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Benedict open to discussing women’s roles. On March 2, a young priest attending a meeting between the Pope and the clergy of Rome, asked why the Church couldn’t allow  more visibility for women in ministry and in governance. Citing the charismatic leadership of Brigit of Sweden, Catherine of Siena and Hildegard of Bingen, Benedict responded that it is proper to ask if it could be possible “to offer more space, more positions of responsibility to women.”  However he ruled out the possibility of ordaining women priests. (National Catholic Reporter 3/10/06)

Hans Kung in “permanent correspondence” with Pope Benedict. After meeting with his old colleague in four hour private audience last September, progressive theologian Hans Kung told the British journal The Tablet that he has remained in “permanent correspondence ever since.” Kung believes Pope Benedict XVI will “make progress in the Church,” and said he discussed  interreligious dialogue, Christianity’s relationship with the natural sciences and the search for “global ethics” with the pontiff. (The Tablet 4/22/06)

Vatican restricts ministry of Legionaries founder, Maciel. After a ten-year investigation, 86 year old Fr. Marcial Maciel Delgollado has been asked by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) to observe a series of restrictions on his ministry.  The decision was made after CDF cardinals, including Cardinal Levada, reviewed documentation of at least 20 allegations of sexual abuse. The restrictions limit Maciel’s public activities such as presiding at Mass, giving lectures or interviews.  Under John Paul II, the 86-year-old Maciel was publicly praised and given prestigious awards. (National Catholic Reporter 5/26/06)

Bishop Tod Brown receives award for just handling of sex abuse claims. The Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities (FADICA) gave its leadership award to Bishop Tod Brown of the Orange Diocese for reaching a $100 million settlement with 90 clergy sexual abuse claimants in January 2005.  “...If you ask me where I found the wisdom and courage to move forward during those days, I have to say it was the personal support, honest advice and professional direction provided to me by the other leaders and experts in our diocese, particularly the laity,” he said. (Catholic Trends 2/11/06)

Eastern Orthodox want to renew order of ordained women deacons.  At the January 2006 Isaac Hecker Lecture at St. Paul’s College in Washington, DC, Orthodox theologian Kyriaki Karidoyanes FitzGerald said that women deacons have “never totally disappeared in the life of the Orthodox churches” and there are signs the Church wants to renew the practice.  FitzGerald noted that Orthodox perspectives on the subject “are important to Catholics, as Catholicism not only recognizes the validity of Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox sacraments [but] the Orthodox Church is also considered as a ‘sister church’ by Rome.” (America, 2/6/06)

Catholics stay, contribute to their parish but not diocese, expect accountability. A recent study from the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) found that Catholic Mass attendance is steady despite the clergy sex abuse scandal and parish donations are stable although diocesan contributions are down. Families contributing to local parish collections were steady at 74%-76% but those contributing to diocesan financial appeals declined significantly from 38% in 2002 to just 29% in 2005.  A recent Zogby poll found that only 12% of Catholics who give more than $5,000 a year, rated the church as above average in informing them on the use of their donations.  (Catholic News Service)

Liturgy translations inadequate. In two recent lectures, Bishop Donald W. Trautman, Chair of the Bishops Committee on the Liturgy criticized new translations of the Order of the Mass and the Lectionary as sacrificing intelligibility for “rigid formalism.”  He also criticized the failure to use gender-balanced language citing the Creed’s use of “for us men and for our salvation…” Trautman is spearheading the review of Lectionary translations. The new Order of the Mass translations will be voted on at the June meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. At last November’s meeting, the bishops were split 50-50 on the new texts.  A two thirds majority is needed for final approval. (National Catholic Reporter 4/28/06)

Canadian Religious seek ad limina Dialogue.  A 26 page letter to the Canada’s bishops was sent by Canadian Religious Conference which represents over 200 religious orders. The group hoped to stimulate dialogue before the bishops’ ad limina visits to Rome. The letter expressed concern about the church’s unwelcoming stance towards gays, its “clerical mentality” and unwillingness to open decision-making roles to women. It can be viewed online at www.crc-canada.org. (National Catholic Reporter 3/24/06)

Indian Religious Call for Gender Sensitive Church.  In February, 575 superiors representing 125,000 men and women religious in India unanimously endorsed a “vision for gender justice and collaborative action in the church.”  The group identified a core challenge for the church as “the change from an internalized patriarchal mindset to a participatory and collaborative culture where women and man can work together for promoting justice and fraternity within the church and society.” It will begin dialogue with bishops’ conferences and requested that competent women, religious and lay, be appointed to national and local positions of ministerial responsibility.  Several women superiors said the church in India treats nuns as subordinate to priests. (National Catholic Reporter 2/24/06)

Focus on FutureChurch

Summer 2006

Priest Shortage Threatens Parish Life

New Project Protects Parish Rights

Pilgrims Celebrate Women Officeholders

Priest Files May Be Open to Auditors

From the Director’s Desk...

From the Mail

Unity in Diversity:  A Workshop Experience

News Briefs

Mary Magdalene: The Struggle for Authority
book review

A Look Ahead

Quotable Quote


Archive of Past Articles



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