Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Hurray for Subsidiarity!

Doesn't it touch your heart to read about how many Catholic bishops are advocating the principle of subsidiarity in their opposition to a government coordinated healthcare plan?  Subsidiarity means:

"Just as it is wrong to withdraw from the individual and commit to the community at large what private enterprise and endeavor can accomplish, so it is likewise unjust and a gravely harmful disturbance of right order to turn over to a greater society of higher rank functions and services which can be performed by lesser bodies on a lower plane." -Pius XI, Quadragesimo Anno (1931)

Apparently the bishops believe that "private enterprise and endeavor" has provided adequate healthcare for all even though 50 million poor are without it here in the good old U.S. of A. which ranks 37th among nations in healthcare.  Are these bishops out-of-touch? 

More striking is their blindness to the lack of subsidiarity in their own back yard.  Do they truly believe that it is "unjust and a gravely harmful disturbance of right order to turn over to a greater society of higher rank functions and services which can be performed by lesser bodies on a lower plane", when it comes to their own governance, i.e. parish closings, openness and accountability, etc.?  Are they not controlled by the Vatican ("a greater society of higher rank") on all matters liturgical, secrecy and rules of administration?  Is a parish allowed to deviate from chancery mandates?

Subsidiarity is a truly Christian principle.  We call upon our good and well-meaning Catholic bishops to check out the beam in their own eye before trying to help with the healthcare speck in our country's.

ARCC is a co-sponsor of THE AMERICAN CATHOLIC COUNCIL (ACC)   Please consider joining this effort to bring about much-needed organizational restructuring in the Church

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Sunday, 30 August 2009

Announcing Cardinal Mahony, a bold new novel by Robert Blair Kaiser

An American bishop gets kidnapped outside his cabin in the High Sierras one snowy morning in November 2008 by three liberation theologians who look like terrorists. They take him off to southern Mexico in his own helicopter and put him on trial for his sins in front of an international television audience.  A jury of his peers, six retired Latin American bishops, find him guilty, and give him a surprising sentence. The bishop falls in love with his kidnappers and leads the American Catholic Church into a radical new way of being, still Catholic but aggressively account­able to the people, which is to say, aggressively American.
This work pushes the envelope. It is both “fiction” and “non-fic­tion,” set in the reality of the current priest-sex-abuse scandal

and projecting ahead in time to tell the story of a colorful crew--and a new Cardinal Mahony--working to give Catholics a voice, a vote, and citizenship in their Church. Utopian? Yes!  Why not dream?
Click on to read the exciting first chapter.

from Robert Blair Kaiser's website

Sunday, 23 August 2009

Bishop Philip Pargeter’s resignation accepted by Pope Benedict XVI

31 July 2009 from the Catholic Communications Network

Bishop Philip Pargeter’s resignation accepted by Pope Benedict XVI

Pope Benedict XVI has accepted the resignation of Bishop Philip Pargeter as Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham in accordance with canons 411 and 401§1.

The announcement was made in Rome at 12pm (11am UK time).

Bishop Pargeter was ordained Auxiliary Bishop of Birmingham, and titular Bishop of Valentiniana, by Archbishop Couve de Murville on 21 February 1990.


Canon Law references and links:

Can. 411 The prescripts of cann. 401 and 402, §2 on resignation from office apply to a coadjutor and auxiliary bishop.

Can. 401 §1. A diocesan bishop who has completed the seventy-fifth year of age is requested to present his resignation from office to the Supreme Pontiff, who will make provision after he has examined all the circumstances.

Pope Benedict XVI announces new Catholic Bishop of the Forces

25 July 2009

From the Catholic Communications Network

Pope Benedict XVI announces new Catholic Bishop of the Forces

Pope Benedict XVI has announced that Monsignor Richard Moth, currently Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Southwark, will be the next Catholic Bishop of the Forces.

Richard Moth served for five years as a Territorial Army chaplain attached to 217 General Hospital RAMC (V).

Bishop-elect Richard will be ordained bishop on Tuesday 29 September 2009.

The Administrator of the Bishopric of the Forces, Monsignor John Walsh said: “We are delighted at the news that Monsignor Richard is to become our next bishop. On behalf of clergy, servicemen and women and their families, I bid him welcome. We are looking forward to his leadership and to working with him in the years to come. He has our congratulations, our very best wishes and most of all, our prayers”.

Bishop Tom Burns, Bishop of Menevia who was the previous Bishop of the Forces said: “This is great news for the Bishopric. I wish Bishop-elect Richard every happiness as he takes on my former role. He is very experienced and his service as a Territorial Army chaplain will give him a good idea of what lies ahead. He has my best wishes and prayers”.

Notes to editors

The Bishopric of the Forces is a diocese without geographical boundaries, consisting of Service personnel and their dependants, served by over 40 full-time Catholic Chaplains and a number of TA and Officiating Chaplains. The Chaplains are drawn from dioceses in England and Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Gibraltar and from religious orders. They are seconded to the Bishopric during their military service.

Chaplains are currently serving in the UK including Northern Ireland, Germany, Cyprus as well as Afghanistan and Iraq. Chaplains are also serving at sea with the Royal Navy.

In addition to his responsibility for service chaplaincy, the Bishop-elect will also become Apostolic Visitor for the Prefecture of the Falkland Islands, which also includes St Helena, Tristan da Cunha, Ascension Island, and South Georgia.

Bishop-elect Richard Moth

Bishop-elect Moth was born on 8th July 1958 in Chingola, Zambia, the son of Charles and Barbara Moth. The family moved to England in 1960 and settled in Edenbridge, Kent. He was educated at St. Andrew’s Convent, Edenbridge and Holmewood House Prep School, Langton Green before going to The Judd School, Tonbridge. After leaving school in 1976, he began formation at St. John’s Seminary, Wonersh and was ordained for the Diocese of Southwark on 3rd June 1982.

His first appointment was as assistant priest, St. Bede’s, Clapham Park. While at the seminary, he had developed an interest in Canon Law and, in 1985, left St. Bede’s to study Canon Law at St. Paul University, Ottawa. Having completed the course there, he returned to the Diocese in 1987, and was appointed assistant priest at. St. Saviour and Ss. John the Baptist and Evangelist, Lewisham. While there he also worked at Archbishop’s House, Southwark, with the Marriage Tribunal. It was at this time that he served as a Territorial Army Chaplain with 217 General Hospital RAMC (V).

In 1992, Archbishop Michael Bowen appointed him as his Private Secretary. During the years that were to follow he served also as President of the Interdiocesan Tribunal of Second Instance of Southwark and Vocations Director. In 2001 he was appointed Vicar General and Chancellor of the Diocese.

He was appointed Ecclesiastical MC to the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem in 1993 and has been involved as Spiritual Director for the Order’s pilgrimages for some years. He has been a Benedictine Oblate for 30 years.

For relaxation, he enjoys horse riding and walking.


BARRY HUDD Tel: 07770 538693


The Retreat Society

Dear Friends,

UK members of We are Church might well be interested in the work of our The Retreat Society – Like you, we believe that much has to change if the Church is to be anything like what Our Lord intended it to be. But, while having enormous sympathy with the work you are doing and the courageous forays you mount against the Institutional Church, we believe that in one - all important - matter you efforts are misguided.

Our emphasis is, therefore, somewhat different – we want to use our heads to think rather than as battering rams. We really do believe that, as members of the Body of Christ, we are his Church, and it is, in our view, pointless appealing to the Institutional Church to change in our favour. The problem or rather the host of problems confronting sincere, thinking Christians today stem from the Institutional Church’s belief that its institutional structure represents the will of Christ and symbolises its catholicity.

We believe the time has come for this hoary view of Church to be abandoned. Some four hundred years ago, Ignatius of Loyola formed a Company of Jesus - an army, under the pope, ready and willing to fight for the 'Church' wherever sent. The early Jesuits embraced poverty but this poverty was, like their ideals, of its age - it did not entail that radical poverty of being, like Christ, an outsider.

Today, as we know, many thousands of men and women are, so far as the Institutional Church is concerned, outsiders. This should be seen, we believe, as an opportunity - not only to seek solidarity with the one who had 'nowhere to lay his head', but a huge creative opportunity to move forward, away from the concerns of institutionalised Christianity, into the modern arena where we – the followers of Christ – can, in the freedom of God, form intimate communities for spiritual work, inner and outer. Such communities can resonate with the understanding of contemporary men and women and meet them where they are most at need.

The Christian is someone who has moved beyond mere individuality into personhood and community! Institutions cater almost exclusively for individuals. Christ, on the other hand, is the supreme Person who calls us, his followers, to be one with him – something we, as mere individuals (objectified, countable entities), cannot achieve. The Church is a community of persons, or would-be persons. It is the leaven in the world, witnessing for Christ to the world’s potential transformation. In short, we believe, it is time that members of Christ’s Body stop paying tribute to an institution in hock to structures designed by Caesar and, as mature adults, get on with the job of being church. The Fathers teach that catholicity has nothing whatsoever to do with geography or numbers and that were the Church to be reduced to a single person it would still be fully catholic!

It, of course, goes without saying that truly catholic communities are, naturally and without ostentation, open communities in which the faithful, whatever their colour, gender, sexual orientation or social status, can play a full and active part. To continue defining one's life, and more especially one's spiritual life, in terms of opposing those who reject or fail to comprehend such a development is a waste of precious time and energy (grace) and means, furthermore, that we continually fall short of our vocation! We have, courageously and with trust, to follow Our Lord’s mandate and, shaking the dust from our feet (and minds), move on!

With good wishes and blessings,

John Hardy
Spiritual Director
The Retreat Society

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Petition: "For the full recognition of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council"

A group of theologians and Christians in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have launched a petition for the full recognition and implementation of the decrees of the Second Vatican Council. They have been spurred to action by the controversial annulment of the excommunication of bishops belonging to The Society of St Pius X.

In due course the list of signatures will be handed over to the Vatican, national Bishops' Conferences and official lay organisations. The press will be informed about the outcome.

We Are Church (UK) asks you to read and reflect upon this petition and support it with your signature (link at the end)

Czech, German, French, Italian and Portuguese translations are available on the petition website. We understand that Dutch and Spanish translations will be available soon

Please use the e-mail icon beside the title to send this Petition to your friends and colleagues. Many thanks to all supporters.

The Petition

The papal cancellation of the excommunication of bishops from The Society of St. Pius X signifies the reception into full communion with the See of Rome those who have consistently opposed the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Regarding the anti-Semitic remarks and the denial of the German national-socialist persecution of the Jews by Bishop Richard Williamson and his followers, we share the indignation of our Jewish sisters and brothers. Moreover, we state that the SSPX?s attitude towards Judaism does not correspond to the Council?s understanding of and commitment to Jewish-Christian dialogue. We support the recent statements of Bishops? Conferences, and others, all over the world, on this issue. We also welcome the recent statements made on these matters by Pope Benedict XVI and the Vatican?s Secretariate of State.

We believe that the close correlation between the excommunication?s cancellation and the 50th anniversary of the calling of a General Council of the Church by Blessed Pope John XXIII gives a clear indication of the direction which the present Papacy wishes to take. We sense a desire to return to a pre Vatican II Church with its fear of openness to the breath of the Holy Spirit, a positive appreciation of ?the signs of the times?, and the values of democratic institutions.

We are very concerned that this act of rehabilitation heralds a turn-around on important documents of Vatican II, for example, the decree on ecumenism ?Unitatis Redintegratio?, the declaration on non-Christian religions ?Nostra Aetate?, the declaration on religious liberty ?Dignitatis Humanae? and the Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, ?Gaudium et Spes?. Such an act will have a disastrous effect on the credibility of the Roman-Catholic Church. For Catholics who love their Church, the price is too high!

The Pope hopes this act will help unify the Church. However we think it is particularly outrageous that the Vatican?s renewed overtures to a schismatic traditionalist movement have been undertaken without the imposition of any conditions whatsoever. In June 2008, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of Levebvre?s excommunication, the SSPX rejected the invitation of the Holy See towards theological reconciliation. Likewise, the fraternity rejected the invitation to sign a five-topic declaration containing conditions for its re-integration in the Roman Church.

A return to full communion with the Catholic Church can only be made possible if the documents and teachings of the Second Vatican Council are fully accepted without any reservations, as requested by the motu proprio ?Summorum Pontificum? on the topic of the Tridentine rite. It is also imperative that the papal ministries of Blessed Pope John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, Pope John Paul I, Pope John Paul II, and Pope Benedict XVI are recognised and accepted.

The Church of Rome, perceived as the Barque of St Peter, lists heavily as long as the Vatican:

  • only rehabilitates the 'lost sheep' at the traditionalist edge of the Church, and makes no similar offer to other excommunicated or marginalised Catholics
  • persists in preventing progressive theologians from teaching
  • refuses dialogue with all movements in the Church

We Are Church UK 5 February 2009

(Based upon an original text by Prof. Dr. Norbert Scholl, Angelhofweg 24b, D-69259 Wilhelmsfeld published in Essen on 28 January 2009)

Please add your signature

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Never in my diocese!

Catholics committed to the Church envisaged in Vatican II will be pleased to hear the words of one UK Bishop on visitation today:

'I must speak to you. You have heard of these four men who have been released from excomunication. I find that the antisemitism they exhibit in denying the murder of Jews intolerable in the Church to which you and I belong. They have also refused to recant their refusal to accept the teaching of the 2nd Vatican Council and that it is a clear insult to the work that my predecessors did amongst you in their years as they engaged in reconciliation and healing, in the light of that same Council.
Those men will never be permitted to celebrate Mass in this diocese whilst I am Bishop.'

Monday, 26 January 2009

ARCC speaks for millions of Catholics

To Pope Benedict: Be Catholic!

The latest move by Pope Benedict XVI to reinstate four schismatic bishops of the St. Pius X Society-which rejects the liberalizing decrees of Vatican Council II (1962-65)-is shocking as it negatively highlights the millions of Catholics he apparently is not interested in reaching out to, including the millions deprived of the Eucharist because of the medieval law requiring that only celibate males can be priests.

Last spring the Pew Foundation found that there are currently 65 million American Catholics-and 30 million former American Catholics! These latter are not Vatican II rejectionists like the Traditionalists, but most likely are either Catholics who are deeply disappointed at the anti-Vatican II Restorationism of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, or never really learned about the Freedom Spirit of Vatican II in the parched years after the appointment of Cardinal Wotyla as Pope in late 1978.

We of the Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC, founded in 1980 in the wake of the Vatican repression of Catholic thinkers in 1979) welcome the reaching out to the few million Traditionalist Catholics.

We also cry out for a reaching out to the 30 million alienated former American Catholics! (How many more millions of former Catholics are there elsewhere in the world!?) We also look for a reaching out to the untold millions of the 65 million current American Catholics who are barely holding on to their church membership by their fingernails, threatening to swell the ranks of the 30 missing millions.

Personally, I also plead with my former colleague on the Catholic Theological Faculty of the University of Tübingen, Professor Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, to reach out not only to the right, but also to the left. Make our Church truly catholic, universal!

Professor Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L.

President, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church


Saturday, 3 January 2009

What Every Roman Catholic Should Know about Self-Excommunication

This comes from ARCC Spot Light

Ed, a We Are Church (UK) supporter and members of the discussion group, comments, "Based on what we were taught by a wonderful Jesuit priest during a school retreat, I firmly believe that laughter is the best weapon. Whether the writer was in any way serious, this is so funny that it should be included on the blog, perhaps with a comment that "Satire can sometimes strain too hard to make its point.""

Most Catholics are familiar with Excommunication. It is a penalty imposed by Church authorities for having done serious things like abortions, heresies, schisms, and other crimes. The purpose is to seek repentance and protect the faithful. In days gone by it could be deadly as now-canonized saints like St. Joan of Arc, learned the hard way.

The two general types are
a) AUTOMATIC - the kind that happens just by doing the deed,


b) IMPOSED - the kind that needs to be issued, publically or secretly, by some Church official.

New on the Excommunication scene is the concept of Self-Excommunication (SEx)whereby one excommunicates oneself. There are apparently two different types of SEx:

a) Self Excommunication in the External Forum (SEx-EF) which occurs when a Church official declares that you have excommunicated yourself (even without your knowledge) or after a certain time period (30 days),


b) Self Excommunication in the Internal Forum (SEx-IF) whereby one excommunicates oneself by doing or believing the same thing as those who have been self excommunicated in the External Forum (SEx-EF). This latter category, (SEx-IF), can be further divided into:

ACTIVE (SEx-IF-Active) which includes those Catholics who are still active in the Church but support such things as the ordination of women, birth control, same sex unions, stemcell research, in-vitro fertilization, Obama for President, shared control of Church property, and more recently, active support for child sex-abuse victims (others to be added later),


PASSIVE (SEx-IF-Passive) which includes those Catholics who have just passively left the Church and moved on. (The third largest group of Christians in the US).

The above is offered as an observed description of this phenomenon and is not in any way official. A preliminary search finds no official reference in Church Law nor in past documents that deal directly with this, a gap soon to be filled no doubt by the Catholic media. Practically speaking, there is not much defense against the SEx-EF except to repent quickly if possible.

Those who fall into the SEx-IF-Active category would be well advise to keep a low profile and avoid going public, until such time as the Spirit calls you to be a more prophetic Christian.

It is obvious to many that our Church is in serious trouble, and that such machinations are only attempts to avoid the inevitable need for reform through accountability, openness, and participation of all. Please pray that the loving Spirit of God who dwells amongst us will prevail and help our poor Church.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Disciples of the Divine Word

My name is Chris Gidden. I am a Christian with experiences of various Christian 'paths'.

In the 50's I was confirmed by Mervyn Stockwood, Bishop of Southwark, a truly courageous person whose inspiration has set me on a trail of unknown consequences. I have believed in a Comedian who has landed me in, and taken me out of many situations.

In the 80s, through a good Irish parish priest, with whom I had many interesting conversations, I was received into the Catholic Church and confirmed by Bp Roger Michael Mahony. At the turn of the century I joined the Iona Community, and recently also became a member of the Metropolitan Community Church.

I am a Christian, the longer I live, the more I see myself as a Christian, the more I speak to others about faith the more I am aware most just have a rule book and follow it without thought, contemplation or personal discernment. From conversations with Catholics I have learned that many PP's operate a 'myway' or 'noway' approach: "you align with my way of thinking or go somewhere else". Some PP's are totally obedient to the hierarchy - the organisation.

On a recent visit to my local church, a leading member of the English Catholic Hierarchy was on a pastoral visit. His attempt at a sermon with a local bent was utterly miserable to say the least. I compared it to the off the cuff reflection by the Anglican Bishop at my confirmation. This was crisp and to the point, relevant and knowledgeable. I concede that the comparison may not be magnanimous to either as both have their good and weak points. The point I make is that the Church is the people living their lives in their local circumstances, not grand and glorious buildings or institutional edifices. The latter are there to serve the People of God not to be their masters.

We are slowly realising the truth that the history of the church was written by men for men, and, as such, deals with 'the other' in passing. Women were and still are second class members, secondary to the running and decision making by dominant males. The purpose of women is to produce children and nurture them. Sometimes they may be allowed to help the men who are on the front line.

I am fortunate to have been able to live on both sides, not by choice but by the way I have been put together as a human being. I hope I can bring to the table of the understanding of both sides and show the errors of the line of thought the previous paragraph outlines.

I would add too that the Roman Catholic Church is not the only route up the mountain, nor for that matter is any other faith, division, sect or whatever. Oh dear! What is? We each have to discern for ourselves how we love God, ourselves and each other. If we do not get to the stage of love for each other as we love ourselves there is no hope for us. All of us are the disciples of God through whatever means we are given. Apostles and disciples were not merely a first century phenomenon but are those who hear the call of God and embark on God's task throughout time.

Does your sex or gender really determine what you can do for God? From the pages of the Gospels one can see that both women and men were valid in the eyes of Jesus, but the customs of the time limited the expression of that equality before God. It was a women who pointed out the mission of Jesus was to the Gentiles. The parables were certainly put in a way to be construed throughout time, through change of culture and circumstance.

In this country the pressing problem of a lack of ordained priesthood, both in Catholic and other denominations is the lack of suitable single men in sufficient quantity. The problem is getting worse over time. The ban on the use of artificial means of contraception is steadily being reinforced. One wonders whether this is to try to increase the pool of candidates for the Priesthood. That the clergy are bound to celibacy is also a limiting factor as they are not supposed to produce offspring. What a situation! What a doctrine!

I cannot accept a view that gives more rules and regulations than the succinct ones in the Gospel: Matt 22:34-40 and again in Lk 10:25-28. The judgement for each one of us is whether what we do is in agreement or not with these two statements and that judgement alone.

I am called as others to be a witness for my Lord,
- to try and bring a joining and working together for the Kingdom to come,
- to bring healing through justice and for peace to follow.
- to question diligently those who have an "I am right, I have the only right view".
- to challenge those who say only people like themselves can do this or that.

We are called to be disciples of the Divine Word. We may not have at this time what it takes "to be" but be sure we will get that which is needed. The present time is surely a good time to reflect on what we actually need, discarding that we do not need: discard with discretion though - it maybe someone else's need.

Just a few thoughts as we struggle on for the Kingdom in 2009

Heartfelt blessings to you all