A historic resignation / Commonweal

“The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”


“When Msgr. Roger Grundhaus wanted to baptize his niece’s baby in the cathedral of a nearby diocese, there was the simple matter of getting a letter from his bishop affirming that he was a priest in good standing.

“Bishop Michael J. Hoeppner of Crookston in northwest Minnesota obliged the retired priest, a former vicar general of his diocese. ‘He is a person of good moral character and reputation,’ he wrote in 2012. ‘I am unaware of anything in his background which would render him unsuitable to work with minor children.’

“But contrary to that blanket statement, Hoeppner had already heard allegations directly from a diaconate candidate, Ron Vasek, that Grundhaus had molested him in the early 1970s. And so, attorney Jeff Anderson confronted the bishop with the letter during a deposition: ‘That’s a lie, isn’t it?’

“‘Counsel, can you rephrase in a non-argumentative way?’ the diocesan lawyer interjected, and there was no admission from the bishop in settling the lawsuit.

“This letter was part of a trail of evidence leading to the announcement that Pope Francis had asked for and received Hoeppner’s resignation as bishop, a first in the United States under the 2019 Vatican regulations designed to prevent cover-ups of clergy sexual abuse. The disclosure that the pope had ‘asked for’ the bishop’s resignation, appearing in a statement from the Diocese of Crookston, marked a significant advance in the long effort to hold prelates accountable for concealing clergy sexual abuse.”

By Paul Moses, Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 23, 2022


U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church
“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops. The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

South African Catholics: End clericalism, open ministry to women, be inclusive
“Widen the preaching circle to women and other laypeople, change the leadership style from autocratic and bureaucratic, move away from clericalism, and build more inclusive and welcoming communities, say Southern African Catholics. These were some of the major themes that emerged in the synthesis document for the synod on synodality released by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference at the end of August. The conference represents the Catholic bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini. The secretary general of the bishops’ conference, Fr. Hugh O’Connor, said that the synthesis aimed to reflect the wide range of opinions mentioned in the diocesan reports.” By Russell Pollitt, National Catholic Reporter

Bill eliminating statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil suits heads to Biden’s desk
“The House on Tuesday (Sept. 13) passed a bill eliminating the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse who seek to file civil claims, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk for final approval. The chamber cleared the bill, titled the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, by voice vote, a strategy reserved for non-controversial, popular measures. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent in March. The measure calls for removing the statute of limitations for minors filing civil claims relating to a number of sex abuse crimes, including force labor, sex trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.” By Mychael Schnell, KGET-TV News

Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By George Weigel, The Pilot


Exclusive: Cardinal Grech on drafting the first global synod synthesis—and what’s in store for phase 2
“Even though the first phase of the Catholic Church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis only ended in mid-August, ‘We can already see the fruits of the synodal process,’ Cardinal Mario Grech, the general secretary of the synod, told America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, in an exclusive interview conducted for America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast at the Jesuit Curia in Rome on Sept. 14. Cardinal Grech gave the interview before leaving Rome for two weeks starting today, Sept. 21, with a team of 35 people ‘summoned from all continents’ to study and analyze the feedback from the first phase, also known as the consultation phase, of the synodal process.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Synodality and its issues
“Persons worried about the current ‘synodality’ process in the Catholic Church have good reasons to be anxious. The car wreck of the German Catholic ‘synodal path’ on matters of sexuality and Church governance is one of them. Other key problems with Rome’s 2023 Synod on Synodality are the personalities and behaviors of some of the loudest people advancing it. More on that in a moment. The idea itself – synodality – is worth considering. But be warned and caffeinated: Roman documents ahead.” By The Catholic World Report

The synodality report
“What is synodality? Bishop (Harry) Silva defines it this way: “The Church always must defer to its Head, who is Jesus Christ. He is sacramentally represented by his bishops and priests, who act in his name as pastors, overseers and servants. But the clergy are not as wise or holy as the Head, and the Body must always be in communication with the Head. So while the Church is not a democracy, it is essential that the pastors be in touch with the thoughts, aspirations, needs and dreams of the members of the Body. Thus, we have pastoral councils, finance councils, priests’ councils, deacon councils, and a host of other consultative bodies so that the flow of communication between head and members may always be healthy. Synodality is the recognition that every member of the Body is important and contributes to the welfare of the whole body. It also offers concrete mechanisms by which this can happen.’” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald

Synod on Synodality organizers: ‘Trust the process’
“The Synod on Synodality, Pope Francis’ massive consultation of all Catholic dioceses, parishes and organizations on the state of the church, completed its first phase, with Vatican officials receiving reports from countries around the world on their findings. As the second phase begins, and amid doubts that the results will be representative, the synod’s chief organizer, and even some participants, are encouraging Catholics to trust the process. ‘It’s the first time in the history of the church but also for humanity to have such a consultation,’ said Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary for the General Secretariat for the Synod at the Vatican. ‘It’s a huge achievement.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Sex and gender dominate German church debates. But Catholics in the Global South have difference challenges—and values
“There is a lot of talk about ‘synodality’ in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church. In 2021, Pope Francis called for the ‘Synod on Synodality’… The Catholic Church is often assumed to look and feel the same everywhere. But Catholicism is culturally quite diverse. The most public disagreement involves African Catholics and those in the United States and Europe. For example, Ghanaian Catholic bishops have criticized advocates for LGBTQ rights for imposing ‘their so-called values and beliefs.’ Other African bishops have said they feel betrayed by liberal sentiments in European Catholicism, such as the push to allow Holy Communion for divorced church members.” By Mathew Schmalz, America: The Jesuit Review

Personal reflections on the synod on synodality
“Over the centuries, men and women religious have practiced synodality through chapters, community meetings, and conversation groups to prepare for chapters of elections and affairs, house meetings and more. Decisions are made through prayer, dialogue (sometimes intense), and contemplative discernment to come to a decision or a way forward. The synod handbook, or vademecum, states that ‘Synodal listening is oriented towards discernment. It requires us to learn and exercise the art of personal and communal discernment.’ As religious, we know that synodality and discernment is a way of life … The charism and rule of each institute creates the environment for both synodality and discernment to take place.” By Donna L. Ciangio, National Catholic Reporter

Germany’s synodal assembly ends with far-reaching proposals
“The fourth plenary assembly of Germany’s Synodal Way in Frankfurt has concluded with a series of far-reaching reform resolutions. They concern, for example, the position of women and trans people in the Church, sexual morality, gay priests and the future national leadership structure of the Church. It said all texts involving changes to Church doctrine were formulated as proposals for consideration by the Pope and not as independent dogmatic changes by the German Church.” By CathNews.com


Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By The Catholic World Report


The future of the priesthood: Boston College theologians edited book on priestly ministry
“The priesthood is deeply cherished and lies at the heart of Catholic faith and people, but a fresh conversation is needed around the formation of priests in order for ordained ministry to flourish going forward, according to the new book Priestly Ministry and the People of God (Orbis Books), co-edited by three Boston College theologians. Priestly Ministry and the People of God presents a collection of essays from a variety of voices—a cardinal, bishops, seminary rectors, ordained and lay ministers, and academic theologians—who have put forth their best hopes for the future of the priesthood. The essays are faithful to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the best of Catholic tradition, while also responding to the needs of the Church today, say co-editors Richard Gaillardetz, Thomas Groome, and Rev. Richard Lennan.” By Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications, Boston College


Will religious life rise again – and should it?
“The question this column purports to answer is a clear one: Will religious life rise again? Yes? But is it sensible in this day and age to even think of such a thing? The answer is actually a simple one but a potentially life-changing one at the same time. Several ancient stories long ago illuminated both the purpose and the spirituality of what it means to be a religious. Even now, even here. The first of those stories is from the tales of the desert monastics. One day, Abbot Arsenius was asking an old Egyptian man for advice on something.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter


Two historians track down Jesus’ women disciples
“When you hear the word disciple, what do you think of? Probably the 12 apostles, maybe some of the greater crowd following Jesus in the gospels. A few readers may perhaps picture Mary Magdalene. But overall, our image of the disciples is of a group of men sharing Jesus’ life and listening to his teachings. Joan Taylor and Helen Bond, both professors of Christian origins, decided to challenge this dominant picture of who the disciples were and what they looked like … Instead, Taylor and Bond say that there were just as many women as men in this group. Indeed, it would have been impossible for the gospel to spread as far as it did otherwise.” By U.S. Catholic

Deacons decision on hold
“Top advocate says Rome statement on women deacons won’t come soon. The Vatican is unlikely to make any statement on the possibility of women to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church until after the conclusion of the international bishop’s Synod on Synodality next year, said international expert Dr Phyllis Zagano. Dr Zagano was one of 12 scholars appointed by Pope Francis in 2016 to the commission to study the diaconate as it existed in the early Church to ascertain the possibility of women deacons. The Pope said their research was inconculusivew and in 2020 reconvened a new commission to examine the question.” By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly


Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the Church
“ Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the church on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, for an event aptly named “VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years of Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church.” VOTF’s friends and supporters will gather to pray, learn, plan, and socialize as a community honoring its two-decade commitment. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., professor of theology and religious education at Boston College and an internationally known author and religious education expert, will offer attendees an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. “I would like to spark people’s own thoughts about why Catholics often think of Church or Pope or Sacraments as the ‘heart’ of their faith and seldom Jesus,” Groome said.” By Voice of the Faithful on Religion News Service


St. Louis Archdiocese releases parish financial data as closures loom
“Catholics across the region can now take a detailed look at their church finances, Mass attendance and school enrollment as the Archdiocese of St. Louis moves to restructure its parishes. The archdiocese released data Thursday on all 178 parishes ahead of hundreds of listening sessions in October and November. At the meetings, parishioners will be shown two to four different models reflecting potential church closures or consolidations. The proposed plan for school closures is expected to be released early in 2023.” By Blythe Bernhard and Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Catholic cardinal calls for an end to celibacy in clergy
“A recent damning report into child sex abuses in the archdiocese of Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx in Germany led him to call for the lifting of the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests and Bishops. According to the influential Catholic archbishop of Munich and Freising, many priests would prefer to get married. Last year, a damaging independent report found that 235 people — including 173 priests — sexually abused 497 people between 1945 and 2019 in the Munich and Freising archdiocese.” By CTN News


Through study and prayer, it’s not too late to get Vatican II right
“Sixty years ago, on Oct. 11, 1962, Pope St. John XXIII solemnly opened the Second Vatican Council. Addressing the council fathers, he said, ‘The major interest of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred heritage of Christian truth be safeguarded and expounded with greater efficacy.’ Referring to the sweeping political and economic changes that had occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries, John XXIII rejoices that the Church would have the opportunity to return to the essentials of the spiritual life, particularly the instruction of the faithful. Free from ‘worldly fetters that trammeled her in past ages,’ Holy Mother Church had a new opportunity to preach and catechize.” By Father Patrick Briscoe, Our Sunday Visitor

Americans lack confidence in some churches’ abilities to handle sexual-abuse allegatioins
“Three churches have made headlines recently for their alleged roles in covering up claims of sexual abuse. In May, leaders of the country’s largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, published a review alleging that reports of sexual abuse were suppressed by top church officials for two decades. In mid-August, Southern Baptist leaders announced that the church is under federal investigation for sexual abuse. Less than two weeks earlier, the Associated Press published an analysis of sealed records from a child sexual-abuse lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormon church) in West Virginia, revealing how the church’s helpline allows church leaders to divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and toward church attorneys. The Catholic Church has long faced allegations of sexual abuse by its leaders, which continue to surface; last week, Pope Francis addressed these claims, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending the problem.” By Taylor Orth, Today.YouGov.com

An epic struggle for the soul of Catholicism
“(Author John T.) McGreevy begins his story with the near-death experience of the French Revolution, when a very Catholic country turned with bloodlust on the keepers of the faith. Priests were murdered, convents and monasteries closed, property seized. For a time, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris was renamed the Temple of Reason. Clergy members were required to take an oath of loyalty to the new regime or risk the guillotine. During this period of “dechristianization,” as it was called, the revolutionaries created new calendars, and renamed streets and public squares.” By Timothy Egan, The New York Times



Suburban priest Father David Ryan faces allegations of sexual abuse of a minor again
“A suburban priest is facing two allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The Archdiocese of Chicago has asked Father David Ryan of Lake Zurich to step aside — again — while it conducts an investigation. In a letter Saturday (Sept. 17), Cardinal Blase Cupich called the news “upsetting” and said Ryan has agreed to cooperate. In late 2020 Ryan was asked to step aside amid an investigation into sexual abuse of minors 25 years prior. He was reinstated in 2021.” By CBS-TV2 News


Warrant issued for former southern Minnesota priest charged with sexual assault
“A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former Catholic priest accused of sexually assault, after he missed his first court appearance Thursday (Sept. 8). Winona County District Judge Mary Leahy issued the warrant to hold Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, without bail after he failed to show up for the hearing. Roque Huerta is charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on another person without their consent. Roque Huerta was going through laicization — the process of leaving the priesthood — with the Diocese of Winona-Rochester when he allegedly assaulted a person in December 2020.” By Trey Mewes, Minneapolis Star Tribune


Sex abuse settlement may disrupt plans for new church
“Another parish is feeling the pain of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s $121.5 million settlement in a bankruptcy case that stems from hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. Some congregants at San Isidro Catholic Parish in the village of Agua Fría had been told the parish would be receiving half the proceeds of a land sale to build a new church. But now there are doubts the parish will retain the building funds amid the archdiocese’s efforts to settle its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” By Daniel J. Chacón, Santa Fe New Mexican


New York Archdiocese: ‘Vos estis’ Hubbard records can’t be turned over in sex abuse lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New York argued in an Albany courtroom on Friday (Sept. 9) that records compiled during a Vatican-ordered investigation into a retired bishop are protected by the First Amendment, and cannot be turned over in response to a subpoena in a sexual abuse lawsuit. The case raises questions about the confidentiality of the Vos estis lux mundi process, promulgated by Pope Francis in 2019 as a mechanism for investigating allegations of abuse or misconduct against bishops.” By The Pillar

Summary judgment closes case against Catholic Diocese of Brownsville
“A state district judge in Cameron County has issued a summary judgment in a case brought against the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville that alleged church officials tried to protect a priest accused in the alleged sexual assault of two siblings. The case had been scheduled for a jury trial Monday (Sept. 12) but was canceled following the summary judgment signed Aug. 25, by 445th state District Judge Gloria Rincones, which closed out the case, court records show. The Brownsville Herald has reached out to the Diocese and the attorney representing the siblings for comment. As of late Monday afternoon, neither have replied to a request seeking comment.” By Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald


Next steps: Recommendations from Awake Milwaukee for our archdiocese
“Sexual abuse is a persistent evil that cannot be eliminated from our Church with limited, one-time interventions. Instead, an effective response requires Catholics to undertake an ongoing journey down two paths. First, we must accompany and support victim-survivors in their pursuit of truth, accountability, and healing. Second, we must work proactively to prevent future abuse. As committed Catholics, we believe that the duty of walking these two paths is not some abstract obligation that belongs to the narrow subset of church officials who are tasked with addressing the abuse crisis in their professional capacities. It is a concrete responsibility that falls on the shoulders of every member of the Body of Christ.” By AwakeMilwaukee.org


‘I needed to step up’: former Surf Coast mayor sues church over alleged abuse
“A police officer and former Surf Coast mayor has launched legal action against the Vincentian order almost 50 years after he was allegedly abused by a priest while boarding at a former Catholic college in Bendigo. Brian McKiterick, 61, has claimed in a writ filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria that he suffered appalling sexual abuse at the hands of Father Murray Wilson, who was the dean of discipline, a maths teacher and football coach at St Vincent’s College.” By Cameron Houston, The Age


Moncton archdiocese, insurer reach settlement in lawsuit over sex abuse compensation
“Although the details of the agreement with the Co-operators General Insurance Company are subject to a confidentiality clause, the resulting funds will be used to pay claims for sexual assaults that occurred in the archdiocese between 1955 and 1984, according to a statement issued by Archbishop Valéry Vienneau. ‘The settlement made does involve some compromise, but it provides immediate certainty, particularly in light of advice that the pending court hearing would be put over for another year due to a shortage of judges,’ he said.” By Bobbi-jean MacKinnon, CBC News

Oblates dismiss Rivoire as retired priest denies abuse allegations at meeting with Inuit
“As Inuit delegates from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. prepared to meet with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in France Wednesday (Sept. 14), they had a shock: the man they’ve accused of sexually abusing Canadian children would be there, too. The delegates have been in France all week to call for the extradition of retired priest Johannes Rivoire, who has been charged in Canada with sexual assault dating back to his time in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s. The meeting with Rivoire was one the delegation had sought, but hadn’t received any word about until they were nearly at their destination in Lyon, France.” By April Hudson, CBC News

Acclaimed podcast Stolen spurs lawsuit against estate of dead Catholic priest
“A British Columbia woman claims she was told the late Father Georges Chevrier had no history of the kind of sexual abuse complaints she was bringing forward. Then she listened to an acclaimed podcast titled Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s. Now she’s suing. The woman — known as LV — filed a B.C. Supreme Court claim this week against Chevrier’s estate and the corporation of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, which she accuses of failing to tell her the dead priest had a ‘known history of allegations of sexual abuse’ when she first asked for compensation.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News

Settlement proposed in class action on behalf of victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Halifax and Yarmouth
“A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against the Catholic Dioceses of Halifax and Yarmouth on behalf of victims of sexual assault by Priests. The action was certified as a class proceeding on March 31, 2020. This class action alleges that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Yarmouth are legally liable for sexual abuse committed by their Priests between April 14, 1954 and March 31, 2020. Both sides have agreed to a settlement.” By Yahoo.com

B.C. victim sues estate of priest sex offender and Catholic church officials
“A B.C. man who claims he was one of 17 young men who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest over a period of 25 years is suing the perpetrator’s estate and Catholic Church officials for damages. The victim, who is only identified by initials in the lawsuit, says that while on assignment in and around Terrace in 1981 or 1982, Father Harold Daniel McIntee sexually abused him and two other young men. He says that while staying overnight at the Secret Heart rectory with McIntee, he was experiencing abdominal pain and McIntee asked him to remove his pants to see if he had a swollen testicle.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun


Inuit group ‘implores’ France to extradite priest accused of child sex abuse
“A group of Canadian Inuit have come to France to push for the extradition of a retired French priest accused of sexually abusing several Inuit children when he worked as a missionary in the north of Canada more than 40 years ago. The five-person delegation from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) head to the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday to argue the extradition of Johannes Rivoire – a former Roman Catholic priest who lives at an Oblates nursing home in the southern city of Lyon.” By Allison Hird, rfi.fr


New German study finds Osnabruck Diocese ignored rights of abuse victims
“Church leaders in the northern German Diocese of Osnabrück failed over decades to fulfill their duties in responding to accusations of sexual abuse, according to a study presented by the University of Osnabrück Sept. 19. The German Catholic news agency KNA said the study found that, until recently, officials had neglected to conduct adequate monitoring of clerics after they had been removed from their posts following accusations of abuse. The main area requiring improvement was communication with victims, the project leaders said. In addition, the diocese had been defensive and bureaucratic in its handling of cases and “stingy” in its recognition payments.” By Catholic News Service on TheCentralMinnesotaCatholic.org


Sexual abuse victims welcome apology from missionaries
“A victim of child sexual abuse at a priest training school has said missionaries ‘begged for forgiveness’ at a meeting. Mark Murray was one of several abuse survivors who met the Comboni Missonaries in London on Tuesday (Sept. 20). The 66-year-old from St Asaph, Denbighshire endured repeated abuse by a priest while at St Peter Claver College in West Yorkshire. The Comboni Survivors Group said it was “deeply moved” by the meeting.” By BBC News

Man who claims he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest settles High Court damages action for €350,000
“A man who claimed he was sexually abused by a Catholic Priest almost 50 years ago has settled his High Court damages action for €350,000. In his judgement on Friday Mr Justice Garrett Simons approved the settlement of the now 60-year-old man personal injuries claim, who currently resides in the UK, against The Sacred Heart Missionary Education Trust and his alleged abuser. The case was settled by the Trust, without an admission of liability by either of the defendants.” By Aodhan O’Faolain, Independent.ie


Clergy sex abuse claimants vote on payout plan
“Survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults have a few days left to vote for or against the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy exit plan, which includes settlement of the abuse claims estimated at $37 million to $101 million. Their ballots must be received by the U.S. District Court of Guam clerk by Sept. 19 to be counted as a vote to accept or reject the disclosure statement, which is the plan to get the archdiocese out of bankruptcy. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood approved the adequacy of the third amended disclosure statement filed on July 19, giving each claimant a chance to be heard by their vote.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Pacific Daily News

Vatican: Questions to pope in Guam clergy abuse case ‘improper’
“The Vatican said judicial inquiries directed to the pope as a head of state are ‘improper,’ after a federal judge ordered the Holy See’s counsel to report on whether Pope Francis could meet with all survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults to help settle abuse claims. Attorneys for the Vatican, led by California-based Jeffrey Lena, also said the Holy See ‘has given no indication that it is currently inclined to settle the case at bar,’ or participate in similar lawsuits. All this is part of an ongoing case filed by a man seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the actions of Guam’s former archbishop, Anthony Apuron, who allegedly raped him when he was a minor student at Father Dueñas Memorial School in 1994-1995.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

Two late clergy sex abuse claims will be accepted
“Two men who were sexually abused by priests as children but filed their claims past the Aug. 15, 2019 deadline will get their full share of the Archdiocese of Agana’s compensation plan. This comes two weeks before a hearing on the archdiocese’s bankruptcy exit plan, a key part of which is paying out hundreds of abuse claimants. In the offer, the archdiocese and its creditors’ committee propose to pay abuse survivors $37 million to $101 million, plus a free burial plot and Catholic education for their children.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilver, Pacific Daily News


Indonesian Church urged to tackle sexual abuse head-on
“A forum of priests, nuns, laypeople, and activists in Indonesia has urged the Catholic Church hierarchy to tackle sexual abuse head-on and to end the practice of cover-up for the sake of protecting the church’s image. The online discussion was held in collaboration between Let’s Talk About Sex and Sexualities, and Yayasan Sesawi dan Kawal Gereja (Mustard and Church Watchdog Foundation), a lay Catholic group, on Sept. 9. The organizers said the event sought to encourage Church leaders to be serious and proactive in investigating sexual violence within the church, in line with Pope Francis’ commitment to zero tolerance for sex abuse.” By UCANews.com


Former priest accused of breaching sexual offences prevention order
“A former priest who was a serial sex abuser for almost 20 years was yesterday accused of breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Almost four years to the day since he last appeared in court, Daniel John Curran (72) was charged at Downpatrick Magistrates Court with breaching his lifelong SOPO on August 12 this year. It is alleged that Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, breached the SOPO in that he ‘remained / loitered at Tullymore National Activity Centre which by its nature is likely to attract or be frequented by children under 16 years without permission of your designated risk manager.’” By The Irish News


New Zealand child abuse survivors call for intervention from Pope Francis
“A New Zealand group representing survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has called on Pope Francis to intervene in the redress process, claiming that church authorities were mishandling it and retraumatizing victims. In a letter sent to the Vatican and seen by Reuters, the New Zealand chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a global organization for child abuse victims, accused church officials in New Zealand of breaching procedures for managing abuse complaint cases.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters


Pope Francis orders new canonical process in abuse case at Opus Dei school in Spain
“The complaints of abuse against the teacher date to 2009 and 2011. After a long judicial process, the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in prison in 2020, but since it was his first conviction and did not exceed a two-year sentence, he wasn’t imprisoned. Bishop Joseba Segura Etxezarraga of Bilbao, Spain, has announced that Pope Francis has ordered a new canonical process for a case of abuse that took place at a school run by the prelature of Opus Dei. The announcement states that the Holy Father was aware in December 2014 of allegations of abuse against José María Martínez Sanz, a numerary member of Opus Dei and a teacher at Gaztelueta School.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

Ex-priest gets 30 years in prison for child abuse in Spain
“Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday (Sept. 13) sentenced a former priest to 30 years in prison for abusing seven minors at a Catholic boarding school nearly a decade ago when he worked as their tutor. Allegations of child abuse by Catholic clergy and possible cover-ups by the church have surfaced in recent months in Spain, years after similar scandals rocked the Church in other countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

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U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church / Cruxnow.com

“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops.

“The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.

“An estimated 700,000 people out of an estimated 66.8 million U.S. Catholics contributed to the feedback that went into creating the synthesis.

“Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, the USCCB’s committee on doctrine chair who oversaw the national process, called the document a ‘significant moment’ for the U.S. church, while cautioning that it’s only the first step in a larger process.”

Click here to read the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.

By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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New York archdiocese: ‘Vos Estis’ Hubbard records can’t be turned over in sex abuse lawsuit / The Pillar

“We are not trying to pierce their attorney-client privilege. But the archdiocese says over 1,400 records are protected under the First Amendment. And we’ve made a motion to compel the production of those documents in the privilege log.” (plaintiff attorney JoAnn Harri)

The Pillar

“The Archdiocese of New York argued in an Albany courtroom on Friday that records compiled during a Vatican-ordered investigation into a retired bishop are protected by the First Amendment, and can not be turned over in response to a subpoena in a sexual abuse lawsuit.

“The case raises questions about the confidentiality of the Vos estis lux mundi process, promulgated by Pope Francis in 2019 as a mechanism for investigating allegations of abuse or misconduct against bishops.

“New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan was directed in early 2021 to investigate claims against retired Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard, who has been accused of multiple instances of sexual abuse against minors, and who admitted last year that he transferred several priests to new parish ministries without contacting police, after they were accused of sexual abuse.”

By The Pillar — Read more …

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What makes education Catholic?

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Professor Thomas Groome’s new book explores the essence of a Catholic education.

Prof. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., will deliver the keynote address, “Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church,” during Voice of the Faithful’s 20th Year Commemoration on Oct. 29, 2022, at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel.

The vast network of Catholic schools likely constitutes the largest single system of education in the world today. This enormously influential educational system has some 55,000 schools, ranging from kindergartens to research universities, located in 200 countries and serving more than 150 million students.

But what exactly does it mean to place the word “Catholic” before such terms as school, education, or teacher?

In his new book What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations (Orbis Books, 2021), internationally renowned religious education expert Thomas Groome explores the history of Catholic education from its spiritual roots to present day, in order to define what Catholic education is and provide a reflective resource for today’s Catholic school educators.

Thomas Groome
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Professor Thomas Groome (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

School of Theology and Ministry Professor Thomas Groome (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

“I’ve been thinking about this book for about 40 years,” said Groome, a professor of theology and religious education in the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and founding director of the Ph.D. program in theology and education. In a recent interview, he recalled an experience he had decades ago in Pakistan where he witnessed what he calls an excellent example of Catholic education. Unlike the Catholic schools he was familiar with in his native Ireland or in the United States, the Pakistani school was staffed predominately by Muslim teachers and the students were also Muslim. Groome has seen a similar phenomenon during visits to Korea and Hong Kong—Catholic schools delivering a Catholic education even though the educators and student body were primarily not Catholic.

“Catholic schools educate from a faith perspective and for a faith perspective,” said Groome.

He said that the curriculum of a Catholic school should give students an academically rigorous, competent, and capable education that prepares them to make a living, but also prepares them to have a life grounded in some kind of faith perspective as they engage in the world.

He added that it doesn’t mean imposing Catholicism on students, but rather inviting students “to consider a spiritual grounding for their lives in the world that might make their lives a little more meaningful, worthwhile, purposeful, ethical, and might sustain them in the tough times.”

In the face of the declining presence of the ordained and vowed religious in Catholic schools, the key to maintaining the Catholicity, said Groome, is forming and nurturing teachers and staff in the deep values that undergird Catholic education and Catholicism, such as mercy, compassion, justice, integrity, truth-telling, care for the poor, respect, and care for the neighbor and the common good.

A Catholic school also needs its top person to be a spiritual leader who can articulate the school’s faith-based vision, with support from a cadre of faculty and staff who know the charism and can serve as custodians of the institution’s Catholic identity, Groome said.

Groome would like to see ‘What Makes Education Catholic’ become a catalyst for a fresh conversation among Catholic educators around the world.

In What Makes Education Catholic, Groome offers brief overviews of some of the important voices in the Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholicism with whom he feels Catholic educators should be familiar, such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Angela Merici, and Mary Ward. He shows how these foremothers and fathers of Catholic education can ground and shape the spirituality of Catholic educators in today’s postmodern world. These foundations ensure that Catholic schools deliver the education they promise to students—not only to Catholics but to those of many religious traditions. There are prompts throughout the text that encourage readers to engage in reflection and dialogue.

Catholic education is best realized in practice, added Groome. It is seen in “how teachers go about teaching and principals go about administering schools: the environment, the atmosphere, and values the school reflects in its own way of being.”

Groome has been teaching at Boston College since 1976. He is an award-winning author whose other publications include Educating for LifeWhat Makes Us CatholicWill There Be Faith?Faith for the Heart, and a widely-used textbook series.

Groome would like to see What Makes Education Catholic become a catalyst for a fresh conversation among Catholic educators around the world. Since the book’s launch, Groome has been contacted by educators from Canada to Australia who are interested in getting What Makes Education Catholic into the hands of Catholic school teachers and principals.

“There is great purpose in Catholic schools; they are the Catholic Church’s contribution to the common good,” Groome concluded, “and they have never been more needed.”

From Boston College website By Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications | January 2022 | Used with permission.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 9, 2022


Pope creates 20 new cardinals, including San Diego bishop
“In a ceremony to create 20 new cardinals, Pope Francis encouraged the College of Cardinals to have the same spiritual zeal for all people, whether they are in positions of power or ordinary Christians. ‘A cardinal loves the church, always with that same spiritual fire, whether dealing with great questions or handling everyday problems, with the powerful of this world or those ordinary people who are great in God’s eyes,’ the pope said Aug. 20 during the consistory, a prayer service during which he personally welcomed 20 churchmen into the College of Cardinals. Those who have this apostolic zeal are compelled ‘by the fire of the Spirit to be concerned, courageously, with things great and small,’ he said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis exhorts San Diego’s McElroy, new cardinals to practice ‘unassuming power’
“Pope Francis on Aug. 27 elevated 20 Catholic prelates from around the world — including San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy — to the rank of cardinal, exhorting that those who are often referred to as princes of the church must instead exercise an ‘unassuming power’ and preach the Gospel with an openness to all people ‘without exception.’ ‘The Lord wants to bestow on us his own apostolic courage, his zeal for the salvation of every human being, without exception,’ Francis said. ‘He wants to share with us his magnanimity, his boundless and unconditional love, for his heart is afire with the mercy of the Father.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal McElroy’s elevation has ‘enormous significance’ for U.S. church
“As you can imagine, I am not often speechless. But when I finally reached the end of the receiving line at the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See’s residence to greet Cardinal Robert McElroy on Aug. 26, I couldn’t find the words. It has been three months since the news of his elevation to the cardinalate arrived — three months for it to sink in — and I was still not sure what to say. Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, knew what to say. ‘Ecstatic’ was how he described what so many Catholics were feeling at this moment. Wester spoke at a dinner for McElroy’s family and friends after the Mass of thanksgiving on Aug. 28. In discussions with pilgrims from San Diego, friends of McElroy’s from San Francisco or from college and seminary, and his brother bishops, ‘ecstatic’ was the exact word.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Poland’s Catholics complain of deep divide between clergy, laity
“A new report by the Polish bishops, summarizing the results of consultations with both the leadership and the rank and file of the Polish church, points to a deep division between clergy and laity and an urgent need to rebuild he relationship between the two groups. ‘It not a report about the state of the church,’ Archbishop Adrian Galbas, coordinator of the synodal process in Poland, told Crux, referring to a synthesis of the results of widespread consultations published Thursday (Aug. 25). ‘It’s a very personal document, giving an image of the church,’ Galbas said – and the image is fairly harsh.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com


Pope Francis’ big gamble: the Synod on Synodality
“Pope Francis’ synod on synodality, which will take place in October 2023, is the greatest gamble of this papacy. It may succeed in bringing greater unity to the church, or it could result in greater conflict and division. Synods under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were stage-managed affairs, where the agenda and debate were carefully controlled. Curial cardinals instructed the gathered bishops what topics could not be brought up or discussed. Although the purpose of the synod was to advise the pope, speakers spent most of their time quoting the pope to himself: ‘As you so wonderfully said …’” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Non-diocesan Catholic groups submit their own synod reports to the U.S. bishops
“Inmates, college students, climate activists, LGBTQ people, clergy sex abuse survivors, health care professionals, church reform advocates and older Catholics are among those who have participated in their own listening sessions for the grassroots consultation that has been held ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome. In all, 110 non-diocesan Catholic groups—universities, advocacy nonprofits, religious congregations, ministries and private associations of individuals, among others — submitted their own synodal ‘synthesis’ reports this year to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Julia McStravog, a consultant helping to coordinate the bishops’ synodal work.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Church at Crossroads: bishops, priests, and lay Catholics speak out
“The story of Jesus meeting a skeptical Samaritan woman at the well told in the Gospel of John is, for many Christians, a story of encountering Jesus and choosing his well as the source of eternal life. As the Irish Church faces a crossroads ahead, with many big decisions to be made, Bishop William Crean of the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne wonders what wells sustain the Irish people today. The increasingly secularized nation has found new watering holes after decades of Church scandals.” By Conor Capplis, The Irish Examiner

The CCCB submits its national Synod synthesis to the Holy See
“The first phase of the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ listening at the diocesan level, has concluded. Synthesis Reports were prepared by each of Canada’s four Regional Episcopal Assemblies – Western, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions. These four regional reports were then received by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and used to draft a national synthesis, which has been submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod of the Holy See on 15 August 2022. The national synthesis document is divided into 11 sections, collectively reflecting on the major themes of this process and the voices heard. This report is the culmination of a sincere listening exercise that occurred in every diocese across the country.” By The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholics see synod listening sessions as significant for the entire church
“Evangelizing the whole church, taking personal responsibility for the mission to evangelize, engaging youth and young adults better, accompanying families, asking parishes to become more welcoming, understanding the experience of LGBTQ+ Catholics and allowing more women in church leadership roles. These are some common themes that surfaced in a sampling of U.S. dioceses’ synthesis reports on listening sessions they held in preparation for the world Synod of Bishops on synodality in October 2023.” By Catholic News Service

Synodal process described as an invitation to leadership in the church
“The synodal process that is underway is an invitation to people in the Catholic Church to listen to each other and can lead to greater leadership by laypeople within the church, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, told a webinar audience. ‘One of the most important fundamental intentions of the synodal process around the world, and particularly the U.S., is that we really do need to learn how to listen to each other again. We may think we do, but we really don’t,’ Bishop Flores said Aug. 25. He made the comments during the online program assembled by the Catholic Apostolate Center and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Cardinal Grech: ‘Synodality, theme for reform of Roman Curia
“As the Cardinals of the universal Church arrive in the Vatican to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia, synodality will be an important element of their discussions. In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Mario Grech, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, made this observation as he discussed synodality in the Church. He was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference on Friday (Aug. 26) at the Holy See Press Office presenting the second phase of the synodal process: the Continental Phase of the Synod on synodality, on the theme ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.’” By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican News


Pope declares ‘zero tolerance’ for Catholic Church abuse, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending it
“Pope Francis says he has taken it on himself to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse, telling CNN’s partner channel CNN Portugal that he was ‘responsible that it doesn’t happen anymore.’ In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview in Rome last month, the Pontiff said the church had ‘zero tolerance’ for abuse and said that ‘a priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser.’ The church’s response to sex abuse scandals has become one of the defining themes of Francis’ time as Pope, and he told CNN Portugal that every case of abuse within the church ‘hurts’ him.” By Ivana Kotasová, CNN


Conservative cardinal calls for conclaves to be limited to Rome-based cardinals
“German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a once influential conservative prelate known to be at odds with several aspects of the Francis papacy, has asked that the right to vote in a conclave be limited to those residing in Rome. Brandmüller said that there are too many cardinals who come from faraway places, so they lack experience with the Roman Curia and do not know one another, making them vulnerable to lobbies attempting to push a specific candidate forward.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

World’s cardinals meet with Pope to reflect on Curia reform
“Just under 200 cardinals, out of the College’s 226, are participating on Monday and Tuesday (29-30 August) in closed-door meetings convened by Pope Francis to reflect on the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, the document reflecting the Pope’s reform of the Roman Curia. The event will most likely mark the Pope’s largest and most attended meeting with the College of Cardinals. In almost ten years of his pontificate, never has such a meeting been held, and such wide attendance was seen only eight years ago when the Pope called the synod on the family (2014-15), inviting some 180 Bishops and Cardinals.” By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News

New cardinal says opposition to Vatican II ‘not Catholic’
“England’s new cardinal says those who are ‘stubbornly opposing’ the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council are in danger of adopting a position that is no longer Catholic. Cardinal Arthur Roche, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, was among 20 prelates admitted to the College of Cardinals on Saturday, with 16 of them under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a future conclave. He has one of the most sensitive and demanding jobs in the Church’s central government, requiring him to work closely with the Pope and with the world’s bishops in overseeing Catholic worship.” By CathNews.com

New cardinals feel honored, humbled, ready to promote renewal of church
“Becoming a member of the broad, unique body of the College of Cardinals is both a great honor and an invitation to help promote a renewal of the Catholic Church’s mission of evangelization, some new cardinals said. With 20 newly created cardinals representing 16 countries, and with the entire college of 226 members representing more than 90 countries, some also said they see their elevation as a way to help their home dioceses better comprehend the universality of the Catholic Church.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


A proposed agenda for U.S. bishops
“In mid-November the American bishops, gathered in a general assembly, will choose a successor to Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles to serve a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A new vice president and chairmen of several conference committees also will be elected during the meeting. Except by the bishops themselves plus a handful of habitual bishop-watchers, the USCCB elections will probably not be much noted. But there are several issues of major importance for the future of the Church that need to be on the bishops’ agenda, and the results of the upcoming vote could go a long way to determining whether they make it there. Three issues in particular stand out.” By Russell Shaw, Our Sunday Visitor


Q&A with Sr. Marueen Geary, new president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
“Maureen Geary didn’t see herself joining religious life. In her late 20s, she was an attorney and an accountant at a great law firm where she was happy. But something kept telling her that her gifts could best be put to use with the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the sisters who taught her from second grade on. Finally, in 1987 at the age of 31, Geary joined the Order of Preachers as a candidate — but kept working part time at the law firm, just in case. Now, she is president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80% of the nuns and sisters in the United States.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


She was an early church deacon. Catholic women now want to reclaim her example.
“On Saturday (Sept. 3) Amman and 55 other pilgrims from four countries gather in Mexico City at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate St. Phoebe’s feast day. In the presence of an archbishop, several priests and nuns and a host of Catholic lay women, the pilgrims will honor the little-known saint who makes a solitary appearance in the New Testament’s Letter to the Romans as an associate of St. Paul and a female deacon of the early church.” By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service


Lay Vatican leadership reportedly key topic at pope’s meeting with world’s cardinals
“While an official communique at the end of Pope Francis’ Aug. 29-30 meeting with the world’s Catholic cardinals only said that participants ‘freely discussed many aspects,’ participants told NCR that discussions centered around the extent to which lay individuals can be granted authority in church governance, term limits for Vatican officials, and the city-state’s finances. While the gathering took place behind closed doors, participants from four different continents said in interviews that much of the meeting took place in small group discussions, similar to the format used at Vatican meetings of the Synod of Bishops.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican cardinal decries criticism of German ‘Synodal Way’ as ‘denunciation’
“The chief organizer of the Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality has decried as ‘denunciation’ the number of public criticism of the German ‘Synodal Way.’ Cardinal Mario Grech said he did ‘not agree with the method used by the critics’ of the German process in an interview with the German publication ‘Herder Thema.’ The secretary general for the Synod of Bishops added that he disapproved of the style: ‘I think a fraternal correction and dialogue is very positive. But why a public denunciation? It doesn’t help. It only polarizes further.’” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency


St. Louis Archdiocese continues planning to reduce 178 parishes to about 100 parishes
“Roman Catholics from throughout the St. Louis region are reluctant to cross highways and rivers to worship God in different places than they are accustomed to. That was one piece of feedback from a group of about 220 priests recently gathered to see dozens of potential ways to restructure parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. ‘It was a great first round of conversation,” the Rev. Christopher Martin, who is helping oversee the ‘All Things New’ initiative, told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday (Aug. 25) about the five-hour meeting.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Young Poles abandoning ‘frozen’ Catholic Church
“It is still one of Europe’s most Catholic countries but Poland is seeing a rapid secularization — particularly among younger generations. ‘The children on my courses barely know who Adam and Eve were,’ said Dawid Gospodarek, a journalist from the Catholic press agency who teaches ethics and religious culture at a school in Warsaw. According to the latest polls by the CBOS institute, 84 percent of Poles say they are Catholic and 42 percent say they are practicing. Among 18-24-year-olds, only 23 percent say they are practicing — compared to 69 percent in 1992.” By France24.com

New San Diego cardinal says political divisions are flowing into Church
“The only American in Pope Francis’s new crop of cardinals has pushed back against characterizations that he is somehow in rivalry with other local prelates who didn’t receive the red hat, saying such depictions are the result of a problematic polarization in U.S. Catholicism. Speaking to Crux during a sit-down interview in Rome, Cardinal-Designate Robert McElroy of San Diego, who will get his red hat from Pope Francis on Saturday (Aug. 27), said one of the most problematic trends in American Catholicism is ‘polarization along ideological lines, mostly within the Anglo community.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com


The ‘People of God’ and the continued battle over Vatican II
“‘The real problem with popes,’ a friend once said to me, ‘is that they die.’ What he meant was that no matter how consequential a particular papacy might be, it is still at the mercy of the next pope, who might have a radically different ecclesial agenda and a whole different set of emphases, theological and pastoral. And given the fact that the memory is a faculty which both remembers and forgets, with the forgetting often leading to a creative ‘misremembering’ (theologian Cyril O’Regan’s famous term) of the now past papacy, the door is left wide open for the revisionists to ply their trade in the interests of discrediting previous papacies in order to promote the agenda of the new guy in Rome.” By The Catholic World Report

A Eucharistic revival that renews the Church
“The Catholic bishops of the United States have launched a eucharistic revival over the next three years. Pope Francis has made a singular contribution to that effort with the recent release of his powerful and theologically rich apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, ‘Desiderio Desideravi’ (‘I have earnestly desired’). He tells us that his aim is to ‘invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration’ as a means of more fully appreciating ‘the beauty of the Christian celebration and its necessary consequences for the life of the Church.’” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, ChicagoCatholic.com

Rome consistory showed Pope Francis’ vision is taking root
“The Barque of Peter is currently floating along several currents. Pope Francis’ pontificate has brought about a renewed focus on pastoral theology, bringing the insights of the post-conciliar church in Latin America to the center of the universal church. It has placed concern for the environment at the heart of the church’s social teachings, and reoriented the work of the Roman Curia, as embodied in the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium. It has emphasized the church as the bearer of God’s tenderness, rather than as a bastion of doctrinal clarity. And, perhaps most importantly, it has revived synodality as a means of church governance.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


A lawsuit window for Pa. survivors of childhood sexual abuse could open as early as next May
“State legislative leaders are pledging to vote early next year on a constitutional amendment giving adults who say they survived sexual abuse as children two years to sue their alleged abusers and any institution that sheltered them. A 2018 Grand Jury report showed the statute of limitations may have closed for hundreds of Pennsylvanians who were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests as children decades ago. That report recommended lawmakers give all abuse survivors more time to sue.” By WITF.org


When words hurt instead of heal. What never to say to someone who has survived abuse by Catholic clergy
“As the daughter of a clergy abuse victim-survivor and a lay person who works for the Church, Jerri von den Bosch speaks often with fellow Catholics about her family’s experience with the abuse crisis: In June of 2021, I wrote 10 Things Never to Say to Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse that covered some of the hurtful things people sometimes say to clergy abuse survivors. Included were some more supportive things they might say instead. Many people read it and several clergy abuse survivors, including my mom, responded with additional things that they have heard from Catholics and would add to the list. I believe that most people who say these things are well intentioned; they are just not aware of how to walk with someone who has experienced trauma. So I present 6 Things Never to Say About Clergy Abuse Survivors, along with some things that you, as a supporter of abuse survivors, can say in response.” By Jerri von den Bosch, Milwaukee Independent


A priest left California after he was accused of sexual misconduct involving a parishioner. Now he’s in Fairbanks
“A Catholic priest who faced allegations in a civil lawsuit that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a ‘vulnerable’ adult parishioner is now working in Alaska. The Rev. Gerardus Hauwert arrived in Alaska this summer to serve Catholic parishes in the Fairbanks area, Robert Fath, vicar general of the Diocese of Fairbanks, announced to parishioners in an email in July. Hauwert is now a priest at Immaculate Conception Church, which describes itself as Interior Alaska’s oldest Catholic church.” By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News


Ruling that bankruptcy negates sexual abuse lawsuit is under challenge
“The Arizona Court of Appeals has agreed to hear arguments on whether federal bankruptcy law precludes a victim from suing the employers of the two Catholic priests who allegedly sexually abused her as a child several decades ago. The woman, referred to in court records as Jane HM Doe, is now about 50. She filed a nine-claim lawsuit in February 2020 against the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Phoenix, St. Mark Roman Catholic Parish Phoenix, and the Society of the Divine Savior USA Province concerning sexual abuse she alleges she suffered as a student at St. Mark in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” By Arizona Daily Independent


A Cheshire woman’s long wait to see her abuser named by the Springfield Diocese is over
“A year ago, Sheri Biasin of Cheshire was still waiting for the Catholic priest who molested her to be listed as ‘credibly accused’ by the Springfield Diocese. The diocese, in a spirit of disclosure and healing, had just changed its policy to include priests who died before those accusations surfaced. But that new and more complete list, released in June 2021, did not mention the Rev. Daniel Gill. Now it does. The diocese said Wednesday (Aug. 31) it added Gill to its online roster Aug. 1, ‘based on a credible finding by the diocesan Review Board.’ By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Diocese issues quarterly report on update to list of credibly accused clergy
“As part of its ongoing commitment to provide regular communications regarding its Safe Environment efforts, the Diocese of Springfield is today (Sept. 6) issuing a quarterly report on an update made to the online listing of ‘Finding of Credibility of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.’ On Aug. 1, 2022, the name of the late Father Daniel L. Gill was added to the list based on a credible finding by the diocesan Review Board. Father Gill was ordained in 1958 and passed away in 1995. The abuse reported in this allegation dates back to 1967 to 1971 and involved a minor.” By IObserve.org

Former St. Mary’s pastor named among ‘credibly accused priests’
“A priest who once worked at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Padanaram is among those added to the Diocese of Fall River’s list of ‘credibly accused’ clergy last week. The diocese said the Rev. John Gomes, who retired from St. Mary’s in 2012, is accused of sexually abusing a minor. The alleged abuse happened ‘decades ago’ and did not occur at St. Mary’s or involve the parish, Rev. David Frederici said. Gomes also served in Fall River, Somerset, and Taunton, according to the diocese.” By Morgan Beard, Dartmouth Week

New Bedford priest accused of sexually abusing boy in Massachusetts and Maine
“A former altar boy and student at St. Anthony of Padua School is accusing a former priest of sexually abusing him in the rectory, in his car, and during an overnight trip to Maine more than 30 years ago. The Diocese of Fall River from the ministry in February and added his name to the list of clergy who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of children. Now, an Acushnet man is alleging that Degagne had molested him repeatedly when he was 12 and 13 years old in 1988 and 1989.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe, on Boston.com

Man who went to Arlington Catholic High School sues three former archdiocese officials he says hired the vice principal he charges molested him
“A former student at Arlington Catholic High School yesterday (Aug. 25) sued two former priests in the Archdiocese of Boston – and a third, as yet unidentified priest – whom he blames in part for the times he says the school’s then vice principal came into the room where he was serving detention and molested him. The suit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday (Aug. 25) by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has spent much of the last 20 years in  both in the Archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere.” By UniversalHub.com


Roman Catholic priest gets record expunged in dropped St. Louis sodomy case
“A St. Louis judge Thursday (Aug. 25) granted a Roman Catholic priest’s petition to expunge his 2014 arrest record in a St. Louis statutory sodomy case dropped by city prosecutors in 2015.

Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser found that the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang, 39, had met his legal burden to have the April 2014 arrest record expunged. Police arrested Jiang based on a boy’s accusation that Jiang molested him in the restroom at St. Louis the King school, the elementary school at the Cathedral Basilica.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Diocese objects to 74 non-diocesan claims
“On July 22, the Diocese of Rochester filed objections asking the court to disallow and expunge 74 claims (including several duplicates) asserted in its chapter 11 bankruptcy case. In an affidavit filed with the bankruptcy court, Father Daniel J. Condon, diocesan chancellor, noted that ‘A number of claims allege that the survivor was abused by a member of a religious order, a lay employee, volunteer, resident or student of a school or facility owned and operated by a religious order or other non-Diocesan entity.’’ By Karen M. Franz, Catholic Courier

With little explanation, diocese has reinstated 17 priests accused of sexual abuse
“Seventeen of the 29 Buffalo Diocese priests put on administrative leave since 2018 due to a sex abuse allegation involving a minor were later allowed to resume their priestly activities. The diocese publicized the priests’ returns to ministry by stating that a review board had examined the claims and found them to be ‘not substantiated.’ Diocese officials maintain that the review process is rigorous, independent and designed to protect children from potential abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

New York Archdiocese goes to court to block probe of sex abuse involving Bishop Howard Hubbard
“The Archdiocese of New York has gone to court to keep under wraps hundreds of pages of records involving an Albany bishop accused of sexually abusing children. The records pertaining to Howard Hubbard, who served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany between 1977 and 2014, are being sought in connection with a lawsuit brought against him and another former priest. Both have been accused of numerous child sex abuse claims, according to an Albany Times Union report. Hubbard has vigorously denied the allegations, and the former priest — Francis Melfe — is now dead.” By Isabel Vincent, New York Daily Post


Yakima diocese priest arrested for rape
“A Yakima Diocese priest has been arrested in Benton County on suspicion of third-degree rape with an aggravating factor of being a person of trust. Reverend Tomás Vázquez Téllez, 49, was arrested on Wednesday, Sept. 7th. He is now in the Benton County Jail awaiting his charges. The arrest follows a Kennewick Police Department investigation of a reported rape that occurred August 19th and 20th at the suspect’s home in the city.” By KIMA-TV News


‘We have to hold people to justice’: Clergy abuse victim opens up; AG Kaul shares what the state is doing
“As a number of protesters gathered outside of Rembert Weakland’s funeral, who was archbishop of Milwaukee from 1977 to 2002 after a sexual abuse scandal, a survivor of clergy abuse is speaking up and his concern with the statewide Clergy and Faith Leaders Abuse initiative. ‘We have to hold people to justice no matter who they are,’ said Peter Isely, director of Nate’s Mission and survivor of clergy abuse. At just 13 years old, Isely said his abuse began less than a week after attending a minor seminary. The abuse done by one of his faith leaders.” By Yukare Nakayama, KAKE.com

Victims of clergy sexual abuse to hold press conference objecting to public funeral celebrating former Archbishop Robert Weakland
“In 2019, the Archdiocese removed Weakland’s name and statue from the downtown Cathedral acknowledging his guilt in protecting abusive clergy. This is why victims expected a private funeral mass after the announcement of his death last week. But Archbishop Listecki rejected this option in favor of a public celebration, inviting city leaders, the public, and the press to attend. During his tenure as Archbishop of Milwaukee, Weakland transferred dozens of known sex offenders into new assignments where they were warmly welcomed by trusting Catholic families. These offenders then proceeded to abuse their children.” News Release from NatesMission.org


Families of clergy abuse victims’ new legal precedent paves way for litigation
“A Supreme Court ruling in relation to a lawsuit levelled against the Catholic Church has been heralded as a potential new precedent for loved ones of alleged victims of clergy abuse. The court this week ruled the Catholic Church could not use a legal argument pertaining to the so-called Ellis defense. The defense was named for choirboy and prevented abuse survivors from suing unincorporated organizations such as the church.” By Laura Mayers, ABC Ballarat


Sex misconduct suit hangs over Ouellet
“Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s legal battle over allegations he made unwanted sexual advances toward a young intern over a decade ago might place him between the Church’s Code of Canon Law and Canadian law. Between the Church’s long and complex tradition of law and Canada’s common law system, there’s not much agreement on what constitutes sexual assault or how allegations are investigated and brought to trial, one of Canada’s most senior canonists told The Catholic Register, Msgr. Roch Pagé, professor emeritus of Canon Law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.” By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Though Harper government agreed to ‘forever discharge’ Catholic Church of settlement obligation more can be done
“A 2015 decision by Canada may have released the Catholic entities from their $25 million settlement for residential school survivors, but that doesn’t mean the Catholic corporation still can’t do something substantial, says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, chair of the Governing Circle for the National Truth and ‘Maybe it’s not going to be $25 million. Maybe it’s going to be the churches are going to say ‘in lieu of the money, maybe we can do something … about the Doctrine of Discovery’, because that was very much part of the discussion when the Pope was here,’ said Wesley-Esquimaux.” By Shari Narine, Regina Leader-Post


Catholic Church reveals list of 26 alleged pedophile priests in Columbia
“The Catholic Church in Colombia has released the names of 26 priests who were investigated for alleged sexual abuse of minors there, local media reported Saturday (Aug. 27). The Archdiocese of Medellin revealed the list of those accused between 1995 and 2019 in response to a court ruling in favor of Juan Pablo Barrientos, a journalist investigating an alleged network of pedophile clergy. “Most of these priests … were suspended for a little while, and went back to being priests again,” said Barrientos, who has been investigating sexual assaults by priests for years, in a video released Saturday (Aug. 27).” By Agence France-Presse on MacauBusiness.com


Priests transferred by German diocese continued to abuse
“A German diocese transferred priests who were alleged or convicted perpetrators of abuse to new locations in and outside the diocese, where they reoffended against young people and children, according to a new report. German Catholic news agency KNA said the independent commission’s interim report on abuse in the diocese from 1946 to 2021 showed 513 victims of abuse in the Trier Diocese’s area of responsibility ‘could be identified by name or anonymously’ for the period from 1946 to 2021.’In a large number of cases at least … no measures were taken on the part of the diocese to protect potential victims from sexual abuse,’ the commission said.” By CathNews.com


I once looked up to my uncle, the Jesuit priest and teacher – then I discovered the monstrous truth
“On a summer evening in the first decade of the new millennium, I had arranged to meet a friend at a gastropub in London. I walked into the large, open-plan room, a crowd already at the counter. There was no sign of my friend, so I went to the bar to get a drink while I waited. ‘You next?’ asked the man beside me. He had traces of silver in his hair, somewhere in his 50s. ‘No, after you,’ I said, before we started to chat. I told him my name. I wasn’t expecting what came next.” By David Orr, The Guardian


Every single victim of this monster deserves justice, says brave abuse survivor as more complaints against ‘Fr. Filth’
“Evil pedophile and former ‘singing priest’ Fr Tony Walsh is at the center of five new complaints to Gardai, The Irish Sun on Sunday (Aug. 28) can reveal. The fiend — now known as ‘Fr Filth’ — is being investigated by the Protective Services Bureau over the abuse of five boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Statements have now been taken by the abuse victims and a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.” By Stephen Breen, The Irish Sun


Nicaraguan judge sentences priest to 49 years for rape
“A judge in Nicaragua sentenced a Roman Catholic priest to 49 years in prison Friday (Sept. 2) for the rape of a 14-year-old girl. Judge Edén Aguilar Castro sentenced Rev. José Leonardo Urbina to 24 years in prison on two counts of abuse and 25 years for one count of rape. However, Aguilar Castro ruled that Urbina would serve only 30 years. Nicaraguan law limits maximum sentences in most cases to 30 years.” By Associated Press

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It’s Not about the Furniture

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz, “Give Us This Day”

The commitment of Pope Francis to church reform is real and profound but widely misunderstood. Understandably, many of us think about church reform in a strictly institutional key. We want to change structures, laws, and policies in the light of basic Gospel values. Pope Francis is not opposed to structural reform; indeed, he has made considerable progress on that front. But for Francis, reform is not simply a matter of rearranging ecclesial furniture; it is about becoming a different kind of church. And the term he most frequently invokes in describing what that different kind of church looks like is “synodality.”

The word “synod” comes from the Greek synodos and means “a shared journey.” Francis imagines a church bound together as a people on a common journey. What marks that journey is a shared commitment to discipleship, a determination to follow Christ where he leads through the impulse of the Spirit. Consequently, synodality entails a spirituality that attunes us to the gentle voice of the Spirit heard in scripture, tradition, and in the lives of those we accompany along the way. This synodal spirituality has two essential features: vulnerable encounter and openness to conversion.

An authentic synodal spirituality impels us toward an authentic encounter with others. We can grasp something of this spirituality by way of the Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber. Buber contended there was no such thing as an autonomous “I.” We are always implicated in relationships. We spend much of our lives in what he referred to as “I-It” relationships, that is, relationships in which we place people and things in categories that predetermine and constrain how we engage them. So, when I go to a restaurant and order a meal, I am inclined to address the person taking my order as nothing more than a “waiter.” This is natural and often unavoidable but, by placing that person in a predetermined box, much of who they really are is filtered out in advance.

Yet Buber also suggests we are capable of entering into an “I-Thou” relationship. In this relationship, I abandon the categories and presuppositions that predispose me to engage you as “a certain kind of person.” I am invited to simply be present to you in all your marvelously mysterious and idiosyncratic depth. I allow your deepest truth to emerge in our interaction. This relationship is inherently vulnerable as we risk hearing insights and perspectives that may differ from and even challenge our own. Having acknowledged our differences and recognized even deep disagreements, the I-Thou relationship requires a faith that admits there might emerge from our encounter something holy, something of God.

This synodal encounter may also call us to conversion. We may have to abandon the impulse to foreclose honest listening prematurely. We may have to confront a deeply engrained instinct to defend the distinctive attitudes and convictions that mark our particular “tribe,” often at the expense of getting at the deep truth of things. We will have to learn to listen, not for a confirmation of our own “rightness,” but for the gentle voice of the Spirit.

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and the author of numerous books, including By What Authority? Most recently, he is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Vatican II.

From the September 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, www.giveusthisday.org (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.

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Cardinal McElroy’s elevation has ‘enormous significance’ for U.S. church / National Catholic Reporter

The Catholics whose hearts have been warmed and encouraged by (Cardinal Robert) McElroy’s leadership for many years were among those ‘ecstatic’ at the appointment.

Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

“As you can imagine, I am not often speechless. But when I finally reached the end of the receiving line at the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See’s residence to greet Cardinal Robert McElroy on Aug. 26, I couldn’t find the words. It has been three months since the news of his elevation to the cardinalate arrived — three months for it to sink in — and I was still not sure what to say.

“Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, knew what to say. ‘Ecstatic’ was how he described what so many Catholics were feeling at this moment. Wester spoke at a dinner for McElroy’s family and friends after the Mass of thanksgiving on Aug. 28. In discussions with pilgrims from San Diego, friends of McElroy’s from San Francisco or from college and seminary, and his brother bishops, ‘ecstatic’ was the exact word.  

“For progressive Catholics, McElroy has been one of a handful of bishops who would go the extra mile, make statements of support for gay Catholics, push back against conservative efforts to hijack church teaching for political ends and participate in conferences on climate change. The Catholics whose hearts have been warmed and encouraged by McElroy’s leadership for many years were among those ‘ecstatic’ at the appointment.

“For Catholic intellectual leaders, ‘ecstatic’ was the right word too. ‘It is something of a truism that theologians and bishops live in different bubbles,’ Jesuit Fr. Mark Massa, director of the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College, told me. ‘The person who was best able to burst those bubbles was John Courtney Murray. Well before Vatican II, Murray saw the complexities and the promise of being a faithful Catholic in America. Most intellectuals I talk to, are delighted that McElroy is now a cardinal because he did serious intellectual work on Murray at the beginning of his ecclesiastical career.'”

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Aug. 26, 2022


Report: Catholic clergy’s unquestioned – and uneducated – power spurs abuse
“A new report based on interviews with some 300 Catholic priests, nuns and laypeople concludes that clergy aren’t adequately prepared to wield the power they exercise and need more education on questions of sex and gender. The report, ‘Beyond Bad Apples: Understanding Clericalism as a Structural Problem & Cultivating Strategies for Change,’ released Monday (Aug. 15), explores the links between clericalism — clergy’s focus on its authority — and clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

In synod reports, U.S. Catholics call for women’s leadership, LGBTQ welcoming
“More than a half million U.S. Catholics have participated in synodal listening sessions over the past year as part of Pope Francis’ two-year process of grassroots listening ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome, and responses indicate that many Americans want a more welcoming church that reaches out to the marginalized, especially the LGBTQ community, and that allows women to serve in leadership positions, including ordained ministry. A review of more than a dozen synodal ‘synthesis’ reports, posted online by dioceses across the country, also indicates that most Catholics are tired of the polarization in the church; believe that clerics need to do a better job communicating and involving the laity in ecclesial governance; and appreciate the opportunity to be heard, even if they harbor misgivings about what the Synod on Synodality will ultimately accomplish.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

South African bishop supports ordaining married men to priesthood to increase access to sacraments
“The Catholic Church teaches that the Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’ For at least one South African bishop, this teaching raises concerns about the global and local priest shortage that means some Catholics receive the Eucharist once a month or less. ‘This is where I would enter the debate,’ said Bishop Sithembele Sipuka of Mthatha Diocese, a rare voice among the African Catholic hierarchy to voice his support for ordaining ‘proven married men’ to the priesthood.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Prominent cardinal named in sexual assault lawsuit against archdiocese of Quebec
“The name of a prominent Vatican cardinal, who is regarded as a potential successor to Pope Francis, appears on a list made public as part of a new class action against the archdiocese of Quebec, Radio-Canada’s investigative program Enquête has found. Cardinal Marc Ouellet, who was the archbishop of Quebec when the Truth and Reconciliation Commission was taking place, is among some 88 members of the clergy who are facing allegations of sexual assault. It’s the first time Ouellet’s name appears in the legal proceedings.” By CBC News


Should a member of the clergy report sex abuse of the penitent? A look inside the priest-penitent privilege in all 50 states
“Priests, pastors and bishops from various faiths say both sides of an apparent collision of ideals are sacred to them: protecting children from all forms of abuse, and keeping confessions confidential so penitents feel safe and motivated to acknowledge and stop their sinful — and sometimes criminal — behavior. The tension between doctrines about confessions and the impulse to protect children through mandatory reporting laws raises important legal, societal and religious questions about how religious leaders try to focus on and prioritize rescuing victims of abuse while also providing spiritual help to the person who has confessed.” By Tad Walch, Deseret News

Can the Catholic Church claim immunity from abuse lawsuits because it is a charity?
“When a man in Springfield sued the Catholic Church over abuse he said he suffered at the hands of a bishop in the 1960s, the church tried to use a now-abolished law to claim it cannot be sued because of its status as a nonprofit organization. GBH News legal analyst and Northeastern University Law Professor Daniel Medwed joined Morning Edition hosts Paris Alston and Jeremy Siegel to talk about how the Supreme Judicial Court ruled in that case, along with a few other summer rulings.” By Paris Alston, Jeremy Siegel and Daniel Medwed


In Asia and the Amazon, the synod gives voice to Catholics on the margins
“You have probably heard a lot about the synodal process in Germany, where, depending on whom you ask, everything is proceeding as planned or the Catholic world is about to implode, and you may be following the process in the United States or just in your home diocese. It is likely, however, that you have heard a great deal less about what the ‘synod on synodality’ has so far meant in other parts of the world. As the diocesan phase of the synod ended on Aug. 15, America touched base with some well-informed sources for insight into how the synod has gone so far in the Amazon region and Asia.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Whose voices will be heard?
“It’s the Sunday after St. Patrick’s Day, and I’m on the wooded campus of Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minnesota, to learn how to listen. The all-male Saint John’s has a partner school six miles away, the women’s College of Saint Benedict. I’d been up here a few weeks before to walk around St. Benedict’s ‘brother campus’ with a girlfriend. We both had some loose ties to the place but still felt like outsiders visiting as we walked around on our own, lamenting the structural inequalities and other issues that can make it hard to see ourselves remaining part of the Church.” By Gabriella Wilke, Commonweal

How to make the church synodal? Inclusion, say respondents in three countries.
“Catholics on two different continents want more inclusion — including of women and LGBTQ Catholics — more adult faith formation and help with engaging young adults. The Vatican set a deadline of Aug. 15 for dioceses and Eastern Catholic churches to release syntheses of the listening sessions set up as part of preparation for the 2023 Synod of Bishops on synodality.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

I reviewed all of my diocese’s synod responses. Three missing elements could point the way forward for the church.
“As one of the coordinators of our archdiocesan consultation process for the Synod on Synodality in Chicago, I faced the daunting task of going through a foot-high stack of papers that represented the voices of many people. I read and eventually tried to synthesize everything that had been submitted. In the process, I gained a deeper understanding of synodality as well as a sense of the tasks and challenges that face us in the church.” By Louis J. Cameli, America: The Jesuit Review

Campaigners hope report sent to Vatican will result in radical reform of Church in Ireland
“Campaigners for reform of the Catholic Church in Ireland are hoping a landmark report sent to the Vatican will help bring about radical change to an institution they see as increasingly out of touch. Advocates for change within the church are hopeful the report advocates for major reform on the role of women, the ability of priests to marry, and a greater recognition of the rights of the LGBTQ+ community. Pope Francis called a Universal Synod last year which — for the first time — aimed to gather feedback at all levels of the Church in every parish on its future.” By Conor Carplis, Irish Examiner

Swiss bishops’ Synod report: Catholic Church denies equality to women and excludes LGBT people
“On Monday (Aug. 15), the Swiss Bishops’ Conference published a document for the upcoming Synod on Synodality in Rome reporting the Catholic Church was seen as suffering from clericalism —as well as ‘denying equality to women’ and excluding ‘people with LGBTQ identity.’ ‘Several official church positions on the role of women in church and society, on sexuality and lifestyles are perceived as pejorative and exclusionary,’ the Swiss report said according to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

Synod reports from around the world raise clericalism, women as issues
“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead. Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church. If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Synod report details US bishops’ avoidance of church teaching on creation care
“The story starts off simple enough. A woman starts a social justice group at her Catholic parish. During one particular meeting, she begins to talk about ‘Laudato Si,’ on Care for Our Common Home, Pope Francis’ 2015 encyclical on ecology. But she was quickly cut off. ‘We shouldn’t rock the boat,’ she said her pastor told her, as he felt the papal teaching document, the first ever devoted entirely to issues of the environment and humanity’s relationship with the rest of the created world, was too controversial.” By Brian Rowe, EarthBeat, National Catholic Reporter

Australian synthesis for global Synod of Bishops published
“Catholics in Australia have expressed a strong need for a Church that is missionary and a Eucharistic community that is inclusive, the national synthesis for the global Synod on Synodality reveals. The Australian synthesis, which emerged from a nine-month process that began in October 2021, draws from the diocesan consultation phase for the Synod of Bishops. Earlier this year, Australian dioceses published a report on the findings of their local consultation – a process that every diocese around the world undertook. The National Centre for Pastoral Research prepared the national synthesis based on those diocesan reports.” By CathNews.com

‘Too harsh’ and ‘out of step’: Survey finds NJ Catholic want a more inclusive church
“Thousands of New Jersey Catholics gathered over the past year in an unprecedented series of meetings designed to help steer the future of the church. The consensus, officials say, was clear: The Catholic Church needs to open its arms more to women, immigrants, LGBTQ individuals and others who feel marginalized by the faith. The desire for more inclusivity was a major theme in discussions with 16,000 parishioners in four of New Jersey’s Catholic dioceses, according to summaries released recently by each diocese. While responses varied widely, many at the listening sessions said they too often feel unwelcome. Participants also cited distress at the church’s handling of the clergy abuse scandal.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com

Conservative criticism of synodality suggests Pope Francis’ process might be working
“A recent article about synodality at First Things magazine by Francis Maier, the longtime amanuensis to former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput, displays a rhetorical trick that has become a staple of some conservative political operatives and their media hangers-on: Focus on your opponent’s strength, and muddy the waters by claiming it is really his or her weakness. The attack is noteworthy because the opponent Maier has selected is Pope Francis.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


Pope wants dialogue with bishops about the church’s ministries
“Fifty years have passed since St. Paul VI instituted the ministries of lector and acolyte, opening them to the laity, and Pope Francis wants a formal ‘dialogue’ with the world’s bishops’ conferences to discuss their experiences with the ongoing promotion of the church’s ministries so they foster unity and evangelization. The pope made the proposal for dialogue in a message published by the Vatican Aug. 24 and dated Aug. 15 — the 50th anniversary of his predecessor’s apostolic letter, ‘Ministeria quaedam.’ That document from 1972 determined that ‘minor orders’ be called ‘ministries’ and that these ministries — lector and acolyte — be open to laymen and no longer reserved only to candidates for ordination.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Newest U.S. cardinal: a San Diego-based ally of Pope Francis
“When San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy receives his prestigious red hat at the Vatican on Saturday (Aug. 27), he will bring to the College of Cardinals a fervent loyalty to Pope Francis that has often put him at odds with the conservative majority in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. McElroy, 68, is the only American among the 21 clerics being installed as cardinals by Francis in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Basilica. He was chosen over numerous higher-ranking American archbishops, including two from his home state — outspoken conservative Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco and José Gomez of Los Angeles, the president of the U.S. bishops’ conference.” By David Cray, Associated Press

Reform of Vatican Curia to be considered at meeting of cardinals
“When the world’s cardinals meet in Rome beginning Saturday (Aug. 27), Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals, then ask them and their new colleagues in the College of Cardinals to discuss his plans for reforming the Vatican Curia, the bureaucracy that helps him govern the Catholic Church. This will give the cardinals a chance to say what they like or dislike about the operations of the Curia and the recent reforms Francis has instituted. It will also give them a chance to get to know one another in preparation for the conclave to elect a new pope when Francis dies — or retires.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Carinal at the center of Vatican trial claims he has been ‘reinstated’ by Pope
“The Italian cardinal at the center of a historic Vatican trial about corruption and mismanagement, said on Sunday that Pope Francis had invited him to the consistory for the creation of 21 new cardinals, to be held on Saturday, Aug. 27, in Rome. ‘On Saturday, the pope phoned me to tell me that I will be reinstated in my cardinal duties and to ask me to participate in a meeting with all the cardinals that will be held in the coming days in Rome,’ Cardinal Angelo Becciu reportedly said Sunday (Aug. 21), during a private Mass celebrated before a group of faithful in Italy’s Golfo Aranci, where he is vacationing.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

Report on Cologne cardinal’s PR strategy prompts renewed controversy
“A recent report on the public relations strategy used by Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki during a clerical sex abuse scandal has provoked renewed controversy, even after the cardinal’s March return from his six-month sabbatical initiated by Pope Francis, reported the German Catholic news agency KNA. Tim Kurzbach, president of the Diocesan Council of Catholics in the Archdiocese of Cologne, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper Aug. 15 the cardinal should take another, longer sabbatical. ‘I hope that someone will now soon take responsibility in the interests of the people in the Archdiocese of Cologne,’ Kurzbach said.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com


Catholic women urge Vatican to sign Europe rights convention
“A consortium of Catholic women’s groups is calling on the Holy See to join the Council of Europe and to sign the European Convention on Human Rights, arguing that the Vatican should show consistency by expressing its firm commitment to protecting human rights. In a petition marking the Human Rights Day declared by the United Nations, the groups said the Holy See is recognized internationally as a sovereign state and presents itself as a firm promotor of human rights and dignity. Yet they noted the Vatican hasn’t followed up by adhering to the European Convention, regarded as the gold standard for rights protections around the world.” By Associated Press on ArabNews.com


Reform of Vatican Curia to be considered at meeting of cardinals
“When the world’s cardinals meet in Rome beginning Saturday (Aug. 27), Pope Francis will create 21 new cardinals, then ask them and their new colleagues in the College of Cardinals to discuss his plans for reforming the Vatican Curia, the bureaucracy that helps him govern the Catholic Church. This will give the cardinals a chance to say what they like or dislike about the operations of the Curia and the recent reforms Francis has instituted. It will also give them a chance to get to know one another in preparation for the conclave to elect a new pope when Francis dies — or retires.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Packed program, heated debate await Synodal Path plenary participants
“Participants will face a packed agenda and heated debate at the upcoming fourth plenary assembly of the Synodal Path reform project on the future of the Catholic Church in Germany. At their meeting Sept. 8-10 in Frankfurt, the approximately 230 delegates will discuss 14 papers. These include texts on church sexual morality, the role of priests, the participation of women and the mandatory celibacy of Catholic priests. Another text advocates the establishment of a synodal council in the Catholic Church in Germany. Made up of bishops and laypeople, it would be a permanent ‘advisory and decision-making body.’ That and other plans discussed in the Synodal Path have encountered strong opposition from more conservative Catholics and are also being viewed critically in the Vatican.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter


Pope Francis instructs Vatican entities to move all funds to Vatican bank by Sept. 30
“Pope Francis has ordered that the Holy See and connected entities move all financial assets to the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), commonly known as the Vatican bank. The pope’s rescript, issued Aug. 23, clarifies the interpretation of a paragraph in the new constitution of the Roman Curia, Praedicate Evangelium, promulgated in March. According to Francis’ rescript, financial and liquid assets held in banks other than the IOR must be moved to the Vatican bank within 30 days of Sept. 1, 2022.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency


Opinion: Still no progress on statute of limitations reform for sex abuse victims
“Three years ago, the Rev. Geoffrey Drew was arrested on nine counts of child rape, and local parents still see no efforts to protect their children. At the time, Drew was the pastor of St. Ignatius of Loyola in Green Township, which gave him superintendent-like authority over the largest parochial elementary school in Ohio. After his arrest, we learned that Archdiocese of Cincinnati employees were aware of Drew’s three decades-long and three Ohio countywide pattern of red flag behavior with children.” By Teresa Dinwiddie-Hermann, The Cincinnati Enquirer


The healing and causes of childhood sexual abuse
“There are few people in the world or in the Philippines who have not been physically, verbally, psychologically or sexually hurt and abused in their childhood. They have been emotionally damaged, and they carry the hurt and do not totally forget it. They are the brave victims/survivors — children and adults — of human family life. Their parents are likely to have been abused also and vented their pain and anger onto their children. The cycle of domestic violence and child abuse continues into the next generation.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, The Manila Times


Advocate for victims of clergy abuse plans demonstration in North Attleboro
“The co-founder of a group that advocates for victims of clergy abuse is planning a demonstration and a call for ‘transparency’ Friday (Aug. 12) in the case of a local Catholic pastor suspended while being investigated for alleged misconduct. The allegations against the Rev. Rodney Thibault do not involve a minor, the Diocese of Fall River has said, but that’s not enough for Robert M. Hoatson, president of the New Jersey-based group Road to Recovery.” By The Sun Chronicle


Former Minnesota priest charged with sexual assault
“A former Catholic priest is accused of sexually assaulting another person in Winona County in December 2020. Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, of Rushmore, Minn., was charged last week in Winona County District Court with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on a victim without their consent. His first court appearance is scheduled for Sept. 8.” By Trey Mewes, Minneapolis Star Tribune


Bergen priest accused of sexual misconduct is reassigned to Newark with inquire closed
“A Catholic priest who stepped aside from his Westwood church four years ago amid sexual assault allegations has reemerged at a church resource center in Newark that serves abuse victims, pregnant women and other vulnerable populations. The Rev. Jim Weiner, who took a leave of absence from the Church of St. Andrew in 2018 amid decades-old allegations, has been reassigned to the Mercy House in Newark, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark confirmed this week. The archdiocese said an investigation into the accusations against Weiner had closed, but it offered no further details.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com


‘I was a wreck’: Former Cincinnati priest’s rape victim shares his story of pain recovery and hope
“After living in a ‘hell’ created by the Catholic music minister who raped him more than 30 years ago, Paul Neyer told police in July 2019 that he was ready to file criminal charges against his rapist, Geoff Drew, who had become pastor of one of the Cincinnati area’s largest parishes. ‘I felt like I had an obligation to protect kids,’ Neyer told the WCPO 9 I-Team. Based on Neyer’s emotional testimony, a Hamilton County Grand Jury indicted Drew on 9 counts of rape. If convicted, there was a chance Drew would live the rest of his life in prison.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News


Sex abuse case against retired priest dropped by Allegheny Count DA’s office
“The Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office on Tuesday (Aug. 9) withdrew charges against a Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in 2001. The paperwork dismissing the case against the Rev. Hugh Lang, 92, said it was being done in the best interest of the alleged victim. Lang was a priest at St. Therese in Munhall when police said he abused the boy. Authorities charged Lang in 2019 with indecent assault, indecent exposure, corruption of minors and attempted aggravated indecent assault.” By Paula Reed Ward, TribLive.com

Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg announces agreement I principle on final settlement with sex abuse survivors
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg said Thursday (Aug. 11) it has reached an agreement to settle any still-pending historic child sex abuse claims lodged against its priests or other church personnel as part of a plan to end the diocese’s Chapter 11 reorganization under federal bankruptcy laws. Final terms of the settlement were not immediately available Thursday night, including the total cost of all payments to creditors. PennLive’s attempts to reach attorneys for both the church and its creditor committee were not immediately successful.” By Charles Thompson, Patriot-News, on PennLive.com


Ongoing coverage of the Catholic Church, misconduct, and abuse by clergy in Rhode Island
“State prosecutors are conducting a review of more than 100,000 documents related to the sexual abuse of children that have been turned over by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence. Read Globe Rhode Island’s ongoing coverage of the Catholic Church, misconduct, and abuse by clergy.” By The Boston Globe


Two Utah lawmakers seek to end ‘clergy exception’ to child abuse reporting
“Two Utah lawmakers have asked legislative attorneys to draft bills seeking to end the ‘clergy exception’ to required child abuse reporting. Rep. Phil Lyman, R-Blanding, and Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, have each opened bill files to be considered during the Utah Legislature’s 2023 general session. In 2020, Romero introduced HB90, seeking to eliminate the clergy exception in state statute. The bill was numbered and introduced but was held in the House Rules Committee. The two plan to work cooperatively during the next legislative session, Romero said.” By Marjorie Cortez, Deseret News


Victim of Bisop Zanchetta: ‘Don’t turn your back on us; we didn’t deserve such treatment’
“A former seminarian and victim of the bishop emeritus of Oran, Argentina, Gustavo Zanchetta — who was sentenced to prison for sexual abuse in Argentina — asked the Catholic Church not to turn its back on him. On Aug. 12, ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, interviewed G.C., a 28-year-old former seminarian and one of Zanchetta’s victims, after the bishop was allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest in July.” By Walter Sanchez Silva, Catholic News Agency


Australian court rules family of deceased choirboyt can sue Catholic church
“A Victorian judge has dismissed a claim by lawyers for the Catholic church that they were not liable to pay compensation to the father of a choirboy who alleged he had been sexually abused by Cardinal George Pell. The father of a deceased former choirboy is suing Pell and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne, claiming he suffered psychological injury after learning his son had allegedly been sexually abused by Pell. Justice Michael McDonald ruled in the Victorian supreme court on Wednesday that legislation passed in 2018 that was designed to prevent unincorporated organisations – such as religious organisations – from relying on a legal technicality to avoid civil lawsuits applied to the father’s case.” By Nino Bucci, Australian Associated Press, in The Guardian

Ex-Catholic brother faces abuse charges
“A boy rejected attempts by a Catholic brother to tuck him into bed during a home prayer meeting thinking it was ‘weird and strange,’ a court has been told. But prosecutors allege the boy’s brother was indecently treated by Frank Terrence Keating the same night. The alleged victim and family members testified in the 79-year-old former Catholic brother’s committal hearing in Brisbane Magistrates Court on Monday (Auf. 15). Keating is charged with 18 counts that include indecent dealing, indecent treatment and carnal knowledge of any person against the order of nature.” By Cheryl Goodenough, Brisbane Times


Clergy sex abuse blogger decides to shut down ‘Syliva’s Site’
“An Ottawa woman who has devoutly catalogued the clergy sexual abuse scandal in Canada for more than a decade has decided to shut down her encyclopedic blog known as Sylvia’s Site. In a recent post, Sylvia MacEachern said she will no longer update the site or allow people to post comments because of concerns that she ‘may be doing more harm than good.’ MacEachern, a practising Catholic, said she has been deeply pained to see “diocese after diocese” forced to sell off churches to settle victims’ damage claims.” By Andrew Duffy, Ottawa Citizen

Quebec priest names in sexual assault lawsuit
“The archdiocese of Quebec removed a priest accused of sexual assault from his post in April of this year, just months after an alleged victim filed an official complaint against him. But court documents from a new civil lawsuit against the archdiocese show at least one parish official knew of allegations against him more than four years earlier. Details of the allegations against Léopold Manirabarusha were made public Tuesday (Aug. 16) in a class action that represents more than 100 victims. Some 88 members of the clergy are named in the lawsuit.” By Emilie Warren, CBC News

Canada discharged Catholic entities from $25M promise for residential schools: document
“Canada agreed to ‘forever discharge’ Catholic entities from their promise to raise $25 million for residential school survivors and also picked up their legal bill, a final release document shows. The Canadian Press obtained a signed copy of the 2015 agreement through federal Access-to-Information laws, marking what appears to be the first time the document has been widely publicized. ‘That’s a very, very important set of records,’ said Ry Moran, an associate librarian at the University of Victoria and founding director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation.” By Stephanie Taylor, The Canadian Press

Retired Canadian priest pleads guilty to sexual assault
“A retired priest pleaded not guilty Wednesday (Aug. 17) in a Canadian court to a sexual assault that allegedly occurred more than 50 years ago at an Indian Residential School. Arthur Masse, 92, who was not in the courtroom, entered the plea through his lawyer, George Green. The indecent assault involves a 10-year-old girl who was a student at Fort Alexander residential school in the province of Manitoba. Sexual and indecent assault are the same charge in Canada.” By aa.com.tr, Anadolu Agency

Former Chilliwack Catholic priest accused of raping boy in the 1970s
“Duncan Goguillot’s name appeared in the pages of The Chilliwack Progress dozens of times from the 1970s to the year 2000. He was a priest for a decade at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. He coached boys basketball in the ’70s, he served as the Chilliwack Community Arts Council co-ordinator in the 1980s, and for 15 years from 1993 to 2008, Goguillot was MP Chuck Strahl’s campaign manager. But allegations are being made that the Catholic priest has some extremely dark secrets.” By Paul Henderson, Mission City Record


Colombia bishops approve new safeguarding guidelines
“During their general assembly, Colombia’s bishops approved a new set of guidelines for the protection of minors. One of the lay experts behind the text, Ilva Hoyos, said it is a recognition by the bishops that they need a new perspective, ‘centered not in discipline but culture of care.’ ‘The adoption of the new guidelines is another step forward in the path of abuse prevention,’ said Hoyos, the former Colombian attorney general for children, adolescents and family. ‘In the culture of care, everyone is responsible. In our condition as people of God, we must act charitably and in synodality.’” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com


Catholic Church is sentenced to pay 65 million colones ($102,558.00) for moral damages
“The Civil Court of the First Judicial Circuit of San José sentenced the Episcopal Conference and Archbishop José Rafael Quirós to pay ¢65 million colones ($102,558.00) for moral damages to the victim of sexual abuse by the former priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano. Catholic Church priest Mauricio Víquez, accused of sexual crimes, directed the parish of Patarrá de Desamparados between 1996 and 2003. The victim’s lawyer, Rodolfo Alvarado, confirmed the information, saying there are still two more lawsuits against the Catholic Church for acts attributed to the former priest. Alvarado pointed out that the Catholic Church was involved in a cover-up by not taking action when the complaints were made against the former priest.” By QCostaRica.com


Kerala: Catholic priest arrested for abusing minor boy
“Kerala police, on Sunday (Aug. 14), said they have arrested a Catholic priest for allegedly molesting a minor boy. The arrest of Paravur native Father Joseph Kodiyan (63) was made based on a complaint lodged by the boy’s parents on Saturday, said the police. Kodiyan is a priest at a church near Varapuzha, where the alleged abuse took place.” By TheWeek.in


Archbishop of Tuam describes clerical child aabuse as ‘darkest place in our Catholic story’
“Abuse of children by priests was addressed ‘clearly, directly and very movingly’ in the synthesis report sent to Rome last week by the Irish Catholic Church, people attending the novena at Knock were told on Monday. ‘The darkest place in our Catholic story is clerical and institutional abuse,’ said Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy in a homily during Mass in the Basilica. In the synthesis report ‘it is referred to as an ‘open wound’ that was concealed by the church for so long. Those who participated in the synodal preparations identified a sense of loss, anger, betrayal, estrangement, in addition to the deeply personal and living sense of hurt. There is also a clear desire for healing,’ he said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Marsaxlokk parish priest ‘misappropriated’ tens of thousands on porn sites
“Marsaxlokk parish priest Luke Seguna is believed to have spent nearly €150,000 of parishioners’ money on pornographic websites as he faces accusations of money laundering in court. Sources close to the investigation told Times of Malta that Seguna was accused of misappropriating parishioners’ donations and used large volumes on the sites that provide live sex shows by performing artists against a fee. It is understood that this went on for several years.” By Ivan Martin, Times Malta


‘We will die first’ – religious abuse survivors speak up after exclusion from government payouts
“Some sexual abuse survivors fear they may die before receiving any compensation after the government excluded them from a scheme to make rapid payouts to elderly and terminally-ill survivors. Public Services Minister Chris Hipkins has revealed plans to cut a 3000-strong waiting list of abuse claimants of abuse in state care – such as children’s homes – by making “rapid payments”. Survivors of abuse in religious settings, such as Catholic schools, the Salvation Army and the Exclusive Brethren are not included.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff


Polish church official: state commission can’t access abuse documents
“A Polish Catholic official defended the church’s record in tackling sexual abuse by priests, after the head of the State Commission on Pedophilia complained it was refused access to clerical files. ‘This commission’s rights and competences, as established by law, do not include access to church documents — under current procedures, it must request this from the Holy See,’ said Father Piotr Studnicki, director of the Polish bishops’ Child and Youth Protection Office.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com


Portugal abuse commission calls victims to testify
“An independent commission investigating sexual abuse in Portugal’s Catholic Church urged more victims to submit testimonies, especially during summer home visits by citizens living abroad. ‘In our work as a voice in the silence, we continue appealing to all adults who may have been victims as children,’ said the commission’s chairman, Pedro Strecht. ‘We make the same request to all members of the church who can spread this message as they consider appropriate, such as in homilies or on parish door notices.’” By Catholic News Service on UCANews.com

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Conclusion: Voice of the Faithful Synod on Synodality Submission

Voice of the Faithful’s Synod 2021-2023 submission was sent directly to the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops in Rome to ensure that the voices expressed during many Synod sessions held January through May, 2022, would be represented among the lay voices seeking to be heard in the Synod for Synodality. Following is the conclusion of VOTF’s submission. You can read the entire submission by clicking here.

The recommendations emerging from the VOTF sessions hold all the Faithful—the laity, the priests, the bishops, and the Pope—responsible for implementation. “We should all ask ourselves, what would Jesus do?” many said. Frustrations felt at local levels generally come from the actions and inactions of the bishops and the hierarchy. Participants universally agreed that resolution requires the laity to become more involved and to obtain greater roles in the guidance and governance of the Church. The clergy and laity must work together in mutual respect for any of these changes to be achieved.

The Laity need to be included in meaningful ways when selecting new bishops and parish pastors. Parish Councils and Finance Councils need to be selected by the parishioners and empowered to make decisions.  Several called for the priest to provide spiritual guidance and for the laity to provide administrative management of the parish and diocese.

Participants viewed the parish as the place to provide both spiritual nourishment and a sense of community. Many believed that their spiritual sustenance was better achieved through small faith communities formed within their parishes or elsewhere. Pastors should encourage the formation of such small faith communities so that the need can be fulfilled within the Catholic Church itself.

Recommendations to ensure a welcoming church, especially welcoming those on the margins, stressed the need for the priests to lead this effort from the pulpit. Participants frequently emphasized the lack of welcome for LGBTQ+ persons and their families and  for sex abuse survivors and their families. Homilies that stress Catholic Social Teaching and promote inclusion of all God’s children are essential. The Church must move away  from judging people by rigid rules and must become more merciful and inclusive. 

The feeling that the priesthood is broken was universal amongst the participants, and the initial recommendations to address this included changing seminary education and training as well as providing ongoing spiritual formation and training in homiletics for priests. Seminary training should include education at co-ed Catholic institutions, training in the Spirit of Vatican II as well as the documents, and a required internship in a parish prior  to ordination. Once ordained, priests should be required to continue their spiritual formation throughout their lives—perhaps using the practices of some Religious Orders as a model. 

All stressed the need for women’s voices to be heard at all levels of the Church. As a first step, the Pope must ensure women are in positions of responsibility and authority in all departments of the Curia. Bishops must ensure that women hold positions of authority on diocesan pastoral and finance councils. Parishes must invite women as well as non-ordained men to preach. Women provide a different point of view that can broaden the perspective of those engaged in decision-making. The treatment of women is also a factor in the declining number of priests; many women will not encourage their sons to become  a priest in a church that treats women with disrespect.

When considering the pervasive nature and numerous scandals and problems fueled by clericalism in the Church, participants believe priests and bishops must welcome laity into a mutual relationship. Such acceptance will require education and ongoing formation for priests that emphasizes humility and servant leadership. Participants  stated that the laity must take steps to break down the notion that “Father knows best” and open meaningful communications with their pastors. 

Continuation of the synodal process should be required to ensure we continue to listen respectfully to one another. We must all—ordained and non-ordained—live out our Baptismal responsibilities within the Church, because together we are the Church.

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Report: Catholic clergy’s unquestioned – and uneducated – power spurs abuse / Religion News Service

(Paul J.) Schutz (of Santa Clara University) told Religion News Service that their aim was to understand how ‘structural clericalism operates in the church,’ comparing clericalism to the way structural racism shapes the lives of people of color.

By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

“A new report based on interviews with some 300 Catholic priests, nuns and laypeople concludes that clergy aren’t adequately prepared to wield the power they exercise and need more education on questions of sex and gender.

“The report, ‘Beyond Bad Apples: Understanding Clericalism as a Structural Problem & Cultivating Strategies for Change,’ released Monday (Aug. 15), explores the links between clericalism — clergy’s focus on its authority — and clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse. 

“The study’s authors, Julie Hanlon Rubio and Paul J. Schutz, both professors at Santa Clara University, a Jesuit institution in Northern California, initially intended to survey 600 respondents, drawn proportionally from lay, religious (those who take vows but are not ordained to the priesthood) and priests, but were turned away by five of the six dioceses and diocesan seminaries they approached.”

By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service — Read more …

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