Rome -- In what’s already a turbulent time, Pope Benedict XVI has triggered another Vatican earthquake, changing the guard in three senior leadership positions. Among those exiting the scene is the Catholic church’s most prominent ecumenical leader over the past decade, while the new arrivals complete the ascent of personal friends and theological protégés of the pontiff to the Vatican’s top positions.
In the abstract, one might not think of Archbishops Thomas Wenski of Miami, Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati, and Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee as a natural threesome. Yet fate thrust these prelates together today, as the three Americans among 38 newly appointed archbishops from around the Catholic world who are in Rome to receive the pallium.
Daniel Donohue doesn't know when the call will come.
He could be anywhere -- at the supermarket, poolside with his four children, or in a classroom studying social work -- when he learns the fate of the priest he says molested him as a teenager.
Donohue testified against the priest at a church tribunal in 2006 and again 2007. Since then, he has heard almost nothing about his case from the Archdiocese of New York or the Vatican.
"There is nothing I can do, no one I can talk to, no information forthcoming," said Donohue, who now lives in Portland, Ore. The priest and his family likely live under the same cloud of unknowingness, Donohue notes.
Like other sex abuse cases moving through Catholic Church's canon law system, Donohue's is veiled by "pontifical secrecy," a little-known policy that is gaining new prominence as the church weathers another wave of cover-up accusations.
Participants in church sex abuse trials are bound by oath not to divulge details about the proceedings, or at what stage the case is; not even victims and accused priests are kept apprised.
Where people stand often determines what they see, so perspective is critical in framing any question. Take secularism, for instance: It may be the bogeyman of the Catholic imagination across Europe and the United States, but for Christians in the Middle East, it’s more like a survival strategy.
Throughout his five-year pontificate, Pope Benedict XVI has made some of his most interesting comments off the cuff, often during question-and-answer sessions with priests.
His late-night meeting with 10,000 priests June 10 was a good example. Although questions were prepared in advance, the pope's responses were unfiltered and impromptu -- the kind of "organized spontaneity" for which his mind is apparently hard-wired.
Archbishop Dominique Mamberti, the Vatican's foreign minister, concluded an official and pastoral visit to Cuba June 20 saying relations between the Catholic Church and the Cuban government are on a healthy course.
Just hours before his departure, the archbishop met with President Raul Castro, saying afterward that bilateral relations are "cordial, continuing and on the rise."
An official release to various Cuban state-run news media reported on the meeting and said the president and the Vatican diplomat also discussed subjects of common interest on the international agenda.
"The visit of (Archbishop) Mamberti also showed the favorable development of relations between the state and the Catholic Church in Cuba," the government's note said.
The Vatican diplomat spent several days on the island, marking 75 years of diplomatic relations between the Vatican and Cuba and participating in a national conference on the church's social teachings.
A lawsuit against the Legionaries of Christ and the estate of Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado was filed today on behalf of Raul Gonzalez, Maciel’s son who claims he endured years of abuse by his father. The suit was filed by attorney Joel T. Faxon of Connecticut in Superior Court of New Haven, in association with attorney Jeff Anderson of Minnesota.
Anderson has scheduled a press conference to be web-streamed at his office in St. Paul, with the plaintiff Raul Gonzalez, later this morning.
The 12-count complaint, alleging negligence and sexual battery, seeks monetary and punitive damages "in excess of $15,000" -- a common legal term. When he died in 2008, "all of Father Maciel's assets were taken by the Legionaries of Christ as the Legionaries required Maciel to give all of his possessions to the Legionaries," the lawsuit alleges.
The lawsuit makes no reference to where Maciel's will or estate is located. It says the religious order "knew or should have known that Maciel had a child, that he was using Legionaries’ funds to support Raul and his family, and that Maciel was misrepresenting himself to his son."
Born in Mexico in 1980, Raul Gonzalez is a sturdy six-foot-one, with dark, close-cropped hair. He has a fair command of English, but faltered occasionally, searching for words, and at one point broke down and wept in describing the sexual abuse he endured, in childhood and adolescence, by his father, the late Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of an international religious order, the Legionaries of Christ.
Raul Gonzalez gave his account in a May 7 interview with NCR. A lawsuit scheduled to be filed today in Connecticut against the Legion of Christ alleges that the order facilitated Maciel's abuse of his son, adding a new chapter in a saga of deception and depravity, two years after the death of Maciel, who for decades wielded enormous influence in Vatican circles as a favorite of the late Pope John Paul II.
BREAKING NEWS: Maciel suit filed in New Haven, Conn. June 21.
It is hard to believe that someone as theologically sophisticated as Pope Benedict would resort to blaming the devil for the church’s present problems, but his allusion to “the enemy” in a speech given to a large group of priests last week (where he bemoaned and apologized again for the sins of some of the clergy) leaves one puzzled to say the least.
WASHINGTON -- Pope Benedict XVI figured in more than half of all of the stories published in print or carried by broadcast news earlier this year regarding the clergy sexual abuse scandal, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.
Unlike the 2002 spate of coverage on clergy sex abuse, which had its epicenter in the Archdiocese of Boston, coverage in the six weeks during March and April examined by the study was greater in Europe than in the United States, as newspaper and broadcast stories focused principally on incidents in Ireland and the pope's native Germany.