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.”

Commonweal

“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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Speak Boldly, Listen Carefully: Inside the Synod / Commonweal

There is confidence, too, that the people of God will, over time, hear the call to assemble. And when they do, that they will speak boldly and listen carefully, and that somehow, in spite of all the resistances and obstacles, not another but a different Church will come forth. Adsumus Sancte Spiritus.

Commonweal

“At the start of July, in preparation for what has become known as the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ the general secretariat of the synod’s spirituality commission convened a meeting of the heads of religious orders in Rome. In the big aula of the Jesuit Curia on the Borgo Santo Spirito were gathered the superiors general of the Jesuits, the Marists, the Claretians, the Eudists, and the Salesians, along with the master of the Dominicans, the vicar general of the Augustinians, the Benedictine abbot primate general, and so on, together with the presidents of the umbrella bodies of male and female religious across the Catholic world, whether contemplative, apostolic, or charismatic. The point of the gathering? To share experiences from the many different traditions of synodality and collective discernment. Or, in simpler language, to find out how the different orders make decisions, elect leaders, and hear the Holy Spirit nudging them to change.

“While in Rome for the October 9–10 launch of the synod, I heard about this gathering from a number of those who were involved, among them the woman who has become the synod’s face and voice. What the meeting showed, the French Xaverian Sr. Nathalie Becquart told me, was how each of the orders had developed different mechanisms of deliberating as a body and reaching consensus—whether classically, in the form of the “General Chapters” of monasteries and friaries, or as exercises in group discernment as developed, say, by the Jesuits. Many religious institutes had regular assemblies, others engaged in consultations prior to decision-making, while some combined consultative and deliberative practices. The diversity of methods and traditions was tremendous. Yet alongside the clear lines of authority and obedience in most religious orders were two elements they all seemed to have in common.

“The first is that discernment and decision-making are the business of the whole body, not just of the few entrusted with governance. In his landmark October 2015 synod speech, Pope Francis quoted an ancient maxim: Quod omnes tangit, ab omnibus tractari et approbari debet (“what affects everyone should be discussed and approved by all”). And because, as St. Benedict notes in his seventh-century rule, God sometimes speaks through the youngest in the community, enabling participation means paying special attention to the timid edges, to the unlikely places, to those outside.

“The second is that this business of consultation and deliberation is not separate from the life of prayer but intrinsic to it. The habitus of community decision-making is attentive listening to others, straining for the whispers of the Spirit even in the mouths of people we resent or disagree with. It calls, therefore, for giving time to all, in equal measure, for speaking honestly and boldly but not hammering others with our views, for sitting in peaceful, open silence so that we can hear what words do not always say and can often conceal. Synodality requires us to understand that we do not possess the truth, but that sometimes, when we put aside our emotions and agendas, it possesses us, overflowing the narrow channels of our thinking.”

By Austen Ivereigh, Commmonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

October 20, 2021

TOP STORIES

Probe: Catholic Church in France had 3,000 child abusers
“An independent commission examining sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church in France believes 3,000 child abusers — two-thirds of them priests — have worked in the church over the past 70 years(link is external). The estimate was given by the commission president, Jean-Marc Sauvé, in an interview published Sunday (Oct. 3) in the newspaper Journal du Dimanche. The commission has been investigating for 2 1/2 years. Its full findings are scheduled to be released on Tuesday. In the interview, Sauvé did not give a figure on the number of sex abuse victims but said the report does include a new estimate.” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

The Catholic Church’s prayers for victims of sexual abuse are beginning to ring hollow.
“Early Tuesday (Oct. 5) morning, I opened my laptop to work. But first, I meandered over to Twitter, expecting to read a few comments on Krysten Sinema before diving into my Persian presentation. Instead, I started crying. I don’t cry easily. And these were not tears borne of sadness but of frustration(link is external). On Tuesday morning, an independent commission reported that priests and church workers in France have abused over 330,000 children over the past seven decades. As usual, the church too often turned a blind eye to the molestation.” By Valerie Pavilonis, America: The Jesuit Review

Australia’s grand experiment in synodality opens amid hopes, challenges
“Long before ‘synodality’ became the buzzword of this pontificate, and long before a world-wide summit on the topic was called for by Pope Francis that’s being described as his legacy, the Catholic Church in Australia was getting ready to launch its own major synodal moment. Called a ‘Plenary Council(link is external),’ it’s the first such gathering in Australia since 1937, and it will be celebrated across nine months, bookended by assemblies from October 3-10 and in July 2022.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

The Guardian view on sexual abuse and the Catholic church: contrition is not enough
“An investigation into pedophile priests in France reveals an institution in desperate need of reform – The findings of an inquiry into sexual abuse and pedophilia in the French Catholic church, published last week, are difficult to read and painful to contemplate. Over the past 70 years, the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church found that at least 216,000 children were subjected to abuse at the hands of Catholic priests and members of religious orders. Sexual exploitation within the church and associated institutions, the commission stated, had been a ‘massive phenomenon.’ Beyond immediate family and friends, the prevalence of sexual violence in the church outstripped that in any other social environment(link is external).” By The Guardian Editorial Board

Catholic priests in France ‘must report abuse allegations heard in confession
Catholic priests must report all child sexual abuse allegations to police, including if they hear about it in the secrecy of the confession box, the French interior minister has said after reprimanding France’s top bishop for claiming that the secrecy of the Catholic confessional was ‘above the laws of the Republic.’ France is reeling from the publication last week of a devastating independent report which found that at least 330,000 children were victims of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and lay members of church institutions over the past 70 years, and that the crimes were covered up in a ‘systemic way’ by the church.” By Angelique Chrisafis, The Guardian

ACCOUNTABILITY

Philippine clerical child abusers must face civil courts
“The most important legislation needed worldwide is to cancel and revoke the legislation on the statute of limitations for crimes against children(link is external) and actively pursue legal action to bring the abusers to justice. The accused abusers can then hear the testimony of their victims and confess, repent, atone and accept penance in jail for abusing children.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, CathNews.com

As Catholic order fought sex abuse claims, secret trusts devoted to it poured millions into American rental properties
“Leaked files reveal nearly $300 million stashed overseas for the Legion of Christ in wake of Vatican investigation. Millions were invested with a corporate landlord that evicted struggling U.S. tenants during pandemic. – Soon after the Vatican announced in 2010 that it would seize the operations of the troubled order and launch a new investigation, high-profile Legion of Christ operatives began quietly setting up one of a trio of New Zealand trusts designed to hold money for the Legion. … These two trusts would come to hold nearly $300 million in assets devoted to the Legion of Christ at a time when victims of sexual abuse by its priests were seeking financial compensation(link is external) from the order through lawsuits and through a commission overseen by the Vatican.” By Spencer Woodman, International Consortium of Investigative Journalists

Judge: Newark Archdiocese can be held liable for McCarrick’s misconduct
“A New Jersey federal judge ruled this week that the Archdiocese of Newark can be held financially responsible for the abuse committed by Theodore McCarrick(link is external), a disgraced former cardinal. According to a report from the New York Post, District Court Judge Madeline Arleo found that the Newark archdiocese is ‘vicariously liable’ for McCarrick’s actions. According to the Legal Information Institute, ‘vicarious liability’ refers to liability that a supervisory party, such as an employer, bears for the actionable conduct of a subordinate or associate, such as an employee, based on the relationship between the two parties.” By Jonah McKeown, The Catholic Herald

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Explainer: So, what exactly is a synod?
“The global synodal process on ‘Communion, Participation, and Mission’ that the Catholic Church is undertaking over the next two years will formally kick off on Sunday, Oct. 10, with a Mass at the Vatican. It has been nicknamed the ‘synod on synodality’—a term that, despite Pope Francis’ efforts to popularize it, may still leave some scratching their heads. So what is ‘synodality,’ and why does the pope think it’s such a big deal?(link is external)” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Experts see synod as ‘biggest consultation exercise in human history’
“Though probably unbeknownst to most Catholics around the world, on Saturday (Oct. 9) Pope Francis officially opened a two-year global consultation process, all part of a Synod of Bishops on Synodality, which participants hope will help radically change the way the Catholic Church takes decisions. ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway(link is external),’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, told Crux.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

In union with Pope Francis, Rochester Diocese opens Synod
“In union with Pope Francis, Bishop Salvatore R. Matano opened the XVI Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops Oct. 10(link is external) during the regularly scheduled 11:15 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart Cathedral. Pope Francis is convening the worldwide Synod under the theme ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ At the beginning of his homily, Bishop Matano explained that the Synod, which has three phases — diocesan, continental and universal — will conclude with the assembly of the Synod Bishops in Rome in October 2023.” By Gina Capellazzi, Catholic Courier

Pope Francis opens synod, encouraging church to master the ‘art of encounter’
Pope Francis on Oct. 10 officially launched the Vatican’s high-stakes, two-year synod process(link is external) in an opening Mass where he urged the global Catholic Church to master the ‘art of encounter’ … The Synod of Bishops, which emerged out of the Second Vatican Council, was designed in part to provide a mechanism for global church leaders to come to Rome to confront certain challenges in church life. Now its newly retooled model adds another component that begins with a listening stage with local churches at the diocesan level.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Utah Catholics ready to answer ‘revolutionary’ survey that will include church members on the fringes
Pope Francis wants to know what you think about the Catholic Church(link is external) — what it’s doing well, how it’s falling down, and where it should go in the future. By ‘you,’ the pontiff means people in the pews, people not in the pews, Christmas and Easter Catholics, former Catholics, priests, nuns, the laity, younger members, older members, non-Catholics and outside observers. Starting next week, the Vatican is launching a three-year synod on ‘communion, participation and mission’ — a program of ‘listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular churches.’” By Peggy fletcher Stack, The Salt Lake Tribune

How do we prepare for a synodal process? Start with the documents of Vatican II
“Nine days from now, Pope Francis will officially open a synodal process. As my colleague Brian Fraga reported on Wednesday (Sept. 29), you wouldn’t know much about it if you relied on the U.S. bishops’ conference(link is external). They have sent no directives to the nation’s bishops, no historical or theological reflections, no guidance, nada, niente. They have not amended their strategic priorities to reflect the start of this synodal process. And their last meeting was dedicated to figuring out how to justify a document on eucharistic coherence that no one needs and that Rome has indicated it does not want.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope to begin synodal process with Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican announced that Pope Francis will formally launch the process of the Synod of Bishops with a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica(link is external). The Oct. 10 Mass, which officially open the synodal process, will be preceded by a day of reflection in the synod hall, the Vatican said in a statement published Oct. 1. The Oct. 9 day of reflection, the statement said, will include ‘representatives of the people God, including delegates of the bishops’ conferences and related bodies, members of the Roman Curia, fraternal delegates, delegates of consecrated life and ecclesial lay movements, the youth council, etc.’” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

CARDINALS

Italian cardinal becomes first red hat to stand trial at Vatican
“When the Vatican’s megatrial for financial crimes begins next week, one of the star figures will be Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu, a former power-player in the Holy See’s Secretariat of State who is the first cardinal to be indicted by the small city-state(link is external). Set to open Oct. 5 after being postponed during an initial hearing over the summer, the trial involves a list of 10 people facing a variety of charges ranging from abuse of office to embezzlement, fraud, and corruption, among other things.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

BISHOPS

High hopes for Synod of Bishops
“Participants in the two-year global consultation process for the Synod of Bishops on synodality hope the process will help radically change the way the Church takes decisions(link is external). ‘My expectation is that a new way of doing things, which will allow us to see synodality being lived at every level of the Church, is now underway,’ Spaniard Carmen Peña Garcia, a synod participant, said. ‘The Synod should not be reduced to this moment, these two years, because synodality is a call for co-responsibility and co-participation of the entire people of God in the life and mission of the Church, with baptism being the entry card,’ she said.” By CathNews.com

WOMEN’S VOICES

Vatican: Theological Commission welcomes first-ever African woman
“Pope Francis has appointed 61-yesr-old Sister Dr. Josée Ngalula of the Democratic Republic of Congo as the first-ever African woman to be a member of the International Theological Commission(link is external). She is a member of the Sisters of Saint Andrew. Sister Ngalula will be part of a 28-member theological Commission that comprises theologians from all over the world.” By Muando Babualo and Vatican News English Africa Service

The Vatican still has a ‘patriarchal mindset’ — but women are challenging it.
“Women are rising to new heights in the Vatican, but there is still a long way to go before women’s voices and leadership are satisfactorily integrated in the Vatican(link is external). In this deep dive episode based on Colleen Dulle’s cover story in America Magazine’s October issue, Colleen and producer Maggi Van Dorn take a look inside the corporate culture of the Vatican to examine how things have been changing for women—and why it’s difficult to have conversations about women’s empowerment there.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

VATICAN

Vatican-backed sex abuse research institute expands mandate
“The Catholic Church’s foremost research institute studying sexual abuse of minors is expanding its mandate to also include the sexual and spiritual abuse of adults(link is external), evidence of the Vatican’s increasing awareness that children aren’t the only victims of clergy who abuse their power and authority. The Rev. Hans Zollner, one of Pope Francis’ top advisers on abuse, said the institute’s broader scope reflects lessons from the #MeToo movement, the pope’s own recognition that nuns and seminarians can be abused by their superiors, and evidence that systemic and structural problems in the church have allowed abuse to fester.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

Europe court rejects case seeking to blame Vatican for abuse
“A European court agreed Tuesday (Oct. 12) that the Vatican couldn’t be sued in a local court for sexual abuse committed by Catholic priests, affirming that it enjoys sovereign immunity and that the misconduct of priests and their superiors can’t be attributed to the Holy See(link is external). The European Court of Human Rights dismissed a case brought by two dozen people who said they were victims of abusive priests in Belgium. The 24 had argued the Holy See was liable because of the ‘structurally deficient’ way the Catholic hierarchy had handled cases of priests who raped and molested children, covering up the crimes rather than reporting them.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Vatican Issues Acquittals in Sexual Abuse Case Involving Former Altar Boys
“A Vatican court on Wednesday (Oct. 6) acquitted a priest on sexual abuse charges(link is external) dating to when he and his accuser were teenage altar boys at a seminary within the Vatican walls. A second priest, the rector of the seminary at the time, was cleared of charges that he covered up the alleged abuses. Prosecutors claimed that the abuse began when the priest, the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli, now 29, and his accuser, who was identified only by his initials, L.G., were young teenagers, less than a year apart, living at a seminary and that it continued for five years. Father Martinelli was not a priest at the time, but he was ordained years later.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

CHURCH REFORM

The quiet revolution of German Catholics
“Marcus Wolf is the pastor St. Gangolf Parish in the small, northern Bavarian city of Bamberg. The priest takes out the parish registry and turns to the section marked ‘Kirchenaustritt,’ a procedure to have one’s name struck from the baptismal rolls. It indicates that 32 parishioners left the Church in 2019. And it shows that 21 others have already done so this year. ‘I myself thought of leaving the Church(link is external),’ Wolf says, nonchalantly. ‘But I stayed. Partly to look after my parishioners.’” By Youna Rivallain, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

First Australian Catholic Church plenary council opens
“The first Australian Catholic Church Plenary Council since 1937 opened on Sunday (Oct. 3), with COVID-19 restrictions forcing the original Adelaide meeting – delayed by 12 months – largely online. The national meeting, involving 278 members across the country – including bishops, members of religious congregations and laypeople – is discussing a range of issues, including matters relating to the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse, euthanasia laws and women’s roles within the church.” By Peta McCartney, Sight Magazine

‘Change is difficult’: Cincinnati Archdiocese launches shakeup that reaches almost every parish
“The Archdiocese of Cincinnati on Friday launched one of the most ambitious reorganizations in its 200-year history, potentially changing when and where almost a half-million Catholics attend Mass, school and other activities connected to their faith(link is external). Known as Beacons of Light, the restructuring process will combine the archdiocese’s 208 parishes into 60 ‘families of parishes,’ which will begin sharing priests and resources as early as next year.” By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VOICES

The hard truth of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is demoralizing. But we must confront it
“When Pope Francis met with the Archbishop of Paris and other French bishops at the end of September, he observed on the matter of the then-forthcoming report on sex abuse in the church of France: ‘Look the truth in the face.’ It is not only the hierarchy that is now doing so, but all of France, Catholic and otherwise(link is external). Indeed, the world has taken shocked notice. The Sauvé Report, an investigation commissioned by the French bishops in 2018 in the wake of a series of clerical sex abuse scandals, was issued on Oct. 5. The tremors of disbelief, outrage and horror continue to reverberate.” By Michael W. Higgins, The Globe and Mail

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

How does NC’s lookback window for child sex abuse compare to measures in other states?
“In 2019, North Carolina legislators unanimously passed the SAFE Child Act. The law included provisions intended to prevent child sexual abuse and to increase consequences for perpetrators and the institutions that shield them when children are harmed(link is external). One element of the legislation was a ‘lookback window,’ a two-year period where time-related restrictions on civil lawsuits brought by child sex abuse survivors would be lifted.” By Carli Brosseau, The News & Observer

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Diocese reveals more accusations of sexual abuse by former Northstate Catholic priests
“The Sacramento Diocese has revealed new allegations of sexual abuse by priests(link is external). The list includes six new allegations against five former priests, some of whom were assigned to churches in the Northstate in the past. These latest claims name five priests who had been previously accused of sexual misconduct against minors. Since the diocese revealed a list of accused priests in 2019, new victims have come forward alleging six additional instances of abuse involving five former priests.” By Kelli Saam, KRCR-TV7 News

COLORADO

Former Aspen priest accused of sexual abuse; archdiocese, local police open investigation
“Parishioners at St. Mary Catholic Church were notified Saturday (Sept. 25) that a former priest has been accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) between 2004 and 2008, according to the Archdiocese of Denver. Rev. Michael O’Brien — who left St. Mary in mid-2011 — was immediately placed on administrative leave from his duties as pastor in the eastern Colorado towns of Julesburg and Crook, according to a letter to St. Mary’s parishioners dated Saturday, and an archdiocese spokesman said Wednesday (Sept. 29).” By Jason Auslander, The Aspen Times

INDIANA

Former Columbia City pastor charged
“A criminal investigation into charges of sexual misconduct with a minor by Father David Huneck(link is external), pastor of St. Paul of the Cross Parish in Columbia City, has resulted in the following charges being filed by the Whitley County Prosecuting Attorney Friday, Oct. 8 … Father Huneck, a priest of the diocese for three years, resigned from his position at the parish and from his role as co-chaplain of Bishop Dwenger High School in Fort Wayne after the allegation of misconduct received Sept. 19.” By Todays Catholic, Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend

KANSAS

Catholic Clergy Task Force continues investigation into Topeka priest child sexual abuse allegations
“A task force created in 2019 to fight reports of alleged abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy is continuing the investigation into a Topeka priest for allegations of the sexual abuse of a child(link is external). The Kansas Bureau of Investigation says its Catholic Clergy Task Force is currently investigating the allegations against the Topeka priest. Father John Pilcher, of Topeka’s Mater Dei Parish, has been accused of sexual abuse against a minor. The KBI said it formed the task force in 2019 after Attorney General Derek Schmidt asked it to investigate reports of abuse in the Kansas Catholic Clergy.” By Sarah Motter, WIBW-TV13 News

KENTUCKY

Louisville priest convicted of child abuse released from prison
“A Louisville priest convicted of abusing children(link is external) has been released from prison. Father Joseph Hemmerle was sentenced to nine years in prison for sexual abuse that happened in the 1970s. The Louisville priest was denied parole several times but Friday (Oct. 1), became eligible to be released into mandatory re-entry supervision. He will be monitored by a parole officer but he isn’t required to register as a sex offender. Hemmerle remains a priest.” By WDRB.com

LOUISIANA

Victim of alleged sexual abuse by a priest speaks out
“Three Acadiana men are speaking publicly for the first time about being repeatedly sexually abused, allegedly, by a local priest(link is external) when they were only 10 and 11 years old. And now in their 50’s, the men are coming forward with the allegations, hoping to find closure through a new law that went into effect earlier this summer, allowing adults who were victims as minors up to three years to file suit against accused offenders.” By Darla Montgomery, KLFY-TV10 News

NEW JERSEY

Camden diocese plan would offer $26 million for clergy sex abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Camden wants a federal bankruptcy judge to approve a plan that offers at least $26 million to about 300 victims of alleged clergy sex abuse(link is external). But attorneys for sex-abuse survivors say they’ll fight the proposal, arguing the diocese and a committee representing sex-abuse claimants remain far apart on financial and other issues.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

TENNESSEE

Lawsuit Alleges Catholic Diocese Of Nashville Missed Signs Of Sexual Abuse At Murfreesboro Church
“A lawsuit filed this week alleges the Catholic Diocese of Nashville and St. Rose of Lima Church failed to protect a child from a staff member’s sexual abuse(link is external). The suit claims that concerns about sexual misconduct were raised to the bishop of the diocese, the pastor of St. Rose and other officials for years, but no meaningful action was taken. The alleged perpetrator, Michael D. Lewis, was indicted in June 2020 on felony sex crime charges. He will be facing trial for those charges in February. Lewis had been the church’s director of religions education.” By Juliana Kim, WPLN-FM Nashville National Public Radio News

CANADA

Sask. court file reveals new details of Catholic Church compensation for residential school survivors
“A Saskatchewan judge has released files detailing the Roman Catholic Church’s controversial $79-million compensation deal for residential school survivors following a successful court application by CBC News and the Globe and Mail. This cache of documents, along with other internal papers obtained by CBC News in recent weeks, illustrates how Catholic officials, aided by a team of veteran lawyers, successfully fought years of federal government efforts to make them pay(link is external) the full amounts promised in the landmark 2005 Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

FRANCE

An inquiry exposed sexual abuse within French Catholic Church — now what?
“‘The father took me to his tent and closed it,’ said the victim. ‘He kissed me on the lips, with his tongue. It was disgusting. He caressed me. I was petrified,’ the victim continued. ‘He taught me words I didn’t know — like masturbation and fellatio. I thought I need to respect him, he’s a priest. Plus, my parents really appreciate him.’ This was just one experience of many shared in a recent report that revealed the scale of abuse within the French Catholic Church(link is external). At least 216,000 children were abused by Catholic clerics in France since the 1950s, according to the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church (CIASE).” By Deutsche Welle

GERMANY

German Catholic Bishop Suggests ‘Synodal Way’ is Using Abuse Crisis to Reshape Church
“A German Catholic bishop suggested this week that the country’s ‘Synodal Way’ is using the abuse crisis to reshape the Church on Protestant lines(link is external). Bishop Rudolf Voderholzer of Regensburg questioned why the German Catholic Church’s progress in tackling abuse was seldom acknowledged, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. He said: ‘The fact that interested parties now continue to pretend that nothing has actually happened so far … the peculiarities of the Catholic Church are systemically blamed for it, feeds my suspicion that the sexual abuse is being instrumentalized here in an attempt to reshape the Catholic Church along the lines of Protestant church orders, where ‘synod’ means something different than in the Catholic Church, namely a kind of church parliament.’” By Catholic News Agency Staff

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Sheffield bishop Ralph Heskett ‘failed to report priest who sexually abused altar boys’
“Bishop of Hallam Ralph Heskett is claimed to have known about a priest who preyed on altar boys in Liverpool but failed to report him to the police(link is external), with the culprit instead sent away to Scotland. It is alleged that Bishop Heskett, formerly parish priest at Bishop Eton in Childwall, Liverpool, was told about sex abuse by a priest at a Liverpool monastery but did not report him to the police.” By Neil Docking, The Star

Catholic Church in Scotland sets up abuse watchdog
“The Catholic Church in Scotland is setting up an independent watchdog to deal with abuse complaints against members of the clergy(link is external). The move follows a number of sex scandals where the church was accused of failing to respond to concerns. The church said the Scottish Catholic Safeguarding Standards Agency (SCSSA) would produce ‘consistency, transparency and accountability.’ It will operate as an independent private company.” By BBC News

Scots priest abused boys in Liverpool but was sent home after parent spoke out
“A Scots priest abused young altar boys in Liverpool – but was simply sent back home to Scotland after a parent made a complaint about him(link is external). Father Thomas MacCarte allowed the boys to smoke cannabis and drink alcohol so he could sexually abuse them. One of MaCarte’s victims thought the priest was ‘cool’ for letting them hang out in his room, reports Liverpool Echo. However, there was ‘another side’ to MacCarte, from Glasgow, who preyed on children at Bishop Eton Monastery in Woolton Road, Liverpool. Liverpool Crown Court heard how the pervert made one teenage boy watch gay porn, before performing a sex act on him twice.” By Neil Docking and Chloe Burrell, Daily Record

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Northern Irish diocese’s plan to redress abuse criticized for payment caps
“Clerical abuse survivors and their advocates are criticizing a new redress scheme in a Northern Irish diocese that has placed a cap on payments for victims(link is external). They say that while the scheme offers to pay about $106,000 to individual survivors, from a total purse of some $3.4 million, limiting the compensation was insensitive and unjust. Some suggest the scheme from the Dromore Diocese would likely suit victims of potential grooming, but are advising other survivors to avoid using it.” By Sahm Venter, National Catholic Reporter

NEW ZEALAND

Catholic Church knew of previous complaint against teen-grooming priest
“A priest convicted of grooming a teenage girl to send him nude photos(link is external) was the subject of a previous complaint that was covered up by the Tongan Catholic Church. The victim’s aunt and an abuse survivors’ group said it showed the church should have prevented Sosefo Sateki Raass’ offending. The Tongan church gave Raass a good character reference before he moved to Auckland, where he was convicted in 2019 of indecent communication with a person under 16 and subsequently quit the priesthood.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff.co.nz

PHILIPPINES

No more impunity for child rapists in the Philippines
“The historic bill providing for a life sentence for a convicted child abuser will serve as a powerful deterrent(link is external). The Philippine Senate has finally approved the final draft of a law that is vital to the protection of children and the prosecution of child rapists who were committing the crime with impunity.” By UCANews.com

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French report: 330,000 children victims of church sex abuse / Associated Press

“Victims of abuse within France’s Catholic Church welcomed a historic turning point Tuesday (Oct. 5) after a new report estimated that 330,000 children in France were sexually abused over the past 70 years, providing the country’s first accounting of the worldwide phenomenon.

“The figure includes abuses committed by some 3,000 priests and an unknown number of other people involved in the church — wrongdoing that Catholic authorities covered up over decades in a ‘systemic manner,’ according to the president of the commission that issued the report, Jean-Marc Sauvé.

“The 2,500-page document was issued as the Catholic Church in France, like in other countries, seeks to face up to shameful secrets that were long covered up. Victims welcomed the report as long overdue and the head of the French bishops’ conference asked for forgiveness from them.”

By Sylvie Corbet, Associated Press — Read more …

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Francis is set to open a worldwide synod process. U.S. dioceses don’t seem prepared. / National Catholic Reporter

Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.

National Catholic Reporter

“With about three weeks to go before Catholic prelates around the world are due to open a first-of-its-kind grassroots consultation period as part of an expanded vision for the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops, church officials across the U.S. are still figuring out exactly what that process will look like.

“A range of dioceses contacted by NCR in recent weeks said they were still working out the details for the consultation period and would be in a better position to comment on the synod in coming weeks, after Pope Francis formally opens the two-year synod process with a ceremony in Rome on Oct. 9.

“Officials who agreed to interviews described plans that relied on parish listening sessions, online surveys, Zoom meetings and other avenues to get feedback from laity.

“‘It’s a great opportunity for me to learn and for bishops all over the world to develop better habits of consultation with our people,’ Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, told NCR …

“Francis announced in May that he would be expanding the scope of the next synod, originally set for 2022. He postponed the Vatican meeting of bishops, now set for October 2023, to allow first for periods of consultation in every local diocese and at the continental level.

“Although Francis has previously asked for local consultation to occur before other synods during his pontificate, no earlier process has been so wide-ranging.”

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Catholic women feel called to be deacons. The church should listen to their stories. / America: The Jesuit Review

“The church has been discerning the question of female deacons for decades. And now the whole church has an opportunity to engage in a discernment about the diaconate.”

America: The Jesuit Review

“Is the church being called to receive women into the permanent order of deacons?

“Are women being called by God to serve as deacons in the church? And what role do Sunday Mass-goers, lapsed Catholics and daily communicants play in discerning responses to such questions?

“In the form of theological studies, sociological research and papal commissions, the church has been discerning the question of female deacons for decades. And now, thanks to the synod that begins this October, the whole church has an opportunity to engage in a discernment about the diaconate.

“In the synod, Pope Francis has called the church to consider the shape of our life together and to listen to one another, to ‘plant dreams, draw forth prophecies and visions, allow hope to flourish, inspire trust, bind up wounds, weave together relationships, awaken a dawn of hope, learn from one another and create a bright resourcefulness that will enlighten minds, warm hearts, give strength to our hands.’ In the context of the synod, ‘all are invited to speak with courage…integrating freedom, truth, and charity.’ In other words: Every Catholic on planet Earth is invited to join together and ask fundamental questions about how we are to journey as the people of God in the 21st century.”

By Casey Stanton, America: The Jesuit Review, Read more …

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‘They knew and they let it happen’: Uncovering child abuse in the Catholic Church / The Boston Globe

The Spotlight Team revealed the church’s secret protection of pedophile priests in a series with global repercussions.

The Boston Globe

“On his first day on the job in July 2001, Globe editor Martin Baron stopped by the desk of Eileen McNamara, a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist. A week earlier, McNamara had published a column about the Boston Archdiocese’s silence on three priests accused of sexually abusing children. One line, in particular, had irked Baron. McNamara had wondered whether an accused priest’s superiors had known about his crimes. Court documents were sealed. ‘The public,’ she concluded, ‘has no way of knowing.’

“McNamara recalls Baron standing over her desk: ‘Why don’t we find out,’ he said.

“Spotlight’s investigation of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church did not begin with a tip or newly obtained document, as so many investigations do. Instead, it started when a new Globe editor spurred his newsroom to action. After telling the Globe’s senior leaders he intended to pursue the story, Baron asked Spotlight editor Walter V. Robinson to make sexual abuse by priests his team’s next project.

“Robinson, a three-decade newsroom veteran, was taken aback. ‘Editors never told the Spotlight Team what to do,’ Robinson says. ‘The Spotlight Team told the editor what it was going to do.’ But it was clear that this wasn’t a debate. Robinson returned to Spotlight’s office and instructed his team — Michael Rezendes, Sacha Pfeiffer, and Matthew Carroll — to get to work.

“The story wasn’t new to them. The Globe had been covering the abuse cases for a decade, and other outlets had been on the story for even longer. ‘I always remind people we didn’t reveal the existence of priest sex abuse,’ Rezendes says. Rather, Spotlight set out to do what it does best: reveal the systemic problem behind the individual stories. ‘What we did that was new,’ Rezendes continues, ‘was show the scale of the issue and the coverup.'”

By Joseph P. Kahn and Mike Damiano, The Boston Globe — Read more …

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Pope Francis wants every Catholic to have a say. Why haven’t US Catholics heard about it? / National Catholic Reporter

Success for bishops not focused on controlling power will be listening and honestly reporting the needs of the people.  

National Catholic Reporter

“Pope Francis’ plan is for ordinary Catholics to have their say. It begins with the coming synod, which opens in Rome on Oct. 9 and in every diocese in the world on Oct. 17.   

“The problem: No one seems to know about it. The bigger problem: U.S. bishops don’t seem to care. 

“It’s called ‘For a Synodal Church: Communion, Participation, and Mission.’ While Francis truly wants all Catholics to pray and talk about the needs of today’s church, his plan depends on diocesan participation. As the U.S. bishops fulminate over which Catholic politician can receive Communion, they’ve done little to plan for the worldwide discussion on the needs of the church. They were asked to get organized last May. They haven’t. 

“Here’s how things are supposed to work. Last May, Rome asked every bishop for the name of the person managing his diocesan synodal process. The bishop then is to open his local synod Oct. 17, collect input from parishes, and report to his national episcopal conference.  

By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Called to Contribute: Findings from an In-depth Interview Study of US Catholic Women and the Diaconate / By Tricia Bruce,

“Women comprise the majority of US Catholics and the majority of lay ministers in the U.S. Catholic Church. While the ordained diaconate remains the exclusive realm of men, women engage in expansive service that overlaps core diaconal functions in word, liturgy, and charity. Many women feel specifically called to be deacons or express an openness to discerning such a call should the vocational path become available to them. Escalating global attention to the question of women and the diaconate compels social scientific research to enhance knowledge regarding how contemporary women experience and fulfill their felt call in the Catholic Church.” By Tricia C. Bruce, Ph.D., author of “Faithful Revolution: How Voice of the Faithful Is Changing the Church”

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 21, 2021

TOP STORIES

Listening to the Faithful: Vatican releases Synod Preparatory Document
The General Secretariat for the Synod of Bishops presents the base text and ‘vademecum’ – or handbook – to guide the journey of the Synod on Synodality. Listening without prejudice; speaking out with courage and parrhesia; dialoguing with the Church, with society, and with the other Christian confessions. The General Secretariat for the Synod has published the Preparatory Document, along with a Vademecum (or handbook) to indicate the guiding principles that will direct the path of the Synod on Synodality(link is external). The solemn opening of the Synod will take place in Rome on October 9-10, and in the particular Churches on October 17; and will conclude in the Vatican in 2023 with the assembly of bishops from around the world. The Preparatory Document, released on Tuesday, is intended above all to be an instrument facilitating the first phase of listening and consultation of the People of God in the particular Churches, which will take place from October 2021 to April 2022.” By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News

Pope Francis is preparing a radical reform of the church’s power structures
“In 2001, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio was a rapporteur for the summit of bishops at the Vatican — and he did not like what he saw. The Catholic Church had adopted a top-to-bottom approach that stripped local churches of any decision-making power, and the synod of bishops was reduced to nothing more than a stamp of approval(link is external) for prepackaged conclusions made in Rome. When Bergoglio emerged as Pope Francis in the 2013 conclave, the synodal process was high on his list for reform.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

New group discerning the future of a female diaconate
“Jessica Morel is approaching a heart-wrenching crossroads. Morel, a 42-year-old Catholic mother of four, is in the midst of a five-year education and discernment process with the U.S. Army to become a military chaplain. The problem is, there is no pathway for women to become Catholic chaplains in the military, and the military requires chaplains to be ordained. Seeking support, Morel discovered Discerning Deacons(link is external), an organization that brings together Catholics, including women discerning the diaconate, to learn, pray and discern the possible future of a permanent diaconate open to women.” By Sophie Vodvarka, National Catholic Reporter

Ex-Cardinal McCarrick, 91, due in court in sex assault case
“Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the once-powerful prelate who was expelled from the priesthood for sexual abuse, is due in court Friday (Sept. 3) to face accusations that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy(link is external) during a wedding reception in Massachusetts nearly 50 years ago. McCarrick, 91, is scheduled to be arraigned and is expected to enter a plea in suburban Boston’s Dedham District Court more than a month after he was charged. McCarrick is the only U.S. Catholic cardinal, current or former, ever to be criminally charged with child sex crimes.” By Alanna Durkin Richer, Associated Press, in Cruxnow.com

Vatican won’t say if women can vote in upcoming Synod of Bishops
“Vatican officials declined on Tuesday (Sept. 7) to say if women would be able to vote on concrete proposals about the future of the Catholic Church at the end of a two-year process of consultation(link is external) of ordinary faithful that Pope Francis kicks off next month. For years, women activists and even nuns have pressed to be able to vote at Synod of Bishops meetings, which bring together the Catholic hierarchy to Rome to discuss pressing issues facing the 1.3-billion strong church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

The Catholic Church and the Art of the Coverup
“It was the summer of 2011, and I was summoned to the office of a psychologist in Dallas, and Raymond Fitzgerald, the President of Jesuit High School, who flew from New Orleans to attend. Jesuit paid for the psychologist as a part of their due diligence, to determine if I was telling the truth about my abuse at the hands of Peter Modica, a janitor, and Cornelius Carr, a Theology teacher at the school … Up until that point, there were the occasional civil suits. The Church would publicly lament in the media; ‘Who are these great accusers who are out to destroy our Church?’ when they damn well knew what they had done(link is external) and what they were doing. In that same breath, they were privately settling cases, and requiring our silence.” By Richard WIndmann, President of Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse, in The Big Easy Magazine

Gonzaga sex abuse report recommends actions as university faces its own complicity
“Gonzaga University, a Jesuit-run institution in the state of Washington, has established a special research fund to study sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) and is taking steps to support local community members who have been particularly impacted by the crisis, especially Indigenous and Native students. Those initiatives are among several recommendations that were outlined in a 46-page report that the university released Sept. 1 from its University Commission on Gonzaga’s Response to the Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis. The commission’s work coincided with media reports that detailed a decades-long pattern of sexually abusive Jesuits being permitted to live on campus while being shielded from accountability.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Get ready: Another synod is coming
“Another synod will be taking place in the Archdiocese of Miami this year, but this time, Pope Francis will be doing the ‘listening.’ The archdiocese held its Second General Synod from April 2012 to October 2013, with Archbishop Thomas Wenski spending the summer of 2012 visiting more than a dozen parishes, sitting and listening to parishioners’ answers to several questions. Something similar will happen at the Synod of Bishops set to take place in October 2023 in Rome — except it will be the world’s bishops meeting, after listening to the world’s Catholics(link is external), and making recommendations to Pope Francis for the universal Church. The official title of this synod is ‘Towards a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.’ The shorthand title is ‘Synod on synodality.’” By Ana Rodriguez-Soto, Florida Catholic of the Archdiocese of Miami

Catholic Church is failing to embrace reform, says McAleese
“The Catholic Church has yet to make positive progress towards being able truly to listen to the voices of minority voices and the laity as a whole(link is external), according to former President of Ireland Dr Mary McAleese. Addressing the Root and Branch lay-led inclusive synod, she said that she does not ‘find Pope Francis inspirational at all.’ She said: ‘Why have the hopes and promises of Vatican II disappeared to a dead end?’ Commenting on plans for the 2023 Synod of Bishops on synodality, she felt there was no move to stop lay discussion continuing to be ‘kept well away from matters of doctrine.’” By Scarlett Sherriff, The Tablet

POPE FRANCIS

Pope rejects German archbishop’s resignation over abuse
“Pope Francis has rejected the resignation of the archbishop of Hamburg, who offered to step down in March after a report faulted him for his handling of sexual abuse allegations in his previous diocese(link is external). The papal nuncio’s office in Berlin said in a statement Wednesday (Sept. 15) that the pontiff made his decision after two envoys traveled to Cologne in June to look into possible mistakes by senior church officials there in handling past sexual abuse cases. Stefan Hesse, Hamburg’s archbishop since 2015, previously served in several senior roles in the Cologne archdiocese.” By Geir Moulson, Associated Press

Former Irish president McAleese ramps up criticism of Pope Francis
“A former president of Ireland has expressed reservations about Pope Francis’ leadership of the global Catholic Church(link is external), telling a British church reform movement that the pontiff is ‘a conservative leader’ who is blessed with enemies who make him look more liberal than he is. Mary McAleese, a Catholic who served as the head of the Republic of Ireland from 1997-2011, cited the March document from the Vatican’s doctrinal office banning priests from blessing same-sex unions, on the grounds that God ‘cannot bless sin.’ By Sarah Mac Donald, National Catholic Reporter

Pope promotes theologian-priest who once testified against abusive mentor
“Pope Francis named a Chilean priest who had testified against his abusive mentor to be secretary of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy(link is external). Archbishop-designate Andrés Gabriel Ferrada Moreira of Santiago, the new secretary, replaces 76-year-old French Archbishop Joël Mercier, who retired in September. His appointment, announced Sept. 8, goes into effect Oct. 1. … The 52-year-old archbishop-designate was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Santiago de Chile in 1999. According to court testimony, in 1988 when he was 19, he met the late Fernando Karadima, a former priest who was defrocked by Pope Francis in 2018.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

Podcast: Can Pope Francis’ Latin Mass restrictions unify the church?
“This summer, Pope Francis made the controversial decision to place significant restrictions on the celebration of the Tridentine Latin Mass. He said that a survey of the world’s bishops showed that John Paul II and Benedict XVI’s generosity in allowing the pre-Vatican II Mass to be celebrated had been ‘exploited to widen the gaps, reinforce the divergences, and encourage disagreements that injure the church…and expose her to the peril of division(link is external).’” By Coleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

BISHOPS

The resignation of the Bishop of Broome raises some big questions for the Catholic Church
“Has the Catholic church in Australia, at its most senior levels, learned anything from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse about good governance, transparency, and justice for those who are at the margins? The resignation of the Bishop of Broome, Christopher Saunders, has left a significant level of disturbance and dispute within the diocese.(link is external) He is 71, and it is unusual that Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of a bishop under the standard retirement age of 75. The matter has proven highly contentious. Sexual misconduct allegations have been aired, along with claims of significant managerial problems …” By Noel Debien, ABC Religion and Ethics

WOMEN’S VOICES

Blocked from serving their church, Catholic women push for female deacons
“Casey Stanton wanted to offer encouragement, love and healing to the inmates at the North Carolina Correctional Institution for Women, where she served as a chaplain intern a few years ago. But as a Catholic woman she could not represent her church there in any official capacity. The state of North Carolina requires chaplains in its state prison system to be ordained. And the Catholic Church does not ordain women — neither as priests, nor as deacons(link is external).” By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Priestly celibacy is holding back the Catholic Church
“Some mothers are so full of grace and love, that they move slowly through their world offering unconditional compassion to all, but rarely see the crisis forming in their own lives. I am afraid that the Roman Catholic Church is one example of a selfless mother that appears unwary and blind to the seeds of its own self-destruction(link is external), and sits inert, seemingly paralyzed.” By Guest Opinion by Stephen Bowman, Syracuse.com

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

A Strategy for Launching a Eucharistic Revival
“In his article Separate Challenges (September 2021), Peter Steinfels argues that the U.S. bishops do not need another document on the Eucharist but rather a strategy on the Eucharist. Many bishops agree, and have therefore proposed developing a strategy designed to lead to a Eucharistic revival in our Church. The essential starting point must be the needs of our people as they live in this present moment and culture(link is external). Context is key. Every effort should be made to avoid an ahistorical presentation of the Eucharist that is abstracted from daily life. With that in mind, I offer five themes that might be considered in shaping a process that invites dialogue with the people we serve and reflects the pastoral, catechetical, and formational challenges that are specific to the U.S. context today …” By Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Commonweal

How can Catholics Re–Member the Church when voices are so divisive?
At VOTF Conference Re–Membering the Church, speakers will offer answers to such questions and discussion of Catholic Church issues — Headlines declaim Latin Masses, Communion wars and Vatican II attacks. Amid this divisiveness, the international group of reform-minded Catholics called Voice of the Faithful wants to Re—Member the Church, which will be discussed during its upcoming 2021 conference(link is external). Featured speakers and attendees will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.” By Digital Journal

Concerned Catholics seek healing path from sexual abuse
“Ever since the world learned about priests and brothers abusing orphan boys at Mount Cashel, for 40 years Canada’s Catholics have lived with a public image of their Church as hypocritical and defensive. As more abuse scandals rumbled across headlines and through the courts, public contempt for the Catholic Church became commonplace(link is external). Add onto this mountain of shame all that we’ve learned lately about Indian residential schools. In response, a lay movement has been growing over the last year — a network of faithful lay Catholics who are not going to live with the scandals or the paralysis of their Church anymore. Concerned Lay Catholics have been inspired by Pope Francis to take ownership of their Church and its problems. There are representatives now in nine provinces, and growing.” By Michael Swan, the Cahtolic Register

VOICES

Six suggestions for the Catholic bishops’ document on the Eucharist
“The U.S. bishops are working on a document on the Eucharist, which could be very helpful if they do it right. The chances are slim.(link is external) The origins of the document go back to the bishops’ fight with pro-choice Catholic politicians, such as John Kerry, over the legalization of abortion. Some bishops, like Cardinal Raymond Burke, wanted to punish pro-choice Catholic politicians by denying them Communion. Other bishops, such as the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, disagreed. George said he did not want his priests playing cop at the Communion rail. The U.S. bishops’ conference did what it normally does when bishops disagree: nothing.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Why the Catholic Church can’t put the clergy sex abuse scandal behind it
“A day of reckoning for a once powerful prince of the Roman Catholic Church had finally come. Frail and 91, former cardinal Theodore McCarrick was arraigned last week on charges that he sexually assaulted a 16-year-old boy at Wellesley College in the 1970s. As startling and historic as that event may be, it’s years too late for those he’s accused of having abused — and for a church that still struggles to put the clergy sex abuse scandal behind it. It probably never will(link is external), at least under the current generation of church leaders — not until there are no more victims, and no more clerics to hold accountable.” By  Joan Vennochi, The Boston Globe

Six suggestions for the Catholic bishops’ document on the Eucharist
“The U.S. bishops are working on a document on the Eucharist, which could be very helpful if they do it right(link is external). The chances are slim. The origins of the document go back to the bishops’ fight with pro-choice Catholic politicians, such as John Kerry, over the legalization of abortion. Some bishops, like Cardinal Raymond Burke, wanted to punish pro-choice Catholic politicians by denying them Communion. Other bishops, such as the late Cardinal Francis George of Chicago, disagreed. George said he did not want his priests playing cop at the Communion rail. The U.S. bishops’ conference did what it normally does when bishops disagree: nothing. It left to each individual bishop to do what he thought best in his diocese.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

We owe it to clerical abuse survivors to read the whole story
“On a beautiful day in the early summer of 2018, I was puttering around my apartment and getting ready for a parish visit. I was content in my work at an archdiocese, had recently returned from a stint at the Pre-Synod on Young People at the Vatican, and was knee-deep in wedding planning. To sound cheesy, I was loving church life. Out of the blue, as I was getting ready to leave for another day of the ministry work I loved, I received a call from a friend(link is external): ‘Nicole, we didn’t want you to find out elsewhere: Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been accused of sexual abuse and the accusations were found credible. The story is about to break everywhere.’” By Nicole M. Perone, U.S. Catholic

‘Procession’: Film Review | Telluride 2021
Robert Greene’s latest film, created with six men who were abused by Catholic priests and clergy(link is external), is a collaborative exercise in trauma recovery. — Memories of trauma — buried deep within the body, locked in a casket of shame — are difficult to excavate. Remembering can be a different kind of violence, so the mind resists recollecting that which has been shunned in the name of self-protection. But what happens when concealing no longer provides a certain level of safety? When the memories erupt and, in an astonishing turn of events, the mind betrays the body?” By Lovia Gyarkye, Hollywood Reporter

CALIFORNIA

Catholic Church pays $23.9 million to victims sexually abused by priests
“Six California Catholic dioceses including Fresno, which covers most of the Central Valley, paid $23.9 million to 197 victims abused by clergy members who opted to settle their claims instead of filing lawsuits(link is external). The last claim from victims had been processed by the Independent Compensation Program (ICP) for Victims of Sexual Abuse by Diocesan Priests in California on Sept. 2, according to announcement by the Independent Oversight Committee. The dioceses launched the ICP in September 2019 to provide any victim/survivor of childhood sexual abuse by a priest a non-adversarial resolution, regardless of when the abuse occurred … Together, the participating dioceses comprise more than 10 million Catholics, or about 80 percent of California’s Catholic population.” By the Lost Angeles Sun Gazette

Fresno Catholic Diocese speaks out on resignation, abuse allegations against former priest
“The Diocese of Fresno has remained mostly quiet about the allegations of abuse at parishes in Firebaugh and Bakersfield made against former Monsignor Craig Harrison. ‘I’ve been asked by our bishop to read this letter to you this morning,’ said a clergy member at St. Francis Church in Bakersfield. ‘The Diocese of Fresno did receive allegations of misconduct involving seven minors against Craig Harrison(link is external),” the letter read. After an internal investigation, the letter explains the Diocesan Review Board looked over each allegation and found them to be credible. Those findings led to a case being opened within the Vatican.” By Alyssa Flores, KFSN-TV30 News

ILLINOIS

Letter from Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, archbishop of Chicago, on the reinstatement of Father David F. Ryan
“Dear Parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Parish: Last November, I informed you of an accusation against your pastor, Father David F. Ryan, and that, in keeping with our procedures, he was asked to step aside from his pastoral duties until a thorough investigation and process could be completed. He has fully cooperated with civil authorities and the Archdiocese of Chicago during these months. Following the determination by state officials, who are charged with the protection of minors, that the allegation of child abuse was unfounded(link is external), the Independent Review Board of the Archdiocese of Chicago investigated the allegations in accordance with our usual procedures.” By Cardinal Blase J. Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, on archchicago.org

How Nate Lindstrom’s death by suicide spurred a push for more accountability on clergy sexual abuse
“By the time he was in his mid-30s, several years after he confided to his family that he’d been the victim as a teenager of sexual abuse by three priests, Nate Lindstrom was ‘really falling apart(link is external)’ mentally and emotionally, according to his parents. So they turned to the Norbertines, a Catholic religious order in Wisconsin. Lindstrom had told his family he’d been molested beginning the summer before his freshman year of high school in Green Bay, Wis., by Norbertine priests, including the Rev. James W. Stein, then a charismatic young cleric, who later ministered in Chicago.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

Archdiocese of Chicago removes 3 priests amid investigations into ‘inappropriate’ conduct
“The Archdiocese of Chicago is removing three priests from ministry, pending investigations into what the church calls ‘inappropriate’ conduct(link is external). In letters to parishioners Saturday (Sept.4), the archdiocese said these priests are stepping aside for relationships with other adults. The archdiocese said none of the incidents involved children. The letters also said the priests all acknowledged their behavior.” By WLS-TV7 News

KANSAS

DA drops sex abuse case of KCK priest. Trial ‘not in the best interests’ of victim
“Wyandotte County prosecutors have dismissed a criminal case against a Catholic priest in the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas charged with sexually abusing a minor(link is external). The Rev. Scott Kallal faced two felony counts of aggravated indecent liberties with a child stemming from incidents that allegedly occurred in 2015. Kallal’s case went to trial in September 2019 and ended in a hung jury. A new trial — delayed due to COVID-19 — was set to take place next year, but the Wyandotte County District Attorney’s Office dismissed the case last week. The action was announced Wednesday (Sept. 8) by the KCK archdiocese.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

MASSACHUSETTS

Priest who led Lowell, Marlborough churches barred from public ministry, sentenced to ‘life of prayer and penance’ for sexual abuse
“A Catholic priest who formerly led parishes in Lowell and Marlborough has been barred from public ministry after an ecclesiastical panel found him guilty of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) in the 1960s, the Archdiocese of Boston said Friday (Sept. 10). In a statement, the archdiocese confirmed the resolution of the case involving Rev. Paul J. McLaughlin, the former pastor of St. Peter Parish in Lowell and Immaculate Conception Parish in Marlborough. The statement said McLaughlin, 91, had been ‘found guilty of child abuse and his sentence has been affirmed by the Vatican to live a life of Prayer and Penance.’” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

Task force to weigh in on handling of clergy abuse reports by Springfield diocese
“After more than a year of work, a group has recommendations ready for the Springfield diocese on how it can improve its handling of allegations of clergy abuse(link is external). The final report by the Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield is due to be released at 10 a.m. Wednesday (Sept. 8). The task force was initially led by retired Judge Daniel A. Ford of Pittsfield. He stepped down in early June citing a perceived conflict of interest over his role, due to his work with the law firm Egan Flanagan & Cohen, which has long represented the diocese, including on clergy abuse legal matters.” By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Catholic priest charged with rape still going to trial Oct. 5
“The trial for the Catholic priest with Cape ties charged with rape is still set to take place at the beginning of October(link is external). Fairhaven resident Mark Hession, charged with two counts of rape, indecent assault and battery on a child 14 and under and intimidating a witness, will face a jury trial starting Oct. 5. Hession pleaded not guilty in January to the charges. Hession served at 12 institutions in the Cape Cod and Fall River areas, including as parish priest from 2000 to 2014 at Our Lady of Victory Church in Centerville.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

Diocese vows to be timely, transparent in sex abuse cases
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield on Wednesday (Sept. 8) promised to adopt a series of measures intended to improve its handling of sexual abuse allegations(link is external). The measures were recommended by a task force the diocese commissioned more than a year ago amid criticism of its handling of complaints. The panel issued its final report Wednesday and Bishop William Byrne said he will accept its suggestions.” By Associated Press

NEW MEXICO

Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s legal fees exceed $2.3 million in bankruptcy case
“A nearly 3-year-old bankruptcy case filed amid hundreds of child sexual abuse allegations has cost the Archdiocese of Santa Fe more than $2.3 million in legal fees alone(link is external). Federal court records show the Roman Catholic institution has used the services of at least four law firms with expertise in cases involving clergy sexual abuse and bankruptcy. The archdiocese seeks to reach a settlement with 385 claimants in its December 2018 Chapter 11 filing with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Albuquerque. This archdiocese and many dioceses across the nation, including the one in Gallup, have claimed bankruptcy in the Catholic Church scandal that began to receive attention in the early 1990s.” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe archdiocese denies it told principal not to report alleged sex abuse
“An official with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe has denied the organization directed Santo Niño Regional Catholic School Principal Robin Chavez not to report to law enforcement a concern of possible child sexual abuse by a school employee(link is external). In a statement Saturday (Sept. 4), the archdiocese said, ‘At no time did we, nor would we ever, tell a school not to contact the authorities. That is a direct violation of our Policy of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe Abuse Awareness Training for Adults Relating to Sexual Misconduct and Sexual Harassment.’” By Rick Ruggles, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Three Priests With Ties To Area Put On Leave
“Three retired priests with ties to northern Chautauqua County have been placed on administrative leave. Bishop Michael W. Fisher of the Buffalo Catholic diocese said action was taken after officials were informed that informational documents have been filed with the federal Bankruptcy Court as part of the diocese’s chapter 11 reorganization proceeding. Specifically, bankruptcy claimants have filed confidential documents containing information about their allegations against the priests(link is external).” By The Post-Journal

OHIO

‘There’s no escape’: Memories of being raped by Catholic priest haunt Columbus man
“The metal clink of a belt being unbuckled. The room coming in and out of focus. The pressure with which the older man pinned him to the floor. These are a few of the memories that come back to Chris Graham in snapshots from years ago, when he was raped by a Catholic priest at St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church in Powell. He was 14 years old(link is external). … Graham was a dedicated altar server at the time who looked up to priests at the parish so much that he considered becoming one.” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

WASHINGTON

GU commission releases report on Catholic sexual abuse crisis
“The University Commission on Gonzaga’s response to Catholic Sexual Abuse Crisis released its 18-month report on Wednesday (Sept. 7) with recommendations for GU President Thayne McCulloh on how the university can progress as a Jesuit institution given its specific historical and geographic context. The report stops short of issuing a formal apology or putting particular parties at fault for the presence of priests with a history of sexual abuse on the university’s premises(link is external), but offers future strategies to the president for how to ameliorate the situation going forward.” By Asher Ali and Devan Iyomasa, The Gonzaga Bulletin

ARGENTINA

Argentine priest sentenced to 17 years for abuse of minors
“Just two months after the founder of his order was given a 12-year jail sentence and defrocked for sexually abusing minors, Argentine Father Nicolas Parma Wednesday (Sept. 8) was sentenced to 17 years in prison on the same charges(link is external). Formerly a member of Argentina’s Hermanos Discípulos de Jesús de San Juan Bautista, or ‘Brother Disciples of Jesus of St. John the Baptist,’ Parma was accused by multiple people of sexual abuse in 2016 alongside the order’s founder, ex-priest Augustin Rosa.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow

AUSTRALIA

NSW pedophile priest believed own ‘lies’
“A Catholic priest and convicted pedophile must have believed his own lies(link is external) to give ‘demonstrably’ untrue evidence you could ‘poke a million holes through,’ a judge told a court. Anthony William Peter Caruana, 79, prayed silently in an isolated suite in prison before his second sentence hearing began in the NSW District Court on Wednesday (Sept. 15).” By Greta Stonehouse, 7News.com.au

‘I guess it’s closure’: $1m settlement for victim of clerical abuse
“A former student at Rupertswood Salesian College in Sunbury has received a $1 million legal settlement more than 30 years after he was raped by Catholic priest(link is external) David Rapson. While the money will help him deal with his ailing health, Ben Monagle says nothing can compensate for the harm caused by Rapson, which triggered decades of drug abuse, mental health problems, criminal offending and estrangement from his four children.” By Cameron Houston, The Age

CANADA

Montreal archbishop’s ombudswoman issues first report on abuse complaints
“Since May 5, 2021, the phone has been ringing at least once a day at the home of Marie Christine Kirouack, the Montreal lawyer to whom Archbishop Christian Lépine has entrusted the responsibility of receiving all complaints of abuse and inappropriate behavior committed by priests, staff members and volunteers of the Archdiocese of Montreal(link is external). Since the ombudswoman was named last spring, she has received hundreds of calls and many emails. In her very first quarterly report, released Sept. 9, Kirouack revealed that among all these calls, 29 denunciations were received and analyzed because they were related to sexual, physical, psychological or financial abuse.” By Frrancois Gloutnay, Catholic News Service, in The Catholic Register

Inuit upset ‘devil priest’ isn’t being pursued by federal government
“It may be too late for Marius Tungilik, but it’s not too late for other Inuit who allege they were sexually abused by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) at residential school in Nunavut. “I owe it to my friend, Marius, and the five other [alleged] victims,” said Inuit elder Peter Irniq. Irniq has been lobbying for more than 10 years for Canada to prosecute retired priest Johannes Rivoire for suspected sexual abuse of children. ‘The RC [Roman Catholic church] is under pressure,’ Irniq said from his home in Ottawa. ‘The government can no longer ignore this.’” By Kathleen Martens, APTNNews.ca

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Report finds ‘shocking’ failings over child sex abuse
“Child sexual abuse has been found to take place in most major UK religions, according to the latest report by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse. Some religious organizations were found to have no child protection policies in place at all.(link is external) IICSA found “blatant hypocrisy” and “shocking failings” among religious organizations purporting to teach right from wrong and yet failing to prevent or respond to child sexual abuse. The Child protection in religious organizations and settings report examines evidence received from 38 religious organisations in England and Wales.” By The Tablet

Scots ex-priest who claims he was sexually abused by Archbishop demands Vatican release secret report
“A former priest who says he was abused by shamed Cardinal O’Brien has called for a secret Vatican report into the allegations to be released(link is external). Brian Devlin, 61, was one of four priests who accused the Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh of sexual misconduct in 2013. The scandal saw the disgraced cardinal – one of the most senior Catholic clerics in the UK – quit and apologise. In the aftermath, the Vatican ordered its own internal probe, carried out by Bishop Charles Scicluna. The bishop – who has gone on to become the Archbishop of Malta – was one of the Vatican’s best known sex abuse investigators.” By The Daily Record

HUNGARY

DK Calls for Probing Catholic Church Sexual Abuse Allegations
“The opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) called for a government investigative committee to be set up to look into alleged sexual abuses of minors within the Catholic Church(link is external). DK deputy leader Ágnes Vadai told an online press conference that the committee should not limit its investigations to individual sexual abuse cases, but should also work to expose ‘systemic shortcomings,’ insisting that the Catholic Church, which she said was ‘tied to the Orbán government,’ had made no attempt to look into any of the allegations.” By Hungary Today

INDIA

Less words, more actions needed to protect minors
“During the 2019 Summit of Bishops in Rome on The Protection of Minors in the Church, Catholic Church officials told a press conference that Pope Francis had given bishops a handout of 21 points — a road map for policy and law seeking to save children from abuses within the Church(link is external). On the last day of the summit, Cardinal Oswald Gracias, Archbishop of Bombay and member of Pope Francis’ Council of Cardinals, was among those addressing the press conference.” By Virginia Saldanha, UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

School of savagery: ‘Stuck forever in that room in Manchester with my trousers round my ankles’
“Overlying the violence and the terror there is something else. Msgr Duggan is the rector of the college, and word among the boys is that to go to his room for punishment involves dropping your trousers and underpants and is always followed by a groping(link is external) – and sometimes something worse. He is short and plump, his bald head is powdered to kill the shine, and his eyes are black, cold, dead buttons. He knows we fear him and in that knowledge he hugs his savagely twisted sexuality close – to him the smell of fear is an aphrodisiac.” By Mike Harding, The Irish Times

Woman celebrates after priest who abused her 40 years ago finally found guilty
“Fr John Joseph Murray (80) was found guilty by a jury at at Dungannon Crown Court last Friday (Sept. 3) of sexually assaulting two young girls(link is external). The unanimous verdict – which had been reached in under an hour – marked the end of the long and difficult road for two of his victims. They had both been chasing justice for 40 years. Sinead was just 11 when the abuse started. And this week as she stood outside the former St Matthew’s Parochial House in Bryson Street in east Belfast, the now 50-year-old said just being there sent shivers down her spine.” By Hugh Jordan, Sunday World

Church leaders express regret after falsely accused Irish priest takes his life
“Father Alan Griffin, who died in November last year, spent a year under scrutiny over abuse allegations without ever hearing the claims(link is external). In a response to a damning coroner’s report, church leaders accepted responsibility for their ‘poor investigation’ and ‘what went wrong.’ The earlier, scathing coroner’s report found ‘no complainant, no witness, and no accuser’ supported the allegations. Dublin-born Griffin had been a Church of England clergyman before converting to Catholicism in 2012.” By Nick Bramhill, IrishCentral.com

NEW ZEALAND

No abuse hearing in Dunedin called ‘slap in the face’
“A decision to not hold a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care hearing in Dunedin has been criticized as a ‘repulsive slap in the face’ for Southern survivors. The South, and Dunedin in particular, is considered one of the country’s epicenters for child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external). The royal commission says it has engaged with many Dunedin survivors and is committed to investigating their claims. But the Network of Survivors in Faith Based Institutions says it is failing to meet its obligations.” By Daisy Hudson, Otago Daily News

Catholic Church planned to house teen-sexting priest on primary school grounds
“The Catholic Church planned to accommodate a priest who was on bail for sex-messaging a 15-year-old girl at a house on the grounds of a primary school(link is external). Sosefo Sateki Raass, later found guilty of indecent communication with a person under 16 and sentenced to 100 hours’ community service, wasn’t told he couldn’t stay at the address until after his victim’s aunt complained to the Ministry of Education. Church officials proposed the bail address but didn’t tell police or the Auckland District Court it was so close to young children – even though Raass had a bail condition preventing any unsupervised contact with under-16s.” By Steve Kilgallon, Stuff.co.nz

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The Spirit in the Assembly: Preparing for the synod on synodality / Commonweal

“A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar.”

Commonweal

“The most far-reaching event in the Catholic Church in my lifetime officially gets its start next month. It is Pope Francis’s boldest move yet, the historic shake-up that a Church brought low by sex-abuse scandals badly needs, and potentially the most transformative moment in Catholicism since the Second Vatican Council, which it seeks to embed permanently into the life of the Church. The two-year “synod on synodality,” launched in Rome on October 9 and in dioceses worldwide a week later, is set to mark Christianity forever.

“Yet who knows it is even happening? A global process set to mobilize millions and transform the world’s oldest and largest institution has so far registered as no more than a blip on the Catholic radar. Bishops briefed by Rome’s synod secretariat back in May have been mostly quiet about it, hiding behind cautious communiqués buried on websites, awaiting details, fearful of unleashing forces and expectations beyond their command.

“So we begin with a paradox. The path to the 2023 Synod in Rome, on the theme “For a Synodal Church: communion, participation and mission,” is designed to engage every diocese, every bishops’ conference, and every continental Church body. It will unleash the biggest popular consultation in history. It will require, as never before, the assembly of the People of God, in mass meetings at parishes and across dioceses around the world, who are being given “the ability to imagine a different future for the Church and her institutions, in keeping with the mission she has received,” in the words of the Preparatory Document released last week.”

By Austen Ivereigh, Commonweal — Read more …


Click here to read the Vatican news release announcing the 2023 Synod and to see list of links to Vatican and Voice of the Faithful resources to help understand the Synod.

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