Dec 31, 2007

Distant Early Warnings

Online Edition – Vol. IV, No. 7

November 1998

Distant Early Warnings

Frank comments on liturgy by Cardinal Francis George

Some liturgists "have conducted war against devotion", said

Cardinal Francis George

of Chicago. In some theories of liturgy there is no room for public devotion, he said in answer to a wide range of questions about liturgical issues at one session of a conference of the Society for Catholic Liturgy held in September in Chicago. The cardinal’s remarks were reported by

Our Sunday Visitor

October 18 (p 25).

"Mistakes surfaced in the

Environment and Art [in Catholic Worship]

letter", Cardinal George said, because it presented a "division" between the "static presence" of Christ in the Eucharist and the "reserved presence" in the tabernacle, thus relegating the Eucharist "to a closet".

He noted the translation problems with the proposed revisions of the Roman Missal (Lectionary and Sacramentary), and predicted that the Sacramentary might encounter translation problems similar to those of the recently approved Lectionary, with added ritual problems.

"It is clear that some of the problems in the Sacramentary and Lectionary [rejected by Rome] came from loss of relational language", said Cardinal George, when terms like Creator, Redeemer and Sanctifier replace Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Furthermore, "certain forms of inclusive language are code and are unable to carry the substance of faith."

Cardinal George is a member of the Bishops’ Committee on Doctrine, and is the US bishops’ representative to the International Commission on English in the Liturgy [ICEL].

Father James Moroney, executive director of the Bishops’ Committee on Liturgy, told


reporter, Ann Carey, that a draft of a new document to replace, not "revise", EACW, will be given to his committee in the spring, and he expects the bishops will vote on it at their annual meeting in November 1999.

Father Michael Joncas, composer of "On Eagles Wings", was among the several conference speakers. The Society for Catholic Liturgy was founded in 1995 and has 145 members. Its president is Monsignor Francis Mannion, rector of the Cathedral of the Madeleine in Salt Lake City, Utah.

A "Top Ten List" and Another "Women’s Pastoral"

America’s Catholic bishops released two documents on the same day, October 13. One, released by the Committee on Doctrine chaired by Cincinnati Archbishop Daniel Pilarczyk, is a short document entitled "Ten Frequently Asked Questions About the Reservation of Prieslty Ordination to Men". In brisk, accessible language, it restates the Church’s teaching that it is bound by the example of Christ, who called both women and men to holiness but only chose men to Apostleship. The document makes clear that "justice talk" is totally unwarranted when speaking of ordination, because priestly ordination is not anyone’s "due", but a free gift and call.

The other, much longer document,

From Words to Deeds: Continuing Reflections on the Role of Women in the Church

, [FWTD] is described as an extension of the 1994 pastoral letter,

Strengthening the Bonds of Peace

[SBOP]. FWTD was also released by a committee — the Committee on Women in Society and the Church, chaired by Bishop John C. Dunne, auxiliary bishop of Rockville Center, New York.

The Bishops’ Committee on Women [BCOW] had produced

Strengthening the Bonds of Peace

and other similar statements on "women’s issues", following the eight-year attempt to produce a pastoral letter on "womens’ concerns". That effort, begun in 1984, resulted not in a pastoral letter issued by the entire conference, but in a committee statement issued in 1992.

Like the flawed statement to parents of homosexuals,

Always Our Children,

this latest product of the BCOW was approved by the Administrative Committee, not by the full assembly of bishops.

From Words To Deeds

is an "action plan" intended to implement SBOP, and is focused entirely on "empowering" women for "leadership roles" in the Church.

As did other similar statements on "women’s concerns", FWTD recommends:

–promoting women to all church offices "allowed by canon law" (liberally interpreted as virtually everything except celebrating Mass);

–providing financial aid for women who want to study for these roles;

–using so-called inclusive language "in catechetical and religious materials and hymnals, in daily language, and in prayer and preaching";

–diocesan-sponsored workshops for priests and diocesan personnel to adjust attitudes towards "collaboration" with women.

–assuring that seminarians are thoroughly instructed on "collaborative" work with women who occupy leadership roles in the Church.

Rochester Turmoil Persists

In the latest chapter in what has been a painful season of conflict and intense media attention for the diocese of Rochester, New York, Bishop Matthew Clark has fired "pastoral associate" Mary Ramerman when she refused to stop wearing a priest-like gown and "half-stole" and preaching homilies at Mass.

The situation at Corpus Christi Church in inner-city Rochester has not settled down with the reassignment of Father James Callan on August 19 for allowing Ramerman’s activities, inviting non-Catholics to Communion and blessing homosexual unions.

On October 16, a priest on the "transition team" seeking a replacement for Father Callan was photographed at the altar with two-teenaged girls alongside him elevating chalices.

The caption for the Rochester

Democrat and Chronicle

story read: "Defiant Amy Anzalone and Jennifer Donato join the Rev. Enrique Cadena in defying church law by elevating bread and wine, consecrated as the body and blood of Christ, last night during a Mass at Corpus Christi"…. Father Cadena resigned from the transition team shortly afterward.

The media coverage of events at Corpus Christi church has included stories in the

New York Times


Washington Post,

National Public Radio’s

All Things Considered

, ABC’s

World News Tonight


Dateline NBC



and the

Oprah Winfrey Show

. The conflicts between Father Callan’s supporters and critics have often been front-page news at the Rochester

Democrat and Chronicle

. The media spin has mostly consisted of predictable variations on the theme of virtuous free-thinking rebels versus an uncaring, authoritarian Rome.

The replacement for Father Callan is the Reverend Daniel T. McMullin, a 44-year-old diocesan priest and former Benedictine monk. Father McMullin has said that that although "women’s involvement in the church is essential, as is the involvement of gay and lesbian men and women", Church law must be followed.

But the supporters of Ramerman and Father Callan are vowing to fight on. They set up web pages documenting the case. In some, Ramerman is referred to as "Associate Pastor," although on the web page for Corpus Christi Church she is listed as "parishioner extraordinaire".

With speakers from We Are Church and Catholics Speak Out scheduled to speak in Rochester on October 25, there is no sign that the turmoil will end soon. Both organizations are known for promoting dissent from Church teachings on clerical celibacy, birth control, homosexuality, and abortion.

Millennium Prayer

A prayer for the Millennium, composed by a United Reformed Church minister but designed for all of Great Britain’s Christian population, has come under fire for failing to mention God or Jesus, according to the London Times Online.

The prayer, composed by the Reverend Peter Trow, is part of a project by a joint committee, New Start 2000, representing all of Britain’s churches.

The plan is to distribute a candle and the text of the "resolution" — which, it is hoped, will take the place of the singing of "Auld Lang Syne" to each of Britain’s 20 million homes.

The resolution says:

Let there be respect for the Earth,
peace for its people,
love in our lives,
delight in the good,
forgiveness for past wrongs, and
from now on a new start.

Although the resolution has been criticized by some churchmen, such as the Reverend Stephen Trott of the General Synod of the Church of England, it was praised by both Basil Cardinal Hume, Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and Dr. George Carey, the Anglican Archbishop of Canterbury.

According to the Times story, a Gallup poll commissioned by the Committee found only four in ten people willing to recite the resolution.

British, Irish Bishops Release Letter on Eucharist

Two years after both Irish President Mary McAleese and U.S. Ambassador to Ireland Jean Kennedy Smith publicly took communion in Dublin’s Episcopalian cathedral, the bishops of Ireland and Britain have issued a joint teaching document on reception of the Eucharist.

The document, entitled "One Bread, One Body", reiterates church teaching that Catholics may not receive communion at non-Catholic services. It laments that a proper understanding of the Eucharist is lacking even among some Catholics, as evidenced by confusion between the celebration of Mass and Communion services. It also spells out the rare conditions under which a non-Catholic may receive Communion, and calls for a renewal of Exposition, Benediction, and prayer before the Blessed Sacrament.

Even though the letter restates what has long been Catholic teaching on the invalidity of Anglican orders, some Church of Ireland bishops reacted negatively, describing the document as outdated, absolutist, ambiguous, and inconsistent, according to Catholic World News.



The Editors