Rights and Privileges in the Church

It started as a small issue. It soon became a thorough-going heated exchange. In conversation with a young Catholic priest I objected to the growing separation between the clergy and the people in our small parish church. The post-Vatican II altar has been pushed ever closer to the wall. And we the people have been informed that “our place” in church is not in the ever-expanding sanctuary. I objected.



I told the young man, all snug and arrogant in his new cassock, that I have just as much a right to be in the sanctuary and close to the altar as he. “You don’t!” He shot back. “You stand close to the altar if I give you the privilege to do it!” I replied that all baptized members of the community have the right to gather around the table of the Lord and celebrate
Eucharist. “You do not have rights in the Church!” He shot back.

When I got back home I sent him information about ARCC: The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church.

ARCC is an older association that is experiencing a wonderful rebirth…and the time is ripe for such a rebirth. Please sign up for the new ARCC electronic newsletter. Sample below…..



Some of the things we’ve been reading

Exodus as pope’s Legion reform lags 

By NICOLE WINFIELD – Associated Press 

VATICAN CITY (AP) – When Pope Benedict XVI took over the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order last year, expectations were high that heads would roll over one of the greatest scandals of the 20th century Roman Catholic Church.

One year later, none of the Legion’s superiors has been held to account for facilitating the crimes of late founder Rev. Marciel Maciel, a drug addict who sexually abused his seminarians, fathered three children and created a cult-like movement within the church that damaged some of its members spiritually and emotionally.

An Associated Press tally shows that disillusioned members are leaving the movement in droves as they lose faith that the Vaticanwill push through the changes needed. The collapse of the order, once one of the most influential in the church, has broader implications for Catholicism, which is shedding members in some places
because the hierarchy covered up widespread sexual abuse by priests.

Read more

Vatican document calls for global authority to regulate markets

John Thavis      Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A Vatican document called for the gradual creation of a world political authority with broad powers to regulate financial markets and rein in
the “inequalities and distortions of capitalist development.”

The document said the current global financial crisis has revealed “selfishness, collective greed and the hoarding of goods on a great scale.” A supranational
authority, it said, is needed to place the common good at the center of international economic activity.

Read more

Full Text:   Towards Reforming the International Financial And
Monetary Systems in the Context Of Global Public Authority

Charges a clear message to church, lawyers say 

Joshua J. McElwee

In charging Bishop Robert W. Finn and the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese each with failure to report suspected child abuse, Jackson County, Mo., prosecutor Jean
Peters Baker sent a clear message to the Catholic church, and to any organization that has an obligation to protect children, say local lawyers.

Read more

Accountability in Missouri 

New York Times Editorial

 It has been seven years since the Roman Catholic Church’s investigative board of laity warned that, beyond the 700 priests dismissed for sexually abusing children, “there must be consequences” for the diocesan leaders who recycled criminal priests through unsuspecting parishes. American church authorities have done nothing to heed this caution. 

Read more

Aussie Bishops Meet Vatican on Fired Colleague

Cindy Wooden  CNS

VATICAN CITY   Australian bishops had a special meeting with top Vatican officials in mid-October to discuss the case of a bishop Pope Benedict XVI removed from
office after years of tension with a variety of Vatican offices. Cardinals Marc Ouellet, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, and William J. Levada, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, met the Australian bishops to discuss the aftermath of the removal in May of Bishop William Morris of Toowoomba.

Read more

This is just a sample from a recent electronic newsletter.

Reporting is contemporary and accurate.

No Roman style old time religion here!


for the Rights of Catholics in the  Church 



 Contact ARCC  

  SHOP or SEARCH and

Power and Sex in the Catholic Church


Last week after reading yet more news item about Dominique Strauss-Kahn and his alledged sexcapades and yet more updates about ongoing sexual abuse and episcopal coverups in the Church, I began to reflect on Jesus of Nazareth and Gospel teaching about sex.

From the Gospels it seems clear to me that sex becomes a problem when power becomes a problem.

The Gospels deal very little with sexual concerns. The Gospels are much more concerned with power issues.

In the Church — practice and teaching — sex becomes a central theme when authority and power escalate in importance.

Clearly Jesus of Nazareth resisted power as a defining characteristic of his life. 

Unlike the Church that evolved after him, sex was not of utmost significance in the preaching of Jesus of Nazareth.

Jesus rejected power for himself in the religious and secular categories of his day.

                     Jesus did not want to be king.

                     He did not take up the sword to defend himself.

                     Jesus told Pontius Pilate he had no interest in the political power of this world.

                    Jesus, as a faith-filled Jewish man, kept a distance from priesthood, wealth, and institutional religious power.

If the Reign of God is deep within us, institutional and ecclesiastical power are not needed. When love is the sign of discipleship, hierarchy slips to marginal importance. And if we are judged by how we treat one another, compassion becomes our lifestyle not dominance.

Jesus understood this in the matter of divorce. In his day, Jewish law and custom defined a married woman as property. Divorce, in Jesus’ day, was an exclusively male prerogative of power over a woman who was juridically the man’s possession.

Matthew and Paul understood the main point Jesus was making. They wrote exceptions into the earlier absolute prohibition of divorce found in Mark.

Adultery in Jesus’ perspective was less a sexual and more a property and power issue.

Today’s Church sees divorce — and marriage! –as an essentially sexual issue. Marriage is not permanent until the couple have sexual relations. A second marriage after divorce is permitted provided there is no rexual relationship in the second marrage!

Perhaps our Church will never  come to grips with its ongoing 

SEX problem until it confronts its

POWER problem.

It is not surprising that the papacy — modeled on the Roman emperor model — tends to use power absolutely and narrowly….and therefore it gives the Church such enept sexual teaching.  And bishops — modeled on little papal emperors — are so inept at dealing with sexual issues.

Maybe we need our own WALL Street type demonstrators…………

For New Season: 1950s Re-Runs

On the first Sunday of Advent we begin a new liturgical year. Ordinarily a new year means we move forward with new hopes, new expectations, new visions, new projects, etc.

This year we already know our Church leaders are rushing backwards not forward. They are pushing us back into a 1950s style Catholic Church. When people want living bread, they are being force-fed rough-edged old stones.


In today’s Catholic Church, it is 1950s Catholic re-runs.

In mid-September the Diocese of Phoenix  announced that it will issue new norms specifying the conditions under which Holy Communion may be distributed under both species. What this means is: “it may be offered to a Catholic couple at their wedding Mass, to first communicants and their family members, confirmation candidates and their sponsors, as well as deacons, non-concelebrating priests, servers and seminarians at any Mass….” And what this means of course is that Communion under both forms for non-ordained Catholics was a temporary experiment. The experiment is over.

In August Bishop Olmsted had also mandated that there be no altar girls in his cathedral. He hopes the practice of only male altar servers will spread across the diocese.

The Church after all — it appears —  is not the People of God, nor a community of men and women. It is a clergy run male dominant institution.

And now we learn that Bishop Robert Morlino up in Madison is following the example set by his episcopal colleague Bishop Thomas Olmsted in Phoenix.

Bishop Morlino stressing a “need for reverence,” has asked priests to move in the direction of giving Communion “only in the form of the Host and not the Precious Blood.” Lay people you see are not reverent because they are not reverends. The cup is for the reverends.

Morlino also warns against the “excessive use” of laypeople distributing Eucharist “because it could obscure the role of the priest or deacon.” Bingo! Laypeople obscure a clergy-dominated church.

What a way to get into the new liturgical year! And don’t forget the new “translation” for Eucharistic liturgies. Hardly a translation. It is Latinized gobbledygook. More rough edged stones when people are starving for bread.

Funny…….Jesus had no problems with women. St. Paul said in the Church we are one body and “neither male nor female.”

What I find most surprising however is the way the Most Reverends Olmstead and Morlino have forgotten what Jesus said at the Last Supper.

Jesus said, remember, “Take and eat….Take and drink…..Do this in memory of me.”


Coming soon to a church near you…..

1950s Catholic Re-Runs

Archbishop Steven Paul Jobs

What if Steve Jobs had been an archbishop? 

My thoughts this week are neither eulogy nor a canonization of  Steve Jobs.

Rather a meditation about contemporary leadership styles.

A few days before the death of  “Mr. Apple,” New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan, the  “American Pope,” sent a letter to President Obama. That letter which I see as more a Dolan diatribe than an invititation to genuine dialogue, warned the President about the dire consequences of his domestic leadership, perceived by Dolan as anti-religious, anti-family, and anti-marriage……. (More about that in a future post.)



Dolan’s letter reminded me that the New York Archbishop is firm about certain Catholic “non negotiables.” Some things he has often said can never change: opposition to birth control, opposition to abortion, opposition to same-sex marriage, opposition to women priests.

Then we all learned, of course, about the death of Steve Jobs. I picked up my iPad and started reading bits and pieces of Jobs biography and testimony’s by friends and colleagues.

Then it hit me:

What if our bishops had the same kind of leadership skills as Steve Jobs?

What if they were open-minded contemporary thinkers like Mr. Jobs?

What if they could dream about tomorrow like Steve Jobs, rather than dream about yesterday like the Pope?

Then I came across this Steve Jobs quotation:

 “Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Steven Paul Jobs (1955 – 2011)

Steve Jobs was a demanding perfectionist. He continually aspired to position his business and his products at the forefront of the information technology industry by foreseeing and setting trends. He summed up that self-concept at the end of his keynote speech at the Macworld Conference and Expo in January 2007, by quoting ice hockey legend Wayne Gretzky:

“There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love:  ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’

And we’ve always tried to do that at Apple.”  

Next time I see Tim Dolan I will encourage him to meditate on Jobs and  Gretzky — along with Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John…….

For Cost-Conscious Bishops : Autumn Fashions

With over 50 million Americans living in poverty

A Reflection on What it Costs to Dress a Bishop


Start with the miter, a pointy hat the bishop wears whenever he does rituals.  He should have two kinds for a pontifical high mass: a precious and plain gold.

Under the miter he wears a zucchetto, a little purple beanie.

Moving on we start with the bottom layer….a purple cassock with a matching sash.  Although bishops get to wear black cassocks with purple trim, the proper one for saying Mass is the purple one.

Around his neck he wears a pectoral cross with a special braided cord.

Over the cassock for mass he starts with an amice, a rectangular  piece of linen, a remnant of a hood.  Then comes the alb, the long white robe.  The bishops gets to wear ones trimmed with lace at the cuffs and at the bottom half.  The cincture is a braided rope worn around the waist, sort of like a belt. 

The stole is worn around the neck and extends down below the waist.  It matches the outer vestment in color and material.  On the right arm he wears a maniple, a narrow strip of the same material as the stole.  It looks like the napkin a waiter has over his arm.

Next comes the tunic, the outer vestment proper to the subdeacon.  Over that he wears a dalmatic which is identical in basic style and cut but which has a distinguishing bar that differentiates it from the tunic .  This is the outer vestment proper to the deacon.  The bishop wears both because he has the “fullness of the holy orders.”

Finally the top garment is the chasuble, the vestment proper to the celebrant of the Mass.

A sampling of prices for the basic outfit:

This lovely hat is a bargain at $20,000

But then in cost-conscious days it might be better to buy this one for only $10,000.  I made the picture larger to encourage buying this one…..

For the penny-pinching bishop you can get a zuchetto for about $30. This one costs $60.

      This zuchetto is my favorite. Colorful, light-weight, and you can wash and spin-dry.

Another good buy is this smart-looking cassock for just over $800. (tax and shipping not included).

Under the cassock of course you should have episcopal socks and episcopal slippers……I guess bishops wear normal underwear.

These socks which every bishop must have are only $320. If you buy more than one pair, you get a discount.

They go nicely with these slippers…….guaranteed to make no embarrassing noise in processions. These are a steal at $1500 and they last just about forever…..They do need to be aired-out after long services.

If you are a cardinal, you should have a simple cardinal’s hat for colorful walks outside…a delightful view in autumn visits to the forest. 

This one — I would love to have one if I were a cardinal — comes to $800. But again, if you don’t wear it in the rain it will last for years!


Well you do  have to have a ring. This humble-looking one is about $300 in cheap silver and $1800 in episcopal gold.

Then you must have a pectoral cross. Here there is a great range of prices. My favorite is this one. In sterling it is just under $1000 but heck if you made it to bishop why not go gold all the way. This one in gold is now just $5000.

I will not wear you out with more clothes and accessories. BUT….you have to have a cozier!

Here you can get a simple-looking cheap one for about $600. But they look VERY CHEAP.

When it comes to croziers — traditionalist that I am — I prefer the neo-con look. This one is about $3000.

Well friends, this is enough for this week. I have my catalog and adding machine next to me

and just realized that when Cardinal Raymond Burke (nothing unkind meant here)  dresses-up for a Pontifical High Mass

it costs about $30,000 to outfit him……… But on the other hand, plain old bishops are much less expensive…….

Next week back to the serious stuff…………