Did the Vatican originally intend that the questionnaire to gather input for the 2014 Extraordinary Synod on the Family be distributed to all Catholics? Did Pope Francis? Did the bishops? Do we discover something about where the Church might be going under Pope Francis by determining the answers. To help answer the questions, read the National Catholic Reporter editorial from which the following was taken:
Since the synod documents became public, ‘NCR’ has had conversations with a number of people with extensive contacts in the Vatican and who have observed quite a few synods over the years. The consensus among this group is that the process is different this time. While all synods and other Vatican-sponsored consultations use surveys and questionnaires and ask local bishops for input, this time the questions really seem to matter, they say. The questions matter because Francis wants to hear the answers, they say.”
Click here to read the entire editorial.
In what may well be an unprecedented response by a Pope to a request from a non-hierarchical source, Pope Francis has acknowledged receiving the “Catholic Scholars’ Declaration on Authority in the Catholic Church” from a group of theologians.
Archbishop Giovanni Angelo Becciu, Substitute for General Affairs, the Pope’s personal secretary, wrote to thank John Wijngaards, professor emeritus of the Missionary Institute London, for sending the statement, “whose contents have been seen with due interest.”
Wijngaards was among the original group of theologians who recently sent the Pope the declaration, which to-date has been signed by 214 academic sponsors and nearly 2,500 co-signers.
Yesterday, we posted links to news regarding the release of a Victoria, Australia, parliamentary inquiry report that castigated the Church for “horrific sexual abuse cover-ups.” The Catholic Church in Australia issued a statement yesterday which said, in part, that the “whole Church in Australia is deeply ashamed.” Below is the statement that priests were instructed to read to their congregations:
COMMITMENT STATEMENT FROM LEADERS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN AUSTRALIA
The Catholic Church in Australia, in its submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse and in its communications with both the Catholic and broader communities has made the following commitment:
The leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia recognize and acknowledge the devastating harm caused to people by the crime of child sexual abuse. We take this opportunity to state:
- 1. Sexual abuse of a child by a priest or religious is a crime under Australian law and under canon law.
- 2 Sexual abuse of a child by any Church personnel, whenever it occurred, was then and is now indefensible.
- 3 That such abuse has occurred at all, and the extent to which it has occurred, are facts of which the whole Church in Australia is deeply ashamed.
- 4 The Church fully and unreservedly acknowledges the devastating, deep and ongoing impact of sexual abuse on the lives of the victims and their families.
- 5 The Church acknowledges that many victims were not believed when they should have been.
- 6 The Church is also ashamed to acknowledge that, in some cases, those in positions of authority concealed or covered up what they knew of the facts, moved perpetrators to another place, thereby enabling them to offend again, or failed to report matters to the police when they should have. That behavior too is indefensible.
- 7 Too often in the past it is clear some Church leaders gave too high a priority to protecting the reputation of the Church, its priests, religious and other personnel, over the protection of children and their families, and over compassion and concern for those who suffered at the hands of Church personnel. That too was and is inexcusable.
- 8 In such ways, Church leaders betrayed the trust of their own people and the expectations of the wider community.
- 9 For all these things the Church is deeply sorry. It apologises to all those who have been harmed and betrayed. It humbly asks for forgiveness.
The leaders of the Catholic Church in Australia commit ourselves to endeavour to repair the wrongs of the past, to listen to and hear victims, to put their needs first, and to do everything we can to ensure a safer future for children.
First published in the Truth Justice and Healing Council’s Towards Healing submission to Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, September 2013
Truth Justice and Healing Council
PO Box 4593 KINGSTON ACT 2604 | Tel: +61 2 6234 0900 | Fax: +61 2 6234 0999
The Catholic Church figures prominently in the Australian state of Victoria’s report released today on the Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and other Non-Government Organizations.
As an indication of the impact of the inquiry, the news coverage is too extensive even to list a sampling, but click here for a Google round-up of stories about its investigation and results. One of the most recent stories, Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse Prompts Push to Make Abuse Silence a Crime, reports, “Horrific sexual abuse cover-ups by the Catholic Church has led to a parliamentary committee recommending new offences for grooming children and failing to report crimes.”
As you might expect, the report is rather lengthy, but here are links to the executive summary and both volumes: