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Austrian Bishop, Priests Lobby for Married Priesthood.  An Austrian group called Priest’s Initiative is intensifying its lobbying for ordination of married men and the return of priests who left the active ministry to marry. The group, comprised of more than 300 priests, points to a severe shortage saying one priest is often responsible for three or more parishes.  Meanwhile, Bishop Helmut Kratzl, of Vienna has published a new book called A Church With a Future that calls for an end to mandatory celibacy saying celibacy is the reason for the drastic fall in vocations.  (The Tablet 1/12/08)

Parishioners Won’t Ban Rabbi.   In mid December about 150 people from St. Cronan’s Catholic Church in St. Louis decided to pray in the rain rather than obey a directive from St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke banning Rabbi Susan Talve from speaking at their parish. Talve, who has spoken for many Advent services at St. Cronan’s, infuriated Burke last month when she and her synagogue hosted a ceremony for two Catholic women, Rose Marie Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath, who were being ordained into a group called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. (St. Louis Post Dispatch)

Bertone Says College of Cardinals Proportionate.   Responding to accounts in the National Catholic Reporter and elsewhere suggesting that the College of Cardinals is top-heavy with Europeans and North Americans, the Vatican’s Secretary of State Taricisio Bertone said recently that the make-up of the college is actually broadly proportionate to the distribution of priests and bishops in the world. To read more visit http://ncrcafe.org/node/1458

The Other Health Crisis: Why Priests Are Coping Poorly. An article by Fr. Paul Stanosz published in Commonweal points to an array of issues affecting priest morale. Says Fr. Paul: “First, our bishops must be honest about the crisis of health, morale, and collegiality among priests. At a recent Milwaukee Council of Priests meeting, the vicar for clergy announced that “the wheels are falling off the wagons,” and that he was overwhelmed with the problems of priests under fifty years of age. Such bluntness is rare. Many people are afraid that speaking about the problem will affect vocational recruitment.” Full text available at

Remove Cardinal Law, Say Survivors.  Members of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) personally delivered a letter to the Vatican embassy in Washington, DC calling for Cardinal Bernard F. Law’s retirement and subsequent removal from eight Vatican congregations before the Pope’s visit to the United States in April.  The letter was also signed by Voice of the Faithful. To read more visit http://ncrcafe.org/node/1536

Preserve Vatican II Teaching on Scripture.  The former rector of the Pontifical Biblical Institute, Cardinal Maria Martini, has urged participants of the October 2008 Synod on the Word to resist attempts to “take us backwards in respect of the Second Vatican Council.” Martini wants to avoid “prolonged and abstract discussion” on issues already “fully treated at Vatican II” such the relationship between Scripture and tradition, or an examination of particular methods of biblical interpretation and scholarship. Instead, he believes the Synod’s main focus should be to help Catholics read and pray with the Bible. But Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Synod recording secretary, said it should “try to give a clarifying word” about scripture interpretation.  At issue, according to a respected Catholic biblicist is Vatican II’s affirmation that the “Magisterium is not superior to the Word of God but is its Servant” (Dei Verbum 10).  There is concern that the Synod will attempt to insist “that all Catholic biblical scholars must do their research under the direction of the Magisterium.”  (The Tablet 2/9/2008)

Indian Bishops Pledge Empowerment of Women.  Honoring the 20th anniversary of John Paul II’s apostolic letter Mulieris Dignitatem (The Dignity of Woman), the Indian Bishops’ Conference devoted the 28th annual meeting to “the Empowerment of Women in Church and Society.” Forty lay and religious women, and seven laymen met with 160 bishops from Feb 13-20 in JamshedPur. On Feb 21, the conference detailed a series of measures to improve the status of women in the church and society. Over the next year, the conference will develop a gender policy with input from all regions and stakeholders.  Some other specific goals included promoting an “ecclesiology of partnership;” gender justice in theological biblical and canonical studies; and encouraging increased representation of women in all ecclesial bodies. To view the full statement visit the FutureChurch website and click on the Woman and the Word icon or visit http://www.theindiancatholic.com/report.asp?nid=10317

Women's Ordination Conference Offices Destroyed

In mid-February, a three-alarm fire totally destroyed the offices of the Women’s Ordination Conference (WOC) as well as four others nearby. Executive director Aisha Taylor said, “…not a thing was left untouched. Our computers melted; our books burned -- the library of over 700 books is gone. Thankfully, no one was hurt.” While offices were insured, options for a new location will be significantly
more expensive and it will be 4-6 weeks before the claim is settled.

To donate go to www.networkforgood.org and key in women’s ordination conference; email woc@womensordination.org or call 703-352-1006.

Focus on FutureChurch

Winter 2008


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