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ARCC News 22 December 2013

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Christmas greeting
Rudolphus
 Hint: "Reno" means "Reindeer"
    
Some things we have been reading  
Pope to Curia: An end to the role of 'inspector and inquisitor'
John Thavis      Dec.21, 2013
 

Pope Francis' meeting today with officials of the Roman Curia was important for what was said and what wasn't said.

 

The annual Christmas encounter between the pope and his bureaucratic support system is often a time for "big" speeches that outline papal agendas, and what better occasion for Pope Francis to explain his big project of Curia reform?

 

That didn't happen. Instead, in a short speech, the pope made three points that, while offering some praise for the performance of the Roman Curia, also seemed to challenge the reigning attitudes there.

 

First, the pope spoke of the need for professional skill and competence. "When professionalism is lacking, there is a slow slide toward the area of mediocrity," he said. Tasks become routine and communication closed, while awareness of the bigger picture is lost.

 

Incompetence and lack of communication, of course, have been two of the biggest criticisms of the Roman Curia in recent years - criticisms that were aired in the cardinals' meetings that took place ahead of last spring's conclave.

 

Second, the pope emphasized that the Roman Curia is at the service of the church - the whole church and every local Catholic community, not just the pope. When this attitude of service is lacking, he said, "the Curia structure grows into a heavy bureaucratic customs office, an inspector and inquisitor that no longer allows the action of the Holy Spirit and the development of the people of God."

Ouch. And this was a Christmas greeting.

 

The pope identified a third crucial element for Roman Curia officials, holiness of life, which he said was "the most important in the hierarchy of values." And he repeated a remark he's made elsewhere, that he's convinced there are "saints" in the Curia, men and women who serve with faith, zeal and discretion in a spirit of pastoral service. 

Read more

Wuerl named to bishops' panel; Burke not confirmed
John L. Allen Jr.          Dec. 16, 2013
 

Pope Francis on Monday named Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., as a member of the Vatican's all-important Congregation for Bishops, essentially ratifying Wuerl as a highly influential figure in terms of shaping bishops' appointments in the United States.

  

Wuerl was the only new American named to the congregation by Francis, although the pope also confirmed Cardinal William Levada, who stepped down in July 2012 as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, as a member of the body.

 

Francis likewise confirmed that the Congregation for Bishops will continue to be led by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who's held the position since June 2010.

 

Notably, Francis did not confirm Cardinal Raymond Burke, president of the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court, as a member of the Congregation for Bishops. Generally seen as occupying a prominent place on the church's conservative wing, Burke had been named to the Congregation for Bishops by Benedict XVI in 2009. The pope also did not confirm Cardinal Justin Rigali as a member, who stepped down as the archbishop of Philadelphia in 2011.

. . . . 

The other new members named by Francis Monday are:

  • Cardinal Francis Robles Ortega of Guadalajara, Mexico;
  • Cardinal Ruben Salazar Gomez of Bogota, Colombia;
  • Cardinal Kurt Koch of Switzerland, president of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity;
  • Cardinal João Braz de Aviz of Brazil, prefect of the Congregation for Religious;
  • Archbishop Pietro Parolin, the secretary of state;
  • Archbishop Benjamin Stella, prefect of the Congregation for Clergy;
  • Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri, head of the Synod for Bishops;
  • Archbishop Vincent Nichols of Westminster, England;
  • Archbishop Paolo Rabitti of Italy, now retired as the archbishop of Ferrara-Comacchio;
  • Bishop Felix Genn of Münster, Germany. 

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We are at a crossroads for women in the church
Joan Chittister          Dec. 11, 2013

Joan ChittisterThe 20th-century Jesuit philosopher Pierre Teilhard de Chardin wrote: "The only task worthy of our efforts is to construct the future." My concern today is how to construct a new future for women around the world through the global outreach of the church.

. . . . 

Point: This is a crossover moment in history.

This is the moment when history discovered women.

In fact, intelligent men as well as intelligent women realize now that feminism is not about femaleness. It's not about female chauvinism either, or feminismo machismo. And it's definitely not about women wanting to act like men.

. . . .

It is about bringing to public visibility and public agency the agendas, the insights, and the wisdom of the other half of the human race.

 

It is about taking their ideas and plans seriously. No! Correction: It is about taking the theology of creation seriously.

 

It is, in other words, about this century's "emancipation proclamation" of women.

 

And since it is 2,000 years after Jesus himself modeled it, it can hardly be argued that we're rushing things.

. . . .

Three issues in particular will measure the authenticity -- the morality -- of the church's response to the women's issue. The issues of maternity, human agency and poverty are key to the way we'll be seen on this issue for years to come.

 

First, the question of the role of women in church and society is not one of the 39 areas of concern listed in the questionnaire the Vatican sent to the world's bishops in October seeking wide Catholic response to questions about family life. So how really important are the roles and rights of woman-as-woman seen in shaping even the family? Really.

 

Second, the pope's recent statement on women to a meeting of the Women's Section of the Pontifical Council for the Laity in Rome concentrated almost entirely on women's maternity, which occupies -- at best -- about 20 years of a woman's life. 
. . . . 

Or, more, why is a woman defined by maternity whether she is a mother or not when a man is rarely, if ever, defined by his paternity rather than by his job, his genius, his leadership, his heroism? 

. . . .

The fact is that religion -- all religions -- has been used to justify the oppression, the servitude, the invisibility of women for century after century. Indeed, religion after Jesus has a historic lot to repent where women are concerned, Catholicism and Christianity among them. 

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Pope: There won't be women cardinals
Joshua J. McElwee      Dec. 14, 2013
 

Pope Francis has denied rumors that he intends to name women as cardinals in the Catholic church, telling a prominent Italian newspaper he was unsure where the idea, which has circulated in recent weeks, had come from.

 

"I don't know where any such an idea came from," the pope told the Italian daily La Stampa in an interview published online Saturday. "Women in the Church must be valued not 'clericalised.'"

. . . . 

Speculation of a woman being named a cardinal by Pope Francis was rampant in November, after NCR reported that a prominent U.S. Jesuit priest had asked his friends and associates to propose names of women around the world who should be considered as possible cardinal candidates.   

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'The People's Pope'? If By People, You Don't Mean Women
Adele M. Stan      Dec.11, 2013

. . . .

What got people so filled with the notion that the pope represented the kind of change they could believe in was a masterful bit of public relations executed via an interview, published in English in the Jesuit magazine America, that he gave to Rev. Antonio Spadaro, editor-in-chief of La Civiltà Cattolica. In his discussion with Spadaro, the pope said it was not for him to judge gay people, and he urged compassion for women who have had abortions or gotten divorced. In all of his utterances since winning the papal throne, Francis has urged a change in tone, style, and rhetoric-away from condemnation of those who have sinned, and a more full-throated proclamation of the church's longstanding "preferential option for the poor."

 

I do not mean to suggest that the pope is insincere in his concern for the poor; I have little doubt that he is earnest in his desire to see the church better, and more loudly, defend them.  

 . . . .

It is important, nonetheless, to note that this emphasis also serves another of the church's needs: the remaking of its image at a time when it is losing members in the more developed nations, and competing for souls with Islam and Protestant Christian sects in the developing world.
. . . . 

Members of the media are beside themselves, as are many progressives-particularly progressive men-who gush that a new day has dawned in the church. Raise the subject of the pope's affirmation of the church's exclusion of women from any form of meaningful leadership, or of the cruelty of the church's opposition to any form of reproductive freedom-doctrine that often finds its way into the laws of nations-and you're all but told to shut up and wait.

. . . .   

Next year, an Extraordinary Synod of Bishops, called by the pope, will convene in Rome. If Pope Francis has any intention of rendering Catholic doctrine on church leadership into a morally acceptable form-one that affirms the equality of all people in the eyes of God-it will come to light then. But I wouldn't count on it.

 

Time magazine, in the title of its Person of the Year profile of Pope Francis, dubbed him "the people's pope." If by "people," you don't mean women, I guess that could work. 

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Pope Francis In Peace Message Attacks Mega-Salaries With 'Crumbs' For Poor
Philip Pullella       Dec.12, 2013

 

Pope Francis said in the first peace message of his pontificate that huge salaries and bonuses are symptoms of an economy based on greed and inequality and called again for nations to narrow the wealth gap.

In his message for the Roman Catholic Church's World Day of Peace, marked around the world on Jan. 1, he also called for sharing of wealth and for nations to shrink the gap between rich and poor, more of whom are getting only "crumbs".

"The grave financial and economic crises of the present time ... have pushed man to seek satisfaction, happiness and security in consumption and earnings out of all proportion to the principles of a sound economy," he said.

"The succession of economic crises should lead to a timely rethinking of our models of economic development and to a change in lifestyles," he said. 

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Pope Francis gets high ratings from Catholics, according to poll
 Michelle Boorstein and Scott Clement       Dec.11, 2013

 

U.S. Catholics are happier with their church and their pope than they've been with either in at least a decade, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll that also finds Pope Francis at least as popular with Catholics today as Pope John Paul II was even at his peak in such surveys.

 

Among Catholics, 92 percent have a favorable view of Francis and 95 percent say the same of the church, a poll released Wednesday finds. Francis's popularity marks a large increase from former Pope Benedict XVI's 76 percent favorable rating in a Post-ABC poll in February just after he announced his retirement.

. . . . 

Tangible effects so far are unclear, however, and one recent survey found no immediate effect in the percent of Americans who say they're Catholic or who say they attend Mass.
 

Non-Catholics also voice largely positive views of Francis - 62 percent favorable and 18 percent unfavorable; 21 percent have yet to form an opinion. Benedict drew only 48 percent favorable views among non-Catholics immediately after announcing his resignation, while 31 percent saw him unfavorably. 

Read more

Snow Angel Francis
Pope Francis overhauls Catholic image but real reforms await
 Agence France-Presse       Dec.17, 2013

 

Pope Francis has turned around the way the Catholic Church is seen but his promise of Vatican reform awaits next year and key problems remain, observers said on Tuesday, as the pontiff celebrated his 77th birthday.

. . . . 

The change of mood has been all the more remarkable given the strife in the Church before his election, including outrage over child sex abuse scandals and divisions between the Vatican and local churches.

 

Those issues are far from gone away, however. And analysts warn that progressives in the Church hoping for a raft of reforms of Catholic teachings will be disappointed.

. . . .  

"Exaggerated expectations will necessarily lead to new disappointments," German cardinal Walter Kasper was quoted as saying in a new biography of the pope by Rome-based Argentine journalist Elisabetta Pique.

 

"The new pope can renew the Church but he cannot invent a new Church," Kasper said, adding that progressives and conservatives alike would be "disappointed."

. . . .

And while his public image is that of a kindly parish priest, Vatican gossip is that he can be sometimes be brusque and authoritarian behind the walls.

 

With the pope's popularity growing among many non-Catholics too, Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi expressed concern in a rare critical moment that the focus on him could draw attention away from the message.

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Vatican: Bishops must consult 'grass roots' on family synod
Joshua J. McElwee     Dec. 10, 2013
 

In responding to a Vatican directive to listen "as widely as possible" to Catholics' views on issues like contraception, same-sex marriage and divorce, bishops globally must gather information from the "grass roots" of the faithful, the Vatican official overseeing the process said Friday.

The consultation, being taken in preparation for a 2014 Vatican meeting of Catholic bishops from around the world on issues of family life, cannot be limited only to the bishops' advisers, Archbishop Lorenzo Baldisseri told NCR.

 

"The consultation must gather information from the grass roots and not limit itself to the level of the Curia or other institutions," said Baldisseri, the general secretary of the Vatican's synod of bishops.

 

"Though involved in the process, they must cooperate by addressing themselves to the faithful, to communities, to associations and other bodies," he said.

 

Baldisseri was responding to email questions from NCR concerning his Oct. 18 request that bishops worldwide prepare for next year's meeting by distributing a questionnaire on family topics "as widely as possible to deaneries and parishes so that input from local sources can be received." 

Read more

Report finds Vatican transparency rules need a test
Nicole Winfield       Dec.13, 2013
 

European evaluators have given the Vatican a mixed report card in its efforts to comply with international norms to fight money laundering and terror financing, praising progress over the past year while highlighting delays and shortcomings at the Holy See's financial watchdog agency. Chief among them: its failure to inspect the embattled Vatican bank.

 

In the progress report released Thursday, the Council of Europe's Moneyval committee revealed that 105 suspicious transactions had been flagged to the financial watchdog agency in 2013 as potential cases of money-laundering - a significant increase over 2012 when only a half-dozen were reported. The increase stemmed from the bank's ongoing process to review all accounts at the Institute for Religious Works to make sure its customers and assets are clean.

 

Three of those cases were forwarded to Vatican prosecutors for investigation, including one that made headlines earlier this year: the case of the Vatican accountant, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who was arrested by Italian authorities in June after he allegedly tried to smuggle 20 million euros ($26 million) from Switzerland into Italy without declaring it at customs.

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Pope must decide what to do with disgraced Legion
Nicole Winfield       Dec.13, 2013
 

First, one of the Legion of Christ's top officials abruptly quit the troubled religious order in frustration over the slow pace of change. Then priests in the cult-like movement empowered proteges and associates of the order's disgraced founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, to vote for their next leader.

 

The past month has seen some setbacks in the Legion's efforts to rehabilitate itself as it moves toward electing a new leadership next month, the culmination of a three-year Vatican experiment aimed at overhauling a damaged order. Yet even as the Legion prepares to present a new face, high-ranking members continue to speak nostalgically and even reverently of Maciel - a sexual predator who molested his seminarians, fathered three children and was, in the words of Vatican-appointed investigators, ''devoid of scruples and authentic religious meaning.''

 

It all means that hopes are dwindling that the Vatican's effort to radically reform the Legion has succeeded, raising the question of what Pope Francis will do with the once-powerful and wealthy order after the mandate of the papal envoy running it expires.

. . . .

As the Legion heads into the General Chapter, many answers still remain unanswered about who in the Legion and the Vatican were responsible for facilitating or covering up Maciel's crimes - an investigation that the Vatican and the Legion have so far ruled out conducting because it would likely point to complicity by senior Vatican cardinals.

 

Other questions have recently emerged about who knew about cases of sex abuse by other Legionaries, and about a child born to the Legion's most prominent priest who was allowed to continue preaching and teaching morality for over seven years before he left the priesthood and recently wed the mother. 

Read more

Regnum Christi's consecrated women choose leadership
CNA       Dec.14, 2013
 

The consecrated women of Regnum Christi, the lay association of the Legion of Christ, have elected Spaniard Gloria Rodriguez as their next general director.

The lay association's general assembly, which has been meeting in Rome since Dec. 2, marks the first time the consecrated women have elected their leadership through a participatory process. 

Read more

50 educators sign letter to Catholic University protesting Koch Foundation's $1 million gift
 Michelle Boorstein       Dec.15, 2013
 

Fifty prominent Catholic educators - including deans and department heads of Catholic universities - have signed a letter protesting Catholic University of America's recent acceptance of $1 million from a foundation affiliated with the billionaire libertarian Koch brothers, saying the gift sends "a confusing message" that the brothers' "anti-government, Tea Party ideology has the blessing" of a school created by U.S. bishops.

 

The letter, which will be made public Monday and was delivered Friday to Catholic University of America President John Garvey, says the Koch brothers' activism against unions and climate change science, among others, are in "stark contrast" to the church's "traditional social justice teachings." The brothers have given hundreds of millions of dollars to conservative and tea party groups particularly focused on energy policy and health care, among other things. 

Read more

The ACLU Takes on the Bishops
 Cathleen Kaveny       Dec.18, 2013

 

On November 29, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Tamesha Means in the Eastern District of Michigan. The lawsuit demanded compensatory and punitive damages for medically negligent treatment she allegedly received in the course of her pregnancy and miscarriage at Mercy Health Partners (MHP), a Catholic health facility in Muskegan.     . . . . 

What makes this case unusual is the identity of one of the defendants: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The alleged negligent act: promulgating the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services.

According to the complaint, the USCCB is responsible because it "directed the course of care Plaintiff received" from MHP. 

Read more

Mandela's meaning for the threatened future of humanity
Leonardo Boff      Dec.12, 2013

Leonardo BoffWith his death, Nelson Mandela has been imbedded in the collective unconsciousness of humanity, never ever to fade away, because he has been transformed into a universal archetype, that of an unjustly condemned person who harbored no rancor, who knew how to forgive, how to reconcile antagonistic poles, and who gave us an undying hope that there are still solutions to the human condition.

. . . .

 One of his solutions, a very original one, presupposes a concept that is alien to our individualistic culture: Ubuntu. It means: "I only can be myself through you and with you". Thus, without an enduring bond that links all with all, a society will be, as is ours, in danger of tearing itself apart with endless conflict.

. . . . 

 Why has Mandela's life and saga created hope in the future of humanity and in our civilization? Because we have reached the nucleus of a conjunction of crises that could threaten our future as human species. We plainly are in sixth great mass extinction. Cosmologists (Brian Swimme) and biologists (Edward Wilson) warn us that if things continue as they are, this devastating process could culminate by 2030. 

. . . .

Facing these somber prospects Mandela would surely respond, based on his political experience: yes, it is possible for the human being to reconcile with himself, for the human being to give precedence to his sapiens dimension over his demens dimension, and to inaugurate a new form of being together in the same House. Perhaps there is value in the words of his great friend, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who coordinated the Truth and Reconciliation process: "Having confronted the beast of the past, face to face, having asked and received forgiveness, let us now turn the page: not to forget that past, but not to let it oppress us forever. Let us advance towards a glorious future of a new society where people are valued not for irrelevant biological reasons or other strange attributes, but because they are persons, of infinite value, created in the image of God."  

Read more

Argentine diocese apologizes for pedophile priest
AFP      Dec.14, 2013
 

An Argentine diocese apologized for abuse committed by a pedophile priest on Friday and, in a first for the country's Catholic church, announced compensation for his victims.

Father Jose Mercau, who is serving a 14-year sentence, was pastor of the St. John the Baptist church in San Isidro diocese on the outskirts of Buenos Aires and ran a home for destitute children.

 

"The diocese of San Isidro, and in particular the bishop and his priests, publicly apologize to the young people who were affected by Father Jose Mercau's actions," the Catholic news agency AICA said.

 

The agency also reported that the office of San Isidro's bishop, Monsignor Jorge Ojea, was willing to compensate the four males who filed a complaint against the priest.

Father Maximo Jurcinovic, a spokesman for the bishop, told news channel C5N that a financial settlement had been reached and that the diocese would sell some of its properties to fund it. 

Read more

Amnesty International calls for independent inquiry into NI abuse
RTÉ News      Dec.12, 2013
 

Amnesty International in Northern Ireland has said yesterday's audits of two Catholic dioceses there strengthen the case for an independent investigation into clerical child sexual abuse north of the border.

Its spokesman, Patrick Corrigan, described the audits of Armagh and Down and Connor as "internal church reviews" and said they are no substitute for a proper inquiry.

 

Yesterday's audit of child protection in Down and Connor revealed that since 1975 allegations of child sexual abuse had been made against 42 priests, three of whom had been convicted in the courts.


 Amnesty International has claimed that both the Catholic Church and the statutory authorities turned a blind eye to a widespread problem over many decades. 

Read more

Dutch Catholic church calls for end to silence over sexual abuse
DutchNews.nl      Dec.17, 2013
 

Catholic church cardinal Wim Eijk has made a call in theTelegraaf for people to come clean about the sexual abuse of children by church officials.

 

Eijk made the appeal two years after the publication of a major report into abuse in Catholic institutions. The cardinal noted in his appeal that a quarter of all ongoing and finalised cases were abandoned because of a lack of evidence.

 

Abuse victims' organisation Klokk said the appeal was brave and historic because it 'announced the end of the culture of silence'.

 

After July 1 no more complaints can be submitted in cases which are too old in Dutch law or which are against people who have died, Nos television said.

Read more

When trust is broken: two innocent teens lured into a terrifying web of abuse
Janet Fife-Yeoman      Dec.13, 2013
 

One was lured into a sex cult formed by her parish priest and school chaplain. The other was sexually abused for years by her local priest who paid for her to fly to his church residence for sex.

 

Joan Isaacs and Jennifer Ingham were both women from religious families who grew up in the Catholic Church.

 . . . .  

 To their abusers, the combination of trust and innocence made them the perfect victims.

 

Last week, both women found an inner strength behind their tears to speak publicly for the first time about how that trust was betrayed as they told their stories to the royal commission into institutionalised responses to child sex abuse sitting in Sydney.

 

Isaacs, 60, was drawn into a cult which her Brisbane parish priest Father Frank Derriman built around himself, giving his young victims the surname Brown after the Peanuts comic hero Charlie Brown and telling his "family'' that he was suffering from a fatal lung infection and had to have sex with them before he died. He is still alive.

. . . .  

Ingham's sexual abuse by alcoholic Lismore priest Father Rex Brown, who was convicted in 1996 of possessing child pornography, began in the classroom and continued after she left school when he flew her from Sydney to his church residence in Tweed Heads for sex. Such was the extent of his "grooming'' of her that he even officiated at her first wedding.

 

Royal commission head Justice Peter McClellan said last week that one of the questions he ultimately has to answer is: "Why?'' 

Read more

Royal Commission hears Vatican told priest to offer a Mass every Friday for his victims
 Catherine Armitage       Dec.19, 2013

 

A Lismore Catholic priest who sexually abused children was ordered by the Vatican to "live a life of prayer and penance" and offer a Mass every Friday for his victims, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has been told. 

 

But the "overwhelming majority" of clerical sex abuse cases are not reported to Rome because the Vatican  wants to know only about incidents which occurred within the past 10 years, the Commission heard. The Bishop of Lismore, Geoffrey Jarrett, did not pass on any complaints for five years, probably because a directive from the Pope to do so was filed in a drawer and forgotten, he told the Commission. 

 

In a day of astonishing revelations about the Australian Catholic church's lackadaisical attitude to child sex abuse allegations, Bishop Jarrett admitted he did not pass on a 2002 complaint in which a woman alleged she "walked in on Father [Paul Rex] Brown in the act of sexually abusing a child in the sacristy of the cathedral" in 1959. That alleged incident preceded Father Brown's abuse of  Mrs Jennifer Ingham in the late 1970s by two decades.

Read more

Bishop didn't get message because it was written in Latin
Andy Parks        Dec. 22, 2013
 

Bishop Geoffrey Jarrett told the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse he didn't report an allegation against Lismore's Father Paul Rex Brown to the Vatican because he wasn't aware there had been a directive from the Pope to do so.

. . . .

A complaint against Father Brown was made in 2002, a year after the Pope ordered bishops around the world to report any allegations of child sexual abuse to the Vatican if there was a "semblance of truth" in the case.

. . . .

When questioned further by the Chair of the Commission, Justice Peter McClellan, Bishop Jarrett said the Pope's original directive had been received in Latin and his Latin was "not perfect".

 

When Justice McClellan asked if he regularly received directives from the Vatican that he did not understand, Bishop Jarrett replied: "Usually they provide an English translation as well. Not all the bishops are fluent in Latin, not these days. Once we were." 

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Australian archbishop to abuse commission: 'We have reaped the harvest of horror'
Stephen Crittenden         Dec. 14, 2013
 

Archbishop Mark Coleridge's statement to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Wednesday about the mishandling of child sexual abuse could be the strongest a serving Australian bishop has made.

 

Describing the sexual abuse scandal as a "tsunami that blew up out of nowhere," he said bishops and heads of religious orders had been caught like "rabbits in headlights" when confronted by sexual abuse cases in the 1990s.

. . . .

Referring to the case of Joan Isaacs, who was abused as a schoolgirl in the 1960s by Brisbane priest Frank Derriman, Coleridge accused his own predecessor, Archbishop John Bathersby, of "spectacular bungling."

He also criticized Bathersby for failing to have Derriman laicised given that he left the priesthood in 1970 to marry and was convicted for the abuse in 1998.

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Australian sex abuse commission gets documents from nuncio
Stephen Crittenden      Dec.20, 2013
 

The papal nuncio to Australia, Archbishop Paul Gallagher, claimed diplomatic immunity in response to repeated requests for archival documentation that might assist a prosecutor with her inquiry into sex abuse, copies of correspondence released this week show.

 

In the end, though, Gallagher decided to turn over documents sought as part of the New South Wales Special Commission of Inquiry. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday, Francis Sullivan, CEO of the Truth Justice and Healing Council, said Gallagher told him the Apostolic Nunciature had handed over the documents Dec. 6.

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Catholic priest to sue church for unfair dismissal
 Catherine Deveney       Dec.14, 2013

 

A Scottish priest who says that his vocation was "destroyed" after he spoke out against sexual abuse is to claim unfair dismissal against the Catholic church at an employment tribunal.

 

Father Patrick Lawson, who was removed from St Sophia's parish church, in Galston, Ayrshire, in September by the Bishop of Galloway, John Cunningham, has been granted legal aid to pursue the case that could establish employment rights for priests across Britain.

. . . .

The Catholic church's director of communications, Peter Kearney, says the application is inappropriate: "For such a claim to be made, there would need to be an employer/employee relationship. Since the relationship between a priest and his diocese is not one of employment, reference to an employment tribunal would not be possible."

 

The application is the latest move in a long-running dispute. In July, Lawson revealed to the Observer that he had been fighting for 17 years for appropriate action to be taken against a fellow priest who he claims sexually assaulted him and abused altar boys. He was issued with a disciplinary warning for giving the interview.

. . . . 

If the employment issue goes to the Court of Session, it is likely to take at least a year. If, however, it is ultimately ruled that the tribunal can hear the case, employment rights for priests will be established even if Lawson loses his personal application for unfair dismissal. 

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Five priests removed from ministry; two restored to duty 
Jeremy Roebuck        Dec.15, 2013

 

Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has permanently removed five parish priests from ministry over allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct, including one priest who had previously been investigated and returned to duty last year.

 

An archdiocesan review board had cleared the Rev. Michael A. Chapman in May 2012 of an abuse allegation involving a minor. But within months, a new accuser came forward with allegations dating back 30 years.

. . . .

Two other priests - the Rev. Zachary W. Navit, last of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Doylestown, and the Rev. Francis J. Schlett, who retired from Our Lady of Grace in Penndel in 2004 - were cleared to return to their positions after the review board said it could not substantiate allegations against them.
. . . . 

Of the four others removed besides Chapman, two - the Rev. Stephen B. Perzan, of St. Helena Parish in Philadelphia, and the Rev. Peter J. Talocci, of St. Patrick's in Malvern - faced sexual-abuse allegations that the review board said it could not substantiate. They were removed for violations of "the standards of ministerial behavior," church officials said.

 

The remaining two - the Rev. Mark E. Fernandes, last of St. Agnes Parish in Sellersville, and the Rev. Joseph M. Glatts, formerly of SS. Simon and Jude in West Chester - faced no accusations of sexual misconduct but rather were deemed to have acted in violation of church standards.

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Archbishop voluntarily steps away from public ministry after allegation
Catholic News Service     Dec.17, 2013
 

Archbishop John C. Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis is voluntarily stepping aside from all public ministry, effective immediately, while St. Paul police investigate an allegation that he inappropriately touched a male minor on the buttocks in 2009 during a group photography session following a confirmation ceremony.

In a Dec. 17  letter to Catholics of the archdiocese, Archbishop Nienstedt called the allegation "absolutely and entirely false." 

Read more

Winona Diocese releases list of accused priest abusers
Associated Press       Dec.16, 2013
 

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Winona has named 14 priests accused of sexually abusing minors.

The southeastern Minnesota diocese filed the list in Ramsey County District Court on Monday. That's a day before the deadline set by a Ramsey County judge.

. . . .

Of the 14 priests identified by the Diocese of Winona, nine are dead. Of the five still living, the diocese says one has been removed from priesthood. Three are in the process of being removed, and one is on administrative leave pending criminal proceedings in Faribault County. 

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Winona statement & list

Abuse claims kept secret allowed priest to minister and teach sex ed
 Madeleine Baran       Dec.19, 2013
 

When beloved priest Harry Walsh retired two years ago, parishioners of St. Henry's Catholic Church in Monticello, Minn., decorated a VFW hall with paper shamrocks and musical notes to say goodbye

 . . . . 

But Walsh had a secret. He'd been accused of sexually abusing a 15-year-old girl and 12-year-old altar boy decades earlier, according to church documents obtained by MPR News, and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis contributed to a financial settlement for the girl. Nonetheless, archbishops Harry Flynn and John Nienstedt allowed him to continue working in parishes until the fall of 2011. And neither bishop called police or warned the public.

 

More recently Walsh wasn't included on a list of 30 "credibly accused" priests released Dec. 5 by the archdiocese.  

. . . .

Today Walsh teaches sex education to troubled teenagers and vulnerable adults in Wright County, an hour west of the Twin Cities. He signed a new two-year, $1,508 a month contract earlier this year, according to public records, to provide "medically accurate sexuality education, pregnancy prevention and STI prevention to high risk youth or adults."
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  You've got to take your hat off to this Pope  
'Learning Humility, Learning Patience'
Sidney Callahan     Nov.25, 2013

. . . .

In 1967, my husband Dan and I, along with our five sons and one daughter (all born between 1955 and '65), could be found each Sunday at Mass. Everyone was baptized, the three oldest confirmed. I had been teaching in the CCD program for seven years. We were a full-court-press Catholic family, members of the Christian Family Movement (observe, judge, act), Catholic Worker enthusiasts, and eager advocates of Vatican II reforms. Dan was an editor of Commonweal and we both wrote for and participated in exciting Catholic intellectual circles. Forty-six years later, I sit alone in the same pew on Sundays, and have been doing so for decades. I remain a grateful Catholic convert, while everyone else in the family is long gone from the church. 

 

I date 1968 as the onset of the cultural hurricane that beset our family and New York City suburb. One year we were a '50s-style American family with suits, ties, and dancing lessons, the next we were battling countercultural chaos and hippie mayhem. The '60s' swirl of riots, protests, assassinations, promiscuity, drug use, and dropouts could not be held at bay. This produced predictable disasters. My children's classmates died from drug overdoses, jumped out of windows on LSD, and got arrested for smoking pot in the woods. Quite a few were carted off to jail, rehab, and mental hospitals. The schools, police, church, and most middle-class families were not prepared for this youth revolt. Certainly, our ordinary and relatively conservative parish could not cope.
. . . .

When it comes to Catholicism and my children, I have learned humility from parental failure. But I have also learned about hopefulness. Hopefulness, patience, and perseverance are now at the top of the list of the virtues I esteem. If death or permanent damage at an early age can be avoided, disasters can be turned around, rifts healed, and weaknesses overcome. Today my middle-aged children are happy, morally upstanding people. Our five grandchildren are blessed with super parents. Our children all love and help one another and seem devoted to their old parents. 

. . . .

In hindsight, I can now see how crucially important Catholic peer groups are for faith development. In our town the educated professionals were mostly secular or Jewish, the Catholics mostly working-class people. Going through the excellent public schools, none of my children had a close Catholic friend or peer group that could support his or her faith. Did we choose the wrong town, the wrong parish, and the wrong schools?

Looking back I see that there was no structured way in our parish for my children to get what I had gotten in my intellectual journey to the Catholic faith. I always had access to the sophisticated historical, intellectual, and theological dimensions of the faith.   . . . .

 

 Fortunately, despite their rejection of religion, my children have continued to develop in moral sense and sensibility. With the aid of providence, conscience and morality can still flourish outside religious communities. Reason, experience, and goodwill generate good people. Through trial and error persons discover for themselves that virtuous commitments to love and work do indeed lead to happiness. The Holy Spirit continues to transform the hearts and minds of believers and nones alike. Where love is God is. As the gospel says, "A bruised reed he will not break and a smoldering wick he will not quench."

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The infallible Tom Tobin
Kevin Cullen      Dec.13, 2013
 

If the bishop of Providence, Tom Tobin, didn't exist, we'd have to make him up. The guy is what we in my business call good copy.

. . . . 

The pope is trying to drag the church into the 21st century.

 

Tobin and his fellow travelers are quite comfortable in the 15th, thank you.

. . . .

While the pope has been busy selling his soul to all us heathens, Tobin used Nelson Mandela's death as an opportunity to denounce Mandela's "shameful promotion of abortion" in South Africa.

. . . . 

A few years ago, Tobin proclaimed that Patrick Kennedy, then a Rhode Island congressman, should be denied Communion because Kennedy supported abortion rights. The reactionaries in the pews cheered, and Tobin was so busy congratulating himself for standing up for the sanctity of life that he never got around to denying Communion to all those pols who support the death penalty and unnecessary wars fought by other people's kids.

 

At the same time Tobin was casting Kennedy out of his church, he was turning over the op-ed page of his diocesan newspaper to Bishop John McCormack, one of the worst enablers of child abuse. At the same time Tobin was denying a sacrament to a politician whose political views he doesn't share, he was denying diocesan records to men and women who were raped as children by priests.

 . . . .

To be fair, Bishop Tobin is a merciful guy. Just the other day, he wrote a letter asking a judge to go easy on one of his church's biggest benefactors, a guy named Joe Caramadre.

 

Prosecutors want Caramadre sent to prison for 10 years after he was convicted in a $46 million investment fraud that preyed on the terminally ill. So what if Joe Caramadre was using unsuspecting dying people to make a buck? It's not like he's gay or in favor of abortion.

 

Did I mention Caramadre used to advertise his services in the diocesan newspaper? 

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Pope Names Bishops For Mississippi, Texas Dioceses
USCCB       Dec.12, 2013

 

Pope Francis has named Father Joseph R. Kopacz, 63, a priest of the Diocese of Scranton and pastor of Holy Trinity Parish, Mt. Pocono, Pennsylvania, as bishop of Jackson, Mississippi, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph Latino,76,  from the pastoral governance of the Jackson diocese. The pope also named Msgr. Michael J. Sis, 53, vicar general of the Diocese of Austin, Texas, as bishop of San Angelo, Texas, and accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Pfeifer, 76, from the pastoral governance of the San Angelo diocese. 

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Green Bay priest named bishop in Marquette, Mich.
Fox News       Dec.17, 2013

 

Fr. John Doerfler has been named the bishop for the Catholic Diocese based in Marquette, Mich., the Vatican announced Tuesday.

 

Fr. Doerfler is currently the vicar general for the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay. He succeeds Archbishop Alexander Sample, who became archbishop of Portland in Oregon, January 29, 2013. 

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Bishop Deeley appointed as the 12th Bishop of the Diocese of Portland
Boston Pilot       Dec.18, 2013
 

Pope Francis has appointed the Most Rev. Robert P. Deeley, J.C.D., Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Boston, as the 12th Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, Maine.

The Holy Father's appointment was announced on Wednesday, December 18, at 6 a.m. EST at the Vatican. The date of Bishop Deeley's Installation Mass will be Friday, February 14, 2014, at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland. 

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Alleged miracle puts Pope Paul VI one step closer to sainthood
Eric J. Lyman       

Paul VIVatican officials have approved what they believe to be a miracle attributed to the intercession of Pope Paul VI, putting the pontiff who served for much of the 1960s and '70s one step closer to possible sainthood.

 

The Vatican's Medical Commission of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints said the healing of an unborn child is medically "unexplainable," and could serve as the miracle that allows Paul VI to be beatified.

 

The sainthood cause for Paul VI, who reigned 1963 to 1978, was opened in 1993, allowing him to be called a "Servant of God." Last year, Pope Benedict XVI moved the process along in declaring that Paul "lived a life of heroic virtue," allowing him to be called "Venerable." 

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Pope Francis' Christmas Gift to Rome's Poor: Phone Cards and Metro Tickets
Kathy Schiffer       Dec.16, 2013

 

On his first Christmas as Pope, the Holy Father is giving 2,000 prepaid telephone cards and 4,000 day tickets for the Metro, Rome's underground rail system, to Rome's poorest and most marginalized citizens.

 

Archbishop Konrad Krajewski, Almoner of His Holiness, will deliver 2,000 envelopes to locations and shelters in Rome where aid is offered by the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and by volunteers.  

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Mexico's indigenous languages get nod from the Church

Will Grant      Dec.21, 2013

. . . .

Over the past seven years, the Diocese of San Cristobal - one of the oldest in the country - has led the calls for the Vatican to officially recognise the liturgy in Mayan languages.

 

That call was heeded in October when Pope Francis gave the green light for weekly mass and key Catholic rituals, such as confession and baptism, to be conducted in the two indigenous languages.

 

The auxiliary bishop for San Cristobal, the Right Reverend Enrique Diaz, says gaining recognition from Rome was a long and complicated process.

 

"This is the acceptance not of a simple translation but of a thorough study which captures the sense of the words of the liturgy and the Bible," he says as the clergy can be heard singing hymns in Tzotzil inside the church.

 

"It's also the expression of the spirit of a people, a very religious people who follow the Lord and carry God in their hearts."


Bishop Diaz partly credits Pope Francis with having helped bring about this move.

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