Pope Francis has announced that nineteen new cardinals will get their red hats on February 22, 2014. As John Allen pointed out in NCR, several new cardinals from the “periphery” are a break from the past.

Bishop Chibly Langlois will become the first cardinal from poverty-bound Haiti. Pope Francis has ignored the old Vatican tradition that if the Caribbean was to have a cardinal, the red hat would go to one of the region’s three Catholic powerhouses — Cuba, Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic. More noteworthy: Langlois’ diocese of Les Cayes Haiti is NOT one of the two archdioceses in Haiti. Langlois represents an option for the periphery even within his own country.

In the pope’s letter to the new cardinals, we see a new focus as well. The days of red-packaged old men processing around grandly in Renaissance splendor are on the way out:

“The cardinalship does not imply promotion; it is neither an honor nor a decoration; it is simply a service that requires you to broaden your gaze and open your hearts. And, although this may appear paradoxical, the ability to look further and to love more universally with greater intensity may be acquired only by following the same path of the Lord: the path of self-effacement and humility, taking on the role of a servant. Therefore I ask you, please, to receive this designation with a simple and humble heart. And, while you must do so with pleasure and joy, ensure that this sentiment is far from any expression of worldliness or from any form of celebration contrary to the evangelical spirit of austerity, sobriety and poverty.”

In Seattle, Washington, Catholic high school students protesting the firing of a popular gay teacher have already made their Catholic reform imprint as well.

Students at Eastside Catholic High School have led protests recently over the departure of vice principal and swimming coach Mark Zmuda. The school and Zmuda have disputed the details about his departure. Zmuda said he was fired. The school says he resigned after acknowledging that his same-sex marriage violated Catholic teaching and therefore the terms of his contract.

Students held a second day of protests in the Seattle suburb just before Christmas and have launched an online campaign urging the Roman Catholic Church to retreat from its opposition to same-sex marriage. The growing Catholic student protest also received strong support from Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray, who is a practicing Catholic and long-partnered gay.  Murray married husband Michael Shiosaki at St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral last summer.

Students from Eastside Catholic have now linked up with students from other Catholic secondary schools and have sent a message to the Archdiocese of Seattle: We are not going away, and we are taking our protest to a new level. Switching to social media in a big way, Eastside students plan to organize, nationwide, a  “Z-Day” on January 31st to protest the forced resignation of Mark Zmuda.

“We encourage students, at Catholic schools or otherwise, as well as any other impassioned individuals, to proudly wear the color orange [the Eastside school color, JAD] on that day. In so doing, we will be showing solidarity with Mark Zmuda, as well as expressing our hopes for an enlightened perspective on issues of sexuality in the Catholic Church….We firmly believe that the decision to marry, or not marry, should never preclude any otherwise qualified individual from working at the school,” said the students’ statement.  “When Pope Francis opines that the Church is big enough for homosexuals, one would hope Catholic institutions begin to reflect those sentiments…..The Gospel compels us to demonstrate compassion and love in all our actions, and Mark Zmuda has always done just that.”

And in Pope Benedict’s Germany, Roman Catholic theologians are calling for theological and institutional change as well.

Well known and highly respected German theologians have strongly outlined how contemporary Catholic Church teaching does not align with the concerns and lifestyles of most European Catholics, responding to a Vatican questionnaire on Catholic attitudes about issues like contraception and same-sex marriage. Current Roman Catholic Church teaching about human sexuality, say representatives from both the Association of German Moral Theologians and the Conference of German-speaking Pastoral Theologians, comes from an idealized reality and needs a fundamental and new evaluation.

“It becomes painfully obvious that Christian moral teaching that limits sexuality to the context of marriage cannot look closely enough at the many forms of sexuality outside of marriage,” say the 17 signers of the statement. The German theologians propose that the Catholic Church adopt an entirely new paradigm for its sexual teachings.

And finally………

The Diocese of Stockton, California intends to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection this week in Sacramento Federal Court, after more than six months of discussing the possibility with its members. Bishop Stephen Blaire said two days ago that the diocese’s financial difficulties (due to sexual abuse legal settlements) can only be resolved by filing for bankruptcy protection.

And the NEW YEAR has just begun………:-)


6 thoughts on “The Church of Rome: The Shake-up Continues

  1. Congratulations to the young people of Seattle for their courage in supporting their teacher.

    Regrettably even down under the institutional church continues to exclude people on the basis of bigoted ideology. People who “support” civil unions in a secular form are vilified and excluded from participating in the mass.

    Australian church leaders do not have the fortitude of the Seattle students to oppose the temple police. I can only hope that Francis will again bring the joy back to the church,.

    Peter from Brisbane Australia.

  2. Since both the school & the teacher both admit that it was the marriage of the teacher that led to his dismissal, what does that say about Church teaching —
    “Marriage is more immoral & scandalous than just shacking up?”

  3. Didn’t Thomas Aquinas say that masturbation was more evil than adultery because it was less natural? Correct me if I am wrong Jack.

    1. Thomas Aquinas was a thirteenth century theologian and thinker operating with a thirteenth century understanding of reality, strongly influenced by Aristotle who lived a good thousand years before him. Like Aristotle, from the fourth century BCE, Thomas also believed that only the male seed carried life. Following Aristotle’s assessment, he also judged women as having less intelligence and being weak in character.

      We today have not only a different understanding than Thomas had but a better understanding.




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