Archive for category Clergy

Want to address priest sexual abuse? The Catholic Church needs to overhaul its seminaries / The Washington Post

Young men who feel called to priesthood, although well intentioned, often have enormous gaps in their prior formation and upbringing. (The Washington Post)

Although clergy sexual abuse scandals aren’t new, the ones that have rocked the Catholic Church this summer revolved around a group seldom focused on before: seminarians. The sexual harassment and abuse of seminarians, and the response of seminary leaders, have been at the center of the case of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose removal from ministry in June began months of focus on abuse.

“Many Catholics share a heightened, even unprecedented, level of concern for the well-being of Catholic seminarians. They rightly wonder, as well, whether our seminaries can not only screen out potential sexual predators, but also rise to the challenge of preparing for life and ministry men who are emotionally mature, and psychologically and sexually healthy. This requires training for contemporary American society.

“The convergence of these concerns invites a long-needed conversation about reform in American seminaries.

“Many of us who have labored in seminary formation for years consider 2018 a watershed moment, in fact, to insist on long-overdue adjustments and enhancements to seminary training. In retrospect, many of our institutions have too often failed miserably in preparing men for ministry, and many still fall far short of the goal of forming happy, healthy, holy priests. The church urgently needs new approaches to preparing men for priestly ministry given today’s sexualized, secularized culture and the personal challenges facing seminarians.”

By Rev. Thomas V. Berg, The Washington Post — Read more …

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Minnesota Diocese admits responsibility so AG drops criminal charges in cases

National Catholic Reporter said today that Ramsey County has dropped criminal charges against the Archdiocese of St. Paul-Minneapolis after it revised an existing civil-claims settlement to admit wrongdoing. According to County Attorney John Choi, the text added to the settlement documents takes direct responsibility. It reads:

“Curtis Wehmeyer was a priest in this Archdiocese. The Archdiocese admits that it failed to adequately respond and prevent the sexual abuse of Victim 1, Victim 2, and Victim 3. The Archdiocese failed to keep the safety and wellbeing of these three children ahead of protecting the interests of Curtis Wehmeyer and the Archdiocese. The actions and omissions of the Archdiocese failed to prevent the abuse that resulted in the need for protection and services for these three children.” 

The amendment also requires newly installed Archbishop Bernard Hebda to participate in at least three Restorative Justice sessions convened by the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, extends court oversight of the diocese until 2020, adds a county-appointed representative to the diocesan review board, strengthens child protection, and sets up ongoing counseling services. (Note that VOTF also offers restorative justice options in our Healing Circles.)

You will find the full story here.

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Summarizing the Questions

The editorial staff of National Catholic Reporter has questions, like many of us, about the details of the new universal law in the motu proprio recently issued by Pope Francis. Does it replace the tribunal announced last year? Who is committed to making the new policy work? Will the process devolve like diocesan review boards into window-dressing appendages controlled entirely by the bishops themselves? As the NCR editors state, let a priest or bishop stray the slightest from “the narrowest orthodoxy” and removal is swift, but let a bishop cover up clergy sex abuse, and nothing happens to the bishop–for more than 30 years, the Church still has not held such bishops accountable. We all are waiting to see whether this new approach will. If at all.

Here’s the full editorial.

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The curious case of Carlos Urrutigoity / Commonweal

This Commonweal series from Grant Gallicho is packed with all the elements of scandal portrayed as Greek tragedy in the person of Carlos Urrutigoity. Unfortunately, this tragedy isn’t fiction.

The curious case of Carlos Urruitigoity (Part 4)

Urrutigoity planned to build a liberal-arts college and a village for traditionalist-minded Catholics. His profligate spending, along with a string of sexual-misconduct allegations stretching from Argentina to Pennsylvania, ensured none of that would ever come to fruition.” By Grant Gallicho, Commonweal (Story contains links to Parts 1, 2 and 3.)

We posted this about Urrutigoity in early June, After U.S. sex abuse scandals, an accused priest arises again in Paraguay. From that post, “He has spent two decades flitting from diocese to diocese, always one step ahead of church and legal authorities, before landing in this lawless, remote corner of South America. Here, in the pirate-laden jungle near the Iguacu falls, he has risen to a position of power.”

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U.S. Priests Want Married Men to Be Ordained, Support Worker Pensions, Immigration Reform and Opening Up Bishop-Selection Process / Religion News Service

A proposal to ask American Catholic bishops to request church approval to ordain married men as priests was approved June 25 by the 230 priests attending an assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests this week in St. Louis.

“The group also announced support for full payment of worker pensions, asked that lay people have a role in the selection of diocesan bishops, and made plans to help Catholics learn more about Church teaching in regard to immigration rights and responsibilities.

“In recommending a call for the church to ordain married men, the association cited published reports that Pope Francis would welcome such a request from bishop’s conferences around the world.”

By Religion News Service Religion Press Release Services —  Click here to read the rest of this press release and see contact information for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.

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Chilean Cardinals Close to Pope Stained by Abuse Coverups / National Catholic Reporter

The following story is disturbing because of the connections alleged between the coverup of clergy sexual abuse and Pope Francis; however, continued refusal to dismiss bishops that evidence shows are guilty of covering up abuse corrodes every aspect of attempted reform. Of course, some bishops accused of coverups are actually blameless. But if no bishop anywhere, for any transgression, is removed, we the faithful are left questioning whether any are interested in justice.

Home today is an apartment in Society Hill, Philadelphia, but when Juan Carlos Cruz was growing up in Chile in the 1980s, his family lived close to El Bosque, ‘the forest’ — a tree-draped park avenue and a prime neighborhood in Santiago, the capital city. It was also home to a charismatic pastor, Fr. Fernando Karadima, surrounded by well-dressed boys from top schools, and later unmasked as a sexual predator …

“Last year, Francis named Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Karadima’s most powerful defender, as one of eight cardinals on the commission advising him on Vatican reforms. Errázuriz refused to act on a victim’s allegations in 2003, telling the priest not to worry, according to news accounts and legal testimony …

“‘The impact of Karadima was similar to what we have seen in Ireland, Spain, Italy and America. Every place you find the church in sexual or financial scandals, it has the same effect. In many ways, people stopped looking at the church as a moral beacon. That was not true of the most culturally conservative Catholics, but it is certainly true in terms of the church in social leadership (said Alexander Wilde, a senior scholar for the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C.).’”

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

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Roman Catholic Bishops from England and Wales Call for Church to Allow Priests to Marry / The Independent

Roman Catholic bishops have called for the Church to take the historic step of allowing priests to be married amid growing signs of liberal reform under Pope Francis.

“The controversial issue is set to be raised at the next Bishops’ Conference after three bishops in England and Wales spoke out in favour of relaxing the centuries-old ban. Their comments follow signals from the Pontiff recently that he could be open to change on the issue and criticism of Britain’s most senior Catholic leaders for refusing to release the findings of a survey of their views on sexual ethics.”

By Jonathan Brown, The Independent — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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