As a kid, Fr. Bryan Massingale was an altar server at his predominantly-Black Catholic school. When he served at Masses with one priest in particular, nuns who worked at the school kept a close watch on Massingale and the other boys, never leaving them unattended.
Years later, Massingale saw that priest's name on a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse. It dawned on him that the sisters were trying their best to protect him and other children.
"If not for the efforts of those sisters, I could have been one of that man's victims," said Massingale, a professor of theological and social ethics at Fordham University, in a panel on clergy sexual abuse in Black Catholic communities.
Systemic racism in the Catholic Church compounds the impact of the sexual abuse crisis on Black Catholics and makes it more difficult for Black survivors to speak up or get justice, speakers said.
- A previous Fordham panel focused on reckoning the abuse of Native American children at Catholic boarding schools.
"Someone must have dropped zealotry pills into the water supply at the Villanova University law school," writes NCR political columnist Michael Sean Winters in his latest column.
The conference was focused on the challenge Joe Biden's presidency poses to the Catholic faith, emphasizing the need to deny Biden Communion. What the conference showed though, says Winters, "is that most of the speakers are confused in ways that are unique, and common, to ideologues."
The three speakers, Patrick Brennan, Francis Maier and Fr. Gerald Murray, all agreed that Biden's position on abortion means that he should not present himself for Holy Communion. Winters wonders if the canon law of the church is open to a variety of interpretations.
"The problem — and it is a frightening one — is that these three speakers do not seem to understand what canon law is," Winters writes. "The canon law of the Catholic Church is modeled on Roman law. In the United States — and most Anglophone countries — we grow up in a common law tradition. If you confuse the one with the other, you get this doctrinaire, and Jansenistic, understanding of the Catholic faith. It is not like confusing an apple with an orange. It is like confusing an apple with an orangutan."
- Read national correspondent Christopher White's report on the Villanova University conference, titled "Taking Measure of the 'Biden Effect': American Catholics and the President."
- NCR columnist Franciscan Fr. Daniel Horan writes
about the spiritual benefits of film photography, which has recently
gained traction among young adults, most of whom had only known the
digital world of smart phones and social media. "I am grateful for this
resurgence of analog photography in general, but I am also encouraged by
the spiritual benefits that come with slowing down and seeing anew," he
- At EarthBeat, read about a webinar on the missionary work of the Amazon as a "collision of different worldviews and of different worlds."
- ICYMI: The Wisconsin Department of Justice is opening a statewide investigation of abuse by clergy and faith leaders within the state's five dioceses.