In the Vineyard :: July 31, 2019 :: Volume 19, Issue 14
News from National
An Old, Sad Story on Finances
For those of us who have seen the church we love struggle with ongoing scandal over the last decade and a half, the news that emerged from the Diocese of Santa Rosa last week is yet another chapter in a long sad story of trusted clerics—and lay people too—betraying the trust of the faithful.
Santa Rosa is not the worst example of financial malfeasance uncovered in the last few weeks. That prize goes to the outrageous robbery of resources from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, by its Bishop Michael Bransfield. Yet the theft of parish collections on the other side of the country, by Pastor Oscar Diaz of Resurrection Parish in Santa Rosa, illustrates yet again the need for lay vigilance.
We read these stories of financial wrongdoing regularly now, and this may cause some to think we are losing ground in the battle for accountability within the church. But learning the truth is never the problem. Silence is the enemy of reform, not bad news. Silence perpetuated both the sexual and financial wrongdoings that have plagued the church and all of human society for millennia. We are learning about these crimes now, and that is good news.
The Santa Rosa theft, while similar to so many we have heard in the past, also has one promising constituent that we hope can be repeated when thefts surface elsewhere. Continue reading …
|Could what happened in Santa Rosa happen in your own parish? Do parishioners know what your diocese requires for safe handling of collections? Do those requirements follow guidelines set for responsible financial collection practices? You may want to take the Parish Financial Integrity Quotient test found on the VOTF website at Parish F-IQ to learn more about protecting the financial resources of your parish.
More Dioceses List Abusers—Good;Lists Incomplete—Not So Good
The diocese of Lake Charles in southwest Louisiana published its list of abuser priests in April 2019, its neighboring diocese Lafayette posted its updated list a day later, and the diocese of Jefferson City, Mo., released its list in November 2018. Before that, the Wilmington diocese in Delaware had posted one list voluntarily, in 2006, and another in 2012 under orders from a bankruptcy court.
What do these lists have in common? In addition to a sad record of abuse, they exhibit one or more of the flaws that mark so many postings: names are missing; full assignments are not detailed; the later history of priests who were moved to other dioceses is omitted.
To date, per BishopAccountability.org, which tracks reports of clergy abuse, 133 dioceses and 18 religious organizations have posted lists of priests credibly accused of abuse. Unfortunately, for many of the postings, follow-up reports by others illuminate flaws in the official diocesan lists.
The follow-ups typically come from organizations like SNAP and BishopAccountability, from local media, and sometimes from survivors themselves who know at a glance when dates are wrong, abusers are unnamed, or their abuser was listed in another diocese in different cases. Continue reading …
KEY POINTS: All dioceses should do their utmost to ensure that their lists are complete, that they include all assignments, and that they provide details about the nature of the abuse and the number of charges. Dioceses with inadequate lists should repair them—preferably before relying on the media to do the legwork.
Women Take More Visible Roles at the Vatican
Christiane Murray, a Brazilian journalist, was recently named as Pope Francis’ deputy spokeswoman. Her appointment follows Francis’s historic decision this month to name seven women – superiors of their religious congregations – as members of the Vatican’s congregation for religious orders, giving them a voice for the first time in Vatican matters directly affecting the lives of their sisters.
Read more here.
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Brazilian bishop accused of cover-up as police investigate new abuse allegations
“Police in Brazil are investigating three Catholic priests accused of abusing several altar boys and seminarians. The former bishop of their diocese, who resigned in May, is also under investigationfor having allegedly extorted money from them in exchange for his silence. The lawyer of a group of victims said last week he intends to file lawsuits against the Catholic Church, seeking $530,000 in damages for each person.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, Cruxnow.com
After pressure from lay group, West Virginia diocese agrees to audit
“A lay group that urged West Virginia Catholics to withhold support for their dioceseclaimed victory after Archbishop William Lori announced July 17 that the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston will undergo an independent financial audit. ‘I clearly understand that the Church has a long way to go to regain your confidence and trust,’ Lori, archbishop of Baltimore who is also serving as administrator for the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, wrote to West Virginia’s Catholics. Lori disclosed that the diocese would engage the services of CliftonLarsonAllen LLP for a full audit of its finances.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter
Bransfield disciplined by Pope Francis
“Pope Francis has handed down discipline against former Wheeling-Charleston Catholic Church Bishop Michael Bransfield. In a brief communication released Friday (Jul 19), the Pope said Bransfield cannot live in the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese. He’s also prohibited from taking part in any Catholic Church services in West Virginia and must make personal amends for people he has harmed.” By Jeff Jenkins, Metro News
- Pope Francis issues disciplinary measures for Bishop Bransfield, By Kevin Christopher Robles, America: The Jesuit Review
In 44 states, clergy don’t have to tell police when someone confesses to child sex abuse
“Under current Utah law, members of the clergy are not required to report confessions of child sex abuse. Utah State Rep. Angela Romero wants to change that. Romero is drafting a bill that would require any religious leader in a position of authority to become a mandatory reporter—an individual required by law to notify authorities of any admissions of abuse. Teachers, coaches, doctors and others who work with children are often mandatory reporters. Failure to report can be considered a criminal offense. In a statement on Facebook, Romero said the bill was not targeting any particular religious group, but was rather intended to protect children from harm.” By Jacob Wallace, Newsweek
Report claims church leaders long knew about Bransfield accusations
“A recent newspaper report details claims that senior church leaders in the United States knew as far back as 2012 about complaints against a West Virginia bishop whose spending habits and recent accusations of sexual misconduct have dogged the body of U.S. bishops at a time when they’re seeking a path toward greater accountability for themselves. A July 3 story in The Washington Post said U.S. and Vatican officials had for years received correspondence from parishioners and others concerned with excessive spending by Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, the former head of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston in West Virginia, one of the poorest states in the country.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot
Catholic group’s response: not a dime to the diocese
“Following an open letter to Archbishop William Lori and the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, a group of Catholics have declared their intent to withhold funds to the diocese after failing to receive a measured response. Last month (June), Lay Catholic Voices for Change, an organization comprised of Catholics from north-central West Virginia, sent an open letter to Lori addressing what they saw as numerous issues with the structure of the church, as well as their proposed solutions and a call for increased parishioner participation in clerical matters. The letter requested a response by June 28, which did not come.” By The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register
Catholic Church offers cash to settle abuse claims
“Amid the latest wave of sexual-abuse investigations and allegations against the Catholic Church, victims whose criminal cases are too old to bring to court are considering suing the church. To stem the tide of potential settlement costs, some dioceses, like the one in Scranton, Pennsylvania, are creating compensation programs for victims. There’s one catch: Taking the settlement means shielding the church from having to make certain documents public and victims are then barred from further lawsuits.” By Greater Baton Rouge Daily Business Report Staff
“Healing the Wounds” Conference
The St. Gabriel ministry of Saint Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, is hosting a conference to examine the causes of the abuse crisis and learn what is being done to promote healing and justice for the victims as the state approaches the one year anniversary of a grand jury report on multiple diocesan coverups. Keynote speaker will be Dr. Massimo Faggioli of Villanova University.
The conference, “Pro Vita 2019: Healing the Wounds in the Body of Christ,” will be held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Aug. 9 at Saint Patrick Church, 87 Marsh Drive. The day begins with a light breakfast buffet and registration at 9 a.m., followed by the keynote from Dr. Faggioli and a Q&A period. After a coffee break, Dr. Faggioli will join a panel that includes retired Pennsylvania State Police Capt. Janet McNeal, the safe environment coordinator for the Harrisburg Diocese, and Carlisle-based clinical psychologist Dr. Jerry Mock. The panel will be moderated by Col. Celestino Perez, a professor at the U.S. Army War College.
The panel discussion will be followed by a lunch from Dickinson Catering. After lunch, participants may stay for optional small group discussions.
Registration for the event is $10 and can be made at the website www.stgabrielcarlisle.org. Those planning to attend should register by Aug. 5.
A Musical Interlude
The Paulist Center in Boston, Mass., will host a concert and workshop by Dan Schutte on Friday, Sept. 6 and Saturday Sept. 7at the Paulist Center. Mr. Schutte has been composing worship music for more than 30 years and is one of the most prolific and influential composers of music for the liturgy today.
The concert on Friday begins at 7 p.m. The workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Paulist Center is at 5 Park St. Boston, MA 02108. For more information call Peter Ghiloni at 617-948-2425, or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayer Intention – Integrity of Justice System
In Pope Francis’s most recent prayer intention, he discusses the integrity that is demanded of each person, especially in authorities who are entrusted with various powers intended to be used for the common good. “It is not enough to use high-sounding words. We must steadily pray that God give his wisdom to those in authority, and we must ourselves act prudently to restrain those who undermine the rule of law and claim for themselves power without moral restraint.” Watch the video, here.
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