A historic resignation / Commonweal

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

Commonweal

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

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

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

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

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

By Paul Moses, Commonweal — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

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

Dec. 2, 2022

TOP STORIES

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

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

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

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

ACCOUNTABILITY

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

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

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

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

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

POPE FRANCIS

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

BISHOPS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WOMEN RELIGIOUS

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

LAITY & THE CHURCH

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

CHURCH FINANCES

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

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

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

VOICES

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

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

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

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

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

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

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

CALIFORNIA

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

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

INDIANA

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

MARYLAND

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

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

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

NEW YORK.

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

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

PENNSYLVANIA

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

RHODE ISLAND

Why do sexual abuse scandals keep happening in Rhode Island?

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

TENNESSEE

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

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

WISCONSIN

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

AUSTRALIA

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

CANADA

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

FRANCE

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

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

INDIA

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

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

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

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

ITALY

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

POLAND

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

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

After six years, Voice of the Faithful review shows some bishops clearly committed to financial transparency

BOSTON, Mass., Nov. 30, 2022 ― The 2022 Voice of the Faithful diocesan financial transparency report is the organization’s sixth such annual review, and the report shows some bishops are clearly committed to financial transparency. Others, not so much.

This year, the overall average U.S. diocesan transparency score increased from 69% in 2021 to 70% in 2022. The number of dioceses posting current audited financial reports increased from 113 last year to 115 this year. The number posting a current list of Diocesan Finance Council members increased significantly from 84 to 95. All five top-scoring dioceses this year received a score of 100%.

Those dioceses are Charleston, South Carolina; Lexington, Kentucky; Orlando, Florida; Rochester, New York; and Scranton, Pennsylvania. All of them are small to mid-sized dioceses, demonstrating that size and financial resources are not key to achieving financial transparency.

The next three highest scoring dioceses are Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 99%; Belleville, Illinois, 98%; and Stockton, California, 97%.

The dioceses with the most improved scores from 2021 to 2022 are Allentown, Pennsylvania, 20% to 79%; Nashville, Tennessee, 20% to 77%; Covington, Kentucky, 50% to 96%; and Denver, Colorado, 51% to 68%.

The lowest scoring diocese are Springfield, Massachusetts, 25%; Colorado Springs, Colorado, 22%; El Paso, Texas, 22%; Tulsa, Oklahoma, 20%; and St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, 7%.

VOTF’s sixth annual review of all 177 dioceses comprising the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops was conducted during the summer of 2022 by three independent reviewers and their report, “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2022 Report,” and all previous VOTF reports on diocesan online financial transparency can be read by clicking here. Links to VOTF’s previous five diocesan online transparency reports can be read by clicking here.

VOTF 2022 reviewers again emphasized that, “Every Catholic shares in the responsibility to ensure that funds donated for Church work actually go toward those purposes. Without access to financial reports and information on Diocesan Finance Councils, budgets, and the overall financial health of a diocese, ordinary Catholics cannot exercise their full responsibility of stewardship or verify where their donations to the diocese go.”

And again, most emphatically, if the Church had been transparent about payments made to silence victims of clergy sexual abuse, the “horror of clergy sexual abuse,” although not prevented, “would have been reported, not covered up, and abusers would have been called to account for their crimes. Victims of serial abusers would have been protected.”


Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.

, , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Exclusive: Pope Francis denounces polarization, talks women’s ordination, the U.S. bishops and more / America: The Jesuit Review

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

America: The Jesuit Review

“Pope Francis: Thank you for coming!

Matt Malone, S.J.: Holy Father, America magazine was founded by the Jesuits in 1909, and we’ve been published continuously since. This is our first opportunity to speak face to face with a pope, and we’re very grateful. The first thing that is on the mind of our readers, that surprises them, is that you always seem joyful, happy, even amid crises and troubles. What is it that makes you so joyful, so peaceful and happy in your ministry?

“I didn’t know that I am always like that. I am joyful when I am with people—always. One of the things I find most difficult as pope is not being able to walk on the street with the people, because here one cannot go out; it is impossible to walk on the street. But I would not say that I am happy because I am healthy, or because I eat well, or because I sleep well, or because I pray a great deal. I am happy because I feel happy, God makes me happy. I don’t have anything to blame on the Lord, not even when bad things happen to me. Nothing. Throughout my life, he has always guided me on his path, sometimes in difficult moments, but there is always the assurance that one does not walk alone. I have that assurance. He is always at my side. One has one’s faults, also one’s sins; I go to confession every 15 days—I do not know, that is just how I am.”

By The Editors at America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

, , , , ,

Leave a comment

Maryland finds that for hundreds of clergy abuse victims, ‘No parish was safe’ / The New York Times

More than 20 state attorneys general have initiated investigations, most of which are still underway … The scale of the abuse outlined is on par with other large abuse cases uncovered in lawsuits and other investigations in dioceses in Boston, Los Angeles, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

The New York Times

“The attorney general of Maryland has identified more than 600 young victims of clergy sexual abuse over the course of 80 years in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, according to a court document filed Thursday (Nov. 17).

“The filing, which broadly outlines the attorney general’s findings, requests that a judge allow the release of the full report: a 456-page document detailing decades of clergy sex abuse in Maryland.

“The new report marks a symbolic milestone in the long-running international abuse scandal that has shaken faith in the Catholic Church and led to some reforms and billions of dollars in settlements. The Baltimore report is one of the first major investigations completed by a state attorney general on sexual abuse in the Church since a scathing report on six dioceses in Pennsylvania shocked Catholics across the nation in 2018. Colorado investigators issued their own report in 2019 on church abuse.”

By Ruth Graham, The New York Times — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Nov. 18, 2022

Nov. 18, 2022

TOP STORIES

French cardinal says he abused 14-year-old girl 35 years ago
“Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, one of France’s highest-ranking prelates of the Catholic Church, said Monday (Nov. 7) that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago and is withdrawing from his religious duties. The move comes after a report issued last year revealed a large number of child sex abuse cases within the French Catholic Church. ‘Thirty-five years ago, when I was a priest, I behaved in a reprehensible way with a young girl aged 14,’ Ricard said in a written statement.” By Associated Press on Cruxnow.com

The abuse crisis should be the center of the pope’s ongoing synodal process
“As American Jesuit historian Fr. John O’Malley wrote in one of his last articles published in America magazine last February, the history of synodality is older than you think. There are different phases in the history of the synodal institution and way to govern the church: from the very early church to the medieval times to early modern Catholicism. The current phase is part of what Vatican II had in mind for church reform: a mix of aggiornamento (or updating in light of new issues) and of ressourcement (taking a fresh look at the ancient sources of the Christian tradition). At the same time, the current synodal process initiated by Pope Francis’ pontificate cannot be understood outside of the epoch-changing abuse crisis in the Catholic Church …” By Massimo Faggioli and Hans Zollner, S.J., National Catholic Reporter

What the synod heard from Catholics worldwide
“This week on ‘Inside the Vatican,’ producer Ricardo da Silva, S.J., joins host Colleen Dulle and veteran Vatican correspondent Gerard O’Connell for a roundtable discussion on what stood out in the synod document. Ricardo was struck by how the report presented feedback in the respondents’ words, including quotes from more than 70 countries, and how it raised issues that had previously been taboo. Gerry, on the other hand, thinks little was surprising in the report, and emphasizes how the document was to be read ‘with the eyes of the disciple.’ Colleen describes how the report pulled no punches when discussing sexism in the church.” By Colleen Dulle, Inside the Vatican, America: The Jesuit Review

Pope: ‘Every time a woman comes in to do a job in the Vatican, things get better’
“A society that does not give women the same rights and opportunities as men will become impoverished, Pope Francis said at the end of a four-day visit to Bahrain. ‘Women are a gift,’ he said. After God made man, he didn’t create ‘a lapdog for him to play with. No, he created two who are equal, a man and a woman.’ ‘All the rights of women stem from this equality,’ he said, and a society that is not able to make room for women ‘does not move forward.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

ACCOUNTABILITY

Former Pope Benedict to mount legal defense over abuse cover-up accusation
“Former Pope Benedict XVI plans to defend himself in a civil lawsuit lodged at a German court by a man who accuses him of helping to cover up historical abuse, a court spokesperson said on Tuesday (Nov. 8). In the latest twist in a long-running scandal engulfing the Catholic Church, a so-called declaratory action was brought in June on behalf of a man, then 38-years old, who said he was abused by a priest as a child.” By Reuters

Vatican shocked over French bishops’ abuse scandal: Officials in rome are beginning to acknowledge that the rules of secrecy surrounding canon law may need to be revised
“Was Pope Francis aware – before the French Bishops’ Conference (CEF) announced it this week – that 11 bishops in France are currently under civil or canonical investigation for committing or covering-up sexual abuse? When the 85-year-old pope was asked about the abuse cases during an inflight press conference on his return from Bahrain on Sunday (Nov. 6), he did not say so. However, he reiterated yet again that the Church is trying to ‘clarify everything.’ ‘There are people within the Church who still do not see this clearly, who do not agree with this… It is a process that we are undertaking and we are carrying it out with courage, and not everyone has courage,’ Francis said.” By Loup Besmond de Senneville, LaCroix International

Pope Francis accepts resignation of German bishop found guilty of embezzlement
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (Nov. 9) accepted the resignation of a German bishop who was convicted of embezzling money from a woman suffering from dementia. A German court found Auxiliary Bishop Johannes Bündgens of Aachen guilty of misappropriating 128,000 euros (about $128,000). Bündgens was sentenced to nine months suspended jail time and a 5,000-euro fine, CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, reported.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

French cardinal’s admission renews scrutiny of church sexual abuse
“ A cardinal’s admission that he had behaved ‘reprehensibly’ with a 14-year-old girl over three decades ago was one of several revelations that threw a gathering of French bishops into turmoil this week, renewing scrutiny of sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church in France a little over a year after a landmark report on the pervasiveness of the issue. The admission of wrongdoing this week by Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, 78, who retired in 2019 after 18 years as the archbishop of Bordeaux, was one of two recent revelations that have stunned the Catholic community in France.” By Aurelien Breeden, The New York Times

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

CELAM document confronts the challenges of synodality
“The English text of the final document from the first Ecclesial Assembly for Latin America and the Caribbean has been released. This November 2021 meeting, convoked by CELAM, the continent-wide episcopal conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, was called an ‘ecclesial assembly’ rather than a ‘synod’ because it did not exclusively include bishops. That said, it placed itself in the direct lineage of CELAM meetings starting in Rio de Janeiro in 1955 …. For those unfamiliar with that history, the new text provides a useful historical account of the trajectory from Rio de Janeiro up to today.” By Michael Sean Winter, National Catholic Reporter

Submission portal opens for next Synod of Bishops phase
“Groups across Australia are now able to participate in the latest discernment process for the global Synod on Synodality, reflecting on the recently-published Working Document for the Continental Stage. The document, which was drawn from local and national consultation processes undertaken around the world, was published in late October. Capturing what the People of God said during the first year of the Synod journey, the document is designed to enable deeper discernment on the overall question of how the Church is ‘journeying together.’” By CathNews.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis says Catholic Church fighting child abuse ‘as best we can’
“Pope Francis said Sunday (Nov. 6) that the Catholic church was working ‘as best we can’ to fight clerical child abuse but admitted there were shortfalls. During a press conference on a plane while returning from Bahrain, where he had been promoting dialogue with Islam, the pontiff said child abuse inside the Church was a ‘tragic thing.’ ‘We are working as best we can, but there are people within the Church who don’t see it clearly,’ the 85-year-old Argentinian admitted on the return flight to Rome.” By Agence France-Presse on NDTBV.com

BISHOPS

U.S. bishops elect Broglio, archbishop for Military Services, as new president
“The U.S. Catholic bishops’ conference on Nov. 15 elected Archbishop Timothy Broglio, a former Vatican diplomat who has supported religious exemptions for coronavirus vaccines and has blamed gay priests for the clergy abuse crisis, as their new president. Broglio, who as the archbishop for the Military Services is essentially the nation’s chief Catholic chaplain, garnered 138 votes on the third round of voting at the bishops’ plenary assembly in Baltimore. He needed 119 votes, a majority of the 237 total votes cast.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Bishops elect anti-Francis archbishop as new president
“The U.S. bishops have sent a clear message of rejection to Pope Francis by selecting Archbishop Timothy Broglio, who heads the Archdiocese for the Military Services, as president of the bishops’ conference. The bishops’ choice of new leadership revealed the deeper ecclesiological orientation of the body. They had to decide if they wanted to be a part of the ongoing reception of the Second Vatican Council in the context of the magisterium of Pope Francis, or not, a choice made all the more obvious by the success of the synodal process so far.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Pope says women’s rights fight is ‘continuous struggle,’ condemns mutilation
“Pope Francis said on Sunday (Nov. 6) the fight for women’s rights was a ‘continuous struggle,’ and condemned male chauvinism as deadly for humanity and female genital mutilation as a crime that must be stopped. Speaking to reporters on the plane returning from a four-day trip to predominantly Muslim Bahrain, he also praised women he has appointed to managerial jobs in the Vatican, saying they had improved things there. He made no mention of campaigns to let women move on beyond that and become clergy – the pope and his predecessors have said the question of women priests is closed.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Women must be included in formation of priests, says abuse expert
“One of the church’s leading experts on safeguarding and clerical sexual abuse has said the exclusion of women from seminary formation has had ‘extremely harmful consequences,’ and this ‘needs to change.’ Jesuit Father Hans Zollner told more than 200 people at a ‘Stolen Lives’ webinar that ‘the role of women has been to clean up the mess that men have made.’ The webinar was organized by the Root & Branch lay reform movement in Britain in conjunction with Survivor Voices and Scottish Laity Network. Zollner said he regretted that workshops on safeguarding are attended mostly by women. ‘It seems that men are not only in the great majority responsible for the big mess and the hurt, but they also run away from facing that reality.’” By Sarah MacDonald, Cruxnow.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Vatican child protection leader: ‘Building credibility needs a track record’
“Fr. Andrew Small was appointed in June to one of the most important positions in the Catholic Church’s fight against abuse. The English priest was named secretary of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors pro tempore (‘for the time being’) at a significant moment of transition for the body founded by Pope Francis in 2014. The decree establishing the commission eight years ago defined its ‘specific task’ as advising the pope on ‘the most opportune initiatives for protecting minors and vulnerable adults.’” By Luke Coppen, The Pillar

VATICAN

Vatican affirms it is opening abuse investigation of French cardinal
“The Vatican has decided to open an investigation into French Cardinal Jean-Pierre Ricard, the retired archbishop of Bordeaux, who admitted in a public letter that he had abused a 14-year-old girl 35 years ago. ‘As a result of the elements that have emerged in the last few days and the statement made by the cardinal, in order to complete the examination of what happened, it has been decided to initiate an ‘investigatio praevia,’ or preliminary investigation,’ Matteo Bruni, director of the Vatican press office, said Nov. 11.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

CHURCH FINANCES

Ex-Vatican auditor, threatening to reveal all, sues church, alleging damage to his reputation
“Former Vatican financial auditor Libero Milone filed suit on Friday (Nov. 4) against the Vatican Secretariat of State, demanding the Catholic Church pay for damages to his reputation that he alleges followed his unceremonious firing in 2017. At a meeting on Tuesday (Nov. 8) arranged by his lawyer, Milone told reporters that Cardinal Angelo Becciu, once the third-highest-ranking official at the Vatican, was ‘the mastermind of the so-called operation eject-Milone.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

New Orleans priest accused of child rape now under scrutiny for financial crimes
“A Catholic priest who led one of New Orleans’ best-known inner-city churches until being accused of sexually molesting a child has been reported to federal authorities for possible financial crimes after an audit found he spent nearly $400,000 of his congregants’ money in questionable ways. John Asare-Dankwah ran the St Peter Claver church in New Orleans’ historic Treme neighborhood from 2014 until early 2021, when a lawsuit alleging that he raped a boy on an out-of-state overnight trip years earlier prompted church officials to indefinitely suspend him from his role.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian

VOICES

Old Latin Mass finds new American audience, despite Pope’s disapproval|
“Eric Agustin’s eight children used to call the first day of the week ‘Party Sunday.’ The family would wake up, attend a short morning Mass at a Catholic parish near their house, then head home for lunch and an afternoon of relaxing and watching football. But this summer, the family made a ‘big switch,’ one of his teenage sons said on a recent Sunday afternoon outside St. Joseph Shrine, the family’s new parish. At St. Joseph, the liturgy is ornate, precisely choreographed and conducted entirely in Latin. The family drives an hour round trip to attend a service that starts at 11 a.m. and can last almost two hours.” By Ruth Graham, The New York Times

No longer the bishops’ Church? Catholicism’s episcopal crisis
“There is little question about the importance of this fall’s plenary meeting of the USCCB. For one thing, the conference’s vice president, Detroit Archbishop Allen Vigneron, will not be the favorite in the presidential election because he won’t be a candidate … For another, it’s the first plenary since the Supreme Court overturned Roe. Finally, the new leadership will be at the helm through the 2024 U.S. presidential election, when we may learn how much American Catholic support there is for American democracy. But this bishops’ meeting is important on a deeper level as well. It comes as the Catholic Church is on its way to being, in some ways, a ‘post-episcopal’ Church—no longer a bishops’ Church. And that will likely have a dramatic impact on how Catholicism may influence and interact with American social and political values.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Essay: Can Pope Francis survive the scheming of ‘the schismatics’?
“‘The schismatics’ is not the name of a new Broadway musical, but it might as well be. Some senior cardinals, deeply unhappy with the 2021-2022 round of the Catholic Church’s worldwide Synod on Synodality, seem to want the entire project to go away. It will not. The synod is projected to be a new-old way of being ‘church,’ a permanent recovery of how the church began and grew. Francis plans it as a change that will outlast his papacy. Even so, too many Catholics still have no idea what ‘synodality’ means. No matter what the naysayers say, it is not a parliamentary event to vote on doctrinal matters of faith and morals. Rooted in the teachings and process of the Second Vatican Council, synodality is understood as ‘walking together’ – a coming to consensus – about the renewal begun following Vatican II.” By Phyllis Zagano, Sight Magazine

Links: ‘Voices of Vatican II’; synodal spirituality; a Festival of Faiths
“Catholic News Service has done a wonderful thing, collecting commentary from those who participated in the Second Vatican Council and producing a 48-minute video. My favorite story came from Cardinal Paul Poupard, who had been a theological adviser at the council. He recalled someone approaching Boston Cardinal Richard Cushing, ‘who was known to have a knack for scaring up money.’ They asked him to pay for simultaneous translation so people could understand New York Cardinal Francis Spellman. Cushing reportedly replied, ‘It’s not worth it; we don’t understand him even when he’s speaking American.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

How Vatican II failed Catholics – and Catholicism
“A couple of years ago at a party, I fell into a conversation with a friendly older gentleman, an Irish American of the baby boom generation and the greater tristate area. At some point, the discussion turned to family life and the challenges of dragging complaining kids to church, and I said something in passing about the Sunday obligation, meaning the requirement laid on Catholics to attend Mass, on pain of serious sin. He looked at me with a friendly sort of mystification. ‘Oh,’ he said, ‘but you know the church got rid of that after Vatican II’ … But I think about that encounter, and others like it, as intensely relevant to my column from a few weeks ago — on the failure of the Second Vatican Council to equip the church for the challenges of late modernity, the way its reforms aimed at resilience but led to crisis and diminishment instead.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

Women are now the Catholic church’s last hope
“A church must reflect the world in which it lives in order to thrive. In the Ireland of the past, that wasn’t a problem for the Catholic church. It shaped Irish society in its own image. These days that is not how things work. The church has lost the power to enforce its edicts unchallenged, and can only survive with the consent of those in the pews — and there are fewer of them now than ever before. The altar is looking equally sparse. That’s why Fr Seán Sheehy found himself on the roster to serve mass at St Mary’s Church is Listowel, Co Kerry, last weekend.” By Editorial Board of Independent.ie

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

UN sets November 18 as day o spotlight child sexual abuse
“The U.N. General Assembly approved a resolution Monday (Nov.7) establishing November 18th as a day to spotlight the sexual exploitation and abuse of children. The day also will be used to stress the need for prevention, for perpetrators to be brought to justice, and for victims to be given a voice as part of the long process of healing. The resolution, which was sponsored by Sierra Leone and Nigeria and co-sponsored by more than 110 countries, was adopted by consensus and a bang of the gavel by the assembly’s acting president, which was greeted with loud applause.” By Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press

Catholic Church must bring abusers to justice
“It is vital that the Catholic Church, non-government organizations (NGOs), development agencies, and government put children at the heart of national and religious concerns. The Church and clergy must remember and act constantly on the teaching of Jesus of Nazareth when he made children the center of importance in the kingdom. ‘Whoever welcomes in my name one such child as this, welcomes me,’ he said.” By Fr. Shay Cullen, UCANews.com

ILLINOIS

Priest accused of sexually abusing 7-year-old missing from Chicago Archdiocese list, lawyers say
“The Archdiocese of Chicago last month doubled the length of a list of priests credibly accused of sex abuse, but lawyers for a man who received a six-figure payout from the church last year say the list is missing the name of Fr. George Clements. Clements, a civil rights activist who led the congregation of Holy Angels Church in Bronzeville for more than two decades, stepped down from the ministry at the request of Archbishop Blase Cupich in 2019, after he was accused of sexual abuse dating back to the 1970s.” By Andy Grim, Sun-Times Media Wire

INDIANA

Suspended Indianapolis priest get home detention in teen sex abuse case
“A judge on Wednesday (Nov. 9) sentenced suspended Indianapolis priest David Marcotte to a year on home detention under a plea agreement that ends his trial on allegations he sexually abused a teenage boy six years ago. During a hearing in Hamilton Superior Court, Judge Jonathan M. Brown addressed the teary-eyed parents of the victim as he accepted a plea agreement they both begged him to reject.” By Rick Rychaert, WRTV-TV News

MARYLAND

Maryland attorney general’s investigation of child sexual abuse in Catholic Archdiocese of Baltimore nears completion
“The Maryland Attorney General’s Office’s four-year investigation into the Archdiocese of Baltimore’s history of child sexual abuse at the hands of Catholic priests is almost finished. A spokesperson for Attorney General Brian Frosh told The Baltimore Sun the investigation is ‘nearing completion,’ but declined to share details … In 2018, the office issued a grand jury subpoena to the archdiocese for records, and Archbishop William E. Lori told clergy the state was investigating. Ultimately, the archdiocese turned over more than 100,000 pages of documents to Wolf and Special Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Embry.” By Lee O. Sanderlin and Jonathan M. Pitts, The Baltimore Sun

MASSACHUSETTS

Priest indicted on child rape, assault and battery charges
“A Roman Catholic priest from Massachusetts accused of sexually assaulting a child more than a decade ago has been indicted by a grand jury on forcible child rape and indecent assault and battery charges, authorities said Tuesday. Monsignor Francis Strahan, 89, assaulted an altar boy on two occasions from 2004 until 2008 when the boy was between the ages of 11 and 13, according to a joint statement from Middlesex District Attorney Marian Ryan and Framingham police Chief Lester Baker.” By Associated Press

NEW YORK.

Bishop addresses clergy abuse settlement during Penfield mass
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese reached a $55 million settlement with over 400 survivors of sexual abuse earlier this week. Bishop Salvatore Matano addressed the settlement during Sunday (Nov. 7) mass at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Penfield, the first weekend since the proposed settlement was announced. In his remarks, the bishop again acknowledged the pain of those impacted. ‘The greatest of Challenges has been over past decades, where our church is plagued by a crisis so very painful. Painful to you my sisters and brothers. How necessary it is that I always in every way and whenever possible express my deep sorrow and express my apology to those so violated by those that whom they had put their trust and believed they were ministers of the lord,’ said Salvatore Matano, Bishop of Rochester Diocese.” By WHAM-TV13 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Panel explores how sexual abuse survivors can help church to heal
“Praising clergy sexual abuse survivors for their courage in bringing their painful experiences to light, a panel of current or former diocesan victim assistance coordinators urged the Catholic community to enter into ‘radical accompaniment’ with abuse victims to promote long-lasting healing. Such healing is needed not only for abuse survivors but for clergy and parishioners alike, the coordinators agreed during an online program Nov. 9 marking 20 years of the ‘Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.’” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Priest found not guilty of molesting 8-year-old boy at Plum church in 1998
“A Catholic priest in the Pittsburgh Diocese accused of molesting an 8-year-old boy at a Plum church in 1998 has been found not guilty. Court records show jurors returned the not-guilty verdict of aggravated indecent assault in the case against Father Robert Cedolia Monday (Nov. 14). Cedolia was placed on administrative leave in 2019 after the allegation was made against him through the Reconciliation and Compensation Program for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.” By WTAE-TV4 News

TENNESSEE

Alleged victim files second lawsuit against local Catholic priest
“A woman who alleges a Catholic priest in Gatlinburg sexually battered her in 2020 has filed a second lawsuit against the Knoxville diocese and the priest himself. The ‘Jane Doe’ plaintiff filed the complaint Nov. 10 in U.S. District Court in Knoxville. Earlier this year an attorney on her behalf filed a lawsuit in Sevier County that was subsequently non-suited. As a result of the woman’s accusations, Antony D. Punnackal faces indictment on two counts of sexual battery in Sevier County Criminal Court.” By WBIR-TV10 News

TEXAS

Former Pine Haven priest believed to be removed from Houston ministry
“A priest in the Somascan Order has apparently been removed from his post as pastor at a Houston parish after several New Hampshire lawsuits allege sexual abuse at the Somascan-run home Pine Haven home for troubled boys in Allenstown. Fr. Albert Zanatta, a member of the Somascan order who once served at Pine Haven, is still listed on the Houston Assumption Parish website as the pastor, though recent editions of the parish weekly bulletin indicate he is no longer serving in that capacity.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org

AUSTRALIA

Catholic church pressuring alleged victims of dead pedophile priests to accept ‘paltry’ payouts, lawyers say
“The Catholic church has adopted an increasingly aggressive approach to alleged victims of now-dead pedophile priests, using recent rulings to pressure survivors to accept ‘paltry amounts’ or risk having their claims permanently blocked, lawyers say. In June, the New South Wales courts permanently stayed a civil claim brought by a survivor, known as GLJ, who alleged horrific abuse at the hands of Father Clarence Anderson in Lismore in 1968 when she was 14. The court ruled there could not be a fair trial because Anderson was dead, leaving the church unable to properly respond to the survivor’s allegations.” By Christopher Knaus, The Guardian

Ex-Catholic brother faces child sex charge
“A former Catholic brother has been committed to stand trial on a child sexual charge after a court heard his alleged victim struggled for months to sign a police statement. Frank Terrence Keating, 80, on Monday appeared at a Brisbane committal hearing via video link charged with one count of carnal knowledge of a child. Prosecutors allege Keating committed the offence north of Brisbane in 1989.” By Laine Clark, The Times

CANADA

Sexual abuse survivors launch national day to encourage others to speak up
“For 20 years, Richard Jabara lived with the memory of his abuse — then he read an article that would change his life. His family had moved to Australia from the United States. Originally settling in Queensland, they eventually made the journey south to Melbourne. In Melbourne, Mr Jabara was groomed and raped by a Catholic priest … In Good Faith, chief executive Clare Leaney said a national day would help destigmatize the experience of survivors.” By Lucy MacDonald, ABC News

$10M settlement approved for sexul abuse survivors of Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth
“The Supreme Court of Nova Scotia approved a $10-million settlement Monday (Nov. 14) for survivors of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests in the Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth. The class-action lawsuit was brought by people who allege sexual abuse by priests dating back nearly 70 years. The lead plaintiff in the action, 62-year-old Steven Gallant, said no amount of money could make up for the lifelong burden of being a sexual abuse victim.” By CBC News

He abused dozens of Indigenous children in Ontario. But did Jesuit priest’s legacy begin in Montreal?
“As a Jesuit priest in Ontario, George Epoch sexually abused dozens of children in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. But Epoch’s abuse allegedly dates back even earlier, to the 1950s, when he taught at Loyola High School, a private Catholic school in Montreal. Two students who were part of Epoch’s 1957-58 preparatory class told CBC News the priest inappropriately touched them. Alfred Martijn describes that year as a miserable one, filled with fear and unease. In those days, it was mandatory for the prep students to be boarders, so it was difficult to elude Epoch.” By Leah Hendry, CBC News

Former Coquitlam parish priest accused of sexual abuse
“A woman who alleges she was sexually groomed and abused as a child in the mid 1970s while attending Our Lady of Fatima Church in Coquitlam is suing a number of Catholic Church entities. The archdiocese of Vancouver and several other institutions associated with Chevrier’s work history are also named as defendants. L.V.’s lawsuit asserts that she had the inherent right to live out her childhood and youth ‘unaffected by the unhealthy, unsafe, and immoral interference and public nuisance of predatorial and systematic sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy.’” By Patrick Pennier, Vancouver Sun

P.E.I police seek other alleged victims as Catholic priest is charged with sex crimes
“A retired Roman Catholic priest is facing multiple sexual assault charges stemming from alleged incidents on P.E.I. in the 1990s. On May 17, 2022, police were told about several alleged sexual assaults involving a person who was a minor at the time and a man who is now 69. The incidents are alleged to have occurred between 1990 and 2010 in Summerside, P.E.I., according to the RCMP. When Summerside Police Services started investigating, it learned offences had also allegedly happened in other areas of the Island, according to a news release from the force.” By Alex Macisaac, CTV News Atlantic

FRANCE

French priest indicted for aggravated rape of a minor in Paris
“A French priest has been indicted in Paris for the aggravated rape of a teenager he reportedly met on the gay dating app, Grindr. The indicted priest who officiated over the parish at the church of Saint-Louis-Marie in Brocéliande in Brittany, is suspected of having drugged a 15-year-old he met on a dating application on 3 November, before raping him in a Parisian hotel room.” By RFI.fr

French bishops note anger over case of abusive bishop allowed to retire
“The French bishops’ conference overhauled its agenda for its November plenary meeting to deal with ‘the anger, shame, powerlessness (and) incomprehension’ they and their people felt after discovering that a bishop allowed by the Vatican to retire actually was disciplined for sexual abuse. Archbishop Eric de Moulins-Beaufort of Reims, president of the bishops’ conference, announced the changed agenda Nov. 3 and urged his fellow bishops to have as their first concern ‘the victims, those who spoke out two years ago and more recently, and those, perhaps, who have not yet made themselves known.’” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Catholic Primate speaks of ‘crying need for atonement’ over child abuse
“There is ‘a crying need for atonement, inner healing and hope in the aftermath of the abuse scandals,’ Catholic Primate Eamon Martin has said. He sometimes wondered, he said, ‘why it is that, when we were studying theology here [in Maynooth] in the 1980s, we didn’t anticipate what was about to happen in the Church – perhaps we should have; was it because, in our studying and reading of theology and philosophy, we didn’t engage enough in open discussion and dialogue, or really grapple with the big questions of the day for the Church and its mission?’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

Horrors of Irish priests’ sexual abuse scandal continue to be uncovered
Religious orders in Ireland continue to be flooded with allegations of historic abuse in schools throughout the country. The Jesuit congregation of Ireland has received 149 allegations of abuse against 43 Jesuit priests, paying out €7.4 million in compensation to the 78 people it has reached a settlement with. A spokeswoman for the congregation told the Irish Times that she expects further allegations to be made against Jesuit members in the coming months, especially after the introduction of a redress scheme in January 2022.” By IrishCentral

NEW ZEALAND

Abuse in care inquiry: Survivor condemns lack of ‘genuine repentance’ from churches in final hearing
“A survivor of abuse says churches have missed a golden opportunity to really reflect on how Aotearoa-New Zealand came to have such an appalling record of abuse of people in care. Faith-based organizations were given a chance to respond at the recent final public hearing of the Royal Commission in to Abuse in care. Jacinda Thompson suffered sexual harassment by her Anglican minister in the early 2000’s, and she has given evidence to the inquiry. She said that while abuse itself was condemned, most church leaders failed to accept responsibility for allowing it to flourish in the first place.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

PHILIPPINES

Filipino priest arrested for abusing church volunteer
“The recent arrest of a Filipino priest for alleged sexual molestation and blackmail of a 16-year-old church volunteer has come as a surprise for the Archdiocese of Tuguegarao in the northern Philippines. Father Karole Reward Israel, 29, a newly ordained cleric who received his assignment sometime in May 2021, has been stripped of his priestly functions pending investigations and a trial. ‘The archdiocese will fully cooperate with the prosecution service towards the conduct of an unbiased preliminary investigation and will also extend its assistance to our priest,’ the archdiocese said in a statement.” By UCANews.com

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

The abuse crisis should be the center of the pope’s ongoing synodal process / National Catholic Reporter

It has become evident that it is no longer an option to ignore, dismiss, belittle, or remain bystanders with regard to cases of abuse, especially in the church. Abuse of any type — sexual, spiritual, abuse of power and/or authority — blatantly contradicts the fundamental dignity of every human being.

Massimo Faggioli and Hans Zollner, S.J., National Catholic Reporter

“As American Jesuit historian Fr. John O’Malley wrote in one of his last articles published in America magazine last February, the history of synodality is older than you think. There are different phases in the history of the synodal institution and way to govern the church: from the very early church to the medieval times to early modern Catholicism. The current phase is part of what Vatican II had in mind for church reform: a mix of aggiornamento (or updating in light of new issues) and of ressourcement (taking a fresh look at the ancient sources of the Christian tradition).

“At the same time, the current synodal process initiated by Pope Francis’ pontificate cannot be understood outside of the epoch-changing abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, one of the “signs of the times” the pastoral constitution Gaudium et Spes of Vatican II talks about: ‘the Church has always had the duty of scrutinizing the signs of the times and of interpreting them in the light of the Gospel.’ The fact is that now it is no longer the church scrutinizing the signs of the times in the light of the Gospel. It is also the signs of the times — beginning with the voices of victims and survivors of abuse — scrutinizing the church in the light of the Gospel.

“It has become evident that it is no longer an option to ignore, dismiss, belittle, or remain bystanders with regard to cases of abuse, especially in the church. Abuse of any type — sexual, spiritual, abuse of power and/or authority — blatantly contradicts the fundamental dignity of every human being. This recognition of the terror of abuse is part of a long-term process of knowing and understanding at a sociocultural and political level (public opinion, legislation, the justice system), but also at the communal level as Catholic community (which is much larger than just the number of those who after baptism participate sacramentally in the life of the church).”

By Massimo Faggioli and Hans Zollner, S.J., National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Nov. 4, 2022

Nov. 4, 2022

TOP STORIES

Commission starts planning global report on child protection efforts
“With a renewed membership, the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors met at the Vatican in late October and laid the groundwork for devising an annual report on child protection efforts by the Catholic Church globally. Oblate Father Andrew Small, commission secretary, told reporters Oct. 28 that members also looked at the commission’s new relationship to the disciplinary section of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith and continued their efforts to promote greater transparency and fuller reporting to victims about the outcome of their cases.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Voice of the Faithful celebrates 20-year anniversary
“Voice of the Faithful (VOTF) members from across the U.S. gathered on Saturday, October 29, at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel in Newton, Massachusetts, to celebrate the organization’s 20th anniversary. VOTF is a lay organization of faithful Catholics with more than 30,000 members worldwide. VOTF president Mary Pat Fox opened the day by reflecting on the group’s history and ongoing mission. Referencing the founding vision of VOTF, Fox said, ‘It took a lot of work and a lot of listening to come up with such a beautiful mission statement and goals that have stood the test of time.’” By Michael Centore, Today’s American Catholic

Catholic Diocese of Buffalo will submit to government oversight
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has agreed to submit to sweeping government oversight of its operations in a legal settlement reached on Tuesday (Oct. 25) with the New York attorney general, Letitia James, resolving a lawsuit that accused the church and its officials of a yearslong cover-up of sexual abuse. The agreement, which is the first of its kind in New York, includes no financial penalties but instead mandates a series of structural reforms within the diocese, particularly regarding its handling of abuse allegations.” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

The seal of Confession could be latest casualty of sex abuse crisis
“A new report in the United Kingdom is recommending legislation that will mandate the reporting of child abuse, and specifically says no exemptions should be given for sacramental confession, which could lead to a clash with a central tenet of Catholic teaching. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) in England and Wales was announced by the British government in 2014 to examine how the country’s institutions handled their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse.” By Charles Collins, Cruxnow.com

New Vatican synod document mentions women’s ordination, LGBTQ relationships
“A newly released Vatican document for the next phase of Pope Francis’ ongoing consultation process for the world’s Catholics reckons with a number of topics once considered taboo in the Catholic Church, including women’s ordination, LGBTQ relationships, children of priests, sexism and clergy sexual abuse. The 45-page document, released on Oct. 27, distills a number of the major themes from listening sessions held with millions of Catholics across the globe over the last year. While the document is careful to note that it is not magisterial church teaching, it is arguably the most comprehensive and candid expression of the Catholic Church’s relationship with the modern world yet released by a Vatican office.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

Laws requiring ministers of religioin to report child sexual abuse come into effect
Ministers of religion are now legally required to report information about child sexual abuse, including information gained in confession. The changes are part of new laws introduced by the McGowan Government and come into effect today (Nov. 1). Failure to make a mandatory report is an offence with a maximum penalty of $6,000. A minister of religion will not be excused from criminal responsibility for failing to make a report because their belief is based on information disclosed during a religious confession.” By Government of Western Australia

Catholic Church in England and Wales will ‘carefully study’ abuse report recommendations
“The Catholic Church in England and Wales has said it will ‘carefully study’ the contents of a national report concerning sexual abuse, which recommends that reporting abuse to the police should be made mandatory, even if perpetrators admit to child abuse while confessing to a priest. The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) released its report on Oct. 20 after seven years of investigation and evidence-gathering.” By Catholic News Agency

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Catholic leaders want Latin American church that’s synodal, reaches out
“The church in Latin America and the Caribbean is called to be a missionary church that heeds the cry of the poor and excluded; a synodal church where women, young people and laypeople have greater roles; and a church that is evangelized even as it evangelizes, according to the final document of the church’s First Ecclesial Assembly held a year ago in Mexico. The document of reflections and pastoral challenges resulting from the assembly was released by leaders of the Latin American bishops’ council, CELAM, Oct. 31 during a news conference at the Vatican.” By Barbara Fraser, Catholic News Service

I helped write the first global synod document. Here’s what we heard from Catholics around the world.
“At the end of our first day in Frascati in late September, struck by the solemnity of the task that faced us, I messaged a friend to say that many of my fellow ‘experts’ felt the hand of history and the weight of responsibility on our shoulders. ‘I hope you’re keeping a diary,’ my friend pinged back. I didn’t just mean the pressure to create, in two short weeks, a document that harvested the fruits of the greatest-ever exercise in listening and consultation the Catholic Church has ever carried out. It was more solemn than that. As Cardinal Mario Grech, the general secretary of the Synod of Bishops, had told us that morning, we were on res sacra, holy ground.” By Austen Ivereigh, America, The Jesuit Review

Synod organizers sell process as cementing Catholicism as church of ‘both/and/
“Retired Pope Benedict XVI once famously said in an address to a group of clergy that the inherent beauty of Catholicism is ‘the religion of the great ‘both/and,’ meaning there is space for everyone. Speaking to priests from the Italian dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso in 2007, Benedict was told by one of the veteran priests in attendance that while in seminary, he had been chastised by a spiritual director for enjoying soccer more than Eucharistic adoration, and he wanted Benedict’s opinion. In response, Benedict said that ‘Catholicism, a little simplistically, has always been considered the religion of the great ‘both/and,’ not of great exclusions, but of syntheses. ‘Catholic’ means precisely ‘synthesis.’” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Synod document ‘genuine voice of the People of God’
“Australian Synod on Synodality advisor Susan Pascoe has told a meeting of Asian bishops that Pope Francis has been personally involved in the preparation work for the next stage of the Synod process. Ms. Pascoe, who is an adjunct professor at the University of Western Australia, yesterday (Oct. 26) addressed the Federation of Asian Bishops Conferences general conference in Bangkok, Thailand. She updated FABC delegates on the Synod process, summing up the continental meeting that took place in Frascati, Italy, from September 21 to October 2.” By CathNews.com

Synod report reveals need for healing, signs of hope
“Area faithful say the Catholic Church in Philadelphia is in need of healing, yet remains marked by hope as well as a desire for growth, according to a new report. Earlier today, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia released its official summary of the diocesan level of the Synod on Synodality. Launched by Pope Francis in October 2021, the synod — organized around the theme of ‘communion, participation and mission’ – was initially scheduled to culminate at the 15th Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops at the Vatican in October 2023.” By Gina Christian, CatholicPhilly.com

Groups invited to prepare for next Synod of Bishops phase
“The National Centre for Pastoral Research is inviting groups of seven to 10 people to express their interest in participating in the next round of consultation for the global Synod of Bishops on Synodality. The Document for The Continental Stage, which is drawing content provided in national syntheses from around the world, as well as contributions from Eastern Churches, religious institutes, lay movements and other groups, is due to be published soon. Once the document is released, groups – assisted by a reflection guide being produced by the national Synod of Bishops committee to support prayer, discernment and response – will be able to gather and share their feedback through an online portal.” By CathNews.com

BISHOPS

Pope Francis accepts resignation of German archbishop
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of a German archbishop on Tuesday (Nov. 1). Archbishop Ludwig Schick of Bamberg had been in charge of the Bavarian archdiocese since 2002. Schick recently came under pressure for the handling of sexual abuse cases in his diocese. The archbishop of the diocese in Southern Germany said in a statement published Nov. 1 that he had conveyed this request ‘to the pope verbally and in writing during a private audience in April of this year, explaining it thus: I have fulfilled and completed my duties in the archdiocese.’” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

New claims against French bishop reported to Vatican
“The Vatican has received a new report containing allegations against French Bishop Michel Santier, who resigned in 2021 following accusations of spiritual abuse but said publicly that he was stepping down for health reasons. Archbishop Dominique Lebrun, Santier’s metropolitan archbishop, announced on Oct. 20 that “other people” had come forward claiming that the retired bishop had committed acts against them when they were young adults.” By Luke Coppen, The Pillar

PRIESTS

7 ways to support your priest
“There’s good news in a major new survey done with US Catholic priests: the majority of them are happy in their vocation. But the study, which surveyed 3,516 priests from 191 US Catholic dioceses, also showed that many priests display signs of burnout — especially younger priests. And diocesan priests fare worse than those who belong to religious orders. Priests surveyed also said that they find significant support in their lay friends — so that should motivate us to think about how we can be better friends to the priests we know and love. We should never assume that they have the support they need, so here are a few ideas to consider.” By Aleteia.org

WOMEN’S VOICES

Role of women must be tackled ‘urgently’ in Catholic Church
“Women out of the picture: cardinals and bishops attend the closing Mass of a recent Synod of Bishops. Catholics want the role and vocation of women to be tackled urgently, according to a new report that has come out of the synodal listening process. The landmark synod report says that Catholics repeatedly express the desire for a more welcoming, inclusive Church that eradicates the misuse of power.” By Christopher Lamb, The Tablet

CHURCH FINANCES

Analysis: Vatican ‘trial of the century’ prepares for hearing of ‘super-witness’
“A key witness in the so-called Vatican finance ‘trial of the century’ will be heard at the end of November. His role — and testimony — is considered so vital to the corruption trial that some are calling him a ‘super-witness.’ Monsignor Alberto Perlasca, for 11 years a senior official in the Vatican Secretariat of State, will testify at the Vatican tribunal on Nov. 23, 24, and 25 in what is expected to be a crucial moment of the trial.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

Popes John XXIII and Francis: two ‘men in dark times’
“Published in 1968, the book ‘Men in Dark Times’ still has something to say in our time. Hannah Arendt wrote it long ago, it is true, and the work consists of a collection of essays devoted to people who lived most of their lives during the first half of the last century, with the exception of Gotthold Lessing. Yet a light shines in the lives of these people who have gone before us, given the fact that some of them never lost their integrity in the difficult settings in which they lived. For us today, this is not only a reminder of the ideological dangers that still threaten us, but also a leaven of hope in a humanity that, though often hidden, encourages us for the future.” By Andreas Lind, S.J., La Civiltà Cattolica

The Catholic opposition to Pope Francis: On Massimo Borghesi’s ‘Catholic Discordance’
“In his masterful intellectual biography,’The Mind of Pope Francis: Jorge Mario Bergoglio’s Intellectual Journey’ (2018), Italian moral philosopher Massimo Borghesi mentions in passing those American Catholics who criticize Francis for creating confusion through his supposedly vague or inconsistent doctrinal stands. Instead, Borghesi paints a complex portrait of the pope’s mind, tracing intellectual influences going back some 60 years. He shows that Francis’s remarkably coherent, nuanced, and theologically sound worldview has been shaped by many little-known sources such as the French Jesuit Gaston Fessard, Argentinian philosopher Amelia Podetti, German Italian social critic Romano Guardini, and Uruguayan journalist Alberto Methol Ferré.” By Victor Gaetan, Los Angeles Review of Books

Change is not easy in the Catholic Church, whether Vatican II or Pope Francis
“Sixty years ago, about a month after I entered the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California, the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome. No one bothered to tell the novices about it. The council went on for three years, during which I took vows and studied Latin and Greek without knowing what was happening at the council. In those pre-Vatican II days, the novitiate was what sociologists call a ‘total institution,’ completely isolated from the rest of the world, with no access to newspapers, radio or television. Except when I went to the dentist, I did not talk to a woman outside my family for four years. The idea was to insulate us from the world so we could devote ourselves to our Jesuit formation.” By Thomas Reese, National Catholic Reporter

Why I declined to join my diocesan sex abuse review board
“A report last month that a priest in suburban Chicago had been accused of sex abuse after a diocesan review board had found ‘insufficient reason to suspect’ misbehavior has raised questions about the efficacy of these special committees set up to review allegations of sex abuse by Catholic clergy. For me, it also brought to mind an invitation I received last year to join one of those boards. The call came from a priest who worked for Pittsburgh Bishop David Zubik. The bishop wanted a journalist on the board, the priest explained, and I had done good work in Catholic media.” By John W. Miller, National Catholic Reporter

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

Victims group calls Wisconsin statute of limitations archaic
“A former Wausau area priest has been accused of sexual misconduct. Reverend Mark Pierce resigned from his position with St. Michael and Church of the Resurrection, collectively known as the Eastside Parishes, after the allegation arose. A pastor’s letter dated back to May 2017, features a brief bio written by Pierce introducing himself to the parish. He describes his journey to becoming a priest. Stating he was ordained in 1981 and continued to become an associate priest in Chippewa Falls and Stevens Point.” By WAOW-TV News

Child sex abuse survivors beg Ohio lawmakers to eliminate statute of limitations
“Child sexual abuse survivors begged Ohio lawmakers last week to eliminate the statute of limitations, but no legislators attended their press conference. Advocacy group Ohioans for Child Protection say many of them never get justice, adding that Ohio’s statute of limitations actually helps prevent their abusers from being held accountable. From the age of eight to 10, Paul Neyer was repeatedly sexually abused by his Cincinnati music minister. Thirty-two years later, he began to take his life back.” By Morgan Trau, Ohio Capital Journal

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Pursuing restorative justice amid the Church’s sex abuse crisis
“More than 20 years after the Boston Globe’s Spotlight team uncovered a sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, serious wounds remain. Many victim-survivors say they are still trying to heal. Some Catholics in the pews say they are still struggling to trust Church leaders. And advocates for reform say there still needs to be more accountability and transparency in the Church. Father Daniel Griffith believes that restorative justice could be one way to pursue healing and reconciliation.” By Charlie Camosy, The Pillar

France rejects Canada’s request to extradite priest accused of sex assault
“France has rejected a request to extradite a priest accused of sexually abusing Indigenous children in Canada’s far north decades ago, Canadian authorities said Wednesday (Oct. 27). Johannes Rivoire, who now lives in a retirement home in Lyon, is the subject of an arrest warrant in Canada for allegedly sexually assaulting a child between 1974 and 1979. The Public Prosecution Service of Canada (PPSC) said Wednesday that France refused the request because its law prohibits extradition of its own citizens, and because ‘too much time has passed between the events and the charges being laid.’” By AgenceFrance Presse, in Barron’s

ARIZONA

‘Desolate Country’: Abusive priests clustered at mission schools
“Nearly half the Jesuit priests or brothers found to be credibly accused of sexual abuse in a 10-state region in the western United States spent time working in Indian schools and missions, according to a new database drawn from Catholic data on abuse. The new database allows users to track how priests moved within the church and supports allegations that the church used rural tribal communities as dumping grounds for ‘problem priests,’ according to researchers Kathleen Holscher and Jack Downey, who compiled the data.” By Amary Annette Pember, IndianCountryToday.com

ILLINOIS

Cardinal Blase Cupich is still keeping secrets on child sex abuse by order priests
“Several years after Cardinal Blase Cupich began cracking down on religious orders to report their sexually abusive clergy members who preyed on minors, the Archdiocese of Chicago has added dozens of order priests to its online posting of predatory clergy. But Cupich is still keeping secrets on clergy sex abuse of minors, a Chicago Sun-Times investigation has found. Even though the archdiocese instantly nearly doubled the size of its list of clergy deemed to have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children, there are significant gaps in what’s been added.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

LOUISIANA

Former St. Tammany priest arrested again
“A former priest has been arrested on an additional charge for molestation after a second victim came forward in St. Tammany Parish. Recall in October 2020, Patrick Wattigny was arrested on molestation charges after it was alleged he had sexually abused a minor in 2013 while serving as pastor of a Slidell-area church.” By St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office

MASSACHUSETTS

84-year-old sues diocese, says she was groped by Chicopee priest during Mass
“A Chicopee woman is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield and a Franciscan friars’ order over allegations her parish priest grabbed her buttocks during a Mass in 2019. According to a lawsuit filed in Hampden Superior Court by Irene Collins, 84, Friar Paul Miskiewicz first touched her buttocks when the two were standing in the sacristy of Chicopee’s St. Stanislaus Church where she was a longtime congregant and secular minister.” By Stephanie Barry, Springfield Republican

MICHIGAN

Nessel reports on abuse allegations; bishop responds
“Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday (Oct. 27) the release of a 154-page report detailing allegations of sexual abuse within the Marquette Catholic Diocese. The report is the first of a series of seven reports that will be released detailing alleged abuses in each of the state’s six diocese and the Archdiocese in Detroit. The Marquette report draws from a number of sources, ranging from the Department of the Attorney General’s clergy abuse tip line and victim interviews to documents seized from the diocese and reports of allegations disclosed by the diocese itself.” By Ilsa Minor, The Daily Press

MINNESOTA

Survivor seeks clarity about abusive priest’s future
“After a St. Cloud priest was recently released from prison after serving more than two years for sexual misconduct with an adult, one of his victims says the Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud needs to do more to ensure that he will never again serve in the priesthood. The Rev. Anthony Oelrich was released from the state prison in Lino Lakes on Oct. 17 after serving two-thirds of a 41-month sentence. Oelrich pleaded guilty in 2019 to one felony count of third-degree criminal sexual conduct for being a member of the clergy and having ongoing sexual contact with a woman who’d come to him for spiritual advice.” By Kirsti Marohn, Minnesota Public Radio

MONTANA

Helena Diocese investigating a priest accused of child abuse, working with law enforcement
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Helena is investigating a priest accused of abuse a minor. The alleged abuse happened in 2001. In a statement, the diocese says Bishop Austin Vetter notified law enforcement after they learned of the accusation and placed the priest on administrative leave as of October 27, 2022. The priest has not been officially charged with any crime at this time. MTN News is not identifying the priest because he has not been charged with a crime.” By John Riley, KTVH-TV News

NEW YORK.

Bankruptcy judge erred, diocese contends
“Bankruptcy Judge Paul Warren erred in letting abuse survivors’ individually filed claims against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester’s parishes move ahead, the diocese argues in papers filed recently in the Western District of New York’s Rochester Division. The diocese’s appeal brief comes some three months after it filed a notice of its intention to appeal Warren’s May ruling. In that decision, Warren said some 300 individually filed state court Child Victims Act claims against Rochester Catholic parishes that had been stayed since the bankruptcy’s filing could resume.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon

OHIO

Father Drew rape victim, other activists call for Ohio law changes to protect kids from sex abuse
“Ohio needs laws that do a better job protecting children from sex predators who victimize them, according to activists who traveled to Columbus and held a news conference Thursday (Oct. 27) inside the statehouse to call out lawmakers. These activists include Paul Neyer, the man who came forward in 2019 to press charges against a priest in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, Father Geoff Drew, and one of his classmates from St. Jude School, where the rapes occurred, Rebecca Surendorff.” By Chris Riva and Jennifer Edwards Baker, FOX-TV19 News

WASHINGTON, D.C.

How Washington state law lets clergy hid child sexual abuse
“Nearly 20 years ago, in the aftermath of the Catholic sexual abuse scandal, former Washington state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson wanted to make sure child sexual abuse could not be hidden so easily by church leaders. In Washington, clergy — unlike teachers, physicians and law enforcement — were not listed as mandatory reporters of child abuse or neglect. Dickerson, D-Seattle, introduced a bill that would have changed that. ‘I really wanted to have a law that was as strong as possible that would require clergy to report abuse,’ Dickerson tells InvestigateWest today. ‘And I was concerned about children.’” By Wilson Criscione, InvestigateWest

WISCONSIN

Wausau priest resigns amid abuse allegation
“A Catholic priest serving two Wausau parishes is no longer in the ministry, after an allegation of ‘sexual misconduct’ with a minor. Parishioners at several Wausau Catholic churches learned of the accusation Oct. 23 during Sunday worship services. The abuse was referred to as ‘sexual misconduct with a minor,’ rather than ‘sexual abuse,’ in a prepared statement from La Crosse Diocese Bishop William Callahan, when shared with congregations.” By Shereen Siewert, Wausau Pilot & Review

AUSTRALIA

Harrowing story of a boy whose childhood was stolen
“Mark was raised in a deeply religious Catholic family and his devout parents taught him to respect and obey all his hometown authority figures. Trusting his elders helped feed Mark into the hands of notorious pedophile teacher John Coogan at St Joseph’s College in Geelong, a Christian Brothers campus south-west of Melbourne. Day after day for three years Coogan forced Mark to sit on his lap in his locked office and molested him, violating the boy at least 100 times through primary school.” By Stephen Gibb for Daily Mail Australia

CANADA

Lawsuit claims Catholic priest sexually abused Calgary girl in 1980s
“The Catholic Church in Calgary is facing a $3.2-million lawsuit over allegations a since-deceased priest sexually abused a young girl in the 1980s. But in a statement of defense, the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Calgary denies the plaintiff was abused and said if Father Joseph John Toole committed any sexual assaults it was without the knowledge of church officials. The statement of claim filed last month says the sexual abuse of the plaintiff began in 1985 when she was seven or eight years old and continued for about four or five years.” By Kevin Martin, Calgary Herald

P.E.I. Roman Catholic priest charged in alleged sexual assaults dating back to 1990s
“A Roman Catholic priest is facing charges in connection with alleged sexual assaults that happened over a four-year period in the 1990s. Police said a 69-year-old man was arrested Oct. 31 and will face charges of sexual exploitation and sexual assault. Summerside Police Services began investigating after the sexual assaults were reported to police by the Diocese of Charlottetown in May, said Jason Blacquiere, deputy chief, in an interview with SaltWire Network on Nov. 1.” By SaltWire.com

Canada supreme court refuses to hear appeal in blow to residential school survivors
“Canada’s supreme court has declined to hear an appeal brought by a group of Indigenous residential school survivors, dealing a major blow to their decade-long fight against federal government over thousands of unreleased documents. Survivors of St Anne’s Indian residential school had hoped the country’s top court would take their case, which alleges Canada’s federal government withheld crucial evidence in determining compensation for victims of abuse at the school in northern Ontario.” By Leyland Cecco, The Guardian

FRANCE

As Macron meets Pope Francis, abuse victims urge swifter reparations
“A group of victims of sexual abuse says the Catholic church is reacting too slowly to a report revealing assaults by French clergy on more than 200,000 children and is urging President Emmanuel Macron to raise the issue directly with Pope Francis on Monday. Macron is meeting the pontiff in the Vatican a year after a 2,500-page report by the Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse detailed how the church repeatedly silenced victims and failed to discipline the clergy involved. Ahead of Macron’s visit to the Vatican, the president’s office said the subject had been addressed with the pope in the past, and that it was not likely to be brought up on Monday (Oct. 24).” By Juliette Jabkhiro, Reuters

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Child sex abuse in Britain is epidemic
“Child sex abuse is epidemic in Britain, affecting millions of victims, and those who work with young people should be prosecuted if they fail to report it, a seven-year public inquiry concluded on Thursday (Oct. 20). The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) said institutions and politicians had prioritized reputations over the welfare of young people, meaning horrific acts were hidden away for decades, while there were still inadequate protection measures in place.” By Michael Holden, Reuters

GUAM

Appeal could delay Guam clergy sex abuse payouts
“An insurance company is appealing the recently confirmed reorganization plan for the Archdiocese of Agana, which could delay the church’s exit from bankruptcy. It could also delay the payouts to more than 270 men and women who say they were abused as children by Guam priests and others associated with the Catholic Church. Continental Insurance Co. on Tuesday notified the U.S. District Court of Guam that it is appealing to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, challenging a final order confirming the archdiocese’s reorganization plan.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilver, Pacific Daily News

INDIA

Indian priest accused of sex abuse surrenders to police
“An Indian Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a boy has surrendered before the police as they began a probe against Bishop Thomas Dabre of Pune for allegedly attempting to cover up the crime. Father Vincent Pereira, 55, of Pune in the western state of Maharashtra presented himself before the police on Oct 23, ending his nearly month-long efforts to evade arrest. He is alleged to have abused a 15-year-old boy at his parents’ home on Dec. 4 last year. Police said the priest had been in hiding ever since they booked him on Sept. 30 under India’s stringent Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act.” By UCANews.com

PHILIPPINES

Tuguegarao diocese to cooperate with probe on priest accused of sexually abusing teen
“The Archdiocese of Tuguegarao on Monday, Oct. 24, said it will cooperate with authorities investigating the case of a priest accused of sexual abuse in Cagayan. In a statement, the archdiocese said Fr. Karole Reward Israel is currently not allowed to perform his priestly duties. ‘Fr. Karole Reward Israel of a parish in Solana town was ‘excused’ from his priestly duties as the probe is ongoing. The archdiocese will fully cooperate with the prosecution service towards the conduct of an unbiased preliminary investigation and will also extend its assistance to our priest,’ it added. National Bureau of Investigation agents arrested the priest on Oct. 18 for allegedly abusing a 16-year-old girl.” By Philippine News Agency in Manila Bulletin

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful commends New York attorney general for Buffalo Diocese oversight

BOSTON, Mass., Oct. 27, 2022―Voice of the Faithful, which has worked for 20 years to reform Catholic Church governance that causes and abets clergy sexual abuse of minors, commends New York Attorney General Letitia James for forcing government oversight of areas of the Buffalo Diocese’s operations dealing with clergy abuse allegations.

On Oct. 25, the Diocese of Buffalo agreed to such oversight under a deal with the State of New York that mandates reforms that include restrictions on accused priests monitored by Kathleen McChesney. McChesney is a former head of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Office of Child and Youth Protection and was a high-ranking FBI official. The New York attorney general had sued the diocese for violating the state’s laws governing religious charities by failing to follow Church rules regarding abuse allegations.

Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president, said she is angry and heartbroken that the government has had to do what the Church has failed to do. “That certain bishops were allowed to thwart the Church’s own laws and do so for such an extended period of time is unconscionable,” she said. “Thank God someone has found a way to check such aberrant behavior that put our children at risk.”

As The New York Times reported, two former Buffalo bishops, Richard Malone and Edward Grosz, shielded more than two dozen priests from Vatican investigation, allowing them to retire or go on medical leave with full salaries and benefits. The agreement with the state banned both bishops for life from any charitable fiduciary roles under the agreement with the state.

VOTF did some of its earliest work in child protection when it started in 2002 in Boston, where Malone was an auxiliary bishop. VOTF, for example, helped parishes follow guidelines set up by the U.S. Catholic bishops in the so-called 2002 Dallas Charter for the protection of children and has continued its advocacy for the past two decades. In 2022, VOTF completed its first report “Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices.” The study included all U.S. dioceses, and the Diocese of Buffalo received a score of 72 out of 100.

This may indicate that present Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher’s statement in response to the oversight deal may be true, at least in part. He said, “The settlement that the diocese and the New York attorney general have agreed to confirms that the rigorous policies and protocols the diocese has put in place over the past several years are the right ones …”

While rigorous child protection policies and protocols are essential, unless diocese follow them, they will do no good. If the Church continues to shield abusing priests in secrecy and deception, the effectiveness of child protection polices will not be known until years in the future when today’s victims are finally able to come to terms with their abuse and report it, and such policies do not address past offenses.


Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.


Voice of the Faithful Statement, Oct. 27, 2022, contact Nick Ingala, nickingala@votf.org, (781) 559-3360

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Catholic Diocese of Buffalo will submit to government oversight / The New York Times

The (Catholic) church reached a settlement with the New York attorney general after a lawsuit accusing officials of a years-long cover-up of sexual abuse

The New York Times

“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has agreed to submit to sweeping government oversight of its operations in a legal settlement reached on Tuesday with the New York attorney general, Letitia James, resolving a lawsuit that accused the church and its officials of a years-long cover-up of sexual abuse.

“The agreement, which is the first of its kind in New York, includes no financial penalties but instead mandates a series of structural reforms within the diocese, particularly regarding its handling of abuse allegations.

“Under the deal, priests who have been credibly accused of abuse will be assigned an independent monitor with law enforcement experience to ensure they comply with a list of restrictions, which include a ban on watching pornography, performing priestly duties and having a post office box.”

By Liam Stack, The New York Times — Read more …

, , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup, Oct. 21, 2022

Oct. 21, 2022

TOP STORIES

Pope Francis marks 60th anniversary of Vatican II opening by pleading for the church to overcome polarization
“Pope Francis on Oct. 11 marked the opening of the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council — a three-year period that launched landmark reforms in the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world around it and the church’s own liturgy and practices — by pleading for the church to ‘overcome all polarization and preserve our communion.’ In a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which served as the council’s chambers during the 1962-1965 meetings, Francis said the council, which was inaugurated by Pope St. John XXIII, was ‘one great response’ to the question ‘Do you love me?’ posed by Christ to his disciples.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis extends Synod of Bishops a year, two meetings now planned
“Pope Francis announced on Oct. 16 that he is significantly expanding the timeframe for his ongoing consultation process for the world’s Catholics. The Vatican meeting of the Synod of Bishops, originally planned for next year, will now be held across two sessions: one in October 2023, and another in October 2024. The synod process, which has been underway for more than a year, has involved discussions with Catholics across the world on a range of sensitive topics. The Oct. 16 announcement indicates Francis wants the process, and the discussions, to continue on much longer than formerly planned.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Who knew? The sexual-abuse crisis and ‘epistemic injustice’
“What have we learned from the Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal? What didn’t we know before that we know now? One way to answer these questions is to catalogue the revelations of the past few decades. To begin with, we now know, better than we did before, the extent of the abuse … The injustice of sexual violence is often compounded by what philosophers call ‘epistemic injustices’: wrongs done to people as knowers. One common kind of epistemic injustice is testimonial injustice, when a person’s credibility as someone with knowledge to convey is discounted because of prejudice on the hearer’s part.” By Bernard G. Prusak, Commonweal

Vatican’s mishandling of high-profile abuse cases extends its foremost crisis
“Three years ago, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church was committed to eradicating the ‘evil’ of abuse. The pope and other church leaders drew up new guidelines to handle accusations. They pledged transparency. They said victims’ needs would come first. ‘A change of mentality,’ Francis called it. But two recent major cases suggest that the church, for all its vows to improve, is still falling into familiar traps and extending its foremost crisis.” By Chico Harlan and Amada Coletta, The Washington Post

ACCOUNTABILITY

As Sex Abuse Claims Continue to Double, Catholic Church’s Bankruptcy Stalls Justice
“The sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church, although mostly under the radar in the recent past, has not gone away. In California–and elsewhere–the lawsuits are mounting — middle-aged men, saying they were sexually assaulted as children by a Boy Scout leader or a priest. A woman, now in her late 30s, detailing how she was allegedly assaulted in a center for foster children … At least 750 of those lawsuits filed since January 2020 are against Catholic dioceses, and more than 800 people are in the process of filing to beat a Dec. 31 deadline, according to lawyers involved in the cases.” By Amanda James, The Voice of New York

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

Synodality and the perennial temptations of power, pleasure, and wealth
“If one looks back on the Synods of Bishops during the pontificate of Pope Francis, and the controversies that have accompanied them, one can notice that even with such disparate themes as the family, youth, the Amazon, and synodality, many of the same topics have arisen again and again: divorce and remarriage, contraception, LGBTQ issues; the role of the laity in church governance, the ordination of women and married men; the role of the laity in Church governance, especially in gaining control over Church finances and property. That these same issues have bubbled up again and again is, oddly, both surprising, and not surprising at all.” By The Catholic World Report

Pope announces that synod on ‘synodality’ will be extended to 2024
“Pope Francis Sunday announced that his ongoing Synod of Bishops on Synodality will be extended for an additional year to allow, as he put it, more time for discernment and a greater understanding of the concept as a key dimension of church life. As things now stand, bishops and other participants will gather for an initial meeting of the synod Oct. 4-29, 2023, in Rome, to be followed by a year of reflection with another culminating meeting set for October 2024.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

The three most important lessons from the synod
“Now that the church has gathered together reports from nearly all of the bishops’ conferences around the world, Pope Francis has declared the first phase of the church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality over. But that first phase of consultation with the faithful has been more than just an exercise in gathering information. It has also offered some valuable lessons. It will be crucial to keep these in mind during the synod’s second phase—meetings of “continental assemblies” from January to March 2023—and then the third phase, the international assembly of bishops at a later date.” By The Editors at America: The Jesuit Review

The Holy Spirit is guiding the synodal process. But how?
“The Holy Spirit was the guest of honor at a recent gathering of church leaders on the topic of synodality. Literally. After one panelist suggested the practice of leaving an empty chair at meetings to symbolize room for the Holy Spirit, the next panel featured — you guessed it — an empty chair. And organizers of the event were attributing to the Spirit the perfect timing that saw the U.S. national synthesis document — compiled after diocesan and other synodal gatherings throughout the U.S. — released just days before the Sept. 22-23 Catholic Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

VATICAN II

Vatican II didn’t fail. It’s just getting started
“I sometimes wish that I could travel back to see my parish in the 1950s in West Philadelphia. The great domed church, St. Francis de Sales, towering over Victorian houses and Edwardian apartment buildings, can seat 800, but back then it needed simultaneous Masses in the lower church and the parish hall to fit all the attendees. I wish I could still watch that many people streaming toward the church each Sunday. We are not now that strength which we once were. The loss of that strength is hard, but it can end up being the source of renewal.” By Terence Sweeney, America: The Jesuit Review

Change is not easy in the Catholic Church, whether Vatican II or Pope Francis
“Sixty years ago, about a month after I entered the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California, the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome. No one bothered to tell the novices about it. The council went on for three years, during which I took vows and studied Latin and Greek without knowing what was happening at the council. In those pre-Vatican II days, the novitiate was what sociologists call a ‘total institution,’ completely isolated from the rest of the world, with no access to newspapers, radio or television. Except when I went to the dentist, I did not talk to a woman outside my family for four years. The idea was to insulate us from the world so we could devote ourselves to our Jesuit formation.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Vatican II: Five views sixty years on
“Everybody I know seems to be writing something on Vatican II these days and I began feeling a bit left out of the fun. So, I thought I would jump into the mosh pit of pundits to offer my take. The many recent commentaries, if I’m allowed the chutzpah to summarize them, fall into five basic categories. First, there is the view that Vatican II was a wonderful Council in full continuity with the tradition. But it was implemented poorly and hijacked by progressives, who made liberal use of the mass media to spread the view that the Council was about liberalizing the Church in a culturally accommodationist direction.” By Catholic World Report

BISHOPS

Diocese confirms French bishop disciplined by Vatican for sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Créteil in France confirmed last week that its former bishop had been credibly accused of sexual abuse and ordered to live a life of ‘prayer and penance’ by the Vatican last year. Bishop Michel Santier retired in January 2021 at the age of 73, two years before the age at which bishops are required to submit a letter of resignation to the pope. Seven months prior, in June 2020, Santier had told Catholics in his diocese he would be retiring early for “health reasons,” according to a report by La Croix.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Major survey of Catholic priests finds trust issues, burnout, fear of false allegations
“A study that claims to be the largest national survey of Catholic priests conducted in more than 50 years has found that despite relatively high levels of personal well-being and fulfillment among priests as a whole, a significant percentage of priests have issues with burnout, distrust in their bishop, and fears of being falsely accused of misconduct. Conducted by The Catholic Project, a research group at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the study released at an Oct. 19 press conference used survey responses from 3,516 priests across 191 dioceses and eparchies in the United States.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency

VOICES

How Catholics became prisoners of Vatican II
“The Second Vatican Council, the great revolution in the life of the modern Catholic Church, opened 60 years ago this week in Rome. So much of that 1960s-era world has passed away, but the council is still with us; indeed for a divided church its still-unfolding consequences cannot be escaped. For a long time this would have been a liberal claim. In the wars within Catholicism that followed the council, the conservatives interpreted Vatican II as a discrete and limited event — a particular set of documents that contained various shifts and evolutions (on religious liberty and Catholic-Jewish relations especially), and opened the door to a revised, vernacular version of the Mass.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times

The secret to healing the church is looking outward, not inward
“Last month, I looked at the U.S. bishops’ conference national synthesis of synodal reports, concluding that the process seems to have been more successful than anticipated and commending those who wrote the report for its frankness and comprehensive quality. I also noted that one section of that report warranted greater attention, the section titled ‘Social Mission of the Church,’ and today will offer that attention. It is only one paragraph long …” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Why is San Francisco’s top Catholic shielding pedophile priests

“If you grew up under the influence of the Catholic Church, you likely know someone who was sexually abused by a priest. In my family, the destruction manifested in the form of a man who, after several years training for the priesthood, returned home and spent the next few decades preying on boys in the Central Valley. He would eventually die alone, ostracized as a registered sex offender, but his evil lives on in the anguish of the victims he permanently damaged. His name does not appear on any official list of abusive clergy, but I count his horrific crimes as part of what I consider the Catholic Church’s systematic and global campaign of child rape.” By Gil Duran, San Francisco Examiner

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

IICSA concludes with a demand for mandatory reporting of child abuse
“Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse must be enforced by UK law to protect the 13 million children in England and Wales from the ‘vile and degrading’ abuse found within institutions across the country, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has concluded. Its final report, which includes 19 other recommendations and covers all 15 of its investigations into institutional child abuse across the UK, was published on Thursday (Oct. 21). The executive summary describes child abuse as a ‘global crisis’ which has been exacerbated in recent decades by the internet — the regulation of which is a key concern in the report.” By Hattie Williams, Church Times

These Catholics are trying to work within the church to change how sexual abuse is addressed
“When a group of local Catholics decided to expand their advocacy work outside a Milwaukee living room, they had to come up with a name for their new organization. They settled on ‘Awake Milwaukee.’ As Catholics who wanted to push for change on the issue of sexual abuse from within the church, the name represented their own views as well as what they hoped to do for others. ‘We felt like we were finally awake. We were finally paying attention to something that had been there all along,’ said executive director Sara Larson. ‘It’s also what we’re aiming to do for our broader community: to help people wake up to this reality.’” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Clergy abuse has scarred minority Catholic communities
“The image of a white victim does not tell the complete story of clergy sexual abuse in the United States, according to a number of panelists during an Oct. 5 online forum titled ‘Neglected Voices in the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis.’ Blacks have suffered from clergy sex abuse, but ‘it’s an invisible trauma. It’s an unknown trauma because there are Black victims, survivors, of the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Father Bryan Massingale, author of ‘Racial Justice in the Catholic Church.’ ‘Yet in the Catholic imagination, we usually see a white face — a white male face, overwhelmingly.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service

CALIFORNIA

Hundreds of priests with SF archdiocese accused of sexual abuse
“Victims of clergy abuse and their advocates gathered at the headquarters for the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Thursday (Sept. 29) to hand deliver a list they’ve spent years compiling, which includes the names of hundreds of priests accused of preying on children, abusing some of them for years. The list is 312 names long and goes back more than 100 years. While many of the accused predators are dead, some remain working at Bay Area churches today.” By Bigad Shaban, Michael Bott, Mark Villarreal, Alex Bozovic, Grace Galletti and Roselyn Romero, NBC-TV Bay Area News

ILLINOIS

St. Sabina Church stands by Rev. Pfleger amid new sex abuse accusation: ‘Father Mike, this is your army’
“A day after the Rev. Michael Pfleger was accused again of child sex abuse, the popular priest was absent from Sunday Mass at St. Sabina Church. But he was the focus of the service. ‘Show Father Mike what it means to be persistent in prayer,’ the Rev. Tom Walsh told the congregation during the 2 1⁄2-hour service punctuated by support for Pfleger. Walsh directed congregants to face a camera at the rear of the church broadcasting the service on the internet, where he said Pfleger would be watching.” By David Struett, Chicago Sun-Times

Archdiocese of Chicago adds dozens of new names to list of priests, clergy accused of sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of priests accused of sex abuse nearly doubled Friday (Oct. 14) with the addition of dozens of names, including priests who were accused when they were no longer alive. For years, the Archdiocese of Chicago has publicly named priests with substantiated allegations of sex abuse, but its list did not include the names of priests accused when they were deceased and clergy from different religious orders.” By Sarah Schulte and Ross Weidner, ABC-TV7 News

MICHIGAN

Catholic diocese: Brighton priest admitted to sexual relationship with teen
“The Diocese of Lansing in a statement said that a priest who the Michigan Attorney General declined to prosecute for having sex with a minor was found to have done so during a separate church investigation. The priest, Shaun Lowery, served at Brighton’s St. Mary Magdalen parish from 2019 to 2021. In the diocese statement, spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing David Kerr said: ‘Father Lowery engaged in immoral sexual acts, grievously violated his vow of celibacy, and gave scandal to the young persons involved in this case, as well as to the wider church.’” By Sophia Lada, Livingston Daily

Priest convicted of sexual assault on boy in Michigan church
“A Catholic priest has been convicted of sexual assaulting a 7-year-old boy in 2004 in a Detroit-area church. A Wayne County jury convicted the Rev. Joseph ‘Jack’ Baker on Thursday (Oct. 13) on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Baker, 60, gasped as the verdict was read, The Detroit News reported. Baker was a priest at St. Mary Parish in Wayne when Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged him in July 2019 with sexually abusing a minor.” By Associated Press

MISSOURI

6,000 child pornography photos found on retired St. Louis priest’s electronics, court documents say
“A retired priest from St. Louis pleaded guilty to federal charges of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, James Beighlie, 72, admitted in court that colleagues of his at the Congregation of the Mission in St. Louis found compromising images of him on a church printer on May 17, 2021. The church launched its own investigation and called the FBI when videos of minors performing sex acts were found on electronics used by Beighlie. Investigators found 6,000 images of child sexual abuse on one computer, including 3,000 photos of child pornography and 2,992 images of child erotica. Another computer had 236 photos and 40 videos of child sexual abuse.” By KMOV-TV4 News

RHODE ISLAND

Former R.I. Catholic priest facing child-pornography charges is back behind bars
“A Catholic priest formerly of Providence who was granted bail last year after being charged with possessing and transferring child pornography is back behind bars after authorities alleged he violated the conditions of his pretrial release while living in Kansas. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan last week ordered The Rev. James Jackson detained after a separate child pornography investigation in Kansas this summer led police to search a home in Leawood, Kansas, where Jackson, former pastor at St. Mary’s on Broadway, was staying with a relative.” By Tom Mooney, The Providence Journal

SOUTH DAKOTA

Native Americans recall torture, hatred at boarding schools
“After her mother died when Rosalie Whirlwind Soldier was just four years old, she was put into a Native American boarding school in South Dakota and told her native Lakota language was ‘devil’s speak.’ She recalls being locked in a basement at St. Francis Indian Mission School for weeks as punishment for breaking the school’s strict rules. Her long braids were shorn in a deliberate effort to stamp out her cultural identify. And when she broke her leg in an accident, Whirlwind Soldier said she received shoddy care leaving her with pain and a limp that still hobbles her decades later.” By Matthew Brown, Associated Press

BANGLADESH

Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced for sexual abuse of boys at Mortlake
“Prolific pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale has been sentenced for the sexual abuse of two boys in western Victoria in the 1980s. The 88-year-old appeared in the Warrnambool County Court on Wednesday (Oct. 19) afternoon via video link from Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat. Ridsdale pleaded guilty in July to 13 charges relating to the sexual abuse of two teenage boys in 1981 and 1982, when they were aged under 16.” By ABC News

NEW ZEALAND

Former Catholic bishop of Auckland questioned over recommending priest facing abuse allegations
“The former Catholic Bishop of Auckland has come under intense questioning at the abuse in care inquiry over recommending a priest, who had three allegations of abuse made against him, for a teaching job. The Catholic Church appeared at the Royal Commission hearing in Auckland on Monday. Bishop Patrick Dunn was responding to complaints made about Tongan priest Sateki Raass. Raass was convicted in March 2019 for assaulting a person under 16, and he was sentenced to do 100 hours of community service. He later resigned from the priesthood.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand

PORTUGAL

Historic Portugal church sex abuse ‘truly endemic’ at times
“The head of a lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church said Tuesday (Oct. 11) the problem in the past had been ‘widespread’ and on some occasions reached ‘truly endemic’ proportions. Pedro Strecht, a psychiatrist who heads Portugal’s Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church, said his panel has compiled a list of 424 alleged victims. Before the committee started its work in January, senior church officials had claimed that only a handful of cases had occurred.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment