Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Nov. 10, 2017


TOP STORIES

Study reveals wide disparity in online financial transparency of U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses
“A recently completed study reveals a wide disparity in online financial transparency for U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses. The study was conducted by the Finance Working Group of Voice of the Faithful®, a movement of Catholics concerned, among other things, with helping to ensure that the hierarchy uses the Church’s financial resources accountably and transparently.” By Voice of the Faithful
 -- On MarketWatch

Ex-bishops’ doctrine chief says darkness coming to light under Francis
“Capuchin Father Thomas Weinandy, a former chief of staff for the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Doctrine and a current member of the Vatican's International Theological Commission, has written Pope Francis to say the pontiff is causing ‘chronic confusion,’ appointing bishops who ‘scandalize’ the faithful, and prompting ordinary Catholics to ‘lose confidence in their supreme shepherd.’” By Cruxnow.com Staff
 -- After critical letter to pope, theologian resigns as consultant to U.S. bishops, By Cruxnow.com Staff
 -- U.S. cardinal asserts unity with pope after former doctrine chief questions Francis, By Dennis Coday, National Catholic Reporter
 -- U.S. bishops consultant on doctrine resigns after criticizing Pope Francis, By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review
 -- Hypocrisy marks DiNardo’s inadequate response to Weinandy, By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis appoints two laywomen to key positions in Roman curia
“Pope Francis has appointed two Italian women as under-secretaries in the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, which is headed by Cardinal Kevin Farrell. The Vatican announced this today (Nov. 7) and gave the names and professional profiles of both women: Professor Gabriella Gambino and Dr. Linda Ghisoni. They now become the third ranking officials in the department and are further evidence of Pope Francis’ determination to assign important positions in the Roman Curia to women.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Stolen Childhoods
“Decades later, the damage from one Philadelphia predator priest still torments a generation of victims: Like (Jim) Cunningham (who committed suicide), each (Cunnigham’s friends) had been a student in the same Northeast Philadelphia parish school, St. Cecilia's, in the 1980s when the Rev. James Brzyski turned their community into a stalking ground. Brzyski (BRISH-kee) had sexually assaulted possibly more than 100 boys during stints at St. Cecilia's and a prior parish, St. John the Evangelist in Lower Makefield, a grand jury later asserted, but like so many abusers had eluded prosecution.” By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer
 -- Pedophile priest’s tale cries for day in court for long-ago victims, Editorial in Philadelphia Enquirer
 -- Media coverage of church sex abuse scandal is unbalanced, By Archbishop Charles Chaput, The Philadelphia Inquirer

POPE FRANCIS

Francis’ correction of Sarah shows Vatican II is his ‘sure compass’
“Pope Francis' letter to Cardinal Robert Sarah, correcting him on the procedures now in force for producing liturgical translations, has been both praised and denounced as an ecclesiastical ‘slap down.’ The publication of this letter, however, is an occasion for neither right-wing handwringing nor left-wing schadenfreude. This is not about ecclesiastical one-upmanship. It is simply one more example of Francis' consistent determination to implement the vision of the Second Vatican Council.” By Richard Gaillardetz, National Catholic Reporter

The war against Pope Francis
Pope Francis is one of the most hated men in the world today. Those who hate him most are not atheists, or Protestants, or Muslims, but some of his own followers. Outside the church he is hugely popular as a figure of almost ostentatious modesty and humility. From the moment that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio became pope in 2013, his gestures caught the world’s imagination … But within the church, Francis has provoked a ferocious backlash from conservatives who fear that this spirit will divide the church, and could even shatter it.” By Andrew Brown, The Guardian

CARDINALS

Cardinal Muller backs Pope Francis against critics of ‘Amoris Laetitia’
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller acknowledges in his writing that there can be ‘mitigating factors in guilt,’ referring to the case of access to the sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried people. The prelate also argued against the self-proclaimed liberal-progressive theologians who raise the phrases they like of Pope Francis to the level of dogma while they question papal magisterium in ‘Humanae Vitae.’” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

Petition asks Francis to remove Madison’s Bishop Morlino
“A social media petition campaign asking Pope Francis to remove Bishop Robert Morlino as leader of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, has generated more than 7,300 signatures as of Nov. 9. The campaign is a response to an advisory sent to priests by Fr. James Bartylla, diocesan vicar general, that discouraged Catholic funerals for those in same-sex marriages and relationships. The advisory was made public Oct. 22.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops missing opportunity for meaningful conversation
“The press release announcing the agenda for the upcoming meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was pretty sad. The agenda is thin. The release notes that the bishops will vote on a new translation for the Order of Baptism of Children, that there will be a report from several committees, and some votes for committee chairs. It must cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars to fly the nation's bishops to Baltimore, put them up at a pricey hotel for four or five nights, provide meals and transportation. Why spend all that money for an agenda that is this meager?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Differences over church’s role in U.S. culture persist in bishops’ conference
“Two weeks from today (Oct. 27), the bishops of the United States will begin assembling in Baltimore for their annual plenary meeting. On Monday, Oct. 30, I will look at the agenda for the meeting, but this morning I would like to take note of the fact that this year marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the bishops' conference, examine briefly how the U.S. bishops' conference began, and how those beginnings remain relevant.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

U.S. bishops’ new child protection program aims to create culture of mindfulness
“After years of research, the U.S. bishops are rolling out a new training program that takes some of the best risk-management practices from other industries and applies them to child protection in the Church. The new program, entitled ‘Creating a Culture of Protection and Healing,’ is being piloted in several dioceses and will eventually be available to any diocese by request.” By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Service

MARRIED PRIESTS

Pope raises prospect of married men becoming priests
“Pope Francis has requested a debate over allowing married men in the Amazon region of Brazil to become priests, in a controversial move that is likely to outrage conservatives in the Church, Vatican sources say. The pontiff took the decision to put a partial lifting of priestly celibacy up for discussion and a possible vote by Brazilian bishops following a request made by Cardinal Claudio Hummes, the president of the Episcopal Commission for the Amazon, Il Messaggero newspaper quoted the sources saying.” By John Phillips, The Telegraph
 -- Pope paves the way for married men to become Catholic priests, By Darren Boyle, Daily Mail

MASS TRANSLATIONS

Cardinal Wuerl: Francis’ liturgical translation reform is ‘what the council said’
“In decentralizing authority from the Vatican to bishops' conferences for the translation of texts for the Catholic Church's liturgies from Latin into local languages, Pope Francis is simply putting in place a reform called for by the 1962-65 Second Vatican Council, said Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl. Speaking in an interview with NCR Oct. 24, Wuerl said: ‘The council clearly said this was the responsibility of the bishops, these translations — in communion, obviously, with Peter. Now, we have Pope Francis saying, ‘Isn't this what the council said?’’ Wuerl said. ‘Shouldn't we be doing that?’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CLERICALISM

Need for power and money is path of clericalism, pope says
“Clericalism is a path taken by those who, unlike the good shepherd, concern themselves with money and power and not with people who are suffering and neglected, Pope Francis said. Hypocrites, even within the church, focus either on being friends with powerful people or ‘think about what is inside their pockets,’ the pope said Oct. 30 during his morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. ‘These are the hypocrites, they are capable of anything; they don’t care about the people,’ he said. ‘When Jesus uses that beautiful adjective that he uses so many times with them — ‘hypocrites’ — they are offended: ‘But not us, we follow the law.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

CELIBACY & MARRIED PRIESTS

Is the celibacy of Catholic priests coming to an end
Pope Francis may consider ending the celibacy of the parish clergy, at least if local bishops want him to. That much seems clear from the confused reports and counter-reports emerging in advance of a conference of Amazonian Catholic bishops in Brazil. This is a special case of a more general problem affecting the church worldwide. There are far fewer men coming forward for ordination than it needs. In France the average age of the clergy is over 60; in Ireland Maynooth seminary, built to train 500 priests a year, this year had only six new entrants.” By Andrew Brown, The Guardian
 -- Despite reports, Pope Francis isn’t opening the door to all married priests, By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

Priest sex abuse and Hollywood sexual harassment scandals: Cultures of cover-up, cruelty and corruption
“…And how does an entire industry go from denial to denunciation in just eight years? ‘Maybe that’s the new norm,’ said former Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley, who called me last week to talk about the Polanski case and about Weinstein’s role in defending him. Cooley said the long-running abuse of women by powerful men in Hollywood echoes the Catholic Church’s pedophilia scandal, which his office investigated for years, fighting against church leaders who refused to turn over documents.” By Steve Lopex, Los Angeles Times

What society could learn from the Catholic Church regarding child protection
“In the early 2000s, the Catholic Church in the United States was also reeling from a sex abuse crisis when the Boston Globe broke the story of a former priest who was accused of molesting 130 minors, mostly young boys, over the course of more than 30 years. This led to a large-scale uncovering of thousands more allegations of abuse in dioceses throughout the country. Since then, the Church has put into place numerous policies and practices to protect children from sexual abuse, including the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Charter for Child and Youth Protection.” By Mary Rezac, Catholic News Service

Luther and Martin, up against the same obstacle
“Martin Luther's assault on the Roman Catholic Church 500 years ago this week changed the map of Christianity by testing the boundaries of religious liberty and ushered in a new concept of what it meant. The well-known Jesuit James Martin has been caught in the aftermath in 2017. Luther was ousted from the church four years after pitching 95 hard-edged proposals for church reform to the pope by way of his local archbishop. His nudges were judged out of bounds by Rome and four years later he was excommunicated. Martin published a book this year suggesting that bishops should relate better to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people; he sparked a backlash from Catholics who saw in his appeal a stealthy effort to change the church's sexual doctrine.” By Ken Briggs, National Catholic Reporter

Dissent and consensus in the era of Pope Francis: petitions are not the answer
“How do people who believe the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) was a period of great turmoil see the current situation of discord in the Catholic Church? ‘Post-conciliar period’ is a term that has become so vague as to be almost useless now. The transition from Benedict XVI to Francis is part of the post-Vatican II period, as was the pontificate of Paul VI and that of John Paul II. Was one of these post-Vatican II periods more turbulent than the others? The most obvious temptation in this situation is not just to take sides – all of us do, consciously or not – but to form a party.” By Massimo Faggioli, LaCroix International

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Silence on sexual violence makes church leaders complicit, say victim advocates
“Jessica Mesman Griffith was sitting outside her high school cafeteria, waiting for a ride home after dance team practice, when a janitor approached her with his penis exposed and started masturbating in front of her. She was 14 — and terrified. About a year later, while hanging out with her girlfriends, each one started sharing stories of sexual assault or violence, by a babysitter, an uncle or their mom's boyfriend. That's when Griffith realized, ‘I'm a girl, and because I'm a girl, I'm not safe.’” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Retired priest, 96, arraigned on child pornography charges
“A 96-year-old retired priest who was once a high-ranking official of the Archdiocese of New York was arraigned in State Supreme Court in the Bronx on Tuesday (Oct. 31) on charges of possessing child pornography. The pictures, which were on his computer, were of girls ages 8 to 14 years old performing sex acts with men or posing naked, the Bronx district attorney said. In announcing the indictment, the Bronx district attorney, Darcel D. Clark, said that Msgr. Harry J. Byrne, who lives at the St. John Vianney Center for Retired Priests in the Bronx, regularly showed people who came into his room the disturbing images.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

Former priest says revered colleague was a predator
“…But those nights at the rectory were not innocent. In August, Mr. Ryan-Vuotto was awarded a $500,000 settlement for sexual abuse by Father Lott. The money was from a program being run by the Archdiocese of New York to compensate those sexually abused by priests. In an interview, Mr. Ryan-Vuotto said he was abused more than 50 times between 1975 and 1985, in acts ranging from fondling to sodomy. But he kept silent, in part because after the abuse ended, he became a priest.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

ILLINOIS

Area priest arrested for sexual assault
“Father Richard E. Jacklin, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Goodrich, was arrested by Illinois State Police on Tuesday (Oct. 31) and charged with sexually assaulting a resident at Shapiro Developmental Center in Kankakee. The 65-year-old Jacklin has been preliminarily charged by state police with criminal sexual assault by force and sexual misconduct of a person with a disability.” By Jeff Bonty, Kankakee Daily Journal

Chicago archdiocese wins claim against false sex abuse allegations
“A Chicago man who filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Chicago alleging sexual abuse by a notorious former priest has been ordered to repay the church for the money it spent defending itself, a Cook County circuit court judge ruled earlier this month. Church officials in Chicago say that revelations regarding other fraudulent cases could be forthcoming, a prospect that both the archdiocese and victim advocates say will be a disservice to genuine victims.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America

MINNESOTA

Twin cities archdiocese releases names of 19 men suspected of sexually abusing minors
“The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis on Friday (Nov. 3) afternoon released the names of 19 deceased or former priests or members of religious orders against whom it now acknowledges ‘substantiated claims of sexual abuse of minors.’ Many of the names have long been in the public domain, released by their religious orders on their own lists of members credibly accused of abuse, named in victims’ lawsuits or on websites compiled by abuse survivors. But it appears to be the first time the archdiocese has released their names in relation to its own jurisdiction.” By Karen Zamora, Star Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Panel discussions planned on clerical abuse
“The Archdiocese of Santa Fe officials will field questions about clerical sexual abuse in a series of panel discussions scheduled from Nov. 7 to Jan. 31 at five parishes around the New Mexico, the archdiocese said Monday (Oct. 30). The announcement came less than a week after a court-ordered disclosure of church records about three former Archdiocese of Santa Fe priests, and about a month after the archdiocese released a list of 74 clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children, together with an apology to survivors.” By Oliver Uyttebrouck, Albuquerque Journal

Archdiocese committed to righting wrongs
“On Sept. 12 the Archdiocese of Santa Fe released a list of 74 priests, deacons and religious who have been accused of sexual abuse of children. The vast majority of these abuses occurred over 25 years ago. Since then, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has implemented a number of strict measures, including removing perpetrators from ministry, terminating employment of perpetrators, instituting a zero tolerance policy, and implementing Safe Environment and Victim’s Assistance Programs throughout the Archdiocese.” Guest Column by Most Rev. John C. Wester, Archbishop of Santa Fe, in Albuquerque Journal
 -- ‘I offer my sincere apology,’ By Archbishop John C. Wester, Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe prelate voices ‘sadness and shame’ over clerical sex abuse
“Archbishop John C. Wester published an op-ed piece in The Albuquerque Journal on Sunday (Oct. 28) expressing ‘sadness and shame over the betrayal of trust’ by clergy ‘who were supposed to love and protect our children,’ and for the suffering of abuse survivors. He also said a series of panel discussions scheduled from Nov. 7 to Jan. 31 at five parishes will ‘promote further transparency and healing.’” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

NEW YORK

Former priest accused of sexually abusing minors at Covina, Redondo Beach and Palmdale churches
“A former priest who served in Southern California and was named in a 2015 child sexual abuse lawsuit allegedly allegedly molested at least four additional children at parishes in Palmdale, Redondo Beach and Covina, according to lawsuits recently filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. Civil complaints filed in July and October allege former Rev. Chris Cunningham sexually molested boys ages 10 to 15 from the mid-1990s to the early 2000s at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Palmdale, St. Lawrence Martyr Catholic Church in Redondo Beach and St. Louise de Marillac Catholic Church in Covina.” By Stephanie Baer, San Gabriel Valley Tribune

Retired priest shared stash of kiddie porn with other priests
“A 96-year-old retired Catholic priest kept a large collection of kiddie porn on his computer — with pictures of girls as young as eight years old — and shared it with others at the retirement home for priests where he lived, according to prosecutors. Monsignor Harry Byrne was charged Tuesday (Oct. 31) with more than 70 counts of possession of child pornography after cops uncovered the stockpile during an online investigation.” By Rick Perez, New York Post

Group of childhood sex abuse victims inks $1.8 million settlement with two New York archdioceses
“A half-dozen survivors of childhood sexual abuse by priests reached a $1.8 million settlement with two New York archdioceses, their attorney announced Wednesday. Lawyer Michael Reck, in revealing the payouts, also publicly identified a pair of Bronx priests for the first time as sexual predators: Rev. Herbert D’Argenio and Msgr. Casper Wolf.” By Edgar Sandoval and Larry McShane, New York Daily News

AUSTRALIA

Pedophile priest set for release after just four years in jail
“A priest who sexually abused girls as young as 10 over three decades will soon be released on parole after spending four years in a NSW prison, the Daily Telegraph reports. Finian Egan, 81, will be released from jail on December 19, despite desperate pleas from his victims to keep him locked up. ‘This sends a message not just to me, but to every child sex survivor,’ victim Kellie Roche said.” By CathNews.com

Child sex abuse redress scheme to cap payments at $150,000 and exclude some criminals
“The Federal Government has tabled a bill that would entitle victims of child sexual abuse in Commonwealth and Territory institutions up to $150,000 in compensation, but it excludes victims who have served time in jail. Social Services Minister Christian Porter said the response of institutions to claims of child abuse were ‘inadequate.’ ‘No child should ever experience what we know occurred,’ he told the House of Representatives.” By ABC News Australia

CANADA

Ex-priest Grecco gets 18 months in prison
“There was no forgiveness in William O’Sullivan’s heart Tuesday (Oct. 24) for the priest who sexually abused him as a child. But there was empathy as he watched Donald Grecco be led away from a St. Catharines courtroom to serve the next 18 months of his life in prison. ‘I know where he is going. I know what it is like, so I have some empathy. I’m human,’ said O’Sullivan, who has served time in prison. ‘But when they led him away and got the handcuffs out, that was good to see.’” By Grant LaFleche, The St. Catherines Standard

GUAM

Archdiocese compiling list of clergy with credible allegations of child sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Agana will compile a list of clergy with credible allegations of child sexual abuse against them, according to Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes. The Catholic Church on Guam faces more than 140 lawsuits alleging sexual abuse decades ago by 16 different clergy members.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Attorney: Priest gave sharp, unemotional answers on Guam child abuses
“Former Guam priest Louis Brouillard did not show much emotion and remained fairly sharp mentally when he provided, over a four-day period, information about the ‘tragic circumstances that allowed him to have access to Guam's children for many years,’ according to one of the attorneys involved in more than 140 lawsuits accusing Brouillard of child sex abuse.” By Haidee Eugenio, USA TODAY

Lawsuit: Priest raped, abused Agat altar boy during confessions
“Capuchin priest Jack Niland allegedly raped and sexually abused an Agat altar boy during confessions around 1979, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court on Tuesday (Oct. 31.). The lawsuit says Archbishop Anthony Apuron, other priests and the Capuchin Order were aware of Niland's sexual abuses but deliberately remained quiet.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

Lawsuit: Priest abused non-Catholic teen he named ‘best altar boy’
“Father Louis Brouillard in 1979 allegedly allowed a non-Catholic youth to serve as an altar boy, sexually abused him, and later gave him a medallion for being the ‘best altar boy’ at the Tumon parish, a lawsuit filed in federal court on Monday (Oct. 30) states.” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Irish group offers therapy for priests falsely accused on abuse
“Irish priests who have been falsely accused of sexually abusing children are being offered group therapy sessions in a bid to improve their mental health. Ireland’s Association of Catholic Priests will run its first so-called ‘Circle of Healing’ later in November in Cork, as part of an innovative new move to help innocent churchmen who have been affected by past abuse scandals.” By Catholic News Service in Catholic Herald

Four years on, questions continue to be asked of report on Magdalene Laundries
“More than four years after its publication in February 2013, the McAleese Report on the Magdalene Laundries continues to generate headlines, but for all the wrong reasons. It has been criticized by survivors, advocacy groups, the human rights community, and the United Nations. The reaction of the Government to it has been rather odd. It continues to cite the report as the essential narrative of the Magdalene Laundries … Yet, it is surprised that, based on a reading of the McAleese Report, religious orders have refused to contribute any money to the redress bill.” By Conall O’Fatharta, Irish Examiner

PHILIPPINES

Lifting the veil of the Catholic Church and the Iglesia ni Cristo
“No doubt the Catholic Church and INC are among the country’s most influential institutions. Wielding power from the truth they espouse, these religions are, however, also prone to controversies and abuse. But more often than not, they are left unchecked because of how they are revered as institutions beyond question. This has not stopped us, however, from checking on reported abuses – even if it means being at the receiving end of hate and threats.” By Jodesz Gavilan and Sofia Tomacruz, Rappler.com