Archive for category Catholic Bishops
No, the deeper – and in some ways worse – problem is that the bishops have lost their own commitment to civic engagement, of which the responsibility for providing reliable information is so integral a part.By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
The decision by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to close down Catholic News Service was terrible in terms of lowering the standards of Catholic journalism. It was terrible, also, because of its ecclesial significance, which is a related but different concern, one that strikes at a deeper issue for the nation’s bishops.
The commentary from Fordham University’s David Gibson, published here at NCR, touched on some of the reasons why closing Catholic News Service was ill-advised pastorally. Gibson observed that CNS is “a counterwitness to the proliferation of ideologically driven Catholic media platforms that are driving the church apart, and regular Catholics around the bend — often right out of Catholicism.” That is surely true.
It is also clear that not enough bishops were alarmed by the prospect that the only remaining wire service specifically focused on news about the Catholic Church in the United States would be the Catholic News Agency, a subsidiary of EWTN. More bishops need to adopt the posture taken by Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, a former chair of the bishops’ Committee on Communications. “In Burlington, we don’t want anything to do with CNA because of its affiliation with EWTN and the anti-Francis rhetoric on the network,” Coyne told America magazine recently.
By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
In closing Catholic News Service, U.S. bishops undermine their pastoral work / National Catholic Reporter
So many of the Catholic media outlets that are opposed to Francis and Vatican II exist only to promote their views, not to report, write, edit and publish Catholic news, and the truth as we can best ascertain it.By David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter
“That Catholic News Service was the first to report on its own demise was both a tribute to the legacy of the 102-year-old outlet’s editorial independence and perverse proof of what a bone-headed decision the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made in opting to gut CNS.
“The May 4 announcement that effectively shutters CNS’ domestic operations eliminates a rare source of credibility for the hierarchy, a critical tool for reliably informing American Catholics about the church beyond their own diocese, and a counterwitness to the proliferation of ideologically driven Catholic media platforms that are driving the church apart, and regular Catholics around the bend — often right out of Catholicism.
“According to the news service, staffers were told that the core operations in Washington and New York were to be shuttered and that only the Vatican bureau would be retained. (CNS also wrote that USCCB Publishing, which holds the rights to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the U.S. Adult Catechism and many other books, will cease its publishing operations at the end of 2022.) How even that isolated remnant in Rome can actually work, or whether it will survive, remains to be seen, as they say in television.”
By David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter — Read more ...
In shockingly frank deposition, former bishop admits moving alleged abusers from treatment to ministry / America: The Jesuit Review
In similarly straightforward testimony, Bishop Hubbard said that in instances when priests admitted to him that they had committed abuse, he did not report this to Albany police.Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review
“In testimony conducted over four days in April 2021, Bishop Howard Hubbard, the former leader of the Diocese of Albany, N.Y., described in unusually frank terms how he moved diocesan priests who had been accused of molesting children in and out of treatment centers and back into ministry. He admitted that the transfers were consistently made without informing local police, families of abuse victims or Catholics in Albany’s parishes, where the men were reassigned.
“Bishop Hubbard testified that parishioners were told that their pastors had been removed for ‘treatment’ with no further explanation.
“‘My perspective is we did not reveal the reason for his treatment,’ Bishop Hubbard told Jeff Anderson, the lead attorney for one of the survivors suing the diocese, in reference to one priest.
“‘And the reason for his treatment was he had been accused of sexually abusing a minor, correct?’ Mr. Anderson asked.
“‘That is correct,’ answered the bishop, who led the diocese from 1977 until 2014, answered.
“Mr. Anderson pressed further. ‘As a matter of practice and protocol, you as the bishop were required to keep that secret to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the church, of the diocese, correct?’ he asked.
“‘I think both were reasons for not disclosing fully the reason for his treatment,’ Bishop Hubbard responded, after clarifying objections from his attorney.”
By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.Associated Press
“The former bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany has acknowledged covering up allegations of sexual abuse against children by priests in part to avoid scandal and protect the reputation of the diocese.
“Howard J. Hubbard made the admission during a deposition taken last year as part of a response to dozens of claims filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. A judge ordered the deposition released on Friday.
“Hundreds of people have sued the Albany diocese over sexual abuse they say they endured as children, sometimes decades ago.
“During the four-day deposition, Hubbard named several priests who had been accused of sexual abuse who were referred to treatment and later returned to ministry, without notification to the public. One, David Bentley, admitted to Hubbard that he had engaged in the behavior alleged.”
By Associated Press — Read more …
The sex abuse scandal is not over. The hierarchical culture still needs transformation. / National Catholic Reporter
What cannot be overstated at this point in the nearly 40-year public history of the scandal is the force that the hierarchical culture — that privileged, secretive, unaccountable, male-only construct — can apply against any movement toward radical truth-telling.Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
“A 2004 story in The New York Times bore the headline, all in caps: ABUSE SCANDAL HAS BEEN ENDED, TOP BISHOP SAYS.
“That top bishop was a young Wilton Gregory who, two years earlier and as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had herded the rest of the U.S. hierarchy through the first phase of accountability for the scandal.
“The headline was based on a Gregory declaration, made following the release of two studies of the scandal. “The terrible history recorded here today is history,” he said.
“That, of course, turned out to be more wish than reality. The finality implied in the statement has yet eluded the bishops, a point made clear by the recent searing assessment by Barbara Thorp, who took on the job of directing the Boston Archdiocese’s response to victims back in 2002, when the ecclesial world there was exploding. She claims that despite the decades of rolling disclosures and revelations that emerged from investigative reporting, grand jury reports, civil cases, the courage of countless victims and grudging reforms resulting in greater transparency, there is still much we don’t know.”
By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
20 years after Spotlight investigation of Catholic sex abuse crisis, is the church a safer place? / America: The Jesuit Review
On Jan. 6, 2002, on the Feast of the Epiphany, The Boston Globe published the first in a series of reports from its Spotlight investigative team, headlined “Church allowed abuse by priest for years.” (By Kathleen McChesney, former F.B.I. executive and first executive director of the Office of Child Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops)
Visit votf.org to read about the multitude of programs and initiatives undertaken by Voice of the Faithful in the 20 years since The Boston Globe Spotlight articles prompted the organization’s founding.
“The events of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol caused shock and dismay for most Americans, many of whom feared that our political system was much weaker than we had thought. On the same date nearly two decades earlier, we witnessed a similar crisis of confidence in the Catholic Church as a protector of all children.
“On Jan. 6, 2002, on the Feast of the Epiphany, The Boston Globe published the first in a series of reports from its Spotlight investigative team, headlined “Church allowed abuse by priest for years.” While the findings were not a surprise to abuse survivors, the revelations that a previously unknown number of priests in the Boston area had sexually abused minors for decades devastated Catholics in Boston and, ultimately, the faithful around the world. The Globe had learned that instead of removing many of these offenders from the priesthood, church leaders had transferred some of the men to new assignments—where the priests continued to have unsupervised access to boys and girls and had not been provided with psychological evaluation or treatment.”
By Kathleen McChesney, former F.B.I. executive and first executive director of the Office of Child Protection for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — Read more …
Coming abuse report to review retired Pope Benedict’s tenure as German archbishop / National Catholic Reporter
Much of the public interest is focused on the retired pope’s 1977-1981 tenure as archbishop of Munich. The case concerns the assignments of a priest accused of a particularly large number of offenses.Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
“In mid-January, the law firm Westpfahl Spilker Wastl is scheduled to publish a report into the handling of clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising.
“The potentially explosive aspect is that three of the highest-ranking officials are still alive: Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — now retired Pope Benedict XVI — and Cardinals Friedrich Wetter and Reinhard Marx, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.
“The investigation followed two years of research and covers the period from 1945 to 2019, centering on who knew what about sexual abuse and when, and what action they took, if any, KNA reported.
“Much of the public interest is focused on the retired pope’s 1977-1981 tenure as archbishop of Munich. The case concerns the assignments of a priest accused of a particularly large number of offenses.
“In early summer 2021, Cardinal Marx — the current archbishop of Munich — tried to resign from office to take responsibility — explicitly also for possible mistakes of his predecessors. Pope Francis rejected his request.”
By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
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 …
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 …
“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.