In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley, who identifies himself as Catholic, weighed in on the recent controversy regarding contraception coverage.
The flurry of response to the Obama Administration's ruling that Catholic institutions must cover the cost of contraceptives has emphasized the political tensions underlying the conflict but neglects the strains created within the church itself.
Two consequences especially seem evident, if not immediately then in the months and years come.
They both stem from the failure of the birth control encyclical to persuade American Catholics that the prohibition made sense, in part because it left them, the ones most involved with the issue, out of the decision.
Has the Vatican been nursing a resentment against American Catholics ever since? I think much evidence suggests this is so. But under the prevailing customs of creeping infallibilism, the encyclical cannot be declared flawed or in need of reconsideration.
ROME -- One of America’s leading experts on the Catholic abuse crisis effectively told church leaders from different parts of the world today that if they think sexual abuse is not a problem in their neighborhood, they’re kidding themselves.
“Church leaders around the world began by saying, ‘This is only an American problem’,” Monsignor Stephen Rossetti told a Vatican symposium this morning. “Then, as more cases surfaced in other countries, they said, ‘This is an English speaking problem.’ Then, as the circle of abuse cases widened, they expanded it to: ‘This is a Western problem.’ The boundaries were pushed back farther and farther.”
“Each time, church leaders said, in effect, ‘It doesn’t happen here’,” Rossetti said.
Rossetti, former director of the St. Luke’s Institute in Silver Spring, Maryland, which treats abuser priests, has written widely on the crisis. He said that in reality, all the available data, based on studies by secular experts, concur that child abuse occurs at the same high rates across the various continents.
New controls on bishops ‘a step that may have to be taken’
ROME -- Bishop Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Illinois, is the chair of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People. He’s attending the four-day “Towards Healing and Renewal” symposium as the official delegate of the U.S. bishops, and this morning he sat down with an exclusive interview with NCR.
The following is a transcript of the interview.
* * *
This morning you heard an Irish victim, Marie Collins, describe how her experiences of not being taken seriously led to what she called a “final death of respect” for church authorities. Can you understand that reaction?
tOh, I can certainly understand that reaction. I’ve not been a victim, so I can’t place myself in her position, but anybody who has been hurt and then not listened to is going to experience further hurt.
Are you confident that someone who comes forward today will be received differently?
John Allen in Rome -- Vatican abuse summit: Victim reports ‘death of respect' for church leaders
Rome -- Catholic Leaders Convene to Discuss Abuse Prevention from NYT
Rome -- Rome conference on clerical abuse response from RTE.ie
Victim calls summit a sign of hope
ROME -- An Irish victim of sexual abuse bluntly told a Vatican summit this morning that her experience of being ignored, and her suffering minimized, by church leaders caused “the final death of any respect” she once felt for ecclesial authority.
tMarie Collins said there must be “acknowledgement and accountability for the harm and destruction that has been done to the life of victims and their families” before she and other victims can regain trust in the leadership of the Catholic church.
tCollins made the remarks at a four-day summit on the sexual abuse crisis titled “Towards Healing and Renewal” being held at the Jesuit-run Gregorian University.
In remarks to the press after her talk, Collins expressed hope that the symposium suggests the church is moving in the right direction.
"I am very hopeful about this conference. I think the fact that it is taking place here in Rome with the backing of the Vatican and the pope is a sign that the church is taking this issue very seriously and wants a global response," she said.
Belleville, Ill., Bishop Edward Braxton has accepted the resignation of a diocesan priest who has refused to strictly follow the translation of the Roman missal while celebrating Mass.
Fr. Bill Rowe, 72, told NCR he has for about 20 years regularly added his personal reflections to the prayers or inserted appropriate comments elsewhere in the liturgy.
"It's the only way I can pray honestly," he said. "I can't change that."
Rowe said his improvisational approach to the Mass is not directly related to the new English missal, "though I certainly don't like the translation." But there is an indirect link, since the English-speaking bishops have been mandated to require the new translation throughout their dioceses. Last summer, Braxton made it clear to the priests that he would tolerate no deviation from full compliance. And in October, he told Rowe he was no exception. Rowe said he offered his resignation at that time but heard nothing further from the bishop until Wednesday, when he received a letter notifying him that his resignation had been accepted.
Every week, every day, we get new reports of deaths, killings, shootings, military repression, attacks on innocent civilians and other horrors in Syria. It is estimated that more than 5,000 people were killed in the last few months, and there's no end in sight of the repression of the Syrian government.
I just watched a CNN broadcast that featured a young Syrian opponent of the regime broadcasting through Skype that in one Syrian city, about 200 people were killed by army artillery and tank fire on Friday alone. With much emotion, the young Syrian told Anderson Cooper, "People are dying and the U.N. and others are doing nothing!"
He's right. Yes, there are some sanctions, but they do not seem to be effective. The U.N. Security Council is discussing a resolution asking for President Bashar al-Assad to step down. But no resolution, even assuming if it passed, is going to result in such resignation.
SNAP blasts event as ‘cheap window dressing’
ROME -- Conceding that church officials in various parts of the world often adopted tough policies to fight child abuse only in response to negative media coverage, the Vatican’s top doctrinal official today called for a “more proactive” approach.
In part, that's likely a reference to the fact that while the sexual abuse crisis has already exploded in North America and parts of Europe, it has not yet really arrived elsewhere, including much of the developing world -- where two-thirds of all Catholics today live.
tAmong other points, American Cardinal William Levada stressed that the sexual abuse of minors is not merely a crime under church law, but also under civil law, and that the church is therefore obliged to report “such crimes to the appropriate authorities.”
tLevada spoke this evening to a summit conference on sexual abuse hosted by the Jesuit-run Gregorian University in Rome, and co-sponsored by several Vatican departments. The four-day event is titled “Toward Healing and Renewal.”
For those who despair that the American political scene is irredeemably polarized, here is a small, intriguing tale of hope. Occupy Worcester in Massachusetts and the Worcester Tea Party have found a common cause in opposing the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). On Friday, the two groups demonstrated in the city's federal building as part of a national day of protest against the act, which passed Dec. 31, 2011.
The Occupiers and Tea Partiers rightly fear the NDAA marks yet another erosion of our civil liberties. The bill allows for the use of military detention and military trial for any person -- U.S. citizen or foreigner -- suspected of terrorism.
Writing for the political newsletter Counterpunch, military veteran Brian Trautman called the bill "one of the greatest threats to civil liberties in our nation's history":