Napa County now home for John Nienstedt, Twin Cities archbishop who resigned under legal cloud / Press Democrat

Minnesota and then Michigan evidently grew too hot for John Nienstedt, a former Catholic archbishop who was accused of protecting predatory priests and who now cools his heels in Wine Country.

“Nienstedt came far west after departing Minnesota under duress and stopping briefly in Michigan. A newspaper report out of Battle Creek earlier this year revealed that only two weeks after Nienstedt arrived and took a temporary church post there he ‘left amid a swirl of criticism.’ Residents opposed to his assignment hounded the diocese and the media, and pulled tuition support for a school associated with the church, according to another news report.”

By Chris Smith, Press Democrat, Napa, California — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Catholic Church groups fight bills to revive old sex abuse cases / National Public Radio

“… whether it’s a coach or a relative or a priest,” no one who abuses a child, or allows such abuse, or shields the perpetrator  should “get off scot-free.”

It’s important to say right upfront that this isn’t a story about pedophile priests.

“Bridie Farrell is Roman Catholic, but she says it was her speedskating coach who sexually assaulted her when she was a teenager.

“‘It happened at his house, in his car, in his hotel room,’ Farrell says.

“Farrell did what a lot of kids do when they’re molested: She kept silent. But 18 years later, when she was 31 years old, she went public with her story.

“The problem is that there’s a ticking clock. In a lot of states, including New York, where Farrell was assaulted, if you don’t report a rape or file a civil lawsuit fast enough, the perpetrator — whether it’s a coach or relative or a priest — gets off scot-free.”

By Brian Mann, All Things Considered, National Public Radio — Click here to read and listen to the rest of this story.

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Cardinal Marx faces accusations over handling of alleged abuse case / Catholic News Agency

Accusations have been raised in a number of German media that Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising failed to remove from office a priest accused in 2006 of sexually abusing a minor.

“The alleged abuser, it appears, was allowed to stay on as parish priest for a number of years, even going on overnight excursions with youth.

“A spokesperson for Cardinal Marx has said that the prelate had acted in accordance with relevant guidelines that were in place at the time.”

By Anian Christoph Wimmer, Catholic News Agency — Click here to read the rest of this story

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Focus on preaching the kingdom is key to ending clericalism / National Catholic Reporter

What we need in today’s Roman Catholic church is a redistribution of power and authority. Pope Francis’ openness to the possibility of having women deacons is not nearly enough to achieve this essential organizational revolution …

“Francis should change canon law so one does not have to be a priest to be the ‘pastor’ of a parish. Give qualified lay men and women and male and female deacons real power and authority to lead some of our faith communities. This change would have two important consequences. It would disconnect the roles of priest and pastor and significantly change the culture of clericalism that Francis rightly deplores …

“Francis is to be applauded for his critique of clericalism and careerism and his emphasis on the Gospel call to bring peace and justice into everyone’s life, especially that of the poor. But if he and others do not make significant changes in the Catholic church’s current power structure and help us return to an emphasis on its mission to call people to discipleship by preaching peace and justice, I believe his efforts will fall far short of what we and the world need from us and our church today.

“We need some big changes in our church and the time is now.”

By Jim Purcell, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.

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Commending Phoebe / America: The National Catholic Review

“‘I commend to you our sister Phoebe, a deacon of the church at Cenchreae,’ wrote St. Paul in the Letter to the Romans (16:1). What did Paul mean when he referred to Phoebe as a deacon? What kind of diakonos was she? How did she serve the church? Was she ordained as a deacon? And if so, what did her ordination mean? These questions, which may once have seemed arcane, have taken on greater urgency in the wake of Pope Francis’ recent decision to appoint a commission to study the historicity of women deacons …

“As indispensable as it is, the historical data is neither wholly conclusive nor ultimately dispositive. The church’s discernment regarding women deacons must be guided, in the words of the International Theological Commission, by ‘a greater knowledge of both historical and theological sources, as well as of the current life of the Church’ (emphasis added). We should also bear in mind this additional insight of the commission: ‘Nowhere did the [Second Vatican] Council claim that the form of the permanent diaconate which it was proposing was a restoration of a previous form…. Vatican II never aimed to do that. What it re-established was the principle of the permanent exercise of the diaconate, and not one particular form which the diaconate had taken in the past.’

“This raises a question: If the church discerns in light of its reflection on the historical and theological data and the current life of the church that, at a minimum, it enjoys the freedom to admit women to the permanent diaconate, then should we do so? Yes, we should. What might that mean for the church today?”

By The editors at America: The National Catholic Review — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.

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Stop shaming women for seeking equal power in the church / National Catholic Reporter

In late June, on a flight back from Armenia, Pope Francis told a team of reporters that he was angry.

“What made Francis angry wasn’t the continued deaths of countless refugees, or the latest instance of environmental degradation or some grim statistics about rates of human trafficking. No, what angered him was the suggestion, by some in the media, that he had ‘opened the door to deaconesses,’ after his May 12 dialogue with the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) …

“But the pope’s anger over the notion that admitting women to some form of the diaconate was already a fait accompli suggests the depth of angst conjured by even the suggestion of offering women a semblance of authority in the church.”

By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this column.

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Pope’s choice for new Vatican post boosts moderates, Americans / Cruxnow.com

By naming Bishop Kevin Farrell of Dallas on Wednesday as the first head of the Vatican’s newly created mega-department for Laity, Family, and Life, Pope Francis has accomplished two things at once: He’s handed another major victory to pastoral moderates, and he’s also further disabused notions that he’s cool to Americans.

“(Farrell, 68, isn’t American by birth since he was born in Dublin and came of age in Ireland, but by now he’s spent almost half his life in the States, including the last 14 years as an American bishop.)

“Farrell joined the Legion of Christ but left fairly early on, before sexual abuse controversies broke out around the order’s controversial founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado. He moved into the Archdiocese of Washington in 1984, where he served as a pastor and also took over a center for Hispanic ministry from then-Capuchin Father Sean P. O’Malley, who’s now the Cardinal of Boston.

“(No doubt that background was part of Farrell’s appeal for Francis. Farrell blogs in both English and Spanish, and in 2012 he became the first U.S. bishop with a Spanish-language Twitter feed.)”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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