Saturday, February 16, 2013

Pope Benedict Responsible for Sexual Abuse Cover-Up According to Hans Kung

"There is no denying the fact that the worldwide system of covering up cases of sexual crimes committed by clerics was engineered by the Roman Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith under Cardinal Ratzinger (1981-2005). During the reign of Pope John Paul II, that congregation had already taken charge of all such cases under oath of strictest silence. Ratzinger himself, on May 18th, 2001, sent a solemn document to all the bishops dealing with severe crimes ( “epistula de delictis gravioribus” ), in which cases of abuse were sealed under the “secretum pontificium” , the violation of which could entail grave ecclesiastical penalties. With good reason, therefore, many people have expected a personal mea culpa on the part of the former prefect and current pope. Instead, the pope passed up the opportunity afforded by Holy Week: On Easter Sunday, he had his innocence proclaimed “urbi et orbi” by the dean of the College of Cardinals." Hans Kung, Prominent Catholic Theologian

Pope Benedict and the Sex Abuse Scanadal: Responsibility

"In 2001, then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger urged Pope John Paul II to create a central system to further the Vatican's investigations of sexual abuse under priests. He shifted control of the disposition of the cases from the Congregation for the Clergy, where little action had been taken, to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which Ratzinger then headed.

And every week he examined the grueling cases -- coming chiefly from the United States.
"He used to call that weekly meeting ... his penance," said Greg Erlandson, co-author of Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal. Erlandson and church historian Matthew Bunson say in their book that Pope Benedict XVI "arguably was probably the most knowledgeable man on the abuse crisis."
As cases of sexual abuse continued to make headlines, the man who became Pope Benedict XVI has at times publicly addressed the issue and even met with victims, beginning with five victims from the Boston archdiocese, where the abuse scandal first made global headlines.
But victims' advocates remain skeptical and critical over his handling of the matter, particularly the failure to punish bishops who protected abusers rather than children and teens.
"When forced to, he talks about the crimes but ignores the cover-ups, uses the past tense as if to suggest it's not still happening," said David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. "He has vast powers and he's done very little to make a difference."
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' Office of Child and Youth Protection and independent studies commissioned by the bishops, in the United States, there have been:
  • More than 6,100 accused priests since 1950.
  • More than 16,000 victims identified to date, though there is no national database.
  • $2.5 billion in settlements and therapy bills for victims, attorney fees and costs to care for priests pulled out of ministry from 2004 to 2011.
His meetings with victims are viewed by some as "merely public relations."
"These gestures were cynical and, in a way cruel, because they gave survivors and Catholics the illusion that he was a reformer," said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the watchdog group
Terence McKiernan, president of, said he believes Benedict and others involved in allegedly covering up the scandal did not allow the survivors to truly affect them. He said he believes the meetings were too highly controlled to really break down any emotional walls.
"Anyone who has worked with survivors feels that those relationships are a privilege and that they do change your life," McKiernan said. "The brief encounters the pope has had with survivors hasn't been life-changing because he's continued to function the way he has."
While Erlandson acknowledges that the visits weren't able to undo victims' emotional damage, he says the meetings were a step forward for the Vatican.
Visiting victims "is a powerful experience of humility, and in that sense, also, he was modeling for the rest of the church and for church leaders how they should behave, and so I think that was powerful," Erlandson said.
Greater transparency by publishing lists of predator priests would help the Vatican move past "just lip service," said Kevin Waldrip, a victim of predatory priest sexual abuse and volunteer for Road to Recovery, an organization that helps victims of clergy sexual abuse.
"I wanted to become a priest, and that changed in a day," Waldrip said, referencing his abuse the day before his 13th birthday. "I felt that not only had I been violated by this priest that I knew and loved, but I had been violated by God."
In the United States, 30 bishops have released the names of predator priests on their diocesan websites. Victims' advocates continue to call for the Vatican to follow suit by releasing files and documentation of clergy sexual abuse. Doing so could allow victims to heal and gain closure, said Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who has represented sexual abuse victims of more than 40 different priests.
Doyle said she believes the church's inability for action has only further suppressed actions to stop sexual abuse. In September, Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City, Mo., was found guilty of failing to tell authorities about a priest suspected of sexually exploiting children. Finn was the first U.S. bishop convicted of protecting a priest in a sexual abuse case. Finn remains in office.
"Pope Benedict left a convicted felon in office," Doyle said.
For decades, it was standard procedure for church officials to keep abuse secret. Those years are explored in disturbing and dramatic detail in a new HBO documentary, "Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God," which went into broadcast rotation on the cable network a week ago.
It is directed by Oscar winner Alex Gibney and voiced by Hollywood stars including Bradley Cooper and Ethan Hawke. Also named in the credits is one of the narrators, prize-winning New York Times religion reporter Laurie Goodstein, whose coverage of rampant abuse of deaf children at a school in Wisconsin became an international sensation.
The unifying claim of the documentary is that the Catholic church, from the papacy to the smallest parish, has been focused on protecting the institution, not the youth.
In the documentary -- as in California this month where retired Cardinal Roger Mahony was rebuked by the current archbishop of Los Angeles -- only court-ordered releases of documents have enabled victims to trace what the church knew and when people with the power to call the police, defrock priests or reach out to victims, failed to act.
Almost every example in the film traces eventually to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and Ratzinger. The Vatican did not respond to the filmmakers' requests for interviews."

Friday, February 15, 2013

"New Pope Should Work with Sisters"
Bridget Mary's Response: This is a real no-brainer! One thing the hierarchy should have learned by their ill-fated investigations of the nuns is that the bishops do not have the support of U.S. Catholics!  The hierarchy should have learned their lesson - the nuns are saavy, dedicated, women of faith and way ahead of them on justice issues as in "nuns on the bus"! Amen! Bridget Mary Meehan, arcwp,

Women, Teachings and Lives- John Paul 11 and Benedict by Tom Fox/NCR

"Judge Rules Against Cincinnati Archdiocese in Firing of Catholic School Employee

"A senior US district court judge has ruled against the Archdiocese of Cincinnati in a case involving the dismissal of an employee who became pregnant by artificial insemination. 

Christa Dias, a computer technology coordinator at two schools, alleged that the archdiocese violated laws barring discrimination against pregnant employees. 

The archdiocese, in turn, invoked the ministerial exception to anti-discrimination laws. 

Judge S. Arthur Spiegel ruled that the ministerial exception, which was unanimously upheld last year by the United States Supreme Court, does not apply to non-Catholic employees such as Dias who do not teach Catholic doctrine. 

In defending its firing of Dias, the archdiocese also invoked a morals clause in its contract. 

According to the plaintiff’s attorney, the archdiocese has invoked the clause only against female employees, raising questions of discrimination. 

“The parties dispute whether a former male employee of a parish within the Archdiocese, who testified he engaged in artificial insemination without being fired, serves as evidence of disparate treatment,” the judge stated. 

Judge Spiegel ruled that the case should be sent to a jury. “Should the jury conclude after hearing the testimony of the decision-makers that the policy has been enforced unequally as to men and women,” Judge Spiegel stated, the jury could find that the archdiocese’s invocation of its morals clause was a “pretext for pregnancy discrimination.” 
Judge Spiegel, 92, was appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1980."

Pope Benedict Seeks Immunity from Prosecution from President of Italy

International Tribunal calls on Napolitano to "not collude in criminality", and announces global campaign to occupy Vatican property and launch human rights inquiry in Italy

Pope Benedict, Joseph Ratzinger, has scheduled a meeting with Italian President Giorgio Napolitano for Saturday, February 23 to discuss securing protection and immunity from prosecution from the Italian government, according to Italian media sources.
Ratzinger's meeting follows upon the apparent receipt by the Vatican of a diplomatic note from an undisclosed European government on February 4, stating its intention to issue an arrest warrant for Ratzinger, who resigned from his pontificate less than a week later.
In response to the February 23 meeting, the International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (ITCCS), through its field Secretary, Rev. Kevin Annett, has written to President Napolitano, asking him to refrain from assisting Ratzinger in evading justice.
The ITCCS letter states, in part,
"I need not remind you, Mr. President, that under international law and treaties that have been ratified by Italy, you and your government are forbidden from granting such protection to those like Joseph Ratzinger who have aided and abetted criminal actions, such as ordering Bishops and Cardinals in America and elsewhere to protect known child rapists among their clergy.
"Your obligation to the Vatican through the Lateran Treaty does not negate or nullify the requirements of these higher moral and international laws; nor does it require that you give any protection or immunity to a single individual like Joseph Ratzinger, especially after he has left his papal office."
A copy of the complete text of the ITCCS letter follows.
In response to the documented crimes of child torture, trafficking and genocide linked to Pope Benedict and Vatican officials, the ITCCS will be sponsoring a series of ongoing protests and occupations of Roman Catholic churches and offices through its affiliates around the world beginning in Easter week, March 24-31, 2013, and continuing indefinitely.
These actions will accompany the legal efforts to bring Joseph Ratzinger and other Vatican officials to trial for their proven complicity in crimes against humanity and criminal conspiracy.
The Easter Reclamation Campaign will seize church property and assets to prevent their use by child raping priests, who are protected under Catholic canon law. Citizens have this right to defend their communities and children when the authorities refuse to do so, under international law.
Rev. Kevin Annett and an official delegation from the ITCCS Central Office will also be convening a formal human rights inquiry in Rome commencing the week of May 13, 2013, to consider further charges against the Vatican and its new Pope  for crimes against humanity and obstruction of justice.
Rev. Annett and his delegation will be working with organizations across Italy in this investigation. In 2009 and 2010, he held rallies outside the Vatican and met with media and human rights groups across Italy to charge the Vatican with the death of more than 50,000 aboriginal children in Canada."

More Media Stories- RCWP in Wisconsin

Mary of Magdala, Apostle to the Apostles Catholic Church, Wauwatosa WI

Ashes to Go on Ash Wednesday  Wauwatosa Ministerial Association, Wauwatosa WI

TV Coverage of Beverly Bingle's and Ann P. Klonowski's Ordination

TV coverage of Beverly's and Ann's ordinations:

And her first mass:

Newspaper coverage of our ordinations Saturday from the Toledo Blade:

Here are two more pieces, the first a video and the second an article,
on Saturday's ordination in Toledo:

Ann P. Klonowski
Site Coordinator
STEP at Warrensville CCPL

Resurrection Community Celebrates Inclusive Catholic Eucharist in Cincinnati Monthly: All are Welcome!

Janice Sevre-Duszynska and Paul Hoeffer
On Feb. 13th about 90 people gathered in Cincinnati for our monthly Eucharist. Some
came from the city, others
from northern Kentucky and Dayton. Each month we have first-timers who come up
to me and say, "I've been looking
for this for so long. I am grateful to be here."
Ours is an every-growing Eucharist Community and truly a discipleship of equals.
Our name is Resurrection Community and we have been  gathering together as the
people of God three years this May. In the emergence of our faith community we
have had the support of loving and prophetic people...
During the summer when it is hot, we gather in the church which has air
conditioning. During the other months, we celebrate as the people of God in the
fellowship hall at tables where there is also bread and wine for all to
consecrate along with the priest.  Our music and songs are coordinated with our
theme. People are invited to give homilies and become part of the liturgy
committee. For two years, we used ARCWP's worship aide and sometimes folks wrote
original Eucharist prayers. Now we are putting together our own liturgies and
they, too, are  grounded and meaningful.
At our Ash Wednesday liturgy last night, a first-timer told me she cried when
she gave Eucharist to the person sitting next to her, saying; "You are the Body
of Christ." In our faith community, we are living the Kindom experience of 
liberation and empowerment.
Janice Sevre-Duszynska, arcwp


Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" How to Survive the Coming Conclave by Mary Hunt

"Patriarchy will get unimaginable amounts of free publicity for the next month as the Roman Catholic Church reshuffles the papal deck. Media commentators will fawn over the proceedings triggered by the unexpected resignation of Pope Benedict XVI. "
"...So how should feminists deal with the endless hype of the next month? I have a four-part strategy that I will be following. 
1. Call foul on the process.
First, this is not about a pope but a process. We do not get a lot of windows of opportunity when the press is attentive to things theological. The issue is not a new pope, whether from a developing country or not. In fact, foisting a sinking ship on a person whose community has been marginalized is an old trick, and it does not work.  Rather, what is needed is a wholesale deconstruction of a hierarchal church and the reconstruction of a community that is based on radical equality. 
This is a mouthful in a sound bite era. But the important thing is to call foul on the process. When a few men vote without accountability to anyone and when power is centered at the top, the whole framework and process are wrong. If a pope can resign and his colleagues make up the rest as they go along, then a structure can be redesigned. Tradition has no claim on injustice.
2. Change the subject.
The outcome of this election is pretty clear from the outset. Handicapping the race to the tiara is a parlor game, not a serious theo-political analysis. Cardinal electors have been handpicked to reflect a conservative ideology. Even if they decide on a candidate from a developing country, the chances are good that he (no women, remember) will be cut from the same cloth.
The best approach is to deflect such discussion and focus instead on the needs of the world—economic, ecological, and social. Imagine a billion people really empowered to do justice. We could make a real difference. Instead, if Catholics are left to think that their leaders will do justice work for them because they do everything else (like vote for top leadership) that energy will never gather. The world will be the worse for it.
3. Be creative.
Now is a time to think the edgiest thoughts and articulate them broadly. I will start.
I imagine that this is the end of the papacy as we know it. Gary Wills in his new book Why Priests?: A Failed Tradition (Viking, 2013) sketches the end of priesthood. The pope was a priest last time I checked, ergo the end of the papacy as currently conceived. Imagine that.
It is time for this global institution, this multinational business called Catholicism to be horizontally integrated with teams of ministers and managers, teachers, and preachers. Beginning in local communities, every adult member would have voice and vote with younger people brought along to participate as their abilities allow. Jobs would rotate so no one would have to be stuck with one task forever. Take a lesson from the retiring pope who is now hinting that he may start to frequent his favorite Roman restaurants again when he is freed from his tasks! Other churches and many religious communities operate this way and it works just fine.
4. Embrace humor.
Religion is a common human experience, which reflects both deeply held beliefs and absurd nonsense. As such, it is rich fodder for humor. The humor need not be nasty or cynical, but it can be hysterical as we enjoy the foibles of our shared humanity. I say laugh until you cry at some of this stuff that Saturday Night Live writers could not make up.
Read feminist comedian Kate Clinton on the papal resignation. Observe the deep theological answer to the question that one calls a former pope: “Ex Benedict” with apologies to the popular brunch food. See what cartoonists are saying. Hey, maybe the Pope resigned because he wants to get married, how do I know! He is resigning on the feast day of Pope Hilarius. Stop me!
The patriarchal religious media-show-on-steroids will play out in the month ahead. Left unquestioned, it will reinforce and reinscribe the worst forms of privilege and domination. But if feminists and friends raise tough questions along the way"

Interview with Sister Louise Akers, SC on MSNBC/ Pope's Resignation/Hopes for Renewal of Church

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"New Pope, I've Given Up Hope" by Gary Wills/ Roman Catholic Women Priests Offer New Model of Priestly Ministry in a Community of Equals

  Bridget Mary's Response: I agree with Gary Wills that the power structure must be transformed. The present model of priestly ministry, rooted in a hierarchical model is not the answer. Roman Catholic Women Priests are ushering in a renewed priestly ministry situated in a community of equals. For example, at Mary Mother of Jesus Catholic Community in Sarasota, Florida, we have co-presiders from the community, a dialogue homily, and the Eucharistic Prayer is prayed by the entire assembly. At our ordinations, the community prays over the ordinands with the bishop. Roman Catholic Women Priests represent a paradigm shift , moving the church from its present clerical model to a discipleship of equals model where the Body of Christ celebrates the sacraments, not the priests with the magic fingers! By the way, our priests are not appointed from above and our worshiping communities are independent and make their own decisions independent of our organization. 
Bridget Mary Meehan,,, 941-955-2313, 703-505-0004
...."As this election approaches, some hope that the shortage of priests, and their damaged reputation and morale, can be remedied by adding married priests, or women priests, or gay priests. But that misses the point. Whatever their sexual status, they will still be priests. They will not be chosen by their congregations (as was the practice in the early church). They will be appointed from above, by bishops approved for their loyalty to Rome, which will police their doctrinal views as it has with priests heretofore. The power structure will not be changed by giving it new faces. Monarchies die hard.

In 1859, John Henry Newman published an article that led to his denunciation in Rome as “the most dangerous man in England.” It was called “On Consulting the Faithful in Matters of Doctrine” and it showed that in history the laity had been more true to the Gospel than the hierarchy. That was an unacceptable position to Rome. It still is. Pope Benedict XVI, when he was still Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, was asked if it did not disturb him that Catholics disagreed with the rulings of Rome. He said no — that dogma is not formed by majority rule. But that is precisely how it was formed in the great councils like that at Nicaea, where bishops voted to declare dogmas on the Trinity and the Incarnation. There was no pope involved in those councils. Yet they defined the most important truths of the faith.

Jesus, we are reminded, said to Peter, “You are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” But Peter was addressed as a faithful disciple, not as a priest or a pope. There were no priests in Peter’s time, and no popes. Paul never called himself or any of his co-workers priests. He did not offer sacrifice. Those ideas came in later, through weird arguments contained in the anonymous Epistle to the Hebrews. The claim of priests and popes to be the sole conduits of grace is a remnant of the era of papal monarchy. We are watching that era fade. But some refuse to recognize its senescence. Such people will run peppily up, like Charlie Brown, to the coming of a new pope. But Lucy, as usual, still holds the football."
Garry Wills is the author, most recently, of “Why Priests? A Failed Tradition.”

Was Pope Benedict the Gift that Kept on Giving to the Roman Catholic Women Priests' Movement?/ Will New Pope Affirm Roman Catholic Women Priests?

Bridget Mary's Response: In spite of the fact that Pope Benedict has been hostile to Roman Catholic Women Priests with automatic excommunications, firings and condemnations of supporters, including the dismissal of Fr. Roy Bourgeois from the Maryknoll Order,  our movement has flourished with more women priests and more inclusive communities! So one could conclude, that Benedict has been the gift that keeps on giving. (Bridget Mary Meehan,,, 941-955-2313, 703-505-0004

John Allen's Perspective/National Catholic Reporter
John Allen/National Catholic Reporter:
..."Today there was a sort of semi-confirmation of this reading of events from Portuguese Cardinal José Saraiva Martins, a veteran Vatican insider who's 80 and thus won't take part in the coming conclave. Italian journalist Andrea Tornielli asked Saraiva Martins if Vatileaks and the other scandals of the last couple of years might have been part of the reason Benedict reached this decision."I imagine they might have influenced it," Saraiva Martins said.
As revelations go, it's not exactly a thunderclap. It's the first time, however, that a Vatican cardinal has said out loud what pretty much everyone believes: The pope doesn't live in a vacuum, and if he finds himself weakening, the long list of fires he's struggled to put out has to be part of the reason why." ( BMM: He sure didn't succeed putting out the fire started by the Holy Spirit with women priests!)

Bridget Mary's Response: Will a new pope affirm women priests? Will a new pope support a renewed priestly ministry in a more egalitarian, inclusive church where all are welcome to receive sacraments? Let's hope so! The institutional church needs radical reform and renewal.
I am grateful that Pope Benedict decided to resign and let the church move forward in a new direction.  He has set a good precedent for future popes- that it is not until death do us part!

It is ironic that he plans to live in a monastery where nuns will be his care-givers after the harsh
investigation of U.S. nuns. (Bridget Mary Meehan, 941-955-2313, 703-505-0004)

John Allen/ New Pope/New Directions ..."Yet there are many areas where new directions are plausible. One could imagine a non-Western pope, for instance, or a pope more attuned to the argot of popular culture, or a pope less inclined to have secularism as his idée fixe, or a pope with a good head for business management who can finally implement a serious reform of the Vatican itself (or, at a minimum, to curtail the Vatican's occasional genius for stepping on its own story). All those possibilities and others would represent real departures. The more Benedict's resignation sinks in, the more plausible some of those scenarios begin to seem."