Archive for category Vatican

Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance / National Catholic Reporter

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.” (National Catholic Reporter)

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

“The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more ‘co-responsible,’ or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

“Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed ‘the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion’ and ‘give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.’

“The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolearance’ / Cruxnow.com

“To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” (cruxnow.com)

“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

“In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

“In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely ‘American problem’ and described the ‘zero tolerance’ policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Cardinal Pell’s acquittal was as opaque as his sexual abuse trial / The New York Times

“At every stage, critics argue, Australia’s courts exhibited a penchant for secrecy and insular decision-making that resembled the Catholic Church’s flawed and damaging response to sexual abuse within its ranks.” (The New York Times)

Cardinal George Pell walked out of prison on Tuesday after Australia’s highest court reversed his 2018 conviction for molesting two choirboys decades earlier — liberating the most senior Roman Catholic cleric to ever face trial over child sexual abuse.

The world may never be able to assess whether the court’s reasoning was sound.

The panel of seven judges ruled that the jury lacked sufficient doubt about the accusations against Cardinal Pell, the former archbishop of Melbourne and treasurer for the Vatican. Jurors, the court argued, ignored “compounding improbabilities” caused by conflicting accounts from the cardinal’s main accuser and other witnesses.

But no one outside the court case can test that comparison. The central evidence — the testimony of the main accuser, on which the case “was wholly dependent,” the judges wrote — has never been released, not in video, audio nor even redacted transcripts.

By Damien Cave and Livia Albeck-Ripka, The New York Times — Read more …

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Vatican sends top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico / Associated Press

It (Vatican embassy in Mexico) stressed that Scicluna and Bertomeu would be “at the disposition of all those who want to share their experiences or to receive direction or assistance.” (Associated Press)

The Vatican is sending its top two sex crimes investigators to Mexico on a fact-finding and assistance mission as the Catholic hierarchy in the world’s second-largest Catholic country begins to reckon with decades of clergy sex abuse and cover-up.

Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu teamed up in 2018 to investigate the Chilean church and its wretched record of protecting pedophile priests — a bombshell expose that resulted in every active Chilean bishop offering to resign.

Their new mission to Mexico, due to take place March 20-27, was announced Monday (Mar. 2) in Mexico and at the Vatican. Officials stressed it was not an investigation per se but an assistance mission to help the Mexican church combat abuse.

By Nicole Winfield and Maria Verza, Associated Press — Read more …

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Pope Francis sets aside proposal on married priests / The New York Times

In his letter, which took the form of a 94-page booklet and has the power of church teaching, Francis notably made no mention of ordaining married men in good standing or elevating to the priesthood married deacons, a lower clerical rank that does not require celibacy. The silence amounted to a pocket veto of the proposal. (The New York Times)

Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas, a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions.

“Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church.

“It disappointed supporters of Francis who had hoped for more revolutionary change. Coming seven years into his papacy, it also raised the question of whether Francis’ promotion of discussing once-taboo issues is resulting in a pontificate that is largely talk.

“His closest advisers have already acknowledged that the pope’s impact has waned on the global stage, especially on core issues like immigration and the environment. His legacy, they have said, will be inside the church, where his authority is absolute.”

By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Pololedo, The New York Times — Read more …

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10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis / Associated Press

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.” (Associated Press)

The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them.

“‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three.“

“‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.

“Salazar’s horrific story, which has been corroborated by other victims and the Legion itself, has sparked a new credibility crisis for the once-influential order, 10 years after the Holy See took it over after determining that its founder was a pedophile.

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.”

By maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read More …

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Pope jettisons pontifical secret; Voice of the Faithful applauds

BOSTON, Mass., Dec. 18, 2019 – Pope Francis yesterday changed the Catholic Church’s Canon Law to abrogate the “pontifical secret,” the Vatican’s equivalent of “top secret,” with regard to clergy sexual abuse cases. Voice of the Faithful joins clergy abuse victims and survivors and their advocates in considering this reform long-overdue.

Voice of the Faithful has always promoted full transparency of clergy abuse, understanding that the Church used secrecy in an attempt to protect itself against scandal, which resulted in particularly unjust treatment of victims. Because of the Pope’s action, no one may in the future claim that they cannot hand over documentation of abuse, or testify at trials, or be uncooperative with civil authorities by claiming clergy abuse information is considered top secret by the Vatican.

The Church’s leading clergy abuse investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, has called the Pope’s instruction “epochal.” Abuse survivor Marie Collins, a former member of the Papal Commission for the Protection of Minors who resigned in frustration at Vatican resistance, hailed the change, calling it “excellent” and a “real positive change.”

Will this reform usher in a new era of transparency and accountability in the Church? We can only hope.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Dec. 18, 2019
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Pope removes shroud of secrecy from clergy sex abuse cases / Associated Press

While documentation from the church’s in-house legal proceedings will still not become public, (archbishop Charles) Scicluna (the Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator) said, the reform now removes any excuse to not cooperate with legitimate legal requests from prosecutors, police or other civil authorities. (Associated Press)

Pope Francis abolished the use of the Vatican’s highest level of secrecy in clergy sexual abuse cases Tuesday (Dec. 17), responding to mounting criticism that the rule of “pontifical secrecy” has been used to protect pedophiles, silence victims and prevent police from investigating crimes.

”The carnival of obscurity is over,’ declared Juan Carlos Cruz, a prominent Chilean survivor of clergy abuse and advocate for victims.

“In a new law, Francis decreed that information in abuse cases must be protected by church leaders to ensure its ‘security, integrity and confidentiality.’ But he said the rule of ‘pontifical secrecy’ no longer applies to abuse-related accusations, trials and decisions under the Catholic Church’s canon law.

“The Vatican’s leading sex crimes investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna, said the reform was an ‘epochal decision’ that will facilitate coordination with civil law enforcement and open up lines of communication with victims.

“While documentation from the church’s in-house legal proceedings will still not become public, Scicluna said, the reform now removes any excuse to not cooperate with legitimate legal requests from prosecutors, police or other civil authorities.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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The Vatican is using donations for the poor to fight its budget deficit, report says / CNBC

Peter’s Pence is a special collection from Roman Catholics every June. According to the collection’s website, it is “A Day for the Works of Charity.” (CNBC)

As little as 10% of donations by Roman Catholics that are specifically advertised as helping the poor and suffering actually go toward charitable work, a new report says.

“About two-thirds of the rest of the $55 million in donations for Pope Francis’ annual charitable appeal, known as Peter’s Pence, is used to fill the Vatican’s administrative budget deficit, The Wall Street Journal reported in an article Wednesday, citing sources familiar with the spending.

“The newspaper said that the use of Peter’s Pence for the budget ‘is raising concern among some Catholic Church leaders that the faithful are being misled about the use of their donations, which could further hurt the credibility of the Vatican’s financial management under Pope Francis.’

“A spokesman for the Vatican’s mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC about the Journal’s report. The article noted that under church law, a pope can use Peter’s Pence in any manner that serves his ministry.”

By Dan Mangan, CNBC — Read more …

Also of interest, “Is the Vatican misleading donors? Peter’s Pence, explained,” by Colleen Dulle and James T. Keane, America: The Jesuit Review.

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