Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 18, 2019


Bridgeport Diocese report on sex abuse among priests blames former Archbishop Edward Egan; nearly 300 individuals allegedly abused by 71 priests since 1953
“A scathing report released Tuesday (Oct. 1) by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport on the alleged sexual abuse of hundreds of victims by clergy(link is external) since the early 1950s blames former bishops Edward Egan and Walter Curtis for violating state law, destroying records and either outright ignoring or inadequately responding to ‘an unfolding crisis.’ As the number of priest abuse victims piled up, church leaders were more concerned about protecting assets and avoiding “scandalous news articles” than protecting children and removing priests, the report found.” By Dave Altimari and Amanda Blanco, Hartford Courant

Vatican prosecutors raid Secretariat of State in financial transaction investigation
“Vatican police officers conducted a raid Oct. 1 on the offices of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State and the city-state’s financial watchdog(link is external) authority regarding an investigation into unspecified financial transactions. The Vatican press office, which announced the raid in a two-sentence note, did not give many details about its scope or the matter being investigated. Its statement said merely that “documents and electronic devices” had been collected with regard to transactions that took place this summer.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican orders apostolic visitation for Diocese of Buffalo
“The Vatican announced on Oct. 3 that it has appointed the Most Rev. Nicholas DiMarzio of Brooklyn to lead an apostolic visitation for the troubled Diocese of Buffalo(link is external) ‘in the near future.’ The results of this fact-finding mission will be reported to the Holy See’s Congregation of Bishops. The Vatican communique described the visitation as a non-judicial and non-administrative process that will not be subject to a recent papal decree that updated procedures on bishop accountability.” By America Staff

Archdiocese of New York concludes year-long review into child sex abuse scandal
“A special investigator has concluded her year-long review into how the Archdiocese of New York handled the child sex abuse scandal(link is external). One year ago, Timothy Cardinal Dolan asked (former federal judge) Barbara Jones to look into how the archdiocese responded. She discussed her findings and recommendations Monday (Sept. 30) … Jones said all of the complaints received over the last several years involved alleged conduct from years, sometimes decades, ago. Most of the priests in question have since died. She said there have only been two substantiated complaints of sexual abuse of a minor by a priest in the archdiocese after 2002, and the archdiocese is effectively investigating each complaint.” By CBS-TV News New York

German bishops vote to adopt statutes for synodal assembly
“The bishops of Germany have voted to adopt a set of statutes for their long-planned ‘Synodal Assembly(link is external).’ The decision was taken in a vote on Wednesday, Sept. 25, the final day of the plenary session of the German bishops’ conference. The bishops voted to adopt the statutes by a margin of 51-12 with 1 abstention. The vote followed hours of debate concerning several amendments. Various changes were proposed and considered in response to Vatican concerns that a previous draft of the plans was ‘not ecclesiologically valid.’” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Australian states will require priests to report abuse disclosed in confession
“The Australian states of Victoria and Tasmania have become the latest in the country to pass legislation criminalizing priests who fail to report the abuse of children disclosed during confession(link is external). The country’s six states and two territories are all expected have such laws in place in coming months. But some clerics, including Melbourne Archbishop Peter Comensoli, one of Australia’s most senior and vocal bishops, have vowed to ignore the laws in an effort to uphold the seal of the confessional.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service


Pontifical university takes up sex abuse of nuns by priests
“A Togolese nun has successfully defended a first-ever dissertation at a Vatican-sanctioned university on the sexual abuse of nuns by priests(link is external) in the latest evidence of a problem confronting the Catholic Church in the #MeToo era. Sister Makamatine Lembo was awarded summa cum laude at her defense Thursday (Sept. 26) at the Pontifical Gregorian University, and was praised by her examiners for her courage in taking on such a taboo subject.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Unsupervised accused priests teach, counsel, foster children
Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar(link is external) with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found. These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centers. They foster and care for children.” By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press

Catholic priest sentenced to prison for molesting teenager
“A Catholic priest who pleaded no contest to sexually assaulting a Northern California teenager for more than a year has been sentenced to nearly five years in prison(link is external). KPIX-TV reports that Father David Mendoza-Vela, was sentenced Friday (Sept. 27). Prosecutors say Mendoza-Vela began molesting the boy in June 2016 when the victim was 14.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


Pope Francis may not change the world. But he is reshaping the church.
“Pope Francis and his push for openness — toward migrants, Muslims and gay people — may no longer have influence on a global stage where nationalists, populists and the far right dominate the political conversation. But inside the church is another story(link is external) … After Saturday (Oct. 5, when Francis elevates new cardinals at consistory), Francis will have named more than half of the voters within the College of Cardinals, where a two-thirds majority of those under the age of 80 are required to elect his successor.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times


Pope names 13 new cardinals, cements majority vote and the power to reshape the Church
“During a ceremony welcoming new cardinals into the Catholic Church, Pope Francis spoke of the danger that occurs ‘when a man of the Church becomes an official,’ calling them to more ‘compassion’ in a time when the Vatican faces financial scandals and internal divisions. ‘So many disloyal actions on the part of ecclesiastics are born of the lack of a sense of having been shown compassion, and by the habit of averting one’s gaze — the habit of indifference,’ he said. Pope Francis created 13 new cardinals at his sixth consistory on Saturday (Oct. 5), 10 of whom are under 80 years old and therefore eligible to vote at the next conclave for his successor(link is external).” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service


Australian prosecutors argue no ground for ex-Vatican treasurer’s final sex crimes appeal
“Prosecutors have urged Australia’s High Court to refuse to hear a final appeal by former Vatican treasurer George Pell(link is external) against his convictions for sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys in the late 1990s. In opposing arguments put by Pell’s lawyers to Australia’s highest court, prosecutors said there was no error in the approach taken by the Victorian state Court of Appeal.” By Reuters


New Zealand bishop resigns over ‘unacceptable’ sexual behavior
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a New Zealand bishop Friday over what church officials said was ‘completely unacceptable’ sexual behavior with a young woman(link is external). Palmerston North Bishop Charles Drennan, 59, had offered to resign following an independent investigation into the woman’s complaint, according to a statement from Cardinal John Dew, head of the Church in New Zealand.” By Nicole Winfield, Associate Press, on Cruxnow.com

Despite disagreements, German bishops commit to ‘synodal way’
“The German Bishops’ Conference completed its fall plenary assembly in Fulda with an announcement that the synodal way, a roundtable between the German Bishops’ Conference and the Zentralkomittee der Deutschen Katholiken (the Central Committee of German Catholics, or ZdK), Germany’s largest lay organization, will begin on the first day of Advent. ‘There are no stop signals from Rome for the synodal way and we will proceed with it(link is external) …’ according to a statement released by Cardinal Reinhard Marx of Munich and Freising, president of the German Bishops’ Conference, for the assembly’s conclusion on Sept. 26.” By Zita Ballinger Fletcher, National Catholic Reporter

Bishop Bransfield facing new abuse allegations
“Former Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston Michael Bransfield is facing an allegation that he touched inappropriately a nine year-old girl during a pilgrimage to Washington, DC, in 2012(link is external). A subpoena was delivered to diocesan authorities in the West Virginia diocese Oct.1. According to a report by the Washington Post, the girl, now 16, alleges that the unelaborated incident took place when she was supposedly left alone in a room with Bransfield in the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington during a diocesan-sponsored trip.” By Catholic News Agency

Catholic bishops consider married priests, face opposition
“At dusk in this small indigenous village, Antelmo Pereira calls local Catholics to prayer, changes into a white robe and leads a religious service that is the closest thing the faithful in this remote part of the Amazon can get to a proper Mass … Pereira, 61, has been a part-time missionary for the past 15 years, volunteering his time on weekends to visit indigenous communities that rarely see a priest. He leads prayer services called Celebrations of the Word but cannot celebrate Mass or hear confessions in the isolated places he visits, because he is married and has nine children(link is external), and cannot become a priest.” By Manuel Rueda, Associated Press


Possibility of woman deacons proposed on day three of the Amazon Synoc
“Several speakers at the synod have also proposed the ordination of women to the permanent diaconate(link is external). At the press briefing, Bishop Kräutler said that two-thirds of the communities in the Amazon are ‘coordinated and directed by women, so what do we do?’ He added, ‘We hear a lot about announcing the role of women, but what does it mean?… We need concrete solutions. I’m thinking of the women’s diaconate.’” By Luke Hansen, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review


Women in church leadership: 40 years after Sr. Theresa Kane’s request to pope
“On an October day four decades ago, Sr. Theresa Kane, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and head of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S., stood before 5,000 other sisters gathered to greet Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She spoke of the sisters’ ‘profound respect, esteem and affection’ for the pontiff. Then Kane uttered these memorable words: ‘Our contemplation leads us to state that the church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our church …’” By Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Past Vatican practice suggests Buffalo’s bishop won’t be ousted soon
“The saga of a disgraced Catholic bishop in Missouri reveals how unlikely it is that the pope would quickly force Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign(link is external) over his handling of a clergy abuse scandal. In 2012, Bishop Robert W. Finn of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph became the first Catholic prelate in the country to be convicted of protecting from prosecution a priest who had child pornography. A judge found Finn guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to tell police that one of his priests collected lewd images of young girls on his computer.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News


A Jesuit cardinal-designate says Pope Francis is making Vatican II real
“Pope Francis will ordain Michael Czerny, S.J., bishop on Oct. 4 and place the cardinal’s red hat on his head the following day, giving him the right to vote in the conclave to elect the pope’s successor. As he prepared for his elevation to the leadership ranks of the Catholic Church, the Canadian Jesuit spoke to America about how he interprets these events, what impresses him most about Pope Francis(link is external) and what he considers the three main challenges facing the church today.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: the Jesuit Review


Rochester diocese expects abuse claims to outstrip its assets
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese expects Child Victims Act sex-abuse claims to outstrip its entire stated assets by nearly $50 million(link is external). In papers filed Oct. 4, the diocese stated total assets of some $67 million against liabilities of $113.1 million. An estimated $90 million in anticipated sex-abuse claims accounts of almost all of the diocese’s liabilities. The $90 million in expected new claims would come on top of $1.9 million the diocese has already agreed to pay 19 claimants with whom it settled sex-abuse claims before its Sept. 12 Chapter 11 plea for court protection from creditors.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon


Vatican defends married priest proposal on Amazon agenda
“Organizers of a Vatican meeting on the Amazon defended plans to introduce debate on married priests(link is external), saying Thursday (Ocyt. 3) the proposal represents the ‘the voice of the local church’ and isn’t an official proposal of the pope. Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri acknowledged the Oct. 6-27 synod on the Amazon has generated criticism, including from cardinals who have accused organizers of making ‘heretical’ proposals in the working document.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

What’s wrong with priestly celibacy?
“Like a marriage, nobody enters seminary to join the Catholic priesthood against their own will — or at least they shouldn’t. A vow of celibacy is no different than a wedding vow, and both require personal consent. Though to live a celibate life willingly is a divine gift of bearing witness for Christ;(link is external) and to take up such a cross is seemingly unbearable for a life without grace. In a society that is progressively becoming more sexually permissive, priestly celibacy is a sure demonstration of non-conformity to the world and full submission to Christ and His Church.” By Rene Albert, Patheos


Francis, cardinals urge Amazon synod to consider new ideas, including married priests
Openness to new ways of thinking emerged as the primary theme of the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops for the Amazon(link is external) region on its first day of business (Oct. 7), with Pope Francis and the cardinals leading the three-week event telling the participating prelates not to be resistant to new ideas. Clearly enunciated among those new ideas: the possibility of ordaining married men to address the severe lack of Catholic ministers across the nine-nation region, and finding a way for the church to offer women there some kind of official ministerial work.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Chair of pope’s Amazon summit puts married priests, women squarely on the table
“Not wasting any time, the chairman of Pope Francis’s Synod of Bishops on the Amazon kicked things off Monday Oct. 7) morning by putting the hotly contested issues of married priests and the role of woman squarely on the assembly’s table(link is external). ‘Another issue consists in the lack of priests at the service of local communities in the area, with a consequent lack of the Eucharist, at least on Sundays, as well as other sacraments,’ said Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, appointed by Francis to serve as the relator, or chair, of the Oct. 6-27 gathering.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com


Notre Dame panel asks about clerical crisis: ‘Where are we now?’
“Some of the leading figures in the U.S. Catholic Church in charge of the response to the clerical sex abuse crisis convened(link is external) on the campus of the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday (Sept. 25) with a consensus that while the Church has been slow to reform, that change is underway. The event was an initiative of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, who opened the forum by summoning the famous words of Saint Francis of Assisi, ‘rebuild my church,’ as inspiration for the event dubbed ‘The Church Crisis: Where are we now?’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Catholic Church is still lax on oversight
“The scope of the child sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church, which was exposed early in this century, grew dramatically last year when U.S. dioceses began releasing names of clergy considered to be credibly accused. More than 5,000 names have now been disclosed. But that’s not the end of it(link is external).” By Times Herald-Record Editorial Board

We need to stop calling the pattern of sex abuse in the Catholic Church a travesty. It was a criminal conspiracy and the state hasn’t done enough to hold the guilty accountable.
“The latest revelations about sexual abuse aren’t new but they are nonetheless shocking(link is external): Edward Egan, during his tenure as bishop of the Bridgeport diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, methodically covered up allegations that priests in the diocese had sexually abused children. The man who would become a cardinal in New York aided and abetted the depravity of priests who found sexual pleasure in fondling innocent children.” By Hartford Courant Editorial Board

Can review of abuse cases ‘cleanse’ Lexington’s Catholic diocese? Only if victims come forward.
“Last December, Bishop John Stowe, the head of the Lexington Catholic diocese, announced that two lawyers would review the personnel files of every priest who’s worked here since the 50-county diocese was formed in 1988 and every sexual abuse claim ever made. The investigation would determine if sexual abuse complaints had been handled properly or if anything had been missed(link is external). That included any new complaints … But they haven’t heard about any new complaints, and are worried that word is not getting out beyond the Church that a new investigation is ongoing.” By Linda Blackford, Kentucky.com


Making sense of the Vatican’s looming financial scandal
“Last week, the Vatican released a mysterious statement acknowledging a raid by Vatican police on the offices of its Secretariat of State and of its financial watchdog agency(link is external), saying it was carried out by judicial order by the Vatican tribunal and with permission from unspecified ‘superiors.’ The Secretariat of State is the most powerful department in the Vatican bureaucracy. The Financial Information Authority, or AIF, was created in 2010 by then-Pope Benedict XVI to combat money laundering following the Vatileaks banking scandal.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service


Survivors of clergy abuse vs. Catholic Church lobbying dollars
“Survivors of clergy sexual abuse are up against big money in politics as they push for criminal and justice reform. A recent report showed the Catholic Church spent $10.6 million lobbying in northeast states since 2011(link is external). FOX43 Reveals how much money the Church paid out to lobby lawmakers in Pennsylvania, fighting bills that would have helped child sexual abuse survivors like the Fortney sisters.” By Rachel Yonkunas, FOX43-TV

Clergy sex abuse victims call for changes to Connecticut Law
“Advocates and victims of clergy sex abuse are calling for changes to Connecticut’s statute of limitations law(link is external). The Hartford Courant reports that victims hope the recent release of a report critical of Bridgeport church leaders’ response to clergy abuse will aid their fight to change the law. The report found 281 people were abused by 71 priests since the diocese’s inception.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

Lawsuit alleging decades-old clergy sex abuse will be first test of new R.I. statute of limitations law
“A former altar boy accusing a long-dead parish priest of sexually abusing him is bringing the first litigation under a new state law(link is external) expanding the statute of limitations for similar sexual misconduct cases. The Rev. Philip Magaldi has been dead for more than a decade, but the lawyer for his accuser says the Diocese of Providence and its hierarchy can be held accountable as perpetrators of the alleged abuse.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Glove

The Catholic Church and Boy Scouts are lobbying against child abuse statutes. This is their playbook.
“Pennsylvania state Rep. Tom Murt slid into a pew at his childhood church, seeking a break from politics and the stress of work. Instead, Murt got an earful. In his sermon, the priest talked about a bill pending in the state Legislature that would give survivors of child sexual abuse more time to sue their … Tom Murt, the priest said, wasn’t defending the church in its time of need. In fact, the Republican and lifelong Catholic was supporting the legislation. Such efforts may have appeared hyperlocal and deeply personal, but they weren’t. They were part of a coordinated effort by the Catholic Church to kill the Pennsylvania legislation(link is external). That effort extended from the halls of the statehouse – where church-sponsored lobbyists worked behind the scenes and testified publicly – to the very pews where some legislators bowed their heads in prayer.” By Marisa Kwiatkowski and John Kelly, USA TODAY

Child sexual abuse victims, legal scholars and pro-Catholic Church experts to testify before Senate Committee
“Pennsylvania lawmakers on Wednesday (Oct. 2) will embark on the next phase in the decade-old effort to reform the state’s child sex crime laws. A little more than a year since a scathing grand jury report recommended an overhaul to those laws, the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will determine the fate of three proposals aimed at reforming the statute of limitations(link is external). In particular, proposals to enable adults who were sexually assaulted as children to bring predators to justice are expected to prominently figure in the conversation.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com


New report shows over half of children in Cameroon face abuse
“A new report on child abuse in Cameroon shows that over 50 percent of Cameroon’s children have suffered various forms of abuse(link is external), with children with disabilities suffering proportionally far worse. The study was carried over a three-year period by the Cameroon Baptist Hospital Services in partnership with the Netherlands-based Liliane Foundation, using a variety of methods including focus group discussions and in-depth interviews.” By Cruxnow.com Staff


A reporter charted the harm caused by abusive priest in Alaska, a survivor lived through it
“The legacy of sexual abuse perpetrated by Jesuit priests against Alaskans in rural villages has haunted families and communities for decades(link is external). Shame and fear kept many victims silent for years but courageous voices brought light to the crimes. An investigative series tracked some of the worst offenders from Alaska to a retirement compound outside of the state. We’ll discuss the investigation and hear from an outspoken survivor on the next Talk of Alaska.” By Lori Townsend, Alaska Public Media


Abuse case against former Yakima priest in Fresno moves forward
“Witnesses have begun testifying in the case against a former catholic priest who once worked in the Yakima Valley and is now facing charges of sexual abuse(link is external). Jesus Antonio Castañeda-Serna is facing 20 counts including 16 counts of felony sexual battery against adult members of his church.” By KIMA-TV News


Colorado Catholic church abuse compensation program details revealed
“A new program was revealed Monday (Oct. 7) morning that will provide support for victims who have been sexually abused as minors by clergy of the Archdiocese of Denver, Diocese of Colorado Springs and Diocese of Pueblo. In February, the Colorado Office of the Attorney General, the Archdiocese of Denver, Diocese of Colorado Springs, and Diocese of Pueblo announced a new initiative to assist survivors of priest sexual abuse by launching an Independent Compensation Program (ICP).” By Janet Oravetz, 9News.com


Investigation found 281 victims of sexual abuse by clergy in the Bridgeport Diocese
“An independent investigation into sexual abuse by clergy in the Diocese of Bridgeport has identified 281 victims of abuse(link is external) over the past 65 years. The report on the investigation, which was done by retired Connecticut Superior Court Judge Robert L. Holzberg, was released on Tuesday (Oct. 1). Holzberg discussed the report during a news conference Tuesday morning and said they believe there are more victims. He said his investigation found 71 priests within the Bridgeport Diocese who were credibly accused of sexual abuse. The victims ranged in age from 5 to 18 years old.” By NBC-TV News Connecticut


Lawsuit filed against Diocese of Venice for inappropriate contact during confession
“An Avon Park woman has filed a $15 million suit against the Diocese of Venice, alleging that the Rev. Nicholas McLoughlin, 77, formerly of Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Avon Park, attempted to grope and sexually assault her during confession(link is external) in April 2018. The Oct. 2 lawsuit filed in the 12th Judicial Circuit by Fort Lauderdale-based attorney Adam Horowitz on behalf of the woman — who was identified only as L.B. — alleges the Diocese and Bishop Frank. J. Dewane should have known that McLoughlin was ‘unfit, dangerous, and/or a threat to the health, safety, care, health and well-being of their parishioners such as L.B.’” By Earle Kimel, Herald-Tribune


Diocese of Dodge City names 10 priests, two seminarians accused of child sex crimes
“The Diocese of Dodge City has released the names of 10 priests and two seminarians accused with ‘substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of children(link is external).’ Five of the priests: Donald Fiedler, John Haberthier, Augustine Hanchak, Cletus (“Jerry”) Stein, Edward Young – had allegations within the Dodge City Diocese. The other five: Orestes Huerta, Mario Islas, Richard Kolega, Donald Straub and Joseph Thiesen – worked in the diocese but had allegations from outside of it. The two seminarians are Heleodoro (“Leo”) de Hoyos and Joel McClure.” By KWCH-TV12 News


Ex-deacon and Jesuit, Shaw high schools targeted by lawsuits alleging clergy abuse
“Three new lawsuits filed last week in Orleans Parish Civil District Court allege separate cases of sexual abuse decades ago by a former deacon(link is external) currently facing criminal charges, a priest at Jesuit High School in New Orleans, and a priest and a religious brother who worked at Archbishop Shaw High School in Marrero.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com


Former Catholic priest takes plea deal in sexual abuse investigation
“A former Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor after a Detroit-area jury said it was having trouble reaching a unanimous verdict in his sexual abuse tria(link is external)l. The Michigan Attorney General’s office says Patrick Casey pleaded guilty Tuesday (Oct. 8) to aggravated assault. He was accused of engaging in sex acts with a younger man who was struggling with his Catholic faith and homosexuality and had sought Casey’s counsel in 2013. The maximum penalty is a year in jail.” By Steve Carmody and The Associated Press, Michigan Public Radio

Sexual assault charges dismissed against priest with ties to Brighton church
Sexual assault charges have been dropped against a Catholic priest(link is external) with ties to a Brighton church, a spokeswoman for the Michigan Attorney Generals Office confirmed Wednesday (Oct. 2). Timothy Michael Crowley, 70, was charged in May with four counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in 15th District Court in Washtenaw County. He was one of the first five priests Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office charged in late May.” By Kayla Daugherty, Livingston Daily

Lansing diocese names 17 accused priests; says no credible accusation since 2002
“Over the past eight decades, 17 priests were credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) in the Diocese of Lansing, according to a new report issued on Friday (Sept. 27). The data released by the diocese says this makes up just 2.8 percent of the clergy who have served in the Michigan diocese since its founding in 1937.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com


Missouri AG rejects sunshine request from survivor network regarding abuse in Catholic church
“A clergy abuse survivors group is accusing Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt of making a ‘secret deal’ with the Catholic church(link is external) to not go after church hierarchy in its recent release of a list of predator priests. The Missouri Attorney General’s office has rejected a Sunshine Request made by the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a request to find out if the church made a deal with the AG to protect higher-ups in an investigation of accused priests.” By Kevin Killeen, KMOX-AM


Retired Montana priest gets five years on child porn charge
“A retired Catholic priest in Montana who pleaded guilty to receiving child pornography has been sentenced to five years in priso(link is external)n. The Great Falls Tribune reports 81-year-old Lothar Konrad Krauth was sentenced Thursday (Oct. 3) to the minimum term allowed by statute. He was accused in November of receiving child pornography after investigators received a tip identifying a Great Falls IP address as uploading an image of a nude prepubescent male child.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com


Westchester priest placed on administrative leave by archdiocese over child abuse allegation
“The pastor of the only Catholic church in Mamaroneck has been placed on ‘administrative leave’ over allegations under the Child Victims Act(link is external). The letter was sent out by Dolan, obtained by PIX11 News. Monsignor James E. White has had his ministry “temporarily restricted” according to a letter sent by Archbishop Timothy Michael Cardinal Dolan of New York and obtained by PIX11 News.” By WPIX-TV11 News

Suspended priest accused in lawsuit of molesting teen 43 years ago
“The Rev. Arthur J. Smith, who has been a magnet for controversy in the Buffalo Diocese clergy abuse scandal, is accused in a lawsuit of sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy(link is external) 43 years ago during a field trip to Washington, D.C., for eighth-grade students from a local Catholic school. The boy and his two sisters were permitted by the principal at St. Bernadette Elementary School in Orchard Park to go on the field trip in 1976, according to the lawsuit. The boy was assigned to sleep in the same hotel room as Smith during the trip.” By Mike McAndres, The Buffalo News

Case dismissed against New York priest accused of abuse
“A priest of the Archdiocese of New York has been cleared of accusations of sexual abuse(link is external) after the judge dismissed the case at the request of District Attorney’s office. ‘We were pleased today to learn that the charges against Father Thomas Kreiser have been dismissed,’ said a statement from the Archdiocese of New York on Sept. 24. ‘Father Kreiser has steadfastly maintained his innocence, and it is good to see justice has been done.’” By Catholic News Agency


Diocese of Tulsa: Report released on credible allegations of child sexual abuse by clerics
“The Catholic Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma has released the names of priests and deacons they say are credibly accused of sexually abusing minors(link is external) over the last 46 years. Bishop David A. Konderla published a report of all clerics who, since the beginning of the diocese in 1973, have been credibly accused. The report names nine priests and two deacons.” By Ashley Ellis, KTUL-TV8 News


Pennsylvania priest placed on leave after allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor
“A priest in Cambria County, Pennsylvania, has been placed on leave from public ministry after being accused of sexual misconduct involving a minor(link is external), according to a statement issued September 27 by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Rev. David R. Rizzo, administrator of Saint Augustine Parish and Saint Monica Parish, is the subject of the allegations involving an incident that took place several years ago. Authorities have been alerted to the accusation.” By Jeffery Martin, Newsweek

New Chapter opens in Pennsylvania in fight over suing church
“When post offices close Monday (Sept. 30), the last victim compensation funds at Pennsylvania’s Roman Catholic dioceses will also close(link is external), hours before lawmakers plunge back into a years-old fight over whether to let long-ago victims of child sexual abuse sue perpetrators and institutions that may have covered it up. It comes more than a year after last year’s landmark grand jury report that accused senior Catholic Church officials of hushing up the abuse for decades.” By Marc Levy, Associated Press, in The State

Diocese: Retired priest said he abuse minor in 1980s
“The Diocese of Allentown says an 87-year-old priest recently said he sexually abused a minor in the 1980s(link is external). Stephen J. Halabura has been barred from ministry. Halabura was ordained in 1961 and retired in 2008. Since his retirement he had been serving as a substitute priest.” By Associated Press


Former altar boy alleges abuse by R.I. Catholic priest in lawsuit
“A former altar boy says in a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence as well as its current and former bishops that he was sexually abused by a priest(link is external) decades ago. The 53-year-old plaintiff says in the suit filed this week that the Rev. Philip Magaldi, pastor at St. Anthony Church in North Providence, abused him 100 to 300 times from the late 1970s until the early 1980s when he was between 12 and 17 years old.” By Karla Rendon-Alvarez, New England Cable News

State Police create hotline to report clergy sexual abuse
“The Rhode Island State Police have created a new hotline for people to report allegations of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The State Police announced the new telephone line within the Major Crimes Unit. Detectives are working with Rhode Island Attorney General Peter Neronha to review of allegations of sexual abuse by clergy since 1950. Neronha, a Democrat, announced in July he had gained access to nearly 70 years of records from the Diocese of Providence for the review.” By Associated Press in Stamford Advocate


Another Jesuit Dallas graduate sues school and diocese, alleging priest sexually assaulted him
“Another graduate of Jesuit College Preparatory School of Dallas has sued the school, claiming that a priest sexually assaulted him while he was a student(link is external) there in the 1980s. The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Dallas County civil court, also names the Catholic Diocese of Dallas among the defendants. The suit alleges the school and the diocese did not protect the student from being abused by the Rev. Patrick Koch and then covered up the abuse.” By Tom Steele, The Dallas Morning News


One boy: how a Vermonter rose above priest abuse
“The stranger pulled a privacy curtain around the bed. A cleric’s hands hold healing powers, the adult said before placing a communion wafer on the boy’s tongue, followed by a kiss on his lips. ‘You will be cured,’ (Dan) Gilman recalls hearing, ‘and you will be a normal kid again.’ The boy wanted to believe as the priest went on to undress him. ‘I closed my eyes and hoped to God it was true,’ Gilman recalls. ‘I prayed that putting my faith in his hands, literally in his hands, would lead to great things for me.’ That’s why the boy stayed silent about the subsequent two years of sexual abuse(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.com

One priest: How a Vermont cleric kept abusing children
“The personnel file of the former Rev. Edward Paquette, hidden by Vermont’s Catholic Church for nearly a half-century, contains a startling confession as to why leaders expelled the most problematic priest in the history in the state’s largest religious denomination. ‘No longer could keep lid on things,’ a 1978 internal memo says. But a rare look at the records shows that’s not the biggest surprise … (In a letter to the diocese requesting ministry, he said he wanted to) move back east to be closer to his aging parents. Almost as an aside, he added: ‘I did have problems but received medical treatment, and I am now cured.’ Paquette didn’t say his problem was sexually abusing boys(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.com

One diocese: how Vermont’s Catholic Church aims to atone
“Dan Gilman can cite too many reasons for questioning his childhood faith in God. Take the freak accident that paralyzed him at age 15. The subsequent two years of sexual abuse by a priest.(link is external) His adult attempt to return to his hometown parish, where the pastor greeted him by asking, “Does your equipment work?” The cleric, looking at Gilman’s lap, wasn’t inquiring about his motorized wheelchair. But none of that stopped the 62-year-old Rutland resident from reaching out to Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne last fall when the leader of the state’s largest religious denomination gave long-locked personnel files to a lay committee to review and publicly release the names of problematic priests.” By Kevin O’Connor, VtDigger.com


‘May God have mercy on your soul’: Vicitms speak as ex-priest gets maximum sentence for sexual assault
“An audible sigh of relief was let loose in the Sawyer County Courthouse on Thursday (Sept. 26) as a former Wisconsin priest received a maximum prison sentence for sexually assaulting young boys(link is external) in the 1980s. Four men celebrated the moment in the Hayward courtroom after sharing stories of abuse perpetrated by a man they once trusted. One of the victims, a teacher from Merrill, went public with his identity for the first time Thursday.” By Laura Schutte, Wausau Daily Herald


Top African cardinal says pope’s anti-abuse rules should be extended
“Africa’s top prelate has hit back against the notion that clerical sexual abuse is a purely western problem(link is external), saying it happens on his home turf, too. Speaking to Crux, Cardinal Philippe Nakellentuba Ouédraogo said: ‘Crimes of sexual abuse offend our Lord, cause physical, psychological and spiritual damage to the victims and harm the community of the faithful.’” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com


Catholic priest charged with sexual offenses against 11 children at NSW school
“A Catholic priest who allegedly abused 11 children at a New South Wales college(link is external) 30 years ago now faces more child sexual abuse charges. On Tuesday (Oct. 1) the 78-year-old, who is already before the courts after being charged in April with nine sexual and indecent assaults at a Southern Highlands boarding school, was rearrested and charged with another 18 offences. These include sexual assault offences, indecent assault offences, and offences of gross indecency.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

Gerald Risdale victim to receive more than $1 million from Catholic Church
“The Catholic church will pay more than $1m to a victim of Gerald Ridsdale(link is external), one of the country’s most notorious pedophile priests, in a landmark settlement reached on Friday (Sept. 27). The man, who can only be identified by the pseudonym JCB, was raped by Ridsdale in April 1982. At the time, he was nine years old and Ridsdale was the parish priest at St Colman’s church in the town of Mortlake.” By Naaman Zhou, The Guardian

Sex abuse scandal leaves Australian Church, government scrambling for solutions
“In the wake of a major clergy sex abuse scandal and the high-profile, controversial trial and conviction of sex abuse of Cardinal George Pell, government and Church officials in Australia are scrambling for solutions(link is external). Among these proposed or enacted interventions are those that would break with teachings or traditions of the Catholic Church. One such oft-proposed intervention is the scrapping of the seal of confession, a proposed solution included in the Australian Royal Commission’s report on clergy abuse published last year.” By Catholic News Agency


Bangladesh cardinal says Church has updated its abuse reporting policy
“Bangladesh’s bishops’ conference has decided to have each diocese appoint a designated priest to handle sex abuse accusations, and not establish a central office(link is external) at the bishops’ conference for child protection. Bangladesh has two archdioceses and six dioceses for the country’s fewer than 400,000 Catholics, approximately 0.5 percent of the predominantly Muslim population. Most of the Catholics come from the country’s most marginalized communities, and the Church is relatively poor.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 27, 2019


A Rhode Island church was told it hired an accused child molester: It kept him on for two decades
“When the Rev. Barry Gamache arrived at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church in early 1997, it had been a dozen years since a former longtime parish priest was hauled away for sexually abusing teenage boys … And when the new priest needed someone to handle the church’s finances, he found a parishioner who was eager to help: David E. Barboza. A Globe investigation this summer revealed that Barboza had been accused of sexual misconduct with three boys in the 1970s and 1980s(link is external). Gamache said he was ‘surprised and hurt’ by those revelations. Two other men have subsequently reported to the State Police that they were also victims, and still others have made similar allegations to the Globe.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe

Revealed: How pedophile priests in Victoria worked together to share vicitms
“Some of the Catholic church’s worst pedophile priests shared victims, passed on details of vulnerable children considered easy targets and worked together to conceal their crimes(link is external) as part of informal networks of sexual abuse hidden in Australian seminaries, schools and parishes. An investigation by The Age has identified for the first time that many priests involved in historical sexual abuse of children did not simply act as individuals but formed clusters, or pedophile rings, throughout Victoria, from the western district to the Gippsland region and in suburban Melbourne.” By Farrah Tomazin, Chris VedeLago and Debbie Cuthertson

Safeguarding must be imbedded into Church life across the globe
“The 11th Ordinary Plenary Assembly of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors concludes in Rome … According to a press release issued at the conclusion of the Assembly, there is a continuing need for the culture and mission of Safeguarding to be systemically embedded into the life of the Church across the globe(link is external). In this regard, the Pontifical Commission is engaged in three specific Working Groups: Working with Survivors, Formation and Education, and Safeguarding Guidelines and Norms.” By Vatican News

Cardinal George Pell to appeal to high court over child sexual abuse conviction
“Lawyers for Cardinal George Pell have lodged a special leave application with the high court to try to appeal his historical sex abuse convictions(link is external), which will be his final avenue to have his conviction overturn. The high court on Tuesday (Sept. 17) confirmed it had received the application through its Melbourne registry. The lodging of the appeal does not mean the high court will agree to hear the case.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian

Abuse crisis, leadership failure having impact on church giving
“The Catholic Church in the United States has spent a staggering amount of money – close to $4 billion in the past 20 years – to investigate, adjudicate and prevent clergy sex abuse, and to compensate victims for the harm they’ve suffered. And as those expenses have prompted dioceses to lay off staff, sell property and liquidate some assets, there is growing evidence that more Catholics across the country are deciding not to contribute(link is external) to their bishops’ diocesan appeals because of the scandals.” By Brian Fraga, Catholic News Service, Cruxnow.com

Bishop’s secret list of accused priests leaves him besieged
“Bishop Richard J. Malone kept a secret black binder in a closet with a list of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse(link is external). He was recorded in a conversation expressing more concern about his own reputation than about removing a priest whom he called dangerous and a ‘sick puppy.’ And some of the bishop’s own clergy are circulating a letter of no-confidence in him.” By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times

‘Seduction’ of children did little harm, said Catholic gatekeeper
“The psychologist who worked with the Catholic church for three decades to screen candidates for the priesthood once characterized child abuse as ‘seduction’ that would do little lasting harm to its victims(link is external). Ronald Conway, the Melbourne Archdiocese’s “consulting psychologist for religious vocations” tested applicants to the Corpus Christi seminary from 1969 to at least 2001, during which time 16 child abusers graduated as priests. Mr Conway himself was later accused of historical sexual misconduct by former patients of his private practice, though never charged or convicted.” By Chris Vedelago, Farrah Tomazin and Debbie Cuthertson


Cincinnati bishop ‘anticipating’ Vatican investigation into handling of abuse cases
“Archbishop Dennis Schnurr of Cincinnati has submitted a report to Rome, following criticism of the archdiocese’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse against a local priest(link is external). Archdiocesan officials told CNA Sept. 17 that a complete file on the case of Fr. Geoff Drew has been sent to the apostolic nuncio in Washington, DC, for transmission to the relevant curial departments, expected to include the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency

Jurors deadlocked in trial of priest accused of molestation
“A Kansas jury was unable to reach a verdict in the trial of a Kansas priest who was suspended from the ministry after he was accused of inappropriately touching a young girl(link is external) on two occasions. A Wyandotte County jury announced Monday (Sept. 16) evening that it could not determine the guilt or innocence of the Rev. Scott Kallal, 37, who was charged with two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child. He was accused of inappropriately touching a 10-year-old girl in 2015 at a Kansas City, Kansas, church gymnasium and again at a graduation party in Bonner Springs.” By The Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter

Vatican prosecutors request indictment of Italian priest on charges of sexual abuse
“Vatican prosecutors have requested the indictment of an Italian priest on charges of sexual abuse(link is external) that occurred at least seven years ago at a minor seminary located within the Vatican walls. The prosecutors also requested the indictment of the rector of the seminary at the time of the alleged crime, on charges of aiding and abetting abuse, the Vatican press office announced Sept. 17. The requested indictments appear to be the first of their kind for sexual abuse committed on Vatican territory.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Missouri AG issues report regarding clergy abuse in the Roman Catholic Church; identifies 12 cases for potential criminal prosecution, more than any other state attorney general
“Today (Sept. 13), Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt held a press conference to announce the findings of the investigation into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy members in the Roman Catholic Church(link is external). After an extensive review of the records of thousands of clergy members and conducting interviews with victims, the Attorney General’s Office will refer 12 former clergy members for potential criminal prosecution, the most of any state attorney general probe, and laid out suggested guidelines for the Catholic Church moving forward.” By Office of the Missouri Attorney General


Attacks against Pope Francis are aimed at influencing the next conclave
“‘The attacks against Pope Francis in the church today’ are ‘a fight between those who want the church dreamed of by the Second Vatican Council and those who do not want this(link is external),’ Arturo Sosa, the Superior General of the Jesuits, stated at the Foreign Press Association in Rome on Sept. 16. Speaking to the press in Italian, he said … ‘I am convinced that it is not only an attack against this pope. Francis is convinced of what he is doing, ever since he was elected pope. He will not change.’ And his critics ‘know he will not change,’ said Father Sosa, adding, ‘In reality, these [attacks] are a way to influence the election of the next pope.’” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review


What 10 new cardinal tell us about Pope Francis’ priorities
“In announcing the appointment of 10 new cardinal electors, Pope Francis has improved the possibility that the next pope will continue his policies, but their appointments have also sent a message to the church about what should be the priorities of its leaders(link is external). Cardinals do not just elect popes. They also help guide the church through committees, called congregations, that supervise the work of Vatican offices. Who serves on these congregations can influence the direction and priorities of these offices.” By Thomas J. Reese, America: The Jesuit Review


Cardinal Pell lodges high court appeal
“Cardinal George Pell’s lawyers have lodged a High Court challenge to his conviction(link is external), saying he was asked to prove the impossible by two appeal court judges. His lawyers argue that Victoria’s Court of Appeal mistakenly reversed the onus of proof when hearing his case, forcing him to prove it was impossible for him to sexually assault two choirboys in a cathedral.” By CathNews.com


Bishop Malone accused of mishandling sex abuse in Maine, before he came to western New York
“At a news conference two weeks ago, Buffalo Bishop Richard J. Malone said he had a good record on dealing with sexually abusive priests. ‘You call it cover-up, we call it confidentiality,’ he told reporters. Malone pointed to his time in the Diocese of Portland, Maine, where he served for eight years before coming to Buffalo. But on the ground in the bishop’s old diocese, advocates for victims of sexual abuse and new documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team paint a much different picture(link is external) of the bishop’s past — especially when it comes to dealing with sexual abuse.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Former Albany bishop denies second abuse claim
“Former Catholic Bishop Howard J. Hubbard has been accused of sexual abuse in a second civil complaint(link is external) — this one alleging he and two other Albany priests sexually assaulted a teenage girl repeatedly in the rectory of Immaculate Conception Church in Schenectady in the late 1970s. In a statement released Monday (Sept. 16), Hubbard denied the new claim and reiterated his earlier assertion that he has never sexually abused anyone.” By Cayla Harris and Steve Hughes, Albany Times Union

Bishop Bransfield’s life of luxury
“New details have emerged about the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield(link is external). Bransfield spent nearly one million dollars on private jets and over $660,000 on airfare and hotels during his 13 years as bishop of his former diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

A new investigation by the Washington Post, published on September 12, reported that during his last year in active ministry, Bransfield took at least 19 trips in what was described as a chartered luxury jet. Those trips cost the diocese more than $142,000.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic Herald

  • Bishop of West Virginia, one of the poorest states, lived a life of luxury, By David Gew


Women walking together, away from the church
“The Vatican released the participants’ list for the upcoming Synod for the Pan-Amazon Region the other day. All 185 synod votes belong to men. There is one voting lay person: Ecuadorian Holy Family Br. Miguel Angel González Antolín, one of 15 named by the men’s Union of Superiors General. The 10 women religious nominated by the women’s International Union of Superiors General (UISG) are in the back rows(link is external), with 45 other auditors.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

‘It’s our church, too’: Conference to focus on need for women’s leadership
“Women’s inroads as leaders in the church and society is to be celebrated, but there is still much work to do so that churches, businesses and governments can benefit from the gifts and talents of half the human race. So say speakers tapped to share their wisdom on the topic of women’s leadership at the second Women of the Church conference(link is external), scheduled for Oct. 18-20 at St. Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter


Revised archdiocesan child protection policy also emphasizes safe environments for adults
“The Archdiocese of Washington’s Child Protection Policy was instituted in 1986 as one of the first such policies in the nation and has been used as a model for dioceses nationwide. The policy – which covers healing, reporting and prevention of abuse – was updated in 1993, 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2013 to incorporate enhancements in child protection mandates and oversight. And in July 2019, the policy was again revised, with a new title that reflects its expanded scope, as the archdiocese’s Child Protection and Safe Environment Policy(link is external), to emphasize the importance of ensuring safe environments for people of all ages, protecting children from sexual abuse and adults from sexual harassment or abuses of power.” By Mark Zimmermann, Catholic Standard, Archdiocese of Washington


A New York diocese filed for bankruptcy. Why more may follow.
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester was the first in New York to seek bankruptcy protection under the financial weight of new sexual misconduct lawsuits(link is external), but lawyers and church leaders say it may not be the last. The state’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses are facing financial pressures as a result of the state’s new Child Victims Act … More than 400 cases have been brought against the dioceses since Aug. 14, when the law’s one-year “look back” period for such suits began.” By CBS-TV News

Bishop says bankruptcy could be best balance of justice for sex abuse victims
“Bishop Malone says he’s close to making a decision on whether the Buffalo Diocese will file for bankruptcy(link is external) but he says he’s not there yet. Today (Sept. 19) on WBEN Radio, the bishop spoke about the decision to either litigate cases filed under the Child Victims Act or file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The bishop says there have been 138 cases filed against the diocese so far. He expects for there to be around 250 to 275 cases filed under the Child Victims Act.” By WIVB-TV4, Buffalo, N.Y.


Amazon archbishop backs ordination of married priests
“According to a Spanish missionary archbishop who’s been in Ecuador since 1998, ‘We must thank God that there are still prophets like Pope Francis’ who think about the future. Specifically, the bishop backed the ordination of married men as priests in the Amazon(link is external), supporting the idea of calling viri probati, or tested married men, into the priesthood to serve isolated rural communities.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Germany’s Catholic Church struggles with women and power
Catholic women are demanding change in the church and giving Germany’s bishops an earful(link is external) as they meet in Fulda. The bishops are under pressure — from the progressive grassroots at home and from a reluctant Vatican. They won’t let up. Catholic women protested in the central city of Fulda ahead of the plenary assembly of Germany’s Catholic bishops on Monday (Sept. 23) afternoon. ‘We want to be visible and audible. And I believe that we owe it to the women and men of the Catholic Church that we are heard more,’ said Mechthild Heil, head of the Catholic Women’s Community of Germany (kfd).” By Deutsche-Welle


A place for the Church’s thinking
“University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh once called Notre Dame ‘a place where the Church does its thinking.’ Although the origin of Hesburgh’s words have been lost to time, their meaning remains clear: Notre Dame could be a sanctuary for Catholic reflection – a meeting ground for the Church to convene and bring about concrete change … As the face of Catholic scholarship in the U.S., perhaps Notre Dame is a fitting venue for this discussion(link is external) by merit of its reputation alone. But there is a far greater reason we need this conference: Many in the tri-campus community feel the wounds of the crisis deeply.” By The Observer Editorial Board

Latest Pew survey a case of good-news, bad-news for American religious leaders
“Results from the latest Pew Research survey on how much trust Americans have in those holding positions of power and responsibility offer both good and bad news for religious leaders, particularly those of the Christian faith. First, the bad news: According to the survey results, published Sept. 19, religious leaders in America fall behind journalists, police officers and military officers in terms of public confidence in their ethical behavior(link is external).” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com


Financial toll of priest sex abuse on Chicago Archdiocese? $220 million and climbing
“Underscoring how the Chicago Archdiocese continues to pay millions of dollars for clergy sex abuse of children(link is external) that occurred decades ago, a prominent attorney announced Tuesday (Sept. 17) that he has newly settled cases for the long-ago misdeeds of five former Catholic priests. The archdiocese has paid more than $80 million since 2001 to 160 people represented by Jeff Anderson’s firm, the attorney said. That’s a large chunk of the estimated $220 million that the archdiocese had spent in total to settle such claims, the church confirmed.” By Madeline Buckley and Elyssa Cherney


Predator priests: When will Missouri scrap statute of limitations for sex crimes
“Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt has referred the cases of a dozen former Catholic priests accused of sexually abusing minors to prosecutors after a year-long investigation. That potential for justice for any of those so long denied is appreciated, though it’s impossible to say how many of the dozen men will be charged, much less convicted. But charges can’t even be pursued against 46 other ex-clergy because the statute of limitations on the allegations against them has expired(link is external).” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board


Notre Dame study: 6 percent of seminarians report sexual misconduct; 90 percent report none
“According to new research from the University of Notre Dame’s McGrath Institute for Church Life, 6 percent of Catholic seminarians across the country say they have experienced some form of sexual harassment, abuse or misconduct, while 90 percent report none(link is external). Another 4 percent said they might have experienced misconduct but were not sure, and 84 percent of seminarians believe their administration and faculty take reports of such misconduct very seriously. ‘Sexual Harassment and Catholic Seminary Culture’ is a laity-led, first-of-its-kind survey that was carried out in a collaboration between the McGrath Institute and the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate.” By Amanda Skofstad, Notre Dame News

Six California Catholic dioceses announce launch of victim compensation program
“Six Catholic dioceses in California, including San Bernardino, Orange and Los Angeles, on Monday (Sept. 16) announced the launch of a victim compensation program allowing them to settle claims of clergy sexual abuse outside of court(link is external). The California Catholic Conference announced in May that the six dioceses were forming the Independent Compensation Program (ICP) for Victim-Survivors of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests. Registration opened Monday for victims who want to file claims. The other participating dioceses include San Diego, Fresno and Sacramento.” By Joe Nelson and Scott Schwebke, The San Bernardino Sun

Catholic priest files defamation lawsuit after being outed as alleged predator
“A lawsuit by a former priest is seeking punitive damages for ‘severe humiliation, mental anguish, and emotional and physical distress(link is external)’ after being outed as an accused child molester by the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego. J. Patrick Foley of Sacramento, California, claims that the Diocese promoted a ‘reckless disregard for the truth’ in a September 12 filing with San Diego Superior Court. In 2018, Foley was one of eight men added to a list of Catholic clergy believed by the Diocese to be responsible for sexually abusing children. Foley’s lawsuit alleges that his inclusion on the list amounts to publishing ‘false and defamatory material.’” By Aila Slisco, Newsweek


Compensation process opens for clergy sex-abuse victims
“Childhood victims of clergy sex-abuse in San Diego and five other Roman Catholic dioceses in California can file for compensation under a program that started accepting claims this week(link is external). The Independent Compensation Program, announced in May, is being run by lawyers Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, two experienced adjudicators who handled the 9/11 victims fund, among others. They are also administering claims programs for abuse victims in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Colorado.” By John Wilkens, The San Diego Union-Tribune


Some question if Colorado probe of Catholic Church will uncover full scope of priests’ abuse
“As investigations in other states produce arrests and unearth abuse allegations within the Catholic Church, some people in Colorado are questioning if negotiations before the state’s review began will protect the church’s reputation and prevent the disclosure(link is external) of decades worth of closely held secrets.” By Tony Kovaleski, ABC-TV7 News


Illinois opens 24 Catholic Church sexual abuse cases that were never investigated
“The Illinois Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) is opening 24 cases of alleged priest misconduct that were never investigated. Now, there are concerns that over 1,000 reports of possible sexual misconduct by clergy within the Catholic church were not reviewed properly(link is external). In 2006, the DCFS entered an agreement with the Archdiocese of Chicago. Under the requirements of said agreement, the church was supposed to report any allegation of abuse they became aware of to the DCFS, regardless of the alleged victim’s age. Under state law, these cases do not have to be reported to DCFS if the victim is no longer a minor.” By Jeffery Martin, Newsweek


Wichita diocese names 15 priests accused of child sexual abuse
“The Catholic Diocese of Wichita has released the names of 15 priests who have been accused of child sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese said in a release on Thursday that claims against diocesan clergy on the list have been substantiated. Nine of the priests are with the Catholic Diocese of Wichita, and six who, though not priests of the diocese, served in the diocese for a period of time.” By KAKE-TV News


Madonna Manor, Catholic home for troubled youth in Marrero, at center of new abuse lawsuit
“A 61-year-old man has filed a lawsuit alleging he was repeatedly abused during the 1960s and 1970s by a high-ranking Catholic priest, three nuns and a lay employee(link is external) with ties to a church-run home for troubled youth in Marrero. Eric Reynolds’ lawsuit, filed Thursday (Sept. 19) at Orleans Parish Civil District Court, accuses priest Raymond Hebert, civilian staffer Charlie Earhart and nuns Martin Marie, Alvin Marie and Gertrude Marie of either molesting or beating him over 10 years after his arrival at Madonna Manor in about 1965.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, Nola.com (The Times-Picayune and The New Orleans Advocate)


Former Diocese of Lansing priest faces additional sexual assault charge
“A Catholic priest who once served parishes in three counties within the Catholic Diocese of Lansing faces an additional sexual assault charge(link is external). Rev. Vincent DeLorenzo was among the first five priests Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office charged in late May. DeLorenzo, now 80, was charged with three counts each of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and second-degree criminal sexual conduct based on allegations he fondled and assaulted a young boy for five years while he was pastor at Holy Redeemer Church near Flint.” By Megan Banta, Lansing State Journal


Missouri’s stilted probe of clergy abuse must not be the last word on the issue
“With the Catholic Church’s sordid history of enabling and covering up the sexual abuse of children by priests, and the long failure of government to confront those crimes, it’s tempting to cheer any progress toward justice. That’s why, at first blush, last week’s news might have appeared promising: Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt forwarded the names of 12 former priests to local authorities for possible prosecution after an investigation that dredged up scores of previously unreported allegations against clergy in the state. But a closer look suggests this progress toward justice is at best minimal(link is external).” By The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board


Former Howell priest charged with sexual abuse of a minor
“ A former pastor at St. Veronica Catholic Church in Howell has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor in incidents back in the late 1990s(link is external), announced Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni. Father Brendan Williams, 78, of Lawrence, NJ was arrested and charged with second-degree sexual assault—criminal sexual contact on a victim under the age of 13. Williams was pastor at St. Veronica at the time the alleged criminal acts occurred, between 1997 and 1999.” By Kimberly Bosco, JerseyShoreOnline.com


Former priest likely to spend the rest of his life in prison for abusing an altar boy in New Mexico
“A former Roman Catholic priest who spent decades on the run was sentenced to 30 years in federal prison for sexually abusing an altar boy(link is external) in New Mexico. At a sentencing hearing Friday (Sept. 13), US District Judge Martha Vazquez described the case involving Arthur Perrault, 81, as the ‘worst case that I have ever handled and ever seen.’ Perrault was convicted in April of seven federal counts for the early 1990s sexual assault of a 10-year-old boy, who was an altar boy at St. Bernadette’s parish in Albuquerque.” By CNN on Pix11.com


He sued over a priest’s abuse. Then the diocese filed for bankruptcu.
“Last month, at 67 years old, Mr. (Peter) Saracino filed a lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester under a new law in New York that allows victims to seek justice over sexual abuse from long ago. He expected revelations. Instead, he said, came another betrayal(link is external). His lawsuit and dozens of others against the diocese were supposed to play out in civil court, with the expectation that victims would learn what church leaders knew and did. But the diocese sidestepped all of that by declaring bankruptcy.” By Corina Knoll, The New York Times

Erie County DA opens criminal investigation based on allegations from former seminarian
“’2 On Your Side’ has learned a criminal investigation has been opened(link is external) to examine allegations made by a former student at Christ the King seminary. Kait Munro, spokesperson for Erie County District Attorney John Flynn says the office ‘has opened a file.’ That’s the term used to indicate a criminal investigation has been initiated.” By Steve Brown, WGRZ-TV2 News

Despite what bishop says, poll finds most area Catholics want him to resign
“An overwhelming majority of area Catholics or lapsed Catholics want Bishop Richard J. Malone to resign(link is external) as leader of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, a recent poll by The Buffalo News has found. Nearly 86% of the 473 Erie and Niagara county residents surveyed this weekend said they feel Malone should step down from the post he has held since 2012. Fewer than 3% of those surveyed said Malone should stay on as bishop. About 12% were undecided.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News


Fairfield-based priest not indicted by grand jury over conduct with teens
“A priest will face a review from his missionary home in Fairfield after a Kentucky grand jury declined to indict him in connection with allegations he acted inappropriately with teens(link is external). According to a statement issued by John Stegeman, spokesman for the Glenmary Home Missioners in Fairfield, ‘a grand jury in Lewis County, Kentucky has declined to indict Glenmary Father Dave Glockner on allegations he touched two teens inappropriately in early August.’” By Michael Clark, Journal-News

Columbus diocese creates task force to review handling of priest sex abuse allegations

“In the six months since the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus released a list of priests whom it deemed had been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors, it has added 14 more names and started a task force to study its policies and make recommendations(link is external) to the bishop. The task force, which was formed in May and still is being established, will have 12 to 15 members, including a parish priest and people in the fields of law enforcement, civil law, canon law and mental health.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch


Philadelphia priest removed from ministry over sexual assault allegations from decades ago, Archdiocese says
“A Philadelphia priest has been removed from ministry over sexual assault allegations from decades ago(link is external), the Archdiocese says. Rev. Christopher Lucas worked at many places across the Archdiocese but was most recently at St. John the Baptist parish and Hallahan Catholic Girls High School. The Archdiocese says the 63-year-old was accused of sexually assaulting a minor in the 1970s before he was 18 years old. Lucas has not been criminally charged.” By CBS-TV3 Philadelphia


Providence man urges diocese to release information about his abuser
“A Providence man who says he was sexually abused as a child(link is external) by the Rev. Normand J. Demers, a former priest in the Diocese of Providence who died last year, spoke about his experience in front of the Cathedral of SS Peter and Paul on Monday (Sept. 23). Robert Houllahan, 50, said Demers sexually abused him at St. Joseph Catholic Church, in Providence, when Houllahan was 7 or 8 years old.” By Madeleine List, Providence Journal

Watchdog Team: Providence diocese adds another name to list of credibly accused priests
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence added a new name to its list of clergy that it says have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). Paul Desrosiers, a priest who died from injuries he suffered in a bus crash in 1984, was added to the list of names sometime after it was originally released, on July 1. His inclusion on the list brings it to 51 in total, including priests and deacons.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal


Former Wisconsin priest, with 11 men saying he abused them as boys, faces sentencing Thursday
“A former Wisconsin priest will be sentenced on Thursday (Sept. 25)(link is external), nine years after victims first told police he molested them. Thomas Ericksen, 72, will face Ashland County Circuit Court Judge Kelly McKnight at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Sawyer County Courthouse in Hayward. Ericksen faces up to 30 years in prison for two charges of sexual assault from incidents dating to the early 1980s, when he was stationed at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in Winter.” By Laura Schutte, Wisconsin Daily Herald

Clergy abuse: Activist asks Wausau church-goers to lobby La Crosse Diocese for openness
“Dozens of flyers fluttered under windshield wipers in the late morning breeze Sunday (Sep. 15) as parishioners left St. Michael Catholic Church in Wausau. The flyers were neatly tucked there by David Clohessy, a member of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. As parishioners began leaving the church, he handed them out, asking people to take them home and read them. His goal, he said, was to bring awareness to the fact that the La Crosse Diocese still hasn’t released a list of credibly accused abusers.” By Laura Schutte, Wausau Daily Herald


Retired Victorian priest Peter Waters jailed for abuse of five boys
“A retired Victorian priest will spend the next 14 months behind bars for molesting five boys decades ago in what has been branded a ‘monumental breach of trust(link is external).’ Peter Waters, 74, abused the boys in the 1970s and ’80s, sometimes after climbing into their beds. Waters began grooming one boy after he entered the confessional booth to reveal the Catholic sin of masturbation. When the boy stayed overnight with the priest during the 1980s, Waters molested him as he pretended to sleep. The victim’s brother suffered similar abuse, waking to Waters entering his bed after socializing together, consuming alcohol and cigarettes.” By Marnie Banger, 7News.com.au

Ground zero: How the Ballarat diocese exported pedophiles to the world
“(Darren) is just one of at least 140 people who have made claims of child abuse against the Catholic church in the Ballarat diocese – an extensive region covering 41 parishes in the western third of the state. It’s one of the epicentres of the Catholic child abuse scandal in Victoria(link is external). While St Alipius Boys School and St Patrick’s College in Ballarat are often viewed as ‘ground zero’ for the crisis, less is known about how the pedophiles at the center of these two hubs spread their abuse across the Western District, intersecting with other known sex offenders along the way.” By Debbie Cuthbertson, Andrew Thomson, Farrah Tomazin and Chris Vedelago, The Age

How a Melbourne seminary became the breeding ground for pedophile rings
“The altar boy sat firmly on the back of the motorbike, his skinny arms gripping the waist of the young priest as they weaved through the suburban streets leading to Victoria’s most prestigious Catholic seminary … According to a civil lawsuit due to be filed in court this week, Father Russell Vears guided the 14-year-old boy, John Fells*, into the building, down a corridor with rooms on both sides, and to a communal area where four or five other boys were already sitting, waiting on a couch. Then the St Peter’s altar boy says he was picked out by a newly ordained priest, Paul David Ryan, and taken into a bedroom where he was abused(link is external).” By Farrah Tomazin, Chris Vedelago and Debbie Cuthbertson, The Age

New admission by diocese could cost Australian church millions in claims
“The Australian Catholic Church could face tens of millions dollars in compensation claims after the Diocese of Ballarat in Victoria state admitted, for the first time, it knew of the behavior of a pedophile priest yet continued to move him around from parish to parish(link is external). The church’s admission was made in the case of JCB v. Bishop Paul Bird for the Diocese of Ballarat, in which a defendant with a pseudonym is suing the diocese for his rape, at age 9, by Ridsdale (former priest Gerald Ridsdale, one of Australia’s most notorious pedophiles) at the tiny country town of Mortlake in 1982.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, in San Francisco Catholic


Group calls for Catholic bishops to release names of clergy accused of abuse
“A group of survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has called for Canadian bishops to follow in the footsteps of some American counterparts and release the names of clergy facing credible misconduct allegations(link is external). The survivors — connected by their shared experience rather than an umbrella organization — have travelled to the site of this week’s annual meeting of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cornwall, Ont., to ask church officials to publicize the names. Thus far, the bishops have pushed back.” By Nicole Thompson, The Canadian Press, on 660CityNews.com

The walking wounded: In Canada, survivors of Catholic Church Sex abuse await a reckoning
“Rob Bowden, a goldsmith in Sydney, Cape Breton, is plagued by nightmares from the sexual abuse he suffered as a child. Evelyn Korkmaz in Ottawa has recurring flashbacks of the mental, physical and sexual abuse she experienced in the early 1970s at the notorious St. Anne’s residential school in northern Ontario, and sometimes stutters when she tries to speak. Across the country in Tsawwassen, B.C., Nicholas Harrison still bears a scar that snakes across his chin from when he says he was thrown down the stairs at school as an eight-year-old. All three are survivors of clergy abuse.” By Tavia Grant, The Globe & Mail


France’s Catholic child abuse probe flooded with messages
“A commission set up by the French Catholic Church to investigate allegations of child sex abuse by clerics received about 2,000 messages in its first three months(link is external), chairman Jean-Marc Sauve said today (Sept. 20). The independent body, looking into abuse claims dating back to the 1950s, was set up last year in response to a number of scandals that shook the Church in France and worldwide.” By MalayMail.com


Kerala priest booked for sexual assault on minor
“The Kerala police on Friday (Sept. 20) booked a Catholic priest in Erankulam district for allegedly sexually assaulting three minor girls(link is external) when they went to his chapel for blessings after the Sunday mass last month. Police said Father George Padayathil, 68, the vicar of the Holy Church in Chendamangalam, is absconding after they registered a case against him under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (Pocso) Act and other sections. They said the incident happened when the children, all class 5 students, went to his room in the church to get his personal blessings after the Sunday mass.” By Hindustan Times


New sex scandal hits Panama’s Catholic Church – three priests spared from duties
“Three Catholic priests were removed from their religious functions in Panama Friday for ‘inappropriate’ and ‘scandalous’ behaviors(link is external), after a digital news outlet revealed sexual encounters of priests with men, including a minor. ‘The Archdiocese of Panama feels deeply hurt and ashamed to receive information about the inappropriate and scandalous behaviors of priests Rogelio Topin, Orlando Rivera and Karl Madrid,’ the Church said in a statement.” By MercoPress, South Atlantic News Agency

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Unsupervised accused priests teach, counsel, foster children / Associated Press

“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.” (Associated Press)

Nearly 1,700 priests and other clergy members that the Roman Catholic Church considers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living under the radar with little to no oversight from religious authorities or law enforcement, decades after the first wave of the church abuse scandal roiled U.S. dioceses, an Associated Press investigation has found.

“These priests, deacons, monks and lay people now teach middle-school math. They counsel survivors of sexual assault. They work as nurses and volunteer at nonprofits aimed at helping at-risk kids. They live next to playgrounds and day care centers. They foster and care for children.

“And in their time since leaving the church, dozens have committed crimes, including sexual assault and possessing child pornography, the AP’s analysis found.

“A recent push by Roman Catholic dioceses across the U.S. to publish the names of those it considers to be credibly accused has opened a window into the daunting problem of how to monitor and track priests who often were never criminally charged and, in many cases, were removed from or left the church to live as private citizens.”

By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, Associated Press — Read more …

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Women in church leadership: 40 years after Sr. Theresa Kane’s request to pope / Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

“… some sisters see signs of hope in the advancement of women religious and other laypeople to leadership roles. They are also heartened by the pastoral approach of Pope Francis, who shares their desire to dismantle clericalism and create more decision-making roles for laity.” (Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter)

On an October day four decades ago, Sr. Theresa Kane, president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and head of the Sisters of Mercy in the U.S., stood before 5,000 other sisters gathered to greet Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C. She spoke of the sisters’ ‘profound respect, esteem and affection’ for the pontiff.

‘Then Kane uttered these memorable words: ‘Our contemplation leads us to state that the church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our church. I urge you, Your Holiness, to be open to and respond to the voices coming from the women of this country who are desirous of serving in and through the church as fully participating members.’

“Kane’s televised statement, a politely worded but direct challenge to the pontiff, drew intense media coverage. Just days before, in an address to an audience of vowed religious men and women in Philadelphia, John Paul had reaffirmed the ban on women priests, saying that an all-male priesthood ‘was the way that God had chosen to shepherd his flock.’

“But many American nuns and some Catholic laypeople saw a pressing need for the church to reform itself. For sisters, in the wave of enthusiasm that followed the Second Vatican Council, “there was a sense of hope that change was going to come, hope for reform. Change was coming, and the sisters could be a part of the change,” said Sandra Yocum, associate professor of religious studies at the University of Dayton, in an interview.”

By Elizabeth Eisenstadt Evans, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Bridgeport Diocese report on sex abuse among priests blames former Archbishop Edward Egan; nearly 300 individuals allegedly abused by 71 priests since 1953 / Hartford Courant

The report concluded Egan was “profoundly unsympathetic, inadequate and openly inflammatory,” whose primary responsibility was “preserving the assets and reputation of the diocese” rather then the well-being of sexual abuse survivors. (Hartford Courant)

A scathing report released Tuesday (Oct. 1) by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport on the alleged sexual abuse of hundreds of victims by clergy since the early 1950s blames former bishops Edward Egan and Walter Curtis for violating state law, destroying records and either outright ignoring or inadequately responding to “an unfolding crisis.”

“As the number of priest abuse victims piled up, church leaders were more concerned about protecting assets and avoiding “scandalous news articles” than protecting children and removing priests, the report found.

“The report, compiled by former state Superior Court Judge Robert Holzberg, was particularly harsh on Egan, who went on to become Archbishop of New York. The report found 281 victims allegedly abused by 71 priests or about 5 percent of the total number of priests that have served in the diocese. More than $56 million was paid to victims in legal settlements.

“‘The priests who committed these ghastly acts engaged in criminal acts,’ Holzberg said at a Bridgeport press conference Tuesday. A total of 10 priests, including Laurence Brett, Raymond Pcolka and Martin Federici, accounted for 61 percent of the abuse cases.

By Dave Altimari and Amanda Blanco, Hartford Courant — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful members gather for 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church

BOSTON, Mass., Sept. 24, 2019 – The present crisis in the life of the Catholic Church, which has been called the biggest “since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century,” is drawing members of the Church reform group Voice of the Faithful together in the Boston area for their 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church. Founded in 2002 during heightened awareness of clergy sexual abuse of minors in the Boston Archdiocese, VOTF seeks a church with greater transparency, accountability, and lay involvement in Church governance.

VOTF’s 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Boston Marriott Newton, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, Mass. In addition to featured speakers and a panel discussion addressing Church scandal in local faith communities, conference attendees will hear the results of VOTF’s “2019 Report on Measuring & Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency.” Conference attendees also will hear from VOTF’s Child Protection Working Group about their vision of a new initiative, which could measure the vigilance of dioceses in following child protection guidelines. The initiative would leverage the way VOTF monitors diocesan online financial information and would be similar to that effort.

A special return guest speaker will be the Honorable Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who spoke to us at our 10th Anniversary Conference in 2012. For more than two years, she served as the interim chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board, directing its efforts to investigate the causes and effects of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and helping to establish guidelines and policies for effectively responding to the scandal. She will provide invaluable perspective on the abuse scandal.

Justice Burke will be joined by Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Exec. Dir. Char Rivette. Together, they will show how ChicagoCAC can be a model for battling clergy child abuse in your diocese. ChicagoCAC is Chicago’s front-line responder to reports of child sexual abuse, physical and other serious abuse, and the only not-for-profit coordinating the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts, and mental health clinicians under one roof.

A second featured speaker will be Fr. Richard Lennan, professor of systematic theology at Boston College. He presently directs Boston College’s sacred theology licenture program. Together with Boston College theology professors Thomas Groome and Richard Gaillardetz, Prof. Lennan wrote “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” which calls for reexamining the formation process for diocesan priests and eradicating the priesthood’s embedded clerical culture. The paper resulted from a seminar at Boston College begun in 2016 and composed of lay and ordained, women and men, theologians and ministers working in pastoral and academic settings.

In addition, the conference will feature a panel discussion during which parishioners from the Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York, areas will discuss actions they are taking at the grassroots level to help create a just Church in light of scandals particular to their communities. Discussions of issues arising from the panel presentations and question and answer period will continue during lunch. Conference attendees will have the chance to ask the panel members about the broad variety of activities in which they are engaged and which have energized both their local faith communities and faith communities they have contacted in other parts of the country.

Additional information and links for online conference registration, online hotel reservations, and downloadable registration forms are at www.votf.org.

Voice of the Faithful News Release, Sept. 24, 2019
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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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 13, 2019


Vatican authorizes ‘Vos Estis’ investigation into Minnesota bishop Hoeppner
“Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first sitting U.S. bishop to be investigated under new misconduct protocols introduced by Pope Francis earlier this year(link is external). Hoeppner, Bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, will be investigated by Minneapolis’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda, on charges that Hoeppner thwarted a police or canonical investigation of clerical sexual misconduct in his diocese. “I have been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston,” Hebda told CNA Sept. 10.” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency, in The Pilot

Wyoming bishop a perfect test case for Pope’s vows of accountability
“Ask the typical American Catholic in the pews, and most could probably tell you a fair bit about Theodore McCarrick … By way of contrast, few rank-and-file churchgoers outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, or Kansas City, Missouri, could probably pick Bishop Joseph Hart out of a lineup – and that relative obscurity is precisely what makes Hart such an ideal test case for Pope Francis’s avowed commitment to accountability(link is external), including for bishops.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

In secret recording, Buffalo bishop admits new scandal ‘could force me to resign’
“New audio recording reveals embattled Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York seeking to contain yet another public relations crisis in his diocese, saying he feared it could force his resignation(link is external). The audio files, released on Wednesday (Sept. 4) by WKBW, were recorded on August 2 by Malone’s priest secretary, Father Ryszard Biernat, who took a leave of absence from his post, beginning August 14.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Denounce abuse clergy
“Five months ago, The Hoya published an investigation identifying 14 former Georgetown University religious leaders credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external) — including two associate deans, three chaplains in residence and seven professors. The university’s only response was to add two brief paragraphs on its website reaffirming that none of the abuse had occurred on campus … To demonstrate that Georgetown is capable of acting morally — and not simply taking calculative actions to protect its reputation — Georgetown must publicly condemn the 14 abusive religious leaders and organize university-wide dialogue on its historical connection to clerical abuse.” By Yumna Naqvi, The Hoya

Indictment of former Pennsylvania priest signals aggressive new reach by federal prosecutors in clergy sex abuse investigation
“Two priests have been convicted; one other awaits trial. That’s about the sum total of legal action that has taken place in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse, which identified more than 300 predator priests statewide. That narrative could be about to change(link is external). Last week, federal prosecutors dealt the latest salvo in what is fast becoming a tide of aggressive new strategies to criminally prosecute child sex predators and their accomplices in the Catholic Church.” By Ivey DeJesus, PennLive.com


In U.S. tour, Marie Collins exposes clerical culture behind abuse cover-up
“The Catholic Church has reached a crossroads. Its leaders can either change, become open and accountable, or maintain the status quo(link is external): an institution lacking transparency, wrapped in secrecy and beholden to a clerical culture that is at the heart of the institution’s problems. That bleak assessment was made by Marie Collins, the Irish clerical sexual abuse survivor who was an original member of a papal commission dealing with the sex abuse crisis, and who said she is ‘hanging on by my fingernails.’ The scandal, she said in remarks Sept. 8 opening a five-city U.S. tour, is both systemic and global, and clericalism remains at its core.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Dolan considering options over scandal-hit buffalo diocese
“The Catholic Herald has learned that the Archdiocese of New York is closely monitoring the crisis in the Diocese of Buffalo(link is external), and that broad consultations are ongoing, with a view to possible action. The embattled Bishop of Buffalo, Richard J. Malone, faced several new calls for his resignation … The director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York, Joseph Zwilling, told the Catholic Herald, ‘[The Archbishop of New York,] Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan, is very aware of his responsibilities as Metropolitan under Vos estis [lux mundi],’ the reform law Pope Francis enacted this past spring to streamline ecclesiastical investigations into clerical abuse and remove obstacles to investigations of abuse coverup.” By Christopher Altieri, Catholic Herald

Catholic diocese needs a new leader
“In recent months, Richard Malone, the embattled bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, continued to receive support from members of the Movement to Restore Trust, an advisory group of local Catholics that was formed in response to a recent rash of sexual abuse allegations facing members of the clergy. On Thursday (Sept. 5), that all changed. The group of lay Catholics who had been working with Malone to develop reforms in hopes of moving the diocese forward joined a chorus of critics who have been calling on the bishop to resign(link is external). In a statement issued to the media this week, members of the Movement to Restore Trust members determined that Malone’s actions in response to the sex abuse scandal threaten to set the diocese “back several decades.” By The Editorial Board of the Niagara Gazette

List: Every abusive Catholic Church priest, clergy member named in every state in past year
“In mid-August last year, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro read a grand jury report that listed more than 300 abusive priests in Pennsylvania. A month later, dioceses in Arkansas and San Diego released their own lists of priests and clergy members who were credibly accused of child sex abuse. Since then, there have been hundreds of abusive clergy named every month by dioceses, religious orders and lawyers across the country(link is external). At least 20 attorneys general in other states have followed Shapiro’s lead and launched similar statewide investigations.” By Candy Woodall, York Daily Record

The Vatican makes a dramatic move against a crisis-hit cardinal
“There appears to be no imminent finale to the corruption scandal(link is external) that has dogged the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and its head, Cardinal George Alencherry. In a dramatic move earlier this week, the Vatican stripped the cardinal of his administrative powers just three months after he was controversially reinstated (after being earlier suspended) – to the chagrin of many priests and members of the laity in the southern state of Kerala.” By Saptarshi Ray, Catholic Herald


Theodore McCarrick still won’t confess
“On a cloudy Sunday morning in August, Father John Schmeidler delivered a brisk homily at St. Fidelis Catholic Church on the virtue of trusting that God always has a plan. There were at least 200 people listening in the pews, almost 20 percent of this rural prairie town’s population: large families, young couples, elderly people, men in jeans and cowboy boots. There’s not a single other church in town. Even if we just do our simple daily duties, Father John told them that Sunday, ‘our God brings great things.’ Last fall, God brought to Victoria an unexpected visitor: Theodore McCarrick(link is external), once the most powerful Catholic priest in America.” By Ruth Graham, Slate

Seton Hall investigation finds McCarrick harassed seminarians
“A yearlong investigation by Seton Hall University confirmed that Theodore McCarrick, the laicized cardinal who had been archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000, had sexually harassed seminarians(link is external) during his tenure as head of the archdiocese. ‘McCarrick created a culture of fear and intimidation that supported his personal objectives. McCarrick used his position of power as then-archbishop of Newark to sexually harass seminarians,’ said the 700-word “update,” dated Aug. 27.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

Former U.S. Catholic cardinal downplays charges of sexual abuse against him
“Theodore McCarrick, one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s most influential clerics until he was accused a year ago of abusing boys and young men, denied in an interview published Tuesday (Sept. 3) that he abused someone in the confessional(link is external) – a charge for which the Vatican defrocked him. McCarrick spoke briefly to Ruth Graham of Slate for the piece, which profiles the life of the toppled church leader now that he’s been relegated to living in a friary in the small, western Kansas town of Victoria.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post


Pope Francis: ‘I pray there are no schisms’
“Faced with sustained opposition from Catholic conservatives in the United States who accuse him of driving traditionalists to break with the church, Pope Francis said on Tuesday (Sept. 10) that he hopes it doesn’t come to that, but isn’t frightened of it either. “I pray there are no schisms(link is external),” Francis said in a lengthy news conference aboard the papal plane as he returned from a six-day trip to Africa. “But I’m not scared.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times


Cardinal-elect was a Francis bishop before Francis
“As the calendar turned to September, Pope Francis, relatively quiet and out of the limelight during the heart of the summer, resurfaced with big news — the appointment of 13 new cardinals, choices that make clear he intends to use that papal prerogative to reshape the hierarchical culture at that elite level … The name that really jumped out at me was Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Huehuetenango(link is external), with whom I spent a day during a reporting trip to Guatemala in 2013. Western Guatemala, with all of its stunning natural beauty, is not a normal stop on an upwardly mobile career in the church. It is easy to say — and I have said it — that Ramazzini was a Francis bishop before Francis came along.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Pope announces names of 13 new cardinals for the missionary Church
“After reciting the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday (Sept. 1), Pope Francis announced a consistory to be held on 5 October for the nomination of 13 new Cardinals(link is external). He said that the places where these new Cardinals come from express the missionary vocation of the Church as she continues to announce the merciful love of God to every person on earth. After reading their names, the Pope asked everyone to pray for the new Cardinals so that, confirming their adhesion to Christ, they might help in his ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of all the faithful Holy People of God. The names of the new Cardinals are …” By Vatican News


Two bishops appear on Missouri diocese’s list of substantiated clergy abusers
“The names of two bishops appear on a list of clergy with ‘substantiated abuse of minors allegations(link is external)’ from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released Sept. 6. The bishops are retired Bishop Joseph H. Hart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and now-deceased Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. According to the list assembled by the diocese, which dates back to its founding in 1956, the abuse claims for each bishop took place within the Missouri diocese’s territory. Each bishop also had more than one abuse allegation reported.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Embattled Buffalo bishop calls alleged love triangle ‘convoluted’
“In the midst of an ongoing crisis surrounding Bishop Richard Malone’s governance of the Diocese of Buffalo(link is external), newly revealed correspondence suggests a romantic relationship between the bishop’s priest secretary and a former diocesan seminarian who resigned last month. In a press conference on Wednesday (Sept. 4), Malone called the content of the letter ‘a bit concerning’ and the entire situation ‘a very complex, convoluted matter.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com(link is external)

Scandal muddies legacy of former Bridgeport bishop, Vatican’s longtime fixer from Baltimore
“Late last summer, Vatican officials realized they had an uncontainable mess – four whistleblowing priests alleging financial and sexual misconduct by the bishop of West Virginia. So they did what Catholic officials have done for decades: They turned to William Lori. From Rome and Washington to Connecticut and then Baltimore, where he is now archbishop(link is external), Lori is often on the front lines when the nation’s largest religious group is facing major scandals or perceived threats to its values and traditions. He is the Vatican’s fixer in the United States.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, in The Telegraph


Women must be at tables where church decisions are made
“The Catholic Church is the largest global humanitarian network(link is external), with enormous potential, and therefore responsibility, to address human suffering and complex global challenges. It is also the vehicle through which the Catholic faith is transmitted to nearly 1.3 billion people. Sui generis, with a divine mission, the church is distinct from secular institutions. Nevertheless, it is composed of people, facilities, property and finances that deserve to be handled with the highest levels of ethics, care, accountability and contemporary best management practices.” By Kerry Alys Robinson, Chicago Catholic


Pope Francis orders Vatican to get finances under control
“Pope Francis has ordered the Vatican to rein in spending and get its budget deficit under control. The Wall Street Journal reports the Vatican’s deficit doubled in 2018 to nearly $77 million(link is external) on a budget of about $330 million. Vatican officials are concerned this issue could compromise the pope’s mission and the ability to preserve historic buildings and employee pensions.” By Adam Elrashidi, Newsy.com


Case of Bishop Hart shows role clericalism plays in abuse cover-up
“For years, clergy abuse survivors fought to have Bishop Joseph Hart’s name stripped from the building of St. Joseph’s Children’s Home(link is external) in Torrington, Wyoming – a residence for troubled teenage boys known as the Hart’s Children Center. They had been unsuccessful for over a decade, but after Bishop Steven Biegler arrived in the diocese and deemed two allegations against Hart as credible and substantiated, the name was finally removed in 2018 as a concrete sign that the diocese was acting on the information of abuse.” By Christopher White, The Tablet

Confronting causes of clericalism; original sin, institutional dynamics
“Reforming the priesthood will mean reducing the effects of clericalism. Clericalism is a real thing, not a myth or mirage. It is a sense of elitism and superiority among the clergy that sets them apart from and above the rest of the people in the church(link is external). It affects the way clerical people — clergy and laity — behave. To tackle clericalism, the church must first figure out where it comes from. Then we must figure out how to combat it. I think that clericalism comes from four things: our fallen nature, institutional dynamics, a corrupted tradition, and seminary training.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter


Marriage doesn’t solve the priest shortage, says had of Ukrainian Rite
“Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has urged those considering allowing priests in the Latin rite to marry in order to help solve a crippling shortage, to proceed with caution(link is external), saying marriage has not curbed shortages in his own rite. With five blooming seminaries in Ukraine alone, “thanks be to God we do not lack vocations,” Shevchuk said, but noted that despite the fact that priests in his church … have the ability to marry, the high numbers don’t appear for Greek Catholics in other countries.” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com


In Africa, Pope Francis comes face to face with the future of the Church
“Young men and women wearing the words ‘Pope Francis’ on their backs and ‘Catholic Youth’ on their sleeves packed the bleachers of a stadium in Mozambique on Thursday (Sept. 5) and listened to Francis tell them, ‘You are important!’ ‘You need to believe it,’ Francis said to the raucous crowd at the Maxaquene Pavilion, in the capital, Maputo, where young Africans regaled him with songs and skits(link is external).” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Unclear whether Catholic Church has future in Ireland
“Refusal to face the truth about the state of the Catholic Church in Ireland is ‘a form of religious treason,’ a founder member of the Association of Catholic Priests has said. Fr. Brendan Hoban has claimed those in the church who want to move forward ‘can no longer afford to indulge those who cling to the wreckage of the past(link is external).’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


CNY clergy abuse victims call for forgiveness of abusers
“A message of forgiveness(link is external) is coming from two victims of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The two men want to propose an alternative to the anger and bitterness the scandal has wrought.” By Ellen Abbott, WRVO-FM Public Media

The Vigano letter, one year later
“It’s been just about a year since Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published the now-infamous letter in which he accused Pope Francis of covering up for sexual abusers and ‘the gay lobby’ and called on him to resign. The ‘Viganò letter’ came less than two weeks after the release of the Pennsylvania grand-jury report on clerical sexual abuse and about a month after Francis had asked for the resignation from the college of cardinals of Theodore McCarrick … a crisis that came to a provisional close in mid-September when the leadership of the U.S. bishops’ conference met with Francis in Rome. I say ‘provisional’ because one year later, the crisis hasn’t abated so much as entered a different phase.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal


Lectures at The University of Scranton explore response to clergy sexual abuse
“The University of Scranton’s Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation and Hope will host two public lectures this fall, one exploring ‘Insights from History and Theology’ and the other discussing ‘Prevention, Healing and Reconciliation.’ On Sept. 16, award-winning authors Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, and Rita Ferrone, a writer and frequent speaker on issues of liturgy and church renewal, will discuss lessons that can be gleaned from history about the clergy sexual abuse crisis and how prayer and liturgy can be a source of healing and courage(link is external).” By The Abington Journal

Black victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests got dramatically smaller settlements than white victims
“Two Black male victims who received settlements over sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests are coming forward to reveal that they were paid far less than white victims(link is external). The Associated Press reports the Diocese secretly paid two Black men from Mississippi $15,000 each, requiring them both to sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), also known as confidentiality agreements. In 2006, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson settled lawsuits brought on by 19 different victims. Of those survivors, 17 are white and were paid at least $250,000 each — some up to $1.3 million — in similar settlements.” By Angela Wilson, BET

Buffalo bishops silenced Fr. Ryszard about alleged sex assault
“Ryszard Biernat was just 23 years old when he arrived in the Diocese of Buffalo in 2003. The future secretary to the bishop — who has now become Whistleblower No. 2 in the diocese sex scandal(link is external) — was only a seminarian when he was assigned to stay with Rev. Art Smith at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in South Buffalo.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News


Former Trumbull priest barred from ministry after review of decades-old sexual abuse claim
“A Catholic priest who retired from a Trumbull parish has been placed on administrative leave and barred from ministering publicly(link is external) after a review found credible evidence he abused a minor more than 35 years ago. The Diocese of Bridgeport was first made aware of the allegation against Rev. Stephen Gleeson in 2002 but recently reviewed it again “based on certain additional information” and concluded the accusation is credible, Bishop Frank Caggiano wrote in a letter late last month to parishioners.” By Zach Murdock, Hartford Courant


Kansas City diocese names priests in ‘the dreadful scourge of sexual abuse of minors’
“Saying that ‘the dreadful scourge of sexual abuse of minors has wounded our entire family of faith(link is external),’ Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Friday (Sept. 6) released a list of 24 priests he said have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. ‘The release of these names cannot change the past,’ Johnston said in a statement. ‘It is merely a step forward in hope, but a necessary step.’” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

Catholic officials names them as abusers. Now these former St. Louis clergy must face their pasts.
“…Dennis J. McClintock, 72, a rehabilitation aide, sat at the edge of the workout floor, sporting an orange Hawaiian shirt, a stark contrast to the white clerical collar he used to wear as a Roman Catholic priest. On July 26, the Archdiocese of St. Louis made a long-awaited splash by releasing a list of former clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Some names were already widely known; their abuse had been the subject of lawsuits and news stories. Others, including McClintock’s, were being made public for the first time.” By Jesse Bogan, Erin Heffernan and Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


St. Cecelia’s sex assault priest gets four years in prison
“A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to four years in state prison for sexually assaulting a teenage girl(link is external) while he was a youth group adviser at a church in Woodbridge Township, during the early 1990s. Father Thomas P. Ganley, 64, of Phillipsburg, N.J., was sentenced to four years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Diane Pincus in Middlesex County on August 26, 2019. He pleaded guilty on April 8 to second-degree sexual assault, admitting that he engaged in sexual acts with the victim when she was 16 or 17 years old, at a time when he had supervisory authority over her.” By NJToday.com Staff


More sex abuse lawsuits filed against Catholic priests who served in New Mexico
“Two new lawsuits allege abuse in New Mexico Catholic churches. A woman identified as ‘Jane Doe P’ claims she was sexually molested by a teenage boy in 2001 when she was 10 years old. Her parents sent her to see the priest at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Roswell for spiritual guidance. The lawsuit claims, instead of spiritual guidance, the priest, Father Juan Montoya, raped her inside the church.” By Chris Ramirez, KOB-TV4 News


Diocese of Rochester files bankruptcy, citing sex-abuse lawsuits
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, facing potentially huge judgments for past sexual abuse by its priests and other ministers, filed bankruptcy(link is external) Thursday (Sept. 12) morning … The petition estimates the diocese’s assets as $50 million to $100 million —and its financial liabilities as $100 million to $500 million. Rochester’s diocese becomes the first of New York state’s eight dioceses, and the 20th nationwide, to seek protection from creditors in bankruptcy court because of financial fallout from the Catholic Church’s decades-long child sexual abuse scandal.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

‘Michael Cohen of Brooklyn Diocese’ faces own sex abuse suit
“The ‘Michael Cohen of the Brooklyn Diocese’ who allegedly worked as a fixer for pedophile priests himself stands accused of child sex abuse by people deeply concerned that he continues to practice in Queens(link is external). Thomas Davis and an anonymous accuser have filed child sex abuse suits against Monsignor Otto Garcia — accused by a Diocese nun of covering up at least three child sex abuse investigations — who currently serves as parochial vicar at the Church of St. Teresa in Woodside, according to his accuser, attorneys and reports.” By Kathleen Culliton, Brooklyn Patch

Disappointment from whistleblower of diocese sex scandal
“Siobhan O’Connor, a whistleblower in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, was among the few protesters standing outside of St. Joseph’s Cathedral(link is external) after Bishop Richard Malone held his press conference Wednesday (Sept. 4) detailing the complex relationship between Father Jeffrey Nowak, seminarian Matthew Bojanowski, and the bishop’s former secretary, Father Ryszard Biernat. During the press conference, the bishop reiterated that he will not resign. At the time, O’Connor only heard bits and pieces of his press conference due to the ambient noise in the background.” By Mike Baggerman, WREN-AM News

Former Cardinal Spellman, Stepinac priest accused of sex abuse at Resurrection Church in Rye
“A former Rye priest was accused of sexually molesting an altar boy(link is external) in the 1970s in a lawsuit filed Thursday (Aug. 29) under New York’s Child Victims Act. William T. White is accused of sexually abusing the victim at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye multiple times between 1972 and 1973, when the boy was 11 and 12 years old, according to the suit.” By Mark Lungariello, LoHud.com

‘The Diocese of Buffalo suppresses the truth in relation to sexual abuse,” seminarian says
“Another seminarian in the Diocese of Buffalo has given up his dream of becoming a Catholic priest, blaming alleged sexual harassment by diocesan priest(link is external) Rev. Jeffrey Nowak and Bishop Richard J. Malone’s lack of action when he reported it. Matthew Bojanowski, whose mother first revealed the allegations of sexual harassment in an interview with the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team, announced Tuesday (Sept. 3) he is resigning from Christ the King Seminary and is calling on the seminary to be shut down and for Bishop Malone to resign.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Priest placed on administrative leave by Buffalo Diocese as initial inquiry wraps
“A priest has been placed on administrative leave by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo as the investigation continues against him(link is external). Rev. Jeffrey Nowak, the pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Cheektowaga, was placed on leave by the bishop, effectively immediately, according to a statement from the Diocese. Nowak is accused of harassing a former seminarian.” By WIVB-TV4 News

Law firms sue Catholic Church and Boy Scouts for ‘secret files’ on alleged sex abusers
“Two law firms say they are suing the Boy Scouts of America, the New York Archdiocese and the Diocese of Brooklyn over ‘secret files’ that they claim would reveal ‘decades worth of evidence’ about alleged child sex abusers(link is external). Marsh Law Firm PLLC and Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC say they will represent 550 people who claim they were abused by Catholic Church and Boy Scout leaders.” By Victoria Merlino. Queens Daily Eagle


Columbus diocese adds eight names to priest sex-abuse list
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has added the names of eight priests who have been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors(link is external), bringing the total to 48 after this third update of its list. All but one of the additions were in the category of ‘extern,’ which covers clergy members who served in Columbus but were accused of abuse elsewhere.” By Danae King, Columbus Dispatch

‘This was an act of an unloving man’: Man who accused priest of rape encourages others to come forward
“A man who says he was a victim of Father Geoff Drew says wants others to speak out about what allegedly happened to them(link is external). Drew is accused of raping an altar boy 30 years ago. He pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape during a bond hearing on Aug. 21. Cincinnati police released a letter from the alleged victim on Thursday (Sept. 5) because he would like his words to be heard. In the letter, the man says he wants to relay a message to other alleged victims that they are not alone and what happened was not their fault.” By FOX-TV19 News


These alleged abuser priests were scot-free for decades – until they weren’t
“In photos of defrocked archdiocesan priest  last week outside a Bucks County police station, the alleged child sexual predator flashed an outsized grin. He was wearing a suit jacket that flitted as he moved an arm. The pose was more fashion-catalog preen than street candid of a 74-year-old being booked for molesting children. Then again, Trauger had evaded justice since at least 1981.(link is external) So that megawatt grin? Maybe it was just that of a septuagenarian who knew that he’d mostly dodged the system.” By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Former Catholic priest arrested on false statement charges
“United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Robert Brennan, 81, of Perryville, MD, was arrested and charged by Indictment with four counts of making materially false statements(link is external) in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the United States government.” By FOX-TV43 Philadelphia

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh contracts with outside firms for handling misconduct
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh announced Tuesday (Sept. 3) plans to expand how it handles reports of suspected wrongdoing within the diocese including allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese has chosen Ethics Point as a third-party reporting system to receive questions related to suspected wrongdoing in parishes, schools or diocesan offices, Bishop David Zubik wrote in his pastoral letter.” By Emily Balser, TribLive.com

Defrocked Bucks County priest faces charges for fondling altar boys before Mass, DA says
“A former priest is now charged with sexually assaulting at least two altar boys(link is external) during his decadelong tenure at a Bucks County church. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub announced charges Tuesday (Sept. 3) against Francis ‘Frank’ Trauger. The alleged assaults occurred when the now 74-year-old Trauger was a priest at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Levittown, Pennsylvania in the 1990s and 2000s.” By Dan Stamm, NBC-TV10 Philadelphia

Lawsuit filed against priest of Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton
“Four men have filed suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton and its current and former bishop over claims a priest sexually abused them(link is external) when they were children. The plaintiffs are believed to be the first to take advantage of a recent Pennsylvania appeals court ruling that could make it easier for some victims of abuse to pursue civil claims.” By Associated Press on CBS-TV News Pittsburgh


Memphis’ first Catholic bishop replaced on downtown mural after child sexual abuse accusations
“Memphis’ first Catholic bishop has been replaced on a mural downtown months after he was included in a list of clergymen accused of molesting children(link is external). The ‘Upstanders Mural’ – on a wall across from the National Civil Rights Museum – is supposed to honor heroes, but after allegations of child sex abuse against the late Carroll Dozier surfaced earlier this year, the group that painted the mural decided he no longer belongs there.” By Nina Harrelson, WREG-TV3 News


Survivors question priest abuse probe
“A Vermont Catholic Church report revealing the names of 40 priests accused of sexually abusing children over the past seven decades(link is external) has both provided answers and prompted questions for survivors and members of the state’s largest religious denomination. ‘This is a long overdue step towards transparency — and there is still more work to do,’ said Zach Hiner, executive director of the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.” By Kevin O’Connor, Valley News, on vnews.com


Priest convicted of sex abuse of girls at DC parish seeks new trial
“A Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing two girls(link is external) at a D.C. church is seeking a new trial, saying he was unfairly prejudiced, and denied a fair trial in D.C. Superior Court. Urbano Vazquez, 47, was found guilty on all four counts Aug. 15, after a seven-day jury trial. The crimes happened between 2015 and 2017, while Vazquez was an assistant pastor at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, in the Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights neighborhoods in Northwest D.C.” By Neal Augenstein, WTOP-FM News


West Virginia attorney general urges court to advance lawsuit against Wheeling-Charleston Diocese
“West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged a circuit court to allow the state to proceed with allegations that the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese violated state law through its knowing employment of pedophiles(link is external) and its failure to conduct adequate background checks for those working at its schools and camps. Morrisey’s response, served Wednesday (Sept. 4) afternoon, argues that the diocese’s motion to dismiss mischaracterized the state’s intent and distorted state law.” By Herald Mail


Review completed of diocesan files on sexual abuse issues
“After a review of over 500 personnel files and tens of thousands of pages by an objective third-party review firm, the Diocese of Madison is confident that there are no known historical issues regarding the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) left uninvestigated or undisclosed. These are some of the key takeaways diocesan leadership is drawing from a now-concluded forensic file review of diocesan clergy personnel files.” By Diocesan Staff for the Catholic Herald


Cheyenne diocese struggles with abuse revelations about popular bishop
“Nearly three decades had passed since Martin last stepped foot inside a Catholic church. Yet as he sat in the pews of the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Cheyenne for Good Friday service last April, he knew Bishop Steven Biegler was speaking directly to him. ‘Over the last year, we have seen that the Church’s leaders have been weak and sinful,’ said the bishop. ‘Yet, Christ still goes to the cross for us(link is external). His death is still stronger than all of our horrible sins. The blood and water flowing from Christ is the greatest force in the universe. So we can be reborn.’” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com


Laws forcing priests to report child abuse passed in Victorian parliament
“The Victorian government says it hopes it does not have to jail priests who fail to report child abuse revealed in the confession box. The state’s Parliament passed laws on Tuesday Sept. 10) carrying sentences of up to three years for failing to report abuse(link is external), but Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday morning that he did not know of any convictions under Victoria’s broader mandatory reporting laws, in place for 25 years.” By Noel Towell and Simone Fox Koob, The Age

Church admits liability in child abuse case
“The Church has accepted legal responsibility for the sexual abuse of a child by pedophile Gerald Ridsdale(link is external) in a significant case that could open the floodgates for survivors seeking compensation. After denying any knowledge of Risdale’s offending before the nine-year-old boy was raped in a confessional box at Mortlake, in western Victoria in 1982, lawyers for the Church on Friday (Sept. 6) accepted an amended statement of claim from the survivor in the Supreme Court – in effect admitting legal liability for his crimes.” By CathNews.com


Man protests outside Welland church for one year on behalf of sex abuse survivors
“William O’Sullivan has protested in front of St. Kevin’s Parish in Welland every Sunday for a full year, and says he is determined to do so until the Diocese of St. Catharines apologizes to the region’s survivors of sexual abuse. O’Sullivan is one of these survivors. He was sexually assaulted when he was nine years old(link is external) by Donald Grecco, who was a priest at St. Kevin’s Catholic church. The assault continued for three years.” By CBC News


Paris prosecutor steps up effort to investigate clergy abuse
“The chief Paris prosecutor and the French capital’s archbishop have struck an agreement allowing faster investigations into alleged sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). Thursday’s accord came as more people in France are coming forward about past sexual wrongdoing by priests, and after repeated scandals pushed the French Catholic Church to step up efforts to address abuse.” By Associated Press on NewsMax.com


Catholic bishops apologize to child abuse victims, take steps to prevent further cases happening
“The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference is taking all possible steps to address the issue of child abuse within the church(link is external), according to a statement on Thursday Sept. 5). ‘The sexual abuse of minors is unacceptable everywhere, especially in the church,’ the statement said, adding that it was taking ‘every possible measure’ to prevent the abuse of minors. It also apologized to victims on behalf of the abusers. ‘We feel sympathy and compassion for all those who have suffered harm as children.’ Anyone found to have engaged in abusive acts against minors has no place in the priesthood, the statement said.” By Hungary Today


U.S. priest accused of abusing boys for decades in Philippines
“The American priest’s voice echoed over the phone line, his sharp Midwestern accent softened over the decades by a gentle Filipino lilt. On the other end, recording the call, was a young man battered by shame but anxious to get the priest to describe exactly what had happened in this little island village(link is external). ‘I should have known better than trying to just have a life,’ the priest said in the November 2018 call. ‘Happy days are gone. It’s all over.’ But, the young man later told the Associated Press, those days were happy only for the priest. They were years of misery for him, he said, and for the other boys who investigators say were sexually assaulted by Father Pius Hendricks.”” By Tim Sullivan, Cruxnow.com

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