highest authority in the Catholic Church:

He has taken the bishops of the traditionalist Pius X Society back into the church without any preconditions – bishops who were illegally consecrated outside the Catholic Church and who reject central points of the Second Vatican Council (including liturgical reform, freedom of religion and the rapprochement with Judaism).

He promotes the medieval Tridentine Mass by all possible means and occasionally celebrates the Eucharist in Latin with his back to the congregation.

He refuses to put into effect the rapprochement with the Anglican Church, which was laid out in official ecumenical documents by the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, and has attempted instead to lure married Anglican clergy into the Roman Catholic Church by freeing them from the very rule of celibacy that has forced tens of thousands of Roman Catholic priests out of office.

He has actively reinforced the anti-conciliar forces in the church by appointing reactionary officials to key offices in the Curia (including the secretariat of state, and positions in the liturgical commission) while appointing reactionary bishops around the world.

Pope Benedict XVI seems to be increasingly cut off from the vast majority of church members who pay less and less heed to Rome and, at best, identify themselves only with their local parish and bishop.

I know that many of you are pained by this situation. In his anti-conciliar policy, the pope receives the full support of the Roman Curia. The Curia does its best to stifle criticism in the episcopate and in the church as a whole and to discredit critics with all the means at its disposal. With a return to pomp and spectacle catching the attention of the media, the reactionary forces in Rome have attempted to present us with a strong church fronted by an absolutistic “Vicar of Christ” who combines the church’s legislative, executive and judicial powers in his hands alone. But Benedict’s policy of restoration has failed. All of his spectacular appearances, demonstrative journeys and public statements have failed to influence the opinions of most Catholics on controversial issues. This is especially true regarding matters of sexual morality. Even the papal youth meetings, attended above all by conservative-charismatic groups, have failed to hold back the steady drain of those leaving the church or to attract more vocations to the priesthood.

You in particular, as bishops, have reason for deep sorrow: Tens of thousands of priests have resigned their office since the Second Vatican Council, for the most part because of the celibacy rule. Vocations to the priesthood, but also to religious orders, sisterhoods and lay brotherhoods are down – not just quantitatively but qualitatively. Resignation and frustration are spreading rapidly among both the clergy and the active laity. Many feel that they have been left in the lurch with their personal needs, and many are in deep distress over the state of the church. In many of your dioceses, it is the same story: increasingly empty churches, empty seminaries and empty rectories. In many countries, due to the lack of priests, more and more parishes are being merged, often against the will of their members, into ever larger “pastoral units,” in which the few surviving pastors are completely overtaxed. This is church reform in pretense rather than fact!

And now, on top of these many crises comes a scandal crying out to heaven – the revelation of the clerical abuse of thousands of children and adolescents, first in the United States, then in Ireland and now in Germany and other countries. And to make matters worse, the handling of these cases has given rise to an unprecedented leadership crisis and a collapse of trust in church leadership.

There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005). During the reign of Pope John Paul II, that congregation had already taken charge of all such cases under oath of strictest silence. Ratzinger himself, on May 18th, 2001, sent a solemn document to all the bishops dealing with severe crimes ( “epistula de delictis gravioribus” ), in which cases of abuse were sealed under the “secretum pontificium” , the violation of which could entail grave ecclesiastical penalties. With good reason, therefore, many people have expected a personal mea culpa on the part of the former prefect and current pope. Instead, the pope passed up the opportunity afforded by Holy Week: On Easter Sunday, he had his innocence proclaimed “urbi et orbi” by the dean of the College of Cardinals.

The consequences of all these scandals for the reputation of the Catholic Church are disastrous. Important church leaders have already admitted this. Numerous innocent and committed pastors and educators are suffering under the stigma of suspicion now blanketing the church. You, reverend bishops, must face up to the question: What will happen to our church and to your diocese in the future? It is not my intention to sketch out a new program of church reform. That I have done often enough both before and after the council. Instead, I want only to lay before you six proposals that I am convinced are supported by millions of Catholics who have no voice in the current situation.

1. Do not keep silent: By keeping silent in the face of so many serious grievances, you taint yourselves with guilt. When you feel that certain laws, directives and measures are counterproductive, you should say this in public. Send Rome not professions of your devotion, but rather calls for reform!

2. Set about reform: Too many in the church and in the episcopate complain about Rome, but do nothing themselves. When people no longer attend church in a diocese, when the ministry bears little fruit, when the public is kept in ignorance about the needs of the world, when ecumenical co-operation is reduced to a minimum, then the blame cannot simply be shoved off on Rome. Whether bishop, priest, layman or laywoman – everyone can do something for the renewal of the church within his own sphere of influence, be it large or small. Many of the great achievements that have occurred in the individual parishes and in the church at large owe their origin to the initiative of an individual or a small group. As bishops, you should support such initiatives and, especially given the present situation, you should respond to the just complaints of the faithful.

3. Act in a collegial way: After heated debate and against the persistent opposition of the Curia, the Second Vatican Council decreed the collegiality of the pope and the bishops. It did so in the sense of the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter did not act alone without the college of the apostles. In the post-conciliar era, however, the pope and the Curia have ignored this decree. Just two years after the council, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical defending the controversial celibacy law without the slightest consultation of the bishops. Since then, papal politics and the papal magisterium have continued to act in the old, uncollegial fashion. Even in liturgical matters, the pope rules as an autocrat over and against the bishops. He is happy to surround himself with them as long as they are nothing more than stage extras with neither voices nor voting rights. This is why, venerable bishops, you should not act for yourselves alone, but rather in the community of the other bishops, of the priests and of the men and women who make up the church.

4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone: Although at your episcopal consecration you had to take an oath of unconditional obedience to the pope, you know that unconditional obedience can never be paid to any human authority; it is due to God alone. For this reason, you should not feel impeded by your oath to speak the truth about the current crisis facing the church, your diocese and your country. Your model should be the apostle Paul, who dared to oppose Peter “to his face since he was manifestly in the wrong”! ( Galatians 2:11 ). Pressuring the Roman authorities in the spirit of Christian fraternity can be permissible and even necessary when they fail to live up to the spirit of the Gospel and its mission. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy, the changes in the regulations governing mixed marriages, the affirmation of tolerance, democracy and human rights, the opening up of an ecumenical approach, and the many other reforms of Vatican II were only achieved because of tenacious pressure from below.


5. Work for regional solutions: The Vatican has frequently turned a deaf ear to the well-founded demands of the episcopate, the priests and the laity. This is all the more reason for seeking wise regional solutions. As you are well aware, the rule of celibacy, which was inherited from the Middle Ages, represents a particularly delicate problem. In the context of today’s clerical abuse scandal, the practice has been increasingly called into question. Against the expressed will of Rome, a change would appear hardly possible; yet this is no reason for passive resignation. When a priest, after mature consideration, wishes to marry, there is no reason why he must automatically resign his office when his bishop and his parish choose to stand behind him. Individual episcopal conferences could take the lead with regional solutions. It would be better, however, to seek a solution for the whole church, therefore:

6. Call for a council: Just as the achievement of liturgical reform, religious freedom, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue required an ecumenical council, so now a council is needed to solve the dramatically escalating problems calling for reform. In the century before the Reformation, the Council of Constance decreed that councils should be held every five years. Yet the Roman Curia successfully managed to circumvent this ruling. There is no question that the Curia, fearing a limitation of its power, would do everything in its power to prevent a council coming together in the present situation. Thus it is up to you to push through the calling of a council or at least a representative assembly of bishops.


With the church in deep crisis, this is my appeal to you, venerable bishops: Put to use the episcopal authority that was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. In this urgent situation, the eyes of the world turn to you. Innumerable people have lost their trust in the Catholic Church. Only by openly and honestly reckoning with these problems and resolutely carrying out needed reforms can their trust be regained. With all due respect, I beg you to do your part – together with your fellow bishops as far as possible, but also alone if necessary – in apostolic “fearlessness” ( Acts 4:29, 31 ). Give your faithful signs of hope and encouragement and give our church a perspective for the future.

With warm greetings in the community of the Christian faith,
Yours, Hans Küng











































I know that many of you are pained by this situation. In his anti-conciliar policy, the pope receives the full support of the Roman Curia. The Curia does its best to stifle criticism in the episcopate and in the church as a whole and to discredit critics with all the means at its disposal. With a return to pomp and spectacle catching the attention of the media, the reactionary forces in Rome have attempted to present us with a strong church fronted by an absolutistic “Vicar of Christ” who combines the church’s legislative, executive and judicial powers in his hands alone. But Benedict’s policy of restoration has failed. All of his spectacular appearances, demonstrative journeys and public statements have failed to influence the opinions of most Catholics on controversial issues.













































This is especially true regarding matters of sexual morality. Even the papal youth meetings, attended above all by conservative charismatic groups, have failed to hold back the steady drain of those leaving the church or to attract more vocations to the priesthood.

























































You in particular, as bishops, have reason for deep sorrow: Tens of thousands of priests have resigned their office since the Second Vatican Council, for the most part because of the celibacy rule. Vocations to the priesthood, but also to religious orders, sisterhoods and lay brotherhoods are down – not just quantitatively but qualitatively. Resignation and frustration are spreading rapidly among both the clergy and the active laity. Many feel that they have been left in the lurch with their personal needs, and many are in deep distress over the state of the church. In many of your dioceses, it is the same story: increasingly empty churches, empty seminaries and empty rectories. In many countries, due to the lack of priests, more and more parishes are being merged, often against the will of their members, into ever larger “pastoral units,” in which the few surviving pastors are completely overtaxed. This is church reform in pretense rather than fact!

























































And now, on top of these many crises comes a scandal crying out to heaven – the revelation of the clerical abuse of thousands of children and adolescents, first in the United States, then in Ireland and now in Germany and other countries. And to make matters worse, the handling of these cases has given rise to an unprecedented leadership crisis and a collapse of trust in church leadership. There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005).

























































During the reign of Pope John Paul II, that congregation had already taken charge of all such cases under oath of strictest silence. Ratzinger himself, on May 18th, 2001, sent a solemn document to all the bishops dealing with severe crimes ( “epistula de delictis gravioribus” ), in which cases of abuse were sealed under the “secretum pontificium” , the violation of which could entail grave ecclesiastical penalties. With good reason, therefore, many people have expected a personal mea culpa on the part of the former prefect and current pope.

























































Instead,the pope passed up the opportunity afforded by Holy Week: On Easter Sunday, he had his innocence proclaimed “urbi et orbi” by the dean of the College of Cardinals.

























































The consequences of all these scandals for the reputation of the Catholic Church are disastrous. Important church leaders have already admitted this. Numerous innocent and committed pastors and educators are suffering under the stigma of suspicion now blanketing the church. You, reverend bishops, must face up to the question: What will happen to our church and to your diocese in the future?

























































It is not my intention to sketch out a new program of church reform. That I have done often enough both before and after the council. Instead, I want only to lay before you six proposals that I am convinced are supported by millions of Catholics who have no voice in the current situation.

















































































1. Do not keep silent: By keeping silent in the face of so many serious grievances, you taint yourselves with guilt. When you feel that certain laws, directives and measures are counterproductive, you should say this in public. Send Rome not professions of your devotion, but rather calls for reform!













































2. Set about reform: Too many in the church and in the episcopate complain about Rome, but do nothing themselves.






































When people no longer attend church in a diocese, when the ministry bears little fruit, when the public is kept in ignorance about the needs of the world, when ecumenical co-operation is reduced to a minimum, then the blame cannot simply be shoved off on Rome. Whether bishop, priest, layman or laywoman – everyone can do something for the renewal of the church within his own sphere of influence, be it large or small. Many of the great achievements that have occurred in the individual parishes and in the church at large owe their origin to the initiative of an individual or a small group. As bishops, you should support such initiatives and, especially given the present situation, you should respond to the just complaints of the faithful.







3. Act in a collegial way: After heated debate and against the persistent opposition of the Curia, the Second Vatican Council decreed the collegiality of the pope and the bishops. It did so in the sense of the Acts of the Apostles, in which Peter did not act alone without the college of the apostles. In the post-conciliar era, however, the pope and the Curia have ignored this decree. Just two years after the council, Pope Paul VI issued his encyclical defending the controversial celibacy law without the slightest consultation of the bishops. Since then, papal politics and the papal magisterium have continued to act in the old, uncollegial fashion. Even in liturgical matters, the pope rules as an autocrat over and against the bishops.









He is happy to surround himself with them as long as they are nothing more than stage extras with neither voices nor voting rights.





This is why, venerable bishops, you should not act for yourselves alone, but rather in the community of the other bishops, of the priests and of the men and women who make up the church.







4. Unconditional obedience is owed to God alone: Although at your episcopal consecration you had to take an oath of unconditional obedience to the pope, you know that unconditional obedience can never be paid to any human authority; it is due to God alone. For this reason, you should not feel impeded by your oath to speak the truth about the current crisis facing the church, your diocese and your country. Your model should be the apostle Paul, who dared to oppose Peter “to his face since he was manifestly in the wrong”! ( Galatians 2:11 ).



Pressuring the Roman authorities in the spirit of Christian fraternity can be permissible and even necessary when they fail to live up to the spirit of the Gospel and its mission. The use of the vernacular in the liturgy, the changes in the regulations governing mixed marriages, the affirmation of tolerance, democracy and human rights, the opening up of an ecumenical approach, and the many other reforms of Vatican II were only achieved because of tenacious pressure from below.





5. Work for regional solutions: The Vatican has frequently turned a deaf ear to the well-founded demands of the episcopate, the priests and the laity. This is all the more reason for seeking wise regional solutions.







As you are well aware, the rule of celibacy, which was inherited from the Middle Ages, represents a particularly delicate problem. In the context of today’s clerical abuse scandal, the practice has been increasingly called into question. Against the expressed will of Rome, a change would appear hardly possible; yet this is no reason for passive resignation. When a priest, after mature consideration, wishes to marry, there is no reason why he must automatically resign his office when his bishop and his parish choose to stand behind him. Individual episcopal conferences could take the lead with regional solutions. It would be better, however, to seek a solution for the whole church, therefore:









6. Call for a council: Just as the achievement of liturgical reform, religious freedom, ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue required an ecumenical council, so now a council is needed to solve the dramatically escalating problems calling for reform. In the century before the Reformation, the Council of Constance decreed that councils should be held every five years. Yet the Roman Curia successfully managed to circumvent this ruling. There is no question that the Curia, fearing a limitation of its power, would do everything in its power to prevent a council coming together in the present situation. Thus it is up to you to push through the calling of a council or at least a representative assembly of bishops.









With the church in deep crisis, this is my appeal to you, venerable bishops: Put to use the episcopal authority that was reaffirmed by the Second Vatican Council. In this urgent situation, the eyes of the world turn to you. Innumerable people have lost their trust in the Catholic Church.







Only by openly and honestly reckoning with these problems and resolutely carrying out needed reforms can their trust be regained. With all due respect, I beg you to do your part – together with your fellow bishops as far as possible, but also alone if necessary – in apostolic “fearlessness” ( Acts 4:29, 31 ).









Give your faithful signs of hope and encouragement and give our church a perspective for the future.









With warm greetings in the community of the Christian faith,









Yours, Hans Küng

Thursday, December 1, 2011

"Its All About Justice" by Pat Mahan

http://paxchristisouth.org/2011/11/29/its-all-about-justice/
"The Messiah, the Christ, is about justice. This is not the retributive justice we are accustomed to in our courts. This is restorative justice where God has a special care for the poor, oppressed, and downtrodden and will bring judgment upon the wicked": "But God shall judge the poor with justice, and decide aright for the land’s afflicted.(Is 10)... "I feel comfortable in saying that, if he were alive today in the flesh, Jesus would be camped out—outraged over enormous gaps in income which cause so much human misery. Of course, the Christ is present in the camps promising much needed relief to the downtrodden whether they have taken a bath or looked for a job that is not there...God is truly meddling in our lives when God reminds us that it is about justice—right order. Jusitce is a kin-dom value. It is about restoring right order. There can be no semblance of right order when gross inequities cause interminable human suffering with billions living on $1 -$2 a day. There can be no justice when a hungry woman is sentenced for stealing a loaf of bread and Wall Street extortionists walk free. There can be no justice when rich and powerful nations wage war on impoverished people in order to get their natural resources.Isaiah tells us that God will judge the wicked—those who are driven by greed and lack compassion for the suffering of their fellow creatures—two-legged and four-legged..."













Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Fr. Jerry Zawada Says Excommunication Has Yet to Be Discussed/NCR Online



Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priest, Janice Sevre-Duszynska and Franciscan Jerry Zawada co-preside at SOA Vigil liturgy at Ft. Benning, GA.
http://ncronline.org/news/women/franciscan-ready-accept-consequences-joining-woman-led-liturgy 
Nov. 30, 2011
By Brian Roewe
"Despite rumors that Franciscan Fr. Jerry Zawada would be excommunicated and expelled from his order for his participation in a liturgy led by a female priest, Zawada and the leadership of his order say that has yet to be discussed. Zawada participated in the Nov. 19 liturgy while attending the School of Americas Watch in Fort Benning, Ga.Fr. John Puodziunas, provincial minister of the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province, told NCR that he has not received any contact from the Vatican on the matter. "There have been no official contacts from anyone," Puodziunas said."
Bridget Mary's Reflection
Let's hope that the Franciscan Order leads the way to a more egalitarian, partnership-centered church in the spirit of Saints Francis and Clare of Assisi. Fr. Jerry Zawada deserves their continued support and solidarity no matter what the Vatican does.
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
http://www.associationofromancatholicwomenpriests.org/

The Truth Behind the Godawful New (Old) Roman Catholic Missal by Michele Somerville

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michele-somerville/new-roman-catholic-missal-truth_b_1112314.html
..."The Vatican message as it pertains to women and girls is clear. Perhaps it is time that those Catholics who are, by whatever defect (whether it be gender or excommunication-worthy offense) excluded from Christ's salvation, respond in a language the hierarchs do understand. Ave legal tender.What if all the women in the church were to redirect their Advent weekly collection dollars to purchasing gifts for the needy, provisions for food pantries, charitable organizations or Catholic groups which challenge the tyranny of the Ratzinger pontificate? It would be interesting to see what would happen if every Catholic whom the New Old Missal now freshly excludes from salvation, were to boycott the collection basket for the duration of the season of Advent... "
Bridget Mary's Reflection;
I agree with Michele Somerville that a boycott of $ in the collection plate by Catholic women in the pews is an effective way to send a message to the Vatican! And what if Catholic women send it to the needy and to the women priests' movement for outreach and education of future women priests. I know we in the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests would appreciate the support.
Bridget Mary Meehan ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
http://www.associationofromancatholicwomenpriests.org/

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

"The Faithful Receive New Instructions about Prayer: Back to the Future and the Abdication of Moral Leadership"

http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2011/11/faithful-receive-new-instructions-about.html

..."Who clearly want us to be so mesmerized by the magic tricks of their liturgical tinkering that words like "consubstantial" become more significant to us than words like "criminal" or "indictment" or "authentic moral leadership."..."What I think I don't get and can't ever get, however, is the willingness of educated, morally sensitive human beings, of the intellectual leaders of my church in the U.S., who should know better--the willingness of the church's intellectual elite and cultural spokespersons to keep going along with the charlatanism, not to challenge it..."
Bridget Mary's Reflection
Indeed, this "side show" of "Back to the Future" is taking the focus off the moral and spiritual bankruptcy of the institutional church. The church belongs to the people of God. Now is the time for all of us to challenge the hierarchy in order to bring about genuine renewal in the church we love.

New Blog by Popular Christian Author and Minister: Jann Aldredge-Clanton

http://jannaldredgeclanton.com/blog

I highly recommend Jann Aldredge-Clanton's new blog for all who are supportive of gender equality in a multi-cultural world. She  has a new, povocative book out  entitled Changing Church: Stories of Liberating Ministers. (I am one of twelve ministers in the book, see link description and link for discounted prices) 
https://wipfandstock.com/store/Changing_Church_Stories_of_Liberating_Ministers;

http://www.amazon.com/Changing-Church-Stories-Liberating-Ministers/dp/1610974514/ref=sr_1_1_title_2_pap?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1322615974&sr=1-1

Her writingsalso include Hymns for Liberation, Peace and Justice and Seeking Wisdom: Inclusive Blessings and Prayers for Public Occasions  reflect a profound knowledge of scripture that affirms female and male images of God, and a profound sense of inclusivity!

Jann's new blog invites wide participation and will  include stories of other people, both lay and clergy, who are changing the church through their prophetic stands on gender, race, ecology, interfaith cooperation, sexual orientation, economic opportunity, and other social justice issues. It will especially feature those people who see the connection between inclusion of multicultural female and male images of the Divine and social justice.  Jann writes: "So I’m looking for stories of people who are changing the church through this expansive theology that forms the foundation for an ethic of equality and justice in human relationships.Please send me stories of people, including yourself, who are changing the church in these ways, and/or send me contact information so that I can interview these people and write their stories on this blog."

New Book
Changing Church, Stories of liberating Ministers by Jann Aldredge-Clanton

Through the fascinating stories of pioneering ministers, this book reveals a unique picture of progressive changes occurring in the Christian tradition. Meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles, these twelve diverse ministers are changing the church as they take prophetic stands on gender, race, interfaith cooperation, ecology, sexual orientation, economic opportunity, and other social justice issues. Believing in the power of sacred symbolism to shape social reality and to provide a foundation for justice and freedom for all people, these ministers lead worship with inclusive language and imagery for humanity and divinity. They include multicultural female and male images of the Divine. Meeting challenges and overcoming obstacles, these twelve diverse ministers are changing the church as they take prophetic stands on gender, race, interfaith cooperation, ecology, sexual orientation, economic opportunity and social justice isues.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Transforming My Anger by John Chuchman

I find that the best way

to transform my outrage


at what the hierarchs are doing


to our beloved Church


into fierce, compassionate


Wisdom Energy


is to work with the Force


that is Herself


both Loving and Fierce,


Tender and Ferocious,


The Holy Spirit.


I believe that the sacred roots


of my outrage


are part of


Her Protective and Passionate Love


for all beings and creation.


I believe that Her fierce Love


is pure and tied to


Ultimate Wisdom,


but that it is muddied by


my own deficiencies,


including imperfect knowledge and impatience.


I believe that the Golden Flame of the Holy Spirit


has ignited my outrage


inspired by


Her Wild Love of All beings


and for Justice.


I try to take Her pure golden passion-energy


into my center,


suffusing my mind, heart, and body


with Her brilliant power


by praying


Holy Spirit, keep me always in the balance


between fierceness and tenderness and


judgment and compassion,


filling me always through Your Grace


with Your purified passionate


Energy of Wisdom


and Love.

"The Plight of Women in sub-Saharan Africa" by Bill Schuch/ Catholic Church Needs Women's Voices to Inform Official Teaching, Primacy of Conscience/Bridget Mary

Following is an excerpt from the National Catholic Reporter’s coverage of Benedict XVI’s visit to Benin, Africa from November 18 thru 20 the purpose of which was to present the conclusions from a 2009 Synod of Bishops for Africa, which Benedict did in the form of a 138-page document titled Africae Munus, or "Africa's Commitment. The Synod was the latest of several Vatican initiatives during the past decade which Catholics concerned with the plight of monogamous African women at the mercy of their HIV-positive spouses/partners had been given to understand and hope that would result in a more Christ-like pastoral approach on the part of the Vatican to that tragic problem. Unfortunately, as with such past fire drills, the Vatican has not backed off its hard line against the use of condoms to protect these innocent women from being infected with HIV --- this in spite of the fact that a number of national conferences of Roman Catholic bishops as well as individual cardinals, including the cardinal theologian of the pontifical household and bishops have, in effect, publicly disagreed with the Vatican’s unconscionable lack of real compassion for these women. Their plight is ultimately the bitter harvest of the promulgation of the so-called birth control encyclical Humane Vitae over the objections of ninety percent of the cardinals, bishops, theologians, medical experts and laypersons appointed to papal commission who did not consider artificial birth control to be intrinsically evil – an encyclical that has never been “received” (church lingo for accepted) by the People of God. " Bill Schuch


Hard questions about Pope Benedict in Africa
by John L Allen Jr on Nov. 23, 2011 NCR Online
1. Did Benedict avoid the condoms trap?

"The pope's last outing to Africa in 2009 was utterly dominated by debate over his suggestion, made to reporters aboard the papal plane, that condoms make the problem of HIV/AIDS worse. That triggered round one of "condom-gate." Round two came last year, when Benedict seemed to suggest in a book-length interview that condoms, while far from ideal, may nevertheless be a "first step" toward morality if they express a desire to save someone's life. ...."There was no repeat of "condom-gate," for the simple reason that Benedict avoided the subject altogether. He briefly touched on AIDS in Africae Munus, stressing abstinence outside marriage and fidelity inside it as the best approach to prevention, and also called for aggressive research and wider availability of anti-AIDS medicines at lower costs.
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In 2009, after personal research revealed that the Vatican sycophants in the U.S. Catholic Conference Administrative Board, ignoring the special plight of sero-discordant couples, had in 1989, issued a "corrective" statement ironically titled “Called to Compassion and Responsibility: A Response to the HIV/AIDS Crisis” in which the bishops retracted their 1987 approval of providing factual information about condoms, and stated that, "The use of prophylactics to prevent the spread of HIV is technically unreliable . . . [and] advocating this approach means in effect promoting behavior which is morally unacceptable”, I put together the attached flyer to make my fellow Catholics in the Diocese of Venice, Florida aware of the plight of women in sub-Saharan Africa and the lack of compassion of our church leaders for these women.

(In personally distributing that flyer at a number of parishes in Naples, several pastors, including the pastor of my own parish, actually threatened to have me arrested for “trespassing on “his” parish property.)
Given the ongoing lack of compassion on part of the present Pontiff and his sycophants in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops who, as a body, have lacked the moral courage to join those other national conferences of bishops and individual prelates who have publicly challenged the Vatican’s morally-indefensible failure to abide by long-established principles of Catholic moral theology, I invite my fellow Catholics in dioceses throughout the 50 United States to distribute the attached flyer urging their respective diocesan Ordinaries to publicly commit to urging their fellow prelates in the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to, in turn, prevail on the Vatican to behave more Christ-like towards our African sisters.
It is time for some leadership from the bottom up. The leadership from the top down has been less than inspiring on this issue as well as others.
Bill Schuch
East Aurora NY
Naples, FL
Bridget Mary's Reflection
Kudos to Bill Schuch for reporting on this important issue. Once again, the Vatican is failing in reflecting Christ's compassion to women and this is more one reason why we need women priests to reflect women's experiences and to listen to women's voices from around the world. Our sisters in sub-Saharan Africa need to be heard loud and clear, they are free moral agents who can make ethical decisions for themselves. Condoms are life-savers in their situation, nothing less! Pope Benedict, started a firestorm when he indicated that it was morally permissable for male prostitutes to use condoms as the lesser of two evils. He did not say, then or now, that women who are faithful wives in sub-Saharan Africa could use condoms in situations where HIV-Aids was a major threat to their lives. How does Pope Benedict's attitude reflect Christ's compassion? 
Something is radically wrong with official church teaching on this issue. The Roman Catholic Church should be both pro-women and pro-life, and in all situations affirm that Catholics should follow well-formed and well-informed consciences in all moral choices.  Primacy of conscience is the teaching of the church and  that is the bottom line. When was the last time that you heard a homily on this topic in your local parish?
Bridget Mary Meehan, ARCWP
Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests
http://www.associationofromancatholicwomenpriest.org/


"Giving Eucharist to the Needy" A Meditation by Sr. Anne Brooks, D.O.

Our focus tonite is to explore the relationship of St Elizabeth and the poor, and what it means to bring bread to the poor.


And I would just warn you , that the medical students I have in our office warn others -


She is a woman of a thousand questions!

Let's start by relaxing, getting into our minds and


IMAGE "the poor" what do they look like?


city / live / get food Delta / live / get food


They are shiftless, mentally ill, alcoholics - we're afraid of them-we won't waste our $ money on them.


BUT WE KNOW --


THE POOR ARE NOT LIKE US!

* THEY ARE "OUT THERE"


* WE TEND TO AVOID THEM


* WE DON'T WANT OUR KIDS


TO PLAY WITH THEIR KIDS

I CHALLENGE YOU NOW TO CHANGE


THE WORD POOR TO NEEDY


________________________________


AHA...


DO WE KNOW ANYONE WHO IS NEEDY??


SUDDENLY, THE NEEDY


ARE NO LONGER "OUT THERE"

We might not think of them as poor but for sure they are because that's what someone is, who is poor --they are needy.

HOW ABOUT the hyperactive kid in my classroom?

the waitress in my favorite restaurant ?


the elder who talks on and on ?


the guy who fixes my car ?


the lady in line at the Care Station ?


great aunt Susie who has lost her brain ?


Are these folks needy?

(AND YOU CAN ADD TO THIS LIST)

What does each one need?


How can I show them I care?


THAT'S HOW I GIVE THEM EUCHARIST

As you know from reading the Gospels, Jesus was all over the place, in sometimes unbelievable situations that needed correcting.


Let's walk with Jesus this evening and look --


and consider-


in regard to the poor and needy,


Is there a social justice issue here?
An injustice because of the "system"?


Because we've always done it this way? for example,
.. there may not be tutoring help available for the kid in school who takes longer to learn, because the state doesn't fund it (why not?)


and could I volunteer to tutor??


Is that how I can bring Eucharist?
...the hourly wage of a waitress is often way below minimum wage because they are expected to get tips.


(so how much do I tip?)


Is that how I can bring Eucharist?


 ...There is a constant need for affordable housing - so could I volunteer with Habitat?


Is that how I can bring Eucharist?
ALSO Lets look at


MEMBERS OF OUR OWN FAMILIES

IF WE LOOK CLOSELY AND CAREFULLY


WE CAN IDENTIFY WHO IS NEEDY -
Who in our family needs someone to care about them?
Let's go inside our family members' hearts and minds...

Who in our family may


feel unloved


OR


feel ignored


OR


who is the one who I yelled at last night (Did I make up?)


OR


perhaps our family a fractured family with many needs . . .


OR


AM I A NEEDY PERSON IN MY OWN FAMILY ?


Am I the one who feels unloved?


then maybe we need to be brave enough to talk about it!






Am I the one who feels rejected?


then maybe we need to be brave enough to talk about it!






Am I the one who always picks up the mess in the house?


when no one else bothers?


then maybe we need to be brave enough to talk about it!














Think now about the needy around us, OUR needy. the ones in our neighborhood or workplace,


the ones in our town or area:


To help you picture them, come in your mind with me


on a quick visit to the Tutwiler Clinic in the past couple of weeks.






As an introduction,


(You may not be aware that 69% of those coming to our office have no insurance, no way of paying for their care.


Our ability to cover their care and still pay our staff comes from donations of people who are aware of the situation and give us Eucharist -


they send funds that allow us to be their heart, and their hands, and their voices


to give CARE-- to give Eucharist --


They help our patients experience the presence of God in their lives)






So come with me - here, I'll hold the door ---






So here is a lady who the staff didn't put in a treatment room, but in my ofc. She has on her Sunday outfit today. She came to bring me Eucharist - she is now in treatment for breast cancer and came to give me a thank-you hug for pushing her to get a mammogram in spite of her fright - and I was filled with the presence of God.


~~~~~~~~~~


Here is a new patient, a 20 yr old girl who has a deformed ring finger that's only an inch long, and there are only 2 big toes on her left foot -- She has no income, and is applying for disability. "I'm not going to get pregnant just so I can get on Medicaid," Her real problem? keratoconus -- her cornea is cone-shaped. She is legally blind. We did her physical,


gave her Eucharist by showing her how much we cared.


~~~~~~~~~


Here is a 37 year old guy who repairs cars. I found him sitting on the treatment table in tears. What he needed was a long hug,


so I gave him Eucharist -


He loved his stepfather who had died; I listened, and he told me how much he appreciated my prayer visits to ICU


And he gave me Eucharist


~~~~~~~~~~


Here is a 47 yr old man, here to help with the cotton harvest He had shortness of breath, ankle swelling. We did a chest XR, it showed that his heart was 2 1/2 times normal size. We used some donation money, got an echocardiogram at the hospital - it showed his heart was pumping only 8% of the blood in his heart. It was working as well as a wet paper towel. I did an emergency hospital admission, cared for him in the hosp, used more donations and paid for all 8 of his new discharge meds -


and gave him Eucharist.


He said to me, "What if you hadn't been here?"


And he gave me Eucharist.
~~~~~~~~~


Here is a tall skinny guy with a cough...he feels too sick to work, so he has no income. Our chest XR showed pneumonia. He comes every day for IV antibiotics and for breathing treatments. He comes for care


And we give him Eucharist.


- and when he says he is feeling better now


he gives us Eucharist


~~~~~~~~~~


Now it's the end of the day, I'm sealing all the charts on the computer. While the computer gathers all the data, there's a little pause before the correct screen comes up. So I pray for that patient while I wait,
sending them Eucharist

Consider this:
We, baptized members of the Catholic Church,


are, all of us, the Body of Christ


And as members of that Body,


when we receive Holy Communion Jesus is within us.


It's like we should have a sanctuary lamp in front of us!


we speak Christ's words to others


we pray with our Abba, our Father


we use the actions of Jesus as a guide to our behavior


when we respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit


So really, when we communicate with others,


when we do something for someone else,


WHEN WE SHOW WE CARE


we put them in contact with Jesus -


which is bringing them Eucharist.

I CHALLENGE YOU!

Find someone needy - care about them


care for them


WHAT KIND OF NOURISHMENT


DO THEY NEED?

Is it perhaps a hug?


A gift of our time?


the gift of listening to them?


of sitting with grandma so the sitter can have a break?


Is it a ride to the store or to that person's church?


Can we keep their kids for a couple of hours?

What do they really need that I can help with?


And I close with a prayer~


O God, place me where You want me to be


Challenge me to be aware of injustices.


Help me to right wrongs I see


Teach me to care,


and flood my heart and my soul with Your Divine Presence


that I may carry You to everyone who needs You. amen.