Archive for March, 2013

Montana Diocese Uses Mediation Rather Than Litigation in Sex Abuse Cases

Transparency Marks Montana Sex Abuse Lawsuit Mediation

A weeklong “global mediation” slated to begin April 15 in Seattle will seek a broad settlement for two comprehensive sex abuse lawsuits pending against the diocese of Helena, Mont., and the Ursuline Sisters. If the process is successful, at least two major goals would be met, attorneys for both the diocese and claimants told NCR. First, the diocese would avoid bankruptcy. Second, a significantly larger portion of any ultimate monetary settlement would reach claimants rather than be consumed by costly, extended legal maneuvering.” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

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Will Pope Francis Be ‘More Inclined to Embrace than Wag a Finger in Rebuke’

Editorial: Francis’ Election Full of Symbols, Signs of New Era

The symbols from the start were breathtaking. For a community whose narrative is woven deeply with symbols great and small, those advanced by Pope Francis since he stepped onto the balcony above St. Peter’s Square in a simple white cassock became more awe-inspiring as the days wore on.” Editorial in National Catholic Reporter

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Is Pope Francis Capable of Vatican Reform?

Five Tests of Whether Pope Francis’ Reform of the Vatican Could Be Real

As soon as Holy Week wraps up, hard questions will begin to be asked about whether Pope Francis is capable of delivering the reform in the Vatican that many cardinals believed they were voting for in electing him.” By John L. Allen, National Catholic Reporter

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Could Priestly Celibacy Change under New Pope?

In Praise of Priestly Marriage

Growing up in New England around a community of former priests who considered themselves in exile from the Roman Catholic Church, author Peter Manseau often heard of a mythical-sounding place where ecclesiastic strictures like celibacy were more flexible than they were in parishes closer to home: South America.” By Peter Manseau, Op-Ed Contributor, The New York Times

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We Pray Pope Francis Fulfills Vow to Serve Poor & Weak

Pope Francis Vows to Serve ‘Poorest, Weakest’ and Urges Leaders to Offer Hope

Striking a tone of radical humility that has already become his trademark, Pope Francis offered a passionate pledge in his installation Mass on Tuesday to serve “the poorest, the weakest, the least important,” urging world leaders to protect human life and the environment and use tenderness to inspire hope.” By Elisabetta Provoledo and Rachel Donadio, The New York Times

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What kind of Church can we expect from Pope Francis?

Pope Francis Signals New Course for the Papacy

Ahead of his formal installation as pontiff on Tuesday (March 19), Pope Francis was sending clear signals that he intends to lead a papacy markedly different from his predecessor — and perhaps different from that of any other pope in modern times.” By David Gibson, Religion News Service

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Pope Francis’ Inaugural Homily

Pope Francis: Homily for Inaugural Mass of Petrine Ministry

Dear Brothers and Sisters, I thank the Lord that I can celebrate this Holy Mass for the inauguration of my Petrine ministry on the solemnity of Saint Joseph, the spouse of the Virgin Mary and the patron of the universal Church … Let us never forget that authentic power is service, and that the Pope too, when exercising power, must enter ever more fully into that service which has its radiant culmination on the Cross. He must be inspired by the lowly, concrete and faithful service which marked Saint Joseph and, like him, he must open his arms to protect all of God’s people and embrace with tender affection the whole of humanity, especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison.” By Pope Francis

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“Jesus did not don gold cloaks”: the Future of the Papacy

“Jesus did not don gold cloaks”: the Future of the Papacy

Clericalism and its companion sins, insularity and arrogance, have long plagued the Catholic Church. Its most grievous manifestation in our time is the clergy sex abuse scandal and its decades-long cover-up by bishops, chancery officials, and the Vatican. To that toll can be added financial malfeasance, insistence on the second-class status of women in the Church, attempted silencing of legitimate theological expressions, indifference to the rights of lay people, and more.” By Donna B. Doucette, Voice of the Faithful Executive Director, Commentary on

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New Pope, New Church?

As the smoke clears from the top of the Sistine Chapel, the immense apparatus that is the Roman Catholic Church lurches forward under new leadership. Voice of the Faithful®, as a movement of progressive Catholics, is most interested in where it’s going.

“We hope Pope Francis will listen to the lay men and women in the 21st century,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president.

VOTF calls for the demise of clericalism, the attitude that clergy and hierarchy are set apart and above everyone else. Its most grievous manifestation in our time has been the decades-old clergy sexual abuse scandal and cover-up by bishops, chancery officials and the Vatican. It is interesting that Pope Francis reportedly abandoned many of the displays of clericalism when he was archbishop.

But added to the failures stemming from clericalism must be other failings: financial malfeasance that has implicated the Vatican Bank in money laundering, second-class status for women, silencing of legitimate theological expression and indifference to the rights of lay people. It remains to be seen how Pope Francis will act in these cases, if indeed he chooses to address these ills at all.

VOTF also prays that Pope Francis will seek accountability, first to provide justice for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and next with disciplinary action for bishops who have covered up abuse and for chancery officials who reported crimes to their supervisors instead of police.

Accountability also must extend to pastors and bishops who will not tell the faithful where their money goes. Financial malfeasance has been unearthed from parish rectory to Vatican Bank vaults—scandals that could be averted with proper transparency and monitoring.

VOTF calls for married priests. Celibacy, not even required of the Apostles, is another major component of clericalism, contributing to the mindset that clerics deserve special powers and privileges.

VOTF calls for local selection of bishops and has developed—and is practicing—methods that permit every lay person (and cleric) in a diocese to provide direct input into the selection of the next bishop appointed in that diocese.

VOTF and like-minded groups know reforming the Church is a difficult, lonely struggle requiring persistence. The growth of the Church reform movement, however, shows commitment to that struggle. More and more Catholics see the need to lend our voices to the Church that really is all the faithful.

“We persist because we must,” says Donna B. Doucette, VOTF executive director. “If we care about our Church, and we do, we have no choice but to seek improvements. We are always encouraged by our ultimate example, Jesus. He donned no red shoes or gold cloak and carried no jeweled staff. He welcomed all except those who sought profit and power. We are following His path when we raise our voices as lay people within the Roman Catholic Church. After all, Jesus was a layman, not a pope, or bishop or priest—a layman from Galilee.”

Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at

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Major Church Governance Reforms Needed Ahead of Conclave, Says Archbishop Emeritus Quinn

Former San Francisco Archbishop Calls for Papal Reforms ahead of Conclave

With the world’s cardinals set to choose a new pope, Emeritus Archbishop of San Francisco John Quinn on Saturday (Mar. 9) called for major church governance reforms, including changes in the papacy itself. “Media reports dealing with reform tend to focus on clerical celibacy and on the ordination of women and on the reform of the [Roman] Curia. … These are important topics, but it would be a mistake to stop there,” Quinn said.” By Thomas C. Fox, National Catholic Reporter

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