National Catholic Reporter

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Accountability

Fraternity of the disgraced keeps growing

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Analysis

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.

Cardinal's lawyer gives context to leaked tapes

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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:

About Cardinal Danneels' failed attempt at reconciliation within the Vangheluwe family

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.

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.

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