Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 26, 2016

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


Cardinal Marx faces accusations over handling of alleged abuse case
“Accusations have been raised in a number of German media that Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising failed to remove from office a priest accused in 2006 of sexually abusing a minor. The alleged abuser, it appears, was allowed to stay on as parish priest for a number of years, even going on overnight excursions with youth. A spokesperson for Cardinal Marx has said that the prelate had acted in accordance with relevant guidelines that were in place at the time.” By Anian Christoph Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

Next synod likely to focus on ordaining married men
“In response to acute priest shortages around the world, Pope Francis may well decide that his next Synod of Bishops should focus on ministry—including the question of whether married men could be ordained to celebrate the sacraments, in effect creating a parallel priesthood … If a vast topic such as the Church’s preparation for marriage and its handling of divorcés can be discussed, it means other burning issues can be too. And top of that list are questions about ministry … Some are saying that pastoral ministries will the topic for the next synod, likely to be scheduled for 2018-19. No one doubts the question is an urgent one. More than half of the Catholic Church’s communities worldwide have no resident priest.” By Austen Ivereigh, Cruxnow.com
Pope Francis asked to consider mature married men for priesthood, By Marshall Connolly, Catholic Online

Re-trial puts landmark Catholic sex abuse conviction in doubt
“There will be drama in Philadelphia. A landmark case involving Catholic officials’ response to sex abuse is planned for retrial May 1 of next year. The accused is a monsignor who was the first Catholic official convicted for his supervisory actions regarding a priest accused of abusing children. But claims of new exonerating evidence and a court’s decision to throw out the monsignor’s previous sentence make the situation more complex.” By Catholic News Agency

Dallas bishop vows to focus on laity in new Vatican post
“Dallas Bishop Kevin Farrell said after being named by Pope Francis to head a new Vatican office for families and laity that, above all, he’ll promote the pope’s desire to ensure that ordinary Catholics are an integral part of the Church. The Wednesday (Aug. 17) appointment makes Farrell the highest-ranking American at the Holy See. He’ll head the new Dicastery for the Laity, Families and Life, which combines several Vatican offices into one. (“Dicastery” is the formal Vatican term for a department or office.)” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Focus on preaching the kingdom is key to ending clericalism
“What we need in today’s Roman Catholic church is a redistribution of power and authority. Pope Francis’ openness to the possibility of having women deacons is not nearly enough to achieve this essential organizational revolution … Francis should change canon law so one does not have to be a priest to be the ‘pastor’ of a parish. Give qualified lay men and women and male and female deacons’ real power and authority to lead some of our faith communities. This change would have two important consequences. It would disconnect the roles of priest and pastor and significantly change the culture of clericalism that Francis rightly deplores.” By Jim Purcell, National Catholic Reporter


On women deacons
“My prayer for them is that they are discerning. I hope they don’t look at historical practice as rigidly dictating what we can or cannot do today. Discernment would mean that alongside crucial historical and theological evidence, there will be serious consideration of the pastoral needs of people in the Church today. This means that a range of voices will be heard. I pray that the members will leave room for the Holy Spirit — through their prayer, reflection and conversation. We have to be willing to listen to the Spirit.” By Luke Hansen, S.J., The Jesuit Post

Commending Phoebe
“‘I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae,’ wrote St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans (16:1). What did Paul mean when he referred to Phoebe as a deacon? What kind of diakonos was she? How did she serve the church? Was she ordained as a deacon? And if so, what did her ordination mean? These questions, which may once have seemed arcane, have taken on greater urgency in the wake of Pope Francis’ recent decision to appoint a commission to study the historicity of women deacons.” By The Editors at America: The National Catholic Review
Women deacons and subsidiarity in a fragmenting church, By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Women deacons? Yes. Deacons? Maybe.
“When I was asked by a reporter last week whether I favored women deacons, I hesitated and finally responded, ‘If there are male deacons, there should be female deacons’ … You will notice that I said I hesitated when asked whether I supported women deacons. My hesitancy is not with women deacons, but with the whole idea of deacons as currently practiced in the United States.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Women deacons: What happens next?
“Pope Francis named just one woman from the Western Hemisphere to his commission on women deacons. That would be me. So, what happens next? Fact is, I do not know. I assume at some point in the not-too-distant future, I will receive an invitation to go to Rome to meet with the other commissioners. Our mandate is to study women in the diaconate.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

The burden of proof concerning women deacons
“The ministry of deaconesses was sui generis; it was not included in the cursus honorum (the progression from lower to higher ministerial roles), even though deaconesses were sometimes regarded as members of the clergy. The burden of proof seems to lie with those who argue that deaconesses belonged to the same order as deacons.” By Sara Butler, First Things

Women are ready for the diaconate. Is the Church ready for them?
“Cynthia Bowns gazes at a painting of the Last Supper that hangs in the study of her home. It is not Leonardo DaVinci’s famous depiction of Jesus and the 12 male apostles. Bowns’ painting includes several women alongside the 12 men at the table of the first Eucharist. ‘I think this is probably a more accurate representation of who was actually there with Jesus,’ Bowns says.” By Judith Valente, America: The National Catholic Review

With holy orders, hierarchy can’t have it both ways
“ … While Vatican spokesperson Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi said Francis’ commission idea was a ‘spontaneous’ response to a question at an international meeting of Catholic sisters, I’m not buying it. First, no nun would ever spring a surprise question on the pope, especially in a public forum. Second, papal questions were solicited from the sisters months ahead of time. Francis had already considered his response very carefully before he replied publicly.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

For Catholic women, pope’s panel on female deacons ‘could open up some interesting opportunities’
“Barbara Anderson is hopeful that a new commission appointed by Pope Francis to study women deacons could open up new opportunities in the Catholic Church. But more important, she says, is the new perspective that ordained women could bring to the church. ‘It’s exciting that he has decided to explore what Scripture and history tell us about the role of women in the church, and that this opportunity could be open to women someday,’ said Anderson, one of the few women to have run a parish in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. ‘I think it says the role of women in the church is a very important one.’” By Johathan Pitts, The Baltimore Sun


Vatican newspaper: ‘Amoris Laetitia’ is authoritative church teaching
“Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the family is an example of the ‘ordinary magisterium’ — papal teaching — to which Catholics are obliged to give ‘religious submission of will and intellect,’ said an article in the Vatican newspaper. Father Salvador Pie-Ninot, a well-known professor of ecclesiology, said that while Pope Francis did not invoke his teaching authority in a ‘definitive way’ in the document, it meets all the criteria for being an example of the ‘ordinary magisterium’ to which all members of the church should respond with ‘the basic attitude of sincere acceptance and practical implementation.’” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


Brisbane archbishop calls for first synod for entire Catholic Church in Australia since 1937
“Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge has unveiled plans to hold an historic plenary council of the entire Catholic Church in Australia. It is to be held in 2020, only the fifth time in Australia’s history, and 79 years after the previous plenary council meeting. Archbishop Coleridge said bishops had agreed a plenary council or synod was needed because ‘we are at a time of profound cultural change. Not only in the wider community, but in the Church.’” By The Catholic Leader

Pope names Dallas bishop head of new office for laity, family, life
“Pope Francis has named Bishop Kevin J. Farrell of Dallas to head the Vatican’s new office for laity, family and life. The Dublin-born bishop will celebrate his 69th birthday Sept. 2, the day after the new Vatican office officially begins its work. The Dallas Bishop Farrell is the brother of Bishop Brian Farrell, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity. Both brothers were ordained to the priesthood for the Legionaries of Christ, but the Dallas bishop was later incardinated in the Archdiocese of Washington and served as an auxiliary bishop there 2002-2007.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Dallas bishop named to head Vatican office on laity, family, and life, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Pope’s choice for new Vatican post boosts moderates, Americans, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Catholic bishops ‘don’t get it’ – the fundamental problem is a corrupt clerical culture
“‘Who is going to save our Church? Do not look to the priests. Do not look to the bishops. It’s up to you, the laity, to remind our priests to be priests and our bishops to be bishops.” (Archbishop Fulton Sheen) Archbishop Sheen was right, as usual. Our pastors cannot lead us out of the current crisis in the Catholic Church, because they, as a group, do not recognize the nature of the crisis. In fact, despite the abundant evidence all around us, they are not prepared to admit that there is a crisis. They do not see the problem, because they are the problem. The crisis is—let’s speak plainly—a crisis of clerical corruption.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org


Will Pope Francis create a new American cardinal this time
“We’ve entered a new period in Catholic life that always fills Church affairs junkies with delight, which is a fresh round of speculation about the creation of new cardinals. Trying to anticipate who the next Princes of the Church may be is all the more interesting under Pope Francis, since he doesn’t follow the traditional script, so his choices are far more difficult to handicap and thus more entertaining to contemplate.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Fresh crisis for German Catholic Church as ordinations sink to new low
“An unprecedentedly low number of Catholic priests in Germany are being ordained, new figures show, as a crisis appears to be engulfing the Church in that country. Only 58 men joined the clergy in 2015, according to the figures released by the German Episcopal Conference this week. The number of ordinations has dropped by half in the past decade: In 2005, a total of 122 diocesan priests were ordained, and five decades ago, in 1965, the number was 500. Today, there are 14,000 Catholic priests active in Germany, down from almost 20,000 in 1990.” By James Macintyre, Christian Today
A look at the crisis of the Church in Germany, By Catholic News Agency on AngelusNews.com

Five West Haven Catholic parishes may combine under ‘very preliminary’ proposal
“West Haven’s five Roman Catholic parishes could someday become one, according to a ‘very preliminary’ proposal put forth by a local, inter-church panel responding to a call by the Archdiocese of Hartford to begin charting their future.” By Mark Zaretsky, New Haven Register


Sisters open LCWR 2016 assembly with focus on contemplative dialogue
“On Tuesday night (Aug. 9) — from a stage lined with LED candles and backlit with the Leadership Conference of Women Religious’ signature green and blue — LCWR president Sister of St. Joseph Marcia Allen officially kicked off the conference’s 2016 annual assembly in Atlanta. LCWR leadership planned for contemplative dialogue to be the focus of this year’s assembly, and the opening night was no exception. After a brief contemplative exercise, School Sister of Notre Dame Catherine Bertrand and Sister of St. Joseph Liz Sweeney chronicled the contemplative dialogue process that will guide sisters of the next four days.” By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Rosie the riveter has a message for Catholic women
“With the Vatican’s announcement of members for the women deacon commission, media have raised the question again of women’s leadership in the church. Much like the ‘Rosie the Riveters’ that the government ushered into the public workforce during World War II, the Vatican has also welcomed Catholic women to serve in limited church roles for the last half century. They work on the front lines of local parishes, some diocesan offices, and a smattering of support roles at the Vatican. In fact, women make up 80 percent of lay church workers in the United States.” By Nicole Sotelo, National Catholic Reporter

Stop shaming women for seeking equal power in the church
“In late June, on a flight back from Armenia, Pope Francis told a team of reporters that he was angry. What made Francis angry wasn’t the continued deaths of countless refugees, or the latest instance of environmental degradation or some grim statistics about rates of human trafficking. No, what angered him was the suggestion, by some in the media, that he had ‘opened the door to deaconesses,’ after his May 12 dialogue with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) … But the pope’s anger over the notion that admitting women to some form of the diaconate was already a fait accompli suggests the depth of angst conjured by even the suggestion of offering women a semblance of authority in the church.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter


California nearing landmark change to sex-crime statute of limitations as New York lawmakers lag behind
“California’s state assembly is close to accomplishing something New York lawmakers could not do — change the way sexual assault is prosecuted. Inspired by Bill Cosby, of all people, elected leaders in the Golden State passed a bill last week to end the time limit for prosecuting rape and felony sex crimes. Under the California’s current law, rape and felony sex crimes must be tried within 10 years, unless DNA evidence comes to light after that time period. And sex crimes against children younger than 18 must be prosecuted before the victim turns 40. Cosby stands accused of assaulting more than 35 women in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s, but in several of their cases, the statute of limitations has expired.” By Leonard Greene, New York Daily News

Screening out sex predators
“The rising number of child sex abuse cases in Malaysia is a wake-up call for us to get a grip on the situation. It is an appalling crime, perpetrated on the most innocent and vulnerable members of society. For many Malaysians, the thought of an adult sexually abusing a child is inconceivable.” By New Strait Times Editorial Board

No righting the wrong when there’s no justice for victims
“It begins tentatively. A polite hug by strangers thrown into a horrific, tumultuous situation by a roll of the dice of the fates. In seconds it becomes real — arms holding each other tight … The shock and disbelief in the courtroom was palpable. How does a serial child molester get off so easy? Where was the justice in Mercer County for the men of today and the boys of long ago? The hugs don’t right the wrongs, but they are a moment of shared compassion for those who have witnessed the ravages of child sexual assault.” By Samantha Perry, Bluefield Daily Telegraph

The Pope’s child sex protection expert Father Hans Zollner on battling ‘evil’
“By his own admission, Father Hans Zollner’s job is ‘dark, bleak and heavy.’ Often described as the Pope’s expert in the fight against child abuse, he has heard countless tales from those who have suffered at the hands of priests. Zollner, a German, is president of the Centre for Child Protection at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He is also a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, set up by Pope Francis in 2014 with the single purpose of developing initiatives that could prevent future abuse within the church.” By shane Cowlishaw, Stuff.co.nz


Abuse victims protest outside Savannah diocese
Remembering the past and protecting children in the future was the focus of a protest in Savannah Thursday (Aug. 4) morning. Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests stood in front of the Savannah Catholic Diocese, holding up pictures of abused children.” By Andrew Davis, WSAV-TV


Louisville archdiocese sued over ‘erotic’ photos
“Parents of a young boy who claim their son was inappropriately photographed by a Roman Catholic priest, now a convicted sex offender, are suing the Archdiocese of Louisville for negligence. The Rev. Stephen Pohl pleaded guilty in March to a federal charge of viewing child pornography, admitting to accessing more than 100 pornographic images of nude underage boys on computers at the St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church rectory and office.” By Matthew Glowicki, Courier-Journal


Appelate court rules woman can testify what she said in confession in alleged abuse case
“A Louisiana appellate court on Aug. 1 ruled that a young woman who claims she was sexually abused as a minor by an adult member of the congregation of Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic church in Clinton can tell a jury what she claims to have told a priest during confession. In a 2-1 decision, three 1st Circuit Court of Appeals judges handed a victory to Rebecca Mayeux and her legal team, who are seeking damages for alleged sexual abuse by an adult parishioner Mayeux claims to have suffered from the age of 12.” By Andrew Burger, Louisiana Record


Portland Catholic diocese settles with six sexual abuse victims for $1.2 million
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland has settled a lawsuit for $1.2 million with six sexual abuse victims of a former priest. Additional details are expected to be released at a press conference late Monday (Aug. 15) morning at the office of Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian, who has represented hundreds of victims of pedophile priests.” By Eric Russell, Portland Press Herald
Maine diocese settles sex abuse lawsuit for $1.2 million, By Trisha Thadani, The Boston Globe


Abuse victims say St. Paul archdiocese can afford $80 million in compensation
“The committee representing clergy abuse victims in bankruptcy court has proposed its own financial reorganization plan for the Twin Cities archdiocese, including provisions to mortgage the St. Paul Cathedral and to halt support payments to abusive priests and give the money to abuse victims instead. The plan, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Monday (Aug. 22), requires the archdiocese to contribute $80 million to abuse victims in its financial reorganization instead of the $13 million proposed by the archdiocese.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune


Judge sanctions advocacy group in Missouri clergy abuse suit
“A federal judge has admonished an advocacy group for clergy abuse victims for defying her orders to release personal information about people who accused a priest of sexual misconduct, finding that the group plotted against the priest now suing for defamation. U.S. District Judge Carol Jackson, in a ruling Monday (Aug. 22) in St. Louis, cited the ‘deliberate and willful refusal’ by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests to turn over to the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang the information the group deems confidential.” By Jim Suhr, Associated Press, in St. Louis Post-Dispatch


21 alleged sex abuse victims settle with N.J. Catholic school
“Bergen Catholic High School has reached a $1.9 million settlement with 21 alleged sex abuse victims, a lawyer representing group told NorthJersey.com. The men said they were assaulted by brothers at the parochial school between 1963 and 1978.” By Sara Jerde, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com


Meet the only GOP state Senate hopeful endorsed by PAC fighting to help child sex abuse victims
“This one was personal. The founder of a political action committee pushing for a law to help child sex abuse victims Tuesday (Aug. 9) returned to the city where he himself was attacked as a kid to endorse a Republican state Senate candidate who supports the bill.” By Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News


Name clergy accused of sexual abuse, therapists say
“The Diocese of Harrisburg has been reluctant to publicly name all clergy accused of sexually abusing children, but therapists who work with trauma survivors say the Catholic Church should be completely transparent.” By Brandie Kessler, York Daily Record

State must investigate Harrisburg diocese
“… So she (Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane) might have been too distracted to read YDR’s story about priests accused of sexual abuse in the Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, which includes York County. But someone in her office must look into questions YDR’s report raises about how forthcoming and proactive the diocese (a different sort of old boys’ network) has been with priest abuse cases in our region. Someone with subpoena power.” By York Daily Record Editorial Board
Harrisburg bishop: My heart aches for abuse victims, By Bishop Ronald W. Gainer, York Daily Record


Hunter Catholic priest David O’Hearn sentenced to more than five years over child sex offences
“A Catholic priest who sexually assaulted boys during wrestling bouts has been sentenced to a minimum of five years and four months in jail after being convicted of 44 child sex offences against six victims. Priest David O’Hearn committed the assaults in the Hunter region while working as a trainee priest and priest in parishes including Cessnock, Muswellbrook and Windale in the 1980s and 90s.” By Michelle Brown, ABC News Australia

Police set to interview Cardinal George Pell
“Victoria Police is considering flying to Rome to interview Cardinal George Pell or interview him via videolink over complaints of sexual abuse against the cardinal made by two Ballarat men. It is believed the brief of evidence has been returned to Victoria Police and assistant commissioner Steve Fontana is assessing the claims.” By Broede Carmody, The Age

Chair of Royal Commission Justice Peter McClellan calls for ‘child-safe’ checklist
“The chair of the royal commission into child sexual abuse believes institutions should have to adopt a 10-point checklist of national standards to be classified as “child safe” – and monitored for compliance. Justice Peter McClellan discussed implications of findings from the royal commission in a key note address to be given on Monday at the Association of Children’s Welfare Agencies National Conference.” By Helen Gregory, Newcastle Herald

Catholic priest John Casey found not guilty of 16 child abuse charges
“Catholic priest and former police chaplain John Patrick Casey has been found not guilty of 16 charges relating to the sexual abuse of children in northern New South Wales in the mid-1980s. A jury did not deliver a verdict on 11 other charges relating to the same offences. The Director of Public Prosecutions has until September 21 to decide if those matters will be pursued.” By Bruce MacKenzie, ABC News Australia


‘You took my childhood,’ sex-abuse survivor tells Brett Mittlestedt in court
“Brett Mittelsteadt was a family man, trusted teacher, coach and active member of the Catholic church when he started sending sexual text messages to a girl less than half his age — who was also one of his students. The details are outlined in the agreed statement of facts, a list of details agreed on by the court when Mittelsteadt pleaded guilty on Monday morning to luring and touching a minor for a sexual purpose.” By Marion Wamica, CBC News


Fugitive Catholic priest at center of five-year manhunt arrested in Britain over historic sex abuse
“Catholic priest who skipped bail five years ago has been arrested on suspicion of nine counts of historic sexual assaults. Father Laurence Soper, 72, the former abbot of Ealing Abbey, was wanted on a European Arrest Warrant over allegations of child abuse.” By Camilla Turner, The Telegraph
Priest on the run for five years arrested at UK airport for child abuse, By The Journal


Guam priest admits guilt amid ongoing abuse scandal
“A priest in Guam has admitted to abusing around 20 children, a revelation that comes amid an ongoing investigation into abuse accusations surrounding the local archbishop.” By Catholic News Agency

Attorney says more victims were abused by clergy
Allegations of molestation made against Archbishop Anthony Apuron may have been only the tip of the iceberg. Last week, 73-year-old Leo Tudela testified before lawmakers alleging he was a victim of child sex abuse by three members of the church, one of whom was Father Louis Brouillard. In a phone interview with KUAM News last Friday (Aug. 5), Father Brouillard admitted he had molested young boys while on Guam.” By KUAM-TV


Church in India prepares policy to address clergy abuse
“Two top bodies of the Catholic church in India are now busy finalizing a policy to address sex abuse and other forms of abuse by clergy. ‘A draft policy is in the final stage now. It has been circulated among all bishops and major superiors in India,’ says Bishop Theodore Mascarenhas, secretary general of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India. Mascarenhas, who in July also became spokesperson for the church in India, says the standing committee, the executive body of the bishops conference, will finalize the draft at its biannual meeting Sept. 21-23 in Bangalore, southern India.” By Jose Kavi, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter