ABOARD THE PAPAL FLIGHT TO SCOTLAND (CNS) -- En route to Great Britain for a four-day visit, Pope Benedict XVI offered a strongly worded analysis of the priestly sex abuse crisis, saying the church was not vigilant enough or fast enough in responding to the problem.
One decade ago, if astute observers had been asked to rate the best-connected political heavyweights among Catholic prelates, Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston would have been a popular choice. Archbishop Rembert Weakland of Milwaukee and Cardinal Godfried Danneels of Belgium would have done well in a poll of "most admired bishops among liberal Catholics," while Cardinal Darío Castrillón Hoyos of Colombia seemed a hot pick to be the first Latin American pope.
All four men seemed destined to be remembered as lions of their era. It's an object lesson in how quickly things can change, since today three have already become pariahs because of their roles in the sexual abuse crisis, while Danneels, now 77 and retired, is fighting to save his reputation from suffering the same fate.
VATICAN CITY -- The problem of abuse by clergy is solved more by a spirit of penitence and conversion by its members than by a radical change of church structures, Pope Benedict XVI said.
He made his comments Sept. 8 during his weekly general audience at the Vatican's Paul VI hall.
Media portrayals of retired Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels' meeting with a sex abuse victim, the victim's family and the abuser, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Brugge, Belgium, have not given a complete picture of what transpired, says the lawyer representing Cardinal Danneels.
To counter the misrepresentations in the media, Fernand Keuleneer, Danneels' attorney, issued the following statement Aug. 30:
On Saturday August 28, the Belgian newspaper De Standaard committed a character assassination on Cardinal Godfried Danneels (77), the retired archbishop of Mechelen – Brussels. De Standaard published (a part only of) the transcript of the tapes which had been secretly recorded during a confidential, improvised and failed reconciliation attempt with the Vangheluwe family, which the Cardinal acquiesced to undertake on April 8, 2010, De Standaard put certain paragraphs in red and moreover added extremely biased commentary.
BERLIN -- Officials and employees of Germany's Roman Catholic Church will be required to immediately report suspicions of child abuse to the police under new guidelines set to go into effect on Wednesday (Sept. 1), the German Bishops Conference announced.
The new guidelines are in response to a wave of scandal that washed over the church in the winter, as dozens of decades-old accusations of physical and sexual abuse of children came to light.
WASHINGTON -- A brief notice in bold on its Web page for grants says it all: “The Catholic Biblical Association sincerely regrets that, owing to financial restraints beyond its control, it has to suspend any new grants as of now. We hope in the near future to reinstate these grants, which are an important part of our work.”
DAVENPORT, Iowa (CNS) -- Boosting morale in a diocese deeply wounded because of the abuse of children by some clergy in past decades, Catholics in the Davenport Diocese pledged $22 million in a capital campaign that succeeded despite the worst economic conditions in decades.
The campaign was the first in more than 20 years for the diocese and came at a time of rebuilding following bankruptcy.
BRUSSELS, BELGIUM -- Audio recordings leaked to the Belgian media this weekend reveal Belgium's Cardinal Godfried Danneels urging a sex abuse victim not to make public that his abuser was his uncle Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium. The recordings show Danneels pressuring the young man not to force Vangheluwe to resign.
Vangheluwe eventually did resign April 23. He had served as bishop of Bruges for more than 25 years and was 73 years old.
A spokesman for Danneels told NCR that the cardinal did not comment about his meeting with the nephew and Vangheluwe, during an earlier press conference, because "he assumed that it was a confidential conversation to be kept within the family."
The spokesman said that Danneels "acted out of concern for the anonymity of the victim and now regrets that the conversation he considered confidential has been made public."
Jesuit Fr. William J. Byron is a university professor of business and society at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia. He was president of The Catholic University of America from 1982-92. His book Next-Generation Leadership will be published in the fall. NCR contributor Tom Gallagher spoke with Byron about “servant leadership” as the optimal model of leadership for the church.
CHICAGO -- When little Stevie Theisen was in the fourth grade in Dubuque, Iowa, classmates used to tease that he was “teacher’s pet.” If they only knew.
While he was staying after school to clean the blackboard and help “Sister,” she was taking advantage of her 9-year-old student, Theisen says.