Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 22, 2013
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
U.S. Nuns Strike Positive Note on Vatican Investigation
U.S. Catholic nuns — accused by Rome of “radical feminism” for advocating social justice at the expense of issues such as abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia — responded to a Vatican knuckle rapping with a brief, conciliatory statement on Monday (Aug. 19). After its four-day annual assembly, the board of the LCWR emphasized the positive, and remained tight-lipped about negotiations to resolve the investigation.
— LCWR Assembly: Little Evidence of Willingness to Comply with Reforms
‘Whistleblower’ Priest Urges Full Transparency for Church Leaders
Fr. James Connell, a retired Milwaukee priest who helped found a national network of clergy and sisters committed to reporting instances of sexual abuse within the Church, has some advice for Catholic leaders dealing with the pedophilia scandal: Come clean.
Ousted Polish Priest Takes His Case to Rome
When a Polish priest was barred from talking to the media by his archbishop and forced out of his parish in July, the news made headlines and touched off bitter recriminations. A month later, Fr. Wojciech Lemanski awaits an appeal ruling from the Vatican in a case that has highlighted tensions in Europe’s most disciplined and inscrutable Catholic establishment.
Vatican Religious Prefect: Gender Inequality Exists in the Church
Gender inequality exists in the Catholic Church because men and women forget they cannot be “fully human” without one another. “Man without woman is not fully human,” Cardinal João Braz de Aviz said. “And woman without man is not fully human either. Each without the other is a piece of humanity, incomplete … History became a primarily masculine enterprise. For many reasons — political, anthropological — this mode also dominated religion.”
Court Date Set for Appeal of Convicted Priest’s Conviction
Pennsylvania’s Superior Court has set Sept. 17 for oral arguments on the appeal by Msgr. William J. Lynn, convicted last year of child endangerment for his role supervising Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing children.
Archbishop Chaput’s Right-Wing Funk
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has voiced the anxiety many right-wing Catholics must be feeling at the extraordinary popularity Pope Francis has been enjoying. He said members of the right wing of the Catholic Church “generally have not been really happy about his election.”
— Right Wing ‘Generally Not Happy’ with Francis, Chaput Says
Schuller Wraps Up U.S. Tour: ‘We All Must Speak Out’
Fr. Helmut Schüller’s “Catholic Tipping Point” tour of the United States ended where it began: in New York. He gave an address Aug. 7 in Manhasset, and on Aug. 8, he visited St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Manhattan, where he delivered thousands of red ribbons and signatures he collected in 15 cities across the nation.
— Thoughts on Fr. Schuller’s Tour
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Why Would a Millennial Become a Priest or a Nun?
It’s the question that haunts everyone starting a career: What’s my calling? Some refer to it as a vocation; others might call it a life purpose … There are a handful of young people across the country who have interpreted “calling” in perhaps the most literal way possible: By devoting their lives to the Church. These Millennials defy clichés, taking lifelong vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience to God — and to the Catholic Church, which, especially in their lifetimes, has been regularly plagued by scandal.
Pope Francis on the Future of the Church
Pope Francis’ Ecclesiology Rooted in the Emmaus Story
During his July 22-29 visit to Brazil, Pope Francis’ homilies and addresses had a simplicity and directness that inspired the faithful with confidence in God’s love, hope for reform and love of neighbor, especially the poor. But two of his speeches went beyond pastoral exhortations to lay out his vision and agenda for the Church.
Pope Francis and the Three Temptations of the Church
The Church faces three temptations, according to Pope Francis: the temptation to turn the Gospel message into an ideology; the temptation to run the Church like a business; and the temptation of clericalism. In an address July 28 to the episcopal council Latin American bishops, Pope Francis laid out these temptations and how the Church should respond to them.
Schismatic African Priests Want a Pope to Call Their Own
Schismatic Roman Catholic priests, who left the Church to claim their right to marry, are now asking for an “African pope” to lead them. The priests say they regret their former Church is “allergic” to change. They believe priestly celibacy is neither rooted in the teachings of Jesus nor in the work of his apostles, who were married. And they insist celibacy does not work in an African context.
Catholic priests at war: Rev Fr, “You’re corrupt.” Bishop, “No, I am not. That’s rude.”
Catholic priests in the Aba Diocese (Nigeria) of the Church are locked in a renewed battle that can be described as a holy war, with a Rev. Fr and his Bishop trading allegations of corruption. The war, which has been raging for some years now, has led to the suspension of some priests from the diocese and the dragging of the bishop into police headquarters.
Looking Toward the ‘Francis Revolution’ Still to Come
Amid the clamor over Pope Francis’ comments on gays, women, the Vatican bank and other juicy topics during a July 28 in-flight news conference, one stray but revealing remark largely slipped through the cracks. “It’s true,” the pope said, “that I haven’t done very much.” (Part 1 of this article is “A revolution underway with Pope Francis“)
Pope Francis Is Unsettling—and Dividing—the Catholic Right
For more than three decades, the Vatican of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI operated on a version of the conservative maxim, “No enemies to the right.” But in a few short months, Pope Francis has upended that dynamic, alienating many on the Catholic right by refusing to play favorites and ignoring their preferred agenda items even as he stressed the kind of social justice issues that are near and dear to progressives.
Pope Francis as CEO
By any standard, Pope Francis’ Brazil trip was a great success. Enthusiastic crowds clogged the routes of the papal motorcade and reportedly more than a million people were present for the pope’s final Mass on Copacabana beach. The media no less than Catholic pilgrims seemed enchanted by the new pontiff and his appeals for dialogue, conciliation and social justice.
Sartain Offers Few Details, Some Sisters Say
In his first address to representatives of U.S. Catholic sisters since his appointment in April 2012, the Archbishop Peter Sartain, tasked by the Vatican to oversee LCWR, reportedly had little to offer regarding the reason for Vatican concern or how the process goes forward. Several sisters said they felt frustration at the lack of detail given by the prelate nearly 19 months into his mandate.
Vatican Overseer Preaches to LCWR on Mary’s Submission to GodAs U.S. Catholic sisters met to discern their relationship with the Church’s bishops, the archbishop given expansive oversight of them by the Vatican told their annual assembly the Virgin Mary teaches the faithful to hand themselves over “completely to the will of God.”
Vatican’s Overseer Tells LCWR He’s a ‘Brother and a Friend’
The archbishop given expansive oversight by the Vatican of U.S. Catholic sisters told their annual assembly he seeks to be their “brother and friend.”
Vatican Religious Prefect: LCWR Must Address Doctrinal Issues
If U.S. Catholic sisters want to dialogue with the Vatican over a mandate requiring them to place themselves under the authority of a U.S. archbishop, they must understand that the “central point” of dialogue is upholding Church doctrine, a key Vatican cardinal has said.
Suspended Monsignor Linked to Suspect Group
The Vatican accountant who was recently suspended for allegedly trying to smuggle $26 million had been part of a group known as “The Flock,” which has supposed Mafia connections. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is currently under arrest in Italy for an alleged plan to transfer 20 million Euro from Switzerland to Italy aboard an Italian government airplane.
Standard-Bearers: Applying ‘Best Practices’ to Catholic Parishes and Non-Profits
Too often the Catholic Church learns the value of accountability and transparency the hard way … Clearly, change is in the air. Once the province of a handful of Church outliers, the notion of operating by the kinds of “best practices” that define top businesses in the United States is gaining traction among a growing universe of dioceses, parishes and Catholic charities.
Pope Francis Beefs Up Supervision of Vatican Bank
Pope Francis has strengthened monitoring of the Vatican bank to prevent money laundering or the financing of terrorism as part of his campaign to clean it up after decades of scandal. Issuing a “Motu Proprio,” a decree at his own initiative, Francis said the Vatican’s internal watchdog, the Financial Information Authority (FIA), would have increased powers of supervision over the bank and other Holy See departments involved in financial activities.
— Pope Francis Tightens Vatican Finance Law to Prevent Corruption
— Pope Expands Role, Reach of Vatican Financial Intelligence Authority
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
Excommunicated for ‘Grave Scandal’ of Ordaining Women
Pope John Paul II’s definitive formulation on the ordination of women is the Church has spoken and said no. Pope Francis has said the door is closed. This is the same old same old theology—the Virgin Mary is more important than anyone else in the story, but living women cannot make ecclesial decisions, exercise sacramental ministry, or make ethical choices. Apparently, the question of women’s ordination is so yesterday in the Vatican Francis doesn’t think it needs to be revisited.”
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Judge: Sisters Need to Investigate Abuse Allegations
Inclusion of two Catholic sisters in a July release of clergy sex abuse documents in the Los Angeles archdiocese highlights a need for sisters’ orders to investigate abuse allegations. “I think what we have learned in the last 10 to 12 years is that this is not a kind of misconduct that is peculiar to Roman Catholic priests,” Judge Michael Merz said.
Bill to Allow Sex Abuse Victims More Time to Sue Fails to Advance
A California bill that would give some sex abuse victims more time to file lawsuits, which has drawn fierce opposition from the Catholic Church, has failed to get enough support to make it out of a key legislative committee. The bill, which needed nine votes to leave the lower house’s appropriations committee and go to the Assembly floor, mustered only six.
Australian Sex Abuse Inquiry Concludes Public Hearings
After eight weeks of intense, graphic and sometimes sad testimony, public hearings have ended for the New South Wales special commission of inquiry into clerical abuse in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese, north of Sydney. Forty witnesses gave testimony in open court before, and many others were heard in camera in closed proceedings.
A Diocese’s Darkest Day
In the course of a single day one of a California diocese’s most popular priests would be accused of molesting a young girl and would be the subject of a criminal investigation, and the Catholic Church, long criticized for protecting abusers, would be publicly tested about its declaration of “zero tolerance” for such crimes.
The California Catholic Bishops Fight Access to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims
At the end of July, Los Angeles Roman Catholic Archbishop Jose Gomez asked the editor of California Catholic to publish his letter encouraging parishioners to lobby legislators to vote against statute-of-limitations (SOL) reform for child-sex- abuse victims. The primary target of the Catholic bishops, and bishops nationwide, is the statute-of-limitations window, which would open a one-year period during which those victims of clergy child sex abuse whose statutes of limitations had expired (which is the vast majority) could still file lawsuits against their abusers and those who covered up the abuse.
Former Priest Gets 5-Year Sentence for Luring Kids
A former Berlin priest, who court officials said used his position “as a man of God” to attempt to lure young boys into having sex, has been sentenced to five years in prison followed by 20 years probation, including a decade as a registered sex offender.
Church Pays $1.35 Million Suit Alleging Newark Archbishop Protected Abuser in Illinois
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Peoria will pay $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit that contends Newark Archbishop John J. Myers, Peoria’s former bishop, failed to take action against a sexually abusive priest in the mid-1990s, freeing him to molest again.
— Parents of Child Abuse Victim Blame Newark Archbishop Myers
Guest View: Diocese Still Does Little to Combat Abuse
Five years ago this month, a Belleville jury made a stunning decision. They awarded $5 million to Jim Wisniewski who was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest for years. And exactly 20 years ago, Belleville’s Catholic Diocese made national headlines as the first of 17 credibly accused child- molesting clerics was removed from ministry. How have Belleville Catholic officials changed, if at all, in the years since these disturbing developments?
Priest Who Sexually Assaulted Boy Deported
A Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of sexually assaulting an 8-year-old west suburban Chicago boy has been deported to his native Bolivia.
New Jersey Church Goers Voice Skepticism about Their Archbishop
One Churchgoer on Sunday said he has a hard time buying the Newark archbishop’s explanation after a settlement was announced between an alleged sex-abuse victim and the Illinois diocese the archbishop once led. Others said he has made mistakes, with a few echoing the suggestion of some state lawmakers that he step down. Only a few of the more than dozen parishioners interviewed praised Archbishop John J. Myers’ leadership and his handling of three priests accused of molesting children.
— Archbishop Myers Fires Back in Letter to the Faithful
— Critics of Child Protection Record ‘Simply Evil’
Mother of alleged abuse victim calls for Archbishop Myers to be jailed
The mother of a boy allegedly abused by a priest in the Diocese of Peoria has called for Newark Archbishop John J. Myers to be jailed, saying he could have prevented the molestation because he knew of a previous allegation when he served as bishop there.
Plantiff Drops Abuse Case Against Vatican
A former Oregon man who said he was sexually abused by a pedophile priest nearly 50 years ago has withdrawn his appeal of a ruling that said the Vatican did not employ the priest and is not liable for damages.
Ex-Priest Seeks $450,000 from Milwaukee Archdiocese
The list of creditors for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee includes hundreds of child sexual abuse victims, a bank, pension funds, others typical in bankruptcy cases and one less usual: a priest removed from the priesthood amid allegations of abuse. Marvin Knighton was charged with child sexual abuse in 2002 but acquitted by a jury the next year. The Church still removed him from the priesthood, however, saying its investigation found two allegations against him had merit.
Records Show Judge in Milwaukee Archdiocese Case Has Cemetery Ties
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee’s creditors want the federal judge in the Church’s bankruptcy case to set aside a key ruling and recuse himself over a potential conflict of interest — the fact he has several relatives buried in Catholic cemeteries.
— Judge Orders Milwaukee Diocese to Release Cemetery Documents
— Decision on Milwaukee Diocese’s Cemetery Funds Could Have Range of Implications
Clergy Abuse: A Cry for Help
The full extent of the horror inflicted on Ballarat children by Catholic priests Gerald Ridsdale and Ronald Claffy, and Christian Brothers Robert Best, Edward Dowlan, Stephen Farrell and Gerald Fitzgerald may never be known.
More Complaints Against Former Vic Priest
More victims have come forward with complaints against a former Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing boys in Victoria in the 1970s and 80s. Former Rupertswood College principal Frank Gerard Klep, 69, of Burwood, has appeared in the Melbourne Magistrates Court in relation to more than 30 charges of sexual abuse against 11 victims.
Church’s Insurance Company ‘Dictated Policy’ on Sex Abuse
The Catholic Church’s insurance company destroyed records relating to sexual abuse and drove the Church’s handling of victims of abuse, according to a former adviser to the Church. Psychologist Dr Robert Grant, who advised the Catholic Church committee dealing with sexual abuse, told ABC’s Lateline on Aug. 8 that Catholic Church Insurance dictated how victims should be treated under the Towards Healing protocol, a claim CCI denies.
Church Criticizes Victorian Inquiry over Claims and Evidence
The Church has said prominent critics of its handling of child sex abuse cases have fabricated evidence and also claims parliamentarians have failed to personally investigate crucial facts.
Former Priest Admits to Molesting But Goes Free
A former Tunbridge Wells catholic priest who preyed on boys in the 1980s has avoided jail after being found guilty of molesting an altar boy at another church. Malcolm McLennan, 69, committed sex crimes against Church boys in 1985 and 1986, when he was priest at St Augustine’s Roman Catholic Church in Crescent Road.
More Claims of Abuse at Former Catholic Boarding School
A nurse who claims he was assaulted at a Catholic boarding school has rejected the Church’s apology to victims of physical and sexual abuse and said he was determined to pursue legal action for compensation.
Survivors of Abuse in Residential Institutions in Northern Ireland Asked to Come Forward
A major inquiry into historical institutional abuse in Northern Ireland is launching an international appeal for victims and survivors to come forward. The inquiry seeks to investigate child abuse which occurred in residential institutions in Northern Ireland from 1922 up to 1995.
Abuse in Scotland: Amid More Revelations, Is the Church Making Any Progress
Peter Stanford can’t be alone in sometimes wishing that the endless flow of revelations of clerical sex abuse would just stop. It’s natural for Catholics to feel dispirited that all the good the Church does is continually being drowned out by revelations of what happened to children many decades ago. Investigative journalists who have turned their attention to Church have, without too much difficulty, been unearthing historic abuse allegations for more than a decade.
Third Australian Monk Implicated in Fort Augustus Sex Abuse Scandal
In a BBC program, Australian monks Fr Aidan Duggan and Fr Chrysostom Alexander were exposed as paedophiles. They inflicted physical and sexual abuse against pupils at Fort Augustus Abbey School and feeder school Carlekemp, East Lothian. Now Fr Fabian Duggan, Fr Aidan’s brother, has been accused of sex abuse.