Archive for category Women in Catholic Church
People around the world have asked the Church to outgrow clericalism and recognize the managerial and ministerial abilities of women. There is progress in adding women to management. The extended Synod process should not delay the restoration of women to the ordained diaconal ministry.Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano
“As the Church prepares for the next phase of the Synod on Synodality, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between women and the Church, combined with the problem of clericalism. The Working Document clearly states that “almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women.” (No. 64.)
“Many national reports asked to restore women to the ordained diaconate, yet the Synod’s Working Document for the Continental Stage refers to “a female diaconate.” Does this indicate ongoing discernment about the ability of women to receive sacramental ordination as deacons, despite the historical evidence of ordained women deacons? While women are increasingly included as professional managers within Church structures, notably within the Roman Curia, deep resistance to accepting historical precedence of women’s ordained ministry remains.
“Can the Church overcome clericalism and the denial of history?”
By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano — Read more …
If truth be told, the women of the church are leading its reform. Only they can lead its rebirth.Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service
“As the Catholic Synod on Synodality enters its ‘continental phase, some have wondered if the church is moving toward Vatican Three.
“Of course, there are still fights going on about Vatican Two.
“Not long ago, Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, said the current synod would lead ‘to a new reception of the Second Vatican Council,’ allowing the reforms of the mid-1960s to finally take hold. A small but vocal cadre of Catholics fears that precise possibility, which they caricature as a church overrun with bad liturgy, bad moral theology and guitar music.
“Lately these so-called traditionalists have lost two beacons of their truths. The recent deaths of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Australian Cardinal George Pell may serve to deflate the anti-synod underground, or at least weaken its intellectual base.”
By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service — Read more …
Detroit Catholic bishop halts public ministry after accusation he sexually assaulted boy
“A lawsuit filed this week alleges a Catholic bishop in Detroit who previously was a Vatican ambassador sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy 25 times decades ago in Massachusetts. According to the suit filed Monday (Aug. 1) in Boston, Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, 63, currently one of five auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Detroit, raped the boy while Russell was a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston from 1989 to 1990. Pope Francis appointed Russell, formerly the Vatican’s ambassador to Turkey and Taiwan, to be a Detroit bishop in May and he assumed office last month.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press
- Archbishop Paul Russell, auxiliary in Detroit, ‘shocked and saddened’ by allegations of sexual abuse while a priest in Boston, By Catholic News Service on TheDialog.org
Portugal launches inquiries into alleged Catholic Church sexual abuse
“Portuguese prosecutors said on Thursday (Jul.28) they have launched 10 inquiries into alleged child sexual abuse by Catholic Church clergy, the first such move since a commission was created seven months ago to investigate accusations. A commission investigating child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the Iberian nation has collected around 350 testimonies since it started its work in January. It has said that number was ‘just the tip of the iceberg.’” By Catarina Demony, Reuters
Group’s report card shows many dioceses failing in financial transparency
“Before Voice of the Faithful prepared a report on diocesan finance councils, it gave dioceses a heads-up that it would be working on such a report and what it would be looking for when it visited the dioceses’ websites. The Massachusetts-based organization sent letters to diocesan bishops and chief financial officers of the 176 U.S. Latin-rite dioceses. Despite the advance notice, only 18 of the 176 dioceses got a grade of 60% or better — what the Voice of the Faithful considered a passing grade when it released the report July 13.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on AngelusNews.com
- Group’s report card shows many dioceses failing in financial transparency, By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
German Catholics want expanded lay roles, greater tolerance for dissent
“In a new report summarizing the conclusions of a national consultation process among German Catholics, the country’s bishops state a desire for greater inclusion in the church of women and laypeople generally, as well as those who disagree on certain moral teachings. Titled ‘For a synodal Church – community, participation and mission,’ the report summarizes the conclusions of the German bishops’ conference’s ‘Synodal Path’ sent to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, ahead of a Synod of Bishops on Synodality at the Vatican next year.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
Is threat of schism between the German bishops and the Vatican real?
“The Vatican is concerned with ideas coming from Germany to reform the Catholic Church. On July 21, a statement was published through official channels of the Holy See warning Germany’s ‘Synodal Path’ reform project against breaking with the universal church. Tensions are rising between Germany and Rome. Is the threat of schism real? First of all: No. Germany does not want to split with the Catholic Church. However, tensions seem higher than they ever have been before.” By Renardo Schlegelmilch, National Catholic Reporter
Church must undergo profound reform to survive, says French sociologist
“The Catholic Church may be at a turning point in its history, believes Danièle Hervieu-Léger, a leading French sociologist on religion. To survive in secularized Western societies, the institution will have to reform itself, she says. In a new book with fellow sociologist Jean-Louis Schlegel that came out this past spring, ‘Vers l’implosion? Entretiens sur le présent et l’avenir du catholicisme (‘Toward Implosion: Interviews on the Present and the Future of Catholicism’), she dissects the causes of the current model and suggests possible changes. The book has been generally well received in France.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com
Two-year-old lawsuit accusing Theodore McCarrick of repeatedly raping boy still pending in New Jersey
“One of the more graphic sexual abuse lawsuits against former cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick is still pending in New Jersey after the parties recently failed to settle the nearly two-year-old case, court filings show. The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark in September 2020, accuses McCarrick of raping and sexually assaulting an unnamed adolescent boy on more than 50 occasions from 1985 to 1990. The lawsuit also names the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen as defendants, alleging that they failed to protect the boy from McCarrick while he led those New Jersey dioceses.” By Shannon Mullen, Catholic News Agency
Vatican’s reprimand falls disappointingly short
“The Vatican’s belated and inadequate reprimand of now-retired Yakima Bishop Carlos Sevilla shows that some church leaders still struggle to grasp the seriousness and complexity of the problem of clergy sexual abuse. It also shows that they feel little obligation to be transparent enough to reassure the community that local parishes are safe and that the church stands ready to hold clergy accountable for any misdeeds. Even now. Even after the church has had to answer for thousands of clergy around the world who’ve been plausibly accused of abusing young boys and girls over the years.” By Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board
FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION
‘Synodal spirit is alive in Africa,’ say speakers at major theological summit
“An old African proverb says that ‘until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ A second gathering of the Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life, which took place in Nairobi in July, showed that the lions are not only writing their own history now, but they are shaping their future — and also that of the global Catholic Church. In 1900, an estimated 2 million Catholics lived on the African continent. Today, that number stands at about 236 million.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
Catholics’ reports on the state of the Church are in. Here’s what they have to say.
“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead. Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church. If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service
Pope Francis is right. The Catholic Church cannot go backwards.
“During his press conference on the plane returning to Rome from Canada, Pope Francis made a remark about so-called traditionalists that rankled some conservative Catholics and confused others. ‘A church that does not develop its thinking in an ecclesial way is a church that goes backward,’ the pope said. ‘That is the problem of many today who claim to be traditionalists. They are not traditionalists, they are ‘backwardists.’ Tradition is the root of inspiration in order to go forward in the church.’ The operative word here, of course, is not ‘traditionalists’ or ‘backwardist,’ although the latter is expressive and accurate. The key word is ‘ecclesial.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Pope: Canadian residential schools were cultural ‘genocide’
“Pope Francis agreed Saturday (Jul. 30) that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to a cultural ‘genocide.’ Speaking to reporters while en route home from Canada, Francis said he didn’t use the term during his trip to atone for the Catholic Church’s role in the schools because it never came to mind. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in the residential schools to assimilate them constituted a ‘cultural genocide.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
- Pope Francis says Catholic Church committed cultural ‘genocide’ of Canada’s Indigenous peoples, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
Another red hat for a McCarrick ally
“Four years have passed since Theodore McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals. We are still coping with the aftershocks of the scandal he caused. Moreover—the reason I write about this subject today—we are still coping with the clerical system that allowed that scandal to fester unchecked for so many years … Since that time, Pope Francis has named five bishops from the US to the College of Cardinals. Barring a dramatic last-minute change, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego will soon join Cardinals Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, and Gregory. All five have had close connections with McCarrick.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org
Bishop Libasci sex abuse lawsuit stalled over bankruptcy
“The New York lawsuit filed last year that accuses New Hampshire’s Bishop Peter Libasci of sexually abusing a child in the 1980s is stalled in court, with nothing happening in the case since it was filed last July. The reason for the inaction is the more than 500 other claims of abuse lodged against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. The diocese filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2020, which put a halt on all the potential abuse lawsuits.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org
Bishop accused in lawsuit of abusing child in Lynn, Massachusetts, parish decades ago
“A former parishioner at a Massachusetts church has filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused as a child more than 30 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest who is now an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The plaintiff, identified in court documents as John Doe No. 12, was a 12-year-old parishioner at Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn in 1989 and 1990 when he was sexually assaulted about 25 times by Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Boston.” By WCVB-TV5 News
It isn’t just the priest’s fault: Six tips for lay people for a better homily experience
“Media outlets frequently publish reports of new surveys, showing how dissatisfied Catholics are with their homilies. The approval ratings are always significantly lower than the parallel Protestant ones. The primary persons to blame for this situation are Catholic preachers, and rightly so. Then the usual suspects are lined up as the causes of their poor performance: inadequate seminary training, insufficient preparation time, preachers being out of touch with the ‘real world’ and unable to address women’s perspectives. These are real problems that need to be addressed.” By Terrance Klein, America: The Jesuit Review
Pope’s recent appointment of women is too little, too late
“Administrative tinkering to Vatican bureaucracy is hardly the stuff of stop-the-presses headlines, but Pope Francis’ recent naming of three women to the office that helps select bishops around the world is certainly more substantive than changing the office’s name from ‘congregation’ to ‘dicastery.’ On July 13, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had named two religious sisters —Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Raffaella Petrini and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Sr. Yvonne Reungoat — and a laywoman, Maria Lia Zervino, as members of the Dicastery for Bishops. The appointments were made just over a week after the pope had told a Vatican journalist of his plans.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
In Chile, five women lead the Church’s anti-clerical abuse campaign
“Experts have long said that, in order to fully address clerical sexual abuse, the laity has to get involved. In Santiago, Chile, devastated like few others after the fall of several highly respected priests and two consecutive archbishops accused of cover-up, this tactical change is spearheaded by five women. Andrea Idalsoaga heads the Pastoral Office for the Reception of Allegations of the Archdiocese of Santiago. She was called in when the office was created, after being a judge of the National Ecclesial Tribunal for 16 years.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
LAITY & THE CHURCH
Chile’s Catholics see chasm separating hierarchy from increasingly hostile laity
“To put it mildly, the Catholic Church in Chile has a big problem. Chilean Catholics describe a giant chasm between the hierarchy, which some church-watchers describe as elite and out of touch, and an increasingly incredulous and hostile laity. Without a real effort of both parties to bridge the gap, these same experts fear the church will never regain its once honored place in the country. One striking place the strain is showing up is in the numbers.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Former FBI child sex abuse expert on what parents should know about ‘grooming’
“A former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expert on child abuse — and ‘grooming’ — said there are a number of steps parents can take if they have concerns their children could be in danger. On Monday (Aug.7), GoLocal unveiled that priest Eric Silva had been reassigned to a Narragansett church after being removed from two other churches earlier in the year for asking children ‘inappropriate questions’ about sex … Kenneth Lanning, who was a special agent with the FBI for more than 30 years and has worked as a consultant in the area of crimes against children, said that while some behaviors of adults interacting with children might not rise to the level of criminality, there are steps parents can take if they believe their child is potentially being ‘groomed’ for abuse.” By GoLocalProv.com
Vatican enlists influencers to get young, disenchanted Catholics to answer Synod survey
“Last fall, Catholics around the world began gathering in church basements and school gyms to, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.’ These listening sessions were the first phase of the two-year-long Synod on Synodality that will end in 2023 when the bishops meet to chew over what they’ve learned. Now that parishes have recorded testimony from the faithful and compiled it in official reports, the Vatican is sending the message that they want to hear from those they may have missed – young or inactive Catholics who failed to show up at the parish meetings.” By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Warning by archbishop on future of Catholic Church in Ireland
“Where the Catholic Church in Ireland is concerned ‘the one certainty is the ongoing and sustained decline both in the numbers who practice and in the numbers of those who answer the Lord’s call to priesthood and religious life,’ Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy has said. ‘All trends are dramatically downwards with no turning point in sight. I suggest you look at your priest, he may be the last in a long line of resident pastors and may not be replaced,’ he said. ‘I suggest you look at your church, you may be lucky to have a Sunday Mass or several, but for how much longer? I suggest you look at your fellow parishioners at Mass, who among your neighbors will continue to be the new leaders and carry on pastoral work in your parish, alongside a much smaller number of clergy? Who among them will lead prayer services and keep faith alive and active through catechesis and other initiatives?’ he said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times
Roman stunner: More or less, the Vatican tells the truth about its money
“If you were listening closely this week, your ears may have picked up a subterranean rumbling out of Rome. It was the sound of the tectonic plates of history shifting, as, perhaps for the first time ever, the Vatican actually more or less came clean about its finances. In the old days, it used to be said that how much money the Vatican has was among the mysteries of the faith, akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Funds were distributed among a bewildering variety of entities and accounts, many of them off the books – in some cases, cash was literally stuffed into desk drawers and cabinets in Vatican offices, replenished and doled out with no paper trail at all.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Why all the people of God must take some responsibility for clericalism
“Pope Francis has described pedophile priests as ‘tools of Satan’ and has often said that the cause of the clergy abuse crisis is ‘clericalism.’ But when in August 2018 he wrote a ‘Letter to the People of God’ that appeared to widen responsibility for the abuse to the whole Church, there was outrage. ‘With shame and repentance,’ he wrote, ‘we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that … we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.’ The Pope concluded, ‘I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting.’” By Hatty Calbus, The Tablet
CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS
The Catholic Church should end its policy of celibacy for priests
“Up to the Second Lateran Council in 1139, most priests married, sharing that experience with the majority of the families in the pews. It seems that the main reason for the unfortunate policy alteration related to priests’ children claiming inheritance based on parentage. Understandably, this clashed with the church’s commitment to maintain ownership of any accumulated wealth. The inheritance problem could and should have been dealt with by other means than the extreme prohibition against marriage by priests. Sigmund Freud asserts that after self-preservation, the next most demanding human drive involves procreation, and celibates must find ways to respond to that human sexual imperative as much as married men.” By Gerry O’Shea, Irish Central
Ending priestly celibacy would not stop abuse
“The Economist recently ran a lead article arguing that if the Catholics ‘want to reduce the scourge of sexual abuse by priests, they should demand an end to the rule requiring priestly celibacy.’ I found myself checking the year of publication. Surely this must have been an article from 20 years ago. But no: In the same week in which the Catholic bishops of the United States published their annual report on the (still falling) number of abuse claims made in American dioceses, the Economist was running with a tired, discredited argument.” By Ed Condon, National Review
The Catholic Church in Africa: The single most impactful institution in Africa
“This is a video news release distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Symposium of Episcopal Conderences of Africa and Madagascar, featuring the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast in Ghana.” By african.business
The Catholic Church is at a crossroads: Will it choose renewal or decline?
“The Pew Research Center finds just 26 percent of Catholics attend church weekly, while 65 percent say they attend ‘a few times a year or less.’ Another survey reveals 63 percent of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases; only 31 percent think communion should be denied to politicians who support abortion rights; and 77 percent said Catholics who identify as LGBTQ should be allowed to receive the Eucharist. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, says the rift between the laity and bishops on these issues ‘reveals a breakdown in communication and trust — shepherds who are far removed from the sheep.’” By John Kenneth White, Opinion Contributor, The Hill
Stephen Rowland: Always take allegations of sexual abuse seriously
“Why is it that pastors (or priests), of all people, are often the ones who stonewall an investigation into sexual abuse claims in their churches/parishes? It’s a definite problem — we all have followed the news in times past about the Pope apologizing to victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by certain priests. It was suppressed and covered over for decades. Then there was the Southern Baptist organization apologizing to sexual abuse victims not long ago. The burning shame of these humiliating ordeals is that you would think a church is the last place on earth to find such atrocities.” By Stephen Rowland, The Columbia Daily Herald
I’ve been a Catholic my entire life. But the church’s dark past is making me lose faith
“When the Pope came to visit Edmonton on his ‘penitential pilgrimage,’ my colleagues were joyfully planning carpools to Commonwealth Stadium where he would hold a public mass for 60,000 people. A lifelong Catholic, I went to Ticketmaster to reserve seats, but my fingers hovered over the screen for a while before I finally exited the website. Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to be Catholic. I grew up in the Philippines, where Catholicism is not only a personal religion but permeated every institution, organization and household.” By Alyssa Aco, CBC News
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Compensation program opened for California Roman Catholic sex abuse allegations
“In the last several years, the Catholic church has increasingly had to reckon with accusations of decades’ worth of sexual assault and abuse committed by priests and other church leaders within its ranks, all across the country. This was in large part prompted by a groundbreaking report published by a Pennsylvania grand jury back in August 2018 … The grand jury report has caused a wave of reactions across the country. In the wake of the report, Catholic dioceses all across the country have begun opening investigations, compensation programs, and even releasing lists of priests credibly accused of abuse.” By Joanne Szabo, TopClassActions.com
Former DeSales University priest pleads guilty on child porn charge
“A former DeSales University priest who had ties to the Royal Family in Europe has pleaded guilty in a child pornography case. William McCandless, of Wilmington, Delaware, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to access with intent to view child pornography, according to online court documents. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the other two charges of transporting and possessing child porn, says the document, which was filed in May.” By WTMZ-TV69 News
Chicago Archdiocese settles sex abuse case for $1.75 million
“A sex abuse case against the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order, has been settled for $1.75 million, attorneys for the victim announced Friday (Aug. 5). The case was filed by a woman who said she was repeatedly abused as a child in the 1980s by Robert Boley, a Carmelite priest who taught at St. Cyril Catholic School, 6423 S. Woodlawn Ave. which has since closed. ‘During one school year, he abused her multiple times in the classroom, having her stay inside for recess and sexually assaulting her while also telling her she was a bad child, that God was angry with her and making her read the Bible during the abuse,’ according to a statement Friday from Romanucci & Blandin, the law firm that represented the woman.” By Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times
Midcoast priest returns to duties after being cleared of sexual abuse allegations
“The Rev. Robert C. Vaillancourt will return to his duties after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland determined allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded. Vaillancourt was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 while being investigated for an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor girl in the 1980s. Although he has not yet been assigned his newest post, Vaillancourt will be returned to active ministry effective immediately, according to the Portland diocese.” By Leela Stockley, Bangor Daily News
Survivors of abuse in Catholic Church demand attorney general release findings
“For nearly four years, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General has been investigating allegations of widespread sex abuse against children in the Catholic Church. Survivors are still waiting for the results.” By CBS News
- Sexual abuse survivors fall for answers amid probe into Catholic Church in Baltimore, By Deena Zaru, ABC-TV News
High court allows sex abuse suit against diocese to proceed
“A lawsuit brought by a former altar boy who alleges he was sexually abused as a child in the 1960s by a now-deceased Roman Catholic bishop and other clergy can proceed, the highest court in Massachusetts said in a decision released Thursday (Jul. 28). The man from Chicopee identified in court papers as John Doe alleges in the suit filed in February 2021 that not only was he abused by former Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon as well as two priests, but also that the church engaged in a yearslong coverup to protect the bishop’s reputation.” By Mark Pratt, Associated Press
Santa Fe priest removed from post amid misconduct investigation
“A Roman Catholic priest who heads a large parish on the city’s south side has been removed from his post amid an investigation into an allegation of misconduct, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe confirmed Monday (Aug. 1). Archdiocese spokeswoman Leslie Radigan confirmed the Rev. Daniel Balizan of Santa María de la Paz Catholic Community was the subject of ‘an allegation that is not substantiated, but not beyond the realm of the possible’ in an email Monday. Radigan did not outline the nature of the alleged misconduct.” By Nathan Lederman, The Santa Fe New Mexican, on Yahoo.com
Priest says he was put on leave for speaking out on sex abuse settlement
“The Rev. Vincent Chávez, pastor of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Albuquerque, said he has been placed on a leave of absence after publicly criticizing the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s request that its parishes contribute $12 million to a $121.5 million sexual abuse settlement. Chávez said after he spoke out publicly in a July 3 story in The New Mexican, he was called into a tense meeting that ended with the priest being placed on leave. Chávez, 59, said the leave will last four to six months starting Aug. 1. During this time, as Chávez understands it, he will not be able to attend archdiocese events but can still see and socialize with parishioners outside of parish buildings.” By Sean P. Thomas, Santa Fe New Mexican
Victim of clergy abuse asks Catholic church leaders for transparency
“Before July 6, Stephen Mittler was simply known as John Doe 1988-1989 in a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and former priest Mark Haight. The Saratoga Springs man decided to make his story public in hopes the awareness would inspire others to come forward and to encourage transparency from the diocese. Mittler had a busy week, making the rounds and meeting with officials of the Catholic church.” By Jana DeCamilla, The Post-Star
Albany bishop meets with sexual abuse survivor outside Corpus Christi Catholic Church|
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany made efforts to connect with survivors of sexual abuse on Sunday. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger was in attendance for Mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. At the front steps of the church, Scharfenberger met with Stephen Mittler, who is a survivor of abuse in the late 1980s. The two held a conversation and discussed what are the next steps to help survivors and how the church can make sure no abuse happens in the future. Mittler says conversations like this go a long way towards helping survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church.” By Spectrum News Staff
Harrisburg Diocese reaches settlement with clergy abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Harrisburg has reached an agreement to settle claims of people who say they were victims of clergy sexual abuse. The Diocese has agreed to set up a $7.5 million trust as part of a proposed settlement that will allow the Diocese to come out of bankruptcy protection.” By WGAL-TV8 News
Former Beckley priest charged with sexual assault of a minor in Pennsylvania
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has released a statement from Bishop Mark Brennan, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston : ‘My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Many of you share my concern upon learning late yesterday that Fr. Pericles ‘Perry’ Malacaman, 84, was recently arrested in Beckley, WV, and is accused of sex abuse of a family member in Pennsylvania. The Diocese was not aware of the allegation until the day it was made public. We have not seen the criminal complaint and, as a matter of policy, we cannot comment on pending criminal investigations.’” By Annie Moore, WDTV-TV5 News
Rhode Island priest removed from Barrington and Cranston churches after allegations now at new church
“Priest Eric Silva was removed from two Rhode Island Catholic churches in February of 2022 for improper behavior. Now, he has back at another Rhode Island Catholic church offering mass. Earlier this year, Silva had been assigned to St. Luke’s Church in Barrington and was a visiting priest in Cranston. Parents alleged that Silva was asking inappropriate questions to children about their sexual orientation and sexual activity.” By GoLocalProv.com
- Survivor makes a stand after priest who made inappropriate comments to children assigned to Narragansett parish, By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe
- Tobin should have police investigate reassigned priest , says top lawyer for church sex abuse victims, By GoLocalProv.com
- Parishioners in R.I. deserve transparency about removal of Catholic priest, By Stephen Brophy and Christina Brophy, The Boston Globe
- Leader of St. Thomas More and St.Veronica parish apologizes for reassignment of priest, but questions remain, By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe
Knoxville diocese fought to name plaintiff in rape cover-up suit
“A Tennessee judge struck down Friday (Aug. 5) the Diocese of Knoxville’s plea to dismiss a lawsuit which alleges that Knoxville’s bishop impeded a diocesan investigation into a rape allegation, and defamed an alleged rape victim, by charging publicly that the victim was actually the aggressor. Judge Jerome Melson also dismissed a petition from the Knoxville diocese for a protective order, which would have exempted from subpoena all diocesan records related to a Vatican investigation into complaints against Bishop Rick Stika.” By The Pillar
Amid criticism, AG Kaul calls his actions on Wisconsin clergy sex abuse a ‘review’ not an investigation
“Wisconsin’s attorney general is responding to Action 2 News after receiving criticism from an organization that represents victims of church sexual abuse. The group Nate’s Mission criticized Attorney General Josh Kaul last month for what it thought was an investigation the AG launched last year into the state’s five archdioceses and religious orders. But Kaul is clarifying telling Action 2 News what he is doing is a review of allegations.” By Joshua Peguero, WBAY-TV2 News
Churches have ‘key role’ in reconciliation
“Writer and historian Jackie Huggins believes Australian churches have a key role in ‘truth-telling’ – an essential part of reconciliation in which the history of Australia’s First Nations peoples is told. The Bidjara/Birri-Gubba Juru woman from central and north Queensland, shared her family history – a story of shattered lives including forced removal from traditional lands and child servitude – at the first Laurel Blow Speaker Series for 2022, a joint event facilitated by Australian Catholic University and Evangelisation Brisbane.” By CathNews.com
Church puts safety at center of mission with new draft code
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference have this week released the first draft of the Church’s new code of safety, titled Our Common Mission. Our Common Mission sets out the commitment of the Catholic Church in Australia to put safety at the center of mission. It is a document intended to be adopted by all Church entities to inform ongoing formation in ministry and service for both people in religious ministry and lay people. ACSL CEO and Advisory Group Member Ursula Stephens said that in drafting Our Common Mission, the intention has been to create something that can speak directly and inclusively to diverse groups.” By CathNews.com
Newfoundland church sales bring justice to abuse victim – and leave longtime parishioners in need of a spiritual home
“For the first time on his papal visit to Canada, Pope Francis acknowledged the sexual abuse perpetrated by ‘some of [the] sons and daughters’ of the church in Canada, describing them on July 28 as ‘scandals that require firm action and an irreversible commitment.’ ‘Together with you, I would like once more to ask forgiveness of all the victims,’ he said. ‘The pain and the shame we feel must become an occasion for conversion: never again!’ The long-awaited moment of institutional remorse for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous survivors of sexual abuse came as Catholics in a part of the country not included on this papal journey continued a difficult path of their own toward reconciliation emerging from another source of national anguish.” By Aloysius Wong, America: The Jesuit Review
Chilean bishop deals with aftermath of abuse crisis in his diocese
“When Bishop Sergio Pérez de Arce was appointed apostolic administrator of the Chilean diocese of Chillán, 250 miles south of Santiago, he had the difficult task of succeeding a bishop removed by Pope Francis in 2018 following allegations of sexual abuse. Two years later, Pérez was confirmed as bishop, in a small ceremony held during a critical moment in the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Pérez has been working closely with the laity and the priests to try to understand what went wrong, and identify possible solutions. In addition, he is the secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
France mulling Canada’s request to extradite Catholic priest accused of abuse
“France is considering a request to extradite a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting Inuit children in Canada, local media reported Friday (Aug. 5). The Foreign Ministry confirmed that the request to extradite Joannes Rivoire is being processed by the Justice Ministry. The 92-year-old priest is currently living in an elderly care home in Lyon. A dual national, he lived for more than 30 years in Canada, where he has a fresh arrest warrant issued since February. Another arrest warrant was issued between 1998 and 2017 for sexually assaulting three minors. The exact number of victims allegedly abused by Rivoire is not known.” By Shweta Desai, aa.com.tr
German bishop, accused of abuse, found to have helped wanted pedophile priests escape to Latin America
“A German prelate who served as bishop in Ecuador is not only accused of having sexually abused minors in several countries. As director of a German aid organization he also helped pedophile priests wanted by authorities escape prosecution, according to an independent investigation published Monday (Aug. 8). The late Bishop Emil Stehle (1926-2017) — known in Latin America as Emilio Lorenzo Stehle — has been accused of sexual abuse in 16 cases, a statement by the German Bishops’ Conference said on Aug. 8.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency
GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES
Priest accused of sexual conduct towards four girls at two Glasgow churches
“A priest is accused of sexual conduct toward four girls at two churches. Neil McGarrity, 68, allegedly attacked the girls between December 2017 and February 2020. Court papers state McGarrity engaged in sexual activity with a girl between the age of 13 and 15 at St Thomas’ church in Glasgow’s Riddrie. It is stated that he touched the girl on the body. A second girl was alleged to have been sexually assaulted at St Thomas’ between the ages of 10 and 11. It is claimed McGarrity repeatedly placed his arm around her, touched her on the body, hugged and pulled her towards him.” By Connor Gordon, GlasgowLive.com
Catholic priest arrested for sexually harassing three school girls in TN
“A Catholic parish priest has been arrested under the POCSO Act for sexually harassing three underage girls. He noticed them attending the church alone and took them to his private chambers on the pretext of conducting ‘special prayers’ for their studies. John Robert (46) is the parish priest of St. Arulanandar Church in Mandapam near Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu. Three school going girls aged between 15-17 accused him of sexually harassing them in the church. As per the news reports, the three girls used to come to the church alone. Noticing this John Robert started talking to them and established a relationship with them.” By MahaKrishnan
A Nicaraguan priest is accused of abusing a minor. Human rights activists aren’t convinced
“When a priest is accused of abusing a minor, public opinion seldom gives him the benefit of the doubt — often for good reason. But in Nicaragua, things are different. At least for Monsignor José Leonardo Urbina. Urbina is pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish of Boaco, a city 50 miles east of Managua, the country’s capital. He was arrested on July 13 and formally accused of raping an adolescent girl. And Urbina’s story is unlike most that begin with a priest arrested for sexual abuse — because Nicaraguan media outlets, and human rights activists –some of them fierce critics of the Catholic Church– have rallied behind Fr. Urbina, citing significant procedural irregularities and raising questions about whether the priest is receiving due process.” By Edgar Beltrán, The Pillar
Church is challenged to end trafficking, child abuse
“Christian leaders, bishops, priests and laypeople should be outraged at the extent of human trafficking and child abuse in families and online and be motivated by faith to take every opportunity to help the victims by good deeds and action for justice as well as denounce the evil on the internet that is pervading society. A worthwhile prayer is that which motivates people to act for justice. Where are the organized militant ‘Catholic internet trolls for human rights and child protection?’ None that I know of. We need the revival of Catholic Social Action groups in every parish, led by dedicated internet-savvy students and youth fighting every day for social justice.” By UCANews.com
Portugal’s Catholic Church child sex-abuse scandal deepens
“Bit by bit the hideous truth that Catholic priests in Portugal have been left relatively free (if not almost completely free) to sexually abuse children for decades is coming home to roost. The scandal that hit the headlines in France less than a year ago, and which precipitated the opening of an inquiry in Portugal in January, has opened the floodgates on an accelerating domino-effect of horrors. Today, Expresso reveals another 12 priests have been outed by one of their own – half of them still in active duties. The story is all the more disturbing for the mantle of silence purportedly imposed by the Church’s hierarchy.” By Natasha Donn, PortugalResident.com
Spanish commission probes unreported clerical abuse cases
“The lawyer leading the Spanish Catholic Church’s investigation into clerical sexual abuse said he is currently looking into thousands of suspected cases that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. In an interview with Spanish news agency Europa Press published July 25, Javier Cremades, who is leading the investigation, said he also has received hundreds of unreported cases since he was appointed by the bishops in February. ‘Between those that the bishops’ conference has and those that the newspaper El País has, we are talking about approximately between 1,000 and 2,000 cases. Now we are sorting and classifying those that have reached us,’ Cremades said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on UCANews.com
Catholics’ reports on the state of the Church are in. Here’s what they have to say. / Religion News Service
Clericalism is a scourge on the Church, Catholics say, and women are not included in leadership.Religion News Service
“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead.
“Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church.
“If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone. In May 2021, six months prior to the synod’s October 2021 opening, the Vatican asked the world’s bishops to name synod coordinators in their dioceses, who were expected to organize a program of public meetings for Catholics, ex-Catholics and non-Catholics alike to talk about the Church.
“Some did. Some did not. Yet, somehow most U.S. dioceses — 95%, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — wrote reports, though relatively few are published. Participating dioceses melded parish reports into diocesan reports, which were combined into regional reports. From the regional reports, as well as reports from some 110 independent Catholic organizations, the USCCB will create a 10-page report, due in Rome by mid-August.”
By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service — Read more …
To see Voice of the Faithful’s “Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023” webpage, click here …
Women are now helping to select Catholic bishops. It is historic and long overdue.
“Reforming the church has been compared to turning a large ship around: You can’t hurry the task or you risk capsizing the ship. Last week (July 13), however, Pope Francis hurried his reforms quite a lot. The appointment of three women to serve on the Dicastery for Bishops is an enormous change in the life of the Roman Curia and in the life of the universal church. The Dicastery, known as the Congregation for Bishops until the reforms Francis implemented on Pentecost, is the body that receives the ternas — lists of three candidates — from the apostolic nuncios scattered around the globe for all open bishoprics that are not located in mission territory.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
- If the Pope wants gender equality in the Vatican, he’s going to have to make radical changes—and fast, By Katie Edwards, inews.co.uk
- Australian Catholic Church ‘very open’ to elevating role of women, By Matthew Knott, The Sydney Morning Herald
- Women helping pick bishops helps whole church, says new Vatican Dicastery member, By Justin McLellan, National Catholic Reporter
US bishops: 2,930 abuse victims came forward in 2020-2021
“The U.S. bishops’ annual report on compliance with the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ shows that 2,930 victim survivors came forward with 3,103 allegations during the audit year of July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021. The number of allegations is 1,149 less than that reported in 2020, according to the audit report released July 12 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
Francis begs forgiveness for ‘evil’ Christians inflicted on Indigenous people
“Pope Francis offered a sweeping apology to Indigenous people on their native land in Canada on Monday (Jul. 25), fulfilling a critical demand of many of the survivors of church-run residential schools that became gruesome centers of abuse, forced assimilation, cultural devastation and death for over a century. ‘I humbly beg forgiveness for the evil committed by so many Christians against the Indigenous peoples,’ Francis said to a large crowd of Indigenous people, some wearing traditional clothing and headdresses, in Maskwacis, Alberta, the site of a former residential school.” By The New York Times
- Pope in Canada to apologize for abuse of Indigenous children in church schools, By Reuters in Canada on TheGuardian.com
- In Canada, Pope Francis tells Indigenous people he is ‘deeply sorry’ for abuse schools, By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
- Pope Francis issues an historic apology for ‘devastating’ school abuses in Canada, By The Associated Press
- Pope’s apology doesn’t acknowledge church’s role as ‘co-author’ of dark chapter, By Rachel Bergen, CBC News
- The pope’s apology to Canada’s Indigenous peoples was truly remarkable, By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Chilean academic says more needs to be done to tackle Church abuse
“According to Dr. Ignacio Sanchez Diaz, the rector of Chile’s Catholic University, the country’s clerical sexual abuse crisis will be solved by three kinds of people: victims and survivors who are able and willing to come forward, academics who study the issue and suggest solutions, and journalists. Chile’s Catholic University, one of Latin America’s highest-ranking colleges, has lent its credibility to address the country’s abuse crisis, which is often labeled as the worst outside of the English-speaking world.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
U.S. congregations face their complicity in trauma of Native boarding schools
“Sr. Eileen McKenzie had always been proud of her congregation’s nearly nine decades of ministering to Indigenous people through their school in northern Wisconsin. But in the summer of 2020, McKenzie, the president of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, got an email from the La Crosse County Historical Society saying its magazine was going to publish a story about the school’s legacy. St. Mary’s Catholic Indian Boarding School operated on a reservation in Odanah, Wisconsin, from 1883 to 1969. The historical society wanted to let McKenzie know about the article because the topic was so sensitive.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, Natioinal Catholic Reporter
Catholic bishops acknowledge concerns about power and sexual abuse
“Concerns about how power is exercised in the Catholic Church as well as ‘the devastating impact of clerical sexual abuse on survivors and within the wider Church’ have been acknowledged by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales. In a reflection on the national synthesis document which collates the submissions of parishes and dioceses, the bishops say: ‘The voices of those who feel marginalized or unwelcome because of their marital situation, sexual orientation or gender identity have been raised and heard sincerely. Equally, others who feel excluded from the life of the Church, or identify as being on the peripheries, have not been forgotten in our synodal process of encounter.’” By Ruth Gledhill, The Tablet
FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION
German Catholic leaders ‘astonished’ at Vatican warning about ‘Synodal Path’
“After a warning from the Vatican Thursday (Jul. 21) to German bishops against stoking division in their ‘Synodal Path’ consultation process, pioneers of the initiative have hit back, saying they were ‘astonished’ by the rebuke and hope to discuss contentious matters in a more formal setting. In a statement Thursday, the Vatican said Germany’s synodal path is a threat to church unity at a universal level and stressed that the undertaking lacks the authority to compel bishops to make changes on doctrine or morality.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
- Vatican puts brakes on progressive German Catholic movement, By Philip Pullella and Thomas Escritt, Reuters
- Vatican: German Synodal Path must not create ‘new approaches to doctrine and morals,’ By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service
Young women reflect on Plenary Council experience
“Three young women who participated in the Fifth Plenary Council of Australia have shared their reflections on the gathering that drew significant interest over motions on the role of women in the Church. Madeline Forde, 26, said she felt ‘crushed’ after two motions aimed at elevating the role of women within the Church failed at the assembly in Sydney this month. She said the role of women in the Church had repeatedly been raised with her and she feared the failed motions could be a ‘tipping point’ for young people considering leaving the Church.” By CathNews.com
Pope Francis’ critics cram the church into their ideological narratives
“Author and columnist George Weigel’s analysis of the Catholic Church remains stuck in the last century, but he is still syndicated to diocesan newspapers. Therefore, when he writes something really egregious, it is necessary to respond. And last week he wrote a really egregious article, ‘The War of the Conciliar Succession, continued,’ which seeks to cram post-conciliar history into his ideological narrative, offering a caricature, not an analysis.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Francis reimposes restrictions on Latin Mass, reversing decision of Pope Benedict
“Pope Francis cracked down July 16 on the spread of the old Latin Mass, reversing one of Pope Benedict XVI’s signature decisions in a major challenge to traditionalist Catholics who immediately decried it as an attack on them and the ancient liturgy. Francis reimposed restrictions on celebrating the Latin Mass that Benedict had relaxed in 2007. Francis said he was doing so because Benedict’s reform had become a source of division in the Roman Catholic Church and used as a tool by Catholics opposed to the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 event that led to wide reforms across the global church.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter
- On the Latin Mass, Pope Francis pulls off the band-aid, By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis: Canada visit will be a ‘penitential pilgrimage’
“The papal trip to Canada next week will be a ‘penitential pilgrimage’ to bring healing and reconciliation, Pope Francis said Sunday (Jul. 17). The pope is scheduled to travel to the Canadian cities of Edmonton, Quebec City, and Iqaluit from July 24-29. There he will meet members of Canadian indigenous groups, residential school abuse survivors, and Catholics. ‘Next Sunday, God willing, I will leave for Canada; therefore, I wish now to address all the people of that country,’ Francis said after the Angelus on July 17.” By Hannah Brockhaus for CAN, in The Catholic World Report
- Pope set for historic apology for school abuses in Canada, By Nicole Winfield and Peter Smith, Associated Press
- Pope Francis: the pontiff’s ‘pilgrimage of penance’ to Canada, By Nadine Yousif, BBC News
I’m a Catholic priest. But please don’t call me Father.
“I have been a priest for almost 20 years, and I have never liked being called ‘Father.’ I dislike it so much that each year on Father’s Day some mischievous members of my family purposely make a point of calling to wish me a Happy Father’s Day. I dislike it so much that I’m afraid more of my family will now start doing the same. I know: What’s the big deal? It’s like calling your physician ‘Doctor.’ It’s like telling your kids to refer to their friends’ parents as ‘Mr. and Mrs.’ rather than ‘Tellulah and the Boz.’ It’s like referring to the guy in charge of your unit as ‘Sarge.’ It’s just a job title.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review
Will three women really shake up the Vatican’s bishop-aking process?
“On July 13, a glass ceiling in the Vatican was broken when Pope Francis appointed three women to the Dicastery for Bishops, giving them seats around a key decision-making table. The Dicastery for Bishops is responsible for advising the pontiff in the selection of new prelates based on the information gathered by the Vatican’s embassies throughout the world. It is led by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet and staffed with many cardinals as advisers. Widely acknowledged as a historic leap, Pope Francis’ decision could produce a culture change in one of the Vatican’s most influential offices, since the appointment of a bishop has a long-term impact on the local and universal Church. However, for these appointments to be truly significant, their voices will need to carry the same weight as other members of the department when giving explanations as to why a candidate should become a bishop or why someone should be taken out of consideration. Otherwise, this will be viewed as nothing more than a move to fill a quota.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com, on AngelusNews.com
- Bishops must be good listeners, says nun at Vatican who helps select them, By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
Vatican efforts to clean house in Chile stopped too soon, advocates say
“The Catholic Church in Chile today resembles a lighthouse with a broken lightbulb — the bishops have lost all credibility — and the Vatican has seemingly abandoned efforts to fix it. On the one hand, at Pope Francis’s direct order, two top Vatican officials compiled a 2,300-page report in 2018, which included a long string of allegations against bishops, priests, religious and lay church employees, documenting sexual abuse, abuses of conscience and power, and a decades-long coverup. The report by Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith was hand-delivered to the pope.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Vatican puts brakes on German church reform proposals
“The Vatican put the brakes on the German Catholic Church’s reform path Thursday (Jul. 21), warning against any effort to impose new moral or doctrinal norms on the faithful on such hot-button issues as homosexuality, married priests and women’s roles in the church. The Holy See issued a statement warning that any attempts at imposing new doctrines ‘would represent a wound to the ecclesial union and a threat to the unity of the church.’ The statement marked the second time the Holy See has weighed in publicly to rein in progressives in Germany who initiated a reform process with lay Catholics as a response to the clergy sexual abuse scandals.” By Associated Press
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Why ‘trads’ seek to root the church’s future in the past
“If you’ve never attended a Latin Mass before, just know that no one is going to tell you what’s going on. Most likely, no one will talk to you at all—though you might get a mischievous smile from the little boy on the other end of the pew, fidgeting his way between his brothers and sisters while you try to give his mother a sympathetic nod … If you take the opportunity to attend a Latin Mass, you could be transported to another place and time. A time when Mass attendance was much more obligatory and serving as an altar boy, even on weekdays, was a matter of course. A time when Catholic families were big, parents were married, and women stayed at home to manage their burgeoning households.” By Angela Denker, U.S. Catholic
Orange County Catholic priest under investigation for mission funds
“When parishioners donate to their church, it’s thought the money will be used for good. So, when the archdiocese sent a letter to churchgoers at Saint Mother Teresa’s in Newburgh that their former priest is under investigation for possibly stealing from the parish, you can imagine the surprise. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office says Father William Damroth is under investigation after Catholic leaders said possible discrepancies were found during an audit.” By Blaise Gomez, News12 Westchester
Vatican overhauls investments in bid to turn page on scandals
“The Vatican is set to centralize the financial investments of its institutions, in a bid by Pope Francis to turn the page on decades of scandals that have tarnished the reputation of the Catholic church. Francis has made transparency and accountability priorities for the Vatican’s finances, after decades of scandals from the bankruptcy of the Vatican-owned Banco Ambrosiano in 1982 to the fraud-ridden purchase of a building in London’s upscale Chelsea district. The continued existence of dozens of funds managed by Vatican-linked institutions with little or no central oversight has often been at the root of controversial decisions.” By Flavia Rotondi, Bloomberg
- Vatican bans investments in porn, weapons, other products at odds with doctrine, By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
State government clears Indian cardinal on contested real estate deals
“A cardinal who leads India’s Syro-Malabar Church has been cleared by his state government of charges of wrongdoing related to real estate deals estimated to have resulted in losses of around $10 million. The financial controversy led to protests from some of his own clergy and laity, and his temporary loss of administrative authority by Vatican edict in 2018. Officials of the Kerala state government, where Cardinal Mar George Alencherry’s Archdiocese of Ernakulam-Angamaly is located, recently filed an affidavit with India’s Supreme Court asserting that nothing illegal took place with regard to the land deals.” By Nirmala Carvalho
Analysis: Pope Francis apologized to the Indigenous Peoples in Canada. Was it enough?
“The excited and continuous beating of drums filled the circular, tented space at Ermineskin Cree Nation territory in Maskwacis, Alberta. Pope Francis waited—with a sense of gravity and solemnity clearly visible on his face—as he sat on stage for proceedings to begin at Muskwa Park, the site of one of Canada’s former Catholic Church-run residential schools, and a place that today is also a sacred meeting ground for the Cree Nation. Here, the pope was expected to make a long-awaited and promised apology for the Catholic Church’s involvement in residential schools and the abuses perpetrated there for more than a century by priests and consecrated religious women and men.” By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review
- Pope Francis issues an historic apol
Deep dive: the painful history of the Catholic Church in Canada
“Pope Francis’ highly anticipated visit to Canada begins July 24, when he will meet first with Indigenous leaders, rather than with the Canadian government or bishops. The visit is, primarily, one to the Indigenous Peoples of Canada, who hope that the pope will apologize on Indigenous lands for the abuses perpetrated in Catholic-run residential schools. In a special deep-dive episode of ‘Inside the Vatican,’ residential school survivors, church leaders and a historian explain how and why Catholic religious orders like the Oblates of Mary Immaculate partnered with the Canadian government to operate schools that forcibly removed Indigenous children from the care of their parents—which flew in the face of Catholic teaching on the importance of the family—and aimed, as Canada’s Department of Indian affairs once put it, to ‘Kill the Indian; save the man.’ By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review
The Dallas Charter needs a redo after 20 years
“There are various metrics by which one can judge the progress of the U.S. bishops in handling sex-abuse cases since the Dallas Charter, 20 years ago. The most obvious one is the number of cases of abuse reported to law enforcement and the Church. That metric is not without value but also can be misleading. As we know, victims almost always wait decades before reporting (after all, they were threatened minors when abused) and by that time they may not be inclined to open old wounds.” By Janet E. Smith, National Catholic Register
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
The Church must do more for survivors of sexual abuse, Vatican official says
“The Church must do more for anyone affected by sexual abuse, ‘even when the Church can appear tarnished because of these scandals,’ and no matter what the local conditions are, according to Father Andrew Small. The English priest is the interim secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Safeguarding of Minors, which provides recommendations and support to dioceses around the world.” By Andrea Gagliarducce, Catholic News Agency
Do not hide reality of abuse, Pope tells religious orders
“Religious orders must never tolerate the abuse of children or vulnerable persons, and they must end the practice of moving alleged abusers to other countries, Pope Francis said yesterday (Jul. 14). Departing from his prepared remarks during a meeting with members of three religious congregations – the Order of the Mother of God, the Basilians of St Josaphat and the Congregation of the Mission – the Pope called on them to ‘not hide this reality.’ ‘Please remember this well: Zero tolerance on abuse against children or disabled persons; zero tolerance,’ he said.” By CathNews.com
- Pope tells religious orders to report abuse, protect others, By Associated Press on Religion News Service
Desolate country: mapping clergy sexual abuse in native America
“In the United States, Jesuits are best-known for teaching in high schools and colleges. They also directed missions to Indigenous communities during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Between 2001 and 2009 the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus paid tens of millions of dollars to settle claims by 200 mainly Indigenous survivors of sexual abuse. In 2009 the province filed for bankruptcy, and two years later in a bankruptcy settlement it agreed to pay $166 million to about 500 additional survivors. In 2017 the Oregon Province united with the California Province under the name ‘Jesuits West.’ The next year, this Western Province published a list of Jesuits with ‘credible claims of sexual abuse of a minor or vulnerable adult,’ dating to 1950.” By desolatecountry.com
Father of ex-choirboy sues Pell, Church
“The father of an ex-choirboy is suing Cardinal George Pell and the Catholic Church claiming he has suffered psychological injury over his deceased son’s alleged sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell was in 2018 convicted of molesting two teenage choirboys in the sacristy at St Patrick’s Cathedral while he was Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. Pell has always maintained his innocence and his conviction was quashed in a unanimous decision by the High Court in 2020, after the judges found there wasn’t enough evidence for a jury to convict him beyond reasonable doubt.” By Yahoo News
Bakersfield priest’s defamation suits should be dismissed, appeals court says
“Less than a week after former Bakersfield-based Roman Catholic Monsignor Craig Harrison settled a defamation suit with the Fresno Catholic Diocese over statements made in connection with an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct, a Fresno appeals court tossed out two others. Friday (Jul. 22), the Fifth District Court of Appeals ruled in two separate but connected defamation suits Harrison filed against monk Justin Gilligan and Catholic activist Stephen Brady ordering Kern County judges to dismiss the suits. In 2019, Gilligan alleged that he was a victim of sexual advances from Harrison, and he said he witnessed the priest take advantage of children in a sexual manner.” By Reid Stone, The Bakersfield Sun
Catholic Church says sexual abuse allegations against Maine priest were unfounded
“A Maine priest is being returned to active ministry after a yearlong investigation by Catholic Church officials found allegations that he sexually abused two girls in the 1980s are unfounded, the Portland Diocese said Wednesday Jul. 27). The Rev. Robert Vaillancourt was placed on administrative leave last July after church officials received a complaint from a woman who said that she was sexually abused by the priest in the 1980s. Two months later, another woman came forward and said she, too, had been sexually abused by Vaillancourt during the same period. Both women were girls at the time.” By Edward D. Murphy, Portland Press Herals
‘Announcement coming’ in Maryland Catholic Church sex abuse investigation
“It’s been five decades since a group of Maryland women say they were sexually abused by a Catholic priest and other men at their Baltimore-area high school. They say they still don’t have justice, despite documenting their abuse years ago with the Archdiocese of Baltimore, in court, and in the 2017 Netflix series “The Keepers.” The series followed their stories and the unsolved murder of Sister Cathy Cesnik, a young nun who suspected the abuse was carried out –– and led — by the school’s priest A. Joseph Maskell.” By Glynis Kazanjian, ABC-TV7 News
Alleged sex offender resigns in Worcester, but critic says it’s not enough
“Following a diocesan investigation into allegations that for years he coerced vulnerable women into sex, the head of a parish soup kitchen in the Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts has resigned amid complaints from at least one accuser that the diocese itself needs to take greater responsibility. The investigation into allegations against William ‘Billy’ Riley, former head of the St. John’s Catholic Church food program, began in mid-March. The final report was published on July 14, one day after Riley resigned from his post.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com
Former Shelby Township priest sent to prison for sex abuse
“A former Macomb County priest will spend years in prison after being convicted of sex abuse, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today. Judge Diane Druzinski sentenced Neil Kalina, 67, to up to 15 years in prison after the former priest was convicted on two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct (CSC) by a jury in Macomb County Circuit Court last month. Kalina was a priest at St. Kiernan Catholic Church in Shelby Township from 1982-1985.” By Michigan Department of Attorney General on Michigan.gov
Call for reports of Daniel Kenney, ‘the monkey priest’
“Researchers at Creighton University have reached out to Into Account about numerous reports from men who describe grooming, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse perpetrated by Rev Daniel Kenney, known as ‘The Monkey Priest,’ formerly active at Creighton Preparatory School and Camp Buford, a children’s wilderness camp in Wyoming. Some of Kenney’s behaviors include memorizing student schedules, appearing wherever they were throughout the day, pulling students out of class, asking invasive questions about their private lives including about masturbation, providing ‘counseling’ in which he asked about masturbation and sexual thoughts, bringing boys to confession, and asking boys to undress.” By intoaccount.org
How many New Jersey priests have been accused?
“The Roman Catholic dioceses in New Jersey have released more than 180 names of New Jersey priests and other clergy who allegedly sexually abused children. The internal investigation named 63 men from the Newark Archdiocese, according to the Democrat & Chronicle. Of the priests included on the list, 33 have died, while the same number had more than one victim. Eight of the currently-living priests have been accused of abusing multiple victims, and all of these men have been defrocked. The Camden Diocese published 56 names, Trenton 31 names, Paterson 29 names, and Metuchen 14 names, according to a comprehensive list from ProPublica cited by Patch.com.” By Joanna Szabo, TopClassActions.com
Albany bishop to ‘walk with’ alleged clergy abuse victim
“Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has agreed to meet on the steps of Corpus Christi Church in Round Lake on Sunday with a 47-year-old man who was allegedly sexually abused as a child by a former priest. The unprecedented encounter — which is scheduled to take place before Scharfenberger presides over an 11 a.m. Mass at the church — was arranged after the alleged victim, Stephen Mittler, wrote a letter inviting the Albany bishop and other officials with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany to follow through on their pledge to ‘walk with the survivors.’” By Brandan J. Lyons, Albany Times Union
Attorney who handled Boston diocese sex abuse claims to mediate Albany’s
“A Massachusetts attorney who oversaw the settlement of 552 cases of sexual abuse against the Archdiocese of Boston, and a New York City attorney with extensive experience managing sexual misconduct funds, have been selected to mediate hundreds of claims filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany under the Child Victims Act. Paul A. Finn, who received a ‘lawyer of the year’ award in 2003 for his work resolving the claims filed against the Boston archdiocese, and Simone Lelchuk, who specializes in mediation and allocation of settlement funds, were selected during negotiations this week between the Albany diocese and attorneys for roughly 440 victims who have filed claims.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Albany Times Union
Youngstown diocese releases findings in sex abuse investigation of Struthers priest
“A Youngstown Catholic Diocese oversight board determined though a Struthers priest had ‘inappropriate physical contact’ with a minor, it ‘did not rise to the level of sexual abuse.’ The diocese announced Sunday (Jul. 17) in a news release that board’s decision, following an independent third-party investigation into Father Marian Babjak, most recently of Christ Our Savior Parish in Struthers, who was accused in November 2021 of sexually abusing a child. That victim is now an adult, according to the diocese.” By Mahoning Matters Staff
- Rev. Marian Babjak and Christ our Savior Parish, Struthers, By Justin Huyck, Catholic Diocese of Youngstown
Former Yakima bishop reprimanded by pope for ‘mistakes’
“The Vatican has issued a formal reprimand to the former bishop of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, according to media reports confirmed to The Pillar by diocesan officials. Bishop Carlos Sevilla, SJ, was formally reprimanded by the Vatican over his handling of allegations of clerical sexual abuse in the eastern Washington diocese. Sevilla led the Yakima diocese from 1996 until his retirement in 2011, when he was succeeded by Bishop Joseph Tyson.” By The Pillar
Washington Post report says DRC bishop covered up rape allegations
“Nicolas Djomo, a recently retired bishop in the Diocese of Tshumbe, Democratic Republic of Congo, failed to follow Vatican guidelines in dealing with allegations of a 2020 rape of a 14-year-old girl by a diocesan priest, The Washington Post reported in a major investigation that appeared as a front-page story July 15. ‘The nuns, priests and the alleged victim who pressed Djomo about the accusations say he orchestrated a coverup that upended the life of the victim, kept his own reputation intact and absolved the alleged abuser within the church’s own system,’ said the article, reported and written by Chico Harlan, The Post’s Rome bureau chief, and Alain Uaykani.” By Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
Cardinal George Pell And The Catholic Church Sued In Civil Case
“Just over two years after he walked free from jail, George Pell is once again facing court action. The Cardinal and the Catholic Church are being sued in a civil case. Shine Lawyers’ chief legal officer, Lisa Flynn, joins us.” By YouTube.com
- Australian cardinal, archdiocese sued in alleged choirboy abuse case, By Catholic News Service on UCANews.com
Ahead of papal visit, Canadian bishops begin payouts to Indigenous communities
“With Pope Francis’ visit to Canada just days away, the country’s bishops have announced that a special fund to support healing and reconciliation efforts with indigenous communities has begun accepting proposals. The Indigenous Reconciliation Fund was established in 2022 to support and advance healing and reconciliation initiatives with indigenous communities, following a pledge by the Canadian bishops last year. In September 2021, the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) announced a $30 million financial pledge over the next five years to support projects aimed at healing and reconciliation.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com, in The Tablet
- Indigenous Canadians hope Pope Francis will do more than apologize, By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter
- When pope visits Canada, Indigenous people look for healing – and action, By Anna Mehler Paperny
- Residential schools, the Jesuits of Canada and the process of reconciliation, By Aleteia.org
- Indigenous woman says she feels heard as accused priest has first court appearance, By Kelly Geraldine Malone, The Canadian Press, on SteinbachOnline.org
Court approves sale of 42 Catholic church properties to settle abuse victims claims
“The Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador has approved the sale of 42 properties belonging to the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. John’s, including 12 churches, as dozens more church property sales loom across eastern Newfoundland. The move will reshape the landscape for Catholics in the St. John’s area and beyond as the church — which has been held liable for sexual and physical abuse at the Mount Cashel orphanage — raises money to settle victim claims from the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s.” By Heather Gilles, CBC News
Catholic dioceses failed in past to raise money promised to survivors. Will they now?
“When 48 Catholic church entities signed on to fundraise $25 million for survivors under the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement, it was spelled out they would do so through their ‘best efforts.’ Ken Young puts it another way. ‘It was a weasel clause,’ the former Manitoba regional chief of the Assembly of First Nations said in a recent interview. ‘And they used it.’” By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press, on MooseJawToday.com
Quebec judge rejects $28-million class-action settlement in Catholic Church sex-abuse case
“A Quebec Superior Court judge has rejected a $28-million settlement in a sex abuse lawsuit against a Catholic religious order because of the high legal fees associated with the agreement. The agreement would have awarded the Montreal law firm Arsenault, Dufresne and Wee, which represented the plaintiffs, more than $8 million in fees. Justice Thomas M. Davis wrote in a July 4 decision that those fees were ‘excessive’ and not in the interest of the more than 375 sexual abuse victims who were part of the class action.” By Montreal Gazette
Quebec abuse victims call on Pope Francis for ‘swift justice’ before visit to Canada
“Quebec victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy are calling on Pope Francis to deliver ‘swift justice’ to them ahead of his visit to Canada at the end of the month. In an open letter to the pontiff made public Thursday (Jul. 13), lawyers for victims said more than 2,500 people who were abused by clergy are waiting to obtain justice before the courts in Quebec. ‘Some religious congregations use manoeuvers that we believe are contrary to the interests of victims,’ says the letter signed by victims and their lawyers. ‘These strategies have resulted in delays of more than 10 years in some cases.’” By Yahoo News
- Catholic Church’s promise to help bring Johannes Rivoire to justice still lacks detail, By Randi Beers, Nunatsiaq News
- Canada asks France to extradite accused priest, French diplomatic source says, By Mathieu Rosemain, Reuters
The Vatican and pedophilia. The absent gospel
“With this title, Editorial Catalonia has just published a book on the subject. The idea has been to delineate as accurately as possible the dimensions of the phenomenon and to search for its deepest historical roots in order to understand it and to be able to contribute to overcoming this very serious problem as soon as possible. The most serious aspect of the problem is the global scope it has acquired, both the profusion of cases of ecclesiastical pedophilia in recent decades and, above all, the disastrous policies of the Vatican and the majority of the world’s episcopates and religious congregations in concealing the crimes and protecting their perpetrators.” By FelipePortales, PressSenza.com
The islands didn’t escapte the church’s legacy of sexual abuse
“The Marist Brothers and Fathers have educated prime ministers, judges, cardinals and All Blacks at their prestigious Catholic high schools. But their record of sexual abuse is horrific. Worse still was their handling of the abuse when it was exposed. In this series, The Secret History, Steve Kilgallon investigates the power, abuse and cover-ups at the heart of two highly-influential and wealthy religious groups. This is Part 7. The remaining chapters will be published in the coming weeks.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stiuff
GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES
Joseph Quigley: Birmingham archbishop saw abusive priest as ‘struggling’
“A priest who assaulted children was seen by his Archdiocese as ‘struggling’ rather than abusive, a report found. Joseph Quigley, a former Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Birmingham, was jailed last year. A report by Barnado’s found the church was aware of concerns but did not listen to victims, challenge his behavior or deal with complaints. The authors made 18 recommendations which the Archdiocese accepted in full. It apologized for its failures.” By BBC News
Priest, teacher booked for sexually abusing minor a decade ago
“The city police, acting on directions from the National Human Rights Commission, have booked eight persons, including a church priest and a teacher, for sexually abusing a minor girl a decade ago. The East Division Women Police Station has registered a case under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012, for rape and outraging the modesty of a woman under the Indian Penal Code. The sexual abuse reportedly took place on a church premises when the victim was 10 years old.” By The Hindu
The sexual predators plaguing Indonesian schools
“The arrest of several alleged sexual predators over the past few weeks has revealed the bitter reality of sexual violence against Indonesian children, particularly at religion-based schools. The latest arrest last week was of a Quran teacher in East Java for allegedly raping four underage girls in his care. One of them is pregnant and will soon deliver. A few days earlier, police arrested Mohammad Subchi Azal Tsani for allegedly raping girls at a school founded and run by his father, a respected Muslim cleric in East Java. It took days for the police to nab him, as his supporters had declared war against the police.” By Siktus Harson, UCANews.com
The whitewash: how the Marists cleaned the reputations of dead pedophiles
“The Marist Brothers and Fathers have educated prime ministers, judges, cardinals and All Blacks at their prestigious Catholic high schools. But their record of sexual abuse is horrific. Worse still was their handling of the abuse when it was exposed. In this series,The Secret History, Steve Kilgallon investigates the power, abuse and cover-ups at the heart of two highly-influential and wealthy religious groups. This is Part 5. More chapters will be published in the coming weeks.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff
“… the first time women have been appointed to the Dicastery responsible for identifying future bishops globally.”By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican News
Pope Francis on Wednesday named three women to the Dicastery for Bishops, the first time women have been appointed to the Dicastery responsible for identifying future bishops globally.
The Holy See Press Office published the Pope’s latest appointments to the Dicastery in a statement on Wednesday.
The female members are Sister Raffaella Petrini, F.S.E., Secretary General of the Governorate of the Vatican City State; Sister Yvonne Reungoat, F.M.A, former Superior General of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians; and, Dr. Maria Lia Zervino, President of the World Union of Catholic Women’s Organizations.
The nomination of Ms. Zervino also marks the first appointment ever of a laywoman to the Vatican Dicastery.
By Deborah Castellan Luboc, Vatican News — Read more …
It does seem to beggar belief that, shortly after a census revealed that Australians are abandoning the institutional churches in droves – for reasons including the exclusion of women from leadership, along with sex abuse scandals, irrelevance and treatment of LGBTQI people – that a group of bishops could so readily dismiss a simple, plaintive motion asking women be heard.By Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald
“‘Embarrassing. Shocking. Scandalous and absolutely unacceptable.’ The 86-year-old Benedictine nun Sister Joan Chittister was in bed this week – recovering from a bout of COVID – when she read that the plenary council of the Australian Catholic Church had refused to pass two pretty gentle, anodyne motions supporting women in positions of leadership in the church. It felt like ‘a red hot poker’ ran through her.
“Sister Joan, a best-selling American author of more than 50 books, has a large, devoted progressive global following and a profile rare for a nun, being interviewed by Oprah and appearing on Meet the Press. She has spent the past few weeks touring Australia to packed audiences, speaking about the need for renewal in the church, and the need for leaders to listen.
“But after the meeting of the plenary council – the highest formal gathering of all local churches and the first in Australia since 1937 – she called me in a state of flaming indignation: ‘The proof is in. You needn’t wear yourself out trying to convince women that the church really appreciates them, their work, their presence, their talents. They know now – right out of the mouth of the episcopacy that voted against them.’
“So what were these motions the bishops dared not approve?”
By Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald — Read more …
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 …
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:
- Women ministered as deacons in the past.
- 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
Much of the change has been fueled at the top by Pope Francis, who in his nearly decadelong papacy has repeatedly elevated the work of religious women.By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
“When Pope Francis met more than 850 religious sisters attending the International Union of Superiors General plenary meeting in Rome in 2019, the pope insisted that the chair for the body’s then-president, Sr. Carmen Sammut, be seated right next to him.
“At the time, both Sammut, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, and those in the room were touched by the pope’s deeply symbolic gesture to level the playing field.
“Now, as delegates from around the globe prepare to travel again to Rome for this year’s May 2-6 plenary, a wave of new appointments of sisters inside the Vatican has made it clear that Francis is backing that symbolism up with substantive changes and making room for more women religious to have a permanent seat at the table.
“‘Change takes time,’ said Sr. Patricia Murray, executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General, which represents 600,000 sisters from around the globe.”
By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Read more ...