Archive for August, 2012

Priest Says Some Victims of Clergy Sexual Abuse Are Seducers, Then Apologizes

Priest Puts Blame on Some Victims of Sexual Abuse

“A prominent Roman Catholic spiritual leader who has spent decades counseling wayward priests for the archdiocese provoked shock and outrage on Thursday as word spread of a recent interview he did with a Catholic newspaper during which he said that “youngsters” were often to blame when priests sexually abused them and that priests should not be jailed for such abuse on their first offense.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

NY Priest Apologizes for Saying Priests Seduced by Kids

“A New York priest has apologized after coming under criticism from church officials and advocates of sex abuse victims for saying that priests accused of child sex abuse are often seduced by their accusers and that a first-time offender should not go to jail.” By Associated Press in The Washington Post

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Priest in Australia Charged with Hiding Clergy Sexual Abuse

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.” By Joanne McCarthy, the Sydney Morning Herald

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Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke to Speak at Voice of the Faithful Conference in Boston

Justice Anne Burke

Illinois Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, former interim chair of USCCB NRB, will speak at Voice of the Faithful’s 10th Year Conference in Boston, Sept. 14-15, 2012.

Illinois Supreme Court justice and child protection advocate Anne Burke will be the featured speaker during the first session of Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful’s 10th Year Conference, which takes place in Boston, Sept. 14-15, at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel.

The subject of her talk will be “Voice of the Faithful: Next Steps,” and her question for conference attendees will be, “How do we inform the laity that it is their responsibility to become leaders and equal partners in the administration of Christ’s Church?” She is scheduled to speak at about 7:15 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 14.

For more than two years, serving as interim chair, Justice Burke directed the efforts of the National Review Board of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops investigating the causes and effects of the clergy abuse scandal and helping to establish guidelines and policies for effectively responding to this scandal.

Justice Burke began her judicial career as the first woman appointed to the Illinois Court of Claims. During this time, she also led the reshaping and improvement of the Illinois juvenile justice system. She then served on the Illinois Appellate Court and was appointed, then elected to the Illinois Supreme Court.

Before her appointment to the judiciary, she was a leading advocate for Chicago’s most vulnerable young people. As a Chicago Park District physical education teacher, she worked with children with disabilities and went on to found the Chicago Special Olympics in 1968. She later served as a director of that organization as it grew to become the International Special Olympics represented in more than 160 countries.

Justice Burke has served on several boards and foundations impacting the civic, cultural and educational life of Chicago. She also ran a neighborhood law practice that included representing the interests of children and families involved in neglect, abuse, delinquency and parental custody. In addition, she developed a very diverse practice that included criminal trial work and defense advocacy.

Justice Burke will join other conference speakers who have in-depth knowledge and keen awareness not only of the Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal and its effects, but also of the clericalism in the Church’s hierarchy, theological and doctrinal underpinnings of Church teaching, the effects the reform movement has had on Catholics and the Church and what the future may hold for these issues. Speakers include:

  • John Morgan, chairman, National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland;
  • Rev. Donald Cozzens, author, international commentator and lecturer on religious and cultural issues, especially on the Church’s sexual and financial crises, and writer in residence, John Carroll University;
  • Prof. Thomas Groome, theologian, author and Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry chairman, Boston College;
  • Rev. James Connell, canon lawyer, pastor in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and advocate for clergy sexual abuse survivors;
  • Jamie Manson, lay minister and award-winning columnist for National Catholic Reporter; and
  • David Clohessy, executive director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Conference information is available at

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“The finances of the Catholic Church in America are an unholy mess”

“Of all the organizations that serve America’s poor, few do more good work than the Catholic church: its schools and hospitals provide a lifeline for millions. Yet even taking these virtues into account, the finances of the Catholic church in America are an unholy mess. The sins involved in its book-keeping are not as vivid or grotesque as those on display in the various sexual-abuse cases that have cost the American church more than $3 billion so far; but the financial mismanagement and questionable business practices would have seen widespread resignations at the top of any other public institution.” From “The Catholic Church in America: Earthly Concerns” in The Economist, Aug. 18, 2012

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The church’s deep pockets, the butler did it, and myths about atheism | National Catholic Reporter

National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen has some interesting statistics regarding the Church’s finances. Do you think they tell the whole story or provide a true picture of how money and power work in the Church?

The church’s deep pockets, the butler did it, and myths about atheism | National Catholic Reporter.

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SNAP Loses Appeal to Block Release of Internal Documents

“Following denial Tuesday (Aug. 14, 2012) of an appeal to the Missouri Supreme Court, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests will have to decide whether to comply with a local (Kansas City, Missouri) judge’s order to grant access to more than 23 years of internal documents to attorneys representing accused priests.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Voice of the Faithful was among victims’ advocacy and church reform groups and former and current local, state and federal prosecutors that filed amicus briefs with the court supporting SNAP.

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LCWR response offers new vision for being church | National Catholic Reporter

“In its response to the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith doctrinal assessment to their organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious Aug. 10 issued a statement reflective of its belief that life is a journey, and that if one responds affirmatively to risk-taking in a loving and generous way, albeit within the context of Great Mystery, then one is properly answering a call to participate in God’s plan for humanity and the wider creation process.” By Timothy C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter

LCWR response offers new vision for being church | National Catholic Reporter

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Message from LCWR Assembly: No Compromise on Mission

LCWR Will Continue Dialogue, But Not Compromise on Mission

(Aug. 10, 2012) The organization which represents the majority of U.S. Catholic sisters said Friday afternoon it would continue discussions with church officials regarding a Vatican-ordered takeover, but “will reconsider” if it “is forced to compromise the integrity of its mission.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Leadership Conference of Women Religious Decides Next Steps in Responding to CDf ReportLCWR press release at 2012 Assembly in St. Louis, Aug. 10, 2012

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Two to Receive St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award During Voice of the Faithful 10th Year Conference in Boston Next Month

Two Roman Catholic lay people will receive Voice of the Faithful’s® St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson of the Year Award during VOTF’s 10th Year Conference in Boston next month. This recognition represents only the fourth and fifth times in its 10-year history VOTF has presented the award.

The recipients are authors and educators Joseph F. O’Callaghan, Ph.D., Norwalk, Conn., and Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., Hempstead, N.Y.

The St. Catherine of Siena award recognizes exemplary lay leaders who enthusiastically use their gifts in the Church’s service and whose example encourages all Catholics to use their talents for the betterment of the Church.

“Catherine of Siena’s deep faith propelled her to care for those labeled as least in her society,” said Mary Freeman of Saunderstown, R.I., award committee chair. “Neither hardship nor schism, war nor persecution detained her from being about the Lord’s work. Through her convicted faith, she was an innovator who was led by the Spirit and an agent of change in the tumultuous events of her lifetime. The Church ultimately recognized her contribution by proclaiming her both a saint and a Doctor of the Church.”

Joseph O'Callaghan

Joseph O’Callaghan

O’Callaghan, an historian, educator, philosopher, lecturer, author and activist, has exemplified such service as a champion for the wounded and victimized. “As a founding member of VOTF in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., Freeman said, he personifies the virtues of courage and honesty, humbly speaking truth to power while seeking justice for survivors, support for priests of integrity and change in the hierarchical Church.”

O’Callaghan is a professor emeritus of medieval history at Fordham University, New York, N.Y., and former director of Fordham’s Center for Medieval Studies. He is past president of the American Catholic Historical Association and the Academy of American Historians of Medieval Spain. His articles have been collected in several volumes and have appeared in the American and Catholic Historical Reviews and several Spanish-language publications.

In his involvement with VOTF in Bridgeport, O’Callaghan has written “Who We Are and How We Came to Be,” a history of VOTF in the Bridgeport Diocese; “Bless Me, Father, For I Have Sinned,” a dramatization of court documents from priestly sexual abuse trials; and “Electing Our Bishops: How the Catholic Church Should Choose Its Leaders.”

“I am deeply honored to be a recipient of the St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award,” O’Callaghan said. “I want to share it, however, with my sisters and brothers of Voice of the Faithful in the Diocese of Bridgeport. Each one of them has unselfishly contributed his or her special gifts to the reform and renewal of the Church that we love. Everyone is essential to the well-being of the Body of Christ. No one’s gifts may be spurned. Let us pray that our bishops will soon realize that, by themselves, they are not the church. Let us pray that they will actively encourage all the faithful to share their gifts in the task of building up Christ’s kingdom here on earth.”

O’Callaghan’s nomination for the award read, in part: “We nominate Joseph O’Callaghan for the St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award because of his courageous and unflagging devotion to the suffering and the disenfranchised, to the Church he loves and to those whose faith is daily challenged by a Church out of touch with its people.”

Phyllis Zagano

Phyllis Zagano

Zagano, a theologian and public scholar, is an internationally recognized specialist in Catholic studies. Currently, she is research associate and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University, Hempstead, N.Y. She has worked, written and spoken widely in support of women in the Catholic Church. Among the 15 books in religious studies she has written or edited, Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church received the 2002 Catholic Press Association and College Theology Society Annual Book awards. She has published hundreds of articles and reviews in popular and peer-reviewed journals, and the Spanish-language translation of her best-selling book On Prayer: A Letter for My Godchild won a 2004 Catholic Press Association Book Award. She presently is preparing studies of women in the Church today and women religious monastic rules and is editing a series of anthologies on “Spirituality in History.” She also writes the column “Just Catholic” for National Catholic Reporter and is a founding co-chair of the Roman Catholic Studies Group of the American Academy of Religion.

“I have a deep devotion to Catherine of Siena, who is a model for all of us who hope for reform of corruptions in the church,” Zagano said. “Just as Catherine was a catalyst for ending the crisis of the Avignon captivity of the papacy, I hope my writing and speaking can help free the church as a whole from the devastating grip of scandal caused by a few.”

Zagano’s nomination for the award read, in part: “Dr. Zagano’s faith, courage and aptitude for unprecedented action against all odds demonstrate her hope that, in addition to speaking to ‘grassroots’ Catholics, she can educate the hierarchy regarding the historical reality of the ordination of women to the diaconate and its possibilities for the future. … Her rare and dedicated combination of deep personal faith, bold courage and unwavering persistence is forcing the conversation on behalf of all women in the world.

VOTF established the St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Lay Person Award in 2002, naming it after St. Catherine because she took effective action against corruption in the Church wherever she found it, undeterred by the difference between her humble origins and the high Church rank of the men she addressed. An outstanding example of this was her direct appeal to Pope Gregory XI to return to Rome and end the Avignon papacy (1309-1378). (Seven popes resided in Avignon during this time instead of Rome because conflict between the papacy and the French monarchy had resulted in subordination of Church power to the monarchy.) St. Catherine also is a noted theologian and Doctor of the Church and is well known for her mysticism and generosity to the poor.

VOTF’s 10th Year Conference takes place Sept. 14-15 at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel, Boston, Mass. The St. Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Awards will be presented following the banquet on Sept. 14. Information and registration is available at

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Nuns Meet to Weigh Reply to Vatican –

“With their leaders saying that they stand at a historic crossroads, more than 900 Roman Catholic nuns have gathered here for a four-day meeting to decide how to respond to a biting Vatican assessment that cast them as disobedient dissenters and ordered three American bishops to overhaul the nuns’ organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.” Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, Aug. 8, 2012

Nuns Meet to Weigh Reply to Vatican –

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