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Do we need another papal superstar?
John Alonzo Dick, PhD, STD                                                 Aug.25, 2013

 Is it time to cautiously lower the volume of acclaim for the new Bishop of Rome? Is there a danger of losing a proper perspective on the papacy? Do we need a new papal superstar? Are some people blindly promoting a new cult of the papacy? Is the pope really the heart of the church?  I suggest these are important questions. I leave it to thoughtful brothers and sisters in our community of faith (the church) to ponder and propose the answers.


Pius IXHistorically, superstar popes have not always generated and promoted a healthy institutional church. I leave aside for the moment the Polish Superstar Pope John Paul the Great. We can more objectively examine an earlier papal superstar: Pope Pius IX. (He started at least as a papal superstar, before becoming more of a theological death star; and later a self-centered pontifical megalomaniac.)


Following the death of Pope Gregory XVI (1831-46), the conclave of 1846, not so unexpectedly, began with a struggle between conservatives and liberals. After the first ballot there was a deadlock. Liberals and moderates then decided to cast their votes for Cardinal Mastai-Ferretti . On the second day of the conclave, on 16 June 1846, Mastai-Ferretti was elected Pope. Historian Francis Burkle-Young wrote about him: "He was a glamorous candidate, ardent, emotional with a gift for friendship and a track-record of generosity even towards anti-Clericals...."


Giovanni Maria Mastai-Ferretti, Bishop of Spoleto, took the name Pius IX in honor of his great patron Pope Pius VII (1800-23), who had encouraged him to enter the priesthood despite Mastai-Ferretti's childhood epilepsy.


Somewhat like today's Pope Francis, the election of the liberal Pope Pius IX created great enthusiasm in Europe and elsewhere. For twenty months following his election, "Pio Nono" was the most popular man in Italy. Even English Protestants were delighted with him, cheering him as a friend and a reformer who would move Europe toward greater freedom and progress. The press applauded him as pious, progressive, intellectual, a really decent fellow, friendly, and open to everyone. Many religious and secular observers considered him a model of simplicity and poverty, in his every day affairs.


Three years after his election, however, Pius IX was already revealing himself as another kind of leader: autocratically imposing an ever-increasing centralization and consolidation of power in Rome and the papal office; and exaggerating the place of Jesus' Mother, proclaiming her Mediatrix of Salvation in 1849.


At Vatican I of course he had himself proclaimed infallible. Prior to that, in 1864, he had issued the Syllabus of Errors, which set the Roman Catholic Church in reverse gear for almost a hundred years.


Some of the key "MODERNIST ERRORS" condemned in the Syllabus were the following points:

* "In the present day it is no longer expedient that the Catholic religion should be held as the only religion of the State, to the exclusion of all other forms of worship." (No. 77)

* "Protestantism is nothing more than another form of the same true Christian religion, in which form it is given to please God equally as in the Catholic Church." (No.18).

* "The Church ought to be separated from the State, and the State from the Church." (No. 55)

* "Every man is free to embrace and profess that religion which, guided by the light of reason, he shall consider true." (No. 15) 

* "The Roman Pontiff can, and ought to, reconcile himself, and come to terms with, progress, liberalism and modern civilization." (No. 80)


One can argue - perhaps feverishly - that Pope Francis is not another Pope Pius IX. I certainly hope he isn't. I applaud the new pope's simple attire, friendly approach, and rejection of Renaissance papal pomp and circumstance.


Nevertheless I do fear a return to the cult of the papal personality. Papal canonizations of previous popes simply underline my concerns. How many former popes is Francis going to canonize? Why?


And very frankly, I have seen very little "progressive" theology or healthy and truly contemporary theological decisions coming from his pen.


Since Vatican II, we have stressed that we are a church of collegiality and shared decision-making. At all levels. I want to see some powerful signs that Francis and his administration are moving in that same direction.


And of course, three years from now I hope Pope Francis has not become a resuscitated Pio Nono!

Jack Dick is ARCC Vice-president
Catholic Church Reform 
Teleconference Call
As Sister Joan Chittister, a strong advocate for reform in the Catholic Church, reminded many recently, "For the first time in years, reform-minded Catholics find themselves at a moment of opportunity, a time that could well begin again the kind of church renewal Vatican II heralded for all the world to see....With the election of Jorge Bergoglio as the simple Pope Francis, it is possible that the time of listening has finally come, if we can possibly get his ear....My hope is that by putting all of our petitions in the same envelope we may actually visualize the breadth and depth of this movement more effectively than any amount of words can do."
In response, a  teleconference call is scheduled for 

Wednesday, September 4th. 


The phone number is:


712-432-0080 and the code is 1031413


You are welcome to join in or simply listen in. The purpose of the call is to find our common voice on a single issue that we, as members of Church organizations and reform groups, want to have delivered to Pope Francis.


Because we are a worldwide group, the time for the call is:

U.S. eastern time: 10:00 A.M.

U.S. central time: 9:00 A.M.

U. S. mountain time: 8:00 A.M.

U. S. pacific time: 7:00 A.M.;

U.K. time, Ireland time, and Italy time: 3:00 P.M.

Sydney, Australia time: midnight 

Catholic Church Reform  

Some things we have been reading  
Labor Day Reflection: Income Inequality and a Call to Vigilance 
Fr. Clete Kiley   Aug.28, 2013

Income inequality is at a boiling point in America today.  In the U.S. the Economic Policy Institute reports in a recent study that 1% of this nation holds 35% of its wealth. The top 10% receive 45% of the income, while 90% split up the other 55% of income. The sad fact is, as America Magazine reported in May of this year, "wages have been stagnant for decades. Three decades ago, CEO's in the United States were paid 42 times as much as the average U.S. worker. Today they earn 354 times as much."  For low wage workers, one job does not provide for a living at all. What was once a thriving and hopeful Middle Class is quickly evaporating, and its hope for a share in the American Dream with it. How long can our Nation sustain this downward spiral?


Not only is the income gap seemingly out of control, but it is also no coincidence that in recent years we have seen an orchestrated effort to cripple the National Labor Relations Board. We have watched the hold up of appointments to the Labor Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Consumer Fraud Agency. These along with labor unions are the instruments that protect workers and resist their being treated as commodities. These are the very agencies that help reduce gross income inequalities.


Make no mistake about it: there has been an orchestrated assault on labor unions and union organizing at every turn. Right-to-work laws and other assaults on union political funds have one goal in mind: to limit the participation of workers in our democracy. Meanwhile corporate giants and billionaires, like the Koch brothers, thanks to the Supreme Court decision in Citizens United, can outspend unions by some estimates at 300:1. So, what happened to our country? How did we get here?


Pope Benedict said it succinctly: There is the "prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which finds its expression in an unregulated capitalism." (World Day of Peace Address, January 1, 2013) Pope Francis, in an address on May 16th , 2013, said: "Human beings themselves are nowadays considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away." He said: "[W]hile the income of a minority is increasing exponentially, that of the majority is crumbling. This imbalance results from ideologies which uphold the absolute autonomy of the markets and financial speculation, and deny the right of control to States, which are themselves charged with providing to the common good."

. . . .

It's time to address gross income inequalities. It's time to reaffirm Catholic support for labor unions. It's time to insist on an active and regulatory  role for government  in the protection of workers, their rights, and the most vulnerable.   

Read more

Can we hope that right judgement on Syria will win out in Washington too?
James Roberts     Aug.30, 2013
Common sense prevailed in the Commons last night. In the wake of the discovery of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, the House was asked to back US-led punitive missile strikes.   . . . .
The chances of common sense prevailing in Washington are slimmer. President Barack Obama drew a 'red line' on chemical weapons use, so anyone who wanted to drag the US into the war knew exactly what they had to do. History is littered with political leaders prepared to countenance deaths on a terrible scale rather than lose face. That seems to be the choice facing Mr Obama. The way to true greatness, of course, is through humility, and we will soon know how small or great Mr Obama is. Will we see a few peevish missile strikes, and accompanying 'collateral damage', all supposed to 'teach Assad a lesson'? Or will we see a non-self-regarding concern for innocent life?

Meanwhile Vladimir Putin, simply by asking for patience and prudence, has for some managed to occupy higher moral ground than the President of the United States himself.


If Obama has ears to hear, let him hear: he might regard as predictable the Vatican's call for dialogue and negotiation in Syria as 'the only option'; he might regard as irrelevant Syriac Catholic Patriarch Youssef III Younan's insistence, on 26 August, that Syrian Christians 'have been betrayed and sold by the West' and are 'disillusioned by its cynical, Machiavellian' policies; he might consider a touch excitable the view of Melkite Patriarch Gregory III, who is based in Syria and Lebanon, that any Western intervention would be 'disastrous', or Bishop Antoine Audo of Aleppo's warning that Western intervention could lead to 'a world war'; he might think Fr Jacques Mourad, abbot of the monastery of Deir Mar Musa in northern Damascus, was exaggerating when he said Syrian Christians were 'in a phase of extreme suffering' and that he hoped Western countries would 'reject all forms of violence'; while the assessment of the patriarch of Babylon of the Chaldeans, Louis Raphael I Sako, that any US-led military intervention would be 'like a volcano erupting with an explosion meant to destroy Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine' is, well, unbalanced.


But it appears that these voices, all of Middle Eastern Christians, have gone unheeded. The United States and the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia have between them seen the ancient Christian populations of the Middle East decimated in the last ten years. The abandonment of the Copts to their fate at the hands of the Muslim Brotherhood, to be rescued only by the Egyptian Army last month, is simply scandalous. If you're a Middle Eastern Christian and look to Washington, abandon hope now.   

Pope said preparing to name new secretary of state 
UPI       Aug.30, 2013

Pope Francis is reportedly preparing to replace Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone , the Vatican's secretary of state, an Italian newspaper said Friday.


Bertone will be replaced by archbishop Pietro Parolin, the Vatican's representative in Venezuela, the Italian news agency ANSA reported, citing a story in the daily Corriere della Sera.


An announcement is expected Sunday.  

Pope Francis Versus the Vatican
The battle to remake the Church
Damon Linker    Aug.18, 2013

It is natural to judge a man by the car he drives, or is driven in, especially when the man happens to be the Pope. On the evening of March 13, 2013, a short time after the College of Cardinals elected him the two hundred sixty-fifth successor to St. Peter and leader of the world's 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, Jorge Mario Bergoglio surprised Church authorities and the international press corps by eschewing the papal limousine provided for his use and instead riding back to his hotel by bus. Since then, he has swapped out the armored Mercedes SUV that ferried his predecessor to events in favor of a far less fancy make and model. Pope Francis's Pope-mobile is sometimes a Ford Focus.


The gestures have continued. The Pope who took his papal name from Saint Francis of Assisi, an apostle to the downtrodden, has urged admirers from his native Argentina to donate money to the poor instead of spending it on a trip to pay their tributes in Rome. He has chosen to reside in the Vatican's modest guesthouse rather than the comparatively lavish Apostolic Palace and makes it clear that he prefers to carry his own bags. On Holy Thursday, Pope Francis washed the feet of two women in juvenile detention, one of whom was a Muslim, breaking from the tradition that restricts the ritual to men and mostly to priests in the Vatican entourage.


Such expressions of modesty and humility have come as a shock to many observers. From October 1978, when Karol Józef Wojtyła became Pope John Paul II, until this past February, when his successor, Pope Benedict XVI, renounced the throne, the world became accustomed to a very different style of Vatican leadership. The last two Popes appeared to rejoice in elevating themselves above the laity with theatrical displays of pontifical pomp. Both permitted clericalism to flourish, sometimes (as in the case of child sexual abuse by priests and its cover-up by higher-ranking officials) with horrifying consequences. Both appeared to delight in upbraiding the Western world for its (mostly sexual) sins.

. . . .

This conviction-that the Pope is in the process of making a radical break with the past-has fast become conventional wisdom. Even an analyst normally as sober and sensible as John L. Allen Jr. of the National Catholic Reporter has gone so far as to conclude that nothing less than a Vatican "revolution" is underway.


It isn't. Francis's renewed emphasis on the poor is certainly welcome and valuable, and there are circumscribed areas in which the Pope may achieve real reforms. But when progressive Catholics pine for change, they mostly mean that they want to see the Church brought into conformity with the egalitarian ethos of modern liberalism, including its embrace of gay rights, sexual freedom, and gender equality. And that simply isn't going to happen. To hope or expect otherwise is to misread this Pope, misinterpret the legacy of his predecessors, and misunderstand the calcified structure of the Church itself. 

Read more

Looking at the Pope in the New Republic 
Ken Briggs     Aug.21, 2013


The accomplished writer Damon Linker provides a first rate cover story on Pope Francis for the New Republic, both sophisticated and notably charitable.


Linker frames the piece in terms of whether the Francis papacy is good or bad for Catholic progressives. While he echoes the broad view that Francis has the right stuff to raise hopes for church reform on such matters as birth control and women's ordination, he carefully cites the pope's record to dampen prospects that any major change will happen.


In so doing, however, he shuns opinion and relies on the glaring differences between Vatican politics and American style democracy that make it so unlikely that a pope will challenge the system. A turnabout in church theological directions would require an existing diversity of fundamental thought among the chief players, he notes, whereas  in fact the leadership pool is made up of clerics molded into a relatively super-conformist monolith.


In that climate,  though the pope exhibits empathy for gays, for example, nothing whatever indicates that warm feelings can possibly translate into a backing down from the "more or less intrinsically disordered" judgment leveled against active gay love by John Paul II. '

. . . .

At the same time, Linker praises the pope's demeanor and the gist of his message, and while he thinks progressives will be disappointed, he thinks the good vibes could initiate long range results, like the image of the butterfly's mild stirring causing a chain effect on the universe. There he invokes the traditional "thinking in centuries" fall back position that sustains Catholics for reasons seemingly other than empirical.  

Read more

Pope, Jordanian king agree dialogue 'only option' in Syria  
Philip Pullella   Aug.29, 2013

Pope Francis and King Abdullah of Jordan agreed on Thursday that dialogue was the "only option" to end the conflict in Syria , the Vatican said, as the United States and its allies weighed plans for a military strike.


Abdullah flew to Rome specifically to meet the pope to discuss the Middle East crisis. The king, Queen Rania and the pope spoke privately for 20 minutes in the Vatican's apostolic palace.


The king and the pontiff "reaffirmed that the path of dialogue and negotiations among all components of Syrian society, with the backing of the international community, is the only option to end the conflict and the violence that each day cause the loss of so many human lives, most of all among the defenceless population", the Vatican said in a statement. 

Read more

Is the Roman Curia reformable?
Leonardo Boff      Aug.27, 2013

The Roman Curia is made up of all the bodies that help the Pope rule the Church within the 44 hectares that surround the basilica of St. Peter. There are a little over three thousand employees. It was born small in the 12th century but changed into a body of experts in 1588 with Pope Sixtus V, forged especially to cope with the Reformers -- Luther, Calvin and others. Paul VI in 1967, and Pope John Paul II in 1998, tried unsuccessfully to reform it.


It is considered one of the most conservative governing administrations in the world and so powerful that it practically delayed, shelved and voided the changes introduced by the two previous Popes and blocked the progressive line of Vatican II (1962-1965). Unaffected, it continues as if it were working not for a time but for eternity.

. . . .

In a speech to members of the Curia on February 22, 1975, Pope Paul VI accused the Roman Curia of assuming "an attitude of superiority and pride before the episcopal college and the People of God."


By combining Franciscan tenderness with Jesuit sternness, will Pope Francis manage to give it a different format? He has wisely surrounded himself with eight experienced cardinals from every continent to accompany him and to accomplish this mammoth task with the purges that must necessarily occur.  


Behind it all, there is a historical-theological problem which greatly hinders the reform of the Curia. It is expressed by two conflicting views. 


The first springs from the fact that, after the proclamation of the infallibility of the Pope in 1870 with the subsequent Romanization (standardization) of the whole Church, there was a maximum concentration at the head of the pyramid -- in the Papacy with "supreme, full, and immediate" power (Canon 331).   . . . .  The Curia then closed in around the Pope, making him its prisoner, sometimes blocking initiatives that didn't agree with its traditional conservatism or simply shelving projects until they were forgotten. 


The other side knows the weight of the monarchic papacy and seeks to give life to the Synod of Bishops, a collegial body created by the Second Vatican Council to assist the Pope in governing the Universal Church. It happens that John Paul II and Benedict XVI, pressured by the Curia who saw this as a way of breaking the centralism of Roman power, turned it into just an advisory and not a deliberative body.
. . . .

The best way to reform the Curia, in the opinion of experts on Vatican affairs and also some hierarchs, would be a major decentralization of its functions. We are in the era of globalization and real time electronic communications. If the Catholic Church wants to adjust to this new phase of humanity, there's nothing better than making an organizational revolution.  

Read more

Egypt's Coptic Church announces support for army, police
Al Arabiya    Aug.17, 2013

Coptic popeEgypt's Orthodox Coptic Church announced on Friday its support for the military and security forces in their fight against what it called "groups of armed violence."


"The Egyptian Coptic Church is following the unfortunate developments on the ground of our country Egypt and emphasizes its strong stance with the Egyptian police, armed forces and other organizations of the Egyptian people in the face of groups of armed violence and black terrorism," the church said in a statement.


"While we appreciate the sincere and friendly position that understands the nature of the developments, we strongly deplore the media fallacies that are prevalent in Western countries," the statement added. 

Read more

Leadership Conference of Women Religious Assembly Explores Issues Facing the Global Community
:CWR Release      Aug.19, 2013

At the annual assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) held in Orlando, FL, August 13-16, the more than 820 participants discussed some of the critical issues facing the global community and how US Catholic sisters may respond to them.


In a keynote address, theologian Sister Ilia Delio, OSF spoke to the destruction of the planet and the need for recognition of the place of humanity in the evolutionary process. Noting that the decisions made today will shape the future direction of evolution, she said, "The choices we make in love and for love co-create our future. When we see ourselves as part of a larger whole, we act on behalf of the whole of which we are a part. Christian evolution is thinking and seeing in a new way.

. . . .

Three executive sessions were held during the course of the assembly where LCWR members discussed the doctrinal assessment of the organization by the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).  


At the first executive session, the LCWR officers shared their impressions of the meetings that had taken place between themselves and Archbishop Sartain, as well as his two assistants, Bishop Leonard Blair and Bishop Thomas John Paprocki. LCWR invited Archbishop Sartain to address the assembly during the second session and then to listen to the members' response to his remarks. At a third session the members gave direction to the LCWR officers for next steps in working with the three bishop delegates. All sessions were conducted in a process of contemplative discernment where time was provided for prayer, silence, and respectful listening.


Immediately following the assembly, the 21-member LCWR national board held a three-day meeting that began with a two-hour debriefing session with Archbishop Sartain. At the conclusion of its meeting, the board issued the following statement:

"The session with Archbishop Sartain allowed a profound and honest sharing of views. Due to time limitations during the assembly, Archbishop Sartain had little opportunity to answer the members' questions. Clearly, however, he had been listening intently and heard the concerns voiced by the members, and their desire for more information. The extraordinarily rich and deeply reverent conversation during the board meeting gave us a greater understanding of Archbishop Sartain, and we believe he now also better understands us. Although we remain uncertain as to how our work with the bishop delegates will proceed, we maintain hope that continued conversations of this depth will lead to a resolution of this situation that maintains the integrity of LCWR and is healthy for the whole church." 

Read more

Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America

"Women & Spirit: Catholic Sisters in America," a one-hour documentary, will be available for broadcast to local NBC stations beginning September 15, 2013, as  part of the NBC "Horizons of the Spirit" series. Please write or call your station's manager and/or program director and ask them to schedule a broadcast of this program because of its high community interest and benefit. It is the virtual untold story of the nearly 300-year history of Catholic sisters in the U.S., and how they have helped shaped our nation's social, cultural and spiritual landscapes. A sample email, letter and phone call script and more information is available at

NCR receives Hilton Foundation grant for coverage of sisters 
NCR Staff      Aug.22, 2013

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation has awarded a grant of $2.3 million over three years that will allow the National Catholic Reporter Publishing Co. to embark on a groundbreaking project to give greater voice to countless Catholic sisters around the globe. With the use of the Hilton Foundation grant, NCR plans to build a network of editors and reporters not only to write about women religious, but to help them develop their own communication skills by working with them as columnists who report their own missions and challenges.


"We've been standing with sisters from the beginning, and I consider the grant encouragement to go on telling their stories," said NCR Board Chair Annette E. Lomont.


"The work of these women religious is one of the least-told stories in the church," NCR Publisher Tom Fox said Thursday. "It's really an exciting challenge to bring these stories and voices to greater awareness. It also recognizes the changing nature of our global church." 

Read more

Archbishop Martin may be set for top Rome post 
Michael Kelly and Cathal Barry     Aug.22, 2013

Speculation is mounting among senior Dublin clergy that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin may be set for a swift move to Rome for a senior position in the Vatican.

. . . .

A number of senior sources within the Dublin archdiocese, including in Archbishop's House, have told The Irish Catholic that there is a growing sense that Dr Martin will be called to Rome to run a Vatican department, possibly within weeks.


The appointment of Bishop Eamonn Walsh as Vicar for Clergy, as revealed in this newspaper last week, is being seen as an indication that Archbishop Martin is keen to leave a safe pair of hands in Dublin despite previous tension between the two men.

. . . .  

Msgr Lorcan O'Brien, Moderator of the Curia and a close confidant of Archbishop Martin, had announced that he would move on from Archbishop's House this autumn. However, that decision was reversed at the last minute and Msgr O'Brien will now stay on in his key administrative role for at least another year. 


Sources in Archbishop's House say this is another sign that Dr Martin is keen to keep a sense of continuity in the central administration of the country's largest diocese, adding to the speculation that he will shortly be on the move.


The positioning of allies of the archbishop in key Vatican reform moves is also seen as crucial. He is close to Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga who is heading up a committee of cardinals advising the Pope on Vatican reform. Both men are in close contact and it is known that Cardinal Maradiaga thinks highly of Archbishop Martin's ability. Another member of the same committee, which reports directly to the Pope, is Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley, who worked closely with Archbishop Martin on a Vatican inquiry in Ireland in the wake of the abuse scandals.


Dr Martin can also count the powerful head of the Vatican's Congregation for Bishops Cardinal Marc Ouellet as in his corner. Cardinal Ouellet was the Pope's representative to last year's Eucharistic Congress in Dublin and it is known that both men share a warm rapport.

. . . .

Pope Francis is expected to announce a swathe of key appointments within weeks, including the powerful post of Vatican Secretary of State. 

Read more

People close to ISIS verbally refute Syrian Observatory for Human Rights report on Father Paolo
FaceBook      Aug.19, 2013

People close to ISIS verbally refute SOHR report on Father Paolo

Persons close to the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) stated that the Italian Jesuit priest and the messenger of peace Father Paolo Dall' Oglio, who was kidnapped by ...them by the end of last month, is still alive.


These sources stated that Father Paolo, who is considered an important supporter of the Syrian revolution, has been disappeared in order that he be able to meet the leader of the ISIS Abu Bakr al-Bahgdadi.


This information comes as a response to the report released by the SOHR last Wednesday, which transmitted information from activists and friends close to Father Paolo in Raqqah city who confirmed that the priest was killed in the detention centre of the ISIS. 

Read more

Extensive Bibliography on Clergy Sex Abuse

Fr. Tom Doyle, long-time advocate for clergy sex abuse victims, has compiled an extensive listing of articles, videos, and documents about clergy sex abuse.


Organized into categories, the bibliography cites books and articles about clergy abuse, toxic religion, theological perspectives, the sociology and philosophy of religion, canon law, civil law, history, the psychology and trauma of sex abuse, official Church documents, documentaries and movies. It's an invaluable guide to the information available on sex abuse by clergy. 

Read more

Archbishop Robert Carlson Seeks to Dismiss Sex Abuse Lawsuit, Argues Archdiocese Isn't Liable
Sam Levin    Aug.21, 2013

Last month, a Lincoln county family filed a lawsuit against St. Louis Archbishop Robert Carlson alleging that he tried to cover up a sex abuse case involving a local priest and even attempted to tamper with incriminating evidence. The priest in question is Father Xiu Hui "Joseph" Jiang  who reportedly has very close ties to Carlson -- and who is accused of repeatedly molesting a teenage girl.


Now, Carlson has filed a formal response to the suit, asking the courts to dismiss it, arguing that neither he nor the Archdiocese of St. Louis is liable.

. . . .

Additionally, this may be the first time that Carlson has ever been subpoenaed in a criminal case .


In the case of Jiang, there is both an ongoing criminal case and civil suit. The abuse is said to have occurred inside the home of the victim, whose family was reportedly very close to the priest.


Carlson's response doesn't necessarily address the accusations head-on but argues that legally, he and the Archdiocese of St. Louis cannot be liable on any of the counts. 

Read more

Bill to give sex-abuse victims more time to sue advances on second try 
Melanie Mason     Aug.23, 20136
After failing to muster enough support last week, a bill that would give some sex-abuse victims more time to file lawsuits advanced in an Assembly committee Wednesday.

SB 131, sponsored by Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), would lift the statute of limitations for one year to enable some victims of childhood sexual abuse to sue private or nonprofit employers that failed to protect them from known molesters.


The Catholic Church has fiercely lobbied against the measure, saying a flood of new suits could cripple the church economically, forcing parochial schools to close.


At an emotional hearing of the Assembly Appropriations committee last week, victims told stories of grappling with their abuse for decades after it occurred. Supporters of the measure say that because some victims can take years to acknowledge they were molested, they need more time to file lawsuits. 

Read more

Standing up to Newark Archbishop John Myers: Opinion 
Robert M. Hoatson      Aug.28, 2013

It was sometime in the late 1980s and I was working on my doctoral dissertation in my fifth-floor bedroom in a Hell's Kitchen, Manhattan, walk-up occupied by the Irish Christian Brothers. I picked up a copy of the National Catholic Reporter and read a piece about a bishop from Peoria, Ill., John J. Myers, who was making a name for himself by stressing orthodoxy and recruiting large numbers of vocations to the priesthood for the Peoria diocese.


What struck me most glaringly, however, was how mean Myers was toward people who may not have lived up to his standard of Catholic teaching. It was clear from the article that Myers was on the fast track among the church hierarchy, but the faithful - some of whom were excoriated by Myers for this or that offense against supposed church teachings - did not quite know how to judge the new bishop of Peoria and found his methods less than pastoral.


It was while I was reading that article that I had a premonition that has stayed with me to this day. It was a voice - the Holy Spirit, no doubt - who communicated to me a message: "Someday, you will have to confront and stand up to this man."

. . . .

Skip ahead to 2003. I was fired from my ministry at Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Newark by Archbishop Myers exactly three days after I testified before the New York state legislature and called for the resignation of any bishop who has covered up sexual abuse by clergy.


I was told by Myers' lieutenant, Bishop Arthur Serratelli, currently the bishop of Paterson, to tone down my language about clergy sexual abuse and possible cover-ups of such. Serratelli then said to me, "You know, Bob, not all bishops are bad." I have yet to receive confirmation of Serratelli's declaration.


Serratelli then slipped a letter to me that indicated Myers had fired me from my inner-city educational ministry.


Within a day or two of my firing, I received a telephone call from a Peoria priest, Patrick Collins, who comforted me and told me not to worry because the history of John Myers in the Peoria Diocese would begin to leak out. He was referencing clergy sexual abuse and other aberrations of Myers' tenure in Peoria.


What I didn't realize after speaking to Collins was that it would take us a dozen years of confronting and standing up to Myers to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. 

A few months ago, Collins and I joined several courageous men and women church ministers in launching a new group called Catholic Whistle Blowers. We are a group of priests, nuns and lay people who listened to the voice of the Holy Spirit in our local churches and responded when we saw corruption and injustice. It led all of us to be marginalized, criticized, labeled, fired and expelled from jobs and ministries. 

Read more

Blast from Archbishop Myers's past
Grant Gallicho      Aug.19, 2013

The Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, has agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that Archbishop John J. Myers--who served there as bishop from 1990 to 2001--failed to remove a priest from ministry despite having evidence that he had abused a minor. (Myers, you'll recall, has come in for some criticism regarding his handling of accused priests in his current diocese, Newark.)


The plaintiff, Andrew Ward, now twenty-five, accused the late Rev. Thomas Maloney of molesting him in 1995 and '96, when Ward was eight. About a year earlier, a woman informed the diocese that Maloney had abused her sister when she was ten years old. Myers denies knowing anything about it. Indeed, if anything comes through in the 2010 deposition of Myers, just unsealed as part of the settlement, it's that the archbishop's memory is less than ideal.

. . . .

But if one thing can be said about Archbishop Myers's handling of sexual-abuse allegations, it's that he knows what counts. At one point during the deposition, plaintiff's attorney Jeff Anderson asks, "Under canon law you're aware that if there is an allegation of sexual abuse by a priest, the bishop is required to conduct investigation, correct?" Myers's response will not reassure Newark's Catholic parents: "If he knows about it." 

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Suffer the little children
Suffer the little children


Newark archbishop strikes back at critics, says 'God will surely address them in due time'
Mark Mueller     Aug.20, 2013

In a sharply worded offensive, Newark Archbishop John J. Myers lashed out at the media and his critics in a letter released over the weekend, saying he has been the target of "deceitful and misleading" information about his oversight of sexually abusive priests.


Myers, who has limited his public comments in the face of recent scandals, took broad aim in the letter, addressed to priests of the archdiocese and distributed to parishioners at weekend services in Essex, Union, Bergen and Hudson counties.


In addition to the media, he questioned the motivations of politicians and former or retired clergy members who have spoken out against him, terming them "traveling bandwagons" and suggesting they have a prejudiced and spiteful view of the Roman Catholic faith. He suggested, too, they would be judged by God.


"For any who set out to claim that I or the Church have had no effective part in the love and protection of children, is simply evil, wrong, immoral, and seemingly focused on their own self-aggrandizement," Myers wrote. "God only knows their personal reasons and agenda. We are still called to love them. And God will surely address them in due time." 

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Michigan Court of Appeals: Members of clergy not required to report child abuse
Kevin Grasha       Aug.24, 2013

The state appeals court has ruled that a member of the clergy is not required to report child abuse when a church member seeks confidential guidance.


The published opinion by a three-judge Michigan Court of Appeals panel was released Thursday.


The case originated in Ionia County, involving a woman who in 2009 suspected her husband had her daughters touch their own genitalia in front of him. The woman went to her pastor, John Prominski of Resurrection Life Church in Ionia, seeking "family and spiritual guidance and spiritual advice," according to court documents.


Prominski told the woman it was something he could handle through counseling, according to court testimony, and told her she didn't need to report it to police. 

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Cardinal O'Brien 'blocked inquiry into sex abuse '
Stephen McGinty      Aug.25 2013

Disgraced Cardinal Keith O'Brien blocked an independent inquiry into cases of historic sexual abuse that had the support of every other bishop in Scotland, the retired Archbishop of Glasgow, Mario Conti, has revealed.


The Catholic Church in Scotland had planned to invite an independent academic to compile a report on each diocese's "secret archives" and each bishop's handling of allegations, which would then be made public.


However, Cardinal O'Brien, then the president of the Bishops' Conference, refused to co-operate and the planned inquiry was shelved, Archbishop Conti wrote in a letter to be published in the Catholic newspaper theTablet today.


Cardinal O'Brien was forced to resign in March after admitting "inappropriate behaviour" with priests and a seminarian, and is currently in an unknown monastery for a period of "prayer and penance" ordered by Pope Francis.


In a letter defending the Catholic Church in Scotland's handling of allegations of sexual abuse, Archbishop Conti wrote: "It was the intention of all but one member of the Bishops' Conference to commission an independent examination of the historical cases we had on file in all of our respective dioceses and publish the results, but this was delayed by the objection of the then president of the conference; without full participation of all the dioceses the exercise would have been faulty." 

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Church child sex abuse inquiry Sydney hearings 
Ian Kirkwood      Aug.28, 2013

The Special Commission of Inquiry into the handling of child sex abuse allegations in the Maitland-Newcastle diocese of the Catholic Church has announced further public hearings in Sydney.


The hearings, with Monsignor John Usher and Father Brian Lucas, are scheduled to start at 10am on September 9.


The commission finished its scheduled public hearings in Newcastle on August 1, but commissioner Margaret Cunneen has held a series of in-camera hearings during the intervening weeks. 

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St Catherine's Children's Home (Or: In-House Paedophile)
Lewis Blayse      Aug.19, 2013

The St. Catherine's Girls Home, at Geelong in Victoria, is yet another of the old Children's Homes worthy of new look by the Australian Royal Commission into child sexual abuse. There are two main reasons for this.


Firstly, there is the matter that a flat was maintained within the Home for a priest who acted as a "chaplain". This provided the potential for abuse. Indeed, that happened with one Fr. Bernard Maxwell Day, who occupied the flat between 1961 and 1963.


It was the practice in St. Catherine's that, after early morning Mass, the priest's breakfast would be prepared in the convent kitchen and a girl would have to take it to the priest's flat. A girl would also be sent to tidy the priest's bedroom and make his bed. These women say that Father Day used to sit girls on his knee and touch them indecently. They assumed that this was the normal job of priests.


Former inmates of St Catherine's say that Mother Aquin learned about Father Day molesting girls and she therefore had him removed from the institution. This forms the second basis of concern about this particular Home. There is no evidence that Day was reported to the appropriate authorities. 

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Suspended Vatican accountant linked to suspect spiritual group
Andrea Gagliarducci     Aug.15, 2013

The Vatican accountant who was recently suspended for allegedly trying to smuggle $26 million had been part of a group known as "The Flock," which has supposed Mafia connections.


Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is currently under arrest in Italy for an alleged plan to transfer 20 million Euro from Switzerland to Italy aboard an Italian government airplane.


Italian newspaper "Il Mattino" reports that Msgr. Scarano was entrusted with the management of a network of real estate activities for the spiritual family "L'opera del gregge del Bamin Gesù," or "The works of the flock of the infant Jesus."


"The Flock," as it is known, was a sort of spiritual family formed in Salerno by a group of priests aged 40-50 who gathered around a visionary known by his first name, Caterina. 

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Former priest among four probed in Italian sex slavery cult 
UPI      Aug.23, 2013

Four people, including a former priest, were under investigation Friday for a cult involving sex slavery in Tuscany, Italian police said.


Authorities were looking into allegations of mistreatment of nine men and a woman in a religious cult based in Montecchio di Cortona, as well as misappropriation of funds, the newspaper Gazetta del Sud reported Friday.


Florence investigators said cult members were subjected to sexual and psychological violence, and identified the cult leader as Mauro Cioni, 68, a former priest who left the Catholic clergy in 1985.


In the late 1980s Cioni found adherents to what he termed living "another form of Christianity," forcing them to cut ties to family and work, hand over their financial holdings and submit themselves to his sex-related orders, investigators said. 

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Controversial Catholic Bishop Faces Calls to Resign in Limburg 
Spiegel     Aug.28, 2013

If there's a place in Germany associated with rebellion these days, then it's the city of Limburg, where even the most pious of Catholics are protesting against their regional church leader, Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst. For several years, the bishop has been a lightning rod for criticism because he has lived in luxury while simultaneously extolling the virtues of poverty and humility. More than anything, though, he has become a symbol of a Catholic Church that has seen its membership swiftly dwindle in Germany following a series of scandals that have shaken public faith in the religious institution.


Tebartz-van Elst has been accused of lying, narcissism and of squandering church money with his extravagance. New accusations are being lodged against the bishop on an almost weekly basis, and even veteran pastors on the board of priests in Limburg have had enough. 

. . . . 

Tebartz-van Elst's days appear to be numbered. Few believe the head of the diocese will still be in office within the coming days. The hold up: Tebartz-van Elst can only leave office is if he himself resigns. But so far he has eschewed the advice to step down given to him by other bishops. Meanwhile, efforts to find a different job for him in Rome have also failed to bear fruit. As long as the bishop, once a man viewed as a potentially great leader by conservative Catholics, remains in office, he will further damage the church's image.


The tide is quickly turning against him. During this weekend's services in Frankfurt and in many churches in smaller towns located within the diocese, direct or indirect criticism of Tebartz-van Elst prompted applause. "Life punishes those who wait too long to leave," Pastor Hubertus Janssen, a 75-year-old priest well-known throughout the diocese, said in the closing words of his sermon on Sunday, hinting that the bishop should step down. His followers clapped approvingly. 

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Mexican Catholic Bishop: Homophobia is 'Mental Illness' 
John M. Becker  Aug.22, 2013

In an interview with Terra Mexico posted yesterday, José Raúl Vera López -- the Roman Catholic bishop of Saltillo, Mexico -- spoke out forcefully against homophobia. Bp. Vera said that people must stop using the words of the Bible to bash LGBTs, and that when one reads the Bible within its proper historical context, it becomes crystal clear that it does not condemn homosexuality as we understand it today.


The bishop reserved his harshest criticism for homophobes:

"Why would I immediately think a gay or lesbian person is perverse or depraved the moment they approach me? That's how people who are homophobic react. It's a mental illness in which you see gays as depraved and promiscuous. You have to be sick in the head for that."

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State AG: Public health districts must offer birth control, abortion 
Joel Connelly      Aug.21, 2013

Any public health district in Washington that provides maternity care must continue to offer "substantially equivalent benefits" in the form of contraception and abortion services, even if it contracts with a religious-affiliated medical organization, state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said in an opinion Wednesday.


"I fully expect all public hospital districts to comply with this opinion," Ferguson told a Seattle news conference.


Attorney General Bob Ferguson:  Public health districts must provide contraceptive and abortion services, if they deliver babies.

The opinion impacts a growing trend in Washington, in which small local hospitals have chosen to affiliate with larger health organizations, including Catholic-affiliated PeaceHealth and Providence Health and Services.


Under a directive by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, church-affiliated hospitals cannot perform abortions, are restricted in contraceptive services and cannot assist in patient suicides.

State Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas, asked the AG if a public hospital district would violate the state's Initiative 120 if it solely contracts with a health care provider - such as a Catholic-affiliated hospital - that does not provide reproductive care services such as contraception and abortion.


Under the terms of I-120, adopted by voters in 1991, a public hospital district "may not provide maternity care without abortion and birth control . . . There are more than 50 public hospitals in Washington and this affects all of them," Ferguson said.  

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Catholic Bishop Gives 'Pro-Life' Movement a Tongue Lashing
Mindy Townsend     Aug.15, 2013 


Earlier this month, Bishop Robert Lynch, of St. Petersburg, Florida, responded to criticism from the anti-choice organization Population Research Institute, who basically accused the Catholic Relief Services of Madagascar of not being anti-choice enough because they worked alongside family planning groups and allegedly handed out condoms. In rebuking the PRI, Bishop Lynch gave ostensibly "pro-life" groups a bit of a tongue lashing:

I am convinced that many so called Pro-Life groups are not really pro-life but merely anti-abortion. We heard nothing from the heavy hitters in the prolife movement in the last week when Florida last night executed a man on death row for 34 years having been diagnosed as a severe schizophrenic. Which personality did the state execute? Many priests grow weary of continual calls to action for legislative support for abortion and contraception related issues but nothing for immigration reform, food aid, and capital punishment.


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Malaysia: Court Allows Appeal Over the Use of Allah 
Associated Press       Aug.22, 2013

Malaysia's government on Thursday won the right to appeal a court ruling that allowed the country's non-Muslim minority to use the word Allah to refer to God. Appeal hearings are scheduled to start Sept. 10 to resolve the politically delicate dispute that prompted attacks on Malaysian churches and other places of worship more than three years ago. Allah is the Arabic word for God and is commonly used in the Malay language to refer to God. The government, however, insists that Allah is an Islamic word and that its use by others would confuse Muslims. The Court of Appeals ruled Thursday that the government could challenge a 2009 verdict by a lower court that permitted the newspaper of the Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia to use Allah. 

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Fired lesbian teacher Carla Hale won't get job back in deal with diocese
JoAnne Viviano      Aug.1, 2013

A lesbian teacher who was fired from a Catholic high school in March will not get her job back as part of a resolution she reached with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus.


Carla Hale's attorney and the diocese said in a joint statement yesterday that Hale will not return to Bishop Watterson High School "but will receive acknowledgement for her years of service." Neither Hale's attorney nor the diocese would elaborate. 

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NOTE:  Please sign the petition below, no later than Labor Day.  Then, on or about September 8th, a copy of this letter, along with all the signatures, will be sent by the Misguided Missal Team to Cardinal O'Malley.  This will allow him time to prepare for his meeting in October with Pope Francis, and his other seven newly appointed advisors.  Please make copies of this letter for anyone who does not use the internet or is otherwise unaware of our web site.  All are invited to sign it, pass it along, and send it to Cardinal O'Malley by September 8th.

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