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Involve More Lay People, Says Pope.  At the conclusion of the Portuguese Bishops’ November 10th ad limina visit, Pope Benedict encouraged them to affirm the importance of the community of the church and lay involvement, especially where mass attendance is decreasing. Preserving unity in the church he said, “does not mean we should not discuss proper order within the church and the allocation of responsibility; there will always be imbalances that require correction...but these issues cannot distract us from the real mission of the church, which is to speak not of itself but of Christ.” (Catholic News Service 11/13/07)

Vatican Approves Inclusive Canadian Lectionary. In late summer, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) received Vatican permission to publish a revised Lectionary for Sundays and Solemnities that uses inclusive language. Canada is currently the only country where the Roman Catholic lectionary is based on the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible. Other English-speaking Episcopal Conferences are now also considering using the text, but it is unlikely that the U.S. conference is one of them, according to sources. (Independent Catholic News 9/2007)

Over 16,000 Aussies Petition for Married, Women Priests. In just three months, a petition designed by a group of lay and religious leaders in Australia has generated over 16,000 signatures.  The petition calls on the Australian Catholic Bishops to collectively discuss the possibility of ordination of married men and, separately, the ordination of women. The petitioners contextualized their call within the growing crisis of a lack of priests in many parts of Australia.  More information is available at http://www.catholica.com.au/

Archdiocese Evicts Nuns To Pay Abuse Settlement. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles plans to evict nuns and sell their convent to help pay off a $660 million settlement with victims of pedophile priests. Three nuns of the Sisters of Bethany order have until Dec. 31 to move out of their home in a low-income Santa Barbara neighborhood they have served for fifty years. A former Bethany sister, Evangelina Diaz, pointed out that priests in Santa Barbara live in “fabulous-looking” houses in neighborhoods where, the Washington Post reports, homes go for $2 million. “You don’t see them getting kicked out,” she said. Community leaders have launched a campaign to buy the sisters a new home.  (Washington Post)

Diocesan Accountant Guilty, Jurors Suspect Diocese Knew More.  Jurors in the Cleveland diocesan kickback trial left federal court wishing they had heard more testimony from the diocese's hierarchy, one of the jurors said after convicting Anton Zgoznik, a former church accountant, of paying kickbacks and defrauding the church.  During three days of deliberations, jurors wondered why Bishop Anthony Pilla was unaware of secret payments being made to diocesan employees. They also suspected the Rev. John Wright knew more than he testified to. The diocese’s former chief financial officer, Joseph. Smith, will also stand trial next year for accepting more than $1 million in suspected kickbacks. (Cleveland Plain Dealer)

Poor should have fair access to world’s resources. On November 11, Pope Benedict called for a global coordination to allocate the world's wealth fairly so everyone has access to food, water, health care, energy and employment. He called such redistribution the “great challenge of our time,” that can only come about if “a global model of authentic solidarity prevails.” (Catholic News Service 11/12/07)

Two-Thirds of Cardinals from Global North.  Even though two-thirds of the world's Catholics live in the global south, two-thirds of the cardinals come from the global north, and Pope Benedict's newest appointments did nothing to alter the equation.  Two-thirds of the 23 newly named cardinals are from western Europe and the United States.  Currently the U.S. has 17 of the worlds 202 cardinals. Thirteen will be eligible to vote in the next conclave. Cardinal-designate Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston will be the first head of a Texas archdiocese to wear the red hat. His selection acknowledges the rapid growth of the Church in the southern U.S.  DiNardo also worked for several years in the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops.  (Catholic News Service and John Allen, National Catholic Reporter)

Conservative Anglicans Seek Union with Rome.  The Traditional Anglican Communion (TAC) has sent a letter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “seeking full, corporate, sacramental union” with the Roman Catholic Church.  Numbering some 400,000 international members, the breakaway group is unhappy about the ordination of women.  Robert Mercer, a retired TAC bishop, expressed hope of keeping “our Anglican liturgy and our tradition of the married priesthood and diaconate and episcopate….”  TAC has over 20 parishes in England and Wales, three in Ireland and large concentrations in India and southern Africa. Vatican officials have not commented on the letter. If successful, the TAC will be the largest assembly to achieve communion with Rome since the Reformation. (The Tablet 11/3/2007)

U.S. Catholics Like Pope, Not His Interfaith Efforts. A September 25 release from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life revealed that 86% of Catholics have a favorable view of Pope Benedict. However just 38% thought he was doing a good or excellent job on the ecumenical front and 46% rated his efforts as fair or poor.  (Catholic News Service 9/27/07)

Love in Action! Dick Taylor, a well-known east coast community organizer and peace activist, has written a practical and comprehensive manual for how to apply non-violent direct action principles to church reform activities. Love in Action: A Direct Action Handbook for Catholics Using Gospel Nonviolence to Reform and Renew the Church will allow any group to foster constructive change and dialogue in their diocesan community. Available at www.gospelnonviolence.com.


Focus on FutureChurch

Fall 2007


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