Posts Tagged progressive catholics

More power for Catholic bishops? Not so fast / Huffington Post

Could giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops make things worse for progressive Catholics? 

A lot has been written about Pope Francis’s goal of making the church more democratic, with less control by the Vatican and more power to individual bishops. In an ideal world, not only would the Vatican have less say in choosing bishops, but priests and laity would have a larger role in the selection of their leaders.

“However, unless the institutional church actually reaches that goal, and power truly devolves to the grassroots, giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops might make things worse, not better, at least for progressive Catholics.

“While Pope Francis’s appointments of often have elevated reformers to power, he cannot replace every powerful leader in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

“And the bishops now leading U.S. Catholics skew conservative. Indeed, in 2014, one bishop speaking on background confided that only about a third of American bishops were totally on board with Francis’s agenda, about a quarter were definitely against, and the rest were still figuring out where they stood. Not much appears to have changed in the intervening years.”

By Celia Wexler, Contributor, Huffington Post — Read more …

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Circles make safe spaces for victims / The Boston Globe

There was the man who had been sexually abused as a boy by his priest. The priest who felt shunned within the Catholic Church after he spoke out against such abuse. The husband who had never told his wife about his assault decades earlier. The couple in their 80s who raised seven children in the church but finally, tearfully, decided to leave the pews.

“They’ve all been participants in a healing circle, a pilot program launched in Boston a year ago by the Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), an organization of progressive Catholics formed in 2002 in response to the priest sex abuse scandal. Based on a restorative justice model, the circles allow those who have suffered harm to meet in a small group and tell their stories.

“This month, the organizers seized the occasion of Pope Francis’s US visit to try to win awareness of their project at the highest levels of the church. In a full-page ad in the National Catholic Reporter, VOTF issued an open invitation to the pope to attend a healing circle in New York during his Sept. 24-25 visit. ‘Welcome to the U.S. We invite you to join us in a Healing Circle. Time does not heal all wounds. Some wounds fester, like those the survivors of clergy sexual abuse suffer, and the wounds their families and communities experience. They are broken people, as is their Church,’ the ad read.”

By Bella English, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Underreported Survey Responses for Synod on the Family a Valuable Tool for Vatican / National Catholic Reporter

Last week, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported on survey responses from U.S. dioceses in preparation for October’s first session of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Kurtz’s report was underwhelming at best …

“There is no real dialogue here, no real listening, only the assumption that Catholics will change their minds if bishops talk louder and longer …

“One large national survey that went mostly unnoticed by the media is worth discussing here because it provided an opportunity for Catholics from anywhere in the U.S. to give feedback, not only those in the 72 U.S. dioceses out of 195 that offered online surveys. Conducted in November and December by 15 progressive Catholic organizations, the survey reports on 16,582 respondents from across the United States …”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.

Voice of the Faithful® was among the progressive Catholic organizations supporting this survey.

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New Pope, New Church?

As the smoke clears from the top of the Sistine Chapel, the immense apparatus that is the Roman Catholic Church lurches forward under new leadership. Voice of the Faithful®, as a movement of progressive Catholics, is most interested in where it’s going.

“We hope Pope Francis will listen to the lay men and women in the 21st century,” said Mark Mullaney, VOTF president.

VOTF calls for the demise of clericalism, the attitude that clergy and hierarchy are set apart and above everyone else. Its most grievous manifestation in our time has been the decades-old clergy sexual abuse scandal and cover-up by bishops, chancery officials and the Vatican. It is interesting that Pope Francis reportedly abandoned many of the displays of clericalism when he was archbishop.

But added to the failures stemming from clericalism must be other failings: financial malfeasance that has implicated the Vatican Bank in money laundering, second-class status for women, silencing of legitimate theological expression and indifference to the rights of lay people. It remains to be seen how Pope Francis will act in these cases, if indeed he chooses to address these ills at all.

VOTF also prays that Pope Francis will seek accountability, first to provide justice for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and next with disciplinary action for bishops who have covered up abuse and for chancery officials who reported crimes to their supervisors instead of police.

Accountability also must extend to pastors and bishops who will not tell the faithful where their money goes. Financial malfeasance has been unearthed from parish rectory to Vatican Bank vaults—scandals that could be averted with proper transparency and monitoring.

VOTF calls for married priests. Celibacy, not even required of the Apostles, is another major component of clericalism, contributing to the mindset that clerics deserve special powers and privileges.

VOTF calls for local selection of bishops and has developed—and is practicing—methods that permit every lay person (and cleric) in a diocese to provide direct input into the selection of the next bishop appointed in that diocese.

VOTF and like-minded groups know reforming the Church is a difficult, lonely struggle requiring persistence. The growth of the Church reform movement, however, shows commitment to that struggle. More and more Catholics see the need to lend our voices to the Church that really is all the faithful.

“We persist because we must,” says Donna B. Doucette, VOTF executive director. “If we care about our Church, and we do, we have no choice but to seek improvements. We are always encouraged by our ultimate example, Jesus. He donned no red shoes or gold cloak and carried no jeweled staff. He welcomed all except those who sought profit and power. We are following His path when we raise our voices as lay people within the Roman Catholic Church. After all, Jesus was a layman, not a pope, or bishop or priest—a layman from Galilee.”

Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of concerned Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at

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