Voice of the Faithful writes USCCB’s NRB about distress at Bishop Finn ordinations

Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful wrote today to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ National Review Board, which oversees the Church’s child protection policies, declaiming its distress that disgraced Bishop Robert Finn will preside at ordinations this month in his former diocese. In doing so, we add our voices to those of SNAP and other organizations that believe public support for abuse survivors and endorsement of strong child protection policies is essential for the Church.

Here is the text of the letter:

Dear NRB Members,

Voice of the Faithful urges you, as the office charged with ensuring the protection of children, to speak out immediately on the recent that Bishop Robert Finn, who recently resigned from the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, is scheduled to confer ordinations there later this month.

Bishop Finn, as you no doubt know, was convicted three years ago for the crime of failing to report the discovery of child pornography on the computer of a priest in his diocese. Despite that conviction, Bishop Finn was permitted to attend USCCB meetings. No other bishop publicly criticized his presence, and only when the Vatican announced his removal was there any consequence to his public failure to observe the 2002 Dallas Charter requirements or the laws protecting children in Missouri.

To have Bishop Finn preside at ordinations sends a compelling signal to the Faithful of cronyism and coverup, of clerical preference at the expense of a strong commitment to protecting children. Bishop Finn, who by his conviction is no longer legally eligible to teach children, does not embody the qualities needed for leaders and teachers of the faith and surely should not be in the position of ordaining future pastors and spiritual guides.

In the name of abuse survivors and our children and grandchildren, we pray you speak out against this misguided plan to have Bishop Finn confer ordinations. Your message would be a significant demonstration that it’s not “business as usual” for the coverup of child sex abuse. If you fail to act, the message delivered instead is that “courtesy” to bishops matters more to the USCCB than its own promises about protecting children from sex abuse.

Sincerely,

Mark Mullaney, President

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Percentage of U.S. Catholics drops and Catholicism is losing numbers faster than any denomination / Cruxnow.com

For years, two truisms dominated coverage of the US Catholic Church: about one quarter of the population is Catholic and each year at Easter, Catholics entering the church offset those leaving it.

“But new data suggests a new story.

“A report released Tuesday (May 12) by the Pew Forum finds that the total number of Catholics in the United States dropped by 3 million since 2007, now comprising about 20 percent – or one-fifth – of the total population.”

By Michael O’Loughlin, Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story. Click here to read about the survey on PewForum.org.

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Voice of the Faithful applauds Vatican acceptance of statutes for Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors

Roman Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful applauds today’s promulgation of the statutes governing the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Established at the height of publicity surrounding clergy sexual abuse in the United States in 2002, VOTF considers this step significant because it ratifies the Commission’s independence from Curia-controlled offices and because the statutes were written by the Commission members themselves.

Commission member Marie Collins described the work the Commission conducted in drafting these statutes during her keynote address at the VOTF 2015 National Assembly in Hartford, Conn., last month.

As listed on the Vatican’s news website, the statutes establish the Commission’s autonomous existence within the Vatican bureaucracy, creating a central location responsible specifically and only for clergy sexual abuse. The statutes reiterate the “paramount importance” of the protection of minors and charge the Commission with advising the Pope on initiatives that “promote the responsibility of local Churches” to protect “all minors and vulnerable adults.”

In addition, the Commission will advise the Pope directly, effectively removing any bureaucratic or curial barriers between it and the Pontiff. The statutes give the Commission authority to require an “account of the effectiveness” of any competent body within the Church responsible for the protection of minors. And the statutes do not require members to be clerics, which will tamp down the effects of clericalism on the commission’s deliberations and decisions.

As important as these statutes are, VOTF awaits funding for the Commission’s work and hopes this will not take another decade.

Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Vatican publishes statutes for commission to protect minors / National Catholic Reporter

The Holy See this morning published the statutes for the Commission for the Protection of Minors, giving that body canonical and juridical status within the Roman Curia. It may not seem like they are very earth-shattering or, in the event, Church-shattering, but they are. First, there is the fact of a commission … (Second) the new commission specifically has the task of working with local churches and coordinating efforts within the Roman Curia to deal with the scourge of clergy sex abuse. Third, and perhaps most significantly, the new statutes stipulate: ‘The Commission is an advisory body at the service of the Holy Father’ … Fourth, apart from the chair and the secretary, there is no requirement that the commission members be clerics at all.”

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Archbishop Philip Wilson pleads not guilty to concealing child sex abuse / The Sydney Morning Herald

Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson has pleaded not guilty to concealing child sex abuse in the Catholic church via his lawyer in Newcastle Local Court on Thursday (June 6).

“Archbishop Wilson, who did not appear, was represented by barrister Simon Buchen, who said his client was pleading not guilty and he was anticipating a lengthy hearing …

“Archbishop Wilson is the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest.”

By Gabriel Wingate-Pearce, The Sidney Morning Herald — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Are things looking up for women in the church? / National Catholic Reporter

A plethora of conferences about women have popped up all over Rome in the last three months. The Vatican’s former hard-line freeze on discussing women’s roles may at last be thawing out.

“The Pontifical Council for Culture’s controversial February event, ‘Women’s Cultures: Equality and Difference,’ was the first to break the ice. A month later, Voices of Faith hosted a searingly honest discussion by female theologians and activists from inside Vatican walls.

“Then, on April 14, the U.S. embassy to the Holy See sponsored an interreligious conference on ‘Women’s Leadership in Conflict Resolution: Faith Perspectives.’ Cardinal Peter Turkson shared a private conversation he had with Pope Francis, who told him he saw no obstacles to a woman or married couples being appointed as the new secretary of justice and peace or as heads of the pontifical councils for the laity and for the family. (Turkson, however, was careful to remind attendees of the need to “de-couple” the question of women’s roles from priestly ordination.)

“Most recently, Rome’s Pontifical University Antonianum and four embassies to the Holy See sponsored an April 28 conference on women in the church. Significantly, Catholic Health Association president Sr. Carol Keehan was an invited speaker.”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this article.

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KC priest criticizes prosecution of Bishop Robert Finn, and prosecutor fires back / The Kansas City Star

As the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese tries to move past the resignation of Bishop Robert Finn, a priest has roiled the waters with a letter alleging that the criminal charges against Finn were politically motivated.

“The prosecutor who filed the case, Jean Peters Baker, this week responded with a strongly worded letter of her own.”

By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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