Posts Tagged Synod on Synodality

U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church / Cruxnow.com

“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops.

“The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.

“An estimated 700,000 people out of an estimated 66.8 million U.S. Catholics contributed to the feedback that went into creating the synthesis.

“Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, the USCCB’s committee on doctrine chair who oversaw the national process, called the document a ‘significant moment’ for the U.S. church, while cautioning that it’s only the first step in a larger process.”

Click here to read the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.

By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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It’s Not about the Furniture

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz, “Give Us This Day”

The commitment of Pope Francis to church reform is real and profound but widely misunderstood. Understandably, many of us think about church reform in a strictly institutional key. We want to change structures, laws, and policies in the light of basic Gospel values. Pope Francis is not opposed to structural reform; indeed, he has made considerable progress on that front. But for Francis, reform is not simply a matter of rearranging ecclesial furniture; it is about becoming a different kind of church. And the term he most frequently invokes in describing what that different kind of church looks like is “synodality.”

The word “synod” comes from the Greek synodos and means “a shared journey.” Francis imagines a church bound together as a people on a common journey. What marks that journey is a shared commitment to discipleship, a determination to follow Christ where he leads through the impulse of the Spirit. Consequently, synodality entails a spirituality that attunes us to the gentle voice of the Spirit heard in scripture, tradition, and in the lives of those we accompany along the way. This synodal spirituality has two essential features: vulnerable encounter and openness to conversion.

An authentic synodal spirituality impels us toward an authentic encounter with others. We can grasp something of this spirituality by way of the Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber. Buber contended there was no such thing as an autonomous “I.” We are always implicated in relationships. We spend much of our lives in what he referred to as “I-It” relationships, that is, relationships in which we place people and things in categories that predetermine and constrain how we engage them. So, when I go to a restaurant and order a meal, I am inclined to address the person taking my order as nothing more than a “waiter.” This is natural and often unavoidable but, by placing that person in a predetermined box, much of who they really are is filtered out in advance.

Yet Buber also suggests we are capable of entering into an “I-Thou” relationship. In this relationship, I abandon the categories and presuppositions that predispose me to engage you as “a certain kind of person.” I am invited to simply be present to you in all your marvelously mysterious and idiosyncratic depth. I allow your deepest truth to emerge in our interaction. This relationship is inherently vulnerable as we risk hearing insights and perspectives that may differ from and even challenge our own. Having acknowledged our differences and recognized even deep disagreements, the I-Thou relationship requires a faith that admits there might emerge from our encounter something holy, something of God.

This synodal encounter may also call us to conversion. We may have to abandon the impulse to foreclose honest listening prematurely. We may have to confront a deeply engrained instinct to defend the distinctive attitudes and convictions that mark our particular “tribe,” often at the expense of getting at the deep truth of things. We will have to learn to listen, not for a confirmation of our own “rightness,” but for the gentle voice of the Spirit.

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and the author of numerous books, including By What Authority? Most recently, he is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Vatican II.

From the September 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.

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In synod reports, US Catholics call for women’s leadership, LGBTQ welcoming / National Catholic Reporter

Still, the estimated 650,000 synod participants represent a little more than 1% of the roughly 51 million Catholic adults in the United States. The diocesan reports indicate that about two-thirds of those who attended listening sessions were 55 or older, and that most of those participants were women. An overwhelming majority of synodal participants were also white — 94% in the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, for example — and were more likely to be married and attend Mass weekly.

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

“More than a half million U.S. Catholics have participated in synodal listening sessions over the past year as part of Pope Francis’ two-year process of grassroots listening ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome, and responses indicate that many Americans want a more welcoming church that reaches out to the marginalized, especially the LGBTQ community, and that allows women to serve in leadership positions, including ordained ministry.

“A review of more than a dozen synodal ‘synthesis’ reports, posted online by dioceses across the country, also indicates that most Catholics are tired of the polarization in the church; believe that clerics need to do a better job communicating and involving the laity in ecclesial governance; and appreciate the opportunity to be heard, even if they harbor misgivings about what the Synod on Synodality will ultimately accomplish.

“‘I’ve been really touched by the amount of honesty that I’ve seen. Sensitive things are coming up, difficult conversations about difficult topics are coming up,’ said Julie McStravog, a consultant helping to coordinate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ synodal work.

“McStravog told NCR that since fall 2021, more than 650,000 Catholics in the United States participated in synodal listening sessions, either online or in person, or responded to written surveys. In all, she said Catholics had more than 30,000 opportunities to participate in the synod.

“‘I’m delighted to see that every single report I’ve read expresses an appreciation for and a desire to continue the synodal listening, to enter into a sacred space and engage in deep listening and discernment with one another on a regular basis,’ McStravog said.

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Read Voice of the Faithful’s Synod report by clicking here …

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Catholics’ reports on the state of the Church are in. Here’s what they have to say. / Religion News Service

Clericalism is a scourge on the Church, Catholics say, and women are not included in leadership.

Religion News Service

“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead.

“Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church. 

“If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone. In May 2021, six months prior to the synod’s October 2021 opening, the Vatican asked the world’s bishops to name synod coordinators in their dioceses, who were expected to organize a program of public meetings for Catholics, ex-Catholics and non-Catholics alike to talk about the Church.

“Some did. Some did not. Yet, somehow most U.S. dioceses — 95%, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — wrote reports, though relatively few are published. Participating dioceses melded parish reports into diocesan reports, which were combined into regional reports. From the regional reports, as well as reports from some 110 independent Catholic organizations, the USCCB will create a 10-page report, due in Rome by mid-August.”

By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service — Read more … 

To see Voice of the Faithful’s “Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023” webpage, click here …

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Experts debate meaning of ‘synodality’ for Global Church / Cruxnow.com

“Throughout July, some 100,000 people will be able to participate in a free, online seminar about synodality, curated by three theologians from Latin America and including witnesses from all around the world.

“‘Common Discernment and Decision Making in the Church’ is the theme of the first in a series of courses that will be hosted by Boston College’s School of Theology and ministry, sponsored by the bishops’ conferences of Latin America, Europe, and Asia, as well as the Jesuits in Latin America and the organizations of superiors general of male and female religious congregations.

“Six of the conference speakers answered questions related to their chosen topic and provided Crux with a sample of what participants will be learning. The initiative seeks to help Catholics understand the concept of synodality ahead of the Synod of Bishops on Synodality, which was opened by Pope Francis last October and which will conclude in Oct. 2023, when prelates from all over the world meet in Rome.”

By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful presents “Conversations on Synodality with Vatican Commission Experts”

Rafael Luciani & Kristin Colberg

Voice of the Faithful is presenting a webinar, “Conversations on Synodality with Vatican Commission Experts,” on April 20 as one of the events marking its 20th anniversary in 2022. The synod theological commission members featured on the webinar are Rafael Luciani and Kristin Colberg.

The Synod on Synodality, being held in three phases between 2021 and 2023, is called “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.” This Synod is the most significant opportunity ever for the church’s laity to influence the future of the Church and will provide all people of God with a chance to express how they see the Church becoming the synodal, pastoral, evangelical Church it should be.

Rafael Luciani is a Venezuelan theologian and associate professor of theology/professor extraordinarius in the ecclesiastical faculty of the School of Theology and Ministry at Boston College. He also serves as theological advisor to the Latin American Bishops Council and is a member of the Theological Advisory Team of the presidency of the Latin American Confederation of Religious men and women. Among his articles and books is Pope Francis and the Theology of the People.

Kristin Colberg is associate professor of theology at Saint John’s School of Theology and Seminary, covering theology, eccelesiology, and theological anthropology. She also has worked with the Anglican-Roman Catholic International Commission, striving for Christian unity. Her theological work is rooted in her desire to show the church can speak meaningfully in the modern context. Among her publications is her book Vatican I and Vatican II: Councils in the Living Tradition.

Click here to register(link is external) for “Conversations on Synodality with Vatican Commission Experts.”


Click her to register for VOTF’s Synod on Synodality input sessions for April and May.


Voice of the Faithful® 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. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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You can now register for VOTF Synod on Synodality input sessions for April & May

Voice of the Faithful has scheduled additional input sessions for the Synod on Synodality for April & May. The Synod is the most significant opportunity ever for the Church’s laity to influence the future of the Church. Anyone interested may note the following points and then register for one Set of two sessions using the links below:

  • Each Set will include two sessions.
  • Questions in session two follow those of session one in each Set.
  • You need register for only one set of sessions to ensure your input.
  • Sessions are restricted in size to ensure all can effectively share their experiences.
  • Registration for each Set will be closed when Set is full.
  • Please feel free to invite friends, neighbors, adult children, and others.

VOTF’s previous sessions ended with Set 9, so these sessions start with Set 10. Set 10 and Set 11 differ from those VOTF usually offers because they are being held on consecutive days instead of on consecutive weeks. This is to avoid holding the second sessions in each of these Sets during Holy Week.

Please note that the final “Submit” button when registering links to the “Synod Overview” document needed to prepare for the questions asked during the sessions. Registration for each Set will be closed when Set is full.

Set 10: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Wed., Apr. 6, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Thur., Apr. 7, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT

Set 11: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Sat., Apr. 9, 2 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. CDT, Noon MDT, 11 a.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Sun., Apr.10, 2 p.m. EDT, 1 p.m. Central, Noon MDT, 4 p.m. PDT

Set 12: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Tues., Apr. 19, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Tues., Apr. 26, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT

Set 13: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Thurs., Apr. 21, 5 p.m. EDT, 4 p.m. CDT, 3 p.m. MDT, 2 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Thurs., Apr. 28, 5 p.m. EDT, 4 p.m. CDT, 3 p.m. MDT, 2 p.m. PDT

Set 14: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Mon., Apr. 25, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Mon., May 2, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT

Set 15: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Wed., Apr. 27, 11 a.m. EDT, 10 a.m. CDT, 9 a.m. MDT, 8 a.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Wed., May 4, 11 a.m. EDT, 10 a.m. CDT, 9 a.m. MDT, 8 a.m. PDT

Set 16: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Sun., May 1, 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. MDT, 1 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Sun., May 8, 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. MDT, 1 p.m. PDT

Set 17: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Tues., May 10, 6 p.m. EDT, 5 p.m. CDT, 4 p.m. MDT, 3 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Tues., May 17, 6 p.m. EDT, 5 p.m. CDT, 4 p.m. MDT, 3 p.m. PDT

Set 18: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Thurs., May 12, 11 a. EDT, 10 a.m. CDT, 9 a.m. MDT, 8 a.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Thurs., May 19, 11 a. EDT, 10 a.m. CDT, 9 a.m. MDT, 8 a.m. PDT

Set 19: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Fri., May 13, 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. MDT, 1 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Fri., May 20, 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. MDT, 1 p.m. PDT

Set 20: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Sat., May 14, 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. MDT, 1 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Sat., May 21, 4 p.m. EDT, 3 p.m. CDT, 2 p.m. MDT, 1 p.m. PDT

Set 21: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Mon., May 16, Noon EDT, 11 a.m. CDT, 10 a.m. MDT, 9 a.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Mon., May 23, Noon EDT, 11 a.m. CDT, 10 a.m. MDT, 9 a.m. PDT

Set 22: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Wed., May 18, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Wed., May 25, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT

Set 23: Click here to register(link is external)

  • Session 1 — Tues, May 24, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT
  • Session 2 — Tues., May 31, 7:30 p.m. EDT, 6:30 p.m. CDT, 5:30 p.m. MDT, 4:30 p.m. PDT

The Synod is for Mutual Discernment

This is your opportunity to express your hopes, dreams, desires, and, yes, even your concerns for the future of the Catholic Church. We will listen intently to the Holy Spirit and engage in mutual discernment to seek a path forward for our Church. The Synod on Synodality, officially called “For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission,” will provide all people of God with a chance to express how they see the Church becoming the synodal, pastoral, evangelical Church it should be.

VOTF emphasizes that all voices are to be heard for the Synod, even the voices of those who feel uncomfortable talking in a group about their experiences and hopes for the future of the Church. Anyone who would like additional information may email office@votf.org(link sends e-mail).

Click here to go to VOTF’s Synod 2021-2023 resources webpage …

Click here for Zoom instructions …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 1, 2022

TOP STORIES

In Italy, a call for a national investigation into clerical sexual abuse
“Catholic groups and abuse survivors on Tuesday (Feb. 15) called on the Roman Catholic Church in Italy, which has yet to reckon with the scourge of sexual abuse by priests, to create an independent commission to investigate how the crisis has been handled(link is external). In a number of countries — including Australia, France, Ireland and the United States — the church has allowed some scrutiny of its actions. But so far, the church in Italy has resisted calls for an independent inquiry, even after Pope Francis in 2019 held a landmark meeting on clerical sexual abuse and called ‘for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors.’” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Spanish bishops announce national investigation of clerical sexual abuse
“Caving to pressure from abuse survivors, politicians and the media, the Spanish bishops announced on Tuesday (Feb. 22) that they will conduct a full, nation-wide investigation of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). Cardinal Juan José Omella, president of the Spanish bishops’ conference, and lawyer Javier Cremades announced a twelve-month investigation with the necessary historical ‘breadth’ which will include both dioceses and religious congregations.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis reorganizes Vatican’s doctrinal office, creating department to handle abuse cases
“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(link is external). 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.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Why is an abuser still working as a priest?
“The BBC has uncovered how a culture of complicity and denial conceals the true scale of clerical sex abuse in Italy. One shocking case that we delved into exposes how abusers in the Church can escape justice(link is external). This account contains descriptions which readers may find upsetting. – We’ll call him ‘Mario.’ He pulls back slightly as we shake hands, still clearly uncomfortable with physical contact. And at my first question – ‘How are you?’ – which I hoped would ease him gently into conversation, he immediately breaks down. ‘This interview is taking me back to it all,’ he stutters, barely able to get the words out through his tears. Mario has never spoken before to a journalist about what he calls his ‘sexual slavery’ at the hands of his childhood priest.” By Mark Lowen, BBC News, Rome

U.S. bishops defend planned $28 million Eucharistic congress amid criticism
“To organize a National Eucharistic Congress in 2024, the Catholic bishops in the United States have partnered with an event planner who was accused of charging exorbitant rates during the preparations for Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration in January 2017. The bishops are also relying on conservative Catholic organizations to provide funding and create catechetical and promotional materials for a multiyear National Eucharistic Revival that will lead up to the four-day congress in July 2024(link is external). The bishops intend to set up a nonprofit organization to handle logistics and raise $28 million over the next two years to hold the event in downtown Indianapolis.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Argentine bishop rejects sex abuse claims as trial begins
“The trial of a Roman Catholic bishop accused of sexually abusing young men in northern Argentina began Monday (Feb. 21)(link is external) with the cleric denying the claims, in the latest court case to highlight sex crimes that have roiled the global church in recent decades. Pope Francis, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires and the first Latin American pontiff, has repeatedly apologized for past crimes by priests and pledged to end cover-ups while ensuring that priestly sexual abuse be ‘erased from the face of the earth.’” By Augustin Geist, Reuters

Pope Benedict’s lack of apology for abuse cases ‘appalling,’ say German survivors
“German survivors of clergy sexual abuse are sharply criticizing retired Pope Benedict XVI’s response to a report that faulted his handling of four abuse cases in the 1970s and ’80s, calling his lack of a direct apology an abdication of personal responsibility. ‘The one thing everybody expects from him is to say, ‘I made a mistake. I’m sorry. I should have acted differently back then. And I’m sorry,’ said survivor Doris Reisinger. Reisinger, a German theologian who left religious life after alleging abuse by a priest in her community, said that Benedict’s two-page Feb. 8 letter responding to accusations that he mishandled four cases of abuse during his time as Archbishop of Munich and Freising, was an ‘embarrassment(link is external).’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synodality needs to begin at the local level
“The key elements of synodality – communion, participation and mission – must first be inculcated in our local communities if they are to shape the wider Church, writes Deacon Justin Stanwix …But can we have a synodal Church if we don’t start the process of growing the synodal parish?(link is external) There is no rush to perfect the model instantly because we are on a journey together. But this journey needs many travellers and a commitment to go the distance.” By CathNews.com

Priest: Listening sessions offer faithful chance ‘to participate, be heard’
“The Philadelphia Archdiocese plans to offer to as many of the faithful as possible ‘multiple opportunities to participate and be heard’ in listening sessions in preparations for the 2023 world Synod of Bishops on synodality(link is external), said Msgr. Brian Hennessy. The priest, who is pastor of St. Alphonsus Parish in Maple Glen, Pennsylvania, is the coordinator for the archdiocesan phase of the synod. He issued a letter about plans for in-person and virtual gatherings in parishes and among various groups across the archdiocese. The listening sessions will be led by trained facilitators from the local communities. Results of the sessions will be compiled into a report in June.” By Gina Christian, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

Lay Catholics fill the enthusiasm gap on Francis’ Synod on Synodality
“When Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, Robert Choiniere, a lay minister, said, ‘This is the thing I’ve been waiting for.’ If the phrase ‘Synod on Synodality’ fails to strike similar reverberations in your soul, you’re not alone. The synod has seemingly failed to grab the attention of American Catholics, for reasons both worldly and ecclesiastical(link is external). First, Francis announced the synod on March 7, 2020 — four days before the World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic. A global lockdown soon put every other reality on pause.” By Renée Roden, Religion News Service

The Global Synod at Catholic University
“The Catholic University of America is fully engaging in the global synod process(link is external) called for by Pope Francis, beginning with a public conversation on Feb. 28 between the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Christophe Pierre and University President John Garvey, followed by campus-wide listening sessions to be held this semester … The Vatican has called for Catholic universities and faculties of theology to contribute to the universal Church’s discussion of synodality. Catholic University is one of the only universities in the country to respond with a plan that includes both internal discussion and external events, including events with bishops.” By The Catholic University of America

A tale of two synods: What will the German and Roman synodal gatherings accomplish?
“There are two synodal gatherings going on now in the Catholic Church — the ‘Synodal Way’ of the German church and the ‘synod on synodality’ of the bishops of the Catholic Church — which will undoubtedly have serious repercussions on the life of the church(link is external). A number of factors influenced the German Synodal Way: the devastating consequences of the sex abuse scandal by priests, the cover-up by many bishops and the appallingly low level of less than 6% of German Catholics participating in the Sunday eucharistic liturgies. The Synodal Way of the German church involves a synodal assembly with meetings beginning in 2020 and scheduled to end in 2023.” By Charles Curran, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope exempts Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter from Latin Mass restrictions
“Despite his efforts last year to crack down on use of the Traditional Latin Mass, Pope Francis this month issued a decree exempting members of a priestly society(link is external) with a special attachment to the traditional liturgy from adhering to the restrictions. Headquartered in Switzerland, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP) is a Society of Apostolic Life of pontifical right that was founded in 1988 by 12 priests who were formerly members of the Society of St. Pius X, after its founder, Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, was excommunicated for consecrating four bishops without the proper papal mandate.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Pope amends canons to give greater authority to bishops, conferences
“Saying he wanted to promote a ‘healthy decentralization’ of some aspects of church life, Pope Francis made several changes to church law, granting greater authority to individual bishops, bishops’ conferences and synods of bishops(link is external) of the Eastern Catholic churches. The changes, the pope said, should ‘foster a sense of collegiality and the pastoral responsibility’ of bishops and religious superiors who are closest to the matters being decided and therefore have a better understanding of what is appropriate.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Vatican ponders priesthood amid abuse research, revelations
“The Vatican this week (Feb. 17) is hosting a three-day symposium on the Catholic priesthood amid renewed public attention on clergy sex abuse scandals and fresh research into the abuses of priestly power(link is external) that harm both children and adults. Pope Francis opens the symposium Thursday, and no fewer than a half-dozen Vatican cardinals are scheduled to either address the conference or preside over its sessions. The high-level lineup suggests the topic has particular relevance as the Catholic hierarchy grapples with dwindling numbers of priests in Europe and the Americas and calls for a reform of everything from celibacy requirements to the role of women in the church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis: Priests need to have these four traits in the world today
“Addressing a symposium on the priesthood in the Vatican on Feb. 17, Pope Francis offered reflections that, he said, could be considered ‘the swan song’ of his priestly life, since they are the fruit of ‘what the Lord has gradually helped me to realize’ during more than 50 years in the ministry. Francis was ordained a priest for the Society of Jesus on Dec. 13, 1969. In a profoundly spiritual talk today, he presented what he called the ‘four pillars’ or ‘four forms of closeness’ that he considers fundamental to the life of a priest(link is external) ‘since they imitate God’s own style of God, which is essentially a style of closeness.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican reports more Catholics, with varying access to priests globally
“The number of Catholics and of Catholic men and women who devote their lives to serving them continues to grow in Africa and Asia, Vatican statistics show, but pastoral ministry is still much more readily available to Catholics in Europe(link is external) … And while just over 20 percent of the world’s Catholics live in Europe, 40 percent of the world’s priests minister there. The Americas have 48 percent of the world’s Catholics, but only 29.3 percent of the world’s priests.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in The Arlington Catholic Herald

WOMEN’S VOICES

Women speakers emphasize need for ‘reciprocity’ in church’s ministry
“Promoting better collaboration between women and men in the Catholic Church is not primarily about equality but about allowing the church to fulfill the mission given to it by God(link is external), said women speakers at a Vatican conference on priesthood. ‘The church needs women and must call them to serve’ for the good of all people, said Michelina Tenace, a professor of dogmatic theology at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and consultant for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. ‘If the church does not make this call, a ministry risks being seen as a right. But serving is not a right, it is a duty,’ she said Feb. 18 in a panel on ‘Women and ministry — the state of investigation.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

CHURCH REFORM

Benedict XVI and the German church he served seek forgiveness in very different ways
“The Church hierarchy has been signaling a new openness to change, but a plea from the Pope emeritus, following the release of a report on abuse, follows an old path(link is external). — In Germany, lately, powerful bishops have been speaking of prospects for change in Catholic life with a frankness not seen from the Church hierarchy anywhere else in a long time … The issues they raise are so complex and controversial that a serious effort to address them could break the Church apart.” By Paul Elie, The New Yorker

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

What happens next with tests approved by Germany’s Synodal Assembly?
“In early February, the plenary assembly of the Synodal Path met in Frankfurt and approved a number of far-reaching reform proposals for the Catholic Church in Germany. Now people in the church are debating what comes next regarding the approved resolutions and how to carry them out.(link is external) The plenary approved three texts in a second reading; two-thirds of nearly 230 delegates, including bishops, approved the texts; in a separate vote of just bishops, the texts still garnered two-thirds of the votes.” By Ludwig Ring-Eifel, Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Pope’s use of authority becomes new front in Vatican ‘trial of the century’
“As the dust began to settle last year on the Vatican’s troubled $400 million dollar land deal in London, and as the colossal dimensions of the failure it represents became clear, Pope Francis was determined to put someone on trial, including his former chief of staff(link is external), Italian Cardinal Becciu, along with nine other defendants. Yet, under the heading of ‘be careful what you wish for,’ Francis could find that the primary person on trial ends up being not Becciu and the rest, but himself.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Report shows more dioceses establish foundations to fund work of church
“Despite fundraising challenges nationwide caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Catholic foundations continue to grow their role in helping the U.S. church with its fundraising needs(link is external), according to a recent study. ‘Catholic Foundations in the U.S. Revisited,’ released in late 2021, is the work of Walter Dillingham, a Catholic who serves as director of endowments and foundations at the Wilmington Trust, a New York City-based firm that specializes in helping nonprofits manage their finances. This is Dillingham’s third look at the role of Catholic foundations nationwide, and this report highlights not only the role foundations play, but also which fundraising tools they find most effective and how they provide information about their work to current and prospective donors.” By Christina Knauss, Catholic News Service

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Celibacy no ‘divine law’ for priests, but promotes holiness, speakers say
“The requirement that most priests in the Latin rite of the Catholic Church be celibate has theological and spiritual foundations and not only practical motivations, said speakers at an international conference on priesthood. Jesus’ chastity, poverty and obedience were not ‘incidental or simply functional,’ but expressed his total union with God and dedication to the salvation of humanity, Jesuit Father Gianfranco Ghirlanda, a well-known canon lawyer, said Feb. 19 at the Vatican conference. The church has never claimed that celibacy is ‘intrinsic’ to the priesthood(link is external), he said, and, in fact, the Eastern Catholic churches have maintained the discipline of having both celibate and married clergy, and the Latin church has welcomed married priests coming from other denominations.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Mulakkal verdict signals a need for structural and systemic change
“The verdict acquitting Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the much-awaited case of the sexual abuse of a religious sister has been disappointing to many of us, and has made us suspicious. I write this for many reasons; first, because I have journeyed with this case from a distance; and because I feel the need for speaking up in defense of our sisters, and sounding a wake-up call for us as women religious … For too long we women in the church have accepted dominance and hierarchy and never questioned this because of the socialization processes we have gone(link is external) through. Right from our childhood and into our teens we have been taught to accept everything without questioning. Because “they” know and you don’t; this is internalized and every institution in our society has reinforced this belief.” By Dorothy Fernandes, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

A Catholic nun is going to prison for fraud. Why are abusive priests going unpunished
“Recently Sister Mary Margaret Kreuper, a Catholic nun who stole $835,000 from a Catholic elementary school in Torrance, California, was sent to prison for a year and ordered to pay the money back to the school, where she was the principal for over 28 years. The school funds were used to support the nun’s gambling addiction, including trips to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe. ‘I have sinned, I’ve broken the law and I have no excuses,’ Kreuper admitted during her sentencing. Her sentence is ironic and her contrition admirable compared with the behavior of Catholic priests and their history of abuses within the church(link is external).” Commentary on Religion News Service by Robert D. Karpinski

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

25 years later, Legion of Christ victims seek reparations
“A Connecticut newspaper exposed one of the Catholic Church’s biggest sexual abuse scandals by reporting 25 years ago Wednesday (Feb. 23) that eight men had accused the revered founder of the Legion of Christ religious order of raping and molesting them when they were boys preparing for the priesthood. It took a decade for the Vatican to sanction the founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, and another decade for the Legion to admit he was a serial pedophile who had violated at least 60 boys. In the meantime, the original whistleblowers suffered a defamation campaign by the Legion, which branded them liars bent on creating a conspiracy to hurt a man considered a living saint.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FLORIDA

Homestead priest sentenced to nearly eight years in prison for raping parishioner in rectory
“Father Jean Claude Philippe, convicted of raping a parishioner in the rectory of his church(link is external) in Homestead, did not apologize when it came time for his sentencing. Instead, he complained about his time in jail and said he was preaching the word of God to inmates behind bars. ‘The devil is powerful but won’t change me,’ he said. ‘I won’t change my ways. I will continue in my path.’ That path, a judge ruled on Thursday (Fen. 17), will nevertheless continue in state prison for nearly eight years.” By David Ovalle, Miami Herald

MISSOURI

Lawsuit accuses De Soto priest of sexually abusing boy
“The priest at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in De Soto has been accused in a lawsuit of abusing a child two decades ago at a St. Louis boys’ home(link is external). Christin Hornbeck says in the lawsuit that the Rev. Alexander Anderson fondled him in the late 1990s or early 2000s at St. Joseph’s Home for Boys, 4753 S. Grand Ave., in south St. Louis. The lawsuit was filed Feb. 10 in the St. Louis Circuit Court. Hornbeck, who now lives in Georgia, was between the ages of 11 and 13 at the time of the alleged abuse, said his lawyer, Rebecca M. Randles of the Randles Mata law firm in Kansas City.” By Tony Krausz, Leader Publications

NEW MEXICO

Legacy Christian Academy principal charged with sexually abusing a child in Alamogordo
“Trevor Lavalais, principal and director of Legacy Christian Academy, a private school in Alamogordo, was arrested on Feb. 11 on six counts relating to sexual assault involving a child(link is external). Lavalais, 33 of Alamogordo, was charged with one count of criminal sexual penetration of a minor, three counts of criminal sexual contact of a minor and two counts of contributing to the delinquency of a minor, per court records.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

Archdiocese of Santa Fe insurance records can be filed publicly
“A potential showdown over whether insurance documents related to coverage of clergy sex abuse claims filed against the Archdiocese of Santa Fe should be sealed fizzled Monday (Feb. 14) when lawyers for four companies voiced no objection to the records generally being filed publicly(link is external). How much insurance carriers will pay toward a settlement of nearly 400 claims filed by abuse survivors is one of the remaining obstacles to resolving the four-year-old archdiocese case in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

OHIO

Alleged victims of abuse at Parmadale orphanage have discussed counseling, restitution with Catholic leaders
“Decades-old abuse allegations against the Catholic Church came to the forefront Tuesday (Feb. 22). A national organization is lending its support to people who claim they endured severe abuse when they were children at the former Parmadale home for children(link is external) in Parma. Dr. Robert Hoatson and Carolyn Mason held a news conference Tuesday talking about her time at Parmadale in the 1960s. You might remember Carolyn from the News 5 investigation that broke the news of the claims of physical abuse against some nuns at Parmadale.” By ABC-TV5 News

TENNESSEE

Judge sentences former Catholic Sunday school teacher for abuse at Murfreesboro parish
“A Rutherford County judge sentenced Michael D. Lewis to 20 years in prison Monday (Feb. 14) after Lewis pleaded guilty to felony charges in the sexual abuse of a girl at a Catholic parish in Murfreesboro(link is external). Lewis pleaded to four counts of statutory rape, Class C felonies, all related to events that occurred between 2014 to 2016 when Lewis was the director for religious education at Saint Rose of Lima Catholic Church.” By Liam Adams, Nashville Tennessean

WISCONSIN

‘Dirty, disgusted, afraid’: Former Wisconsin police chief speaks about clergy abuse he faced as a child
“Zipping up his sleeping bag, a Sheboygan teen was restless, worrying about what was to come. ‘He’d go from sleeping bag to sleeping bag. I’d learn to flip over on my stomach so he couldn’t touch me.’ Former Germantown Police Chief, Peter Hoell, is speaking out publicly for the first time about the sexual abuse he faced as a teenager(link is external) in Sheboygan. More than four decades ago, Hoell says a Holy Name Parish Priest, William Effinger, sexually molested him several times, taking advantage of him and his friends by feeding them alcohol.” By Shaun Gallagher, WTJM-TV4 News

ARGENTINA

Argentine court hears testimony of porn on accused bishop’s phone, requests for ‘messages’
“On the second day of the trial against Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta over sexual abuse, a priest testified that he had porn on his phone(link is external), while a psychologist of one of the alleged victims testified that the bishops’ behavior ‘scared and intimidated him.’ As the trial began Monday (Feb. 21), Zanchetta, bishop emeritus of Orán, in northern Argentina, denied all charges of alleged sexual abuse.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Retired bishop Zanchetta denies sex abuse claims at trial in Salta
“A retired Argentine bishop seen as close to the Pope, and who worked as an advisor for management of Vatican property, on Monday (Feb. 21) denied charges of sex abuse allegedly committed a decade ago(link is external). Gustavo Oscar Zanchetta, 57, appeared behind closed doors in the court of San Ramón de la Nueva Orán, where he was bishop from his appointment by Pope Francis in 2013 until his resignation in 2017.” By Agence France-Press in Buenos Aires Times

GERMANY

Munich report on sex abuse heightens Catholic Church divide over sexuality
“Supporters of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI rose to his defense in the past week after a report on decades of sexual abuse in his former archdiocese in Munich accused the retired pontiff of covering up and ignoring abuse by Catholic priests there. But some believe the defense of Benedict is less about his legacy and more about the deepening polarization in the Catholic Church and its approach to homosexuality and priestly celibacy(link is external), issues that are both now center stage in Germany.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Victim awarded £1.4m damages over abuse by monks
“A man who was abused by monks at a school in Fife run by Christian Brothers has secured £1.4m in damages(link is external). It is believed to be the highest sum ever to be awarded to a survivor. The victim was sexually assaulted and beaten by three Christian Brothers while staying at St Ninian’s School in Falkland in 1980 and 81. The man, who was named in courts as AB to protect his identity, said he hoped his award would inspire others in their quest for justice.” By BBC News

GUAM

Archbishop Byrnes, finance volunteer take the witness stand in payment case for abuse survivors
“Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes and former Archdiocesan Finance Council President Richard Untalan on Monday (Feb. 21) took the witness stand in a trial that would determine whether the assets of Catholic parishes and schools could also be used to pay hundreds of survivors of alleged clergy sexual assaults(link is external). Byrnes acknowledged the position of the archdiocese that he, as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana, only holds the assets of schools and parishes in trust, for the benefit of schools and parishes.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

Archdiocese makes case for hiring special counsel a week before trial on church assets to pay sex abuse claims
“The Archdiocese of Agana’s legal team on Friday (feb. 11) morning made the case to hire a special counsel, a week before the start of a trial on a lawsuit seeking to include the assets of Catholic parishes and schools to help pay clergy sex abuse claimants(link is external). U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood heard oral arguments from the archdiocese, the U.S. Trustee, and the creditors committee representing mostly abuse claimants in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy case. The judge is expected to soon issue a written order.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

ITALY

Pressure groups demand Church in Italy submit to external sexual abuse inquiry
“Catholic groups on Tuesday (Feb. 15) accused Italy’s Church of an ‘institutional failure’ to confront clergy sexual abuse, and demanded an independent national inquiry mirroring ones conducted in France and Germany(link is external). A collective of nine groups – seven headed by women – issued the demand during the launch of a campaign called ‘Beyond the Great Silence’ and a hashtag, #ItalyChurchToo, inspired by the international #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

NEW ZEALAND

Marylands School: Abuse in Care Inquiry unravels more mysteries
“Business has been brisk this past week at the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry. The latest phase of the inquiry has looked at the historical wrongdoing that took place at the Marylands residential school and its co-located St Joseph’s orphanage(link is external) in Christchurch, as well as the nearby Hebron Trust facility. These residences were overseen by the Brothers Hospitaller of St John of God, a Catholic order known for its work with at-risk young people, including kids with learning disabilities – and rather too many of the 1680 reports of abuse against local Catholic clergy and workers from 1950 to the present day.” By Radio New Zealand

Archbishop accepts Catholic Church needs to take responsibility for historical abuse
“Catholic Archbishop Paul Martin accepts that survivors of abuse want the church to take responsibility and not just leave it to a particular order(link is external) that may have been involved. He made the comment at the Abuse in Care inquiry investigating historical abuse by the St John of God Order at Marylands School in Christchurch. The order ran the school between 1955 and 1984. Archbishop Martin said the culture at the time was wrong.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

POLAND

Portugal: Church sex abuse panel unearths over 200 cases
“A lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church(link is external) said Thursday (Feb. 10) that during its first month of work it received allegations from 214 people. The allegations are from people born between 1933 and 2006 and tell of psychological torment kept secret for decades, the Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Church said. ‘This suffering is associated with feelings of shame, fear, guilt and self-exclusion, reinforcing the idea of lives where the sensation of ‘standing on the sidelines’ was always present,’ the committee said in a statement.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

SPAIN

Spain church pledges external probe into child abuse
“Spain’s Catholic Church said Monday (Feb. 21) a law firm would carry out an independent investigation into allegations of child abuse involving its clergy(link is external) as political pressure grows to hold an inquiry. The legal team will “open an independent channel” to receive complaints, review the legal procedures to punish criminal practices and help the authorities clarify the facts, the CEE Episcopal Conference, which groups Spain’s leading bishops, said in a statement.” By Agence France-Presse on newsinfor.inquirer,net

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Is Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality bound to disappoint–or will it renew the church? / America: The Jesuit Review

An even more fundamental question could draw us into the content of our journeying together. Could we ask, ‘As God’s pilgrim people journeying together, how can we more effectively bring the life-giving power of the gospel to a world so desperately in need of it?’ That question would more closely correspond to the vision of Pope John XXIII and, I believe, of Pope Francis as well.

By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review

“Pope Francis has begun a multi-year process for the entire church, what he has called ‘a synod on synodality.’ In his talks and in the preparatory documents, he has explained the unusual term ‘synodality’ very simply by retrieving its Greek roots. ‘Synodality,’ as he describes it, is being syn-hodos, on the road together. The Holy Father wants this vision of the church being on the road or journey together to come alive.

“When I first heard about synodality, the concept held a strong appeal for me. I saw it moving the church beyond the usual and tired constructs of institution, organization and bureaucracy. I saw it underscoring an experience of church that included a greater sense of community and connection in the unfolding of history. The Second Vatican Council had captured this with its striking image of the church as the pilgrim people of God in ‘Lumen Gentium.’ So far, synodality seemed good, indeed, very good.

“Then I began to have questions and hesitations.”

By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review — 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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