Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup


June 13, 2019

TOP STORIES

U.S. Catholic Church reports big rise in sex-abuse allegations
“Quantifying its vast sex-abuse crisis, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church said Friday (May 31) that allegations of child sex abuse by clerics more than doubled in its latest 12-month reporting period, and that its spending on victim compensation and child protection surged above $300 million(link is external). During the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. That was up from 693 allegations in the previous year. The report attributed much of the increase to a victim compensation program implemented in five dioceses in New York state.” By David Crary, Associated Press

Double-barreled McCarrick news perfectly captures accountability challenge
“Sometimes the fates who govern the news business have a wicked sense of timing. After a long stretch of relative quiet regarding Theodore McCarrick, the ex-cardinal who was defrocked over sexual misconduct and abuse charges, Tuesday (May 28) brought not one but two major new developments(link is external) … The double whammy of these two stories coming at once does neatly illustrate two of the major questions left hanging by the McCarrick case, which in turn encapsulates the meta-narrative of the entire saga …” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

West Virginia bishop gave powerful cardinals and other priests $350,000 in cash gifts before his ouster, church records show
“In the years before he was ousted for alleged sexual harassment and financial abuses, the leader of the Catholic Church in West Virginia gave cash gifts totaling $350,000 to fellow clergymen(link is external), including young priests he is accused of mistreating and more than a dozen cardinals in the United States and at the Vatican, according to church records obtained by The Washington Post. Bishop Michael J. Bransfield wrote the checks from his personal account over more than a decade, and the West Virginia diocese reimbursed him by boosting his compensation to cover the value of the gifts, the records show.” By Michelle Boorstein, Shawn Boburg and Robert O’Harrow, Jr.

‘Revolution’ in Poland as nation confronts priestly abuse
“One victim spoke out, and then another, and another. A statue of a pedophile priest was toppled in Gdansk, put back by his supporters, and finally dismantled for good. A feature film about clerical abuse was a box office hit. Poland thought it had started confronting the problem of clerical abuse and its cover-up by church authorities. Then a bombshell came(link is external): A documentary with victim testimony so harrowing it has forced an unprecedented reckoning with pedophile priests in one of Europe’s most deeply Catholic societies.” By Vanessa Gera, Associated Press

Bishops of East Africa develop handbook to guide child protection
“Catholic bishops of East Africa have introduced a handbook to assist church leaders develop standards to safeguard the safety of children(link is external). Titled ‘Child Safeguarding – Standards and Guidelines: A Catholic Guide for Policy Development’ was introduced May 29 in the Kenyan capital May 29 by the Association of Member Episcopal Conferences in Eastern Africa, known as AMECEA.” By Francis Njuguna, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

The purgatory of the sex abuse crisis
“Eugene Cullen Kennedy, who died June 3, 2015, was one of the most prolific and insightful observers of the Catholic Church in the modern era. Following is the first of two pieces on the clergy culture and the sex abuse crisis(link is external) that were part of a larger work underway when he died. The manuscript, last worked on in January 2015, was shared with NCR by his widow, Sara Charles Kennedy, who noted the happy coincidence that Kennedy’s date of death was the same as that of St. Pope John XXIII, whom he greatly admired. John XXIII died in 1963. The longer manuscript was lightly edited for clarity and divided into two parts.” By Eugene Cullen Kennedy, National Catholic Reporter

Australian Catholic Church releases standards for child protection
“The Australian Catholic Church has released its National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, more than 18 months after they were recommended by the country’s landmark Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse, in the latest chapter in the overhaul of how the Church responds to clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The standards closely parallel the commission’s recommendations as well as norms enshrined by the government in the National Principles for Child Safe Organizations, although some provisions have been watered down, observers noted.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

The U.S. Catholic Church spent more than $300 million on abuse-related costs in 12 months
“Between June 2017 and June 2018 the Catholic Church in the United States spent a whopping $301.6 million on costs related to clergy sexual abuse(link is external), including nearly $200 million in legal settlements, according to a report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. The new report also revealed that, during the same 12-month period, the church fielded 1,051 new ‘credible allegations’ of sexual abuse of a minor by priests and other clergy.” By Daniel Burke, CNN

ACCOUNTABILITY

Ex-seminarian’s struggle shows ‘overlapping jurisdictions’ gap in abuse crisis
“Seventeen years ago, a young foreign-born seminarian was packing his bags for the opportunity of a lifetime. During a chance meeting at a Labor Day BBQ, the highly influential and now disgraced Cardinal Theodore McCarrick encouraged him to transfer to Washington, D.C., where he enrolled in the Theological College. Little did he know that choice would influence the rest of his life. The experience turned sour when ‘Martin,’ a pseudonym, says he was sexually assaulted by a transitional deacon(link is external) who was studying at TC and who would be ordained a priest the following year.” By Inés San Martin and Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Woman accuses Cardinal DiNardo of dismissing sex abuse case
“When Cardinal Daniel DiNardo first met Laura Pontikes in his wood-paneled conference room in December 2016, the leader of the U.S. Catholic Church’s response to its sex abuse scandal(link is external) said all the right things. He praised her for coming forward to report that his deputy in the Galveston-Houston archdiocese had manipulated her into a sexual relationship and declared her a ‘victim’ of the priest, Pontikes said. Emails and other documents obtained by The Associated Press show that the relationship had gone on for years — even as the priest heard her confessions, counseled her husband on their marriage and pressed the couple for hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on ReligionNews.com

California archbishop ‘deeply disappointed’ by senate passing confession bill
“Los Angeles Archbishop José H. Gómez, vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said he was ‘deeply disappointed’ by the California Senate’s passage of a bill that would force priests to disclose information about child sexual abuse that they hear in the sacrament of Confession(link is external). After legislators voted 30-2 in favor of the measure May 23, the archbishop urged the state’s Catholics ‘to continue to pray and make your voices heard on this issue, which is so vital to our faith and religious freedom.’” By Catholic News Service in Catholic Sun

Pope says Argentine bishop now facing Vatican sexual abuse trial
“An Argentine bishop close to Pope Francis is now on trial at the Vatican, accused of sexually abusing seminarians(link is external). Francis revealed the development in an interview with Mexico’s Televisa Tuesday. He said he received the results of a preliminary investigation into Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta two weeks ago and ordered the case be handed over for trial by a Vatican tribunal. Zanchetta resigned suddenly as bishop of Oran, Argentina in 2017 and within a few months, Francis named him to a senior Vatican administration position.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in Press Herald

McCARRICK CASE

Pope Francis denies he know of abuse by McCarrick
“For nearly a year, Pope Francis remained mostly silent in the face of a searing accusation by a former papal ambassador to the United States that he knew, and did nothing about, the sexual misconduct of former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick … But in an interview published Tuesday (May 28), just weeks after Francis issued the first law requiring that officials in the Roman Catholic Church worldwide report cases of clergy sexual abuse to their superiors, he directly denied the accusation(link is external).” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Letters suggest lax enforcement of restrictions on disgraced D.C. ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick
“The former secretary to defrocked American Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has released excerpts from private and confidential correspondence among top Vatican leaders(link is external)which reveal details of restrictions placed on McCarrick by the Holy See following allegations of sexual misconduct. The communications reveal the extent to which the restrictions were known among senior church leaders – and particularly by his successor Cardinal Donald Wuerl – but not enforced.” By Anna Matranga and Seth Doane, CBS-TV News

Pope Francis denies knowing of allegations against McCarrick
“Nearly a year later, Pope Francis denied claims made by a former apostolic nuncio to the United States(link is external) who accused him and other church officials of failing to act on accusations of abuse of conscience and power by former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick. ‘I knew nothing, obviously, of McCarrick. Nothing, nothing. I said several times that I didn’t know, that I had no idea,’ the pope said in an interview with Mexican journalist Valentina Alazraki published by Vatican News May 28. ‘You know that I didn’t know anything about McCarrick; otherwise, I would not have stayed quiet.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINAL PELL

Vatican trial possible for Cardinal Pell
“Whether or not Cardinal George Pell wins or loses his appeal against his conviction in Australia for child sexual abuse he may still face a Vatican trial(link is external). This possibility was mooted in Rome once his sentence was announced in Melbourne. The 77-year-old Pell, who is now in jail, returns to a Melbourne court on Wednesday and Thursday to appeal his conviction after being found guilty of sexually abusing two choirboys in the 1990s. Three judges will hear Pell’s appeal.” By SBS.com.au

Analysis: Pell sex abuse conviction appeal
“Whatever the outcome of his appeal against a conviction for sexually abusing two choir boys, Cardinal George Pell’s case is far from over(link is external). Even if the Australian cardinal is successful in overturning his conviction, he could find himself back in jail if the highest court in the land were to re-confirm the jury’s declaration of guilt. Such a scenario is not without precedent, and it means the process could drag on into the middle of next year, and beyond. Justice, however, must take its course.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

BISHOPS

Catholic groups weigh in with ideas for bishops’ meeting on how to ‘solve’ abuse crisis
“As the U.S. bishops prepare to meet June 11-14 in Baltimore, with sex abuse concerns at the top of their agenda, they don’t lack for advice(link is external). Across the Catholic spectrum, groups and individuals have issued statements and offered declarations about how to fix the church. John Carr, a retired staff member for the U.S. bishops and now director of the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life at Georgetown University, urged the bishops to keep their focus …” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Here’s a must-do agenda for the U.S. bishops conference
“A week from tomorrow (that is, May 11), the U.S. bishops will gather in Baltimore for their annual spring meeting. The principal item on the agenda is the enactment of new policies regarding the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults(link is external). Last autumn, you will recall, the bishops planned to take action on several items to address the crisis but the Vatican ordered them not to vote on any proposals until after they had taken a retreat together, which they did in January, and until the conclusion of the February summit of bishops from around the globe called by Pope Francis to focus on this issue.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Conservatives still rule the U.S. bishops’ conference
“At the U.S. bishops’ meeting in November 2017, as the prelates voted in the much-anticipated election for chair of their pro-life committee, the ballot offered a stark choice: one candidate a culture warrior who emphasized opposition to abortion; the other, more moderate, took a “seamless garment” approach that connects life issues … The results proved that progressive prelates didn’t have the numbers to control the leadership of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops(link is external), not to mention its statements, policies and priorities.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Officials look at meaning, role of ‘metropolitan archbishop’
“Most Catholics have never heard of a ‘metropolitan archbishop,’ even if their archbishop is one. Designating an archdiocese as a ‘metropolitan see’ is part of an organizational model, borrowed from the Romans(link is external), that goes back to the early days of Christianity, said Bishop Juan Ignacio Arrieta, secretary of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Angelus

PRIESTS

Head of U.S. Catholic priests’ largest group asks bishops to end clericalism
“The Catholic Church in the United States needs to focus on three priorities: drawing the curtain on its culture of secrecy, ending clericalism, and giving women more roles in Church affairs(link is external), the chair of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests (AUSCP) wrote in a letter to bishops dated June 4. ‘We are in crisis. We need change,’ wrote Father Kevin Clinton, a priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul – Minneapolis. ‘Please engage all of God’s People in bringing about the needed change. Clericalism most especially must be eradicated, and women must be integrated.’” By La Croix International Staff

The priesthood has meaning, and not just for male priests
“With every new wave of stories of sexual abuse by priests, it can be much harder not to create a spiritual bunker containing the people I like and leaving out the rest. I have felt despair and frustration at the crisis of abuse and the failure of leadership that got us here. The Church needs healing. It needs a new way forward. But it also needs the priesthood(link is external).” By Kerry Weber, Executive Editor for America: The Jesuit Review, in The Atlantic

WOMEN DEACONS

What the debate over deacons gets wrong about Catholic women leadership
“Two years ago I was on a panel at the University of Notre Dame where a fellow presenter lamented the almost total absence of women in leadership in the church(link is external). Perhaps she did not read my bio or listen to my presentation. During the panel discussion, I finally had to interject that I was the chancellor of one of the largest dioceses in the country and fourth on the organization chart for the Diocese of Orange.” By Pia de Solenni, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

German Catholic women begin boycott over lack of reforms
“A grassroots Catholic women’s movement – using the motto of the Virgin Mary who should be given her voice(link is external) – launched a week of disobedient non-service on Saturday (May 11) – with the backing of major lay organizations and even singular bishops. The women planned to hold rites outside churches, without priests, and withhold services inside parishes until May 18 at least 50 locations to back their call that the Vatican open the priesthood to women and drop celibacy.” By Deutsche Welle

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Laity not playing ‘gotcha’ with bishops on abuse, review board chair says
“The path to rebuilding the U.S. church’s credibility as it emerges from the lingering clergy sexual abuse scandal rests in embracing the role of laypeople as important collaborators(link is external), said the chairman of the National Review Board. Francesco Cesareo told Catholic News Service June 3 that laypeople want transparency and openness from the bishops and the sooner the prelates put aside their guardedness about welcoming laity as partners, the sooner the U.S. church will heal.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Laity need strong voice at government/bishops talks
Parishioners ‘must be heard’(link is external) in any future Church-State talks particularly regarding the future of Catholic schools, two leading Irish theologians have said. The call comes after the Irish bishops confirmed they will be discussing the Taoiseach’s proposed ‘new covenant’ between faith groups and secular society planned for July 4. Despite a commitment to divestment from Church leadership, at grassroots level there are ‘very, very strong views on the need to protect Catholic education,’ Prof. Eamonn Conway of Mary Immaculate College in Limerick told The Irish Catholic.” By Chai Brady, The Irish Catholic

CLERICALISM

Everybody wants a revolution, but nobody wants to do the dishes
“Currently, beyond the purely advisory role of parish and diocesan councils, laypeople hold no formal role in the authority structure of the Church. This must change. Giving laypeople a powerful voice at every level of Church governance(link is external) would be a consequential first step in building an ecclesial culture of justice, transparency, and humility.” By Susan Bigelow Reynolds, The Atlantic

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Cardinal Kasper says Francis will allow married priests, if bishops request it
“German Cardinal Walter Kasper, considered a close theological adviser to Pope Francis, said that if during an upcoming meeting of bishops on the Amazon region the prelates asked for the ordination of married men, the Argentine pontiff would grant the request(link is external). He also said that the ordination of women, even to the diaconate, is out of the question, as it would undermine a ‘millennia old tradition,’ noting, however, that the Catholic Church would ‘collapse’ without women.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Catholic is Kenya rebel against celibacy vow for priests
“He was a priest just out of seminary. She was a nurse. They were both from the slopes of Mount Kenya, but their paths improbably crossed in Rome. He became unshakable in his desire to marry her, even though he had taken the Catholic Church’s mandatory vow of celibacy for priests. When he returned to preach in Kenya, Peter Njogu was shocked when fellow priests told him that many of them had broken that vow, marrying and having children(link is external).” By Max Bearak, The Washington Post in Stars & Stripes

CHURCH REFORM

Proposed new apostolic constitution reorders Vatican’s offices
“The draft of Pope Francis’ document to reorganize the Vatican’s sprawling bureaucracy significantly reorients the mission of the Catholic Church’s central command(link is external), emphasizing that officials must no longer consider themselves a ‘superior authority’ but servants of the pope and the world’s bishops. The text of the proposed new apostolic constitution, obtained by NCR, also notably reorders the precedence of the Vatican’s offices, downgrading the once all-powerful Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in favor of a new streamlined evangelization bureau charged with attracting followers by considering the ‘fundamental questions’ of our era.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Francis’ draft of curial reform fundamentally reimagines Vatican’s role
“Pope Francis’ long-awaited apostolic constitution on the reform of the Curia has finally appeared. Those looking for radical structural reform may be disappointed. However, the document contributes much toward a fundamentally different conception of the role and function of the Curia(link is external) within the life of the church. The Roman Curia in its modern form, dating back to the 16th century, has remained remarkably resistant to substantive reform, in spite of efforts undertaken by both Pope St. Paul VI and Pope St. John Paul II. Some of that resistance to reform may have been a consequence of the failure to consider the Curia within an ecclesiological framework sufficiently informed by the teaching of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65).” By Richard Gallardetz, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

New papal abuse policy will help restore trust
“Three months ago, Pope Francis called for an ‘all-out battle’ against the scourge of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and bishops(link is external). Now the Holy Father is making meaningful progress in the fight to protect the innocent and purify the church, and he deserves praise for his strong leadership. This month, Pope Francis ordered every diocese to develop a system that allows the public to submit allegations of abuse by any church official. Crucially, this includes bishops, archbishops, and cardinals, all of whom have historically escaped such oversight.” By Tim Busch, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic Church spent $10.6 million in Northeast on lobbying since 2011
“The Catholic Church has spent more than $10.6 million on lobbying in northeastern states since 2011 — and has poured a significant amount of that money into blocking bills aimed at clergy sexual abuse, a recent study revealed(link is external). The analysis of lobbying data, conducted by the Seeger Weiss and Williams Cedar law firms and dubbed ‘Church Influencing State,’ found that in the Empire State alone the New York State Catholic Conference and the Catholic Conference Policy Group spent $2.9 million over eight years to lobby government officials.” By Michael Gartland, New York Daily News

Unhappy Buffalo Catholics are giving less in wake of clergy sex abuse scandal
“The clergy sex abuse scandal is costing the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo more than the $17.5 million paid to childhood victims of abuse through a special compensation program. Giving at area Catholic parishes is down since last August(link is external) and is likely to result in a budget shortfall at the diocese and cuts to ministries and services, according to the Rev. Peter J. Karalus, the diocese’s chief operating officer. ‘The abuse scandal has had consequences on the financial condition of the diocese beyond the cost of settling claims,’ said Karalus, vicar general and moderator of the curia, in a preface to the diocese’s 2018 financial report.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Catholic archdiocese mired in deficit and debt
“Australia’s largest Catholic archdiocese has been plunged into budget deficit and debt, reflecting financial constraints across the church in the wake of the sex abuse scandal(link is external). Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli has flagged a major overhaul of finances and church structures in a talk to clergy and staff, calling for restraint and a new way forward to deliver services. Staff are expecting job losses and budget cuts to deal with the poor budget position.” By John Ferguson, The Australian

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Scott signs bills removing statute of limitations for child sexual abuse claims
“(Vermont) Gov. Phil Scott last week signed a new law that removes the time limit for victims of child sexual abuse to bring civil claims against their abusers(link is external). Scott also signed a bill that will extend the statute of limitations for criminal offenses including manslaughter and sexual exploitation of a vulnerable adult. The bill eliminating the six-year statute of limitations for civil child sexual abuse cases was a priority for the House Judiciary Committee this year.” By Xander Landen, VTDigger.com

Arizona’s statute of limitations for child sex abuse is the worst in the country
“The arrest of a priest in Arizona on sex abuse charges out of Michigan could lend fuel to legislative efforts to expand the time that victims in this state have to sue their assailants(link is external) … The news comes as Sen. Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix, is trying to convince colleagues to scrap existing Arizona laws which say that victims here have only until they turn 20 to file civil suits. Boyer told Capitol Media Services he can’t say whether Crowley and other priests accused of incidents of sexual abuse were purposely moved to Arizona because of what he sees as the limited ability of those who are abused and assaulted here to file civil actions.” By Daniel Perle, Capitol Media Services, on KJZZ.org

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Diocesan whistleblower slams compensation program for victims of clergy abuse
“The former executive assistant to Bishop Richard Malone says the compensation program set up by the diocese for victims of clergy sex abuse ‘didn’t have survivors best interest at heart or in mind(link is external).’ Siobhan O’Connor, who leaked several documents that detailed clergy sex abuse from the diocese’s archives, spoke at a press conference in Los Angeles Tuesday (Jun. 4) afternoon. The announcement was made as six dioceses in California are launching a victims’ compensation program similar to the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program that the Diocese of Buffalo set up.” By Chris Horvatits, WIVB-TV4 News

Survivors of sexual abuse by nuns want greater visibility for their accusations
“When Patricia Cahill was 15, she received an unexpected request(link is external). A nun who taught at a Catholic high school near her home in Ridgewood, N.J., called her at home and invited her to perform at an upcoming ‘hootenanny’ Mass. ‘This was [the] 1960s, you know. Peter, Paul and Mary and all that,’ Cahill said. ‘I didn’t really play guitar, but a nun — a nun! — asked me to.’” By Laura Benshoff, National Public Radio

CALIFORNIA

Law firm releases list of 43 clergy members allegedly accused of sexual misconduct
“A law firm that investigates child abuse claims released a list of 43 people within the Fresno Diocese who it says are accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). ‘We’re here because the Diocese of Fresno and the Catholic bishops in Fresno are dirty,’ said Jeff Anderson from Anderson & Associates. ‘They’re secret keepers.’ Anderson and his associates held a news conference in Fresno today (Jun. 5) accusing the Fresno Diocese of covering up sexual misconduct allegations.” By Amber Frias, KGET-TV

Three California priests credibly accused of sexual misconduct with minors on first list released by Franciscans
“An Oakland-based Catholic order for the first time on Friday (May 31) released its own list of clergy with credible accusations of child sex abuse(link is external). The Franciscans of the Province of St. Barbara’s list contains 50 names involving 122 victims. Some of the accused have been previously reported by advocates or are included in court documents, but at least one has never been reported.” By Polly Stryker, KQED National Public Radio News

GEORGIA

Georgia attorney general opens Catholic priest abuse investigation
“Georgia has become the latest state to open a formal investigation into the Catholic Church’s priest sex abuse scandal(link is external) in the state. The state does not have a large Catholic population within the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah. However, the newly-minted archbishop of Washington DC is the former Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton Gregory. Gregory’s predecessor in Washington was forced to retire after the scathing Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report concerning his tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

ILLINOIS

After 2006 sex abuse lawsuit, priest served in Whiting for seven years
“Months after the Rev. Stephen Muth retired at St. Mary Byzantine Catholic Church in Whiting, superiors put him on administrative leave, removing him from the priesthood. Church leaders had concluded Muth, 69, received a ‘recent credible accusation of sexual misconduct involving a vulnerable adult(link is external) (considered a minor under canon law),’ according to a statement dated Oct. 22.” By Meredith, Colias-Pete, Chicago Tribune

Chicago pastor arrested for allegedly sexually abusing twin girls he tutored at his home
“A Chicago pastor was arrested Friday (May 24) after allegedly abusing twin 12-year-old girls he had tutored at home(link is external). His arrest was announced by police Sunday, after the clergyman attended a bond hearing. Jeffery Parks, 51—a pastor at Good Shepherd Church—is accused of inappropriately touching the girls on multiple occasions since 2017. He tutored the twin girls for three years before he was reported to police, according to The Chicago Tribune.” By Katherine Hignett, Newsweek

IOWA

Iowa attorney general requests clergy abuse records from Catholic dioceses, launches hotline
“Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller has requested information related to clergy abuse records from the state’s four Catholic dioceses(link is external), his office announced Monday (Jun. 3). Letters sent to officials in Davenport, Des Moines, Dubuque and Sioux City ask the dioceses to voluntarily share records related to abuse allegations, diocesan review boards, and settlements by Aug. 1.” By Shelby Fleig, Des Moines Register

KENTUCKY

Bills enabling a statewide clergy abuse investigation stalled in Kentucky. Supporters blame politics.
“A pair of bills that would have opened an avenue to investigate alleged clergy abuse in Kentucky languished in this year’s legislative session(link is external), and some supporters of the proposals say partisan politics is to blame. Amid a national reckoning over allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, Kentucky lawmakers failed to advance or even consider legislation to expand the Attorney General’s powers to investigate crimes, like clergy abuse, that often occur across multiple jurisdictions. Now, the attorney general and his allies are crying foul.” By Pete Madden, ABC-TV News

MASSACHUSETTS

Former insider sees cover-up by Springfield Diocese on abuse
“A former member of the board that reviews sexual abuse allegations for the Springfield Diocese says the church is attempting to quash an altar boy’s report of molestation to preserve the reputation of a longtime local bishop(link is external). In a statement in response to an article in The Eagle, the diocese says that when its review board met last year with a Chicopee man who served as an altar boy in the 1960s, that man did not allege sexual abuse by the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon. But Patricia Martin and two others who attended that June 13, 2018, session confirmed this week that the victim specifically named Weldon as an abuser.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Five Catholic priests charged in Michigan sex abuse investigation
“As part of the state’s investigation into sexual abuse by Catholic clergy, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Friday (May 24) criminal sexual conduct charges against five priests in Michigan(link is external). ‘Some of these clergy … preyed on young children,’ Nessel said at a news conference about the men who were priests at the time of the alleged abuse. She said the five cases were the ‘tip of the iceberg’ as investigators continue to track down hundreds of tips on abuse by Catholic priests.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

Roman Catholic diocese suspends priest accused of misconduct
“A Roman Catholic diocese in Massachusetts says a longtime priest has been suspended amid an allegation of sexual misconduct(link is external). The Herald News reports that Fall River Bishop Edgar Moreira da Cunha said in an email Sunday (May 26) that Father Bruce Neylon, pastor of Holy Trinity Church, was removed from active ministry.” By Associated Press on ABCNews.com

MISSOURI

St. Louis victims have waited long enough for findings on clergy sexual abuse
“For months now, the St. Louis Archdiocese has been saying it intends to follow the lead of its counterparts around the nation and publicly identify its clergy who have been credibly accused of the sexual abuse of children. Since last year, the Missouri Attorney General’s office, under two consecutive office-holders, has said it will complete and release an independent investigation of the issue statewide. To date, neither promise has been fulfilled(link is external).” By St. Louis Post-Dispatch Editorial Board

NEW JERSEY

These three New Jersey nuns were accused of sex abuse. Here’s what we know about them
“When a law firm released a report earlier this month naming 311 Catholic clergy members from New Jersey accused of sexual misconduct there was something striking about the list– it included women(link is external). Three nuns from New Jersey were among the priests, monks, deacons and other clergy members listed in the report compiled by New Jersey attorney Greg Gianforcaro and Jeff Anderson & Associates, a Minnesota-based law firm that specialized in representing victims of abuse.” By Kelly Heyboer, New Jersey Advance Media on NJ.com

NEW YORK

Sex-abuse fallout triggers uncertain summer for Diocese of Rochester
“This is the second of two parts on the Diocese of Rochester’s ongoing response to the sexual-abuse crisis(link is external). Part I appeared in the Courier’s April edition. The summer of 2019 promises to be an uncomfortable one for New York’s Catholic bishops and their staffs. Last fall, the state’s attorney general launched an investigation into the handling of cases of clergy sexual abuse by New York’s seven dioceses and the Archdiocese of New York. The probe is one of nine similar investigations underway by attorneys general across the nation.” By Catholic Courier

Buffalo Diocese affirms abuse allegations against priest, returns two to ministry
Allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external) against the Rev. Michael P. Juran were substantiated by Buffalo Diocese Bishop Richard J. Malone after an investigation, and Juran will remain on administrative leave while the Vatican reviews the decision, Malone said Thursday (May 30) morning. An allegation of child sex abuse against the Rev. Robert M. Yetter was not substantiated, but Yetter will remain on administrative leave as the diocese continues to investigate allegations of adult sexual abuse by the former pastor of St. Mary Church in Swormville.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Long Island deacon accused of decades-old sex abuse
“A Roman Catholic deacon on Long Island is accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external)decades ago. According to a statement from the Diocese of Rockville Centre, the allegation was made against Deacon Richard LaRossa, who served St. Raymond’s Church in East Rockaway. The alleged abuse happened about 26 years ago but was recently reported to the diocese’s Office for the Protection of Children and Young People. The diocese alerted law enforcement.” By LongIsland.News12.com

Buffalo diocese: Clergy abuse victims have been compensated
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo said Tuesday its clergy abuse compensation program rejected more than half the claims filed by alleged victims while offering 127 people awards ranging from $2,000 to $650,000. The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program was established last year amid public scrutiny of the diocese’s handling of claims of sex abuse against priests. In a summary, the diocese said that while a few awards are outstanding, the program ‘is substantially complete(link is external).’” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in Lexington Herald Leader

Buffalo Diocese working to educate students, staff on clergy abuse crisis
“Sister Gail Glenn, longtime elementary school principal at Catholic Academy of West Buffalo, says her seventh and eighth graders have discussed the clergy sexual abuse crisis in class(link is external), while many of the younger students have not: About 8,500 elementary students attend Catholic school in Diocese of Buffalo; Clergy sexual abuse crisis discussed more among the upper grade levels; Students, staff provided ongoing abuse training. ‘We help them understand, that you’re going to find sick people all over and you just have to be aware,’ said Glenn.” By Mark Goshgarian, SpectrumLocalNews.com

OHIO

Catholic Diocese of Columbus adds additional priests accused of sexual abuse of a minor
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has added four names to its website list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external). The list was initially released on March 1, 2019, with 34 names on it. On March 5, the diocese added two more names. The website was updated on May 23 with the additions of Rev. Walter H. Horan, Rev. Stephan L. Johnson, Rev. Francis M Sweeney, and Rev. John J. Walsh.” By Sarah Wynn, ABC-TV6 News

TEXAS

Dallas bishop questions affidavit, says police raid was ‘traumatic’
“Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas questioned an affidavit and a dramatic raid by local police who descended on church property in the Texas diocese(link is external) wearing ‘ski masks and SWAT gear’ in mid-May saying they were looking for documents related to abuse investigations. The Diocese of Dallas has fully cooperated with police and has been transparent and communicative with law enforcement, which is why ‘we were surprised, dismayed and even disappointed by the action taken,’ said the prelate in a May 17 video posted on the diocese’s website a couple of days after the raid.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Woodville priest placed on leave by Diocese of Beaumont during sexual misconduct investigation
“A Woodville priest has been removed from his duties at Our Lady of the Pines Catholic Church after allegations of sexual misconduct at his former diocese(link is external) surfaced. Monsignor Frank Rossi, who retired from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, was accepted into the Beaumont Diocese in May 2017 to work at the parish according to a letter sent to parishioners Saturday by the Bishop of the Beaumont Diocese the Most Rev. Curtis J. Guillory.” By Reagan Gibson and Tyler Seggeman, 12NewsNow.com

VIRGINIA

Why advocates are pushing for more transparency in the Catholic Church
Local advocates are calling for more transparency in Catholic churches(link is external). They held a town hall discussion on the issue on Monday (Jun. 3) night in Vienna. Among the demands discussed were calls for a third-party national hotline, to hear out tips involving clerical sex abuse and full transparency throughout an investigation, when it comes to clerical sex abuse victims and their families.” By Anna-Lysa Gayle, WJLA-TV7 News

WEST VIRGINIA

West Virginia diocese releases more accused priests’ names
“West Virginia’s only Roman Catholic diocese has released the names of two more priests who it says have been credibly accused of child sexual abuse(link is external) in the state. The priests are accused of committing the abuse while working at the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston. Both are deceased. One of them, the Rev. Raymond Waldruff, previously was accused of abuse in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in the 1960s. Complaints of decades-old abuse were made against him in March in the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston and in April in the Diocese of Owensboro, Kentucky.” By John Raby, Daily Journal

WISCONSIN

Green Bay diocese names 48th priest determined to have sexually abused a minor
“The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay last month identified another priest who molested a child, amending its list of known abusers(link is external) with little notice to the general public. The diocese on May 23 added Steven Scherer to the list of priests who sexually abused minors over the past century. Scherer, who died in 1999, was determined by the diocese to have committed a single instance of abuse around 1980 or 1981. The allegation surfaced after his death.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette

AUSTRALIA

Church’s astonishing defense ignores royal commission’s findings on notorious pedophile priest
“Here were lawyers for the very same Catholic Church launching a defense which rejected some of the royal commission’s key findings(link is external) in relation to one of its most notorious pedophile priests. The many good Catholics who espouse Christian values of decency and kindness and social justice might question the expenditure of the proceeds of their collective collection plates to mount that defense.” By Louise Milligan, Australian Broadcasting System

Church reaches new milestone in response to child sexual abuse
“Catholic Professional Standards Limited has released its National Catholic Safeguarding Standards in response to the recommendations of the Royal Commission(link is external) into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. CPSL chief Sheree Limbrick said that during the royal commission, Catholic leaders committed to establishing nationally consistent standards and to the audit and public reporting of the compliance of Church authorities with those standards.” By CathNews.com

BANGLADESH

Church in Bangladesh to discuss new sex abuse norms in August
“Bangladeshi Catholics must break taboos surrounding sexual abuse to end a culture of silence(link is external), according to the country’s top prelate. Cardinal Patrick D’Rozario, the Archbishop of Dhaka, leads the small Catholic community in the Muslim-majority South Asian country. Christians make up just 0.5 percent of the population and there are only around 400,000 Catholics in the country.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

CANADA

Canadians say the Catholic Church has failed in its sex abuse response
“Most Canadians, Catholics and non-Catholics alike, agreed in a recent poll that ‘the Catholic Church as a whole has done a poor job of addressing this issue of clerical sexual abuse(link is external).’ And 55 percent said the Catholic Church, still the country’s largest religious denomination, will be ‘weakened’ by its handling of the abuse crisis, a view shared by 42 percent of practicing Catholics. In the survey conducted online in early May and just published by the British Columbia-based Angus Reid Institute, 78 percent of all Canadians (including non-Catholics) gave the church a poor grade.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

CHILE

Chilean bishop-elect apologizes for comments on abuse crisis, women
“After the uproar caused by his words regarding Chile’s clerical abuse scandals and the role of women in the Church, the newly appointed auxiliary bishop of Santiago apologized for his comments(link is external). ‘I would like to sincerely ask for forgiveness for the pain and uncertainty my words might have caused,’ Bishop-elect Carlos Irarrazaval said May 29.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

FRANCE

Commission into clerical sex abuse in France opens
“An independent commission set up by the French Catholic Church to look at allegations of sexual abuse by clerics(link is external) began its work by launching an appeal for witness statements. France’s Catholic bishops set up the commission last year in response to a number of scandals that shook the church in the country and also worldwide. It now has the task to shed light on sexual abuse committed by French clerics on minors or vulnerable individuals going right back to the 1950s.” By RTE News

LIBERIA

Liberian bishops summoned to Rome over alleged sex scandal
“Last week representatives of the Liberian bishops’ conference traveled to the Vatican to address accusations from a local priest that two of the country’s bishops were guilty of soliciting him for sex(link is external). Bishop Anthony Borwah, President of the Liberia Bishops’ Conference, traveled to Rome to meet with Vatican officials after Father Gabriel Sawyer, a parish priest from Monrovia, raised accusations against the current Archbishop Lewis Zeigler, who heads the archdiocese, and against Bishop Andrew Karnley of Cape Palmas – located on Liberia’s southern coast – of sexual advances and abuses of power.” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

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Priest and lay reform organizations take on clerical culture


Pope Francis has repeatedly called out the clerical culture’s danger to the Catholic Church and its faithful, for example, calling clericalism “our ugliest perversion.” Now a nationwide Catholic priests’ organization and two international lay reform groups have developed the BridgeDialogues: Laity & Clergy re-Imagining Church Together to show Catholics what they can do to recognize and prevent this perversion which blocks the laity from achieving their full potential in the Church.

Clericalism has been defined in various ways. In a 2011 report criticizing the Church’s “Study of the Causes and Context of the Sexual Abuse Crisis,” VOTF defined clericalism as “an overriding set of beliefs and behaviors in which the clergy view themselves as different, separate, and exempt from the norms, rules and consequences that apply to everyone else in society.” As the Pope has said, “Clerics feel they are superior, they are far from the people,” and clericalism “can be fostered by priests or by lay people” where the laity show clergy excessive deference because they assume the clergy are morally superior.

The BridgeDialogues is a collaborative effort of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, FutureChurch, and Voice of the Faithful. They offer:

  • prompts for opening up discussions addressing clericalism, including topics such as the subtle ways that language and pastoral relationships can feed clericalism;
  • examples of how you experience clericalism barriers and what you can do about them;
  • tips for how you can guard against clericalism in your own behaviors, while removing the barriers others may use to hold you on “your side” of the lay/clergy divide.

The BridgeDialogues’ many resources are available online at bridgedialogues.org.

Deborah Rose-Milavec, FutureChurch executive director, said, “Although some form of clerical culture will always be with us as long as we make distinctions between priests and laity, we can all work together to reduce its deleterious effects. The BridgeDialogues provides the resources to begin a dialogue in your parish or community to look at the subtle ways that language and pastoral relationships can feed clericalism and how all Catholics experience those barriers.”

Donna B. Doucette, VOTF executive director, added, “We must make ourselves, priests and laity, aware of a clerical culture that has so many damaging consequences. Many Catholics are unaware of how embedded those effects are. Priests typically live aside and apart from the people they should serve—they are culturally and often physically far removed from the realities of the communities that surround them. Yet instead of trying to bridge the separation, too often lay people contribute to it. And some priests, of course, often don’t realize it should be bridged.”

Said AUSCP member Louis Arceneaux, a priest of the Congregation of the Mission living in New Orleans, “For our wounded Church to grow, we need organizations of women and men, of laity and clergy, to minister together. As an AUSCP member, I am delighted to be working with FutureChurch and Voice of the Faithful in promoting the BridgeDialogues, which affords me personally and our association a wonderful opportunity to be part of an important priests/laity collaboration.”



Association of U.S. Catholic Priests
(Contact: Louis Arceneaux, louiearceneaux66@gmail.com)
AUSCP serves the People of God in parishes and other ministries. We seek to add a priest’s voice to the public conversation within our pilgrim church, among bishops and lay persons, vowed religious, ordained deacons and others. Our concerns are your concerns: good liturgy, social justice, the role of women in our church, immigration policies that reflect Gospel values, the dignity of all human lives, and a Church that welcomes all the People of God. Our mission is to be an association of U.S. Catholic priests offering mutual support and a collegial voice through dialogue, contemplation and prophetic action on issues affecting Church and society. Our vision is to be a Priest’s Voice of Hope and Joy within our Pilgrim Church. More information is at uscatholicpriests.org.


FutureChurch
(Contact: Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director, debrose@futurchurch.org)
FutureChurch’s mission is to seek changes that will provide all Roman Catholics the opportunity to participate fully in Church life, ministry, and governance. FutureChurch works for just, open and collaborative structures for Catholic worship, organization and governance; a return to the Church’s early tradition of both married and celibate priests; a return to the Church’s earliest tradition, modeled on the inclusive practice of Jesus, of recognizing both female and male leaders of faith communities; and regular access to the Eucharist, the center of Catholic life and worship, for all Catholics. FutureChurch’s activities grow from a spirituality based on the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Eucharist, the Spirit-filled beliefs of the faithful, and the teachings of Vatican II. More information is at futurechurch.org.

 

VOTF Logo
Voice of the Faithful®
(Contact: Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, dbdoucette@votf.org)
Voice of the Faithful® is a worldwide movement of faithful Roman Catholics working to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, support priests of integrity and increase the laity’s role in reforming administrative structures that have failed. VOTF’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. More information is at votf.org.

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West Virginia bishop gave powerful cardinal and other priests $350,000 in cash gifts before his ouster, church records show / The Washington Post

The gifts — one as large as $15,000 — were detailed in a draft of a confidential report to the Vatican about the alleged misconduct that led to Bransfield’s resignation in September. (The Washington Post)

In the years before he was ousted for alleged sexual harassment and financial abuses, the leader of the Catholic Church in West Virginia gave cash gifts totaling $350,000 to fellow clergymen, including young priests he is accused of mistreating and more than a dozen cardinals in the United States and at the Vatican, according to church records obtained by The Washington Post.

“Bishop Michael J. Bransfield wrote the checks from his personal account over more than a decade, and the West Virginia diocese reimbursed him by boosting his compensation to cover the value of the gifts, the records show. As a tax-exempt nonprofit, the diocese must use its money only for charitable purposes.

“The gifts — one as large as $15,000 — were detailed in a draft of a confidential report to the Vatican about the alleged misconduct that led to Bransfield’s resignation in September. The names of 11 powerful clerics who received checks were edited out of the final report at the request of the archbishop overseeing the investigation, William Lori of Baltimore.”

By Michelle Boorstein, Shawn Boberg and Robert O’Harrow, Jr. — Read more …

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U.S. Catholic Church reports big rise in sex-abuse allegations / Associated Press

The findings were evidence of “complacency and lack of diligence on the part of some dioceses,” said a letter included in the report from Francesco Cesareo, who chairs a review board created by the bishops in 2002 to monitor sex abuse prevention efforts. (Associated Press)

Quantifying its vast sex-abuse crisis, the U.S. Roman Catholic Church said Friday (May 31) that allegations of child sex abuse by clerics more than doubled in its latest 12-month reporting period, and that its spending on victim compensation and child protection surged above $300 million.

“During the period from July 1, 2017, to June 30, 2018, 1,385 adults came forward with 1,455 allegations of abuse, according to the annual report of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection. That was up from 693 allegations in the previous year. The report attributed much of the increase to a victim compensation program implemented in five dioceses in New York state.

“According to the report, Catholic dioceses and religious orders spent $301.6 million during the reporting period on payments to victims, legal fees and child-protection efforts. That was up 14% from the previous year and double the amount spent in the 2014 fiscal year.”

By David Crary, Associated Press — Read more …

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Why does Francis’ passion for justice and unity stop short of women? / National Catholic Reporter

Francis’ boundless energy and dedication to peace and justice stands in stark contrast to the dithering way he is handling question of women deacons in his own church. His passionate cause for unity among churches and with people of other faiths, it seems, stops short of the women of his own church who are asking simply for more inclusive ways to serve. (National Catholic Reporter)

In June 2016, just after Pope Francis announced he would create a commission for the study of the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church, he joked to journalists, ‘When you want something not to be resolved, make a commission.’ Apparently, he wasn’t kidding after all.

“On May 7, while aboard the papal flight from Macedonia to Rome, Francis announced that, after three years of study, the papal commission was unable to find consensus and give a ‘definitive response’ on the role of women deacons in the first centuries of Christianity.

“He claimed that what remained unclear was whether women deacons received a sacramental ordination.

“‘It is fundamental that there is not certainty that it was an ordination with the same formula and the same finality of men’s ordination,’ he said.

“Anyone who has ever listened to Francis speak about women knows why this would be such a crucial distinction for him. Like popes before him, Francis believes strongly that women are not entitled to sacramental power or authority and that it is God’s intended purpose that men and women have different roles in the church.”

By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


May 13, 2019

TOP STORIES

Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations
“Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse(link is external) May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up. The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Francis: Women deacons commission gave split report on their role in early church
“The Vatican commission studying the history of women serving as deacons in the Catholic Church has been unable to find consensus on their role in the early centuries of Christianity and is yet to give a ‘definitive response(link is external),’ Pope Francis said May 7. In a press conference aboard the flight back to Rome after his three-day visit to Bulgaria and North Macedonia, the pope said the primary question is whether women who served as deacons were ordained in a manner similar to male deacons. Each of the 12 members of the commission, said Francis, ‘thought differently.’ By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Ruling lets abuse survivor proceed with suit against California bishops
“A Los Angeles, California, superior court has ruled that a survivor of sexual abuse can sue the state’s Catholic bishops(link is external) and the California Catholic Conference. In a press conference livestreamed from Burbank, California, April 29, survivor of clergy sexual abuse Tom Emens spoke alongside attorneys with the Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm.” By Maria Benevento, National Catholic Reporter

Illinois Catholic Church didn’t disclose hundreds of abuse cases, new attorney general finding shows
“Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan says Illinois six Roman Catholic dioceses failed to disclose at least 500 sexual abuse cases involving priests(link is external). That’s one of the first findings the office has released so far in its ongoing investigation of the dioceses. In an interview last week, Madigan said one of the goals of the investigation is to uncover both the extent of sexual abuse incidents in Illinois’ Catholic Church and whether church officials tried to cover them up.” By Sam Dunklau, Illinois Public Radio

If leaked draft for Curia reform is for real, the Vatican is headed for disaster
“If there is any truth to the leaks concerning the Vatican’s forthcoming proposal to reform the Curia, it is going to be a disappointment and a disaster(link is external). A draft of the proposal, expected to be published at the end of June, was obtained by a Spanish weekly, Vida Nueva, and as the Vatican has not pushed back on its analysis, the Catholic News Service and other Vatican reporters are taking it seriously.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

At Rome’s American seminary, scandals aren’t deterring future priests
“‘None of us would have asked for this scandal and the hurt it’s caused,’ said Father Peter Harman, a priest of Springfield, Ill., and rector of the NAC (North American College) since 2016. ‘But perhaps, and I trust in God’s goodness, if this makes us want to be priests for the right reasons, then let it be.(link is external)’” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

Editorial: George Weigel, wrong then, wrong now
“The Catholic University of America decided to give the final guest speaker spot in its commendable series of four programs(link is external) examining the priest sex abuse crisis to George Weigel. That was unfortunate, because his long-discredited narrative about the causes of the scandal and his illusory ideas about how to deal with it do a great disservice to the Catholic faithful in this moment when so much of the church is finally squaring up to the awful truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for?
“In the final episode of Deliver Us, we ask: What’s mine to do and not somebody else’s? What part of the church’s healing are we each responsible for(link is external)? To grapple with these questions, we spoke to people who have responded to the sex abuse crisis in different ways. Geoff Boisi and Kerry Robinson talk about why they formed Leadership Roundtable, an organization which brings best business practices to church leaders and which has convened experts to discuss the church’s future … Donna Doucette of Voice of the Faithful also joins the episode to offer her take on how lay people can contribute to healing, and Monica LaBelle offers her experience of setting up listening sessions in her parish. We also hear from you, our listeners, in this final episode. You tell us what you’ve been doing to help the church move forward.” By Maggi Van Dorn, Deliver Us, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Attorneys reviewing ‘massive’ number of documents in Catholic Church investigation
“Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office is working around the clock and then some in its review of thousands of pages of information(link is external) seized from Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses. More than 25 assistant attorneys general are assigned to the investigation, in addition to their other assignments, and several regularly work for free on the weekends to process the ‘massive’ amounts of information, said Nessel’s spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News

Georgia attorney general opens Catholic priest abuse investigation
“Georgia has become the latest state to open a formal investigation into the Catholic Church’s priest sex abuse scandal in the state(link is external). The state does not have a large Catholic population within the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Savannah. However, the newly-minted archbishop of Washington DC is the former Archbishop of Atlanta, Wilton Gregory. Gregory’s predecessor in Washington was forced to retire after the scathing Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report concerning his tenure as Bishop of Pittsburgh.” By Joseph Saunders, The Legal Examiner

Los Angeles Archdiocese’s handling of sex abuse cases under investigation by attorney general
“The California attorney general’s office will review how the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has handled sexual abuse allegations(link is external), including whether it followed mandatory reporting requirements to law enforcement, according to a letter reviewed by The Times. The letter, dated Thursday (May 2), from Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra to Archbishop Jose Gomez, requests that church officials preserve an array of documents related to clergy abuse allegations.” By Teresa Watanabe, Los Angeles Times

Catholic University sex abuse series wraps with starkly different viewpoints
“Two well-known lay Catholic leaders in the United States presented strikingly different opinions on the cause of the clergy sex abuse crisis, the role of the laity and the centrality of victim-survivors(link is external) at an April 25 conference at Catholic University of America, titled ‘The Way Forward: Principles for Effective Lay Action.’ The day-long conference, the fourth and final installment of the ‘Healing the Breach of Trust’ series, was marked by the divergent 25-minute presentations of George Weigel and John Carr, who spoke at different points in the day.” By Jesse Remedios, National Catholic Reporter

How far can statewide investigation of Catholic Church sex abuse go?
“Peter J. Skandalakis, executive director of the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, has one goal in the review of sex abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Atlanta and the Savannah Diocese. ‘We will follow the facts where they lead us and go from there(link is external),’ said Skandalakis, a career prosecutor, who joined PAC last year after more than two decades in public office. There could be further investigation or, perhaps, prosecutions by local district attorneys.” By Sheila M. Poole, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A lawsuit against all of California’s bishops will be allowed to proceed
“Last year, a California man sued bishops from every one of California’s 11 dioceses(link is external), arguing that the church’s history of concealing abusers’ identities is a threat to free speech. This month, a California judge ruled that some of the claims in the lawsuit would be allowed to proceed—a decision that could force church officials to release the names of alleged abusers in dioceses across the state.” By Emily Moon, Pacific Standard Magazine

Vatican reveals more about guidelines on children of priests
“The Vatican has confirmed that guidelines on dealing with Catholic priests who father children are sent to any episcopal conference(link is external) that requests them. Mgr Andrea Ripa, of the Congregation for the Clergy, wrote to Vincent Doyle, founder of the Coping International, which defends the rights of children of priests worldwide, confirming the policy of the Vatican concerning the document.” By Ruth Gledhill, The Tablet

POPE FRANCIS

Documentary chronicles Francis by showing Church changing the world
“An El Salvadoran countryside, a Canadian mosque, a carpenter’s workshop on the small Italian island of Lampedusa and a family home in Minnesota serve as the setting of Salt and Light Catholic Media Foundation’s latest documentary, The Francis Impact(link is external). Unlike most Vatican or papal-themed documentaries, there’s little footage of Rome. Instead, the documentary – released May 5 – aims to turn the viewer’s attention to the often forgotten regions of the world, much like the mission of its protagonist.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Pope Francis urged to end clergy abuse in Argentina
“Pope Francis is being urged by campaigners to return to his homeland to deal with revelations of child sexual abuse committed by Roman Catholic clergy. Two international campaign organizations are in Argentina to meet the victims(link is external). They are also calling for clergy involved in abuse to be removed from office and to be prosecuted.” By Daniel Schweimier, Al Jazeera

Letter signed by more than 1,500 accuses Pope Francis of the ‘canonical delict of heresey’
“A group of Catholic scholars and priests has written an open letter to the College of Bishops accusing Pope Francis of heresy(link is external). The letter, published by LifeSiteNews April 30, accuses Francis of a ‘comprehensive rejection of Catholic teaching on marriage and sexual activity, on the moral law, and on grace and the forgiveness of sins’ and is framed as the third step in a process that began with a private letter to the cardinals and Eastern Catholic patriarchs in 2016.” By Maria Benevento, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

In Washington meeting, U.S. bishops dialogue with abuse victims
“On May 1, just behind the walls where the tales of abuse and healing were on display, a small group of Catholics just like the ones in the stories gathered with bishops, clergy, victim advocates and others for a daylong event on the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church(link is external), but also to acknowledge the pain caused, to offer comfort, express sorrow, to share a meal, to pray and extend the wish to heal a broken trust.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Profile of women religious rising at the Vatican
“The Vatican can move at a snail’s pace but looking back over the past six years, the profile of women, especially women religious, at Vatican events has risen sharply(link is external). The Roman Curia is not teeming with women leaders and Pope Francis has given no indication, for example, that he will open the diaconate to women, but women are taking center stage more often and doing so with the ‘parrhesia’ or boldness Francis encourages.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

International Union of Superiors General advocates for women, sees influence grow
“In the three years since Pope Francis announced he would create a commission to study the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church(link is external), signaling a possible openness to ending the global institution’s practice of an all-male clergy, there has been little news about the group’s work … Now, that looks set to change. Approximately 850 leaders of the world’s congregations of Catholic women religious are preparing to come to Rome May 6-10 for their triennial weeklong meeting of the International Union of Superiors General (UISG), an umbrella organization that represents more than 450,000 sisters and nuns around the world.” By Joshua J. McElwee, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Vatican relaunches women’s magazine team after resignations
“The Vatican announced a new editorial leadership team for its women’s magazine(link is external)Tuesday (Apr. 30), following the clamorous exit of its previous editor who alleged a campaign of delegitimization by the Holy See’s communications operation. Three of the members of the editorial team of Women Church World previously worked for the magazine and stayed on following the resignation of founder Lucetta Scaraffia and other editorial committee members in March.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Boston Globe

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Speakers address role of laity as church moves forward from abuse scandal
“In introductory remarks during a conference examining the laity’s role in helping the Church move forward from the clergy abuse crisis(link is external), a speaker pointed out that what has happened impacts, and continues to affect, the whole Church. ‘We can’t fix the Church by our own efforts,’ but Catholics, like Simon of Cyrene who helped Jesus carry the cross, ‘can carry some of the weight,’ said Stephen White, executive director of The Catholic Project, a group sponsored by The Catholic University of America in response to the Church abuse crisis.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Rome conference ponders the rise of ‘everyday’ lay saints
“Since the beginning of his pontificate, one of the things Pope Francis has advocated most vocally is a less clerical church with a greater involvement of laypeople at every level(link is external), including the Roman Curia. At a time when the push for lay leadership is growing in the wake of further scandals related to Catholicism’s global sexual abuse crisis, with many arguing lay intervention would help break a systemic cycle of cover-up among bishops and priests, a Rome conference has highlighted the lives of seven lay individuals whose causes for sainthood are underway …” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

MILLENNIAL CATHOLICS

Young progressive Catholics really do care about the church
“Almost every conversation I listen to about the future of the Catholic Church in the United States makes two assumptions(link is external). First, that the only young adults still interested in the Catholic Church are very conservative. Second, that all of the other young adults have either rejected the church or are utterly indifferent to it. If that is the case, why do campus ministry programs at progressive Catholic universities have their liturgies packed with students, and why are there waiting lists for their retreat programs and immersion trips?” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

The hopes and challenges of priestly celibacy today
“Celibacy in the priesthood is once again up for discussion. The diminished number of candidates for ordination and the abuse crisis have prodded the discussion, which seems mainly focused on the elimination of celibacy as a mandatory discipline for priests(link is external)in the Western church. But a more foundational concern, in my estimation, needs our reflection before we consider any change. That concern has to do with formation for celibacy and formation in celibacy.” By Louis J. Carroll, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Call to Action – the ‘loyal left opposition’ – reorganizes amid an uncertain future
“About a mile west of Wrigley Field, in Chicago’s trendy Roscoe Village neighborhood, sits a three-story, yellow-brick building, where those who can’t afford the nearby million-dollar, single-family homes can get a three-bedroom condo for half that. The building’s first-floor commercial occupants are a spiritual gift shop and bookstore run by volunteers and open only on the weekends, and Call to Action, the 40-year-old Catholic church reform organization(link is external).” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

Secretariat of State looks to become even stronger in Vatican reforms
“After nearly 6 years of work, it looks like the new governing constitution of the Vatican should be published by the end of the summer(link is external). On Saturday (Apr. 20), the Spanish publication Nueva Vida will publish an article outlining some of the changes in the document, called Praedicate Evangelium, which Crux reported on earlier this week. The big news is that the once-dominant Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) is being effectively demoted. A new ‘super-dicastery’ for evangelization will be given pride of place in the new order, with another ‘super-dicastery’ for charity also superseding the CDF in the new Vatican hierarchy.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Plenary Council changing how faithful communicate
“The Listening and Dialogue phase of the Plenary Council 2020 process has changed the way people within the Church communicate with one another(link is external), three key figures have explained. Source, according to ACBC Media Blog … Plenary Council coordinators from the Diocese of Sale, Archdiocese of Brisbane and Diocese of Darwin – part of a network of more than 40 local coordinators across the nation – told Media Blog the Listening and Dialogue process has had a profound and nourishing impact on people in their communities.” By CathNews.com

Vermont synod yields proposals on communications, evangelizing, parish life
“Recommendations on evangelization, vibrant parishes and communications emerged from the Diocese of Burlington’s first synod to be held since before the Second Vatican Council(link is external) took place. On April 16, Bishop Christopher J. Coyne promulgated the documents of the synod at the annual chrism Mass April 16 at St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington. Recommendations on evangelization, vibrant parishes and communications emerged from the Diocese of Burlington’s first synod to be held since before the Second Vatican Council took place.” By Cori Fugere Urban, Cruxnow.com

Number of ‘nones’ in the U.S. ties with Catholics
“Americans who do not identify with any religion are now as big a part of the country’s population as Catholics and evangelical Christians(link is external), according to a new survey, according to “Our Sunday Visitor.” The General Social Survey, which interviewed more than 2,000 people in 2018, indicates that the religiously unaffiliated, if the present trend continues, will comprise the largest segment of the United States’ population within four to six years.” By CathNews.com

Catholics on Delmarva: Holding firm or struggling with faith
“Jackie Conner is a self-identified ‘cradle Catholic.’ Growing up in the faith, she attended mass every Sunday with her family in Troy, New York, and has continued the tradition each week with her husband, Ernie, since moving to Salisbury in the late 1970s. But it wasn’t always like that. In the early weeks of their 1954 marriage, Jackie said she resisted the Sunday ritual(link is external) because her mother wasn’t there to make her go.” By Rose Velazquez, DelmarvaNow.com

Michigan residents leaving the Catholic Church as many turn away from religion
“The Catholic Church has loomed large over Gloria Emmons’ life.

Growing up in metro Detroit in the 1950s and ’60s, her devout Catholic family was surrounded by other devout Catholics. Everybody went to church on Sundays. Nobody ate meat on Fridays. Almost every home had a statue of Mary … But today, Emmons describes herself as an ‘ambivalent’ Catholic(link is external).” By Julie Mack and Scott Levin, MLive.com

VOICES

The Heat: Catholic Church sexual abuse
“Pope Francis, the leader of over 1 billion Roman Catholics across the world, is visiting Eastern Europe this week with stops in Bulgaria and North Macedonia. He has been talking about issues like wealth inequality and he’s defended migrants. But, an issue that still dominates the pontiff’s attention is the decades-old child sexual abuse crisis involving Catholic clergy. Earlier this year he brought together leaders of the Catholic Church from around the globe to the Vatican as he tried to address it. CGTN’s John Gilmore filed this report, and discussions included(link is external) Tim Lennon, sexual abuse survivor and President of SNAP; Ray Flynn, former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican; Matthias Katsch, German activist who was sexually abused; and Donna Doucette, executive director of a Voice of the Faithful.” By Nathan King, CGTN-TV

Why I stayed, and why I’m leaving: The Church Must Comfort, not Judge
“My daughter Moy Moy died suddenly and unexpectedly in July 2018. My first Commonweal column—written in 1999 when she was ten years old—was about her. Our pediatrician had told us then that Moy probably only had months left to live. My column was about our anguish and grief; about what we had learned from her brief life(link is external) and how much we still didn’t understand. Longtime Commonweal readers may remember that our pediatrician got it wrong. Moy Moy didn’t die.” By Jo McGowan, Commonweal

Here’s how the Catholic Church can mopve from vague promises to bold action, former federal official says
“While in some ways a hopeful step, a four-day meeting in Rome earlier this year called by Pope Francis to respond to the sexual abuse crisis that has impacted the lives of countless victims(link is external) and undermined the moral authority of the Catholic Church was sadly bereft of concrete reform. There is still ample opportunity for the Church to recover from the decades-old scandal and regain the trust of the public, but it will require fundamental reforms in two critical areas that permitted and then covered up those abuses: bishop accountability and Church governance.” By Tom Healey, Star-Ledger

Ideological bias cannot taint our approach to sexual abuse
“Since last summer I have taken part in about a dozen panels and programs across this country that were organized to discuss the causes and consequences of the crisis of sexual abuse of minors(link is external) by members of the Catholic clergy. I have visited several cities and met people from every walk of life—victims, survivors, bishops, priests and religious, lay leaders, moms and dads, young and old. It has been humbling, enlightening and inspiring to take part in these important conversations—the most important conversation we could ever have.” By Mat Malone, America: The Jesuit Review

Confronting the specters
“Paul Elie, a friend and valued contributor to Commonweal for nearly three decades, has written a long article for the New Yorker on the renewed upheaval over clergy sexual abuse(link is external). It is a confusing and ultimately disappointing piece, which conflates older crimes and contemporary revelations while providing little explanation for the varying patterns of priestly sexual abuse and the church’s different responses over the past fifty years.” By Paul Baumann, Commonweal

Your thoughts on Pope Francis’ sixth year, clericalism, unbelief and more
“NCR readers are welcome to join the conversation and send us a letter to the editor. Below is a sampling of letters received in the month of March 2019(link is external). If you want to respond to an article published in NCR, follow the steps listed at the end of this post ― When Francis was elected pope, I didn’t pay much attention (and I’m a priest). Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI’s episcopal nominees had already left me cold. Not as cold and abandoned as I felt in the presence of the schismatic Roman Curia, which has long since abandoned the people of God, but frozen enough to feel that in matters of faith I’d just have to weather through on my own …” By National Catholic Reporter Staff

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholics want church to invest in ethical funds, survey says

“More than 90% of Catholics said they believe that Catholic organizations should invest church funds in ways that are consistent with church teaching and values(link is external), according to results of a new survey. In addition, about 31% of respondents to the survey conducted by Boston-based Catholic Investment Services said that news of clergy sexual abuse and the church’s handling of such allegations has caused them to give less to their parish. Still, 7% of respondents said they have given more to their parish. However, 41% of respondents said they either plan to donate less to their parish or are considering giving less in the future.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Fatal flaw: Drafting error sinks child sex crime bill
“New Mexico was poised this year to join a wave of states nationwide that are allowing victims of child sex crimes more time to report their perpetrators for possible criminal prosecution(link is external). A last-minute clerical error derailed that effort – at least for this year. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said she was forced to veto the legislation last month, because her legal team found a fatal flaw that would have given some victims even less time to report the crime than they have under current law.” By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic priest sex abuse scandal hits home, with more pain sure to come
“‘What’s next?” Roman Catholics worldwide are asking as their church reels amid explosive revelations of sexual assault and abuse of minors by priests(link is external). It certainly has hit home for me. During Mass in January, a representative of the Archdiocese of Chicago announced that the beloved pastor of my church had been accused of sexual abusing a minor in 1979, while serving in a south suburban parish.” By Laura Washington, Chicago Sun Times

My priest was an accused abuser: the Catholic sex abuse story gets personal
“In the photograph, I am smiling brightly, and so are the two men I am standing next to. One is the future father of my children. The other is currently accused of sexual abuse involving ‘multiple’ victims(link is external): his name is Robert Chabak. That’s how he signed my marriage certificate. We called him Father Bob. I’ve wondered over the last several years, of course, about the priests of my youth. As revelation upon revelation of sexual abuse in the Catholic church has emerged, I asked myself if I had known any of the men involved, if the cash I’d faithfully tucked into my collection plate envelopes had gone toward settlements with victims.” By Mary Elizabeth Williams, Salon

Pennsylvania Attorney General Shapiro says clergy abuse shadows Catholics’ Notre Dame response
“Pennsylvania Attorney General Joshua Shapiro was impressed with the response of the Catholic Church and Catholics around the world when Notre Dame went up in flames last week in Paris. But he’s disappointed in what he sees as the church’s lackluster response to protecting clergy abuse victims(link is external). In an op-ed in the Washington Post, Shapiro took the church to task for spending millions to influence lawmakers to block his recommendation that they open a window of opportunity for abuse survivors with old claims to sue the church.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

CALIFORNIA

Victim shares story of clergy sexual abuse at Jesuit high school
“A man who says he was sexually abused by a Jesuit brother(link is external) his freshman year of Catholic School is speaking out. Kurt Hoffmann says he was assaulted by his swim coach Brother William Farrington. Now he’s sharing his story and hoping other victims feel inspired to do the same.” By Marissa Perlman, CBS-TV13 News

San Francisco among last Catholic dioceses in state to withhold names of accused clergy
“A lawsuit that would force the Archdiocese of San Francisco to release the names of clergy accused of sexual misconduct(link is external) was allowed to proceed last week. The Archdiocese of San Francisco is among 11 diocese across the state that, along with the California Catholic Conference (CCC), are named in the lawsuit that could force church officials to release the names of alleged abusers and provide documents on clerical offenders. The lawsuit alleges that these documents are kept in the dioceses possession, concealed from the public.” By Laura Waxmann, San Francisco Examiner

Man vows to proceed with California clergy abuse lawsuit
“A man who says he was molested by his parish priest(link is external) decades ago vows to proceed with a lawsuit targeting all Catholic bishops in California after a judge dismissed part of the suit. The so-called ‘nuisance’ lawsuit filed in October by Thomas Emens claims a civil conspiracy among church officials to cover up clergy assault and move offending priests to other parishes.” By Associated Press on SFGate.com

Credible sex abuse claims levied against three former Winters priests, one deacon, diocese says
“Three Catholic priests and one deacon who previously served at churches in Winters had credible claims of sexual abuse and other misconduct levied against them(link is external) across a span of several decades, according to a list published early Tuesday (Apr. 29) morning by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento. Those names were among nearly four dozen priests and other clergy members identified by church officials as having been ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors and young people in the Diocese of Sacramento,’ a statement released by church officials said on Tuesday.” By Matthew Keys, Winters Express

‘Necessary reckoning’ – Sacramento Catholic diocese to publish list of accused clergy, bishop says
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Sacramento will release a list this week naming priests and deacons determined to have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external), Bishop Jaime Soto said in a letter Sunday (Apr. 28). ‘The list will account for our history of sexual abuse over the last seven decades and is a necessary reckoning for our local Church,’ Soto wrote. ‘I am repulsed and heartbroken by the evil acts that were perpetrated upon the innocent by those entrusted with their care. When you read the list you will experience your own feelings of shock, anger and disgust. This undoubtedly will reopen wounds for some.’” By Michael McGough, The Sacramento Bee

Sexual misconduct allegation levied against Fresno Catholic Diocese priest
“A 59-year-old priest with the Diocese of Fresno is on leave after being accused of sexual misconduct in Firebaugh(link is external). Rev. Monsignor Craig Francis Harrison is being investigated after the allegation was made this month by an adult male, who was a minor when the alleged offense happened, according to a statement from the diocese.” By Yesenia Amaro, Sacramento Bee

GEORGIA

Statewide investigation launched into sex abuse allegations in Catholic Church
“Georgia has become the latest state to launch an investigation into past sexual abuse claims within the Catholic Church(link is external), Attorney General Chris Carr said Tuesday (Apr. 30). The repercussions could be widespread. In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report identified hundreds of priests accused of molesting at least 1,000 minors over the past seven decades in that state.” By Shelia M. Poole and Christian Boone, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ILLINOIS

Swansea Roman Catholic clergyman charged with sexual assault
“A clergyman with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Belleville was charged Friday (Apr. 26) with sexually assaulting an adult woman on March 1. Deacon Robert J. Lanter, 68, of Swansea, was charged with felony criminal sexual assault, and is accused of assaulting a 29-year-old woman who was unable to give consent(link is external).” By Erin Heffernan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

KENTUCKY

Allegations against Fr. Bradley turned over to Vatican
“When Mark Lyon heard that the allegations made against Father Bradley were substantiated(link is external), he broke down. He would have never dreamed that the man he has known and respected could ever be involved in something like this. ‘When all of these other allegations went on with the other priests, I would have said… Father Bradley? I would have bet everything that I have to say that this would never have happened,’ said Lyon. Lyon tells 14 News that he does not want to believe it’s true. But he is not sure what to believe.” By Joseph Payton, WFIE-TV14 News

MASSACHUSETTS

Former Massachusetts priest John Sweeney sexually abused teens, performed exorcisms on them, according to new allegation
“Nadine Tifft’s faith has been tested. The 37-year-old publicly accused a priest on Tuesday (May 7) of sexually molesting her as a teenager growing up in New England(link is external). ‘I’m still Catholic,’ she said, but adding, ‘It makes it hard to go to church.’ Two decades ago, Tifft and several friends attended leadership retreats organized through her church for young members. The retreats were held around New England, designed to connect Catholics throughout New England with leaders in the church.” By Michelle Williams, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Lawmakers: State must open courtrooms to priest-abuse survivors
“Two Grand Rapids state lawmakers said the timing could be right this year for legislation that would open courtroom doors for survivors of child sexual abuse(link is external) at the hands of Catholic priests and others. The so-called “window” legislation, which would temporarily eliminate the statute of limitations, could have a huge impact on the Catholic Church in the state.” By Ken Kolker, WOOD-TV8 News

For many abused by priests, no window for justice
“A Barry County man said he was looking for justice when he recently called Target 8, along with the church and the Michigan Attorney General, to report a Roman Catholic priest had molested him when he was 12(link is external). He thought his case was recent enough, just 20 years ago, that he could send his molester to jail or make him and the Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids pay by suing them. But while a growing number of states have passed laws allowing survivors in years-old cases to file civil lawsuits, there’s nothing he can legally do in Michigan.” By Ken Kolker, WOOD-TV8 News

Sentencing of ‘Father Bob’ follows year of scandal for Catholic Church and Saginaw Diocese
“A longtime Catholic Diocese of Saginaw priest who pleaded no contest to sex crimes faced sentencing on Thursday, April 25. The Rev. Robert J. ‘Father Bob’ DeLand in March pleaded no contest to second-degree criminal sexual conduct(link is external), gross indecency between two males, and manufacturing or distributing an imitation controlled substance. The most serious charge is second-degree criminal sexual conduct, a 15-year felony.” By Heather Jordan, MLive.com

MISSOURI

Missouri bishop urges broader approach to help survivors, parishes heal
“Missouri Bishop W. Shawn McKnight of Jefferson City came face to face with a victim of sexual abuse long before he was a bishop(link is external), when a friend in college confided in him about a rape. That experience, as a friend of a person who has suffered similar trauma, seems to have shaped his approach as a vocal bishop denouncing the clergy sex abuse scandal, even if, at 50, he’s one of the youngest and most junior members of the U.S. Catholic bishops.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

NEW JERSEY

Law firm says it will name 300 New Jersey priests accused of sex abuse, including those not named by the Church
“A New Jersey attorney says he has a list of more than 300 priests accused of sexual misconduct(link is external) in New Jersey — far more than the 188 priests the Catholic Church has said were ‘credibly accused’ in the state’s dioceses. Attorney Greg Gianforcaro said he will release the list Monday (May 6) at an afternoon press conference where he will announce that an unnamed victim of sexual abuse is filing a lawsuit against New Jersey’s five Catholic dioceses alleging they created a “public hazard” by not naming all accused priests.” By Kelly Heyboer, New Jersey Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK

Syracuse Catholic diocese pays $11 million to 79 sex abuse victims
“The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has paid nearly $11 million to settle claims with 79 sex abuse victims(link is external), according to a report released today. The Independent Reconciliation Compensation Program was administered by New York City lawyers Camille Biros and Kenneth Feinberg, who have handled victims’ funds after tragedies including 9/11 and the Boston Marathon bombing.” By Julie McMahon, Syracuse.com

Long Island diocese declines to release list of priests accused of sexually abusing children
“The Diocese of Rockville Centre will not release a list of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children(link is external) although it may do so in the future, church officials said Monday (Apr. 28). The decision is in contrast with those of the Archdiocese of New York and other dioceses around the country which have published such lists.” By Bart Jones, Newsday

New York archdiocese names 120 Catholic clergy members accused of sex abuse
“The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York on Friday (Apr. 26) identified 115 priests and five deacons who have been accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in what is one of the largest disclosures that has been made by the church. The list of clergy members joins a flood of names that have poured from dioceses and religious orders across the country in recent months as the church grapples with a scandal over its handling of abuse.” By Rick Rojas, The New York Times

PENNSYLVANIA

Erie’s Persico: ‘We really need to clean this up’
“In April 2018, Erie Catholic Bishop Lawrence Persico released the first version of the Catholic Diocese of Erie’s list of clergy and laypeople credibly accused of sexual abuse and other misconduct with minors. A year later, the list continues to grow(link is external) — it started with 51 names and is now at 81 — and so has the diocese’s financial exposure. As state lawmakers extended their debate about whether to adjust the statute of limitations to allow abuse victims to sue over old cases, Persico joined other dioceses statewide and created a compensation fund to pay claims to victims outside of court.” By Ed Palattella, GoErie.com

Trial for York-area defrocked priest accused of molesting two altar boys
“A 74-year-old defrocked Catholic priest who lives in West Manchester Township is now facing trial for allegedly sexually assaulting two altar boys(link is external) when he served at a Harrisburg church. John G. Allen, of the 1600 block of Kenneth Road, had his preliminary hearing at the office of Harrisburg-area District Judge Joseph Lindsey on Wednesday, April 24, according to court records.” By Liz Evans Scolforo, York Dispatch

Alleged predator priest accused of sexually abusing boys faces multiple counts in PA court
“Their stories are strikingly similar, recorded three months apart by a Dauphin County detective. They have names, but they’re known now as Victim 1 and Victim 2. Both men say John G. Allen sexually abused them(link is external) from 1997 to 2002 while they were altar boys at St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque Church in Harrisburg.” By Candy Woodhall, York Daily Chronicle

SOUTH CAROLINA

After list of SC Catholic priests accused of abuse, no simple path to healing
“For victims of abuse by Catholic priests in South Carolina, the past month has opened old wounds but also fostered new hope(link is external). Since the 1990s, reports have surfaced implicating priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston in the abuse of minors dating back to at least the 1950s— cases that for years were treated in isolation.” By Gergory Yee and Rickey Dennis, the Post and Courier

UTAH

Grand jury indicts former Conroe priest on child sex abuse charges
“A grand jury on Thursday (May 2) indicted a former Conroe priest on charges stemming from child sex abuse allegations(link is external), according to court records. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez was indicted on two of the four counts of indecency with a child that led to his Sept. 11 arrest, records show. The two charges stem from incidents alleged to have happened to a female parishioner on April 9, 2000, while the cleric was assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Montgomery County.” By Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle

WEST VIRGINIA

Catholic community needs Archbishop Lori to listen
“Almost a year before Michael Bransfield’s resignation as bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston (DWC), the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (CCA) wrote a letter to Pope Francis and other Vatican officials to express concerns about our diocese(link is external) and to share thoughts on the kind of bishop we would like to see follow Bransfield. Drawing from the Appalachian Catholic pastoral letters and the example of Pope Francis, both of which challenge people of faith to respond to the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth, our letter requested a bishop who …” By Michael Iafrate

ARGENTINA

Demand for trial against clergy accused of abusing kids
“International and Argentine activists on Monday (May 6) called on Pope Francis to ensure that his ‘zero tolerance’ pledge against sexual abuses by clergy is enforced in his homeland and demanded a trial for those accused of raping deaf and mute children at a Catholic school(link is external). Prosecutors say that members of the clergy abused at least 20 children at the Provolo Institute in Mendoza province. The case has caused a worldwide uproar and more than a dozen people face charges.” By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press, on Madison.com

AUSTRALIA

Expert panel to conduct Church governance review
“A panel of experts has been convened to conduct a national review of the governance and management structures of Catholic dioceses and parishes. This will include issues of transparency, accountability, consultation and lay participation(link is external). The review was a recommendation of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse after the commission concluded that the governance and management of some dioceses and parishes contributed to the child sexual abuse crisis.” By CathNews.com

CHILE

Abuse survivors in Chile blast deal between Church and prosecutor
“A recently signed agreement between the Catholic Church in Chile and the local prosecutor’s office has caused uproar, with critics charging that it unduly provides protections and privileges to the Church(link is external). The agreement was signed on Tuesday (Apr. 30) by the national prosecutor, Jorge Abbott, and the secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference, Bishop Fernando Ramos, who’s one of ten bishops called to testify facing allegations of having covered up cases of abuse.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Chilean bishops fear new measure would enforce breaking confession seal
“Chilean bishops said that while they support legislation requiring priests and religious authorities to report crimes, they also fear that an update to the country’s current law would force clergy to break the sacramental seal of confession(link is external). The 155-member Chilean House of Representatives unanimously approved a measure April 23 that would add clergy and religious men and women to the list of police, members of the armed forces, teachers and civil servants who are obliged to report all crimes under article 175 of Chile’s penal code.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Child sexual abuse inquiry to be held into religious organizations
“Child sexual abuse in a wide range of religious organizations and settings, including Jehovah’s Witnesses and Buddhists, is to be scrutinized in an official inquiry. The investigation by the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse (IICSA)(link is external) will review child protection and policies in organizations belonging to nonconformist Christian denominations, Baptists, Methodists, Islam, Judaism, Sikhism and Hinduism.” By Harriet Sherwood, The Guardian

GUAM

Guam priests’ child sexual abuses would have remained a dark secret were it not for one man
“Back when no one dared to publicly accuse any Guam priest, much less the archbishop, of sexually abusing a child(link is external), former Agat resident John Toves did so in 2014. It was about 12 years after the Archdiocese of Boston’s sex abuse scandal exposed widespread wrongdoing in the American Roman Catholic Church. ‘My aunt referred to my brother as the David who slew Goliath,’ Noreen Toves-Phillips, of California, said about her brother John.’” By Haidee Eugenio, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

In India, charges against a Catholic bishop a victory for abused nuns
“In the dirt courtyard of St. Teresa’s Women’s College, in this port city in the southern Indian state of Kerala, a group of nuns cast curious glances toward a knot of chatty first-year students huddled together. The young women are mindful not to speak too loud, lest the sisters overhear the topic of their conversation — the alleged rape of a nun by the bishop who oversees a local religious order(link is external). Bishop Franco Mulakkal, a native of Kerala, an enclave of Christians in predominantly Hindu India, is accused of attacking the nun nine times between 2014 and 2016.” By Brooke Thames, Religion News Service

ITALY

Sicilian priest wages decade-long crusade against ‘pedophilia pride’
“Incredibly enough, on April 25th, self-professed pedophiles online celebrate ‘Alice Day’ to promote the normalization of the sexual abuse of minors. For the past 23 years, a priest from a small southern Italian diocese has launched a global initiative on the same day to raise awareness for the protection of minors(link is external). ‘The strength of an initiative is given by its continuity,’ said Father Fortunato Di Noto, founder of Meter Onlus dedicated to protecting children from abuse.” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

SPAIN

Former Catholic school teacher gets 21 years in jail for sex abuse in Spain
“A Barcelona court sentenced Monday (A[pr. 29) a former gym teacher at a Catholic school to over 20 years in jail for sexually assaulting students(link is external), in the latest abuse scandal rocking the church in Spain. Joaquin Benitez, who taught for nearly three decades at a Barcelona school run by the Marist community, a Roman Catholic order at the centre of a clerical abuse scandal in Chile, got a jail term of 21 years and nine months for assaulting four students.” By Agence France-Press on NewIndianExpress.com

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Francis mandates clergy abuse reporting worldwide, empowers archbishops to do investigations / National Catholic Reporter

Under the scope of the new laws, such disclosure (of abuse or coverup) could be rather wide-ranging, even retroactively. Article six of the apostolic letter makes clear that anyone who is serving or has served as a bishop can be investigated for acts committed during the time of their ministry. (National Catholic Reporter)

Pope Francis issued sweeping new laws for the Catholic Church on the investigation of clergy sexual abuse May 9, mandating for the first time that all priests and members of religious orders worldwide are obligated to report any suspicions of abuse or its cover-up.

“The pontiff has also established a new global system for the evaluation of reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops, which foresees the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates in their local regions with the help of Vatican authorities.

“The new norms, contained in a brief apostolic letter titled Vos estis lux mundi (‘You are the light of the world’), are exhaustive in scope, applying in some way to every ordained or vowed member of the 1.3 billion-person church. They also encourage lay people to make reports of abuse, and provide for involvement of lay experts in investigations.

“In his introduction to the document, which goes into effect June 1, Francis says he has created the new laws so the church will ‘continue to learn from the bitter lessons of the past, looking with hope towards the future.'”

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

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