Catholics for Renewal wishes all our readers a Joyful Christmas and prays that its message will make each of us more open to the Spirit and to one another.
"Bishops Must Share Their Authority if the Sex Abuse Crisis is to be Resolved"
Extract from Media Release, Catholic Church Reform International, 6 December 2018, republished here 8 December 2018
Recognizing the bishops' inability to credibly evaluate their own performance, Cardinal Blase Cupich and others representing the hierarchy of the Church are urging fellow bishops to accept leadership from lay people to make this evaluation credible. Catholic Church Reform Int'l (CCRI) believes the summit called for 21-24 February 2019 in Rome by Pope Francis with the heads of all the bishops conferences represents an opportunity which should not be missed: not only to assure that universal safeguards will be put in place, but also to provide for an ongoing role for lay leadership in the Church. CCRI urges Pope Francis to include in their deliberations plans to make the laity an involved and equal partner in any and all solutions to the sexual abuse crisis. This should include victims/survivors of sexual abuse, family members (parents, siblings, husbands, wives, partners, children) of those abused, and representatives of support groups of those abused. In the follow-up plans, the Faithful's counsel should be sought regarding (1) concrete decisions to be reached and implemented, and (2) a continuing role established for lay participation in local tribunals set up for clerical sexual abuse and beyond. From this point forward, these lay Catholics should be welcomed, not as an ad hoc response to the current crisis but in furtherance of more fundamental structural support for a fully synodal church. In this spirit, bishops cannot be the sole deciders, but laity should be full participatory and voting members for all decisions reached at this conference....(MORE)
Former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson's conviction for concealing child sexual abuse quashed
Extract from By Giselle Wakatama, ABC News, 6 September 2018
Former Adelaide archbishop Philip Wilson is set to walk free after his conviction for concealing child sexual abuse was quashed by a judge. The judge said Father Wilson was an honest and consistent witness and he had reasonable doubts that he had been told about the abuse. Father Wilson was excused from attending court today in order to avoid a "media scrum" but did appear via video link. The 68-year-old was the highest-ranking Catholic in the world to be convicted of concealing child sexual abuse and had been serving a minimum sentence of six months in home detention. Newcastle Local Court convicted Father Wilson in May of concealing abuse committed by paedophile priest Jim Fletcher in the Hunter Valley dating back to the 1970s. It found that in 1976 victim Peter Creigh confided in Father Wilson that he had been sexually abused, yet Father Wilson failed to report it to police when Fletcher was charged with other child sex offences in 2004. former archbishop was honest and consistent. "There were very honest features of his evidence to provide a strong platform for him to be an honest witness," he said. "[He] did not attempt to blacken the name of Peter Creigh and allege he was a liar. "He was clearly an intelligent and articulate witness....(more) Photo: ABC News.
Catholics for Renewal 2018 Annual General Meeting
Sunday 2 December 2018
The members of Catholics for Renewal held their Annual General Meeting at Parkville on 29 November 2018. The elected office bearers for 2018-2019 are:
President: Dr Peter Wilkinson, BEd., LMiss., DMiss. (PUG)
Vice President: Mr Peter Johnstone, OAM, BA (Admin.), MA (Theol.), FAICD
Secretary/Treasurer: Dr Garry Nolan, BCom., MBus., DBA, FAICD.
Tasmanian Government acts to ‘lift veil’ on confession
Extract from CathNews. The Examiner, 29 November 2018
The Tasmanian Liberal Government has introduced a bill to Parliament that will make it mandatory for people in religious ministry to report child abuse or face criminal charges. The bill will also allow for the use of more pre-recorded testimony in court for victims of child sexual abuse, ensure victims will not have to give evidence twice at a trial, when it is possible, and for their evidence to be taken earlier to avoid the risk of retraumatisation. Attorney-General Elise Archer said the legislation would “lift the veil of the confessional for the purposes of reporting child sexual abuse.” “The legislation makes it clear that all members of the community must do everything in their power to protect children and prevent child abuse from occurring,” she said. “There is no excuse for failure to report the horrific abuse of children, least of all for institutions who have been named in the royal commission as failing to prevent child abuse in the past.” The extension of mandatory reporting of child abuse to religious ministries has the support of Labor, the Greens and the Anglican Church – but not the Catholic Church. Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous last month said it would not lead to uncovering abuse. “Any perpetrator who was minded to confess would almost certainly do so anonymously, so no mandatory reporting would be possible.” “By removing the seal, we lose the rare opportunity to point an offender or victim in the direction of the authorities and other assistance,” he said.....(More)
Holy See aware of difficulties raised by agreement with China
The Vatican understands that its agreement with Beijing will not change the situation of the Chinese Church overnight
Limited extract from Nicolas Senèze, Rome, subscription journal La Croix International, 22 November 2018
Did Pope Francis misunderstand the situation in China? That is certainly not how it appeared on the plane bringing him back to Rome from Estonia several days after he had signed the agreement between the Holy See and Beijing. “The first drafts were prepared in my office,” he said. “We discussed the issue. I shared my ideas and the other participants also discussed it before going ahead.” It was a matter of “two steps forward, one step back, two forward and one back” throughout the dialogue, the pope added, illustrating his detailed knowledge of the file. Moreover, while clearly backing his collaborators -- particularly his....(source)
Why Pope Francis was right to halt the US bishops
Limited extract from Robert Mickens, Vatican City, subscription journal La Croix International, 16 November 2018
The moral credibility of Catholic bishops in the United States is in tatters. Even the men who head the country’s nearly 200 dioceses have admitted this. But don’t be fooled into thinking that this deficit of trust happened all of a sudden.
Certainly, revelations earlier this year surrounding the immoral sexual behavior of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick and the publication last summer of a grand jury report highlighting decades of abuse cover-up in several Pennsylvania dioceses have further strained the Catholic people’s confidence in their pastoral leaders. But the crisis of episcopal credibility in the United States is tied to something that is deeper and even more damaging than the spasmodic — and, at times, appalling — way the bishops, as a body and as individuals, have reacted to clergy sex abuse. The genesis of this broken trust between U.S. Catholics and their bishops goes back to at least three or more decades.....(more)
NSW commits extra $127m to abuse prevention and support
Extract from Cathnews, The Daily Telegraph, 19 October 2018
The New South Wales Government has committed an extra $127 million to help implement key recommendations from the child sexual abuse royal commission. The new money, which brings the government’s total contribution to the redress scheme up to $570 million, will mostly go towards the prevention of child sexual abuse but will also help improve support for children and adult survivors. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the government passed laws on Wednesday allowing survivors to sue institutions where they had been sexually abused as children, closing a legal loophole that had previously prevented them from taking action. “NSW has continued to lead the way whether it’s in relation to the redress scheme, whether it’s in relation to providing support to survivors,” Ms Berejiklian said yesterday. “I want to make sure nobody else suffers at the hands of institutions or people who were there to protect the children – not commit those horrific acts which instead have ruined lives and caused so many in the community to have an adverse impact.” Family and Community Services Minister Pru Goward said the package was about ensuring all NSW organisations “promote a healthy child environment” and that workers are properly monitored. “We’re also strengthening the ability of parents to know whether or not they are enrolling their child in a child-safe organisation, whether that’s the local ballet school or the local swim club,” she said. In a statement released yesterday, Catholic Religious Australia welcomed the government's commitment to strengthening and broadening measures to protect children....(more)
New research shows Australian teens have complex views on religion and spirituality
Extract from Andrew Singleton, Associate Professor of Sociology and Social Research, Deakin University; Anna Halafoff, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Deakin University; Gary D Bouma, Emeritus Professor of Sociology, Monash University (and friend of The Conversation); Mary Lou Rasmussen, Professor, School of Sociology, Australian National University, The Conversation, September 18, 2018It’s perhaps not surprising that few Australian teens are engaged in formal religion and its practice. But, according to a new national study, many young people are nonetheless interested in spirituality, taking a complex and broad-minded approach to the issue. As researcher Andrew Singleton writes, the findings further challenge the idea that Australia is largely a Christian country, with teenagers at the forefront of overturning old ideas and constructing new ones. The researchers found that teenagers broadly fit into six groups on matters of spirituality, from those with strong convictions to those questioning and discovering. And what is also striking is that they are remarkably tolerant of others’ views on the matter. As the researchers often heard: “it’s all good”. The 2016 Census suggested about a third of Australian teens had no religion. But ask a teenager themselves about religion, rather than the parent or guardian filling in the census form, and the picture is slightly different. According to our new national survey, at least half of teens say they are “religious nones” - those who do not identify with a religion or religious group. Digging deeper, we found a more complicated picture of faith and spirituality among young Australians. Most Gen Z teens have little to do with organised religion in their personal lives, while a significant proportion are interested in different ways of being spiritual. Migration, diversity, secularisation and a burgeoning spiritual marketplace challenge the notion that we are a “Christian” country. More than any other group, teenagers are at the forefront of this remaking of Australian religion. Their daily experience of secondary school and social media sees them bumping into all kinds of difference. Teens are forming their own strong views about existential matters. Our national study by scholars from ANU, Deakin and Monash – the AGZ Study – comprises 11 focus groups with students in Years 9 and 10 (ages 15-16) in three states, a nationally representative telephone survey of 1,200 people aged 13-18, and 30 in-depth, follow-up interviews. …(more) Image: Teenagers, abstract collage, Katrina Frazer
Father Hans Zollner: Post abuse crisis, how can we get back to our Christian roots?
Extract from Jim McDermott, America, The Jesuit Review, 17 September 2018
Hans Zollner, S.J., is a licensed German psychologist and
psychotherapist with a doctorate in theology and one of the church’s
leading experts in the area of safeguarding minors. He is the president
of the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian
University in Rome, a member on the Pontifical Commission for the
Protection of Minors and a consultor to the Congregation for the Clergy.
America spoke with Father Zollner in July and followed up recently as the sexual abuse crisis in the United States continues to roil the church. This is the first of three interviews James McDermott, S.J., is conducting about the abuse crisis.
What is your reaction to what we’ve seen in the United States and elsewhere over the last month?
The strongest impression I have is that it has now reached another level. The discussion and the awareness and the intensity, especially in the United States, is very surprising because you have gone through this for many years already. And it brings out the American [social and political] divisions that are visible in the country and in the church.
why is it so shocking for so many, left and right of the divide? It is
because the extent of the cover-up by church leaders in the past and
their co-responsibility for it (no matter what their ideological
persuasion) are becoming clearer now. And then the question is how
people deal today with all these issues.....(More)
NZ: What victims want most: justice
Extracts from Opinion, ODT Insight, Otago Daily Times, 8 September 2018
..... But, most of all, they want the Catholic Church to answer for what happened. Which is exactly why the Catholic Church, and churches of all stripes, need to be part of the Government’s pending Royal Commission into historic abuse. And not just included, but put under the microscope. Investigated. Cross-examined. And compelled to answer questions.Because, even to this day, old habits die hard. Dunedin’s new Catholic Bishop, the Most Rev Michael Dooley, seems like a good and honourable man. He has fronted media and his parishioners, expressed shock and pain at recent revelations, apologised to victims and the city for past events and urged those still suffering in silence to come forward. But he remains reluctant to answer some tough questions. Bishop Dooley won’t say how many complaints have been received, or how many past offenders he is aware of, within the Catholic Diocese of Dunedin. That information will only be revealed to police or the Royal Commission, not to media, the bishop says. He is also not yet prepared to discuss some allegations levelled against clergy, including those aimed at one of the most senior figures within the diocese in recent times. Instead, he has insisted Dunedin’s problem remains small compared with the shocking revelations seen in other countries, from the United States and Ireland to Australia. But, as he does so, the list of alleged offenders from the Deep South keeps growing........New Zealand must follow in Australia’s footsteps, despite the extra time and cost involved, and include churches - and all of their various settings - in a truly inquisitorial Royal Commission. Only then will we finally get to the bottom of who did what, and when, in this country. Only then will sunlight finally expose the true extent of the problem. Only then will victims have justice....(More) Image NZ Maori Fern patterni.net
Health and Integrity conference calls for a ‘reformation’ of Australia’s churches following Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse
Media Release, Friday 31 August 2018
In a week when the sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults in church institutions has once again been making international headlines, a conference of Christian churches in Melbourne has called on Australia’s churches to embrace thoroughgoing reformation of their structures, governance and culture inthe wake of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. The three-day ecumenical Health and Integrity in Church and Ministry conference on the task of rebuilding and renewal for the churches after the Royal Commission (27–29 August 2018), was hosted by the University of Divinity and sponsored by three leading Catholic religious institutes and Yarra Theological Union. The conference was attended by church members and leaders, academics, clergy and religious, ministers and church workers, survivors of child sexual abuse and their advocates, and groups advocating church reform.....(full Media Release HERE)
Archbishop Comensoli meets mother of abuse victim
Extracts from CathNews, ABC News, 31 August 2018
Pope Francis must lead on the sexual abuse crisis
Extract from The Editors, America - The Jesuit Review, 28 August 2018
Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s 11 pages of accusations against Pope Francis and other church leaders have weaponized the church’s sexual abuse crisis, shifting the focus from listening to survivors to Vatican intrigues. Yet these new accusations amount to more of the same problem the church already had: priests, bishops and popes who, when they learned of abuse, protected each other rather than the victims. The recommendations we made when the McCarrick case was first revealed, in July, and after the Pennsylvania grand jury report was released, in August, still stand: The church must prioritize listening to survivors of abuse and seeking justice for them. Clear public mechanisms to report abuse and misconduct and to discipline bishops who fail in their duties must be established. The church must undertake a comprehensive, transparent accounting of its tragic failures over the past decades and conduct and cooperate with any necessary investigations. To achieve true reform, Pope Francis must give this crisis his full focus. His letter to the church and his statements in Ireland are a start, but he must follow through and make them concrete. Francis’ refusal to respond to the Viganò accusations may be an attempt to stay above the fray rather than dignify a venomous ideological attack. Nonetheless, the pope’s refusal is an insufficient pastoral response for a church that is deeply wounded. The best way for Pope Francis to respond to the attempt to use the sexual abuse crisis as a weapon in the culture war is to be honest and humble himself, as he ultimately was in his response to abuse survivors in Chile, and to lead the church in caring for those who are hurting the most.....(MORE) Photo: America - The Jesuit Review, CNS Paul Haring
Ampleforth and Downside (English Benedictine Congregation case study) Investigation Report August 2018, UK
Extract from Executive summary with link to full report, 14 August 2018
There are 10 English Benedictine Congregation (EBC) monasteries in England and none in Wales. Some of the abbeys have schools associated with them, including Ampleforth and Downside. Both are regarded as leading Catholic independent schools, each with acknowledged academic and sporting achievement, and both are now co-educational. The EBC is not pyramidical in structure; it has no recognisable line management oversight. Each abbot or abbess has responsibility for their own community, which is autonomous. Nor does the monastic order fit neatly into the Catholic diocesan structure, meaning that the relationship to a diocesan bishop is usually collaborative rather than hierarchical. It is difficult to describe the appalling sexual abuse inflicted over decades on children aged as young as seven at Ampleforth School, and 11 at Downside School. Ten individuals, mostly monks, connected to these two institutions have been convicted or cautioned in relation to offences involving sexual activity with a large number of children, or offences concerning pornography. The true scale of the abuse however is likely to be considerably higher. Some examples of the abuse are set out below......(full report)
© Crown copyright 2018
Members of Women's Wisdom in the Church (WWITCH) respond to 'synodal' Church call for comments in relation to Institutional Sexual Abuse, Tuesday 24 July 2012
On 22nd July, the Feast of of Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, members of Women's Wisdom in the Church (WWITCH) submitted a response to the Synodal call of the Church in relation to the Australian Catholic Church’s role in, and response to, the Royal Commission into Institutional Sexual Abuse. The response calls for a complete apology from the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference and the National Council for Catholic Religious Australia wherein they take full responsibility for past acts of systematic concealment of the crimes and sins of the sexual abuse of children and other vulnerable individuals. Together with other comments the response also calls for the immediate release of the final Statement of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council to all Australian Catholics. A copy of the full statement including details of their group is available HERE. Image: Saint Mary Magdalene, Icon by Br. Robert Lenz OFM