Voice of the Faithful Focus


VOTF LogoVoice of the Faithful’s bimonthly news roundup highlighting
issues we face working together 
to Keep the Faith, Change the Church

March 3, 2017

TOP STORIES

Abuse victim quits Vatican Commission, citing ‘resistance’
“A high-profile member of a commission advising Pope Francis on ways to protect minors from sexual abuse by the clergy resigned from the panel on Wednesday Mar. 1, citing what she called ‘cultural resistance’(link is external) from the Vatican. Marie Collins, who was molested by a priest in Ireland when she was 13, expressed frustration over what she called reluctance among the Roman Catholic Church’s hierarchy to implement the commission’s recommendations — even those approved by the pope.” By Elisabetta Povoledo and Gaia Pianigiani (Story quotes Voice of the Faithful)
Sole abuse survivor on a Vatican sex-abuse panel quits(link is external), By Lisa Wangsness, The Boston Globe (Story quotes Voice of the Faithful)

Pope quietly trims sanctions for sex abusers seeking mercy
“Pope Francis has quietly reduced sanctions against a handful of pedophile priests(link is external), applying his vision of a merciful church even to its worst offenders in ways that survivors of abuse and the pope’s own advisers question. One case has come back to haunt him: An Italian priest who received the pope’s clemency was later convicted by an Italian criminal court for his sex crimes against children as young as 12. The Rev. Mauro Inzoli is now facing a second church trial after new evidence emerged against him.” By Nicole Whitfield, Associated Press
Survivors denounce handling of Peru abuse case(link is external), By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com
Is Francis actually backsliding on punishing abuse?(link is external) By Michael Sean Winters, Cruxnow.com

‘Criminally negligent’: Catholic archbishops criticize church’s handling of abuse scandal
“Australia’s most senior Catholic leaders have conceded that the church’s handling of the child sexual abuse crisis was ‘hopelessly inadequate,’(link is external) had catastrophic consequences, and amounted to ‘criminal negligence,’ Five of Australia’s metropolitan archbishops appeared before the child abuse royal commission and were asked to explain how the church had allowed the abuse of at least 4,444 children between 1980 and 2015.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardia

An opportunity for deep reform in the church
‘Sad to admit, the evidence is clear that the church in Australia is sick to its institutional core(link is external). It has a nasty, though treatable cancer that is being fed by a pervasive clericalism’ … Australia might also become a test bed for what needs repair and how it can be done in the Catholic Church. The facts are friendly. Those reported in La Croix International by Frank Brennan on Feb 14 are staggering statistics. Some of them are new and some are have been in the public domain for some years.” By Peter Day, La Croix International
The Catholic wrap-up at the Australian government’s abuse inquiry(link is external), By Frank Brennan, La Croix International

Cardinal Burke presides over trial investigating Guam archbishop
“Cardinal Raymond Burke, a church law expert and former head of the Vatican’s highest court, arrived in Guam Feb. 15 as the presiding judge in a church trial investigating allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) leveled against Archbishop Anthony Apuron of Agana. The Vatican press office confirmed a ‘tribunal of the first instance’ was constituted by the Vatican Oct. 5 and its presiding judge is Cardinal Burke.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic New Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Founder steps down while SNAP considers new directions
“In a matter of weeks, an extreme makeover changed the face of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)(link is external). Gone is David Clohessy, its national director and the relentless force behind the group’s advocacy efforts. Gone is Barbara Blaine, its president and the former Catholic Worker … What remains, SNAP says, is its wide network of volunteer leaders who perform “the vast majority” of its work outside public view, as well as its longstanding commitment to survivors of sexual abuse.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

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Clerical culture blamed in abuse survivors resignation from papal commission

bishopshatswebIn editorializing today (Mar. 3) on the resignation of abuse survivor Marie Colllins from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, National Catholic Reporter has once again pointed out that a clerical culture blocks Church reform that would better address the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

NCR says, “A resistance to change that is planted deep within the all-male clerical culture is the largely unaddressed issue at the heart of the scandal and has been since the first major story about it appeared in these pages more than 30 years ago.”

From the beginning of its efforts against clergy sexual abuse, Voice of the Faithful has pointed to the clerical culture as an underlying cause. By May 2011, the U.S. Catholic bishops had produced their study of the scandal, releasing the results of its John Jay College report. VOTF reviewed the study and released its conclusions that October. Among many points in this exhaustive review of the report,

VOTF concluded that conspicuously absent from the bishops’ study was clericalism, as a major influence “in explaining why priests sexually abused minors and the hierarchy enabled it to continue.” VOTF then defined clericalism as “the lived belief that clergy are different, separate, and exempt from the norms, rules, and consequences that apply to everyone else.”

You can read “Voice of the Faithful’s Conclusions About the John Jay College Report, The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010” by clicking here. VOTF also maintains a webpage called “Clericalism: Reality & Concerns” that can be reached by clicking here.

NCR has editorialized in the same vein a day after Collins’ resignation:

“What we know now is that all of the emotional and intellectual investment of victims, all the lofty words and intentions of countless bishops forced to acknowledge the deep corruption of the institution, all of the straining for some manner of justice by those in the wider, secular culture, mean nothing inside the community if the clergy culture continues to refuse to confront itself and its entrenched and unyielding role in sustaining the sexual abuse scandal … What is necessary to finally put this scandal behind us is a chorus of clerical voices demanding reform of their own culture, demanding that the all-male clerical caste engage in the painful work of understanding what their culture has become, how it could be so deformed that it was able to justify what some have termed the “soul-killing” of the community’s children.”

VOTF will continue to join our voices with NCR’s to proclaim that “until that culture changes, children will remain in harm’s way within this church.”

Read the entire editorial here …

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Marie Collins’ resignation today from Vatican commission is a blow to the Church’s child protection efforts

MarieCollinsWebShadowVoice of the Faithful is disheartened at Marie Collins’ resignation today from the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. The lone clergy abuse survivor left on the commission she expressed her frustration at the inability of the commission to move the Catholic Church to more universal and effective child protection measures and healing from its clergy sexual abuse scandal.

VOTF has known Collins to be dedicated to the protection of minors and a stalwart force against the Church’s intransigence in addressing clerical sex abuse. As the featured speaker at VOTF’s 2015 National Assembly, she expressed great hope in the Commission’s work and a willingness to be patient while the church worked to implement child protection measures globally. She also has supported VOTF’s Broken Vessels™ Healing Circles that offer a path towards healing for abuse victims/survivors.

“Marie Collins is strong, courageous, and persistent,” said Donna B. Doucette, VOTF executive director. “If she has lost hope because the Vatican bureaucracy is thwarting progress on child protection, Pope Francis should respond by firing all the Curia department staff who refuse to implement or delay programs that protect children. The Church cannot ignore modern-day prophets like Marie and still claim to care about removing clerical sex abusers.”

In announcing her resignation, Collins expressed dismay at the Commission’s progress, saying, “I believe the setting up of the Commission, the bringing in of outside expertise to advise him (Pope Francis) on what was necessary to make minors safer, was a sincere move. However, despite the Holy Father approving all the recommendations made to him by the Commission, there have been constant setbacks. This has been directly due to the resistance by some members of the Vatican Curia to the work of the Commission.”


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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Lent Starts Today — Begin with Voice of the Faithful’s Ash Wednesday Reflection

Dark artistic cross on a shaded rough textured brick wall, lit by a sun ray, with copy space for text

Just as the Israelites were about to enter the Promised Land, God sent them back into the wilderness, to roam there for 40 years and learn what really matters: God’s faithful love and word. They were to become vessels “for lofty use, dedicated, beneficial for the master of the house, ready for every good work.” (2 Timothy 2:21)

The 40-day Lenten season is our wilderness, our time for introspection, and Voice of the Faithful has prepared several Lent reflections. Each Reflection web page will offer you a reflection, a list of liturgical readings, and links to liturgical readings on the USCCB website. You will be able to go back and forth through the Reflections by using links at the bottom each Reflection web page.

Just click here to get started …

We hope you will find these reflections helpful as you prepare to enter the peace of our risen Lord on Easter morning.

We are especially grateful to those who so generously shared their reflections with us so that we could bring them to you: Priscilla Deck, Mary Freeman, Pat Gomez, Margaret Roylance, and Susan Vogt.

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Clergy abuse victim, Marie Collins, has resigned from the Vatican’s child protection body as of today

Voice of the Faithful knows Marie Collins to be dedicated to the protection of children from clergy sexual abuse and the healing of abuse victims/survivors. That she has decided to resign from the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors shows how extremely frustrating the Catholic Church’s resistance to accountability and healing from the scandal has been. In an article in The Irish Times today she said it has been “just shocking to me that in 2017 I can still come across these defensive, inflexible attitudes in men of the church, the same attitudes I saw 20 years ago when I was trying to bring my own case to justice here in Dublin. That’s what’s really the most shocking.”

Read more …

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Pope Francis offers mercy to child abusers

clerical-collarOpinions differ over how Pope Francis is handling the Church’s clergy sexual abuse scandal. But setting aside questions of mercy vs. justice as debated in a recent Associated Press story, we think that some of the most problematic comments come in the story’s last paragraph:

“Francis scrapped the commission’s (Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors) proposed tribunal for bishops who botch abuse cases following legal objections from the congregation (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). The commission’s other major initiative — a guideline template to help dioceses develop policies to fight abuse and safeguard children — is gathering dust. The Vatican never sent the template to bishops’ conferences, as the commission had sought, or even linked it to its main abuse-resource website.”

You can click here to read the rest of the Associated Press’ story.

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‘Criminally negligent’: Catholic archbishops criticize church’s handling of abuse scandal / The Guardian

Catholic BishopAustralia’s most senior Catholic leaders have conceded that the church’s handling of the child sexual abuse crisis was ‘hopelessly inadequate,’ had catastrophic consequences, and amounted to ‘criminal negligence.’

“Five of Australia’s metropolitan archbishops appeared before the child abuse royal commission on Thursday (Feb. 23), asked to explain how the church had allowed the abuse of at least 4,444 children between between 1980 and 2015.

“Perth archbishop, Timothy Costelloe, said a major cause of the abuse complaints and the abysmal response to complaints was the leadership’s belief in the ‘untouchability of the church,’ which filtered down to bishops and priests.

“‘The church in a sense saw itself as a law unto itself; that it was somehow or other so special and so unique, and in a sense so important, that it stood aside from the normal things that would be a part of any other body,’ Costelloe said.”

By Christopher Knaus, the Guardian — Read more …

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