Catholic Bishops Get Their Ass Kicked By Their Own Flock

Election results all across the country couldn’t have been worse for our boys in the fuschia beanies. All their bigotry, all their hate, all their efforts to manipulate the election in favor of the Republicans have come to nought. All their money was wasted on an indefensible campaign. And I think it is safe to say that the election results shows, that once again, they are on the wrong side of history.

These insulated, monolithic, callous, tone deaf and power-hungry crusty old men have been given the drubbing they so richly deserve. Now we must take the lead. Let’s redouble our effort to take back the church! Hurray for all the courageous Catholics who voted for justice, goodness and Gospel values.

A word to my brother clergy of whatever rank in the Church — you have an important teaching role in our faith community. We’re fine with that. We look to you for guidance. We hope you will continue to share your faith with us in as passionate a way as you see fit. However, your position in the Church does not give you license to shame, humiliate. denigrate or in any other way bully anyone else of conscience for their faith commitment. Let your teaching and leadership be by example, not by harassment.

You must know that you are dangerously close to being completely irrelevant for the vast majority of the people you have been ordained to serve. Let this election be a wake up call to you. Show us some humility and a modicum of humanness and we may once again embrace you as our leaders. But remember, you will have to earn our trust. Because as it stand now; you are morally bankrupt.

Maryland Catholic Priest Breaks With Church To Urge Marriage Equality

At Baltimore’s St. Vincent de Paul Church, Rev. Richard T. Lawrence read the archbishop’s statement urging a vote against the marriage bill referendum. He then told his parishioners why the archbishop was wrong.

A Maryland priest bucked the Vatican — and his own archbishop — Sunday by telling his parishioners that he sees a future in which the Roman Catholic Church could recognize “the total, exclusive and permanent union of gay and lesbian couples as part of the sacrament of matrimony.”

The Rev. Richard T. Lawrence drew a quick response from the local Catholic hierarchy. Baltimore Archbishop William E. Lori asked that a copy of Rev. Richard T. Lawrence’s homily that had been posted online at the church’s website be removed because it ran counter to Catholic Church teaching on the subject. Lawrence complied, Lawrence’s pastoral associate, Chris McCullough, told BuzzFeed on Thursday.

Lawrence acknowledged in his sermon that the sea change he predicted won’t happen in the near future, but in the meantime he told parishoners at Baltimore’s St. Vincent de Paul Church on Sunday that “even if we do not believe that gay marriage ever could or should be allowed in the church, we could live with a provision that allows civil marriage of gay and lesbian couples.”

Lawrence’s striking opposition to the Catholic Church’s strong teaching against the recognition of same-sex couples’ marriages, reported first in the National Catholic Reporter, was, in and of itself, unexpected in light of the dogmatic path set by Pope Benedict XVI.

What made Lawrence’s presentation of his view more remarkable was that it was preceded by his reading the letter written by Lori, who as archbishop oversees Lawrence, urging the congregation of the importance of opposing the referendum in Maryland on Nov. 6 over the marriage equality bill passed and signed into law earlier this year. Lori told all parishioners in the letter, read by Lawrence, that they faced “the momentous choice of whether to maintain marriage as the union of one man and one woman in Maryland, or to irrevocably dismantle our state’s legal recognition of the most basic unit of our society — the family unit of mother, father and child.”

Lawrence, after finishing the archbishop’s letter, then told the congregation of his views and asked them, “[C]ould not civil law be allowed to progress where church law cannot go, at least not yet? Personally, I believe that it can and that it should.”

He concluded: “So there you have it: the official teaching of the church and my personal reflections.”
According to the Catholic Reporter’s Arthur Jones, the parishioners gave Lawrence a standing ovation.

Lawrence’s move fits with his biography on the church’s website, which notes that he has been “active in social justice ministries all his life, starting with the Civil Rights movement in the [1960s] and the Peace movement in the [1970s], and is today one of the leaders in the Inclusive Housing movement.”

Moreover, on Thursday, Chris McCullough, the pastoral associate at St. Vincent de Paul Church told BuzzFeed that, although the homily had been taken down from the church’s website, the Catholic Reporter article provided “a very solid, essential synopsis of the homily.”

Of the archbishop’s response, McCullough said, “We knew there would be repercussions.” He added, “I think it’s gracious that there wasn’t further punitive action taken.”

McCullough said, despite the pushback from the archbishop, Lawrence gave the homily because he wanted parishioners to know “there are other opinions” and “to keep [those opinions] in dialogue.”

Complete Article HERE!

Minnesota nonprofit for farmers loses grant for ties to groups opposing marriage bill

By Zoe Ryan

A Minnesota nonprofit that assists beginner and rural farmers lost its grant funding from the U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference when the conference learned it was a member of two Minnesota groups that oppose Minnesota’s marriage amendment, an amendment the church supports.

The Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the bishops’ domestic anti-poverty program, did not cut funding because of something the Land Stewardship Project did, but “because they don’t like whom we associate with,” said Mark Schultz, the project’s associate director/policy and organizing director.

The organization, which helps sustain rural farms and has an office within the Winona, Minn., diocese, is an organizational member of two large nonprofits: Minnesota Council of Nonprofits and TakeAction Minnesota. Those two organizations, while their missions do not involve same-sex marriage, have taken stances against the marriage amendment.

On Nov. 6, Minnesotans will vote on a constitutional amendment that would define marriage as between one man and one woman.

“We have no position on that,” Schultz said. “We don’t do any work on that.”

Although Land Stewardship Project does not have a position on the marriage amendment and belongs to the two organizations for other reasons, it is because of these relationships CCHD revoked the project’s $48,000 grant this summer.

But Schultz, who is Catholic, thinks CCHD is wrong.

“We’re not in violation of the contract because it’s not the purpose or agenda of these groups to do something about marriage,” he said.

The Land Stewardship Project and CCHD have a long history together, Schultz said. He estimated the bishops’ agency has given them 15 or so grants in the past, and he appreciates the work the bishops’ agency does.

“This is really difficult for us,” he said.

Under CCHD grant guidelines, a group is ineligible if it “promotes or participates in activities that support principles contrary to Catholic Teaching or work against the USCCB’s priorities to defend the life and dignity of all human persons, to strengthen family life and the institution of marriage, and to nurture diversity.”

The Land Stewardship Project, which has offices in southern Minnesota, was founded in 1982 “to foster an ethic of stewardship for farmland, to promote sustainable agriculture and to develop sustainable communities.”

Schultz said the Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, which has 2,000 members, helps organizations be better nonprofits, and TakeAction Minnesota — which has 14,000 individual and 29 organizational dues-paying members — works on health care reform, which relates to the farm organization’s work because many of its members are “underinsured, uninsured, and paying huge amounts of money to insurance corporations.”

The Land Stewardship Project, when listing its affiliations on the application, evaluated if its memberships would be a violation of the CCHD contract, Schulz said, but decided they would not because none of the Land Stewardship Project’s work with the two organizations involved the marriage amendment and because the separation was so distant it would not be a problem. However, CCHD disagreed.

CCHD director Ralph McCloud told NCR the agency has given grants to the Land Stewardship Project multiple times since about 1989, and he noted the project’s “tremendous work over the years.” However, its affiliation with the two organizations made it ineligible for a grant this year, he said.

When the Winona diocese contacted the bishops’ conference this summer, CCHD looked into what constitutes a membership in the two organizations: “Is it dues paying, do you support the activities of the group, what activities do you work together on, do you enhance the group by your presence there — those kinds of things,” McCloud said.

McCloud said that as CCHD understood it, the Land Stewardship Project was a dues-paying member. The group gave the Land Stewardship Project time to cut ties with the two groups in order to keep the grant. The Land Stewardship Project deliberated but decided to keep its memberships.

Joel Hennessy, director of mission advancement for the Winona diocese, said the Land Stewardship Project does “wonderful work,” and the diocese “is sad that people have to suffer.” He said he is hopeful the relationship can one day continue.

Since at least 2007, the Land Stewardship Project has received $30,000 or more in grant money from CCHD, according to the group’s grant reports.

In recent years, CCHD has come under attack from groups that say the bishops’ agency funds programs that are inconsistent with Catholic teaching. A coalition group called Reform CCHD Now compiled information on possible violations with the Land Stewardship Project using CCHD’s guidelines and sent the findings to the Winona diocese, said Michael Hichborn of the American Life League, one of the organizations in the coalition.

Founded in 2009, Reform CCHD Now works “to shine the light on the problem of Catholic funds going to organizations that promote abortion, birth control, homosexuality and even Marxism,” according to its latest report on its website.

After renewing its grant guidelines in 2010, CCHD has been more vigilant, resulting in cut grants for some groups.

For the 2012-2013 funding year, 214 organizations received more than $9.1 million from grants, according to Catholic News Service. The CCHD church collection is typically the weekend before Thanksgiving, Nov. 17-18 this year.

McCloud said there have been discussions on whether CCHD needs stricter guidelines to eliminate confusion on eligibility. Part of the problem, he said, is the sudden appearance of marriage amendments on organizations’ agendas.

CCHD encourages collaboration to end poverty, McCloud said.

“That’s a virtue when you’re able to work across different types of lines and come together to work on an agenda that deals with persons who are in poverty. That’s important to us. But to work with organizations who are working against some of the things that we’re teaching, the tradition that we have — we just have no tolerance for that.”

Parish in shock as priest found dead in home

The town of Ballina has been rocked by the sudden death of a local priest in what is believed to be the first case in recent years of a Catholic cleric in Ireland taking his own life.
Residents in the Co Mayo town yesterday expressed shock at news of the death of Fr Muredach Tuffy, a popular curate and director of the Newman Institute — an educational centre known as Ballina’s “Catholic university”.

The body of the 39-year-old was discovered early yesterday in his apartment, attached to the institute at Cathedral Close.

Local sources said no foul play was involved.

Fellow priests in Ballina and the Diocese of Killala were too upset to comment when contacted by the Irish Examiner yesterday.

Fr Gerard O’Hora, the parish priest of Ballina and spokesman for the Bishop of Killala, Dr John Fleming, was also unavailable.

A native of Castleconnor, Co Sligo, where he was ordained in 1999, Fr Tuffy had worked as director of the Newman Institute since 2003 and has been instrumental in its development and growth into a centre for adult religious education.

He was also the diocesan director of pastoral renewal and diocesan vocations director, as well as lecturing in applied theology at the Newman Institute. He also acted as Bishop Fleming’s spokesman.

Fr Tuffy officiated at the wedding of a friend in his home town of Castleconnor last Saturday.

Local Fianna Fáil TD Dara Calleary, who attended school with Fr Tuffy at St Muredach’s College in Ballina, said Ballina was “shocked beyond belief”.

Enniskillen-based priest and well-known broadcaster Fr Brian D’Arcy spoke earlier this week about the pressures of being a priest in Ireland amid the fallout of various clerical sexual abuse scandals, as well as grappling with controversial Church teaching on issues such as clerical celibacy, contraception, and homosexuality.

The Association of Catholic Priests yesterday expressed disappointment and sadness at the response of the Hierarchy to their request for greater engagement with the group about the future of the Church.

The organisation claimed there was often a “palpable sense of dejection, depression and sometimes almost despair when clergy gather as a group”.

The Irish Episcopal Conference told the ACP that engagement would best be conducted at local level using established structures.

Complete Article HERE!

Grand Forks woman to demonstrate against bishop’s election message

Kate Kenna, a lifelong Catholic, career social worker and political progressive in Grand Forks, has mounted a reaction to news of a North Dakota bishop’s call to the faithful concerning voting.

A letter from Bishop David Kagan of Bismarck is to be read Sunday from all the Catholic pulpits in the state urging them to not support abortion, stem-cell research or same-sex marriage when voting.

Kenna bought a “City Briefs” ad in the Herald with a short message: “The bishop is bringing politics to church. Please wear a political button to Mass on Sunday to support the candidate of your choice.”

It began running Thursday online.

Kenna also called Joel Heitkamp at KFGO radio in Fargo, who talked about it Thursday on the air.

And Kenna has organized a sort of demonstration Sunday at her own parish, Holy Family. She and others, including her friend Thomasine Heitkamp, will be standing with others outside the church to show their disagreement with the bishop. The Heitkamps are siblings of Democratic Senate candidate Heidi Heitkamp.

Democrats upset

Kagan was appointed bishop in Bismarck in November and named apostolic administrator of the Fargo diocese this summer until a replacement bishop is announced.

It came to light the past week that Kagan sent a letter to all priests in the state to be read Sunday.

The bishop declined to release the letter pending its being read Sunday in churches. But he announced Thursday he will discuss the letter at 9 a.m. Tuesday on Real Presence Radio at 1370 AM in Grand Forks and 1280 AM in Fargo.

State Sen. Tim Mathern, D-Fargo, released the text of the letter and criticized it in a Forum Communications story Wednesday, saying it went over the line in directing Catholics how to vote.

Although Kagan’s letter does not mention parties or candidates by name, Mathern said it clearly was pointed at Democrats because of the party’s known support for the issues Kagan mentioned.

Plus, Mathern said the phrase used by Kagan telling Catholics not to vote for “the most likable” candidate appears to echo Republican ads referring to Heidi Heitkamp.

Friend of Heitkamps

Kenna said that’s how she sees it, too, especially as a longtime close friend of Thomasine and Heidi Heitkamp.

Catholics are taught to follow their own conscience, she said.

“I think I have a perfectly formed conscience,” said Kenna, who credits growing up going to St. Michael’s Elementary School and St. James High School in Grand Forks. That’s led her to devote her life to social work and to support the Democratic party because she sees it as caring for people.

“We can’t just look at being pro-life as just being pro-delivery,” Kenna said. “Being pro-life means all of life and that means people who are here, also.”

The church is a place where people of all political persuasions should feel welcome and be united in faith, not in politics, she said.

Church response

Christopher Dodson, executive director of the North Dakota Catholic Conference, a public policy and lobbying effort of the two dioceses in the state, agrees that partisan politics doesn’t belong in church. Nor does Bishop Kagan, who does not refer to any individuals or parties in his letter, Dodson said.

“There’s nothing new in the letter, it’s all Catholic teaching on how to form one’s conscience,” Dodson. His office has been sending similar messages to parishes in the state regularly since about Labor Day, he said.

The bishop’s reference to not voting for someone because they are “likable” reflects long-held Catholic teaching that the faithful should look at deeper issues than either pocketbook issues or a person’s personality, Dodson said. It’s not about Heitkamp or anyone in particular, he said.

“It’s not about influencing elections, it’s about the care of souls,” Dodson said. That’s why the bishop has been reluctant to discuss his letter before parishioners hear it themselves in church, not in a partisan debate on radio or television, Dodson said.

“People who are really involved in partisan politics get hyper-partisan around election time and everything they see gets interpreted through those partisan lenses,” he said. “I think parishioners will be pleasantly surprised when they finally hear the letter and see that it doesn’t deal with partisan politics.”

Faith and politics

Kenna long has taken her faith and her politics seriously.

In the fall of 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War, a woman regularly stood across the street from St. James High School, holding a sign protesting the war, Kenna remembers. “She wasn’t allowed to come on the school grounds.”

A junior, Kenna invited the woman to speak to her current events class.

“I got suspended for three days,” she said with a laugh.

Now she feels she must react to the message from the bishop that she might be voting the wrong way.

“I think the bishop of Bismarck has brought this to a new level where he is bringing politics into church and as a responsible voter I have to say that’s wrong, and how do I respond that?” she said.

“I could stand up and walk out of church (while the letter is read) but I think that would be disrespectful to our priest,” she said.

Instead, she and others plan to stand outside Holy Family during Masses on Sunday.

Although she will wear a Heitkamp button, it’s not about campaigning, she said, adding she hopes many wear buttons of all sorts.

“I don’t think it’s a protest; I think it’s just an awareness-building exercise,” she said. “I just want people to examine their consciences and then vote the way they feel is consistent with their beliefs. I don’t want to be told that in church.”

Complete Article HERE!