Search this Topic:
Mar 7 17 6:25 AM
EXCLUSIVE: 'You can have the best guidelines in the world but if you don't implement them, they are not worth the paper they are written on,' Marie Collins tells the TabletLack of pastoral concern for victims from one Vatican department who refused to reply to letters from survivors proves final straw for CollinsMarie Collins is exhausted. She’s been at the centre of a media whirlwind after resigning from Pope Francis’ child protection commission, a decision she took after becoming frustrated by Vatican politics and infighting.“I think I’m going to throw a blanket over my head and sleep for a week,” she says. This is not just a story about her stepping down from a committee. If that was the case she might have just taken everything in her stride. No, the last few days have been emotionally draining for Mrs Collins because, for her, the campaign against sexual abuse is personal and its prevention has been her life’s work. One of the most prominent victims of clerical abuse, she was sexually assaulted as a 13-year-old girl by a chaplain at a Catholic hospital in Dublin. The ordeal caused her terrible damage; she felt the abuse was her fault, she was weighed down with guilt and lost her confidence. Like many others, her pain was compounded when the complaints against her abuser were ignored and mishandled by the Church. But Ms Collins is a survivor. She became an expert in child protection, working with both the Archdiocese of Dublin and the Irish church to develop robust safeguarding guidelines. A straight talking woman of high principle, she is respected as an independent voice who has acted as a bridge between victims and the Church. After experiencing the dark days of cover ups in Ireland she understood the demands of survivors but at the same time wanted to help bishops make the necessary reforms. So, in 2014, she agreed to sit on a commission reporting directly to the Pope on how the Church can improve child protection. Over the last three years the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors has worked hard on pushing for reforms including better policies and trying to make bishops who cover-up accountable, all of which have been agreed to by Pope Francis. “He accepted all the recommendations,” she tells me. “The problem is not with the Pope. The problem comes with the implementation and the unwillingness of those in his administration to put those proposals into place.”It is inside the Roman Curia, at the Vatican’s doctrinal body, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), where there has been resistance and a refusal to co-operate with the Commission. They are the body which oversees allegations of clerical sexual abuse, a task which requires sifting through evidence of horrific crimes committed by priests and then making recommendations for sanctions. It is a gruelling job, but one the CDF guards zealously. To their eyes it is a task for the Church’s internal legal system where cases of “grave delicts” - the most serious sins - must be assessed correctly in accordance with canon law. It is a task almost exclusively carried out by priests.So when the papal commission came along, with its lay experts of men and women, there were suspicions. This new group, the officials thought, did not have any juridical authority over their handling of canonical process. As far as they were concerned, this commission was just an advisory group and not even an official part of the Vatican. The commission wanted to break into the closed circle and work with the CDF on improving the template for bishops drawing up child protection guidelines, a process that had been underway since 2011. Ms Collins and the team also worked to ensure there was a mechanism in place to ensure bishops who failed to keep to their guidelines were held accountable. “You can have the best guidelines in the world but if you don't implement them, and if there are no consequences if a bishop doesn’t follow them, then they are not worth the paper they are written on,” she stresses. Marie Collins says there was a lack of co-operation on setting up a procedure to hold bishops responsible, which is still not properly up and running. Vatican sources say there is already a tribunal in the CDF which could be used for such cases although no case has yet been brought. Meanwhile the Pope announced another procedure to hold the hierarchy accountable using other Vatican departments. The final straw for Collins, however, was the lack of pastoral concern for victims and it came when one Vatican department refused a request to reply to letters from survivors. “It is what the Pope has spoken about - the clericalism and that arrogance of ‘we know best’ along with a resentment of outsiders and lay people coming in,” she says.“That is the reason for me stepping down. It’s because of the attitude which says ‘we’ve been doing it for years and why should we listen to you’. Taking advice is seen as somehow reducing their authority.”Right from the start, Mrs Collins explains, the commission encountered resistance. “Early on none of the Vatican departments to send representatives to talk with our working groups,” she explains. “If you are asked to improve something then you ask people to help but there was resistance even to us wanting to discuss the issues.”She goes on: “I found that very disheartening. I could see no reason why that would happen. In the outside world it would be normal to work with a group coming to help you on an issue. The first thing you would do would be to talk to them. Even that was resisted in the beginning.”Attitudes have started to change and Mrs Collins stresses there is a new openness in the Roman Curia to learning from the expertise of commission members. “Its always been my wish to help people understand about abuse and how it is caused. I think its very good that departments in the Vatican are open and asking for training, that’s really positive,” she says. “We had an event last year for the Congregation for Clergy and the new bishops and there are training events for other dicasteries. This clericalism, this arrogance that shouldn’t be there is not universal and I don’t want to speak negatively of the entire curia.”Her overarching point is the need for a change in culture. And this starts at the top. The Pope is in the firing line for not “getting it” when it comes to abuse and for adopting an overly merciful stance to abusers. Furthermore, while he has met with individual members who have stayed at his residence, the Casa Santa Marta, he has never attended a meeting of the commission. Mrs Collins says Francis has made some questionable decisions on abuse but believes he has never done anything to put children at risk. She’s also heartened by his calls for “zero tolerance” on the matter. “The core point is that no one has been put into a position of endangering children as a result of his decisions,” she says. What seems to have worn heavily on her are the internal politics of the Vatican, a place which is byzantine and confusing to outsiders at the best of times. Add to the mix the Pope’s shakeup of the Roman Curia and you have the commission trying to work within a cocktail of competing empires guarding their turf during a period of transition. Mrs Collins says she took up her role in the commission with her eyes wide open about the internal politics although now admits: “they were worse than I could have imagined.”The word in Rome is that opponents of the papal commission on safeguarding were resistant to their recommendations in order to undermine Francis, something which Mrs Collins describes as “shameful”.“I can’t get my head round why men of God would allow their internal politics to hinder the work of safeguarding children from the horror of abuse,” she says. “I can’t see how any internal power struggles, whatever they may be, can stop you from taking steps to prevent harming children.”Mrs Collins was the last survivor working on the commission - the other, Peter Saunders, is on a permanent leave of absence - although she is not completely cutting her ties with the Church and will continue to be involved in educational courses at the Vatican. What she resents is the argument made in recent days that, as a victim, it is better for her to remain outside the official Church structures because she can’t both implement policies and advocate for survivors. [John Allen, I suspect, will never hear the end of this - he really should've known better.] “Just because you are abused as a child and put in the survivor box, does not mean you can’t be an expert and work with other experts,” she says. “In 20 years here in the diocese [of Dublin] I’ve never worked in any other way than independently. I was never afraid of the Church nor was I afraid of the survivors. I work simply and solely for the protection of children.”Her independence and impartiality means that Mrs Collins’ resignation is a big loss for the Church as it continues to grapple with the monumental problem of clerical sexual abuse. Her work on the commission shows that progress is being made and the group says it will press on with its work. But this latest debacle, which has laid bare some of the internal resistance to reform inside the Church, show there’s still a long way to go.
Mar 8 17 6:17 AM
Mar 8 17 8:41 AM
Reconnecting the church “with the energy of the Second Vatican Council,” may be the pope’s greatest achievement, Cardinal Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington said in an exclusive interview with America as the fourth anniversary of the pope’s election approaches on March 13.According to Cardinal Wuerl, the pope is changing the papacy and “completely refocusing the role of bishop.” He said Pope Francis has “picked up where we left off” on Vatican II themes of collegiality and synodality and has refocused the church on “a moral theology that rests on scripture and Jesus’ command to love” and on “an evangelizing discipleship.”Cardinal Wuerl, who is archbishop of Washington, also commented on the pope’s post-synodal magisterial document on the family “Amoris Laetitia,” the opposition Pope Francis has experienced and the U.S. church’s stance regarding migrants in the face of challenges from the Trump administration.An edited text of an interview given at the North American College in Rome on Feb. 22 follows:On March 13, Francis will enter the fifth year of his pontificate. As you look back over his first four years, how do you read them? What are the major achievements?I think his great contribution to date has been the reconnecting of the church with the energy of the Second Vatican Council, the energy coming out of that council. I was a student, studying theology when that council was going on and we were all caught up in the excitement of aggiornamento—renewal.I think what happened next was that following the council there were some exaggerations. Theologically there was the hermeneutic of discontinuity; liturgically there were all kinds of experimentation. And in a way what got lost was the council’s call for us to return our focus to the primacy of love as the engine driving the church, her teaching and her outreach.John Paul II was the great refocusing moment in the life of the church to get us back on track and say no to the exaggerations and discontinuity. Pope Benedict put the nail in the coffin on the discontinuity.Now comes Pope Francis who’s saying, “Why don’t we pick up where we left off: collegiality, synodality.” The synodality that Paul VI initiated has flowered under Francis. Those two synods on the family were unlike any of the other synods prior to them because they actually invited the bishops into the process in a transparent, open way.Then came the emphasis in “Amoris Laetitia.” It told us that we have to get back, as the council said, to a moral theology that rests on scripture and Jesus’ command to love and to the virtues that are the signs of a moral life, not the rigid following of the letter of the law.So, when I look back over these four years, I see that Francis has accomplished all this refocusing, even though we have a long, long way to go to begin to change the direction of an institution as big as the Catholic Church and to get it focused back again on the path that I believe the council set out on. I think what he has done is already a huge accomplishment.From the beginning of his pontificate, Francis has urged the church to reach out to people.He has certainly given us focus on an evangelizing discipleship that is now becoming the trademark of church, but we have a huge way to go. The maintenance aspect of church will always be there, but he’s saying don’t forget that that’s only the support system for an evangelizing outreach.Having put that in place as a focus, personally I think he is completely refocusing the role of bishop. Think of it, at the opening of the Second Vatican Council in 1962, John XXIII, “the Good Pope John” went into St. Peter’s basilica on the sedia gestatoria [the ceremonial papal throne] and had flabella (large fans), the Noble Guards, the tiara and yet with all that he was saying, “We need to look at this; this can’t be what the Gospel is all about.”Now you see Pope Francis, he shows up in a simple white cassock and everyone says that’s where it should be. It was no small accomplishment for him to say that a much simpler church in terms of all the accoutrements is going to be a much more effective church.So if I had to say what were Francis’ great accomplishments to date, I would say was that one was the refocusing of the church to speak and look much more like the Gospel and then to invite bishops once again to take their responsible role in the life of the church.In the process, of course, Francis is changing the papacy.Yes. It will never look like it did 25 or more years ago. We have of course to remember that so much of the external appearance of the church was residual; it was what was left from another era when the need for the church to have this political and state quality to it was so very important. But we are past that. That’s not what people look to now when they’re trying to determine what allegiance they should give to the Catholic Church.Francis has moved in three directions: he’s focused on poverty and the poor in the world; he’s focused on the care of creation and our common home; and then in “Amoris Laetita” on the family. What do you see as the great contribution in “Amoris”?In “Amoris Laetitia” (“The Joy of Love”) the Holy Father is recognizing what we have all come to see—that a pervasive secularism is now the dominant cultural voice. But without family you can’t pass on anything. John Paul II said faith, culture, civilization and everything is passed on through the family because every child becomes the heir to the heritage of the generations before.This Holy Father has recognized that marriage in the culture in which we live needs to be totally renewed. But you can’t do this without recognizing that this is a different moment in history to 25 years ago, and the people the church is talking to don’t understand the words the same way as we do.I’ll give you one example. In the summer, we always have some time when I meet with young people, young couples, just to talk about where they are, what’s going on. In one conversation, they were very clear about marriage being “permanent,” that is, until it doesn’t work, they said. Permanent for them had a different meaning that it had for me.I think that’s what the Holy Father is saying: this culture, this language—even the words we use—they have a different meaning for this culture, and we have to find a different way of demonstrating that we’re walking with them, so that we can hear them and they can begin to hear us.This concept of accompaniment is key here.Accompaniment is essential to where we’re going to be. The voice of the faith, the voice of the Gospel, isn’t going to be announced today to crowds of people waiting to hear. Nor is it going to be announced through the structures of culture, society—all the routine elements that used be part of the Christian culture. It’s going to be heard because believers are walking with others and saying, “You know I think there’s a better way; I have a different take on this than you do.”Paul VI put it this way in “Evangelii Nuntiandi” (“Evangelization in the Modern World”): “Modern man listens more willingly to witnesses than to teachers, and if he does listen to teachers, it is because they are witnesses.”I think that’s so true.Some have alleged that “Amoris Laetitia” is not magisterial teaching. I would never, ever begin to challenge the voice of the Petrine Office because if you say, as an individual, I can determine which of the teachings of the church are magisterial and which aren’t, then which of the papal encyclicals and which of the apostolic exhortations are valid and which aren’t? Who gets to determine that?It’s determined when they come out with the signature of the pope on them. That’s what makes them part of the Petrine Office—not somebody else’s judgment about their thought or about the content. And so every apostolic exhortation, and that is all post-synodal ones, are all Petrine magisterium.Remember it was Paul VI who said to the synod, “You can’t be issuing things because you don’t have any magisterium, I do.” And from “Evangelii Nuntiandi” on therefore, they were all exercises in the Petrine Office or Magisterium.Why do you think there has been this opposition to Francis?I think it comes on multiple levels. It comes when the Holy Father takes on a structure that includes all the institutions that are a part of the Holy See like the Secretariat of State, dicasteries, congregations and asks if this ought not to be looked at to see if it’s really functioning the way it should. As soon as you touch any of these, you touch personal interests, so there’s always going to be some opposition because of the natural instinct to say, “We have always done it this way, why do we have to change?” Francis is saying, we need to look at this because we’re centuries after these structures were set in place. So there’s opposition on the institutional level.Then there are some whom I think just feel very uncomfortable; everything was quite secure and safe and now that’s being challenged. They’re being asked to look at even the way they go about doing some of the routine things, and Francis is calling them to look and see if that is really the best way.So, there’s both the institutional challenge and the personal challenge.Moreover, I think, there are just some people who can’t bring themselves to move beyond where they are. These look at things through one lens only. But this pontificate and “Amoris Laetitia” are multifaceted, and if you can only see them through one lens, you’re never going to be able to appreciate this.Do you think the cardinals are doing enough to help him?I do. But let’s distinguish between the curial cardinals and the cardinals around the world. I think the cardinals around the world, the vast-majority of whom are residential bishops, empathize with what the pope is doing because what he’s talking about is what we’re engaged in—pastoral ministry.Curial cardinals have a different perspective because they are, in a good sense, bureaucrats. They run offices; they run the bureaus of the church, but I get the impression that there is some foot-dragging because, as one said to me, “Why are we changing something that has worked for almost 500 years?”And there may be a few who just feel intimidated by the change.Do you see the need for the U.S. residential cardinals to support Pope Francis just as the Council of Nine cardinal advisors did recently?I’m not certain that it’s necessary to be any more explicit than we are. You know in a family it’s customary to exchange gifts at Christmas, and to use a birthday to say, “Hey, I love you.”So, in the life of the church, on the fourth anniversary of his election, we’ll be saying, “Holy Father, God bless you, Ad multos annos!” And for the rest of the time it’s assumed that we’re with him.We see growing concern in the United States and in the church with the approach of the Trump administration to migrants and undocumented workers, at the appointment of a climate change denier as head of the office for the environment, and much else. You live in Washington, D.C.: How do you read this?I think right now it is very difficult to get a handle on where this administration is going because a lot of the things that are being said and a lot of the appointments that are being made have yet to begin to be played out. I think it’s still too early to say.In some areas, I think we have a hope that there will be a better focusing, but I think it is just too soon to say where all this is going because the president and this administration keep refining and changing all they have already said.
Mar 9 17 4:43 AM
A leading official of the Knights of Malta has confirmed claims that hardliners opposed to Pope Francis over Church teaching, as well as the pope’s views on the world economy, were behind last December’s power struggle within the 12th-century equestrian order.Albrecht von Boeselager – who was first ousted, but is now reinstated as Grand Chancellor of the Order of Malta – said he was reluctant to speak of a proxy war.He added, however, that there was certainly a connection between what had happened in the order and the conflict between hardliners and the pope.In an interview published March 4 in the German daily Die Welt Boeselager said it was quite obvious that there were hardliners in the Church who feared that Francis was watering down church teaching on marriage and the family.They also rejected his stance on economic matters and the distribution of wealth.“There is, for instance, a very powerful, ultra-conservative movement in the US which has links to the Evangelical Churches and to conservative economists, behind which there is a great deal of money,” he emphasized.“What the pope says about the world economy naturally angers them and they are very capable of making their voices heard in the Vatican,” Boeselager said.He insisted that the Order of Malta had been drawn into a controversy that did not really concern the order itself.“Only a few days ago Cardinal Raymond Burke once again underlined that anyone who had a high office in the Catholic Church and tolerated the distribution of condoms must step down,” Boeselager noted.“The accusation that I distributed condoms or tolerated their distribution is simply untrue. But quite apart from that, Burke is not only slandering me but is also indirectly attacking the Holy Father for protecting someone who distributes condoms,” he charged.The 67-year-old German knight flatly rejected the cardinal’s accusations that he had condoned a condom-distribution project in Myanmar some years ago. Boeselager insisted he had always kept to Church teaching.But he added that, while the encyclical Humanae Vitae discussed sexuality within marriage, the Church had never really discussed [editor’s note: other ethical issues pertaining to] sexuality outside of marriage, since it is forbidden in the eyes of the Church.“I for myself definitely follow the Church’s teaching but aside from my personal view, that does not mean that as far as the condom topic is concerned, one could not give it further thought and reflect on what is sensible. I have observed a definite need for further discussion here,” Boeselager said.He said he had a short conversation with Pope Francis in mid-February concerning the crisis inside the Order of Malta. The encounter was “absolutely private” and Boeselager would only say that the pope had offered him words of encouragement.
Mar 9 17 4:07 PM
As the United States engages in fierce debates over refugee resettlement, its role on the global stage and the implications of electing an anti-establishment president, similar scenes are unfolding across Europe, where populist political leaders are gaining traction and borders are tightening up.The head of the Catholic Church in the United Kingdom, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, says one way to combat “a corruption of the democratic system” that he believes can accompany this strain of politics is for politicians to model their rhetoric on that of another European leader, Pope Francis.“The biggest challenge in political leadership is not to play to people’s fear but to genuinely appeal to what is best in them and to lead from what is best, not from what is worst,” the cardinal told America.“I think that’s what Pope Francis does, and that’s why people are so interested in what he wants to say—because he appeals to their best. They feel better when they listen to him because he seems to recognize what is best.”“He’s not a politician,” the cardinal continued. “But if that stance, that vision, could be translated into political programs, I think that would be the best answer to the rise of what people are calling populism.”Cardinal Nichols, the archbishop of Westminster, reflected on a number of global issues and church questions during the hourlong interview with America, conducted at his London residence on March 7.He said that Europe is at a crossroads about its future, that the British government must do more to help resettle child migrants and that Pope Francis is “absolutely right” to ignore a public challenge from a group of four cardinals over the pope’s teaching on family life.Pope Francis is “absolutely right” to ignore a public challenge from a group of four cardinals over the pope’s teaching on family life.One of the cardinal’s more high-profile projects in recent years has been his involvement with the Santa Marta Group, a London-based organization that, with the support of the pope, contributes to the fight against human trafficking by encouraging relationships between Catholic entities and local police forces.The group has helped foster partnerships in about two dozen countries, which has helped provide assistance to victims in Nigeria, Ireland, Argentina, Spain and locally in London, where more than 30 victims have been given refuge at a church-affiliated residence.One of the goals of the project is establishing trust between the police and victim advocates, who are in many cases Catholic sisters.“In this cooperation, police forces have to be very clear that the cooperation is in order to get after the perpetrators and not the victims,” he said. “Bit by bit, that worked here.”The program works, he said, by tapping into global Catholic networks.“People here can pick up the phone to their fellow religious sisters or bishops in Nigeria to say, ‘We’ve got lots of Nigerian youngsters here. Can we help them to get back? Will you receive them? Will you help them when they get back?’ Those kinds of networks are right there. They’re real.”The cardinal’s work on human trafficking led to a relationship with Theresa May, who last July became prime minister.She, too, has been a vocal advocate in fighting human trafficking, leading to a natural alliance between the pair. But in recent months the prime minister and the cardinal have clashed over Britain’s response to the refugee crisis facing Europe, especially the plight of unaccompanied minors seeking entry into the United Kingdom.“It is, particularly in this instance, very difficult to champion the work against human trafficking and to leave unaccompanied children vulnerable,” the cardinal said in the interview.The United Kingdom had previously committed to receiving 3,000 unaccompanied minors who had made their way into Europe, many settling in camps in France, but that program was scrapped after just a few hundred were admitted.On the whole, he said, Britain should be doing more to welcome migrants, thousands of whom continue seeking entry into Europe each month.“As every country knows, this is a complex challenge. And every country has a right to be very vigilant as to potential dangers,” he said. “But the whole way that migration to Europe is tackled is very unsatisfactory. It is the most dramatic challenge that we face. What’s proving very difficult is to get a coordinated approach to it.”He said any immigration proposals must begin with “the practical acknowledgments of the human dignity of each person,” and he lamented that the bulk of the challenge in processing migrants has been left to border countries such as Italy and Greece, where Pope Francis has visited to meet with refugees on multiple occasions.He praised a U.K. program that allows faith communities to sponsor refugee families but said that “the response to that hasn’t been as great as I would hope.”As political leaders in Britain gear up to begin the process of leaving the European Union, the cardinal said the rise in Europe and the United States of populism, often tinged with xenophobia, is attributable in part to “the distancing of the democratic system from people’s regular views.”“When people feel that they are not being listened to, their views harden,” he said.The European Union, he said, “is at a bit of a crossroads,” a situation caused by several factors, including the migration crisis and what he said is a loss of “rootedness in values that clearly had an affinity with the Catholic vision of its founders.” Part of the problem, the cardinal said, is Europe’s inability to deal with diversity among its more than 740 million residents.Sentiments in Brussels, he said of the E.U. capital, can be “pretty distant from the fears and anxieties of people in Spain and Greece, for example.”Resistance and ReformTurning to the church, Cardinal Nichols, who was given a red hat by Pope Francis in 2014, said his archdiocese is still considering how to implement “Amoris Laetitia,” the pope’s 2015 document on family life that some Catholic leaders say opens Communion to divorced and remarried believers.“No, we haven’t got there yet,” he said in response to a question about the creation of new guidelines, such as those drafted in Malta, Argentina and Germany. “It’s obviously very interesting to see what other people do. I think some principal points are becoming pretty clear to me anyway.”Among those points, he said, is a willingness of ministers to journey with a divorced and remarried Catholic seeking Communion and a willingness on the believer’s part to acknowledge that he or she is not living in accordance with church teaching. Both parties, he said, must have an open mind about the process.“Try and accompany these people, whoever they might be, with the full richness of the Gospel and [try] not to enter the process with a determined outcome,” he said.He praised the Malta guidelines, which says some divorced and remarried Catholics should be allowed to receive the Eucharist.“It doesn’t start by saying, ‘What about this rule or that rule?’ It starts by saying if this is your position and you feel uneasy, you want to know where you stand, what you ought to be doing, then come and we’ll talk. But let’s be honest, let’s be open and let’s see where we go,” the cardinal said.In the United States, not all dioceses are on the same page when it comes to implementing “Amoris.” The Diocese of San Diego, for example, said that it will adopt guidelines similar to Malta, while others, such as Philadelphia, has said no changes are forthcoming.Cardinal Nichols said he is not sure whether a similar situation could occur in great Britain, home to 22 dioceses, but he defended the idea that responses to “Amoris” can vary from place to place.“Creating space for a variety of pastoral responses is not decentralization,” he said. “It’s a response to the realities in which people live.”
Mar 9 17 4:19 PM
Senior Catholic bishops have paid tribute to the Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland Charles Brown, who has completed his term.A Vatican communiqué issued on Thursday said the nuncio will shortly be moving to Albania, but did not say anything about his likely successor.Archbishop Brown’s appointment by Pope Benedict in November 2011 followed the publication of four reports into clerical child sex abuse.Primate of All Ireland Archbishop Eamon Martin praised the nuncio’s “energy, courtesy, openness, warmth and cooperativeness” and said he had “endeared himself to so many people in Ireland”.He had travelled “the length and breadth of the island, serving Pope Francis and previously Pope Benedict as the representative of the Holy See”.“Thanks to his down to earth and friendly nature, many Irish people have had the opportunity to meet with the ‘Pope’s ambassador’ and chat to him about the living Church in Ireland. I know that he has very much appreciated and valued this interaction,” Archbishop Martin said.Bishop of Elphin Kevin Doran said Archbishop Brown “came among us as a diplomat, at a time when diplomacy was really needed, but he came with the heart of a pastor”.Bishop Doran noted that Archbishop Brown had to devote “a significant amount of energy to the renewal of the Episcopal Conference”.In the past five years, 11 episcopal appointments (to the rank of bishop) have been made in Ireland and the process is under way for seven more.Last August, a group which claims to represent almost a third of Ireland’s Catholic priests severely criticised Archbishop Brown over his selection of bishops. It just stopped short of asking for him to be replaced.The Association of Catholic Priests (ACP) said it was “reluctant to call for Archbishop Brown’s removal” but felt it “instructive that his appointment was a central part of Rome’s response to the problems of the Irish Church”.The policies he pursued in choosing bishops were, “in the main, inadequate to the needs of our time, at odds with the expectations of people and priests and out of sync with the new church dispensation ushered in by the election of Pope Francis”, the ACP said.It expressed “grave disquiet” at the “lack of consultation” involved, as well as a “preference for candidates drawn from a particular mind-set”.In September 2013, the same organisation criticised Archbishop Brown, claiming he had been “catapulted out of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith into the diplomatic service by Pope Benedict, as Rome’s answer to the dysfunctional Irish Catholic Church”.Archbishop Brown was born in New York in 1959 and his mother was Patricia Murphy.He told the Catholic Herald shortly after his appointment that he was “thunderstruck and flabbergasted” when Cardinal Bertone [the Vatican Secretary of State] presented him with his new mission to Ireland.On that appointment, he was raised to the level of archbishop and given the titular see of Aquileia.His only experience of Ireland prior to his appointment came via two short holidays in the early 1980s when, while studying theology at Oxford, he took the Holyhead boat to Dublin to visit a US friend and his Irish girlfriend for Christmas.
Mar 10 17 1:56 PM
A man facing possible deportation has some notable names in his corner ahead of a meeting with federal immigration authorities in New Jersey on Friday.Several dozen clergy members marched toward a federal building in Newark in support of a man facing possible deportation.Clergy including Cardinal Joseph Tobin, leader of New Jersey's largest Roman Catholic archdiocese, led a rally for supporters of Catalino Guerrero on Friday morning along with U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez.Organizers said the 59-year-old Guerrero came here illegally from Mexico in 1991 and has worked ever since, owns his house and has no criminal record. The grandfather of four applied for a work permit several years ago, but filled out a form incorrectly, they said.Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials summoned Guerrero last month and told him to plan to surrender his passport on March 10, Guerrero's supporters said this week.An ICE spokesman said in an email Thursday that Guerrero, "a Mexican national unlawfully present, was ordered removed from the United States in 2009 by an immigration judge. Guerrero remains free from custody and must periodically report to ICE as a condition of his release."Tobin has been critical of President Donald Trump's immigration policies. Last month, he called Trump's executive order temporarily banning immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries "misbegotten" and said it was "playing on irrational fears of people."Tobin said lawmakers should focus on fixing immigration laws rather than on large-scale deportation.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a steady stream of criticisms of Trump's restrictions on refugees and immigrants. Through Catholic Charities and other programs, American bishops consistently resettle the largest number of refugees annually in the U.S. and provide support nationwide for immigrants.Other faith groups are mobilizing their congregations to fight Trump's policies, including a network of 37 Protestant and Orthodox denominations that work with the aid group Church World Service. Hundreds of houses of worship around the country have joined the sanctuary movement, which provides support or housing to people facing deportation.Among others leading protests are U.S. Muslim and Jewish groups, including the Union for Reform Judaism, the largest American synagogue movement.
Mar 10 17 2:12 PM
Lurid accusations of priests involved in sex orgies, porn videos and prostitution have emerged from several parishes in Italy recently, sending shock waves all the way to the Vatican and challenging the high standards that Pope Francis has demanded of clergy.
In the southern city of Naples, for example, a priest was recently suspended from the parish of Santa Maria degli Angeli over claims he held gay orgies and used internet sites to recruit potential partners whom he paid for sex.The allegations concerning Fr. Mario D’Orlando were brought to the attention of the diocese when an anonymous letter was sent to a Naples bishop. D’Orlando denied the charges when he was summoned by the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe, but is now facing a formal inquiry conducted by local church officials.“He has been removed from his position while the investigation is underway,” a spokesman for the cardinal told Religion News Service. “I have no further comment.”In the northern city of Padua, a 48-year-old priest, Fr. Andrea Contin, is facing defrocking as well as judicial proceedings amid accusations he had up to 30 lovers, some of whom he took to a swingers’ resort in France.Begin the Year of Grace with a free booklet of formation and feature articles on migration from Celebration Publications.Contin was removed from his parish of San Lazzaro after three women came forward with complaints against him last December. Bishop Claudio Cipolla of Padua cut short a visit to Latin America to deal with the scandal.“I am incredulous and pained by the accusations,” Cipolla told a news conference last month. “This is unacceptable behavior for a priest, a Christian and even for a man.”One woman, who claims to have been Contin’s lover for more than three years, claimed the priest carried sex toys and bondage equipment, prostituted his lovers on wife-swapping websites and also invited other priests from the area to sex parties.“Even if, at the end of this affair, there are no legal consequences, we have a duty by canon law to take disciplinary action,” said Cipolla.He also revealed Pope Francis had telephoned him personally at the end of January to offer his support and urge him to stay “strong.”Since his election the pope has taken a tough line on ethical behavior in the church though he has also recognized the reality of human imperfection and personal flaws.In recent weeks he has spoken out many times against “temptation,” and last week he told a gathering of clergy at the Basilica of St. John Lateran in Rome that faith could not progress without the challenge of temptation.“Temptation is always present in our lives. Moreover, without temptation you cannot progress in faith,” he said.Alberto Melloni, professor of church history at the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, said there is nothing unusual about scandals in the priesthood.“There is no sin that a cleric doesn’t commit. Scandals to me seem quite normal,” he told RNS.“And I think the illusion of stopping scandals through better selection of personnel is not very promising and has not yielded great results. ”Francis has frequently called for a more rigorous screening process for seminarians, and he has taken direct action when scandals erupt in Italy.A case in point: When reports of “playboy priests” surfaced in the Italian diocese of Albenga-Imperia in the northern region of Liguria in late 2014, the pope sent a special envoy to investigate claims that clerics had posted nude photos of themselves on gay websites, sexually harassed the faithful and stolen church funds.Two years later the pope replaced the leader of the diocese, Bishop Mario Oliveri.Austen Ivereigh, commentator and author of “The Great Reformer: Francis and the Making of a Radical Pope,” said the pope distinguished between sinfulness and corruption and was intent on “rooting out” corruption inside the church.“The remedy for those who succumb to temptation is forgiveness and a fresh start,” Ivereigh told RNS. “The problem is when priests turn their backs on the people, lead hidden lives and end up justifying their conduct. That’s corruption.“And it’s only possible in the priesthood because of clericalism. That’s why the pope is so intent on rooting it out.”
Mar 11 17 3:59 PM
The Vatican’s representative to Ireland, Archbishop Charles Brown, is being transferred to Albania after five years of mending ties between the two states.It’s hard to overestimate the intensity of the crisis that gripped Vatican-Ireland relations when Pope Benedict XVI appointed Brown, then an official at the Vatican’s doctrine office, to the post in 2012.Michael Kelly, the editor of The Irish Catholic weekly newspaper, told Crux diplomatic ties at the time were “at an all-time low.”The previous Vatican ambassador to the country, Italian Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, had been accused by the government of not cooperating with official investigations into the clerical sexual abuse of children. In 2011, Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Enda Kenny famously told the nation’s parliament this showed the “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day.”A few months later, Kenny closed the Irish Embassy to the Vatican.The situation with the local Church was little better. The bishops enjoyed little respect in the national media, and the parliament was even considering legislation which would require priests to break the seal of confession in cases of sexual abuse.On paper, Brown seemed a strange choice to send into such a fraught situation.The New York native had not attended the Pontifical Ecclesiastical Academy, where Vatican diplomats are trained. Instead, he had spent over ten years at the Vatican’s doctrine office, where he had worked closely with Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before he was elected pope.Despite this lack of qualifications - or maybe because of it - he ended up being an inspired choice.“Unlike previous papal nuncios, Brown concentrated a lot on the pastoral side of his ministry,” Kelly explained, “he quickly visited all the dioceses and made a regular habit of visiting parishes, communities and schools across the country. He was particularly supportive of local Church renewal initiatives and parish missions. He also gave generously of his time to youth movements that are trying to engage young people in the Church.”Kelly said Brown has had a “tremendously positive effect” on the Church in Ireland, helped by the fact he was a native English-speaker with Irish ancestry.Brown also worked to heal the rift with the Irish government, attending state events and often visiting the parliament to speak with politicians, creating what Kelly called “warm and respectful relations … built on mutual respect.”The fact that he was a personal friend of Pope Benedict XVI probably didn’t hurt, either.All of this work paid off when the Irish government reopened its embassy in Rome in 2014, and then welcomed the prospect of a visit by Pope Francis for the World Meeting of Families in Dublin in 2018.Given this success, the timing of Brown’s move could be seen as a slight, since Vatican ambassadors are often allowed to stay in office until after papal visits they help to make happen.However, Brown’s unusual prominence may have played a part in his move. The relationship between an apostolic nuncio and the local bishops is always a tightrope, and the crisis the Irish church faced in 2012 meant Brown’s role was always going to be larger than that of previous Vatican representatives.With the rare positive spotlight which should be focused on the church during the visit by Pope Francis, it was probably felt more of that glow would fall on the local bishops if the current media-friendly nuncio was in Tirana. This is especially true since some of that light was already sure to be focused on Cardinal Kevin Farrell, the Irish-born head of the Vatican’s new Laity and Family office, which is responsible for coordinating the World Meeting of Families.The Vatican’s Secretariat of State might also want a more traditional diplomat in the post, who can handle the delicate issues likely to come up in the future, including the possible damage “Brexit” could cause the peace process in Northern Ireland, which is underpinned by a shared EU citizenship and the free movement over the Ireland-Northern Ireland border. Most importantly, no matter how well Brown has served the current pontiff, he was always going to be seen by some as Benedict’s man in Dublin, sent with the singular task of fixing a relationship that was dangerously close to being irreparably broken. Now that task is accomplished, the Vatican’s foreign ministry wants to make sure it has a more ‘normal’ diplomat on the ground when the Pope arrives.Yet it might be dangerous if the new ambassador fails to build on the foundation of his untraditional predecessor.“Archbishop Brown has mended a lot of fences with the Irish government, but relations are still fragile - any misstep from a new nuncio could plunge the relationship right back into a crisis,” Kelly said.He added it would be a “step backwards” if the new Vatican representative retreated to his residence, and was not a regular feature of the local life in the Irish church. “I would also like the pope to consider the importance of appointing someone who will be acquainted with the broad cultural shifts that have occurred in Irish Catholicism in recent decades and someone who will understand the effects the clerical abuse scandals have had on the Church in Ireland and the ongoing need to prioritize authentic Church renewal,” he said.“The pope would do well to note,” Kelly continued, “that the perceived lack of cooperation with judicial investigations into clerical sexual abuse by previous nuncios was a major factor in contributing to the bad relationship that developed between Ireland and the Vatican.”
Mar 11 17 4:03 PM
When did Christians start stealing scripts from home security commercials?We’re all familiar with the canned tropes of the alarm system advertisement: the female resident alone in a darkened house; the ominous threat lurking outside with a crowbar; the horror-flick music rising to a crescendo as the intruder approaches the door—but then repelled by the sight of the ADT sign in the window. Whew! Crisis averted. Cue bright sunshine and smiles and a three-course breakfast with the whole family around the table. Secure.The home security industry trades on a combination of fear and idylls. In fact, they depend on swelling the idyllic in order to heighten the fear. The more you have to lose, the more you feel the threat.A spate of recent books from Christian leaders and intellectuals seem to have stolen this script, swelling the jeremiad shelf. We might describe this as “the new alarmism.”In Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput’s “Strangers in a Strange Land,” it is a character named “Obergefell” from the Supreme Court case legalizing gay marriage that lurks outside the door in a black knit cap. Do you know where your children are?In “Out of the Ashes,” Providence College professor Anthony Esolen reaches back beyond the home security commercial to replay the end-of-civilization script. Sensing his own exaggeration, he doubles down, writing, “Sometimes entire civilizations do decay and die, and the people who point that out are correct.” (That’s all in italics in the original, by the way.) The surest sign of alarmism is when they tell you: “This isn’t alarmist!”And in his much-anticipated book, “The Benedict Option,” blogger Rod Dreher has seen the apocalypse: “There are people alive today who may live to see the effective death of Christianity within our civilization. By God’s mercy, the faith may continue to flourish in the Global South and China, but barring a dramatic reversal of current trends, it will all but disappear entirely from Europe and North America. This may not be the end of the world, but it is the end of a world, and only the willfully blind would deny it.” Note, again: if you’re not alarmed, you’re not seeing things, a circular reasoning to help work yourself into a froth of fear.These are books intended for choirs: they are written to confirm biases, not change minds. They are not written to be overheard. If you’re not part of the alarmist choir, reading these books will sometimes feel like watching video smuggled out of secret meetings in underground bunkers.This critique is not a progressive dismissal. For nearly a decade I have been trying to diagnose the causes of Christian assimilation to culture in books like “Desiring the Kingdom” and “You Are What You Love.” The church certainly needs to have a conversation about how it fosters the faith in each generation and a new intentionality about Christian witness in a secular age. And like these authors, I think the future of Christianity will look ancient.But the new alarmism is something different. It is tinged with a bitterness and resentment and sense of loss that carries a whiff of privilege threatened rather than witness compromised. When Dreher, for example, laments the “loss of a world,” several people notice that world tends to be white. And what seems to be lost is a certain default power and privilege. When Dreher imagines “vibrant Christianity,” it is on the other side of the globe. He doesn’t see the explosion of African churches in the heart of New York City or the remarkable growth of Latino Protestantism. The fear seems suspiciously tied to white erosion.But beyond this narrow fixation of their fear, there is a more serious theological concern. “Fear is not a Christian habit of mind,” as author Marilynne Robinson put it. It is a refusal of hope. And despite all their protests to the contrary, what sticks with you when you walk away from these books is a bunker mentality. It’s what sells the security system.The new alarmism seems to have bought the nonsense about the “right side of history,” just in the negative. Hunker down for a decline. But I’m reminded of a line from one of John Updike’s early short stories: “The churches of Greenwich Village had this second-century quality. In Manhattan, Christianity is so feeble its future seems before it.” Count me one of the “willfully blind” perhaps, but I would never count out a savior who rose from the dead.
Mar 14 17 4:03 AM
Marie Collins of Ireland is a clergy sexual abuse survivor who resigned March 1 from Pope Francis' Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, gave an interview shortly following Collins' resignation. Collins has written an open letter to Müller in response to that interview, which she asked NCR to publish below.
Dear Cardinal Müller,I read with interest the answers you gave to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera March 5 in reply to items in my statement following my resignation from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. There are some things you say in this interview to which I feel I need to respond.You state you "cannot understand the talk of lack of cooperation" between the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and the pontifical commission.
Maybe I can help with an example. In 2015, invitations went to your Congregation from some of the commission's working groups asking that a representative attend their upcoming meetings in Rome to discuss issues of mutual interest.The invitations were declined and then the members were informed by the Commission Secretary, Msgr. Robert Oliver, that face-to-face meetings would not be possible and any communication with dicasteries must be done in writing.It's been four years since Pope Francis' election. Help us continue to report about this pope and his vision for the church! Subscribe and save $10!Things changed eventually, but this took over a year. It was September 2016 before a representative of the CDF was made available and attended Commission working group meetings. The discussions which ensued were very helpful, hopefully for your Congregation as well as the Commission.You say that "in recent years there has been a permanent contact" between the commission and the CDF.
I don't know what form this permanent contact took. All I can say is the members of the Commission did not receive any formal reports or see any positive results generated by such contact.You continue with the comment that "one of our staff is part of it [theCommission]."
Indeed, one of your CDF staff was a member of the Commission. It is surprising though — as you say you had permanent contact with the Commission — that you are not aware that this staff member, Claudio Papale, ceased active involvement with the Commission in 2015 (although members were not notified of his resignation until May 2016).The last meeting he attended was the October 2015 plenary. With that meeting being held four months after the announcement of the pope's decision to create a new tribunal to judge bishops' negligent in responding to abuse, Papale was in an excellent position to update commission members on the response within the doctrinal congregation to that initiative.About the new tribunal, you say an "intense dialogue between various dicasteries involved in the fight against pedophilia in the clergy" took place following the pope's decision and that the tribunal was only considered a "project."
It was a project you say, only a project? Rereading the Vatican's June 10, 2015, public announcement, it appears to be far more. Very specific actions had already been authorized by the Holy Father, including:The Holy Father also had already "authorized that sufficient resources will be provided for this purpose."Despite the close collaboration you say existed with the Commission, it was not included in this discussion among Vatican dicasteries. Would this not have been a good idea as it would certainly be correct to categorize the Commission as being part of the "fight" to which you refer as well as the originator of the initiative?You state that the conclusion reached was that the tribunal was not necessary as any negligence could be addressed through the "competencies," "tools" and "legal means" already in place in the Congregation for Bishops. And if in a "special case" this was not sufficient, the Holy Father could always entrust it to your Congregation. So no change was found to be necessary and no implementation took place.I would like to thank you, Cardinal, for confirming by your words that my statement on the tribunal was true. The pontifical commission recommended it, the Council of Cardinals and the Pope approved it, and then it was rejected by your congregation.A question comes to mind. If all necessary means have been in place to address the case of a bishop negligent in respect of protection of children from abuse, why then has no bishop been officially, transparently sanctioned or removed for this negligence?If it is not lack of laws, then is it lack of will? I am sure many survivors, myself included, would be interested, Cardinal, in the answer to this question.In reference to your congregation's refusal to both cooperate with the Commission's work on the Safeguarding Guidelines and to acknowledge letters sent to the Vatican by abuse survivors, you state: "I know nothing about these two alleged incidents."
If you are in doubt about what these "incidents" were, you might refresh your memory by looking at the formal letter of response sent from your Congregation to the Commission Dec. 15, 2016. In its very first paragraph, that letter lists the two requests as being in regard to "guidelines" and "sending of acknowledgement letters."In the latter case, the Commission's recommendation [see its Feb. 8, 2016 press statement] that went to the Holy Father and which he approved was that all Vatican dicasteries would acknowledge directly letters sent to them by survivors.When this recommendation was discussed with the official representative of the CDF at a working group meeting in September 2016, he saw no difficulty in it being done. Yet two months later in the formal written response from your Congregation it was refused.In any area of endeavor it is difficult to work with a body which is inconsistent in its approach, as you do not know where you stand at any particular time.The reason given for rejecting of the Commission request, as you confirm in this interview, is respect for "subsidiarity." This emphasis on subsidiarity shows that within the Church, respect for the hierarchical system and its participants still outweighs respect for the individual human person.I was taught to believe that all are equal in the sight of God, but it seems there is a different view in your congregation when it comes to the local bishop and a victim of abuse. It appears that for you the concern that the local bishop might feel disrespected far outweighs any concern about disrespecting the survivor.How many much more fundamental measures in regard to justice for survivors and the prevention of abuse are being hidebound by anachronistic, bureaucratic, internal hierarchical considerations?You might check the aforementioned letter to refresh your memory in regard to the other deeply troubling "incident:" the refusal of cooperation on the Safeguarding Guidelines which are being recommended by the Commission and which the Congregation seems particularly reluctant to discuss.It may be that it is felt a group of what are seen as "outside" experts are encroaching on what the dicastery views as their area of responsibility. If this is the case, could there not be some way to overcome this by frank discussions of the problem?The safety of minors in the future is too important for an impasse of any sort to be allowed to stand. Surely every effort must be made to resolve whatever difficulties there are.You say "the complaints are based on misunderstanding" about the task of the CDF.
As a former Commission member I am very clear on the function of the CDF and have no misunderstanding in regard to its responsibilities (it would be odd indeed if members of a papal commission were ignorant in the way that is suggested).The Commission had not expected the Congregation to send anything other than a confirmation to the correspondent that their letter had been received and would receive attention.This would be pastoral in the sense only that the writer would know they were not being ignored. I am sad a misleading impression has been put into the public domain about this.Lastly, a more personal comment in regard to myself, you state "I have never had the chance to meet her."
Cardinal, it seems you have forgotten the evening we spent seated together at a small dinner in Dublin after my appointment to the Commission?During the meal we discussed together the new Commission, my appointment to it and in general the issue of abuse in the Church. Also present were other CDF officials, including Msgr. John Kennedy and then-Fr. Robert Oliver, who before his appointment to the commission was serving as your congregation's Promotor of Justice.Finally, with respect, Cardinal, I do not know what the motivation is in regard to any difficulties put in the way of the pontifical commission. All it wishes to do is bring better protection to children and vulnerable adults wherever in the world the Catholic Church is present. If there are problems, nothing is gained by maintaining a pretense that all is well.I would ask that instead of falling back into the Church's default position of denial and obfuscation, when a criticism like mine is raised the people of the church deserve to be given a proper explanation. We are entitled to transparency, honesty and clarity.No longer can dysfunction be kept hidden behind institutional closed doors. This only succeeds as long as those who know the truth are willing to remain silent.Yours sincerely,Marie CollinsFormer member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors
Mar 14 17 1:15 PM
Eamonn Casey, the former bishop of Galway and Kerry who was at the centre of a major scandal in Ireland when it emerged in 1992 that he had fathered a child and used church funds to pay maintenance, has died at the age of 89 in a rest home in Newmarket-on-Fergus in Co Clare after a long illness.In a statement hours after Casey's death, Peter - the son who was at the centre of the scandal - and other relatives, including the bishop's brother Father Micheal and his sister Ita Furlong, paid tribute to the colourful clergyman."We wish to acknowledge the priestly work of Bishop Eamon, especially in the pursuit of social justice for the marginalised, as evidenced by his work with Shelter in London in the 1950s and 1960s, and later with his involvement in the setting up and development of Trocaire," they said."Notwithstanding the demands on his time, Bishop Eamon was a great source of love and support, making himself available to celebrate and to empathise with us in all our important family occasions."Ordained to the priesthood in 1951, Casey was appointed Bishop of Kerry in 1969 before taking on the larger and more high-profile diocese of Galway and Kilmacduagh in 1976. The illegitimate son at the centre of the scandal was the product of a relationship with an American woman, Annie Murphy - a friend of a friend who came to stay at the bishop's residence to convalesce after her divorce. Peter, their son, was born in 1974 but Casey refused to acknowledge him and Murphy returned to the United States with their son.At the time Casey, who was considered by Ireland’s standards to be a respected, progressive and modern-looking priest, is said to have wanted his son Peter put up for adoption.The affair remained a secret for 18 years until a story ran on the front page of The Irish Times on 7 May 1992, on his resignation as Bishop of Galway and of payments of $115,000 to a woman in Connecticut and a lawyer in New York, and other regular payments since Peter’s birth.Within days, Annie Murphy had told her story to the Irish media.The scandal proved a seminal moment for the Catholic Church in Ireland as the revelation was so far outside the experience of the country: prior to the Casey affair priestly scandal was unheard of, and the church was all-powerful in an Ireland with no divorce and no same-sex marriage.He fled Ireland for the United States, before returning to Europe and to Rome to hand in his resignation. He moved to Mexico to learn Spanish before being moved to the American Missionary Society of St James the Apostle, in Ecuador.Outside of the Catholic Church he was a tireless campaigner for those in difficulty or for injustices. He was involved in helping the homeless Irish immigrants in London in the 1960s that preempted the foundation of Shelter charity organisation which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.Casey was also appointed Chairman of Trócaire following the organisation’s establishment in 1973. Trócaire was heavily involved in the fight for human rights in El Salvador in the 1970s, and Bishop Casey played a leading role in highlighting the killing of civilians, human rights activists and church leaders in the country. Trócaire was supporting the El Salvador Human Rights Commission, which had been set up by Archbishop Oscar Romero, and other human rights organisations in response to the unlawful killing of 8,000 people.Éamonn Meehan, executive director of Trócaire, said that Bishop Casey would be remembered with gratitude in communities across the developing world: “Bishop Casey spoke out courageously in defence of persecuted communities overseas and was willing to place himself in danger in order to do so. His campaigning, both at home and overseas, raised awareness of grave injustices and helped to bring about positive change.“For two decades Casey was the driving force behind Trócaire. Bishop Casey and Brian McKeown, the first Director, formed a dynamic partnership. Together, they stood courageously with the world’s poor and championed their cause when others would not do so.”Irish President Michael D Higgins also paid tribute to Casey, noting in particular how many will remember his work on housing new Irish emigrants in Britain prior to his appointment as Bishop of Kerry. Higgins said in a statement: "Other aspects of his life were the source of pain to others, for which Bishop Casey has apologised and expressed his deep regret, and he himself had the experience of pain visited on him in later life.”Galway diocese has announced details of the former Bishop of Galway. His removal to Galway Cathedral will take place at 7pm on Wednesday while a funeral mass will take place at 2pm on Thursday, followed by interment in the Cathedral crypt.
Mar 15 17 4:49 PM
Mar 15 17 4:53 PM
Recent exchanges in the media between the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and a former member of a papal advisory commission have highlighted a lack of clarity and transparency when it comes to finding better ways to make bishops and religious superiors more accountable for how they handle allegations of sexual abuse.The first muddying of the waters occurred in early June 2015 when a Vatican press office briefing and bulletin announced, “The Holy Father approved proposals and authorized that sufficient resources” be provided for a new “judicial section” in the doctrinal congregation in order for the congregation “to judge bishops with regard to crimes of abuse of office.”While officials told reporters that the Council of Cardinals and Pope Francis approved the proposal presented by Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, it was not a “papal fiat,” but rather just a green light for the offices involved to flesh out what procedures could uphold greater accountability, a source familiar with the situation told Catholic News Service.However, at the time of the announcement, the media and commission members, according to Marie Collins — the newly resigned commission member — were led to believe it was “a done deal” that just awaited implementation. Further proof that the recommendations never carried any legislative weight is that they were never published in “Acta Apostolicae Sedis,” the Vatican’s official bulletin of record.Marie Collins, a clerical sexual abuse survivor from Ireland, resigned as a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. (CNS file/Carol Glatz)But even though the announcement was made to the public, Collins said, and media around the world reported it as having been authorized, no one stepped forward to officially clarify or correct the record that the pope’s “approval” was just enthusiastic encouragement. “No one came out to say, ‘No, no, it’s only just a project or something that will be discussed” further, she said March 15 by phone from Ireland.Collins told CNS that she and other commission members were told a month or two after the Vatican announcement that the tribunal proposal “was not happening. There was absolutely no explanation” other than that the doctrinal congregation was not going to implement it.So when Cardinal Gerhard Muller, congregation prefect, told the Italian newspaper “Corriere della Sera” March 5 that the proposal for a new judicial section in the doctrinal office had never been a mandate, but only “a plan,” he was correct. But that kind of clarity is only emerging officially now, nearly two years later, after Collins quit the commission and very publicly criticized “resistance” to the commission’s recommendations.The commission’s proposal for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to try bishops for abuse of office was unnecessary, Cardinal Mueller said in the interview, because “the tools and juridical means” and authority for keeping bishops accountable were already in place.However, if that really had been the case, Collins told CNS, there should have been a lot more bishops being held accountable for mishandling abuse allegations over the years. “Obviously, more was needed,” she said.In fact, while all the laws on accountability are in theory already there, the problem had been a lack of a well-developed and clear process for dealing with the reporting and judging of such claims, a canon law expert told CNS.An indication the pope and others agreed the status quo was not enough was the pope’s issuance in June 2016 of the motu proprio, “Like a Loving Mother.”“It shows that the pope wasn’t giving up on accountability,” she said, and that he didn’t agree that further measures were not needed.Abuse of office always has been a crime as defined in canon 1389, and canon law always has allowed removal from office “for grave reasons.” The motu proprio connected those two dots, underlining that negligence in exercising one’s office, particularly in cases of the sexual abuse of minors, was among the “grave reasons” that could lead to removal.The motu proprio emphasizes that not just diocesan bishops or eparchs, but also major superiors of religious institutes could be legitimately removed if their actions or failure to act resulted in grave harm to others. It specified that when it came to negligence regarding sex abuse, a “lack of diligence” was enough to make the case “grave” and open to sanctions.The papal instruction, however, addresses accountability without involving the doctrinal office — unless the pope deems it necessary on a case-by-case basis.It upholds, but fleshes out, the current practice of sending cases to the particular congregation that has jurisdiction over the accused: the congregations for Bishops, Eastern Churches, the Evangelization of Peoples or Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.It continues with the practice of dealing with the crime of negligence as an administrative process. It only becomes a judicial process that goes to trial if the case is not clear-cut or if the accused contests the accusation. At that point, the pope is at liberty to assign the trial to any tribunal, not just the Vatican’s doctrinal office, but also to an ad hoc tribunal if he so chooses and gives it the necessary jurisdiction, the canonical expert told CNS.One of the reasons why the commission insisted on having one clearly defined tribunal be charged with accusations was to rectify a potential conflict of interest in the current system where the Congregation of Bishops is charged with overseeing the investigation and suggested sanction of a brother bishop, Collins said.“You don’t put the same people in charge of administering the sanctions; they’re judging their own. That in normal society is not accepted as a good idea. That would be my objection,” she said.Also, she said, the huge publicity the proposed tribunal received actually led to people sending in cases, “but it wasn’t there and nobody said it’s not here.”She said even though she had no authority at the time as a commission member to come out with an official statement, she began to tell people — survivors and media — about a year ago that the tribunal “was not happening” because “I did not believe anything like that should be kept secret.”However, she said, “it didn’t cause much of a kerfuffle at the time. Maybe people didn’t believe me.”Holding church leaders accountable with a tribunal and with transparently administered and publicly stated sanctions had been a major priority for Collins, and the tribunal being scrapped was just one of many reasons she quit as an adviser.“If there are no sanctions, (all the policies and guidelines on child protection) are not worth the paper they are written on. You have to make people accountable.”
Mar 16 17 4:29 PM
This week Cardinal George Pell sat down with some 20 students from Harvard visiting Rome, with the goal of challenging them to both set firm ideals and to work hard to achieve them – something the Church can help with by providing a basic framework for moral leadership.In a March 14 interview with CNA ahead of his speech, Cardinal Pell said the main point he would make to the students is “that they need a cause. They need a set of principles that they accept and follow and that they will be prepared to make sacrifices for.”He stressed the importance of conveying the message that as future leaders “they need to be courageous and they need to be persevering. And if they can be strategists, take a long-term view, so much the better.”Cardinal Pell, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, spoke just before giving his speech on Principled Leadership to a group of 20 people who are among Harvard University’s graduating class of 2017 and who traveled to Rome for a four-day “Harvard Vatican Leadership Summit.”A student-led initiative, the event was held at the Pontifical Lateran University and hosted students from various backgrounds at Harvard, including the business, law, divinity, medical, and dental schools.In addition to Cardinal Pell, other key figures participants have met with during the summit include Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin; Vatican Secretary for Relations with the States, Archbishop Paul Gallagher; Cardinal Peter Turkson, president of the Pontifical Council for Integral Human Development; and Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.In his comments to CNA, Cardinal Pell outlined the key principles that ought to guide business and economic decisions, saying that no matter what, “you must be aware of the common good.”“Think of the whole of society, not just the shareholders, not just the workers in the small group,” he said. “Have some real understanding of what justice is. Have a special sensitivity for those who are less fortunate, those who are poor.”One of the most important things to have a constant awareness of is our responsibility toward future generations, he said, cautioning that one modern danger is that “people know more and more about less and less.”An advantage of the Catholic Church in this regard, he said, is that it can help provide “a general scheme” into which specific principles, causes, and points of view can fit.However, he stressed that despite the Church’s role in providing this scheme for various fields, particularly economics and business, it is above all a religious institution, and as such doesn’t embrace any one system in particular.Reflecting on criticisms Pope Francis has at times voiced in reference to the current global market system, the cardinal stressed that the Pope “is a religious leader, he is not an economist.”The Church, he said, “does not espouse socialism, much less communism or Nazism or the free market. It announces general principles and says this fits or that doesn't fit.”“We should listen very seriously to everything the Pope says on economics,” he said, but emphasized that as Christians, we listen to him because “he is the successor of Peter, he teaches us things religious.”In this sense the Pope is applying Gospel standards to the economic situation, Cardinal Pell said, adding that if he himself were to speak out on the topic, people wouldn’t necessarily need to take notes on the economic aspect, “but if I preach the Gospel, I hope people listen.”Since not all of the students participating in the summit are Catholic, the cardinal voiced his hope that they would walk away with at least a better idea of the Church’s social doctrine.He brought a compendium of the social doctrine of the Church for each of the participants, because it is “a coherent exposition on many, many important topics,” including “right and wrong, natural law, subsidiarity, the common good and different types of justice.”The Catholic Church is “one of the few organizations that has an over-arching system of thought to make people think,” he said, explaining that “it is logical and coherent, it's an impressive piece of work.”Cardinal Pell praised the idea of summit as unique, and “exactly what a Catholic university needs to be doing.”“I think the Christian perspective brings flourishing, brings life, makes good societies, brings happiness, development,” he said. So to have a group of students from a university such as Harvard is “a wonderful thing. I think it'll be good for them and it'll be good for us.”Okendo Lewis, a student at the John F. Kennedy School of Government who spent part of his childhood in Milan, was the one who initially thought of the summit and made it happen with the help of Mary Ann Glendon, who was a US Ambassador to the Holy See during the George W. Bush administration and who now teaches at Harvard Law School.In comments to CNA, Lewis said part of why he wanted to offer students a Vatican perspective on leadership is because “there seems to be a crisis in leadership” throughout the world, “and Pope Francis very much speaks to many who are trying to figure out how to lead in these difficult times.”“I definitely wanted this next generation of leaders, whether they’re in business or in medicine or in law, to learn from the wisdom of the Pope, but also the city and the Church, which has had two thousand years of experience,” he said.Lewis said he initially had doubts about whether or not people would come, since it was already late when they started to advertise the trip. However, they received over 180 applications, and had to narrow it down to 20 spots.“I think that speaks to the power of the Catholic Church and the interest there is in Pope Francis. So people were actually very enthusiastic to be here,” he said.Lewis voiced his hope that the summit would become an annual event. This year’s theme of “How to Answer the Call to Serve” fits into what most of the university’s students hope to accomplish, he said, explaining that “they’re trying to figure out how to leverage their education and their studies to help meet the needs of society, how can they be student leaders.”“So my hope is that this will become an annual tradition so that students across Harvard and hopefully across the United States, can come to Rome and learn from so many of the institutions here where there’s the pontifical universities, there are dicasteries, and certainly the Pope himself.”Kiernan Schmidt, a student at Harvard Business School, told CNA he wanted to participate not only because of his Irish and Catholic background, but also because the idea of “how morality plays into the decisions we make” as leaders in various fields.“The idea of examining how morality guides our leadership styles was really the main impetus,” he said, adding that Pope Francis’ challenge for global leaders “to reexamine what we’re doing for each other and how we think of ourselves as leaders” was also a key factor.What had impacted Schmidt so far in the meetings they had with Vatican officials was “hearing humility from almost every level of leadership that we've met with.”Another point of particular interest was gaining “a profound understanding that traditions and conditions in local Churches can be very different from what you hear in Rome.”“I think that that adjusting of leadership and tactics in how we approach problems can be very different in the cultural context,” he said, noting that in their meeting with Archbishop Gallagher, the prelate told them that he not only explains Rome to the local Churches of where he goes, but he also “explains the local Churches to Rome.”This “two-way dialogue” in the Church, Schmidt said, “was something that felt very new, very refreshing and very modern and also very true to the words we hear from Pope Francis, you know, approaching problems with humility and seeking to talk one to one.”
Mar 17 17 4:02 PM
Hungarians should overcome prejudice and help refugees to settle in the country, the Catholic bishop of Vac said trying to ease a hostile attitude towards migrants.Miklos Beer, whose comments are a rare show of support for migrants among high clergy in Hungary, has backed up his stand by housing two asylum-seekers from Afghanistan and one from Cuba in his church quarters situated in the quaint town north of Budapest.Now the 73-year old bishop is afraid that under a new law passed last week, they will be taken to container camps on Hungary's border with Serbia, where all migrants will be detained until their asylum requests are processed. Migrants whose applications are not immediately approved will not be allowed to move freely around Hungary.Prime Minister Viktor Orban has been a vocal opponent of the wave of migration into Europe, which he says threatens the socioeconomic makeup of the continent, and his government is now building a second barrier to keep migrants out."I still hope and I am convinced that even if we have a double fence (on the border), the door is still open," Beer, who will soon celebrate his 14th Easter in Vac, told Reuters in an interview."It is up to us, and I have the entire Hungarian society in mind, that we should accept those who knock on the door, and should not humiliate them ... but we should ensure that they feel at home here as soon as possible."Beer said he was following the teachings of Pope Francis.The pontiff last month called for a radical change of attitude towards immigrants, saying they should be welcomed with dignity and denouncing the "populist rhetoric" he said was fuelling fear and selfishness in rich countries."When someone comes through the door, and based on the latest parliamentary decision ... arrives in the transit zone (on the border) and asks for asylum, we should help those who get the refugee status," Beer said."We should not have prejudices against them."He said parishes and local communities should offer empty homes in Hungary's depopulated villages to refugee families.Based on data from the immigration office, this year 51 migrants had been granted refugee or protected status.A total of 1,920 asylum requests, some of them filed last year, had been rejected and 1,488 applications had to be terminated as asylum seekers had left Hungary. Last year Hungary received 29,432 asylum requests, but most people decided to move on to western Europe.The office of the Catholic Church did not reply to emailed Reuters questions asking for an official statement on migrants.Beer said he would continue to provide shelter and food for the three asylum seekers who he has put up for a month, but admitted he would not be able to prevent their transfer to a detention camp, if police came."I won't have any means to stop that," he said.
Mar 18 17 6:43 AM
What does it actually mean for a priest to be 'laicized'?Rome, Italy, - When reports came out recently about Pope Francis’ decision to modify the penalties for several priests found guilty of abusing minors, the question arose as to whether the Pope was being too merciful in his decision.Another concern was whether priests found guilty of abuse of minors would continue to be dismissed from the clerical state, or “laicized.”To address these issues and clear up some of the grey area on this topic, CNA spoke with a canonist, Fr. Damián Astigueta, SJ.A professor at the Faculty of Canon Law at the Pontifical Gregorian University with a specialty in criminal proceedings, Fr. Astigueta offered insights on what dismissal from the clerical state is, why the Church doesn’t always choose to dismiss from the clerical state priests who are guilty of abuse, what those condemned to a life of prayer and penance actually do, the role of bishops in abuse cases, the lessening of sentences, and more.What is dismissal from the clerical state?While frequently used in the media, the term “laicization” doesn't really exist anymore among canonists, Fr. Astigueta said, and has been widely replaced by the term “loss of the clerical state.”When a priest loses his clerical state, either because he requested it or because it was taken from him, he is “‘dismissed from the clerical state,’ because this is a juridical status,” Fr. Astigueta explained.“He remains in a situation judicially as if they were a layperson. This is where the term ‘laicization’ comes from.”He clarified that when this happens, it doesn’t mean that a priest is no longer a priest: “the sacrament of Holy Orders isn’t lost; it imprints an ontological sign on the being of the priest that can never be lost.”What happens instead is that exercising the rights proper to the clerical state are prohibited, such as saying Mass, hearing confessions, and administering the sacraments; as are the obligations, such as that of reciting the Liturgy of the Hours and obedience to their bishop.However, since a man dismissed from the clerical state remains a priest, there are times at which the Church continues to oblige him to act as a priest.For example, if he finds someone in danger of death who asks for the sacraments, even though he is no longer in a clerical state, he “must hear (the person’s) confession because the most important thing is the salvation of that person.”Fr. Astigueta also emphasized the importance of not misinterpreting the process to mean a “reduction to the lay state.” This phrase is not correct, he stressed, since it inaccurately treats laity “in a derogatory way, as if they were lesser.”Why not all priests guilty of abuse lose the clerical stateFor Fr. Astigueta, the answer to the question of why not all priests found guilty of abuse are dismissed from the clerical state has two primary components: not all acts of abuse are the same in terms of severity, and the situation of the priest himself varies.“Why doesn’t the Church dismiss from the clerical state all abusers? Because not all abuses are the same entity,” he said. Even civil law recognizes a difference in severity between pedophilia – which involves prepubescent children – and ephebophilia – which involves mid-to-late adolescents. In other cases, there may be the appearance of consent with an older teen, he said, which can further complicate the matter. The penalty assessed to the priest takes these factors into account, he added.When it comes to priests who are found guilty of abuse, there are different types of punishments, including dismissal from the clerical state, or a life of “prayer and penance,” depending on the situation.“There are certain cases in which dismissal would be the just punishment,” Fr. Astigueta said.But there are also cases – even with several instances of serious abuse that have caused a lot of damage – when the Church decides against this dismissal, he said, pointing to Legion of Christ founder Fr. Marcial Maciel as an example.Fr. Maciel was a person “who was proven to have committed a series of very serious crimes, a person who when one knows what he did truly realizes they are in front of a very disturbed person,” the priest said. “Can a disturbed person be punished with the maximum penalty?”At times the Church prefers to use a different system, prohibiting the person from ministry, particularly in public. Instead, the person is isolated at home, dedicated to prayer “and nothing more.” This means no visits from people, at times not even friends or their congregation.In the case of Fr. Maciel, even his funeral, which should have been large and public, was instead closed to the public.“Is it a gilded prison? In a certain way, yes,” Fr. Astigueta said. However, he said the Church at times chooses this punishment, which is less strong, because at a certain point, “when I give a person a sanction that destroys them, it’s not a sanction, but revenge.”Fr. Astigueta also spoke of the importance of mercy in the process, particularly when it comes to elderly priests and the Church’s own responsibility toward her members. Even in a tragic case when a child has been abused, “the Church is still a mother, and mercy is used for the victims and the priest,” he said, noting that abusers often have serious psychological problems that require treatment.If a priest chooses to renounce his clerical state, he is often inserted into society without a problem; but when it comes to those who have been dismissed, it can be a lot harder, Fr. Astigueta said, explaining that there is a canon (c. 1350 §2) establishing “that there exists a duty of charity toward them.”This means “helping them and taking care of them in the measure that the person lets themselves be helped,” he said.If an 80-year-old priest is dismissed from the clerical state, “where do we send him? Can he find work? He’ll end up living on the street as a homeless man. How long will he last? He won’t last anything,” he observed.To put a man on the street in this circumstance, unless he has relatives ready to take him on, “is practically to kill him.”Often, despite the harm done, something good in the person remains, he said, explaining that because of this, sometimes a more just penance is to let him “live with his conscience.” While a life of prayer and reflection might sound comfortable, Fr. Astigueta asked: “reflecting with whom? With your memories before God, with your regrets.”He noted that in order to avoid pressure from the media in these cases, the Church “is obliged at times to punish, in my view, more seriously than it should.”Offering help to victims and bringing about justice is always the Church’s top priority when it comes to clerical abuse, but concern must also be shown to the sinner, he said, explaining that if the Church were to immediately dismiss from the clerical state every abusive priest, it could cause more harm.“Sometimes we find ourselves in situations that if these people are thrown out on the street, I am leaving a possible serial killer,” Fr. Astigueta said, referring to pedophiles. The Church, he said, must also take this into account.Fr. Astigueta stressed that when it comes to mercy in abuse cases, it “never goes against justice,” and that the first act of mercy is “to tell the truth.”Once the truth is known, the measure in which the offender can be sanctioned must be taken into account “in order to avoid that the penalty is a revenge,” because this helps no one.“The pain of the victim is never cured with revenge; the only way to heal the victim’s pain is forgiveness offered freely,” he said, noting that “this can never be forced on anyone; but certainly neither can the spirit of revenge be forced.”What a life of prayer and penance actually meansMany priests found guilty of abuse, instead of being dismissed from the clerical state, are instead sentenced to a life of “prayer and penance.”But while the sentence is fairly common, among elderly priests in particular, what it actually involves is at times a bit obscure to the public eye, and it can seem like the priest is getting off easy despite committing heinous crimes.Fr. Astigueta explained that on a practical level, “the person is isolated, sometimes more, sometimes less.”Often “the person is isolated, possibly without having direct access to the telephone or the TV, and must dedicate himself to reading, praying and walking around inside the house.”At times the person might even be barred from leaving the house without permission, under pain of incurring further punishments.He pointed to the recent case of Luis Fernando Figari, a layman and founder of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, who was found guilty of an extreme, authoritarian style of leadership as well as several accounts of sexual, physical, and psychological abuse.As a punishment, the Vatican didn’t expel Figari from the community, but ordered that he live alone, and barred him from any contact with the community's members and from receiving people.If a priest who receives this sentence doesn’t want to follow the rules, the Church in this case “can impose the full dismissal” from their clerical status, Fr. Astigueta said, noting that many priests who choose this life are people who “want to be helped and recognize that this penalty is a table of salvation for them.” “It’s strong, yes, but at least I have something to eat and I can live my final years in peace,” Fr. Astigueta said, noting that in general it is elderly priests who end up in this situation, whereas younger ones with some sort of major mental health disorder are typically sent to a therapeutic communities.At times they are able to celebrate Mass with others, but “always with the very clear ban that ‘from here, you cannot go away without permission.’”The Church, Fr. Astigueta said, “is not a prison … it doesn’t have penitential system like a state, but someone must keep watch over those removed from ministry.”And this implies “a very heavy duty for the Church, because who is the one that supervises? Who is responsible for him? It’s not so easy, it implies a lot of obligations.”Fr. Astigueta also noted that there’s a different canonical process for lay founders such as Figari, versus priests who abuse.“Technically speaking, the case of a layman doesn’t enter into the canon on abuses like the priests,” he said.Clerics who commit sexual abuse are charged under a canon (c. 1395 §2) which criminalizes those offenses against the sixth commandment which are committed by force or threats or publicly or with a minor below the age of 16.But when it comes to the laity specifically, “this lack in the code must be thought of,” because unfortunately “the times are those in which we can’t only think about priest founders, but of many laity who have a position in the Church … who can abuse minors,” such as school directors or professors.In these cases, he said, the Church applies a canon (c. 1399) which covers the situation in which the criminal “goes against a divine or ecclesiastical law with harm or danger of grave scandal.”Cases in which the victims are mentally disabled must also be taken into consideration, he said, as well as many other forms of abuse “that should be considered crimes,” and are in many states.The role of the bishop in cases of abuseWhen it comes to the responsibility of bishops in abuse cases, Fr. Astigueta said that while expectations might have been murky in the past, they are clear now, and require the bishop to act immediately.“When the bishop is informed, when he receives the news that an abuse has been committed, he has the obligation, a serious obligation, to intervene.”A bishop must first intervene on a judicial level, alerting civil authorities, but also on the pastoral level, he said, explaining that the process looks different for every nation.On a pastoral level, bishops must from the start turn their immediate attention to the victims “in order to welcome them and to help them understand that we are not against them and we are looking for the truth,” he said.After the initial investigation has begun, the bishop may, but is not obliged to, apply a “precautionary measure,” which is a type of disciplinary measure enforced in order to avoid “the process from being polluted.”Giving a theoretical example, Fr. Astigueta said a priest might try to pressure a victim into retracting their statement, so the bishop could decide to “distance” the priest from the process. This choice might also be made in situations where there is risk of a serious scandal, he said.Once a priest is found guilty, the bishop will have to carry out the sentence, and it may even be the bishop himself to enforce the decree of dismissal from the clerical state with the authority of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Fr. Astigueta explained.Victims must be helped to live a “process of reconciliation, of accompaniment” and one in which they are made to feel that “they are part of the Church,” he said, but stressed that this is at a pastoral level, which must always remain separate from the judicial level.Fr. Astigueta also spoke on cases of negligence on the part of a bishop, which Pope Francis in his 2016 motu proprio Come una madre amorevole established as grounds for removal from office.The canon behind the rule (c. 1389 §2), the priest said, states that “A person who through culpable negligence illegitimately places or omits an act of ecclesiastical power, ministry, or function with harm to another is to be punished with a just penalty.”The issue is also dealt with in a canon (c. 193 §1) which speaks of removal from office “for grave causes.” Removal from office, he explained, is “the act through which a person loses a series of rights which are part of an office.”“So this person who was the bishop had rights and duties regarding the community. As he has not fulfilled them, this office is removed,” Fr. Astigueta said.Removal in this sense can either be for disciplinary or penal reasons, Fr. Astigueta said, explaining that in the case of penal removal for negligence, the bishop is dismissed because “he didn’t act as he should have.”While in the past bishops moved abusive priests around in part because they didn’t understand the severity of the problem, “today no one can say that they don’t know what abuse is and the magnitude of the problem.”In cases of abuse, then, “it’s already so severe that there is no need for another cause, negligence is enough.” Part of this negligence, Fr. Astigueta explained, could be moving priests, not acting immediately, or letting time pass until more accusations arise: “Here we would have a case of negligence.”Another instance, he said, would be failing to take precautionary measures against a priest accused of abuse, and it is later discovered that the priest had committed other abuses during that time. Other reasons for removal of office due to negligence could be that the bishop didn’t follow the protocol requested by the state.He noted that there are a variety of situations, but “the Pope wanted to say that this negligence in itself so important because the damage to the other produced due to negligence, which is almost – even if it can’t be said in a clear way – an act of complicity due to negligence.”Stronger punishment isn’t always the best way to prevent abuseNo matter the situation of the priest or the bishop, Fr. Astigueta stressed the importance of pursuing the just punishment given the particular situation, and warned against the temptation to immediately impose the maximum punishment – dismissal from the clerical state – on all cases.To do so, he said, “would be an injustice, it would be a type of witch hunt, and this produces fugitives. If everyone is punished with the maximum, with this you resolve nothing.”It’s a fact, he said, that all states which have attempted to toughen the penalties in order to prevent further crimes “have failed to do so.”The only thing that actually makes the crimes diminish, he said, are preventative measures and “the consciousness of the people, the intervention of the people,” specifically through education.“If the people within the Church were all to work so that there were a healthy environment, not one of suspicion, but healthy and prudent,” these delinquent act would diminish. “Not because the maximum penalty is applied.”
Mar 19 17 5:19 AM
No more Godfathers in land of Corleone, Italian bishop decreesIn the Sicilian archdiocese of Monreale, where the village of Corleone made famous in 'The Godfather' is located, Archbishop Michele Pennisi has decreed that mob bosses may no longer serve as godfathers in baptisms or sponsors for confirmations.ROME - If a Catholic bishop in Sicily has his way, there will be no more Godfathers in the land of the infamous fictional Corleone clan. A decree from the Diocese of Monreale, where the actual town of Corleone is located, bars mob bosses from serving either as godfathers for baptisms or sponsors for confirmations.“We have to be clear,” said Archbishop Michele Pennisi. “A Christian godfather should be a guarantee of raising a child in the faith. How can he be that, if he lives in opposition to the Gospel, in violence and total obedience to the god of money?”Pennisi was acting after a scandal that broke out last December, in which the son of notorious Sicilian mob boss Salvatore “Totò” Riina was given permission to serve as the godfather at his nephew’s baptism in the northern Italian diocese of Padua after receiving the sacrament of confirmation himself only one week before.While Pennisi’s decree would not have prevented that from happening, as it applies only to his own archdiocese, the 70-year-old prelate is clearly hoping to set a tone up and down the entire Italian peninsula.“The north must also reflect,” he said in comments Friday to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, “given that the mafia, indeed the mafias, aren’t just a Sicilian phenomenon but an Italian and even European mentality.”Pennisi, known for his strong anti-mafia stances, argued that allowing mob figures to participate in these Catholic sacraments gives them a sort of religious legitimacy they don’t deserve.“You can’t ignore the fact that serving as a baptismal godfather or a confirmation sponsor allows them to reacquire a religious consensus and honorability that a mafia leader doesn’t merit,” he said. “We must always be vigilant, and not just in a diocese like mine that historically is the cradle of the mafia, with Corleone, Cinisi, [and] San Giuseppe Jato,” referring to small towns long notorious as mafia strongholds.Corleone, of course, became famous when novelist Mario Puzo used its name for the fictional mafia family depicted in his 1969 book, The Godfather.Pennisi said that his strong line against mob bosses has drawn some blowback, at times even from with the local church.“Even in the church there are those who think we have to be softer with the mafia, in order not to disturb the social equilibrium,” he said. Back in December when he objected to Riina’s son serving as a godfather, Pennisi said, he read lots of comments on social media along the lines of, “Why doesn’t the bishop mind his own business?”He said he obtained the unanimous approval of the priests’ council of Monreale before issuing his new decree, but conceded that even if he hadn’t, “I would have gone ahead with my own convictions.”Pennisi said he’s open to the idea that a mob boss might have a change of heart, but insisted that conversion must be for real.“Conversion isn’t just about feeling bad, and still less about saving face,” he said. “I always insist on consistency between faith and life: Faith can’t be reduced to a parade of processions, but it’s about cult, culture and charity.”Each of the three most recent popes have encouraged anti-mafia activism by the Italian bishops and clergy, especially in Sicily where the mafia’s imprint has long been felt most strongly.In July 2014, Pope Francis traveled to Calabria in southern Italy, to a town where members of a local Mafia group known as the ’Ndrangheta had murdered a three-year-old boy together with his grandfather and burned their bodies, in a case tied up with suspected drug trafficking, and declared mafiosi “excommunicated.”“The ’Ndrangheta is this: the adoration of evil and contempt of the common good,” Francis said that day.Pope Benedict XVI not only condemned mafia activity, but he also recognized Father Giuseppe “Pino” Puglisi, Italy’s most celebrated anti-mafia priest, as a martyr for having been gunned down in the Brancaccio section of Palermo in 1993 by mafia hitmen. Francis then authorized Puglisi’s beatification in May 2013.Pennisi said Friday that he and Puglisi were close, and said that Puglisi agreed with him that the sacraments of baptism and confirmation should be about offering a “Christian witness.”
Mar 19 17 5:24 AM
A Protestant editor for the pope's paperThis week, the Holy See daily newspaper, "L'Osservatore Romano", will launch a new Argentine edition edited by Marcelo Figueroa, a Protestant who is an old friend of Pope Francis.A Protestant at the head of L’Osservatore Romano? Until very recently, the idea would have seemed absurd. However, it has now become a reality under Pope Francis, who has just given the job of editing the Argentine edition of the Holy See daily to a 60-year-old Presbyterian.“It is a little bit revolutionary… but he is a revolutionary pope!” Figueroa says with a smile. After four special editions, he is preparing to launch the first edition of L’Osservatore Romano designed for Argentina and Latin America.Figueroa, who was previously director of the Argentinian Bible Society, first met then-Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio as part of an ecumenical project on the Bible at the beginning of the 2000s.“He was already a cardinal and I was a simple lay person,” Figueroa recalls. “From the beginning, it was a respectful relationship and over time it became an increasingly fraternal one,” he added.In 2010, Cardinal Bergoglio even invited Figueroa to come and work at the archdiocese, where he made him responsible for directing a broadcast on the diocesan television channel of the future pope discussing the Bible with Rabbi Abraham Skorka.Moreover, it is this desire for dialogue that lies behind the Argentine edition of L’Osservatore Romano. In addition to articles taken from the Spanish edition, which is edited by his compatriot Silvina Pérez, it will have its own content. This will include articles from people such as Rabbi Skorka, Archbishop Victor Fernandez, one of the pope’s ghost writers, the theologian Carlos Galli, as well as a Muslim theologian and a female rabbi.“Argentina is a multicultural nation where dialogue is a normal thing,” explains Figueroa, who sees this issue as one of the keys to understanding the future of the present pontificate.“To fully understand Francis, it is important to be aware of his Argentine and Latin American personality,” he emphasizes.The aim of the Argentine edition will also be to make the pope’s discourse more widely known in his native country, where it is often deformed and interpreted in the light of national politics.“The pope didn’t give us any instructions,” the new editor insists.“Everything is under my responsibility and that of the director of L’Osservatore Romano, Giovanni Maria Vian, which is also a source of security for me,” he says.Coming at a time when the Vatican has engaged in drastic budget cuts, particularly in the field of communications, this new Argentine edition is no papal indulgence. It is, in fact, self-financed by advertising income.
Mar 20 17 7:23 AM
Are US Catholics too American to stand up to Trump?The huge differences between Catholic, European and US constitutionalism.There is an expectation that an important part of the resistance to US President Donald Trump will come from the Catholic Church.Pope Francis is doing his part in the midst of an international situation full of unknowns. But the role of American Catholics is more complicated. That is not only because the Church in the country is greatly polarized, but also because the Trump administration is casting a light on how complex the relationship is between being American and being a Catholic in the United States.Already in itself, there is a clear rift within the new administration. The first two months of Mr. Trump’s presidency have offered contradictory signals about the political philosophy of this administration. There is a populist, deficit spending and big government message that got Trump elected. And then there is a balance-the-budget-at-all-costs, small-government and socially ruthless message, evident in the plans to repeal and change the health care system created by the Obama administration.But there is a common thread linking these two souls of the Trump-GOP administration, and it was made clear by the appearance of the president’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon, at the Conservative Political Action Conference convention a few weeks ago. Bannon identified “the deconstruction of the administrative state” as one of the main goals of the Trump administration. There are experts on American conservative culture who can explore what Bannon really meant by this. But his language reminded me of the radical criticism of the liberally construed nation-state by Alasdair MacIntyre, William Cavanaugh, Stanley Hauerwas and other thinkers who influenced the social and political culture of American Catholicism during these last couple of decades.“The modern nation-state, in whatever guise, is a dangerous and unmanageable institution, presenting itself on the one hand as a bureaucratic supplier of goods and services, which is always about to, but never actually does, give its clients value for money," McIntyre said in 1995."And on the other [hand] as a repository of sacred values, which from time to time invites one to lay down one’s life on its behalf. As I have remarked elsewhere, it is like being asked to die for the telephone company,” he declared.Let me be clear. I am not equating Bannon and Trump with important thinkers like MacIntyre, Cavanaugh, and Hauerwas.On economic nationalism and sovereignty, for example, there is simply no overlap. In fact, it’s intriguing how an American Catholic like Steve Bannon can so deeply detest an originally Catholic project like the European Union. This is not just Bannon’s problem or a condition of conservative American Catholics. It is a genuine intellectual issue that concerns the relationship such Catholics have with their country when it comes to notions about the doctrine of the state.For instance, there is a strain of radical criticism of the idea of the nation-state. This is more American Catholic than Roman Catholic. The magisterium of the Catholic Church may not specifically endorse the liberal nation-state, but it does not condemn it either.Since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) official Church teaching has actually expressed clear acceptance of the nation-state as the fundamental (at least for the time being) structure for the development of a political dimension of human life directed towards the promotion of the common good.The conciliar declaration on religious liberty Dignitatis humanae (nos. 8,11) and the constitution on the Church in the world Gaudium et spes (nos. 65, 70–71, 73–75, 78) speak of a “legitimate public authority”; that is, the state. But they also emphasize the value of the individual and of social groups.In the aftermath World War II and in the middle of the process of decolonization, the nation-state was at the center of the political view of the Church fathers, and there it has remained. Though aware of the current crisis of the nation-state, the Church also understands that there is not yet a viable substitute.Pope Francis has not proposed getting rid of the nation-state, but has instead suggested a renewed version of 20th-century Catholic internationalism where the Holy See and the local Churches play an active role in bringing about peace and reconciliation. The pope made this clear in his speech to the diplomatic corps last January.This is but one facet of the “transatlantic God gap” between Europe and the United States, the major difference being that Catholics on the Old Continent tend to be less afraid of the state.Consider the rebuilding of European nation-states after World War II. Catholics played a crucial role in this effort, especially in Germany, France, and Italy. Catholic thought was foundational guiding the implementation of new governing philosophies, pointing out the threats of both communism and an unbridled free-market economy. This tells us something about the Catholic foundations of what would become the European Union, as well as about the sense of “ownership” European Catholics had for their new nation-states and constitutions. And it helps explains the difference between American Catholicism and European Catholicism in terms of how the nation-state is regarded.Consider, for example, the Italian constitution. On issues such as internationalism, war and peace, workers’ unions, and especially private property, it is much closer to post-World War II Catholic social teaching than it is to the American Constitution. Article 42 of the Italian Constitution talks about private property only and always in terms of its compatibility with the “social function” of property.American Catholics don’t have the same sense of ownership of their constitution, or of the United States. The American Constitution has many fathers, but Catholicism was not there at the moment of its conception. American Catholics did not contribute to the constitution in the same way or to the extent that German, French or Italian Catholics did in the creation of their post-war constitutions.Of course, the US Constitution helped Catholic immigrants become full citizens, but there is no American Catholic father (or mother) of constitutionalism like those who helped give birth to European constitutionalism in the 1940s and ’50s. The Catholic Supreme Court justices of the last few decades don’t count. They became part of the history of the interpretation of the Constitution much later than the foundational moment for the United States.This is relevant not only in order to understand the fascination some Catholics have for the “deconstructionist project” Trump and Bannon want to implement, but it also helps understand the gap that divides Catholics in America from those in other parts of the world concerning views on several fundamental issues.For example, the blindness of the US bishops to the full meaning of “religious liberty” – which apparently they can frame only in terms of “freedom of the Church” – is not just indicative of the political culture of men appointed by John Paul II and Benedict XVI. It also reveals a much more complex issue – the deep-seated fear of the state within American Catholicism and of the gap between US Catholicism and the global Catholic Church’s view on the state and of political authority.This creates a complicated situation for the Catholic Church in the United States and its role to be one of the voices that questions the trajectories of the nation under Donald Trump.
© 2017 Yuku. All rights reserved.