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Bourgeois dismissal sparks landmark statements of support. In October, apparently over objections from Maryknoll leadership,  the Vatican expelled Maryknoll Father Roy Bourgeois from the priesthood.  Bourgeois’s dismissal sparked widespread public support. On December 3, the National Catholic Reporter published a landmark editorial formally calling for an end to the unjust practice of excluding women from the Catholic priesthood: “Our message is that we believe the sensus fidelium is that the exclusion of women from the priesthood has no strong basis in Scripture or any other compelling rationale; therefore, women should be ordained.”

On December 7, Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests called on the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith “to cease this type of abuse, to restore Fr. Bourgeois to the full exercise of his ministry and to allow for open and honest discussion on issues that are of crucial importance for the future of the Church” (National Catholic Reporter 12/7/12).  Send letters of support to Fr. Roy: SOA Watch, PO Box 3330, Columbus, GA 31903.

Milwaukee priest, 92, sanctioned. A 92-year-old Milwaukee Jesuit, Fr. Bill Brennan, was sanctioned for celebrating Mass with a woman priest. Brennan, a longtime peace activist, was ordered by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and the Society of Jesus, not to celebrate the Eucharist or other sacraments publicly. “Sometimes in our lives we have to trust our conscience and bring about the consequences,” said Brennan (Milwaukee Journal Sentinal 12/4/12). Send letters of support to Fr. Bill: 10100 West Bluemound Rd, Wauwatosa, WI 53226.

Vatileaks: Papal butler knew only Italian The pope’s butler, Paolo Gabriele, now serving an 18-month s.entence, knew only Italian even though many documents he smuggled were written in other languages. Investigators found 82 cases containing “thousands and thousands” of documents, crammed into Gabriele’s home.  These facts led the well-respected British journal The Tablet to note a  “continuing suspicion that [Gabriele] may have been part of a wider conspiracy.” In early December the Vatican announced new security measures including employee ID cards with microchips to track where each employee is at any given time (The Tablet 10/13/12 and Catholic News Service 12/3/12).

Priests, people oppose Vienna plan to close 75 percent of parishes. In mid-October, The Archdiocese of Vienna announced it plans to merge 660 parishes into about 150 over the next five years. Three to five priests will staff each larger parish and celebrate Mass regularly. Msgr. Helmut Schüller, a founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, strongly criticized the plan:  “We are withdrawing from our local parish churches instead of strengthening them. In large parishes which cover extensive geographical areas, many of our parishioners will feel lost and go astray.” Schüller formerly served as vicar-general for Vienna’s Cardinal Schönborn. According to a national poll, 86 percent of Austrians see downsizing as “problematic” (National Catholic Reporter 10/8/2012 and Catholic Herald, Co,UK 10/18/12).

Austria: ‘Cold war’ between priests and the Vatican. The Vatican’s recent decision to revoke Mgr. Helmut Schueller’s title of Monsignor comes just as the Austrian priest movement prepares for a big international event. The meeting is expected to take place in 2013 and groups of priests from Germany, Ireland, France, the U.S. and Australia who have links with the Pfarrer Initiative, (“Call to Disobedience”) have already expressed their interest in attending. Schueller explained that 2013 is going to be “a year of internationalization for the movement and a congress will probably be held in Germany” (Vatican Insider 11/30/12).

Fewer men considering priesthood; mandatory celibacy a deterrent.  In a survey of Catholics 14 and older, about 12 percent of males said they had considered a religious vocation at least “a little seriously.” At first glance, the recent study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University would seem positive.  However, compared to previous studies conducted by CARA, the percentage of men considering priesthood is declining.   In 2003, twenty percent reported considering priestly vocation. This dropped to 17 percent in 2008. In the newest study, of the men who never considered a priestly vocation, 55 percent identified the desire to have children and 49 percent identified the celibacy requirement as deterrents (Full survey available at cara.georgetown.edu/).

Canon Law leaders predict major shift in parish/diocesan systems. At an October meeting of over 350 canon lawyers, Msgr. Roch Page, judicial vicar of the Canadian Appeal Tribunal of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, predicted an evolution in the theology of the laity and believes increased lay participation will bring major change to priestly ministry and parish and diocesan systems. The 2012 Official Catholic Directory reports 40,000 lay ministers serve the U.S. church today. “The church depends tremendously on lay ministers,” said Franciscan Sister Katarina Schuth, who also spoke at the conference (Catholic News Service 10/17/12).

Cardinal O’Malley turning Boston Archdiocese around. In 2002, the Boston archdiocese was borrowing money from their pension funds and the Knights of Columbus to pay for clergy sex abuse settlements. The archdiocese was regularly posting $15 million annual deficits in the operating budget.  But in 2012, under Cardinal O’Malley’s leadership, the Knights’ loan has been paid off and the operating budget is balanced.  Further, the clergy retirement fund for the first time posted a surplus in of $500,000 replacing the $10 million annual deficit of former years (The Tablet November 24, 2012).


Focus on FutureChurch

Winter 2013


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