Archive for category Voice of the Faithful

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 23, 2022

TOP STORIES

Statement of USCCB president on twenty years since passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People
“This June marks twenty years since the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered in Dallas, Texas to draft and pass the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People in their commitment to address the issue of clergy sexual abuse. Marking this moment, Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the following statement: ‘This month marks the twentieth anniversary of the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. This is not a time of celebration, but a time of continued vigilance and determination.’” By United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

Experts debate meaning of ‘synodality’ for global Church
“Throughout July, some 100,000 people will be able to participate in a free, online seminar about synodality, curated by three theologians from Latin America and including witnesses from all around the world. ‘Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church’ is the theme of the first in a series of courses that will be hosted by Boston College’s School of Theology and ministry, sponsored by the bishops’ conferences of Latin America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the Jesuits in Latin America and the organizations of superiors general of male and female religious congregations.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Vatican cardinal: Subordination of women to men is ‘fruit of sin’
“‘The subordination of women to men is the fruit of sin,’ a top Vatican cardinal said on Tuesday (Jun. 14). ‘How much damage we have done, as men, by endorsing a status of superiority,’ said Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. ‘There is no complete image of what is human when only the masculine is considered predominant and the only thing relevant. For centuries, we have suffocated the feminine peculiarity.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis’ synodality could be key to reaching young Catholics
“With an abundance of Catholic colleges and universities in Philadelphia, a planning team of educators worked together to envision a way for all of Philadelphia’s Catholic colleges and universities to encounter synodality, which means journeying together, specifically tailored for young people. Inspired by Pope Francis’ call for greater listening, presence and curiosity among the global church, nearly 400 students from more than 40 campuses across the Philadelphia metropolitan region joined a multipart listening process that culminated in an all-campus listening session at La Salle University. Philadelphia Archbishop Nelson Perez participated in the listening session and delivered some thoughts at the end.” By Ernest J. Miller, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

How to evaluate Catholic journalism as CNS shuts down
“The recent decision by the U.S. hierarchy to shut down Catholic News Service operations in this country, shortsighted and insulting to the Catholic community, also bares tensions inherent in a setup where agencies are tightly aligned with or dependent upon the institutional church for their existence or credibility. The move is regrettable. While bishops might claim financing as the cause for the shutdown, if they wanted the service to survive, they’d certainly find a way.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican discloses uses of pope’s fund, hoping to reverse sagging trust
“The Vatican, in an apparent attempt to boost the confidence of the faithful in how their charitable contributions to the pope are used, on Thursday (Jun. 16) issued the first detailed disclosure of his main fund. The Peter’s Pence fund, whose aim is to help the pope run the Church, is made up income from a collection taken up in Roman Catholic dioceses around the world once a year, individual contribution and inheritances and bequests.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters, on EuroNews.com

Pope cracks down on new Catholic religious start-ups
“Pope Francis has taken another step to reign in new religious groups in the Catholic Church after their unregulated proliferation in recent decades led to abuses in governance that allowed spiritual and sexual misconduct to go unchecked. Francis issued a new decree published Wednesday (Jun. 15) that requires prior Vatican approval for bishops to erect new associations of the faithful, often the first step in the creation of a new apostolic society or institute of consecrate life.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Lay Group give Baltimore Archdiocese high marks for accountability, transparency
“Although it was not the first time the media had reported on sexual abuse scandals in the Catholic Church, when the Boston Globe reported extensively on the topic in 2002, it focused the attention of the U.S. bishops and many laypeople on the crisis. When the USCCB met in Dallas in June 2002, the main agenda item was discussion and approval of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People … That same year, a small, grassroots, lay organization formed in the basement of a church in Wellesley, Mass., in the Archdiocese of Boston, the epicenter of the crisis. Voice of the Faithful has since expanded worldwide and now claims more than 30,000 members.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review

Abuse expert: ‘voice of Jesus’ speaks through victims
“According to one of the Catholic Church’s foremost experts on clerical sexual abuse prevention, by ignoring the voice of the victims ‘we are excluding the voice of Jesus who speaks to us through them.’ German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, President of the Institute of Anthropology-Interdisciplinary Studies on Protection and Human Dignity (IADC) of the Pontifical Gregorian University, was speaking at a daylong ‘conversation’ held on Thursday (Jun. 9) in Madrid, Spain, organized by the publishing house PPC.” By Inés San Martin

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Towards a spirituality for synodality
One of the most significant aspects of the 2021-2023 Synod is the recognition that it is informed and shaped by a spirituality. In developing a ‘spirituality for synodality,’ we find that it assists us in integrating our theological reflection and expanding our experience of the Church as we engage more deeply in the synodal process. Indeed, as the features of a synodal spirituality unfold for us, we can come to see in it the ways in which the Holy Spirit graces the life of the Church, drawing each one into a deeper love of Christ and moving us to desire an ever greater communion, participation, and mission.” By Commission on Spirituality Sub-Group – Spirituality for synodality on Synod.va

Synodality gives voice to people on the periphery
“Lalita Beero, an unlettered and homebound homemaker from Mohana, a rural village of the Gajapati district of the eastern Indian state of Odisha, is a member of the diocesan synodal team of the Diocese of Berhampur. ‘I used to be very fearful,’ she said. ‘Today, I can stand before the crowd and speak a few words. I can mingle with all. I am happy to be part of this team. I am learning about some rules and norms of the Catholic Church which I never knew.’ Lalita has traveled to different parishes with the bishop and with the synodal team for meetings. ‘It is beyond my belief I could tour with Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak and other esteemed members of the DST in and outside the diocese,’ she said.” By Sujata Jena, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Spain Catholics want Church to mull optional celibacy, women priests
“Spanish Catholics want Rome to consider talks on the future of the priesthood, including optional celibacy, the ordination of women and also of married men, a key document showed Saturday (Sunday in Manila). The document was unveiled by the CEE Episcopal Conference that groups Spain’s leading bishops at a 600-strong gathering in Madrid. It was drawn up after months of consultation with more than 215,000 people, mostly lay people but also priests and bishops, with the proposals to be condensed into a final document that will be presented to next year’s Bishops in Synod assembly at the Vatican.” By Agence France-Presse in Manila Times

Among national synod, Italian Church faces challenges on multiple fronts
“Church leaders in Italy are currently conducting a national synod process, at the behest of Pope Francis, in tandem with the pope’s universal Synod of Bishops on Synodality. Among other things, the Italian bishops’ national synod, set to conclude in 2025, is aimed at assessing the challenges the country faces in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and providing an up-to-date evaluation of the general state of the church in Italy. Pope Francis had been pushing the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) to launch the national synod ever since a 2015 visit to Florence for a major CEI conference.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis: Theologians must find new and relevant ways to share the Catholic faith
“The Catholic Church needs theologians who know how to transmit the truths of faith in a way that will speak to people today, help them live the faith in their daily lives and inspire them to share the Gospel with others, Pope Francis wrote. ‘The community needs the work of those who attempt to interpret the faith, to translate and retranslate it, to make it understandable, to expound it in new words; it is a work that must be always done again, in every generation,’ the pope told staff from Milan’s archdiocesan seminary in a text given to them June 17.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

Intentional or not, Pope offers valuable conclave tip on abuse baggage
“Even before Pope Francis stages his latest consistory on Aug. 27, inducting 20 new members into the Catholic Church’s most exclusive club, the event has managed to make news – in this case, not so much for the new cardinals who’ll be there, but the one erstwhile cardinal-designate who won’t … The reason for the withdrawal is that (former Bishop of Ghent Lucas) Van Looy’s record on the clerical abuse scandals has come under fire, and, inevitably, making him a cardinal therefore would be seen as insensitive and offensive to abuse survivors.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

‘God may be calling us’: Meet the women aspiring to become deacons
“I recently attended a listening session for the synod in which the global church is now participating. The priest taking notes for the bishop began the session by saying something along the lines of: ‘Don’t waste your time coming up here and making a comment that asks the church not to be Catholic. Women cannot receive holy orders. This is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church. No generation in the church will ever see a woman at the altar.’ It was an odd way to begin a listening session, both because no topic is meant to be off the table at the sessions, and because the statement is false. While the Catholic Church is not considering ordaining women to the priesthood, the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate is a real possibility.” By Anna Keating, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Pope Francis: ‘Significant’ number of U.S. Catholics want to ‘gag’ Vatican II reforms
“The United States contains a ‘significant’ number of groups seeking to ‘gag’ the reforms of the Catholic Church initiated by the Second Vatican Council, Pope Francis said in a new interview. “’In the European Church I see more renewal in the spontaneous things that are emerging: movements, groups, new bishops who remember that there is a Council behind them,’ said Francis in a conversation with the editors of Jesuit journals of Europe. ‘Restorationism has come to gag the Council,’ he continued. ‘The number of groups of ‘restorers’ — for example, in the United States there are many — is significant.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

200 witnesses to testify in ‘Vatican trial of a century’ on financial scandals
“Earlier this month, Giuseppe Pignatone, one of the judges overseeing the Vatican’s ‘trial of a century,’ concerning corruption and money laundering by Catholic Church officials, joked that he hoped the proceedings would end by 2050. At least, it was thought to be a joke: At Wednesday’s (Jun. 22) session, the judges announced that the prosecution and defendants plan to call more than 200 witnesses in a trial that has already taken nearly a year to get through 10 defendants.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Former church finance director arrested for taking money as reimbursement for classes she didn’t take
“The former finance director at St. Leo the Great Catholic Church was charged Friday (Jun. 10) for fraudulently obtaining $27,930.03 from the church while she worked there between 2018 and 2020, Winston-Salem police said. Marilyn Bertelsen has been arrested on three felony counts of obtaining property under false pretense. The warrants claim she obtained the money for tuition — and, on one count, materials — as a reimbursement for college courses she never took.” By Winston-Salem Journal

Vatican’s financial watchdog sees rise in suspicious activity reports in 2021
“The Vatican’s financial watchdog authority reported on Monday (Jun. 13) that it received 104 suspicious activity reports in 2021, an increase from the previous year. In a 35-page annual report, released on June 13, the Supervisory and Financial Information Authority (ASIF) said that it submitted 21 reports to the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice (prosecutor), the highest number in the past five years.” By Catholic News Agency

Vatican Bank’s 2021 discal year nets $19 million, down from 2020
“In a context of great instability on the financial markets linked to the pandemic crisis, the Institute for the Works of Religion (IOR), the Vatican’s private bank, presents results that are still positive but down sharply in a report made public on 7 June 2022. In 2021, the Vatican entity posted a profit of EUR 18.1 million euros [$19 million]. Figures clearly down from 2020 – EUR 36.4 million [$39 million] net equity – but equivalent to those of 2018 – EUR 17.5 million [$18.7 million].” By Aleteia

VOICES

Understanding the pope’s reforms: making the church Christocentric
“Last week, Pope Francis issued a rescript requiring local bishops to get approval from Rome before giving their blessing to a diocesan religious order. Some critics of the pope saw the new rule as draconian … The need for the edict is rooted in the lack of accountability that sometimes occurs when a new religious order is begun in one diocese, but later moves or expands beyond its original location and confusion sets in about who is conducting oversight. The recent problems in the Diocese of Fréjus-Toulon in France indicate how granting canonical status in an irresponsible manner to questionable groups can create a big mess.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Maine diocese sued for first time since abuse suit barrier end
“The first lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland since Maine took away a limitation on claims of child sexual abuse were filed on Thursday (Jun. 16). Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a law last year that allowed victims to bring civil lawsuits about older abuse cases. Abuse survivors previously could not bring lawsuits if they experienced the abuse prior to the late 1980s. Attorneys who represent three people with claims of childhood sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and a lay educator filed the complaints seeking monetary damages.” By Patrick whittle, Associated Press

Louisiana legislature passes ‘fix to make it easier for sex abuse victims to sue
“The Louisiana Legislature approved Tuesday (Jun. 7) an update to a law it passed just last year that was supposed to make it easier for adult victims of childhood sex abuse to sue institutions such as the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America. The Louisiana House and Senate voted without objection to pass House Bill 402, by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, which clarifies that victims of childhood abuse – no matter their current age – should have a chance to sue over their alleged mistreatment until 2024.” By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest abuse survivor says church still needs ‘lamentation’ for abuse
“As the Catholic Church in the United States marks two decades since the U.S. bishops adopted a document establishing policies to deal with allegations of sexual abuse of children by clergy, Jesuit Father Jerry McGlone worries about the psychological responses the event could trigger. And he knows from experience because he’s not solely a priest who works with survivors but also a survivor of abuse by a priest.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, on CatholicReview.org

Abuse victim seeks damages from retired Pope Benedict XVI
“A victim of sexual abuse is reported to be suing retired Pope Benedict XVI in connection with the Munich abuse scandal. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the victim has accused Pope Benedict — who, as Joseph Ratzinger served as archbishop of Munich and Freising from 1977 to 1982 — of having ‘responsibly approved’ the appointment of a priest as a pastoral minister in a Bavarian parish some 40 years ago, even though the man was known to be an abuser. The legal action is aimed at establishing that the retired pope was partly to blame for the abuse scandal through a so-called ‘declaratory action,’ public broadcaster Bayerischer Rundfunk reported June 22.” By Catholic News Service

Archdiocese follows detailed process to respond to allegations of abuse
“When the Archdiocese of Baltimore receives any allegation of child sexual abuse by clergy, employees or volunteers in the church, archdiocesan officials take very seriously the person who has come forward, according to Bishop Adam J. Parker, moderator of the curia and vicar general. ‘That is where we begin. The investigation will try to examine every facet that we can possibly examine to get to the truth,’ he said in April 2022.” By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review

CALIFORNIA

Santa Barbara Franciscans hit with new sexual assault complaint
“With the statute of limitations on such cases soon set to expire, a 40-year-old Santa Barbara County resident identified only as John Doe filed legal papers in court alleging he’d been sexually assaulted at the hands of the Franciscan Friars of California, the Old Mission Santa Barbara, the Roman Catholic Diocese, and the San Roque Catholic Church. Specifically, the complaint charges that Father Robert Van Handel and Monsignor Vincent McCabe sexually abused the plaintiff in 1989 when he was a 5th grader singing in the St. Anthony’s choir under the direction of Van Handel and serving as an altar boy at the San Roque parish under the guidance of Monsignor McCabe.” By Nick Welsh, Santa Barbara Independent

MAINE

Three men sue Maine Catholic bishop over alleged sex abuse decades ago following law change
“Three men have sued the head of Maine’s Roman Catholic diocese in three different counties, saying that four priests and a lay teacher abused them years ago in a variety of venues, including at churches. The men have filed the lawsuits against Bishop Robert Deeley, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, following a law change that took effect last October lifting the statute of limitations on such legal claims.” By Judy Harrison, Bangor Daily News

MICHIGAN

Former Shelby township priest convicted for sexual abuse could face more than a decade in prison
“A former priest in Shelby Township is facing more than a decade in prison after being convicted of sexual abuse, Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Monday (Jun. 13). Neil Kalina, 66, was convicted of two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct by a jury in Macomb County Circuit Court on Friday afternoon. The charges, in this case, are 15-year felonies.” By CBS-TV62 News

AUSTRALIA

Catholic church uses pedophile priest’s death as shield against new allegations in NSW
“The Catholic church has used the death of a known pedophile priest to shield itself from being sued over new complaints of child sexual abuse. Earlier this month, the Lismore diocese won its argument for a permanent stay of civil proceedings brought by a woman who was 14 years old when she was allegedly sexually assaulted by Father Clarence Anderson in 1968 inside her family home.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Long-awaited Joan Chittister tour excites Australian Catholic reformers
“‘It’s time for prophetic voices everywhere to get into the conversation, study the issues, stay with the problem, to speak out. The question now is whether there’ll be prophets enough among you, here, in this group, in this generation to help the world and the church sort and sift ideas that others want to suppress. Prophets of real faith must go on raising their cries!’ Challenging words from Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister to an audience of Catholic activists in Sydney. The ‘troublesome’ American nun is in Australia for a major speaking tour at a crucial time for the Catholic Church in this country.” By Peter Kirkwood, National Catholic Reporter

Priest sex abuse victim awarded nearly $2m
“A former altar boy sexually abused by Victorian priest Desmond Gannon has been awarded nearly $2 million in damages in a civil case against Melbourne’s archbishop. The sex abuse survivor, who cannot be named for legal reasons, brought the case against Peter Comensoli, claiming the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne was vicariously liable for his abuse.” By Cassandra Morgan, The Advertiser

CANADA

Victims of sexual abuse upset convicted clerics cared for in Catholic retirement home
“When James and Tony Charlie first arrived at Kuper Island Residential School in British Columbia, they were given identification numbers that would be stitched into their clothes and put on lists for chore duties. ‘Sometimes it wasn’t even our names, it was just the number,’ Tony said. The brothers, born just 14 months apart, started attending the school in 1964 when Tony was 13 and James was 12. They’re now counted among the many children abused by Catholic clergy at residential schools across Canada.” By Julie Ireton, CBC News

Former priest Arthur Masse busted in alleged Manitoba school sex assault
“A retired priest was busted Thursday (Jun. 16) for allegedly sexually assaulting a girl at an indigenous residential school in Canada in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Arthur Masse, 92, was arrested at his home in Winnipeg and charged with the sexual assault of a 10-year-old girl who was a student at the Manitoba school in Fort Alexander, according to the CBC.” By Isabel Vincent, New York Post

St. John’s basilica sold for more than $3 million to pay survivors of church abuse
“The bells at the historic basilica overlooking St. John’s rang out Tuesday (Jun. 14) after a committee intent on preserving the cathedral announced it was chosen as the building’s new owners. The 167-year-old Basilica of St. John’s the Baptist was put up for sale along with two other church properties as part of bankruptcy proceedings undertaken by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John’s, as it scrambles to pay survivors of sexual and physical abuse at the former Mount Cashel Orphanage.” By Sarah Smellie, The Canadian Press

Ex-priest who abused Inuit children ‘should rot in jail,’ says federal minister
“The statutory release of a defrocked priest who sexually abused children in Igloolik, Nunavut, received a sharp response from the federal minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations. On Thursday (Jun. 9), Minister Marc Miller told reporters he believes people like Eric Dejaeger ‘should rot in jail.’ Dejaeger, now 75, was convicted in 2015 of 32 counts of sexually abusing people in Igloolik, many of them children.” By April Hudson, CBC

Audit of several Quebec dioceses’ records identifies 87 abusers in the church
“An independent audit of more than 80 years of files involving nine Quebec Catholic dioceses found at least 87 abusers among church personnel, according to a summary of findings released Wednesday (Jun. 8). Retired Superior Court justice André Denis reviewed archived files of 6,809 people employed between 1940 and 2021 and uncovered 87 employees who were the subjects of confirmed or well-founded sex abuse allegations involving minors or vulnerable adults.” By Sidhartha Banerjee, The Canadian Press, on CBC.ca

CHILE

Former Chilean priest found guilty of sex abuse and rape
“A former priest and top aide to Santiago’s archbishop was found guilty on Wednesday (Jun. 8) of repeated sexual abuse and rape, the result of 2018 scandal that ensnared multiple high-ranking members of the Chilean Catholic Church. The prosecutor’s office said on Twitter that it had secured the conviction of former priest Oscar Munoz, ‘for crimes of repeated rape, sexual abuse and repeated sexual abuse of those who were minor victims.’” By Reuters

GERMANY

Münster bishop refuses to quit after sexual abuse report
“Bishop of Münster Felix Genn on Friday (Jun. 17) said he would not resign after a report that claimed he was too lax in dealing with priests who had committed abuse. While he admitted mistakes in dealing with the cases, Genn said he had not put the interests of the institution ahead of concern for the victims by covering up cases of sexual abuse. However, he did blame his predecessors for more ‘serious mistakes,’ saying that they had done so.” By Deutshe Welle

Study finds German Catholic priests sexually abused over 600 victims
At least 610 children were documented as having been sexually abused by Catholic priests between 1945 and 2020 in the diocese of the west German city of Münster, according to a study released Monday (Jun. 13). The new report from the University of Münster found nearly 200 members of the clergy committed nearly 6,000 instances of abuse. Researchers believe the true number of victims could be much higher — up to between 5,000 and 6,000 more victims — due to unreported cases, the report’s authors said at a press conference outlining their findings on Monday.” By Inke Kappeler and Lauren Said-Moorhouse, CNN

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Catholic priest jailed for ten years for child rape
“A Catholic priest has been sentenced to ten years in jail for raping a child. Fr Anthony White was sentenced to ten and half years imprisonment by Hove Crown Court last week for sexual assault and two offences of indecent assault of a 15-year-old boy. The incidents took place between 1992 and 1993 when White, now 64, was an assistant priest at St John’s Church, Horsham, West Sussex.” By Catherine Pepinster, The Tablet

INDIA

Future of Indian bishop acquitted of rape in Vatican’s hands, nuncio says
“The Vatican has accepted the verdict of an Indian court declaring the innocence of a bishop accused of raping a nun, according to the papal representative to the country, who added the bishop’s future ‘is not in my hands, but with Rome.’ Archbishop Leopoldo Girelli was speaking about Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar during a visit to the diocese, located in Punjab state.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

£150K payout for victim abused by pedophile priest Fr. Malachy Finnegan
“The payout forms part of a settlement reached at the High Court in his claim for historic physical and sexual assaults inflicted by the late Fr Malachy Finnegan. He is also to meet the leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland to be given an apology in person, and have the costs of his ongoing counselling covered under the terms of the resolution.” By Alan Erwin, Newsletter.co.uk

A Roman Catholic priest who plied a teenage boy with drink before raping him has been jailed
“Father Anthony White, 64, now of Cross-In-Hand, Heathfield, Sussex, committed the offences during 1992 and 1983 when the boy was 15. The offences took place at an address in Horsham where White was living while serving as an Assistant Priest at St John the Evangelist Church in the town. A detective working on the investigation revealed how White carried out his crimes after winning the trust of the boy’s family.” By The Irish Post

TRINIDAD

Survivor haunted by abuse at St. Dominic’s Children’s Home
“A survivor of abuse at the St Dominic’s Children’s Home in Belmont, who left there in 1997, said his ability to relate and interact with people has been irrevocably altered by the abuse he suffered while growing up at the home. He now lives in the Netherlands where, as a gay man, he has been granted asylum status. “’ can’t form friendships. I get real irritated with people fast, I have a low span for stupidity. I don’t keep many friends, and who I keep as friends, if they cross me, I behave really badly. All of this is because of my background, what I’ve been through. I still rock myself to sleep at night, at the age of 42, because I can’t sleep normally.” By Paula Lindo, Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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‘God may be calling us’: Meet the women aspiring to become deacons / America: The Jesuit Review

I do not have a cavalier attitude about ordination. A calling, a vocation, is not something you just carry around in your back pocket no matter what gifts you have.

Anna Keating in America: The Jesuit Review

“I recently attended a listening session for the synod in which the global church is now participating. The priest taking notes for the bishop began the session by saying something along the lines of: ‘Don’t waste your time coming up here and making a comment that asks the church not to be Catholic. Women cannot receive holy orders. This is an infallible teaching of the Catholic Church. No generation in the church will ever see a woman at the altar.’

“It was an odd way to begin a listening session, both because no topic is meant to be off the table at the sessions, and because the statement is false. While the Catholic Church is not considering ordaining women to the priesthood, the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate is a real possibility.

“In 2016 Pope Francis created a commission to study the history of women deacons. This focus on history is notable because it acknowledges that women deacons are an ancient tradition in the church. St. Phoebe is named as deacon in the Bible (Rom 16:1-2). Both the Council of Nicea (A.D. 325) and the Council of Chalcedon (451) mention the ordination of women to the diaconate. Chalcedon states, ‘No woman under 40 years of age is to be ordained a deacon,’ thereby suggesting that older women deacons were permitted. As late as the 11th century, the right of the diocesan ordinary to ordain women deacons was confirmed by three consecutive popes. Pope Benedict VIII wrote in 1017, ‘We concede and confirm to your successors in perpetuity every episcopal ordination not only of presbyters but also of deacons or deaconesses.'”

By Anna Keating, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Experts debate meaning of ‘synodality’ for Global Church / Cruxnow.com

“Throughout July, some 100,000 people will be able to participate in a free, online seminar about synodality, curated by three theologians from Latin America and including witnesses from all around the world.

“‘Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church’ is the theme of the first in a series of courses that will be hosted by Boston College’s School of Theology and ministry, sponsored by the bishops’ conferences of Latin America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the Jesuits in Latin America and the organizations of superiors general of male and female religious congregations.

“Six of the conference speakers answered questions related to their chosen topic and provided Crux with a sample of what participants will be learning. The initiative seeks to help Catholics understand the concept of synodality ahead of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, which was opened by Pope Francis last October and which will conclude in Oct. 2023, when prelates from all over the world meet in Rome.”

By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Jun. 10, 2022

TOP STORIES

AP-NORC pool details rift between lay Catholics and bishops
The stances of many conservative Catholic bishops in the U.S. are not shared by a majority of lay Catholics. Most of them say abortion should be legal, favor greater inclusion of LGBT people, and oppose the denial of Communion for pro-choice politicians, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. The poll, conducted in mid-May, shows a clear gap between the prevalent views of American Catholics, and some recent high-profile actions taken by the church’s leaders.” By David Cray, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

U.S. cardinal urges Italian bishops to track, share information about abuse
“As Italian bishops debated how to respond to calls for a nationwide investigation into clerical sexual abuse and the way accusations have been handled, U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, encouraged them to move forward. ‘You have a unique opportunity to develop an honest and nondefensive dialogue with all those involved, at the national and local levels, who are willing to undertake a constructive process of review, of reform and of reconciliation,’ the cardinal said in a video message played May 25 at the spring meeting of the Italian bishops’ conference.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, National Catholic Reporter

RIP Catholic News Service – gone too soon and when we needed you most
“The U.S. Catholic bishops are killing off Catholic News Service, one of their most successful national programs. Founded in 1921, CNS is the AP of Catholic news, providing copy to Catholic publications across the country and around the world. In a 2021 meeting with CNS reporters in Rome, Pope Francis told them that ‘over these past hundred years, Catholic News Service has provided an invaluable contribution to the English-speaking world through its coverage of the church’s mission of proclaiming the gospel and witnessing to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ.’” By Thomas Reese, Relgion News Service

Pope Francis to create 21 new cardinals
“Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals at the next Consistory, which will take place on Saturday, 27 August. The announcement was made by the Holy Father himself after he recited the Regina Caeli with the faithful gathered in Saint Peter’s Square on Sunday, 29 May. ‘On Monday 29 and Tuesday 30 August, a meeting will be held of all the Cardinals to reflect on the new Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, and on Saturday 27 August, I will hold a Consistory for the creation of new cardinals.’” By L’Osservatore Romano

Survivors praised for 20 years of exposing Catholic abuse scandals
“More than 20 years since the Boston Globe’s Spotlight investigative team exposed the scope of Catholic clergy sexual abuse and institutional cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston, attorney Mitchell Garabedian said abuse survivors are still teaching the church ‘how to be moral.’ ‘None of this could be done without your strength,’ Garabedian said during a June 4 conference in Quincy, sponsored by several nonprofits that advocate for abuse survivors and accountability in the church.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

The Dallas Charter, 20 years later – Part 1: Widespread abuse comes to light, and bishops respond
“The first six months of 2002 marked a watershed in how sexual abuse of children and the Catholic Church were seen in the United States, as well as an inflection point for how the Church responded to allegations of abuse against priests. With the passage of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in June of that year, the bishops established national norms to hold dioceses accountable for protecting children and ministering to people who had been harmed.” By Michelle Martin, Our Sunday Visitor

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Bishop McElroy: Pope Francis and Vatican II give us a road map for the synodal process
“Can synodality become a deeper element of Catholic life in the United States? Our current process may prove this to be so. One of the central sentiments expressed in our diocesan synodal consultations has been that the people of God have at times not been meaningfully heard and responded to in the institutional life of the church, and they fear that the synodal process might be another in a series of moments when hopes are raised only to be frustrated. But the current synod process offers a glimpse of a church yet to come. Hundreds of thousands of Catholics have engaged with the church on their joys, their sorrows and their hopes for what the church can be today and tomorrow.” By Robert W. McElrory, America: The Jesuit Review

Synod team reviews data from listening sessions, online participants
“As the June 11 diocesan pre-synodal gathering nears, the diocesan synod team is reviewing the data collected during in-person listening sessions and by online participants. Parishes and other entities in the eight-county Diocese of Cleveland were invited to send a group of delegates to the daylong June 11 event. At the gathering, they will pray, reflect on their experience with the diocesan synodal process, listen to feedback from the listening sessions, engage in dialogue about the current reality of the Church and discern the Holy Spirit’s call for the diocese on the path of synodality.” By Diocese of Cleveland

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis fuels new speculation on future on pontificate
“Pope Francis added fuel to rumors about the future of his pontificate by announcing he would visit the central Italian city of L’Aquila in August for a feast initiated by Pope Celestine V, one of the few pontiffs who resigned before Pope Benedict XVI stepped down in 2013. Italian and Catholic media have been rife with unsourced speculation that the 85-year-old Francis might be planning to follow in Benedict’s footsteps, given his increased mobility problems that have forced him to use a wheelchair for the last month. Those rumors gained steam last week when Francis announced a consistory to create 21 new cardinals scheduled for Aug. 27. Sixteen of those cardinals are under age 80 and eligible to vote in a conclave to elect Francis’ successor.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CARDINALS

What message is Pope Francis sending with his choice of new cardinals?
“The consistory for the creation of cardinals on Aug. 27 is a ceremony that seems to mark the end of a pontificate — though that end might be long in coming. After praying the Regina Coeli May 29, Pope Francis announced the creation of 16 new cardinals eligible to vote in a future conclave and five over the age of 80. He also summoned all cardinals to take part in another consistory, on Aug. 29-30, to discuss the new Vatican constitution Praedicate evangelium. Such a broad discussion among cardinals hasn’t taken place for seven years.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency, in The Pilot

Claim: Cardinal didn’t prioritize sex abuse survivors”

“Two years before long-standing rumors about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick leapt into headlines worldwide, America’s most outspoken activist on clergy sexual abuse, Richard Sipe, met with his local bishop — San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy. ‘It was clear to me during our last meeting in your office, although cordial, that you had no interest in any further personal contact,’ wrote the now-late Sipe, a former Benedictine priest who then worked for the Seton Psychiatric Institute in Baltimore. While church officials asked him to report to McElroy, ‘your office made it clear that you have no time in your schedule either now or ‘in the foreseeable future’ to have the meeting that they suggested.’” By Terry Mattringly, Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

BISHOPS

Archbishop Nienstedt: an example of how the pope’s abuse law is not working
“Anne Barrett Doyle of the group BishopAccountability.org recently wrote a thoughtful article on how Pope Francis’ major law to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse they commit or cover-up, Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), is not working. That article caused me to reflect on the long-standing, unsuccessful efforts in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis to hold its former archbishop, John Nienstedt, accountable for alleged personal sexual misconduct and a failed cover-up involving abuse by another priest under his supervision.” By Hank Shea, National Catholic Reporter

Here’s hoping Bishop Barron settles in to new job leading a Minnesota diocese
“Last week, my NCR colleague Brian Fraga and freelancer Jenn Morson published an in-depth report about a series of recent resignations at Word on Fire, the Catholic multimedia platform created by Bishop Robert Barron. In a strange coincidence, the next day Pope Francis appointed Barron, formerly an auxiliary bishop for Los Angeles, as the Bishop of Winona-Rochester, Minnesota. It is always difficult to know what is really going on inside any organization, but when you witness a series of resignations, that is usually not a good sign.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

50 years after a group of Catholic sisters formed Network, the activist group pledges to focus on racial justice
“Two years ago, when George Floyd was murdered by a police officer who knelt on his neck for almost 10 minutes, we were confronted with the persistence of racism in our country. Now, we find ourselves there once more as we mourn the shooting that targeted Black Americans inside a Buffalo grocery store. This most recent attack again raises the urgency of ending white supremacy and racist violence once and for all in the United States. The past few years have been a time of tremendous upheaval, but it would be inaccurate to say that any of these realities are new.” By Joan F. Neal and Mary J. Novak, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN’S VOICES

Pelosi vs. Cordileone isn’t only about abortion. It’s about women and bishops.
“In October 2021, Pope Francis initiated a two-year ‘Synod on Synodality,’ aimed at finding out what Catholics and others think about the church. He may get more than he asked for. Preliminary results indicate one thing: Women are fed up. They like Francis well enough, but they are not much interested in what bishops and priests have to say. Why? The latest kerfuffle between San Francisco’s Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is at the tip of a very big iceberg.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Archdiocesan Review Board continues to monitor safe environments for young people
“Reports from the archdiocesan Office of Child and Youth Protection and the Independent Review Board indicate that the archdiocese continues its efforts to educate about safe environments for young people and to screen clergy, employees and volunteers to determine suitability for ministry … Voice of the Faithful, an independent lay watchdog organization that monitors governance in the church, placed the Archdiocese of Baltimore in the top four dioceses in the country in its recent report that measured abuse prevention and safe environment programs as reported online in diocesan policies and practices. By Christopher Gunty, Catholic Review (Click here to read VOTF’s “2022 Report: Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices”)

CHURCH REFORM

Pope Francis’ reforms make the heresy-hunting Vatican of John Paul II barely recognizable
“In November 2003, during the high noon of Cardinal Angelo Sodano’s iron-fisted rule as John Paul II’s secretary of state, a Mexican friar wrote for a Chilean journal an article that was passed across the world’s Catholic networks in open-mouthed amazement … ‘To speak of violence in the Church might seem nonsensical,’ began Fr. Camilo Maccise, a Discalced Carmelite who had only recently ended his term as head of the Union of Superiors General, or USG, in Rome … ‘I have had had intimate knowledge of this violence, above all as exercised by a number of Roman dicasteries,’ he wrote … Sodano died in Rome on May 27 at age 94, just days before the implementation on June 5 of Pope Francis’ new constitution for the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium (‘Preach the Gospel’). The constitution consolidates and deepens the reform that Francis has been carrying out these past nine years. It is a reform aimed at nothing less than a conversion of the way power is exercised in and from Rome, and by extension in the global Catholic Church.” By Austen Ivereigh, National Catholic Reporter

New HR office could be real revolution at heart of Pope’s reform
“In March 2020, the Vatican chose a Friday to announce the creation of a new ‘General Directorate for Personnel,’ essentially an HR office, within the Secretariat of State, which was touted as ‘a step of great importance in the path of reform initiated by Pope Francis.’ The next day the Vatican was compelled to issue a correction, saying that, whoops, the new directorate wasn’t actually happening after all, it was just an idea the pope would act upon ‘at the right time.’ This past Sunday (Jun. 5), it would appear the ‘right time’ finally came.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Catholic Church closures spread in the Northeast and Midwest. Not all are upset.
“COVID has changed the way people worship. A recent study showed even though many churches are now offering in-person services, people aren’t returning to pre-pandemic attendance. Among Catholic churches in Chicago, this is compounding a problem they already had. They’re losing people. Many parishes there have been forced to close or merge. Members are coming to terms with this new normal. From member station WBEZ, Adora Namigadde reports.” By Adora Namigadde, National Public Radio

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican bank displays financial decline, moral gains after papal reforms
“Pope Francis has been clear about his vision for Catholicism as a ‘poor church for the poor’ and the 2021 annual report of the Vatican bank shows that the pope’s wish is closer than ever to becoming a reality. In the report published on Tuesday (June 7), the bank, officially the Institute for Religious Works, announced that it made a net profit of 18.1 million euros (about $19.3 million) last year, a significant decrease from the 36.4 million euros it netted in 2020, but which Vatican officials defended as an able effort in difficult times.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Vatican official describes frenzy to turn London deal around
“A former Vatican official testified May 31 that he was under intense ‘psychological pressure’ to finalize a deal over the Holy See’s troubled investment in a London property, but entered into the negotiations without a lawyer and didn’t realize the deal got the Vatican nothing in return. Fabrizio Tirabassi testified for some seven hours about the frenzied meetings he attended in London Nov. 20-22, 2018 that the Holy See had thought would salvage its 350-million-euro investment in the former Harrod’s warehouse and stem its losses.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Pope Francis is remaking the College of Cardinal – and setting the stage for the eventual election of his successor
“With the appointment of 16 new cardinal electors, Pope Francis continues remaking the College of Cardinals with an emphasis on the person rather than the location of the bishop. Nowhere has that emphasis been more evident than in the United States, where he chose to elevate Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego, while once again skipping over more senior bishops in traditionally cardinatial cities such as Los Angeles and Philadelphia. He has also made the electors less Italian and less Eastern European but more Asian and African than they were when he was elected in 2013.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

‘Don’t invite the theologians’: Is Tom Reese right about what ails the Church?
“Tom Reese, SJ, the former editor of America, writes a column for Religion News Service that regularly appears in the National Catholic Reporter. He recently tackled the vexing, if well-worn, question of ‘Why Is the Church Failing in the West?’ He made some shrewd observations but came to dubious conclusions. Reese is a distinguished social scientist … In his column, Reese rehearses the explanations offered by both conservatives and liberals for the Church’s current troubles. ‘The theories can be collected in two major baskets’ he writes, ‘those that blame culture and those that blame the Church itself.’ That dichotomy is familiar enough.” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Employers face new litigation exposure under Adult Survivors Act
“On May 24, 2022, New York State Governor Kathy Hochul signed the Adult Survivors Act, which creates a one-year lookback window, beginning on November 24, 2022, for the revival of otherwise time-barred civil claims arising out of alleged sexual offenses committed against people who were 18-years-old or older at the time of the conduct. More specifically, the ASA establishes a new section in the New York Civil Practice Law & Rules that permits adult victims of sexual abuse to file a lawsuit against their alleged abusers regardless of when the offenses occurred or if the former statute of limitations period has run.” By JDSupra.com, Lippes Mathias Attorneys

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Survivors blast limited effort by Italian bishops to document abuse cases
“Barely had Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna, the new head of the Italian Bishops’ Conference (CEI) and key Pope Francis ally, wrapped up a Friday (Jun.3) press conference announcing a new study of clerical sexual abuse cases, when survivors of abuse proclaimed they were ‘very unhappy’ and declared the bishops’ initiative ‘useless.’ ‘It’s rather sad. It’s not good; we are very unhappy,’ said Francesco Zanardi, an abuse survivor and head of Rete L’Abuso (‘The Abuse Network’), Italy’s lone survivors’ group.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

CALIFORNIA

Female janitor describes alleged abuse by priest at Maywood church
“LOS ANGELES – A former janitor at a Catholic church in Maywood who is suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, alleging she was forced to quit in 2019 after an associate pastor groped her in the rectory and tried to coerce her into his bed, describes the incident in detail in new court papers. The Long Beach woman worked as a custodian at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, the grounds of which include a school and a rectory that housed the living areas and offices of Pastor Dario Miranda and Associate Pastor Primitivo Gonzalez, the suit filed in December of 2020 states.” By City News Service on 2urbangirls.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Diocese of Springfield bans New Spirit Inc. leadership after allegations of inappropriate behavior with children
“The Diocese of Springfield released its findings after allegations of inappropriate behavior with minors by a co-founder of New Spirit Inc. According to Springfield Diocese spokesperson Mark Dupont, in July of 2021 the Diocese of Springfield first learned about a 2018 complaint against Barry Kingston alleging he engaged in inappropriate behavior with minors at New Spirit Inc.’s summer camp weeks at Camp Holy Cross in 2007.” By Ashley Shook, WWLP-TV22 News

Lawsuit: Haverhill priest sexually abused girl in 1990s, 2000s
“An unnamed 28-year-old woman is suing two former Boston Archdiocesan Auxiliary bishops, claiming they neglected to supervise one of All Saints Roman Catholic Church’s now-defrocked priests — the Rev. Kelvin Iguabita-Rodriguez — and allowed him to sexually abuse her for years. The complaint was formally filed last month by Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents the woman who claims she was sexually abused by Iguabita-Rodriguez when she was between 5 and 7 years old.” By Angelina Berube, Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

The Worcester Diocese sex abuse investigation into Billy Riley has taken three months. Advocates want Boston involved
“William ‘Billy’ Riley, the director of the St. John’s Food for the Poor program, has been on paid administrative leave for nearly three months following claims of sexual abuse and a survivors’ group is calling on the Archdiocese of Boston to get involved. Living in Freedom Together (LIFT), a nonprofit founded by survivors working to end the sex trade, sent a communication to the Archdiocese of Boston about how the Diocese of Worcester is handling the investigation, according to Terrence Donilon, a spokesperson for the archdiocese.” By Kiernan Dunlop, MassLive.com

MISSOURI

News 4 Investigation into priests accused of child sex abuse leads to new police inquiry
“A recent News 4 Investigation into a Jefferson County center where Catholic priests and clergy accused of sexually abusing children are living under the radar has led to a new police inquiry. The center is located in Dittmer, Missouri. It’s called the Vianney Renewal Center and is run by the Servants of the Paraclete, a Catholic religious order founded in 1947. The Servants of the Paraclete’s website claims to “provide care for priests and brothers in need.” Nothing mentions sexual abuse.” By Susan El Khoury, KMOV-TV4 News

OHIO

‘I want accountability’: Father Drew sex abuse survivor says he’s not done with Archdiocese of Cincinnati
“A Greater Cincinnati man who was repeatedly raped as a young altar boy by the music minister at his private Catholic grade school before he became a priest has achieved what many sex abuse victims are still hoping for: some closure when his abuser was convicted. Now, after decades of struggling to deal with being sexually assaulted between the ages of 8 and 10, Paul Neyer is a married father with four children who says he wants to use his experience to try to help other victims. He took his first big step toward that Tuesday (Jun. 7) by going before an Ohio Senate committee, urging lawmakers to reform the state’s child sex abuse laws to extend the statute of limitation for victims to seek the justice he says they deserve.” By WXIX-TV19 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Report: $78 million paid to sex abuse victims in Philadelphia Archdiocese
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid close to $78.5 million of a total of more than $81 million awarded to 438 victims of sexual abuse by archdiocesan clergy under the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which released its final report June 2. The program was begun by the archdiocese three and a half years ago as a way of offering monetary compensation to victims of past abuse but which would be run independent of archdiocesan influence.” By Matthew Gambino, Our Sunday Visitor

RHODE ISLAND

Former Catholic Diocese of Providence priest indicted for sexual assault
“Rhode Island Attorney General Peter F. Neronha and Colonel Darnell S. Weaver announced that the Statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment charging a former priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence with sexually assaulting a juvenile male victim between 1981 and 1982. 

On May 25, 2022, the Statewide Grand Jury returned an indictment charging Kevin Fisette (age 66) of Dayville, Connecticut with one count of first-degree sexual assault.” By GoLocalProv.com

TENNESSEE

Standing for Survivors supports Knoxville clergy sexual abuse victims
“East Tennesseans gathered to stand with survivors of reported clergy abuse outside of St. Mary’s Church in Gatlinburg and at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart on Sunday (Jun. 5). A priest at St. Mary’s, Father Antony Punnackal, was accused of and admitted to sexual battery by one of the Spanish-speaking congregators, according to court documents obtained by WVLT News. One of the victims, Michael Boyd, said he was abused while serving as an altar boy and hoped that sharing his story would help others know what went on behind closed doors and encourage other victims to come forward.” By Kelly Ann Krueger, WVLT-TV8 News

WISCONSIN

‘They’ve failed us,’ clergy abuse survivors accuse AG of lack of commitment to investigating allegations
“One year after the Wisconsin Attorney General’s Office announced a new initiative to investigate clergy abuse, a group of survivors says Attorney General Josh Kaul has failed them. But the AG’s office says they are making progress on prosecuting church leaders. Hope is what Peter Isely, an abuse survivor and Director of Nate’s Mission, felt one year ago as he stood alongside AG Kaul as he announced the new initiative to investigate clergy abuse crimes. ‘I know how difficult it’s going to be for many of you to come forward again. I want you to know this time its different,’ said Isely back in April 2021 as he encouraged survivors to come forward and report abuse to the AG’s office.” By Elizabeth Wadas, WMTV-TV15 News

AUSTRALIA

Abuse victims start Loud Fences campaign in Townsville Diocese
“A former Mount Isa victim of sexual abuse has started a new awareness campaign called ‘Loud Fences’ in the Catholic Diocese of Townsville. Kathleen Walsh said she started the first loud ribbon fence started at the Cathedral Catholic Church in Townsville with similar plans for Mount Isa. ‘Mount Isa was ravaged by child sex abuse especially by pedophile priest Neville Creen with 22 criminal convictions,’ Ms Walsh said.” By Derek Barry, The North West Star

CANADA

Vancouver Island residential school survivor publishes account of abuse and recovery
Six decades after enduring unthinkable abuse at the hands of priests at Kuper Island Residential School, Raymond Tony Charlie is telling his story. His recently released book, ‘In the Shadow of the Red Brick Building,’ exposes the physical, emotional and sexual abuse, but also carries a message of resilience and recovery. ‘It took me a long time to write this book,’ Charlie explains of his more than eight-year journey to get the book published. ‘There were a lot of stops and starts and sometimes it was very difficult to write.’” By Tofino-Ucluelet Westerly News

Indigenous leaders meet with Catholic bishops in Winnipeg to discuss papal apology in Canada
“The wording of a papal apology is top of mind for Indigenous leaders, with less than two months to go before Pope Francis arrives in Canada to apologize to residential school survivors. On Wednesday (Jun. 1), following two days of talks, the National Indian Residential School Circle of Survivors met with Catholic Bishops in Winnipeg. ‘We have a working relationship with the bishops,’ said Ted Quewezance, the appointed interim chair of the group, adding the Pope tasked the Bishops of Canada to work with the survivors in their specific regions.” By Canton Unger, CTV News Winnipeg

CHILE

Former Chilean priest found guilty of sex abuse and rape
“A former priest and top aide to Santiago’s archbishop was found guilty on Wednesday (Jun. 8) of repeated sexual abuse and rape, the result of 2018 scandal that ensnared multiple high-ranking members of the Chilean Catholic Church. The prosecutor’s office said on Twitter that it had secured the conviction of former priest Oscar Munoz, ‘for crimes of repeated rape, sexual abuse and repeated sexual abuse of those who were minor victims.’” By Reuters

GERMANY

Church convicts Catholic ex-priest of abusing boy for years
“A Catholic diocese in Germany said Tuesday (Jun. 7) that a former priest has been convicted in a church trial of sexually abusing a minor over several years almost three decades ago. The man, who wasn’t identified, was ordered to pay 10% of his income to a charitable organization that helps victims of abuse, the diocese of Limburg said. While financial payouts have been included in confidential settlements between the church and victims of abuse, the announcement of a financial penalty against a priest as a result of a canonical investigation is unusual.” By Associated Press

NEW ZEALAND

Church in New Zealand releases new information on reported abuse
“Continuing research has produced further details of where and by whom much of the reported abuse in the Catholic Church in New Zealand was committed. The research is being undertaken by Te Rōpū Tautoko, the group that coordinates the Church’s engagement with New Zealand’s Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. Te Rōpū Tautoko yesterday (Jun. 6) published information expanding on research published in February as part of its ongoing Information Gathering Project.” By CathNews.com

SINGAPORE

Sexual abuse by prominent Catholic figure: Superior did not make police report as victims insisted on keeping matters private
“The two teenage boys who were sexually abused by a prominent member of the local Catholic community ‘refused’ to make police reports after the incidents came to light in 2009, the Catholic Religious Order said in a statement on Sunday (Jun 5). The boys were repeatedly told that they could make a police report and would be accompanied to the police station to do so, but they were insistent in wanting to keep the matter private.” By ChannelNewsAsia.com

THAILAND

Thai Catholic youth discuss clerical sexual abuse
“An online event to inform and raise awareness about protecting minors and vulnerable people from sexual abuse was organized by MAGIS Thailand, a Catholic youth group committed to applying Ignatian spirituality in their daily lives … The focus was the sexual abuse and abuse of power within the Catholic Church, with several participants from Singapore and the Philippines joining their counterparts from Thailand during the Zoom conference. Kittiya Wu, a programmer in her thirties from Bangkok, said: ‘We bear the same cross. Therefore, we must care for and help restore the Church’s credibility among Catholics as well as non-believers.’” By Tanya Leekamnerdthai, UCANews.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 26, 2022

TOP STORIES

Federal bankruptcy judge rejects Catholic diocese’s bid to stop state litigation on child sex abuse, excoriates ‘heavy-handed threat’ to survivors
“On Monday (May23), a federal bankruptcy judge granted survivors to resume their previously paused actions against hundreds of independent Catholic corporations that did not seek bankruptcy protection. His scathing ruling slammed what the judge perceived as the Diocese’s hardball tactics. ‘Portraying itself as a victim, trying to do right by the Abuse Survivors, the Diocese predicts that if state court litigation is permitted to move forward against any of the Catholic Corporations, ‘the Diocese may be forced to pursue a non-consensual plan of reorganization,’’ U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren wrote in a 16-page decision and order. ‘That is a pretty heavy-handed threat to be leveled at the people who are the real victims here—the Abuse Survivors.’” By Adam Klasfeld, LawandCrime.com

New Italian church head faces demands for abuse inquiry
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (May 24) named a bishop in his own image, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, as the new head of the Italian bishops conference, as the Italian Catholic Church comes under mounting pressure to confront its legacy of clerical sexual abuse with an independent inquiry. Zuppi, 66, is currently the archbishop of Bologna and has long been affiliated with the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity particularly close to Francis. The Italian Catholic Church is one of the few in western Europe that has not opened its archives to independent researchers to establish the scope of abuse and cover-up in recent decades.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

New head of Italian bishops tasked with handling clergy sex abuse, By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Spanish Catholic Church’s internal child abuse investigation of little use, prosecutor says
“An internal investigation by the Spanish Catholic Church into alleged child sexual abuse by members of the clergy is ‘partial’ and ‘of little use,’ the office of Spain’s national prosecutor wrote in a letter to the country’s ombudsman that was made available to Reuters. The Spanish Catholic Church in January launched diocesan-level inquiries after Spanish newspaper El Pais reported in December more than 1,200 cases of alleged abuse between 1943 and 2018.  The revelations came years after sexual abuse scandals had rocked the Church in countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis,’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.
“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up. Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. ‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Fordham conference on abuse highlights way the church can foster healthier culture of sexuality
“Last month, scholars from all over the world met to discuss projects related to the clergy sexual abuse as part of Fordham University’s ‘Taking Responsibility’ initiative. Some attendees disclosed their abuse by Jesuit priests, adding a palpable solemnity to the larger, systemic issues that make up the Catholic sexual abuse crisis. These stories also laid the backdrop for how important it was to research and answer exactly how Jesuit institutions can ‘take responsibility.’” By Mark A. Levand, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Catholics with disabilities share their vision of a synodal church
“Catholics with disabilities can be and want to be active members of the church and missionary disciples, but that will require fighting discrimination, exclusion and paternalism, participants told an online listening session for the Synod of Bishops. The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, sponsored a two-hour session May 19 with representatives of bishops’ conferences and international Catholic associations to hear directly from Catholic with disabilities, ‘who are often on the margins of our churches,’ according to a media statement.” By Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Listening & Discernmnet
“Listening and discernment are perhaps the two words that have been most used in this first phase of the synod process. Those who were able to participate in listening sessions, in spiritual conversations, were able to rediscover the meaning of these words that have often lost the force of their meaning in our daily vocabulary. But how does one listen and discern correctly? Apparently, listening and discernment belong to two distinct moments: first listening and then discerning, but on closer inspection they are perhaps two sides of the same coin. In short, there can be no true listening without discernment, just as there can be no side of a coin without the back.” By SynodRources.org Editorial Staff

Towards Pentecost 2022
“The Scottish Laity Network has organized a program ‘Towards Pentecost 2022,’ focusing on listening and responding to the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth. From 28 April to 2 June there will be six sessions with different speakers. In a world brutally divided between rich and poor, suffering wars and violence, and failing to take radical action to prevent climate devastation, they seek to discern how the Spirit is calling for a response.” By SynodResources.org

Justice and peace in the Synod process
“The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries and the Preparatory Commission of the Holy Land for Synod 2021-2023 encourage us, during the synod process, to be more aware of the lives of those in our ecclesial communities, neighborhoods, and society who are affected by the lack of justice, inequality and permanent violence in all its forms. That is why it is necessary to listen with these keys: to know people’s lives better, to promote community solidarity, to understand justice-inequality-peace as a right for all, and to promote integration and participation in society.” By SynodResources.org

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

New head of umbrella group for women’s religious sets sights on synodality
“Sister Nadia Coppa, the newly-elected president of one of the largest international conglomerates of women religious, is set on creating a global network of collaboration among congregations based on Pope Francis’s much-touted spirit of synodality. Speaking to Crux, Coppa said she believes synodality ‘is a horizon of the church, so it’s also a path for us.’ ‘We want to continue to promote the style of synodality,’ she said. ‘We want to be really open, to listen to one another, because listening is demanding, and it calls us to be really open, to make space for others. It also means letting go, letting go of my own desires, my own interests.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

The Catholic Church lacks an imagination for lay agency
“Some two years ago, I attended the Called and Co-Responsible conference at the University of Notre Dame. It was a conference about the role of the laity in the Church. One of the speakers, Fr. Michael Sweeny, O.P. made two insightful statements in his talk that resonated deeply with my experience working with parishes all over the country. He said, ‘Formation in the Church has always been for the sake of a mission;’ and ‘as a Church, we have no imagination for lay agency.’” By Peter Andrastek, Church Life Journal

Cardinals, theologians discuss decision-making role of laity in church
“As the Catholic Church continues to reflect on synodality through a two-year process of listening and dialogue, a panel of six notable theologians and canonists discussed the nature of consultation and decision-making in a synodal church. The discussion took place May 20 at the Vatican’s Palazzo Pio during the presentation of a new book released by the Vatican publishing house and written by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the office charged with interpreting canon law.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Arlington Catholic Herald

CHILD PROTECTION

The eerie parallels between the Southern Baptist and Catholic sexual abuse crises
“When news broke that Southern Baptist leaders had covered up sex abuse for decades I felt a numb sense of familiarity. I came of age as a Catholic against the backdrop of our own ongoing sex abuse crisis. It would be years before I would truly understand how sexual violence and the criminal conspiracies that perpetuated it had defined contemporary U.S. Catholicism. One thing was clear quite quickly, however. The sex abuse scandal cast doubt on the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church itself. A similar crisis of moral authority is underway for arguably the most significant white evangelical institution in the country. I say this both as a U.S. religious historian and as a Catholic who grew up in Alabama surrounded by Southern Baptists.” By Matthew J. Cressier, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Rome conference revisits ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and church’s call to welcome marginalized Catholics
“Although Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ landmark 2016 document on marriage and family life, has been widely praised for its call for greater integration of divorced, remarried and LGBTQ Catholics into church life, theologians have long said the text’s implementation on the ground has been mixed. A major May 11-15 conference at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, however, brought together nearly 200 bishops, priests, religious women and theologians from 25 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Europe with an aim of firmly cementing the pope’s magisterial teaching on these matters into pastoral practice around the world.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Vatican airs dirty laundry in trial over London property
“The Vatican’s sprawling financial trial may not have produced any convictions yet or any new smoking guns as prosecutors work through a first round of questioning of the 10 suspects accused of fleecing the Holy See of tens of millions of euros. But testimony so far has provided plenty of insights into how the Vatican operates, with a cast of characters worthy of a Dan Brown thriller or a Shakespearean tragicomedy. Recent hearings showed a church bureaucracy that used espionage, allowed outsiders with unverified qualifications to gain access to the Apostolic Palace and relied on a pervasive mantra of sparing the pope responsibility — until someone’s neck was on the line.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Adult Survivors Act for abuse victims on track to pass in New York
“A long-sought bill that would allow adult survivors of sexual abuse to hold their alleged abusers accountable is on track for approval. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) announced Thursday (May 19) that there are enough votes in her chamber to pass the Adult Survivors Act before the end of the legislative session early next month. ‘Today is a watershed moment for survivors of sexual assault in New York and across the country,’ Rosenthal said. ‘Today, New York State recognizes that ensuring justice for survivors of sexual assault is more important than maintaining arbitrary statutes of limitations that have for years shielded predators from justice.’ By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Haaland seeks healing for Native American boarding school survivors
The Interior Department found that the U.S. operated or actively supported more than 400 American Indian boarding schools between 1819 and 1969 – a history that affects the agency’s own leader. Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary, tells NPR’s All Things Considered that she had grandparents who were taken from their homes and placed in these schools.” By Michel Martin, National Public Radio

Catholic Church to investigate abuse claims at children’s homes
“The Roman Catholic Church will investigate allegations of child abuse in the December 2021 Judith Jones Report on children’s homes. In a press release on Wednesday (May 18), Archbishop Jason Gordon said the investigative team would include independent and qualified experts in the fields of psychology, childcare/social work, law and human resource management. The investigation was launched in response to the 139-page report entitled Safeguarding Children in Community Residences and Child Support Centres in TT which was laid in Parliament on April 29 by Minister in the Office of the PM, Ayanna Webster-Roy.” By Janelle De Souza, Newsday

CALIFORNIA

Sex abuse suits pouring in as state’s Catholic leaders seek relief from highest court
“Now, facing hundreds of lawsuits, a group of Catholic bishops is taking those challenges to the nation’s highest court. Saying they faced ‘potentially ruinous liability,’ the bishops last month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the California lookback window unconstitutional.” By Nigel Duara, LostCoastOutpost.com

IOWA

Catholic priest, once suspended for inappropriate conduct, resigns from central Iowa parish
“A Catholic priest who was suspended by the Diocese of Des Moines in 2020 after allegations of inappropriate conduct resigned from a parish he was recently assigned to in Elkhart. Rev. Jim Kirby resigned from the St. Mary/Holy Cross Parish in Elkhart, according to the parish newsletter. The dioceses hopes to fill the position, the newsletter said, but no other priests are available at this time.” By Philip Joens, Des Moines Register

NEW YORK.

Rochester diocese offers $147.75 million to abuse victims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has put forward a $147.75 million offer to settle claims filed by 475 sexual-abuse survivors in the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Whether the nine-figure offer will bring a quick end to the long-stalled bankruptcy at this point seems far from certain. The offer was outlined in a filing posted with the Rochester Bankruptcy Court late Friday afternoon … Despite its size, the offer—tendered nearly two and a half years into a bankruptcy whose slow-moving pace survivors have seen as frustrating—is being met with disdain by the abuse survivors it is meant to placate.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon

OKLAHOMA

Sex abuse suit filed against Oklahoma City Catholic school
“Ten current and former students of Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City and six parents or guardians are suing the private school, alleging it fostered ‘a rape culture’ for more than 10 years. School officials have known since 2011 that female students have been victims of rape and sexual assault by students, teachers and coaches and done nothing to stop the attacks, according to the lawsuit filed Monday (May 16).” By Ken Miller, Associated Press

RHODE ISLAND

Lawsuit accuses Providence Diocese of ‘victim blaming’ in clergy sex-abuse complaints
“A newly filed lawsuit by one of the alleged child molestation victims of recently suspended Smithfield priest Francis C. Santilli accuses the leaders of the Rhode Island Catholic Church of ‘victim blaming’ while disregarding multiple accounts of sexual misconduct by ‘Father Frank.’ The lawsuit was filed Thursday (May 19) against current and former Bishops Thomas Tobin and Louis Gelineau of the Catholic Diocese of Providence, and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Atwells Avenue in Providence.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal

GERMANY

Insurers suddenly raise stakes on German churches’ sex abuse response
“Germany’s Catholic and Protestant churches have been criticized for their handling of clergy sexual abuse for years now by victims, believers and the media. Now they face new pressure from an unexpected corner: the insurance industry. VBG, a national association of accident insurance providers, recently complained to the two predominant church bodies in the country that they had not been notified of the thousands of sexual abuse cases that have been found in the church groups’ ranks.” By Tom Heneghan, Religion News Service

GUAM

Vatican uses NY decision to seek dismissal of a Guam abuse case
“The Vatican is using a New York court’s recent decision to bolster its push for the dismissal of a Guam case that seeks to hold the Holy See responsible for former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s alleged sexual assault of a child. California-based attorney Jeffrey Lena said the New York court ‘supports dismissal with prejudice of all claims against the Holy See.’” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

ITALY

Survivors, advocates push Italian bishops for national abuse inquiry
“A collective of abuse survivors and advocacy groups have published an open letter to the Italian bishops, who are meeting to elect new leadership, calling for the adoption of several measures aimed at acknowledging the problem and prevention. ‘Abuses perpetrated within the Church affects people in their bodies, in their lives, in their conscience: they are violations of human rights. If the Church does not respect human rights, it cannot preach the Gospel,’ the letter said.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

POLAND

Catholic diocese in Poland to pay compensation to victim of child sex abuse by priest
“The Catholic diocese of Kalisz has been ordered by a court to pay 300,000 zloty (€65,000) to a man who was abused as a child by one of its priests. The case is one of a number relating to sexual abuse in Poland’s Catholic church that have come to light in recent years. It has drawn particular attention because the victim, Bartłomiej Pankowiak, and his brother Jakub, who was also abused, confronted the priest in a documentary film broadcast in 2020.” By NotesFromPoland.com

PORTUGAL

Portugal’s clergy abuse commission wants more help from church officials
“After four months of activity, an independent commission created by the Portuguese bishops to investigate child abuse has received at least 326 allegations of abuse. The fact that 214 of them were collected within the first month of operation demonstrates that there has been a significant decline in the rhythm of testimonies over the past few months. Some of the group’s members are now calling on the country’s bishops to better publicize their work and encourage abuse victims to come forward. It was the initiative of the Portuguese bishops’ conference to create the commission, a decision taken in November 2021 after the release of a report on abuse and cover-up in the French church shocked many across Europe.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, National Catholic Reporter

TIMOR-LESTE

Carmelite fathers show strong commitment to child safety
“A safeguarding audit report of the Carmelite Fathers Australia and Timor-Leste published today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has found a strong commitment to child safety across the religious institute’s operations. The audit assessed the Carmelite Fathers’ progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, a framework for the safety and protection of children in Catholic organizations. The Carmelite Fathers’ work in Australia serves communities across a variety of operations, including administering three parishes in partnership with local dioceses, working as chaplains in hospitals and schools, and running a spirituality and retreat centre. Since 2001, the Carmelite Fathers have also provided ministries in Timor-Leste focused on forming young men as seminarians.” By CathNews.com

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Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.

Our assessment so far of Vos Estis, based on the cases we’ve tracked in Poland, the United States, and elsewhere: Too few bishops have been found guilty, they’ve been punished too lightly, and next to no information about their misdeeds has been disclosed.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up.

“Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

“It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.

Vos Estis, a motu proprio that was signed on May 9, 2019, was originally enacted for a three-year trial period that ends this June 1. As we wait to see if Francis will now make the law permanent, it is a good time to assess what will likely be this pope’s most significant response to the Catholic abuse crisis.

So far, the Vatican has released no information about the number or names of bishops investigated under Vos Estis. BishopAccountability.org has been able to identify 28 cases where it has been used to process allegations of cover-up or abuse by bishops. We hope it is being used more widely than this — there are 5,600 living Catholic bishops! — but we can’t be sure.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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By closing Catholic News Service, bishops show they’ve lost interest in civic engagement

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 …

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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 ...

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Ministry & Governance: What might ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ have started / Commonweal

Gianfranco Ghirlando {Pontifical Gregorian University emeritus professor of canon law) made this striking change even clearer at a March 21 press conference, saying that ‘the power of governance in the Church does not come from orders, but from one’s mission.’ Governance becomes linked to canonical mission, which one is eligible for through baptism—not from the power of orders …

By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal

“There is great rejoicing in heaven today, or at least in that little corner where Yves Congar is still toiling away. No other twentieth-century Catholic theologian was so insistent on the close connection between baptism and mission. Now that Pope Francis has made clear in his motu proprio, Praedicate evangelium, that because “the Pope, bishops and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelizers in the church,” and “any member of the faithful can preside over a dicastery,” Congar’s great work, Lay People in the Church, comes to full fruition.

“Jesuit Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlando made this striking change even clearer at a March 21 press conference, saying that “the power of governance in the Church does not come from orders, but from one’s mission.” Governance becomes linked to canonical mission, which one is eligible for through baptism—not from the power of orders, as John Paul II had said in the previous curial reform. Now, in principle, all levels of Church governance are open to any Catholic, male or female. But there are two questions to be asked about the implications of the change for the role of ordained ministry. First, what is left for ordained ministry if governance is removed from the job description? And second, how, if at all, can we reconnect ministry and governance for the good of the Church?

“Pope Francis has long wanted the ordained to give more attention to pastoral concerns and spend less time managing a complex institution like a parish or diocese. Given the growing shortage of ordained ministers, this surely makes good sense—except, of course, that just as the pope has now made clear that there is no essential connection between ordination and governance, so it is also evident that there is no essential connection between ordination and pastoral activities.”

By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful at 20: Women’s Voices

By Svea Fraser, VOTF trustee and chair of Women’s Emerging Voices

Listen. Can you hear the sound of voices getting louder in support of women’s roles in the Church?

For 20 years VOTF has championed the change for women to be fully recognized as equals in the Church. We took advantage of every opportunity to raise awareness of the needs that would be better met when women have a place at the table. Resources on the website included articles, papers, videos, cards, templates for letter writing and books. One book in particular gave us a laser focus for our ongoing efforts.

The groundbreaking work of theologian Dr. Phyllis Zagano published in the book Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (by Gary Macy, Phyllis Zagano and William T. Ditewig) was a wakeup call for many of us. A free study guide made it possible to hold group discussion groups across the country. We learned things we never knew about women deacons in our faith tradition. Two points were of great significance:

  1. Women ministered as deacons in the past.
  2. The permanent order of deacons is clearly distinct from priestly ordination.

With increasing awareness, we began discussing women deacons at webinars, at lectures, and among networking groups. Women began to ask the question, “What can we do?” Our VOTF Women’s Working Group invited others from across the continent to advocate for women and ultimately formed an “advocacy network.” Invested in our faith communities and ministering in diaconal ways, we were buoyed by others who shared our pains and hopes for inclusion. As we shared these stories, we changed the working group title from “Women’s Roles” to “Women’s Emerging Voices” to better reflect our work.

At the same time, other voices were rising in support of women and their status in the Church: at the meeting of the International Union of Superiors General, at the Amazonian Synod, and in a papal-appointed Commission to study the issue.

In Durham, N.C., another voice also attracted our attention. That was the voice of Casey Stanton, the mother of two young children and holder of a Master of Divinity degree with a certificate in prison studies. When Casey encountered incarcerated women in her prison ministry, she came face to face with the reality of abuse and violence leveled against women.

During Mass one day, Casey made a connection: Because only men preach and preside at Mass, could the implicit message that men are more important than women contribute to their treatment as “less than”? What does our Catholic Liturgy say about women?

Casey wondered if other women wrestled with the same issue, and if they shared her strong vocational desire to preach the Gospel. She initiated conversations to find out. Each individual encounter affirmed that she was not alone. Also affirmed was a feeling that women’s stories needed to be told. From this grew a desire for a liturgical service to engage others in praying and sharing and listening together.

Saint Phoebe’s Feast Day on September third provided an ideal opportunity for a Virtual Prayer Service. Phoebe is the only person named a deacon (in Greek) in the New Testament, yet she was unknown to many of us. Her name is unspoken because the passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 16:1-2 is excluded from both Sunday and weekly lectionary cycles. Saint Phoebe also suffers the indignity of her Feast Day having been replaced by Pope Gregory I.

The first prayer service attracted 500 participants. Four women spoke of their heartfelt callings to minister as deacons, and their deeply felt emotions brought tears of recognition. The experience set hearts on fire.

Thus emerged a movement, a defined mission, and an informative website was created, under the name Discerning Deacons.

VOTF found common ground with Discerning Deacons: Our goals and mission statements harmonized. We joined in collaboration and mutual support. VOTF’s “advocacy network” began to call itself a “Deacon Circle.”

The success and spirited activity that followed is a testament to the power of prayer, the value of story-telling, the dedication of faithful disciples, and the overarching belief that the Holy Spirit will not deny what the Church needs.

The second Virtual St. Phoebe Prayer Service on September 3, 2021, registered 1,500 people from around the world.

From this side of the world, we sponsored an international delegation to Rome: five women from Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. With the words of St. Paul in mind when he commended his sister Phoebe to be “welcomed in the Lord as is fitting for the saints,” we sent our group with our prayers and an image of St. Phoebe preaching to the faith community.

I believe that Saint Phoebe is interceding on behalf of women today. The Rome delegation was invited to a front row seat at Pope Francis’ weekly audience. When Ellie Hidalgo (a co-director of Discerning Deacons) presented the image of St. Phoebe to the Pope, he accepted it with a smile. And when Sr. Cira Mees told him about her ministry in the Amazon, he looked at her and said, “Firme! Adelante!” (“Keep going forward with inner strength.”). The women were truly welcomed and received “in the Lord.”

As climactic as that event was for us, the story gets better.

In an unprecedented moment in the history of the Church, Pope Francis in 2021 called for a Synod on Synodality. He wants to hear from all the people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, to discern the Holy Spirit’s will for the Church.

When was the last time a pope asked you for your thoughts?

As ancient as synods are in the Church’s tradition, it is a puzzling word for most of us. Pope Francis explains it as simply journeying together. He invites us to walk together, tell our stories, and listen to the Holy Spirit—just as VOTF and Discerning Deacons have been doing all along! Without naming it, we have been synodal in the process of sharing, listening, and discerning.

An inaugural Mass on October 10, 2021, opened the Synodal path. The window for the laity to tell our hurts and hopes for the Church is open right now. Pope Francis wants to hear from you.

Both VOTF and Discerning Deacons, along with other groups and individuals, are offering listening sessions to share your thoughts. Go to the VOTF webpage “Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023” to register for the opportunity.

It is time to tell your story.

The Pope is listening

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