Posts Tagged catholic dissent

Msgr. William Lynn Released from Prision


A Roman Catholic church official who won an appeal of his landmark conviction in the priest-abuse scandal left state prison on Thursday after 18 months behind bars.

“Monsignor William Lynn left the prison in Waymart in northeastern Pennsylvania, prison spokeswoman Terri Fazio said, and was being taking by the Philadelphia Sheriff’s Office to a city jail, where he would be fitted with an electronic monitoring device.

“After that, he’ll be released, probably to the custody of a family member, one of his lawyers said.”

By Associated Press in the Philadelphia Inquirer — Click here to read the rest of the article. See also — “DA Blasts Archdiocese for Helping Lynn Make Bail,” “Monsignor Lynn Case Could Affect Penn State Trial.”

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Lynn Convicted; Sad Day for the Catholic Church

Although the conviction of Msgr. William Lynn today in Philadelphia of child endangerment is a sad day for the Catholic Church, the conviction at least imposes a measure of accountability on the Church hierarchy for covering up the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy.

For years, Voice of the Faithful and other advocates have called on the Church to hold accountable bishops and other officials who abetted abuse by keeping it secret. Lynn is the first, and thus far the only, member of the Church hierarchy who has been held accountable for covering up abuse, and it took civil authorities to force that accountability.

Voice of the Faithful has been calling for years for transparency in the way the Church handles clergy sexual abuse and for accountability of those who have abetted abuse by keeping it secret.

Sadly, the civil authority now has had to bring to justice a Church official for endangering children by helping to keep their abusers’ crimes hidden instead of the Church being completely forthcoming years ago at the time the abuse occurred.

The Roman Catholic Church cannot hope to heal the deep wounds to victims, their families, faithful Catholics and the Church itself until the hierarchy is completely honest about this scandal and demonstrates a commitment to justice and accountability at least equal to that displayed by the court in Philadelphia.

Voice of the Faithful once again calls on the Vatican and the bishops to hold accountable those among them who knowingly failed to remove child sex abusers from the clerical ranks.

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One Week after USCCB 2012 Spring Meeting – What could we conclude the bishops are thinking?

Well, the bishops certainly don’t appear to have been thinking about the declining number of priests in the United States. Or the closing schools and parishes. Or the loss of moral authority stemming from bishops covering up clergy sexual abuse. Or the indictment of a sitting bishop. Or the trial of a former office of clergy head. Or the attacks on theologians for acting like theologians. Or the backlash against criticism of U.S. nuns choosing to work with the poor and marginalized instead of promoting the bishops’ agendas. Or adjusting their own Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which some of their own members don’t follow and in which loopholes haven’t been tightened despite recommendations by their own review board. Or the right of individual conscience, which would be the ultimate religious freedom.

From Voice of the Faithful’s point of view, accountability for clergy sexual abuse, transparency in Church governance and finances, lack of transparency that promotes scandal, and acknowledgment of the laity’s particular charismata, were farthest from the bishops’ minds.

Here’s a look at some of the media reports about the recent USCCB meeting. Included in the list are the bishops’ National Review Board’s 10th-year report and recommendations regarding clergy sexual abuse—

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Who’s funding the Catholic bishops’ religious freedom campaign?

The U.S. bishops’ campaign for religious freedom, “Fortnight for Freedom,” which kicks off today, is going to cost a great deal of money. Who is paying for it?

Religion News Service | Faith | Leaders & Institutions | Who’s funding the Catholic bishops’ religious freedom campaign?.

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Voice of the Faithful Plans 10th Year Conference in Boston

VOTF 10th Year ConferenceThe worldwide Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful®, which started in 2002 in outrage and dismay that the Church’s power structure had kept clergy sexual abuse of children secret, is marking its tenth year with a conference in Boston this September. The event is expected to draw supporters from across the United States and Europe.

VOTF President Mark Mullaney“At the close of our first decade, we’re assessing where we’ve been and considering what we have left to do to bring healing and renewal to clergy abuse survivors, to conscientious priests trapped in such turmoil for so long a time and to our whole Church.,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president.

Under the rubric of “celebrating its mission, rejuvenating its commitment and accelerating its work,” VOTF is bringing together speakers whose work has given them in-depth knowledge and keen awareness not only of the Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal and the devastation wreaked upon victims and their families, but also of the clericalism in the Church’s hierarchy, theological and doctrinal underpinnings of Church teaching and the effects the reform movement has had on Catholics and the Church.

These speakers will include:

  • John Morgan, Chair of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church in Ireland;
  • Honorable Anne Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, children’s advocate and former United States Conference of Catholic Bishops National Review Board chair;
  • Rev. Donald Cozzens, author, international commentator and lecturer on religious and cultural issues, especially on the Church’s sexual and financial crises, and writer in residence at John Carroll University, Cleveland, Ohio;
  • Prof. Thomas Groome, theologian, author and Department of Religious Education and Pastoral Ministry chairman, Boston College, Boston, Mass.
  • Rev. James Connell, canon lawyer, pastor in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and advocate for clergy sexual abuse survivors;
  • Jamie Manson, award-winning columnist for National Catholic Reporter, lay minister to the poor and frequent speaker and retreat leader; and
  • David Clohessy, executive director, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the nation’s largest and oldest self-help group for clergy sexual abuse survivors.

The Voice of the Faithful® 10th Year Conference takes place Friday and Saturday, Sept. 14 and 15, at the Marriott Copley Place Hotel, Boston, Mass. Conference information is available on the conference pages of VOTF’s website.

VOTF President Mark Mullaney personal invitation to the 10th Year Conference can be viewed by clicking here.

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African theologian questions church’s exclusion of women | National Catholic Reporter

Addressing 300 fellow theologians at the Catholic Theological Society of America meeting in St. Louis June 8, according to National Catholic Reporter, Jesuit Fr. Agbonkhianmeghe Orobator said the church “totters on the brink of compromising its self-identity as the basic sacrament of salvation” and that a particular concern is the church’s disregard of women.

Orobater wrapped up his address by saying, “I believe that it lies within the realm of possibility to transform our church into a truly catholic and richly textured (sic) patchwork of different genders, races, generations, orientations, ministries, and faith traditions that signify that saving presence of God in our midst.”

Here is a link to NCR’s entire report:

African theologian questions church’s exclusion of women | National Catholic Reporter.

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Theological society backs Vatican-criticized nun | National Catholic Reporter

Sr. Margaret Farely’s “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics,” was condemned recently by the Vatican.

Theological society backs Vatican-criticized nun | National Catholic Reporter.

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Analysis: Bishops’ accountability still missing from abuse scandal – The Washington Post

A familiar litany…

Analysis: Bishops’ accountability still missing from abuse scandal – The Washington Post.

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U.S. sisters: Vatican order has caused ‘scandal and pain’ | National Catholic Reporter

From National Catholic Reporter comes an indication of how things might go between U.S. nuns and the Vatican regarding the latter’s mandate for reform of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious.

Here is NCR’s story:

U.S. sisters: Vatican order has caused ‘scandal and pain’

And here is LCWR’s statement following its board meeting May 29-31:

LCWR Board Meets to Review CDF Report

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Vatican Declares “Year of Assault”

By John C. Sivalon, M.M. 

Under the guise of a “Year of Faith,” the Vatican has launched an all-out assault on any theology or interpretation of Vatican II based on what it calls a “Hermeneutic (Interpretation) of Rupture.” This theological assault is articulated in the document known as “Porta Fidei” written by Benedict XVI and further specified in a document titled “Note on Recommendations for the Implementation of the Year of Faith” which was developed by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Both of these documents are cited by Cardinal Levada in his statement on the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR). The rationale for that assessment and other punitive moves that have been made in recent months (Caritas International, educational institutes, and the Girl Scouts) must be understood in the broader context of this special “year of assault.”

The real crux of the issue according to the “Note” is a “correct understanding” of Vatican II over against “erroneous interpretations.” Benedict likes to refer to these interpretations as being based on a “hermeneutic of discontinuity” while referring to his own interpretation as being based on a “hermeneutic of renewal.” In truth, better labels for these respectively, are a “hermeneutic of mission” over against Benedict’s “hermeneutic of retrenchment.”

The hermeneutic of mission sees in the documents of Vatican II an attempt by the Church to rediscover in its past the kernels of fresh understandings and ecclesial structures that respond more authentically and relevantly to what the Council called the modern world. This hermeneutic sees the Council Fathers confirming tradition as a foundation upon which faith can continually build and grow as its context changes. It also sees God as continually present in history and culture, graciously offering new perceptions for understanding and interpreting the fullness of revelation.

The hermeneutic of retrenchment, on the other hand, sees in the documents of Vatican II the restatement of ossified doctrines in language that can be understood by the modern world. The hermeneutic of retrenchment regards tradition as a wall which functions to deter erroneous understandings. It also tends to see the modern context of the world negatively, often assigning to it labels such as secularism, relativism or pluralism. As Benedict says, “whereas in the past it was possible to recognize a unitary cultural matrix, broadly accepted in its appeal to the content of the faith and the values inspired by it, today this no longer seems to be the case in large swathes of society, . .” The hermeneutic of retrenchment, hence, longs for the past; for an idealized age of Christendom.

Thus, the action against LCWR and the other actions against loyal voices of faithful Christians open to discerning God’s wisdom in modern culture, should be seen as initial forays of shock and awe to soften the strongest areas of resistance, before the actual onslaught begins. That major assault is scheduled for October of 2012, with the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the “New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.” The first working paper (Lineamenta) for this synod clearly sets forth the target of “New Evangelization.”

The target is plainly modern culture. According to the document the modern world is epitomized by a culture of relativism, which it says has even seeped into Christian life and ecclesial communities. The authors claim that its serious “anthropological implications are a questioning of basic human experiences for example the relation between a man and a woman as well as the meaning of reproduction and death itself.” Associated with this phenomenon, the document states, is the tremendous mixing of cultures resulting in “forms of corruption, the erosion of the fundamental references to life, the undermining of the values for which we exert ourselves and the deterioration of the very human ties we use to identify ourselves and give meaning to our lives.” Benedict in other places has labeled this pluralism; thus completing his trilogy of the demonic: secularism, relativism and pluralism, as he dreams of a reestablished, romanticized culture of Medieval Europe.

In stark contrast, the institutes of women religious dramatically exemplify the hermeneutic of mission: they moved out of “habits” that set them apart from the world; face the challenges of embracing the presence of God in modern culture; and faithfully struggle with being an authentic and clear sign of God’s love for the world. The assessment against them is outrageous for its patronizing arrogance and its patriarchy. But it is also clear that it is about much more: the dramatic fissure within the Roman Catholic church concerning the interpretation of Vatican II and the embracing (or failure to embrace) God’s presence in modern culture.

In this assault what is so pernicious, besides the effects on the lives of those immediately and dramatically targeted, is the appropriation of concepts developed by those operating out of a hermeneutic of mission by those who uphold a hermeneutic of retrenchment, who then redefine and use those concepts to defend and support their assault. Three quick examples of this are found in the Statement of Cardinal Levada on the doctrinal assessment of the LCWR and in the doctrinal assessment itself.

First, Levada claims that the overarching aim of the Assessment is to assist in implementing an “ecclesiology of communion.” The theologians who developed this ecclesiology based their reflections on the Vatican II emphasis on Church as the People of God, Body of Christ or A Pilgrim People. All of these images were employed by Vatican II to broaden the understanding of Church as being more than the hierarchy. None of these paradigms envision unity as fabricated through force or obedience to doctrine. Rather, unity is seen as flowing out of dialogue and common discernment as the People of God struggle together to be faithful and authentic witnesses of self-emptying Love. Who more than these institutes of religious women epitomize communion founded on faith and lived as self-emptying love?

Second, the doctrinal assessment of LCWR defines the sacramental character of the Church almost exclusively as patriarchal hierarchy. Again, the assessment document usurps a Vatican II understanding of Church as sacrament and recasts it. Vatican II on the other hand posits the Church in its entirety as the sacrament of the Reign of God.

Finally, in the post-Vatican II period, many theologians from various parts of the world have developed the image of Church as Prophet. They established this vision on a preferential option for the poor, a belief in salvation as liberation and the need to be critical not just of structures of the world but of the Church itself and its role in support of situations of oppression and human denigration. However the assessment document denies any possibility of prophecy aimed at the Church hierarchy itself or separate from that hierarchy. This abhorrent disregard for the Biblical prophets and their strong stance against the priest, kings and empty rituals of faith somehow is not perceived as a rupture with the past or tradition by those operating out of this hermeneutic of retrenchment.

As modern Catholics celebrate the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II, we have entered into a new chapter of church history. The Council that was declared to open the windows is now being reinterpreted as closed shutters, protecting the Church from the gale force winds of a world searching for spiritual authenticity. While said to be a time of renewal, the “Year of Faith” is really dedicated to the idolatry of doctrine, power and hierarchy. The sisters in their communal service to the Church and world, who not only take a vow of poverty but actually live that vow without privilege, status or accumulation of wealth are a vivid and prophetic contrast to the inauthenticity of the call to retrenchment masquerading as renewal.

The column appeared originally on the blog “I Stand with the Sisters for Justice in the Church” and is reprinted here with the author’s permission.

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