Posts Tagged catholic laity

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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Francis: Spirit works in laypeople, ‘is not property of the hierarchy’ / National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis has again sharply denounced the culture of clericalism among priests in the Catholic church, calling it ‘one of the greatest deformations’ that must be confronted by the global faith community and saying it helps ‘diminish and undervalue’ the contributions that laypeople make.

“The pontiff has also strongly reaffirmed the right of laypeople to make decisions in their lives, saying that priests must trust that the Holy Spirit is working in them and that the Spirit ‘is not only the ‘property’ of the ecclesial hierarchy.’

“In a letter to Cardinal Marc Ouellet in his role as the head of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, released by the Vatican Tuesday (Apr. 25), Francis says he wants to speak to the members of the commission about how to better serve what he terms ‘the Holy Faithful People of God.’

“‘Evoking the Holy Faithful People of God is to evoke that horizon which we are invited to look at and reflect upon,’ states the pope. ‘It is the Holy Faithful People of God that as pastors we are continually invited to look to, to protect, to accompany, to sustain and to serve.'”

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

Voice of the Faithful wonders whether any clergy are listening to the Pope.

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Turning talk into action / The Irish Catholic

The decision to convoke a diocesan synod back in September 2014 was a bold move by Limerick’s Bishop Brendan Leahy who at the time was little over a year in office.

“After all, until last weekend (Apr. 9-10) there had not been a synod in Ireland in over half a century, and none in Limerick for 70 years.

“Having come from Dublin it was an opportunity for Bishop Leahy to get a feel for his flock. More importantly still it was a clear indication that this was a bishop willing to listen and take heed of what his faithful were telling him.

“Fast forward 18 months and Bishop Leahy now describes the synod as an ‘incredible journey’ that began because he ‘wanted to hear from the people exactly what they are concerned about and what we can do in the future to improve our Church and how it serves the people.’

“‘The great thing about it is that it has been a people-led journey. The people decided what would be on the agenda and the people voted,’ Dr Leahy said.”

By Cathal Barry, The Irish Catholic — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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With ‘Spotlight’ movie an award contender, Catholic reform movement assesses scandal / National Catholic Reporter (‘Spotlight’ received Best Picture Oscar a few days after the post was made)

The critically acclaimed movie ‘Spotlight’ could receive a Best Picture Oscar this Sunday. The film about how The Boston Globe investigated and brought to light clergy sexual abuse of children and its cover up in the Boston archdiocese has brought renewed awareness to the scandal worldwide.

“But many Catholics have had a heightened sense of the crisis all along. Some of those Catholics — determined to remain faithful while addressing the scandal — formed Voice of the Faithful only a couple of months after the Globe’s sensational January 2002 story appeared.

“VOTF continues its work nearly a decade and half later because the scandal remains — ‘a mass psychological dysfunction hidden in plain sight, which has stretched back decades or even centuries and will, unchecked, do precisely the same in the future,’ according to Peter Bradshaw’s “Spotlight” review in The Guardian.

“Amid the passionate indignation the scandal created, VOTF grew rapidly to comprise an international membership. Key to members is to remain faithful Catholics and to help redress and prevent scandal by changing the way the Church operates …”

By Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, in National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this commentary.

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Vatican’s failure to hold Bishop Barros accountable disheartens Voice of the Faithful Church reform movement

The Vatican’s recent statement that the Congregation of Bishops has found “no objective reason to preclude” Juan Madrid Barros’ appointment as bishop of Osorno, Chile, is extremely disheartening to Catholic Church reform movement Voice of the Faithful, especially in light of the promise of Francis’ papacy for a more accountable, collegial Church.

Barros is accused by victims of covering up for Fr. Fernando Karadima, whom the Vatican found guilty in 2011 of sexual abuse of minors. Apparently, the terse Vatican statement on Barros’ appointment does not address these allegations.

The Vatican’s position is particularly troubling in at least two ways.

First, Pope Francis appears to be going back on his word to hold bishops accountable for covering up clergy sexual abuse. He has said repeatedly that such accountability is necessary. In July 2014, for example, he is reported as saying bishops “will be held accountable” for failing to protect children from sexual abuse in his homily during Mass with clergy sexual abuse survivors. Similarly, following the meeting this past February of his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, the Vatican is reported to have vowed a keen awareness “that the issue of accountability is of major importance.”

Second, the concerns of clergy and laity in Osorno seem to have been ignored. Their attempts to bar Barros’ appointment failed, and congregants at his installation Mass created a near riot that drove the bishop to escape the cathedral through a side door. The Vatican’s failure to listen to clergy and laity in Osorno brings into question all of Pope Francis’ statements about his wishes to bring collegiality to Church governance, to listen to the laity and to make decisions at the local level.

Now installed, it’s hard to see how Barros could live up to what Francis admonished papal nuncios to heed in a June 2013 address: “In the delicate task of carrying out inquiries for episcopal appointments, be careful that the candidates are pastors close to the people, fathers and brothers …”

Pope Francis has addressed this issue many times over the past two years, but his most telling remark concerning how he would like to see the Church make decisions comes from his October 2013 interview with America magazine: “All the faithful, considered as a whole, are infallible in matters of belief … When the dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope goes down this road and is genuine, then it is assisted by the Holy Spirit .. We should not even think, therefore, that ‘thinking with the Church’ means only thinking with the hierarchy of the Church.”

In Osorno, no “dialogue among the people and the bishops and the pope” seems to have occurred, at the expense of Francis’ accountable, collegial Church. Barros is bishop, and the Vatican appears disinclined to remove him. Perhaps, in considering the situation, Barros will take to heart Chilean Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati’s remark. Ezzati is reported to have said that “a bishop can, eventually, resign.”

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Voice of the Faithful 2015 National Assembly Will Take Place in Hartford, April 18

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Voice of the Faithful, a Roman Catholic Church reform movement focusing on issues surrounding the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the laity’s role in Church governance, will hold its 2015 National Assembly on Saturday, April 18, at the Connecticut Convention Center, Hartford.

HartfordJuneLMitaWebShadowThe featured speaker will be Marie Collins, a Catholic clergy sexual abuse survivor from Ireland who pioneered child protection policies there and is on the Vatican’s Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Organizers also have scheduled five interactive workshops to allow attendees to offer opinions and learn about VOTF activities surrounding several issues:

  • Degrees of Transparency: The Good, the Bad, and the Confusing in Diocesan Financial Accountability
  • Towards Healing the People of God
  • Let’s Talk About It: Can Clergy & Laity Speak to Each Other as Equals
  • Survivor Support: A Discussion with Fr. Tom Doyle
  • Your Voice for the Synod on the Family

MarieCollinsWebShadowCollins was among the first in March 2014 whom Pope Francis appointed to his Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. She has spoken out for years on the Church’s need to provide better protection for children and justice for clergy sexual abuse survivors. She helped the Dublin Archdiocese set up its Child Protection Service in 2003 and was a member of the Lynott Committee drafting the Church’s all-Ireland child protection guidelines. She was among survivors who lobbied the Irish government for the Murphy Commission, which reported in 2009 extensive clergy child abuse and coverup in the Dublin Archdiocese. In 2012, she spoke about being a clergy abuse victim at the Vatican symposium on child sexual abuse “Toward Healing,” which was attended by Church leaders from around the world.

The documentary “A Matter of Conscience: Confronting Clergy Sexual Abuse” also will be screened at the Assembly. The film, produced by Boston College faculty members John and Susan Michalczyk, features several members of Catholic Whistleblowers, a group Catholic priests and religious formed in 2013 to support other whistleblowers and identify shortcomings in Church child protection policies.

Registration for the 2015 National Assembly is at the Voice of the Faithful website, votf.org.

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 votf.org.

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Reform groups’ petition asks Vatican to diversify lay voices at family synod / National Catholic Reporter

At the Synod of Bishops on the family held at the Vatican in October 2014, several couples from around the world were invited to attend as representatives of the Catholic laity. One American couple, Alice and Jeff Heinzen, spoke about the beauty of family life and the advantages of natural family planning, a practice embraced in the church’s teachings.

“But Deborah Rose-Milavec, executive director of FutureChurch, said, ‘While their voice and constituency should be represented, they should not be overrepresented. The purpose of the synod is to break new ground on these issues and to develop pastoral practices that reach out to Catholics who have not felt welcomed because they do not entirely conform to current teaching and practice.’

“In an effort to ‘widen the circle’ at the second synod on the family, scheduled for October 2015, reform groups FutureChurch, Voice of the Faithful and the American Catholic Council have drafted a petition calling for more diverse laity to be invited. Twenty other organizations have joined the cause. The letter, which launched Jan. 21, addresses Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops, and the bishops of the world. Organizers plan to deliver it March 4 by mail and email to the bishops, and hand-deliver a copy to Baldisseri at the Vatican.”

By Soli Salgado, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.

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