Women’s ordination, transgender ideology move forward at German Synodal Way

Delegates at the fifth assembly of the German Synodal Way, meeting in Frankfurt, Germany, on March 11, 2023, applaud after the he passage of a text calling for changes to the German Church’s approach to gender identity.

By Jonathan Liedl

Delegates of the German Synodal Way on Saturday overwhelmingly passed measures to change Church practices based on transgender ideology and to push the universal Church to ordain women to the sacramental diaconate.

The votes took place on the final day of the process’ concluding assembly, held in Frankfurt March 9-11. On previous days, delegates voted overwhelmingly to adopt same-sex blessings, normalize lay preaching, and ask Rome to “reexamine” the discipline of priestly celibacy.

While the Germans pushed forward with these controversial measures, the assembly held back from crossing a line laid down by the Vatican concerning the establishing synodal councils at the national, diocesan, and parochial levels. The Vatican has said the synodal council model, which involves shared governance between bishops and the laity, is not consistent with Catholic ecclesiology.

The synodal assembly decided to delay voting on the proposal. Instead, it will be considered by a newly established synodal committee over the next three years, while Synodal Way leadership attempts to change the minds of Vatican officials and garner more widespread approval in the universal Church.

At the concluding press conference, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, president of the bishops’ conference, said that the results give a mandate to the bishops to make some changes in Germany now while pushing for broader reform.

“The Church is visibly changing, and that is important,” Bätzing said.

Irme Stetter-Karp, president of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK), said the results show that the synodal path in Germany will continue.

“It does not end here. It is just the beginning,” she said.

Observers, including 103 international bishops who signed a letter warning that the Synodal Way could lead to schism, have expressed concern about the heterodox ideas promoted by the process and the effect it could have on the wider Church if the Vatican does not sufficiently intervene.

Vote on gender ideology

The implementation text “Dealing with gender diversity” passed with support from 96% of the 197 voting delegates. Thirty-eight bishops voted for it, while only seven voted against it. Thirteen abstained from voting.

Consistent with a pattern running throughout the assembly, there would have been enough votes to block the measure if those abstaining had voted against it. Critics of the Synodal Way say that organizers’ removal of the secret ballot has created a fear-driven atmosphere that has prohibited many bishops from voting freely.

The resolution calls for “concrete improvements for intersex and transgender faithful,” including changing baptism records to match someone’s self-identified gender, banning one’s gender identity from consideration for pastoral ministerial roles, and mandatory education for priests and church employees to “deal with the topic of gender diversity.” Intersex refers to people born with mixed sexual characteristics.

The text also bars “external sexual characteristics” from being used as a criterion for “accepting a man as a candidate for the priesthood,” a measure that could open the door for attempted ordinations of women.

During the debate, a small minority of bishops voiced opposition to the measure, while emphasizing that the Church should improve its pastoral care of those identifying as transgender. Auxiliary Bishop Stefan Zekorn of Bistum Münster said he could not support a text based on gender ideology, while Bishop Stefen Oster of Passau said that the document failed to emphasize that a Christian’s primary identity should be rooted in Jesus Christ.

But the vast majority of those who spoke expressed support for the measure. Gregor Podschun, the head of the heterodoxical Federation of German Catholic Youth, said the claims of gender ideology were “a scientific fact,” and that the Church’s denial was causing people to commit suicide. Julianne Eckstein, a professor of theology at the Johannes Gutenberg University of Mainz, claimed that the book of Genesis was an inadequate basis for questions of sexual anthropology. And Viola Kohlberger, a young adult from Augsburg, said that there is no “norm” for gender and that the tradition of the Catholic Church was holding back progress.

“And I would like to break it today,” she said.

When the vote passed, delegates stood to applaud, while some unfurled rainbow flags expressing support for homosexuality and transgender ideology.

Support for women’s ordination

Delegates passed the implementation text “Women in sacramental ministry: Perspectives for the universal Church dialogue” by a similarly large margin. Only 10 of 58 bishops voted against the measure, which calls for the German bishops to advance the issue of the sacramental ordination of women at the continental and universal level of the Church.

A motion adopted by the assembly replaced a call for the establishment of a “sacramental diaconate of women” with “opening the sacramental diaconate for women.” The distinction made clear that the Synodal Way is pushing for women to be integrated into already existing holy orders, an idea the Church has repeatedly affirmed is impossible.

Delegates adopted another motion that modified priorities related to the all-male priesthood, calling for the practice to be simply reexamined, rather than ended, at the universal level of the Church. Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising said that the motion was needed to “build consensus” for changes to the Church’s dogmatic teaching related to the priesthood.

Others were less interested in the slow approach. Several women delegates were seen in tears after the vote, saddened that the text did not more explicitly call for female priests.

“Discriminating against someone because of their gender must be put to an end in the Catholic Church,” said delegate Susanne Schumacher-Godemann.

“The patriarchy needs to be destroyed,” added Podschun.

Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg spoke up in opposition to the text, characterizing the push for ordaining women to the diaconate as “a first step toward opening up” the priesthood and the episcopacy, too.

The Regensburg bishop, a close friend of Pope Benedict XVI, is one of only three German bishops to have publicly voted against each of the Synodal Way’s controversial texts.

The synodal assembly also elected 20 members to the transitory synodal committee that will work over the next three years to prepare for the establishment of a permanent synodal council at the national level. The 20 elected members, which consisted of 19 laypeople and one auxiliary bishop, will join the 27 bishops who head dioceses and 27 members of the Central Committee of German Catholics (ZdK) already on the committee.

The Synodal Way, which began in 2019, has been a collaborative effort between the ZdK and the German bishops’ conference.

Complete Article HERE!

Archdiocese of Denver Clarifies Stance on Refusing Four Women Wearing Rainbow Masks

— The Archdiocese of Denver allegedly refused the four women wearing rainbow masks during Communion at All Souls Catholic Church. Recently, they clarified the issue through their spokesperson, Kelly Clark.

By Bernadette Salapare

Kelly Clark, a spokesman for the Denver Archdiocese, told The Denver Post that nobody from All Souls was available to discuss the subject. She also stated that the Archdiocese will not give a statement in response to the claim, yet, she did mention in an email that “the most sacred thing we do as Catholics is celebrated Mass.”

According to Clark, the Mass is a time to worship God and not a time to seemingly make a statement or enter Mass to generate a response. It is appropriate for a priest to give a blessing instead of Communion if it appears that the person isn’t ready to receive the body and blood of Jesus Christ. If people believe that they were denied Communion in error, they strongly recommend they discuss the matter with the pastor of their parish, she added.

Story of the Four Women During Communion in Archdiocese of Denver

A report from Into stated that on Saturday, Feb. 11, the four close friends Sally Odenheimer, 71, Susan Doty, 81, Jill Moore, 64, and Cindy Grubenhoff, 48, went to the Mass held at All Souls Catholic Parish in Englewood. The priest gave a puzzled expression after taking one glimpse at the congregation’s rainbow face masks while they were lining up to take the Eucharist.

As mentioned, the four close friends wanted to show their support for local teacher Maggie Barton, who had been dismissed due to her sexual orientation, by wearing face masks. Barton was employed at All Souls Catholic School as a technology teacher until the Archdiocese of Denver got a photo of her kissing her partner. On Jan. 26, a day after Pope Francis condemned punitive actions for homosexuality, she was terminated from her position.

According to Advocate, even though none of them often goes to All Souls, Sally Odenheimer saw an opportunity to show her support for the educator. She organized a group of her friends to wear LGBTQ-affirming clothing and attend Mass at the church, where Barton was dismissed from her position. The women were taken aback when the priest refused to give them Communion. However, they did not make a fuss about it and simply continued with the Mass.

>As per Christianity Daily, the Archdiocese of Denver has a different stance on the issue. They claim that Barton’s dismissal resulted from her failure to abide by the commitments outlined in her contract with the school. The contract says that all Catholic school teachers are expected to live a Catholic lifestyle and refrain from engaging in behavior opposite to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Barton did not adhere to the commitments outlined in her contract with the school. Despite the provided explanation by the church, Barton continues to be firm in her opinion that she was fired due to discrimination in the LGBT community.

Complete Article HERE!

New Catholic clergy sexual abuse report from Fordham charts a path forward

— ‘To me, placing survivors’ stories first is about cultural transformation,’ said The Rev. Gerard McGlone.

David Lorenz, Maryland director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, speaks at a sidewalk news conference outside the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops gathering in Baltimore on Nov. 16, 2022.


In 2018, the Catholic world was reeling from the one-two punch of abuse allegations against Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and the scathing Pennsylvania grand jury report exposing Catholic clergy sexual abuse of over 1,000 children over the previous 70 years. That reckoning prompted a group of researchers from 10 Jesuit institutions to mobilize to look for ways to stem a crisis of clergy sexual abuse that is now reaching its fourth decade.

At Georgetown University, a priest began studying the healing effect of abuse survivors’ stories; an ethicist at New York’s Fordham University began investigating how Black survivors had been erased from the clergy abuse crisis; in Milwaukee, an interdisciplinary team at Marquette University started a workshop for Catholic teens on abusive power dynamics.

These projects are three of the 18 funded by an unnamed foundation and whose findings are published in Taking Responsibility, a 68-page report from Fordham University released in January.

The report includes case studies of abuse cover-up in Baltimore, Chicago and Omaha, Nebraska; research on topics such as moral injury; and guides for whistleblowing and for communicating about abuse. Though the report concludes with recommendations for Jesuit leaders, the findings, according to project director Bradford Hinze, a professor of theology at Fordham, can be applied broadly.

Several of the projects fault clericalism, or the Catholic hierarchy, with fostering clergy’s sense of superiority, isolation and ultimately abuse. As part of the remedy, the report calls for priests and their institutions to confront survivors’ stories, both past and present, head-on.

The Rev. Gerard “Jerry” McGlone, S.J. Photo courtesy Georgetown University
The Rev. Gerard McGlone.

The Rev. Gerard McGlone, senior research fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown University and a Jesuit priest, sees abuse survivors’ stories as sacred. “To me, placing survivors’ stories first is about cultural transformation,” he told Religion News Service. “It’s about having a community that believes those who have been harmed, rather than those in power.”

McGlone used his part of the grant to launch a study of more than 150 participants who engaged with survivors’ stories in video, written and  listening formats. They also took pre- and post- surveys.

Preliminary findings, which McGlone called “staggering,” suggest that listening to survivors’ stories increases a person’s levels of spirituality and decreases their loss of meaning and sense of institutional betrayal.

“What was stunning in the research is that initially, the rates of moral injury of several different components that have been known in the field were lowered when the person heard and saw a survivor’s story,” McGlone said.

Most participants — many reached through advertisements in America magazine and National Catholic Reporter — were practicing Catholics. Yet engaging with the stories didn’t diminish their church attendance or beliefs. McGlone, who hopes the findings can be replicated in future studies, said they could have sweeping impacts.

“How might survivor stories become part of a new catechesis?” he asked. “How might it be integrated into the fabric of who we are as Catholic believers?”

For his project, the Rev. Bryan Massingale, a priest in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and a theological ethicist at Fordham, grappled with the link between white supremacy and the church’s failed response to clergy abuse of Black people. “In many ways this report is really the only one in existence yet to take the experience of African Americans and make it central,” he told RNS.

The Rev. Bryan Massingale. Photo by Patrick Verel/Fordham University
The Rev. Bryan Massingale.

Massingale analyzed the limited data available on Black Catholic survivors and discovered several barriers to knowing the full extent of their trauma. Most Catholic dioceses don’t collect data on survivors’ race and ethnicity. Race-specific barriers also prevent Black folks from reporting abuse in the first place, as they may not trust law enforcement. They may fear that they won’t be believed by authorities or by a jury, particularly if the abuse was perpetrated by a white priest in good standing.

The church can help more Black survivors, Massingale said, by collecting survivors’ demographic data and creating forums designed explicitly for Black survivors and other victims of color to process their trauma. Many Black victims, he said, “find it very difficult to tell their story without talking about how race impacted their experience.”

In addition, Massingale said those who present education materials on clergy sexual abuse need to rethink the images they include — “Do we allow victims/survivors/copers of color to see themselves as part of this narrative?” he asked. The church may also need to reevaluate what terms are used to describe those who’ve been abused.  Black communities who’ve long had to cope with white supremacy, for instance, might prefer the term “coper” over such words as “victim” or “survivor.”

While Massingale and McGlone focused on survivors’ stories, the Marquette team studied how to best equip teens to identify abusive power dynamics. The team found 161 different educational materials for children across 196 dioceses that were often inconsistent, outdated and without theological grounding. One group used a video from 1998 in which a yellow dinosaur teaches kids about “tricky people.”

“There was very little reference to power dynamics, and that was why we decided to focus our workshop on power. Particularly, who has power, and how they have power based on their social context,” said Karen Ross, professor of theology and ethics at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

Mark Levand, education practicum coordinator at Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies, added that none of the materials discussed comprehensive sexuality education, despite research showing it reduces rates of sexual abuse and increases reporting.

Cathy Melesky Dante, from left, Karen Ross and Mark Levand pose together during a workshop for teens about healthy relationships, held in the Diocese of Milwaukee. Courtesy photo
Cathy Melesky Dante, from left, Karen Ross and Mark Levand pose together during a workshop for teens about healthy relationships, held in the Diocese of Milwaukee.

To fill the void, Ross, Levand and Cathy Melesky Dante, a spiritual director and Ph.D. candidate studying solidarity with abuse survivors at Marquette, held workshops for teens — one for younger teens, one for older teens — in the Diocese of Milwaukee. Using icebreakers, discussions and case studies, they walked teens through what healthy relationships look like and gave them tools to identify emotional abuse, sexual coercion, intimidation and isolation. In surveys, participants reported learning about their own autonomy and power in relationships.

Melesky Dante told RNS the workshop used Jesus’ resurrection as an example of wielding power for good. “This is our God using power to raise people from the dead. How does this inform how we think about power?” The workshops also incorporated the Examen of St. Ignatius of Loyola, a prayer technique that allows participants to reflect on when they felt close to or far from God during the session. (Their teaching guide is available on Fordham’s website.)

“In a Catholic framework, having more dialogue around standards and what we can do as a church to help integrate sexuality into a broader curriculum is really important,” said Levand. “I hope it starts a dialogue about the importance of power dynamics in relationships and also most specifically in Catholic spaces.”

If its lessons are taken seriously, the authors of the Fordham report say, it could be a critical step toward justice and abuse prevention. But ending the clergy abuse crisis continues to be an uphill battle. In November, a probe uncovered more than 600 abuse victims of Catholic clergy over 80 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore. A month earlier, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo submitted to government oversight after a lawsuit accusing former bishops of sexual abuse coverup.

“We know that in dioceses across the country, it’s often the case that lawyers have in the past told bishops, you don’t want to get involved. You don’t want to talk to victims. … You don’t want to speak out publicly, for fear that this might have an adverse effect on your institution,” said Hinze. “My great hope and desire is that there will be much more open discussion and collaboration with people around these issues as we move forward.”

Complete Article HERE!

Rigidity and Tolerance within the Vatican

ope Francis with a child on his shoulders – graffiti in Rome

By Jan Lundius

“The Roman curia suffers from spiritual Alzheimer [and] existential schizophrenia; this is the disease of those who live a double life, the fruit of that hypocrisy typical of the mediocre and of a progressive spiritual emptiness which no doctorates or academic titles can fill. […] When appearances, the colour of our clothes and our titles of honour become the primary object in life, [it] leads us to be men and woman of deceit. […] Be careful around those who are rigid. Be careful around Christians – be they laity, priests, bishops – who present themselves as so ‘perfect’. Be careful. There’s no Spirit of God there. They lack the spirit of liberty [..] We are all sinners. But may the Lord not let us be hypocrites. Hypocrites don’t know the meaning of forgiveness, joy and the love of God.”
Pope Francis I

STOCKHOLM, Sweden, Feb 8 2023 (IPS) – When the Pope Emeritus Benedict XIV/Ratzinger died on the last day of 2022 it did not cause much of a stir in the global newsfeed. Maybe a sign that religion has ceased to play a decisive role in modern society Nevertheless, religious hierarchies are still highly influential, not least for the world’s 1, 4 billion baptized Catholics, and a pope’s policies have a bearing not only on morals, but also on political and economic issues. By contrast, there are more Muslims in the world, 1.9 billion, though adherents are not so centrally controlled and supervised as Catholics and hierarchies do not have a comparable influence on global affairs.

When Benedict abdicated in 2013 he retained his papal name, continued to wear the white, papal cassock, adopted the title Pope Emeritus and moved into a monastery in the Vatican Gardens. It must have been a somewhat cumbersome presence for a new, more radical pope, particularly since Benedict became a symbol of traditional values and served as an inspiration for critics of the current papacy.

By the end of his reign, John Paul II was suffering from Parkinson’s disease and Cardinal Ratzinger was in effect running the Vatican and when he was elected Pope in 2005, his closest runner-up was Cardinal Bergoglio from Buenos Aires. What would have happened if Borgoglio, who eventually became Francis I, had been elected? Would he have been able to more effectively deal with clerical sexual abuse and Vatican corruption?

When Joseph Ratzinger became pope, he had for 27 years served John Paul II by heading the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), investigating and condemning birth control, acceptance of homosexuals, “gender theory” and Liberation Theology, a theological approach with a specific concern for the poor and political liberation for oppressed people.

Under Cardinal Ratzinger the CDF generally overlooked an often shady economic cooperation financing Pope John Paul II’s successful battle against Communism, while covering up clerical sexual abuse and marginalizing “progressive” priests. Several Latin American liberation theologians agreed that John Paul II in several ways was an asset to the Church, though he mistreated clerics who actually believed in Jesus’s declaration that he was chosen to “bring good news to the poor, to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” John Paul II and his “watchdog” Joseph Ratzinger were considered to have “armoured fists hidden in silk gloves.”

Ratzinger censured and silenced a number of leading “liberal” priests, like the Latin American Liberation theologian Leonardo Boff and the American Charles Curran, who supported same sex marriages. Both were defrocked. Under Ratzinger’s CDF rule, several clerics were excommunicated for allowing abortions, like the American nun Margaret McBride, and the ordination of women priests, among them the Argentinian priest Rómulo Braschi and the French priest Roy Bourgeois.

Ratzinger/Benedict wrote 66 books, in which a common theme was Truth, which according to him was “self-sacrificing love”, guided by principles promulgated by the Pope and implemented by the Curia, the administrative body of the Vatican:

“Today, having a clear faith based on the Creed of the Church is often labelled as fundamentalism. Whereas relativism, that is, letting one be tossed here and there, carried about by every wind of doctrine, seems the only attitude that can cope with modern times. We are building a dictatorship of relativism that does not recognize anything as definitive and whose ultimate goal consists solely of one’s own ego and desires.”

A strict adherence to Catholic Doctrine meant bringing the Church back to what Benedict XVI considered as its proper roots. If this alienated some believers, so be it. Numerous times he stated that the Church might well be healthier if it was smaller. A point of view opposed to the one expressed by Francis I:

“Changes need to be made […] Law cannot be kept in a refrigerator. Law accompanies life, and life goes on. Like morals, it is being perfected. Both the Church and society have made important changes over time on issues as slavery and the possession of atomic weapons, moral life is also progressing along the same line. Human thought and development grows and consolidates with the passage of time. Human understanding changes over time, and human consciousness deepens.”

Benedict XVI allowed the issue of human sexuality to overshadow support to environmentalism and human rights. He wanted to “purify the Church” in accordance with rules laid down in the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published in 1992 and written under direction of the then Cardinal Ratzinger. The Catechism might be considered as a counterweight to “relativistic theories seeking to justify religious pluralism, while supporting decline in general moral standards.”

Pope Benedict endeavoured to reintegrate hard-core traditionalists back into the fold, maintaining and strengthening traditional qualms related to sexual conduct and abortion. He declared that modern society had diminished “the morality of sexual love to a matter of personal sentiments, feelings, [and] customs. […], isolating it from its procreative purposes.” Accordingly, “homosexual acts” were in the Catechism described as “violating natural law” and could “under no circumstances be approved.”

Papal condemnation of homosexuality may seem somewhat strange considering that it is generally estimated that the percentage of gay Catholic priests might be 30 – 60, suggesting more homosexual men (active and non-active) within the Catholic priesthood than within society at large.

In 2019, Frédéric Martel’s In the Closet of the Vatican sent shock waves through the Catholic world. Based on years of interviews and collaboration with a vast array of researchers, priests and prostitutes, Martel described the double life of priests and the hypocrisy of homophobic cardinals and bishops living with their young “assistants”. He pinpointed members of the Catholic hierarchy as “closet gays”, revealed how “de-anonymised” data from homosexual dating apps (like Grindl) listed clergy users, described exclusive homosexual coteries within the Vatican, networks of prostitutes serving priests, as well as the anguish of homosexual priests trying to come to terms with their homosexual inclinations.

According to Martel, celibacy is a main reason for homosexuality among Catholic priesthood. For a homosexual youngster a respected male community might serve as a safe haven within a homophobic society.

By burdening homosexuality with guilt, covering up sexual abuse and opaque finances the Vatican has not supported what Benedict proclaimed, namely protect and preach the Truth. Behind the majority of cases of sexual abuse there are priests and bishops who protected aggressors because of their own homosexuality and out of fear that it might be revealed in the event of a scandal. The culture of secrecy needed to maintain silence about the prevalence of homosexuality in the Church, which allowed sexual abuse to be hidden and predators to act without punishment.

Cardinal Robert Sarah stated that “Western homosexual and abortion ideologies” are of “demonic origin” and compared them to “Nazism and Islamic terrorism.” Such opinions did in 2020 not hinder Pope Emeritus Benedict from writing a book together with Sarah – From the Depths of Our Hearts: Priesthood, Celibacy and the Crisis of the Catholic Church. Among injunctions against abortion, safe sex, and women clergy, celibacy was fervently defended as not only “a mere precept of ecclesiastical law, but as a sharing in Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and his identity as Bridegroom of the Church.” This in contrast to Francis I, who declared:

“It is time that the Church moves away from questions that divide believers and concentrate on the real issues: the poor, migrants, poverty. We can’t only insist on questions bound up with abortion, homosexual marriage and the use of contraceptive methods. It is not possible … It isn’t necessary to go on talking about it all the time.”

The current pope is not condoning abortion, though does not elevate it above the fight against poverty, climate change and the rights of migrants, which he proclaims to be “pro-life” issues in their own right. In 2021, Francis I stated that “same-sex civil unions are good and helpful to many.” He is of the opinion that Catholic priests ought to be celibate, but adds that this rule is not an unchangeable dogma and “the door is always open” to change. Francis propagates that women ought to be ordained as deacons; allowed to do priestly tasks, except giving absolution, anointing the sick, and celebrate mass and he has recruited women to several crucial administrative positions within the Vatican. Furthermore, he ordered all dioceses to report sexual abuse of minors to the Vatican, while notifying governmental law enforcement to allow for comprehensive investigations and perpetrators being judged by common – and not by canon law.

Just hours after Benedict’s funeral on 5 January Georg Gänswein’s memoir Nothing but the Truth — My Life Beside Benedict XVI, was distributed to the press. Gänswein, who was Benedict’s faithful companion and personal secretary, writes that for the Pope Emeritus the Doctrine of the Faith was the fundament of the Church, while Francis is more inclined to highlight “pastoral care”, i.e. guidance and support focusing on a person’s welfare, social and emotional needs, rather than purely educational ones.

In 2013, Gänswein entered in the service of Benedict XIV. He was professor in Canon Law, fluent in four languages, an able tennis player, excellent downhill skier and had a pilot’s licence. He was also an outspoken conservative and often critical of Francis I.

Shortly before his abdication, Benedict XVI appointed Cardinal Gänswein archbishop and made him Prefect of the Papal Household, deciding who could have an audience with Pope Francis I, while he at the same time was responsible for Benedict’s daily schedule, communications, and private and personal audiences. The Italian edition of the magazine Vanity Fair presented Gänswein on its cover, declaring “being handsome is not a sin” and calling him “the Georg Clooney of the Vatican”. Six years before Donatella Versace used Gänswein as inspiration for her fashion show Priest Chic.

There was an air of vanity and conservatism surrounding the acolytes of Benedict. Gänswein writes that working with both popes, the active one and the ”Emeritus” was a great challenge, not only in terms of work but in terms of style. Benedict XIV was a pope of aesthetics recognising that in a debased world there remain things of beauty, embodied in a Mozart sonata, a Latin mass, an altarpiece, an embroidered cape, or the cut of a cassock. The male-oriented lifestyle magazine Esquire included Pope Benedict in a “best-dressed men list”. Gänswein states that when Pope Francis in 2022 restricted the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass “I believe it broke Pope Benedict’s heart”.

Pope Francis is now 86, not much time remains for him as sovereign of the Catholic Church. Hopefully he will be able to change the Curia by staffing it with people who share his ambition to reform the Church by navigating away from doctrinal rigidity, vanity and seclusion towards inclusion, tolerance, human rights, poverty eradication and environmentalism.

Complete Article HERE!

Victorian court allows abused altar boy’s children and wife to sue Catholic church

— Unique case may set precedent as family alleges church’s failings caused man’s violence in later life

The wife and two children of an abused altar boy have sued the Catholic church, alleging they are ‘secondary victims’ of its failure to prevent Father Bryan Coffey from abusing children.


A Victorian court has paved the way for the children and wife of an abused altar boy to sue the Catholic church, alleging the church’s failings caused their father and husband to become a violent alcoholic and drug addict who beat them later in life.

The abuse victim, now dead, was an altar boy in north-west Victoria in the mid-1970s when he was allegedly raped by Father Bryan Coffey, a parish priest who allegedly used his role as the supervisor of the local school’s cross-country team to prey on children.

Coffey, who died in 2013, is alleged to have abused nine children across four parishes between 1960 and 1975. The church allegedly moved Coffey between various parish appointments because of “knowledge or suspicion that he was capable of child abuse”.

In the years that followed his abuse, the altar boy began drinking heavily and later developed a serious substance abuse disorder. He was violent and abusive to his wife, whom he married roughly a decade later, and their two children, according to court documents.

Now the wife and two children, who cannot be identified, have sued the Catholic church, alleging they are “secondary victims” of its failure to prevent Coffey from abusing children.

They allege the church should have known that failing to protect the boy from abuse meant that, if he went on to have a family, his immediate relatives would be left “vulnerable to the risk of harm”.

The case is unique in that it alleges the church had a duty of care to the victim’s immediate family members, despite the fact that the abuse happened more than a decade before he met his wife and before the two children were born.

If the argument is accepted at any trial, the case could set a precedent that would potentially expose the church to claims from other immediate family members who have suffered intergenerational trauma caused by clergy abuse.

Last month the church failed to have the claim struck out in the Victorian supreme court.

In a judgment last week, Justice Andrew Keogh said the case was “novel” because it argued the church had a duty of care to the victim’s future wife and unborn children, who had no relationship to him at the time of the alleged abuse.

He said the argument, made by law firm Ken Cush and Associates, was “not certain to fail” and should be determined at trial, after hearing all the evidence.

“While the Diocese could not have known of the family plaintiffs at the time of the abuse, that does not mean they should not have had in contemplation members of [the abuse victim’s] immediate family as a class of persons who might suffer harm if negligence by the Diocese led to the abuse,” he said.

Keogh said the plaintiffs would need to confront the “very substantial physical and temporal distance between the abuse and the harm that they suffered” and lead detailed evidence about the connection between the child abuse and their associated harm more than a decade later.

He rejected the church’s argument that the case could “permit a wider scope of the types of family members pursuing secondary victim claims, such as grandchildren and great-grandchildren”.

Keogh said the current claim related only to an abuse victim’s immediate family.

The case is also attempting to establish that the church owed a “fiduciary duty” to all parishioners, which obliged them to “act with undivided loyalty in the interests of that parishioner, including by not promoting the interests of the Diocese (and/or of the Catholic Church) at the expense of the interests of the parishioner”.

That fiduciary duty meant the church was obliged to protect the best interests of its child parishioners.

“The plaintiffs plead that the Diocese breached the fiduciary duties by appointing Coffey parish priest and maintaining him in that appointment, thus enabling him to perpetrate the abuse,” Keogh wrote.

The church also tried and failed to have this argument – a new concept in such cases – struck out.

Complete Article HERE!