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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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Jan. 20, 2023

TOP STORIES

Hierarchy’s sacramental betrayal in abuse scandal obstructs synodality
“What I eventually came to understand about the scandal affected not only my career … It would also ultimately place in question much of what I knew and understood about the church. What transpired regarding the scandal in the more than 35 years since that phone conversation continues to be the dominant lens through which I view developments in the church, including the synodal process underway. I agree with theologian Massimo Faggioli and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who wrote recently in this space: ‘It must be understood that the chances of the synodal process that will soon begin its continental phase are closely tied to what the Catholic Church is doing and not doing on the abuse crisis. It’s about the abuse crisis even when it’s not explicitly about the abuse crisis.’” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

The life and complicated legacy of Pope Benedict XVI
“Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI died at 95 on Saturday (Dec. 31), leaving behind a complicated legacdy and a lasting impact on Catholics across the globe. Margaret Roylance, vice president of Voice of the Faithful – a lay group that supports survivors of clergy sexual abuse – and Thomas Groome, professor of theology & religious education at Boston College, spoke to Liz Neisloss about the positive changes the late pope made within the Church, as well as the darker periods of his papacy.” By WGBH-TV News

Exclusive: Vatican must treat abuse victims better, pope’s lead investigator says
“Pope Francis’ lead clergy abuse investigator has acknowledged survivors’ frustrations with the Vatican’s strict culture of secrecy about Catholic bishops accused of misconduct or cover-up. Victims who bring a claim forward have a right to know how it is handled, said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna. In a National Catholic Reporter interview, Scicluna admitted the Vatican is not at what he termed ‘an optimal point’ with regard to how it follows up with abuse victims, calling the matter ‘something that needs to be developed.’” By Joshua J.McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

Traditionalists, reform and women
“As the Catholic Synod on Synodality enters its ‘continental phase,’ some have wondered if the church is moving toward Vatican Three. Of course, there are still fights going on about Vatican Two. Not long ago, Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, said the current synod would lead ‘to a new reception of the Second Vatican Council,’ allowing the reforms of the mid-1960s to finally take hold. A small but vocal cadre of Catholics fears that precise possibility, which they caricature as a church overrun with bad liturgy, bad moral theology and guitar music.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

Women and the Church
“We should not forget Sarah, but rather, we should remember her more than we do, and recognize her role in salvation history was at least equal to Abraham’s. What has happened to Sarah, the way we tend to forget about her and think only of Abraham, shows how easy it is for us to ignore the role women have played in salvation history. We must not think this is a problem only for those women born before Christ, for if we look at Christian history, it is clear that the role Christian women have played in history has been marginalized or forgotten, just like it was for their pre-Christian counterparts.” By Henry Karlson, Patheos

TRANSPARENCY & ACCOUNTABILITY

Diocese again receives high grade in annual VOTF report
“In the recent 2022 financial transparency report by the Voice of the Faithful, a national lay organization of Catholics that formed after the revelations of clerical sexual abuse in 2002, the Fall River Diocese was again ranked among the top dioceses belonging to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. For the second consecutive year the diocese earned a score of 92 out of 100 points. The report is based on a review of 177 dioceses across the country. The review was done last summer by a team of independent reviewers, with results published on November 30. The average score for the 177 dioceses surveyed was 70 (up from 69 last year).” By Anchor News of the Diocese of Fall River

McCarrick’s lawyers say he’s not competent to stand trial
“Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick is in ‘significant’ mental decline and may not be fit to stand trial for allegedly sexually abusing a 16-year-old boy, his attorneys say in a new court filing. The legal team for the 92-year-old ex-prelate said it plans to file a motion to dismiss the case, citing a neurological exam conducted by Dr. David Schretlen, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. The exam took place on Dec. 5, 2022, at a facility in Missouri where McCarrick is living.” By Joe Bukuras, Catholic News Agency

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Pope Francis: synodal journey ‘a challenge and task’ for American seminarians
“Pope Francis told American seminarians in Rome that they are called to take up the ‘challenge and task’ of the synodal journey — of listening to the Holy Spirit and to one another — as they study to become priests. The pope met with students, staff, and faculty of the Pontifical North American College at the Vatican on the morning of Jan. 14. ‘Your time here in Rome,’ he said, ‘coincides with the synodal journey that the whole Church is presently undertaking, a journey that involves listening, to the Holy Spirit and to one another, in order to discern how to help God’s holy people live his gift of communion and become missionary disciples.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

Church in Oceania prepares response to Synod of Bishops report
“The rich diversity of the Catholic Church across Oceania, as well as its unity, was evident during a meeting in Melbourne last week of representatives of the region’s four bishops conferences and Eastern Catholic churches. More than 20 people from across the Pacific gathered to reflect on and respond to the Working Document for the Continental Stage released by the Synod of Bishops Secretariat, titled Enlarge the Space of Your Tent. The discernment and writing group was convened to prepare a draft report from Oceania to be considered at next month’s assembly of the Federation of Catholic Bishops Conferences of Oceania (FCBCO) in Fiji.” By Catholic Outlook, News from the Diocese of Parramatta

Synod on Synodality: ‘great moment of ecclesial communion’: Catholic bishops in CAR
“The ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality offer an opportunity for ‘ecclesial communion’ among the people of God in the Central African Republic (CAR), Catholic Bishops in the country have said. In a statement issued Sunday, Jan. 15, members of the Central African Episcopal Conference (CECA) say the synodal process has helped the Church in CAR to seek a new beginning in Christ.” By Jude Atemanke, aciafrica.org

If taken seriously, the synodal process could transform race relations in the U.S. church
“Since our nation’s origin, color and race have crippled the quest for equality. The racial gap that many believed was narrowing has abruptly widened. White backlash to eight years of a Black president, police and vigilante killings of unarmed Blacks, the cumulative impacts of mass incarceration, disparities in health care, job opportunities, home financing, school suspensions, criminal justice sentences and other inequities confirm the 1968 Kerner Commission finding that America is two unequal societies.” By Daryl Grigsby, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis reorganizes Diocese of Rome in face of ‘epochal change’
“Pope Francis on Friday Jan. 6) issued a document reorganizing the Vicariate of Rome in what he called a time of ‘epochal change.’ The apostolic constitution, In Ecclesiarum Communione, replaces a 1998 constitution promulgated by Pope John Paul II. It goes into effect on Jan. 31. ‘In arranging this new Constitution for the Vicariate,’ Francis wrote in the preface, ‘in the face of an ‘epochal change’ that involves everything and everyone, I hope that it will be primarily an exemplary place of communion, dialogue and proximity, welcoming and transparent, at the service of the renewal and pastoral growth of the Diocese of Rome, an evangelizing community, a synodal Church, a people which credibly witness to God’s mercy.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency, in National Catholic Register

Benedict’s burial leaves Francis alone, and unbound
“Since the first day of his papacy nearly a decade ago, Pope Francis has had to navigate an unprecedented complication in the Roman Catholic Church: coexisting with his retired predecessor in the same Vatican gardens. Supporters of Francis studiously played down the two-pontiff anomaly, but it generated confusion, especially when conservative acolytes of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI sought to wrap their fervent opposition in their leader’s white robes.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

CARDINALS

George Pell, cardinal whose abuse conviction was overturned, dies at 81
“Cardinal George Pell, an Australian cleric and adviser to Pope Francis who became the most senior Roman Catholic prelate to be sent to prison for child sexual abuse and was later acquitted of all charges, died on Tuesday (Jan. 10) in Rome. He was 81 … Cardinal Pell was for decades one of Australia’s most powerful religious figures. A former athlete with a formidable intellect and a combative streak, he was a conservative voice heard regularly in the media, opposing abortion while defending the church against accusations of child abuse as the archbishop of the Melbourne diocese and then the Sydney diocese.” By Natasha Frost and Damien Cave, The New York Times

Woman accusing prominent cardinal of sexual misconduct reveals identity
“The woman who alleges she experienced unwanted sexual touching by Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet has revealed her identity, saying she wants more transparency from the Vatican and to encourage others to come forward with their stories of abuse. Paméla Groleau is one of the more than 130 people taking part in a class action lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Quebec, which includes allegations of sexual misconduct against 96 members of its clergy dating back to 1940.” By CBC News

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

LCWR leaders talk about unprecedented transformation of religious life
“The biggest issues in religious life in the United States today all revolve around the transformation it is undergoing, say leaders of the organization representing about two-thirds of the country’s Catholic sisters. That was the focus of an hourlong interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious on Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2022, during a GSR staff ‘summit’ at the National Catholic Reporter offices.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

For 2023, USIG officers prioritize the synodal journey and a ‘culture of care’
“Catholic sisters are looking both deeply outward and deeply inward — affirming both ministries to help heal a broken world and accompanying people on their spiritual journeys. Those are among the takeaways from a nearly 90-minute interview Global Sisters Report staff had via Zoom with officers of the International Union of Superiors General, or UISG, on Wednesday, Dec. 7, at National Catholic Reporter offices in Kansas City, Missouri.” By Chris Herlinger, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Dolores Curran had the shocking idea that laity might lead the Catholic Church
“With a peal of laughter, the dynamic, groundbreaking Dolores Curran arrived in heaven on Dec. 4. At a time when the U.S. Catholic Church was dominated by priests and religious, she introduced the then-shocking notion that the laity might also play a part. In her groundbreaking 1985 book “Who, Me Teach My Child Religion?” she suggested the home was an arena for spirituality and that parents just might find God there. She taught that the sacred work of relationships doesn’t happen only at church or on retreat, but in kitchens, garages and bedrooms.” By Kathy Coffey, National Catholic Reporter

CHILD PROTECTION

Safeguarding requires experts, survivors, support, cardinal says
There can be no improvising or going it alone when it comes to preventing and handling cases of abuse in the Catholic Church, said U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. Everything must be considered with an accusation: ‘the rights of victim, the rights of the accused, the civil authorities, the church, the parish, the families’ and more, the cardinal told Catholic News Service in Rome Jan. 6.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on CatholicReview.org

VATICAN

French priest restricted, not defrocked, after abuse claims
“The Vatican has ordered a prominent French priest who advised the Holy See for years on matters of sex and homosexuality to cease his psychotherapy practice following allegations he sexually abused men in his therapeutic care. But the Vatican didn’t defrock or otherwise sanction the Rev. Tony Anatrella despite several well-documented complaints against him, in further evidence of the Holy See’s reluctance to invoke harsh measures to punish priests who abuse adults.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

The legacy of Cardinal George Pell: Is it what the church needs now?
“Cardinal George Pell, who died this week as a result of complications related to hip surgery, was the poster boy for Pope John Paul II’s ‘heroic priesthood,’ a discernible type of prelate that was common throughout the 20th century. Conspicuous, forceful, determined, dismissive toward contrary opinions, he was a polarizing figure convinced of the need to risk polarization in order to defend the church’s teachings.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

More Americans stay away from church as pandemic nears year three
“At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly every congregation in the United States shut down, at least for a while. For some Americans, that was the push they needed to never come back to church. A new report, which looked at in-person worship attendance patterns before the beginning of the pandemic and in 2022, found that a third of those surveyed never attend worship services. That’s up from 25% before the start of the pandemic.” By Bob Smietana, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Diane Langberg on church leaders and abuse: ‘We have utterly failed God’
“Not long after Diane Langberg began working as a clinical psychologist in the 1970s, a client told her that she had been a victim of sexual abuse at the hands of her father. Not sure of what to do, Langberg went to talk to her supervisor. The supervisor, Langberg recalled, dismissed the allegations. ‘He told me that women make these things up,’ Langberg said. ‘My job was to not be taken in by them.’ The supervisor’s response left Langberg in a dilemma. Did she believe her client? Or did she trust her supervisor’s advice?” By Bob Smietana, Religion News Service

Benedict XVI’s quiet exit at odds with his lasting imprint on the pontificate
“Some popes go out with a bang. The announcement of Pope John Paul II’s death in 2005 reverberated around the world, and in Rome, locals will tell you that his funeral was the biggest one in memory: Cars were abandoned mid-traffic, as mobs rushed toward St. Peter’s Basilica. An estimated 3 million faithful lined up for hours on end to glimpse John Paul’s casket. By comparison, the news of Benedict XVI’s death, delivered on New Year’s Eve, was met with an unmistakable air of quiet.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Survivors of sexual abuse plead for changes in Kansas law that protects pedophiles
“Four survivors of childhood sexual abuse revealed details about the worst moments of their lives in a public rebuke of state law that protects pedophiles from criminal prosecution or civil lawsuits. Backed by a bipartisan coalition of state lawmakers, the women emphasized that it can take years before a survivor accepts what happened and is willing to talk about it. Most people who are victimized as children won’t share their experiences until they are over age 50. Kansas state law requires requires survivors to file a civil lawsuit by age 21.” By Shermin Smith, Louisiana Illuminator

New Pa. speaker wants ‘work group’ after slow session start
“A week after he was a surprise choice to become speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Democratic state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Monday (Jan. 9) canceled sessions for the rest of the week after failing to reach a deal on his primary legislative priority. Lawmakers were brought to the Capitol for a hastily called special session designed to speed passage of a two-year window for letting some victims of child sexual abuse file otherwise outdated lawsuits.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press

Child sex abuse is ‘soul murder.’ Massachusetts should lift the statute of limitations
“A recent change in Maine law has given people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s a chance to seek justice, at long last, for the sex abuse they endured as children. The measure retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits in these cases, allowing victims to seek restitution from the churches and summer camps and Boy Scout troops that had failed them so grievously decades ago. Robert Dupuis, 73, is among those who have filed suit since the law changed.” By The Boston Globe Editorial Board

Part 2: Law could eliminate statute of limitations in civil cases involving sexual assault
“Churches across the country, including Corpus Christi, have survivors of sexual abuse by priests asking for information about their alleged assailant. Patrick Wilkes has requested secret files on his father, James Wilkes, who was a priest in Corpus Christi but he said they have not been provided. He also said his father sexually abused him, his siblings and others.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Archbishop Scicluna defends Benedict XVI’s efforts to fight abuse
“Benedict XVI’s passing has reignited talk about how adequately he addressed sexual abuse in the Church. From being the first Pontiff to meet with abuse victims, to taking action against powerful and guilty priests, to being accused of mismanaging cases in his diocese when he was a bishop in Germany, the Pope Emeritus left a mixed record, according to many observers. However, the Archbishop of Malta, Charles Scicluna, has instead strongly defended the Pope Emeritus’ efforts in various statements published by multiple media outlets.” By Isabella H. de Carvalho, Aleteia

How might the latest George Pell coverage affect child sexual abuse survivors?
“You might have wondered if the recent death of George Pell, who was jailed in 2019 for child sexual abuse and then later acquitted, would bring a sense of relief or closure for victim survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse. After all, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse found Pell had failed to do enough during his time in senior church roles in Australia to stop priests who abused children.” By The Conversation

CALIFORNIA

‘Just find the truth’: How ex-FBI aagents help the LA Archdiocese vet accusations
“For 25 years, Marty Gallagher tracked down kidnappers, investigated government fraud and foreign counterintelligence, and in one case even helped send a young military contractor to prison for espionage. After retiring from his post as a Los Angeles-based FBI agent in 1988, he spent time in the private sector … Then, in the 2000s, he discovered a new calling that asked for his talents and experience: helping the Catholic Church investigate allegations of clerical sexual abuse, part of a crisis that was then shaking the institution to its core.” By Tom Hoffarth and Pablo Kay, Angelus News

KANSAS

Kansas clergy not mandatory reporters for child sex crimes
“Following a KBI report involving child sexual abuse by Catholic Clergy in Kansas, the KSHB 41 I-Team has been digging into allegations made in the past, as well as examining possible solutions to prevent this type of abuse in the future. And, what we’re hearing from some critics, is that not enough is being done to ensure these crimes are reported.” By Caitlin Knute, KSHB-TV41 News

Victims’ attorney reacts to KBI report detailing child abuse by Catholic clergy in Kansas
“The 21-page report details what KBI calls an immense investigation. It has a scope of more than 50 years, looking into all four archdioceses of Kansas. During the four-year investigation, KBI’s Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Task Force identified more than 400 victims, opened 125 criminal cases and investigated nearly 200 clergy members. The Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, recommended this investigation to the Attorney General’s Office in November 2018. On Saturday (Jan. 7), they released a statement in response to the report — saying you cannot read it without your heart breaking.” By Peyton Headlee, KMBC-TV9 News

MAINE

Suit alleges sexual abuse at religious retreats in Bucksport and Bar Harbor decades ago
“An unnamed Oregon woman, ‘Jane Doe,’ who lived in a Catholic orphanage in Massachusetts in the 1950s, has filed a federal civil suit against the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate alleging sexual abuse by priests during Oblate-run retreats in Bar Harbor and Bucksport when she was a young child … The Maine Legislature in June of 2021 lifted a statute of limitations on childhood sexual abuse cases, which is allowing the case of “Jane Doe” and a dozen others to move through the Maine civil court system.” By Jennifer Osborn, The Ellsworth American

Lawsuit alleges Bangor Catholic priest sexually assaulted woman in 1970s
“Another lawsuit has been filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, alleging sexual abuse. Mary Banks, a former Cumberland resident, alleges former priest Renal C. Halle at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor sexually assaulted her while she was a member of the diocese’s youth organization, according to the Portland Press Herald. The lawsuit includes seven counts, including sexual assault and intentional infliction of emotional distress.” By CBS-TV13 News

Decades-old abuse claims against Portland diocese, once blocked, pour in after state law change
“When the Rev. Lawrence Sabatino allegedly sexually abused a 6-year-old Ann Marie Burke at St. Peter Parish nearly 60 years ago, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland already was aware of at least one other girl Sabatino had reportedly abused at a different church in Lewiston several years earlier. The church moved Sabatino from Lewiston to Portland in 1958, after 6-year-old Patricia Butkowski‘s parents presented church officials with evidence the priest had sexually abused their daughter, a report from the Maine Attorney General’s office revealed 46 years later.” By Emily Allen and eric Russell, Portland Pess Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

Abuse victim speaks out
“The priest who sexually abused David Rigby in 1976 said he was giving the young student a medical exam. ‘As a naive, 14-year-old boy I didn’t realize that priests with no medical qualifications don’t have the right to give a medical exam to anybody,’ Rigby said Monday (Jan. 9). He was speaking on a corner in Andover across from St. Augustine Parish, where he was accompanied by Robert Hoatson of Road to Recovery, a charity that assists victims of sexual abuse. Mitchell Garabedian, the Boston attorney who represents clergy sex abuse victims, was present on Zoom. He said he earned a low, six-figure settlement a month ago for Rigby’s abuse and that of one other boy at the hands of the priest, Robert Turnbull.” By Will Broaddus, The Eagle-Tribune

MISSOURI

Former St. Louis priest sentenced to prison for thousands of child porn images
“A former Catholic priest was sentenced Tuesday (Jan. 10) to five years in prison after admitting to possessing thousands of pieces of child pornography and putting them into PowerPoints that he edited over the course of more than a decade. Father James Beighlie, 72, was a Vincentian priest who most recently served as an associate pastor at St. Vincent de Paul Parish in St. Louis. He pleaded guilty in October to two counts of possession of child pornography. In exchange, prosecutors recommended he receive a prison sentence within a federal guideline range of just over seven years in prison.” By Katie Kull, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

PENNSYLVANIA

How much will Pa. have to pay for child sex abuse claims if lawsuit window is opened up?
“As state lawmakers decide the political costs of opening a two-year window for child sex abuse survivors to sue, much of the debate about the two-year window for those past the statute of limitations has been about the potential financial impact on the catholic church over the egregious abuse claims outlined in those grand jury reports. But that proposal would open the door for all adult victims of child sexual abuse, and a new study shows how much that could ultimately cost taxpayers.” By WJAC-TV21 News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic priest who formerly served in Charleston indicted on federal sex abuse charges
“Federal prosecutors charged a Catholic priest who served for several years in the Charleston Diocese with sexually abusing an 11-year-old child. Jaime Adolfo Gonzalez-Farias, 68, was arrested Nov. 28, 2022, in Florida, court records show. The Chilean national had worked in South Carolina as a visiting priest of the Diocese of San Bernardo, Chile, between 2015 and 2020, according to church records. Prosecutors charged him in an October 2022 indictment with three counts of sexual crimes: coercion or enticement of a minor; transportation of a minor with intent to engage in criminal sexual activity; and aggravated sexual abuse of children.” By Jocelyn Grzeszczak, The Post and Courier

TEXAS

Six investigates obtains secret documents held by the Diocese of Corpus Christi
“The history of sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church is widely documented. Locally, there are at least 12 pending civil cases against the Diocese of Corpus Christi. 6 Investigates obtained secret documents from the Diocese of Corpus Christi, which showed the steps they took, or didn’t take, when dealing with accusations against a local priest.” By Bryan Hoffman, KRIS-TV6 News

VERMONT

Vermont lawmaker to seek to close clergy reporting exemption
“The head of the Vermont Senate Judiciary Committee says he’s going to introduce a bill in the upcoming legislative session to close an exemption to the state’s child abuse and neglect reporting laws for members of the clergy. Democratic Sen. Richard Sears of Bennington says he was unaware that the Vermont law requiring members of a number of professions, including doctors, teachers, social workers and the clergy, to report abuse if they become aware of it contains an exemption for members of the clergy if they become aware of abuse during a setting that is considered privileged, such as during confession.” By Wilson Ring, Associated Press

AUSTRALIA

Former altar boy’s father to press on with abuse case against Pell
“The father of a former altar boy will press ahead with legal action against Cardinal George Pell’s estate over the alleged sexual abuse of his son, his lawyers said Wednesday (Jan. 11). Shine Lawyers said they would continue to pursue the claim against any estate left by the cardinal, who died Tuesday in Rome. The former altar boy died in 2014, and his father — who has not been identified — filed the claim against Pell and the Archdiocese of Melbourne in 2021.” By Agence France-Presse, on UCANews.com

CANADA

French demonstrators demand extradition of retired priest accused of abusing Inuit children
“The French government denied Canada’s extradition request for Johannes Rivoire last fall. ‘For us as French citizen[s], it’s a real shame that our government refuses to make part of justice for Inuit people,’ said Amandine Sanvisens, who was among the demonstrators. ‘We wanted to show and to put the light on this place where he lives.’ The allegations against Rivoire stem from his time working as an Oblate priest in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s.” By CBC News

CHILE

‘Blanquita’ turns real-life case of child abuse into indictment of injustice
“In spite of her youth, Blanquita (Laura López) knows she doesn’t want to be a saint. She’s tried it before, she says, and it didn’t work out. By age 18, she’s seen enough of life’s darkest side to know being good doesn’t mean she’ll be treated justly. She has spent her life living under a care system that’s failed to care for her when she needed it most, allowing men to abuse and exploit her in myriad ways. All she wants now is a place to live with her baby daughter, the identity of the father anyone’s guess considering she’s been sexually abused repeatedly and forced to engage in sex work in order to survive.” By Jose Solis, National Catholic Reporter

FRANCE

Former archbishop of Paris under investigation for sexual assault is ‘outraged but serene’
“The former archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit, is reportedly under preliminary investigation for sexual assault on a vulnerable person, according to a report from the Archdiocese of Paris in late November 2022, French news channel BFMTV reported. According to the TV channel’s report, the allegations date back to 2011 and concern a vulnerable former parishioner, subject to a judicial protection measure. Aupetit is suspected of having exchanged sexual emails with this parishioner, who suffers from a “slight mental deficiency.” By Solène Tadié, Catholic News Agency

GERMANY

Catholic Church: one year Munich abuse report
“Many who were abused by Catholic clergymen as children or young people find that too little has happened. One of them is Rolf Fahnenbruck, who experienced severe sexualized violence as a child in the diocese of Essen and now lives in the diocese of Passau. He is the spokesman for the local Advisory Board. So far, he has been compensated for his suffering with 25,000 euros. But it’s not about the money, he says in an interview BR24. Because even with the performance notice, a person affected by abuse is alone again with his problem.” By David Sadler Globe Echo World News

INDIA

Vatican replaces Indian bishop accused of serious crimes
“An Indian Catholic bishop probed by a Vatican-appointed team of bishops for alleged involvement in serious crimes like murder, rape and misappropriation of church funds, has been ordered to ‘take a period of absence from the ministry.’ Bishop Kannikadass A William of Mysore (now Mysuru) has been replaced by retired Archbishop Bernard Moras of Bangalore as apostolic administrator of southern India’s Karnataka state.” By UCANews.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Spiritan scandal: ‘Why was Fr. Arthur Carragher moved to Canads, where he was free to abuse my 10-year-old brother?
“Pete Fischer was standing in a queue at the supermarket when the call came that turned everything he knew, or thought he knew, about his older brother Jeff on its head. It was August 2018. The Pope’s visit to Ireland was making international headlines. An Irish man was interviewed on Canadian television about the sexual abuse he’d suffered as a child in Dublin at the hands of a priest called Fr Arthur Carragher, who was later shunted off to Canada.” By Maeve Sheehan, Independent.ie

NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand church leaders make commitments to abuse survivors
“The bishops and the leaders of religious orders of the Catholic Church in Aotearoa New Zealand have published a statement of commitments adopted in response to the continuing work of the Royal Commission on Abuse in Care. The statement is signed by Fr Thomas Rouse SSC, President of the Congregational Leaders Conference of Aotearoa New Zealand, and Cardinal John Dew, President of the New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, on behalf of their respective members. The set of 10 commitments – along with others previously made – will become part of what the Church calls the ‘Tautoko Roadmap’ for the path the Church is taking in response to the royal commission and the wishes of abuse survivors.” By CathNews.com

PHILIPPINES

Old clerical abuse habits die hard in the Philippines
One serious case shows how some Church authorities still look to cover up sex attacks on minors—The many incidents of child sexual abuse by predator priests have shamed thousands of good bishops and benevolent clerics who have been justly angered by the rampant salacious acts of their fellow pedophile priests and in some cases by high-profile bishops and high-ranking cardinals. They feel helpless when their bishop protects the abuser priest and calls him ‘his son.’ They long for justice for the victims and wish to exonerate their own vocation and the blemished priesthood from the tyranny of abuser priests.” By UCANews.com

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Traditionalists, reform and women / Religion News Service

If truth be told, the women of the church are leading its reform. Only they can lead its rebirth.

Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

“As the Catholic Synod on Synodality enters its ‘continental phase, some have wondered if the church is moving toward Vatican Three.

“Of course, there are still fights going on about Vatican Two.

“Not long ago, Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary of the General Secretariat of the Synod, said the current synod would lead ‘to a new reception of the Second Vatican Council,’ allowing the reforms of the mid-1960s to finally take hold. A small but vocal cadre of Catholics fears that precise possibility, which they caricature as a church overrun with bad liturgy, bad moral theology and guitar music.

“Lately these so-called traditionalists have lost two beacons of their truths. The recent deaths of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and Australian Cardinal George Pell may serve to deflate the anti-synod underground, or at least weaken its intellectual base.”

By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service — Read more …

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Hierarchy’s sacramental betrayal in abuse scandal obstructs synodality / National Catholic Reporter

Members of the hierarchy appear not to realize the depth to which the effects of the scandal have seeped into every level of the institution. If they did, they would be acting far differently.

Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

“It was in late spring, 1985, when I received a call from NCR’s then-editor Tom Fox. I think he said he hoped I was sitting down.

“Fox and I often exchanged calls when we thought that one of our publications had something of interest for the other. At the time, I was news editor of what was then called Religious News Service, headquartered on a floor in the former Jesuit residence at 56th Street and Sixth Avenue in New York.

“I was sitting at my desk when he told me that NCR’s next edition would contain an extensive and rather explosive report detailing the abuse of children by Catholic priests and the failure of hierarchy to do anything about it.

“That conversation was a jarring introduction to corruption and evil that continue to reverberate to this day. That first national story to be published about the scandal was extensive, detailed, and the accompanying editors’ commentary saw far into the future.

“What I eventually came to understand about the scandal affected not only my career (I landed at NCR in 1994) and how I would spend my time in the world of religion reporting. It would also ultimately place in question much of what I knew and understood about the church.”

What transpired regarding the scandal in the more than 35 years since that phone conversation continues to be the dominant lens through which I view developments in the church, including the synodal process underway. I agree with theologian Massimo Faggioli and Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner, who wrote recently in this space: “‘It must be understood that the chances of the synodal process that will soon begin its continental phase are closely tied to what the Catholic Church is doing and not doing on the abuse crisis. It’s about the abuse crisis even when it’s not explicitly about the abuse crisis.'”

By Tom Robert, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Jan. 6, 2023

Jan. 6, 2023

TOP STORIES

Benedict XVI, first pope to resign in 600 years, dies at 95
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, the shy German theologian who tried to reawaken Christianity in a secularized Europe but will forever be remembered as the first pontiff in 600 years to resign from the job, died Saturday (Dec. 31). He was 95. Benedict stunned the world on Feb. 11, 2013, when he announced, in his typical, soft-spoken Latin, that he no longer had the strength to run the 1.2 billion-strong Catholic Church that he had steered for eight years through scandal and indifference.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Jesuit case underscores secrecy, leniency for abuse of women
“Revelations that the Vatican let a famous priest off the hook twice for abusing his authority over adult women has exposed two main weaknesses in the Holy See’s abuse policies: sexual and spiritual misconduct against adult women is rarely if ever punished, and secrecy still reigns supreme, especially when powerful priests are involved …But under questioning by journalists, the Jesuit superior general, the Rev. Arturo Sosa, acknowledged the Congregation had prosecuted Rupnik for a separate, prior case from 2019 that ended with his conviction and temporary excommunication for one of the gravest crimes in the church’s in-house canon law: that he used the confessional to absolve a woman with whom he previously had sexual relations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Former bishop of French Guyana guilty of sex abuse, Vatican court says
“Bishop Emeritus Emmanuel Lafont of Cayenne, French Guyana, has been found guilty of sexual abuse in a canonical court and banned from public ministry, while the country’s civil authorities are investigating charges against him. ‘He is under house arrest, in a monastery on mainland France,’ the Bishops’ Conference of France told Agence France Presse. He must conduct a life of prayer and repentance. The bishops’ conference confirmed that the bishop faces a civil investigation.” By Kevin J. Jones, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

ACCOUNTABILITY

Benedict was criticized for his handling of church’s sex abuse scandal
“The clerical sex abuse scandal broke under Pope John Paul II in the years that Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — who would later become Pope Benedict XVI — headed the Vatican’s doctrinal office, which handled the cases of priests accused of abusing children. Presented with case files, Cardinal Ratzinger sometimes set disciplinary measures in motion, even having accused priests defrocked. But other times, the record shows, he took the side of the accused priests and failed to listen to the victims or their warnings that an abuser could violate more young people.” By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

20-year church abuse probe ends with monsignor’s quiet plea
“Twenty years after city prosecutors convened a grand jury to investigate the handling of priest-abuse complaints within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the tortuous legal case came to an end with a cleric’s misdemeanor no contest plea in a near-empty City Hall courtroom. Monsignor William Lynn, 71, had served nearly three years in state prison as appeals courts reviewed the fiery three-month trial that led to his felony child endangerment conviction in 2012. The verdict was twice overturned, leaving prosecutors pursuing the thinning case in recent years with a single alleged victim whose appearance in court was in doubt.” By Maryclaire Dale, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com and The Philadelphia Inquirer

Vatican’s handling of Jesuit priest shows new dimensions of never-ending abuse crisis
“On Dec. 2, the global Jesuit order confirmed reports made in several conservative Italian Catholic blogs that Slovenian Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik, a famous Rome-based artist, had been quietly disciplined for allegedly abusing adult women, and had been barred from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction … (Rupnik) had earlier been convicted by the Vatican’s doctrinal office of having used the confessional to absolve a woman of having engaged in sexual activity with him … I think the Rupnik case actually recapitulates and casts a light on new dimensions that have emerged in the abuse scandal in recent years. I want to briefly highlight 10 dimensions that I see.” By Massimo Faggioli, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican investigator says claims of Jesuit abuse true
“A Vatican-appointed investigator who helped bring to light decades-old allegations of sexual and spiritual abuse against a famous Jesuit priest is calling for the hierarchs who hid his crimes to ‘humbly ask the world to forgive the scandal.’ In correspondence obtained Monday (Dec. 19), Bishop Daniele Libanori also said the claims of the women about the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik were true and that they had ‘seen their lives ruined by the evil suffered and by the complicit silence’ of the church.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on sfgate.com

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

For synod listening sessions, U.S. bishops turned to community organizers
“When Pope Francis launched his newly invigorated process for the Synod of Bishops in 2021, he challenged Catholics worldwide to ‘become experts in the art of encounter,’ saying it was ‘time to look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say, to build rapport, to be sensitive to the questions of our sisters and brothers.’ For decades, members of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF), a network of local faith and community-based organizations, have in many ways been experts in such an art, most often to empower marginalized communities.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

Senior Synod official to visit Australia for lecture series
“Sr Nathalie Becquart XMCJ, one of the most senior women working in the Vatican, is coming to Australia for a whirlwind tour in February and will speak at public forums and lectures in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide. A member of the French Congregation of Xavière Sisters, Sr Natalie was appointed by Pope Francis in May 2019 as consultor to the Synod of Bishops. In 2021, she was again appointed by Pope Francis as undersecretary of the Synod of Bishops. She is the first woman to ever hold this position in the Vatican and the first woman to have voting rights in the Synod of Bishops.” By CathNews.com

Synod’s main themes come into focus as it enters its continental stage
“More than a year into Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality, the full scope of this massive, unprecedented consultation of Catholics around the world is just now beginning to come into focus, even for its organizers. ‘I find this a very interesting phase of church history,’ said Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich, archbishop of Luxembourg and the general rapporteur of the synod, at a press conference Wednesday (Dec. 14) as he introduced the continental phase of the synod. In the next months, seven assemblies of bishops (in the six traditional continents, plus the Middle East) will consider a document compiled from listening sessions held in thousands of parishes and dioceses.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis extols Benedict XVI as pastor in historic two-pope Vatican funeral
“In one of the rarest of scenes in two millennia of Catholic Church history, Pope Francis on Jan. 5 presided over the funeral Mass of his predecessor, the late Pope Benedict XVI, and offered a subtle send-off to someone he extolled as a pastor who ‘spread and testified’ to the Gospel for his entire life. During a brief, seven-minute homily to a crowd of thousands gathered during a cool, foggy morning in St. Peter’s Square, Francis reflected on the life of Christ, marked by ‘hands of forgiveness and compassion, healing and mercy, anointing and blessing,’ seemingly drawing a parallel to the same devotion in which Benedict served the church.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope denounces psychological abuse as Jesuit case rocks Church
“Pope Francis on Thursday (Dec. 22) denounced psychological violence and abuse of power in the Church, as the case of a prominent priest accused of exploiting his authority to sexually abuse nuns has rocked the Vatican. The 86-year-old pope made his comments in his annual Christmas address to cardinals, bishops and other members of the Curia, the central administration of the Vatican. Francis has often used the occasion to decry perceived flaws in the top bureaucracy, such as gossip, cliques and infighting.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Pope Francis isn’t slowing down in 2023
“On Jan. 5, Pope Francis will preside at the requiem Mass and funeral ceremony of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI. The last time a pope did this was in 1802 when Pius VII celebrated a second funeral for Pius VI, whose body was exhumed and returned to the Vatican after his death and burial in exile three years prior. On March 13, he will enter the 11th year of his pontificate. At the age of 86, he is already the third oldest pope to lead the church in the last 800 years, but he shows no signs of slowing down in terms of his agenda, notwithstanding problems of mobility due to ailments in his right knee.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

2022 saw opposition to Pope Francis, plus intellectual and ecclesial shifts
“The year 2022 in the Catholic world was dominated by significant shifts in the intellectual and ecclesial landscape, accompanied by shockingly few shifts among key personnel in the Vatican Curia and at the headquarters of the U.S. bishops’ conference. Pope Francis continues to invite the church to try new approaches with the goal of retrieving our tradition more fruitfully, even while here in the United States he encounters a great deal of opposition.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

Benedict remembered for pushing U.S. bishops to confront clergy abuse
“Under intense national scrutiny after the groundbreaking reporting on clergy sexual abuse and cover-up in the Boston Archdiocese in 2002, the U.S. Catholic bishops created a new lay-run review board to advise their national conference on how to better protect children and vulnerable persons from abuse. One of the group’s first tasks was to thoroughly investigate the nature of the scandal, in view of an eventual first-of-its-kind report that would detail the enormous scope of abuse in the U.S. church across some five decades. And a key ally in the task? None other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future Pope Benedict XVI.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops’ rifts unlikely to ease after Benedict’s death
“Many of the conservative prelates who dominate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops were appointed by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. His recent death deprives them of a symbolic figurehead but is unlikely to weaken their collective power or end the culture wars that have divided the USCCB, according to Catholic academics and clergy. David Gibson, director of Fordham University’s Center on Religion and Culture, noted that conservative-leaning bishops were appointed over a 35-year period by Benedict and his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, and routinely prevail in voting over the relatively more liberal group of bishops appointed since 2013 by Pope Francis.” By David Cray, Associated Press

WOMEN’S VOICES

In synod discussion of women’s ordination, the diaconate is neglected
“The synod on synodality is exploding ideas all over the church. Some on the extreme right hope for Tridentine Masses. Some on the far left hope for changes in teachings on sex and gender. Folks in the middle just want more respect for and better recognition of women. To no one’s surprise, the working document for the synod’s ‘continental phase’ recognized women as the backbone of the church. It also admits that many women feel denigrated, neglected and misunderstood, symptomatic of narcissistic clericalism infecting clergyv. Many national synod reports sent to the Vatican from bishops’ conferences around the globe presented the desire for women to be present in church governance, certified as preachers and in the diaconate.” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

As order ponders the role of women, recalling history’s lone female Jesuit
“However, Sosa actually briefed journalists on several matters of Jesuit business, including the progress of a commission to study the role of women in the Society of Jesus created in March 2021. He didn’t offer much detail, except to say that the commission, in collaboration with the Jesuit-sponsored Atheneum of Manila in the Philippines, is preparing a major survey about the contributions of women in the society for 2023, with an eye towards submitting recommendations in 2024.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Why laypeople and deacons – in addition to priests – are necessary for a thriving church
“The Church teaches its bishops are direct successors to Peter and the Twelve Apostles; through the sacrament of Holy Orders, a Catholic priest participates in his bishop’s apostolic ministry. Priests administer the sacraments in persona Christi, or acting in the person of Christ, when celebrating the Eucharist or hearing confessions. And yet there is more than one group of people necessary to lead the Church through what has been dubbed ‘the new Apostolic Age’ – a time when Christianity has become much like it was during the early Church, when the world wasn’t always receptive to its message of love, eternal life, absolute truth and sacrifice.” By Phil Ervin, St. Thomas University Newsroom

VATICAN

Vatican releases Pope Benedict’s spiritual will: ‘Stand firm in the faith’
“In a spiritual will written in 2006 and released by the Vatican on Saturday (Dec. 31), Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI thanked his family and friends, but chiefly God, for standing by him during his long life and career in the church. Benedict, known for his theological efforts to reconcile faith and reason, offered his last thoughts to the Catholic faithful, urging them to hold on to their faith despite social and philosophical opposition.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Pope Benedict dies
“After the ‘long nineteenth century’ (as characterized by John O’Malley) of the Catholic Church was brought to an end by the calling of the council in 1959, Benedict XVI was in some ways the last pope of the delayed conclusion of the twentieth-century Catholic Church … Joseph Ratzinger was a brilliant theologian and public intellectual, but also a provocative cleric who as pope had the courage to risk unpopularity. He will remain one of the most widely published and widely read popes in Church history, and likely one of the most controversial. Few committed Catholics will be indifferent or dispassionate about him.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

25% of Christians consider leaving church in Germany over abuse scandals: Survey
“About one in four Christians in Germany are considering leaving church due to the sex abuse scandals, a survey revealed on Thursday (Dec. 13). Mostly the members of the Catholic Church have lost faith in the clergy and church after the scandals in recent years, according to the Religion Monitor study of the Bertelsmann Foundation. Among the Germans who said that they were considering leaving the church, 66% of them were members of the Catholic Church, and 33% were the members of the Protestant Church.” By Ayhan Simsek, aa.com.tr

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholic Church buys $2.4 million Seattle house as finances peak, parishes close
“Now the archdiocese’s finances have come under renewed scrutiny with the purchase of a home for Seattle’s Catholic leadership, prompting fresh criticism of the church’s transparency and money management. The archdiocese last month quietly acquired the $2.4 million property in the stately Mount Baker neighborhood. The five-bedroom, 3,460-square-foot gray-shingled home with a bright-blue door overlooks Lake Washington.” By Rebecca Moss, The Seattle Times

VOICES

A man of contradictions, Benedict leaves us two very different legacies
“A man of contradictions. A pope of colliding centuries. It’s as if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who is being laid to rest Thursday (Jan. 5) in Vatican City, has two legacies instead of one. The theologian Joseph Ratzinger was a significant architect of the theology that informed the doctrines of the Second Vatican Council, a reform effort in the 1960s that brought fresh air to the church by encouraging outreach to other religions, the use of local languages instead of Latin at Mass, support for religious freedom and much more.” By Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, on NBCNews.com

Seattle archbishop’s new residence is an insult to the Catholic Community
“One might assume that, at first blush, spending $2.4 million (plus remodeling costs) is not a huge outlay for a luxury view home in Seattle — at least for the privileged few who can afford it. Yet, the recent purchase of such a home by the Seattle Archdiocese for Archbishop Paul Etienne has caused serious concern among many clergy and lay Catholics. When he first arrived in Seattle in 2019, the archbishop declared, ‘I am a Pastor, not a Prince’ in renouncing residence at a mansion on First Hill in Seattle that had been purchased by contributions from the laity more than a century earlier.” By Clark Kimerer, Colleen Kinerk and Terrence A. Carroll, Special to The Seattle Times

Three predictions about what will make church news in 2023
“Looking ahead and venturing predictions is always a risky business, even in a church like ours in which traditional ways of doing things tend to be the norm. Still, in 2023 I will predict we will see the synodal process continue to garner attention, albeit fitfully and with a step backwards for every two steps forward, a spasm of anti-Francis sentiment coinciding with the 10th anniversary of his election in March, and the beginning of the most substantial remaking of the U.S. hierarchy since the 1980s.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

My encounters with Joseph Ratzinger – and Pope Benedict XVI
“I first met Joseph Ratzinger in June 1994 when he was the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. No, I was not being interrogated by the Grand Inquisitor. This was long before I got in trouble with the Vatican as editor-in-chief of America magazine. I was in Rome to interview him and other church officials for my book, Inside the Vatican: The Politics and Organization of the Catholic Church. I almost missed the interview. Cardinal Ratzinger was sick the day of our appointment” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Catholics need a restorative justice approach to the church’s sexual abuse crisis
“Wounds remain. This was a chief conclusion of an independent working group on the clerical sex abuse crisis in the U.S. Catholic Church that proposed the following measures last month: Develop a national center with experts and practitioners to equip the broader church with practices of restorative justice that would accompany those who have been directly and peripherally harmed by abuse, particularly forums in which victim-survivors tell their stories and receive love, recognition and empathy.” By Daniel Philpott, America: The Jesuit Review

As CNS Washington closes, we reflect on more than 100 years of service
“Catholic News Service turned 100 years old in 2020. Unfortunately, our birthdate coincided with the start of a worldwide pandemic, and many of our celebration plans were canceled. A highlight, however, was Pope Francis meeting with the CNS Rome staff in February 2021 to mark the anniversary. At that meeting, Pope Francis praised the news service, saying it ‘has provided an invaluable contribution to the English-speaking world through its coverage of the church’s mission of proclaiming the Gospel and witnessing to the love of God revealed in Jesus Christ. In an age when news can be easily manipulated and misinformation spread, you seek to make the truth known in a way that is, in the words of your motto, ‘fair, faithful and informed,’’ the pope told the CNS staff.’” By Greg Erlandson, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

When Vatican II became ‘model of openness,’ it had impact on CNS reporting
“Two vast upheavals in the Catholic Church in the past 60 years spurred a dramatic transformation of Catholic News Service — from a news agency with a house organ mentality to one committing to reporting facts, even embarrassing ones concerning the church itself. The first upheaval was the Second Vatican Council. From a shaky start in 1962, which the council attempting to operate semi-secrecy, it did an about-face, opened up, and by its end in 1965 was a model of openness. This was a lesson not lost on Catholic media, notably including CNS.” By Russell Shaw, The Leaven

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

A change in Maine law prompts a wave of new church abuse allegations
“A change in Maine law has unleashed a flood of new allegations of long-ago sex abuse by priests. But now the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland is challenging the legislation in court in an apparent attempt to stem the flow of lawsuits. The Childhood Sexual Abuse amendment, which was signed into law last summer, retroactively eliminated the statute of limitations for lawsuits alleging childhood sex abuse in most circumstances. The result is that former altar boys and Catholic school students who are now in their 50s, 60s, and 70s can sue the church over abuse that allegedly occurred half a century ago or even earlier.” By Mike Damiano, The Boston Globe

Maryland Catholic Conference to support bill eliminating statute of limitations
“The Maryland Catholic Conference will support legislation that could potentially eliminate the statute of limitation in civil lawsuits involving cases of child sexual abuse, the MCC announced Monday (Dec. 19). The Catholic Church in Maryland will support legislation that may be introduced during the 2023 Maryland General Assembly session that prospectively eliminates the statute of limitation in civil lawsuits involving cases of child sexual abuse.” By CBS-TV News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Benedict leaves behind a conflicted legacy on clerical sexual abuse
“Before he led the Roman Catholic Church as Benedict XVI, and before he loomed over the church as a powerhouse cardinal and the Vatican’s chief doctrinal watchdog, Joseph Ratzinger, archbishop of Munich, attended a 1980 meeting about a priest in northwestern Germany accused of abusing children. What exactly transpired during the meeting is unclear — but afterward, the priest was transferred, and over the next dozen years moved around Bavaria to different parishes before he ended up in the tiny village of Garching an der Alz, where he sexually abused Andreas Perr, then 12.” By Jason Horowitz and Erika Soloman, The New York Times

Special report: Boy Scouts, Catholic dioceses find haven from sex abuse in bankruptcy
“Lawmakers around the United States have tried to grant justice to victims of decades-old incidents of child sexual abuse by giving them extra time to file lawsuits. Now some of the defendants in these cases, including church and youth organizations, are finding a safe haven: America’s bankruptcy courts. In New York, nearly 11,000 cases flooded state courts, many seeking to hold Catholic dioceses responsible for sexual abuse by clergy, after a 2019 law suspended statutes of limitations that would have otherwise barred many of the lawsuits. In response, four New York dioceses that collectively faced more than 500 sexual-abuse claims filed for bankruptcy. That halted the cases — and blocked those from anyone who might sue later — and forced the plaintiffs to negotiate a one-time settlement for all abuse claims in bankruptcy court.” By Kristina Cooke, Mike Spector, Benjamin Lesser, Dan Levine and Disha Raychaudhuri, Reuters

Hundreds of alleged clergy abuse victims come forward
Hundreds of child sex abuse lawsuits are hitting the Catholic church across California. To understand what victims now coming forward may be experiencing, the NBC Bay Area’s Investigative Unit spoke to San Jose’s John Salberg, who sued the Church 20 years ago after being abused as a child. Here’s his story.” By NBC-TV Bay Area News

Jesuits ask victims to come forward in artist abuse case
“Pope Francis’ Jesuit order on Sunday (Dec. 18) asked any more victims to come forward with complaints against a famous Jesuit artist who was essentially let off the hook by the Vatican twice despite devastating testimony by women who said he sexually and spiritually abused them. The Jesuits asked for new evidence against the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik, and offered a timeline about his case in an effort to tamp down the scandal. The Slovenian priest is relatively unknown among rank-and-file Catholics but is well known in the hierarchy because he is one of the church’s most sought-after artists.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Five years on from a royal commission, we must recognize legacy of abuse
“Five years on from the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the lived experiences of ‘forgotten Australians’ must be recognized and acknowledged, writes Ursula Stephens. When the royal commission presented its final report in 16 volumes in December 2017, its findings highlighted abuse, cover-ups, failures of leadership, a careless disregard for some of the most defenseless members of our community, and the life-long implications of the trauma they endured.” By CathNews.com

CALIFORNIA

He says a Bay Area priest abused him. He finally found him 55 years later
“For more than a decade, Ernie Cox went online to search the faces of priests who had been accused of child sexual abuse, looking for one man. He’d only seen the priest one day in the late 1960s when, the former altar boy alleges, the priest sexually abused him before and after mass at a Contra Costa County church. The boy was 12. The priest was visiting Immaculate Heart of Mary from another parish, and Cox, now 67, didn’t remember his name.” By Joshua Sharpe, San Francisco Chronicle

Where is Father Castillo? New answers on Oakland priest who left country after abuse claims
“Oakland priest Father Alexander Castillo seemingly vanished in the months after he was accused of sexually abusing a minor. Yet four years later, the Diocese of Oakland still won’t answer many basic questions about the incident, details about what happened, where Castillo is today, and whether the priest might be a danger to children elsewhere. While the Diocese remains silent, a letter written by Castillo in the wake of his suspension, and exclusively obtained by NBC Bay Area recently, sheds new light on the priest’s frame of mind just before he left the country. Castillo maintains his innocence and blames another priest for his suspension.” By Michael Bott, Candice Nguyen, Alix Bozovic and Jeremy Carroll, NBCBayArea.com

Tensions rise over Santa Rosa Diocese’s plan to seek bankruptcy protection in face of more than 130 abuse claims
“Scores of survivors of clergy abuse — people who had spent decades trying to escape the grief and trauma of childhood sex assault — have come forward over the past three years after deciding now is finally the time to seek justice. At least 130 — likely many more, attorneys say — have filed or will file lawsuits against the Santa Rosa Roman Catholic Diocese during a special three-year window that allows adults of any age to file personal injury cases for childhood sex abuse in California. That window closes on New Year’s Eve. But none of those cases is likely to go to trial.” By Mary Callahan, The Press Democrat

KANSAS

KBI investigation of alleged Catholic clergy abuse in Kansas approaches four-year milestone
“Susan Leighnor expressed frustration on Wednesday (Dec. 21) state law enforcement agencies had yet to release findings of an investigation launched nearly four years ago by the attorney general into alleged sexual misconduct by members of the Catholic clergy in Kansas. Leighnor, who said she was abused as a child by two Catholic priests, said she had spoken to Kansas Bureau of Investigation agents regarding her memories of what transpired at the rectory and school at Church of the Holy Cross in Hutchinson. She also has testified before the Kansas and Colorado legislatures on her experiences.” By Tim Carpenter, Kansas Reflector

MAINE

Two more lawsuits allege abuse by priest, nun in Maine
“Two more people have filed lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by a Roman Catholic clergy member and a nun — both deceased — raising the number to over a dozen since Maine loosened the statute of limitations last year. One of the plaintiffs contended he was sexually abused by a priest and was spanked by a nun who interrupted one of the encounters in Bangor, while another said that a nun regularly spanked boys’ bare bottoms in class, and that she sexually abused him in private, according to the lawsuits.” By Associated Press in USNews

MARYLAND

Archdiocese of Baltimore sexual abuse case assigned new judge
“A case regarding the release of a report into the sexual abuse by clergy and priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore will have a new judge, according to our media partner The Baltimore Banner. The Banner reports Baltimore Circuit Judge Robert K. Taylor will now oversee the proceedings in the fight to release the 456-page report that details the sexual abuse of nearly 600 children by 158 clergy and Catholic priests in Baltimore. The report, a product of a four-year investigation by the attorney general’s official, reveals allegations dating back decades.” By CBS Baltimore Staff

Baltimore archbishop battled against release of abuse documents for nearly eight years: ‘I fought the good fight’
“As bishop of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the Most Rev. William E. Lori fought for nearly eight years — all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court — to prevent the wide release of information about the history of child sexual abuse in that branch of the Catholic Church. The soft-spoken prelate argued in the case two decades ago that what was already publicly known about sexual misconduct by clergy in the diocese was all the information the public needed to grasp the scope of the crisis and understand who was responsible.” By Jonathan M. Pritts, The Daily Item, in The Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Worcester woman sues ex-official, diocese over coerced sex allegations
“A woman who earlier this year accused a Diocese of Worcester parish soup kitchen director of coercing her and other vulnerable women into sex has sued the now-former director for his alleged actions, as well as diocesan leadership for alleged failure to act on the complaint in a timely manner. ‘This complaint reflects the unlawful actions of the defendants relating to their tortious activity and their duty of care extended to Bell and other similarly situated individuals,’ reads the complaint, filed on December 13 in Worcester Superior Court in Massachusetts.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

MICHIGAN

Sentencing date postponed for former pastor convicted of child rape
“For the third time, the sentencing hearing for a Catholic priest convicted in October of raping a child in 2004 has been changed. Joseph ‘Father Jack’ Baker, 60, is now scheduled for sentencing by Judge Bridget Hathaway on Feb. 17, 2023 in Wayne County’s 3rd Circuit Court in Detroit. He’s held in the Wayne County Jail, denied bond. According to a court spokesperson, sentencing was postponed on request of Baker’s defense attorney.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press

NEW MEXICO

Editorial: $121M settlement provides archdiocese path toward redemption
“‘Not now, not ever.’ Those were the apropos words of Archbishop John C. Wester after the Archdiocese of Santa Fe announced a $121.5 million settlement last week with nearly 400 survivors of sexual abuse. The settlement, which could never erase the horrible stain of clergy sexual abuse but was nonetheless necessary, is one of the largest clergy sexual abuse cases involving the Catholic Church in the United States, where about 31 Catholic dioceses or archdioceses have filed for bankruptcy as a result of abuse claims.” By Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board

OHIO

Alleged abuse by Catholic priest haunting, 50 years later
“A Steubenville Catholic Central High School graduate who says he was molested by a priest 54 years ago wants the Diocese of Steubenville to admit ‘it wasn’t my fault.’ The man, who asked not to be identified, alleges the Rev. Kenneth Bonadies grabbed his ‘private area’ after class and asked some inappropriate questions in the confessional 54 years ago. He said he’s looking for ‘validation from the diocese that it wasn’t my fault, I had nothing to do with that, that the diocese wasn’t doing its job.’” By Linda Harris, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register

AUSTRALIA

Melbourne priest stood down over historical child sex abuse claim
“A priest has been stood down after he was accused of sexually abusing a student while he was principal at a Catholic all-boys school in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs in the mid-1990s. Father Hugh Brown is alleged to have abused the student at Whitefriars Catholic College For Boys in Donvale when he headed the school between 1989 and 1996.” By Marta Pascual Juanola, The Age

CANADA

Catholic church settles lawsuit around historical sex abuse of 210-year-old B.C. girl
“A settlement has been reached in a lawsuit involving accusations that a former Catholic priest on Vancouver Island sexually abused a 10-year-old girl during confession decades ago. The woman, now 57 and whose identity is protected, filed a notice of civil claim in 2020 against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Victoria, in B.C. Supreme Court. She alleges that Father Gerhard Hartmann, who has since died, used his position as an authority figure to take advantage of her when she was a parishioner at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church at Nanaimo in 1976.” By Karl Yu, Terrace Standard

Former Catholic priest charged in historic sex assault, police say there may be more victims
“A former Catholic priest in Peel Region has been arrested in connection with the alleged sexual assault of an underage parishioner more than 40 years ago and police say there could still be additional victims who have not yet come forward. Peel Regional Police say that officers began an investigation in October after receiving information alleging that the suspect sexually assaulted a boy while he attended his church between 1980 and 1983. Jozef Wasik, 84, was then arrested on Thursday (Dec. 15) and charged with gross indecency and indecent assault on a male.” By Chris Fox, CP24 News

New priest named in latest clerical abuse report
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver has issued its semi-annual update on clerical sexual abuse, releasing the name of a priest who was the subject of sexual abuse allegation received in 2008. The latest report of the Implementation Working Group, the archdiocesan committee responsible for implementing the approved recommendations received from the 2019 Case Review Committee, was released Tuesday (Dec. 13) and said an accusation of sexual abuse had been received in April 2008 against Father Georges Chevrier, OMI, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Coquitlam from 1971 to 1977.” By The B.C. Catholic

FRANCE

France investigating ex-archbishop over ‘sexual assault’: prosecutors
“French authorities last month opened a preliminary inquiry into allegations that the former archbishop of Paris had committed ‘sexual assault on a vulnerable person,’ prosecutors said on Tuesday (Jan. 43, 2023). The probe was opened based on a report filed by the diocese of Paris, they said. Michel Aupetit offered to resign in late 2021 following media reports of an intimate relationship with a woman in 2012 before he took on the post, allegations he has categorically denied. Pope Francis accepted the resignation.” By Michel Aupetit, Agence France-Presse, on Yahoo.com

GERMANY

Canonical complaint filed against senior German bishop
“The German Victims’ Advisory Board has filed a canonical complaint against Bishop Franz-Josef Bode of Osnabrück for hushing up clerical sexual abuse. Bode is the vice president of the bishops’ conference and of the synodal way. The Victims’ Advisory Board for the north German dioceses of Osnabrück, Hildesheim and Hamburg announced its decision on Monday 12 December.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippit, The Tablet

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

University publishes new study on abuse in the Diocese of Trier
“The University of Trier today published its report on sexual abuse in the Diocese of Trier at the time of former Bishop Stein. It was also about his role. The study reveals that 81 priests have been accused of abusing more than 300 children and young people during this period. For this purpose, historians have evaluated almost 500 personnel files from the Diocese of Trier. They have also spoken to many of those affected. Something that Bishop Stein has not done in any of the cases known to him during his term of office.” By David Sadler, Globe Echo

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

How Pope Benedict ignored Vatican responsibility for child sex abuse in Ireland
“It must be acknowledged that Pope Benedict XVI was the first holder of that office to take the clerical child sexual abuse scandal seriously. That said, few in Ireland could feel wholeheartedly grateful about that. In 2001, as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he circulated every Catholic bishop in the world with two letters, both in Latin, one instructing that both be kept secret, asking that they forward to him all credible allegations they had on file about clerical child sexual abuse involving their priests. He received thousands of responses, including from Ireland.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish times

Former Christian Brother jailed for five years for indecently assaulting five boys
“A former Christian brother who was convicted in October on 38 counts of indecently assaulting young boys has been sentenced to five years in prison. The man, who cannot be named to protect the identity of his victims, was found unanimously guilty after a jury at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court deliberated for four hours and twenty-six minutes. The former priest was described by one of the victims in his victim impact statement as ‘the epitome of evil.’” By Claire Henry, DublinPeople.com

Clerical abuse in Ireland ‘an open wound that has never by able to heal’ admits Archbishop Eamon Martin
“The leader of the Catholic Church in Ireland has said he is ‘deeply ashamed’ of the horrific sexual abuse inflicted on children by members of the Spiritan Order. More than 300 people have claimed to have been abused by 78 Spiritan priests at Blackrock College and other schools and colleges in Ireland dating back to the 1980s. In an interview with the Sunday Independent, Archbishop Eamon Martin said clerical abuse in Ireland ‘is like an open wound that has never been able to heal.’” By Rodney Edwards, Irish Independent

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A man of contradictions, Benedict leaves us two very different legacies / NBC News THINK

The pope emeritus took the first strong steps to stop clergy sex abuse, but ultimately prioritized the institution of the church.

NBC News THINK

“A man of contradictions. A pope of colliding centuries. It’s as if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, who is being laid to rest Thursday (Jan. 5) in Vatican City, has two legacies instead of one. 

“The theologian Joseph Ratzinger was a significant architect of the theology that informed the doctrines of the Second Vatican Council, a reform effort in the 1960s that brought fresh air to the church by encouraging outreach to other religions, the use of local languages instead of Latin at Mass, support for religious freedom and much more.

“Despite this promise and the potential for transparency, Benedict continued the church’s centuries-old preference for handling abuse cases privately.

“Ratzinger was deemed one of the influential progressives at the council, but as a cardinal starting in 1977 and then as pope from 2005 to 2013, he instead sought to filter the fresh air from the windows opened by the council. Yet that fresh air — including the recognition that the church is the People of God rather than the hierarchical structure alone — is what opened the path for ordinary lay Catholics to speak up and participate fully in our faith in this century.”

By Donna B. Doucette, Executive Director, Voice of the Faithful, on NBC News THINK — Read more …

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Vatican’s handling of Jesuit priest shows new dimensions of never-ending abuse crisis

I think the Rupnik case actually recapitulates and casts a light on new dimensions that have emerged in the abuse scandal in recent years.

Massimo Faggioli, National Catholic Reporter

“On Dec. 2, the global Jesuit order confirmed reports made in several conservative Italian Catholic blogs that Slovenian Jesuit Fr. Marko Rupnik, a famous Rome-based artist, had been quietly disciplined for allegedly abusing adult women, and had been barred from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction.

“On Dec. 14, Fr. Arturo Sosa, the Jesuit superior general, revealed more information. Rupnik, known in places across the world for his iconography and for mosaics in several renowned churches and cathedrals, had earlier been convicted by the Vatican’s doctrinal office of having used the confessional to absolve a woman of having engaged in sexual activity with him.

“That is one of the most serious crimes in canon law, and incurs an automatic excommunication. Sosa said Rupnik repented, and indicated that the excommunication had thus been lifted.

“Recapping the details of the case, some may feel the usual ‘here we go again’ with regard to sexual abuse and its cover-up in the Catholic Church. But I think the Rupnik case actually recapitulates and casts a light on new dimensions that have emerged in the abuse scandal in recent years. I want to briefly highlight 10 dimensions that I see.”

By Massimo Faggioli, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

December 16, 2022

TOP STORIES

Evidence suggests Pope John Paul II knew about abuse of minors decades before becoming pope
“A Dutch journalist based in Poland revealed evidence on Friday (Dec. 2) that Pope John Paul II was involved in covering up the abuse of minors while he was the Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Krakow. The journalist, Ekke Overbeek, spent the last two years combing through archives in Poland, where he resides, and found several cases where the prominent Catholic Church figure knew about priests who abused children and helped them evade punishment, including transferring them to other parishes.” By NL Times

Vatican vendettas: Alleged witness manipulation jolts trial
“The text message to the Vatican monsignor offered forgiveness along with a threat: ‘I know everything about you … and I keep it all in my archives,’ it read. ‘I pardon you, Perlasca, but remember, you owe me a favor.’ The message was one of more than 100 newly revealed WhatsApp texts and other correspondence entered into evidence at the Vatican courthouse last week that have jolted a financial crimes trial involving the Holy See’s money-losing investment in a London property.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on ABCNews.com

Head of Cologne abuse investigation commission resigns
“The state-appointed chairman of the commission to investigate abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne has quit, saying he doubted the independence of the commission and wondered whether its main aim was to protect Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported Stephan Rixen has stepped down as head of the Independent Commission for the Investigation of Abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne and has withdrawn from the body. Rixen told KNA Dec. 5 that his initial doubts about the independence and effectiveness of the committee had been confirmed.” By Catholic News Service on USCNews.com

Study of moral injury measures ‘added weight’ of clergy sexual abuse and its concealment
“A research team from Xavier University in Cincinnati has created a tool that measures the ‘moral injury’ caused by clergy sexual abuse and its concealment by officials in the Catholic Church. In a report on the pilot study, released Dec. 12, moral injury is described as persistent psychological and emotional distress, spiritual anguish, moral confusion, social isolation, and distrust for institutions. It results from a betrayal of trust or violation of deeply held moral values.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

‘We have not hidden anything’: Jesuit superior general interviewed n abuse allegations against Marko Rupnik
“Any case like this is very painful, [but]…. we have not hidden anything,’ says Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Society of Jesus, in a short interview … This represents the first public comments of the superior general regarding the allegations against the Slovenian artist Marko Rupnik, S.J. Father Rupnik, whose mosaics decorate chapels in the Vatican, all over Europe, in the United States and Australia, has been barred from hearing confessions or offering spiritual direction after what the Jesuits described as complaints about his ministry. The Society of Jesus released a statement on Dec. 2 responding to the allegations of abuse against Father Rupnik and describing the restrictions on his ministry.” By Antonio Marujo, America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

As Dallas Charter turns 20, abuse has become issue for much of society
“Twenty years ago, in 2002, the revelations of clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston were the metaphorical bombshell that fell on the Catholic Church in the United States. The U.S. bishops, when they met that June in Dallas, approved the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. Its one-strike-and-you’re-out policy did just that — permanently removing from public ministry those priests against whom abuse allegations were substantiated.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Global church is seeing how pope’s vision of synodality involves everyone
“Canadian and U.S. Catholics will convene in a series of online meetings from mid-December through the end of January as part of the Pope Francis’ ongoing call to synodality in the church. The gatherings are part of the continental phase of the synodal process in advance of the first session of the Synod of Bishops on synodality scheduled next year for Oct. 4-29 at the Vatican. Pope Francis in October of this year announced a second session for October 2024, saying he did not want to rush the process of discerning how the Holy Spirit is calling the church to grow in synodality.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service, in Chicago Catholic

Synod on Synodality opportunity to ‘journey together in truth’: Catholic bishops in Chad
“The ongoing preparations for the Synod on Synodality offer an opportunity for the Catholic Church in Chad to ‘journey together in truth,’ Catholic Bishops in the North-Central African nation have said. In their Christmas 2022 Message shared with ACI Africa Monday, December 12, members of the Episcopal Conference of Chad (CET) say reflections on the theme, ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation, mission,’ has been at the center of many meetings in ‘all the Dioceses of our Church Family of God which is in Chad during the pastoral year 2021-2022.’” By Jude Atemanke, ACIAfrica.org

Settle pastor sees connections between synodality, Vatican II
“At a recent Vatican press conference, Luxembourg Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich used the words of a U.S. priest to capture the essence of Pope Francis’ ongoing synod consultation with Catholics around the world: Reading over the reports and reflecting on them, I found myself thinking how blessed I am to be pastor of a parish that is full of people who love the Church so much that they embrace it, affirm it, celebrate it, and thank God for it, but at the same time are not at all afraid to criticize it, challenge it, question it, and express anger, disappointment, and frustration with it. … I think our parish can never be quite the same as a result, and I’m willing to bet that the same is true for the entire Church.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Arkansas diocese presses ahead in effort to make church life more ‘synodal’
“While the U.S. Bishops as a whole gear up for the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality, the lone bishop of Arkansas is maintaining a diocesan focus as well, recently announcing his plan to continue the process at the local level. Bishop Anthony Taylor of Little Rock on Dec. 1 published a ‘Post-Synod Response’ to the faithful, providing questions for synod discussions to continue while diocesan leaders meet to discuss how to implement recommendations from the local phase.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Cardinal leading Catholic’s worldwide consultation wrestles with tradition and change
“Every summit of bishops called by Pope Francis has been ripe with expectations about the possible reforms — and novelties — that it might introduce in the over 2,000-year-old institution. The pope’s latest effort, the Synod on Synodality, now underway and continuing through the end of 2024, has already fomented ardent debate on some of the most controversial topics within the church, from female ordination to LGBTQ inclusion.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

U.S. Catholics need to manage expectations about the synod
“The universal church is now shifting to the “continental phase” of the synodal process to which the Holy Father has called us, as ecclesial gatherings on every continent will reflect on the working document ‘Enlarge the Space of Your Tent,’ drafted in Frascati, Italy, and released on Oct. 27. The reactions to the report indicate that the leaders of the synodal process need to start thinking about how to manage expectations. The synodal process invites people to speak freely. In fact, no synodal process can really work without candor.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

POPE FRANCIS

Pope tightens oversight of Vatican-linked foundations
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Dec. 7) tightened control and oversight over Vatican-based foundations and associations in his latest effort to impose international standards of accounting and governance on Vatican offices and affiliated entities. A new law aims to bring the Holy See into further compliance with recommendations from the Council of Europe’s Moneyval committee, which in April 2021 flagged as problematic the lack of an overarching law governing the creation and administration of foundations registered in Vatican City.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CARDINALS

Pope’s cardinal advisers discuss Church’s efforts to prevent abuse
“At Pope Francis’ meeting with his cardinal advisers this week, Cardinal Sean O’Malley reported on the work of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, now within the Roman Curia. The Holy See press office said on Dec. 7 that the pope met with his council of advisers for a two-day meeting at the current papal residence, the Casa Santa Marta. The members of the Council of Cardinals discussed the continental phase of the Synod on Synodality and the work of the most recent United Nations Climate Change Conference before listening to O’Malley’s briefing on the protection of minors.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency

Top Vatican cardinal sues woman who accused him of sexual assault
“Canadian Cardinal Marc Ouellet, head of the Vatican’s powerful Dicastery for Bishops, has filed a countersuit against a woman who accused him of sexual assault more than a decade ago, and has promised to donate any damages won to ‘the fight against sexual abuse of indigenous peoples in Canada.’ Ouellet is seeking $100,000 in damages for ‘injury to his reputation, honor and dignity,’ according to a copy of the lawsuit, which filed on Tuesday, Dec. 13, in Montréal Superior Court. The claim stems from the period from 2002 to 2010 when he served as the Archbishop of Quebec.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Pope, Council of Cardinals meet, discuss synod, safeguarding and COP27
“Pope Francis and his international Council of Cardinals met in-person at the Vatican Dec. 5-6, discussing the continental phase of the synod process, safeguarding and the U.N. climate change summit, the Vatican press office said. Also, ‘the meeting was an opportunity for a mutual exchange of updates on some current affairs in different key geographical areas and for an overall assessment of the council’s progress in recent years,’ the Vatican said in a written communique Dec. 7.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

BISHOPS

French bishops set up national church court, recommended by abuse report
“France’s Catholic bishops have set up what they believe to be the world’s first major national church court, replacing a previous network of local tribunals, although sexual abuse cases involving children will still be referred to the Vatican. ‘As a community of believers, the church has developed a comprehensive legal system, which includes the right to sanction behavior by members’ who undermine ‘the church’s spiritual and human values,’ the bishops’ conference said in a statement.” By Catholic News Service in Detroit Catholic

WOMEN’S VOICES

Are we protagonists yet?
“Whenever I read a Vatican statement on the role of women, I conduct a thought experiment. I imagine that I know nothing whatsoever about the Roman Catholic Church or its faithful. If this document were my only source of information, I ask from behind my ecclesial veil of ignorance, what basic conclusions might I draw about women in the Church? I’ve done this mental exercise with dozens of texts over the years, and one conclusion surfaces over and over: women are all exactly the same. It’s a rather astounding conclusion to draw about a tradition populated all the way down by women who lived and died in wild and unique ways … Yet there is little in Church teaching on women that does not appear to proceed from a fundamental illusion that women—the billions of us—constitute some sort of monolithic, quasi-theoretical body with an articulable essence, singular vocation, and narrow set of essentialized gifts.”. By Susan Bigelow Reynolds, Commonweal

CHURCH REFORM

Crisis of confidence over cardinal shakes Cologne Catholics
“An unprecedented crisis of confidence is shaking a historic center of Catholicism in Germany — the Archdiocese of Cologne. Catholic believers have protested their deeply divisive archbishop, and are leaving in droves over allegations that he may have covered up clergy sexual abuse reports. While Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s personal fate is in the hands of Pope Francis, the drama has reverberations nationwide, given that the Cologne archdiocese has more Catholics than any other in Germany — about 1.8 million. Its double-domed cathedral is an iconic tourist attraction and one of the oldest, most important pilgrimage sites of Northern Europe.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

CHURCH FINANCES

Paglia used charity funds to renovate apartment
“Archbishop Vincenzo Paglia diverted hundreds of thousands of euros allocated to support missionary and charitable works while he served as president of the Pontifical Council for the Family. Paglia used much of the money to finance building projects in Rome, including the renovation of his personal apartment, The Pillar has learned. According to multiple independent sources with knowledge of the events, Archbishop Paglia confirmed in a 2015 memo to Holy See financial officials that hundreds of thousands of euros had been paid to an Italian construction contractor instead of going to missionary and charitable projects to support poor families and orphans.” By The Pillar

For second consecutive year, Diocese of Scranton receives top score in independent financial transparency review
“For the second consecutive year, a lay organization of faithful Catholics has named the Diocese of Scranton as being one of the most financially transparent dioceses in the United States. For six years, Voice of the Faithful has reviewed all U.S. Catholic dioceses’ online financial transparency. The group’s 2022 report identifies the Diocese of Scranton as one of only five dioceses to receive an overall score of 100% in regards to transparency. This year’s other top-scoring dioceses include Charleston, Lexington, Orlando and Rochester. The Diocese of Scranton also received an overall score of 100% for financial transparency in 2021.” By Diocese of Scranton

Rockville Centre Diocese one of the least transparent: Report
“A Catholic advocacy group’s rankings place the Rockville Centre Diocese among the least transparent in the nation. According to the 2022 report by Voice of the Faithful, the Rockville Centre Diocese is tied for 166th among the 177 in the country for transparency with regard to financial issues, Newsday reports. ‘They’re doing very poorly. And even more concerning to me is they’re going down,’ Margaret Roylance, VP of Massachusetts-based Voice of the Faithful, told Newsday.’ By Jerry Barmash, Rockville Centre Patch

Which Catholic diocese has best financial transparency in Southern California
“The true wealth of the Roman Catholic Church is impossible to calculate, many have said. Vast land holdings, exquisite art collections, more than a billion members and … the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Here on the home front, though, things can be broken down into simpler pieces. There are 177 dioceses in the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, including 12 in California, and — in the wake of the priest sex abuse scandal — a mighty push to lay their finances bare. California’s dozen dioceses span the gamut from among the very best in the nation when it comes to financial transparency to among the worst, according to a new report by Voice of the Faithful, a national coalition of everyday Catholics seeking structural change in the Church.” By Teri Sforza, Los Angeles Daily News

After six years, Voice of the Faithful review shows come bishops clearly committed to financial transparency
“Voice of the Faithful diocesan financial transparency report for 2022 is the organization’s sixth such annual review, and the report shows some bishops are clearly committed to financial transparency. Others, not so much. This year, the overall average U.S. diocesan transparency score increased from 69% in 2021 to 70% in 2022. The number of dioceses posting current audited financial reports increased from 113 last year to 115 this year. The number posting a current list of Diocesan Finance Council members increased significantly from 84 to 95. All five top-scoring dioceses this year received a score of 100%.” By Voice of the Faithful in Digital Journal

California diocese to join growing list of U.S. Catholic bankruptcies
“Soon into the new year, the Diocese of Santa Rosa, California, will join a growing list of U.S. Catholic dioceses to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy as it faces a wave of sexual abuse lawsuits. Bishop Robert Vasa of Santa Rosa announced in a Dec. 2 statement that the diocese’s attorneys will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy sometime between Dec. 31 and March 1, 2023, saying the decision was ‘the inevitable result of an insurmountable number of claims.’ The diocese is facing more than 130 claims dating from 1962, when the diocese was established, through the present day, with the majority of the cases being from the 1970’s and 1980’s, Vasa said.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com

Michigan priest charged with stealing $830,000 from retired clergy
“A Catholic priest is accused of stealing more than $800,000 from three retired priests in the Lansing, Michigan, diocese. Father David Rosenberg was arraigned Thursday (Dec. 1) on embezzlement charges and other crimes in Clinton County, north of Lansing, the attorney general’s office said. Rosenberg, 70, was director of the St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt for six years until he retired from active ministry in 2021.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

VOICES

From lived history to living legacy: Vatican II at sixty
“On the sixtieth anniversary of Vatican II, we stand at an inflection point in the history of the council’s reception. Francis, the first pope since the council who was not himself a participant in it, has shown us what it means to treasure Vatican II not as lived history but as a living legacy, and this has become our challenge. Can we do this too? What O’Malley observed—the role of Pope Francis in changing the narrative about Vatican II—comes at a moment in history when the last of the fathers of Vatican II are passing away. To put it bluntly, the gifts of the council will either flourish in new hands or pass away along with them.” By Rita Ferrone, Commonweal

‘Cords of human kindness’: an introduction to small Christian Communitie
“This past June, Today’s American Catholic convened a listening session in response to the ‘Synod on Synodality.’ A key point of our discernment was that people are longing for a deeper sense of community in their experience of faith. We discussed small Christian communities (SCCs) as a promising way to foster relationships and help participants be more proactive in learning about and living the gospel.” By Today’s American Catholic

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Kansas lawmaker plans to reintroduce bill removing childhood sexual abuse lawsuit limits
“Lawmakers may expand the rights of child sex abuse victims in the upcoming legislative session, renewing efforts to pass legislation that would require clergy reporting and remove time limits for lawsuit cases involving child abuse. Current state law sets a statute of limitations on filing for damages from childhood sexual abuses. Lawsuits have to be filed within three years of the survivor turning 18 or within three years of discovering an injury or illness caused by the abuse. Many have condemned the rule as unfair and fundamentally misguided.” By Rachel Mipro, Kansas Reflector

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic collective narcissism linked to acceptance of myths about child sexual abuse
“A new study has uncovered a link between high levels of Catholic collective narcissism and acceptance of myths about child sexual abuse. The findings, which were published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, could help inform efforts to combat prejudice against underaged victims of sexual abuse. ‘Even though sexual relations between priests and minors have taken place inside the Catholic Church for centuries, the Catholic hierarchy was not always prone to fight against pedophilia in an official way,’ said study author Marta Marchlewska, an associate professor and the head of the Political Cognition Lab at the Polish Academy of Sciences.” By Eric W. Dolan, PsyPost.org

Prominent Jesuit priest and artist disciplined after abuse allegations
“The Roman Catholic Jesuit order said it disciplined a prominent priest and artist who reportedly sexually and psychologically abused nuns in his native Slovenia three decades ago. The Jesuits issued a statement about Father Marko Ivan Rupnik following Italian media reports last week that several nuns had accused him of abuse in the early 1990s when he was their spiritual director at a convent in Slovenia.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Baltimore judge seals case as court weighs release of Catholic church sex abuse report
“Legal arguments will continue behind closed doors about whether a Baltimore judge should release a 456-page investigation into child sexual abuse within the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Baltimore Circuit Judge Anthony Vittoria ordered the case sealed on Friday (Dec.2). His order means all hearings will be closed to the public and all legal motions will be confidential.” By Tim Prudente, The Baltimore Banner

New map illustrates Catholic sexual abuse in Indian country
“Nearly half of all Jesuit priests and brothers credibly accused of sexual abuse against children or vulnerable adults in a ten-state region in the western United States over the past 70 years worked in Indian Country. That’s what’s depicted by Desolate Country: Mapping Catholic Sex Abuse in Native America, an interactive map that plots the years and locations of 99 priests and 13 brothers of the Jesuits West Province. Of them, 47 of the men with credible allegations of abuse against them spent time working at Native missions.” By Jenna Kunze, NativeNewsOnline.net

CALIFORNIA

New allegations of sexual abuse against a Servite High School priest surface in court
“Three former Servite High School students allege they were repeatedly sexually assaulted by a priest, according to three new lawsuits filed in court, the latest in a series of allegations against a pastor who also acted as a teacher and swim coach at the prestigious school. A total of eight former students have filed lawsuits against the private school in Anaheim and Father Kevin Fitzpatrick, who, according to the attorney for several of the plaintiffs, worked to gain the trust of young boys at the school and “commanded” a room that was being used to isolate and sexually abuse them.” By The Bharat Express News

Was a beloved Bay Area priest also a pedophile? Survivor hopes lawsuit will spark change
“On a chilly November morning, Derek Lewis sat on a bench in front of a haunted little white building, remembering. The 34-year-old Hayward man’s psychologist says it’s good to come to this quiet spot in Contra Costa County to confront the past. The structure used to house the office and living area of the head priest at the church that was once next door. Inside the building, as well as inside the church, Lewis said, the priest sexually abused him repeatedly over two years starting when Lewis was about 8 years old, inflicting trauma that set his young life on a tortuous path.” By Joshua Sharpe, San Francisco Chronicle

Bishop of Santa Rosa Diocese says ‘perfect justice’ not possible in clergy abuse cases, urges harmony, forgiveness
“‘Perfect justice’ is not possible ‘in this world,’ Bishop Robert F. Vasa told parishioners Sunday (Dec. 4), in the wake of the Santa Rosa Catholic Diocese’s announcement last week that it will seek bankruptcy protection in anticipation of hundreds of new and potential clergy abuse lawsuits. ‘We recognize in this penitential season that perfect justice is still elusive — that we are not capable of achieving it in this lifetime,’ he said during a sermon at the Cathedral of St. Eugene in Santa Rosa.” By Madison Smalstig, The Press Democrat

14 Northern California clergy, religious linked for first time to Catholic sex abuse scandal
“As a deadline nears for new lawsuits in sexual abuse cases, 66 Catholic clergy and religious accused of sexual abuse have been identified in 116 lawsuits filed in Northern California. Of those, 14 have been publicly identified for the first time. These new accusations have come to light under under a 2019 California law that extended the statute of limitations for abuse cases. Assembly Bill 218 provided for a three-year window that began on Jan. 1 in 2020. The deadline to file new lawsuits is Dec. 31.” By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

ILLINOIS

Chicago priest Michael Pfleger reinstated following latest accusation of sexual abuse against him
“Father Michael Pfleger, the senior pastor of the St. Sabina Parish in Chicago, has been reinstated after an independent review board found ‘no reason’ to keep him away following the latest accusation of sexual abuse against him. Pfleger posted a picture of the letter from the archbishop of Chicago to the community on Facebook on Saturday (Dec. 10), with the caption, ‘Like MJ said. ‘I’M BACK.’’ Pfleger was previously asked to step aside in October after another allegation of sex abuse against him surfaced. His latest accuser was a man in his late 40s who filed a claim with the Archdiocese of Chicago, Eugene K. Hollander, an attorney for the accuser, told CNN affiliate WLS.” By Michelle Watson, CNN

INDIANA

Op/Ed: Priest convicted of pedophilia avoids prison. Will there be clerical consequences?
“U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has apparently prioritized their anti-LGBT stance rather than addressing their pedophile priest scandal. Here’s a recent example of how this plays out: Father David Marcotte was suspended from his ministry as an Archdiocese of Indianapolis Catholic priest in February 2019, due to allegations of sexual abuse of a minor in 2016. In October 2019, Marcotte was arrested and charged with three felony counts: child solicitation (Level 5 felony), vicarious sexual gratification (Level 5 felony), and dissemination of matter harmful to minors (Level 6 felony).” By Lynn Starkey, IndyStar.com

LOUISIANA

Suspended New Orleans deacon pleads guilty to molesting preteen boy
“The clerical molestation scandal that for decades has engulfed the Roman Catholic church in New Orleans took another turn on Tuesday (Dec. 6), when a suspended deacon pleaded guilty to charges that he sexually abused a preteen boy two decades earlier, before the defendant’s ordination as a clergy member. Virgil Maxey “VM” Wheeler III, 64, pleaded guilty to four charges of indecent behavior with a juvenile filed against him in state court in Jefferson parish, which neighbors New Orleans.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

Ex-seminarian accuses new Orleans archbishop of harassment in decades-long dispute
“A former student at a New Orleans college that trains Catholic priests has claimed he was racially and sexually harassed there – including by the city’s current archbishop – as he parries counter-allegations that he is merely trying to extort money and a green card from church officials. Over two decades, the dispute has drawn attention from Catholic officials at the highest levels in the US and worldwide. But it was not publicly known until it surfaced as part of a chapter 11 bankruptcy case the New Orleans archdiocese opened amid a wave of lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse by clerics across generations.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans, in The Guardian

MAINE

Lawsuits mounting against the Catholic Diocese of Portland
“Cases are mounting against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, which oversaw priests who are accused of sexually abusing children decades ago. Lawsuits filed by a former parishioner at St. Joseph Church in Portland, and two brothers who served as altar boys at St. Hyacinth Church in Westbrook, allege the Diocese failed to keep children safe from clergy members who were known abusers.” By Viven Leigh, News Center Maine

Maine woman alleges she was abused by a Roman Catholic priest nearly 60 years ago
“A Cumberland County woman has filed a civil complaint against the Roman Catholic Bishop of Portland, alleging she was sexually abused by a priest that the Diocese knew was a predator, and who was reassigned to another parish. At a Portland news conference Thursday (Dec. 1), Ann Allen told reporters that she was 7 years old in 1964, when Father Lawrence Sabatino abused her in the basement of St. Peter’s Church.” By Carol Bousquet, Main Public Radio

MARYLAND

Sexual abuse survivors demand courts release Catholic church investigation
“Survivors of sexual abuse in the Catholic Church are demanding the courts release a 456-page report detailing the history of allegations against priests and resulting coverup in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the fruits of a nearly four-year state investigation. The survivors and their attorneys announced at a news conference Wednesday they filed a request with the Baltimore Circuit Court in an attempt to bring the confidential report to the public. ‘Only when this is out and in the open can healing really begin,’ their attorney Robert Jenner said.” By Julie Scharper, The Baltimore Sun, on National Public Radio

‘Keepers’ survivors expand arguments on why Maryland AG report into Catholic clergy sexual abuse should be public
“Women featured in ‘The Keepers,’ a 2017 Netflix documentary series about clergy sexual abuse at a Baltimore-area Catholic girls school in the 1960s and ‘70s, expanded on their request Friday (Dec. 2) for the full public release of a report examining sexual misconduct by clergy throughout the Archdiocese of Baltimore. Teresa Lancaster and Jean Wehner, who were victimized during their time at Archbishop Keough High School, filed their initial motion Wednesday after learning from a Baltimore Sun story that Baltimore’s Roman Catholic archdiocese is helping pay legal fees for a group of people named in the report who are asking a judge to make secret the court proceedings around its release.” By Union-Bulletin

MASSACHUSETTS

Bishop McManus: Sex abuse allegations against priest are credible
“The Rev. Alan J. Martineau, most recently of parishes in Warren, will remain on administrative leave after an investigation sought by the Diocese of Worcester deemed an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor to be credible. Martineau has been on leave since January; the diocese announced the results of its investigation Monday (Dec. 12), with Bishop Robert J. McManus ruling on the case.” By Mike Elfland, Telegram & Gazette

NEW JERSEY

Camden Diocese, clergy sex abuse survivors nearing settlement
“South Jersey’s Catholic diocese is one step closer to compensating survivors who were sexually abused by some of the diocese’s priests. In April, the Diocese of Camden agreed to pay $87.5 million to settle claims for victims of clergy sexual abuse. Officials from the diocese appeared before Judge Jerrold N. Poslusny, Jr. in New Jersey District Bankruptcy Court for 14 days of testimony to approve the settlement.” By Antoinette Lee, KYW-AM/103.9-FM Radio News

NEW YORK.

Will AG’s settlement change how Buffalo Diocese handles allegations? Some are skeptical.
“A negotiated settlement to end the state attorney general’s 2020 lawsuit against the Buffalo Diocese yielded a 30-page court order and additional embarrassing news coverage of the diocese’s handling of child sex abuse allegations. What the settlement didn’t do, according to some advocates for child sex abuse victims and child abuse prevention experts, was require the diocese to substantially change the way it operates.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

VIRGINIA

Former Catholic Priest extradited to Virginia on child sex abuse charges
“A former priest at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church in Purcellville, Va., was convicted today (Dec. 12) in Loudoun County Circuit Court for sexually abusing a minor during the summer of 1985 when the former priest was 29 years old, according to a release from the Office of Attorney General Jason Miyares, Scott Asalone.”” By WUSA-TV9 News on YouTube

WISCONSIN

Group calls on Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to escalate clergy sex abuse investigation
“A Madison-based secular group is calling on Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul to escalate a statewide review of clergy sex abuse that launched last year. The request follows the release of names of nearly two dozen clergy by the Catholic Diocese of Superior, which it says have had credible claims of sexually abusing minors made against them. The Freedom From Religion Foundation, which advocates for separation of church and state, sent a Dec. 1 letter to Kaul asking him to increase resources for the investigation after the release of names.” By Daniells Kaeding, Wisconsin Public Radio

Abusive priest list published, four in area named as ‘credibly accused’
“Last week the Diocese of Superior released a list of 23 priests who have been ‘credibly accused’ of raping or sexually abusing children. Four priests in the Pierce and St. Croix county area were included on the list. The four priests are Ryan Erickson of Hudson, Joseph Higgins of River Falls, Donald Dummer of River Falls and James Kraker of Hammond. All have been removed from ministry. Three have died.” By Sam Fristed, River Falls Journal

AUSTRALIA

New national safeguarding standards include adults at risk
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has today (Dec. 7) launched the second edition of the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, covering adults at risk as well as children. ACSL has worked with the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference, Catholic Religious Australia and the Association of Ministerial Public Juridic Persons to develop the NCSS Edition 2. The release of NCSS Edition 2 comes just one week before the five-year anniversary of the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse’s final report.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

New Priest named in latest clerical abuse report
“The Archdiocese of Vancouver has issued its semi-annual update on clerical sexual abuse, releasing the name of a priest who was the subject of sexual abuse allegation received in 2008. The latest report of the Implementation Working Group, the archdiocesan committee responsible for implementing the approved recommendations received from the 2019 Case Review Committee, was released Tuesday (Dec. 13) and said an accusation of sexual abuse had been received in April 2008 against Father Georges Chevrier, OMI, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima in Coquitlam from 1971 to 1977.” By The B.C. Catholic

B.C. woman settles lawsuit over alleged childhood sexual abuse by Catholic priest during confession
“A Vancouver Island woman who says she was sexually abused as a child by a former Nazi turned Catholic priest has settled her lawsuit against the church. Father Gerhard Hartmann repeatedly sexually assaulted and fondled the victim over a period of three years at St. Peter’s Roman Catholic Church in Nanaimo, B.C., beginning in 1976, when she was just 10 years old, according to the notice of claim.” By Bethany Lindsay, CBC News

Officials at Archdiocese of Montreal meddled in abuse investigations, ombudsman says
“The lawyer appointed to help make the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Montreal more transparent in the way it handles allegations of abuse against clergy says her job is being undermined by those inside the church. In a report made public Monday and obtained in advance by CBC News, Marie Christine Kirouack, the church ombudsman, said she discovered a high-ranking clergy member was leaking information about abuse complaints, and in some cases, actively discouraging complainants from contacting her.” By Leah Hendry, CBC News

Two Quebec bishops named in abuse lawsuit
“Two Quebec bishops, one deceased and one living, have been named in a sexual abuse class action against the Archdiocese of Quebec. Bishops Clement Fecteau (1933-2017) and Jean-Pierre Blais, who is Bishop of Baie-Comeau, are among the accused whose names were released by the law firm Arsenault Dufresne Wee Avocats. Fecteau is accused of abusing a 13-year-old victim in 1987 at the Séminaire de Quebec. He was appointed auxiliary bishop for the Quebec archdiocese in 1989 and would in 1996 be appointed Bishop of Sainte-Anne-de-la-Pocatiere.” By Catholic Register

GERMANY

German bishop must face Vatican investigation, abuse council demands
“An advisory body of sexual abuse survivors on Monday (Dec. 12) called for canonical procedures against the vice president of the German Bishops’ Conference. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode should be charged under canon law for his handling of abuse cases, the advisory council said in a statement sent to media Dec. 12, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. The advisory body represents those affected by sexual abuse for the metropolitan archdiocese of Hamburg and the dioceses of Hildesheim and Osnabrück.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

Cologne clerical abuse case opens door to compensation landslide
“Germany’s Catholic church may face a wave of clerical abuse compensation claims after the Cologne archdiocese dropped its statute of limitations defense in a closely-watched court case. On Tuesday Cologne district court began hearing the case of a man who has sued the archdiocese for €805,000 in damages. Mr Georg Menne says he was sexually abused at least 320 times during the 1970s by a Catholic priest, Erich Jansen. Until his death in 2020 the priest remained active in parish work despite being reported to archdiocese authorities at least twice – in 1980 and 2010.” By Derek Scally, The Irish Times

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Abused siblings told they can sue Sisters of Nazareth Catholic order
“Two siblings who were abused at a children’s home have been told they can now sue a Catholic order. The pair – known as ‘B and W’ – raised historic abuse claims against the Sisters of Nazareth over incidents in Lasswade, Midlothian, in the 1970s. Both legal bids were originally thrown out in January after Sisters of Nazareth claimed it could not get a fair trial due to the passage of time. But three appeal judges on Friday (Dec. 2) ruled the cases should not have been dismissed and granted the siblings permission to continue with their claim for six-figure compensation.” By Kevin Scott, News.STV.tv

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Over 300 abuse allegations to day against Spiritan priests
“More than 300 people have made abuse allegations against at least 78 Spiritan priests, a spokesman for the religious congregation has said. He also said the latter figure may increase slightly when all recent contacts have been fully processed. Some people making allegations have done so directly to the Spiritans, while others may have gone to the gardaí, “and we know that a number have gone initially to the independent expert on Restorative Justice, Mr Tim Chapman”, the spokesman said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Jesuits unlikely to be prosecuted over sexual abuse of Limerick students
“Gardi are unlikely to prosecute any members of the Jesuits over the religious order’s handling of historic allegations of child sexual abuse by one of its priests Fr Joseph Marmion. Garda sources said that enquires into allegations against Marmion of abusing pupils at Belvedere College, Clongowes Wood College and the former Crescent College in Limerick City have also run cold because Marmion died in 2000 at the age of 75. In 1977 a number of pupils at Belvedere, where Marmion taught from 1969 to1978, made disclosures to senior Jesuits of sexual abuse by Marmion.” By David Raleigh, Limerick Post

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Jesuit case underscores secrecy, leniency for abuse of women

(Rev. Marko Ivan) Rupnik is unknown to most Catholics but is a giant within the Jesuit order and the Catholic hierarchy because he is one of the church’s most sought after artists … When the 2021 case (unspecified problems in the exercise of his ministry) became this month, fellow Jesuits called for the Vatican to shed more light on why Rupnik wasn’t sanctioned by the Holy See after he was accused.

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

“Revelations that the Vatican let a famous priest off the hook twice for abusing his authority over adult women has exposed two main weaknesses in the Holy See’s abuse policies: sexual and spiritual misconduct against adult women is rarely if ever punished, and secrecy still reigns supreme, especially when powerful priests are involved.

“The Jesuit order, to which Pope Francis belongs, was forced to admit Wednesday (Dec. 14) that its initial statements about the Rev. Marko Ivan Rupnik, an internationally recognized religious artist, were less than complete. The order had said Rupnik was accused in 2021 of unspecified problems ‘in the way he exercised his ministry’ but that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith determined the allegations were too old to prosecute.

“But under questioning by journalists, the Jesuit superior general, the Rev. Arturo Sosa, acknowledged the Congregation had prosecuted Rupnik for a separate, prior case from 2019 that ended with his conviction and temporary excommunication for one of the gravest crimes in the church’s in-house canon law: that he used the confessional to absolve a woman with whom he previously had sexual relations.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Study of moral injury measures ‘added weight’ of clergy sexual abuse and its concealment / National Catholic Reporter

The Xavier team’s instrument is the first to measure moral injury in survivors of clergy sexual abuse and, according to (principal investigator Marcus) Mescher, is more comprehensive than previous methods used to assess moral injury in civilians.

Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

“A research team from Xavier University in Cincinnati has created a tool that measures the ‘moral injury’ caused by clergy sexual abuse and its concealment by officials in the Catholic Church.

“In a report on the pilot study, released Dec. 12, moral injury is described as persistent psychological and emotional distress, spiritual anguish, moral confusion, social isolation, and distrust for institutions. It results from a betrayal of trust or violation of deeply held moral values.

“‘When the perpetrator of sexual abuse is a priest — someone ordained in persona Christi — and represents the holy, the sacred or the entire church or even God, the trauma of abuse takes on an added weight,’ said Marcus Mescher, a principal investigator for the study and professor of Christian ethics at Jesuit-run Xavier. ‘I thought the concept of moral injury would be a helpful hermeneutical lens for understanding the many ripple effects of harm caused by clergy sexual abuse.’

“Moral injury is a concept primarily applied to veterans traumatized by combat, though recently it’s been explored in high-stress professions such as law enforcement, health care, child protective services and education, according to the report.”

By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Dec. 2, 2022

Dec. 2, 2022

TOP STORIES

Exclusive: Pope Francis denounces polarization, talks women’s ordination, the U.S. bishops and more
“On Nov. 22, 2022, five representatives of America Media interviewed Pope Francis at his residence at Santa Marta at the Vatican. Matt Malone, S.J., the departing editor in chief of America, was joined by Sam Sawyer, S.J., the incoming editor in chief; executive editor Kerry Weber; Gerard O’Connell, America’s Vatican correspondent; and Gloria Purvis, host of ‘The Gloria Purvis Podcast.’ They discussed a wide range of topics with the pope, including polarization in the U.S. church, racism, the war in Ukraine, the Vatican’s relations with China and church teaching on the ordination of women.” By the Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

Pope Francis wants to consider ordaining married men as priests
“Pope Francis has stirred Catholics around the world with his relatively open comments on homosexuality, abortions and climate change, but his latest statement hints he may be looking at moving the Church toward loosening one of its most stringent rules. The Pope said in an interview Thursday (Nov. 17) that he might consider ordaining married men who could work in rural areas where there are few priests, according to the Associated Press. His remarks came in an interview with the Germany newspaper Die Zeit.” By Abigail Abrams, Time

Maryland finds that for hundreds of clergy abuse victims, ‘No parish was safe’
“The attorney general of Maryland has identified more than 600 young victims of clergy sexual abuse over the course of 80 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, according to a court document filed Thursday (Nov. 17). The filing, which broadly outlines the attorney general’s findings, requests that a judge allow the release of the full report: a 456-page document detailing decades of clergy sex abuse in Maryland. The new report marks a symbolic milestone in the long-running international abuse scandal that has shaken faith in the Catholic Church and led to some reforms and billions of dollars in settlements.” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

Italian bishops take cautious step toward transparency on abuse
“On Thursday (Nov. 17) the Italian bishops released their first-ever report on national safeguarding efforts, revealing nearly 100 new and old cases documented in the past two years, but sharing few details about these incidents. The report spanned just two years, from 2020-2021, and found that 89 complaints had been made against 68 alleged abusers, which many observers consider a significantly high number, given that these complaints were made through diocesan-run listening centers established in dioceses throughout Italy for the specific purpose of receiving abuse reports.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Stika, Knoxville diocese to face apostolic visitation
“A Vatican-ordered apostolic visitation will be conducted in the Diocese of Knoxville next week, several sources close to the diocese. Sources told The Pillar Friday (Nov. 25) that Bishops Barry Knestout of Richmond and Michael Burbidge of Arlington have been directed to visit with priests, diocesan officials, and lay Catholics over several days, amid ongoing concern over the leadership of Bishop Rick Stika. The decision to commission an on-site assessment of the diocese comes more than 18 months after priests in the diocese reported to the Vatican concerns about Stika’s handling of reports against a former diocesan seminarian, who was accused of sexually harassing and assaulting other seminarians and a parish organist.” By The Pillar

Seattle Archdiocese criticized for buying $2.4 million home for archbishop
“Seattle Archbishop Paul Etienne will be moving from a parish rectory into a newly purchased $2.4 million home in an upscale waterfront neighborhood. Archdiocesan officials say the relocation is necessary to better accommodate guests but the decision has also garnered criticism. ‘The move is breaking a promise that the archbishop made to us in a pretty major way,’ said Tim Law, a Seattle Catholic and attorney who is a member of Heal Our Church, a Washington-based alliance calling for a lay-led review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s private records on clergy abuse.” By Katie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter

Bills to mandate clergy report abuses will return to the Utah state legislature
Bills that remove priest-penitent privilege when it comes to disclosures of child abuse will be run in the upcoming legislative session. Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, told FOX 13 News on Monday (Nov. 21) she has drafted and numbered a bill that would require clergy to report any disclosure of abuse by a perpetrator to law enforcement to investigate. Failure to report abuse would be a misdemeanor crime under the legislation, on par with other professions that are required to report disclosures.” By Ben Winslow, FOX-TV13 News

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synod process has faced ‘temptations’ along the way
“While some want Church ‘reform’ and others want ‘to put the brakes on the Synod process,’ those involved in preparing the next phase of the Synod on Synodality want to ‘mend’ the Church, said a top cardinal. As final plans are made for the continental phase leading to the Synod of Bishops 2023-24, the bishops and coordinators responsible for the regional meetings met at the Vatican on Monday (Nov. 28) and Tuesday. Meeting Pope Francis on Monday, the Synod’s relator general, Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich of Luxembourg, said the process has faced ‘temptations’ along the way. Particularly in the media, he said, there is a temptation to politicize the Church, looking at it ‘with the logic of politics.’” By CathNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis removes Caritas Internationalis leaders, appoints temporary administrator
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Nov. 22) removed the entire leadership of an international confederation of charities and appointed a temporary administrator to improve the organization’s management. Pope Francis issued a decree Nov. 22 appointing Pier Francesco Pinelli, an Italian management consultant, as temporary administrator of Caritas Internationalis (CI). With the same ordinance, the pope said the positions of the Catholic confederation’s leadership are to cease immediately. This decision includes Caritas Internationalis president Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle and secretary general Aloysius John. The positions of the vice presidents, treasurer, ecclesiastical assistant, executive council, and representative council also end.” By ACI Prensa Staff in The Pilot

BISHOPS

Hierarchicalism is the root of U.S. bishops’ culture war mentality
“NCR’s former executive editor, Tom Roberts, referred to (James) Keenan’s writing on hierarchicalism after the June 2021 bishops’ meeting, when he opined about the conference’s proposal to deny Communion to pro-choice politicians: The move to produce a document designed to render a severe and public judgment of President Joe Biden was engineered by men who, ensconced in a culture capable of stunning depravity and cover-up, have been searching for any means to reestablish their authority. I believe that this problem of hierarchicalism is one of the most important issues that needs to be addressed at the universal synod scheduled for 2023 and 2024.” By Jim Purcell, National Catholic Reporter

Interview: Bishop Stowe wants the USCCB to take Pope Francis’ priorities seriously
“Just a few hours after its bishop-members voted down the candidacy of Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark for the number-three spot at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops on Nov. 16, Bishop John Stowe, O.F.M. Conv. of Lexington, Ky., was smiling through evident frustration. In a few hours he would—again—implore his fellow bishops to consider a complete rewrite of its quadrennial Faithful Citizenship statement, with the aim of reflecting the ecological and economic issues prioritized over the last decade by Pope Francis.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Archbishop Broglio, questioned on abuse, homosexuality and whether he’s a ‘Pope Francis’ bishop in first press conference as USCCB head
“If his first press conference is any indication of what is in store for him over the next three years, Archbishop Timothy Broglio, the president-elect of the USCCB, may be in for a bit of a bumpy ride—and with him the church in the United States. In just a few short minutes after being introduced to the press for the first time as president-elect of the conference on Nov. 15, the archbishop was asked about his past relationship with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, whether or not he still believed that homosexuality in the priesthood was among the primary drivers of the church’s clerical abuse crisis and, finally, whether his election to the U.S.C.C.B presidency signified a continued estrangement among bishops in the United States from the aims and hopes of Pope Francis for the global church.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

10 key things the U.S. bishops did at their fall meeting in Baltimore
“The U.S. Catholic bishops are headed back to their dioceses after gathering in Baltimore this week for their annual fall meeting. Here’s a summary of key actions taken at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) fall plenary assembly …” By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency, in The Catholic World Report

German bishops assure Vatican but vow to proceed with reform
“Germany’s Catholic bishops insisted Saturday (Nov. 19) that their reform process won’t lead to a schism and vowed to see it through, after tense meetings with Vatican officials who want a moratorium on proposals to ordain women, bless same-sex unions and rethink church teaching on sexuality … The periodic once-every-five-year visit took on far greater import this time given the demands for change and reform among Germany’s rank-and-file Catholics following the German church’s reckoning with decades of clergy sexual abuse and cover-ups.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Bishops mark charter’s 20th year, pledge continued outreach to survivors
“Twenty years ago, the big news from the bishops’ general assembly in Dallas was the adoption of the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People,’ a comprehensive set of procedures for addressing allegations of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy. This year, at their assembly in Baltimore Nov. 14-17, they acknowledged the charter’s anniversary and said that they have made steps in addressing clergy sexual abuse and would continue to listen, care for and walk with survivors.” By Carol Zimmermann, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com

Accused Albany bishop asks to be removed from the priesthood
“The retired bishop of Albany, New York, who has admitted to covering up for predator priests and has himself been accused of sexual abuse, has asked Pope Francis to remove him from the priesthood. Emeritus Bishop Howard Hubbard, 84, announced the decision in a statement Friday (Nov. 18), the day the United Nations designated as the World Day for the Prevention of, and Healing from Child Sexual Exploitation, Abuse and Violence.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Q&A with Sr. Anne Munley, discerning the future of religious life for LCWR
“The 2021 assembly of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious introduced Sr. Anne Munley as the associate director for LCWR’s Emerging Future Initiative. At the 2022 assembly in August, Munley presented an update on the process, specifically the five Collaborative Leadership Hubs held across the United States between April and June in which leaders contemplated, discussed and discerned the emerging future of religious life.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Vatican appoints first lay finance chief after prefect resigns
“Pope Francis has appointed the first non-cleric to manage the Vatican’s finances after the current prefect, a Jesuit priest, resigned due to health reasons. Maximiliano Caballero Ledo, 62, a Spanish financier who has worked for the United States multinational Baxter Healthcare, becomes the Prefect for the Secretariat for the Economy, an office with authority over all economic affairs of the Holy See.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese recognized for financial transparency
“The Diocese of Allentown has been recognized for its financial transparency in a nationwide report. The findings were contained in a report by Voice of the Faithful, a group of lay Catholics focused on Church governance that conducts an annual survey of diocesan financial transparency each summer. The group produces a scorecard that rates dioceses against each other, and against the national average performance, in an effort to spur improvement. The 2022 report listed the Diocese of Allentown among the five most-improved dioceses in the nation in financial transparency.” By Diocese of Allentown

Vatican officials seek to hamstring former auditor’s $9.6 million lawsuit
“Just a week after the Vatican’s first auditor general and his deputy filed a $9.6 million lawsuit for wrongful dismissal, the Vatican’s legal system has seemingly sought to hamstring the claim by refusing to certify the plaintiffs’ chosen lawyer. Speaking to journalists Nov. 17, Libero Milone, the Vatican’s first auditor general, who appointed in 2015 and fired in 2017 along with his deputy Ferruccio Panicco, said that a week after filing their suit, their lawyer had been rejected by officials in charge of certifying attorneys to appear before Vatican courts.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Cardinal Becciu and the twists and turns of the Vatican finance trial
“As the Vatican trial against Cardinal Angelo Becciu and nine others rounds the corner in its 16th month, recent court hearings have introduced a few revelations about the case as well as possible new accusations against the Secretariat of State’s former No. 2. Here are some of the latest twists and turns in the trial to prosecute people in and around the Vatican for financial crimes.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

U.S. bishops’ decline into irrelevance will continue
“I suppose it was fitting, in a depressing kind of way, that the U.S. bishops’ conference plenary coincided with former President Donald Trump’s announcement he is seeking the presidency in 2024. In both church and state, the future will be dominated by divisiveness and a culture war ethic for the next few years, a result that contradicts the founding mission of both. The future is grim. The church understands its most essential mission to be proclaiming Christ as ‘Lumen gentium,’ the ‘Light of nations’ in the words of the Second Vatican Council … Alas, the ‘unity of the whole human race’ is not likely going to be part of the U.S. bishops’ agenda during the tenure of Archbishop Timothy Broglio as president of the conference.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Geographic

Dear bishops: We know the church is struggling. Let the rest of us help you.
“Recently, the Archdiocese of St. Louis announced a proposal that would close more than half of its 178 parishes. The issues that the archdiocese has cited are all too familiar in the United States: decreasing attendance and an aging clergy. The fact is, in the United States, young Catholics are not coming to church … I am hardly in a position to understand what it’s like to be a bishop facing what seems like our own Catholic version of oncoming climate change disaster. But if I had one wish for the U.S. bishops right now, it is that those who are concerned or uncertain about our future would share that experience with the rest of us. As paradoxical as it may seem, I think doing so could be a tremendous source of not only hope but enthusiasm in these trying times.” By Jim McDermott, America: The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Adult survivors of past sexual abuse now have a year to sue the alleged abuser
“There is a statute of limitations for reporting adult sexual abuse. That statute is being waived for one year, which began Thanksgiving day, due to the Adult Survivors Act. The act is modelled on the Child Victims Act, which was approved in 2019. It allows people who were over 18 years of age when they experienced sexual abuse to have a one year window of opportunity to file a claim against their alleged abuser in civil court. They can bring legal action even if the statute of limitations for the crime has expired.” By Karen DeWitt, WAER-FM

CA ‘look-back’ window closing for adult victims of childhood sex abuse
“Southern California resident Patricia Egan, 65, is breathing easier, she said, after having her day in court. In November, Egan, now 65, won an $18 million lawsuit against her former brother-in-law, the man she says sexually abused her during the ’60s and ’70s, starting when she was 11 years old. Now, however, the three-year legal window that enables older adult victims such as Egan to sue for damages against their childhood sexual abusers is about to close in California.” By Ashley Ludwig, Patch.com

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Catholic Church sexual abuse victims in Baltimore speak out in favor of AG report release
“Individuals abused by Catholic priests in Maryland gathered in front of the Baltimore Archdiocese office on Friday (Nov. 18) to speak out in favor of public release of the grand jury investigation into religious leaders accused of abuse. After four years of investigation, the Maryland Attorney General’s Office has gathered a 456-page report that identifies 158 priests who are accused of abusing more than 600 children over an 80 year period. Attorney General Brian Frosh is seeking a court order, as required by state law, to release the grand jury documents to the public.” By Scott Maucione, WYPR-FM National Public Radio Baltimore

CALIFORNIA

These 10 Bay Area clergy are now linked for the first time to Catholic Church sex abuse scandal
“As a deadline looms for new lawsuits to root out decades-old abuse, 14 Northern California priests — including 10 in the Bay Area — have been accused for the first time of sexually abusing children, adding to the list of dozens of disgraced clergy already exposed in recent years in a scandal that has rocked the Roman Catholic church for a generation. The 14 accused priests came to light in a torrent of litigation unleashed by Assembly Bill 218, which opened a three-year window from 2020-2022 during which adults who say they were abused long ago as children are allowed to sue.” By John Woolfolk, Daily News

New lawsuits filed against Hanna Boys Cener as CA clergy abuse law deadline approaches
“More than a dozen new lawsuits have been filed against Hanna Boys Center of Sonoma by men who say they were abused by Catholic priests and staff there when they were children. We’ve been speaking to survivors, former staff, and officials now running the residential treatment center. A state law that allows survivors of clergy sexual abuse to file lawsuits — no matter how long ago it happened — expires at the end of next month. As a result, there has been a rush of new complaints. No question, Hanna Boys Center has done some good over the years, helping kids struggling with school or family life.” By Dan Noyes, ABC-TV7 News

INDIANA

Catholic Diocese of Evansville clears priest of sexual misconduct allegation
“The Rev. Bernie Etienne, a priest who had been accused of sexual misconduct, has been returned to active ministry, the Catholic Diocese of Evansville said Friday (Nov. 25). The move comes ‘following completion of a thorough investigation,’ according to a statement released Friday morning by the Diocese. Etienne’s return is effective immediately. At the time he was placed on administrative leave in March, Etienne was serving as pastor at Evansville’s Holy Rosary Catholic Church, 1301 S. Green River Road.” By Thomas B. Langhorne, Evansville Courier & Press

MARYLAND

Baltimore archdiocese is funding attorneys seeking to seal abuse proceedings
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore confirmed Tuesday (Nov. 22) that it is helping pay the legal expenses of an anonymous group of people seeking to seal the proceedings around a report by the Maryland Attorney General’s Office on clergy sexual abuse of minors. Christian Kendzierski, an archdiocese spokesman, reiterated that the church is not seeking to suppress a 456-page report by the office of Attorney General Brian E. Frosh. But, Kendzierski said, the church has unspecified obligations to a group of individuals who are named in the attorney general’s report but are not accused of sexual abuse and who have argued that their side should be heard before the report is made public.” By Fredrick Kunkle and Michelle Boorstein, The Washinton Post

Baltimore’s Catholic archdiocese will not oppose public release of AG report detailing sexual abuse
“After days of mixed signals, the Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore announced Tuesday (Nov. 22) that it would not oppose the public release of the Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s report showing the extent of sexual abuses committed by clergy over the past eight decades. The announcement comes after Attorney General Brian Frosh’s office revealed in a court filing that it had completed a 456-page report detailing how 158 priests and other church officials had sexually abused more than 600 people — some of them as young as preschool age. What’s more, the report reveals how the church often ignored abuse reports, and often helped cover the abuses up.” By Lainey Steadman, Baltimore News Source

Maryland probe finds 158 abusive priests, over 600 victims
“An investigation by Maryland’s attorney general identified 158 Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Baltimore who have been accused of sexually and physically abusing more than 600 victims over the past 80 years, according to court records filed Thursday. Attorney General Brian Frosh announced that his office has completed a 463-page report on the investigation, which began in 2019. He filed a motion in Baltimore Circuit Court to make the report public. Court permission is required because the report contains information from grand jury subpoenas. It’s unclear when the court will make a decision.” By Brian Witte, Religion News Service

NEW YORK.

Judge orders NY Archdiocese to turn over its investigative records on Hubbard
“A state Supreme Court justice has ordered the Archdiocese of New York to turn over roughly 1,400 pages of internal records related to its investigations of Howard J. Hubbard, rejecting the organization’s arguments that the documents regarding the former Albany bishop are constitutionally protected under the religious clauses of the First Amendment.” By Brendan J. Lyons, Buffalo Times Union

Insurers in Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy put on notice by Rochester abuse settlement plan
“The Rochester Diocese’s novel strategy to exit Chapter 11 bankruptcy by paying childhood sex abuse survivors $55 million and allowing them to sue the diocese’s insurers for additional damages may provide a template for other bankrupt dioceses in New York, including Buffalo, according to legal experts. Across the United States, insurance contributions have been a backbone of most diocese bankruptcy settlement plans over the past decade, with insurance companies paying hundreds of millions of dollars to avoid litigation in sex abuse cases.” By Jay Tokasz, Buffalo News

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg Diocese settlement calls for payment of $18 million to about 60 clergy abuse survivors
“After more than two-and-a-half years of negotiation, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg and a committee representing survivors of sexual abuse by its clergy have announced agreement on an $18.25 million settlement fund designed to resolve all remaining abuse claims. The settlement agreement – part of an overall reorganization plan to resolve the diocese’s bankruptcy case – was filed in federal court Friday (Nov. 18), and still needs approval from the various classes of creditors and the judge overseeing the diocese’s bankruptcy case.” By Charles Thompson, Patriot News, on PennLive.com

RHODE ISLAND

Why do sexual abuse scandals keep happening in Rhode Island?

This year, the state has been rocked by a series of child sexual abuse scandals in the schools and Catholic Church … In February, the Diocese of Providence removed two priests from ministry. Pastor Francis C. Santilli of St. Philip Parish in Greenville was placed on administrative leave after multiple allegations of sexual abuse. The diocese also removed Father Eric Silva from church assignments in Barrington and, later, in Narragansett after parents in Cranston and Barrington alleged that he asked their children questions about their sexual orientation and activity during confession, reportedly accusing them of lying if they denied being gay or sexually active.” By Ellen Liberman, Rhode Island Monthly

TENNESSEE

Chattanooga Catholics call for removal of Knowville bishop, allege mishandling of sexual abuse claims, finances
“In late October, two Chattanooga-area Catholics, Theresa Critchfield and Kristy Higgins, drove with their children to a protest outside the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus in Knoxville. The protest was held by SNAP of Tennessee, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. Its principal organizer, Susan Vance, has for two decades agitated, often alone, for more transparency from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Knoxville. In February, after an anonymous plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the diocese claiming Knoxville Bishop Richard Stika had impeded an investigation into a sexual assault allegedly committed by a then-diocese employee, Vance called for the bishop to resign.” By Andrew Schwartz, Chattanooga Times Free Press

Widow says she was groped by Catholic priest during grief counseling session
“A Honduran asylum-seeker living in Tennessee alleges in a federal lawsuit that the Diocese of Knoxville tried to sabotage a police investigation after she accused a priest of groping her during a grief counseling session following her husband’s death. Identified in court papers as Jane Doe, the mother of three alleges in the lawsuit filed on Nov. 10 that the diocese ‘obstructed law enforcement’ and tried to intimidate her into ‘abandoning her cooperation with the criminal prosecution’ of the Rev. Antony Devassey Punnackal.” By Corky Siemaszko, NBC-TV News

WISCONSIN

Superior Diocese releases list of 23 credibly accused priests, including one man removed this year
“The Diocese of Superior has named 23 priests that it believes have been credibly accused of sexual abuse over the course of its history, including one priest removed from the ministry in September over accusations from the 1990s. According to the records, James Bartelme was placed on administrative leave on September 8, relating to a single allegation of abuse that occurred in 1990 and 1991 in Superior. According to a 2021 guest column in the Catholic Herald, Bartelme, 71, is a retired priest.” By Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

AUSTRALIA

Law against secrecy of confession takes effect
“The law applies to Western Australia, the largest of the Australian states. Entering into force on November 1, 2022, it obliges ministers of religion to report all cases of child abuse, including those for which the information obtained would have been within the framework of the Sacrament of Penance. These changes are part of new laws introduced by the government of Mark McGowan, currently Premier of Western Australia. However, this law was passed in October of 2021.” By FSSPX.news

CANADA

As church sales continue, lawyers bicker over how millions for abuse victims should be paid
“While a Catholic archdiocese in Newfoundland and Labrador continues to sell off its properties, lawyers are squabbling over how millions in proceeds from those sales should be paid out to abuse victims. The two sides are miles apart, but only one side is talking. ‘We believe there are better ways of approaching it,’ said St. John’s lawyer Geoff Budden, who represents dozens of abuse victims, on Monday (Nov. 21).” By Terry Roberts, CBC News

FRANCE

Another retired French bishop admits to hiding past sexual abuse
“Another retired French archbishop has admitted to past sexual abuse and a parish priest was sidelined after his abuse case came to light. The fallout from recent revelations of past sexual abuse by a cardinal and a bishop continues to torment the French Catholic Church. Former Strasbourg Archbishop Jean-Pierre Grallet, 81, admitted making ‘inappropriate gestures’ to an adult woman in the past and now faces civil and canonical inquiries. The woman, prompted by calls for victims to come forward, informed French police during the summer.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet

French Roman Catholic Church wants to regain faith of population
“Several cases of sexual abuse have undermined the trust in the Roman Catholic Church in France. Therefore, the French Conference of Bishops has decided to take measures to regain the population’s confidence … Marie-Jo Thiel, theologian, doctor and professor of ethics, argues for a strategy to denounce all the culprits. Furthermore, she pleads for better training for new bishops. Now, they only have to follow a 48-hour training course in Rome that should equip them for their entire episcopate.” By CNE.news

INDIA

Priest arrested under POSCO, remanded to one-day police custody
“Pune city Police on Saturday (Nov. 26) arrested Father Vincent Pereira, a priest, under sections of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO). He was remanded to one-day police custody by a city court. Pereira was arrested in connection to a case of sexual abuse registered with Bundgarden police on Friday, said Assistant Police Inspector Shilpa Lambe. ‘There are other sexual abuse cases pending against him in various police stations,’ she told The Indian Express.” By The Indian Express

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Blackrock and Spiritan pupils look back: ‘I was never sexually abused at school, but …’
“This week, The Irish Times invited people who had attended Spiritan and other schools to share their experiences in the wake of revelations of widespread abuse at the order’s schools. They include Willow Park, Blackrock, St Mary’s and St Michaels colleges in Dublin, Rockwell College in Co Tipperary, and others in Ireland and overseas. We sought responses from people who had experienced abuse themselves, had witnessed it, or had learned only recently that it occurred in their school.” By Carl O’Brien, The Irish Times

Priest sexually assaulted boys while telling parishioners he was disgusted by church abuse
“A former priest who will be sentenced in December for a horrific series of rapes and sex attacks on a schoolboy was a serial predator who abused a number of boys while telling parishioners he was sickened by the extent of abuse within the Catholic Church. The now defrocked Denis Nolan (70) formerly of The Presbytery, Rathnew, Co Wicklow pleaded guilty at the Central Criminal Court to three counts of anal rape, one of oral rape and five of sexual assault of the schoolboy on dates between January 2001 and December 2005.” By Alan Sherry, Sunday World

ITALY

Italy church says 600 sex abuse cases sent to Vatican
“Italy’s Catholic bishops provided their first accounting of clergy sexual abuse and revealed Thursday (Nov. 17) that more than 600 cases from Italy were on file at the Vatican since 2000. The report of the Italian bishops’ conference, which only covered complaints that local Italian church authorities had received over the last two years, did not mention the hundreds of cases. It identified 89 presumed victims and some 68 people accused.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on Religion News Service

POLAND

Jesuit ministry leader accused of sexual abuse in Poland
“The Jesuits in Poland are going through a seismic upheaval after the abuse of a minor and a vulnerable adult by a charismatic youth and retreat minister was revealed by Więź magazine in mid-November. In a statement released on Nov. 22, the Southern Poland Province of the Jesuits said that Father Maciej Sz. [his full name cannot be used under Polish law] was removed from all ministry and moved to an undisclosed secluded non-Jesuit location where he is forbidden to say Mass or wear clerical garb.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com

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