The Institutional Church
LIVING THE CATHOLIC FAITH IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM
A LAYMAN'S LOOK AT THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

The Institutional Church

A LISTENING CHURCH  
How does the center of institutional authority — in the Catholic Church, the papacy and the Vatican—allow dialogue within a global, decentralized, talk-back culture? The answer is: with great difficulty.
A LISTENING CHURCH AND AN EMPOWERED LAITY 
Pope Francis speaks of bishops as leaders who should sometimes go ahead of their flock, sometimes simply walk among them, and sometimes fall in at the rear and be led by those seeking new paths.
FLIRTING WITH SCHISM 
The people behind this attempt to force Francis to resign are a small minority of Catholics in the United States; they do not reflect Francis’s relationship with the whole U.S. church, much less the Catholic Church globally.
FRANCIS'S "UNPREDICTABILITY" CONFUSING TO THE AVERAGE CATHOLIC? 
We’re already a week into 2015, but even several days before consigning the old year to the annals of Vatican history Pope Francis indicated that the new year was likely to be full of surprises.
IT'S TIME FOR OUR BISHOPS TO THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX ABOUT EFFECTIVE PASTORAL LEADERSHIP 
True pastoral leadership notices, encourages and trusts the work of the Spirit in the heart of each believer for the building up of God's reign in our world.
VATICAN WARNS CATHOLIC BLOGS CREATE "CESSPOOL OF HATRED" 
Although Pope Francis has succeeded in rebranding the public profile of the Church his positive tone isn’t always reflected when Catholics themselves take to the use of social media.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? - PART I 
Making sense of two millennia of relatively untouchable and unassailable top-down power requires a short cut. Singling out those popes known as 'Great' will suffice.
WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH? - PART II 
Jesus had founded a community of and for the poor, yet most of its top leaders were wallowing with the wealthy or in personal wealth.
WHERE ARE THE PRIESTS OF VATICAN II? 
40 years later -- concerned about a Vatican II vision of church and yearning for a community with the same hopes and dreams for justice and peace.
WHOSE ROME? 
The Catholic opposition to Pope Francis is headquartered in the United States. It is a minority within the U.S. Church, but it is well organized. Its main intellectual organ is First Things, its episcopal leader Archbishop Chaput.
WHY THE CHURCH CAN'T CHANGE - OR CAN IT? 
While church leaders themselves can sometimes talk favorably about a structure that is leaner, the question for all of us is what may be lost if there is no longer a distinctive Catholic identity.
SCHISM OR EVOLUTION? 
The concerted efforts to oust Pope Francis are deeply tied to the perverted crisis of abuse embedded in ecclesiastical power structures.
WHY DO SOME CATHOLICS FEAR CHANGE? 
There are striking parallels between the ultramontanist thinkers and authors of the 19th century - the century of Vatican I - and those that could be named the 'new ultramontanists' of today.
THE PILGRIM CHURCH REVIVED UNDER POPE FRANCIS 
A call for a renewed engagement in the world, not on the basis of suspicion and an endless, numbing critique of cultures, but on the basis of love and an evangelical zeal.
VATICAN REORGANIZATION WOULD BE 'DECISIVE SHIFT' 
Pope Francis' advisory Council of Cardinals has suggested that the pontiff reorganize the Vatican to make a 'decisive shift' toward putting the city-state at the service of local Catholic dioceses around the world.
CLERICALISM 
If clericalism looms large in today’s church, it has had centuries to grow strong. David Timbs traces the roots of clericalism back to the end of the Apostolic age, at the end of the first century.
I CAN'T GET THE INSTITUTIONAL CHURCH OUT OF MY SYSTEM 
For centuries, the official church, consciously or subconsciously, focused on the religious education of children and zeroed in on adults with little developed spiritual maturity.
LET'S TALK ABOUT AUTHORITY 
The relation of the papacy to the bishops, considered as a collective, has been a hot topic for Catholicism on and off since at least the fourteenth century.
THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S EUPHEMIZATION OF POWER 
Although, as the Second Vatican Council affirmed, the church comprises the whole People of God — the laity and the ordained — in practice, the church is structured by inequality that is sanctioned and consecrated by priestly ordination.
CONFRONTING A SINFUL CHURCH  
Talk of a holy Church without an accompanying “sinful” descriptor, especially in times like our own, can provoke profound cognitive dissonance among the faithful.
THE CHALLENGE AND DILEMMA FACING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S LEADERS 
"Salvation" is NOT some game of demonstrating how many laws, rules and dogmas we can recite; or how many cross-my-heart-and-hope-to-die promises we make over our lifetimes...
CLERICAL IDENTITY CRISIS: FLOCK AND PASTURE CAN'T TELL SHEPHERD WHO HE IS 
Hierarchical culture is the gold carrot for those predisposed to its allurements. In its crassest forms it not only seems unbreakable but comes with a breathtaking lack of shame...
SIXTH YEAR MAY GO DOWN AS THE MOST DECISIVE IN FRANCIS' PAPACY 
The pope invites us to a different way of being a Christian church in which the new evangelization is no longer tied up with technological, still less managerial, questions, as too often happened here in the U.S. under John Paul II and Benedict XV.
BISHOPS MUST LOOK WITHIN THEIR OWN CULTURE 
Clergy culture or clerical culture are quickly becoming well-worn descriptions of an entity that previously went by the more reverential term "priesthood."
THE SHALLOW INTERPRETATION OF CLERICALISM 
With roots going back over a millennium and half, the ancient clerical system has been superimposed as an anti-evangelical institution upon the lay Catholic sacrament of Orders.
HOW VIEWS ON PRIESTLY CELIBACY CHANGED IN CHRISTIAN HISTORY 
For a long time the Catholic Church struggled with its interpretation of Scriptures on priestly celibacy. It wasn’t until the 12th century that priestly celibacy became mandatory.
GERMAN BISHOPS ANNOUNCE 'SYNODAL PROCESS' ON CELIBACY, SEXUAL MORALITY 
Cardinal Reinhard Marx has announced that the Church in Germany is embarking on a "binding synodal process" to tackle the three key issues arising from the clerical abuse crisis: priestly celibacy, the teaching on sexual morality, and a reduction of clerical power.
GERMAN BISHOPS GO IT ALONE ON REFORM PROCEDURE 
While the bishops deeply appreciated celibacy how far it was always necessary for the priesthood was something 'we will find out'
THE ROLE OF POWER, CLERICALISM IN THE SEX ABUSE CRISIS 
Pope Francis has described clericalism as an attitude embraced by priests and bishops in which they see themselves as special or superior to others.
TO SERVE THE PEOPLE OF GOD: A CONVERSATION ON PRIESTHOOD AND MINISTRY  
Report from the Boston College Seminar on Priesthood and Ministry for the Contemporary Church.
THE PROBLEMATIC RISE OF ARMCHAIR THEOLOGIANS 
Inaccurate or misrepresentative interpretations of church teaching have been weaponized and used to attack those with whom one disagrees.
DUELING POPES? MAYBE 
Dueling Views in a Divided Church? Definitely - What is happening is what many of us hoped would not happen
POPE PROPOSES RADICAL SHAKEUP OF THE ROMAN CURIA 
New constitution means all work of the curia comes under a mission to evangelise, clipping wings of the powerful CDF
WHAT’S THE PROBLEM WITH WOMEN DEACONS? 
Nothing, says this scholar of women’s ordination in the early church.
‘IF EX-CATHOLIC WAS A RELIGION...’ - WHY INDEPENDENT CATHOLIC CHURCHES ARE FLOURISHING 
The clergy sex-abuse scandals, conversion to other faiths, and declining religiosity in general all play a role.
TO ADDRESS CLERGY SEX ABUSE, ADDRESS FORMATION FOR MINISTRY 
How the church forms ministers is crucial, says a new report on the clergy sex abuse crisis.
DESPITE MUCH-HYPED REFORM, NEW CURIA REMAINS A GOVERNING APPARATUS 
The Roman Curia is a power structure — a bureaucracy: making evangelization its goal will not make the Curia fit for ecclesial purpose; it will bureaucratize the Church’s missionary mandate.
POPE SAYS STUDY ON WOMEN DEACONS WAS INCONCLUSIVE 
No conclusion about whether deaconesses in the early church were "ordained" or formally "blessed..."
POWER, AND ITS APPEARANCE, IN VATICAN CURIAL REFORM 
Pope Francis is expected to approve a final draft of a new governing constitution for the Roman Curia.
THEOLOGIANS, CARDINALS DEFEND POPE’S THEOLOGY IN WAKE OF HERESY CHARGE 
Francis’s approach is elliptic, and gravitates around two permanent hearts, the heart of man and the heart of the Gospel.
WHY AMAZON SUMMIT ‘COULD CHANGE THE CHURCH FOR EVER’ 
Will the traditional link between celibacy and the priesthood be examined?
HIERARCHY AND THE NEED FOR A 'CULTURE OF VULNERABILITY' 
Vulnerability, properly understood, is precisely what members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy need to embrace as a strength.
ABOLISH THE PRIESTHOOD 
Opinion: to save the Church, Catholics must detach themselves from the clerical hierarchy — and take the faith back into their own hands.
IS POPE FRANCIS A SOCIALIST? 
Whenever Pope Francis discusses the economy, it sets off cries that the pope is a socialist or a communist. What is his vision for the economy?
IN THE VATICAN’S ‘GAME OF THRONES,’ CAN POPE FRANCIS ‘BREAK THE WHEEL’? 
Like Daenerys Targaryen, Francis has found breaking the wheel easier said than done.
AVERY DULLES ON WOMEN AND THE PRIESTHOOD (FROM 1996) 
The critics include theologians of acknowledged professional competence. Here are ten of the principal objections that are commonly raised.
CONSERVATIVES STILL RULE THE US BISHOPS' CONFERENCE 
Describing bishops is often more complicated than simply pigeonholing them as "right" or "left."
PROPOSED NEW APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION REORDERS VATICAN'S OFFICES 
Reorienting the mission of the Church's central command... officials must no longer consider themselves a "superior authority" but servants of the pope and the world's bishops.
THE HIERARCHICAL SPIRIT THAT WILL NOT DIE 
National Catholic Reporter publishes Part 2 of 2 of a posthumous essay on clerical culture from Eugene Kennedy.
BROKEN TRUST IN A BROKEN CLERICAL SYSTEM 
The current state of the priesthood and episcopacy seems to be in shambles.
DON’T ABOLISH THE PRIESTHOOD. REDEEM IT 
Another voice in the current conversation about the Roman Catholic priesthood. Very interesting comments at the end of the article, as well.
VATICAN GENDER DOCUMENT MAKES ONE THING CLEAR 
The church needs to further a dialogue about transgender individuals.
BEFORE I TAKE ON CLERICALISM, I WILL SAY: I LOVE BEING A PRIEST 
We need to change the whole culture of the priesthood and episcopacy.
THE PRIESTHOOD IS BEING CRUCIFIED ON THE CROSS OF CELIBACY 
We cannot bring about real reform of the Roman Catholic priesthood unless we do away with mandatory celibacy...
PARTISAN TWEETS, NAPA PARTIES & BISHOPS 
It’s more evidence of systemic problems at the higher levels of American Catholicism.
THE AMAZON SYNOD AND PRIESTLY CELIBACY 
Will history see the upcoming Synod as the opening step toward undermining priestly in the Western Church at large?
VILLANOVA HISTORIAN SAYS CHAPUT, CORDILEONE, AND STRICKLAND ARE ‘DEVOUT SCHISMATICS’ 
Dissent against this pope has become radicalized with schismatic instincts because this kind of political devotion is more about a partisan ideology than about the Church.
REFORM OR DISMANTLE? 
There is a danger that an indiscriminate skepticism toward institutions has blinded us to their necessity, and left them to be appropriated by people with no scruples about abusing institutional power to get their way.
MISSING THE BUS 
How the Catholic Church has failed to adapt since Vatican Council II
CARDINAL HITS BACK AT CRITICS OF PAN-AMAZON SYNOD  
Cardinal Pedro Barreto... emphasising that it will help the Church stand with exploited indigenous communities and become an effective evangelising presence.
WHEN PICKING NEW US BISHOPS, FRANCIS SHOULDN'T HESITATE TO RUFFLE FEATHERS 
Pope should fill diocese vacancies with pastors who are committed to him.
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH: WHAT HAS BEEN IS NOT WHAT NEED BE 
Can you say where in the Gospels Jesus institutes the presbyterate (priesthood) and the deaconate? Hint: nowhere.
THE PROBLEM OF CLERICALISM MAKES TRANSPARENCY IMPOSSIBLE 
It is the system in which only priest clerics judge clerics, only priest clerics wield authority, and only priest clerics promote clerics to higher offices.
DIASPORA AND THE GLOBALIZATION OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH 
How an essay by Karl Rahner 65 years ago predicted the state of today's Church and offers a path forward.
ARE YOU WEAK ENOUGH TO BE A PRIEST? 
A beautiful essay by Michael Buckley SJ, about the vocation to the priesthood that is widely used in priestly and diaconate formation around the U.S.
TACKLE CLERICALISM FIRST WHEN ATTEMPTING PRIESTHOOD REFORM 
Clericalism is so deeply engrained in our structures and way of thinking that we almost can't imagine how things could be otherwise.
SHOULD WE BE CALLING PRIESTS 'FATHER'? 
It is time for the dangers inherent in the use of ‘father’ as a form of address to be taken seriously.
CONFRONTING THE SYSTEMIC DYSFUNCTION OF CLERICALISM  
Produced by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests in collaboration with Voice of the Faithful and lay people and clergy across the nation...
POPE EXPLAINS AIM OF SYNOD, WARNS AGAINST NATIONALISM 
The upcoming Synod of Bishops on the Amazon is an "urgent" gathering, not of scientists and politicians, but for the church whose main focus in discussions will be evangelization.
SEVEN STEPS TOWARDS ENDING CLERICALISM 
A few steps that ought to be taken to make the ideal of the community of Christian communities concrete..
MARRIED PRIESTHOOD, CELIBACY, AND THE AMAZON SYNOD: AN EASTERN CATHOLIC PRIEST’S PERSPECTIVE 
The dichotomy is not between marriage and priesthood but between marriage and monasticism.
WHY PEOPLE HATE RELIGION 
The charlatans and phonies preen and punish, while those of real faith do Christ’s work among refugees.
POPE’S NEW CARDINALS REFLECT HIS VISION FOR A CHURCH OF DIALOGUE 
A priority for dialog with other religions, concern for migrants and a field hospital Church...
CATHOLIC GOVERNANCE: A CHALLENGE FOR IMPROVEMENT 
The governance of the Church is still locked into its monarchical past
WHEN PRIEST WEDS NUN 
Stories about the weddings of priests and nuns were usually presented as singular curiosities, but in hindsight...
REFORMING THE CHURCH WITH 'NO POSSIBILITY OF RETURN' 
How Pope Francis is initiating processes of Church reform that will be hard to undo.
WHY DO SOME CATHOLICS OPPOSE POPE FRANCIS? 
It is neither unusual nor surprising to encounter discord and opposition in the Catholic Church.
CONFRONTING CAUSES OF CLERICALISM: ORIGINAL SIN, INSTITUTIONAL DYNAMICS 
Clericalism is a real thing, not a myth or mirage. It is a sense of elitism and superiority among the clergy that sets them apart.
BEYOND THE US, THE TOP FIVE COUNTRIES FOR BEEFS WITH THE POPE 
Francis hardly is the first pope to generate controversy, so the mere fact of blowback is both inevitable and non-probative.
GOOD-NEWS, BAD-NEWS FOR AMERICAN RELIGIOUS LEADERS  
Results from the latest Pew Research survey on how much trust Americans have in those holding positions of power and responsibility.
HUMANIZED FRANCIS SPEAKS AS A LEADER WHOSE MOVEMENT IS FALLING APART 
Francis' blunt assertions about his opponents during his return to Rome from Africa suggest that he in particular is under worrisome stress.