FaithWorld

Many U.S. Catholics have independent streak – survey

A majority of American Roman Catholics feel strongly about the sacraments and traditional church values such as caring for the poor, but they may not agree with the church teachings on topics such as abortion, same-sex marriage and maintaining a celibate, male clergy, a survey has found.

The “Catholics in America” survey of Roman Catholics published by the National Catholic Reporter found 86 percent said Catholics can disagree with aspects of church teaching and still remain loyal to the church.

“Stated in simplest terms, Catholics in the past 25 years have become more autonomous when making decisions about important moral issues; less reliant on official teaching in reaching those decisions; and less deferential to the authority of the Vatican and individual bishops,” according to the study led by William D’Antonio, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies at the Catholic University of America.

The weeklong survey was conducted online with a representative sample of 1,442 Catholic adults beginning on April 24 (Easter Sunday), and had a 3.5 percentage point margin of error.

“It is noteworthy that helping the poor is almost as core to Catholics’ identity as their belief in Jesus’ resurrection, with 67 percent rating this dimension of Catholicism as very important,” the survey said.

Ireland attacks confessional secrecy after Catholic sex abuse scandal

(A Roman Catholic Croat confesses to a priest during a pilgrimage in Krasno, some 150km (93 miles) south of Zagreb August 15, 2009/Nikola Solic )

Ireland’s prime minister has said Catholic clerics would be prosecuted if they failed to tell the authorities about crimes disclosed during confession, the latest blow to the prestige of the once-dominant Church. A report this week found that the Church concealed from the authorities the sexual abuse of children by priests as recently as 2009, and that clerics appeared to follow Church law rather than Irish guidelines to protect minors.

“The law of the land should not be stopped by a crozier or a collar,” Prime Minister Enda Kenny told journalists on Thursday, referring to the hooked staff held by Catholic bishops during religious services. Kenny said his government would submit legislation to parliament that could jail clerics for up to five years if they failed to report to authorities information about the abuse of children.

German Catholic Church opens sexual abuse files, some back to end of WWII

(Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier, March 30, 2010/Johannes Eisele)

Germany’s Roman Catholic Church will open its files to independent investigators into a sexual abuse crisis, allowing a search as far back as 1945, a bishop announced on Wednesday. Nine German dioceses will open records dating back to the end of World War Two while the 18 others will do so for the period 2000 to 2010, Bishop Stephan Ackermann said in Bonn.

“We want to track down the truth that may be lying undiscovered in the files of previous decades,” said Ackermann, the spokesman on abuse issues for the bishops’ conference. The two studies will provide “not only formal statistics, but also research into the causes (of abuse),” he told journalists, “so we can better understand how this monstrous sexual abuse by clerics and church employees came about.”

The German Church, one of the worst affected in a wave of abuse revelations that swept Europe last year, will use the studies to help hitherto undiscovered victims and improve prevention of future abuse, Ackermann said.

Irish Catholic Church concealed child abuse even after new prevention rules in 1990s

(Cloyne Cathedral, 7 May 2009/John Armagh)

A government-sponsored report said on Wednesday the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Ireland continued to conceal the sexual abuse of children by priests even after it introduced rules in the mid-1990s to protect minors.

Revelations of rape and beatings by members of religious orders and the priesthood in the past have shattered the dominant role of the Catholic Church in Ireland. But the latest report into the handling of sex abuse claims in the diocese of Cloyne, in County Cork, shows that senior-ranking clergy were still trying to cover up abuse allegations almost until the present day.

“This is not a catalogue of failure from a different era. This is not about an Ireland of 50 years ago. This is about Ireland now,” Minister for Children Frances Fitzgerald told a news conference.

Offending priest handled “by the book” by Episcopal Church leader

The Episcopal Church’s diocese of Nevada sought to calm an uproar over a former Benedictine monk who admitted sexual indiscretions with a parishioner before he was ordained an Episcopal priest by Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is now leader of the 2.3 million member U.S. church.

“It looks to me like she handled the situation by the book,” Bishop Dan Edwards said of Jefferts Schori’s actions regarding Fr. Bede Parry, a church organist and former Episcopal priest.

Jefferts Schori became the 450-year-old church’s first female leader when she was appointed presiding bishop in 2006.

Ireland eyes Catholic religious orders’ properties to meet abuse damages costs

(Irish clerical sexual abuse victims with a copy of a government report into child abuse, in Dublin May 20, 2009/Cathal McNaughton)

The Irish government asked religious orders on Tuesday to consider transferring buildings and land to the state to cover a 200 million euros shortfall in their contribution to a compensation fund for victims of abuse. The congregations agreed in 2009 to provide more compensation to victims of rape, beatings and slave labour in now defunct industrial schools they ran after the publication of a report into the abuse shocked the once devout Catholic country.

The government wants the congregations, including the Christian Brothers and the Sisters of Mercy, to contribute half of an estimated final compensation bill of 1.36 billion euros ($1.9 billion). The government has paid out around 1.3 billion euros in compensation so far.

Catholic Church should pay Dutch sexual abuse victims – commission

(Pictures of sexual abuse victims placed outside the Vatican Embassy in London September 9, 2010/Stefan Wermuth)

TheDutch bishops’ conference had sought the recommendation of an independent commission after cases surfaced involving paedophile priests in the Netherlands, Belgium, Ireland, Germany, Australia, Canada and the United States.

Victims should be paid on a sliding scale starting at 5,000 euros, with 25,000 for victims of rape and the maximum of 100,000 euros ($142,300) for “exceptional cases of sexual abuse”, the commission concluded. Its report released on Monday said financial compensation alone was not enough, and victims should receive apologies, assistance and recognition for their suffering.

Vatican turns to Internet to stem sexual abuse scandals

(A computer mouse pad with an image of Pope John Paul II in Brazil, October 2, 1997/Gregg Newton)

The Roman Catholic Church, often accused of dragging its feet on sexual abuse scandals, will turn to the Internet with a new e-learning center to help safeguard children and the victims of molestation. The Vatican presented the move at a news conference on Saturday flagging an international conference on sexual abuse of children by clergy to be held next February at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University with church backing.

“The e-learning center will work with medical institutions and universities to develop a constant response to the problems of sexual abuse,” Monsignor Klaus Peter Franzl of the archdiocese of Munich. It will be posted in German, English, French, Spanish and Italian and help bishops and other church workers put into place Vatican guidelines to protect children.

U.S. Catholic bishops approve slight shifts in clerical sexual abuse policy

(Clergy abuse victims advocates protest near the courthouse before a hearing on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sexual abuse scandal in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, March 14, 2011/Tim Shaffer)

U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday approved slight revisions to their policy governing child sex abuse, saying the church would not tolerate offending priests. But critics said children were still vulnerable. After minimal debate, the bishops passed revisions to its decade-old Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which for the first time listed child pornography as equivalent to sexual abuse and cited the need to protect mentally disabled people from abuse.

The bishops voted 187 in favor of the revised charter, with five opposed and four bishops abstaining. A two-thirds vote was needed for approval.

Belgians molested by Catholic priests to file suit against Vatican

(Belgian lawyers Walter Van Steenbrugge (L) and Christine Mussche (2nd L) arrive at a news conference in Ghent June 1, 2011/Eric Vidal)

Belgians molested by Catholic priests will go ahead with their legal proceedings against the Vatican for damages despite an offer by local bishops to compensate them, their lawyers said on Wednesday. Pope Benedict enjoys diplomatic immunity but other Vatican officials and Belgian bishops will be summoned to testify in the case, lawyer Walter van Steenbrugge said.

Christine Mussche, another lawyer for about 70 victims, said the Vatican failed to intervene even when it learned about the scandals in the Belgian Church. Over 500 cases of alleged abuse have been registered in the past year. “There were instructions from the pope that said those things had to be kept secret and silent,” she said, adding the Church could be guilty of harmful neglect under Belgian law.