Challenges to seal of confession attributed to clergy sex abuse scandals

Penitent Elizabeth E. Santamaria offers her confession to Father Lawrence C. Goode May 8, 2019, at St. Francis of Assisi in East Palo Alto, Calif. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

(First in a series)

By Chaz Muth
Catholic News Service

Father Lawrence C. Goode hears confession May 8, 2019, at St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in East Palo Alto, Calif. (CNS photo/Chaz Muth)

WASHINGTON (CNS) — For centuries, the Catholic Church has maintained that what a penitent says to a priest in the confessional is strictly confidential, but in 2019 that rite continues to be challenged by governments.

Church scholars assert the concept of the seal of confession was given to the apostles by Jesus, eventually morphing into the sacrament of penance, providing the faithful with an opportunity to confess their sins and to be reconciled with God.

The soul-cleansing, sacred practice is private, confidential and repeatable.

Governmental leaders have challenged the priest-penitent privilege of the seal of confession since at least the 14th century, prompting priests to sacrifice their freedom and sometimes their lives protecting that confidentiality.
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Posted in U.S., World | Tagged , ,

Bishops’ actions at spring meeting called a ‘work in progress’

Judy M. Keane, director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Office of Public Affairs, calls on a reporter during a news conference June 13, 2019, at the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore. Pictured on the press panel are Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Va., Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., and Bishop Robert P. Deeley of Portland, Maine. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

By Carol Zimmermann 
Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) — The gathering of U.S. bishops June 11-13 in Baltimore was anything but business as usual.

“The spring meetings are usually more pastoral, and the November meeting has a heavier agenda,” said Bishop Michael F. Burbidge of Arlington, Virginia, who said this meeting had a “sense of urgency” and momentum to it, both in the smaller group gatherings and when the bishops were all together.

“We were here for specific task … and by God’s grace we will move forward,” he said during a June 12 news conference.

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Posted in U.S.

Sunday Scripture readings, June 16, 2019: Divine communion

The Catholic News Service column, “Speak to Me Lord,” offers reflections on the Sunday Scripture readings. (CNS/Nancy Wiechec)

June 16,
The Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity

Cycle C
1) Prv 8:22-31
Psalm 8:4-9
2) Rom 5:1-5
Gospel: Jn 16:12-15

By Jem Sullivan
Catholic News Service

Something remarkable unfolded as Parisians watched the roof and spire of their city’s iconic Cathedral of Notre Dame rapidly engulf in flames some two months ago. Strangers who would ordinarily walk past each other without a nod or a greeting began to converse intensely as they shared a common sense of shock and distress. Continue reading

Posted in "Speak to Me Lord", CNS columns

Lay groups cautious about bishops’ actions to boost accountability

Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of Newark, N.J., converse during the spring general assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Baltimore June 13, 2019. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)

By Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Representatives of lay organizations expressed caution over the steps taken by U.S. bishops to boost accountability and transparency in dealing with clergy sexual abuse, saying future actions by the bishops will determine how successful the initiatives ultimately will be.

Full collaboration with laypeople will be the key to the success of the measures adopted by the bishops, they said in a series of statements following the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring general assembly in Baltimore June 11-13.

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Posted in U.S.

Mitigate global warming, spare further injustice to poor, pope says

A thermal power plant is seen Nov. 21 near residential buildings in Beijing. (CNS photo/Jason Lee, Reuters)

By Carol Glatz 
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Faced with a climate emergency, the world must act immediately to mitigate global warming and avoid committing “a brutal act of injustice” on the poor and future generations, Pope Francis told a group of energy and oil executives and global investors.

“Time is running out! Deliberations must go beyond mere exploration of what can be done and concentrate on what needs to be done from today onward,” he said.

“We do not have the luxury of waiting for others to step forward or of prioritizing short-term economic benefits. The climate crisis requires our decisive action, here and now,” he said June 14 at the Vatican.

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Posted in Vatican, World

More than a few fans prayed for St. Louis Blues to win Stanley Cup

St. John Paul II swings a St. Louis Blues’ hockey stick given to him by young people during his visit to the Kiel Center in St. Louis for rally in this Jan. 26, 1999, file photo. (CNS photo/Rick Wilking, Reuters)

By Catholic News Service

ST. LOUIS (CNS) — Before the St. Louis Blues beat the Boston Bruins in Game 7 on June 12 to win the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup for the first time in the team’s 52-year history, Twitter was alive with hopes for a little divine intervention for such a victory — maybe even from St. John Paul II.

Many a tweet recalled a Jan. 26, 1999, visit the pontiff paid to St. Louis and just how comfortable he looked holding a hockey stick given to him by young people gathered for a rally at the arena that is home to the St. Louis Blues, then called the Kiel Center.

At the end of the rally, which drew a crowd of 20,000, the pope also received a special jersey in the Blues’ colors — bearing the name “John Paul II” and the number “1.”

When the Blues headed to the Stanley Cup Final, Catholics of the Archdiocese of St. Louis were praying hard for their team, said a May 23 editorial in the St. Louis Review, the archdiocesan newspaper.

“Our city has caught Blues fever with fervor,” it said. “Even Archbishop Robert J. Carlson, not a native of St. Louis but no stranger to hockey as a Minnesota native, exclaimed at the end of his May 22 State of the Archdiocese address to employees: ‘Go Blues!'”

“Many people had given up on the Blues, who in January were the worst team in the NHL,” the editorial noted. “It’s a lesson in perseverance and never giving up. It’s a lesson that we certainly could apply to our lives, and especially our faith. There’s always hope. For Catholics, that hopes lies in Jesus. And, for #CatholicSTL, in the Blues, too.”

The long-suffering team and its loyal fans finally got their magical moment in Game 7 with a 4-1 victory in Boston. And the celebration will continue with a parade to honor the champion team June 15 in St. Louis.

St. Louis Blues players pose for a team photo with the Stanley Cup after defeating the Boston Bruins in Game 7 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final in Boston June 12, 2019. It was their first Stanley Cup in team history. (CNS photo/Winslow Townson, USA TODAY Sports)

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Posted in U.S.

USCCB president, other bishops, met with survivors of clergy sexual abuse

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, Ind., chairman of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, field questions Nov. 12 during a press conference at the bishops’ general assembly in Baltimore. The two were among a small group of bishops who met with abuse victims in Baltimore June 12. (CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

By Catholic News Service

BALTIMORE (CNS) — Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, along with Bishop Timothy L. Doherty of Lafayette, chairman of the bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, and Bishop Barry C. Knestout of Richmond, Virginia, met with three survivors of clergy sexual abuse late June 12.

The meeting took place as the U.S. bishops were gathered in Baltimore for their spring general assembly June 11-13 where they focused on implementing bishop accountability measures in response to the abuse crisis in the church.

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Posted in U.S.