NEWS BRIEFS - NEWS BRIEFS - NEWS BRIEFS
2008 Synod on Scripture. Pope Benedict has decided to focus on the Bible in the life of the Church at the next World Synod of Bishops scheduled for October 5-26, 2008. An international group of cardinals and bishops plan to have synod preparatory documents (“lineamenta”) ready by the end of January. These will be sent to bishops’ conferences around the world. Responses from the world’s dioceses will form a working document for the 2008 synod. Planners urged special attention to “the word of God in liturgy, in preaching, in catechesis, in theology, spirituality, public and private meditation, inculturation and ecumenism.” (Catholic News Service)
Spokane Diocese Sells Headquarters to Pay for Sex Abuse. On October 4, the Spokane diocese sold its Pastoral Center for 2.05 million dollars. The diocese declared bankruptcy in November 2004 in order to reach a financial settlement with over 100 people who were sexually abused as children by diocesan priests. The diocese is now considering several options for relocating their central offices. (Catholic News Service).
Anglican Synod Approves Women Bishops. Despite warnings from the Vatican that ordaining women bishops would destroy the possibility of full unity with the Catholic and Orthodox churches, the General Synod of Church of England supported by a large majority a motion saying the consecration of women bishops was theologically justified. (The Tablet 7/15/2006)
Davenport Fourth Diocese to File for Bankruptcy. On Oct. 10, twenty-two days after a jury awarded $1.5 million to a Davenport man who was sexually abused by a diocesan priest, the diocese filed a petition for bankruptcy protection. The possibility of bankruptcy had been under consideration since October 2004, when an agreement to settle 37 sexual abuse claims and lawsuits for $9 million was reached. In the past two years the diocese reached settlements totaling more than $10.5 million. Diocesan leaders believed they had no other option. (Catholic News Service 10/11)
Former Cleveland Diocesan Officials Indicted. On August 16, Joseph F. Smith, the former chief finance and legal officer of the Cleveland Diocese, was indicted by a federal grand jury because of an alleged kickback scheme. Smith is presently working as the finance director for the Diocese of Columbus. Smith and another former diocesan employee, Anton Zgoznik, 39, were charged with mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, obstruction of tax laws and conspiracy to defraud the Internal Revenue Service. (Catholic News Service)
Cardinal Hummes Named to Congregation of the Clergy.
In what many observers describe as a surprising appointment, Pope Benedict has named Sao Paulo’s Cardinal Claudio Hummes to head the Congregation of the Clergy. Hummes was outspoken about the severity of the priest shortage at the 2005 Synod on the Eucharist, saying:
“... in Brazil there are two Protestant pastors for each Catholic priest, and the majority from the Pentecostal churches... the same is true for almost all of Latin America and here too we wonder: till when Latin America will be a Catholic continent?” He is reported to be sympathetic to liberation theology. The Congregation for Clergy promotes thee ongoing spiritual, intellectual and pastoral formation of diocesan priests and permanent deacons, as well as religious education in Catholic parishes. (Catholic News Service 10/31/06 and FutureChurch reports).
British Women Call For Lay Ministry Funding. In August the National Board of Catholic Women in Britain decried the high cost of training priests. Since most dioceses say they cannot afford to fund lay ministry training, Verena Wright suggested: “Surplus [seminary] buildings could be sold, one retained as the national seminary, one used for lay training.” (The Tablet 8/26/2006)
Voice of the Faithful Accountability Campaign. National Voice of the Faithful has developed a special petition to work for accountability in the Church. The goals are to achieve financial openness at both the parish and diocesan levels and to make sure that the children of the Church are protected. To sign the petition go to www.votf.org.