Voice of the Faithful Focus, July 12, 2012
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Will the Catholic Church Still Be Standing in a Few Generations?
And in true community, there’s no room for unquestioning obedience to censorious powers. There must be, instead, room for doubt and forgiveness, for the freedom to share our fears, our hopes and especially our uncertainties. The Catholic Church seems more open to all of that today than it was prior to Vatican II. But something has almost extinguished the spirit of that liberating time of reform, and the church once more is manning (the male reference is intended) the barricades against modernity, postmodernity and anything that may follow.
Whose Religious Freedom Is Under Attack?
As a rabbi, I am deeply conscious of the transcendent value of religious freedom. I believe that the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution is indeed one of God’s best creations. So I listen with great care to claims it is being violated.
Top Church Historian Sees Catholic Schism Ahead
Influential church historian Diarmuid MacCulloch said he believes Christianity faces a bright future, but predicted the Roman Catholic Church will undergo a major schism over its moral and social teaching. … He predicted that Catholicism faces a division over attempts by popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI to “rewrite the story” of the 1962-1965 Second Vatican Council by portraying it as a “minor adjustment” in church governance, rather than as a “radical move to change the way authority is expressed.”
Arlington Diocese Parishioners Question Need for Fidelity Oath
Kathleen Riley knows her beliefs on the male-only priesthood and contraception put her at odds with leaders of her church, and now, the Arlington Diocese wants this Sunday school teacher to take a fidelity oath.
Catholic Sex Abuse Crisis, 10 Years Later
Recent weeks marked several landmarks in the Catholic Church’s dark history with child sexual abuse. … What have we learned in the past ten years? We have learned that more than 10,000 youth were victimized by perhaps four percent of Catholic priests in America during the past half century, with the vast majority of cases occurring during the 1960s and 1970s.
– Childhood Sexual Abuse Fact Sheet
Nothing Sacred About Celibacy
As the reputation of the Catholic Church sinks further into the mire with the latest allegations of sex abuse and cover-up, it is worth raising again the subject of priestly celibacy. Celibacy cuts to the heart of what is wrong with the church – along with its homophobia and misogyny.
A Red, White and Blue Roundup
In honor of the July Fourth holiday, this week’s column presents a red, white and blue roundup of recent news, meaning current events somehow linked to, or suggested by, those patriotic colors. Red: Cardinals, traditionalists and money; White: the Vatican and transparency; Blue: the U.S. bishops lose a lion.
Voice of Faithful to Mark 10th Year with Conference
The worldwide Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful is marking its tenth year with a conference in Boston in September. The event is expected to draw supporters from across the United States and Europe, according to a news release from the organization.
College Theology Society Calls for Dialogue with Bishops
The board of the second-largest membership organization of U.S. theologians issued a statement Sunday regarding the Vatican’s sharp criticism of a prominent member in its ranks, expressing its “deep gratitude” for her work and “urgently” calling for bishops and theologians to better communicate.
Archbishop’s Unexplained Sacking Prompts Dismay, Protests
For the first time since Slovakia became independent in 1993, members of the Catholic congregation have launched public protests against a Vatican decision. The reason for their ire was the Pope’s decision, communicated via a terse one-line statement, to dismiss one of Slovakia’s most popular bishops, Robert Bezák.
Bishop Lived Teachings of ‘Lumen Gentium’ for 37 Years
In light of hearing again [Bishop Raymond] Lucker’s reverence for Lumen Gentium, I thought his words of 11 years ago bear reporting. So here is a transcription of the July 21, 2001, words of Lucker.
After Lori, Fairfield Prof Faults Process of Selecting Bishop
A professor at Fairfield University has criticized the process of choosing a new bishop for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, saying it’s geared less to finding a leader committed to the faithful of Fairfield County than to choosing a man who will rise high in the ranks of the church.
For a 1950s TV Evangelist, a Step Toward Sainthood
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who died in 1979, does not fit the stereotype of a Roman Catholic saint. Famous for his evangelizing television program in the post-World War II era, he was dramatic and humorous, not humble and retiring. He even won an Emmy. But this very human man, who lived and worked in New York for much of his life, is on his way to becoming the first male American-born saint.
Canon Law Was Not the Problem
Neglect of canon law, not adherence to it, contributed to the covering up of child abuse by Irish priests.
However, on closer inspection it becomes obvious that at the heart of the crisis was not only a failure to report a crime to the civil authorities, but also a failure to apply the Church’s own rules, rather than an overreliance on canon law.
Lay Catholic Group Takes on Reform
It is encouraging to read Patsy McGarry’s report (Home News, July 6th) that a lay Catholic group is being established to promote reform in the church. That is what Archbishop Martin has been encouraging and it is what the recent Eucharistic Congress is seen as inaugurating.
– Catholic Reform group to Assemble
Archbishop Used Immunity in Civil Suit
The Vatican’s most senior representative in Australia failed to co-operate with a government inquiry into child sexual abuse in Ireland and once invoked diplomatic immunity in a civil suit in which a victim was suing the church. Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto assumed the job of apostolic nuncio in 2008, a role equivalent to the Vatican’s ambassador.
Diocese of Orange Settles Abuse Case for $2 Million on Eve of Trial
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange settled a clergy abuse lawsuit for $2 million on the day of trial, an attorney for the plaintiff said.
Man Found Not Guilty in Priest Revenge Attack: ‘I Was Wrong’
William Lynch, the San Francisco man who attacked a priest he accused of molesting him, said his actions were wrong — even if a jury did not convict him on Thursday. The jury found him not guilty of felony assault and felony elder abuse, despite his admission that he attacked Father Jerold Lindner in 2010. They were split on a final charge of misdemeanor assault and a Santa Clara County judge declared a mistrial on that count.
Ohio Churches Spared by Rome Look to Revival
With a dull thump, a saint’s marble-encased relic was placed in a slot in a church altar, signaling the revival of a parish closed by the bishop but spared by the Vatican. St. Barbara Church, founded in 1905, and 11 other parishes closed by the Roman Catholic bishop of Cleveland begin reopening this summer following an unusual intervention by Rome. But they still face an uncertain future: Will parishioners locked out two years ago return?
Patch’s Poll: Has the Catholic Church Done Enough to Protect Children?
In response to the recent arrest of a priest on child porn possession charges, a spokesman for the Catholic Church in Connecticut maintains that the Church still has a thorough background check process for priests in place. The Catholic Church in eastern Connecticut was rocked this week after one of its parish priests, the Rev. Dennis Carey of St. Paul in Chains parish in Waterford, was arrested on a felony charge of possession of child pornography.
– Update: Fr. Carey: ‘I Want To Get Help’
Judge: Iowa Diocese Can Shield Names of Accused Priests
A Diocese review board was expected to add the names of a volunteer football coach and a former janitor at a long-closed school to its online list of perpetrators of abuse, attorney Rand Wonio said. But he said a recent ruling allows the diocese to keep secret the names of priests who were the subject of abuse allegations that a review board found to be not credible.
Prosecutors Outline Evidence in Case against KC Priest
Among the material prosecutors said they will introduce in the trial of Fr. Shawn Ratigan is a long list of images of alleged “child erotica” in his possession, a web history that allegedly proves the priest accessed websites specializing in female child pornography, and web searches that allegedly show he was researching “spy” pens.
– KC Catholic Diocese Will Face Wrongful Death Lawsuit
New York Law Puts Older Pedophilia Cases Off-Limits
The difference, in this case, is that the former priest, Gary Mercure, cannot be charged or tried in court because his alleged crimes occurred in New York, where state law gives victims of child sex abuse only until they are 23 years old to make a complaint. It is one of the most restrictive statutes of limitation nationwide.
A Day of Questions at Parishes Affected by Abuse Cases
Background: “We believe the Archdiocese should make public its files on sexual abuse allegations, including any “secret archive files.” This should be done in a way to protect the privacy of the victim. At the very least, parishioners deserve to know whenever an allegation of abuse is made against their priest. If the priest is cleared following an investigation, the reasons, along with the evidence, should be shared with the parish.” – 2011 Grand Jury Report
Philadelphia Archdiocese Resolves Six More Priest Abuse Accusations
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has announced the resolution of six cases involving priests who were placed on leave following a grand jury report on sex abuse allegations, removing two of them from ministry permanently.
Jerry Sandusky, Msgr. William Lynn and the Horace Mann School
A recent editorial in the New York Times focused on one lesson that ties all three stories together: “the reality of late uncovering of child sexual abuse.” For psychological and emotional reasons, victims of sexual abuse often delay reporting their abuse. The law can recognize these realities by extending the statute of limitations to allow for civil and criminal cases to go forward in adulthood.
$6.4 Million Going to Seattle Catholic-School Sex-Abuse Victim
A man who, as a child, was sexually abused by a Seattle Catholic school official has won a $6.4 million in court, one of the largest such awards in state history. The jury at King County Courthouse found the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a worldwide Catholic order of priests, guilty of ignoring the plaintiff’s sex-abuse complaints when he attended St. Benedict School in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood.
SNAP Responds to Investigation of Alleged Sex Abuse by West Virginia Bishop
SNAP said in a news release, “After Bransfield’s angry letter of denial, it would be irresponsible and reckless for this testimony to be forgotten or ignored. We anticipate that Bransfield would like for these accusations to just go away, but it is well known that child predators rarely have only one victim.
– Montco Reviewing Case Against Cleric First Reported in 2007
Fresh Abuse Allegations against NSW Priest
Another man has alleged that a former NSW Catholic priest, named as “Father F” in media reports, sexually abused him while he was an altar boy in the 1980s.
In a report aired on ABC’s 7.30 program on Monday, a man who wanted to be known only as “Bill” said he was abused by a former Catholic priest in the northern NSW town of Moree during the mid-1980s. The ABC has previously reported that the accused clergyman was sacked by the church in 2005 after serious sexual abuse allegations and is now a prominent citizen in Armidale.
– Accused Priest Sent for Counseling with Abuser, Says Newspaper
– Mother of Abuse Victim Calls for Inquiry into Church
THE VATICAN & THE POPE
Analysis: The Vatican’s ‘Next Generation’ PR Maneuver
In the original “Star Trek,” Capt. James T. Kirk was both the brilliant tactician and the swashbuckling ladies’ man. When “Star Trek: The Next Generation” rolled around, Kirk’s character was split in half, with Capt. Jean-Luc Picard as the brains and First Officer Will Riker as the brawn. In effect, the Vatican has now unveiled a “Next Generation” strategy to address its perceived PR woes.
The Same But Different
Pope Benedict has appointed a man very like himself to the key position in the Vatican he occupied from 1981 to 2005, prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF). Archbishop Gerhard Ludwig Müller, Bishop of Regensburg in Bavaria since 2002, is a prolific theologian and champion of conservative orthodoxy. Yet similarities with his close friend the Pope exist alongside significant differences.
Majority of Bishops’ Conferences, Except Africa, Draft Abuse Policies
Is this glass half full or half empty?
The majority of bishops’ conferences in the Americas, Europe and Asia have complied with a Vatican mandate to draw up anti-abuse guidelines, said the Vatican’s top investigator of clerical sex abuse. Without counting Africa, “more than half of the conferences responded” by the May deadline.
Pope Recalls Happy Days of Vatican II Work
Pope Benedict XVI has been reliving the happy days he spent in the Italian countryside with Bishop Fulton Sheen and others in 1965 as they prepared the Second Vatican Council’s decree on the missionary activity of the Church.
Teens Suffered Abuses at Legion School; Vatican Urged to Close Program
Dozens of women who attended a high school run by the disgraced Legion of Christ religious order have urged the Vatican to close the program, saying the psychological abuse they endured trying to live like teenage nuns led to multiple cases of anorexia, stress-induced migraines, depression and even suicidal thoughts.
Catholic Cultural Review ‘Humanitas’ Now Accessible in English
The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, has issued a letter encouraging Catholics to visit and read the recently launched English edition of “Humanitas,” a Christian anthropological and cultural review, edited by the Pontifical Catholic University in Chile.
Vatileaks Scandal Exposes Secrets of Pope’s Empire
Pope Benedict XVI wakes every morning between 6:30 and 6:45 a.m. in the papal apartment on the third floor of the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace … We know all of these details because the Vatican has sprung a leak. For centuries one of the tightest organizations in the world, with a code of honor to rival that of the Sicilian Mafia, it has been turned inside out in the past six months. A gusher of highly confidential letters to the pope and his closest associates, many of them originally in code, has poured into the Italian media and into a book, Sua Santità by Gianluigi Nuzzi, which became an instant bestseller.
Women ‘The Answer’ for Scandal-Hit Vatican
Journalist and historian Lucetta Scaraffia is the founder of a new women’s supplement for the Vatican’s official newspaper and a campaigner for women’s rights in the male-dominated institution. The scandals that have engulfed the Vatican would not have happened if women had been in charge, she argues.
Pope Fires Slovak Bishop, Robert Bezak, In Rare Show of Authority
The pope fired a 52-year-old Slovak bishop on Monday for apparently mismanaging his diocese in a rare show of papal power over his bishops. Usually when bishops run into trouble … they are persuaded by the Vatican to resign. But Pope Benedict XVI has become increasingly willing to forcibly remove bishops who refuse to step down, sacking three others in the last year alone. His willingness to do so raises questions about whether he would take the same measures against bishops who covered up for sexually abusive priests. So far he has not.
OTHER HAPPENINGS AROUND THE WORLD
Technology in Sacred Space
At a church wedding I attended last weekend, the first reading was read from an iPhone. Splendid, I thought. Whether they had not prepared to place the big book at the lectern before the event or not, I was captivated by the new possibilities for liturgical readings these days.
Cover-Ups, Justice and Reform
The guilty verdicts in two major child sex abuse cases, and the e-mails revealing the extent of the cover-up in one of the cases, the Penn State nightmare, could be more than just examples of justice delivered — if they provide impetus for new accountability and deterrence.
Occupy Catholics Seeks to Make Tradition Relevant to a New Movement
“We are the 99%, made in God’s image, seeking God’s justice.” So declares the Facebook page for Occupy Catholics, one of the latest additions to the pantheon of Catholic Church justice movements. But rather than emerging out of Vatican II or in direct response to a particular crisis within the institutional church, Occupy Catholics might be the first progressive Catholic group to grow directly out of a popular movement.
Time for Renewal, Reformation, and Rebirth in 21st Century Catholicism
For the past 19 years, I have been an outspoken critic of the hierarchy of a broken church in need of renewal, reformation, and rebirth in the 21st Century. Consequently, I have written numerous letters challenging the church’s hierarchy to admit culpability in the cover-up of clergy sexual abuse crimes. John Paul and you [Holy Father] failed miserably in meeting my challenge.
A Slum Priest’s Perspective on the ‘Effing’ Catholic Sin
In support of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and its (oddly) controversial promotion of contraception … (if, say, condoms “tie God’s hands,” as the Roman Catholic hierarchy maintains, isn’t the rhythm method a premeditated attempt to do the same?) … it’s important to hear from a Catholic priest who works in the trenches of self-righteous consequences. That is, in the abject poverty where the absence of condoms leads to more than just outsized Catholic-sized families too large for developing world incomes. It also leads to STDs, most notably HIV/AIDS.