A growing number of pastors in the United Methodist Church say they’re no longer willing to obey a church rule that prohibits them from officiating at same-sex marriages, despite the potential threat of being disciplined or dismissed from the church.
In some parts of the U.S., Methodist pastors have been marrying same-sex couples or conducting blessing ceremonies for same-sex unions for years with little fanfare and no backlash from the denomination. Calls to overturn the rule have become increasingly vocal in recent weeks, ratcheting up the pressure for the Methodist church to join other mainline Protestant denominations that have become more accepting of openly gay leaders.
Statement from Call To Action Regarding
Bishops’ 2011 Spring Assembly:
Bishops Empower Themselves Not to Report Abuse Allegations, Catholics Speak Out
After this year’s revelations that the Philadelphia Archbishop and Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop failed to report sexual abuse allegations to their review boards and to civil authorities, Catholics of good will expected the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to revise their sexual abuse policies at this week’s Spring General Assembly. Today, the bishops conclude their gathering without making any substantive changes to their sex abuse policies.
The bishops did manage to authorize work on a new preaching document, issue a policy statement and approve new musical translations of the new liturgy to begin in September.
However, when it came to changing and further strengthening the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and its related Essential Norms, they added little and made minor tweaks to dates and numbers. One bishop even suggested that some of those who have abused should be able to return to ministry. Equally egregious, the bishops did not add a section to the charter that would mandate Bishops share sexual abuse allegations with their own diocesan review boards and, thus, potentially keep known abusers in ministry.
As a result, the power to keep a pedophile religious leader away from children continues to rest in the hands of the bishop–the same place it has always rested. Based on the last fifty years of scandal, we know this only leads to additional abuse victims and greater harm to the Church as a whole.
Call To Action encourages fellow Catholics to continue to speak up about any signs of abuse and direct their concerns, not only to church authorities, but to civil authorities. For assistance, contact SNAP, the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests, http://www.snapnetwork.org
After secret investigation, Vatican attempts to silence Australian Bishop — http://tinyurl.com/3qsdssw
Despite recent cases in which Roman Catholic bishops failed to report or suspend priests accused of child sexual abuse, the bishops head into a meeting in Seattle on Wednesday proposing no significant revisions to the abuse prevention policies they passed in 2002 at the height of the scandal.
The bishops had promised that they would take a hard look at their policies in light of new accusations in Philadelphia and Kansas City, Mo., that have shaken many Catholics, not just in those dioceses, but across the country as well. The incidents have led some Catholics to question whether bishops are complying with their own policies, and whether there is any accountability for bishops who do not.
In the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Bishop Robert W. Finn admitted last month that he allowed a priest who had taken pornographic pictures of parish girls to continue celebrating Mass and having access to children.
Nearly 200 Catholic bishops gather in Seattle Wednesday for a three day conference, amidst new allegations of ongoing sexual abuse by priests.
The church leaders from all over the country will discuss potential changes to new rules put in place in 2002 aimed at curbing rampant sexual abuse spanning decades, resulting in thousands of complaints and over $2 billion in legal settlements.
“It’s little more than show. They’ve done virtually nothing to change things,” alleges John Shuster, director of Seattle’s Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
Shuster says the reforms are meaningless, because they don’t carry any real power to remove pedophile priests.
Shuster accuses the church of continuing to cover up ongoing abuses, and his group is calling on the church to open its records and subject guilty priests to criminal prosecution. “This is criminal sexual abuse of children,” he complains. “If this were a plumber, he’d be locked up in a minute.”
But Catholic Church leaders insist guidelines put in place the last decade have drastically curbed abuse cases and no further rules are needed.
The gathering comes just days after three men filed new lawsuits against the Seattle archdiocese, alleging rampant abuse and cover up in the 1960’s and 1970’s.