Ducks in a Row 1-2-3 for the Pope

Posted: July 6, 2009 by datechguy in catholic
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It looks like Pope Benedict XVI is taking his role to lead the church seriously tackling problems that have been festering for years.

Item: Back in December the results of a Papal investigations of American Seminaries was released.

One possible reason for the bishops’ reticence is that the Vatican report vindicates all the general critical claims made in Goodbye, Good Men. Though couched in carefully diplomatic Vatican language, the report also uses unusually blunt terms, especially in its criticism of seminaries run by religious orders. That being said, the assessment also gives American Catholics some authentic cause for hope. Generally speaking, most U.S. seminaries are in better shape — morally, spiritually, and intellectually — than they were a dozen years ago. That’s good news, yes; but there’s still much work to be done if the state of American seminaries is to be considered healthy and robust. Thankfully, the Vatican report clearly identifies several problem areas and proposes simple, viable solutions.

Four basic problem areas are worthy of a closer look: the dissidence of some seminary faculty members who are contemptuous of Church teaching; the “ambiguity” about homosexuality in the seminary and the priesthood (including cases of accepting homosexuality as a part of seminary life); the liturgical and devotional life of seminarians; and the teaching on the nature of the Catholic priesthood itself. Not surprisingly, these were the four basic areas of seminary life that received extensive treatment in Goodbye, Good Men.

This Echoes some of Fr. Corapi’s critiques:

I’ve been a harsh critic of ourselves, meaning the Church leadership — priests, bishops and theologians. I don’t think we’ve done a particularly good job in my lifetime. We’ve had great popes; the top of the hierarchy has always been fantastic. But we’ve had a serious problem with “middle management.” There has been a significant problem with bishops and priests. Although, it’s better now than it was 20 years ago. However, the vast majority of Catholics aren’t even going to Church, so we shouldn’t wonder that the Church has been losing its influence on an increasingly secularized society.

You have to ask yourself why people have drifted away. I’m sure there are a lot of societal reasons. We don’t have control over those reasons, but we have control over the reasons inside the Church. You can start with the top. There is an old saying: “The fish stinks from the head down.” Lousy leadership is a disaster.

Item: Tomorrow the Pope’s new encyclical Caritas in Veritate (Love in Truth) comes out. We had a bit of a preview here via the American Papist concerning faith in the modern world.

Our Pastor mentioned the letter was coming and mentioned it would make plenty of Catholics uncomfortable, but he stressed the theme of this weeks readings, particularly the following bit:

And whether they heed or resist – for they are a rebellious house – they shall know that a prophet has been among them. Ezekiel (2:5)

People will try to minimize what the pope says but he IS the successor to Peter and what he binds and looses on earth is bound and loosed in heaven. Let’s quote that Corapi interview again:

The United States, the situation would be profoundly different if we had 60-70 million Catholics truly living their faith. But, of course, as many as 80% don’t even go to Mass on Sunday — and that’s a precept! So we have a long way to go. But it has to be kind of grassroots, one person at a time. That is why the Church has always encouraged personal holiness, because that is where the reform is going to come from.

The Pope’s letter is of course for the universal church but here in the US we need to have ears to hear.

Item: And lets not forget the Nuns via First from the New Oxford Review:

It came out of the blue, they say. A total surprise. You could almost hear the gasps nationwide when Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, announced that the Holy See would undertake an apostolic visitation of women’s religious orders in the U.S. In a decree dated December 22, 2008, Cardinal Rodé, whose congregation is charged with “intervening in all that is reserved to the Holy See regarding consecrated life,” stated that the visitation would “look into the quality of life” at the general houses, provincial houses, and centers of initial formation of women religious in the U.S. (Cloistered, contemplative orders are not part of the visitation.)

Cardinal Rodé, by the faculties granted him by Pope Benedict XVI on November 17, 2008, appointed the Rev. Mother Mary Clare Millea as the primary “apostolic visitator.” Mother Millea, a Connecticut native, is the superior general of the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, a Rome-based congregation with 135 sisters in the U.S. Mother Millea holds a doctorate in canon law and has earned advanced degrees in special education and psychology. “I see the present study of our congregations in the United States as a means to help us reflect on, evaluate and improve our authentic response to the founding charisms of our institutes and to the Church’s expectations,” she told Our Sunday Visitor (Feb. 15). The upcoming visitation, believed to be the first of its kind in the U.S., has already begun, and will take an estimated two years to complete.

And more via the Curt Jester at the Musings of a Pertinacious Papist:

No sooner had the ink dried on our May 2009 New Oxford Note “Song of the Boo-Birds” about the now-underway apostolic visitation of U.S. women’s religious orders that it was announced that the Holy See is preparing an additional investigation of consecrated women in the U.S.

And unlike the first probe this one is going an interesting route:

That a national leadership conference should be the subject of a doctrinal inquiry by the Holy See is “virtually unprecedented,” says the always informative Vatican insider John L. Allen Jr. (National Catholic Reporter, May 1), because such tasks are commonly left to the competence of national bishops’ conferences. Moreover, that the CDF, the highest doctrinal office in the Church, is spearheading the investigation — as opposed to the CICLSAL, which has jurisdiction over religious orders — suggests that Rome has grave concerns about the theological currents emanating from the LCWR’s assemblies. Here is one instance in which Benedict’s curious selection of William Cardinal Levada as prefect of the CDF will be of benefit: The American cardinal should have no trouble decoding “nuance” in the LCWR material to be scrutinized.

With three investigations concurrently underway — U.S. women’s religious orders, the Legion of Christ (see the preceding New Oxford Note), and the LCWR — no one can say that the Vatican is sitting on its collective hands these days. Indeed, Rome has been a hotbed of activity of late.

The LCWR was apprised of the CDF’s intent to investigate in a letter from Cardinal Levada dated February 20 and received March 10. He wrote that the investigation became necessary when, at their 2001 annual meeting, the CDF instructed the LCWR to “report on the initiatives taken or planned” to promote three areas of doctrinal concern: the CDF’s 1986 “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons”; Pope John Paul II’s 1994 apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacer­dotalis, which reiterated Church teaching on the all-male priesthood; and the CDF’s 2001 declaration Dominus Iesus, which emphasized the uniqueness of the Catholic Church in the economy of salvation. Evidently, in the ensuing eight years, the report was never submitted. In his letter, Cardinal Levada wrote, “Given both the tenor and doctrinal content of various addresses given at the annual assemblies of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious in the intervening years, this Dicastery can only conclude that the problems which had motivated its request in 2001 continue to be present.”

Some people are shocked SHOCKED (dare I call them in an Ungodly Rage) that after mere 8 years of waiting for LCRW’s report on promoting Catholic beliefs the Vatican might wonder what they are proclaiming in the Church’s name. Fr. Corapi again:

I once asked an old Carmelite nun why we have a crisis of leadership inside the Church as well as in the secular order. She never batted an eye. She had been a nun for over 60 years and a prioress for decades. She said, “That’s easy. Punishment for sin.” Why do we have bad leadership? Punishment for sin. It’s very biblical. You go back to the Old Testament and you see that leadership was removed from the people of God, the chosen people, because of infidelity to the covenant. They cried out to God because they had no priest, prophet or king. Why not? Because they were unfaithful.

By addressing the priesthood, religious and the people Pope is doing his job to make sure all the components of the Church are heading in the direction of truth.

You know I’ll say this again. The Catholic Church is not a democracy but membership is voluntary. If certain priests and nuns or even lay Catholics don’t want to follow the Church’s teachings they are free to leave and do and say what they want. They can look forward to being celebrated and feted by the media and enjoy the gravy train for the rest of their lives…

…after that they’re on their own.

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