Posts Tagged priests

Sex-abuse report looms over Catholic dioceses / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

But if the past is any indication, the investigation is likely to yield a report horrific in detail and blistering in its censure of church authorities who may have failed to protect victims as far back as the mid-20th century. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Since July 2016, a grand jury seated in Pittsburgh has been quietly hearing testimony on alleged rape and sexual abuse of children by priests and others associated with the Roman Catholic Church.

The scope of the investigation spans seven decades and from one end of Pennsylvania to the other.

What is expected in the coming weeks is a report that could be the most comprehensive and geographically expansive official report ever produced in the United States on the enormity of the scandal.

The 40th Statewide Grand Jury had an 18-month term, extended by four months to the end of April, according to those familiar with its work.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro is refusing to confirm anything about the grand jury beyond the single indictment it has yielded so far — that of a Greensburg priest, the Rev. John Sweeney, who faces a June trial on a charge of sexually abusing a 10-year-old boy in the 1990s.

But if the past is any indication, the investigation is likely to yield a report horrific in detail and blistering in its censure of church authorities who may have failed to protect victims as far back as the mid-20th century.

By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful endorses U.S. priests’ statement on priestly formation

BOSTON, Mass., Apr. 11, 2018 – Voice of the Faithful, a movement of Roman Catholics whose major goals include supporting priests, endorses the recent statement made by the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests that calls for revisions in the training of men for ordination to the priesthood to ensure greater adherence to the tenets of the Second Vatican Council and teachings of Pope Francis.

The impetus for AUSCP’s statement stems from the 2016 mandate of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy that each bishop’s conference update its Program for Priestly Formation.

“Our study and reflection persuade us that a new Program of Priestly Formation needs more than minimal editing … It needs in-depth revisions,” the priests said in a letter to Cardinal Joseph Tobin, who leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on the Consecrated Life and Vocations. “Our comments are made in response to the significant challenges facing the Church in the United States.”

The priests include among these challenges fewer Catholics actively participating in the Church, fewer priests and candidates for the priesthood, fewer converts, fewer Church weddings, fewer baptisms, fewer parishes, and more people identifying themselves as “spiritual” rather than “religious.”

The AUSCP statement, “Preparing the Sixth Edition of the Program of Priestly Formation,” points to six overriding concerns: faithfulness to Vatican II, call to service, pastoral model of priestly formation, psychosexual development and celibacy, discernment processes, and faculty formation. As stated in their letter, these thoughts are “grounded” in Vatican II, in the writings, statements, and actions of Pope Francis, and in their own experiences. In their statement, the priests make recommendations to help address each of these concerns. Use this link to read the AUSCP’s entire letter and statement.

In endorsing this statement, VOTF points out it has long sought greater emphasis on Vatican II values, including less “clerical,” more pastoral priests, who place service as their highest calling. VOTF also sees as immensely valuable a greater emphasis on psychosexual training for the priesthood, which may have helped avert or at least ameliorate the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

The priests conclude their statement by pointing out that the “current seminary model was established nearly 500 years ago.” As its motto, “Keep the faith, change the Church,” suggests, VOTF would agree that time for change is here.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Apr. 11, 2018

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

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.

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Catholic sexual abuse partly caused by secrecy and mandatory celibacy, report finds / The Guardian

“The patriarchal nature of Catholic institutions meant that abuse went unchallenged and, while a small number of nuns were abusers, the report found the risk of offending was much higher in institutions where priests and religious brothers had minimal contact with women. The report estimated about 7% of clergy had abused children between about 1950 and 2000.” (The Guardian)

Mandatory celibacy and a culture of secrecy created by popes and bishops are major factors in why such high rates of child abuse have occurred in the Catholic church, a comprehensive study has found.

“The report, which looked at the findings of 26 royal commissions and other inquiries from Australia, Ireland, the UK, Canada and the Netherlands since 1985, found that while the endangerment of children in institutions has been considerably lowered in Australia, children remained at risk in Catholic parishes and schools and Catholic residential institutions in other countries across the world, especially in the developing world where there are more than 9,000 Catholic-run orphanages, including 2,600 in India.

“The patriarchal nature of Catholic institutions meant that abuse went unchallenged and, while a small number of nuns were abusers, the report found the risk of offending was much higher in institutions where priests and religious brothers had minimal contact with women. The report estimated about 7% of clergy had abused children between about 1950 and 2000.”

By Melissa Davey, The Guardian — Read more …

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Australian Catholic Church falls short on safeguards for children, study finds / The New York Times

In nearly 400 pages, the report traces the history of child sexual abuse in the global church and tries to identify factors that have contributed to it, with a particular focus on Australia. (The New York Times)

A study that examines child sexual abuse worldwide in the Roman Catholic Church has found that the Australian church has done less to safeguard children in its care than its counterparts in similar countries have.

“The report, released on Wednesday by the Center for Global Research at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, also found that the church’s requirement that priests be celibate was a major risk factor for abuse. And it said that the possibility of abuse in Catholic residential institutions, like orphanages, should be getting more attention, especially in developing countries.

“Experts said the report could put pressure on Pope Francis, and particularly the church in Australia, to do more to prevent abuse. The Australian church was rocked in June when Cardinal George Pell, an Australian who is one of the pope’s top advisers, became the highest-ranking Roman Catholic prelate to be formally charged with sexual offenses.

“Desmond Cahill, the report’s lead author, said its findings pointed to an urgent need to rethink the priesthood in the 21st century. He said the church should reconsider the celibacy requirement for priests.”

By Jacqueline Williams, The New York Times — 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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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”

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Now is the time for married priests / National Catholic Reporter

“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.”

It is time for the Catholic bishops to stop hoping for an increase in vocations to the celibate priesthood and to acknowledge that the church needs married priests to serve the people of God. We cannot have a Catholic Church without sacraments, and a priest is needed for the Eucharist, confession, and anointing.

“At the Last Supper, Jesus said, ‘Do this in memory of me,’ not ‘have a celibate priesthood.’ The need for the Eucharist trumps having a celibate priesthood.

“For at least 50 years, the Catholic Church in the United States has seen a drop in the number of priests. According to CARA reports, in 1970, there were 59,192 priests in the U.S.; by 2016, there were only 37,192. Meanwhile, the number of Catholics increased to 74.2 million from 51 million. That means the people/priest ratio grew from 861 Catholics per priest in 1970 to 1,995 per priest in 2016. These numbers include all priests both religious and diocesan, as well as retired priests. When the priests currently over 65 years of age die, these numbers will be even worse.”

By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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