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Vatican

Nostalgia is not a path to the future

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Editorial

It has been an open secret that powerful forces in the church’s leadership have strongly opposed the reforms set in motion by the Second Vatican Council and have worked quietly yet assiduously during the past 40 years to roll back what has been accomplished. The regression is usually couched in Orwellian churchspeak, which lavishes praise on the council even as its intentions are reversed. Or sometimes in this parallel universe the argument is made that nothing really happened during the gathering of the world’s bishops over a four-year period to redirect the church and its mission.

The Vatican angles in rightist waters

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Viewpoint

After Pope Benedict XVI’s offenses to Jews and Muslims, to Protestants and to reform-oriented Catholics, it is now the turn of the Anglican Communion, which encompasses some 77 million members and is the third-largest Christian confession after the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox churches. Now that he has brought back the extreme anti-reformist faction of the Society of Pius X into the fold, Benedict hopes to fill up the dwindling ranks of the Catholic church with Anglicans sympathetic to Rome. Their conversion to the Catholic church is supposed to be made easier: Anglican priests and bishops shall be allowed to retain their standing, even when married. Traditionalists of the churches unite under the cupola of St. Peter’s.

Burke's influence is set to grow

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Analysis

Archbishop Raymond Burke’s Oct. 17 appointment to the powerful Congregation for Bishops offers an illustration of how in the Vatican, even the ordinary can be extraordinary.

The appointment means that the 61-year-old Burke, a frequently polarizing figure during his 12-year run as a bishop in the United States, is now in a position to put his stamp on the next generation of Catholic bishops all over the world.

Cardinal Franc RodÈ statement on Apostolic Visitation

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The following statement was issued by the Vatican Press Office Nov. 3, 2009:

STATEMENT OF THE PREFECT OF THE CONGREGATION OF INSTITUTES OF CONSECRATED LIFE AND SOCIETIES OF APOSTOLIC LIFE, CARD. FRANC RODÉ, C.M., ON THE APOSTOLIC VISITATION OF INSTITUTES OF WOMEN RELIGIOUS IN THE USA

Since the Apostolic Visitation of Institutes of Women Religious was first announced in January 2009, there has been great interest in the study that the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life (CICLSAL) has undertaken to look into the fundamental aspects of women religious in the United States. This Apostolic Visitation hopes to encourage vocations and assure a better future for women religious. Having read many news accounts and received various inquiries, I offer the following in response.

For many years this dicastery had been listening to concerns expressed by American Catholics – religious, laity, clergy and hierarchy – about the welfare of religious women and consecrated life in general, and had been considering an Apostolic Visitation as a means to assess and constructively address these concerns.

Cardinal RodÈ defends apostolic visitation of US nuns

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VATICAN CITY
Cardinal Franc Rodé, head of the Vatican office overseeing religious orders, said he requested an apostolic visitation of women's religious orders in the United States to help the sisters and to respond to concerns for their welfare.

"This apostolic visitation hopes to encourage vocations and assure a better future for women religious," the cardinal said in a statement released Nov. 3 by the Vatican.

Cardinal Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, said his statement was in response to "many news accounts" and inquiries about the visitation, which was announced in January.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New York posted an article on his blog Oct. 29 listing what he called examples of anti-Catholicism in The New York Times, including an Oct. 21 column regarding the apostolic visitation.

African synod heard the cry of women, laity

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Should historians in the future rummage through the final documents of Vatican synods, they will find tepid accounts, blandly written and largely cleansed of the motivating tensions and contentious discussions of the moment.

We expect the same of documents that ultimately will be compiled and then stashed as a result of the recently completed Synod on Africa. The sad consequence, if past experience is any indication, is that the life in evidence at the synod, the energy bubbling up from this somewhat newly minted and wildly growing version of an old, old church, will be ignored. Much of that life issues from the questions being raised about the future, about the empowerment of women, about a larger role for laity. It is the result of the kind of back-and-forth that disturbs the Vatican’s meta-narrative, a vision of calm continuum that needs only to be reinforced.

Women may come out winners in the Synod for Africa

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Coverage of the final conclusions from the Synod for Africa so far has focused mostly on the African bishops’ stinging rebuke of corrupt politicians -– in effect, telling them to repent or get out. In all honesty, however, there’s relatively little the Catholic church can do, at least in any direct sense, to control the behavior of national leaders in Africa or anywhere else.

Proof of the point is that the first Synod for Africa in 1994 issued a similar call for more ethical governance, and it’s not clear that such statements have changed very much.

There is a fair bit that Africa’s bishops can do, however, to shape the life of the Catholic church on the continent, and that may be where the synod’s concluding message, as well as the 57 propositions for action submitted to Pope Benedict XVI, have their most immediate impact.

On that front, if there's one big idea that seemed to surface, it was a call to take women more seriously -- in society, and also in the church.

In keeping with the candor exhibited throughout the synod about the church’s need to confront its own failures, the bishops called for:

    Archbishop Burke will help shape world's episcopate

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    VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI's naming of U.S. Archbishop Raymond L. Burke to the Congregation for Bishops was a small but significant appointment that could have an impact on the wider church for many years to come.

    The congregation's members generally meet every two weeks to review candidates for vacant dioceses and make their recommendations to the pope -- recommendations that carry a lot of weight. Precisely for that reason, the Congregation for Bishops is known as one of the most important Roman Curia agencies.

    Vatican welcomes Anglicans: React story No. 2

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    Subdued reflection seemed to be the most common reaction from Catholics and Anglicans to the Vatican's plans to more easily welcome Anglicans into the Roman Catholic fold.

    Seeming to welcome the announcement was Msgr. William H. Stetson, an Opus Dei priest from the Washington, D.C., area, who since the 1980s has personally supervised the conversion of approximately 100 Episcopal priests.

    He told Religion News Service, "There's no structure like it in the modern history of the Catholic church. This is a historic moment."

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