Posts Tagged Catholic Church reform

Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance / National Catholic Reporter

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.” (National Catholic Reporter)

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

“The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more ‘co-responsible,’ or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

“Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed ‘the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion’ and ‘give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.’

“The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.”

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

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New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis / National Catholic Reporter

The new phase in the abuse crisis has shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance. (Massimo Faggioli in National Catholic Reporter)

There are signs that the Catholic Church’s response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions. In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed.

“In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church.

“Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).

“The new phase of the crisis has focused on the direct involvement of bishops, cardinals and the Vatican. It has also identified that the crisis is not restricted to children and also involves women religious and other vulnerable persons — and has become a global crisis with huge repercussions on the relations between church and state in various countries.

“The new phase in the abuse crisis has also shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance.”

By Massimo Faggiolo, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Eighteen years later, concerned Catholics still addressing clergy abuse

BOSTON, Mass., Mar. 3, 2020 – Eighteen years after The Boston Globe brought to light widespread clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston and after a Pennsylvania grand jury investigation found credibly accused priests throughout the state just two years ago, Voice of the Faithful, founded within weeks of the Globe’s revelations, continues to address the scandal. VOTF members and others will gather later this year to promote their visions of a just Church. The organization’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church will take place on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020, at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel in Newton, Mass.

Offering her own vision of a just Church, the conference’s featured speaker will be internationally acclaimed theologian and Catholic studies scholar Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D. Dr. Zagano has lectured widely in this country and abroad, and she is a member of the Papal Commission for the Study of the Diaconate of Women. She has published hundreds of articles and reviews in the popular press and peer-reviewed journals and is the author or editor of twenty books in religious studies, including groundbreaking work on women in the diaconate, several of which have received awards from the Catholic Press Association and College Theology Society. Dr. Zagano is a recipient of the Voice of the Faithful Distinguished Layperson Award, which recognizes exemplary lay leaders who enthusiastically use their gifts in the Church’s service. She also has received the Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice from The Paulist Center Community in Boston for “her prolific body of work that has constantly echoed the cry of the poorest in our society for dignity and for justice, both inside and outside the Church.” She currently is adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University.

Attendees also will hear additional speakers on the conferences theme, who will be announced soon, and updates from VOTF leaders on the progress of the organization’s programs and initiatives.

Cost for the conference is $150 per person, and those interested in attending also can take advantage of a 2-for-$230 registration that will be offered through Labor Day, Sept. 7.

A continually updated webpage of conference information can be seen by clicking here …


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Mar. 9, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360

Voice of the Faithful®: 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.

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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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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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USCCB president disinvites Bishop Bransfield from fall assembly / Catholic News Service

“The people of this diocese would be very upset and angry to think he (Bishop Bransfield) would be participating in decisions that might well affect them,” Bishop Brennan explained. (Catholic News Service)

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, in consultation with the members of the USCCB Administrative Committee, has taken the highly unusual step of disinviting a fellow bishop from the conference’s fall general assembly.

“The decision affects Bishop Michael J. Bransfield, retired bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who left his position in September 2018 under a cloud of allegations of sexual and financial misconduct. Pope Francis accepted Bishop Bransfield’s resignation Sept. 13, 2018.

“The USCCB meets Nov. 11-13 in Baltimore.

“The action comes under one section of the recently adopted “Protocol Regarding Available Non-Penal Restrictions on Bishops.”

“Bishop Mark E. Brennan, who succeeded Bishop Bransfield, said he initiated the process under the protocol soon after he was installed Aug. 22 to head the West Virginia diocese.”

By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful surveys U.S. dioceses’ financial transparency / National Catholic Reporter

This is the third consecutive year VOTF has studied U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency.

Catholics in the icy north of Anchorage, Alaska, know the warmth of financial transparency in their local church, while Catholics in tropical St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, are getting the cold shoulder.

“Those two dioceses represent the polar opposites of this year’s financial transparency survey of American dioceses compiled by Voice of the Faithful. The Anchorage Archdiocese rated a perfect 100 score, while the St. Thomas Diocese rated the lowest, at 14 points. A total of 177 dioceses were rated.

“This is the third year of studies on financial transparency compiled by Voice of the Faithful, which was founded in 2002 as a lay organization devoted to monitoring church management on sex abuse and finances.

“‘It’s a tale of two churches,’ said Margaret Roylance, a Voice of the Faithful trustee and chair of the organization’s Finance Working Group, announcing the results of this year’s survey at the group’s annual conference here Oct. 19.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Catholic bishops back ordination of married men as priests in Amazon region, a milestone / The New York Times

It is the first time a grouping of bishops convened by a pope has endorsed such a historic change to the tradition of a celibate priesthood. (The New York Times)

A summit of Roman Catholic bishops meeting at the Vatican recommended on Saturday that Pope Francis allow the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon region, which would lift a roughly 1,000-year-old restriction and potentially revolutionize the priesthood.

“It is the first time a grouping of bishops convened by a pope has endorsed such a historic change to the tradition of a celibate priesthood. The proposal is limited to remote areas of South America where there is a scarcity of priests but could set a precedent for easing the restriction on married priests throughout the world.

“If Francis, who has already signaled an openness on the issue, accepts the bishops’ recommendation, he will turn the remote areas of the Amazon region into a laboratory for a Catholic Church looking to the global south for its future, with married priests and indigenous rites mixing with traditional liturgy.

“The pope is expected to respond to the proposals by the end of this year.”

By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times — Read more …

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Illinois chief justice distrusts church hierarchy to police itself on abuse / National Catholic Reporter

“Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,” she (Illinois Chief Justice Anne Burke) said. “I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Don’t count on the bishops to clean up sex abuse in the church, Anne Burke told the annual gathering of Voice of the Faithful here Oct. 19.

“Burke, chief justice of the Illinois Supreme Court and a justice of the court’s First Judicial District, formerly served as interim chair of the National Review Board for the U.S. bishops’ conference; she last addressed Voice of the Faithful in 2012. At that time, she saw reason for optimism that the bishops were willing to address the sex abuse crisis.

“‘Unfortunately, the hope I extended to you in 2012 has been severely eroded,’ she said. ‘I no longer have faith in the hierarchy.’

“Voice of the Faithful was founded in 2002 in response to the sex abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese, where this year’s convention was held. The group now boasts affiliates around the country, which monitors progress on transparency by the church hierarchy on sex abuse and finances.

“‘I am disheartened to say we continue to learn of new instances of clerical misconduct and discover anew that some members of the hierarchy have engaged in secrecy and cover-ups,’ Burke said.

“The cover-ups, Burke said, have a long history. In her time at the National Review Board, she encountered stiff resistance among some bishops.”

By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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