U.S. priest tells Irish safeguarding meeting: Church is not haven for abusers / National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic church is “no longer a safe haven for child abusers,” said a top priest psychologist who advises the U.S. bishops on child sexual abuse. Msgr. Stephen Rossetti told hundreds of Irish delegates to the first national conference on safeguarding children that the Catholic church in the United States spent $43 million on child abuse prevention and education just last year …

“Rossetti, a professor at The Catholic University of America and a visiting professor at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, thanked Marie Collins*, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and a victim of clerical sex abuse, ‘and all those like you who have stood up and told your story. More than anything, this is what is turning the tide.’”

By Sarah MacDonald, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

*Marie Collins will be the featured speaker at the Voice of the Faithful 2015 National Assembly in Hartford, Connecticut, April 18.

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Clerical Errors / Commonweal

Amid what the media has presented as a general feeling of optimism about the papacy of Francis, there are some matters that remain causes of concern among American Catholics. One of these is the current state of the priesthood, which has seen a dramatic decline in its numbers over the past forty years and a corresponding decline in new ordinations. At the same time, there are questions about the manner and consistency of seminary formation—including formation related to sexuality and sexual abuse—while parish communities express worries about the “ecclesiastical environments” created by priests who seem out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Catholics.”

By the editors at Commonweal magazine — Click here to see the rest of this story and the links to each of the stories in this three-part series.

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National clergy group launches its own synod questionnaire / National Catholic Reporter

As U.S. dioceses continue their Vatican-ordered consultations for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the family, a national clergy group has launched its own questionnaire in an effort to highlight the issues most pressing to priests.

“The Association of U.S. Catholic Priests sent a synod survey on Jan. 31 to its 1,000-plus members, asking each not to answer the 46 questions presented in the synod’s working document, the lineamenta, but instead to rank them in importance on a seven-point scale from ‘not important’ to ‘essential.’ Each question also offers comment space for priests to expand on those questions they deemed as essential.”

By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Also of interest is, “Strong Catholic Families offers simplified survey for family synod,” by Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter.

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Controversial San Francisco handbook to be reviewed, expanded by theology teacher committee

A committee of theology teachers from the four high schools administered by the San Francisco archdiocese will be asked to expand and clarify a statement on church teachings and practices developed by Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone and scheduled for inclusion in those schools’ 2015-16 faculty handbooks.

“In an open letter to teachers dated Feb. 24 as well as during an hour-long meeting with the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle on Tuesday (Feb. 24), Cordileone said he has been surprised by the uproar generated by the Feb. 3 release of the handbook insertion, ‘Statement of the High Schools of the Archdiocese of San Francisco Regarding the Teachings and Practice of the Catholic Church.’

“An archdiocesan ‘media advisory’ issued late Tuesday appeared to counter a Chronicle characterization of the committee’s formation and the newspaper’s meeting with Cordileone as the archbishop backing down.”

By Dan Morris-Young, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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San Francisco archbishop is re-wording his strict morality code / San Francisco Chronicle

Under pressure from his Catholic schools community, the archbishop of the San Francisco archdiocese is re-wording strict guidelines he proposed for teachers that would require them to reject homosexuality, use of contraception, and other “evil” behavior.

“Most significantly, Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone said he is dropping an effort to designate high school teachers as “ministers,” which, under a 2012 US Supreme Court ruling, would have eliminated them from government-mandated employee protections by placing them solely under Church control.”

By Kevin Fagan, San Francisco Chronicle, on Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Survey finds serious flaws in diocesan financial management / National Catholic Reporter

The Catholic priesthood is aging at an alarming rate, and thousands of U.S. diocesan priests are expected to retire within the next few years. With most diocesan priest pension plans significantly underfunded, questions over where the money comes from to support them may point to a major crisis in the making …

“Half of all priests currently in active ministry also expect to retire by 2019, and most of them expect to receive the pension payments they’ve been promised. Church leaders have known for decades about the looming priest shortage and its implications for sustaining Catholic parishes as Eucharistic communities. Another, more hidden crisis lurks in diocesan pension reserves that are underfunded, many of them seriously …

“The hierarchy must admit that changes are needed in financial management. At the same time, priests and laity must demand more financial transparency and accountability. Pell (Cardinal George Pell, Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy), referring to anticipated changes in the Vatican bank said, ‘There need to be changes in the economic area — not just with the so-called Vatican bank — but more generally there is work there to be done [and] a need to ensure that things are being properly done.’

“Let’s hope the American hierarchy gets the message.”

By Jack Ruhl, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Pope Francis’ response to clergy sex abuse tripped up by Vatican loophole / GlobalPost.com

As clergy child abuse scandals jolt the church, Pope Francis has defrocked predatory bishops from Peru and Poland after secret Vatican proceedings. He also intervened on a victim’s behalf in Spain, which emboldened prosecutors to indict a priest who was part of an alleged ring of clergy abusers in the Grenada diocese, according to press reports.

“‘A zero tolerance approach must be adopted,’ Francis told reporters on an airline press conference from Tel Aviv to Rome last May, a sentiment he has backed with action in the intervening months.

“But the 17-member papal advisory commission on the abuse crisis faces a glaring loophole over bishops who have sheltered predators — a loophole that creates a tripwire to Pope Francis’s stated goal.”

By Jason Berry, GlobalPost.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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