Category: Archive

Catholics praying for new beginning

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

Bishop Richard Lennon of Boston has been appointed to replace Law. Even as Law returned to the U.S. after tendering his resignation to the pope, a Boston grand jury had subpoenaed him and another former Boston bishop, Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, to answer questions about possible criminal violations by bishops who supervised sexually abusive priests.
It is alleged that Daily, Law and other senior churchmen consistently moved abusive priests to other parishes rather than remove them, and that diocesan money was regularly used to buy the silence of parishioners who alleged sexual abuse.
The Diocese of Boston now faces claims amounting to $100 million from more than 500 accusers, and Cardinal Law recently received permission to file for bankruptcy if the diocese has to pay out large sums in compensation. Boston newspapers alleged that the diocese is in fact worth $1.4 billion.
Replacing Law, Bishop Lennon faces the enormous task of rebuilding the shattered faith of parishioners, many of whom have stopped attending Mass or donating to Church funds.
Said Lennon after leaving Sunday Mass in Boston, “I pledge to do all I can to work toward healing as a church and furthering the mission of Jesus Christ.”
Many observers have said that as the scandal mounted around the world, the Catholic Church is facing its worst crisis in 500 years, since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century.
Indeed, “reformation” is the word on many Catholic lips today, as many priests and laity call increasingly for a root-and-branch reform of the church’s finances and practices for appointing priests.
“What you are witnessing now is an effort at structural change, lay people like the Voice of the Faithful are making themselves heard and they are demanding their rightful role in being consulted and in holding bishops accountable,” said Fr. Paul Surlis, who taught ethics for many years at St. John’s University in Queens, N.Y.
Voice of the Faithful, a lay group formed 10 months ago, says that it has 25,000 members in more than 40 states nationwide.
Responding to Cardinal Law’s resignation, the New York chapter expressed the hope “that the resignation may be a source of hope for victims and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy, and a new beginning for the Catholic Church in America.”
In New York, Voice of the Faithful regional coordinator David Pais said: “Members of Voice of the Faithful in New York City can take no sense of comfort or joy in this news. Rather, we can only reflect on the intense sadness that we feel, and through prayer and determination, dedicate ourselves to the hard work of rebuilding our beloved church.”
The group has come under fire from hierarchy and other lay groups.
Bishops, including Law, banned the group in seven dioceses from meeting on church property, although Law later held a meeting with the Boston chapter, on Nov. 24.
Another lay group, Faithful Voice, has attacked Voice of the Faithful, saying that it has a secret liberal agenda to undermine the church, to promote the ordination of women and to bring about the end of the vow of celibacy.
On its website, Faithful Voice challenged anyone to prove that Cardinal Law “intentionally tried to hurt anyone.”
Instead, the group says, many of those who demanded Law’s resignation “have knowingly and willfully contributed to the pitiless abortions of thousands of defenseless babies for whom the cardinal has faithfully spoken up.”
Carol McKinley, who is the spokesperson for Faithful Voice, welcomed Bishop Richard Lennon’s appointment on her website and noted that Lennon had said “that there were people who have submitted ideas on how to heal this sexual-abuse crisis and that he needed to sit down and listen to their ideas.”
She continued: “Right now, it is my assessment of the situation that after he listens to their ideas, he will pastorally try to bring them back to truth.”
On Sunday, the Boston Globe reported on Law’s return from Rome. The disgraced prelate arrived at Newark International Airport at 1 p.m., his immediate future uncertain.
Declining to speak with reporters, Law did, however, say: “I’d ask you to keep me in your prayers. Please do that.”
Fr. Surlis, now retired and living in the Baltimore area, continues to be an active but constructive critic of the contemporary church.
In a recent talk, Surlis indicated that some sort of reformation of the church that gives more power and influence to the laity is urgent.
“One of the best suggestions is from Archbishop Quinn of San Francisco, who said there should be a permanent synod of bishops running the church in Rome, with the pope and the curia subject to them,” Surlis said.
“Quinn’s suggestion is good but does not go far enough. There should be lay men and women in the synod, in the curia, in bishop’s synods in every diocese and in every parish, and young people should also be included.”

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