Posts Tagged national catholic reporter

The abuse crisis should be the center of the pope’s ongoing synodal process / National Catholic Reporter

It has become evident that it is no longer an option to ignore, dismiss, belittle, or remain bystanders with regard to cases of abuse, especially in the church. Abuse of any type — sexual, spiritual, abuse of power and/or authority — blatantly contradicts the fundamental dignity of every human being.

Massimo Faggioli and Hans Zollner, S.J., National Catholic Reporter

“As American Jesuit historian Fr. John O’Malley wrote in one of his last articles published in America magazine last February, the history of synodality is older than you think. There are different phases in the history of the synodal institution and way to govern the church: from the very early church to the medieval times to early modern Catholicism. The current phase is part of what Vatican II had in mind for church reform: a mix of aggiornamento (or updating in light of new issues) and of ressourcement (taking a fresh look at the ancient sources of the Christian tradition).

“At the same time, the current synodal process initiated by Pope Francis’ pontificate cannot be understood outside of the epoch-changing abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, one of the “signs of the times” the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II talks about: ‘the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.’ The fact is that now it is no longer the church scrutinizing the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. It is also the signs of the times — beginning with the voices of victims and survivors of abuse — scrutinizing the church in the light of the Gospel.

“It has become evident that it is no longer an option to ignore, dismiss, belittle, or remain bystanders with regard to cases of abuse, especially in the church. Abuse of any type — sexual, spiritual, abuse of power and/or authority — blatantly contradicts the fundamental dignity of every human being. This recognition of the terror of abuse is part of a long-term process of knowing and understanding at a sociocultural and political level (public opinion, legislation, the justice system), but also at the communal level as Catholic community (which is much larger than just the number of those who after baptism participate sacramentally in the life of the church).”

By Massimo Faggioli and Hans Zollner, S.J., National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Cardinal McElroy’s elevation has ‘enormous significance’ for U.S. church / National Catholic Reporter

The Catholics whose hearts have been warmed and encouraged by (Cardinal Robert) McElroy’s leadership for many years were among those ‘ecstatic’ at the appointment.

Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

“As you can imagine, I am not often speechless. But when I finally reached the end of the receiving line at the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See’s residence to greet Cardinal Robert McElroy on Aug. 26, I couldn’t find the words. It has been three months since the news of his elevation to the cardinalate arrived — three months for it to sink in — and I was still not sure what to say.

“Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, knew what to say. ‘Ecstatic’ was how he described what so many Catholics were feeling at this moment. Wester spoke at a dinner for McElroy’s family and friends after the Mass of thanksgiving on Aug. 28. In discussions with pilgrims from San Diego, friends of McElroy’s from San Francisco or from college and seminary, and his brother bishops, ‘ecstatic’ was the exact word.  

“For progressive Catholics, McElroy has been one of a handful of bishops who would go the extra mile, make statements of support for gay Catholics, push back against conservative efforts to hijack church teaching for political ends and participate in conferences on climate change. The Catholics whose hearts have been warmed and encouraged by McElroy’s leadership for many years were among those ‘ecstatic’ at the appointment.

“For Catholic intellectual leaders, ‘ecstatic’ was the right word too. ‘It is something of a truism that theologians and bishops live in different bubbles,’ Jesuit Fr. Mark Massa, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, told me. ‘The person who was best able to burst those bubbles was John Courtney Murray. Well before Vatican II, Murray saw the complexities and the promise of being a faithful Catholic in America. Most intellectuals I talk to, are delighted that McElroy is now a cardinal because he did serious intellectual work on Murray at the beginning of his ecclesiastical career.'”

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Effort to educate Catholic priests on what to do when accused of abuse draws criticism

“I understand the anguish of priests who are wrongly accused and yanked out of a parish without any explanation. But for all of that anguish that they experience, it is minor compared with the pain, the loss and the betrayal experienced by survivors, their families and their parish communities,” said Donna Doucette, executive director of the reform group Voice of the Faithful, which was founded in Boston after the 2002 reporting on abuse and cover-up in that archdiocese.

Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

“A new initiative by a group representing U.S. Catholic priests to inform clerics of their canonical rights when they are accused of misconduct, including sexual abuse, is attracting criticism from survivor advocates, who say it could help cast accused priests in an overly sympathetic light.

“But the clergy behind the effort by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, or AUSCP, argue it is necessary. Over the last 20 years, they say, diocesan leaders have failed to respect priests’ rights under canon law — in some cases allowing accused clerics to languish in administrative “limbo” for several years while civil and church authorities investigate allegations made against them.

“‘And in so many cases it’s virtually impossible to prove their innocence, because it’s pretty hard to prove a negative,’ Fr. Mike Sullivan, a parish priest in Minnesota who is a canon lawyer and a member of the association’s Mutual Support Working Group, told NCR.

“That working group, after nearly two years of consulting with bishops, canonists and priests, has crafted a document that delineates clergy members’ rights under the Code of Canon Law when accused of wrongdoing, including sexual abuse.”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.

Our assessment so far of Vos Estis, based on the cases we’ve tracked in Poland, the United States, and elsewhere: Too few bishops have been found guilty, they’ve been punished too lightly, and next to no information about their misdeeds has been disclosed.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up.

“Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

“It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.

Vos Estis, a motu proprio that was signed on May 9, 2019, was originally enacted for a three-year trial period that ends this June 1. As we wait to see if Francis will now make the law permanent, it is a good time to assess what will likely be this pope’s most significant response to the Catholic abuse crisis.

So far, the Vatican has released no information about the number or names of bishops investigated under Vos Estis. BishopAccountability.org has been able to identify 28 cases where it has been used to process allegations of cover-up or abuse by bishops. We hope it is being used more widely than this — there are 5,600 living Catholic bishops! — but we can’t be sure.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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By closing Catholic News Service, bishops show they’ve lost interest in civic engagement

No, the deeper – and in some ways worse – problem is that the bishops have lost their own commitment to civic engagement, of which the responsibility for providing reliable information is so integral a part.

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

The decision by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to close down Catholic News Service was terrible in terms of lowering the standards of Catholic journalism. It was terrible, also, because of its ecclesial significance, which is a related but different concern, one that strikes at a deeper issue for the nation’s bishops. 

The commentary from Fordham University’s David Gibson, published here at NCR, touched on some of the reasons why closing Catholic News Service was ill-advised pastorally. Gibson observed that CNS is “a counterwitness to the proliferation of ideologically driven Catholic media platforms that are driving the church apart, and regular Catholics around the bend — often right out of Catholicism.” That is surely true. 

It is also clear that not enough bishops were alarmed by the prospect that the only remaining wire service specifically focused on news about the Catholic Church in the United States would be the Catholic News Agency, a subsidiary of EWTN. More bishops need to adopt the posture taken by Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, a former chair of the bishops’ Committee on Communications. “In Burlington, we don’t want anything to do with CNA because of its affiliation with EWTN and the anti-Francis rhetoric on the network,” Coyne told America magazine recently. 

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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In closing Catholic News Service, U.S. bishops undermine their pastoral work / National Catholic Reporter

So many of the Catholic media outlets that are opposed to Francis and Vatican II exist only to promote their views, not to report, write, edit and publish Catholic news, and the truth as we can best ascertain it.

By David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter

“That Catholic News Service was the first to report on its own demise was both a tribute to the legacy of the 102-year-old outlet’s editorial independence and perverse proof of what a bone-headed decision the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made in opting to gut CNS.

“The May 4 announcement that effectively shutters CNS’ domestic operations eliminates a rare source of credibility for the hierarchy, a critical tool for reliably informing American Catholics about the church beyond their own diocese, and a counterwitness to the proliferation of ideologically driven Catholic media platforms that are driving the church apart, and regular Catholics around the bend — often right out of Catholicism.

“According to the news service, staffers were told that the core operations in Washington and New York were to be shuttered and that only the Vatican bureau would be retained. (CNS also wrote that USCCB Publishing, which holds the rights to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the U.S. Adult Catechism and many other books, will cease its publishing operations at the end of 2022.) How even that isolated remnant in Rome can actually work, or whether it will survive, remains to be seen, as they say in television.”

By David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter — Read more ...

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Pope Francis reorganizes Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating department to handle abuse cases / National Catholic Reporter

The discipline section of the congregation will manage concerns related to the sexual abuse of minors and other ‘grave’ crimes.

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis on Feb. 14 overhauled the current structure of the Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating an independent section to handle disciplinary matters related to the sexual abuse of minors. 

“Under its new structure, the office will operate with autonomous doctrinal and discipline sections that will be coordinated by separate secretaries, both of whom will report to the prefect of the congregation. 

“The new legislation, Fidem servare (‘To preserve the faith’), represents the most significant organizational changes to the office in over 30 years. 

“In announcing the new structure, which comes in advance of a much-anticipated new apostolic constitution that will reorganize the Vatican’s central bureaucracy, the Vatican did not announce any personnel changes at the congregation. 

“The office’s current prefect, Cardinal Luis Ladaria, is 77 years-old and has passed the Vatican’s traditional retirement age of 75. Last month, Francis reassigned the doctrinal office’s secretary, its number two official, to lead Italy’s Reggio Emilia-Guastalla Diocese, indicating the pope could soon remake the top leadership of the office in the near future.

By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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The sex abuse scandal is not over. The hierarchical culture still needs transformation. / National Catholic Reporter

What cannot be overstated at this point in the nearly 40-year public history of the scandal is the force that the hierarchical culture — that privileged, secretive, unaccountable, male-only construct — can apply against any movement toward radical truth-telling.

Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

“A 2004 story in The New York Times bore the headline, all in caps: ABUSE SCANDAL HAS BEEN ENDED, TOP BISHOP SAYS.

“That top bishop was a young Wilton Gregory who, two years earlier and as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had herded the rest of the U.S. hierarchy through the first phase of accountability for the scandal.

“The headline was based on a Gregory declaration, made following the release of two studies of the scandal. “The terrible history recorded here today is history,” he said.

“That, of course, turned out to be more wish than reality. The finality implied in the statement has yet eluded the bishops, a point made clear by the recent searing assessment by Barbara Thorp, who took on the job of directing the Boston Archdiocese’s response to victims back in 2002, when the ecclesial world there was exploding. She claims that despite the decades of rolling disclosures and revelations that emerged from investigative reporting, grand jury reports, civil cases, the courage of countless victims and grudging reforms resulting in greater transparency, there is still much we don’t know.”

By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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20 years after Boston Globe’s ‘Spotlight,’ we need a national database of accused clergy / National Catholic Reporter

As the shame and anger moved from the offending cleric to the systemic cover-up by bishops, we now must face the grim reality that the most profound shame is the ongoing, real-time failure to act in a decisive manner to address the ‘abandonment of the little ones.’

By Barbara Thorp, National Catholic Reporter

“In the United States, the terrible truth that Catholic clergy have sexually violated children has been known publicly now for at least 36 years. For this truth-telling, we are indebted to journalists such as Jason Berry. In stark and unsparing detail he documented in May 1985, writing for the Times of Acadiana (and NCR), the predations of admitted serial pedophile Fr. Gilbert Gauthe in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana.

“Over the decades others followed Berry’s groundbreaking truth-telling, often against and despite enormous pressure to remain silent. Led by many courageous survivors and their families, of notable mention are the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), Bishop Accountability, the Boston Phoenix, The Boston Globe, The New York Times and several state attorneys general.

“In January 2019, ProPublica published an interactive national directory of credibly accused clergy drawing on the published disclosures of dioceses and religious orders.

“The important efforts of these entities and people notwithstanding, they are all limited by the reality that they only know what they know. They don’t know what they don’t know. The full width and breadth of the story is yet to be told and is held by the archdioceses, dioceses, eparchies and religious orders.

By Barbara Thorp, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Synod phase for local listening gets an uneven start in U.S. dioceses / National Catholic Reporter

The synod on synodality, as it is referred to in church circles, is an ambitious endeavor that some observers have described as the ‘biggest consultation exercise in human history.’

National Catholic Reporter

“Kevin Beck said the only thing he has seen thus far from his diocese in Colorado Springs, Colorado, about the 2021-23 Synod of Bishops on synodality is an article in the diocesan newspaper that reported the bishop was reviewing the consultation process.

“‘That was in October, and we haven’t heard anything since,’ said Beck, who is organizing his own online listening session for a group of lay Catholics in the diocese to offer their input and have their voices heard.

“‘We’ve drafted a set of questions that we’re going to send out to people who said they want to participate so they can have time to think about what they want to say,’ said Beck, who told NCR that he wished his diocese was ‘more excited’ about the synod.

“‘Maybe some bishops or priests are afraid of what might come out of it, or they just might not know how to organize something,’ he said. ‘I mean it’s an awfully big operation when you think about what the synod is asking parishes to do.’

“The synod on synodality, as it is referred to in church circles, is an ambitious endeavor that some observers have described as the ‘biggest consultation exercise in human history.'”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Synod on Synodality, links to coverage of Synod by National Catholic Reporter that includes a link to a continually updated map of dioceses with Synod consultation plans

Also see Voice of the Faithful’s “Listening to the Faithful: Preparing for the Synod’ webpage — Listening to the Faithful: Preparing for the Synod 2021-2023 | VOICE OF THE FAITHFUL (votf.org)

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