Voice of the Faithful Focus, Aug. 4, 2011

Voice of the Faithful Focus highlights issues we face in working together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Philadelphia Scandal Rolls On
The Philadelphia grand jury report on clergy sexual abuse in February continues to garner attention. Now a judge has ruled the 2003 grand jury testimony cannot be made public. However, testimony of then Philadelphia archbishop Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua already has became public. His words especially upset this Philadelphia Magazine blogger, and Bevilacqua's testimony seems especially damning. For example, Bevilacqua tried to deflect prosecutors' questions in part by saying he couldn't take action because an accused priest might take action against the Church.

Also in Philadelphia, a judge has ruled Msgr. William Lynn, former head of the archdiocese's clergy office, will stand trial for conspiracy to endanger the welfare of children and will be tried alongside three priests and a lay school teacher charged with rape. The man at the center of these rape charges also has filed a civil suit charging the Church allowed the rape to occur.

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Cloyne Report Backlash Continues 
As reported in part by In the Vineyard last week
Following Ireland's Cloyne Report, Prime Minister Enda Kenny blasted the Vatican in a speech in parliament, and in a shocking move, the Vatican recalled Irish Papal Nuncio Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza. The Vatican called for objective debate, leaving some to wonder what it all meant. The world now awaits the Vatican's response, as some priests express outrage at what other priests have done. Speculation about Leanza's next assignment has him reassigned to the Czech Republic.

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Cloyne Report News Shifts to Editorials
Across the pond, commentators continue to hash out Ireland's Cloyne Report. A National Catholic Reporter commentator chimed in on the Irish PM's description of the Vatican as narcissistic. Long-time Catholic observer George Weigel wondered if what Ireland has lost to the scandal could be regained. Time Magazine looked at why this historically Catholic country's relationship with the Holy See is at an all-time low.

The list goes on: The Economist thought the Irish PM scored some palpable hits against the Vatican; the Irish Times asked why the Vatican was so upset at Cloyne Report reaction; a New York Times columnist saw the ordeal as the end of awe of the Vatican; an Irish Times editorial wanted Cloyne Bishop John Magee to be arrested; and in an Irish Times column, outspoken clergy sexual abuse victims' advocate Fr. Tom Doyle declared Cloyne Report facts expose the pathology of the Church.

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Braxton Battles on in Belleville
Even after the Illinois Supreme Court for the second time denied his request to appeal the $5 million jury award to a sexually abused former altar boy, Belleville, Illinois, Bishop Edward Braxton refused to give up. The award now totals $6.5 million as $1,250-per-day interest piles up while he battles on. Abuse and coverup in Belleville has been documented over 30 years and three bishops.

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Women's Ordination Issue Gets Airing
The issue of whether to ordain women to the priesthood is not new but has received recent widespread attention. More than 150 U.S. priests signed a petition supporting Fr. Roy Bourgeois, who has ordained women priests. Priests also have organized in Austria and Australia to support women's ordination. Some asked if the Church is facing a revolt over the issue.

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Vatican II 50th Anniversary Celebrated
Next year marks the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council's opening sessions. National Catholic Reporter columnist Richard McBrien is exploring Vatican's II major ecclesiological themes or principles in a series of columns. Here are the first three: 
     -- The Church as Mystery, or Sacrament
     -- The People of God
     -- The Church as Servant