Archive for September, 2016
Doctrinal congregation convokes meeting on role of women in the church / Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
Leaders of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spent three days in late September listening to women theologians, canon lawyers, Scripture scholars and specialists in other academic fields talk about roles women have played in the Catholic church and roles they could play in the future.
“After the symposium Sept. 26-28 was over, the congregation issued a brief statement outlining the topics discussed and listing the women who made formal presentations. The congregation said the papers will be published at a later date.
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller, prefect of the doctrinal congregation, opened the meeting, which involved about 50 people, mostly women, and officials and consultants to the congregation, the statement said.
“The theme of “the role of women in the church” was explored first by looking at “the definition of the feminine vocation in Catholic tradition,” and proceeded to a discussion about concrete roles women have played and can play within the church.”
By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
When Pope Francis ascended to the chair of St. Peter in March 2013, the world looked on in wonder. Here at last was a pope in line with the times, a man who preferred spontaneous gestures to ritual forms. Francis paid his own hotel bill and eschewed the red shoes. Rather than move into the grand papal apartments, he settled in the cozy guesthouse for visitors to the Vatican. He also set a new nondogmatic tone with statements like ‘Who am I to judge?’
“Observers predicted that the new pope’s warmth, humility and charisma would prompt a ‘Francis effect’ — bringing disaffected Catholics back to a church that would no longer seem so forbidding and cold. Three years into his papacy, the predictions continue. Last winter, Austen Ivereigh, the author of an excellent biography of Pope Francis, wrote that the pope’s softer stance on communion for the divorced and remarried ‘could trigger a return to parishes on a large scale.’ In its early days, Francis’ Jesuit order labored to bring Protestants back into the fold of the church. Could Francis do the same for Catholics tired of headlines about child abuse and culture wars?
“In a certain sense, things have changed …”
By Matthew Schmitz, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.
By now it should be clear.
“Pope Francis really believes there is a serious lack of quality among priests and bishops in the Catholic church. Otherwise, he would not talk so often about the negative traits of certain men in ordained ministry, as he’s done again several times in recent days.
“‘The world is tired of lying charmers and — allow me say — of ‘fashionable’ priests or ‘fashionable’ bishops,’ the pope said on Sept. 16 to a group of 94 bishops consecrated in the last two years for dioceses in mission territories.
“‘The people ‘scent’ — the People of God have God’s ‘scent’ — the people can ‘scent’ and they withdraw when they recognize narcissists, manipulators, defenders of personal causes and standard bearers of worthless crusades,’ the pope warned the so-called ‘baby bishops,’ who were in Rome for a training seminar.
“He also cautioned them about too easily accepting seminarians or incardinating already ordained priests into their dioceses …”
By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article
Echo criticism of clericalism often made by Pope Francis
The Episcopal Commission for Doctrine of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) has released a new document entitled The Co-responsibility of the lay Faithful in the Church and the World.
“This pastoral letter explores the great responsibility of the laity in God’s plan for the world, in which they are not simply collaborators of the clergy but are truly “co-responsible” for the Church’s being and acting …”
- Click here to see this story on Zenit.org.
- Printed copies of the document are on sale from CCCB Publications (or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org).
- Click here for a PDF of the CCCB’s The Co-responsibility of the Lay Faithful in the Church and the World.
- Click here to see Voice of the Faithful’s document Responsibilities & Rights of the Laity.
The only abuse survivor currently serving on a panel set up by Pope Francis to fight clerical sexual abuse says the Catholic Church is making good progress and welcomed changes initiated by the Vatican and the pontiff.
Marie Collins, who was raped at age 13 by a hospital chaplain in Ireland, is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.
“‘I have complained about slowness and frustration in the past,’ Collins told RNS this week. ‘From my point of view as a survivor, I would like everything to happen tomorrow.’
But, she continued, ‘We have had some really positive moves.'”
By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.
“… the most wide-ranging criminal investigation ever into the scandal in the United States.”
In compelling Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses to turn over as much as 70 years’ worth of records on sexually abusive priests, the state Attorney General’s Office is mounting what could be the most wide-ranging criminal investigation ever into the scandal in the United States.
“And if history is any guide – in particular, the history of the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, which was the subject of the initial two-year grand jury investigation that mushroomed into the statewide probe – here are a few things to expect in the coming months or years …”
By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, on Philly.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The importance of bishops to a local church cannot by overstated, so the selection of bishops is a major issue for the laity. Pope Francis is equally concerned about the qualities bishops possess. He has talked about bishop selection many times during his papacy and most recently when he addressed a meeting of papal nuncios from around the world on Sept. 17. He said, in part, in a Holy See press office extract:
The selection of future bishops is a great concern of mine. Speaking with the Congregation for Bishops some time ago, I outlined the profile of the Pastors that I consider necessary for today’s Church: witnesses of the Risen Christ and not bearers of a curriculum vitae; praying bishops, familiarised with things ‘from above’ and not crushed by the weight of what is ‘below’; bishops able to enter with patience in God’s presence, so as to possess the freedom not to betray the Kerygma entrusted to them; bishops who are pastors, not princes or officials. … You are the first to have to scrutinise the fields to see where the little Davids are hidden. They are there, God will not let them be lacking. … You must go out and search for them. … You must cast your nets out widely. You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding ground of ‘friends of friends’. At stake is trust in the Lord of history and of the Church, Who never neglects their true good.”
Voice of the Faithful shares the pontiffs concerns for the quality of our bishops, and of course, is interested in the widest possible lay input into bishop selection. In a letter to Pope Francis only a few months after his election, VOTF asked him “to restore to all the laity and clergy of a diocese a formal role in the process of recommending candidates for their bishop to you prior to your appointment of him.” Enclosed with the letter was the VOTF document, “Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for Bishop.”
You can read about VOTF’s letter to the Pope and our proposal for including the laity in the selection of local bishops by visiting votf.org and clicking on Bishop Selection under the Programs button on the home page. You also can learn there about VOTF’s web portal votf.org/bishop where any Catholic in a diocese may make recommendations about the new bishop that are forwarded directly to the U.S. papal nuncio’s email box.
Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai has urged Pope Francis to remove Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron as head of the Archdiocese of Agana because of gravely serious allegations of sex abuse of altar boys.
“‘I want you to know that I am in Rome to urge the Holy See to remove Archbishop Apuron as archbishop of Agana and to appoint a successor,’ Hon said in his two-page statement. ‘I can assure you that the gravely serious allegations against Archbishop Apuron will continue to be dealt with by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which will hold a canonical trial. His Holiness, Pope Francis, is monitoring the proceedings.’
“Pope Francis temporarily stripped Apuron of his administrative powers over the Catholic church on Guam and temporarily replaced him with Hon on June 6.”
By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific News Daily — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Sept. 16, 2016 – Pundits were once again this week debating the effectiveness of Pope Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, as news spread that commission members have been speaking with new bishops and Vatican offices about child protection best practices. Voice of the Faithful believes this action is another step in the slow progress of Francis’ papacy toward dealing with the clergy sexual abuse scandal, while not yet the substantial steps needed.
Pope Francis has repeatedly condemned abuse, including bishops who cover up or enable abusers continued access to children. He has often slammed clericalism in the Church, which VOTF has long said is a major factor in the scandal. In early 2014, he set up his child protection commission to develop best practices and to educate the Church about them. This past June, he promulgated an apostolic letter that expanded “grave reasons” for removal from ecclesiastical office to include “negligence of bishops in the exercise of their office, in particular in relation to cases of sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults.” This motu proprio also empowered several Vatican dicasteries to investigate allegations against bishops, initiate removal, and report to him. Previously, only the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith handled abuse cases.
The child protection commission also reported this week that members have long been talking with and educating clergy about preventing sexual abuse of children. Their new initiatives include a training program for bishops and a template to help bishops’ conferences and Catholic associations prevent and deal with abuse.
Demonstrating just how desperately bishops need such help, the Catholic Whistleblowers, a network of clergy, religious and laypeople who have reported or support reporting abuse, this week sent a follow-up letter to the Vatican requesting investigation of the U.S. bishops’ abuse policies. They sent the first letter nine months ago and have yet to receive a reply, and apparently none of the bishops investigations they requested more than a year ago have been initiated.
For nearly 15 years, VOTF has sought changes in Church structures to better protect children. No one can tell yet whether these initiatives by the Pope’s commission are the beginnings of such structural change, but in VOTF’s experience, constant, continuing vigilance will be required until such change is achieved.
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. For more information, www.votf.org, or call (781) 559-3360
The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office is looking into allegations of abuse by priests in the Allentown Diocese as part of a bigger statewide investigation, a lawmaker who was called to testify told The Morning Call on Thursday (Sept. 15).
“The Harrisburg Diocese also is under investigation.
‘I can acknowledge that the Diocese of Harrisburg has received a subpoena from the state grand jury,’ spokesman Joe Aponick said Thursday.
“State prosecutors have been taking testimony in Pittsburgh for months in a wide-ranging investigation that started with a scathing March report detailing allegations of abuse by about 50 priests and other religious leaders in the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese and a cover-up by church officials. It’s not clear how many of the state’s eight dioceses are being investigated.”
By Steve Esack, Peter Hall and Matt Assad, The Morning Call — Click here to read the rest of this story.