Archive for March, 2019

Pope issues law, with penalties, for Vatican City to address sexual abuse / The New York Times

The law, dated March 26, calls on church authorities to listen immediately to people who say they are victims and to report any credible allegations to prosecutors. (The New York Times)

 Pope Francis has issued a highly anticipated law for Vatican City officials and diplomats overseas to tackle sexual abuse, setting up what is intended to be a model for the Roman Catholic Church worldwide by requiring, for the first time, that accusations be immediately reported to Vatican prosecutors.

“The Vatican characterized the law — and accompanying pastoral guidelines — as a reflection of the most advanced thinking on preventing and addressing sexual abuse in the church. The law, dated March 26, calls on church authorities to listen immediately to people who say they are victims and to report any credible allegations to prosecutors.

“Those who fail to report could be subjected to financial penalties and jail time.

“‘Protection of minors and vulnerable people is an essential part of the evangelical message that the church and all of its members are called to spread across the world,’ the pope wrote in a personal edict enacting the law. Francis said he wanted to ‘strengthen the institutional and regulatory framework to prevent and tackle abuses against minors and vulnerable people.'”

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

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Australian church completes first phase of historic plenary council / National Catholic Reporter

The landmark meeting … is already bringing to the surface debate about the role of the laity in the church and other reforms that are becoming more urgent in the wake of the ever-growing global sexual abuse scandal. (National Catholic Reporter)

The Australian Catholic Church has completed the first phase of its 2020 Plenary Council, in which laypeople will be allowed to vote and decisions could be binding on the nation’s Catholics, once ratified by the Vatican.

“The meeting’s organizers have received more than 20,000 submissions from more than 75,000 Catholics around the country in a 10-month ‘listening and dialogue’ process that finished March 13.

“The landmark meeting that will take place in two Australian cities during 2020 and 2021 is already bringing to the surface debate about the role of the laity in the church and other reforms that are becoming more urgent in the wake of the ever-growing global sexual abuse scandal.

“The Australian meeting will be only the third plenary council to held anywhere in the world since World War II; the Philippines held one in 1991 and Poland in 1993. There were three plenary councils in the United States before 1884, but none since.

“The Australian council was announced in 2017, during the five-year Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.”

By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Founder, board of Vatican women’s magazine quit / Associated Press

“We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,” founder Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in the open letter. (Associated Press)

The founder and all-female editorial board of the Vatican’s women’s magazine have quit after what they say was a Vatican campaign to discredit them and put them ‘under the direct control of men,’ that only increased after they denounced the sexual abuse of nuns by clergy.

“The editorial committee of ‘Women Church World,’ a monthly glossy published alongside the Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano, made the announcement in the planned April 1 editorial and in an open letter to Pope Francis that was provided Tuesday (Mar. 26) to The Associated Press.

“‘We are throwing in the towel because we feel surrounded by a climate of distrust and progressive de-legitimization,’ founder Lucetta Scaraffia wrote in the open letter.

“In the editorial, she wrote: “We believe there are no longer the conditions to continue our collaboration with L’Osservatore Romano.'”

By Associated Press — Read more …

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Peru bishop wants excommunication for abuse scandals, not just defrocking /

When it comes to cover-up, including the transfer of abusers from one parish to another, Schmalhausen said it has become obvious that civil justice is more proactive than the Church, which has sheltered abusers and allowed them to have access to other potential victims. (

Bishop Kay Schmalhausen of Ayaviri, Peru believes current punishments for both the crime of clerical sexual abuse (usually expulsion from the clerical state) and the cover-up are ineffective, and suggested harsher penalties including excommunication.

“As a former member of a group whose founder has been charged with abuses of conscience, power and sexuality, Schmalhausen told Crux that some key questions need to be asked.

“‘What has been done so far with the perpetrators of such crimes? How is the damage to the victims, along with the scandal caused to the faithful of the Church and in the eyes of the world, being repaired? Is there even a minimum of proportionality and justice in the measures implemented so far?’ he asked.

“‘Clearly the answer today seems to be no …'”

By Elise Harris and John L. Allen, Jr., — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup

March 18, 2019


Cardinal George Pell of Australia sentenced to six years in prison
“George Pell, an Australian cardinal who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison(link is external) on Wednesday (Mar. 13), for molesting two boys after Sunday Mass in 1996. The cardinal was convicted on five counts in December, making him the most senior Catholic official — and the first bishop — to be found guilty in a criminal court for sexually abusing minors, according to, which tracks cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.” By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave, The New York Times

Vatican to open own investigation into accusations against Pell
“The Vatican is opening its own investigation into accusations against Cardinal George Pell(link is external), who was found guilty of sexual abuse of minors in his native Australia, a spokesman said on Wednesday (Feb. 27). The move means that Pell, who maintains his innocence and plans to appeal the verdict, could be dismissed from the priesthood if the Vatican’s doctrinal department also finds him guilty.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Swiss bishops, religious orders strengthen abuse reporting mandate
“Just a few days after the Vatican summit on child protection and clerical sexual abuse, the bishops’ conference and major religious superiors of Switzerland adopted new guidelines(link is external), which include mandatory reporting of all allegations to the police. Previously, the bishops said in a statement, when adults reported having been abused, church officials were required to inform them that they could file a civil lawsuit and that they could decide whether a report was filed with the police.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service

Cardinal Barbarin sentenced to six months suspended sentence
“A French court on Thursday (Mar. 7) convicted a French cardinal for failing to report to authorities allegations of sexual abuse of minors by a priest(link is external). The Lyon court handed Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, Archbishop of Lyon, a six-month suspended prison sentence for not reporting the cases in the period between July 2014 and June 2015. The 68-year old cardinal was not present in the Lyon court to hear his conviction. His lawyer, Jean-Felix Luciani, said he will appeal.” By Vatican News

The sex-abuse crisis and ordinary lay Catholics
“Toward the end of February 2019, Pope Francis met in Rome with about 124 church leaders, focusing on the sex-abuse crisis in the Roman Catholic Church. The purpose of this long-awaited summit was to provide a teaching moment to the hierarchy(link is external) that addressed the scarring pain of the victims, to hear testimony from some survivors, to review the church’s obligations to act against abuser priests and bishops and to pray, seeking forgiveness for the church’s horrible failures.” Commentary in Coastal Point by Jeannie Bennett Fleming, member of Coastal Delmarva VOTF


Cardinal Pell to appeal conviction on three grounds
“The sexual abuse crisis has put the Catholic Church in crisis globally, and everywhere the response has been full-scale legal warfare. The Vatican, the national hierarchies and the local bishops all dodged and weaved. They filed for injunctions to stop documents being released to the state commissions of investigation. When state authorities had the documents, the church did all in its power to avoid prosecution by relying on the statute of limitations and to limit any extension of these statutes to preclude further prosecutions.” By

Two bishops accused of sexually harassing adults are barred from priestly duties
“The Archdiocese of Baltimore said on Monday (Mar.11) that it had barred two bishops from performing priestly duties and referred their cases to the Vatican(link is external) after an internal investigation into allegations that they had sexually harassed adults, including one claim that was dismissed by church investigators a decade ago. The announcement shined a light on the alleged abuse of adults, an often overlooked corner of the Catholic Church abuse scandal …” By Liam Stack, The New York Times

Catholic archbishop, on his hands and knees, begged for forgiveness over abuse
“When the Archdiocese of Hartford released a list this year identifying 48 priests accused of sexual abuse, five of them had served at the same church: St. George’s, in the small coastal town of Guilford. One had been a pastor there for more than a decade, baptizing children and hearing confessions … And so The Most Rev. Leonard P. Blair, the archbishop of Hartford, responded to the crisis with an extraordinary gesture(link is external): He held a special Mass of Reparations. He said that he came before the congregation ‘on my knees as a bishop’ in search of forgiveness.” By Rick Rojas, The New York Times

Australia’s plenary can wait: We need an adjournment on scandal”

“So often moving against the tide of conventional wisdom, I emigrated from Australia to Ireland in the early ’70s. In 1989, representing a local educational project, I visited a previous archbishop of Dublin and asked him for a financial contribution. He smiled and arranged for me to meet the diocesan accountant. This priest smiled, too, but told me that I would not receive any money for my cause because every possible penny was being kept to finance settlements in the anticipated sex abuse litigation(link is external). Three years previously, Irish bishops had begun to insure themselves against just such risks. The sexual abuse crisis has put the Catholic Church in crisis globally, and everywhere the response has been full-scale legal warfare.” By Gail Grossman Freyne, National Catholic Reporter

‘Metropolitan model’ may not answer question of abusive bishops
“After the conclusion of the unprecedented Vatican summit on child abuse last week, one issue that was repeated was ‘accountability.’ However, despite this mantra, the problem of what to do with bishops who have themselves been accused of abuse remains(link is external). Right now, bishops can be judged by the pope alone. Although a special tribunal to handle accusations against bishops was authorized by Pope Francis, he later backtracked and decided to use specially constituted bodies in cases against bishops.” By Charles Collins,

Sins of the Fathers: What will accountability look like for the Catholic Church
“For years now, survivors of Catholic clergy sexual abuse have sought accountability at the local level, taking claims to their parish or bishop. But the Roman Catholic Church is a global institution, and experts say its cover-up of child abuse reaches the upper echelons of church leadership(link is external). What would it take to go after the Vatican?” By Mary Harris, Slate

Vatican embassy confirms complaint of sexual misconduct against ex-nuncio
“The apostolic nunciature in Ottawa, Ontario, confirmed Feb. 26 that it received a first complaint of sexual misconduct concerning Archbishop Luigi Ventura(link is external), the Vatican’s ambassador to Canada from 2001 to 2009. Archbishop Ventura, now 74, is under investigation for similar allegations in France, where he has served as nuncio since 2009. The alleged incident took place July 26, 2008, at the shrine of Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre.” By Philippe Vaillancourt, Catholic News Service, on

Deliver us: Is the church still covering up abuse?
Will the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis ever end?(link is external) That’s a question everyone has been asking since the latest wave of news in 2018. In Deliver Us, host Maggi Van Dorn is a Catholic committed to healing the church from the inside. She wants to know: How did this happen? And what, if anything, can we do to help? Hear from experts, advocates, and survivors to learn what the church can do to move forward. Because you can’t fix something until you know how it’s broken.” By Maggi Van Dorn, America: The Jesuit Review


Following summit, Church will focus on eight points in ‘all-out battle’ against abuse
“At the closing of the Vatican summit on sexual abuse, Pope Francis outlined eight points that the Church will focus on in an ‘all-out battle’ against the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) to, he said, ‘turn this evil into an opportunity for purification.’ ‘We need to recognize with humility and courage that we stand face to face with the mystery of evil, which strikes most violently against the most vulnerable, for they are an image of Jesus,’ Pope Francis said Feb. 24 following the Vatican summit’s closing Mass in the Sala Regia.” By Courtney Grogan, Catholic News Agency, on

The Editors on the Vatican Summit: One Step Forward
“In the lead-up to last month’s four-day Vatican summit on the sexual abuse of minors, organizers made a concerted effort to lower expectations. A crisis decades in the making, the full scope of which is still coming into view, would not be solved in one meeting, they insisted(link is external). There would be no sweeping policy changes from on high, no declaration from Pope Francis that definitively addressed every concern about how the church handles sexual abuse, no ‘closure.’ But even if such a gathering was never intended to do everything, it’s still fair to ask whether it did enough. The unsatisfying answer is that no one knows—yet.” By The Editors at Commonweal

Cardinal O’Malley says Vatican meeting was ‘a huge step forward’
“Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley says the recently concluded meeting at the Vatican was a ‘huge step forward’ that educated many of the bishops attending about the clergy sex abuse problem(link is external) that has plagued the Roman Catholic Church. ‘For many of the bishops, I think the conference was a very transformative experience. For many of them, it was the first time that they were listening to victim/survivors; it was the first time they were hearing about the challenges of safeguarding and the responsibility of the bishops,’ O’Malley said in a post on his blog Friday (Mar. 1).” By Martin Finucane, The Boston Globe

Why the sex abuse summit accomplished nothing
“For decades we’ve heard countless opinions of what has caused the clergy sex abuse crises in the Catholic Church: clericalism, celibacy, bad seminary formation. But on the closing day of the bishops’ summit on the protection of minors, we heard a new theory: the devil made them do it(link is external). That’s what Pope Francis suggested multiple times and in various ways in his speech at the conclusion of the Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church.” By Jamie Manson, National Catholic Reporter

After Vatican abuse summit, survivors express disappointment and call for concrete reforms
“A group of nearly 200 Catholic leaders including cardinals, lay experts and philanthropists, who met in Washington last month to discuss the church’s ongoing sexual abuse crisis(link is external), released a report with dozens of recommendations just days after a global summit of bishops in Rome concluded their gathering about the same topic.” By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review

Will anything change after the Vatican meeting on abuse?
“The much-anticipated February conference on sex abuse at the Vatican is now history. This is the conference that prevented the U.S. bishops from acting on the sex abuse crisis back in November at their meeting in Baltimore. Was it worth it? What was accomplished?(link is external) We heard the same rhetoric we have been hearing since the crisis first broke in Boston more than 15 years ago. Little in the way of concrete action came out of the discussions. They were marred by divisive speeches demonstrating just how divided our church has become. Finger-pointing and accusations often drowned out thoughtful or serious dialogue on how to address the issue that continues to bedevil the church.” By Pat Perriello, National Catholic Reporter

After the Vatican’s summit on abuse, the stakes are clear
“The long-awaited ‘Meeting on the Protection of Minors in the Church,’ nicknamed the abuse summit, was an extraordinary and historic gathering that surpassed many expectations while perhaps disappointing others(link is external) … It also may have become a prototype of sorts for what synodal gatherings may come to look like in the future in terms of both a diversity of voices and an honesty of opinion.” ByGreg Erlandson, The Pilot

In wake of Vatican summit, Villanova professor believes Catholic Church is on path to reform
“A week ago (Feb. 21-24), an unprecedented Vatican summit on clergy sexual abuse ended. While some had greater expectations of Pope Francis and church leadership, a Villanova professor believes they’re on the right track for reform(link is external). Many observers labeled the summit’s results as empty and lacking in the kind of concrete responses the pope promised at the beginning of the historic session.” By Mark Abrams, KYW News Radio

The sins of the church
“Last week (Feb. 21-24), over a hundred Catholic bishops gathered in Rome for a conference that addressed the problem of child sexual abuse by priests(link is external). The church, and the general public, have known about this problem since the 1980s, when complaints began to surface in the United States. The Vatican chose, at first, to regard it as a localized phenomenon.” By Leonard Hitchcock, Idaho State Journal

Grading the Vatican abuse summit
“The consensus view is that the Vatican pretty much flunked its summit on the protection of minors. Yes, there was some good rhetoric, some powerful statements above all by women presenters, but what was accomplished(link is external)? Where were the concrete steps that Pope Francis called for when he opened the meeting? As a New York Times editorial concluded, ‘[A] malignancy whose primary victims are trusting children must be treated by immediate and radical measures, not by appeals or hand-wringing.’” By Mark Silk, Religion News Service

Why the Pope’s summit on abuse disappointed some survivors
“…Francis offered no detailed plan on how to prevent abuse, or binding rules on how to deal with abusers and cooperate with law enforcement(link is external). A promise to issue a new guidebook for bishops received short shrift from advocates. ‘Over the years, we’ve seen many church leaders write new guidelines, which are then developed, watered down, published and ignored,’ says Colm O’Gorman, an Irish survivor of clergy abuse who now heads the Irish branch of Amnesty International. ‘There’s nothing unprecedented about this.’” By Ciara Nugent, Time


The good, the bad and the merciful: Pope Francis after six years
“Six years ago, on March 13, the College of Cardinals surprised the world with the election of the Argentine Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio as pope. Taking the name Francis, he won the admiration and respect of Catholics and non-Catholics alike(link is external) with his simplicity and concern for the poor and marginalized. With each passing year, however, criticism of the pope has become more vocal, especially from the Catholic right, who think he is breaking with traditional church teaching, and the political right, who don’t like his views on global warming, immigration and social justice.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service

Sixth year may go down as the most decisive in Francis’ papacy
“It was the early afternoon Eastern time when the smoke started to billow from the chimney atop the Sistine Chapel. At first, it was hard to tell if it was white or not, but as the camera stayed trained on it, and the TV anchors debated its color, the smoke grew whiter and whiter, and then the bells of St. Peter’s Basilica began to ring. Habemus papam. It has been six years to the day since the cardinals elected Jorge Mario Bergoglio as pope(link is external), and Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran, the senior cardinal deacon, announced: Qui sibi nomen imposuit Franciscum.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Few abuse scandals involve Francis as directly as that of Argentine bishop
“Though Pope Francis has faced questions and even criticism for his overall handling of the clerical sexual abuse scandals in Catholicism(link is external), few cases touch the pontiff quite as directly as that of Argentine Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta, who was brought to Rome at the pope’s personal initiative and who now stands accused of abuse … Last year, it became public that Zanchetta has been accused both of sexual misconduct and of financial wrongdoing, although a Vatican spokesman insisted there were no abuse allegations at the time Zanchetta was brought to Rome.” By Inés San Martin,


Cardinal O’Malley announces hotline for reporting bishops, cardinals
“In a Lenten letter to the people of the archdiocese released March 8, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley announced his decision to implement a system for reporting misconduct by a bishop or cardinal of the Archdiocese of Boston(link is external). In his letter, the cardinal spoke of the Summit to Protect Children and Minors that took place at the Vatican in February and the impact it had on the bishops who attended.” By Jacqueline Tetrault, The Pilot

Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups
“The conviction of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for failing to report a known pedophile priest to police deepens the crisis confronting an already discredited Catholic Church hierarchy(link is external). The verdict handed down by magistrates Thursday (Mar. 7) shows the church’s once-untouchable “princes” increasingly are judged accountable for priests who abuse children and the superiors who allowed the abuse to continue.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Cardinal Pell: understanding the verdict and the fury
“Tuesday, February 26, 2019, will go down as probably the worst day yet in the entire 231 year-long history of Australian Catholicism. We thought we’d seen it all during the four years of Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse(link is external), especially as terrible stories of mistreatment of children by clergy and in Catholic institutions were recounted. But George Pell’s conviction leaves that shame for dead. Australian Catholics are stunned, outraged and angry at the lack of accountability and betrayal as we are left utterly leaderless by bishops who seem to have run for deep cover from faithful Catholics and everyone else.” By Paul Collins, National Catholic Reporter


A ‘political town with pastoral needs’ anticipates a new archbishop
“Pope Francis is expected to appoint a new archbishop of Washington in the coming days, a high-profile pick that will be one of the most pivotal of his papacy(link is external) given the nature of this unusual see and the fact that its two most recent leaders have been embroiled in the clergy sex abuse scandal. If evaluated merely by geographical size and statistics, the Archdiocese of Washington doesn’t rank as one of the heavyweights of American Catholicism … (However,) this ecosystem (the nation’s capital) of secular and church politics — in the wealthiest and most powerful country in the world — makes the archdiocese unique.” By John Gehring, National Catholic Reporter

Mexican bishops present five objectives for action on clergy abuse
“The Mexican bishops’ conference has presented an action plan for protecting minors from sexual abuse by clergy(link is external) and pastoral agents. The plan, presented March 5 in Mexico City, outlines five objectives: Diagnosis, prevention, justice and response, supporting victims and promoting respect for the law.” By David Agren, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Seminaries, relatively recent in church history, are still evolving
All accused priest sex abusers attended seminary(link is external). While that relationship does not constitute a cause, it has not escaped the attention of seminary rectors and scholars. Seminaries — set apart from the secular world and seen by some as a breeding ground for clericalist attitudes that fostered the sex abuse crisis — have come in for criticism. Yet leaders of Catholic seminaries say that their priestly formation programs have already successfully implemented curricula that can check future sex abuse.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

Number of priests declined for first time in decade, Vatican says
“The percentage of Catholics in the world has remained steady, while the number of priests has decreased for the first time in almost a decade(link is external), according to Vatican statistics. Meanwhile, the numbers of bishops, permanent deacons, lay missionaries and catechists have all increased, it said.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on


Church renewal needs shared clergy-lay leadership, say experts
“Changing canon law to allow lay people ‘authentic and honest participation’ could encourage renewal in a wounded church(link is external), an expert in church law said in a talk to the Catholic student group at UC Berkeley’s law school. Jennifer Haselberger has a Ph.D. in philosophy and a licentiate in canon law and served as chancellor at the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis before resigning in protest in 2013 over concerns about how the archdiocese handled clergy abuse cases.” By Nicholas Wolfram Smith, Catholic San Francisco


Clerical identity crisis: Flock and pasture can’t tell shepherd who he is
“One of the more memorable public lectures I attended was offered by the then-dean of the faculty of spirituality at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University. He admitted before the crowd that after decades of spiritual direction with countless priests and religious he’d come to the conclusion that their overriding problem is that ‘they don’t know who they are(link is external).’ But we would be mistaken to think of this as a ‘church issue’ only. Aristotle wrote in The Nicomachean Ethics that ‘people seem to seek honor in order to convince themselves of their own goodness.’” By Mark Slatter, National Catholic Reporter


As debate on married priests reignites, ordaining ‘viri probati’ faces hurdles
“This year’s upcoming Vatican summit on the Amazon region is shaping up to be one of the more contentious meetings since the subject of giving communion to the divorced-and-remarried caused heated debates in 2014 and 2015 … The lack of priests in the region is a very real problem(link is external). In Brazil, there is only one priest for every 10,000 Catholics – in the United States, the ratio is about one for every 2,000. In the Amazon region, the situation is even more acute: In some areas, congregations might see a priest once or twice a year.” By Charles Collins,


Women’s roles ‘more critical than ever’
“In the lead-up to International Women’s Day on Friday (Mar.8), Australia’s bishops have acknowledged the inspirational work of women throughout the country(link is external) who now make up 77 per cent of the Church’s workforce. And with more than 65 percent of leadership or lay ministry roles within the Church exercised by women, the work of women in Church structures and organizations has become increasingly critical.” By


One-third of American Catholics consider leaving Church, Gallup reports
“More than one-third of American Catholics have considered leaving the Church in the wake of the latest abuse scandals(link is external), according to a new Gallup poll. The Gallup poll found that 37% of Catholics were questioning their commitment—a substantial increase over the 22% who were questioning their faith in 2002, when the sex-abuse scandal first erupted nationwide.” By


Has the Catholic Church committed the worst crime in American history?
Horseplay,” a term used to denote child rape(link is external), is, says Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro, part of a sinister glossary of euphemisms by which the Catholic Church’s bureaucracy obfuscates in documents the church’s “pattern of abuse” and conspiracy of silence “that goes all the way to the Vatican.” “Benevolent bishops” are those who allow predatory priests, shuffled from other dioceses, to continue as priests.” Commentary by George Will in Chicago Tribune

The need for fundamental reform in the Catholic Church
“Anger, sorrow, disbelief — these were just some of the emotions I felt upon receiving news that our university’s Catholic chaplain Father Carsten Martensen received allegations for sexual abuse of a minor in the 1970s … I had never personally experienced, nor did I ever expect, such allegations arising from within my very own community. The news came as an utter shock and disturbance — to think that the chaplain who had provided significant guidance and wisdom throughout my time here at Cornell may have possibly exploited a child(link is external) and kept silent for all these years.” Commentary by DongYeon Margaret Lee, The Cornell Daily Sun

At Lent, Catholics reflect on faith as sex abuse scandal shakes the Church
“Lent is meant to be a time of reflection for Christians around the world. But once again this year, it comes at a time of deep disquiet within the faith. Sexual abuse and misconduct scandals have continued to rock the Catholic Church(link is external), leading many to question their religious institutions, or even their faith itself. Just this past week, a French Catholic Cardinal was found guilty of covering up dozens of incidents of sexual abuse by a priest in his diocese.” By Michel Martin, National Public Radio

French cardinal’s downfall a lesson in how accountability happens
“After he ( managing editor Charles Collins) got done explaining why the Metropolitan may not be the best way to foster accountability, I asked Charley what Church officials ought to do instead. I can’t remember his exact words, but the gist was, ‘It doesn’t matter, because grand juries and public prosecutors will do it for them(link is external).’ Right on cue, three days later Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon, France, was found guilty by a French court of failure to report sexual abuse by one of his priests and was given a six-month suspended jail sentence. It’s the third time a Catholic bishop in France has been convicted of a similar offense, and the first time for a cardinal.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

This Lent, don’t give Catholic bishops a dime
“On Ash Wednesday, the holy season of Lent began — and so did the annual fundraising drives by many of the nation’s Catholic bishops known as the bishops’ Lenten appeals. My advice to my fellow Catholics? Don’t give them a dime(link is external). Last fall, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was supposed to vote on a resolution to create a special commission, including six lay members, to investigate bishops who cover up sexual abuse.” By Marc Thiessen, The Washington Post, in The Orlando Ledger

Why this Lent is an opportunity to get our response to sex abuse right
“As Catholics begin Lent in the midst of crisis, I feel like we have been here before. In fact, we have. But this time, something is different. During Lent in 2002, Catholics were reeling from the sexual abuse revelations emerging from Boston and from across the country. Many people looked to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to take action. The bishops took initial steps at their June meeting that year, but they focused on responding to some aspects of abuse and missed the fact that the church was facing twin crises: a crisis of abuse and a crisis of leadership failures(link is external) and cover-up. This time, both crises need to be addressed in order to get at the root causes and move the church toward recovery and reform.” By Kim Smolik, America: The Jesuit Review

A long, difficult grind toward reform
“The recent Rome gathering of bishops from around the world to discuss the sex abuse crisis constituted a remarkable moment in the history of the scandal(link is external). I am aware of strong critiques coming largely from the right and left margins of the community, but it would have been difficult to imagine as little as five years ago a gathering of the hierarchy that so honestly discussed the depravity and failure of the clerical and episcopal cultures.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Francis of Assisi’s model for church reform may help in abuse crisis
“But over time he (St. Francis) began to realize the broader implications of Christ’s exhortation to him from the cross. It would seem that ultimately God was less concerned about the physical structures of this or that particular worship space and more interested in spiritual and moral renewal(link is external), a rebuilding of the church that is the Body of Christ. St. Francis’ whole manner of living became focused on renewing the embodied, daily experience of Christian life by prioritizing the fundamentals of Gospel values in service to the poor, forgotten, voiceless and abandoned in his own time and context.” By Daniel P. Horan, National Catholic Reporter

New report addresses church’s ‘twin crises’ of sex abuse, leadership failure
“Just days after the close of the Vatican abuse summit, a prominent U.S. Catholic group has released wide-ranging recommendations to address what it calls the ‘twin crises’ of sexual abuse and leadership failures in the church(link is external). The recommendations were part of a report Friday (Mar. 1) from the Leadership Roundtable, a coalition of laity, religious and clergy to promote best practices in church management. The proposals are aimed simultaneously at reforming the structures and the clerical culture that permitted sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults to persist and go unreported for decades.” By Brian Roewe, National Catholic Reporter

Breaking the culture of silence and secrecy
“Last week Pope Francis convened a summit to discuss clergy sexual abuse. Silence still shrouds clergy abuse of women(link is external). In early February, the pope acknowledged the Catholic Church had faced a persistent problem of sexual abuse of nuns by clergy members. Reports have surfaced worldwide, and the pope admitted that nuns have spoken out for years. In November, the International Union of Superiors General, representing 500,000 nuns, had urged its members to bypass the church and report to law enforcement directly, citing a “culture of silence and secrecy.” Where are the voices of the American sisters?” By Ann Wolf Hodges and John T. Chibnall, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Child Victims Act opens door to $20 million suit against Catholic Church
“A former Queens man is using a new law to re-file a $20 million lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn(link is external) and other religious institutions, claiming they allowed his convicted sexual abuser Robert Oliva to molest him for years as a child. James Carlino filed his second suit Tuesday (Mar. 5) in Queens Supreme Court, thanks to the new Child Victims Act that expands statute of limitations on civil cases.” By Elizabeth Rosner and Lia Eustachewich, New York Post

‘Give victims a taste of justice.’ Sexual assault survivors plead for more time to file suit over past abuse in New Jersey
“Bearing photos of themselves as children, six sisters came to a Statehouse hearing in Trenton on Thursday (Mar. 7) to plead with a panel of state lawmakers to vote in favor of bill allowing child sex assault victims in New Jersey to sue over past abuse(link is external). Five of the Fortney sisters say they were sexually assaulted decade ago by Father Augustine Giella, a priest who was transferred to their parish in western Pennsylvania from the Archdiocese of Newark. They are still seeking answers.” By Susan K. Livio, NJ Advance Media for

Legislature considers sex abuse investigation of Catholic Church
“The Hawaii House and Senate are also voting on separate proposals to eliminate the statute of limitations for child sex abuse claims(link is external). Last summer, a Minnesota law firm published a 50-page booklet listing Hawaii priests accused of child sex abuse. The alphabetical list started with Marc Alexander, who is currently serving as Honolulu’s housing director and has denied 2016 allegations by a minor in Kailua. It ended with Douglas Zlatis, who was accused by two students at Father Damien Memorial School and died in 2009.” By Anita Hofschneider, Honolulu Civil Beat

Maryland looks at eliminating statute of limitations on child sexual abuse
“Maryland’s House of Delegates is considering a bill that would eliminate the statute of limitations in civil claims of child sex abuse(link is external). The House Judiciary Committee heard testimony on the bill on Thursday (Feb. 28) from survivors and advocates. Among them were the bill’s sponsor, Del. C.T. Wilson, who was sexually abused as a child himself. In addition to firsthand accounts of abuse, the committee heard from various survivor organizations, as well as those who deal with legally pursuing sex abuse cases.” By Keara Dowd,

Priest scandal sparks debate of Iowa bill to end statute of limitations on sex crimes against minors
“Charges of sexual assault and other sexual crimes against minors could be tried at any time under legislation being considered by state lawmakers(link is external). The proposal would eliminate Iowa’s current statute of limitations on those crimes. Currently, sexual assault charges must be brought within 10 years of the alleged victim turning 18 years old or within three years of an alleged perpetrator being identified by DNA evidence.” By Erin Murphy, Sioux City Journal


Jenkins announces university plans to address Catholic Church sexual abuse crisis
“University President Fr. John Jenkins announced Notre Dame’s plans to address the Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal(link is external) in a statement to the campus community Monday (Mar. 4). ‘I have heard from many in the campus community how the stories of the past months disheartened and challenged their faith,’ Jenkins said in the statement. ‘True faith calls us not to be discouraged by human sin, but to focus more completely on the hope offered by Christ … Our response, then, demands prayer and reflection, but we must also act.’” By The Observer

Is the Catholic Church still covering up child sex abuse on the grounds that it is a ‘pontifical secret’?
“For a while, I thought Pope Francis was a good man(link is external). I was quite moved when he comforted a child who had been told one of his parents was going to hell due to his atheism, telling him a loving God would never do such a thing. He spoke openly about reforming the monolith the Roman Church has become, and I was delighted. Here, I thought, was the kind of leader the church needed in the 21st century. But alas, the mask quickly began to slip.” By Shane Dunphy,


Local priest accused of child molestation placed on leave
“A local priest is under investigation after being accused of child molestation(link is external). A letter was read to parishioners at St. Joseph Catholic Church during mass Sunday (Mar. 3) on behalf of Bishop Armando Ochoa stating that Father Miguel Flores is on leave while the Diocese of Fresno investigates allegation of sex abuse of a minor. Parishioners gasped audibly when it was announced at masses that their priest has been suspended from pastoral duties because of allegations of child molestation. Flores was placed on paid leave Feb. 28.” By Mary Kate Paquette,, Fresno, California


Review of sex abuse by Catholic priests will not include one-third of Colorado’s publicly accused clergy
“For five years in the late 1960s and early ’70s, a Catholic brother used ether to subdue at least 23 teenage boys at a Catholic high school in Pueblo. He told them he was conducting an “experiment.” Instead, they alleged in a lawsuit, he molested and raped them in the band room(link is external) … But Mueller’s case and at least eight others like it will not be included in the third-party review announced last month by the state attorney general and the Catholic Church in Colorado because Mueller was supervised by a religious order, not a diocese.” By Elise Schmelzer, Denver Post


Guest Column: Catholic church needs an abrupt 180
“Carl Hiassen’s March 2 column was right; the pope must confront the pain of Catholic congregants. The survival of the human race depends on morality and religion must be its guardian(link is external). That’s why it’s unacceptable for the Catholic Church’s Meeting on Sexual Abuse (Feb. 24, 2019) to end without a plan. Five strategies have been proposed for years to address these problems. It’s time they were enacted.” Commentary by Diana Milesko in


Indiana attorney general provides forum to report abusive clergy
“Attorney General Curtis Hill’s office is providing an online form enabling individuals to more easily report instances involving alleged abuse by clergy. The form may be found at his homepage at is external). ‘Recent national and international reports of alleged abuse committed by clergy members have prompted widespread concerns,’ Hill said in a statement. ‘Hoosiers are understandably worried that this kind of criminal activity might go underreported even here in Indiana. As a result, we have decided to make sure citizens have an available means of reporting any potential abuse so that authorities at all levels of government can pursue justice for victims.’” By News-Sentinel Staff


Whitmer asks for $2 million to investigate Catholic clergy sex abuse
“Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has asked the state Legislature to approve a $2 million supplemental allocation for a state investigation into clergy sexual abuse within the Catholic Church(link is external). The $2 million is expected to pay for the entirety of the investigation and would be funded by state settlement money, said Kelly Rossman-McKinney, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Dana Nessel.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News


Diocese of Sioux City releases sexual abuse list
“The Catholic Diocese of Sioux City released a list of priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors(link is external). Some victims claim that it may be too little, too late. Pope Francis recently lead a meeting on clerical sexual abuse. He made a call “for an all-out battle against the abuse of minors” and insisted that the church needed to protect the children “from ravenous wolves.” Despite this vow “to combat this evil that strikes at the very heart of our mission,” critics are saying the speech was short of a detailed battle plan.” By Mary Hartnett, KWIT-FM Sioux City


Kentucky priest, team chaplain accused of sex abuse
“A Catholic priest who was often seen on the bench alongside Rick Pitino’s Kentucky and Louisville basketball teams has been suspended on allegations he sexually abused a minor(link is external) in the 1980s.

Father Joseph Edward Bradley was ‘temporarily suspended’ by the Diocese of Owensboro, according to a statement Friday (Mar. 1). The diocese received a report that he had sexually abused a minor ‘in the 1980s while he was principal at Owensboro Catholic High School.’” By, Owensboro, Kentucky


Sentencing of former Massachusetts priest delayed for mental evaluation
“The sentencing of a former Massachusetts priest for sexually assaulting an altar boy(link is external) in Maine has been pushed back to allow for a mental health evaluation. Ronald Paquin was found guilty of 11 of 24 counts of gross sexual misconduct in November. The Portland Press Herald reports lawyers for Paquin filed a motion last week to request the evaluation and a judge granted it.” By Associated Press on


Minnesota priests gather to listen, reflect on church’s sex abuse crisis
“Father Kevin Finnegan said he didn’t know what to expect when he arrived at St. Peter in Mendota. The pastor of Our Lady of Grace in Edina was responding to an invitation Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda had extended to priests of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis(link is external): to join him for an evening to reflect on the clergy sexual abuse crisis. But Father Finnegan was grateful he went.” By Maria Wiering, Catholic News Service, on


Catholic Church challenges attorney general’s subpoenas
“The Catholic church pushed back against state investigators this month, asking a judge to toss the 400 subpoenas the Nebraska attorney general served on churches(link is external) and schools this week seeking evidence of clergy sex abuse of minors. Short of that, church officials asked a judge to give them more time to comply, and to force Attorney General Doug Peterson to narrow his requests.” By Peter Salter and riley Johnson, Lincoln Journal Star


New Jersey bishop’s statement highlights efforts to ensure safe environment
“A statement signed by New Jersey bishops details ongoing efforts to ensure safe environments for children and youth(link is external), deal with clergy charged with abuse and assist victims in their process of healing. The March 4 statement was provided to the 120 state legislators and media outlets by the New Jersey Catholic Conference, the public policy arm of the state’s bishops, in Trenton.” By Catholic News Service on

List of accused Catholic priests brings dread
“One of the recent reports from a state’s Roman Catholic dioceses listing names of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse of children hit close to home for me(link is external). When I saw news reports last month that New Jersey’s dioceses had released the names of 188 priests and deacons, I felt compelled to go online to see if any of those priests had served at my childhood parish in the Camden Diocese.” By Carol Balinski, Reading Eagle

New Jersey Catholic dioceses must build on list of accused clergy
“The recent release by New Jersey’s Roman Catholic dioceses of a list of 188 priests and deacons credibly accused of sexually abusing children brought heartbreak anew(link is external). Innocents were harmfully exploited for decades, and few of the accused faced anything like justice. Putting together and releasing the list, however, was also a good if much-belated start for New Jersey’s five dioceses to finally come clean about their history of failing to protect children and even covering up cases of abuse.” By Atlantic City Breaking News

Parents are often forgotten victims of Catholicism’s sex abuse scandal
“When she talks about the Catholic Church, you can hear the sound of Phyllis Hanratty’s breaking heart. Hanratty’s son, Edward Jr., said he was abused by a Catholic priest for several years(link is external) in the late 1980s when the family lived in Ridgefield Park and were loyal members of St. Francis of Assisi parish.” By Mike Kelly, North Jersey Record


AG investigation names two more priests
“The state Attorney General’s Office is investigating two Catholic priests in connection with the repeated rape of a boy over several years(link is external) in the 1980s while they served as church leaders in Albuquerque and as Boy Scout leaders while on outings in ‘wilderness areas’ of New Mexico.” By Matthew Reisen, Albuquerque Journal


Report clergy sex abuse to police, not the church
“Imagine your child was sexually abused at a place synonymous with goodwill. A school. A close neighbor’s home. A church. What would your first reaction be?(link is external) For most people, the answer is straightforward: Call local law enforcement. Despite this common-sense reaction, the Catholic church is reinforcing the same dangerous practices that protected its power at the expense of children’s safety by still encouraging reports of abuse be made directly to the Catholic church.” Commentary by Tim Hale, Albany Times Union

Catholic group urges Buffalo’s bishop to adopt reforms in wake of abuse scandal
“The Buffalo Diocese must do more to assist clergy sex abuse survivors and to disclose the depth and scale of abuses perpetrated on children and vulnerable adults, according to an organized group of Catholic worshippers. Those are among nine key recommendations from the group, which has been meeting since December to find ways of rebuilding trust in the diocese in the wake of a clergy sex abuse scandal that has rattled the faithful. The group calling itself the Movement to Restore Trust urged Bishop Richard J. Malone(link is external)to offer one-on-one and group listening sessions with sex abuse victims, as well as a full spectrum of ‘independent, trauma-informed counseling services, treatments and therapies’ and a more sensitive and responsive intake program.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Local nun, priests among the names uncovered in sex abuse claims process
“In the first claim of child sexual abuse resolved under the Rochester diocese’s reconciliation program(link is external), the diocese agreed to pay $125,000 to a man who said he was victimized years ago. The priest in question, the Rev. Bernard A. L. Carges, had never been identified publicly as an abuser until the victim’s lawyer provided his name.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle

Ithaca College, Cornell priest accused of sexual abuse of a minor
“A priest who served at Ithaca College and Cornell University has been accused of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). In an Intercom message sent out to the campus community, Hierald Osorto, Ithaca College’s director of the Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, said the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester alerted the school it had received notice of an allegation against Rev. Carsten Martensen, who has served in campus ministry for both schools since 2007, for abuse that allegedly occurred in the 1970s.” By Katie Sullivan Borrelli, Ithaca Journal

Day of reckoning: A wave of fresh accusations against priests has been unleashed
“After decades of anguish and argument over sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, a final reckoning may be coming for New York parishioners(link is external). Over the last quarter century, sexual abuse allegations, some of them horrendous, have been lodged in fits and starts against more than 400 priests and others associated with the church in New York state. The church hierarchy has been accused of concealing the truth about sexual misconduct as well. But the number of past accusations and admissions pale in comparison to what’s happening today, and what will happen in the months ahead.” By Steve Orr and Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat & Chronicle


Time will tell if abuse scandals affects gifts to Catholic Church
“Ash Wednesday. It’s a time when Christians to pray, fast, reflect and repent in the 40 days before Easter. Some members of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus and other Ohio dioceses that have released lists of clergy members accused of sexually abusing children might also be thinking about their monetary contributions to the church(link is external).” By Mark Ferenchik, The Columbus Dispatch

Advocates decry diocese’s consideration of accusers’ reputations as ‘sickening’
“Victim advocates say the fact that the Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus considers an accuser’s reputation when determining the credibility of sexual-abuse allegations is ‘atrocious(link is external)’ and comes across as victim blaming. ‘That’s sickening … Who do they think they are?’ asked Judy Jones, Midwest regional director for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). ‘So many victims, they’re struggling, they’re going through so many things.’” By Danae King, Columbus Dispatch

Columbus diocese releases priests sex-abuse list
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus released a list Friday (Mar. 1) of 34 clergy members who were ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing children(link is external). The latest abuse case on the list occurred more than 25 years ago. The diocese said that it reviewed files on almost 2,000 clergy members who served in the diocese since it was founded in 1868.” By Danae King, Columbus Dispatch


Catholic priest in Philadelphia arrested and charged with raping teen girl and recording sex act
“A Catholic priest in Philadelphia has been charged with raping a teen girl, corrupting her morals and recording her in a sex act(link is external), court records and the priest’s lawyer confirm. The Rev. Armand Garcia, 49, turned himself in for booking early Monday and posted his $250,000 bail hours later, his lawyer William J. Brennan told the Daily News.” By Nancy Dillon, Daily News

Bishop releases plan to address clergy child sex abuse
“Bishop David Zubik has created a five-point plan of action for the Diocese of Pittsburgh to address concerns raised during a series of ‘listening sessions’(link is external) held following last year’s release of a grand jury report chronicling decades of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. The action plan contained in a pastoral letter titled ‘The Church Healing’ that was released on Monday (Mar. 4) ‘goes beyond issues directly related to sexual abuse’ to address: accountability and transparency in church governance, spiritual and human formation for clergy and seminarians, and providing additional channels for parishioners to bring their concerns to the bishop.” By Tony Larussa,

Pennsylvania prosecutor fights clergy sex abuse as she maintains Catholic faith
“When allegations of past sexual abuse were first made against a priest(link is external) at St. Clement Catholic Church in Johnstown, Pa., Cambria County District Attorney Kelly Callihan recognized the name immediately. The Rev. George Koharchik had been her family’s pastor for the decade he served at St. Clement’s, from 1974 to 1984. When each of her four eldest siblings got married, ‘he had such a connection with us that he came back to do the weddings,’ Callihan, the sixth of nine children, recalled in a recent interview at her second-floor courthouse office.” By Bobby Ross, Jr., Religion News Service


As Vatican conference on sexual abuse ends, Charleston Diocese on track to release list of credibly accused
“Last Sunday (Oct. 24), Pope Francis ended his unprecedented summit at the Vatican on preventing clergy sexual abuse. At the same time, the Charleston Diocese is preparing to take its own unprecedented measure. A spokeswoman for the Diocese confirmed earlier this week that the diocese is still on track to release its list of priests credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external) by the end of March, a move that will surely spark plenty of conversation in the ‘Holy City’ once the list is revealed.” By Live 5 News Web


Vermont Catholic bishop sees progress in abuse scandal
“Ask Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne about the church’s progress on worldwide concerns about priest misconduct and his initial words aren’t promising(link is external). ‘I’ve been a member of the Catholic Church all my life, ordained for 33 years, a bishop for eight years and I lived in Rome 4½ years — I know the glacial speed in which the church works.’ Even so, Coyne says recent developments at the global and state level give him reason for hope.” By Kevin O’Connor,


Name of bishop who mishandled clergy abuse removed from Green Bay cathedral building
“The Catholic Diocese of Green Bay has removed a former bishop’s name from a cathedral center(link is external) because of the bishop’s reported mishandling of clergy abuse complaints. The Bishop Wycislo Center, an addition to the St. Francis Xavier Cathedral, will now be called the Cathedral Center.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press Gazette


Independent panels to ensure transparency
“Broken Bay Diocese has appointed two independent panels to further the diocese’s commitment to safeguarding, transparency and accountability. The appointment of the panels follows the September 2018 launch of the Diocesan Office for Safeguarding, an initiative commenced under the leadership of former Broken Bay bishop Archbishop Peter A. Comensoli. The office marked the first stage of a new structure for the safeguarding of children and vulnerable adults within Broken Bay(link is external) by drawing together the valuable work being done in safeguarding, child protection and professional standards across the diocese’s administration, parishes, schools and CatholicCare Broken Bay.” By

Former Catholic priest sexually abused boy over six-year period, Brisbane court hears
“A Brisbane Catholic school priest and teacher took nude photographs of a young student on school grounds and at school excursions over several years from the mid-1970s, a Brisbane court has heard. Former Villanova College priest Michael Ambrose Endicott, 75, pleaded not guilty in the District Court in Brisbane to eight counts of unlawfully and indecently dealing with a child under 12 years old(link is external) and under 16 years old.” By Rachel Riga, Australian Broadcasting Company


Police hunted for secret church archives during probe of abuse allegations at St. Anne’s residential school
“When OPP Det. Greg Delguidice was preparing to look into widespread allegations of physical and sexual abuse by priests, nuns and staff at St. Anne’s Indian Residential School(link is external) in northern Ontario, he did some homework first. As part of the investigation 25 years ago, Delguidice studied up on the Roman Catholic Church’s canon law and learned of archives held by dioceses that contain records of sensitive information about priests.” By Jorge Barrera and Lynette, CBC News


Chilean priest accused of a abuse, cardinal accused of cover-up
“Chile’s Roman Catholic church, already the target of Vatican sanctions, was being shaken Tuesday (Mar. 5) by yet another allegation of priestly abuse and high-level cover-up(link is external). Daniel Rojas Alvarez, a 43-year-old indigent man, appeared on a state television broadcast Monday night saying that a priest at the Santiago Cathedral had drugged and raped him in 2015. He said Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati had given him money when told of the attack and told him not to report it.” By Eva Vergara, Associated Press, on


Costa Rican police raid Church offices after priests accused of sex abuse
“The offices of the Archdiocese of San José and the Costa Rican bishops’ conference were raided by police Thursday (Mar. 7) as part of an investigation of two priests accused of sex abuse(link is external). The Judiciary Investigation Department confiscated computers and files March 7 in search of information regarding Fathers Manuel Antonio Guevara Fonseca and Mauricio Viquez Lizano, and proof of potential cover-up by Archbishop José Rafael Quiros Quiros of San Jose, according to the AP.” By Catholic News Agency


101 of Mexico’s 152 church sex abuse cases being prosecuted
“The head of the Mexican bishops’ conference says 101 of the 157 cases in which Roman Catholic priests have been implicated in sex abuse(link is external) have been turned over to prosecutors. The bishops’ council previously said 152 priests had been removed from the ministry over the last nine years for sex abuse offences against ‘youths or vulnerable adults.’” By Associated Press on

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Abuse summit achieved something, but not what pope or bishops expected / National Catholic Reporter

“The clergy abuse phenomenon is the worst crisis the church has experienced in more than a thousand years. The Protestant Reformation and its follow-on, the Council of Trent, were about doctrine, church structures and inept clergy. This is about something far worse, the pandemic of sexual violation and rape of countless vulnerable people, especially children, and the systemic enabling of the same by the popes and the hierarchy.” (Tom Doyle in National Catholic Reporter)

The so-called ‘summit’ on the clergy sex abuse crisis was not a total failure. The process and the outcome of the Feb. 21-24 meeting of bishops at the Vatican were clearly a serious disappointment to the victim-survivors, their families and countless others who hoped for something concrete to happen. The accomplishments can only be understood in the context of the totality of the event: the speeches, especially those of the three women, the bishops’ deliberations, the media reaction, and the presence and participation of the victims-survivors from at least 20 countries.

“I have been directly involved in this nightmare since 1984, when the reality of sexual violation of the innocent by clerics, and the systemic lying and cover-up by the hierarchy (from the papacy on down) emerged from layers of ecclesiastical secrecy into the open. By 1985, Pope John Paul II and several high-ranking Vatican clerics possessed detailed information about what was quickly turning into the church’s worst crisis since the Dark Ages …

“.. The clergy abuse phenomenon is the worst crisis the church has experienced in more than a thousand years. The Protestant Reformation and its follow-on, the Council of Trent, were about doctrine, church structures and inept clergy. This is about something far worse, the pandemic of sexual violation and rape of countless vulnerable people, especially children, and the systemic enabling of the same by the popes and the hierarchy.

“When will it be over and what is needed to fix it? The answers are obvious, but they invoke such fear in the clerical elite that they aren’t even able to discuss them. This nightmare will continue as long as the hierarchical system that created and sustained it exists in its present state. The reasons for this phenomenon are deeply rooted in the church’s institutional structures and the theological excuses that support them.

“It will take a radical, fundamental process of change before the entire church truly reflects what it is supposed to be, the people of God.”

By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Women’s authority can help heal our church’s broken governance / National Catholic Reporter

Is Catholic governance fatally crippled by our failure to address/accept human sexuality and/or unhealthy shame over one’s God-given gender or sexual orientation? (National Catholic Reporter)

I suppose Women’s History Month is a good time to weigh in on current discussions and disagreements about women deacons and women priests in the Catholic Church.

“In some ways, it seems a fluffy conversation in light of recent revelations about our grievously wounded clerical system.

“But perhaps that is exactly why we need to have this discussion.

“Is Catholic governance fatally crippled by our failure to address/accept human sexuality and/or unhealthy shame over one’s God-given gender or sexual orientation?

“Yes, I have been reading Frédéric Martel’s ‘In the Closet of the Vatican.’

“Martel writes that a high percentage of priests and bishops are gay, and that they protected predators out of fear that their own homosexuality would be revealed. For Martel, the need to maintain silence about the prevalence of homosexuality within the clerical system allowed sexual abuse to be hidden and predators to act.

“While his book has been both praised and reviled, I found his hypothesis about the systemic effects of shame-based duplicity and homophobia worth considering. …”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Cardinal George Pell of Australia sentenced to sex years in prison / The New York Times

“I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,” the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd, said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: “Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance.” (The New York Times)

George Pell, an Australian cardinal who was the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday (Mar. 13), for molesting two boys after Sunday Mass in 1996.

“The cardinal was convicted on five counts in December, making him the most senior Catholic official — and the first bishop — to be found guilty in a criminal court for sexually abusing minors, according to, which tracks cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

“Cardinal Pell, who stood stone-faced with lips pursed when his sentence was read aloud, will not be eligible for parole for three years and eight months.

“‘I would characterize these breaches and abuses as grave,’ the chief judge in the case, Peter Kidd, said during the sentencing. Speaking directly to Cardinal Pell, he added: ‘Your conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance.'”

By Livia Albeck-Ripka and Damien Cave, The New York Times — Read more …

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One Step Forward / Commonweal

One line in particular from (Cardinal Blase) Cupich (of Chicago) stood out: his claim that the “structural elements” of reform would not be enough unless “we anchor all our deliberations in the piercing pain of those who have been abused and of the families who have suffered with them.” (Commonweal)

In the lead-up to last month’s four-day Vatican summit on the sexual abuse of minors, organizers made a concerted effort to lower expectations. A crisis decades in the making, the full scope of which is still coming into view, would not be solved in one meeting, they insisted. There would be no sweeping policy changes from on high, no declaration from Pope Francis that definitively addressed every concern about how the church handles sexual abuse, no “closure.” But even if such a gathering was never intended to do everything, it’s still fair to ask whether it did enough.

“The unsatisfying answer is that no one knows—yet.

“The effectiveness of the summit may only be revealed in the weeks, months, and perhaps years ahead, after the bishops have returned home and continue—or in some cases, start—the work of responding to, and safeguarding against, sexual abuse. It’s an approach in line with what Francis once described as a “healthy decentralization,” recognizing that bishops in different parts of the world might need to develop different strategies, perhaps above all when it comes to how the church relates to civil authorities. But this shouldn’t be mistaken for a lackadaisical, “hands-off” approach. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith will provide the bishops with a handbook that clearly lays out their responsibilities for dealing with accusations of abuse—and, as Austen Ivereigh points out, the 2016 motu propio “As a Loving Mother” makes it clear they’ll be removed if they fail. It was also announced at the summit that special task forces would be created to offer bishops additional support. And there were proposals for how the bishops themselves, along with religious superiors, should be held accountable. Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich offered a framework, rooted in synodality, for discussion and discernment about such reforms.”

By The Editors at Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful “Focus” News Roundup

March 1, 2019


Pope defrocks Theodore McCarrick, ex-cardinal accused of sexual abuse
Pope Francis has expelled Theodore E. McCarrick, a former cardinal and archbishop of Washington, from the priesthood(link is external), after the church found him guilty of sexually abusing minors and adult seminarians over decades, the Vatican said on Saturday (Feb. 16). The move appears to be the first time any cardinal has been defrocked for sexual abuse — marking a critical moment in the Vatican’s handling of a scandal that has gripped the church for nearly two decades. It is also the first time an American cardinal has been removed from the priesthood.”By Elizabeth Dias and Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Australian Cardinal George Pell convicted of child sex abuse
A high-ranking Catholic official has been convicted of child sex abuse(link is external)and is due to be sentenced Wednesday (Feb. 27). Australian Cardinal George Pell, a top adviser to Pope Francis who was in charge of Vatican finances until he was accused, was found guilty of five charges of ‘historical child sexual offenses’ that go back decades. A jury in the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne where Pell, 77, was once archbishop, found the cardinal guilty after two days of deliberation in December.” By Richard Gonzales, National Public Radio

After abuse crisis, Holy Spirit planning new ‘season’ for the church
“The laity may be angry over the most recent revelations of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse crisis, but bishops, particularly younger ones, share in that anger and ‘want to move with real force’ toward solutions and it could yield a new season for the church(link is external), said the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops Feb. 6.” By Rhina Guidos, Catholic News Service, on

Why does the Catholic Church keep failing on sexual abuse, By Emma Green
“A few years after Seán O’Malley took over the Archdiocese of Boston in 2003, at the peak of the clergy sexual-abuse crisis in America(link is external), he led novenas of penance at nine of the city’s most affected parishes. At each church he visited, he lay facedown on the floor before the altar, begging for forgiveness. This is how O’Malley has spent his life in ministry: cleaning up after pedophile priests and their apologists, and serving as the Catholic Church’s public face of repentance and reform.” By Emma Green, The Atlantic

How Long, O Lord, Must We Wait
“How long O Lord? How long must we wait for both clergy and laity to recognize that incremental change will not work(link is external)? We need wide-ranging structural reform. We need checks and balances rather than the feudal governance we have now in which each bishop is the undisputed master of his diocesan fief. Catholic patience is (finally) running out. And many Catholics are working to find solutions rather than enable the present moribund clerical system.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

Click here to read the rest of this issue of Focus …

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