Voice of the Faithful Focus, Oct. 21, 2022

Oct. 21, 2022


Pope Francis marks 60th anniversary of Vatican II opening by pleading for the church to overcome polarization
“Pope Francis on Oct. 11 marked the opening of the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council — a three-year period that launched landmark reforms in the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world around it and the church’s own liturgy and practices — by pleading for the church to ‘overcome all polarization and preserve our communion.’ In a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which served as the council’s chambers during the 1962-1965 meetings, Francis said the council, which was inaugurated by Pope St. John XXIII, was ‘one great response’ to the question ‘Do you love me?’ posed by Christ to his disciples.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis extends Synod of Bishops a year, two meetings now planned
“Pope Francis announced on Oct. 16 that he is significantly expanding the timeframe for his ongoing consultation process for the world’s Catholics. The Vatican meeting of the Synod of Bishops, originally planned for next year, will now be held across two sessions: one in October 2023, and another in October 2024. The synod process, which has been underway for more than a year, has involved discussions with Catholics across the world on a range of sensitive topics. The Oct. 16 announcement indicates Francis wants the process, and the discussions, to continue on much longer than formerly planned.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Who knew? The sexual-abuse crisis and ‘epistemic injustice’
“What have we learned from the Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal? What didn’t we know before that we know now? One way to answer these questions is to catalogue the revelations of the past few decades. To begin with, we now know, better than we did before, the extent of the abuse … The injustice of sexual violence is often compounded by what philosophers call ‘epistemic injustices’: wrongs done to people as knowers. One common kind of epistemic injustice is testimonial injustice, when a person’s credibility as someone with knowledge to convey is discounted because of prejudice on the hearer’s part.” By Bernard G. Prusak, Commonweal

Vatican’s mishandling of high-profile abuse cases extends its foremost crisis
“Three years ago, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church was committed to eradicating the ‘evil’ of abuse. The pope and other church leaders drew up new guidelines to handle accusations. They pledged transparency. They said victims’ needs would come first. ‘A change of mentality,’ Francis called it. But two recent major cases suggest that the church, for all its vows to improve, is still falling into familiar traps and extending its foremost crisis.” By Chico Harlan and Amada Coletta, The Washington Post


As Sex Abuse Claims Continue to Double, Catholic Church’s Bankruptcy Stalls Justice
“The sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church, although mostly under the radar in the recent past, has not gone away. In California–and elsewhere–the lawsuits are mounting — middle-aged men, saying they were sexually assaulted as children by a Boy Scout leader or a priest. A woman, now in her late 30s, detailing how she was allegedly assaulted in a center for foster children … At least 750 of those lawsuits filed since January 2020 are against Catholic dioceses, and more than 800 people are in the process of filing to beat a Dec. 31 deadline, according to lawyers involved in the cases.” By Amanda James, The Voice of New York


Synodality and the perennial temptations of power, pleasure, and wealth
“If one looks back on the Synods of Bishops during the pontificate of Pope Francis, and the controversies that have accompanied them, one can notice that even with such disparate themes as the family, youth, the Amazon, and synodality, many of the same topics have arisen again and again: divorce and remarriage, contraception, LGBTQ issues; the role of the laity in church governance, the ordination of women and married men; the role of the laity in Church governance, especially in gaining control over Church finances and property. That these same issues have bubbled up again and again is, oddly, both surprising, and not surprising at all.” By The Catholic World Report

Pope announces that synod on ‘synodality’ will be extended to 2024
“Pope Francis Sunday announced that his ongoing Synod of Bishops on Synodality will be extended for an additional year to allow, as he put it, more time for discernment and a greater understanding of the concept as a key dimension of church life. As things now stand, bishops and other participants will gather for an initial meeting of the synod Oct. 4-29, 2023, in Rome, to be followed by a year of reflection with another culminating meeting set for October 2024.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

The three most important lessons from the synod
“Now that the church has gathered together reports from nearly all of the bishops’ conferences around the world, Pope Francis has declared the first phase of the church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality over. But that first phase of consultation with the faithful has been more than just an exercise in gathering information. It has also offered some valuable lessons. It will be crucial to keep these in mind during the synod’s second phase—meetings of “continental assemblies” from January to March 2023—and then the third phase, the international assembly of bishops at a later date.” By The Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

The Holy Spirit is guiding the synodal process. But how?
“The Holy Spirit was the guest of honor at a recent gathering of church leaders on the topic of synodality. Literally. After one panelist suggested the practice of leaving an empty chair at meetings to symbolize room for the Holy Spirit, the next panel featured — you guessed it — an empty chair. And organizers of the event were attributing to the Spirit the perfect timing that saw the U.S. national synthesis document — compiled after diocesan and other synodal gatherings throughout the U.S. — released just days before the Sept. 22-23 Catholic Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican II didn’t fail. It’s just getting started
“I sometimes wish that I could travel back to see my parish in the 1950s in West Philadelphia. The great domed church, St. Francis de Sales, towering over Victorian houses and Edwardian apartment buildings, can seat 800, but back then it needed simultaneous Masses in the lower church and the parish hall to fit all the attendees. I wish I could still watch that many people streaming toward the church each Sunday. We are not now that strength which we once were. The loss of that strength is hard, but it can end up being the source of renewal.” By Terence Sweeney, America: The Jesuit Review

Change is not easy in the Catholic Church, whether Vatican II or Pope Francis
“Sixty years ago, about a month after I entered the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California, the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome. No one bothered to tell the novices about it. The council went on for three years, during which I took vows and studied Latin and Greek without knowing what was happening at the council. In those pre-Vatican II days, the novitiate was what sociologists call a ‘total institution,’ completely isolated from the rest of the world, with no access to newspapers, radio or television. Except when I went to the dentist, I did not talk to a woman outside my family for four years. The idea was to insulate us from the world so we could devote ourselves to our Jesuit formation.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Vatican II: Five views sixty years on
“Everybody I know seems to be writing something on Vatican II these days and I began feeling a bit left out of the fun. So, I thought I would jump into the mosh pit of pundits to offer my take. The many recent commentaries, if I’m allowed the chutzpah to summarize them, fall into five basic categories. First, there is the view that Vatican II was a wonderful Council in full continuity with the tradition. But it was implemented poorly and hijacked by progressives, who made liberal use of the mass media to spread the view that the Council was about liberalizing the Church in a culturally accommodationist direction.” By Catholic World Report


Diocese confirms French bishop disciplined by Vatican for sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Créteil in France confirmed last week that its former bishop had been credibly accused of sexual abuse and ordered to live a life of ‘prayer and penance’ by the Vatican last year. Bishop Michel Santier retired in January 2021 at the age of 73, two years before the age at which bishops are required to submit a letter of resignation to the pope. Seven months prior, in June 2020, Santier had told Catholics in his diocese he would be retiring early for “health reasons,” according to a report by La Croix.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency


Major survey of Catholic priests finds trust issues, burnout, fear of false allegations
“A study that claims to be the largest national survey of Catholic priests conducted in more than 50 years has found that despite relatively high levels of personal well-being and fulfillment among priests as a whole, a significant percentage of priests have issues with burnout, distrust in their bishop, and fears of being falsely accused of misconduct. Conducted by The Catholic Project, a research group at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the study released at an Oct. 19 press conference used survey responses from 3,516 priests across 191 dioceses and eparchies in the United States.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency


How Catholics became prisoners of Vatican II
“The Second Vatican Council, the great revolution in the life of the modern Catholic Church, opened 60 years ago this week in Rome. So much of that 1960s-era world has passed away, but the council is still with us; indeed for a divided church its still-unfolding consequences cannot be escaped. For a long time this would have been a liberal claim. In the wars within Catholicism that followed the council, the conservatives interpreted Vatican II as a discrete and limited event — a particular set of documents that contained various shifts and evolutions (on religious liberty and Catholic-Jewish relations especially), and opened the door to a revised, vernacular version of the Mass.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

The secret to healing the church is looking outward, not inward
“Last month, I looked at the U.S. bishops’ conference national synthesis of synodal reports, concluding that the process seems to have been more successful than anticipated and commending those who wrote the report for its frankness and comprehensive quality. I also noted that one section of that report warranted greater attention, the section titled ‘Social Mission of the Church,’ and today will offer that attention. It is only one paragraph long …” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Why is San Francisco’s top Catholic shielding pedophile priests

“If you grew up under the influence of the Catholic Church, you likely know someone who was sexually abused by a priest. In my family, the destruction manifested in the form of a man who, after several years training for the priesthood, returned home and spent the next few decades preying on boys in the Central Valley. He would eventually die alone, ostracized as a registered sex offender, but his evil lives on in the anguish of the victims he permanently damaged. His name does not appear on any official list of abusive clergy, but I count his horrific crimes as part of what I consider the Catholic Church’s systematic and global campaign of child rape.” By Gil Duran, San Francisco Examiner


IICSA concludes with a demand for mandatory reporting of child abuse
“Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse must be enforced by UK law to protect the 13 million children in England and Wales from the ‘vile and degrading’ abuse found within institutions across the country, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has concluded. Its final report, which includes 19 other recommendations and covers all 15 of its investigations into institutional child abuse across the UK, was published on Thursday (Oct. 21). The executive summary describes child abuse as a ‘global crisis’ which has been exacerbated in recent decades by the internet — the regulation of which is a key concern in the report.” By Hattie Williams, Church Times

These Catholics are trying to work within the church to change how sexual abuse is addressed
“When a group of local Catholics decided to expand their advocacy work outside a Milwaukee living room, they had to come up with a name for their new organization. They settled on ‘Awake Milwaukee.’ As Catholics who wanted to push for change on the issue of sexual abuse from within the church, the name represented their own views as well as what they hoped to do for others. ‘We felt like we were finally awake. We were finally paying attention to something that had been there all along,’ said executive director Sara Larson. ‘It’s also what we’re aiming to do for our broader community: to help people wake up to this reality.’” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Clergy abuse has scarred minority Catholic communities
“The image of a white victim does not tell the complete story of clergy sexual abuse in the United States, according to a number of panelists during an Oct. 5 online forum titled ‘Neglected Voices in the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis.’ Blacks have suffered from clergy sex abuse, but ‘it’s an invisible trauma. It’s an unknown trauma because there are Black victims, survivors, of the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Father Bryan Massingale, author of ‘Racial Justice in the Catholic Church.’ ‘Yet in the Catholic imagination, we usually see a white face — a white male face, overwhelmingly.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service


Hundreds of priests with SF archdiocese accused of sexual abuse
“Victims of clergy abuse and their advocates gathered at the headquarters for the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Thursday (Sept. 29) to hand deliver a list they’ve spent years compiling, which includes the names of hundreds of priests accused of preying on children, abusing some of them for years. The list is 312 names long and goes back more than 100 years. While many of the accused predators are dead, some remain working at Bay Area churches today.” By Bigad Shaban, Michael Bott, Mark Villarreal, Alex Bozovic, Grace Galletti and Roselyn Romero, NBC-TV Bay Area News


St. Sabina Church stands by Rev. Pfleger amid new sex abuse accusation: ‘Father Mike, this is your army’
“A day after the Rev. Michael Pfleger was accused again of child sex abuse, the popular priest was absent from Sunday Mass at St. Sabina Church. But he was the focus of the service. ‘Show Father Mike what it means to be persistent in prayer,’ the Rev. Tom Walsh told the congregation during the 2 1⁄2-hour service punctuated by support for Pfleger. Walsh directed congregants to face a camera at the rear of the church broadcasting the service on the internet, where he said Pfleger would be watching.” By David Struett, Chicago Sun-Times

Archdiocese of Chicago adds dozens of new names to list of priests, clergy accused of sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of priests accused of sex abuse nearly doubled Friday (Oct. 14) with the addition of dozens of names, including priests who were accused when they were no longer alive. For years, the Archdiocese of Chicago has publicly named priests with substantiated allegations of sex abuse, but its list did not include the names of priests accused when they were deceased and clergy from different religious orders.” By Sarah Schulte and Ross Weidner, ABC-TV7 News


Catholic diocese: Brighton priest admitted to sexual relationship with teen
“The Diocese of Lansing in a statement said that a priest who the Michigan Attorney General declined to prosecute for having sex with a minor was found to have done so during a separate church investigation. The priest, Shaun Lowery, served at Brighton’s St. Mary Magdalen parish from 2019 to 2021. In the diocese statement, spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing David Kerr said: ‘Father Lowery engaged in immoral sexual acts, grievously violated his vow of celibacy, and gave scandal to the young persons involved in this case, as well as to the wider church.’” By Sophia Lada, Livingston Daily

Priest convicted of sexual assault on boy in Michigan church
“A Catholic priest has been convicted of sexual assaulting a 7-year-old boy in 2004 in a Detroit-area church. A Wayne County jury convicted the Rev. Joseph ‘Jack’ Baker on Thursday (Oct. 13) on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Baker, 60, gasped as the verdict was read, The Detroit News reported. Baker was a priest at St. Mary Parish in Wayne when Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged him in July 2019 with sexually abusing a minor.” By Associated Press


6,000 child pornography photos found on retired St. Louis priest’s electronics, court documents say
“A retired priest from St. Louis pleaded guilty to federal charges of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, James Beighlie, 72, admitted in court that colleagues of his at the Congregation of the Mission in St. Louis found compromising images of him on a church printer on May 17, 2021. The church launched its own investigation and called the FBI when videos of minors performing sex acts were found on electronics used by Beighlie. Investigators found 6,000 images of child sexual abuse on one computer, including 3,000 photos of child pornography and 2,992 images of child erotica. Another computer had 236 photos and 40 videos of child sexual abuse.” By KMOV-TV4 News


Former R.I. Catholic priest facing child-pornography charges is back behind bars
“A Catholic priest formerly of Providence who was granted bail last year after being charged with possessing and transferring child pornography is back behind bars after authorities alleged he violated the conditions of his pretrial release while living in Kansas. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan last week ordered The Rev. James Jackson detained after a separate child pornography investigation in Kansas this summer led police to search a home in Leawood, Kansas, where Jackson, former pastor at St. Mary’s on Broadway, was staying with a relative.” By Tom Mooney, The Providence Journal


Native Americans recall torture, hatred at boarding schools
“After her mother died when Rosalie Whirlwind Soldier was just four years old, she was put into a Native American boarding school in South Dakota and told her native Lakota language was ‘devil’s speak.’ She recalls being locked in a basement at St. Francis Indian Mission School for weeks as punishment for breaking the school’s strict rules. Her long braids were shorn in a deliberate effort to stamp out her cultural identify. And when she broke her leg in an accident, Whirlwind Soldier said she received shoddy care leaving her with pain and a limp that still hobbles her decades later.” By Matthew Brown, Associated Press


Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced for sexual abuse of boys at Mortlake
“Prolific pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale has been sentenced for the sexual abuse of two boys in western Victoria in the 1980s. The 88-year-old appeared in the Warrnambool County Court on Wednesday (Oct. 19) afternoon via video link from Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat. Ridsdale pleaded guilty in July to 13 charges relating to the sexual abuse of two teenage boys in 1981 and 1982, when they were aged under 16.” By ABC News


Former Catholic bishop of Auckland questioned over recommending priest facing abuse allegations
“The former Catholic Bishop of Auckland has come under intense questioning at the abuse in care inquiry over recommending a priest, who had three allegations of abuse made against him, for a teaching job. The Catholic Church appeared at the Royal Commission hearing in Auckland on Monday. Bishop Patrick Dunn was responding to complaints made about Tongan priest Sateki Raass. Raass was convicted in March 2019 for assaulting a person under 16, and he was sentenced to do 100 hours of community service. He later resigned from the priesthood.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand


Historic Portugal church sex abuse ‘truly endemic’ at times
“The head of a lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church said Tuesday (Oct. 11) the problem in the past had been ‘widespread’ and on some occasions reached ‘truly endemic’ proportions. Pedro Strecht, a psychiatrist who heads Portugal’s Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church, said his panel has compiled a list of 424 alleged victims. Before the committee started its work in January, senior church officials had claimed that only a handful of cases had occurred.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press