Archive for August, 2015
When Pope Francis visits the United States next month, U.S.-based Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful hopes this reform-minded pontiff will hear a wide spectrum of lay voices, particularly about healing wounds from clergy sexual abuse and holding dioceses financially accountable.
We applaud the steps Pope Francis has taken towards needed structural reform: addressing Vatican bank problems, overhauling the Vatican bureaucracy and appointing a council of cardinals outside the Curia as advisors. More importantly, we take hope in steps aimed at bringing justice to survivors and holding bishops accountable: approving a child abuse trial against an archbishop, accepting resignations from four bishops involved in the clergy sexual abuse scandal, accepting two more bishops’ resignations for financial malfeasance, establishing the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and setting up a tribunal to judge bishops involved in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
But VOTF sees discontinuities within this reform environment, principally two areas where lay voices can focus needed attention: healing wounds from clergy sexual abuse and shedding light on diocesan finances.
Despite decades of sex-abuse revelations, the Church’s response thus far has conspicuously lacked meaningful healing. So, VOTF is using the Healing Circle model of Restorative Justice to help all those harmed by clergy sexual abuse: the victims/survivors, their family members, faith communities, clergy and the Church itself. We are inviting Pope Francis to participate in a Healing Circle to experience its potential directly.
We also call on Pope Francis and all the faithful to see how the harms from clergy sex abuse will continue until past harm is addressed, all current abuses are exposed and future child protection is ensured. It’s not “over” until all three are accomplished. Directing bishops to take a pastoral approach to the settlement of abuse cases, rather than using legal weapons, would be one significant advance, as would the release of all relevant documents previously shielded and the immediate funding of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
Regarding diocesan finances, we note that Pope Francis has preached loud and long on the injustice of economic inequality, for example, in his climate encyclical and during his trip to Argentina. With that attitude, perhaps the Pope could endorse a system providing Catholics with a clear idea of where their donations go. As a step in this direction, VOTF has developed a public Internet database to help Catholics do just that, so they can help thwart malfeasance like theft, fraud, donations being spent for purposes other than intended by contributors and paying for sex abuse victims’ silence.
Pope Francis will be welcomed by millions during his U.S. visit, and VOTF would be pleased to see a papal nod toward these issues.
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 the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
The Associated Press is reporting from Rome that Jozef Wesolowski, the former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic was found dead in his Vatican apartment this morning. The Vatican press agency says it seems to be natural causes and that the autopsy results will be made public. Here’s the link for more information.
In a day of remarkable evidence before the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse, Bishop Geoffrey Robinson offered damning assessments of the most senior Catholic clerics on the planet. Pope John Paul II ‘handled the abuse poorly’ Cardinal George Pell was a ‘most ineffectual bishop’ and ‘the majority of the priests wished he’d get transferred somewhere else.’ Even Pope Francis is not providing ‘real leadership.’
“But his most chilling and telling statement about the Catholic church was the one he made about the church hierarchy’s response to revelations about child sexual abuse: “What we got was silence, so bishops were loyal to the silence.”
Commentary by Kristina Keneally in The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this column. Kristina Keneally is a Guardian columnist and 42nd premiere of New South Wales, who holds a Master’s degree in theology.
“Pope Francis was yet to show strong leadership on the issue”
Cardinal George Pell ‘destroyed the unity’ of the Catholic church’s response to child sex abuse, an Australian bishop has told the royal commission.
“Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, who played a key role in developing the Australian church’s response to child sex abuse, also said Pope Francis was yet to show strong leadership on the issue and one of his predecessors, John Paul II, responded ‘poorly’ to revelations of child abuse.
“Robinson worked with other bishops on an Australia-wide clergy response to abuse, Towards Healing, from 1994. When Towards Healing was close to finalization in 1996, Pell created the Melbourne Response, taking the country’s largest diocese out of a united response.
“Robinson said Pell, then the archbishop of Melbourne, created the rival program because he wanted to be seen as a leader on abuse.”
By Bridie Jabour, The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The U.S. Leadership Conference of Women Religious, meeting for the first time since the Vatican put an end to an investigation of the organization, had much to celebrate. It had survived intact, apparently free for the time being from further Vatican interference. The women expressed warm feelings toward those who helped them work through the crisis, particularly Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, who received high marks for integrity and skill at mediating the controversy.
“In our community of faith, there is no planning or accounting for grace or the movement of the Spirit, just an expectation that both infuse our lives and actions in abundance. At the same time, the tension in the serpent and dove analogy is also always with us.
“So we dare to note, amid the celebration and despite the salutary outcome of the LCWR investigation and the earlier investigation of U.S. women religious generally, that a number of institutional realities regarding the Vatican’s attitudes toward women remain unchanged.”
By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
If anybody ever doubted the necessity for an independent review into child protection procedures inside the Catholic Church in Scotland, every page of the McLellan Report published this week will correct that impression. The report is, in effect, a vote of no confidence in the Scottish bishops’ safeguarding procedures based on their performance so far. Its central charge is that the Scottish Catholic Church for years paid lip service to the need for child protection while the manner in which it treated survivors amounted to further abuse …”
“In such a clerical culture, which Scottish Catholicism surely was and in many ways still is, an abusive priest may well have thought that the powers-that-be would protect him to avoid a scandal. Too often he was right. The cultural reform that the McLellan report thinks is necessary to abolish the scourge of child abuse, therefore, goes far wider than this one issue. The leadership of the Catholic Church in Scotland has to become accountable to its members. That journey has hardly begun.”
Editorial in The Tablet — Click here to read the rest of this editorial
Today (Aug. 19), I kick off a series of columns that will set the table for the pope’s visit. Today (Aug. 19), I explore what I think is the over-arching theme of this pontificate, and tomorrow, I will examine how that one large theme plays out in six, smaller sub-themes. Friday (Aug. 21), we will dig down on what we can expect specifically from his talks – and more than the talks, from the gestures – in the U.S. Next week (week of Aug. 24) I will examine how the pope challenges both the Catholic Left and the Catholic Right.”
By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.
A high-ranking US Jesuit says he wouldn’t be surprised if Pope Francis ushers in an era of married priests in the Roman Catholic Church, and says the move would be healthy for the Church.
“‘I used to say, ‘Well, it will change but probably not in my lifetime.’ And then Pope Francis came along, and what I see him doing is opening the avenues for discussion,’ the Rev. Michael Garanzini, chancellor of Loyola University Chicago and the secretary for higher education for the worldwide Jesuits, told Crain’s Chicago Business on Monday (Aug. 18).
“He told the paper that the clergy abuse scandal spurred discussion of married priests and led to an ‘openness to a priest’s physical and psychological health.’
“Garanzini noted that the Catholic Church already has some married priests, most notably when married Anglican priests convert to Catholicism.”
By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Untraceable cash transfers and a culture of secrecy made the Vatican bank one of the world’s most notorious financial institutions. But Pope Francis’ attempts at reform are meeting ferocious resistance—At 6.30 on the morning of 28 June 2013–just three months into the reign of Pope Francis–officials of the Guardia di Finanza, the Italian law enforcement agency for financial crime, pulled up in front of a rectory in Palidoro, a quiet seaside town west of Rome. When they rang the bell, the cleric who came sleepily to the door was informed that he was under arrest. A few hours later, wearing a well-cut grey suit, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano was shown into a cell in the Regina Coeli, Rome’s most overcrowded prison.”
By Paul Vallely, The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The controversial investigations of U.S. women religious by the Vatican — and resulting tensions — stemmed largely from a ‘cultural chasm,’ the group’s president said Wednesday (Aug. 12).
“But that chasm is closing, she said, and a new era of communion seems to have begun.
“Immaculate Heart of Mary Sr. Sharon Holland, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, told the group’s annual assembly that behavior that is very normal for a woman in American culture — such as asking questions and thinking critically — might easily be perceived as disrespectful in another setting.
“Holland understands one of those settings well: She spent 21 years as a canon lawyer in Rome, where she was one of the highest-ranking women in the Vatican. Now vice president of her community in Monroe, Michigan, and in her final days as president of LCWR, Holland gave the presidential address Wednesday (Aug. 12) morning to the approximately 800 LCWR members gathered here in Houston. The organization is made up of Catholic women religious who are leaders of their orders in the United States; communities in LCWR represent about 80 percent of the nearly 50,000 women religious in the United States.”
By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report — Click here to read the rest of this story.