Archive for category Catholic Bishops

Francis is set to open a worldwide synod process. U.S. dioceses don’t seem prepared. / National Catholic Reporter

Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.

National Catholic Reporter

“With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like.

“A range of dioceses contacted by NCR in recent weeks said they were still working out the details for the consultation period and would be in a better position to comment on the synod in coming weeks, after Pope Francis formally opens the two-year synod process with a ceremony in Rome on Oct. 9.

“Officials who agreed to interviews described plans that relied on parish listening sessions, online surveys, Zoom meetings and other avenues to get feedback from laity.

“‘It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and for bishops all over the world to develop better habits of consultation with our people,’ Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, told NCR …

“Francis announced in May that he would be expanding the scope of the next synod, originally set for 2022. He postponed the Vatican meeting of bishops, now set for October 2023, to allow first for periods of consultation in every local diocese and at the continental level.

“Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it? / National Catholic Reporter

Success for bishops not focused on controlling power will be listening and honestly reporting the needs of the people.  

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis’ plan is for ordinary Catholics to have their say. It begins with the coming synod, which opens in Rome on Oct. 9 and in every diocese in the world on Oct. 17.   

“The problem: No one seems to know about it. The bigger problem: U.S. bishops don’t seem to care. 

“It’s called ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ While Francis truly wants all Catholics to pray and talk about the needs of today’s church, his plan depends on diocesan participation. As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t. 

“Here’s how things are supposed to work. Last May, Rome asked every bishop for the name of the person managing his diocesan synodal process. The bishop then is to open his local synod Oct. 17, collect input from parishes, and report to his national episcopal conference.  

By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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The Spirit in the Assembly: Preparing for the synod on synodality / Commonweal

“A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar.”

Commonweal

“The most far-reaching event in the Catholic Church in my lifetime officially gets its start next month. It is Pope Francis’s boldest move yet, the historic shake-up that a Church brought low by sex-abuse scandals badly needs, and potentially the most transformative moment in Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, which it seeks to embed permanently into the life of the Church. The two-year “synod on synodality,” launched in Rome on October 9 and in dioceses worldwide a week later, is set to mark Christianity forever.

“Yet who knows it is even happening? A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar. Bishops briefed by Rome’s synod secretariat back in May have been mostly quiet about it, hiding behind cautious communiqués buried on websites, awaiting details, fearful of unleashing forces and expectations beyond their command.

“So we begin with a paradox. The path to the 2023 Synod in Rome, on the theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission,” is designed to engage every diocese, every bishops’ conference, and every continental Church body. It will unleash the biggest popular consultation in history. It will require, as never before, the assembly of the People of God, in mass meetings at parishes and across dioceses around the world, who are being given “the ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received,” in the words of the Preparatory Document released last week.”

By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal — Read more …


Click here to read the Vatican news release announcing the 2023 Synod and to see list of links to Vatican and Voice of the Faithful resources to help understand the Synod.

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Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document / Vatican News


The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops presents the base text and ‘vademecum’ – or handbook – to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality. Listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage and parrhesia; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with the other Christian confessions.

Vatican News

“The General Secretariat for the Synod has published the Preparatory Document, along with a Vademecum (or handbook) to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality. The solemn opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17; and will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world.

“The Preparatory Document, released on Tuesday, is intended above all to be an instrument facilitating the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will take place from October 2021 to April 2022.

“‘In other words,’ as the document says, ‘it constitutes a sort of construction site or pilot experience that makes it possible to immediately begin reaping the fruits of the dynamic that progressive synodal conversion introduces into the Christian community.'”

By Vatican News — Read more …


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Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, 91, due in court in sex assault case / AP on Cruxnow.com

Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the once-powerful prelate who was expelled from the priesthood for sexual abuse, is due in court Friday to face accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception in Massachusetts nearly 50 years ago.

McCarrick, 91, is scheduled to be arraigned and is expected to enter a plea in suburban Boston’s Dedham District Court more than a month after he was charged. McCarrick is the only U.S. Catholic cardinal, current or former, ever to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.

McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn, said after the charges were filed in July that they “look forward to addressing the case in the courtroom.”

McCarrick, who now lives in Dittmer, Missouri, faces three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14, according to court documents. He can still face charges because he wasn’t a Massachusetts resident and had left the state, stopping the clock on the statute of limitations.

By Associate Press on Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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A radical shift away from a church with inflexible laws / La Croix International in National Catholic Reporter

“With the culmination of the Root and Branch Inclusive Synod in Bristol less than a month away, Sept. 5-12, there are early indications that the so-called ‘Bristol Text’ will be both deeply reflective and challenging to the current bishops’ position.

“The text will include brief, accessible statements on liturgical ministry, diversity, moral theology, and authority, backed by papers giving it historical and theological depth.

“Four international teams of distinguished theologians, jurists and thinkers, both lay and religious, have been meeting to consider the results of the synod’s year-long ‘journey of discernment.’

“Sources close to the process suggest that the Bristol Text will propose a radical shift away from a church that enshrines its teaching in inflexible laws, towards one that guides and enables the people of God to reflect for itself.”

By Jon Rosebank, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Former Roman Catholic cardinal criminally charged

BOSTON, Mass., Aug. 10, 2021 – Former Roman Catholic cardinal Theodore McCarrick had already become the poster child for the now two-decade-old Catholic clergy sexual abuse scandal when he was charged July 28 in Massachusetts for three counts of indecent assault and battery. The 91-year-old former prelate is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 3.

McCarrick’s charges show like nothing before how the states must repeal statutes of limitations to provide justice for clergy abuse survivors. McCarrick had eluded prosecution for decades, despite multiple allegations of abuse. He was finally defrocked in 2019 and is now criminally charged with abusing a 16-year-old boy in 1974 in Massachusetts. The statute of limitations clock had stopped when he left the state, demonstrating how important the details of the statutes are. He is the most senior member of the Catholic clergy in modern times to have been defrocked and criminally charged due to allegations of sexual abuse.

Many states, but not all, have undertaken SOL reform in recent years, spurred on especially by the 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report and the Vatican’s McCarrick report on his activities prior to his recent charges. Here is an SOL reform rundown as of 2020, according to the ChildUSA 2020 SOL Tracker, where much additional information about SOLs is located (statutes can be complex and confusing):

  • SOL reform laws were passed and went into effect in these eight states in 2020: Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New York, Utah, Virginia and West Virginia.
  • SOL reform laws were introduced in these 30 states and the federal government in 2020: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming

The tide may be turning regarding the number of states having passed or considering SOL reform, but VOTF and like-minded Catholics have always found getting such legislation passed challenging. Even though SOL reform does not target the Church and helps all survivors of sexual abuse, the Church and other large organizations continually attempt to limit their exposure to lawsuits from abuse survivors.

Perhaps greater transparency and a more pastoral approach toward clergy abuse victims by the Church may have curtailed the scope of the present scandal and spared many ruined lives, but the circumstances today leave survivors with few avenues for justice except civil courts so that progress toward additional reform of all statutes of limitations cannot proceed quickly enough. Forty-two states, the federal government and Washington, D.C., may have eliminated criminal SOLs, but reforming remaining criminal and much civil SOL legislation requires diligent effort.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Aug. 10, 2021, Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360 — Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Defrocked cardinal Theodore McCarrick charged with sexually assaulting teenager in 1970s / The Boston Globe

“Until now, McCarrick appeared beyond the reach of the criminal courts.”

The Boston Globe

“Defrocked former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was charged Wednesday (Jul. 28) with sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy during a wedding reception at Wellesley College in the 1970s, making him the highest-ranking Roman Catholic official in the United States to face criminal charges in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

“McCarrick, 91, a former archbishop of Washington, D.C., who fraternized with popes and presidents before he was expelled from the priesthood over sexual abuse allegations, is charged with three counts of indecent assault and battery on a person over 14 in a criminal complaint filed by Wellesley police in Dedham District Court.’

“A summons had been issued ordering McCarrick, now living in Missouri, to appear at the court for arraignment Sept. 3. McCarrick’s attorney, Barry Coburn of Washington, D.C., said Thursday (Jul. 29) that ‘we will look forward to addressing this issue in the courtroom.’

“Until now, McCarrick appeared beyond the reach of the criminal courts. Several men have filed civil lawsuits in New York and New Jersey, alleging that McCarrick sexually abused them in those states when they were children between the 1970s and the 1990s. But the statute of limitations has expired in those cases, preventing authorities from pursuing criminal charges.”

By Shelley Murphy, The Boston Globe — Read more …

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Archdiocese of Milwaukee says it won’t participate in AG investigation of clergy sex abuse / Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Survivors of abuse and their advocates have long called for Wisconsin officials to take action, contending any review should be conducted by independent authorities and not the same institutions accused of perpetuating and covering up misconduct.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“The Archdiocese of Milwaukee is pushing back against a recently announced attorney general investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, calling it a display of ‘anti-Catholic bigotry’ and a violation of the First Amendment. 

“In a letter from the archdiocese’s attorney, Frank LoCoco of the Milwaukee firm Husch Blackwell, contends Attorney General Josh Kaul doesn’t have the authority to investigate the Catholic dioceses of the state and that doing so would go against the U.S. Constitution and state laws. 

“In the letter, LoCoco suggests that the investigation may be motivated by anti-religious sentiments, and that the probe is looking back too far in time. 

“The first-term, Democratic attorney general announced the investigation in April. 

“Led by Kaul’s Department of Justice, the probe focuses on abuse allegations against clergy and other faith leaders, many of which date back decades and involve religious officials who are now dead.

“An investigation will be difficult to get underway with the archdiocese declining to produce documents, though.

“In a Tuesday (Jun. 1) email to congregants, Archbishop Jerome Listecki did vow to cooperate with any investigation into living members of the clergy brought forward during this inquiry. He wrote that instead of focusing on past abuse, Kaul should be investigating new claims. 

“In an email Thursday afternoon, Kaul said the investigation was launched in pursuit of accountability, healing and to prevent future abuse.”

By Laura Schulte and Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal SentinelRead more … 

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Podcast: Inside the top secret process of appointing a Catholic bishop

“The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve.”

America: The Jesuit Review

“When Father John Wester received a call just before 8 a.m. Mass, he had no idea it would be the nuncio, the pope’s ambassador, phoning to tell him he would be the next auxiliary bishop of San Francisco.

“‘I think my knees were knocking,’ now-Archbishop Wester of Santa Fe, N.M., told America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast. The bishop said his parishioners told him, ‘You don’t look very good, Father!’ and I said, ‘Well, I don’t feel very good right now!’ It was kind of a shockeroo.’

“Archbishop Wester’s story is not unusual. Most bishops are appointed without ever knowing they were being considered for the job and are caught by surprise when chosen.

“The bishop selection process is perhaps the most secretive hiring process in the world, shielded from both the candidate and the priests and people he will serve. Those who are consulted about possible candidates are required to return the list of questions they’ve been sent, because even the questions, which reveal no particulars about a candidate, are protected under the Vatican’s top confidentiality classification: the ‘pontifical secret.’

‘Inside the Vatican,’ by Colleen Dulle and Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

Click here to see Voice of the Faithful’s bishop selection webpages.

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