Posts Tagged Synod on Synodality

Is there room in the tent? / L’Osservatore Romano

People around the world have asked the Church to outgrow clericalism and recognize the managerial and ministerial abilities of women. There is progress in adding women to management. The extended Synod process should not delay the restoration of women to the ordained diaconal ministry.

Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano

“As the Church prepares for the next phase of the Synod on Synodality, one of the most pressing issues is the relationship between women and the Church, combined with the problem of clericalism. The Working Document clearly states that “almost all reports raise the issue of full and equal participation of women.” (No. 64.)

“Many national reports asked to restore women to the ordained diaconate, yet the Synod’s Working Document for the Continental Stage refers to “a female diaconate.” Does this indicate ongoing discernment about the ability of women to receive sacramental ordination as deacons, despite the historical evidence of ordained women deacons? While women are increasingly included as professional managers within Church structures, notably within the Roman Curia, deep resistance to accepting historical precedence of women’s ordained ministry remains.

“Can the Church overcome clericalism and the denial of history?”

By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Oct. 7, 2022

Oct. 7, 2022

TOP STORIES

Time for more transparency in Vatican handling of sex abuse
“A Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop alleged to have abused teenaged boys during the 1990s was sanctioned by the Vatican, which limited his movements and prohibited him from contact with minors or with his home country of East Timor. Meanwhile in Yakima, Washington, after a whistleblower raised concerns about the previous bishop’s handling of sexual abuse allegations, the now-retired bishop received a formal reprimand from the Vatican. Though the details of these two cases differ, what they share in common is that the consequences to the church leader under investigation — and even the fact of the investigation itself — were kept secret. That is, until news media shared the truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Is net finally closing on U.S. priest who allegedly abused ‘countless’ children?
“In arguably the clearest sign yet that he is under active criminal investigation, a retired Catholic priest from New Orleans who has been publicly accused of molesting ‘countless’ children but never charged has acknowledged that the FBI recently questioned him. Lawrence Hecker, 91, declined to elaborate on exactly when FBI agents met with him or what they asked him as they reportedly lead an investigation into whether clerics serving a Louisiana region that is home to nearly half a million Catholics took children across state lines to abuse them. But, in a brief conversation with the Guardian, Hecker admitted that FBI agents had spoken with him.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

U.S. Catholic bishops’ report to the Vatican shows a church split by politics
“Catholics in the United States are deeply divided over issues as disparate as LGBTQ inclusion, clerical sexual abuse and celebrating the liturgy, according to a summary of consultations carried out in dioceses across the country in recent months as part of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality. ‘Participants felt this division as a profound sense of pain and anxiety,’ the U.S. bishops wrote in a summary released Monday (Sept. 19) to the public after being sent to the Vatican last month.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Australian archbishop investigating retired bishop on abuse allegations
“Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge will conduct an investigation into retired Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome, using a process established by Pope Francis in 2019. Young Aboriginal men from towns and bush communities in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia accused Saunders of sexual misconduct. The bishop has denied the allegations. Local media reported the inquiry in February, but it was not confirmed until late September. Brisbane’s Coleridge is president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Churches defend clergy loophole in child sex abuse reporting
“It was a frigid Sunday evening at the Catholic Newman Center in Salt Lake City when the priest warned parishioners who had gathered after Mass that their right to private confessions was in jeopardy … In the following days of February 2020, Utah’s Catholic diocese, which oversees dozens of churches, says it collected some 9,000 signed letters from parishioners and sent them to state Rep. Angela Romero, a Democrat who had been working on the bill as part of her campaign against child sexual abuse. HB90 targeted Utah’s ‘clergy-penitent privilege,’ a law similar to those in many states that exempts clergy of all denominations from the requirement to report child abuse if they learn about the crime in a confessional setting.” By Jason Dearen and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

ACCOUNTABILITY

Vatican’s quiet reprimand of U.S. bishop raises concerns about Pope’s clergy abuse law
“Earlier this year, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, received a formal reprimand from the Vatican for how he handled clergy abuse allegations — and possibly for how he treated a whistleblower. Victim advocates have praised the Vatican’s actions on that case as a rare rebuke of a bishop. Yet the dearth of information about both the investigation and subsequent reprimand appears to reinforce advocates’ concerns about one of Pope Francis’ landmark achievements on clergy abuse. Last week’s report that retired East Timor Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was secretly sanctioned for alleged abuse has raised similar critiques. Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You Are the Light of the World”), issued by Francis in 2019, is a sweeping set of laws that includes a system to evaluate reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops. Bishop Carlos Sevilla, who led the central Washington diocese from 1996 until retiring in 2011, was investigated under the system put in place by Vos Estis, according to reporting by the Yakima Herald-Republic.” By Ketie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Pope meets group that prepared text for next phase of synod
“Pope Francis personally expressed his thanks to the four-dozen people who read through hundreds of reports about the listening phase of the Synod of Bishops and, after 12 days of prayer, reflection and discussion, drafted a working document for the continental stage of the synod process. The pope welcomed the cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay participants to the Vatican Oct. 2, the last day of their work. At the heart of the work were the 112 syntheses submitted by national bishops’ conferences from around the world, as well as syntheses from the Eastern Catholic churches, religious orders, church organizations and movements, offices of the Roman Curia and individuals.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Synod on Synodality had its doubters, but it’s proving to be balm for ‘enduring wounds’
“In preparation for the Synod on Synodality, which will bring the world’s bishops to Rome a year from now, Pope Francis called for Catholics to meet in their parishes and dioceses to listen to one another and discern a path forward for the church. Many of the laity in the United States were excited by the opportunity … Despite these reservations, the U.S. bishops reported to the Vatican, ‘many were surprised by a level of engagement and richness that surpassed their expectations. It was frequently noted how much agreement participants found when they listened to each other.’” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Head of Vatican Synod office: ‘Let us trust in our people’
“The head of the Vatican’s synod office says that when it comes to hot-button issues such as the reception of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and the blessing of same-sex couples, discussion cannot be limited to doctrinal concerns, but must also include pastoral considerations. ‘These issues are not to be understood simply in terms of doctrine, but in terms of God’s ongoing encounter with human beings,’ said Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

National synod report raises question: ‘Now what?’
“The U.S. bishops’ conference issued its ‘National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.’ The document is exceedingly well done, bringing together into one, concise and readable document the results of 22,000 reports from 30,000 listening sessions, in which the conference estimates some 700,000 people participated. Those numbers are staggering, a rebuke to the naysayers who viewed this process with suspicion … So, kudos to everyone who participated in this enormous undertaking and to the staff at the bishops’ conference who brought it all together. Now what?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican’s synod chief tells U.S. Church leaders to ‘listen to others’
“Cardinal Mario Grech encouraged more than 200 U.S. Catholic leaders to continue the process of listening called for by the Synod on Synodality, even as it moves out of the local phase, and to consider the contributions of all people of goodwill, in a recent presentation. “When we say that we are listening to the others, we are also saying that we are listening to the Holy Spirit, and for me, this is something sacred and it was about time that we came around to recognize this wealth, this richness in the church,” said Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope names new members to commission for protection of minors
“Pope Francis reconfirmed the leadership of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and expanded its membership from 17 to 20 people, naming 10 new members and reappointing 10 returning members. U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the commission, said, ‘Coming from all over the world with varied backgrounds and a common passion for the well-being of children and vulnerable people, the members announced today (Sept. 30) include advocates and practitioners of prevention and protection to the many areas in which the church ministers to children.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Canadian bishops say they’ll follow pope’s example with Indigenous
“Canada’s bishops wound up their first in-person meetings in three years with discussion of concrete steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians. At the end of four days of plenary meetings of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cornwall, Ontario, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith told a news conference that the bishops are following the example of Pope Francis and the priority he placed on meeting with Indigenous people.” By Michael Swan, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Leading German bishop to stay in post despite damning report
“A leading German bishop said on Thursday (Sept. 22) that he will remain in office despite a damning report on the handling of abuse cases in his diocese. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode told journalists at a press conference on Sept. 22 that he had discussed whether to resign as bishop of Osnabrück, northwestern Germany, with the safeguarding expert Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J. Zollner is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the founding president of Rome’s Centre for Child Protection.” By Luke Coppen, The Pillar

WOMEN’S VOICES

New Zealand Catholic women display ‘pink shoes’ to call for equality in the church
“Hundreds of Catholic women in New Zealand contributed to a provocative public art protest on Sept. 18 calling for equality of women in the church. The event took place in Auckland, the nation’s largest city, and Wellington, its capital. Called ‘Pink Shoes into the Vatican,’ the event consisted of an installation of hundreds of pairs of shoes donated by women around the country that were lined up on the streets leading up to both cities’ cathedrals. Tied to each pair of shoes was a label from its owner describing their contribution to or aspirations for the church.” By Peter Kirkwood, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Will laity by granted voice at next October’s synod
“I was pleasantly surprised that the U.S. bishops’ national synthesis for the Synod on Synodality explicitly named ‘hot button’ issues such as women’s ordination, LGBTQ+ inclusion and the need for freedom to speak up on controversial issues without fear of being silenced. Synthesis writers are to be congratulated for compiling a comprehensive, transparent document featuring input from ‘over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and groups.’ Many other important ecclesial issues are also named that I shall not address here, but the text is well worth the read.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

First graduate of Child Safety Certificate Program serves diocese
“When she began facilitating safe environment training in the Diocese of Palm Beach in 2005, Donna Eurich did not know that child protection would become her vocation and full-time work in the future. She was a middle school religion teacher at the time. Now she is the director of child and youth protection and the victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma, and the first graduate of the online Certificate in Child Protection and Safe Environments offered by the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America.” By The Catholic University of America

CHURCH FINANCES

Former Holy Cross Catholic Church official arrested in embezzlement case in Vero Beach
“A former parish administrator at Holy Cross Catholic Church was arrested Monday (Sept. 19) after police accused her of using nearly $550,000 of church donations over several years to pay off her personal lines of credit, according to records obtained Tuesday (Sept.20). Deborah Lynn True, 69, who has a listed address in Frederick, Colorado, was arrested on a charge of organized fraud over $50,000 after a Vero Beach police investigation that began in December 2021.” By Will Greenlee, TCPalm.com

VOICES

Theologian Gaillardetz warns against over-critique of church in ‘last lecture’
“Theologians from across the U.S. gathered here (Boston College) Sept. 23-24 for a conference celebrating the legacy of Richard Gaillardetz, one of the country’s foremost experts on the exercise of authority in the Catholic Church, who is receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer … In an hourlong discourse that was at turns autobiographical, theological and deeply personal, the theologian encouraged his colleagues to continue the work of ‘meaningful and lasting ecclesial reform’ and to seek out a middle path between over-critiquing the Catholic Church as an institution and being over-trustful of its leaders, especially after the clergy sexual abuse scandals.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic Church is increasingly diverse – and so are its controversies
“There is a lot of talk about ‘synodality’ in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church. In 2021, Pope Francis called for the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ a worldwide discussion of issues that impact the church, which will culminate with a bishops’ meeting in Rome. A final report is scheduled for October 2023. The Catholic Church in Germany has also moved forward with a national ‘synodal path’ to restore trust after its own sexual abuse scandal.” By Matthew Schmalz, Religion News Service

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Curran Center Award winner explores healing power of voice
“There is healing power in using your voice. That was one of the lessons of ‘A Theology of Voice: VOCAL and the Catholic Clergy Abuse Survivor Movement,’ an article by Brian Clites, Ph.D., chosen by Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies in May as the winner of its third annual New Scholars essay contest … Clites said that when he first began working on the paper, which is part of a larger book project, in 2011, he was struck by how little academic research had been devoted to the sexual abuse crisis, and how often the concept of the voice was referenced in contemporary Catholic survivor groups, such as ‘Voice of the Faithful’ and ‘Speak Truth to Power.’” By Patrick Verel, Fordham News

Bishop Hart accuser discusses abuse with clergy at Wyoming film screenings
“A priest stood up and asked Ed Gavagan how he found hope after all that he’s endured. As a room full of Catholic clergy looked on, Ed told the priest that he had none. None at all. Gavagan had been shaken when he walked into the community room attached to Sheridan’s Holy Name Catholic Church on Monday (Sept. 19). The seats were filled by 50-some priests, plus a half-dozen nuns, all gathered to watch a documentary that follows Gavagan and five other men as they work to heal from the trauma they say they suffered at the hands of priests decades ago.” By Casper Star Tribune

CALIFORNIA

Four more former California all-boys Catholic school students allege priest sexually assaulted them
“Father Kevin Fitzpatrick’s first 25 years in the service of the Order of Servants of Mary were commemorated by a page dedicated to the popular priest in Servite High School’s 1980 yearbook. The page features a photo of Fitzpatrick, the school’s swimming and water polo coach, poolside. There’s a picture of Fitzpatrick, known to the Servite community as simply Father Fitz, sticking out his tongue at the photographer and another of him grabbing a Servite student by the front of the boy’s shirt in mock anger.” By Scott Reid, By The Mercury News

Catholic priest who served in Atlanta faces rape, abuse warrants for three different victims
“A catholic priest who once served in Atlanta is now accused of rape, with warrants out for his arrest in California.The Atlanta Archdiocese confirmed the allegations Monday (Sept. 26). According to the Diocese of Sacramento, where the charges stem from, he left California in 2005 and served in the Atlanta area until leaving for his home diocese in Colombia in 2008. According to the Sacramento Diocese, 70-year-old Father Roberto Jaramillo faces criminal warrants for three instances of alleged sexual abuse going back more than two decades – the alleged ‘repeated’ rape and abuse of a girl between 1996 and 1999, kissing a juvenile boy in 1999 and sexually abusing an adult male in 2001.” By Kaitlyn Ross, 11Alive-TV News

Former Sacramento priest accused of child sex abuse. Here’s when and where he served.
“A priest who formerly was with the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has been added to the list of clergy accused of child sex abuse, and authorities are searching for him. Roberto Jaramillo, who served at multiple churches in the Sacramento region for 10 years, is accused of rape and other sexual assault involving a girl under the age of 14 between 1996 and 1999. The Sacramento Police Department confirmed on Saturday that a felony warrant had been issued.” By Mathew Miranda, The Sacramento Bee

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese of Chicago asks three retired priests to remain out of ministry pending investigation of nearly 50-year-old allegations of sexual abuse of minors
“ The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced that it has asked three retired priests to remain out of ministry while its Independent Review Board investigates allegations of sexual abuse of minors against them. The priests are: Father John J. Rudnik, 87, Father James E. Flynn, 80 and Father John W. Clemens, 75. Each has one allegation against him, all dating from nearly a half century ago and all are cooperating fully with the process. The persons making the allegations have been offered the services of the Archdiocese Victim Assistance Ministry and civil authorities have been notified. In addition, parishioners in the parishes where these priests served have been notified.” News Release by Archdiocese of Chicago

MARYLAND

Garrett Park priest placed on leave pending sexual abuse allegations
“A priest at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Garrett Park has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of sexually abusing minors in another diocese decades ago. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington notified parishioners last Friday (Sept. 30). According to church officials, the sexual abuse allegations against Reverend Robert Buchmeier were first reported to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington on Sept. 30. After reviewing the preliminary information, the Diocese of Arlington notified Alexandria City Police and the Archdiocese of Washington — where Buchmeier is incardinated.” By MyMCMedia.org

MASSACHUSETTS

Judge to reexamine her decision on release of Eagle reporter’s notes in Springfield clergy abuse case
“A Hampden County Superior Court judge is poised to decide whether a reporter for The Berkshire Eagle must provide information the newspaper says would violate a promise of confidentiality to an anonymous source. That information is needed to allow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, its lawyer says, to defend itself against a civil lawsuit filed by a man who says he was raped by clergy, including former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.” By Heather Bellow, the Berkshire Eagle

MINNESOTA

Retired priest removed from ministry as abuse allegation is investigated
“A retired priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Michael Ince, has been placed on a leave of absence from priestly ministry while an allegation of abusing a minor in the 1980s is investigated. ‘In accordance with archdiocesan policies, the archdiocesan Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment promptly reported this to law enforcement, who advised that they are investigating the allegation,’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a statement Sept. 26. Once law enforcement completes its investigation the archdiocese will follow its processes to determine next steps.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

MISSOURI

‘Slap in the face.’ Sex abuse victims outraged over priest’s return to Kansas City.
“A former Kansas City priest and retired Wyoming bishop whose numerous sexual abuse allegations were dismissed by the Vatican but deemed credible by two current U.S. bishops is moving back to the metro area. Joseph Hart, who left Kansas City more than four decades ago to become Bishop of Cheyenne, will be residing in a senior living facility, The Star has learned. Hart, who turned 91 last month, has a brother — also a priest — who lives in Kansas City. One of Hart’s victims told The Star that he was contacted last week by Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, to let him know Hart would be returning.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Priest convicted of sex abuse claimed ex-police detective McLaughlin erased tapes
“Gordon MacRae, the Catholic priest now serving a state prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting four boys, once claimed in a lawsuit that the evidence against him was destroyed by a zealous investigator out to railroad him. The cop who pursued MacRae was then-Keene Police Detective James McLaughlin. The old lawsuit brought by the convicted child sex predator against McLaughlin is newly relevant now that McLaughlin’s recently released personnel file shows the decorated investigator was once accused by his own department of doctoring evidence.” By Damien fisher, InDepthNH.org

NEW JERSEY

Questions as accused former pastor relocated
“A former pastor at St. Andrew Church in Westwood who resigned in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct from over three decades ago has been reassigned as chaplain to a Catholic resource facility in Newark that offers services to help pregnant, post-abortion, and sexual abuse victims ‘who need a safe and supportive environment.’ Former pastor James Weiner was found to be working at The Mercy House, a ‘family-oriented resource and referral center in the heart of Newark with a focus on assisting pregnant and parenting women who need a safe and supportive environment.’” By The Press Group

OHIO

Former Cincinnati Catholic priest told rape victim ‘I don’t have a clue what you could be talking about’
“In a ‘chilling’ phone call to then-Rev. Geoff Drew, the Catholic priest who raped him three decades ago, Paul Neyer said he was so unnerved that he grabbed a table and felt like he could ‘squeeze through it.’ At the request of detectives investigating his case, Neyer called Drew on July 31, 2019, one day after investigators from Green Township and Cincinnati interviewed him about being raped, according to previously unreleased police records from the investigation.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News

RHODE ISLAND

Details emerge about Father James Jackson’s alleged pre-trial release violations
“Father James Jackson, a Rhode Island priest who was arrested in October on federal and state child pornography charges, admitted Monday (Oct. 3) in federal court that the government could prove that he violated certain conditions of his pre-trial release. The conditions of Jackson’s pretrial release were set in November 2021 before he was allowed to leave Rhode Island to reside with a family member in Kansas. He was arrested in July by the U.S. Marshals in Kansas. He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.” By Joe Burkuras, Catholic News Agency

AFRICA

Catholic priest arraigned for allegedly sodomizing 10 children
“A Catholic priest in Moshi, Sostenes Soka, who was being held by the police has been arraigned today, September 26, at the Resident Magistrate’s Court for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children. He was arrested on September 20. The children are pupils whose identity has been protected are in Standard Six and Form One who were attending the teachings for the first communion and confirmation.” By Florah Temba, The Citizen

CANADA

B.C. man reaches settlement over priest sex abuse allegations
“A man who alleged he was sexually abused by Mission Roman Catholic priests and a seminary employee has reached an undisclosed settlement to end the case. Mark O’Neill was seeking damages for sexual abuse he alleges he suffered as a teen during his time at a Mission Roman Catholic seminary from 1974 to 1978. He was 13- to 17-years-old at the time. The defendants listed in the suit included the Seminary of Christ the King; Westminster Abbey Ltd.; the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole; Emerick Lazar; Harold Vincent Sander, a.k.a. Dom Placidus Sander; Shawn Rohrbach; and John Doe.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine

GERMANY

German court asks Benedict XVI to testify after complaint by a victim of abuse by a priest
“ The Traunstein Regional Court in Bavaria has requested a deposition of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI over a lawsuit filed by a man who was abused by a priest, court spokeswoman Andrea Titz has confirmed. “The defendants have the opportunity to indicate their willingness to defend themselves within two weeks, after which they have four weeks, or one month, to respond,” she explained. As reported by German media when the complaint was filed, the plaintiff is a 38-year-old man from Bavaria who alleges he was sexually abused by the priest as a child.” By Daniel Stewart, News 360

GUAM

Catholic Church in Guam begins processing abuse victims’ compensation claims
“The chief judge of the US district court of Guam Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has approved the final revision to the compromise agreement that would bring closure to the clergy abuse victims’ civil action against the Catholic Church. The settlement amount for victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse will be in the range of between US$34 million and US$45 million, but Catholic church officials said the final amount would depend on the actual sum that the sale of respective archdiocese properties would bring in.” By Radio New Zealand

INDIA

Indian family seeks dismissal of priest accused of abuse
“An Indian Catholic priest already under suspension following sex abuse complaints has fresh charges of sexual assault being lodged against him by a minor boy and his father, sparking calls for his dismissal from the priesthood. Father Vincent Pereira, 55, was originally suspended from public priestly ministries after police arrested him in September 2018 for sexually assaulting a teenage boy in a school where he was the principal. Released on bail in March 2020, he now lives in the pastoral center of the Pune diocese in western India.” By Michael Gonsalves, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Sex beast priest caught in another breach of sexual offenses prevention order
“One of Northern Ireland’s most notorious pedophile priests has admitted yet another breach of his life-long sexual offences prevention order. A court has been told the case of Daniel Gerard Curran ‘is to proceed by way of a guilty plea’ to the single charge against him. In August this year, the creep breached his lifelong SOPO by ‘loitering’ around Tollymore National Outdoor Centre in Newcastle.” By Paul Higgins, Belfast Telegraph

LEBANON

Lebanese pedophile priest Mansour Labaki defrocked by Vatican
“Mansour Labaki is believed to have sexually abused more than 50 individuals. The Vatican defrocked the former Lebanese priest and convicted pedophile on Tuesday (Sept. 27), ten years after he was found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors. The Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon issued a statement saying that Pope Francis decided that both Labaki and Priest George Karim Badr, will be ‘returned to their secular state.’” By The New Arab

PORTUGAL

Portugal abuse cases mount amid questions over Nobel bishop
Clergy sexual abuse cases are casting a pall over the Catholic Church in Portugal, ensnaring senior officials even as authorities scramble to explain why shelter was given to a Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop at the center of sexual misconduct allegations. Senior Catholic leaders apologized over the weekend for the hurt caused by decades of alleged abuse and cover-up — current estimates number around 400 cases — with the archbishop of Lisbon begging the faithful to not lose faith in the church.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com

SPAIN

Spain’s ombudsman urges Catholic bishops to collaborate in sexual abuse investigation
“The Spanish ombudsman on Tuesday (Sept. 26) said he ‘hasn’t noticed a lot of enthusiasm’ from parts of the Catholic Church as he looks into sexual abuse cases and urged bishops to collaborate with his investigation. ‘If they say they won’t, I will make very concrete requests about what happened in specific cases, congregations and what’s going on with certain archives,’ Angel Gabilondo said at the New Economy Forum in Madrid.” By Alyssa McMurtry, Anadolu Agency on aa.com.tr

TIMOR-LESTE

‘What I want is apologies’
“For years, Timor-Leste’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has been sexually abusing boys, survivors and others claim. Meanwhile, the Catholic church imposed travel restrictions on Belo. ‘We have to talk about it, and shout it out louder to the world.’ By Tjitske Kingsma, De Groene Amsterdammer

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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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