Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Catholic church knew of abuse for decades

Dutch News
November 29, 2011

The Catholic church was aware of child abuse at orphanages and other institutions throughout the Netherlands as early as 1954, according to documents found by researchers in church archives.

Senior church officials have consistently claimed they were not aware of the abuse.

However, television current affairs show Altijd Wat reported on Monday night the church's council for child protection issued warnings about child abuse in church-run homes and boarding schools in 1959 and 1962.


The warnings were sent to the authorities at 112 homes and residential schools.

The letters urged institution managers to be aware of the dangers of employing people who are 'unsuitable' to give leadership to children.

The 1959 circular, for example, says the child protection group was aware of a number of cases, 'with sad and serious outcomes'.


RTL news has discovered a warning made by a senior cleric in Tilburg in 1954 in which monks in Tilburg were told: 'be careful in how you relate to children and do not make your lives unhappy. Keep your hands to yourself.'

The documents shed new light on the church's claim not to have known about the widespread abuse of children living in church institutions.

Lawyer Martin de Witte, who is representing a number of victims, said the letters showed the church could no longer say it was not aware of the abuse and claim that the cases are now too old.


'They knew exactly what was going on but decided to to nothing about it,' De Witte told the Volkskrant.

It is almost two years since the scandal broke in the Netherlands with revelations that three Catholic clerics from the Don Rua cloisters in 's Heerenberg, Gelderland, had abused at least three children in the 1960s and 1970s.

Since then, a government commission has received reports of almost 2,000 cases of abuse within religious institutions. A number of cases will be taken to court

Monday, November 28, 2011

Judge finds Cardinal Bevilacqua competent to testify

November 28, 2011

The judge hearing private testimony today from Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua about the alleged sexual abuse of children by clergy in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has ruled that the retired cardinal was legally competent to be offering his testimony.

Cardinal Bevilacqua was questioned for several hours in the case, in private but on videotape, at his residence at St. Charles Borromeo seminary in Wynnewood, Pa. His testimony was scheduled to resume tomorrow.

Because of a gag order in the case, court officials said today that they could not disclose the substance of the cardinal’s testimony.

Four of the defendants, three priests and a lay teacher, allegedly sexually assaulted young boys. The final defendant, Monsignor William Lynn, allegedly endangered children by transferring predator priests to other assignments while not blocking their access to children .

All of the defendants have pleaded not guilty

Full story at CBS

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Re: Pope Benedict’s address to US Bishops on Ad Limina Visit to Rome

Kristine Ward
National Survivor Advocates Coalition
Nov. 27, 2011

It takes hubris for Pope Benedict to tell his bishops that the Catholic Church has led in the fight against sexual abuse of children.

Issuing self satisfied pats on the back while children remain in danger, only further diminishes the Church’s credibility and deepens the laryngitis in its moral voice.

For the Pope to insinuate the Church is a leader and reformer in the movement to protect children from sexual abuse is counterfeit. We hope Catholics out of a false sense of respect and loyalty don’t buy this.

We feel for the Catholics who must be embarrassed by this papal approach and ask them to speak with their wallets and redirect their contributions until the Pope’s words and Catholic Church’s actions match up for the protection of children.

The Church to this day, while waving a moral flag, hasn’t even come close to the Penn State Board of Trustees response: no bishop has been fired.

We would like to see an investigation of bishops by a former FBI director or some one of the same rank and caliber as the one initiated by Penn State. Then we might be getting somewhere with the Church.

It is possible that if Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict had been morally outraged and acted accordingly when the Boston incarnation of the scandal broke children who became post 2002 victims of Jerry Sandusky and other perpetrators might have been saved.

But when massive news coverage outed both perpetrators and cover-up bishops we got a whitewash from the Church of how moving priests from parish to parish, and getting and following bad advice from psychiatrists was a good formula that only needed the tweaked with the addition of a fingerprinting program.

Again, today, the Pope comes up short.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Germany's Catholic church gives up 'erotic' publisher

Dagmar Breitenbach
Deutsche Welle
November 22, 2011

Weltbild publishing group is co-owned by 12 German dioceses which have now agreed to sell their share in the profitable enterprise as soon as possible. They decided on the move because Weltbild's book range includes steamy pulp novels with titles like "Boarding School for Sluts" and "The Lawyer's Whore" as well as books on esoteric practices.

Cologne Cardinal Joachim Meissner said there was no alternative to selling the publishing group.

"We can't make money all week long with something we condemn from the pulpit on Sunday," he said.

Pope Benedict XIV had also urged Catholics to "oppose the distribution of erotic and pornographic material."

Germany's bishops met this week and pressed the 12 bishops whose dioceses co-own Weltbild, based in the southern city of Augsburg, to end the investment after the company had defended its policy of publishing whatever books meet market demand.

With annual sales of 1.6 billion euros (2.1 billion dollars) and a workforce of 6,400, Weltbild is a major company that publishes books and operates book clubs and a national bookshop chain. Weltbild has denied that it lists "pornographic" literature, saying that the term is clearly defined. It said its erotic literature accounted for just 0.017 percent of its revenue, but church leaders fear a tarnished reputation.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Boston's Cardinal Law, who was disgraced after sex abuse scandal, resigns from Rome job

Nicole Winfield,
The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY - Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned in disgrace as Boston's archbishop in 2002 after the priest sex abuse scandal exploded in the United States, has retired from his subsequent job as head of a major Roman basilica.

The Vatican said Monday that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted the 80-year-old Law's resignation as archpriest of St. Mary Major basilica and had named Spanish Monsignor Santos Abril y Castello to replace him.

Law's 2004 appointment as the archpriest of one of Rome's most important basilicas had been harshly criticized by victims of priestly sex abuse, who charged that bishops who covered up for pedophile priests should be punished, not rewarded.

Law turned 80 earlier this month. While the pope could have kept him on longer — the dean of the College of Cardinals will be 84 this week, for example — Benedict decided to replace him.

The Vatican announcement made no mention of Law's resignation, though, merely noting in a perfunctory, two-line statement that Benedict had named a new archpriest for the basilica.

Law became the first and so far only U.S. bishop to resign for mishandling cases of priests who sexually abused children.

The abuse crisis erupted in Law's Boston in 2002 after church records were made public showing that church officials had reports of priests molesting children, but kept the complaints secret and shuffled some priests from parish to parish rather than remove them or report them to police.

The crisis spread as similar sexual abuse complaints were uncovered in dioceses across the country. To date, U.S. dioceses have paid out nearly $3 billion in settlements to victims and other costs.

Law himself was named in hundreds of lawsuits accusing him of failing to protect children from known child molesters. After 18 years leading the nation's fourth-largest archdiocese, Law resigned in 2002, having asked Pope John Paul II twice before receiving permission to step down.

Ten months after he left office, Law's successor, now-Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley helped broker an $85 million settlement with more than 550 victims of pedophile priests.

Law remains a member of a half-dozen important Vatican congregations, including the office that helps the pope select bishops. Such appointments are for renewable five-year terms and it's not clear when each one expires or whether he'll seek to stay on.

While in Rome, Law has been a frequent presence at all major Vatican ceremonial and diplomatic events, a lifestyle that galled many abuse victims who have long insisted that the Vatican crack down on bishops who transfer abusive priests rather than report them to police.

Law's successor at St. Mary Major — one of the four basilicas under the direct jurisdiction of the Vatican — retired earlier this year as the Vatican's ambassador to Slovenia and Macedonia.

Abril y Castello, 76, is also the No. 2 prelate who helps take care of matters dealing with a papal death and runs the Vatican until a new pontiff is elected in a conclave.

Now that he is 80, Law can no longer vote in a conclave, but he remains a cardinal.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Catholic reform movement issues call for "holy disobedience"

 Sarah Mac Donald
Catholic Ireland
Nov. 19, 2011

On Friday, the Irish branch of the international Catholic reform movement, We Are Church, launched a grassroots campaign for Church reform with a ‘Call for Holy Disobedience’.

At a press conference in Dublin, We Are Church Ireland (WACI) spokesman, Brendan Butler, said the group’s five reform aims include the removal of compulsory clerical celibacy; full participation of women in all aspects of church life, including priesthood; and the building of a more inclusive Church that would welcome gay Catholics and those in second relationships.

Calling on all committed Catholics to join the group in exercising ‘holy disobedience’, Brendan Butler said, “We will not be cowed down by threats of excommunication.”  Phil Cullen told ciNews that the members are “not dissidents and will not be pushed out of the Church.”

WACI will hold its first public event, an Advent Assembly, on Sunday November 27.  The “inclusive liturgy” will, according to Butler, “be an expression of the five aims, in the same way as the Austrian priests will use every occasion to promote their disobedience.” 

However, he underlined that it would not be a Eucharist.

It coincides with the official introduction of the new translation of the missal, a move WACI described as a, “forced imposition,” and, “another example of how the Vatican operates as an ivory towered centralised authority.”

Describing the Church in Ireland as, “in a state of crisis,” Brendan Butler said Irish Catholics are appalled at the recent clerical sex abuse scandals and especially by the cover-ups by bishops and senior clergy.  “We despair of any meaningful reform coming from the hierarchy in Ireland or the Vatican,” he continued and added that it was time for lay Catholics to organise themselves and demand the necessary structural changes to save the Church “from a slow death.”

Bishops and theologians, he claimed, are operating in a culture of, “endemic paralytic fear,” and, “absolute obedience to the Pope and even papal opinions.” 

“This absolute obedience is not to God but to the preservation of an institution.”


Referring to retired bishop of Derry’s Dr Edward Daly’s call for an end to compulsory clerical celibacy in his autobiography, Brendan Butler said, “There are obviously a lot of people in the church, ordained and not ordained, who back this but are so afraid to say it.”

“It is a justifiable fear because look at what happened to the Bishop of Toowoomba and one theologian here whom I can’t name – he has been silenced in a most terrible way.  Sisters and priests have lacked a support structure up to now.  If anything happens to any of our sisters who are members of our group, we will certainly take a very active protest on that,” he warned.

WACI is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church on the basis of the Second Vatican Council.  Members are seeking to bring about informed dialogue among the people of God on their five objectives:
  1. Equality of all the baptised where decision making is actively shared by all, with appropriate structures for this;
  2. Full participation of women in all aspects of church life, including priesthood;
  3. Recognition of the primacy of an informed conscience;
  4. Removal of the obligation of clerical celibacy and a positive attitude towards sexuality;
  5. An inclusive Church, open and welcoming to all, which does not marginalise people who are divorced, in second relationships or gay.

Full article at Catholic Ireland

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Nun Comments on Archbishop Dolan’s Remarks

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is wrong when he comments that the present Penn State scandal “over a former football coach accused of sexually abusing young boys ‘reopens a wound’ for the U.S. Roman Catholic Church.”

The “wound” Archbishop Dolan refers to has never closed. It is a “wound” that has continued to fester since the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts imploded in 2002.


Well for one thing the bishops of the United States have never really admitted, individually or collectively, to their part in covering up for clergymen known to be sexual predators of children and young people.

Yes, the leadership of the Roman Catholic Church has “a long way to go,” in making up for the egregious crimes that have been committed against children. “Failures” and “mistakes” are words that hardly begin to describe the agony thousands of children were left to go through while the few adults who dared to confront pastors or bishops over the behavior of rogue priests were bullied, harassed and intimidated into silence, often with threats of eternal damnation.

They were crimes and they were crimes against the very humanity of these innocent children.

Archbishop Dolan, you offered to work with “Penn State administrators on a national education campaign to stop abuse.”

Does your offer extend to working with advocacy groups in Pennsylvania whose goal is legislative reform? If it does there are several groups that were formed in response to the 2011 grand jury investigation on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who are now working for reform in Pennsylvania.

Sadly though, at this very moment, Philadelphia’s Archbishop Charles Chaput, along with the bishops of Pennsylvania and the PA Catholic Conference are united in vicious opposition to any proposed legislation that would better protect children.

How do you explain that?

No, Archbishop Dolan, I’m afraid that neither you nor most of your fellow bishops has a clue as to the suffering that the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church’s has caused and continues to inflict because it has never been truly accountable or transparent.

No one in the Catholic community has suffered more than the innocent children whose minds, hearts and souls were torn asunder by those who stood in the place of Our Lord Jesus Christ.

Baltimore’s former archbishop, Cardinal William Keeler correctly described such horrific sexual abuse by a trusted minister of God when he used the term “soul murder” for it truly is that.

Archbishop Timothy Dolan should be at the head of the parade in supporting the removal of all criminal and civil statutes of limitation in regard to the sexual abuse of children.

Anything less should be morally repugnant to all not just to all.

Austria's dissident Catholics urged to "maintain church unity"

Nov 17, 2011
Jonathan Luxmoore

November 17 (ENInews)--Austria's Roman Catholic bishops have rejected a call by dissident church members for laypeople to begin presiding at Mass when parishes have no priests, but the bishops also pledged to maintain a dialogue over possible changes in church life.

In their 10 November declaration, the bishops rejected a 5 November call by Austria's We Are Church movement for laypeople to preside at Mass and celebrate the Eucharist. The bishops were also reacting to a July "Call to Disobedience" signed by 250 of Austria's 4,200 Roman Catholic priests, urging the ordination of women priests and distribution of Communion to non-Catholics and remarried divorcees.

The bishops said Austria's dioceses were "taking opportunities to innovate" in response to "real and serious problems," and were confident they would "find answers to the questions asked today." However they added that the summons to disobedience had "triggered alarm and sadness," and "left many Catholics shaking their heads."

"Some demands allied with this call for disobedience are simply unsustainable -- the call for a Eucharist without the Blessed Sacrament openly breaches the central truth of our Catholic faith," the bishops' conference said.

Josef Pumberger, news editor of a Vienna-based Catholic news service and a prominent lay expert, said some reforms are necessary and laypeople need to be involved. But the bishops are drawing a line, he said in an interview with ENInews on 17 November. "Certain things are against Catholic theology and church law and won be accepted by the church here -- such as celebration of the Eucharist by laity," he said.

The bishops also urged dissident priests and lay Catholics to "show goodwill and a sense of compromise" and avoid demands which "contradict the church's identity and put its unity seriously at risk."

Hans Peter Hurka, We Are Church's chairman, told ENInews that Austria's bishops had pledged to hold a dialogue with Catholic clergy, but had rejected calls for a discussion of New Testament guidelines.

He added that 505,000 Austrians had signed the movement's founding petition in 1995, adding that recent opinion surveys suggested 80 percent now backed its demands.

"All of this is seen as irrelevant by the bishops -- they don't seem to realize the train has already left and they're still standing on the platform," the lay Catholic said. "The situation is now beyond church control and the dangers of a schism are very real."

Formed in 1995, We Are Church is linked to similar groups in other countries, including Germany, Ireland and the United States, and calls on its website for a "fraternal church" and "full equality of women," as well as a "free choice of celibate or non-celibate lifestyle" and "positive evaluation of sexuality." Four-fifths of Austria's 8.1 million inhabitants identify as Roman Catholic.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Kansas city priest, bishop sued in child porn case

November 16, 2011
KANSAS CITY, Mo (Reuters) - A priest accused of producing child pornography was welcomed into a young victim's home and included in numerous children's activities because a bishop kept evidence related to the priest a secret, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday.
The suit is one in a string of lawsuits and legal actions against Father Shawn Ratigan and Bishop Robert Finn, the leader of the 134,000-member Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, alleging that Ratigan took advantage of his position as a priest to create pornographic photos of children in his parish.
The suits allege the bishop knew about the photos, and had received numerous warnings about Ratigan's behavior, but hid the information from police and families in the Diocese.
In the lawsuit filed Wednesday in Clay County Circuit Court, parents allege they befriended Ratigan in early 2011 after he was sent by Finn to live in a convent in Independence, Missouri, and ordered to stay away from children.
Because families within the Catholic community there had not been warned about Ratigan, they invited him into their home and to parties and other activities where children were present, the lawsuit alleges.
The suit states Ratigan used a cell phone to take pictures surreptitiously while in the plaintiff's home for dinner.
And the suit alleges that during the course of an Easter egg hunt on Easter Sunday of this year, Ratigan took sexually explicit photographs of one of the children present.
Ratigan was arrested May 16 after one of Finn's subordinates called police.
Ratigan and Finn face criminal charges as well. Ratigan has been charged with multiple counts of child pornography in federal court and in Clay and Jackson counties in Kansas City. The 46-year-old priest is in jail awaiting trial next summer.
Finn was indicted by a grand jury in Jackson County last month on a misdemeanor charge of failing to report Ratigan to police. He has pleaded not guilty.
As well, Finn reached a diversion agreement Tuesday with Clay County prosecutors allowing him to escape criminal charges as long as he complies with stipulations set by prosecutors, including regular monitoring.
Finn is the highest-ranking Catholic official ever to face criminal charges in the United States in a child sexual abuse case.
Revelations that Ratigan was taking inappropriate pictures of young girls emerged last December after a church computer technician found photos on the priest's computer that became the basis for the pornography charges.
One photo showed a young girl on a bed with her panties pulled aside, exposing her genitals.
The allegations against the bishop are tied to evidence that even after Finn was made aware of the photos found on Ratigan's laptop, he did not report it to police or to the parents and children who interacted with Ratigan.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To avoid indictment, bishop agrees to county oversight

Joshua J. McElwee
November 15, 2011
National Catholic Reporter

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Bishop Robert W. Finn escaped a second criminal indictment for failing to report suspected child abuse by agreeing to give a county prosecutor near-total oversight of the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese’s handling of sex abuse cases for the next five years.

Finn's agreement with Clay County, Mo., announced today, also requires him to report monthly to the prosecutor to "apprise [the prosecutor] of any and all reported suspicions or alleged abuse activities involving minors" in the diocese's facilities in the county.

Finn and the diocese were separately indicted last month in Jackson County, Mo., for failing to report suspected child abuse in the case of Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a diocesan priest facing child pornography charges.

Today's agreement also waives the normal statute of limitations in the Ratigan case, allowing Clay County the option to press charges against Finn anytime in the next five years should the bishop fail to comply with the agreement's terms, according to a release this morning from Clay County prosecutor Daniel White.

Finn confirmed the agreement in a separate release, saying it "provides a structure for [the diocese] to maintain an open dialogue about any and all issues of abuse of minors."

As part of the agreement, Finn has also agreed to visit all of the parishes in Clay County with a yet to be hired diocesan director of child and youth protection and the diocesan ombudsman to outline the diocese's procedures for reporting suspected child abuse.

The new director of child and youth protection, Finn said in his release, will be designated "very soon" and will "coordinate the work" of the ombudsman, the diocesan victims' advocate, and the diocesan safe environment coordinator.

While the agreement between Finn and Clay County isn’t the first of its kind, it is rare. It is unique in that the diocese is obligated to notify the prosecutor's office of every report of potential abuse of a minor in the county.

White said in his release that Clay County's oversight of the diocese's reporting procedures ensures "there will be no layer of bureaucracy between a reporting party and the person making the investigation decisions."

“I believe this direct, independent and outside oversight coupled with the fact that we have the ability to file a misdemeanor charge in the next five years gives assurances to parents that the Diocese is serious about addressing this issue and continuing to enhance children protection efforts in Clay County,” said White.

Finn's agreement with Clay County, formally known as a "diversion compliance agreement," last from Nov. 15, 2011, to Nov. 15, 2016. The formal notice, which was obtained by NCR, bears the signatures of Finn, White, and Gerald Handley and James Hobbs, the bishop's attorneys.

White also announced today in a separate release that Ratigan had been indicted by a Clay County grand jury on three counts of possession of child pornography. The indictment supersedes a state criminal complaint that charged Ratigan on May 19. Each of the three counts is a felony punishable by up to seven years in prison.

Ratigan, 45, was also indicted in June by a federal grand jury and is in federal custody.

Ratigan, a diocesan priest, was arrested on charges of child pornography in May. The parish he was serving is in Clay County. The diocesan headquarters are in Jackson County.

While images of naked children on Ratigan's laptop were reported to and seen by the diocese last December, it did not report the incident to authorities, instead removing Ratigan from his parish, which is located in Clay County.

The agreement between Finn and Clay County comes after media reports that both the bishop and his vicar general, Msgr. Robert Murphy, had given testimony before a grand jury in the county regarding their handling of the Ratigan case in September.

Murphy has been at the center of allegations the diocese did not sufficiently respond to allegations that Raitgan's behavior around children were worrisome.

A diocesan-sponsored study of its handling of the Ratigan case released in September found that "individuals in positions of authority reacted to events in ways that could have jeopardized the safety of children in diocesan parishes, school, and families."

Specifically cited in the 138-page report, conducted by former U.S. attorney Todd Graves, is a letter given to Murphy by Julie Hess, the principal of the elementary school attached to the parish where Ratigan served.

A year before Ratigan's arrest, Hess hand-delivered to Murphy a letter warning that parents and staff members there were concerned about "significant red flags" about Ratigan's behavior and were worried he "fit the profile of a child predator."

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests was quick to issue a negative reaction to news of the agreement between Finn and Clay County.

In their own press statement, the group wrote they were "disappointed" because "Finn has now done here what bishops have almost always done -- make any promises, payment or plea deal to avoid having to face tough questions in open court about their disgraceful and irresponsible deception."

"Catholics, citizens and children need and deserve the truth," writes Peter Isely, a member of the group's board of directors.

"The truth surfaces in court. That’s what bishops work overtime to avoid. And that’s what Finn has achieved here -- he’s taken the cheap, easy, convenient way out, avoiding real scrutiny and concealing damaging misdeeds."

Other cases of agreements between dioceses' and prosecutors include:

The Manchester, N.H., diocese's avoidance of criminal indictments in 2002 by agreeing to periodic audits by the state attorney general’s office. Those audits began in 2005 and were completed in 2009.
That agreement also provided for the publication of a report by the attorney general, as well as the release of nearly 10,000 pages of investigative files.

Former Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien of the Phoenix dioceses' escaping charges of obstruction of justice in 2003 by agreeing to hire an independent ombudsman to oversee sexual abuse allegations after a grand jury found that the bishop had allowed accused priests to continue work with children.
Among the provisions of that agreement, the diocese was required to put $300,000 in a victim compensation fund and pay $300,000 for counseling for abuse victims.

Bishop Daniel Walsh of the Santa Rosa, Calif., dioceses' enrollment in a counseling program in 2006 to avoid charges of failing to report abuse. In that case, Walsh was alleged to have failed to report a priest's abuse after the priest admitted the abuses to the bishop.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Penn State should coach Catholic church

Margery Eagan
Boston Herald
Nov. 13, 2011

Give Penn State this much. They fired the men at the top — the university president and legendary football coach Joe Paterno — within days of the arrest of a former coach charged with molesting numerous boys over 15 years.

More than 10 years after the biggest child sex crime cover-up in American history, no one at the top of the Catholic Church has paid a big price. The cardinals protect the pope. The pope protects the cardinals. Joe Paterno’s horrible sin of omission — failure to make sure police investigated Jerry Sandusky’s alleged assault of a 10-year-old boy — cannot compare with hundreds of sins of omission by former Cardinal Bernard Law. Then there are Law’s sins of commission: shipping known pedophiles off to unsuspecting parishes and even writing these priests letters of recommendation.

Law, however, just celebrated his 80th birthday in style in Rome where Catholics, whether they want to or not, have paid for his tenure at one of the city’s most grand basilicas. Since being forced from Boston in 2002 and arriving there in 2004, Law amassed considerable power on numerous Vatican committees, including ones that choose bishops.

Not one American bishop has been “fired” either, although at least 22 have been accused of multiple molestations. Yet nearly all of those still alive retain the title of bishop emeritus and are, again, supported by Catholics’ donations. The first and only indictment of a bishop occurred just last month in Kansas City.

“No one in the hierarchy paid a price and Law got a promotion,” sums up Anne Barrett Doyle who, with Terence McKiernan, operates BishopsAccountability.org, the most comprehensive compendium of church crimes. The contrast between Penn State’s quick firings and Pennsylvania prosecutors’ aggressive investigation — and what happened here — could not be starker.

Yet there are obvious similarities between the church and Penn State football as well.

Both are all-male, powerful, tradition-heavy hierarchies devoted to maintaining image. Both tried to handle their scandals internally rather than give police and prosecutors control. Both preach righteousness. Paterno spoke constantly about character. The football team’s motto: “success with honor.”

Both coaches and priests (though less so now) are revered, trusted and admired. Parent after parent in the church mess said they were thrilled, even flattered, when a priest took special interest in their child. Coaches mentor boys and help them make the right teams. Jerry Sandusky allegedly gave at least one victim clothes, cash, a computer and access not just at Penn State but also to the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Sandusky attack witnessed by assistant coach Mike McQueary happened in 2002, when the church scandal was huge news. Paterno, a practicing Catholic, must have known about it.

It makes you wonder if there’s something about sex crimes and children that powerful, male institutions just can’t handle. Instead of witnessing an alleged rape, had McQueary seen Sandusky beating up a young boy, would his and his bosses’ reactions been different?

I don’t know. But here’s my guess: yes.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Phoenix bishop reverses ruling on wine at communion

Michael Clancy - Nov. 12, 2011
The Arizona Republic

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of Phoenix has backed away from his ban on using consecrated wine for Communion at most Masses, a decision that was originally met with widespread outcry.

In an explanation of his decision in a letter to the priests of the diocese, Olmsted apologized for his own misunderstanding of church documents, including new guidelines and translations for the Catholic Mass, and for any confusion arising from his previous statement made at a priests' meeting in September.

Father Anthony Ruff, an expert on new translations for the Mass, who criticized the bishop's previous position as a "step backward," said he had never heard of a bishop "retracting so quickly."

"Anything I say could sound like gloating," Ruff said. "I think it's for local clergy and liturgical ministers to find the right way to express their goodwill and happiness with this."

Olmsted's decision comes just two months after he announced that Communion would no longer include wine, which Catholics consider the blood of Christ, on a regular basis. The decision received strong criticism within the diocese and nationwide.

Olmsted was not available for comment. But, in his letter, he said the diocese mishandled communication about the new rules.

He said stories in both secular and religious media "upset many of our people and left you, especially the priests in parishes and institutions, without all the tools needed to answer questions."

"I am sorry, too, that this mishandling has created tensions between some priests and parishes," he wrote.

Fran Clarida, a local Catholic who started a Facebook page called Keep the Cup at Mass, embraced the reversal.

"I am grateful that Bishop Olmsted took the time to review the facts regarding his decision and listened to the concerns and needs of his priests and parishioners," the Valley woman said. "The way he handled it in the beginning showed poor leadership and resulted in hurting some of his priests and parishioners. Church documents were misread or misinterpreted, and a decision was made without consultation or research. But I am happy with the bishop's final decision."

Read more at Arizona Republic

The elderly priest and the diocese - simple case of right and wrong?

In caelo et in terra
Mark de Vries
Nov. 12, 2011

I’ve seen the story of the elderly priest who has been ordered to cease living with his girlfriend or be removed from the priesthood pop up in several international media, and while I usually don’t comment on such private matters, this fact is a reason to do so.

The priest, Father Jan Peijnenburg (who is not the emeritus archivist of the diocese, who has the same name), is 81 years old and has been living with his female friend for the past 46 years. Both are pictured to the left. Newspapers make of this friend his girlfriend, which would seem likely, because Fr. Peijnenburg is also the author of several recent leaflets in which he agitates against priestly celibacy, leaflets which he mailed to numerous people, the diocese claims.
Fr. Peijnenburg seems fairly resigned. If it’s a choice between his living with a woman or the priesthood, the priesthood will loose, he has said.
I can understand both parties in this case. The diocese is right when they say they can’t allow one priest to do what other priests are forbidden to do, even more so when this priest publically agitates against Church law. On the other hand, Fr. Peijnenburg has been ordered to make a change in a life that he has led for 46 years. That’s half a lifetime in any reckoning. Has the diocese truly been aware only since the leaflets have been mailed round? If so, it points to a pretty weak awareness of what its priests are up to. If not, why wait almost five decades before doing something?
Personally, without knowing the details, I think it would suit the diocese to be a little less rigorous in this matter. They are essentially right, but they have left it until virtually the very last minute to do something. But, the same goes for Fr. Peijnenburg. I can’t imagine he didn’t know what the laws of celibacy for priests entail. And if he disagrees with them, he should have drawn conclusions from that opinion. He has no reason to act all defiant when the diocese finally figures out what’s going on.
The Diocese of ‘s Hertogenbosch seems to be cracking down hard on all sorts of errors and abuses, and it is about time it did. But since the diocese took a long time to do so, and thus allowed the errors and abuses to develop and continue (I’m also looking at San Salvator, for example), it would do well to get on a slightly smaller high horse and adopt a more pastoral attitude in dealing with these cases. But then again, the very same goes for the people who commit the errors and abuses…
Photo credit: Brabants Dagblad

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Ireland's diplomatic snub could make Vatican nightmares a reality

Massimo Franco
The Guardian (UK)
November 8, 2011

The closure of the Irish embassy to the Holy See in Rome is a major setback for the Vatican. The decision by Ireland's government brings to life a number of Vatican nightmares. First of all, it was made for "economic reasons", which means that keeping a diplomatic mission at the papal court is supposed to be expensive (implicitly, uselessly expensive). Worse, the costs just seem to be a pragmatic and neutral explanation to cover up a hot political struggle: the sex abuse scandals involving Irish Catholic priests.

But in a period of financial turmoil, economy might be a perfect reason, or excuse, for other governments to take similar steps. This has happened before. In 1867, the United States wanted to retaliate for Pius IX's alleged support to the Confederates, and the Union government simply cut off funds for the then Vatican legation (there wasn't yet an embassy). Here is the second nightmare: a potential "domino effect", underlining the failure of the Vatican in handling the sex abuse cases.

There is still a disconnect between western public opinion and Catholic episcopates on this thorny issue. The Holy See last year made Charles Scicluna a kind of "top prosecutor". Scicluna admitted at long last that paedophilia was a crime that required the church to collaborate with the civil judiciary. But Scicluna's assessment, although backed by the pope himself and aimed at the whole Catholic world, may have come too late.

The Irish action appears to confirm this suspicion. It exploded after a long and tough dispute between the Irish prime minister, Enda Kenny, and the Holy See. In Anglo-Saxon countries around the world and in northern Europe, the role of the Catholic church and its approach to individual rights has been harshly criticised. As a consequence, a third nightmare might come true: the shrinking of the international profile of the Vatican. If even a "Catholic" country, as Ireland is, can decide to forgo its diplomatic mission at the papal court, what about nations in which Catholics are a minority?

So far, economic concerns have been kept out of this discussion. Some governments have repeatedly but confidentially remarked that the costs of their embassies to the Holy See are hardly justified; and the tensions stemming from sex abuse scandals have kindled the fire. Nevertheless, Catholic lobbies and prestige have up to now prevented these states from taking drastic decisions. But the spread of the "Irish syndrome" could change this attitude.

What is viewed today as poor diplomatic management of a divisive issue both by Dublin and by Rome could create a historic rupture. Dublin was also moved by domestic political calculations. It wanted to give a signal that the country had changed even in its relations with the Catholic church, mirroring a broader anti-clerical mood. Ireland has announced the closure of its embassies in Iran and East Timor as well.

Some people also wonder whether the downgrading of these relations could be advantageous for Britain: the Holy See, in fact, always supported Ireland as a united state.

But the result is in any case a paradoxical one. "Catholic" Ireland could prove to be the pathfinder of a worrying development for the Vatican, whose diplomatic and moral weight is openly and badly challenged. If it doesn't move on rapidly, the echo of the scandals combined with the effects of the financial crisis could weaken its voice and international presence. And the closure of the Irish embassy could turn to be just a bitter appetiser: the first in a series.

Not only permitted, but encouraged and expected

November 7, 2011 

Dear Fathers, Deacons and Parish Liturgists, 

In light of recent statements by the bishops of the Dioceses of Phoenix and Madison regarding the limited use of Holy Communion under both kinds, I would like to take this opportunity to clarify our normative practice in our own local Church. 

In the Diocese of San Jose, Communion under both kinds is permitted whenever it may seem appropriate to the Priest to whom a community has been entrusted, provided that the conditions set in the General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 283, have been satisfied, namely: 

The faithful have been well instructed; 

There is no danger of profanation of the Sacrament; 


There is no danger of the rite becoming difficult because of the large number of participants or some other reason. 

Because I firmly believe that all of our parishes and worshipping communities have met the above conditions, I want to reiterate that in the Diocese of San Jose, Communion under both kinds is not only permitted but also encouraged and is expected to be the norm at every Sunday and feast day Mass. 

As I said in my June, 2003, letter establishing this as a norm for our diocese, I echo the Church's encouragement of the laity's sharing in the Precious Blood at Mass:?"Since, however, by reason of the sign value, sharing in both eucharistic species reflects more fully the sacred realities that the Liturgy signifies, the Church in her wisdom has made provisions in recent years so that more frequent eucharistic participation from both the sacred host and the chalice of salvation might be made possible for the laity in the Latin Church" (Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion Under Both Kinds in the Dioceses of the United States, 11). 

Furthermore, I firmly believe the Church's teaching that:"Holy Communion has a fuller form as a sign when it takes place under both kinds. For in this form the sign of the Eucharistic banquet is more clearly evident and clearer expression is given to the divine will by which the new and eternal Covenant is ratified in the Blood of the Lord, as also the connection between the Eucharistic banquet and the eschatological banquet in the Kingdom of the Father" (GIRM, 281). 

As we prepare to implement the new English translation of the Roman Missal and continue the work of renewing the liturgy in our diocese, I ask you to ensure the availability of the Precious Blood to the laity at all Sunday and holy day Masses. I am grateful for your continued attention to this and catechesis of the faithful regarding this significant teaching of the Church. 

With every best wish and kind regard, I remain, 

Sincerely yours, 
Patrick J. McGrath 
Bishop of San Jose 

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

statement from Sr. Christine Vladimiroff

Sr. Joan Chittister had been invited to be one of the main speakers at the international Conference in Dublin of Women's Ordination Worldwide, 29-31 June 2001. However, the Vatican Congregation for Religious began to exert pressure on her Superior General to prevent her from taking part in this important event. Here is the Superior’s reply.
Sr. Christine Vladimiroff, prioress of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie from 1998 to 2010

For the past three months I have been in deliberations with Vatican officials regarding Sister Joan Chittister¹s participation in the Women¹s Ordination Worldwide Conference, June 29 to 31, Dublin, Ireland. The Vatican believed her participation to be in opposition to its decree (Ordinatio Sacerdotalis) that priestly ordination will never be conferred on women in the Roman Catholic Church and must therefore not be discussed. The Vatican ordered me to prohibit Sister Joan from attending the conference where she is a main speaker.

I spent many hours discussing the issue with Sister Joan and traveled to Rome to dialogue about it with Vatican officials . I sought the advice of bishops, religious leaders, canonists, other prioresses, and most importantly with my religious community, the Benedictine Sisters of Erie. I spent many hours in communal and personal prayer on this matter.

After much deliberation and prayer, I concluded that I would decline the request of the Vatican. It is out of the Benedictine , or monastic, tradition of obedience that I formed my decision. There is a fundamental difference in the understanding of obedience in the monastic tradition and that which is being used by the Vatican to exert power and control and prompt a false sense of unity inspired by fear. Benedictine authority and obedience are achieved through dialogue between a community member and her prioress in a spirit of co-responsibility. The role of the prioress in a Benedictine community is to be a guide in the seeking of God. While lived in community, it is the individual member who does the seeking.

Sister Joan Chittister, who has lived the monastic life with faith and fidelity for fifty years, must make her own decision based on her sense of Church, her monastic profession and her own personal integrity. I cannot be used by the Vatican to deliver an order of silencing.

I do not see her participation in this conference as a "source of scandal to the faithful" as the Vatican alleges. I think the faithful can be scandalized when honest attempts to discuss questions of import to the church are forbidden.

I presented my decision to the community and read the letter that I was sending to the Vatican. 127 members of the 128 eligible members of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie freely supported this decision by signing her name to that letter. Sister Joan addressed the Dublin conference with the blessing of the Benedictine Sisters of Erie.

My decision should in no way indicate a lack of communion with the Church. I am trying to remain faithful to the role of the 1500 -year-old monastic tradition within the larger Church. We trace our tradition to the early Desert Fathers and Mothers of the 4th century who lived on the margin of society in order to be a prayerful and questioning presence to both church and society. Benedictine communities of men and women were never intended to be part of the hierarchical or clerical status of the Church, but to stand apart from this structure and offer a different voice. Only if we do this can we live the gift that we are for the Church. Only in this way can we be faithful to the gift that women have within the Church.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Austrian priests support the "appeal to disobedience" by a wide margin

Pray Tell
Nov 7, 2011
from Austrian Public Radio

A survey on the “Appeal to Disobedience” gives explosive results: more than 70% of Austrian priests support, at least in part, the demands of the “Pastors’ Initiative.”
Two-thirds of the priests in Austria see a “dangerous stalling out of reform” in the Catholic Church and a “dramatic gulf” between the Church and modern culture. More than 70 percent of them have a fundamentally positive view of the priests’ initiative for disobedience initiated by Fr. Helmut Schüller and see it as a stimulus for necessary reform. This is the main outcome of a recent study of over 500 priests in Austria.

Worldwide Interest

Since the middle of June, the “Appeal to Disobedience” of the Austrian “Pastors’ Initiative” has enjoyed great interest in the media. The priests no longer address “desires for reform” to the Church leadership, but rather announce that they themselves will implement reforms by immediate action. They will practice “disobedience” like this: not to deny Communion to divorced and remarried, to allow laity to preach as Sunday Mass, and in effect to transfer leadership of communities to laity. The rebellious priests wish to utilize “every opportunity” to speak up publicly for the admission of women and married men to ordained ministry – despite the Vatican prohibition.

Priests Think like the Wider Population

… Because the 500 priests are a representative sample of 3,500 Austrian priests, the survey results give trustworthy information on how Austrian clergymen view the “Appeal to Disobedience.” … When [another study] showed already at the end of August that over 70 percent of the Austrian population as a whole share the concerns of the Pastors’ Initiative, it was a clear sign of majority support for the demands of the rebellious priests. It will certainly give the bishops much to talk about at their plenary assembly that the attitude of the entire clergy obviously mirrors the earlier survey. Because of this study, one will no longer be able to write off the initiative as the project of just a few people.

72% Are “Reformers”

Project director Fr. Paul M. Zulehner, in his book about the study to appear in January, places 72% of the priests in the category of “reformers.” 31% of these are so-called “radical reformers” who agree with the Pastor’s Initiative with virtually no reservations. 41% are moderate reformers or, as Zulehner labels them, “unpackers” who sympathize fundamentally with the appeal, but wish to discuss each demand separately. Only 28% of those polled spoke out against the “Appeal to Disobedience.”

Big Difference between Celibacy and Women’s Ordination

Regarding individual demands of the Pastors’ Initiative, the call for admission of divorced and remarried to the sacraments experienced the broadest support. 76% are fundamentally in favor, and even 86% in individual cases. The two most-discussed reform demands, abolishment of mandatory celibacy and ordination of women, are evaluated very differently by the priests. While 71% would see “married fellow priests with their own family as an enrichment,” only 55% are of the opinion that “the demand to admit women to ordained ministry is in harmony with the Gospel.”

Full article at Pray Tell

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Clerics live it up in vatican for Law's 80th

Chris Livesay, John Zaremba and O’Ryan Johnson
Saturday, November 5, 2011
Boston Herald

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Bernard Law was treated to a lavish birthday spread, the company of a conclave of clerics and even the music of a mariachi band in a four-star Italian hotel, where guests rolled up in Vatican Mercedes sedans and left singing the praises of the fallen prelate promoted to his Holy City post after decades of covering up clergy sex abuse in Boston.

The resplendent reception that marked Law’s 80th birthday sent shock waves an ocean away in Boston, where the mere mention of his name still sparks seething anger in clergy abuse victims whose attackers he protected during his years as archbishop.

“He’s closing in on his remaining years, and as a man of faith I know he believes in a final judgment. I’m curious if he’s getting nervous,” said Phil Saviano, who was abused by a Worcester priest almost five decades ago.

“I wonder if he looks back on all the good he accomplished and if he thinks that ... outweighs so many hundreds of kids on his watch who had to go through so much trauma and emotional pain,” added Saviano, who founded a local chapter of Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests.

The Herald revealed yesterday that Boston Archbishop Cardinal Sean O’Malley, in Rome on church business, had snubbed Law’s Vatican birthday shindig.

Yesterday, an archdiocese spokesman issued a statement saying O’Malley “does extend his prayers to Cardinal Law on the occasion of his 80th birthday.” With a pair of guards in colorful habits standing silent sentry at the gate, Law and his cloistered concelebrants wined and dined at the Al Chiostro restaurant in the four-star Palazzo Rospigliosi hotel facing the Basilica of St. Mary Major, where Law serves as archpriest.

Beyond the gate, a cobblestone path led to the airy courtyard, where two banquet tables offered dozens of bottles of vino and meat-stuffed pastry d’oeuvres. Inside, a mariachi band played and sang the well-known ranchero refrain, “Cielito Lindo,” as guests devoured a main course of lasagna and snacked on cheese, tomatoes, vegetables and fine prosciutto, piled in a pyramid and placed on a pedestal. The party drew high clergy and laymen alike; guests sat six to a table.

“The meal was spectacular,” said Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar general emeritus of the Archdiocese of Rome. He twirled his hand in the air, a common Italian gesture for satisfaction. He said Law appeared to enjoy the feast as well.

“Of course,” Ruini said. “He threw the party himself.”

“He’s a good friend of mine,” he added before heading toward his cab. Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan of Mexico was all smiles as he left in the company of two nuns.

“Everyone enjoyed the party,” he said. “It was very animated. Everyone was very, very happy.”

Saviano was not.

“The top officials at the Vatican are clueless and insensitive. They probably look at Law as a reliable company man,” he said. “Part of what he was doing by protecting the child molesting priests was protecting the church and the reputation of the church. In that sense he did a fantastic job.”

Friday, November 4, 2011

Vatican stunned by Irish embassy

Phillip Puella
Nov. 4, 2011

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Catholic Ireland's stunning decision to close its embassy to the Vatican is a huge blow to the Holy See's prestige and may be followed by other countries which feel the missions are too expensive, diplomatic sources said on Friday.
The closure brought relations between Ireland and the Vatican, once ironclad allies, to an all-time low following the row earlier this year over the Irish Church's handling of sex abuse cases and accusations that the Vatican had encouraged secrecy.
Ireland will now be the only major country of ancient Catholic tradition without an embassy to the Vatican.
"This is really bad for the Vatican because Ireland is the first big Catholic country to do this and because of what Catholicism means in Irish history," said a Vatican diplomatic source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
He said Ireland informed the Vatican shortly before the announcement was made on Thursday night.
Dublin's foreign ministry said the embassy was being closed because "it yields no economic return" and that relations would be continued with an ambassador in Dublin.
The source said the Vatican was "extremely irritated" by the wording equating diplomatic missions with economic return, particularly as the Vatican sees its diplomatic role as promoting human values.
Diplomats said the Irish move might sway others to follow suit to save money because double diplomatic presences in Rome are expensive.
It was the latest crack in relations that had been seen as rock solid until a few years ago.

In July, the Vatican took the highly unusual step of recalling its ambassador to Ireland after Prime Minister Enda Kenny accused the Holy See of obstructing investigations into sexual abuse by priests.
The Irish parliament passed a motion deploring the Vatican's role in "undermining child protection frameworks" following publication of a damning report on the diocese of Cloyne.
The Cloyne report said Irish clerics concealed from the authorities the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, after the Vatican disparaged Irish child protection guidelines in a letter to Irish bishops.
While Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore denied the embassy closure was linked to the row over sexual abuse, Rome-based diplomats said they believed it probably played a major role.
"All things being equal, I really doubt the mission to the Vatican would have been on the list to get the axe without the fallout from the sex abuse scandal," one ambassador to the Vatican said, on condition of anonymity.
Cardinal Sean Brady, the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland, said he was profoundly disappointed by the decision and hoped the government would "revisit" it.
"This decision seems to show little regard for the important role played by the Holy See in international relations and of the historic ties between the Irish people and the Holy See over many centuries," Brady said in a statement.
The Vatican has been an internationally recognized sovereign city-state since 1929, when Italy compensated the Catholic Church for a vast area of central Italy known as the Papal States that was taken by the state at Italian unification in 1860.
It has diplomatic relations with 179 countries. About 80 have resident ambassadors and the rest are based in other European cities.
The Vatican guards its diplomatic independence fiercely and in the past has resisted moves by some countries to locate their envoys to the Holy See inside their embassies to Italy.
Dublin said it was closing its mission to the Vatican along with those in Iran and East Timor to help meet its fiscal goals under an EU-IMF bailout. The closures will save the government 1.25 million euros ($1.725 million) a year.