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Italian Group Wants Say in Bishop Selection. An Italian Catholic association in the Archdiocese of Turin, Italy, is asking for wide consultation before selecting a new Archbishop when Cardinal Severino Poletto retires. The association, which calls itself Chicco di Senape (Mustard Seed), promotes lay participation in the Church, and believes all parish priests, lay people and members of religious orders should have a say in naming the qualities needed in their next leader. (The Tablet 2/20/10)

Catholic Population, Lay Catechists Increase, Priest Numbers Static. The new Vatican Yearbook shows that in 2008 the world’s Catholics increased by nineteen million to 1.166 billion, an increase of 1.7 percent, but priests increased by only 1142 to 409,166 or .0027 percent. During the same time period the number of lay catechists increased by three percent to 3,082,562. The number of women religious declined by one percent to 739, 067. (Annuario Pontificio 2010)

Safer Not to Defrock Some Abusive Priests? The director of a British group recently said that it may be a “safer option” not to defrock a priest convicted of child abuse. Adrian Child of the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service recently told a British publication that communities were safer when the Church was able to supervise known abusers and manage their behavior following the completion of their jail sentence: “If there is a body of people around an offender who monitor their day to day activities and help them adopt a ‘good life’ model, this is more effective than brandishing them on the wider community, which evidence suggests could lead to more offending.” (The Tablet 4/17/10)

Fund Established for Women Unjustly Fired by the Church. The Emily and Rosemary Fund has been established to support women who lose employment in the Roman Catholic Church as the result of injustice or discrimination, and to help women who are working to bring about justice and equality in the Church. It is administered by Voice of the Faithful. The first round of applications opened August 10, 2010, and awards will be announced in late November 2010. For more info visit http://votf.org/page/emily-rosemary-fund-women-church/14217

Naples Cardinal Investigated for Kickbacks. Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe of Naples is the subject of a wide-ranging investigation into public works contracts and suspected kickbacks. The investigators are looking at contracts Sepe made with government officials while he was head of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in 2001-2006. Italian newspapers speculated that the cardinal sold property below market value to a government official who then gave public funds for work on the Vatican building housing Sepe’s office. At a June press conference, Cardinal Sepe said the Vatican Secretariat of State reviewed every financial decision. (Catholic News Service, 6/18/2010)

Ancient Painting of St. Paul Discovered in Catacombs of Thecla. In late June the Vatican revealed that a fourth century fresco of Paul was found in a noble woman’s tomb in the Catacombs of Thecla near St. Paul’s Outside the Walls. Believed to be the oldest extant image of Paul, the fresco was found alongside paintings of Peter, Andrew and John. (The Tablet 6/26/2010)  (Ed. note: St. Thecla was much admired by second century Christian women because she assumed a countercultural preaching lifestyle in imitation of St. Paul, who encouraged the leadership of women. This attracted opposition from less enlightened male leaders in later periods of church history.)

British Married Clergy Group Criticizes Plan to Import Anglicans. A married Catholic priest has criticized the Vatican plan to allow married Anglican priests to join the Catholic priesthood. “This is grossly unfair on cradle Catholics who are married and wish to be priests,” said Michael Winter who founded Movement for a Married Clergy (MMC). Winters said he believes the dispensation is a step towards optional celibacy for all priests in the Roman Church. British Bishop Malcolm McMahon has said categorically however that Anglican married laymen would not be accepted for ordination, although if they were already in training they could be accepted on a case-by-case basis. (The Tablet 6/26/10 and 7/17/10)

German Bishop Calls for Women in Decision-Making, Women Deacons. In a public discussion with woman theologian Marianne Heimbach-Steins, Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabruk, Germany said it was obvious that future church leadership could not be confined to ordained men alone. “Who knows what undreamed of possibilities will come our way?” he asked. He mentioned deacons as a function “which women often ‘exactly fulfill.’ ” He said his own diocese welcomed open discussion of these issues. (The Tablet 7/31/10)

Vatican in Red for Third Straight Year. On July 10 the Vatican issued a financial report showing the Vatican City State and the Holy See lost $10.3 million and $5.4 million respectively in 2009. The Vatican City deficit was reduced by half compared the $20.3 million deficit of last year. Officials cited “the effects of the international financial-economic crisis” and listed extraordinary expenditures related to upgrading the communications infrastructure, expanding the Vatican Museums, refurbishing the Vatican Library and maintaining and restoring the papal basilicas. (The Tablet 7/17/10)

Scottish Episcopalians Adopt Inclusive Language for God. Leaders of the Scottish Episcopal Church recently made changes in liturgical prayers so that priests no longer refer to God as “he” and “him.” Other exclusively male nouns such as “mankind” have also been removed. The denomination says its understanding of God remains unchanged. (The Tablet 9/11/2010)


Focus on FutureChurch

Fall 2010

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