Sunday, 29 April 2012

Daring to be Truly Catholic ...

Thank you to John Chuchman and Catholica
Today's refection from John Chuchman sits well with this Sunday's readings which we have been discussion on the Catholica Forum HERE. What defines "authentic Catholicism" today? How do we find what John labels as "personal authenticity" or what the editor has labeled as "personal integrity" in the forum discussion?
Daring to be Truly Catholic...
The Search for personal authenticity
We go through life
trying to be good.

But good is often
enemy of Best.

Being good is often
the enemy of
being the Best of who we can be.

Family and friends
are satisfied with our being good,
leading a decent life, going to church,
being kind, etc.
The temptation we face:
strive for no more;
be satisfied with that.

We all feel the pressure to
be and do what is considered socially/religiously

To deviate is to be considered/called
a social and/or religious outcast.
Remember what happened to the Prophets,
past and present!

Many Saints struggled with institutional church,
whose representatives feared
their authentic holiness.
We remember Catherine of Sienna, Hildegard of Bingen,
St. John of the Cross, Joan of Arc, even Jesus Himself
and so many others.

Saints are simply those
who surrendered to God's commands within,
rather than ecclesiastical pressures.
They were authentic,
Truly Catholic.

True Catholicism,
despite the institutionalized version,
calls us,
not so much to worship Jesus,
which He never suggested,
but to emulate him,
which he wanted of all of us.

True Catholicism,
despite dogma and creed, ritual and rite galore,
is not about admiring or adoring Saints,
but about being Saintly,
a way to live.

We all must search
to find our way,
to live in a way
destined by our Creator,
despite the hierarchical and social pressure,
not to rock the boat.

To be Truly Catholic
is to be truly authentic,
striving constantly
to be the persons
we were created to be.

We along with our church
have nothing to be gained
living in the middle ages.
The lives of the Saints simply show us
that the Wisdom we seek
is not in slavishly paying, praying, and obeying.

Know, however,
that tipping the bushel of simply being good
in order to be our Best,
exposes us to the elements
and that our tipped bushel
upsets those seated/enthroned atop it.

But, the call to True Catholicism
is our call to personal authenticity
and union with our Creator.

Love, John Chuchman
This reflection is also published on John Chuchman's blog.

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Holy Sacrifice - what does it mean?

In their latest newsletter invite us to reflect:

In a recent professional poll held in Ireland 77% of the people surveyed thought that women should be ordained. ( Also in the poll they surveyed people’s opinion about the new translation of the Mass that has been imposed upon the English speaking world. 1 in 2 Catholics who have heard the new wording prefer the previous version; with 33% finding the new Missal more difficult to understand and 43% are unfavourable towards the changes. One of the main stumbling blocks for many people is the emphasis that the new Mass places upon the notion of the “Sacrifice of the Mass”.

When I was a youngster the description I always heard for the Eucharist was “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass” This was boldly printed on the missal that I used and if ever I looked at a Mass card it always said “The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is being offered for.....” The whole notion that I grew up with was that “Man and Woman” had sinned against God’s goodness and because we had fallen short of perfection, no man or woman could make satisfaction to God. Only God become Man could make satisfaction, that is, make up to God for the sin of men and women. Only by shedding his blood upon the cross could the Son of God make up for people’s sin.

Now again it seems that the emphasis upon blood and sacrifice points to a cruel God who demands satisfaction through the death of his Son. God is presented as one who refuses to forgive human sin without full reparation being paid. The impression given is that it must be the Father’s will that Jesus should suffer and die and thus make satisfaction for our sins. How much better was the notion that we had of the Sacrifice of love and faithfulness. We believe in a God who so loved the world that he sent his own Son into the World. The obedience of Jesus was to bring a message of love and reveal a God who was “Father”

The mission of Jesus was to bring the light of God’s love to the world. He was faithful to this mission and that is what the Father wanted, that Jesus be faithful to his mission. The choice to be faithful was a free choice by Jesus. “The Father loves me because I am willing to give up my life” (John 10.17). We can therefore say that the Father did not want Jesus’ death in itself, but as a consequence of his faithfulness and because of the opposition of those who should have welcomed him. Jesus died because those in authority were not willing to listen or change and they held on their power and abused it.

We can therefore say that the “sacrifice” of Jesus was one of love and faithfulness. He died upon the cross and made the ultimate sacrifice because he loved the Father and he loved us. The Father did not desire and seek a bloody sacrifice to make reparation to his hurt pride. The Father as revealed by Jesus is the Father who willingly forgives and welcomes home the prodigal son.

More information

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Nun with a message

From California to Canada, Sister Geritola has entertained audiences, large and small for over 20 years. She has a unique form of comedy based loosely on her own experiences as a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur and her 30 years of teaching experience.

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Cardboard Cathedral

WELLINGTON, New Zealand — A cathedral made from cardboard.

The idea may sound flimsy, particularly given that cathedrals tend to be known for their solid presence: the flying buttresses, the soaring domes, the Gothic grandeur. But in the earthquake-devastated city of Christchurch, Anglican leaders believe it will deliver both a temporary solution and a statement about the city’s recovery.

Read about the proposed church

Ted comments:

'The construction of a cardboard cathedral (until a stone one can be built) not only speaks well for the ingenuity of New Zealanders, but also stands (for me) as a symbol on two levels.

1. It shows the determination of the NZ Christians to create a centre for worship that survives and resists the worst the world (actually as well as symbolically) can throw at it.

2. Then the symbol goes on to the determination of the people of the church - the People of God - to build a centre for worship despite the crumbling and collapse of the Church. "Tear down this temple and I will rebuild it in three days" should be posted over the front door.'

Adam and Eve

Here is a tiny bit more tripe talked by the Early Fathers about sexuality, just to add to the lot Fr. Fagan published in What Happened to Sin! Magda is an authoress friend of mine (and Fr.Fagan’s!)


Adam and Eve

The question of procreation of our first parents before their Fall, i.e. before they were in a state of sin, exercised the minds of the Church Fathers. This is what they thought [taken from “The History of Paradise” (Une Histoire du Paradis, Le Jardin des Délice”) by Jean Delumeau, translated by me, Magda, from the Polish].

St. John Chrysostom of Constantinople (4th century AD)

“Only after the banishment from Paradise did the question of sex arise. Adam and Eve lost their virginity once they became disobedient. Before that children were born through God’s creative act, as our first parents had the nature of angels.”

St. Augustine of Hippo (4th century AD)

[Look up “The City of God”, Book IX, chapter VI,10 for a better translation. I don’t have a copy].

“Let us not presume that surrounded by plentifulness and happiness the procreation of offspring could not have taken place without exciting seductive passion. It could have been undertaken in the calmness of spirit, retaining perfect purity of the body. Although we have no circumstantial proof or actual experience we should not be left in any doubt that those parts of the body were not excited by intensive passion but used in accordance with the need and by the power of its needs – that the male seed was able to penetrate the wife’s womb without violating her virginity, just as now issues the monthly purifying blood from a virgin’s womb with no violation of purity. Just in the same way what comes out can come in.

St. Bonaventure (13th century AD)

differentiates three stages of the sexual act, namely (1) the opening of the locked gate, (2) lust, which is payment for sin, (3) base (vile?) pleasure. The first is in accordance with nature, the second is punishment, the third licentious rot and decay, half way between punishment and sin. If a man were to know a woman in a state of virginity it would lead to the opening of the locked gate and not to lust coupled with punishment, nor to base delight. Then the force of procreation would not have been blemished or poisoned and the body parts which supply the movement would obey reason, just as in the case of the mouth, hands or the tongue. Just as the mouth or the hands open and shut without passion or shameful delight, so it would be with the genitals. Then talking about it would not be shameful. At present it is shameful to talk about what is against nature. The [sex] act brings a blush of shame because of the ugliness associated with it. The excitement of the genitals would have only taken place from the action of will and reason. Adam and Eve would have only copulated at precisely given times (statuto tempore) only for the purpose of reproduction”.

Friday, 20 April 2012

"What Happened to Sin" - Fr Sean Fagan

This is the chapter on sexuality in the book the Holy Office wanted bought up! I have had the whole book on my computer for some time, and now have permission to release this chapter to WAC with the info that What Happened to Sin is available from Amazon or Abe books!

Chapter 5


One of the reasons for confusion about the notion of sin today is our preoccupation with sexuality. The saddest commentary on the Church’s moral teaching is that when a person is described as immoral, most people think of sexual sin. The individual may be selfish, greedy, spiteful, cruel, jealous, unjust, brutal, violent, unscrupulous, arrogant, but such a person will not be thought immoral unless he or she is involved in sexual sin. Not only did traditional moral teaching seem to pay more attention to the sixth and ninth commandments than to the others, but also its understanding of sex was predominantly negative. There seemed little in the sexual sphere that was not sinful. Any positive treatment of the subject spiritualised it to the extent of almost losing contact with the world of reality. The bulk of the teaching was concerned with the danger of sex, and the textbooks were even hesitant about what was ‘permitted’ to engaged couples and married people. It is not sufficiently realised how much of this attitude is owed to non-Christian influences in the early centuries and failure to benefit from the insights and discoveries of the human sciences. Sin is as much a reality in the sexual area as in any other, but if we are to get a balanced understanding of it we need to look critically at the factors that influenced our tradition and see how we can make the Christian view of sex meaningful in today’s world.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Laying down the law

Extract from the The (Irish) Sunday Times of 15.04.2012 used with the permission of the author.

The Vatican is silencing Irish priests who voice liberal views on issues such as sexuality and ordaining women - but how long can Rome ignore calls for change, asks Justine McCarthy

Five months after he was silenced by Rome in March 2010, Fr Sean Fagan, a Dublin-based Marist priest, wrote to a friend. "At last I have got down to the practicalities of waiting for death," was how the former secretary general of his order began his letter.

Fagan wrote that, aged 82, blind in one eye, diabetic and having chronic ligament pain after being knocked down by a car in Dublin that year, he would like death "to come sooner rather than later". What most occupied the internationally published theologian was a fear that journalists would find out that he had been ordered never again to express an opinion in public.

"It has been made quite clear that, if news of the curia's disciplinary measures in my regard become known to the media, I will be blamed and immediately stripped of my priesthood. For the sake of my family and friends, I will keep my silence," he wrote. "For all practical purposes, I am officially dead.",

Nobody knows how many Irish priests are in purdahs imposed on the orders of the Holy See. There are at least three.

Fr Tony Flannery, a Galway Redemptorist, is in a monastery where, on the advice of Rome, he must "pray and reflect" on the liberal views he has articulated in his now-defunct monthly column in Reality magazine, and on his role as one of the founders of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP). Fr Gerard Moloney, the magazine's editor, has been instructed not to write on certain subjects.

Last week, other prominent priests, including Fr Peter McVerry, a Jesuit working with young homeless men, and Fr Gabriel Daly, an Augustinian theologian, publicly deplored the Vatican's gagging of Flannery. Daly wrote in Doctrine and Life magazine about an "ominous division" in the Roman Catholic church. "One party is now in control and is presenting its views as `the teaching of the church'," he wrote.

Some observers speculate that Rome has decided to make an example of Ireland in its attempt to turn the tide of what Pope Benedict XVI calls relativism in North America and Europe.

In broad terms, what unites the rebels against the ruling traditionalists is that the former believe the progressive spirit of the Second Vatican Council has been abandoned, copperfastened by Humanae Vitae, a papal encyclical banning the use of manufactured contraceptives.

A new translation of the missal, imposed universally last year, is regarded by the dissenters as inaccessible and sexist and representing a further retrenchment by Benedict's Vatican.

In this respect, Austria and Ireland have made international headlines in recent weeks. In the Vatican on Holy Thursday, Benedict warned that clerical disobedience would not be tolerated. His message wasinterpreted as a direct response to a group of Austrian priests calling themselves Preachers' Initiative, who have challenged the church's teaching on such issues as contraception, celibacy and women's ordination. The 370-strong group has described the Vatican as an "absolutist monarchy".

Last month, the Vatican reprimanded what it regards as Ireland's rebel priests. A summary report of the apostolic visitation to Ireland announced in March 2010 (the month Fagan was silenced), prompted by the fallout from the Cloyne report on the mishandling of child sexual-abuse complaints, warned that dissent from fundamental teaching was unacceptable.

The report said the Vatican-appointed visitors had "encountered a certain tendency, not dominant but nevertheless fairly widespread among priests, religious and laity, to hold theological opinions at variance with the teachings of the magisterium". It urged for seminarians to be isolated from lay university students to strengthen their "identity".

Asked if he thought the Pope was worried about Ireland, Fr Vincent Twomey, once a student of the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, and author of The End of Irish Catholicism?, said: "Reading his letter to Irish Catholics, you can see how concerned he is. You can see how much attention he's given to Ireland: calling the bishops over; appointing several apostolic visitations. I think that must be unique.

"I think talk of a schism is overstatement, but I do think there is an alarming parochialism going under the guise of a nation church. With regard to the [new] liturgy, there is an attitude that we should do it our own way."

Jon O'Brien, the president of Catholics For Choice, a Washington-based lay lobby, said: "In recent days, there's been some-thing different about what's been happening in Ireland and Austria. I think there's a worry within the Vatican that the cumulative effect of the sex-abuse crisis is that rank-and-file members, who may include priests and nuns, are disillusioned with the way the church is being managed.

"Ireland was once the jewel in the crown that sent so many missionaries around the world and put up the great struggle in penal times. It has a special place in Catholicism globally."

If Rome hopes the eruptions of dissent are flash-fires that can be extinguished easily, it may need to think again. In Dublin last Thursday, the leaders of the ACP — minus Flannery — released the results of an opinion poll which backed an a la carte Catholicism: one in two respondents preferred the old missal; three in five disagreed with the church on homosexuality; three in four said the teachings on sexuality were irrelevant to them.

Of priest respondents, 24% said their voices were not being heard in the Vatican.

What will perturb Rome is that the ACP, which has 815 members (about one-fifth of all priests in Ireland), is sharing its research with like-minded priests in America, Australia, Hong Kong, the Philip-pines, the UK, Italy and Austria. Fr Helmut Schuller, the parish priest in Lower Austria who leads the Preachers' Initiative and who has predicted "2012 will be the year of internationalisation", attended the ACP's annual meeting in Ireland last year.

Flannery's fellow ACP leaders are inviting all the country's bishops (half-a-dozen vacancies remain unfilled by Rome), superiors of religious orders and Arch-bishop Charles Brown, the new papal nuncio, to a mass assembly at the Regency Hotel in Dublin on May 7. They deny leading a breakaway from the church.

"We love the church," said Fr Brendan Hoban, a parish priest in Ballina, Co Mayo. "We want to be in the church but, like a family, you don't put somebody outside the door for mentioning there's an elephant in the room."

Twomey said that some priests' defiance in administering the eucharist to divorced Catholics in second relationships "is a huge problem" and that this is where the bishops should be exercising control.

Asked what he thought of Flannery's censure, Twomey said it was "very regrettable that a priest has to be disciplined in this way. There's been a lot of criticism of the Vatican in the media but it's within the right of the church to discipline those it considers are spreading ideas not in harmony with its teaching".

Similar methods were used to silence Fagan and Flannery. Action was taken against them at the behest of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), led by Cardinal William Levada, a former archbishop of San Francisco. The heads of both their orders were summoned to the Vatican and told to discipline them. Neither Fagan nor Flannery were told what complaint had been made against them, nor who had made it.

"Somebody obviously reported [Flannery]," said Fr Sean McDonagh, a Columban sociologist and missionary. "Not everybody goes to bed reading Reality every night."

PJ Madden, his fellow ACP leader, said: "One of our biggest concerns is the way unidentified sources make their way into the Vatican with complaints that are acted upon, and no information is given about who reported it. There's a rump of people who think they are more Catholic than the rest of us."

Declining to answer questions about the disciplining of Irish priests, Monsignor Ciro Benedettini, deputy director of the Holy See press office, said: "I have no comment. Diocesan priests and members of religious institutes are accountable to their superiors and the Holy See press office does not intend to interfere."

Flannery and Fagan have collaborated in the past, most recently on a collection of essays responding to the Ryan report on child abuse in church-run residential institutions. After his silencing, Fagan declined an invitation to contribute to a book on moral theology, edited by Vincent Mac-Namara, a priest of the Society of St Patrick, and Enda McDonagh, a former professor of moral theology at Maynooth seminary.

In their introduction to An Irish Reader in Moral Theology, McDonagh and MacNamara wrote that "due to circumstances outside our control, it was not possible to include any contribution from Sean Fagan SM, one of the most notable and readable moral theologians writing in this field. The result was an injustice perpetrated against the readers since it left them deprived of some of the most pastorally helpful writing".

Charles Curran is considered a leading dissenting Catholic theologian. A professor at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, he was blacklisted as a teacher in 1986 when the CDF was led by Ratzinger.

"I believe we're moving towards a remnant church," said the 78-year-old. "The [Vatican's] attitude is: the world is opposed to us, we have to defendourselves, and we will be a small remnant fighting the world. Let's be realistic: nobody wants to start a new organisation today. People either drift away or go to other churches.

"These people who are under the gun now are of a certain age. Younger priests are much more conservative and unlikely to voice dissent."

While the theological power struggle goes on, priests like Fagan and Flannery may be afraid to voice their opinions as they fear for the future of the Catholic church itself.

In his 2010 letter, Fagan wrote: "The Vatican itself is the biggest obstacle to Catholic faith, forcing thousands to leave the church. A good part of my ministry for years has been helping them to stay, even if only by the skin of their teeth."

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Yes, we have young Easter People, Deo gratias!

George brings us a friend's story and says, "This is a slightly edited story in order to protect those at its origin.  It could have and should happen in many places. I find it especially gratifying that it was a woman, a young woman who is the person that made it possible. We can be proud of her, and her parents and everyone else in her life who helped to form her character."

A story I'd like to share is about my 17-year old daughter: After a recent bishops' letter condemning gay marriage, she said to me and my wife that she wanted to do something to respond. Without much help from us, she drafted some words that she was going to say at the end of Mass to the congregation. My advice was to keep it short and sweet because she'd probably get cut off. She did keep it short, but she didn't get cut off.

She said how hurt many of the mothers, aunts and grandmothers must have felt at hearing that letter the previous week. She told the congregation being gay was not wrong and that we should all think carefully about a special Easter prayer we have been using in the parish, something about being tolerant and thinking of others. It came straight from the heart and direct family experience.

I was unable to be present and so missed what happened next. She received rapturous applause and whooping from the back of the church, plus numerous congratulations afterwards on her courage. One woman said 'she only said what the rest of us were thinking'. One parishioner gave her a dressing down, but she gave back as good as she got. There were probably 200 people in the church.

Of course the following week the Parish Priest had woken up to what had happened and apologized to the congregation for letting it happen (she had asked his permission to say a few words, but didn't tell him what they were!) There was a 'hear hear' from the reactionaries down at the front. Apparently, a delegation had gone to complain to the priest about her..

This week, one of the women in the choir gave my wife a Mass card she had had made for her late gay son and his partner. She said 'It isn't wrong, is it?' Maybe hearing those words from a teenager had given her inspiration and comfort that she didn't have to grieve in secret. We feel so proud of her that she stood up for what she believed in, and also that she has had the courage to go to Mass since with head held high. She even went to wish the Parish Priest a happy Easter. I believe a seed may have been planted.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Reflection on "What receiving Christ anew means for our era"

Thank you to Sue for offering this after hearing Matthew Fox's talk over the Easter weekend.

“What receiving Christ anew means for our era”
 – How would you or I answer this,
suggest more praying?
 Stricter regulations?
Bring in a new-old-fashioned liturgy?
Or humbly seek out the Holy Spirit’s perspective on today’s world?

And what or Who is exactly meant by Christ?
This is not the historical Jesus – and yet He is also the Christ. I have to say the idea of the cosmic Christ is not one that I find at all easy to think or write about, probably because, as Matthew Fox said, the cosmic Christ cannot be dissected, itemised or defined by left-brain activity but only sensed, experienced. Putting the ineffable into words is where the trouble starts! Richard Rohr is another writer-teacher who speaks often about the cosmic Christ – and for me this is still new – and still a mystery.

“What receiving Christ anew means for our era” was, however, the title of Matthew Fox’s talk at the Christ Consciousness Conference held at the Findhorn Community over the Easter weekend and from the outset we were in lively waters. Our present era is one of a deeply suffering planet, we are in an emergency situation which cannot be ignored and for which society needs compassion, justice and healing, all qualities our various institutions are unable to provide. We need to rediscover the spiritual energy which alone is capable of awakening our species. Matthew Fox quoted Julian of Norwich “between God and man there is no ‘between’ ” to emphasise the radical unity between God and humanity. And if we “want the kernel, we have to break the shell” (Meister Eckhart) - suffering is inevitable and even the cosmic Christ carries wounds. The answers won’t be cost-free, but there are new, creative and more community-oriented ways to live, different choices to be made, a new economic system to emerge.

The kind of spirituality necessary is contemplative in nature, a listening attentive awareness - Matthew observed that after returning to earth, many astronauts became mystics, “which cost $42 million each.” Then shaking his head rather ruefully, he quietly added “There must be a cheaper way.” Gentle laughter – we more than got the point. Contemplation such as that, immersed in darkness, silence and beauty would change our entire attitude to our universe and humanity’s place in it. We are an absolutely integral part of this universe, not beings apart from it, in fact Matthew repeated what Leonardo Boff also describes, that as everything that exists has developed over eons from the Big Bang, then truly we are all “walking stardust.” If that doesn’t pull us up short in awe at our connectedness with the entirety of the universe, then we are indeed already dead! It is the cosmic Christ, says Matthew, that is the pattern that connects, God within everything, holding it in being by His love. Surely this is straight down the middle catholic theology?

To illustrate the seriousness of our situation, he didn’t blind us with a mountain of statistics but gave a few striking examples: Western society freely chooses to spend $39,000 per second on weaponry (go and sit with that quietly for some minutes, he suggested, just allow it to sink in): there is a UN study estimating that in 40 years’ time, if we continue as we are, there will be no more fish in the ocean. But the observation that brought me up short was “We are the first species in 4 ½ million years that can choose not to go extinct” – and he slowly and quietly added “ - and we have not yet chosen.”

This was no sugar-coated message but profoundly challenging. Clearly he cares passionately about the ecological issues we are familiar with, what humanity is doing to the planet and to each other, particularly the young people for whom his love, deep respect and great empathy shone through. What a gifted teacher he must be – and what a tragedy that the hierarchy chose to banish him and his rich and God-given gifts. Young laity are the particular losers. However, his books are readable and readily available so I can only recommend folk to get stuck in and be stirred up and inspired to new creativity in the reading, just as hearing him speak inspired my friend to revisit her long-abandoned poetry.

My impression of him was of a man great gentleness and true strength, qualities which the fires of adversity frequently forge in anyone truly following the Gospel. I felt his touches of humour were signs of a man very much alive and rejoicing in the present moment. Yes, comparisons are odious, but I couldn’t help but think how the priesthood produces too few men of such balance and vitality with a clearly profound spiritual journey of their own. It’s only when this journey is truly ongoing that one can inspire others – I felt Matthew Fox is pointing the way to life, to discovering Christ within, in those myriad of places we don’t expect. I reflect: sadly, our poverty-stricken institution prefers to instruct folk to follow various deadening regulations that indicate only an outward observance which serves to cover a profound and empty chasm.

Monday, 9 April 2012

The new cosmology and liberation

by Leonardo Boff, Theologian, Earthcharter Commission

Some time ago, the U.S. Museum of Natural History conducted a survey among biologists, asking if they believed that we are in the middle of a mass extinction. 70% replied that yes, we are. The renown cosmologist Brian Swimme, who, with Thomas Berry, authored one of the most brilliant narratives on the history of the universe, The Universe Story, 1992, was asked what could we do, and he replied: «for some time now the universe has been doing its part to stop the disaster; but we must do our part. And we will do it through the awakening of a new cosmological consciousness, that is, if we adjust our behavior to the logic of the universe. But we are not yet doing enough.»

What does this reply mean? It points towards a new consciousness that assumes collective responsibility for the protection of our common house and caring for our civilization. To adjust our behavior to the logic of the universe means to answer the calls that arise from what is called the «cosmogenic principle». It is this principle that structures the expansion and generation of the universe, with all its inert and living beings. It manifests itself through three characteristics: difference/complexity, subjectivity/internalizing, and interdependency/communion.

In simpler terms: the more the universe expands, the more complex it becomes; when it becomes more complex, it acquires more internalizing and subjectivity, (each being has its own way of relating and of making its history). And the more internalizing and subjectivity the universe acquires, the more all beings enter into communion with each other, and reinforce their interdependency in the context of their belonging to a great Whole. Berry and Swimme comment: «if there had been no complexity (differentiation), the universe would have perished as a homogenous mass; if there had been no subjectivity, the universe would have become an inert and dead expanse; if there had been no communion, the universe would have been transformed into a number of isolated events.»

We, the liberation theologians, over 40 years of reflection, have tried to explore the economic, social, anthropologic and spiritual dimensions of liberation, as an answer to specific forms of oppression. In the context of the generalized ecologic crisis we are seeking to incorporate this cosmologic vision. This has forced us to break away from the conventional paradigm in which we organized our thinking, which is still linked to a mechanical and static cosmology. The new cosmology sees the universe differently, as an incommensurable process of evolution/expansion/creation that involves all that happens within it, including consciousness and society.

In cosmologic principle terminology, personal liberation means to free oneself from limitations, so as to experience a communion with all beings and with the universe, a phenomenon the Buddhists call «illumination» (satori), and the experience of no-duality that Saint Francis lived, in the sense of an open brotherhood and sisterhood with all beings. In social terms, liberation in light of the cosmogenic principle is the creation of a society without oppression, where diversities are valued and expanded (diversities of gender, cultures and spiritual ways). This means leaving behind the culture of the official thinking of the only approved politics, economy, and theology. This is the principal means of oppression and homogenization.

Liberation also requires a deepening of internalization. Internalization is no longer satisfied by the mere consumption of material goods; it asks for values linked to creativity, to the arts, meditation and the communion with Mother Earth and the universe. Liberation results from the forces of the «relational matrix», especially with those who suffer injustices and are excluded. This matrix makes us feel like members of the community of life, and sons and daughters of Mother Earth, who through us feels, loves, cares and is concerned for the common future.

Finally, liberation in a cosmologic perspective demands a new awareness of universal interdependency and responsibility. We are called upon to reinvent our species, as we have done in the past, during the different crises humanity has experienced. It is urgent now because we do not have much time and we must face up to challenges of the present crisis of the Earth.

Leonardo Boff

6th April 2012

Free translation from the Spanish sent by

Melina Alfaro,,


Sunday, 8 April 2012

Bishop William Morris

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Easter Poem

Christ’s cries, across the centuries, sent
to wring repentance out of hearts of flint
curtain rending;
blackness sending;
cries of love. Father, forgive them.
Man-and-God, Christ, facing death, cried out
as blood, hot from His still beating heart
dripped down the rough cross
to echo across
ages. My God, my God, why?
Prophecies whispered throughout the World
that the faithful might believe in their God -
and all gods are One -
here crowned in His Son,
who proscribed false prophets. For they know not.
Whiplash words, to crack across deaf ears,
earthquake sounds silence the shattering jeers
of worldly-wise wits,
who pray without prayer. Have you forsaken me?

Hell-harrowing cries from the hilltop hail,
so the scourged wielder of the cleansing flail
to the true Heaven led
His ever-hopeful dead.
And you, this day, shall be with me.
Suffer little children, lest children suffer.
When they starve, what bread will you offer?
Do to them, do to me,
only blind men will see
that they know not what they do.
Father forgive them, though they forsake me,
for my sake, forgive them and make me
the only sacrifice;
let my death suffice
although, and because, it is done.

Ted Millichap
8 April 2012


Dear Joe,

Some years back when you were still the head of the Holy Office (“of the Sacred Inquisition” is, as you know, stilled chiseled in stone over its dark building immediately next to St. Peter’s square), I wrote you an open letter concerning the role of women in the Catholic Church. At that time I addressed you with a familiar “Dear Joe,” relying on our relationship from the late 60s/early 70s when I was frequently a Visiting Professor at the Catholic Theology Faculty of the University of Tübingen, and you were Professor Ordinarius there. I did so in the thought that this form of address would tell you that I seriously hoped you might open your mind and heart to hear what I wanted to say to you. I have no way of knowing what success I may have had, if any, in that regard. However, relying on our former “collegiality,” I am approaching you once again in this fraternal fashion.

I am disturbed that especially of late you have been giving signals that are in opposition to the words and spirit of Vatican Council II, during which you as a leading young theologian helped to move our beloved Catholic Church out of the Middle Ages into Modernity. Further, while a professor at our Alma Mater University of Tübingen, you, along with the rest of your colleagues of the Catholic Theology faculty, publicly advocated 1) the election of bishops by their constituents, and 2) limited term of office of bishops (see the book Democratic Bishops for the Roman Catholic Church,

Now—— you are publicly rebuking loyal Catholic priests for doing precisely what you earlier had so nobly advocated. They, and many, many others across the universal Catholic Church, are following your youthful example, trying desperately to move our beloved Mother Church further into Modernity. I deliberately use the word “desperately,” for in your own homeland, Germany, and elsewhere in Europe, the churches are empty, and also are so many Catholic hearts when they hear the chilling words coming from Rome and the “radically obedient” (read: “yes-men”) bishops. In my own homeland, America, the birthplace of modern freedom, human rights, and democracy, we have lost—in this generation alone!—one third of our Catholic population, 30,000,000, because the Vatican II promises of its five-fold Copernican Turn (the turn toward 1. freedom, 2. this world, 3. a sense of history, 4. internal reform, and above all, 5. dialogue) have all been so deliberately dashed by your predecessor, and now increasingly by you.

Joe, you were known as one of the Vatican II theologians who promoted Pope St. John XXIII’s call for aggiornamento (bringing up to date) by the reforming spirit of returning to the energizing original sources (resourcement!) of Christianity (ad fontes!—to the fountains!). Those democratic, freedom-loving sources of the Early Church were exactly the renewing “sources,” the “fountains,” of renewal that were spelled out in detail by you and your Tübingen colleagues.

I am urging you to return to that early reforming spirit of your youth. I am reminded of that spirit now in preparation for the 50th anniversary celebration of the Journal of Ecumenical Studies (JES), which my beloved wife Arlene and I launched in 1964. There in the very first issue of JES are articles by your friend and fellow Vatican II theologian Hans Küng, and yourself (!), looking to bridge over the isolating Counter-Reformation gulf that divided the Catholic Church from the rest of Christianity, and indeed the rest of the modern world.

Joe, in that spirit, I urge you to return to your reforming fountains: Return ad fontes!

Leonard Swidler, Ph.D., S.T.L.
Professor of Catholic Thought and Interreligious Dialogue, Temple University
Co-Founder, Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church