Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, Sept. 11, 2015

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


TOP STORIES

Pope: Vatican II tried to overcome ‘divorce between theology and pastoral ministry’
“The Church is called to embrace its past, present and future and avoid the temptations to condemn or to legitimize everything just because it is new and different, Pope Francis has told a group of theologians. Theology and reflection should not be at odds with pastoral ministry and the lives of real people, he said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic Herald

As Pope visit nears, U.S. Catholic Church faces financial strain
“When Pope Francis makes his first visit to the United States this month he will face a national Catholic Church whose finances are staggering under a shrinking membership and huge payouts to sex-abuse victims, threatening to undermine its social influence.” By Richard Valdmanis, Reuters, on YahooNews.com

U.S. Catholics open to non-traditional families
“When Pope Francis arrives in the U.S. for the World Meeting of Families later this month, he will find a Catholic public that is remarkably accepting of a variety of non-traditional families, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that provides an in-depth look at American Catholics’ views on family life, sexuality and Catholic identity.” By Pew Research Center: Religion & the Public Life
 -- Key findings about American Catholics, By Michael Pena, Pew Research Center

Payouts don’t always bring healing, clergy abuse victim says
“Bob Rich was in his 20s when he won an $850,000 settlement from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis — compensation for years of sexual abuse at the hands of the Rev. Robert Michael Thurner … As 49-year-old Rich can attest, though, the pain doesn’t end with a settlement of any amount.” By Emma Nelson, Star Tribune

Spotlight review – Catholic church child abuse film decently tells an awful story
(Sept. 3, 2015) “‘If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a village to abuse one,’ is how one character here summarizes the issues. This high-minded, well-intentioned movie, co-written and directed by Tom McCarthy, is about the Boston Globe’s investigative reporting team Spotlight, and its Pulitzer-winning campaign in 2001 to uncover widespread, systemic child abuse by Catholic priests in Massachusetts.” By Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian

Pope Francis announces measures to simplify marriage annulments
“Pope Francis announced new procedures on Tuesday (Sept. 8) to make it easier for Roman Catholics to obtain marriage annulments, a change intended to streamline a process long criticized by many Catholics as too cumbersome, complicated and expensive.” By Jim Yardley and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
 -- Francis’ annulment changes stress prompt decisions, power of local bishops, By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Pope’s annulment reform will recalibrate the Synod of Bishops, and more, By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
 -- Will Pope Francis’ annulment reforms impact U.S. Catholics, By David Gibson, Religion News Service

CELIBACY

Married priests would solve problem of priest shortages
“A lay Catholic group has lent its support to the Bishop of Kilmore's request for Irish bishops to examine the possibility of ordaining married men to the priesthood and appointing female deacons.” By The Independent

SYNOD OF BISHOPS ON THE FAMILY

Eleven cardinals urge maintaining church rules on marriage
“Eleven cardinals, at least four of whom will participate in the world Synod of Bishops on the family in October, have urged fellow church leaders to maintain the church's rules regarding marriage and strengthen Catholic education about marriage and family life.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Groups seek to broaden input on issues for family synod
“The Synod of Bishops on the family -- conducted in two sessions at the Vatican with the second scheduled for October -- has already distinguished itself for a certain freewheeling discussion and debate and for the invitation to the faithful to tell the deliberating hierarchs what's on the minds of those in the pews. The faithful -- and likely more than a few who are not regular churchgoers -- have responded in great number.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Kay African prelate vows ‘no shaking’ in stand against homosexuality
“Last fall, Pope Francis convened a Synod of Bishops at the Vatican that featured lively debate on issues related to family life, including homosexuality and same-sex relationships, and at this October’s edition of the synod most observers expect similar divisions to surface. You won’t find any such clash, however, in the Nigerian Archdiocese of Jos, which is a nerve center of Catholic life in this emerging African superpower under its influential archbishop, the fiery and outspoken Ignatius Kaigama.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

VOICES

False narratives of Christian leaders caught in abuse
When the abusive behavior of Christian leaders is uncovered, all too often the immediate response is not an unconditional admission or a genuine expression of authentic repentance. Instead, a common response is a new narrative. A false narrative. A narrative that attempts to paint a picture of the situation without any regard for truth. A narrative designed to protect reputations and preserve future incomes. A narrative designed to keep the leaders in the spotlight and the victims out of the way.” By Boz Tchividjian, Religion News Service

Mark Ruffalo says his Catholic Church sex abuse film is ‘a perfect opportunity’ for the Vatican ‘to begin to right these wrongs’
“Tom McCarthy’s upcoming film ‘Spotlight’ focuses on the team of Boston Globe journalists who broke the story about the Catholic Church covering up sexual abuse scandals back in 2001. At the movie’s Venice Film Festival premiere, Mark Ruffalo — who plays one of the reporters — expressed his hope that the film would have an impact on Pope Francis and allow the Church to begin its healing process.” By Anna Silman, Salon

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Conservative dissent is brewing inside the Vatican
“(Cardinal Raymond) Burke’s words belied a growing sense of alarm among strict conservatives, exposing what is fast emerging as a culture war over Francis’s papacy and the powerful hierarchy that governs the Roman Catholic Church.” By Anthony Faiola, The Washington Post

POPE FRANCIS VISITS THE U.S.

Pope Francis’ Schedule for his U.S. visit
Pope Francis will visit Washington, New York and Philadelphia
this month during his first trip to the United States.” By The New York Times
 -- Time Warner Cable plans channel dedicated to Pope Francis’ visit, By Andy Newman, The New York Times
 -- Watch full papal virtual audience in English, By uCatholic.com

Pope Francis’ visit to U.S. is his first ever, for several reasons
“ … But Francis, a former archbishop of Buenos Aires, had steered clear of the United States, which has the world’s fourth-largest Roman Catholic population. Something of a homebody, preferring to hang out with the poor than the rich and powerful, he has waited until 78 to visit the economic giant that likes to think of itself as the center of everything.” By Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times

Pope visit highlights Latino role in the future of the Catholic Church
“The Pope's visit to the U.S. later this month is energizing the American Catholic community. That's especially true among Latinos, who see the Argentinian-born pope as one of their own. The Pew Research Center says a third of the U.S. Catholic Church is Hispanic, and that's growing. As NPR's Richard Gonzales reports, Latinos represent both the future and a new challenge to the Church.” By Richard Gonzales, National Public Radio
 -- Papal Mass in Washington will be in Spanish, By Gregory Korda, USA TODAY

Pope Francis will pass through Central Park in ticketed event
“It is official — Pope Francis is coming to Central Park, but you will need a ticket to see him. When the pope travels to New York City this month, his visit will include a procession along a route on the western side of the park, the city announced on Tuesday (Sept. 1,) after days of speculation.” By Emma G. Fitzsimmons, The New York Times

Francis in the U.S.: Stranger in a strange land
When Pope Francis sets foot on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base near Washington on Sept. 22, it won’t just be his first time in the United States as pontiff. It will be his first time in the country — ever in his life.” By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press

What four top Catholic archbishops expect from the Pope’s visit
“With just weeks to go until Pope Francis' highly anticipated visit to the United States, several of the top leaders of the American Catholic church say they are ready to be surprised. Speaking in Philadelphia over the weekend (Aug. 29-30) at the annual conference of the Religion Newswriters Association, high-ranking church officials who have helped plan the pope’s six-day visit to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia and New York, which begins Sept. 22, shared their desires for the series of Masses, speeches, and interfaith events that are together expected to draw millions to the three cities.” By Antonia Blumberg, Carol Kuruvilla, Jaweed Kaleem, The Huffington Post

A Catholic tug of war in the U.S. awaits Pope Francis
“When Pope Francis starts his US road show next month, Catholics to his left and right will all be hoping to pull him a bit closer to their own causes. From the environment to the economy and everything in between, a nod from the pope could do wonders in boosting visibility — so ecclesial special interest groups are gearing up.” By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS & THE CHURCH

A primer on where the pope stands on gays, divorce, abortion
“Pope Francis is expected to raise issues ranging from climate change to income inequality when he visits Cuba and the United States Sept. 19-27. Francis has launched an agenda of reform in the Vatican and in the global Church, prioritizing different issues, and counseling a more merciful message. Here’s a primer on where the pope stands on key issues.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Reflections on a daring double play by the ‘Pope of Mercy’
“Putting these two olive branches into the same package could be seen as another effort by Francis at political equilibrium, reminiscent of his decision in April 2014 to beatify the late Popes John XXIII and John Paul II together, icons for the Catholic left and right respectively.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis: forging a legacy
“Pope Francis has been Bishop of Rome for only two and a half years. In this relatively short period of time he has been incredibly successful in reigniting the hopes and enthusiasm of reform-minded and self-described Vatican II Catholics. Through prophetic gestures and words he has emerged as a sort-of "evangelical free-spirit" unencumbered by the restrictions of the Vatican's often-arcane protocols and human traditions. This has created an irresistible worldwide appeal even among non-Catholics and non-believers.” By Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter

35 of Pope Francis’ most prophetic statements
Pope Francis has brought new spirit into the Catholic Church with his humble lifestyle and direct and often challenging commentary on world affairs and personal ethics.  With topics ranging from climate change, to true love, to global economics, to immigration, here are 35 of Pope Francis' most prophetic statements.” By Antonia Blumberg, The Huffington Post

Holy Orders: a determined Pope Francis moves to reform a recalcitrant Curia
“When you walk in the back entrance to Vatican City, you quickly realize what a small world the center of the Catholic Church is. The hundred-and-nine-acre complex, built largely during the Renaissance, is the spiritual and administrative headquarters of a global institution with 1.2 billion followers. The first building you see is the Santa Marta guesthouse, where Pope Francis lives and works, in a three-room space of some seven hundred square feet, rather than in the traditional, and grander, papal apartments, in the Apostolic Palace.” By Alexaner Stille, The New Yorker

CHURCH FINANCES

Feds charge Kansas priest with bank fraud over parish thefts
“A Kansas priest charged Tuesday (Sept. 1) with stealing nearly $151,000 from two parishes and the Catholic Diocese of Wichita used the money to fund his gambling, federal prosecutors alleged. Documents filed in U.S. District Court in Wichita charge Father Thomas H. Leland with one count of bank fraud.” By Associated Press in Topeka Capital-Journal

Guilty plea likely from Troy priest
“A popular Detroit-area Catholic priest charged with fraud is scheduled to return to court for a likely guilty plea. The government amended the charges last week (week of Aug. 24) to mail fraud, accusing the Rev. Edward Belczak of sending incomplete financial reports to the Archdiocese of Detroit in 2010.” By Associated Press in The Detroit News

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

The changing role of women in the Catholic Church
“In his Wednesday general audiences throughout this year, Pope Francis has been reflecting on family life, ahead of the Synod of Bishops on the family, due to take place here in the Vatican from October 4th to 25th. In these weekly reflections, the Pope has spoken extensively about the role of parents and particularly about the changing role of women in contemporary society. It is essential, he said, that “women not only be more listened to, but that her voice has real weight, a recognized authoritativeness” both in society and in the Church.” By Vatican Radio

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The Catholic church must think upon its sins
“If Satan were ever to consider deploying a PR strategy to gloss over all his crimes and misdemeanors he could do worse than contact one of his oldest adversaries, the Catholic church in Scotland … Yet, following decades of child sex abuse by several of its priests, and subsequent cover-up by its hierarchy, it has managed to escape proper scrutiny and any degree of accountability.” By Kevin McKenna, The Guardian

Disgraced Vatican nuncio Wesolowski, awaiting trial for sexual abuse, dies
“Initial results from an autopsy of the body of the deceased former Vatican ambassador to the Dominican Republic indicated that the disgraced papal representative died of natural causes stemming from some sort of "cardiac event," the Vatican said in a statement Saturday (Aug. 29).” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
 -- Jozef Wesolowski, ex-archbishop accused of sexual abuse, dies at 67, By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

FLORIDA

Priest arrested in Bay area for child porn
“A national manhunt ends here in the Bay area. Stephen Pohl was a Catholic Priest from Louisville Kentucky but the FBI is also calling him a child pornographer.” By Marcus Grayson, 10News Sarasota

ILLINOIS

Group asks Rockford Catholic Diocese to seek victims after child sex abuse suit filed
“A man who grew up in Aurora claims in a lawsuit filed in Winnebago County Court today (Sept. 8) that the Rev. John C. Holdren sexually assaulted him in 1972 and 1973. The 49-year-old man, who lives in Maryland, is identified in court documents as John Doe JP, said his attorney Tim Frieberg of Rockford. The suit alleges that Holdren made unwanted sexual advances and fondled the victim when Holdren was at St. Rita's of Cascia parish in Aurora.” By Georgette Braun, Rockford Register Star


Peoria priest removed for prior abuse allegations
“A central Illinois Catholic priest has been forced to step down from public ministry for past allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Wednesday (Aug. 26) that the allegations against the Rev. Terry Cassidy date back nearly three decades. The release didn't offer details.” By Associated Press in Northwest Herald

MINNESOTA

Diocese of Crookston ordered to produce records about alleged sex abuse
“A judge has ordered the Diocese of Crookston to produce all records about sexual abuse reported against any priest before 1985. The diocese is a defendant in a clergy sex abuse lawsuit, and the documents will be produced under seal, according to lawyer Jeff Anderson. The lawsuit alleges that the victim was sexually abuse by the Rev. J. Vincent Fitzgerald; the victim says he met Fitzgerald at St. Ann’s Parish in Naytahwaush, Minnesota, in the mid-1980s.” By KTSP-TV

MISSOURI

SNAP leader settles with Missouri diocese
“The long-time director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has reached an out-of-court settlement related to allegations of sexual abuse by a Missouri diocesan priest first brought forward more than 25 years ago. David Clohessy revealed in a press release Thursday (Sept. 3,) that the Jefferson City, Mo., diocese in late August mailed him a check for $40,000 as part of an agreement refraining him from bringing further suits against the diocese regarding Fr. John Whiteley or other diocesan priests or staff.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Group outraged after controversial priest moves into Brookside
“He is one of the most controversial priests in the history of the Kansas City Catholic Church, and one group is upset that he has quietly moved into a neighborhood that's popular with families. Father Michael Tierney is no longer an active priest, but he has not been defrocked by the Vatican despite the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph paying money to settle sex abuse claims involving Tierney.” By DeAnn Smith and Heather Staggers, KCTV-TV

NEW MEXICO

As Pope Francis prepares visit, bishops in the Southwest prepare for financial ruin
“As Pope Francis prepares for his upcoming visit to the U.S., Catholic bishops in the Southwest are preparing to face financial ruin, after a sex abuse scandal that involved nearly 60 victims now seeking compensation. The Diocese of Gallup, which includes 53 parishes in both Northeastern Arizona and Northwestern New Mexico, is liquidating over 120 properties in two court-ordered auctions to cover for the victims.” By Aalia Shaheed, Latino Fox News

NORTH DAKOTA

Alleged sexual abuse by deceased priest in Crookston diocese
“A new court ruling could open the door to more court cases regarding alleged sexual abuse by a Catholic priest in our region. A Judge has ruled the Crookston Diocese must release all records prior to 1985, regarding possible cases of sexual abuse. Those records had been sealed. It all stems from the case against Father J. Vincent Fitzgerald, who died in 2009.” By Neil Carlson, Valley News

PENNSYLVANIA

Catholic priest accused of ‘child sex abuse tourism’ in Central America set to go on trial
“The trial is set to begin of a US priest accused of sexually abusing children in Central America. The Rev Joseph Maurizio Jr, from Pennsylvania, was charged last year with possession of child sex abuse materials, engaging in sexual relations with a minor and transmitting funds to or from the US with the intent to promote carrying on an unlawful activity.” By Tania Rahman, The Independent

WISCONSIN

Cedarburg priest put on leave during sexual abuse investigation
“A Milwaukee-area Catholic priest has been put on leave while a 38-year-old accusation of sexual abuse is investigated. Parishioners of St. Francis Borgia, in Cedarburg, were notified by Archbishop Jerome Listecki that the Rev. Tom Eichenberger has recently been named in a case dating back to 1977.” By WISN-TV
 -- Milwaukee priest put on leave as part of bankruptcy proceedings, By Marie Rohde, National Catholic Reporter

AUSTRALIA

Royal Commission to focus on Melbourne Catholics
“The part of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse featuring Cardinal George Pell has been widened to cover the Catholic Church response to child sexual abuse in Melbourne, reports AAP on SBS. By CathNews.com

Former Salesian head jailed over sexual assaults
“The former head of the Salesian Order who sexually abused a Victorian boy in the 1980s has been jailed, reports AAP (Australian Associated Press) on Nine News. Priest Julian Benedict Fox, 70, will spend at least two years and eight months behind bars for sexually assaulting two 14-year-old school boys at colleges in Sunbury and Ferntree Gully more than 30 years ago.” By CathNews.com
 -- Prominent Catholic priest Father Julian Fox jailed for child sex crimes, By News.com.au

Ex-Rockingham bishop ‘put kids at risk’
“A former Bishop of Rockhampton, Brian Heenan, put children at risk by failing to sack a paedophile priest, according to a submission by Counsel Assisting the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Catholic Church, province sued over sexual assault allegations on Me

“Two former Métis students of schools over which the Manitoba government had jurisdiction are suing the Winnipeg archdiocese, the Sisters of Notre Dame des Mission and the province over alleged sexual abuse. The lawsuit outlines allegations that date back more than 50 years, naming two priests and a nun, all now deceased, as the perpetrators.” By CBC News Manitoba