Posts Tagged national catholic reporter

Indictment of fundraising priest exposes lack of diocesan oversight / National Catholic Reporter

“The odd episode — like the widespread sex-abuse scandal that has roiled U.S. dioceses for many years — marked another black eye for the church. But it points to the need for dioceses to pay attention to possible financial scandals as well as sexual abuse ones.” (National Catholic Reporter) — See Voice of the Faithful’s Financial Accountability webpage — http://votf.org/node/1587 — and “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2020 Report” — http://www.votf.org/2020FWGReport.pdf

National Catholic Reporter and Voice of the Faithful

“Fr. Lenin Vargas’ request for money seemed more fitting for a spam email than from a Catholic priest.

“From 2014 until 2018, Vargas allegedly solicited funds from parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Starkville, Mississippi, where he was the pastor, for what he claimed were expenses for his cancer treatment and for charities in his native country of Mexico. But according to a federal indictment, there was no cancer treatment. Vargas had HIV and his medical expenses were covered by his employer, the Diocese of Jackson. Still, Vargas was able to raise over $33,000.

“Furthermore, the Diocese of Jackson failed to divulge the fraud, allowing Vargas to pilfer money for years, according to a report from the Clarion Ledger in Jackson, which cites an affidavit filed in federal court by Homeland Security Investigations, the investigative arm of the U.S Department of Homeland Security.

“Last February, Vargas was indicted on 10 counts of wire fraud in the Northern District of Mississippi, according to court documents that were made available in July, the newspaper reported. If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines.

“In July, the Diocese of Jackson, which was also being investigated for its alleged inaction, agreed to tighten its financial controls under a deal it reached with the feds, according to the Mississippi Catholic, the diocesan newspaper.

“As part of the deferred prosecution agreement, the diocese agreed to return the money to Vargas’ alleged victims, form a review board to focus on ethical conduct, establish a hotline for callers to anonymously report any concerns to the diocese, revise collection processes and start a penal process against Vargas.”

By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Francis changes Catholic Church law: women explicitly allowed as lectors, altar servers / National Catholic Reporter

“Francis’ new letter, titled Spiritus Domini and issued motu proprio (on his own initiative), changes the Code of Canon Law to explicitly allow women to be installed in the Catholic Church as lectors and acolytes.”

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis has changed Catholic Church law to make explicit that laywomen can act as readers and altar servers in liturgical celebrations, effectively removing a previous option for individual bishops to restrict those ministries only to men.

“In an unexpected apostolic letter published Jan. 11, the pontiff says he is making the change to recognize a ‘doctrinal development’ that has occurred in recent years.

“That change, the pope says, ‘shines a light on how some ministries instituted by the church have as their foundation that common condition of baptism and the royal priesthood received in the Sacrament of Baptism.’

“Francis’ new letter, titled Spiritus Domini and issued motu proprio (on his own initiative), changes the Code of Canon Law to explicitly allow women to be installed in the Catholic Church as lectors and acolytes.

“Lectors are ministers who proclaim readings at Mass and other liturgical celebrations. Acolytes are ministers who typically assist priests in preparing the altar during the Mass or in distributing Communion. Acolytes are often known as altar servers or Eucharistic ministers in common parlance.

“Laypeople who serve in those ministries are not ordained but can be formally instituted into the roles during a church ceremony.

“Although women in many U.S. Catholic dioceses already serve as readers and altar servers, the church’s canon law had technically only allowed for their service on a temporary basis and according to the whim of the local bishop.”

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

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Event series’ proposals aim to raise women’s voices in San Diego Diocese / National Catholic Reporter

“‘There’s a real need to address women’s issues in the church because historically we haven’t addressed them or we haven’t addressed them well,’ Eckery (Kevin Eckery, vice chancellor of communications and public affairs in the Diocese of San Diego) said.” (National Catholic Reporter)

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“The 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse sent shock waves through the U.S. Catholic Church. For Bridget Gramme, the moment felt like a ‘call to women’ to improve the church.

“‘I’m a cradle Catholic, it’s my community and my identity and my kids go to Catholic schools,’ Gramme said. ‘It’s something we really believe in and the community is so important to us. Maybe it’s time we step it up and not just sit around and let these things happen.’

“Gramme is an attorney and member of the advisory board of the Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture at the University of San Diego.

“Along with Catholic professionals involved in a variety of ministries, Gramme formed a planning team with the goal of healing the church by highlighting the voices of women and youth.

“This idea developed into a series called ‘Future of Faith,’ which resulted in three proposals designed to elevate women’s voices in the diocese. Those proposals include forming a speakers bureau of women, an all-women advisory council to the bishop and a diocesan synod on women’s issues.”

By Sophie Vodvarka, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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McCarrick report shows former cardinal’s character: ambitious, brazen, untouchable / National Catholic Reporter

The content of the Vatican report on McCarrick will burn the varnish off your desk … The most shocking parts (dealing with minors) come in its final 12 pages, but the whole document is nothing short of remarkable. At times, it reads like a novel or a screen play.

National Catholic Reporter

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Seventeen!

“That’s the most shocking number in the Vatican’s 449-page report on ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. McCarrick appears to have molested 17 ‘postpubescent boys or young men’ over the course of his career (Page 440). Some victims were as young as 12 years old. Some he molested repeatedly. Many were children in families that he knew well and visited frequently. He was trusted as a ‘member of the family.’

“The Vatican report does not reveal names or discuss the individual cases. However, it does lay out his typical pattern of grooming and molesting his victims. He used his power to gain access to their families. He forged strong relationships with their parents. He insisted that the boys call him “Uncle Ted” and he referred to them as his “nephews,” an easily exposed lie since McCarrick was an only child. He plied his victims with gifts, favors, trips and liquor. Then he took them to bed in isolated places where they had no hope of help or recourse, typically his beach house on the Jersey Shore or an apartment at a hospital in New York.

“New lawsuits are still being filed, including one in November in U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey, alleging repeated “rape” by McCarrick of a boy beginning at the age of 12. The plaintiff is now 47 years old.”

By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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The implosion of clericalism dramatized in Leonard Berstein’s ‘Mass’ / National Catholic Reporter

“The Catholic Church is afflicted with a rigged clerical system incapable of monitoring itself. It is tempting to despair of the ‘Catholic’ brand, which many of us were once quite proud to claim. It may be time to own our despair. The clerical system isn’t working anymore. Perhaps it was never meant to work, only we didn’t realize it.” (National Catholic Reporter)

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“I find myself again lamenting the abysmal sinfulness of the Catholic clerical system. The long-anticipated release of the McCarrick report sheds harsh light on the failure of complicit bishops and Pope John Paul II to believe then-Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s victims even after New York Cardinal John O’Connor warned the pope not to make him Cardinal Archbishop of Washington.

“The painful mendacity of the clerical system was also on depressing display at FutureChurch’s 30th anniversary celebration, where theologian Doris Wagner Reisinger received the organization’s Young Catholic Leaders Award. Reisinger spoke about her abuse as a young nun and her efforts to bring a prominent Vatican priest to justice. In her experience, Catholic sisters have too often been entrapped in a conspiracy of silence that protects abusing priests.

“In November 2018, Reisinger and two other survivors shattered that silence. They were helped by NCR’s Joshua McElwee, who reported that Reisinger’s abuser — Fr. Hermann Geissler — still held his high ranking position at the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Days after the story ran, Geissler resigned and Pope Francis requested the Vatican’s highest court — the Apostolic Signatura — to investigate the accusations.”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Poland’s powerful Cardinal Dziwisz accused of covering up abuse case

“Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish bishops, and the Vatican’s ambassador in Poland are responsible for the case of Janusz Szymik, a long-time victim of the abusive priest Fr. Jan Wodniak. Why does the injured person have to fight for justice for over 25 years, and still waits?

“The question, still hanging open, raises difficult issues for the Vatican, as Dziwisz was Pope John Paul II’s trusted secretary for 27 years before serving as the Archbishop of Krakow from 2005 to 2016.

“Szymik claims that between the years of 1984 and 1989 he was sexually abused almost 500 times by Wodniak in the village of Międzybrodzie Bialskie, about two hours southeast of Krakow.

“‘It lasted so long, because I was a child who was cornered by him, lived in a snare, because there was nobody to turn to for help, and Wodniak knew it perfectly well,’ Szymik explained to me, adding that due to the experience he came close to committing suicide.

“From 1992 forward, the village in which Szymik was abused became part of a new diocese, Bielsko-Zywiec, which was established by John Paul. It was headed by one of the Holy Father’s closest associates: Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy. This name is worth remembering as it will prove crucial to the whole story.”

By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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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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‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“You would think by now the church would have learned the lesson that secrecy in these matters does not work,” said (civil and canon lawyer Nicholas) Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh. “What is done in the darkness will be seen in the light. Maybe not right away, but eventually.” (National Catholic Reporter)

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

“They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

“Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are The Light Of The World’): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

“Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops’ original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point …”

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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The end of clericalism / National Catholic Reporter

“It is the community that brings intimacy with Christ, that brings intimacy with the holy faithful people of God. It is community we need.” (Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter)

As the human race joins the rest of the planet in a struggle for survival, the church is also trying to find its footing.

“Why?

“Clericalism.

“For too long — say, 800 to 1,000 years — the sacramental life of the church has been under priestly lock and key. Around the 10th century, the custom of stipends for Masses arose. Suddenly, the spiritual value of men’s prayers gained over the spiritual value of women’s prayers and women’s abbeys and monasteries failed one after another.

“Coincidentally, the cursus honorum (‘course of honor’) ended the diaconate as a permanent vocation. Unless one was destined for priesthood, he could not be ordained as deacon. Very few men became “permanent” deacons and women deacons — even abbesses — were no longer ordained.

“Which brings us back to clericalism, the attitude that grace is dispensed to the people of God only by a cleric, preferably a priest. Thousands of priests are not like that. But thousands are.

By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Dr. Zagano will be a featured speaker at Voice of the Faithful’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church, Oct. 3, 2020, Boston Marriott Newton Hotel.

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