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Almost a Third of Diocesan Priests are Retired, Sick or On Leave. According to a Catholic News Service Analysis three of every 10 of 29,483 diocesan priests in the 2004 Catholic directory are retired, sick or on leave. The statistic is significant because the priest shortage is more acute than it would at first appear. During 2003 Catholic infant baptisms declined by 20,000 to 985,141 and marriages by 10,000 to 232,060. Confirmations were up by about 8,000 however to 645,426. (Catholic Trends 7/31/2004)

Pope’s Personal Secretary is Effectively Running the Papacy. According to Sandro Magister writing in the October 22 Italian journal L’Espresso, Archbishop Stanislas Dziwicz is increasingly the voice of John Paul II as his health deteriorates: “Historians of the contemporary church, know of no other papal secretary who has had such disproportionate influence. Dziwicz is the eminence grise of the circle that governs the church in the shadow of Pope Wojtyla” Other influential “surrogate popes” include Cardinal Ratzinger, and the papal Secretary of State Cardinal Sodano. (Available at http://213.92.16.98/ESW_articolo/0,2393,42260,00.html.)

Disbarment Proceedings for Attorney Who Accused Albany Bishop. New York’s Committee on Professional Standards has filed disbarment proceedings against Manhattan attorney John Aretakis for unethical behavior. Aretakis had claimed that Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard and his predecessors had protected pedophile priests at the expense of victims and that Hubbard himself was an abuser. Hubbard was forced to hire an independent investigator who cleared him of all accusations last August. (The Albany Times-Union 11/22/04)

Green Bay Parishioners Want Optional Celibacy, Women’s Ordination, Lay Empowerment. These were three of fourteen suggestions that surfaced when parishioners from twelve area parishes were asked how to develop the leadership of the baptized in a series of meetings held in Green Bay last summer. Others included “learn that mistakes are ok,” “acceptance of change by laity” and “acceptance of female leadership” (Sunday Bulletin of St. Willebord’s Church 9/26/04)

Ninety Per Cent of Non-ordained Parish Administrators are Women. A recent study by the Center of Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) found that 90% of the 435 parishes administered by someone other than a priest or a deacon were administered by women. Women religious accounted for 71 percent of parish life coordinators who were interviewed and lay women accounted for an additional 18 percent. Men -- lay men or religious brothers -- accounted for 11 percent. Religious sisters and brothers are counted as laity in church discussions of lay ecclesial ministry, since they cannot engage in ministries reserved to ordained clergy. (Co-authors of the report were CARA researchers Mark M. Gray and Mary L. Gautier. The report is available at www.emergingmodels.org.)

Priest tells Australian Priest Conference to Lobby for Optional Celibacy at Eucharist Synod. Columban Father Charles Rue of the Columban Centre for Peace, Ecology and Justice in Sydney challenged Australia’s National Council of Priests’ Conference (NCP) to consider a lobbying effort at the October 2005 Synod on the Eucharist. Fr. Rue said the NCP should use their “rich corporate knowledge of the pastoral needs of Catholics” to persuade authorities to support a change in current church laws. “Well functioning parishes will die without priests,” he said. “As a matter of justice, can the NCP as a group, not just as individuals, lobby bishop conferences and curia officials to address a structural form of sin in the Church which denies Catholic communities the Eucharist?” (from Catholic News Sept.2004 www.cathnews.com/news/408/168.php)

Priests Happy with Calling Despite Challenges. Ninety two percent of 834 responding priests said yes to the statement “Overall I am happy as a priest” in a recent study of priestly morale. Priests from eleven dioceses from coast to coast were surveyed, including some deeply embroiled in the sex abuse crisis. Only six percent were thinking of leaving the priesthood. Priest-psychologist Fr. Stephen J. Rosseti said the
findings were consistent with several other surveys conducted in past years. He believes: “There is one other factor that might help to account for the enduring satisfaction and happiness of our priests. In this survey, 95% professed to have a ‘personal relationship with God (or Jesus) that is nourishing to me.’ We are blessed to have such strong men of faith serving the people of God.” Rosetti is president of the St. Luke Institute and a consultant to the U.S. Bishops on clergy sex abuse (America 9/13/04)

Irish, Australian Priests Support Optional Celibacy. Sixty per cent of Irish priests and 55% of Australian priests believe celibacy should be optional in studies released in October. The Australian survey was conducted at the behest of the Australian Bishops. The Irish survey was conducted by a Church newspaper.
(Online Catholics 10/04, Reuters, 10/28/04)

U.S. Nuns Meet With Abuse Victims In October four officials of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) met with five people who said they were sexually abused by nuns. The meeting was organized by LCWR and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a victim’s advocacy group. “We are fully committed to the healing of those who have been wounded by abuse, particularly abuse by members of congregations of women religious,” said a conference statement. The LCWR Executive Committee will consider outreach suggestions presented by victims some of which include victims, speaking at regional conference meetings and at 2005 national meetings of LCWR and the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.
(Catholic News Service)

Bishop Klaus Kung is the new Bishop of Austria’s St. Polten diocese, replacing Bishop Kurt Krenn, who was finally forced to resign. On Krenn’s watch over 17,000 pornographic images, some involving children, were downloaded by seminarians. Images included students and seminary teachers in sexually explicit poses. Krenn had dismissed the incident as a “boyish prank.” Kung, who is a member of Opus Dei, was sent by the Vatican to investigate. Krenn was replaced only after a widespread outcry from Austrian Catholics. Over ten thousand people left the church because of the incident.
(The Tablet, Oct. 9, 2004 and Dec. 4, 2004)

Resources for GLBT Catholics Abused by Priests are available in a free pamphlet from Dignity USA. The pamphlet “identifies issues and resources for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered survivors. It was created by a psychotherapist who is also a trauma specialist, and is funded in part by the Foundation of the School Sisters of Notre Dame. Email info@dignityusa.org or call 800-877-8797.



Winter 2005

 

 

 


 

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