Saturday, October 31, 2015


Pope Benedict said that it is permissible not to accept every teaching of the Second Vatican Council insofar as what is not accepted isn't defined as doctrine or dogma.

The Second Vatican Council was a pastoral council but in its documents defined dogma is used as well as other doctrines. The Second Vatican Council was in continuity with the Church's patrimony; it only gave new direction in areas that are not necessarily faith and morals but rather discipline.

This discipline is authoritative, but not required to be believed as an article of faith.

So the Church desires to end the bickering of the post Reformation/Counter-Reformation period and enter into dialogue with our separated brethren. A Catholic can be a good Catholic whether he accepts this or not.

So the Church wants to enter into dialogue with non-Christian religions beginning with our eldest brother the Jews. A Catholic can be a good Catholic whether or not he accepts this pastoral initiative.

So the Church wants to enter into dialogue with the secular world and with non-believers. A Catholic can be a good Catholic whether or not he accepts this initiative of the institutional Church.

We know too from Pope Benedict, that one can prefer the older Order of the Mass and still be a good Catholic. It is not required to like the new Order of Mass although it would be impossible for a good Catholic to say the new order of the Mass is invalid. That would be schismatic.

We can prefer traditional religious orders, big old bulky habits and rigid discipline and still be a good and faithful Catholic.

We can prefer the older Roman Calendar to the new one.

We can prefer a more condemning attitude toward sin, especially sins against chastity and natural law. We might not want to accompany a sinner as he or she might place us in an occasion of sin ourselves.

We may not agree with Pope Francis' concept of "synodalty" or "mercy" and if we do disagree we are still good Catholics.

We can prefer popes who wear all the papal regalia to include mozettas and fanons and still be good and wonderful Catholics. The converse is true too. 

The thing we can't disagree on is the two greatest Commandments. When we  become uncharitable to those who agree or disagree with the Second Vatican Council's pastoral vision or the recent Synod on Marriage and Family life's pastoral emphasis, then we have broken the two greatest Commandments. We can't do that and be good Catholics.

Friday, October 30, 2015


Eternal rest grant unto them O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon them.
May they rest in peace. Amen.
May their souls and the souls of all the faithful departed rest in peace. Amen.
I am want to be buried in this! O happy fault, o necessary sin of biretta! Pom Pom and all! Just watch, I'll be named a monsignor and won't be able to wear this one!



I have a disclaimer. The first Halloween costume I wore as a child of 3 or so was a red devil's outfit with tail and all. I absolutely loved it and of course I still remember it fondly or else I wouldn't be writing about it now.

I just celebrated our school Mass which was an All Saint's prelude. The 4th graders dressed up as various saints and were in the procession at the beginning. They spent a lot of time on their saint's costumes. I was impressed. For many of these children it may be the only time during the year that they actually see a nun's habit in person. Yes, in a Catholic school no less, but what the heck.

At the end of Mass I charged the 4th graders to wear their saints' costumes for Halloween on Saturday night. What a refreshing change that would be from the silly costumes that are worn especially the silly celebrity ones. And I said to them that if anyone asks what it is they are wearing, they could explain it and what the particular saint did so famously.

What do you think? How can we get parents to encourage their children to dress as saints on Halloween? If I were a child, I would dress as Saint Denis with my head in hand! Please note, though, that Saint Denis' halo is where his head was! The cathedral in Savannah has a mural of Saint Denis with all the saints in the clerestory processing toward the altar and he has head-in-hand with the halo where his head was. I just loved that!

Here's a few other good saints' costumes:

Thursday, October 29, 2015


Much attention in the coverage of the synod was given to whether those in a valid sacramental marriage, having civilly divorced and remarried, can then receive Holy Communion. (Actually, this hot topic hardly dominated the Synod as it did the press coverage.)  The Church’s longstanding practice—recently confirmed clearly by St. John Paul II after the synod on the family in 1980, and renewed by Pope Benedict XVI after the synod on the Eucharist in 2005—is that they cannot as long the second conjugal union continues. It is the necessary consequence of what Jesus taught about divorce and re-marriage and of what St. Paul the Apostle taught about being in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion.  The final proposals of the Synod bishops did nothing to alter that teaching.
Catholics in such situations are often carrying a heavy cross; they may well feel like the forlorn disciples on the road to Emmaus. Yet the Church cannot admit them to Holy Communion if she is to remain faithful to the teaching of Christ. The synod did not change any of this, despite what you may have read in misinformed reports.
Report on the Synod
JOYFUL RECOLLECTION—Pope Francis and Cardinal Dolan fondly recall the pontiff’s recent visit to New York during a break at the Synod of Bishops on the Family.
Lord, To Whom Shall We Go?
Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan

October 26, 2015 
It’s good to be back in New York after almost four weeks in Rome for the Synod of Bishops on the Family. I have written a few blog posts to keep you updated on the synod (which you can find at, but now that I am back I want to share with you a more complete report. 
I missed being away from New York, but the synod was a grace too! Let me mention three particular blessings of the synod.

The Holy Father
It is always a gift to be with the Holy Father, but at the synod we were with him every day. We listened to him to be sure; most of the time though, he was listening to us, and that’s a great example. Pope Francis invited us to speak freely, and is very generous with his time in listening to what the synod participants have to say. You know how happy we were last month to have Pope Francis with us for two days in New York. Well, to be with the Holy Father every day is never a blessing to be taken for granted. 

The Universal Church
“Catholic” means universal. The Church that Jesus established isn’t for one time or one place. The Church is certainly present in New York in the 21st century, but that is not all the Church is! The Church is universal, for every time and every place. With brother bishops, ecumenical representatives, theologians and married couples from every part of the world, the synod was a very vivid experience of that universality. In a place like New York, we can sometimes think our priorities are global priorities. A synod is a good lesson in humility! We belong to the Church; we are not the whole Church. So when the coverage of the synod returned over and over to a few disputed questions, it was good to be reminded, especially by the suffering Churches and the young Churches that we need to see beyond any narrow preoccupations. In particular, the circumstances of marriage and the family are not the same all over the world, and a synod reminds us that we need to learn from the experience of others, rather than force their experiences into our categories. Thank God for the witness of those Catholics in places where the Church is young and vibrant, especially Africa; for the heroic witness of Catholic families where the Church is suffering, like Ukraine and the Middle East; and for the Church in central and Eastern Europe, still rebuilding after decades of Soviet oppression.

The Witness of Catholic Family Life
Our Catholic tradition speaks about the family as the “domestic church.” Indeed, the early Christians met for worship in family homes called “house churches.” That’s not only where the faith started in history, it’s where it best starts today, in happy families where children are raised in the faith by their parents. The Catholic faith is a family faith. God in the beginning creates us male and female, that the two might be united in one flesh. He commands our first parents to be fruitful and multiply. God begins with the family! After sin mars that creation, He comes to us for our redemption through the Holy Family. Sure, there were disagreements at the synod, but there were no disagreements about the absolutely essential importance of the family, of its centrality in God’s plan for our salvation. 
In the Church we are often very good about thanking the priests who serve us, the religious brothers and sisters who are so close to us, the teachers who make sacrifices for our schools, the many generous volunteers who do all the hidden work in our parishes. You are kind enough to give even the bishops a pat on the back from time to time too! The synod reminded us that we need to thank the Moms and Dads who give life to our domestic churches, those families where the faith is first handed on. Maybe we don’t say thank you enough. Hearing the inspiring married couples at the synod reminded me to give thanks to God for the families of the Church in New York—and to express my gratitude to them too! May God bless you in family life, and reward you for your generosity in living your vocation as disciples in holy matrimony, as fathers and mothers, as parents and children, as grandparents and godparents, as uncles and aunts, as brothers and sisters!

Two Challenges from the Synod
Those were three highlights among the blessings of the synod. Permit me now to highlight two challenges the synod offers us.

Because the synod was about the family, and the family is fundamental to the faith, touching every aspect of life, the synod’s discussions went to the heart of what it means to be a disciple of the Lord Jesus. Much was made at the synod of “journeying together.” We are not meant to be disciples alone, we are meant to follow Jesus together, in the Church, and it is a journey. We are not meant to remain where we are, but to follow Jesus Christ to where He wants to lead us—to heaven ultimately, there to behold the blessedness of the Father in the company of the saints forever, as we’ll recall on this coming weekend, November 1 and 2, the Feast of all Saints and All Souls. At the heart of the synod was a fundamental question: By the gift of God’s grace, are we still capable of doing this?
Having spent more than a year praying, thinking and discussing the family at two synods of bishops, I want to share with you two challenges which I think summarize the situation that the Church faces in encouraging happy, holy and healthy Catholic family life.

The Challenge of Emmaus in Full
At last year’s synod on the family, several fathers proposed the method of Jesus on the road to Emmaus as the model for the Church’s accompaniment of the family. You recall the story? As recounted in Luke 24, two disciples are leaving Jerusalem on Easter Sunday evening, having witnessed the crucifixion on Good Friday. They are discouraged. They have lost hope. They have heard from others that Jesus has risen, but they consider that news too fantastic to be true. The Risen Jesus draws alongside them in the guise of a fellow traveler and asks them why they are disconsolate. Jesus then proceeds to restore their hope after opening their eyes to His presence in the Scriptures and in the Eucharist.

Both last year and this year I was excited to hear the references to Emmaus. When I first came to New York, the gospel story of Emmaus was read at the installation Mass. I preached that first time in St. Patrick’s Cathedral about how I wanted Fifth Avenue to be a road to Emmaus, where disciples would encounter Jesus and have our hope restored. Not long after my arrival, the Council of Churches gave me an image of the road to Emmaus leading into Manhattan. I treasure that gift.  
One of most insightful speeches at the synod was that of Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto, who spoke precisely about Emmaus. He described for us what that pastoral approach of the Lord Jesus:

“First, Jesus drew near, and accompanied his downcast disciples as they walked in the wrong direction, into the night. He started by asking questions about their present disposition and by listening to them, but he did not stop there. Instead, he challenged them with the Word of God: ‘Oh, how foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have declared!’ (Luke 24:25) His presentation of the objective vision of Scripture broke through their subjective self-absorption and, along with his loving presence, brought them to conversion. The disciples of Emmaus accepted the Word of God that challenged them, and … they changed direction and, with burning hearts, raced through the night to Jerusalem to bear joyful witness to the community gathered there.”

Cardinal Collins takes us through it well. Jesus drew near. He accompanied them with His loving presence. He asked them about their situation. He listened to their experience. He rebuked them for their mistakes. He taught them about the truth of the Scriptures. He revealed Himself in the Eucharist. He thus restored their hope and led them to conversion.

Thus converted, the disciples raced back to Jerusalem to take their place with their fellow disciples in the nascent Church! They had been “going the wrong way!” He “turned them around!”

“We are called to accompany people with a compassion that challenges, and that leads to conversion, and to a heart on fire for Christ,” Cardinal Collins said. “Pastors, who must daily accompany their people in their struggles, should imitate Jesus on the road to Emmaus, and with clarity and charity preach the call to conversion, which is the foundation for the liberating message of Jesus ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 4:17).”

Might I propose a challenge for the Church in New York after the synod on the family? 
Let’s imitate the full Emmaus!

Many of the disagreements at the synod about the pastoral care of the family arose from choosing to offer only a partial Emmaus experience to those who might be discouraged, walking into the night. But partial Emmaus is not what Jesus wants for His people; it is not what the pastors of the Church are called to offer in service. If we only accompany but do not convert, then we simply walk beside people farther into the night, away from the community of faith in Jerusalem. If we only question and listen, then we withhold from people the saving news of salvation. If we only rebuke, then we afflict those already suffering. If we only teach the objective truth of the Scriptures, we fail to show how it is good news for each particular soul. If we bring people to the Eucharist without first preparing them for conversion along the road, then they will not be transformed by the revelation of Christ. I don’t suggest that it is easy to do all that Jesus did on the way to Emmaus, and it may well be that offering the full Emmaus is not welcomed. Our challenge is to try our best. That’s our mission, both as pastors and as fellow disciples: To draw near, to accompany, to question, to listen, to rebuke the lack of faith, to teach the truth of the Gospel, to reveal Christ, to restore hope, to convert, to return to the Church

Much attention in the coverage of the synod was given to whether those in a valid sacramental marriage, having civilly divorced and remarried, can then receive Holy Communion. (Actually, this hot topic hardly dominated the Synod as it did the press coverage.)  The Church’s longstanding practice—recently confirmed clearly by St. John Paul II after the synod on the family in 1980, and renewed by Pope Benedict XVI after the synod on the Eucharist in 2005—is that they cannot as long the second conjugal union continues. It is the necessary consequence of what Jesus taught about divorce and re-marriage and of what St. Paul the Apostle taught about being in a state of grace to receive Holy Communion.  The final proposals of the Synod bishops did nothing to alter that teaching.

Catholics in such situations are often carrying a heavy cross; they may well feel like the forlorn disciples on the road to Emmaus. Yet the Church cannot admit them to Holy Communion if she is to remain faithful to the teaching of Christ. The synod did not change any of this, despite what you may have read in misinformed reports. At the same time, the synod certainly did not leave them to wander off into the night alone, cut off from the community of disciples. To the contrary, we need to offer them what Jesus offered them—the full Emmaus, confident that they too are capable of conversion, of hearts burning with renewed hope, eager to return to the Church gathered in the Upper Room in Jerusalem. And we welcome them!  

The Challenge of the Upper Room
We must learn from what Jesus did on that first Easter evening. He was not only on the road to Emmaus. In the glory of His risen body, He first revealed Himself to the faithful women who came to the tomb, and then to Peter, the first of the apostles. In the evening, He was also with the disciples who didn’t go into the night, who didn’t leave the Upper Room. They weren’t perfect, they did not understand everything, they weren’t without doubts and failings, but they were where they were supposed to be—together, awaiting confirmation of the astonishing news brought by St. Mary Magdalene, that the Lord was risen indeed!

Not everyone is on the road to Emmaus, walking away into the night. There are those trying heroically to remain with that “little Church,” even if behind locked doors for fear of what it might mean to be known as a follower of Jesus in the city. There are those who are indeed, by God’s grace, walking not away from Jerusalem, but striving to remain, despite many difficulties, in the company of the saints, as the first Christians called each other. Jesus accompanies them. So too must His Church.
That’s why I posted on my blog about the new minority. The synod stressed that we need to comfort and console the afflicted. It also reminded us to think more broadly about all those who need accompaniment. Forgive me if I quote what I wrote about the new minority:

A very refreshing, consistent theme of the synod has been inclusion. The Church, our spiritual family, welcomes everyone, especially those who may feel excluded. Among those, I’ve heard the synod fathers and observers comment, are the single, those with same-sex attraction, those divorced, widowed, or recently arrived in a new country, those with disabilities, the aged, the housebound, racial and ethnic minorities. We in the family of the Church love them, welcome them, and need them.

Can I suggest as well that there is now a new minority in the world and even in the Church? I am thinking of those who, relying on God’s grace and mercy, strive for virtue and fidelity: Couples who—given the fact that, at least in North America, only half of our people even enter the sacrament of matrimony—approach the Church for the sacrament; couples who, inspired by the Church’s teaching that marriage is forever, have persevered through trials; couples who welcome God’s gifts of many babies; a young man and woman who have chosen not to live together until marriage; a gay man or woman who wants to be chaste; a couple who has decided that the wife would sacrifice a promising professional career to stay at home and raise their children—these wonderful people today often feel themselves a minority, certainly in culture, but even, at times in the Church! I believe there are many more of them than we think, but, given today’s pressure, they often feel excluded.

Where do they receive support and encouragement? From TV?   From magazines or newspapers? From movies? From Broadway?  From their peers? Forget it!
They are looking to the Church, and to us, for support and encouragement, a warm sense of inclusion. We cannot let them down!

I am pleased that the final report of the synod was a vast improvement over the original working text, in large part because it expressed esteem, support and encouragement for those who try their best to live by the light of the Gospel—and who are succeeding! This new minority not only needs encouragement; they give all of us encouragement! We thank them for their witness! They give us confidence that the Gospel has not lost its power.

One of the most successful gatherings we have in the archdiocese happens on Saturday evenings in a midtown parish, and attracts a thousand or more young adults who come for prayer before the Eucharist, confession, song, and, especially, good company with those who share deep Catholic values in a culture and city that can indeed be at times antagonistic. The name of their gathering is revealing:  Catholic Underground! That’s the new minority who give their bishop so much hope! May their tribe increase!

All Saints: The Feast of Family Sanctity
I write these lines just a few days before we celebrate one of the great solemn feasts of the liturgical year—All Saints on November 1st. This Sunday we shall celebrate that great number of saints, beyond the capacity of any one to count, who are in heaven. They are not officially canonized, but they are just as much saints as Mary Magdalene or Mother Teresa. We know them intimately, for among them are counted our own deceased grandparents and parents, our relatives and friends, our pastors and fellow parishioners. All Saints is the feast day of ordinary holiness, and the vast majority of those “ordinary saints” are family saints—married couples, mothers and fathers.

Might I make a request of all the priests of the archdiocese this coming Sunday? Please lift up in your preaching the vocation of family sanctity! It’s a reality in all of our parishes, not just in the past, but today. It is possible today because God calls married couples and children to holiness in family life, and when God calls He never fails to provide the necessary grace.

Dear families: Make this Sunday your feast day, the feast day of family sanctity. You can be holy! The Church does not lack confidence in you. None of you has a second-class baptism!

Whether you are on the road to Emmaus or in the Upper Room, know that the Risen Jesus is in your midst, He joins you at the dinner table in Emmaus, He comes through the doors of your homes, He is with you today that you might one day be with Him forever as saints in heaven.

At the heart of the synod was a question that the Church has to answer in every age and in every place. Do we still believe that what Jesus proposes is possible? Do we still have confidence that what the saints, the confessors of the faith and the martyrs who went before us received from God—the capacity for heroic holiness—is also possible for us today? Do we still have a sure hope that the salvation offered in the Risen Christ is real? Do we still have the capacity to live the joy of the Gospel?

There was much talk about both mercy and truth at the synod. Mercy and Truth both come from God, so they cannot be in conflict. At the conclusion of his encyclical letter on the moral law, The Splendor of Truth, Pope St. John Paul turns the discussion toward mercy. The moral life and the experience of mercy are not opposed. As I conclude this report from the synod, let me quote the words of the great pope of mercy, Pope St. John Paul:

At times, in the discussions about new and complex moral problems, it can seem that Christian morality is in itself too demanding, difficult to understand and almost impossible to practice. This is untrue, since Christian morality consists, in the simplicity of the Gospel, in following Jesus Christ, in abandoning oneself to him, in letting oneself be transformed by his grace and renewed by his mercy, gifts which come to us in the living communion of his Church (#119).

The simplicity of the Gospel; Discipleship; Transformed on the road to Emmaus; Living the communion of the Church in the Upper Room. Renewed by His mercy; All of this is the story of the synod on the family!

Pray for our Holy Father, who led the Church so well on the synod path!

Pray for me and all the synod participants, that we might be dispensers of the grace we received in Rome with Peter and under Peter!

Pray for the families of the archdiocese, called to be the saints of the twenty-first century!


Our annual combined choirs singing Gabriel Fauré  Requiem in D minor will be this Monday, All Souls' Day, November 2nd.

Last year, All Souls' was celebrated at our Sunday Mass and  the Fauré  Requiem was sung as an Ordinary Form Mass.

This year it will once again be a Solemn Sung Requiem with deacon and sub deacon. We will video it and eventually place it on my blog. This year, much to John Nolan's appreciation, we will have an MC doing his MC thing!

And now for the drum roll.....if it arrives in time, yours truly will wear a biretta for the first time ever....!!!! as will the deacon and subdeacon. 

Last year's Fauré Requiem as a Sunday Ordinary Form Mass at our normally scheduled 12:10 PM Mass:


First read this:

Catholic Theologians Ask New York Times To Stop Letting Ross Douthat Write About Theology

On October 17, New York Times opinion writer and prominent Catholic conservative Ross Douthat penned a scathing critique of Pope Francis entitled “The Plot To Change Catholicism.” In it, he blasted the pope for supposedly endorsing the idea that divorced and remarried Catholics should receive communion without an annulment, and slammed the famously egalitarian pontiff for his “ostentatious humility.”
The piece is one of several Douthat has written about Pope Francis and Catholicism in recent months, most of which are deeply critical of the Church’s left wing and Francis’ relatively progressive take on various theological issues. This week, however, American Catholics are fighting back.
On Monday, a group of Catholic theologians published an open letter directly challenging Douthat, who reportedly has little if any formal training in theology or Church history. The signers took particular umbrage with his most recent article, but also appeared to decry Douthat’s larger body of work on Catholicism — especially his tendency to bat about accusations of heresy, often at Catholic theologians.
Initial signers of the letter included prominent theology professors affiliated with major Catholic universities, such as Georgetown University, Loyola University Chicago, and Catholic University of America. Dozens of other Catholic theology professors, academics, priests, and PhD students have also signed onto the letter since Monday, most hailing from other Catholic schools such as Boston College, Fordham University, and Santa Clara University, among others. Catholic theologian Francis Schussler Fiorenza of Harvard University, Douthat’s alma mater, also added his name.

The letter quickly drew ire from religious conservatives who saw it as an attempt by academics to silence a Catholic layperson, since Douthat is not ordained. But the chief signer of the letter, Rev. John O’Malley of Georgetown University, told ThinkProgress that Catholic frustration with Douthat isn’t about his right to say what he wants, but his apparent unfamiliarity with crucial theological concepts — all while writing for an international news outlet.
“[Douthat] gets into very technical theological stuff, and you should have some professional background in that — studying church theology, church history, that kind of thing,” he said. “These are big issues.”
A similar sentiment was expressed on Wednesday by James J. Martin, editor at large at America magazine, a renowned Catholic publication affiliated with the Jesuit order of priests. In a lengthy treatment of the debate, Martin acknowledged that the letter itself was “poorly worded,” but defended the spirit of the theologians who are rushing to support it.
“What the signers meant, it seemed to me, was that when it comes to some theological matters Mr. Douthat has no idea what he’s talking about. And that’s true…” he said. “This does not mean [Douthat is] a bad person or a bad Catholic. Or a ‘heretic,’ to use a phrase from his lexicon. It just means that he’s not a professional theologian and on many matters, particularly church history and ecclesiology, he is out of his depth.”
Katie Grimes, an assistant professor of theological ethics at Villanova University and another signer of the letter, explained in a blog post her annoyance with Douthat’s repeated claims to theological certainty.
“More than many other figures who misrepresent or oversimplify Catholic theology in the mainstream media, Mr. Douthat has tended to portray himself as one who recites Catholic teaching rather than one who interprets it, especially over the course of the past few weeks,” she wrote. “This alone I take issue with.”
“So perhaps rather than calling Mr. Douthat ‘un-credentialed,’ the letter should have asked the New York Times the following question: with what criteria did they determine Mr. Douthat competent to act as an arbiter of theological truth?” she added.
Ultimately, several of the signers defended Douthat’s ability to write as he pleases, but insisted his theological diatribes — which often include condemnations of others — will not go unchallenged.
“I wholeheartedly support fully anyone’s right to write whatever he or she wants, including Ross Douthat,” Martin wrote. “But be sure that whenever you’re reading ad hominem comments, thinly veiled attacks on people’s fidelity to the faith, snide insinuations and malicious twisting of words, you are not reading theology. You are reading hate.”

MY COMMENT: Isn't this the way that liberal politics silences its opponents by pulling out the "hate" card, such as racist, homophobic and the like? Now Ross Douthat is a hate monger, that surely will neutralize the opponents of the rubbish of Fr. James Martin and the like, no?

Wouldn't the signers of this letter to the NYT's have spent time not wasted in correcting so many errors that come from reporters who report things as hard news that are simply false? Ross Douthat's piece was a commentary, an editorial, not hard news. 

But the piece below, says a Catholic nun was ordained a priest and it states it as a matter of fact. Was she ordained a priest. NO, NO, NO! She feigned being ordained a "priest" in quotation marks because she wasn't ordained a priest--it was a bogus "ordination" like an ordination in a play or movie--it wasn't real. The reporter does write that and she should be castigated for her reporting abilities. But where is Fr. James Martin in all of this, AWOL!

Read it for yourself. What's interesting, the article uses a video of my bishop, Bishop Hartmayer ordaining a former Episcopal priest and bishop and married for our diocese a few years back! What a hoot!

Nun Excommunicated for Becoming a Priest

After nearly five decades as a Catholic nun, Tish Rawles became a priest—and found herself cast out. Now she’s calling on Pope Francis to do what Jesus would’ve done and bring her back.

When Letitia “Tish” Rawles was ordained as a Catholic priest in April, it was the culmination of a lifetime’s worth of yearning—and a practical fix to ministering to the sick and dying at her Cincinnati assisted living facility, where it was often hard to find a priest to administer last rites.

“I’ve wanted to be a priest since... probably the fourth grade, as soon as I started attending Catholic school,” she told The Daily Beast. “I always wondered why there were no women at the altar, only men.”

But Rawles didn’t know any female priests then, so she became a nun despite feeling the “deeper calling” of the priesthood. “And I’ve loved being a nun,” she said.

The 67-year-old had that taken away from her last week, though, when the Ohio-based Sisters of the Precious Blood, the order she’d been with for 47 years, found out about her ordination and told her she was out. She was automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church, which bars women from the priesthood and shows no signs of budging from that position.

Now Rawles and her supporters say they’re appealing to Pope Francis during his Year of Mercy to restore her to the church and to her order. That’s what Jesus would have done, they say.
“This is an opportunity for Pope Francis to take a step towards reconciliation and healing misogyny in the church,” Bishop Bridget Mary Meehan of the Association of Roman Catholic Woman Priests told The Daily Beast. “The full equality of women in the church is the voice of God in our time.

The ARCWP is one of many organizations pushing for allowing women to be Catholic priests but an outlier in that it ordains women. Meehan said the ARCWP’s female bishops were even ordained by an anonymous male Catholic bishop, linking them to an unbroken lineage leading back to the apostles.
“Did she know it was against the rules, did we know it was against the rules? Of course,” Meehan said. “But we are the Rosa Parks of the Catholic Church.”

The ARCWP emphasizes the Catholic concept of “primacy of conscience,” which it says allows it to choose to dissent from an unjust teaching. “We’re walking in the footsteps of prophets and saints,” Meehan said. “Look at Joan of Arc. They burned her at the stake for what? For following her conscience.”
For Rawles, though, joining the priesthood wasn’t an easy decision.

Even after attending services led by women priests, she tried to convince herself that she was too old, too sick to take on the task herself. Rawles said she suffers from multiple sclerosis, late stage liver disease, and diabetes.
“If you stay and fight for what’s right, what’s just, what’s loving, what’s compassionate, then changes can happen.”
“But that gnawing, that call....that primacy of conscience, as we call it, was always there,” Rawles said. Then she began taking classes, “and the feelings just got stronger and stronger and stronger.”
Two years of studying culminated in her ordination in Cincinnati on April 18. Her family, who “never” visit, she said, were in attendance, but she didn’t tell the Sisters of the Precious Blood.
“As I was being ordained, I was thinking about the more in-depth ways I could touch people’s lives, that I could be there for them,” Rawles said. “Especially for the dying, to hold their hands as they go to their loving God, whoever he or she may be for them.”

She quietly began performing last rites and leading prayer services in homes. Friends at the nursing facility were just “happy to know that there’s a priest on the premises,” she joked.
She she doesn’t quite know how the Sisters of the Precious Blood found out, she said, but she received a call from the group’s president earlier this month, demanding to know whether rumors of the ordination were true.

Rawles refused to sign a letter of separation from the order. A few days later, she got a note saying she was out, as a result of her automatic excommunication for seeking the priesthood.

“I don’t blame them, I mean, they’re following the rules, manmade rules of the Vatican,” Rawles said. Both she and Meehan emphasized that the sisters are doing what they must to avoid the wrath of the church. “I still love the sisters, I still wish I could be part of them.”

The sisters, for their part, have promised to keep picking up the tab for her assisted living facility: Rawles may no longer be a member of the order, but she’s still a person in need. “We are in the process of setting up some means of financial support,” Sister Joyce Lehman told the Cincinnati Enquirer.

But Rawles, who devoted 47 years to the order, said that’s not enough.

“The pope has declared this the Year of Mercy. We’re asking him to act on that by removing all excommunications,” she told The Daily Beast. “Because Jesus would not excommunicate anybody, he accepted all.”

Getting Pope Francis’s attention is another matter. Meehan acknowledged that, as excommunicated Catholics, Rawles and the ARCWP have practically no line to the Vatican. Rawles said a woman at her assisted living facility suggested gathering petition signatures.

A Vatican spokesman contacted by The Daily Beast said he had no comment on the matter. “I know nothing about it,” Thomas Rosica said.

But for Rawles, a lifelong Catholic, leaving her church for a more open one is not an option: Doing so would be forfeiting hope that the church can change.

“If you leave something, then problems and issues don’t get addressed, and things don’t change,” she said. “Whereas if you stay and fight for what’s right, what’s just, what’s loving, what’s compassionate, then changes can happen.”

“And that’s why we say we’re not leaving the church, we’re leading the church,” Rawles said.


I have written this before, but it is Déjà vu all over again in the Church. And it isn't a positive nostalgia at all. In three short years we have traveled back in time to the tumultuous 1970's in society and the Church, very much like the dynamic duo of the 1970's, culture and Church wars raging on and often it is difficult to teased the two phenomena apart because in fact the two are interrelated and closely wedded.

Both Pope Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict were able to keep this sort of thing in check during their papacies. While many thought Pope Benedict would be the most divisive figure of a pope, he proved anything but that. Pope Francis has become and is what many thought Pope Benedict would be. 

The agents of change are the ones responsible for the unrest and polarization that occurs and is now occurring in the Church, although I am not sure it has filtered down to rank and file Catholics as it did in the immediate post-Vatican II period. Perhaps we have the absence of radical nuns and brothers in our schools to thank for this? They are the ones who fomented such polarization in local parishes especially in their schools. Then the children in these schools brought the polarization home. I don't think this is happening today.

On top of that the divisions and polarization Pope Francis has wrought don't have to do with Sunday liturgy. It is on a different level and having to do with personal morality and the Church blessing immorality rather than treating it which sometimes means amputation. It seems Pope Francis wants to simply place bandages on gangrenous wounds which only exacerbates the disease. Or worse yet, Pope Francis is an "enabler" of people's peccadilloes.

The polarization this time is happening on the internet and with blogs and newspapers. The two most interesting examples of this have to do with Russ Douthat of the New York Times, a conservative, orthodox Catholic who is calling things as he sees them.

Liberals and the heterodox in the Catholic Church are repressive and as I mentioned, in the 1970's they ruled with an iron fist to suppressed their opposition often times by humiliated them and marginalizing them. The worst insult they could hurl at someone was "you are so pre-Vatican II!" If you were a seminarian or a religious in formation that meant your days were numbered:

Here is an example of this kind of gestapo tactic of the leftist academics against a layman and brilliant New York Times reporter and those who signed it. Please note how they arrogantly call into question his intellectual qualifications to write on religion. This is clericalism to the hilt:

On Sunday, October 18, the Times published Ross Douthat’s piece “The Plot to Change Catholicism.” (You can read Ross's follow-up  HERE .) Aside from the fact that Mr. Douthat has no professional qualifications for writing on the subject, the problem with his article and other recent statements is his view of Catholicism as unapologetically subject to a politically partisan narrative that has very little to do with what Catholicism really is. Moreover, accusing other members of the Catholic church of heresy, sometimes subtly, sometimes openly, is serious business that can have serious consequences for those so accused. This is not what we expect of the New York Times.
October 26, 2015

John O’Malley, SJ (Georgetown University)
Massimo Faggioli (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Nicholas P. Cafardi (Duquesne University)
Gerard Mannion (Georgetown University)
Stephen Schloesser, SJ (Loyola University Chicago)
Katarina Schuth OSF (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Leslie Tentler (Catholic University of America, emerita)

John Slattery (University of Notre Dame)
Megan McCabe (Boston College)
Thomas M. Bolin (St. Norbert College)
Kevin Brown (Boston College)
Alan C. Mitchell (Georgetown University)
Elizabeth Antus (John Carroll University)
Kathleen Grimes (Villanova University)
Fran Rossi Szpylczyn
Christopher Bellitto (Kean University)
Katharine Mahon (University of Notre Dame)
Corey Harris (Alvernia University)
Kevin Ahern (Manhattan College)
John DeCostanza (Dominican University)
Daniel Cosacchi (Loyola University Chicago)
Amy Levad (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Christine McCarthy (Fordham University)
Sonja Anderson (Yale University)
Fr. Robert A. Busch (Diocese of Amarillo)
Brandon Peterson (University of Utah)
Heather Miller Rubens (Institute for Christian and Jewish Studies)
Daniel Dion (Rivier University)
Mark Miller (University of San Francisco)
William T. Ditewig (Santa Clara University)
Stuart Squires (Brescia University)
Gerald O’Collins, SJ (Gregorian University, emeritus)
Anthony J. Godzieba (Villanova University)
Terrence W. Tilley (Fordham University)
Michael J. Hollerich (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Gerald Schlabach (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Luca Badini Confalonieri (Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research)
Francis Schussler Fiorenza (Harvard Divinity School)
Rebecca A. Chabot (Iliff School of Theology)
Mark Massa, SJ (Boston College School of Theology and Ministry)
James T. Bretzke, SJ (Boston College School of Theology and Ministry)
Anne Clifford (Iowa State University)
Jack Downey (La Salle University)
Sherry Jordon (University of St. Thomas, Minnesota)
Julia Lamm (Georgetown University)

Then Fr. James Martin, SJ of America Magazine tries to manipulate things with his emotionalism and crocodile tears and how hateful everyone is today. The only thing he seems to forget or not mention that it is Pope Francis that has caused this polarization in the Church and the divisions that now are devolving into hatred. This is what happened after Vatican II and the progressives caused it just as they are causing it today. You can read Fr. Martin's crocodile-tears piece in America HERE.

Bill Donohue of the Catholic League also got into it HERE.

Many commentators on the just finished synod are actually saying it is a win for the orthodox and not for the heterodox. The heterodox can only lay claim to victory by the use of the hermenuetic of a cracked door for their position but that could easily be solved and shut. This is what Fr. Z writes with links:

"So the journalists covering the synod document as a setback for the innovators (and, because he elevated them, the pontiff) are mostly correct, given their ambitions going in. But so, in a certain way, are the journalists covering it as a kind of cracked-door to innovation, because the conservatives didn’t have the votes or the power to keep every ambiguity at bay. The most straightforward reading of the synod text supports the first interpretation, for the reasons that (among others) George Weigel and Robert Royal lay out: There is no abrogation of the ancient ban on communion for the remarried, and plenty of phrasings that indicate that ban is still in force. But at the same time, as Royal also notes, the text is not as plain as the document it quotes, John Paul II’s Familiaris Consortio, and it spends so much time talking about discernment and individual cases that it seems to sometimes come “right up to the edge” of communion for the remarried, as Royal puts it, without “crossing over into it in so many words.”

My final comment: One thing is for sure. We need to pray, not participate in the hatred and remain sober.  

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


I would like to contrast two statements about the same new archbishop of Bologna, Italy, appointed by Pope Francis today:

This is from Rorate Caeli which is very traditionalists and weary of Pope Francis in general:

New Archbishop of Bologna a friend of the Traditional Mass

Pope Francis named today as new Archbishop of Bologna Matteo Zuppi, up to now Auxiliary Bishop of Rome. He has been mentioned here in Rorate for his visits to Santissima Trinita dei Pellegrini, the Personal Parish of the Traditional Mass in Rome (run by the Fraternity of St. Peter) - for instance, in 2014 - and his discreet attempts to help the Franciscans of the Immaculate.

May God keep him faithful, and may he be a worthy successor of the faithful Cardinal Caffarra in the defense of Christian morality.

This is from CRUX about the same newly appointed Archbishop:

 Tuesday brought two more major steps in Italy for this “Pastoral Revolution,” as Francis tapped ideologically center-left clerics known for their social activism to head two of the country’s most important archdioceses in Bologna and Palermo...

From a political point of view, the transition in Bologna is especially striking.

There, Francis replaced Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, 77, a longtime champion of the Church’s conservative wing and a leading opponent of an opening for the divorced and remarried, with 60-year-old Matteo Maria Zuppi, well-known in the city of Rome as a fixture in the center-left Community of Sant’Egidio, known for its work in ecumenism, interfaith dialogue, and conflict resolution.

Zuppi sometimes has been dubbed the “Bergoglio of Italy,” a reference to the given name of Pope Francis.

For observers of Italian Catholic affairs, the move may be seen as tantamount to what happened in Chicago in September 2014, when Francis replaced the late Cardinal Francis George, who led the US bishops in their standoff with the Obama administration over contraception mandates, with the moderate Archbishop Blase Cupich.

Over the years, Zuppi has also been involved in some of Sant’Egidio’s best-known efforts at diplomatic troubleshooting, including playing a key role in negotiations that led to the end of a bloody civil war in Mozambique in 1992.

For his part in the peace talks, Zuppi was made an honorary citizen of Mozambique.

Zuppi also has organized a series of efforts in the city of Rome to provide care for the elderly, the poor, gypsies, and drug addicts, much of it centered in the Trastevere neighborhood where Sant’Egidio has its headquarters.

My Comment: In the name of God and all that is holy, is CRUX (John Allen) telling us that a traditionalist or at least an archbishop who is friendly towards those with EF sensibilities wouldn't provide care for the elderly, the poor, gypsies, and drug addicts??????


I think this Vatican Radio article tells us that chaos is reigning in the Vatican and because of Pope Francis. Someone has gotten to him or there would never have been such a public rebuke and warning to the curia by the Holy Father. And what is happening in the curia is now happening in the Church. Hopefully the Holy Father has gotten the message and will put an end to it:

(Vatican Radio)  Pope Francis says the regulations of the current Pastor Bonus Apostolic Constitution for the Roman Curia are still fully in force until the ongoing reform process is completed and put into effect. He stressed that this present period of transition does not mean there is at present a legal vacuum at the Curia. The Pope’s reminder came in a letter addressed to the Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin released on Tuesday (27th October).

Pope Francis began the letter by saying that whilst the reform process established by him was going ahead as scheduled, he needed to bring to light “some problems” that have emerged and which he intended "to resolve without delay."

Above all, he said, I wish to reaffirm that the present transitional period is not a time where there is a legal vacuum or “absence of laws” (vacatio legis) and therefore the current Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus regulating the Roman Curia "is still in force" and all its norms must be respected.

The Pope reiterated that the hiring or transferring of employees within the Curia and all other Vatican and Apostolic See organizations must be carried out without breaching the current limits on staffing levels. He also reminded that the hiring and transfer of employees requires the authorization of the Secretary of State and their pay must respect the current parameters for salaries within the Vatican.

He urged Cardinal Parolin to bring this matter to the attention of all the heads of the Dicasteries, offices and organizations of the Roman Curia and the Governorate, especially those issues that require greater attention, and ask them to be vigilant in ensuring the regulations of the Pastor Bonus Constitution are fully respected.   


(MY COMMENT FIRST: If you have traveled to Rome and other European cities, you know that you have to watch the gypsies as they will steal you blind and you would not even realize it. Tourists are warned to be on guard. Several years ago on a Roman bus I had about 100 Euro's stolen out of the front pocket of my jeans that I was wearing at the time on a bus crowded with gypsy men and I never even felt someone reach into my pocket to get it!!! I only realized it once they left the bus and I placed my hand into my pocket only to find it empty! In other words, the above Vatican photo of the pope with the gypsies is something an ordinary tourist should not attempt especially while wearing a ring!)

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis has called on Gypsies to “turn the page” and give life to a new chapter in the history of the traditionally nomadic people.

“Time has come, he said, to uproot secular prejudice, preconceived ideas and the reciprocal diffidence that are often at the base of discrimination, racism and xenophobia” he said.
“No one must feel isolated” the Pope continued, and “no one is entitled to trample on the dignity and the rights of others”.

Pope Francis was speaking to some 7000 Gypsies gathered in the Paul VI Hall in the Vatican for an audience marking the 50th anniversary of the Blessed Paul VI’s historic meeting with Roma people in a gypsy camp near Rome.

And highlighting the fact that every person has the right to a dignified life and a dignified job with access to education and health care, he told  those present that they have the responsibility of building bridges with the rest of society in the name of a “peaceful co-habitation” in which different cultures and traditions can safeguard their values with an attitude of openness, with dialogue and integration.
“We do not want to have to witness any more family tragedies in which children die from cold or are burnt in fires” he said.

Nor – he continued - do we want to see children who are used like objects by depraved persons, or young people and women implicated in the trafficking of drugs or people.

Pope Francis exhorted the Roma, Sinti and other itinerant peoples to become protagonists of fraternity and sharing in our cities in which there is so much individualism.

“You can do this if you are good Christians, avoiding all that is not worthy of this name: lies, frauds, swindles, altercations” he said.

And the Pope held up the example of the Blessed Zeffirino Giménez Malla as a model of life and religiosity.

And urging those present to avoid giving the media and public opinion occasions to speak badly of Gypsies, he told them to be protagonists of their present and of their future.

And speaking of future Pope Francis said “children are your most precious treasure” and he pointed out that education is at the base of the healthy development of the person.

It is known, he said, that an insufficient level of education of many young Gypsy people represents the main obstacle in entering the world of work.

“Your children have the right to go to school, do not stop them from doing so!” he said.

And noting that it is the responsibility of adults to make sure their children obtain an education that will enable them to become citizens who can fully participate in the social, political and economic life of the country, Pope Francis also asked civil institutions to guarantee adequate formation courses for young Gypsies, giving those families most in need the possibility of being integrated in educational and labour programmes.


Fr. Jonathan Morris has a very good show each Monday on Catholic Radio which is repeated Tuesday morning at 6:00 AM when I can listen to it driving from Augusta to Macon. Today's show was about the synod and the ambiguity of the bishops reflected in several key paragraphs which he quoted that seem to indicate that the Church might move in a more subjective way as it concerns morality rather than in the true way of objectivity.

Of course Fr. Morris made it clear that the document as it now stands has no authority in the Church but it does indicate that many bishops fall into the category of what the pew survey shows with this recent survey of which I have some comments below:

Most U.S. Catholics hope for change in church rule on divorce, Communion

Fewer Than Half of Catholics Say Homosexual Behavior, Remarriage Without Annulment, Cohabitation, Contraception Are SinsThe Vatican synod on the family concluded over the weekend – with somewhat inconclusive results that were open to multiple interpretations.

While there were many topics of conversation – including homosexuality, cohabitation and contraception – much of the focus fell on Catholics who have been divorced and remarried without an annulment, and the debate over whether the church would allow them to receive Communion. The synod’s final document, with each paragraph approved by at least two-thirds of the 265 voting bishops in attendance, did not take a clear stance on the issue, but some observers expect Pope Francis may leave it up to local parishes.

Most U.S. Catholics (62%) think the church should allow Catholics who have been divorced and remarried without an annulment to receive Communion, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. And only about a third of American Catholics (35%) say they personally think getting remarried after a divorce without an annulment is sinful, compared with half (49%) who say it is not a sin. Only 21% of Catholics say simply getting a divorce is sinful, while 61% say it is not.

These views may be informed by the fact that many Catholics have had these experiences. A quarter of American Catholic adults (25%) have been divorced themselves, and roughly a third (9% of all Catholic adults) are currently remarried. Among all U.S. Catholics who have ever been divorced, only about a quarter (26%) say they or their former spouse have sought an annulment from the Catholic Church.

MY COMMENTS:  One of the callers on Fr. Jonathan's show indicated that her mother in the early 1960's was told by her priests she could not divorce her husband. Both were Catholic and married in the Church in the early 1950's. It turns out that the husband was a psychopath, had threatened to kill the family and eventually was placed in an "insane asylum" as these where called back then.

She disregarded the pastoral advice given her by her priests, did divorce and eventually remarried outside the Church as she needed help in supporting and rearing her children and she could not live a single life--she was called to be actively engaged in marriage and all this means.

She was also told by her priests she could not get an annulment although deep down she knew her marriage was not what God expected (her first to the psychopathic husband). 

So many Catholics in the past were given very poor, rigid, doctrinaire pastoral advice that pushed them out the doors of the Church. Many today believe that priests still give this lousy advice which maybe it does still occur? 

But many Catholics simply don't live up to the Church's marriage and sexual teachings and feel they don't want to be hypocrites and thus they leave the Church and this means their children will not be brought up Catholic. We lose two generations of Catholics through shoddy pastoral advice by priests or pride and arrogance by lay Catholics.

The pew survey above I think reflects the mentality of many of my parishioners and it isn't because I haven't taught them correctly or they don't know the truth. They disagree with what the Church is teaching and want change.

It seems to me that we have two options. The first option seem to be the way Pope Benedict was leading the Church: never compromise on the truth although be pastoral and assist people to accept the truth. He was realistic in the sense that His Holiness knew this could well lead to a smaller but purer Church, not that this is ideal, but the reality of teaching the truth to an unbelieving generation who in their pride and arrogance depart when they don't get their way.

Or we can go the way that Pope Francis seems to be leading the Church, a larger more dragnet like Church that becomes very subjective about the truth and inconsistent and ambiguous about the truth.

This will lead to a larger Church but very impure (and you can take that word in all its different levels of meaning).

Which is best a smaller or purer Church or a larger impure Church? Either way God still judges us at our particular death and the Church institutionally at the Last Judgement. 

Monday, October 26, 2015


Some think it is Armageddon. There is wringing of hands, prayers for Pope Benedict to declare he was forced out and thus the current papacy is of the anti-variety. I think there is a group of Catholics who are simply hysterical and not in the funny way.

At any rate, Rorate Caeli has two different perspectives on the just completed synod. Cardinals Walter Kasper and George Pell. They have two completely different perspectives.

Ultimately the pope will decide. His is the only opinion that counts:

From Rorate Caeli:

Cardinal Kasper clearly considers the Final Relatio of the Synod favors his position in an exclusive interview to Il Giornale, translated only by Rorate. Cardinal Pell (see video below) does not. Whose view will Francis favor if the language is unclear?...
“Communion for the divorced if they repent; homosexual [unions] are not family”

Serena Sartini
October 26, 2015

At the closing of the Synod, where his progressive line prevailed, the high-ranked Prelate says: "We will do everything we can to save couples" The Pope will have the last word [on the matter]. Time is needed for the document
“I’m satisfied and happy with the work of the Synod. The final report (approved by a two-thirds majority) is a good text. Now it’s up to the Pope to make a decision. I hope he issues a document which highlights the joy of Christian marriage.” Cardinal Kasper, leader of the progressive front, draws up a balance of the Synod on the Family which has just concluded. In this interview to ‘IL GIORNALE’ he describes the atmosphere of the Synod’s work and the significance of an opening to the divorced and remarried being admitted to Holy Communion, something he strongly supports.
Your Eminence, your line prevailed at the Synod, that is, the possibility of the divorced and remarried being admitted to Communion on a ”case by case” valuation. How would you evaluate the Synod Fathers’ discussions on this theme?
“I’m satisfied; the door has been opened to the possibility of the divorced and remarried being granted Communion. There has been somewhat of an opening, but the consequences were not discussed. All of this is now in the Pope’s hands, who will decide what has to be done. The synod made suggestions. There has been an opening, but the question has still to be resolved in full and needs to be studied more.”
What is meant by it’s up to the presbyter to decide case by case?
“There has to be some conditions in order to receive the Sacrament of the Eucharist. In the meantime, an appraisal has to be made [to see] that everything possible has been done to save the first marriage; then that there has to be a path of repentance by the couple. And then a path of reflection and accompaniment [will] be necessary as divorce is a disaster and leaves traumatic experiences in it tracks. Time is needed to overcome the wounds of a separation.”
But doesn’t such an opening risk backing divorce?
“No, not at all. The doors aren’t opened for divorce. Parish priests have to do everything they can to reconcile the couple. Divorce is never a pleasant thing; it is a sad moment most of all for the children of the couple who are separating.”
There have been many disturbing elements: ‘the coming out’ of Monsignor Charamsa who declared his homosexuality, the 13 cardinals’ letter who contested the work methods of the Synod, the news diffused about the Pope having a benign brain tumor. Did all of this destabilize the work at the gathering?
“The Synod did not allow itself to be manipulated. We went ahead with our work along the lines of the fixed agenda, without allowing ourselves to be influenced or manipulated by external factors.”
However, a ‘no’ came from the Synod as regards homosexual unions…
“The theme of the Synod was the family, and homosexual unions are not family. We didn’t linger on the subject of homosexual unions but just on the reality of people with homosexual tendencies inside families. The Church has to help live these situations, and has to help in avoiding discriminations.”
What can we expect now from the Pope?
“I hope that the Holy Father issues a convincing text that highlights the joy of Christian marriage, this is the most important thing. The indissolubility of marriage is not in question, but there is [also]no opposition between mercy and the Truth of the Gospel.”
How long will we have to wait for Francis’ decision?
“Some time is necessary, it is not a document that can be done in one or two days. The final report of the Synod is a base for the Pope. I hope the text arrives during the Year of Mercy. It would be a very good sign.”
Translation: Contributor Francesca Romana

Cardinal Pell is interviewed by Catholic News Service:


Okay, call me dense! But just who is excluding the people in my headline from participating in the Mass or any other parish event such as dinners, faith formation, choirs, cantors, ushers, altar society, and the like?

In fact, I have preached that even though someone can't receive Holy Communion at Mass (let's say they broke the flimsy fast) they are obligated to attend Mass. Got that? Every Catholic is required by the Third Commandment, canon law, by conscience and by their pastors to attend Mass each Sunday and Holy Day of Obligation; every Catholic no matter if they are a murderer, mobster or other criminal! I think this is even true of the publicly excommunicated--they can't receive Holy Communion, but they should attend Mass unless there is a civil injunction against them attending (for example they are a threat of some kind).

We had our second "last Sunday of the month" Extraordinary Form High Mass on Sunday the 24th of October at our normally scheduled 12:10 PM Mass. At Holy Communion time as communicants knelt at the altar railing there were some who crossed their arms over their chest indicating that they wanted a blessing and not Holy Communion. I do not know the reason for this--perhaps they were married outside the Church? Maybe they committed a mortal sin(s) and had not been to confession? Maybe they broke the flimsy fast? I don't know, but they were not excluded from coming to Mass and even coming to the altar railing to receive a blessing instead of Holy Communion at an EF Mass no less! I was happy to over a blessing with the Host between my fingers, a Benediction in reality.

In fact, because of the use of lay Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion in the Ordinary Form the "Benediction" with the Host by the priest prior to giving Holy Communion on the tongue was suppressed. But how much more included and welcomed would that make a Catholic with a prohibition against receiving Holy Communion feel if they could receive a Benediction with the Host by the priest rather than a simple blessing? Thus the EF Mass can be more welcoming and inclusive of these kinds of Catholics than the Ordinary Form is!

In terms of Catholics who can't receive Holy Communion, none of them are excluded from participating in other church events, like dinners, faith formation and various committees to include also the Pastoral Council and the Finance Council. They can decorate the altar, be ushers, sing in the choir and be cantors from the choir loft.

The pope has wondered aloud if they should be allowed to be godparents for baptism and confirmation--I don't know; what do you think? Or be lectors at Mass. I know of many places where baptized non-Catholics are allowed to be readers at funerals and weddings. How kosher is that?

Finally, with divorced and remarried Catholics, what priests out there are not working with or encouraging these people not to make use of the  external forum, the annulment procedure to assist them in returning to Holy Communion?

And what priests are denying the sacraments to people in unrecognized marriages when they are on their death bed or entering a critical life and death situation? Just who? Give me names, addresses and phone numbers!

Sunday, October 25, 2015


I read somewhere that the Pope was defeated or only partially got what he wanted from this synod. Of course, this presumes that the synod is a political tool like a parliament that sets the standard for the pope. Of course, it does not, the Pope is free to do with what the synod approved or disapproved as he wishes. It is only consultative as are pastoral councils in parishes by the way!

However, in terms of the internal forum discussion, a commenter at Crux seems to nail it when she writes:

The document does no muddying, ... Again, please read the section on participation, I've separated it into section so that all points come through:

"86. The path of accompaniment and discernment orients these faithful to an awareness in conscience of their situation before God.

Conversation with the priest, in the internal forum, contributes to the formation of a correct judgment on what places an obstacle to the possibility of a fuller participation in the life of the Church and on the steps that can favor that participation and make it grow.

Given that there is no graduality in the law itself (Familiaris Consortio, 34), this discernment can never prescind from the demands of truth and of charity of the Gospel proposed by the Church.

So that this happens, the necessary conditions of humility, discretion, and love for the Church and its teaching, in a sincere search for the will of God and in the desire to reach a more perfect response to it, must be guaranteed."

Commenter: Anyone who reads this as allowance for communion based on "internal forum" without obedience to the church's law is lying. The internal forum referred to is counseling of the person in the confessional on what they need to do PER CHURCH TEACHING to regularize their situation. Don't know what people are smoking here who claim otherwise...

There's no endorsement for ANY of the German proposals. This internal forum statement still requires the person, with the help of a priest in confession, to judge his situation according to church teaching and to do what he needs to do to regularize his situation so that he can participate fully.

My comment: What this commenter at Crux seems to be writing is very much in line with what Pope Benedict XVI said to the Sacred Roman Rota 2007: 

"The Priest Is the Instrument of This Merciful Love of God"
VATICAN CITY, APRIL 4, 2007 (Zenit) - Here is a Vatican translation of Benedict XVI's March 16 address to participants in a course on the internal forum.

* * *


Clementine Hall
Friday, 16 March 2007

Your Eminence,
Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the priesthood,

I welcome you today and address my cordial greeting to each one of you, participants in the Course on the Internal Forum organized by the Apostolic Penitentiary.

In the first place I greet Cardinal James Francis Stafford, Major Penitentiary, who I thank for the kind words he addressed to me, Bishop Gianfranco Girotti, Regent of the Penitentiary, and all those present.

Today's meeting also offers me the opportunity to reflect together with you on the importance in our day of the Sacrament of Penance and to repeat the necessity for priests to prepare themselves to administer it with devotion and fidelity to the praise of God and for the sanctification of the Christian people, as they promise to their Bishop on the day of their priestly ordination.

In fact, it is one of the qualifying duties of the special ministry that they are called to exercise "in persona Christi". With the gestures and sacramental words the priest above all makes God's love visible, which was revealed fully in Christ.

In the administration of the Sacrament of Pardon and of Reconciliation, the priest -- as the Catechism of the Catholic Church recalls -- acts as "the sign and the instrument of God's merciful love for the sinner" (n. 1465). What takes place in this Sacrament, therefore, is especially a mystery of love, a work of the merciful love of the Lord.

"God is love" (I Jn 4:16): in this simple affirmation the Evangelist John has enclosed the revelation of the entire mystery of the Triune God. And in meeting with Nicodemus, Jesus, foretelling his passion and death on the Cross, affirms: "For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16).

We all need to draw from the inexhaustible fountain of divine love, which is totally manifested to us in the mystery of the Cross, in order to find authentic peace with God, with ourselves and with our neighbour. Only from this spiritual source is it possible to draw the indispensable interior energy to overcome the evil and sin in the ceaseless battle that marks our earthly pilgrimage toward the heavenly homeland.

The contemporary world continues to present contradictions so clearly outlined by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council (cf. Gaudium et Spes, nn. 4-10): we see a humanity that would like to be self-sufficient, where more than a few consider it almost possible to do without God in order to live well; and yet how many seem sadly condemned to face the dramatic situations of an empty existence, how much violence there still is on the earth, how much solitude weighs on the soul of the humanity of the communications era!

In a word, it seems that today there is even loss of the "sense of sin", but in compensation the "guilt complex" has increased.

Who can free the heart of humankind from this yoke of death if not the One who by dying overcame for ever the power of evil with the omnipotence of divine love?

As St Paul reminded the Christians of Ephesus: "God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ" (Eph 2:4).

The priest in the Sacrament of Confession is the instrument of this merciful love of God, whom he invokes in the formula of the absolution of sins: "God, the Father of mercies, through the death and Resurrection of his Son, has reconciled the world to himself and sent the Holy Spirit among us for the forgiveness of sins; through the ministry of the Church, may God grant you pardon and peace".

The New Testament speaks on every page of God's love and mercy, which are made visible in Christ. Jesus, in fact, who "receives sinners and eats with them" (Lk 15:2), and with authority affirms: "Man, your sins are forgiven you" (Lk 5:20), says: "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick do; I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance" (Lk 5:31-32).

The duty of the priest and the confessor is primarily this: to bring every person to experience the love of Christ, encountering him on the path of their own lives as Paul met him on the road to Damascus. We know the impassioned declaration of the Apostle to the Gentiles after that meeting which changed his life: "[he] loved me and gave himself for me" (Gal 2:20).

This is his personal experience on the way to Damascus: the Lord Jesus loved Paul and gave himself for him. And in Confession this is also our way, our way to Damascus, our experience: Jesus has loved me and has given himself for me.

May every person have this same spiritual experience and, as the Servant of God John Paul II said, rediscover "Christ as mysterium pietatis, the one in whom God shows us his compassionate heart and reconciles us fully with himself. It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance" (John Paul II, Novo Millennio Ineunte, n. 37).

The priest, minister of the Sacrament of Reconciliation, must always consider it his duty to make transpire, in words and in drawing near to the penitent, the merciful love of God. Like the father in the parable of the prodigal son, to welcome the penitent sinner, to help him rise again from sin, to encourage him to amend himself, never making pacts with evil but always taking up again the way of evangelical perfection. May this beautiful experience of the prodigal son, who finds the fullness of divine mercy in the father, be the experience of whoever confesses in the Sacrament of Reconciliation.

Dear brothers, all this means that the priest engaged in the ministry of the Sacrament of Penance is himself motivated by a constant tending to holiness. The Catechism of the Catholic Church aims high in this demand when it affirms: "The confessor... should have a proven knowledge of Christian behaviour, experience of human affairs, respect and sensitivity toward the one who has fallen; he must love the truth, be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church, and lead the penitent with patience toward healing and full maturity. He must pray and do penance for his penitent, entrusting him to the Lord's mercy" (n. 1466).

To be able to fulfil this important mission, always interiorly united to the Lord, the priest must be faithful to the Church's Magisterium concerning moral doctrine, aware that the law of good and evil is not determined by the situation, but by God.

I ask the Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, to sustain the ministry of priest confessors and to help every Christian community to understand ever more the value and importance of the Sacrament of Penance for the spiritual growth of every one of the faithful. To you present here and to the people dear to you, I impart my Blessing with affection.