Pope calls meeting of cardinals on sex abuse

Pope Benedict XVI has summoned cardinals from around the world to a day-long summit in Rome next week on the clerical sex abuse scandal and other issues facing the Catholic Church, the Vatican said Monday.

The Vatican called the session “a day of reflection and prayer” that also will include discussions on threats to religious freedom, relations with other religions and procedures for disaffected Anglicans to join the Catholic Church. Five Church of England bishops announced Monday they were converting to Catholicism following Benedict’s invitation to disaffected Anglicans.

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Posted in * Religion News & Commentary, Ethics / Moral Theology, Other Churches, Pope Benedict XVI, Roman Catholic, Theology

11 comments on “Pope calls meeting of cardinals on sex abuse

  1. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    [blockquote]Wuerl said that if the pope asks the cardinals and cardinal-designates their input on sex abuse, Wuerl would tell him, “I think what we’ve done in the U.S. is a very good model. The issue now is essentially behind us. The concentration today has to be on victims. There is the question of awareness, of removing people from priesthood, those were done a long time ago.”[/blockquote]
    Well, according to this report the abuse victims do not appear to be as complacent as Cardinal Wuerl:
    [blockquote]Blaine took a hard line against the cardinals and any prospects that the gathering would lead to progress on the abuse issue.

    “Before any hopes get raised, let’s remember that it’s likely that every man in that room next week has ignored and concealed clergy sex crimes or is doing so right now.

    “The prospects of substantial reform happening next week are therefore pretty slim.”

    Far more productive, she argued, would be meetings that “involve police, prosecutors and other secular officials who use the open, time-tested justice system to uncover long-concealed clergy sex crimes.”[/blockquote]

  2. New Reformation Advocate says:

    Well, theoretically, that is what the College of Cardinals is for, to be a Council of Advice. Too bad Anglicanism doesn’t really have anything like it, although the Primates’ Meeting would come closest.

    I doubt that the illustrious group of prelates will spend much of the day discussing the Anglican Ordinariat. For most cardinals, there are far more pressing problems, especially in parts of the world (say like Poland or western Ukraine) where there are virtually no Anglicans. But that the Pope wants to put this matter on the agenda at all is very significant. The Ordinariat has been his baby all along.

    Isn’t it interesting, and ironic, that the pope’s leadership style is actually more collegial than the Archbishop of Canterbury’s??

    David Handy+

  3. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #2 [blockquote]Isn’t it interesting, and ironic, that the pope’s leadership style is actually more collegial than the Archbishop of Canterbury’s??[/blockquote]
    A very interesting observation, Fr Handy, and indeed one of the problems we face.

    For those heading off to Rome, I hope they aren’t too disappointed if things don’t quite measure up to the golden domes and waving flabella they imagine. The RC church faces many of the same problems we do, but perhaps its style means that it has been less able to deal with them, notably on child-abuse which continues to challenge them, but also some serious issues over vocations and numbers. I read a thoughtful assessment by Fr Ray Blake from Brighton, of some of the issues being faced by the RC church in England, and the real challenges faced by it by the creation of the Ordinariate here. The arrival of refugees can be as challenging as departures. I would recommend reading his assessment, and have much sympathy for the plight for his church he describes.

  4. TACit says:

    My goodness, Pageantmaster, you quote this:
    …it’s likely that every man in that room next week has ignored and concealed clergy sex crimes or is doing so right now.
    without even acknowledging its possible inaccuracy? “likely that every man in that room” in fact could amount to quoting a calumny (‘a false and malicious statement designed to injure the reputation of someone’, according to Webster’s encyclopedic unabridged dictionary), if not actual calumny. What evidence has been presented, anywhere, to support such a claim? Should all the Cardinals be assumed guilty, until proven innocent? How many in the College of Cardinals have actually been shown to have done as Blaine claims in their careers – what percentage of the College? If not something approaching 100%, then Blaine’s statement is simply an unfounded accusation and vicious untruth.
    The WaPo article itself seems already to have bumbled into mis-translation of plain Italian in the first few words. The Pope has not summoned these Cardinals, he has invited them. There is no overlap in the definitions of these two words in Italian, nor would we confuse them in English. The Cardinals are invited to a day of reflection and discussion which will precede the Consistory starting 20 Nov. at which 24 new Cardinals will be made, one of whom is Abp. Wuerl. Yet Blaine’s complaint in the AFP article you cite appears to be predicated on a similar mis-apprehension of ‘invite’ as ‘summon’, as its tone suggests the gathering has her grievances as its focus. Far from it, and thus the AFP article is unhelpful in setting up an expectation that actions should follow directly from this event — they would develop in the slightly longer term, I would think, fruit of the reflection and discussion as well as having 24 new Cardinals in the college.
    But this subset of the victims is perhaps becoming anxious, since in the UK, where as you know the Pope focused on the sin of the abuse in his homily at the Westminster Cathedral mass, their demonstration was rather swamped out by a public embrace of the Pope in September, their 60 representatives in Rome last month at Catholic Action youth day were overshadowed by the enthusiasm of more than 100,0000 mainly Italian youth and their mentors, and now the handful of protestors last weekend in Santiago and Barcelona also were difficult to notice in the gatherings of hundreds of thousands of faithful in each place.
    It was hardly charitable or constructive to quote the completely unsupported statement about the Cardinals in the AFP article without any further comment.

  5. TACit says:

    Here is the Italian article in which I find ‘invite’ rather than ‘summon’ as the correct way to understand the nature of the gathering – fourth line of the first paragraph under the second heading:

  6. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    Hello TACit
    Generally people are invited, but councils are summoned. Councils tend to be official bodies where people are summoned in the sense of an invitation which cannot, save in exceptional circumstances be refused.

    As for the words of Cardinal Woerl, and of Ms Blaine, I will have to refer you to them and to The New York Times and Agence France Press, but I would hesitate to say that a survivor of clergy abuse is either making a statement of inaccuracy or a calumny, but I suspect they know more about what they are talking about than you or I. It would certainly be shocking if every cardinal in the room were party to cover up, but that is what Ms Blaine alleges. By contrast Cardinal Woerl confidently asserts that the problems are behind the church. Who is correct?

    My comment has been to contrast the statements of two individuals without making comment on their accuracy, either on the part of Cardinal Wuerl or Ms Blaine, but to point out that they are indeed not mutually consistent.

    The relevance of the items I contrasted is of course that for those bishops heading off to the Ordinariate, which is one of the things this council is expected to talk about, that they are in a sense exchanging one set of issues for another – out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    And as for whether Cardinal Wuerl’s confidence is justified, well I am afraid the jury is still out as to whether the RC Church has really even now got to grips with the problem. Only last month here, fresh allegations arose when it appeared that a priest who had done a runner from the UK to the States, had nevertheless been financially supported by the Roman Catholic Birmingham diocese and its bishop even though he had been known to have been evading the authorities here and the charges that had been levelled at him. It is not at all clear that the RC church has in fact cleaned up its act to the stage where the vulnerable are not placed at risk or the accused helped to evade justice.

  7. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    As far as invitation goes, CNS uses the term ‘convened’, which probably expresses it well. They also have reports from the Vatican on the 5 joining Anglican bishops.

  8. TACit says:

    #6 has said, “It would certainly be shocking if every cardinal in the room were party to cover up, but that is what Ms Blaine alleges.” This suggests that you are willing to believe it could be substantiated that every Cardinal has ignored and concealed clergy sex crimes. So I ask you again; should all the Cardinals be regarded as possibly guilty of these things until proved innocent, because Blaine was quoted by AFP? In my country innocence until proven guilty is a foundation stone of justice.
    I ask if you considered even briefly that her claim could be completely wrong and rather preposterous – and therefore not worth discussing. I suggest that it is unreasonable to even consider seriously the intimation Blaine makes: “…let’s remember that it’s likely that every man in that room next week has ignored and concealed clergy sex crimes or is doing so right now.” That is not a reasonable claim by any definition, its being quoted in the press does not make it so, and it particularly is not reasonable given that no evidence is presented by her or a journalist to substantiate it. It is merely press-based hyperbole, in a similar vein to ‘panzer cardinal’, or ‘parking tanks on the lawn’, for example.
    And Blaine’s statement may well be calumny, intended to damage the reputations of the many innocent, by association with those guilty in this case.
    I said nothing at all about Abp. Wuerl or his quote, and don’t really wish to – he isn’t quite a Cardinal yet, after all!
    In fact my intent was more to suggest raising the level of discussion here on Kendall’s blog, keeping it in the realm of the reasonable by not introducing without comment hyperbolic press quotes, and researching the accuracy of translation before assuming that the sense of words, in fact badly translated, conveys reality. In fact Sandro Magister writes in Italian that the Cardinals including the new 24 have been invited by letter by Cardinal Sodano. Possibly the letter said they were ‘convocato’, convoked, literally called together as in a Convocation, though I expect Magister the journalist could have used in his article ‘convocati’ or any of the other 3 or 4 Italian verbs that can mean ‘summoned’ – yet he chose invitati. Let’s be clear, in English to announce that an authority figure has ‘summoned’ any subordinate, as in the WaPo article heading, carries the notion of possible insubordination needing to be addressed. What they are all invited to is a pre-Consistory day of reflection and prayer, which will evidently also include time for discussion on numerous topics later (to which Abp. Wuerl was suggesting how he might plan to contribute. More than likely there would be some counter-discussion, eh?).

  9. TACit says:

    Yes, the CNS article lays out the agenda of the pre-Consistory day thoroughly – thanks for that link, which came up as I was writing the above.

  10. Pageantmaster Ù† says:

    #8 TACit
    “It is merely press-based hyperbole” – well, it may be, but as it has been said by the spokesperson of Survivors of Clergy Abuse, it may not be.

    Ms Blaine is entitled to her opinion, as is Archbishop Woerl. I have expressed no opinion on all points of what either article contains. I am quite entitled to quote newspaper articles, without warranting the truth of everything contained, in the same way that you are entitled to object and make your points.

    However you are not entitled to stop people from quoting press reports because TACit objects to them, nor to stop T19 from carrying them.

    [blockquote]Let’s be clear, in English to announce that an authority figure has ‘summoned’ any subordinate, as in the WaPo article heading, carries the notion of possible insubordination needing to be addressed.[/blockquote]
    Well, in English English that is not necessarily the case, although I agree that convened might be better, however ‘invited’ may not convey what is going on either. When the two houses of Parliament convene together it is upon being summoned by HM the Queen through her messenger. THe house of commons makes a point of maintaining their independence, by slamming the door in the face of the messenger until he knocks,and is admitted. Summoning is something which a monarch does, and indeed HH is not only Pontiff but also in his own right a monarch as head of state. Invitation does not really convey the true nature of the call received to attend, which is really to require attendance for a weighty council, rather than a casual invite to a party, which could be declined as easily as accepted.

    As for convoked, a Convocation is inter alia defined as “a group of people gathered in answer to a summons; assembly.”

    I do not read any reference to any disciplinary element in the word summoned, just a very serious call, which should be heeded, to come together in convocation, or council as part of one’s duty.

  11. Martin Reynolds says:

    It’s rather amusing that people should think Ratzinger is a team player.