Sex and Religion

Finding Religion and Spirituality in Population, Gender, Sexuality, and Reproductive Health Advocacy in the Philippines.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Can the Catholic church but insurance for Sex Abuse?

Insurance for Sex AbuseA policy tailor-made for the Catholic Church.
By Michelle Tsai
Posted Monday, July 16, 2007, at 6:43 PM ET

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahoney. Click image to expand. Cardinal Roger Mahony
Over the weekend the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to settle lawsuits from hundreds of sex-abuse victims. About $250 million will come out of the diocese bank account; $60 million will come from other religious orders and another $123 million from litigation with orders that chose to sit out the deal. Insurance companies will pay the remaining $227 million. Hold on—can churches buy insurance for sex abuse?

Yes. Like any business, churches, synagogues, and other religious organizations purchase insurance to protect themselves from lawsuits, like discrimination claims or negligence charges against officers. Since the spike in sex-abuse lawsuits in the mid-1980s, churches have also had the option to take out extra liability policies for damages related to sexual misconduct. These policies don't come cheap, and they protect just the institutions, for the most part. Insurers will mount a legal defense for accused individuals, but the support extends only so far: Perpetrators are on their own if they're found guilty or choose to settle out of court.

But insurance companies created these abuse-specific policies only after the lawsuits of the mid-80s forced them to make large payouts. Until then, general liability policies didn't specifically rule out sex abuse, so churches that needed to pay damages argued that insurers should pay. Thus, even though sex-abuse insurance is available today, many of the big payouts actually come from the churches' general policies, since the abuse happened decades ago. (The Los Angeles settlement probably came out of these general policies.)

According to GuideOne, a major insurer for Protestant churches, most of its clients choose $100,000 of coverage for sex abuse. That might cost a small church with one pastor as little as $100 a year. A much larger church that also runs, say, a day-care center, might pay $6,000 to have $1 million in coverage. Religious organizations buying a lot of coverage may need to prove that they're taking precautions to lower the risk of sex abuse. GuideOne, for instance, requires some churches to conduct criminal background checks on employees, to allow volunteers to work with kids only after they've completed six months of service with the church, and to make sure that no child is ever left alone with just one adult. The policy won't cover everything. Insurers may put a limit on how much they will pay in aggregate, or for each case. (Recently, three major Protestant insurers reported that they receive 260 reports of child abuse every year.)

Partly because of rising insurance costs, a small number of churches are foregoing the coverage. More than half of Catholic dioceses buy their insurance from Catholic Mutual, which operates a self-insurance fund for the Catholic Church in North America. No matter who forks over the money for damages, awards today are so large that some dioceses are facing bankruptcy.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Authoritative Meaning as Intentional (by Karol)

"I don't know what you mean by "glory,"'Alice said.Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. Of course you don't -- till I tell you. I meant there's a nice knock-down argument for you! But "glory" doesn't mean "a nice knock-down argument,Alice objected. When I use a word, Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less. The question is,' said Alice, `whether you CAN make words mean so many different things.'`The question is,' said Humpty Dumpty, `which is to be master - - that's all."(Lewis Caroll, Through the Looking Glass)

Poor substitutes-
always imprecise,
clumsy symbols
that serve us well.

What would we be without it,
when in it,
through it and around it,
we make our places,
arrange ourselves and others,
look inward, reach out,
find comfort, give comfort,
divide and unite,
and try to make sense.

Feeble as are our attempts are,
some often get carried away.

Mesmerized by our creation,
what fed imagination
can also end up containing it.

An insidious despot without an army,
with authority to proclaim the rules
utters not to include
but to exclude -
passing it off as tradition,
invoking it an act of inclusion.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

RGS Batch Crispina

The 8th RGS workshop participants, Batch Crispina! Remember who Crispina is? She is one of the girls in the movie Magdalene Sisters that we show during RGS workshops. She's the one who shouted "You're not a son of God..." Ever wonder why this group picked up the name Crispina?

When roles roll and rollick

A yebrows met en masse at the Vatican City when former British Prime Minister Tony Blair received Holy Communion from Pope Benedict XVI, an indication of his newfound Catholic faith. But more stunning are his plans of applying as a permanent ordained deacon! He discussed this possibility of being an ordained minister with a priest in a neighboring parish in his headquarters in Chequers, Canon Timothy Russ. This revelation would soon be contained in a book written by Garry O' Connor.

So, what we have here is a politician wanting to become an ordained minister and here in the Philippines, we have an ordained minister who is now a governor of a province in the north. The Catholic News of Singapore in its June 24 issue even put the news article about Blair's intentions and Fr. Ed Panlilio's victory next to each other. My good friend Fr. Johnson Fernandez, editor of the said news magazine, must be feeling naughty! In fact, however, it would seem that governor-elect Father Panlilio inspired some popular clerics worldwide that the Archbishop of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, is running for president in 2008 in Paraguay. Despite the strong prohibitions of the Vatican, Bishop Lugo's ears are glued wide open to the popular call of the Paraguayans. Again, the saga of former Salesian priest, Jean Paul Aristide who became president of Haiti, would soon repeat itself in history.

Worth emulating, however, with the good priest is what every winning or losing politician should do — that is to reconcile with his political opponents. Father Panlilio had been doing unity visits and talks with his Vice Gov. Joseller Guiao, vice gubernatorial candidate of losing aspirant Lilia Pineda, with Lubao Mayor Dennis Pineda and Sta. Rita Mayor Yolanda Pineda of the Pineda clan in Pampanga. And last Thursday, Among Ed was lunching with his kabalen, Mrs. Gloria Arroyo. Father Panlilio must be feeling too much weight already bringing around his bullet vest. It's time to take it off.

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) is coming up with guidelines on the proper attire inside the church especially during liturgical celebrations. Of course, initially, some Catholics are howling over some "drastic" measures such as the banning of blue jeans and pants for women. As we were discussing its merits and demerits in one night out we had, a feisty middle-aged lady blurted out, "How about you priests leading the pack….how about wearing your black polo with clerical collars and that white thing on it or just wearing your cassocks all the time." And oh boy, she was gazing at my collarless black and red printed shirt! She had a mouthful but she was right. Somebody has to roll the ball.

Then there is that news from the Vatican that efforts should be made by all parishes to celebrate at least once a week a Latin Mass! If the authors of this decree think that this would be an airtight solution to the exodus of many Catholics to other Christian evangelical groups, then not only a second but a deeper thought should be employed by these church strategists because definitely it wouldn't work. But if conservative liturgists would insist on a Puritanistic recoil of a church perceived to have gone too liberal and ultra-modern, then again, some deeper thought is in order. The universality of the church should not be compromised by such moves from the hierarchy such as discriminatory impositions like impractical dress codes and Masses said in a dead language. Are we retracing the medieval times when the poor and un-attired are relegated to the back pews or even outside the church doors, while the nobles in their proper royal attires are singing the Kyrie Eleison in Gregorian chants, while the marginalized are mumbling their own personal prayers and intentions. The church has gained much in its ecumenical efforts to adopt and relate not only to its faithful members but also to its counterparts in the world of religion, these conservative outlooks and discriminatory impositions may just antagonize the efforts of greater unity in the church.


Sunday, July 08, 2007

Alienating the Faithful?

Pope approves wider use of old Latin Mass

Last updated 06:27am (Mla time) 07/09/2007

VATICAN CITY -- In a major gesture to traditional, conservative Roman Catholics, Pope Benedict XVI on Saturday authorized the wider use of the old Latin Mass, dismissing fears that its revival could divide the Church or dilute the reforms of the Second Vatican Council that made standard worship in the languages of Catholics around the world.

Benedict stressed that he was not negating Vatican II by removing restrictions on celebrating the old rite, known as the Tridentine Mass. In it, the priest faces away from the congregation and prays, sometimes in a whisper, in Latin, a language unfamiliar to most of the world’s one billion Roman Catholics.

The Pope’s decision nevertheless overruled the objections of liberal-minded Catholics and angered Jews because the Tridentine rite contains a prayer for their conversion.

Benedict issued a document authorizing parish priests to celebrate the Tridentine Mass if a “stable group of faithful” requests it. Currently, the local bishop must approve such requests -- an obstacle that supporters of the rite say has greatly limited its availability.

But the Pope said that the change could both heal rifts with traditionalist groups that favor the Latin Mass as well as reconnect the Church with a 1,500-year-old form of worship that faded since the Second Vatican Council, which ended in 1965.

“What earlier generations held as sacred, remains sacred and great for us, too, and it cannot be, all of a sudden, entirely forbidden or even considered harmful,” he wrote.

Reaching out

In reviving the rite, Benedict was reaching out to the followers of an excommunicated ultratraditionalist, the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who split with the Vatican over Vatican II, particularly the introduction of the New Mass celebrated in the vernacular.

The Vatican excommunicated Lefebvre in 1988 after he consecrated four bishops without Rome’s consent. The bishops were excommunicated as well.

Benedict has been eager to reconcile with Lefebvre’s group, the Society of St. Pius X, which has demanded freer use of the old Mass as a precondition for normalizing relations. The group’s other precondition is the removal of the excommunication decrees.

The current head of the society, Bishop Bernard Fellay, welcomed Benedict’s document in a statement. He said he hoped “that the favorable climate established by the new dispositions of the Holy See” would eventually allow other doctrinal disputes that emerged from Vatican II to be discussed, including ecumenism, religious liberty and the sharing of power with bishops.

Benedict has made no secret of his affinity for the Tridentine rite and has long said the faithful should have greater access to it.

But more liberal Catholics have suggested that in liberalizing the use of a rite that symbolized the pre-Vatican II Church, Benedict was sending a strong message that Vatican II was not the “break from the past” that some view it as being.

Benedict’s document also angered Jews, since the Tridentine rite contains a prayer on Good Friday of Easter Week calling for the conversion of Jews. The Anti-Defamation League called the move a “body blow to Catholic-Jewish relations,” the Jewish news agency JTA reported.

The Simon Wiesenthal Center urged Benedict to publicly point out that such phrases “are now entirely contrary to the teaching of the Church.”

In addition to Jewish concerns, bishops in France and liberal-minded clergy and faithful elsewhere had expressed concerns that allowing freer use of the Tridentine liturgy would imply a negation of Vatican II and create divisions in parishes since two different liturgies would be celebrated.

In gentle but firm language, the Pope acknowledged in an accompanying letter to bishops the depth of opposition to the change, voiced in recent months by European bishops and Jewish groups.

“This fear is unfounded,” he said even as he proposed, in fact, a review after three years to determine “if truly serious difficulties come to light.”

Benedict said the New Mass remained the “normal” form of Mass while the Tridentine version was an “extraordinary” one that would probably only be sought by a few Catholics.

The document “doesn’t impose any return to the past, it doesn’t mean any weakening of the authority of the council nor the authority and responsibility of bishops,” Vatican spokesperson Rev. Federico Lombardi said.

Divisions seen

But Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the head of the French Episcopal Conference, warned that the move would create divisions.

“There will be resistance from both sides,” to the new decision, Ricard told Le Monde. “For some, asking for a Mass in Latin will seem like a standard aimed at testing the priests’ loyalty to the Pope,” Ricard warned.

The liberal lay Church group, We Are Church, said that the move represented a step back from Vatican II and could set an even more conservative direction for the Church. It warned of a “new split within many parishes, diocese and finally the entire Roman Catholic Church.”

“It is to be feared that while it appears to only be about the old Mass, in reality it is an attempt to set the Catholic Church on a new old course,” the group said.

Ricard said the move did not mean the entire Church was becoming more fundamentalist.

“Just because you have in a family a cousin who is a bit different, whom you tolerate and accept, doesn’t mean that the whole family adopts his positions or his way of life,” he said. Reports from Associated Press and New York Times News Service