Francis is set to open a worldwide synod process. U.S. dioceses don’t seem prepared. / National Catholic Reporter
Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.National Catholic Reporter
“With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like.
“A range of dioceses contacted by NCR in recent weeks said they were still working out the details for the consultation period and would be in a better position to comment on the synod in coming weeks, after Pope Francis formally opens the two-year synod process with a ceremony in Rome on Oct. 9.
“Officials who agreed to interviews described plans that relied on parish listening sessions, online surveys, Zoom meetings and other avenues to get feedback from laity.
“‘It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and for bishops all over the world to develop better habits of consultation with our people,’ Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, told NCR …
“Francis announced in May that he would be expanding the scope of the next synod, originally set for 2022. He postponed the Vatican meeting of bishops, now set for October 2023, to allow first for periods of consultation in every local diocese and at the continental level.
“Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.”
By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Catholic women feel called to be deacons. The church should listen to their stories. / America: The Jesuit Review
“The church has been discerning the question of female deacons for decades. And now the whole church has an opportunity to engage in a discernment about the diaconate.”America: The Jesuit Review
“Is the church being called to receive women into the permanent order of deacons?
“Are women being called by God to serve as deacons in the church? And what role do Sunday Mass-goers, lapsed Catholics and daily communicants play in discerning responses to such questions?
“In the form of theological studies, sociological research and papal commissions, the church has been discerning the question of female deacons for decades. And now, thanks to the synod that begins this October, the whole church has an opportunity to engage in a discernment about the diaconate.
“In the synod, Pope Francis has called the church to consider the shape of our life together and to listen to one another, to ‘plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.’ In the context of the synod, ‘all are invited to speak with courage…integrating freedom, truth, and charity.’ In other words: Every Catholic on planet Earth is invited to join together and ask fundamental questions about how we are to journey as the people of God in the 21st century.”
By Casey Stanton, America: The Jesuit Review, Read more …
‘They knew and they let it happen’: Uncovering child abuse in the Catholic Church / The Boston Globe
The Spotlight Team revealed the church’s secret protection of pedophile priests in a series with global repercussions.The Boston Globe
“On his first day on the job in July 2001, Globe editor Martin Baron stopped by the desk of Eileen McNamara, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. A week earlier, McNamara had published a column about the Boston Archdiocese’s silence on three priests accused of sexually abusing children. One line, in particular, had irked Baron. McNamara had wondered whether an accused priest’s superiors had known about his crimes. Court documents were sealed. ‘The public,’ she concluded, ‘has no way of knowing.’
“McNamara recalls Baron standing over her desk: ‘Why don’t we find out,’ he said.
“Spotlight’s investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church did not begin with a tip or newly obtained document, as so many investigations do. Instead, it started when a new Globe editor spurred his newsroom to action. After telling the Globe’s senior leaders he intended to pursue the story, Baron asked Spotlight editor Walter V. Robinson to make sexual abuse by priests his team’s next project.
“Robinson, a three-decade newsroom veteran, was taken aback. ‘Editors never told the Spotlight Team what to do,’ Robinson says. ‘The Spotlight Team told the editor what it was going to do.’ But it was clear that this wasn’t a debate. Robinson returned to Spotlight’s office and instructed his team — Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Matthew Carroll — to get to work.
“The story wasn’t new to them. The Globe had been covering the abuse cases for a decade, and other outlets had been on the story for even longer. ‘I always remind people we didn’t reveal the existence of priest sex abuse,’ Rezendes says. Rather, Spotlight set out to do what it does best: reveal the systemic problem behind the individual stories. ‘What we did that was new,’ Rezendes continues, ‘was show the scale of the issue and the coverup.'”
By Joseph P. Kahn and Mike Damiano, The Boston Globe — Read more …
Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it? / National Catholic Reporter
Success for bishops not focused on controlling power will be listening and honestly reporting the needs of the people.National Catholic Reporter
“Pope Francis’ plan is for ordinary Catholics to have their say. It begins with the coming synod, which opens in Rome on Oct. 9 and in every diocese in the world on Oct. 17.
“The problem: No one seems to know about it. The bigger problem: U.S. bishops don’t seem to care.
“It’s called ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ While Francis truly wants all Catholics to pray and talk about the needs of today’s church, his plan depends on diocesan participation. As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t.
“Here’s how things are supposed to work. Last May, Rome asked every bishop for the name of the person managing his diocesan synodal process. The bishop then is to open his local synod Oct. 17, collect input from parishes, and report to his national episcopal conference.
By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Called to Contribute: Findings from an In-depth Interview Study of US Catholic Women and the Diaconate / By Tricia Bruce,
“Women comprise the majority of US Catholics and the majority of lay ministers in the U.S. Catholic Church. While the ordained diaconate remains the exclusive realm of men, women engage in expansive service that overlaps core diaconal functions in word, liturgy, and charity. Many women feel specifically called to be deacons or express an openness to discerning such a call should the vocational path become available to them. Escalating global attention to the question of women and the diaconate compels social scientific research to enhance knowledge regarding how contemporary women experience and fulfill their felt call in the Catholic Church.” By Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D., author of “Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church”
Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document
“The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops presents the base text and ‘vademecum’ – or handbook – to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality. Listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage and parrhesia; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with the other Christian confessions. The General Secretariat for the Synod has published the Preparatory Document, along with a Vademecum (or handbook) to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality(link is external). The solemn opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17; and will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world. The Preparatory Document, released on Tuesday, is intended above all to be an instrument facilitating the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will take place from October 2021 to April 2022.” By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News
- Vatican releases guidance for dioceses to begin synodal path(link is external), By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis is preparing a radical reform of the church’s power structures
“In 2001, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was a rapporteur for the summit of bishops at the Vatican — and he did not like what he saw. The Catholic Church had adopted a top-to-bottom approach that stripped local churches of any decision-making power, and the synod of bishops was reduced to nothing more than a stamp of approval(link is external) for prepackaged conclusions made in Rome. When Bergoglio emerged as Pope Francis in the 2013 conclave, the synodal process was high on his list for reform.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service
New group discerning the future of a female diaconate
“Jessica Morel is approaching a heart-wrenching crossroads. Morel, a 42-year-old Catholic mother of four, is in the midst of a five-year education and discernment process with the U.S. Army to become a military chaplain. The problem is, there is no pathway for women to become Catholic chaplains in the military, and the military requires chaplains to be ordained. Seeking support, Morel discovered Discerning Deacons(link is external), an organization that brings together Catholics, including women discerning the diaconate, to learn, pray and discern the possible future of a permanent diaconate open to women.” By Sophie Vodvarka, National Catholic Reporter
- New women deacons commission to meet with unclear agenda(link is external), By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter
Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, 91, due in court in sex assault case
“Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the once-powerful prelate who was expelled from the priesthood for sexual abuse, is due in court Friday (Sept. 3) to face accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy(link is external) during a wedding reception in Massachusetts nearly 50 years ago. McCarrick, 91, is scheduled to be arraigned and is expected to enter a plea in suburban Boston’s Dedham District Court more than a month after he was charged. McCarrick is the only U.S. Catholic cardinal, current or former, ever to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.” By Alanna Durkin Richer, Associated Press, in Cruxnow.com
- Former Cardinal McCarrick pleads not guilty to sex assault(link is external), By Alanna Durkin Richer, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter
- Former Cardinal McCarrick pleads not guilty; two more lawsuits filed(link is external), By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot
- In McCarrick arraignment, activists see new phase in accountability push(link is external), By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com
- Two new N.J. lawsuits sue McCarrick for abuse(link is external), By The Editor, Essex News Daily
Vatican won’t say if women can vote in upcoming Synod of Bishops
“Vatican officials declined on Tuesday (Sept. 7) to say if women would be able to vote on concrete proposals about the future of the Catholic Church at the end of a two-year process of consultation(link is external) of ordinary faithful that Pope Francis kicks off next month. For years, women activists and even nuns have pressed to be able to vote at Synod of Bishops meetings, which bring together the Catholic hierarchy to Rome to discuss pressing issues facing the 1.3-billion strong church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review
The Catholic Church and the Art of the Coverup
“It was the summer of 2011, and I was summoned to the office of a psychologist in Dallas, and Raymond Fitzgerald, the President of Jesuit High School, who flew from New Orleans to attend. Jesuit paid for the psychologist as a part of their due diligence, to determine if I was telling the truth about my abuse at the hands of Peter Modica, a janitor, and Cornelius Carr, a Theology teacher at the school … Up until that point, there were the occasional civil suits. The Church would publicly lament in the media; ‘Who are these great accusers who are out to destroy our Church?’ when they damn well knew what they had done(link is external) and what they were doing. In that same breath, they were privately settling cases, and requiring our silence.” By Richard WIndmann, President of Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse, in The Big Easy Magazine
Gonzaga sex abuse report recommends actions as university faces its own complicity
“Gonzaga University, a Jesuit-run institution in the state of Washington, has established a special research fund to study sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) and is taking steps to support local community members who have been particularly impacted by the crisis, especially Indigenous and Native students. Those initiatives are among several recommendations that were outlined in a 46-page report that the university released Sept. 1 from its University Commission on Gonzaga’s Response to the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis. The commission’s work coincided with media reports that detailed a decades-long pattern of sexually abusive Jesuits being permitted to live on campus while being shielded from accountability.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter
FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION
Get ready: Another synod is coming
“Another synod will be taking place in the Archdiocese of Miami this year, but this time, Pope Francis will be doing the ‘listening.’ The archdiocese held its Second General Synod from April 2012 to October 2013, with Archbishop Thomas Wenski spending the summer of 2012 visiting more than a dozen parishes, sitting and listening to parishioners’ answers to several questions. Something similar will happen at the Synod of Bishops set to take place in October 2023 in Rome — except it will be the world’s bishops meeting, after listening to the world’s Catholics(link is external), and making recommendations to Pope Francis for the universal Church. The official title of this synod is ‘Towards a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.’ The shorthand title is ‘Synod on synodality.’” By Ana Rodriguez-Soto, Florida Catholic of the Archdiocese of Miami
Catholic Church is failing to embrace reform, says McAleese
“The Catholic Church has yet to make positive progress towards being able truly to listen to the voices of minority voices and the laity as a whole(link is external), according to former President of Ireland Dr Mary McAleese. Addressing the Root and Branch lay-led inclusive synod, she said that she does not ‘find Pope Francis inspirational at all.’ She said: ‘Why have the hopes and promises of Vatican II disappeared to a dead end?’ Commenting on plans for the 2023 Synod of Bishops on synodality, she felt there was no move to stop lay discussion continuing to be ‘kept well away from matters of doctrine.’” By Scarlett Sherriff, The Tablet
Pope rejects German archbishop’s resignation over abuse
“Pope Francis has rejected the resignation of the archbishop of Hamburg, who offered to step down in March after a report faulted him for his handling of sexual abuse allegations in his previous diocese(link is external). The papal nuncio’s office in Berlin said in a statement Wednesday (Sept. 15) that the pontiff made his decision after two envoys traveled to Cologne in June to look into possible mistakes by senior church officials there in handling past sexual abuse cases. Stefan Hesse, Hamburg’s archbishop since 2015, previously served in several senior roles in the Cologne archdiocese.” By Geir Moulson, Associated Press
Former Irish president McAleese ramps up criticism of Pope Francis
“A former president of Ireland has expressed reservations about Pope Francis’ leadership of the global Catholic Church(link is external), telling a British church reform movement that the pontiff is ‘a conservative leader’ who is blessed with enemies who make him look more liberal than he is. Mary McAleese, a Catholic who served as the head of the Republic of Ireland from 1997-2011, cited the March document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office banning priests from blessing same-sex unions, on the grounds that God ‘cannot bless sin.’ By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter
Pope promotes theologian-priest who once testified against abusive mentor
“Pope Francis named a Chilean priest who had testified against his abusive mentor to be secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy(link is external). Archbishop-designate Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira of Santiago, the new secretary, replaces 76-year-old French Archbishop Joël Mercier, who retired in September. His appointment, announced Sept. 8, goes into effect Oct. 1. … The 52-year-old archbishop-designate was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile in 1999. According to court testimony, in 1988 when he was 19, he met the late Fernando Karadima, a former priest who was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2018.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service
Podcast: Can Pope Francis’ Latin Mass restrictions unify the church?
“This summer, Pope Francis made the controversial decision to place significant restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine Latin Mass. He said that a survey of the world’s bishops showed that John Paul II and Benedict XVI’s generosity in allowing the pre-Vatican II Mass to be celebrated had been ‘exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the church…and expose her to the peril of division(link is external).’” By Coleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review
The resignation of the Bishop of Broome raises some big questions for the Catholic Church
“Has the Catholic church in Australia, at its most senior levels, learned anything from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about good governance, transparency, and justice for those who are at the margins? The resignation of the Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders, has left a significant level of disturbance and dispute within the diocese.(link is external) He is 71, and it is unusual that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a bishop under the standard retirement age of 75. The matter has proven highly contentious. Sexual misconduct allegations have been aired, along with claims of significant managerial problems …” By Noel Debien, ABC Religion and Ethics
Blocked from serving their church, Catholic women push for female deacons
“Casey Stanton wanted to offer encouragement, love and healing to the inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, where she served as a chaplain intern a few years ago. But as a Catholic woman she could not represent her church there in any official capacity. The state of North Carolina requires chaplains in its state prison system to be ordained. And the Catholic Church does not ordain women — neither as priests, nor as deacons(link is external).” By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service
CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS
Priestly celibacy is holding back the Catholic Church
“Some mothers are so full of grace and love, that they move slowly through their world offering unconditional compassion to all, but rarely see the crisis forming in their own lives. I am afraid that the Roman Catholic Church is one example of a selfless mother that appears unwary and blind to the seeds of its own self-destruction(link is external), and sits inert, seemingly paralyzed.” By Guest Opinion by Stephen Bowman, Syracuse.com
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
A Strategy for Launching a Eucharistic Revival
“In his article Separate Challenges (September 2021), Peter Steinfels argues that the U.S. bishops do not need another document on the Eucharist but rather a strategy on the Eucharist. Many bishops agree, and have therefore proposed developing a strategy designed to lead to a Eucharistic revival in our Church. The essential starting point must be the needs of our people as they live in this present moment and culture(link is external). Context is key. Every effort should be made to avoid an ahistorical presentation of the Eucharist that is abstracted from daily life. With that in mind, I offer five themes that might be considered in shaping a process that invites dialogue with the people we serve and reflects the pastoral, catechetical, and formational challenges that are specific to the U.S. context today …” By Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Commonweal
How can Catholics Re–Member the Church when voices are so divisive?
“At VOTF Conference Re–Membering the Church, speakers will offer answers to such questions and discussion of Catholic Church issues — Headlines declaim Latin Masses, Communion wars and Vatican II attacks. Amid this divisiveness, the international group of reform-minded Catholics called Voice of the Faithful wants to Re—Member the Church, which will be discussed during its upcoming 2021 conference(link is external). Featured speakers and attendees will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.” By Digital Journal
Concerned Catholics seek healing path from sexual abuse
“Ever since the world learned about priests and brothers abusing orphan boys at Mount Cashel, for 40 years Canada’s Catholics have lived with a public image of their Church as hypocritical and defensive. As more abuse scandals rumbled across headlines and through the courts, public contempt for the Catholic Church became commonplace(link is external). Add onto this mountain of shame all that we’ve learned lately about Indian residential schools. In response, a lay movement has been growing over the last year — a network of faithful lay Catholics who are not going to live with the scandals or the paralysis of their Church anymore. Concerned Lay Catholics have been inspired by Pope Francis to take ownership of their Church and its problems. There are representatives now in nine provinces, and growing.” By Michael Swan, the Cahtolic Register
Six suggestions for the Catholic bishops’ document on the Eucharist
“The U.S. bishops are working on a document on the Eucharist, which could be very helpful if they do it right. The chances are slim.(link is external) The origins of the document go back to the bishops’ fight with pro-choice Catholic politicians, such as John Kerry, over the legalization of abortion. Some bishops, like Cardinal Raymond Burke, wanted to punish pro-choice Catholic politicians by denying them Communion. Other bishops, such as the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, disagreed. George said he did not want his priests playing cop at the Communion rail. The U.S. bishops’ conference did what it normally does when bishops disagree: nothing.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Why the Catholic Church can’t put the clergy sex abuse scandal behind it
“A day of reckoning for a once powerful prince of the Roman Catholic Church had finally come. Frail and 91, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was arraigned last week on charges that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy at Wellesley College in the 1970s. As startling and historic as that event may be, it’s years too late for those he’s accused of having abused — and for a church that still struggles to put the clergy sex abuse scandal behind it. It probably never will(link is external), at least under the current generation of church leaders — not until there are no more victims, and no more clerics to hold accountable.” By Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe
Six suggestions for the Catholic bishops’ document on the Eucharist
“The U.S. bishops are working on a document on the Eucharist, which could be very helpful if they do it right(link is external). The chances are slim. The origins of the document go back to the bishops’ fight with pro-choice Catholic politicians, such as John Kerry, over the legalization of abortion. Some bishops, like Cardinal Raymond Burke, wanted to punish pro-choice Catholic politicians by denying them Communion. Other bishops, such as the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, disagreed. George said he did not want his priests playing cop at the Communion rail. The U.S. bishops’ conference did what it normally does when bishops disagree: nothing. It left to each individual bishop to do what he thought best in his diocese.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
We owe it to clerical abuse survivors to read the whole story
“On a beautiful day in the early summer of 2018, I was puttering around my apartment and getting ready for a parish visit. I was content in my work at an archdiocese, had recently returned from a stint at the Pre-Synod on Young People at the Vatican, and was knee-deep in wedding planning. To sound cheesy, I was loving church life. Out of the blue, as I was getting ready to leave for another day of the ministry work I loved, I received a call from a friend(link is external): ‘Nicole, we didn’t want you to find out elsewhere: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been accused of sexual abuse and the accusations were found credible. The story is about to break everywhere.’” By Nicole M. Perone, U.S. Catholic
‘Procession’: Film Review | Telluride 2021
Robert Greene’s latest film, created with six men who were abused by Catholic priests and clergy(link is external), is a collaborative exercise in trauma recovery. — Memories of trauma — buried deep within the body, locked in a casket of shame — are difficult to excavate. Remembering can be a different kind of violence, so the mind resists recollecting that which has been shunned in the name of self-protection. But what happens when concealing no longer provides a certain level of safety? When the memories erupt and, in an astonishing turn of events, the mind betrays the body?” By Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter
Catholic Church pays $23.9 million to victims sexually abused by priests
“Six California Catholic dioceses including Fresno, which covers most of the Central Valley, paid $23.9 million to 197 victims abused by clergy members who opted to settle their claims instead of filing lawsuits(link is external). The last claim from victims had been processed by the Independent Compensation Program (ICP) for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Diocesan Priests in California on Sept. 2, according to announcement by the Independent Oversight Committee. The dioceses launched the ICP in September 2019 to provide any victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a priest a non-adversarial resolution, regardless of when the abuse occurred … Together, the participating dioceses comprise more than 10 million Catholics, or about 80 percent of California’s Catholic population.” By the Lost Angeles Sun Gazette
Fresno Catholic Diocese speaks out on resignation, abuse allegations against former priest
“The Diocese of Fresno has remained mostly quiet about the allegations of abuse at parishes in Firebaugh and Bakersfield made against former Monsignor Craig Harrison. ‘I’ve been asked by our bishop to read this letter to you this morning,’ said a clergy member at St. Francis Church in Bakersfield. ‘The Diocese of Fresno did receive allegations of misconduct involving seven minors against Craig Harrison(link is external),” the letter read. After an internal investigation, the letter explains the Diocesan Review Board looked over each allegation and found them to be credible. Those findings led to a case being opened within the Vatican.” By Alyssa Flores, KFSN-TV30 News
Letter from Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on the reinstatement of Father David F. Ryan
“Dear Parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Parish: Last November, I informed you of an accusation against your pastor, Father David F. Ryan, and that, in keeping with our procedures, he was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation and process could be completed. He has fully cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during these months. Following the determination by state officials, who are charged with the protection of minors, that the allegation of child abuse was unfounded(link is external), the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago investigated the allegations in accordance with our usual procedures.” By Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, on archchicago.org
- Chicago-area priest cleared of child sex abuse allegation(link is external), By Associated Press
How Nate Lindstrom’s death by suicide spurred a push for more accountability on clergy sexual abuse
“By the time he was in his mid-30s, several years after he confided to his family that he’d been the victim as a teenager of sexual abuse by three priests, Nate Lindstrom was ‘really falling apart(link is external)’ mentally and emotionally, according to his parents. So they turned to the Norbertines, a Catholic religious order in Wisconsin. Lindstrom had told his family he’d been molested beginning the summer before his freshman year of high school in Green Bay, Wis., by Norbertine priests, including the Rev. James W. Stein, then a charismatic young cleric, who later ministered in Chicago.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times
Archdiocese of Chicago removes 3 priests amid investigations into ‘inappropriate’ conduct
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is removing three priests from ministry, pending investigations into what the church calls ‘inappropriate’ conduct(link is external). In letters to parishioners Saturday (Sept.4), the archdiocese said these priests are stepping aside for relationships with other adults. The archdiocese said none of the incidents involved children. The letters also said the priests all acknowledged their behavior.” By WLS-TV7 News
DA drops sex abuse case of KCK priest. Trial ‘not in the best interests’ of victim
“Wyandotte County prosecutors have dismissed a criminal case against a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas charged with sexually abusing a minor(link is external). The Rev. Scott Kallal faced two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred in 2015. Kallal’s case went to trial in September 2019 and ended in a hung jury. A new trial — delayed due to COVID-19 — was set to take place next year, but the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case last week. The action was announced Wednesday (Sept. 8) by the KCK archdiocese.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star
Priest who led Lowell, Marlborough churches barred from public ministry, sentenced to ‘life of prayer and penance’ for sexual abuse
“A Catholic priest who formerly led parishes in Lowell and Marlborough has been barred from public ministry after an ecclesiastical panel found him guilty of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) in the 1960s, the Archdiocese of Boston said Friday (Sept. 10). In a statement, the archdiocese confirmed the resolution of the case involving Rev. Paul J. McLaughlin, the former pastor of St. Peter Parish in Lowell and Immaculate Conception Parish in Marlborough. The statement said McLaughlin, 91, had been ‘found guilty of child abuse and his sentence has been affirmed by the Vatican to live a life of Prayer and Penance.’” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe
Task force to weigh in on handling of clergy abuse reports by Springfield diocese
“After more than a year of work, a group has recommendations ready for the Springfield diocese on how it can improve its handling of allegations of clergy abuse(link is external). The final report by the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield is due to be released at 10 a.m. Wednesday (Sept. 8). The task force was initially led by retired Judge Daniel A. Ford of Pittsfield. He stepped down in early June citing a perceived conflict of interest over his role, due to his work with the law firm Egan Flanagan & Cohen, which has long represented the diocese, including on clergy abuse legal matters.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle
Catholic priest charged with rape still going to trial Oct. 5
“The trial for the Catholic priest with Cape ties charged with rape is still set to take place at the beginning of October(link is external). Fairhaven resident Mark Hession, charged with two counts of rape, indecent assault and battery on a child 14 and under and intimidating a witness, will face a jury trial starting Oct. 5. Hession pleaded not guilty in January to the charges. Hession served at 12 institutions in the Cape Cod and Fall River areas, including as parish priest from 2000 to 2014 at Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times
Diocese vows to be timely, transparent in sex abuse cases
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield on Wednesday (Sept. 8) promised to adopt a series of measures intended to improve its handling of sexual abuse allegations(link is external). The measures were recommended by a task force the diocese commissioned more than a year ago amid criticism of its handling of complaints. The panel issued its final report Wednesday and Bishop William Byrne said he will accept its suggestions.” By Associated Press
Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s legal fees exceed $2.3 million in bankruptcy case
“A nearly 3-year-old bankruptcy case filed amid hundreds of child sexual abuse allegations has cost the Archdiocese of Santa Fe more than $2.3 million in legal fees alone(link is external). Federal court records show the Roman Catholic institution has used the services of at least four law firms with expertise in cases involving clergy sexual abuse and bankruptcy. The archdiocese seeks to reach a settlement with 385 claimants in its December 2018 Chapter 11 filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque. This archdiocese and many dioceses across the nation, including the one in Gallup, have claimed bankruptcy in the Catholic Church scandal that began to receive attention in the early 1990s.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican
Santa Fe archdiocese denies it told principal not to report alleged sex abuse
“An official with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has denied the organization directed Santo Niño Regional Catholic School Principal Robin Chavez not to report to law enforcement a concern of possible child sexual abuse by a school employee(link is external). In a statement Saturday (Sept. 4), the archdiocese said, ‘At no time did we, nor would we ever, tell a school not to contact the authorities. That is a direct violation of our Policy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Abuse Awareness Training for Adults Relating to Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment.’” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican
Three Priests With Ties To Area Put On Leave
“Three retired priests with ties to northern Chautauqua County have been placed on administrative leave. Bishop Michael W. Fisher of the Buffalo Catholic diocese said action was taken after officials were informed that informational documents have been filed with the federal Bankruptcy Court as part of the diocese’s chapter 11 reorganization proceeding. Specifically, bankruptcy claimants have filed confidential documents containing information about their allegations against the priests(link is external).” By The Post-Journal
‘There’s no escape’: Memories of being raped by Catholic priest haunt Columbus man
“The metal clink of a belt being unbuckled. The room coming in and out of focus. The pressure with which the older man pinned him to the floor. These are a few of the memories that come back to Chris Graham in snapshots from years ago, when he was raped by a Catholic priest at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Powell. He was 14 years old(link is external). … Graham was a dedicated altar server at the time who looked up to priests at the parish so much that he considered becoming one.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch
GU commission releases report on Catholic sexual abuse crisis
“The University Commission on Gonzaga’s response to Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis released its 18-month report on Wednesday (Sept. 7) with recommendations for GU President Thayne McCulloh on how the university can progress as a Jesuit institution given its specific historical and geographic context. The report stops short of issuing a formal apology or putting particular parties at fault for the presence of priests with a history of sexual abuse on the university’s premises(link is external), but offers future strategies to the president for how to ameliorate the situation going forward.” By Asher Ali and Devan Iyomasa, The Gonzaga Bulletin
Argentine priest sentenced to 17 years for abuse of minors
“Just two months after the founder of his order was given a 12-year jail sentence and defrocked for sexually abusing minors, Argentine Father Nicolas Parma Wednesday (Sept. 8) was sentenced to 17 years in prison on the same charges(link is external). Formerly a member of Argentina’s Hermanos Discípulos de Jesús de San Juan Bautista, or ‘Brother Disciples of Jesus of St. John the Baptist,’ Parma was accused by multiple people of sexual abuse in 2016 alongside the order’s founder, ex-priest Augustin Rosa.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow
NSW pedophile priest believed own ‘lies’
“A Catholic priest and convicted pedophile must have believed his own lies(link is external) to give ‘demonstrably’ untrue evidence you could ‘poke a million holes through,’ a judge told a court. Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, prayed silently in an isolated suite in prison before his second sentence hearing began in the NSW District Court on Wednesday (Sept. 15).” By Greta Stonehouse, 7News.com.au
‘I guess it’s closure’: $1m settlement for victim of clerical abuse
“A former student at Rupertswood Salesian College in Sunbury has received a $1 million legal settlement more than 30 years after he was raped by Catholic priest(link is external) David Rapson. While the money will help him deal with his ailing health, Ben Monagle says nothing can compensate for the harm caused by Rapson, which triggered decades of drug abuse, mental health problems, criminal offending and estrangement from his four children.” By Cameron Houston, The Age
Montreal archbishop’s ombudswoman issues first report on abuse complaints
“Since May 5, 2021, the phone has been ringing at least once a day at the home of Marie Christine Kirouack, the Montreal lawyer to whom Archbishop Christian Lépine has entrusted the responsibility of receiving all complaints of abuse and inappropriate behavior committed by priests, staff members and volunteers of the Archdiocese of Montreal(link is external). Since the ombudswoman was named last spring, she has received hundreds of calls and many emails. In her very first quarterly report, released Sept. 9, Kirouack revealed that among all these calls, 29 denunciations were received and analyzed because they were related to sexual, physical, psychological or financial abuse.” By Frrancois Gloutnay, Catholic News Service, in The Catholic Register
Inuit upset ‘devil priest’ isn’t being pursued by federal government
“It may be too late for Marius Tungilik, but it’s not too late for other Inuit who allege they were sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) at residential school in Nunavut. “I owe it to my friend, Marius, and the five other [alleged] victims,” said Inuit elder Peter Irniq. Irniq has been lobbying for more than 10 years for Canada to prosecute retired priest Johannes Rivoire for suspected sexual abuse of children. ‘The RC [Roman Catholic church] is under pressure,’ Irniq said from his home in Ottawa. ‘The government can no longer ignore this.’” By Kathleen Martens, APTNNews.ca
GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES
Report finds ‘shocking’ failings over child sex abuse
“Child sexual abuse has been found to take place in most major UK religions, according to the latest report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Some religious organizations were found to have no child protection policies in place at all.(link is external) IICSA found “blatant hypocrisy” and “shocking failings” among religious organizations purporting to teach right from wrong and yet failing to prevent or respond to child sexual abuse. The Child protection in religious organizations and settings report examines evidence received from 38 religious organisations in England and Wales.” By The Tablet
Scots ex-priest who claims he was sexually abused by Archbishop demands Vatican release secret report
“A former priest who says he was abused by shamed Cardinal O’Brien has called for a secret Vatican report into the allegations to be released(link is external). Brian Devlin, 61, was one of four priests who accused the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh of sexual misconduct in 2013. The scandal saw the disgraced cardinal – one of the most senior Catholic clerics in the UK – quit and apologise. In the aftermath, the Vatican ordered its own internal probe, carried out by Bishop Charles Scicluna. The bishop – who has gone on to become the Archbishop of Malta – was one of the Vatican’s best known sex abuse investigators.” By The Daily Record
DK Calls for Probing Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Allegations
“The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) called for a government investigative committee to be set up to look into alleged sexual abuses of minors within the Catholic Church(link is external). DK deputy leader Ágnes Vadai told an online press conference that the committee should not limit its investigations to individual sexual abuse cases, but should also work to expose ‘systemic shortcomings,’ insisting that the Catholic Church, which she said was ‘tied to the Orbán government,’ had made no attempt to look into any of the allegations.” By Hungary Today
Less words, more actions needed to protect minors
“During the 2019 Summit of Bishops in Rome on The Protection of Minors in the Church, Catholic Church officials told a press conference that Pope Francis had given bishops a handout of 21 points — a road map for policy and law seeking to save children from abuses within the Church(link is external). On the last day of the summit, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, was among those addressing the press conference.” By Virginia Saldanha, UCANews.com
IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND
School of savagery: ‘Stuck forever in that room in Manchester with my trousers round my ankles’
“Overlying the violence and the terror there is something else. Msgr Duggan is the rector of the college, and word among the boys is that to go to his room for punishment involves dropping your trousers and underpants and is always followed by a groping(link is external) – and sometimes something worse. He is short and plump, his bald head is powdered to kill the shine, and his eyes are black, cold, dead buttons. He knows we fear him and in that knowledge he hugs his savagely twisted sexuality close – to him the smell of fear is an aphrodisiac.” By Mike Harding, The Irish Times
Woman celebrates after priest who abused her 40 years ago finally found guilty
“Fr John Joseph Murray (80) was found guilty by a jury at at Dungannon Crown Court last Friday (Sept. 3) of sexually assaulting two young girls(link is external). The unanimous verdict – which had been reached in under an hour – marked the end of the long and difficult road for two of his victims. They had both been chasing justice for 40 years. Sinead was just 11 when the abuse started. And this week as she stood outside the former St Matthew’s Parochial House in Bryson Street in east Belfast, the now 50-year-old said just being there sent shivers down her spine.” By Hugh Jordan, Sunday World
Church leaders express regret after falsely accused Irish priest takes his life
“Father Alan Griffin, who died in November last year, spent a year under scrutiny over abuse allegations without ever hearing the claims(link is external). In a response to a damning coroner’s report, church leaders accepted responsibility for their ‘poor investigation’ and ‘what went wrong.’ The earlier, scathing coroner’s report found ‘no complainant, no witness, and no accuser’ supported the allegations. Dublin-born Griffin had been a Church of England clergyman before converting to Catholicism in 2012.” By Nick Bramhill, IrishCentral.com
No abuse hearing in Dunedin called ‘slap in the face’
“A decision to not hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care hearing in Dunedin has been criticized as a ‘repulsive slap in the face’ for Southern survivors. The South, and Dunedin in particular, is considered one of the country’s epicenters for child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external). The royal commission says it has engaged with many Dunedin survivors and is committed to investigating their claims. But the Network of Survivors in Faith Based Institutions says it is failing to meet its obligations.” By Daisy Hudson, Otago Daily News
Catholic Church planned to house teen-sexting priest on primary school grounds
“The Catholic Church planned to accommodate a priest who was on bail for sex-messaging a 15-year-old girl at a house on the grounds of a primary school(link is external). Sosefo Sateki Raass, later found guilty of indecent communication with a person under 16 and sentenced to 100 hours’ community service, wasn’t told he couldn’t stay at the address until after his victim’s aunt complained to the Ministry of Education. Church officials proposed the bail address but didn’t tell police or the Auckland District Court it was so close to young children – even though Raass had a bail condition preventing any unsupervised contact with under-16s.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff.co.nz
“A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar.”Commonweal
“The most far-reaching event in the Catholic Church in my lifetime officially gets its start next month. It is Pope Francis’s boldest move yet, the historic shake-up that a Church brought low by sex-abuse scandals badly needs, and potentially the most transformative moment in Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, which it seeks to embed permanently into the life of the Church. The two-year “synod on synodality,” launched in Rome on October 9 and in dioceses worldwide a week later, is set to mark Christianity forever.
“Yet who knows it is even happening? A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar. Bishops briefed by Rome’s synod secretariat back in May have been mostly quiet about it, hiding behind cautious communiqués buried on websites, awaiting details, fearful of unleashing forces and expectations beyond their command.
“So we begin with a paradox. The path to the 2023 Synod in Rome, on the theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission,” is designed to engage every diocese, every bishops’ conference, and every continental Church body. It will unleash the biggest popular consultation in history. It will require, as never before, the assembly of the People of God, in mass meetings at parishes and across dioceses around the world, who are being given “the ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received,” in the words of the Preparatory Document released last week.”
By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal — Read more …
Click here to read the Vatican news release announcing the 2023 Synod and to see list of links to Vatican and Voice of the Faithful resources to help understand the Synod.
“We’re looking at the needs of the church today,” said (Casey) Stanton (Discerning Deacons co-founder), who lives in Durham, North Carolina. “Might including women in this order help further the church’s mission in the world?”Religion News Service
“Casey Stanton wanted to offer encouragement, love and healing to the inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, where she served as a chaplain intern a few years ago.
“But as a Catholic woman she could not represent her church there in any official capacity.
“The state of North Carolina requires chaplains in its state prison system to be ordained. And the Catholic Church does not ordain women — neither as priests, nor as deacons.
“Stanton, who is 35 and holds a master of divinity from Duke Divinity School, is not seeking to become a priest, which canon law forbids. She would, however, jump at the chance to be ordained a deacon — a position that would allow her and other women to serve as Catholic chaplains in prisons, hospitals and other settings.”
By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service — Read more …
Headlines declaim Latin Masses, Communion wars and Vatican II attacks. Amid this divisiveness, the international group of reform-minded Catholics called Voice of the Faithful wants to Re—Member the Church, which will be discussed during its upcoming 2021 conference.
Featured speakers and attendees will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world. As declared at a previous VOTF conference, “There is no body without its members. There are no members without participation. There is no participation without mutual recognition and accountability. Structural change is possible. Accountability is necessary. Re—Membering the church is essential.”
Re–Membering the Church: Moving Forward takes place Oct. 22-23, 2021, via Zoom. At 7 p.m., Oct. 22, conference registrants will meet in free Zoom listening sessions to talk about issues affecting the Church. At 8:30 a.m., Oct. 23, registrants will gather in a Zoom waiting room for the 9 a.m. start of the all-day conference. Registration is $50, either online or by mail. College undergraduates register for free.
VOTF has long envisioned a Church of openness and respect between hierarchy and the laity, with more inclusivity, and with collaborations leading to activities and initiatives that reflect lay voices in the Church. To help present these ideas at the conference will be featured speakers Prof. Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, and Sister Carol Zinn, S.S.J., Ph.D., Leadership Conference of Women Religious executive director. Prof. Faggioli spoke at VOTF’s 2018 Conference, and the return of this internationally acclaimed theologian is highly anticipated. He is a prolific author and a leading worldwide authority on Catholic Church history and ecclesiology, that is, the inner workings of the Church. Sister Carol has served as consultant to the United Nations Economic and Social Council and is Saint John Vianney Center consultant for women religious community health and transition.
In addition, VOTF’s 2021 Conference will present a panel comprising women liturgy leaders from the Paulist Center Boston faith community, who will discuss lay-led liturgies, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. VOTF leaders also will offer presentations on VOTF projects in diocesan financial transparency; Church governance by and through lay involvement in Diocesan Financial Councils; adherence to protection of children guidelines in parishes and dioceses; and women’s emerging voices in the Catholic Church.
Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.