Archive for September, 2016

Bishop Bede Heather ‘destroyed’ documents: Royal Commission / The Sydney Morning Herald

The former Catholic Bishop of Parramatta Bede Heather has told a royal commission he destroyed documents relating to potential legal action against a paedophile priest.

“Bishop Heather told the public inquiry he destroyed documents because he was traumatised by a police search of his office as part of an earlier investigation into sexual abuse by clergy.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse heard Bishop Heather advised his lawyers Makinson & D’Apice of his actions in a 1996 letter.

“‘Following the police raid on our offices, shortly afterwards I took the precaution of destroying all papers of mine which could have been to the disadvantage of persons with whom I deal,’ he wrote in the letter which was partly read out before the commission.”

By Rachel Browne, The Sydney Morning Herald — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Abuse whistleblowers renew request for Vatican inquiry of U.S. bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“Eight months without a reply, Catholic advocates for survivors of clergy sexual abuse have hit resend on their request for a Vatican investigation into the abuse policies of U.S. bishops.”

The Catholic Whistleblowers mailed a second letter Sept. 1 to the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, addressed to its prefect Cardinal Marc Ouellet of Canada.

“The brief one-page letter summarizes and refers back to another letter the advocacy group sent at the beginning of the year. That first letter raised concerns that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was not fully implementing its zero tolerance policy toward abusive priests, and as a result putting children and communities at risk while also creating scandal in the church.

“Specifically, Catholic Whistleblowers argues the conference and its bishops have not reported all appropriate abuse allegations to the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and lack a mechanism to assure bishops pass such cases to the congregation at all.”

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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The Royal Commission has exposed a Catholic Church culture in desperate need of change / Newcastle Herald

During his evidence to the royal commission Bishop Bill Wright made the observation that he felt concentrating on events of 30 years ago was not a useful exercise, and it is more important to understand what is happening now with regard to child abuse and protection. The Commissioner’s response was to state that the community had asked for a royal commission into organisations and that this be done in the public eye.

“Understanding the history of abuse is vitally important to the health of the current community. Let me explain why.

“First, it is vital to bring to public knowledge the traumatic events that occurred across Catholic parishes and schools in the last 60 or so years …”

By Kathleen McPhillips, Commentary in the Newcastle Herald — Click here to read the rest of this column.

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Pope’s sex abuse panel scores awareness victory in Vatican / Associated Press

Pope Francis’ sex abuse commission has scored a victory within the Vatican: Members have been invited to address Vatican congregations and a training course for new bishops, suggesting that the Holy See now considers child protection programs to be an important responsibility for church leaders.

“Commission members praised the development as a breakthrough given that bishops have long been accused of covering up for abusers by moving pedophile priests from parish to parish rather than reporting them to police. For decades, the Vatican too turned a blind eye and failed to take action against problem priests or their bishop enablers.

“Commission members have already addressed the Vatican congregations for priests and religious orders and the Vatican’s diplomatic school. This week, members including Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins and the Vatican’s former sex-crimes prosecutor, Bishop Charles Scicluna, will address the new bishops’ course, which the Vatican hosts for all bishops named in the previous year to teach them how to run their dioceses.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Irish priest: Sex abuse victims lost to suicide could have been saved / National Catholic Reporter

“… criticizing the mentality of protecting the institution which dominated the church’s approach to child abuse in the past …”

One of Ireland’s best known priests, who is one of six clerics in the Irish church censured by the Vatican in recent years, claimed that a number of women who were sexually abused by notorious pedophile Norbertine Fr. Brendan Smyth, later committed suicide because of their ordeal.

“In an interview with the Irish magazine, Hot Press, popular BBC radio presenter Passionist Fr. Brian D’Arcy, says he personally knew ‘young women, who took their own lives because of what Brendan Smyth did to them.’

“Criticizing the mentality of protecting the institution which dominated the church’s approach to child abuse in the past, D’Arcy suggested these women ‘could have been saved, if it [the abuse by Smyth] had been reported earlier.'”

By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Women deacons, set in stone / Commonweal

“… the evidence for women deacons is on the literal rocks themselves, carved in marble or limestone, on chancel screens or tombstones.”

Those not predisposed to support women deacons in the present day often consider the initiative to be a recent, feminist, perhaps postmodern quest, an innovation unmoored from historical tradition. What often goes unnoticed in the discussion about women deacons, though, is how much of the ancient evidence comes from concrete archaeological discoveries.

“Advocates are not reading between the lines of history, creating things that aren’t there in the plain sense of some text. They’re not looking under every proverbial rock in hopes of finding a meager piece of evidence. No, the evidence for women deacons is on the literal rocks themselves, carved in marble or limestone, on chancel screens or tombstones.”

By Michael Peppard, Commonweal — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Are women within the Church getting paid the same as men? / CathNews.com

We need to ask ourselves if the pay rate or volunteer expectation of females within the Church is the same as a male. If the answer is ‘no,’ then is this morally acceptable, asks businesswoman Clare Burns in The Catholic Leader …

“Recently I became aware of a woman with two decades of experience at a senior level in industry, who regularly volunteers for a Catholic-based organisation, and has helped raise more than $50,000 for them.

“At a networking event the organisation’s chairman jumped tables to say he had ‘a great opportunity’ for her.

“This great opportunity turned out to be working two to four days a week for free with a number of responsibilities in a graduate-“level position.

“It is hoped this ‘oversight’ was an unconscious bias, rather than disingenuous.”

By CathNews from The Catholic Leader — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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In Amoris Laetitia, Francis’ model of conscience empowers Catholics / National Catholic Reporter

Some have called Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia, or ‘The Joy of Love,’ his reflection on the two recent Synods of Bishops on the family, a ‘love letter’ to families. We believe that Francis’ teaching on conscience in that letter is one of the most important teachings in the apostolic exhortation. As various church bodies announced plans about how to implement Amoris Laetitia, it is instructive to see how they will present Francis’ teaching on conscience.

“To spread the teaching of Amoris Laetitia though U.S. dioceses and parishes, the U.S. bishops have appointed a working group led by Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. The work of this group isn’t yet public, but Chaput has issued guidelines for implementing Amoris Laetitia in his own archdiocese.

“In the Philadelphia guidelines, which went into effect in July, Chaput comments on the indissolubility of marriage and admission to Communion for the divorced and remarried without an annulment. He noted that pastors have an obligation to educate the faithful, since ‘the subjective conscience of the individual can never be set against objective moral truth, as if conscience and truth were two competing principles for moral decision-making.’ The ‘objective truth,’ according to magisterial teaching, is that couples living in this situation are committing adultery and cannot receive Communion and that their subjective consciences must adhere to this truth.

“Chaput’s comment highlights theological debates in the Catholic tradition on the interrelationship between conscience and objective norms in moral decision-making …”

By Michael G. Lawler and Todd Salzman, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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Editorial: Diocese still closing ranks on child sexual abuse / The Tribune Democrat

Victims advocate Robert Hoatson said he sees a ‘dome’ of secrecy over the region of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown – a phenomenon that allowed priests to sexually abuse children for decades without fear of legal retribution.

“The diocese’s ongoing actions show that it remains intent on controlling the message surrounding the mistreatment of children – despite a March 1 report from the state attorney general’s office that accused 50 priests and other clergy members of abusing children in their care, protected by bishops who moved the offenders from parish to parish rather than exposing them to criminal charges.”

By The Tribune Democrat Editorial Board — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.

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