Voice of the Faithful Focus, Dec. 4, 2015

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


Editorial: U.S. church leadership is in transition
“In Florence, Italy, last month, Pope Francis addressed the Italian church and gave a bracing, 50-minute exhortation on how integral change is to a healthy life of the church. ‘Before the problems of the church, it is not useful to search for solutions in conservatism or fundamentalism, in the restoration of obsolete conduct and forms that no longer have the capacity of being significant culturally,’ he told the gathered clerics and laypeople.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Catholic Church corruption: Pope Francis orders Vatican audit amid mismanagement allegations
Pope Francis has ordered an audit of the Catholic Church’s wealth in what is being described as an ‘unprecedented’ look into its finances and high spending, Bloomberg reported Tuesday (Dec. 1). The Working-Party for the Economic Future was established with the Secretariat of State, the Vatican Bank and other agencies to examine corruption and mismanagement.” By Lydia Tomkiw, International Business Times

Vatican trial begins over leaked documents
“Five people, including two Italian journalists, went on trial in a Vatican courtroom on Tuesday (Nov. 24) on charges of illegally procuring and circulating confidential documents that were used to write two tell-all books detailing suspected mismanagement and corruption at the Vatican. The Vatican claims that by taking the documents, the defendants violated the ‘fundamental interests of the Holy See and the State,’ language it used in a formal indictment.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
Vatican indicts five for leaks, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Africa trip captured the ‘Pope of the Peripheries’ at his boldest
“Pope Francis has taken 11 foreign trips to date, and while each has reflected his priorities and outlook in some way, his Nov. 25-30 outing to Africa may be remembered as the single journey that best captured his entire agenda in miniature. In effect, the trip allowed Francis to deliver on arguably his two most keenly felt personal ambitions: Making the word’s peripheries the center of the Church, and centering the Church on God’s mercy.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Pope ends African trip with visit to a mosque, By Somini Sengupta, The New York Times

Re-Jesusing the Catholic Church
How can a church whose officialdom is worldly and corrupt present Jesus to the world? Pope Francis thinks it cannot. He once told people at the morning mass in his small chapel, ‘To be believable, the Church has to be poor.’ He has spoken of personal revulsion at seeing a priest drive an expensive car. When he spoke of money as ‘the devil’s dung’ (he was quoting a church father, Saint Basil), some took this as an attack on Western capitalism. But it was a more general message, part of his apology in Bolivia for the church’s role in colonialism. And when Francis looks around the Vatican, he finds the same devil-stench.’” By Garry Wills, The Boston Globe


Vatican leaks trial adjourned
“A Vatican judge on Monday (Nov. 30) granted more time for the defense to prepare for a trial over the leak of confidential documents that has put a Spanish monsignor, a pair of Italian journalists, and two others in the dock. The documents detailed alleged greed, wasteful spending, and poor management inside the Vatican.” By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Why a criminal trial for leaks could boomerang on the Vatican
“Although it may be overshadowed both by Pope Francis’ trip to Africa this week and, in the United States, the Thanksgiving holiday, a Vatican trial that got started on Tuesday (Nov. 22) runs the risk of boomeranging in its effort to claim the moral high ground amid a recent cycle of embarrassing leaks.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Journalists in Vatican trial protest rights’ violations at first hearing, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Cardinal George Pell locked in two-front battle at Vatican, By Desmond O’Grady, The Sydney Morning Herald


Myers’ letter regulating Communion perceived as ‘non-issue’
“If the ideal Catholic parish is, as Pope Francis describes it, a field hospital for the wounded, Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., thinks it should include some triage. In a Sept. 22 letter to pastors, the archbishop reviewed who is welcome to Communion in the four counties in northeast New Jersey that comprise the archdiocese.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic bishops revise voter guide after debate over ‘Pope Francis agenda’
“The nation’s Catholic bishops on Tuesday (Nov. 17) passed an updated guide for Catholic voters ahead of next year’s elections, but only after airing unusually sharp disagreements on how much they can, and should, adjust their priorities to match those of Pope Francis. More than any other item on the agenda of the bishops’ annual meeting here, the debate over the lengthy voter guide, called ‘Faithful Citizenship,’ revealed deep divides among the bishops and provided a snapshot of the extent of the ‘Francis effect’ on the U.S. hierarchy.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service
‘Faithful Citizenship,’ what next? By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter
Controversy over voting doc shows divisions among U.S. bishops, By Catholic News Agency

U.S. bishops reject Pope Francis’ priorities
“The U.S. Catholic bishops have now gathered four times for their semi-annual meeting since Pope Francis was elected in March of 2014: twice for the fall plenary and twice for their spring meeting. It’s understandable that their earliest meetings during his pontificate didn’t necessarily reflect his imprint. It takes time for a pope to make his priorities known and to issue the formal encyclicals and other documents that leave the permanent mark of his papacy on the church.” By Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches

U.S. bishops elect new chairs
“At their fall meeting in Baltimore, the U.S. bishops elected new chairs for a number of committees of the bishops conference. The results continue the tradition of electing archbishops when they are running against bishops, with one exception.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter


There was a synod? About what?
“They had a synod on the family in Rome last October, but nobody went. Oh, lots of media folks were there, and a couple of hundred bishops and a handful of others were “in the hall,” as they say. But who really attended … How many of them actually followed the synod? How many got down deep into the business about factions and language groups and all that? How many kept up with the Communion wars about divorced and remarried Catholics?” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter


A Catholic contemplates ‘Spotlight’
“For Catholics, ‘Spotlight’ landed in theaters this holiday season like the proverbial coal in the Christmas stocking. Watching the recounting of The Boston Globe’s clergy pedophile investigation resurrected old feelings in this practicing Catholic. I seethed again at the men who committed these crimes and covered them up.” By Rich Barlow, WBUR-FM

Panel on ‘Spotlight’ film explores priest sex abuse scandal, institutional cover-up and advocacy for victims
“The film ‘Spotlight’ focuses on the dogged pursuit by Boston Globe reporters to expose the Catholic Church’s cover-up of the sexual abuse of children by Boston priests. But there is much more to the story, as evidenced by a wide-ranging panel discussion of the movie last week at Harvard Law School that touched on legal issues, secrets and shame, and even a potential lawsuit against the filmmakers.” By Lewis Rice, Harvard Law Today

‘Spotlight’ tops Gotham Independent Film Awards
“The investigative journalism procedural ‘Spotlight’ won best feature at the 25th annual Gotham Independent Film Awards, landing the first of what could be a string of awards for Tom McCarthy’s acclaimed newsroom drama. The film, about the Boston Globe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting on sex abuse by Catholic priests, also was honored for its screenplay by McCarthy and Josh Singer, and it was given a special award for its ensemble cast that includes Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo and Rachel McAdams.” By Jake Coyle, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

‘Spotlight’ draws a curious – but no longer outraged – crowd
Viewers came to watch ‘Spotlight’ for its dramatic themes: clergy sex abuse and power, God and media. Or they came for its top-flight cast and Oscar buzz. But it seems unlikely that the film, which opened to hundreds of theaters Friday (Nov. 20), will revive the general public rage and disgust with predatory priests and the church that hid them as the Globe’s stories did in 2002.” By Cathy Lynn Grossman, Religion News Service
Greg Kesich: Movie on revelation sof priest sex abuse reminds us that victims’ pain never ends, By Greg Kesich, Portland Press Herald

Film ‘Spotlight’ features clergy pedophilia scandal – Vatican Radio hails it as ‘honest’ and ‘compelling’
“The 128-minute, star-studded film features the true story of how The Boston Globe revealed the cover-up of child molestation within the local Catholic Archdiocese thirteen years ago. Since originally airing in a film festival in Venice, Spotlight has been screened in select theaters off-and-on and has been met with several clashing reactions. One Vatican Radio commentator claimed The Boston Globe’s reporting helped the United States Catholic Church ‘accept fully the sin, to admit it publicly, and to pay all the consequences.’” By Kenya Sinclair, Catholic Online
New film ‘Spotlight’ focuses on clergy abuse, By Alejandra Molina, By The Press Enterprise
Spotlight on Patheos movie club, By Patheos.com


Some African Catholics call on pope to let priests marry
“Throngs of Roman Catholics are expected to greet Pope Francis when he visits East Africa this week (Nov. 23). But the Rev. Anthony Musaala won’t be a part of the official welcoming delegation. Two years ago, Ugandan Archbishop Cyprian Lwanga suspended Musaala indefinitely — barring him from administering the sacraments — when Musaala wrote an open letter that challenged his priestly vows of celibacy, condemned sexual abusers among the clergy and criticized priests who father children and abandon them.” By Tonny Onyulo, Religion News Service


Association of Catholic Priests voices ‘disquiet’ over Vatican’s selection of Irish bishops
“The Association of Catholic Priests in Ireland is to write to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops expressing its 1,000 members’ ‘grave disquiet’ over the current selection process for bishops in the Irish church. A resolution was carried unanimously at the association’s annual meeting in Athlone Nov. 24 which criticized the ‘lack of any credible process of consultation’ with priests and people in recent years and the Vatican’s ‘preference for candidates drawn from a particular mindset.’” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

Archdiocese polls Catholics on views of church, leaders
“The Archdiocese of Boston has hired a top Democratic consultant to poll Catholics in Eastern Massachusetts — most of whom no longer attend weekly Mass — to find out what they think about the church and its leaders. By Lisa Wangsness, The Boston Globe

Call to Action conference focuses on laity’s role in reform of church and society
“On the evening of Nov. 6, more than 1,000 people gathered in Milwaukee to kick off the 39th annual Call to Action conference. The event offered an infusion of lay empowerment in a season dominated by the papal visit to the U.S. and the Synod of Bishops in Rome. By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter
Chittister: Confront challenges, seize opportunities, build a new world, By National Catholic Reporter Staff


Major changes coming for Roman Curia
Pope Francis goes to Africa leaves tomorrow (Nov. 25) for a six-day, three-nation apostolic journey that is supposed to culminate next Monday in Central African Republic … No matter how the trip unfolds, Francis will not be coming back to anything remotely considered ‘peace and quiet’ in Rome.” By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis in Africa 2015
Compilation of National Catholic Reporter coverage of Pope Francis’ visit to Africa, which ended Nov. 30.

Pope wraps up African visit; says ‘God is peace, ‘salaam’
Pope Francis wrapped up his six-day trip to Africa in the war-torn Central Africa Republic on Monday (Nov. 30) by warning that religious conflicts are spawning civil war, terrorism and suffering throughout the continent. “Together we must say no to hatred, to revenge and to violence, especially violence perpetrated in the name of a religion or of God himself,” the pope said in Bangui, the capital.” By Tonny Onyulo, Religion News Service

Pope Francis arrives in Kenya fed up with graft
Pope Francis is known for his humility, but many Kenyans still could not believe what they saw him do when he arrived in Nairobi on Wednesday (Nov. 25): He drove in from the airport in a little gray Honda. The Kenyan bigwigs in the official motorcade from the airport rode in polished Mercedes and fancy four-by-fours, but the pope waved to the crowds from the back seat of what one Kenyan newspaper dubbed a “lowly miniature Honda car.” y Jeffrey Gettleman, The New York Times


Mission abandoned: did we betray John XXIII’s vision for Vatican II?
Fifty years after the conclusion of the Second Vatican Council, the Church is still bedevilled by competing and often mutually antagonistic answers to the question, “What was it all about?” By George Weigel, Catholic Herald

U.S. Catholic churches recruit African priests
“Issac Makovo’s smile grows and his eyes twinkle when he talks about his hometown of Mombasa, Kenya. Father Issac is in his third year of ministry in a Catholic Church located in the small community of Hickory, Maryland. Father Issac was recruited by a Kenyan vocation director who was studying in the United States.’ By Carolyn Presutti, Voice of America News

Conference asks: What might the new face of the church look like?
“Jamie Manson, a columnist and book review editor for NCR, has traveled all around the country over the past five years talking to different Catholic groups. ‘There are no questions I get more than ‘What is the future of the church in this country?’ and ‘Where are our young adults?’ Her answer, she said, might have come as a shock to some of the 750 gathered Oct. 24 to mark the 50th anniversary celebration of National Catholic Reporter with a conference titled ‘New Faces, New Voices, New Ways of Being Church: An Exploration of the American Catholic Church Going Forward.’” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

Church involvement varies widely among U.S. Christians
“While most Americans still identify as Christian, there are big differences when it comes to how involved they are with a congregation – or whether they’re involved at all. Indeed, some of the largest Christian denominations in the U.S. have relatively low levels of involvement among their members.” By Aleksandra Sandstrom and Becka A. Alper, Pew Research Center


A more conservative Catholic Church awaits Pope Francis in Africa
Headlines here call him the ‘Pope of Hope.’ Because of him, Kenyans say they are more enthusiastic about going to church, praying regularly and treating others kindly. They But as Pope Francis begins his first trip to Africa on Wednesday (Nov. 25), he will also face a powerful and assertive Roman Catholic Church in Africa that is wary of calls to make the institution more welcoming to people who are divorced, gay or cohabiting without being married.” By Jeffrey Gettleman and Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times


Trial begins for former Ctholic priest accused of stealing $180,000 from his church
“Robert Couture enjoyed taking in Broadway shows, jet-setting in Europe and driving his Cadillac — and he did it all on a meagre priest’s salary. Assistant Crown attorney Tom Meehan said Couture was an intelligent, hardworking priest who did his job ‘dutifully.’ ‘He was also keeping a secret,’ Meehan said Tuesday (Nov. 24) during his opening remarks at the former priest’s criminal trial. ‘He was stealing significant sums of money that didn’t belong to him.’” By Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star

Catholic priest admits stealing $714K from churchgoers
“A Catholic priest will be sent to court after admitting he stole more than 700,000 euros ($741,000) collected from churchgoers and buyers of holy candles over a quarter of a century, the French public prosecutor’s office said on Tuesday (Dec. 1).” By Reuters on Huffington Post

Bishop says Catholic Diocese of Toledo is experiencing ‘serious financial challenges’
“The Catholic Diocese of Toledo faces ‘serious financial challenges’ that will require the sale of diocese assets and other changes, the bishop told parishioners in a recent letter. Bishop Daniel Thomas said the concerns are at the diocesan level — not parishes — and changes will start with its administrative offices, The Blade newspaper reported. He insisted that the diocese, which serves 320,000 Catholics in 19 counties across northern Ohio, isn’t going bankrupt.” By Associated Press in Daily Journal

Priest’s allies say his good works outweigh his crime
“A Catholic priest facing a prison sentence for embezzling money from his prosperous suburban Detroit church is getting support from dozens of supporters who are urging a judge to show mercy. Federal prosecutors are seeking a 37-month sentence for the Rev. Ed Belczak, who is returning to federal court Tuesday (Dec. 1). He pleaded guilty to fraud in an embezzlement scheme at St. Thomas More Church in Troy. Investigators say he stole about $573,000.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times

Diocese of Helena developing retail center to boost funds
“The Diocese of Helena is looking to develop nearly 450,000 square feet of retail, commercial, and hotel space. The Independent Record reports that the diocese has contracted with Trinity Restoration LLC for the retail sites in the future Trinity Center near the Interstate 15 and Custer Street interchange.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


Archbishop: Church buried complaints to protect its reputation
“The Church buried complaints against clergy accused of sexually abusing children and misled parishioners by allowing paedophile priests to resign for health reasons, according to the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart. Yesterday (Dec. 1) the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse turned its focus to paedophile priests including Nazareno Fasciale, who retired four decades after allegations of child sex abuse against him were first referred to senior Church officials. Archbishop Hart agreed the Church suppressed complaints to protect its reputation and that the response by senior officials in the Fasciale case was ‘totally unacceptable.’” By CathNews.com

The litany of child abuse by Catholic priests that no longer shocks the world
“Not long ago, Tuesday (Nov. 24) morning’s revelations at the royal commission into institutional responses to child abuse would have made headlines round the world. Priest after priest in the Melbourne archdiocese of the Catholic church was caught abusing children. And for decades bishop after bishop ignored these crimes. The priests were caught abusing as soon as they left the seminary. They kept abusing despite ‘treatment’ and despite being shifted from parish to parish. The church knew what was going on and for a very long time no one called the police.” By David Marr, The Guardian

British sexual abuse probe will include Catholic and Anglican churches
“The head of a British inquiry into child sex abuse says the Anglican and Catholic churches will be among the institutions investigated in the wide-ranging probe. Justice Lowell Goddard on Friday (Nov. 27) identified some of the targets of the public inquiry into decades of alleged abuse. Politicians will also come under investigation.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com
British sex abuse inquiry to focus on churches, politicians, By Trevor Grundy, Religion News Service


Ex-pastor facing child pornography charge pleads not guilty
“A former Catholic priest charged with viewing child pornography at his Louisville church has pleaded not guilty in federal court. Federal investigators say 57-year-old Stephen Pohl used computers at St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church, where he worked.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


St. John’s Abbey monk accused of abuse reports 200 sexual encounters
One priest reported 200 sexual encounters, including some with students at St. John’s University and prep school. Another recorded the names of dozens of boys he brought to a cabin, some of whom he sexually abused. Another abuser was paid $30,000 by St. John’s Abbey to support him as he left the clergy. These are among findings from the first batch of personnel files from St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville made public Tuesday (Nov. 24). The abbey was required to release its internal files on priests credibly accused of child sex abuse as part of a lawsuit settled earlier this year. It marks the first time the abbey — implicated in clergy abuse cases for two decades — has opened its confidential files.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune
Monks accused of five decades of sexual abuse of children in Minnesota abbey, By Regina F. Graham, Daily Mail

Documents: Diocese know of priests’ sex abuse history
“Newly released documents indicate the Diocese of Duluth had knowledge of priests’ history of sexual abuse before bringing them to work in the Northland. Twin Cities law firm Jeff Anderson & Associates, which is active in clergy abuse lawsuits, released those documents Monday (Nov. 16).” By WDIO-TV
Judge upholds abuse charges against Hibbing priest, By Tom Olsen, Duluth News Tribune


Two more say they were abused by New Mexico priests
“Two more men have come forward to say they were abused by New Mexico priests. They decided to tell their stories after hearing about the new movie “Spotlight,” which premieres Friday. It tells the story of how a group of journalists uncovered the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church.” By Sandra Ramirez, KOAT-TV


Victorian principal was warned about pedophile priest, inquiry told
“A Melbourne bishop told a principal who raised concerns about the new parish priest ‘once a pedophile always a paedophile,’ an inquiry has heard. Former St James primary school principal Patricia Taylor went to her regional bishop, Peter Connors, after being warned about Father Wilfred ‘Bill’ Baker, who arrived at the North Richmond parish in 1992.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

Catholic church failed to act on pedophile priests, says Melbourne archbishop
“The Catholic church failed to act on the ‘horror story’ of pedophiles in its midst, Melbourne archbishop Denis Hart has told the royal commission. ‘What is now apparent to me is that there was knowledge and a failure to act,’ Hart told the child abuse royal commission.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

Catholic church accused of sending pedophile priests to a Melbourne parish because it was poor
“The Catholic Church sent a string ofpedophile priests, from the 1970s to 1990s, to a poor Melbourne parish because it did not care about disadvantaged parishioners, an inquiry has heard. One of the pedophile priests sent to Doveton, 34 km south of Melbourne, left because he was having sex with a number of women, while his successor told a girl he indecently assaulted in confession ‘the Lord forgives you,’ the child abuse royal commission heard.” By Australian Associated Press and Nicole Low for Daily Mail Australia

Catholic Church releases new guidelines to deal with child sex abuse claims, critics label ‘disingenuous’
“The Catholic Church has released new guidelines to deal with claims of child sexual abuse, which it says will promote a more compassionate approach towards victims. But child abuse survivors and their lawyers say the guidelines are disingenuous because they do not expressly reject the controversial Ellis defense — a court ruling that the church is not a legal entity which can be sued.” By Lorna Knowles, ABC News Australia

Child abuse royal commission: hundreds of sexual abuse claims against Archdiocese of Melbourne
More than 450 people have made sexual abuse claims or substantiated complaints against Archdiocese of Melbourne priests, employees or volunteers since 1980, an inquiry has heard. At a public hearing in Melbourne, the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse said it had collected data on the conduct of Catholic priests that has never before been made public.” By ABC News Australia
Royal Commission: former principal says Catholic Church failed to protect students, By Samantha Donovan, ABC News Australia

Alleged Newcastle pedophile network to be exposed by royal commission (clergy sexual abuse in the Anglican Church in Australia)
“A web of child sexual abuse in the Newcastle Anglican diocese has alleged links to politicians, business people, doctors and members of the city’s legal fraternity, the ABC understands.” By Giselle Wakatama and staff, ABC News Australia


El Salvador: Priest faces abuse inquiry
“The archdiocese of San Salvador said Thursday (Nov. 26) that it had suspended a high-ranking priest while the church investigated allegations that he had sexually abused a girl over an eight-year period beginning when she was 9 years old. By Gene Palumbo, The New York Times
El Salvador continues crackdown on pedophile priests, By Eana Maniebo, Latin Correspondent


Ex-priest loses Vatican appeal against defrocking for ‘abusing minors’
“A former priest in the Diocese of Cloyne has lost his second and final appeal against dismissal from the priesthood after the Vatican found a canonical court was right to defrock him for ‘the crime of abusing minors.’ Dan Duane (77) had an initial appeal against a decision by the Canonical Court in Ireland to dismiss him from the priesthood rejected in January 2015. He attempted to make second appeal to the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome in August 2015.” By Barry Roche, The Irish Times


Philippine presidential candidate alleges clergy sexual abuse
“At least two Catholic bishops urged a Philippine presidential candidate to speak up about his allegation that he is a victim of sex abuse by priests. ‘I’m begging the good mayor on bended knees to please go to the civil court, and there file a case against these priests,’ said retired Archbishop Oscar Cruz of Lingayen-Dagupan.” By Joe Torres, UCSNews.com, Manila