What a buggy stream! Ten seconds of feed, then a ten-second pause. Over and over again. Guess it’s over to Twitter instead.
@ReligionNewsNow: Cardinal Rigali of Phila. absent from #USCCB meeting in Seattle & sex abuse discussion. Spokeswoman: he’s @ celebration of St. John Neumann.
In addition to that curious priority of Cardinal Rigali, it is also very interesting that in their agenda, http://www.usccb.org/meetings/2011-june-meeting/agenda.pdf, the bishops do not have scheduled a general discussion amongst the entire body of the conference regarding the document concerning Professor Elizabeth Johnson, her response, or the suggestions offered by the CTSA. Interesting omission.
That will certainly come up in private sessions.
Does the sex abuse discussion matter? It is time to stop paying attention to what bishops might say on that topic. We know that the way to deal with sexual abuse does not go through the chancery.
Probably more interesting will be the discussions on liturgy.
Could Cardinal Rigali’s absence mean that he is actually so disgraced among his brothers that he doesn’t dare show his face? Hmm.
I wonder — does canon law include a law forbidding bishops to call down their brethren publicly? The ancient bishops certainly complained about each other, didn’t they?
The Catholic Culture News site is reporting that the Vatican will have a big conference in 2012 about sexual abuse. Looks like it’s going to be a big deal. But will it accomplish anything towards making bishops accountable?
By the way, this catholic culture site’s news service is quite good, and the site includes a library of Catholic works. It’s “About” page is interesting — it says the site if for “faithful Catholics”, and that it is especially appreciative of the teachings of Pope Benedict XVI. No mention of JP II “the Great”. Hmmm. Have the times started to change even among “the faithful”?
Ann: I’ve always avoided the catholic culture site for a few reasons. First, they are always e-mailing members, asking for donations–thousands and thousands of dollars–to keep themselves afloat. Second, while they are hard on the bishops regarding their handling of the sex-abuse scandal, they also hew to a staunchly conservative political and social agenda, often taking a tone that reminds me of the New Oxford Review and folks like George Weigel. And finally–and most distressing to many who follow this blog–their review of Catholic Web sites places Commonweal and America Magazine in the “danger” category, i.e., not up to their expectations for “fidelity” to the church. (www.catholicculture.org/culture/reviews/). I guess Grant, Mollie, et al., are all a bunch of heretics!
Here’s Catholic Culture’s scoop on Commonweal:
Commonweal is an independent journal of opinion edited and managed by lay Catholics. It publishes editorials, columns, essays, poetry, reviews of books, movies, and plays, a selection of cartoons, and letters to the editors. Unfortunately, the magazine does not seem to hold fidelity to the Magisterium in very high regard. By its own admission, the tone and attitude of the articles varies dramatically depending on the author. Over the last few years it has published articles advocating the ordination of women, defending dissident theologian Charles Curran, and many articles openly criticizing the Vatican and its policies. The usefulness of this site and the magazine itself seems to lie only in researching what dissidents are saying.
Review Ratings what do these ratings mean?
First Evaluated: 01/10/2003; Last Updated: 01/18/2010
Select articles from issues since 1924 Resources
Fidelity: Makes no attempt to keep its articles in conformity with the Magisterium. Example(s)
Fidelity: Negative in tone and unduly critical of Church leaders, lacking a “Mind of the Church.” Example(s)
Fidelity: Americanist in its approach towards Church doctrine and authority. Example(s)
Then you’d better stop spending so much time here, Frank. Danger!
I am interested in whether Commonwealers are insulted by the Catholic Culture assessment or embrace it? By embrace, I don’t mean the negative associations they make, but, for example, when they claim “Makes no attempt to keep its articles in conformity with the Magisterium” do you deny that, or affirm it from a positive viewpoint?
I do think their insistence on absolute Magisterial obedience is misguided when they are talking about a lay publication such as Commonweal. As opposed to say, America magazine under Fr. Reese, which is an official church publication of the Jesuits.
I note that the “leadership” consists of just three lay men. Who are they to judge every Catholic website thus? Who are they to set up their own online catechism with chosen excerpts from various official documents? But it seems to me that those “ultra-orthodox” Catholics (as marginal as ultra-orthodox Jews) may have found a way, in spite of their arrogance, to get attention and claim to be witnesses for the truth. They push their ideas, not by careful reasoning, but by careful cherry-picking, in official church documents, of assertions supporting their opinions. They seem to avoid direct quotes of the bible, probably to avoid “Protestantization” as they call it. They label people who disagree with them using terms that are neutral for the general public but grave in Catholic parlance. That seems to be the way to go in order to have a voice in the Vatican.
They also don’t like a publication by the Benedictines of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville with a hilarious summary: “This site is published by Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota and is devoted to information about the Benedictines and their spirituality. Unfortunately, it presents a prime example of the decline and fall of many of the Western religious communities. There are a number of excellent resources, such as its archival materials, which stem from the days when the Order was healthy. But everything on the site which pertains to contemporary concerns points to the fashionable neo-paganism which too many mainstream orders have substituted for the Faith over the past generation. ” http://www.catholicculture.org/culture/reviews/view.cfm?recnum=103&repos=2&subrepos=0&searchid=758911
Catholic Culture has the right to express its opinion, and let’s be clear that is all that the site expresses, an opinion when it ranks other web sites. To lump the sites together that they do: progressive and sedevacantist, liberal and traditionalist, sound and unsound, demonstrates the value of their opinion. The site has no juridical standing in the Church. In the end they are telling you what they like and what they don’t like, and to give them any more status than that is unwarranted.
Commonweal, America have no juridical standing in the Church either, and these sites too express their opinion on matters that they deem important to their readers. It is up to each rational individual to read through the posts on these sites or the articles in their print versions and decide whether or not cogent, coherent, compelling arguments are made for the opinions they express. If everyone did that for all the sites listed on Catholic Culture they would show themselves to be adult Catholics, confident in forming reasoned judgments and therefore not in need of Catholic Culture telling them what is dangerous and what is safe.
Oops! Sorry that this post got off-topic.
So . . . How about that bishops’ meeting?
Actually, Mark, you are not off-topic. Catholic Culture believes, as do the bishops, that Catholics cannot decide for themselves what is helpful or detrimental to their faith, but must be warned about threats from those with whom they disagree, like Elizabeth Johnson, CSJ.
Seems to be a novelty to have Catholic bishops have a news conference like this. Is this new or has it been happening. I believe it is valuable to see bishops in a setting like this when they are not necessarily being idiological but attempting to listen and give questions due regard. On the other hand it appears that the questions or questioners were somewhat controlled. Why just four bishops or did I miss something?
Alan, I don’t completely agree. I must say that I wish we had leadership worthy of trust. It would make life as a Catholic much easier if I could listen to my bishop with the expectation that his words will point me in the right direction, if I could have an attitude of trust, if I could turn to his writings for possible explanations when I am confused.
At the same time, given the current leadership, I am incredibly grateful for the separation of church and state. We are so lucky that we do not have to fear jail, flogging, torture, or execution. It is real progress that people like Elizabeth Johnson can write and publish a book, and our bishops can do nothing more about it than throw a temper tantrum. That deserves prayers of thanksgiving!
Can you explain what you mean by the following -
“At the same time, given the current leadership, I am incredibly grateful for the separation of church and state. We are so lucky that we do not have to fear jail, flogging, torture, or execution. It is real progress that people like Elizabeth Johnson can write and publish a book, and our bishops can do nothing more about it than throw a temper tantrum. That deserves prayers of thanksgiving!”
Most of the torture and execution of nuns in the past 100 years or so were committed by Leftist partisans during the Spanish Civil War. Before that, a number of nuns were guillotined by lovers of Reason during the French Revolution. In more recent times, right-wings goons murdered nuns in San Slavador. Today, women are maimed and murdered by the Taliban and other misogynistic elements of Islam.
To imply that “the current leadership” of Catholic bishops needs the restraint of church and state to prevent them from worse things than throwing temper tantrums is … well, let’s just say it’s inaccurate, unfair and uncharitable.
Frank, actually in terms of non-separation of church and state I was thinking about two things: one, the Scarlet letter, and, two, some countries that currently apply the shariah in some extreme way (mysoginistic elements of Islam, as you say).
Yes, it’s uncharitable to assume that if bishops had control of secular justice and police they would use it to punish the people who do not follow their directives. I should just stop commenting on the Church hierarchy. It makes me see red, and I lose all measure in my statements.
Sorry some of you found the Catholic Culture site had no redeeming social value. I still think that it shows itself to be something other than an old-fashioned (e.g., EWTN style) a hard-line, we-and-only-we-are the faithful sort of site. The site does report on less than flattering events in the Church, and its reports include those criticizing the bishops’ who deserve it. Yes, they think they are the ones who know what being truly faithful is, but then so do the rest of us. At least they aren’t Mother What’s-her-name.
Hey, Grant, at least the website is usable :-)
“I note that the “leadership” consists of just three lay men. Who are they to judge every Catholic website thus? Who are they to set up their own online catechism with chosen excerpts from various official documents? ”
I believe there were proposals floating around within the last year or two in the USCCB to devise a way to designate which websites, publications and other media outlets are ‘official’ representatives of the church, and which aren’t. Understandably, that proposal was greeted here with the hermeneutic of suspicion :-). But the discussion of Catholic Culture illustrates that, if it is implemented the right way, there could be some value to the proposal. I don’t think the notion is utterly ridiculous, at least not on its face.
For example, EWTN is a powerful brand name whose web site contains a very large library of resources. I don’t doubt it is one of the most-visited Catholic sites on the web. But there is a lot of content on that site that is decidedly ‘unofficial’ (including ask-an-expert sections whose ‘expert’ advice sometimes strikes me as rather amateurish). I would never recommend the site to a parishioner, even though the site does house quite a few documents that are very official church teaching – papal writings and the like.
RE: Catholic Culture : They sound incredibly arrogant and self-serving rating the “fidelity” of another Catholic periodical which has a viewpoint different from their own. That rating carries about as much weight as “Rate My Teachers”. Gee, maybe I’ll start publishing my own ratings, too, they would be worth about as much.
“…actually in terms of non-separation of church and state I was thinking about two things: one, the Scarlet letter, and, two, some countries that currently apply the shariah in some extreme way (mysoginistic elements of Islam, as you say).”
I lived for a few years in a shariah country (shariah AND martial law at the same time; just tons of fun all the day long ). I’m totally with Claire, let’s keep the religious establishment out of our government.
I find the call for a 50-page document on preaching to be curious. No wonder there was so much enthusiasm, given some of the other items on the docket.
How many bishops even know about Fulfilled in Your Hearing, let alone read it or ensured their seminarians were taught it? (Or adopted its principles and suggestions themselves?) There is excellent material in the document, still not implemented in many quarters, that would net improved preaching in just a year or two. Ken Untener was the only bishop I knew who took preaching really seriously, and we all know what Catholic Culture would have rated him.
At the rate the USCCB is going, in a few years, they’ll be calling for a new catechism.
The church-state separation as we know it has another side. In modern times in the West, it beneficially disarms the Church as Claire noted. It also, by design, insulates the Church from some state and secular influences. Imagine that the national meeting in Seattle were 200 management people from U.S. XXXX Co., Inc. First item on the agenda is a review of policy and practices dealing with the child sexual abuse problems that occasionally crop up. These can damage the company’s reputation, brand name, profits, and customer loyalty.
How would the charter and norms likely differ? What are the highest priorities for protection under the company policy and why? What overall strategy is required to recover from the burdens of history and current events? What is different for the USCCB? Are they as assembled in Seattle able to recognize the scope of their needs?
-NCR reports that the Bishops will “soon” write to Sr. Johnson “thanking” her for her response, but it would take some time to respond to the points she made.
-I thought that the advisory board’s division on whether to implement the new liturgical changes (to older stuff) immediately or gradually was quite interesting, especially given that these folks are chosen for their loyalty as solid faithful Catholics.
(I keep thinking that Maureen Feidler at NCR was spot on in saying there’s a major gulf in the Church today, especially on gender issues) and i think it will continue to grow because there is such deep resistance to change (except moving backwards) among Church policy makers..
-Rumor seems to be that the abuse charter will only be”tweaked;” too bad, we’ve got to maintain Hierachical prerogative.
It’s said that victim groups are unhappy with the choice of a new head of review board who is a deacon, not because of who he is, bu tbecause of his promise of obedience to the hierachy.
My view in looking at the bishops is that the last descriptive word that comes to mind for them is selfless. It made me think of Paul Lakeland’s address at cTSA as a call for humility -something I think is much lacking.
(BTW, I am very grateful to NCR and America for coverage of ACC and CTSA events and I perceive more interest here about USCCB.
Where your treasure is???????”
A furghter footnote about listening.
I see Bishop Morris has released a statement defending himself. What’s interesting to me is that the current America has a letter to the Editor from a Fr. Survil of the diocese of Greensburg, PA noting several large priests conferences had written in support of the Australian priests who supported Bishop Morris.
The presidents of those priests’s conferences were from Chicago, Milwaukee,Pittsburgh, Newark,NJ, and richmond -sad to say no New York or Brooklyn who I guess hav ebeen sufficiently quieted.
In Spokane, the Bishops are to again show they are “fathers/brothers’ to their priests; what does this mean in reality today?
Do “fathers/brothers” really listen???????
“How many bishops even know about Fulfilled in Your Hearing, let alone read it or ensured their seminarians were taught it? (Or adopted its principles and suggestions themselves?) There is excellent material in the document, still not implemented in many quarters, that would net improved preaching in just a year or two. ”
I agree that Fulfilled in Your Hearing is excellent, and every preacher should immerse him/herself in it. It’s available here in .pdf format. http://www.usccb.org/plm/fiyh.pdf
During the 1970s and 80s the bishops gave us Music in Catholic Worship and Liturgical Music Today (liturgical music); Environment and Art in Catholic Worship (worship environment); and Fulfilled In Your Hearing (preaching) – all excellent resources.
During the last few years, the bishops have issued Sing to the Lord to replace the older music documents, and Built of Living Stones to replace the art and environment doc; and so it does seem somewhat inevitable that the preaching doc will also be refreshed. It may be that this rethinking and updating will happen every generation or two.
Sing to the Lord and Built of Living Stones are both very good; it should give us some hope that this new preaching document, whatever it will be, will not be a step backward.
I do expect that this new preaching doc will put more emphasis on the homily as an opportunity for catechesis. In this respect, it would mark quite a major change from Fulfilled In Your Hearing. I suppose that something would be (marginally) gained and something (marginally) lost in this new emphasis. The need for catechesis is undeniable; and I don’t think it’s wrong to use the homily to teach, at least occasionally. I don’t expect that it would try to pull us back to the days I’ve read about, when priests followed catechetical preaching programs in their Sunday homilies and could go for long stretches without engaging in truly liturgical preaching.
I also predict that the new doc may urge preachers to find creative ways of addressing the exigent social issues of our time, of which the cluster of life and marriage issues will surely be at the top of the list. Again, I believe this would somewhat of a departure from Fulfilled In Your Hearing, and again, I don’t think the bishops are wrong to highlight this need.
The big difference might be that MCW, LMT, and EACW were all implemented widely among parish musicians and liturgists. Can we say the same thing for FIYH? Except for Bishop Untener, I think probably not.
Ultimately, the bishops have to persuade their clergy that good/better preaching is needed. Some bishops might manage that pretty well. If a new document helps it, more power to ‘em. When it comes to comparing to lay implementation of liturgy documents, count me a cynic and skeptic when it comes to the bishops, especially this bunch. they want to preach a message. As a group, they don’t care to look at their own failings.
Count me tired of hearing the meme about poor catechesis. While I don’t think catechesis is anywhere near what it could be today, neither do I think we had any great dropoff after Vatican II. My parents’ Catholic friends never impressed me much in their knowledge. And given the persistent myths from the preconciliar Catholic cultural experience, I’d have to say that in my subjective experience, catechesis *for those who want it*, has been much improved since the 60′s. The problem is that sacraments are still seen largely as graduation events, and that the need for ongoing formation and catechesis is pretty much ignored. And if bishops won’t set the example, and allow themselves to be schooled by experts in preaching, theology, administration, and such, what’s the hope for the clergy or the apathetic mainstream Catholic.
Speaking of preachers, it’s interesting that Bishop Sheen, who was a beloved preacher, is up for canonization. How many other American biIshops of recent memory have had that distinction?
As I remember him he was unstuffy, funny, and appreciated the fact that ordinary folks do have very serious theological questions and concerns. He didn’t just make pronouncements from on high. And he did catechise — remember his blackboard? :-)
Speaking of good homilies, and the coming liturgical change, and Sr. Johnson, there’s Fr. O”Malley over at America’s “The Good Word” talking/homilizing about “Capturing the Trinity” -fuuny,timely and beautiful!
I don’t know how widely FIYH has been used in homiletics programs. It was one of several texts we used when I was in deacon formation early in the previous decade. FWIW, our program made a very conscientious effort to use ‘official’ church texts and do formation more or less “by the book”. I don’t know whether that happens in every seminary and formation program, though.
Another big issue is that, once a preacher graduates from the seminary or formation program, continuing homiletics education can be spotty. I generally go to one preaching workshop/year, generally at an institute affiliated with the archdiocese, and most of them are interesting and some of them have been helpful, but so far, none of them have used FIYH as a primary source. That’s one clue to what I take to be the overall view of the bishops about FIYH.
I praised MCW and EACW, but it’s not a stretch to suppose that many bishops and myriad other critics wouldn’t join me wholeheartedly; there is no doubt that the successor documents were promulgated to correct perceived deficiencies in the originals. I haven’t heard much negative chatter about FIYH – it seems to have largely escaped the wrath of the reform-the-reform crowd – but my remarks about catechesis and focusing on important issues illustrates what I perceive the bishops perceiving: that FIYH needs to be fixed or updated.
On the other hand, you might be right – it may be that a lot of them haven’t read it. How many were ordained to the priesthood and shot out into the church before 1982 (which I believe to be FIYH’s publication date)? I’d guess, quite a few.
“Speaking of preachers, it’s interesting that Bishop Sheen, who was a beloved preacher, is up for canonization.”
Are there any other saints whose cultus has been so electronically mediated, i.e. propagated by the media? Or isn’t it fair to say that of Bishop Sheen?
My concern is that if the institution wants to get serious about preaching, they have to have the will to implement. The alternative is “poor catechesis,” in which the Church has all the resources of information and knowledge at hand, but an unwillingness to impart it actively. All too often, the Church calls a committee for some reason or another, gives a bunch of people busywork, then claps everyone on the back and sends them home.
To be sure, it’s a different bunch of bishops today than the ones who worked (or not) with FIYH in the 80′s. Maybe they need a new document written by their own hand. If so, that might speak to deeper issues: immaturity, lack of respect for tradition, narcissism.
I don’t want to get into the MCW good/bad debate. That’s not at issue. What is at issue is that the document, love it or hate it, was implemented more thoroughly than FIYH. Its detractors may lament it, but they can’t deny it.
I know I’m coming off as particularly cynical on bishops today. I suppose I’m losing my patience with them. I wish they would pick an issue, and stick with it, or delegate people, at least, to ride the pony to the finish line. They have a more pressing concern convincing their priests to improve their proclamation skills for MR3.
My frank assessment is that this is not a good year to zero in on preaching. On the implementation front, they should be working with their priests to ensure the presidential prayers are well done, if not sung. Preaching, if they haven’t been paying attention yet, can probably wait another year or two.
And that doesn’t even take into account the crappy job many of them have done on the Charter.
Successful speakers/preachers, those who transfer the message they intend, aim at the audience they have. Consequences of not doing so were shown often last year when the Pope’s speech was followed by the Vatican spokesman rising to explain, not arcane theological intricacies, but rather what the Pope’s subject was and was not. The audience he stood before wanted to know, and he had left it unclear to them.
The audiences of today, young to old, in the pews and elsewhere, differ from the ones of 25 years ago, as those did from the ones 50 years ago. Eternal verities may persist, but the chance of conveying and illuminating them to others depends completely on how well you understand the others as they are now – their beliefs, facts known for sure, a priori rejections, etc. Fulton Sheen figured it out then and had the wisdom and talent to take advantage of the changing world he lived in. The world’s occupants continue to change, but they seem to receive no attention in talk of improved preaching beyond their deficient catechesis. If improved preaching is intended to deliver, the nature of intended recipients deserves more attention soon, I believe.
St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson took the podium Monday and won the bishops’ approval for a committee to write a 50-page document on effective preaching the Sunday Mass homily. A homily is a reflection on the three Bible readings selected for the Mass of that day. Carlson chairs the conference’s Committee on Clergy, Consecrated Life and Vocations.
The bishops approved his idea after several lined up to add ideas. Most wanted Carlson’s committee to include ideas for preaching in Spanish, ideas from the great African-American preaching tradition, ideas for solid academic basis for preaching and others.
With a smile, Carlson said that the document would be “easy to read” and just 50 pages but that other bishops with ethnic interests or those like himself who have great heart for preaching to youth might come up with supplement material outside the 50-pages. The first draft, open to amendment by the bishops, will be ready in November 2012, Carlson said.
Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, archbishop emeritus of Washington, D.C., congratulated Carlson for taking on this important work “of the New Evangelism” and said that, in most of the 32 years McCarrick has been a bishop, the conference members have talked about such a document but not produced one.
- The text “Fulfilled in your hearing”, 47 pages long, was first published in 1982.
- Cardinal McCarrick became auxiliary bishop in 1977 and bishop in 1981.
- Archbishop Carlson was ordained in 1970 and became auxiliary bishop in 1983.
I won’t comment.
Do read the remainder of the story that Claire linked to directly above – the bulk of it concerns the Dallas Charter and the sex-abuse scandals.
Wonder for what reasons 5 bishops voted against the “tweaks” to the Charter, especially given these were changes dictated by Rome’s “guidelines”? (The story mentions one bishop’s speech objecting to zero tolerance but that hardly seems a reason to vote against equating abuse of mentally challenged adults with abuse of a minor, or with including child porn in the Charter.)
Abp. Carlson, noted above by Claire, with 5 committees collaborating will produce a draft on effective preaching for Sunday Masses. Most Catholics do not attend Sunday Mass. This is apparently an effort at internal evangelization to retain the minority that do, which is commendable. Is there any comparable USCCB effort to communicate effectively with the majority of Catholics, those who don’t go to hear Sunday homilies any more?
Bishop Fulton Sheen made his mark by reaching outward, taking effective advantage of the new communication medium that technology had provided. His voice reached people who rarely or never went to Mass as well as those who never missed a Sunday. He understood how to use the technology of his time, which looks rudimentary today. It is interesting to wonder what he might have said to his brethren if he had been at the assembly in Seattle this week.
The Reckoning Approaches
a poem for the Roman Church
Iron-mouthed anguish moves us
past seeing into knowing
bottomless disregard for
The joyful, intricate, endless struggle
to gain what is good: our mission.
Dread renders us silent in
the un-nameable discord.
We stand stock-still
in its face
calling it impasse.
Looking backwards we find
its threads flashing
in and out of the
Beaten back like a fire
Trenches dug against it.
Looking forward we see
bitter judgments and bankruptcy
and money the least of it.
O God of my heart!
What is to be done?
Intervention: what to expect.
laced with cynical impatience
To yet one more item
to be gotten through
And if we persevere
if our nerve doesn’t fail
then may come
a flutter of recognition:
something is being asked here.
Snarling growls will follow
and we must steel ourselves against
the arguments of devotion and good faith
that fill the air
And secure ourselves to the backbone of hope
while denial and disbelief demand
“Don’t you know who we are?!”
The siren song of celebrity and self-importance
calling in favors, defending disgrace
postponing the reckoning.
Our efforts to support their dignity
exhausted by a mystifying indifference.
It is past time to point toward
the fearful mire
of half-truths and lies
the fruit by which
they are known.