Posts Tagged United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
BOSTON, Mass., May 25, 2016 – Recent heightened public scrutiny of Catholic clergy sexual abuse has reinforced the urgency for the Church to address the scandal adequately, according to abuse victims’ advocate and Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful.
Within only a week, the “window” in the Minnesota Child Victims act expired, even as the U.S. Catholic bishops made their annual abuse report.
On May 24, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the three-year window created by the 2013 Minnesota Child Victims Act for reporting old claims of child sex abuse would expire May 25. During the three-year period, more than 500 claims were made against Minnesota Catholic clergy, according to the Star Tribune, which said, “In the three years since the law’s passage, the local church has witnessed an archbishop’s resignation, two bankruptcies and the public naming of more than 100 priests credibly accused of child sex abuse.”
The same day, the Associated Press reported that lawyers for abuse victims were accusing the St. Paul-Minneapolis Archdiocese of hiding more than $1 billion in assets “to avoid big payouts to abuse survivors as part of the church’s bankruptcy case.”
On May 20, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops released its 2015 annual audit report on the implementation of its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The report was not entirely complimentary of the Church’s efforts. The report showed a sharp increase in the number of new claims primarily from adults reporting past abuse. Francesco Cesareo, chairman of USCCB’s National Review Board, said the audit showed progress in creating safe environments for children but that very progress threatens complacency in implementing the charter’s guidelines.
As VOTF has pointed out before, the audit relies on self-reporting to assess compliance with those guidelines with little or no verification of the reported data.
Voice of the Faithful believes this focus on the scandal reinforces calls to action VOTF has made many times, including:
- everyone in the Church, lay and clergy alike, must be constantly vigilant in order to prevent abuse and its coverup and to report suspected cases promptly to civil authorities;
- the Church must stop blocking state statutes of limitation reforms that allow sufficient time for abused children to report the crimes;
- the Church must hold accountable not only the abusers, but also those who fail to report the crimes;
- the Church must provide abuse survivors and all those harmed by the scandal with resources necessary for healing.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Elections at USCCB’s annual fall meeting could presage how successful Pope Francis’ Church reforms may be
The upcoming election of committee chairs by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) will present the American bishops with clear choices that will indicate the direction of the conference for the next few years.
“The elections will take place at the bishops’ annual fall meeting in Baltimore, Nov. 16-19.
“Four of the candidates are clearly ‘Francis bishops,’ because they were chosen by him for their dioceses or for a special assignment.
“I am not saying that only bishops appointed by Pope Francis can be considered ‘Francis bishops,’ but it is interesting that the USCCB elections will have four Francis appointees on the ballot. Will the bishops like these candidates as much as Pope Francis does?”
By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful wrote today to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, which oversees the Church’s child protection policies, declaiming its distress that disgraced Bishop Robert Finn will preside at ordinations this month in his former diocese. In doing so, we add our voices to those of SNAP and other organizations that believe public support for abuse survivors and endorsement of strong child protection policies is essential for the Church.
Here is the text of the letter:
Dear NRB Members,
Voice of the Faithful urges you, as the office charged with ensuring the protection of children, to speak out immediately on the recent that Bishop Robert Finn, who recently resigned from the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, is scheduled to confer ordinations there later this month.
Bishop Finn, as you no doubt know, was convicted three years ago for the crime of failing to report the discovery of child pornography on the computer of a priest in his diocese. Despite that conviction, Bishop Finn was permitted to attend USCCB meetings. No other bishop publicly criticized his presence, and only when the Vatican announced his removal was there any consequence to his public failure to observe the 2002 Dallas Charter requirements or the laws protecting children in Missouri.
To have Bishop Finn preside at ordinations sends a compelling signal to the Faithful of cronyism and coverup, of clerical preference at the expense of a strong commitment to protecting children. Bishop Finn, who by his conviction is no longer legally eligible to teach children, does not embody the qualities needed for leaders and teachers of the faith and surely should not be in the position of ordaining future pastors and spiritual guides.
In the name of abuse survivors and our children and grandchildren, we pray you speak out against this misguided plan to have Bishop Finn confer ordinations. Your message would be a significant demonstration that it’s not “business as usual” for the coverup of child sex abuse. If you fail to act, the message delivered instead is that “courtesy” to bishops matters more to the USCCB than its own promises about protecting children from sex abuse.
Mark Mullaney, President
It was a hail and farewell moment at a tumultuous time for the Roman Catholic Church. More than 200 bishops rose to their feet Monday (Nov. 10) and gave a protracted standing ovation to Cardinal Francis George, a former president of the bishops’ conference, who will step down next week as the archbishop of Chicago …
“There is no bishop who is standing up and being the real leader of a Francis faction,” Father (Thomas) Reese (a Jesuit priest and senior analyst for National Catholic Reporter) said. “They grew up in conservative families, went to conservative seminaries and have been told not to talk to theologians who are creative because they’ve been labeled heretical. Now Francis is saying let’s go in a different direction and let’s have a discussion. The last two pontificates, there was no room for discussion, and this makes them nervous and confused.”
By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Underreported Survey Responses for Synod on the Family a Valuable Tool for Vatican / National Catholic Reporter
Last week, Archbishop Joseph Kurtz of Louisville, Ky., president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, reported on survey responses from U.S. dioceses in preparation for October’s first session of the Synod of Bishops on the family. Kurtz’s report was underwhelming at best …
“There is no real dialogue here, no real listening, only the assumption that Catholics will change their minds if bishops talk louder and longer …
“One large national survey that went mostly unnoticed by the media is worth discussing here because it provided an opportunity for Catholics from anywhere in the U.S. to give feedback, not only those in the 72 U.S. dioceses out of 195 that offered online surveys. Conducted in November and December by 15 progressive Catholic organizations, the survey reports on 16,582 respondents from across the United States …”
By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.
Voice of the Faithful® was among the progressive Catholic organizations supporting this survey.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected new leadership this morning during its assembly, which is being held this week in Baltimore. Here are a couple of stories from National Catholic Reporter, which is covering the assembly:
Earlier today, we posted a link to comments Thomas Reese made in National Catholic Reporter about the upcoming meeting of U.S. bishops, which takes place in Baltimore next week. Reese says he sees disparity between the bishops’ agenda and the direction Pope Francis has said he would like to take the Church and the type of bishops he would like them to be. Now the editorial staff at NCR weighs in on the same topic:
Anyone looking at the published agenda of the meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (see story) would say that an efficient, business-like organization could deal with that in half a day. The published agenda is beyond prosaic: approval of some liturgical translations, an election of officers, some committee reports, and a “presentation for a proposal to develop a formal statement on pornography. (Spoiler alert: They are against porn.)
“There is, it seems, very little action in the bishops’ action items.
“The bishops should quickly deal with this old agenda, and then address the central question facing them: What kind of conference do they want to be?
“Pope Francis has been clear about what he expects of bishops: He has condemned in no uncertain terms clericalism and careerism. One of his earliest statements was that priests — and by extension bishops — should ‘be shepherds with the smell of sheep’ on them. In late October, ordaining two archbishops, Francis told them: ‘Keep in mind that you were selected to serve, not to dominate.'”
Read the rest of NCR’s editorial by clicking here.