David S. Toolan, S.J., an associate editor of America for many years, died of cancer on July 16 at the Jesuit infirmary at Fordham University in New York. He was 66.
Father Toolan joined America in 1989 after working at Commonweal for 10 years as an associate editor and book review editor.
David was a brilliant writer with wide-ranging interests, said Thomas J. Reese, S.J., editor in chief of America. He wrote about politics, literature, theology, science, spirituality and the environment. He was the author of Facing West from California: A Jesuit’s Journey into New Age Consciousness (1987) and At Home in the Cosmos (2001), a Catholic Book Club selection that received a Catholic Press Association award.
Father Toolan was born in 1935 in Portland, Me., the son of New Jersey State Senator John E. Toolan and Gertrude Maher of Portland. After graduating from Georgetown University, he attended Columbia University Law School for one year and then entered the Society of Jesus in 1958. Ordained a priest in 1967, he earned a doctorate in theology from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in 1970.Religious-Order Priests Removed Under Child Protection Charter
When the U.S. Catholic bishops adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People on June 14, which barred from church ministry any priest who has sexually abused a minor, many commentators said it did not apply to the nation’s 15,000 religious-order priestsone-third of the priests in the United States. But in fact, the charter has been used to remove a number of religious priests from parishes around the country.
Ted Keating, a Marist Father who is executive director of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, explained that under church law, whenever an order assigns one of its priests to a parish under the direction of a bishop, the bishop has the right to say yea or nay both in the original assignment and with regard to the priest’s continuing presence. He said a protocol to which the bishops and major superiors of U.S. religious orders agreed in 1995 already requires religious superiors to inform the local bishop of any past allegations against a priest if the order plans to assign the priest to a post in that diocese.
The bishops’ new charter also requires such notification to the local bishop, even if the priest in question is only being sent to reside in a diocese, without any ministerial or apostolic duties.
Father Keating said a survey done in the mid-1990’s indicated that one-third of U.S. priests in religious ordersabout 5,000are assigned primarily to parish ministry. Even if a priest is assigned to other posts in an order’s work, such as teaching or administering a religious house, he said, in order for a priest to operate in public ministry in that diocese, to say Mass, to represent himself as a priest and do the normal ministries of a priest, he needs faculties or authorization from the local bishop.
When the C.M.S.M. holds its annual meeting on Aug. 7-10 in Philadelphia, he said, most of the meeting will be devoted to the previously established theme, the mission of the church as a challenge to the mission of religious life. But nearly a full day of the meeting will be devoted to membership issues, and obviously the big issue there will be the charter of the bishops and how we’ll deal with it, Father Keating said.
When I say that, I don’t mean that we’re going to be making rules that apply to major superiors, he said. He explained that the C.M.S.M. cannot bind its major superiors. It has even less canonical authority to do that than the bishops’ conference does. We’re going to be helping to facilitate and resource and inform and create a conversation around how major superiors will do itthat is, respond to the charter.
Father Keating said the real question for religious orders regarding priests who have sexually abused minors is not in the area of reassigning them to ministries, since the policies of orders already require compliance with diocesan policies, and diocesan policies nationwide now prohibit reassignment. The real question, frankly, between the major superiors and the charter is what happens afterward under Article 5, he said. In that article the charter sets rules governing whether a priest who has sexually abused a minor should be laicized or, for serious reasons such as age or ill health, only be barred from all ministry and forbidden to represent himself publicly as a priest.
The question is going to be what we do with men after there’s been a proven allegation.... As far as forced laicization or defrocking, that’s going to be a different issue in religious life, because we have a different relationship with those men than the bishops have with diocesan priests, Father Keating said.Danneels: U.S. Bishops Could Have Handled Scandal
Belgium’s Cardinal Godfried Danneels said U.S. bishops might have been better off handling a clerical sex abuse scandal on their own rather than holding a summit meeting at the Vatican in April. The summit demonstrated to the public the seriousness with which Pope John Paul II and the U.S. prelates viewed the issue, but generally bishops should be able to solve their own problems in their own countries, he said. The comments of Cardinal Danneels of Mechelen-Brussels, president of the Belgian bishops’ conference, were reported in the June issue of Il Regno, an Italian Catholic magazine.
Per se, it is not mistaken to call the cardinals to Rome for such a serious problem, especially since it showed that the U.S. prelates were not avoiding their responsibilities, the cardinal said.
Bishops’ conferences must, in any case, be able to face problems by themselves, on location. But I believe panic played a large role in the decision to hold the summit in Rome, he said. Maybe all this could have been done in loco’ [on location], like other bishops’ conferences have done, he said, responding to a question that cited the example of the French, English and Irish bishops, who drafted policies on sex abuse by clerics.
He called clerical sex abuse a serious sin, especially because it involved the abuse of religious power. It is good that there be maximum transparency [in handling abuse cases]. That will do much good for the church [because] it will be purified, the cardinal said.
Cardinal Danneels said he was struck by the number of cases in America, but he blamed the media in the West for hunting for scandals, especially those involving ministers of the church in the field of sexuality.... A certain feeling has spread in recent years that the church protects, for example, pedophile priests. It is true that the church has never made scandals public, but it is excessive to conclude that the church has hidden the reality, he said. Certainly this doesn’t mean that one should pretend nothing has happened. The problem exists and is extremely serious. It calls the church to its responsibilities, he added.Bruskewitz Says Charter Won’t Address Problem of Dissent
In an appearance on the Eternal Word Television Network, Bishop Fabian W. Bruskewitz of Lincoln, Neb., said the plan for addressing clergy sexual abuse approved by the bishops in June was a hasty reaction to media pressure that will not address the core problemdissent from church teaching on sexual morality. Bishop Bruskewitz said the charter adopted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was too quickly crafted out of a media-driven desire to make it appear as if some very effective and strong action was being taken.
As a result, some shortcuts were taken, he said, including: failing to address the lack of moral teaching, which he believes is at the core of the problem; failing to include sanctions on bishops who protected abusive priests; giving too little direction about who will be on diocesan lay review boards; and creating a risk of double jeopardy for priests who now face removal for offenses of long ago that were already addressed.
Bishop Bruskewitz said dissent from the church’s teaching on sexual morality is an underlying problem of sexual abuse by priests. Such dissent stretches back to the 1960’s-era opposition by some prominent theologians to the papal encyclical Humanae Vitae, he said. One dissents from one aspect of sexual morality that the church authentically teaches, and declares that the church is in errorlet us say about artificial birth prevention, he said, Then it’s a very small leap of imagination to say the church is very likely wrong in other areas of sexual morality.
At the bishops’ meeting, Bishop Bruskewitz unsuccessfully attempted to have the bishops approve a provision for studying any relationship between sexual abuse by priests and allowing homosexuals in seminaries. He said he thinks other bishops were reluctant to discuss his suggestion because they consider the issue a tangent to the main subject. It is not a tangent, he said during the television program. The homosexual issue is the issue. Bishop Bruskewitz said his unscientific conclusion is that most sexual abuse by priests is against adolescent boys and therefore is rooted in societal acceptance of homosexuality. He said the church’s teachings about sexual morality need to be emphasized more and that homosexuals have no place in the priesthood.
He also said sexual abuse by priests has been reduced to disease and mental illness, and as a result they don’t see it as a moral and spiritual evil. That’s where I think the problem is.
Participating in the same program by telephone, Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, Ill., said allowing homosexuals in the priesthood is putting them into constant proximation of the occasion of grave sin since priests are regularly in close proximity with children and young men. Toleration of same-sex attractions in seminaries has led to a kind of general laxity about the whole of Catholic morality, Bishop Doran said. We profess all these things but wink at abuses.
He said he believes it is possible for homosexuals to be chaste and celibate, but said he does not know whether it is right for the church to put them in the priesthood, where there is constant temptation. Bishop Bruskewitz said there are just some fields that should not be open to certain people. I don’t think drug addicts should be pharmacists, I don’t think alcoholics should be bartenders, he said. I don’t think kleptomaniacs should be bank tellers and I don’t think homosexuals should be priests.News Briefs
Archbishop Sean Brady of Armagh, Northern Ireland, called the Irish Republican Army’s apology for killing civilians during its 30-year military campaign against British rule a very significant further step toward peace.
The situation in Sudan is urgent and deteriorating, putting 1.7 million lives at risk from famine, disease and war, a Catholic Relief Services official told a U.S. Senate subcommittee.
Zambia’s bishops have expressed their deep concern at the high-level corruption that has seen the resignations of the southern African country’s chief justice and foreign minister and a court case against the former intelligence chief.
Cardinal Joachim Meisner of Cologne has asked the Christian Democratic Union to drop the word Christian from its name after it appointed an unmarried mother as its campaign spokeswoman on family issues.
Mexico City’s Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrerahas accused U.S. media of carrying out a systematic campaign of persecution against the churchsimilar to those in ancient Rome and Nazi Germanyin its reporting on clerical sex abuse. Cardinal Rivera called Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston a great friend and defended him as a first-class person and a true pastor.
Bishop Walter F. Sullivan of Richmond has opened a diocesan tribunal for the cause for canonization of the eight Spanish Jesuits who were put to death in 1571 defending their Catholic faith near what is now Yorktown and Williamsburg.
The Vatican warned seven women who claimed they were ordained priests that they would be excommunicated unless they acknowledged the nullity of their ordination and asked forgiveness for causing scandal. The Vatican condemned the ordination that took place on a Danube River pleasure boat on June 29 as an invalid simulation of a sacrament, a grave offense against the church and a serious attack on the unity of the church. The ordination ceremony was performed by self-styled Archbishop Romulo Antonio Braschi, an Argentine identified in the Vatican statement as a schismatic bishop. The bishop founded the breakaway Catholic-Apostolic Charismatic Church of Jesus the King in 1970.
Rebels of the Lord’s Resistance Army attacked a Catholic mission in northern Uganda, looting and burning property.
Two Rwandan nuns have appealed their conviction for taking part in the African country’s 1994 genocide, claiming they had an unfair trial in Belgium.
The Vatican posted its first budget deficit in nine years, attributing the $3 million shortfall mainly to a downturn in the world’s economy aggravated by the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Madagascar’s Cardinal Armand Gaetan Razafindratandra called his country’s former president, Didier Ratsiraka, a terrorist and said the church backs President Marc Ravalomanana in a continuing dispute over presidential elections.
The Archdiocese of Boston announced on June 27 that it is slashing its central operating budget by one-third, from $24 million to $16 million, in the new fiscal year. The same day it notified 15 chancery employees that their positions were being eliminated.
Cathleen A. Cleaver, director of planning and information for the bishops’ Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities, urged quick congressional action on legislation to ban partial-birth abortions and on the Abortion Non-Discrimination Act, which is designed to protect health care providers who do not wish to participate in abortions.
In Europe, church leaders deplored a European Parliament report demanding easy access to abortion in member-states and countries hoping to join the European Union.