Posted in category "Dissent"

Everything That Rises Must Converge

Posted by Censor Librorum on Nov 15, 2009 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Bishops, Dissent, Faith

Everything That Rises Must Converge is a story in  Flannery O’Connor’s  book of the same name. It is a  tale of nostalgia, prejudice, relationships, superiority,  resentment, and ultimately, the space between people who perceive the same thing differently. everything

The title is a quotation from Catholic theologian Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, who imagined an “omega point” at which the “rising” or evolving human being would meet God.

I see the rising as a metaphor describing the  struggle, debate and entanglement  of the many different  strands and tendrils of  thought, belief, and action over what it means to be Catholic. And, at the end, where the distances close as we  all meet in God.

The debate over Catholic identity  has exposed two extremes in Catholicism: what author and scholar George Weigel calls “Catholic lite,” meaning a form of faith sold out to seclarism; and what analyst and correspondent John L. Allen, Jr. terms “Taliban Catholicism,” meaning an angry expression of Catholicism that knows only how to excoriate and condemn.

In recent days there has been a very  public  exchange between Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of Providence,   Rhode Island, and Sen. Patrick Kennedy, D-Rhode Island, over the senator’s support of an amendment to the health care bill before Congress.   The amendment addresses public financing of  abortions.

In a letter published in the diocesan paper and on their website, Bishop Tobin wrote to  Senator  Kennedy saying, “For the moment I’d like to set aside the discussion of health care reform, as important and relevant as it is, and focus on one statement contained in your letter of October 29, 2009, in which you write, “The fact that I disagree with the hierarchy on some issues does not make me any less of a Catholic.” That sentence certainly caught my attention and deserves a public response, lest it go unchallenged and lead others to believe it’s true. And it raises an important question: What does it mean to be a Catholic?” tobin_430

“Although I wouldn’t choose those particular words, when someone rejects the teachings of the Church, especially on a grave matter, a life-and-death issue like abortion, it certainly does diminish their ecclesial communion, their unity with the Church. This principle is based on the Sacred Scripture and Tradition of the Church and is made more explicit in recent documents.”

“But let’s get down to a more practical question; let’s approach it this way: What does it mean, really, to be a Catholic? After all, being a Catholic has to mean something, right?”

“Well, in simple terms – and here I refer only to those more visible, structural elements of Church membership – being a Catholic means that you’re part of a faith community that possesses a clearly defined authority and doctrine, obligations and expectations. It means that you believe and accept the teachings of the Church, especially on essential matters of faith and morals; that you belong to a local Catholic community, a parish; that you attend Mass on Sundays and receive the sacraments regularly; that you support the Church, personally, publicly, spiritually and financially.”

“In your letter you say that you “embrace your faith.” Terrific. But if you don’t fulfill the basic requirements of membership, what is it exactly that makes you a Catholic? Your baptism as an infant? Your family ties? Your cultural heritage?”

I cannot fault the bishop in the points he raises about being a Catholic and the questions he poses to Senator Kennedy publicly.   In his role as teacher and pastor he should do so.

However, what I am uncomfortable  is the reduction of anyone’s  Catholic identity to one issue – abortion. It seems to me that “pro-life” Catholics –bishops included–need to have the same unwavering commitment to feeding, clothing, housing and educating children and young adults; and keeping them out of wars and death row  prison  sentences.  

In a 2006 study by Elizabeth Oldmixon and William Hudson – When Church Teachings and Republican Ideology Collide: The Perspectives of Catholic Republicans in the House of Representatives, a sampling of Catholic Republicans justified not supporting Catholic Social Teaching by seeing its application to most domestic social issues as less authoritative than Church moral teachings on issues like abortion.

On March 10, 2006, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a “Statement on Responsibilities of Catholics in Public Life.”   The bishops were very firm and unqualified in their oppositionto abortion, but their remarks were not limited to this one issue.

“Our faith has an integral unity,” they said, “that calls Catholics to defend human life and human dignity whenever they are threatened. A priority for the poor, the protection of family life, the pursuit of justice and the promotion of peace are fundamental priorities of the Catholic moral tradition which cannot be ignored or neglected. We encourage and will continue to work with those in both parties who seek to act on these essential principles in defense of the poor and vulnerable.”

I really liked what  Kevin J. Farrell, Bishop  of Dallas   said in his May 17, 2009 commencement address at the University of Dallas, an independent Catholic University in Irving, Texas. “If and when others may disagree or have a different approach or have a different slant on Catholic teaching or belief, honest debate, not confrontation, true dialogue, where we seek to understand the other, not facile condemnation, should be the overreaching way we move forward together,” he said in his address. bishopandlazarus

Bishop Farrell posed the question, “What does it mean to be Catholic enough?” and offered several possible answers: “It means adhering to the magisterium of the church and taking very seriously the length, breadth and depth of Catholic tradition…It means taking very seriously the challenge which theologians in the church have always taken up – to face into and revere the contemporary culture and to relate revelation and our Catholic faith to that culture…It does not mean parroting words and phrases from one or another time and place in the church’s history as though that were the only way to speak of things divine and of things Catholic…It means being a leaven in a society that seeks insight, example and inspiration even as it claims to be postreligion, postchurch and post-Christianity.”

“It means being humble before God and each other, acknowledging that no one of us has all the answers to the question, What does it mean to be Catholic enough? We know well that no one of us can ever have all the answers. No theologian or professor or pope has ever had or ever will have all the answers to what it means to be authentically and fully Catholic.”

 

Arch Conservative Bishop Resigns Under a Cloud

Posted by Censor Librorum on Sep 11, 2009 | Categories: Accountability, Bishops, Dissent, Politics

The megalomanic bishop of  Scranton, Pennsylvania, stepped down  on August 31, 2009.   Even the Pope had enough.   martino

Ordinary Catholics had expressed their opinion on his leadership: the Diocese of Scranton’s annual fundraiser fell $274,000 short of its $5.3 million goal–the first time in the two decades since the establishment of the annual drive the diocese did not reach its goal.

Critics of the bishop’s management of the diocese – including his ongoing efforts to consolidate schools and churches – say at least part of the fundraiser’s shortfall was caused by parishioners who withheld donations out of protest.

Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph F. Martino, 63, from the pastoral governance of the Diocese of Scranton for “health reasons.”

Watch a video of the press conference here.

At the press conference, Martino himself alluded to the divisions his style had brought to the diocese, and the toll it had taken on him mentally and physically: “For some time now there has not been a clear consensus among the clergy and people of the diocese of Scranton regarding my pastoral initiatives or my way of governance.   This development has caused me great sorrow, resulting in bouts of insomnia and, at times, a crippling physical fatigue.”

“I seek forgiveness from anyone whm I may not have served adequately as bishop, due to my human limitations,” Martino said, adding later, “As the song says, you have to know when to hold them and when to fold them. And I think it’s time to move on.”

This controversial bishop, who gained national prominence for his strident pro-life advocacy and aggressive criticism of pro-choice Democratic politicians, was still more than a decade away from reaching the Church’s automatic retirement age of 75. Martino’s abrupt resignation, along with the fact he was not reassigned to another post within the Church–but ushered to a rural retreat center–has some church insiders suggesting that the highly unusual move was far from voluntary–and quite possibly the work of a Vatican that has been decidedly less openly critical of the Obama Administration.   Church insiders also say Martino had worn out his welcome with his brother bishops in the U.S., as he began to totter dangerously over the line of separation of Church and State with his demagogue pronouncements on  his Catholic teaching.

Martino’s departure came just weeks after the Archbishop of Santa Fe became the first Church leader to speak out publicly about the increasingly political behavior of a small minority of bishops within the conference. Archbishop Michael Sheehan told the National Catholic Reporter on August 12 that he spoke out during the bishops’ meeting in June, arguing that they risked “isolat(ing) ourselves from the rest of America by our strong views on abortion and the other things. We need to be building bridges, not burning them.”

From the start of his six-year tenure in Scranton, Martino alienated many with his abrasive style. He frequently clashed with the local Catholic universities–including the Jesuit-run University of Scranton–and was dismissive of their ruling bodies, arguing as bishop he would not heed their advice.

Martino seemed to take special pleasure in catigating institutions and individuals that he felt were failing to represent Catholic values.

Last February, Martino blasted another local college, Misericordia University, for inviting Keith Boykin, an openly-gay author, Clinton administration staffer and Harvard Law classmate of President Obama, to speak on campus. The university, run by the Sisters of Mercy, was “seriously failing in maintaining its Catholic identity,” Martino charged.   He also sought to close down the institution’s program on diversity. boykin

Also in February, Martino sent a letter to the leaders of three Irish-American organizations threatening to  close St. Peter’s Cathedral in Scranton during St. Patrick’s Day celebrations if groups “honor pro-abortion officials” by inviting them to speak or otherwise be honored during events in which the church might be involved.   Ultimately, the Mass was held, but not before he again threatened to shut the cathedral if members of the local Catholic teachers’ union were invited to march in the St. Patrick’s Day parade.   Bishop Martino refused to recognize the union.

During the 2008 presidential campaign Bishop Martino focused particular attention on vice presidental nominee Joseph Biden, the Scranton’s native son and Catholic Democrat. The bishop declared that Biden would be denied Communion if he tried to receive it at any church in the diocese, which covers the northeast corner of the state. “I will be truly vigilant on this point,” said Martino.   And he warned his parishioners there would be dire consequences for supporting Biden and the Democratic ticket.   In October, just prior to the election, Martino directed that a letter be read at all Sunday Masses, charging that a vote for a pro-choice politician was the same as supporting “homicide.”

Bishop Martino also called on priests and Eucharistic Ministers to act on their own to deny Communion–the central element of Catholic belief and worship–to any public officials “who persist in support for abortion and other intrinsic evils.”

One of major incidents contributing to Martino’s downfall came when he showed up unannounced as a voter-education forum at a Honesdale parish. Martino took the microphone and proceeded    to criticize the organizers for discussing a comprehensive election guide, “Faithful Citizenship,”  endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, instead of the letter he had drafted for the diocese on abortion.

When a nun at the forum reminded Martino that Faithful Citizenship had been prepared and endorsed by the entire bishops’ conference Martino responded, “No USCCB document is relevant in this diocese. The USCCB doesn’t speak for me,” he declared. “The only relevant document…is my letter. There is one teacher in this diocese, and these points are not debatable.”

Such comments didn’t endear him to the parishioners who organized the forum, or to his immediate superior, Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali.   As the head of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, Rigali is just as opposed to abortion as Martino.   But he is a much more politic figure. holdinghat

Many think Martino finally overstepped this spring when he started training his sights on Bob Casey, Jr., the Democratic senator from Pennsylvania and a staunchly pro-life Catholic. Casey’s late father, the former governor of Pennsylvania, is still revered by Catholics for speaking out against the Democratic Party’s support for abortion rights. Bu that didn’t stop Martino from sending Casey letters–also issued as press releases from the Diocesan office–warning the sentor that his oppostion to abortion was insufficient. In one such letter, Martino wrote that Casey “persist(s) formally in cooperating with the evil brought about by this hideous and unncessary (abortion) policy” and suggested that the senator could be denied Communion in the Scranton diocese.

The situation came to a head this spring, when King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, PA invited Senator Casey to speak at its commencement ceremony. Objecting to Casey’s vote to confirm former Kansas governor Kathleen Sebelius (a Catholic who supports abortion rights) as Secretary for Health and Human Services, Martino said it was “sad and disappointing” that the college chose to honor a Democrat who could not “muster the courage” to oppose “the pro-abortion agenda.”

Two days before Casey’s address at King’s College, Cardinal Rigali issued a statement “applauding” the senator for introducing legislation to promote policies that encourage women facing unplanned pregnancies to carry their babies to term. In the highly ritualized world of Church communication, the Cardinal’s announcement was akin to a public smackdown of Martino.   One month later, Martino was summoned to Rome, and submitted his resignation.   It was formally accepted in July, and he was out by the end of August.

During his farewell press conference, Martino was unapologetic. “I did what my mother told me to do,” Martino said. “She would also say, ‘Well, you do the right thing.’ And my conscience is clear.” He said he wasn’t trying to become a rallying point for the most vociferous foes of abortion, but he defended them saying they are often too readily dismissed by the media and even within the church because of their “passion.”

He praised vocal pro-lifers as “very dear to the Lord” because of their outspokenness, and said “bishops should encourage” them as they try to “overturn a profound cancer in our society, this sin, frankly, of murdering 50 million people (referring to the number of abortions since Roe v. Wade in 1973).   I think we have become quite blase about that, and that scares me very much.”

“By the world’s standards perhaps I have not been successful here,” Martino concluded. “But I did what I thought was right.”

Clearly, not everyone agreed with that self-assessment.

The bishop’s high-profile controversy, and reports of low morale among the diocese’s parishioners and priests, did not go unnoticed around the country and in Rome, church observers say.

“It’s not the people who left the church that bothers Rome,” said Joseph K. Grieboski, a Scranton native and founder and president of the Washington, D.C.-based Institute on Religion and Public Policy. “It’s the people who stayed and are disaffected.

“People who are going to leave are going to leave no matter what, and the bishop became an excuse. It’s the people who stayed and said, ‘I stayed despite him,’ that’s what bothered Rome and that’s what bothered his fellow bishops.”

 

Spicy Stories, Snits, Snubs and No Perdonanza

Posted by Censor Librorum on Sep 5, 2009 | Categories: Accountability, Bishops, Celebrities, Dissent, Humor, Lesbians & Gays, Politics, Popes, Scandals

A few days ago, Pope Benedict XVI asked the Italian Bishops’ Conference for an “assessment” after the editor of its newspaper, Avvenire, was accused by another publication of homosexual behavior and harassment.

“His Holiness has asked for information and an assessment of the current situation,” said a statement posted last week on the website of the bishops’ group, which publishes the daily Avvenire.

Yesterday, Dino Boffo, director of the Italian Catholic newspaper Avvenire, resigned–ostensibly in the wake of a tumultuous feud with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. dino-boffo

The row erupted after Boffo ran a series of stories in Avvenire that criticized the immigration policies and personal life of the prime minister.

Letters from readers complained that a Roman Catholic newspaper had a moral duty to denounce divorce, consorting with teenage girls, naked poolside parties and the prime minister being caught on tape telling a prostitute to wait for him in “Putin’s bed” while he showered.

Boffo, the editor, began to weigh in. “People have understood the unease, the mortification, the suffering this arrogant neglect   of sobriety has caused the Catholic Church,” Boffo wrote last month.

Under cover of a paper owned by his brother, Paolo Berusconi, the prime minister retaliated.

Under a front page banner headline, Il Giornale, ran an article accusing Avvenire, the official newspaper of the Italian Bishops Conference, of running a “moralistic campaign” against Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, 72. The article went on to scrutinize Dino Boffo, 57, Avvenire‘s top editor, claiming he had a homosexual affair and had accepted a plea bargain in 2004 for harassing the wife of his lover.

The Il Giornale article openly admitted that the article was in response to Boffo’s criticisms of Berlusconi’s private life, and called Boffo a hypocrite.

In a statement, Mr. Boffo described the report as an “absurd” attempt to smear his reputation. Mr. Boffo described himself as “the first victim” in the 2001 harassment case. He didn’t elaborate on the matter.

After the story appeared, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the Vatican Secretary of State and deputy to Pope Benedict XVI, telephoned Mr. Boffo to offer his “solidarity.”

He was joined by Cardinal Dionigi Tettamanzi, the Archbishop of Milan, who said he had offered Mr. Boffo his “esteem and gratitude.”

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, the head of the bishops conference, described the attack on Mr. Boffo as “disgusting.”

Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, former secretary to the late Pope John Paul II and now Archbishop of Krakow in Poland, said it was “the first time a Catholic paper has been attacked with such violence.” He added that he was “very worried by the moral decadence into which Italy is sliding because of the behavior of certain important political leaders.”

Il Giornale ‘s attack escalated when another editorial aimed at the Catholic Church itself, mocking not just the “hypocrisy” of sexually active priests with “weak flesh,” but even the “Mitteleuropean” accent of Pope Benedict XVI, a German.

Earlier in the week Il Giornale reported how Dino Boffo had been successfully sued by a woman who claimed that he had tried to steal her husband from her in 2001. The matter, which involved a couple from Terni, near Perugia, was settled out of court in 2004 with Boffo agreeing to pay a small fine.   The article claimed Boffo had been listed by police in  document as a gay man “noted for this kind of activity.” (It’s not clear–harassment or chasing married men??)

The story dragged in the Italian goverment with Robert Maroni, the Interior Minister, was forced to telephone Mr. Boffo to assure him no such police document existed.

Officials said the alleged police document appeared in reality to be an “anonymous letter” sent to Italian bishops earlier this year.

Prime Minister Berlusconi and his allies had hoped to patch up his relationship with the Catholic Church after months of articles linking Berlusconi with teenage models and “spicy” parties. He denied he paid for sex after an Italian prostitute went public with claims that she slept with Mr. Berlusconi at his residence in Rome.

“Gossip isn’t enough to crucify someone,” Vittorio Feltri, the editor of Il Giornale wrote.

In April, the premier’s wife announced plans for a divorce, accusing him of “consorting with minors.”

“I’ve never had ‘relations’ with minors and have never organized ‘spicy parties,’ retorted Berlusconi. “I’ve simply taken part in engaging dinners which were absolutely in line with morality and elegance. And I’ve never knowingly invited anyone to my house who was not a serious person,” the premier told Il Giornale.

After photos of scantily clad guests and a naked man partying at his Sardinian home were published, Berlusconi then found himself embroiled in an escort scandal when Patizia D’Addario claimed she and other women were paid by Bari businessman Gianpaolo Tarantini to attend parties at the premier’s residences. 19patrizia9

Berlusconi admitted that he was “no saint” after the left-leaning daily La Repubblica and sister weekly Espresso posted audio takes and transcripts that it alleges are of conversations between the premier and a call girl on their websites.

Friends of the prime minister warned him he is wadding into dangerous waters with the church that could harm him politically. Many Italians care about what candidates have its normally implicit support. The church generally supports candidates on the right, like Mr. Berlusconi, making the current confrontation that much more unusual and significant.

But Berlusconi’s popularity has started to drop in the polls, and he appears deeply worried about further damage, especially from moderate Catholic voters.   This week he announced he was bringing defamation lawsuits against several publications that have been critical of him, part of what his critics and allies alike   worry is a dangerous trend toward treating any criticism as disloyal and possibily illegal.   (Hmmmm…does this sound familiar in some Church circles??!!)

As part of an effort to mend relations with the Vatican, Mr. Berlusconi had planned to attend a high profile religious service and dine with the Vatican’s No. 2 official when the Holy See issued a statement withdrawing the dinner invitation. The statement also said that Mr. Berlusconi wouldn’t attend the service, known as the “Perdonanza,” or the annual day of pardon for sins. perdonanza-celestana-aquila

Mr. Berlusconi’s plans to attend the Perdonanza was seen by the Italian public as a gesture in the direction of atonement.

The service was established in the 13th century by Pope Celestine V, who decreed that anyone who entered the basilica on August 28 and 29 could receive a plenary indulgence–if they have already confessed to their sins in private and taken Communion.

In its statement, the Vatican said Mr. Berlusconi’s dinner plans with Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, who officiated Friday’s service, was called off partly out of concern that the meeting woul be “exploited.” The Vatican official said the Holy See didn’t want to be viewed as giving a “benediction” to Mr. Berlusconi’s political positions and his personal life.

The situation become more complicated and shaded when Gian Maria Vian, editor of the Vatican’s semi-official daily, L’Osservatore Romano, didn’t speak out on behalf of Boffo in an interview with the Italian newspaper Il Courier della Sera. giovanni-maria-vian-vatic-001

Vian restated the decision of the Holy See’s newspaper not to write about Berlusconi’s private life because the paper is international and is not designed to cover controversies in Italian politics.

Vian further expressed his opinion that some recent editorials in Avenire were exaggerated when, for example, one article compared the government’s position on immigration to that of the Italian administratin prior to the Holocaust.

The comments of Vian were interpreted   as constituting a point of contention between the Vatican newspaper and the Italian Bishops’ Conference. Benedict XVI sought to dispel any ideas of a rift by personally calling Cardinal Bagnasco, president of the conference, and affirming his esteem for the episcopal body.

Both in articles published in Avvenire,as well as in the letter to Cardinal Bagnasco tendering his resignation, Boffo, who is married, insists on his innocence and states that Il Giornale‘s accusations are not true.

He thanked the Church for its support, but aded that it “has better things to do than strenuously defend one person, even if unfairly targeted.”

Boffo said he believes the attacks against him are due to the fact that Avvenire is a voice that is independent of “secular power.” He asks, “What future of liberty and responsibility will there be for our information?”

Cardinal Bagnasco expressed in a communique gratitude to Boffo “for the commitment shown over many years with competence, rigor and passion, in fulfilling such a precious assignment for the life of the Church and of Italian society.”

The cardinal also expressed his “closeness and support” to the former director. ppbagnasco230608

Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco was in the news a few years ago when he claimed that permitting gay marriages was merely the beginning of slippery slope.   “Why then say ‘no’ to incest? Why say ‘no’ to the pedophile party in Holland?” he asked.

Draw your own conclusions.


 

The Catholic DNA of Frank McCourt

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jul 29, 2009 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Celebrities, Dissent, Faith, Humor

Frank McCourt, a former New York City schoolteacher who turned his miserable childhood in Limerick, Ireland, into a phenomenally popular, Pulitzer prize -winning memoir, Angela’s Ashes, died on Sunday, July 19, 2009. He was 78 and lived in Manhattan and Roxbury, Conn. 14frankmccourt

“When I look back on my childhood,” McCourt said in Angela’s Ashes, “I wonder how I survived it at all. It was, of course, a miserable childhood: The happy childhood is hardly worth   your while. Worse than the ordinary miserable childhood is the miserable Irish childhood, and worse yet is the miserable Irish Catholic childhood.”

The book’s hilarious and irreverent chapter on Mr. McCourt’s preparation for First Communion is reminicent of pre-Vatican II lessons on both sides of the pond.

“He tells us we have to know the catechism backwards and forwards,” Mr. McCourt writes. “We have to know the Ten Commandments, Divine and Moral, the Seven Sacraments, the Seven Deadly Sins. We have to know by heart all the prayers, the Hail Mary, the Our Father, the Confiteor, the Apostles’ Creed, the Act of Contrition, the Litany of the Blessed Virgin Mary…He tells us we’re hopeless, the worst class he’s ever had for First Communion, but as sure as God made little apples he’ll make Catholics of us, he’ll beat the idler out of us and Sanctifying Grace into us.”

The day for First Communion finally arrives.   He’s late to church.

“We ran to the church. My mother panted along behind with Michael in her arms. We arrived at the church just in time to see the last of the boys leaving the altar rail where the priest stood with the chalice and the host, glaring at me. Then he placed on my tongue the wafer, the body and blood of Jesus. At last, at last.”

“It’ s on my tongue. I draw it back.”

“It stuck.”

“I had God glued to the roof of my mouth.   I could hear the master’s voice. Don’t let that host touch your teeth for it you bite God in two you’ll roast in hell for eternity.”

“I tried to get God down with my tongue but the priest hissed at me, Stop that clucking and get back to your seat.”

“God was good. He melted and I swallowed Him and now, at last, I was a member of the True Church, an official sinner.”

In fact, Frank McCourt ended up to be one of the Church’s principal public antagonists. He delighted in delivering bawdy riffs against what he saw as the church’s hypocrisy, cruelty and joylessness. “I was so angry for so long, I could hardly have a conversation without getting into an argument,” he once said.

Peter Quinn, the novelist and a  practicing Catholic, wrote in an email that his friend was neither “contemptuous of believers in general nor Catholics in particular. On a trip we took together in 1998, he went to Mass with me on the Sunday morning that we landed. He respected the fact that I had reached my own peace with the Catholic Church. ‘It’s a good thing,’ he once told me, ‘that you’re raising your kids in the Catholic faith. At least they’ll have a map to follow or throw away. In either case, they’ll know where they are.'”

Mr. McCourt felt it was impossible to fully divorce himself from the church. So when he stood before Pope John Paul II in 2002, accompanying a delegation of 40 mayors from around the world, the little Irish Catholic boy in him took over.   He knelt, took the pope’s hand, and kissed his ring.

“I got up and he’s looking at me with his dazzling blue Polish eyes and extraordinary complexion,” Mr. McCourt told the Commonwealth Club of California, “I had a feeling he knew. He knew what a fraud and phony I was. Then I walked away. And I have to admit, as turbulent as my relationship with the church has been (although they don’t know and they don’t care), I was walking on water practically. I was walking on air.”

 

Bishop Gaillot

Posted by Censor Librorum on Jun 27, 2009 | Categories: Bishops, Dissent, Faith, Lesbians & Gays, Popes

The last time Bishop Gaillot was feted in the United States was at the 1996 Call to Action Conference in Detroit. The title of his address was, “My Option for the Poor.” You can read it here.

After that, I haven’t heard about him. He is a man who deserves never to be forgotten, although that is what Pope John Paul II hoped, when Gaillot was removed from the Diocese of Evreux, France and appointed to an ancient and fictitious see, Partenia.

The See of Partenia, now located in the desert of Algeria, has not existed in reality since the 5th century when it was in Mauritania. But, thanks to the web, Gaillot managed to outwit the Vatican and continues to teach and pastor via the internet as a “virtual bishop.”

“As Partenia does not exist anymore” says Gaillot, “it becomes the symbol of all who feel like non-existing in society or in the Church. It is a huge diocese without borders where the sun never sets.”   Travel to Partenia here.

Bishop Gaillot didn’t start off as a radical.   Little by little, his contacts with people who came to see him and events to which he chose to respond led him to some unexpected places:

He called on all Catholics to persist in dialog without condemnation so that the church can, as Jesus did, embrace the dispossessed: those marginalized by poverty; those living with AIDS, those in prison, those ostracized for homosexuality; and ultimately, those struggling on the borderlands of their own Christian faith. FRANCE/

“If we take as our starting point the poor, everything will be renewed – liturgy, catechism, the life of the church. It changes the way we think, pray, our very lifestyle. But if we take as our starting point the Status Quo, we will never be able to catch up with the Good News.”

Gaillot infuriated members of the French Bishops’ Conference and the Vatican with his outspokenness on a number of issues including clerical celibacy, the use of condoms for the prevention of AIDS, ordination of women and married men to the priesthood, and especially, homosexuality.

“The church must be where there is need, and homosexuals have suffered innumerable discriminations. If the church doesn’t free people from oppression, what purpose does it serve?” he asked.

In 1988 Gaillot took the unprecedented step for a Roman Catholic bishop of blessing a homosexual union after the couple requested it in view of their imminent death from AIDS.

He was the only French bishop to participate in the ceremony of the transfer of the ashes of the Abbe Henri-Baptiste Gregoire to the Pantheon, a burial place for “the great men of France.”

Gregoire (1750-1831), a Catholic priest and bishop, was a leading French abolitionist at the turn of the 18th century, a participant in the Revolution of 1789, and a member of its governing assembly.

Gregoire was among the most active deputies of the Assembly, advocated abolishing Negro slavery and granting citizenship to Jews. He objected to some provisions of the Civil Constitution of the Clergy, but agreed to swear the oath of allegiance and was the first member of the clergy to take it (1790). Because of this, the hierarchy of the church refused to give him the last sacraments. (Although he was given them by some sympathetic priests in defiance of the ban.)

After these and other “incidents,” Pope John Paul II relieved   Bishop Gaillot of his responsibilities as bishop of Evreux on January 13, 1995. After being removed from his office Bishop Gaillot wrote the following statement:

“I had a dream: to be able to accompany the poor, the excluded, the ignored, without having to explain myself or justify myself to the rich, the secure, or the comfortable. To be able to go where distress calls me without having to give advance notice. To be able to show my indignation at destitution, injustice, violence, the sale of weapons, and managed famines without being considered a meddler in politics.”

“I dreamed of being able to live my faith within the church, but also in society, in my time and with my times. I dreamed of the freedom to think and express myself, to debate and criticise, without fear of the guillotine. I dreamed of the being different within the unity of faith, and remaining myself, alone and yet in solidarity with others. Ultimately, I hoped to be able to proclaim a Gospel of freedom without being marginalised.”

 

The Investigation of the LCWR

Posted by Censor Librorum on May 15, 2009 | Categories: Accountability, Bishops, Dissent, Faith, Politics

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an association that icludes the leadership of most U.S. women’s congregations, is under investigation by the Vatican.

Cardinal Levada said the assessment of the LCWR will be conducted by the Bishop of Toledo, Ohio, Leonard P. Blair. Bishop Blair is a member of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine. levada

The Vatican assessment became necessary, according to Levada, because at the 2001 meeting between LCWR and the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which took place in Rome, the women were invited “to report on the initiatives taken or planned” to promote the reception of three areas of Vatican doctrinal concern: the 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio sacerdotalis, the 2000 declaration Dominus Jesus from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and “the problem of homosexuality.”

Cardinal Levada informed conference leaders:   “Given both the tenor and the doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this Dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present.”

The National Catholic Reporter, an independent newspaper, said the Vatican ordered the probe because the sisters had not addressed issues raised by the Vatican in 2001 about their promotion of church teaching on homosexuality, salvation and the priesthood, which the Vatican said is reserved for men.

The ripples from  a keynote by Sinsinawa Dominican Sister Laurie Brink at the 2007 LCWR assembly  roused the Vatican machinery into action. lauriebrink

In that keynote address, titled A Marginal Life: Pursuing Holiness in the 21st Century,” Sr. Laurie Brink urged leaders of Catholic religious orders to make clear, if painful choices about the future of religious life.   She began with this assumption: “Old concepts of how to live the life are no longer valid.”   The rest of the speech outlined four possible options or outcomes as a starting point for discussion.

–  “Death with dignity and grace” as opposed to becoming a “zombie congregation” that staggers on with no purpose. This option must be taken seriously, since the average age of the 67,000 sisters and nuns in the United States is 69. Many retreat ministries are closing, and large “mother houses” are struggling with finances, while some congregations no longer invite or accept new candidates.

– Brink noted that some orders have chosen to turn back the   clock – thus winning the favor of Rome. “They are putting on the habit, or continuing to wear the habit with zest…Some would critique that they are the nostalgic portrait of a time now passed. But they are flourishing.   Young adults are finding in these communities a living image of their romantic vision of religious life.”

– During this era of crisis and decline, some Catholic religious orders have chosen to enter a time of “sojourning” that involves “moving beyond the church, even beyond Jesus.” “Religious titles, institutional limitations, ecclesiastical authorities no longer fit this congregation, which in most respects is post-Christian,” added Brink, a former journalist who is a biblical studies professor at Chicago’s Catholic Theological Union.

For these women, the “Jesus narrative is not the only or the most important narrative…They still hold up and reverence the values of the Gospel, but they also recognize that these same values are not solely the property of Christianity. Buddhism, Native American spirituality, Judaism, Islam and others hold similar tenets for right behavior within the community, right relationship with the Earth and right relationship with the divine.”

She described the Benedictine Women of Madison as having a commitment to “ecumenism” which led them “beyond the exclusivity of the Catholic Church into a new inclusivity, where all manner of God is welcomed. They are certainly religious women, but they are no longer women religious as it is defined by the Roman Catholic Church. They choose as a congregation to step outside the Church in order to step into a greater sense of holiness.”

– Finally, some women are fighting on, hoping to achieve reconciliation someday with a changed, egalitarian church hierarchy. “Theologians are denied academic freedom. Religious and laywomen feel scrutinized simply because of their biology. Gays and lesbians desire to participate as fully human, fully sexual Catholics within their parishes,” Brink said. Many Catholics also oppose the “ecclesial deafness that refuses to hear the call of the Spirit summoning not only celibate males, but married men and women to serve” as priests.

Read Brink’s 2007  address and the keynotes from the LCWR 2008, 2006, 2005, 2004, 2003 and 2003 assemblies here.

The blog, Journey to a New Pentecost, provided a very crisp and thorough assessment of the LCWR investigation.   You can read it here.

Brink’s comment about being “post-Christian,” and the sentence: “They are certainly religious women, but they are no longer women religious as it is defined by the Roman Catholic Church,” may have been the spark that ignited the gas can.

Amy Welborn, a Catholic blogger who writes on Beliefnet said: “If you are going to be post-Christian, then be post-Christian. I don’t say that with snark. It’s just reality. If you’ve moved on – move on.   Step out from the protective mantle of identity that gives you cachet, that of ‘Catholic nun.'”

Here was a comment on America Magazine’s blog that summed things up for this conservative reader: “The Vatican investigation is long overdue. If you want to be a social worker then be a social worker–not a nun. A nun’s first allegiance is to the Church.   I am quite tired of running into nuns who: look like aged hippies, push for women’s ordination, push for abortion, push homosexuality as an ok lifestyle and do this, supposedly, in the name of Christ.”

Sr. Jeannine Gramick, former co-director of New  Ways Ministry,  commented on the probable political reasons for the investigation: “It is difficult for me to believe that the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) has not already made a predetermined conclusion. This seems to be the Vatican’s modus operandi. An “investigation” process puts a veneer of fairness to the result. Consider the investigations of theologians like Charles Curran, Leonardo Boff, Roger Haight, etc. etc. No matter what the investigating party does to please them (or not please them) the outcome will be the same. For example, in the Vatican investigation of Fr. Robert Nugent and me, Bob agreed to make some “profession of faith” about the church’s teaching on homosexuality while I refused. The sanction for each of us was identical.”

“In this case, I expect the predetermined outcome to be a change in the canonical relationship of LCWR to the Vatican. The Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious (CMSWR), the traditional group of nuns formed in 1192 by Cardinal Hickey, was not to be the official group representing women religious to the Vatican. By 1195, they not only had canonical status but also were favored over LCWR (e.g., CMSWR had more delegates than LCWR at the synod on Religious Life.) The Vatican would like CMSWR to be the official representative of the leaders of US women’s communities. I think the Vatican is using this investigation to usurp LCWR’s role and replace them with CMSWR.”

I agree with Amy Welborn. I also tend to agree with Jeannine on the politics of the situation.   LCWR gave the Vatican the opening it needed by Sr. Laurie Brinks candid–but public–remarks about the choices facing the communities of the LCWR and the options a few members have chosen to pursue. They were imprudent, considering how many enemies LCWR has in the Church.

However, in addition to ideological purity, there is also the issue of property and endowments.   These aging communities are sitting on a lot of very valuable real estate.   I think the church definitely has an interest in what happens to it when communities begin to fold and the property is sold off.   What happens to the money?   That may be easier to influence or manage if a more traditionalist group of sisters is involved.

There is another investigation underway running parallel to the investigation of the LCWR.

On March 10, 2009, the Vatican ordered an apostolic visitation of the institutions of the Legionaries of Christ following disclosures of sexual impropriety by the order’s late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.   The letter was signed by Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, Sectetary of State. It was addressed to Father Alvaro Corcuera, director general of the Legionaries and its lay association, Regnum Christi.

In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI disciplined Fr. Maciel.   He was banned from exercising his ministry in public and told to retire to a life of prayer and penitence, following allegations that he sexually abused about 30 boys and young men over a period of 30 years.   The Vatican initially stonewalled the sexual abuse investigation for well over a decade.

The Legionaires of Christ were much admired by the late Pope John Paul II for its conservative views, strict loyalty to Vatican teaching, fund raising ability and success in attracting seminarians.

But it was not until Fr. Maciel’s death in 2008 that his secret life was revealed. In February 2009 the Legionaries admitted he kept a mistress and fathered a daughter who is now in her 20s.

The leadership of the order recently admitted that Maciel, a cult figure among Legionaires, led a “double life” after the discovery of his liaison with the mother of his daughter.

Several prominent Catholic commentators said publicly–and some Vatican officials said privately–that the situation called for an outside investigation into the Legionaries of Christ, in order to ascertain the truth, determine whether officials of the order covered up Father Maciel’s misconduct and judge whether Father Maciel’s teachings could still inspire the order.

Also at stake in the investigation is the significant estate Maciel left behind–which his daughter could have a claim to…

The probe could also uncover more cases of sexual abuse similar to those committed by Fr. Maciel.

“We have testimonies that there have been other Legionaires who followed Maciel’s example,” said Jose Barba, the legal representative of eight former Legionaries who started court proceedings against Marciel in 1998. “The ramifications of the problem exist throughout the Legionaires of Christ,” he added.

It will be interesting to compare the end result of each investigation.   It will also be interesting to see if Fr. Maciel’s daughter pursues gaining an inheritence or is offered a settlement by the order.   Children of priests and bishops laying claim to church property is one of the reasons priestly celibacy became a requirement years ago.

 

Cardinal Egan’s Surprisingly Encouraging Remark

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 26, 2009 | Categories: Bishops, Dissent

In a March 10, 2009 interview on the Albany radio station Talk 1300, Edward Cardinal Egan, head of the Archdiocese of New York, suggested the Catholic Church would sooner or later have to consider whether to allow priests to marry.

“I think that it’s going to be discussed; it’s a perfectly legitimate discussion,” Cardinal Egan said, replying to a question from the host, Frederic Dicker, about whether the church’s shortage of priests might spur such a change. “I think it has to be looked at. And I’m not so sure it wouldn’t be a good idea to decide on the basis of geography and culture to make an across-the-board determination.” At another point he said: “Is it a closed issue? No. That’s not a dogmatic stand.”

Egan noted that priests in the Maronite and Melchite churches are allowed to be married with “no problem at all.”

Catholic news media, and conversative pundits especially, were in a spin over the cardinal’s remarks.   What did he mean?

Were his words a parting gift to reformers? A matter-of-fact response by a canon lawyer–which the cardinal is–to a question involving church law? Or was it aimed at his successor – Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan –  who in 2003 soundly rebuffed a discussion by priests in his diocese on the question of celibacy.

Some conservatives dismissed what the cardinal had to say as the comments of a man speaking, as one put it, “above his pay grade.”   But many advocates of church  reform, who have long considered Cardinal Egan a conservative, said his remarks were surprisingly encouraging, albeit a little late in the day. The cardinal, 76, officially retires on April 15th.

The Rev. Richard Vega, president of the National Federation of Priests Councils. which is affiliated with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said such words from a top American prelate, whatever his intent, would “put an issue on the table that a lot of people thought was off the table.” He added: “I think he breathed new life into the hopes of a lot of people.”

One of those people is Sr. Christine Schenk, executive director of FutureChurch, a group promoting the ordination of women and an end to the celibacy rule. “It would have been nice if he had said this five years ago,” she said. “But coming from Egan, I  think it is a sign  that the conversation is ripening. He’s not the poster child for progressivism. I think it shows we are much closer to having this issue addressed by the Vatican than most people  realize.” egan.jpg

Many church experts said Cardinal Egan’s comments were surprising not so much in their content, but in his willingness to say them in publicly.

“In a sense, what he said was obvious,” said Rev. Thomas J. Reese, Jeusit author and former editor of the moderately liberal Catholic magazine America. “But not many cardinals do that. It was kind of brave of him to say what everybody’s been thinking. It’s interesting that he said it as he was leaving.”

 

Hans Kung’s Le Monde Interview

Posted by Censor Librorum on Mar 1, 2009 | Categories: Accountability, Arts & Letters, Dissent, Popes

“The church risks becoming a sect.   Many Catholics no longer expect anything from this pope. It’s very sad,” Kung said in an interview published by the French newspaper Le Monde on February 24, 2009. hans_kung_colloquium.jpg

Fr. Kung noted that one of the four traditionalist bishops whose excommunication was lifted by the pope minimized the Holocaust, igniting widespread criticism. The pope’s misjudgement on such an important issue, Kung said, reflected his own isolation.

“Benedict XVI has always lived in an ecclesial environment.   He has not traveled much. He’s always remained closed in the Vatican–which is quite similar to how the Kremlin was at one time–where he is safe from criticism,” Fr. Kung said.

Kung went on to way that in his nearly four years in office the pope has shown a lack of pastoral courage and a lack of awareness of the “profound crisis” in the church.   He suggested the pope could make several important gestures:

–Allow divorced and remarried Catholics to receive Communion in some circumstances.

–Take steps to “correct” the 1968 encyclical Humanae Vitae and allow the use of birth control in some cases.

–Abolish the rule of priestly celibacy in the Latin-rite church.

–Institute a new way of electing bishops with the involvement of local Catholics.

Fr. Kung said it would be helpful to call a third Vatican council to deal with these and other issues.

Read the Le Monde interview here.

Fr. Kung’s interview provoked some responses that were humorous…or ironic.   Here are the best from the web..

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, told Vatican Radio he was “hurt” by reading the interview, and contended that the accusations were “unproven, generic affirmations.”

Cardinal Sodano went on to say “Fraternal criticism has always been possible in the church, from the times of Sts. Peter and Paul.   Bitter criticism, on the other hand, especially when it’s so broad, does not contribute to the unity of the church, for which Pope Benedict is working so hard.”

From the blog, Bilgrimage: “Benedict has the reputation for being a great intellectual; yet who more than he has shut down the intellectual life of the Catholic Church, turning it into a sect for the brain-dead.”

From the blog, Enlightened Catholicism: “I expect the blunders will continue unless he decides to launch real reform of the way the church is run. Even in the Vatican you can’t just rely on the Holy Spirit.”

My thanks to the Joseph S. O’Leary homepage, for the above quotes and this rousing call to action: “I suspect in the coming months we will see more initiatives coming from both the laity and clergy calling for real and sustainable change in how Catholicism conducts its business.   It will be coming from people who also really love this Church, even the ones who have left in frustration. It’s way past time for these voices to be heard. The conservative wing of this Church has had their say for the last forty years. The results have been disastrous in the West and placing the blame for these results on those who hae left is rather self serving.” pope.jpg

 


 

Jesus Wept

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 21, 2009 | Categories: Accountability, Bishops, Dissent, History, Lesbians & Gays

Fr. Peter Kennedy, 71, was removed as pastor of St. Mary’s, South Brisbane, Australia, by Archbishop John A. Bathersby earlier this week.   This action was a tremendous loss not only to the parishioners of St. Mary’s, but all Catholics around the world that look for points of light–parishes, groups, schools, retreat centers, religious people, theologians, authors, bloggers–to take hope and comfort in knowing light from an open door shines for us. stmarys-2.jpg

Archbishop Bathersby accused Fr. Kennedy of being “out of communion” with the church by allowing women to preach the homily, giving Communion to gay and divorced people, baptizing babies using unorthodox wording, criticizing the pope and not wearing traditional vestments.

The archbishop’s decree said Fr. Kennedy had “caused harm to ecclesiastical communion in spite of frequent requests from me to do otherwise.”

“The question for me,” said Archbishop Bathersby, “is not so much whether St. Mary’s should be closed down, but whether St. Mary’s will close itself down by practices that separate it from communion with the Roman Catholic Church.”

“In reality St. Mary’s South Brisbane has taken a Roman Catholic parish and established its own brand of religion,” he said. “Undoubtedly it does good, it promotes a strong sense of community, opens its doors to all who wish to come, but its own style of worship and sacramental practice can hardly be described as Roman Catholic.”

The conflict between Archbishop Bathersby and the parish community of St. Mary’s stretches back at least  six years.

In 2004 the Archbishop demanded that Fr. Kennedy comply with Redemptionis Sacramentum, follow the liturgical norms and stop baptizing people “in the Name of the Creator and the Liberator and of the Sustainer.” Fr. Kennedy countered that they were doing this to make the sacrament “more inclusive, less patriarchal.” fr-kennedy.jpg

The parish previously angered conservatives in the church by welcoming gay couples and allowing the Brisbane Gay and Lesbian Choir to perform there in June 2003 as part of Brisbane Pride Festival celebrations. Archbishop Bathersby opposed the performance and said it was “inappropriate.”

Tony Robertson, who belongs to St. Mary’s, said parishioners were rallying to save their parish. Robertson blogs on Out and About with Tony – A Queer Perspective on Life as  a Gay Catholic.

“St. Mary’s is a church which takes seriously its identity as a Catholic community and practices the teachings of the Catholic Church which calls for homosexual persons be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity,” Robertson said.

“Such acceptance calls for practical action which welcomes gay and lesbian people to the life and worship of the community.”

Robertson noted that other Catholic churches also welcome sexual minorities, including one church that flies the rainbow flag among its public decorations.

“Those who have concerns about our support for sexual minorities need to remember that the Catholic Church also teaches that every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.   In this spirit the Church has opened its doors to the Brisbane Lesbian and Gay Pride Choir who use the Church for weekly rehersals as well as supporting the musical and religious culture of St. Mary’s,” he said.

“Gay and lesbian Catholics  who prefer a more traditional worship have always been a presence at the Cathedral of St. Stephen where one of the beautiful stained glass windows is dedicated to a gay member of the famous Mayne Family of Brisbane,” he added.

“Jesus Wept” at the loss of a relationship, not the interpretation of a rule.

Follow the St. Mary’s situation on St. Mary’s Discussion Forum.

Show your support for St. Mary’s on their MySpace page.

Interesting notes on gay history in the Mayne family can be found on page 229 in Colonialism and Homosexuality by Robert Aldrich.

 

The Pelosi Visit

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 19, 2009 | Categories: Dissent, Politics, Popes

nancy-pelosi.jpgThis week, Pope Benedict XVI received the U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, her husband and members of her entourage at the close of his regular Wednesday General Audience in Rome.

Pelosi, a self-proclaimed “ardent Catholic,” has sparked criticism from some conservative U.S.  Catholic bishops for her pro-choice views. She  arrived in Italy on Sunday for an eight-day official visit.

As Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi is second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency, behind only Vice President Joseph Biden, another Catholic who also disagrees with Church teaching on abortion and birth control.  

Benedict’s willingness to meet Pelosi gave some pro-life Catholics agita.

By meeting Pelosi, Benedict signaled he wants lines of communication to remain open with the new American leadership, even though there is no meeting of minds over the issue of abortion.  

Benedict and Pelosi each issued  a statement following the meeting.

“His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death,” the Vatican statement read, “which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators, jurists and those responsible for the common good of society, to work in cooperation with all men and women of good will in creating a just system of laws capable of protecting human life in all stages of development.”

In a statement issued by her office Wednesday, Pelosi said it was “with great joy” that she and her husband, Paul, met Benedict. She said she had praised “the church’s leadership in fighting poverty, hunger, and global warming, as well as the Holy Father’s dedication to religious freedom and his upcoming trip and message to Israel.”

“I was proud to show His Holiness a photography of my family’s papal visit in the 1950s, as well as a recent picture of our children and grandchildren,” said the California congresswoman.

Pelosi’s statement did not mention the pope’s comments on abortion.

The pope’s statement can certainly be read as a rejection of Pelosi’s statements of last summer, when she suggested that the church’s position on abortion had been fluid and ill-defined; and that it’s acceptable for Catholics in public life to take a pro-choice position.

What was said–or unsaid–in that small room in the Vatican that fact remains each of these two Catholic leaders profess to  care deeply about the welfare of  children–those born as well as the  unborn.

The pope cannot be  a single issue Catholic–the way some U.S. bishops and pro-life Catholics are–if he is to attend to the Gospel’s work of justice for all, especially people in need.

Before she went to the Capitol to be sworn in as the first woman Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi attended Mass at her (and my) alma mater, Trinity College in Washington, DC. The late Fr. Robert Drinan was the celebrant, and he offered the Mass in honor of the children of Darfur and Katrina, praying there that “the needs of every child are the needs of Jesus Christ himself.”

“He challenged us,” said Pelosi of the homily, “by saying ‘Imagine what the world would think of the United States if the health and welfare of children everywhere became the top objective of America’s foreign policy! It could happen–and it could happen soon–if enough people cared.'”

“He continued,’Let us reexamine our convictions, our commitments, and our courage. Our convictions and our commitments are clear and certain to us. But do we have the courage to carry them out? God has great hopes for what this nation will do in the near future. We are here to ask for the courage to carry out God’s hopes and aspirations.”

“As he led us in prayer that day, Father Drinan said, ‘We learn things in prayer that we otherwise would never know.'”