FOCUS

 
   Voice of the Faithful's Newsletter
May 31, 2012

Voice of the Faithful Focus – A brief update highlighting both a problem in our church and some progress being made as we work together to Keep the Faith, Change the Church.

 Highlighting issues we face working together

                          to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

Top Stories

LCWR Move Is Puzzling Even to Those Outside the Church
Even Protestants are puzzled by the 
Vatican's condemnation of the largest organization representing Catholic nuns in the United States, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Although not of the same magnitude as the long-running story of sexual abuse and cover-up in the church, in its own way, it is needlessly damaging the church -- and not just the Catholic church, but the church universal.

Priest Scandal, Bishop Scandal…and Church Reform

For Catholics who remained faithful throughout the pedophile priest scandal, this has been a dark and painful period. Every new revelation of abuse, every testimony by victims of a life ruined, is like another punch in the jaw or kick in the gut. The pain continues and we can expect an added shock. This time it will be a bishop scandal.

Battle among Catholic Bishops
There is a healthy struggle brewing among the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops. A previously silent group, upset over conservative colleagues defining the church’s public posture and eagerly picking fights with President Obama, has had enough.

Scandal Hits the Heart of The Roman Catholic Church
The Vatican faces a widening scandal that in one short week has seen Pope Benedict's butler arrested, the president of its bank unceremoniously dismissed and the publication of a new book alleging conspiracies among cardinals.

Penn State and Catholic Church Child Sex-Abuse Trials Divide Pennsylvania Public
Which side are you on? The parallel sex-abuse trials of Msgr. William Lynn and former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky are revealing deep differences among those who once revered both men. It’s been a bad year for Pennsylvania’s most revered institutions.

It’s Not an Attack on the Church – It’s an Attack on Women
Your parents spill a few secrets as they get older. One night at dinner with my mom, I ventured that the rhythm method had worked well for her, given that there were six years between my sister Peggy and my brother Kevin, and six more between Kevin and me. She arched an eyebrow. “Well, sometimes your father used something,” she said.

On Cardinal Levada's Right Hand, the Visionaries -- on His Left, Women Religious
I have pleasant enough memories of Cardinal William Levada who, as a young worker bee in the hive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, helped me find my way through the dim warrens of the old Holy Office when I was questioned there more moons ago than I can now count. I cannot erase my gratitude despite his persistent efforts, now that he runs the whole waxworks of the congregation, to make me, along with millions of others, wonder if he lets his right hand know what his left hand is doing.

Is The Catholic Church Sending A Message to Women?
I was a Girl Scout. My daughter is a Girl Scout. As Catholics, we are stunned by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ decision to investigate an organization that we both deeply love. It is tempting to laugh off this news as further evidence of how profoundly out of touch many of our bishops are with the lives and concerns of the people who fill their pews. But…

The Nuns

Leaders of U.S. Catholic Nuns to Address Vatican Reprimand about 'Radical' Feminism
The showdown between the Vatican and America's largest group of Catholic nuns is expected to peak this week when group leaders will meet to determine a response to the Vatican's reprimand for the group's "radical feminist themes."

The Catholic Church's Inquisition of American Nuns
Though castigated by their own Church authorities, US nuns are far more in tune with the actual views of American Catholics. So, did you hear the one about the American nuns? No, this isn't the beginning of a joke.

Following The Money
You can be sure whenever they say it's not about the money, it's about the money. Those pesky LCWR types always seem to want to give it away. To the poor. Whatever will they think of next?

Former LCWR Leader Gives Take on Vatican Order
former LCWR leader, (Mercy Sr. Theresa) Kane made headlines across the world when she welcomed Pope John Paul II to the United States in 1979 and pointedly asked him about the possibility of ordaining women to the priesthood.

Ireland

Laity to Set Up Church Reform Groups
Following the Toward an Assembly of the Catholic Church gathering in Dublin’s Regency Hotel three weeks ago, which was attended by over 1,000 Catholic laity, priests and nuns calling for dialogue in the Irish church, two further events are planned for this coming week.

Priests and Laity Move to Reform Catholic Church in Ireland
Two meetings to step up reform planned for this week
An umbrella group is to be formed to represent laity interested in reforming the Catholic Church in Ireland.  The Irish Times reports that a meeting will be held in Dublin on Wednesday night to discuss the formation of the group. The proposal is a follow-up from a meeting attended by over 1,000 Catholic laity, priests and nuns three weeks ago which called for dialogue in the Irish church.

Martin Refuses to Publicly Back Embattled Cardinal
Archbishop Diarmuid Martin yesterday declined to publicly back embattled All-Ireland primate Cardinal Sean Brady. Dr. Brady has kept a relatively low profile since new allegations emerged of the handling of child abuse concerns raised about notorious paedophile cleric Fr Brendan Smyth.

California

Roman Catholic Church Abuse Files Released In Unprecedented Move
Thousands of confidential religious files documenting sexual abuse among clergy members in the Roman Catholic Church were made public on Wednesday. KNX 1070′s Margret Carrero reports the move marks the largest release of religious order documents in the history of the sexual abuse crisis.

Files Shed Light on Order's Abuse
Culture affected generations of students at Franciscan seminary
Robert Van Handel was a 15-year-old seminarian at St. Anthony's, a prestigious Franciscan boarding school, when, he said, a priest slipped into the infirmary where he was recovering from a fever and began to molest him. The priest told him it would help draw the fever out. More than a decade later, Van Handel himself was molesting children while working as a Franciscan priest at the same Santa Barbara boarding school.

Decades Old Priest Sex Abuse Case Delayed for Psych Report
The sentencing of a Leisure World priest accused of molesting an altar boy two decades ago has been continued awaiting a psychiatric evaluation. Looking every bit his 78 years, Lyons sat in an empty 11th floor courtroom Friday morning. His hands crossed, his eyes downcast, Lyons waited to hear his sentence while listening to attorneys chatter.

Cleveland

Cleveland Catholics Demand Lennon Reopen Parish Immediately
Canon lawyers representing St. Patrick Parish of Cleveland have filed a motion in Rome demanding Bishop Richard G. Lennon immediately reopen the church and restore the parish, and if he won’t, have someone else do it.

Florida

Naples’ Voice of the Faithful Marks 10 Years of Questioning Catholic Hierarchy
Voice of the Faithful was formed nationally in 2002, in the wake of the wave of publicity surrounding "pedophile priests," and the long cover-up by the church hierarchy. Voice of the Faithful in Southwest Floridawas established the same year.

Hawaii

Lawsuit Claims Abuse by Former Honolulu Priest
This is the first lawsuit under a new Hawaii law providing a two-year window for claims of sexual abuseagainst minors to be made, even if the statute of limitations has lapsed, said Joelle Casteix, western regional director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

Kansas City

Bishop’s Lawyers Renew Effort to Dismiss Jackson County Charges
Lawyers representing Catholic Bishop Robert W. Finn have renewed efforts to have misdemeanor charges against him and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph dismissed.

Philadelphia

How about the Truth?
This week Msgr. Lynn’s criminal trial for child endangerment revealed great insight into what passes for church hierarchy’s “logic.” Aware that Fr. Stanley Gana also slept with women, abused alcohol and embezzled church funds, Msgr. Lynn and his bosses left this serial child rapist in active ministry with access to children reasoning that his other egregious behaviors disqualified him from being a “pure pedophile.”

Guest Column: Chaput’s Top Priority is to Protect Children … (Ed: Is it really?)
One of the most egregious and telling examples of what has been happening in the institutional Roman Catholic Church worldwide is what has been happening in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia since the Boston, Mass., Archdiocese imploded in 2002.
-- The Crisis of Credibility in Philadelphia (Clergy sex abuse scandal is likely to deepen, according to 2005 NCR article)

Monsignor: I Didn't Put List of Predators in Safe
A Roman Catholic church official testified has testified that he typed a list of suspected pedophile priests on his computer, but couldn't find it 10 years later to show a grand jury. Monsignor William Lynn endured a second day of searing cross-examination as he fights charges he endangered children by protecting priests.

Senior U.S. Priest Defends Response to Child Sex Abuse Complaint
senior church official has defended his response to a child abuse victim who was told that a predator priest could not be punished because he had sex with women too and therefore was "not a pure pedophile."

Just Doing His Job Is Catholic Official's Defense
The Philadelphia clergy sex-abuse trial has been brutal for Monsignor William Lynn, the first high-level Catholic official to be criminally prosecuted. Lynn's charges are not for abusing minors, but for failing to protect children from predator priests. A clergy sex-abuse trial is reaching a crescendo in a Philadelphia courtroom.

Clergy Sex Abuse Trial Resumes
CBS News. Video summary of the status of the Philadelphia trial.

Austria

Austria's Pastoral Cardinal Schonborn Works to Hold His Church Together
When discontented Austrian priests mark the first anniversary of their "Call to Disobedience" in June, it willhighlight the difficulties facing Cardinal Christoph Schonborn of Vienna in holding his disparate Catholic community together.

Australia

Calls to Make Catholic Church Liable for Abuse
Sex abuse victims of priests in NSW may receive vastly higher compensation payments under a Greensproposal to let victims sue the Catholic Church directly.

Vatican

In Vatican Whodunit, a Punch Line of a Suspect
A mysterious source named Maria. A room furnished with a single chair where sensitive Vatican documents are turned over to an investigative journalist at regular meetings. The arrest of the pope’s butler. Perhaps the greatest breach in centuries in the wall of secrecy that surrounds the Vatican.

Vatican Allows That Butler Scandal Is Hurting Trust
The Vatican acknowledged Monday that the newest crisis in Pope Benedict XVI’s papacy was damaging trust in the church, even as it tried to contain a scandal that has sent the Italian news media into a frenzy since the pope’s butler was arrested days ago and accused of leaking the pontiff’s confidential correspondence.
-- Paolo Gabriele Arrested: Pope Butler Had Secret Documents In Possession, Vatican Says
-- No Cardinals Being Investigated Over Leaks: Vatican
-- Doubts Over Whether Butler Did It
-- 'Tide Turned Against Catholic Church in Vatican' – Video and article

Vatican Bank Chief Ousted After Money-Laundering Scandal
The Vatican bank, whose reputation took a blow over an investigation into money laundering, has fired Chairman Ettore Gotti Tedeschi after a tenure stained by a financial scandal. In a vote of no-confidence, the board of directors unanimously agreed to remove Tedeschi, a Banco Santander SA (SAN) banker, who took the job in 2009, from his post for failing “to carry out various duties of primary importance,” according to a statement by Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.
-- Vatican Shuffle Cloaked in Controversy

Finances

Government Grants Dwarf Private Donations to Catholic Relief Services
Catholic Relief Services, the international relief and development agency of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, received nearly $350 million more in revenue from the US government and other public funding sources than from private sources during its most recent fiscal year, according to its newly released annual report.

Other Happenings around the World

Moderate Catholics Finally Pushing Back
There is a healthy struggle brewing among the nation's Roman Catholic bishops. A previously silent group, upset over conservative colleagues defining the church's public posture and eagerly picking fights with President Obama, has had enough.

The Truth Will Set You Free and Save You Money
Covering up simply compounds the original mistake. And assures bad press and expensive lawsuits. It also diminishes respect. That has been a bitter lesson for the Catholic Church throughout the world in recent years.

Where Is Catholicism’s Tahrir Square?
Across the Middle East and in North Africa, courageous citizens are calling to account monarchies and dictators who have invested in power and personal privilege over the well-being of their people.

Don't Tell the Cathedral
I realized that most of those varied Catholic environments (Catholic educational institutions, retreat centers, religious orders, and suburban parishes) had wanted to distance themselves from central church authorities, or had indicated that aspects of what goes on in their place (the caring, innovative, daring, human work) would probably not be approved of by those authorities. The comment that rang in my ears was: "We have to be a bit careful."

Cup or Chalice?
Six months after the imposition of the new English edition of the Roman Missal, the volume of dissatisfaction has moderated.

Is the Roman Catholic Church Downsizing into a Sect?
Much has been made in recent months about an ad placed in The New York Times urging liberal and nominal Catholics to "quit the church" because it can never be changed from within, and to participate in it is to cooperate with its oppressive system.

Religious Freedom: An American Bishop’s View
The lawsuits by Catholic institutions are not about abortion, contraception, sterilization or other procedures. They are about ensuring that all religious organizations — no matter their particular faith — can publicly live out and express without editing or abridgment what their faiths teach.

Battle in Canadian Schools Mirrors Broader Catholic Realities
Politics is the mother of irony, and there's a juicy one bubbling right now in Canada, in the province of Ontario, where a school system originally designed to protect one aggrieved minority -- namely Catholics -- is under mounting pressure in the name of defending another -- in this case, gays and lesbians.

Catholic Priest Pleads Guilty to Possessing Child Pornography
Catholic priest Bartley Sorensen, who served in Cranberry as an assistant priest decades ago, has pleaded guilty in federal court to charges of violating federal child sexual exploitation laws, United States Attorney David J. Hickton announced Wednesday. Sorensen, 63, pleaded guilty before United States District Judge Alan N. Bloch to receiving and possessing visual depictions of minors engaged in sexually explicit conduct.

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.