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New British group calls for end to fear in the church.  Fear within the church is inhibiting bishops, priests, and laity from advocating needed church reforms said a new British group, A Call to Action (Acta), at its first meeting in early May.  The general secretary of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales attended along with 65 representatives from various dioceses.  “Bishops who are frightened of Rome, laity fearful of priests, priests fearful of bishops.  It is not creative and there seems to be a lot of it in the church” said organizer Chris Larkman. Leaders hope to meet with the bishops of England and Wales in coming months (The Tablet, 5/11/13).

German women reject “special diaconate” for women. The 220,000-strong  Catholic Women’s Association in Germany recently criticized a proposal from the German bishops to create a special diaconal office for women that did not include ordination.   That “is not enough” said the group’s spokesperson Ute Hücker.  “Catholic women in Germany want to see deacons who are women. We want the full office and the training that goes with it” (The Tablet, 5/11/13).

U.S. Archbishop advocates decentralized church structures.   Emeritus Archbishop John R. Quinn of San Francisco has published a book Ever Ancient, Ever New: Structures of Communion in the Church that advocates greater decision making authority for the world’s bishops. In an interview with Vatican Insider, Quinn said: “A deliberative or decision-making synod would have several advantages . . . . These members would be bishops actually involved in the pastoral care and government of a diocese in various parts of the world. . . . In a world of rapid change and instant communication the ability to call on wide input such as this would be a very great advantage.”  Robert Mickens of The Tablet reports that Pope Francis has read the Spanish language edition of Quinn’s earlier book, The Reform of the Papacy published in 2005 (Vatican Insider, 4/26/13 and The Tablet, 4/20/13).

Senior Irish priest resigns over treatment of Fr. Tony Flannery. In early February, Fr John Hassett, dean of the prominent Maynooth deanery, resigned in protest at “the disrespectful and unjust treatment of Fr. Tony Flannery” by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Flannery is a Redemptorist who founded the Irish Association of Catholic priests. Among other things the association has called for married and women priests.  He was subsequently asked by the CDF to recant or face excommunication, which sparked widespread protest (The Tablet, 2/23/13).

Catholic Ordinariate admits first married seminarian. Andrew Harding is a married layman and the first seminarian to study for the Roman Catholic priesthood in the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham in England. If accepted by Pope Francis he will be come the first married layman to become a priest who had not previously been ordained a Church of England priest or deacon. The ordinariate was created by Pope Benedict to allow disaffected Anglicans to enter into the Roman church while retaining some of their own traditions (The Tablet, 5/11/13).

US priests don’t like new Missal translations.  According to a survey released May 21st by Saint John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn. Fifty-nine percent of priests surveyed said they do not like the new Mass translations, which all Catholic parishes in the country were mandated to use beginning in fall 2011. Eighty percent said they agreed with an assessment that the Latin to English translation is “awkward and distracting.”  Sixty-one percent said the new language needs to be revised “urgently” (National Catholic Reporter, 5/21/2013).

Parish closing and appeal news

Philadelphia to merge 27 parishes. On Sunday June 2, the Archdioceses of Philadelphia announced it would merge 27 parishes into ten citing demographic shifts, declining Mass attendance and a decrease in clergy. The decision is leaving some parishioners at St. Leo parish dismayed: “It’s leaving a bitter taste in everyone’s mouth,” said one parishioner. “... Never once have I ever questioned my faith until now. And it’s not so much that I’m questioning my faith - .... I’m questioning the people who are in charge, making decisions.”  (Philadelphia Inquirer 6/2/13)

Canadians protest church closing. In mid-May about 30 parishioners from Immaculate Conceptiop parish in Sydney, Nova Scotia protested a decision to close their church.  The Diocese of Antigonish is closing about a dozen churches, citing a shrinking population, a declining number of priests and financial shortfalls.  Alma Ashe, a parishioner for over 80 years, had this to say: “How can one person come and tell you they’re taking the church? They don’t own the church. They never paid the upkeep. As poor as some of the people were, they gave [to the] collection.” The protest ended after officials from the diocese agreed to meet with the group. (Canadian Broadcasting Company News, 5/23/13).

Chicago Catholics appeal planned church demolition. On Easter Sunday, members of St. James Catholic Church braved gray skies and chilly weather Sunday to protest the demolition of their beloved 132-year-old parish. The “Friends of Historic St. James,” a group of parishioners and architectural preservationists trying to save the building are pleading with the Archdiocese to work with them to save the building.  They have appealed to Rome and are awaiting a decision (Chicago Tribune,  4/30/13).
Half of Saginaw churches to reduce services. At a January press conference, Saginaw Bishop Joseph Cistone announced his intent to reorganize the diocese’s 109 parish communities reducing services at 53 churches. Some will stop holding regular services altogether. Some parishioners are appealing the decision (Michigan Live, 1/20/13).

Focus on FutureChurch

Summer 2013


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