Voice of the Faithful Focus, Nov. 20, 2015

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


Chilean bishop says he knew nothing of priest’s sex abuse
“A bishop in Chile says he had no knowledge of the sexual abuses committed by the country’s most infamous pedophile priest. Bishop Juan Barros also said Friday (Nov. 13) that he didn’t help the Rev. Fernando Karadima get a trip to France.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com
Chilean court asks Vatican for records in abuse case, By Buenos Aires Herald

Catholicism can and must change, Francis forcefully tells Italian church gathering
“Pope Francis has strongly outlined a new, comprehensive vision for the future of the Catholic Church, forcefully telling an emblematic meeting of the entire Italian church community here that our times require a deeply merciful Catholicism that is unafraid of change … Francis said Catholics must realize: ‘We are not living an era of change but a change of era.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis says Catholics must be open to change, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

‘Spotlight’ review roundup: did critics like the film, which focuses on Catholic Church’s Sex abuse scandal
“Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton and Mark Ruffalo tackle some pretty controversial subject matter in their latest movie, ‘Spotlight,’ which is already getting some Oscar buzz. Spotlight hit select theaters last week and has a wider release on Nov. 20. Check out what five critics said about the movie.” By Corinne Heller, EOnline.com

Why the new Vatican leaks scandal is different
“It has been an unusually turbulent week in Rome (Nov. 6). The Vatican’s gendarmes arrested two members of Pope Francis’s economic-reform committee … for allegedly leaking documents to two Italian journalists.” By Alexander Stille, The New Yorker
Pope Francis says leaks won’t deter him from reform agenda, By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service
Vatican places two Italian journalists under investigation in leaks probe, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Four ways to misread a pope and a papacy
“By ascribing singular gifts of a pope to the papacy itself, we set ourselves up for disappointment — Today is one of my favorite days on the Church calendar. It’s the Feast of the Dedication of the Lateran Basilica (Nov. 9)—the Church that serves as the pope’s cathedral. Together with the papal feast day we celebrate in February, the Chair of Peter, the day serves to correct four common misunderstandings about the papacy.” Tom Hoopes, Aleteia.org

USCCB Fall 2015
Here is a link to National Catholic Reporter’s coverage of the USCCB’s 2015 fall general assembly in Baltimore, Nov. 16-19.


U.S. bishops press on with marriage, religious freedom goals
“Despite renewed pleas from some prelates to shift priorities to align with those of Pope Francis, the US Conference of Catholic Bishops voted overwhelmingly to stay the course, moving ahead with five key priorities and issuing only minor changes to a voting guide originally drafted in 2007.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com

Pope’s U.S. visit frames issues at bishops’ annual gathering
“The president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops opened the organization’s annual meeting in Baltimore this week (Nov. 16), saying the church would follow the pope’s teachings in addressing immigration, religious liberty, abortion and marriage.” By Jonathan Pitts and Pamela Wood, The Baltimore Sun

U.S. Catholic bishops meet, still struggling to adapt to ‘Pope Francis effect’
“The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops opened their annual meeting on Monday (Nov. 16) still struggling to figure out how much they can, or want, to adapt their priorities to the new marching orders Pope Francis gave them during his historic U.S. visit in September.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service

Francis has set a clear direction that U.S. bishops should follow
“Whether a pope who has recast the global image of the Catholic Church can also recalibrate the priorities of US Catholic leaders will become clearer this week (Nov. 16-17) as more than 300 bishops gather for a key national meeting.” By John Gehring and Richard L. Wood, Cruxnow.com

Francis’ priorities vs. the priorities of the U.S. bishops
As the U.S. bishops gather in Baltimore for their annual fall meeting this week (Nov. 16-17), they will be deciding their priorities until the end of this decade. Will these priorities sync with those of Pope Francis or will the bishops continue on as if the pope is not taking the church in a new direction?” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

USCCB elections present clear choices
“The upcoming election of committee chairs by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will present the American bishops with clear choices that will indicate the direction of the conference for the next few years. The elections will take place at the bishops’ annual fall meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 16-19. Four of the candidates are clearly ‘Francis bishops,’ because they were chosen by him for their dioceses or for a special assignment. I am not saying that only bishops appointed by Pope Francis can be considered ‘Francis bishops,’ but it is interesting that the USCCB elections will have four Francis appointees on the ballot. Will the bishops like these candidates as much as Pope Francis does?” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

At milestone age, Cardinal Wuerl’s influence grows
“The pageantry, puffs of incense and polyphonic choral voices filled the domed sanctuary as worshipers celebrated the 175th anniversary of the Roman Catholic cathedral parish in the nation’s capital last Sunday (Nov. 8). And when it was over, Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl stood in his formal vestments at the back of St. Matthew’s Cathedral. With a broad smile contrasting with his slight frame, he greeted one by one worshipers who ranged from Latino and African immigrants to government workers transplanted from the American heartland to even a few visitors from the cardinal’s native Pittsburgh.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Three ways to improve the synod of bishops
“Although the Oct. 4-24 synod on the family was the best-run Synod of Bishops since its institution by Pope Paul VI after the Second Vatican Council, there are still ways that the synod process could be improved.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Unforced errors? Francis & the fate of the Synod
“…I write only a few days after the Synod on the Family closed, but the same can be said of it: its fate rests in the hands of the entire church, not least in those of the pope who will likely issue with unprecedented alacrity an apostolic exhortation in response to the synod’s final report. In good Franciscan (papal, that is) fashion, I would like to focus my reflections on three words: process, papacy, and accompaniment.” By Christopher Ruddy, Commonweal

The Spirit, the letter and the synod
“A careful analysis of Pope Francis’ words reveals his true intentions regarding communion for the divorced and remarried. The dust is settling from the synod. The heated discussions over Communion for the divorced and civilly remarried are slowly quieting down as we await the post-synodal apostolic exhortation, which will presumably tell us more about the pope’s own thoughts on the matter. Pope Francis has never officially offered his support for the Kasperite position, something Cardinal Kasper himself has acknowledged. Then again, he has never officially repudiated it. The pope’s position is therefore somewhat ambiguous, even if he has said things that seem to lean in a Kasperite direction.” By Jacob W. Wood, Aleteia.org
Working English translation of 2015 Synod of Bishops’ final document, By Independent Catholic News


N.B. The “Spotlight” movie opens to general release in the U.S. on Friday, Nov. 20.

‘Spotlight’ portrayal of sex abuse scandal is making the Catholic Church uncomfortable all over again
“‘Spotlight,’ a new film about the Catholic clergy abuse scandal’s explosion in 2002, begs the question: How are things different in 2015? Dozens of U.S. church leaders have in the past few days been offering answers in the form of public statements, with some primarily focusing on the survivors and others casting the scandal as fully in the past and framing the church as the leader today in a society that hasn’t fully dealt with the problem … The range of views in the new statements – which follow a memo of talking points the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ sent to its dioceses in September — show the way the church still wrestles with how to tell its own story.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post

Catholic Church offers guidance on ‘Spotlight’ movie
“Roman Catholic Church leaders in the United States have sent talking points to dioceses around the country to help them prepare for the release of the movie “Spotlight,” highlighting the progress the church says it has made in preventing and responding to the sexual abuse of children by clergy. By Lisa Wangsness, The Boston Globe

Archbishop warns about potential trauma from ‘Spotlight’
“The upcoming release of a movie detailing the Boston Globe’s 2002 investigation into the Catholic Church’s cover-up of clergy abuse may bring up “horrific memories” for New Mexico victims of sex abuse, Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester said. In a recent letter to Archdiocese of Santa Fe priests and parishioners last week, Wester said that the movie “Spotlight” is a chance for the faithful to pray for abuse victims.” By Russell Contreras, Associated Press, in Albuquerque Journal

The long, resistant road to reformation: the Church today and “Spotlight”
“On Saturday I saw ‘Spotlight,’ the powerful new Tom McCarthy film about the Boston Globe’s work to break the Boston sexual abuse story in 2002 … It’s a surprisingly restrained, quietly devastating drama that well captures the unfolding horror of that moment. To my mind “Spotlight” is also a film that pushes the church to consider where it is today, and where it needs to go.” By Jim McDermott, America

Watching ‘Spotlight’ as a young priest
“I dreaded the sight of satellite trucks as I drove to daily Mass. It was the winter of 2002; I was actively discerning a vocation to priesthood in the Jesuits, and most days, I went to daily Mass at St. Ignatius, just a stone’s throw down Commonwealth Avenue from the chancery and cardinal’s residence of the Archdiocese of Boston.” By Sam Sawyer, S.J., America

‘Spotlight” movie on newspaper’s expose of Catholic child sex abuse a ‘masterpiece’
“Director Tom McCarthy’s drama embraces both great cinema and even better journalism as it chronicles a Boston Globe investigative team’s real-life expose on child abuse by local priests and the Catholic Church cover-up that followed. Not only is it an amazingly crafted movie, it’s an important one as well.” By Brian Truitt, USA Today, on Religion News Service

The big dig
“In a revealing moment in Spotlight, the expertly crafted new film about the Boston Globe’s investigation into the clerical sexual abuse scandal, the lawyer Mitchell Garabedian (Stanley Tucci) offers a damning analysis of the unfolding crisis. ‘Mark my words, Mr. Rezendes,’ he tells Globe reporter Mike Rezendes (Mark Ruffalo). ‘If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one.’ By Maurice Timothy Reidy, America

‘Spotlight’ brings Globe’s investigation of clergy sex abuse to film
“Director Thomas McCarthy’s new film, ‘Spotlight,’ plays like the Watergate of the Catholic church. Focusing on The Boston Globe investigative news team that, through a series of articles in 2002, exposed the cover-up of clergy pedophiles by Cardinal Bernard Law (and ultimately many other prelates and dioceses), it even includes Ben Bradlee Jr. (John Slattery), then deputy managing editor of the paper.” By Sister Rose Pacatte, National Catholic Reporter


Pope Francis cannot rely on the old guard to bring change to the Curia
“With the furor surrounding the synod on the family dying down, at least until Pope Francis’s expected Apostolic Exhortation comes out, attention has once again shifted to scandal in the Curia … The Curia is, it is frankly acknowledged by most who work with it, rather than for it, a swamp in urgent need of draining.” By Edward Condon, Catholic Herald

Church leaders can’t lie ‘the life of a pharaoh,’ Pope Francis says
“Considered the hottest interview subject for many journalists around the world, Pope Francis gave his latest exclusive to Marc, who now makes a living selling Straatnieuws, a paper sold by homeless and unemployed people in the Netherlands. In a wide-ranging interview published around the same time in several such street papers around the world, Francis wades into several issues – including, indirectly, the implications of two recent books on Vatican financial scandals.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Second Vatican Council participants hand legacy on to new generation
“A group of young adults from North and South America, Europe, Africa and Asia received scrolls (Nov. 5) commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World; dangling from the ribbon around each scroll was a flash drive containing the entire text of the document.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service


Francis suggests Lutherans might discern taking Catholic communion individually
“Pope Francis has strikingly suggested that Lutherans married to Catholics can personally discern whether to take Communion in the Catholic church, saying it is not his role to give permission to such persons but to encourage them to listen to what God is telling them about their situations.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis’ reforms will not be blocked
“Pope Francis is bound and determined to make sure that nothing derails his mission of reforming the Catholic Church. He made that clear on Sunday, Nov. 8, when he did, yet again, what no other pope has ever done before — openly and unequivocally acknowledge the latest journalistic exposés about financial corruption within the Vatican. “I know that many of you are upset by reports the past several days about confidential documents of the Holy See that were stolen and published,” he told people gathered in St Peter’s Square for the noontime Angelus. By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis extends his moderate makeover of Church leadership
“Pope Francis continued his moderate makeover of the senior leadership of the Catholic Church on Friday (Nov. 6), announcing key appointments for two major European archdioceses. In both cases, the pontiff tapped pastorally-minded figures not seen as either political or theological conservatives. By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Ordination of married men would cause other major changes within the church
“The question of the theology of ordination to the priesthood just isn’t going to go away. First, in a meeting with Italian priests in Rome in February, the pope, they tell us, said that he is going to put the topic of the ordination of married men ‘into his diary.’ Meaning on his list of subjects to be — what? Addressed? Discussed? Opened to consideration? Promised? The possibilities are tantalizing … But if Pope Francis takes the question of married men seriously, that could, for a change, lead to real change.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter


Usher allegedly caught stealing cash from Florida church
“A volunteer usher at a church in Florida apparently overlooked the commandment stating ‘Thou shalt not steal.’ A Marion County Sheriff’s Office sting caught Mario Condis, 60, allegedly pilfering $349.05 from the offering baskets at Blessed Trinity Catholic Church on Sunday (Nov. 8), according to the Gainesville Sun. Condis was arrested on one count of grand theft and three counts of petit theft. He posted a $3,500 bond and was released from jail Sunday evening.” By FoxNews.com
Usher accused of stealing offerings from Florida church during prayer, By Daniel Dahm, Orlando.com

Why there’s still a case for hope on Vatican financial reform
“This week (Nov. 1) brought fresh embarrassments for the Vatican on the financial front, raising questions anew about whether Pope Francis’ pledge to impose transparency and accountability can succeed in an institution historically more inclined to cronyism and operating under cover of darkness. By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

The financial crisis facing U.S. churches
“Money may be the root of all kinds of evil, but economists know it is also the resource that makes many good things possible for religious groups. Cheerful and generous givers enable congregations to do everything from keeping the lights on to being the safety net of last resort for those in desperate need throughout the world. Yet even as the economy improves from the depths of the recession, several U.S. religious groups are not keeping up financially, according to two new studies.” By David Briggs, Huffington Post

Vatican’s finance czar: I’m not wasting money
“In the wake of two new books in Italy detailing charges of Vatican overspending and corruption, the pope’s top financial official has dismissed claims of lavish outlays in his own department, insisting that a half-million euro spent in the first six months were related to legitimate start-up costs. By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


‘Love is Blind. Obedience Shouldn’t Be.’
“For the past several months I’ve been attending various film festivals in the U.S. and Canada in support of the award-winning documentary Radical Grace. I am one of three sisters the film tracks as we traversed the scary terrain of the ‘nunquisition’ — the Vatican’s six year investigation of U.S. sisters that finally ended favorably for us last spring.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter


Conference looks at women and church since Vatican II
Are women in the church still ‘guests in their own house?’ Yes. And no. At a conference marking the 50th anniversary of the closing of the Second Vatican Council, presenters both celebrated the accomplishments of women in the church during the past five decades and lamented that women continue to face many of the same discrimination and limitations.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Irish priests’ statement calls for free, open discussion of church’s exclusion of women
“Anger at the ‘systemic oppression of women within the Catholic church’ has prompted a group of 12 Irish priests to issue a statement of protest calling for a free and open discussion of the exclusion of women from decision-making and the priesthood in the church.” By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter


Let victims pursue their abusers: New York’s outdated civil statute of limitations badly needs fixing
“The greatest barrier to child protection is ignorance. The movie (“Spotlight”) shows smart, experienced journalists struggling to comprehend what was right in front of them. “Spotlight” will likely educate millions about the ways in which adults and institutions we trust protect adults and put children at risk every day.” By Marci Hamilton, New York Daily News


Jury selection begins in priest’s sex abuse trial
“Jury selection began Monday (Nov. 9) in the trial of a Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in East Windsor. The Rev. Paul Gotta, 57, is charged with second-degree sexual assault and six counts of fourth-degree sexual assault. Gotta, who had assignments at churches in East Windsor at the time of his arrest, is on leave from the Archdiocese of Hartford.” By David Owens, Hartford Courant
Jury selection begins in former priest’s sex assault trial, By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


Judge weighs religious exemptions for child abuse reporting
“A Delaware judge is considering the constitutionality of a state law that exempts priests from being required to report suspected child abuse disclosed during confessions – and, if the law is constitutional, whether it should protect elders in a Jehovah’s Witnesses congregation. By Jessica Masulli Reyes, The News Journal


Former U.S. Navy lieutenant commander and Catholic priest pleads guilty to child pornography charges
“A former U.S. Navy Lt. Commander and ordained Catholic priest pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware to one count of production of child pornography and one count of distribution of child pornography, announced Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division and U.S. Attorney Charles M. Oberly III of the District of Delaware.” By Park Forest ENews


Duluth priest files show bishops were aware of predatory priests
“Attorneys representing a man who successfully sued the Diocese of Duluth for sexual abuse released documents Monday showing that diocesan officials were aware of predatory priests long before their client was molested.” By Chao Xiong, Star Tribune


New Jersey priest, cleared of ‘70s-era sex abuse claim, will return to ministry
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a child in the 1970s has been found not guilty by a church tribunal, clearing the way for his return to ministry after a two-year suspension, Metuchen Bishop Paul Bootkoski announced Friday (Nov. 13).” By Mark Mueller, New Jersey Advance Media


Buck for victims abused by clergy stops with church
“Where is the spirit of reconciliation and commitment to make things right? Apparently, it comes with an asterisk in some segments of the Catholic Church when it comes to settling claims against clergy who abused children. At the same time Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester warns Roman Catholics in New Mexico that the upcoming release of the movie “Spotlight” will revive painful memories, the Diocese of Gallup pleads poverty and one of its insurers says victims of one of its worst abusers may not get a dime for their suffering under its interpretation of coverage obligations.”By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board


Long Island family sues Catholic order and diocese in molestation case
“In 2009, Augusto Cortez, a Roman Catholic priest, pleaded guilty to forcible touching of a 12-year-old girl in Brooklyn. He was sentenced to six years of probation but was allowed to remain a member of his religious order. Last year, a couple in Hampton Bays, on Long Island, who had known Mr. Cortez for years, accused him of molesting one of their daughters, now 8.” By Kirk Semple, The New York Times


Gresham psychologist bilked Catholic diocese for therapy in priest abuse case
“A Portland judge sentenced a 73-year-old psychologist Friday to six months of home confinement for bilking a Catholic diocese in New Jersey out of more than $100,000 for services she did not perform.” By Bryan Denson, The Oregonian


William Casey’s post-conviction relief attempt to continue in February
“A post-conviction hearing initially scheduled last week in Sullivan County Criminal Court for former Catholic priest and Greene County resident William Casey will now be held on Feb. 3.” By Ken Little, The Greenville Sun


Milwaukee priest cleared of sexual abuse allegation
“Fr. Tom Eichenberger, a Milwaukee priest cleared of an allegation that he abused a boy 38 years ago, told NCR that he feels no joy, just relief, that he has been found innocent and returned to his parish on Monday (Nov. 16).” By Marie Rohde, National Catholic Reporter

Bankruptcy judge confirms Milwaukee Archdiocese reorganization plan
“U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley on Monday (Nov. 9) confirmed the Archdiocese of Milwaukee reorganization plan, marking a milestone in the longest-running and most contentious of the 14 Catholic Church bankruptcies filed since 2004 to address sexual abuse liabilities going back decades. By Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinal
Winners and losers in the Milwaukee archdiocese’s bankruptcy case, By Marie Rohde, National Catholic Reporter


Catholic Church launches child protection policy: fight to curb child abuse in Malawi
“The Catholic Church in Malawi launches Child Protection Policy which seeks to provide guidelines, coordination and support for child protection in the socio-economic, cultural and pastoral reflection of all Catholic Institutions.” By Nyassa Times


Victorian court closes Bishop Mulkearns files to public
“The Victorian Supreme Court is refusing to release files detailing a string of legal claims against the former Bishop of Ballarat, Ronald Mulkearns, reports The Australian. The files relate to Bishop Mulkearns’ alleged role in covering up the sexual abuse by pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale.” By CathNews.com

Community shock at arrest of popular Catholic priest on child sexual assault charge
“There is shock at the arrest of a popular Catholic priest from the New South Wales Riverina, on a child sexual assault charge. Father Neru Leuea, aged 49, of Narrandera was refused bail in Wagga Wagga Local Court on Thursday (Nov. 12) on a single charge of aggravated sexual assault of a girl aged under 16.” By ABC News Australia

Former priest charged with child sex offences
“A priest who was the former head of the Brisbane Catholic Media Office has been charged with child sex offences dating back 40 years, reports Nine News. The former priest, now 82, who is already facing other charges in another court, didn’t appear in a Brisbane court yesterday due to medical issues and was ordered to sign a bail undertaking.” By CathNews.com

Abolish restrictions on sexual abuse civil actions liberal MP Graham Jacobs says
“Statutory time limits preventing victims of sexual abuse from taking civil action many years later could be scrapped, if WA’s Parliament passes legislation to be introduced by a backbench Liberal MP.” By Jacob Kagi, ABC News Australia


Lawsuit announced against 90-year-old priest and Catholic diocese
“The victims of alleged pedophile priest Linus Bastien have waited years for his judgment day in court, but fear it may never come. After the criminal case dragged on more than four years, three men have launched lawsuits hoping to see some kind of justice before the 90-year-old priest dies. Robert Talach with Beckett Personal Injury Lawyers said they filed civil suits out of frustration.” By Trevor Wilhelm, Windsor Star


Chilean priest punished by the Vatican for abuse claims he is innocent
“A prominent priest who has been punished for sex abuse by the Vatican proclaimed his innocence in court yesterday (Nov. 11), testifying in a case that three of his alleged victims brought against Chile’s Catholic Church. According to a court transcript obtained by the Associated Press, Fr Fernando Karadima told the court in Santiago: ‘I don’t recognize the abuses, with children. Never, ever. I maintain my innocence … I never had sexual relations with those who accuse me.’” By Associated Press in Catholic Herald
Chile’s high court asks Vatican for records in sex abuse case, By Reuters


Brendan Smyth abuse: Irish court of appeal halts three actions for damages brought over alleged failure to act to prevent pedophile sexually abusing children
“The Republic’s Court of Appeal has halted three actions for damages brought over an alleged failure to act to prevent paedophile priest Fr Brendan Smyth sexually abusing children. The case was brought by a man from Northern Ireland, his sister and a female cousin against a Catholic Bishop in a representative capacity.” By Belfast Telegraph


Vatican probes sex abuse claims made by former missionary in letter to Pope Francis
Allegations of sexual abuse as well as abuse of authority by certain leaders of a religious group in Barcelona have led to an internal investigation by the Vatican, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA).” By Shianee Mamanglu-Regala, Christian Today