Voice of the Faithful Focus, Jan. 17, 2013
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Swiss Abbot Urges Change in How Bishops Are Selected
A leading Swiss abbot is calling for a change in how bishops are selected, saying that the nomination process should include greater local input, and he wants bishops and theologians to join him in pressing for the change. “We are faced with serious systemic problems in our church. For me, as a canon lawyer, solving these systemic problems has absolute priority, as our other problems can only be solved if the structures are consistent and the procedures transparent,” Benedictine Abbot Peter von Sury of Mariastein said in an interview with the Swiss Catholic press agency Kipa/Apic last month.
Trial Begins for Priest & Teacher Accused of Abusing Altar Boy
A Roman Catholic priest and a schoolteacher sexually abused a 10-year-old altar boy at different times more than a decade ago, assaulting him in a church sacristy in Northeast Philadelphia and in the back of a car, a prosecutor alleged on Jan. 14.
Release of Church Files in Sex Abuse Cases Includes Names of Hierarchy
A judge’s ruling earlier this month requiring the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles to release thousands of pages of confidential records, including the names of church higher-ups, is an important victory for the public and victims of sexual abuse. The documents include the names of church leaders, inlcuding Cardinal Roger Mahony, that had been redacted earlier “to avoid further embarrassment to the church.”
Archdiocese of Boston Unveils Details of First Wave of Parish Reorganization
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston on Jan. 10 announced the names of more than two dozen parishes participating in the first phase of a major reorganization that will eventually group the archdiocese’s 288 parishes into about 135 clusters, each led by a team of clergy and lay leaders.
Bourgeois Receives Official Vatican Letter Dismissing Him from Priesthood
Roy Bourgeois, the longtime peace activist and Catholic priest dismissed by the Vatican because of his support for women’s ordination, has received the official letter notifying him of the move three months after it was made.
Many Researchers Taking a Different View of Pedophilia
Like many forms of sexual deviance, pedophilia once was thought to stem from psychological influences early in life. Now, many experts view it as a sexual orientation as immutable as heterosexuality or homosexuality. It is a deep-rooted predisposition — limited almost entirely to men — that becomes clear during puberty and does not change.
Second in series of articles
Bishops Investigating US Nuns Have Poor Records on Sex Abuse Cases
This is the second in a series of articles, a joint reporting project by NCR and GlobalPost.com, examining the background and the principle players in the Vatican’s investigations of U.S. women religious. From its palace in Vatican City, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith monitors compliance with Roman Catholic moral teaching and matters of dogma for the oldest church in Christendom. These issues have little bearing on most of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics.
Top Five Under-Covered Vatican Stories of 2012
Now that the dust has settled on the New Year’s holiday, John Allen presents a run-down of the most under-covered Vatican stories, the stories he says fell through the cracks in the last year or that didn’t quite generate the buzz they really deserved.
From Nuns to ‘Nones,’ 10 Ways Religion Shaped the News in 2012
From the nuns to the “nones,” religion dominated the headlines throughout 2012. Faith was a persistent theme in the presidential race, and moral and ethical questions surrounded budget debates, mass killings and an unexpected focus on “religious freedom.” Here are 10 ways religion made news in 2012.
Italy Bans Card Payments in Vatican over Money Laundering
The Bank of Italy suspended all bank card payments on Vatican territory from the start of the year and ordered Deutsche Bank Italia, which manages electronic payments for the world’s smallest country, to turn off its systems.
— Italian Banks Suspend Vatican Credit Card Processing
— It’s ‘Cash Only’ Now for Tourists at the Vatican
— Rome Prosecutors’ Probe Led to Credit Card Freeze at Vatican
Pope Appoints Boston Priest as Vatican’s Abuse Investigator
Pope Benedict XVI has named Boston priest Father Robert W. Oliver as the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s promoter of justice, the “chief prosecutor” at the office responsible for promoting and safeguarding Catholic doctrine and morals.
— Boston Priest from Cardinal Law Era to Lead Oversight of Sexual Abuse Claims
Florida Priest Pleads No Contest in Child Abuse Case
A South Florida priest accused of sexually assaulting young boys for decades pleaded no contest to a half dozen charges on Monday and could face up to 15 years in prison under a plea deal.
Insurer Says Diocese Is on Its Own
TIG Insurance has no obligation to defend the Diocese of Belleville and its former priest Raymond Kownacki in two sex abuse cases. In its request for declaratory judgment, TIG claims the sexual abuse charges two John Does are excluded from its bodily injury policy, which covers injuries caused by Diocese members “within the scope of their respective duties.”
Private Pain, Played Out on Public Stage
When he was a boy in North Carolina in the 1960s, Michael Mack wanted to be a priest, until his priest sexually molested him. He prayed he would forget the experience, but, he said, “the memory tingled like a phantom limb.”
Pastor, 3 Priests from Elizabeth Church Get Their Walking Papers
It was not the usual kind of Christmas message. When parishioners from St. Mary of the Assumption Parish in Elizabeth arrived for Mass on Sunday, they had no idea they would be saying goodbye to three priests and a monsignor who have served the parish for decades.
Man, 24, Testifies of Childhood Assaults by Priest, Teacher
Speaking quietly but firmly, a 24-year-old man testified for more than two hours Jan. 15 about enduring a series of childhood sexual assaults by two Catholic priests and a teacher, all of whom worked at a church and middle school less than a mile from his Northeast Philadelphia home.
— Lawyer Attacks Accuser in Philly Priest Sex Abuse Trial
— Testimony in Philadelphia Clergy Sex-Abuse Trial Began Jan. 14
— Priest, Teacher Face Sexual Abuse Allegations in Philly Trial
Jesuits Seek Information on Contact by St. Joe’s Prep Teacher in 1970s
The Jesuits have told the Philadelphia district attorney that they received a credible allegation that one of their priests had inappropriate physical contact with a student at St. Joseph’s Preparatory School in North Philadelphia in the 1970s.
Bruno Tucci, Former Catholic Priest, Charged in Child Sex Abuse Case
The investigation of a reported child sexual assault in Maryland has led to the arrest of a former priest in the Allentown, Pennsylvania, diocese.
Ex-Widener Dean Accused of Sexual Abuse in 1980s
A Franciscan friar who served as dean of Widener University’s School of Education before abruptly resigning in July was accused by a teenage boy of sexual abuse while he served at a Catholic parish in New Hampshire.
— Former Widener Dean Had Abuse Settlement in the Past
Penn State: Lessons Not Learned
If it were possible to compound the reasons for outrage over the serial child rape committed at Penn State, Gov. Tom Corbett took a brazenly misguided step in that direction Jan. 2. The governor filed a federal lawsuit to force the N.C.A.A. to revoke the highly deserved sanctions imposed on the school and its powerful football program for a scandal that reached the highest levels of the university.
Priest Sentenced to Eight Years in Prison for Possessing Pornographic Images of Children
A suspended Catholic priest has been sentenced in federal court for violating federal child sexual exploitation laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced Jan. 3.
— Suspended Penn. Priest Given 8-Year Sentence for Child Porn
Catholic Priest Resigns in Warwick
A Catholic priest in Warwick has resigned as pastor of a church after allegations of sexual misconduct surfaced. The Diocese of Providence has placed Father Barry Meehan, the pastor of St. Timothy’s in Warwick, on administrative leave after determining that the allegations regarding an incident occurring 25 years ago were credible.
Accord Reached in Church Sex-Assault Lawsuit
The Archdiocese of San Antonio and a Floresville man who claimed he was 12 when his priest began to molest him in the late 1970s have reached an out-of-court settlement.
Diocese Settles 11 Priest Sex Abuse Cases in Burlington Federal Court
The state’s Roman Catholic diocese agreed Jan. 9 to settle 11 more priest sexual abuse cases, a move that may finally close a painful — and costly — chapter in the church’s history in Vermont.
Former Priest, Westfield, MA, Resident, Tied to Clergy Allegations set for Trial in Vermont
The state’s Roman Catholic Diocese will be forced to defend itself against allegations it hired a priest it knew had a history of child molestation in an upcoming trial in federal court.
Ahiara Catholic Faithful Protest, Reject Appointment of Bishop
Priests and the laity of the Catholic Diocese of Ahiara Mbaise in Imo State, Saturday, rejected the verdict of the Pontiff in the appointment of a new bishop for the diocese. The diocese has been without a bishop for nearly two years now, since the death of Bishop Victor Chikwe due to the failure of the major zones that make up the diocese to agree on which zone should produce the bishop.
— Nigeria: Mbaise Catholic Priests Reject New Bishop
Gathering of Evidence a Challenge for Royal Commission
A legal academic says one of the most difficult tasks confronting the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse is to ensure those accused of sexual assault are treated fairly.
Hideous, Shocking, Vile
Prime Minister Julia Gillard said too many people have turned a blind eye to the shocking crime of child sexual abuse, as she announced the terms of reference for the royal commission today. Ms. Gilllard said that it is clear that too many children had been subject to sexual abuse in institutions and were not provided with a safe childhood.
Second Catholic Priest Charged with Concealing Child Sex Crime
A retired Hunter priest has become the second Catholic priest in Australia to be charged with concealing a child sex crime.
Roman Catholic Diocese Had Duty to Report Sex Abuse Allegations, Lawyers Say
A Roman Catholic diocese in New Brunswick should have notified police immediately when it heard last year that two priests were alleged to have sexually abused children, say two lawyers who have represented victims of abuse by clergymen.
Catholic Church in Germany Calls Off Study on Sexual Abuse
The Catholic Church in Germany has terminated an investigation into alleged cases of sexual abuse by clergy members. It is unclear whether the research will be continued by a different team.
— Catholic Church in Germany Drops Sex Abuse Inquiry
— German Minister Raps Catholic Bishops over Abuse Study
— German Catholic Church Breaks Ties with Prof. Christian Pfeiffer Citing ‘Trust’
Priest Returned for Sex Assault Trial
A Dominican priest has been returned for trial by judge and jury on 39 counts of sexually assaulting a juvenile at various locations in Munster over an eight-year period.
CLERICALISM / ROMANISM
Stupid Catholics? Does Paul’s Adjective for the Galatian Church Apply Today?
Lately the term stupid has been used quite frequently. On the left, Chris Matthews of MSNBC called himself “not just stupid, but wrong” for making remarks about Hurricane Sandy’s potential impact on politics. On the right, after the election, Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said that Republicans should “stop being the stupid party.” Are today’s Catholics stupid?
Catholic Education, in Need of Salvation
Catholic parochial education is in crisis. More than a third of parochial schools in the United States closed between 1965 and 1990, and enrollment fell by more than half. After stabilizing in the 1990s, enrollment has plunged despite strong demand from students and families.