Friday, November 14, 2014

"Francis gives the passport to married Eastern priests. Valid in the whole world."

Well this is pretty huge: the Holy Father has lifted most restrictions on the ministry of married Eastern Catholic priests worldwide. A decree from the Congregation for Oriental Churches was published back in June. Magister has a piece on it in his (Italian only) blog. In the US, in my understanding, married men were being admitted to presbyteral orders quite regularly, if in exception to the 1929 restriction on married men being ordained in the U.S. (which sparked a huge schism in the Ruthenian Church.), on a "case-by-case and exceptional basis," since 2008.

The document refers to Anglicanorum Coetibus (Pope Benedict XVI's 2009 historical and rather radical outreach to dissatisfied Anglicans: under those norms, married men could remain married and not only be ordained priests [a dispensation from the requirement for celibacy in the Latin Rite granted under John Paul II under the "Pastoral Provision"], but also have the rights and privileges belonging to Ordinaries -- i.e. juridical equivalents of Bishops, without the sacramental ordination into that rank of Holy Orders). It also provides a history of the restrictions in the US and the American continent of married Eastern Catholic priests.

The three modalities of exercise of the faculty to ordain married men by Eastern Churches outside their historical territory (where they already enjoy this faculty by tradition and law) outlined by "Pontificia Praecepta Pro Ecclesiis Orientalibus" are:

- in Eastern jurisdictions (Eparchies, Metroplitanates, Exarchies), the hierarchy has the right to ordain married men according to the tradition of their respective Church, but should inform in writing the local Latin bishops (where the candidate is from) and avail of any relevant information and opinion. 

- in areas without a local Eastern hierarchy, the faculty is given to the Ordinary who has their care, as long as the local Episcopal Conference is informed 

- in territories where Eastern Catholics do not have any administrative structure and where their care is directly the responsibility of the Latin hierarchy, this faculty is reserved to the Congregation for Eastern Churches which will exercise it in individual and exception cases, after having ascertained the opinion of the local Episcopal Conference.

[These are very rough and quick translations of the Italian]

The decree is dated June 14, 2014. However, this is the first I'm hearing of it -- and Magister published this blog only today. 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Latin American Catholicism

On Tuesday (Nov. 11), the Pew Forum published their report on Religion in Latin America. The news media have been picking up on this today. For anyone interested in the Church, this report is a must read.

First, the simple snapshot, which these two graphics so clearly provide:

 94% in 1910, about the same in 1970, and then an accelerating, precipitous decline. 69% of Latin Americans claim a Catholic identity in 2014. [What is it with the 1970s??]

Look at the numbers in the chart below: Argentina, down to 71% from 91%; Brazil (the largest Catholic country in the world), down to 61%, Guatemala and El Salvador, 50% and Honduras, 46% (that is a majority of Hondurans are no longer Catholic). Uruguay is at the lowest, 42%, the most secular Latin American country.

What's also fascinating is that some countries showed an increase (15% in Colombia) in the Catholic population between 1910 and 1970. But since then, every single country has lost Catholics.

The two fastest growing groups are Protestant (which would include mainline, evangelical and, most especially, Pentecostal, with all kinds of overlaps), and a full 8% of Latin Americans consider themselves religiously unaffiliated (the equivalent of "nones" in US studies.)

The Church is bleeding. Haemorrhaging. There can be no doubt about this at all.

A Catholic seminary in Macon?

Parishioner Pete Konekamp, a veteran radio journalist, shared this on Facebook earlier today. It's posted here with his permission. A fascinating tidbid of Georgia Catholic history:

[Photo courtesy Pete Konekamp]
Throwback Thursday takes a detour off the main road and deep into the woods of north Macon. There, in the woods off Forest Hill Road, is more Georgia history you never knew.

In the late 1800's, Jesuit priests operated a seminary off a street in Macon named for Pope Pius IX. Pio Nono Avenue. The seminary, originally called Pio Nono College was dedicated in 1873. 

Renamed St. Stanislaus College, it burned to the ground in 1921. With that, all traces of the seminary disappeared. Or did they? The Jesuits established a retreat site on what was then, a hundred acres of pristine Georgia woodland. The retreat had a swimming pool, a path on which to pray the Stations of the Cross and statues of the saints. Only one statue, of St. Peter, remains. It was toppled by vandals years ago and its head shattered. 

In the early 20th century, the land was purchased by North Winship, US Ambassador to South Africa. Winship lovingly preserved the site. On his death in 1965, the property fell into ruin and Winship's house was destroyed by fire. On the site there is a graffiti covered grotto, that once held a statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The grotto remains, as slowly but surely, this once beautiful piece of history fades from view. Adjacent to it, is an apartment complex. It is surrounded by houses and consumed by vegetation. There is an effort underway to save the grotto but it hasn't gained much traction.

I first wrote about the grotto 40 years ago. The only thing that's changed in all that time, is the site has continued to deteriorate. If you are so inclined, see it while you can. Fall is the best time to visit, because the vegetation has died off and the insects and snakes are in hiding.

[Photo courtesy Pete Konekamp]
Doing some digging around the Interwebs, I found a reference to a little report in the New York Times from May 3, 1874 (PDF available online for free), on the ceremony where the corner-stone was laid for Pio Nono College, saying that the college would be the largest Catholic college in the South. It describes the procession as containing the Bishop of Savannah, priests, the Mayor and councilmen and twenty five religious, civil and military organizations, and a huge crowd! I always wondered where Pio Nono Avenue (pronounced by the locals as "pie-o nono"!)  in Macon came from.

Of course the jewel of Catholic Macon is St. Joseph Church, also built by the Jesuits. [Sadly, I simply cannot picture the SJs building anything quite so beautiful today ... ]. That deserves another post, perhaps after a new visit to this stunningly beautiful church ...