Voice of the Faithful Focus, May 14, 2015

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


Vatican publishes statues for commission to protect minors
“The Holy See this morning (May 8) published the statutes for the Commission for the Protection of Minors, giving that body canonical and juridical status within the Roman Curia. It may not seem like they are very earth-shattering or, in the event, Church-shattering, but they are.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican approves statutes for papal commission for protecting minors, By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

Archbishop Philip Wilson pleads not guilty to concealing child sex abuse
“Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has pleaded not guilty to concealing child sex abuse in the Catholic church via his lawyer in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday (May 7)… Archbishop Wilson is the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest.” By Gabriel Wingate-Pearce, The Sydney Morning Herald
Adelaide Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson pleads not guilty to concealing child sex abuse, By Dan Cox, ABC News Australia

Are things looking up for women in the church?
“A plethora of conferences about women have popped up all over Rome in the last three months. The Vatican’s former hard-line freeze on discussing women’s roles may at last be thawing out.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

KC priest criticizes prosecution of Bishop Robert Finn, and prosecutor fires back
“As the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese tries to move past the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, a priest has roiled the waters with a letter alleging that the criminal charges against Finn were politically motivated. The prosecutor who filed the case, Jean Peters Baker, this week (May 6) responded with a strongly worded letter of her own.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

Editorial: Hierarchy’s flaws persist despite collegial end to LCWR investigation
“It seems, in what can be gleaned from the final report of the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, that a certain reasonableness ultimately prevailed in an exercise that has rightfully been called ‘a disaster’ … The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s ‘assessment’ of LCWR was a disaster, an unnecessary sign of distrust. Keeping that assessment in mind should temper the celebration coming from some quarters of the church and commentariat acclaiming the success of ‘dialogue.’” Editorial by National Catholic Reporter


Editorial: Finn’s resignation is a bitter but necessary reckoning
“The resignation of Robert Finn as bishop of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., is a bitter but necessary moment of reckoning for leaders of the Catholic church if they hope to begin to deal seriously with their long betrayal of the community’s trust. Let’s be clear that this is only a beginning.” Editorial by National Catholic Reporter


Married priests wouldn’t ‘surprise’ Archbishop Cupich
“The possibility of married Roman Catholic priests was part of a candid and revealing conversation with Chicago Archbishop Blase Cupich. CBS 2 Chief Correspondent Jay Levine sat down with Archbishop Cupich, who said that is wouldn’t surprise him, though not right away. The Archbishop reminded us that Pope has already told the worldwide bishops conferences to consider it and report back.” By CBS2-TV Chicago


The closed door of Pope Francis
“Since the end of the 2014 synod, he has spoken dozens of times on abortion, divorce, and homosexuality. But he hasn’t said a single word more in support of the “openness” demanded by the innovators.” By Sandro Magister, Espresso

U.S. clergy, including five bishops, ask synod to ‘stand firm’ on marriage
“A group of U.S. clergy is circulating a statement addressed to the delegates who will meet in Rome in October for the Synod of Bishops on the family, urging them to ‘stand firm on the Church’s traditional understanding of marriage, human sexuality and pastoral practices.’ The statement was crafted by Credo Priests, a group organized by Fr. Jerry Pokorsky, pastor at St. Michael Catholic Church in Annandale, Va. Pokorsky did not return a phone call requesting an interview.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Synod will endorse Church teaching on family – Cardinal Pell, By Elise Harris, Catholic News Agency
Bishop Davies heartened by priests’ synod letter, By Madeleine Teahan, Catholic Herald

Synod: the proposal of a “third way”
“Pope Francis, in closing the previous session of the synod, had tough words for both of these forms of extremism. It has in fact become clear that he wants the Church to find and take a ‘third way’: absolutely faithful to the commandment of Jesus on marriage, and at the same time loving toward those who have violated it. What follows is an extract from a theological essay that proposes precisely to illustrate a possible ‘third way.’” By Sandro Magister, Espresso

A crisis in the German church? Synod questionnaire would suggest so
“The Synod of Bishops began receiving in April responses to a questionnaire that had been sent to dioceses the world over in preparation for October’s Synod on the Family. The results from Germany indicate that most Catholics there hope for an openness to divorce and remarriage, as well as homosexual acts.” By Catholic News Service in Catholic World Report


Not-getting-it department (Episcopal Division)
The saga continues. You may recall the bishop of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., judged guilty of knowingly failing to report suspected child sexual abuse, was sentenced to two years’ probation with conditions. But when the bishop — Robert Finn — resigned last month, he had a few calendar items the high-ups approved: diaconal and priestly ordinations.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

Santa Fe’s new archbishop reflects on role of bishops in the Francis era
“Pope Francis is setting an example of leadership that Catholics in the U.S. expect their bishops to follow in their lives and ministry, the new archbishop of Santa Fe, N.M., said in an interview with NCR on Wednesday (Apr. 29). Archbishop-designate John Wester said the pope is also challenging people around the world to ‘radically change their understanding of the causes of poverty and to ask sometimes difficult questions about their personal, political and economic lives.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Bishop Finn takes flight, but is the summer of Pope Francis upon us?
“Mindful of Aristotle’s caution that one swallow does not a summer make, there is still good reason to celebrate that after years of intense activism, advocacy and grass-roots organizing from abuse survivors, advocates, Catholic clergy and parishioners, the Vatican has finally, formally and unceremoniously removed Bishop Robert Finn from the beleaguered diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo.” By Peter Isley, National Catholic Reporter

After 50 years, Vatican II shaping lives
“Just like the pebble dropped on the proverbial pond, the effects of the Second Vatican Council ripple outward and down through generations 50 years later. A rich example could be seen here (Chicago) Wednesday (Apr. 29), when 460 supporters and friends of the Catholic Theological Union gathered for its annual Trustee Dinner.” By Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter


Pew survey: Percentage of U.S. Catholics drops and Catholicism is losing numbers faster than any denomination
“For years, two truisms dominated coverage of the US Catholic Church: about one quarter of the population is Catholic and each year at Easter, Catholics entering the church offset those leaving it. But new data suggests a new story. A report released Tuesday (May 12) by the Pew Forum finds that the total number of Catholics in the United States dropped by 3 million since 2007, now comprising about 20 percent – or one-fifth – of the total population.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com
America’s changing religious landscape, By Pew Research Center
Goodbye, Christians, By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal
Big drop in share of Americans calling themselves Christians, By Nate Cohn, The New York Times

Love, marriage, bioethics, new member of CDF unafraid to discuss thorny issues
“On Wednesday (May6), Pope Francis appointed Archbishop Roland Minnerath of Dijon, France and Archbishop Anthony Colin Fisher OP of Sydney, Australia, as members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Following his appointment, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP very kindly gave Vatican Radio an interview where he discussed his new role, as well as contemporary issues facing the Church and the world such as love, bioethics, marriage and family, personhood and dignity.” By Vatican Radio

New York archdiocese will close seven more churches
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced on Friday (May 8) the shuttering of seven more churches as part of the biggest reorganization in its history, a process of parish consolidations that will leave the archdiocese 20 percent smaller than it was last year.” By Andy Newman, The New York Times
Mergers of 31 additional NY Catholic churches announced, By Associated Press in The Washington Post

The future of the Catholic Church
Whether he is wearing a poncho, addressing congress, or admitting he is a bit of a Luddite, it seems Pope Francis rarely goes a day without making the news … But while Francis may make the church more inviting, he is not reason enough to stay. Thankfully, there are many good reasons to feel hopeful about the future of the Catholic Church, and many reasons for young Catholics to stick around, long after the Francis frenzy fades.” By Kerry Weber, Huffington Post

Boston Archdiocese, Catholic parishioners battle over church eviction
The (Boston) archdiocese went to court this week (May 6) to try to evict the group of parishioners (holding vigil), but St. Frances (Xavier Cabrini) Church (in Scituate) wasn’t alone: The archdiocese said in 2004 it was closing nearly a quarter of its churches as a result of declining attendance, too few priests, and financial problems that were compounded by settlements from the clergy sex-abuse scandal, a crisis that spread across the country and globe.” By National Public Radio


Comeback of Honduran ‘vice-pope’ symbolizes Pope Francis era
“Many things changed on March 13, 2013, the day Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina was elected as Pope Francis. Perhaps nothing mutated as dramatically as the career of Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, a leading progressive voice in Catholicism.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Deal imports American bottom-line accounting to Italy’s Catholic churches
“A number of Catholic parishes in Italy are set for a management overhaul, following a new training program launched on Tuesday (May 5) between the Villanova School of Business and the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.” By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service

Priest indicted on tax charges, another investigated for missing funds
“A priest from the San Jose Diocese has been indicted on federal fraud and tax evasion charges and a priest from the Cincinnati Archdiocese is under investigation for missing parish funds.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com


Pope Francis: Christians should support equal pay for women
“Women are still prohibited from most jobs in the Catholic church but Pope Francis has said that the wage gap between men and women was a ‘pure scandal’ that Christians ought to reject. ‘Why is it taken for granted that women must earn less than men? No! They have the same rights,’ he told tens of thousands of people at his general audience in St Peter’s Square on Wednesday (Apr. 29).” By Stephanie Kirchgaessner, The Guardian
To have a truly just church, Pope Francis must move beyond complementarity, By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

Catholicism undervalues women
“Like a Pringles vendor sounding an alarm about obesity, Pope Francis fashioned himself a feminist last week. You are not reading The Onion. It was an epic mismatch of messenger and message, and I say that as someone who is thankful for this pope, admires him greatly and believes that a change of tone even without a change in teaching has meaning and warrants celebration. But a change of tone in defiance of fact should be flagged (and flogged) as such. And neither Pope Francis nor any other top official in the bastion of male entitlement known as the Vatican can credibly assert concern about parity between the sexes. Their own kitchen is much too messy for them to call out the ketchup smudges in anybody else’s.” By Frank Bruni, The New York Times
Women, respect, and the Catholic Church, By Cruxnow.com


Philadelphia priest ordered to return to prison after bail hearing
Msgr. William Lynn was ordered to return to jail Friday (May1) after a hearing that recalled elements of the landmark 2012 trial that resulted in his conviction on a child endangerment charge. Common Pleas Court Judge Teresa Sarmina revoked bail for Lynn, remanding him to the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility in Northeast Philadelphia.” By Matthew Gambino, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Last clergy files released in Los Angeles eight years after deal
“An attorney for hundreds of sex abuse victims in Los Angeles released the last batch of files Friday (May1) kept by the Roman Catholic Church on priests accused of molesting children. The final 11 files were made public eight years after the Archdiocese of Los Angeles paid $660 million to settle hundreds of sex abuse claims. Overall, 205 confidential clergy files have been released by the nation’s largest archdiocese and more than two dozen religious orders.” By Gillian Flaccus, Associated Press

Opinion: Catholic Church leaders must be accountable for abuse
“In the last month, convictions of two priests who were found guilty of charges related to child sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia have been upheld by higher courts. In 2013, the Rev. Charles Engelhardt was convicted of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy at St. Jerome Roman Catholic Church in Philadelphia from 1998 to 1999 while the priest was in residence there … That same week, the conviction of former Catholic school lay teacher, Bernard Shero, was upheld for assaulting the same boy.” Editorial by Daily Local


Man alleges Catholic priest sexually abused him, sues L.A. Archdiocese
“A young man who alleges he was sexually abused by a pastor at the Catholic Church he attended in Covina sued the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The plaintiff, identified only as John CJ Doe, alleges child sexual abuse and negligence. The Los Angeles Superior Court suit filed Thursday (May 7) also names as defendants the Rev. Christopher Cunningham and St. Louise de Marillac Church.” By Debbie L. Skylar, MyNewsLA.com


Priest removed as pastor of east-central Illinois parishes
“The Rev. Robert ‘Bud’ DeGrand, a Roman Catholic priest who was alleged to have sexually abused a youth while he was serving in Jacksonville more than 30 years ago, has been permanently removed as pastor of the four east-central Illinois parishes he was currently leading.” By The State Journal-Register

Appeals court upholds former priest’s sex abuse conviction
“A former Roman Catholic priest serving a prison sentence for sexual abuse has lost an appeal of his conviction. The Kentucky Court of Appeals this week upheld James Schook’s conviction on three counts of sodomy and one count of indecent or immoral practices.” By Associated Press on WTVQ-TV, Lexington, Kentucky

Two sue priest, nun, Louisville archdiocese on sex abuse claim
“Two men are suing a Catholic priest, the Louisville Archdiocese and a Dominican nun, claiming they were sexually abused by the priest in the 1970s and the church failed to protect them. The Rev. James Schook, was convicted last year of molesting one of the two. He is serving a 15-year prison sentence.” By WLKY-TV

Hibbing priest arrested on sexual misconduct charges
“A Hibbing priest has been arrested on charges of sexual misconduct with a minor. The Rev. Brian Lederer, 29, a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth, was arrested in Hibbing on Tuesday (May 5) as a result of allegations of sexual misconduct, according to a news release from the diocese office.” By Duluth News Tribune
Hibbing priest charged with touching teen girls inappropriately, By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio


$3 million in legal fees paid by Kansas City Catholic diocese in the past fiscal year
“The Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese paid more than $3 million in legal fees on sexual abuse cases in the past fiscal year, raising the total litigation costs to more than $10 million since one of its priests was charged with producing child pornography four years ago”. By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

Diocese denies that archbishop covered up priest abuse
“Bishop Robert Finn, who was convicted three years ago of failing to report suspected child abuse, has resigned, but some in the Catholic community are still angry. The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests maintains that Kansas City, KS, Archbishop Joseph Naumann, who was appointed temporary leader of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese after Finn resignation, isn’t the right choice.” By Chris Oberholtz and Elisabeth Rentschler, KCTV-TV


Missoula attorneys: Helena Diocese shows willingness to reform in sex abuse settlement
“Although hundreds of sexual abuse victims who sued the Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena stand to share a $20 million settlement, a pair of Missoula attorneys who represented the survivors say the non-monetary portion of the settlement – including a requirement that churches establish a “whistleblower” policy – is equally important.” By David Erickson, Missoulian

Diocese of Helena posts names of clergy accused of abuse
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena has posted on its website the names of former priests and other employees who were accused of sexually abusing children. The list, posted Wednesday (Apr. 29), is one of the conditions of settling lawsuits filed by hundreds of people who said they were abused by priests, nuns, and others dating back to the 1940s.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


Incoming archbishop faces criticism over abuse cases
“Salt Lake City Bishop John Wester takes over as the head of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe this summer, he’ll inherit a flock haunted for decades by allegations of sexual abuse by priests. During his introduction last week, Wester referred to sex abuse as ‘a terrible, terrible sin’ and called protection of children in the church ‘more important than anything.’” By Patrick Malone, Santa Fe New Mexican
Archbishop on sex abuse, By KOAT-TV

Gallup diocese, abuse victims begin mediation
“A bankruptcy judge has ordered the Roman Catholic Diocese of Gallup, N.M., its insurance carriers and lawyers representing 58 alleged sexual-abuse victims to begin mediation no later than July 15. Judge David Thuma, who oversees the diocese’s bankruptcy proceedings, signed off on mediation at the request of both alleged victims and the diocese, which stretches across broad swaths of northern Arizona and New Mexico.” By Tom Corrigan, The Wall Street Journal


Editorial: Catholic Church acting on its promise of change
“Perhaps the most positive thing that can be said at this time about the removal of a priest in Pine Bush because of sex abuse allegations involving a 19-year-old male parishioner is that the Catholic Church appears to be dealing with it as a matter of serious public concern rather than an internal matter to be concealed, covered-up or denied.” Editorial by Times Herald-Record


Priest charges with sexual assault defrocked
“A Rhode Island priest charged with five counts of first degree sexual assault has been defrocked. Barry Meehan was dismissed from the priesthood Thursday (May 7), according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.” By Shaun Towne, WPRI-TV


Lawyers in Milwaukee bankruptcy proceedings threaten to drag out litigation
“Lawyers representing the Milwaukee archdiocese in bankruptcy proceedings indicated that they will continue to play hardball to protect some or all of more than $55 million that the archdiocese shifted into a trust fund for the care of nine cemeteries it operates.” By Marie Rohde, National Catholic Reporter


Defrocked priest David Rapson jailed for sexual abuse of schoolboys at Catholic boarding school
Defrocked priest David Rapson has been sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison for the rape and indecent assault of six boys in Victoria during the 1970s, 80s and 90s.” By Radio Australia

Top Melbourne school admits historical sex abuse
“The principal at one of Melbourne’s top private schools has, for the first time, admitted the extent of child sex abuse that took place on college grounds. Nine Xavier College students were sexually abused at the school in the 1960s and 70s, according to principal Chris Hayes. Another six other former students are in the process of having their claims heard.” By Jessica Longbottom, The New Daily

Pedophile priests to give evidence at Ballarat hearings
Catholic clergy who have been found guilty of sexually abusing children will give evidence in Ballarat this month (May) at the Royal Commission, reports The Australian. It is the first time convicted Catholic clergy will be called as witnesses before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which will also investigate the impact of these crimes on the community of Ballarat.” By CathNews.com


No evidence of sex abuse by Father Paul Morton
“A Roman Catholic priest will not face any criminal charges over allegations of historical sexual abuse after police found no evidence to support the claim. Father Paul Morton was suspended from St Bride’s parish in Cambuslang, South Lanarkshire, in October while police investigated a complaint against him.” By BBC News

Cardinal’s shame over pedophile priest
“The former leader of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales had said he feels ‘sorrow and shame’ for allowing a known paedophile to continue working as a priest. Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor admitted that his decision to appoint Michael Hill as an airport chaplain instead of reporting him to the police left him free to abuse again.” By John Bingham , The Telegraph


Inquiry to focus on priest abuse
(May 11, 2015) “Paedophile priest Father Brendan Smyth will be the subject of a focused investigation as part of a public inquiry into historical child abuse in Northern Ireland. The serial child molester frequented Catholic residential homes and was convicted of more than 100 child abuse charges.” By Belfast Telegraph