Posts Tagged lay people

Why the ‘Metropolitan Plan’ doesn’t work — Exhibit A: Bishop Bransfield / Commonweal

As if by an act of divine providence, however, the first trial run of a metropolitan-centered strategy to contain abusive bishops has provided a spectacular public demonstration of how this plan can fail. The case I am referring to, of course, is that of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who has been suspended from ministry over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of diocesan funds. (Commonweal)

The now-glaring weakness of the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was that it made no provision for dealing with bishops who engage in sexual misconduct. In the wake of the scandal surrounding Theodore McCarrick, who had escaped the consequences of his abuses for decades, the American bishops realized this gap had to be closed. Without some mechanism for holding bishops accountable, the trust that the hierarchy hoped to rebuild after the devastating revelations of clergy abuse of children could never be achieved.

“In the course of discussions in the months following the McCarrick revelations, two proposals emerged: an independent lay-run board could investigate a bishop and report to Rome, or a case could be referred to the metropolitan bishop of the region (a metropolitan is the bishop of the chief see of an ecclesiastical province, usually an archdiocese), who would oversee the investigation and send his findings to Rome. In either case, the pope would make a final determination of the fate of the bishop.

“Not surprisingly, the latter option (first proposed by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago) was the one favored by most American bishops and the Vatican. It decentralizes the work of investigating accusations. It avoids thorny practical questions about who chooses the members of the lay board. And, critically, it sidesteps the canonical ‘problem’ of lay people in the church being placed in a position of authority over bishops.

“The guidelines issued this spring by Pope Francis endorsed the ‘metropolitan plan.’ At their June meeting in Baltimore, the American bishops adopted it, though with some debate over whether lay involvement in the process should be mandatory or optional. They made it optional.

“As if by an act of divine providence, however, the first trial run of a metropolitan-centered strategy to contain abusive bishops has provided a spectacular public demonstration of how this plan can fail. The case I am referring to, of course, is that of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who has been suspended from ministry over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of diocesan funds.”

By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal — Read more …

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Priest and lay reform organizations take on clerical culture


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.

The BridgeDialogues is a collaborative effort of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, FutureChurch, and Voice of the Faithful. They offer:

  • 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, louiearceneaux66@gmail.com)
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.


FutureChurch
(Contact: Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director, debrose@futurchurch.org)
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.

 

VOTF Logo
Voice of the Faithful®
(Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, dbdoucette@votf.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.

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Prominent Catholics see larger role for laity in church’s abuse response / Catholic news Service

“It’s heartening that finally after all these years, and we hope it’s more than just verbiage, that the very things that the bishops attacked us for saying, they’re saying it now,” she (Donna Doucette, Voice of the Faithful Executive Director) added. (Catholic News Service)

An independent lay-run board that would hold bishops accountable for their actions, a national day for Mass or prayers of reparation, and encouragement to parishioners to become more involved in their diocese are among steps suggested by prominent lay Catholics to right the U.S. church as it deals with a new clergy sexual abuse scandal.

“Those contacted by Catholic News Service said that it was time for laypeople to boost their profile within the church and help begin to dismantle long-standing clericalism that has sought to preserve the reputation of offending clergy at the expense of the safety of children.

”Their credibility is gone and the trust of the faithful is gone,’ Francesco Cesareo, chairman of the National Review Board, said of the U.S. bishops as they worked to develop steps to promote greater accountability on abuse …

Cesareo was not alone in calling for a separate body to be established to handle accusations of abuse involving bishops. While details varied, the basic premise envisions that such a board would review abuse allegations or complaints of improper handling of an abuse claim by any bishop.

Just such a body has been sought since 2002, when the abuse scandal arose in the Archdiocese of Boston, by the church reform group Voice of the Faithful, said Donna Doucette, executive director.

By Dennis Sadowsky, Catholic News Service — Read more …

 

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Francis considers mandating consultation of laity in bishop selection / National Catholic Reporter

“While nuncios are currently allowed to consult laypeople when considering bishop candidates, they are not obligated to do so, and frequently put the focus of their consultations on current clergy members.”

One of the members of the Council of Cardinals said the group is considering whether to advise Pope Francis to make it mandatory for Vatican ambassadors to consult with laypeople before making recommendations for possible new bishops in the Catholic Church.

“Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias suggested the nine-member group might recommend that ambassadors be instructed to consult with members of a diocese’s pastoral or finance councils before passing on names of who to consider for bishop.

“‘This is a central matter for the church,’ Gracias said in a June 15 NCR interview. ‘The bishop is a central figure and the choice of a good bishop is very important for every church. If you choose the wrong person, things can be set back by years in the pastoral life of the church.'”

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

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Catholic bishops rule in their dioceses; who gets a say in their appointment?

Catholic BishopJan. 10, 2017 – Four U.S. Catholic bishops have reached retirement age and five more will in 2017, and their dioceses await word about who their next bishop will be. The stakes are high. Bishops rule in their dioceses.

Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for the widest possible input in selecting local bishops. Catholic lay people have the right and responsibility to comment and an expectation of being heard on issues important to the church. Not much is more important than who leads the local diocese. But papal nuncios (ambassadors), who recommend bishop candidates to the pope, listen only to a few influential clerics and even fewer lay people.

Pope Francis has made clear his desire for casting the widest possible net for bishop candidates. Most recently, the pontiff told his nuncios, “You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding grounds of ‘friends of friends,’” he said.

To help ensure the laity is heard, VOTF provides a website, votf.org/bishop, where lay people can become involved in the process. They can easily express their concerns and recommendations in three areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.

More than 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments on the website. Recommendations made on the website go directly to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the present U.S. apostolic nuncio.

U.S. bishops who already have submitted letters of resignation to the Pope, required at age 75, are:

  • Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.;
  • Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona;
  • Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport, Iowa; and
  • Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California.

U.S. bishops who turn 75 this year are:

  • Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia;
  • Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana;
  • Bishop Alvaro Corrada Del Rio, S.J., of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico;
  • Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas, Nevada; and
  • Bishop Robert Meunch of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Several dioceses, where the Pope has accepted the bishops’ resignations, await replacements. They are:

  • Allentown, Pennsylvania, former bishop John Barres now bishop of Rockville Centre, New York;
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming, former bishop Paul Etienne now archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Cleveland, Ohio, former bishop Richard Lennon resigned for health reasons;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana, former archbishop Joseph Tobin now archbishop of Newark, New Jersey
  • Juneau, Alaska, former bishop Edward Burns now bishop of Dallas, Texan;
  • Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, former bishop Gregory Parkes now bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida;
  • Raleigh, North Carolina, former bishop Michael Burbidge now bishop of Alexandria, Virginia.

Catholics in any of these dioceses can use votf.org/bishop to send their input about their next bishop to the U.S. apostolic nuncio.


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jan. 10, 2017

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.

Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360

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Francis’ priorities vs. the priorities of the U.S. bishops / National Catholic Reporter

As the U.S. bishops gather in Baltimore for their annual fall meeting this week (Nov. 16-17), they will be deciding their priorities until the end of this decade. Will these priorities sync with those of Pope Francis or will the bishops continue on as if the pope is not taking the church in a new direction …

“Francis has been very clear in laying out his priorities in his talks and writings. His priorities would look more like this:

  • A poor church for the poor
  • The church as a field hospital, a church of mercy and compassion
  • The practice of synodality at all levels of the church
  • The end of clericalism and the empowerment of the laity
  • The promotion of justice and peace and the protection of the environment —

“Francis’ harshest words are against clericalism and careerism in the church. He sounds like Jesus denouncing the scribes and Pharisees. He insists that leadership is for service. That shepherds must smell like their sheep. And that priests and bishops are at the bottom of the pyramid, not the top …

“Francis also wants to empower the laity to take up their role in evangelization and in reshaping the world according to Gospel values.

“As he asked the CELAM bishops in Brazil,

  • ‘Do we make the lay faithful sharers in the mission?’
  • Do diocesan and parish councils, ‘whether pastoral or financial, provide real opportunities for laypeople to participate in pastoral consultation, organization and planning?’
  • Do we give the laity ‘the freedom to continue discerning, in a way befitting their growth as disciples, the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them? Do we support them and accompany them, overcoming the temptation to manipulate them or infantilize them?'”

By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of the article.

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Congregation for laity and family is on the way / La Stampa

The C9 has finalized the proposal it will present to the Pope, who may decide to establish the congregation even before the whole reform plan is complete.

“The work of the C9 group, the council of nine cardinals tasked with studying the reform of the Roman Curia and helping the Pope in the government of the universal Church, concludes today (Sept. 16). After the establishment of the Secretariat for the Economy and the Secretariat for Communications, the next step will be the creation of a new congregation dedicated to the laity, the family and life issues …

“It was suggested on a number of occasions that lay people should be placed at the helm of the new congregation but in February this year, Fr. Lombardi said the top person in charge could not be a lay person. However, the possibility of  lay people acting as secretaries or assistant secretaries of the congregation has not been excluded.”

By Andrea Tornielli, Vatican Insider, La Stampa — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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