Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 6, 2012
Highlighting issues we face working together
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church
Prelate: Bishops’ Credibility on Abuse is ‘Shredded’
The August 30 issue of Origins includes “Help for Bishops in Rebuilding Trust,” a recent talk by Bishop Daniel Conlon of Joliet, chairman of the US bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. “For the last few years I operated with the conviction that consistent implementation of the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ coupled with some decent publicity, would turn public opinion around,” he said at a conference of safe-environment and victims’ assistance coordinators. “I now know this was an illusion … I was wandering in a hall of mirrors.”
— Help for Bishops in Rebuilding Trust (The actual talk given by Bishop Conlon.)
Kansas City Bishop, Diocese Now To Be Tried by Judge on Thursday
The first Catholic bishop criminally charged in the decades-long clergy sex abuse crisis will not go before a jury, instead facing judgment from a local judge Thursday, according to court documents filed Wednesday. The change indicates that Bishop Robert Finn, his Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocese, and county prosecutors have negotiated a set of “stipulated facts” they will present to the judge, who could rule the same day, said Mike Mansur, a spokesperson for the Jackson County, Mo., prosecutor’s office, where the bishop and diocese are charged.
Cardinal Called Church ‘200 Years Out of Date’ Soon Before Death
The former archbishop of Milan and papal candidate Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini said the Roman Catholic Church was “200 years out of date” in his final interview before his death, published Saturday. Cardinal Martini, once favored by Vatican progressives to succeed Pope John Paul II and a prominent voice in the church until his death at 85 on Friday, gave his view of the church as a pompous and bureaucratic institution failing to move with the times. “Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up; our rituals and our cassocks are pompous,” Cardinal Martini said in the interview published in Italian daily newspaper Corriere della Sera.
— Translated Final Interview with Martini
— Milan Mourns Cardinal Who Dared to Challenge Rome
Father Groeschel Apologizes for Sex Abuse Comments
Father Benedict Groeschel and the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal have apologized for his comments that appeared to blame sex abuse victims for their abuse while excusing their abusers, with his religious order calling the remarks “completely out of character.” “I did not intend to blame the victim,” Fr. Groeschel said in an apology posted on the National Catholic Register website. “A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible.”
— Priest Puts Blame on Some Victims of Sexual Abuse (Original comments.)
— Rev. Benedict Groeschel Leaves Catholic Cable Show after Abuse Remarks
Some Church Leaders Still Don’t Get It
Comment on the Fr. Groeschel situation above
A prominent priest has become the Todd Akin of Catholicism for voicing troubling views about sex abuse that were — and apparently still are — quietly held by some members of the clergy. The interview last week in the National Catholic Register, in which the Rev. Benedict Groeschel called Jerry Sandusky a “poor guy” and suggests that priests can be victimized by seductive teens, was so disturbing that the magazine removed it from its website. It also shows that, a decade after the clergy abuse scandal exploded on the front page of The Boston Globe, some church leaders still haven’t learned the right lessons.
They Do It to Themselves
I’ve learned recently that San Francisco’s archbishop-in-waiting was arrested for drunken driving, a Hartford pastor assisted at a gay wedding in New York, and, according to a priest-preacher on Long Island, Augustine is the father of Western monasticism. Good thing the Vatican is watching the nuns.
Vatican II: “Have A Little Patience, Fifty Years Is Nothing”
“Vatican Insider” interviews Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a Church historian and scholar of the Second Vatican Council, on the Golden Jubilee of Vatican II.
Catholic Nun Brings Her Star Power
Sister Simone Campbell will get what may be the biggest media platform of her life on Wednesday night, when she addresses the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina. But the Catholic nun already has plenty of star power.
California: Archbishop-Elect Is Arrested
The Roman Catholic archbishop-elect of San Francisco was arrested for investigation of driving under the influence, the San Diego police said Monday.
— Future San Francisco Archbishop Apologizes for ‘Disgrace’ Caused by Arrest
Court, Diocese Differ on Credibility of Charges Against Late Priests
Two different standards for determining credibility of clergy sexual abuse claims compelled a bankruptcy judge to order the names of three deceased priests to be posted on the Diocese of Davenport website. Diocesan leaders believe the 40-year-old accusations against the three priests are not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence. Davenport Bishop Martin J. Amos decided Sept. 4 not to appeal the judge’s decision. However, the list will include an explanation that accusations against the three priests were not substantiated by clear and convincing evidence.
Priest Pleads Not Guilty to Child Rape in Salem
A former head of a Catholic order facing child rape charges had bail set at $1,000 this morning in Salem District Court. Father Richard McCormick, arrested yesterday in New Rochelle, N.Y., pleaded not guilty to five counts of a rape of a child, charges stemming from the alleged repeated sexual assaults of a victim, then 11 and 12 years old, during 1981 and 1982 in Ipswich, according to the Essex County district attorney’s office.
Discord with New Priest Floods Michigan Island Parish
The second weekend in August on Beaver Island, Mich., marks the Homecoming dinner — an 80-year tradition where the island’s yearlong and summer residents come together at Holy Cross Catholic Church on Kings Highway to share a meal and each other’s company as summer nears its end. There was no dinner this year, though — it was canceled after too few volunteered. The lack of participation stemmed not from a lack of interest but from frustration and tension tied to the parish’s new pastor, Fr. Joseph Blasko.
MISSOURI (KANSAS CITY; ST. LOUIS)
Kansas City Diocese’s Ombudsman Talks Sex Abuse Prevention
As the Catholic Church works through the horrific, dispiriting priest abuse scandal and attendant cover-up by bishops, there’s been little to applaud. But when something does go right — or at least mostly right — it’s worth noting. (Bishop) Finn created a five-point plan for the diocese to respond to abuse allegations. The second point called for “appointment of an independent public liaison and ombudsman to field and investigate any reports of suspicious or inappropriate behavior.” That ombudsman turned out to be Jenifer Valenti, a former assistant prosecuting attorney in Jackson County, Mo. After a year on the job, she issued her first report in July describing the 79 cases brought to her attention, 20 of which had to do with sexual abuse.
Testimony about Bishop ‘Misspoken’ in Priest Sex Abuse Case
Diocesan staffer had said Finn told her, “Boys will be boys,” in reaction to priest’s lewd photos. In sworn testimony made public Thursday, an employee of Kansas City’s Roman Catholic diocese reported that Bishop Robert Finn said that “boys will be boys” when told of lewd images on a priest’s laptop. But late Thursday night the employee backed away from that testimony. John Gromowsky, an attorney representing Julie Creech, the computer systems manager for the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, said that she had “misspoken” in deposition testimony taken in a civil case and hoped to correct it.
Bishops Cullen and Cistone To Be Named Defendants in Ongoing Civil Case Against Archdiocese of Philadelphia
They may have escaped criminal prosecution, but according to a memorandum of law filed Monday in Common Pleas Court, Bishops Edward P. Cullen and Joseph R. Cistone can expect to be named as defendants in an ongoing civil case against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia regarding the sexual abuse of a former 10-year-old altar boy. Lawyers representing “Billy Doe” filed the memorandum of law in the civil case of Billy Doe V. the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Doe is the pseudonym for the former altar boy sexually abused by Father Edward V. Avery, who pleaded guilty on March 22 to involuntary deviant sexual intercourse with a minor, and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to five years in prison. Avery’s abuse of Billy Doe also resulted in the June 22 conviction of Msgr. William J. Lynn for endangering the welfare of a child. Lynn is now serving a prison term of three to six years.
Archdiocesan Embezzler Gets 2 to 7 Years
Amid the cries and sobs of relatives who packed the courtroom, the former chief financial officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia was sentenced this morning to 2 to 7 years in prison for her admitted embezzlement of more than $906,000 from the church treasury. Anita Guzzardi turned and looked at her husband Angelo and mouthed the words “I’m sorry” as Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler imposed the sentence.
Retrial Set for March for Priest Who Had Hung Jury
A Philadelphia judge this morning set March 6 for the retrial of Rev. James J. Brennan, the Roman Catholic priest charged with the attempted rape of a 14-year-old boy in 1996. Father Brennan, 49, was tried earlier this year with Msgr. William J. Lynn, 61, the former secretary for clergy for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. On June 22, a Common Pleas Court jury said it could not reach a verdict on the counts of attempted rape and child-endangerment lodged against Brennan and Judge M. Teresa Sarmina declared a mistrial.
Philly Priest, Teacher’s Child-Rape Trial Delayed
The Philadelphia rape trial of a Roman Catholic priest and a former Catholic school teacher has been postponed after a lawyer in the case had a death in the family. The Rev. Charles Engelhardt and Bernard Shero are due back in court Friday to get a new trial date. Their case has been severed from the high-profile trial earlier this year of a church official charged over his handling of abuse complaints. The Rev. William Lynn is appealing his landmark child-endangerment conviction while starting a three- to six-year prison term.
The Philadelphia Archdiocese’s $11.6 Million Mystery
The church is far from candid about its supposed price tag for responding to its sex-abuse charges. And in article after article (on the Philadelphia Archdiocese), the figure $11.6 million pops up. The $11.6 million … is, reporters inform us, the price the church has paid so far responding to “the current clergy sex-abuse scandal” or, to use ever-so-slightly clearer language, “the latest grand jury investigation into clergy sex-abuse and the criminal prosecution of Msgr. William J. Lynn.” The figure is never attributed. It just hangs there, as if it is confirmed fact. Trouble is, it’s not. So where’s it from?
Priest Charged with Hiding Sex Crimes
He was the ”right-hand man” of a bishop, and a one-time acting bishop himself, but priest Tom Brennan has become the first Australian Catholic priest charged with concealing the alleged child sex crimes of another. Father Brennan, 74, was arrested and charged yesterday with two counts of misprision of a felony – failing to disclose a serious crime – relating to alleged child sex offences by defrocked priest John Denham against two boys in the late 1970s.
Archbishop of Canterbury Apologises after Church Report Accuses Clergy of ‘Disastrous’ Failure to Protect Children from Paedophile Priests
A Church of England report yesterday accused clergy in an ancient diocese of a ‘disastrous’ failure to protect children from abuse by paedophile priests. The investigation carried out for the Archbishop of Canterbury said that many lives had been blighted, and a string of court cases was just the tip of the iceberg of corruption in the Diocese of Chichester.
Church’s Child Abuse Watchdog Details Protection Policies
Ian Elliot, the head of the (Irish) Catholic Church’s own watchdog on child protection measures, has detailed the policies now in place to prevent child abuse. It is part of a nationwide review of each diocese and Religious Order in the wake of a series of damning state inquiries into the extent of paedophilia in the clergy and subsequent cover-ups. Here are some of the main findings from the audit reports on each diocese and congregation.
— Audits Highlight Delays in Reporting Child Abuse
Bishops May Allow Lay People to Lead Services
The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) has welcomed proposals by the bishops that lay people could yet hold services in this country if there are not enough priests for every parish. However, the ACP has said it is a “huge negative” for Catholics not to regularly witness the consecration of the Eucharist.
— Church Says Lay Catholics Will Not Lead Sunday Services (Another perspective)
Ireland’s Papal Nuncio Calls for ‘Authentic’ Catholicism for the Future
Irish priest group asks him to clarify what that means. According to the Belfast Telegraph, in a homily on the final day of the Knock shrine novena in County Mayo, Papal Nuncio Archbishop Charles Brown, a New York native, said the church needed to be ‘authentically Catholic’ if it was to have a future. The Papal Nuncio’s comments were made just months after a nationwide clampdown by the Vatican on Irish priests who have challenged church teachings or articulated liberal views
The steady drift away from the influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland should not be seen as the onset of catastrophic meltdown but as an opportunity for the development of a more earth-bound Christianity. The persistent rage against the experience of Catholicism as power and control brings to the surface the place of personal responsibility and conscience in our lives. The great Christian philosopher and theologian, Thomas Aquinas, was in no doubt about the centrality of conscience, holding that if conscience and the church’s teaching were in conflict we must follow our conscience.
Did The Vatican’s New Envoy To Israel Help Shield Pedophile Priests In Ireland?
The appointment of Archbishop Giuseppe Lazzarotto as Papal Nuncio to Israel last week has sparked controversy in Jerusalem after it emerged that he was linked to the pedophile priests scandal that hit the Irish Catholic Church in 2005. The country’s biggest-circulation daily newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth, has referred to Lazzaroto’s appointment by Pope Benedict XVI “an embarrassment and humiliation for Israel.”
THE VATICAN, THE CARDINALS, & THE POPE
Cardinal Burke’s Sex Abuse Analysis Woefully Inadequate
Cardinal Raymond Burke has reportedly expressed his profound sorrow that “the failure of knowledge and application of the canon law … contributed significantly to the scandal of the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy in some parts of the world.” His remarks, as far as they go, reveal a serious misunderstanding of the deeper nature of the clergy sex abuse crisis. Not to face its larger and, in the eyes of many, more troubling dimension, is to make it all the more unlikely we will ever get beyond it.
— Cardinal Burke Links Sex Abuse to Disrespect for Canon Law (Background)
Taking Its Medicine Does the Vatican Some Good
“Be careful what you wish for,” as the saying goes, “because you will surely get it.” In light of a couple of recent Vatican stories, the corollary also seems to apply: Be careful what you try to avoid, because it might actually be good for you. A stringent European money laundering exam in July and a federal court ruling in Oregon this week both make the point.
Pope Calls Laity to Responsibility in the Church
Says a Change of Mentality Is Needed
Benedict XVI says the laity should be seen as truly “co-responsible” for the Church, and not just “collaborators” with the clergy. The Pope said this in an Aug. 10 message released Thursday (08/23/12) by the Vatican. It is addressed to the 6th Assembly of the International Catholic Action Forum. The five-day assembly is under way through Sunday (08/26/12) in Romania. “Co-responsibility requires a change in mentality, particularly with regard to the role of the laity in the Church,” the Holy Father said. Laity should be considered “persons truly ‘co-responsible’ for the being and activity of the Church,” he stated.
— Pope Says Laypeople Share Responsibility for Church
Lawyer for Pope’s Ex-Butler Quits over Strategy
A lawyer for the pope’s former butler resigned Thursday, just weeks before his client was due to go on trial for his role in the scandal over leaked Vatican documents. Attorney Carlo Fusco said by telephone that he had quit as Paolo Gabriele’s attorney over differences in defense strategy. He said the decision was taken jointly with Gabriele. It wasn’t immediately clear if Gabriele’s other lawyer, Cristiana Arru, would remain on as counsel; a message left at her Rome law office wasn’t immediately returned.
Vatican Whistleblower Warns He Is Not Alone in Fighting Corruption
Whistleblower charged with leaking sensitive figures says 20 others are doing the same. At least 20 whistleblowers are seeking to expose corruption and incompetence at the Vatican, according to the man who is to stand trial at the Holy See this autumn accused of stealing sensitive documents and leaking them to the press. Despite the widespread belief that Mr. Gabriele was a pawn in a larger conspiracy, only one other person, Claudio Sciarpelletti, a 48-year-old Vatican computer expert, has been indicted so far for the “Vatileaks” scandal.
Pope Suggests It’s Best to Be ‘Honest’ and Leave The Church If You Don’t Believe
In his Angelus address Sunday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of Judas’ betrayal of Christ, saying that Judas’ problem was failing to leave Christ when he no longer believed – a “falsehood”, said the Pope, “which is a mark of the devil.” According to Human Life International Rome Director, Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro, the comments are very relevant to the current situation in the Catholic Church.
OTHER HAPPENINGS AROUND THE WORLD
Gerry Murphy, Married Former Catholic Priest, Is Now Looking For Work
After three years in the priesthood serving a Catholic parish in Oakland, Calif., Murphy, an Irish-born Catholic, felt a tug in his heart. He wanted a family, but his vows of celibacy prevented that. Nationwide, about 80 Protestant clergy have left to become Catholic priests, according to research from Catholic University in Washington. Some Eastern Rite Catholic churches, which are loyal to Rome, ordain married men. And after 1980, the Vatican allowed Protestant clergy who converted to Catholicism to remain married to their wives. Once Murphy left the priesthood, he still wanted to be involved in ministry in some way. “But once you resign, you’re blacklisted from a lot of jobs,” within the Catholic Church, he said.