Voice of the Faithful Focus, Nov. 6, 2015

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


The longtime advocates behind ‘Spotlight’
Part two of our ‘Spotlight’ series, in advance of the film’s release Friday (Nov. 6). The film “Spotlight” tells a story that broke in 2002, but started years earlier. Before the Spotlight team investigated allegations of clergy sexual abuse, others — like attorney Mitchell Garabedian and Father Thomas Doyle — were already trying to get justice for the victims.” By Radio Boston WBUR-FM Boston
Click here to listen to part one of WBUR-FM’s “Spotlight” series
Join Us to See “Spotlight” Movie, By Voice of the Faithful
The Church’s sexual abuse crisis is not over, By Margery Egan, Cruxnow.com
Review: In ‘Spotlight,’ The Boston Globe digs up the Catholic Church’s dirt, By A.O. Scott, The New York Times

Vatican scandal heats up with revelations of greed, intrigue
“Two new books are deepening a Vatican scandal with tales of mismanagement and greed, such as sainthood causes that can cost a half-million dollars and one monsignor allegedly breaking down the wall of his next-door neighbor — a sick, elderly priest — to expand his already palatial apartment.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com
— Vatican arrests two in connection with leaked documents, By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
Vatican leaks scandal grows: Book exposes resistance, waste, By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
Vatican financial troubles run deep, according to new book, By Gaia Pianigiani, The New York Times

Costs of sex abuse crisis to U.S. church underestimated
“The U.S. Catholic church has incurred nearly $4 billion in costs related to the priest sex abuse crisis during the past 65 years, according to an extensive NCR investigation of media reports, databases and church documents. In addition, separate research recently published calculates that other scandal-related consequences such as lost membership and diverted giving has cost the church more than $2.3 billion annually for the past 30 years.” By Jack Ruhl and Diane Ruhl, National Catholic Reporter
Editorial: The deep, lasting financial cost of sex abuse, By National Catholic Reporter
Researchers find drop in giving in areas hit by sex abuse scandal, By Vinnie Rotondaro, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis will weigh in on the synod after all
“The Vatican’s second most powerful figure said Wednesday (Oct. 29) that Pope Francis will pen a document following the recently concluded Synod of Bishops on the family, something that until now no Vatican official had confirmed. Speaking to the ANSA news agency, Italian Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s Secretary of State, said the pontiff will write an apostolic exhortation on the family in the upcoming months.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Cardinal Wuerl: The Catholic Church is moving from legalism to mercy, By David Gibson, Religion News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis creates Vatican office combining laity, family, life issues
“Pope Francis announced Thursday (Oct. 22) to the Synod on the Family that he has chosen to establish a new office in the Roman Curia that will deal with issues of laity, family, and life, as part of his reform of the curia. ‘I have decided to establish a new Dicastery with competency for Laity, Family and Life, that will replace the Pontifical Council for the Laity and the Pontifical Council for the Family,’ Pope Francis said Oct. 22, according to a communique from the Holy See press office.” By Catholic News Agency


Don’t put priests on a pedestal
“Finally there appears an issue that our divided church can agree on. Catholics of all stripes—conservatives and liberals and in-betweens—are declaring a pox on clericalism. From Pope Francis to the back pew widow, from seminary rectors to lay ecclesial ministers, we agree that clericalism is crippling the pastoral mission of the church.” By Father Donald Cozzens, U.S. Catholic


Argentine bishop who clashed with pope resigns amid financial scandal
“As the Vatican faces a new cycle of revelations about its own financial troubles, a conservative bishop in Pope Francis’s native Argentina has been forced to resign over charges of mismanaging funds. By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
A primer on the Vatican’s system of crime and punishment, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com


U.S. bishops set to select ‘strategic priorities’
“One of the major decisions facing the nation’s bishops when they meet Nov. 16-19 for their annual fall assembly in Baltimore will be what “strategic priorities” to focus on through the year 2020, a discussion that drew some pointed debate during the group’s spring gathering. The bishops will also vote on a new introductory note and “limited” revision to ‘Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship,’ a quadrennial statement issued the year before each presidential election.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter


The Synod on the Family
“A Commonweal reading list — In October 2015, cardinals, bishops, and lay auditors met in Vatican City for the second session of the Synod on the Family, to focus on making programmatic changes based on the dialogue from the 2014 session. From the outset, Francis made dialogue the goal of the synod—about the church’s teachings on family life, and the pastoral challenges that arise from differing interpretations and changes in family formation and sexuality.” By Commonweal magazine
Synod offers striking softening to remarried, proposing individual discernment, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
Voice is sought at the Vatican on remarriage, By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
Bishops: Integrate remarried Catholics into Church life, By Michael J. O’Loughlin and Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Divide over a synod statement on family matters, By Kate Taylor, The New York Times
Amid split, Catholic bishops crack open door on divorce, By Laurie Goodstein and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
Final Report of the Synod of Bishops to the Holy Father Francis, Oct. 24, 2015, By Press.Vatican.va
Synod final document: English translation of hot-topic paragraphs, By Diane Montagna, Aleteia

Ball now lies firmly in Francis’ court
“The most positive way of describing the final document of the international synod of bishops, which has just finished its three-week meeting in Rome, is that it is a snapshot of a Church in transition. In that case the direction of travel is probably more important than the point it has reached, which is undoubtedly towards a less rigid and more open form of the Catholic faith. Editorial by The Tablet

Synod indicates the kind of change possible
“Though called an ‘ordinary general assembly,’ the just-ended Synod of Bishops, with its surprising conclusion that opened a wide path of mercy for divorced and remarried Catholics, was extraordinary in ways probably not anticipated or wished for by many of those who planned and attended the gatherings held over two years.” Editorial by National Catholic Reporter

Pope lectures Catholic elders at closing of synod on family
“Pope Francis on Sunday appeared to lecture church elders at the closing of a landmark summit on the family here, suggesting they should not be quick to exclude a broad array of people deserving of God’s grace. 
In a Mass at St. Peter’s Basilica to mark the end of the three-week summit — known as a synod — Francis seemed to target narrowness, focusing his homily on the biblical story of a blind man named Bartimaeus whom Jesus engages during a journey.” By Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post
After synod on family, Francis faces a tough choice, By Anthony Faiola and Stefano Pitrelli, The Washington Post
After synod, can Catholics put Humpty Dumpty together again, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
The end is the beginning, By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal magazine
Catholic paper on family is hailed by all sides, raising fears of disputes, By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Women fear their voices will be sidelined in synod’s final report
“The rows of seats in the synod hall, where Catholic bishops are meeting to discuss family issues, are filled with bishops and cardinals — all male. To find any women, look to the back of the room. The women’s distance from the heart of the synod hall reflects fears raised by women’s groups that their participation is a mere token on the Vatican’s part.” By Rosie Scammell, Religion News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Which is the real narrative for the riveting theatre of the synod?
A Synod of Bishops at the Vatican is always a sprawling, multi-headed creature, and that’s certainly been true of the 2015 edition devoted to issues facing the family. There have been hundreds of speeches, three sets of reports from 13 small working groups, daily press briefings, more media interviews than anyone can possibly track, not to mention a daily avalanche of commentary from a staggering variety of voices.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis’ plans for inclusiveness divide bishops
“Pope Francis had encouraged bishops from more than 120 countries to speak freely when they gathered at the Vatican for a broad discussion of family matters to guide the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics. And speak freely, they have.” By Laurie Goodstein and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

German synod group outlines Communion path for remarried, other groups wary
“The group of German speaking prelates at the ongoing Synod of Bishops — which includes a rather diverse range of so-called progressive and conservative voices — has presented a way that certain divorced and remarried Catholic persons might be allowed to take Communion in the church.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Synod ends where it began, in disagreement
“With time running out, the synodal fathers appear no closer to resolving their conflicts over issues facing the family than they were a year ago. One of the principal sticking points is over Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics who do not have an annulment. Another controversy is over the language to be used in speaking about homosexuals. The Synod of Bishops concludes this Sunday after meeting in Rome since Oct. 4. The synod has been discussing issues facing families, the same issues discussed at a similar gathering of bishops last October.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Why Pope Francis’s fight in Rome is about more than sex and marriage
“At Pope Francis’s closed-door meeting in Rome this month, top clergy are intensely debating whether the church should bend more to the messy realities of modern families. On the ground, however, it already has. Questions on the agenda at the rare, high-level meeting that ends this weekend include whether those who divorce and remarry outside the church can receive Communion, and whether there is a place in Catholic life for same-sex couples.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post


Families are not the church, should be free to define themselves
“The recent Synod of Bishops on the family has moved me to think some thoughts about families that some people may consider heretical. But before I get to that, a few disclaimers: I love my current blended family, I loved the family my first wife and I created when we gave birth to two daughters and I loved my family of origin — and continue to love those who are left in it. I’m one of four children reared in a home in which our parents’ marriage lasted 54 years, until the death of my father. Was it a perfect marriage? Don’t be silly. No marriage is perfect.” By Bill Tammeus, National Catholic Reporter

True defenders of doctrine uphold spirit, not letter of the law
“Like many of you, I have been following the Synod of Bishops on the family with more than usual interest. Despite early accusations from conservatives that the synod was rigged, it saw the most open exchange of differing perspectives of any synod in recent memory. This resulted in ‘huge support’ for Pope Francis among bishops and bodes well for a healthier, more pastorally effective church. I am delighted that the synod advised use of the ‘internal forum’ in pastoral decision making about fuller participation of the divorced and remarried in Catholic life. The internal forum relies on priests working privately with individuals to discern the extent to which the ‘external forum’ ideal of church law applies to their subjective situations.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

We are family
“Earlier in the synod on the family, the so-called conservative faction complained to the pope about procedure, perhaps to preempt whatever document will or will not be completed, and/or published, as the so-called liberal faction maneuvered to open other avenues of discussion, mostly but not always around the question of whether divorced and remarried folks can receive Communion. By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter


Secret ‘Catacombs Pact’ emerges after 50 years, and Pope Francis gives it new life
“The signatories (of what was to become known as the Pact of the Catacombs) vowed (shortly before the end of Vatican II) to renounce personal possessions, fancy vestments and ‘names and titles that express prominence and power,’ and they said they would make advocating for the poor and powerless the focus of their ministry. In all this, they said, ‘we will seek collaborators in ministry so that we can be animators according to the Spirit rather than dominators according to the world; we will try to make ourselves as humanly present and welcoming as possible; and we will show ourselves to be open to all, no matter what their beliefs.’ The document would become known as the Pact of the Catacombs, and the signers hoped it would mark a turning point in church history.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service

Pope Francis ‘prepared to battle’ on Vatican reform, senior cardinal says
“Despite intense opposition from some conservatives and new revelations of financial scandals in the Vatican, Pope Francis is at peace with the reformist course he has set for the Catholic Church, according to a cardinal who is a leading adviser to the pontiff.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service

Francis’ pastoral revolution rolls on with two big picks in Italy
“Many Catholics have a gut instinct that something revolutionary is afoot in the Church under Pope Francis, but for many, its precise contours remain a bit unclear. Perhaps one way to phrase it is that Francis is leading a ‘Pastoral Revolution.’ By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis calls for decentralization and ‘conversion’ of the papacy
“In his address to the synod on Oct. 17, Pope Francis emphasized the need to give new life to structures of synodality in the local churches worldwide. He confirmed his intention to promote greater ‘decentralization’ in the church and to bring about ‘a conversion of the papacy.’ Pope Francis began by recalling that ever since he became Bishop of Rome, ‘I wanted to give value to the synod, which constitutes one of the most precious inheritances of the last council gathering.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America magazine


Pope’s family synod: No changes, but everything has changed
“It’s now quite certain that Pope Francis’ big summit on family issues won’t endorse any changes to church doctrine on the church’s teaching about homosexuality or whether civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion. And yet, it seems, everything has changed. From the crucial role African bishops have played in the debate, to calls to remove “intrinsically disordered” from the church’s language on gays, to the freedom bishops now enjoy to speak their minds on once-taboo issues, Francis’ synod on the family has at the very least shaken up the church for years to come. And if Francis has his way, there’s more ahead.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press


Priest shortage will mean fewer Masses at Catholic churches around Saranac Lake
“Two Catholic churches in the Saranac Lake area would no longer host Masses as part of a plan to deal with a shortage of priests in the North Country. Mass would cease at St. Paul’s Church in Bloomingdale and St. John in the Wilderness Church in Lake Clear by early January at the latest.” By Chris Knight, North Country Public Radio


Women religious offer their charism to future generations
“‘I won’t be coming in to speak with the religion classes anymore.’ With her words, my heart sank. I knew the day was coming. When it did, however, an unexpected weight surfaced with my sadness. ‘How am I going to teach without her to share our history? To keep it alive?’ Daily, these questions continue to challenge me, our religion department and, indeed, our whole school community.” By Jennifer Mertens, National Catholic Reporter

Global women religious leader asks them to do synod’s unfinished work
“The leader of the umbrella group for some 600,000 global Catholic women religious has said that in the wake of this month’s Synod of Bishops the women are called to carry forth the pastoral work that the official church is sometimes not able to do.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican arrests cleric, laywoman suspected of leaking secret documents
“Two members of a commission Pope Francis set up to study reforms, including a high-ranking Holy See official, have been arrested on suspicion of leaking confidential documents, the Vatican said on Monday (Nov. 2). It was one of the biggest internal scandals to hit Francis’ papacy so far and was reminiscent of the ‘Vatileaks’ furor that preceded the resignation of former Pope Benedict in 2013.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters
Vatican arrests two in connection with leaked documents, By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Priest suspended over R3 million
“A prominent and much loved Roman Catholic priest has been suspended over the alleged mismanagement of almost R3 million. Father Desmond Royappen was suspended for a year from the beginning of October and sent for ‘a period of reflection’ to a parish in Mariannhill. He served at St Joseph’s Church in Morningside for 15 years and moved to Our Lady of Fatima church in Durban North earlier this year.” By Nabeelah Shaikh, IOL News (iol.co.za)


Sister Joan Chittister on prayer, the pope and women in the Catholic Church

“Joan Chittister is a writer, human rights advocate and a Roman Catholic nun. On Pope Francis’s recent visit to the U.S., she penned an open letter to him …” By Minnesota Public Radio

Catholic priests call for talks on equality for women
“Twelve Catholic priests have issued a joint statement calling for open discussion on the need for equality for women in the church, including where priesthood is concerned. ‘Discriminating against women encourages and reinforces abuse and violence against women in many cultures and societies,’ they say.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


A 30-year timeline of Catholic Church sex abuse scandals
GlobalPost.com offers an overview of three decades worth of coverage of the Roman Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Keeping the spotlight on the Catholic Church
“Terry Donilon, an affable man who is the spokesman for the Archdiocese of Boston, audibly gasped when I asked what I considered a fair question: ‘How much abuse do you think still exists in the Archdiocese of Boston?’” By Adrian Walker, The Boston Globe
Clergy sexual abuse scandal in ‘Spotlight,’ By Dianne Williamson, Worcester Telegram
A history of secrecy, coverups in Boston Archdiocese, By The Boston Globe
Vatican Radio praises movie on Boston Globe coverage of clergy abuse, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Clergy sex abuse survivors hope ‘Spotlight’ film brings victims forward, By Reuters on Voice of America
For ‘Spotlight,’ actors portrayed hunters chasing predators, By Lorne Manly, The Boston Globe
The Catholic Church’s sins are ours, By Frank Bruni, The New York Times
Archdiocese defends record as film about Boston priest abuse nears release, By Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times
‘This is where it counts’: ‘Spotlight’ movie, on church abuse expose, premieres in Boston, By National Public Radio on WBUR-FM
Tom Doyle reviews Spotlight, By Tom Doyle on Hamilton-Griffin.com

The “Long Lent” of sex abuse survivors and the road to recovery
“A well-known Catholic intellectual referred to the year 2002 as the Long Lent—a period in which shame was just heaped upon the Church because of the mishandling of sexual abuse cases by members of the clergy. Indeed, Father Richard John Neuhaus’s term was appropriate: revelations about the Archdiocese of Boston’s mishandling of abusive priests did not end tidily with a bright Easter Sunday morning.” By John Burger, Aleteia.org


Former Louisville priest indicted on child porn charges
“The priest at the center of a child pornography case has been indicted by a grand jury. Stephen Pohl, former pastor of St. Margaret Mary parish in Louisville, was charged with violating federal child exploitation laws on Nov. 3 in United States District Court.” By Laurel Mallory, WAVE3-TV News


No plea for Minnesota archdiocese in criminal case
“A Minnesota archdiocese and prosecutors both made conciliatory statements Thursday (Oct. 30) after an initial hearing on criminal charges against the Church over its handling of an abusive priest, and the judge said she understood the two were engaged in talks. By Steve Karnowski, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Catholic Church reaches out to heal those impacted by past clergy abuse
“A Brainerd Catholic church is reaching out to the community and to survivors who were abused by clergy in hopes to help them heal.” By Jennifer Stockinger, Grand Rapids Herald Review

Abuse victim seeks $9 million from Diocese of Duluth
“There’s no dispute that the Rev. James Vincent Fitzgerald sexually abused a Minnesota teen in 1978, according to opposing attorneys in a lawsuit filed by the victim. The question for a jury: Who supervised the priest when the abuse took place?” By Elizabeth Mohr, St. Paul Pioneer Press
Jury awards $8.1 million to Duluth clergy abuse victim, By CBS News Minnesota


Bishop, DAs sign sex crimes agreement
“District Attorneys across the region have come to an agreement with the Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese that states specific requirements on reporting sexual abuse. Broome County District Attorney Jerry Mollen was joined by DA’s that serve seven other counties within the Diocese of Syracuse to discuss details of the memorandum.” By BinghamtonHomepage.com


Penn panel reflects on the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report on child sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
“Marking the 10-year anniversary of the largest of three grand jury reports, a panel hosted by the University of Pennsylvania’s Program for Research on Religion and Urban Civil Society reflected on the ‘Ramifications of the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report on Child Sex Abuse in the Archdiocese: Lessons Learned and Lessons Spurned’ was held on Oct. 28.” By PennNews at upenn.edu


Vatican to investigate sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priest in Javakhk Armenian village
“The Vatican says it will investigate long standing rumors that a Catholic priest serving in the Samtskhe-Javakhk village of Tzghaltbila has sexually abused boys serving in the church. The priest in question is Reverend Father Anatoly Ivanyuk, who has served as pastor in the Armenian-populated village, where most are Catholic, for the past 25 years.” By Kristine Aghalaryan and Edik Baghdasaryan, Hetq.am


Sullivan: Church abuse history ‘shameful, corrosive, complicit’
“The Church has described its history regarding child abuse in Australia as “shameful, corrosive and complicit” and says it now expects its liability exposure to be potentially $1 billion on top of payments already made. The CEO of the Truth justice and Healing Council, Francis Sullivan, said in a speech in Canberra on Tuesday (Oct. 20) night the Church’s history was ‘littered with examples of cover-ups and crimes and of Church leaders failing in one of the very basic tenets of their calling.’ By CathNews.com


Peru court sentences Catholic priest to 35 years for raping boy
“A Peruvian court sentenced a Catholic priest to 35 years in prison on Tuesday (Oct. 27)for repeatedly raping a boy in the school where he was chaplain – one of the few times Peru has jailed clergy accused of sex abuse.” By Reuters

Peru Catholic society admits sex abuse probe against founder
“A secretive Roman Catholic society with chapters across South America and in the U.S. has revealed under pressure that a Vatican investigator is looking into allegations that its founder sexually molested young recruits.” By Newsmas.com