Explore each of these topics for more information on what the AUSCP stands for.
Climate Crisis & Our Common Home
A Laudato Si’ Meditation on Creation
The COVID-19 pandemic is brutal proof of a truth asserted by Pope Francis: Everything is connected. Politics, the economy, health care — and our faith in a loving God — these concerns are all one. Care for the earth, our common home, is more than a political reality — although it is most certainly. Care for our common home is more than an economic reality, but again, it is that most certainly. Care for the Earth, our Common Home, is a spiritual matter. There is no simple health crisis, no single environmental problem, no problematic financial struggle, no simple political process. Everything is connected — and here on the entries and pages to follow are the hopes and dreams of the AUSCP in the spiritual realm, the political realm, the fiscally responsible realm — simply summarized in a few words: Care for our Common Home.
The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development is happy to announce a Special Laudato Si’ Anniversary Year from May 24, 2020 – May 24, 2021. We invite everyone to join us in celebration and awareness of this special year.
Climate Change and Church in the Political World Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
I write this Annual Report as the new facilitator of the combined Climate Change and Church in Political World Work Groups. Mike Allison and I were to be Cofacilitators, but Mike has had to step back because of health concerns. I have an understanding of the work the Political World WG; unfortunately, I am not totally familiar with the Climate Change WG. I hope this report properly reflects the work of the merged group.
A. Background of the two Work Groups:
- Climate Change Work Group – Their work over the last couple of years, includes promotion of Laudato Si’, Catholic Climate Covenant, Eating Choices, World Day of Prayer for Creation and much more.
- Church in the Political World Work Group – This WG had been working on a Congressional Luncheon at the June Assembly and a Public Action in downtown Baltimore that would have included short addresses on Climate Change (Crisis) and Immigration, both are issues the AUSCP is addressing during this Election Year.
B. Issues currently working on as we move ahead as the Climate Change/Church in Political World Work Group
- Homily/bulletin materials usable at the parish level – Presently collecting articles and resources; working on a circulation plan.
- Climate Change website page – Routinely adding to the website.
- September 1 World Day of Prayer for Creation – Materials being added to the website.
- The 9/1-10/4 and beyond Season of Creation Meatless Mondays – Committee will add materials to the website.
- The Challenge – One of the challenges we face as an Association is leading our membership and others to our website; there is a wealth of information available, how do we promote our website?
C. We are working with a number of other national organizations to promote the Laudato Si Care for our Common Home Campaign (LS-COCH) and have agreed to:
- Identify our constituency to promote the Campaign
- Ask our membership to reach out to priests, encouraging them be involved in the Campaign, doing so across the country (140+ dioceses represented).
- We will make this campaign a focus of our annual spring letter to all the bishops of the U.S.
D. The current virus problem is temporary; climate change is permanent; both are life issues in the election year which we need to address.
More Details about the Climate and Caring for Our Common Home
CLIMATE CHANGE MATERIALS (HOMILY, BULLETIN, GENERAL ARTICLES) FROM AUSCP Climate Change/Church in Political World Work Group
Prayer card/post card:
- WHO chief calls for united front in face of three crises: food, climate change, and pandemic influenza
- 6 lessons coronavirus can teach us about climate change | Earth Day
- Pope Francis says coronavirus could be ‘nature’s response’ to climate change
Ø “This is the time to take the decisive step, to move from using and misusing nature to contemplating it,” he said.
Ø “I believe we have to slow down our rate of production and consumption and to learn to understand and contemplate the natural world,” he said. “We need to reconnect with our real surroundings. This [the coronavirus] is the opportunity for conversion.
Ø ”The pope said he wanted a response from world leaders that focuses more on humans and the environment than the economy.
- https://laudatosiweek.org/coronavirus/Helpful suggestions; connected to Coronavirus
- Francis issues ‘urgent call’ with plans for fifth anniversary of Laudato Si Click on video in second paragraph, one minute message from Francis
- http://cms.usccb.org/issues-and-action/human-life-and-dignity/environment/ You can sign up for Daily Reflections; bulletin
- Homily Help – Season of Creation | Catholic Climate CovenantProdigal Son homily
- A homily for peace—and creationPope Francis – General homily on peace and creation
- Spirit Series (A-2020) – Let All Creation Praise
- Preaching Resources for the Season of Creation – Let All Creation Praise This has homilies for all three cycles.
- Archdiocese Care of Creation Weekly Bulletin Inserts
AUSCP Resources for Caring for Our Common Home
Our purpose is to inform members about Immigration issues and to support the efforts of the USCCB to promote and advance Comprehensive Immigration Reform through public actions and support of positive initiatives. Pete Ruggere MM is the AUSCP delegate to the USCCB Committee, Justice for Immigrants.
Immigration Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
At the AUSCP Annual Conference of 2019 in St. Louis the Immigration Work Group was formed. At the Conference the work group met and decided on six priorities concerning immigration. From these six, the Immigration Work Group developed five priorities. The first priority is to promote education, including of ourselves, on domestic and international issues of migration. This priority includes studying what is happening at the border, by the federal government, the Catholic Church and other religious bodies and reflecting on what Catholic documents have been written concerning migration. The second priority is to report on and to participate in the outreach which is taking place on a parish and diocesan wide basis. The third priority is to preach on immigrants and the current situation of migration in the United States and the world and to connect immigration with Catholic teaching concerning the dignity of all human life. The fourth priority is to advocate for justice for immigrants on the local, state and federal levels of government both by parishes and dioceses. Finally, the fifth priority is to create welcoming church communities in which immigrants and asylum seekers are welcomed, and even to the point of offering sanctuary if possible and appropriate. Over the past year the group has discussed how we are living out and how we can promote each of these priorities.
One of our members has committed to oversee the “Immigration Corner” on the AUSCP website. Members discussed actions on the border in cities such as El Paso, Texas and Brownsville, Texas. Discussion also included visits to detention centers and ICE facilities in various states. The Immigration Work Group developed a letter with documentation from Catholic teaching which requested that the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, the Bishops’ Committee on Migration and the USCCB President and Vice President include the “migrant and refugee dimension of respect for life in all of your teaching and educational materials going forward.” Bob Bonnot helped to write the final version of the letter and it was sent out on behalf of the AUSCP.
Latest Posts About Immigration
Priestly Formation and Clericalism Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
The working group on Priestly Formation finalized a document on recommendations for changes in Program of Priestly Formation, 6th edition (PPF6). These recommendations were sent to the USCCB committee working on the revision of the PPF. We sent a copy to Cardinal Tobin who was in charge of the committee; we tried unsuccessfully to have a meeting with him. The PPF was revised and a PPF6 was approved by the USCCB at their annual meeting November 12, 2019. This document still needs approval from the Vatican and we have seen no acknowledgement of that as of May, 2020. Since we have not seen the revised edition we do not know what effect if any our proposals had on the revision. We do know that our recommendations received public notice in both America magazine and the National Catholic Reporter. Louis Arceneaux had an article on the topic published and highlighted in Today’s American Catholic magazine. We also know that a group of theologians at Boston College and elsewhere worked on their own recommendations and had access to our document. Much that they included in their document reflected our own concerns. The action that we recommend is that members of AUSCP continue to advocate for ongoing improvements in the formation of clergy, particularly in terms of studies being carried out in setting of lay students, women and men, that greater involvement of women on faculties and in formation programs and that candidates be formed to serve collaboratively with other Church members and not to be seen as separate from and above other members of the Church. The document can still be found on our website.
The Clericalism working group served as a followup to the publication of the document on Clericalism that members of AUSCP published. Our task was to promote the dissemination of that document and urge that it be studied and applied in parishes, seminaries and wherever the Church is present. Copies of the document, Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism, were sent to every bishop in the United States and to seminary rectors and others involved in priestly formation. We also published a concise one page presentation of the core of the document and made it available to AUSCP and anyone interested in using it. Anecdotally, Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans conducted listening sessions with representatives of parishes on the topic of clericalism; there was also a session for the seminarians on the topic. The Archbishop of New Orleans and the Rector of the Seminary received copies of the document. The rector was urged to make use of the document in the listening sessions. Lay participants offered many suggestions regarding clericalism during these sessions. Members of our committee distributed this document to clergy and laity they judged would be interested. A group from AUSCP and two lay Friends were invited to lead the clergy of Lexington, KY in a convocation program. Due to the coronavirus, this convocation has been postponed until next year. However, work continues on that project.
Action we recommend is that members of AUSCP make use of the document in doing what you can to rid our Church of clericalism. The document can be found on our website or will be found shortly.
Louis Arceneaux, C.M.
Ben Salmon conscientiously objected to World War 1 and all war in opposition to the majority of US citizens, the US Government, and his own Roman Catholic Church. Ben’s conscience earned him lengthy imprisonment, solitary confinement and broken health. One hundred years ago, he wrote extensively on Christ’s command: “Thou shalt not kill.” His life, work and witness are chronicled on this site.
Gospel Nonviolence Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
The AUSCP Gospel Nonviolent Working Group, submitting the following 2020 report, will continue in process in 2021 and until the Parousia when violent conflict will be laid to rest. In the meantime, since the 2019 Assembly we three active members, Harry Bury, Bob Cushing and Bernie Survil, have with other AUSCP members
- Canvassed the Chicago Archdiocese with the invaluable help of AUSCP members Ken Fleck, Len Dubi and Michael Ahlstrom to build support for initiating the beatification of Ben Salmon, and then getting over 100 to preview A HIDDEN LIFE, the story of Blessed Franz Jaegerstatter, Austrian Catholic resister to an unjust war. This took place in Downtown Chicago on December 11, 2019.
- AUSCP members Bob Cushing and Bernie Survil attended the Evidentiary hearing for The Kings Bay Plowshares 7 nuclear resisters and then their trial in September, 2019 in Brunswick, GA, coincidently the scene of the recent murder of a young black jogger.
- Since December, 2019 to the present, initiated a conversation with the over 90 AUSCP members who either list Gospel nonviolence as an issue for them, or who had endorsed the above-mentioned petition to Cardinal Cupich regarding Ben Salmon. Two Zoom conferences have been attended by up to 33 AUSCP members and FRIENDS.
AUSCP members Simon Carian and John Haegle took upon themselves the task to draw up concrete ways the Working Group can move forward with recommendations to the AUSCP Leadership Team. AUSCP member Neil Pezzulo’s experience as a member of The Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM), Justice & Peace Committee, was part of the discerning as well as comments from DOZENS of AUSCP members. The final document tilted “ARTISANS OF PEACE” has been entrusted to the AUSCP Leadership Team. A minority report To Artisans of Peace from some GNV Working Group members will be available for those requesting it after the 2020 Assembly. It will be structured around the experiences of the Church in El Salvador and Guatemala in the 2nd half of the 20th century and around the witness of Americans Military Chaplains Fr. George Zabelka (World War II) and Fr. Paul Dorbal (Iraq War and Occupation), as well as the peace witness of Fr. Harry Bury (Vietnam War to the Present).
Latest Posts About Non-Violence
Ending Racism and Deconstructing White Privilege
All of us must seek the light of God, the light of truth in recognizing oppression. We begin to do so in this session, which focuses on the oppressive behavior that is born out of white privilege. Dr. Robin DiAngelo is transparent about white privilege couched in explicit and implicit biases in the video “Deconstructing White Privilege,” the first in a series of Vital Conversations on Racism.
Dr. DiAngelo describes the most obvious and explicit aspects of racism and white privilege, while going beyond the surface of racism. Her video serves as a foundation on understanding racism and white privilege for the remaining six videos in the Vital Conversations series.
AUSCP Resources for Ending Racism & White Supremacy
Latest Posts About Ending Racism & White Supremacy
Women In The Church
In its national assembly held in Seattle, in June 2013, the Association of United States Catholic Priests passed a resolution to promote the ongoing discussion of the ordination of women as permanent deacons and agreed to ask the U.S. bishops to give public support to the restoration of the first millennium practice of ordaining women as permanent deacons.
Women In The Church Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
The association’s working group on Women in the Church has been reviewing ways to make various types of groups aware of the document of the same name approved at the 2019 assembly. We are developing an online four-part discussion guide on four of the topics in the document and suggesting discussion questions for each: Women and Scripture; Women in History. Too, we are developing short video presentations on each topic, which could be viewed by parish, school, and other groups for purposes of discussion. Our hope is to have on-line packets and videos geared to various age groups and levels of education by the end of the year.
AUSCP STATEMENT REGARDING ORDINATION OF WOMEN DEACONS
We who are entrusted with leadership on behalf of the one thousand members of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, welcome with praise and prayer the recent decision by Pope Francis to establish a commission regarding the possible ordination of women deacons.
We believe the ordination of women deacons will enhance pastoral ministry and serve the common good of the People of God. Our association has supported the ordination of women to the diaconate with a resolution adopted in our 2013 assembly, and with a letter to the U.S. bishops in 2014. We noted that many priests “find ourselves very stretched in ministry with more and more demands being made on us daily . . . . One way to help assist us in our duties would be to allow the ordination of women to the diaconate, a practice that was familiar to the early church, in order to help us better serve the people entrusted to us.”
We believe that ordination is a matter of justice for women who are our associates and partners in providing ministry. Women have traditionally done 80 to 85 percent of the ministry of our Church. Since the restoration of the permanent diaconate following the Second Vatican Council male candidates were chosen among those who were already performing diaconal service. We see it as a matter of justice that women who likewise are leaders in such ministries not be deprived of the graces of the Sacrament.”
Today we continue to speak on behalf of our members serving in dioceses and religious communities with day-to-day ministerial joys and challenges. Our experience leads us to believe that having men and women deacons as parish administrators would be more effective than closing parishes and establishing super parishes.
We value the position of FutureChurch and other organizations of Catholics concerned about pastoral ministry. FutureChurch states that many women who lead parishes and serve as catechists and chaplains and in other ministries should be ordained. “In light of mission opportunities and pastoral needs, local Churches should be empowered to call forth women for the ordained diaconia of liturgy, word and charity.”
The Leadership Team: On behalf of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
Father Louis Arceneaux, Congregation of the Mission
Father Bob Bonnot, Diocese of Youngstown
Father Kevin Clinton, Archdiocese of St. Paul – Minneapolis;
Father David Cooper, Archdiocese of Milwaukee;
Father Dan Divis, Diocese of Cleveland
Father Frank Eckart, Diocese of Toledo;
Father Jim Kiesel, Archdiocese of Baltimore
Father Daniel Ramirez Portugal, Diocese of Laredo
Father Joe Ruggieri, Diocese of Youngstown
Father Jim Schexnayder, Diocese of Oakland.
Father Bernie Survil, Diocese of Greensburg;
Father Clarence Williams, National Black Catholic Clergy Caucus
Sister Jackie Doepker, a member of the Franciscan Sisters, Tiffin, Ohio, serves the AUSCP as Executive Secretary.
NEW: Posted January 26, 2019, Opinion piece from NCR: Phyllis Zagano: It’s not about women priests
NEW: Posted January 26, 2019: Download a Study Guide: Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future
NEW: Posted January 25, 2019: The CARA study
NEW: Posted January 24, 2019: FutureChurch: Why not now?
NEW: Posted January 24, 2019: Crux reports most US bishops would ordain women deacons, if Vatican gives OK
NEW: Posted January 24, 2019: America reports one-third of US bishops believe Church ‘should’ ordain women
NEW: Posted January 24, 2019: Catholic News Service, on survey results, published by Catholic Philly
NEW: Posted January 21, 2019: Papal Commission members discuss women deacons at Fordham. Report from NCR
Watch the Fordham video: Salt and Light Media 1 hour 42 minutes
Ministry, not power: Report in Central Minnesota Catholic
Deacons, Women and the Call to Serve, Part I: History and Present Practice From Fordham Archives
Deacons, Women and the Call to Serve, Part II: Women Deacons and the Papal Commission From Fordham Archives
Deacons, Women and the Call to Serve, Part III: The Diaconate and the Future of Ministry FromFordham Archives
NEW Posted January 21, 2019: What’s the problem with women deacons? Nothing, says a scholar
Latest Posts About Women’s Roles
The AUSCP adds priests’ voices to the call of the U.S. bishops to end the death penalty.
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops • November 2005
“This is a time to teach clearly, encourage reflection, and call for common action in the Catholic community to bring about an end to the use of the death penalty in our land.
“ . . . We reaffirm our common judgment that the use of the death penalty is unnecessary and unjustified in our time and circumstances.
“Our nation should forgo the use of the death penalty because
• The sanction of death, when it is not necessary to protect society, violates respect for human life and dignity.
• State-sanctioned killing in our names diminishes all of us.
• Its application is deeply flawed and can be irreversibly wrong, is prone to errors, and is biased by factors such as race, the quality of legal representation, and where the crime was committed.
• We have other ways to punish criminals and protect society.
“ . . . We renew our common conviction that it is time for our nation to abandon the illusion that we can protect life by taking life. Ending the use of the death penalty would be one important step away from a culture of death toward building a culture of life.”
Among recent efforts against the death penalty is a new book by Sister Helen Prejean. She was interviewed by Religion News Service.
To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry
WHO WE ARE
AUSCP Working Group Chair: Ron Chochol, firstname.lastname@example.org
AUSCP Facilitator: Marty Marren, email@example.com
AUSCP Leadership Team Liaison: Kevin Clinton, firstname.lastname@example.org
WHY WE ARE WORKING
Since the December 8, 2016 Congregation for the Clergy’s release of The Gift of the Priestly Vocation (Ratio Fundamentalis Institutionis Sacerdotalis—3rd Edition), with its mandate that each conference of bishops update its Program of Priestly Formation, we of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) have felt called and duty-bound to contribute to this important process. Our 2017 Assembly in Atlanta made addressing it one of our three top priorities for 2017-2018. A Working Group was established and has worked diligently since August 2017 to prepare observations, concerns, and proposals regarding five crucial components of priestly formation.
WHAT WE SAID TO U.S. BISHOPS
LETTER TO THE USCCB AND THE FULL DOCUMENT HERE
WHAT OTHERS ARE SAYING
NEW: January 14, 2019: Read Part I of an NCR series on seminary formation
NEW: January 22, 2019: Read Part II of an NCR series: Seminary opposition to Pope Francis NEW: January 28, 2019: Read Part III of an NCR series: Scandal galvanizes seminarians’ resolve
NEW: February 8, 2019: Read Part IV of an NCR Series: Seminary formation: Screening, service and reflection part of antidote to clericalism
AUSCP Leadership Team Member says priesthood reform must begin addressing clericalism Reported in NCR August 13, 2019
August 11, 2019, from NCR: Pope Francis is a priests’ priest
March 11, 2019, NCR: Seminaries evolving
Posted February 7, 2019, from NCR: Clergy warned not to place themselves above laypeople
The following communique has gone out into the public realm, according to Thomas Groome, Professor of Theology and Religious Education. “Let’s hope it reaches far and wide,” he said. “And feel very welcome to give it a ‘push’ at your end – if you have the opportunity.
This communiqué reflects discussions within the conference, but final responsibility for its content rests with the co-chairs of the event, not with the participants. Co-chairs: Richard Gaillardetz, Thomas Groome, Richard Lennan.
Married Clergy/Viri Probati
Purpose: To encourage the American Bishops to petition the Pope to change the present law requiring celibacy of all Roman Catholic priests by opening ordination to married men of proven quality (viri probati).The Ad Hoc Working Group has drafted and referred a letter to the Leadership Team, to be communicated to the appropriate USCCB Committee.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests eagerly awaits the action of the U.S. bishops who are expected to approve new guidelines for priestly formation the dioceses and archdioceses of the United States. The bishops meet in mid-November.
Father Louis Arceneaux, C.M., commented:
“Our U. S. Bishops are preparing to vote on a revised edition of the Program for Priestly Formation, the document that guides all bishops in establishing priestly formation programs in their dioceses. While working on this document, the bishops’ committee invited recommendations from interested groups and individuals. The Association of U. S. Catholic Priests responded with a lengthy document offering significant proposals touching five areas of concern:
• Faithfulness to Vatican II, as presently articulated by Pope Francis.
• Focusing on call to service and not superiority.
• A pastoral model of formation rooted in an environment where candidates study and interact with laywomen and men.
• A more professional focus on psychosexual development of candidates preparing to live a celibate life, especially in view of sexual abuse and cover up in the past.
• A discernment process for candidates and faculty to assure that the focus is on God’s call to service and not individuals private wish.
Sadly, we have no idea if any of these concerns, written up in greater detail in our document, have been addressed in the revised document. In fact, we do not know how many bishops have seen the proposed revision. We look forward to seeing and reviewing what the bishops approve.”
Father Peter Daly, a member of the AUSCP leadership team, recently penned an opinion piece for National Catholic Reporter.
Issues in Priesthood Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
We were very happy to see the notable participation in the AUSCP Survey Monkey about Priest Issues. There were almost 400 responders, representing over 200 dioceses and religious orders combined! The Survey, based on the priorities we all raised at last year’s Conference, was sent out to all members of AUSCP so that we would hear straight from you what you are thinking and what you see Priest Issues to be. We provided 37 Issues and asked each person to select the top 10 as Issues for themselves. Charts in the Survey Report with the information we received will be sent to all members.
You will see that we chose the responses with the highest ranking (the top 10) as the primary ones to be addressed. All Ranked Issues are still listed and please note that all the write-in sections are included in the report too. Judging from the large number of responses it was clear that you wanted to speak and we wanted you to see what you said. We can take pride in what we as a gathering have created. Thanks for your participation. Please read all of the results, including the write-in’s, and consider how you can participate in responding to them. As you read them you will see how our present and future Work Groups and the Leadership can determine what you consider important for future planning.
We are ready to start the next stage: action. The responses need to be categorized into similar groupings, prioritized and then acted on to continue our mission of being a “Pastoral voice of Hope and Joy on behalf of our Church and the world”. We are more than just a Conference. By the grace of God we are dynamic members of God’s chosen royal priesthood to proclaim God’s glorious works.
Fraternally submitted by Priest Issues Work Group 2019-20
The Catholic Labor Network has announced a “Church-Labor Partnership Project.” Learn more about the effort to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality.
Liturgy Working Group Report: 2020 Assembly
ROMAN MISSAL TRANSLATIONS PROBLEMS—RESISTANCE TO CONSULTATION
More than seven years ago an AUSCP Work Group contacted the Roman Office of Cardinal Sarah (head of the Congregation for Divine Worship). In a letter delivered using official diplomatic channels we articulated problems priests are having with Roman Missal translation. A response came from the secretary of Cardinal Sarah, Archbishop Roche. He referred to the Roman Missal English translation as “the new Latin.” The dicastery was aware that when it came to translating into the vernacular, many world languages bishops were translating primarily from English translations into their native tongue. Therefore, the dicastery chose to standardize a common English translation as well as “latin-izing” the diction and grammar used. This has caused priests and people to hear awkward and sometimes incomprehensible liturgical texts.
While priests and bishops struggle with long conditional clauses and at times words that communicate awkwardly or mystify, there has been no effort at consultation or reevaluation of the Roman Missal. Both the Roman dicastery and the USCCB bishop’s committee on Divine Worship remain firm in maintaining the status quo.
Two things are cause for hope and may cause the AUSCP Work Group to reactivate.
- Pope Francis’ issue of Magnum Principium which reiterated the responsibility of each national conference of bishops having the primary responsibility for translating liturgical texts into the language of the people.
- Cardinal Sarah who heads the Congregation for Divine Worship is turning 75 years and is due to retire. There is hope that a new head of the Congregation will understand the difficulties generated by the translation method and return the challenge of liturgical text translation to the national conferences who, with their priests, are ordained to preach the gospel in a way that people can understand.
Kevin Clinton—AUSCP Chair Emeritus