Archive for October, 2016
Editorial: The Church has earned our healthy skepticism / National Catholic Reporter
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Clergy Sexual Abuse, Voice of the Faithful on October 28, 2016
“… there is the matter of history and some fundamentals to the long and ugly narrative that cannot be ignored …”
New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan may have the purest of motives in designing the new compensation program for victims of clergy sex abuse. He must realize, however, that he is working against a history of activity, including his own, of members of the U.S. hierarchy that hardly inspires trust …
“The devil, in this instance, is in both the details and the larger context. Two details raise concerns for (Anne Barrett) Doyle (BishopAccountability.org):
- Victims are required to sign a legal agreement that appears to bind them to privacy and confidentiality.
- As part of the agreement, victims receiving an award agree, in releasing the archdiocese from future liability, not to sue the church in the future.
“That second point is important because of the context. The archdiocese is engaged in an ongoing and persistent effort to keep New York state from passing the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations allowing victims a longer time to sue following abuse … Dolan’s timely initiative could also be a legal strategy aimed at eliminating those who might make future claims against the church under a new law.
“If that appears terribly cynical, there is the matter of history and some fundamentals to the long and ugly narrative that cannot be ignored …”
By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
Want to see Catholic women preach? Soon you’ll be able to. / America magazine
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Future of the Church, Women in the Church on October 27, 2016
One of the more intriguing questions Pope Francis prompted earlier this year when he announced that a Vatican commission would study whether the early church had women deacons was: How would Catholics react to women preaching?
“Some Catholic women hope to find out.
“A new website called Catholic Women Preach will publish videos showing just that, Catholic women preaching. The reflections will draw from the church’s weekly readings. The women backing the project say they hope the videos will help Catholics deepen their faith and become more comfortable with the idea of women preaching.”
By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review — Click here to read the rest of this story.
San Diego diocese gets ready for synod on family life / National Catholic Reporter
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Amoris Laetitia, Future of the Church, Synod on the Family, Voice of the Faithful on October 27, 2016
A ‘tremendous synergy’ has been created by the concerns, insights, hopes and ideas shared by nearly 2,000 participants in parish grassroots listening sessions and follow-up working groups over recent months leading up to this weekend’s San Diego diocesan synod on marriage and family life, according to synod coordinator Paulist Fr. John Hurley.
“Focus of the gathering will be seeking consensus on ways to best address the pastoral challenges laid forth in ‘Amoris Laetitia’ (‘The Joy of Love’), Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on marriage and family released April 8.
“In a follow-up pastoral letter issued a month later, ‘Embracing the Joy of Love,’ San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy announced plans for a local synod to be held in the fall.
“‘A diocesan synod is the most significant level of dialogue, discernment and decision in the life of a diocese,’ McElroy explained in the letter.”
By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Pennsylvania legislators abandon bill to extend rights of child sex-abuse victims / Philly.com
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Clergy Sexual Abuse, Statutes of Limitations, Voice of the Faithful on October 26, 2016
“‘It’s disappointing,’ said John Salveson, a victim founder of the Foundation to End Child Abuse, an advocacy group. ‘I just don’t know what it’s going to take to get these legislators to do the right thing.'”
A controversial proposal to extend the civil statute of limitations for child sex-abuse victims appeared to collapse Tuesday (Oct. 24), after supporters said the House was unlikely to move an amended version of the bill or reintroduce the original measure. With little chance of its passing, they said, they will try to revive it when the Assembly reconvenes next year.
“With little chance of its passing, they said, they will try to revive it when the Assembly reconvenes next year.
By Maria Panaritis and Karen Langley, Philly.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
N.Y. cardinal’s new compensation program for victims will keep sex abuse hidden / National Catholic Reporter
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Catholic Bishops, Clergy Sexual Abuse, Voice of the Faithful on October 25, 2016
“While the fund certainly will help some victims, its biggest beneficiary will be Dolan and his management team. This is a legal strategy in pastoral garb, a tactic by the powerful archbishop to control victims and protect the church’s assets and its secrets.”
Cardinal Timothy Dolan is trying something new. After years of successfully opposing legislation that would give New York abuse victims more time to sue, he has launched a victims’ compensation program — a first for the New York archdiocese …
“The surprise move is winning the cardinal praise. The often critical New York Daily News commended him, citing his ‘remarkable moral courage.’
“As a researcher of the Catholic abuse crisis, I see his plan differently. While the fund certainly will help some victims, its biggest beneficiary will be Dolan and his management team. This is a legal strategy in pastoral garb, a tactic by the powerful archbishop to control victims and protect the church’s assets and its secrets.
“On its face, the plan is reasonable. A victim submits a claim form with documentation about rape or molestation by a priest or deacon. If deemed credible, the victim receives an award, which the archdiocese promises to disburse quickly — within 60 days …
“But there’s a catch — two catches, actually. Victims must sign a legal agreement to abide by ‘all requirements pertaining to privacy and confidentiality,’ and they must release the archdiocese from future liability — i.e., never sue it. (See section III, paragraph G of the IRCP’s Protocol webpage.)”
By Anne Barrett-Doyle, co-director, BishopAccountability.org, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.
Catholic priests, lay persons call for LGBT, women’s rights / WindyCityMedia.com
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in church reform, Future of the Church, Voice of the Faithful on October 25, 2016
“(Margaret) Roylance (of Voice of the Faithful) singled out clericalism (the elite Catholic hierarchy which seeks to control and maintain power) as a quintessential issue in the church.”
“‘To our brothers in the wider church, we are asking you to deeply listen to the women in your circle [and] in your communities,’ (Kate) McElwee (The Women’s Ordination Conference) stated. ‘In the spirit that invites transformation, we ask you to carefully reflect on male and clerical privilege and risk stepping out and acting courageously for full equality in our church. [It] has become an ever more broken body. We need to walk this journey together.'”
It was the unlikeliest of press conferences and a sign of times that are changing with unprecedented momentum even from within one of the world’s oldest religious institutions.
On Oct 20, in Arlington Heights, representatives from Catholic priest movements and lay reform organizations based across the world gathered to lay out a series of direct challenges to the Catholic Church on everything from women’s equality to LGBT rights.
“The announcement, also carried via a live global webcast, came at the conclusion of the third international conference of its kind during which 40 priests and lay persons from 10 countries—Argentina, Australia, Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Slovenia, Switzerland, United Kingdom and the United States—met for three days ‘to develop strategies for reform in the Catholic Church including the full participation of women in the Church, confronting clericalism and supporting LGBT Catholics.’
“Sam Bowns, an activist working on the restoration of women priests; William McGinnity, from the National Council of Priests of Australia; Margaret Roylance, of the Voice of the Faithful; Kate McElwee, co-executive director of The Women’s Ordination Conference; and organizer Markus Heil served as the gathering’s representatives.
“‘In this space we wrestled with the damaging effects of oppressive structures knowing that patriarchy and hierarchy hurt us all,’ McElwee said. ‘We discovered, time and again, that by sharing as equals and asking hard questions we can transform, ourselves, our church and our world.’
“‘One of the guiding principles of our assembly was unity in diversity,’ Roylance said. ‘Envisioning an active change in the church means appreciating our differences.’
“Roylance singled out clericalism ( the elite Catholic hierarchy which seeks to control and maintain power ) as a quintessential issue in the church …”
By Gretchen Rachel Hammond, Windy City Media.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
U.S. bishops vote likely to be seen as referendum on Pope Francis / Cruxnow.com
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Catholic Bishops, Pope Francis, Voice of the Faithful on October 24, 2016
As it turns out, the Trump v. Clinton showdown isn’t the only election of interest to American Catholics this fall.
“The U.S. bishops are also going to be voting for their own new leaders in mid-November, and in some ways their choices are almost certain to be read as a referendum on how the American hierarchy wants to position itself vis-à-vis the new winds blowing in the Church under Pope Francis.
“By tradition, a slate of ten candidates is nominated for the presidency and the vice-presidency of the conference, and they select both positions from among those nominees. The new president will replace Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, who’s served the usual three-year term.”
By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
All Victim Survivors Deserve a Full Measure of Justice
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Clergy Sexual Abuse, Voice of the Faithful on October 21, 2016
Statement from the Catholic Coalition of Conscience
on the Archdiocese of NY Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program
The Catholic Coalition of Conscience and its participating groups (listed below) welcome the announcement by the Archdiocese of New York of the formation of an “Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program” designed to help victim-survivors of clerical sexual abuse. Although such an initiative has been delayed for too long, as acknowledged by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, the effective implementation of this program could bring much needed aid to victim-survivors who have been denied justice by New York State’s Statute of Limitations (SOL) restrictions governing sexual abuse of children.
Mr. Kenneth R. Feinberg, the independent mediator charged with reviewing cases and making monetary awards, said in the press conference announcing the program that it would be a “model.” Having worked for SOL reform over several years in New York State in the face of strenuous opposition from the Catholic Church, the Catholic Coalition of Conscience respectfully asserts that this program will only be a “model” if it reflects five key principles:
Transparency: The workings of the program are governed by “protocols” which were reviewed and approved by members of its Independent Oversight Committee: former NYC Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Judge Loretta A. Preska and Dr. Jeanette Cueva, M.D. Presumably these protocols cover such issues as mandatory non-disclosure agreements. These protocols must be disclosed to the public, so that victim-survivors contemplating participation in the program can understand the ground rules under which it will operate.
Inclusion: If the aim of the program is to promote reconciliation, why have no members of the victim-survivor community been invited to join the Oversight Committee to help guide and shape the operation of the program? The commission on sexual abuse formed by Pope Francis includes victims of abuse; should not this archdiocesan program be at least as inclusive?
Generosity: The awards made by the program must be made public, so that the Catholic community at large can evaluate the fairness of the awards in light of similar settlements made by other dioceses and entities of the Catholic Church. The awards must be generous, given the many years that victim-survivors have had to wait before receiving any meaningful response from the Catholic Church. The program should also allow victim-survivors more than two months (to the end of January 2017, according to published reports) to decide whether or not to participate in the first phase of the program. Given Cardinal Dolan’s own admission that such a program should have been implemented long before now, a two-month deadline is demeaning to victim-survivors who face the complex and potentially irreversible decision on whether or not to participate.
Accountability: The names of any sex abusers and enablers who are identified as part of the program should be published. If accusations against these accusers are credible enough to merit monetary awards, the Catholic community of New York and the general public need to know the names of the abusers. Further, the Archdiocese of New York should renounce all opposition to SOL reform legislation in the State of New York. The new archdiocesan program in no way negates the need for comprehensive SOL reform, which is urgently needed so that all children can be better protected from sexual abuse, and all victims denied access to the courts by archaic SOL limits can have the opportunity to seek redress.
Reconciliation: The goal of the program must be to achieve true Christian reconciliation between victim-survivors and the Catholic faithful. This demands more than monetary awards. Victim-survivors have repeatedly said that what they want most is to be heard and not dismissed or feel violated anew by aggressive court proceedings. Church leaders and members must meet with victim-survivors who are willing to re-engage with the faith community, and listen to their stories with compassion and understanding. The damage done by sexual abuse lasts a lifetime; programmatic support for victim-survivors should be strong and ongoing, not a one-time event. Beyond monetary awards, the Catholic Church must humbly ask forgiveness in this year of mercy from victim-survivors and their families, including those who lost a loved one to suicide.
The Catholic Coalition of Conscience calls on the Archdiocese of New York and Mr. Feinberg to revise the operation and procedures of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program immediately in accord with these principles, so that victim-survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church receive the full measure of justice they deserve.
October 20, 2016
Call to Action Metro New York
Call to Action Upstate New York
Voice of the Faithful New York
Media Contact: Francis X. Piderit, Voice of the Faithful New York Leadership Team, 917-916-7575 (Cell Phone), PideritVOTF@piderit.com
Australian police complicit with Catholic Church in covering up clergy sexual abuse of minors / The Australian
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Clergy Sexual Abuse, Voice of the Faithful on October 18, 2016
The extent of Victoria Police complicity in covering-up child abuse by clergy in the scandal-plagued diocese of Ballarat has been detailed by former senior members of the force who shunned the influence of the so-called Catholic Mafia.
“An investigation by The Australian has confirmed extensive evidence of the force actively shielding wrongdoing and perverting the course of justice by forcing the transfer of a notorious clergyman rather than prosecuting him.
“The details of how the late Monsignor John Day abused hundreds of children in the 1960s and 70s but was protected by the force — and the church — are outlined in a new podcast examining the rarely-discussed fact that police worked with the church hierarchy to protect offenders like him.”
By Peter Hoysted and John Ferguson, The Australian — Click here to hear the podcast “Ballarat’s Children.”
Cardinals herald church’s changing season / National Catholic Reporter
Posted by Voice of the Faithful in Pope Francis, Vatican, Voice of the Faithful on October 18, 2016
“These (cardinal) appointments should dispel any doubt that a new season is upon us, one that expands our views of the peripheries in several ways …”
Rarely is change in the church proclaimed with any fanfare. The daily Vatican bollettini don’t announce policy changes; members of the Curia aren’t invited to seminars on ‘new directions’ for the church. Catholics are left to discern newness in other ways, like noticing the first hint of a changing season in the subtle alteration of sunlight.
“The light’s angle just became a little clearer with Pope Francis’ appointment of 17 new cardinals from 11 different countries, including three from the United States. These appointments should dispel any doubt that a new season is upon us, one that expands our views of the peripheries in several ways: in terms of geography, in terms of what sees are considered important, and in terms of how leaders think about and approach building the church in this era of Francis.”
By the National Catholic Reporter editorial board — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.