Posts Tagged priests
“The event will focus primarily on the common priesthood shared by all the baptized and the roles of individual ministries within that, such as the ordained priesthood, consecrated religious life, and the laity.”Cruxnow.com
“A top Vatican official in charge of organizing a major symposium on the priesthood next year has said the discussion will touch on several controversial hot-button issues such as priestly celibacy, the women’s diaconate, clericalism, and the clerical sexual abuse crisis.
“Speaking to journalists during the April 12 presentation of the event, Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet said, ‘the question of celibacy is important.’
“‘We have all spoken about it, and it will be discussed, but it will not be the central theme of the symposium,’ he said. ‘It is not a symposium on celibacy, like it needs to be taken up deeply. It’s a broader perspective.’
“Head of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops, which is helping to organize the symposium, Ouellet when asked whether other hot-button issues such as the priestly ordination of viri probati, or “tested” married men, and the women’s diaconate would be addressed, said yes.”
By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com — Read more …
“The government-mandated Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom revealed that along with systemic sexual abuse, the church rushed more quickly to save its image than it did to respond to the plight of survivors. According to the report, over a half-century, the Catholic Church in England and Wales had received complaints alleging more than 3,000 instances of child sexual abuse against 936 people associated with the church, among them priests, vowed religious and volunteers.” (America: The Jesuit Review)
“On the night before her confirmation, Sue Cox was sexually abused by a Catholic priest at a convent where she was attending summer school to improve her catechism. She was 10. When she was 13, the same priest again raped her in the bedroom of her own home.
“My mother caught him and told me to pray for him and to offer it up,” Ms. Cox, who is from Warwickshire, England, told America. Listening to the advice her adoptive mother gave after she walked in on the priest, “I felt sacrificial,” she said.
“‘We were told that he could do no wrong,’ and that he had ‘sacred hands,’ said Ms. Cox, an award-winning addiction specialist and acupuncturist. ‘Worse than that, we were told that priests were next to God—that they were ontologically changed at ordination.’
“Ms. Cox, who is 73 years old and today describes herself as an atheist, said that this was the belief that her ‘fiercely superstitious Catholic family’ ingrained in her as a young child. ‘Well,’ she added. ‘I can tell you that a child is ontologically changed when she is abused at that age.'”
By Ricardo da Silva, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …
“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.
“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.
In his letter, which took the form of a 94-page booklet and has the power of church teaching, Francis notably made no mention of ordaining married men in good standing or elevating to the priesthood married deacons, a lower clerical rank that does not require celibacy. The silence amounted to a pocket veto of the proposal. (The New York Times)
Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas, a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions.
“Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church.
“It disappointed supporters of Francis who had hoped for more revolutionary change. Coming seven years into his papacy, it also raised the question of whether Francis’ promotion of discussing once-taboo issues is resulting in a pontificate that is largely talk.
“His closest advisers have already acknowledged that the pope’s impact has waned on the global stage, especially on core issues like immigration and the environment. His legacy, they have said, will be inside the church, where his authority is absolute.”
By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Pololedo, The New York Times — Read more …
As of January 20, they (Pro Publica) note, there have been at least 178 lists produced by U.S. dioceses and religious orders. 41 dioceses and dozens more religious orders, they write, have not yet done so. (Cruxnow.com)
A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week, marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts.
“The database, which was activated on Monday, was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, “a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.” The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.
“Since then, numerous dioceses have rushed to publish their own list of accused priests.
“‘Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests,’ write the researchers behind the ProPublica effort.”
By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com — Read more …
Panel to call for more lay control in the Australian Church
“A six-person committee charged with reviewing church governance and management is expected to present Australia’s bishops with a plan to overhaul the management of the church in the country. The plan would cede control over financial, human resources and governance functions to professional laity(link is external), Jack de Groot, a member of the review committee, told Catholic News Service. The committee, established by the Australian Catholics Bishops’ Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2018, expects to present the plan by late March.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com
In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests
“Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move(link is external) that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.”By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
- Benedict is defending celibacy from the media, not from Francis(link is external), By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com
- Retired Pope Benedict warns Francis against relaxing priestly celibacy rules(link is external), By BBC News
- Vatican tamps down clamor over Benedict’s news celibacy book(link is external), By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
- Retired pope wants his name removed as co-author of book on celibacy(link is external), By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot
A bill in the Utah State Legislature removes ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to child abuse
“A bill made public ahead of the 2020 legislative session would remove the ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to reporting abuse cases(link is external).House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would demand that a priest, a bishop or any other clergy who receives a disclosure of abuse turn around and report that to law enforcement to investigate. If that clergy member doesn’t, they could face a misdemeanor charge. It also allows for the possibility of civil litigation by a victim, she told FOX 13.” By FOX-TV13 News
- A Utah bill would require clergy to report child abuse confessed to them(link is external), By Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune
Catholic Church shields $2 billion in assets to limit abuse payouts
“For most of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in the U.S. minimized the damage wrought by pedophile priests by covering up the abuse(link is external). When the bishop of the Davenport, Iowa, diocese was told in the mid-1950s that one of his priests was sexually abusing boys at a local YMCA, he kept it secret. “It is consoling to know that no general notoriety has arisen, and I pray none may result,” he wrote to a priest, capturing the strategy of the era.” By BloombergQuintBy Josh Saul, BloombergQuint.com (Bloomberg Businessweek)
Archbishop Scicluna hils abolition of pontifical secret in clerical sex crimes
“Malta’s archbishop Charles Scicluna has hailed the abolition of the pontifical secret in cases of sexual violence and clerical abuse of minors(link is external), as an important step in working for justice for victims.Scicluna, whom Pope Francis appointed as the Holy See’s prosecutor on clerical sex abuse cases, said the abolition will mean certain jurisdictions cannot be excused from not collaborating with authorities on such cases.”By Matthew Vella, MaltaToday.com.mt
Church offers little outreach to minority victims of priests
“The Samples were a black Chicago family, with six children and few resources. The priest helped them with tuition, clothes, bills. He offered the promise of opportunities — a better life.He also abused all the children(link is external).They told no one. They were afraid of not being believed and of losing what little they had, said one son, Terrence Sample. And nobody asked, until a lawyer investigating alleged abuses by the same priest prompted him to break his then 33-year silence.”By Gary Fields, Juliet Linderman and Wong Maye-E, Associated Press, in Minneapolis Star Tribune
Irish cardinal admits inquiries into child rapist priest were only to protect church
“Senior figures in Ireland’s Catholic church set up inquiries into historical sexual abuse solely to protect the church from scandal(link is external), the former leader of Ireland’s Catholics has admitted.
DrSeán Brady, the former primate of All Ireland, told an inquiry into historical abuse on Thursday (Jan. 2) that he and other Catholic clerics were sworn to secrecy about these tribunals so that the ‘good name’ of the church could be protected.”By Henry McDonald, The Guardian
Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting
“A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers(link is external).The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations.” By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press
Thomas Doyle traces the disintegration of clerical/hierarchical culture
“I have thought recently that one way to understand the revived interest in the priest sexual abuse scandal(link is external), post-Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury reportof little more than a year ago, is in the context of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. You know: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance … No doubt the cycles will go on. But in one peculiar and important sense, regarding the hierarchical culture at the heart of the scandal, perhaps we can now say with some certainty that significant portions of the community have arrived at acceptance of the death of the clerical/hierarchical culture.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter
Victims benefit from mandated reporting laws
“The Dec. 30 editorial ‘Vatican Secrets’ brings an opportunity to clarify the meaning and ramifications of a ‘pontifical secret(link is external).’ Pontifical secrecy never pertained to the reporting of an allegation to civil authorities or to whether a victim could speak publicly about his or her experience.The Diocese of Pittsburgh has reported allegations involving current minors to the district attorney for more than 30 years and expanded that in 2002 to include allegations of past child sexual abuse brought forward by survivors who had become adults.” By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board
Pope Francis struggles to escape scandals of 2019
“Pope Francis ended 2019 in embarrassment(link is external) when he angrily slapped the hand of a woman who had pulled on his own while he was greeting pilgrims on New Year’s Eve. He began 2020 with a public apology for losing his patience and setting a ‘bad example.’ It was a fitting coda to a year in which the pope addressed one scandal—the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis—only to become embroiled in another, over the Vatican’s murky finances.” By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, on MSN.com
Pope hints at broader vision of ‘recovery’ from sex abuse scandals
“From the beginning, two things have been true about the clerical sexual abuse scandals(link is external) in the Catholic Church.The first is that the Church failed, and failed miserably, in its duty to protect children and vulnerable adults entrusted to its care. Unearthing those failures, and doing justice for them, is a long-term challenge that’s far from over.The second is that despite those failures, the Catholic Church also carries generations of wisdom about raising children successfully …”By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Why the McCarrick report could be delayed
“The news that Theodore McCarrick recently moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living has fueled speculation that a report from the Vatican’s internal investigation on McCarrick will soon be released.But while the report may be completed in Rome, its release may not be imminent(link is external), and some U.S. bishops may be quietly hoping for further delays.” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency
Bishops narrowly approve USCCB rate hike for 2021
“The bishops of the United States have narrowly approved an increase on the amount dioceses must contribute to the national bishops’ conference. The measure initially failed to pass when put to a vote during their November 2019 meeting and additional votes had to be collected by mail to ensure the measure passed.” By Catholic News Agency
Controversy continues regarding South Sudan archbishop appointment
“Bari ethnic leaders in South Sudan have distanced themselves from critics of the newly-appointed Archbishop of Juba. The archbishop has faced controversy since his December appointment for several reasons(link is external), including that he is not a member of the region’s predominant Bari tribe. ‘Those indigenous clergy and faithful Bari who have rejected the appointment of the new Archbishop for Juba [do] not reflect the position of the entire Bari Community or their association i.e. the Bari Community Association,’ Cornelio BepoLadoKenyi, chairman of the Juba-based association, explained in a Dec. 23 statement.”By Catholic News Agency
Meeting of Church heavy-hitters calls for ‘adjustments’ to priestly formation
“A major gathering of ecclesial heavy hitters focusing on the future of the priesthood concluded with a call for a reimagining of priestly formation(link is external) – one that incorporates the laity and women in the process and better reflects the racial and cultural diversity within the U.S. Church.The two-day symposium at Boston College took place January 2-3 and was organized around “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” a document first published in December 2018, which was the result of a series of seminars sponsored by the college’s Department of Theology and School of Theology and Ministry.”By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
Francis appoints first woman to managerial role at Vatican’s Secretariat of State
“Pope Francis appointed an Italian woman as an undersecretary in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State Jan. 15, in the first such appointment of a woman to a managerial role(link is external) in what is traditionally considered the city-state’s most important office. Francesca Di Giovanni, who has worked for the Secretariat for 27 years, will be one of two undersecretaries in the Section for Relations with States, which is essentially the Vatican’s foreign ministry.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
The church must face its own role in violence against women
“”By how we treat a woman’s body, we can understand our level of humanity,” Francis told the crowd, decrying the ways in which women are ‘continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution and forced to suppress the lives they carry in their wombs.’ This was not the first time that Francis has spoken about violence against women(link is external), but his comments stood out in stark relief against an incident on New Year’s Eve in which he angrily slapped away a woman’s hands after she forcefully pulled him close to her.”By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter
Bishop Scharfenberger suggests bankruptcy is ‘probability’ for Diocese of Buffalo
“It’s been a little more than a month since Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany assumed the additional role of apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo. As he enters his second month as the interim caretaker of the diocese, Scharfenberger is speaking about the work to sort through a painful and extensive clergy sex abuse crisis, admitting that Chapter 11 bankruptcy appears likely(link is external).”By Michael Mroziak, WXXI-AM News, from WBFO-FM
- New Buffalo Diocese leader calls bankruptcy filing a ‘probability(link is external),’ By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News
How parishes can tackle U.S. church’s money crisis
“Of its myriad problems in recent decades—including the serial sexual abuse of children by clergy and the institutional cover-up of these horrific acts—a growing cash crunch is the single biggest threat to the church’s future(link is external).Historically, U.S. Catholics have dutifully contributed to the church, but with newer generations not as likely to attend Mass, there is no guarantee this giving will continue. Meanwhile, many dioceses and parishes employ the same threadbare fundraising playbook.”By Michael White and Tom Corcoran, America: The Jesuit Review
Your thoughts on dismantling clericalism
“Two recent NCR Connectionscolumns by executive editor Tom Roberts highlighted thoughts on the culture of clericalism(link is external) from Thomas Doyle, who said the clergy sexual abuse crisis ‘is evidence of a profound contradiction that reaches to the foundational core of the institutional church,’ and from Jesuit Fr. James Keenan, who proposes an alternative ‘culture of vulnerability as a path to a ‘servant priesthood’ and a ‘servant episcopacy.’ Letters to the editor are edited for length and clarity …”By National Catholic Reporter Staff
FUTURE OF THE CHURCH
New celibacy kerfuffle sparks debate over role of pope emeritus
“When retired Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in 2013, he said that he would be ‘hidden from the world(link is external),’ and that God was calling him ‘to go up the mountain,’ and to dedicate himself to prayer and meditation.However, it became clear on Sunday Jan. 12) that his idea of ‘hidden’ is not quitethe dictionary definition when excerpts of a new book by Benedict and Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, were published in French daily Le Figaro.”By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com
- The myth of the self-regulating institution of ‘pope emeritus(link is external),’ By Massimo Faggioli, National Catholic Reporter
As village churches close, Dutch Catholics leave faith rather than worship elsewhere
“Churches appear to be less indispensable to small communities than they themselves are inclined to think. The Dutch Catholic weekly KatholiekNieuwsbladreached that conclusion after long-term research into the effects of church closure on village communities(link is external).The research of the Dutch Catholic weekly shows, among other things, that the pace at which churches are disappearing from the countryside will only increase in the coming years. It often results in painful closures or mergers, but the local village communities also seem to recover surprisingly quickly.”By Dutch Catholic Weekly “KatholiekNieuwsblad” on Cruxnow.com
Friars, seeing numbers shrink, plan to pull clergy from Raleigh Catholic church
“The pastor of Raleigh’s St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church told parishioners he was surprised by the decision Friday (Jan. 3) of his order to pull Franciscan friars from the parish.In his email to parishioners, Fr. Steve Patti said the order, Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, had been discussing for years a gradual withdrawal from some of their ministries, a response to ‘the aging of friars and declining vocations to religious life(link is external).’” By WRAL.com
The Church’s enduring legacy of abuse
“In Fernando Meirelles’ film ‘The Two Popes,’ former Pope Benedict XVI, played by Anthony Hopkins, confesses his sins to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. It is a crucial scene, in which Benedict aims to convince Bergoglio, played by Jonathan Pryce, of the reasons for his resignation as head of the church. As Bergoglio listens, Benedict mentions Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ(link is external) …” By Leon Krause, Slate
Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy must not be a sanctuary for sin
“Now we know that Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger is more than bankruptcy curious. The leader in charge of Buffalo’s Catholic diocese told a Buffalo News reporter on Monday (Jan. 13) that filing for Chapter 11 protection is probable as the diocese faces an onslaught of lawsuits(link is external) from individuals making claims of clergy sex abuse.As we have noted before, that would be unfortunate. If it happens – and there are defenses for it – the diocese needs to be as forthcoming about the abuses its priests and bishop committed as it would if the matter were left in state court. There can be no more hiding in dark corners.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board
Paying the cost of willful ignorance
“The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has seen better days.In the nearly 20 years since The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team uncovered a concerted effort within the Archdiocese of Boston not only to cover up the reprehensible behavior of pedophile priests(link is external), but also the ensuing coordinated effort to move these men from parish to parish with no warning to the people who they ostensibly served, it has seemed that every passing year has brought with it a fresh set of new revelations about similarly horrific cases from virtually every corner of the country.”By Cape Cod Times Editorial Board
Cardinal Cupich: How can we end clerical sex abuse and purify the Church?
“One day, a man in his mid-50s came to my office and shared the painful story of being sexually abused by his pastor(link is external). He started serving Mass when he was 9 years old, and the pastor always asked him to stay afterward to tidy up the sacristy. One day the priest took him to the basement and sexually abused him. He did this every Sunday over four years. After abusing him, the priest would walk the boy home and have dinner with the boy’s family Adding another demonic layer of pain to the sexual abuse itself, each Saturday the priest would drive the boy to another town and force him to confess his supposed sins to another priest …”By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago
Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children. In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said ‘even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all.’ We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names(link is external), since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds.” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board
Church doesn’t seem serious about abuse
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church(link is external) in reaction to a worldwide scandal, The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe?”By Fairmount Sentinel Editorial Board
Diocese faces new decade to right itself
“Debate will continue about whether the decade of the 2020s really began on Jan. 1 of this year or whether that actually will occur on Jan. 1, 2021. Either way, the period of time has been traumatic for the Roman Catholic Church here, across Pennsylvania, across the nation and, indeed, around the world.The reason is the ongoing horrific, unconscionable child-sexual-abuse scandal(link is external).That scandal of mind-shattering proportion — one that has challenged even the most devout Catholics’ beliefs, attitudes and trust — is destined to span the decade of the 2020s and perhaps beyond.” By Altoona Mirror Editorial Board
Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children(link is external). In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said “even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all. We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names, since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds …” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board
Protect children, ensure accountability, lift statutory limits
“Removing statutory limits on the age at which adult survivors of child sexual abuse may sue for damages is simply justice, given what we now know about the lasting effects of psychological trauma. It also will signal that complicity in shielding perpetrators from accountability is over, and that Connecticut will put the protection of children before the interests of institutions. The state’s legislative task force on the statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sexual assault is nearing the deadline for its assignment.’”By The Day Editorial Board
Transparency still lacking in Catholic Church
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church in reaction to a worldwide scandal(link is external), The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe.AP investigators examined lists released by Catholic dioceses across the country, of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse. ‘An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from the lists,’ the news agency reported.”By The Weirton Daily Times Editorial Board
STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS
Bill would give sexual assault survivors one-year ‘look back window’ to file cases
“Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would give survivors of childhood sexual assault a ‘look back window(link is external)’ to address previously unreported claims. It would allow them one year to open cases with an expired statute of limitations. This follows a recent wave of states passing look back laws. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have created similar opportunities for abuse victims to have their voices heard.” By Stephanie Colombini, WLRN-FM National Public Radio
Ending limits for child sex abuse lawsuits gets support from Missouri lawmakers
“For two decades, Bryan Bacon kept the memories of his abuse locked away … Bacon told his story to the House Children and Families Committee in a hearing Tuesday (Jan. 14). He was there to support a proposal that would remove the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in cases of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Currently, the law gives survivors of abuse 10 years to file civil claims.” By Tynan Stewart, St Louis Post-Dispatch
Mexico bishops urge no statute of limitations on sex abuse
“The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico called on the country’s government Tuesday Jan. 14) to modify the legal code and do away with statutes of limitations for sexual abuse of minors(link is external). ‘We want to ask in the name of the bishops of Mexico for there to be no expiration for this crime,’ said Rogelio Cabrera, president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference. He called it ‘unjust’ that nothing can be done about such cases starting 10 years from the date of the offense, ‘since the wrong done lasts for the lifetime of the person who has been a victim.’” By Associated Press
CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“Victim/survivors and others impacted by clergy sexual abuse are invited to a Jan. 23 conference on restorative justice and healing organized by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis(link is external). The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit
‘It’s never, ever been your fault’: Alaska bishop offers apology in wake of report on sexual abuse
“An Alaska bishop offered a series of apologies on Thursday Jan. 16) in the wake of a review that disclosed reports of sexual misconduct by 14 men(link is external) who worked for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, some stretching back more than 50 years. All but one of the accused were priests. The abuse involved children and vulnerable adults. At a press conference at the archdiocese in downtown Anchorage, Bishop Andrew Bellisario said he wanted those abused by clergy members to know: ‘It’s not your fault. It’s never, ever been your fault.’ By Tegan Hanlan, Alaska Public Radio
Ex-priest indicted on charges of sexually abusing two boys in Phoenix diocese
“A former Catholic priest was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury Thursday (Jan. 9) on charges of sexually abusing two boys under age 15(link is external) more than a dozen years ago. John ‘Jack’ Dallas Spaulding faces six counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child between the years of 2003 and 2007.” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic
A sordid life? Priest, now dead, accused of raping 7-year-old girl, fathering another child
“Decades after his death, the Rev. EfrénNeri is accused of leading a sordid secret life, raping a 7-year-old girl and fathering a child(link is external) out of wedlock in the 1950s.At that time of both incidents, he was assigned to Christ the King parish in Rialto, in San Bernardino County, then part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.Outside the diocesan offices Wednesday (Jan. 8) morning, ‘Jane Doe’ accused Neri of raping her in 1958.” By Peter Rowe, Los Angeles Times
Bakersfield church, Fresno Diocese, accused of covering up child sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Fresno and St. Philip the Apostle church in Bakersfield are being sued. They’re accused of covering up sexual misconduct by a pastor for decades(link is external).Fr. Anthony Moreno, who served as priest at St. Philip the Apostle from July 1979 to December 1980, is being accused of molesting multiple children, according to a law suit filed in Fresno court this week.”By Emma Goss, KBAK-TV58 News
Law firm expects to file hundreds of lawsjuits against California Catholic Dioceses in coming weeks
“Standing in a hotel near the Oakland waterfront,James Brogan didn’t quite know where to begin, so he did something most sexual assault survivors don’t do—he gave his name(link is external). ‘It’s wrecked my entire life, every aspect of my life,’ he said, not looking past the lectern behind which he stood. ‘Where do you go?’ Because of a new California law, Brogan and countless other survivors of rapists masquerading as holy men can go to court.”By Raheem F. Hosseini, NewsReview.com
- Priest included on list of accused was exonerated(link is external), By Thousand Oaks Acorn
State continues to investigate child sex abuse
“The Florida Attorney General’s office is not releasing the number of tips it has received since 2018 when then-state attorney general Pam Bondi launched a statewide investigation into all reports of past abuse(link is external) in the Catholic Dioceses, including a website where victims can submit tips about abuse – past and present.” By FOX13 News
St. Paul’s to hold discussion on sexual abuse
“Following decades of headlines about sexual abuse committed by clergy members in the Catholic Church, a Grant County parish is holding a two-week discussion on the issue.According to BBC News, a landmark 2004 church-commissioned report said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations(link is external) in the previous 50 years, with numerous allegations, investigations and convictions of clergy reported since then worldwide. More recently, a grand jury report in Pennsylvaniasubstantiated that nearly 300 priests were involved in the sexual abuse of approximately 1,000 children.”By Victoria Lawson, Chronicle-Tribune
One year later, Fall River diocese’s list of ‘credibly’ accused priests still not done
“Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River wrote a letter to parishioners last January announcing the church had hired a former FBI agent to review allegations of sexual abuse against minors dating back to the 1950s(link is external).The plan,he wrote, was to complete the review by spring of last year, and produce a list of credibly accused clergy members, following what a growing number of dioceses – including Providence – have already done across the country.”By Eli Sherman, WPRI-TV10 News
Priest gets probation for ‘unnatural acts’ on a minor
“A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to two counts of ‘unnatural acts’ with a minor(link is external) for accusations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.James Randall Gillette was sentenced to five years of probation in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Jan. 2, according to court records. More serious charges of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a minor were dismissed, but he still has to register as a sex offender.” By Associated Press on WBZ-TV4 News
- Priest who served in Brighton during 1970s pleads guilty to child sex crimes(link is external), By Danny McDonald, The Boston Globe
- Clergy abuse conviction shows more needs to be done by church(link is external), By Erin Tiernan, Boston Herald
Crookston Diocese priest place on leave for boundary violations
“Bishop Michael Hoeppner says ‘several issues’ concerning Fr. Bryan Kujawa have been brought to his attention, including ‘non-criminal, non-sexual boundary violations(link is external).’ Kujawa works at St. Philip’s Church in Bemidji and St. Charles in Pennington. Hoeppner says Kujawa will remain on leave until a comprehensive assessment is completed and the Diocesan Review Board makes further recommendations.” By KVRR.com
Report says Archdiocese of Omaha is complying with U.S. bishops’ child protection policies
“The Archdiocese of Omaha announced this week that an audit had found the archdiocese to be in compliance(link is external) with U.S. bishops’ policies to prevent sexual abuse of children by clergy and other church personnel.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spelled out the policies in its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter. The charter has called for annual audits of dioceses since the bishops adopted it in 2002.”By Christopher Burbach, Omaha World-Herald
Former student accuses nun of sex abuse at Holy Cross School
“A former student of a Catholic school in New Jersey says she was sexually abused by a nun while she was in first grade(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.Holy Cross School in Rumson, Holy Cross Parish and the Diocese of Trenton were named as defendants.The woman, a Cliffside Park resident, she was abused by Sister Mary Nazareen while she was a teacher at Holy Cross School during the 1960s, according to the lawsuit.”By Tom Davis, Patch.com
New Jersey dioceses extend deadline for victims fund
“New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses have given a six-week extension to childhood victims of sexual assault considering applying for compensation(link is external) from a fund the church set up, the account’s co-administrator said Thursday. Camille Biros, the co-administrator of the fund covering all five dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a phone interview that so far more than $9 million in 76 different cases has been paid out.”By CBS-TV3 News
North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new child victim lawsuits
“The North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new lawsuits filed in recent months(link is external) under the Child Victims Act. Bishop Terry LaValley says this new wave of suits involves instances of alleged abuse by priests that date back decades. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act last February. Among other things it opened a window for victims of past alleged sexual abuse to sue for damages in civil court. So far, the Diocese of Ogdensburg says 20 people have sued under the provision. Asked about the legal and financial situation, spokeswoman Darcy Fargo referred NCPR to the church’s January regional newsletter.” By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio
Child Victims Act sponsor moves to extend ‘lookback window’ for abuse lawsuits
“The state senator who sponsored legislation that allows victims of child sex abuse to sue their alleged predators, no matter when the abuse occurred, has introduced a bill to extend the window for new lawsuits(link is external).The Child Victims Act took effect in August 2019, eliminating statutes of limitations and enabling survivors to sue their alleged abusers during a one-year ‘lookback window’ that expires Aug. 13, 2020. State Sen. Brad Hoylman sponsored the bill, which passed last legislative session after years of advocacy, and has introduced a new piece of legislation that would extend the ‘lookback window’ for one more year.” By David Brand, Queens Daily Eagle
Honeoye Falls priest bounced from church to church in five counties
“A priest in the Rochester Diocese was bounced from church to church in an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse(link is external), says a new lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act.It is the first lawsuit to name Rev. Otto Vogt. It alleges the abuse happened 30 years ago at St. Paul of the Cross Church in Honeoye Falls.John McHugh says he was 10-years-old in 1989 when he was singled out by Vogt. ‘He ingratiated himself into the family, became friends with the family, went to the family home,’ said attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston. He has filed hundreds of suits on behalf of victims of clergy abuse.”By WHAM-TV13 News
Lawsuit filed against diocese, Randolph church
“An unnamed woman has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Randolph(link is external).The four-page court filing was received Dec. 30 in state Supreme Court in Erie County, where the headquarters for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is located. A woman accuses Father Joseph P. Friel of sexually abusing and sexually assaulting her while Friel was serving as priest at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church while the woman was a child taking religious instruction at the church.” By John Whittaker, Jamestown Post-Journal
Lawsuit claims Trautman, former Buffalo Diocese leader and Erie bishop, covered up clergy abuse case
“A new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Thursday (Jan. 2)details the lengths the accuser says Church officials took to cover up clergy abuse(link is external) in the Diocese of Buffalo. It specifically blames Donald Trautman, who served as vicar general and auxiliary bishop in Buffalo before becoming the Bishop of Erie in 1990. ‘In the lawsuit, we state that Bishop Trautman covered this abuse up,’ said Paul Barr, who represents the alleged victim.”By WIVB-TV4 News
Catholic Church identifies those ‘credibly accused’ in WNC
“According to the diocese, Adelbert ‘Del’ Holmes was ‘credibly accused’ of committing child molestation against three minors(link is external) in Murphy in 1976 while he was a clergy member. The Catholic church became aware of the allegations against Holmes in 1988 and he was removed from the ministry in 1991. Holmes was a clergy member at the St. William Catholic Church in Murphy and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Mission in Hayesville. There is no recorded documentation that the Catholic church notified local law enforcement nor the District Attorney’s Office of these allegations when the church was notified in 1988.” By Smoky Mountain News
DA’s office issues statement on Catholic priest abuse
“Following the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte’s list of clergy that have been ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse since the diocese’s creation in 1972, District Attorney Ashley Welch’s office has released a statement noting that two of the members worked in her prosecutorial district, which includes Haywood County, back in the 1970s and 1980.The statement highlights that those who have allegations of abuse by members of the clergy can still come forward(link is external).” By Kyle Perrotti, The Mountaineer
Bismarck Diocese names priests with sexual abuse claims
“The Bismarck Diocese has released a list of priests who have substantiated claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external).The list of 18 diocesan clergy and four extern clergy have all served the Diocese of Bismarck. Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan says each have claims the Diocese has determined to be likely true.The accused clergy include:Earl J. Becwar (died September, 1991), Norman J. Dukart (living) …” By ValleyNewsLive.com
- Fargo and Bismark Catholic dioceses release list of known clergy who sexually abused minors(link is external), By Timothy O’Keeffe, The Legal Examiner
Allentown Diocese has paid out nearly $9 million over clergy sexual abuse
“The Allentown Diocese so far has agreed to pay $8.98 million to 47 victims of sexual abuse by priests(link is external) from its compensation fund since it was opened last spring in response to a landmark grand jury report accusing senior church officials of systematically covering up the sexual abuse of children, the diocese announced Tuesday (Jan. 14) in a press release … Administrators have not informed the committee of a completion date.” By Karen Shuey, TheMercury
Abuse case seeking church records moves forward in Pittsburgh
“Nearly 18 months after a Pennsylvania grand jury report unmasked decades of allegations of clergy sexual abuse in Catholic parishes across the state and church leaders paid $84 million to abuse survivors, fallout from the report continues to mount in the courts(link is external).State lawmakers began the process ofamending the Pennsylvania Constitution to give abuse survivors with old claims a day in court even as thestate Supreme Court weighs a lower court rulingthat could set the stage for such claims even sooner.”By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com
Walnutport priest removed from ministry after taking ‘disturbing’ photos of wrestlers
“A Catholic priest in Walnutport was removed from ministry after he was seen taking ‘disturbing’ photographs of wrestlers(link is external) at a high school tournament last month, the Diocese of Allentown announced Sunday (Dec. 5).The Rev. Thomas A. Derzack, 70, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, took the photos Dec. 27 without the wrestlers’ knowledge during the event at the Bethlehem Catholic High School gym, the diocese said.”By Riley Yares, The Morning Call
Diocese of Knoxville settles sexual abuse lawsuit out of court
“The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has reached an out-of-court settlement with a Blount County man whose lawsuit alleged he was sexually abused as a child by two priests(link is external).The settlement means the July suit bought by attorneys for Michael Boyd of Blount County will not proceed in Knox County Circuit Court.The terms and amount of the financial settlement were not disclosed in a seven-paragraph announcement issued today by the diocese. The diocese and church officials also admit no wrongdoing in the settlement.” By Amy McCrary, Knoxville News Sentinel
Bill requiring clergy to report child abuse confessions opposed by Utah Catholics, House Speaker
“As religious opposition both in and out of Utah mounts against a proposed bill that would require all allegations of child abuse to be reported to authorities — including those stated in religious confessionals(link is external) — a powerful legislative leader has opposed the bill. House Speaker Brad Wilson won’t support the bill in its current form, according to a statement he sent to the national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.” By Katie McKellar, Deseret News
Church settles Snohomish priest’s sex abuse case for $1.7 million
“The Archdiocese of Seattle announced Thursday (Jan. 9) it has reached a $1.7 million settlement involving a Snohomish priest accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1980s.The Rev. Dennis Champagne served at St. Michael parish in Snohomish from 1979 to 1999. He was put on administrative leave in 2002, after the archdiocese received a complaint of sexual abuse.” By Zachariah Bryan, Everett Herald
Cheyenne police interviewing more priests as witnesses in ongoing Catholic clergy investigation
“Cheyenne police detectives are interviewing Catholic priests as potential witnesses in authorities’ nearly two year-long investigation into sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external) here.Cheyenne police spokesman David Inman said Thursday (Jan. 9) that the case is still being investigated by police in the capital, five months after the agency turned the case over to prosecutors. In an email, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Cheyenne said the church ‘hasn’t heard anything about priests being interviewed by the Cheyenne Police Department; therefore, the Diocese of Cheyenne cannot comment.’” By Seth Klaman, Caspar Star Tribune
Brisbane Archdiocese slams laws to compel priests to report child abuse
“Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop has hit out at proposed laws that would compel Queensland priests to report the confessions of child abusers(link is external). The state’s teachers, doctors, nurses, childcare workers and school principals already have to report crimes against children to authorities, but Archbishop Mark Coleridge says the laws would ‘limit and unjustly interfere’ with the human rights of Catholics.” By Lydia Lynch, Brisbane Times
Catholic priest dies before being sentenced for child sexual abuse
“Disgraced former Catholic Priest James Joseph Cunneen, who was found guilty of indecent assault against six teenage boys(link is external) in New South Wales in the late 1980s, has died before he could be sentenced.60-year old MrCunneen was due to be sentenced in Downing Centre District Court on 14 February 2020. He was arrested, charged and prosecuted last year after information given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014.After an extensive investigation, police extradited MrCunneen back to Australia in 2017 where he was charged.”By Sonia Hickey, The Big Smoke
Trial delayed for French priest accused of abusing 75 boys
“A former French priest accused of sexually abusing around 75 Boy Scouts(link is external) went on trial Monday (Jan. 13), but the proceedings were delayed for at least a day because of a strike by lawyers.The case is France’s worst clergy abuse drama to reach court so far, and its repercussions reached all the way to the Vatican. ‘I have heard the suffering of these people, which I’m guilty of causing. I hope that this trial can unfold as quickly as possible,’ Bernard Preynat told the court after the judge announced the trial would be delayed until Tuesday.”By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter
GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES
Inquiry report finds gaps in UK legal system are allowing known offenders to sexually abuse children abroad
“The Inquiry has published its reporton the protection of children outside the UK, focusing on the legal measures designed to prevent British child sex abusers from offending overseas.The report finds that offenders from England and Wales are travelling to commit extensive abuse of children across the world(link is external), including in eastern Asia and Africa.” By Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse on iicsa.org.uk
Mum beaten and abused by nuns sues for £750k
“A mum from Renfrewshire who claims she was beaten and abused at an orphanage(link is external) has launched a £750,000 legal action bid against the Catholic order.Annemarie McGuigan said she was beaten with a stick and locked in cupboards during her five-year stayat the Nazareth House children’s home in Aberdeen.The 59-year-old was ‘force-fed’ her own vomit and is now taking legal action against the Sisters of Nazareth.” By The Herald
‘Having nightmares to the day’: former Barrigada altar boy sues for priest’s sex abuse
“Some 40 years after he said a priest raped and molested him several times(link is external), a former Barrigada altar boy is now suing the entities that he thinks enabled and then covered up the abuses.To this day, he continues to have nightmares of being sexually abused by the priest, the lawsuit says.Father Louis Brouillard allegedly raped and molested him in or about 1977 to 1979, according to the $5 million lawsuit filed in local court Wednesday (Jan. 8).” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News
Legion of Christ accused abuser removed from priesthood
“ The Catholic Church has removed Mexican Fernando Martínez from the priesthood after considering him guilty of various sexual abuse crimes against minors(link is external), the Legion of Christ religious order said Monday Jan. 13).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided that Martínez could not continue his priestly duties, but allowed him to remain as a member of the Legion of Christ and the church, a decision that upset his victims.” By Maria Verza, Associated Press
Vatican acquits ‘healing’ priest of alleged sexual abuse of minors
“Controversial ‘healing priest’ Rev Fr. Fernando Suarez has been cleared by the Vatican from accusations of sexual abuse of minors(link is external).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informed Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Most Rev. Antonio Tobias of the “not guilty” verdict on Suarez in a letter dated December 13, 2019.“I was instructed to notify the Rev. Fr. Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of the Decree of “Not Guilty” of the accusation lodged against him of sexual abuse of minors or delicta contra sextum cum minoribus,” read the decree of notification signed by Tobias.”By CNN Philippines Staff
Vatican hands down ‘not guilty’ verdict on healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez
“The Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith of the Vatican has exonerated a healing priest from Bukidnon, who was accused of sexual abuse(link is external).The Congregation sent a letter to the Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias that has ruled Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of ‘not guilty’ of the accusation against him of committing sexual abuse of minors.In response, Tobias, through the National Tribunal of Appeals of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines informed Suarez and other priests and bishops about the ruling from the Vatican through a decree of notification.”By Samuel P. Medenilla, Business Mirror
In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests / National Catholic Reporter
“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.” (National Catholic Reporter)
Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.
“According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.
“The book is co-written with Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office. It is to be released in France Jan. 15 and carries the title Des profondeurs de nos cœurs (‘From the Depths of Our Hearts’).
“Although the volume is yet to be seen in full, it appears to signify something as yet unexperienced in the two millennia history of the Catholic Church: a retired pope openly weighing in on something currently under consideration by his successor, the reigning pontiff.
“One noted theologian reached shortly after the release of the excerpts called Benedict’s decision to write on the issue a ‘serious breach.'”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.” (Associated Press)
Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found.
“These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centers. They foster and care for children.
“And in their time since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP’s analysis found.
“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.”
By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press — Read more …
Clergy & laypeople collaborate to confront clericalism / Association of U.S. Catholic Priests & Voice of the Faithful
Joint News Release from Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful
For Immediate Release, Aug. 15, 2019
Pope Francis condemns clericalism, repeatedly. Catholic commentators decry it. Theologians and church historians examine its roots. Now, in a significant collaboration, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests and Voice of the Faithful have examined the ways clericalism emerges from the clerical culture, generating complex problems facing the Roman Catholic Church today, and they suggest ways to combat it.
Their document, “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism,” was approved at the AUSCP June 2019 Assembly, where guest speaker Dr. Richard Gaillardetz called it “very informative, even visionary.” Keynote speaker Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, noting the real-life examples reported, said it was “nothing less than a catalogue of horrors chronicling imperial pronouncements, put-downs, claims of privileges, entitlements and exemptions from accountability, but also a culture so pervasive that, sadly, many of the laity have come to accept it as normal and yes, even have cooperated in maintaining it.”
Real-life examples are central to the report and a significant contribution to the study of clericalism today. As the writers note, “We typically encounter clericalism as an experience. Using only scholarly definitions and explanations when discussing clericalism cannot communicate this lived experience of clericalism in the Church. To fully understand clericalism, we also must hear the voices of those who experience abuse of power.”
One experience describes a confrontation between a laywoman and a visiting priest in Boston during a 2003 meeting. “We must fix this [sex abuse] because we are the Church,” the laywoman said. The visiting priest replied, “YOU are not the Church,” and pointing to his Roman collar, declared, “WE are the Church.”
In another example, a new pastor announced that he would personally choose pastoral council members and no one would be allowed to disagree with him. In yet another, a seminarian criticized the pastor for his monthly blessing service because it differed from what the seminary practiced.
If these examples seem to focus blame on the clergy or an insulated hierarchy or any group or faction within the universal church, the document will not allow such a conclusion. Clericalism is not simply a problem of clerics, and the authors cite experiences where lay people enable such behavior.
Clericalism is toxic to all the baptized, they note. When lay people encounter clericalism: “They find another parish; they leave the Church; they never speak up again in meetings with priests; they abdicate all decision-making to the priest; they become audiences rather that participants in the parish’s life and sideline observers within the Church. Or all of the above. They abdicate their baptismal responsibilities.”
Priests may suffer, too, from unrealistic expectations stifling their human development. It is manifested in “overwork, isolation, loneliness, unrelieved stress, the expectation that he and he alone will handle all the parish business and be responsible for all the parish problems.”
The document delves into the culture of the diocesan priesthood and characteristics that help incubate clericalism: the hierarchical and patriarchal structure of the church, its requirements for celibacy, an ordination that is said to confer an ontological change, an education separated from the daily lives of laypeople, distinctive clothing and liturgical dress. Clerics also receive privileges of lifestyle and compensation not available to the people to whom they minister. The final section of the paper describes options for confronting clericalism.
“Our aim,” the AUSCP and VOTF writers say, “has been to raise the consciousness
of readers to the expressions of clericalism and its problems. Clericalism betrays the teachings of the scriptures and ignores the best practices of the first three centuries of Christian faith and life. Both clerics and lay persons can be afflicted with the disease. Both are often unaware that their mode and manner, their self-understanding, and their sense of ministry have wandered far from the example of Jesus … [We]” hope that our words help us all rise to the challenge of today in confronting and ultimately removing as many vestiges as possible of the clericalism that harms us all.”
Cardinal Cupich emphasized a similar conclusion: “Clericalism can only be confronted by reclaiming the authenticity of the conversion we are called to in Baptism.”
The team preparing the report worked with input from clergy and laypeople across the United States, modeling the synodality Pope Francis urges as one way to address clericalism’s damage. Following its completion, the white paper also was endorsed by FutureChurch, another organization that includes both priests and lay people.
Lead writers for “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” were Rev. Kevin Clinton, AUSCP Past Chair of the Leadership Team, retired pastor, Archdiocese of St. Paul–Minneapolis; and Ms. Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, member of Paulist Center Community, Archdiocese of Boston.
Contributors on the Working Group under the auspices of AUSCP were Rev. Gerry Bechard, AUSCP, pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish, Archdiocese of Detroit; Ms. Alvera Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Mr. David Bell, parishioner of St. Paul the Apostle Parish, Diocese of Youngstown; Rev. Bernard R. Bonnot, AUSCP Executive Director, retired pastor in the Diocese of Youngstown; and Rev. Tom Ogg, AUSCP, retired pastor, Diocese of Cheyenne, Worldwide Marriage Encounter―U.S. Ecclesial Priest.
N.B. “Confronting the Systemic Dysfunction of Clericalism” can be read and downloaded at http://www.votf.org/AUSCP-Projects/Systemic%20Dysfunction%20Clericalism.pdf. Strategies for addressing clericalism in local faith communities can be found in “The BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy Reimaging the Church” at http://www.votf.org/content/priest-and-lay-reform-organizations-take-clerical-culture, which is a collaborative effort of AUSCP, FutureChurch and VOTF.
Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
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 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.
Association of U.S. Catholic Priests: 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.
And while powerful clerics have publicly pledged to hold the church accountable for the crimes of its clergy and help survivors heal, some of them arranged meetings, offered blessings or quietly sent checks to this organization that provided support to alleged abusers, The Associated Press has found. Though Catholic leaders deny the church has any official relationship with the group, Opus Bono successfully forged networks reaching all the way to the Vatican. (Associated Press)
Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators.
“They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.
“Again and again, Opus Bono has served as a rapid-response team for the accused.
“When a serial pedophile was sent to jail for abusing dozens of minors, Opus Bono was there for him, with regular visits and commissary cash.
“When a priest admitted sexually assaulting boys under 14, Opus Bono raised funds for his defense.
“When another priest was criminally charged with abusing a teen, Opus Bono later made him a legal adviser.”
By Martha Mendoza, Juliet Linderman and Garance Burke, Associated Press — Read more …