Archive for February, 2014
In another strongly worded message to the Catholic hierarchy, Pope Francis on Thursday (Feb. 27) told the Vatican body that vets nominees for bishops that they need to find him better candidates to send to dioceses around the world …
“The pope has blasted hierarchical “careerism” as “a form of cancer” and derided bishops who strut about in church finery as “peacocks.” He has called on bishops to be pastors who are close to the flock and not “airport bishops” who buzz around the world padding their resumes.”
By David Gibson, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.
What it (the Catholic Church) has not yet done is take steps to tell the full truth and to address the impunity of high church officials. On recommendation from his Council of Cardinals, the pope has announced he will appoint a special commission to advise him directly on best practices in handling sex abuse. To demonstrate resolve at the highest levels that zero tolerance is a permanent part of the church culture, the mandate of this new commission must also include establishing disciplinary procedures for bishops and chancery officials who obstruct or ignore the enforcement of church law on clergy sex abuse.”
Click here to read the rest of the National Catholic Reporter editorial.
He (Bishop Robert Finn, convicted in 2012 of failing to inform police about a priest with child pornography on his computer) is still the bishop of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese, in good standing with the Catholic Church.
“That, say former priests and victims’ advocates, represents the state of the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church today. More than three decades after the initial reports of abuse began to emerge, critics say that many bishops, who have authority over their areas of responsibility, known as dioceses or eparchies, seem more committed to protecting the church than preventing abuse …
“It’s difficult to estimate the full scope of the abuse crisis. While allegations first surfaced in the U.S., the problem has become a global one, with widespread reports of abuse emerging in Ireland, Spain, Germany, Italy, Latin America and elsewhere.
“In the U.S. alone, 16,787 people have come forward to say that they were abused by priests as children between 1950 and 2012, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the organization for the Catholic hierarchy in the country. Those figures are incomplete. The data excludes, for unclear reasons, any people who came forward in in 2003. The conference also counts only allegations it determined were ‘not implausible’ or ‘credible.’”
By Sarah Childress, PBS FRONTLINE — Click here to read the rest of this article.
Movement of Catholics Motivated by Clergy Sexual Abuse Scandal Gathers for 2014 Assembly in Hartford, April 5
Voice of the Faithful®, a movement of Catholics started in 2002 at the height of the Boston, Mass., clergy sexual abuse scandal, will hold its “2014 Assembly: Turning Talk into Action” on Saturday, April 5, from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford. Registration is $80 per person, and lunch is included.
Guest speakers will be John L. Allen, Jr., and Fr. Thomas Reese. Allen, associate editor for Catholic news and analysis at The Boston Globe and founder of the Vatican beat for National Catholic Reporter, will offer “Perspectives on Pope Francis and a Climate of Change.” Fr. Reese, National Catholic Reporter’s senior analyst, former associate editor of America magazine and author of The Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church, will discuss “Jesuit Spirituality.”
Six afternoon workshops, each presented twice, will help participants “turn talk into action”:
- Parish Level Financial Accountability: Tools for Securing Collections – What simple steps can be taken to secure Sunday collections from basket to bank and all points in between?
- Diocesan Level Financial Accountability: The Montana Hustle Case Study – How one Parish Finance Council doggedly pursued their bishop after their pastor misused funds and how new tools VOTF is developing will help monitor a diocese’s finances.
- Clericalism – What is clericalism and how are the signs recognized? Participants will learn how this primary obstruction to collegial lay participation in the Church could be removed.
- Priestless Parishes: There IS An Answer – How can the doors to optional celibacy be opened for a priesthood embracing the celibate and the married, so availability of the Eucharist is ensured?
- Female Voices – How can women change the equation in a Church that too often positions them only in a mother or helper role? Today’s realities and future potential will be discussed with four women who serve as pastoral associates and in ministry positions.
- Survivor Support: Spirituality & Trauma – Despite sexual trauma and clergy betrayal that leave scars that may involve rejecting church hierarchy and structure, the need for non-clerical spirituality continues, and Fr. Thomas Doyle will explore ways of healing and fulfillment.
An expert panel also will discuss Pathways to Healing and Reform, ways in which participants might help restore the Church. Panel members will include Fr. James Connell, canon lawyer and retired pastor who helped found Catholic Whistleblowers; Prof. Thomas Porter, trial lawyer, mediator, Methodist minister and teacher of restorative justice in Boston University’s School of Theology; and William Casey, coordinator of a restorative justice program at the Northern Virginia Mediation Service and former VOTF board chair.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful 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 www.votf.org.
You may be interested in this television news magazine story — “‘Secrets of the Vatican,’ a special, 90-minute FRONTLINE presentation premiering today, Feb. 25, that tells the epic, inside story of the collapse of the Benedict Papacy—and illuminates the extraordinary challenges facing Pope Francis as he tries to reform the powerful Vatican bureaucracy, root out corruption, and chart a new course for the troubled Catholic Church and its 1.2 billion followers.”
Click here to read: “Gag order imposed in latest trial of a priest,” by Joseph A. Slobodzian, The Philadelphia Inquirer, February 24, 2014
Excerpt: Prosecution and defense lawyers were barred by a Philadelphia judge on Monday from making public comments during the upcoming trial of Rev. Andrew McCormick, the Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy at a Northeast church in 1997.
View original post 5 more words
Pope Francis has approved a set of sweeping moves to reorganize the financial and administrative structures of the Catholic church’s central bureaucracy, creating a new central office with wide control particularly of economic issues, the Vatican announced Monday (Feb. 24).
“Sydney Cardinal George Pell will head the new office, known as the Secretariat for the Economy. Announcing the news in a statement, the Vatican said Pell would have ‘authority of all the economic and administrative activity within the Holy See and the Vatican City State.’
“Francis’ decision to reorganize the Vatican’s economic and administrative structures comes after criticism in recent years that its operations, especially in financial matters, occur in secret and with little public accountability.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Los Angeles’s Costly Lesson for the Vatican ($740 million spent on clergy sexual abuse litigation) / The New York Times
Pope Francis has been meeting this week with eight cardinals he selected to shape proposals for reforming the Roman Catholic Church. It is too early to tell what will result from an agenda that will range from Vatican finances to the recruitment of new believers. But the deliberations surely cannot afford to overlook the shocking price tag announced as a final figure that the Los Angeles Archdiocese paid to victims of child sexual abuse by priests.” (boldface added) Editorial in the New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
Also of note — “The $740 million the Los Angeles archdiocese has now paid to settle sex-abuse lawsuits is equal to about 2.5 times the total annual spending of the Holy See,” said Phil Lawler of CatholicCulture.org, when speaking about his recollection of a reflection by Jean-Marie Guenois of Le Figaro. “If you add legal costs and earlier undisclosed settlements, you might be able to run the entire operation of the Vatican for three years on the sum spent by the Los Angeles archdiocese to pay for the corruption of the clergy.”
The list symbolized all that victims believed was wrong about the Catholic Church’s handling of abuse claims — the secrecy, the failure to warn the public, the hidden offenders. Victims’ attorney Jeff Anderson received the list under court seal as part of a lawsuit in 2009. In December, a judge ordered the archdiocese to release the names to the public. The secrecy appeared finished.
“But it wasn’t. The list of 33 was incomplete. An MPR News investigation has found the actual number was more than double the archdiocese’s official count. The priests served in nearly every parish in the archdiocese.
They include men who admitted abusing children, such as the Rev. Gerald Funcheon, who testified under oath in 2012 that he had sexually abused a number of boys. ‘I couldn’t count ’em up,’ he said. ‘I’ll go, I don’t know. I’ll go to 18 … I can’t give you a number on this.’”
By Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Here is a follow-up story by Brian Roewe in National Catholic Reporter, Report Alleges Larger List of Abusive Priests in Twin Cities
Mater Dei Academy sits shuttered, blue drapes pulled across its windows, atop a hill in this working-class city. From its steps, you can peer across the mist-shrouded expanse of the Meadowlands to the distant spires of Manhattan.
“For generations, this blond brick Catholic elementary school tossed a lifeline to the immigrants who, wave upon wave, washed ashore here. The Archdiocese of Newark closed it two years ago. Church officials offered deep regrets; the church’s wallet is thin to the touch these days.
‘It was a loved place, that school,’ said Dorothy Gawronski, a crossing guard holding a red ‘Stop’ sign.’But the church, I don’t think it’s rich anymore.’
“All of which brings me along a winding and narrow road that switches back and forth across the wooded Capoolong Creek to a splendid 8.5-acre spread in the hamlet of Pittstown. This is rural and rather affluent Hunterdon County, 49 miles from Mater Dei.
“John J. Myers, the archbishop of the Newark Archdiocese, comes to this vacation home on many weekends. The 4,500-square-foot home has a handsome amoeba-shaped swimming pool out back. And as he’s 72, and retirement beckons in two years, he has renovations in mind. A small army of workers are framing a 3,000-square-foot addition.”
By Michael Powell, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this article.