Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


February 14, 2020

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis sets aside proposal on married priests
“Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas(link is external), a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions. Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church.” By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times

Nonprofit created for Diocese of Fort Worth donations to avoid bishop intervention
“Those who spearheaded a petition asking for Bishop Michael Olson’s removal have formed a nonprofit organization to financially support Diocese of Fort Worth parishes, clergy and charities(link is external) without the intervention of the bishop. ‘We don’t trust where the bishop is spending money, but we still want the church to exist,’ said Stephen Knobbe, a founding member of the Laity in Unity Foundation.Pat Svacina, a spokesman for the diocese, said the bishop could not comment on the foundation because he had not been made aware of it.” By Nichole Manna, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about our database of credibly accused priests. Here are a few answers
“We published a database in Januaryof Catholic clergy who have been deemed ‘credibly accused’ of sexual abuse or misconduct(link is external) by nearly 180 dioceses and religious orders around the country. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have searched the database.A number of those people have reached out with questions about the project. Many have shared personal stories as survivors of abuse. And although the officially released lists total more than 5,800 unique names, dozens of people have written in to suggest names of clergy who they believe have been left off. We’re glad to hear from readers, and we wanted to provide answers to several of the most common questions we’ve received.”By Ellis Simani, Pro Publica

Landmark priest abuse retrial now missing its key witness
“The first US church official ever imprisoned over priest abuse complaints(link is external) will soon be retried in court without a single victim. A landmark 2011 case first began the trial of Monsignor William Lynn, 69, who was eventually convicted of ‘felony child endangerment’ for his time working as a secretary for the clergy at the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia.”By Allie Miller, Philly Voice

Suzanne Healy named chair of U.S. Bishops’ National Review Board
“Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has appointed Mrs. Suzanne Healy, the former Victims Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles as the next chair of the National Review Board(link is external). Mrs. Healy succeeds Francesco C. Cesareo, Ph.D., who concludes his term as chair after the bishops’ June 2020 meeting.The National Review Board advises the bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People and works closely with the Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection in accordance with the Charter for Protection of Children and Young People, which the bishops adopted in 2002.” By U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops

States use Catholic clergy abuse lists to screen applicants
“In the wake of revelations that scores of Roman Catholic priests and religious workers credibly accused of child sexual abuse are living unsupervised in communities across the country, state officials face a quandary: Should they screen former clergy members who seek licenses for jobs that put them in contact with children(link is external)? And, if so, how? An Associated Press investigation last fall found nearly 200 accused clergy members had been granted teaching, mental health or social work licenses, with roughly six dozen still holding valid licenses to work in those fields in 2019.” By Claudia Lauer and Meghan Hoyer, The Associated Press

Abuse victim advocates, laity suffer from ‘vicarious trauma’
“The past two decades have been traumatic ones for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and for the Catholic Church as whole. Waves of scandals, financial crises and closures of parishes and schools have battered the faithful, leaving many discouraged and disgusted(link is external). In particular, the ongoing clerical sexual abuse crisis has profoundly wounded scores of victims within the archdiocese, while also scarring loved ones, counselors, advocates and rank-and-file Catholics.” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

Martinsville priest refuces to sign order to silence from the Catholic Diocese of Richmond
“That truce reached last week in a dispute between a Martinsville priest and a Richmond bishop that preserved the priest’s job now appears to have been short-lived. About 24 hours after that meeting last Wednesday (Feb.5), Father Mark White, priest of St. Joseph Catholic Church in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Rocky Mount, was visited in Rocky Mount by officials of the Diocese of Richmond and again was threatened with the loss of his position(link is external).” By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Bulletin

ACCOUNTABILITY

Why Catholics should welcome ProPublica’s clergy sex abuse database
“On Jan. 28, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica published a report headlined ‘Catholic Leaders Promised Transparency about Child Abuse. They Haven’t Delivered.” This report contains the names of the 5,800 priests and deacons who have been publicly identified by the bishops or superiors of 174 dioceses and religious orders as having had credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor made against them in recent decades(link is external). In other words, ProPublica has created the only ‘List of Lists’ of Catholic clergy abusers in the United States.” By Kathleen McChesney, America: The Jesuit Review

Catholic investigations remain shrouded in secrecy
“Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone resignedin December 2019 after intense public criticism for his handling of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y.His departure came three months after the Vatican announced what’s called an ‘apostolic visitation’ into Malone’s diocese, or region.In my research on clergy sexual abuse, I’ve learned that these investigations are still shrouded in secrecy(link is external).” By Brian J. Clites, Case Western Reserve University, in The Salt Lake Tribune

Should clergy in Utah be required to report confessed child abuse? Catholic Church opposes bill
“In the 2019 fiscal year, the Utah Division of Child and Family Services received 42,428 reports of child abuse or neglect, according to their annual report. Of that number, 21,401 were accepted for formal assessment by Child Protective Services and 10,828 confirmed child victims were found.All of those numbers were up from 2018, according to the same report … But what if there were a way to help even more children? One lawmaker hopes to do just that by making amendments to Utah’s child abuse reporting laws, eliminating exemptions for clergy including priests, rabbis and other religious leaders from reporting child abuse(link is external).” By Holie Reina, St. George News

CARDINALS

French cardinal to offer resignation again to Pope Francis despite acquittal over sex abuse cover-up
A cardinal in France says he will again offer his resignation to Pope Francis – despite being acquitted over a sex abuse cover-up(link is external). Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, was convicted last March and given a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report an abusive priest to police.Pope Francis refused Barbarin’s first offer to quit, saying he wanted to wait until the appeals process is complete.Barbarin was acquitted on appeal on Thursday (Jan. 30).”By Euronews with Agence France-Press and Associated Press

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

McCarrick report: questions needing answers
“The Vatican is getting ready to release a report on former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who was found to have sexually abused minors and slept with seminarians(link is external). The report, mandated by Pope Francis, will need to be detailed and comprehensive if it is going to satisfy the public’s demand for more transparency in the church.Few scandals have rocked the Catholic Church like the story of McCarrick’s sexual abuse of minors and seminarians.”By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Parolin: on McCarrick report release, Pope Francis has ‘final word’
“Pope Francis will make the final decision on when to publish a highly-anticipated report on former cardinal Theodore McCarrick(link is external), the Vatican’s Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin said Thursday. ‘I think that [the report] will come out soon, I cannot tell you exactly when,’ Parolin told a small group of journalists on February 6. Speaking on the sidelines of a conference on holiness, the cardinal said “we are trying to speed up the time to arrive” at the publication of the report on the Vatican’s internal investigation into the disgraced former cardinal. Parolin did confirm that he expects the document to be released ‘in the near future.’” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency in Catholic Herald

BISHOPS

Polish bishop investigated over sex abuse allegations
“The Catholic Church is investigating claims that a bishop in Poland sexually abused a young girl(link is external) decades ago, the clergyman confirmed on Monday (Feb. 10). Jan Szkodon, a bishop in the southern city of Krakow, said in a statement that the Vatican had told him of the inquiry, adding that the accusations were ‘false and harmful’ — though he gave no further detail. The Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper carries claims that he molested a 15-year-old girl in 1998.” By Agence France-Presse on VOANews.com

Catholic Church orders more inquiry into Minnesota bishpop
“Roman Catholic Church leaders in Rome authorized more investigation into claims that a northern Minnesota bishop interfered with past investigations into clerical sexual misconduct with children(link is external), the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced Tuesday (Feb. 5).The investigation into Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner began in September and was the first known of its kind under a new Vatican protocol designed to hold the Catholic hierarchy accountable for failing to protect their flocks.” By The Associated Press on Minnesota Public Radio News

Catholic bishops’ lists of ‘credibly accused priests’ is not what it appears to be
“A fascinating story has just come out showing how deceitful and self-serving Catholic bishops are when it comes to their lists of ‘credibly accused’ child molesting clerics(link is external). In short, it shows that most bishops provide inadequate and inaccurate information about these predator priests. Why? Well, Mary Gautier, a Catholic researcher at a Catholic school, wants us to believe that one reason is that ‘smaller dioceses with limited budgets’ supposedly ‘lacking the money or staff to dig through their archives.’ That’s bunk.” By AdamHorowitzLaw.com

PRIESTS

Peace be with you
“Martinsville priest Father Mark White’s popular blog has drawn lots of readers and the scorn of leaders of the Richmond Diocese because of his criticism of the Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse cases. But his voice and his words have been silenced. This week he could be out of a job … That announcement, though, was only a byproduct of a much more troubling announcement that same month that has started a process that could threaten the appointment of a third priest in Martinsville, one whose only contribution to the sex scandal were his widely consumed comments about how badly he thought the church was handling(link is external) it.”By Bill Wyatt, Martinsville Bulletin

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Presence is vital to recruit younger women for consecrated life, congregations say
“An event in a Toronto pub eventually prompted a woman in her 30s to discern a call to religious life. A vocations director describes herself as ‘a ‘talent scout’ for God and my congregation. One community hired a 33-year-old married woman as a vocation coordinator because of her theology background and her familiarity with social media.These were among the more than 50 responses to Global Sisters Report’s invitation to share how congregations are reaching out to younger women(link is external)and about new members under age 40 who have joined their community in the past five years.” By Gail DeGeorge, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Professing faith: Impact of women in the Catholic Church is significant
“Today’s article takes another form. Yours truly was contacted by a young lady doing a research project on the role of women in the Catholic Church(link is external) and provided a series of questions. Herewith are my replies to some of them. I hasten to say that the following are my own opinions and not necessarily those of the Diocese of San Bernardino, of which I am a part.” By Gregory Elder, Redlands Daily Facts

CHURCH FINANCES

Diocese releases audited financial statements
“In the continued practice of full transparency, the Diocese of Bridgeport has released its Consolidated Financial Statements for the Fiscal Year ending June 30, 2019… Hanlon (Michael Hanlon, CPA, chief financial officer of the diocese) said he was again pleased to learn that the diocese of Bridgeport ranked again near the top of a recently released Voice of the Faithful nationwide annual report on diocesan financial transparency(link is external) practices and policies. The VOTF study reviewed the financial transparency and accountability of 145 dioceses and 32 archdioceses by analyzing transparency practices and policies. On a scale of 0-100, the Diocese of Bridgeport received a score of 92 for its policies and disclosures toward financial transparency.” On BridgeportDiocese.org

Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo bankruptcy imminent
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo faces near certain bankruptcy after posting a $5 million loss in 2019(link is external), and with a barrage of lawsuits from the clergy misconduct scandal still pending, according to a financial report released Thursday (Jan. 30). ‘In response to the magnitude of the number of claims, lawsuits and alleged damages, the (Central Administrative Offices) has determined that a filing of a voluntary petition for reorganization under Chapter 11 of the Federal Bankruptcy Code is imminent,’ the diocese’s 2019 financial report said.” By Carolyn Thompson, Associated Press, in The Washington Times

Woman steals more than $250,000 from Del City Catholic church, police say
“An arrest warrant has been filed for a woman after police said she embezzled $253,000 from St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church(link is external) in Del City. According to police, personnel at the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City found discrepancies in the church’s payroll.The suspect, Darla Bralley, was an administrative assistant and bookkeeper at the church and, according to police, had been overpaying herself.”By Melissa Scavelli, FOX-TV25 News

CLERICALISM

Clericalism cited as root of sex abuse crisis
“In a Jan. 29 talk at Villanova University in Pennsylvania, Jesuit Fr. Hans Zollner said that clericalism is the root cause of the damage done to the church(link is external) and called out past systemic failure in reporting, punishing and stopping abuse. ‘There is general mistrust and suspicion on cardinals and bishops. This is not just happening in U.S. and Australia — the level of trust on bishops is below zero. And this has devastated an institution that is built on trust and faith,’ he said.” By Sarah Salvadore, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Germany’s synodal assembly draws praise, criticism from participants
“The first synodal assembly on the future of the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external) drew both praise and some criticism, with many of the 230 participants lauding what they called a special atmosphere in the debates on key reforms.Cardinal Reinhard Marx, president of the German bishops’ conference, said the spirit of the talks had been “positive and encouraging” and referred to the synodal path process as a “spiritual experiment,” reported the German Catholic news agency KNA.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

VOICES

‘Querida Amazonia’ shows how Francis is looking for deeper change
“Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation Querida Amazonia is a multifaceted document. I would like to look at what I found the most striking aspect of the text, its ecclesiological significance(link is external). Many NCR readers will be disappointed that the pope did not move forward on either ordaining viri probati to the priesthood, older deacons who could then preside at Eucharist and absolve sins in the sacrament of penance, or ordaining women deacons. Certainly, the final document of the Synod of Bishops for the Amazon last October invited him to address both these issues. Why didn’t he? I think the pope is looking for a deeper change.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

For healing, Catholic Church must open sexual-abuse scandal records
“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission model recently proposed for the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle offers a path of healing in the aftermath of the sexual-abuse scandal perpetrated by clergy and officials of the church(link is external). We are part of a much broader group of concerned Catholics, abuse survivors and current and former clergy who have been meeting the last year and a half in various parishes seeking accountability and healing.” By John McKay, Terrence Carroll and Colleen Kinerk, The Seattle Times

Time for the Buffalo Diocese to confess
“The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo faces many agonizing questions, two of which are how best to handle the tsunami of sexual abuse allegations against its priests and how to reclaim the support of parishioners who have stopped giving as a result of the revelations.Both factors are leading the church toward a decision to seek protectionin federal bankruptcy court. Both factors also share a solution: Don’t hide(link is external).” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Catholic Church’s handling of abuse cases betrays core values
“I applaud California Attorney General Xavier Becerra for his decision to investigate the Catholic Church in California (State opens investigation into San Jose, Oakland Dioceses’ handling of sex abuse allegations). I am a clergy abuse survivor and still a practicing Catholic, but I have been fighting for this type of investigation for more than 20 years(link is external).As a child, I suffered abuse at the hands of Father Joseph Pritchard, formerly of Saint Martin of Tours Parish. My case was first reported to the San Jose diocese by Monsignor Michael McKiernan in 2000.” By John Salberg, The Mercury News

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Senate passes bill extending sex crimes statute of limitations
“A bill that would have done away with the statute of limitations for certain child sex abuse crimes is making headway in the 2020(link is external) Indiana General Assembly. But some advocates are disappointed in how the bill has panned out. Indiana Senate Bill 109, proposed by Sen. Michael Crider, R-Greenfield, initially aimed to extend the amount of time survivors have to bring criminal charges against their abusers. Under current state law, Hoosiers who were sexually abused as children have until age 31 to criminally prosecute those who harmed them.” By Katie Stancombe, The Indiana Lawyer

Lawmakers seek to close gap in statute of limitations for sex crimes against children
“Lawmakers are trying to pass a bill that would close a gap in the statute of limitations for sex crimes against children(link is external).According to the current law, cases must be brought to a judge within six years if the victim is between the ages of 13 and 17. There is no time limit for a case to be prosecuted if the child is under the age of 13. ‘I feel really bad for the victims. I feel bad that we would set a time limit, a timer, on those crimes at all,’ said Sen. Jeff Steinborn (D-Doña Ana).”By Ryan Laughlin, KOB-TV4 News

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

The survival of David Clohessy
“On June 13, 2002, David Clohessy stepped into the light of history. A former altar boy in a rural Catholic church in Moberly, Missouri, he stood at a podium in a massive hotel ballroom in Dallas — and staring back at him from row up upon row of tables, packed into the room ten-deep, were some 280 Catholic bishops. Many in that audience were already familiar with Clohessy as the national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests(link is external), or SNAP, the country’s longest-active support group for victims of clergy abuse. Clohessy had spent years trying to grab the bishops’ attention.” By Danny Wicentowski, Riverfront Times

Victim-survivor says affirmation, sharing his story a pathway to healing
“Michael Callaghan’s healing from clergy sexual abuse(link is external) took a big step forward after he saw the movie ‘Spotlight’ in 2015. The Academy Award-winning fact-based drama detailing the clerical abuse scandal in Boston moved Callaghan deeply and continues to drive him to help the healing process in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.” By Catholic News Service in Catholic Sentinel

Church damaged by abuse, ‘but more damage done to people,’ says abuse expert
“Almost 200 people filled the Driscoll Hall Auditorium on Villanova University’s campus Jan. 29 looking to deepen their understanding about global perspectives on the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church(link is external). The evening event was the third conference in the four-part series of discussions … It featured Jesuit Father Hans Zollner, a licensed German psychologist and psychotherapist with a doctorate in theology and one of the church’s leading experts in the area of safeguarding minors … ‘Much damage has been done to the church’ due to clergy sexual abuse, said Zollner, ‘but more damage has been done to human beings.’” By Gia Myers, Cruxnow.com

Lawmakers push for extension of Child Victims Act window
“More than 1,300 civil suits have been filed since the one-year look-back window for the Child Victim’s Act took effect last August. Now, there is a push in Albany to extend the window for another year(link is external).The current look-back window for victims to file civil claims on old cases expires on August 14. That means as of that date, past instances of sexual abuse against a minor cannot have any civil litigation, unless it is within the statute of limitations. New instances of abuse can have civil suits brought up to the age of 55.”By Mike Baggerman, WREN-AM

Most Utahns, LDS or otherwise, support a clergy confession bill
“No matter their faith affiliation, Utahns overwhelmingly support legislation that would require clergy to report child abuse — even if the information is divulged during a religious confession(link is external), a new poll shows.Most Catholics, Protestants and members of the state’s predominant faith, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, back a full-reporting requirement, according to a Salt Lake Tribune survey conducted by Suffolk University.”By Kathy Stephenson, The Salt Lake Tribune

ALASKA

Sex abuse victims’ advocates call Anchorage Archdiocese’s report too little, too late
“None of the Catholic priests reported to have been involved in sexual misconduct in a 50-year review of records released last month by the Anchorage Archdiocese was ever convicted of a crime. There is also no indication the report has prompted any new criminal investigations(link is external) since its release. The report, made public Jan. 16, is based on an independent commission’s review of the church’s records. It lists 14 employees of the Anchorage Archdiocese, 13 of whom it says engaged in sexual misconduct with minors or vulnerable adults and one who was caught viewing child pornography.” By Casey Grove, Alaska Public Media

CALIFORNIA

After suspending priest, Fresno Catholic diocese is sued over his 2002 abuse case
“A now-suspended priest in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno is the subject of a new lawsuit centering on allegations of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl(link is external) in the early 2000s. Los Angeles attorney Paul Mones filed a lawsuit against the Diocese and two of its churches alleging they were negligent in supervising Father Miguel Flores and failing to warn about his potential actions, given prior knowledge.” By Alex Tavlian, The Sun

East Bay priest asked to leave school as police investigate sex-misconduct claims
“A priest already removed from an Alameda County parish and at the center of an investigation by Alameda police over possible sexual misconduct(link is external) will no longer be allowed to live at a Pleasant Hill rectory, according to police and officials with the Catholic Diocese of Oakland.Rev. George Alengadan had been staying at Christ the King Catholic School in Pleasant Hill since first leaving St. Joseph Basilica in Alameda in December. He was removed from that parish after Alameda police opened an investigation into him regarding possible sexual misconduct.”By Rick Hurd, East Bay Times

Man alleging molestation by a priest says Diocese of Orange officials tried to intimidate him
“A man who has alleged in a lawsuit against the Diocese of Orange that he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest when he was 6 years old(link is external) in 1994 said Monday (Feb. 3) that Diocese officials have attempted to ‘intimidate’ him.Last week, a judge cleared the way for the public identification of the priest, Father Edward Poettgen, who was most recently assigned to St. Boniface Catholic Church in Anaheim. The man suing him held a news conference Monday from the offices of his attorneys to say the Diocese has treated him ‘like an enemy of the church.’”By The Orange County Register

L.A. Archdiocese settles priest abuse case for $1.9 million
“The kids in the parish knew him only as Father Larry.That’s how he was known to one boy, referred to in court documents as John BR Doe, while he was an altar boy at San Gabriel Mission Church in 1982-84, years during which the priest sexually abused him(link is external), he said, from ages 9 to 11.As a teen, Doe told church officials what he’d suffered. Years later, he would learn that Father Larry — Lawrence Lovell — had been convicted of child molestation in 2003and sentenced to 14 years in prison. And he would find a redacted version of his own account on the internet, detailing the abuse he said Lovell enacted when he was a child.” By Colleen Shalby, Los Angeles Times

COLORADO

Colorado’s Catholic priest abuse reparations program received 78 claims, has already paid out more than $1 million
“Colorado’s reparations program for people abused by Catholic priests when they were children has already paid out more than $1 million to nine of the 78 people(link is external) who submitted claims by Friday’s (Jan. 31) filing deadline.Another $500,000 in payments are due to four other victims and more than 60 cases still are being reviewed, said Camille Biros, one of the independent administrators of the reparations program.”By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

In Colorado, some Catholic clergy sexual abuse victims are excluded from reparations
“Terry Schippers has been trying to come to terms with the years of sexual abuse he allegedly experienced by a Catholic friar(link is external). Colorado’s Catholic Church has a reparations fund for abuse victims but Schippers is ineligible for compensation.Andrew Kenney of Colorado Public Radio reports.”By Andrew Kenney, Colorado Public Radio

ILLINOIS

Sexual abuse reports from Illinois’ Catholic dioceses are still missing a log of data
“While researching a bit of context to introduce this week’s newsletter, I came across a column from May 2019 written by Chicago Sun-Times journalist Laura Washington. In it, she writes about the horror she felt as she sat in the pews of her church earlier that year while a representative of the Archdiocese of Chicagoinformed the congregation that its ‘beloved pastor’ had been accused of sexually abusing a minor in 1979(link is external), when he was at another parish.”By Logan Jaffe, Pro Publica Illinois

Former Texas priest charged with sexually assaulting child arrested at St. Louis-area Catholic Facility
“A former Dallas-area priest charged with sexually assaulting a child(link is external) was arrested Wednesday (Jan. 29) at a Catholic facility here housing disgraced clergy, including those accused of sexual abuse.Missouri and Dallas authorities confirmed the arrest Wednesday of Richard Thomas Brown, 78, on \ a warrant issued Tuesday by Dallas police on a charge of aggravated sexual assault of a child in North Texas in 1989.”By NassimBenchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

MICHIGAN

Catholic priest from Burton, Flushing parishes heading to trial on sex charges
“A former Catholic priest is facing trial on sex charges dating back to his work at parishes in Burton and Flushing in the 1980s to 2000s. Vincent DeLorenzo is facing three counts of first-degree and three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct(link is external) from 1995 to 2000 in one case and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct from 1987 in the second case.” By WJRT-Tv12 News

MINNESOTA

Crookston bishop faces further investigation, loses authority to handle sex abuse allegations
“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has been cleared by Catholic Church leadership to continue its probe into the Crookston bishop’s alleged cover-ups of clerical sexual abuse(link is external). The Congregation for Bishops in Rome authorized Archbishop Bernard Hebda to proceed with further investigation into Bishop Michael Hoeppner, who has been under investigation since September, according to a Tuesday, Feb. 4, statement from the Catholic Diocese of Crookston.” By Alex Derosier, West Central Tribune

Victim-survivor says ‘ripple effects’ of clergy sex abuse ‘go on and on’
“For Frank Meuers, a victim-survivor of clergy sexual abuse, the impact is far-reaching and never-ending(link is external). ‘It’s like a stone in a pond,’ he said, ‘the hole disappears, but the ripple effects go on and on.’ The director of the southwest Minnesota chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, Meuers described the anger he lived with for years — and the help he received through therapy.”By Joe Ruff, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

NEW JERSEY

‘Light at the end of the tunnel’: major deadline looms for victims of clergy abuse in New Jersey
“A big deadline is looming for victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey. Acompensation fund for victims of sexual abuse is about to close down its registration(link is external), making it one less option for victims seeking justice. ‘This priest came into my life, he was stationed in our parish,” Mark Crawford said.For most of Crawford’s teenage years, he was manipulated and sexually abused by a Catholic priest.” By Cleve Bryan, CBS-TV3 News

NEW MEXICO

Ex-Catholic priest acquitted of abuse charges in New Mexico
“A jury has acquitted a former priest(link is external) of charges he sexually abused a first-grade student more than 30 years ago. Marvin Archuleta, 82, was cleared of both charges including criminal sexual penetration of a child under 13 and attempting to commit kidnapping.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK

Ex-FBI director to probe sex abuse claims against Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio
“The New York Archdiocese has hired former FBI Director Louis Freeh to probe sex abuse allegations against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, according to a new report.

DiMarzio, 75, is accused of repeatedly molesting Mark Matzek when he was an altar boy and student at St. Nicholas Church and School in Jersey City in the 1970s, according to Matzek’s lawyer, Mitchell Garabedian.” By Sara Dorn, New York Post

Albany-area priest on administrative leave following allegations
“Albany Roman Catholic Diocese Bishop Edward Scharfenberger said Saturday (Feb. 8) he has placed a priest who retired from active ministry in 2008 on administrative leave following allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external) in the 1960s and 70s.” By Rick Karlin, Albany Times Union

Syracuse Diocese reinstates priest accused of abuse after review
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse has reinstated a priest who was accused of sexually abusing a boy in the early 1980s(link is external). Rev. Paul Angelicchio went on voluntary leave in November while a diocese review board investigated the person’s allegation of abuse.” By Patrick Lohmann on Syracuse.com

OHIO

Toledo Diocese quietly updates accused clergy list, includes new name
“The Diocese of Toledo quietly updated its list last year of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external) amid calls for transparency in a rekindled sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.The update included a new name: Paul Knapp, a religious order priest who served as the associate pastor of St. Gerard Parish in Lima, Ohio, between 1981 and 1983.” By Nicki Gorny, The Blade

OKLAHOMA

Catholic Church is in a tough position in confronting a use scandal
“…More than 33 years later, I told Nan the stunning news: The retired Leven had been suspended from the priesthood because an Archdiocesan investigation found two ‘substantiated’ allegations of abuse against minors(link is external).My mind raced …”By Joe Hight, The Journal Record

PENNSYLVANIA

Clergy sex abuse class action lawsuit against Pittsburgh diocese seeks to add Greensburg, others
“Lawyers in a class action suit trying to force the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh to open its clergy abuse archives(link is external) expanded their campaign to include the Greensburg, Harrisburg and Altoona-Johnstown dioceses as well as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. The move comes one month after Allegheny County Common Pleas Court Judge Christine Ward ruled the lawsuit could move forward with regard to the Pittsburgh diocese.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Retired priest, 89, sentenced for sexual assault of boy
“Following an emotional hearing, a judge on Thursday (Feb. 6) sentenced a retired Catholic priest to a jail term of nine to nearly 24 months over his conviction last year for sexually assaulting an 11-year-old boy(link is external) in 2001. But the priest walked free for at least another month due to a last-minute legal plot twist, complicated by a sudden turnover in two of the key players in his November trial, his own defense lawyer and the judge.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

In Philly, $39 million in clergy-abuse payouts so far – about $215,000 per damaged life
“At first, the number seems huge: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has paid out nearly $39 million to 181 sexual-abuse victims through the compensation fund it opened last year. Wow, you might think to yourself. Finally, the institution whose leaders allowed generations of children to be destroyed by the sexual depravity of countless priests while bishops and monsignors helped cover it up, is paying up from the treasury it so immorally had fought to protect. But don’t be fooled(link is external). This is a mammoth number only when you consider how difficult victims have found securing just compensation in one of the nation’s largest Catholic dioceses thanks to resistance by the church itself. Accountability has arrived, yes. But at discount rates.” By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer

New report shows church response to abuse remains inconsistent, insufficient
“Many Roman Catholic dioceses are now releasing the names of priests who have had credible allegations of child sexual abuse brought against them.That’s the good news.The bad news is that those lists are often ‘inconsistent, incomplete and omit key details(link is external),’ according to a report out this week from ProPublica, a nonprofit watchdog news agency, and the Houston Chronicle.” By Chip Minemyer, The Tribune-Democrat

RHODE ISLAND

Attorney general to release report on clergy abuse claims
“Rhode Island’s attorney general said Feb.6 he expects to release a public report later this year with findings from his review of allegations of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clerics(link is external) in the state. Democrat Peter Neronha continues to review the allegations to figure out what happened, what the response was and whether anyone can be held responsible in Rhode Island, one of the most heavily Catholic states. ” By Jennifer McDermott, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

SOUTH DAKOTA

House bill removes statute of limitations that could revive sex abuse claims
“South Dakota lawmakers will hear a bill that strips the statute of limitations for adults who bring lawsuits on sexual abuse they experienced as children(link is external). Similar bills have failed in the past. It’s been 10 years since state lawmakers placed a statute of limitations on child sex crimes. It says anyone over the age of forty can only recover damages from any person or entity that perpetrated the sexual abuse act. Since then, one group of Native women has been trying to overturn that statute of limitations. They are trying again this year.” By Lee Strubinger, South Dakota Public Radio

TEXAS

Lawsuit says Dallas diocese did not protect young girl from priest’s abuse
“Richard Thomas Brown, who in the 1980s was assigned as an assistant pastor at Holy Family of Nazareth in Irving, repeatedly sexually assaulted an 8-year-old girl from the parish(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed Thursday (JaSn. 30).One day, Brown took the girl out of Sunday school class and molested her in the rectory – the priest’s residence, where most of the assaults took place, according to the lawsuit.” By Cavid Tarrant, The Dallas Morning News

State of Texas: the accused one year later
“Texas’ 15 Catholic dioceses released names of 286 clergy — priests, deacons and brothers — credibly accused of child sex abuse(link is external) one year ago Friday (Feb. 1). Our extensive analysis of Catholic directories obtained through a source found that there are at least 332 Catholic clergy members, mostly priests, accused of child sex abuse in Texas.That’s almost 50 more names than what was publicly released in 2019. Moreover, the church’s list was incomplete, with some clergy members still being shuffled within the church.”By Anthony Cave, KXAN-TV News

People continue to ask Texas AG’s office to investigate clergy sexual abuse
“Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s office is being pressed by citizens to investigate clergy sexual abuse, although his office has said it cannot began an examination on its own,KXAN reported.The TV station’s open records request shows that a dozen people have asked the AG’s office to launch an investigation since Catholic dioceses across the state released lists on Jan. 31, 2019, of priests accused of abuse.”By The Texas Monitor Staff

WASHINGTON

Longtime Seattle police victim advocate was accused of child sex abuse while he was a priest
Before Garry Boulden was a victim advocate with the Seattle Police Department — guiding victims and their families through the aftermath of tragedies — he was a Catholic priest in Spokane, where he was accused of molesting a child(link is external) … Boulden is one of thousands of clergy members on dioceses’ lists across the country — that number includes 81 on Seattle’s, 30 on Spokane’s and 21 on Yakima’s — many of whom were never criminally prosecuted. An Associated Press investigation last year found that hundreds are working with vulnerable groups like children and sexual-assault survivors.” By Asia Fields, The Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

Diocese of La Crosse releases names of accused clergy
“Another Catholic Diocese in Wisconsin has released the names of clergy facing substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). The list includes 25 clergies, nine of which at one point, served at a parish in Stevens Point … The Diocese of La Crosse, which serves nearly 200,000 Catholics and includes Portage County, released the public list on Jan. 18. The Diocese of La Crosse states that an allegation is deemed to be substantiated “if it has been sufficiently confirmed so as to believe that abuse occurred,” meaning, allegations on the list are not derived through a legal process.” By Nathan Dorn, The Pointer, University of Wisconsin

AUSTRALIA

National Redress Scheme: Sex abuse survivors say victims are dying before receiving compensation
“It has been more than 18 months since the National Redress Scheme was introduced as a way of compensating survivors of clergy child abuse. But those who were supposed to benefit from it have labelled it ‘appalling(link is external)’ with some saying that many people are dying before receiving any compensation. Roy Janetzki, 74, said he spent his teenage years in four orphanages, where he endured physical, mental, and sexual abuse at the hands of four clergymen, including Catholic priests and brothers.” By Samantha Dawes, ABC Riverland

Catholic Church continues to silence alleged victims of child sexual abuse
“A Catholic priest from the Lismore diocese in Northern New South Wales is fighting the church over sexual abuse he allegedly suffered as a 12-year old altar boy.The case is believed to be the first involving a priest suing the church for historical child sexual abuse.The Catholic Church is seeking a permanent stay to stop proceedings being brought against it … But many see this as just another attempt by the Church to silence a complainant(link is external) so that details of the alleged incidents are never heard, at a time the institution claims to be working towards transparency andaccountability, and doing right by those it has wronged.”By SydneyCriminalLawyers.com

CANADA

#MenToo gains support in Ontario where male sexual
“There’s a growing trend in Ontario.Men are speaking out about the sexual abuse they have suffered and demanding resources, or setting up their own groups, to access support.”We call it the MenToo movement,” said Bob McCabe, a survivor of sexual abuse at the hands of a priest(link is external).The abuse started in 1963 when McCabe was 11. He didn’t tell anyone about it for 29 years, when he finally told his mother. It took another two decades for McCabe to speak out publicly and take legal action against his perpetrator.” By Kerry McKee, CBC News

CHILE

Pope Francis fills two episcopal vacancies in Chile left by sex abuse scandal
“Pope Francis on Wednesday (Feb. 5) appointed bishops to the dioceses of Osorno and San Bartolomé de Chillán, both of which had been left vacant in 2018 amid the sex abuse scandal of the Church in Chile(link is external). On Feb. 5 Bishop Jorge Enrique Concha Cayuqueo was named Bishop of Osorno, and Father Sergio Hernán Pérez de Arce Arriagada, was named Bishop of San Bartolomé de Chillán. Both had been serving as apostolic administrators of their new respective sees.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Audit of Scottish dioceses says safeguarding vision ‘has yet to be fully realized’
“An audit of the safeguarding standards of the Archdiocese of St. Andrews and Edinburgh found it had ‘clearer and more transparent structures and processes,’ but noted more work is needed in ‘rebuilding trust(link is external).’ The audit was commissioned from the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE)/Children in Scotland (CiS) by the Catholic Church in Scotland with the aim of supporting safeguarding improvements.”By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

POLAND

Broken icons: abuse in Poland’s Catholic Church
“The toppling of Jankowski (’sstatue) was a step towards forcing the government and clergy to reckon with the problem of child abuse in the Church(link is external). But what really forced everyone to take notice was the 2019 documentary Tell No One. The film shows victims who are now adults confronting elderly priests about the abuse they suffered decades earlier, and details how priests accused of paedophilia were transferred to other parishes where they could continue working with children.”By Madeline Roache, NewHumanist.org.uk

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In ‘Querida Amazonia,’ Francis’ sacramental imagination stops short of women / National Catholic Reporter

“How much disappointment and outrage would have erupted if the pope had moved forward with ordaining married men, but his retrograde words about women remained the same?” (National Catholic Reporter)

Perhaps no one was less surprised last week than I was when Pope Francis’ Querida Amazonia showed no openness to a female diaconate, and instead was laden with the language of gender complementarity in its discussion of women.

“For years I have used this column to document Francis’ beliefs about women and to plead with readers to be honest about how his thinking would seriously limit the possibilities of real change for women in the church. Beginning with his description of feminism as “chauvinism with skirts” early in his papacy in 2013 through his 2019 dithering on women deacons, I wrote on this topic at least 20 times in the last seven years.

“I did this not to sound like a broken record — though I most certainly did — but rather to spare myself and my fellow churchwomen from the heartbreak that I knew would come. Unless Francis moved beyond the theology of complementarity, women would never receive the justice they deserve from their church, an institution that they serve, sacrifice for, and very often sustain singlehandedly. The pope, unfortunately, never showed any signs of budging.

By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Pope Francis sets aside proposal on married priests / The New York Times

In his letter, which took the form of a 94-page booklet and has the power of church teaching, Francis notably made no mention of ordaining married men in good standing or elevating to the priesthood married deacons, a lower clerical rank that does not require celibacy. The silence amounted to a pocket veto of the proposal. (The New York Times)

Pope Francis has for now rejected a landmark proposal by bishops to allow the ordination of married men in remote areas, a potentially momentous change that conservatives had warned would set the Roman Catholic Church on a slippery slope toward lifting priestly celibacy and weakening church traditions.

“Francis’ decision, in a papal letter made public on Wednesday (Feb. 12), surprised many given the openness he had displayed on the subject and his frequently expressed desire for a more collegial and less top-down church.

“It disappointed supporters of Francis who had hoped for more revolutionary change. Coming seven years into his papacy, it also raised the question of whether Francis’ promotion of discussing once-taboo issues is resulting in a pontificate that is largely talk.

“His closest advisers have already acknowledged that the pope’s impact has waned on the global stage, especially on core issues like immigration and the environment. His legacy, they have said, will be inside the church, where his authority is absolute.”

By Jason Horowitz and Elisabetta Pololedo, The New York Times — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 31, 2020

TOP STORIES

New database of abusive clergy will ‘put pressure’ on bishops to improve transparency
“A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week(link is external), marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts. The database, which was activated on Monday (Jan. 27), was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, ‘a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.’ The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.” By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

Vatican orders sex abuse investigation of Brooklyn bishop
“The Vatican has ordered an investigation of a sexual abuse allegation against Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio(link is external), who was previously named by Pope Francis to investigate the church’s response to clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo. Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York received instructions on Jan. 7 to begin an investigation of allegations that DiMarzio molested a child while he was a parish priest in New Jersey in the mid-1970s, according to a statement released over the weekend (Jan. 18) by Dolan’s spokesman Joseph Zwilling.” By Associated Press

10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis
“The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them(link is external). ‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three. ‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.” By Maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Rome summit to examine clerical sex abuse
“Rome is to host a summit examining how the clerical sexual abuse crisis is forcing the Church to go back to its core mission and re-think its model of the priesthood(link is external). The gathering of around 90 theologians from across the world, hosted by the Centre for Child Protection at the Pontifical Gregorian University, will look at the ecclesiological impact of abuse, in a way that is not simply legal, or procedural. The 11-14 March meeting is to look clericalism, ecclesial reform and rediscovering the mission of Jesus in Church structures.” By Christopher Lamb, The tablet

Appeals court acquits French cardinal of sex abuse cover-up
“A French appeals court on Thursday (Jan. 30) acquitted a French cardinal of covering up the sexual abuse of minors in his flock(link is external). The appeals court in the southeastern French city of Lyon gave no explanation on Thursday for its ruling. Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, archbishop of Lyon, had been convicted in March and given a six-month suspended sentence for failing to report a predator priest to police. But Pope Francis refused to accept the cardinal’s decision to resign until the appeals process is complete.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Catholic leaders promised transparency about child abuse. They haven’t delivered
“Over the last year and a half, the majority of U.S. dioceses, as well as nearly two dozen religious orders, have released lists of abusers currently or formerly in their ranks. The revelations were no coincidence: They were spurred by a 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report, which named hundreds of priests as part of a statewide clergy abuse investigation. Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests. But even as bishops have dedicated these lists to abuse victims and depicted the disclosures as a public acknowledgement of victims’ suffering, it has become clear that numerous alleged abusers have been omitted and that there is no standard for determining who each diocese considers credibly accused(link is external).” By Lexi Churchill, Ellis Simani and Topher Sanders, Pro Publica

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis remakes the American hierarchy, one bishop at a time
“As archbishop of Philadelphia, Charles Chaput was not afraid to take a different line from the pope on issues facing the church. In 2016, after Pope Francis opened the possibility of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics, Chaput added a stipulation: In his diocese, such couples who wanted to receive the Eucharist would have to abstain from sex … A Catholic bishop, even one who disagrees with a new pope, cannot just be fired and replaced. The pope must wait until the bishop reaches retirement at 75 years of age before appointing a successor. But if change is slow, the direction is clear, and Francis, like popes before him, is slowly filling the American hierarchy with bishops who reflect his values and priorities(link is external).” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

Pope Francis replaces conservative archbishop of Philadelphia
“Pope Francis sought to shift the ideological balance of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States on Thursday, replacing one of his most prominent conservative critics as the archbishop of Philadelphia(link is external). Pope Francis announced in a statement that Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia was retiring, and that Bishop Nelson J. Perez of Cleveland, a former Philadelphian and relative newcomer to the national scene, would assume the role.” By Jason Horowitz and Elizabeth Dias, The New York Times

CARA study finds bishops are satisfied with their life and ministry
“Catholics may be surprised to learn that many U.S. bishops describe their lives as both all-consuming and satisfying, a priest-researcher said(link is external). ‘These are guys who generally get up very, very early in the morning, pray about two hours every day and work about 10 hours a day,’ Father Stephen Fichter, a research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate in Washington, which conducted the survey. ‘(They) just really do some interesting things and there are a lot of difficulties that they’re dealing with all the time.’” By Susan Klemond, Catholic News Service, The Pilot

PRIESTS

Priests in group shut down by Vatican accused of sex abuse
“Nine priests and brothers of a Catholic group recently shut down by the Vatican are under investigation by Italian authorities for allegedly sexually abusing two brothers(link is external), officials and news reports said Wednesday (Jan. 29). Prato Bishop Giovanni Nerbini confirmed that Prato criminal prosecutors had opened an investigation after he reported the case to police against members of the Disciples of the Annunciation community. He pledged the church’s cooperation with the investigation.” By Associated Press in The New York Times

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

Vatican women’s magazine blames drip in nuns on abuses
“The Vatican women’s magazine is blaming the drastic drop in the number of nuns worldwide in part on their wretched working conditions and the sexual abuse and abuses of power(link is external) they suffer at the hands of priests and their own superiors. Women Church World dedicated its February issue to the burnout, trauma and exploitation experienced by religious sisters and how the church is realizing it must change its ways if it wants to attract new vocations.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in The Salt Lake Tribune

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Woman’s place at Pope Francis’ right hand
“Pope Francis opened 2020 with a strong call to acknowledge the dignity of women, end violence against them and stop the exploitation of women’s bodies(link is external). His homily on January 1 was not generic: it referenced prostitution, rape, coerced abortion, pornography and even advertising. The Pope called for the involvement of women in decision-making processes in civil society, specifically when it comes to promoting peace.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in Scottish Catholic Observer

CHURCH FINANCES

Priest sued over church’s missing $500,000
“The Church has launched legal action against a priest accused of stealing almost $500,000 from his Perth parish(link is external) as it seeks to recoup the missing money. Fr Joe Walsh, who led the parish of Subiaco in Perth’s western suburbs, was charged by police last year with stealing and is due to appear in court tomorrow to determine a date for his criminal trial. Documents filed in the West Australian Supreme Court show the Perth Archdiocese was seeking details of amounts held by Fr Walsh in four NAB accounts and a term deposit, as well as money tied up in Perth-based property investment group Primewest.” Paul Garvey, The Australian, on CathNews.com

Dioceses come under scrutiny as they change legal structures
“As dioceses across the country continue to face multi-million dollar payouts related to clerical sex abuse, some bishops have relied on advice from lawyers to reconfigure the property of their dioceses into charitable trusts(link is external). The practice – which has been implemented by several dioceses after the clerical sex abuse revelations of the early 2000s – creates significantly different outcomes for dioceses and abuse victims in the case of bankruptcies.” By Jack Lyons, Cruxnow.com

Vatican rejoins financial intelligence network after raid
“A global network of financial intelligence units has readmitted the Holy See after a two-month suspension(link is external) sparked by a Vatican police raid on the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency. The Holy See said Thursday (Jan. 23) that the Egmont Group had revoked its suspension after Vatican prosecutors signed a memorandum of understanding about the treatment of confidential documents that were seized in the raid.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

Sex and the (Vatican) City: a brief history of clerical celibacy
“In a scene that wouldn’t be amiss in Netflix’s The Two Popes, a standoff between the current Pope Francis and his predecessor, Benedict XVI, is playing out across the world. The pontifical sticking point is the sexual relations of priests(link is external) – or, lack thereof. In his forthcoming book, From the Depths of Our Hearts, the Pope Emeritus and his co-author, Cardinal Robert Sarah, issue a warning against relaxing the rules on Catholic priesthood as the rainforest runs dry of priests in some remote South American areas.” By History Extra

Cardinal at center of two popes storm doubles down on celibacy
“A Vatican cardinal at the center of a storm over a book about celibacy and the Catholic priesthood is denouncing the ‘brutality’ of criticism directed at him and hiSs collaborator, Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI. In an interview with Italian daily newspaper Il Foglio published Saturday (Jan. 25), Cardinal Robert Sarah doubled down on his argument in the book, ‘From the Depths of Our Hearts,’ that the Catholic priesthood is incompatible with marriage(link is external).” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Roman Catholic priests have been celibate for a thousand years – but this could change
“For almost a thousand years, Roman Catholic priests have been required to be celibate. But this age-old practice is now under fire(link is external), with the suggestion that the rules should be relaxed for the Latin American Catholic church. In response to such rumblings, a new book sets out a vigorous defense of priestly celibacy against the ‘fashionable errors’ of its detractors. The book is particularly notable for being described as co-authored by Cardinal Robert Sarah and the former pope, Benedict XVI, who since his resignation in 2013 has avoided public intervention in the time of his successor, Pope Francis.” By Helen Parish, The Conversation

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Germany’s synodal assembly a step to rebuilding church’s credibility
“Catholic leaders in Germany have compiled responses from lay Catholics in areas related to who holds power in the church, sexual morals, the role of priests and the place of women in church offices in preparation for an upcoming synodal assembly(link is external) to debate church reforms. More than 940 suggestions and questions had been submitted by early January in advance of the Jan. 30-Feb. 1 assembly in Frankfurt, reported KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service

As Dutch parishes close, some Catholics just quit going to church
“A Dutch Catholic newspaper warned churches will continue to close in the Netherlands, where half of all Catholic parishes have already been dissolved amid plummeting church participation(link is external). ‘It’s never good to panic, but there are grave concerns about the way things are going here,’ said Peter Doorakkers, an editor at the Katholiek Nieuwsblad weekly. ‘It’s been hoped people would draw the obvious conclusion — that if you want your church to stay open, you don’t just need to support it financially, you also have to attend it more. But if you look at the numbers at Mass now and average ages, it’s obvious more churches will close in the near future.’” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

VOICES

Editorial: Dolan investigating DiMarzio points up flaws in ‘Vos Estis’
“We have long held unabashed admiration for Pope Francis. But events keep raising issues about the shortcomings of Vos Estis Lux Mundi, his signature intervention to address the church’s sex abuse crisis(link is external). Latest case in point: According to press reports and statements from the dioceses involved, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, under Vos Estis provisions, is investigating Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio, his neighbor across the East River. DiMarzio has been publicly accused of sexual abuse of a minor dating back 45 years to a parish in Jersey City, when he was a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey … Our problem is with making Dolan responsible for leading an inquiry.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Pope Francis put a woman in a top Vatican role. It shows how little power Catholic women hold.
“Recently, the Catholic Church took two small steps for womankind: This month, Pope Francis named the first woman to a managerial position in the Vatican’s most important office, the Secretariat of State. And in October, the world’s bishops suggested that Francis reconvene a commission he had created, at the urging of nuns, to study the ordination of women as permanent deacons … Yet these reforms only make clear how little power women hold in the church(link is external), where they constitute about half of Catholicism’s 1.2 billion adherents.” By Celia Viggo Wexler, NBC News

Requiring clergy to report abuse is a thorny issue, but protecting kids makes it worth it
“Rep. Angela Romero’s inbox has been a busy, hostile place for a few weeks. Since the Catholic League issued a call to action to its members about a week ago, Romero estimates she has received somewhere between 400 and 600 emails. A sampling: ‘You are doing the work of Satan and will not prevail.’ ‘Disgusting anti-Christian politicians like you … attack Christianity relentlessly.’ It goes on from there. She incurred the unholy wrath by sponsoring legislation that would require members of the clergy to notify law enforcement when they receive information about child abuse or neglect— even if it happens in a religious confession(link is external).” By Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune

Why do child sex abuse victims in Missouri have only 10 years to file civil lawsuits?
“An outdated Missouri law limits civil claims arising from sexual abuse offenses committed against children to a 10-year window(link is external). House Bill 1411 would finally lift the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in child sexual abuse cases. The measure, which is sponsored by state Rep. Sheila Solon, a St. Joseph Republican, is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday (Jan. 21). In 2018, Missouri lawmakers removed the statute of limitations for criminal child sex abuse offenses. Just as a time limit for criminal charges was misguided, so, too, is imposing an expiration date limiting survivors’ ability to seek justice through civil lawsuits.” By The Kansas City Star Editorial Board

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Theologians to examine Church response to abuse
“The Center for Child Protection at Gregorian University in Rome and Catholic Theological Ethics in the World Church, an international network of moral theologians, will host the March 11-14 theological ‘laboratory.’ The organizers, including professors James Keenan SJ from Boston College and Hans Zollner SJ from the Centre for Child Protection, have invited more than 70 ecclesiologists and ethicists. The meeting has been called a ‘laboratory’ to emphasize active engagement of all participants in advancing theological thought, reflection and leadership in response to the crisis(link is external), with a view to supporting the global Church in its response.” By CathNews.com

ALASKA

Archdiocese commission accuses 14 Southcentral Alaska clergy and church employees of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Anchorage for the first time has named 14 Southcentral Catholic clergy members accused by church investigators of sexually abusing children and vulnerable adults(link is external). The report released Thursday (Jan. 23) is the result of a 15-month investigation by an independent church commission into allegations of sexual abuse by clergy, church employees and volunteers over a 54-year period.” By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News

CALIFORNIA

Anaheim priest named in lawsuit alleging sexual abuse
“A judge today (Jan. 29) cleared the way for the public identification of a Roman Catholic priest named in a lawsuit alleging he molested a 6-year-old boy(link is external) at a Catholic school in Stanton in 1994. Father Edward Poettgen had previously been listed anonymously in the lawsuit filed in June. An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled today that the plaintiff could publicly identify the priest.” By KFIAM640.com

First Catholic diocese child sex abuse case settled since passing of new law
“A California Catholic Diocese on Tuesday (Jan. 28) settled the first child sexual abuse case since the passing of the Child Victims Act(link is external) back in September 2019. Attorneys representing Richard Barrios, 47, allegedly abused as a child by convicted pedophile priest Lawrence Lovell, announced a $1.9 million settlement with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, Lawrence Lovell and the Claretian Missionaries. In the lawsuit, Barrios alleged that he was sexually abused by Father Lawrence Lovell throughout a two-year period from 1982 through 1984 when the victim was 9 to 11 years old.” By 23ABC Digital Staff

COLORADO

Even if Colorado gives child sex assault victims unlimited time to sue, it may be too late for those already abused
“Colorado lawmakers plan to bring legislation this year that would give child sexual assault victims unlimited time to sue their abusers and the institutions that protect the predators(link is external). But for people abused in the past—including the more than 150 victims of Catholic priests identified in a recently released report on sexual misconduct in Colorado — the change may be coming too late.” By Jesse Paul, The Colorado Sun

FLORIDA

Priest child sex abuse laws continue to change in Florida
“At a 2018 press conference, then Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi announced a statewide investigation into child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic priests(link is external) saying, ‘Any priest that would exploit a position of power and trust to abuse a child is a disgrace to the Church and a threat to society,’ Shortly before the investigation was announced 15 victims had already contacted authorities. Now after more than a year victims are continuing to come forward yet the state has been tight lipped about the number of tips reported through the statewide hotline.” By Joseph H. Saunders, The Legal Examiner

LOUISIANA

One year after releasing names of abusive priests, Baton Rouge Diocese adds two more
“At the one-year anniversary of releasing a list of clergymen credibly accused of abuse, the Catholic Diocese of Baton Rouge has added two more priests who served in Ponchatoula to their list of those with credible claims against them(link is external). Diocesan officials announced Wednesday morning that they were adding two priests from religious orders who served in the diocese to their list, which has grown since its initial release a year ago. The additions of the Rev. Richard Raphael Archer, a Dominican friar, and Rev. Lawrence Dark, a Congregation of the Holy Cross priest, bring the total of Catholic clergy members who worked in and around Baton Rouge and were credibly accused of abuse to 45.” By Andrea Gallo, The Advocate

MASSACHUSETTS

Victims’ lawyer releases credibly accused clergy list for Fall River Diocese
“The Diocese of Fall River is being pressured to release a list of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external). On Tuesday (Jan. 21), Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, well known for representing sexual abuse victims in claims against the Archdiocese of Boston, released his own list of nine priests and one Catholic Church employee within the Diocese of Fall River that he says have been ‘accused of sexually abusing one minor in which this office has successfully brought child abuse claims against.’” By Kiernan Dunlop, South Coast Today

Diocese of Fall River suspends retired Catholic priests James Buckley, Edward Byington over claims of child sex abuse
“Two retired Catholic priests were suspended from the ministry over allegations they sexually abused children(link is external) decades ago, the Diocese of Fall River announced Sunday (Jan. 19). The suspended priests, James F. Buckley and Edward J. Byington, are not assigned to a parish but have assisted with masses at various churches since their retirements in the 2000s, the Diocese of Fall River said in a statement.” By Jackson Cote, MassLive.com

MICHIGAN

Clergyman sentenced to jail after restraining teenager
“The second priest to be convicted through Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel’s clergy abuse investigation was sentenced on Monday (Jan. 27) to jail time after he pleaded guilty to holding a teenage boy against his will(link is external) in the janitor’s room of St. Margaret’s Church in 2013. The Rev. Brian Stanley was sentenced to 60 days in Allegan County Jail, with credit for two days served, five years’ probation and must register as a sex offender for 15 years.” By Oakland County Legal News

MINNESOTA

Tuesday’s hearing ends civil action between Ramsey County and archdiocese
“Officials in Ramsey County and the archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis go to court Tuesday (Jan. 28) to mark the end of a nearly four-year civil case(link is external). In 2016, Ramsey County prosecutor John Choi dropped criminal sexual abuse charges against the church. The church was allowed to admit guilt and institute a plan, overseen by Choi’s office, to ensure children’s safety.” By WCCO Radio Newsroom

Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest(link is external). “Mr. Choi always felt restorative justice should be part of the archdiocese taking accountability for its actions and providing a means of healing for the community,” said Stephanie Wiersma, an assistant Ramsey County attorney who will participate in the conference and has been involved in the case since the beginning.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

NEW JERSEY

Catholic fund has paid out million to N.J. priest sex abuse victims. Friday is the last day to apply.
“More than 500 people have applied to receive cash settlements from a new Catholic Church fund created to compensate victims of clergy sexual abuse in New Jersey(link is external), said the program’s managers who plan to accept the last new applications Friday (Jan. 31) … As of early this month, the program has paid out more than $10 million in settlements to New Jersey victims, though only 86 of the 552 applications had been decided, said Camille Biros, co-administrator of the fund.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

New lawsuits against Newark Archdiocese accuse former Rutherford priest of sex assault
“A pair of lawsuits filed under new state law have been filed against the Archdiocese of Newark by men saying they were sexually abused nearly four decades ago by a late Catholic priest(link is external). The men accuse the church of failing to protect them from the Rev. David Ernst, who was assigned to Saint Mary’s in Rutherford and taught at Our Lady Help of Christians parochial school in East Orange.” By Valerie Musson, Dsily Voice

New Jersey Catholic school priest suspended during sexual abuse investigation
“A Catholic priest assigned as chaplain at Oratory Catholic Preparatory School in Summit has been placed on leave pending investigations(link is external) by Union County authorities, and school and church officials said. Rev. Salvatore DiStefano is currently on administrative leave as the Union County Prosecutor’s Office investigates ‘complaints issued in the past several days,’ Maria Margiotta, a spokeswoman for the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a statement.” By Katie Kausch, NJ Advance Media, on nj.com

NEW MEXICO

Former priest accused of sex crimes heads to trial
“Jury selection is set to begin Wednesday (Jan. 29) in the trial of an ex-priest accused of raping a first grader at a parochial school in Santa Fe County(link is external) in the late 1980s. Marvin Archuleta’s criminal trial is the first to come out of state Attorney General Hector Balderas’ ongoing investigation into claims of child sex abuse in Roman Catholic churches throughout New Mexico. The state intends to bring Thomas P. Doyle of Virginia, a national expert on clergy sex abuse, to testify in the case, according to a witness list.” By Phaedra Haywood, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK

Court papers: put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand for questioning in abuse cases
“He wants to be identified only by his initials, the same identity he uses in the lawsuit he filed against the Catholic Diocese of Rochester. ‘The victims need to know. We have a right to know,’ he said about new developments in the case. Attorneys for child sexual assault victims are asking a judge to put retired Bishop Matthew Clark on the stand(link is external). He ran the diocese for 33 years.” By Jane Flasch, WHAM-TV13 News

Three victims come forward with allegations of child sex abuse against priest
“Three new victims are coming forward with allegations of child sex abuse against a Catholic priest(link is external) who previously pleaded guilty to forming a sex club and molesting dozens of children. Convicted child molester Father Edward Pipala is once again at the center of a child sex abuse scandal and alleged church cover-up. ‘For decades, he was given license and permission by the Archdiocese and top officials to continue one of the most predatory paths we’ve seen,’ says attorney Jeff Anderson.” By News12 Westchester

OHIO

Ohio priest pleads not guilty to child-porn related charges
“An Ohio Catholic priest pleaded not guilty to 21 child pornography-related counts(link is external) in a Cleveland courtroom on Wednesday (Jan. 22). The Rev. Robert McWilliams, 39, was indicted last week by a Cuyahoga County grand jury. He was arrested last month at a parish in the Cleveland suburb of Strongsville after the Ohio Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force searched his living space using a warrant from neighboring Geauga County.” By Associated Press in The Washington Times

Columbus bishop creates task force, hires attorney to tackle allegations
“Bishop Robert Brennan, of the Diocese of Columbus, has started a task force to look into diocesan policies regarding sexual abuse of minors by priests(link is external). The diocese has also hired a local law firm to look into its records and see if more priests should be added to a list of 50 clergy members who have been accused thus far. Columbus Bishop Robert Brennan says he wants to look at the sexual abuse of minors by clergy members with ‘new eyes.’” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch

OKLAHOMA

Retired Oklahoma City priest added to clergy abuse list
“Archbishop Paul Coakley announced Tuesday (Jan. 21) the addition of a now-retired Oklahoma City priest who served in churches across the state to the list of priests who have had a substantiated allegation of abuse of a minor(link is external). According to the investigation, the archdiocese was contacted in 1993 by a former parishioner of Saint Francis Xavier Catholic Church in Enid who reported allegations of abuse against Father Marvin Leven, 94, that started when the victim was age 15 and recurred as a young adult at Saint John the Baptist Catholic Church in Edmond.” By Kaylee Douglas, KFOR-TV4 News

TENNESSEE

Documents contradict Knoxville diocese’s timeline of knowing about sexual abuse allegations against priests and teacher
“After months of publicly discrediting and denying sexual abuse allegations against prominent priests and a diocesan employee(link is external), documents obtained by the Times Free Press suggest the Diocese of Knoxville may have known about those allegations for almost a year before suspending the accused employee.” Wyatt Massey, Chattanooga Times Free Press

TEXAS

Ex-Dallas-area Catholic priest accused of molesting a child
“A 78-year-old former Roman Catholic priest whose whereabouts remain unknown has been accused of aggravated sexual assault of a child(link is external) while serving as a priest in North Texas, according to a police affidavit. Dallas police obtained a warrant Tuesday for the arrest of Richard Thomas Brown, a priest who served at five North Texas churches before he was removed in 2002 and recently defrocked. The affidavit accused Brown of sexually molesting a child on July 5, 1989.” By Associated Press in Washington Times

Corpus Christi priests accused of credible abuse file appeal in defamation case
“A lawyer is arguing retired Corpus Christi priests were wrongly included in a list of clergy ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external),’ especially when one was exonerated multiple times. In an Appellants’ brief submitted Monday to the Thirteenth Court of Appeals, attorney Andrew M. Greenwell argues retired priests Michael Heras and John Feminelli were included in a Diocese of Corpus Christi list of priests ‘credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors.’” By Alexandria Rodriguez, Caller Times

WASHINGTON

Prominent Catholics together call for review of Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy abuse files
“A group of prominent Catholics announced Tuesday (Jan. 28) that it’s pursuing a ‘lay-led,’ independent review of the Seattle Archdiocese’s secret clergy files(link is external) to fully expose the breadth and depth of the church’s sexual abuses in Western Washington and find a path forward for healing the damage caused to generations of the religion’s followers.” By Lewis Kamb, Seattle Times

WISCONSIN

La Crosse Diocese names 25 former priests who abused children
“At least 25 priests who served in the Diocese of La Crosse over the past several decades sexually assaulted children(link is external), the diocese disclosed Saturday (Jan. 18). The disclosure, posted at 4 p.m. on the diocese website at diolc.org, brings the total number of Catholic priests with substantiated accusations of sexual abuse in Wisconsin to nearly 160. The La Crosse diocese serves nearly 200,000 Catholics in counties across central and western Wisconsin, including those in Marathon, Portage and Wood counties.” By Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald

AUSTRALIA

Catholic Church attempts to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse
“The Catholic church is attempting to stop one of its own priests from suing it for child abuse because he took too long to come forward(link is external), prompting criticism that it has learned nothing from the royal commission. The Lismore diocese plans to seek a permanent stay in the New South Wales supreme court to prevent one of its priests from suing for abuse he suffered as a 12-year-old altar boy. Court documents allege the altar boy was abused in the 1960s by Clarence “David” Anderson, a now-dead priest.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Christian Brothers child sex abuse survivor John Lawrence said attacker made him feel ‘worthless’
“An elderly man who was sexually abused by the Christian Brothers as a child(link is external) has described the pain and fear he experienced being repeatedly raped as a nine-year-old boy at a group home for vulnerable children. Perth man John Thomas Lawrence, 75, has become the first child sex abuse survivor to testify about his ordeal in court since Western Australia removed time limits on such cases being heard.” By Eliza Borrello, ABC News

Religious privilege: priest confessed to child abuse 1,500 times
“Father Michael McArdle wrote in a 2004 affidavit that he made confessions of child abuse 1,500 times over 25 years(link is external). Each time, he walked out of the confessional booth with his sins absolved. Rockhampton Bishop Brian Heenan barred McArdle from contact with children in 1996 after hearing allegations from victims. Although McArdle never denied the allegations, Heenan failed to contact the police.” By Destiny Rogers, qnews.com.au

CHILE

Catholic clergy abuse victim leads drive to shakeup establishment politics in Chile
“James Hamilton, a doctor who was one of the first people in Chile to come forward claiming he was the victim of child sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), has called his party Dignity. The name is a reference to the public square in the Chilean capital where protesters have gathered over the past three months to denounce inequality and high living costs. Hamilton is seeking to unite his countrymen around “principles” rather than ideologies of left and right.” By Natalia A. Ramos Miranda, Reuters

FRANCE

French trial exposes how church covered for predator priest
“One of the first people to notice Bernard Preynat’s unhealthy obsession for young boys was the supervisor at the seminary where, still a teen, the future priest started training for his career in the church. ‘At 14, 15 years old, I became interested in the youngest boys and the supervisor summoned me to tell me that I was abnormal and sick,’ the self-confessed child abuser said at his trial in France this past week. ‘I explained this to the bishop.’ And yet, after a two-year church-imposed course of psychotherapy, Preynat was still ordained into the priesthood(link is external).” By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press

GERMANY

On abuse-scandal efforts, German bishops urge patience
“German bishops urged patience toward their efforts to deal with the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external). The German Catholic news agency KNA reported the bishops, meeting in Wurzburg, said the plans that resulted from the latest investigations needed time. Their appeal came 10 years since the first revelations of the abuse emerged. ‘We need this time and we hope for understanding; we will not be absolving ourselves from the responsibility,’ they said Jan. 28.” By Catholic News Service on CatholicPhilly.com

GUAM

‘Greatest measure of justice’: $21M for survivors, other claimants in Archdiocese plan
“Guam’s clergy sex abuse survivors and other claimants may be able to receive some $21 million in restitution(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Agana, if the church’s reorganization plan to solve its bankruptcy gets court approval. This is the first public disclosure of the amount the archdiocese and its insurers plan to pay claimants, including those allegedly molested and raped by bishops, priests and other clergy dating back to the 1950s.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

SLOVENIA

Catholic group calls on Ljubljana archbishop to resign over inaction on multiple rape allegations against priests
“A Catholic civil society group dedicated to fighting sexual abuse in the Slovenian Roman Catholic Church has called for the resignation of Slovenia’s most senior cleric, Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore, due to the church’s persistent failure to tackle sexual abuse allegations against members of the clergy(link is external). The church keeps adopting and updating recommendations on how church workers should deal with allegations of sexual abuse, but ‘everything remains dead ink on paper,’ said Igor Vovk, a senior member of the Dovolj.je (It’s Enough) group and director of the Catholic pro-life NGO Zavod Iskreni.” By Total Slovenia News

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New database of abusive clergy will ‘put pressure’ on bishops to improve transparency / Cruxnow.com

As of January 20, they (Pro Publica) note, there have been at least 178 lists produced by U.S. dioceses and religious orders. 41 dioceses and dozens more religious orders, they write, have not yet done so. (Cruxnow.com)

A new, independent database listing nearly 6,000 priests accused of abuse was launched this week, marking what some observers say is a sign of a new era of transparency in the Catholic Church and others labeling it the “privatization of justice” after years of church leaders blocking such efforts.

“The database, which was activated on Monday, was a yearlong effort by ProPublica, “a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power.” The launch comes after the 2018 release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, which sent shock waves through the U.S. Church as it chronicled seven decades of abuse of more than 1,000 victims at the hands of 300 priests.

“Since then, numerous dioceses have rushed to publish their own list of accused priests.

“‘Nationwide, the names of more than 5,800 clergy members have been released so far, representing the most comprehensive step toward transparency yet by a Catholic Church dogged by its long history of denying and burying abuse by priests,’ write the researchers behind the ProPublica effort.”

By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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10 years after Vatican reform, Legion in new abuse crisis / Associated Press

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.” (Associated Press)

The administrator of the elite Catholic school in Cancun, Mexico, used to take the girls out of class and send them to the chapel, where the priest from the Legion of Christ religious order would sexually abuse them.

“‘As some were reading the Bible, he would rape the others in front of them, little girls aged 6 to 8 or 9,’ said one of his victims, Ana Lucia Salazar, now a 36-year-old Mexican television host and mother of three.“

“‘Afterward, nothing was the same, nothing went back to the way it was,’ she said through tears at her home in Mexico City.

“Salazar’s horrific story, which has been corroborated by other victims and the Legion itself, has sparked a new credibility crisis for the once-influential order, 10 years after the Holy See took it over after determining that its founder was a pedophile.

“But more importantly, it has called into question the Vatican reform itself: The papal envoy who ran the Legion starting in 2010 learned about the case nearly a decade ago and refused to punish or even investigate the priest or the superiors who covered up his crimes, many of whom are still in power and ministry today.”

By maria Verza and Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read More …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


January 17, 2020

TOP STORIES

Panel to call for more lay control in the Australian Church
“A six-person committee charged with reviewing church governance and management is expected to present Australia’s bishops with a plan to overhaul the management of the church in the country. The plan would cede control over financial, human resources and governance functions to professional laity(link is external), Jack de Groot, a member of the review committee, told Catholic News Service. The committee, established by the Australian Catholics Bishops’ Conference and Catholic Religious Australia in May 2018, expects to present the plan by late March.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

In surprise, Benedict openly defends clerical celibacy as Francis considers married priests
“Retired Pope Benedict XVI has coauthored a new book defending the Catholic Church’s practice of a celibate priesthood, in a shocking move(link is external) that comes as Pope Francis is considering the possibility of allowing older, married men to be ordained as priests in the Amazon region.According to excerpts from the volume released Jan. 12 by the conservative French outlet Le Figaro, the ex-pontiff says he could not remain silent on the issue as Francis is contemplating the move, which was requested by the bishops from the nine-nation Amazon region at October’s Vatican synod gathering.”By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

A bill in the Utah State Legislature removes ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to child abuse
“A bill made public ahead of the 2020 legislative session would remove the ‘priest-penitent’ privilege when it comes to reporting abuse cases(link is external).House Bill 90, sponsored by Rep. Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City, would demand that a priest, a bishop or any other clergy who receives a disclosure of abuse turn around and report that to law enforcement to investigate. If that clergy member doesn’t, they could face a misdemeanor charge. It also allows for the possibility of civil litigation by a victim, she told FOX 13.” By FOX-TV13 News

Catholic Church shields $2 billion in assets to limit abuse payouts
“For most of the 20th century, the Catholic Church in the U.S. minimized the damage wrought by pedophile priests by covering up the abuse(link is external). When the bishop of the Davenport, Iowa, diocese was told in the mid-1950s that one of his priests was sexually abusing boys at a local YMCA, he kept it secret. “It is consoling to know that no general notoriety has arisen, and I pray none may result,” he wrote to a priest, capturing the strategy of the era.” By BloombergQuintBy Josh Saul, BloombergQuint.com (Bloomberg Businessweek)

Archbishop Scicluna hils abolition of pontifical secret in clerical sex crimes
“Malta’s archbishop Charles Scicluna has hailed the abolition of the pontifical secret in cases of sexual violence and clerical abuse of minors(link is external), as an important step in working for justice for victims.Scicluna, whom Pope Francis appointed as the Holy See’s prosecutor on clerical sex abuse cases, said the abolition will mean certain jurisdictions cannot be excused from not collaborating with authorities on such cases.”By Matthew Vella, MaltaToday.com.mt

Church offers little outreach to minority victims of priests
“The Samples were a black Chicago family, with six children and few resources. The priest helped them with tuition, clothes, bills. He offered the promise of opportunities — a better life.He also abused all the children(link is external).They told no one. They were afraid of not being believed and of losing what little they had, said one son, Terrence Sample. And nobody asked, until a lawyer investigating alleged abuses by the same priest prompted him to break his then 33-year silence.”By Gary Fields, Juliet Linderman and Wong Maye-E, Associated Press, in Minneapolis Star Tribune

Irish cardinal admits inquiries into child rapist priest were only to protect church
“Senior figures in Ireland’s Catholic church set up inquiries into historical sexual abuse solely to protect the church from scandal(link is external), the former leader of Ireland’s Catholics has admitted.

DrSeán Brady, the former primate of All Ireland, told an inquiry into historical abuse on Thursday (Jan. 2) that he and other Catholic clerics were sworn to secrecy about these tribunals so that the ‘good name’ of the church could be protected.”By Henry McDonald, The Guardian

ACCOUNTABILITY

Judge says parents can sue diocese over abuse reporting
“A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that parents of children in the Roman Catholic Church and survivors of sexual abuse by clergy members can move forward with a lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh alleging that it has not fulfilled its obligations under state law to report child sexual abusers(link is external).The parents and survivors claim that the Pittsburgh diocese along with the other seven Pennsylvania dioceses have created a public nuisance by failing to report every allegation of child abuse and are asking that they be compelled to release information about all known allegations.” By Claudia Lauer, Associated Press

Thomas Doyle traces the disintegration of clerical/hierarchical culture
“I have thought recently that one way to understand the revived interest in the priest sexual abuse scandal(link is external), post-Theodore McCarrick and the Pennsylvania grand jury reportof little more than a year ago, is in the context of the Kübler-Ross stages of grief. You know: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance … No doubt the cycles will go on. But in one peculiar and important sense, regarding the hierarchical culture at the heart of the scandal, perhaps we can now say with some certainty that significant portions of the community have arrived at acceptance of the death of the clerical/hierarchical culture.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Victims benefit from mandated reporting laws
“The Dec. 30 editorial ‘Vatican Secrets’ brings an opportunity to clarify the meaning and ramifications of a ‘pontifical secret(link is external).’ Pontifical secrecy never pertained to the reporting of an allegation to civil authorities or to whether a victim could speak publicly about his or her experience.The Diocese of Pittsburgh has reported allegations involving current minors to the district attorney for more than 30 years and expanded that in 2002 to include allegations of past child sexual abuse brought forward by survivors who had become adults.” By Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Editorial Board

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis struggles to escape scandals of 2019
“Pope Francis ended 2019 in embarrassment(link is external) when he angrily slapped the hand of a woman who had pulled on his own while he was greeting pilgrims on New Year’s Eve. He began 2020 with a public apology for losing his patience and setting a ‘bad example.’ It was a fitting coda to a year in which the pope addressed one scandal—the Catholic Church’s sex-abuse crisis—only to become embroiled in another, over the Vatican’s murky finances.” By Francis X. Rocca, The Wall Street Journal, on MSN.com

Pope hints at broader vision of ‘recovery’ from sex abuse scandals
“From the beginning, two things have been true about the clerical sexual abuse scandals(link is external) in the Catholic Church.The first is that the Church failed, and failed miserably, in its duty to protect children and vulnerable adults entrusted to its care. Unearthing those failures, and doing justice for them, is a long-term challenge that’s far from over.The second is that despite those failures, the Catholic Church also carries generations of wisdom about raising children successfully …”By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Why the McCarrick report could be delayed
“The news that Theodore McCarrick recently moved from the Kansas friary where he had been living has fueled speculation that a report from the Vatican’s internal investigation on McCarrick will soon be released.But while the report may be completed in Rome, its release may not be imminent(link is external), and some U.S. bishops may be quietly hoping for further delays.” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

Bishops narrowly approve USCCB rate hike for 2021
“The bishops of the United States have narrowly approved an increase on the amount dioceses must contribute to the national bishops’ conference. The measure initially failed to pass when put to a vote during their November 2019 meeting and additional votes had to be collected by mail to ensure the measure passed.” By Catholic News Agency

Controversy continues regarding South Sudan archbishop appointment
“Bari ethnic leaders in South Sudan have distanced themselves from critics of the newly-appointed Archbishop of Juba. The archbishop has faced controversy since his December appointment for several reasons(link is external), including that he is not a member of the region’s predominant Bari tribe. ‘Those indigenous clergy and faithful Bari who have rejected the appointment of the new Archbishop for Juba [do] not reflect the position of the entire Bari Community or their association i.e. the Bari Community Association,’ Cornelio BepoLadoKenyi, chairman of the Juba-based association, explained in a Dec. 23 statement.”By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Meeting of Church heavy-hitters calls for ‘adjustments’ to priestly formation
“A major gathering of ecclesial heavy hitters focusing on the future of the priesthood concluded with a call for a reimagining of priestly formation(link is external) – one that incorporates the laity and women in the process and better reflects the racial and cultural diversity within the U.S. Church.The two-day symposium at Boston College took place January 2-3 and was organized around “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” a document first published in December 2018, which was the result of a series of seminars sponsored by the college’s Department of Theology and School of Theology and Ministry.”By Christopher White, Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

Francis appoints first woman to managerial role at Vatican’s Secretariat of State
“Pope Francis appointed an Italian woman as an undersecretary in the Vatican’s Secretariat of State Jan. 15, in the first such appointment of a woman to a managerial role(link is external) in what is traditionally considered the city-state’s most important office. Francesca Di Giovanni, who has worked for the Secretariat for 27 years, will be one of two undersecretaries in the Section for Relations with States, which is essentially the Vatican’s foreign ministry.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The church must face its own role in violence against women
“”By how we treat a woman’s body, we can understand our level of humanity,” Francis told the crowd, decrying the ways in which women are ‘continually offended, beaten, raped, forced into prostitution and forced to suppress the lives they carry in their wombs.’ This was not the first time that Francis has spoken about violence against women(link is external), but his comments stood out in stark relief against an incident on New Year’s Eve in which he angrily slapped away a woman’s hands after she forcefully pulled him close to her.”By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

CHURCH FINANCES

Bishop Scharfenberger suggests bankruptcy is ‘probability’ for Diocese of Buffalo
“It’s been a little more than a month since Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger of Albany assumed the additional role of apostolic administrator for the Diocese of Buffalo. As he enters his second month as the interim caretaker of the diocese, Scharfenberger is speaking about the work to sort through a painful and extensive clergy sex abuse crisis, admitting that Chapter 11 bankruptcy appears likely(link is external).”By Michael Mroziak, WXXI-AM News, from WBFO-FM

How parishes can tackle U.S. church’s money crisis
“Of its myriad problems in recent decades—including the serial sexual abuse of children by clergy and the institutional cover-up of these horrific acts—a growing cash crunch is the single biggest threat to the church’s future(link is external).Historically, U.S. Catholics have dutifully contributed to the church, but with newer generations not as likely to attend Mass, there is no guarantee this giving will continue. Meanwhile, many dioceses and parishes employ the same threadbare fundraising playbook.”By Michael White and Tom Corcoran, America: The Jesuit Review

CLERICALISM

Your thoughts on dismantling clericalism
“Two recent NCR Connectionscolumns by executive editor Tom Roberts highlighted thoughts on the culture of clericalism(link is external) from Thomas Doyle, who said the clergy sexual abuse crisis ‘is evidence of a profound contradiction that reaches to the foundational core of the institutional church,’ and from Jesuit Fr. James Keenan, who proposes an alternative ‘culture of vulnerability as a path to a ‘servant priesthood’ and a ‘servant episcopacy.’ Letters to the editor are edited for length and clarity …”By National Catholic Reporter Staff

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

New celibacy kerfuffle sparks debate over role of pope emeritus
“When retired Pope Benedict XVI resigned from the papacy in 2013, he said that he would be ‘hidden from the world(link is external),’ and that God was calling him ‘to go up the mountain,’ and to dedicate himself to prayer and meditation.However, it became clear on Sunday Jan. 12) that his idea of ‘hidden’ is not quitethe dictionary definition when excerpts of a new book by Benedict and Guinean Cardinal Robert Sarah, the head of the Vatican’s liturgy office, were published in French daily Le Figaro.”By Elise Harris, Cruxnow.com

As village churches close, Dutch Catholics leave faith rather than worship elsewhere
“Churches appear to be less indispensable to small communities than they themselves are inclined to think. The Dutch Catholic weekly KatholiekNieuwsbladreached that conclusion after long-term research into the effects of church closure on village communities(link is external).The research of the Dutch Catholic weekly shows, among other things, that the pace at which churches are disappearing from the countryside will only increase in the coming years. It often results in painful closures or mergers, but the local village communities also seem to recover surprisingly quickly.”By Dutch Catholic Weekly “KatholiekNieuwsblad” on Cruxnow.com

Friars, seeing numbers shrink, plan to pull clergy from Raleigh Catholic church
“The pastor of Raleigh’s St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church told parishioners he was surprised by the decision Friday (Jan. 3) of his order to pull Franciscan friars from the parish.In his email to parishioners, Fr. Steve Patti said the order, Franciscan Friars of Holy Name Province, had been discussing for years a gradual withdrawal from some of their ministries, a response to ‘the aging of friars and declining vocations to religious life(link is external).’” By WRAL.com

VOICES

The Church’s enduring legacy of abuse
“In Fernando Meirelles’ film ‘The Two Popes,’ former Pope Benedict XVI, played by Anthony Hopkins, confesses his sins to Argentinian Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now Pope Francis. It is a crucial scene, in which Benedict aims to convince Bergoglio, played by Jonathan Pryce, of the reasons for his resignation as head of the church. As Bergoglio listens, Benedict mentions Mexican priest Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ(link is external) …” By Leon Krause, Slate

Buffalo Diocese bankruptcy must not be a sanctuary for sin
“Now we know that Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger is more than bankruptcy curious. The leader in charge of Buffalo’s Catholic diocese told a Buffalo News reporter on Monday (Jan. 13) that filing for Chapter 11 protection is probable as the diocese faces an onslaught of lawsuits(link is external) from individuals making claims of clergy sex abuse.As we have noted before, that would be unfortunate. If it happens – and there are defenses for it – the diocese needs to be as forthcoming about the abuses its priests and bishop committed as it would if the matter were left in state court. There can be no more hiding in dark corners.” By The Buffalo News Editorial Board

Paying the cost of willful ignorance
“The Roman Catholic Church in the United States has seen better days.In the nearly 20 years since The Boston Globe’s Spotlight Team uncovered a concerted effort within the Archdiocese of Boston not only to cover up the reprehensible behavior of pedophile priests(link is external), but also the ensuing coordinated effort to move these men from parish to parish with no warning to the people who they ostensibly served, it has seemed that every passing year has brought with it a fresh set of new revelations about similarly horrific cases from virtually every corner of the country.”By Cape Cod Times Editorial Board

Cardinal Cupich: How can we end clerical sex abuse and purify the Church?

“One day, a man in his mid-50s came to my office and shared the painful story of being sexually abused by his pastor(link is external). He started serving Mass when he was 9 years old, and the pastor always asked him to stay afterward to tidy up the sacristy. One day the priest took him to the basement and sexually abused him. He did this every Sunday over four years. After abusing him, the priest would walk the boy home and have dinner with the boy’s family Adding another demonic layer of pain to the sexual abuse itself, each Saturday the priest would drive the boy to another town and force him to confess his supposed sins to another priest …”By Cardinal Blasé Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago

Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children. In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said ‘even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all.’ We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names(link is external), since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds.” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

Church doesn’t seem serious about abuse
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church(link is external) in reaction to a worldwide scandal, The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe?”By Fairmount Sentinel Editorial Board

Diocese faces new decade to right itself
“Debate will continue about whether the decade of the 2020s really began on Jan. 1 of this year or whether that actually will occur on Jan. 1, 2021. Either way, the period of time has been traumatic for the Roman Catholic Church here, across Pennsylvania, across the nation and, indeed, around the world.The reason is the ongoing horrific, unconscionable child-sexual-abuse scandal(link is external).That scandal of mind-shattering proportion — one that has challenged even the most devout Catholics’ beliefs, attitudes and trust — is destined to span the decade of the 2020s and perhaps beyond.” By Altoona Mirror Editorial Board

Diocese falls short with its list
“The Catholic Diocese of Fargo has released a list of clergy, deacons and religious leaders accused of sexual abuse of children(link is external). In an accompanying statement, Bishop John Folda said “even one instance of abuse would be too many, and I know this list of clergy and religious (leaders) is a cause of deep sadness to us all. We stop short of saying it must be a difficult time for the church, since it’s obviously a much more difficult time for any abuse victims. The diocese should not be commended for releasing the names, since doing so is right and only one part of the process to heal these wounds …” By Grand Forks Herald Editorial Board

Protect children, ensure accountability, lift statutory limits
“Removing statutory limits on the age at which adult survivors of child sexual abuse may sue for damages is simply justice, given what we now know about the lasting effects of psychological trauma. It also will signal that complicity in shielding perpetrators from accountability is over, and that Connecticut will put the protection of children before the interests of institutions. The state’s legislative task force on the statute of limitations regarding sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and sexual assault is nearing the deadline for its assignment.’”By The Day Editorial Board

Transparency still lacking in Catholic Church
“Hundreds of clergy accused of sexually abusing children, including some convicted of crimes, were left off lists released by the Roman Catholic Church in reaction to a worldwide scandal(link is external), The Associated Press found. In terms of rebuilding trust with those of the faith, the church seems to be in a one-step-forward, two-steps-back posture. When claims of transparency are exposed as hollow, what are those skeptical of the church to believe.AP investigators examined lists released by Catholic dioceses across the country, of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse. ‘An AP analysis found more than 900 clergy members accused of child sexual abuse who were missing from the lists,’ the news agency reported.”By The Weirton Daily Times Editorial Board

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Bill would give sexual assault survivors one-year ‘look back window’ to file cases
“Florida lawmakers are considering a bill that would give survivors of childhood sexual assault a ‘look back window(link is external)’ to address previously unreported claims. It would allow them one year to open cases with an expired statute of limitations. This follows a recent wave of states passing look back laws. Sixteen states and the District of Columbia have created similar opportunities for abuse victims to have their voices heard.” By Stephanie Colombini, WLRN-FM National Public Radio

Ending limits for child sex abuse lawsuits gets support from Missouri lawmakers
“For two decades, Bryan Bacon kept the memories of his abuse locked away … Bacon told his story to the House Children and Families Committee in a hearing Tuesday (Jan. 14). He was there to support a proposal that would remove the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits in cases of childhood sexual abuse(link is external). Currently, the law gives survivors of abuse 10 years to file civil claims.” By Tynan Stewart, St Louis Post-Dispatch

Mexico bishops urge no statute of limitations on sex abuse
“The Roman Catholic Church in Mexico called on the country’s government Tuesday Jan. 14) to modify the legal code and do away with statutes of limitations for sexual abuse of minors(link is external). ‘We want to ask in the name of the bishops of Mexico for there to be no expiration for this crime,’ said Rogelio Cabrera, president of the Mexican Bishops’ Conference. He called it ‘unjust’ that nothing can be done about such cases starting 10 years from the date of the offense, ‘since the wrong done lasts for the lifetime of the person who has been a victim.’” By Associated Press

CLERGY CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE

Archdiocese to hold conference for clergy abuse survivors
“Victim/survivors and others impacted by clergy sexual abuse are invited to a Jan. 23 conference on restorative justice and healing organized by the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis(link is external). The daylong conference in Lake Elmo, east of St. Paul, will include Archbishop Bernard Hebda and Ramsey County Attorney John Choi providing an update on the impetus for the conference: The settlement of civil charges filed by the county in 2015 alleging the archdiocese was negligent in the case of an abusive priest.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit

ALASKA

‘It’s never, ever been your fault’: Alaska bishop offers apology in wake of report on sexual abuse
“An Alaska bishop offered a series of apologies on Thursday Jan. 16) in the wake of a review that disclosed reports of sexual misconduct by 14 men(link is external) who worked for the Archdiocese of Anchorage, some stretching back more than 50 years. All but one of the accused were priests. The abuse involved children and vulnerable adults. At a press conference at the archdiocese in downtown Anchorage, Bishop Andrew Bellisario said he wanted those abused by clergy members to know: ‘It’s not your fault. It’s never, ever been your fault.’ By Tegan Hanlan, Alaska Public Radio

ARIZONA

Ex-priest indicted on charges of sexually abusing two boys in Phoenix diocese
“A former Catholic priest was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury Thursday (Jan. 9) on charges of sexually abusing two boys under age 15(link is external) more than a dozen years ago. John ‘Jack’ Dallas Spaulding faces six counts of sexual misconduct with a minor and one count of molestation of a child between the years of 2003 and 2007.” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic

CALIFORNIA

A sordid life? Priest, now dead, accused of raping 7-year-old girl, fathering another child
“Decades after his death, the Rev. EfrénNeri is accused of leading a sordid secret life, raping a 7-year-old girl and fathering a child(link is external) out of wedlock in the 1950s.At that time of both incidents, he was assigned to Christ the King parish in Rialto, in San Bernardino County, then part of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego.Outside the diocesan offices Wednesday (Jan. 8) morning, ‘Jane Doe’ accused Neri of raping her in 1958.” By Peter Rowe, Los Angeles Times

Bakersfield church, Fresno Diocese, accused of covering up child sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Fresno and St. Philip the Apostle church in Bakersfield are being sued. They’re accused of covering up sexual misconduct by a pastor for decades(link is external).Fr. Anthony Moreno, who served as priest at St. Philip the Apostle from July 1979 to December 1980, is being accused of molesting multiple children, according to a law suit filed in Fresno court this week.”By Emma Goss, KBAK-TV58 News

Law firm expects to file hundreds of lawsjuits against California Catholic Dioceses in coming weeks
“Standing in a hotel near the Oakland waterfront,James Brogan didn’t quite know where to begin, so he did something most sexual assault survivors don’t do—he gave his name(link is external). ‘It’s wrecked my entire life, every aspect of my life,’ he said, not looking past the lectern behind which he stood. ‘Where do you go?’ Because of a new California law, Brogan and countless other survivors of rapists masquerading as holy men can go to court.”By Raheem F. Hosseini, NewsReview.com

FLORIDA

State continues to investigate child sex abuse
“The Florida Attorney General’s office is not releasing the number of tips it has received since 2018 when then-state attorney general Pam Bondi launched a statewide investigation into all reports of past abuse(link is external) in the Catholic Dioceses, including a website where victims can submit tips about abuse – past and present.” By FOX13 News

INDIANA

St. Paul’s to hold discussion on sexual abuse
“Following decades of headlines about sexual abuse committed by clergy members in the Catholic Church, a Grant County parish is holding a two-week discussion on the issue.According to BBC News, a landmark 2004 church-commissioned report said more than 4,000 Roman Catholic priests in the US had faced sexual abuse allegations(link is external) in the previous 50 years, with numerous allegations, investigations and convictions of clergy reported since then worldwide. More recently, a grand jury report in Pennsylvaniasubstantiated that nearly 300 priests were involved in the sexual abuse of approximately 1,000 children.”By Victoria Lawson, Chronicle-Tribune

MASSACHUSETTS

One year later, Fall River diocese’s list of ‘credibly’ accused priests still not done
“Bishop Edgar M. da Cunha of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fall River wrote a letter to parishioners last January announcing the church had hired a former FBI agent to review allegations of sexual abuse against minors dating back to the 1950s(link is external).The plan,he wrote, was to complete the review by spring of last year, and produce a list of credibly accused clergy members, following what a growing number of dioceses – including Providence – have already done across the country.”By Eli Sherman, WPRI-TV10 News

Priest gets probation for ‘unnatural acts’ on a minor
“A Catholic priest has pleaded guilty to two counts of ‘unnatural acts’ with a minor(link is external) for accusations of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.James Randall Gillette was sentenced to five years of probation in Suffolk Superior Court in Boston on Jan. 2, according to court records. More serious charges of child rape and indecent assault and battery on a minor were dismissed, but he still has to register as a sex offender.” By Associated Press on WBZ-TV4 News

MINNESOTA

Crookston Diocese priest place on leave for boundary violations
“Bishop Michael Hoeppner says ‘several issues’ concerning Fr. Bryan Kujawa have been brought to his attention, including ‘non-criminal, non-sexual boundary violations(link is external).’ Kujawa works at St. Philip’s Church in Bemidji and St. Charles in Pennington. Hoeppner says Kujawa will remain on leave until a comprehensive assessment is completed and the Diocesan Review Board makes further recommendations.” By KVRR.com

NEBRASKA

Report says Archdiocese of Omaha is complying with U.S. bishops’ child protection policies
“The Archdiocese of Omaha announced this week that an audit had found the archdiocese to be in compliance(link is external) with U.S. bishops’ policies to prevent sexual abuse of children by clergy and other church personnel.The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spelled out the policies in its Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, also known as the Dallas Charter. The charter has called for annual audits of dioceses since the bishops adopted it in 2002.”By Christopher Burbach, Omaha World-Herald

NEW JERSEY

Former student accuses nun of sex abuse at Holy Cross School
“A former student of a Catholic school in New Jersey says she was sexually abused by a nun while she was in first grade(link is external), according to a lawsuit filed in state Superior Court.Holy Cross School in Rumson, Holy Cross Parish and the Diocese of Trenton were named as defendants.The woman, a Cliffside Park resident, she was abused by Sister Mary Nazareen while she was a teacher at Holy Cross School during the 1960s, according to the lawsuit.”By Tom Davis, Patch.com

New Jersey dioceses extend deadline for victims fund
“New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses have given a six-week extension to childhood victims of sexual assault considering applying for compensation(link is external) from a fund the church set up, the account’s co-administrator said Thursday. Camille Biros, the co-administrator of the fund covering all five dioceses, including the Archdiocese of Newark, said in a phone interview that so far more than $9 million in 76 different cases has been paid out.”By CBS-TV3 News

NEW YORK

North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new child victim lawsuits
“The North Country’s Roman Catholic church faces 20 new lawsuits filed in recent months(link is external) under the Child Victims Act. Bishop Terry LaValley says this new wave of suits involves instances of alleged abuse by priests that date back decades. Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the Child Victims Act last February. Among other things it opened a window for victims of past alleged sexual abuse to sue for damages in civil court. So far, the Diocese of Ogdensburg says 20 people have sued under the provision. Asked about the legal and financial situation, spokeswoman Darcy Fargo referred NCPR to the church’s January regional newsletter.” By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio

Child Victims Act sponsor moves to extend ‘lookback window’ for abuse lawsuits
“The state senator who sponsored legislation that allows victims of child sex abuse to sue their alleged predators, no matter when the abuse occurred, has introduced a bill to extend the window for new lawsuits(link is external).The Child Victims Act took effect in August 2019, eliminating statutes of limitations and enabling survivors to sue their alleged abusers during a one-year ‘lookback window’ that expires Aug. 13, 2020. State Sen. Brad Hoylman sponsored the bill, which passed last legislative session after years of advocacy, and has introduced a new piece of legislation that would extend the ‘lookback window’ for one more year.” By David Brand, Queens Daily Eagle

Honeoye Falls priest bounced from church to church in five counties
“A priest in the Rochester Diocese was bounced from church to church in an alleged cover-up of sexual abuse(link is external), says a new lawsuit filed under the Child Victims Act.It is the first lawsuit to name Rev. Otto Vogt. It alleges the abuse happened 30 years ago at St. Paul of the Cross Church in Honeoye Falls.John McHugh says he was 10-years-old in 1989 when he was singled out by Vogt. ‘He ingratiated himself into the family, became friends with the family, went to the family home,’ said attorney Mitchell Garabedian of Boston. He has filed hundreds of suits on behalf of victims of clergy abuse.”By WHAM-TV13 News

Lawsuit filed against diocese, Randolph church
“An unnamed woman has filed a Child Victims Act lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church in Randolph(link is external).The four-page court filing was received Dec. 30 in state Supreme Court in Erie County, where the headquarters for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo is located. A woman accuses Father Joseph P. Friel of sexually abusing and sexually assaulting her while Friel was serving as priest at St. Patrick Roman Catholic Church while the woman was a child taking religious instruction at the church.” By John Whittaker, Jamestown Post-Journal

Lawsuit claims Trautman, former Buffalo Diocese leader and Erie bishop, covered up clergy abuse case
“A new Child Victims Act lawsuit filed Thursday (Jan. 2)details the lengths the accuser says Church officials took to cover up clergy abuse(link is external) in the Diocese of Buffalo. It specifically blames Donald Trautman, who served as vicar general and auxiliary bishop in Buffalo before becoming the Bishop of Erie in 1990. ‘In the lawsuit, we state that Bishop Trautman covered this abuse up,’ said Paul Barr, who represents the alleged victim.”By WIVB-TV4 News

NORTH CAROLINA

Catholic Church identifies those ‘credibly accused’ in WNC
“According to the diocese, Adelbert ‘Del’ Holmes was ‘credibly accused’ of committing child molestation against three minors(link is external) in Murphy in 1976 while he was a clergy member. The Catholic church became aware of the allegations against Holmes in 1988 and he was removed from the ministry in 1991. Holmes was a clergy member at the St. William Catholic Church in Murphy and the Immaculate Conception Catholic Mission in Hayesville. There is no recorded documentation that the Catholic church notified local law enforcement nor the District Attorney’s Office of these allegations when the church was notified in 1988.” By Smoky Mountain News

DA’s office issues statement on Catholic priest abuse
“Following the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte’s list of clergy that have been ‘credibly accused’ of child sexual abuse since the diocese’s creation in 1972, District Attorney Ashley Welch’s office has released a statement noting that two of the members worked in her prosecutorial district, which includes Haywood County, back in the 1970s and 1980.The statement highlights that those who have allegations of abuse by members of the clergy can still come forward(link is external).” By Kyle Perrotti, The Mountaineer

NORTH DAKOTA

Bismarck Diocese names priests with sexual abuse claims
“The Bismarck Diocese has released a list of priests who have substantiated claims against them of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external).The list of 18 diocesan clergy and four extern clergy have all served the Diocese of Bismarck. Diocese of Bismarck Bishop David Kagan says each have claims the Diocese has determined to be likely true.The accused clergy include:Earl J. Becwar (died September, 1991), Norman J. Dukart (living) …” By ValleyNewsLive.com

PENNSYLVANIA

Allentown Diocese has paid out nearly $9 million over clergy sexual abuse
“The Allentown Diocese so far has agreed to pay $8.98 million to 47 victims of sexual abuse by priests(link is external) from its compensation fund since it was opened last spring in response to a landmark grand jury report accusing senior church officials of systematically covering up the sexual abuse of children, the diocese announced Tuesday (Jan. 14) in a press release … Administrators have not informed the committee of a completion date.” By Karen Shuey, TheMercury

Abuse case seeking church records moves forward in Pittsburgh
“Nearly 18 months after a Pennsylvania grand jury report unmasked decades of allegations of clergy sexual abuse in Catholic parishes across the state and church leaders paid $84 million to abuse survivors, fallout from the report continues to mount in the courts(link is external).State lawmakers began the process ofamending the Pennsylvania Constitution to give abuse survivors with old claims a day in court even as thestate Supreme Court weighs a lower court rulingthat could set the stage for such claims even sooner.”By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Walnutport priest removed from ministry after taking ‘disturbing’ photos of wrestlers
“A Catholic priest in Walnutport was removed from ministry after he was seen taking ‘disturbing’ photographs of wrestlers(link is external) at a high school tournament last month, the Diocese of Allentown announced Sunday (Dec. 5).The Rev. Thomas A. Derzack, 70, pastor of St. Nicholas Parish, took the photos Dec. 27 without the wrestlers’ knowledge during the event at the Bethlehem Catholic High School gym, the diocese said.”By Riley Yares, The Morning Call

TENNESSEE

Diocese of Knoxville settles sexual abuse lawsuit out of court
“The Catholic Diocese of Knoxville has reached an out-of-court settlement with a Blount County man whose lawsuit alleged he was sexually abused as a child by two priests(link is external).The settlement means the July suit bought by attorneys for Michael Boyd of Blount County will not proceed in Knox County Circuit Court.The terms and amount of the financial settlement were not disclosed in a seven-paragraph announcement issued today by the diocese. The diocese and church officials also admit no wrongdoing in the settlement.” By Amy McCrary, Knoxville News Sentinel

UTAH

Bill requiring clergy to report child abuse confessions opposed by Utah Catholics, House Speaker
“As religious opposition both in and out of Utah mounts against a proposed bill that would require all allegations of child abuse to be reported to authorities — including those stated in religious confessionals(link is external) — a powerful legislative leader has opposed the bill. House Speaker Brad Wilson won’t support the bill in its current form, according to a statement he sent to the national Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.” By Katie McKellar, Deseret News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

Church settles Snohomish priest’s sex abuse case for $1.7 million
“The Archdiocese of Seattle announced Thursday (Jan. 9) it has reached a $1.7 million settlement involving a Snohomish priest accused of sexually abusing a child(link is external) in the 1980s.The Rev. Dennis Champagne served at St. Michael parish in Snohomish from 1979 to 1999. He was put on administrative leave in 2002, after the archdiocese received a complaint of sexual abuse.” By Zachariah Bryan, Everett Herald

WYOMING

Cheyenne police interviewing more priests as witnesses in ongoing Catholic clergy investigation
“Cheyenne police detectives are interviewing Catholic priests as potential witnesses in authorities’ nearly two year-long investigation into sexual abuse by members of the clergy(link is external) here.Cheyenne police spokesman David Inman said Thursday (Jan. 9) that the case is still being investigated by police in the capital, five months after the agency turned the case over to prosecutors. In an email, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Cheyenne said the church ‘hasn’t heard anything about priests being interviewed by the Cheyenne Police Department; therefore, the Diocese of Cheyenne cannot comment.’” By Seth Klaman, Caspar Star Tribune

AUSTRALIA

Brisbane Archdiocese slams laws to compel priests to report child abuse
“Brisbane’s Catholic Archbishop has hit out at proposed laws that would compel Queensland priests to report the confessions of child abusers(link is external). The state’s teachers, doctors, nurses, childcare workers and school principals already have to report crimes against children to authorities, but Archbishop Mark Coleridge says the laws would ‘limit and unjustly interfere’ with the human rights of Catholics.” By Lydia Lynch, Brisbane Times

Catholic priest dies before being sentenced for child sexual abuse
“Disgraced former Catholic Priest James Joseph Cunneen, who was found guilty of indecent assault against six teenage boys(link is external) in New South Wales in the late 1980s, has died before he could be sentenced.60-year old MrCunneen was due to be sentenced in Downing Centre District Court on 14 February 2020. He was arrested, charged and prosecuted last year after information given to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014.After an extensive investigation, police extradited MrCunneen back to Australia in 2017 where he was charged.”By Sonia Hickey, The Big Smoke

FRANCE

Trial delayed for French priest accused of abusing 75 boys
“A former French priest accused of sexually abusing around 75 Boy Scouts(link is external) went on trial Monday (Jan. 13), but the proceedings were delayed for at least a day because of a strike by lawyers.The case is France’s worst clergy abuse drama to reach court so far, and its repercussions reached all the way to the Vatican. ‘I have heard the suffering of these people, which I’m guilty of causing. I hope that this trial can unfold as quickly as possible,’ Bernard Preynat told the court after the judge announced the trial would be delayed until Tuesday.”By Nicolas Vaux-Montagny, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND & WALES

Inquiry report finds gaps in UK legal system are allowing known offenders to sexually abuse children abroad
“The Inquiry has published its reporton the protection of children outside the UK, focusing on the legal measures designed to prevent British child sex abusers from offending overseas.The report finds that offenders from England and Wales are travelling to commit extensive abuse of children across the world(link is external), including in eastern Asia and Africa.” By Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse on iicsa.org.uk

Mum beaten and abused by nuns sues for £750k
“A mum from Renfrewshire who claims she was beaten and abused at an orphanage(link is external) has launched a £750,000 legal action bid against the Catholic order.Annemarie McGuigan said she was beaten with a stick and locked in cupboards during her five-year stayat the Nazareth House children’s home in Aberdeen.The 59-year-old was ‘force-fed’ her own vomit and is now taking legal action against the Sisters of Nazareth.” By The Herald

GUAM

‘Having nightmares to the day’: former Barrigada altar boy sues for priest’s sex abuse
“Some 40 years after he said a priest raped and molested him several times(link is external), a former Barrigada altar boy is now suing the entities that he thinks enabled and then covered up the abuses.To this day, he continues to have nightmares of being sexually abused by the priest, the lawsuit says.Father Louis Brouillard allegedly raped and molested him in or about 1977 to 1979, according to the $5 million lawsuit filed in local court Wednesday (Jan. 8).” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

MEXICO

Legion of Christ accused abuser removed from priesthood
“ The Catholic Church has removed Mexican Fernando Martínez from the priesthood after considering him guilty of various sexual abuse crimes against minors(link is external), the Legion of Christ religious order said Monday Jan. 13).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith decided that Martínez could not continue his priestly duties, but allowed him to remain as a member of the Legion of Christ and the church, a decision that upset his victims.” By Maria Verza, Associated Press

PHILIPPINES

Vatican acquits ‘healing’ priest of alleged sexual abuse of minors
“Controversial ‘healing priest’ Rev Fr. Fernando Suarez has been cleared by the Vatican from accusations of sexual abuse of minors(link is external).The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith informed Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Most Rev. Antonio Tobias of the “not guilty” verdict on Suarez in a letter dated December 13, 2019.“I was instructed to notify the Rev. Fr. Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of the Decree of “Not Guilty” of the accusation lodged against him of sexual abuse of minors or delicta contra sextum cum minoribus,” read the decree of notification signed by Tobias.”By CNN Philippines Staff

Vatican hands down ‘not guilty’ verdict on healing priest Fr. Fernando Suarez
“The Congregation of the Doctrine of Faith of the Vatican has exonerated a healing priest from Bukidnon, who was accused of sexual abuse(link is external).The Congregation sent a letter to the Judicial Vicar and Retired Novaliches Bishop Antonio Tobias that has ruled Fernando M. Suarez of the Apostolic Vicariate of San Jose de Occidental Mindoro of ‘not guilty’ of the accusation against him of committing sexual abuse of minors.In response, Tobias, through the National Tribunal of Appeals of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines informed Suarez and other priests and bishops about the ruling from the Vatican through a decree of notification.”By Samuel P. Medenilla, Business Mirror

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