Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 23, 2012
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.
Leadership Conference of Women Religious Leader Sr. Pat Farrell
Responds to Reporter during LCWR 2012 Assembly in St. Louis, Aug. 7-10
“At one point during a press conference at LCWR 2012 Assembly, one particularly aggressive journalist insisted that Sr. Pat Farrell, then LCWR’s president, tell everyone what exactly LCWR wants.
“‘I’m hearing a lot of vague language about dialogue,’ he barked at her. ‘But what do you want to walk away with?’
“She paused for a moment, then responded quietly: ‘What we want is to finally, at some end stage of the process, be recognized and understood as equals in the church, that our form of religious life can be and is respected and affirmed. And really, we want to get to the point where there is an environment — not just for us, but for the entire Catholic Church — for the ability to openly and honestly search for truth together, to talk about issues that are very complicated. There is not that climate right now. So it might sound like just asking for dialogue is vague, but I think ultimately, one of our deepest goals is to create that kind of climate in the church — not just for ourselves, but for the Catholic church throughout the world.’
“Given their bold history in our country, if anyone has a prayer of getting this done, it would be the sisters.”
This story is taken from Jamie Manson’s Grace on the Margins column in National Catholic Reporter. Ms. Manson will speak Sept. 15 during VOTF’s 10th Year Conference, which runs Sept. 14-15 in Boston. Click here for information and to register.
Vatican Crackdown: American Nuns Reject Takeover But Seek Dialogue On Difference
American nuns facing a Vatican takeover of their leadership organization on Friday (Aug. 10) rejected Rome’s plans to recast the group in a more conservative mold, but declined — for now — to respond with an ultimatum that could have created an unprecedented schism between the sisters and the hierarchy. Instead, the nuns said they wanted to pursue a negotiated solution to the showdown that has galvanized American Catholics in recent months and prompted an outpouring of support for the sisters that left the Vatican with a black eye.
— LCWR Assembly 2012 Wrap-up (Includes connections to LCWR press release, presidential address, and award acceptance speech at assembly conclusion.)
— LCWR Will Continue Dialogue, But Not Compromise Mission
— LCWR Response Offers New Vision for Being Church
— Nuns Struggle with Rome over The Future of The Church
— Protesters in St. Louis Support U.S. Nuns Rebuked by Vatican
— Outside LCWR Meeting, Victims Allege Abuse by Sisters
— LCWR Meets Archbishop, Says Way of Life Must Not Be Compromised
US Bishops Quietly Adopt Protocols for Theological Investigations
The U.S. bishops’ committee tasked with enforcing church doctrine quietly adopted new procedures for investigating theologians a year ago, apparently unbeknownst to the theologians whose teachings and writings would be subject to the protocols. The procedures seem to indicate that the committee is eschewing dialogue with theologians when concerns over their adherence to church doctrine are reported, instead preferring a private in-house review process.
Change in Age for New Vocations Nothing to Fear
One of Rome’s great concerns about U.S. religious orders of women, it seems, is the lack of young early adult vocations in the United States today. Why U.S. women’s orders, in the face of large-scale decline in numbers of both religious and priests in Europe as well, should merit such special attention on this subject, I’m not sure. I do think, however, that the subject in general needs to be rethought and perhaps reframed. Even by religious orders themselves.
The Church’s Deep Pockets; The Butler Did It; And Myths About Atheism
Most people believe the real power in Catholicism resides with the hierarchy, and in terms of both theology and church law, that’s basically right. For instance, canon law says the pope wields “supreme, full, immediate and universal” authority, and it’s tough to get more sweeping than that. One wonders, however, if an accountant would reach the same conclusion. When it comes to the financial dimension of Catholic life, there are certainly some deep pockets out there.
U.S. Judge: Vatican Not Priests’ Employer
The Vatican won a major victory Aug. 20 in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests. The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.
The Catholic Church in America: Earthly Concerns
The Catholic Church is as big as any company in America. Bankruptcy cases have shed some light on its finances and their mismanagement.
Of all the organizations that serve America’s poor, few do more good work than the Catholic Church: its schools and hospitals provide a lifeline for millions. Yet even taking these virtues into account, the finances of the Catholic church in America are an unholy mess. The sins involved in its book-keeping are not as vivid or grotesque as those on display in the various sexual-abuse cases that have cost the American church more than $3 billion so far; but the financial mismanagement and questionable business practices would have seen widespread resignations at the top of any other public institution.
Following are articles commenting on the above Economist article:
— The Catholic Church’s Finances
— Catholic Finances, Continued
— Spot the Difference
— AIB Says No Credit Risk in US Catholic Church
— The Economist Digs Into the American Catholic Church’s Finances, Finds That Cardinal Dolan Is Manhattan’s Largest Landowner
LCWR President to Sisters: Be ‘Fearless’ on Vatican Mandate
Hours before the U.S. Catholic sisters meeting was expected to decide how to respond to the Vatican’s rebuke of their leadership organization, the president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious told them to be “truthful, but gentle and absolutely fearless.” Taking the stage to a standing ovation, Farrell said that “some larger movement in the church … has landed on LCWR.” A key question facing LCWR, she said, is, “What would a prophetic response to the doctrinal assessment look like?” “I think it would be humble, but not submissive,” she continued. “Rooted in a solid sense of ourselves, but not self-righteous; truthful, but gentle and absolutely fearless.”
Nuns Group: We Are Not Leaving The Church
A leader of the group of Catholic nuns who are facing a crackdown from the Vatican said Thursday (Aug. 16) that her members have no plans or desire to leave the church, or reconstitute their group beyond Vatican control. Sister Mary Hughes, who ended a three-year term as president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on Aug. 11, said there is little to no support to withdraw the LCWR from the church, where it could avoid a Vatican-order makeover.
Where the Congregation May Be Right about LCWR
As the cause of women’s rights gained support among American Catholic sisters in the 1970s, a divisive question arose: Was it possible to be a nun and a feminist? Although the issue has remained mostly internal and often unspoken, it has continued to trouble and motivate those sisters who felt enlivened by feminist thought but constrained by a system of male dominance. The dilemma is reflected in the current demands for conformity by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith on the Leadership Conference for Women Religious. At the center of that crackdown is the accusation that “radical feminism” has led the LCWR astray.
A Nun’s View Inside The Catholic Church
Sister Patricia Crowley doesn’t look like a radical feminist, but she might be, depending on how you define radical. She also doesn’t look much like a nun — no habit, no robe — but she’s actually the Prioress at St. Scholastica Monastery. Sister Patricia is a member of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, a canonical organization that is part of the Catholic Church.
Another Letter to A Woman Religious
Betty, I didn’t think I’d need to write. By now, you’re probably all LCWR-ed out. The hotel was crawling with media those four days. They all missed the real story…
U.S. Catholics’ Satisfaction with Bishops Is Up
U.S. Catholics’ satisfaction with bishops leaped from 51 to 70 percent in the last decade, according to the Pew Forum. That’s impressive, though it is hard to imagine a lower point than 2002, when Catholics saw a flood of news on clerical sexual abuse of minors. To copy Queen Elizabeth’s description of 1992, when one of her sons divorced and Windsor Castle erupted in flames, 2002 was the church’s Annus Horribilis.
Plaintiff in Priest Sex-Abuse Trial Wants $1.1 Million
A New London woman who says she was molested as a 12-year-old by a now-deceased priest is seeking at least $1.1 million in damages from the Norwich Diocese. Identified as Jane Doe in court document, the woman alleges she was abused by Father Thomas Shea in 1976 when he was pastor at St. Joseph’s Church in New London. She is claiming that diocese officials, including former Bishop Daniel Reilly, knew Shea had a history of previous abuse allegations and moved him from parish to parish. Shea is suspected of abusing as many as 15 girls in 11 different parishes from 1953 through the 1970’s. He died in 2006.
SNAP Loses Appeal to Block Release of Internal Documents
Following denial Tuesday of an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests will have to decide whether to comply with a local judge’s order to grant access to more than 23 years of internal documents to attorneys representing accused priests. The denial, issued by the court Tuesday afternoon, is the latest in a months-long saga of SNAP, the leading advocacy group for clergy sex abuse victims, to stop access to the documents.
Lawyers for Bishop, KC, Diocese Want Some Evidence Kept Out of Trial
Attorneys for Bishop Robert Finn and diocese make the argument in a pre-trial motion.
Evidence that led to a Catholic priest’s child pornography conviction should not be allowed in the trial of the diocese and the bishop who supervised him, defense attorneys argue in a pre-trial motion. Bishop Robert Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph are scheduled for a trial starting Sept. 24 in Jackson County on misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspected child abuse by the Rev. Shawn Ratigan.
— KC Catholic Ombudsman Received 79 Allegations of Abuse, Suspicious Behavior in First Year
N.J. Man Publishes Book on Abuse by Priests in the Diocese of Trenton
It took Bruce Novozinsky more than seven years and 14,000 pages of letters, memos, manuscripts and interviews to produce his book on the decades of sexual abuse allegedly covered up by the powers that be in the Roman Catholic Church. “Purple Reign: Sexual Abuse and Abuse of Power in the Diocese of Trenton,” written with co-author Linda Vele Alexander, hit stores and online in June and recently became the sixth-most purchased e-book about Christianity on Amazon.com.
Plea Deal Set after Theft at Archdiocese
A former clerk charged with embezzling more than $1 million from the Archdiocese of New York plans to plead guilty and agree to more than four years behind bars, her lawyer said on Thursday. The former clerk, Anita Collins, 67, was in court briefly as prosecutors said they were offering her a plea that would carry four and a half to nine years in prison. Ms. Collins said nothing, but her lawyer, Howard D. Simmons, later said she planned to take the offer.
Church in Wellsville (Ohio) Receives Vatican Help
Parishioners who appealed the closing of Immaculate Conception Church in Wellsville by the Youngstown Roman Catholic Diocese said Thursday they received word from the Vatican upholding their challenge. They say the parish had 150 families, sound finances and its one Sunday Mass was crowded.
Police Quick to Act on Boy’s Claims in Priest Abuse Case
The mother of the 12-year-old Salem boy who allegedly was violated by his Catholic priest taught her children what to do if they ever were touched inappropriately. That’s exactly what court documents say that the boy did when he spent the night on an air mattress at Woodburn priest Angel Perez’s house Sunday night and awoke to the 46-year-old man touching his genitals and taking pictures with his cell phone.
— Oregon Priest Charged with Sexual Abuse of Minor
— Sex Abuse Allegation Stuns Woodburn Priest’s Congregation
— Confessions of an Ex-Priest: How Catholic Seminary Forms Victims and Forces False Forgiveness
Catholic Official to Apologize Publicly to Woman Sexually Abused as Child by Reedsport Priest
A high-ranking official with the Archdiocese of Portland will formally apologize to an Oregon woman later this month for the sexual abuse she endured as a child in the 1980s at the hands of a Roman Catholic priest. Monsignor Dennis O’Donovan, the vicar general of the archdiocese, will apologize from the pulpit of St. John the Apostle Parish in Reedsport on Aug. 26, according to Portland lawyer Gilion C. Dumas, who represented the victim in a lawsuit against the diocese and the Rev. Edward Alstock.
Judge Dismisses Most Serious Charges against Priest in Abuse Case
A municipal judge stunned Philadelphia prosecutors today when she threw out the most serious charges against a former Roman Catholic pastor accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old Philadelphia altar boy in 1997 … McCormick’s lawyer, William J. Brennan, argued that the allegations didn’t justify felony sexual assault and involuntary deviate sexual intercourse charges.
— Charges Against Priest Thrown Out after Dispute over ‘Penetration’
Imprisoned Philly Priest Appeals for Bail in Higher Court
Lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn on Wednesday asked an appeals court to do what his trial judge would not: free the former Archdiocese of Philadelphia official on bail while he fights his child-endangerment conviction. In a motion filed in Superior Court, the lawyers renewed their claims that the 61-year-old cleric poses no public danger or flight risk, has deep local roots, and a better-than-average chance to win his appeal.
Wisconsin Priests Identified as “Guilty of Sexual Misconduct with A Minor” in Landmark Philadelphia Clergy Sex Abuse Case
The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that two religious order priests from Wisconsin appear on a list compiled by Monsignor William Lynn, the former secretary for clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, as having been identified as “guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor”. Priests belong to Milwaukee area religious order, the Franciscan Friars of the Assumption BVM Province. Victims call on Archbishop Listecki to publically identify clergy from religious orders who have sexually assaulted children.
Australian Diocese Readies $15 Million Abuse Payout
The Australian Diocese of Maitland-Newscastle is nearing agreement with sex-abuse victims for a blanket settlement that would provide $15 million in compensation for about 100 victims.
Bishops Pastoral Letter re Inquiry into The Handling of Child Abuse
The Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, announced today (Aug. 21, 2012) that the leaders of the Catholic Church in Victoria are sending a Pastoral letter to all parishes and churches this weekend on the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organizations. The Archbishop said that the Pastoral Letter acknowledges the suffering and trauma endured by children who have been in the Church’s care, and the effect on their families.
Secret Tapes Reveal Church Reluctance to Report Abuser
A Secret police bugging operation caught a senior Catholic figure on tape saying it was not up to him to report a paedophile priest and encouraging a victim not to go to the authorities for fear of bad publicity. Abuse victim Peter Murphy has told the Herald that police wired him up to record a meeting between the church leader and victims as part of a 1994 investigation into the paedophile priest Father Peter Chalk in Melbourne.
— Former Judge to Advise Church Sex Abuse Inquiry
— Senior Catholic Asked to Stand Aside
Fresh Child-Sex Allegations Against Disgraced Bishop
A new allegation of child sexual abuse has been made against the former Bishop of Bruges Roger Vangheluwe.
A new allegation of child sexual abuse has been made against the former Bishop of Bruges Roger Vangheluwe. Vangheluwe resigned from his post as Head of the West Flemish Diocese in April 2010 after it emerged that he had sexually abused his then under-age nephew in the 1970’s and 1980’s. Another family member has also made child sex allegations against him.
— Roger Vangheluwe, Child-Abusing Former Belgian Bishop, Reveals All In Shocking Interview(This story, first published in 04/15/11, is cited here as background)
Ireland Losing Its Faith at an Alarming Rate Suggests New Poll
Country experiences biggest global drop-off in faith after series of crises in the Catholic Church.
Religious faith in Ireland is in crisis according to a new worldwide survey just published. The Red C poll, re-printed in the Irish Independent, shows that the Irish are abandoning religion faster than any other country in the world. A series of crises within the Catholic Church in Ireland in that time has had a devastating effect on religious faith.
OTHER HAPPENINGS AROUND THE WORLD:
Parishioner Leads Charge to Break Ground for Women in Church
Lynne Mapes-Riordan, of Evanston, hopes women will one day serve as Roman Catholic deacons. After 800 years, she could be one of the first. Growing up, she never gave ordination a second thought. But then she learned that, unlike the church’s verdict barring female priests, the question of female deacons has never been resolved.
Devon Case Shows How Religious Orders Evade Scrutiny in Priest Abuse Cases
At first glance, the photo seems heartwarming: a man in his 60s, wearing a Santa suit and a grin as he wraps his arms around a boy. In a different light, the image is unsettling. The man in costume is the Rev. Ted Podson, a former teacher at Devon Prep, an all-boys school on the Main Line. Podson left the school in 1993 after allegedly sexually assaulting a boy. He was not publicly identified, charged, or barred from ministry. Instead, Podson resurfaced as a parish pastor in Texas. In 2002, as the clergy sex-abuse scandal erupted, he again pulled up stakes, moving halfway around the world.
Statistically Speaking: Vatican Numbers Hint at Fading Faith Practice
Vatican City (CNS) — The percentage of Catholics practicing their faith is declining almost everywhere around the globe. Almost all bishops report it, but it’s difficult to prove statistically. Each year, the Vatican’s own statisticians compile mountains of data about the number of Catholics.
Columnist Gives Viewpoint of Catholic Church’s Status
Guest columnist William Simon Jr. shares his assessment of the state of the Church.
There is no getting around it: The Catholic Church confronts momentous challenges today, perhaps greater than at any time since the Reformation. But despite all this, the proportion of Catholics in the U.S. population has remained steady at around 25 percent for decades, and it is still the largest membership of any religion in America. Focusing only on the bad news gives a skewed picture of the Church today, and overlooks emerging trends which should be a source of real encouragement, trends that point to a renewed spiritual vitality in the Church.
Church Strategies for the 21st Century
Church membership across America and across all denominations is in decline. Yet some churches report burgeoning numbers. The percentage of people claiming to be atheists or, at the very least, nonreligious is on the rise. Yet the number of those claiming a high degree of spirituality, too, is on the rise. Contradictory though they seem, these claims all are supported by numerous research and polling numbers gathered from disparate sources since beginning of the 21st Century. But what does it all mean?
I Have Never Seen True Evidence of God. And Yet…
When I look back on my life, I’m astonished. I’ve ridden elephants in India and camels in Egypt. I’ve seen Paris from near the top of the Eiffel Tower. I once woke up in Athens on New Year’s Day. I’ve camped out near Montreal. But I’ve never heard an actual voice I believed was God’s. And yet …
SADLY ABUSERS ARE EVERYWHERE
Victim of Sexual Violence Tells Her Heartbreaking Story
New book describes a life of enduring father’s abuse, and the hope of drawing attention to social ill.
‘When light hits a teardrop, it twinkles’, wrote Eun Su-yeon (a pseudonym) in an essay released on Aug. 15. It is the first writing by a victim of sexual violence by relatives published in Korea. The writer was sexually abused for 9 years from when she was in 5th grade of elementary school. The perpetrator was her own father, who was a pastor. When she was in 6th grade, she had to have an abortion.