Monday, April 22, 2019

Two U.S. churches: One is closing down parishes, the other is standing-room only

Parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua, in Ray City, Ga., enter their new church at its dedication on May 21, 2016. (CNS photo/Rich Kalonick, Catholic Extension)Parishioners of St. Anthony of Padua, in Ray City, Ga., enter their new church at its dedication on May 21, 2016. (CNS photo/Rich Kalonick, Catholic Extension)
There are 1,437 fewer parishes in the United States now than there were in 1971 (down to a total of 16,346), according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate’s “1964” blog, yet there are several states where dozens of Catholic churches have opened in the past few decades. Mark Gray, a researcher for CARA, recently wrote about the “two churches” phenomenon, in which “pastors in different parts of the country tend to be worried about different things (keeping the lights on vs. finding space for more pews and parking spaces).”

The Sexual Abuse Crisis is Not a Crisis

The Sexual Abuse Crisis is Not a Crisis

Far from being merely a tragic moment in the church’s history, sexual abuse and related cover-ups are the fruits of a systemic disorder in the church: toxic clericalism.

Conscience

The clerical leadership of the Catholic church has been aware of sexual violation of minors and vulnerable adults for centuries. This tragic reality is a critical problem, even though it has been buried in secrecy. The secrecy ended in the mid-80s, when the media exposed the church’s cover-up of a prolific priest-perpetrator in Louisiana. Often referred to as a “crisis,” it is, in truth, not a crisis. It is something much worse. It is a worldwide manifestation of a complex, systemic and self-destructive condition in the church. It is giving us a view of today’s version of the Dark Side of the institutional church.
The hierarchy has been trying to fix what it considers a temporary problem for more than three decades with no real or lasting success. Despite the countless statements, programs, apologies, explanations and excuses provided by popes and bishops, the toxicity is still very much a part of today’s church. Essential to moving towards any healing is the real acceptance by the clerical estate that the church is not limited to the clergy and those enmeshed in ecclesiastical governance, but is what Vatican II called “The People of God,” of which the hierarchy is but a very small part. Much of the bumbling and even disastrous response thus far has been justified by those responsible as being “for the good of the church.” “Church,” however, has not meant what is best for the entire community of believers. Instead, it means what is best for the image, the reputation, the power and the financial security of the clerical elite. The persistent failure to make it all go away is akin to trying to fix a hardware problem with a software solution.

Look up at the altar, where are the women?


Column | Just Catholic

Look up at the altar, where are the women?

ncr

Alleluia is our song

Alleluia is our song

ncr 

Saturday, April 20, 2019

This Earth Day, consider a Franciscan ethic of fraternal love


This Earth Day, consider a Franciscan ethic of fraternal love

If there is one figure in Catholic life inextricably linked with the care and protection of the planet, it is Francis of Assisi

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Article Justice
As we approach Earth Day on April 22, expect to hear about St. Francis. If there is one figure in Catholic life inextricably linked with the care and protection of the planet, it is Francis of Assisi. He is often depicted with animals and is famously the author of the Canticle of the Creatures, which praises God by praising creation. Our familiarity with Francis’ works and image obscures the fact that in the arc of Catholic teaching on the natural world, Francis was very much an outlier.
The early Christian church looked to two key sources to explain what the relationship between humans and the natural world should be: the Bible and Aristotelian philosophy. In Genesis God creates the world and everything in it. Then God commands Adam and Eve to “fill the earth and conquer it.” Aristotle methodically studied and categorized all forms of life, concluding “nature does nothing in vain.” Humans were designed to do certain sorts of things, including plough the land, fish the seas, and eat animals, who in turn were designed to be delicious.

On Holy Saturday, we look back on the sacrifice of Lent and forward to the joy of Easter


America