Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Vatican bank launches website

Lizzie Davies
The Guardian
July 31, 2013

It may seem a small step, but for an institution that has long clothed itself in secrecy it is billed as a giant leap. The Vatican bank has unveiled its own website.( at

As it battles internal strife, external criticism and existential threat, the establishment officially known as the Institute for Religious Works (IOR) says it hopes the new portal will boost transparency and improve its dialogue with customers and the public.

Visitors to the site can read about the bank's 71-year history, how many customers it has (18,900, as of last year), its employees (114), and its net profit for 2012, listed as €86.6m (£75.6m).

Opening hours and governance structure are also detailed, including the role of Monsignor Battista Ricca, the prelate chosen by Pope Francis to observe reforms, and around whom allegations of scandal brewed earlier this month.

Later this year the bank's annual report is expected to be put on the site, the first time it has published its accounts.

Ernst von Freyberg, the bank's president, said the site would be a key tool in keeping the outside world up to date on the progress of internal reforms at the institution, particularly regarding its attempts to comply with the EU's anti-money laundering requirements.

"It is an important part of transparency to launch a website," he told Vatican Radio, adding that its purpose was "to tell our customers, the church, the interested public what we are doing, how our reform efforts are progressing and what the scope of our work is".

Francis has made clear that he wants reform of the IOR and has refused to rule out its eventual closure. Last month he set up a commission to review its internal workings in an attempt to oversee a "greater harmonisation" between its activities and the wider Roman Catholic church.

Soon after, the bank's director and deputy director resigned following the arrest of a high-ranking cleric with close ties with the Vatican's financial activities. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano is under investigation by police in two separate cases, one involving allegations of money laundering, which he denies, and the other an aborted plot to bring €20m euro illegally to Italy. His lawyers acknowledge his participation in the plot, but deny allegations of corruption. His two Vatican bank accounts have been frozen.

Financial transparency: now it's the bishops' turn

Giorgio Bernardelli
Vatican Insider
July 31, 2013

All it took was one day and both Archbishop of Ljubljana Anton Stres and the Archbishop of Maribor Marjan Turnsek were out of the picture: Today Francis accepted both their resignations in accordance with paragraph 2 of Canon 401 of the Code of Canon Law, which states: “A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.” The Vatican’s decision to wave goodbye to the archbishops of two of Slovenia’s six Catholic dioceses, after reports of financial mismanagement, is a very serious one indeed. And it comes after Benedict XVI accepted Archbishop Franc Kramberger’s resignation on 3 February 2011, in accordance with the abovementioned paragraph of Canon law. Kramberger preceded Turnsek’s as Archbishop of Maribor.

In this case, the Vatican provision applies to financial problems in Archdiocese of Maribor, where the 70 year old Archbishop of Ljubljana, Anton Stres, was auxiliary bishop for a few years. A scandal exploded in 2010, when the Holy See sent an Apostolic Visitor to Slovenia after Rome had received a series of unusual requests regarding some loans that had been granted. A rather embarrassing picture emerged: the archdiocese had made massive losses of 800 million Euros which had been invested in a chain of failing businesses, including a nationwide TV network known for its variety of porn channels. This is why Benedict XVI accepted former archbishop Kramberger’s resignation. But as the various different pieces of the jigsaw came together, it became clear that financial mismanagement in the diocese had in fact begun in 2003 if not earlier and Mgrs Stres and Turnsek were greatly to blame. Stres had been appointed Archbishop of Ljubljana in 2009 and former coadjutor archbishop Mgr. Turnsek, 58, succeeded Mgr. Kramberger. This is the background to today’s resignations.

The Holy See Press Office announced the news and Archbishop Stres gave a press conference in Ljubljana, stating he had been informed of Francis’ request for him to give up the leadership of Slovenia’s largest Episcopal see, last 29 April. The archbishop accepted the request, claiming he had never denied his responsibility in the Maribor affair. “I hope and pray to God that this step I have taken will help restore credibility to the Slovenian Church, as it deserves it,” Stres said in a statement. A similar statement was issued by Archbishop Turnsek: “I have done my best to deal with the situation but was not able to for various reasons.”

Looking beyond the Archdiocese of Maribor case, the question which arises is whether Francis’ tough crack down on financial behaviour in the Church will extend from the Vatican Bank (IOR) to dioceses across the world. In Cameroon, the resignation of the 66 year old Archbishop of Yaoundé, Simon-Victor Tonyé Bakot, has also been causing quite a stir. Bakot was formerly president of the country’s bishops’ Conference. Francis accepted his resignation on Monday, in line with paragraph 2 of Canon 401. As always the Holy See has not divulged the reasons for this. But a news article on the archbishop’s resignation published yesterday in the French section of the Vatican Radio website, indirectly hinted at finances being the cause. The article roughly reads: “According to the Cameroon press, Mgr. Bakot is allegedly involved in a number of property-related operations. Various members of the clergy and faithful have spoken out against this and against his management of the diocese’s land. They also complain about the ethnically influenced positions he often takes. The Jeune Afrique (Africa’s leading news magazine, Ed.) website claims that the diocese of Yaoundé possesses the largest amount of real estate property in the country, after the State, but still faces serious debt problems.”

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The "reform of the reform" is over

Mark Silk
Spiritual Politics
July 29, 2013

The take-away from Pope Francis’ trip to Brazil is that the efforts of John Paul II and Benedict XVI to reverse the course of the Second Vatican Council have come to an end. Francis’s papacy, it is now clear, will be about the Restoration of the Reform.

The key evidence for this can be found in his two addresses to church leaders, the first to the bishops of Brazil (BB) on Saturday, the second yesterday to the leadership of the Council of Bishops’ Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean (CELAM). The message to the bishops was engage the world, open up the church, and listen to the laity — all central themes of Vatican II.

Francis insisted that the church adapt to dealing with the world in all its diversity.

The scenarios and the areopagi involved are quite varied. For example, a single city can contain various collective imaginations which create “different cities.” If we remain within the parameters of our “traditional culture,” which was essentially rural, we will end up nullifying the power of the Holy Spirit.” (BB)

For that reason, he sharply criticized the “Pelagian” temptation to restore that traditional culture.

In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary “safety.” Basically it is static, although it is capable of inversion, in a process of regression. It seeks to “recover” the lost past. (CELAM)

Against such an impulse to turn back the clock, Francis warned, “Let us not reduce the involvement of women in the Church, but instead promote their active role in the ecclesial community.” (BB)

Just as the church needs to recognize diversity in the world, so it should embrace diversity within itself: “The Church in Brazil needs more than a national leader; it needs a network of regional ‘testimonies’ which speak the same language and in every place ensure not unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity.” (BB)

Rather than pumping up the authority of the episcopal magisterium, Francis extolled the laity as a source of spiritual power and insight.

In practice, do we make the lay faithful sharers in the Mission? Do we offer them the word of God and the sacraments with a clear awareness and conviction that the Holy Spirit makes himself manifest in them? (BB) The Bishop has to be among his people in three ways: in front of them, pointing the way; among them, keeping them together and preventing them from being scattered; and behind them, ensuring that no one is left behind, but also, and primarily, so that the flock itself can sniff out new paths. (CELAM)

Francis expressed his world view in a striking slap at a man beatified by Benedict three years ago, telling the Brazilian bishops, “Before all else, we must not yield to the fear once expressed by Blessed John Henry Newman: “… the Christian world is gradually becoming barren and effete, as land which has been worked out and is become sand.” The Latin American pope wants no part of this 19th-century anxiety, widely shared today by contemporary Catholic traditionalists of the northern hemisphere.

To be sure, Francis did not omit to offer some conventional warnings about temptations at the progressive end of the Catholic spectrum — of Marxist categorization, of turning the church into another NGO, of psychologizing the faith. But nothing in what he told the bishops suggested anything like his predecessors’ fear of leftist barbarians within the gates.

In an interview with NCR’s John Allen last week, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia allowed as how “the right wing of the church…generally have not been really happy about his election.” After Rio, they’ve got to be even less happy. The Spirit of Vatican II is back.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Francis calls for inclusion of gays in society, saying he has no right to judge

Elizabeth Tenety
Washington Post
July 29, 2013

In another act of the kind of humble outreach that has marked the early months of his papacy, Pope Francis called on Monday for the integration of gays into society, remarking that even as leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics, he has no right to “judge” gay people.

“If they accept the Lord and have goodwill, who am I to judge them? They shouldn’t be marginalized,” Francis said during his first news conference, a wide-ranging and candid back-and-forth that took place aboard his flight back to Rome from World Youth Day in Brazil.

The comments, which were greeted with particular enthusiasm by gay and liberal Catholics, were in response to journalists’ questions about allegations of corruption within a “gay lobby” of priests at the Vatican.

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby,” Francis said, according to a transcript of the remarks published by the National Catholic Reporter. He added that “the tendency [to homosexuality] is not the problem . . . they’re our brothers.”

While many commentators pointed out that nothing that Francis said changed church teaching on homosexuality, many also saw a consequential shift in tone that focused on God’s mercy for sinners, rather than the sin.

The news conference marked the first time that Francis had addressed controversial social issues such as homosexuality during his papacy. Although he had called on Catholics to show “great respect for [gay] people,” Pope Benedict XVI, Francis’s predecessor, also oversaw the publication of a church document that called homosexual inclinations “disordered” and called for men with “deep-seated” gay tendencies to be barred from the priesthood.

Although Francis also commented on the role of women in the church, the Vatican Bank and numerous other topics both high-profile and more pedestrian during the news conference, his remarks on homosexuality generally and gay priests in particular set off a stream of reaction by Catholics.

“Pope Francis’s brief comment on gays reveals great mercy,” said the Rev. James Martin, an influential Catholic commentator. “That mercy, of course, comes from Jesus Christ. And we can never have enough of it. The pope’s remarks also are in line with the catechism, which teaches that gays should be treated with ‘respect, compassion and sensitivity.’ ”

Chad C. Pecknold, an assistant professor of theology at Catholic University who has written on the papacy, said that “people are right to perceive a change in tone and that that tone is a pastoral tone on the question of homosexual inclinations.”

“Many people recognize that Pope Benedict was a professor pope, that he was teaching theology, and that Pope Francis is emphasizing the pastoral office more strongly than Benedict did.”

Pecknold noted that during the news conference, Francis said he did not mention abortion or gay marriage before his trip to Brazil because he wanted to sound “positive.”

Rather than “beginning the conversation with what the church teaches about what one shouldn’t do,” Pecknold said, Francis “wants to begin the conversation about what it means to enter into the mercy of God.”

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Francis message: bishops and priests should not 'infantilize' lay faithful

Andrea Tornielli
Vatican Insider
July 28, 2013

In his speech to the Coordinating Committee of CELAM, the Pope talked about the temptation of clericalism and asked pastors to be poor and merciful

Francis concluded his trip to Brazil with another wide-ranging speech to the coordinating committee of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM). But Francis’ words will most certainly resonate beyond the Latin American continent.

The Pope asked bishops to give a missionary slant to the daily activities of local Churches, explaining that the “change of structures” (from obsolete ones to new ones) will not be the result of reviewing an organizational flow chart” but will “result from the very dynamics of mission.” Francis recalled that the general assembly of Latin American bishops at Aparecida in 2007 had presented “pastoral conversion” as a “necessity”. The Pope then asked bishops to reflect on some questions with regard to the current state of the Church: “Do we see to it that our work, and that of our priests, is more pastoral than administrative? Who primarily benefits from our efforts, the Church as an organization or the People of God as a whole?”

The questions then focused specifically on the laity and their role in the Church: “In practice, do we make the lay faithful sharers in the Mission?” As pastors, bishops and priests are we conscious and convinced of the mission of the lay faithful and do we give them the freedom to continue discerning, in a way befitting their growth as disciples, the mission which the Lord has entrusted to them? Do we support them and accompany them, overcoming the temptation to manipulate them or infantilize them?” His words portray the picture of the Church’s current situation in a number of countries, European ones too.

Speaking of the importance of the Church engaging in dialogue with the world around it, Francis referred to what was said at the Second Vatican Council to explain the basis of dialogue with contemporary society: “The joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the people of our time, especially of those who are poor or afflicted, are the joys and hopes, the grief and anguish of the followers of Christ as well.” The Church needs to be aware of the varied “scenarios and the areopagi involved.” “If we remain within the parameters of our “traditional culture” which was essentially rural, we will end up nullifying the power of the Holy Spirit. God is everywhere: we have to know how to find him in order to be able to proclaim him in the language of each and every culture; every reality, every language, has its own rhythm.”

Francis then spoke of the “temptations” that steer people away from being missionaries. The first is making the message of the Gospel an ideology. The Pope listed four ways of doing this: “sociological reductionism” which “involves an interpretative claim based on a hermeneutics drawn from the social sciences … from market liberalism to Marxist categorization”; psychologising “based on an elitist hermeneutics which ultimately reduces the “encounter with Jesus Christ” and its development to a process of growing self-awareness”; the Gnostic solution “ordinarily found in elite groups offering a higher spirituality, generally disembodied. Its adherents are generally known as “enlightened Catholics”. Finally the Pope mentioned the Pelagian solution which “appears as a form of restorationism.” “In dealing with the Church’s problems, a purely disciplinary solution is sought, through the restoration of outdated manners and forms which, even on the cultural level, are no longer meaningful. In Latin America it is usually to be found in small groups, in some new religious congregations, in tendencies to doctrinal or disciplinary “safety”.”

Francis referred to two more temptations: “functionalism” and “clericalism”. The “functionalist approach has no room for mystery; it aims at efficiency” “It reduces the reality of the Church to the structure of an NGO. What counts are quantifiable results and statistics. The Church ends up being run like any other business organization. Clericalism, on the other hand, “has to do with a sinful complicity: the priest clericalizes the lay person and the lay person kindly asks to be clericalized, because deep down it is easier ... Clericalism explains, in great part, the lack of maturity and Christian freedom in a good part of the Latin American laity.” Francis pointed to the autonomy of the laity as “on the whole is a healthy thing, basically expressed through popular piety.” Clericalism is being overcome thanks to bible study groups and ecclesial basic communities.

After warning against a “utopian” vision of the future or a “restorationist” vision of the past, the Pope explained that “God is real and he shows himself in the “today”.” When the Church “makes herself a “centre”, she becomes merely functional, and slowly but surely turns into a kind of NGO. The Church then claims to have a light of her own … She becomes increasingly self-referential and loses her need to be missionary.” She “ends up being an administrator; from being a servant, she becomes an “inspector”.” “There are pastoral plans designed with such a dose of distance that they are incapable of sparking an encounter ... [They] give priority to principles, forms of conduct, organizational procedures … and clearly lack nearness, tenderness, a warm touch. They do not take into account the “revolution of tenderness” brought by the incarnation of the Word.” The Pope sees homilies as a “touchstone for measuring whether a pastoral plan embodies nearness and a capacity for encounter.” “Do we imitate the example of our Lord, who spoke “as one with authority”, or are they simply moralizing, detached, abstract?” the Pope asked.

The Pope ended his speech to CELAM’s coordinating committee, with a reference to his speech to Nuncios last June. He stressed that “bishops must be pastors, close to the people.” They must be “patient and merciful.” They must “love poverty, both interior poverty and exterior poverty, as simplicity and austerity of life” and must be “men who do not think and behave like “princes”” or that are “ambitious."

Pope draws 3M for vigil after chastising 'exodus'

[Among other areas,it is instructive to consider the new translation of the Roman missal imposed on the English speaking world in light of Pope Francis' statements below.]

The Associated Press
Kansas City Star
July 28, 2013

Pope Francis drew a reported 3 million flag-waving, rosary-toting faithful to Rio's Copacabana beach on Saturday for the final evening of World Youth Day, hours after he chastised the Brazilian church for failing to stem the "exodus" of Catholics to evangelical congregations.


The vigil capped a busy day for the pope in which he drove home a message he has emphasized throughout the week in speeches, homilies and off-the-cuff remarks: the need for Catholics, lay and religious, to shake up the status quo, get out of their stuffy sacristies and reach the faithful on the margins of society or risk losing them to rival churches.

In the longest and most important speech of his four-month pontificate, Francis took a direct swipe at the "intellectual" message of the church that so characterized the pontificate of his predecessor, Benedict XVI. Speaking to Brazil's bishops, he said ordinary Catholics simply don't understand such lofty ideas and need to hear the simpler message of love, forgiveness and mercy that is at the core of the Catholic faith.

"At times we lose people because they don't understand what we are saying, because we have forgotten the language of simplicity and import an intellectualism foreign to our people," he said. "Without the grammar of simplicity, the church loses the very conditions which make it possible to fish for God in the deep waters of his mystery."

In a speech outlining the kind of church he wants, Francis asked bishops to reflect on why hundreds of thousands of Catholics have left the church for Protestant and Pentecostal congregations that have grown exponentially in recent decades in Brazil, particularly in its slums or favelas, where their charismatic message and nuts-and-bolts advice is welcome by the poor.

According to census data, the number of Catholics in Brazil dipped from 125 million in 2000 to 123 million in 2010, with the church's share of the total population dropping from 74 percent to 65 percent. During the same time period, the number of evangelical Protestants and Pentecostals skyrocketed from 26 million to 42 million, increasing from 15 percent to 22 percent of the population in 2010.

Francis offered a breathtakingly blunt list of explanations for the "exodus."

"Perhaps the church appeared too weak, perhaps too distant from their needs, perhaps too poor to respond to their concerns, perhaps too cold, perhaps too caught up with itself, perhaps a prisoner of its own rigid formulas," he said. "Perhaps the world seems to have made the church a relic of the past, unfit for new questions. Perhaps the church could speak to people in their infancy but not to those come of age."

Francis asked if the church today can still "warm the hearts" of its faithful with priests who take time to listen to their problems and remain close to them.

"We need a church capable of rediscovering the maternal womb of mercy," he said. "Without mercy, we have little chance nowadays of becoming part of a world of 'wounded' persons in need of understanding, forgiveness and love."


"We cannot keep ourselves shut up in parishes, in our communities when so many people are waiting for the Gospel!" Francis said in his homily Saturday. "It's not enough simply to open the door in welcome, but we must go out through that door to seek and meet the people."

Francis' target audience is the poor and the marginalized — the people that history's first pope from Latin America has highlighted on this first trip of his pontificate. He has visited one of Rio's most violent slum areas, met with juvenile offenders and drug addicts and welcomed in a place of honor 35 garbage collectors from his native Argentina.


read full article at Kansas City Star

Friday, July 26, 2013

Schüller: Popular support provides freedom to speak without condemnation

Robert McClory
National Catholic Reporter
July 26, 2013

As Fr. Helmut Schüller travels the United States, the question that puzzles many is how he and other leaders of the "Appeal to Disobedience" movement escape condemnation if not excommunication by the bishops of Austria. Schüller, head of the Austrian Priests' Initiative, speaks candidly about the need for a "new image of the priesthood," which would be open to women and married persons. He sees no reason to deny Communion to divorced and remarried persons and members of other Christian churches. And his organization advocates that every parish have a leader (man or woman, married or single) who would preside at the Eucharist in order to avoid the consolidation or closing of churches. Yet Schüller has so far escaped censure (except for the removal of his title as monsignor). He remains an active priest in good standing in his native Vienna diocese.

At a dinner sponsored by Call to Action the evening before his talk Wednesday in Chicago, Schüller provided some answers to the question. To understand Austrian Catholicism, he said, you have to go back to the turmoil of the 16th and 17th centuries, when the Habsburg rulers imposed the Catholic faith on all Austrian citizens, forcing conversions and expelling non-Catholic clergy from the country.

"This experience of repression," he said, "sowed a lack of confidence" in the hierarchy. "Suspicion and criticism" among the laity has remained a characteristic of the Austrian church to this day, he said.

"On the surface there may be peace and sweetness, but beneath, there is an historic burden we carry," Schüller said.

However, the reforms of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) greatly encouraged Austrian Catholics, and they readily backed the council initiatives under the leadership of Cardinal Franz König, archbishop of Vienna and a powerful force at the council itself. Like the Netherlands under the leadership of Cardinal Bernard Alfrink, Austria moved forward on collegiality and lay leadership. The new age ended abruptly in 1986, when König resigned and was succeeded not by a like-minded prelate but by a staunch conservative, Cardinal Hans Hermann Groër.

"The church was turned around," Schüller said. Groër's auxiliary bishop, Kurt Krenn, handled much of the scuttling of Vatican II initiatives. Groër was forced to resign in 1995 because of serious allegations of child abuse. Krenn, who moved on to head another Austrian diocese, was also forced to resign in 2004 when he was found in possession of thousands of pornographic photos and films.

The current Viennese archbishop, Christoph Schonbörn, has muted much of the heavy-handed repression of his predecessor but is no advocate of reform himself.

"I believe he is following the advice of Gamaliel," Schüller said. Gamaliel, the Pharisee mentioned in the Acts of the Apostles, advised Jewish leaders to refrain from harsh measures, saying, "If this movement is merely human, it will collapse of its own accord. But if it should be from God, you cannot stop them."

No bishop in Austria speaks against the Austrian Priests' Initiative in their diocesan papers or from the pulpit. "They don't dare because of the popular support we have," Schüller said. "They're afraid to go against two-thirds of their readers."

There is also a very practical, financial aspect to this hierarchical silence. If bishops were to crack down on this reform movement, Schüller said, many angry and suspicious Catholics would join those who have already declared themselves publicly as "non-confessing" church members, becoming exempt from paying the portion of their income tax that goes to the church. On a large scale, such noncooperation would have disastrous effects on church operations throughout Austria. Schüller said such a meltdown could spread to Germany as well, where relations between hierarchy and laity are also strained.

So Schüller proceeds calmly and comfortably, speaking wherever he is invited on the benefits of disobedience. His immediate goal, he said, is to raise a critical mass of Roman Catholic priests throughout the world to overcome their fears and speak the truth.

Vatican prelate accused of trying to smuggle €20m appeals to pope for help

Lizzie Davies
The Guardian (UK)
July 26, 2013

Even as he tours the favelas and beaches of Brazil, Pope Francis may find it difficult to forget what is going on back home.

On Thursday, a prelate accused of attempting to smuggle €20m (£17m) into Italy from Switzerland appealed directly to the pontiff, insisting on his innocence and accusing his lay bosses in the Vatican's asset management arm of abusive activities which he said were covered up by some cardinals.

In a letter written from the Regina Coeli (Queen of Heaven) prison in Rome, where he has been detained since his arrest with two others on 28 June, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano told Francis: "I have never laundered dirty money; I have never stolen. I tried to help someone who asked for help."

In the missive, written last week and released by his lawyers, he added: "The documentation in my possession proves my honesty and my battles against the abuse of my secular superiors, protected by some senior cardinals."

He also accused some of his superiors of blackmailing and manipulating the cardinals concerned, Reuters reported.

Until recently Scarano – dubbed "Monsignor 500" by the Italian media for his taste in high-denomination euro notes – occupied a senior position in the Vatican's asset management arm, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.

But he was suspended after being placed under investigation in a separate affair involving allegations of money laundering, which he also denies.

On Friday, before setting off for Brazil, Francis announced he was setting up a commission to look into the reform of the Vatican's administrative and economic structure. But his spokesman, Federico Lombardi, told reporters Francis had not seen Scarano's letter before his departure.

Lombardi announced on 12 July that two of Scarano's accounts at the scandal-plagued Vatican bank – the Institute for Religious Works, which Francis is also planning to reform – had been frozen.

Archbishop Allen Vigneron bans liberal priest speech from Westland church

Patricia Montemurri and Niraj Warikoo
Detroit Free Press
July 26, 2013

Detroit Catholic Archbishop Allen Vigneron has banned an Austrian priest from speaking at a Westland Catholic parish today because the Rev. Helmut Schüller advocates allowing women and married men to be priests, in opposition to current church teaching.

Schüller was scheduled to speak at SS. Simon and Jude parish in Westland. But instead, his address, which is free and open to the public, will be held at Wayne Memorial High School. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the 7 p.m. talk.

Schüller was also banned from speaking in Catholic churches in other areas of the U.S.

Speaking to the Free Press on Thursday, Schüller criticized Catholic leaders in Detroit and other cities for banning him from church property, saying that it reflects the very problem he’s trying to highlight — a leadership out of touch with the people.

“It reflects an old-fashioned system,” Schüller said by phone from Cleveland, where he was to speak Thursday night. “It’s behavior I cannot understand.”

Schüller said such actions show a “lack of respect for the ability of people to decide for themselves and make up their own mind.”

“It irritates me,” he said.

Last year, the Vatican stripped Schüller of the title “monsignor” because of his activism. Yet, he remains a working priest in Austria, where he teaches at a Catholic university.

The Austrian priest is touring 15 U.S. cities. Last week, he was banned from speaking at a Boston parish by Cardinal Sean O’Malley, and he was banned in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia because his views contradict Catholic teachings, according to published reports. Before he arrives in Detroit, Schüller was scheduled to speak in Philadelphia, Baltimore, Chicago and Cleveland at non-Catholic facilities. Schüller’s tour is being sponsored by several Catholic reform advocacy groups.

Archdiocese of Detroit spokesman Joe Kohn said Vigneron became aware of Schüller’s visit because of phone complaints the archdiocese received. Kohn said Vigneron’s decision was communicated in early July to SS. Simon and Jude pastor, the Rev. Gerry Bechard. Bechard did not return phone calls or e-mails for comment.

“What (Schüller) teaches is not in harmony with Catholic Church teachings in regard to women priests,” Kohn said. “We did receive a few calls when it was made known.”

Kohn said there are no prohibitions against Catholics discussing such issues, but “it was deemed that what he has preached on in the past is not in alliance with Catholic Church teaching.”

But Schüller said that the Catholic Church’s ban on women and married priests is a church order that can be lifted. It’s not an inherent part of the teachings of the Catholic Church, whose positions have varied over the centuries, he said. Church leaders “make a mistake” when they say these are “the teachings of the church.”

Regarding the new pope, Schüller said he is hopeful, but was disappointed that he has not spoken up in favor of nuns in the U.S. who have been accused by some Vatican officials of being too liberal.

“There were some signals of hope” from the new pope, but “also things which irritated us.”

Liberal American Catholics have warmly received Schüller.

Despite being barred from church property in Boston, more than 600 people packed a Unitarian church on July 17 to hear him speak, according to a report by the Religion News Service. The crowd was so big that it “spilled out onto the church lawn,” the story said.

On Monday night, Schüller drew an overflow crowd to a Lutheran Church in Washington, D.C., to hear him speak, said Will Donahue. And Wednesday night, about 500 heard Schüller’s message at a building in Chicago that used to be a Catholic high school.

The crowd was “very enthusiastic,” said Bob Heineman, a Catholic who helped coordinate the event.

Schüller’s message resonates with many Catholics, Heineman said, because “the time is right” for reform. He criticized leaders like Vigneron and others for banning Schüller from church property, and not allowing priests to interact with him.

“The priests are afraid” to meet with Schüller, Heineman said.

For his Detroit talk Schüller was scheduled to be welcomed by Sister Chris Schenk, a Catholic nun with Future Church, a reform group. Schenk, associate director of the group, said the prohibition against Schüller’s speaking at Catholic facilities “is very sad.”

“We shouldn’t be prohibited from speaking about the main problems in the church,” Schenk said.

Schüller said his message is that lay people should stand up and get active in their church to reform it.

He’s worried that Catholic leaders “are losing contact with the ground (reality) of the society.”

“Speak out clearly,” he urged lay Catholics. “We should take care of our church. ...We should be responsible for its future.”

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The deception unveiled, Francis "will know what to do"

Sandro Magister

ROME, July 25, 2013 – It is enough these days to enter the offices of the Institute for Works of Religion to understand how flimsy the argument is that has been advanced in defense of Monsignor Battista Ricca, the prelate of the IOR whose scandalous past has been revealed by L'Espresso:


According to Ricca's defenders - very active both inside and outside of the Vatican - by striking him the "old guard" of the curia is trying to block the rehabilitation of the "pope's bank."

But the facts say the opposite. With or without the prelate, the remediation of the accounts and apparatus of the IOR is moving forward at an accelerated pace.


The affair of Monsignor Ricca is a case in point of the weeds that pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio wants to uproot from the Vatican curia.

Against homosexuals who live in chastity, including priests, bishops, cardinals, there is no preconceived hostility whatsoever in the Church, so much so that, in tranquility, a number of them have occupied and still occupy important positions.

What the Church does not accept is that consecrated persons, who have made a public commitment of celibacy and chastity "for the Kingdom of Heaven," should betray their promise.

When the betrayal is public, it becomes scandal. And to heal it the Church requires a penitential journey that begins with repentance, not with falsification, concealment, deception, worse still if carried out with the complicity of others, in a "lobby" of intersecting interests, licit and illicit. In the case of Ricca, the deception has hit Pope Francis himself.

About the monsignor's scandalous past, and the present cover-up, Francis knew nothing when on June 15 he appointed him prelate, meaning his fiduciary at the IOR. He had been shown the file concerning Ricca that is kept at the personnel office of the secretariat of state, and everything appeared to be in order.

But over the following days a number of trusted persons sounded the alarm for the pope, in speech and in writing, over what had happened in Uruguay between 1999 and 2001 at the nunciature of Montevideo where Ricca had been in service. More information came to the pope on June 21 and 22, when he met with the nuncios who had convened in Rome from all over the world.

After the news of the looming scandal was published on July 3 on www.chiesa, Francis wanted to see Ricca's personal file again.

This time as well they passed him off as immaculate. The chain of command composed of cardinal secretary of state Tarcisio Bertone, his substitute Giovanni Angelo Becciu, and the delegate for the pontifical diplomatic missions, head of personnel Luciano Suriani, did not even take the basic step of asking the nunciature of Montevideo for copies of the reports from the nuncio at the time, Janusz Bolonek, which arrived in Rome but were evidently made to disappear.

Worse, after L'Espresso last week brought the elements of the scandal to everyone's attention, they had Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi say that what was published is "not reliable."

When instead it corresponds in every way to the documents - ecclesiastical and of the civil authorities - kept at the nunciature, including the letter with which Bolonek implored the Vatican authorities to send him in place of Ricca a new and "morally sound" adviser.

In Uruguay, at least five bishops who were direct witnesses of the scandal are ready to report. "Es todo verdad," it's all true, ecclesiastical sources have told the leading newspaper of Montevideo, "El País."

After seeing L'Espresso, Pope Francis himself picked up the telephone and called persons in his trust in that country, for definitive confirmation of the facts.

"Surely the Holy Father, in his wisdom, will know what to do," was the succinct statement of the current nuncio, Guido Anselmo Pecorari.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

First trials planned in Montana Catholic sex-abuse cases

Associated Press
July 24, 2013

Attempts to settle allegations that hundreds of Montanans were sexually abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy have been stymied by challenges from the church's insurers over which claims they are obligated to cover.

So attorneys representing the 360 alleged victims, along with lawyers for the Helena diocese, the Ursuline Sisters of the Western Province and District Judge Jeffrey Sherlock began laying out plans Wednesday for the first of what could be many trials beginning in December.

Attorneys for both sides said the outcome of the initial trials — unless the cases are resolved first — could act as a bellwether to gauge the extent to which Montana jurors would find the church liable and penalize it. That, in turn, could lead to settlements for the remainder of the cases.

The plaintiffs claim they were abused by priests, nuns and agents of the diocese between the 1930s and the late 1970s. The diocese and the Ursuline sisters knew of the abuse but did not stop it, the plaintiffs claim.

From the outset, all sides pledged to work to settle the lawsuits, which were filed in 2011. There have been three mediation sessions, the last one on Monday, but the case can't be settled without funding from the insurance providers, diocese attorney Mike Patterson told Sherlock.

"Although we are still on the train, it is not moving as quickly as we thought it would," Patterson said.

The diocese has filed claims with 16 insurers. Several insurers have filed lawsuits challenging those claims, saying they should not have to pay damages for abuse that occurred before their policies went into effect.

Sherlock had previously set the first trial for December, so with prospects of a settlement looking dimmer, the judge held a hearing Wednesday to discuss just how to manage jury trials for 360 people.

The sides agreed the first trial would consist of just one or two plaintiffs from the first of the two lawsuits filed, followed by additional trials about every six months with six or eight plaintiffs each.

But before that first trial happens, attorneys for both the diocese and the plaintiffs are awaiting a ruling by Sherlock on the scope of the insurers' coverage that may speed up a resolution.

The diocese is asking Sherlock to adopt a "continuous trigger" rule that would put the insurance companies on the hook for physical and emotional injuries caused by the clergy abuse, even if the actual abuse happened before the policies went into effect.

The physical and emotional injuries caused by sex abuse are continuous and progressive after the initial abuse occurred, attorneys for the diocese argued. They compared it to asbestos-related diseases in which an injury from breathing in the toxic fibers slowly grows and may not manifest for years.

"As with an asbestos related injury, if left untreated, being sexually abused as a child causes continuous and progressive bodily injury throughout the course of the victim's life," diocese attorney William Driscoll wrote in his June 14 court filing.

The insurance companies say that while the "continuous trigger" has been applied in asbestos cases, no court has ever used it in a sex-abuse claim.

Sex abuse has a definitive beginning and end, and an insurance company should not have to cover abuse that happened years before its policies took effect, St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Co. attorney Patrick Sullivan said in his response to the diocese's request.

Sullivan compared it to a victim in an explosion or a car accident. The person may suffer physical and emotional injuries over several years, but that doesn't trigger insurance coverage from policies that were put in place after the accident, he said.

He asked the judge to dismiss the diocese's request and rule that St. Paul has no duty to defend or indemnify the diocese for claims before its policies went into effect in 1973.

"The diocese's failure to purchase insurance and/or maintain its records cannot justify the extreme, unfair, and unprecedented result for which it advocates," he wrote.

Pope Francis shakes up Catholic church

Deutsche Welle
July 24, 2013

Brazil - Many Catholics hope Pope Francis will strengthen laymen and women in church, who have been taking on responsibilities of priests in some rural areas. That might trigger a revolution, experts say.

The Catholic Church in Latin America has a way of dealing with contradictions: Instead of discussing whether women should be allowed to be ordained to the priesthood or debating the celibate, laymen go ahead and create precedents in their religious communities. They've come up with new forms of church services - services without a priest. Hopes are high during this year's World Youth Day in Rio de Janeiro that Pope Francis will give more power to ordinary people in the church: the laypersons. That would ultimately change the Catholic Church.

Erwin Kräutler, bishop of the diocese Xingu in the Brazilian Amazon region, steers clear of tricky subjects such as women priests and celibate. Kräutler, an Austrian native who came to the Amazon region some 40 years ago, takes a more pragmatic approach: "I have 28 priests for 700,000 people in an area that's about the size of Germany," he said. "We started to ask ourselves: How can we enable people in the jungle, wherever they are, to take part in the Holy Communion?"

No priest around

Many laypersons have already come up with their own solution: they simply hold church services without the support of the clerics. They pray together, break the bread, administer wine, and care little about Catholic regulations, which specify that only priests are allowed to administer the sacrament of the Holy Communion.

"Lays take over responsibility, and the church moves forward. And even without pastors and priests, it works well," Sister Lucilene Antonio, who supports small religious communities within the Amazon region, said. "I have seen women who have done Services of the Word and broke the bread afterwards."

Appreciation for lays originates in what's called the Second Vatican Council, the 1962-65 meetings run by Pope John XXIII that brought the Catholic Church into modern times. Among the participants were Pope John Paul II when he was still called Karol Jozef Wojtyla, as well as Pope Francis' predecessor Benedict XVI (Joseph Ratzinger), who recently stepped down. Back then, Benedict XVI had been pushing for a "less clerical church."

"We all are the church"

Brazilian Luiz Paulo Horta, an expert on the Vatican, is convinced that Pope Francis is going to push for the priesthood of all believers. "He knows it's absolutely crucial that lays participate [in the church]," Horta said. "Francis wants the people at grass-roots level to revive the church."

What makes sense and could rather be seen as something not even worth mentioning from an outsider's perspective is a huge deal for the Catholic world, Horta said, calling it a revolution. "We all are the church. If we don't acknowledge the fact, nothing will happen," he said. "I think Francis has called on the people to start a rebellion."

Latin Americans call for reforms

Rebellion and revolution - that's nothing new for Latin America: In the 1960s and 70s, Latin American liberation theologians such as Gustavo Gutierrez and Oscar Romero inspired clergymen and believers all over the world. One of them was Ludwig Gerhard Müller, who now heads the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Pope Francis seems to rely on Latin America's drive for theologian modernization and on his predecessors' approval. He will meet with the board of the Latin American Conference of Catholic Bishops CELAM after the Youth Day closing ceremony on Sunday (28.07.2013). CELAM has been vigorously pushing for change in the past decades.

Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff firmly believes Latin America will trigger future reforms that are going to change the Catholic Church. "Our church doesn't reflect the European mother church anymore; it has its own origins, its own traditions, heroes, martyrs, prophets and personas such as the famous former bishop of Recife, Dom Helder Camara, or our very own saint, Oscar Romero," Boff said. "These churches will breathe new life into Christianity."

Monsignor Leo Cushley unveiled as new archbishop

Stephen McGinty
The Scotsman
July 24, 2013

MONSIGNOR Leo Cushley has been named new Archbishop of St Andrews & Edinburgh, replacing Cardinal Keith O’Brien who resigned in disgrace after admitting inappropriate behaviour with a number of priests.

Monsignor Cushley, a priest from the Motherwell diocese, is currently working in the Vatican with its secretariat of state, the Vatican’s foreign office.


Cushley is believed to have been chosen on account of his “outsider” status and skills in diplomacy and conflict resolution, following service in troublespots during the civil wars in Burundi and Rwanda. He is also known to be a trusted aide and confidante of Pope Francis.

The new Archbishop will today deliver his first message to the Archdiocese which has been shocked by the scandal surrounding Cardinal O’Brien who was revealed to have had a number of inappropriate relationships with priests and seminarians.

The Cardinal’s behaviour was revealed in February and led to him pulling out of the conclave to elect the new Pope, the first time a cardinal had been unable to attend a conclave due to a personal scandal.

Cardinal O’Brien had attempted to return to the Archdiocese where he had previously planned to retire but was instead ordered to go on a penitential retreat and is currently thought to be in a monastry in Europe.

In a statement Mgr Cushley said: “I am humbled that our Holy Father Pope Francis has nominated me for such an important task here in our ancient capital. I know it’s a delicate moment and that there is a lot to be done, but with God’s grace and the kind support of the clergy and people of Edinburgh, I will work cheerfully and willingly with all the energy I can muster.”


Full story at the Scotsman

Right wing 'generally not happy with Pope Francis'

John L. Allen, Jr.
National Catholic Reporter
July 24, 2013

Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia is renowned for speaking plainly, which in part means he's often willing to say things out loud that others in his position may sense but are hesitant to acknowledge.

During an interview in Rio de Janeiro on Tuesday, for instance, Chaput bluntly tackled three questions about Pope Francis, his early record, and his current trip to Brazil:

• The 68-year-old Capuchin conceded that last night's mob scene with the papal motorcade was a "frightening moment," hinting that perhaps Francis could listen a bit more to handlers charged with his safety and saying, "There has to be some distance between the crowds and the Holy Father."

• Chaput acknowledged that members of the right wing of the Catholic church "generally have not been really happy" with some aspects of Francis' early months and said the pope will have to find a way "to care for them, too."

• Chaput defended Francis on concerns in some circles that he's been silent on abortion, gay marriage and euthanasia, saying, "I can't imagine he won't be as pro-life and pro-traditional marriage as any of the other popes." He insisted the bishop of Rome "has to talk about those things."

read full article at National Catholic Reporter

Monday, July 22, 2013

Schüller in Philadelphia: 'Where has obedience got us?'

Patricia Lefevere
National Catholic Reporter
July 22, 2013

Philadelphia - At best, the Catholic church has five to six years before the shortage of clergy members plays itself out in unknown ways in Europe and North America. This is the so-called "Catholic Tipping Point" foreseen by Austrian Fr. Helmut Schüller, one of the most vocal advocates for new models of leadership in the church. The remarks came in an extended interview with NCR before his Friday evening address at Chestnut Hill College here. Schüller and approximately 400 Austrian priests -- about 10 percent of the nation's total Catholic clergy -- launched the Austrian Priests' Initiative in 2006 following worry and discussions about who would care for their parishes when there were not enough priests to take over after they retire. In 2011, they issued an "Appeal to Disobedience" in which they pledged, among other things, not to celebrate multiple Sunday Masses. The movement seeks to open the priesthood to each person suited for the office, including women and married men.

Schüller, 60, said the word "disobedience" upsets many people, but he showed no sign of finding a less troublesome word. "Where has obedience got us?" he asked, reviewing his own priesthood of 36 years. "I feel the church often misuses obedience to keep people down."

In an afternoon meeting with 20 priests of the Philadelphia archdiocese at Chestnut Hill College, the Austrian cleric said he found "a lot of sympathy" and "very supportive" comments from local priests. Some, he said, shared experiences similar to his in Vienna and told Schüller how their work had, at times, brought them into conflict with church authorities.

He pointed to growing frustrations among priests who are asked to pastor three or four cluster parishes. "There is the tension of having to do the same thing continually and not having sufficient time to get to know parishioners," he said, adding that he thought the idea of such a ministry impeded men from joining the priesthood. "My hope is that these potential candidates will not leave the church but will become engaged lay leaders."

Schüller said he became a priest to take care of the faithful. "I wanted to visit them, to know where they worked and who their parents are and what's important to them," he said. Such knowledge is virtually impossible in today's Austria and in large parts of Europe and some of the United States because of staff shortages, he said.

"Our priests today are like little bishops," he said. "They drive up, get out of the car, wave, offer Mass, hear confessions, get back in the car, wave, give a blessing and are off to the next parish."

In the evening, Schüller spoke to approximately 350 people at Chestnut Hill, the third leg of his 15-city U.S. tour. The rented hall on the Catholic campus was full, leaving about 100 attendees to occupy whatever space they could find.

Chestnut Hill, run by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Philadelphia, may be the only Catholic venue that Schüller's handlers found for his lecture tour. (Most of Schüller's upcoming talks are to be held at Protestant churches.) Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, who had banned the priest from archdiocesan property, and reportedly said it was "regrettable" that the college rented space to the priest's organizers -- the Philadelphia-area chapters of Voice of the Faithful, Women's Ordination Conference, and Call to Action.

In his interview with NCR, Schüller recalled a friendly meeting with Chaput when he was bishop of Rapid City, S.D., and Schüller was a tourist to the state. He told his applauding audience that his shutout from Catholic venues in Boston and Philadelphia, both ordered by Capuchin bishops, meant the bishops were "forbidding you to listen to me. What does the bishop think of his people -- that they're not competent to hear me?"

The priest spoke of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65) and the "rediscovery of the dignity of the baptized" and said this teaching was "foundational" to respecting the rights of all the People of God. He also highlighted the tension that has prevailed for half a century among church leaders "who are afraid of the laity, fearing they will bring bad thinking into the church from their secular lifestyles."

Schüller said the word "laity" as used by some church leaders implies "incompetence," as if there is "hierarchy" and "lowerarchy" in the church. Schüller said he sees recognition of the fundamental rights of all Christians not as a means to democratize the church, but rather as "the church fulfilling its own teaching."

He said he does not believe women should be ordained because of a lack of male priests but because "Scripture shows us that men and women are together the image of God in this world. The image of God is incomplete if only represented by one gender."

Recalling his years as director of Caritas Austria, the priest said when he traveled, he saw that women were doing 80 percent of the organizing and work while men often led projects and headed committees.

"Women don't have appropriate positions in society, and yet they are carrying the burden in daily life," he said. "It becomes more and more dangerous for the rights of women all over the world if the church does not recognize their universal equal rights."

Schüller urged his audience to work toward the nomination of local bishops, "maybe even managing to elect them one day."

Some audience members asked Schüller why he had not been censured, pointing to the excommunication of Maryknoll Fr. Roy Bourgeois and the silencing and threatened excommunication of Redemptorist Fr. Tony Flannery in Dublin for favoring women's ordination.

Schüller said, "The Austrian bishops did nothing to censure us because they know we have widespread support among priests and laity" -- more than 70 percent, according to a recent poll.

He also said public opinion and the press played a role in his life and the life of bishops.

"I may not have spoken out in an earlier age," Schüller said. He said bishops want good public relations, so some bishops are less strict with those voicing dissenting opinions. But because the sex abuse crisis has brought reporters to the chancery and parish door, "they know they can't hide things anymore," he said.

"You just wait; you will be censured," predicted Barbara Zeman, a Roman Catholic Womanpriest who drove 14 hours from Chicago to hear Schüller speak Friday. She is one of 50 women priests who will attend a retreat in Philadelphia later this week.

"Why accept censure?" Schüller replied. He urged Catholics to pray and not to be afraid, to cooperate with other reform and renewal groups and to make public all communications, be they from Rome, the diocese or elsewhere.

As an example, Schüller described Flannery's Dublin press conference in January, which Schüller and clerics from across Europe attended. Flannery, a founder of Ireland's Association of Catholic Priests, brought 1,000 signatures of support from his fellow priests -- about 25 percent of Ireland's Catholic clergy -- who disagreed with his ban from publishing and all priestly ministry, a ban the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued in 2012.

"The [Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith] doesn't know what to do," Schüller said, adding that Flannery gave to the press all communications between himself and Rome, his superiors and the Irish bishops.

"The old system of silencing someone used to make them disappear," Schüller said. "That's no longer true."

Although the evening at Chestnut Hill began with a disclaimer from Schüller -- "I can only give the answers for which I have the words" -- the priest found the language to respond to a host of questions, even translating in his head some passages of Lumen Gentium and other Vatican II documents.

Joseph Butler of Philadelphia rose to say he was too old to wait for change and might be dead when Schüller's "tipping point" is reached. Butler said he left the priesthood six years after ordination because his pastor was resistant to the reforms of Vatican II.

"The institutional church is not going to change; we have to find our own way," Butler told those gathered.

Rather than be discouraged, Charles McMahon of Voice of the Faithful suggested to a handful of listeners after Schüller's question time ended that the procedures for the nomination and election of bishops "best begin immediately."

McMahon, a University of Pennsylvania professor emeritus, said Americans are proud of their heritage. He urged them to look at the reforms that gave the United States its independence and established its representative government, achievements that occurred as a result of the two Continental Congresses held in 1774 and 1775-76.

"As the colonists learned, talking about the problem of taxation without representation and sending petitions to George III was an exercise in futility," McMahon said. He said American Catholics should add an action plan to the efforts of the various reform movements that have already begun to petition Rome for permission to elect their bishops.

The renewal process will require organization and education of the electorate, he said, but the willingness for change already exists. "There is no time to waste."

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Archbishop angry over Catholic church's lack of concern for abused children

Paddy Clancy
Irish Voice
July 21, 2013

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin Dr. Diarmuid Martin has hit out at the church’s lack of concern for children abused by priests.

He was responding to a just-published report which was severely critical of three previous archbishops of Dublin including Cardinal Desmond Connell.

The report, Chapter 20 of the investigation by Judge Yvonne Murphy into abuses in the Dublin Archdiocese, was released for publication by the High Court on Friday although the rest of the judge’s findings were published in November 2009.

Chapter 20 was censored from the initial publication pending trial of defrocked priest Patrick McCabe.

The chapter, when finally published last week, found there was “shocking” Garda (police) “connivance” with the church authorities when one serious complaint was stifled, there was failure to investigate another, and McCabe was allowed by his superiors to leave the country.

Martin, hitting out at the lack of concern for children abused by priests, said Chapter 20’s criticisms of the church showed “there was concern for everybody except the child.”

“The priest was looked after, people were kept quiet, and many of those children weren’t even spoken to. There is no way in which the church of Jesus Christ should have treated children in that way.”

Former priest McCabe, now 77, was jailed for 18 months last October for a number of abuses against schoolboys, one aged only nine.

The Murphy Report found he was able to flee to the U.S. after Garda connivance with church authorities. He was arrested in the U.S. in August 2010 and extradited to Ireland in June 2011.

Before he fled to the U.S. McCabe served in several dioceses in Dublin between 1971 and 1983. He worked in the Santa Rosa diocese in California between 1983 and 1986. His faculties as a priest were withdrawn in 1987 and he was laicised in 1988.

He left a psychiatric hospital in February 1988. The Irish bishops allowed him to return to the U.S. Judge Murphy, in one of her most damning indictments in her report, summarized, “They, in effect, set him loose on the unsuspecting population of Stockton, California.”

Martin said, “For those abused by Patrick McCabe, the wait for truth has been a long one.”

Read original article at Irish Central

Arrested Vatican prelate acted as private banker

Philip Pullella and Massimiliano Di Giorgio
July 21, 2013

ROME, July 21 (Reuters) - A senior Catholic prelate arrested last month used his influence at the Vatican to provide private, illegal financial services for rich friends, Italian investigators say in a judicial document.

They say Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, who is the target of two Italian investigations and had accounts at the Vatican bank, engaged in "totally private, illegal activity which was also aimed at serving outsiders".

Scarano was arrested in Rome on June 28 along with a self-styled financier and a member of Italy's secret services and formally accused of taking part in a plot to smuggle 20 million euros ($26.28 million) into Italy from Switzerland.

Reuters has obtained the 28-page document in which magistrates in Rome had asked a judge to order his arrest.

Scarano's lawyer, Silverio Sica, denied the accusations it contains. "They don't have any evidence to prove all of this," he said on Sunday. "These are just suspicions".

Pope Francis, who has made cleaning up the Vatican a goal of his papacy, has set up a commission of inquiry to reform its bank. On Friday he announced he was forming another commission of lay experts to help him overhaul the Holy See's economic and administrative departments.

Account holders at the Vatican bank, officially known as the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR) and which has been plagued by scandal for decades, are obliged not to let them be used, even indirectly, by third parties.

The IOR has long been in the spotlight for failing to meet international standards intended to combat tax evasion and the disguising of illegal sources of income.

Its stated purpose is to provide financial services for religious orders of priests and nuns, Holy See officials and Vatican employees.

Scarano, a former banker who became a priest at the relatively late age of 35, worked as a senior accountant in the Vatican's central financial administration office, the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See, or APSA.

In the document, the magistrates say Scarano, who worked at APSA for 22 years, offered his friends "a series of services ... in the area of financial transactions, in particular when there was a need or a request for them to remain secret".

They say the prelate carried out "a series of illegal activities by unscrupulously using his network of contacts in different areas, including businessmen, clergy who looked the other way, secret service agents and Vatican bank (IOR)personnel".

The IOR's director and deputy director, who are under investigation by Italian magistrates, resigned on July 1, three days after Scarano's arrest. On July 12, the Vatican froze Scarano's accounts in the IOR and said its own investigation could extend to other persons.

In an interrogation after his arrest, a transcript of which was obtained from legal sources and whose contents were confirmed by Sica, Scarano says he was to have received 1.5 million euros as a loan to pay off a business debt connected to one of the real estate companies he had a stake in.


Scarano has had two requests to move from jail into house arrest turned down. He is also under a separate money laundering investigation by magistrates in his hometown of Salerno, where he is accused of withdrawing 560,000 euros in cash from his account at IOR and giving small amounts to friends in exchange for 61 cheques drawn on Italian banks, according to court documents.

He later cashed the cheques, which ranged from 2,000 euros to 20,000 euros, in what magistrates say was an attempt to mask the origin of the money. His lawyers say that money came from donations to build a home for the elderly.

Magistrates say Scarano used that money to pay off a mortgage on his luxury apartment, filled with expensive works of art. Scarano's lawyers say he intended to sell the apartment at a profit in order to help build a home for the terminally ill.

In the document, magistrates say Scarano received 20,000 euros each month from Cesare D'Amico, a member of a wealthy shipping family in Salerno. The payments, which came from foreign bank accounts, were marked "for works of charity" but the magistrates say Scarano used them "for totally personal ends".

It says that in a tapped telephone conversation Scarano says that he and D'Amico had a joint account at the IOR. But in the interrogation after his arrest, Scarano said he had lied during that telephone conversation and that there was no joint account.

D'Amico's lawyer, Vincenzo Crupi, also denied that his client had a joint account with Scarano at the IOR.

Crupi told Reuters the D'Amico family was "very religious" and had made many donations to Scarano over the years, particularly to a fund to help the elderly in Salerno. He denied that the 20 million euros that Scarano is accused of plotting to smuggle into Italy belonged to the D'Amico family. ($1 = 0.7611 euros) (editing by David Stamp)

Saturday, July 20, 2013

What the (Milwaukee) church documents reveal

Karen Hertzog
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
July 20, 2013

When the Milwaukee Catholic Archdiocese recently released secret documents linked to how the church dealt with sexual abuse of children by priests, the headlines focused on former Archbishop Timothy Dolan's plans to pay abusers to leave the priesthood and to move $57 million into cemetery funds to protect the money "from any legal claim or liability."
But those aren't the only stories revealed in some 6,000 pages of documents the church had kept confidential for decades. The documents also shed light on issues pedophile priests were dealing with both before and after they abused children. They include letters to priests from archbishops who failed to face the issue of child abuse head on. And they reveal the anguish of the victims and the victims' parents.
The documents, which were released July 1 as part of the church's bankruptcy case, reveal the human side of the scandal.
Some of the priests said they had been sexually abused as children. The victims were often insecure and searching for guidance. And archbishops, in addition to trying to protect the church, felt a pastoral responsibility to priests who were abusers.
Only a few of the accused priests were criminally charged; many denied they did anything wrong. Most left the priesthood with severance pay or were allowed to retire with a pension, health benefits and a place to live. Of the dozen priests included in this story, three are still alive but have been stripped of their priestly ministry: Franklyn Becker, Michael Krejci and Thomas Trepanier, according to archdiocese records.
This story is based on a close review of the pedophile priest files, which include candid letters exchanged between accused priests and archbishops; sexual abuse intake reports; psychological assessments; letters from archbishops to the Vatican seeking counsel or formal action against priests; and letters from victims and their parents.

The pedophile priests

The documents show that many of the priests did not consider themselves criminals, but victims. Some were addicted to alcohol or pornography. They did good work in the church and helped many people. But they also had a dark side they either struggled to control or did not acknowledge.
Many did not express guilt or remorse; they couldn't understand why they were treated severely after they had accepted counseling and done everything the archdiocese asked of them. Some acknowledged conflicted sexual orientation, loneliness, self-loathing, an inability to form healthy adult relationships. Psychologists concluded that at least one priest's emotional development was stunted.
Eugene KreuzerFather Eugene Kreuzer confessed to members of an unidentified parish in an undated letter:
"...There were allegations of my sexual abuse of minors some 30 years ago in a different parish. I express remorse and repent of these actions. However, for the good of thecommunity I have decided that my continued presence at the parish is not helpful. I have been fully cooperative with the restrictions placed upon me. I do not exercise anyministry and am living out my life in a spirit of prayer and penance.This is a strong and loving parish community and I know you will respond to thisannouncement in the manner that is most appropriate, by praying for all those involved...."
Andrew DoyleFather Andrew Doyle sought a financial settlement in a letter to then-Archbishop Rembert Weakland:
" had indicated that you would grant me an unspecified amount of money as a severance. Because I have regular bills and a house payment, I ask that if it becomes necessary for a release from my orders, at that time you would consider an amount of $30,000 ... I have tried to cooperate with the Archdiocese...I regret any pain I have caused you; I also have been in much myself."
Franklyn BeckerA letter from then-Archbishop Dolan to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger at the Vatican offered his impressions of Father Franklyn Becker, who Dolan said refused to voluntarily give up his ministry rights as a sign of repentance:
"Father Becker has admitted that a number of these acts of sexual assault occurred... While he attempts to present a defense based on cooperation and need for sustenance, in interviews with him, there is little display of repentance. His sorrow is not over what effect his immoral and abusive behaviors had on others, so much as it is remorse that he has lost a sense of status..."
Michael KrejciSeveral priests were referred for intensive treatment of alcoholism and psycho-sexual issues. Atreatment progress report for Father Michael Krejci concluded, among other things:
"...Normal inhibiting mechanisms, such as guilt or remorse, do not appear to impede Michael's problematic sexual behavior..."

Church officials

Each archbishop had his own way of addressing accused priests.
Archbishop William Cousins wrote terse, formal letters to inform priests they were being transferred, which occurred frequently and quietly during his tenure from 1959 to 1977. Cousins did not document much, reflecting a time when sex abuse accusations against priests were not openly discussed.
Weakland, archbishop from 1977 to 2002, consistently expressed concern for the priests' well-being and told them he was doing what was best for them and the church. He also exchanged letters with victims, acknowledging the bad effects of what had happened and encouraging them to forgive because "forgiveness brings spiritual growth."
Weakland resigned in 2002 amid revelations that he had used church money to pay a $450,000 settlement to a man with whom he had had a sexual relationship years earlier.
Archbishop Timothy Dolan, whose tenure from 2002 to 2007 coincided with a change in direction by the Vatican in dealing with sex abuse cases, wrote stern letters to priests about their actions, while expressing concern for their well-being. In his letters to victims, Dolan apologized for their pain and offered them counseling services.
Michael BenhamOne internal exchange at the archdiocese was especially frank. This excerpt of a 2006 letter from Archdiocese Chancellor Barbara Anne Cusack to Dolan was about Father Michael Benham:
"Although Michael has apparently expressed remorse to you, I have not seen that remorse translate into action. The victim in this case requested a token amount of money as a gesture of recognition of the harm he had caused; Michael has consistently and adamantly refused to do so...This was not a one-time incident of indiscretion.
"There have to be consequences to actions. I do not doubt that an all-merciful God has forgiven Michael but an all-just God will also probably require some purgation for these actions...Michael's life of solitude is made possible because we are paying his subsidy and could be doing so for the next 10 years until he is eligible for pension...I am not sure how we can justify this as 'good stewardship' of the resources people have entrusted to us... How do I honestly look a victim-survivor in the face in mediation and say we are acting consistently with Pope John Paul II's statement that 'there is no place in the priesthood for those who would harm a child?'"
Thomas TrepanierA letter Dolan wrote in December 2002 to parishioners at an unspecified church about Father Thomas Trepanier acknowledged the need for accountability.
"We forgive those priests who have been guilty of this crime and sin, once they admit it — as most do, painfully and admirably — ask for mercy and repent. We know God forgives them; we must forgive them too; and I hope they can forgive themselves.
"Forgiveness, however, does not eliminate the need for those accused to take responsibility, to be held accountable for their behavior."
One month before Dolan wrote to parishioners about forgiveness for Trepanier, he wrote to Trepanier:
"...While we await clearer resolution from the Holy See and the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops, I just wanted you to know that I have not forgotten about you, and that you have my love, concern, and prayerful solidarity..."
Dolan added a handwritten note in the margin: "Thanks for the green tea! I'll be in touch soon."
Eldred LesniewskiSeven years earlier, in 1995, a letter from Weakland to Father Eldred Lesniewski reflected a much different tone:
"...Every time you appear in public this way at the altar, Eldred, you risk stirring up people who have brought allegations. The network of such victims is enormous and very aggressive. You risk much unfortunate bad publicity against yourself, the priesthood and the Diocese..."

The victims

They were altar boys. Kids in need of a friend or a counselor. Boys and girls who for whatever reason caught the eye of the priest at school or in church. Perhaps the priest initially made them feel special with gifts or extra attention — a sleepover or a vacation on a Caribbean cruise. One priest invited boys to go up north on a camping trip in a hearse.
Lawrence MurphyA man who said he was molested as a boy by Father Lawrence Murphy at St. John's School for the Deaf finally confronted the priest decades later in a letter copied to Archbishop Weakland and Pope John Paul II:.
"...I cannot keep our secret about your life as a terrible molester at our school...You made us hate the Catholic church because we couldn't understand how you could be such a hypocrite of a priest who taught us about God while you were the secret molester...
"I would lie awake every night shaking in fear that this would be a night you would touch me ...Jesus on the cross on the wall saw you coming every night to molest us. He must have been shocked and grieved every time. I hope he cried like we did, because we were innocent children... The depth of your destruction is like a deep, dark, bottomless pit that has no end...The very least you could do is be sorry, but you aren't...
"God lets no one into heaven who is not deeply, truly, and shamefully sorry for his sins — in your case, atrocities...My shame and my dirty secret are back where they belong, with you, their creator."
The mother of one of Father Franklyn Becker's victims wrote to Weakland in 1994, after accusations about pedophile priests began being reported by newspapers. Her son was abused by Becker at the Holy Family parish in Whitefish Bay in the 1970s, she said.
"As I later found out, this priest had a record in his previous parish and after leaving Whitefish Bay, continued on his merry way in parish after parish, both here and out of state....
"At the time that his offense against my son occurred, I was (redacted) very vulnerable and very committed to seeing that my children be educated in Catholic schools. That's how he came to know my sons; we took him into our hearts and into our family...
"At no time did it ever occur to me to sue the Archdiocese or the priest... Money could never heal the scars left by one priest's indiscretion. However, Archbishop Weakland, don't for a minute smugly think that the only cases of clergy abuse out there are the ones that sue/or run to the media. All I really wanted over the past years was an acknowledgment by you and the Archdiocese that this problem existed and the seriousness of it....
"In addition to a deep sense of guilt for allowing, or even encouraging this to happen to my son some years ago, I have in the past few years experienced a loss of faith, an indifference to the church I was brought up in and now a real bitterness that this particular priest had been 'rewarded' with early retirement for a lifetime of botched assignments due to his fondness for the altar boys."
George NuedlingFather George Nuedling gained sympathy from in-the-dark parishioners one day for an injury he sustained after molesting a victim, according to this letter the victim wrote to the archdiocese:
"...I fought as hard as I could for what seemed an eternity, and fortunately when he lost his grip on me I was able to run away. He tried to give chase but must have pulled something in his calf or hamstring area and fell to the ground (Jesus must have been with me).
"The next day in church it just galled me to hear other parishioners express their concern over Father Nuedling's 'bad limp' and how it must have hurt...I just wonder how many other little boys this evil man harmed?"
George EtzelFather George Etzel sent a Christmas card in 1992 to a victim, who by then was an adult. "I'm sad and sorry, and I wonder why," he wrote.
The victim responded"Thank you for the card and thoughts at Christmas... By the tone of your note...I see that you are also reflecting on your past life...and you know exactly what I am talking about.As I stated earlier, it is a time for forgiveness and hope. I forgive you for the things you have done to me. I hope you can make peace with your god..."
Siegfried WideraWhen it was time for his first confession, a 9-year-old victim thought he could anonymously tell a trusted adult about Father Siegfried Widera. But something stopped him, according to a letter he wrote as an adult on Aug. 1, 2002:
"...As I entered that booth, I was determined to end this. It was only to my horror that I entered the confessional and heard that voice that could belong to only one man. I can still to this day feel the devastation that entered me that day and the thought that it was a sign from God to keep my mouth shut. I went home that night and cried. A memory that burns in me to this day.
"A sense of relief only came after I found out he was gone. No explanation to the students and none that I can remember hearing about to the adults... I already know that this man was transferred to another church and he did it again. I live with the thought that I could have stopped this if only I had come forward sooner. And now I know that this man is on the run...
"I only wish I believed enough in prayer to pray for any child he comes across."
Less than a year after the letter was written, Widera leaped to his death from a hotel balcony in Mexico as officials closed in to arrest him. He had been on the run for more than a year, and authorities considered him one of the most wanted sex-crime fugitives in the Western Hemisphere.