Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Deacon Candidate Declines Ordination

The sex scandals in the Church don’t happen any more, unless they do. Recently in Kansas City, Bishop Finn appears to mishandled a couple situations. Despite his public “apologies”, a Deacon candidate, Jim McConnell, decided to forgo ordination rather than kneel before Bishop Finn and promise his obedience and respect. The pastor of the parish that was sponsoring McConnell addressed the issue from the pulpit last week…

Kansas City pastor homily on clarifying thought
by Thomas C. Fox [1] on Jun. 07, 2011

The pastor of Holy Family parish in the Kansas City - St. Joseph diocese, Fr. Matthew Brumleve, spoke the following words last Sunday, Ascension Sunday, about Jim McConnell, a member of his parish who stepped away from the permanent diaconate program, saying he could not kneel before Bishop Robert Finn and offer his unqualified obedience. This is an excerpt from his homily:

Another way ... to clarify one’s thinking on what is valuable andimportant in life – is to make a difficult decision – as Jim McConnell had todo within the last week. Jim and his wife Cindy prayed about and struggledwith his ordination to the diaconate – in light of all that has come out aboutwhat Bishop Finn did, and failed to do, in the recent sexual abuse caseconcerning Father Shawn Ratigan.

Jim decided that he could not just go through the motions of the ordination rite in which he would have to kneel before the Bishop and promise to respect and obey a person he no longer had respect for. And I say better that this faith community has lost a deacon than to just have one more person lose their integrity. Someone better than I once said that evil exists in the world because good people stand idly by and say and do nothing. So I say to Jim, and I hope it is with the backing of this community, thanks, Jim, for leading the way in not standing idly by. Jim from the very beginning, and Cindy, almost from the very beginning, have been members of Holy Family.

And so it is with a bit of pride that I hope in some small way it is due to the fact that Sunday after Sunday they were nurtured and formed by the Word of God in this place and were constantly being comforted and challenged by us – and this is whatgave Jim the strength and conviction to do what he did. So standing among the poor, losing someone you love, and making a tough decision are all ways that we can tell if we stand for the things Jesus stood for: compassion, understanding, integrity, acceptance, forgiveness and mercy.

Every day, each of us has to be able to say and do the things that allow us to sleep peacefully at night. In preaching this homily, I will sleep peacefully tonight. In standing against the exploitation and harm of children, Jim will sleep peacefully tonight. I hope that all of us can have a peaceful sleep tonight because we have been effective witnesses of the risen and ascended Christ this day. That today, in large and small ways, we have stood for the things Jesus challenges and expects us to stand for. AMEN!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Detroit Archbishop in a Dither...

The Detroit Archbishop is a dither about the “American Catholic Council” gathering on the 35th Anniversary of the original Call to Action. Vigner0n warns any Detroit clerics that they may be “reduced to the lay state” (besides going to hell?) if they participate. An NCR article gives more details.

Detroit archbishop warns clergy not to attend Catholic gathering

Jun. 07, 2011
Article Details
By Jerry Filteau

Detroit Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron warned his priests and deacons June 3 that they could be “dismissed from the clerical state” if they participate in a eucharistic liturgy June 12 closing an international American Catholic Council convention in Detroit.
The ACC, a coalition of liberal Catholic groups seeking changes in the church, said Vigneron’s warning brought a sharp spike in visits to its Web site [3], and in registrations for the convention.
“There are good reasons for believing forbidden concelebration will take place by the laity and with those not in full communion with the church” at the June 12 Mass,Vigneron said in his June 3 letter.
He did not explain why he thought lay people or clergy not in full communion with the church would be engaged in concelebration of the ACC’s closing Mass. The ACC Web site gave no such indications, and leaders of the convention said there was no such intention.

In an e-mail to NCR June 7, John Hushon, co-chairman of the ACC, said, “We stated categorically to Msgr. [Robert] McClory [Detroit archdiocesan moderator of the curia] that ‘There will be only one presider, an ordained priest in good standing.’ We could not have been any clearer.”

Under church law, a local bishop has full authority over all liturgical celebrations in his diocese, and Vigneron emphasized that he has given no authorization for the closing Mass at the convention of the American Catholic Council.

The June 11-12 gathering is to be held at Detroit’s Cobo Hall – a historic venue symbolically recalling the church’s famous American bicentennial Call to Action conference on social justice in 1976, hosted by then-Detroit Cardinal John Dearden.

That conference, featuring mainly social action personnel from dioceses across the country, spun out of hierarchical control and produced many resolutions in apparent conflict with traditional Catholic teaching. The bishops subsequently adopted some of its proposals but rejected many of them. An independent progressive Catholic organization based in Chicago, Call to Action, was later formed to advance many of the conference’s proposals and goals.

Among featured speakers on the ACC agenda is Sr. Joan Chittister, former prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie, Pa., and an NCR columnist.

Swiss-born theologian Fr. Hans Kung, 83, long a leading ecumenist and professor at the University of Tubingen, Germany, is expected to address the group in a video recording if health prevents him from appearing personally. Kung’s 1971 critique of papal infallibility led to a 1979 Vatican order declaring he could no longer teach as a Catholic theologian.

In a news release June 4 ACC organizers said the convention will draw “several thousand center-left Catholics committed to the principles of Vatican II.”

One of the goals of the gathering is to endorse a “Catholic Bill of Rights [4]and Responsibilities” which stresses the primacy of conscience and the rights and responsibilities of lay Catholics, by reason of their baptism, to participate in the ministry and governance of the church and in working for social justice.

An archdiocesan announcement for parish bulletins sent out to Detroit Catholic parishes www.aodonline.org/bulletins [5] for the weekend of June 11-12 reiterated Vigneron’s warning against participation in the meeting or its June 12 liturgy. It said the archbishop has “serious concerns over the ACC’s distortion of church teachings and issues, and most notably the group’s expressed opposition to the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.”


Friday, June 3, 2011

A way forward for Catholic Charities on adoption?

Rockford was the first diocese to pull out of adoptive services after the law on civil unions went into effect. The executive director of the Catholic Conference of Illinois, Bob Gilligan, said other dioceses will decide on the fate of their programs within a week to 10 days after the new state law takes effect.

US Catholic blogger Bryan Cones looks for a way forward for Catholic Charities.

A way forward for Catholic Charities on adoption?

Thursday, June 2, 2011
By Bryan Cones

With civil unions taking effect today in Illinois, the $30 million in state-funded adoption money Catholic Charities in the state receives is on the line. The diocese of Rockford in northwest Illinois has already withdrawn from adoption and foster care services, forfeiting $7.5 million in state contracts, laying off 58 employees, and releasing 350 children into the state system. Catholic Charities in other dioceses, notably here in the archdiocese of Chicago, have yet to make a decision.

In my own opinion--and I am speaking only for myself--I think it is both possible and preferable that Catholic Charities continue to provide adoption and foster care placements, even though state law now requires them (as part of their state contract) to serve same-gender couples who wish to adopt or foster. Here's why:

1. The decision to place a chlid in foster care or an adoptive home has never been on the basis of religion. Catholic Charities serves people of any religion and no religion at all. Criteria for accepting someone as a foster or adoptive parent are based on psychological and economic evaluations, among others, and their fitness to serve in that capacity is determined by social workers, not priests. There is great evidence that same-gender couples quite successfully raise foster and adoptive children by those measures. Further, there is no evidence whatsoever that children placed with same-gender couples are in any way less successful than children placed in other homes. Further, there is great need for foster and adoptive parents, and great numbers of children to serve.

2. Catholic Charities is known and respected for the work that it does on behalf of all people, regardless of religion or sexual orientation or race or country of origin. It is not, or at least has not been, a sectarian enterprise, only a charitable enterprise supported by the local diocese. As many have put it: Catholic Charities serves people because it is a Catholic agency, not because the people it serves are Catholic--both the children and the adoptive and foster parents. I fear that reputation of universal service has already been tarnished. I would rather have Catholic Charities serve and place children in good homes, including those of same-gender couples, than to have them withdraw completely from this important work. Seriously, that would mean that Catholic Charities would stop caring for "orphans," one of the biblical categories of those in need that the Hebrew prophets are constantly calling us to serve.

3. Catholic Charities has a duty to its employees who work in this area. It isn't the employees' fault that the state legislature has determined that justice requires that same-gender couples should have access to legal recognition for their families. It seems to me an injustice that the Rockford diocese laid off 58 employees to make a point about church teaching.

Of course, Catholic Charities could withdraw from its state contracts because it will be required to serve same-gender couples, but I for one would see that as a diminishment of our charitable work as Catholics. I hope they can find another way.