Archive for January, 2017

Archdiocese of New York priests receive biting letter on finances from Cardinal Dolan, while Hoboken parish kicks through veil of financial secrecy

Cardinal Dolan contemplates selling NY chancery in biting letter to priests
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan has informed his clergy he is considering moving his archdiocese’s headquarters out of the building it now occupies in midtown Manhattan in a bid to save money and to correct what he says is an ‘unfair and inaccurate perception of the archdiocese as some bloated, money-grabbing corporation.’ The cardinal revealed the possible move in a highly charged letter to his priests and deacons in late November in which he also takes the clergy to task for complaining about how the archdiocese collects money from its parishes and exhorts them to challenge parishioners to donate more frequently and abundantly.”

Hoboken parish kicks through veil of financial secrecy
By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Every year, the people of Ss. Peter and Paul parish here are presented with an annual report that spells out, in clear language and inviting format, an inventory of how their church is doing. The graphics are sparkling, but there are few pious sentiments. Lots of facts and figures. It’s more like a report to corporate shareholders than to a typical Catholic parish congregation. That is deliberate, says Msgr. Robert S. Meyer, pastor of the Catholic Community of Ss. Peter and Paul, located in the middle of a square-mile urban enclave on the Hudson River, just minutes from lower Manhattan via train. The city of 50,000 has boomed over the past few decades, in the process emerging as the dictionary definition of gentrification.”

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Catholic bishops rule in their dioceses; who gets a say in their appointment?

Catholic BishopJan. 10, 2017 – Four U.S. Catholic bishops have reached retirement age and five more will in 2017, and their dioceses await word about who their next bishop will be. The stakes are high. Bishops rule in their dioceses.

Voice of the Faithful has long advocated for the widest possible input in selecting local bishops. Catholic lay people have the right and responsibility to comment and an expectation of being heard on issues important to the church. Not much is more important than who leads the local diocese. But papal nuncios (ambassadors), who recommend bishop candidates to the pope, listen only to a few influential clerics and even fewer lay people.

Pope Francis has made clear his desire for casting the widest possible net for bishop candidates. Most recently, the pontiff told his nuncios, “You cannot be content to fish in aquaria, in the reserve or in the breeding grounds of ‘friends of friends,’” he said.

To help ensure the laity is heard, VOTF provides a website, votf.org/bishop, where lay people can become involved in the process. They can easily express their concerns and recommendations in three areas: 1.) outstanding needs and opportunities in the diocese; 2.) candidates’ ideal qualities and qualifications; and 3.) priests who would be excellent candidates for their bishop.

More than 500 Catholics in nearly a dozen dioceses from New England to Alaska have submitted their comments on the website. Recommendations made on the website go directly to Archbishop Christophe Pierre, the present U.S. apostolic nuncio.

U.S. bishops who already have submitted letters of resignation to the Pope, required at age 75, are:

  • Archbishop Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.;
  • Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona;
  • Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport, Iowa; and
  • Bishop Stephen Blaire of Stockton, California.

U.S. bishops who turn 75 this year are:

  • Bishop Francis DiLorenzo of Richmond, Virginia;
  • Bishop Ronald Herzog of Alexandria, Louisiana;
  • Bishop Alvaro Corrada Del Rio, S.J., of Mayagüez, Puerto Rico;
  • Bishop Joseph Pepe of Las Vegas, Nevada; and
  • Bishop Robert Meunch of Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Several dioceses, where the Pope has accepted the bishops’ resignations, await replacements. They are:

  • Allentown, Pennsylvania, former bishop John Barres now bishop of Rockville Centre, New York;
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming, former bishop Paul Etienne now archbishop of Anchorage, Alaska;
  • Cleveland, Ohio, former bishop Richard Lennon resigned for health reasons;
  • Indianapolis, Indiana, former archbishop Joseph Tobin now archbishop of Newark, New Jersey
  • Juneau, Alaska, former bishop Edward Burns now bishop of Dallas, Texan;
  • Pensacola-Tallahassee, Florida, former bishop Gregory Parkes now bishop of St. Petersburg, Florida;
  • Raleigh, North Carolina, former bishop Michael Burbidge now bishop of Alexandria, Virginia.

Catholics in any of these dioceses can use votf.org/bishop to send their input about their next bishop to the U.S. apostolic nuncio.


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jan. 10, 2017

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.

Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360

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Call for married Catholic priests renewed amid declining number of celibate clergy

The numbers are becoming alarming – too many Catholics for too few priests in many parts of the world. As 2017 begins, Catholic Church watchers are again stressing how the Church must find a way to minister to the faithful with so few priests and how one possible solution could be to relax priestly celibacy.

Two examples suffice to show the situation’s urgency, too few priests to ensure proper ministry, especially availability of the Eucharist:

  • Brazil has 140 million Catholics and only 18,000 priests, one priest for every 7,800 Catholics
  • The United States has 80 million Catholics and only 37,500 priests for its 17,233 parishes – already 3,499 parishes have no priest in residence despite numerous parish closures in the past decade.

In 2013, the Voice of the Faithful movement, which supports a married priesthood, stated, “Every Catholic understands the need for spiritual nourishment, especially for the regular reception of the Body and Blood of Christ in the Eucharist … We also understand the responsibility of the bishops and priests to make the Eucharist available to the faithful.”

In Brazil, leading Catholic theologian Leonardo Boff is suggesting that married priests who have left ministry, like himself, be allowed to return and that the Brazilian bishops have asked Pope Francis specifically for this. For those who might easily dismiss his suggestion, the National Catholic Reporter recently pointed out that Francis has long thought about a married priesthood. Then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, archbishop of Buenos Aires said the celibate priesthood is a “matter of church law and tradition, not doctrine, and “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change.”

In the United States, Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president, said that VOTF’s 2013 petition to U.S. bishops asked them “to request a pastoral provision from the Pope that would allow them to accept married Catholic men for ordination.” According to VOTF’s petition, the same procedures would be used as “in the pastoral provisions that have allowed married Episcopalian, Anglican and other Protestant clergy to be ordained in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Either one of these solutions surrounding priestly celibacy could help alleviate the Catholic priest shortage. As VOTF’s 2013 petition concluded, “Certainly in every diocese there are mature married men, with children or even grandchildren, who possess a deep Eucharistic spirituality and might consider ordination in order to provide the Eucharist to the faithful.”


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.orgContact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360

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Hundreds of church sex abuse victims continue to come forward / The Boston Globe

maningriefweb“Over the past 12 years, the (Boston) archdiocese has spent nearly $35 million on counseling, psychiatric medications, and other services for survivors. Since 2003, it has paid about $215 million to settle legal claims, church officials say.”

Fifteen years after the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston broke into public view, hundreds of victims around the world continue to come forward, including some who say they were attacked as recently as 2001, advocates said Thursday (Jan. 5). Two victims’ support groups and a lawyer who has represented more than 2,000 survivors worldwide denounced church officials for doing too little to help those who were abused and to protect children from harm, despite ongoing revelations about the scope of the crisis.

“‘You have reportedly the most moral institution in the world acting the most immoral,’ attorney Mitchell Garabedian said at a news conference Thursday (Jan. 5) in downtown Boston. ‘There is no excuse for it.’

By Laura Crimaldi, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this story and see also “Our Fathful Revolution” by Voice of the Faithful.

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Our Faithful Revolution

churchfacadewebshadowIn this first week of a new year, Voice of the Faithful reflects.

Voice of the Faithful, a community of Roman Catholics committed to service and reform, has always sought to “Keep the Faith, Change the Church.” We are faithful Catholics seeking to change those Church structures and processes that impede lay voices and change Church cultures that exhibit a clericalism that separates the clerical from the lay rather than binding them pastorally and collegially.

Such clericalism often stifles the people of God. Pope Francis has said as much and condemned clericalism repeatedly, recently saying that “the spirit of clericalism is an evil that is present in the Church today, and the victim of this spirit is the people, who feel discarded and abused.”

The story of Voice of the Faithful’s founding is well documented. The movement exploded onto the scene in 2002 along with the burgeoning visibility of Church scandal, specifically clergy sexual abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Boston, chronicled most effectively by The Boston Globe in 2002 and 2003.

The movement spawned a frenzy of activity at the beginning, fueled by anger at and frustration with a Church that had, euphemistically, let us down. If you were to review the Globe stories, other media coverage of the crisis from that era, and books about Voice of the Faithful written since, you would discover that Voice of the Faithful could be credited with much of the rhetoric calling the Church to task.

By 2017 Voice of the Faithful, with commitment and tenacity, has settled into a long struggle in which we use our voices to help change Church structure and culture so that scandal has no fertile ground in which to grow. Progress has been slow, but steady.

We offer Catholics a community within the community of the Church where, as the people of God, we find a way to remain faithfully Catholic without giving up our baptismal right and responsibility to offer opinions and foster dialogue on issues important to the Church.

This is a post-Vatican II point of view well expressed recently by Fr. Louis Cameli, author of more than a dozen books and the Chicago archbishop’s Delegate for Formation and Mission. In an interview about post-Vatican II pontiffs in National Catholic Reporter Cameli said he “sees underlying, foundational points of continuity in the post-conciliar era.” Two of the points he made are especially pertinent to Voice of the Faithful:

  • “Communion: The Church is a set of interlocking and dynamic relationships among people and with the Triune God (in contrast to a primarily organizational-institutional-structural model of the Church).
  • “Dialogue: The Church is the place where believers speak and listen to each other, and it is the community of faith that speaks with and listens to the world. (This is the ecclesia discens et docens (Church teaching and learning) and, therefore, is a dynamic community instead of a static “container of truth.”)”

Communion and dialogue could be Voice of the Faithful watchwords. We are a community concerned with providing a voice for the voiceless and have introduced the language of clericalism, accountability, and transparency into the language of Church reform, language that is being reiterated by no less than the present occupant of St. Peter’s chair. While we have always supported victims/survivors and promoted programs that better protect children, we have focused most directly on finding, naming, and publicizing the underlying causes of scandal which must be addressed to stop and prevent scandal.

Kathleen McPhillips, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle, has succinctly framed the challenge Voice of the Faithful seeks to meet. In an article in the Newcastle Herald called “The royal commission has exposed a Catholic Church in desperate need of change,” she said:

“It is imperative [that] current religious groups undertake research into why this happened, as well as resourcing for the healing of survivors … Understanding how this happened is essential to the health of our community, and to the creation of new Church structures which are transparent, inclusive, accountable and respectful of women and children. The Church needs to show it is serious about cultural change – this is yet to be effectively demonstrated.”


More information about Voice of the Faithful is at www.votf.org.

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First Roman Catholic bishop indicted in clergy abuse scandal dies / The Boston Globe

“Terence McKiernan, a spokesman for BishopAccountability.org, an online archive of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, said (former bishop Thomas L.) Dupre’s story reflects the Vatican’s past failures — and ongoing struggles — in holding bishops accountable for the abuse of children.”

In many ways, former Springfield bishop Thomas L. Dupre epitomized the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church.

“Dupre, who died Dec. 30 at 83, was the first Roman Catholic bishop to be indicted in the scandal, which burst into public view 15 years ago this month when the Globe’s Spotlight team began reporting about the church hierarchy’s protection of priests who abused minors. Advocates for victims say Dupre had cultivated a culture of secrecy that kept such abuse shrouded for years.

“But the Vatican never punished him beyond accepting his resignation — at least not publicly. And Dupre was never prosecuted for his crimes because the statutes of limitation had expired, preventing prosecutors from seeking justice.

“‘This man should have been held accountable,’ said Eric MacLeish, a lawyer who represented two men who accused Dupre of abusing them as minors. ‘He should have died in prison for the damage he did.'”

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

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Brazil may soon have married priests, says Leonardo Boff / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis may soon fulfill the Brazilian bishops’ special request to allow married priests to resume their priestly ministry, liberation theologian Leonardo Boff said in a Dec. 25 interview in the German daily Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger.

“‘The Brazilian bishops, especially the pope’s close friend Cardinal Claudio Hummes, have expressly requested Pope Francis to enable married priests in Brazil to return to their pastoral ministry,’ Boff said. ‘I have recently heard that the pope wants to fulfill this request — as an experimental, preliminary phase for the moment confined to Brazil.’

“With its 140 million Catholics, Brazil needs at least 100,000 priests but it only has 1,800, which is a ‘catastrophe,’ Boff said …”

By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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