Monday, February 16, 2015

Save the Date!

The League of Catholic Women
invites you to

Many Places at the Table:
The Contemporary Roman Catholic Church in the USA


Fr. Michael Joncas

Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Gather at 6:45 p.m.
Program begins promptly at 7:00 p.m.

The Woman's Club
410 Oak Grove St.
Minneapolis (south of Loring Park)
Free parking in adjacent lot
and in the lot across the street.

Cost: $15.00
Reservation checks due by February 20 to
League of Catholic Women
410 Oak Grove St.
Minneapolis, MN 55403

$20 for walk-ins on the day.

Fr. Joncas' presentation will address a number of important issues, questions and themes, including:

• What are the major national and international church events that help shape the different faith styles of contemporary Catholics?

• What are the central loyalties of each group?

• What are the obstacles to, and the opportunities for, conversations within and across the boundaries surrounding these different understandings of our shared Catholic faith?

• When we recite the Nicene Creed we profess our belief in "one catholic church." We should come away from this evening with a deeper understanding of just what that means in today's world.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Quote of the Day

[San Francisco's Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone] constantly refers to confusion about church teaching about sexuality . . . implying that if we just understood the teaching, everything would be fine. But there is no confusion about contraception and, increasingly, same-sex civil marriage. There is strong, thoughtful, conscience-driven opposition. He also uses the words "timeless church teachings" and conveniently forgets how the church was wrong on Galileo and slavery and ignores that the "timeless church teaching" on same-sex adoptive parents was written in 2003.

Cordileone suggests that he is in line with Pope Francis. In one way, he may be correct: It doesn't appear that Francis is going to be changing any doctrine in the near future. But the whole world knows we have a pope who is focusing on Jesus' message of love and inclusiveness and who has told Cordileone and his fellow culture warrior bishops to quit being obsessed with the sexuality issues. Our archbishop doesn't even appear to be listening to his boss.

– Brian Cahill
Excerpted from "Cordileone's Continuing Controversy
in San Francisco Revolves Around Catholic Identity

National Catholic Reporter
February 13, 2015

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Catholic Reform Network Says Synod Questionnaire Was Designed to Fail . . . and is Failing

Note: The following is a media release from Catholic Church Reform Int'l.

Catholic Church Reform Int'l (CCRI) has written an Open Letter to Pope Francis telling him that the 46-question survey requiring all essay-type answers devised by the Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops to gather feedback for the October 2015 Synod on the Family, is totally unworkable and not being promoted on most of the worldwide diocesan websites.

"We know it is an unworkable document," said Peter Wilkinson, CCRI coordinator from Australia, "because our research shows that, in the nine weeks it has been out there, few bishops and dioceses anywhere in the world are using it. The complex survey is not only doomed to fail, but sadly, appears to have been designed to fail."

"Not only will it not gather the voices of Catholic couples and families, but it will drive them away," said Rene Reid, CCRI co-founding director. "Whether it is intentional or not, this questionnaire is counterproductive, threatens to thwart the Pope's wishes, and could even endanger the effectiveness of the Synod itself."

Many bishops also want to hear the voices of Catholic couples and families, but now find themselves stymied by a Vatican tool unsuited to the task. It is overwhelming to even the most well-educated Catholic. Without the people's voices, those bishops elected to attend the October 2015 Assembly will have little to offer. "Pope Francis has made it clear that he does not want them turning up with formulations for pastoral care based simply on the application of doctrine or their own interpretation of what their people need," Virginia Saldanha, CCRI coordinator from India, pointed out. "That would defy the concluding directives of the October 2014 Assembly."

But the voices should not be only those of practicing Catholics. "Many Catholics no longer attend Mass," said Ms. Reid, "often precisely because of Church teachings, attitudes, and pastoral practices - the very issues that should be on the Synod's agenda. Pope Francis wants the bishops to find concrete solutions to the innumerable challenges that families face. The Lineamenta questionnaire not only shuts down the Faithful but completely leaves out those who are no longer practicing Catholics. If the Synod wants to 'look at the reality of the family today in all its complexities' as stated as its objective," said Ms. Reid, "there has to be a simplified, user-friendly means to gather the reflections of ordinary Catholics."

Catholic Church Reform Int'l, a network which spans 65 countries and shares Pope Francis's vision for a church engaged in a communal search of discernment, is now looking to develop an alternative survey, an uncomplicated living poll which, the CCRI letter explains "will be an invitation to all the baptized to share with the Synod their lived experience of marriage and family: 'How have their marriage and family life benefited from the teachings of the Church, or how has it caused difficulties or harm?' ...They will be asked for suggestions for change. 'If you were once a participatory practicing Catholic but have left the Church, what caused you to leave, what would bring you back?'" Brendan Butler, CCRI coordinator from Ireland who is serving on the committee designing the poll said: "CCRI wants a survey instrument which will be a pastoral agent in itself, looking to support families still in the flock, those on the fringes who will leave if some reform is not forthcoming, and looking to show welcome to those who've strayed or felt driven away."

"Too long have we lay Faithful colluded in silence out of a mistaken sense of respect," said Robert Blair Kaiser, CCRI co-founder and author. "We need to be speaking out, reminding bishops of the need to respond to families in the context of a complex and changing environment. If the Church is to be a credible instrument of the Gospel, it must instigate structural change in the way it operates. One key element of that is ensuring that all the baptized have a proper say in the governance of the Church."

To read the full letter to Pope Francis, click here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Quote of the Day

[Pope Francis] has gotten rave reviews for his supposedly progressive views, although it may be only that he seems progressive when compared to Pope Benedict XVI, the pope whose philosophy, at times, sounded like the pastoral version of “Get off my lawn.” . . . [Francis has] said that evolution and “the notion of creation” were not “inconsistent”; urged the church to help the poor; and asked, “Who am I to judge?” on the issue of gay priests. . . . Yet it’s worth remembering that Francis has not actually changed any church doctrine on these issues. And he hasn’t done a thing to walk back Benedict’s egregious comments on transgender people, which suggested that in living our lives openly, we somehow make human dignity “disappear.” Then, this week, Francis praised Slovakian pilgrims for defending the family, in a quote that appeared to give support to a referendum in their country scheduled for today that could ban marriage and adoption for same-sex and transgender couples. Thanks to attitudes like this, the Roman Catholic Church has spent years driving away the faithful.

. . . [F]rancis’ words over the last year have given many Catholics, current and lapsed, reason for hope. But we are still waiting to see those hopes turned into action.

– Jennifer Finney Boylan
Excerpted from "Can the Church Return to the Faithful"
The New York Times
February 6, 2015

See also the previous PCV posts:
Pope Francis and the Catholic Crisis
Pope Francis' Woman Problem
Pope Francis is Listening
Tony Flannery in Minneapolis
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 1)
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 2)
Creating a Liberating Church (Part 3)

Related Off-site Links:
The Trouble With Francis: Three Things That Worry Me – Mary E. Hunt (Religion Dispatches, January 6, 2014).
Pope Francis Might Not Be As Awesome As We Thought He Was – Asher Bayot (, January 18, 2015).

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Still Dialoguing with the Archbishop: The Catechism?

By Paula Ruddy

At CCCR’s meeting with Archbishop John C. Nienstedt on January 20, the Archbishop mentioned that one of the valuable results of Vatican II was the Catechism of the Catholic Church. He didn’t elaborate.

At the word “catechism” a dark cloud enveloped my liberal soul. In a good faith effort to be open-minded here, I have to ask why I have that reaction.

I remember loving the Baltimore Catechism as a child in the 1940’s. It was a little blue book with questions and answers. The second question and answer I still love: “ Where is God? God is everywhere.” We memorized the questions and answers for catechism class at All Saints Parish in Lakeville, and we were called on, in fear and trembling, to answer questions at Confirmation. My mother and father could still spout the answers from their childhoods at St. Luke’s and St. Michael’s in St. Paul. There was open discussion on any and all questions, as I recall. In the hurly-burly of everyday life, the catechism questions and answers were tucked away on the hard drive of our minds for the most part, forming us somehow. They were articulated there if we needed them.

So why is an “adult” catechism such a problem to me now? I have a copy on my bookshelf. Can it be a comprehensive set of statements, most of which I value highly, without actually reducing Catholicism to a set of statements?

Is there a way to use the catechism to turn toward the world with the Gospel vision of the reign of God here and now, all of us evolving toward full union with God through conflict, suffering and joy, as in Jesus’ own life? Can the catechism support and enrich the Christian vision and help in the daily discernment of faithful living?

Help me out here. Am I the only one with a “catechism” attitude problem? What would the grown-up attitude be? If you use the catechism as a meditative reading, please tell us about it. Thanks.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Dear Pope Francis: Saving the World Requires Contraception

By Mark Seager
President, Population Connection Action Fund

Note: This commentary was first published February 1, 2015 by The World Post.

Don't get me wrong, Francis. You seem like a sincere, congenial man, and I admire you for bringing the world's attention to the need to address poverty, fight climate change, and eliminate inequality. But, sadly, your unwillingness to accept access to the full range of contraceptives as a necessary and moral good is completely incompatible with your efforts to make the world a better place.

You see, modern contraceptive methods – like the birth control pill, condom, and intrauterine device – do much more than provide people with a healthy sex life. Contraception saves lives, especially those of women and girls living in the developing world, who often don't have access to antenatal services. Mothers and babies die when women aren't able to delay, space, or avoid pregnancies. And young children whose mothers die in pregnancy or childbirth are more likely to die themselves.

Incredibly, if all women in the developing world who want to avoid pregnancy used modern contraception, the number of unintended pregnancies would drop by 70 percent and unsafe abortions would fall by 74 percent. The ability to plan one's family provides women and girls with more educational and job opportunities. And many economies would get a much-needed boost.

There is no doubt that universal access to contraception would bring us closer to achieving economic and gender equality in one fell swoop. Imagine that!

But, Francis, providing people with access to the full range of contraceptives is also crucial to combating climate change. If you're serious about engaging in this work, you simply must end your proscription of modern birth control.

Though the population-climate link is based on science, it's not rocket science. And your defense of the Church's ban on modern contraception – less than a week after you stated that "the majority" of climate change is caused by humans and after years of calling for climate action – is mind-boggling.

Modern-day contraceptives are extremely effective at preventing pregnancy when used correctly. And preventing unintended pregnancy helps to slow population growth – one of the leading causes of climate-changing greenhouse gas emissions.

According to a 2010 study, leveling the world population at 8 billion, instead of the projected 9 billion, by 2050 could provide 16 to 29 percent of the emissions reductions required to prevent dangerous climate change. It would have a much greater impact than if global deforestation were completely eliminated.

And while most of the world's climate pollution is being emitted from industrialized nations – namely, the United States – the fastest population growth is happening in developing countries – some of which, like Mexico and the Philippines, have a majority Catholic population. In fact, roughly 16 percent of the world population practices Catholicism, and the religion is growing fastest in Africa – the continent with the most rapid population growth.

Francis, that means nearly one-sixth (and growing) of the world population acknowledges your teachings. Nearly a sixth of the people on Earth have been told, by you, that it is a sin to use modern contraception. And all of them will contribute to and be affected by climate change.

Therefore, you have a responsibility to ensure that your followers have all the tools they need – including contraception – to reduce their carbon output and strengthen their resilience to the inevitable effects of climate change.

For many people around the world – especially women and girls living in poverty-stricken countries – having the ability to prevent unwanted pregnancies means they have a better chance at coping with extreme weather events. That's because families who are able to plan the birth of their children are likely to have more resources and, as a result, are more able to respond to changes in their environment.

Surely some of the families that you visited during your recent trip to the Philippines would have been better equipped to withstand the effects of super-typhoon Haiyan if they had access to contraceptives. It is largely due to the influence of the country's Catholic bishops that 90 percent of the unintended pregnancies – half of all pregnancies there – are the result of a lack of modern contraception.

Planning and preventing pregnancy is not only a personal choice; it's a human right that saves lives, combats poverty, and helps to close the inequality gap. But more than that it's a crucial requirement for slowing population growth and, in turn, saving the planet from its greatest threat – climate change.

The world is depending on you, Francis.

See also the previous PCV posts:
Overpopulation and the Catholic Church: Can't We Become Part of the Solution?
Contraception's Con Men
Birth Control, the Bishops, and Religious Authority
Out of Step With the Flock: Bishops Far Behind on Birth Control Issues
We Are the 98 Percent
Who Is the Church? And How Does the Church Discern Morality?

Related Off-site Links:
Bishops Don't Speak for Most Catholics on Contraception – Keith Soko (CNN, February 4, 2012).
Pope Francis Might Not Be As Awesome As We Thought He Was – Asher Bayot (, January 18, 2015).
The Trouble with Francis: Three Things That Worry Me – Mary E. Hunt (Religion Dispatches, January 6, 2014).