‘Guided by the Holy Spirit we must come together and find new inclusive governance structures to replace the old patriarchal model, which has broken down’, writes Colm Holmes.
SENIOR CATHOLIC BISHOPS from all over the world gather in Rome this week for a four-day summit on clerical sexual abuse, which some say is the most serious crisis in the church since the Reformation.
Child sexual abuse will rightly top of the agenda, but it’s also just this month that Pope Francis admitted that Catholic priests and bishops have sexually abused nuns. Pope Francis said: “I think it is still going on, because it’s not something that just goes away like that.” And Pope Francis said this was a cultural problem, the roots of which lie in “seeing women as second class.”
That is a very honest admission by Pope Francis that women are seen as second class. That is the way it had been for many centuries. Women were there to raise children; the men were in charge. But that has changed dramatically in the last 100 years, with women getting the vote and every role becoming open to women – except of course in the Catholic Church.
All Nice things were said about the responsibility to victims – listen, take on the journey and responsibility to respond.
We tried to provide listening to victims, heard the cry of young, have guidelines to stimulate discussions which include financial responsibility, relationship between Bishops and Superiors of Religious Congregations, ensuring health community life of priests, etc.
Pope gave a short speech he emphasized listening, Spirit of solidarity and what he expects to happen, a conversion and purification. We need to obtain concrete results. He has prepared a handout of 21 points which will be made into a booklet. Collaboration with all people of goodwill. He will raise marriage age (and change Canon Law), from 14 to 16 (is this progress??? Which century are we living in??)
The intentions of pope John XXIII, of Schillebeekx and our bishops in 1962/65 with Vaticum II have been supported by millions in the Netherlands. Stalemate in the application of decisions made more than 10.000 people gather on a protest meeting in the Hague. It didn’t help. Neither did and do thousands of press release and letters sent since. Now members of Marienburg, the Dutch union of critically Catholics have discovered that the structural church is almost dead and unable to answer questions. Christians themselves have to go for the core of their faith in home celebrations, listening to the grass roots in vision dialogues and organizing folk synods. An ecumenical synod in the Netherlands will be organized as soon as more than 200 of such dialogues have been registered or the stories of more than 1000 people have been heard. This might be spring 2021 or earlier if in time the result of similar efforts in more countries would be available. A guide has been translated into English www.dialogue-in-sixes.click
Says this is the “Final Opportunity” for Church Leaders to Correct Failings
[ Italian ]
1 February 2019. In advance of the 21-24 February 2019 meeting Pope Francis has called with leaders of all of the national bishops’ conferences from around the world, We Are Church International stresses the need for the Vatican to take decisive, consistent, and clear action that prioritizes the needs of clerical sexual abuse victims over protection of the institution.
“This summit is the final opportunity that Catholic leaders have to show the Church, the world, and, most importantly, victims of clerical sexual abuse that they take this issue seriously and are ready to undertake real reform,” stated Colm Holmes of Dublin, Ireland, Chair of We Are Church International. “People who suffered abuse at the hands of priests, who saw their abusers protected by church officials, and whose repeated calls for justice have been ignored for too long have been speaking out for more than four decades. It is long past time for their needs to be our Church’s clear priority.”
Christian Lauer’s final handwritten advice for WAC written near midnight on 26 January 2019:
We need topics that inspire people and inspire us. Subjects to which people say, I join in, I can do something about this in society and / or church. Topics where there is not the danger that they will be marked by resignation. The possible subjects / topics I can’t specify now, they should be decided on the basis of tactics.
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The longtime very active leading member of We Are Church (Germany) and our IT specialist died on January 29, 2019. At the strategy meeting of the We Are Church teams from Germany and Austria from 23 to 25 January 2019 in Hofheim, Christian Lauer, despite his long and serious illness, was still actively involved with his competence and passion. But only four days later he could no longer resist influenza.
We are very shaken that Christian's life came to an end so quickly. He had fought so hard and so long for his life and for We Are Church. We are very, very much obliged to him in many ways. For 20 years, he has done all the more extensive computer tasks of We Are Church in Germany all alone with great expertise. For the last ten years he has been the first chairman to guide the organization of We Are Church (DE). Above all, he has always been wholeheartedly committed to a church that truly follows in the footsteps of Jesus. He stays in our midst.
We Are Church Germany
Ante los casos de abusos sexuales en la Iglesia y en la urgencia de reaccionar como creyentes a este gravísimo problema, queremos contribuir con nuestra reflexión a las decisiones que se puedan tomar próximamente por el Papa y los presidentes de las conferencias episcopales reunidos con él.
Que un sacerdote, o miembro de una congregación religiosa, abuse de un niño o un adolescente, utilizando la autoridad moral que ejerce sobre la persona víctima, es algo que rompe los esquemas de cualquiera. Si además se añade el encubrimiento practicado durante décadas por la jerarquía de la Iglesia, poniendo por delante a la institución sin reparar en el daño, con secuelas de por vida, que se estaba haciendo a personas inocentes, nos encontramos con un escándalo de proporciones mayúsculas y una multiplicación del número de personas abusadas en un ambiente de mentira, hipocresía y silenciamiento.
APORTA, INFORMA Y DIFUNDE:
MOVIMIENTO TAMBIÉN SOMOS IGLESIA - CHILE (MTSICH)
Miembro de Red Nacional de Laicas y Laicos de Chile
Con la participación de más de 350 personas de la iglesia católica, pertenecientes a diferentes instancias y redes de todo el país, se realizó en Santiago, la primera asamblea del llamado Sínodo Laical de Chile.
[ English ]
L’universo cristiano in questi giorni è stato profondamente colpito dalla rottura, che sembra definitiva, in seno alla Chiesa ortodossa. Questo fatto, praticamente ignorato dai media d’opinione, avrà effetti di lunga durata. Le pesanti conseguenze saranno sopportate soprattutto dai cristiani che appartengono a Chiese che sono uscite solo negli ultimi tempi da lunghi decenni di persecuzione e di emarginazione e che avrebbero avuto bisogno di una fase di completa libertà e tranquillità per organizzare nel modo migliore l’evangelizzazione e la vita comunitaria.
[ English ]
Sinodo dei giovani: opinioni abbastanza positive di Noi Siamo Chiesa
Il Sinodo dei vescovi sui giovani aveva di fronte un compito particolarmente difficile per vari motivi. Anzitutto per la sua scarsa rappresentatività, come abbiamo detto più volte. Prelati anziani, maschi e celibi insieme a pochi giovani esterni e a poche donne, per di più questi ultimi con lo status di chi non poteva votare. E poi l’argomento era costituito da una categoria molto sociologica, quella dei giovani appunto, distribuita sulla generalità dell’umanità e che dava occasione e pretesto per parlare di tutto, da problematiche di tipo psicologico o sociale, a questioni più direttamente di Chiesa, fino alle linee di tendenza della convivenza umana verso il futuro. Era giusto invocare lo Spirito Santo davanti a un tale compito!
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„Unumgänglicher Lernprozess in Rom, notwendige konkrete Umsetzungen vor Ort“
Erste Stellungnahme von Wir sind Kirche zum Abschluss der Jugend-Bischofssynode in Rom
Pressemitteilung München / Rom, 28. Oktober 2018 (16:30 Uhr aktualisiert)
Die KirchenVolksBewegung Wir sind Kirche sieht die heute in Rom zu Ende gegangene 15. Vollversammlung der Bischofssynode als unumgänglichen Lernprozess der Bischöfe. Sie schulden der heutigen Jugend ein sie ebenso ansprechendes wie herausforderndes Angebot der Botschaft Jesu. Das Gelingen dieses Miteinanders wird auch maßgeblich über die Zukunft der Kirche entscheiden.
Trotz der fehlenden Stimmmöglichkeiten haben die 49 meist noch jüngeren Auditores diese Synode inhaltlich und atmosphärisch stark prägen können. Der Brief der jungen Mitglieder der Synode an Papst Franziskus zeigt deren große Bereitschaft, den notwendigen grundlegenden Reformkurs mit aller Kraft zu unterstützen. Die im geschützten Raum der Synode geführten Debatten müssen jetzt in der Weltkirche in aller Freiheit fortgeführt werden.
Wir sind Kirche ermutigt die jungen Menschen und alle kirchlichen Gremien, das vor Ort einzufordern und umzusetzen, was in der Bischofssynode beraten wurde.Denn am Ende werden junge Menschen die Kirche nicht an wohlgesetzten Worten, sondern an konkreten Antworten auf die in Rom zur Sprache gekommenen drängenden Herausforderungen beurteilen. Dazu gehören neben Migration, Digitalisierung, Gerechtigkeit und der Bewahrung der Schöpfung auch die gleichberechtigte Stellung von Mann und Frau, die Anerkennung homosexueller Menschen und Partnerschaften sowie eine wirksame Bekämpfung sexualisierter Gewalt innerhalb und außerhalb der Kirche. Wichtig und notwendig ist aber darüber hinaus auch eine grundlegende Reform der tradierten Theologie und Bibelauslegung, sowie eine Anpassung der Liturgie an das Denken und Fühlen junger Menschen heute.
Enttäuschend ist, dass das Schlussdokument kein klares Schuldeingeständnis für die jahrzehntelange Vertuschung von Missbrauch durch katholische Geistliche enthält. Die Auseinandersetzung um die Verwendung des Begriffs LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual und Transgender) im „Instrumentum laboris“, dem Arbeitspapier der Synode, hat allerdings die großen kulturellen Diversitäten innerhalb der römisch-katholischen Weltkirche gezeigt, die nur durch eine Weiterentwicklung der gängigen, auf ganz anderen Voraussetzungen und Lebensgewohnheiten basierenden Lehre zu überwinden sein werden.
Die Tatsache, dass alle 167 Abschnitte die erforderliche Zweidrittel-Mehrheit erhielten, kann als Erfolg des synodalen Prozesses gesehen werden, der bereits mit der weltweiten Befragung und der Vorsynode im März 2018 begonnen hat und jetzt unbedingt weiter zu führen ist. Wohl zum ersten Mal traten Papst und Bischöfe bei dieser Synode nicht nur als Verkünder von Botschaften, sondern als Zuhörende auf. Grundsätzlich zu begrüßen ist die Weitung des Begriffs der Berufung, der sich jetzt nicht mehr nur auf Priester und Ordensleute bezieht.
Wir sind Kirche unterstützt das jüngste Votum der deutschsprachigen Ordens-Leiterinnen, die nicht nur das Stimmrecht bei Bischofssynoden, sondern die Zulassung zu allen kirchlichen Ämtern und Diensten für Frauen fordern (> katholisch.de 25.10.2018).
Zuletzt geändert am 28.10.2018
Message from Colm Holmes, Chair of We Are Church International
This is certainly a time of turmoil in our hierarchical church with cardinals and bishops openly attacking Pope Francis and each other.
I am writing to invite you to consider taking part in a worldwide campaign leading up to the meeting of Pope Francis and the Heads of Bishops Conferences in Rome in February 2019.
Your WAC Co-ordinating team has agreed that WAC International join US Reform Groups campaign “Time’s Up: Catholics Demand Truth”
A large number of U.S. Reform Groups (including DignityUSA; Call To Action; WOC; FutureChurch) launched this campaign in September 2018. They are organizing prayer vigils on the first Sunday of November, December, January and February – leading up to the February 2019 meeting in Rome of all the Heads of Bishop’s Conferences. The call for truth covers 4 main areas (see Appendix 1 below for full details):
i. Survivor Justice and Civil Recourse
ii. Church Transparency and Accountability
iii. Patriarchy Dismantled in all its forms
iv. Clericalism Dismantled in all its forms
You will find more details at this website http://catholictoo.org/.
[ Italian ]
We Are Church International (WAC) and European Network Church on the Move (EN) strongly oppose the canonization of Pope Paul VI, and the recent trend to quickly canonize many who serve as Popes. The rush to canonize Popes soon after their death which began late in the twentieth century contrasts strongly with prior Catholic tradition, which wisely allowed the passage of decades or even centuries to reveal both the personal character and impact of the papacy of each individual who served in that position. It also seems to be creating an idolatry of the papacy, again in violation of Catholic tradition and values. Many of our colleagues from other Christian denominations note that the trend also frustrates efforts to increase ecumenical collegiality. This concern must be taken seriously.
Considering these concerns, WAC and EN call for a reexamination of the entire process of canonization. We believe that the process must be conducted with transparency, that Popes should not be considered for sainthood until at least 100 years following their deaths, and that every member of the Church should have the opportunity to voice their support for or concerns about any candidate for sainthood.
On the specific case of Pope Paul VI, WAC and EN believe that his early work advocating for peace, increasing globalization, expanding interfaith collaboration, making liturgy more engaging of the laity, and raising up the voices of members of the church in Latin America must be balanced with the centralization of Vatican power, the damage done to the church by his promulgation of Humanae Vitae, and his insistence on obedience to ecclesial authority. It will take more time, we believe, for the church to understand whether his papacy advanced the Gospel agenda in our church and our world. In addition, the church must be able to consider archival records and testimonials that address his personal characteristics and determine if he truly embodies the qualities that deserve to be honored by the bestowal of sainthood.
We Are Church International (WAC) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.
The European Network Church on the Move (EN-RE) is a spontaneous convergence of organizations – associations, communities, informal groups and networks – of European Christians who are in majority Catholic, sharing
(1) the vision of a Church prophetic, ecumenical, liberating, supporting, loving, which neither excludes nor discriminates and which follows on the steps of Jesus the liberator
(2) the will to work, respecting cultural and religious diversity, for peace, justice, freedom, human rights and democracy, including in the Catholic Church (Cf Declaration of rights and freedoms in the Catholic Church, European Network 1994)
Thursday morning I had the opportunity to participate at an event with Marco Politi in the Facolta Valdese (in which we had held a Shadow Synod in 2001). His analysis: All the resistance against Pope Francis and Vigano’s demand that Francis should resign is meant to influence the election at the next conclave. Many high church officials don’t agree with the anticlerical and social policy course of Francis. T the errors of Francis in Chile and with Cardinal McCarrick suit them very well. This in short is Politi’s very clear and fact-based analysis. And now unfortunately, the support for reform (75,000 signatures for www.pro-pope-francis.com) is weaker than it was at the We are Church Referendum in 1995, Politi said. In the press room (Sala Stampa) of the Vatican, I happened to meet Luigi Sandri from Rome, whom we all known since the international events of We Are Church in Rome in 1996.
At 1.30 pm I attended the Vatican’s press conference, in which, of course, yesterday's opening day of the synod was described very positively. The participants have to get adjusted to the "Synod" method: Protected discussion in the Synod's Hall - open communication to the outside world. On page www.vaticannews.va/en.html you can watch the daily press briefings and you will more information about the Synod. The young German “auditor” Thomas Andonie is cited "The store needs to be cleaned up". And in the official press release of the German bishops’ Conference, there is a beautiful photo, as Thomas Andonie supports or pushes Cardinal Marx and Bishop Wuebbe: https://www.dbk.de/presse/aktuelles/meldung/bischofssynode-in-rom-hat-arbeit-aufgenommen/detail/
The quite open oral statement of Bishop Johannes Wuebbe in the Synod Hall: https://www.dbk.de/fileadmin/redaktion/diverse_downloads/presse_2018/2018-161a-Wortbeitrag-Synode-Weihbischof-Johannes-Wuebbe.pdf „... konkret in beratenden und entscheidungstragenden Gremien auf Ebene der Pfarrei, des Bistums und der Bischofskonferenz partizipieren ...“
„Wie können wir zudem allen marginalisierten jungen Menschen eine Stimme in unserer Kirche geben, nicht zuletzt auch denen, die Opfer von sexuellem Missbrauch und sexualisierter Gewalt in unserer Kirche wurden? Das geht nur, wenn wir unsere kirchlichen Strukturen, unsere Arbeits- und Verfahrensweisen, ja unsere Sprache insgesamt ganz von diesen Schwachen her neu denken.
At 3 pm I visited the event by Womens’ Ordination Worldwide "Discerning Women: Voices Outside the Synod" in a nearby church hall. Four impressive statements: Paola Lazzarini (on the "Donne Per La Chiesa" statement even published in the Osservatore Romano), Zuzanna Radzik (on the progressiing secularization in Poland), Jacqueline Straub (on her own vocation to the priesthood), Jamie Manson, USA (reflecting on the different echo of the Church to the women's demand for ordination and to sexual violence). For Friday morning I have been admitted to the morning prayer in the Synod Hall. At 9:30 am I will to go to Mass with Cardinal Marx in the chapel of the Gregoriana. At 1 pm there is the daily press briefing in the Sala Stampa. And afterwards it will have to rush to the airport. I hope I will be able to come back to Rome for the end of the Synod.
Saluti di Roma
C h r i s t i a n W e i s n e r
WE ARE CHURCH INTERNATIONAL
Excellent report of 4 October events also on FutureChurch Blog
Wednesday, October 3, 2018, the Synod of Bishops was opened. At 10 o'clock Pope Francis presided the opening service on St Peter’s Square. The bright weather let forget for a moment the dark shadow that is above the upcoming Synod and it was not directly addressed (if I understood correctly). But the "Synod of Bishops can’t and should not ignore sexual violence in the church". With this headline I sent a press release in German on behalf von We are Church Germany from Rome (www.wir-sind-kirche.de/?id=128andid_entry=7264). It was immediately quoted by official church websites (www.kath.ch/medienspiegel/bischofssynode-kann-und-darf-sexualisierte-gewalt-in-der-kirche-nicht-ignorieren and www.katholisch.de/aktuelles/aktuelle article / pope-opened-bishop synod) was well cited as well as the protest of WOW at the opening of the Synod. See also: https://twitter.com/arochoju/status/1047484558273339392
At 15 o'clock "Ending Clerical Abuse" held a vigil in front of the Castel Sant'Angelo, which received much attention from the media (but until now is not on the internet). I followed the opening of the Synod at 16:30 on the screen in the press room of the Vatican. The Pope’s address used over and over again the words “Synod” and “Second Vatican Council” and “clericalism”. The Pope's address and photos are now online Please, click EN on this site: http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/de/events/event.dir.html/content/vaticanevents/de/2018/10/3/apertura-sinodo.html
Saluti di Roma
C h r i s t i a n W e i s n e r WE ARE CHURCH GERMANY and WE ARE CHURCH INTERNATIONAL
[Image is Word Cloud from Pope's speech]
One day before the beginning of the Synod of Bishops "Youth, Faith and Vocation", the fairly new international initiative "Ending Clerical Abuse" (ECA) called for action against sexual and spiritual violence in the priest seminaries: www.ecaglobal.org/global-survivors-of-clergy-abuse -Call-for-action-against-abuse-in seminaries.
The press conference of ECA in the Association of Foreign Press in Rome was very well attended. However - We are Church International experienced the same in Rome again and again - the Italian press didn’t show any interest. In Italy, the Catholic Church still is so influential that no one dears to criticize the church.
Saluti di Roma
C h r i s t i a n W e i s n e r
WE ARE CHURCH GERMANY and WE ARE CHURCH INTERNATIONAL
cell/mobile +49-172-518 40 82
Last week Germany was shocked by the publication of a Research Project for the German Bishops’ Conference “Sexual abuse of minors by catholic priests, deacons and male members of orders in the domain of the German Bishops’ Conference” (MHG Study, www.dbk.de/fileadmin/redaktion/diverse_downloads/dossiers_2018/MHG-Study-eng-Endbericht-Zusammenfassung.pdf). This study includes some very clear analysis about clericalism and church structures.
The next shock was the very weak response of the bishops who are not able and willing to agree on a common way to take responsibility and to fight successful sexual abuse in the church.
Monday afternoon I arrived in Rome to observe the Bishops‘ Synod that will start October 3. The Synod is not a "synod of youth," but of bishops to discuss youth and young adults in light of their current realities and the journey of vocational discernment. Bishops from across the world will discuss the subject of “Youth, Faith, and Vocational Discernment”. After all the scandals in the last month I think the Synod will have to include sexual abuse in its agenda.
I will observe the Synod for the Austrian journal KIRCHE IN and I’m accredited by Sala Stampa, the press office of the Vatican,
Tomorrow, Tuesday, there will be a press conference of victims of sexual abuse. Some of them from Italy, Belgium, Poland, and Germany, I met tonight at dinner in a nice Italian restaurant “La Vittorio” very close to the Vatican.
While I’m here in Rome I will try to contact international media to give them information about We are Church.
Saluti di Roma
C h r i s t i a n W e i s n e r WE ARE CHURCH GERMANY and WE ARE CHURCH INTERNATIONAL
Recent statements from Vatican officials, including Pope Francis, that women and lay people should be more fully represented in Church structure are undercut by the announcement of who will have voting authority at the upcoming Synod on Youth, say leaders of We Are Church International, a group in the forefront of global church reform. The list of those with the right to vote includes cardinals, bishops, ordained Vatican officials, priests, and even a few brothers. Women and the young adult lay representatives who are the focus of the Synod are described as “collaborators” and “observers,” and they are specifically banned from voting.
“Once again, the Vatican is demonstrating its total unwillingness to share power and authority with those of us who make up the vast majority of the Catholic church,” said Colm Holmes of Dublin, Ireland, Chair of We Are Church International. “It is a shame that those with the real expertise on the experience, gifts, hopes, and needs of young people are sidelined as observers as decisions that will shape their futures are made. And, of course, women, whom Pope Francis has repeatedly said should have more authority in the church, are excluded from the vote, as well. How long can this institution continue being so deaf to the cries for equality that are coming from every part of the church?”
Background re WMoF: There were two requests from countries to host the WMoF in 2018 in their countries. Neither request was from Ireland. But Pope Francis decided that the 2018 WMoF should be held in Ireland and this was announced at the 2015 WMoF in Philadelphia, the same year that Ireland had voted by Referendum to approve Marriage Equality (62% in favour). In January 2018 WAC Ireland spotted that images of same sex couples had been edited out of the WMoF preparatory Booklet. And shortly afterwards WAC Ireland noted an online video of a Bishop speaking about different family configurations was edited to remove all references to other family configurations. Both WAC Ireland and Global Network for Rainbow Catholics (GNRC) applied for stands at the WMoF. Neither was given a stand and a large number of stands were left empty at WMoF.
Background re Ireland: Ireland for centuries sent missionaries across Europe and around the world to spread the message of Christ. Even as part of the British Empire when our Catholic faith was suppressed it continued to support our population. After we gained independence in 1922 the Catholic Church assumed a central role in providing education, health and social services. Our governments heeded advice freely given by church leaders on many issues. When Pope (now Saint) John Paul ll visited Ireland in 1979 some 1.30 million gathered in the Phoenix Park for his mass. At that time over 80% of Catholics attended mass weekly. In 2018 only some 20% of Catholics attend weekly mass. What led to this huge turnaround? In 1980 artificial contraception was made legal; in 1995 Divorce was introduced; but by far the biggest factor was the disclosure of sexual abuse by priests which was covered up by moving them from parish to parish; the Irish State commissioned 4 judicial reports which in 2011 led to our Taoiseach Enda Kenny stating that “The rape and torture of children had been downplayed or 'managed' to uphold, instead, the primacy of the institution, which are its power, standing and 'reputation'. The Irish embassy to the Vatican was closed later that year. In 2013 a Report on the Magdalene laundries where unwed mothers were separated from their children and provided free labour was published. The reputation of the Catholic Church as trustworthy had collapsed. The majority of young people see it as an outdated institution with no real relevance to their lives. The 2015 Marriage Equality Referendum was followed by the 2018 Referendum to allow abortion in Ireland (66% in favour).
International Background: Pope Francis has struggled with the Clerical Abuse scandal for which he appointed a Pontifical Commission in 2013. Ireland’s Marie Collins (herself a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest as a child) was appointed to that Commission, but resigned after 3 years because of the ongoing obstruction to the work of the Commission in the Vatican. The Royal Commission in Australia in 2017 reported horrific stories of abuse and institutional cover ups. Earlier this year Pope Francis visited Chile where he supported the newly appointed Bishop Barros despite many calls for his removal. Pope Francis on his return did a U-turn and appointed a special investigator which led to all 34 bishops in Chile offering their resignations, 5 of which have been accepted. In June this year US Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was removed from all ministries and he resigned as a Cardinal following abuse of a minor and many seminarians over many years. Then just days before the WMoF was due to start the Pennsylvania grand jury released a 1,356-page report claiming that bishops, priests, and deacons within the Catholic Church in almost every diocese in Pennsylvania covered up child sexual abuse over a period of 70 years. Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Cardinal Donald Wuerl who were both scheduled for key roles at WMoF announced at a few days notice that they would not be travelling to Ireland. The withdrawal of Cardinal O’Malley gave rise to great concern as he has been heading the Pontifical Abuse Commission for over 5 years and his presentations had been eagerly awaited.
“Voices Pope Francis will not hear” organized by the Wijngaards Institute was held in Trinity College Dublin the day before the WMoF opened. The issues addressed included the marginalization of women; the vilification of LGBT Catholics; the ongoing silencing of priests & theologians; the harm caused by the papal ban on contraception; the abuse scandal and the 8th amendment abortion debate. The speakers were Dr Hille Haker; Jamie Manson; Dr Luca Badini; Tony Flannery; Dr Gina Menzies; Dr Siobhán Garrigan.
The launch of EqualFuture2018.com was organized in a pub directly opposite the WMoF so that journalist could easily attend. This website is aimed at young LGBT people and their families & friends to tell their stories ahead of the Youth Synod (October 2018). The website automatically send the stories to the Youth Synod delegates of the relevant country. The launch featured young persons from USA, Mexico, Venezuela and Ireland, as well as an audio link to a young LGBT man in China.
WAC Ireland helped organize a Rainbow Choir outside the WMoF who sang two songs: “Something Inside So Strong” and “We Are Family”. The 18 strong choir (who are all professional singers) wore T-shirts HEAR OUR VOICES and were heavily outnumbered by the huge media presence. The Gardai were very helpful and closed one lane of traffic as the media spilled on to the roadway.
WAC Ireland organized a colourful Welcome for Pope Francis on the Ha’penny Bridge at 10am on 25 August 2018. Together with Women’s Ordination Worldwide (who were holding their annual Steering Committee in Kildare where St Brigid lived) and Dublin Pride we decorated the Ha’penny bridge with Purple Umbrellas (WOMEN PRIESTS); Rainbow Umbrellas & flags in support of justice for LGBT’s and Blue Ribbons in solidarity with the survivors and victims of clerical sex abuse and cover ups. Again large numbers of international media attended to film, photograph and interview the large gathering. We carefully did not block the Ha’Penny Bridge for other users, which had been the main concern of Gardai.
Pope Francis met Leo Varadkar, our Taoiseach (Prime Minister), who in a strong yet respectful speech expressed his hopes for a new chapter in the relationship between Ireland and the Church, one “in which religion is no longer at the centre of our society, but in which it still has an important place.” Varadkar is the son of an Indian Hindu doctor and an Irish nurse, brought up Catholic, openly gay, and at 38 when entering office, the youngest Taoiseach in Irish history. The contrast between the 81 year old Pope Francis and our young, gay leader only half his age for me also marked the contrast between the new Christian Ireland where there is a welcome for all and the clerical church which Pope Francis is trying to reform.
Pope Francis visited Brother Kevin Crowley who runs the Capuchin Day Care Centre in Dublin and is regarded as a living saint.
Pope Francis met with 8 survivors of clerical sex abuse, including Marie Collins. Pope Francis gave a lot of time to each of them to tell their own stories and to ask their own questions. The 8 survivors who met him in Dublin were amazed when he told them he had never heard of the Magdalene Laundries. Marie Collins asked him why he had not followed through on the Independent Tribunal to examine Bishops and Cardinals, which Pope Francis had approved, but the CDF had rejected. Pope Francis said there were existing procedures already in place. Later on his plane back to Rome Pope Francis said Marie Collins was “fixated” about the need for an Independent Tribunal. Marie Collins after the meeting said she despaired at the lack of an Independent Tribunal.
At the Papal Mass in the Phoenix Park only 130,000 attended, despite 500,000 tickets having been issued. That shows a 90% decline on the 1.3 million who attended the mass with Pope John Paul ll in 1979. A sign of hope was that 3 members of the All Are Welcome mass brought the Offertory Gifts up to Pope Francis at the mass. The All Are Welcome Mass is held every 3rd Sunday each month and includes a special welcome for LGBT people, their family and friends.
At the same time as the Papal Mass some 10,000 people gathered at the Garden of Remembrance for the Stand4Truth event in solidarity with the survivors and victims of clerical sex abuse and cover ups. After some speeches and several famous singers all 10,000 marched in silence to the nearby Magdalene Laundry.
Conclusion: Pope Francis has many important issues to deal with. Ireland has been tackling the clerical sex abuse scandal for many years now. There was disappointment that Pope Francis only offered apologies and did not indicate any new procedures in particular to deal with bishops and cardinals. With the Vigano letter and the former Cardinal McCarrick issues Pope Francis could certainly do with an Independent Tribunal to clear his own name and identify the guilty. No CDF tribunal can do that. WAC Ireland has issued a call for an Assembly of the Church in Ireland to propose new Structures for the Catholic Church, which include the people of God in all decision-making. We will also continue our work at grass roots level to build the church we want to see.
1 September 2018
From: Francophone Baptized Catholics Conference, 76 rue de la Verrerie, Paris 75004
31st August 2018,
Dear Very Holy Father,
Following the massive disclosures of a large number of scandals of the Church concerning the sexual abuse of minors by priests, you have addressed a letter to God’s People, in which you condemn clericalism as one of the causes of this evil and you have appealed to the baptized persons to help you resolve the problem. We want to respond to your appeal.
Please visit the website www.EqualFuture2018.com and support Young LGBT people at the Youth Synod
We Are Church is asking all our members and supporters to visit the website www.EqualFuture2018.com and give your support to young LGBT people at the Youth synod.
You do not have to be LGBT yourself to support this global initiative: just tell your personal story about the LGBT people in your life. The stories collected with this global initiative will be forwarded to our delegate bishops who will be representing us at the Youth synod in October 2018.
This initiative was launched during the World Meeting of Families in Dublin, Ireland on 22 August 2018 by Emily Dever, Xorje Olivares, Carlos Velasquez, Tiernan Brady and Ursula Halligan.
We Are Church is supporting this global initiative.
Please share this Call to Action on your websites and social media.
We are Church International, Chair
30 August 2018
We Are Church International joins Catholics and other people around the world in its horror at the revelations in the recently released Grand Jury report on clergy sexual abuse and cover up in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. We express our solidarity with the victims, survivors, and their families in their quest for justice and consolation. We call on the leaders of our Church to ensure that its response to this report is humble acceptance of the Grand Jury’s recommendations, and, at long last, to take the steps needed to demonstrate that they are committed to atoning for the grievous harm that has been done, and to creating more transparent and accountable structures.
Specifically, We Are Church International calls on Catholic leadership to:
- Open all files regarding sexual abuse at the Vatican, national bishops’ conference, and diocesan levels to review bypeople with expertise in analyzing them
- Remove all bishops who reassigned sexually abusivepriests from their leadershippositions and ensure that future bishops have never facilitated abuse
- Immediately cease efforts to block the lengthening or eradication of statutes of limitations on sexual abuse of minors
- Provide payment for counseling and financial compensation to anyone bringing forth any allegation(s) of sexual abuse by church staff that is deemed credible by an independent panel of expert reviewers
- Develop a process of public reconciliation, based on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa, where victims and survivors of abuse can speak out to church leaders
- Ensure that anyone still eligible for criminal prosecution of abuse or obstruction of justice is made available to civil authorities
- Develop panels of laity to review and respond to all complaints of sexual abuse
- Make individual apologies to every victim and affected family
Only by dismantling the systems that facilitated this abuse and cover up for so long will Church officials be able to begin to demonstrate that they are serious about repentance and ensuring that children remain safe and whole.
We Are Church International recommits ourselves to stand with the survivors of clergy sexual abuse, and to working for the justice they so clearly deserve.
We Are Church International (WAC-I) founded in Rome in 1996, is a global coalition of national church reform groups. It is committed to the renewal of the Roman Catholic Church based on the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965) and the theological spirit developed from it.