In the Vineyard :: May 13, 2019 :: Volume 19, Issue 9
News from National
Apostolic Letter on New Rules to Address Sex Abuse
Last week Pope Francis issued an Apostolic Letter creating new legislation aimed at addressing the crimes of sex abuse within the Church. The motu proprio included three major points: mandatory reporting, the institution of a metropolitan model to investigate bishops and others who are in positions of authority, and the obligation to establish in every diocese and eparchy a stable and easily accessible system to report abuse and cover-up.
The new rules also call for protecting those who report abuse and require the initial investigations of charges to be completed within 90 days.
However, the rules do not require Church officials to report sex abuse accusations to civil authorities with the expertise to investigate crime. The reason apparently is a concern that in some nations such directives would expose the Church and clerics to persecution. Why such a requirement is not imposed in nations where such concerns are miminal was not explained.
Nor does the new system mandate the use of lay persons with expertise in such matters. Bishops are simply told they “may” include lay people in the process.
Pope Francis begins the letter with his new motto: “’You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden’ (Mt 5:14). Our Lord Jesus Christ calls every believer to be a shining example of virtue, integrity and holiness. All of us, in fact, are called to give concrete witness of faith in Christ in our lives and, in particular, in our relationship with others.”
He writes further: “The crimes of sexual abuse offend Our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful. In order that these phenomena, in all their forms, never happen again, a continuous and profound conversion of hearts is needed, attested by concrete and effective actions that involve everyone in the Church, so that personal sanctity and moral commitment can contribute to promoting the full credibility of the Gospel message and the effectiveness of the Church’s mission. This becomes possible only with the grace of the Holy Spirit poured into our hearts …”
You can read the entire letter here: Vos estis lux mundi
For reactions and additional reports, see Focus (below).
“The Heat”: Catholic Church sexual abuse
CGTN (China Global Television Network) aired two reports last week on child child sex abuse scandals in the Church. The first covered the synod earlier this year when leaders from all the national conferences in the Church met in Rome to address the issues. CGTN’s John Gilmore filed that report(link is external).
Following Gilmore’s report, CGTN-TV’s Nathan King moderated a panel discussion (Part 2) with Tim Lennon, sexual abuse survivor and President of SNAP; Ray Flynn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican; Matthias Katsch, German activist who was sexually abused; and Donna B. Doucette, executive director of Voice of the Faithful.”
Pope Francis Says Commision on Ordinationof Women Deacons Was Inconclusive
On May 7, Pope Francis said that, after two years of work, members of his study commission on women deacons do not agree whether women were ordained deacons in the early Church in the same way as men.
The Pope established the Vatican commission to study the possibility of an ordained women’s diaconate following a question at a meeting of superiors of women’s religious orders from around the world in 2016. He meets again next week with religious superiors and speculation was that he would announce what he intends to do regarding women deacons at that meeting.
Phyllis Zagano, a theologian and one of the 12 people Francis appointed to the commission, spoke to the National Catholic Reporter shortly after the announcement. She said she is “at peace” with the pope’s remarks, and sees it personally as an invitation to continue publishing her own research. “He’s trying to bring out discussion,” she said. “I think he’s calling on the bishops to talk about this, and challenging them.”
Voice of the Faithful joins other Catholics in advocating for women to be ordained deacons no matter what historical hairs the commission and the Pope may split. This is a matter of justice. A just Church treats everyone equally, according to their particular charisms and callings.
Rather than relying on what women deacons did historically, the Church needs to assess what an ordained women’s diaconate could do today. If the focus is on what was done in the “early” Church, the evidence of women ministering in the first-century Church is overwhelming. The Church cannot afford today to continue to be wedded to traditions that limit the people of God.
Voice of the Faithful will continue to advocate for women to be ordained deacons and asks that U.S. bishops urge Pope Francis to institute an ordained women’s diaconate.
Revitalizing the Church: How Would Business Do It?
Boston College’s C21 initiative conducted an Easter series of panel discusssions featuring people from various walks of life speaking about how to revitalize the Church from their points of view. Margaret Roylance of VOTF attended the panel featuring business leaders and filed this report.
The BC21 event with business leaders was interesting. They each addressed the problems of the church from the point of view of running a business, although Jack Connors mainly told stories. I think that is probably his main gift and may explain why he has been so successful in advertising. The most compelling story he told was about spending the night before the Spotlight article in the company of Cardinal Law. He claimed to have seen the face of evil, leaving the details to the imagination of the members of the audience. Overall, he gave the impression of being thoroughly disenchanted with the hierarchy, although all the panelists were strong supporters of Pope Francis and demonstrated a strong tie to the core of their faith.
Chuck Clough pointed out that the current reality of the Roman Catholic Church, from liturgy to governance, etc., was established by the Council of Trent and asked how may successful businesses are still operating on a 500-year-old business plan. He also mentioned that he wasn’t exactly lay, since he has been an ordained deacon for many years.
Denise Morrison, who was President and CEO of Campbell Soup, said that, when she started as a sales rep, Campbell sent her around to work with lots of different sales reps to learn from the different approaches they used and to discern for herself what worked in the real world. She applied that to seminary formation and said seminarians should be spending more time in parishes becoming familiar with the real church (catching the aroma of the sheep?). She also pointed out that in the food business, like religion, people want transparency and safety. They want to know what is in their soup!
Jack Connors said the leadership of the LaSallette order have closed their seminary (which they couldn’t afford), bought a house in the area, and are educating all their seminarians at the college of theology and ministry at BC. He spoke about Fr. Monan inviting lay people onto the board of BC because he wanted to ensure a Jesuit school when all the Jesuits were gone. Jack asked Chuck (who founded Clough Capital and apparently started out with Merrill Lynch) to provide figures for the current endowment compared to what it was then. He said he deferred to Chuck for the answer because he himself had never let numbers get in the way of a good story. It is clear from those numbers (current endowment in the billions?) that Monan made a good business decision, at least.
They all talked about how much the laity, including business leaders, have to offer the church, but only the one woman on the panel called attention to the gorilla in the room when she pointed out that offers of help from men might at least be greeted with gratitude, if not accepted, whereas woman often don’t get that kind of response.
They all ended the meeting on a positive note with an agreement that change will come and is, in fact, already happening in many ways that don’t get enough attention. They used the role of lay ministers of the future being trained at BC’s School of Theology and Ministry as one promising example.
I agree with all that, but doubt that substantial change will originate from the bishops, nor result from the bishop’s opening their arms to the offers of assistance other than financial support from the faithful, even from those who are wealthy and successful businesspeople. I pray that I may be proven wrong.
A Mass Celebrating Women
By Richard Moriarty
Given the shortage of priests and the important role women had in the early Church, I believe it is important to encourage the Church to renew itself by allowing women to bring all their many talents to God’s service. My activities within VOTF were the inspiration for my Missa Adsum! Celebrating Women, which I began in 2011.
Peggie Thorp was central to this work. Without her text, I would not have been able to create this music. Susan Troy’s memory encouraged me to reach out [and share these notes] with VOTF. I will always remember Jim Muller’s pictorial of the church buttressed by the contributions of women and Susan proclaiming from the podium … ADSUM
The Mass was workshopped at Old Dominion University (ODU) with a volunteer chorus drawn from the University Chorus and the community in September 2012; it was conducted by Dr. Nancy Klein, Director of Choral Music and the Graduate Music Program at ODU. The premiere of the Mass by the combined forces of the Old Dominion University Chorus and Schola Cantorum of Virginia, with organ accompaniment, was performed in November 2015 at Christ and St Luke’s Church in Norfolk, Virginia; Dr. Klein again conducted, with Professor Agnes Mobley-Wynne as co-conductor. Dr. James Kosnik was the organist. This recording is the orchestral premiere performed 26 April 2018 in the Organ Hall, Lviv, Ukraine by the Festival Orchestra of Ukraine.
To read Rich’s liner notes from the CD on his purpose and inspiration for each song in the Mass, please click here.
Don’t Forget the Conference!
Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations
“Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up. The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
- New rules on abuse mark a major step forward, By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
- Pope issues new standards for reporting, investigating clergy abuse, By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
- Key points of Vatican law on reporting sex abuse, cover-ups, By Associated Press
- Vatican issues norms for reports of abuse of minors, seminarians, and religious, By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, in The Pilot
Francis: Women deacons commission gave split report on their role in early church
“The Vatican commission studying the history of women serving as deacons in the Catholic Church has been unable to find consensus on their role in the early centuries of Christianity and is yet to give a ‘definitive response,’ Pope Francis said May 7. In a press conference aboard the flight back to Rome after his three-day visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, the pope said the primary question is whether women who served as deacons were ordained in a manner similar to male deacons. Each of the 12 members of the commission, said Francis, ‘thought differently.’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
- Pope Francis says commission on women deacons did not reach agreement, By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
- Pope says study on women deacons was inconclusive, By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
- Pope says study of ordaining women deacons so far inconclusive,By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com
Ruling lets abuse survivor proceed with suit against California bishops
“A Los Angeles, California, superior court has ruled that a survivor of sexual abuse can sue the state’s Catholic bishops and the California Catholic Conference. In a press conference livestreamed from Burbank, California, April 29, survivor of clergy sexual abuse Tom Emens spoke alongside attorneys with the Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm.” By Maria Benevento, National Catholic Reporter
Illinois Catholic Church didn’t disclose hundreds of abuse cases, new attorney general finding shows
“Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Illinois six Roman Catholic dioceses failed to disclose at least 500 sexual abuse cases involving priests. That’s one of the first findings the office has released so far in its ongoing investigation of the dioceses. In an interview last week, Madigan said one of the goals of the investigation is to uncover both the extent of sexual abuse incidents in Illinois’ Catholic Church and whether church officials tried to cover them up.” By Sam Dunklau, Illinois Public Radio
If leaked draft for Curia reform is for real, the Vatican is headed for disaster
“If there is any truth to the leaks concerning the Vatican’s forthcoming proposal to reform the Curia, it is going to be a disappointment and a disaster. A draft of the proposal, expected to be published at the end of June, was obtained by a Spanish weekly, Vida Nueva, and as the Vatican has not pushed back on its analysis, the Catholic News Service and other Vatican reporters are taking it seriously.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service
At Rome’s American seminary, scandals aren’t deterring future priests
“‘None of us would have asked for this scandal and the hurt it’s caused,’ said Father Peter Harman, a priest of Springfield, Ill., and rector of the NAC (North American College) since 2016. ‘But perhaps, and I trust in God’s goodness, if this makes us want to be priests for the right reasons, then let it be.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Editorial: George Weigel, wrong then, wrong now
“The Catholic University of America decided to give the final guest speaker spot in its commendable series of four programs examining the priest sex abuse crisis to George Weigel. That was unfortunate, because his long-discredited narrative about the causes of the scandal and his illusory ideas about how to deal with it do a great disservice to the Catholic faithful in this moment when so much of the church is finally squaring up to the awful truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for?
“In the final episode of Deliver Us, we ask: What’s mine to do and not somebody else’s? What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for? To grapple with these questions, we spoke to people who have responded to the sex abuse crisis in different ways. Geoff Boisi and Kerry Robinson talk about why they formed Leadership Roundtable, an organization which brings best business practices to church leaders and which has convened experts to discuss the church’s future … Donna Doucette of Voice of the Faithful also joins the episode to offer her take on how lay people can contribute to healing, and Monica LaBelle offers her experience of setting up listening sessions in her parish. We also hear from you, our listeners, in this final episode. You tell us what you’ve been doing to help the church move forward.” By Maggi Van Dorn, Deliver Us, America: The Jesuit Review
May 22 Boston: Presentation by Thomas Ryan, CSP, on his new book, Praying By Hand: Praying With Beads
Fr. Ryan, a noted author of numerous books on spirituality, will offer reflections on the “what,” “why,” and “how” of Beaded Prayer in the different traditions of Christian faith. Learn how you can strengthen, enrich, and enhance your prayer practice by engaging in a truly universal form of prayer. The presentation will be followed by refreshments and an opportunity to have your book signed by the author.
Wednesday, May 22, 7:00-8:00 pm, PAULIST CENTER LIBRARY, 5 Park St., Boston, MA 02108
For summer reading on “Prophets Then and Now,” we recommend Joan Chittister’s new book, The Time Is Now: A Call to Uncommon Courage. In this book Sister Joan, who has often written and spoken about the prophets and has herself been called a prophet, lays out a path for all of us to participate in the prophetic tradition. In her first pages she quotes Daniel Berrigan: “The prophet is one who speaks the truth to a culture of lies.” And Sister Joan adds, “Prophetic spirituality is about living out our faith on the streets of the world rather than just talking about it.” A challenging yet hopeful book.
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