Friday, May 31, 2013

I want to do for Oakland what Francis is doing for the church - Bishop Barber

Rocco Palmo
Whispers in the Loggia
May 29, 2013

For the post-Communion address at the close of his Ordination Mass, the rubrics say that a new bishop is to wear the miter on his head and hold the crozier in hand as he gives his first message to the flock.

When his turn came Saturday, however, Bishop Michael Barber did neither.

The move can ostensibly be chalked up to one of two things: either the Jesuit head of Oakland's 600,000-member church – Pope Francis' first US pick to take office – knew the optic would freak out at least some of the natives... or, coming all of 22 days after his appointment from the other side of the country, the 58 year-old nominee (a longtime Navy chaplain) simply didn't have time to check the books in the unusual rush toward the rites.

Along the same lines, whether the ordinand's omission of the violet cassock under his alb was a matter of style – or that the choir robes just aren't done yet – likewise remains unknown.

In any event, the first priest to be directly handed the reins of a large US diocese since 2005 – and one who, notably, has spent most of his ministry not in administration, but as a teacher and spiritual director – delivered a rather exceptional opening word, going well beyond the usual pleasantries to touch on the widely-pondered matters of what his "style of collaboration" will be and the East Bay's significant debt (some $115 million of it remaining on the construction of the Cathedral of Christ the Light), all while joking with another, albeit former, Jesuit in attendance: the liberal Democrat Jerry Brown, once-and-present governor of California, who served as Oakland's mayor before returning for a second tour in Sacramento.

Likewise on that score, as the new bishop's mention of the cleric who baptized him – Fr John Cummins, later Oakland's shepherd for half the diocese's 50-year history – scored a raucous standing ovation,it was rather conspicuous that the fifth ordinary made scant to no reference to his other two living predecessors, both seated at the fore of the sanctuary – namely, the current, distinguished archbishops of Detroit and San Francisco (the latter believed by many to have been the architect of this appointment) – while paying a wavering-voiced tribute to the prelate who ordained him a priest: John Raphael Quinn, a figure both revered and reviled as the very embodiment of progressive Catholicism by the Bay, his latest renaissance spurred amid reports that his writings on the papacy have influenced Papa Bergoglio's thought on reforming the Vatican.

Given the mix of issues at hand and a start of this sort, it'll be rather interesting to see what transpires over time. For now, backed up by spontaneous "Amens" from the Gospel choir in the wings, here's fullvideo of Barber's talk:

Looking ahead, tomorrow brings the installation of Francis' first senior US appointee, the Lincoln-formed Michael Jackels, as archbishop of Dubuque.

A protege of the now Pope-emeritus Benedict XVI as one of Joseph Ratzinger's CDF staff, the new head of the church in Iowa will receive his pallium a month from today from the new pontiff alongside the aforementioned Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, Archbishops Joseph Tobin CSSR of Indianapolis, Alexander Sample of Portland in Oregon and all the metropolitans named worldwide over the last year.

Going into the home stretch of the Curial cycle – the Vatican offices largely being in shutdown mode through July and August – seven Stateside dioceses currently stand vacant, with another seven led by (arch)bishops serving past the retirement age of 75.

Time for 'Catholic Spring' and Vatican III : bishop

Barney Zwarz
The Age (Australia)
June 1, 2013

The bishop who designed Australia's Catholic clergy sex abuse response wants a ''Catholic spring'', a people-power movement to force the Vatican to tackle the abuse crisis at its source.

Retired Sydney bishop Geoffrey Robinson has launched a petition for ordinary Catholics to seek another global church council like the 1960s reforming Vatican II council. But at ''Vatican III'', he says, there must be as many lay people as bishops to make sure the hard questions get asked.

He believes that only a ''Catholic spring'' like the revolutions that ended the Marcos regime in the Philippines, totalitarian governments in the Arab world and communism in eastern Europe will move the Vatican to make the changes that are needed. Bishop Robinson, 75, was the architect of the Towards Healing protocol introduced in every diocese except Melbourne in 1996. Abused as a child, he headed the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference professional standards committee for a decade until he retired in 2004 because he was so disillusioned.

On Tuesday, his new book For Christ's Sake: End Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church … for Good, will be launched in an inner-Sydney church. The petition, at, was opened in Australia a fortnight ago without any publicity, and already has more than 10,000 signatures. Backed by two other progressive Australian bishops, the recently retired Pat Power of Canberra and Bill Morris of Toowoomba, it will be launched in Europe and the US soon.

The book is about the powerful cultural factors that block the church from attacking the causes of abuse, rather than merely responding afterwards. Bishop Robinson believes the church is still trying to ''manage'' the problem rather than confront it. ''Ultimately the only way to deal with abuse is prevent it. Once it's happened, anything you do is second-rate - you can't cure it or restore people to the way they were before,'' Bishop Robinson said.

The biggest obstacles he identifies are papal infallibility, obligatory celibacy, the professional priestly caste, the absence of the feminine throughout the church, and an immature morality based on authority rather than people taking responsibility. No pope had ever called for a study of the causes because it would raise questions on practices and teachings in which much papal prestige had been invested, Bishop Robinson said. Protecting papal authority has been seen as more important than preventing abuse.

''A major reason why the revulsion against the Catholic Church over abuse has been so great is precisely that for centuries the church presented itself as the great and infallible moral guide that could tell everyone else what to do and threaten eternal punishment for anyone who did not bow down and obey,'' he writes in the new book. ''And now this church - which so vaunted its own perfection - has been shown to have a rottenness at its core. When the school bully is exposed, the whole school rejoices.''

Bishop Robinson does not condemn celibacy, but says it must be freely chosen. Imposed, it can create conditions that lead to abuse. Similarly, the absence of women's influence in the church has damaged it in many ways, he writes.

Bishop Robinson said the election of Francis as Pope in March had restored hope he had lost under Benedict XVI and certainly John Paul II.

''He's a new Pope, speaking a different language, and has done a lot of very good things. He has said that among the poor and injured, sex-abuse victims must have a special place. But he has not yet faced many of the really hard questions of which [the sex abuse crisis] is top of the list.''

The book has detailed suggestions of how Vatican III might work, and what it should consider.

Priests ask bishops to stall missal

The Tablet
May 31, 2013

The members of the German Priests' Initiative for church reform have written to their respective bishops asking them not to approve the new German translation of the Missal.

"We urgently appeal to you not to put the new Missal into practice but to leave the present translation in place for the moment, even if a tremendous amount of time and effort have been put into it (the new translation)," the letter says.

The reason for their appeal, the priests say, is that they regard the linguistic register of the new translation as inappropriate.

The letter is signed by Frs Karl Feser and Klaus Kempter in the name of the German Priests' Initiative, which was founded in 2007.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Catholic orders to release secret files on molesting priests

Victoria King and Harriet Ryan
Los Angeles Time
May 28, 2013

Thousands of pages of secret files held by Roman Catholic orders concerning priests accused of molesting children will be released throughout the summer beginning as early as next month, according to attorneys.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Emilie Elias set a deadline of September for the religious orders to turn over files on dozens of priests for public release at a hearing Tuesday. The release of confidential files kept by the orders, such as the Salesians, Vincentians and Marinists, were agreed to as part of settlements with victims.

“Most of the orders have come forward with a positive attitude .… We want to get this behind us,” Raymond Boucher, an attorney for victims, told the judge.

The secret files, which are required by Catholic church law, would shed light on how high-ranking officials at the orders and leaders of the L.A. archdiocese dealt with allegations of abuse by priests who were assigned to work in Los Angeles. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles released 12,000 pages of its own closely-held document cache in January, but many of the files for priests who belonged to Catholic orders were scant.

Boucher said attorneys would publicly release the files as they were turned over by the individual orders throughout the coming months. He said the earliest release could be as soon as in three weeks.

Monday, May 27, 2013

New York archdiocese pays for health plan that covers birth control

Sharon Otterman
New York Times
May 26, 2013

As the nation’s leading Roman Catholic bishop, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York has been spearheading the fight against a provision of the new health care law that requires employers, including some that are religiously affiliated, to cover birth control in employee health plans.

But even as Cardinal Dolan insists that requiring some religiously affiliated employers to pay for contraception services would be an unprecedented, and intolerable, government intrusion on religious liberty, the archdiocese he heads has quietly been paying for such coverage, albeit reluctantly and indirectly, for thousands of its unionized employees for over a decade.

The Archdiocese of New York has previously acknowledged that some local Catholic institutions offer health insurance plans that include contraceptive drugs to comply with state law; now, it is also acknowledging that the archdiocese’s own money is used to pay for a union health plan that covers contraception and even abortion for workers at its affiliated nursing homes and clinics.

“We provide the services under protest,” said Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York.


The archdiocese agreed to cover its own health workers long before Cardinal Dolan became archbishop of New York, and even today insists that it has no choice. As a result, about 3,000 full-time workers at ArchCare, also known as the Catholic Health Care System, receive coverage for contraception and voluntary pregnancy termination through their membership in 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, a powerful health care workers union, according to Dave Bates, a spokesman for the union.


Bruce McIver, the president of the league since 1991, said he recalled that some Catholic organizations had expressed concern about paying for the contraception benefits in the mid- to late 1990s. But in recent years, as the number of Catholic hospitals in the city dwindled, “they just kind of stopped, from my perspective, paying attention to this issue,” he said.

“Eventually, the Catholics just said, you know, we are going to ignore the issue and pay into the fund and people are going to make their own choices about contraception and so forth,” Mr. McIver said.

During union negotiations, “I don’t remember it coming up in the last dozen years or so, ever,” he said. “In a place like New York, their employees, not all of whom are Catholic, would react pretty badly.”


Federal courts have dismissed most of the roughly 30 lawsuits already filed against the mandate by Catholic dioceses and other nonprofit corporations, because the government is not enforcing the mandate for religiously affiliated nonprofits until this August. The case brought by the New York Archdiocese, however, is moving forward. The mandate already applies to for-profit companies, but many of those suing have been granted reprieves until the end of their legal cases.

In courtrooms, government lawyers have pointed out to judges that some of the employers challenging the mandate have already been providing similar coverage. But Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, which is also representing companies suing against the mandate, said that so far “the courts have not bought the argument that, aha, you must not really mean it if you haven’t caught it before now.”

Sarah Lipton-Lubet, an analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, which supports the contraception mandate, sees the matter differently.

“I can’t begin to understand the argument that coverage that has been part of the plan for however many years is suddenly anathema,” she said.

Cardinal Pell makes admissions

Barney Zwartz
WA Today (Australia)
May 28, 2013

Cardinal George Pell has admitted the Catholic Church had put paedophile priests ''above the law'', covered up abuse and moved abusers.

In a gruelling session of more than four hours, he told the Victorian inquiry into child abuse that the church had changed the date on a document making serial abuser Des Gannon a priest emeritus and had kept paying a stipend to another paedophile, Ron Pickering, who fled Australia to avoid police.

The Sydney Archbishop said he and his successor as Melbourne Archbishop, Denis Hart, took moral responsibility for helping victims and that the church was open to paying higher sums in compensation - whatever the law deemed necessary.

The church would be happy to contribute to an independently managed redress fund for victims, provided ''others are asked too''.

He denied that he was like Pontius Pilate, washing his hands of the abuse problem, or that the $30 million hostel that the Sydney archdiocese had built in Rome with permanent rooms for him was ''a palace''.

Cardinal Pell said he accepted Victorian Premier Denis Napthine's challenge at the weekend to be ''fully apologetic and absolutely sorry'' and lashed former Melbourne archbishop Frank Little even more strongly than Archbishop Hart did last Monday, calling his actions ''totally reprehensible''.

Of former Ballarat bishop Ronald Mulkearns, Cardinal Pell said he only learnt recently that Bishop Mulkearns had destroyed files on abusers, and that his actions had disastrous consequences.

But Cardinal Pell defended his own record, particularly in establishing the Melbourne Response system for dealing with abuse victims within 100 days of becoming archbishop of Melbourne in 1996.

He said he did not regret not having done more as the Melbourne Response was adequate at the time. He did not believe he had ever moved a paedophile priest and had certainly never covered up criminal behaviour.

In other evidence, Cardinal Pell admitted that the church had kept sending money for a decade via a Melbourne parishioner to paedophile priest Ron Pickering after he fled to England to avoid police investigation.

He also attacked the state government, which he said could have forced the church to do more, as the Wood inquiry did in NSW, and an ''intermittently hostile media''.

Agreeing that the church's ancient canon law was inadequate for dealing with clergy sex abusers, he said the church was open to further improvements, such as those the inquiry might recommend, and he expected Victoria's Catholic churches would co-operate in ''taking matters forward''.

He defended clergy celibacy, saying ''marriage is no deterrent to paedophiles''.

There were several lively exchanges with committee members.

Andrea Coote challenged the morality of limiting victims to a ''mere $75,000'' when the $30 million hostel in Rome could have doubled the compensation for hundreds of victims.

''The church has never claimed it would be unable to pay appropriate compensation,'' Cardinal Pell replied.

Frank McGuire: Do you agree that the Catholic Church placed paedophile priests above the law?

Cardinal Pell: In some cases, unfortunately.

Mr McGuire: ''It was see no evil, hear no evil, do nothing by the church?''

Cardinal Pell: ''That's an objectionable suggestion with no foundation in the truth.''

On forging the date on a letter about Des Gannon, twice jailed for child sexual abuse, who was allowed to resign on health grounds, David O'Brien said: ''It's utterly reprehensible isn't it?'' Cardinal Pell: ''It is''.

The cardinal continued: ''You've got to blame the archbishop. The way he did it was totally reprehensible.''

Cardinal Pell was questioned at length about supporting serial rapist Gerald Ridsdale in court 20 years ago to the day. He said that because he had always been on the side of victims he did not realise the angst and distress it would cause them.

Another case was the Foster family, two of whose daughters were repeatedly raped over years from the age of five by another serial abuser, Kevin O'Donnell, against whom the church received allegations in 1946, 1958 and 1986.

Anthony Foster told the inquiry last year that Cardinal Pell showed ''a sociopathic lack of empathy'' when he met the parents in 1997, and on Monday the cardinal described the meeting as unfortunate. After challenging them to go to court, the Fosters won a settlement of $750,000 plus costs.

On the ''deeply irreligious'' Jeff Kennett, who called him in when he was appointed archbishop and said ''if you don't clean it up I will'', Cardinal Pell said he admired the former premier in many ways, and that they were ''not entirely dissimilar characters''.

In his concluding statement, Cardinal Pell regretted that the church had not been called earlier during the inquiry, which had begun with searing criticism and a response written by Archbishop Hart had not been published until much later.

''Because these charges were unanswered, many people in the public think not only were there many mistakes made a long time ago but there's been no progress at all over the last 20 years,'' he said.

''I don't think that's borne out by the facts of the case, but that's for people to judge.''

Child abuse victim Stephen Wood said his expectations of Cardinal Pell's testimony had been low and that he had ''lived down to them''.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Editorial: Newark archbishop John Meyers' unconvincing dodge

Star-Ledger Editorial Board
May 26, 2013

Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has broken his long silence with a remarkable statement in yesterday’s Star-Ledger that attempts to evade any personal responsibility for allowing a known sex offender under his supervision to mingle with children.

He offers no apology to the families whose children were put in harm’s way. He offers no explanation for the breathtaking lapses in this case. And he makes no significant policy changes.

In the place of moral leadership, Myers offers a carefully parsed and legalistic dodge, while demoting one of his senior aides in a transparent attempt to mollify critics who have called for his own resignation.

Myers, it seems, still doesn’t get it. While many bishops are making sincere efforts to root out abusive priests and to make amends for past efforts to cover up the problem, he remains stuck in the past. He has long been too tolerant of priests facing credible accusations, and too secretive about his responses.

Myers, for example, will not release the names of people he appointed to an internal review panel — again, as many others do. In this case, the review panel found that no abuse occurred, an impossible conclusion when you consider the detailed confession of the accused priest, the Rev. Michael Fugee, who told police he groped a boy’s genitals and derived sexual pleasure from the act. The panel, as The Star-Ledger’s Mark Mueller reported, made virtually no effort to find the victim or his parents and did not hear their testimony.

The archdiocese agreed to keep Fugee away from children in a binding agreement with Bergen County prosecutors. It then failed to enforce the agreement, and soon Fugee was attending retreats with teens and hearing their confession, in direct violation of the agreement.

That fits a pattern. Before this latest flare-up, Myers had promoted Fugee as co-director of the office that helps guide young priests, sending precisely the wrong message. Earlier this year, Fugee was found to be celebrating Mass and living at the rectory of a church in Rochelle Park. Parishioners had not been told of his criminal past, so again, children were exposed. In 2009, Myers appointed Fugee chaplain of St. Michael’s Medical Center in Newark, again without telling the hospital about Fugee’s restrictions.

Myers has shown leniency toward other troubled priests, as well. In 2004, he wrote a letter of recommendation to six dioceses in Florida for one priest, a week after learning the priest had been accused of breaking into a woman’s house and assaulting her. The same year, he banned one priest from public ministry after investigating an allegation that he had abused a boy, but did not notify lay people or other priests. In 2007, he did not tell lay people about a credible finding of molestation against a priest working in Elizabeth and Jersey City.

It is obvious that a vigorous housecleaning is needed in the archdiocese. And it is equally obvious that Myers is not the man to lead it

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Archbishop John J. Meyers addresses Fugee scandal, demotes his second in command

Mark Mueller
Star Ledger (Newark,NJ)
May 24, 2013

A top official in the Archdiocese of Newark — second only to Archbishop John J. Myers — has been sacked from his leadership position for mishandling the supervision of a priest who violated a lifetime ban on ministry to children.

Myers, speaking out for the first time on the scandal that has imperiled his future in Newark, described the removal of Monsignor John E. Doran as one step in a series of reforms meant to “strengthen internal protocols” and “ensure we are doing everything we can to safeguard the children of our community.”

Myers made the announcement in an opinion piece scheduled to run in Saturday's Star-Ledger. An abbreviated version of the letter is to be read aloud at parishes in the archdiocese Saturday and Sunday.

Doran, who served as vicar general and moderator of the curia, is among the highest-ranking Roman Catholic officials in the country to be demoted over the handling of a priest accused of sexual abuse, observers say.

“This is a very significant decision,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a senior analyst with the National Catholic Reporter and a former editor of America, a Catholic magazine. “Short of being a bishop, vicar general and moderator of the curia is as high as you can get.”

Doran is the archdiocese official who signed an agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office in 2007, pledging to supervise the Rev. Michael Fugee, who had confessed to police that he groped a teenage boy years earlier.

The agreement banned Fugee from ministering to children for as long as he remained a priest. Yet Fugee blatantly disregarded those terms, attending youth retreats and hearing confessions from minors in parishes in and out of the archdiocese, The Star-Ledger reported late last month.

Earlier this week, Fugee was criminally charged with contempt of a judicial order for violating the agreement. He has since been freed on bail.

Through his spokesman, Myers at first defended Fugee’s interactions with children, saying that because he was supervised by other adults, he had not breached the agreement. Days later, he said Fugee had acted without his knowledge.

The case has led to national condemnation and repeated calls for the archbishop’s resignation.

In the opinion piece, Myers reiterated he did not know about Fugee’s travels and immediately ordered an investigation by an outside law firm when he learned of them.

“The investigation uncovered certain operational vulnerabilities in our own systems,” Myers wrote. “We found that the strong protocols presently in place were not always observed.”

He did not elaborate on the vulnerabilities but seemed to lay responsibility for the failure to monitor Fugee squarely on the shoulders of Doran.

“As a result of operational failures, both Msgr. Doran and I felt that the archdiocese would be best served by his stepping down as vicar general,” Myers wrote, characterizing the removal as a resignation. “This action clears the way for making more effective changes in our monitoring function.”

The job of monitoring priests, Myers added, would be shifted to the archdiocese’s judicial vicar, the Rev. Robert G. McBride.

Doran, a Jersey City native who previously served as pastor at St. Cassian Church in Montclair, is the latest in a string of priests and lay people to lose their jobs as the fallout from the Fugee scandal spreads.

The Rev. Thomas Triggs, the pastor of the Colts Neck church where Fugee attended youth retreats, resigned under pressure from Trenton Bishop David M. O’Connell earlier this month. The church’s two youth ministers, longtime friends of Fugee, also were forced out. The parish, St. Mary’s, is in the Diocese of Trenton.

Fugee was granted a leave from ministry May 2, though he remains a priest.


The Star-Ledger found the archdiocese did little or no monitoring of him since signing the agreement. His attendance at youth retreats was out in the open, with photos publicly displayed on Facebook. In almost all cases, parishioners said they did not know of his background.


Throughout his 12 years in Newark and in his previous post as Bishop of Peoria, Myers has faced periodic criticism for his handling of priests accused of abuse.

He sought to counter that view in his opinion piece, saying the archdiocese has an “exemplary record” of addressing allegations against clergy. He said he had personally removed from ministry 19 priests after allegations of abuse were substantiated.

But he would not name those priests, some of whom have been identified in press reports over the years. Goodness, the spokesman, said individual parishes are notified when priests are removed amid allegations of sexual abuse.

To some critics, Myers’ actions, including the removal of Doran, did not go far enough.

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a national advocacy group, repeated his demand today that Myers resign.

“Myers keeps making grudging, belated public relations moves and calling them ‘reform,’” Clohessy said in a statement. “That won’t cut it.”

Full article at

Friday, May 24, 2013

New Oakland bishop inherits huge debt, frustrated clergy

Monica Clark
National Catholic Reporter
May 22, 2013

When Jesuit Fr. Michael Barber is ordained as the fifth bishop of Oakland on May 25, he will assume leadership of a large, multi-cultural diocese with a $114.7 million debt and clergy who are frustrated that plans to tackle fiscal problems and administrative inefficiencies had to be put on hold.

Over the past seven months, retired Seattle Archbishop Alexander Brunett, the diocese’s apostolic administrator, explored ways to reduce the debt through a major fundraising campaign and to reorganize some aspects of Chancery administration.

Appointed after Bishop Salvatore Cordileone moved across the bay to lead the Archdiocese of San Francisco last October, Brunett, 79, quickly gained enthusiastic support for his financial know-how, administrative leadership, and warm demeanor.

Many in the diocese now worry that Bishop-elect Barber, who has primarily worked as a seminary teacher, spiritual director and Navy chaplain, will have a steep learning curve, something he acknowledged during a press conference announcing his appointment May 3. “I have a lot to learn about the church in Oakland,” he said.

His provincial, Jesuit Fr. Michael Weiler, in a May 3 letter to fellow Jesuits, noted that the new bishop, who has been director of spiritual formation at St. John’s Seminary in Boston for the past three years, faces the “challenge of immediately becoming the ordinary of a diocese with no time to accustom himself to his new role.”

Barber, 58, was a pastor in Western Samoa for two years after his ordination in 1985 and lived at St. Agnes Parish in San Francisco while directing the School of Pastoral Leadership for the Archdiocese of San Francisco from 1998 to 2001. But the majority of his ministry has been outside the traditional diocesan structure.

Barber told the press he first learned of his appointment through a phone call while in his Boston office. A few days later when he was in Washington, D.C. for the April 25 episcopal ordination of Father Robert Coyle as auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, he told Archbishop Carlo Vigano, apostolic nuncio to the United States, that he would accept the appointment.

“I don’t know how he [Pope Francis] got my name. We’ve never met,” said Barber, adding that he was “humbled” to be appointed a bishop by the new Jesuit pope. “Maybe he thought I could do in Oakland what he wants to do in the whole church. I am watching him very closely. I want to imitate him.”

In a reference to his lack of administrative experience, Barber noted that when the pope (then Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio) was unexpectedly named auxiliary archbishop of Buenos Aires in 1992, he “had to start somewhere too.”

The May 3 announcement of Barber’s appointment came as a surprise, especially to priests who had been called to a May 6 meeting, believed by many to focus on administrative reorganization of the cathedral complex and some aspects of the Chancery. That meeting was cancelled May 2. “While we have been anxious for a replacement to be named, the priests of the diocese were told this would not happen until the fall,” wrote Fr, Robert McCann to his parishioners at St. Theresa Church in Oakland in the May 12 parish bulletin.

McCann questioned the quick scheduling of the episcopal ordination, just a month after Barber accepted the appointment. “This is amazingly fast,” McCann wrote, noting that Father Peter Loy Chong, who has been living at St. Theresa’s while earning a doctorate at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, will not be ordained Archbishop of Fiji until June 8, though he was named a bishop last December.

Others, speaking to NCR on the condition that their names not be used, said that they fear that some in the diocese pushed the Barber ordination forward quickly to stall implementation of the reorganization.

Some saw the reorganization as a partial response to an undercurrent of discontent about Cordileone’s leadership in Oakland that surfaced during a convocation of priests in October 2011, two and one-half years after he came to the diocese.

In two workshops, 59 priests identified issues that they presented to Cordileone. Summary documents obtained by NCR reveal that these included a perception that collaboration and consultation were undervalued in his administration, that an “ascending ecclesiology of the church” was being imposed on religious education training programs that “does not foster a broader ecclesiological framework and theological perspective,” and that morale had deteriorated among Chancery staff and parish priests.

The priests also expressed concern about a “lack of awareness, lack of attention, and a lack of resources to the pastoral and multicultural reality of the diocese.“

The Diocese of Oakland, with 550,000 Catholics, is one of the most ethnically diverse in the country. In the two counties that make up the diocese less than half the population is Anglo. One quarter is Latino with an equal percentage of Asians. Thirty-nine of the diocese’s 83 parishes have Sunday Mass in Spanish. Masses are also celebrated regularly in Cantonese, Ge’ez, Kmhmu, Korean, Mandarin, Polish, Portuguese, Tagalog, Tongan and Vietnamese.

“I look forward to working with so many wonderfully diverse ethnic communities,” said Bishop-elect Barber, who speaks Italian, French, Samoan and liturgical Spanish, in addition to Latin and English.

Perhaps the most pressing problem facing the new bishop will be how to reduce the $114.7 million debt amassed from the construction of a new cathedral, settlement payments for clergy sex abuse, refurbishment of cemetery properties and other diocesan projects.

He will have to decide whether to go forward with an anticipated capital campaign. Mike Brown, diocesan communications director, said liquidation of marketable securities, sale of some real estate and refinancing a portion of the debt are also expected.

Barber said during the press conference that he wants to follow the example of Pope Francis, focusing on the needs of the poor and marginalized. “He wants servant leaders,” he said.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Priests dislike new Mass translations, survey says

Joshua J. McElwee
National Catholic Reporter
May 21, 2013

For every two U.S. priests who prefer a new set of Vatican-ordered English translations of the Roman Catholic Mass, there are three others who say they do not, according to a survey released Tuesday by Saint John’s School of Theology in Collegeville, Minn.
Fifty-nine percent of priests surveyed said they do not like the new Mass translations, which all Catholic parishes in the country were mandated to use beginning in fall 2011.
Eighty percent said they agreed with an assessment that the Latin to English translation is “awkward and distracting,” according to the St. John’s study. Sixty-one percent also said the new language needs to be revised “urgently.”
The study was conducted by the school’s Godfrey Diekmann, OSB Center for Patristics and Liturgical Studies. It invited all 178 U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses to ask their priests to respond to online questions regarding their experience with the new translations.
According to the school, 1,536 priests in 32 U.S. diocese responded. The survey took place from Feb. 21-May 6.
The translations, which were first indicated in a 2001 Vatican document, include small and large changes from previous versions of how priests say prayers and celebrate the Eucharist. They also affect ways Catholics respond throughout the ceremony.
In one of the most obvious changes, Catholics are no longer to respond “And also with you” when the priest wishes them peace, but rather “And with your spirit.”
“This survey shows fairly widespread skepticism about the new Missal by U.S. Catholic priests, with strong differences in opinion between the majority of priests who do not like the Missal and the minority who do,” the school said in a release.
Among findings highlighted by the school:
  • Priests surveyed did not like the new texts by a 3-2 margin, with 59 percent saying they do not like them compared to 39% who do.
  • More than 1/3 of priests surveyed said they “strongly disagree” that the new missal is an improvement over its predecessor.
  • 80 percent of those surveyed said they agreed with an assessment of the new language as “awkward and distracting.”
  • 61 percent of those surveyed said the new language needs to be revised “urgently,” with 43 percent strongly agreeing.
The theology school has also posted a number of responses to the survey from leaders of national and international organizations of priests.
Priests in the U.S., the head of the National Federation of Priests’ Councils told the school, have been put in an “untenable position” by the translations and have been “forced to choose between fidelity to the magisterium and feeding our people.”
“Precisely because this edition is seen as a ‘top-down’ project, many priests feel that the magisterium has not kept faith with them, so they feel no compunction to be faithful to magisterium,” said Fr. Anthony E. Cutcher, head of the group, which represents some 26,000 U.S. priests.
Mgsr. Andrew Wadsworth, the head of an international commission set up after the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) by English-speaking countries for Mass translations, noted the numbers of priests who responded to the survey represent some 3.7 percent of the nearly 42,000 in the U.S.
“Despite this, some interesting indications emerge, even if the accompanying commentary is at times selectively negative in interpreting the data,” said Wadsworth, head of the International Committee for English in the Liturgy (ICEL).
“The new translation clearly has a different voice and the survey shows that some priests do not like it. Whether they are representative of wider opinion is not ascertained by this survey.”
ICEL had prepared new English translations in 1998. While approved by the all of the English-speaking national bishops’ conferences, those translations were rejected by the Vatican’s Congregation of Divine Worship, which issued a new instruction for translations, Liturgiam authenticam, in 2001.
That text specified that translations to English from the Latin must be made “in the most exact manner, without omissions or additions in terms of their content, and without paraphrases or glosses.”
San Diego, Calif., Bishop Robert Brom, also gave a response to the Minnesota school on their survey, saying he was “not at all surprised” by its contents.
“While we don’t want to ‘throw out the baby with the bathwater,’ the new missal needs corrective surgery and this should take place without delay,” said Brom. “The views of priests must be taken into consideration.”
At meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference in Novemer, Brom had said his priest describe the new missal “is more of a burden than a blessing.”
According to a posting at the popular blog PrayTell, Saint John’s also invited responses to the survey from a number of bishops and prelates who hold roles of authority in Mass translations.
Among those the blog said declined comment were Msgr. Rick Hilgartner, director of the U.S. bishops’ committee on divine worship; New Orleans’ Bishop Gregory Aymond, the current chair of the committee; and Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, its incoming chair.
Among those the blog said did not respond to comment requests were New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the bishops’ conference; and Australian Cardinal George Pell, who oversees Vox Clara, a commission set up by the Vatican in 2001 to oversee ICEL’s work on Mass translations.
A December public opinion survey of self-identified Catholics by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) at Georgetown University found a seven in 10 Catholics agree with the statement, “Overall, I think the new translation of the Mass is a good thing.”
CARA surveyed 1,047 self-identified Catholic adults. The study has with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points.
[Joshua J. McElwee is an NCR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter: @joshjmac.]

Church whistleblowers join forces on abuse

Laurie Goodstein
New York Times
May 20, 2013

They call themselves Catholic Whistleblowers, a newly formed cadre of priests and nuns who say the Roman Catholic Church is still protecting sexual predators.
Although they know they could face repercussions, they have banded together to push the new pope to clean house and the American bishops to enforce the zero-tolerance policies they adopted more than a decade ago.
The group began organizing quietly nine months ago without the knowledge of their superiors or their peers, and plan to make their campaign public this week. Most in the steering group of 12 have blown the whistle on abusers in the past, and three are canon lawyers who once handled abuse cases on the church’s behalf. Four say they were sexually abused as children.
Their aim, they say, is to support both victims and fellow whistle-blowers, and identify shortcomings in church policies. They hope to help not just minors, but also adults who fall prey to clergy who exploit their power for sex. They say that their motivation is to make the church better and safer, and to show the world that there are good priests and nuns in the church.
“We’ve dedicated our lives to the church,” the Rev. John Bambrick, a priest in the Diocese of Trenton, said at a meeting of the group last week in New York. “Having sex offenders in ministry is damaging to our ministry.”
The group has sent a letter to Pope Francis asking him to take several significant steps to heal victims and restore the church’s credibility: revoke all oaths of secrecy, open the files on abuse cases, remove from office any bishops who obstructed justice and create an international forum for dialogue between survivors and church leaders.
The Catholic Church in the United States put in place a zero-tolerance policy and a host of prevention programs after the abuse scandal peaked in 2002. Each year the bishops commission an audit of abuse cases, and this year’s survey, released May 9, found the fewest allegations and victims since the audits began in 2004.
But the whistle-blowers’ group contends that vigilance is necessary because some bishops are violating the zero-tolerance policies, and abusive clergy (who now number 6,275, according to the bishops’ count of those accusations that they deem credible) still have access to children. They point to the revelations in the last month that a priest in Newark who was a convicted sex offender restricted by a court order from working with children had been ministering in a Catholic parish in Trenton, taking confessions from children and going on weekend youth retreats.
Several of the whistle-blowers have been vocal about that priest, the Rev. Michael Fugee. Along with some New Jersey politicians, they have called for the resignation of the archbishop of Newark, John J. Myers. They fault Archbishop Myers not only for failing to restrict Father Fugee, but also for appointing him to help direct the education of priests in the archdiocese.
Archbishop Myers’s spokesman said the archbishop was unaware of the priest’s activities, and is cooperating with an investigation by the Bergen County prosecutor. Father Fugee left the ministry, and on Monday was arrested on charges that he violated a judicial order by having contact with minors. The bishop of Trenton, David M. O’Connell, removed another priest and two youth ministers from the parish in Trenton where Father Fugee worked with youth.
The Newark case, as well as the release of personnel records on priests by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and convictions of church officials in Philadelphia and Kansas City, convinced the whistle-blowers’ group that they have work to do despite the optimistic picture in the bishops’ audits. They do not consider the bishops’ audits credible because they are based on self-reporting.
The group discussed the latest scandal in Newark at a meeting last week in Manhattan. At that meeting, Sister Sally Butler traveled from Brooklyn; Sister Maureen Paul Turlish from Delaware; the Rev. Ronald Lemmert from Peekskill, N.Y.; and Father Bambrick, Msgr. Kenneth E. Lasch and Robert Hoatson, a former priest, came from New Jersey. The Rev. James Connell joined in by speakerphone from Sheboygan, Wis. (The Rev. Thomas P. Doyle — perhaps the church’s most famed whistle-blower — recently joined the group but could not attend.) They had been conducting their weekly meetings by conference calls, and it was only the second time most of them had met face to face.
Each member has a history of standing up publicly on behalf of abuse victims, but until last year most of them did not know of one another. A Catholic laywoman, Anne Barrett Doyle, who lives in Boston, suggested they should meet. She is the co-director, a Web site and advocacy group that is building a database of documents on clergy abuse cases, and a co-worker, Suzy Nauman, had been keeping a running list of priests and nuns who had helped expose predators or had spoken out.
Last year Ms. Doyle spoke with Father Lemmert about the backlash he experienced after exposing a case in New York, and he later told her that talking about his experiences was “very therapeutic.” The group was initially conceived more as a confidential support group for the whistle-blowers themselves.
“I joined the group,” said Father Lemmert, “because I had been badly ostracized because I blew the whistle. There was no support out there, and this group has been a lifeline.”
Until last week, he intended to keep his involvement in the group under wraps for fear of repercussions. But at the meeting Father Lemmert announced, “I just decided to stand up and be counted.”
The group has evolved to take on a more policy-oriented role, drafting the letter to the new pope with six suggestions for action. They sent the letter in late April to the pope and several Vatican officials, but have not received any response yet.
They expressed varying degrees of optimism about whether Pope Francis will follow through on the goal first articulated by Pope John Paul II that there is no room for sexual abusers in the priesthood. They noted that Pope Francis recently said that all human beings must be protected with “clarity and courage” — especially children, “who are the most vulnerable.”
Monsignor Lasch said to the group, “The pope has asked us to speak with clarity and courage, and that’s what we’ve done with him.” Mr. Hoatson added, “It’s time that clarity and courage are rewarded rather than harassed and dismissed.”
Mr. Hoatson and Monsignor Lasch founded Road to Recovery, a group that assists abuse victims, but Mr. Hoatson left the priesthood in 2011 after a series of run-ins with Archbishop Myers. He said he has found the recent spotlight trained on the Newark archbishop very encouraging.
The whistle-blowers’ group plans to hold its first news conference this week in New York, and some members are bracing for the reaction. They said they know priests who spoke up and were removed from their parishes, hustled into retirement or declared “unstable” and sent to treatment centers for clergy with substance-abuse problems or sexual addictions.
As for what they hope to accomplish, the whistle-blowers had very different answers.
“That all the children in our church would be safe,” said Father Bambrick.
“That the people who covered up would go to jail,” said Sister Butler.
“That’s not what I’m in this for,” said Monsignor Lasch. “I’m in this for justice and mercy and truth and compassion.”

Monday, May 20, 2013

Former Wyckoff priest arrested for court order violation

Abbot Koloff
The (North Jersey) Record
May 20' 2013

A former Wyckoff assistant pastor, who had been allowed to continue working as a priest despite confessing to the sexual abuse of a 13-year-old child, was arrested Monday and charged with violating an agreement with law enforcement officials that barred him from working with children.

The Rev. Michael Fugee

The Rev. Michael Fugee
The Rev. Michael Fugee was arrested at a Newark parish on Monday and was charged with seven counts of violating a judicial order,Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said in a statement.
Molinelli said that Fugee, a former associate pastor at St. Elizabeth parish in Wyckoff, allegedly heard confessions from children on at least seven occasions, including twice at aRochelle Park parish where church authorities had allowed him to live in the rectory.
Fugee heard confessions in February and again in March at Sacred Heart Church in Rochelle Park, Molinelli said. Fugee left that parish earlier this year after The Record inquired about him living there. He also herd confession from minors at Our Lady of Visitation Church in Paramus in December, the prosecutor said.
Law enforcement officials said they had been investigating whether Fugee violated the terms of a memorandum of understanding after it came to light that the priest had been attending youth group excursions with a Monmouth County church.
Newark Archbishop John J. Myers has been under fire for the way he handled Fugee’s case, although there is no evidence that church officials knew that Fugee had been attending the youth group trips.
Fugee’s conviction on a charge of criminal sexual contact with a minor was overturned on a technicality by an appellate panel. The priest initially confessed to abusing a 13-year-old boy but later recanted. Church officials allowed him to return to ministry, gave him promotions  and let him live in a Rochelle Park rectory.
Fugee recently resigned from the ministry after the youth group allegations were made.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Cardinal O'Brien to leave Scotland for period of prayer and penance

Gerald O'Connor
Vatican Insider
May 15, 2012

Pope Francis has agreed that Cardinal Keith O’Brien should leave Scotland “for several months” for the purpose of spiritual renewal, prayer and penance, the Vatican announced on May 15.

The news, which had been rumored for some weeks in the UK, was confirmed by the Vatican press office in a brief statement issued in both English and Italian, in Rome.

“Cardinal Keith Patrick O’Brien, Archbishop Emeritus of St. Andrews and Edinburgh, will be leaving Scotland, in the coming days, for several months for the purpose of spiritual renewal, prayer and penance”, the Vatican stated.   

It is recognized in Rome and in the UK that the cardinal, by his sexual misconduct, had done immense damage to the Catholic Church in Scotland and wider afield, and Church sources say it is proper that he should do a period of prayer and penance to atone for this, and to rebuild his own life as a Christian.

The Vatican made clear that Cardinal O’Brien is doing all this “in agreement with the Holy Father”.  In other words, Pope Francis has been directly involved in this decision. 

Since the Cardinal has openly admitted his wrongdoing, there was no need for a formal judicial process. The penalty he is undergoing is in accordance with Church discipline and aims “to repair the scandal, restore justice, reform the offender” (Code of Canon Law, n.1341).

The Vatican did not reveal where the cardinal is going to do his prayer, penance and spiritual renewal, nor did it specify for how long.  The word ‘several” in English usually means ‘more than three’, in other words, he will be on retreat, doing penance, for more than three months. 

On the other hand, it is also clear from the Vatican statement that his absence from Scotland will be temporary, not permanent.  He is not being sent into permanent exile as some media outlets have suggested.

The Vatican said he is doing this “for the same reasons he decided not to participate in the last Conclave.”  Those reasons related to the allegations of sexual misconduct that were made against him in late February which attracted international media attention.  The cardinal announced, on February 25 - the day his resignation took effect- that he would not take part in the conclave so as not to have media attention focused on him.

The previous day, February 24, The Observer, a British Sunday paper, published allegations by three priests and a former priest from the archdiocese of St Andrew’s and Edinburgh, accusing the cardinal of engaging in “inappropriate behavior” with them in the 1980s. 

O’Brien at first contested these allegations of sexual misconduct with adults, but in a statement on March 3, issued by the Scottish Catholic Media Office, he openly acknowledged that “there have been times that my sexual conduct has fallen below the standards expected of me as a priest, archbishop and cardinal.”  He apologized to those he had offended and asked their “forgiveness”; he also “apologized” to the Catholic Church and people of Scotland.

“I will now spend the rest of my life in retirement. I will play no further part in the public life of the Catholic Church in Scotland", the cardinal stated then.

In its May 15 statement, the Vatican said that “any decision regarding future arrangements for His Eminence shall be agreed with the Holy See.”  This suggests that the Vatican is keeping its options open regarding his future.  

Deal reached in (KansasCity) Catholic lawsuit

Bill Draper
Associated Press
May 15, 2013

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A lawsuit filed against the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph and Bishop Robert Finn by a girl who was 2 years old when Kansas City priest Shawn Ratigan took pornographic photos of her has tentatively been settled for $600,000, a Minnesota attorney representing the girl said Wednesday.

 Gregg Meyers of the St. Paul, Minn., law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates told The Associated Press about the deal before it had been officially announced. He said it was reached after a full day of mediation between the parties Tuesday, soon after U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner in Kansas City dismissed one of two counts in the suit. Fenner dismissed one count alleging the bishop and diocese aided and abetted Ratigan in his possession of child pornography. The judge said federal law stipulates that to be guilty of aiding and abetting, a party must have done so before or during the commission of a crime. He said the diocese and bishop didn't know about hundreds of lewd photos on Ratigan's laptop computer until after he had committed the crime. He said the diocese and bishop didn't know about hundreds of lewd photos on Ratigan's laptop computer until after he had committed the crime.

 Ratigan pleaded guilty in August to taking pornographic photos of the girl, known as Jane Doe 173 in the litigation, in May 2006 at a church in Buchanan County. He awaits sentencing and initially was a party to the civil lawsuit but failed to respond. The second count, which Fenner allowed to remain, accused the bishop and diocese of receiving, possessing or distributing pornographic images of the girl. Jack Smith, a spokesman for the Kansas City diocese, confirmed the deal but said it still must be approved by a judge because the plaintiff is a minor. "I haven't seen all the terms of the settlement as they were agreed to, but I can confirm $600,000 was the amount," Smith said. He said the deal actually addresses two lawsuits, including one the girl's parents had planned to file in state court this week but won't now that the settlement has been reached. He added that the settlement will be covered by insurance. The Ratigan case shook the local diocese and led to a misdemeanor conviction against Finn for failing to notify police or state child welfare authorities about the photos. Finn's conviction came four years after the church paid $10 million to settle 47 pending sexual abuse claims against the diocese and 12 of its priests. When announcing that deal in 2008, Finn apologized for the abuse that occurred at the hands of current and former clergy members, and promised that steps were being taken to make sure such abuse never happened again.

The diocese posted an update about the 2008 settlement on its website in June 2011 stating that Finn had written 118 letters of apology to plaintiffs or their families. That same month, Finn apologized for not responding to warnings the diocese received a year earlier from a parish elementary school principal detailing suspicious behavior by Ratigan around children. Instead of reading the principal's memo and looking into her claims, Finn left it up to subordinates to handle the matter. He later admitted it was a year before he finally read the five-page document the principal wrote detailing suspicious activities by Ratigan around children. Finn also was informed of nude photos of children found on Ratigan's laptop in December 2010. But instead of turning the photos over to police, Finn sent Ratigan to live at a convent in Independence, Mo. Read more here:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Cardinal Dolan and America's troubled Catholic Church

Anthony Stephens-Arroyo
Washington Post
May 13, 2013

Cardinal Dolan, president of the USCCB, says he needs an “attractive, articulate, intelligent” woman as his personal spokesperson, claiming that “the days of fat, balding Irish bishops are over.”  He has chosen Kim Daniels, a long-time effective advocate of conservative causes,  and ex-personal domestic policy czar to Sarah Palin.   Might one say that Daniels has gone “from Sarah Palin’s brain to Cardinal Dolan’s voice?”   But her promotion also signals that the cardinal as head of the USCCB has had more failures than successes.
This is not to deny Dolan’s talents.  Seldom has Catholic America had a prelate so effective with media.  He uses lunch-pail comparisons to explain even the most complex of church teachings.  He stood up to inquisitorial Catholic right-wingers and invited President Obama to the annual Al Smith Dinner.  But I believe an honest appraisal would show that influence and respect for the USCCB is lower now than when Dolan assumed the office.  These are moments when I think his leadership struck out.
Strike one was in allowing division between Catholic America’s religious sisters and the bishops.  Perhaps he could not have controlled a Vatican investigation into the LCWR, but surely he could have influenced Rome’s maladroit handling.  Moreover, the Nuns-On-the-Bus tour turned into a symbolic civil war with the sisters on one side and the bishops on the other.  Dolan should have known his side would lose because the nuns have always held the warmest spot in Catholic hearts.
Strike two was in silence after the over-the-top comparisons by clerics like the Bishop of Peoria. who compared President Obama to Hitler and by laypersons like the Knights of Columbus’ Supreme Knight Carl Anderson who promoted Catholic resistance to Obama in the spirit of the Mexican Cristeros.  The latter group of Catholics, it will be remembered gathered armed militias against the Mexican government and eventually assassinated a president.  The legal principle here is “Qui tacuit, consentire,” and it means that silence is the same as acquiesce.  This criticism extends to Bishop Finn of Kansas City who was found guilty of violating civil law and his own policy against pedophile clerics.  By going easier on Catholic males than on the religious women battling for social justice on economic matters, Dolan widened the deepening rifts in Catholic America.
Strike three was allowing the Fortnight to Freedom to become identified with politicking for Mitt Romney.  This effort had been spawned in the murky dark places of the Manhattan Declaration with obvious partisan intent.  Tacking on the current immigration law as another instance of “religious persecution” was not enough to dislodge the public perception that the Fortnight was intended to instruct Catholics to vote for Republicans.  This alliance with evangelicals was unfruitful.  The original evangelical partners were a questionable crew embracing entrepreneurial pastors who raise fabulous amounts of money for partisan causes.  Our Catholic tradition, however, obliges bishops to pastoral roles.  When the bishops jumped into the same barrel with the right-wing pastors they diminished Catholic tradition.  Dolan should have seen this coming. (Let me classify this as a “foul ball” so that the cardinal gets another swing.)
The last strike was in undercutting the policy of a full committee of the USCCB with contradictory statements by individual bishops.  After the Social Justice Committee of the USCCB had condemned the Paul Ryan budgetCardinal Dolan and Madison Bishop Robert Morlino rejected the conclusion that Ryan’s plan was outside Catholic teaching.  Given new life, Ryan quickly dismissed his episcopal critics as “not all the bishops”  happily trivializing the USCCB committee structure with his quip.
Once you break the code yourself, you give others license to do the same.  Thus, while Dolan stated the need to consider more carefully the Obama remedy to the HHS mandate on February 2, 2013,  Philadelphia’s Archbishop Chaput issued a statement on February 4, 2013 that jumped the gun, claiming total rejection came from “courage that gives prudence spine and results in right action, whatever the cost.”  Two days later, Dolan said “me too.”  
I consider it appalling that the president of the USCCB needs a personal spokesperson in addition to the USCCB’s resident Sister Mary Ann Walsh.  Ensuring division among bishops to promote the influence of an individual cleric is never good.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Cardinal O'Brien told to return red hat

Jason Allerdyce
The Sunday Times (UK)
May 12, 2013

CARDINAL Keith O’Brien is coming under pressure to return his red hat to the Vatican and resign from the College of Cardinals.

According to some senior Catholics, O’Brien’s retention of the title and his determination to stay in Scotland after admitting to sexually inappropriate behaviour with priests is damaging the church.

Michael Kelly, a former Celtic director and lord provost of Glasgow, said O’Brien had let down his parishioners and that, by remaining as a cardinal and retiring in Scotland, he was making it difficult for the church to move on.

Confirming his intention to retire quietly in Dunbar, East Lothian, O’Brien, who resigned as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh earlier this year, said that he had received support from people who accepted he was sorry for the offence he had caused.

It was reported last week that he has been advised by the Vatican to leave Scotland, after an appeal for action by Scotland’s Catholic leadership, although this has not been confirmed.

Kelly said O’Brien must do penance. “In these circumstances three Hail Marys and a Glory Be is not enough,” he said. “I would have thought that for the good of the church, and for his own good, that he should choose to live abroad for a couple of years, not a lifetime exile. Certainly he should have resigned from the College of Cardinals.

“He has said he is sorry, he wants to repent and he has asked people to forgive him. Well, it’s such a serious matter — not in terms of the homosexuality but in terms of the hypocrisy, having misled his parishioners and the people of Scotland for so long, preaching one thing and doing another. I think that’s just too serious to say, ‘Let’s just draw a line under it because he has said he is sorry.’ ”

Another senior church source agreed, saying O’Brien’s presence was causing “exasperation and frustration” and suggested he follow the example of other disgraced priests who left the country in the 1990s.

However, others argue that O’Brien continues to be held in high regard by many and has been punished enough.

Margo MacDonald, MSP, said forcing O’Brien to leave Scotland would show “a lack of charity”.

Cardinal O’Brien was not available for comment.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Statements of New Jersey dioceses regarding Newark's Fr. Michael Fugee

While the Newark archdiocese first denied and then minimized the fact that Fr. Michael Fugee violated agreements to not have access to children, neighboring dioceses are reacting with alarm to finding out that he, unknown to them, participated in youth ministry activities.


Without any foreknowledge or approval of the Paterson Diocese, Fr. Michael Fugee, a priest of the Newark Archdiocese, engaged in ministry with youth in the Diocese of Paterson. This happened, as far as we now know, on one occasion several years ago at a retreat house in the diocese while with a group from a parish of the Trenton Diocese. He was under a restriction not to do so without proper supervision from the Archdiocese of Newark and legal authorities. The first awareness that diocesan leadership had concerning these activities of Fathr Fugee wthin the diocese came from the most recent media accounts.

If anyone has any information about inappropriate behavior on the part of Father Fugee, please notify your County Prosecutor's Office. Please also inform the diocese by contacting Monsignor James T. Mahoney, Vicar General and Moderator of the Curia (973-777-8818, ext. 205) or Sister Mary Edward Spohrer, S.C.C., Chancellor (973-777-8818, ext. 248).


We have recently confirmed that a serious breach of compliance with our child protection policies has taken place in one of our parishes. As a result, Father Michael Fugee, a priest of the Archdiocese of Newark, who would not have been given clearance to minister in this diocese if procedures had been followed, was present among some of our youth during several parish events.

It is important to remind everyone throughout Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth and Ocean Counties of the Diocese’s policies and processes that have been in place to keep children and youth safe in our parishes, schools and other agencies. To review these policies, visit We again urge anyone who has been sexually abused as a minor by a member of the clergy or another representative of the Catholic Church, or anyone who knows of someone who was, to report that abuse through the diocesan Abuse Hotline.

To report sexual abuse of minors call our hotline 1-888-296-2965

or contact us at

Please note: All allegations are reported by the Diocese to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

After rebuke by archbishop, Cardinal Mahony takes higher profile

Teresa Wattanabe and Harriet Ryan
Los Angeles Times
May 9, 2013

When Archbishop Jose Gomez stripped his predecessor, Cardinal Roger Mahony, of public duties for mishandling clergy sex abuse cases, a church spokesman said the retired prelate's life would remain largely the same with one exception: confirmations.

No longer would Mahony preside at springtime rites in which teenagers receive the sacrament that marks full passage into the Catholic Church, the spokesman said.

But three months later, Mahony is back doing confirmations. Since Easter, he has officiated at eight services, including one last week in which he anointed more than 120 youths at a Wilmington parish.

His presence has caused controversy, with some parents threatening to pull their children from the liturgies and at least one parish priest asking that Mahony not attend. It has also raised questions about why Gomez's rebuke of Mahony, an unprecedented move that won him praise from victims and their supporters around the world, had so little lasting effect.

Gomez's January letter to the region's more than 4 million Catholics seemed to rule out any conspicuous place for Mahony in the archdiocese. Noting that the cardinal had "expressed his sorrow for his failure to fully protect young people entrusted to his care, " Gomez told the faithful, "Effective immediately, I have informed Cardinal Mahony that he will no longer have any administrative or public duties."

Rather than recede from the spotlight, however, Mahony has become more prominent. The March papal conclave made him an important figure in a major international story, a position he touted with frequent posts on Twitter and his personal blog. Since his return from Rome, he has advocated immigration reform, his signature issue, and embarked upon what some in the church are calling a "rehabilitation tour" to tell his side of the abuse story to fellow priests. The speeches have played to mixed reviews, with some clerics saying he has a right to defend his record and others all but rolling their eyes.

Under canon law, Gomez had no authority to punish Mahony — only the pope can sanction a cardinal — but he does control administrative assignments in his archdiocese, including the confirmation schedule, and his letter signaled a desire to use that power to limit Mahony's visibility.

"What he said [in the letter] was, 'I'm no longer going to let him act publicly on behalf of me,'" said Nicholas P. Cafardi, a canon law specialist at Duquesne University. In light of the confirmations, he said, "You can certainly deduce that [Gomez] has changed his mind."

Gomez declined to comment. A spokeswoman said it was Mahony who had canceled his confirmation schedule in January and Mahony who opted to resume it. The cardinal declined to respond to questions posed through the spokeswoman.


At Sts. Peter and Paul in Wilmington, Jerry Zatarain said he and his wife had different reactions to Mahony confirming their son. "My wife didn't feel too good about it," said the Los Angeles public safety officer. "She said, 'Oh no, what is he doing here?' She wanted someone else." But Zatarain said he felt Mahony's mistakes were a product of the era, not the man. "During that time the church was different — it was just the culture," he said.

Conflicting signals about Mahony's status began almost immediately after Gomez released his letter on the archdiocese's website.


Within hours, a church's spokesman was phoning journalists with a clarification: Mahony remained "a priest in good standing" with full rights to celebrate Mass and the sacraments.

Still, he would not preside at confirmations, the spokesman said.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Vatican official: reporting on rift over sisters 'precise'

Joshua McElwee
National Catholic Reporter
May 8, 2013

A cardinal has dismissed claims from the Vatican that remarks he made to NCR about a controversial 2012 criticism of U.S. Catholic sisters were misinterpreted, saying he backs NCR's report as "very precise." Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, head of the Vatican's Congregation for Religious, said Sunday he had no knowledge of the April 2012 criticism of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) that the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith made.

The Vatican press office issued a statement Tuesday saying media commentary inaccurately reported the cardinal's remarks by indicating a split between the congregations.

Braz de Aviz has led the Vatican's Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life since 2011. As first reported by NCR, he was commenting on an action from the Vatican's doctrinal congregation under the leadership of U.S. Cardinal William Levada, who has since retired from the post.


NCR reported the cardinal as saying Sunday: "We are in a moment" where the ideas of "obedience and authority must be renewed, revisioned."

"Authority that commands, kills. Obedience that becomes a copy of what the other person says infantilizes," NCR reported him as saying.

Braz de Aviz said Wednesday, "The matter on obedience, that part was OK. But the question on authority, that translation was not accurate. I was trying to stress that authority cannot be domination."


In his remarks at the gathering of the International Union of Superiors General on Monday, Braz de Aviz said his office -- which is tasked with overseeing the work of an estimated 1.5 million sisters, brothers and priests around the world in religious orders -- first learned of the move against the U.S. sisters' group in a meeting with the doctrinal congregation after the formal report on the matter had been completed

At that meeting, Braz de Aviz said, he told Levada that the matter should have been discussed between the Vatican offices.

The Vatican's statement Tuesday said some reporting on the cardinal's comments had "suggested a divergence" between the two Vatican offices.

"Such an interpretation of the Cardinal's remarks is not justified," the statement, which was released in English, continued. "The Prefects of these two Congregations work closely together according to their specific responsibilities."


full article at National Catholic Reporter