News from National
Bishop Selection Options: New Template Available
Voice of the Faithful hosts a national web portal for the faithful to submit ideas about the qualities their next bishop should possess. It’s a basic survey tool, designed to send responses directly to the papal nuncio from any diocese in the U.S.
But some Catholics hope to increase their impact by focusing only on their home dioceses. The faithful in the Arlington VA diocese did just that, creating a web site that allows local parishioners to support some “requested considerations in selecting the new bishop” as well as enter their own comments. Even better, they are happy to share that template with others.
Check out their web site at www.novabishop.org. If you would like more information on using the same web forms for your diocese, email firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s an excellent way to invite other Catholics to speak up about bishop selection.
Voice of the Faithful gratified by Connecticut Supreme Court Ruling
VOTF recently expressed gratification about the recent ruling of the Connecticut Supreme Court upholding a superior court ruling finding the Archdiocese of Hartford “acted negligently and recklessly” in assigning a known pedophile priest as director of an elementary school where he abused Jacob Doe, the plaintiff in the case.
In the same ruling, the Connecticut Supreme Court rejected the Hartford archdiocese’s argument that the 2002 extension of the state’s statute of limitations for victims to file lawsuits against their abusers was unconstitutional.
In 2012, A Waterbury Superior Court jury had found the archdiocese negligent and reckless in allowing Rev. Ivan Ferguson to work with children in 1981 as director of St. Mary’s Elementary School in Derby after Ferguson had admitted child abuse in 1979.
Dioceses have repeatedly attempted to avoid their responsibilities for protecting children from abusive priests and have covered up their wrongdoing, but this ruling is an example that at least civil courts, if not yet ecclesial courts, will no longer tolerate such actions.
Check Your Diocese’s Health
Bridgeport VOTF has just completed a Diocesan Health Check to compare with dioceses in India, where E-VAAC (Evangelizing for a more Alert and Aware Church) has been measuring the effectiveness of dioceses there since last year. Reformers in India hope the tool can be applied worldwide so that the effectiveness of diocesan ministries, and ministers, can be improved.
Bridgeport’s evaluation caught them on “a high note,” says Jamie Dance of the Bridgeport affiliate. “Because our diocese is currently energized by the just concluded synod, our numbers in these categories are high. They also reflect the general appreciation and appeal that Bishop Frank Caggiano elicits from the Catholic laity.”
“The assessment thus catches us on a high note,” she continues, “unknown before our current bishop.”
The scores, compiled from 19 respondents familiar with the operations of the diocese and its ministries, were 1,705 for the overall rating; 825 in the Bishops section; 367 for the Diocesan Functions segment; and 513 for Diocesan Ministries.
How would your diocese measure up? We distributed information about the international Diocesan Health Check at the April National Assembly. That’s where Bridgeport picked up its assessment form and the introductory information prepared for the checkup.
To run the Health Check in your own diocese, review ourintroduction, read the instruction sheet, and then compile your answers to the questionnaire. Mail the completed forms to VOTF: Diocesan Health Check, P.O. Box 423, Newton MA 02464.
Highlighting issues we face working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Vatican trial for Jozef Wesolowski a pivotal moment for Pope Francis
“While Pope Francis is wowing vast crowds on a triumphant homecoming to Latin America this week (July 7), one of the pivotal moments of his papacy is set to begin back in Rome on Saturday with the opening of a criminal trial for former papal diplomat Józef Wesołowski on charges of sexual abuse of minors. Ultimately, it’s the threat of criminal sanctions from Vatican tribunals that underlies new accountability measures Francis has created to face the two most chronic sources of scandal he inherited when he was elected in March 2013 – sexual abuse and financial misconduct.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Controversial Chilean bishop’s appointment continues to divide diocese
“This week, three delegates of the Organization of Lay People of the diocese (of Osorno, Chile), which has just 23 parishes, are traveling to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in the hope of presenting a letter to Pope Francis during the World Meeting of Popular Movements, which Francis is to address Thursday (July 9). They have been protesting since January, when it became clear that the Vatican would press ahead with the installation of Juan Barros Madrid as Osorno's new bishop, a move as unpopular with Chile's other bishops as it was with the clergy and laypeople of the diocese.” By Austen Ivereigh, National Catholic Reporter
Disclose the names of clergy abusers
“A survivor of sexual abuse perpetrated by a Catholic priest hesitates to report his abuse, thinking that he will not be believed. Another survivor knows that she was not the cleric’s only victim but worries that she will be the only person to report his behavior. And many Catholics complain that their church has allowed the media and survivors’ organizations to control, and even manipulate, information in order to make all clergy seem suspect and all bishops seem insensitive. Would full disclosure of the names of clergy offenders help these survivors and the countless other men and women who have still not reported their abuse to come forward?” By Kathleen McChesney, America
In Ecuador, Francis calls for intense prayer for ‘miracle’ at synod
“In a nod to expected Vatican intrigue in coming months, the pope also called on those gathered for an outdoor Mass on a sweltering day in the port town of Guayaquil to ‘intensify’ their prayers for October's global meeting of bishops on family life issues.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
-- Pope Francis focuses on family in Ecuador Mass, By Jim Yardley and William Neuman, The New York Times
Timeline of a crisis
“This timeline is part of a weeklong series dedicated to looking back on 30 years of the abuse crisis in the Catholic church.” ByNational Catholic Reporter staff
-- Pages and protection: a first step in bringing clergy sexual abuse to light, By Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter
-- Thanks to NCR, my crisis became a cause, By Barbara Blaine,National Catholic Reporter
-- How clergy abuse survivors have changed history, By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter
Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus ...
FutureChurch Organizes 19th Annual Feast Day of St. Mary of Magdala
July 22 marks another celebration of the Feast of Mary of Magdala and the focus on Women in the Church that marks the celebration. FutureChurch has updated its resources for those who wish to host events related to the celebration. In addition to information about Mary of Magdala, which you can request for downloading, there’s also a list of local celebrations on the FutureChurch site and commentary on the “Apostle to the Apostles."
Letter to the Editor
One conclusion that can be drawn from the recent VOTF conference on the family, is the reaffirmation of the extended family/troop/tribe. Here all members contribute the well-being of the family unit; all members are valued.
In recent decades the term "abnormal" has fallen out of use. I think it's fair to say that the so-called traditional nuclear family structure is abnormal: the normal, default social unit is the extended family.
Greg Guiteras, VOTF NY
Please send them to Siobhan Carroll, Vineyard Editor, atVineyard@votf.org. Unless otherwise indicated, I will assume comments can be published as Letters to the Editor.