Posts Tagged Catholic Church reform

Outraged Catholics say Australian church leaders are ‘locked in a misogynistic and unaccountable culture’ / Newcastle Herald

The failure so far of any decisive response in the way of systemic reform after the catastrophe of sex abuse by clergy has been the last straw for many committed Catholics who see their church leadership locked in a misogynistic and unaccountable culture. (Newcastle Herald)

Australian Catholic church leaders are ‘locked in a misogynistic and unaccountable culture’ that has failed to adequately respond to the child sexual abuse scandal and is denying the need for urgent reform, say Catholic groups meeting in Canberra on Friday (Mar. 23) to demand change.

“More than 50 leading Catholic reformists are expected to seek an urgent meeting with Australia’s bishops after a request to release the first formal church assessment of child abuse royal commission recommendations was declined last week by Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart.

“The lack of a decisive response on systemic reform after the ‘catastrophe of sex abuse by clergy’ was ‘the last straw for many committed Catholics,’ said Australian Catholic Coalition for Church Reform in a statement on Thursday (Mar. 22).

“Coalition convenor Peter Johnstone said the Canberra meeting is a direct response to the bishops’ refusal to release a Truth Justice and Healing Council analysis of the royal commission’s findings and recommendations before a bishops’ conference in May. It was given to a senior church leaders group several weeks ago.”

By Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald — Read more …

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Francis invites change, but we are the change / National Catholic Reporter

“It’s the average layperson living out the faith in the temper of the times who shapes the future. It is the visionary teacher, the loving critic, the truth-telling prophet that moves the church from one age to another.” (Joan Chittister in National Catholic Reporter)

There was a time in life when I wanted things done and wanted them done now. I still want things done now but over the course of the years, I discovered that, at least where the church is concerned, I was looking for action in the wrong places. As Sean Freyne, the Irish theologian and Scripture scholar, put it, ‘It’s a mistake to think that a pope has the power to do anything.’ Translation: The right to reign as an autocrat, to take unilateral action about almost anything, does not come with the miter and crossed keys. Nor, for that matter, does it come with the capes and crosses of bishops.

“Popes and bishops, I have come to realize, are the maintainers of the tradition of the church. When they move, it is commonly with one eye on the past — the point at which lies safe canonical territory. Only we are the real changers of the church.

“It’s the average layperson living out the faith in the temper of the times who shapes the future. It is the visionary teacher, the loving critic, the truth-telling prophet that moves the church from one age to another. It was those who had to negotiate the new economy who came to see fair interest on investments as the virtue of prudence rather than the sin of usury, for instance. It was those caught in abusive relationships who came to realize that divorce could be a more loving decision than a destructive family situation.

“And yet, the manner in which popes and bishops move, the open ear they bring to the world, the heart they show, and the love and leadership they model can make all the difference in the tone and effectiveness of the church.”

By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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‘Clericalized’ Catholic Church will not survive, says McAleese / The Irish Times

In Ireland ‘our church became an empire. We’re only now seeing the final dismantling of that patriarchal, misogynistic empire. So we’ve actually never seen our church fully flourish in the way that I think Christ intended,’ Ms. (Mary) McAleese said. (The Irish Times)

“The Catholic Church in its current form will not survive, former president Mary McAleese said in Rome on Thursday (Mar. 8).

“‘The clericalized church will not survive and that will be good. Just how long it might take or whether I’ll be around to see, or whether my children will be still Catholics, my grandchildren, that I don’t know.

“‘But frankly I did my best and the people who let me down in the job that I was given, the vocation as a Catholic mother and a Catholic woman, the people who let me down are not very far from here (in the Vatican),’ she said …

“In Ireland ‘our church became an empire. We’re only now seeing the final dismantling of that patriarchal, misogynistic empire. So we’ve actually never seen our church fully flourish in the way that I think Christ intended,’ Ms. McAleese said.”

By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times — Read more …

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Pope admits Catholic Church waited too long to respond to clergy abuse crisis / National Catholic Reporter

“Maybe the old practice of moving people around, of not facing the problem, kept our consciousness asleep,” the pope suggested. “Thanks to God, the Lord sent prophetic men and women in the church … who got others involved and began this work to face the problem head-on.” (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis has admitted that the Catholic Church waited too long before taking reports of clergy sexual abuse seriously, suggesting that the former practice of moving priests accused of abuse to new ministries instead of reporting them to authorities kept the church numb to the scope of the situation.

“In his first formal meeting Sept. 21 with the now three-year-old Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the pontiff also called ‘prophetic’ the men and women who urged the church for decades to face the problem.

“‘I know it has not been easy to start this work,’ the pope told the members of the commission in off-the-cuff remarks notable for their frankness. ‘You have had to swim against the current because there is a reality: the church has taken consciousness about these crimes in a delayed manner.’

”When the consciousness is delayed, the means for resolving the problem are delayed,’ said Francis. ‘I am aware of this difficulty. But it is a reality. I’ll say it so: We have come to this late.'”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Francis decentralizes most authority for liturgical translations to local bishops / National Catholic Reporter

“A comparison of the Italian text of the prior and new versions of the canon makes the change clear. Where the Italian says the Vatican was tasked before with ‘authorizing’ all liturgical translations, it is now asked simply to ‘review”‘ translations made by the bishops’ conferences. (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis has decentralized authority over how the texts used in the Catholic Church’s liturgies are translated from Latin into local languages, moving most responsibility for the matter from the Vatican to national bishops’ conferences.

“In a motu proprio issued Sept. 9, the pontiff says he is making a change to the church’s Code of Canon Law so that the Second Vatican Council’s call to make the liturgy more understandable to people is “more clearly reaffirmed and put into practice.”

“The motu proprio, given the title Magnum Principium, modifies two clauses of Canon 838. The rewritten clauses say simply that the Vatican is to ‘recognize’ adaptations of Latin liturgical texts approved by national bishops’ conferences.

“A comparison of the Italian text of the prior and new versions of the canon makes the change clear. Where the Italian says the Vatican was tasked before with ‘authorizing’ all liturgical translations, it is now asked simply to ‘review’ translations made by the bishops’ conferences.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Seeking a path from Pell to a Plenary Council / Commonweal

“The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the (clergy abuse) scandal to be so badly managed,” he (Francis Sullivan, head of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council) told me. “They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation.” (Commonweal)

Arriving in Sydney, Australia, this summer for a round of conferences sponsored by the Broken Bay Institute of the Australian Institute of Theological Education, I found a church confronting events likely to have a profound impact on its future: the Royal Commission’s completion of its work on an ‘institutional response to child sexual abuse’; the return of Cardinal George Pell from Rome to face charges on sexual abuse cases alleged to have taken place decades ago in the diocese of Ballarat; and the announcement of a Plenary Council for Australia set for 2020—the first since 1937.

“The three issues are interwoven. The Pell case frightens the institutional church for the ripple effects the trial might have on other investigations into clergy sexual abuse. It complicates the creative response of the Australian episcopate to the scandal: the creation of the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council launched shortly after the establishment of the Royal Commission and headed by Francis Sullivan, a lay Catholic who for fourteen years was chief executive of Catholic Health Australia. After the expected publication of the Royal Commission’s report at the end of this year, the Truth, Justice, and Healing Council will publish its own report. It will be interesting to see how the episcopate receives it. Created by the bishops, the council has nonetheless maintained an independent attitude; for example, it has refused the request of some bishops to cross-examine witnesses heard by the Royal Commission.

“Sullivan gave me his assessment of the impact of the Royal Commission hearings. ‘The hearings have laid bare the cultural factors that enabled the scandal to be so badly managed,’ he told me. ‘They can be summarized as issues of power, privilege, and participation. Who controlled decision-making, who was involved in decision-making, and who benefited from the decisions taken. The lack of transparency and the entitlement attitudes that underpin clericalism were given a lot of ventilation. This has opened public debate about the role of women, celibacy, seminary training, supervision of clerics, and the ethical use of church finances.’ The church, he added, has lost control of this public debate. ‘Its voice has been muted and compromised,’ he said. ‘Any semblance of a defensive tone is jumped on by critics and the majority of the leaders have been missing in action.'”

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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Sex abuse and the seal of the confessional / National Catholic Reporter

Priest sex abusers used confession to assuage their guilt, making it easier for them to repeat their crimes. (Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter)

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has just released its Criminal Justice Report in which it deals with many matters relating to the way child sexual abuse within institutions is handled by the Australian criminal justice system. In the course of that report, it recommends mandatory reporting of all suspected child sexual abuse within institutions and the creation of new offences of failing to take proper care to prevent such abuse.

“One recommendation that understandably created some media interest is that there should be no exemption to the reporting requirements for information provided in confession.

“The commission’s report produces convincing evidence, not only in Australia, but also overseas, that priest sex abusers used confession as a means of assuaging their guilt. It made it easier for them to repeat their crimes because confession was always available.”

Commentary by Kieran Tapsell in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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