Archive for November, 2013

Future of the Church? Apostolic Exhortation Amounts to Francs’ ‘I Have a Dream’ Speech / National Catholic Reporter

Dreams can be powerful things, especially when articulated by leaders with the realistic capacity to translate them into action. That was the case 50 years ago with Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous ‘I Have a Dream’ speech, and it also seems to be the ambition of Pope Francis’ bold new apostolic exhortation, ‘ The Joy of the Gospel.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of Allen’s analysis.

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No Clear ‘Pope Francis Effect’ among U.S. Catholics / Pew Research Center

In the first eight months of his pontificate, Pope Francis has impressed, charmed and inspired many people around the world with his outreach to non-Christians, his statements of concern for the poor and disabled, and his personal humility. At the same time,
other Catholics have expressed dismay
over the pope’s statements about homosexuality and his remarks that the church is “obsessed” with some social issues … But has the pope’s popularity produced a Catholic resurgence in the U.S., where 10% of adults are former Catholics? Not so far, at least in terms of the share of Americans who identify as such, or the share of those who report attending Mass weekly.” By Conrad Hackett, Pew Research Center Fact Tank — Click here to read Hackett’s entire article.

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Vatican Abuse Prosecutor Says Rome ‘Well Aware’ of Accountability Problem / National Catholic Reporter

“The Vatican’s top prosecutor for sex abuse cases says Rome is “well aware” of how frustrated many people are with perceived confusion about how to hold bishops accountable when they’re accused of failing to make a “zero tolerance” policy stick and hopes a solution will emerge from debates over curial reform under Pope Francis.” By John L. Allen, Jr., National Catholic Reporter

Click here to read the rest of Allen’s article.

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Archdiocese Removes Father Paul From Ministry Without Announcement

Catholics4Change

by Susan Matthews

First Father Paul resigned from Our Lady of Calvary, where he remained as pastor while under investigation and review for two allegations of child sex abuse. A week later, without announcement, the archdiocese temporarily removed his faculties and he will not be able to celebrate Mass in public pending the outcome of the canonical investigation. This has been confirmed by an archdiocesan official. The only reason we discovered Father Paul’s removal is because Kathy Kane monitors the clergy list for just such changes.

– Why, after leaving him as pastor during much of the investigation, remove him from ministry now?

– Why wasn’t there a public announcement of this removal? Other victims might be prompted to come forward.

– Do the parishioners of Our Lady of Calvary know Father Paul has been temporarily removed from ministry? The families were not informed of the allegations until he resigned…

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Synod Questionnaire an Opportunity to Hear from the People / National Catholic Reporter

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.

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Lay Groups Launch Surveys to Answer Vatican Questionnaire / National Catholic Reporter

While U.S. bishops consider how best and how broad to collect information ahead of a 2014 global bishops’ meeting on family issues, several lay Catholic groups took the task into their own hands. In mid-November, a coalition of 15 church reform groups (including Voice of the Faithful) — primarily members of Catholic Organizations for Renewal — created an online survey for U.S. Catholics to offer their thoughts on the preparatory document to the 2014 Synod of Bishops, which will focus on the theme of ‘pastoral challenges to the family in the context of evangelization.’” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Read the rest of Roewe’s report by clicking here.

Additional information on gathering input from the faithful in preparation for past synods can be found in NCR’s Joshua McElwee’s article “Experts: Wide-Range Listening for Synods a Massive Undertaking.” Click here to read the article.

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Pope Francis Acknowledges Theologians’ Statement on Authority in the Church

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.

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Australian Priests Asked to Read at Mass A Statement of Commitment on Child Sexual Abuse

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. 1. Sexual abuse of a child by a priest or religious is a crime under Australian law and under canon law.
  2. 2 Sexual abuse of a child by any Church personnel, whenever it occurred, was then and is now indefensible.
  3. 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. 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. 5 The Church acknowledges that many victims were not believed when they should have been.
  6. 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. 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. 8 In such ways, Church leaders betrayed the trust of their own people and the expectations of the wider community.
  9. 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

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Opposition Grows to Power for Bishops’ Conferences

The might be a good time, that is, the day after the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected new leaders, to reflect on some of the deliberations during Vatican II regarding bishops’ conferences.

Vatican II: 50 years ago today

66th General Congregation
November 13, 1963

With the council speech of Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York, which opposed giving juridical powers to national conferences of bishops, all four U.S. cardinals present in Rome had spoken on the issue.

Earlier James Francis Cardinal McIntyre of Los Angeles had also opposed the idea, Joseph Cardinal Ritter of St. Louis favored it, and Albert Cardinal Meyer of Chicago favored it within certain limits. Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston is not in Rome.

Cardinal Spellman was high in his praise of the usefulness of national episcopal conferences but expressed his belief that it would not be advisable to give them authority to issue decisions which would be juridically binding on all individual bishops. He spoke as the council continued discussion of the schema on bishops and diocesan government. He said:

“Each bishop must remain free in his diocese, even though he be morally…

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Australian State of Victoria Releases Report on Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse

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:

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