Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 20, 2012
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Voice of the Faithful Seeks to Expand Its Challenges to Sex Abuse, Church Structures
At a two-day conference in Boston, Voice of the Faithful celebrated 10 years of battling sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and working to change the church structures that permitted and at times facilitated it. But the 450 conference participants spent most of Friday and Saturday exploring how to continue and expand that struggle over the next decade and beyond. “When others lost their nerve and their voice, you didn’t lose your nerve or your voice,” [Fr. Donald Cozzens] said. “I salute your courage to come together 10 years ago, to speak your truth to power then, throughout the last decade, now, and into the future. Speaking the truth to power is never easy.”
— Voice of the Faithful Marks 10th Year with New Calls for Church Reform
Chicago Catholics Asked to Speak Up on Next Archbishop
A group of Chicago-area members of Voice of the Faithful have designed and made public two websites to enable members of the Chicago archdiocese to make known their preferences for the successor to Cardinal Francis George as Chicago’s archbishop. [The two websites for giving input are: votf.org/bishop/ … and … www.surveymonkey.com/s/votf-bishop]
As the Chicago Tribune story [directly] below explains, the group put forth great efforts to gain the approval of the process by George and the papal ambassador. The story also indicates that while these church leaders did not bar the project, they were less than wholehearted in giving a stamp of approval. For example, the archdiocese barred pastors from advertising the initiative in their parish bulletins.
Catholic Group Focuses on Successor to Cardinal Francis George
Group solicits suggestions on which leader should take the helm of the Chicago Archdiocese once Cardinal Francis George retires
A group of Chicago-area Roman Catholics dedicated to reforming its church is asking parishioners which leader they would like to see at the helm of the Chicago Archdiocese once Cardinal Francis George retires. Members of Voice of the Faithful, an organization of progressive Catholics focused on church accountability, have set up two websites (here and here)to solicit suggestions from people in the pews. Activists said the unprecedented undertaking fulfills centuries-old canon law that calls on the faithful to communicate their needs and weigh in on major decisions.
— Group Aims to Influence Chicago Archbishop Appointment
— Catholic Laity Seek Voice in Choice of Bishop
Kansas City Bishop’s Guilty Verdict Raises National Questions
The conviction last week of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report suspected child abuse indicates that “clearly there is a problem” with how the procedures adopted by the U.S. church to protect children are being used, a key adviser to the U.S. bishops on the issue said Monday. Central to that problem, said Al Notzon III, chairman of the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board for clergy sex abuse, is the question of accountability for bishops who do not comply with the norms and conditions the body of bishops agreed to 10 years ago. The procedures are spelled out in the U.S. bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.
— Defying Canon and Civil Laws, Diocese Failed to Stop a Priest
— Advocates Hope Guilty Verdict against Bishop Moves Adults to Report Abuse
— The Star’s Editorial/Church Left Hurting from Finn’s Failure
Editorial: Kansas City’s Bishop Finn Must Resign or Be Removed
If Bishop Robert W. Finn wanted today to volunteer at a parish in the Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese to teach a religious education class or chaperone a parish youth group to World Youth Day, he couldn’t do it. Convicted of a misdemeanor charge of failure to report suspected child abuse, Finn wouldn’t pass the background check necessary to work with young people in the Catholic church. That is, he could not serve in those positions if he were just a layman, deacon or priest. But he is a bishop, and that makes all the difference. And he can, apparently, do anything he wants under church law.
Justice Ventures Up the Church Hierarchy
The conviction (of Bishop Finn in Kansas City) was evidence of the growing resolve of secular authorities, however belated, to venture up the hierarchical ladder in their search for accountability. The scandal has led to the dismissal and criminal investigation of more than 700 priests, even as their superiors have been spared — despite years of diocesan scheming to buy off victims and rotate rogue priests to new parishes. Bishop Finn’s conviction was hardly encouraging for the cause of reform, however, since it involved very recent misdeeds — years after church leaders promised tough new policies aimed at preventing cover-ups.
Was Cardinal Carlo Martini the Last Liberal Catholic Bishop?
With the recent death of Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, Catholics who call for church reform on issues such as homosexuality and priestly celibacy have lost one of their last leading lights in the top echelons of the church’s hierarchy. Martini, who died Aug. 31, was a Jesuit and an archbishop of Milan from 1980-2002. More importantly, he was considered for decades the informal leader of “liberals” inside the church. But he has no clear successor in the current crop of cardinals.
— Twenty Years Later, Martini Remained the Same Man
Rome & Women Religious
In the memorable opening lines of the Second Vatican Council’s Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, the bishops proclaimed their solidarity with “the joys and the hopes, the griefs and the anxieties of the men of this age.” One of the most pressing hopes of the age has been the struggle to achieve equal rights and treatment for women, and the council fathers also spoke to that concern. “Where they have not yet won it, women claim for themselves an equity with men before the law and in fact,” they wrote. “Now, for the first time in human history all people are convinced that the benefits of culture ought to be and actually can be extended to everyone.”
Why is Rome Investigating U.S. Nuns? (A perspective from 3-years-ago!)
Yet my reaction to the visitation, and especially to the prospect of “doctrinal assessment,” contains more than a little skepticism. While I’m glad for a chance to “let Rome know the truth” about our lives and our devotion to Christ, I can’t help suspecting that those behind these initiatives are not primarily interested in the quality of my spiritual life. To put it bluntly, I feel that American women religious are being bullied.
Nuns on the Bus Take Message about Ryan Budget on the Road in Missouri
The day after Social Service Sr. Simone Campbell of NETWORK gave an impassioned speech at the Democratic National Convention, members of the organization’s Missouri arm took an equally heartfelt message to lawmakers and politicians across the state as a continuation of the Nuns on the Bus tour. On two stops in Missouri’s 2nd Congressional District, three religious and more than a dozen supporters told staffers for Republican Congressman Todd Akin and GOP Congressional candidate Ann Wagner that the Paul Ryan budget is an “immoral document.”
Speaking the Truth to the Vatican
After years of drug addiction, serial theft and hard prison time, a 54-year-old mother named Renee is entering a revolutionary phase of her life — transition from a rehabilitation sanctuary in Coney Island to the possibility of self-reliance in the outside world. The sanctuary is one of several outposts of Providence House, a recovery program run by the Sisters of St. Joseph, a society of street-tough, adaptive New York nuns. Renee’s progress is worth celebrating as an example of what nuns actually do day after day…
Ex-Priest Says He’s Innocent
A former Catholic priest has denied allegations that he molested an altar boy while ministering at a San Andreas parish from 2000 to 2002, and local supporters have rallied around him. Michael Kelly, who left for his native Ireland earlier this year after being found liable of sexual abuse in a 2007 lawsuit, said Monday in an email sent to The Union Democrat that he couldn’t discuss many details of the case but fiercely denied any wrongdoing. “Never, ever did I molest IN ANY WAY this person,” Kelly wrote in the email. “The allegations are completely false as are ANY allegations of my molesting anyone at any time. It never happened. Never.”
Joliet Diocese Again Removes Priest from Public Ministry
The Rev. F. Lee Ryan, 79, who has been accused of inappropriate relations with a minor four decades ago, was put back into limited ministry last week after a ruling from the Vatican based on church law. But Bishop R. Daniel Conlon announced Tuesday that he has decided to put Ryan back on “full administrative leave.” In a statement, Conlon said, “Last week I announced that Father F. Lee Ryan would be permitted to exercise a very narrow priestly ministry. Subsequent discussions that have occurred since that decision have highlighted that any action needs to fulfill the larger need of the Church to confront the scandal of child abuse in its midst and diligently restore trust. “For the sake of the greater good of the Church, I have decided to revoke my earlier permission and once again place Fr. Ryan on full administrative leave.”
Priests, Accusers Press for Resolution
15 Boston priests facing abuse allegations have awaited a verdict for years, leaving both sides mired in a frustrating legal limbo
The Archdiocese of Boston has spent more than $22.5 million since 2000 on salaries and health benefits for clergy awaiting a resolution of their sexual abuse cases from the church’s internal legal system. The majority of cases, which can determine whether a priest is restored to ministry or cast out for good, have been concluded. But some have sat unresolved for more than a decade. And the cost of supporting accused clergy continues to mount.
MISSOURI (KANSAS CITY; ST. LOUIS)
Bishop Finn, Tick-Tock …
In the New York Times, Laurie Goodstein has the chronology and narrative of the Father Ratigan case in Missouri that led to Thursday’s conviction of Bishop Robert Finn for failing to report a suspect abuser. Most of the facts have been public, but set out like this they tell a devastating story that sounds like it was discovered in a time capsule buried pre-2002.
The Bishop Robert Finn Saga
One great mystery of Catholicism may be solved soon: how long does it take for something to get from Missouri to the pope’s desk? While the best way to boost a bishop’s reputation is for The New York Times to call for his removal, the Bishop Robert Finn saga is clearly over the top. Only the most churchy of church types support his staying as bishop of Kansas City,-St. Joseph, Mo., where he was judged guilty of a misdemeanor in not reporting the very strange priest he had sent to a convent.
Kansas City Cases Cost Diocese $1.39 Million in Legal Fees
[The] historic guilty verdict for Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., Bishop Robert Finn comes as a new report commissioned by his diocese estimates the costs of its legal fees in its criminal cases to total about $1.39 million. That report, which appears in the latest issue of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocesan newspaper … also estimates that the costs paid by the diocesan insurance program on all issues dealing with sex abuse in the diocese in the past year totaled almost $4 million.
50 Years after Vatican II, Catholic Church Faces New Issues
On Oct. 11, 1962, more than 2,500 Roman Catholic bishops from around the world came together in Rome for an ecumenical council that would become known as Vatican II. And what they did there would change the church forever. Fifty years later, some hear echoes of the council’s deliberations amid ongoing debates in the contemporary church over contraception, homosexuality, the celibacy of clergy and the ordination of women. And one New Hampshire scholar believes it’s time for a new ecumenical council to address some of those issues.
Reopened Catholic Churches Making Progress
Ten recently reopened Catholic churches are experiencing challenges and successes. “It’s just been absolutely phenomenal,” beams Fr. Dan Begin, new pastor of St. Mary’s in Bedford, which reopened in late July.” It takes me longer to hug them goodbye than it does to say Mass,” he says of his new parishioners. Fr. Begin notes that Sunday Mass attendance, which began with 1,200 worshippers the day the parish reopened, has held at nearly those levels, with between 800 and 1,000 people in the pews each Sunday.
Nine People Accuse Philadelphia Church of Sexual Abuse
Eight men and a woman publicly accused Roman Catholic priests and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Tuesday of child sex abuse, saying they found courage to come forward after the conviction in June of a top church official in the wide-ranging pedophilia scandal. … The alleged victims opted to come forward after the conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, a top official found guilty of covering up sex abuse allegations, often by transferring priests to unsuspecting parishes, said Marci Hamilton, an attorney in the case.
— 8 New Priest Child-Sex Abuse Lawsuits
Prosecutors Deny Priest Was Urged to Lie in Abuse Case
The Philadelphia district attorney’s office on Tuesday challenged a claim by lawyers for a convicted Roman Catholic monsignor that prosecutors had persuaded another priest, now defrocked, to falsely admit to sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in order to obtain the conviction.
Church Removes Priest for a Second Time
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia on Monday said it had suspended a former Northeast Philadelphia pastor to investigate a new claim of child sexual abuse, four months after church officials publicly had cleared the priest of another misconduct allegation. Archbishop Charles J. Chaput declared the priest, the Rev. Michael Chapman, suitable in May to return to active ministry. Chapman, 56, was preparing to resume his priestly duties when the archdiocese received a new accusation that Chapman had abused a minor approximately 30 years ago, the archdiocese announced.
Cleric Seeks Word on Rape Case
Former Traditional Anglican Communion primate John Hepworth says he is seeking confirmation that his rape allegations against a Catholic priest are being assessed by South Australia’s Director of Public Prosecutions
Archbishop Hepworth said yesterday that he had not been notified that the long-running police investigation — which began when the Adelaide archdiocese rejected mediation with him last year — is now with the DPP, who has been asked for advice on whether charges should be laid. “I’ve co-operated fully with the police over an extended period of time in doing my statement in relation to the complaint that I felt forced to make last year, when the church failed to take action in a way I could have been part of,” he said.
Abuse Inquirer Paid Principal
Catholic Church’s leading investigator into sexual abuse paid $90,000 out of his own pocket to the former principal of a Catholic school whose career was ruined over his stand against a paedophile priest. Peter O’Callaghan, QC, has agreed that he made the payments over several years, saying he did so out of compassion for the principal, who had suffered a mental breakdown. The school involved, Holy Family in Doveton, had as parish priest or assistant priest six sexual abusers.
— Former Teachers Speak Out About Abuse Allegations
Hundreds Call for Abuse Royal Commission
Hundreds of people have gathered in Newcastle to call for a royal commission into sexual abuse within the Catholic Church
Almost 400 people attended the public forum at the Newcastle Panthers club on Sunday, in which people shared their experiences of abuse within the Catholic Church and other organisations. “We filled the auditorium. We couldn’t have fitted any more,” NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge told AAP. He said there was a unanimous call for a royal commission to investigate cases of abuse and look at offences which were covered up.
Leader of Dissident Austrian Priests’ Group Continues Campaign for Changes in Church
The head of a dissident group of Austrian priests has renewed his call for “a new model of leadership” in the Catholic Church, in an interview circulated by the Catholic News Service (CNS), an agency sponsored by the US bishops’ conference.
Lay People to Preside at Funerals in Liverpool
The Archdiocese of Liverpool has become the first diocese in England and Wales to commission lay people to preside at funerals. Archbishop Patrick Kelly formally commissioned 22 lay ministers to celebrate funeral ceremonies in an effort to relieve pressure on priests who sometimes must celebrate seven or more funeral Masses a week. The move was announced through a brochure, “Planning a Catholic Funeral”, published recently by the archdiocese. The brochure described a funeral as the “community’s main celebration and prayer for the deceased.”
West Midlands Police Officers Cleared of Wrongdoing in Evil Catholic Priest Case
Police have finally revealed details of their probe into detectives accused of collusion with the Catholic Church during a paedophile priest case. Officers who dealt with the hunt for, and trial of, Father James Robinson have been cleared of misconduct by West Midlands Police’s Professional Standards Department. Robinson was jailed for 21 years in October 2010 for subjecting six boys to decades of horrific abuse.
Abuse Allegations: Successive Reports
Synopsis of Irish government reports on clergy sexual abuse: Ferns Report, Ryan Report, Murphy Report, Cloyne Report, December 2011 Child Abuse Audit by NBSCCC.
Dublin Archbishop Says Catholic Church Hierarchy Must Learn from Outcry Over Bishop’s Paedophilia Comments
The Archbishop of Dublin has urged the Catholic Church not to simply move on from the controversy surrounding bizarre comments made by Bishop John Kirby about paedophilia. But Diarmuid Martin stopped short of calling for the Bishop of Clonfert’s resignation over his comments that he once saw paedophilia as “a friendship that crossed a boundary line”.
Irish Leader Enda Kenny to Have First Meeting with Pope Benedict
First meeting since rift between Vatican and Irish government
Irish leader Enda Kenny will meet Pope Benedict this Saturday at the papal retreat at Castle Gandolfo. Kenny is in Rome to meet the Italian Prime Minister and will go on to meet the Pope along with other European Union leaders. Soon after taking office, Kenny made a major statement strongly criticizing the Vatican’s handling of sex scandals involving their priests in Ireland. The Vatican refuted his allegation that they had stalled inquiries into suspected pedophile and relations since have been at low ebb.
Serial Abuse by Spiritans Unchecked for Decades
A review of child safeguarding practices in the Holy Ghost congregation has found “unacceptable failures” over decades to protect children from 47 alleged abusing priests in its schools here. The Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC), also expressed “grave concerns” that an abuser removed from ministry in 1995 was on an internet forum just last year.
THE VATICAN, THE CARDINALS, & THE POPE
Mgr. Scicluna: Tackling Accountability in the Church
The “most tragic wound” in the Church and in society today is the abuse of power in all its forms. That theme is at the heart of a two day conference [that took] place at St Mary’s University College in Twickenham near London. Bringing together theologians, psychologists, sociologists and other leading experts in the field, the meeting aim[ed] to go beyond the sex abuse crisis and examine the broader context of power abuse that allowed such criminal activity to flourish.
That Neo-Clericalism Which “Hijacks” The Sacraments
Cardinal Bergoglio raises the alarm: Denying baptism to children born out of wedlock is a form of “pharisaic Gnosticism” that “drives people away from salvation”
He almost apologised for the strong impact of the chosen image: that of an unmarried mother, a “poor girl” who beat the temptation instilled in her by some to abort, who had the courage to bring her child into the world and who then “found herself on a pilgrimage, going from parish to parish, trying to find someone who would baptise her child.” … In this “hijacking” of the sacrament that marks the beginning of Christian life, the Jesuit cardinal sees the expression of a rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism which also uses the sacraments as tools to affirm its own supremacy.
Pope Benedict Should Be Prosecuted for Abuse Handling
The time has come to stop letting the abusers and torturers of children, and their accomplices, escape justice. If you think that is an noncontroversial sentiment, you haven’t been paying attention. … What we know is this: in 2001, [Pope Benedict, then Joseph Ratzinger] in his role as the Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, formerly known as the Roman Inquisition, Ratzinger sent a letter to every bishop within the Church, outlining steps for dealing with claims of abuse, including strict punishments up to and including excommunication for (wait for it) officials who went to the authorities.
Financially Troubled Parts of Europe Consider Taxing Church Properties
Alcala de Henares, Spain — Cash-strapped officials in Europe are looking for a way to ease their financial burden by upending centuries of tradition and seeking to tap one of the last untouched sources of wealth: the Catholic Church. Thousands of public officials who have seen the financial crisis hit their budgets are chipping away at the various tax breaks and privileges the church has enjoyed for centuries.
OTHER HAPPENINGS AROUND THE WORLD
Suffer the Children
Just how flagrant does a pedophile need to be before the people around him contact the police? Just how far beyond seeming to force himself on a boy in a shower or loading up his laptop with photos of little girls’ crotches does he have to go?