Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 8, 2013
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Key U.S. Sister: Vatican’s LCWR Order ‘Unacceptable
As LCWR’s 2013 general assembly approaches on Aug. 13-16, and a year and a half after the Vatican ordered the main representative group of U.S. Catholic sisters to place itself under the control of three U.S. bishops, many sister-leaders still consider complete compliance with the order “unacceptable.”
— Vatican-Appointed Overseer to Attend LCWR Gathering
Two Priests, Two Popes, Half a Century Apart
Austrian Fr. Helmut Schüller’s current “Catholic Tipping Point” tour, on which he is calling Catholicism’s leaders and people back to the documents and spirit of renewal of the Second Vatican Council, follows by half a century Swiss theologian Hans Küng’s tour of America, speaking on what was then seemed a revolutionary idea: “The Church and Freedom.”
(See more about Fr. Schuller’s Catholic Tipping Point tour below)
Pope on Homosexuals: ‘Who Am I to Judge’
At the end of his seven-day tour de force in Brazil, the Pope took questions from reporters traveling aboard the papal plane for a full hour and 21 minutes with no filters or limits and nothing off the record. Francis stood for the entire time, answering without notes and never refusing to take a question. The final query was an especially delicate one about charges of homosexual conduct against his recently appointed delegate to reform the Vatican bank, and not only did Francis answer, but he actually thanked reporters for the question.
— Video of Pope’s Press Conference on Plane Returning to Rome after WYD
— On Gay Priests, Pope Francis Asks, ‘Who Am I to Judge?’
— Pope: Door ‘Closed’ on Women Priests
Religious Progressives Predicted to Outnumber Conservatives, Survey Finds
A new study has found that while the number of religious conservatives is still greater than that of progressives, the religious left may have a better chance of maintaining its foothold with Americans over time.
Vatican, Italy Near Deal on Bank Information Exchange
Italy and the Vatican are about to reach a deal allowing for the first time regular exchange of financial information between the two states to combat money laundering.
John Paul II Sainthood: Sexual Abuse Victims in Mexico Receive UN Support to Halt Pope’s Canonization
The UN Convention On The Rights Of The Child has backed a Mexican sexual abuse victims group that formed in response to the impending canonization of late Pope John Paul II. This is the first time a group has formed to challenge the Vatican when it comes to a person’s sainthood. The current Pope Francis will now see a case that gives him a chance to reveal pressing questions about the Catholic Church’s history with child sexual abuse.
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
The Winds of Change Are Blowing through Church in Scotland
The winds of change are blowing through the Church in Scotland as what began as one of the youngest hierarchies in Europe retires and is rebuilt for the next few generations. The appointment of Archbishop-elect Leo Cushley, coming as it does as Pope Francis celebrates World Youth Day in Rio, marks a further changing of the guard.
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
A Theology of Women? What Did Pope Francis Mean?
During his now-famous impromptu interview while returning to Rome from World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro, Pope Francis declared the ordination of women a question settled definitively by Blessed Pope John Paul II, but suggested that women’s gifts might be used in other ways. His suggestion that a deeper “theology of women” might have to be developed in order to discern such service should not be misconstrued to mean the church has no theology of the feminine. The pope’s use of the prepositional phrase – “in the church” – limited the scope of his comments.
Former LCWR Leader: Pope Should Open Door to Women Priests
A key former leader of U.S. Catholic sisters said Pope Francis should reconsider the Catholic church’s ban on women priests, likening the male-only priesthood to “a form of inequality which is a form of idolatry.” Commenting to NCR on Francis’ remarks on the papal plane that the late Pope John Paul II had “definitively … closed the door” to Catholic women priests, Mercy Sr. Theresa Kane said Francis has a chance to “begin a whole new movement and a whole new philosophy.”
Revolutionary Pope Francis Gets Mixed Reviews
The Francis Revolution is under way. Not everyone is pleased. Four months into his papacy, Francis has called on young Catholics in the trenches to take up spiritual arms to shake up a dusty, doctrinaire church that is losing faithful and relevance. He has said women must have a greater role — not as priests, but a place in the church that recognizes that Mary is more important than any of the apostles. And he has turned the Vatican upside down, quite possibly knocking the wind out of a poisonously homophobic culture by merely uttering the word “gay” and saying: so what?
A Revolution Underway with Pope Francis
Revolutions can be hijacked by others, quickly become a smokescreen for hypocrisy, or fizzle out. It’s too early to know which trajectory will apply to the upheaval launched by Pope Francis, in part because at the level of structures and personnel he still hasn’t made many sweeping changes, and in part because the parallels are inexact anyway — Catholicism, after all, is a family of faith, not a political society.
The Pope’s ‘Culture of Solidarity’
It’s not that Pope Francis speaks positively about gay people, as he did earlier about atheists. Nor is it his simple lifestyle, his accessibility to the press, or his personal modesty. The accumulation of surprises coming from the new pope points to something deeper: the possibility of historic change with implications reaching far beyond the Catholic Church.
Pope Francis in Context
The cycle is familiar: A pope says something about a controversial issue that doesn’t fit the media’s semi-informed preconceptions about Roman Catholic teaching, a firestorm of coverage follows, and then better-informed observers are left to pick up the pieces and explain that no, actually, the pope is just reasserting an idea— an openness to Darwinian evolution, the possibility that nonbelievers might go to heaven, pick your controversy— that the church already accepted or believed or allowed to be considered.
Pope Gives Advice on Stemming ‘Exodus’ from Church
Pope Francis, in a stunningly candid assessment of the state of the Catholic Church, said it should look in the mirror and ask why so many people are leaving the faith of their fathers.
Pope Francis Reaches Out to Youths Alienated by Catholic Church’s ‘Sins’
Pope Francis took his mission to re-energize his flock to legions of young Catholics on a Brazilian, reaching out those who have lost faith due to church failings.
Pope Francis Urges Catholic Youth to Shake Up Diocese
Pope Francis has shown the world his rebellious side, urging young Catholics to shake up the church and make a “mess” in their dioceses by going out into the streets to spread the faith. It’s a message he put into practice by visiting one of Rio’s most violent slums and opening the church’s World Youth Day.
Right Wing ‘Generally Not Happy’ with Francis, Chaput Says
Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput is renowned for speaking plainly. During an interview in Rio de Janeiro July 23, for instance, Chaput bluntly tackled Pope Francis’ early record and his trip to Brazil.
Vatican Issues Warrant for Cooperation with Italy in Probe
The Vatican spokesman has confirmed the Holy See’s unusual move of issuing a warrant for cooperation from Italy in a probe into Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, who led a key Vatican accounting unit until shortly before his arrest by Italian police.
New Financial Data Show Details of Philadelphia Church’s Work in Health Care, Social Services, Education
Following an unprecedented financial report from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Office for Financial Services in early July, 15 archdiocesan entities for the first time have made their financial statements public.
IOR Launches Website
The Institute for Religious Works – otherwise know by the acronym of its Italian title, IOR – has launched its website: www.ior.va. In an interview with Vatican Radio’s Bernd Hagenkord, IOR president Ernst von Freyberg spoke about the objectives of this new website.
Top Catholic Church Dignitaries in Slovenia Resign over Financial Problems
Slovenia’s top Catholic Church dignitaries have resigned in the wake of financial problems involving one of the dioceses in the country. Apostolic Nuncio Juliusz Janusz said Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of the Archbishop of Ljubljana, Anton Stres, and the Archbishop of Maribor, Marjan Turnsek.
— Financial Transparency: Now It’s the Bishops’ Turn
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
U.S. Catholic Group Faults Pope for Opposition to Women Priests
The Women’s Ordination Conference has expressed its disappointment with Pope Francis for keeping the door closed to women’s ordination into the priesthood.
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Institutions Need to Get Out of the Sex Abuse Investigation Business
Your question of the day: You see a child being sexually abused and beaten on a street corner. Whom do you call? Answer: The local university, your bishop, your commander or the leader of the closest nonprofit. Ridiculous? Of course it is. Utterly absurd? Yes. Child endangerment? You bet. So let’s try again with the correct answer: You call law enforcement. Why? Because law enforcement is in the investigation business. Universities, churches, corporate entities and other nonprofits are NOT.
Francis First to Mention Abuse Scandals on Brazil Trip
If proof were ever required of how profoundly Francis has turned around public impressions of the Catholic church, consider this: He’s been in the global spotlight now for five consecutive days in Brazil, and no one brought up the church’s sexual abuse mess until, admittedly indirectly, he did so himself.
Archdiocese creditors Seek Order to Review Whether Judge Has Conflict
Just days after U.S. District Judge Rudolph T. Randa issued a key ruling in favor of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in its bankruptcy, the church’s creditors are seeking an emergency order to determine whether Randa has a conflict of interest that should have been disclosed.
Five Catholic Religious Orders Release Files on L.A. Clergy Abuse
Confidential personnel records from five Catholic religious orders have been turned over to victims of sexual abuse in the first wave of a court-ordered public disclosure expected to shed light on the role the groups, operating independently of the L.A. Archdiocese, played in the region’s clergy molestation scandal.
— Los Angeles Catholic Sex Abuse Files Released, Including Files on Ruben Martinez Who Abused 100 Boys
— Pedophile Priest Rev. Ruben Martinez Molested More than 100 Boys
— Los Angeles Archdiocese Releases More Files on Sexual Abuse
— Priest Abuse: Files from Catholic Orders Reveal New Molestation Details
Priest Pleads Guilty to Child Pornography Charges
Timothy Murray, a non-practicing Catholic priest with the Archdiocese of Detroit, pleaded guilty July 24 in federal court in Detroit to one count of distributing child pornography and one count of possession of child pornography.
Can an Ombudsman Help Save the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese
The local Roman Catholic diocese has attracted worldwide attention for its problems with child abuse, particularly for Bishop Robert Finn who is the first and only U.S. bishop to be convicted of failing to report suspected abuse. Later this month, the Diocese’s Office of Child and Youth Protection will release its second annual public report on abuse in the parishes. The report is one of several big steps the Diocese has taken in recent years to address abuse, but some say these steps aren’t enough.
First Trails Planned in Catholic Sex-Abuse Cases after Insurers’ Challenge Stymies Talks
Attorneys alleging that hundreds of Montanans were sexually abused by Catholic clergy say attempts to mediate a settlement have been stymied by insurance companies’ challenges over which claims they are obligated to cover.
Paterson Diocese Blasts Pastor’s Delay on Accused Priest as ‘Major League Mistake’
The priest who failed to report inappropriate behavior by another priest now accused of molesting a 14-year-old girl was the pastor of the Passaic parish where the alleged incident took place, is raising questions about how effectively the Catholic Church’s “zero tolerance” policy on clergy sex abuse is being followed.
A pastor in Oradell allowed a priest to stay in his rectory who had been accused of sexually molesting a teenage boy. The Archdiocese of Newark said allowing Monsignor Robert Chabak to stay at St. Joseph’s rectory was “an act of compassion.” We ask: “To whom?” Certainly not to the boy who was allegedly molested in the 1970s, and in May, the archdiocese was made aware of a second allegation regarding Chabak.
— Catholic Parishioners Revolt against Sexual Predators But Will It Kill the Church?
Former Priest William Casey Wants Abuse Conviction Overturned
A former Catholic priest convicted of molesting an altar boy is asking the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals to overturn the conviction, claiming the victim waited too long to report the crime.
El Paso Bishop Talks about Response to Sex Abuse Cases
A group that has monitored abuse by Catholic priests is asking newly named El Paso Bishop Mark J. Seitz to disclose what he knows about a Kentucky priest convicted in 2004 of sexually molesting two boys.
Judge Allows Milwaukee Archdiocese to Shield over $50M in Cemetery Funds from Creditors
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee can shield more than $50 million from creditors in sex-abuse settlements because the money is in a cemetery fund protected by the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, according to a federal court ruling.
— Using Cemetery Funds to Pay for Bankruptcy Violates Religious Rights
Church Abuse Inquiry Moved to Tears after Hearing Victim Impact Statement
The public gallery was moved to tears today after two victim impact statements were read to the NSW inquiry into clergy sexual abuse in the Hunter Valley. The public hearings have wrapped up after eight weeks and more than 40 witnesses.
Scottish Catholic Church Abuse Probe Spreads to Australia with Two Monks Implicated
A probe into claims of serious physical and sexual abuse at some of Scotland’s most prestige Catholic boarding schools has moved to Australia with at least two Aussie monks implicated in the scandal. And in an unfortunate twist, some of their victims who left Scotland to get away from the memories recently discovered they unwittingly had relocated to the same Australian cities as their former tormentors.
Priest Denies Withholding Abuse Claims from Police at NSW Hunter Valley Abuse Inquiry
A New South Wales Hunter Valley Catholic priest has rejected claims at a public inquiry that he held back information from police because child sexual abuse allegations are “damaging and distasteful.”
Woman Tells Catholic Abuse Inquiry of Ostracism for Speaking Out
A woman whose son was sexually abused by a Catholic priest has told an inquiry into clerical abuse in the Hunter Valley that she was ostracized for speaking out.
Senior Catholic Cleric Brian Lucas May Have Known Pedophile Priests Were Evading Justice
A senior Catholic cleric may have been aware of evidence suggesting two priests acquitted of child abuse offences in court were in fact guilty of such crimes. Giving evidence to the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry into church child abuse, Rev. Brian Lucas also said he had not reported the men to police as many of their alleged victims did not want authorities involved.
No Notes on Pedophile Interviews
Fr Brian Lucas, General Secretary of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, told the NSW special commission of inquiry into the police investigation of child sexual abuse allegations in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle that his role was to ‘seduce them to resign’.
Pedophile Priest Faces $3.1 Million Lawsuit
An 82-year-old pedophile priest is facing a $3.1-million lawsuit from the former Ottawa student he admitted to sexually abusing in 1974.
Archdiocese Says Parish Priest Failed to Fire Known Sex Offender
A priest was terminated from his position at the Santa Barbara Catholic Church because he failed to follow a direct order that related to the safety of children.
100 Secret Sex Abusers in Catholic Church, Says Expert
The “secret archives” of the Catholic Church in Scotland could contain allegations of sexual abuse by as many as 100 priests and other staff in cases stretching back 50 years, according to the former head of the Church’s working party on child protection.
Bishop Apologizes for Abuse at Fort Augustus School
One of Scotland’s most senior Catholics, Bishop of Aberdeen Hugh Gilbert, has apologized on behalf of the church for decades of physical and sexual abuse of pupils at Fort Augustus boarding school in the Highlands. His statement came after the BBC found evidence of physical and sexual abuse by monks at Fort Augustus Abbey School and its prep school in East Lothian.
— Catholic Church Must Not Be Allowed to Police Itself
New Sex Abuse Crisis in Scottish Catholic Church
The Catholic church in Scotland faces a fresh sex-abuse crisis involving some of the country’s senior clerics. Documents suggest a scandal similar to the one that led to the resignation of Cardinal Keith O’Brien as Archbishop of Edinburgh and St Andrews.
— Fresh Claims over Catholic Church Sex Abuse
FR. HELMUT SCHULLER
“The Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Helmut Schuller,” the reformist priest’s 15-city U.S. speaking tour, was sponsored by Voice of the Faithful® and nine other reform organizations.
Schuller in Los Angeles: Decrying ‘Dictatorship of Church Hierarchy’
It was 7:15 p.m. Friday (Aug. 2). Seats in the dimly lit auditorium adjacent to the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, Calif., were beginning to fill. More than 200 Catholics from the Los Angeles area had gathered to hear the presentation by Austrian priest Fr. Helmut Schüller, who is calling upon Catholics to defy church hierarchy … “We don’t have any rights in this church,” he said. “You are I are citizens in two worlds: citizens of the secular society — a democratic society — and citizens of the church — citizens without any rights — in a dictatorship.” Murmurs of agreement from the crowd at this indicate the message has resonated.
Ex-Monsignor Brings Message of Church Reform to Seattle
An Austrian priest who gained global attention two years ago with his call to disobedience for Roman Catholics everywhere is bringing his message of church reform to Seattle.
Reformist Priest Praises Pope’s New Tone But Wants More
An Austrian priest who has stirred controversy in Europe with his challenge to Catholic church teachings on taboo topics has suggested that women should be allowed to become priests and said that gays need justice, not just mercy.
Dissident Priest Says Reformers Hopeful, But Unsure of Pope Francis
Pope Francis set the world debating whether his candid and conciliatory remarks on gays and women in the Catholic Church represent a new direction or simply a kindlier tone. Reformist Roman Catholic Austrian priest Helmut Schüller, in Denver July 29 called for an end to the global priest shortage through ordination of married men and women, also supports a more open and inclusive church for the LGBT community.
Sisters, Woman Priest, Church Reformers among Schuller’s Cincinnati Crowd
In Cincinnati, the ninth city of his tour, Schüller spoke to almost 400 people gathered in the gymnasium of Fairview-Clifton German Language School near the University of Cincinnati campus. The crowd, which was made of mostly older people and many nuns, represented those whose anger and frustration with the church have found expression in local organizations such as Voices Speaking, the Greater Cincinnati Catholic church reform group that sponsored Schüller’s visit here.
Schuller: Popular Support Provides Freedom to Speak without Condemnation
As Fr. Helmut Schüller travels the United States, the question that puzzles many is how he and other leaders of the “Appeal to Disobedience” movement escape condemnation if not excommunication by the bishops of Austria. Schüller, head of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, speaks candidly about the need for a “new image of the priesthood,” which would be open to women and married persons.
Austrian Priest Calls for Hierarchy Change
Admission of women and married people to priesthood as a way to enhance leadership and transparency in Catholic Church governance—that was the premise of Rev. Helmut Schuller’s lecture at First Church and Parish in Dedham.
Archbishop Allen Vigneron Bans Liberal Priest Speech from Westland Church
Detroit Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron has banned an Austrian priest from speaking at a Westland Catholic parish today because the Rev. Helmut Schüller advocates allowing women and married men to be priests, in opposition to current church teaching.
Schuller: Bishops Have ‘No Influence’ on Young People’s Thinking
For the crowd of more than 500 at the talk in Chicago by the founder of the Austrian Priests’ Initiative, Fr. Helmut Schüller probably didn’t say anything they hadn’t already heard. But the fact that a priest was not afraid to speak publicly and is networking with like-minded priests around the world gave many audience members hope that reform in the church is possible.
Church reform the Topic for Austrian Pastor and His NYC Audience
Schuller is a mild-mannered 60-year-old, who is every bit involved in the life of the Vienna, Austria Archdiocese. He was their Vicar General, the second highest position in the chancery, and still pastors the same parish he did when he had that job. He serves on their priests’ council and writes a weekly column for their archdiocesan newspaper. So why all the hubbub?
Evangelizing the Institutional Church: An Interview with Helmut Schuller
Much has been written about Austrian priest and reformer Helmut Schüller since he opened his 15-city U.S. tour, called “The Catholic Tipping Point,” in New York July 16. This is an interview of Fr. Schuller by Jamie Manson, columnist for National Catholic Reporter, who spoke with him a few hours before his New York City talk. The interview covers many of the goals and ideas — such as the plan for an international meeting of priests, the new evangelization, his thoughts about Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s barring him from speaking, and the institutional church’s treatment of same-sex couples – that had not made it into most of the media coverage of his speaking engagements at the time of the interview.