Advent 2011: Reform Manifesto

In the United States, on this first weekend in Advent, Catholics are confronted with a changed Eucharistic liturgy. It has been imposed on them by a church leadership day-dreaming about the 1950s. One cannot call this changed liturgy a translation. It is Latinized English gobbledygook masquerading a reactionary and regressive ecclesiology.

Across the North Atlantic, in little Belgium, Catholics on this first weekend in Advent, have issued a pointed, earnest, and urgent Church Reform Manifesto. We have had enough fumbling around in the church, the Belgians are saying.

Last week, four Belgian priests launched the Manifesto. Today five thousand publicly active Belgians have joined the movement. Close to five hundred are now joining each day.

An English translation of the Manifesto appears below.

Happy Advent: There is Hope


Believers Speak Out

Parishes without a priest, Eucharist at inappropriate hours, worship without communion: that really should not be! What is delaying the needed Church reform? We, Flemish believers, ask our bishops to the break impasse in which we are locked. We do this in solidarity with fellow believers in Austria, Ireland, and many other countries, with all who insist reform on vital for Church reform.

We simply do not understand why the leadership in our local communities (e.g. parishes) is not entrusted to men or women, married or unmarried, professionals or volunteers, who already have the necessary training. We need dedicated pastors!

We do not understand why these our fellow believers cannot preside at Sunday liturgical celebrations. In every active community we need liturgical ministers!

We do not understand why, in communities where no priest is available, a Word service cannot also include a Communion service.

We do not understand why skilled laypeople and well-formed religious educators cannot preach. We need the Word of God!

We do not understand why those believers who, with very good will, have remarried after a divorce must be denied Communion. They should be welcomed as worthy believers. Fortunately there are some places where this is happening.

We also demand that, as quickly as possible, both married men and women be admitted to the priesthood. We, people of faith, desperately need them now!


Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Another Voice Friends

A very brief note. My very best wishes as we celebrate yet another Thanksgiving.

A great American holiday that touches me deeply with memories of family members going back 60+ years….parents…grandparents…so many aunts and uncles and so many cousins playng and throwing snowballs in Michigan Thanksgiving snow!

Even with the economic crisis and our depressing political situation (do any politcians have balls these days?)…….we have much to be greatful for. In Amercan society…and in the church.

In the church, however, it is now very clear to me:

Are we followeers of Jesus of Nazareth?
Are we followers of Jesus of Rome?

Happy Thanksgving!

John Greenleaf

Church Activism: Ten Commandments

After Much Talk

It Really is Time to Act!

Mike Davis who teaches at the University of California, Riverside, is the author of “Planet of Slums”, among many other works. He’s currently writing a book about employment, global warming, and urban reconstruction for Metropolitan Books. Today I am posting his TEN COMMANDMENTS for activists, because they apply to church reformers as well!

First, the categorical imperative is to organize or rather to facilitate other peoples’ self-organization. Catalyst is good, but organization is better.

Second, leadership must be temporary and subject to recall. The job of a good organizer, as it was often said in the civil rights movement, is to organize herself out of a job, not to become indispensable.

Third, protesters must subvert the media’s constant tendency toward metonymy — the designation of the whole by a part, the group by an individual. (Consider how bizarre it is, for instance, that we have “Martin Luther King Day” rather than “Civil Rights Movement Day.”) Spokespeople should regularly be rotated and when necessary, shot.

Fourth, the same warning applies to the relationship between a movement and individuals who participate as an organized bloc. I very much believe in the necessity of an organic revolutionary left, but groups can only claim authenticity if they give priority to building the struggle and keep no secret agenda from other participants.

Fifth, as we learned the hard way in the 1960s, consensual democracy is not identical to participatory democracy. For affinity groups and communes, consensus decision-making may work admirably, but for any large or long-term protest, some form of representative democracy is essential to allow the broadest and most equal participation. The devil, as always, is in the details: ensuring that any delegate can be recalled, formalizing rights of political minorities, guaranteeing affirmative representation, and so on.

Sixth, an “organizing strategy” is not only a plan for enlarging participation in protest but also a concept for aligning protest with the constituencies that bear the brunt of exploitation and oppression. For example, one of the most brilliant strategic moves of the Black liberation movement in the late 1960s was to take the struggle inside the auto plants in Detroit to form the League of Revolutionary Black Workers.

Seventh, building movements that are genuinely inclusive of unemployed and poor people requires infrastructures to provide for basic survival needs like food, shelter, and healthcare. To enable lives of struggle we must create sharing collectives and redistribute our own resources toward young frontline fighters.

Eighth, the future of the Occupy movement will be determined less by the numbers in Liberty Park (although its survival is a sine qua non of the future) than by the boots on the ground in Dayton, Cheyenne, Omaha, and El Paso. The geographical spread of the protests in many cases equals a diversifying involvement of people of color and trade unionists.

Ninth, the increasing participation of unions in Occupy protests — including the dramatic mobilization that forced the NYPD to temporarily back down from its attempt to evict OWC — is mutually transformative and raises the hope that the uprising can become a genuine class struggle. Yet at the same time, we should remember that union leaderships, in their majority, remain hopelessly committed to a disastrous marriage with the Democratic Party, as well as to unprincipled inter-union wars that have squandered much of the promise of a new beginning for labor.

Tenth, one of the simplest but most abiding lessons from dissident generations past is the need to speak in the vernacular. The moral urgency of change acquires its greatest grandeur when expressed in a shared language. Indeed the greatest radical voices — Tom Paine, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglas, Gene Debs, Upton Sinclair, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, and Mario Savio — have always known how to appeal to Americans in the powerful, familiar words of their major traditions of conscience.


New York’ Archbishop Timothy Dolan has issued a strong directive about same-sex marriage in his archdiocese.

Clergy and Church employees may not participate in the solemnization of a civil same-sex “marriage,” nor may the property and facilities of the Catholic Church in the Archdiocese of New York be used for such events, Archbishop Timothy Dolan said in his recent decree.

“Jesus Christ affirmed the privileged place of marriage in human and Christian society by raising this union to the dignity of a sacrament when entered into by two baptized persons,” the archbishop said in his Oct. 18 decree. “Consequently, the Church has the authority and the serious obligation to affirm the authentic teaching on marriage and to preserve and foster the supremely sacred value of the married state.”

Archbishop Dolan further stated that no member of the clergy incardinated or assisting in his archdiocese, or any person acting as an employee of the Church, may participate in “the civil solemnization or celebration of a same-sex ‘marriage.’” This covers just about all human activity since it includes providing: “services, accommodations, advantages, facilities, goods or privileges for such events.”

Under the New York Archbishops’s decree, no Catholic facility or property, such as parishes, missions, chapels, meeting halls or any place dedicated, consecrated or used for Catholic worship may be used for the solemnization or consecration of same-sex “marriages.” No Catholic educational, health or charitable institutions or benevolent orders may be used for such purposes.


As a traditional Roman Catholic theologian, i.e. a theologian well-grounded in Catholic teaching and tradition, I have some concerns.

(1) The Archbishop needs remedial theological education. The historical Jesus DID NOT raise hetero-sexual marriage to the level of a sacrament. In fact the Roman Catholic Church itself DID NOT recognize such a marriage as a sacrament until the eleventh century.

(2) I don’t mind archbishops making statements about marriage. I do mind their making statements that are patently ignorant and incorrect.

(3) The Archbishop will impose serious “sanctions” on anyone who defies his decree. I wonder if this is really the most effective way to behave as an adult in an adult church.

(4) And why such immediate vehemence?

(5) Is the Archbishop gearing up for the next (conservative Catholic anti-Obama) presidential campaign?

Cardinal Law : In Praise of Folly

Banned in Boston

Party Boy in Rome

VATICAN CITY — (As reported in the Boston Herald on 5 November 2011) Cardinal Bernard Law was treated to a lavish birthday party, the company of high ranking clerics and even the music of a mariachi band in a four-star Italian hotel. Bernard Law’s guests rolled up in Vatican Mercedes sedans and left singing the praises of the fallen prelate, promoted to his Vatican post after decades of covering up clergy sex abuse back home in Boston….

With a pair of guards in colorful threads standing sentry at the gate, Cardinal Law and his old boys’ club wined and dined at the Al Chiostro restaurant in the four-star Palazzo Rospigliosi hotel facing the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where Law serves as a humble archpriest.

Beyond the gate, a cobblestone path led to the airy courtyard, where two banquet tables offered dozens of bottles of vino and meat-stuffed pastry d’oeuvres. Inside, a mariachi band played and sang the well-known ranchero refrain, “Cielito Lindo,” as guests devoured a main course of lasagna and snacked on cheese, tomatoes, vegetables and fine prosciutto, piled in a pyramid and placed on a pedestal. The party drew high clergy and laymen alike; guests sat six to a table. Not exactly a re-enactment of the Boston Tea Party.

Nor of the Last Supper……

“The meal was spectacular,” said Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of the Archdiocese of Rome. He twirled his hand in the air, a common Italian gesture for satisfaction. He said Law appeared to enjoy the feast as well…. The resplendent reception that marked Cardinal Law’s 80th birthday sent shock waves an ocean away in Boston, where the mere mention of his name still sparks seething anger in clergy abuse victims whose attackers he protected during his years as archbishop.

Meanwhile back in the United States….

Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, a retired auxiliary bishop of Detroit, has revealed for the first time yesterday details about his removal as a parish pastor in 2007. When he challenged his fellow bishops about their  handling of sexual abuse, he was quickly removed as pastor of his parish by the Vatican. The Vatican told Gumbleton he had broken the “communio episcoporum”: the communion of bishops. In layperson’s terms: he dared to break free from the old boys’ club party line. “We’re all supposed to be together, think together, talk together, you know, one voice,” said Sumbleton. “You know, how can that be? You’re a church of human beings; you can’t be.”

Gumbleton knows first-hand what sexual abuse is about and how bishops have coverd it up for years. He was also a victim of sexual abuse.

The Association for the Rights of Catholics in the Church (ARCC, founded 1980)

will present its 2011 Hans Küng Rights of Catholics in the Church Award to Bishop Thomas Gumbleton

at the BWI Best Western, Friday, November 11, 2011, at 7:30 P.M.

Best Western Hotel

6755 Dorsey Road, Elkridge Maryland

Register TODAY to attend the Bishop Gumbleton Award event in Baltimore.