Voice of the Faithful Focus, Apr. 19, 2011
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.
Vatican Announces Reform of US Women’s Religious Conference
The Vatican called for reform amid a doctrinal “crisis” within the U.S.’s Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), appointing Archbishop J. Peter Sartain of Seattle to lead renewal efforts. The appointment was made as the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith revealed the findings of its multi-year doctrinal assessment of the women’s conference, which has more than 1,500 members throughout the country.
Cleveland Bishop to Reopen 12 Parishes
Saying that it’s time for “peace and unity” in his diocese, Cleveland’s Bishop Richard Lennon has announced that he will reopen 12 churches he’d closed.
— “It’s Time for Peace and Unity in the Diocese of Cleveland”
In Philadelphia, a Church at the Crossroads
The trial’s verdict remains in the balance, yet one significant outcome of the grand jury is already settled: The model of triumphalist clericalism that long defined American Catholicism’s “Last Empire” is dead, and something very different is beginning to rise in its place.
An ‘Invitation to Lunch’ Pastoral Theology
Perhaps it is just a sign of the times that Catholics would be jolted reading that a cardinal, facing a difficult pastoral situation, would publicly acknowledge having asked himself: “How would Jesus act?” (Cardinal) Schönborn’s approach has attracted a great deal of notice, of course, because it is so strikingly different from so much of the confrontational policing of borders that goes on in the church these days.
— Overruled by Cardinal on Gay Member of Parish Council, Pastor Resigns
Catholic Bishops Fight for Authority over U.S. Flock
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is a powerful institution, at least on paper. But a recent debate over contraception coverage has exposed a deep divide between the 271 active bishops and the rank-and-file U.S. Catholics who are supposed to follow their moral authority. It also has raised questions about why some prominent Catholic intuitions ignore the bishops’ teachings – and whether the bishops will be able to reassert their authority.
Pressures on Priests Fuel Dissent. Are we really talking about a revolution?
Are the winds of revolt howling in the European Church? One would be justified to wonder, looking at the recent news coming from Europe – in Austria, in Ireland, and even in Rome itself – where calls for structural reform are coming from priests.
Power to the Laity
In his recent address to a Conference on Leadership, Sydney based lay leader Robert Fitzgerald outlined his views concerning the need for new models of leadership within the Church. His basic thesis was that the laity have, through their leadership of some of the largest ministries within the Church, shown that they are both willing and capable of exercising effective models of leadership
Duncan Hamilton: Viewing Any Religious Group As a ‘Block Vote’ Is Outdated and Patronizing
In troubled times, people often cling to old certainties. Not so in Ireland, where a survey of practicing Catholics has just revealed a chasm between the official view of the Catholic Church and the opinions of the rank and file church members
— Irish Catholics Rejecting Church Doctrine
Association of Irish Priests “Disturbed” by Silencing of One of Its Founders
The Association of Irish Priests (ACP) – which represents about a third of all the priests in Ireland – says it is “disturbed” at the silencing of Father Tony Flannery, one of its founder members. The ACP issued a press statement on the afternoon of Easter Monday, April 9, expressing its “extreme unease and disquiet” at this development. Its statement came after various Irish media had already reported that the Vatican had imposed the silencing.
— Fr. Tony Flannery’s Silencing by Vatican Causes New Damage to Church
— Priests ‘Treated Like Imbeciles’ by Vatican Visitation
— ‘Huge Support’ for Silenced Priest Fr. Tony Flannery in Limerick
Dublin Mass Goers to be Asked to Bankroll Church’s Growing Debts
Catholic Church leaders in the Irish capital have admitted that the diocese is close to financial ruin. Priests face a further 25 per cent cut to their meager wages as the Dublin church attempts to come to terms with a near $15million deficit.
— ‘Until I Was 17, I Really Didn’t Get into the God Thing’
Judge Orders Kansas City Bishop to Stand Trial in Abuse Case
The first criminal case against a sitting U.S. bishop in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis will go forward after a county judge’s decision Thursday that Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, must stand trial on charges of failing to report suspected child abuse.
Has the Catholic Hierarchy Really Committed to Root Out Abusive Priests?
The Kansas City case suggests that the sexual abuse saga of the U.S. Catholic Church is far from over, despite the largely positive review by auditors and years of multimillion-dollar settlements.
Canon Law Expert: Cardinal Bevilacqua Obstructed Justice
A priest who is an expert on canon law testified Thursday that in his opinion, the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua was guilty of obstructing justice when he ordered the shredding of a confidential memo in 1994 that listed 35 archdiocese priests accused of sex abuse.
— Archbishop Shredded List Reporting 35 Active Pedophile Priests
— Abuse Trial Testimony Cries for Reform
— Priest’s Jury Is Told How a Complaint Was Scorned
— Mother of Alleged Abuse Victim Testifies at Trial
— Alleged Abuse Victim Tells of Efforts to Remove Priest
— Nun tells Philadelphia Court She Was Fired for Noting Priest’s Child-Porn
Pittsburgh Priests to Bishop: Listen To Laity on Contraception
Several priests of the Pittsburgh diocese have met with Bishop David Zubik … telling him his stance on the (contraceptive) issue was alienating women and creating “a lot of anger” among laypeople.
MA Catholics Celebrate Reopening of Church while Cleveland Parishioners Wait
While Rome in recent months has reversed the closings of dozens of Catholic churches in the dioceses of Cleveland, Allentown, Pa., and Springfield, Mass., only one so far has been fully resurrected. Last week, on Palm Sunday, more than 750 people packed St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church in Adams, Mass., for a standing-room-only Mass — the first Mass in the 110-year-old sanctuary since Bishop Timothy McDonnell closed it more than three years ago.
Closed Parishes Hold Strategy Meeting
Peter Borre of Boston’s Council of Parishes met with representatives of 12 of the 13 Northeast Ohio churches which the Vatican recently ordered to re-open. Borre has led a similar fight in Boston for more than seven years.
Judge Won’t Unseal Documents in Milwaukee Archdiocesan Bankruptcy Case
The testimony of two retired Catholic bishops, who handled the Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s child sex-abuse cases for more than two decades, will remain under court seal, at least for now, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley ruled Thursday. In what some are calling an unprecedented decision, Kelley rejected a move by victims’ attorneys to make public the depositions of Archbishop Rembert Weakland, Bishop Richard Sklba and a defrocked pedophile priest, saying they contain “scandalous material” and could potentially identify victims who’ve sought anonymity in the case.
Obedience to Law or to Scripture?
Now (Cardinal) Schönborn’s former professor, the pope, chastised the Austrians (not directly, of course) in the middle of Holy Thursday. Benedict also sent a letter to Schönborn. Do you think it might be about women?
Lawyer Seeks Inquiry over Abuse by Clergy
The Australian public would be horrified at the extent of sexual abuse likely to be revealed by an inquiry into the Catholic clergy, says a lawyer who is mounting a case for compensation against the church. Vivian Waller, who represents 45 victims who are suing the church, has joined the call for an inquiry following a police report linking dozens of suicides to sexual abuse by clergymen.
— Church’s Suicide Victims
— Victorian Government Announces Church Abuse Inquiry
— Victim Groups Call on Church to Lay Bare its Archives on Child Sex Abuse
Fr. McAuliffe, Vegas Priest, Arrives At Texas Federal Prison for Stealing $650,000
A Roman Catholic priest from Las Vegas surrendered Friday at a federal prison in Texas to serve his sentence for siphoning $650,000 from his northwest Las Vegas parish to support a video poker and casino gambling habit.
Former Priest Won’t Get Additional Jail Time for Stealing from Paralyzed Man
A judge sentenced 68-year-old Cyprian Meier to 18 months in prison for exploiting a vulnerable adult.
Abuse Scandal’s Total Cost: $2.49 Billion Since 2004
The clerical abuse scandal cost American dioceses $108,679,706 in 2011, according to a report released on April 10 by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Only a little over a half was allotted to settlements while over one-third went to the lawyers.
Other Happenings around the World
Book on Vatican Finances Honored by Investigative Journalists
Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, by Jason Berry has been honored for outstanding investigative work in the book category for 2011 by the Investigative Reporters and Editors Inc.
For The Jesuits, a Long Road to Accountability
Even after the clergy abuse scandal exploded a decade ago, the Catholic order failed repeatedly to rein in offending priests. A current Boston College trustee was one who could have, should have done much more — and he admits it. The failed oversight … – detailed in voluminous records from civil lawsuits released last year, but not brought to public attention until now – sheds rare light on how ineffectually the world’s largest Catholic religious order dealt with sexual abuse complaints even after the clergy abuse scandal rocked the church in 2002.
Most of The Time, but Not Every Time, the Courts Get It Right
After more than 200 years, our impartial courts have “gotten it right” a vast majority of the time. It’s not perfect, but it’s the best in the world.
Pope Seeks Prayers, Strength Ahead of Anniversary
Pope Benedict XVI prayed Sunday for the strength to carry on as he marks two major milestones this week: his 85th birthday and the seventh anniversary of his election to the papacy. The comments, while innocuous, were the clearest sign yet that Benedict has no intention of resigning anytime soon despite his age and increasing frailty. The Pope continues to deal with many critical issues plaguing the Catholic Church.
Growing Catholic Resistance to Bishops’ Crusades
While the Catholic bishops are ramping up their political campaign to portray marriage equality and requirements that insurance coverage include contraception (among other topics) as dire threats to religious liberty, some priests and parishes are beginning to resist publicly.
700 Sexual Abuse Claims Against Catholic Priests in 2011: Report
About 700 people launched new claims of sexual abuse against Catholic clergy in the United States last year, including 21 who are still minors, according to a new report released by US bishops. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops said in the report released Tuesday that of the 683 adults who reported allegations for the first time, “most allegations reported today are of incidents from previous decades.”
Radical Disobedience: Why Catholics Won’t Heed Pontiff’s Call for Radical Obedience
The pope has a problem in the form of a growing trend wherein Catholics under protest stick around, refusing to let the hierarchy take their church from them. Often these Catholics are active on parish pastoral councils and in liturgical and social justice ministries.
Study Finds New Religious Vocations Are Younger, More Educated
A recent study of men and women who professed perpetual vows in 2011 shows that new members of religious orders are younger and more educated than those in the past.