Posts Tagged women in the Catholic Church

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Feb. 3, 2023

TOP STORIES

Fordham report faults Jesuits for stressing discretion in handling abusive priests
“Anew report from the Jesuit-run Fordham University on the long-term impacts of clergy sexual abuse criticizes the global Jesuit religious order for placing importance on discretion when handling Catholic priests accused of abuse, instead of on discipline or prevention of further abuse. The report, released Jan. 26, summarizes the findings of 18 research projects that were part of a yearslong effort to better understand clergy abuse.” By Aleja Hertzler-McCain, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis admits mishandling of sex abuse cases, says church must do more
Pope Francis has shed light on the Catholic Church’s handling of sex abuse allegations against East Timor’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning independence hero, suggesting that he indeed was allowed to retire early rather than face prosecution or punishment. Francis made the revelation in a wide-ranging interview Tuesday (Jan. 17) with The Associated Press, in which he also denied he had a role in deciding the case of a famous Jesuit artist whose seemingly preferential treatment cast doubt on the Vatican’s commitment to cracking down on abuse.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

Vatican weighs in on German plan for governing ‘council’ of laity and bishops
“Senior Vatican officials have notified the bishops of Germany that they are not empowered to create a proposed legislative body made up of clergy and laity, which would act as a governing body for the whole Church in the country. ‘We wish to make it clear that neither the Synodal Path, nor any body established by it, nor any Episcopal Conference has the competence to establish the ‘Synodal Council’ at the national, diocesan or parish level,’ a Jan. 16 letter sent to the German bishops explained.” By Luke Coppen and J.D. Flynn, The Pillar

Vatican’s handling of Rupnik case shows church considers women unequal
“The global Jesuit order issued a notice in early December that it had placed restrictions on the ministry of Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik, an internationally known religious artist, after accusations he had abused several adult women. While remaining deliberately vague about the reasons for the move, the Jesuits seemed keen to stress that ‘no minors were involved.’ While the Jesuits and the Vatican’s Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith avoided further comments on the case, some Italian blogs reported that Rupnik, a charismatic star in certain circles, had been accused of spiritually and sexually abusing consecrated women of the Loyola Community, a religious community he had co-founded in Slovenia in the early 1980s.” By Doris Reisinger, National Catholic Reporter

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

‘Confusion, control and abuse’: Report offers new details about Jean Vanier’s secret sect and sexual exploitation
“When revelations emerged nine months after his 2019 death that Jean Vanier — a philosopher, author and activist once deemed a living saint — had sexually and spiritually abused women, his legacy was upended. Now a massive report, released Jan. 30, seeks to untangle and analyze many pieces of the dark and complex story of Vanier’s decadeslong hidden life, highlighting both the extent of abuse and the ‘incredible persistence of a perverse nucleus’ of abusers. Produced by an independent, interdisciplinary commission of French academics, the nearly 900-page report validates the claims of 25 non-disabled women against Vanier, who founded a worldwide organization supporting adults with intellectual disabilities.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Spanish bishops lament low participation in Synod on Synodality, especially by young people
“The Spanish bishops consider ‘synodality to be advancing in our Church’ although they report low participation, especially among young people, to whom the Church must learn to listen and modulate the way of communicating the Gospel, they say. The Spanish Bishops’ Conference has presented the Synthesis for the European Continental Stage of the Synod on Synodality, which will be used in preparing the final document to be taken to the Continental Assembly.” By Catholic News Agency

Each of us must become a synod, says Sr. Nathalie
“‘This is a very special time for the Church and, as you know, we are all together, everywhere in the world, living this Synod now,’ Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ said as she commenced her Australian tour in Melbourne on Tuesday (Jan. 31). The Undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops gave her perspective on synodality, its challenges, and the future of the global Church at a public forum hosted by Newman College in Parkville, in Melbourne’s inner north.” By CathNews.com

The role of bishops in the synodal process
“On the eve of the celebration of the Continental Assemblies, it is with a letter addressed to all the eparchial bishops of the Eastern Catholic Churches and diocesan bishops around the world that the Secretary General of the Synod, Cardinal Mario Grech, and the General Relator of the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, address the topic of the bishop’s role in the ongoing synodal process.” By Cardinal Mario Grech and Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich

Rigid definitions of ‘Catholic’ leave too many out in the cold
“Collectively, it’s led to a sense that the church has to do something about those who walk away and don’t come back. At the global level, Pope Francis has called a synodal listening and discernment process for the whole church slated to run into late 2024. The U.S. bishops have initiated their own call for renewed teaching and understanding of the Eucharist. Beneath the surface of each initiative are foundational questions about who gets to call themselves Catholic, who gets to call anything Catholic, and who even wants to be called Catholic.” By Don Clemmer, U.S. Catholic

POPE FRANCIS

The Anti-Francis Gatekeepers: this January exposed the opposition to Francis
“New Year in Rome, normally a quiet time, is when the Vatican slowly emerges from the post-Christmas shutdown. While keeping one eye on the pope’s address to foreign diplomats, many reporters dare to take time off. In January 2023 that was a bad idea. The passing of Benedict XVI—ninety-five and long ailing—on December 31 was followed by the unexpected death on January 10 of a giant figure of conservative Catholicism, Cardinal George Pell, eighty-one, who had concelebrated Benedict’s funeral just five days earlier. What made this one of the most turbulent months of the past decade was not just these two deaths but what they exposed: the tactics and mindset of a group of conservatives who, smelling the end of the Francis era, are determined to secure its reversal in the next conclave.” By Ausen Ivereigh, Commonweal

Pope Francis recalls a ‘conversion moment’ on abuse
“In a wide ranging interview with the Associated Press, published on January 25, 2023, Pope Francis explained how he had a ‘conversion moment’ on the issue of abuse within the Church during his 2018 trip to Chile. He also commented on two important abuse accusations that have emerged over the last months. The first concerns an East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize-winning Bishop, Carlos Ximenes Belo, and the second a Slovenian Jesuit artist, Father Marko Rupnik, whose paintings are found in churches all over the world.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

Pope discusses his health, critics and future papacy
“Pope Francis says he hasn’t even considered issuing norms to regulate future papal resignations and plans to continue for as long as he can as bishop of Rome, despite a wave of attacks by some top-ranking cardinals and bishops. In his first interview since the Dec. 31 death of retired Pope Benedict XVI, Francis addressed his health, his critics and the next phase of his pontificate, which marks its 10th anniversary in March without Benedict’s shadow in the background.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Pope Francis, between reality and representation
“The news that the French priest and psychiatrist Tony Anatrella has been barred from public life, but not reduced to the lay state, after his final conviction for abuse, has arrived for Pope Francis while the echoes of the Rupnik case have not yet quiet down … Probably, the decisions of Pope Francis must be considered the natural implementation of measures that had already been put in place in the past. Of course, there are new elements, but the line of judgment is the same. Indeed, Pope Francis allows for even more exceptions and is more personal in his decisions.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Monday Vatican

CARDINALS

Prominent Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet denies 2nd allegation of sexual misconduct
“Quebec Cardinal Marc Ouellet is denying allegations of sexual misconduct made against him by a woman in 2020. On Friday (Jan. 20), the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Quebec City confirmed that it had received a second complaint against Ouellet, the former archbishop in the provincial capital. A Vatican investigation was conducted in the wake of the second complaint against Ouellet, but Pope Francis decided ‘not to retain the accusation against the cardinal’ who now serves as head of the Vatican’s bishops’ office.” By CBC News

BISHOPS

Stika told priests accused seminarian was ‘victimized’
“The Pillar has confirmed a recently-made allegation, that Bishop Rick Stika told priests a seminarian accused of sexually assaulting a parish organist had actually been victimized by the organist – essentially recasting the story so that the accused seminarian was the victim, rather than the alleged aggressor. The allegation came in a lawsuit refiled last week, which charges that Stika impeded an investigation into the claim that former seminarian Wojciech Sobczuk sexually assaulted the lawsuit’s plaintiff, who worked as a musician at the Diocese of Knoxville’s cathedral.” By The Pillar

India: Bishops need to be serious about their meetings
“In recent years, the simple church-going Catholics in India, the world’s biggest democracy, have been scandalized by allegations of clerical sex abuse and financial crimes rocking the Catholic Church in India. Will that be a botheration for the bishops as they gather for their annual plenary meeting this week in southern Indian Bangalore city? The growing rift and spirited fight among the bishops, priests, and the laity, some of them involving court cases, have undermined Catholics’ faith in the Church’s self-stabilizing system and exposed to the world the serious lack of leadership in the Indian Catholic Church today.” By Michael Gonsalves, UCANews.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Is there room in the tent?
“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’ … 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.” By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., L’Osservatore Romano

Installing women as lectors, Pope says Word of God is for all
“Pope Francis Sunday (Jan. 22) celebrated a special Mass marking the Day of the Word of God, during which he conferred the ministry of lector on seven lay people, five of them women, and said the Gospel is intended primarily for the sick and far away. Francis formally opened the ministry of lector, along with that of acolyte, to women in a 2021 decree. He established the Day of the Word of God on the third Sunday in ordinary time in 2019. In his homily for the Jan. 22 Mass, the pope noted that Jesus in the scriptures is ‘always on the move, on his way to others.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Australian Catholic groups push for progressive church reforms in wake of George Pell’s death
“A coalition of 20 Catholic groups will this week push for significant reform of the church in Australia to make it more inclusive, saying the conservative stance of the late Cardinal George Pell ‘may have galvanized the mood’ for change. The Australasian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform will gather on Thursday (Feb. 2) – the same day as the funeral planned for Pell at Sydney’s St Mary’s Cathedral – in support of Pope Francis’s commitment to a more inclusive church and less autocratic and patriarchal leadership.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Pope Francis confers lay ministries upon 10 people in St. Peter’s Basilica
“Pope Francis formally conferred the ministries of lector and catechist upon four men and six women from the Philippines, Mexico, Congo, Italy, and the U.K. on Sunday at a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. Celebrating the Sunday of the Word of God on Jan. 22, the pope presented Bibles to three new lectors and said: ‘Receive the book of Holy Scripture and faithfully transmit the Word of God, so that it may germinate and bear fruit in the hearts of men.’’ By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

CHILD PROTECTION

Protecting God’s children
“The approach of Catholic Schools Week gives us an opportunity to revisit the efforts the Archdiocese of Chicago has been taking to keep our children safe. First, we must acknowledge forthrightly the serious mishandling in the past of child abuse in our parishes and schools by clergy and others. The pain caused by these failures is the reason this archdiocese has, for more than 30 years, been at the forefront of creating and continually improving policies and programs to address the scourge of child sexual abuse and support survivors.” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Chicago Catholic

Catholic Church doing opposite of public statements on abuse safeguarding – advocate
“The leader of a network for survivors abused by priests says the Catholic Church’s new promises to change are not genuine. Earlier this week a 10-point statement was issued by NZ Catholic Bishops Conference president Cardinal John Dew, and Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa president, Fr Thomas Rouse … But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests Aotearoa leader, Dr Chris Longhurst, told RNZ: ‘What the bishops and the congregational leaders of the Catholic Church are saying in public is not what’s happening behind closed doors.’” By Radio New Zealand

VATICAN

Vatican to hear final appeal of former pastor removed from St. Matthew Catholic Church
“The legal fight behind the walls of the Vatican over the pastorship of Charlotte’s largest Catholic church has reached its end game. Rev. Patrick Hoare, who was removed as spiritual head of massive St. Matthew Church based on allegations of misconduct involving young people, has filed his final appeal to reverse the 2020 decision by Bishop Peter Jugis of Charlotte. While the Diocese of Charlotte previously has acknowledged that its investigation of Hoare had not revealed any incidents of sexual abuse of young people, his odds of reversing his removal appear small.” By Michael Gordon, The Charlotte Observer

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Where is Mass attendance highest? One country is the clear leader
“A compilation of new data by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University sheds light on the countries around the world that have the highest Mass attendance numbers. CARA researchers used data from the World Values Survey (WVS), a major international study of religious belief that has been conducted for decades, to examine 36 countries with large Catholic populations. Of those countries, the researchers ranked them by the percentage of self-identified Catholics who say they attend Mass weekly or more, excluding weddings, funerals, and baptisms.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

Running the numbers, Africa isn’t the Catholic future – it’s the present
“While Catholicism officially numbers around 1.3 billion adherents worldwide, a good share of that total is fairly nominal. In terms of setting the tone within the church, those who are more active generally punch far above their weight – generating a greater share of vocations to the priesthood and religious life, for instance, as well as various lay roles. In much Catholic parlance, it’s long been said that Africa is the future of the church. Looking at the numbers in terms of who actually shows up, however, Africa isn’t the future. It’s the present, and it has been for a while.” By John L. Allen, Jr, Cruxnow.com

Seattle Archdiocese announces sweeping plan to consolidate parishes
“The Seattle Archdiocese is consolidating parishes in a sweeping plan that will affect virtually every Catholic Church community in Western Washington. In Masses and vigils over the weekend from the Canada to Oregon borders, pastors announced the four-year plan to group two or more parishes together in ‘families’ that will share one priest and one assistant priest. Some churches will likely close or be repurposed for uses such as early learning centers or homeless shelters.” By Nina Shapiro, The Seattle Times

Losing their religion: why U.S. churches are on the decline
“Churches are closing at rapid numbers in the US, researchers say, as congregations dwindle across the country and a younger generation of Americans abandon Christianity altogether – even as faith continues to dominate American politics. As the US adjusts to an increasingly non-religious population, thousands of churches are closing each year in the country – a figure that experts believe may have accelerated since the Covid-19 pandemic.” By Adam Gabbatt, The Guardian

CHURCH FINANCES

$5.4 million altar for Work Youth Day generates controversy in Portugal
“Although Pope Francis hasn’t even formally confirmed his presence yet, the 2023 edition of World Youth Day in Lisbon is already generating controversy over a $5.4 million price-tag for the altar area from which the pontiff is expected to celebrate a closing Mass. Last week Lisbon city officials published details for the massive 54,000-square foot altar and stage area, at a cost of 4.2 million Euro plus VAT, or value-added tax, for a total outlay close to $5.4 million. The contract has been awarded to Portugal’s largest construction company, Mota-Engil.” By Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Is the Vatican clericalist in all the wrong places
“Cardinal Gerhard Müller suggested recently that the Vatican could appoint a layman or woman to serve as Secretary of State, in line with curial reforms issued by Pope Francis last year. The suggestion from the former prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith has been widely taken as either ironic, or as a barbed attempt at humor around the Vatican. But what point was he trying to make? And if the idea of a layperson serving at the top of the Roman curia isn’t to be taken seriously, what does it say about the nature of Francis’ reforms in Praedicate evangelium, the apostolic constitution promulgated last year?” By Ed Condon, The Pillar

VOICES

The Church’s memory problems: trying to reckon with the past—and the present
“One month into 2023, it seems there are fewer comforting pages of Church history to balance out the increasing number of shameful ones. The past five years of Francis’s decade-long pontificate have presented no shortage of difficulties tied to the abuse crisis—from his disastrous trip to Chile in January 2018 to last month’s revelations about Jesuit artist and alleged serial abuser Marko Rupnik. The recent deaths of Benedict XVI and Cardinal George Pell have brought to light further reminders of the unpleasant past; their records on the abuse crisis and Vatican governance are, in different ways, problematic and controversial and unlikely to be settled anytime soon.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Considerations for a Church in crisis
“In terms of its harm and far-reaching effects, the present crisis in the church must be compared with the Reformation and the French Revolution. It is this conviction that brings to my mind the forthright declaration of the Second Vatican Council, Our era needs wisdom more than past ages…. The future of the world is in peril unless wiser men and women are forthcoming (Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the World, No. 15).” Originally published May 27, 2002, by John R. Quinn, retired archbishop of San Francisco who died in 2017

Academic theology needs to be more connected to the church
“The confused sense of purpose in the theology departments at many of our Catholic institutions of higher learning is one of the biggest challenges facing the Catholic Church in the United States. Deconstructionism, with its hostility to the very idea of a canon, and its various post-modern offshoots, have left their mark on theological scholarship, frustrating or making any attempt at a lived connection with the life of the church nonsensical. This is a difficult story to report. Colleagues do not like to complain publicly about each other.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Clerical loss of power – Germany, synodality and the synodal way
“The Roman Catholic Church is in the midst of the greatest church crisis since the Reformation, which is not triggered by the worldwide abuse scandals, but finds a focal point in them … Will uncoordinated processes of ecclesiastical decision-making and reform lead to the self-destruction of the previous Roman Catholic world system? Or can the current disputes between the Vatican and above all the Church in Germany pave the way for a new, more comprehensive ecclesiastical self-understanding?” By Sigrid Grabmeier and Christian Weisner, The Tablet

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Low blow by PA lawmakers: playing politics with kids abuse by clergy, harmed by polluters
“In what only can be described as a low blow (or, more likely, an immoral partisan backroom deal), the Pennsylvania State Legislature seems prepared to use the constitutional amendment dubbed “Marsy’s Law” — meant to guarantee the rights of crime victims’ rights — to also move two other highly contentious amendments related to voter identification and regulatory review. Even my hometown Blair County Republican Representative Jim Gregory said, ‘What they’re trying to do, in my opinion, is use victims as pawns in a political game, and I’m not going to play that.’” By Mitchell Hescox, York Daily Record

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Former nun adds to abuse accusations against prominent Slovenian Jesuit priest
“A Slovenian former nun has come forward to accuse a Jesuit priest once prominent at the Vatican of sexual and psychological abuse, at least the fourth public accuser in a case that has shaken the worldwide religious order. The Italian investigative newspaper Domani, which has been breaking ground on the story for the past few months, on Monday (Jan. 23) published an interview with the woman, who said she was pressured into sexual acts by Father Marko Ivan Rupnik.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

WA lawmakers propose bill requiring clergy to report child abuse, citing InvestigateWest Reporting
“In response to InvestigateWest reporting on Jehovah’s Witnesses covering up allegations of sexual assault, Washington state lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would make clergy mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. Senate Bill 5280, and its companion bill in the state House, would make it illegal for clergy not to report sexual abuse allegations to authorities unless the information came in the form of a confession. Currently, Washington is one of a handful of states in the country that do not list clergy as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect at all.” By Wilson Criscione, InvestigateWest

CALIFORNIA

Santa Rosa priest was accused of child sex abuse by error, plaintiff’s attorney said
“A veteran Sonoma County priest who was named among the perpetrators in a crush of new clergy abuse lawsuits last year has been vindicated by the very man who first accused him. Monsignor James Pulskamp, one-time director of the Hanna Boys Center in the Sonoma Valley, was misidentified by the alleged abuser, the plaintiff’s attorney says. The accuser has since identified his alleged assailant as disgraced Rev. John Crews, who succeeded Pulskamp in 1984 as director of what was then a residential school for at-risk boys.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

COLORADO

Man sues Denver archdiocese over abuse by convicted priest
“A man who says he was repeatedly sexually abused as a teen by his Catholic priest more than two decades ago filed a lawsuit against the now-defrocked priest and the Archdiocese of Denver on Thursday (Jan. 19), taking advantage of a recently passed law that allows victims to sue even if the statute of limitations has expired. The lawsuit targets Timothy Evans, a priest convicted in 2007 of sexually abusing other teens in two Colorado counties around the same time frame.” By Colleen Slevin, Religion News Service

KANSAS

KBI produces what archbishop had requested: a serious study
“On Friday, Jan. 13, in the late afternoon, then-Attorney General Derek Schmidt released a summary report conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) on Catholic clergy abuse in the state of Kansas. The investigation was undertaken on Nov. 15, 2018, after my request to Attorney General Schmidt … I am grateful to the attorney general and the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for the considerable time and resources they devoted to this investigation. They provided what I hoped for: an objective, thorough examination of the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy and the deficiencies of the response by Catholic officials, namely bishops.” By Archbishop Joseph Nauman, The Leaven

Lawmakers, survivors call on Kobach to release names of priests investigated for abuse
“Survivors of sexual abuse are calling on Kansas’ new attorney general, Republican Kris Kobach, to release the names of Catholic priests investigated by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation for perpetrating or ignoring abuse. A coalition of sex abuse survivors, lawmakers and advocates made the plea outside the Johnson County Courthouse weeks after Kansas’ previous attorney general, Republican Derek Schmidt, released a 21-page summary of a multi-year investigation on his last full business day in office.” By Ketie Bernard, The Kansas City Star

KENTUCKY

What we know about the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville investigations and lawsuits
“In the last year, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has been hit with two lawsuits alleging improper investigations into sexual assault complaints. These lawsuits cracked open the inner workings of the diocese. In the course of reporting on the lawsuits, Knox News has published a number of articles detailing different aspects of how the diocese has, and has not, held itself accountable. Here is a look at the findings of Knox News’ investigation.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knoxville News Sentinel

NEW JERSEY

Abuse survivors say Catholic church has failed to disclose hundreds of cases in NJ
“Four years ago, when New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses released a list of 188 clergy who had been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually assaulting children, church leaders vowed that they would continue to update the names as new allegations arose. Cardinal Joseph Tobin, leader of the Newark Archdiocese, wrote that he hoped releasing the names would be ‘an expression of our commitment to protecting our children’ and ‘a new level of transparency in the way we report and respond to allegations.’ But today, Newark’s inventory of 63 credibly accused clerics remains unchanged.” By Deena Yellin and Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK.

New York diocese, abuse victims file competing bankruptcy plans
“A Roman Catholic diocese on Long Island, New York, proposed a bankruptcy plan on Friday (Jan. 27), moving to retake control of its Chapter 11 case after a committee representing sexual abuse victims filed a competing restructuring proposal. The Diocese of Rockville Centre, one of the largest in the United States, said in a statement Friday that the proposed aggregate payment and the payment each abuse victim would receive under its proposed plan are ‘well in excess of any other Diocesan Chapter 11 plan in history.’’ By Dietrich Knauth, Reuters

PENNSYLVANIA

Pa. House leaders are on a listening tour. Sex abuse survivors feel unheard – again
“Before every interview she does, Lara Fortney-McKeever clasps a delicate key-motif bracelet around her wrist — a symbol of the years she and her sisters spent locked in silence about their childhood sexual abuse. Even after the arrest of the parish priest who had groomed and molested Fortney-McKeever and four of her younger sisters, a gag order signed as part of a settlement with the Diocese of Harrisburg prevented them from speaking about it.” By Bethany Rodgers and Bruce Siwy, PhillyBurbs.com

Former priest sentenced to 37 months on child porn charges
“A Roman Catholic priest accused of collecting thousands of child pornography images while serving overseas and then bringing them with him when he returned to the United States has been sentenced to more than three years in federal prison. The Rev. William McCandless, 57, of Wilmington, Delaware, was sentenced Monday in federal court in Easton to 37 months in prison on a conviction of having used his cellphone to try to access pornography featuring underage boys.” By The Associated Press on abcnews.go.com

TENNESSEE

Anti-abuse advocates: diocese’s move to require victim’s name in lawsuit is ‘heartless’
“In an unusual move, the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville won a legal effort to force an alleged rape victim to use his legal name instead of a pseudonym if he wants to continue his lawsuit against the church. The diocese’s push to name the victim alarmed clergy sex abuse advocates across the country. Several told Knox News the maneuver is meant to intimidate the man and scare off those who consider reporting a sexual assault in the future.” By Tyler Whetstone, Knox News

TEXAS

San Antonio priest quietly removed after sexual misconduct investigation
“Fr. Duncan Amek, a Catholic priest from the Archdiocese of San Antonio has been removed from active ministry following an investigation of sexual misconduct involving women and financial impropriety. On May 15, 2019, in St. Ann’s Church, where he had been a deacon for the previous year, Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller, MSpS, ordained Duncan Amek, a native of Homa Bay, Kenya, to the priesthood for the Archdiocese of San Antonio. Amek then went to work for St. Matthew Church and School in San Antonio, Texas.” By Zach Hiner, snapnetwork.org

Pavone was accused of ‘sexual misconduct’ before laicization
“Laicized priest Frank Pavone was accused before his laicization of sexual harassment, grooming behavior, and coercive physical contact with young women, several sources close to the allegations have told The Pillar. The Pillar has learned that at least two reports of misconduct were sent to the Diocese of Amarillo during or before 2010, with additional complaints also likely filed, sources said. Reports involved allegedly inappropriate behavior toward interns and junior employees of Priests for Life, the non-profit organization Pavone has headed since 1993.” By the Pillar

El Paso Diocese sex abuse lawsuit settled
“A settlement on the eve of jury selection in Deming’s Sixth Judicial District Court last week pre-empted a civil trial against the Catholic Diocese of El Paso alleging past sexual abuse by a priest who is now deceased. The trial had been set to begin today (Jan. 24). The plaintiff, identified as John Doe 117 in the 2019 complaint, alleged he was abused during road trips to Deming by Father Pedro Martinez, a priest at the Mt. Carmel parish in El Paso, where the plaintiff also lived at the time.” By Algernon D’Ammassa, Demming Highlight

AFRICA

Pope urged to sanction Congo priest in child sex abuse case
“Kinshasa, DR Congo- Congolese and foreign activists on Monday (Jan. 30) called on Pope Francis to sanction a priest accused of sexually abusing a minor in the Democratic Republic of Congo where he arrives on Tuesday. A girl identified as Marie told reporters by video conference how she was raped nearly two years ago by a priest from the Tshumbe diocese in the center of the country, when, at the age of 14, she was ‘aspiring’ to join the church. Marie said she had informed the church authorities in Congo. Since then, ‘I am not living in safety, everyone around me is under threat,’ she said.” By Agence France-Press in Manila Bulletin

AUSTRALIA

Ex-Vic priest extradited on assault charge
“A former Victorian priest who was jailed for sexually abusing six schoolboys will be extradited to Tasmania to face more indecent assault charges. David Edwin Rapson was in 2015 found guilty of abusing the boys, aged between 11 and 16, at two Victorian boarding schools in the 1970s and 1980s. He was sentenced to 12 years and six months in jail, with a non-parole period of nine years and four months. The Victorian attorney-general office on Monday (Jan. 30) lodged an application in Melbourne Magistrates Court, requesting Rapson be extradited to Tasmania.” By Australian Associated Press on YahooNews.com

‘Tip of the iceberg’: hundreds of victims allege sexual abuse at Victorian state school
“Almost 400 civil claims have been made against the Victorian government for historical child sexual abuse in state schools in the past 12 years, with more than half settled out of court, documents obtained under freedom of information laws show. Since 2010, 381 claims have been made for abuse that occurred in Victorian state educational settings between 1960 and 2018, including primary and secondary schools, specialist schools, early learning centers and after-school care.” By Benita Kolovos, The Guardian

CANADA

Court rules on Mt. Cashel settlement for abuse cases
“A Jan. 12 decision by the Newfoundland Labrador Supreme Court is expected to solidify and focus the compensation claims process for the victims of abuse at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s in the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s. Geoff Budden, a lawyer for the claimants, told The Catholic Register that while ‘it isn’t the process that we advocated, it is a process we are fine with.’ ‘The court wrote that from our four representative plaintiffs, we’d get insights that would perhaps lead to resolutions for the other plaintiffs. The claims officer, he or she, could take these decisions as sample guidance to help determine the rewards for the balance of the claims,’ said Budden.” By Quinton Amundson, The Catholic Register

Canada to pay Indigenous abuse survivors more than $2bn
“Canada will pay hundreds of Indigenous communities more than $2 billion in compensation for nearly a century of abuse suffered by children in residential schools, its government has announced. The Can$2.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) settlement, the result of a class action lawsuit by 325 Indigenous groups, will be placed in a not-for-profit trust independent of the government. It will be used to ‘revitalize Indigenous education, culture, and language -– to support survivors in healing and reconnecting with their heritage,’ according to a press release.” By France24.com

FRANCE

‘We want justice’: Victims of sexual abuse by French Catholic Church seek financial compensation
“On 5 October 2021, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the French Catholic Church published its report. Its revelations were chilling. From 1950 to 2020, no less than 330,000 minors were victims of sexual abuse by clerics or laypersons within the Church. In response, two independent bodies were created to deal with reparations: The National Body for Recognition and Reparation, and the Commission for Recognition and Reparation. More than a year later, have the victims been able to find peace? Far from it, says Nancy Couturier.” By Johan Bodinier, Euronews.com

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND AND WALES

Peterborough Catholic priest, 74, accused of abusing children
“A 74-year-old Catholic priest has gone on trial accused of sexually abusing two children in the 1980s. Dennis Finbow, who had worked in Dogsthorpe in Peterborough, faces six counts of indecently assaulting a boy and girl aged between 10 and 13. The trial at Huntingdon Crown Court heard the prosecution say that the defendant had touched the girl while she was in bed.”

 By BBC News

Shamed Glasgow priest convicted of sexually abusing girls
“A shamed priest was convicted today (Jan. 20) of sexually abusing four girls. Father Neil McGarrity, 68, preyed on his victims at two churches in Glasgow as well as his parish home in the city. McGarrity played ‘footsie’ under the table with one of the girls and was caught in a ‘prolonged embrace’ with another. The priest of 33 years, from the city’s Maryhill, also touched and rubbed the girls with one victim claiming he hugged her while sat on a couch.” By Connor Gordon, The Scotland Herald

Exclusive: bishop reported to police for abuse as Vatican probes lockdown sex parties
“Bishop Robert Byrne has been reported to the police following an allegation of abuse made against him by a Catholic priest, the Catholic Herald can reveal. The Oratorian stepped down as Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle in December – almost a decade before he was due to retire – saying that the demands of his office were ‘too great a burden.’ Last week, however, the Vatican’s Congregation of Bishops launched an investigation for ‘an in-depth report into the events leading up to Bishop Byrne’s resignation”’ which will be overseen by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon of Liverpool.” By Simon Caldwell, Catholic Herald

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Spiritans told abuse survivor (74) they would deny everything and ‘get him’ for costs
“A survivor of abuse at a school run by the Spiritan congregation in south Dublin was told they would deny all allegations against them, force the case to a higher court and ‘get him’ for costs. Dr John Connolly (74) says he went to the Spiritan congregation in recent years with allegations of his abuse as a child in 1958 by the late principal Fr Robert Stanley (‘Stanno’) at their Willow Park school in Blackrock. However, Dr Connolly ended up in the Round Hall of the Four Courts in Dublin where he was told ‘they would not only deny everything but force it to a higher court and get me for costs [range €40,000-€80,000].’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

PHILIPPINES

Philippine Church must let the law take its own course
“Pope Francis has forbidden attempts to obstruct justice and asks to turn over clerical child abusers to civil authorities. The institutional Church in the Philippines has never had a priest jailed for child sexual abuse so far because as Cardinal Antonio Tagle told the BBC’s Hardtalk TV program, it was an internal affair handled by Church authorities. That policy is now changing as Pope Francis and the Vatican have forbidden such handling. The days of impunity are past. Or are they?” By UCSNews.com

Prosecutors, children win convictions of sex abusers
“It is a happy day when I can write about victories and convictions. Prosecutors are fighting hard for child rights and are winning important convictions. Judges, too, believe testimonies of children with horrifying accounts of multiple rape and sexual assault by biological fathers, grandfathers, brothers, uncles and Catholic priests. These are great victories for those who hunger or thirst for justice and have had their fill.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times

SPAIN

How is Spain facing up to its Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal
“For a long time, Fernando Garciá-Salmones found it hard to accept his own reflection in the mirror. When he was a schoolboy, aged just 14, a priest named José María Pita da Veiga began to sexually abuse him. Fernando says, ‘the vulture made the little mouse feel guilty.’ ‘The priest came to me one rainy day and asked me to go upstairs to dry off in his room and that’s when it started,’ he said.” By Carlos Marlasca, EuroNews.com

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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

Jan. 20, 2023

TOP STORIES

Hierarchy’s sacramental betrayal in abuse scandal obstructs synodality
“What I eventually came to understand about the scandal affected not only my career … It would also ultimately place in question much of what I knew and understood about the church. What transpired regarding the scandal in the more than 35 years since that phone conversation continues to be the dominant lens through which I view developments in the church, including the synodal process underway. I agree with theologian Massimo Faggioli and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who wrote recently in this space: ‘It must be understood that the chances of the synodal process that will soon begin its continental phase are closely tied to what the Catholic Church is doing and not doing on the abuse crisis. It’s about the abuse crisis even when it’s not explicitly about the abuse crisis.’” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

The life and complicated legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at 95 on Saturday (Dec. 31), leaving behind a complicated legacdy and a lasting impact on Catholics across the globe. Margaret Roylance, vice president of Voice of the Faithful – a lay group that supports survivors of clergy sexual abuse – and Thomas Groome, professor of theology & religious education at Boston College, spoke to Liz Neisloss about the positive changes the late pope made within the Church, as well as the darker periods of his papacy.” By WGBH-TV News

Exclusive: Vatican must treat abuse victims better, pope’s lead investigator says
“Pope Francis’ lead clergy abuse investigator has acknowledged survivors’ frustrations with the Vatican’s strict culture of secrecy about Catholic bishops accused of misconduct or cover-up. Victims who bring a claim forward have a right to know how it is handled, said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna. In a National Catholic Reporter interview, Scicluna admitted the Vatican is not at what he termed ‘an optimal point’ with regard to how it follows up with abuse victims, calling the matter ‘something that needs to be developed.’” By Joshua J.McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Traditionalists, reform and women
“As the Catholic Synod on Synodality enters its ‘continental phase,’ some have wondered if the church is moving toward Vatican Three. Of course, there are still fights going on about Vatican Two. Not long ago, Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, said the current synod would lead ‘to a new reception of the Second Vatican Council,’ allowing the reforms of the mid-1960s to finally take hold. A small but vocal cadre of Catholics fears that precise possibility, which they caricature as a church overrun with bad liturgy, bad moral theology and guitar music.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

Women and the Church
“We should not forget Sarah, but rather, we should remember her more than we do, and recognize her role in salvation history was at least equal to Abraham’s. What has happened to Sarah, the way we tend to forget about her and think only of Abraham, shows how easy it is for us to ignore the role women have played in salvation history. We must not think this is a problem only for those women born before Christ, for if we look at Christian history, it is clear that the role Christian women have played in history has been marginalized or forgotten, just like it was for their pre-Christian counterparts.” By Henry Karlson, Patheos

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

Diocese again receives high grade in annual VOTF report
“In the recent 2022 financial transparency report by the Voice of the Faithful, a national lay organization of Catholics that formed after the revelations of clerical sexual abuse in 2002, the Fall River Diocese was again ranked among the top dioceses belonging to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For the second consecutive year the diocese earned a score of 92 out of 100 points. The report is based on a review of 177 dioceses across the country. The review was done last summer by a team of independent reviewers, with results published on November 30. The average score for the 177 dioceses surveyed was 70 (up from 69 last year).” By Anchor News of the Diocese of Fall River

McCarrick’s lawyers say he’s not competent to stand trial
“Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in ‘significant’ mental decline and may not be fit to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, his attorneys say in a new court filing. The legal team for the 92-year-old ex-prelate said it plans to file a motion to dismiss the case, citing a neurological exam conducted by Dr. David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The exam took place on Dec. 5, 2022, at a facility in Missouri where McCarrick is living.” By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Pope Francis: synodal journey ‘a challenge and task’ for American seminarians
“Pope Francis told American seminarians in Rome that they are called to take up the ‘challenge and task’ of the synodal journey — of listening to the Holy Spirit and to one another — as they study to become priests. The pope met with students, staff, and faculty of the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican on the morning of Jan. 14. ‘Your time here in Rome,’ he said, ‘coincides with the synodal journey that the whole Church is presently undertaking, a journey that involves listening, to the Holy Spirit and to one another, in order to discern how to help God’s holy people live his gift of communion and become missionary disciples.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Church in Oceania prepares response to Synod of Bishops report
“The rich diversity of the Catholic Church across Oceania, as well as its unity, was evident during a meeting in Melbourne last week of representatives of the region’s four bishops conferences and Eastern Catholic churches. More than 20 people from across the Pacific gathered to reflect on and respond to the Working Document for the Continental Stage released by the Synod of Bishops Secretariat, titled Enlarge the Space of Your Tent. The discernment and writing group was convened to prepare a draft report from Oceania to be considered at next month’s assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) in Fiji.” By Catholic Outlook, News from the Diocese of Parramatta

Synod on Synodality: ‘great moment of ecclesial communion’: Catholic bishops in CAR
“The ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality offer an opportunity for ‘ecclesial communion’ among the people of God in the Central African Republic (CAR), Catholic Bishops in the country have said. In a statement issued Sunday, Jan. 15, members of the Central African Episcopal Conference (CECA) say the synodal process has helped the Church in CAR to seek a new beginning in Christ.” By Jude Atemanke, aciafrica.org

If taken seriously, the synodal process could transform race relations in the U.S. church
“Since our nation’s origin, color and race have crippled the quest for equality. The racial gap that many believed was narrowing has abruptly widened. White backlash to eight years of a Black president, police and vigilante killings of unarmed Blacks, the cumulative impacts of mass incarceration, disparities in health care, job opportunities, home financing, school suspensions, criminal justice sentences and other inequities confirm the 1968 Kerner Commission finding that America is two unequal societies.” By Daryl Grigsby, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis reorganizes Diocese of Rome in face of ‘epochal change’
“Pope Francis on Friday Jan. 6) issued a document reorganizing the Vicariate of Rome in what he called a time of ‘epochal change.’ The apostolic constitution, In Ecclesiarum Communione, replaces a 1998 constitution promulgated by Pope John Paul II. It goes into effect on Jan. 31. ‘In arranging this new Constitution for the Vicariate,’ Francis wrote in the preface, ‘in the face of an ‘epochal change’ that involves everything and everyone, I hope that it will be primarily an exemplary place of communion, dialogue and proximity, welcoming and transparent, at the service of the renewal and pastoral growth of the Diocese of Rome, an evangelizing community, a synodal Church, a people which credibly witness to God’s mercy.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Register

Benedict’s burial leaves Francis alone, and unbound
“Since the first day of his papacy nearly a decade ago, Pope Francis has had to navigate an unprecedented complication in the Roman Catholic Church: coexisting with his retired predecessor in the same Vatican gardens. Supporters of Francis studiously played down the two-pontiff anomaly, but it generated confusion, especially when conservative acolytes of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sought to wrap their fervent opposition in their leader’s white robes.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

CARDINALS

George Pell, cardinal whose abuse conviction was overturned, dies at 81
“Cardinal George Pell, an Australian cleric and adviser to Pope Francis who became the most senior Roman Catholic prelate to be sent to prison for child sexual abuse and was later acquitted of all charges, died on Tuesday (Jan. 10) in Rome. He was 81 … Cardinal Pell was for decades one of Australia’s most powerful religious figures. A former athlete with a formidable intellect and a combative streak, he was a conservative voice heard regularly in the media, opposing abortion while defending the church against accusations of child abuse as the archbishop of the Melbourne diocese and then the Sydney diocese.” By Natasha Frost and Damien Cave, The New York Times

Woman accusing prominent cardinal of sexual misconduct reveals identity
“The woman who alleges she experienced unwanted sexual touching by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet has revealed her identity, saying she wants more transparency from the Vatican and to encourage others to come forward with their stories of abuse. Paméla Groleau is one of the more than 130 people taking part in a class action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec, which includes allegations of sexual misconduct against 96 members of its clergy dating back to 1940.” By CBC News

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

LCWR leaders talk about unprecedented transformation of religious life
“The biggest issues in religious life in the United States today all revolve around the transformation it is undergoing, say leaders of the organization representing about two-thirds of the country’s Catholic sisters. That was the focus of an hourlong interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2022, during a GSR staff ‘summit’ at the National Catholic Reporter offices.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

For 2023, USIG officers prioritize the synodal journey and a ‘culture of care’
“Catholic sisters are looking both deeply outward and deeply inward — affirming both ministries to help heal a broken world and accompanying people on their spiritual journeys. Those are among the takeaways from a nearly 90-minute interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at National Catholic Reporter offices in Kansas City, Missouri.” By Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Dolores Curran had the shocking idea that laity might lead the Catholic Church
“With a peal of laughter, the dynamic, groundbreaking Dolores Curran arrived in heaven on Dec. 4. At a time when the U.S. Catholic Church was dominated by priests and religious, she introduced the then-shocking notion that the laity might also play a part. In her groundbreaking 1985 book “Who, Me Teach My Child Religion?” she suggested the home was an arena for spirituality and that parents just might find God there. She taught that the sacred work of relationships doesn’t happen only at church or on retreat, but in kitchens, garages and bedrooms.” By Kathy Coffey, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Safeguarding requires experts, survivors, support, cardinal says
There can be no improvising or going it alone when it comes to preventing and handling cases of abuse in the Catholic Church, said U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Everything must be considered with an accusation: ‘the rights of victim, the rights of the accused, the civil authorities, the church, the parish, the families’ and more, the cardinal told Catholic News Service in Rome Jan. 6.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicReview.org

VATICAN

French priest restricted, not defrocked, after abuse claims
“The Vatican has ordered a prominent French priest who advised the Holy See for years on matters of sex and homosexuality to cease his psychotherapy practice following allegations he sexually abused men in his therapeutic care. But the Vatican didn’t defrock or otherwise sanction the Rev. Tony Anatrella despite several well-documented complaints against him, in further evidence of the Holy See’s reluctance to invoke harsh measures to punish priests who abuse adults.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The legacy of Cardinal George Pell: Is it what the church needs now?
“Cardinal George Pell, who died this week as a result of complications related to hip surgery, was the poster boy for Pope John Paul II’s ‘heroic priesthood,’ a discernible type of prelate that was common throughout the 20th century. Conspicuous, forceful, determined, dismissive toward contrary opinions, he was a polarizing figure convinced of the need to risk polarization in order to defend the church’s teachings.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

More Americans stay away from church as pandemic nears year three
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every congregation in the United States shut down, at least for a while. For some Americans, that was the push they needed to never come back to church. A new report, which looked at in-person worship attendance patterns before the beginning of the pandemic and in 2022, found that a third of those surveyed never attend worship services. That’s up from 25% before the start of the pandemic.” By Bob Smietana, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Diane Langberg on church leaders and abuse: ‘We have utterly failed God’
“Not long after Diane Langberg began working as a clinical psychologist in the 1970s, a client told her that she had been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Not sure of what to do, Langberg went to talk to her supervisor. The supervisor, Langberg recalled, dismissed the allegations. ‘He told me that women make these things up,’ Langberg said. ‘My job was to not be taken in by them.’ The supervisor’s response left Langberg in a dilemma. Did she believe her client? Or did she trust her supervisor’s advice?” By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service

Benedict XVI’s quiet exit at odds with his lasting imprint on the pontificate
“Some popes go out with a bang. The announcement of Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005 reverberated around the world, and in Rome, locals will tell you that his funeral was the biggest one in memory: Cars were abandoned mid-traffic, as mobs rushed toward St. Peter’s Basilica. An estimated 3 million faithful lined up for hours on end to glimpse John Paul’s casket. By comparison, the news of Benedict XVI’s death, delivered on New Year’s Eve, was met with an unmistakable air of quiet.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Survivors of sexual abuse plead for changes in Kansas law that protects pedophiles
“Four survivors of childhood sexual abuse revealed details about the worst moments of their lives in a public rebuke of state law that protects pedophiles from criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits. Backed by a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers, the women emphasized that it can take years before a survivor accepts what happened and is willing to talk about it. Most people who are victimized as children won’t share their experiences until they are over age 50. Kansas state law requires requires survivors to file a civil lawsuit by age 21.” By Shermin Smith, Louisiana Illuminator

New Pa. speaker wants ‘work group’ after slow session start
“A week after he was a surprise choice to become speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Monday (Jan. 9) canceled sessions for the rest of the week after failing to reach a deal on his primary legislative priority. Lawmakers were brought to the Capitol for a hastily called special session designed to speed passage of a two-year window for letting some victims of child sexual abuse file otherwise outdated lawsuits.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Child sex abuse is ‘soul murder.’ Massachusetts should lift the statute of limitations
“A recent change in Maine law has given people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s a chance to seek justice, at long last, for the sex abuse they endured as children. The measure retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in these cases, allowing victims to seek restitution from the churches and summer camps and Boy Scout troops that had failed them so grievously decades ago. Robert Dupuis, 73, is among those who have filed suit since the law changed.” By The Boston Globe Editorial Board

Part 2: Law could eliminate statute of limitations in civil cases involving sexual assault
“Churches across the country, including Corpus Christi, have survivors of sexual abuse by priests asking for information about their alleged assailant. Patrick Wilkes has requested secret files on his father, James Wilkes, who was a priest in Corpus Christi but he said they have not been provided. He also said his father sexually abused him, his siblings and others.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Archbishop Scicluna defends Benedict XVI’s efforts to fight abuse
“Benedict XVI’s passing has reignited talk about how adequately he addressed sexual abuse in the Church. From being the first Pontiff to meet with abuse victims, to taking action against powerful and guilty priests, to being accused of mismanaging cases in his diocese when he was a bishop in Germany, the Pope Emeritus left a mixed record, according to many observers. However, the Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, has instead strongly defended the Pope Emeritus’ efforts in various statements published by multiple media outlets.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

How might the latest George Pell coverage affect child sexual abuse survivors?
“You might have wondered if the recent death of George Pell, who was jailed in 2019 for child sexual abuse and then later acquitted, would bring a sense of relief or closure for victim survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. After all, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found Pell had failed to do enough during his time in senior church roles in Australia to stop priests who abused children.” By The Conversation

CALIFORNIA

‘Just find the truth’: How ex-FBI aagents help the LA Archdiocese vet accusations
“For 25 years, Marty Gallagher tracked down kidnappers, investigated government fraud and foreign counterintelligence, and in one case even helped send a young military contractor to prison for espionage. After retiring from his post as a Los Angeles-based FBI agent in 1988, he spent time in the private sector … Then, in the 2000s, he discovered a new calling that asked for his talents and experience: helping the Catholic Church investigate allegations of clerical sexual abuse, part of a crisis that was then shaking the institution to its core.” By Tom Hoffarth and Pablo Kay, Angelus News

KANSAS

Kansas clergy not mandatory reporters for child sex crimes
“Following a KBI report involving child sexual abuse by Catholic Clergy in Kansas, the KSHB 41 I-Team has been digging into allegations made in the past, as well as examining possible solutions to prevent this type of abuse in the future. And, what we’re hearing from some critics, is that not enough is being done to ensure these crimes are reported.” By Caitlin Knute, KSHB-TV41 News

Victims’ attorney reacts to KBI report detailing child abuse by Catholic clergy in Kansas
“The 21-page report details what KBI calls an immense investigation. It has a scope of more than 50 years, looking into all four archdioceses of Kansas. During the four-year investigation, KBI’s Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Task Force identified more than 400 victims, opened 125 criminal cases and investigated nearly 200 clergy members. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, recommended this investigation to the Attorney General’s Office in November 2018. On Saturday (Jan. 7), they released a statement in response to the report — saying you cannot read it without your heart breaking.” By Peyton Headlee, KMBC-TV9 News

MAINE

Suit alleges sexual abuse at religious retreats in Bucksport and Bar Harbor decades ago
“An unnamed Oregon woman, ‘Jane Doe,’ who lived in a Catholic orphanage in Massachusetts in the 1950s, has filed a federal civil suit against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate alleging sexual abuse by priests during Oblate-run retreats in Bar Harbor and Bucksport when she was a young child … The Maine Legislature in June of 2021 lifted a statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases, which is allowing the case of “Jane Doe” and a dozen others to move through the Maine civil court system.” By Jennifer Osborn, The Ellsworth American

Lawsuit alleges Bangor Catholic priest sexually assaulted woman in 1970s
“Another lawsuit has been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging sexual abuse. Mary Banks, a former Cumberland resident, alleges former priest Renal C. Halle at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor sexually assaulted her while she was a member of the diocese’s youth organization, according to the Portland Press Herald. The lawsuit includes seven counts, including sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” By CBS-TV13 News

Decades-old abuse claims against Portland diocese, once blocked, pour in after state law change
“When the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino allegedly sexually abused a 6-year-old Ann Marie Burke at St. Peter Parish nearly 60 years ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland already was aware of at least one other girl Sabatino had reportedly abused at a different church in Lewiston several years earlier. The church moved Sabatino from Lewiston to Portland in 1958, after 6-year-old Patricia Butkowski‘s parents presented church officials with evidence the priest had sexually abused their daughter, a report from the Maine Attorney General’s office revealed 46 years later.” By Emily Allen and eric Russell, Portland Pess Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

Abuse victim speaks out
“The priest who sexually abused David Rigby in 1976 said he was giving the young student a medical exam. ‘As a naive, 14-year-old boy I didn’t realize that priests with no medical qualifications don’t have the right to give a medical exam to anybody,’ Rigby said Monday (Jan. 9). He was speaking on a corner in Andover across from St. Augustine Parish, where he was accompanied by Robert Hoatson of Road to Recovery, a charity that assists victims of sexual abuse. Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston attorney who represents clergy sex abuse victims, was present on Zoom. He said he earned a low, six-figure settlement a month ago for Rigby’s abuse and that of one other boy at the hands of the priest, Robert Turnbull.” By Will Broaddus, The Eagle-Tribune

MISSOURI

Former St. Louis priest sentenced to prison for thousands of child porn images
“A former Catholic priest was sentenced Tuesday (Jan. 10) to five years in prison after admitting to possessing thousands of pieces of child pornography and putting them into PowerPoints that he edited over the course of more than a decade. Father James Beighlie, 72, was a Vincentian priest who most recently served as an associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis. He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of possession of child pornography. In exchange, prosecutors recommended he receive a prison sentence within a federal guideline range of just over seven years in prison.” By Katie Kull, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

How much will Pa. have to pay for child sex abuse claims if lawsuit window is opened up?
“As state lawmakers decide the political costs of opening a two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to sue, much of the debate about the two-year window for those past the statute of limitations has been about the potential financial impact on the catholic church over the egregious abuse claims outlined in those grand jury reports. But that proposal would open the door for all adult victims of child sexual abuse, and a new study shows how much that could ultimately cost taxpayers.” By WJAC-TV21 News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic priest who formerly served in Charleston indicted on federal sex abuse charges
“Federal prosecutors charged a Catholic priest who served for several years in the Charleston Diocese with sexually abusing an 11-year-old child. Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, 68, was arrested Nov. 28, 2022, in Florida, court records show. The Chilean national had worked in South Carolina as a visiting priest of the Diocese of San Bernardo, Chile, between 2015 and 2020, according to church records. Prosecutors charged him in an October 2022 indictment with three counts of sexual crimes: coercion or enticement of a minor; transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and aggravated sexual abuse of children.” By Jocelyn Grzeszczak, The Post and Courier

TEXAS

Six investigates obtains secret documents held by the Diocese of Corpus Christi
“The history of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church is widely documented. Locally, there are at least 12 pending civil cases against the Diocese of Corpus Christi. 6 Investigates obtained secret documents from the Diocese of Corpus Christi, which showed the steps they took, or didn’t take, when dealing with accusations against a local priest.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

VERMONT

Vermont lawmaker to seek to close clergy reporting exemption
“The head of the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s going to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to close an exemption to the state’s child abuse and neglect reporting laws for members of the clergy. Democratic Sen. Richard Sears of Bennington says he was unaware that the Vermont law requiring members of a number of professions, including doctors, teachers, social workers and the clergy, to report abuse if they become aware of it contains an exemption for members of the clergy if they become aware of abuse during a setting that is considered privileged, such as during confession.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Former altar boy’s father to press on with abuse case against Pell
“The father of a former altar boy will press ahead with legal action against Cardinal George Pell’s estate over the alleged sexual abuse of his son, his lawyers said Wednesday (Jan. 11). Shine Lawyers said they would continue to pursue the claim against any estate left by the cardinal, who died Tuesday in Rome. The former altar boy died in 2014, and his father — who has not been identified — filed the claim against Pell and the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 2021.” By Agence France-Presse, on UCANews.com

CANADA

French demonstrators demand extradition of retired priest accused of abusing Inuit children
“The French government denied Canada’s extradition request for Johannes Rivoire last fall. ‘For us as French citizen[s], it’s a real shame that our government refuses to make part of justice for Inuit people,’ said Amandine Sanvisens, who was among the demonstrators. ‘We wanted to show and to put the light on this place where he lives.’ The allegations against Rivoire stem from his time working as an Oblate priest in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s.” By CBC News

CHILE

‘Blanquita’ turns real-life case of child abuse into indictment of injustice
“In spite of her youth, Blanquita (Laura López) knows she doesn’t want to be a saint. She’s tried it before, she says, and it didn’t work out. By age 18, she’s seen enough of life’s darkest side to know being good doesn’t mean she’ll be treated justly. She has spent her life living under a care system that’s failed to care for her when she needed it most, allowing men to abuse and exploit her in myriad ways. All she wants now is a place to live with her baby daughter, the identity of the father anyone’s guess considering she’s been sexually abused repeatedly and forced to engage in sex work in order to survive.” By Jose Solis, National Catholic Reporter

FRANCE

Former archbishop of Paris under investigation for sexual assault is ‘outraged but serene’
“The former archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, is reportedly under preliminary investigation for sexual assault on a vulnerable person, according to a report from the Archdiocese of Paris in late November 2022, French news channel BFMTV reported. According to the TV channel’s report, the allegations date back to 2011 and concern a vulnerable former parishioner, subject to a judicial protection measure. Aupetit is suspected of having exchanged sexual emails with this parishioner, who suffers from a “slight mental deficiency.” By Solène Tadié, Catholic News Agency

GERMANY

Catholic Church: one year Munich abuse report
“Many who were abused by Catholic clergymen as children or young people find that too little has happened. One of them is Rolf Fahnenbruck, who experienced severe sexualized violence as a child in the diocese of Essen and now lives in the diocese of Passau. He is the spokesman for the local Advisory Board. So far, he has been compensated for his suffering with 25,000 euros. But it’s not about the money, he says in an interview BR24. Because even with the performance notice, a person affected by abuse is alone again with his problem.” By David Sadler Globe Echo World News

INDIA

Vatican replaces Indian bishop accused of serious crimes
“An Indian Catholic bishop probed by a Vatican-appointed team of bishops for alleged involvement in serious crimes like murder, rape and misappropriation of church funds, has been ordered to ‘take a period of absence from the ministry.’ Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore (now Mysuru) has been replaced by retired Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore as apostolic administrator of southern India’s Karnataka state.” By UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Spiritan scandal: ‘Why was Fr. Arthur Carragher moved to Canads, where he was free to abuse my 10-year-old brother?
“Pete Fischer was standing in a queue at the supermarket when the call came that turned everything he knew, or thought he knew, about his older brother Jeff on its head. It was August 2018. The Pope’s visit to Ireland was making international headlines. An Irish man was interviewed on Canadian television about the sexual abuse he’d suffered as a child in Dublin at the hands of a priest called Fr Arthur Carragher, who was later shunted off to Canada.” By Maeve Sheehan, Independent.ie

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand church leaders make commitments to abuse survivors
“The bishops and the leaders of religious orders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have published a statement of commitments adopted in response to the continuing work of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. The statement is signed by Fr Thomas Rouse SSC, President of the Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Cardinal John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, on behalf of their respective members. The set of 10 commitments – along with others previously made – will become part of what the Church calls the ‘Tautoko Roadmap’ for the path the Church is taking in response to the royal commission and the wishes of abuse survivors.” By CathNews.com

PHILIPPINES

Old clerical abuse habits die hard in the Philippines
One serious case shows how some Church authorities still look to cover up sex attacks on minors—The many incidents of child sexual abuse by predator priests have shamed thousands of good bishops and benevolent clerics who have been justly angered by the rampant salacious acts of their fellow pedophile priests and in some cases by high-profile bishops and high-ranking cardinals. They feel helpless when their bishop protects the abuser priest and calls him ‘his son.’ They long for justice for the victims and wish to exonerate their own vocation and the blemished priesthood from the tyranny of abuser priests.” By UCANews.com

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The church with no faith in its women / The Sydney Morning Herald

It does seem to beggar belief that, shortly after a census revealed that Australians are abandoning the institutional churches in droves – for reasons including the exclusion of women from leadership, along with sex abuse scandals, irrelevance and treatment of LGBTQI people – that a group of bishops could so readily dismiss a simple, plaintive motion asking women be heard.

By Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald

“‘Embarrassing. Shocking. Scandalous and absolutely unacceptable.’ The 86-year-old Benedictine nun Sister Joan Chittister was in bed this week – recovering from a bout of COVID – when she read that the plenary council of the Australian Catholic Church had refused to pass two pretty gentle, anodyne motions supporting women in positions of leadership in the church. It felt like ‘a red hot poker’ ran through her.

“Sister Joan, a best-selling American author of more than 50 books, has a large, devoted progressive global following and a profile rare for a nun, being interviewed by Oprah and appearing on Meet the Press. She has spent the past few weeks touring Australia to packed audiences, speaking about the need for renewal in the church, and the need for leaders to listen.

“But after the meeting of the plenary council – the highest formal gathering of all local churches and the first in Australia since 1937 – she called me in a state of flaming indignation: ‘The proof is in. You needn’t wear yourself out trying to convince women that the church really appreciates them, their work, their presence, their talents. They know now – right out of the mouth of the episcopacy that voted against them.’

“So what were these motions the bishops dared not approve?”

By Julia Baird, The Sydney Morning Herald — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful at 20: Women’s Voices

By Svea Fraser, VOTF trustee and chair of Women’s Emerging Voices

Listen. Can you hear the sound of voices getting louder in support of women’s roles in the Church?

For 20 years VOTF has championed the change for women to be fully recognized as equals in the Church. We took advantage of every opportunity to raise awareness of the needs that would be better met when women have a place at the table. Resources on the website included articles, papers, videos, cards, templates for letter writing and books. One book in particular gave us a laser focus for our ongoing efforts.

The groundbreaking work of theologian Dr. Phyllis Zagano published in the book Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (by Gary Macy, Phyllis Zagano and William T. Ditewig) was a wakeup call for many of us. A free study guide made it possible to hold group discussion groups across the country. We learned things we never knew about women deacons in our faith tradition. Two points were of great significance:

  1. Women ministered as deacons in the past.
  2. The permanent order of deacons is clearly distinct from priestly ordination.

With increasing awareness, we began discussing women deacons at webinars, at lectures, and among networking groups. Women began to ask the question, “What can we do?” Our VOTF Women’s Working Group invited others from across the continent to advocate for women and ultimately formed an “advocacy network.” Invested in our faith communities and ministering in diaconal ways, we were buoyed by others who shared our pains and hopes for inclusion. As we shared these stories, we changed the working group title from “Women’s Roles” to “Women’s Emerging Voices” to better reflect our work.

At the same time, other voices were rising in support of women and their status in the Church: at the meeting of the International Union of Superiors General, at the Amazonian Synod, and in a papal-appointed Commission to study the issue.

In Durham, N.C., another voice also attracted our attention. That was the voice of Casey Stanton, the mother of two young children and holder of a Master of Divinity degree with a certificate in prison studies. When Casey encountered incarcerated women in her prison ministry, she came face to face with the reality of abuse and violence leveled against women.

During Mass one day, Casey made a connection: Because only men preach and preside at Mass, could the implicit message that men are more important than women contribute to their treatment as “less than”? What does our Catholic Liturgy say about women?

Casey wondered if other women wrestled with the same issue, and if they shared her strong vocational desire to preach the Gospel. She initiated conversations to find out. Each individual encounter affirmed that she was not alone. Also affirmed was a feeling that women’s stories needed to be told. From this grew a desire for a liturgical service to engage others in praying and sharing and listening together.

Saint Phoebe’s Feast Day on September third provided an ideal opportunity for a Virtual Prayer Service. Phoebe is the only person named a deacon (in Greek) in the New Testament, yet she was unknown to many of us. Her name is unspoken because the passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 16:1-2 is excluded from both Sunday and weekly lectionary cycles. Saint Phoebe also suffers the indignity of her Feast Day having been replaced by Pope Gregory I.

The first prayer service attracted 500 participants. Four women spoke of their heartfelt callings to minister as deacons, and their deeply felt emotions brought tears of recognition. The experience set hearts on fire.

Thus emerged a movement, a defined mission, and an informative website was created, under the name Discerning Deacons.

VOTF found common ground with Discerning Deacons: Our goals and mission statements harmonized. We joined in collaboration and mutual support. VOTF’s “advocacy network” began to call itself a “Deacon Circle.”

The success and spirited activity that followed is a testament to the power of prayer, the value of story-telling, the dedication of faithful disciples, and the overarching belief that the Holy Spirit will not deny what the Church needs.

The second Virtual St. Phoebe Prayer Service on September 3, 2021, registered 1,500 people from around the world.

From this side of the world, we sponsored an international delegation to Rome: five women from Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. With the words of St. Paul in mind when he commended his sister Phoebe to be “welcomed in the Lord as is fitting for the saints,” we sent our group with our prayers and an image of St. Phoebe preaching to the faith community.

I believe that Saint Phoebe is interceding on behalf of women today. The Rome delegation was invited to a front row seat at Pope Francis’ weekly audience. When Ellie Hidalgo (a co-director of Discerning Deacons) presented the image of St. Phoebe to the Pope, he accepted it with a smile. And when Sr. Cira Mees told him about her ministry in the Amazon, he looked at her and said, “Firme! Adelante!” (“Keep going forward with inner strength.”). The women were truly welcomed and received “in the Lord.”

As climactic as that event was for us, the story gets better.

In an unprecedented moment in the history of the Church, Pope Francis in 2021 called for a Synod on Synodality. He wants to hear from all the people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, to discern the Holy Spirit’s will for the Church.

When was the last time a pope asked you for your thoughts?

As ancient as synods are in the Church’s tradition, it is a puzzling word for most of us. Pope Francis explains it as simply journeying together. He invites us to walk together, tell our stories, and listen to the Holy Spirit—just as VOTF and Discerning Deacons have been doing all along! Without naming it, we have been synodal in the process of sharing, listening, and discerning.

An inaugural Mass on October 10, 2021, opened the Synodal path. The window for the laity to tell our hurts and hopes for the Church is open right now. Pope Francis wants to hear from you.

Both VOTF and Discerning Deacons, along with other groups and individuals, are offering listening sessions to share your thoughts. Go to the VOTF webpage “Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023” to register for the opportunity.

It is time to tell your story.

The Pope is listening

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Women religious blaze new trails in roles of authority at the Vatican / Global Sisters Report

Much of the change has been fueled at the top by Pope Francis, who in his nearly decadelong papacy has repeatedly elevated the work of religious women. 

By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

“When Pope Francis met more than 850 religious sisters attending the International Union of Superiors General plenary meeting in Rome in 2019, the pope insisted that the chair for the body’s then-president, Sr. Carmen Sammut, be seated right next to him.

“At the time, both Sammut, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, and those in the room were touched by the pope’s deeply symbolic gesture to level the playing field.

“Now, as delegates from around the globe prepare to travel again to Rome for this year’s May 2-6 plenary, a wave of new appointments of sisters inside the Vatican has made it clear that Francis is backing that symbolism up with substantive changes and making room for more women religious to have a permanent seat at the table.

“‘Change takes time,’ said Sr. Patricia Murray, executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General, which represents 600,000 sisters from around the globe.”

By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Read more ...

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Called to Contribute: Findings from an In-depth Interview Study of US Catholic Women and the Diaconate / By Tricia Bruce,

“Women comprise the majority of US Catholics and the majority of lay ministers in the U.S. Catholic Church. While the ordained diaconate remains the exclusive realm of men, women engage in expansive service that overlaps core diaconal functions in word, liturgy, and charity. Many women feel specifically called to be deacons or express an openness to discerning such a call should the vocational path become available to them. Escalating global attention to the question of women and the diaconate compels social scientific research to enhance knowledge regarding how contemporary women experience and fulfill their felt call in the Catholic Church.” By Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D., author of “Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church”

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Blocked from serving their church, Catholic women push for female deacons / Religion News Service

“We’re looking at the needs of the church today,” said (Casey) Stanton (Discerning Deacons co-founder), who lives in Durham, North Carolina. “Might including women in this order help further the church’s mission in the world?”

Religion News Service

“Casey Stanton wanted to offer encouragement, love and healing to the inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, where she served as a chaplain intern a few years ago.

“But as a Catholic woman she could not represent her church there in any official capacity.

“The state of North Carolina requires chaplains in its state prison system to be ordained. And the Catholic Church does not ordain women — neither as priests, nor as deacons.

“Stanton, who is 35 and holds a master of divinity from Duke Divinity School, is not seeking to become a priest, which canon law forbids. She would, however, jump at the chance to be ordained a deacon — a position that would allow her and other women to serve as Catholic chaplains in prisons, hospitals and other settings.”

By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service — Read more …

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Women deacon’s commission to hold first meeting / The Tablet

“Pandemic permitting, members are expected in Rome for a week of discussions beginning on 13 September.”

The Tablet

“Almost two years since Pope Francis announced he would be re-forming a commission on the female diaconate, The Tablet can report it is due to hold its first meeting in Rome in the middle of next month. 

“The gathering of the commission comes just ahead of the launch of a global synod process which will bring lay people, priests and bishops in local churches together to discern new pastoral priorities. Women deacons are sure to be on the agenda. 

“Covid-19 has delayed the deacons’ commission work and the group have not met remotely. Pandemic permitting, members are expected in Rome for a week of discussions beginning on 13 September. Two members of the commission confirmed the September meeting with The Tablet

“An analysis of the commission members suggests an even split between those for and against female deacons, and the danger is a re-run of what happened with the first commission, which the Pope said was unable to reach agreement.”

By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet — Read more …

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Honor the ‘mothers’ of early Christianity during Women’s History Month / National Catholic Reporter

Yet Christian women did not keep silent or remain enclosed. They spoke up about important ecclesial issues, served the marginalized, taught both men and women, and witnessed freely about the Christ with whom they had thrown in their lot. They are great role models for the women and men of today.

National Catholic Reporter

Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate the ‘mothers’ of our Christian church. Until recently, few realized that early female believers shaped our church’s future no less than their better-known brothers (aka the ‘fathers of the church’).

“On Feb. 14, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI made the rather remarkable statement that ‘without the generous contribution of many women, the history of Christianity would have developed very differently,’ and that the female presence was not ‘in any way secondary.’

“Some early church mothers are relatively well-known while others are all but forgotten. Early writings and funerary inscriptions testify that women served as prophets, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, deacons, presbyters, enrolled widows, and heads of house churches and monasteries.

“Marcella, Paula, Melania the Elder, Melania the Younger and Macrina exercised considerable authority in ancient Christianity. Marcella founded a sort of urban monastery and study group in in Rome that greatly benefited — and benefited from — Jerome’s biblical erudition. When Jerome left for Jerusalem in 385, Rome’s priests began to seek out Marcella for help in understanding the biblical texts.”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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