Boston College theologian Richard Lennan returns as speaker for 2020 Voice of the Faithful Conference

BOSTON, Mass., Jul. 13, 2020 – Voice of the Faithful is welcoming back Boston College theology professor Fr. Richard Lennan as a speaker at its 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church, a virtual Zoom gathering that takes place Oct. 3. VOTF members and others will meet to promote their visions of a just Church 18 years after The Boston Globe brought to light widespread clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston and Voice of the Faithful was founded. After nearly two decades, VOTF continues to address the scandal.

Lennan is professor of systematic theology and Professor Ordinarius in BC’s School of Theology and Ministry. He will speak about the new draft Church governance document which Australia’s bishops will consider this year. Fr. Lennan helped develop the document, which promises to be a guide toward a more lay-participatory Church.

Lennan grew up in Newcastle, Australia, and has been a priest of the diocese of Maitland-Newcastle since 1983. He has taught systematic theology in the Catholic Institute of Sydney and served as president of the Australian Catholic Theological Association. He began teaching at Weston Jesuit School of Theology in 2007 and continued teaching at Boston College after Weston became part of BC. Lennan currently directs STM’s Sacred Theology Licensure program, serves on the editorial board of Theological Studies, and chairs the steering committee of the Karl Rahner Society.

Together with two BC colleagues, Lennan wrote “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” about which he spoke at last year’s VOTF conference. The document calls for reexamining the formation process for diocesan priests and eradicating the priesthood’s embedded clerical culture. Lennan also is the author of two books, and he has edited five others.

Also speaking at this year’s VOTF conference will be Catholic studies scholar Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., who will offer her vision of a just Church. Zagano has lectured widely in this country and abroad. On August 2, 2016, Pope Francis appointed her to the Papal Commission for the Study of Women in the Diaconate, which convened in Rome November 2016. She has published hundreds of articles and is the author or editor of twenty books in religious studies, including award-winning work on women in the diaconate. She currently is senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University.

Zagano is a recipient of the VOTF Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award, which recognizes exemplary lay leaders who enthusiastically use their gifts in the Church’s service. She also has received the Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice from The Paulist Center Community in Boston for “her prolific body of work that has constantly echoed the cry of the poorest in our society for dignity and for justice, both inside and outside the Church.”

Conference information and registration is available by clicking here. VOTF expects to add additional speakers to its conference schedule, as well as updates from VOTF leaders on the progress of the organization’s programs and initiatives. Registrants also will gather virtually in small groups on Friday evening, Oct. 2, for the opportunity to meet other attendees and discuss issues affecting the Church today.


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jul. 13, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


TOP STORIES

Annual audit shows more than 4,400 allegations of clergy abuse reported
More than 4,400 allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy were reported during the year ending June 30, 2019(link is external), a significant jump from the previous auditing period, according to a report on diocesan and eparchial compliance with the U.S. bishops’ ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.’ Released June 25, the 17th annual report from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection states that 4,220 child sexual abuse survivors filed 4,434 allegations. In the 2017-2018 audit period, 1,381 survivors filed 1,451 allegations.” By Catholic News Service

Pope moves against Polish bishop accused of hiding predators
“Pope Francis has ordered a Polish bishop to leave his central diocese(link is external) and let someone else run it while he is under investigation for covering up cases of sexual abuse that were featured in a second clergy abuse documentary that has rocked Poland’s Catholic Church. Francis on Thursday (Jun. 25) named the archbishop of Lodz, Grzegorz Rys, to temporarily take over as head of the Kalisz diocese.” By Nicole Winfield and Monika Scislowska, Associated Press

Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds
“A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible(link is external). Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday (Jun. 24) by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican

Money for trauma
“The surreal pink and orange hues of New Norcia shoot up out of the sparse Western Australian landscape, just shy of two hours north of Perth. A self-styled quirky stop-off for tourists, it is home to Australia’s only monastic town. New Norcia is also home to one of Australia’s worst records of alleged historical abuse of any institution in the country(link is external).” By Jeremy Story Carter, ABC Australia

Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal
“A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy(link is external) in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed. Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Big differences in diocesan financial accountability says priests’ report on transparency
“‘Good governance demands that the prevailing clericalist culture of secrecy must end,’ says Soline Humbert … According to a ‘Transparency Table’ published this week (Jun. 21) on the Association of Catholic Priests’ website, the diocese of Ossory is the best in Ireland for publishing information about diocesan finances, with the Diocese of Cork and Ross listed in second place … The Transparency Table uses scores based on ten criteria developed by the Voice of the Faithful group in the United States(link is external), including the availability of diocesan financial accounts on diocesan websites, publication of Diocesan Finance Committee Membership and the ease of access that a diocese provides about financial information and their operations.” By Cian Mollow, CatholicIreland.net

CARDINALS

Spanish cardinals offer their red hats to women, calling the zucchetto an ‘illusion’
“Three Spanish-born cardinals on Wednesday (Jun. 24) offered up their ‘red hats and cardinal rings’ to any woman who wants to be a member of the Catholic Church’s most exclusive club(link is external). Yet, there’s a catch: they argue that there’s a need to rediscover the priesthood as Jesus perceived it, saying ‘it’s about service, not power.’ ‘Women, like men, have to rediscover baptism and the dignity of being children of God that the baptism gives us,’ said Cardinal Cristobal Lopez, archbishop of Rabat. ‘Our joy is not in being bishops or cardinals, ordained or not. Our joy must come from being children of God.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINAL PELL

Cardinal Pell to publish prison diary
“Cardinal George Pell is set to publish his prison diary musing on life in solitary confinement, the Church, politics and sport(link is external). Catholic publisher Ignatius Press says the first instalment of the 1000-page diary would likely be published in 2021. Ignatius’ editor Fr Joseph Fessio sent a letter to email subscribers asking for donations, saying Ignatius wanted to give Cardinal Pell ‘appropriate advances’ for the diary to help offset his legal debts. The publisher envisages putting out three to four volumes and the diary becoming a ‘spiritual classic.’” By CathNews.com

PRIESTS

Despite Vatican’s ruling, Virginia priest who blogs about clergy sex abuse remains defiant
“A Catholic Diocese of Richmond priest who frequently blogs criticism over the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) had his petition to remain the pastor of two southwest Virginia parishes rejected by the Vatican. Rev. Mark D. White was suspended from the ministry by Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout last month after being ordered in April to leave two parishes, St. Joseph’s in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount, and relocate to a retreat center in Abingdon, Virginia.” By Dean Mirshahi, WRIC-TV8 News

WOMEN DEACONS

On women deacons, U.S. expert says Pope waiting for more forceful demand from faithful
“On the women deacons issue, a US expert has said that the Pope is waiting for a more forceful demand for that ministry to come from the faithful(link is external). On the question of women’s ordination, ‘I think the Holy Father is waiting for the voice of the Holy Spirit to speak more loudly in the Church, and I think it’s up to the People of God [to decide they want female deacons] and to explain that to their bishops, because the bishops seem to all be waiting for someone else to tell them that it’s ok to ordain a woman as a deacon,” Phyllis Zagano, a professor at Hofstra University in New York, told America in an interview July 1.” By Mada Jurado, NovenaNews.com

VATICAN

Vatican removes Foxhoven, convicted sex offender, from priesthood
“The Vatican has removed a man serving 12 years in prison for sexual battery from the priesthood(link is external). Henry Christopher Foxhoven pled guilty to three counts of sexual battery in November 2018 in Athens County. The Vatican dismissed him from the priesthood in March and informed Bishop Jeffrey Monforton officially June 2 and Foxhoven on June 19.” By WTOV-TV9

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese sees 54% increase in financial transparency rating.
“‘As the recipient of your generosity, the Diocese takes the responsibility of carefully managing your gifts very seriously. We are committed to the highest standards of good stewardship, accountability and transparency.’ These words from Bishop Ronald Gainer were reaffirmed at the end of 2019 when the Voice of the Faithful Annual Diocesan Online Financial Transparency Study(link is external) was released. This study, annually conducted by the independent VOTF organization, reports on the financial transparency of dioceses and archdioceses throughout the United States. In 2019, the Diocese of Harrisburg received a total score of 86% out of 100%, which is a 54% increase over the Diocese’s score in 2018. The report analyzed the 2018 financial report posted to the Diocesan website.” By Diocese of Harrisburg

Ex-Priest Accused of Using Parish Money to Buy TV, Furniture
“A former Roman Catholic priest in Rhode Island is accused of using parish money to make $40,000 in purchases(link is external) before leaving the priesthood in 2019. Steven Matthew Glover, 42, of Coventry, has been charged with larceny, obtaining money under false pretenses and fraudulent use of a credit card, Rhode Island State Police announced Wednesday.” By Associated Press in U.S. News & World Report

Former Comptroller of Catholic Diocese of Steubenville pleads guilty to tax crimes, embezzlement
“The former comptroller of the Catholic Diocese of Steubenville pleaded guilty(link is external) in U.S. District Court to failing to pay the Internal Revenue Service payroll taxes withheld from the paychecks of diocesan employees, to filing false tax returns and also embezzling $299,500 in diocesan funds between 2008 and 2017. David A. Franklin, 67, pleaded guilty today to one count of willful failure to account for and pay over employment tax, one count of making a false income tax return and one count of wire fraud.” By U.S. Attorney’s Office, Southern District of Ohio

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Survey shows who may be leaving the Catholic Church
“A Pew survey earlier this year found that 10 percent of Americans claim to be former Catholics. While Catholics remain at 25 percent of the U.S. population, it is immigration that is keeping the numbers up. Who are the Catholics who are leaving?(link is external) Are they the critical and disloyal? The data point to a more complex picture. To pursue this question, let’s begin by a look at Albert Hirschman’s classic book, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty, which analyzes customer behavior and categorizes it according to two dimensions: critical or noncritical, and loyal or nonloyal.” By Anthony J. Pogorelc, William D’Antonio (from a 2008 article in National Catholic Reporter)

VOICES

Unrepentant
“Despite revelations of clergy sex abuse and promises of transparency, a prominent Jesuit university is doing little to punish priests who cross the line(link is external). In this follow-up investigation about the Jesuit order in the Pacific Northwest, reporter Emily Schwing has two stories about Gonzaga University, which among Jesuit schools has the highest number of predatory priests who worked as staff and faculty. The first story takes us to a remote Alaska Native village where a prominent priest was accused of sex abuse by four young men.” By RevealNews.org

Expert warns child protection took ‘severe blow’ during pandemic
“In a webinar on child protection, a top Catholic expert warned that the risks of online child sexual abuse or exploitation has increased significantly during the coronavirus pandemic(link is external), yet attention to the issue has faded. “I believe honestly that safeguarding and safeguarding minors in the Church, in the States, in the (other) countries, has suffered a severe blow in terms of public attention and in terms of public funding and other funding,” German Jesuit Father Hans Zollner said June 18.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Opinion: Why lawmakers should reform law to help victims of childhood sexual abuse
“I read with great disappointment the failure of Colorado state lawmakers to once again take action(link is external) which would have granted access to our legal system for child victims of sexual abuse. It was right for victims and advocates to pull support from House Bill 1296, eliminating the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse only going forward. The bill as proposed, failed to address the needs of past child sexual abuse victims.” By Mark Crawford, The Colorado Sun

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

List of Marianist members found to have sexually abused a minor
“Marianist Provincial Father Oscar Vasquez along with Assistant Provincial Brother Bernard Ploeger announce the publication of a list of names of Province members found to have sexually abused a minor(link is external).” By The Marianists, Province of the United States

Book is among scant print resources for Catholic sex abuse victims
“Given the sexual crimes by Catholic clergy that have come to light from 2002 onward, as well as increased societal awareness of the problem of child abuse in general, the paucity of officially approved Catholic literature for abuse survivors is shameful(link is external). Among the tiny handful of print resources that do exist for Catholics who were sexually victimized as children, “Veronica’s Veil,” published in 2014 with an imprimatur from Bishop Paul S. Loverde, then head of the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia, is by far the most ambitious.” By Dawn Eden Goldstein, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

FLORIDA

Sarasota County man sues priest, alleging sexual abuse
“A 33-year-old man has filed a lawsuit against a retired Catholic priest who lives in Ormond Beach, accusing the priest of sexually molesting him(link is external) two decades ago when the man was a teenager being held in a juvenile detention facility. Louis Reed’s suit is filed in Polk County Circuit Court against the Rev. Fred Ruse. An attorney for the former priest said his client did not want to discuss the lawsuit and denied the allegations in a phone interview, citing Reed’s criminal history to question his credibility.” By Frank Fernandez, Sarasota Herald-Tribune

IDAHO

Priest accused of abuse leading mass at Catholic church in McCall, popular podcast says
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise responded Wednesday (Jun. 24) after an investigation done by Reveal, a national public radio show and podcast, outlined past abuse allegations made against a current Idaho priest. The podcast, ‘Unrepentant,’ was posted online June 20 and outlines the story of two priests accused of abuse and their victims’ attempts to report it(link is external). One of those priests, the Rev. Bruno Segatta, is currently assigned to McCall’s Our Lady of the Lake Parish, Cascade’s St. Katharine Drexel Station and Riggins’ St. Jerome’s Chapel.” By Ruth Brown, Idaho Statesman

LOUISIANA

Victims’ group seeks dismissal of New Orleans archdiocese bankruptcy
“An organization of victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy is seeking dismissal of a bankruptcy filing by the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a Monday news release that its filing, submitted Friday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in New Orleans, claims the archdiocese filed the petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in ‘bad faith.’” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

In archdiocese bankruptcy case, creditors committee wants clergy abuse documents to be made public
“James Adams had helped run the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ fundraising arm for years, even serving as president of its board of directors, when his lawsuit alleging sexual abuse at the hands of a Metairie priest compelled him to step down(link is external) nearly two months ago. Now, Adams leads a different board: one formed after the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protections May 1, tasked with representing the interests of those who say they are owed money by the church, including fellow clergy abuse claimants.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield Diocese will institute series of reforms after sexual abuse claims against the late Bishop Christopher Weldon deemed credible
“Bishop Christopher Weldon’s name will be removed from Mercy Medical Center’s rehabilitation center(link is external), all honorable references, memorials and photographs of him will be removed from Catholic properties and his remains buried at the entrance of the Gate of Heaven Cemetery will be exhumed and moved to a less prominent location in the cemetery and his grave marked with an ordinary size stone.” By Jeanette DeForge, Springfield Republican

MISSOURI

Catholic order names alleged child sexual abusers who worked at St. Louis area high schools
A St. Louis-based Catholic order that staffs Catholic high schools across the country on Wednesday (Jun. 24) named former members who church officials say sexually abused children(link is external). The alleged abusers include 18 men who worked at several area schools. The disclosure by the Marianist Province of the United States follows a review of more than 2,500 personnel files, including allegations dating as far back as 1950, Provincial Fr. Oscar Vasquez said.” By Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

About-face: Wyoming prosecutor to re-examine ex-KC priest’s sex abuse case, police say
“A bizarre twist surfaced Friday (Jun. 19) in what was thought to be the closed criminal sexual abuse case of a former Kansas City priest who later became a Wyoming bishop(link is external). The prosecutor, whose office last week informed one of the alleged victims that no charges would be filed against retired Bishop Joseph Hart, is now going to re-examine the case, according to Cheyenne police, who conducted the investigation.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW JERSEY

Prestigious N.J. Catholic school hit with more lawsuits alleging students were sexually abused
“Six lawsuits alleging former employees at a prestigious Morris County Catholic school sexually abused minors(link is external) were filed Tuesday (Jul. 7) and more than a dozen additional lawsuits will be added in the coming weeks, an attorney representing the victims said. The lawsuits, filed against Delbarton School, an all-boys school in Morristown, St. Mary’s Abbey and the order that runs the school, St. Benedicts of New Jersey, allege that minors dating back to the 1960s were sexually abused by former employees of the school. The suits were filed in state Superior Court in Morris County.” By Joe Atmonavage, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Allegation of sexual abuse that led to U. Catholic Chaplain Father Gabriel Zeis’s resignation found ‘not credible’
“Former University Chaplain Father Gabriel Zeis, who resigned in September 2019 amid a sexual abuse allegation dating back to 1975, was cleared of the charge(link is external) on June 16 by an independent investigation, which found the allegation ‘not credible,’ the Diocese of Trenton has announced. According to a Sept. 11 email sent to student members of the Aquinas Institute, the University’s on-campus Catholic ministry, Zeis denied the allegation at the time but resigned immediately, both from his position as the ministry’s director and chaplain and as Diosecan Vicar for Catholic Education in the Diocese of Trenton.” By Marie-Rose Sheinerman, The Daily Princetonian

NEW YORK

Former Rochester Bishop Admits Allowing Priests Accused of Abuse to Continue Working
“Former Rochester Catholic Bishop Matthew Clark has admitted in a sworn deposition that he allowed priests accused of sexually abusing children to continue working(link is external). The Bishop was questioned in March as part of a bankruptcy hearing for the Diocese of Rochester and his deposition was made public on Monday (Jul. 6).Clark said there were a few occasions he was made aware of priests being sexually inappropriate with minors. He said in those cases, the priests were sent away for treatment and reassigned when they returned. According to Clark, in 1985 he came to the understanding that it was not wise to reassign priests who admitted to abusing minors.” By Spectrum News Staff

Former Binghamton priest and a former Catholic school teacher accused in new Child Victims Act lawsuit
“Former priest of St. Catherine of Siena in Binghamton, Father Edward C. Madore, has five cases against him, accusing him of years-worth of sexual abuse(link is external). He was ordained back in 1970 and stayed until 1987 when he left priesthood and disappeared from church records. Madore is believed to be somewhere in Upstate New York, but his specific whereabouts are unknown.” By WBNG-TV12 News

Syracuse Catholic Diocese’s move shifts sex abuse claims against priests to bankruptcy court
“More than 100 alleged victims of priest sex abuse in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse(link is external) will no longer get their day in state court. Instead, their cases will end up as part of the diocese’s bankruptcy case. The diocese filed for bankruptcy Friday (Jun. 19) after 38 more victims, including a grandmother, came forward with allegations of priest sex abuse under the Child Victims Act this week.” By Marnie Eisenstadt, Syracuse.com

NORTH CAROLINA

Bishop: North Carolina priest kept on leave on abuse claims
“A Catholic priest in North Carolina will remain on administrative leave after allegations of sexual abuse against him were revealed last year(link is external), the Charlotte diocese’s bishop said. Bishop Peter Jugis made the announcement to St. Matthew parishioners in a letter Wednesday (Jul. 8), writing that he had accepted the recommendation of the diocese’s Lay Review Board to keep the Rev. Patrick Hoare out of ministry, The Charlotte Observer reported.” By Associated Press

OHIO

Cleveland priest faces multiple federal child pornography charges
“A grand jury indicted a Catholic priest on federal charges involving child pornography and the sexual exploitation of children(link is external). The July 2 indictment charged Fr. Robert McWilliams, 40, a priest of the Diocese of Cleveland, with two counts of sex trafficking of a minor, three counts of pornography-related charges involving children and three counts of sexual exploitation of children.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Religious order releases list of members who allegedly abused kids, many with Dayton ties
“Leaders of the Marianists — a Catholic religious order with a 170-year history in Dayton — released a list Wednesday (Jun. 24) of 46 priests and brothers they say were found to have sexually abused children(link is external) since 1950 in the United States. The list includes 19 men with ties to the Dayton area and Marianist institutions such as the University of Dayton and Chaminade Julienne Catholic High School. Sixteen Marianists on the list served in the Province of Cincinnati, which was headquartered in Dayton until it merged with the other Marianist provinces in 2002.” By Josh Sweigert, Dayton Daily News

Columbus Diocese finds allegation of sex abuse of child by longtime priest to be credible
“An allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Rev. Kevin Lutz(link is external), a priest in Columbus and central Ohio for four decades who retired last year from St. Mary parish in German Village, has been found credible, the Diocese of Columbus announced Wednesday (Jun. 24). Bishop Robert J. Brennan has accepted a June 17 recommendation by the Diocesan Board of Review for the Protection of Children that Lutz’s name should be added to the published Diocesan list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor.” By Jim Wilhelm, By Dayton Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

Former Bucks County Priest Francis Trauger Behind Bars After Pleading Guilty To Molesting Two Altar Boys
“A former Catholic priest from Bucks County is now behind bars after pleading guilty Wednesday (Jul. 8) to child sex abuse charges(link is external). After his guilty plea, Francis Trauger, a former Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest, was ordered to spend one-and-a-half to three years in jail. The 74-year-old wore a mask, suit and tie and had nothing to say walking into the Bucks County Courthouse Wednesday afternoon.” By Matt Petrillo, CBS-TV3 News

Former Hellertown School Named in Sex Abuse Lawsuit
“A former St. Theresa School student is suing the school as well as the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown for sexual abuse he says he suffered at the hands of a teacher(link is external) in the mid-1970s. Mark Beaky, 59, of York, Pa., attended the now-defunct Hellertown school from 1971 to 1975. In a lawsuit filed in Lehigh County Court, he claims that beginning in 1974 he suffered sexual and other forms of abuse by his homeroom teacher at the time, Lawrence Haftle.” By Chris Haring, SauconSource.com

Suit against Scranton Diocese alleges abuse, cover-up by repeat-offender priest
“A Berks County man filed a lawsuit against the Diocese of Scranton on Tuesday Jul. 7), claiming the diocese conspired to cover up evidence of abuse(link is external) in order to protect the alleged abuser. The Times Leader does not identify the victims of sexual abuse, but the suit was filed through the man’s attorney, Daniel F. Monahan. According to the suit, the man was abused by the late Rev. Robert Caparelli while the plaintiff was between the ages of 10 and 13.” By Patrick Kernan, Times Leader

Archdiocese pays $50 million, so far, to abuse survivors
“The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out or approved more than $50 million so far to 222 clergy sex abuse survivors(link is external), according to a new report from the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program. The program was launched in November 2018 as a means of providing settlements to claimants alleging abuse by archdiocesan clergy. IRRP administrators, acting independently of the archdiocese, assess claims and offer compensation with no monetary cap, either individually or in total. Claims are considered regardless of how long ago the events in question occurred, or whether the statute of limitations had expired.” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

TEXAS

Two Catholic priests who worked in Fort Worth were accused of molesting kids elsewhere
“Two Marianist religious order priests accused of molesting children(link is external) in the United States worked in the Diocese of Fort Worth. But they aren’t on a list of clergy accused of sexual abuse of minors in the Fort Worth area because the alleged abuse didn’t occur here, according to a statement from the diocese. The Roman Catholic religious order based in St. Louis recently released the names of its members found to have sexually abused a minor since 1950 in the United States.” By Domingo Ramirez, Jr., Fort Worth Star-Telegram

VIRGINIA

Richmond diocese investigates abuse allegations against 4 more priests, including 1 who served in Roanoke
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced Monday (Jul. 6) it was reviewing allegations of sexual abuse made against four former priests(link is external), including one who spent part of his career in Roanoke. William Dinga Jr., who retired from the priesthood in 1990, was the subject of recent allegations of child sexual abuse connected to his time at Christ the King Catholic Church in Norfolk in 1986, according to a diocese statement.” By Alicia Petska, The Roanoke Times

WISCONSIN

Viroqua Catholic priest accused of sexual assault of a child appears in court
“A Viroqua Catholic priest accused of sexual assault of a child(link is external) appeared in Chippewa County Court today. 30-year-old Father Charles Richmond’s signature bond is set at $10,000. He’s facing Felony C charges for at least three violations of first or second-degree sexual assault of a 15-year-old girl while he was a faculty member at a Chippewa Falls High school.” By Molly Ringberg, WKBT-TV8 News

WYOMING

‘How do you say no to a bishop?’: Hart accusers say they survived years of trauma and institutional failures
“Joseph Hart became a priest in 1955, and over his 46-year career in Kansas City and Wyoming, he developed a reputation for ingratiating himself with families in his flock, especially brothers … Hart, the men say, groomed each of them and their families. They say he sexually abused them or their brothers on trips, during the sacrament of confession and in the church buildings(link is external) where the boys did Hart’s housework. He gave some of them alcohol, asked about their sex lives or showed them pornography, they recalled. He told them no one would believe them. He told John he wouldn’t see his father in Heaven if he told anyone.” By Seth Klamann, Caspar Star Tribune

AUSTRALIA

Documents reveal church stayed quiet on sexual misconduct allegations against Broome Bishop for almost a year
“The Catholic Church was told of sexual misconduct allegations against a Western Australian bishop nearly a year before it took action(link is external), according to new documents obtained by the ABC. Bishop Christopher Saunders, who has overseen the vast Diocese of Broome for 25 years, remains voluntarily stood aside amidst an ongoing WA Police investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct.” By Erin Parke, ABC Kimberley

CANADA

Five retired priests arrested after allegations they sexually assaulted minors
“Five Catholic priests were arrested at a retirement home in Joliette Tuesday morning on allegations they sexually abused students between 1961 and 1989(link is external). The men, former members of the Clercs de St. Viateur du Canada, are Jean Pilon, 78; Gérard Whissell, 81; Laurent Madore, 83; Raoul Jomphe, 86; and Roger Larue, 88. They face several charges, including gross indecency, sexual assault and molestation, the Sûreté du Québec says.” By Katherine Wilton, Montreal Gazette

Notice posted for class action suit alleging sexual abuse by priests in Halifax-Yarmouth
“Hundreds of Nova Scotians who say they were sexuallly abused by Roman Catholic priests dating back to 1960 are likely to be part of a lawsuit(link is external) launched against the Halifax-Yarmouth Archdiocese and its archbishop. A notice appeared recently on the websites of both the archdiocese and the McKiggan-Hebert law firm in Halifax, who filed the class action with the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in August 2018 on behalf of Douglas Champagne and other sexual abuse survivors.” By Francis Campbell, The Chronicle Herald

PHILIPPINES

In Philippines, a child alleges abuse by a Catholic priest – and tests Vatican promise of a global reckoning
“The girl, her long hair in a ponytail, stepped into the cramped, dimly lit courtroom, her first time in such a place. Clinging to her mother, she scanned the dozens of faces assembled before her. The girl, then 5 years old, eventually pointed to a bald man in a striped shirt, his spectacles resting on his head. She appeared nervous and did not speak his name. Her slight gesture in September – identifying the Rev. Aron Buenacosa as the man who sexually assaulted her(link is external) – began the rare trial in the Philippines of a priest of the Roman Catholic Church. Her case, in this quiet village on a central Philippine island, will also test Pope Francis’s pledge of an ‘all-out battle’ to confront sexual abuse in all corners of the Catholic world.” By The Nation/Thailand

POLAND

Polish Church faces reckoning over sex abuse
“Jakub Pankowiak’s story of sexual abuse by a local priest is shaking up Poland’s Catholic hierarchy(link is external), amplifying calls for full transparency after decades of cover-ups in the former communist country. Pankowiak, an organist’s son and a young boy at the time, recalls that Father Arkadiusz Hajdasz was ‘friendly, open, smiley’ when he arrived in the town of Pleszew.” By Agence France-Presse

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Latest USCCB abuse audit report shows cover-up’s extent, 4,400 new allegations last year

BOSTON, Mass., Jun. 26, 2020 – The numbers tell the story. According to the USCCB’s 2020 Report on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, more than 4,400 allegations of Catholic clergy sexual abuse were reported over the single year ending Jun. 30, 2020, the period of the report, which was released yesterday.

The report said the actual number of child sexual abuse survivor allegations over the past year was 4,434, more than three times the 1,451 allegations in the 2017-2018 reporting period.

The numbers show like none since the 2002 revelations in the Boston Archdiocese the extent of the cover-up the Church’s hierarchy has perpetrated. This increase in allegations has brought to light thousands of concealed clergy abuse cases from victims/survivors just now coming forward as a result of recent reforms of state statutes of limitations, nationwide civil investigations prompted by the August 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, increases in lawsuits and victim compensation plans employed by several dioceses. How many abuses will remain hidden by diocesan bankruptcies may never be known, and many victim/survivors agreeing to compensation plans will never get their day in court.

The USCCB’s National Review Board chairman, Francesco Cesareo, Ph.D., pointed out in a letter prefacing the report that activities and “a growing desire among the laity for greater involvement in addressing this issue has led many to question whether the audit is sufficiently adequate to determine if a culture of safety within dioceses has taken root.”

Equally if not more troubling is the report’s reference to current rather than historical cases. Thirty-seven 37 new abuse allegations have been made since last year. Cesareo made the magnitude of the problem perfectly clear. As much at 30 percent of dioceses have recurring difficulties pointing to a “lack of diligence that puts children’s safety at risk.”

“The current year’s Annual Report” he said, “highlights concerns also noted in previous years that speak to the issue of complacency. We continue to see the failure to publish reporting procedures in the various languages in which the liturgy is celebrated; poor recordkeeping of background checks; dysfunctional Diocesan Review Boards; lack of a formal monitoring plan for priests who have been removed from ministry; failure to update policies and procedures in light of the 2011 Charter revisions.”

And, with the Charter still not requiring parish audits, the need for continued vigilance is obvious.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Jun. 26, 2020
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Abuse allegations against former Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon ‘unequivocally credible,’ investigation finds / The Springfield Republican

The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious, vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking. (The Springfield Republican)

A retired superior court judge’s review of sexual abuse allegations against former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield for more than 25 years, found the accusations to be ‘unequivocally credible.’

“Meanwhile, mandatory reporters in the diocese who first heard the alleged victim’s account failed to report the matter to law enforcement officials, according to the executive summary for a 350-plus page report released Wednesday by the diocese. The report is the product of an investigation by retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis, who was hired a year ago to investigate the matter.

“Velis’ report concluded ‘the allegations of the Complainant of sexual molestation committed upon him by Bishop Christopher J Weldon, both as a principal, and as a ‘coventurer’ that included anal rape, indecent assault and battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress are unequivocally credible. The allegations that were investigated and examined are not dubious,  vague or ambiguous in any essentials nor are they the product of any chimerical conception, fabrication or schematic design. The unsavory and heinous nature of the offensive behavior attributed to the late bishop is clearly shocking.'”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, The Springfield Republican — Read more …

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Report on sexual abuse allegations against late Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon could prove pivotal / Springfield Republican

There have been reports that those in the diocesan hierarchy with ties to (Bishop Christopher J.) Weldon — and had sexual abuse allegations made against them — destroyed files related to pedophile priests over the years. (Springfield Republican)

A soon-to-be-released report nearly a year in the making could shed light on decades of sexual abuse by clergy in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and forever change how one of its most influential bishops is viewed.

“Last July, retired Superior Court Judge Peter A. Velis was asked by Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski to investigate allegations of sexual misconduct made against the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon dating back to the early 1960s. The report is expected to be released before Rozanski is installed as Archbishop of St. Louis on Aug. 25.

“The findings will impact not only the alleged victim — who reiterated to Rozanski a year ago his claim that he was sexually abused as a boy by Weldon and two diocesan priests — but also questions that continue to linger around how early in time the diocesan hierarchy may have participated in, covered up and enabled clergy sexual abuse of minors. It could either encourage or discourage other alleged survivors of clergy sex abuse to continue to come forward.”

By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican on MassLive.com — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, June 22, 2020


June 22, 2020

TOP STORIES

Four new members named to National Review Board
“The National Review Board, the all-lay group that monitors dioceses’ performance in dealing with sexually abusive clergy and creating a safe environment for children(link is external) throughout the church, has four new members. Archbishop Jose H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, announced the appointments June 10. The new members are …” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Vatican investigates Polish bishop for abuse cover-up
“The Vatican has given the go-ahead for an investigation into a Polish bishop suspected of covering up sexual abuse of children by clergy(link is external) — a subject that has long remained taboo in predominantly Catholic Poland. The investigation, which was announced on Tuesday (Jun. 2) by the archdiocese of Poznan, comes just two weeks after the release of a documentary detailing abuse cases that were allegedly covered up by Henryk Janiak, bishop of Kalisz.” By Agence France-Press on YahooNews.com

Eyebrows raised as Swiss bishop taps woman for senior job
“A Swiss bishop’s appointment of a lay mother of three to a senior administrative post previously held by a priest has raised eyebrows(link is external) in conservative Catholic circles, at a time when a strengthened role for women in the church is under debate in other European countries. Marianne Pohl-Henzen will serve as an “episcopal delegate” in the diocese of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, and will also be joining Bishop Charles Morerod’s episcopal council, the main governance advisory body which is traditionally made up of priests and bishops.” By Nadine Achoui-Lesage and Jamey Keaten, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com

Wyoming bishop accused of abuse won’t be charged, prosecutors say
“Following a decision by Wyoming prosecutors not to charge retired Bishop Joseph Hart for sexual abuse against minors, his alleged victims are looking to the Church’s canonical process as a last chance for the 88-year-old prelate to be brought to justice(link is external). As first reported by the Kansas City Star on Tuesday (Jun. 8), and confirmed by Crux on Wednesday, a Wyoming witness coordinator informed one of Hart’s accusers that the prosecutor would not advance the case, citing insufficient evidence. This comes nearly two years after the Diocese of Cheyenne deemed the allegations from the same individual to be credible in 2018.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Final version of governance report to be published by mid-August
“The final version of a report into diocesan and parish governance will be published after a series of amendments and clarifications have been made, likely by mid-August(link is external), according to ACBC Media Blog. Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president Archbishop Mark Coleridge on Friday (Jun. 12) announced a timeline for the report’s release after a draft version was leaked to international Catholic media earlier this month. The report, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia, was prepared by the Governance Review Project Team, a group of experts assembled by the Implementation Advisory Group.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Effort to give Colorado child sex assault survivors unlimited time to sue abusers is rejected
“House Bill 1296, brought in the wake of a damning report on Colorado’s Catholic church, was set aside at the request of one of its prime sponsors in the hopes of bringing future legislation that will also benefit past survivors of abuse(link is external). The decision to sideline the measure drew disappointment. In a stunning reversal on Friday (Jun. 12), a lead sponsor on a bill that would have given future child sexual assault victims in Colorado unlimited time to sue their abusers and those who allowed their abuse to happen asked that the measure be rejected. Instead, state Sen. Julie Gonzales, a Denver Democrat, said she wants to bring legislation that would also allow prior child sex assault victims to sue to their accusers as other states have done — sometimes called a ‘look-back window’ — despite caution from the legislature’s attorneys that doing so may violate the Colorado constitution.” By Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Alleged Theodore McCarrick victim says he is helping fact-check abuse dossier
“An anonymous alleged sexual abuse victim of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick says he and other alleged victims have been working with the Vatican to fact-check the comprehensive dossier on McCarrick’s misdeeds(link is external). The alleged victim, writing under the name Nathan Doe, says he was one of several minors that McCarrick abused, and that he had previously collaborated with Church authorities to provide evidence during the canonical penal administrative process which resulted in McCarrick’s 2019 laicization.” By Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

Argentine bishop accused of sexual misconduct returns to work at Vatican central bank
“As the Vatican resumed its activities after the two-month COVID-19 coronavirus lockdown, Crux has confirmed an Argentinian bishop suspended over allegations of sexual misconduct with seminarians quietly went back to work(link is external). Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta was appointed by Francis to the Administration of the Patrimony of the Apostolic See (APSA), which functions as the Vatican’s central bank, in 2017, where he works as an ‘assessor,’ a position created for the Argentine.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Catholic bishops need to give up the secrecy
“Australia’s Catholic bishops seem to have learned little from the sexual abuse scandal and its associated cover-ups(link is external). Pushed by a royal commission report to implement reforms, they recently reverted to standard operating procedures of delay and secrecy in suppressing a major report on governance reform. While hoping to delay and control discussion, the bishops were outmanoeuvred by the leaking of the highly significant report. It will now be available to and discussed by all Catholics – as it should be.” By Terry Fewtrell, Canberra Times

Reporting abuse by bishops now easier with new service
“In the United States, accusations of sexual abuse by clergy are to be reported to the local bishop. But what if it’s the bishop himself who is the problem? The answer is the national Catholic Bishop Reporting Service. Begun March 16, the Catholic Bishop Abuse Reporting (CBAR) is a third-party service that collects and reports to appropriate church authorities bishops who have committed sexual abuse or who have interfered with a civil or church investigation(link is external) into allegations of sexual abuse by another cleric or religious.” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald

New accuser comes forward in DiMarzio case
“A second man has come forward to accuse Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of sexual abuse(link is external). Samier Tadros, 46, alleges that he was sexually abused between 1979 to 1980, when DiMarzio was assigned as a priest to Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City, a part of the Newark Archdiocese. Tadros was around 6 years old at the time. DiMarzio, who is currently under church investigation for a previous allegation of abuse, has denied the charges. The allegations were made in a March 9 letter that Tadros’ attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, sent to the Newark Archdiocese’s attorney, according to The Associated Press.” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

PRIESTS

Archdiocesan priests removed from ministry
Three archdiocesan priests have been removed from ministry(link is external) … In each case, the priest retained the presumption of innocence and was allowed to participate in his defense. As is archdiocesan protocol, the allegations were shared with law enforcement, investigated by outside professionals and the entire matter carefully examined by the archdiocesan Lay Review Board, which concluded that the allegations had been substantiated. Both priests have been permanently removed from ministry, and may not publicly present themselves as priests.” By Catholic New York

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Nuns kick off new webinar series on fighting sex abuse
“Members of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG) Monday were the protagonists of the first of a series of webinar sessions focusing on child protection(link is external) and how safeguarding efforts have been impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Sister Nuala Kenny, a doctor with a background in pediatrics who has been a member of the ad hoc committee for child sexual abuse for the Canadian Catholic Bishops Conference, was the keynote for the June 8 session, which focused on the Theology of Childhood.” By Elise Ann Allen, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Pope appoints two women to positions in Vatican library and financial authority
“The Holy See Press Office on Friday (Jun. 12) announced papal appointments to two positions in the Vatican(link is external). Pope Francis appointed Dr. Raffaella Vincenti as office head of the Vatican Apostolic Library. Dr. Vincenti had previously served as secretary of the Library.  Pope Francis also named Professor Antonella Sciarrone Alibrandi as a Member of the managing board of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority (AIF). The AIF works to combat money-laundering and financing of terrorism.” By Vatican News

Abuse scandal linked to status of women in Church
“Cardinal Reinhard Marx has reiterated how urgent it is to appoint more women leaders in the Church(link is external). ‘Changes in this field are really urgent and must be pressed ahead with,’ he warned. ‘We talk a lot about the Church’s new social form and on no other point is this reflected more clearly,’ Marx said last week.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt

VATICAN

Vatican frees broker as details emerge of costly London deal
“ The Vatican has released from detention an Italian businessman accused of extortion and fraud(link is external) in a London real estate venture that to date has cost the Vatican more than 350 million euros (nearly $400 million), much of it donations from the faithful. The Vatican said in a statement Monday (Jun. 15) that Gianluigi Torzi, who was jailed in the barracks of the Vatican gendarmes on June 6, was granted provisional release after he wrote a lengthy memorandum for prosecutors about his role in the deal.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH FINANCES

St. Cloud Diocese declares bankruptcy
“The Diocese of St. Cloud filed for bankruptcy in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Monday (Jun. 15), just weeks after reaching a $22.5 million settlement with clergy abuse survivors. The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing provides a ‘framework for resolution’ of the clergy abuse claims(link is external) filed by 70 individuals against 42 priests dating to the 1950s, the diocese said.” By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune

Former Warwick priest accused of stealing from church
“The former pastor of a Catholic parish in Warwick is accused of stealing church funds for personal use(link is external). Steven Matthew Glover, 42, was charged with credit card fraud, larceny and obtaining money under false pretenses. Glover was a priest from 2004 to 2019, most recently serving as pastor at St. Rose and Clement Parish in Warwick. He left the priesthood in 2019 for personal, unrelated reasons.” By Rachel Nunes, Patch.com

Diocese of Rockville Centre threatens bankruptcy in face of child sex-abuse lawsuits
“One of the nation’s largest Catholic dioceses is threatening bankruptcy if a Long Island judge doesn’t pause the nearly 100 child sex-abuse lawsuits it faces(link is external). The Diocese of Rockville Centre, which serves more than 1.4 million Catholics in Nassau and Suffolk counties, claims it’s in an “ever-more serious financial situation,” straining under the legal costs of defending itself in court while its income has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic, according to court papers.” By Kathianne Boniello, New York Post

CHILD PROTECTION

Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announces new training program for those required to work with minors
“The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City announced a new training program for volunteers, staff members and clergy that will be required before working with minors(link is external) in Catholic churches or schools. The program, which launches July 1 and is called Safe and Sacred Training Program for Catholic Dioceses, provides online training in several areas. A news release states those areas include appropriate and inappropriate interaction with minors, proper boundaries, potential red flags and how to report suspected child abuse.” By KOCO-TV5 News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Record numbers leave Church in Munich archdiocese
“A record number of people left the Church in the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising last year, a local statistical office said Tuesday (May 26). The Munich statistical office told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, May 26 that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in 2019(link is external). It noted that this was a fifth higher than in 2018, when 8,995 people left. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began. Previously, the highest figure was 9,010, set in 1992.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic World Report

VOICES

Bishop made progress but didn’t lead
“Bishop Mitchell Rozanski cleared the low bar set by his predecessor when it came to issues of communication and response to clergy abuse(link is external). Opportunities were missed to do so much more. At his introduction as the new Archbishop of the St. Louis diocese, Bishop Rozanski spoke of initiatives he had taken in Springfield as if they were entirely his own. But they came only after pressure was applied by activists like Olan Horne of Chester, an abuse survivor who advocates for other victims, and by The Berkshire Eagle.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Quebec moves to eliminate time limits for filing civil sexual assaiults
“Sexual assault victims in Quebec will soon be able to pursue justice against their abusers regardless of how long ago crimes took place, according to proposed legislation tabled Thursday (Jun. 11). The bill tabled in the provincial legislature by Justice Minister Sonia LeBel would eliminate the 30-year time limit for bringing a civil suit against an alleged assailant(link is external). Quebec and Prince Edward Island are the only two provinces to maintain a time limitation for this type of lawsuit.” By Jocelyne richer, The Canadian Press, on montreal.ctvnews.ca

‘They are mistaken’: AG backs sex-abuse law challenged by Diocese of Providence
“Three alleged priest abuse victims and the state attorney general this week defended the legality of the new deadline to sue over child molestation(link is external) after the Diocese of Providence argued a key feature was unconstitutional. The arguments come in response to the Diocese of Providence’s attempt to have the three alleged victims’ lawsuits dismissed from state court. A 2019 law extended the deadline to sue over childhood sexual abuse from seven years to 35 years after a victim’s 18th birthday.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal

New Jersey sexual abuse law survives Catholic school’s challenge
“A Superior Court judge has ruled in favor of a New Jersey statute that gives victims of sexual abuse more time to sue(link is external). The 2019 law waived the statue of limitations and allowed victims to file civil suits until they are 55, or seven years after they discover they were abused. Judge Peter Bogaard of Morris County ruled against two arguments submitted by attorneys for Delbarton School, a catholic school in Morristown.” By Associated Press

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Review: The continued fight to eradicate clergy sex abuse
“A Canadian pediatrician and woman religious who has worked on issues of sexual abuse for more than three decades(link is external), Nuala Kenny, S.C., offers her diagnoses and prescriptions for treating the ‘sick soul’ and the ‘global septic shock in the Body of Christ’ in ‘Still Unhealed.’ Kenny has been working in this area since she joined the one-of-its-kind, lay-led Archdiocesan Commission of Inquiry on Clergy Sexual Abuse in St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1989.” By James F. Keenan, America: The Jesuit Review

CONNECTICUT

Danbury clergy sexual abuse case pushed to July
“The pre-trial hearing of the former local priest accused of sexually assaulting two boys(link is external) has been rescheduled from June 19 to July 24. Jaime Marin-Cardona, 52, is charged with three counts of fourth-degree sexual assault, three counts of risk of injury to child and three counts of illegal sexual contact. He pleaded not guilty to all nine charges.” By Kendra Baker, New Canaan Advertiser

FLORIDA

Former Winter Haven priest accused of sexually abusing teen in Polk facility; lawsuit filed in Polk Circuit Court
“A Sarasota man is suing a former Winter Haven priest on allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) while the man was incarcerated as a teenager at Demilly Correctional Institution near Polk City. In the lawsuit, filed in Polk Circuit Court, the man states that he initially met with the Rev. Fred Ruse, then pastor at St. Matthew Catholic Church in Winter Haven, at the prison to receive communion in 2001 and 2002. They met privately in the chaplain’s office and in classrooms at the prison, the lawsuit states.” By Suzie Schottelkotte, TheLedger.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Springfield Diocese temporarily removes 3 priests from public ministry after sexual abuse allegation
“Three priests from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield have been temporarily removed from public ministry as a result of an allegation of sexual abuse(link is external), according to Jeffrey J. Trant, director of the diocesan Office of Safe Environment and Victim Assistance. The priests were not identified. Trant, who was appointed to his position last June, said that 14 new alleged victims have come forward with claims of clerical sexual abuse since July 2019.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Former Franciscan brother living in DeWitt named by second man as sexual abuser
“Two religious orders deny any knowledge of sexual abuse by a former Franciscan brother(link is external) living in DeWitt who is now named in two lawsuits. Martin Rusnak filed a lawsuit in New Jersey earlier this year naming Kurt Munn as an abuser and saying religious leaders enabled Munn for decades. In the legal complaint filed in Mercer County, Rusnak says Munn started abusing him in the 1970s.” By Megan Banta, Lansing State Journal

MINNESOTA

Additional name added to list of clergy likely to have abused minors
“Bishop Donald Kettler added an additional name to the list of clergy likely to have abused minors(link is external): Father Charles Meyer, a member of the Society of the Precious Blood. Meyer was added to the list following notification by the Diocese of Bismarck, North Dakota, that it added him to its list of “extern clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor,” according to a June 12 news release from the diocese.” By The Central Minnesota Catholic

MISSOURI

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests hold protest in response to new St. Louis archbishop
“The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests held a protest Wednesday (Jun. 10) morning in response to the new St. Louis archbishop-elect. On Wednesday it was announced that Pope Francis had named Reverend Mitchell T. Rozanski as the 11th bishop and 10th archbishop of St. Louis. SNAP has criticized Rozanski for refusing to name three priests(link is external) who had been suspended after allegations of sexual abuse in Massachusetts.” By Kayla Wheeler, KSDK-TV5 News

NEW JERSEY

Numerous victims of childhood sex abuse file lawsuits against Diocese of Trenton
“The Diocese of Trenton is facing numerous lawsuits alleging it failed time and again to prevent the sexual abuse of children(link is external). These civil-action complaints in Mercer County Superior Court are a microcosm of the widespread sex abuse scandals rocking the Roman Catholic Church worldwide. ‘It’s an epidemic in the Catholic Church, and it has been going on for centuries,’ attorney John W. Baldante told The Trentonian in an interview. ‘The Catholic Church has largely ignored this behavior.’” By Sulaiman Abdur-Rahman, The Tentonian

Priest worked in North Jersey parishes for decades after being accused of sex abuse
“The Rev. Gerald Sudol, who spent decades serving in North Jersey Catholic parishes, allegedly began abusing children even before he was ordained as a priest(link is external). Later he moved from one church to another, at first injecting new life into parishes where he’d been assigned, befriending families and becoming a spiritual mentor to their sons. Then the man who was fondly known as Father Gerry would allegedly abuse boys sexually — sometimes more than one at a time — and tell them that God would punish them if they told anyone.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW MEXICO

Servants of the Paraclete seeks dismissal in Catholic priest abuse lawsuit; victim speaks out
“The Servants of the Paraclete, named in a lawsuit over child sexual abuse by Catholic priests(link is external), asked a New Mexico court to dismiss the case in a June 10 response. The Servants of the Paraclete is one of several defendants, including two Alamogordo Catholic parishes, named in the case filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County. The suit was filed by ‘John Doe’ and alleged negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, vicarious liability, public nuisance and racketeering.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News

NEW YORK

38 more people sue Syracuse Catholic Diocese, claiming abuse by priests
“Nearly 40 new lawsuits have been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse(link is external), alleging child sex abuse by priests and a teacher. The suits filed today alleged allegations of abuse that happened at the hands of priests in parishes across Central New York, spanning more than 50 years.” By Marnie Eisenstadt, Syracuse.com

52 new suits against Albany Diocese allege sex abuse by priests, nuns
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany was the target Monday (Jun. 15) of 52 new lawsuits alleging sex abuse of children by priests and nuns(link is external) as much as 63 years ago. The Guilderland and Minnesota law firms teaming up to represent the victims in these cases have previously filed 22 such lawsuits and say they are preparing 36 more. Other law firms are separately bringing similar cases.” By John Cropley, Albany Daily Gazette

Late priest from Lake Luzerne parish among those named in child sex abuse lawsuits
“A late priest that served at a church in Lake Luzerne was named in one of 52 sex abuse lawsuits(link is external) filed Monday (Jun. 15) against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. The Rev. Charles A. Gaffigan, who retired from Holy Mother and Child Parish in 2011, is accused of sexually abusing a minor from 1992 to about 1994 at what was then Holy Infancy Church in Lake Luzerne, according to a news release from Jeff Anderson & Associates. The law firm has filed a total of 74 lawsuits against the diocese.” By Michael Goot, The Post Star

Child Victims Act attorneys oppose Buffalo Diocese move to shield parishes from lawsuits
“A federal bankruptcy judge will soon decide whether hundreds of lawsuits against Catholic parishes and former parishes, schools and other entities in the Buffalo Diocese should be blocked(link is external) from moving forward in state courts. The diocese’s Chapter 11 filing in February immediately stopped lawsuits against the diocese from advancing as it goes through a reorganization. In May, the diocese asked Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York to extend that same protection to more than 400 Catholic parishes, schools and other entities that also have been named as defendants in Child Victims Act cases.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

TEXAS

Texas Supreme Court to hear case of former deacon suing diocese for abuse claim
“The Texas Supreme Court will hear the Diocese of Lubbock’s appeal of a legal decision allowing a former deacon to sue the diocese for defamation for including his name on a list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse(link is external). ‘We are committed to transparency for the trust and safety of the members of our parishes,’ Bishop Robert Coerver of Lubbock said June 8. ‘At a time when many religious messages are being shared digitally, courts must protect churches’ ability to communicate effectively with their members.’” By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency

VIRGINIA

Sexual abuse allegations by former priests in Hampton Roads under investigation
Allegations of sexual abuse of Hampton Roads children(link is external) by four retired or inactive priests are now under review by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond. None of the four are currently serving in active ministry, the diocese said Monday (Jun. 8). None have served in the diocese in recent years. The diocese has not reached any conclusions about the allegations, though it has informed civil authorities about them.” By Dave Ress, Daily Press

Richmond Diocese reviews allegations against four ex-priests
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond announced it has begun reviewing child sexual abuse allegations(link is external) made against four former priests in Virginia. ‘While the alleged incidents are from the past, we recognize the pain is still a deep and present reality for victim survivors of abuse and for their loved ones,’ Bishop Barry C. Knestout said in the statement released Monday (Jun. 8).” By Associated Press on ABC-TV13 News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Church investigations clear DC clergy member a 2nd time on sexual, financial misconduct allegations
“Church investigations into the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in D.C. found no credible evidence of sexual and financial impropriety(link is external). Monsignor Walter Rossi has served as rector since 2005 and was accused of sexually assaulting male students at the Catholic University of America. Those allegations reportedly came from Archbishop Carlo Viganò who relayed the accusations during an interview last year with The Washington Post, claiming the Vatican embassy in D.C. received documentation on the matter.” By Ken Duffy, WTOP News

WYOMING

Criminal investigation into Wyoming clergy sexual abuse drags into third year
“The criminal investigation into sexual abuse by members of the Catholic clergy(link is external) in Wyoming passed its second birthday in April, a prolonged process with no end in sight that has ‘shattered’ an alleged victim’s family’s belief in the criminal justice system. In August, Cheyenne police recommended that retired bishop Joseph Hart, the highest-ranking member of the Catholic church in Wyoming for 25 years, be charged with sexual abuse.” By Seth Klamann, KPVI-TV6 News

FRANCE

Thousands of victims of cheld sex abuse in French Catholic Church, says commission
“At least 3,000 children have fallen victim to sex abuse in the French Catholic Church since 1950(link is external), the president of a commission set up to investigate the claims said today (Jun. 17). Jean-Marc Sauve said preliminary figures suggested some 1,500 clergy and other church officials carried out the abuse. The commission was set up last June at the request of French bishops after a series of paedophilia cases that rocked the Church in France and abroad.” By Malaymail.com

INDIA

Savio Rodrigues on sexual abuse and corruption in the Catholic Church of India
Savio Rodrigues separates the faith from the organization that the Church has become and highlights the corruption that has permeated into it. The faith is under pressure because of the allegations of sexual abuse(link is external) and the harsh treatment meted out to those who highlight them. A must watch!” By Sahil Mishra, PGurus.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Abuse victim’s advocate was ‘open’ about Catholic church role
“A number of victims’ groups called for Brendan McAllister to stand down, or be removed from his post, after it became apparent he has been officiating at Catholic church services at St Peter’s in Warrenpoint. Spokespersons for Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse said that Mr McAllister’s elevation to a leadership role with the church made his positions as the interim advocate for victims untenable – as around 80% of its members had been abused by members of the Catholic clergy(link is external).” By Mark Rainey, News LetterCatholic Church says data laws ‘detrimental to efforts to safeguard children’
“Current data protection legislation is a threat to the safety of children and has made their welfare difficult to guarantee(link is external), the Catholic Church’s child protection watchdog has said. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was introduced in 2018. The church’s National Board for Safeguarding Children, based at Maynooth, Co Kildare, said the current legislation was ‘detrimental to the efforts to safeguard children.’” By Patsy McGary, The Irish Times

NEW ZEALAND

Historic sex abuse: Former Catholic brother sentenced to home detention in Napier
“An 81-year-old Catholic brother and schoolteacher from Napier has been sentenced to a second term of home detention for sexually abusing children(link is external) when he was teaching in Masterton more than 40 years ago. Kevin Peter John Healy was sentenced in Napier District Court today on five charges of indecency in the 1970s, involving a girl aged 8 or 9, and her brother and another boy who were at the time aged 12 and 13.” By Hawkes Bay Today

SWITZERLAND

Pedophile priest found free in Switzerland after conviction in Belgium
“A Swiss priest found guilty of abusing a minor in Belgium has been arrested in Switzerland(link is external), where he was living free despite being sentenced to prison in 2017. The Brussels Court of Appeal sentenced Frédéric Abbet to three years’ imprisonment after finding him guilty of sexually abusing a nine-year-old boy in a Brussels boarding school between 2010 and 2011. Swiss regional daily Le Nouvelliste reported on Friday (Jun. 12) that the priest was found living free in the Swiss canton of Valais, years after he was sentenced.” By The Brussels Times

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Voice of the Faithful 2020 Conference will be an online Zoom event

BOSTON, Mass., Jun. 15, 2020 – The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has affected Voice of the Faithful similarly to other organizations planning to hold events during 2020. Out of an abundance of caution and concern for the well-being of our members and supporters, Voice of the Faithful will present on online Zoom conference for 2020.

The online Zoom 2020 VOTF Conference: Visions of a Just Church will take place Oct. 3. VOTF members and others will gather later this year to promote their visions of a just Church, 18 years after The Boston Globe brought to light widespread clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston and Voice of the Faithful was founded. After nearly two decades, VOTF continues to address the scandal.

Offering her own vision of a just Church, the conference’s featured speaker will be internationally acclaimed theologian and Catholic studies scholar Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D. Dr. Zagano has lectured widely in this country and abroad. On August 2, 2016, Pope Francis appointed her to the Papal Commission for the Study of Women in the Diaconate, which convened in Rome November 2016. She has published hundreds of articles and is the author or editor of twenty books in religious studies, including award-winning work on women in the diaconate. She currently is senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University.

Dr. Zagano is a recipient of the VOTF Catherine of Siena Distinguished Layperson Award, which recognizes exemplary lay leaders who enthusiastically use their gifts in the Church’s service. She also has received the Isaac Hecker Award for Social Justice from The Paulist Center Community in Boston for “her prolific body of work that has constantly echoed the cry of the poorest in our society for dignity and for justice, both inside and outside the Church.”

Attendees of VOTF’s online Zoom 2020 Conference also will hear additional speakers on the conference’s theme, and updates from VOTF leaders on the progress of the organization’s programs and initiatives.

Cost for VOTF’s online Zoom 2020 conference is $50 per person.

A continually updated webpage for conference information and registration can be seen by clicking here.


Voice of the Faithful News Release, Jun. 15, 2020
Contact: Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


Jun. 8, 2020

TOP STORIES

Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolerance’
“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way. In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter(link is external) and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Secret bishops’ report calls for radical revamp of Catholic Church
“Australia’s Catholic Church could be dramatically overhauled to give lay people more power, increase the number of women in leadership roles and force parishes to open up their finances to the public(link is external). A secret 200-page report being considered by the nation’s bishops has called for unprecedented reform in a bid to make the church more inclusive and break down the structures that contributed to decades of clergy abuse and cover-ups … But in a sign of how sensitive the church is to issues of reform, the body that commissioned the report – the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference – is unlikely to publicly release or reveal how it will respond to its 86 recommendations until the end of the year.” By Farrah Tomazin, The Sydney Morning Herald

‘Vos Estis’ at one year: Some question pope’s process for investigating bishops
“It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis’ new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops(link is external), say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR. They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions. Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis’ motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi: the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Brooklyn bishop accused by 2nd man of sex abuse in the 1970s
“The Roman Catholic bishop of Brooklyn, already under a church investigation for alleged sex abuse, has been accused by a second man of abuse in the 1970s, when the bishop was a parish priest in New Jersey(link is external). Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio ‘repeatedly sexually abused’ Samier Tadros starting when he was about 6 years old, according to a March 9 letter that Tadros’ lawyer sent to the attorney representing the Archdiocese of Newark. The letter alleges the abuse happened in Holy Rosary Church in Jersey City.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press

Australia’s bishops seeking ‘whole-of-Church’ approach for child protection
“Plans are moving forward for the establishment of a national system for child protection within the Australian Catholic Church(link is external), according to a report following the meeting of the country’s Catholic bishops earlier this month. The ‘National Response Protocol’ will develop a comprehensive system for reporting complaints of clergy abuse or misconduct and establish new guidelines for child protection policies.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

ACOUNTABILITY

Pope makes anti-corruption spending rules mandatory in Vatican
“Pope Francis has approved sweeping new rules for procurement and spending in the Vatican meant to cut costs, ensure transparent competition and reduce the risk of corruption(link is external) in awarding contracts. An Apostolic Letter and 30 pages of new norms released on Monday (Jun. 1) are the culmination of a four-year process to rationalize spending procedures and tackle nepotism and cronyism. They come as the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc with the Vatican’s finances, forcing it to implement some of the toughest cost-control measures ever.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

New suit alleging sexual abuse by an Allentown priest uses a loophole in hopes of getting around statute of limitations
“Relying on a loophole that could open the floodgates for other victims years, or even decades, after the statute of limitation on such claims has expired(link is external), Berks County state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Tuesday (May 26) filed a lawsuit against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, saying he was sexually abused by a priest in the 1980s, when he was 13 years old. Rozzi’s attorneys say they are relying on an August state Superior Court ruling that allowed a similar lawsuit, based on new information from the 2016 grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, to move forward.” By Laurie Mason Schroeder, The Morning Call

POPE FRANCIS

Criticizing a pope: a dialogue between Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.
“The driving thesis of Mr. McCormick’s article is that ‘the papacy does not have an agenda: the papacy is an agenda in itself.’ This is hard to reconcile with an ecclesiology of the papacy as an ecclesial ministry in the framework of a sacramental ecclesiology. But this approach has also far-reaching consequences(link is external). The first is that Mr. McCormick’s argument seems to be not about the style or content of my critique of Pope Francis’ approach to two particular issues, but about the very possibility of criticizing the bishop of Rome at all.” By Massimo Faggioli and Bill McCormick, S.J.

CARDINAL PELL

Inside stories: lawyers on the trials of the Pell case
“In a sexual abuse case that has polarized opinion, for the solicitors working on both sides it has been business as usual(link is external). When the High Court announced on 7 April that it would uphold Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his County Court conviction for sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s, it drew a line, for now, under years of work for the solicitors who have been intimately involved in the case. It has been a case that has polarized opinion, has had international notoriety and involved controversy on a number of levels.” By Karin Derkley, Law Institute Victoria

PRIESTS

Priesthood and the renewal of the Church
Debates about celibacy have recently been in the forefront of conversations regarding the Church(link is external), given the ongoing fallout of the abuse crisis and the meeting of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazon region in the fall of 2019. Although the synod sought to confront the general pastoral difficulties of the Amazon region, stretched over many South American nations, European prelates focused excessively on changes to the priesthood and ecological problems.” By Jared Staudt, Denver Catholic

CHURCH FINANCES

Opening salvos in Pope Francis’s financial ‘Reform 2.0’
“Facing both a looming economic crisis and reminders that the anti-financial scandal measures adopted to date haven’t been fully effective, Pope Francis and his Vatican team this week (May 27) have moved to try to defuse the bomb(link is external) before it goes off, closing several Swiss holding companies responsible for portions of its assets and reallocating internal control over financial data collection.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Vatican Finances, what is going on? The Vatican City State Administration
“Plans for a ‘Vatican Asset Management’ outfit were laid out almost as soon as Pope Francis created the new Secretariat for the Economy. The VAM was supposed to be a centralized office that managed all Vatican investments(link is external). The proposed management outfit would have responded to two needs: that of generating revenues to support the expenses of the Holy See / Vatican City State; and, that of keeping investments under better control (because each dicastery had some funds that it managed independently).” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

CHILD PROTECTION

Reporting abuse – the church’s blind spot
“When in doubt, REPORT. If every allegation of child sexual abuse was simply reported by church leaders to appropriate authorities, the resulting positive impact would be immeasurable(link is external). Survivors of abuse would feel validated — by itself a significant positive outcome — pathways to healing would open, future victims would be spared and abusers would be revealed. Criminal behavior would be investigated and prosecuted, and elements of  realaccountability put in place. When ministry leaders simply report suspicions and allegations of sexual abuse, the church is perceived as a sanctuary where God’s love and justice are demonstrated.” By Gregory Love & Kimberlee Norris, Church Executive

International Safeguarding Conference announces new webinar series
“In a new series of webinars beginning on 29 May, the International Safeguarding Conference (ISC) will be encouraging ‘the Catholic Church and other faith-based organizations’ to ‘continue with safeguarding programs, despite the expected Covid-19 recession(link is external).’ ICS annually brings together Church representatives, professionals and scientific specialists to share knowledge and good practices on the subject of child protection. ISC writes that the upcoming webinar is ‘the first in a series of webinars’ … which aim to enable safeguarding professionals to share good practice in safeguarding, both in the current pandemic circumstances ‘and in ‘normal’ times.’” By Vatican News

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Record numbers leave Church in Munich archdiocese
“A record number of people left the Church in the German Archdiocese of Munich and Freising last year, a local statistical office said Tuesday (May 26). The Munich statistical office told CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, May 26 that 10,744 Catholics formally withdrew from the Church in 2019(link is external). It noted that this was a fifth higher than in 2018, when 8,995 people left. Statisticians said this was the first time that annual departures had surpassed the 10,000 mark since records began. Previously, the highest figure was 9,010, set in 1992.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic World Report

VOICES

New bishop says Catholic Church has learned from the past
“Minnesota priest selected to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City comes from a diocese that concluded bankruptcy proceedings last year agreeing to pay tens of millions of dollars to victims of child sexual abuse. Father Peter Muhich, 59, said addressing the abuse of victims was ‘obviously a very difficult process’ for the church(link is external) and especially for the victims themselves.” By Kevin Woster, Rapid City Journal

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Child Victims Act gets 1-year extension
“The Child Victims Act received a second extension, bringing the filing deadline for child sexual abuse cases past the statute of limitations to Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Championed for years by New Baltimore activist and attorney Gary Greenberg, who is a survivor of child sexual abuse, the law initially opened a one-year window of opportunity for claimants of child sexual abuse to bring their case to civil court, regardless of the statute of limitations and when the alleged abuse took place.” By Melanie Lekocevic, Columbia-Greene Media

Texas Statutes of Limitations for sexual crimes against children
“For many years, the Catholic Church has come under fire for the widespread occurrence of child molestation. While the majority of the media attention has fallen on U.S. priests, clergy members in many other countries have been identified as abusers. ‘Sexual Assault, commonly referred to as ‘rape,’ is perhaps the most stressful allegation with which to be faced, particularly if the sexual assault involves a child.” By Broden Mickelsen, Dallas Sex Crimes Lawyers, News.TopWireNews.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Documentary Prompts Polish Archbishop To Refer Case To Vatican
“Poland’s most senior Archbishop referred a child sex abuse case to the Vatican(link is external) on May 17th. Following the release of a Youtube documentary from Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, Archbishop Wojciech Polak has called on the Vatican to launch proceedings against Bishop Edward Janiak. The film alleges that Janiak knew about the allegations for years, but failed to take any action.” By Maria Kuuiper, Current Events, The Organization for World Peace

Revictimizing the victims of sexual abuse
“Victims of sexual abuse by clergy frequently have told me that the way they were treated by bishops has hurt them more than the abuse did(link is external). Virtually every bishop has made the announcement that he is dedicated to helping victims who have been sexually abused by priests and that he has put considerable resources toward that effort. Unfortunately, from what I have heard from too many victims, some bishops are quite adept at virtue-signaling and at making empty promises.” By Janet E. Smith, National Catholic Register

CALIFORNIA

Catholic priest sexual abuse survivor suing Oakland Diocese and East Bay churches
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and two East Bay churches are the target of a lawsuit by a young man who was sexually abused by a priest when he was a child(link is external), his attorney said Tuesday (May 26). In a complaint recently filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the victim seeks unspecified damages against the the Diocese, St. John’s Catholic Church in San Lorenzo, and Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, accusing them of negligence in not protecting children like him from ‘predator priests.’” By Joseph Geha, Bay Area News Group

LOUISIANA

Alleged victim of nuns’ sex abuse fears Archdiocese bankruptcy will silence him
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans has filed for bankruptcy, and survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy say it’s just a maneuver meant to silence them. They include one man who says he was molested by nuns at a West Bank youth home in the 1970s(link is external), and he’s now urging other victims to speak out. Jeff, whose real name isn’t being used, says his parents sent him to Madonna Manor in Marrero in 1976 for help with dyslexia. He was 11 years old at the time.” By Greg LaRose, WDSU-TV6 News

SNAP asks governor to order state investigation of church
“The Louisiana chapter of SNAP has asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to direct State Police to investigate the Catholic Church(link is external). The organization, which represents and speaks for survivors of sexual abuse by priests, believes that the recent declaration of bankruptcy(link is external) by the Archdiocese is an effort to seal evidence in sex abuse cases.” By KATC-TV3 News

Clergy abuse survivors, Hancock Bank on Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy creditors’ committee
“A committee representing the unsecured creditors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case will include clergy abuse claimants and Hancock Whitney Bank(link is external), which has managed more than $38 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina. Federal court records Wednesday only identified one representative on the seven-member committee: Beth Zeigler of Hancock Whitney. The rest of the names were redacted, suggesting that the committee’s balance might be comprised of people who claim they were sexually molested by New Orleans-area clergymen and religious personnel.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield forms independent task force to advise Bishop Mitchell Rozanski on confronting reported clergy sex abuse
“Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced on Wednesday (May 27) the creation of an independent task force to advise the Diocese of Springfield on the ongoing issue of sexual misconduct and abuse by clergy(link is external) within the diocese. The 10-member Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield will have retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford as chairman and Irene Woods, founding executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, as vice chairwoman.” By Patrick Johnson, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Former priest bound over on criminal sexual conduct charges
“A former Upper Peninsula priest accused of molesting children(link is external) was bound over to Ontonagon County Circuit Court. Gary Jacobs, 74, had a preliminary hearing on Tuesday (May 26) and Wednesday in 98th District Court in Ontonagon. No date has been set for his circuit court arraignment. Jacobs was also arraigned in Dickinson County’s district court Monday for similar charges there. He will be arraigned in circuit court next month.” By Garrett Neese, The Daily Mining Gazette

MINNESOTA

St. Cloud Diocese reaches settlement framework for clergy abuse survivors
“The Diocese of St. Cloud says they have reached framework for a settlement for survivors of clergy abuse(link is external). In a news release from the diocese, it says, ‘the resolution will include the diocese filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the near future. In the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the framework for resolution will include a consensual plan of reorganization that will provide for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse.” By Jenifer Lewerenz, KNSI Radio News

NEW JERSEY

Judge denies Delbarton School’s request to find new sex abuse law unconstitutional
“A judge has denied a challenge to a law that loosened restrictions on civil sex abuse complaints — allowing a lawsuit to continue(link is external) against the order that runs the Delbarton School and clearing the way for dozens of similar cases against the Catholic Church and other institutions to go forward in state courts. The lawsuit against Delbarton was filed more than two years before New Jersey extended the civil statute of limitations for sex abuse cases. Dozens of sex abuse lawsuits have been filed since the law took effect on Dec. 1, 2019, many of them against the Catholic Church for alleged abuse from decades ago.” By Abbott Koloff, NorthJersey.com

NEW YORK

LI priest molested me, now church is trying to keep me quiet, lawsuit says
“A man says a Long Island priest sexually abused him when he was a teen(link is external) — and that church investigators are now trying to intimidate him into silence, new court papers show. Greg Hein, 52, says in a Nassau County lawsuit that Father Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested him in the sacristy and rectory of St. Anthony of Padua in Rockville Centre in 1984. Hein was 17 at the time, while the priest oversaw the parish’s youth programs, the suit says.” By Rebecca Rosenberg, New York Post

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie diocese priest reinstated after abuse probe ends
“A priest in the Catholic Diocese of Erie is returning to active ministry after Bishop Lawrence Persico said the diocese could not substantiate allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) made against the priest a year ago. The priest, Monsignor Charles Kaza, has been reinstated as pastor of St. Tobias Parish, in Brockway, Jefferson County, Persico announced on Monday (Jun. 1).” By Times-News staff on GoErie.com

Attorneys: Abuse victims getting low offers from Diocese of Pittsburgh’s fund
“Many people filing claims of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are being offered compensation amounting to only a ‘fraction’ of what victims have received in other dioceses(link is external), according to attorneys representing many of them before an out-of-court compensation fund. Attorney Alan Perer, who said he represents about 75 clients who applied to the fund, is accusing Bishop David Zubik and the diocese of breaking a promise to compensate victims fairly.” By Perter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Erie Diocese wants out of New York lawsuit against Trautman
“The Catholic Diocese of Erie is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit in New York that tries to connect the diocese to claims that retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman(link is external) covered up clergy sex abuse of a minor when he was a top official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980s. The suit also names Trautman as a defendant, though the claims against him mostly pertain to his tenure in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The suit alleges the abuse took place there about six years before Trautman was named the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Erie, in 1990.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

TEXAS

Catholic Archdiocese asks to have child abuse lawsuit dismissed, contends case filed too late
“The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, claiming the church covered up allegations of abuse(link is external), and continued to allow La Rosa-Lopez access to children. Lawyers for the Archdiocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending it was filed years after the statute of limitations ran out in 2011. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the archdiocese is trying to escape responsibility by relying on a legal technicality.” By KPRC-TV2 News

A year later, most documents seized in Dallas police raid of diocese ordered returned as sexual assault investigation continues
“A year after police searched Dallas Catholic Diocese offices for records related to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, most of the documents seized in the raid were returned to the church as beyond the scope of the police investigation(link is external). And charges have been filed against only one of the five former priests, who are targets of the investigation. Dallas Bishop Edward Burns condemned the May 15, 2019 raid, which involved dozens of law enforcement officers, as ‘unnecessary and sensational,’’ in a statement released by the diocese Thursday (May 28).” By David Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

AFRICA

My catholic priest uncle molested me when I was 11 – DJ Switch
“Nigerian rapper and disc jockey, Obianuju Catherine Udeh, popularly known as DJ Switch, has opened up on how her uncle, who’s a catholic priest, molested her at the age of 11(link is external). The songwriter who was the winner of the Glo X-Factor revealed this on his Instagram page on Monday, adding that her revelation may shock her family. DJ Switch’s post is coming after the brutal killing of Vera Uwaila Omozuwa, a student of the University of Benin (UNIBEN) who was raped and murdered in a church in Benin where she went to study.” By Taiwo Okanlawon, pmnewsnigeria.com

AUSTRALIA

Former principal who warned of dangerous priest to sue Catholic Church
Mr (Graeme) Sleeman now plans to sue the Catholic Church over the Archdiocese of Melbourne’s catastrophic inaction in the 1980s on his complaints about (pedophile priest Peter)Searson(link is external). He estimates his lost education career cost him $3 million. Searson’s infamy was known at the top: the then archbishop of Melbourne, Frank Little, knew of an allegation Searson raped a young woman in 1974, and his conduct around parishioners and children was discussed at archdiocese meetings in the early 1980s.” By Adam Cooper, The Sydney Morning Herald

Bishop backs mother’s plea to release report
“A 94-year-old Newcastle woman calling for the release of royal commission findings on sexual abuse her son endured and his subsequent suicide is being backed by the local bishop. Audrey Nash fears she will die before the findings of the 2016 royal commission probe into her son Andrew Nash’s suicide are made public. Andrew Nash died in 1974 when he was just 13.” By Giselle Wakatama, ABC News, on CathNews.com

Report Suggests High-Ranking Australian Priest Covered Up Decades of Abuse Within Catholic Church
“Weeks after Cardinal George Pell was released from jail, a newly release report suggests that he knew of child sex abuse by Australian priests as early as the 1970s(link is external) but failed to take action to stop it. Pell, an ex-Vatican treasurer, is the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

CANADA

London Catholic Diocese loses appeal in child sexual abuse case
“An Ontario appeals court has dismissed a bid by the Diocese of London to fight a lower court’s decision to throw out a settlement involving a victim of child sexual abuse(link is external). Justice David Aston ruled in 2018 that London-area resident Irene Deschenes would not have settled with the church for the abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest had the church disclosed key information about previous sexual assault allegations.” By CBC News

FRANCE

Church orders French pedophile priest Preynat to compensate victims
“The Ecclesiastical Court of Lyon has paved the way for the compensation of victims of French ex-priest Bernard Preynat(link is external), convicted in March for the sexual assault of minors. In a sentence handed down on Thursday but made public two days later, 21 people assaulted by Preynat between 1971 and 1991 are to receive an unspecified amount of compensation.” By rfi.fr

GUAM

‘Look what he’s taken from me’: the deadly toll of Catholic church sex abuse on Guam
“Roosters crow in the distance as Walter Denton gestures toward a white one-story concrete building behind a church in Agat, a village in southern Guam. ‘You know, just standing here, right behind you, that is where I was raped,’ says Denton, 56. It has been more than three years since Denton first went public with accusations that Guam’s former archbishop Anthony Apuron assaulted him(link is external), and even though he has told the story many times his voice is still heavy with emotion.” By Anita Hofschneider, The Guardian

PHILIPPINES

Priest slams crimes against, and abuse of, children
“A Catholic priest said the sins and crimes committed against children are crimes that cry out to heavens for justice(link is external). Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac said this on the heels of a study by the International Justice Mission stating that the Philippines has become the world’s largest known source of online child sexual exploitation with parents and relatives the ones responsible for facilitating the abuse in nearly all cases.” By Leslie Ann Aquino, Manila Bulletin

POLAND

Polish priests defy bishops and pedophilia scandal
“The documentary ‘Hide and Seek’ by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, which was watched by almost 7 million people on YouTube within a week, continues to make waves in Poland. The film tells the story of two brothers who were sexually abused by a priest in the diocese of Kalisz in central Poland in the 1990s(link is external). They were 7 and 13 years old at the time. The documentary makes it clear that the local bishop, Edward Janiak, knew about the abuse and swept the scandal under the carpet. The filmmakers uncovered dozens of other cases in the diocese as well.” By Deutsche Welle

SOUTH KOREA

Bishop apologizes for priest’s sex abuse after 23 years
“Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Incheon, issued a statement apologizing for a priest’s sexual abuse(link is external) of students of a Catholic university about 23 years ago. The sexual abuse cases were made public recently through an investigative TV program. In a statement uploaded on the website of the Diocese of Incheon, the bishop said he was deeply sorry for letting such an inappropriate incident happen, confirming the media report was true.” By Park Ji-won, The Korea Times

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Australian bishops’ report advocates major changes to church governance / National Catholic Reporter

Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed “the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion” and “give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.” (National Catholic Reporter)

 A new report commissioned by Australia’s bishops and religious orders recommends a series of radical changes to the way the Catholic Church operates across the country, tackling issues as far-ranging as women’s inclusion in decision-making roles and the Vatican’s opaque process for making episcopal appointments.

“The overarching theme for the report — written as part of the local church’s response to a five-year government inquiry into institutional child sexual abuse — is how governance in the church can be more ‘co-responsible,’ or better shared among bishops, clergy and laypeople.

“Revelations of clergy abuse and cover-up, the authors state, showed ‘the widespread failure of the Church’s authorities to respond with justice and compassion’ and ‘give a particular focus to the need for reform in practices of governance within the Catholic Church.’

“The report, which encompasses seven chapters, four indices and a bibliography over its 208 pages, had originally been delivered to the Australian bishops in early May and kept confidential to allow the prelates time to digest its contents.”

By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on ‘zero tolearance’ / Cruxnow.com

“To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.” (cruxnow.com)

“‘Zero tolerance’ for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as ‘change,’ ‘hope’ and ‘progress,’ which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

“In American Catholic parlance, however, the term ‘zero tolerance’ does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

“In that sense, ‘zero tolerance’ remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal ‘zero tolerance’ policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely ‘American problem’ and described the ‘zero tolerance’ policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.”

By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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