National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

German bishops release sex abuse guidelines

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.

Catholic Biblical Association no longer accepting grant requests

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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.”

After bankruptcy, Iowa diocese raises $22 million

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.

Belgium cardinal tried to keep abuse victim quiet

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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."

Church can learn a lot from 'servant leadership'

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Mission Management

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.

A few in the hierarchy show honesty, courage

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Most Catholics in the United States and other Western countries now affected by the priest sex abuse scandal understand that in any other organization so deeply damaged by what one archbishop has termed “spectacularly wrong” handling of the problem, heads would have long ago rolled and a serious search for the causes of the tragedy would be well underway.

Roots of scandal 'go deep and wide'

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Following are excerpts from the pastoral letter “Seeing the Faces, Hearing the Voices: A Pentecost Letter on Sexual Abuse of the Young in the Catholic Church” by Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Canberra and Goulburn, Australia. The full text can be found at www.cg.catholic.org.au/about/default.cfm?loadref=86.

Here I mention briefly several factors which, in my view, may have combined to make the problem cultural rather than merely personal, at least in the Australian situation. ...

Police raid on Belgian church called unlawful

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BRUSSELS, BELGIUM — In two surprise moves Aug. 13, the Brussels attorney general’s office declared that the June 24 police raid on the offices of the Catholic archbishop in Mechelen were unlawful and that any evidence that may have been unearthed during the raid is inadmissible in court. The same day, the Brussels court of prosecution issued a judgment that all confiscated documents and computers had to be returned.

The attorney general's declaration and decision of the court were made public not by the court but by Fernand Keuleneer, a lawyer representing the Archdiocese of Brussels-Mechelen and Cardinal Godfried Danneels, the retired archbishop.

However, the court of prosecution also ruled that investigations into allegations of the sexual abuse of children by clergy could continue for cases that came to light after police seized documents and computers in June.

Some bishops questioning clerical culture

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Analysis

In statements, speeches, interviews and at least one pastoral letter, bishops in various parts of the world have begun raising provocative questions about whether something intrinsic to the Roman Catholic church -- perhaps its clerical culture, its manner of governance, its exercise of authority, or a combination of such elements -- has either caused or abetted the priest sex abuse tragedy.

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July 18-31, 2014

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