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Vatican reports net loss over $18 million. On July 5, the Vatican reported an annual deficit if $18.6 million dollars for its 2011 budget, blaming the losses on “negative results of the international financial markets.” The losses came despite significant increases in Peter’s Pence contributions and donations from which went from $67.7 million in 2010 to $69.7 million in 2011. Assessments and contributions from the world’s dioceses also rose significantly from $27.4 million in 2010 to $32.1 million in 2011  (Vatican Information Service 7/5/12).

New U.S. priest association meets.  In mid June about 240 priests from around the U.S. met at St. Leo University in Tampa, Florida, for the inaugural assembly of the newly formed Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.  One goal is to be a “voice of hope” and to “celebrate and implement the visionary concepts of Vatican Council II.”  Currently the association has grown to 640 members, up from 27 at its first organizing meeting in August 201l. The June meeting adopted a resolution asking that the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University do a nationwide survey on the reception of the new Roman missal. A second resolution supported the Leadership Conference of Women Religious currently under scrutiny by the Vatican. The website of the new organization is www.uscatholicpriests.us (The Tampa Tribune, 6/14/12 and online reports).

Rome conference to examine women’s roles since Vatican II. 
Next fall, an international theological conference titled “Women Theologians Re-read Vatican II” will be held from October 4-6 in Rome at the Athenaeum of St. Anselmo in Rome. This past March a public lecture series at the Pontifical Theological Faculty “Marianum” featured talks on “Women Observers at Vatican II.” Four women observers were profiled including Pilar Bellosillo, Alda Miceli, Marie-Louise Monnet and Rosemary Goldie (The Tablet, March 10, 2012, p. 34).

Brazilian prelate calls for worldwide poll of bishops about ordination. In early June, Bishop Erwin Krautler, bishop of Xingu, Brazil’s largest diocese by land mass, called for a poll of the world’s Catholic bishops on the question of who may be ordained.  Krautler’s diocese has 30 priests for 900 parishes, with 600,000 people distributed in an area 4 ½ times the size of Austria. Krautler said lay leaders hold weekly liturgies of the Word but parishes have Mass only 3-4 times a year, raising the question about their right to have Mass every Sunday:  “I say they have [the right], and the Church in the spirit of the council must think of something.  I suggest a survey of all the world’s bishops. Talk to the priests the religious, the laity.  Then a body would be formed, with and under the Pope, to deal with this pulse of the worldwide Church”  (The Tablet 6/16/12, p. 26).

Leader of Austrian nuns, German lay organization support women deacons.  In a June interview, the president of the association of Women Religious in Austria called for ordaining women deacons. In a June interview published in the Austrian monthly Kirche IN, Sr. Kunigunde Fürst asked:  “Why should it not be possible to ordain women deacons? Could it be that the hierarchy is afraid that women will get too close to the priesthood and then perhaps even move on to becoming bishops?” Eighty six percent of Austrians agree that priests should be allowed to marry and that women should be ordained. An organization representing 24 million German lay Catholics is also calling for women deacons and married priests. (The Tablet 6/16/12 p. 29 and 5/12/12, p. 29).

Interdicted nun, Hildegard of Bingen, accepted as a saint.    On May 10, Pope Benedict XVI issued a decree of “equivalent canonization” declaring that Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) is to be celebrated as a saint.  A Benedictine abbess, Hildegard journeyed throughout Germany on three major preaching tours.  Such unusual activity for a medieval woman points to the prestige Hildegard had gained as a visionary, seer and healer. Shortly before her death, her community was placed under interdict because she had allowed an excommunicated nobleman to be buried in her monastery’s churchyard.  When the bishops demanded that the man’s body be removed, Hildegard refused, saying he had reconciled with the church before he died. She then had all the gravestones removed so the burial site could not be identified. The interdict was lifted shortly before her death. (Excerpted in part from essay Hildegard of Bingen in FutureChurch’s  More! Celebrating Women Witnesses resource written by Dr. Joan Nuth).

Tensions ease between Bourgeois, Maryknoll leadership.   Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois recently reported that a June 6 meeting with his superior general did not include discussion of his removal from the order but instead focused on Catholics’ rights of conscience.  Church officials had threatened Bourgeois with excommunication and eviction from Maryknoll because of his support of the illicit ordination of a woman.  At the meeting, Bourgeois was accompanied by a Dominican canon lawyer,  Fr. Tom Doyle. Doyle said the outcome of the meeting was “far different than we expected and far more positive”  (National Catholic Reporter 7/6-19/12 p. 4).

Priests in England and Wales call for reform.  On June 2, six priests who say they have the support of 30 others in England and Wales signed a letter in the British journal The Tablet calling on bishops and priests to encourage “all the people of God to take responsibility for our Church….” The priests asked for better dialogue between hierarchy and laity, a better theology of sexuality “rooted in the actual experiences of the faithful” and a discussion of ordaining married men (The Tablet June 2, 2012, p. 14, 28).

Vatican imposes sweeping controls, loyalty oaths on Catholic relief organizations.  In early May the Vatican issued new rules drastically restricting the autonomy of Caritas Internationalis, the umbrella organization over worldwide Catholic relief agencies. Previously Caritas had control over its own finances, programs and employees. Now a pontifical Council, Cor Unum, is given greater leverage.  The new guidelines require Caritas employees sign an “oath of loyalty” to the Pope.  A former secretary general of Caritas, Duncan MacLaren, criticized the new plan: “My fear is that the supporters will abandon Caritas in reaction to what they see as a heavy handed Curia out of touch with people and certainly the poor. That would jeopardize the work of Caritas in nearly every country in the word-- and deny many local Churches the resources to exercise their social mission”  (The Tablet 5/12/12 p.8).


Focus on FutureChurch

Summer 2012


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