Archive for September, 2015

Pope Francis’ balancing act / The Boston Globe

Will Pope Francis come to America as a healer or a divider? A bit of both, I guess. A healer, surely, by intent. But by situation, for some, a divider. This pope has a double orientation — as the first pope to have a respected predecessor, with a loyal following, living next door to him; and as the first pope from the New World, with a populist instinct and gift. I think of him as a kind of Scarlet Pimpernel operating behind enemy lines. Well, not quite enemy lines, but alien divides. For there are two Catholic churches now, and each is in some degree alien to the other. One, the Second Vatican Council church, the people of God, is people-centered. The other, the church of the hierarchy, is pope-centered.”

By Garry Wills, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.

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Pope Francis to find a church in upheaval / The New York Times

The Roman Catholic Church that Pope Francis will encounter on his first visit to the United States is being buffeted by immense change, and it is struggling — with integrating a new generation of immigrants, with conflicts over buildings and resources, with recruiting priests and with retaining congregants. The denomination is still the largest in the United States, but its power base is shifting.”

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

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Pope Francis’ U.S. visit spawns anxiety in clergy abuse victims / the Boston Globe

The news earlier this year that Pope Francis was coming to America hit Robert Costello “like a punch in the gut,” and as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse in the 1960s and ’70s, he is dreading the coming tsunami of media coverage of the papal visit.

“It has started already. At his job at Target, the pope’s face looks out from publications stacked in the magazine rack. ‘I have to stare at them at work,’ he said in a Globe interview. ‘It’s unsettling.’

“For many survivors, the hype around Francis’ visit feels misplaced, for they believe the pope has not done enough to bring transparency to the church and accountability to abusers and those who sheltered them.”

By Mark Arsenault, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Pope Francis, the church sex abuse scandal is not over / The Boston Globe

When he visits the United States this week, Pope Francis is likely to repeat his acclaimed vow of ‘zero tolerance’ for clergy who sexually abuse minors.

“For most Americans, this will have a reassuring ring. We assume we know what the pope means — that the global Catholic Church now adheres to the same ‘one strike and you’re out’ policy that, at least in theory, has bound all US bishops since 2002.

“That rule says that clergy guilty of ‘even a single act’ of sexual abuse will be ‘removed permanently’ from ministry.

“But this isn’t what the pope is saying. The troubling fact is that zero tolerance still is not compulsory in the global Catholic Church. It exists in the United States only because of the public outrage that engulfed American bishops in 2002, following revelations that they had kept child molesters in ministry. They obtained special permission from the Vatican to adopt a tougher measure.”

By Anne Barrett Doyle, Commentary in The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Sex abuse survivor revives one-man play for Pope’s visit / America magazine

Ten years ago, poet, playwright and performer Michael Mack Googled the name of the priest who had sexually abused him decades earlier when he was an 11-years-old boy living in North Carolina. He found out his abuser was alive and living in Worcester, Mass., not too far from where Mack lived in Boston. After years of holding imaginary conversations with the priest who had molested him, Mack decided to seek him out to have a real one. What followed is the subject of “Conversations with My Molester: A Journey of Faith,” a play written and performed by Mack and directed by Daniel Gidron, which will open in New York City on Sept. 24, the day Pope Francis arrives there as part of his visit to the United States …

“The ongoing question, he said, is how to try and do something positive and effective.

“Towards that end, on Saturday, Sept. 19, the Catholic lay group The Voice of the Faithful is partnering with Mack in a day-long restorative-justice healing circle at the theater before a preview performance of the play that evening.”

By Margot Patterson, America magazine — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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Catholic women sharply call for Synod to open to women’s participation, voices / National Catholic Reporter

A diverse global network of Catholic women is set to launch an expansive and compelling collection of writings before the opening of October’s Synod of Bishops, pointedly calling on the male prelates to include their half of humanity and its experience in the synod’s discussions.

“In 40 short essays mixing the sociological, theological, and sometimes deeply personal, the writers raise a number of weighty concerns for the hotly anticipated worldwide meeting of prelates on family life — centered on the fact that extraordinarily few women are invited or involved.

“At the heart of many of their concerns, however, is their own exclusion from the Synod process. While Francis has appointed 30 women to attend the Synod as auditors making contributions to the discussions, only the 279 male members of the meetings can vote …

“‘The absence of women’s perspectives at times of reflection on these issues is not only an act of disdain toward women, who make up more than half of religious and believers, it is also an impoverishment of Catholic life, writes (historian Lucetta) Scaraffia, one of 43 women writing for the essay collection, titled ‘Catholic Women Speak: Bringing Our Gifts to the Table.’”

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

The collection of essays will be launched in Rome on Oct. 1.

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Pope, Council of Cardinals discuss how bishops are chosen / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis has asked his international Council of Cardinals to study the way the church vets, identifies and appoints bishops around the world, looking particularly at the qualities needed in a bishop today.

“Near the end of the council’s meetings with the pope Sept. 14-16, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, Vatican spokesman, briefed reporters on its work.

“While one of the main tasks of the nine-member council is to assist Pope Francis with the ongoing reorganization of the Roman Curia, Lombardi said that from the beginning Pope Francis said he wanted the group to advise him on matters of church governance in general. With more than 150 new bishops being named each year in the Latin-rite church, identifying suitable candidates is a normal part of the governance of the universal church, the spokesman said.”

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

Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for greater lay input into selection of local bishops. VOTF has promulgated a proposal to achieve this, “Furthering the New Evangelization: Consulting the Laity on Candidates for the Episcopacy.” The proposal seeks to restore to the selection process many of the lay-involvement practices followed throughout the first millenium and well into the second, and, at the same time, it would recognize the authority of the pope (as affirmed in Canon Law and Vatican II) to make the final appointment of a bishop, generally from the recommendations submitted for each diocese.

VOTF presently maintains a first-of-its-kind web portal enabling Catholics in a diocese with an announced or impending vacancy to offer confidentially their thoughts on the needs of the diocese, the desired qualities of the next bishop, and the names of potential nominees directly to the Apostolic Nuncio.

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