Thursday, June 07, 2012

Quote of the Day

“I am leaving the USCCB not to end my service of the Church, but to serve in new ways -- to help form, convene and encourage Catholic lay men and women to take up their unique task of bringing Catholic social and moral teaching to community and political life. For the rest of my working life, I want to help provide education and formation, create opportunities and build structures for positive lay leaders to be “salt, light and leaven” in community, economic and public life....

I believe there is an urgent need for more effective efforts to share the breathe and substance of Catholic Social Teaching. With so much confusion and conflict over religion in public affairs, we need new efforts and vehicles to call Catholic lay men and women to principled public engagement and to advance a faithful and positive vision of Catholic participation in the public square.

For years, I and others have said we sometimes feel “politically homeless,” alienated from polarized politics and false choices that ask us to choose between defense of the unborn and protection of the poor, between Catholic moral principles and the Church’s social teaching, between promotion of economic justice and protection of religious liberty. When we are “politically homeless,” it is not enough to proclaim our purity or complain about others; we need to find a home, or at least build a shelter. We need places and strategies to advance a consistent vision of defending human life and dignity, to bridge differences through civil dialogue and pursuit of the common good and to form and encourage more lay leaders to act as “faithful citizens” in American public life....
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The lines above signaled the end of an era in the leadership of the Stateside church as it emerged tonight that John Carr -- for a quarter-century, arguably the face of the church's social Magisterium on these shores as head of the US bishops' justice and peace shop -- will retire from the conference staff come August, to take up a fellowship on faith in public life at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government.

Carr conveyed his thoughts in a personal note circulated among his colleagues, which was obtained by Whispers. His departure was formally announced in a memo sent earlier today by the conference's General Secretary, Msgr Ronny Jenkins, to the body of bishops.

Revered by many, yet occasionally a target of some factions on the Catholic Right, the Minnesota native -- an aide in the Carter White House -- leaves Washington amid reports of significant tensions and low morale at the Mothership over the handling of the bishops' ongoing battle for religious liberty, which is set to culminate later this month with the national Fortnight for Freedom running from 21 June to the 4th of July. With the bench slated to take up an extended discussion of their current lead policy cause at next week's Summer Meeting in Atlanta, the departure of their staff's longtime chief progressive on the plenary's eve is likely to be taken in at least some notable quarters as both a symbolic and substantive blow.

Making no reference to internal tumult, Carr told his friends that "I want to focus my remaining energies on efforts to help form, support and encourage Catholic lay men and women to be more effective leaders in bringing Catholic principles to public life and all of society.

"This has long been a priority for me," he said, "and now is the right time to act on my conviction that new efforts are needed to help Catholic laity act on Catholic principles on human life and dignity, economic and social justice, religious freedom and solidarity, care for creation and peace."

Its agenda also to include a report and discussion on the tenth anniversary of the Dallas Charter and Norms on clergy sex-abuse, the Atlanta meeting begins Wednesday morning. The second half of the three-day plenary will be spent in closed-door executive session, which likewise marks its own decade as a conference tradition at the coming assembly.

Speaking of the 404, while next week's meeting is bound to draw heavy focus from your Full-Salaried Media, in its run-up, this Corpus Christi weekend in Atlanta brings another edition of what's quickly become the South's largest annual church gathering: the North Georgia fold's mega-Eucharistic Congress, held in the city's convention center for a yearly crowd numbering well over 30,000 from the nearly million-member archdiocese.