Father Bob Maguire slams Cardinal Pell

High-profile priest Father Bob Maguire says Australia’s Catholic leader, George Pell, is punishing him for being “open to all” by forcing him to retire from his parish.

The church has ordered Father Maguire to resign after 38 years as South Melbourne’s parish priest.

Father Maguire, 77, said Cardinal Pell considers his parish a “dog’s breakfast” and described his exit as a “dishonourable discharge”.

“George Pell has declared those of us Vatican II-ists to be Cafeteria Catholics whereas he and his lot are authentic Catholics,” Father Maguire said.

“Well, that’s what we’re being punished for, for being Cafeteria Catholics.

“That means that we’re a bit all over the place like a dog’s breakfast, we live in the real world, we’re open to all, we’re not exclusive, not easily offended, we’re sacrificial, we put ourselves at the service of all kinds of people whether they’re church-going or not.”

Father Maguire, widely known as the co-host of the radio show Sunday Night Safran, will finish at Saints Peter and Paul’s Church in South Melbourne on February 1 next year when the Capuchin Order will take control of the parish.

The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, said Father Maguire will be appointed Pastor Emeritus, saying the position offers him a “broader canvas” to work within the church.

But Father Maguire described the role as a “bullshit title” and said he will seek canon legal advice before considering an appeal to the Vatican.

Archbishop Hart said the parish needed a succession plan and that Father Maguire could still continue to work as a priest in Melbourne.

“We’re not preventing Bob from doing anything, we’re opening out to him possibilities and we are providing the Capuchins who will continue for an extended period … when we’re dead and gone the Capuchins will be there,” he said.

“I am deeply conscious of the day-to-day grinding demands which are there (for a parish priest) and I think that we can best use Bob and his wonderful abilities by providing him with a broader canvas, a bit of freedom, and a broader scope.”

Father Maguire said the move meant he was no longer an active officer within the church.

“Emeritus is the kind of thing where you’re given the flick, I’m taking it as a dishonourable discharge,” he said.

“They use (the title) in academia. It means you are no longer working as an academic, but you still have the title of academic.”

Complete Article HERE!

“Occupy the Church”: Austria’s Catholic Rebellion Gathers Strength


Two recent reports from Austria show clearly that the Catholic rebellion is gathering strength: survey research shows that two thirds of the country’s priests support calls for urgent reform, and that lay Catholics have announced plans to ignore Church rules that restrict the celebration of Mass to ordained priests. Instead, they will conduct worship and communion themselves where priests are not available. Meanwhile, in Australia, a separate story from Melbourne illustrates how on a much smaller scale, Catholics elsewhere are also willing to defy episcopal control.

Survey: Two Thirds of Austrian Priests Back Priests’ Reform Initiative.
When the Austrian Priests’ dramatic “Call to disobedience” hit the news back in June, there was some uncertainty over just how much support they had. We now have a reliable estimate by a reputable, professional research organization. GfK was commissioned by national broadcaster ORF to check how many priests support the group’s ideas. The answer is remarkable:

  • 68% of Austrian priests see “an urgent need for reform”;
  • in spite of the strong, provocative language of the call, 32% back it “unreservedly”;
  • only 28% oppose it.

Detailed figures show that many of those in support were in favour of debating the various points in detail. Around one in three of Austria’s priests are “radical reformers”, according to researchers while four in 10 could be considered as “moderate reformers”.
-Austrian Independent

It’s worth recalling, here, just how far-reaching the proposals are. They want to see women admitted to the priesthood, an end to compulsory celibacy for priests, and for priests to distribute communion to people who have been divorced and remarried. In themselves, these calls are not too extraordinary: many progressive Catholics around the world would agree with the aims. This initiative though, goes well beyond simply pleading for a change in the rules. It is explicitly framed as a “call to disobedience”, and instead urges that where there is a shortage of priests resulting from the continued refusal to ordain women and married men, priests should in effect embark on a work to rule, leaving lay people to fill the gap if necessary, by saying Mass for themselves. They also urge that in the absence of a change in the rules on communion, priests should simply disregard them.

Austrian Lay Catholics Prepare for DIY Mass
In a parallel move, lay Catholics who met over the weekend announced plans to do precisely as the priests’ initiative has urged: for lay people fill the gap in parishes where no priest is available. In support of the plan, they claim that they are placing God’s word in the Bible ahead of mere Church rules.

A manifesto adopted by dozens of activists at the weekend said lay people will preach, consecrate and distribute communion in priestless parishes, said Hans Peter Hurka, head of the group We Are Church.
“Church law bans this. The question is, can Church law overrule the Bible? We are of the opinion, based on findings from the Second Vatican Council, that this (ban) is not possible,” he said Monday.

Austria’s bishops are themselves meeting in a four day session this week. Responding to this will present them with a major challenge. Already, the church is losing members at an alarming rate – last year, over 87 000 Austrian Catholics formally left the Church, an increase of 63% over 2009. The proportion of Austrians who are Catholic is down to just 65%, compared with 89% in 1951. Research earlier this year showed that many of the remaining Catholics admit that they attend Mass only infrequently, and have little or no trust in the Church hiearachy.

  • 41 per cent of Austrians attending mass only on holidays like Easter and Christmas.
  • A further 35% never attend Mass.
  • 45% told researchers that their trust in the Church had been “shattered” by the sexual abuse revelations.
  • A further 27% had no trust in the Church to begin with.

Together with the decline in numbers, will go a decline in revenue. Churches in Austria are funded by the state, in proportion to their signed up members. In 2009, the Church got 395 million euros from the state. To compound further the loss of revenue, an increasing proportion of those funds are being used to pay compensation to the victims of abuse.

The overwhelming majority of Austrians support the priests’ initiative. Attempts by the bishops to stifle it will simply alienate still further an already disaffected Catholic population. Accommodating them, however, is beyond their power, as the rules in question are set by the Vatican, not by national bishops.

DIY Catholicism, elsewhere.
Austria is not unique in facing these conflicts: Dominicans in the Netherlands proposed priestless Mass back in 2007, but were warned by their order not to slide into schism. In country after country, the majority of Catholics do not agree with Vatican rules on sexuality, or on the rules for priestly ordination, or many other matters of church discipline. What sets the Austrians apart, is not the simple desire for reform, but the willingness by laypeople and priests to move ahead on implementing reforms without waiting for institutional approval. On a smaller scale, we have seen this kind of DIY Catholicism elsewhere as well – as in the example of the womenpriests’ movement, and in a handful of parishes which are already hosting their own Masses, independently of episcopal control.

The latest example could be that of a parish in South Melbourne, Australia.
Having been told he must retire, Father Bob McGuire calls for public support in helping him stay on as Parish Priest in South Melbourne, saying ‘we’re like Occupy the Church’.
Despite wanting to stay on and continue his work, Father Bob McGuire has been told by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart that his tenure as Parish Priest at Saint Peter and Paul’s Parish will end early next year.
The priest, named in July as Victorian of the Year, says he’s concerned that he won’t be able to continue his work with the local community.
“If it was me I wouldn’t give a rats, but it’s not me – it’s us, it’s the village and it’s the church in the village,” says Father Bob.
– ABC, Melbourne

I don’t know too much about the detail of Fr Bob and South Melbourne, but my impression is that there are strong similarities with the case of St Mary’s, Brisbane, and several parishes in the US, where bishops mistakenly thought they could simply silence troublesome priests in the accustomed way, by episcopal decree – and found instead that the congregations themselves chose to relocate to independent premises, with their preferred priest or with none, rather than submit meekly to the unwanted exercise of naked church power.

The Austrian rebellion is not going away any time soon – and may well expand further afield.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic rebels challenge Austrian bishops

Dissident Austrian Catholics announced lay people will start celebrating Mass when a priest is unavailable, a clear call to disobedience just as the country’s bishops hold their autumn conference.

A manifesto adopted by dozens of activists at the weekend said lay people will preach, consecrate and distribute communion in priestless parishes, said Hans Peter Hurka, head of the group We Are Church.

“Church law bans this. The question is, can Church law overrule the Bible? We are of the opinion, based on findings from the Second Vatican Council, that this (ban) is not possible,” he said Monday.

The Catholic Church only allows ordained priests to preside at Mass.

Hurka said dissidents had long planned the meeting but were happy it came just before a regular four-day session of the Catholic bishops’ conference starting Monday.

He said he wanted bishops, led by Vienna Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, to respond to the paper, the latest in a series of challenges by grass-roots Catholic reformers in Austria.

“We basically expect this because the demands for reform are not especially new,” he said. The bishops received a copy of the manifesto Saturday, he added.

Bishops planned to discuss proposed initiatives and reforms that have been put forward, according to their website, although the main topic of the session was preparing for parish council elections due in March.

Schoenborn, a former student and close associate of Pope Benedict, has ruled out sweeping changes demanded by dissident priests led by his former deputy, Rev. Helmut Schueller.

Tipped as a possible future pope, the cardinal has said he would not lead his diocese into breaking away from the Vatican by letting clergy flout Church rules after a group of priests issued a “Call to Disobedience” to try to press reform.

The group, which claims to represent about 10 percent of the Austrian clergy, has challenged Church teaching on taboo topics such as priestly celibacy and women’s ordination.

The dissident priests, who have broad public backing in opinion polls, also say they will break Church rules by giving communion to Protestants and remarried divorced Catholics.

Reformist Austrian Catholics have for decades challenged the conservative policies of Benedict and his predecessor John Paul, creating protest movements and advocating changes the Vatican refuses to make.

Catholic reform groups in Germany, Ireland and the United States have made similar demands.

A record 87,000 Austrians left the Church in 2010, many in reaction to sexual abuse scandals.

Complete Article HERE!

Controversial Catholic priest to speak on female ordination

In his 39 years as a Catholic priest, Father Roy Bourgeois has been used to speaking his conscience on issues of justice, most notably against repressive regimes in Latin America and the U.S. foreign policy that has supported them.

In recent years, the 72-year-old Bourgeois has turned his attention to the Catholic Church’s ban on women’s ordination, calling it a grave injustice and affront to God.

Bourgeois, who has been threatened by the Vatican with excommunication and now faces dismissal from his religious order for refusing to recant his views, will speak on sexism in the church this weekend in Milwaukee, at the annual gathering of the Catholic reform group Call to Action.

“This for me is rooted in justice. It is a matter of conscience,” said Bourgeois, who says he was persuaded by the many gifted and spiritual women he has met in his work as a peace activist.

“We profess that God created women and men of equal worth and dignity,” said Bourgeois, who likens the ban to the racism in the Deep South of his youth, where black Catholics sat in the last five pews of his church.

“As priests, we say we are called by God and only God. Who are we to say that our call is authentic, and God’s call of a woman is not?”

Bourgeois will speak, beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday, as part of Call to Action’s annual conference, which is expected to draw more than 1,000 theologically liberal Catholics from around the country. The conference began Friday at the Frontier Airlines Center and includes sessions on the clergy sex-abuse scandal, immigration, liturgy, gay and lesbian inclusion, the role of women in the church and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Bourgeois has spoken previously at Call to Action, but this is the first time he’s addressed women’s ordination.

A Vietnam veteran and Maryknoll Missionary, Bourgeois is best known as the oft-jailed founder of the School of the Americas Watch, a human rights group that advocates the closing of that training academy on the grounds of Fort Benning, Ga. Its annual prayer vigil outside the school – some of whose graduates have been linked to assassinations of Catholic priests, nuns and a bishop in Latin America – draws thousands.

Bourgeois began speaking in support of women’s ordination three years ago, and quickly drew the attention of the Vatican. The church’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith ordered him to recant his views in 2008 or risk excommunication after he delivered the homily at a woman’s ordination.

This year, he received a second “canonical warning” from the Maryknolls, saying he would be expelled from the order if he did not publicly recant. The move prompted more than 200 priests to sign an open letter supporting Bourgeois’ right to speak his conscience.

Catholic teaching holds that only men are called to the priesthood. Pope John Paul II reinforced that position in a 1994 apostolic letter, saying the church has no authority to ordain women.

Supporters of women’s ordination say women served as priests in the early church and that there is no theological basis for the ban.

The majority of U.S. Catholics say they would support women’s ordination – 62 percent, according to a new study by researchers at Georgetown University and The Catholic University of America.

The women’s ordination movement has about 100 priests around the world and is growing, according to Alice Iaquinta, who was ordained by the Roman Catholic Womenpriests in 2007. She celebrates services once a month at an old train depot in Wauwatosa, Wis.

Efforts to reach the Vatican and Maryknoll order on Thursday were not successful. A spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in an email reiterated John Paul II’s position, including his assertion that “the presence and the role of women in the life and mission of the Church, although not linked to the ministerial priesthood, remain absolutely necessary and irreplaceable.”

Complete Article HERE!