Reform or dismantle? Why we need to keep the institutions that keep us / Commonweal

The division of Catholicism into various brands—liberal, progressive, conservative, traditionalist—fosters a spirit of zero-sum competition rather than communion. (Commonweal)

One of the effects of the sex-abuse crisis is the current moment of institutional iconoclasm—the temptation to get rid of the institutional element of the Catholic Church. The failures of the church’s institutions are now on full display, even more so than after the revelations of the Spotlight investigation. It is hypocritical, however, to interpret the abuse crisis as a clerical abuse crisis rather than a Catholic abuse crisis. Obviously, the clergy had a unique role in the crisis, but the moral and legal responsibilities do not belong exclusively to those wearing a Roman collar. We are still reluctant to acknowledge the systemic nature of this crisis as something that affected the entire Catholic world and not just its ordained ministers. We would like to contain it neatly within the hierarchy so as to exempt ourselves from the burden of critical self-reflection.

“American Catholicism has not yet found its way out of the blame game for the abuse crisis. One sees this on both sides of the ideological spectrum. Recent attempts to use the crisis as a pretext for abolishing the priesthood are just a liberal version of conservative attempts to blame sexual abuse on gays or the sixties. All such strategies spare lay Catholics the bother of having to ask ‘What did do wrong?’ The abuse itself damaged the lives of the victims and their families, friends, and communities. Now, the shortcomings of our response to the abuse crisis—our failure to deal with its root causes—is causing another kind of damage. When prominent scholars of Catholicism publicly display their ‘disgust’ for Catholicism, it is clear that the abuse crisis has blurred the line between an ecclesially engaged Catholic theology and the more dispassionate, agnostic religious studies of Catholicism. The abuse crisis has produced two kinds of counter-evangelization:

  • first, the counter-evangelization of the hierarchical church, whose example scandalizes the faithful and repels outsiders;
  • second, the counter-evangelization of those who have used this crisis to self-righteously declare their liberation from what they describe as a morally corrupt institution.

There is a prefabricated quality to at least some of these declarations. They seem less like honest reckonings with new information than shrewdly timed expressions of old resentments. There will always be an appreciative audience for “Why I Left” pieces.”

By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


July 17, 2019

TOP STORIES

Why the ‘Metropolitan Plan’ doesn’t work
“The now-glaring weakness of the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was that it made no provision for dealing with bishops who engage in sexual misconduct. In the wake of the scandal surrounding Theodore McCarrick, who had escaped the consequences of his abuses for decades, the American bishops realized this gap had to be closed … As if by an act of divine providence, however, the first trial run of a metropolitan-centered strategy to contain abusive bishops has provided a spectacular public demonstration of how this plan can fail(link is external).” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

‘Maverick’ Catholic nun banned from speaking to Australian church over progressive views
“Sister Joan Chittester, a powerful voice for female empowerment within the Catholic church, claimed her invitation to speak at a conference in Melbourne next year has been withdrawn(link is external). Sister Joan Chittester has advocated on behalf of peace, human rights, women’s issues, and the renewal of the Catholic Church for over 40 years. Chittester was set to visit Australia to speak at The National Catholic Education Conference next year, but claims she was recently told the invite had been rescinded.” By Simone Amelia Jordan, 10daily.com

Before I take on clericalism, I will say: ‘I love being a priest’
“James Carroll argues in a recent issue of The Atlantic that the priesthood needs to be abolished before the church can be reformed. Garry Wills, in his 2013 book Why Priests?, says that priests are a self-perpetuating clique and a medieval power grab, contrary to the equality of all believers … I wouldn’t go that far. But after nearly four decades as first a seminarian and then a priest, I do think the priesthood needs reform — fundamental reform(link is external). We don’t need window dressing. We don’t need just some changes in policy and procedure. We need to change the whole culture of the priesthood and episcopacy. If we don’t, we will continue to decline and ultimately collapse in our own irrelevance and scandal.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter

Purging silence: Vatican expands abuse prevention to lay movements
“Millions of Catholics live their faith through their association with lay movements and Catholic groups, but some also have lost their faith when they were sexually abused in those groups and felt they had nowhere to turn(link is external). While much of the Church’s recent focus has been on clerical sexual abuse and the accountability of diocesan bishops, the Vatican is making child protection a priority for new movements and lay associations, too.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Altoona-Johnstown Diocese appeals court ruling
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona–Johnstown has challenged the ruling in a case that – if upheld – could significantly expand the ability of alleged childhood victims of clergy sexual abuse to file civil claims against the church(link is external). In December 2017, Blair County Judge Jolene Kopriva dismissed a case brought by Renée Rice against the diocese, then-retired (now deceased) Bishop Joseph Adamec, the estate of deceased Bishop James Hogan and the Rev. Charles Bodziak because the abuse she alleged Bodziak committed, from 1975 or 1976 through 1981 when they were both at St. Leo’s Church in Altoona, was past the commonwealth’s statute of limitations.” By Dave Sutor, The Tribune-Democrat

New York Archdiocese sues 32 insurance companies for breach of contract in sex abuse cases
“The New York Archdiocese has filed a lawsuit against 32 of its insurers for not paying claims of abuse victims(link is external). The archdiocese—which covers New York, Bronx, and Richmond counties along Westchester, Rockland and other Hudson Valley counties—filed suit in New York Supreme Court on behalf of other religious organizations, schools, hospitals and other institutions which might be impacted by the case.” By Frank Esposito, Rockland/Winchester Journal News

Can laypeople lead a parish? Look to Louisville for a thriving example
“In his recent book Worship as Community Drama, sociologist Pierre Hegy described an unusual Catholic parish(link is external) whose identity he hid under the name Church of the Resurrection. When the book was published earlier this year and we read the chapter titled ‘A Lay-Run Parish: Consensus Without a Central Authority,’ we could tell that it was about us. I asked Hegy about possibly revealing the facts behind the chapter. He replied that sociological protocols had to be followed in the book, but these would not apply to an article in a newspaper. OK, here goes.” By Joseph Martos, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Vatican waives immunity for France envoy accused of sexual assault
“The Vatican has waived immunity for its envoy to France(link is external), who is under investigation for sexual assault, according to the Bishops’ Conference of France. Archbishop Luigi Ventura, 74, is alleged to have inappropriately touched a junior male official working at the Paris city hall, deputy mayor Patrick Klugman told CNN earlier this year.” By Barbara Wojazer and Valentina DiDonato, CNN

Significant progress in ensuring bishop accountability
“From June 10-14, during the 2019 U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Spring General Assembly, my brother bishops and I gathered with a singular focus: governance(link is external). With recent crises and failures involving then-Cardinal McCarrick and the poor handling by some bishops of credible allegations of sexual abuse, our obligation to develop a better system to initiate investigations against bishops was clear. Therefore, the majority of the week was devoted to this issue and much was achieved.” By Bishop Michael F. Burbidge in The Arlington Catholic Herald

Call 911, not the church
“Catholic bishops came out last week (Jun. 21) with their plan to deal with bishops who commit or cover up sexual abuse. Their idea is that they will watch each other, and it is wholly insufficient(link is external). It’s startling that this needs to be said, but allegations of criminal sexual abuse should be referred directly to the police — investigators who are trained to get to the bottom of such issues. It doesn’t matter if the allegations are against priests, bishops, ministers, teachers, Scout leaders or Uncle Pete: Go to the police. That the bishops either don’t get that or don’t want it can only promote the kind of arrogant insularity that led to this crisis in the first place.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Report of sexual abuse by late bishop filed with Hampden County DA
“Christopher J. Weldon, a longtime Catholic bishop for the Springfield Diocese, now stands formally accused of sexually abusing an altar boy(link is external). Three weeks after denying that it had received a credible accusation against Weldon of molestation, the diocese Thursday (Jun. 20) filed an initial report of a claim of such abuse with the Hampden County District Attorney’s Office.” By Larry Parnass, The Bershire Eagle

By holding themselves accountable, bishops close the gap
“The U.S. bishops’ newly approved plan establishing procedures to report complaints of clergy sexual abuse and to hold its leaders accountable(link is external) is an important step in the ongoing struggle to move beyond the crisis. We pray that it works as hoped, and that the Church will in time fully recover the dedication and trust of the faithful.” Editorial by Catholic New York

BISHOPS

Auxiliary bishop latest to be hit with sex abuse allegation in archdiocese
“The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has temporarily stepped aside from public priestly duties after being hit with what the archdiocese has termed a ‘false allegation’ of sexual abuse from 1971(link is external). Several chancery departments and at least one pastor received letters addressed to Bishop George Sheltz, containing an accusation of molestation, archdiocesan officials said in a statement dated Friday (Jun.21).” By Samantha Ketterer and Nicole Hensley, Houston Chronicle

Australians begin ‘ad limina’ visits acknowledging impact of crisis
“The president of the Australian bishops’ conference told his fellow bishops that it is ‘a time of humiliation’ for Catholic Church leaders, but he is convinced that God is still at work(link is external). As church leaders continue to face the reality of the clerical sexual abuse crisis and attempts to cover it up, ‘we as bishops have to discover anew how small we are and yet how grand is the design into which we have been drawn by the call of God and his commissioning beyond our betrayals,’ said Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, conference president.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

In interview, Archbishop Gregory reflects on recent actions taken by U.S. bishops to address the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church
“In a June 21 interview with the Catholic Standard newspaper, Washington Archbishop Wilton Gregory offered insights on the actions taken by the U.S. bishops at their June 11-13 meeting in Baltimore(link is external) to address the abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. In 2002, the nation’s bishops at their meeting in Dallas adopted the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People’ when then-Bishop Gregory of Belleville, Illinois, was serving at the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The following is the text of Archbishop Gregory’s interview with Mark Zimmermann, the Catholic Standard’s editor.” By Mark Zimmerman, Catholic Standard

PRIESTS

What would married priests in the Amazon mean for the church, etc.?
This week on Inside the Vatican(link is external), Gerry and I talk about the U.S. bishops’ new resolutions on sexual abuse. How does the U.S.C.C.B. compare to other bishops’ conferences around the world? Then, we take a look at a new document prepared for the synod on the Amazon region, which officially introduces the possibility of ordaining married men. What are its implications for the rest of the church? And what other topics addressed in the document should we be paying attention to?” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Being church: We can do this
“As Jamie Manson wrote in 2012, women religious ‘have created among themselves a form of church that so many restless Catholics long for(link is external): small, supportive, non-hierarchical, intimate communities that are deeply rooted in tradition, devoted to sacramental life, and grounded in outreach to the poor and marginalized.’” By Betsy D. Thompson, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN DEACONS

Debate on female deacons not just about history; it’s about art
“A small group of activists and academics embarked on a mission this week to dig deep into early Christian art, in search of answers on the original role of women in the Catholic Church(link is external), only two months after Pope Francis called for further study and historical data concerning the ordination of female deacons. ‘Ancient Christian art proves that women took on a much greater role in the ministries and the liturgy than originally thought,’ said Ally Kateusz, Research Associate at the Wijngaards Institute for Catholic Research, during her presentation at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome July 2.” By Claire Giangravè, Cruxnow.com

UISG president says group is considering publishing women deacons report
“Pope Francis in May formally handed over the secret report of his commission to study the history of women deacons in the Catholic Church to the global umbrella group of the world’s women religious, which had originally requested the commission’s creation in 2016. Now, the new leader of that umbrella group, which represents some 450,000 sisters and nuns around the world, says it will be considering soon whether to make the report public(link is external).” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Pope names women as full members of congregation for religious
“Pope Francis named six superiors of women’s religious orders, a consecrated laywoman and the superior of the De La Salle Christian Brothers to be full members of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life(link is external). Previously, the members had all been men: cardinals, a few bishops and several priests who were superiors of large religious orders of men.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot

LAITY& THE CHURCH

Local Catholics feel they have the power to act within the church
“The Tennessean recently featured the voices of Catholics, both from around the country and particularly in Middle Tennessee(link is external), expressing their disappointment and disillusionment with their church (‘Please give me a reason to be Catholic’). At the same time, we were posing the question ‘Can the Church Survive?’ to some 25 members of Christ the King parish’s adult education community here. We asked three specific questions …” By Bob O’Gorman and Paul Dokecki, Tennessean

VATICAN

New Vatican doc displays simplified, decentralized curia
“A preliminary outline of Pope Francis’s coming apostolic constitution on the Roman Curia reveals the merger of several more departments and an increased emphasis on the presence of laity(link is external) as part of a reform hinged on decentralization and synodality and fueled by evangelization. Tentatively titled Praedicate Evangelium, a draft of the constitution has been sent to the heads of all Vatican departments, bishops’ conferences, nuncios and certain law institutes, whose comments are being studied before the document’s publication.” By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

Vatican abuse investigator: ‘You never get used to it, you feel your heart and soul hurting’
“In a remarkably frank and detailed speech, the Vatican official heading the department charged with reviewing clergy sexual abuse allegations(link is external) told an assembly of Catholic journalists that his investigators and the press ‘share the same goal, which is the protection of minors, and we have the same wish to leave the world a little better than how we found it.’” By Greg Erlandson, Catholic News Service

Vatican sex abuse office looking for more canonists
“The Vatican office that handles clergy sex abuse is looking for help to process what a top official says is a steady stream of cases that arrive every day from around the world(link is external). Monsignor John Kennedy, head of the discipline section of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, told a conference of Catholic journalists this week that while his staff has more than tripled to 17 full-time experts in the past 15 years, he still borrows four others occasionally and is looking for more.” By Associated Press

CLERICALISM

The problem of clericalism makes transparency impossible
“I think we owe a debt of gratitude to former West Virginia bishop Michael Bransfield, pilloried by The Washington Post for his reportedly lavish and lascivious ways. The Post wrote from an unredacted report written by lay investigators. Bransfield’s creative accounting let us see exactly who benefited from his largess. His history of unchecked behavior demonstrates who knew what and when. Most importantly, his objectively sad story sheds light on ingrained episcopal practices around the world(link is external). Plus, it saves us the trouble of reading medieval history.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

U.S. bishops at odds over Amazon synod’s married priest proposal
“While the upcoming Vatican meeting of bishops from the Amazon is focused on pastoral needs for that particular region, two U.S. bishops have weighed in on one of its central proposals – offering starkly different takes(link is external). Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas and Bishop Richard Stika of Knoxville, Tennessee have taken to Twitter in recent days to comment on the Pan-Amazonian Synod’s working document, which raises the option of ordaining married men in order to provide greater access to the sacraments, particularly in the remote areas of the region.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Some Oswego Catholics upset with church selected for merger
“Starting July 1, Catholics in Oswego will merge their four churches into one because of the dwindling number of worshipers and limited resources in the community(link is external). Although many parishioners understand the need for the consolidation, several are unhappy with where the new faith community will celebrate mass. The Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has decided to move forward with St. Paul’s Church as the home of the newly named Christ the Good Shepherd Parish.” By Payne Horning, WRVO-FM National Public Radio

New generation emerges at CTSA convention, as theologians play long game
“It’s rare that a paper at an academic conference is received like a hit song at a rock concert. But such was the case at the Friday (Jun. 7) morning plenary session at the Catholic Theological Society of America’s annual convention, held June 6-9 in Pittsburgh. In a paper titled ‘Another Pro-Life Movement is Possible: Untangling Patriarchy and the Pro-Life Movement,’ accompanied by a 40-slide PowerPoint presentation, theologian Emily Reimer-Barry argued that the pro-life movement the millennial generation has inherited is ‘deeply flawed, and Catholics need to rethink our support for it(link is external).’ Reimer-Barry is an associate professor from the University of San Diego.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Another voice: Laity can play key role in repairing Catholic Church
“Catholics are members of a global church with more than a billion adherents, of whom nearly 70% live in South America, Africa and Asia. Though members of a large global church, it is in local parishes that church members worship, learn, grow, form relationships and act out their faith. This is clearly a situation where we need to ‘Think globally, act locally(link is external).’ The clerical abuse crisis has dramatically impacted the Catholic Church at all levels. And it is not yet resolved. In a recent Pew Research Center survey, 81% of U.S. Catholics indicated they believe that this is an ongoing problem.” By Robert Poczik, The Buffalo News

Priests and bishops need more range
“Earlier this year the journalist David Epstein published his second book, titled Range: Why Generalists Triumph in a Specialized World. The book is an engaging response to earlier bestsellers that have emphasized specialization, concentration and repetition as the universal path to success … As true as this is elsewhere in society, it is also true in the field of ministry(link is external). In light of Epstein’s book and as a professor who teaches religious order and lay graduate students for ministry in the Catholic Church, I found myself thinking about what lessons might be gleaned from the argument presented in Range for the church today.” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

Why Catholic bishops need a year of abstinence on preaching about sexuality
“ If Catholic bishops hope to reclaim their moral credibility after revelations about covering up clergy sexual abuse(link is external), the hierarchy might start by sending a simple but potent message: Church leaders should take a year of abstinence from preaching about sex and gender. It might seem obvious that a church facing a crisis of legitimacy caused by clergy raping children would show more humility when claiming to hold ultimate truths about human sexuality …There is an unmistakable hubris displayed when some in the church are determined to make sexuality the lynchpin of Catholic identity at a time when bishops have failed to convince their flock that they are prepared to police predators in their own parishes.” By John Gehring, Religion News Service

Our opinion: For future’s sake, Church must confront past
“The acknowledgment by the Springfield Diocese that former Catholic Bishop Christopher J. Weldon has been credibly accused of sexually abusing an altar boy(link is external) is welcome, yet overdue. As is too often the case with dioceses across the nation, Springfield had to be pushed into doing what it should have done at the first opportunity.” By The Bershire Eagle Editorial Board

CHURCH FINANCES

Allentown Diocese cuts office staff by nearly 25% to pay for sex abuse victims
“The Allentown Diocese has cut its office staff by nearly a quarter and enacted a pay freeze to help compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external), officials announced Monday (Jul. 8). The cuts, effective last Friday (Jul. 5), were centered in the diocesan’s administrative office, where 96 people worked prior to the reductions, according to a news release from diocese spokesman Matt Kerr. Most of the cuts were made through attrition, and a voluntary retirement program was offered, according to the diocese.” By Emiy Opilo, The Morning Call

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

The biggest deterrent to reporting child sexual abuse
“In the United States, about one-third of child-sexual-abuse victims come forward with their allegations before adulthood. Another third disclose far later in life—the median age is 52—and the rest never reveal their past trauma at all. In recent years, many children’s advocates have looked to shift these low reporting numbers (and correspondingly low rates of prosecution) by addressing a legal hurdle that lies in the way of many victims seeking court-based justice: the statute of limitations(link is external).” By Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic

Sex abuse lawsuit deadlines extended by North Carolina House”
“North Carolina House members have backed overwhelmingly a longer period of time for victims of child sexual abuse to sue perpetrators for damages as adults(link is external). The measure now heading to the Senate following Wednesday’s (Jun. 19) vote of 104-10 extends the statute of limitations for a victim from 21 years of age to 38. The bill also would give older adults outside the proposed age cap a two-year window to file lawsuits.” By WSOC-TV9 News

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

U.K. church officials ‘deliberately misled’ U.S. archdiocese
“An English church official ‘deliberately misled’ a U.S. archdiocese into harboring a pedophile priest and helping him to escape justice for a quarter of a century(link is external), said a report from a child abuse inquiry. The Archdiocese of Los Angeles was persuaded to shelter Fr. James Robinson, who during the 1970s and 1980s had raped several boys, after officials gave false information about his sexual history. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse concluded in a report published June 21 that the deception meant that Robinson ‘was able to remain in America and avoid prosecution for nearly 25 years.’” By Simon Caldwell, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

ARIZONA

Group releases names of 109 clerics accused of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Phoenix
“The names of more than 100 clerics accused of abuse in the Diocese of Phoenix(link is external)were released Wednesday (Jun. 26). A group of lawyers, victims, and advocates held a joint press conference in downtown Phoenix to share the report in hopes of ‘bringing out of the dark’ information that they claim has not been thoroughly provided by the Catholic diocese.” By Karla Navarrete, Associated Press, on ABC-TV15 News

ARKANSAS

Five priest abuse victims settle with Catholic Diocese for $790,000
“KARK/FOX 16 broke the news last night (Jun. 27) of a $790,000 settlement by the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock with five victims of priest abuse(link is external) in the 1970s. The men, some of whom were quoted in KARK’s report, said they’d been abused by Father John McDaniel, who died in 1974, at Our Lady of the Holy Souls Catholic Church in Little Rock.” By Max Brantley, Arkansas Times

CALIFORNIA

Sex offender, former Catholic priest reportedly presided over Masses in Fillmore
“A former Catholic priest removed from ministry and convicted of molestation was reportedly presiding at home Masses(link is external) in Fillmore, according to a May 30 alert from the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. The notice from the archdiocese’s Vicar for Clergy Office to priests, deacons and parish life directors warns that Carlos Rene Rodriguez has no permission to act as a Roman Catholic priest.” By Tom Kisken, Ventura County Star

CONNECTICUT

‘The priest wielded God as a tool to do what he did to me’
“The anger has hardly subsided. Nearly 10 years ago, a wooden board ticked off John ‘Timothy’ McGuire – an object entirely too big to take the brunt of his resentment. He tried to throw it, and broke his back. ‘The anger that we harbor(link is external),’ said McGuire, looking out through his front window at St. Mary of the Sea Church in New London. ‘The level of anger …we get angry at things that aren’t big enough to get angry about.’” By Anna Maria Della Costa, Norwich Bulletin

FLORIDA

Florida Catholic church sex abuse investigation shrouded in secrecy
“Roman Catholic Bishops were in Baltimore on Tuesday (Jun. 18) to confront the reignited sex abuse crisis. They’re looking at increasing their accountability when it comes to sex abuse cases(link is external). Several Attorneys General, including Florida’s, launched state investigations after a Pennsylvania Grand Jury report in August detailed hundreds of cases of alleged abuse. More than half of all the dioceses around the country have released lists with the names of Catholic clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children.” By NBC-TV2 News

ILLINOIS

Archdiocese releases review of abuse-prevention policies
“A review of the Archdiocese of Chicago’s policies and procedures on the prevention of sexual abuse of minors(link is external), the way the archdiocese reports and investigates allegations and how it supports victims showed many strengths, as well some areas that could be improved. Monica Applewhite, an internationally recognized expert on sexual abuse and the development of policies and procedures to deal with it, was hired last year to evaluate what the archdiocese has done and could do better.” By Michelle Martin, Chicago Catholic

KENTUCKY

Priest resigns from Louisville church after being accused of ‘inappropriate’ photos
“A priest at a Catholic church in the Highlands resigned after he was accused of taking ‘inappropriate’ photos of students(link is external) during a field day at the end of the school year. The Rev. Jeff Gatlin, pastor at St. Francis of Assisi, 1960 Bardstown Road, was accused of ‘inappropriate picture taking’ of students during a May 13 field day celebrating the end of the parish school year, according to emails sent by church and Archdiocese of Louisville officials that were obtained by the Courier Journal.” By Billy Kobin, Louisville Courier Journal

LOUISIANA

Baton Rouge Diocese adds two more names to list of clergy accused of abuse
“The Diocese of Baton Rouge on Sunday Jul. 7) released two more additions to its list of Catholic clerics who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external), bringing the total now to 43. Baton Rouge Bishop Michael Duca released the initial list in January, which included 37 names but has since been supplemented multiple times. Duca said from the beginning that it would evolve as other diocese release their own lists amid a nationwide push for transparency from church leaders.” By Lea Skene, The Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Bishop Christopher Weldon’s legacy under cloud as district attorney receives sexual abuse claim from Springfield Diocese
“The 27-year legacy of Bishop Christopher J. Weldon is a visible one and continues to impact many in Western Massachusetts … A possible darker side to his legacy(link is external)emerged with greater visibility Thursday (Jun. 20) after Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski met with an alleged victim of clergy sexual abuse, heard his accusations against Weldon and two priests decades ago, and filed an initial report with Hampden District Attorney Anthony D. Gulluni.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Archdiocese removes prominent Detroit priest from pulpit
“A conservative Detroit priest renowned for his orchestral Masses and traditional Latin services has been removed from public ministry after the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit reviewed what it described as a ‘credible allegation’ that he had abused a child(link is external) decades ago. The announcement, made during services Sunday at the Rev. Eduard Perrone’s church, shocked parishioners and came a month after The Associated Press began asking the pastor himself, the archdiocese and law enforcement authorities about a former altar boy’s allegations that Perrone groped him.” By Mike Householder and Martha Mendoza, Associated Press

Metro Detroit priest being investigated for sexual abuse of minor
“A metro Detroit priest is being investigated for sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) and has been restricted from all public ministry pending the outcome of the canonical process. The Archdiocese of Detroit said they recently received an allegation against Father Joseph (Jack) Baker, 57, involving sexual abuse of a minor. The allegation dates back to the early years of his ministry. He is currently a pastor at St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford.” By WXYZ-TV7 News

MINNESOTA

Diocese of New Elm reaches $34 million settlement over clergy abuse claims
“The Catholic Diocese of New Ulm and area parishes have reached a tentative $34 million settlement with 93 people who said they were sexually abused as children by clergy(link is external) and others in the diocese. ‘We won,’ said Bob Schwiderski, a survivor of clergy abuse who filed a civil suit against the New Ulm diocese in 1992 that eventually unleashed hundreds of similar claims throughout Minnesota.” By Mary Lynn Smith and Paul Walsh, Star Tribune

NEW MEXICO

Nearly 400 claims of clergy sex abuse filed against Archdiocese of Santa FE
“It was announced Friday, June 21, that almost 400 people have filed claims of clergy sexual abuse against New Mexico’s largest Roman Catholic diocese(link is external). In coming months, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe will negotiate reparations. The actual number of people harmed by priest abuse in New Mexico is likely much bigger than 400, Albuquerque attorney Levi Monagle said. His firm, Hall & Monagle, represents about one-third of those claimants.” By Hannah Colton, KUNM-FM National Public Radio

NEW YORK

Cardinal Dolan refuses to remove priest accused of sexually abusing eight children
“For the second time in six month’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, refuses to remove a priest accused of sexual abuse(link is external). The latest incident involves Monsignor John Paddack, stationed at Church of Notre Dame on W. 114th St. in Manhattan. The priest has been accused of sexual abuse by eight different individuals and the Archdiocese, and specifically Cardinal Dolan, has known about the allegations since 2012 but has stubbornly refused to take action.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

Parents outraged after Buffalo Diocese assigns two ‘improper’ priests to parishes with schools
“Parents are outraged that two priests who had ‘improper’ sexual contact with parishioners(link is external) will soon be sent by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo to parishes with elementary schools. The Revs. Joseph C. Gatto and Samuel T. Giangreco Jr. were suspended last year after adult parishioners came forward to allege unwanted sexual advances by the priests.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Embattled Bishop Malone to hold ‘listening session’ Saturday in Olean
“Following months of criticism, Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone will be in Olean this weekend (Jun. 29) to listen to parishioners’ concerns about the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo’s clergy sexual abuse crisis(link is external) … It will be the fourth of seven listening sessions held throughout Western New York over the next two months. The events are a byproduct of Malone’s discussions with The Movement to Restore Trust, an initiative of lay people led by Canisius College President John J. Hurley.” By Tom Dinki, Olean Times Herald

Priest accused yet again—two men say he raped them in Brooklyn grade school
“Two men have accused a priest, who is now dead, of raping them in the rectory at their Brooklyn parish in the 1980s(link is external), the Daily News has learned. The allegations were laid out Friday (Jun. 21) in an order to show cause filed by their lawyer, Keith Sullivan, in Brooklyn State Supreme Court, which names the Diocese of Brooklyn and the Church of St. Patrick. They have accused the Rev. John Abrams of raping them when they were students and altar boys at St. Patrick Catholic elementary school in Bay Ridge.” By Rocco Parascandola, New York Daily News

Catholic Diocese of Buffalo abuse victim alleges cover-up
“James Bottlinger said he was prepared to take his secret to the grave. But watching others speak out about the Catholic Church’s handling of its child sexual abuse scandal gave him his ‘voice(link is external).’ Bottlinger rejected what is reportedly the largest compensation settlement ever offered by the Diocese of Buffalo, $650,000, because he says he wants answers instead regarding why church leaders repeatedly exposed children to a priest that they knew was a pedophile.” By Rick Pfeiffer, Niagara Gazette

NORTH DAKOTA

‘It was her fault’ attorneys claim Fargo Diocese blamed alleged sexual assault survivor
“Attorneys for an alleged sexual assault survivor say the Fargo Diocese told them ‘it was her fault’ after coming forward(link is external). The law firms of Bradshaw and Bryant and O’Keeffe O’Brien Lyson Foss will hold a press conference Thursday, July 11 in Fargo. They claim Father Michael Wright abused someone at St. Ann’s Catholic Church in Belcourt, North Dakota.” By Austin Erickson, KVRR-TV News

Fargo woman details abuse claim against retired priest under investigation
“A woman who claims that she was sexually abused by a Fargo Catholic priest(link is external)decades ago says she hopes her story will encourage other victims to step forward. The woman, who wants to be called ‘Jane,’ was a teenager in the 1970’s when she says the abuse happened in the rectory at St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church. In an interview with KFGO News, ‘Jane’ says over the course of about three months, she was inappropriately touched by Fr. Jack Herron.” By KFGO-FM News

OHIO

Catholic Diocese of Cleveland adds 22 names to list of clergy accused of sexual abuse
“The Dioceses of Cleveland released an updated list Friday (Jun. 21) afternoon comprised of individuals against whom there are substantiated claims of sexual abuse of a child(link is external). According to Cleveland church officials, the named persons on the list have been placed there based on available evidence ‘that the allegations were more likely than not to be true.’” By Drew Scofield, ABC-TV5 News

OKLAHOMA

Oklahoma priest suspended following sexual misconduct claim
“The Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma has announced that a Roman Catholic priest was placed on administrative leave following an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a minor(link is external). The diocese said in a statement Friday (Jul. 5) that the Rev. Joe Townsend is cooperating with a diocesan investigation and denies any misconduct.” By Associated Press on KOCO-TV5 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Pittsburgh Catholic diocese places deacon on leave over allegation
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has confirmed it placed a deacon on leave pending an investigation into ‘an allegation of inappropriate conduct with a minor(link is external).’ The deacon, John C. Miller, of St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Ross, was placed on leave in 2018, according to the Rev. Nicholas Vaskov, diocesan spokesman. Deacon Miller was accused of an unwanted kiss to a minor girl, the ‘first such allegation ever made against him.’” By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Landmark Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruling may help other older clergy abuse lawsuits proceed
“A recent decision by the Pennsylvania State Superior Court may soon open the door for previously time-barred Catholic Church clergy sexual abuse lawsuits to proceed(link is external). On June 11, 2019, a three-judge panel agreed to reinstate a lawsuit filed by a plaintiff who claims she was sexually abused by clergy in the 1970s and 1980s. She filed the lawsuit in 2016, but it was dismissed by the trial court because the statute of limitations had expired.” By Eric T. Chaffin, The Legal Examiner

TEXAS

Former El Paso Catholic priest’s sexual assault trial begins
“Former El Paso priest Miguel Luna, who is accused of sexually assaulting an underage girl(link is external) decades ago, was in court Tuesday morning for the start of his trial. ‘A wolf in sheep clothing’ is how prosecutors described the former El Paso priest Miguel Luna. The state went on to say that he used his position of trust to sexually assault the victim back in the 1990s.” By Justin Kree, CBS-TV4 News

Five Franciscans who once served at San Xavier Mission ‘credibly accused’ of child sex abuse
“Five Franciscan friars who once staffed churches on the Tohono O’odham reservation near Tucson have been named to a new list of Roman Catholic clergy ‘credibly accused’ of child molestation during their careers(link is external). The five, all now deceased, were members of the California-based Franciscan Friars of the Province of St. Barbara. Four of the five were assigned at various times to the historic San Xavier Mission, the religious order recently disclosed on its website.” By carol Ann Alaimo, Arizona Daily Star

Third priest accused of sexual abuse files lawsuit against Diocese of Corpus Christi
“A third priest who was named in a list of clergy members who were ‘credibly accused’ of sexual misconduct(link is external) is suing Bishop Michael Mulvey and the Diocese of Corpus Christi. Msgr. Jesús García Hernando is the latest to claim the diocese and bishop made a ‘false’ statement in claiming he was ‘credibly accused’ of sexually assaulting a minor.” By Eleanor Dearman, Corpus Christi Caller Times

VIRGINIA

Richmond Catholic Diocese adds six clergy members to sexual abuse list
“Six names have been added by the Catholic Diocese of Richmond to a list of clergy who have credible and substantiated accusations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) against them. The six names added by the Diocese are Stanley F. Banaszek, Anthony M. Canu, Patrick J. Cassidy, Leonardo G. Mantei, Thomas D. Sykes and Vincent The Quang Nguyen. The only one not known to be dead already is Vincent The Quang Nguyen.” By Nick Boykin, WTKR-TV3 News

WASHINGTON

Diocese releases several names of priests accused of sex abuse from Tri-Cities
“The names of dozens priests and deacons in Central Washington with substantial sexual abuse allegations were released on Wednesday(link is external) (Jul. 10). Bishop Joseph Tyson, after thorough consultation and upon the recommendation of the Yakima Diocese Lay Advisory Board, has established a website listing the names of priests and deacons with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor during their time of ministry within the Diocese of Yakima.” By Thomas Yazwinski, KEPR-TV News

WEST VIRGINIA

‘He hurt people’: West Virginia’s long-faithful Catholics grapple with news of bishop’s misconduct
“Nancy Ostrowski knows this state. And she thought she knew her bishop(link is external). Her family has been attending St. Joseph Catholic Church since the Romanesque Revival building was dedicated in 1860, just before West Virginia broke away from Virginia to support the Union. Her ancestors saw the heady years of Martinsburg’s heyday, when the mills running day and night here supplied clothing to the world, and the heavy decades of struggle when those mills closed down.” By Julie Zauzmer, The Washington Post

AFRICA

Focus on Africa: Sex abuse scandal rocks Liberia’s Catholic Church
Allegations of sexual harassment and abuse in Liberia’s Catholic Church continue to traumatize the lives of spiritual workers(link is external), after two top clerics were named in a major sex and office abuse scandal. The most damaging scandal to hit the faith in decades broke out in August last year when estranged Reverend Father Gabriel Sawyer sent an email message to the Pope. He accuses the Archbishop of Monrovia and another top prelate of persecuting him and other subordinates who refused to have sex with him.” By William Niba, en.rfi.fr/africa

AUSTRALIA

Five per cent of applicants processed through National Redress Scheme amid ‘wave of reforms’
“The Commonwealth’s Department of Social Services says just 5 per cent of applications to the National Redress Scheme have been processed(link is external) as the compensation program marks its first anniversary. The national scheme was established 12 months ago to provide compensation for institutional child sexual abuse survivors and was intended to be an alternative to civil litigation, requiring victims to provide less supporting information than to a court.” By Charlotte King, ABC News Australia

The Marist Brothers and a secret list of 154 accused child sex offenders
“One hundred and fifty-four brothers have been accused of sexually assaulting students at Marist schools(link is external), but their identity and whether they are still teaching remains a secret. In their own words, the Marist Brothers are ‘dedicated to making Jesus known and loved through the education of young people, especially those most neglected.’ It’s an admirable mission statement, but one that is hard to reconcile with the evidence delivered to the 2016 royal commission into child sexual abuse …” By Suzanne Smith and Georgia Wilkins, Crikey Magazine

Tasmanian priest reveals own sexual abuse at hands of Catholic church
“A parish priest in Tasmania has revealed for the first time he himself was abused by a priest as a schoolboy(link is external) at Burnie’s Marist Regional College, and says he wants to encourage others to come forward. Father John Girdauskas told the ABC he was first sexually abused by Father Laurie Gallagher in the 1970s, when he was 14.” By Henry Zwartz, ABC News Australia

CANADA

Former Catholic priest Barry McGrory found guilty of historic sex assaults
“Defrocked Catholic priest Barry McGrory has been found guilty of sexually abusing two teenage boys in a church rectory(link is external) during the early years of his long and sordid clerical career. McGrory, 85, showed no emotion as Superior Court Justice Michelle O’Bonsawin delivered her verdict Monday (Jun.24). ‘I find that Mr. McGrory preyed on the vulnerability of these complainants,’ O’Bonsawin said in finding McGrory guilty on two counts of indecent assault and two counts of gross indecency.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

CHILE

Presence of disgraced cardinals at ordination of new bishop causes uproar in Chile
“After Pope Francis accepted the resignation of one of the two newly appointed auxiliary bishops of Santiago, Chile before his episcopal ordination, the second auxiliary’s ordination, in Rome, was tainted by the presence of two disgraced former archbishops(link is external) of the Chilean capital. Cardinals Ricardo Ezzati and Francisco Errázuriz, both emeritus archbishops of Santiago who have been subpoenaed by local prosecutors for covering up cases of clerical sexual abuse, attended the episcopal ordination of Alberto Lorenzelli.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

INDIA

Child rights body files case against Kerals priest who was held for abusing minors
“The Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) on Tuesday (Jul. 9) has filed a case against the Kerala Catholic priest who was recently arrested by the police for sexually abusing minor boys(link is external). The director of the boys’ home in Kochi, Father George TJ alias Jerry, was arrested by the Kerala police on Sunday. The arrest was made following a complaint by the parents of the victims, who alleged that their boys were being abused for over six months now.” By Times Now News

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Can laypeople lead a parish? Look to Louisville for a thriving example / National Catholic Reporter

We are a living example of how the Catholic Church can move forward despite the priest shortage, despite the sex scandals and despite the Roman Curia. We are proof that the spirit of Vatican II is still alive and well. At St. William, ‘We are the church’ is more than a slogan. It’s the way we operate. And it is all allowable under canon law! We just need bishops who will recognize the immense possibilities of lay-led parishes. (National Catholic Reporter)

In his recent book Worship as Community Drama, sociologist Pierre Hegy described an unusual Catholic parish whose identity he hid under the name Church of the Resurrection. When the book was published earlier this year and we read the chapter titled ‘A Lay-Run Parish: Consensus Without a Central Authority,’ we could tell that it was about us.

“I asked Hegy about possibly revealing the facts behind the chapter. He replied that sociological protocols had to be followed in the book, but these would not apply to an article in a newspaper. OK, here goes.

“For almost 30 years, the St. William Catholic Community in Louisville, Kentucky, has had a lay parochial administrator but, even before that, all-important decisions were made by the people of the parish.”

By Joseph Martos, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Why the ‘Metropolitan Plan’ doesn’t work — Exhibit A: Bishop Bransfield / Commonweal

As if by an act of divine providence, however, the first trial run of a metropolitan-centered strategy to contain abusive bishops has provided a spectacular public demonstration of how this plan can fail. The case I am referring to, of course, is that of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who has been suspended from ministry over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of diocesan funds. (Commonweal)

The now-glaring weakness of the USCCB’s 2002 Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People was that it made no provision for dealing with bishops who engage in sexual misconduct. In the wake of the scandal surrounding Theodore McCarrick, who had escaped the consequences of his abuses for decades, the American bishops realized this gap had to be closed. Without some mechanism for holding bishops accountable, the trust that the hierarchy hoped to rebuild after the devastating revelations of clergy abuse of children could never be achieved.

“In the course of discussions in the months following the McCarrick revelations, two proposals emerged: an independent lay-run board could investigate a bishop and report to Rome, or a case could be referred to the metropolitan bishop of the region (a metropolitan is the bishop of the chief see of an ecclesiastical province, usually an archdiocese), who would oversee the investigation and send his findings to Rome. In either case, the pope would make a final determination of the fate of the bishop.

“Not surprisingly, the latter option (first proposed by Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago) was the one favored by most American bishops and the Vatican. It decentralizes the work of investigating accusations. It avoids thorny practical questions about who chooses the members of the lay board. And, critically, it sidesteps the canonical ‘problem’ of lay people in the church being placed in a position of authority over bishops.

“The guidelines issued this spring by Pope Francis endorsed the ‘metropolitan plan.’ At their June meeting in Baltimore, the American bishops adopted it, though with some debate over whether lay involvement in the process should be mandatory or optional. They made it optional.

“As if by an act of divine providence, however, the first trial run of a metropolitan-centered strategy to contain abusive bishops has provided a spectacular public demonstration of how this plan can fail. The case I am referring to, of course, is that of Bishop Michael Bransfield of the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, West Virginia, who has been suspended from ministry over multiple allegations of sexual harassment and misuse of diocesan funds.”

By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal — Read more …

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Following bishops’ spring meeting, Voice of the Faithful echoes calls for mandatory civil reporting and lay involvement in bishop accountability

BOSTON, Mass., June 18, 2019 – The 2019 U.S. Bishops’ spring assembly left Voice of the Faithful and concerned Catholics across America with a nagging sense of déjà vu. Once again, the plan for resolving the Church’s lengthy, widespread child abuse and cover-up scandal is for bishops to hold their fellow bishops accountable. This is the best they could do nearly 35 years after Jason Berry’s reporting on horrendous abuse in Louisiana and Fr. Tom Doyle’s comprehensive report on the extent and potential repercussions of Catholic clergy abuse.

Over the past three and a half decades, time and again, when clerical transgressions were brought to light by others, bishops apologized and promised reform. The reform attempted at this latest bishops meeting has left bishops monitoring other bishops, controlling reports to lay boards and establishing themselves as final arbiters when abuse is reported. It has left us still waiting for substantive actions that could signal real reform. Here are two:

  • mandatory reporting of abuse allegations to civil authorities, even where state law does not require it, as Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski emphasized during the bishops’ meeting; and
  • mandatory lay involvement in bishop accountability, without which, as the bishops’ National Review Board Chairman Francesco Cesareo has said, a culture of self-preservation would continue that suggests complicity.

For arguably good reasons, Pope Francis in his recent Vos estis lux mundi did not require either of these actions, only suggested them, while requiring that bishops’ transgressions be reported within the Church and investigated by other bishops. This is a variation of the medieval court system where only clerics were allowed to judge other clerics and not a step forward.

At their meeting, U.S. bishops adopted the metropolitan model suggested by Chicago’s Cardinal Blase Cupich wherein a metropolitan archbishop, a largely ceremonial role, would be in charge of investigating bishops within his province. But without mandatory reporting to police and mandatory lay involvement, the faithful can only hope that the bishop involved will investigate properly—investigative work that is not covered in any catechism or theology course.

VOTF agrees with canon lawyer and former National Review Board chairman Nicholas Cafardi, who has been quoted, “The system really perpetuates clericalism, which is something Pope Francis has criticized in other situations—the idea that priests exist on a different level than lay people and bishops exist on a different level than priests, and that’s by divine origin and you can’t even talk about changing it.”

Although several bishops during their spring meeting spoke in favor of mandatory reporting and mandatory lay involvement, they did not carry the day. This underscores the necessity for Lay Catholics to continue the drumbeat for reform and repeatedly ask their bishops to lobby their brothers and the Pope for whatever is needed for real reform, whether papal edicts or changes in canon law.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, June 18, 2019
Contact: 
Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org(link sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
Voice of the Faithful®: 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 the governance and guidance of the Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

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How much corruption can we tolerate in the church before we leave / National Catholic Reporter

Yes, social sin and structural, systemic corruption abound. But the kind of moral perversity that harms the young or vulnerable deserves no quarter. Nor can we tolerate its institutional protection or tolerance. (National Catholic Reporter)

“After reading James Carroll’s lengthy lament in The Atlantic on the corruption in the Catholic Church and its priestly caste, I remembered reading an article in America magazine by the late Jesuit theologian Walter Burghardt.

“‘In the course of half a century,’ the weathered scholar wrote in Tell the Next Generation, ‘I have seen more Catholic corruption than you have read of. I have tasted it. I have been reasonably corrupt myself. And yet I joy in this Church — this living, pulsing, sinning people of God.’

“Carroll admits to an ocean of grief from the corruption now painfully evident in the church, not the church understood as the people of God, but the hierarchical church. His grief is oceans away from what we might term reasonable, from the mostly petty corruptions of people like Burghardt and the rest of us. The corruption that so saddens Carroll is mortally grave because, as he sees it, the toxic clericalism at its roots has over centuries embedded itself in the very structure, the very bones, of the hierarchical, institutional church. As such, he no longer looks for reform from church leaders found to be at the very center of the corruption.”

By Donald Cozzens, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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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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