Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Nov. 4, 2016

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

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis says ban on female priests is likely to endure
“The Roman Catholic Church’s teaching that women cannot be ordained as priests is likely to last forever, Pope Francis said on Tuesday (Nov. 1.) as he flew back to Rome from Sweden … According to reporters who were on the plane, Francis responded, ‘On the ordination of women in the Catholic Church, the last word is clear.’ He cited an apostolic letter written in 1994 by Pope John Paul II, who has since been canonized as a saint. The letter said that ordaining women was not possible because Jesus chose only men as his apostles.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times
 -- Pope Francis confirms the finality of ban on ordaining women priests, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: The Church has earned our healthy skepticism
“New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan may have the purest of motives in designing the new compensation program for victims of clergy sex abuse. He must realize, however, that he is working against a history of activity, including his own, of members of the U.S. hierarchy that hardly inspires.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
 -- N.Y. cardinals new compensation program for victims will keep sex abuse hidden, By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: Cardinals herald church’s changing season
“Rarely is change in the church proclaimed with any fanfare … Catholics are left to discern newness in other ways, like noticing the first hint of a changing season in the subtle alteration of sunlight. The light's angle just became a little clearer with Pope Francis' appointment of 17 new cardinals from 11 different countries, including three from the United States.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
 -- New cardinals are Francis pastors, but Venezuela’s is political too, By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Catholic priests, lay persons call for LGBT, women’s rights
“… On Oct 20, in Arlington Heights, representatives from Catholic priest movements and lay reform organizations based across the world gathered to lay out a series of direct challenges to the Catholic Church on everything from women's equality to LGBT rights.” By Gretchen Rachel Hammond, WindyCityMedia.com
 -- Reform groups call on Catholic church ‘to stand against violence’ toward LGBT people, By Kristen Whitney Daniels, National Catholic Reporter

Pell knew about abuse but failed to act, inquiry told
Cardinal George Pell had knowledge of serious allegations of sexual abuse by Ballarat Catholic clergy in the early 1970s, but failed to act, a royal commission has found. In their final submissions to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse released on Monday (Oct. 31), the counsel assisting the inquiry found Cardinal Pell was told of disgraced paedophile Christian Brother Edward Dowlan’s sexual misconduct with children by at least one student and two priests as early as 1973.” By Melissa Cunningham, The Courier

POPE FRANCIS

Pope makes complete overhaul of Vatican liturgical congregation
“In a stunning move, Pope Francis has replaced all of the members of the Vatican’s Congregation for Divine Worship, the body in charge of liturgical questions. It is routine for the Roman Pontiff to appoint a few new members to each Vatican congregation, rotating out members who have served for several years. But on October 28 the Vatican announced that Pope Francis has appointed 27 new members to the Congregation for Divine Worship, completely transforming the membership of that body.” By CatholicCulture.org

Pope Francis the manager – surprising, secretive, shrewd
“… Francis has used his own distinct management style to try to shake up the Church since his election in 2013. He is keeping his cards close to his chest as he tries to push through a progressive agenda to make the Church more welcoming in the face of conservative opposition.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Francis urges bishops to vet priests ahead of ordination
“Pope Francis has urged bishops to carefully vet who they ordain as priests so they ensure the world is served by ‘mature and balanced’ clergy. ‘When it comes to vocations to the priesthood and those entering the seminary, I beg you to discern the truth, to have a shrewd and cautious look,’ Francis told a Vatican conference on vocations this week, adding that this discernment should be done without ‘shallowness or superficiality.’” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

Vatican power shift
“Has there been a power shift in the Vatican under Pope Francis? Has the Secretariat of State lost its traditional role as the pope’s main adviser, being replaced by the council of cardinals that Francis established soon after his election? Where will power lie once the reform of the Roman Curia has been completed?” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The National Catholic Review

VATICAN

Pope Francis and China ‘reach deal on appointing bishops’
“Negotiators for the Vatican and Beijing have reached a compromise on who selects Catholic bishops in China, potentially marking a major step towards ending six decades of estrangement. If Pope Francis and Chinese leaders sign off on the proposed deal, the Pope would accept eight bishops ordained by China’s government without the Vatican’s permission. But the deal would leave many issues unresolved, including the role of China’s state-run Catholic institutions.” By Francis X. Rocca, Chun Han Wong, The Wall Street Journal, in The Australian Business Review
 -- China’s priests wary of Vatican’s Beijing olive branch, By South China Morning Post

“AMORIS LAETITIA”

San Diego diocese gets ready for synod on family life
“A ‘tremendous synergy’ has been created by the concerns, insights, hopes and ideas shared by nearly 2,000 participants in parish grassroots listening sessions and follow-up working groups over recent months leading up to this weekend's (Oct. 28-30) San Diego diocesan synod on marriage and family life, according to synod coordinator Paulist Fr. John Hurley. Focus of the gathering will be seeking consensus on ways to best address the pastoral challenges laid forth in Amoris Laetitia ("The Joy of Love"), Pope Francis' apostolic exhortation on marriage and family released April 8.” By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter
 -- San Diego diocesan synod seeks to put ‘Amoris Laetitia’ into action, By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter

CLERICALISM

On women clergy, Pope Francis fears ‘disease’ of clericalism
“During his customary in-flight news conference at the end of his trip to Sweden yesterday (Oct. 31), Pope Francis took a question on women priests and not only reiterated, as he has several times in the past, that St. Pope John Paul has already said no, but he appeared to suggest that the Church’s ‘no’ is forever … What that response didn’t address, however, is the more interesting question currently percolating about women clergy, which is the matter of whether women can, and should, be ordained as deacons.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Fighting over liturgy distorts purpose of Mass, papal liturgist says
“When a choir director and parish priest differ over liturgical music, the choir should follow in good faith the wishes of the priest for the sake of unity, said the papal liturgist. When it comes to celebrating the liturgy, ‘we should never fight,’ Msgr. Guido Marini told choir members, directors and priests. ‘Otherwise, we distort the very nature’ of what the people of God should be doing during the Mass, which is seeking to be ‘one body before the Lord.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on PittsburghCatholic.org

WOMEN DEACONS

Essays boost case for women in diaconate
“Thanks to the recently constituted Study Commission on the Women's Diaconate, the topic of women deacons is receiving renewed attention and interest. ‘Women Deacons? Essays with Answers’ clearly shows, however, that the question is not new. In recent decades, some of the leading historians and theologians in the world have explored the history of women deacons in-depth. Of the 10 scholars represented in this collection, three are original members of the International Theological Commission: Yves Congar, Philippe Delhaye and Cipriano Vagaggini.” By Luke Hansen, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Want to see Catholic women preach? Soon you’ll be able to.
“One of the more intriguing questions Pope Francis prompted earlier this year when he announced that a Vatican commission would study whether the early church had women deacons was: How would Catholics react to women preaching? Some Catholic women hope to find out. A new website called Catholic Women Preach will publish videos showing just that, Catholic women preaching. The reflections will draw from the church’s weekly readings. The women backing the project say they hope the videos will help Catholics deepen their faith and become more comfortable with the idea of women preaching.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America: The National Catholic Review

BISHOPS

Previewing the USCCB meeting: the good the conference achieves
“Week after next, the plenary meeting of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops will be held in Baltimore. The conference has some clear choices: Will they follow the direction charted for them by Pope Francis when he spoke to them during his visit last year, or will the conference continue in cultural warrior mode, picking fights they do not need and damaging the causes the profess to care about. Some more progressive Catholics have all but given up on the conference, but that is a mistake.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops to elect new president at November general assembly
“The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has announced it will be holding its next meeting from November 14th to 16th, in Baltimore for the fall general assembly. A statement from the USCCB said that during the assembly, the bishops will elect a new president, vice president, and five committee chairs. In addition, they will discuss and vote on the Conference’s strategic plan for 2017-2020, and will receive a report and recommendations on promoting peace in violence-stricken communities.” By Vatican Radio
 -- U.S. bishops vote likely to be seen as referendum on Pope Francis, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Clergy shortage sees parishioners trained to conduct Catholic funerals
“A critical shortage of clergy has forced the Catholic Church to train up members of its congregations to carry out funerals. Lay members of the church in the west of Scotland are being trained up to officiate elements of the funeral after one bishop gave the plan the go-ahead to alleviate the pressure on parish priests.” By Gerry Braiden, The Herald Scotland

Catholic diocese of Pittsburgh airs merger plans to faithful
“The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has begun airing plans to merge parishes, citing dwindling numbers of members and priests. The first meetings with local parishioners started Monday and will occur in all 192 parishes over the next eight weeks.” By WPXI-TV

Cardinal-designate Tobin will focus on dialogue, discernment
“For American church watchers, Pope Francis’ decision earlier this month to make Indianapolis Archbishop Joseph Tobin a cardinal was something of a surprise. But maybe we should have seen it coming. The two men have known each other for more than a decade and Francis gave a papal nod of approval to the archbishop two years ago.” By Michael O’Loughlin, America

CHURCH FINANCES

Parishes are bad at managing finances
“Catholic parishes and dioceses in the United States face a financial scandal: Embezzlement occurs at an alarming frequency. In 2007 my Villanova University colleague Robert West and I conducted a study of diocesan financial practices, including incidences of embezzlement. We surveyed diocesan chief financial officers and found that 85 percent of the reporting dioceses had experienced embezzlement within the last few years, many more than once. By Charles Zech, director of Villanova’s Center for Church Management and Business Ethics, in U.S. Catholic

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS REFORM

Pennsylvania legislators abandon bill to extend rights of child sex-abuse victims
“A controversial proposal to extend the civil statute of limitations for child sex-abuse victims appeared to collapse Tuesday (Oct. 25), after supporters said the House was unlikely to move an amended version of the bill or reintroduce the original measure.” By Maria Panaritis and Karen Langley, Philly.com

Bill extending statute of limitations for sexual abuse fails to pass Pennsylvania house
“The fight to expand the statute of limitations for childhood sexual abuse victims in Harrisburg is over for this session. HB 1947 failed to be put out for a final vote, and its main supporter called it a victim of an abuse of power and vowed to resuscitate the issue in the next session in the new year.” By Kathleen E. Carey, The Times Herald

PAC founder believes passage of child victims act will be priority for Cuomo in 2017
“The creator of a political action committee pushing to make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice as adults is convinced the governor will make passage of the measure a priority next year. Gary Greenberg, an upstate investor and child sexual abuse survivor who created the Fighting For Children PAC, spoke with Cuomo at a recent fund-raiser the governor headlined for state Sen. Todd Kaminsky (D-Nassau County).” By Kenneth Lovett, New York Daily News

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Priest and male religious register now up and running
“Around 500 priests and male religious are now registered on a new national Catholic database which lets bishops and leaders of religious congregations check the background of clerics and brothers visiting or moving to their region. The Australian Catholic Ministry Register (ACMR) will, for the first time, provide-up-to-date online information on whether a priest or male religious has a working with children check and has been ‘licensed’ to work in a diocese or congregations.” By Truth, Justice, Healing Council, Australia

Ballarat’s children: cops shielded Catholic monster
(Oct. 17, 2016) “The extent of Victoria Police complicity in covering-up child abuse by clergy in the scandal-plagued diocese of Ballarat has been detailed by former senior members of the force who shunned the influence of the so-called Catholic Mafia. An investigation by The Australian has confirmed extensive evidence of the force actively shielding wrongdoing and perverting the course of justice by forcing the transfer of a notorious clergyman rather than prosecuting him.” By Peter Hoysted and John Ferguson, The Australian

Australian police question Cardinal Pell in Rome
Australian police questioned Cardinal George Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, in Rome regarding accusations of alleged sexual abuse. Cardinal Pell, who has vehemently denied any wrongdoing, was “voluntarily interviewed” by Victoria police in late October, said a statement Oct. 26 from the cardinal’s office.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

CALIFORNIA

Ex-priest convicted of molesting boys resurfaces at S. LA church
“A defrocked Roman Catholic priest who was convicted of molesting two boys and sentenced to eight years in prison resurfaced at a non-sanctioned South Los Angeles church, where he resumed leading church services using an alias, according to a broadcast report. Fox11 reported that former priest Carlos Rodriguez, who was convicted in Ventura County in 2004 of molesting the boys in Santa Paula, was defrocked in 1998 and prevented from having any affiliation with the Catholic church. Despite that, he used the name Carlos Ramirez and began preaching at the small South Los Angeles church, to the surprise of some parishioners.” By Debbie L. Sklar, MyNewsLA.com

CONNECTICUT

Lawsuit alleges sex abuse by ex-No. 2 at Legion of Christ
“A former top official for the scandal-plagued Legion of Christ sexually abused a teenage boy in the early 1990s, according to a lawsuit filed this week. The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, accuses a priest who served as second-in-command to a man who founded the conservative religious order and molested his own seminarians. It’s said to include the first such accusation against Father Luis Garza, who’s believed to be living in the Philippines.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

DELAWARE

Another sentencing delay for priest in child porn case
“A federal judge once again postponed the sentencing for a former Navy chaplain and Catholic priest who pleaded guilty to taking pornographic pictures of a teen boy and then distributing the images. Several sentencing dates in U.S. District Court in Delaware for John Thomas Matthew Lee, 50, have been canceled since March, including the most recent one scheduled for Tuesday (Oct. 25). He now is expected to be sentenced in February.” By Jessica Masulli Reyes, The News Journal

NEW JERSEY

Child porn charges for poker-playing priest
“A fugitive Catholic priest and nationally ranked poker player wanted on dozens of child-pornography-related charges in Pennsylvania is now in the Ocean County jail after being arrested by township police. Officials with the Archdiocese of Newark Wednesday confirmed that the priest, Kevin A. Gugliotta, 54, of Totowa, had been removed from his ministry at Holy Spirit Church in Union.” By Alex N. Gecan, Asbury Park Press
 -- Catholic priest facing child porn charges in Wayne county, By Eric Deabill, PAHomepage.com

NEW YORK

Catholic Church is trying to buy silence of victims
“The New York Roman Catholic archdiocese has announced it is willing to pay off the victims of pedophile priests in exchange for their silence. Any records of such abuse and what the church did about it would also remain private. It’s an attempt by the church to again avoid accountability and responsibility for the abuse of children. It should hit home in this community. It should be an outrage here because of what Father Gary Mercure did in Queensbury and Glens Falls.” By Ken Tingley, The Post Star

Ex-Brooklyn priest who pleaded guilty of child sex abuse in 2008 is eligible for parole, but critics want him to serve full 18-year prison sentence
“A former Catholic priest from Brooklyn who pleaded guilty in 2008 to sexually abusing an 8-year-old boy is up for parole — but a relative of the victim and an abuse survivors’ organization say he should remain in prison. Steven Wolpert, who served as a priest at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Brooklyn during the 1980s, pleaded guilty in 2008 to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse with a child under the age of 13, a first-degree felony.” By Michael O’Keefe, New York Daily News

PENNSYLVANIA

Ex-priest accused of trying to rape teen takes plea deal
“A former Roman Catholic priest from Philadelphia accused of trying to rape a 14-year-old boy in 1996 has pleaded no contest to simple assault under a deal with prosecutors.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times
 -- Ex-priest accused of attempted rape with ten takes plea deal, By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

AUSTRALIA

Abuse perpetrator’s Fairhaven home sells for $2.1 million
“The exclusive beach house owned by disgraced Catholic bishop Ronald Mulkearns has sold for $2.1 million. Under the terms of the late Mulkearns’ will, the money is to be given to the Ballarat diocese. It is expected the money will now be used for the support of victims of child sexual abuse, following a commitment from the current bishop, Paul Bird. Mulkearns facilitated the abuse of hundreds of children over decades during his reign as Ballarat bishop.” By Shannon Deery, Sunday Herald Sun

Victoria police interview cardinal George Pell in Rome
“Cardinal George Pell has vowed to cooperate with Victoria Police in its ongoing probe into child sex abuse allegations made against him. His office confirmed he has been voluntarily interviewed by Victorian detectives who flew to Rome last week. ‘The Cardinal repeats his previous rejection of all and every allegation of sexual abuse and will continue to co-operate with Victoria Police until the investigation is finalized,’ a statement from Cardinal Pell’s office in Rome said.” By Keith Moor and Mark Buttler, Herald Sun
 -- Pell should have acted on priest: Commission lawyers, By Australian Associated Press on SBS.com

CANADA

Retired priest admits being repeat sex offender
“Retired Roman Catholic priest Robyn Q. Gwyn, who was found guilty in late September of sexually assaulting a Kingston man when his accuser was still a boy in the late 1980s to early 1990s, pleaded guilty Monday to victimizing a second child between 2000 and 2002. Assistant Crown attorney Gerard Laarhuis said the second victim first came to light in May 2014 when Deacon William Gervais, the archbishop’s delegate for misconduct, filed a report with Kingston Police.” By Sue Vanagisawa, Kingston Whig-Standard

Sexual abuse claims widen against former Catholic boarding school in Granby
“A class-action lawsuit alleging sexual abuse at a former Catholic boarding school in Granby has been expanded to include the names of 11 religious brothers. The lawsuit was initially launched earlier this month by an anonymous 56-year-old man, who says he was sexually abused more than 300 times at Mont-Sacré-Coeur College between 1973 and 1975.” By CBC News

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Catholic Church could face multi-million pound payout as sex abuse as is heard
“The Catholic church could face a compensation bill of millions of pounds following a test case on sexual abuse at a former children’s home which opens on Monday (Oct. 31). The civil case at the high court in Leeds follows the imprisonment this year of the home’s former principal and chaplain for sexual offences against 11 boys between 1970 and 1991.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

Former Catholic priest who abused children at Shirley Oaks has ‘too soft’ jail term extended
“A former social worker and Catholic priest who abused 13 children over more than two decades, including at Shirley Oaks children's home, today had his ‘too soft’ jail term increased by a third. Philip Temple molested 12 boys and one girl over 25 years, starting in the 1970s, while working in south London care homes and at a north London church.” By Tom Matthews, Croydon Advertiser

Child sex abuse chair launches extraordinary attack on predecessor
“The new chair of the child sex abuse inquiry has hit out at her predecessor for the way she ran the troubled probe. Professor Alexis Jay said Dame Lowell Goddard had been 'factually incorrect' in the complaints she made as she dramatically quit in August. She criticized the New Zealander for wanting to shut the expert panel out of the proceedings, and said it would have been 'very difficult' if she had not gone.” By James Tapsfield, Tim Sculthorpe and Rebecca Camber, Daily Mail

GUAM

Former altar boys sue Guam archbishop
“A new Guam law that lifted the statute of limitation on sex abuse cases has spawned lawsuits against local Catholic Church officials accused of molesting former altar boys almost five decades ago. ‘It is each victim’s hope that the filing of the lawsuits will bring positive change in the lives of all victims of abuse resulting in a cleansing and healing of decades-old feelings of fear, embarrassment, shame, hatred, bitterness and blaming of oneself,’ said David Lujan, the attorney who represents former altar boys Roland Sondia, Roy Quintanilla, Walter Danton, and Leo Tudela.” By Marianas Variety

Hon speaks on appointment of Apuron’s successor
“Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai held a press conference today (Nov. 1), following Pope Francis’ appointment of a new coadjutor archbishop for the Archdiocese of Agana. The coadjutor archbishop will have the right to succeed Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron if he resigns, retires or is removed. Apuron is facing canonical trial at the Vatican over alleged sexual abuse of altar boys.” By Haidee V. Eugenio, Pacific Daily News
 -- Pope names Detroit bishop to Guam archdiocese rocked by sex abuse allegations, By Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service
 -- Canonical trial will be held in Vatican for Apuron, By Krystal Paco, By KUAM-TV

INDIA

Clergy sex abuse topic is relevant today: Michael Rezendes
“‘Spotlight’ -- a film which infused life into an award-winning investigative team’s story that exposed a Catholic pedophile scandal involving priests in Boston -- was named as the Best Picture at the Oscars this year. And Michael Rezendes, one of the journalists who worked on the story, says the relevance of the issue doesn’t end with the movie. ‘The clergy sex abuse topic is very relevant today. The Catholic Church has taken some steps to deal with these issues, but I think the church has a long way to go, particularly outside the United States. American bishops have adopted a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to sex abuse. That has not been adopted by others around the world,’ Rezendes told IANS on the phone from Boston.” By Sugandha Rawal on DaijiWorld.com

IRELAND

Child abuse victims set out compensation proposals at Stormont
Victims of child abuse will today (Oct. 17) set out detailed proposals and costings for a redress scheme which they want the Northern Ireland Executive to set up following the end of the Historic Institutional Abuse Inquiry. The scheme, which could provide compensation for thousands of children who suffered abuse in residential institutions between 1922-1995, would cost at least £20 million. However, if the proposed scheme is implemented, it would actually save the public purse at least £10 million compared to the costs of compensation via the courts, argue abuse survivors.” Press Release from Amnesty International, UK

MEXICO

Parent speaks out about priest’s abuse
“The father of one of the children in the eight documented cases of pedophilia committed by a priest in Oaxaca has spoken out about the forgotten victims of the crime: the relatives of the abused child. Pedro Mendoza, whose son was allegedly a victim of Catholic priest Gerardo Silvestre, says he and his wife suffered along with their son when the crime was uncovered.” By Mexico Daily News

NETHERLANDS

Roman Catholic Church pays €30 million damages to sexual abuse victims
“So far the Roman Catholic Church paid nearly 30 million euros in damages to Dutch victims of sexual abuse, De Limburger reports. A complaint committee set up to investigate the abuse received a total of 3,678 reports of people being sexually abused in the Roman Catholic Church. Of these 2,060 were sent through for further investigation and 1,000 were determined to be grounded. At least 300 people dealt with exceptionally serious abuse, for which the compensation can be up to 100 thousand euros.” By Janene Pieters, NLTimes.nl