From the blog coordinator:
The International movement website has someone updating full time. Access to the new link:

Pope Benedict XVI - Resignation

This link will take you to several articles in the National Catholic Reporter which they are updating all the time :

The following post is from an email message to IMWAC Council today - 7th March 2013. [sender's name below]. The video is in Spanish but the gist of it is below.  The reason  that Hugo Chavez is in the news is because he died this week after a battle with cancer.  Also included is a link to a brief biography.

Hugo Chavez sends a message to the Catholic Church
         Video ( 11.01.2008) Link

Short Synthesis

«... The Reverend Nuncio is here. The Catholic Church must think about it: you have a criminal there in the Nunciature, a criminal, Reverend Nuncio, you have him over there, protected by the Catholic Church. Think about it!! Hand over that criminal to the Tribunals, to the Venezuelan authorities, instead of holding graduations and I do not know how many other things there! What a huge shame for our Church to allow such shows!! Think about it, gentlemen.»

«Here we are all human beings! Enough of this that they are sent by God to Earth. No! The voice of the People is the voice of God on Earth!! That is the true God... the People!!»

«... with all due respect to the Vatican State and to the head of the Vatican State, the Pope. He is not, for the love of God!, the ambassador of Christ on Earth, as they say ... that... what is that nonsense about ambassador of Christ!? Christ does not need ambassadors... Christ is in the people and in those of us who struggle for justice and for the liberation of the poor!!»

«... I see over there the Apostolic Nuncio of His Holiness, I greeted him, he is over there. As I said to you, Reverend Nuncio... We do not deserve a Cardinal such as this! This people deserves another Cardinal! The people deserve the respect of the leaders of the Catholic Church. That gentleman (who was part of the coup d'etat) does not deserve to be a Cardinal of the Catholic Church...»

«...and you, Reverend Nuncio, you can tell His Holiness, send him a message; that as long as we have this kind of bishop here, sadly, we feel very distant from the Catholic ecclesiastic hierarchy. We could only wish... aah!, but we stand with the curates of the people, the priests of the neighborhood, the curates... the true fathers. Then, the battle has ended.»

«...How about that, no? Someone who is a Catholic... I was an altar boy. My Mother wanted me to be a priest, Monsignor... And for me to be a curate like Father Numa.»

Enrique Orellana
Movimiento Tambien Somos Iglesia

The Tablet

Latest News

Cardinals ‘are asking to see secret VatiLeaks dossier'
5 March 2013 

Click here

A Missionary's view of Church Today

My take on the resignation of Benedict XVI and possibilities for church reform

I personally believe that this resignation is the best thing Benedict could do for the church.  It offers at least a chance for some reform and renewal.

Why?  The Vatican curia has hundreds of people working there, many dozens have some decision-making authority.  John Paul II had no previous experience of the Vatican and was more interested in his travels than in administration of this bureaucracy.  Benedict is primarily a theologian with no great administrative capacity, but with a strong ideological bent.  Together the two have badly failed the Church under the administrative aspect.  The Vatican curia has some good people; it also has a lot of "careerists" jockeying for position and trying to prove themselves important. 

For roughly 35 years there has been no proper supervision of these people. e.g., the new liturgical translation is the bitter fruit of curial people jockeying for power over the bishops' conferences, in my opinion -- this took place during the last years of JP II when his health did not permit him to follow what was going on.

Even if JP II had been healthy he would have found it difficult to deal well with this power struggle because his interest was primarily in being an international evangelical "superstar".

Benedict saw what happened during the last years of JP II.  From the time of his election he has said that there could be situations where he would resign for the good of the church.  Benedict has little administrative capacity.  He is old, not very well -- his health has visibly declined lately -- and he does not have the energy needed to reign in the curial infighting.  The Vatican desperately needs a pope with administrative capacity and the energy and strength to reign in the careerists and bring about some structural and attitudinal reform.  The Codes of Canon Law of 1917 and of 1983 [the latter the work of JP II and Ratzinger] clearly foresee the possibility of the pope resigning.  At least ten popes have resigned in the past, among them Pontianus in the first centuries.

Benedict may also be discouraged by a series of scandals that he has witnessed but does not have the energy to deal with.  Benedict may have naively thought that good teaching alone could bring about reform.  Under both JP II [the worst in this regard] and Benedict there have been serious financial scandals involving Vatican financial institutions.  Benedict banished from the Vatican Archbishop Vigano who attempted to expose corruption and bring about financial reforms.  JP II protected Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado, the founder of the Legionaries of Christ and an incorrigible sexual abuser -- he abused at least 20 of his own seminarians and had children by several women -- who donated huge sums of money to the Vatican; he was JP II's companion on several of his trips.  Benedict did punish Maciel after JP II died. 

The sexual abuse scandals -- in which Benedict could also be tainted from his brief time as Archbishop of Munich - have revealed huge deficiencies with the hierarchy in very many countries -- bishops who were mostly appointed by JP II because they were considered "safe doctrinally". 

JP II, with Ratzinger at his side, dangerously weakened the local churches by centralizing all important decision-making and appointing what seem to be mostly "yes men", incapable of leading in the face of so many heavy challenges in the world.
Recently there have been many allegations of infighting within the Vatican curia; e.g., the pope's personal valet leaked documents in a failed attempt to force the pope to deal with some of these situations.  Over this past week there have been [unproven but somewhat credible] allegations of [homo]sexual immorality on the part of high level Vatican officials, resulting in blackmail.  Benedict apparently does not have the energy to deal adequately with these situations.  It is not going to be easy to deal with them. 

The people in the Curia are entrenched and can be expected to resist any real reforms.

Moreover, JP II and Benedict have refused to allow the bishops to address many issues, such as sexuality issues, married clergy, the participation of women and of laity in the decision-making structures of the church, rapidly declining church membership in the West [Europe and USA] and declining numbers of clergy and religious in the same areas.
Whatever position one takes on the issues themselves, it seems clear to me that the whole church needs to deal with them.  JP II and Benedict tried to deal with them by papal decree, forbidding even the bishops to discuss some topics, etc.

The end of the Catholic Church?  Hardly!  But hopefully the beginning of the end of an "imperial" structure of the institutional church that has woefully distorted what the Church is meant to be.  After the Edict of Milan [Constantine about 312 AD], the persecutions stopped, Christianity became the state religion, the bishop of Rome [there was as yet no "pope" as we know him] moved into the emperor's palace [the Lateran] and began to dress, speak and act like the emperor.  Over many centuries the church was transformed from a community movement into a kind of empire, in imitation of the Roman Empire.  Although at first there were good intentions and the bishops of Rome undertook a lot of civil services to the benefit of society, eventually this imperial approach led to incredible abuses in the Middle Ages when popes and bishops were "nobles" and were more concerned with power and wealth and military conquest than with pastoral care.  That is also the period in which church officials condoned -- and sometimes ordered directly -- the killing of "heretics" and "witches", instigated wars, etc. 

Over the last century and more there have been some moral reforms -- the popes themselves and most of the bishops have been decent people who tried, whatever their weaknesses -- but the structure of the church remained imperial and the laity, religious [especially religious women], lower clergy, etc.  were excluded from participation in church decision-making.  Their experiences and insights were denigrated in favor of ideological positions. 

The Vatican gradually over many centuries, culminating with Vatican I and the Code of Canon Law of 1917, arrogated to itself the right to choose and appoint all bishops of the Latin Rite.  Originally the choice of bishops was in the hands of the local churches, although traditionally the approval of the bishop of Rome was sought -- at least after the first centuries.

Vatican II tried to partially reform the structure, calling for collegial governance in which the world's bishops would have a larger role, together with the pope; and the curia would have less power over the bishops.

JP II, with Ratzinger at his side, kept the nomenclature of the Vatican II reforms, but basically emptied "collegiality" of all real content and meaning. 

JP II centralized decision-making in the church even more, and yet did not have control of his curia through which he "ruled" the church.

JP II reduced the bishops, who theologically are his equals as members of the college of apostles, into minor vice-presidents of a multi-national empire/corporation whom he could move around, depose, etc.  at will.  In doing this he enormously weakened the capacity of local churches to deal with rapidly changing realities and he did everything possible to keep them from addressing some issues.  [e.g., he tried to stop the Latin American bishops from addressing many social issues, even as he used some of their language like "preferential option for the poor"].

I remember the dynamic leadership of the USA bishops in the decades following Vatican II in addressing social issues, and I saw how that leadership evaporated as JP II increasingly appointed safe "yes men".  For example, compare Cardinal Bernadin's "seamless garment" approach to life issues and the present almost exclusive focus of the USCCB on abortion, birth-control an euthanasia [valid issues in themselves] while neglecting, at least relatively, US militarism and grossly exaggerated military expenditures, perpetual war, endemic violence against women, gun violence, the incarceration rates of minority youth, global climate change, threats to the social safety net, the growing disparity between rich and poor in the USA and the desperate circumstances of the working poor, etc.

I believe that JP II and Benedict together bear an enormous responsibility for the sad state of affairs that the global church is in.  I am happy that Benedict chose to resign; I see it as a partial answer to my prayers for reform of the church.  I recognize the courage and humility that it took for him to do this and I applaud him for that; it may just be the best thing he has ever done, and a great precedent.  

Bishops are required to retire at 75; at 80 cardinals lose the right to vote for a new pope in a conclave.  Why should the pope remain in office until he dies, and meanwhile the church suffers from a vacuum of leadership at the top?

JP II set a very bad example by clinging to his position when he was in declining health and unable to govern the Vatican curia… think Mugabe in Zimbabwe or countless other "presidents-for-life".

JP II meant well; he wanted to show the world how to die with dignity and trust in God -- and perhaps he partly accomplished that.  But in his last years the curial careerists ran amuck and created untenable situations in their lust for power and control over others.

I blame Benedict for rushing the beatification of JP II, ignoring the financial and other scandals that took place under his pontificate.

Whether JP II was personally holy is not for me to judge, but I do not consider him to have been a good model for future popes - the process of canonization is meant to give us models, not just to honour a person.

With all the present cardinal-electors having been appointed by JP II and Benedict, there is little hope for a thorough reform -- unless the Holy Spirit actually gets a say this time.  All the same, Benedict's resignation gives the church a chance to move somewhat in the direction of a more collegial church.

Many of the cardinals recognize the necessity of addressing the scandals, of reigning in the Curial infighting and careerism, of decentralizing authority structures, at least to some extent.  I do not believe that there can be a great deal of reform now, but if some reform takes place now, maybe some time in the future after I am gone there will be a deeper reform.

I am happy to be a priest and religious.  I am happy to try to help people get to know and love Jesus Christ, happy to announce the Good News.  I am basically happy with being a Missionary, with all our faults and failings, because all of us have a voice; my superiors may not always agree with me but I know that they will listen to me and I have direct access at all times.  But for many decades I have been immensely saddened and sometimes deeply distressed and depressed by what I saw in the abuse of the hierarchical structure of the church and in the exclusion of most people from all meaningful participation in decision-making.

People at a great distance make decisions and those affected by the decisions have no direct means of giving feedback to those who make the decisions.  Bishops are afraid to carry the opinions of the faithful to the Vatican so they don't want to hear about from the laity or even from their priests.

Normally one cannot talk about this much.  Less informed lay people are scandalized.  Some bishops are vindictive.  I trust that [the reader is] too mature and [has had enough] experience with institutions of various kinds to be scandalized.  The church is made up of saints and sinners.  We have had immense numbers of dedicated saints who loved God and people and unselfishly put themselves at the service of others; that includes, bishops, priests and religious.  Most of saints among the laity go unrecognized, but they are there.

Unfortunately the church has also had some great sinners who were primarily concerned about their own power and status, and a very large number of mediocre sinners who simply fail to live the Gospel to any great extent.  That the Church has survived for roughly 2000 years means, I think, that the saints have greater "weight" on the scales than the sinners.  The saints are full of life and love; the sinners in varying degrees are relatively "empty".  And God is present in the church, working to bring about reform, drawing people into freely given loving service, etc. 

I suspect that the "visible" church will get much smaller in proportion to the world population.  The great German Jesuit Karl Rahner saw it coming decades ago.  Too many people are disappointed with what happens in the church; they do not receive the spiritual nourishment that they need.  They see entrenched resistance to calls for reform.  And some people are seduced by the world's "cultures of death" as JP II correctly named it.  Not everything is wrong with the modern world but a lot of what is going on is deadly.  On a physical or material level, global climate change that results from the abuse and overuse of natural resources, especially fossil fuels, will manifest how deadly it is.  But many aspects of our cultures are deadly for the heart and soul as well.  These are manifested by unimaginable violence, especially vs women and children [e.g., child rape, the Booysens horror in RSA], endless war, the ever growing gap between those at the top and the poor, etc.

The Gospel has answers.  The hierarchy of the church sometimes makes good points but they are losing the moral authority to persuade people.  I think the church will survive in the form of smaller, less structured communities - with the risk of repeating the fragmentation of some of the Protestant churches but also with the possibility of more authentically living the Gospel.  The hierarchy could have rendered enormous service to the church but all too often they have been a "millstone" around our neck.

February 2013

Benedict's Act of Humility

Now It's Rome's Turn
Joseph A. Komonchak
March 03, 2013

The Tablet

From the editor’s desk

Reform dominates the agenda

2 March 2013
It would be entirely understandable if Benedict XVI wanted “business as usual” signs to go up at the Vatican as soon as possible after his retirement, and for the new man in charge to carry on the good work of the old though perhaps with extra energy. What is emerging is something rather different – a growing groundswell of conviction, apparently at all levels in the Catholic Church, that things cannot go on as they are.

The Tablet

Frank talk

Selecting a pope – the process Austen Ivereigh - 2 March 2013

The period prior to the conclave is crucial for cardinal electors to discuss the central issues facing the Church and to help them determine who would best address them as pope. A former senior aide to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor recalls past pre-conclave meetings and how influential they have been

The Tablet Blog

A lesson from Africa

James Roberts
1 March 2013, 9:00

Are the lamps going out over the Church?

Catholicism is under increasing threat in a fast changing world

Allwyn Fernandes, Mumbai, India
1st March 2013

The Church now has no pope and Italy has no government. There is a vacuum in both. There is also a deeper vacuum at the heart of Europe itself, a concern about its own identity and survival. The term “white man’s burden” applies no more.

Read More

Update on conclave start date

By John L. Allen Jr. 1st March 2013

We now know that the first meeting of the General Congregation, which brings together all the cardinals during the run-up to the conclave, is set for 9:30 a.m. Monday in Rome. In a break with practice from the last time around, the cardinals will also go back into the General Congregation on Monday afternoon.

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Vatican's looming 'Inquisition' reveals a fractured Catholic Church

Jason Berry February 28, 2013 09:01
As Pope Benedict XVI steps down and briefly leaves an empty seat, a conflict over spiritual mission and real estate will pause to await the next pope.

The Vatican is stuck in a monarchical past

Analysis by Tom Roberts on in NCR on 27th February 2013

A coincidental confluence of monarchical events occurred in 2005, during the period between the death of Pope John Paul II and the election of Benedict XVI.

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Op-Ed Contributor

A Vatican Spring? 

Published: February 27, 2013

Read the article

NCR's Phyllis Sigano on 27th February 2012

The media is not the message :

Click here

Sent: 25 February 2013 06:10 PM
Subject: {Update from South Africa}

Dear All

In South Africa we responded to the Pope's resignation by emailing the Bishops' Conference to propose that they send a letter to be read at Sunday Mass in all parishes. The letter should describe the main challenges facing the new Pope (in their view), and would ask for comment from the laity, including what the laity view as the desired qualities for a Pope at this time. I ended my email by saying that this exercise in dialogue would help our South African Cardinal, Wilfrid Napier, know "the mind of the faithful". Cardinal Napier replied, but appeared to misunderstand my proposal, so I spelled out in my reply examples of the challenges facing the new Pope, such as

Growing numbers of Catholics, especially thinking Catholics and the youth, leaving the church (and I believe this will happen sooner or later in Africa and Asia). Many thinking Catholics, if given the opportunity to submit their comments on this, would say that lack of real dialogue in the church, clericalism, a legalistic and unloving attitude by church authorities, and reluctance to bring the church into the 21st century are some of the reasons for this
  • realistic and sustainable options to address the dwindling number of priests universally (not just closing parishes)
  • the centralisation of authority in the church (and consequent disempowerment of bishops and the laity)
  • how to treat women like first class and not second class members of the church
  • hot moral issues like premarital sex, divorce and remarriage, and gay marriage
  • social issues like violence, poverty and war
I also suggested some desirable qualities in the new Pope:

  • Should have had significant pastoral experience (and not just as a young priest)
  • should have experience of diverse cultures
  • should prioritise an attitude of service, not power
  • should not prioritise personal status and material effects
  • should be strong enough to stand up to internal and external pressure
Although the Cardinal terminated the correspondence after the second round of emails, we feel that it was an achievement to get him to respond at all.

The following is copied from the message to IMWAC Council because Mary Ann has done all the PT:

From: Mary Ann Hain <>
Date: 2013/2/25
Subject: [IMWAC-english] US Catholics divided on direction of new Pope

Monday, February 25, 2013

Pew Report: U.S. Catholics Divided On Church's Direction Under New Pope

AMERICA> Tim Reidy | Feb 22 2013 - 3:03pm - | 7 comments> In All Things

This just in from the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life: Washington, D.C.- As the pontificate of Benedict XVI winds down, many American Catholics express a desire for change, according to
-Direction-Under-New-Pope.aspx> new survey report by the Pew Research Center. For example, most Catholics say it would be good if the next pope
allows priests to marry. And fully six-in-ten Catholics say it would be good if the next pope hails from a developing region like South America, Asia or Africa.

At the same time, many Catholics also express appreciation for the traditions of the Roman Catholic Church. While about half of U.S. Catholics (46%) say the next pope should "move the church in new directions," the other half (51%) say the new pope should "maintain the traditional positions of the church." And among Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week, nearly two-thirds (63%) want the next pope to maintain the church's traditional positions.

These are among the key findings of a new report by the Pew Research Center's Forum on Religion & Public Life based on two national surveys conducted Feb. 13-18 among 1,504 adults (including 304 Catholics) and Feb. 14-17 among 1,003 adults (including 212 Catholics). The report also finds that nine-in-ten U.S. Catholics have heard a lot (60%) or at least a little (30%) about Benedict's resignation. Just one-in-ten Catholics say they have heard nothing at all about his resignation.

Additional findings include:

Favorability ratings of the pope. Three-quarters of U.S. Catholics (74%) express a favorable view of the pope. Benedict's ratings among Catholics now stand about where they were in March 2008 (just before his U.S. visit) and are lower than they were in April 2008, when 83% of U.S. Catholics expressed favorable views of him. Benedict's predecessor, Pope John Paul II, was rated favorably by upwards of 90% of U.S. Catholics in three separate Pew Research polls in the 1980s and 1990s.

Benedict's handling of the sex abuse scandal. U.S. Catholics voice dissatisfaction with Benedict's handling of the sex abuse scandal in the church. Among Catholics who say they followed news of the pontiff's resignation, nearly two-thirds (63%) think he has done a poor or "only fair" job of addressing the sex abuse scandal, while 33% give him excellent or good ratings for his handling of the issue. U.S. Catholics are more negative in their views on this question now than in 2008; immediately following the pope's 2008 visit to the U.S., 49% gave Benedict good or excellent ratings for his handling of this issue.

Benedict's handling of interfaith relations. Benedict gets better marks for his handling of interfaith relations; 55% of U.S. Catholics say he has done a good or excellent job promoting relations with other religions, while 37% say he has done a poor or "only fair" job in this area. Catholics are also more negative in their views on this question now than in 2008, when 70% said he was doing a good or excellent job promoting interfaith relations.

Maintain traditional positions or move in new directions? Among U.S. Catholics who say they attend Mass at least once a week, nearly two-thirds (63%) say the new pope should maintain the traditional positions of the church, while about one-third (35%) say the new pope should move the church in new directions. By contrast, among those who attend Mass less often, 54% say the next pope should move in new directions while 42% prefer to maintain the church's traditional positions.

New directions Catholics would like to see the church go. In response to an open-ended question, about one-in-five U.S. Catholics who think the next pope should move the church in new directions say simply that the church should become more modern (19%). And 15% want the next pope to do more to end sex abuse in the church and punish the priests involved. In addition, upwards of one-in-five mention issues regarding the priesthood, including 14% who say priests should be allowed to marry and 9% who say women should be allowed to serve in the priesthood. Others mention a desire to see the church become more accepting and open in general (14%), and an additional 9% say they want to see the church become more accepting of homosexuality and gay marriage in particular. Of Catholics who want a pope who will move the church in new directions, 7% specifically mention birth control, mainly indicating a desire for a lessening of the church's opposition to the use of contraception.

The full
-Direction-Under-New-Pope; report is available on the Pew Forum's> website. For additional information on related topics, see Pew's; Resources on Catholicism and the Pope.  

 The Tablet Blog

Benedict XVI's resignation is on a par with John XXIII calling the Council

Sebastian Gomes, guest contributor
22 February 2013, 9:00
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Andrew Brown's Blog on the newspaper posted on 22nd February 2013

Why Cardinal Turkson of Ghana won't be the next pope :  

Click here

How the Church elects a new pope

The Tablet 

21 February 2013, 9:00

{This article presents lots of pictures and I suspect the content is what we awakened Catholics do not want to see i.e. business as usual with no voice from grassroots.} Personal comment by R Gravenor

  Now it seems that we have expressions of what 'we' want to see in the future from the Pray Tell blog:

Bishops Want Next Pope to Reform Church Governance

21st February, 2013 
Click here

Pope Benedict XVI’s leaked documents show fractured Vatican full of rivalries

By Jason Horowitz, Published: February 17

VATICAN CITY — Guests at the going-away party for Carlo Maria Viganò couldn’t understand why the archbishop looked so forlorn. Pope Benedict XVI had appointed Viganò ambassador to the United States, a plum post where he would settle into a stately mansion on Massachusetts Avenue, across the street from the vice president’s residence.

“He went through the ordeal making it very clear he was unhappy with it,” said 
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Pope Benedict XVI's Most Powerful Gift to the Church

Posted: 15/02/2013 12:09 pm

Sister Joan Chittister, OSB ~~ Catholic Visionary
Click here

Why resignation may mean a conclave open to change

By John L. Allen Jr. ~~ 13th February 2012

For some time to come, people will ponder the significance of Pope Benedict XVI's stunning decision Monday to renounce his papacy. Ecclesiologists will debate its meaning for understanding the papal office, while spiritual writers may explore its potential as a case study in graceful withdrawal and letting go.

In the here and now, however, the most burning question is what it means for the politics of electing the next pope.

The Tablet Blog

Papal resignation: we should have seen it coming

Abigail Frymann
12 February 2013, 9:00

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Q and A on Benedict's bombshell

By John L. Allen Jr. - 12th February 2013

When you're talking about a church with more than 2,000 years of history, you don't get a chance to use terms such as "uncharted waters" very often, but that's precisely where Catholicism finds itself in the wake of Benedict XVI's bombshell announcement that he plans to resign Feb. 28.

Read More

With two weeks left, what will Benedict do?

Joshua J. McElwee  | 

A Comment on Pope Benedict's Resignation

by Matthew Fox  - 12th February 2013

 In many regards my Good Bye salute to Pope Benedict XVI is to be found in my book, "The Pope's War: How Ratzinger's Crusade Imperiled the Church and How It Can Be Saved" where I put the past 42 years of the papacy in perspective. There I catalogue his unenvious track record of killing of theology and silencing of 105 theologians. History will remember Benedict for bringing back the Inquisition and emasculating the great Christ-like movement of Liberation Theology and for ignoring for decades the facts of priestly pedophilia. After all the buck stopped at his desk as head of CDF and he was apparently too busy to address that horrible reality since he was so preoccupied with playing the 20th century Torquemada and hounding theologians smarter, more generous, more creative and more brilliant than himself in order to shut them up.

The lack of conscience in the Yes men he and JPII appointed to positions of decision making means that no Catholic should be holding their breath expecting the Holy Spirit to elect a decent leader. The church as we know it is finished and that is a blessing in itself. The Holy Spirit expects us to move beyond Imperial Religion to the essence of Jesus' teachings: Do it to the least and you do it to me.

People are speculating whether the HBO documentary that finally laid out the horrors of Ratzinger's neglect around priestly pedophilia is what finally did him in. One would hope so. That plus the sordid news emanating from the Los Angeles diocese where he deliberately chose an Opus Dei bishop to head that largest diocese in the world thus revealing for all to see where his ecclesial philosophy truly lies: In a secret and fascist organization that holds power not only in the church but in great swaths of the American media, the Supreme Court and more today.

Time to move from religion to spirituality. Especially creation spirituality which nourishes our mystical AND prophetic souls for carrying on the work of peace and justice in our time.

Pope Benedict leaves behind legacy full of ups and downs

By John L. Allen Jr. ~~ 11th February 2013

John Paul II used to be known as the pope of surprises, forever doing things Roman pontiffs simply hadn't done before. With the election of Benedict XVI, many believed the era of papal novelties had drawn to a close, since Benedict has always been a man of tradition and the main lines of his papacy were fairly predictable from the theological and cultural concerns he had expressed over a long public life.

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There are many articles and comments internationally.  The New York Times has a section dedicated historically to the Catholic Church. The reader will find a surfeit of comments and opinions on this latest news {and more}: 
Click here

 This is a journalist I have read for more than ten years and I know him to be one with great integrity. The latest scandal re gay prostitutes is being responded to by him. I publish the whole article received in an email message via IMWAC and it WAC USA branch:

Thoughts on the Vatican's 'gay lobby'

John L. Allen Jr.  | Feb. 22, 2013 National Catholic Reporter

I've received numerous requests to comment on the sensational story in an Italian newspaper Thursday suggesting the existence of a shadowy "gay lobby" in the Vatican, linking it to the prospect of blackmail and
suggesting that such dark forces may have factored into Benedict XVI's decision to resign.

For what it's worth, I'll lay out my initial reaction here.

First of all, the paper that carried the story, La Repubblica, is not a scandal sheet. It's the largest circulation daily in the country, with a center-left editorial stance. It's sometimes critical of the church, but it's not the National Enquirer. What makes the piece slightly hard to evaluate is that it was written by a journalist named Concita De Gregorio, who's not among La Repubblica's usual stable of Vatican writers. (Sometimes Italian papers will let somebody else author stories likely to ruffle feathers in the Vatican so their regular beat reporters don't have to face the fallout.)

As a rule of thumb, one should usually take unsourced speculation with a grain of salt, especially in the Italian papers. As I'm fond of saying, God love 'em, Italians have never seen a conspiracy theory they're not prepared to believe.

In terms of the story's specifics, I don't know whether it's accurate that a commission of three cardinals created by Benedict XVI to investigate the Vatican leaks affair, composed of Cardinals Julian Herranz Casado, Jozef Tomko and Salvatore De Giorgi, actually considered possible networks inside the Vatican based on sexual preference, but frankly, it would be a little surprising if they hadn't.

Here's why. In 2007, Msgr. Thomas Stenico in the Congregation for Clergy was suspended after being caught on hidden camera making contact with a young man posing as a potential "date" in gay-oriented chat rooms, then taking him back to his Vatican apartment. In 2010, a "Gentlemen of the Pope" named Angelo Balducci was caught in a wiretap trying to arrange sexual hookups through a Nigerian member of a Vatican choir. Both episodes were highly public and caused massive embarrassment.

In that context, it would seem odd if the cardinals didn't at least consider the possibility that somebody with a big secret to hide might be vulnerable to pressure to leak documents or spill the beans in other ways.

It also doesn't stretch credulity to believe there are still people in the system leading a double life, not just in terms of their sexual preference and activities, but possibly in other ways as well -- in terms of their
financial interests, for example. Whether they form self-conscious cabals is open to question, but they may well naturally identify with each other, and it's not out of the realm of possibility that trying to chart such networks was part of what the three cardinals tried to do.

Among many cardinals, it's become a fixed point of faith that the Vatican is long overdue for a serious housecleaning, and certainly the furor unleashed by the La Repubblica piece is likely to strengthen that

Another news report Friday suggested Benedict XVI may authorize sharing the three cardinals' report with the other members of the college to help guide their deliberations about what, and who, the church needs to move forward. However, it's probably a stretch to draw a straight line between all of this and Benedict's resignation. For the most part, one has to take the pope at his word: He's stepping aside because he's old and tired, not because of any particular crisis.

That said, I don't believe you can completely discount the cumulative impact of the various meltdowns over the last eight years on Benedict's state of mind. Read Benedict's anguished letter to the bishops of the world
back in 2009, at the peak of the frenzy over the lifting of the excommunication of a Holocaust-denying bishop, and it's crystal clear he was both pained by the criticism it generated and frustrated the Vatican
hadn't handled the whole thing more effectively.

If you want to understand why Benedict is tired, in other words, part of it is because he knows that putting things right inside the Vatican will take a tremendous investment of administrative energy, which he doesn't feel he can supply, and which probably isn't in his skill set in any event. No, Benedict didn't quit under the pressure of a "gay lobby." But the perceived disarray in the Vatican, which may well be one part perception
and one part reality, probably made resignation look even better.

Go to Catholic Herald for latest

Some of the first reports on the resignation: 

These are reports that are perhaps worthwhile reading:

The first is an Opinion article in the New York Times by the author of the play Doubt which was subsequently made into a movie with Meryl Streep.

The Roman Catholic Church, which in so many ways has been a great boon to the City of New York, has been choked and bludgeoned into insignificance by a small group of men based in Italy.

Priests cannot marry. Why? I will tell you why. Priests cannot marry because they would have to marry women. Women cannot be priests.

Why? Women cannot become priests because of a bunch of old men. These old men justify their beliefs with a brace of ridiculous arguments that Jesus would have overturned in a minute. “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” What about that is hard to understand? If you can become a priest, I can become a priest. Period. Equality.

Benedict has not been idle. He has put in place a lot of other old guys who have no interest in sharing power with anyone outside the club. The last pope we had who showed signs of spiritual vision was John XXIII. That was a long time ago. He had humility and a good heart. These more recent appointments have been disheartening in the extreme.

When I was a kid at St. Anthony’s in the Bronx (one of the schools that the archdiocese of New York is now closing), there were boxes for the poor. The people of the East Bronx worked hard and made little. Everybody put money in those boxes. I put money in those boxes. As far as I’m concerned, that money was stolen.

I have watched the wealth of the Catholic Church turned into a subsidy for wrongdoing and a prop for the continuing campaign against women’s rights and homosexuality. Neighborhood churches, built with the hard-earned money of working-class people, are being sold off. The sacrifices that were made to build these churches were significant and local. The decision to close them has been made antiseptically, by remote control. The men who make these decisions are at a remove, very much involved in protecting their power and comfort.

I have little reason to hope that the Church of Rome will suddenly realize that without women, the Catholic Church is doomed, and should be doomed. I think of those good nuns who educated me, of their lifelong devotion and sacrifice. They have been treated like cattle by a crowd of domineering fools. In Benedict, the Catholic Church got the pope it deserved. I can only hope, for the sake of my parents, who loved the church so much, that a miracle of divine grace alters the writing on the wall. If not, the Catholic Church will suffer the fate it deserves.
John Patrick Shanley is the author of “Doubt” and other plays.

Legion of Christ's deception, unearthed in new documents, indicates wider cover-up

By Jason Berry 
Newly released documents in a Rhode Island lawsuit show that the scandal-tarred Legion of Christ shielded information on their founder's sex life from a wealthy widow who donated $30 million over two decades.

From Vatican website:

Dear Brothers,

I have convoked you to this Consistory, not only for the three canonizations, but also to communicate to you a decision of great importance for the life of the Church. After having repeatedly examined my conscience before God, I have come to the certainty that my strengths, due to an advanced age, are no longer suited to an adequate exercise of the Petrine ministry. I am well aware that this ministry, due to its essential spiritual nature, must be carried out not only with words and deeds, but no less with prayer and suffering. However, in today’s world, subject to so many rapid changes and shaken by questions of deep relevance for the life of faith, in order to govern the bark of Saint Peter and proclaim the Gospel, both strength of mind and body are necessary, strength which in the last few months, has deteriorated in me to the extent that I have had to recognize my incapacity to adequately fulfill the ministry entrusted to me. For this reason, and well aware of the seriousness of this act, with full freedom I declare that I renounce the ministry of Bishop of Rome, Successor of Saint Peter, entrusted to me by the Cardinals on 19 April 2005, in such a way, that as from 28 February 2013, at 20:00 hours, the See of Rome, the See of Saint Peter, will be vacant and a Conclave to elect the new Supreme Pontiff will have to be convoked by those whose competence it is.

Dear Brothers, I thank you most sincerely for all the love and work with which you have supported me in my ministry and I ask pardon for all my defects. And now, let us entrust the Holy Church to the care of Our Supreme Pastor, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and implore his holy Mother Mary, so that she may assist the Cardinal Fathers with her maternal solicitude, in electing a new Supreme Pontiff. With regard to myself, I wish to also devotedly serve the Holy Church of God in the future through a life dedicated to prayer.

From the Vatican, 10 February 2013