Saturday, August 18, 2012

"An Unholy Mess"/Catholics Should Cut off Contributions to Church

If Catholics in the pew knew that pension funds and parish savings were raided to pay off sexual abuse damages, they would discontinue their contributions to their local parish and diocese. There are so many worthy causes for reform-minded Catholics to support like Call to Action  and Women Priests movments including the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests/ ARCWP, Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

National Catholic Reporter's Summary by Heidi Schlumpt That's what an in-depth, investigative piece in the Economist called the state of finances in the Catholic Church in America: an unholy mess.

"It's hard to decide what is most horrifying in this report of financial mismanagement, which looks at data made public through bankruptcy proceedings in several dioceses:
  • Some dioceses have raided priests' pension funds to pay for sexual abuse damages and other costs. Under Cardinal Bernard Law, the archdiocese of Boston contributed nothing to its clergy retirement fund between 1986 and 2002, despite receiving an estimated $70 million to $90 million in Easter and Christmas offerings that many parishioners believed would benefit retired priests.
  • The same is true for parish savings. A parish in Wilmington, Del., sent $1 million to be deposited in what it thought was a separate account, but was really a pooled, general cash account for the diocese. The parish lost the money when the diocese struck a sexual-abuse settlement.
  • Cardinal Dolan and other New York bishops are spending an estimated $100,000 a year to well over $1 million, sources say, on lobbying the state assembly to prevent an extension of the statute of limitations on sexual abuse, which would result in more lawsuits and more dioceses declaring bankruptcy.
  • Creditors in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee bankruptcy case have questioned the motives behind a $35 million transfer to a trust and a $55.6 million transfer from archdiocese coffers to a fund for cemeteries, alleging the movement of such large amounts was a fraudulent attempt to shield cash from sexual-abuse victims.
  • Dioceses in bankruptcy are required to enlarge their assets to satisfy their creditors, yet some have tried to shrink the size of their assets, by closing parishes or undervaluing property. The Diocese of San Diego listed the value of a whole city block in downtown San Diego at $40,000, the price at which it had been acquired in the 1940s, rather than the the current market value, as required.
  • The church is going into debt to pay its bills, with tax-free municipal bonds, a subsidy more commonly associated with local governments and public-sector projects. State and local authorities have issued municipal bonds for the benefit of at least 50 dioceses in almost 30 states. In California, at least $12 billion has been raised through municipal bonds over the past decade, $9 billion of which went to hospitals.
  • Estimated spending by the church and entities owned by the church was around $170 billion in 2010, only 6% of that for parish and diocesan operations and 2.7% of it for charitable activities. The majority, 57%, is on health care networks, followed by 28% on colleges.
  • Catholic Charities USA and its subsidiaries employ distributed $4.7 billion to the poor in 2010, of which 62% came from local, state and federal government agencies.
Similar financial mismanagement was reported in "Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church" by Jason Berry, who was quoted in the Economist article. It's why more and more Catholics are considering whether this is an institution worthy of their donations."

Friday, August 17, 2012

"The Catholic Church:Bankruptcy Cases Have Shed Some Light on its Finances and their Mismanagement"/The Economist/An Article that Every Catholic Should Read and Weep at "unholy mess"
The sexual-abuse scandals of the past 20 years have brought shame to the church around the world. In America they have also brought financial strains. By studying court documents in bankruptcy cases, examining public records, requesting documents from local, state and federal governments, as well as talking to priests and bishops confidentially, The Economist has sought to quantify the damage.
The picture that emerges is not flattering. The church’s finances look poorly co-ordinated considering (or perhaps because of) their complexity. The management of money is often sloppy. And some parts of the church have indulged in ungainly financial contortions in some cases—it is alleged—both to divert funds away from uses intended by donors and to frustrate creditors with legitimate claims, including its own nuns and priests. The dioceses that have filed for bankruptcy may not be typical of the church as a whole. But given the overall lack of openness there is no way of knowing to what extent they are outliers.
Thousands of claims for damages following sexual-abuse cases, which typically cost the church over $1m per victim, according to lawyers involved, have led to a liquidity crisis. This seems to have encouraged a pre-existing trend towards replacing dollars from the faithful with publicly raised debt as a way of financing church business. The church is also increasingly keen to defend its access to public health-care subsidies while claiming a right not to provide certain medical services to which it objects, such as contraception. This increased reliance on taxpayers has not been matched by increased openness and accountability. The church, like other religious groups in America, is not subject to the same disclosure requirements as other non-profits or private entities.
Little is known about the Catholic church’s finances outside America. JPMorgan Chase recently closed the Vatican Bank’s accounts under pressure from the US Treasury. The Holy See has also struggled to get itself placed on lists of jurisdictions that are deemed to have strong anti-money laundering controls. This may reflect bad organisation rather than a concerted attempt to hide anything, though documents leaked by Pope Benedict XVI’s former butler to an Italian journalist suggest that maladministration in the Vatican goes beyond mere negligence. But America, not least thanks to its bankruptcy procedures, provides a slightly clearer window on the church’s finances. And America is so important to the church that it merits particular examination..."

Video: "We Are All Nuns"/ Powerful Testimony of Support/ Vigils in U.S.

Video: Catholics Sing for Marriage Equality

On April 28th, 2012, Catholic laity and friends gathered in Minneapolis, Minnesota to give voice to their faith, their hope and their conscience.
They sang that day as sanctuary for all young people discovering who they are and whom they love.
They sang as witness to the strong and wide embrace of God’s love.
They sang in clear support of the love and commitment shared by same-sex couples and families.
This is their song.Please share this video and its important message far and wide!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

""Change in age for new vocations nothing to fear" by Sister Joan Chittister/From Where I Stand
"It happened in the midst of LCWR's pending visitation from Rome on the viability and depth of commitment in orders of women religious in the United States.
One of Rome's great concerns about U.S. religious orders of women, it seems, is the lack of young early adult vocations in the United States today. Why U.S. women's orders, in the face of large-scale decline in numbers of both religious and priests in Europe as well, should merit such special attention on this subject, I'm not sure. I do think, however, that the subject in general needs to be rethought and perhaps reframed. Even by religious orders themselves.
So exactly where are the young? It can't be that they are not generous with their lives. There is simply too much data to the contrary to take that position. It can't be that women religious are not a significant spiritual presence in the world. The data for that lie in all the people from all stratus of society who are being touched by them. So, I wonder, what's really going on here?
Then one day, I got a glimpse of the answer head-on and in living color:
I was going through the lobby of one of the local hospitals and spotted a nurse who had just done some routine X-rays of me. We caught one another's eye at about the same time. I smiled, and she crossed the hall in my direction, a middle-aged woman with a quick step and a hearty presence.
It was one of those basic Catholic conversations:
"It's so well-organized here," I said.
"You bet," she said. "We were all trained by the sisters!" And we both laughed a tribute to nuns who brooked no dirt, no disorder, no mediocre work. The stories are legion.
"I went to a Catholic grade school," she went on. "Then to a Catholic high school, then to a Mercy college and to a Joseph nursing school," she finished, meaning, of course, to institutions built and administered by the Sisters of Mercy and the Sisters of St. Joseph.
"After all of that," I quipped, "you might as well have stayed. You had more than enough time in to claim you'd already had your novitiate."
Suddenly, the tenor of her remarks turned serious. "Well," she said, "don't be so sure I won't. After all," she went on even more thoughtfully, "it's not over yet..."

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

"The Lefts Love for the Feisty Nun" by Francis Kissling/Bridget Mary's Response

Bridget Mary's Reflection:
I agree with Frances Kissling that the nun leaders in the LCWR are moderates, but I hope that they will not submit to Vatican control of their agenda for justice for the marginalized in the church and world. The Vatican's agenda is to force LCWR to adhere to the insitutuional church's teaching, which does not reflect the sensus fidelium of the majority of Catholics, on the hot button issues of contraception, marriage equality/gay rights, and women priests. So far, the LCWR has resisted. I think this so called "dialogue" is a good faith effort not the beginning of compliance as Dr. Kissling argues.

While the LCWR has not come out and in recent times in, publica support of women's ordination, no one will forget Teresa Kane's strong plea to the Pope in favor of women priests.

 I personally think that, if the LCWR is pushed on these not button issues, they will not obey, instead they will declare independence and move on. It appears that the member orders have clearly expressed that they want dialogue with the church hierarchy, not submission to the Vatican, at their August meeting in St. Louis. 

One day in the not too distant future I look forward to ordaining nunpriests who have the public support of their orders.
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

LCWR and the Vatican/ "it Really All Comes Down to Difference in Consciousness and Vision"

Which Presidential Candidate is Truly Pro-Life? Romney Invested in Medical Waste Firm that Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show/ Romney Started Bain Capital with Money from Families Tied to Death Squads/ National Catholic Reporter Reports
by Nicholas P. Carfardi, a civil and canon lawyer
"...Obama's Affordable Care Act does not pay for abortions. In Massachusetts, Romney's health care law does. Obama favors, and included in the Affordable Care Act, $250 million of support for vulnerable pregnant women and alternatives to abortion. This support will make abortions much less likely, since most abortions are economic. Romney, on the other hand, has endorsed Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan's budget, which will cut hundreds of millions of dollars out of the federal plans that support poor women. The undoubted effect: The number of abortions in the United States will increase. On these facts, Obama is much more pro-life than Romney.
But let's not stop there. Obama does not financially profit from the abortion industry. Romney does. Bain Capital, in the time Romney was listed as its legal head and even when he was attending Bain board meetings, was an owner of Stericycle, a major disposer of the dead bodies of aborted children in the United States. (See: Romney Invested in Medical-Waste Firm That Disposed of Aborted Fetuses, Government Documents Show.) Bain owned a share of Stericycle until 2004, selling its interest for a profit in the tens of millions of dollars. We can parse what Romney's 1999 "retroactive retirement" from Bain means, but he still gets an annual payout from the firm. To the extent those dollars are part of Bain's Stericycle profits, a strong argument exists that Romney is an abortion profiteer. How pro-life is that?
And it has long been known that millions of Bain Capital's original outside funding, solicited by Romney himself, came from wealthy El Salvadorian clans, some of whom, while they were funding Bain, were "linked to right wing death squads." (Salt Lake Tribune, 1999; See also: Mitt Romney Started Bain Capital With Money From Families Tied To Death Squads.) Death squads killed tens of thousands of mostly poor people in El Salvador. They also killed priests, nuns and Archbishop Oscar Romero. How pro-life is that? How pro-life is taking the money of these people and doubling or tripling it for them? And did any of their Bain profits fund more death squads? Before we endorse Romney's "pro-life" claims, isn't it important for us to know that?
So speaking as a temporary, part-time member of the parallel magisterium, I think that if anyone should be disinvited from the Al Smith Dinner, it is Mitt Romney. Based on the above record, he, and not Obama, is the anti-life, "pro-abortion" candidate.
The fact is, the personable Dolan did right to invite them both. The Al Smith Dinner is not a religious event. It is a political dinner at a ritzy hotel where folks who look gawky in tuxes make jokes and raise money for a good Catholic cause. No one should think that, by inviting the "pro-abortion" Mitt Romney to the dinner, Dolan is endorsing him and all of his "pro-abortion" anti-life positions."
[Nicholas P. Cafardi is a civil and canon lawyer and a professor and former dean at Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh.]

Monday, August 13, 2012

"Change the Church"/America

Cardinal Burke on Nuns’ Group: ‘If it Can’t Be Reformed, Then It Doesn’t Have a Right to Continue’"by Patrick B. Craine/Vatican Slapdown of LCWR Continues with Cardinal Burke's Threat of Shut-Down

The Vatican's so-called "smackdown" of nuns continue with Cardinal Burke's Threat of LCWR Shutdown.
I don't think the nuns will tolerate this oppression much longer. It is time to declare independence and sing: "Free at last, free at last, thank God almighty we are free at last"!
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp
WASHINGTON, D.C., August 10, 2012 ( – "A senior Vatican prelate has fired a fresh salvo in the Vatican’s effort to reform the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, with a warning that the rogue organization could be shut down if they fail to implement the reforms demanded by the Vatican.“If it can’t be reformed, then it doesn’t have a right to continue,” Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Vatican’s Apostolic Signatura, told EWTN’s Raymond Arroyo in a Thursday interview for The World Over.“How in the world can these consecrated religious who have professed to follow Christ more closely … be opposed to what the Vicar of Christ is asking? This is a contradiction,” he said.
The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) launched the reform of the LCWR in April with a hard-hitting document raising serious doctrinal issues with the group, including its failure to uphold Church teaching on the right to life, homosexuality, and women’s ordination. The organization represents about 80% of America’s 57,000 women religious.
Cardinal William Levada, then-prefect of the CDF, warned in June that the LCWR could be decertified if they fail to implement the reforms.
The group, which has advocated radical feminism for decades, has fought back, framing the reform as a case of a patriarchal Vatican seeking to exercise control over women. “The question is, ‘Can you be Catholic and have a questioning mind?’ That’s what we’re asking,” Sister Pat Farrell, LCWR’s president, told National Public Radio in July. “This mandate … puts us in a position of being under the control of certain bishops, that is not a dialogue. If anything, it appears to be shutting down dialogue...”

Paul Ryan- Champion of Dissent/ Paul Ryan's Budget Plan Helps Rich, Hurts Poor
..."Mr. Ryan has put forward no strategy for assisting the poor, protecting the vulnerable, guaranteeing health care to all. He simply wants to roll back the role of government to pre-FDR days. And, to be clear, to achieve his goal, he is willing to engage in explicit dissent from years and years of explicit magisterial teaching. Dissent may not bother non-Catholics. It may not, in this instance, bother some Catholics. But, I look at our socio-cultural landscape and think Catholic Social Teaching is the only thing that can save our ideologically confused, socially centrifugal culture from itself. Ryan’s willingness to dissent from it – and for what? for Rand? – is not only bothersome. It is dangerous. "
Bridget Mary's Reflection:
The major issue is Mr. Ryan's plan to roll back aid to the poor and  elderly, and the most vulnerable  among us with  cuts in government programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. How does such a strategy reflect Catholic social teaching or even more basic  Jesus' teaching in Matthew 25?  Jesus said: "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters, that you do unto me."Mr. Ryan's policies doesn't reflect  the core values of our Catholic faith no matter how devout he may be.  Paul Ryan's budget plan hurts the poor by cutting Medicaid and helps the rich by giving huge tax cuts to the wealtiest Americans. No wonder the "nuns on the bus" took their fellow Catholic on!
Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp