FaithWorld

With new Catholic leader in Hanoi, a breakthrough in sight?

Protesters wave banners in support of Archbishop Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet of Hanoi outside the city's cathedral, 7 May 2010/Nguyen Huy Kham

Hanoi Catholics held a ceremony last Friday to welcome the man who is expected to become their new archbishop, but for many on hand – priests and faithful alike – it was a moment of sadness. There were no flowers at the altar of Hanoi’s 124-year-old cathedral welcoming Peter Nguyen Van Nhon, 72, to the role of coadjutor bishop. Outside on the steps, several dozen people brandished banners in protest of what his papal appointment represented.

It’s not that they had anything personal against Nhon, who is head of Vietnam’s bishops conference and hails from the southern city of Dalat. But Nhon happens to be taking over for Joseph Ngo Quang Kiet, 57, an archbishop who stood up to local Communist authorities by backing church groups embroiled in land disputes with the government in recent years.

For that, Kiet was beloved by the city’s Catholics — and hated by the city government, which lobbied vigorously to have him removed. Observers say the Vatican eventually came to see Kiet as an impediment to better relations with Vietnam, home to Asia’s second biggest Catholic population after the Philippines and one of the few remaining countries with which the Holy See has no diplomatic relations.

“We are very sad and very surprised. They are very different people,” said Peter Nguyen Van Khai, a priest from the parish of Thai Ha, where eight Catholics were arrested and convicted for their role in a land protest 2008.

Dutch Catholic abuse probe calls offenders to come forward

Wim Deetman

Wim Deetman

The head of a commission asked by the Roman Catholic Church in the Netherlands to look into allegations of sexual abuse of minors by priests said on Friday a year-long investigation was needed and appealed for offenders to come forward.

“From a moral, religious point of view, in the framework of the Roman Catholic Church, it is wise to come to the forefront and say what you have done,” said Wim Deetman, who was asked by the Church in March to lead a preliminary inquiry in response to an increasing number of victims coming forward.

“It will be helpful for the commission to establish how broad it has been, not to hear just from the victims but also from the offenders,” he added. The number of calls to a Dutch hotline for victims of abuse has risen to 1,500 since early March, and 52 formal complaints about abuse have been made.

Chile RC bishops sorry for abuse, Brazilian priests scandal

christ statue

The statue of "Christ the Redeemer" is enshrouded in clouds atop Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro, 8 Oct 1999/Gregg Newton.

The Roman Catholic Church in Chile on Tuesday said there had been 20 confirmed or alleged cases of child abuse by priests, and asked for forgiveness from the victims.

Monsignor Alejandro Goic, head of Chile’s bishops’ conference, said that in five of the cases sentences had been imposed, in another five trials were still under way, and in 10 others priests had been absolved or results were pending.

German Catholic Church sexual abuse hotline flooded with calls

ackermann

Trier Bishop Stephan Ackermann launches hotline on March 30, 2010. Text reads : "victims of sexual abuse"/Johannes Eisele

A German hotline for victims of sexual abuse by clerics was deluged with thousands of calls in the week after the Roman Catholic Church launched the counseling service in a bid to restore trust.

Some 13,293 people attempted to call the hotline over the course of the first week but only 2,670 were able to connect with the overwhelmed 11 counselors on duty, church officials said.

Pope seen undeterred by abuse scandal, reform calls

pope palm

Pope Benedict leads Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican March 28, 2010/Alessandro Bianchi

The sex abuse scandals lashing the Vatican have led to calls for an end to priestly celibacy, a cleanout of the Catholic Church hierarchy and the resignation of Pope Benedict, but the pope seems unlikely to alter his approach.

The demands, widely aired in the media, are so far removed from the way Benedict works that abuse victims and other critics who raise them seem bound to be disappointed.

GUESTVIEW: Are Catholics masochists?

lyon catholic

Notre Dame de Fourvière Basilica, Lyon/Frédéric de La Mure

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Isabelle de Gaulmyn is Religion Editor of the Paris Catholic daily newspaper La Croix and author of Benoît XVI, Le pape incompris (Benedict XVI, The Misunderstood Pope). She blogs in French at Une foi par semaine, where this first appeared.

Are Catholics masochists? After all that’s been happening these days, this looks like the question to ask. There were probably more than 3 million Catholics in France who went to church to celebrate Palm Sunday today. And during this Holy Week, millions more will to prepare for Easter. If the news we hear is anything to go by, these Catholics must be either mad or masochistic.

la croix uneWhy not take advantage of this Sunday to go fishing or play tennis rather than frequent a place full of pedophile priests and leaders who lie  and hush up the truth? How can there still be people in the pews, on pilgrimages, in monasteries or volunteering in one of many charities?

Stupak now target of all sides in abortion debate

Up until a few days ago Bart Stupak, an unassuming Democratic congressman from Michigan, was a hero among American activists opposed to abortion rights (who refer to themselves as “pro-life”). This was because Stupak had managed to insert strong language in the House of Representatives version of the healthcare bill aimed at preventing any federal tax  funds from being used for abortion.

What a difference a weekend makes. President Barack Obama clinched the votes he needed to win passage for his healthcare overhaul on Sunday by winning over a handful of Democratic abortion rights opponents, led by Stupak, with the pledge of an executive order affirming restrictions on the use of federal funds for the procedure.

USA-HEALTHCARE/

Stupak was suddenly a traitor to the cause, with barbs like “Judas” thrown his way on the blogosphere. Randy Neugebauer, a Republican congressman from Texas,  reportedly yelled “Baby killer!,” while Stupak explained why he was finally going to support the bill. Neugebauer was later quoted as saying he was referring to the bill and not Stupak himself, but that is the kind of emotional language one often hears in the shouting matches on this issue.

Sexual abuse charges at Jesuit schools shock Germany

Germany’s leading Jesuit official has apologised for a growing number of sexual abuse cases at Jesuit high schools that have come to light recently. School officials there had failed to respond properly when they first heard of the allegations years ago, Father Stefan Dartmann, the head of Germany’s Jesuit order, said.

Dartmann said he knew of 25 former pupils who said they had been abused at presitgious Jesuit schools between 1975 and 1984 — 20 at the  Canisius Kolleg in Berlin, 3 at the  Hamburger St. Ansgar Schule in Hamburg and 2 at the Kolleg St. Blasien in St. Blasien in the Black Forest.
Berlin's Jesuit Canisius Kolleg

Berlin's Jesuit Canisius Kolleg

German media reported the first cases last week but the number of alleged victims has been growing and the possibility of a wider scandal looms.  “I’m worried that a storm is going to break out now,” said the former director of Kolleg St. Blasien, Father Hans Joachim Martin.

GUESTVIEW:When it comes to clergy misconduct, take off those stained-glass specs

eee2 (Photo: Protest against clergy sex abuse at the Catholic cathedral in Sydney, 18 July 2008/Tim Wimborne)

The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Elizabeth E. Evans is an American freelance journalist living in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania who writes about religion.

By Elizabeth E. Evans

Two large scale American studies of clergy gone off the rails raise a host of troubling and baffling questions, not solely about clergy sexual misconduct, but about how and why parishioners either tolerate or ignore signals that something is wrong. One sad but perhaps inescapable conclusion from them is that it may be time to start taking a more skeptical look at those who exercise power in our congregations.

garlandThis fall, Baylor University’s School of Social Work released the results of a national study of clergy sexual misconduct with adults. Roughly three percent of adult women who attend religious services at least once a month have been the target of inappropriate sexual behavior by pastors, researchers found . That’s a startling number. But even more eye-popping were the number of congregants — eight percent — who knew about clergy sexual misconduct in their faith community.

Abortion, a Kennedy and a Catholic communion conundrum

pkennedyA new row has flared in the Catholic ranks of the U.S. abortion wars, this one involving a member of America’s most famous Catholic political family and a bishop.  Congressman Patrick Kennedy, the son of the late Senator Edward Kennedy, has claimed that Rhode Island Bishop Thomas Tobin has slapped a communion ban on him for his support for abortion rights. (PHOTO: Patrick Kennedy speaks at funeral of his father, Senator Edward Kennedy, 29 Aug 2009/Brian Snyder)

The bishop instructed me not to take communion and said that he has instructed the diocesan priests not to give me communion,” the Rhode Island Democrat was quoted as saying this week in the Providence Journal.

On the pages of the same paper the bishop fired back, asserting that it was a “request,” not an instruction.  “If he took it as an instruction, so be it, but it was really a request,”  the bishop was quoted as saying.