Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Oct. 9, 2015

Highlighting issues we face working together
                            to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

TOP STORIES

National Catholic Reporter Feature Series on Family Synod
Click here for National Catholic Reporter’s webpage with links to feature stories on Synod.

Synod should reflect on possibly allowing female deacons, says archbishop
“Canadian Archbishop Paul-Andre Durocher of Gatineau, Quebec, said the synod should reflect on the possibility of allowing for female deacons as it seeks ways to open up more opportunities for women in church life … ‘I think we should really start looking seriously at the possibility of ordaining women deacons because the diaconate in the church's tradition has been defined as not being ordered toward priesthood but toward ministry.’ By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
 -- Archbishop urges Pope Francis’s synod on the family: Consider allowing female deacons, By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post

Pope Francis faces an uphill climb to get the synod he wants
“In the wake of bitter controversy surrounding a private meeting with Kentucky clerk Kim Davis during his trip to the United States last week, Pope Francis has a chance beginning Sunday to get back “on message” with the opening of a Synod of Bishops on the family in Rome. By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Circles make safe spaces for victims
“ … They’ve all been participants in a healing circle, a pilot program launched in Boston a year ago by the Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), an organization of progressive Catholics formed in 2002 in response to the priest sex abuse scandal. Based on a restorative justice model, the circles allow those who have suffered harm to meet in a small group and tell their stories.” By Bella English, The Boston Globe

Pope promises Church trial against alleged Spanish sex abuser
“In a handwritten letter by Pope Francis to a survivor of sexual abuse in a Catholic school in Spain that surfaced on Friday (Oct. 2), the pontiff said he requested a Church trial against the teacher who allegedly committed the abuse eight years ago.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis condemns abuse
“At St. Charles Borromeo Seminary near Philadelphia on Sunday (Sept. 27), Pope Francis condemned child abuse and promised to take action against perpetrators in the Roman Catholic Church. By Associated Press in on NYTimes.com
 -- The strange disconnect between Pope Francis’ words and actions about sex abuse, By Kieran Tapsell, National Catholic Reporter

Marie Collins, member of pope’s abuse panel criticizes his response to Chile scandal
“Perhaps the best-known sexual abuse survivor on a panel created by Pope Francis to lead the Church on a path of reform has criticized the pontiff’s comments on an abuse case in Chile, saying she is ‘discouraged and saddened’ by his response.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
 -- Francis blasts critics of Chilean bishop tied to abuser priest, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic priest sacked for remarks on pedophilia
“The Catholic Church in northern Italy's Trento region has sanctioned a priest who said pedophilia in the church was caused by children seeking the affection of priests.” By CBS News

BISHOPS

Twin Cities Catholics get rare chance to make archbishop recommendations to Vatican
“An often-outspoken group of Twin Cities Catholics packed a conference hall Monday for a rare opportunity to tell church leaders what they think of the archdiocese and what they want in their next archbishop. With the St. Paul and Minneapolis Archdiocese reeling from a sex abuse scandal, bankruptcy and a theological divide, acting Archbishop Bernard Hebda hosted the first of seven “listening sessions” at St. Catherine University in St. Paul.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
 -- Twin Cities Catholics weigh in on new archbishop, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON THE FAMILY

Synod bishop expresses concern that prelates lack understanding of family
“One of the two prelates representing England and Wales at the ongoing global meeting of Catholic bishops has expressed concern that the church leaders are discussing issues of family life but may be limited in their understanding of those issues because of their celibate lifestyles. Bishop Peter Doyle, who heads the Northampton diocese some 70 miles north of London, said in an interview Saturday he thinks ‘there is a bit of an issue.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Synod Notebook: On Day One, a debate about process and taking things off the table
“As the 2015 Synod of Bishops gets underway, two things seem clear. One is that many prelates seem determined to stay positive as much as possible, playing down their differences and trying to shift the discussion away from controversial matters toward areas of potential common ground. The other is that real tensions over issues, as well as the synod process, may make that goal awfully hard to achieve.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

On Day One of Synod 2015, conservatives strike first
“In his 7,000-word opening address on Monday (Oct. 5) morning, intended to set the tone for the synod’s work,(Cardinal Peter Erdo) seemed determined to close a series of doors that many people believed the last synod had left open — beginning with the controversial proposal of German Cardinal Walter Kasper to allow divorced and civilly remarried Catholics to return to Communion.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis opens Vatican synod on family issues
“Pope Francis on Sunday (Oct. 4) told bishops gathered at the Vatican for the opening of a synod on family issues that the church must stay true to its teachings on the ‘indissolubility’ of marriage between a man and a woman. But he also called on them to be sensitive to the complexity of modern society and not be judgmental of it — and to ‘seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
 -- Pope opens Synod of Bishops with call to blend tradition with mercy, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
 -- Francis opens Synod calling for church that is bridge, not roadblock, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Pope tells Synod to be open-minded, cardinal says no to divorced and remarried, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri explains how the Synod on the Family will unfold, By Vatican Information Service

VOICES

Editorial: Are we prepared to be surprised by the Spirit?
“Catholics today are faced with a conundrum and a question. Pope Francis advocates for a church with open doors, ‘so that if someone, moved by the Spirit, comes there looking for God, he or she will not find a closed door.’ But one door remains firmly shut with a deadbolt securely in place. On women's ordination, Francis says, ‘That door is closed.’” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Catholic group calls for commission on celibacy and female deacons“The Association of Catholics in Ireland (ACI), a lay reform group within the church, has warmly welcomed a call by Bishop of Kilmore Leo O’Reilly requesting that his fellow bishops set up a commission to look at the ordination of married men and female deacons. In seeking such a commission ‘Bishop O’Reilly is reacting positively to the urging of Pope Francis who, speaking about the shortage of priests, said that local bishops are best acquainted with the needs of the faithful and should be courageous and bring concrete suggestions for reform to Rome,’ it said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

POPE FRANCIS VISITS THE U.S.

Pope Francis, the Kentucky clerk and culture wars revisited
“After a busy morning addressing a joint meeting of Congress and mingling with the homeless at an outdoor lunch, Pope Francis decamped to the heavily barricaded Vatican Embassy in Washington last Thursday (Sept. 22) for what Vatican officials billed as a brief afternoon siesta before his flight to New York, the second leg of his American trip. But the 78-year-old pope did more than nap that afternoon.” By Laurie Goodstein and Jim Yardley, The New York Times
 -- Archbishop at center of mystery of papal meeting with Kim Davis, By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

CNN Exclusive: Pope held private meeting with same-sex couple in U.S.
“The day before Pope Francis met anti-gay county clerk Kim Davis in Washington last week, he held a private meeting with a longtime friend from Argentina who has been in a same-sex relationship for 19 years. Yayo Grassi, an openly gay man, brought his partner, Iwan, as well (as) several other friends to the Vatican Embassy on September 23 for a brief visit with the Pope.” By Daniel Burke, CNN Religion Editor

CHURCH FUTURE

U.S. Church, in Pope Francis afterglow, sees chance to win back faithful
“Over six days, throngs of Roman Catholics and non-Catholics in three cities swooned over Francis, the “People’s Pope,” who asked the downtrodden and the mighty alike to pray for him. The crowds have gone home. But a papal afterglow remains, injecting the American church with new energy in small but unmistakable ways.” By Vivian Yee and Andy Newman, The New York Times

Priest dismissed by Vatican after saying he is gay
“The Vatican dismissed a Polish priest from his Holy See job on Saturday after he came out as gay and called for changes in Roman Catholic teachings against homosexual activity on the eve of a major church meeting on the family. By Reuters in The New York Times

POPE FRANCIS & THE CHURCH

Francis blasts critics of Chilean bishop tied to abuser priest
“A five-month-old video released Friday (Oct. 2) shows Pope Francis accusing critics in Chile of ‘foolishness’ for protesting his appointment of a bishop accused of covering up for the country’s most notorious abuser priest.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Seven top issues Pope Francis has staked out for his papacy
“Pope Francis is widely viewed as the ‘pope of change.’ But just how is he changing the Catholic Church — and today’s world? What are his top issues? Here’s a look at seven main planks of his pontificate:” By David Gibson, Religion News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Former manager of Troy Catholic church pleads guilty
“The former manager of a Catholic parish in suburban Detroit says she kept her divorced husband on the church’s health insurance at a cost of $26,000. Janice Verschuren pleaded guilty Tuesday (ct. 6) to a misdemeanor in federal court. The plea deal ends a case that began with more serious charges of fraud and conspiracy involving her boss, the Rev. Ed Belczak, at St. Thomas More Church in Troy.” By Associated Press in The Detroit News

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH (OR NOT)

Where the boys are
“Early church fathers preferred asceticism but figured out that without marriage and children the church would not last long. They wrote that married households are the basis of Christian community. Skip ahead several centuries and they are at it again. A room full of celibate men talking about marriage.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Why wasn’t a woman invited to preside at a papal prayer service?
“I am proud of U.S. Catholicism and awed by the monumental organizing of dedicated church women and men in Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and New York City … I prayed along with the people of God for a new spirit of respect for the environment and of welcome for struggling immigrant peoples. And I bemoaned the glaringly persistent visuals of a Catholic liturgy woefully lacking gender balance.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Women hope their voices are heard at bishops’ family synod
Women don’t have a vote at the meeting of 270 Catholic bishops on family issues that began this week, but they hope their voices will be heard. Divorce, cohabitation and gay relationships are just some of the issues up for discussion at the Vatican synod, which continues through Oct. 24. It follows a questionnaire consultation with Catholic groups after a meeting on family issues a year ago.” By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service

VOICE OF THE FAITHFUL

Local clergy sex abuse victims react to Pope’s visit to U.S.
“Among those lauding the pope’s comments and actions is Wellesley resident Mark Mullaney, a member of the Catholic group Voice Of The Faithful, an organization that advocates for victims of sex abuse in the church.” By WBUR Newsroom

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Ex-priest jailed in abuse scandal has been set free
“A former Catholic priest in Haverhill and Methuen who was a prominent figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal and who psychologists say admitted to molesting at least 14 boys was released Friday (Oct. 2) from state custody, officials said. Ronald H. Paquin, 72, was freed after the two medical specialists determined he does not currently meet the legal criteria for sexual dangerousness, despite his history, the officials said.” By Travis Anderson and John Ellement, The Boston Globe

Lincoln diocese to take part in USCCB clergy sex abuse audit
“The Lincoln, Neb., diocese will again take part in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' clergy sexual abuse audit. It will be the first time since the first audit, in 2003, that the diocese is undergoing the audit.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Abuse victims say Catholic Church must do more to atone for predatory priests
“Each morning when he wakes and walks to his shower, Mark Rozzi is reminded of a priest from his childhood, and the nightmare that unfolded in the rectory back in 1983. He was a 13-year-old student and altar boy at Holy Guardian Angels Catholic Church and school in his hometown of Reading, about 65 miles north of Philadelphia, when he was raped in the shower by the Rev. Edward Graff.” By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

ILLINOIS

Clergy sex abuse survivors blast congressman’s remarks praising suspended priest
“A group representing victims of clergy abuse is taking U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez to task for statements he made praising a Des Plaines priest suspended amid allegations of an ‘inappropriate relationship’ with an adult man. Kate Bochet, a leader from SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, blasted Gutierrez’s remarks and public support of Rev. Marco Mercado as ‘insensitive,’ which could potentially stifle or intimidate victims of sexual abuse from coming forward.” By Lorraine Swanson, Des Plaines Patch

PENNSYLVANIA

Pennsylvania court: Men waited too long to sue over alleged sex-abuse by Catholic priests
“Two men who claim they were sexually abused by Catholic priests decades ago waited too long to sue the Archdiocese of Philadelphia over the alleged assaults, a state court panel ruled Tuesday (Oct. 6). The Superior Court decision backs an earlier ruling by a Philadelphia judge who dismissed the lawsuits filed against the archdiocese by Francis Finnegan of Delaware County and Philip Gaughan of Delaware.” By Mat Miller, PennLive.com

AUSTRALIA

Catholic priest faces child sex charges
“A former police chaplain remains behind bars after being refused bail on child sex charges. John Patrick Casey was working at a primary school in Sawtell until his arrest in July this year. The Catholic priest was charged with nine offences relating to the abuse of two brothers in the Lismore Diocese in 1985.” By ABC News Australia