Voice of the Faithful Focus, Nov. 3, 2023

Nov. 3, 2023


Pope’s major Vatican summit ends without action on women deacons, mention of LGBTQ Catholics
Pope Francis’ high-stakes summit on the future of the Catholic Church concluded on Oct. 28 by postponing action on the possibility of ordaining women as deacons and failing to acknowledge deep tensions that surfaced in a month of debates over how the global institution should care for its LGBTQ members. A 41-page report, approved and published that evening, called for the results of earlier papal and theological commissions on women deacons to be presented for further consideration at the next assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to be held in October 2024.” By Christopher White and Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Spain’s report on Catholic Church sex abuse estimates victims could number in hundreds of thousands
Spain’s first official probe of sex abuse by clergy members or other people connected to the Catholic Church in the country included a survey that indicated that the number of victims could run into hundreds of thousands. The survey was part of a damning report by the office of Spain’s ombudsman, or ‘defensor del pueblo,’ following an 18-month independent investigation of 487 cases involving alleged victims who spoke with the ombudsman’s team.” By Ciarán Giles, Associated Press

High court decision opens way for claims on abuse
“The court yesterday (Nov. 1) overturned a permanent stay that had been granted by the NSW Court of Appeal. That stay had effectively stalled the efforts of a woman – referred to in the judgment as GLJ – to sue the Catholic Church over abuse she said she suffered at the hands of a priest who had since died. Institutions had previously successfully argued that claims should be permanently stayed because the deaths of the alleged perpetrators meant they could no longer be questioned about the alleged abuse. Three of the five High Court judges who heard the case found the reasoning of the lower court was wrong. Victim advocates say the Church and other institutions have used permanent stays to kill off cases and compel other claimants into financial settlements that would be lower than would other be the case.” By CathNews.com


Catholic Church loses landmark case over tactics that shield it from Australian abuse claims
“The Catholic church has lost a landmark case over its controversial use of the deaths of pedophile priests to thwart survivors’ attempts at justice. The high court on Wednesday (Nov. 1) delivered a significant blow to the church’s use of permanent stays in historical abuse matters, where it has sought to argue that delay, the death of perpetrators, and the loss of records render it unable to receive a fair trial … The tactic is causing profound harm to an already vulnerable group.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian


Synodality works: a report from Rome
“In the early decades of the twenty-first century, historians will say, the Catholic Church sought a new way of operating that would allow it to travel into a new era. The clerical, centralist, hierarchical, authoritarian model, barely distinguishable these days from a corporation, was built to survive and even thrive in modernity. But it is no longer feasible in an era when modernity itself has collapsed. How, then, to reconfigure the Church’s inner culture to enable all to participate in its mission and to let the Spirit lead, as Jesus promised? By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal

In world’s largest Catholic country, relatively little interest in synod process
“While fallout from Pope Francis’s Oct. 4-29 Synod of Bishops on Synodality continues to fuel Catholic debate in the West, arousing disappointment in some quarters and cautious optimism in others, most churchgoers in Brazil, the world’s largest Catholic nation, frankly don’t seem to have paid much attention to the whole synodal exercise. In the opinion of many analysts here, the unique realities of Brazilian culture, and of the Church in the world’s largest Catholic nation, may combine to make the synod seem less relevant to their situation.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, Cruxnow.com

Synod on Synodality report is disappointing but not surprising
“For Pope Francis, the first session of the Synod on Synodality was never about resolving the controversial issues facing the church. Even so, there were those who hoped for forward motion on married priests, women deacons and LGBTQ issues. They will be disappointed by the final report issued by the synod on Oct. 28. For Francis it was not about the hot-button topics. It was always about the synodal process, which he hoped would overcome divisions in the church and recommit us to the mission of Jesus — of proclaiming the gospel of the Father’s love and compassion for all of humanity and the earth.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

In Vatican’s summit’s closing document, agreement that synodality is church’s future
“What many will take away about the Synod on Synodality, the monthlong summit on the future of the church, is that the 450 Catholic clergy and lay faithful called to the meeting skirted the key agenda items of women’s ordination, marriage for priests and acceptance of LGBTQ Catholics. On Saturday (Oct.28), after the synod released a tepid summary of its work, the Women’s Ordination Conference pronounced itself ‘dismayed’ by the failure of the synod to allow women to become priests. ‘A ‘listening church’ that fails to be transformed by the fundamental exclusion of women and LGBTQ+ people fails to model the Gospel itself,’ a statement read.” By Clare Giangravé, Religion News Service

Father James Martin: what happened at the Synod on Synodality
“‘We preach the gospel of friendships that reach across boundaries,’ said Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., during the retreat he led for members of the Synod of Bishops outside of Rome, a few days before our deliberations began. This image informed and illuminated my experience of the XVIth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which concluded this weekend (Oct. 29): So the foundation of all we shall do in this synod should be the friendships we create. It does not look like much. It will not make headlines in the media. ‘They came all that way to Rome to make friends. What a waste!’ But it is by friendship that we will make the transition from ‘I’ to ‘We.’” By James Martin, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review

Cardinal Cupich on the synod, women deacons, giving bishops job reviews and why ‘LGBTQ’ was left out of the final doc
“Following the closing Mass of the first session of the Synod on Synodality in Rome this October, Cardinal Blase Cupich, the archbishop of Chicago, spoke with America’s Vatican correspondent about his experience of the meeting and the synod’s synthesis document, published Oct. 29. Gerard O’Connell: What is your overall take on the synthesis document? Cardinal Cupich: The document is not as important as the experience that we had. I think the document tries to convey that experience. And it does a good job. But my hope would be that we are able to take that experience back home and share it with our people because that really is what the synod is about. It’s a new way of being church …” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

From the outside looking in: a look at the first session of the Synod on Synodality
“The year is 431. The Council of Ephesus, a gathering of bishops representing all of Christendom, is convened in order to reach a consensus on Church teaching, including a heated debate on whether the Virgin Mary should be designated Theotokos, ‘God-bearer’ or ‘Mother of God’ or Christokos, ‘Christ-bearer.’ The disagreements were split between two camps: Nestorius, Patriarch of Constantinople, who argued that Mary should be called Christokos, and Cyril, Patriarch of Alexandria, who advocated for the ‘Mother of God’ title.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Our Sunday Visitor


Pope: Theology must interpret the Gospel for today’s world
“A Church that is ‘synodal, missionary, and ‘goes forth’’ needs a theology that ‘goes forth,’ too. That’s the thought behind Pope Francis’ new Motu Proprio Ad theologiam promovendam, dated 1 November 2023, which updates the statutes of the Pontifical Academy of Theology. Established canonically by Clement XI on 23 April 1718, with the brief Inscrutabili, the Academy aimed ‘to place theology at the service of the Church and the world.’ It has evolved over the years into a ‘group of scholars called to investigate and deepen theological themes of particular relevance.’” By Tiziana Campisi, Vatican News

Survivors, advocates voice skepticism over Pope’s about-face in Rupnik case
“In the wake of a surprise announcement Friday (Oct. 27) that Pope Francis has waived a statute of limitations in Church law to permit prosecution of Slovenian priest-artist and accused sexual abuser Father Marko Rupnik, survivors and advocacy groups are raising questions about why it took this long to act, and insisting that symbolic gestures aren’t enough. Victims ‘need justice, not talk,’ said Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins, a former member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors who resigned in protest in 2017.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


Peru cardinal open to women deacons, wants ‘swift justice’ on abuse
“Following the close of last month’s Synod of Bishops, a leading Latin American cardinal has signaled openness in some cases to ordaining women deacons and also called for swift justice in sexual abuse cases, including the potential dissolution of a lay community in his own country currently under Vatican investigation. Cardinal Pedro Barreto made the comments in an Oct. 30 exclusive interview with Crux, prior to leaving for Rome’s Fiumicino airport to return to Peru following the close of the synod.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Dolan: In defense of culture warriors
“The sobering reading from Ezekiel in the Liturgy of the Word from Sunday, Sept. 11, 2023, is still echoing in my head. You may recall it: The Lord is reminding the prophet that he, Ezekiel, is a ‘watchman,’ whose task includes warning God’s people, including telling them they will die if they do not change their ways in accord with the Lord’s commands. It is hard to dodge that call as anything but a challenge to be a ‘culture warrior.’ I might prefer ‘critic’ rather than ‘warrior,’ but the call is to speak for the Lord in sternly calling the people to fidelity. If not, the consequences are death, for both the prophet and the hearer. Rather somber!” By Timothy Michael Dolan, America: The Jesuit Review


Two decades later, Catholic bishops still breaking their most important promise
“At one end of the spectrum, generally speaking, there’s SafeSport … At the other end of the spectrum, there’s the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) … In between are most US Catholic bishops. As a general rule, bishops whose dioceses are in states where victims have some legal rights have posted names of child molesting clerics on their websites. But for the most part, prelates whose dioceses are in states where victims have FEW legal rights are still not providing the names of predatory clergy, sometimes even clerics who have admitted guilt or been convicted in court.” By Adam Horwitz, AdamHorowitzLaw.com


Father James Martin: What happened at the Synod on Synodality
“‘We preach the gospel of friendships that reach across boundaries,’ said Timothy Radcliffe, O.P., during the retreat he led for members of the Synod of Bishops outside of Rome, a few days before our deliberations began. This image informed and illuminated my experience of the XVIth General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, which concluded this weekend: So the foundation of all we shall do in this synod should be the friendships we create. It does not look like much. It will not make headlines in the media. ‘They came all that way to Rome to make friends. What a waste!’ But it is by friendship that we will make the transition from ‘I’ to ‘We.’” By James Martin, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review


‘Process is key’: sisters respond to document from synod’s first session
“The first Vatican session for the synod on synodality, Pope Francis’ multiyear summit on the future of the Catholic Church, was both fruitful and profound, women religious say, but it also had missed opportunities … For the first time since the establishment of the church’s Synod of Bishops in 1965, about 50 women were granted voting rights by the pope at the assembly … ‘I won’t use the term success, but it has been fruitful. It’s a new state in the experience of synodality — there was a lot of grace, it was a time of joy,’ said Xavière Missionary Sr. Nathalie Becquart, an undersecretary of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops office, which made her not only a voting participant but a member of the synod itself.” By Dan Stockman, National Catholic Reporter


Pope’s meeting on church future says it’s ‘urgent’ to guarantee governance roles for women
“Pope Francis’ big gathering of Catholic bishops and laypeople said Saturday (Oct. 28) it’s ‘urgent’ to guarantee fuller participation of women in church governance and called for research on allowing women to be deacons to be released within a year. After a month of closed-door debate, Francis’ meeting on the future of the Catholic Church ended with the approval of a 42-page text on a host of issues that will now be considered at a second session next year.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Seattle Times


‘We will continue to be heard’: progressive Catholics react to synod report
“The 41-page synthesis report for the Synod of Bishops on Synodality disappointed several progressive Catholics and others who advocate for the Catholic Church to rethink its approach to issues such as the clergy sex abuse crisis, LGBTQ ministry, women’s roles in the church and the possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate. But while some of those Catholics said they were dismayed or angered at what the report glossed over or omitted, others said the document is just the latest milestone in a multiyear process that will continue with another Vatican assembly in October 2024 and a post-synodal apostolic exhortation sometime after that.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter


Pope Francis reminds us – again – to reject clericalism
“While coverage of the conclusion of the first in-person part of the church’s synod on synodality is understandably garnering a lot of attention, especially as journalists and commentators begin to unpack the final synthesis document, I don’t want to lose sight of a notable intervention (the term for a ‘short speech’ at the synod) that Pope Francis delivered on Wednesday (Oct. 25) of last week, days before the close of this year’s session. In his remarks, the pope began by describing the church as ‘the faithful people of God, holy and sinful, a people convoked and called with the power of the beatitudes and of Matthew 25.’ This clear and simple, yet beautiful, statement follows from the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, which reminds all the faithful that the church is first and foremost the ‘people of God.’” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter


Priests must be like fathers and not spinsters, says Pope on celibacy
“Pope Francis has said that a change in the Catholic Church’s rule on celibacy will not solve difficulties in the Church because the deeper problem is of priests behaving like spinsters instead of fathers. The Pontiff made his comment in a new wide-ranging interview, in which he confirmed plans to visit to Dubai for a UN climate summit in early December. The Holy Father also addressed current global conflicts, and weighed in on several hot-button issues touched on during last month’s Synod of Bishops on Synodality, including women’s ordination and priestly celibacy.” By Catholic Herald


The synod meeting in Rome is done. What now?
“What now? The first session of the two-year synod in Rome has finished its work and published a final document. It offers ideas to guide the church in the next 11 months before the second session gathers in Rome next autumn. What does the task look like for the church here in the United States? The final document has some very specific proposals, and the section on formation especially has some clues about how to proceed.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Retired priest, Father William Killeen, removed from ministry pending investigation of a 40-year-old allegation
“Today (Oct. 28), Cardinal Blase Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, notified eight parishes that he had asked Fr. William Killeen to step aside pending investigation of an allegation of child sexual abuse received this week. Father Killeen denies the allegation. The abuse is alleged to have occurred approximately 40 years ago at St. Patricia Parish in Hickory Hills.” By Archdiocese of Chicago


Former North Attleboro altar boy receives settlement after disclosing abuse by Father Porter
“A former altar boy at St. Mary’s Church in the 1960s has reached a financial settlement with the Diocese of Fall River for sexual abuse he suffered form now notorious Catholic priest James Porter. The 72-year-old man, who now lives on the North Shore of Boston, recently reached a financial package in the ‘mid-five figures,’ Boston lawyer Mitchell Garabedian said during a press conference Wednesday (Nov. 1).” By David Linton, The Sun Chronicle


Decades-old sex assault claims may soon see their day in Michigan courts
Survivors of decades-old sexual assaults may soon get a two-year period to bring civil cases against their alleged abuser while also seeing the actionable window for bringing a claim expanded under moves made by House lawmakers Tuesday (Oct. 31). Members of the House Criminal Justice Committee voted along party lines to advance legislation – HB 4482 through HB 4487, referred to as the “Justice for Survivors” package – which seeks to primarily allow victims of childhood sexual abuse the ability to bring forward their claims long after the act has occurred.” By Jordyn Hermani, MLive.com


Former southern Minnesota priest convicted of sexually assaulting adult male
“A former Catholic priest was convicted Thursday (Oct. 26) of sexually assaulting a man in Winona County in December 2020. Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 51, was found guilty after a three-day trial on fifth-degree criminal sexual assault charges for performing sexual acts on a victim without their consent. Huerta is expected to be sentenced in January.” By Trey Mewes, Star Tribune


Former St. John’s teacher added to list of priests with ‘established allegations’ of abuse
“A priest who taught at St. John’s High School in the 1990s and early 2000s has been added to the list of Jesuits with ‘established allegations’ of sexual abuse of a minor, according to a letter from the school. St. John’s officials said Father Francis E. Canfield, who died in May, was accused by a former student who said the abuse happened during the 1999-2000 school year.” By WTOL-TV11 News


Rapid City billboard calls attention to pedophiles among Catholic clergy
“Speaking of Catholic priests, an eager reader notes that someone in Rapid City has been advertising his desire to see the Catholic Church held to greater account for sexual abuse committed by clergy …” By Cory Allen Heidelberger, Dakota Free Press


Woman can sue church for abuse in ‘monumental’ ruling
“Institutional child abuse survivors will have a better chance of securing compensation after a woman alleging historical abuse by a Catholic priest won the right to sue. Three out of five judges in the nation’s top court on Wednesday ruled to overturn a NSW appeal court’s decision to permanently stay the woman’s case, which sought damages for personal injury due to the alleged sexual abuse. The decision is expected to have a wider impact on institutional abuse cases across Australia.” By Jack Gramenz and Peter Bodkin, Yahoo News


Man’s abuse of boys at school in Kilkenny and Offaly continues to cast shadow over many lives
“Nearly 25 years since the Portarlington pedophile Donal Dunne was jailed for offenses against young boys, his deeds continue to cast a shadow over many lives. He had a 45-year teaching career and left the Christian Brothers in 1957, his abuse of boys having spanned both his time in the order and subsequently. He began his teaching career in Dublin in 1940 at Scoil Mhuire in Dublin’s Marino and he held posts in a total of ten schools before retiring from the Sacred Heart School in Tullamore. At the age of 78, he received a two-year prison sentence at Tullamore Circuit Court in 1999.” By KilkennyPeople.ie


Spain ombudsman report on Catholic Church reveals more than 1 in 200 faced sexual abuse
“A report released by Spanish Ombudsman Ángel Gabilondo on Friday (Oct. 27) found that priests within the Catholic Church have abused more than 1 in every 200 Spaniards. The report was presented to the Spanish Parliament on Friday and aimed to ensure that the perpetrators are held responsible and accountable for their actions. The ombudsman also sought to create greater awareness about the issue of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.” By Amora Evans, Jurist.org