Tuesday, August 20

Bombay Cardinal gives perspective on the Indian Church:

Although missionary work has been going on for two millennium in India -- St. Thomas the Apostle is considered its first evangelizer -- Christians number only 23 million among a population of more than 1 billion. Catholics total 18 million. "Our presence goes well beyond the numbers," the cardinal said. "We offer 20% of school education, 10% of all programs for the illiterate and health programs, 25% of all projects for widows and orphans, 30% of all available structures for lepers and AIDS patients."
"In my diocese alone, Bombay, we have 150 schools and university colleges in which 400,000 pupils study," Cardinal Dias observed.

Torturing human being for the sake of the animals:

Two arrested for terror tactics

Kleinert and Lotts, who live in an Allston commune, are members of the England-based group Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty (SHAC). SHAC`s goal is to shut down Huntingdon Life Sciences (HLS), a company based in England and New Jersey that does pharmaceutical testing on animals. SHAC claims the lab tortures animals and says Marsh sold HLS insurance. Marsh officials declined comment yesterday.Members of the 2-year-old group have fire-bombed the cars of British HLS employees and made death threats to hundreds of employees and their children, authorities said. They have beaten workers, vandalized homes and attempted to ``blind'' the company's marketing director. The group, which targets any entity associated with HLS, moved its terrifying tactics to the United States last year, where members have menaced employees nationwide whose companies have alleged HLS ties.Last month, the group detonated military-style smoke grenades at Marsh offices in Seattle. SHAC boasts of such indicents on their cryptic Web site.

Some Navy chaplains file suit against the Navy because of other Navy chaplains:

A federal judge has ruled that as many as 1,000 current or former Navy chaplains may take part in a religious-discrimination suit against the military service. U.S. District Judge Ricardo M. Urbina ruled this week that a suit filed by 25 Baptist, Evangelical and Pentecostal chaplains -- claiming that the Navy illegally favors Catholics, Episcopalians and other liturgical chaplains over their nonliturgical peers -- had cleared the legal hurdles to be certified as a class action....Arthur A. Schulcz Sr., the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said the Navy for years has employed a far higher percentage of Catholic and liturgical priests than of the faiths represented in the Navy's enlisted ranks."Nonliturgicals are at least four times the size of liturgicals in the ranks . . . but the liturgical chaplains have at times been almost two-thirds of the number of chaplains," he said. "It's an arbitrary and capricious system. That's not acceptable under the First Amendment."

A look at the mess in the Richmond diocese
Here's the link to the FCC chairman's statement on the St. Patrick's case. It's a .pdf file, BTW.
Someone just wrote me and said that according to his recollection, the novel (and maybe the movie too) The Robe gave us the Miracle of Sharing, too...anyone confirm or deny?
Archbishop Pell's statement about the abuse accusation
Lutherans Catholic-poaching in Chicago?

We thought it was Catholic," said Imelda Quintero, recounting the baptisms of her two children in 1997 at Iglesia La Sagrada Familia/Holy Family Church on the South Side. The church at 53rd and Maplewood has holy water dispensers and an icon of the Virgin of Guadalupe, the Catholic patron saint of Mexico, Quintero said, the pastor is called "father," and the service was nearly identical to the Catholic mass she was familiar with.But Sagrada Familia isn't a Catholic church. It's a Lutheran congregation, part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.It's one of a handful of Lutheran churches on the South Side and in Cicero that Catholic priests and parishioners say have misled Mexican immigrants into believing are Roman Catholic. Some parishioners complain that they had their children baptized and celebrated what they believed were other Catholic sacraments at what turned out to be Lutheran churches.

Maybe I'm glad I moved from Central Florida, after all...
A letter to VOTF members was sent out this morning from its president. The text:

I am writing in response to your messages and questions regarding the policies and positions of Voice of the Faithful. These questions seem to stem from two sources.

First, a number of individuals, including media commentators, allege that VOTF has become an organization of “dissident” Catholics. Citing two of our July 20th speakers as evidence, one commentator has gone so far as to call VOTF a “wolf in sheep’s clothing.” Second, we have learned that Bishop William Murphy (Rockville Centre, NY) and Bishop Edward Lori (Bridgeport, CT) have issued edicts that would ban VOTF members from the use of church property for meetings to discuss the sexual abuse crisis because of our alleged “dissident” views.

These stories highlight a serious misunderstanding, or deliberate distortion, of the mission, objectives, and philosophy of Voice of the Faithful. Many are astounded that our motives and actions could be so misinterpreted. But they have been. Therefore, I am writing to set the record straight as to these allegations.

Voice of the Faithful has grown out of its members’ deep concern for the Catholic Church in a time of profound crisis. For eight months, American Catholics have wept for their Church as revelations of clergy sexual abuse, and a massive cover-up by bishops and their staffs, have rocked the Church. Many of us have been embarrassed and angered by the behavior of so many members of the hierarchy.Catholic lay people seem to be unified in their desire that Church leaders make meaningful changes to redress the wrongs and take steps to ensure that sexual abuse does not occur again.

Those who are a part of Voice of the Faithful represent a spectrum of traditional, mainstream, and progressive views on many subjects. But there is unanimity of opinion on one matter: None of us wants the Catholic Church to be associated with persistent patterns of clergy sexual abuse. At our July 20th convention, I spoke these words: “I believe that Voice of the Faithful is part of a great, diverse family that accepts no label save one: Catholic. We are people united in our commitment to redressing one of the great social injustices of our times – the commission and cover-up of acts of clergy sexual abuse. This commitment gave birth to our common endeavor. This commitment is the goal we must never compromise.”

Our mission remains “to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Church.” Our goals remain (1) to support those who have been abused; (2) to support the vast majority of priests who are faithfully living their ministry; and (3) to shape structural change within the Church that will help ensure such abuse and cover-ups do not occur in the future.

Voice of the Faithful has not developed many policy positions to date; those it has adopted focus on the sexual abuse crisis. We have said that the Church has a responsibility to respond to survivors in a meaningful, healing way. We have said that bishops and laity in each diocese should engage in a serious and substantive dialogue. We have said that the structures of decision-making that gave rise to this crisis – secrecy
and deception – should be exposed to the healing power of sunlight and disclosure. These policies make sense. These policies respond to the crisis facing our Church. These policies address the real problems confronting parish priests, bishops, and laity.

On July 20, 2002, more than 4,200 people attended our first VOTF convention. Attendees included laity from the U.S. and abroad, priests, men and women of religious orders, and media representatives. We did not restrict attendance to VOTF members or to card-carrying Catholics. Rather, we invited people who wished to be a part of the “Response of the
Faithful.” The program of plenary speakers, breakout sessions, and celebration of Holy Mass framed a day of prayer and learning. There were many positive comments from attendees; some said it was one of the most spiritual and inspiring events they had ever attended.

Positive comments notwithstanding, Voice of the Faithful has been criticized for several speakers whom we invited to participate in the July 20th program. Of nearly 60 speakers who participated in the program, two have drawn sharp criticism. Thomas Arens, president of “We Are Church” in Germany, was one of five plenary speakers who addressed the “Sensus Fidelium” – the “sense of the faithful.” “We Are Church” has been criticized for holding positions at odds with current teaching
regarding celibacy and ordination of women priests. Dr. Debra Haffner, a non-Catholic and leader of several organizations that have taken positions at odds with the Catholic Church’s teaching on abortion and sexuality, spoke at a breakout session entitled, “Creating a Sexually Safe Parish.” The controversy involving these speakers must be addressed.

Catholics are entitled – perhaps obliged – to draw on experts in many fields, irrespective of their religious affiliation or position, to learn about the medical, legal, psychological, ethical, and behavioral dimensions of clergy sexual abuse. For most of us, the issues revealed in the sexual abuse scandal are unfamiliar, troubling, and require new knowledge. In the Dallas charter, the U.S. bishops recognized the need
for such counsel.

Some people believe we compromised our “centrist” position by inviting speakers who hold views that contradict the teaching of the Catholic Church. With respect to abortion and certain theories of sexual behavior, I agree. We should not have invited Dr. Haffner. She herself asked whether she might be too controversial for a Catholic audience. We invited her because we thought she had special expertise regarding the protection of school-age children. This judgment was in error.
Although she spoke only about how to create a “sexually safe parish” and specifically urged her audience to develop Catholic solutions, Dr. Haffner’s mere presence raised understandable doubts about VOTF’s commitment to Catholic teaching.

The situation is different with respect to Mr. Arens and “We Are Church.” Mr. Arens represented an organization of European Catholics who are a part of the global Catholic Church. Voice of the Faithful did not endorse Mr. Arens’ views, but extended him an opportunity to speak as we did to many others, including representatives of other Catholic organizations that hold very different positions from his on issues such as celibacy and the ordination of women. Indeed, we invited the Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Boston to speak on the same panel. He declined.

Let me be clear about what Voice of the Faithful does, and does not,
stand for. These are our policies and positions:

Voice of the Faithful is focused on those actions necessary to respond to survivors, to support priests who are living their vows,and to effect structural change that helps ensure this type of abuse never occurs again in the Catholic Church.

We accept the teaching authority of the Catholic Church..

We have taken no position on the many other issues that dividev Catholics in 2002.

We do not advocate the end of priestly celibacy, the exclusion of homosexuals from the priesthood, the ordination of women, or any of the other remedies that some have proposed.

We do not endorse any organizations or interest groups.

We do promote a full and open discussion about the root causes of the sexual abuse crisis and the remedies that are needed.

We do take the position that the bishops and the Vatican have failed to address the sexual abuse crisis and its consequences adequately.

We do take the position that bishops fail in their role as shepherds and teachers when they refuse to engage the laity in a meaningful and substantive discussion of the issues.

We do take the position that Pope John Paul II rightly called clergy sexual abuse “crimes,” and a “shame and scandal” for the Catholic Church..

We do believe that cleaning up this culture of deception and scandal is job #1 for the bishops.

Voice of the Faithful will stay true to its mission and goals. We will support survivors of clergy sexual abuse. We will support priests in the faithful discharge of their vows. And we will work for structural changes that help ensure that clergy sexual abuse does not occur again in the Catholic Church. Ours will remain a philosophy of “centrism,” of providing a voice for
all people in the Catholic Church. In this way, we will “Keep the Faith and Change the Church.”.

Don't forget:

Tonight at 7 Eastern, Our Sunday Visitor sponsors an on-line chat with Michael Dubruiel, author of Mention Your Request Here: The Church's Most Powerful Novenas, Praying in the Presence of the Lord with Fulton Sheen and the upcoming How-To Book of the Mass.

You'll need to click here to enter the chat.

By the way, if you go to this page and scroll down, you'll see two pictures of Michael - his official photo, and then him with a light on his head in the "Grace in Action" ad.

Lots of interesting stuff in the LATimes this morning. And I know, these links require registration, but you know, this seems to be the direction these news sites are going (I noticed the New Republic has entered the fray, well, in this regard), so you might as well just do it. I think the LA Times and Chicago Trib registrations are mutual. I think. Anyway:

How the Cathedral will become Catholic - a description of the ritual for the dedication of the LA Cathedral, with one element that I'd be very interested to see (and hear:)

To extend the censing of the altar through the building, a group of Vietnamese nuns from the Lovers of the Holy Cross religious order will walk the sanctuary carrying incense burners and singing in Vietnamese and English. "Our hymn is about God's love for all people," said Sister Mary, one of the nuns, whose convent is in Gardena. "The rhythm of the hymn is unique and close to our Vietnamese culture."

An account of the parties the Archdiocese will be hosting to celebrate the Cathedral and raise funds with tickets for the various events ranging from $125 to $25,000.

The article says that the funds will somehow reach the poor. Doesn't say how.

How about this: Another day of celebration on the Cathedral grounds - for the poor. Meals provided - no ticket required - along with tours of the cathedral and the opportunity to connect with social and medical services.

Religion teacher at all-girls school arrested on sexual charges

Pomona police refused comment Monday. But booking records showed that Pomona officers arrested Duncan at 5:30 p.m. Sunday, on suspicion of statutory rape. He was released from the jail at 7:30 p.m. on $25,000 bail."He was a good teacher," said Cindy Torres, who will be a junior this fall. "You could talk to him easily."Torres said that she and Duncan shared enthusiasm for Mana, a Mexican rock band. Barbara Martin, whose daughter Tara was a student in Duncan's class, said she and another mother complained that Duncan's class was too easy. "It was toward the end of the year and there was a lot of watching of videos to get through class time," she said. "I had some issues with that."

This is why people lose their faith.

From the Boston Globe, an article about the terrible abuse situation down in Arizona involving a notorious abuser, a fellow named Trupia, another priest and a former bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix. It was, incidentally, the bishop who initiated the abuse, and then passed the young man along to the others.

The whole thing is outrageous, of course, with several points that stand out:

O'Connor, the young man in questions, was abused as a minor by the bishop, but by the time he was passed on, he was an adult, age-wise. He was also a drug addict. Despite this (because of it, rather), in an attempt to keep him quiet...

Green, who died in 1995, also arranged for O'Connor - a high school dropout and a non-Catholic - to receive a full-time appointment at the marriage tribunal as ''apparitor,'' or arm of the bishop.

Trupia, the most notorious molestor in this crew, was eventually suspended by Tuscon Bishop Moreno, but then appealed his supsension to Rome - successfully:

According to affidavits Moreno sent to Rome, when Moreno and his chancellor, the Rev. John Alt, confronted Trupia with the allegation that he'd molested an altar boy, Trupia described himself as a ''loose cannon'' unfit for the priesthood. He also asked to be retired as a priest in good standing. But Moreno rejected the idea, insisting on a suspension and an order requiring him to undergo a physical and psychiatric evaluation. Trupia, after making his threat, appealed his suspension to the Vatican and in 1997 won a favorable ruling. The ruling, a copy of which was among the sealed court documents obtained by the Globe, ordered Moreno to reevaluate Trupia's proposal to be retired in good standing, and said the diocese must reimburse Trupia for legal expenses. The ruling made no mention of the sexual abuse allegations.On Dec. 22, 1997, Moreno protested that decision in hopes the Vatican would take a tougher stance. So far, there has been no decision.

As it stands now, Trupia lives in Maryland and receives $1,200 a month from the diocese and health insurance.

It is interesting to me that this guy was a canon lawyer. Abusing priests are all over the map, ministry wise, but a whole lot of them seem to be concentrated in youth and vocations ministry (naturally) with a little group over there in canon law. It would be an interesting place for an abuser to place himself, no? In making yourself an expert on canon law, you make yourself an expert on how to protect yourself from Church penalties - for a very long time, it appears.

Via Michael, the bishops "clarify" the letter on Jewish-Catholic relations

Cardinal Keeler, the U.S. Bishops' Moderator for Catholic-Jewish relations, said that the document, entitled Reflections on Covenant and Mission, does not represent a formal position taken by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) or the Bishops' Committee for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs (BCEIA). The purpose of publicly issuing the considerations which it contains is to encourage serious reflection on these matters by Jews and Catholics in the U.S. These considerations provide a basis for discussing both the similarities and the significant differences between the Christian and Jewish understandings of the call given by the one God to both peoples. Cardinal Keeler said that, within the Catholic community, there has been a growing respect for the Jewish tradition and the lasting covenant which God made with them. Judaism is "already a response to God's revelation in the Old Covenant" (Catechism of the Catholic Church #839), a response to God's grace that requires religious freedom and respect for the faith relationship between God and the human person. This same respect for the freedom of faith requires us to be open at the same time to the action of God's grace to bring any person to accept what Catholic belief understands as the fullness of the means of salvation which are found in the Church.

All better now?

An interesting article about priests who have left active ministry to marry, from the British perspective.

A couple of notes:

First, the article contrasts the speed with which laicizations were given under Paul VI with the slowdown under John Paul II. This may be true, but I know of at least one case in which a laicization was granted in a year for a priest who was under 40 when he left (another point in the article).

Secondly, the article characterizes most laicized priests as "liberal." Who knows - some are, those I know are not. One of the most irritating points of Catholic discourse is the implied scorn that many, especially the "orthodox" drape over their use of the phrase "ex-priest," inferring that such a state defines a man as something in particular, always negative. I'll have no truck with that usage in this joint. With tens of thousands of laicized priests running around the country, you have to be careful, you know - you never know who's sitting in the pew behind you. You might be surprised.

Archbishop Pell of Sydney, already controversial in his brief time of service, encounters more trouble: He's been accused of sexual abuse

Archbishop George Pell, the most senior figure in the Australian Catholic Church, is accused of molesting a 12-year-old boy when he was training as a priest in Melbourne. In a statement issued by the Catholic Church to reporters Tuesday, Pell denied the allegations and said he was confident his name would be cleared. "The alleged events never happened," he said. "I repeat emphatically, that the allegations are false." The charges, he said, were "a smear of the most vindictive kind." However, he went on to say that, "for the good of the church and to preserve the dignity of the office of archbishop, I will take leave from today as archbishop of Sydney until the inquiry is completed."

It's not online, but Rod Dreher has an op-ed in the WSJ today called The Pope Let Us Down, about JPII's not-exactly zero tolerance of priest-shuffling bishops.


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