Posts Tagged conference of catholic bishops

Austrian Reformist Priest Fr. Helmut Schuller Concludes U.S. Tour in Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in NYC

Austrian reformist priest Fr. Helmut Schuller started his 15-city U.S. speaking tour, Catholic Tipping Point: Conversations with Helmut Schuller, in New York City July 16. He concluded his tour there Aug. 8 in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral. He brought his Roman Catholic Church reform message to more than 5,000 people during his tour and received a good deal of media coverage in the U.S. and Europe. After speaking to supporters in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Fr. Schuller delivered thousands of actual and virtual red ribbons symbolizing the Holy Spirit and support for reform goals to the office of Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. He also delivered the following letter to Cardinal Dolan:

August 8, 2013

Dear Cardinal Dolan:

Over the past three weeks, I have met with thousands of Catholics – laity and clergy – in 15 cities across the U.S. to share experiences and to learn from one another. At each place I visited, participants in our conversations wore red ribbons, signifying the gift of the Holy Spirit given to all the faithful. These ribbons as well as nearly 2,000 online signatures have been collected, and we offer them to you as a sign of our commitment to our church, a community where the People of God should be represented at every level of leadership and decision-making.

I learned much during my conversations with American Catholics. I discovered very many who are working hard to meet the challenges facing us all and to give voice to their needs, as is their right and obligation under Canon 212. I also heard from many priests who are concerned about the future of their parishes and their ministries. Sadly, many do not feel free to speak openly about their concerns. This must be a matter of concern to you as president of the USCCB. I do not believe that there is any place for fear or intimidation in our Church, and yet I found it time and again in my talks with fellow priests. I also found this same intimidation in the attempts to prevent Catholics from hearing me in Boston, Philadelphia and Detroit.

My hope is that my visit contributed to an authentic Christian conversation that must take place across our Church in every country. As we all are inspired by the example of Pope Francis, we should engage in an honest dialogue about the challenges we must overcome in making our Church a sign of the Kingdom and a sacrament to the world of the 21st century. As you know, I and my fellow priests have been working in Austria and in other parts of Europe to cultivate this dialogue. We stand ready to assist you here in the U.S. in any way we can to encourage the same honest and fearless exchange of views.

In the peace of Jesus Christ,

Rev. Helmut Schüller

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Convicted Prelate Apparently Not on Bishops’ Agenda in Baltimore This Week

Bishop Sash & crossBishop Robert Finn of Missouri stands convicted of covering up for a priest caught with thousands of images involving “child sex” on his computer. That this is a travesty is an understatement. That Bishop Finn has not resigned or been removed or even censured by his brother bishops is abhorrent. As U.S. bishops gather for their Fall General Assembly, Nov. 12-15, in Baltimore, Bishop Finn’s situation appears not to have made the agenda.

Bishop Finn’s conviction is the most significant example of how Roman Catholic bishops have exempted themselves from the requirement to follow their Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. Over the decade since this Dallas Charter was adopted, bishops have failed to report allegations of clergy sexual abuse, have kept accusations from their own review boards, and in at least one instance, have simply decided that the Charter does not apply to them at all. The U.S. bishops’ own National Review Board, which conducts audits to ensure bishops are carrying out the Charter guidelines, even warned them against “complacency or Charter drift” in its June 13, 2012, 10-year report.

Although Voice of the Faithful® is disappointed at the relative inaction on this issue by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops at previous national meetings, we call for them to act immediately at their present Fall General Assembly by doing the following, which would put teeth into fraternal correction and make the USCCB position on child protection absolutely clear:

  • When USCCB learns a bishop has engaged in activity that would be prohibited by the Charter, or
  • When USCCB learns a bishop has disregarded the principles of the Charter and has failed to take the actions required by the Charter, or
  • When USCCB learns a bishop has made public statements indicating his disagreement with the Charter’s principles or his unwillingness to take the action the Charter requires,
  • Then, after notifying the bishop and after the bishop fails to take corrective action within 60 days,
  • The bishop shall be excluded from USCCB activities and the USCCB’s action shall be reported to the Papal Nuncio and be the subject of a USCCB press release.

Voice of the Faithful® believes the threat of exclusion and public disapprobation will encourage USCCB members to implement the Charter more vigilantly, and resolving the above is a viable way to ensure this.

Our request for this action follows up on formal recommendations to tighten NRB audits that Voice of the Faithful® representatives made in April 2011 shortly after meeting with the then heads of the bishops’ Office of Child and Youth Protection and NRB, Teresa Kettelkamp and Diane Knight, respectively. We are convinced the actions we propose would enhance protection of children and help restore bishops’ badly damaged credibility. Those recommendations included:

  • Fully independent audits, with no restrictions on access to individuals or records;
  • Independent diocesan review boards;
  • Insulation of victim assistance programs from chancery officials, diocesan law firms or insurance companies;
  • Listening sessions around the country to hear lay Catholics’ reactions to the abuse/cover-up revelations and their expectations for resolving them; and
  • Formal support for Statutes of Limitations reform to provide victims/survivors with redress through civil authority.

Voice of the Faithful® has written NRB Chairman Al J. Notzon, III, regarding the above, and will be anxiously awaiting the outcomes from the USCCB’s Fall General Assembly.

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Convicted bishop is Catholic hierarchy’s elephant in the room – The Washington Post

“As the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gathers for its annual fall meeting in Baltimore next week (Nov. 12-15), one of the biggest issues confronting the prelates won’t be on the formal agenda: how to cope with the re-election of a president whose policies many bishops denounced as unprecedented attacks on the Catholic Church.

“But another topic not on the agenda may loom just as large for a hierarchy hoping to wield influence in the public square. In September, Bishop Robert Finn of Missouri became the first bishop to be found guilty of covering up for a priest suspected of child abuse.”

By David Gibson, Religion News Service, in The Washington Post

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