Helping bishops understand who they are as sexual beings…..


I understand that some bishops took offense at my first posting about continuing sex ed for bishops….especially the suggestion that they meditate on the Canticle of Canticles. No offense intended!

Certainly all bishops must understand themselves as “sexual” and how they function as  sexual men.

Today’s episcopal sex ed exercise is rather simple. I would like each bishop to sit down and write a thoughtful essay titled: “I am a sexual bishop.”  

The following points can help get your reflection started and keep it well-focused.

Important points for Episcopal sexuality reflection:

  • understanding your own sexuality means you feel more comfortable with yourself and helps you relate better to others
  • what kind of a sexual person are you?
  • sexuality is more than genital sexual activity – it’s about the whole person, your experiences, your social context, and your relationships
  • how does this affect you?
  • sexuality is a natural and healthy part of living.
  • are you currently living your sexuality in a natural and healthy way?
  • sexuality includes physical, ethical, spiritual, psychological and emotional dimensions.
  • how do you see these dimensions in your life?
  • individuals express their sexuality in a variety of ways.
  • how do you express your sexuality?
  • sexual relationships should never be coercive or exploitative.
  • what does this say to you about your ministry as bishop?
  • sexuality is part of the package you come with when you’re born, and is with you. throughout your life. It’s wrapped around every part of who you are. You’ve already got it, but you may need help in learning how to use it in positive ways.

After you have completed your essay, we will make arrangements for you to meet privately with a psychologist who will go over your essay with you. Some bishops will of course be complimented on their sexual health. Others will be given pointers for further growth. Some bishops will be asked to begin therapy and immediately send their resignations to Rome for “personal health reasons.”



Has Pope Benedict Moved Beyond Cardinal Ratzinger’s Theology?


It is polite and courteous to give someone the benefit of the doubt….and an exercise of Christian virtue as well. Vatican PR  — during this sexual abuse Roman Catholic tsunami – – would have us believe that Pope Benedict has learned a few things and is now more  open-minded and better attuned to contemporary movements and issues.  I hope so. Nevertheless, as I see how the abysmal new English missal has been imposed on the Anglo-speaking world, how nineteenth-century-minded Opus Dei bishops are springing up like mushrooms after a Spring rain, and how the far-to-the-right Legio Christi is being reconstituted, I have my doubts.  Yes of course you can teach an old dog new tricks. I don’t think however that this old German shepherd has given up his nineteenth century theological ethos.

After the Second Vatican Council Joseph Ratzinger spoke of Gaudium et spes as in spots “downright Pelagian,” as too optimistic, reflecting  too much Thomas Aquinas and too little Augustine of Hippo. Ratzinger’s emphasis was more on the Cross than the Incarnation, as when he wrote: “an orientation of the Church towards the world which would mean a turning away from the Cross would lead not to a renewal of the Church but to its decline and eventual decay.”

In the first twenty years after the Vatican II, the approach and the method of Gaudium et spes largely prevailed in pastoral practice and in theological reflection. Emphasis given to experience in catechesis and stress placed on terms like “relevance.” One thinks immediately of theologians – greatly disliked by theologian Ratzinger – like Karl Rahner, Bernard Lonergan and Edward Schillebeeckx. One thinks as well about successive efforts to construct a theology of secularization, a theology of hope, a political theology, a theology of liberation in several forms, contextual theologies for various cultural and historical contexts.

Today, however, the prevailing theology that has won Roman favor is not the one that was taken in Gaudium et spes. The approach of a Karl Rahner or an Edward Schillebeeckx, which looks for points of contact with contemporary culture, has been replaced by an approach typical, say, of Henri de Lubac, Joseph Ratzinger and Hans Urs von Balthasar. What is being proposed is often called a “a postmodern Augustinian Thomism.”

It is all rather strange. It is in fact so very Augustinian that I doubt that it could be called any kind of Thomism and certainly not modern. It is a theology that sees the world caught up in hopeless chaos: the new barbarians are at the gates and it is the contemporary culture of death vs. the ecclesiastical civilization of love. The possibility of dialogue is denied in favor of out-talking and ignoring the “progressives” and “dissenters.” For the new Augustinians, like Ratzinger, it is black or white: It is the Gospel or post-modern chaos. “Unless you believe you will not understand” was the old Augustinian theme. It is being applied today with such energy and with so little nuance that I think even Augustine must be turning in his grave. 

Lest we forget, I suggest a re-reading of the major condemnations of contemporary theology and theologians that came from Cardinal Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Perspectives on the theology of Pope Benedict XVI

Timeline of principal doctrinal decisions, documents, 1981-2005


 VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Here is a list of the principal public documents and
decisions issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith from 1981 to
2005 when Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was prefect of the office. He was elected
Pope Benedict XVI April 19.



 — March 12, 1983: Notification reaffirming the excommunication of
traditionalist Archbishop Pierre Martin Ngo Dinh Thuc, formerly of Hue, Vietnam, and
his accomplices for the illicit ordination of priests and bishops.

 — Oct. 4, 1983: Notification to Archbishop Raymond G. Hunthausen of Seattle
that an apostolic visitation of his archdiocese would be conducted, focused
primarily on liturgy, the education of seminarians, clergy formation, the
marriage tribunal and ministry to homosexuals. (The process ended with the
appointment in 1985 of an auxiliary bishop who was given primary responsibility over
many areas of archdiocesan governance.)

 — Nov. 26, 1983: “Declaration on Masonic Associations,” saying Masonic
principles and rituals “embody a naturalistic” religion incompatible with
Christianity. Those who knowingly embrace the principles or attend the rituals are
involved in serious sin and may not receive Communion.

 — Aug. 6, 1984: “Instruction on Certain Aspects of the ‘Theology of
” although applauding efforts to promote social justice, criticized
theologians who borrow “uncritically” from Marxist ideology, reducing salvation to
the liberation of the poor from worldly oppressors.

 — March 11, 1985: Notification on the book “Church: Charism and Power” by
Brazilian Franciscan Father Leonardo Boff, who argued that the church’s current
hierarchical structure was not that intended by Christ and that authority can
spring from the community of the faithful. The notification said the book was
“dangerous” and asked Father Boff to refrain from publishing or speaking
publicly for one year.

 — March 22, 1986: “Instruction on Christian Freedom and Liberation,” a
second document on liberation theology providing guidelines for the theology’s
development, insisting it have as its goal the liberation of people from sin, not
simply from sinful social structures.

 — July 10, 1986: Pope John Paul II appointed Cardinal Ratzinger head of a
12-member commission charged with drafting the “Catechism of the Catholic
Church.” The text was released in French in 1992 and in English in 1994.

 — July 25, 1986: Letter regarding the suspension of U.S. Father Charles E.
from teaching Catholic theology because of his dissenting views on
several issues in sexual ethics. Father Curran was a professor of theology at The
Catholic University of America, Washington.

 — Sept. 15, 1986: Notification on the book “The Church With a Human Face: A
New and Expanded Theology of Ministry” by Dominican Father Edward
Schillebeeckx, saying the book was “in disagreement with the teaching of the church,”
particularly regarding ordination and the possibility of lay people presiding at
the Eucharist.
However, the doctrinal congregation did not apply any penalties
to the Belgian-born priest, who already had retired from teaching.

 — Oct. 1, 1986: “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the
Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons.” The letter called for “special concern and
pastoral attention” to homosexuals, but also for clarity that homosexual activity
is immoral.

 — Feb. 22, 1987: “Instruction on Respect for Human Life in Its Origin and
on the Dignity of Procreation,” clarifying the church’s position on assisted
fertilization techniques and other biomedical issues, reaffirming teaching that
an embryo is human from the moment of conception and that conception is moral
only in the context of sexual intercourse within marriage.

 — June 29, 1988: Telegram warning traditionalist French Archbishop Marcel
Lefebvre he would be in schism if he ordained bishops without papal consent.
The archbishop went ahead with the ordinations and died in schism.

 — Feb. 16, 1989: Note regarding the moral rule of “Humanae Vitae” and
pastoral duty, saying couples who find it difficult to follow church teaching about
birth control “deserve great respect and love,” but the church is firm in
teaching that contraception is an “intrinsically disordered act” that is
prohibited without exception.

 — Oct. 15, 1989: “Letter on Certain Aspects of Christian Meditation,”
cautioning Catholics about using Buddhist, Hindu and other meditation techniques
that place the focus of prayer on the self rather than on God.

 — May 24, 1990: “Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of the Theologian,
underlining the important role theologians have in clarifying, explaining and
exploring church teaching, but also calling on theologians who disagree with
church teaching not to use the mass media to publicize their views or try to
pressure for change in the church.

 — Jan. 31, 1992: Note on the book “The Sexual Creators, an Ethical Proposal
for Concerned Christians” by Canadian Oblate Father Andre Guindon. The
Vatican said the book presented questionable views on premarital sex, homosexual
relationships and contraception,
particularly because Father Guindon seemed to
reduce moral goodness to subjective human intentions.

 — March 30, 1992: “Instruction on Some Aspects of the Use of the
Instruments of Social Communication in Promoting the Doctrine of the Faith,” reaffirming
church law requiring prepublication theological review of manuscripts dealing
with church teaching.

 — May 28, 1992: “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some
Aspects of the Church Understood as Communion,” emphasizing the essential bond
between the local church and universal church, particularly through recognition of
the authority of the pope.

 — July 23, 1992: “Some Considerations Concerning the Response to
Legislative Proposals on Nondiscrimination of Homosexual Persons,” saying, “It is not
unjust discrimination to take sexual orientation into account” when making laws
concerning “adoption or foster care, in employment of teachers or athletic
coaches and in military recruitment.”

 — Sept. 14, 1994: “Letter to Bishops Regarding the Reception of Holy
Communion by Divorced and Remarried Members of the Faithful,” saying the church
cannot ignore Jesus’ clear teaching on the indissolubility of marriage and
reaffirming that divorced and civilly remarried Catholics may not receive Communion.

 — Oct. 28, 1995: Response to questions about the doctrine contained in the
apostolic letter, “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis,” saying the church’s teaching that
women cannot be ordained priests belongs “to the deposit of faith” and has
been taught “infallibly” by Pope John Paul.

 — Jan. 2, 1997: Notification on the book “Mary and Human Liberation” by Sri
Lankan Oblate Father Tissa Balasuriya, saying the book contained heretical
statements regarding Mary, original sin, Christ’s redemptive role and papal
. The Oblate was excommunicated, but reconciled with the church a
year later.

 — May 30, 1997: Revised “Regulations for Doctrinal Examination” of
theologians a
nd their work, encouraging a more direct role for the theologian’s bishop
or religious superior, allowing the possibility of naming an advocate and an
adviser for the theologian, and permitting face-to-face meetings between the
theologian and congregation members.

 — Aug. 15, 1997: Publication of the final Latin “typical edition” of the
“Catechism of the Catholic Church,” containing some corrections and additions to
the 1992 text, including a stronger condemnation of the death penalty and an
acknowledgment that science has not determined the cause of homosexuality.

 — June 24, 1998: Posthumous notification concerning the writings of Indian
Jesuit Father Anthony De Mello, saying some of the priest’s views “are
incompatible with the Catholic faith and can cause grave harm.” It particularly cited
those views presenting God as an impersonal cosmic reality, organized
religion as an obstacle to self-awareness and Jesus as one master among many.

 — Oct. 31, 1998: “Considerations on ‘The Primacy of the Successor of Peter
in the Mystery of the Church,'” saying that, although Pope John Paul called
for an ecumenical discussion of how primacy could be exercised in a united
church, “the full communion desired by Christ among those who confess to be his
disciples requires the common recognition of a universal ecclesial ministry,” and
the Catholic faith holds that that ministry belongs to the pope.

 — May 31, 1999: Notification regarding School Sister of Notre Dame Jeannine
Gramick and Salvatorian Father Robert Nugent, barring the U.S. team from
further pastoral ministry to homosexuals, saying they advanced “doctrinally
unacceptable” positions “regarding the intrinsic evil of homosexual acts and the
objective disorder of the homosexual inclination.”

 — June 26, 2000: Publication of a 43-page booklet containing the complete
Message of Fatima,” including the so-called “third secret” given to three
Portuguese children in 1917. In his commentary, Cardinal Ratzinger said the third
part of the message is a symbolic prophecy of the church’s 20th-century
struggles with evil political systems and of the church’s ultimate triumph.

 — Aug. 6, 2000: “Dominus Iesus,” a declaration on the “exclusive, universal
and absolute” value of Jesus Christ and his church for salvation.

 — Sept. 14, 2000: “Instruction on Prayers for Healing,” noting the
importance of believing that God wants to free people from suffering, but encouraging
local bishops to be vigilant that the services do not become occasions for
hysteria or focus more on the so-called gift of healing possessed by certain
individuals than on God.

 — Jan. 24, 2001: Notification on the book “Toward a Christian Theology of
Religious Pluralism” by Belgian Jesuit Father Jacques Dupuis, warning that
although Father Dupuis’ intentions were good his 1997 book contained ambiguous
statements and insufficient explanations that could lead readers to “erroneous or
harmful conclusions” about Christ’s role as the unique and universal savior.

 — Feb. 22, 2001: Notification regarding certain writings of Redemptorist
Father Marciano Vidal, a Spanish moral theologian. At the congregation’s
request, the priest agreed to revise several of his books to emphasize the church’s
official position on contraception, homosexuality, masturbation, abortion and
other issues.

 — May 18, 2001: Letter to all bishops “regarding the more serious offenses,
‘graviora delicta’ reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith.” The letter said Pope John Paul had given the congregation juridical control
over cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests, classifying it as one of
several “graver offenses” against church law. The other offenses include acts
committed by priests against the sanctity of the Eucharist and against the
sacrament of penance.

 — July 1, 2001: Note on the doctrinal decrees concerning the thought and
work of Father Antonio Rosmini, saying positions attributed to the Italian
philosopher and condemned by the Vatican in 1887 did not accurately reflect Father
Rosmini’s thinking. The 2001 decision removed a major stumbling block to the
19th-century priest’s beatification.

 — Aug. 5, 2002: Publication of the declaration of the excommunication of
seven Catholic women from various countries who had attempted to be ordained
Catholic priests.
The congregation had sent them a warning July 10 asking them to
indicate their “repentance for the most serious offense they had committed.”
The Vatican said the ordaining bishop, the leader of a breakaway church, had
already been excommunicated.

 — Jan. 16, 2003: Doctrinal note on the participation of Catholics in
political life saying that while Catholics are free to choose among political
parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they cannot claim that freedom
allows them to support abortion, euthanasia or other attacks on human life.

 — Feb. 7-14, 2003: Revised norms issued for dealing with “serious offenses”
against the sacraments; the new norms included an expedited process for
laicizing priests guilty of sexually abusing minors.

 — July 31, 2003: “Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal
Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons,” reaffirming church teaching
requiring compassion for homosexuals, but saying legal recognition of gay unions is
contrary to human nature and ultimately harmful to society.

 — July 31, 2004: “Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on the
Collaboration of Men and Women in the Church and in the World,” saying the
subjugation of women is the result of original sin and not of God’s original design
for creation. Rather than ignore the God-given differences between men and
women, the church calls on them to collaborate for the good of the family, society
and the church.

 — Dec. 13, 2004: Notification regarding the book “Jesus Symbol of God” by
U.S. Jesuit Father Roger Haight, which said the book contained “serious
doctrinal errors against the Catholic and divine faith of the church,” particularly
regarding the divinity of Jesus and the universality of salvation in him. The
Jesuit was forbidden to teach as a Catholic theologian.

 — Feb. 11, 2005: Statement and commentary reaffirming church teaching that
only priests can administer the anointing of the sick and saying the doctrine
must be “definitively” accepted by Catholics.  


New missal translation : Murder on the disoriented express

Beware: “Reformers of the Reform” at work in your parish…..

What good furtune to have the clear vision and direct langugage of Eugene Cullen Kennedy.

With unabashed disgust, Kennedy,  writing 27 May 2010 in the National Catholic Reporter, denounces the new English missal translation ……Ordinary believers are the innocent victims of the New Translation’s manslaughter of Mystery and of numerous terrorist attacks on the vision and theology of Vatican II.”

Contemporary English-speaking Catholics around the world are about to be force-fed the new translation despite thousands of appeals that the Vatican “just wait,” and despite widespread objections from theologians, expert translators, and teachers of English prose and poetry.  

Kennedy’s words should be carved in stone because he sees the liturgical language issue clearly for what it is: Pope Benedict’s big move to undermine more completely Vatican II and return the Catholic Church to Vatican I’s Tridentine rigidity and triumphalism.

Major excerpts:

Like all terrorists, these campaigners (“Reformers of the reform” jwg)  believe that Heavenly mansions await them for the earthly damage they do in restoring religion to the slavery of obsessive masters from whom Jesus liberated it. Not for them the church that respects conscience and other religions, that understands and waits for all us limping humans to catch up with it, that celebrates life and embraces and forgives sinners.

 Vatican II makes faith too easy, in their judgment; they reject a faith that elevates people for spiritual growth and propose a regime that puts them down to keep them in their place. Espousing a “tough” religion doesn’t do much for anybody else but it certainly makes them feel good about themselves.

 Everything, including the New Translation, squeezes the spirit out of familiar liturgical readings and replaces it with hot air. These efforts flow from the sweeping campaign initiated by Pope John Paul II (Calling him Pope John the Great is part of their program too) to restore the hierarchical church.

 The hierarchical church’s outdated structure, whose origins were secular rather than sacred, was not a victim of Vatican II but of history itself and the best thing to do is stand clear as it settles into clouds of dust. With his combination of Teutonic rigor and a shopkeeper’s smile, Pope Benedict XVI now charges the bishops, as if they didn’t have enough trouble, with refurbishing the split-level palace that places the pope alone on top, monsignors and assorted officials on the skybox level and lay men and women on the bottom.

 The failure to understand that Vatican II restored the authentic tradition of collegiality to the church has led to a record level of canonizations on the principle that the more saints the better to buttress the multi-level ecclesiastical dormitory. The little murders of these reformers of the reform of Vatican II include the comedy of telling priests who don’t know the language that they can say Mass in Latin and the tragedy of making nice with the Lefebvre heretics who are the Confederate money in the church’s collection plate.

 The New Translation is a big murder, however, because it represents an assault on the language that bears the Mystery of belief. The translation now in use reveals the purity of theologically based phrases. The New Translation now slays that graceful Mystery by throwing out the baby with the baptismal water.

It looks like 1950 but it is really 2009 with Bishop Blair in Toldeo

Bishop Blair at St Joseph Parish in February 2009

Bishop Leonard Blair of Toledo has named the priest responsible for promoting vocations in his diocese to also be pastor of a church famous for celebrating the Tridentine Mass that was normative before before the Second Vatican Council.

Among new personnel changes announced last Saturday for the northwestern Ohio diocese, the bishop said Fr Adam Hertzfeld, 34, would become pastor of Saint Joseph Parish in addition to his duties as diocesan vocation director.  The Rome-trained priest has been vocations director the past two years.  He will begin his additional assignment on July 1st.

Fr Hetzfeld was ordained in 2002 after earning an undergraduate degree at the Franciscan University of Steubenville and completing theological studies at the Gregorian University in Rome.  He completed a doctorate in moral theology at the Alphonsianum Academy in Rome in 2008 with a thesis on the writings of Dietrich von Hildebrand and the role “affectivity” plays in religious conversion. 

Bishop Blair, a Detroit native and former secretary to Cardinal Edmund Szoka, has been head of the diocese since 2003.  He is a member of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committee on doctrine and last year was appointed by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to conduct a doctrinal investigation of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an organization that represents about 95% of the 59.000 religious sisters in the United States.

Episcopal Sex Ed 101: Six Basic Principles that You Probably Never Learned.

Dear Bishops:

Our sexuality is fundamental to who we are and how we interact with each other and to how relate to the Divine and to the world around us. Arrested sexual development or suppressed sexuality warps our sense of self, our ability to relate to others, and our sense of God.

I am so very happy you are taking this course: for your own sakes and for the good of the church.

In this first course in “Remedial Sex Ed for Bishops” we will focus on basic principles that I fear you never really learned when you were going through seminary formation. I don’t fault you, but I do fault the institution that formed you. What a pity that men in their 60s, 70s and older now have to learn what they should have learned as teenagers and young men…

So off we go with some basic principles that we will explore together in this first course:

(1)    All of us – yes you too – exist along a sexual spectrum that goes from very straight to very gay. Most of us exist somewhere in between, which means that most of us are bi-sexual to some extent. Don’t be alarmed it is all very natural. Remember natural law!

(2)    Who we are as sexual people is a gift of God. Gay or straight, or in between, God made us that way; and we all know that the benevolent and almighty Creator does not create junk. Sexuality is a grace whether gay or straight.

(3)    Healthy sexuality should be self-liberating. It should lead to self-assurance, thereby enhancing the full development of a person’s potential for growth and self-expression. Exciting stuff really.

(4)    Mature human sexuality is also other-enriching. It gives expression to a generous interest and concern for the well-being of the other. It is sensitive, considerate, thoughtful, compassionate, understanding, and supportive. Obviously gentlemen, pedophilia is not in this category of healthy sexuality – sorry to come back to that but we do have to be very frank with each other in this course.

(5)   Mature and healthy sexuality is honest. It expresses openly and candidly and as truthfully as possible the depth of the relationship that exists between people. It avoids pretense, evasion, and deception in every form as a betrayal of the mutual trust that any sexual expression should imply. Heavy stuff bishops but also wonderful stuff!

(6)   Healthy sexuality is socially responsible. Wholesome sexuality gives expression not only to individual relationships but also reflects the relationship and responsibility of individuals to the larger community.


Well gentlemen, these are the main themes we will explore in Sex Ed 101. I look forward to working with you. And for a nighttime mediation, in preparation for our days together,  I recommend the Canticle of Canticles which begins, as you know, with those memorable lines: “Let him kiss me with the kiss of his mouth: for your breasts are better than wine, smelling sweet of the best ointments.”

Remedial Sex Education for Bishops

During his visit to Fatima, Pope Benedict observed: “In recent years the anthropological, cultural, social and religious framework of humanity has changed.” So has our understanding of human sexuality, but Benedict didn’t say that. I wish he had.

The Roman Catholic hierarchy — in response to the signs of the times — is in urgent need of some sex ed continuing education.

I suggest some intensive courses in remedial sexual education. I would start with the Pope, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone (of pedophilia is due to homosexuality, fame) and the Vatican Curia.

Simultaneously, since it is good that the top men in the church all get the good news at the same time, I would have an intensive course for Cardinal William Levada and his staff at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. There would have to be as well some very special classes for Archbishop Raymond Burke and his staff at the Apostolic Signatura. Burke, you remember, is the fellow who regularly denounces President Obama as anti-life and anti-marriage; but that is a matter for a future blog. And last but not least there would have to be a special course for Cardinal Angelo Sodano (the sex abuse is just “petty gossip” cardinal) and the entire College of Cardinals.

After the remedial education of the top men at Vatican headquarters we could move on to national conferences of Catholic bishops……. This could be done, in close-collaboration with some of our best universities. It would be  like a special jubilee, guaranteed to unlock many closeted doors: a one year sexual updating/education/formation program for all Roman Catholic bishops.

We had the Year of the Priest. I propose a Remedial Sex Ed Year for Bishops.

There would be three main segments in the education/formation program:

(1)   Episcopal Sex Ed 101: Basic Principles that were Never Learned.

(2)   Episcopal Sex Ed 201: Bishops Confront their Own Sexuality

(3)   Episcopal Sex Ed 301: Special Ed for the Hopelessly Mixed-up

More about this in postings this week……….

Active Reform Now: A Catholic Bill of Rights

All genuine reform must be solidly based on realistic expectations.

ARCC – The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church — is setting up a network of active reformers across the country. Their goal is to protect and defend the rights of Catholics in the church and their action is grounded in a Catholic bill of rights. They do not replace other reform movements. They support and provide substantial grounding for all reform movements. Their focus however is uniquely based on CATHOLIC RIGHTS. For more information and to join ARCC:

Basic Catholic Rights


No. 1. All Catholics have the right to follow their informed consciences in all matters. (C. 748.1)

No. 2. Officers of the Church have the right to teach on matters both of private and public morality only after wide consultation with the faithful prior to the formulation of the teaching.4 (C. 212, C. 747, C. 749, C. 752, C. 774.1)

No. 3. All Catholics have the right to engage in any activity which does not infringe on the rights of others, e.g., they have the right to freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of association. (C. 212:2,3, C. 215, C. 223:1)

No. 4. All Catholics have the right of access to all information possessed by Church authorities concerning the former’s spiritual and temporal welfare, provided such access does not infringe on the rights of others. (C. 218, C. 221:1,2,3, C. 223:1, C. 537)

Decision-making and Dissent

No. 5. All Catholics have the right to a voice in all decisions that affect them, including the choosing of their leaders. (C. 212:3)

No. 6. All Catholics have the right to have their leaders accountable to them. (C. 492, C. 1287.2)

No. 7. All Catholics have the right to form voluntary associations to pursue Catholic aims including the right to worship together; such associations have the right to decide on their own rules of governance. (C. 215, C. 299, C. 300, C. 305, C. 309)

No. 8. All Catholics have the right to express publicly their dissent in regard to decisions made by Church authorities. (C. 212:3, C. 218, C. 753)

Due Process

No. 9. All Catholics have the right to be dealt with according to commonly accepted norms of fair administrative and judicial procedures without undue delay. (C. 221:1,2,3, C. 223, 1,2)

No. 10. All Catholics have the right to redress of grievances through regular procedures of law. (C. 221:1,2,3, C. 223:1,2)

No. 11. All Catholics have the right not to have their good reputations impugned or their privacy violated. (C. 220)

Ministries and Spirituality

No. 12. All Catholics have the right to receive from the Church those ministries which are needed for the living of a fully Christian life, including:

 a) Instruction in the Catholic tradition and the presentation of moral teaching in a way that promotes the helpfulness and relevance of Christian values to contemporary life. (C.229:1,2)

 b) Worship which reflects the joys and concerns of the gathered community and instructs and inspires it. c) Pastoral counseling that applies with love and effectiveness the Christian heritage to persons in particular situations. (C. 213, C. 217)

No. 13. All Catholics have the right, while being mindful of Gospel norms, to follow whatever paths will enhance their life in Christ (i.e., their self-realization as unique human beings created by God). They also have the right to guidance that will foster authentic human living both on a personal level and in relation to their communities and the world. (C. 213)

No. 14. All Catholics have the right to follow the customs and laws of the rite of their choice and to worship accordingly. (C. 214)

No. 15. All Catholics, regardless of race, age, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, state-of-life, or social position have the right to receive all the sacraments for which they are adequately prepared. (C. 213, C. 843:1)

No. 16. All Catholics, regardless of canonical status (lay or clerical), sex or sexual orientation, have the right to exercise all ministries in the Church for which they are adequately prepared, according to the needs and with the approval of the community. (C. 225:1, C. 274:1, C. 1024)

No. 17. All Catholics have the right to have Church office- holders foster a sense of community. (C. 369, C. 515)

No. 18. Office-holders in the Church have the right to proper training and fair financial support for the exercise of their offices, as well as the requisite respect and liberty needed for the proper exercise thereof. (C. 231:2, C. 281)

No. 19. All Catholics have the right to expect all office- holders in the Church to be properly trained and to continue their education throughout their term of office. (C. 217, C. 231:1, C. 232, C. 279, C. 819)

No. 20. Catholic teachers of theology have a right to responsible academic freedom. The acceptability of their teaching is to be judged in dialogue with their peers, keeping in mind the legitimacy of responsible dissent and pluralism of belief. (C. 212:1, C. 218, C. 750, C. 752, C. 754, C. 279:1, C. 810, C. 812)

Social and Cultural Rights

No. 21. All Catholics have the right to freedom in political matters. (C. 227)

No. 22. All Catholics have the right to follow their informed consciences in working for justice and peace in the world. (C. 225:2)

No. 23. All employees of the Church have the right to decent working conditions and just wages. They also have the right not to have their employment terminated without due process. (C. 231:2)

No. 24. All Catholics have the right to exercise their artistic and cultural talents without interference (e.g., censorship) from Church authorities; likewise all Catholics have the right freely to enjoy the fruits of the arts and culture.

States of Life

No. 25. All Catholics have the right to choose their state in life; this includes the right to marry and the right to embrace celibacy.

No. 26. All Catholic women have an equal right with men to the resources and the exercise of all the powers of the Church.

No. 27. All Catholics have the right to expect that the resources of the Church be fairly expended on their behalf without prejudice to race, age, nationality, sex, sexual orientation, state-of-life, or social position. a) All Catholic parents have the right to expect, where needed, fair material and other assistance from Church authorities in the religious education of their children. b) All single Catholics have the right to expect that the resources of the Church be fairly expended on their behalf.

No. 28. All married Catholics have the right to determine in conscience the size of their families and the appropriate methods of family planning.

No. 29. All Catholic parents have the right to see to the education of their children in all areas of life. (C. 226:2)

No. 30. All married Catholics have the right to withdraw from a marriage which has irretrievably broken down. All such Catholics retain the radical right to remarry.

No. 31. All Catholics who are divorced and remarried and who are in conscience reconciled to the Church have the right to the same ministries, including all sacraments, as do other Catholics.


No. 32. All Catholics have the right to expect that Church documents and materials will avoid sexist language, and that symbols and imagery of God will not be exclusively masculine.

Naughty Popes and Papal Sin…From the Good Old Days!

The good old days of the Roman papacy were occasionally rather dreadful. More than a few Pontifex Maximus rotten apples in the old Vatican barrel.


Pope Sergius III

We need lots of reforms today — BUT, all things considered, the papacy today is in much better shape. 🙂 

A friend in Rome has called attention to “The Vatican Hall of Shame” by Tony Perrottet. A few anecdotal historical snippets:

POPE SERGIUS  III (904-11), known by his cardinals as “the slave of every vice,” came to power after murdering his predecessor. He had a son with his teenage mistress — the prostitute Marozia, 30 years his junior — and their illegitimate son grew up to become the next pope!

POPE BENEDICT  IX, (1032-48) continually shocked even his most hardened cardinals by debauching young boys in the Lateran Palace.

After massacring the entire population in the Italian town of Palestrina, POPE BONIFACE VIII (1294-1303) indulged in sex games with a married woman and her daughter and was renowned throughout Rome as a shameless pedophile. He famously declared that having sex with young boys was no more a sin than rubbing one hand against the other……


POPE SIXTUS  IV (1471-84), who funded the Sistine Chapel, had six illegitimate sons — one with his sister. He collected a Church tax on prostitutes and charged priests for keeping mistresses. Critics argued however that this merely increased the prevalence of clerical homosexuality.

POPE JULIUS  II (1503-13) is remembered for commissioning Michelangelo to paint the Sistene Chapel’s ceiling. His other clail to fame: the first pope to contract “the French disease,” syphilis, from Rome’s male prostitutes.

And the all-time winner of course is: Rodrigo Borgia, who took the name POPE ALEXANDER  VI (1492-1503). Edward Gibbon tells us he  presided over more orgies than masses. One of his special treats was the 1501 “Joust of the Whores.” Fifty dancers were invited to slowly strip around the papal table. Alexander and his family then gleefully threw chestnuts on the floor and forced the women to grovel around their feet like pigs. The papal party then offered special prizes for the fellow who could fornicate with the most women. One of Pope Alexander’s other favorite pastimes  was watching horses copulate. After his death — he was probably poisoned by his pathological son, Cesar Borgia — Alexander’s body was expelled from the basilica of Saint Peter as too evil to be buried in sacred soil.