NEWS BRIEFS-NEWS BRIEFS - NEWS BRIEFS
World's Catholics increase, priests remain static. The 2006 edition of the Vatican yearbook shows the world's Catholics increased by 1.1% to 1.098 billion in 2004 while the number of priests increased by only 0.1% from 405,450 in 2003 to 405,891 in 2004. (Annuario Pontificio, 2004).
Catholic heavy hitters want accountability. A recent study commissioned by FADICA (Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities), found that Catholics who give more than $5,000 a year to the church are more critical than other Catholics about the church's financial accountability practices. 'Only 12 percent of larger parish donors rated the church above average in keeping them informed on the use of their donations, while over a third of typical parishioners rated church reporting practices above average.' (Catholic News Service)
Irish Bishop sees possibility of women priests. The Bishop of Clogher, Joseph Duffy said in January that if the priest shortage continues women priests may become acceptable. But such a move would require agreement on a 'universal level' in the Church: 'It would only be on that basis that it would be introduced but I would have no objection to it.' Bishop Duffy said of 97 priests in his diocese, only three are under 40, and in 20 years most active priests will have retired. He said he joins another Irish Bishop, Bishop Willy Walsh of Killaloe, in wondering if the days of an all male clergy are numbered. (Wire reports, Jan 18, 2006)
German Cardinal speaks for lay rights. Cardinal Karl Lehmann of Mainz, head of the German bishops' conference, criticized Regensburg Bishop Gerhard Muller's November decision to dissolve an elected diocesan council and replacing it with an appointed body. Lehmann called the move 'a genuine step backward' and said that while every bishop had the right to run his diocese as he saw fit: 'I don't think it is good if people at the diocesan level are only appointed and nobody is elected from below.' He spoke following a celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Synod of Wurzburg, which granted the laity new rights in the German church. (National Catholic Reporter 12/9/05)
Spokane Bishop praised for victim
settlement. On Feb.1, Bishop William S. Skylstad announced an offer of $5.7 million dollars to settle with 75 victims of sex abuse. But it was the non-financial concessions that won the diocese praise from various victims' organizations including the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and Voice of the Faithful. The diocese agreed to use the term 'victims' rather than 'alleged victims' and allow victims to write about their experiences in the diocesan newspaper. Skylstad also plans to lobby state lawmakers for an end to the statute of limitations on child sex abuse. Skylstad is currently the President of the U.S. Bishops' Conference (Catholic News Service).
Bishop Gumbleton sides with abuse victims. Bishop Thomas Gumbleton of Detroit recently parted company with all of Ohio's Bishops and testified in favor of Ohio SB 17 which increases the statute of limitations and creates a one year moratorium permitting victims to engage in civil suits of past cover ups. In March, the Ohio Senate unanimously passed Senate Bill 17. Ohio's Catholic Bishops support increasing the statute of limitations but oppose the 'civil window' part of the legislation. The bill is presently tied up in committee. Gumbleton, who for the first time revealed that a priest inappropriately touched him as a minor, said, 'I regret that we need this kind of legislation. But I insist we do need it. For many [abuse victims], probably almost all of them, it would be very
difficult to come forward and speak.'
(From AP reports and Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).