In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests / National Catholic Reporter

“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.

“According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.

“The book is co-written with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office. It is to be released in France Jan. 15 and carries the title Des profondeurs de nos cœurs (‘From the Depths of Our Hearts’).

“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.

“One noted theologian reached shortly after the release of the excerpts called Benedict’s decision to write on the issue a ‘serious breach.'”

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

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Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting / Associated Press

“Lawyers for the parents and survivors said the order issued late Tuesday (Jan. 7) is the first time private citizens have been allowed to challenge the church to prove it is complying with a reporting law.” (Associated Press)

 Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers.

“The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations. Lawyers for the parents and survivors said the order issued late Tuesday is the first time private citizens have been allowed to challenge the church to prove it is complying with a reporting law.

“The order, issued by Allegheny County Judge Christine A. Ward, also sustained the objections from the state’s other seven dioceses to being parties in the lawsuit because there were no specific allegations against them. Ward gave the attorneys for the parents and survivors 30 days to amend the lawsuit before she will consider whether to dismiss the other dioceses as defendants.”

By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press — Read more …

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Hundreds of abused clergy left off church’s sex abuse lists / Associated Press

An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served. (Associated Press)

Richard J. Poster served time for possessing child pornography, violated his probation by having contact with children, admitted masturbating in the bushes near a church school and in 2005 was put on a sex offender registry. And yet the former Catholic priest was only just this month added to a list of clergy members credibly accused of child sexual abuse — after The Associated Press asked why he was not included.

“Victims advocates had long criticized the Roman Catholic Church for not making public the names of credibly accused priests. Now, despite the dioceses’ release of nearly 5,300 names, most in the last two years, critics say the lists are far from complete.

“An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from lists released by the dioceses and religious orders where they served.

“The AP reached that number by matching those public diocesan lists against a database of accused priests tracked by the group BishopAccountability.org and then scouring bankruptcy documents, lawsuits, settlement information, grand jury reports and media accounts.

“More than a hundred of the former clergy members not listed by dioceses or religious orders had been charged with sexual crimes, including rape, solicitation and receiving or viewing child pornography.”

By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press — Read more …

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Christmas 2019

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Pope jettisons pontifical secret; Voice of the Faithful applauds

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Dan Mangan, CNBC — Read more …

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

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