Posts Tagged Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
December 7, 2020
Vatican sued over alleged sex abuse in wake of its report on disgraced ex-cardinal McCarrick
“A week after an explosive report by the Vatican detailing decades-long allegations against former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick involving the sexual abuse of young boys, seminarians and fellow priests, the first federal lawsuit stemming from that report has been filed against the Roman Catholic Church(link is external). A stunning 85-page complaint filed in New Jersey on behalf of four unidentified men against the highest echelons of the church charges the Vatican knew McCarrick ‘was a suspected abuser and child molester’ and a danger to its members, but did nothing to stop him.” By Ted Sherman, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
McCarrick report is one small step to dismantling clerical culture
“The steps not yet taken involve much deeper, interior work on the part of those still greatly invested in and rewarded by the culture than they’ve yet been willing or able to face. They must be willing to ask themselves fundamental questions about the meaning of ordination, the role of the ordained in the larger community, the consequences of prohibiting women from the realm of the ordained, the role of privilege and secrecy in church governance. They have to decide whether the model for bishops is prince or servant, and what that decision portends for their credibility and leadership in the future(link is external).” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
- Setting the record straight on NCR and McCarrick coverage(link is external), By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
This archbishop has become the first African American cardinal in Catholic history
“For the past week, Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Washington, DC, was holed up in a Vatican guesthouse, receiving meals at his door. On Saturday (Nov. 28), Gregory stepped out of his quarters and into history, becoming the Catholic Church’s first African American cardinal(link is external) during an installation ceremony in Rome. Gregory was one of 13 men — and the only American — elevated to the College of Cardinals during Saturday’s ceremony … Gregory, 72, already the highest-ranking African-American Catholic in US history, told CNN this week that he has been praying, writing homilies and letters to well-wishers, and reflecting on his new role.” By Delia Gallagher, CNN, on WKTV-TV2 News
- With ceremony at the Vatican, Wilton Gregory becomes 1st black American cardinal(link is external), By Matthew S. Schwartz, National Public Radio
Pope named as defendant in Australian legal claim
“Pope Francis has been named as a defendant in a Victorian Supreme Court damages claim by three Aboriginal men who say they were sexually assaulted as young boys by pedophile priest(link is external) Michael Glennon, according to The Age. It is the first known case in Australia in which survivors of clerical sexual abuse have sought to hold the Pope personally responsible for the Church’s failure to take decisive action against predators in its ranks. The three plaintiffs, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, all claim to have experienced significant, ongoing impacts from their childhood abuse, including drug addiction, homelessness and unemployment.” By CathNews.com
Lawsuit says Buffalo Diocese, bishops covered up failures on abuse
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit Nov. 23 against the Diocese of Buffalo and Bishop Richard J. Malone, who headed the diocese from 2012 to 2019, and newly retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz. The suit alleges a two-decades-long cover-up of how the diocese failed to deal with numerous priests accused of alleged sexual abuse(link is external).” By Mike Matvey, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com
The modern vision of Pope Francis in a medieval church
“Pope Francis issued his third encyclical, Fratelli Tutti, on the feast of St. Francis of Assisi, indicating his deep spiritual affinity with the founder of the Franciscan movement. The encyclical deepens the pope’s vision of integral ecology laid out in his 2015 work, ‘Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home’ now extended to the social order on the level of fraternity and social friendship. The pope’s writings are comprehensive in his depth of analysis of ecological, social and technocratic structures that have created systems of separation, manipulation and disregard for the poor(link is external). He begins Fratelli Tutti by taking his cue from the ‘Admonitions’ of Francis of Assisi, who writes in his 25th admonition: ‘Blessed is the servant who would love and respect his brother as much when he is far from him as he would when he is with him; and who would not say anything behind his back which in charity he could not say to his face.’’’ By Ilia Delio, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis challenges the Catholic left
“It is one of the saddest facts about a certain kind of liberal Catholic that, as the pope said, with nothing but goodwill, they take a wrong path with an agenda that may be defensible or even laudable on other grounds, but is no longer a Catholic path(link is external). They consider the doctrines that have defined our church for centuries as so much silly putty in their hands, to be stretched any which way to achieve an objective that may not be reconcilable with the Catholic faith. I have said it before and will say it again: Just because a Catholic has a thought does not mean it is a Catholic thought that has been had.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Pope creates 13 new cardinals, including Washington archbishop
“One by one 11 senior churchmen, including two U.S. citizens — Cardinals Wilton D. Gregory of Washington and Silvano M. Tomasi, a former Vatican diplomat — knelt before Pope Francis to receive their red hats, a cardinal’s ring and a scroll formally declaring their new status and assigning them a ‘titular’ church in Rome. But with the consistory Nov. 28 occurring during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pope Francis actually created 13 new cardinals(link is external).” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot
Cardinal Pell says he feels ‘vindicated’ by Vatican finance corruption being investigated
“The pope’s former treasurer, Cardinal George Pell, said Monday (Nov. 30) he feels a dismayed sense of vindication as the financial mismanagement he tried to uncover in the Holy See is now being exposed in a spiraling Vatican corruption investigation(link is external). Pell made the comments to The Associated Press in his first interview since returning to Rome after his conviction-turned-acquittal on sexual abuse charges. Pell told the AP that he knew in 2014 when he took the treasury job that the Holy See’s finances were ‘a bit of a mess.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review
What the McCarrick report means for the church
“The report is unprecedented, reading like no other Vatican document I can recall. It is not clothed in dense church-speak or vague references to misdeeds. It is at times graphic and always revealing. As a whole, it is a devastating portrait of personal deception and institutional blindness, of opportunities missed and faith shattered(link is external). For those of us who have experience with Vatican documents and Vatican investigations, the report is amazing in its efforts to be transparent. At 449 pages, the report is exhaustive and at times exhausting. Not only were over 90 interviews conducted, but extensive quotations from relevant Vatican correspondence and documents reveal the internal back and forth between individuals and offices.” By Catholic News Service
- Vatican’s McCarrick report casts a dark cloud over Pope John Paul II’s legacy(link is external), By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio
Blame to share
“In the weeks since the Vatican released its report regarding disgraced former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the blame game has been in full swing. How is it possible, both critics and friends ask, that such a man as McCarrick could ever rise to the highest levels of the Church?(link is external) It’s a good question, with not a lot of good answers. The 460-page report does not lay blame on any one person or group. Instead, it has carefully followed the trail of facts and communiques inside and outside the Vatican regarding who knew what and when and how about the allegations of sexual misconduct against McCarrick. The issue of guilt isn’t addressed in the report; that had been decided by an investigation two years ago that found ‘credible’ evidence against him. He was subsequently removed from the priesthood.” By The Catholic Register Editorial Board
U.S. Catholic bishops’ response to McCarrick report is sad but predictable
“The discussion of the Vatican report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick by the U.S. bishops at their annual fall meeting was sad but predictable(link is external) — sad because the bishops failed to communicate that they understood the report’s implications; predictable in that some bishops defended John Paul II against the report’s finding that the pontiff shared culpability in the McCarrick case. The report, released Nov. 10, acknowledged that despite it being known that McCarrick was sleeping with seminarians, he was promoted to the Archdiocese of Washington and made a cardinal by Pope John Paul II.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis names new bishop of scandal-ridden Buffalo diocese
“Pope Francis Tuesday (Dec. 1) appointed Bishop Michael Fisher, an auxiliary of Washington, to be the next bishop of the scandal-ridden Diocese of Buffalo, New York(link is external). Fisher, 62, will take over leadership of Buffalo as the diocese faces a new lawsuit from the State of New York for failing to protect children from clergy sex abuse. The diocese also filed for bankruptcy in February of this year, after it was named in hundreds of clerical abuse lawsuits filed in New York courts. Fisher will be the 15th bishop of the western New York diocese, following Bishop Richard Malone, who resigned amid controversy in December 2019.” By Catholic News Agency
Canadian Catholic bishop resigns at age of 64 ‘for the good of the Church’
“Pope Francis accepted Sunday (Nov. 29) the resignation of a Canadian Catholic bishop at the age of 64. The Holy See press office said that the pope accepted the resignation of Bishop Robert Bourgon of Hearst-Moosonee on Nov. 29 … Radio-Canada reported Nov. 29 that Bourgon faced criticism following the dismissal of two priests facing charges of fraud. It added that following protests by parishioners, who believed the priests to be innocent of wrongdoing, Pope Francis mandated a visitation by Bishop Serge Poitras of Timmins, Ontario.” By Catholic News Agency
Seminaries need clear sexual harassment guidelines to prevent clerical abuse
“When the former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was bishop of the diocese of Metuchen, N.J., he routinely asked seminarians to join him at his vacation home, visits that regularly included the bishop sharing a bed with young men. Any reasonable standards would characterize those episodes, in which a powerful authority figure even suggested sharing a bed with students, as instances of sexual harassment(link is external). Stories like these led to Mr. McCarrick’s downfall, as was laid out in a recent Vatican investigation into allegations of harassment and abuse.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review
LAITY & THE CHURCH
The complicated legacy of Bishop John England
“Amid all the heart-searching that the Catholic Church is doing in response to the ongoing scandal of sexual abuse and episcopal malfeasance, the realization that laypeople need to be engaged in structural reform is central(link is external). No group should ever police itself, and that includes the bishops. The 1983 revision of the Code of Canon Law made some progress in recognizing the rights and responsibilities of the laity, but it never got beyond allowing them a consultative role in the decision-making process. That this could change is clear, because the heartening truth about canon law is that it is subordinate to the Gospel; it must reflect and support Gospel priorities.” By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal
Vatican launches website dedicated to ‘Fratelli Tutti’ encyclical
“Beginning Tuesday (Dec.1), Pope Francis’ recent Encyclical Fratelli tutti, on Fraternity and Social Friendship, will be more readily accessible by the faithful(link is external). The Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development announces a special website dedicated to the Encyclical which can be accessed either from the homepage of the Dicastery www.humandevelopment.va(link is external) or directly from the URL www.fratellitutti.va(link is external).” By Vatican News
South Dakota Catholic priest steals nearly $260,000 from three churches, jailed for three years; also faces sex charges
“Most people are familiar with the phrase ‘caught with your hand in the cookie jar.’ However, a Catholic priest from Rapid City, South Dakota, earned himself a sentence in federal prison for being caught with his hand ‘in the offertory bag(link is external).’ Marcin Stanislaw Garbacz, 42, was sent to prison for 7 years and 9 months on Monday (Nov. 30) for stealing nearly $260,000 from three parishes in Rapid City.” By Jeevan Biswas International Business Times
Swiss court orders full access to records for Vatican financial investigation
“Vatican investigators have been granted full access to Swiss banking documentation related to long-time Vatican investment manager Enrico Crasso. The newly announced decision by a Swiss federal court is the latest development in the ongoing financial scandal(link is external) surrounding the purchase of a London building by the Secretariat of State in 2018. According to Huffington Post, the decision was issued on Oct. 13 but only published this week. The documents to be turned over to the Vatican include financial records of the company to Az Swiss & Partners. Az Swiss owns Sogenel Capital Holding, the company Crasso founded after leaving Credit Suisse in 2014.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency
The implosion of clericalism dramatized in Leonard Berstein’s ‘Mass’
“I find myself again lamenting the abysmal sinfulness of the Catholic clerical system(link is external). The long-anticipated release of the McCarrick report sheds harsh light on the failure of complicit bishops and Pope John Paul II to believe then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s victims even after New York Cardinal John O’Connor warned the pope not to make him Cardinal Archbishop of Washington. The painful mendacity of the clerical system was also on depressing display at FutureChurch’s 30th anniversary celebration, where theologian Doris Wagner Reisinger received the organization’s Young Catholic Leaders Award. Reisinger spoke about her abuse as a young nun and her efforts to bring a prominent Vatican priest to justice. In her experience, Catholic sisters have too often been entrapped in a conspiracy of silence that protects abusing priests.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
Switzerland’s Catholic bishops lament record exodus from Church in 2019
“Bishops in Switzerland lamented Wednesday (Dec. 2) a record exodus of Catholics from the Church in 2019(link is external). In a statement after their virtual plenary assembly Dec. 2, the bishops acknowledged new figures showing that last year saw the highest annual number of ‘church exits’ on record.” By Catholic News Service
Dozens of Catholic churches merging to create 14 new ones in the Diocese of Pittsburgh
“Fourteen new merged parishes will be created in the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh on Jan. 4, the diocese announced Saturday (Nov. 28). Forty parishes will be part of the mergers and will bring the number of parishes in the diocese from 107 to 81(link is external), the release states. ‘For two years, you have journeyed together on a road that is intended to unite you on the mission to bring the Good News of Jesus to your neighbors and to strengthen all of you in faith,’ Bishop David Zubik said.” By WPXI-TV11 News
The media is not the church’s enemy
“Yes, media outlets need to tell the whole truth, the good news as well as the bad. But as professional journalists, we also have to respect news values in our coverage, and often that involves some sort of conflict(link is external) … In his comments calling for transparency, Bishop Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City, Missouri, may have inadvertently promoted the work of journalists. “We as a church need to use all the resources that are available to us, and in many instances that will be found in lay people, who are skilled and qualified in investigating these kinds of accusations and helping us evaluate the facts,” he said. Exactly. The media are not the enemy. We are professionals, trying to do our jobs, in the service of the truth.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
Confessions of a Vatican source: Jason Barry on the McCarrick report
“When Pope John Paul II made Theodore McCarrick a cardinal in 2001, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., was a silk-between-the-fingers fundraiser(link is external). A year later, when the pope summoned the U.S. cardinals to Rome to confront the abuse crisis, McCarrick took the lead at press conferences — a bold move, given his revelation to The Washington Post and CNN that accusations against him had been investigated and found false. In the ensuing years, McCarrick traveled the globe as an unofficial church diplomat, and rumors spread that he had slept with seminarians while a bishop in Metuchen and Newark, New Jersey, using a beach house on the Jersey Shore. Rumors no journalist could pin down.” By Jason Berry, National Catholic Reporter
Who’s at fault? New reports on clergy sex abuse offer different views
“On the same day last week (Nov. 10), two reports on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church made headlines. The first report, released by the Vatican, is the so-called ‘McCarrick report’ … The second report was released by an independent commission in the U.K … What the reports have in common is long lists of sexual abuse victims and their broken families(link is external). The testimonies of survivors are instructive for the quality of their demand for justice and yet, to paraphrase Tolstoy, each unhappy survivor story ‘is unhappy in its own way.’ Each story is unbearable in its details of the physical and psycho-spiritual torture and the chronic wounds that remain.” By Rose Marie Berger, Sojourners on Sojo.net
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Prominent priest, EWTN contributor accused of sexual assault
“A floor mosaic inscribed with the words ‘The Truth Above All Things’ welcomes visitors to the Church of St. Michael in midtown Manhattan where popular priest Fr. George Rutler has served as pastor since 2013. Yet Rutler now stands accused of sexually assaulting a female security guard after she allegedly filmed him watching gay pornography(link is external) last month. Those allegations have shocked parishioners and associates of Rutler, as they seek to reconcile the accusations with their own experience of the politically and theologically conservative priest known for his regular appearances on EWTN and prolific writings where he derided ‘abortionists and the sodomites,’ advocated for traditional liturgical practices and regularly criticized Pope Francis.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
Priests’ defamation suits are the latest wrinkle in sex-abuse fallout
“As U.S. dioceses continue to pay out big settlements for lawsuits, the church is facing another nettlesome problem stemming from the abuse scandal: Priests who say they were falsely accused are suing for defamation(link is external). In August 2018, shortly after a Pennsylvania grand jury report listed more than 300 priests in six dioceses in the state who had been credibly accused of abusing more than 1,000 minors since 1947, Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson asked the three dioceses in his state to turn over files on church personnel credibly accused of sexual abuse since 1978.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter
Further investigation into Colorado Catholic Church IDs 46 more victims, nine more abusive priests—including Denver’s Father Woody
“Father James Moreno sexually assaulted a teenage boy dozens of times over two years after they met at a Denver Catholic school(link is external) — including in the rectory of the city’s most prominent church. Moreno assaulted the boy more than 60 times between 1978 and 1980. He groomed him, gave him alcohol and marijuana, and raped him, according to a report released Tuesday Dec. 1) by the Colorado Attorney General’s Office. The abuse happened all over Denver: in the rooms of St. Andrew’s Preparatory Seminary High School, in Moreno’s car, in the boy’s home, in the rectory of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in the heart of Denver, one block from the state Capitol.” By Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post
- Catholic Church pays $7 million to victims in Colorado of sexual abuse by priests(link is external), By Keith Coffman, Reuters
- Roman Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse of Children in Colorado from 1950 to 2020(link is external), Special Master’s Supplement on bishop-accountability.org
What can Florida do about 51 Catholic priests who abused kids? Nothing
“The state attorney general’s office has concluded a two-year investigation into alleged sexual abuse by Catholic priests. Investigators believe the systemic abuse has been largely weeded out. That’s the good news. The bad news is investigators say they have enough evidence to prosecute dozens of priests, and here’s what they plan to do about it: Nothing(link is external). They can’t. Statute-of-limitations laws make the alleged criminal untouchable.” By Orlando Sentinel Editorial Board
Suburban Lake County priest investigated for past child sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is investigating allegations that a suburban priest sexually abused children(link is external) 25 years ago. Cardinal Blase Cupich wrote a letter to parishioners on Saturday (Nov. 28) saying he asked the Rev. David Ryan to ‘step aside from ministry’ after the archdiocese received the allegations. Ryan, pastor at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Parish in Lake Zurich, has been ‘directed to live away from the parish’ during the investigation and ‘is fully cooperating with this direction,’ Cupich said in the letter.” By NBC-TV5 News
Abuse trial delayed for ex-Catholic Church friar
“The trial for a former Catholic Church friar accused of sex abuse at a Mississippi school has been postponed(link is external). Paul West, a former member of the Franciscan religious order, was supposed to face trial on Tuesday for allegations that he sexually molested students in the 1990s at Greenwood’s St. Francis of Assisi School. No new trial date was immediately set, Kelly Roberts, senior deputy clerk of the Leflore County Circuit Court, told The Greenwood Commonwealth.” By Associated Press on WJTV-TV12 News
Over a year, more than 230 sex abuse suits have been filed in NJ against the Catholic Church
“The lawsuits filed over the past 12 months in New Jersey alleging sex abuse by Catholic priests have been numerous — there are more than 230 of them — and varied(link is external). One man said that when he was a student at St. Joseph Regional High School in Montvale and told a vice principal that he’d been abused by a religious brother, the administrator struck the student over the head with a 500-page book, warned him never to speak of it again and imposed a five-day suspension.” By Abbott Koloff and Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com
New York attorney general sues bishops Malone, Grosz and Buffalo Diocese for failing to protect children
“New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Monday (Nov. 23) sued the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and former bishops Richard J. Malone and Edward M. Grosz for failing to protect children and for engaging in a decades-long cover-up of sexual abuse by diocesan priests. New York’s top prosecutor also filed a motion that seeks to force a full public disclosure of predatory priests and their actions against those whom they were entrusted with spiritual care, and is seeking a court-appointed monitor that would ensure that interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger complies with sexual abuse policies and procedures.” By Charlie Spect, WKBW-TV7 News
- Attorney general shows complicity by Malone in shielding accused priests,(link is external) By The Buffalo News Editorial Board
Allentown Diocese has paid $16 million to abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has paid nearly $16 million to victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external), it reported Tuesday (Nov. 24), as the program to compensate victims draws to a close. The payments, totaling $15.85 million, were made to 96 abuse victims through the diocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, according to a final report by an independent committee appointed to oversee the program.” By Peter Hall, The Morning Call
Utah priest abuse lawsuit poses new challenge to time limits on old cases
“What began as a routine visit to the deli aisle last year ended in a revelation for Guy Platt. Platt spotted the Colosimo name on a pork sausage label and wondered if it belonged to a member of the family he recalled from childhood. But an online search turned up a series of mugshots and a more profound connection. The man he said he remembers sexually abusing and threatening him(link is external) five decades earlier hadn’t been a schoolmate’s father like he’d thought.” By Annie Knox, Deseret News
Catholics angered, saddened by Montreal church’s mishandling of abusive priest
“People who tried to warn Montreal’s Catholic Archdiocese about a pedophile priest say they’re sad, angry and overwhelmed by an explosive report outlining the church’s repeated failures to heed their warnings(link is external). The Montreal archdiocese asked retired Quebec Superior Court justice Pepita Capriolo to investigate the church’s handling of allegations against former priest Brian Boucher, who was convicted in January 2019 of sexually abusing two young boys.” By Leah Hendry and Steve Rukavina, CBC News
- Report says Montreal Archdiocese covered for abusive priest for decades, By Francois Gloutnay(link is external), Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com
‘My world was the Church,’ abuse survivor Andrew Madden on his journey to recovery
“Andrew Madden was an altar boy. He had always enjoyed going to the Church and wanted to become a priest. But aged 12, he was abused by Father Ivan Payne. That abuse lasted for several years(link is external).In Ireland, he was the first victim of clerical child sex abuse to go public with his story in 1995. As part of an Unreported Europe episode focusing on the survivors of Ireland’s child sex abuse scandal at the hands of Catholic priests, Euronews spoke to Madden his personal healing journey.” By Euronews
Child abuse in the Catholic Church—a scandalous approach to scandal
“Standing on the banks of the Rhine river, practically in the shadows of Cologne’s cathedral, Karl Haucke says he has lost faith in the Catholic Church. His story begins in the early 1960s, when he was sent to boarding school in the West German capital at the time, Bonn. From the age of eleven, he was regularly abused by a priest for four years—at least once a week(link is external). But the abuse was not just of a physical, sexual nature. The priest made him relate the stories during the weekly confession.” By Deutche Welle
German survivors accuse Cardinal Woelki of ‘abuse of abuse victims’
“The two abuse survivors who resigned as spokesmen of the victims’ advisory board in the Cologne Archdiocese have accused Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of a ‘renewed abuse of abuse victims(link is external).’ The board had been ‘completely overrun’ by Cardinal Woelki’s treatment of the Cologne abuse studies, Patrick Bauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung newspaper in comments published Nov. 19. ‘We were meant to deliver the certificate: approved by the advisory board,’ said Karl Haucke.” By Catholic News Service
GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES
New pupils barred from top UK Catholic school after abuse scandal
“The government has ordered one of England’s most prestigious Catholic boarding schools, Ampleforth college, to stop admitting new pupils as a result of ‘very serious’ failings. Scandal has surrounded the private school in recent years and an independent inquiry into child sexual abuse published a highly critical report in August 2018 that said ‘appalling sexual abuse [was] inflicted over decades on children as young as seven(link is external).’” By Mattha Busby, The Guardian
IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND
Sins of the fathers: Ireland’s sex abuse survivors
“Ireland has one of the largest Catholic communities in Europe. The Church is rooted into the culture of the country, but when Pope Francis visited Dublin in 2018 his words divided the nation. Since 2002, multiple reports and investigations have shed light on nearly 15,000 cases of sexual abuse committed in Ireland between 1970 and 1990(link is external). The pontiff had come to apologise for those crimes carried out by members of the Church’s clergy. For many survivors, the visit and remorse that came with it was far too late.” By Euronews
Stop blaming children for the behavior of sexual predators
“Two headlines this week have perturbed me considerably, not only because of the stories they refer to, but because it points to an alarming inability by some fellow members of the press to comprehend how important it is to report sex abuse stories using the right terminology(link is external). This is not about being ‘politically correct’, which has become a hackneyed phrase, and is often being used with negative connotations, much in the same way we sneer at people for being ‘snowflakes’, i.e., overly sensitive and easily offended.” By Josanne Cessar, Malta Today
Catholic Church abuse: Victim says church refused to strip honors from abuser
“A woman who was sexually abused at a Catholic school(link is external) says the church refused to strip her abuser of any honors or remove his name from a school classroom despite evidence he had abused multiple people. It also never told her to go to police and instead offered her $6000 in compensation – which she rejected. Frances Tagaloa, 52, gave her evidence before the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in State Care this morning (Nov. 29), as hearings began on abuse in faith-based institutions.” By Isaac Davison, New Zealand Herald
I have been thinking about the white paper (Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism)*. I really like the format which alternates interviews with commentary, and I found the reflective pieces very effective!
Some further thoughts: Prior to the second Vatican Council the role of the laity (lay apostolate) officially was “to be helpers of the clergy in the mission of the church.” Laity saw what they did in the church as “volunteers,” assisting the pastor with his work.
Vatican II radically changed that identity. Article #33 of The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church says the laity, through their membership in the Christian community, participate directly in the mission of Jesus Christ.
“Through Baptism and Confirmation all are appointed to this apostolate (mission of the Church) by the Lord Himself … Every lay person, through those gifts given to him (sic) is at once the witness and the living instrument of the Church itself.”**
That radically new identity is carried through in other documents. Said various ways, the “proper role” of the laity is advancing the reign of God in the secular sphere. In other words, they are the “first-line” ministers of the Gospel in the world, which, according to Matthew 25 & 28, is the commission of Christ to His church.
The most pernicious effect of clericalism, in my mind, is that it subsumes all roles in the church, making them subordinate to, and derivative of, the priest’s (Laity are “helpers of the clergy in their mission.”). That “second-class” status works against true identity of the baptized as “disciples of Jesus Christ.” A derivative or second-class identity is not compelling. The idea that Christ may be “calling me” then, is hard to perceive. I still hear laity today talking about “volunteering” or “helping-out” in the church.
The hierarchy have an essential role as leaders/servants of the mission. Clergy and lay ecclesial ministers are the “equipping” ministers who prepare and lead the People of God in Christ’s mission. But, as the Church in the Modern World says, it is the laity who are in the world and have the appropriate gifts to transform the secular sphere; they are “apostles,” if you will, to the world.
Is it any wonder that the Church seems to have so little impact on the world? How many full-time “ministers” does the local parish have? One―the pastor? A few―the staff? Or several hundred/thousand―the whole community/People of God? These are two radically different concepts of church.
This question of “identity,” self-perception, controls the behavior of all the baptized, clergy and lay. How can the church expect to have an impact on the world if the mission is left solely to the clergy?
There are lots of evils that flow from a monarchical clericalism; the most serious of these is that it eviscerates the mission of the church.
As I read the paper, this is what came to mind. (I know it is not new to you!)
Blessings on great work!
By Gene Scapanski, S.T.D. Vice President and Professor (retired), University of St. Thomas, St. Paul, Minnesota
**Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism is a joint white paper promulgated by Voice of the Faithful and the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
**Documents of Vatican II, Austin P. Flannery, Ed.
Clergy & laypeople collaborate to confront clericalism / Association of U.S. Catholic Priests & Voice of the Faithful
Joint News Release from Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful
For Immediate Release, Aug. 15, 2019
Pope Francis condemns clericalism, repeatedly. Catholic commentators decry it. Theologians and church historians examine its roots. Now, in a significant collaboration, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful have examined the ways clericalism emerges from the clerical culture, generating complex problems facing the Roman Catholic Church today, and they suggest ways to combat it.
Their document, “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism,” was approved at the AUSCP June 2019 Assembly, where guest speaker Dr. Richard Gaillardetz called it “very informative, even visionary.” Keynote speaker Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, noting the real-life examples reported, said it was “nothing less than a catalogue of horrors chronicling imperial pronouncements, put-downs, claims of privileges, entitlements and exemptions from accountability, but also a culture so pervasive that, sadly, many of the laity have come to accept it as normal and yes, even have cooperated in maintaining it.”
Real-life examples are central to the report and a significant contribution to the study of clericalism today. As the writers note, “We typically encounter clericalism as an experience. Using only scholarly definitions and explanations when discussing clericalism cannot communicate this lived experience of clericalism in the Church. To fully understand clericalism, we also must hear the voices of those who experience abuse of power.”
One experience describes a confrontation between a laywoman and a visiting priest in Boston during a 2003 meeting. “We must fix this [sex abuse] because we are the Church,” the laywoman said. The visiting priest replied, “YOU are not the Church,” and pointing to his Roman collar, declared, “WE are the Church.”
In another example, a new pastor announced that he would personally choose pastoral council members and no one would be allowed to disagree with him. In yet another, a seminarian criticized the pastor for his monthly blessing service because it differed from what the seminary practiced.
If these examples seem to focus blame on the clergy or an insulated hierarchy or any group or faction within the universal church, the document will not allow such a conclusion. Clericalism is not simply a problem of clerics, and the authors cite experiences where lay people enable such behavior.
Clericalism is toxic to all the baptized, they note. When lay people encounter clericalism: “They find another parish; they leave the Church; they never speak up again in meetings with priests; they abdicate all decision-making to the priest; they become audiences rather that participants in the parish’s life and sideline observers within the Church. Or all of the above. They abdicate their baptismal responsibilities.”
Priests may suffer, too, from unrealistic expectations stifling their human development. It is manifested in “overwork, isolation, loneliness, unrelieved stress, the expectation that he and he alone will handle all the parish business and be responsible for all the parish problems.”
The document delves into the culture of the diocesan priesthood and characteristics that help incubate clericalism: the hierarchical and patriarchal structure of the church, its requirements for celibacy, an ordination that is said to confer an ontological change, an education separated from the daily lives of laypeople, distinctive clothing and liturgical dress. Clerics also receive privileges of lifestyle and compensation not available to the people to whom they minister. The final section of the paper describes options for confronting clericalism.
“Our aim,” the AUSCP and VOTF writers say, “has been to raise the consciousness
of readers to the expressions of clericalism and its problems. Clericalism betrays the teachings of the scriptures and ignores the best practices of the first three centuries of Christian faith and life. Both clerics and lay persons can be afflicted with the disease. Both are often unaware that their mode and manner, their self-understanding, and their sense of ministry have wandered far from the example of Jesus … [We]” hope that our words help us all rise to the challenge of today in confronting and ultimately removing as many vestiges as possible of the clericalism that harms us all.”
Cardinal Cupich emphasized a similar conclusion: “Clericalism can only be confronted by reclaiming the authenticity of the conversion we are called to in Baptism.”
The team preparing the report worked with input from clergy and laypeople across the United States, modeling the synodality Pope Francis urges as one way to address clericalism’s damage. Following its completion, the white paper also was endorsed by FutureChurch, another organization that includes both priests and lay people.
Lead writers for “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” were Rev. Kevin Clinton, AUSCP Past Chair of the Leadership Team, retired pastor, Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis; and Ms. Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, member of Paulist Center Community, Archdiocese of Boston.
Contributors on the Working Group under the auspices of AUSCP were Rev. Gerry Bechard, AUSCP, pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, Archdiocese of Detroit; Ms. Alvera Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Mr. David Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Rev. Bernard R. Bonnot, AUSCP Executive Director, retired pastor in the Diocese of Youngstown; and Rev. Tom Ogg, AUSCP, retired pastor, Diocese of Cheyenne, Worldwide Marriage Encounter―U.S. Ecclesial Priest.
N.B. “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” can be read and downloaded at http://www.votf.org/AUSCP-Projects/Systemic%20Dysfunction%20Clericalism.pdf. Strategies for addressing clericalism in local faith communities can be found in “The BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy Reimaging the Church” at http://www.votf.org/content/priest-and-lay-reform-organizations-take-clerical-culture, which is a collaborative effort of AUSCP, FutureChurch and VOTF.
Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, email@example.com
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 reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’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. More information is at votf.org.
Association of U.S. Catholic Priests: AUSCP serves the People of God in parishes and other ministries. We seek to add a priest’s voice to the public conversation within our pilgrim church, among bishops and lay persons, vowed religious, ordained deacons and others. Our concerns are your concerns: good liturgy, social justice, the role of women in our church, immigration policies that reflect Gospel values, the dignity of all human lives, and a Church that welcomes all the People of God. Our mission is to be an association of U.S. Catholic priests offering mutual support and a collegial voice through dialogue, contemplation and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society. Our vision is to be a Priest’s Voice of Hope and Joy within our Pilgrim Church. More information is at uscatholicpriests.org.
Pope Francis has repeatedly called out the clerical culture’s danger to the Catholic Church and its faithful, for example, calling clericalism “our ugliest perversion.” Now a nationwide Catholic priests’ organization and two international lay reform groups have developed the BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy re-Imagining Church Together to show Catholics what they can do to recognize and prevent this perversion which blocks the laity from achieving their full potential in the Church.
Clericalism has been defined in various ways. In a 2011 report criticizing the Church’s “Study of the Causes and Context of the Sexual Abuse Crisis,” VOTF defined clericalism as “an overriding set of beliefs and behaviors in which the clergy view themselves as different, separate, and exempt from the norms, rules and consequences that apply to everyone else in society.” As the Pope has said, “Clerics feel they are superior, they are far from the people,” and clericalism “can be fostered by priests or by lay people” where the laity show clergy excessive deference because they assume the clergy are morally superior.
- prompts for opening up discussions addressing clericalism, including topics such as the subtle ways that language and pastoral relationships can feed clericalism;
- examples of how you experience clericalism barriers and what you can do about them;
- tips for how you can guard against clericalism in your own behaviors, while removing the barriers others may use to hold you on “your side” of the lay/clergy divide.
The BridgeDialogues’ many resources are available online at bridgedialogues.org.
Deborah Rose-Milavec, FutureChurch executive director, said, “Although some form of clerical culture will always be with us as long as we make distinctions between priests and laity, we can all work together to reduce its deleterious effects. The BridgeDialogues provides the resources to begin a dialogue in your parish or community to look at the subtle ways that language and pastoral relationships can feed clericalism and how all Catholics experience those barriers.”
Donna B. Doucette, VOTF executive director, added, “We must make ourselves, priests and laity, aware of a clerical culture that has so many damaging consequences. Many Catholics are unaware of how embedded those effects are. Priests typically live aside and apart from the people they should serve—they are culturally and often physically far removed from the realities of the communities that surround them. Yet instead of trying to bridge the separation, too often lay people contribute to it. And some priests, of course, often don’t realize it should be bridged.”
Said AUSCP member Louis Arceneaux, a priest of the Congregation of the Mission living in New Orleans, “For our wounded Church to grow, we need organizations of women and men, of laity and clergy, to minister together. As an AUSCP member, I am delighted to be working with FutureChurch and Voice of the Faithful in promoting the BridgeDialogues, which affords me personally and our association a wonderful opportunity to be part of an important priests/laity collaboration.”
Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
(Contact: Louis Arceneaux, firstname.lastname@example.org)
AUSCP serves the People of God in parishes and other ministries. We seek to add a priest’s voice to the public conversation within our pilgrim church, among bishops and lay persons, vowed religious, ordained deacons and others. Our concerns are your concerns: good liturgy, social justice, the role of women in our church, immigration policies that reflect Gospel values, the dignity of all human lives, and a Church that welcomes all the People of God. Our mission is to be an association of U.S. Catholic priests offering mutual support and a collegial voice through dialogue, contemplation and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society. Our vision is to be a Priest’s Voice of Hope and Joy within our Pilgrim Church. More information is at uscatholicpriests.org.
(Contact: Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director, email@example.com)
FutureChurch’s mission is to seek changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life, ministry, and governance. FutureChurch works for just, open and collaborative structures for Catholic worship, organization and governance; a return to the Church’s early tradition of both married and celibate priests; a return to the Church’s earliest tradition, modeled on the inclusive practice of Jesus, of recognizing both female and male leaders of faith communities; and regular access to the Eucharist, the center of Catholic life and worship, for all Catholics. FutureChurch’s activities grow from a spirituality based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, the Spirit-filled beliefs of the faithful, and the teachings of Vatican II. More information is at futurechurch.org.
Voice of the Faithful®
(Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org)
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 reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’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. More information is at votf.org.
BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 11, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful, a movement of Roman Catholics whose major goals include supporting priests, endorses the recent statement made by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests that calls for revisions in the training of men for ordination to the priesthood to ensure greater adherence to the tenets of the Second Vatican Council and teachings of Pope Francis.
The impetus for AUSCP’s statement stems from the 2016 mandate of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy that each bishop’s conference update its Program for Priestly Formation.
“Our study and reflection persuade us that a new Program of Priestly Formation needs more than minimal editing … It needs in-depth revisions,” the priests said in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Consecrated Life and Vocations. “Our comments are made in response to the significant challenges facing the Church in the United States.”
The priests include among these challenges fewer Catholics actively participating in the Church, fewer priests and candidates for the priesthood, fewer converts, fewer Church weddings, fewer baptisms, fewer parishes, and more people identifying themselves as “spiritual” rather than “religious.”
The AUSCP statement, “Preparing the Sixth Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation,” points to six overriding concerns: faithfulness to Vatican II, call to service, pastoral model of priestly formation, psychosexual development and celibacy, discernment processes, and faculty formation. As stated in their letter, these thoughts are “grounded” in Vatican II, in the writings, statements, and actions of Pope Francis, and in their own experiences. In their statement, the priests make recommendations to help address each of these concerns. Use this link to read the AUSCP’s entire letter and statement.
In endorsing this statement, VOTF points out it has long sought greater emphasis on Vatican II values, including less “clerical,” more pastoral priests, who place service as their highest calling. VOTF also sees as immensely valuable a greater emphasis on psychosexual training for the priesthood, which may have helped avert or at least ameliorate the clergy sexual abuse scandal.
The priests conclude their statement by pointing out that the “current seminary model was established nearly 500 years ago.” As its motto, “Keep the faith, change the Church,” suggests, VOTF would agree that time for change is here.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Apr. 11, 2018
Contact: Nick Ingala, email@example.com, 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.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, FutureChurch, and Voice of the Faithful are launching a new initiative to foster education and conversation on women deacons.
DeaconChat, brings Catholics―both lay and ordained―into dialogue.
On May 12, 2016, Pope Francis―responding to a question posed by members of the International Union of Superiors General―said that he would establish a commission to study the question of ordaining women deacons in the Roman Catholic Church. That commission was formally announced in August 2016 and began its work in November 2016.
“Already in 2013, AUSCP called for consideration of ordaining women deacons. As the papal commission continues its work, it is important that Catholics―lay and ordained―undergo their own study and discernment of the history and present possibility of ordaining women to the diaconate,” said Fr. Bob Bonnot, Chair of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests. “DeaconChat provides that opportunity.”
“This initiative is designed to foster educational efforts to enrich dialogue on women deacons,” said Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director of Voice of the Faithful. “The program has three important components: learning, sharing, and connecting.”
“The initiative includes important educational materials, a link to purchase Phyllis Zagano’s book Women Deacons: Past, Present and Future, and guides for inviting clergy to dialogue,” said Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director of FutureChurch. “We hope Catholics in the United States and around the world will be inspired to start a conversation in their parish.”
Go to http://www.CatholicWomenDeacons.org/support/deaconchat to download the DeaconChat materials.
Fr. Bob Bonnot, Chair, Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, 330-397-1257, firstname.lastname@example.org
Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director, FutureChurch, 513.673.1401, email@example.com
Donna Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, 1-781-559-3360, firstname.lastname@example.org
An association of nearly 1,200 U.S. priests is in the final development stages of issuing an urgent ‘plea’ to the U.S. bishops to ‘formulate a plan now to meet this emerging crisis’ of parish closings and consolidations.
“In a working draft it calls a ‘Proposal for Pastoral Care In & Thru Priestless Parishes,’ the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests exhorts the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and ‘dioceses nationwide’ to quickly address the issue.
“Core to the plan is ‘new and more specific exploration’ of lay ecclesial ministers to oversee non-sacramental aspects of parish life and administration, according to a proposed plan cover letter contained in an email to NCR.”
By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
U.S. Priests Want Married Men to Be Ordained, Support Worker Pensions, Immigration Reform and Opening Up Bishop-Selection Process / Religion News Service
A proposal to ask American Catholic bishops to request church approval to ordain married men as priests was approved June 25 by the 230 priests attending an assembly of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests this week in St. Louis.
“The group also announced support for full payment of worker pensions, asked that lay people have a role in the selection of diocesan bishops, and made plans to help Catholics learn more about Church teaching in regard to immigration rights and responsibilities.
“In recommending a call for the church to ordain married men, the association cited published reports that Pope Francis would welcome such a request from bishop’s conferences around the world.”
By Religion News Service Religion Press Release Services — Click here to read the rest of this press release and see contact information for the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests.
The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests in a letter to Pope Francis criticized the head of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith for his recent comments chastising the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.
“The Seattle-based association, which claims 1,000 U.S. priests as members, focused its letter to the pope on comments made by the congregation’s prefect, German Cardinal Gerhard Müller, in an April 30 welcoming address to LCWR leadership.”
By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.