Video: Pacem in Terris at 50

Here’s a great 3-minute video on Pacem in Terris, the encyclical written by Pope John XXIII. What does it mean 50 years later? It includes quotes from John Carr, Bryan Hehir, Maryanne Cusimano Love, Meghan Clarke, Gerry Powers, and Peter Turkson.

Thanks to Dennis Sadowski and Chaz Muth over at Catholic News Service for putting it together.  Find out more here.

5 Things to Read for Thinking Catholics

“It is not that the Gospel has changed, it is that we have begun to understand it better … the moment has come to discern the signs of the times, to seize the opportunity to look far ahead.”Pope John XXIII

On Oct. 11, 1962, Pope John XXIII (“Good Pope John”) opened the Second Vatican Council. As American Catholics look at where we’ve been and where we want Vatican II to take us in the future, I offer this reading list below.

We are at a time ripe with conversion and energy around new ways to be Catholic that are vital for our world today. While current Vatican leadership is practicing “Curial conservatism,” fleeing backwards into the dimming halls of time, the laity continue to lean forward into “aggiornamento,” as Pope John XXIII put it, updating the modes of our faith to match the desperate needs in our world. We are taking up the Resurrection banner and carrying it forward into a world in need of the sacramental life Catholicism has to offer.

Here are 5 articles and books that are important reading for today’s Vatican II Catholics:

1. Survival Guide for Thinking Catholics by Tom Reese, SJ
Not all Catholics agree with the Church all the time, and Tom Reese, S.J., will tell you there is no point in denying it. Questioning is not, however, something most Catholics undertake lightly. These disagreements are often born out of conscience, of genuinely believing in the faith while believing equally something that is at odds with the accepted teachings of the Church. Reese, the former editor of the Jesuit weekly magazine America, delivered this lecture in 2006 at Santa Clara University, outlining his strategies for Catholics who think, question, doubt, debate, and disagree. I hear he’s working on turning it into a book.

2. The final interview with Jesuit Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who died in August 2012. Corriere della Sera published the original interview on Sept. 1 and Commonweal offered this translation. Martini says that the Catholic Church is 200 years behind the times and called for it to recognize its mistakes and embark on a radical journey of change. He says the wealthy Church in Europe and America is worn-out. “Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous.” He calls for the sacraments to be a channel for healing, “not a tool for discipline.” Cardinal Martini’s short reflections remind us that there is a prophetic tradition in the church that still functions at the highest levels, even when it is obscured.

3. Navigating the Shifts by Sr. Pat Farrell, osf. This is Sr. Pat’s address to the Leadership Conference of Women Religious assembly in 2012. She cogently outlines where some of the fault lines are in contemporary Catholicism, what is the American genius that we offer to the universal church, and how to move forward with disciplined wisdom. I think these are the nonviolent “marching orders” for the American Catholic liberation movement.

4. Consider Jesus: Waves of Renewal in Christology by Elizabeth A. Johnson, CSJ. On the rare occasions when I meet up with leading Catholic writers and thinkers, I always try to ask one question: Who is doing the most important biblical or theological work right now? More often than not they give me one name: Elizabeth Johnson. A member of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Brentwood, New York, Beth Johnson is Distinguished Professor of Theology at Fordham University. Consider Jesus is a short, very accessible introduction to the critical theological questions of our time and why some theological questions are important to engage for our spiritual maturity.

5. Prophets In Their Own Country: Women Religious Bearing Witness to the Gospel in a Troubled Church by Sandra Schneiders, IHM. Based on her brilliant series of articles published in The National Catholic Reporter, these reflections on religious life were inspired by the Vatican’s announcement of an “Apostolic Visitation” of U.S. women religious from 2009-2011. Schneiders articulates anew the meaning of religious life, the biblical theology underlying it, the reasons for the renewal undertaken after Vatican II, and the forms of apostolic religious life that have developed since. While this book addresses an issue for Catholic women’s communities in the U.S., it is addressed to all Vatican II Catholics. She begins to frame a new form of ministry within the Catholic church–one not based on “monastic/apostolic mission” but instead on “prophetic ministry.”

What else would you add?
*Pacem in Terris, Pope John’s masterpiece encyclical
*The Good Pope by Greg Tobin — easy-to-read history of John XXIII and his work to call and open the second Vatican Council before his death from stomach cancer.

3 Books in 3 Years: Reclaiming Vatican II

John XXIII speaks during Second Vatican Council.
Between 2012 and 2015, Catholic worldwide will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council. (For a quick catch-up on Vatican II read Critical Mass by Karen Sue Smith (Sojourners magazine, Jan. 2012).

In a recent review in UK-based The Tablet, history professor Hilmar Pabel puts a challenge to all Catholics to read three Vatican II-related books over the next three years — and he lists his suggestions:

1. The 16 Documents of the Council
2. What Happened at Vatican II by John O’Malley
3. Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning by Massimo Faggioli

It’s a tricky assignment – but you’ve got three years! It’s a lovely bit of leadership for book groups or prayer groups or Catholic activists or JustFaith groups or anyone who wants to ground themselves in the invigorating vision of the Second Vatican Council and its profound effect around the world. Here’s a short excerpt from Hilmar Pabel’s review:

“I shall go beyond the reviewer’s usual brief of assessment by beginning with a challenge. You have celebrated the holy Triduum of salvation. Now embark on a solemn triennium in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the renaissance of faith instigated by the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).

Celebrate the anniversary of what Blessed John Paul II called “a great grace bestowed on the Church in the twentieth century” (Novo Millennio Ineunte, 57) with a triple reading assignment, but not necessarily in the order that I give. Take three years if you need them. First, read the 16 documents of the council. If you have already read them, read them again, reflecting on the way in which they affect you today. Secondly, read a history of the ­council. I recommend the fascinating account, now in paperback, by John O’Malley: What Happened at Vatican II. Thirdly, read about the reception of the council or, in other words, the ongoing and disputed history of the council after it formally closed. This is what Massimo Faggioli calls “what happened after Vatican II”. His book serves as a comprehensive and accessible guide through the complex debates about the meaning of the council that will whet your appetite for more. Use the bibliography to find what else you can read… –from Hilmar Pabel‘s review of Vatican II: The Battle for Meaning by Massimo Faggioli

Read Hilmar Pabel’s full review.

Good Pope John and the Announcement that Shook the World

The National Catholic Reporter is running an “occasional series of articles about the Second Vatican Council” that will appear this year in NCR leading up to 50th anniversary of the council’s opening on Oct. 11, 2012. (You can read more about the Second Vatican Council anniversary issue here.)

Desmond Fisher, former editor of The Catholic Herald, London, wrote the first of these “viewpoint” articles, titled Curial horror greeted John XXIII’s announcement of ecumenical council. It gives great insight into just how surprising–and necessary–John XXIII’s council vision was. As we celebrate these three years of the 50th anniversary of Vatican II, I hope we will immerse ourselves again in John XXIII’s original vision and spirit and let our faith be renewed.

Here’s an excerpt from Fisher’s engaging opening:

Wednesday, the Catholic church should have celebrated — but didn’t — an important anniversary, the day 53 years ago when Pope John XXIII invited 18 Curia cardinals to accompany him to a ceremony at St. Paul Outside the Walls. It was the feast day of St. Paul, who is believed to have been executed in Rome about 67 A.D. and buried where the basilica named after him now stands.

It was also the final day of the Octave for Christian Unity, an objective close to the pope’s heart. Presumably because of the attendance of so many Vatican higher-ups, the ceremony lasted longer than usual. The result was that the content of the carefully timed announcement the pope made to the cardinals had been released to the media before the cardinals were told.

Read the whole article.

Do You Say to a Sister “Goodbye. Be Healthy”?

paxchristilogoHere’s a shout out to Patrick Mahon for sending me his current post on Health Care and Gospel Values.

Pat blogs for Pax Christi South, a web site for two Pax Christi groups—the Berrigan Peace and Justice Community at St. William Church in Murphy, NC, and its mission, Immaculate Heart of Mary in Hayesville, NC. Pat is a leading nonviolence teacher and retreat leader. He and his wife Joan live in Georgia.

I really like his paraphrase from the epistle of James. Check it out:

The readings for this Sunday offer further thoughts for reflection. Let’s paraphrase James 2:15-16:

If a brother or sister is unable to secure affordable and adequate health care and one of you says to him/her, “Goodbye. Be healthy!” without giving him/her access to health care, what good does that do?

As Christians we always face the struggle of discerning, espousing and working for Christian values. Pope John XXIII made the Christian value explicit when it comes to health care. It is the right of every American. Period! End the debate! Now let’s find out how to make it a reality.

Read Pat Mahon’s whole post here.