Posts Tagged The Vatican
Vatican’s failure to hold Bishop Barros accountable disheartens Voice of the Faithful Church reform movement
The Vatican’s recent statement that the Congregation of Bishops has found “no objective reason to preclude” Juan Madrid Barros’ appointment as bishop of Osorno, Chile, is extremely disheartening to Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful, especially in light of the promise of Francis’ papacy for a more accountable, collegial Church.
Barros is accused by victims of covering up for Fr. Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty in 2011 of sexual abuse of minors. Apparently, the terse Vatican statement on Barros’ appointment does not address these allegations.
The Vatican’s position is particularly troubling in at least two ways.
First, Pope Francis appears to be going back on his word to hold bishops accountable for covering up clergy sexual abuse. He has said repeatedly that such accountability is necessary. In July 2014, for example, he is reported as saying bishops “will be held accountable” for failing to protect children from sexual abuse in his homily during Mass with clergy sexual abuse survivors. Similarly, following the meeting this past February of his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Vatican is reported to have vowed a keen awareness “that the issue of accountability is of major importance.”
Second, the concerns of clergy and laity in Osorno seem to have been ignored. Their attempts to bar Barros’ appointment failed, and congregants at his installation Mass created a near riot that drove the bishop to escape the cathedral through a side door. The Vatican’s failure to listen to clergy and laity in Osorno brings into question all of Pope Francis’ statements about his wishes to bring collegiality to Church governance, to listen to the laity and to make decisions at the local level.
Now installed, it’s hard to see how Barros could live up to what Francis admonished papal nuncios to heed in a June 2013 address: “In the delicate task of carrying out inquiries for episcopal appointments, be careful that the candidates are pastors close to the people, fathers and brothers …”
Pope Francis has addressed this issue many times over the past two years, but his most telling remark concerning how he would like to see the Church make decisions comes from his October 2013 interview with America magazine: “All the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief … When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit .. We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the Church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the Church.”
In Osorno, no “dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope” seems to have occurred, at the expense of Francis’ accountable, collegial Church. Barros is bishop, and the Vatican appears disinclined to remove him. Perhaps, in considering the situation, Barros will take to heart Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati’s remark. Ezzati is reported to have said that “a bishop can, eventually, resign.”
Pope Francis has added members to the new Vatican commission advising him on safeguarding children from sexual abuse, appointing an additional eight people to the commission from diverse global backgrounds and professional experience.
“Among the new appointments, which the Vatican announced Wednesday (Dec. 17): an English survivor of clergy sexual abuse, a woman religious who serves as the secretary general of an pan-African episcopal conference, and several psychologists and psychotherapists from different parts of the world.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Also of interest, “Abuse victim calls pope’s new commission line-up ‘courageous,'” by Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com
The Vatican will be releasing the results of one of its controversial and contentious investigations of U.S. women religious at a press briefing in December, a priest who assists the Vatican’s press office has said.
“Basilian Fr. Thomas Rosica, a Canadian who frequently helps the Vatican with English and French language press, said the Vatican will release a report on the investigation, known as an apostolic visitation, Dec. 16.
“The visitation, one of two separate investigations of U.S. women religious launched by different Vatican offices in recent years, sparked protest from both the women and lay people throughout the country who said it was based on unfair and unfounded judgments about the women’s lives.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Pope Francis has codified his ability to effectively fire Catholic bishops, saying that in some circumstances, he ‘can consider it necessary’ to ask them to resign their offices.
“The move, which the Vatican announced Wednesday (Nov. 5), seems to be an attempt by Francis to clear up any ambiguity about the pontiff’s power to replace prelates around the world. While Francis and his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, have effectively removed bishops in the past, their power to do so was not previously so explicit in the church’s laws.
“Wednesday’s change comes in a short edict approved Monday (Nov. 3) by Francis at the request of Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state. Composed of seven short articles, the edict addresses the resignation of diocesan bishops and papal appointees.”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The Vatican put its former ambassador to the Dominican Republic under house arrest Tuesday (Sept. 23) after opening a criminal trial against him, the first time a high-ranking Vatican official has ever faced criminal charges for sexually abusing youngsters.
“Josef Wesolowski had already been defrocked in June after the Vatican’s canon law court found him guilty of abuse and imposed its toughest penalty under church law: laicization, or returning to life as a layman.
“On Tuesday, the Vatican City State’s separate criminal court opened a preliminary hearing into his case and ordered him placed under house arrest.”
By Associated Press on Crux — Click here to read the rest of this story.
“However it ends, the case will be followed as an indicator of Pope Francis’s commitment to true church reform.”
Roman Catholics and much of the world have been closely watching for evidence that Pope Francis has the wherewithal to buck the resistance to reform from the Vatican’s powerful bureaucracy.
“An encouraging sign emerged last week with the announcement that the Vatican’s former ambassador to the Dominican Republic had been stripped of diplomatic immunity and could be tried there for his alleged soliciting of underage boys for sexual acts. The announcement reversed a devious and secret stratagem engineered by unidentified Vatican officials last year to recall the ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, before Dominican authorities could bring criminal charges of child abuse against him.”
Editorial in The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
Cardinal Seeks Truce in Fight between U.S. Nuns and Vatican’s Doctrinal Office / Religion News Service
A senior Vatican official on Tuesday (May 20) tried to defuse the damaging rift between the Vatican and U.S. nuns after a recent rebuke over obedience and doctrinal differences.
“Cardinal Joao Braz de Aviz, who heads the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life that oversees men’s and women’s religious orders, said there had been ‘sensitive times,’ but relations between religious orders and the Holy See remained ‘very close.'”
By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service — Click here to read the rest of this story.
POPES and their officials have long benefited from the Vatican’s unique dual status in international law. As the Vatican City State, it can shelter prelates wanted for questioning elsewhere and play host to offshore financial institutions such as the Vatican Bank. But when world leaders visit the pope in Rome it is to meet the absolute ruler of a global entity, the Holy See. As the Holy See, the Vatican engages in diplomacy, holds observer status at the UN and signs most treaties. The Holy See is sometimes called a sovereign entity without territory, although its sovereign, the pope, is also the ruler of the Vatican City State. It is a legal expression of the Catholic church’s leadership, yet American lawyers for the church have successfully argued that the Vatican is not responsible for Catholic clerics’ wrongdoing.
“On May 23rd the Vatican’s split personality will be put to a new test when a UN committee releases the findings of an inquiry into the Holy See’s compliance with the Convention against Torture, which it signed in 2002. Most of the questions put to the pope’s representative, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, in the public hearings were about the sexual abuse of children and adolescents by Catholic clerics. If the committee decides it was torture, a wave of prosecutions of historic offences could follow: there is usually no time limit for bringing torture charges, as there generally is for sex crimes. And if it judges the Holy See accountable for priests’ and bishops’ misconduct, victims’ lawyers may challenge existing jurisprudence and demand compensation from Rome.”
By The Economist — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The Vatican faced sharp questioning by a United Nations panel on Monday (May 5) about whether it failed to abide by an international treaty against torture in its response to the sexual abuse of children by priests.
“In the hearing, Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s representative in Geneva, immediately found himself at odds with members of the panel, the Committee Against Torture, over the Holy See’s view that it is responsible for applying the treaty only to the few hundred inhabitants of the Vatican City state.”
By Nick Cumming Bruce, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.
On the question of how far papal authority extends, the canon law of the Catholic Church could not be clearer: ‘The vicar of Christ … possesses full, immediate, and universal ordinary power in the Church, which he is always able to exercise freely.’ (Can. 331) Note that canon law does not say, ‘except in cases of priestly sex abuse of children.’ Canon law does not say that priests and bishops are independent contractors. Canon law does not say that what happens in Catholic parishes and dioceses around the world has nothing to do with Rome. In fact, another canon reads, ‘By virtue of his office, the Roman pontiff not only possesses power over the universal church, but also obtains the primacy of ordinary power over all particular churches and groups of them.’ (Can. 333)
“How to square that sweeping papal power with the shameless dodge put forward by the Holy See in this era of church disgrace — the claim that, when it comes to protecting children from abuse, the Roman Catholic Church is legally responsible only to safeguard those living in the confines of Vatican City, a tiny city-state that would fit inside New York’s Central Park eight times …”
By James Carroll, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this column.