WASHINGTON -- When Frank Keating, then the Republican governor of Oklahoma, agreed in 2002 to serve as the first chair of the board established by the U.S. bishops to investigate clergy sex abuse, he was admittedly naive. “I couldn’t imagine that something like this could happen,” Keating told 200-plus attendees of the 21st annual gathering of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) on Aug. 8.
DAVENPORT, Iowa -- St. Ambrose University is the new owner of 58 acres of property that includes the Diocese of Davenport headquarters.
The school's officials finalized the $3.35 million purchase of the St. Vincent property July 31, said Mike Poster, vice president of finance at the diocesan university.
The new ownership comes after St. Ambrose negotiated a financial agreement with the trustee handling the U.S. Bankruptcy Court's liquidation of diocesan assets. The court received the deed for the property as part of a $37 million settlement the diocese reached last year with its creditors, most of whom are survivors of clergy sexual abuse.
The season of bankruptcies -- think GM, AIG, Chrysler -- is upon us. And the health care industry is not exempt.
For Catholic hospitals in New York City, bankruptcy arrived in 2005 when the flagship St. Vincent Catholic Medical Centers took the dramatic step. It could have been worse: All the other church-affiliated, acute care hospitals in the city bypassed bankruptcy and headed straight to closure. In 2007 there were eight Catholic acute care hospitals and by the end of 2008 only St. Vincent’s survived.
It is likely that when the U.S. Supreme Court begins its new session in October, it will ignore the appeal brought by of the Bridgeport, Conn., diocese, which then will be forced to release thousands of documents relating to more than 20 suits against seven priests accused of sex abuse. The cases were settled in 2001 and the documents were sealed at that time.
CHICAGO -- The Chicago archdiocese announced July 21 that it had reached settlements totaling $3.9 million in cases of six survivors of clergy sex abuse.
The last time the U.S. Catholic bishops were fully united in their approach to the nation's secular political leadership was the early 19th century, when Baltimore Archbishop John Carroll had only to consult his mirror to develop the unanimous view of the American episcopacy.
Today, with cardinals, archbishops, bishops and auxiliary bishops representing more than 190 dioceses around the country, some general consensus on matters of both principle and strategy is considerably more difficult to achieve. But it is as important, perhaps more so than ever.
Voice of the Faithful, the reform and advocacy group that emerged in 2002 in the wake of the clerical sex abuse revelations in Boston, has announced that it may be forced to close its national offices unless it receives a quick infusion of cash.
In an e-mail sent to members and media representatives, the organization said it was “at the crossroads of financial survival” and is looking to raise at least $60,000 by the end of July in order to continue operations. The amount represents two months of operating expenses, said Bill Casey, chairman of the board of directors.
The organization blames its financial crisis on the larger financial downturn. “As we know all too well … that downturn has rippled into communities and households, confirming worst expectations and fears.”
In a July 14 phone interview, Casey said that about $10,000 had been donated since the announcement went out the day before. “But I don’t think we’re going to know until maybe later this week how realistic it is to raise the $60,000.”
BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- Bishop William E. Lori of Bridgeport praised the Connecticut attorney general June 30 for his opinion urging state ethics officials to stop investigating whether the diocese violated state lobbying laws with its efforts to rally Catholics against legislation that would have given laypeople financial control of their parishes.
Responding to comments by Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo, the archbishop of Asuncion said the Catholic Church has no reason to reconsider the church discipline of celibacy for Latin-rite priests. Archbishop Eustaquio Cuquejo Verga told the Paraguayan newspaper La Nacion, "Celibacy is celibacy" and that, as a former bishop, Lugo "is aware of the rules of the Catholic Church." In an interview published June 11 in Chile's El Mercurio newspaper, Lugo said the church should rethink its stance on celibacy.
The president's administration was rocked in April by revelations that he had fathered a child after he had resigned as bishop, but before being laicized by the Vatican, while he was running for the presidency. Lugo legally recognized the boy, who is now 2 years old. Two other women also claimed Lugo had fathered children with them, although he has called the claims "allegations." After spending Father's Day with the child June 21, he said the boy was his "only son."
NEW ORLEANS -- The Archdiocese of New Orleans said it is seeking federal permission to redirect federal storm compensation money all over the metro area, not just the city's urban core that was hard-hit by Hurricane Katrina.
The disclosure comes after Catholic parishioners in two relatively poor, hard-hit areas of New Orleans were shocked to learn from the government, not the church, that the archdiocese had sought permission to divert almost $11 million in compensation from their wrecked schools to school construction in two suburban parishes.