Archive for March 9th, 2012

Voice of the Faithful Sees Victory for Laity in Vatican Reversal of Cleveland Church Closings

The Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful sees a clear victory for the lay voices in our Church in the Vatican’s reversal earlier this week of church closings in the Cleveland Diocese.

Many resolute Catholic lay people in the Cleveland area have been battling the closing of 50 area churches in 2009 and 2010. Thirteen of the churches filed appeals with the Vatican, and the Vatican’s decree this week, rare but not unprecedented, completely reversed Bishop Richard Lennon’s order to close those churches. The Vatican ruled that Lennon had “erred procedurally and substantively” in issuing the closing order, according to an attorney representing some of the closed churches.

“We see this as a clear cut victory for the rights of lay Catholics who feel that their voices should count when the hierarchy makes decisions about their parishes. Parish churches, although they may not legally belong to parishioners, are certainly their spiritual homes, shelters for their faith, and part of their Catholic identity for themselves and for generations of family, friends and brothers and sisters in Christ,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president.

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Voice of the Faithful Members Pray for Leaders Like Archbishop Martin

When members of Voice of the Faithful® pray for shepherd leaders, they pray for more Diarmuid Martins, the archbishop of Dublin, Ireland. We listened with interest to his interview on CBS-TV News’ 60 Minutes, Mar. 4.

Martin showed during the interview that he:

  • Has faced the truth about clergy sexual abuse and is not afraid to admit it out loud.
    • “You’ve said the Church in Ireland has reached a breaking point,” said correspondent Bob Simon. “It has reached a breaking point,” Martin said. “To what extent do you think the crisis in the Church is due to the sexual scandals,” Simon asked. “Oh, enormously,” Martin answered.
  • Grasps the dimensions of the scandal and is not afraid to act.
    • Martin provided Ireland’s Murphy Commission, which investigated clergy sexual abuse, more than 65,000 documents the Church had locked away. Those documents revealed the enormous breadth of the problem. Just two examples from those documents—One priest admitted sexually abusing children twice a month for 25 years and another admitted abusing more than 100 children. Martin said he believes “thousands of children suffered similar fates.”
  • Knows stopping the scandal will require an understanding not only about child sex abuse, but also how the abuse is about power.
    • “It isn’t just, you know, the actual sexual acts, which are horrendous,” Martin said, “but sexual abuse of a child is—it’s a total abuse of power.” In effect saying to a child, “I control you,” “you are worthless.”
  • Understands the pain clergy sexual abuse causes, and responds compassionately.
    • What do you say to a child who has been abused, Simon wanted to know. Martin said he does not see them until they are grown men, and then, “I don’t say much. I listen.” He said he imagines them when they were young. Like a man who said he was raped as an 8-year-old boy, and as he described a visit to 8-year-olds at a school Martin had to choke back his sobs.
  • Recognizes the Church must reconcile itself to clergy sexual abuse survivors.
    • Last year, Martin officiated with Cardinal Sean O’Malley, archbishop of Boston, in a Mass of atonement, something the Church in Ireland had never done before. He has apologized repeatedly for the way in which the Church has handled the scandal and has handled survivors.
  • Sees protection of children as lifelong pursuit.
    • “There’s still a long path to journey in honesty before we can truly merit forgiveness,” he said, and he cautioned those who believe the scandal is over. “It isn’t over. Child protection and the protection of children is something [that] will go on—for—for—you know, for the rest of our lives and into the future because the problems are there.”

Martin is rare among the Church’s leading clerics, and the Church’s hierarchy could use more like him.

To view Archbishop Martin’s 60 Minutes interview, click here.

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