LETTER OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS TO THE PEOPLE OF GOD

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it” (1 Cor 12:26). These words of Saint Paul forcefully echo in my heart as I acknowledge once more the suffering endured by many minors due to sexual abuse, the abuse of power and the abuse of conscience perpetrated by a significant number of clerics and consecrated persons. Crimes that inflict deep wounds of pain and powerlessness, primarily among the victims, but also in their family members and in the larger community of believers and nonbelievers alike.

Looking back to the past, no effort to beg pardon and to seek to repair the harm done will ever be sufficient. Looking ahead to the future, no effort must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such situations from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated. The pain of the victims and their families is also our pain, and so it is urgent that we once more reaffirm our commitment to ensure the protection of minors and of vulnerable adults.

1. If one member suffers…

In recent days, a report was made public which detailed the experiences of at least a thousand survivors, victims of sexual abuse, the abuse of power and of conscience at the hands of priests over a period of approximately seventy years. Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of many of the victims.

We have realized that these wounds never disappear and that they require us forcefully to condemn these atrocities and join forces in uprooting this culture of death; these wounds never go away. The heart-wrenching pain of these victims, which cries out to heaven, was long ignored, kept quiet or silenced. But their outcry was more powerful than all the measures meant to silence it, or sought even to resolve it by decisions that increased its gravity by falling into complicity.

The Lord heard that cry and once again showed us on which side he stands. Mary’s song is not mistaken and continues quietly to echo throughout history. For the Lord remembers the promise he made to our fathers: “he has scattered the proud in their conceit; he has cast down the mighty from their thrones and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” (Lk 1:51-53). We feel shame when we realize that our style of life has denied, and continues to deny, the words we recite.

With shame and repentance, we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives. We showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them.

I make my own the words of the then Cardinal Ratzinger when, during the Way of the Cross composed for Good Friday 2005, he identified with the cry of pain of so many victims and exclaimed: “How much filth there is in the Church, and even among those who, in the priesthood, ought to belong entirely to [Christ]! How much pride, how much self-complacency! Christ’s betrayal by his disciples, their unworthy reception of his body and blood, is certainly the greatest suffering endured by the Redeemer; it pierces his heart. We can only call to him from the depths of our hearts: Kyrie eleison – Lord, save us! (cf. Mt 8:25)” (Ninth Station).

2. … all suffer together with it

The extent and the gravity of all that has happened requires coming to grips with this reality in a comprehensive and communal way. While it is important and necessary on every journey of conversion to acknowledge the truth of what has happened, in itself this is not enough. Today we are challenged as the People of God to take on the pain of our brothers and sisters wounded in their flesh and in their spirit.

If, in the past, the response was one of omission, today we want solidarity, in the deepest and most challenging sense, to become our way of forging present and future history. And this in an environment where conflicts, tensions and above all the victims of every type of abuse can encounter an outstretched hand to protect them and rescue them from their pain (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 228). Such solidarity demands that we in turn condemn whatever endangers the integrity of any person.

A solidarity that summons us to fight all forms of corruption, especially spiritual corruption. The latter is “a comfortable and self-satisfied form of blindness. Everything then appears acceptable: deception, slander, egotism and other subtle forms of self-centeredness, for ‘even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light’ (2 Cor 11:14)” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 165). Saint Paul’s exhortation to suffer with those who suffer is the best antidote against all our attempts to repeat the words of Cain: “Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gen 4:9).

I am conscious of the effort and work being carried out in various parts of the world to come up with the necessary means to ensure the safety and protection of the integrity of children and of vulnerable adults, as well as implementing zero tolerance and ways of making all those who perpetrate or cover up these crimes accountable. We have delayed in applying these actions and sanctions that are so necessary, yet I am confident that they will help to guarantee a greater culture of care in the present and future.

Together with those efforts, every one of the baptized should feel involved in the ecclesial and social change that we so greatly need. This change calls for a personal and communal conversion that makes us see things as the Lord does. For as Saint John Paul II liked to say: “If we have truly started out anew from the contemplation of Christ, we must learn to see him especially in the faces of those with whom he wished to be identified” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 49).

To see things as the Lord does, to be where the Lord wants us to be, to experience a conversion of heart in his presence. To do so, prayer and penance will help. I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting, following the Lord’s command.[1] This can awaken our conscience and arouse our solidarity and commitment to a culture of care that says “never again” to every form of abuse.

It is impossible to think of a conversion of our activity as a Church that does not include the active participation of all the members of God’s People. Indeed, whenever we have tried to replace, or silence, or ignore, or reduce the People of God to small elites, we end up creating communities, projects, theological approaches, spiritualities and structures without roots, without memory, without faces, without bodies and ultimately, without lives.[2]

This is clearly seen in a peculiar way of understanding the Church’s authority, one common in many communities where sexual abuse and the abuse of power and conscience have occurred. Such is the case with clericalism, an approach that “not only nullifies the character of Christians, but also tends to diminish and undervalue the baptismal grace that the Holy Spirit has placed in the heart of our people”.[3]

Clericalism, whether fostered by priests themselves or by lay persons, leads to an excision in the ecclesial body that supports and helps to perpetuate many of the evils that we are condemning today. To say “no” to abuse is to say an emphatic “no” to all forms of clericalism.

It is always helpful to remember that “in salvation history, the Lord saved one people. We are never completely ourselves unless we belong to a people. That is why no one is saved alone, as an isolated individual. Rather, God draws us to himself, taking into account the complex fabric of interpersonal relationships present in the human community. God wanted to enter into the life and history of a people” (Gaudete et Exsultate, 6).

Consequently, the only way that we have to respond to this evil that has darkened so many lives is to experience it as a task regarding all of us as the People of God. This awareness of being part of a people and a shared history will enable us to acknowledge our past sins and mistakes with a penitential openness that can allow us to be renewed from within.

Without the active participation of all the Church’s members, everything being done to uproot the culture of abuse in our communities will not be successful in generating the necessary dynamics for sound and realistic change.

The penitential dimension of fasting and prayer will help us as God’s People to come before the Lord and our wounded brothers and sisters as sinners imploring forgiveness and the grace of shame and conversion. In this way, we will come up with actions that can generate resources attuned to the Gospel.

For “whenever we make the effort to return to the source and to recover the original freshness of the Gospel, new avenues arise, new paths of creativity open up, with different forms of expression, more eloquent signs and words with new meaning for today’s world” (Evangelii Gaudium, 11).

It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable. Let us beg forgiveness for our own sins and the sins of others. An awareness of sin helps us to acknowledge the errors, the crimes and the wounds caused in the past and allows us, in the present, to be more open and committed along a journey of renewed conversion.

Likewise, penance and prayer will help us to open our eyes and our hearts to other people’s sufferings and to overcome the thirst for power and possessions that are so often the root of those evils.

May fasting and prayer open our ears to the hushed pain felt by children, young people and the disabled. A fasting that can make us hunger and thirst for justice and impel us to walk in the truth, supporting all the judicial measures that may be necessary.

A fasting that shakes us up and leads us to be committed in truth and charity with all men and women of good will, and with society in general, to combatting all forms of the abuse of power, sexual abuse and the abuse of conscience.

In this way, we can show clearly our calling to be “a sign and instrument of communion with God and of the unity of the entire human race” (Lumen Gentium, 1).

“If one member suffers, all suffer together with it”, said Saint Paul. By an attitude of prayer and penance, we will become attuned as individuals and as a community to this exhortation, so that we may grow in the gift of compassion, in justice, prevention and reparation.

Mary chose to stand at the foot of her Son’s cross. She did so unhesitatingly, standing firmly by Jesus’ side. In this way, she reveals the way she lived her entire life. When we experience the desolation caused by these ecclesial wounds, we will do well, with Mary, “to insist more upon prayer”, seeking to grow all the more in love and fidelity to the Church (SAINT IGNATIUS OF LOYOLA, Spiritual Exercises, 319).

She, the first of the disciples, teaches all of us as disciples how we are to halt before the sufferings of the innocent, without excuses or cowardice. To look to Mary is to discover the model of a true follower of Christ.

May the Holy Spirit grant us the grace of conversion and the interior anointing needed to express before these crimes of abuse our compunction and our resolve courageously to combat them.

Vatican City, 20 August 2018

 

Trudeau asks Pope Francis to apologise for schools

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has asked Pope Francis to apologise for the role of the Catholic Church in a Canadian school system where indigenous children were abused for decades.

The PM met the pontiff at the Vatican on Monday as part of his trip to Italy for the G7 summit.

The residential schools were set up from the 1880s to take children from their families and assimilate them into mainstream Canadian society.

The last one closed in 1996.

“I told him how important it is for Canadians to move forward on real reconciliation with the indigenous peoples and I highlighted how he could help by issuing an apology,” Mr Trudeau told reporters after meeting the pope.

He said he had invited the pontiff to make the apology in Canada.

Some 150,000 aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families, and sent to live in church-run boarding schools where they were forbidden to speak their language or practise their own culture.

Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has called for a papal apology, as part of the healing process for survivors.

Although the Vatican has not commented on Mr Trudeau’s request, it confirmed the talk was “cordial” and lasted about 36 minutes. It said the conversation “focused on the themes of integration and reconciliation, as well as religious freedom and current ethical issues” but did not mention an apology directly.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which has been tasked with collecting the stories of survivors and recommending a way forward for the country to heal, has called the residential school system “cultural genocide”.

In its report, the commission recommended the Catholic Church issue a formal apology for its part in the residential school system.

Similar apologies have been issued by Anglican, Presbyterian and United Churches, who along with the Catholic Church helped run these schools as joint ventures with the Canadian government.

In 2008, former prime minister Stephen Harper issued an apology on behalf of Canadians, calling it “a sad chapter in our history”.

A year later, Pope Benedict expressed “his sorrow at the anguish caused by the deplorable conduct of some members of the Church” to a delegation from the Assembly of First Nations, a national advocacy organization, who went to the Vatican.

In 2015, Mr Harper met Pope Francis and called attention to the commission’s findings.

Mr Trudeau said he also spoke with the Pope about a subject dear to both of them: the importance of stopping climate change.

“We talked about how important it is to highlight the scientific basis of protecting our planet and the moral and ethical obligations to lead, to build a better future for all people on this earth,” Mr Trudeau said.

During the visit to the Vatican, Mr Trudeau was joined by his wife Sophie Grégoire-Trudeau. While in Italy, he also visited the Roma football club and will meet Italy’s prime minister and president.

Why the only future worth building includes everyone. Pope Francis, Ted Talk

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Translated by Michele Gianella
Reviewed by TED Open Translation

0:11 [His Holiness Pope Francis Filmed in Vatican City First shown at TED2017]
0:15 Good evening – or, good morning, I am not sure what time it is there.
Regardless of the hour, I am thrilled to be participating in your conference.
I very much like its title – “The Future You” – because, while looking at tomorrow,
it invites us to open a dialogue today,
to look at the future through a “you.”
“The Future You:” the future is made of yous, it is made of encounters, because
life flows through our relations with others.
Quite a few years of life have
strengthened my conviction
that each and everyone’s existence is deeply
tied to that of others:
life is not time merely passing by, life is about interactions.
1:27 As I meet, or lend an ear to those who are sick, to the migrants who
face terrible hardships
in search of a brighter future, to prison inmates
who carry a hell of pain inside their hearts,
and to those, many of them young,
who cannot find a job,
I often find myself wondering: “Why them and not me?”
I, myself, was born in a family of migrants; my father, my grandparents, like
many other Italians,
left for Argentina and met the fate of those who are left
with nothing.
I could have very well ended up among today’s “discarded” people.
And that’s why I always ask myself, deep in my heart: “Why them and not me?”
2:35 First and foremost, I would love it if this meeting could help to remind us
that we all need each other, none of us is an island, an autonomous and independent
“I,” separated from the other,
and we can only build the future by standing together,
including everyone.
We don’t think about it often, but everything is connected, and
we need to restore our connections to a healthy state.
Even the harsh judgment I
hold in my heart
against my brother or my sister, the open wound that was never
cured, the offense that was never forgiven,
the rancor that is only going to hurt me,
are all instances of a fight that I carry within me, a flare deep in my heart that needs
to be extinguished
before it goes up in flames, leaving only ashes behind.
3:38 Many of us, nowadays, seem to believe that a happy future is something
impossible to achieve.
While such concerns must be taken very seriously, they
are not invincible.
They can be overcome when we don’t lock our door to the
outside world.
Happiness can only be discovered as a gift of harmony between
the whole and each single component.
Even science – and you know it better than
I do –
points to an understanding of reality as a place where every element
connects and interacts with everything else.
4:27 And this brings me to my second message. How wonderful would it be if
the growth of scientific and technological innovation
would come along with
more equality and social inclusion.
How wonderful would it be, while we discover
faraway planets,
to rediscover the needs of the brothers and sisters orbiting around
us.
How wonderful would it be if solidarity, this beautiful and, at times, inconvenient
word,
were not simply reduced to social work, and became, instead, the default
attitude
in political, economic and scientific choices, as well as in the relationships
among individuals, peoples and countries.
Only by educating people to a true solidarity
will we be able to overcome the “culture of waste,” which doesn’t concern only food
and goods
but, first and foremost, the people who are cast aside by our
techno-economic systems
which, without even realizing it, are now putting
products at their core, instead of people.
6:08 Solidarity is a term that many wish to erase from the dictionary.
Solidarity, however, is not an automatic mechanism. It cannot be programmed
or controlled.
It is a free response born from the heart of each and everyone.
Yes, a free response! When one realizes that life, even in the middle of so many
contradictions, is a gift,
that love is the source and the meaning of life, how can t
hey withhold their urge to do good to another fellow being?
6:50 In order to do good, we need memory, we need courage and we need creativity.
And I know that TED gathers many creative minds. Yes, love does require a creative,
concrete
and ingenious attitude. Good intentions and conventional formulas, so often
used to appease our conscience, are not enough.
Let us help each other, all together,
to remember
that the other is not a statistic or a number. The other has a face.
The “you” is always a real presence, a person to take care of.
7:52 There is a parable Jesus told to help us understand the difference between
those who’d rather not be bothered and those who take care of the other.
I am sure
you have heard it before. It is the Parable of the Good Samaritan.

When Jesus was asked: “Who is my neighbor?” – namely, “Who should I take care of?”
he told this story, the story of a man who had been assaulted, robbed, beaten and
abandoned along a dirt road.
Upon seeing him, a priest and a Levite, two very
influential people of the time,
walked past him without stopping to help.
After a while, a Samaritan, a very much despised ethnicity at the time, walked by.
Seeing the injured man lying on the ground, he did not ignore him as if he
weren’t even there.
Instead, he felt compassion for this man, which compelled
him to act in a very concrete manner.
He poured oil and wine on the wounds of
the helpless man,
brought him to a hostel and paid out of his pocket for him
to be assisted.
9:26 The story of the Good Samaritan is the story of today’s humanity.
People’s paths are riddled with suffering, as everything is centered around
money, and things, instead of people.
And often there is this habit, by people
who call themselves “respectable,”
of not taking care of the others, thus leaving
behind thousands of human beings, or entire populations,
on the side of the road.
Fortunately, there are also those who are creating a new world by taking care
of the other, even out of their own pockets.
Mother Teresa actually said:
“One cannot love, unless it is at their own expense.”
10:26 We have so much to do, and we must do it together. But how can we
do that with all the evil we breathe every day?
Thank God, no system can
nullify our desire to open up to the good,
to compassion and to our capacity
to react against evil,
all of which stem from deep within our hearts. Now you
might tell me,
“Sure, these are beautiful words, but I am not the Good Samaritan,
nor Mother Teresa of Calcutta.”
On the contrary: we are precious, each and
every one of us.
Each and every one of us is irreplaceable in the eyes of God.
Through the darkness of today’s conflicts, each and every one of us can become
a bright candle,
a reminder that light will overcome darkness, and never the
other way around.
11:27 To Christians, the future does have a name, and its name is Hope.
Feeling hopeful does not mean to be optimistically naïve and ignore the tragedy
humanity is facing.
Hope is the virtue of a heart that doesn’t lock itself into darkness,
that doesn’t dwell on the past,
does not simply get by in the present, but is able
to see a tomorrow.
Hope is the door that opens onto the future. Hope is a humble,
hidden seed of life
that, with time, will develop into a large tree. It is like some
invisible yeast that allows the whole dough to grow,
that brings flavor to all
aspects of life.
And it can do so much, because a tiny flicker of light that feeds
on hope
is enough to shatter the shield of darkness. A single individual is enough
for hope to exist,
and that individual can be you. And then there will be another
“you,” and another “you,”
and it turns into an “us.” And so, does hope begin when
we have an “us?”
No. Hope began with one “you.” When there is an “us,” there
begins a revolution.
13:16 The third message I would like to share today is, indeed, about revolution:
the revolution of tenderness.
And what is tenderness? It is the love that comes
close and becomes real.
It is a movement that starts from our heart and reaches
the eyes, the ears and the hands.
Tenderness means to use our eyes to see the other,
our ears to hear the other, to listen to the children, the poor, those who are afraid
of the future.
To listen also to the silent cry of our common home, of our sick and
polluted earth.
Tenderness means to use our hands and our heart to comfort the other,
to take care of those in need.
14:13 Tenderness is the language of the young children, of those who need
the other.
A child’s love for mom and dad grows through their touch, their gaze,
their voice, their tenderness.
I like when I hear parents talk to their babies,
adapting to the little child,
sharing the same level of communication. This is
tenderness: being on the same level as the other.
God himself descended into
Jesus to be on our level.
This is the same path the Good Samaritan took.
This is the path that Jesus himself took. He lowered himself, he lived his entire
human existence
practicing the real, concrete language of love.
15:23 Yes, tenderness is the path of choice for the strongest, most courageous
men and women.
Tenderness is not weakness; it is fortitude. It is the path of
solidarity, the path of humility.
Please, allow me to say it loud and clear: the more powerful you are, the more
your actions will have an impact on people,
the more responsible you are to act
humbly.
If you don’t, your power will ruin you, and you will ruin the other.
There is a saying in Argentina: “Power is like drinking gin on an empty stomach.
You feel dizzy, you get drunk, you lose your balance, and you will end up hurting
yourself and those around you,
if you don’t connect your power with humility and
tenderness.
Through humility and concrete love, on the other hand, power –
the highest, the strongest one – becomes a service, a force for good.
16:52 The future of humankind isn’t exclusively in the hands of politicians, of
great leaders, of big companies.
Yes, they do hold an enormous responsibility.
But the future is, most of all, in the hands of those people who recognize the other
as a “you”
and themselves as part of an “us.” We all need each other. And so, please,
think of me as well with tenderness,
so that I can fulfill the task I have been given
for the good of the other, of each and every one, of all of you, of all of us. Thank you.

Is Pope Francis campaigning for married priests?

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Just weeks after the conclusion of the Year of Mercy, life for gay seminarians and priests in the Catholic church took a turn toward the merciless.

As was widely reported last week, Pope Francis approved a document called “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation,” which bans gay men from seminaries and ordination.

Or, at least, most gay men. The document states,

“…the Church, while profoundly respecting the persons in question, cannot admit to the seminary or to holy orders those who practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture.’”

Though the Vatican leaves to the imagination what precisely the “so-called ‘gay culture’ might be, the guidelines suggest that gay seminarians who act like straight guys, conceal their sexualities, repress their sexual desires, and oppose any campaign for LGBT rights might be given a small window of clerical opportunity.

The guidelines further note that “such persons in fact, find themselves in a situation that gravely hinders them from relating correctly to men and women,” and, therefore, “one must in no way overlook the negative consequences that can derive from the ordination of persons with deep-seated homosexual tendencies.”

If the church does have “profound respect” for these men, it has a twisted way of showing it.

Less publicized last week was the homily that Pope Francis’ gave at Casa Santa Marta Dec. 9, the day after the release of “The Gift of the Priestly Vocation.”

Though Francis intended to use his message to critique “worldly and rigid priests,” a homophobic, misogynist anecdote in his text seemed to amplify the previous day’s barring of gay men from ordination.

According to Vatican Radio, the pope said:

“About rigidity and worldliness, it was some time ago that an elderly monsignor of the curia came to me, who works, a normal man, a good man, in love with Jesus — and he told me that he had gone to buy a couple of shirts at Euroclero [the clerical clothing store] and saw a young fellow — he thinks he had not more than 25 years, or a young priest or about to become a priest — before the mirror, with a cape, large, wide, velvet, with a silver chain. He then took the Saturno [wide-brimmed clerical headgear], he put it on and looked himself over. A rigid and worldly one. And that priest — he is wise, that monsignor, very wise — was able to overcome the pain, with a line of healthy humor and added: ‘And it is said that the Church does not allow women priests!’”

Francis describes the elderly monsignor as a “normal man, a good man” perhaps as a counterpoint to the abnormal, dandyish young man dressing in the mirror. The elderly monsignor is “in love with Jesus” — the only man, apparently, that a priest should ever fall in love with.

The monsignor is so agonized by this preening young cleric, Francis says, that the only way to alleviate his pain is to make a joke. Sadly, this “healthy dose of humor” amounts to one contemptuous punch line aimed at ridiculing the two gravest threats to the Roman Catholic priesthood: women and gay men.

If Pope Francis were simply commenting on the way in which the young man’s prideful posing was a demonstration of the corrupting power of clericalism, his lesson might be worthwhile. But by repeating a joke that mocks the man’s sexuality and belittles the struggle for women’s equality in the church, the pope reveals a disturbing resentment of women and gay men who seek to serve the church in ordained ministry.

The elderly monsignor’s punch line is as homophobic as it is misogynist. It characterizes female behavior as vain and affected. Worst of all, it suggests that the best way to demean a man is to liken him to a woman.

How ironic that Pope Francis uses such a humiliating story to call for humility, and takes such a judgmental tone as he denounces rigidity. How strange that he criticizes a pretentious, worldly young priest by promoting an elite, exclusionary vision of the priesthood.

Though some might argue that the Francis’ joke was just another one of his off-the-cuff remarks, many signs indicate that a more calculated campaign may be afoot.

It’s interesting to note that, in this same homily, Francis claims that we can know “what kind of priest a man was by the attitude they [have] with children.”

“If they knew how to caress a child, to smile at a child, to play with a child . . . it means that they know this means lowering oneself, getting close to the little things,” Francis says.

Is his homily suggesting that heterosexual men and fathers make the best priests?

The pope has never been shy about praising the holiness of the heterosexual family unit. He has called the family the “masterwork of society,” and frequently reminds us that Jesus “begins his miracles with this masterwork, in a marriage, in a wedding feast: a man and a woman.”

In the past six weeks, Francis has made his vision of the priesthood starkly clear. On Nov. 1, he confirmed the finality of the ban on ordaining women, and now he has reaffirmed the ban on most gay seminarians.

All of these clues lead one to wonder whether Francis is preparing the faithful for a new model of the priesthood: one in which young, married men may become candidates for ordination.

Many have lamented the pope’s ban on gay seminarians as a betrayal of his legendary “Who am I to judge?” statement. But perhaps Francis has a much larger agenda at work, and his desperate need to fill the priesthood is taking priority of whatever desire he may have had to be kinder to gays.

Perhaps the movement to push out gay seminarians is part of a concerted effort to make seminary life straighter and manlier for a new crop of hetero hopefuls.

Francis has given clear indications that he is receptive to a conversation about married priests.

This past August, Vatican insider Austen Ivereigh penned an essay declaring: “Next synod likely to focus on ordaining married men.”

Ivereigh cites examples in South Africa and Honduras where teams of married men with families were chosen by their communities to minister part-time while continuing to work in their professions.

“Francis has given many signals of his willingness to open up the question of ordaining married men, even encouraging local Churches to put forward proposals,” Ivereigh wrote.

Some theologians argue that the shift to a married priesthood is relatively simple. Unlike the church’s ban on women’s ordination and same-sex relationships, which are held as “doctrines,” the celibacy teaching is considered a “discipline,” and, therefore, easier to change.

The institutional church has much to gain in instituting a married priesthood. Obviously it would stave off the looming crisis of the priest shortage.

It may also serve as a tool for evangelization and promotion of family, since a priest and his wife would model the gender complementing roles frequently praised by Pope Francis. The husband would be both the father of the parish and the family, and his wife would be the serving, nurturing mother.

It might bring back into the fold all of those heterosexual families who care less about justice for women and LGBT people and more about having a relatable priest who is a husband and father.

The shift would certainly inspire wealthy donors who fund causes that seek to defeat same-sex marriage. They might see married priests as a beacon family values and “traditional marriage.”

Many Catholics often complain that our young, celibate seminarians are very conservative. But they should be warned that there are plenty of young, heterosexual, conservative Catholic men with equally conservative wives who are willing to join the priesthood. And they would gladly vow to uphold the church’s teachings on women, gender complementarity, LGBT issues and even contraception.

If the pope were to begin ordaining married men, most people would immediately laud him as a great changemaker. But when we look at Francis’ reaffirmation of the ban on gay seminarians and women priests, we must wonder whether such a change would truly bring about genuine progress, let alone justice, in our church.

A married priesthood would be a giant leap forward for heterosexual men, but many steps backward for women and gay men who feel called to ordained ministry in their church.

Those who push for a married priesthood must face the reality that they are, wittingly or unwittingly, advocating for the advancement of straight male dominance and privilege in the church. What might seem like an incremental step forward in our church might ultimately create an even more exclusionary priesthood.

[Jamie L. Manson is NCR books editor. She received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her email address is jmanson@ncronline.org.]

Sunday Sundries: Mother …

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Today Pope Francis Canonized Mother Teresa into Sainthood. What is begun in the church, usually follows certain protocol. And in most cases, the Church is always right.

Whether She is Right or Wrong …

Amid controversy and medical science, The Saint of the Slums was elevated.

I’ve studied the cause for sainthood for a specific handful of men and women, of the Catholic faith, so I am truly familiar with how the process works, how it is carried out, and just how exhaustive that research really is.

I have several books in my library that outlines each process for each human being who is being investigated for sainthood. In University I studied John Paul II. I’ve read every book that has been published, “In university” and “outside of university.”

The question of the validity of miracles that must take place, and are therefore attributed to each “saint in the making” has to be verified several times over. Now we must give the Church her times, because the process for sainthood is long and storied.

And that process has been modified and tweaked, and can even be put on a fast track. We’ve seen, in my generation, what direct sainthood acclimation looks like.

In the case of John Paul II, the day of his funeral, the crowds in St. Peter’s Square, made a direct acclimation to their church, that John Paul II be elevated to Sainthood. Once certain elements were satisfied, the process began to elevate him into Sainthood.

I’ve read the book, several times over.

Mother Teresa, was one serious woman, who was friends with the late Pontiff, as you see, if you scroll down on this blog, several photos of them together. I’ve read many books about Mother Teresa. And when I talk about her, I always raise the ire of those who think that I am blind to her controversies, I assure you I am fully aware of all the trash and vitriol that has been aimed at her and myself over the years.

I have a tattoo that I got on my right bicep on my tenth sober anniversary. It is a quote that came directly from the writings from one of her biographies, “Come be my Light.”

The words, “I Thirst…” was, on my first pass, attributed to the story told of Mother Teresa’s relationship with Jesus Christ, when Jesus, on the cross, says, “I Thirst.”

Mother Teresa was oft to talk about how we should thirst for God, ergo Jesus. I took the words from her book, and put them on my body. Only to later find out, via a sober member in the fellowship, who spent time IN Calcutta working in the slums with the poorest of the poor, that the words “I Thirst” are written on the wall, of the Mother House chapel in Calcutta, adjacent to the crucifix on the wall.

This quote is also attributed to Teresa of Lisieux.The “Little Flower.”

When I met said sober member at the Round Up in 2012, and we heard her tell the story of how she went to India, to the Mother House, wanting to meet Teresa, she was terribly shocked when she finally did.

On the fifth day of her visit, Mother Teresa arrived back at the Mother House. She had been away for some time. Lorna, a Manhattan socialite, and the first female auctioneer at the famed Sotheby’s auction house, went to Calcutta, in her fine chino pants, and pressed blouse, made up like a model and her nails brightly painted, approached Mother Teresa on her home turf.

What Mother Teresa said next changed her life and the way she approached the now Sainted woman.

Mother Teresa looked at Lorna and said … Why are you made up like that? Intoning that she was lofty in her approach and that she should sell her fine rich “things” and strip her nails, and give the money to the poor …

What an entrance …

Lorna died not long ago, I remember her fondly in sharing this story. It comes from her own book, The Camel Knows the Way … About her association with Mother.

Mother Teresa was shrewd in her condemnation of worldly things. Many have said that the Missionaries of Charity were/are rolling in money, that she accepted dirty cash from dictators and rulers that were not “above board.” That with all the money in the church or convent coffers she could have done much better, but eschewed wealth at every turn.

This is a serious taint on Mother. Not to mention other accusations that she shielded pedophile priests, with full knowledge of their transgressions. Well, let’s be clear on a few items of order as well … Mother Church, has also been complicit in the shielding and shuffling of pedophile priests from one parish to another, moving them around the countries of origin, and even bring some of them to Rome.

This is not in contention. This is truth.

Many high ranking Holy figures in the church turned a blind eye to abuse, because for some, that tainted the vision of the church, and the human being. And to acknowledge such abuse openly and directly, would be casting aspersions on Holy Mother Church, therefore God Himself.

Right or Wrong, this is fact.

In the pantheon of the Holy of Holies, facts and negative associations, it seems, are ignored on the face of it, not true… That does not mean that truth was not added to the cause for canonization. When all the data is collected, there is a “Devils Advocate” who’s job is to see the flip side of the process, insuring that both sides of an argument is written in the collected works and are bound for posterity and published for mass consumption.

There are many other aspersions I have read recently about the state of the Missionaries of Charity and their austere lifestyles and the lengths Mother Teresa went to, to maintain austerity at any cost, to the detriment and health and well being of her sisters.

The Church is going to do what she does, in spite of and sometimes blindly ignoring the negativity, knowing full well, what controversy exists, in favor of popular acclimation and the faith of community.

We see this notion in the story of George Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. In his story we see the merging of “popular faith of the people” in direct competition with “the faith of Holy Mother Church.” These are two different faith practices. Common in many places in the Southern Hemisphere and South and Central America.

One cannot remove popular culture and religious practice from the people, so Pope Francis, ergo George Bergoglio, had to find a way to marry the two traditions, to bring everybody to the table of Faith in the Church.

In India there is a multitude of faiths and practices.

Mother Teresa was popular culture and popular faith. This factor has to be recognized when we talk about her canonization, in just what this move does to appease popular culture and regional religious communities where she lived, worked and died and brings everyone together in one unified community.

Pope Francis has been making saints in higher numbers than his predecessors at the same time in their papacies. If you study the trend, Pope Francis is making Saints regionally, and for specific countries, and specific communities for specific reasons. He is recognizing popular religious practice, while maintaining Holy Mother Church standards for sainthood.

There is method, reason and rationality to this process, that you would only recognize if you did the research I have into Popes, Saints, and Holy people.

This is why I went to University, to be able to speak with authority on these topics.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pope Francis prays in silence at former Auschwitz-Birkenau camp

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Francis passed under the gates alone, wearing white robes and skullcap. After meeting the survivors, he placed a candle at the Death Wall, where prisoners were executed by the Nazis, before continuing on his own.

The Pope stopped to pray at the prison cell of Maximilian Kolbe, a Polish Catholic friar who sacrificed his life to save that of another man. The Church made him a saint in 1982.

Pope Francis knelt for many minutes in the underground cell, illuminated only by the light from a tiny window, the Associated Press news agency reports.

The Argentine Pope is on a five-day trip to Poland.

During a World Youth Day rally in the southern city of Krakow on Thursday, he urged compassion for migrants.

He told hundreds of thousands of people that “a merciful heart opens up to welcome refugees and migrants” – a statement that puts him at odds with Poland’s anti-immigrant right-wing government.

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Pope Francis says Church should apologise to gays

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BBC Europe News

Pope Francis has said that the Roman Catholic Church should apologize to gay people for the way it has treated them.

He told reporters that the Church had no right to judge the gay community, and should show them respect.

The pontiff also said the Church should seek forgiveness from other people it had marginalized – women, the poor, and children forced into labour.

The Pope has been hailed by many in the gay community for his positive attitude towards homosexuals.

But some conservative Catholics have criticized him for making comments they say are ambiguous about sexual morality.

Speaking to reporters on his plane returning from Armenia, the Pope said: “I will repeat what the catechism of the Church says, that they [homosexuals] should not be discriminated against, that they should be respected, accompanied pastorally.”

Pope Francis said the Church should seek forgiveness from those whom it had marginalized.

“I think that the Church not only should apologize… to a gay person whom it offended but it must also apologize to the poor as well, to the women who have been exploited, to children who have been exploited by [being forced to] work. It must apologize for having blessed so many weapons.”

In 2013, Pope Francis reaffirmed the Roman Catholic Church’s position that homosexual acts were sinful, but homosexual orientation was not.

“If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge?” he said then.

Saying those words, does not change what the Catholic Church, still holds fast to, in Church teaching on the subject of homosexuality.

I will say that Francis, in my readings of him, He is Pastorally inclined to support many people, but the Church Minions, as old as they are, are still stronger than the Pope. Francis can say all the words he wants, but his hands are tied by the Curia to really make official change to Church Canon.

He may want to support, love and respect the LGBT community. But the men who sit in the Curia are old and set in their ways, and real change does not come easily to the Church that is as old as the Catholic Church.