Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

Voice of the Faithful Focus, May 17, 2012

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

Top Stories

Unfinished Work: Examining 10 Years of Clergy Sex Abuse
Ten years after widespread news coverage of sexual abuse by priests rocked the U.S. Catholic church, hierarchical response to the continuing crisis indicates the church has “lost its ability to be a self-correcting institution,” Jesuit Fr. Tom Reese told a symposium of experts on clergy abuse today.
 -- The Sexual-Abuse Crisis: Unfinished Business

Hierarchy’s Inability to Mourn Thwarts Healing in Church
The Catholic hierarchy from the papacy on down seems to be roiling through a series of manic episodes in which they execute perverted power plays against those perceived as enemies. This kind of mania often is exhibited by large identity groups whose power has been threatened and who are unable to respond adaptively to that loss through a process of healthy mourning.
 -- The Passivity of the Catholic Church

Is This Cardinal Brady’s Last Stand?
With just a month to go until the 50th International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin, Irish Catholics are again reeling following further revelations of Church mishandling of abuse allegations. The Eucharistic Congress—which is expected to attract some 80,000 pilgrims—will be the largest religious event since the memorable visit of Blessed Pope John Paul II in 1979. Hopes that the June 10-17 celebration of faith could be a launching pad for a renewal of the Irish Church have been dealt a blow, however, by fresh criticism of the Primate of All Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.

Nuns on the Frontier
In the 19th century, Catholic nuns literally built the church in the American West, braving hardship and grueling circumstances to establish missions, set up classrooms and lead lives of calm in a chaotic world marked by corruption, criminality and illness. Their determination in the face of a male hierarchy that, then as now, frequently exploited and disdained them was a demonstration of their resilient faith in a church struggling to adapt itself to change.
 -- Rome & Women Religious

Trial Evidence Available for Your Review
The Commonwealth’s response to Msgr. Lynn’s motion to dismiss charges of child endangerment against him is available online. It’s long, but enlightening.

Needs Improvement: Readers Rate the Bishops' Response to Church Sex Abuse
A progress report from U.S. Catholic readers says that bishops still haven’t learned all their lessons on the subject of sexual abuse.

Attack on Girl Scouts Shows Current Law Isn't Working
The question is: Where has all this energy for empirical destruction come from in a church now projecting its own serious problems with sexual issues onto everything that moves? (Joan Chittister)

The rest of the stories…

The Nuns

The Catholic Church’s Treatment of Nuns Is Polarizing and Alienating
The Vatican is criticizing its dedicated female servants when it should be giving them a larger role in the church. I'm not a Catholic theologian or expert or activist of any kind. I'm just a mom who is getting increasingly uncomfortable with the Catholic Church in which my daughters are growing up. To me, the Vatican has become polarizing, extremist, and alienating. It seems like the true believers vs. the infidels. Now it's the bishops vs. the nuns.
 -- A Letter to a Woman Religious
 -- Reports Link (Cardinal) Law to Crackdown on Nuns
 -- LCWR Crackdown More Complicated than ‘Rome vs. America’
 -- The Tablet: Who Was Behind the LCWR Investigation?
 -- From Oregon to Ohio, a Swell of Support for Catholic Sisters
 -- Louisville, Ky., Vigil: 78 Observe Silence for Catholic Sisters

Law is Laid Down, But Nun is No Pushover
Annette Rafferty is a petite, bespectacled wisp of a thing. All of 82 years old, she carries herself carefully, her delicate frame slowed by the passing of years. But such physical frailties are misleading.

Ireland

Ireland Assembly of Religious & Laypeople Calls for Open Church, Re-evaluation

An assembly of the entire church in Ireland took one step closer Monday with an overflow meeting that saw more than 1,000 priests, religious and laypeople gather to discuss the future of the church.
 -- Future without Priests in Ireland if Crisis Continues Says Leading Cleric
 -- Archbishop Hopes June Congress Will Help Heal Wounds of Irish Church

Dublin’s Archbishop Martin Intervenes in Dramatic Crisis of Irish Church
Diarmuid Martin has called for an independent commission to investigate the case of Father Brendan Smyth who abused more than 100 children over 40 years. Top politicians have called for Cardinal Brady’s resignation because of his involvement in this case.

Irish Church Tries to Rebuild after Sex Abuse, Still Haunted by Past and Demanding Truth
The archbishop of Dublin, a leading voice for reform following Ireland’s devastating Catholic Church sex abuse scandal, said Thursday that the Irish church is trying to rebuild even as he demands the full truth be told about the past.

Catholic Primate Sean Brady Guilty of Cardinal Errors
Last week the political parties here began their campaigns for the referendum on the European Fiscal Compact, probably the most important vote this generation of Irish people will cast. Unbelievably, even at this critical time, clerical sex abuse is back again to haunt us. And this time it reaches right to the very top, to the man in charge of the Catholic Church in Ireland, Cardinal Sean Brady.
 -- Cardinal Brady ‘Failed to Act on Sex Abuse Claims’
 -- Ireland: Catholic Church Leader Apologizes, but Will Not Resign
 -- Irish Cardinal Rejects New Accusations on Pedophile Priest

Hawaii

More Time for Justice

Hawaii significantly strengthened its protections against child sexual abuse last month when Gov. Neil Abercrombie signed a measure extending the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits filed by child victims. At least as important, it opens a one-time two-year window to allow victims to file suits against their abusers even if the time limit had expired under the old law.

Kansas City

Judges Dismiss Allegations from Lawsuits against Catholic Priests

State and federal courts act on civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse
Judges in state and federal court this week dismissed parties and allegations from three civil lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by Catholic priests.

Prosecutor Wants New Charge against Bishop Finn, Diocese
Jackson County prosecutors want to add additional misdemeanor criminal charges against Bishop Robert Finn and the diocese he serves.

SNAP Order Could ‘Chill’ Abuse Cases, Advocates Say

A Missouri judge's decision to go forward in seeking a wide range of documents from the leading advocacy group for clergy sex abuse victims could have far-reaching consequences for survivors' support organizations, say victims' advocates and lawyers.

Massachusetts

Abuse Trial Divides the Faithful

The Rev. Donald J. Peters sat outside the crowded courtroom, his tall frame folded and hunched, as though single-handedly absorbing the pain of a parish in torment.

Vatican Denies Appeal of Closed Mass. Parish

The Vatican has rejected an appeal by parishioners who've occupied a Scituate church in protest since the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston closed it eight years ago. The decision announced Monday by the archdiocese is a blow to a vigil at St. Frances X. Cabrini church that is, by far, the strongest remaining of several that began after broad church closings were announced in 2004.

Montana

New Victims Join Lawsuit against Diocese and Ursuline Sisters

Eighteen new victims added their names to litigation against the Helena Diocese and Ursuline nuns for abuse they allege took place when they were children at Catholic parishes and boarding schools in Montana, according to a Tuesday news release from their Montana attorney, Vito de la Cruz.

Philadelphia

At Clergy Trial, Focus Turns to Safe Full of Secrets

A few months after she started as operations director for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s clergy office in 2005, Louise Sullivan was given a task: Straighten up the file room.
 -- I Can’t Hear You, Archbishop Chaput. Could You Speak Up?
 -- ‘Never Admit There Are Other Cases,’ Msgr. Lynn Was Told

Nun Calls Out Monsignor Lynn
A nun who was sexually abused as a minor by a predator priest called out Monsignor William J. Lynn Thursday from her perch on the witness stand.

5 Philadelphia Priests Are Barred from Ministry

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Philadelphia announced Friday that five priests under investigation for sexual abuse would be permanently removed from ministry, while three other priests had been exonerated. The 8 were among 26 priests who were suspended in early 2011 because of past accusations of sexual abuse or improper sexual behavior.
 -- Archdiocese of Philadelphia Press Release on Priests Placed on Leave
 -- Church Lawyer: Philly Cardinal, Aides Lied to Me
 -- Former Port Richmond Pastor will be Removed from Ministry

New Program Seeks Healing for All in Wake of Child Sex Abuse Crisis
Church action following the clergy sexual abuse scandal is most importantly about justice for the victims. But it's also about healing -- not only for the victims, but for the entire church community.

Wisconsin

Fraud Trial against Catholic Diocese of Green Bay to begin

A former Fox Valley priest spent nearly eight years in prison for the 1978 sexual assaults of two young parishioners, but his victims say justice hasn’t been fully served. A civil lawsuit that slowly built in Outagamie County’s court system for more than four years heads to trial today as brothers Todd and Troy Merryfield, formerly of Freedom, seek unspecified damages from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Green Bay based on their childhood assaults.

Wisconsin Bishop Has Made a Career as an Orthodoxy Enforce

Madison Wisconsin's Bishop Robert Morlino, displays, among other items on his coat of arms, a golden turret that…symbolizes a place "in which to take refuge on the journey, to reset ...” It may be time for the good bishop…to move, if not to a golden turret of refuge,…then at least to a neutral corner…"

Austria

Austrian Parish Listens to Priest, None Receive the Host

The parish church of Amras, Austria, near Innsbruck in Tyrol, was chock-a-block full for the first-Communion Mass on April 22. Shortly before Communion, the parish priest, Norbertine Fr. Patrick Busskamp, announced that only Catholics who were in a state of grace should come forward to Communion. Catholics who are divorced and remarried and Catholics who do not attend Mass every week were not worthy to receive the Eucharist, he said.

Australia

Priest Guilty of 23 Child Sex Charges

A Catholic priest shook his head and his family wept yesterday as a jury found him guilty of 23 lurid child sex offences.

Vatican

Cold Feet in Match between Rome and Lefebvrists

It’s thus probably no surprise that as Rome and the traditionalist Society of St. Pius X, popularly known as the “Lefebvrists,” prepare to walk down the aisle, important voices on both sides of the match are having some second thoughts.

Professor Benedict Lectures the Professors

In his latest address to American bishops visiting Rome, Pope Benedict XVI stressed that Catholic educators should remain true to the faith -- a reminder issued just in time for another tense season of commencement addresses.

A Poll Average from Rome on the Next Pope
Right now, the “next pope” conversation isn’t creating much buzz. There’s no sign of a health crisis around Benedict XVI, and Catholic attention around the world is focused on more local matters … Yet with an 85-year-old pope beginning to show his age, speculation about who might come next is always in the background, even if it’s on a low boil.

Other Happenings around the World

The Spirit of Vatican II Fades into History

Bishop Michael Cote of the Diocese of Norwich and his episcopal colleagues have made a mockery of religious freedom. Follow the logic...

How Catholic Are We?

Fifty years ago, at the beginning of the Second Vatican Council, the Catholic Church set itself a number of goals. Among those were opening up to the rest of the world and the unity of the church, indeed, of humankind. The Council insisted that, far from being exclusive and sectarian, the church is only truly catholic when it embraces the living and lively diversity of everything that is genuinely human. As the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church put it quite unambiguously.

I’m Not Quitting the Church

Recently, a group called the Freedom from Religion Foundation (FFRF) ran a full-page ad in The Washington Post cast as an “open letter to ‘liberal’ and ‘nominal’ Catholics.” Its headline commanded: “It’s Time to Quit the Catholic Church.” I’m sorry to inform the FFRF that I am declining its invitation to quit.
 -- PostScript: E.J. Dionne’s Refusal to Quit the Church

Former Yarmouth Priest Pleads Guilty to Indecent Assault

Former Roman Catholic priest Albert LeBlanc pleaded guilty to six counts of indecent assault dating back many years when he appeared in Yarmouth provincial court Monday. The courtroom’s spectator gallery erupted into applause after Judge Jim Burrill ordered LeBlanc to return on Aug. 17 to be sentenced.

Church’s Sexism is a Scandal

I have been a Catholic priest for years, and, like most people I know, I have been changed by my experiences over the years.