Thursday, January 22, 2015

Cardinal cuts ties with Priests for Life, says reforms in group needed | Catholic Globe

 

NEW YORK (CNS) — New York Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan said he wants “nothing further to do” with Priests for Life, which has its headquarters on Staten Island, which is in the New York Archdiocese.

Cardinal Dolan said he had been asked by the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy to assist its national director, Father Frank A. Pavone, with “several necessary reforms,” but he said the priest has not cooperated.

The changes have mostly to do with an audit and the need to establish an independent board “to provide oversight and accountability,” according to Religion News Service and Catholic World News.

Cardinal Dolan made the comments in a letter to his fellow U.S. bishops dated Nov. 20. The letter was not made public. But Catholic World News obtained a copy and reported on it in a story posted on CatholicCulture.org.

“Although Father Pavone initially assured me of his support, he did not cooperate,” Cardinal Dolan wrote.

In a statement sent to Catholic News Service Dec. 16, Priests for Life said it is “working with the Vatican to fully implement all the church’s expectations. The Vatican has been consistently supportive and favorable toward Priests for Life, which is an international private association of the faithful.” It also said the issue was “about control,” not financial accountability.

Priests for Life was founded in California in 1991 “to train, motivate and encourage priests to effectively advance the Gospel of life.”

 Renee Webb

Cardinal cuts ties with Priests for Life, says reforms in group needed | Catholic Globe

 

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Priests For Life (PFL) is a Roman Catholic pro-life organization based in Staten Island, New York. It functions as a network to promote and coordinate pro-life activism with the primary strategic goal of ending abortion and euthanasia and to spread the Gospel of Life according to the encyclical of the same name written by Pope John Paul II.

Contents

 

History[edit]

Priests for Life came about in 1990 through the work Father Lee Kaylor,[1] a Roman Catholic priest serving in the Archdiocese of San Francisco; Fr Kaylor found out about a new piece of legislation being proposed in Sacramento, California which he felt went against the pro-life cause - his response was to write to all the other Roman Catholic priests in California, along with his two friends Fr. Frank Felice and Fr. Voight Emmerick, trying to galvanize further opposition to the legislation.[2] Sending the letter turned out to be an auspicious move, as Fr. Kaylor received in response a large number of positive letters and financial contributions to his cause.[2] Encouraged by this, he decided to establish a group which would serve to co-ordinate pro-life action by the clergy both nationally and more effectively[1] - this too met with highly positive feedback, so much so that Fr. Kaylor went to Archbishop John R. Quinn to seek canonical approval for the group.[2] Priests for Life was subsequently approved and granted official approbation as a Private Association of the Faithful on 30 April 1994 and listed in the Official Catholic Directory.[1][2]

In 2003, it was granted non-governmental organization status by the United Nations.

Status[edit]

While primary membership is for Catholic bishops, priests and deacons, there is also a lay auxiliary membership, as it has the canonical status of a Private Association of the Christian Faithful.[3] It has about 60 full-time paid employees. Its national director is Father Frank Pavone. Priests for Life exists primarily in order to show the clergy how to fight the culture of death.[4]

On August 1, 2012, there was a Special Order on the floor of the United States Congress headed by Representative Michele Bachmann, noting the 20th anniversary of Priests for Life and the importance of Priests for Life in the world today. There were six members of Congress who spent 35 minutes (collectively) speaking about the work of Priests for Life. These six Representatives of Congress included Rep. Chris Smith, Rep. Jeff Fortenberry, Rep. Jean Schmidt, Rep. Louie Gohmert, and Rep. Tim Walberg. C-SPAN broadcast the Special Order live. [5][6][7][8][9][10][11]

HHS Mandate Lawsuit[edit]

On February 15, 2012, Priests for Life became the fourth group in the nation to file a lawsuit against the HHS mandate and the Obama Administration because the organization (Priests For Life) feels that the HHS ruling is unconstitutional on many levels.[12][13][14] The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York.[15]

Timeline of Events:

  • April 12, 2013 The court dismissed the lawsuit without prejudice, allowing Priests for Life to file a new lawsuit once the revised regulations are finalized. The same was being done with most of the other religious non-profit cases.[16]
  • August 19, 2013 Priests for Life filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, challenging the HHS mandate as applied to nonprofit religious organizations.[17][18][19]
  • September 19, 2013 Priests for Life filed a motion for a preliminary injunction, seeking to halt the enforcement of the HHS mandate while the case proceeds through litigation. The district court consolidated Priests for Life’s motion for a preliminary injunction with a ruling on the merits, directing Priests for Life to also file a motion for summary judgment.[19]
  • October 1, 2013 Priests for Life filed its motion for summary judgment, requesting that the court permanently halt the enforcement of the HHS mandate.[20]
  • October 17, 2013 The government opposed Priests for Life’s motion and filed its own motion to dismiss.
  • December 9, 2013 The district court heard oral argument on the parties’ motions.[21]
  • December 19, 2013 The district court issued its decision denying Priests for Life’s motion and granting the government’s motion to dismiss.[22]
  • December 19, 2013 Priests for Life filed its notice of appeal with U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (“D.C. Circuit”).
  • December 20, 2013 Priests for Life filed an emergency motion for an injunction, seeking to halt the enforcement of the HHS mandate while the case proceeds through the appeal process.[23]
  • December 31, 2013 The D.C. Circuit granted Priests for Life’s emergency motion, halting the enforcement of the HHS mandate pending resolution of the appeal. The D.C. Circuit also expedited the appeal.[23]
  • February 28, 2014 Priests for Life filed its opening brief in the D.C. Circuit.[24]
  • April 11, 2014 Priests for Life filed its reply brief in the D.C. Circuit, thereby completing the briefing.[24]
  • May 8, 2014 Oral argument scheduled before a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit.[25][26][27]

Graphic images[edit]

The Priests for Life organization provides an extensive collection of photos of live babies as well as aborted babies, via the internet.[28] Its photos have also appeared in print.[29] According to Pavone: "There is no single thing that I have seen more powerful to change people on abortion than simply showing them the pictures....When people see what abortion does to a baby, they are stung to the heart and their consciences are awakened."[30]

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Report: Pope Francis Is Headed to the Hill - NationalJournal.com

 

January 20, 2015 Pope Francis is coming to Washington.

He will reportedly address a joint session of Congress in late September, according to his proposed schedule for the first visit to the United States of his papacy. His tentative itinerary reportedly includes visits to Washington, Philadelphia, and New York, said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, a member of organizing committee for the pope's upcoming U.S. visit, according to the Catholic News Agency.

Report: Pope Francis Is Headed to the Hill - NationalJournal.com

Weekly Collection for the weekend of January 18, 2015

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No change in capital campaign pledges.   Sizeable payments however there have been 3 weekends since last report.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Pope says Catholics should not breed 'like rabbits' - Yahoo News

 

Rome (AFP) - Pope Francis appealed Monday for responsible parenting and said that good Catholics should not have to breed "like rabbits".

The leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics said he defends the Church's teaching against artificial contraception but claimed that didn't mean "Christians should have children one after the other."

He told journalists on his flight back from his visit to the Philippines that he once asked a mother of seven children -- all born through caesarian section -- who was pregnant with her eighth if she wanted to "leave behind seven young orphans".

"She said, 'I trust in God.' But God gave us the means to be responsible," the pope said. "Some think, and excuse the term, that to be good Catholics, they must be like rabbits."

Francis said creating new life was "part of the sacrament of marriage" and in Manila had strongly defended his predecessor Paul VI's outlawing of artificial contraception for Catholics in 1968.

"Paul VI was worried by the growth of neo-Malthusianism" (which advocates restricting the number of children the poor can have) which tried "put a control on humanity... he was a prophet," he said.

"The key teaching of the Church is responsible parenthood. And how do we get that? By dialogue. There are marriage groups in the Church, experts and pastors," he added

Pope says Catholics should not breed 'like rabbits' - Yahoo News

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Twin Cities archdiocese files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy | INFORUM

….

14th Catholic bankruptcy

Friday's filing marks the 14th Roman Catholic organization or group to file for bankruptcy protection since 2004. He's been involved in eight of them, he said.

"We will do this in a way that it's never been done before," Anderson said at a press conference in his office Friday. "In a way that can bring healing, it can bring compensation, it can advance change and not fight and get involved in contention and adversary relationships.

Past bankruptcies have varied widely, Anderson said. The average resolution takes about two years. Some have taken longer. The bankruptcy case of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, for example, remains unresolved after four years. Anderson said the archdiocese there has contested all victims' claims and has haggled over how much will be paid to claimants.

Compensation for victims has also varied. In the Diocese of Helena, Mont., Anderson said victims received about $42,000 each. In the Diocese of San Diego, victims were awarded almost $1.4 million each.

It's unclear how much money will be made available to the more than 100 claimants here. That could hinge on whether the archdiocese contests validity of claims and on availability of insurance coverage, which is in dispute.

Anderson said for most victims, it's not about the money.

"It's really about making sure that other kids are not hurt, making sure they've done something to prevent it from happening in the future, and holding those responsible accountable in some way," Anderson said. "The filing of this bankruptcy ... doesn't keep us and the survivors with whom we're working from pursuing that objective."

More time to sue

In November, the archdiocese said its operating deficit can be partly attributed to the $4.1 million it has spent to address claims of clergy sexual abuse since May 2013, when the Minnesota Legislature opened a three-year window for victims to file claims against their abusers for abuse that occurred many years ago.

Since the act went into effect, 25 lawsuits have been filed; two have been settled.

Three lawsuits were scheduled to go to trial Jan. 26. Those proceedings are now stayed and their claims, along with any new claims, will be incorporated into the bankruptcy case.

Archdiocese officials said in November that because of the "significant number" of claims they've been told will be filed, the archdiocese could no longer draw from budget reserves.

Total operating revenue for the year ending June 30, 2014, was $25.5 million, compared with $32.7 million in 2013.

That decrease was largely due to a $7.7 million drop when the Catholic Services Appeal was shifted into a separate nonprofit organization at the start of 2014. The move assured donors that their contributions would go directly to specified ministries, instead of flowing through the chancery.

The archdiocese's chief financial officer, Thomas Mertens, wrote in the Nov. 20 issue of the Catholic Spirit, the official newspaper of the archdiocese, how a reorganization would affect operations:….

 

Read the entire article by clicking on the following:  Twin Cities archdiocese files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy | INFORUM

Friday, January 16, 2015

Kansas City Catholics Divided Over Vatican Investigation Of Bishop | WPSU

 

Catholic bishop normally governs pretty much unchecked in his diocese — only the pope can dislodge a bishop. And each time Catholics celebrate Mass in Kansas City, Mo., they pray for Bishop Robert Finn, right after they pray for Pope Francis.

But some Catholics here, like David Biersmith, a Eucharistic minister, refuse to go along.

"When the priest says that, you know, you're supposed say it with him, but I just leave that out," Biersmith says. "I just don't say it. Because he's not my bishop, as far as I'm concerned."

Much of the discontent in Kansas City has to do with an incident four years ago. A computer technician found hundreds of lewd photos of young girls on a priest's laptop. The priest was Shawn Ratigan, and it wasn't the first sign that he was a pedophile.

But Finn didn't tell authorities. Instead, he sent Ratigan to a therapist, switched Ratigan's job and asked him to stay away from children. Ratigan didn't, and months later a diocese official finally reported him.

Ratigan was sentenced to 50 years in prison for child pornography, and Finn drew two years of probation for shielding him. Finn is now the subject of a rare Vatican investigation that began in September.

Jeff Weis was once just a regular parishioner in the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City, but after Ratigan was sentenced, he knew he had to act.

"What I was looking for was, what is the church's response to this?" he says. "What is the bishop's response?"

The church set up new protocols for reporting child abuse and hired a former federal prosecutor to investigate the Ratigan case. But Finn stayed on as bishop, so Weis launched an online petition asking the pope to remove him. It has drawn more than 260,000 signatures.

Other parishioners sent the same message in different ways, and then last fall, the Vatican dispatched an archbishop here to investigate.

"Out of the blue I got a call, and they were arranging meetings for the archbishop to talk with people about the Bishop Finn issues," says Jim Caccamo, who led a board for the diocese to advise Finn on sexual abuse issues.

While Caccamo calls Finn a wonderful, holy man, he can't fathom why he failed to report Ratigan to authorities.

"Oh my gosh!" he says. "In this environment today, when the church is moving to protect its children, how, how, how could that happen?"

A lot of people are asking the same question. James Connell, a priest and canon lawyer in Milwaukee, says Finn broke protocols the church set up after the huge sexual abuse crisis in 2002. Even high-ranking church officials have publicly weighed in.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley from Boston, a close adviser to Pope Francis, addressed the Finn issue on 60 Minutes last November.

"It's a question that the Holy See needs to address urgently," O'Malley told CBS's Norah O'Donnell. "There's a recognition of that from Pope Francis."

Francis recently demoted Finn's closest ally in Rome, a conservative cardinal named Raymond Burke. But Finn still has plenty of support in Kansas City.

"Well, I love Bishop Finn," says John Purk, a recently ordained deacon in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese. "He's a great friend. He's a supporter. You know exactly what he's thinking because it just rolls off his tongue."

Like Finn, Purk holds traditional Catholic views of marriage, birth control, abortion and theology. It's a belief system that Purk says reveals the deity of Jesus.

"Now, a lot of people have a problem with that, just like they had a problem with Jesus," he says. "And so, the problems that Jesus encountered, this bishop encounters."

Purk says Finn faced a real dilemma over Ratigan. He says the bishop got conflicting advice, and he notes that Ratigan attempted suicide when his lewd photographs came to light.

"I think the bishop did the best that he could have done, with the information that he had, having to balance mercy and justice with a man who was suicidal," Purk says.

American Catholics are looking to see how the Vatican balances the traditional autonomy of bishops with the need to better address the church's ongoing sexual abuse issue and the pope's selection for leader of the diocese in Kansas City.

Kansas City Catholics Divided Over Vatican Investigation Of Bishop | WPSU

More about the investigation

An investigation of a diocese by another bishop, known formally as a visitation, normally occurs when the pope or one of the Vatican's congregations have concerns about the leadership of the diocese.

A former chancellor of the Kansas City diocese also confirmed to NCR Monday the ongoing investigation, saying he had helped in an effort to have a Vatican review of Finn's leadership.

Jude Huntz, who served as the diocese's second-in-command from 2011 until last month, said he had given advice to several Kansas City-area Catholics who wanted to write to the Vatican's apostolic nuncio in Washington expressing concerns about Finn.

"I hope that there is a leadership change in the diocese of Kansas City St-Joseph," said Huntz, who now serves as the director of the Chicago archdiocese's Office for Peace and Justice. "And that's been my hope for quite some time."


Related: "Kansas City Catholics ask Pope Francis to investigate bishop," Feb. 18; "Letter calls upon Pope Francis to investigate Kansas City bishop," Aug. 25


Three people who said they spoke to Prendergast as part of the investigation independently confirmed details of the archbishop's visit but asked to remain anonymous because they had been told not to divulge details of their interviews.

Prendergast's assignment, one of the individuals said, "was to determine whether or not Bishop Finn is fit to be a leader ... whether he had the qualities of leadership to run a diocese."

According to that source, the archbishop said he was going to speak to both those who were supportive of Finn and those who had concerns.

"I didn't think he was fit to be a leader," the source said. "I told the archbishop I thought [Finn] was holy but didn't have the organizational skills for the diocese."

The second person said Prendergast took time to listen to all concerns that were expressed and was "very receptive."

"He just was so open to listen," the person said. "He was there to learn."

The individuals said Prendergast told them he was going to make a report of his findings and send it to the Congregation for Bishops for review.

"They may accept or reject whatever I suggest," Prendergast said, according to one of the individuals.

A third individual, a layman and longtime Kansas City parishioner, said he met with Prendergast "and a priest taking notes" for about 30 minutes at a residence in Overland Park, Kan., a suburb of Kansas City.

This person, who said he has already written to the Vatican's ambassador in Washington about Finn, told NCR: "[Prendergast and the priest] said they were there to evaluate and make a recommendation if there was a need to make a change in leadership" in the Kansas City diocese.

Finn and his diocese have been under scrutiny for several years, particularly surrounding the handling of sexual misconduct by Shawn Ratigan, a former priest who was found guilty in federal court in September 2013 of producing child pornography and sentenced to 50 years in jail. Ratigan was laicized in January.

In September 2012, Finn was found guilty in one Missouri county court of the misdemeanor count. Earlier, in November 2011, he made an agreement with prosecutors in another county to suspend misdemeanor charges as long as he agreed to give prosecutors there immediate oversight of the diocese's sexual abuse reporting procedures.

The Kansas City diocese has also been facing a number of lawsuits for sexual abuse claims and has made a number of large financial settlements in recent years. In 2012, the diocesan paper estimated the diocese had spent $1.39 million for the bishops' legal defense and almost $4 million for other claims.

The cumulative amount spent by the diocese on sexual abuse claims and defense is a "staggering figure," Huntz said. "[The Vatican] needs to see those numbers and recognize it for what it is."

Huntz also said that to offset expenses, the diocese had raised parish assessments, the money the diocese collects from parishes, with some "going up 33 percent." Huntz attributed higher operating costs to increased insurance payments.

"A parish can't afford those things," he said. "It's really hurting a lot of the parishes from a financial point of view."

Likewise, the number of Catholics in Kansas City has declined, Huntz said.

"Ten years ago ... when Bishop Finn came to Kansas City, the diocese had 165,000 Catholics," he said. "This past year, I submitted our official statistics to Rome, and we only had 128,000 Catholics. That's a 25 percent decline."

News of the Kansas City investigation follows reports last week that the investigation of a diocese in Paraguay led to that bishop's removal. Pope Francis removed Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano of the diocese of Ciudad del Este on Sept. 25, following a visitation to that diocese by Spanish Cardinal Santos Abril y Castelló, archpriest of Rome's Basilica of St. Mary Major.

Huntz said the situation in the Kansas City diocese is "something everybody should care about."

"We are all united in the larger church, and to see a diocese go downhill like it has should make everybody concerned."

More about the investigation clock on the following:  http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/kansas-city-bishop-robert-finn-under-vatican-investigation

A Global Catholic Climate Movement, None Too Soon | America Magazine

 

Today marks the beginning of the Global Catholic Climate Movement, a coalition of Catholic organizations determined to work together to confront the climate crisis. It includes groups like the Franciscan Action Network, the USCCB’s Catholic Climate Covenant, the U.S. branch of Catholic Charities, and the Jesuit European Social Center. On the occasion of Pope Francis’s visit to the Philippines, the group will be presenting a statement today to Cardinal Tagle of Manila.

It’s fitting that the GCCM has chosen the Philippines as its starting point, rather than heading to the United Nations in New York, for instance. The climate crisis, after all, is being felt first in some of the poorest communities in the world, such as those devastated by Typhoon Haiyan. Here in the United States, it is Catholics with ties to family members in Latin America who are most concerned about climate.

The time is right for us, the church, to hear the call and step it up. The science is in. But fear gets in the way—of the precarious economy being disturbed, of having to change our ways of life, of opposing some of the richest corporations on the planet. And where there is fear we can bring faith. The GCCM document says:

[W]e recognize that conversations about the climate crisis have historically been more about intellectual arguments than about the profound spiritual and moral implications of our failure to care for God’s creation. Catholic leaders are thus called to speak with a prophetic voice and in a spiritual dialogue with all people, especially those political and business leaders and consumers who engage in climatically destructive policies and practices. And we recognize our own need for ongoing conversion to live more in keeping with the Creator’s intentions for life in abundance for all people. Until the moral implications of anthropogenic climate change are clearly established and accepted, it is unlikely that societies can or will transition in an appropriate timeframe to sustainable technologies, economies, and lifestyles.

I’m usually a bit unnerved when an organization describes itself as a “movement.” That’s a tricky word, a force of spirit and grace and collective energy that can’t simply be willed or named into existence. But in this case, we should hope that the name is a prophecy soon to come true.

A Global Catholic Climate Movement, None Too Soon | America Magazine