Archive for May, 2013

Reforming the Vatican may be like nailing jelly to the wall; nothing sticks, but it does leave a mark

Vatican Reform May Be Slow, Bit It Is Inevitable, by Dr. John C. Keng,

In a commentary published on May 1 on, Father William Grimm threw out a punch line title: ‘Reforming the Vatican is like nailing jelly to a wall.’ He is right to say that jelly will not stick to the wall; however, it will leave a mark. Does it matter? I think so. It adds to the momentum of the global outcry to wake up the most chronically nostalgic papacy in recent memory and bring up-to-date anachronistic Church teachings.”

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What could new USCCB doctrinal head mean to future theological debate?

New Doctrinal Watchdog: Theological Intervention Sometimes Necessary, by Joshua McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The new head of the U.S. bishops’ office that has in recent years attracted controversy for criticizing theologians has said he hopes to be in dialogue with those theologians but may sometimes have to make interventions to ‘make sure that the faith is being handed down intact.'”

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Bottom Line on Child Sexual Abuse

An editorial earlier this month in The Tablet puts a bottom line to child sexual abuse, while calling for a government inquiry in Britain similar to that taking place currently in Australia. Click here to read the whole editorial.

Pedophiles continue targeting young people because institutions allow them to do so. Sometimes those institutions were the ones to which the criminals belonged – the Catholic Church, the Church of England, the BBC – and which failed to act because those in charge were more concerned with the institutions’ reputations and the impact of scandal than with the pain of a child.” Editorial in The Table, May 18, 2013

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Chicago Jesuits Hid Sex Crimes / Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune religion reporter Manya Brachear writes today that records released yesterday show that the Church kept secret a priest’s sexual abuse for many years. Read the article by clicking here.

Internal church records released May 21 show that Chicago Jesuits consciously concealed the crimes of convicted sex offender Donald McGuire for more than 40 years as the prominent Roman Catholic priest continued to sexually abuse dozens of children around the globe.”

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Australian Archbishop Admits the Church Covered-up Clergy Sexual Abuse

Melbourne’s most senior Catholic has admitted the church covered up child sexual abuse, was slow to act against abusing priests and placed its own interests ahead of victims. Archbishop Denis Hart says a knighted former archbishop kept reports of sexual abuse to himself and that the church was keen to look after itself when addressing complaints, placing its reputation ahead of victims.” By Daniel Fogarty and Genevieve Gannon, The Sydney Morning Herald

Click here to read the entire article.

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Church Whistle-Blowers Join Forces on Abuse / The New York Times

Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times writes about a new group comprising priests and nuns who have blown the whistle on clergy sexual abuse predators and abettors in the Roman Catholic Church. Click here to read the entire article.

They call themselves Catholic Whistleblowers, a newly formed cadre of priests and nuns who say the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators. Although they know they could face repercussions, they have banded together to push the new pope to clean house and the American bishops to enforce the zero-tolerance policies they adopted more than a decade ago. “

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New Book Raises Voices of Roman Catholics Who Desire a Renewed Church

Voices: Telling Our Stories

“Voices: Telling Our Stories:” lets the voice of reformers themselves tell why and how Catholics firm in their faith, but disenchanted with their Church, turn to advocacy as a way to remain whole.

Only a courageous person would want to try reforming the Roman Catholic Church, a 2,000-year-old institution that practiced its liturgy in a dead language as recently as 50 years ago – and a persistently courageous person to keep trying for more than a decade.

A new book, Voices: Telling Our Stories, offers a look at some who exhibit such courage and shows in the voice of the reformers why and how Catholics who are firm in their faith, but disenchanted with their Church, turn to advocacy as a way to remain whole.

Widespread revelations about clergy sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in 2002 prompted a number of responses within and outside the Church. From those responses emerged Voice of the Faithful®, a reform group that rapidly grew into an international movement. Undaunted by the effort needed to move a two-millennia-old hierarchical institution, Voice of the Faithful® members supported survivors of clergy sexual abuse, supported priests who had spoken out for reform (and sometimes had been silenced) and sought ways to ensure a responsible lay voice in running the Church.

After a decade of media reports, sociological analyses and citations in thousands of news stories and books, Voices provides the words of the movement’s members themselves. These are voices of individual members who are full of hope and who continue working to break the Church’s silence, hold the perpetrators of scandal accountable and foster justice and healing for the Church.

These Voices are from faithful Catholics who, in many cases, are former or present parish Eucharistic ministers, religious education leaders and pastoral council members, or who otherwise serve centrally in parish life. They refuse to remain silent while their Church hierarchy protects itself instead of the weak and innocent.

Voices: Telling Our Stories reveals personally who Voice of the Faithful® members are, why they joined and remain a part of the movement, what being Catholic means to them, what they look for in their Church today and what they see in a reformed and renewed Church of tomorrow.

Voices: Telling Our Stories may be purchased online by clicking here and on

Voice of the Faithful®: 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 available at our website.

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Mahony Unbound / dotCommonweal

Retired archbishop of Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony has been presiding at Confirmations, apparently flouting present Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez’s censure in January. On Feb. 1, Voice of the Faithful® issued a National Statement saying VOTF saw “some slight, long overdue justice” in Gomez restricting Mahony’s public appearances for “abetting clergy sexual abuse.” Amid the flurry of media reports surrounding Mahony’s actions, dotCommonweal has posted the following from Grant Gallicho, which is a good overview of the situation with many links to other reports:

Remember how in January, after nearly a decade of legal filibustering, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles finally made public the priest-personnel files it agreed to release as part of a 2007 settlement with abuse victims, except the files were heavily redacted, and remember how those files contained damning memos detailing the lengths to which archdiocesan officials — including Cardinal Roger Mahony — went to shield abuser-priests from civil authorities, and how soon after those memos made news, Archbishop Jose Gomez garnered praise for announcing that Mahony would “no longer have any administrative or public duties,” and how several media outlets reported that Mahony had been “barred from public ministry,”except he really hadn’t, and then he took to his blog to dress down Gomez for “not once over these past years…[raising] any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors,” yet, as Mahony’s then-spokesman explained, he had “cleared his calendar of confirmation appointments this year”? Well, he’s doing them again.

Read the rest of Gallicho’s account by clicking this title, “Mahony Unbound,” which appeared on dotCommonweal this past Friday, May 10.

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USCCB 2012 Audit Shows Major Weaknesses Remain in Child Protection Process

The Catholic Church’s process for protecting children from clergy sexual abuse still has major weaknesses.

Annual audits assessing compliance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People still do not allow fully independent auditors complete access to all information. And auditors still are discovering weaknesses in compliance at the parish level. Everyone knows it, and no one is doing anything about it.

In a news release today, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops outlined the results of its 2012 annual diocesan audit, from which the folling is taken:

StoneBridge (Business Partners) cited limitations, including “the unwillingness of most dioceses and eparchies to allow us to conduct parish audits during their on-site audits.” It said that “the auditors must rely solely on the information provided by the diocese or eparchy, instead of observing the program firsthand.”

Another limitation is staff turnover in diocesan child abuse prevention programs. As a result, “records are often lost, and successors to the position are often placed in key roles without formal orientation,” StoneBridge reported.

Al J. Notzon, III, chairman of the National Review Board (NRB), which oversees the audits, echoed StoneBridge concerns in a letter to Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Notzon highlighted the importance of good record-keeping “and the great significance of involving parishes in the audit process.”

Voice of the Faithful® began calling for fully independent audits with full access to all information soon after the Charter was promulgated in 2002. And VOTF’s early child protection efforts saw the same problem of compliance in parishes cited above, where already overburdened staffs were hardpressed to assume the paperwork burden required by new child protection guidelines and programs.

That was more than a decade ago. Heightened awareness and attempts to create more secure environments may have made children safer, but while these discrepancies in the Church’s audits remain, what are we to believe when Cardinal Dolan says in USCCB’s news release, “We seek … to assure that our audits continue to be credible and maintain accountability in our shared promise to protect and our pledge to heal.”

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Pope Francis, Cardinal Marini and Clerical Careerism

Considering Pope Francis’ recent comments on clerical careerism, it’s too bad his Jesuit brother Cardinal Carlo Maria Marini isn’t around to consult with him. It seems they would be of the same mind. Here is a quote from Cardinal Marini from an article in The TABLET in 2008:

“Unfortunately there are priests that aim at becoming bishops, and they succeed. There are bishops who don’t speak out because they know they will not be promoted to a higher see, or that it will block their candidacy to the cardinalate.

This type of careerism is one of the greatest ills in the church today. It stops priests and bishops from speaking the truth and induces them into doing and saying only what pleases their superiors—something that is a great disservice to the Pope.

I could add that there is great vanity in the Church. Great vanity! One sees it in the dress. Cardinals used to have a six-yard-long silk train. But continuously the Church strips and redresses with useless ornaments. There is a tendency to show off.

I need to speak out about certain things. It’s part of the choice an elderly person makes. There are certain things I must say to the Church. We are called to be transparent, to speak the truth. We need a great grace to do this, but those that can are free.”

From The TABLET, 14 June 2008, as quoted on Richard Sipe’s website.

You may recall that shortly before is death in August 2012, Cardinal Marini stirred up quite a bit of controversy with an interview in The Independent where he said that the Church was “200 years out of date” and argued that, “Our culture has aged, our churches are big and empty and the church bureaucracy rises up, our rituals and our cassocks are pompous.” We don’t know for sure, yet, but we think and hope that Pope Francis would agree with this sentiment, too.

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