Posts Tagged Catholic Church reform
What continues to thwart the work of the church in finally putting this scandal behind us is that the hierarchy has yet to undertake the deep and likely painful examination of the role the all-male clerical culture of the church has played in this scandal. At its core, this scandal is not about sex, it is about how power and authority are wielded in the church. Until that changes, little else will.”
By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff — Read more …
Could giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops make things worse for progressive Catholics?
A lot has been written about Pope Francis’s goal of making the church more democratic, with less control by the Vatican and more power to individual bishops. In an ideal world, not only would the Vatican have less say in choosing bishops, but priests and laity would have a larger role in the selection of their leaders.
“However, unless the institutional church actually reaches that goal, and power truly devolves to the grassroots, giving more autonomy to Catholic bishops might make things worse, not better, at least for progressive Catholics.
“While Pope Francis’s appointments of often have elevated reformers to power, he cannot replace every powerful leader in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).
“And the bishops now leading U.S. Catholics skew conservative. Indeed, in 2014, one bishop speaking on background confided that only about a third of American bishops were totally on board with Francis’s agenda, about a quarter were definitely against, and the rest were still figuring out where they stood. Not much appears to have changed in the intervening years.”
By Celia Wexler, Contributor, Huffington Post — Read more …
Married priests: Groups call on U.K. church to have national, courageous conversation / National Catholic Reporter
“Chris McDonnell, secretary of the Movement for Married Clergy, says the current model of Catholic priesthood, where the priest does everything, is unsustainable.” Over the years, Voice of the Faithful has often called for married priests, e.g., “A Petition to the American Bishops for the Ordination to the Priesthood of Married Catholic Men in the United States.”
“The ordination of married men to the priesthood ‘needs to be explored openly within the church in England and Wales at national and diocesan levels,’ the retired bishop of Portsmouth, England, has said.
“Speaking to NCR, Bishop Crispian Hollis said he was ‘increasingly aware’ of the pressure which priests are under due to the shortage of priests. He believes the issue of ordaining married men should not be left to ‘conversations within parishes and among the lay faithful.’
“His comments were made as new figures released by the National Office for Vocations in England and Wales showed a drop in the number of men entering formation for the diocesan priesthood. Director of the office, Benedictine Fr. Christopher Jamison, described the fall as ‘disappointing.'”
By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter — Read more … — Also of note, “Priests’ group accuses bishops of refusing to support pope’s openness to reform”
In recent years, the church has made great progress opening its doors to people with disabilities. Most churches now have physical ramps that give people with limited mobility access to the spiritual nourishment of the church.
“But what about the Catholic faithful who are inhibited from entering the church, not by a physical disability but a sacramental one? When survivors of sexual abuse by members of the clergy encounter the symbols of Christianity through which they were abused, they may experience feelings ranging from severe discomfort to panic attacks. I consider these “sacramental disabilities.” One young girl, for example, was told by the priest who sexually abused her that if she ever told anyone about what he did to her, Jesus would come down from the cross and kill her. One young boy was sexually molested by a priest at the altar. Unless their trauma is addressed, survivors like this young boy and girl might never be able to walk through the doors of the church or participate fully in the sacramental life of the church.
“What might be a charitable response to those suffering from a sacramental disability? Wheelchair ramps help disabled persons enter into a church building. There is a need for spiritual ramps to enable Mother Church to go in the other direction: to come down and seek out those who have been sacramentally disabled, knowing that it is extraordinarily difficult for survivors to speak of their abuse to anyone, let alone ask for sacramental modifications.”
Catholics for Renewal has drafted this letter in consultation with many Catholics strongly committed to the teachings of Jesus and their Church. People of the Church have been distressed by the increasing failings of our Church, particularly in the context of the evidence before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
Australian Catholics are invited to consider and sign below the following Open Letter to the Bishops of Australia. The Open Letter provides an opportunity, consistent with the Church’s Code of Canon Law, for the faithful – lay people, religious, priests, all members of the Church – to seek renewal of the Church.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has exposed grave governance failures in our Church, failures that undermine its very mission. We, the undersigned Catholics of Australia, write to you as Pilgrim People of God, accepting shared responsibility for our Church, expressing our sense of faith which Vatican II recognised as critical to the life of the Church, and asking you our bishops to listen and to act decisively, executing necessary reforms now.
Over several decades we have seen our Church declining steadily to its now shameful state. Countless Catholics have been alienated, particularly younger generations who are our Church’s future. The Royal Commission has now exposed dysfunctional governance, an entrenched culture of clericalism, and a leadership not listening to the people. Too many bishops have denied the extent of clerical child sexual abuse and its systemic cover-up, and even protected paedophiles ahead of children.
The Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry also found that the Church’s governance contributed to coverups and further abuse. Yet the failings go beyond the scandal of child sexual abuse. Archbishops have admitted to “a catastrophic failure of leadership”, and some have spoken of ‘criminal negligence’. Church credibility has been squandered. To rebuild trust, there must be reform of governance based on Gospel values, reflecting servant leadership and engagement with the faithful. There has to be accountability, transparency, and inclusion particularly of women.
Changing processes is not enough. We ask each and every bishop to act now on these reforms:
- Eradicate the corrosive culture of clericalism – “an evil . . . in the Church” (Pope Francis).
- Become truly accountable with full involvement of the faithful, including diocesan pastoral councils, and diocesan assemblies or synods; with pastoral plans and annual diocesan reports.
- Appoint women to more senior diocesan positions, such as chancellor and delegate of bishops.
- Hold diocesan synods/assemblies in 2018, with deanery and parish listening sessions, to develop the agenda for the national 2020 Plenary Council; and as part of normal diocesan governance.
- Further remodel priestly formation, including ongoing development, assessment and registration.
- Reconcile publicly and fully with all the persons abused, their families and communities, and commit to just redress.
- Send an urgent delegation, including laity, to Pope Francis:
- urging him to purge child sexual abuse from the Church: legislating civil reporting of abuse, and ensuring effective discipline, major canon law reform, and review of priestly celibacy;
- advising him of the Royal Commission’s exposure of the Church’s global dysfunctional governance; particularly its clericalist culture and lack of accountability, transparency, and inclusiveness, especially the exclusion of women from top decision-making positions; and
- requesting immediate reform of bishop selection processes, fully including the faithful in identifying the needs of dioceses and local selection criteria.
None of the above proposals requires deferral to the Holy See or awaiting the Royal Commission’s report before acting. All these actions are within your own competence. We ask you to lead the reform of our Church now, acting promptly and decisively – anything less would be a betrayal of the Gospel.
We pray that the Spirit guide us all at this critical time.
Catholics of Australia
“The inquiry found 339 victims, 228 of whom were under 15 at the time of the abuse. Only 165 of their cases were eventually reported to justice authorities. Of the alleged abusers, 28 were transferred to another parish or to a foreign country once accusations against them surfaced, it said. Significantly, the inquiry found that 16 of the 32 alleged abusers were accused after 2000, the year the bishops’ conference decided to tighten its abuse guidelines and require that abusive priests be turned over to the authorities.”
A hard-hitting French television investigation has accused 25 Catholic bishops of protecting 32 accused clerical sex abusers in France over the past half century and often transferring them to other parishes or even other countries when they were singled out for sexual abuse of minors. The French bishops’ conference declined an invitation to participate in the France 2 television program aired March 21. A conference spokesman accused journalists of trying to blackmail the church, an allegation the program’s editor vigorously refuted.”
By Tom Heneghan of The Tablet in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Head of Vatican child protection commission pledges pope’s continuing commitment to rooting out clergy sex abuse / National Catholic Reporter
“Let there be no doubts: no other topic is more important for the life of the church,’ Cardinal Sean O’Malley said.”
“In the midst of a month in which the effectiveness of Pope Francis’ measures to fight clergy sexual abuse has come into question, Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley pledged Thursday (Mar. 23) that the pontiff is still ‘thoroughly committed to rooting out the scourge of sex abuse.’
“O’Malley, the head of Francis’ Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, told participants of an education seminar hosted by the group that ‘there is simply no justification in our day for failures to enact concrete safeguarding standards for our children.’
“‘Let there be no doubts: no other topic is more important for the life of the church,’ said the cardinal. ‘If the church is not committed to child protection, our efforts at evangelization will be to no effect; we will lose the trust of our people and gain the opprobrium of the world.’”
By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …