Browsing articles tagged with " Bishops"
Nothing can rile churchgoers more than tweaking the liturgy, so it was no surprise that sharp protests accompanied the introduction of a new translation of the Catholic Mass last year. But a survey shows that worshippers have by and large accepted — and even welcomed — the changes.
The survey, conducted in September by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University, showed that seven in 10 Catholics agree that the new translation is “a good thing,” with 20 percent agreeing “strongly.”
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Catholics who attend Mass weekly were more likely to agree that the new translation is a good thing, with 84 percent welcoming the new translation. Nearly half those said they “strongly” approved of the new prayers.
Almost a third of the respondents (30 percent) disagreed, with 7 percent of the dissatisfied Massgoers expressing “strong” objections to the new prayers.
Overall, 6 percent of the respondents said they thought the prayers had changed “to a great extent,” while 40 percent said they had changed only a bit and 31 percent said they had noticed no changes.
The translation was adopted after years of fierce debate and only after a strong push from the Vatican to have the U.S. bishops implement language that Rome said was closer to the Latin versions of past centuries. Advocates of an updated translation said it would be more accurate and poetic than the version that has been in use since the 1970s, when the Mass was first translated from Latin to English for general use.
Critics replied that the latest translation was so literal that it wound up stilted rather than uplifting, and at times incomprehensible.
In one of the more memorable zingers, television comedian Stephen Colbert, a devout Catholic, told a crowd at Fordham University in September that he hated how translators replaced the Nicene Creed’s familiar phrase “one in being with the Father” to describe Jesus’ relationship to God, and instead used the term “consubstantial.”
“It’s the creed! It’s not the SAT prep,” Colbert quipped at a panel on faith and humor that also featured New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
The poll results should be good news for church leaders who hope to put the liturgy controversies behind them.
But this being liturgy, that may not happen. An online survey by U.S. Catholic magazine found a much higher level of dissatisfaction with the new prayers, and other Catholic media outlets have reported strong reactions against the translation, as well as vocal support for the more literal version.
The CARA survey of 1,047 self-identified adult Catholics was taken from Sept. 10-18 and has a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points. It was commissioned by the Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies at The Catholic University of America.
Copyright 2012 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
VANCOUVER – A new smartphone app is connecting Roman Catholics in the Vancouver area with nearby masses and confessionals — an idea the local archdiocese says developed partly out of some biblical inspiration.
“We’ve always had bishops here who have recognized the need to be out where people are,” says Paul Schratz, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Vancouver.
“Just as Jesus went and talked to people where they were — he went into their homes — now the people are on Facebook, they’re on YouTube, they’re on their tablets, and we have to be there, too.”
The archdiocese recently launched an iPhone app that allows users to search for nearby Catholic churches, check mass and confession times, and see directions on a map. They can filter their searches based on their location and limit the results to churches with mass in the next few hours.
Schratz says he believes it’s the first app released by a Canadian archdiocese, though several in the U.S. and abroad have developed their own.
It replicates the most popular feature on the archdiocese website: its mass finder.
Schratz says the app could prove especially useful during the Christmas season, both for parishioners looking for a church while travelling and the flood of lapsed Catholics who use the holidays as an opportunity to return to mass.
“Everybody knows that Christmas and Easter are the jam-packed masses of the year, so we want to help people,” he says.
Schratz says technology is also making its way into the church services themselves. He recalls a workshop he attended a few weeks ago with local priests.
“It was interesting to see how many of them have their daily prayers and Bibles on their tablets now, so they’re actually reading from there rather than the paper version,” he says.
The app is the latest example of churches using technology to connect followers or reach out to potential recruits.
A handful of churches across Canada have smartphone apps with information about their services and podcasts featuring recordings of sermons. Countless apps display religious texts such as the Bible or the Qur’an.
There are also several apps designed specifically for Muslims living in areas, such as Canada, where mosques don’t broadcast the call to prayer over loudspeakers for nearby worshippers to hear.
Omar Mahfoudhi of Ottawa’s Islamic Care Centre says it’s rare for Canadian mosques to broadcast the call to prayer — a recitation that precedes each of the religion’s five daily prayers. The few that do limit the volume so it can only be heard in the immediate vicinity, such as the mosque’s parking lot.
Mahfoudhi says some Muslims simply set alarms to remind them of their prayer times, but he prefers using an app for his Android phone that plays the call to prayer five times a day. The app also features a compass that shows the direction to Mecca.
He says he appreciates the symbolism of actually hearing the call to prayer.
“I could have an alarm, but the call to prayer is an Islamic institution — it’s something that reflects our active worship,” he says.
Mahfoudhi says combining the call to prayer with technology isn’t a new phenomenon.
He notes that in some Muslim countries, the call to prayer is broadcast on local radio stations.
“You could be out in the middle of nowhere, yet you could still hear it over the radio,” he says.
“The app is new, but that idea of using technology to call people to prayer isn’t.”
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Demonstrating that it can use New Media for the New Evangelization, the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has become the first to launch a blog and mobile app to coincide with the Church’s “Year of Faith.” The Diocese lauched the blog and app in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s call to “witness to the Gospel in the digital age.”
“The Year of Faith offers many opportunities to examine and deepen our Catholic faith,” said Diocese of Fort Wayne – South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades. “The Diocese has designed a special website to help you learn more about your faith and to encourage you on this journey to deepen and strengthen your faith.”
The My Year of Faith blog and mobile app will offer short daily reflections on a variety of Catholic topics, including the Apostle’s Creed, what happens at Mass, prayers and traditions, and the New Evangelization. It also features a daily challenge, suggesting prayer, reading, or actions to grow in faith, and a customizable calendar.
It’s the first mobile app for the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend, and was developed by Little i Apps, LLC, the creators of other Catholic mobile apps.
Both the app and blog will feature several well-known Catholic bloggers, authors, and speakers, bishops, priests, and lay men and women, such as Lisa Hendey, founder of CatholicMom.com; Fr. Leo Patalinghug, the cooking priest; author Brandon Vogt, and others.
“We feel it is an incredible new approach that embraces the Church’s call for improved social media,” said Patrick Lienen, co-founder of Little i Apps.
“I believe a tool like this app will be the perfect spiritual companion for families like mine,” said Lisa Hendey. “The content will be instructive for Catholics, but will also provide us with the tools and motivation to share our faith with our loved ones and friends.”
The app is available for iOS and Android devices and can be purchased in iTunes and on the Android Market for $0.99.
Measure of compromise
By Chris Sugden
November 24, 2012
The media has depicted the Church of England as being on the verge of collapse because of the rejection of a General Synod Measure permitting the appointment of women as bishops. It was seen as a triumph of obscurantism over progress, a refusal to recognise the right of women to equal treatment with men. But there is more to it than that.
Strong feelings militate against compromise, but a willingness to compromise could have produced a better outcome. It still could, once tempers cool. No one’s interests are served by the Church of England inflicting damage on itself over this issue. Nor is it simply true to say that the Church has turned its back on women bishops. It has turned its back on one way of achieving them, because the proposed route did not go far enough towards safeguarding the rights of the opposing minority.
The rejected measure has had a long and tortuous history. It began as part of the unfinished business of 1992, when the synod approved the ordination of women as priests. From within a Catholic theology of priesthood, the decision applied logically to women bishops as much as to women priests. It was inevitable that the issue of women bishops would have to be faced, particularly as there are now more women coming forward for ordination than men. Throughout, the key questions have been about how to deal with those priests and parishes who were adamantly opposed to female ordination. Space was made for them – the so-called “flying bishops” solution – though not enough for some.
Both conservative Anglo-Catholics and conservative Evangelicals were opposed to anything that would make them look like second-class Anglicans. They wanted statutory guarantees that they could continue to conduct themselves as if women bishops did not exist. Instead they were offered the protection of a non-legally binding code of practice, of so far unspecified content. But it was not enough, which is why the Measure was defeated in the House of Laity on Tuesday. The reason they were not given the legal protection they wanted was because proponents of women bishops complained that that might undermine their equality of status. Just a little more movement on that point – which the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, had earlier argued for – might have been sufficient to close the deal.
The advocates of women bishops rejected the archbishop’s compromise. They saw that the battle for female equality had been won in secular society and they believed the Church of England had to bow to the same logic or appear irrelevant. That may be true, but both the Anglo-Catholics and the Evangelicals anchor their doctrine elsewhere than in the shifting sands of public opinion or the secular equality agenda: in Catholic tradition in one case and Scripture in the other.
Neither group minds being thought out of touch. But even if they have good arguments, it was a mistake for the more liberal sections of church opinion to forget that the very basis of the Anglican Settlement is a tacit agreement that no one part of it should ever push its case so far as to drive another part out into the cold. If the Measure could be revised in that spirit, a more acceptable and consensual solution might yet be found.
Canon Dr Chris Sugden is executive secretary of Anglican Mainstream and a member of the Church of England General Synod for Oxford. He is a canon of Jos in Nigeria and of Sunyani in Ghana. married to Elaine, a consultant cancer
specialist. They have three married children and five grandchildren. He is a former executive director of the Oxford Centre for Mission Studies.
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When you get a roomful of Catholics together, the subject of Vatican II is going to come up, especially in this year which marks the 50tih anniversary of the convening of the Council. Yet, these conversations about what the Council did and did not achieve, what it meant, the whole hermeneutical question seems to me the have gotten bogged down in ideological presuppositions that distort the Council itself and, in a more fundamental way, what a Council means to the life of the Church. I wrote about some of this last month, and you can read that commentary by clicking here.
I raise these issues now because tomorrow marks the anniversary of what may have been the most important day at the Council. At the Council, Xavier Rynne penned his “Letters from Rome” series for the New Yorker, and these set the template for understanding the Council as a struggle between conservative curialists and the liberal reformers in which the liberal reformers overcame the opposition to reform in the aula. The reformers, convinced of the need for collegiality among the bishops, were not above getting direct papal intervention when needed, as happened after the November 20, 1962 vote on the curial draft text on revelation, De Fontibus, left the Council Fathers in great consternation. A majority had registered a vote indicating their displeasure with the draft document, a product of the curia, but they had failed to garner the two-thirds majority needed to set the document aside. They appealed to Pope John XXIII to intervene and create a “mixed commission” of curialists and reformers to amend the text, which he did. The next day, the Pope’s decision was announced to the Council Fathers. The first major showdown went to the reformers. Over the next four years, the reformers won virtually every showdown.
This is all history. There can be a debate about the hermeneutics, but not about the facts. The curialists presented a document that represented the prevailing conservative theology of the day, and a majority of the bishops rejected it. The “mixed commission” went on to draft a new text that reflected a far more sophisticated understanding of the issues involved, and not only as regarded this one document, but virtually every text. By the conclusion of the Council, the curial conservatives had been utterly defeated and the reformers utterly vindicated. This is a fact. No one today espouses the views once held by the curial conservatives, although the legalistic mindset that characterized that view persists in important ways.
Here is where the ideological predispositions enter the scene and confuse the issues. Not all the reformers wanted the same thing from their reforms. Those who were united against Cardinal Ottaviani and the curalists were not united amongst themselves. And, the actors themselves changed their own positions over time. But, what is clear is that in the post-conciliar era, two dominant theological trends developed, each with their own journals. The Concilium school and the Communio school were both led by those who had been champions of reform at the Council. But the Concilium school and the Communio school differed in important ways about what had been achieved at the Council.
This phenomenon of once united groups diverging after a victory is not unique to the Second Vatican Council. It did not take long after the adoption of the U.S. Constitution for two parties to form, one around James Madison and one around Alexander Hamilton. Both men had been instrumental in drafting and defending the Constitution but both men saw in the document different themes and emphases that led them to become bitter rivals. Similarly, after the recent election, a fight is on within both parties for control of the narrative. Some pro-choice women’s groups are taking credit for Obama’s victory, even though his share of the women’s vote declined from what he achieved in 2008. Latinos, with a better case based on the numbers, claim that they put Obama over the top. These two groups will not always see eye-to-eye in the weeks and months ahead. And, on the Republican side, the fact of defeat has likewise created two groups within the GOP, the one saying Romney was too conservative during the primaries, and the other complaining that he was never enough of a true-red conservative to begin with.
In terms of understanding the Council, however, it is simply false to try and explain what followed as the resurgence of the curial conservative party. Joseph Ratzinger was a reformer at the Council, to be sure. Despite the widespread belief that he lost his reforming sensibilities as a result of the 1968 turmoil on campuses throughout the world, it was evident in 1966, when Ratzinger delivered a series of lectures that became his book “Introduction to Christianity,” that he understood the Council’s call to reform as a call to renewal, a return to the sources of the Christian faith in the Patristic age and in the Scriptures themselves. Nothing Ratzinger wrote, not as a theologian and not as a Pope, suggests that he has abandoned his understanding of the need for reform at the time of the Council, still less that he has suddenly adopted the theology of Ottaviani. Nothing. What is clear is that Raztinger, already in 1966, understood that some were trying to make of the conciliar reforms something that was extraneous to the Church’s self-understanding, an adoption of attitudes and ideas drawn from the ambient culture that were, in the final analysis, incompatible with orthodoxy. There is not a sentence ever penned by Joseph Raztinger, not before the Council, not at the Council, and not since the Council, that would suggest any kind of rejection of normativity, any winking at the idea that the starting point for Catholic theology is anything other than the self-revelation of Jesus Christ and the Christian tradition that has carried that self-revelation through the centuries down to us. At its heart, Ratzinger’s theology, and that of the other Communio theologians, has been concerned, and rightly concerned, that the problem with secularization is not just an external problem but an internal one, that the eyes of faith can be in danger of adopting secular lenses, severing the connection between the Church today and its founding.
Some may see no danger here, but he has, and I do. And, not only theological danger, but historical danger. The other day, a friend opined that any significant reform always proceeds from the ground-up, not from the hierarchy down. Of course, Exhibit A for the counter-argument is the Council itself. You can search far and wide for evidence that the pre-conciliar Church was filled with lay people chomping at the bit for reform, but you will not find very much. Certainly, the great liturgical renewal associated with Solesmes laid the groundwork for the liturgical renewal at Vatican II, but Solesmes was hardly a populist enterprise. At the Council, key theologians and sympathetic bishops led the fights for theological renewal, but no history of the 1950s Church finds any proof that the people in the pews were in a lather about collegiality, or ecumenism, or even the Mass in the vernacular. In one area, the Church’s commitment to social justice and specifically its ties with organized labor, do you see anything that could be characterized as “popular” but the links with labor had been constructed long before the Council and sanctioned by successive pontiffs. Vatican II cannot be understood except as a top-down event.
Tomorrow, we can reflect on the anniversary of the date when good Pope John set aside the regulations of the Council to help the emerging majority enact their will against curial opposition. It was a critical moment in the triumph of the reformers at Vatican II. I can think of no better way to commemorate that day, or the Council itself, than by rejecting the idea that what has followed the Council has essentially been a retrenchment, led by Joseph Ratzinger especially. Like Madison and Hamilton, some may have desired something different from those reforms from what Ratzinger desired. They may wish for a pontiff who will be more in accord with their own desires and less with those of Ratzinger and the Communio school. But, it is ahistorical, and tendentious, to suggest that anything in Raztinger’s career is somehow at odds with the spirit or the letter of Vatican II. Like Hamilton and Madison, there may be divergence about the significance of what had been achieved through common effort, but we must rid ourselves of the temptation to suggest any sense of betrayal. It is not only uncharitable, it is historically inaccurate.
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Bishop James D. Conley has 2,413 friends on Facebook.
His Twitter profile sports a picture of Herbie Husker with a Jayhawk head.
Clearly, the new leader of Lincoln’s Catholic diocese is not your average cleric.
But when it comes to his faith, make no mistake, Bishop Conley is a man of firm conviction and religious principles.
Conley, the ninth bishop to lead Lincoln’s 125-year-old diocese, officially took the helm on Nov. 7 — the morning after the re-election of President Barack Obama.
Conley will be installed formally at 2 p.m. Nov. 20 in a ceremony at Cathedral of the Risen Christ Church. To date, 38 bishops from around the country have RSVPed to attend.
Conley, 57, replaces retiring Bishop Fabian Bruskewitz, who led the diocese for 20 years.
Whereas Bruskewitz grew up immersed in the Catholic faith, Conley grew up Presbyterian.
“I was basically a happy pagan — indifferent to God and religion,” he said this past September when his appointment to the Lincoln diocese was first announced.
Conley converted to Catholicism halfway through his junior year at the University of Kansas. He was 20.
“I read my way into the Catholic Church,” Conley said, referring to the university’s integrated humanities program in which he read all the classical great books. Year two of the program was dedicated to reading the works of Christian authors. Conley said there he found “truth, goodness and beauty” through the literature, music and art of Catholics, and he came to embrace the Catholic Church.
At first, his surprised parents thought it was just a fad.
“But they quickly realized it was a serious decision I had made,” Conley said.
And years later, his parents converted to Catholicism. Conley, himself, baptized them in 1991 — by that time he had been a priest for six years.
But Conley said when he converted to Catholicism, he never considered entering the priesthood.
Then in 1979, a 24-year-old Conley joined his friends on a road trip to Des Moines, Iowa, where Pope John Paul II was leading a Mass.
“At that Mass, it was the first time I thought God might be calling me to be a priest,” he said.
Three months later, Conley started seminary.
In May 1985, he was ordained in the Diocese of Wichita, Kan.
“Ironically, I was in seminary with a number of Lincoln seminarians,” Conley said. Now, after 25 years, he is reunited with many former classmates who are priests in Lincoln.
His pastoral career has taken him around the world, serving parishes in Wichita, Kan., as well as Catholic students enrolled at American universities. He also was director of Respect for Life ministries, a theology instructor, a Vatican official, and ultimately, a bishop upon his 2008 ordination and appointment as auxiliary bishop to the Archdiocese of Denver. When the archdiocese bishop was appointed to lead the Philadelphia diocese, Conley became apostolic administrator of the Denver Archdiocese.
Reflecting on those 10 months as interim leader, Conley said it prepared him to step into a diocese of his own.
But the Lincoln diocese is rather unique.
“Bishop Bruskewitz is a very strong leader, and I have admired that,” Conley said.
“He has led the Diocese of Lincoln with great vision and clear teaching,” he said, noting that its schools, health care system and religious vocational programs all are growing and strong.
“I want to continue the great legacy that I have been given,” Conley said.
What is noticeably different between the two bishops is their style.
Bruskewitz has always been clear, concise, direct and unyielding in his orthodoxy. He can seem a foreboding figure — especially when crossed. He always has been resolute in his convictions and commitment to Catholic education and health care.
And Bruskewitz is proudly ultra-conservative in his views of God’s word and the expectations of the Catholic Church.
Those principles have earned Lincoln the reputation as the nation’s most conservative diocese. It is the only diocese in the country not to allow girl altar servers. And it is the only diocese not participating in annual sex abuse audits instituted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to address the issue of sexual abuse by clergy.
“I don’t like the terms conservative and liberal,” Conley said. “It has so many connotations and mostly political.
“I consider myself first of all Catholic. To be truly authentic Catholic and faithful to the mind of the church is my goal. If it is considered conservative by some, so be it,” he said.
“Being a convert to the Catholic faith, like any convert who comes late — I am in love with the traditions of Catholicism, the rituals of our Catholic heritage. But I am open, too. As Jesus says, ‘Seek the truth, and the truth will set us free.’ I am open to anything that is true and willing to listen and consider ideas and truths that people bring.”
Conley’s stature and style are a sharp contrast to Bruskewitz’s. He comes across as an everyday kind of guy; an avid hiker, biker and runner, he has accompanied college students and parishioners on treks into the Colorado mountains. He has completed six marathons — including races in Monaco and Paris.
“There still may be a couple more left in me,” he said with a grin.
Soft-spoken and affable, he pages through photo albums, joking about his 1970s long hair; pointing to himself and his boyhood friend Paul Coakley, now archbishop of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City, back when they were baseball teammates; and talking fondly about his families — the one he grew up with and those of the church.
His time in the Archdiocese of Denver has taught him about finding new common ground.
“The church changed and compromised in an effort to flourish in a liberal and progressive environment,” Conley said of the Denver archdiocese. “I can bring that experience … to be a voice in the larger culture, particularly with life issues — marriage and family life and the fight for religious liberty.”
But make no mistake about it, Conley is unwavering in his conviction that some issues are non-negotiable. He sees the president’s national health care program “a real threat” to the Catholic Church’s work in society.
“With the president being re-elected, we are going to have to continue the battle for religious freedom and protection of our rights,” Conley said.
Conley said the church cannot compromise when it comes to abortion, contraception and sterilization.
“We cannot compromise the issues that are intrinsic to who we are,” he said.
He sees America at a pivotal point in history.
“We have to look at ourselves. Who are we? Who do we want to be in America? What kind of country do we want to be,” he said.
As for the Diocese of Lincoln, Conley sees a welcoming home for Catholics and converts of all ages and races — particularly Catholic college students and the Hispanic community. In Denver, where 51 percent of the Catholics are Hispanic, he worked closely with parishioners on immigrant issues.
“I spent six weeks in Guadalajara, Mexico, studying Spanish to get rid of my Italian accent,” he said.
He’s also eager to begin traveling to the 138 churches in the 23,844 square miles that make up the diocese.
“Within six months, I hope to have met a large part of the Diocese of Lincoln, along with the priests that are serving it,” Conley said.
In the meantime, parishioners can always follow him — on Twitter and Facebook.
“Pope Benedict has … asked us as priests and bishops to use every means available to us to communicate the gospel for a lot of people. New digital media is the way they receive that information. We have to be there,” Conley said.
“But (digital media) is a means to an end — not an end in itself. There is no substitute for personal encounters and one-on-one evangelism.”
All Catholics are called to participate in the New Evangelization by renewing their own faith so that they can witness to those around them, said Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, D.C.
Members of the faith “have to get back to inviting people into that experience, that encounter with Christ,” he noted, because it is only once people have embraced the Risen Lord that they can embrace the Christian vision of countering social and moral problems.
On Nov. 5, Cardinal Wuerl spoke at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C., about his experience at the recent Synod on the New Evangelization, held Oct. 7-28 at the Vatican.
The cardinal reflected on his three weeks at the synod, which he described as “a very positive experience.”
Despite the challenges facing the Church, the bishops from around the world seemed to sense “a new Pentecost,” aiding the Church at this particular moment in history and offering “a sense of new purpose.”
He noted that he was particularly encouraged to see the number of young adults who gathered outside the synod hall, eager to live their Catholic faith to the fullest.
Cardinal Wuerl also emphasized the strong sense of unity among synod participants as they identified problems and discussed pastoral challenges in addressing them.
It was evident that all of the bishops shared the same faith and vision of what needs to be done, he said, explaining that he saw this unity as a sign that “the Spirit continues to work in the Church.”
In addition, he said, the synod was practical and pastoral. He observed while the 2008 Synod on the Word of God strongly emphasized theory, this gathering had a very different feel. Rather than a philosophical conversation, this synod focused on the practical question of how to renew the Church’s faith and energy to invite people into a personal encounter with Christ.
As General Relator of the synod, Cardinal Wuerl was responsible for presenting an opening report to his fellow bishops and guiding their discussions in the days that followed.
He explained that the New Evangelization is the Church’s response to the secularism, materialism and individualism that have swept across Western culture, limited our sense of transcendence and washed away the things that had been part of the fabric of society, such as the moral order, the common good and marriage.
To respond to the current situation, he said, the Church is called to return to the simple, basic announcement of Jesus Christ that is at the heart of the Christian faith.
This task of passing on the Good News of Christ involves all Catholics and must begin with the family, Cardinal Wuerl said, explaining that the Church “begins all over every time a baby is baptized.”
Parishes also play a central role in the New Evangelization, since parish life is where we encounter Christ in the sacraments and hear his word explained, he said, observing that this concept was frequently repeated at the synod, with an understanding that “it’s the renewal of parish life that’s going to be the renewal of Church.”
Young people also have a special role in the task of evangelizing, he noted, explaining that young people today are open to the truth because they are left empty by the promises of the world and are longing for something more.
The process of the New Evangelization must begin with personal conversion, recognizing a need to renew our own faith, Cardinal Wuerl said.
“Personal renewal is at the heart of whatever is going to happen in the New Evangelization,” he said, emphasizing that we cannot pass on the faith if it is not alive in our own hearts.
Therefore, he explained, we need to strengthen our appreciation of our faith through study and scripture, making times in our lives for regular prayer and frequent encounters with Christ through the sacraments of the Church.
With this renewal of our faith comes “a confidence in the truth of the message,” the cardinal continued.
“We have all around us people who simply don’t know the faith,” even though they think they do, he observed.
He explained that “catechetical confusion” in the 1970s and 80s led to a problem of hesitancy about what precisely the faith teaches. The result was a generation that is distanced from the Church, not because they want to be, but simply because they lack confidence in the truth of the faith.
The New Evangelization is about “overcoming that hesitancy,” he said, adding that “we renew our own confidence that this is true, and there is nothing as reassuring as knowing that you stand in the truth.”
Standing firm in the renewal of our own faith, we will then be better witnesses of that faith, Cardinal Wuerl said. He observed that Catholics tend to be “reluctant evangelists,” but said that the faithful must be ready to witness in the many opportunities that come up in life.
“We have to be prepared to share our faith,” he stressed.
New Evangelization, Synod of Bishops
That office’s new chief, Monsignor Gerhard Ludwig Mueller, told Germany’s Norddeutscher Rundfunk broadcaster, however, that “the talks are closed and I don’t believe there are new ones.”
“We couldn’t of course expose the Catholic faith to negotiation,” he said. “There are no compromises.’
The late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre founded the society in 1969, opposed to Vatican II’s introduction of Mass in the vernacular and outreach to Jews. In 1988, the Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre and four bishops after he consecrated them without papal consent.
Benedict has spent nearly his entire seven-year pontificate seeking to accommodate the society, restoring the use of the old Latin Mass favored by the society’s members, removing the bishops’ excommunications and allowing them two years of theological dialogue with the Vatican.
Aside from being sympathetic to the society’s point of view, Benedict fears the growth of a parallel church that is even more conservative than his own.
But the society, which boasts 550 priests and 200-plus seminarians, refused to sign off on a core set of doctrinal points required by the Vatican to come back into the fold.
“The brotherhood for us is not a negotiating partner, because they don’t believe in negotiations,” Mueller said.
Mueller is no newcomer to the issue: In 2009, he told the Catholic news agency Zenit that he wanted the society’s seminary in his diocese shut down and the four bishops to resign to live as simple priests “as part of the reparation for the damage that the schism has caused.”
Given Mueller’s negative view and after the talks broke down earlier this year, the pope named a trusted adviser, Monsignor Augustine Di Noia, to take charge of negotiations with the society. From Mueller’s comments, however, it appears there’s not much to negotiate.
The society’s most notorious member is Bishop Richard Williamson, who made headlines in 2009 when he denied that any Jews were killed in gas chambers during the Holocaust. His comments were a major scandal for Benedict since they were broadcast on the same day the decree lifting Williamson’s excommunication was signed.
The Simon Wiesenthal Center on Saturday welcomed the suggestion that talks with the society had broken down and said it hoped the society’s members “will eventually give up their theology of anti-Semitism and Holocaust denial.”
The society has distanced itself from Williamson.
Follow Nicole Winfield at www.twitter.com/nwinfield
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One of the world’s most prominent Catholic theologians has called for a revolution from below to unseat the pope and force radical reform at the Vatican.
Hans Küng is appealing to priests and churchgoers to confront the Catholic hierarchy, which he says is corrupt, lacking credibility and apathetic to the real concerns of the church’s members.
In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Küng, who had close contact with the pope when the two worked together as young theologians, described the church as an “authoritarian system” with parallels to Germany’s Nazi dictatorship.
“The unconditional obedience demanded of bishops who swear their allegiance to the pope when they make their holy oath is almost as extreme as that of the German generals who were forced to swear an oath of allegiance to Hitler,” he said.
The Vatican made a point of crushing any form of clerical dissent, he added. “The rules for choosing bishops are so rigid that as soon as candidates emerge who, say, stand up for the pill, or for the ordination of women, they are struck off the list.” The result was a church of “yes men”, almost all of whom unquestioningly toed the line.
“The only way for reform is from the bottom up,” said Küng, 84, who is a priest. “The priests and others in positions of responsibility need to stop being so subservient, to organise themselves and say that there are certain things that they simply will not put up with anymore.”
Küng, the author of around 30 books on Catholic theology, Christianity and ethics, which have sold millions worldwide, said that inspiration for global change was to be found in his native Switzerland and in Austria, where hundreds of Catholic priests have formed movements advocating policies that openly defy current Vatican practices. The revolts have been described as unprecedented by Vatican observers, who say they are likely to cause deep schisms in the church.
“I’ve always said that if one priest in a diocese is roused, that counts for nothing. Five will create a stir. Fifty are pretty much invincible. In Austria the figure is well over 300, possibly up to 400 priests; in Switzerland it’s about 150 who have stood up and it will increase.”
He said recent attempts by the archbishop of Vienna, Christoph Schönborn, to try to stamp out the uprising by threatening to punish those involved in the Austrian “priests’ initiative” had backfired owing to the strength of feeling. “He soon stopped when he realised that so many ordinary people are supportive of them and he was in danger of turning them all against him,” Küng said.
The initiatives support such seemingly modest demands as letting divorced and remarried people receive communion, allowing non-ordained people to lead services and allowing women to take on important positions in the hierarchy. However, as they go against conventional Catholic teaching, the demands have been flatly rejected by the Vatican.
Küng, who was stripped of the authority to teach Catholic theology by Pope John Paul II in 1979 for questioning the concept of papal infallibility, is credited with giving the present pope, Joseph Ratzinger as he then was, the first significant step up the hierarchy of Catholic academia when he called him to Tübingen University, in south-west Germany, as professor of dogmatic theology in 1966.
The pair had worked closely for four years in the 1960s as the youngest theological advisers on the second Vatican council – the most radical overhaul of the Catholic church since the middle ages. But the relationship between the two was never straightforward, with their political differences eventually driving a wedge between them. The dashing and flamboyant Hans Küng, by various accounts, often stole the limelight from the more earnest and staid Joseph Ratzinger.
Küng refers to the “heap of legends” that abound about himself and Ratzinger from their “Tübingen days”, not least the apocryphal accounts of how he gave lifts in his “red sports car” to the bicycle-riding Ratzinger.
“I often gave him a lift, particularly up the steep hills of Tübingen, yes, but too much has been made of this,” he said. “I didn’t drive a sports car, rather an Alfa Romeo Giulia. Ratzinger admitted himself that he had no interest in technology and had no driving licence. But it’s often been turned into some kind of pseudo-profound metaphor idealising the ‘cyclist’ and demonising the ‘Alfa Romeo driver’.”
Indeed the “modest” and prudent “bicycle-rider” image that pope-to-be, now 85, fostered for years has all but evaporated since his 2005 inauguration, according to Küng.
“He has developed a peculiar pomposity that doesn’t fit the man I and others knew, who once walked around in a Basque-style cap and was relatively modest. Now he’s frequently to be seen wrapped in golden splendour and swank. By his own volition he wears the crown of a 19th-century pope, and has even had the garments of the Medici pope Leo X remade for him.”
That “pomposity”, he said, manifested itself most fully in the regular audiences who gather on St Peter’s Square in Rome. “What happens has Potemkin village dimensions,” he said. “Fanatical people go there to celebrate the pope, and tell him how wonderful he is, while meanwhile at home their own parishes are in a lamentable state, with a lack of priests, a far higher number than ever before of people who are leaving than are being baptised and now Vatileaks, which indicates just what a poor state the Vatican administration is in,” he said, referring to the scandal over leaked documents uncovering power struggles within the Vatican which has seen the pope’s former butler appear in court. The trial ends on Saturday.
It was in Tübingen that the paths of the two theologians crossed for several years before diverging sharply following the student riots of 1968. Ratzinger was shocked by the events and escaped to the relative safety of his native Bavaria, where he deepened his involvement in the Catholic hierarchy. Küng stayed in Tübingen and increasingly assumed the role of the Catholic church’s enfant terrible.
“The student revolts were a primal shock for Ratzinger and after that he became ever more conservative and part of the hierarchy of the church,” said Küng.
Calling Pope Benedict XVI‘s reign a “pontificate of missed opportunities”, in which he had forgone chances to reconcile with the Protestant, Jewish, orthodox and Muslim faiths, as well as failing to help the African fight against Aids by not allowing the use of birth control, Küng said his “gravest scandal” was the way he had “covered up” worldwide cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics during his time as the head of the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith as Cardinal Ratzinger.
“The Vatican is no different from the Kremlin,” Küng said. “Just as Putin as a secret service agent became the head of Russia, so Ratzinger, as head of the Catholic church’s secret services, became head of the Vatican. He has never apologised for the fact that many cases of abuse were sealed under the secretum pontificium (papal secrecy), or acknowledged that this is a disaster for the Catholic church.” Küng described a process of “Putinisation” that has taken place at the Vatican.
Yet despite their differences, the two have remained in contact. Küng visited the pope at his summer retreat, Castel Gandolfo, in 2005, during which the two held an intensive four-hour discussion.
“It felt like we were on an equal footing – after all, we’d been colleagues for years. We walked through the park and there were times I thought he might turn the corner on certain issues, but it never happened. Since then we’ve still kept exchanging letters, but we’ve not met.”
Kung has travelled widely in his life, befriending everyone from Iranian leaders to John F. Kennedy, and Tony Blair with whom he forged close links a decade ago, becoming something of a spiritual guru for the then British prime minister ahead of his decision to convert to Catholicism.
“I was impressed how he tackled the Northern Ireland conflict. But then came the Iraq war and I was extremely troubled by the way in which he collaborated with Bush. I wrote to him calling it a historical failure of the first order. He wrote me a hand-written note in reply, saying he respected my views and thankyou, but that I should know he was acting according to his conscience and was not trying to please the Americans. I was astounded that a British prime minister could make such a catastrophic mistake, and he remains for me a tragic figure.” He described Blair’s conversion to Catholicism as a mistake, insisting he should instead have used his role as a public figure to reconcile differences between the Anglican and Catholic churches in the UK.
From his book-filled study, where a portrait of Sir Thomas More, the 16th-century English Catholic martyr, hangs on the wall, Küng looks out on to his front garden and a two-metre-tall statue of himself. Critics have called it symptomatic of Kung’s inflated sense of his own importance. He is embarrassed as he attempts to explain how it was a gift from his 20-year-old Stiftung Weltethos, (Foundation for a Global Ethic), which operates from his house and will continue to do so after his death.
Far from putting the brakes on his prolific theological output, Küng has recently distilled the ideas of Weltethos – which seeks to create a global code of behaviour, or a globalisation of ethics – into a capricious musical libretto. Mixing narrative with excerpts from the teachings of Confucianism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, Islam and Christianity, Küng’s writings have been incorporated into a major symphonic work by the British composer Jonathan Harvey that will have its London premiere on Sunday at the Southbank Centre.
Küng says the musical work, like the foundation, is an attempt to emphasise what the religions of the world have in common rather than what divides them.
Weltethos was founded in the early 1990s as an attempt to bring the religions of the world together by emphasising what they have in common rather than what divides them. It has drawn up a code of behavioural rules that it hopes one day will be as universally acceptable as the UN.
The work’s aim is arguably high-minded – Harvey described the demanding task of writing a score for the text as an “awe-inspring responsibility”. But Küng, who has won the support of leading figures including Henry Kissinger, Kofi Annan, Jacques Rogge, Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson and Shirin Ebadi, insisted its aims were grounded in basic necessity.”At a time of paradigm change in the world, we need a common set of principles, most obvious among them the Golden Rule, in which Confucius taught to not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself,” he said.
Weltethos will be performed at the Royal Festival Hall on October 7