Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Jan. 6, 2017

Highlighting issues we face working together
                        to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

TOP STORIES

Hundreds of church sex abuse victims continue to come forward
Fifteen years after the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston broke into public view, hundreds of victims around the world continue to come forward, including some who say they were attacked as recently as 2001, advocates said Thursday. Two victims’ support groups and a lawyer who has represented more than 2,000 survivors worldwide denounced church officials for doing too little to help those who were abused and to protect children from harm, despite ongoing revelations about the scope of the crisis.” By Laura Crimaldi, The Boston Globe
 -- Our Fathful Revolution, By Voice of the Faithful

Pope tells bishops to have zero tolerance for sexual abuse
“Pope Francis has told bishops around the world they must adhere to a policy of zero tolerance for clergy who sexually abuse children and begged forgiveness for ‘a sin that shames us.’ In a letter sent on Dec. 28 but released by the Vatican only on Monday (Jan. 2), Francis said: ‘I would like us to renew our complete commitment to ensuring that these atrocities will no longer take place in our midst.’” By Philip Pullella, Reuters
 -- Pope tells clergy to maintain ‘zero tolerance’ for child abuse, By Frances D’Emilio, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis might allow married Catholic priests, says top theologian
“A leading Catholic theologian has revealed that Pope Francis could soon relax the rules on priestly celibacy and allow Catholic priests to marry. Leonardo Boff, from Brazil, a prominent liberation theologian who himself resigned as a priest after his liberal views put him at odds with the hierarchy, said the Brazilian bishops had explicitly asked Pope Francis to allow men who had left the ministry to marry to serve as priests again.” By Ruth Gledhill, Christian Today

Pope vows Vatican reform is real despite resistance
“In his annual speech to the Roman Curia on Thursday (Dec. 22), Pope Francis presented a sweeping vision of reform for the Vatican’s central administration, outlining the values he wants that reform to embody and insisting that old bureaucratic patterns such as ‘promoting to remove’ must come to an end. Pulling no punches, Francis also conceded his efforts at reform have attracted opposition … Yet even resistance for bad motives, he said, ‘is necessary and merits being heard, listened to and encouraged to express itself.’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
 -- Pope in Christmas speech blasts Vatican resistance to reform, By Associated Press

Argentina investigates alleged sex abuse at school
“The children told prosecutors the two Roman Catholic priests repeatedly raped them by an image of the Virgin Mary inside the small school chapel in remote northwestern Argentina. Only their tormenters would have heard their cries because the other children at the school were deaf.” By Almudena Calatrava and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in San Francisco Chronicle
 -- Priests at Argentinian school for deaf youngsters ‘would choose their victims to sexually abuse knowing other children would not hear them scream, By Jennifer Newton, Daily Mail

Scores of sex abuse victims apply to Cardinal Dolan’s program for compensation
More than 60 victims have applied to a program founded by Timothy Cardinal Dolan to compensate people sexually abused as children by clergy in the New York Archdiocese. With still more time to apply, 65 people have provided accounts of abuse by priests when they were minors.” By Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News

The biggest Catholic stories of 2016
“Below are some of the biggest Catholic stories of 2016. What stories do you think should have made the list? Leave your comments below. 1. Catholics from the pope on down played a role in U.S. presidential politics …” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review
 -- At year’s end, the Top Ten Crux stories of 2016, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

First Roman Catholic bishop indicted in clergy abuse scandal dies
“In many ways, former Springfield bishop Thomas L. Dupre epitomized the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church. Dupre, who died Dec. 30 at 83, was the first Roman Catholic bishop to be indicted in the scandal, which burst into public view 15 years ago this month when the Globe’s Spotlight team began reporting about the church hierarchy’s protection of priests who abused minors. Advocates for victims say Dupre had cultivated a culture of secrecy that kept such abuse shrouded for years.” By Lisa Wangsness, The Boston Globe

POPE FRANCIS

Doctrinal authority in the Francis era
“Pope Francis is a remarkable witness to authentic Christian discipleship. On this most Catholics agree. We love his humility and simple lifestyle, his infectious joy, his commitment to fundamental Gospel values. This admiration has not prevented some critics from expressing concerns regarding the exercise of his papal office. Much of the concern has been occasioned by the recent synodal assemblies on marriage and family that he convened, along with the apostolic exhortation he promulgated in response to those assemblies, Amoris Laetitia, ‘The Joy of Love.’” By Richard R. Gaillardetz, Commonweal

For Pope Francis, a year of reconciliation abroad amid opposition at home
“Pope Francis turned 80 this month, at the end of what has been a busy year. He made six foreign trips and oversaw many events and ceremonies with millions of pilgrims throughout what he proclaimed the Holy Year of Mercy. The year was also marked by the pope's efforts to heal divisions within the Christian world and tackle dissension within Catholicism.” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio
 -- Pope Francis outlines more reforms and addresses powerful Church critics, By Rebecca Hersher, National Public Radio

A child abuse scandal is coming for Pope Francis
“The Catholic Church has long been plagued by sickening scandals involving priests abusing children. And there is reportedly another scandal coming — this one of the pope's own making. Two people with direct ties to the Vatican tell me that Pope Francis, following the advice of his clubby group of allies in the curia, is pressing to undo the reforms that were instituted by his predecessors John Paul II and Benedict XVI in handling the cases of abuser priests.” By Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week

Can Pope Francis’ legacy be rolled back? Well, yes and no
“Journalistic convention dictates that whenever we write about Pope Francis these days, we frame things in terms of his supporters and his critics. In reality that’s a bit misleading, since few people fall entirely into one of those two categories. Even the most enthused usually can cite a few times they wish Francis had zigged rather than zagged, and even the most alarmed generally have at least something positive to say. Then, of course, there’s another vast pool of Catholics, to whom the question of what they think of a pope wouldn’t even occur.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Looking back at 2016, the Year of Surprises: Pope Francis
“Having been on the cover of countless newspapers and magazines since the beginning of his pontificate, making a selection of the top Pope Francis stories for 2016 seems almost an impossible challenge … (In this three-part series, Crux’s Inés San Martín reviews 2016 through a Catholic lens. Part one looked at the Church in the United States; part two surveyed the year for the Global Church; here, part three hits the highlights of another remarkable year for Pope Francis, who capped 2016 by celebrating his 80th birthday.)” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis turns 80 and hopes ‘old age is the thirst for knowledge’
“Pope Francis celebrated an active if low-key 80th birthday on Saturday (Dec. 17), sharing breakfast with eight homeless people before celebrating mass with cardinals as greetings poured in from around the world. The pontiff received more than 70,000 email messages wishing him a happy birthday, as well as telephone calls and telegrams from world leaders and religious figures.” By Associated Press in The Guardian
 -- As Pope Francis turns 80, here are 10 of his most memorable quotes, By Catholic Herald

Pope Francis wants change, but does the Church?
“Pope Francis has been nudging the Catholic Church towards a kind of fledgling openness since his election on March 13, 2013. This break from history has been particularly meaningful for those who have experienced the Church's dark, burdened past.” By Christoph Strack, Deutsche Weile

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

German bishops plan guidelines for divorced, remarried
“While bishops in two German dioceses have announced guidelines instructing priests to allow some divorced and remarried Catholics to receive the sacraments, the Vatican's doctrinal chief has reiterated that the church's teaching on the indissolubility of sacramental marriage provides no exceptions. Bishop Karl-Heinz Wiesemann of Speyer, Germany, announced in an interview Dec. 17 that he will publish guidelines on how priests in his diocese should accompany divorced and remarried Catholics who want to receive the sacraments.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter

Thoughts on turning down the heat in the ‘Amoris’ debate
“As most everyone knows, Pope Francis has both fans and critics within the Catholic fold. For those with long memories, that insight rates up there with ‘water is wet’ and ‘the sun came up this morning’ in terms of news value, since every pontiff in the long history of the Church has faced much the same situation. Fans of Francis, however, often insist that the dynamic under this pope is different than the previous two, St. Pope John Paul II and emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, because today papal critics generally are not being accused of dissent, and thus are not being threatened with possible ecclesiastical sanctions.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Crunxow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Meet the captain of the realists on the Church and women
No matter where one stands on women priests in the Catholic Church, the issue obviously isn't going anywhere, and real progress on empowering women thus must come elsewhere. Nobody makes that case better today than Lucetta Scaraffia, as her latest book shows.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

African Jesuit Fr. Orobator quests for women’s inclusion in church structures
“When theologians or others raise concerns about the exclusion of women from decision-making roles in the Catholic church, critics often say such concerns only come from a certain subset of the Western faith community. They say those in places like Africa, where the church is burgeoning, have other worries. Yet one of the most trenchant voices in recent years for the full inclusion of women in Catholic ministry has been a Nigerian Jesuit theologian and priest.’” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

CELIBACY

Brazil may soon have married priests, says Leonardo Boff
“Pope Francis may soon fulfill the Brazilian bishops' special request to allow married priests to resume their priestly ministry, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff said in a Dec. 25 interview in the German daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger. ‘The Brazilian bishops, especially the pope's close friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes, have expressly requested Pope Francis to enable married priests in Brazil to return to their pastoral ministry,’ Boff said.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Is Pope Francis campaigning for married priests, By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

Allow married Catholic priests to halt decline in Ireland, says clergyman
“The Catholic church should accept married men for ordination in an effort to prevent the extinction of priests in Ireland, a prominent clergyman has urged, amid warnings about rising rates of depression, isolation and suicide among the ageing priesthood. Father Brendan Hoban, a co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests (ACP), said urgent action was needed to counter the ‘vocations crisis.’ By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian
 -- Irish priests’ group hails news Pope may let married men be clerics, By Suzanne McGonagle, The Irish News

VOICES

A depressing year for religion news
“The 2016 election — with its polarizing campaign and surprising result — produced not only an unexpected president. It also gave us several of the year’s biggest religion news stories. And while religion gave billions of people meaning in their lives and inspired good deeds, in news coverage it was linked to bloodshed and blamed for fueling bigotry.” By Jerome Socolovsky, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Catholic church struggles to find a new generation of priests in regional areas
“The Catholic Church is struggling to find its next generation of priests, as country dioceses are forced to slash popular masses due to a shortage of priests in regional areas. The number of men who have taken up studies to become a Catholic priest has been decreasing for the past three decades, and now the effects are being felt in rural towns across Australia.” By Isabella Higgins, ABC News Australia

Year in review: Change in the works for U.S. church leadership
(Part 3 of a three-part series looking back on the events of 2016. Find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.) “The estuary where the rivers of church and state run into each other began to change currents in 2016 in ways that were always interesting, sometimes fearful, sometimes hopeful. At both the grassroots level and among leadership, change is in the works.” By Michael Sean Winters

Looking back at 2016, the year of surprises: Church in the U.S.
“In a three-part series, Crux is looking back at the Catholic highlights of 2016. In this installment on the Church in the U.S., we examine the Catholic angle on the Trump v. Clinton race, the shake-up in leadership at the U.S. bishops' conference, and the Church's reaction to a national scourge of gun violence.” By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Lawyers for Msgr. Lynn seek dismissal of retrial for prosecutorial misconduct
“Lawyers for Msgr. William J. Lynn - the Philadelphia archdiocesan official who served 33 months in prison before winning a new trial for his role in the Catholic Church sex-abuse scandal - have asked a judge to dismiss the case because of prosecutorial misconduct. In a motion this week (Dec. 19), defense attorney Thomas A. Bergstrom contended that prosecutors withheld evidence that might have cleared Lynn in his first trial in 2012.” By Joseph A. Slobodzian. Philadelphia Inquirer

Vatican trial finds three El Salvadoran priests guilty of sex abuse
“A Vatican court has found three El Salvadoran priests - including a prominent monsignor - guilty of sexually abusing minors and has suspended them from their priestly duties, the country's senior archbishop has announced. Archbishop Jose Luis Escobar said Monsignor Jesus Delgado, the biographer and former secretary to the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero, was among those convicted by the church court.” By RTE News (Ireland)

Across region, outdated sex abuse laws have loopholes
“Laura and Antonio Siracusa were horrified when then discovered their teenage daughter was in a sexual relationship with her Spanish teacher from Cardinal Spellman High School in Brockton seven years ago. The daughter and teacher denied they were a couple, the Siracusas said … The Catholic school fired the teacher after administrators saw the photos, according to the Siracusas and their attorney.” By Todd Wallack, Jonathan Saltzman and Jenn Abelson, The Boston Globe

NEW YORK

Longtime Syracuse priest cleared of allegations, reinstated to Oneida county church
“The Rev. Paul F. Angelicchio, a priest in the Syracuse area for years before becoming pastor of St. John the Baptist and Transfiguration parish in Rome, has been cleared of an abuse allegation made against him, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse said today (Dec. 23). Angelicchio has been reinstated today after the allegation against him was found to be 'not credible,' the diocese said.” By Elizabeth Doran, New York Upstate

PENNSYLVANIA

Top 10 of 2016 – No. 1: Report alleged diocese covered up sex abuse
“The Tribune-Democrat is counting down the top stories of 2016 … The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona–Johnstown allegedly covered up the sexual abuse of children for decades. Victims were violated by at least 50 priests and other religious leaders, while the church, led by former Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec, reportedly took steps to protect the accused from facing justice, according to a grand jury report released by the Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General in March. The report, culled from ‘secret archives’ and interviews, rocked the diocese and local Catholic community.” By Dave Sutor, Tribune-Democrat

RHODE ISLAND

Former Catholic priest dies before facing sex assault trial
“A former Roman Catholic priest awaiting trial on sexual assault charges has died. The Rhode Island Medical Examiner’s Office says Barry Meehan died of a heart attack on December 8. He was 67. Meehan pleaded not guilty in 2014 to five counts of first-degree sexual assault on two young men in the late 1980s and early 1990s while Meehan was a priest at parishes in Providence and Cranston.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

CANADA

Former teacher suing diocese of Catholic church over abuse claims
“A former elementary school teacher is suing a diocese of the Roman Catholic church, alleging she was sexually assaulted by a priest while working at a church-run school four decades ago in Kamloops. The woman alleges in a notice of civil claim filed in BC Supreme Court that Reverend Erlindo Molon exploited and sexually assaulted her several times over several months beginning in September 1976.” By The Canadian Press

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

‘We will win the ultimate war’: Hundreds seek compensation from Catholic Church for alleged children’s home abuse
“A lawyer representing 249 men who are seeking compensation for alleged sexual abuse at a Catholic children's home has vowed to continue with a multi-million pound compensation claim despite a judge dismissing three out of the four first test cases … ‘[I am] disappointed that the judge did not see through all these arguments about minor inconsistencies but this is a skirmish, we will win the ultimate war,’ said the men's lawyer, David Greenwood of Switalskis outside court. ‘There are 245 cases still to go, so I'm very confident we will succeed.’” By James Macintyre, Reuters, in Christian Today

Pedophiles views to be taken into account in child sex abuse inquiry
“The decision for the child sex abuse inquiry to interview pedophiles has been met with outrage from victims’ support groups. The troubled £100 million inquiry, currently chaired by Professor Alexis Jay has unveiled her delayed review after a series of crises have hampered the government investigation. However the review has already been met with outrage from various victims’ support groups as it was revealed that the public inquiry would talk to convicted pedophiles.” By Jon Rogers, Daily Express

GUAM

Lawsuit: Archdiocese still pays Brouillard
“A lawsuit alleges that the Archdiocese of Agana still sends regular retirement payments to former Guam priest Louis Brouillard, who is accused in seven of the 13 clergy sex abuse lawsuits filed so far against the archdiocese and current and former Catholic priests on Guam.” By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

Kerala priest booked under section 377 for unnatural sex with 10-year-old boy
“A 65-year-old priest in Kerala was arrested on Sunday (Jan. 1) for indulging in unnatural sexual abuse with a 10-year-old boy in Kochi's Kunnathunad area. The incident took place at a boarding school, King David International School, where the boy studied. Father Basil Kuriyakose was the principal of the school.” By Asmita Sarkar, International Business Times