Posts Tagged layity
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 …
What we need in today’s Roman Catholic church is a redistribution of power and authority. Pope Francis’ openness to the possibility of having women deacons is not nearly enough to achieve this essential organizational revolution …
“Francis should change canon law so one does not have to be a priest to be the ‘pastor’ of a parish. Give qualified lay men and women and male and female deacons real power and authority to lead some of our faith communities. This change would have two important consequences. It would disconnect the roles of priest and pastor and significantly change the culture of clericalism that Francis rightly deplores …
“Francis is to be applauded for his critique of clericalism and careerism and his emphasis on the Gospel call to bring peace and justice into everyone’s life, especially that of the poor. But if he and others do not make significant changes in the Catholic church’s current power structure and help us return to an emphasis on its mission to call people to discipleship by preaching peace and justice, I believe his efforts will fall far short of what we and the world need from us and our church today.
“We need some big changes in our church and the time is now.”
By Jim Purcell, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.