Archive for March, 2015

Vatican’s failure to hold Bishop Barros accountable disheartens Voice of the Faithful Church reform movement

The Vatican’s recent statement that the Congregation of Bishops has found “no objective reason to preclude” Juan Madrid Barros’ appointment as bishop of Osorno, Chile, is extremely disheartening to Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful, especially in light of the promise of Francis’ papacy for a more accountable, collegial Church.

Barros is accused by victims of covering up for Fr. Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty in 2011 of sexual abuse of minors. Apparently, the terse Vatican statement on Barros’ appointment does not address these allegations.

The Vatican’s position is particularly troubling in at least two ways.

First, Pope Francis appears to be going back on his word to hold bishops accountable for covering up clergy sexual abuse. He has said repeatedly that such accountability is necessary. In July 2014, for example, he is reported as saying bishops “will be held accountable” for failing to protect children from sexual abuse in his homily during Mass with clergy sexual abuse survivors. Similarly, following the meeting this past February of his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Vatican is reported to have vowed a keen awareness “that the issue of accountability is of major importance.”

Second, the concerns of clergy and laity in Osorno seem to have been ignored. Their attempts to bar Barros’ appointment failed, and congregants at his installation Mass created a near riot that drove the bishop to escape the cathedral through a side door. The Vatican’s failure to listen to clergy and laity in Osorno brings into question all of Pope Francis’ statements about his wishes to bring collegiality to Church governance, to listen to the laity and to make decisions at the local level.

Now installed, it’s hard to see how Barros could live up to what Francis admonished papal nuncios to heed in a June 2013 address: “In the delicate task of carrying out inquiries for episcopal appointments, be careful that the candidates are pastors close to the people, fathers and brothers …”

Pope Francis has addressed this issue many times over the past two years, but his most telling remark concerning how he would like to see the Church make decisions comes from his October 2013 interview with America magazine: “All the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief … When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit .. We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the Church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the Church.”

In Osorno, no “dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope” seems to have occurred, at the expense of Francis’ accountable, collegial Church. Barros is bishop, and the Vatican appears disinclined to remove him. Perhaps, in considering the situation, Barros will take to heart Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati’s remark. Ezzati is reported to have said that “a bishop can, eventually, resign.”

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Vatican: No ‘objective reasons’ to preclude appointment of Chilean bishop / National Catholic Reporter

The Vatican has responded to public outcry against Pope Francis’ naming of a new bishop in Chile accused of covering up sexual abuse, saying the bishop’s candidature was ‘carefully examined’ prior to his appointment but no ‘objective reasons’ were found to preclude it.

“Marking a rare reaction to public criticism against a bishop’s appointment, the Vatican press office released a 19-word statement Tuesday (Mar. 31) in three languages regarding Bishop Juan Barros Madrid.

“Chilean clergy sexual abuse survivors accuse Barros, who was installed March 21 as head of the diocese of Osorno, Chile, amid protests in the cathedral, of covering up abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima when Barros was a priest.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Parents ask San Francisco archdiocese to remove controversial parish priests / National Catholic Reporter

In a packed auditorium at Star of the Sea School in San Francisco on Wednesday (Mar.25), parents told representatives of the archdiocese to remove the parish’s two priests.

“After describing the changes that Fr. Joseph Illo, administrator, has instituted at the school since his arrival and the effects on their children, most of the parents concluded their talks by saying, ‘We respectfully ask that Fr. Illo and Fr. Driscoll be removed from Star of the Sea” …

“About 200 parents and teachers attended the meeting, the majority of them wearing Star of the Sea sweatshirts. Sixteen parents spoke at a dais at the front of the audience that faced the four clergymen. Several started to cry as they spoke.”

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

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Members of Vatican abuse commission question Francis’ inaction in Chile / National Catholic Reporter

Two members of the new Vatican commission advising Pope Francis on clergy sexual abuse (Peter Saunders, United Kingdom, and Marie Collins, Ireland, both clergy sexual abuse survivors) say they are both concerned and surprised at the pope’s decision to appoint a bishop in Chile who is accused of covering up abuse, even witnessing it while he was a priest.

Speaking in brief NCR interviews Thursday in personal capacities, the commission members also said some in their group are considering traveling to Rome to speak to the pope face-to-face on the matter.

Bishop Juan Barros Madrid was installed Saturday as head of the diocese of Osorno, Chile, amid protests in the cathedral. Chilean survivors accuse Barros of covering up abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima, a once-renowned spiritual leader and key Chilean church figure who was found guilty by the Vatican in 2011 of sexually abusing minors, when Barros was a priest.

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

Marie Collins of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, who is quoted in this story, will be the featured speaker at the VOTF 2015 National Assembly in Hartford, Connecticut, on April 18.

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Angry protest over new bishop in Chile

Hundreds of demonstrators dressed in black barged into a cathedral in a city in southern Chile on Saturday and interrupted the installation ceremony for the city’s new Roman Catholic bishop, Juan Barros, whom they accuse of complicity in a notorious case of clerical sexual abuse, blocking his passage and shouting, ‘Barros, get out of the city!’

“The scene inside the Cathedral San Mateo de Osorno was chaotic, with television images showing clashes between Barros opponents, carrying black balloons, and Barros supporters, carrying white ones. Radio reports said several protesters tried to climb onto the altar where Bishop Barros was standing. After the ceremony, he left the cathedral through a side door escorted by police special forces. Outside, about 3,000 people, including local politicians and members of Congress, held signs and chanted demands that he resign.”

By Pascale Bonnefoy, The New York Times — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Voice of the Faithful 2015 National Assembly Will Take Place in Hartford, April 18

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Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic Church reform movement focusing on issues surrounding the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the laity’s role in Church governance, will hold its 2015 National Assembly on Saturday, April 18, at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford.

HartfordJuneLMitaWebShadowThe featured speaker will be Marie Collins, a Catholic clergy sexual abuse survivor from Ireland who pioneered child protection policies there and is on the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Organizers also have scheduled five interactive workshops to allow attendees to offer opinions and learn about VOTF activities surrounding several issues:

  • Degrees of Transparency: The Good, the Bad, and the Confusing in Diocesan Financial Accountability
  • Towards Healing the People of God
  • Let’s Talk About It: Can Clergy & Laity Speak to Each Other as Equals
  • Survivor Support: A Discussion with Fr. Tom Doyle
  • Your Voice for the Synod on the Family

MarieCollinsWebShadowCollins was among the first in March 2014 whom Pope Francis appointed to his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She has spoken out for years on the Church’s need to provide better protection for children and justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors. She helped the Dublin Archdiocese set up its Child Protection Service in 2003 and was a member of the Lynott Committee drafting the Church’s all-Ireland child protection guidelines. She was among survivors who lobbied the Irish government for the Murphy Commission, which reported in 2009 extensive clergy child abuse and coverup in the Dublin Archdiocese. In 2012, she spoke about being a clergy abuse victim at the Vatican symposium on child sexual abuse “Toward Healing,” which was attended by Church leaders from around the world.

The documentary “A Matter of Conscience: Confronting Clergy Sexual Abuse” also will be screened at the Assembly. The film, produced by Boston College faculty members John and Susan Michalczyk, features several members of Catholic Whistleblowers, a group Catholic priests and religious formed in 2013 to support other whistleblowers and identify shortcomings in Church child protection policies.

Registration for the 2015 National Assembly is at the Voice of the Faithful website, votf.org.

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 votf.org.

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Catholic Archbishop Philip Wilson charged with concealing child sex abuse / Newcastle Herald

Hunter-born Archbishop Philip Wilson has become the most senior Catholic clergyman in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex abuse allegation against another priest on what a pedophile priest victim has described as ‘a St Patrick’s Day we’ll never forget.’

“The Adelaide archbishop was charged on Tuesday with one count of concealing a child sex allegation made against  Hunter priest the late Jim Fletcher in the 1970s, nearly nine months after the NSW Special Commission of Inquiry recommended the charge.

“He is one of only a handful of Catholic clergymen in the world to be charged with concealing a child sex allegation against another priest, and only the third in Australia after former school principal and fellow Maitland-Newcastle vicar-general the late Tom Brennan became the first to face such a charge in 2012.”

By Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald, Australia — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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