Archive for September, 2019

Voice of the Faithful members gather for 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church

BOSTON, Mass., Sept. 24, 2019 – The present crisis in the life of the Catholic Church, which has been called the biggest “since the Protestant Reformation of the 16th century,” is drawing members of the Church reform group Voice of the Faithful together in the Boston area for their 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church. Founded in 2002 during heightened awareness of clergy sexual abuse of minors in the Boston Archdiocese, VOTF seeks a church with greater transparency, accountability, and lay involvement in Church governance.

VOTF’s 2019 Conference: Creating a Just Church takes place on Saturday, Oct. 19, 9 a.m.-4 p.m., at the Boston Marriott Newton, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, Mass. In addition to featured speakers and a panel discussion addressing Church scandal in local faith communities, conference attendees will hear the results of VOTF’s “2019 Report on Measuring & Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency.” Conference attendees also will hear from VOTF’s Child Protection Working Group about their vision of a new initiative, which could measure the vigilance of dioceses in following child protection guidelines. The initiative would leverage the way VOTF monitors diocesan online financial information and would be similar to that effort.

A special return guest speaker will be the Honorable Anne M. Burke, Illinois Supreme Court Justice, who spoke to us at our 10th Anniversary Conference in 2012. For more than two years, she served as the interim chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board, directing its efforts to investigate the causes and effects of the clerical sexual abuse scandal and helping to establish guidelines and policies for effectively responding to the scandal. She will provide invaluable perspective on the abuse scandal.

Justice Burke will be joined by Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center Exec. Dir. Char Rivette. Together, they will show how ChicagoCAC can be a model for battling clergy child abuse in your diocese. ChicagoCAC is Chicago’s front-line responder to reports of child sexual abuse, physical and other serious abuse, and the only not-for-profit coordinating the efforts of child protection staff, law enforcement professionals, family advocates, medical experts, and mental health clinicians under one roof.

A second featured speaker will be Fr. Richard Lennan, professor of systematic theology at Boston College. He presently directs Boston College’s sacred theology licenture program. Together with Boston College theology professors Thomas Groome and Richard Gaillardetz, Prof. Lennan wrote “To Serve the People of God: Renewing the Conversation on Priesthood and Ministry,” which calls for reexamining the formation process for diocesan priests and eradicating the priesthood’s embedded clerical culture. The paper resulted from a seminar at Boston College begun in 2016 and composed of lay and ordained, women and men, theologians and ministers working in pastoral and academic settings.

In addition, the conference will feature a panel discussion during which parishioners from the Cincinnati, Ohio, Washington, D.C., and Buffalo, New York, areas will discuss actions they are taking at the grassroots level to help create a just Church in light of scandals particular to their communities. Discussions of issues arising from the panel presentations and question and answer period will continue during lunch. Conference attendees will have the chance to ask the panel members about the broad variety of activities in which they are engaged and which have energized both their local faith communities and faith communities they have contacted in other parts of the country.

Additional information and links for online conference registration, online hotel reservations, and downloadable registration forms are at

Voice of the Faithful News Release, Sept. 24, 2019
Nick Ingala, sends e-mail), 781-559-3360
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

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 13, 2019


Vatican authorizes ‘Vos Estis’ investigation into Minnesota bishop Hoeppner
“Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first sitting U.S. bishop to be investigated under new misconduct protocols introduced by Pope Francis earlier this year(link is external). Hoeppner, Bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, will be investigated by Minneapolis’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda, on charges that Hoeppner thwarted a police or canonical investigation of clerical sexual misconduct in his diocese. “I have been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston,” Hebda told CNA Sept. 10.” By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency, in The Pilot

Wyoming bishop a perfect test case for Pope’s vows of accountability
“Ask the typical American Catholic in the pews, and most could probably tell you a fair bit about Theodore McCarrick … By way of contrast, few rank-and-file churchgoers outside of Cheyenne, Wyoming, or Kansas City, Missouri, could probably pick Bishop Joseph Hart out of a lineup – and that relative obscurity is precisely what makes Hart such an ideal test case for Pope Francis’s avowed commitment to accountability(link is external), including for bishops.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

In secret recording, Buffalo bishop admits new scandal ‘could force me to resign’
“New audio recording reveals embattled Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, New York seeking to contain yet another public relations crisis in his diocese, saying he feared it could force his resignation(link is external). The audio files, released on Wednesday (Sept. 4) by WKBW, were recorded on August 2 by Malone’s priest secretary, Father Ryszard Biernat, who took a leave of absence from his post, beginning August 14.” By Christopher White,

Denounce abuse clergy
“Five months ago, The Hoya published an investigation identifying 14 former Georgetown University religious leaders credibly accused of sexual abuse(link is external) — including two associate deans, three chaplains in residence and seven professors. The university’s only response was to add two brief paragraphs on its website reaffirming that none of the abuse had occurred on campus … To demonstrate that Georgetown is capable of acting morally — and not simply taking calculative actions to protect its reputation — Georgetown must publicly condemn the 14 abusive religious leaders and organize university-wide dialogue on its historical connection to clerical abuse.” By Yumna Naqvi, The Hoya

Indictment of former Pennsylvania priest signals aggressive new reach by federal prosecutors in clergy sex abuse investigation
“Two priests have been convicted; one other awaits trial. That’s about the sum total of legal action that has taken place in the wake of the Pennsylvania grand jury report on clergy sex abuse, which identified more than 300 predator priests statewide. That narrative could be about to change(link is external). Last week, federal prosecutors dealt the latest salvo in what is fast becoming a tide of aggressive new strategies to criminally prosecute child sex predators and their accomplices in the Catholic Church.” By Ivey DeJesus,


In U.S. tour, Marie Collins exposes clerical culture behind abuse cover-up
“The Catholic Church has reached a crossroads. Its leaders can either change, become open and accountable, or maintain the status quo(link is external): an institution lacking transparency, wrapped in secrecy and beholden to a clerical culture that is at the heart of the institution’s problems. That bleak assessment was made by Marie Collins, the Irish clerical sexual abuse survivor who was an original member of a papal commission dealing with the sex abuse crisis, and who said she is ‘hanging on by my fingernails.’ The scandal, she said in remarks Sept. 8 opening a five-city U.S. tour, is both systemic and global, and clericalism remains at its core.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal Dolan considering options over scandal-hit buffalo diocese
“The Catholic Herald has learned that the Archdiocese of New York is closely monitoring the crisis in the Diocese of Buffalo(link is external), and that broad consultations are ongoing, with a view to possible action. The embattled Bishop of Buffalo, Richard J. Malone, faced several new calls for his resignation … The director of communications for the Archdiocese of New York, Joseph Zwilling, told the Catholic Herald, ‘[The Archbishop of New York,] Cardinal [Timothy] Dolan, is very aware of his responsibilities as Metropolitan under Vos estis [lux mundi],’ the reform law Pope Francis enacted this past spring to streamline ecclesiastical investigations into clerical abuse and remove obstacles to investigations of abuse coverup.” By Christopher Altieri, Catholic Herald

Catholic diocese needs a new leader
“In recent months, Richard Malone, the embattled bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, continued to receive support from members of the Movement to Restore Trust, an advisory group of local Catholics that was formed in response to a recent rash of sexual abuse allegations facing members of the clergy. On Thursday (Sept. 5), that all changed. The group of lay Catholics who had been working with Malone to develop reforms in hopes of moving the diocese forward joined a chorus of critics who have been calling on the bishop to resign(link is external). In a statement issued to the media this week, members of the Movement to Restore Trust members determined that Malone’s actions in response to the sex abuse scandal threaten to set the diocese “back several decades.” By The Editorial Board of the Niagara Gazette

List: Every abusive Catholic Church priest, clergy member named in every state in past year
“In mid-August last year, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro read a grand jury report that listed more than 300 abusive priests in Pennsylvania. A month later, dioceses in Arkansas and San Diego released their own lists of priests and clergy members who were credibly accused of child sex abuse. Since then, there have been hundreds of abusive clergy named every month by dioceses, religious orders and lawyers across the country(link is external). At least 20 attorneys general in other states have followed Shapiro’s lead and launched similar statewide investigations.” By Candy Woodall, York Daily Record

The Vatican makes a dramatic move against a crisis-hit cardinal
“There appears to be no imminent finale to the corruption scandal(link is external) that has dogged the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church and its head, Cardinal George Alencherry. In a dramatic move earlier this week, the Vatican stripped the cardinal of his administrative powers just three months after he was controversially reinstated (after being earlier suspended) – to the chagrin of many priests and members of the laity in the southern state of Kerala.” By Saptarshi Ray, Catholic Herald


Theodore McCarrick still won’t confess
“On a cloudy Sunday morning in August, Father John Schmeidler delivered a brisk homily at St. Fidelis Catholic Church on the virtue of trusting that God always has a plan. There were at least 200 people listening in the pews, almost 20 percent of this rural prairie town’s population: large families, young couples, elderly people, men in jeans and cowboy boots. There’s not a single other church in town. Even if we just do our simple daily duties, Father John told them that Sunday, ‘our God brings great things.’ Last fall, God brought to Victoria an unexpected visitor: Theodore McCarrick(link is external), once the most powerful Catholic priest in America.” By Ruth Graham, Slate

Seton Hall investigation finds McCarrick harassed seminarians
“A yearlong investigation by Seton Hall University confirmed that Theodore McCarrick, the laicized cardinal who had been archbishop of Newark from 1986 to 2000, had sexually harassed seminarians(link is external) during his tenure as head of the archdiocese. ‘McCarrick created a culture of fear and intimidation that supported his personal objectives. McCarrick used his position of power as then-archbishop of Newark to sexually harass seminarians,’ said the 700-word “update,” dated Aug. 27.” By Catholic News Service on

Former U.S. Catholic cardinal downplays charges of sexual abuse against him
“Theodore McCarrick, one of the U.S. Catholic Church’s most influential clerics until he was accused a year ago of abusing boys and young men, denied in an interview published Tuesday (Sept. 3) that he abused someone in the confessional(link is external) – a charge for which the Vatican defrocked him. McCarrick spoke briefly to Ruth Graham of Slate for the piece, which profiles the life of the toppled church leader now that he’s been relegated to living in a friary in the small, western Kansas town of Victoria.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post


Pope Francis: ‘I pray there are no schisms’
“Faced with sustained opposition from Catholic conservatives in the United States who accuse him of driving traditionalists to break with the church, Pope Francis said on Tuesday (Sept. 10) that he hopes it doesn’t come to that, but isn’t frightened of it either. “I pray there are no schisms(link is external),” Francis said in a lengthy news conference aboard the papal plane as he returned from a six-day trip to Africa. “But I’m not scared.” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times


Cardinal-elect was a Francis bishop before Francis
“As the calendar turned to September, Pope Francis, relatively quiet and out of the limelight during the heart of the summer, resurfaced with big news — the appointment of 13 new cardinals, choices that make clear he intends to use that papal prerogative to reshape the hierarchical culture at that elite level … The name that really jumped out at me was Bishop Alvaro Ramazzini of Huehuetenango(link is external), with whom I spent a day during a reporting trip to Guatemala in 2013. Western Guatemala, with all of its stunning natural beauty, is not a normal stop on an upwardly mobile career in the church. It is easy to say — and I have said it — that Ramazzini was a Francis bishop before Francis came along.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

Pope announces names of 13 new cardinals for the missionary Church
“After reciting the Angelus in St Peter’s Square on Sunday (Sept. 1), Pope Francis announced a consistory to be held on 5 October for the nomination of 13 new Cardinals(link is external). He said that the places where these new Cardinals come from express the missionary vocation of the Church as she continues to announce the merciful love of God to every person on earth. After reading their names, the Pope asked everyone to pray for the new Cardinals so that, confirming their adhesion to Christ, they might help in his ministry as Bishop of Rome for the good of all the faithful Holy People of God. The names of the new Cardinals are …” By Vatican News


Two bishops appear on Missouri diocese’s list of substantiated clergy abusers
“The names of two bishops appear on a list of clergy with ‘substantiated abuse of minors allegations(link is external)’ from the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released Sept. 6. The bishops are retired Bishop Joseph H. Hart of Cheyenne, Wyoming, and now-deceased Bishop Joseph V. Sullivan of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. According to the list assembled by the diocese, which dates back to its founding in 1956, the abuse claims for each bishop took place within the Missouri diocese’s territory. Each bishop also had more than one abuse allegation reported.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Embattled Buffalo bishop calls alleged love triangle ‘convoluted’
“In the midst of an ongoing crisis surrounding Bishop Richard Malone’s governance of the Diocese of Buffalo(link is external), newly revealed correspondence suggests a romantic relationship between the bishop’s priest secretary and a former diocesan seminarian who resigned last month. In a press conference on Wednesday (Sept. 4), Malone called the content of the letter ‘a bit concerning’ and the entire situation ‘a very complex, convoluted matter.’” By Christopher White, is external)

Scandal muddies legacy of former Bridgeport bishop, Vatican’s longtime fixer from Baltimore
“Late last summer, Vatican officials realized they had an uncontainable mess – four whistleblowing priests alleging financial and sexual misconduct by the bishop of West Virginia. So they did what Catholic officials have done for decades: They turned to William Lori. From Rome and Washington to Connecticut and then Baltimore, where he is now archbishop(link is external), Lori is often on the front lines when the nation’s largest religious group is facing major scandals or perceived threats to its values and traditions. He is the Vatican’s fixer in the United States.” By Michelle Boorstein, The Washington Post, in The Telegraph


Women must be at tables where church decisions are made
“The Catholic Church is the largest global humanitarian network(link is external), with enormous potential, and therefore responsibility, to address human suffering and complex global challenges. It is also the vehicle through which the Catholic faith is transmitted to nearly 1.3 billion people. Sui generis, with a divine mission, the church is distinct from secular institutions. Nevertheless, it is composed of people, facilities, property and finances that deserve to be handled with the highest levels of ethics, care, accountability and contemporary best management practices.” By Kerry Alys Robinson, Chicago Catholic


Pope Francis orders Vatican to get finances under control
“Pope Francis has ordered the Vatican to rein in spending and get its budget deficit under control. The Wall Street Journal reports the Vatican’s deficit doubled in 2018 to nearly $77 million(link is external) on a budget of about $330 million. Vatican officials are concerned this issue could compromise the pope’s mission and the ability to preserve historic buildings and employee pensions.” By Adam Elrashidi,


Case of Bishop Hart shows role clericalism plays in abuse cover-up
“For years, clergy abuse survivors fought to have Bishop Joseph Hart’s name stripped from the building of St. Joseph’s Children’s Home(link is external) in Torrington, Wyoming – a residence for troubled teenage boys known as the Hart’s Children Center. They had been unsuccessful for over a decade, but after Bishop Steven Biegler arrived in the diocese and deemed two allegations against Hart as credible and substantiated, the name was finally removed in 2018 as a concrete sign that the diocese was acting on the information of abuse.” By Christopher White, The Tablet

Confronting causes of clericalism; original sin, institutional dynamics
“Reforming the priesthood will mean reducing the effects of clericalism. Clericalism is a real thing, not a myth or mirage. It is a sense of elitism and superiority among the clergy that sets them apart from and above the rest of the people in the church(link is external). It affects the way clerical people — clergy and laity — behave. To tackle clericalism, the church must first figure out where it comes from. Then we must figure out how to combat it. I think that clericalism comes from four things: our fallen nature, institutional dynamics, a corrupted tradition, and seminary training.” By Fr. Peter Daly, National Catholic Reporter


Marriage doesn’t solve the priest shortage, says had of Ukrainian Rite
“Archbishop Sviatoslav Shevchuk, Major Archbishop of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church, has urged those considering allowing priests in the Latin rite to marry in order to help solve a crippling shortage, to proceed with caution(link is external), saying marriage has not curbed shortages in his own rite. With five blooming seminaries in Ukraine alone, “thanks be to God we do not lack vocations,” Shevchuk said, but noted that despite the fact that priests in his church … have the ability to marry, the high numbers don’t appear for Greek Catholics in other countries.” By Elise Harris,


In Africa, Pope Francis comes face to face with the future of the Church
“Young men and women wearing the words ‘Pope Francis’ on their backs and ‘Catholic Youth’ on their sleeves packed the bleachers of a stadium in Mozambique on Thursday (Sept. 5) and listened to Francis tell them, ‘You are important!’ ‘You need to believe it,’ Francis said to the raucous crowd at the Maxaquene Pavilion, in the capital, Maputo, where young Africans regaled him with songs and skits(link is external).” By Jason Horowitz, The New York Times

Unclear whether Catholic Church has future in Ireland
“Refusal to face the truth about the state of the Catholic Church in Ireland is ‘a form of religious treason,’ a founder member of the Association of Catholic Priests has said. Fr. Brendan Hoban has claimed those in the church who want to move forward ‘can no longer afford to indulge those who cling to the wreckage of the past(link is external).’” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


CNY clergy abuse victims call for forgiveness of abusers
“A message of forgiveness(link is external) is coming from two victims of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. The two men want to propose an alternative to the anger and bitterness the scandal has wrought.” By Ellen Abbott, WRVO-FM Public Media

The Vigano letter, one year later
“It’s been just about a year since Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò published the now-infamous letter in which he accused Pope Francis of covering up for sexual abusers and ‘the gay lobby’ and called on him to resign. The ‘Viganò letter’ came less than two weeks after the release of the Pennsylvania grand-jury report on clerical sexual abuse and about a month after Francis had asked for the resignation from the college of cardinals of Theodore McCarrick … a crisis that came to a provisional close in mid-September when the leadership of the U.S. bishops’ conference met with Francis in Rome. I say ‘provisional’ because one year later, the crisis hasn’t abated so much as entered a different phase.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal


Lectures at The University of Scranton explore response to clergy sexual abuse
“The University of Scranton’s Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation and Hope will host two public lectures this fall, one exploring ‘Insights from History and Theology’ and the other discussing ‘Prevention, Healing and Reconciliation.’ On Sept. 16, award-winning authors Massimo Faggioli, Ph.D., professor of theology and religious studies at Villanova University, and Rita Ferrone, a writer and frequent speaker on issues of liturgy and church renewal, will discuss lessons that can be gleaned from history about the clergy sexual abuse crisis and how prayer and liturgy can be a source of healing and courage(link is external).” By The Abington Journal

Black victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests got dramatically smaller settlements than white victims
“Two Black male victims who received settlements over sexual abuse allegations against Catholic priests are coming forward to reveal that they were paid far less than white victims(link is external). The Associated Press reports the Diocese secretly paid two Black men from Mississippi $15,000 each, requiring them both to sign NDAs (Non-Disclosure Agreements), also known as confidentiality agreements. In 2006, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson settled lawsuits brought on by 19 different victims. Of those survivors, 17 are white and were paid at least $250,000 each — some up to $1.3 million — in similar settlements.” By Angela Wilson, BET

Buffalo bishops silenced Fr. Ryszard about alleged sex assault
“Ryszard Biernat was just 23 years old when he arrived in the Diocese of Buffalo in 2003. The future secretary to the bishop — who has now become Whistleblower No. 2 in the diocese sex scandal(link is external) — was only a seminarian when he was assigned to stay with Rev. Art Smith at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church in South Buffalo.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News


Former Trumbull priest barred from ministry after review of decades-old sexual abuse claim
“A Catholic priest who retired from a Trumbull parish has been placed on administrative leave and barred from ministering publicly(link is external) after a review found credible evidence he abused a minor more than 35 years ago. The Diocese of Bridgeport was first made aware of the allegation against Rev. Stephen Gleeson in 2002 but recently reviewed it again “based on certain additional information” and concluded the accusation is credible, Bishop Frank Caggiano wrote in a letter late last month to parishioners.” By Zach Murdock, Hartford Courant


Kansas City diocese names priests in ‘the dreadful scourge of sexual abuse of minors’
“Saying that ‘the dreadful scourge of sexual abuse of minors has wounded our entire family of faith(link is external),’ Bishop James V. Johnston Jr. of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph on Friday (Sept. 6) released a list of 24 priests he said have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor. ‘The release of these names cannot change the past,’ Johnston said in a statement. ‘It is merely a step forward in hope, but a necessary step.’” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

Catholic officials names them as abusers. Now these former St. Louis clergy must face their pasts.
“…Dennis J. McClintock, 72, a rehabilitation aide, sat at the edge of the workout floor, sporting an orange Hawaiian shirt, a stark contrast to the white clerical collar he used to wear as a Roman Catholic priest. On July 26, the Archdiocese of St. Louis made a long-awaited splash by releasing a list of former clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Some names were already widely known; their abuse had been the subject of lawsuits and news stories. Others, including McClintock’s, were being made public for the first time.” By Jesse Bogan, Erin Heffernan and Nassim Benchaabane, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


St. Cecelia’s sex assault priest gets four years in prison
“A Roman Catholic priest was sentenced to four years in state prison for sexually assaulting a teenage girl(link is external) while he was a youth group adviser at a church in Woodbridge Township, during the early 1990s. Father Thomas P. Ganley, 64, of Phillipsburg, N.J., was sentenced to four years in state prison by Superior Court Judge Diane Pincus in Middlesex County on August 26, 2019. He pleaded guilty on April 8 to second-degree sexual assault, admitting that he engaged in sexual acts with the victim when she was 16 or 17 years old, at a time when he had supervisory authority over her.” By Staff


More sex abuse lawsuits filed against Catholic priests who served in New Mexico
“Two new lawsuits allege abuse in New Mexico Catholic churches. A woman identified as ‘Jane Doe P’ claims she was sexually molested by a teenage boy in 2001 when she was 10 years old. Her parents sent her to see the priest at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Roswell for spiritual guidance. The lawsuit claims, instead of spiritual guidance, the priest, Father Juan Montoya, raped her inside the church.” By Chris Ramirez, KOB-TV4 News


Diocese of Rochester files bankruptcy, citing sex-abuse lawsuits
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester, facing potentially huge judgments for past sexual abuse by its priests and other ministers, filed bankruptcy(link is external) Thursday (Sept. 12) morning … The petition estimates the diocese’s assets as $50 million to $100 million —and its financial liabilities as $100 million to $500 million. Rochester’s diocese becomes the first of New York state’s eight dioceses, and the 20th nationwide, to seek protection from creditors in bankruptcy court because of financial fallout from the Catholic Church’s decades-long child sexual abuse scandal.” By Steve Orr, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

‘Michael Cohen of Brooklyn Diocese’ faces own sex abuse suit
“The ‘Michael Cohen of the Brooklyn Diocese’ who allegedly worked as a fixer for pedophile priests himself stands accused of child sex abuse by people deeply concerned that he continues to practice in Queens(link is external). Thomas Davis and an anonymous accuser have filed child sex abuse suits against Monsignor Otto Garcia — accused by a Diocese nun of covering up at least three child sex abuse investigations — who currently serves as parochial vicar at the Church of St. Teresa in Woodside, according to his accuser, attorneys and reports.” By Kathleen Culliton, Brooklyn Patch

Disappointment from whistleblower of diocese sex scandal
“Siobhan O’Connor, a whistleblower in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, was among the few protesters standing outside of St. Joseph’s Cathedral(link is external) after Bishop Richard Malone held his press conference Wednesday (Sept. 4) detailing the complex relationship between Father Jeffrey Nowak, seminarian Matthew Bojanowski, and the bishop’s former secretary, Father Ryszard Biernat. During the press conference, the bishop reiterated that he will not resign. At the time, O’Connor only heard bits and pieces of his press conference due to the ambient noise in the background.” By Mike Baggerman, WREN-AM News

Former Cardinal Spellman, Stepinac priest accused of sex abuse at Resurrection Church in Rye
“A former Rye priest was accused of sexually molesting an altar boy(link is external) in the 1970s in a lawsuit filed Thursday (Aug. 29) under New York’s Child Victims Act. William T. White is accused of sexually abusing the victim at the Church of the Resurrection in Rye multiple times between 1972 and 1973, when the boy was 11 and 12 years old, according to the suit.” By Mark Lungariello,

‘The Diocese of Buffalo suppresses the truth in relation to sexual abuse,” seminarian says
“Another seminarian in the Diocese of Buffalo has given up his dream of becoming a Catholic priest, blaming alleged sexual harassment by diocesan priest(link is external) Rev. Jeffrey Nowak and Bishop Richard J. Malone’s lack of action when he reported it. Matthew Bojanowski, whose mother first revealed the allegations of sexual harassment in an interview with the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team, announced Tuesday (Sept. 3) he is resigning from Christ the King Seminary and is calling on the seminary to be shut down and for Bishop Malone to resign.” By Charlie Specht, WKBW-TV7 News

Priest placed on administrative leave by Buffalo Diocese as initial inquiry wraps
“A priest has been placed on administrative leave by the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo as the investigation continues against him(link is external). Rev. Jeffrey Nowak, the pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians Parish in Cheektowaga, was placed on leave by the bishop, effectively immediately, according to a statement from the Diocese. Nowak is accused of harassing a former seminarian.” By WIVB-TV4 News

Law firms sue Catholic Church and Boy Scouts for ‘secret files’ on alleged sex abusers
“Two law firms say they are suing the Boy Scouts of America, the New York Archdiocese and the Diocese of Brooklyn over ‘secret files’ that they claim would reveal ‘decades worth of evidence’ about alleged child sex abusers(link is external). Marsh Law Firm PLLC and Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala PLLC say they will represent 550 people who claim they were abused by Catholic Church and Boy Scout leaders.” By Victoria Merlino. Queens Daily Eagle


Columbus diocese adds eight names to priest sex-abuse list
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus has added the names of eight priests who have been ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors(link is external), bringing the total to 48 after this third update of its list. All but one of the additions were in the category of ‘extern,’ which covers clergy members who served in Columbus but were accused of abuse elsewhere.” By Danae King, Columbus Dispatch

‘This was an act of an unloving man’: Man who accused priest of rape encourages others to come forward
“A man who says he was a victim of Father Geoff Drew says wants others to speak out about what allegedly happened to them(link is external). Drew is accused of raping an altar boy 30 years ago. He pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape during a bond hearing on Aug. 21. Cincinnati police released a letter from the alleged victim on Thursday (Sept. 5) because he would like his words to be heard. In the letter, the man says he wants to relay a message to other alleged victims that they are not alone and what happened was not their fault.” By FOX-TV19 News


These alleged abuser priests were scot-free for decades – until they weren’t
“In photos of defrocked archdiocesan priest  last week outside a Bucks County police station, the alleged child sexual predator flashed an outsized grin. He was wearing a suit jacket that flitted as he moved an arm. The pose was more fashion-catalog preen than street candid of a 74-year-old being booked for molesting children. Then again, Trauger had evaded justice since at least 1981.(link is external) So that megawatt grin? Maybe it was just that of a septuagenarian who knew that he’d mostly dodged the system.” By Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Former Catholic priest arrested on false statement charges
“United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Robert Brennan, 81, of Perryville, MD, was arrested and charged by Indictment with four counts of making materially false statements(link is external) in a matter within the jurisdiction of the executive branch of the United States government.” By FOX-TV43 Philadelphia

Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh contracts with outside firms for handling misconduct
“The Diocese of Pittsburgh announced Tuesday (Sept. 3) plans to expand how it handles reports of suspected wrongdoing within the diocese including allegations of child sexual abuse(link is external). The diocese has chosen Ethics Point as a third-party reporting system to receive questions related to suspected wrongdoing in parishes, schools or diocesan offices, Bishop David Zubik wrote in his pastoral letter.” By Emily Balser,

Defrocked Bucks County priest faces charges for fondling altar boys before Mass, DA says
“A former priest is now charged with sexually assaulting at least two altar boys(link is external) during his decadelong tenure at a Bucks County church. Bucks County District Attorney Matthew Weintraub announced charges Tuesday (Sept. 3) against Francis ‘Frank’ Trauger. The alleged assaults occurred when the now 74-year-old Trauger was a priest at St. Michael the Archangel Catholic Church in Levittown, Pennsylvania in the 1990s and 2000s.” By Dan Stamm, NBC-TV10 Philadelphia

Lawsuit filed against priest of Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton
“Four men have filed suit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Scranton and its current and former bishop over claims a priest sexually abused them(link is external) when they were children. The plaintiffs are believed to be the first to take advantage of a recent Pennsylvania appeals court ruling that could make it easier for some victims of abuse to pursue civil claims.” By Associated Press on CBS-TV News Pittsburgh


Memphis’ first Catholic bishop replaced on downtown mural after child sexual abuse accusations
“Memphis’ first Catholic bishop has been replaced on a mural downtown months after he was included in a list of clergymen accused of molesting children(link is external). The ‘Upstanders Mural’ – on a wall across from the National Civil Rights Museum – is supposed to honor heroes, but after allegations of child sex abuse against the late Carroll Dozier surfaced earlier this year, the group that painted the mural decided he no longer belongs there.” By Nina Harrelson, WREG-TV3 News


Survivors question priest abuse probe
“A Vermont Catholic Church report revealing the names of 40 priests accused of sexually abusing children over the past seven decades(link is external) has both provided answers and prompted questions for survivors and members of the state’s largest religious denomination. ‘This is a long overdue step towards transparency — and there is still more work to do,’ said Zach Hiner, executive director of the national Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.” By Kevin O’Connor, Valley News, on


Priest convicted of sex abuse of girls at DC parish seeks new trial
“A Catholic priest convicted of sexually abusing two girls(link is external) at a D.C. church is seeking a new trial, saying he was unfairly prejudiced, and denied a fair trial in D.C. Superior Court. Urbano Vazquez, 47, was found guilty on all four counts Aug. 15, after a seven-day jury trial. The crimes happened between 2015 and 2017, while Vazquez was an assistant pastor at the Shrine of the Sacred Heart, in the Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights neighborhoods in Northwest D.C.” By Neal Augenstein, WTOP-FM News


West Virginia attorney general urges court to advance lawsuit against Wheeling-Charleston Diocese
“West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey urged a circuit court to allow the state to proceed with allegations that the Wheeling-Charleston Diocese violated state law through its knowing employment of pedophiles(link is external) and its failure to conduct adequate background checks for those working at its schools and camps. Morrisey’s response, served Wednesday (Sept. 4) afternoon, argues that the diocese’s motion to dismiss mischaracterized the state’s intent and distorted state law.” By Herald Mail


Review completed of diocesan files on sexual abuse issues
“After a review of over 500 personnel files and tens of thousands of pages by an objective third-party review firm, the Diocese of Madison is confident that there are no known historical issues regarding the sexual abuse of minors(link is external) left uninvestigated or undisclosed. These are some of the key takeaways diocesan leadership is drawing from a now-concluded forensic file review of diocesan clergy personnel files.” By Diocesan Staff for the Catholic Herald


Cheyenne diocese struggles with abuse revelations about popular bishop
“Nearly three decades had passed since Martin last stepped foot inside a Catholic church. Yet as he sat in the pews of the Cathedral of Saint Mary in Cheyenne for Good Friday service last April, he knew Bishop Steven Biegler was speaking directly to him. ‘Over the last year, we have seen that the Church’s leaders have been weak and sinful,’ said the bishop. ‘Yet, Christ still goes to the cross for us(link is external). His death is still stronger than all of our horrible sins. The blood and water flowing from Christ is the greatest force in the universe. So we can be reborn.’” By Christopher White,


Laws forcing priests to report child abuse passed in Victorian parliament
“The Victorian government says it hopes it does not have to jail priests who fail to report child abuse revealed in the confession box. The state’s Parliament passed laws on Tuesday Sept. 10) carrying sentences of up to three years for failing to report abuse(link is external), but Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday morning that he did not know of any convictions under Victoria’s broader mandatory reporting laws, in place for 25 years.” By Noel Towell and Simone Fox Koob, The Age

Church admits liability in child abuse case
“The Church has accepted legal responsibility for the sexual abuse of a child by pedophile Gerald Ridsdale(link is external) in a significant case that could open the floodgates for survivors seeking compensation. After denying any knowledge of Risdale’s offending before the nine-year-old boy was raped in a confessional box at Mortlake, in western Victoria in 1982, lawyers for the Church on Friday (Sept. 6) accepted an amended statement of claim from the survivor in the Supreme Court – in effect admitting legal liability for his crimes.” By


Man protests outside Welland church for one year on behalf of sex abuse survivors
“William O’Sullivan has protested in front of St. Kevin’s Parish in Welland every Sunday for a full year, and says he is determined to do so until the Diocese of St. Catharines apologizes to the region’s survivors of sexual abuse. O’Sullivan is one of these survivors. He was sexually assaulted when he was nine years old(link is external) by Donald Grecco, who was a priest at St. Kevin’s Catholic church. The assault continued for three years.” By CBC News


Paris prosecutor steps up effort to investigate clergy abuse
“The chief Paris prosecutor and the French capital’s archbishop have struck an agreement allowing faster investigations into alleged sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). Thursday’s accord came as more people in France are coming forward about past sexual wrongdoing by priests, and after repeated scandals pushed the French Catholic Church to step up efforts to address abuse.” By Associated Press on


Catholic bishops apologize to child abuse victims, take steps to prevent further cases happening
“The Hungarian Catholic Bishops’ Conference is taking all possible steps to address the issue of child abuse within the church(link is external), according to a statement on Thursday Sept. 5). ‘The sexual abuse of minors is unacceptable everywhere, especially in the church,’ the statement said, adding that it was taking ‘every possible measure’ to prevent the abuse of minors. It also apologized to victims on behalf of the abusers. ‘We feel sympathy and compassion for all those who have suffered harm as children.’ Anyone found to have engaged in abusive acts against minors has no place in the priesthood, the statement said.” By Hungary Today


U.S. priest accused of abusing boys for decades in Philippines
“The American priest’s voice echoed over the phone line, his sharp Midwestern accent softened over the decades by a gentle Filipino lilt. On the other end, recording the call, was a young man battered by shame but anxious to get the priest to describe exactly what had happened in this little island village(link is external). ‘I should have known better than trying to just have a life,’ the priest said in the November 2018 call. ‘Happy days are gone. It’s all over.’ But, the young man later told the Associated Press, those days were happy only for the priest. They were years of misery for him, he said, and for the other boys who investigators say were sexually assaulted by Father Pius Hendricks.”” By Tim Sullivan,

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Bishop’s secret list of accused priests leaves him besieged / The New York Times

Perhaps no bishop in the United States “as become as embroiled in scandal over the past year as Bishop Malone of Buffalo, one of the largest dioceses in the Northeast.” (The New York Times)

Bishop Richard J. Malone kept a secret black binder in a closet with a list of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse. He was recorded in a conversation expressing more concern about his own reputation than about removing a priest whom he called dangerous and a “sick puppy.” And some of the bishop’s own clergy are circulating a letter of no-confidence in him.

“Numerous Catholic bishops across the United States have become involved in controversies over their handling of clergy sexual abuse. But perhaps none has become as embroiled in scandal over the past year as Bishop Malone of Buffalo, one of the largest dioceses in the Northeast.

“In an extraordinary turn of events in the hierarchical church, Bishop Malone is approaching persona non grata status in his own diocese. Some organizations are canceling events that he was set to attend, and he is declining other invitations, local Catholics said …

“But despite revelations from whistle-blowers and calls from lay leaders and priests for him to step down, Bishop Malone has declined to do so.”

By Sharon Otterman, The New York Times — Read more …

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Vatican authorizes ‘Vos Estis’ investigation into Minnesota bishop Hoeppner / Catholic News Agency in The Pilot

(Bishop Michael) Hoeppner has been accused of pressuring Ron Vasek, a former diaconal candidate in the diocese, to recant the allegation that he was molested in 1971 by a Crookston priest. (Catholic News Agency in The Pilot)

Bishop Michael Hoeppner is the first sitting U.S. bishop to be investigated under new misconduct protocols introduced by Pope Francis earlier this year.

“Hoeppner, Bishop of Crookston, Minnesota, will be investigated by Minneapolis’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda, on charges that Hoeppner thwarted a police or canonical investigation of clerical sexual misconduct in his diocese.

“‘I have been authorized by the Congregation for Bishops to commence an investigation into allegations that the Most Reverend Michael Hoeppner, the Bishop of Crookston, carried out acts or omissions intended to interfere with or avoid civil or canonical investigations of clerical sexual misconduct in the Diocese of Crookston,’ Hebda told CNA Sept. 10.

“Law enforcement has been notified of the allegations. The allegations were reported to me under the procedures set out in Pope Francis’ recent legislation addressing bishop a’ccountability, the motu proprio ‘Vos estis lux mundi.'”

By J.D. Flynn, Catholic News Agency, in The Pilot — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

September 2, 2019


Australian court upholds Cardinal Pell’s conviction on abuse charges
“A panel of three Australian judges has upheld the conviction of Cardinal George Pell for sexually assaulting two choirboys in the 1990s in a 2-1 decision(link is external), ordering the Vatican’s former number-three official to continue serving a six-year prison term. The decision, announced by the Court of Appeal in the southeastern state of Victoria early Aug. 21 in Australia, marks another historic moment in an historic case. Pell, who was long the highest-ranking Catholic in Australia but was brought to Rome in 2014 by Pope Francis to restructure the Vatican’s finances, is the first Vatican official charged by authorities on abuse allegations, the first convicted, and the first sentenced to jail. He is now also the first to lose on appeal.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Rep

RICO suit against Buffalo diocese alleges conspiracy in sexual abuse cases
“Twenty-two plaintiffs filed a lawsuit Aug. 14 against the Diocese of Buffalo, a province of the Society of Jesus, multiple priests, eight parishes, three high schools, a seminary, among others, alleging ‘a pattern of racketeering activity’ that enabled and covered up clerical sexual abuse(link is external).

The lawsuit was filed on the first day of a legal ‘window’ allowing for sexual abuse lawsuits to be filed in New York even after their civil statute of limitations had expired.” By Catholic News Agency

Wyoming bishop’s decades of abuse destroyed lives, traumatized families
“As parishioners attended the Feast of the Assumption Mass inside Guardian Angels Catholic Church on August 15, members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) gathered outside on the sidewalk for a press conference marking an occasion that many believed would never come. Less than 24 hours earlier, police in Cheyenne, Wyoming, recommended to prosecutors that a one-time Guardian Angels priest, who would go on to become a beloved Catholic bishop, face criminal charges for the sexual abuse of minors.” By Christopher White,

Hundreds of lawsuits filed on first day of New York litigation window
Over 400 lawsuits were filed in New York state on the first day of a one-year window in the statute of limitations(link is external), allowing abuse survivors to file suit against their abuser or the institution where the abuse occurred. The lawsuits include an allegation against a sitting bishop and a RICO suit against the Diocese of Buffalo and the Northeast Province of the Jesuits. Other suits were filed against laicized former archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and against retired Bishop Howard Hubbard of Albany. Hubbard has denied the allegations.” By Catholic News Agency

Retired pope responds to criticism of his reflection on abuse crisis
“Responding to criticism of notes he published about the roots of the clerical sexual abuse crisis, retired Pope Benedict XVI said the fact that the critiques barely mentioned God proved his point(link is external). ‘As far as I can see, in most reactions to my contribution, God does not appear at all,’ which is ‘exactly what I wanted to emphasize’ as the central problem, he wrote in a brief note to Herder Korrespondenz, according to KNA, the German Catholic news agency.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

In Mississippi Delta, Catholic abuse cases settled on the cheap
“A famed Catholic religious order settled sex abuse cases in recent months by secretly paying two black Mississippi men $15,000 each and requiring them to keep silent about their claims, The Associated Press has found. The cash payments are far less than what other Catholic sex abuse survivors have typically received(link is external) since the church’s abuse scandal erupted in the United States in 2002. An official with the Franciscan order denies the two men’s race or poverty had anything to do with the size of the settlements.” By Michael Rezendes, Associated Press


Aussie headaches on Pell case could be child’s play compared to Rome’s
“Up to this point, the ire of those who believe Cardinal George Pell is innocent of the charges of child sexual abuse brought against him in his home country has been directed largely at the Australian judiciary, most recently at a Victoria appeals court that upheld his conviction on Wednesday in a 2-1 split decision. Assuming that ruling holds up, however, such frustration could quickly shift from the Australian system to the Vatican’s(link is external), because that’s where the action would be next – and honestly, the heartburn there could be much more intense.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,


Editorial: Those who dismiss Pell verdict ignore integrity of legal system
“The response in certain circles to the Aug. 21 court decision upholding Cardinal George Pell’s conviction for sexually assaulting two choirboys(link is external) in the 1990s was as swift as it was irrational. Edward Peters, a canon lawyer who teaches at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary, claimed in a tweet some 40 minutes after the verdict that ‘the testimony used to convict Thomas More was more plausible.’ Hours later, John Paul II biographer George Weigel questioned at First Things whether people would want to travel to Australia anymore because of ‘mob hysteria.’ First Things editor Matthew Schmitz likened an aggrieved Pell to the suffering Christ.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff

Why Justice Mark Weinberg believed George Pell should go free
“One of the three Court of Appeal judges who heard George Pell’s appeal believes there is a ‘significant possibility’ the cardinal did not commit the child sex crimes(link is external) he’s in jail for and would have acquitted him. Justice Mark Weinberg said he was not convinced by the victim’s evidence and could not exclude the possibility that some parts of the former choirboy’s testimony were ‘concocted.’” By Adam Cooper, The Age

Appeals court upholds Cardinal Pell conviction on abuse charges
“An Australian appeals court upheld the conviction of Cardinal George Pell on five counts of sexually assaulting two choirboys(link is external) more than two decades ago. A three-judge panel of the Appeals Division of the Supreme Court of Victoria announced its decision Aug. 21 in Melbourne. Chief Justice Anne Ferguson read the decision during a 30-minute hearing.” By Catholic News Service


Pressure mounts on Buffalo bishop after two seminarians resign over scandal
“As pressure continues to mount for Buffalo Bishop Richard Malone to step down over his handling of sex abuse cases(link is external), two seminarians have publicly left the diocesan seminary and echoed calls for his resignation. The first seminarian, Stephen Parisi, withdrew in a 6-page letter dated August 15 where he outlines what he describes as a lack of proper governance. He concluded his letter by directly addressing Malone, offering a stinging assessment of his leadership and pleading for his resignation.” By Christopher White,

World’s oldest living bishop, who is uncle of Chile’s president, accused of abuse
“Chile’s President Sebastian Piñera, has urged for the Catholic Church to be investigated over clerical sexual abuse, and he gave his full support to new law that ends the statutes of limitations on abuse cases. However, when it comes to the allegations made against his uncle, the world’s oldest living bishop(link is external), he’s having a hard time believing it. Archbishop Bernardino Piñera, who served as Archbishop of Serena from 1983-1990 after previously serving as Bishop of Temuco, is being investigated by the Vatican over allegations that he sexually abused a minor 50 years ago.” By Inés San Martin,

Facing lawsuit, retired Albany Bishop Hubbard says he has ‘never sexually abused anyone’
“Retired Bishop Howard J. Hubbard of Albany said in a statement Aug. 16 he ‘never sexually abused anyone’ and is taking a voluntary leave of absence(link is external) from the Diocese of Albany to deal with the allegations. The Evangelist, Albany’s diocesan newspaper, reported that a lawsuit filed Aug. 14 accuses Bishop Hubbard of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old in the late 1990s. The suit was filed the day New York state’s Child Victims Act went into effect.” By Catholic News Service in America: The Jesuit Review


Face facts, says LCWR president: Sisters have been part of Catholic Church sexual abuse scandal
“Catholic sisters must face the reality that they have also been part of the sexual abuse scandal in the church(link is external), said the president of the leadership conference representing most women religious in the United States. Holy Cross Sr. Sharlet Wagner, the 2018-2019 president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), spoke on the issue in her Aug. 15 presidential address at the organization’s annual assembly, which drew nearly 700 women religious and guests to the Aug. 13-16 event.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Real reform in the Church requires a faithful laity, priests says
“For the Catholic Church to be renewed, the entire body of Christ – especially the laity – must strive to live the faith devoutly(link is external). This was the message of Father Roger Landry, who works for the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations, at a Eucharistic assembly in July. ‘While in history, reforms have been championed by popes, bishops, founders of religious orders and their spiritual sons and daughters, the real reform of the Church happens when lay people assimilate it and live it,’ he said.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic Herald

Sisters count on the ‘multiplication factor’ of lay partners in their ministries
“Every person has a gift that they bring with them, no matter how insignificant. I can only be aware of this gift if I am open and accept the possibility of change. So partnering/working with non-vowed people has positively made my life and ministry more effective(link is external). I worked with a young woman whom I see as the epitome of honesty and transparency. In my work, I have to give an accurate, updated account of the funds of a group of people. This young woman helped me through it. She is very accurate in accounting for the funds that come in and go out of the office.” By The Life Panelists, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican tells Argentinian court accused bishop has job in Rome, despite being suspended
“Despite being investigated for allegations of having sexually abused two seminarians, an Argentinian bishop close to the pope(link is external) has once again been allowed by a judge to travel to Rome. The judge said that Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta has ‘collaborated’ with the investigation and has a document from the Vatican saying he must return to Rome ‘to continue with his daily work’ – even though he has been suspended from his job.” By Inés San Martin,

Vatican invokes Cardinal George Pell’s ‘right to appeal’ after child sexual abuse conviction upheld
“The most senior Catholic cleric in the world to be convicted of child sexual abuse, Cardinal George Pell, has lost his appeal against his conviction, but maintains he is innocent. In a brief statement issued after the decision the Vatican reiterated that Pell maintained his innocence, and that it was now ‘Pell’s right to appeal to the high court.’(link is external) ‘At this time, together with the church in Australia, the Holy See confirms its closeness to the victims of sexual abuse and its commitment to pursue, through the competent ecclesiastical authorities, those members who commit such abuse,’ the statement also said. No mention was made of stripping Pell of his cardinal title.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian


U.S. bishops should drop everything and focus on preventing schism
“I have a modest proposal for the U.S. bishops’ conference. They should scrap their entire agenda for the upcoming November plenary and address a single question: To what degree are the seeds of a de facto schism being sown within the U.S. church?(link is external) Last week, a friend called my attention to a website called ‘Faithful Shepherds’ that was launched a year ago by LifeSiteNews. They state that their purpose is to provide a ‘one-stop database’ about where Catholic bishops stand on certain issues and to ‘encourage bishops to be faithful to Christ.’ By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church sex abuse: the difference a Pennsylvania grand jury made in lives of survivors
“It has been one year since the Pennsylvania grand jury report named 300 sexually abusive Roman Catholic priests in the state. After an 18-month investigation, the grand jury concluded that ‘over one thousand child victims were identifiable, from the church’s own records’ … As a scholar who has spent the last eight years interviewing Catholic survivors of clergy sex abuse, I know that even though there were only a few convictions in Pennsylvania, the release of the grand jury report was a watershed moment for survivors(link is external).” By Brian Clites, Pennsylvania Capital-Star

Is it time for the U.S. church to hold a regional synod to address the abuse crisis?
“The conference of bishops, meeting in Dallas, had lately adopted a charter and norms for the protection of children. Now the eight called for something more. Convene a plenary council or regional synod, they urged their fellow bishops, and use it to get at the roots of what had happened so as to prevent anything like that from ever happening again … Now it seems that those eight bishops were ahead of their time. In the face of a crisis even worse than 17 years ago, the idea of a regional synod for the Catholic Church in the United States looks increasingly appealing(link is external).” By Russell Shaw, Catholic News Service, in America: The Jesuit Review

A year later, Pennsylvania Senate still dodging grand jury findings on clergy abuse
“One year after an investigating grand jury gave Pennsylvania legislators all the evidence they needed to update laws on child sexual abuse — in fact, Pennsylvania’s groundbreaking work led to reforms in other states, including New Jersey — the response in Harrisburg has been little more than ‘we’ll get to it.’ Someday(link is external). The grand jury report identified more than 300 priests as sexual predators and thousands of victims. It spawned investigations by other states’ attorneys general and a probe by the U.S. Department of Justice.” By Lehigh Valley Express Times Editorial Staff

Let the handlers of predatory priests pay in full
“Priests are supposed to offer spiritual comfort to adults and counsel young people on the values they will need later in life. They are not supposed to be sexual predators taking advantage of children(link is external). That’s what makes the release of a list of alleged pedophile priests from this area, including one formerly of the Sacred Heart Church in Cairo, a tragedy and a disgrace. The priests were named in lawsuits filed against the Albany Diocese by alleged sexual abuse victims under the Child Victims Act. It’s an offensive litany of accusations, both legally and morally.” By Editorial Board


As the Archdiocese of Detroit awaits its judgement day, it plays hide-and-seek with its money—including a Cayman Islands venture
“While the local Catholic Church promotes its efforts to protect children today, it’s been busy protecting its financial assets(link is external) as a day of fuller reckoning for past sexual abuse survivors draws closer. Across the country, statute of limitations laws on civil actions have been eroding, leading to costly settlements for abuse victims. Only intense lobbying by the insurance industry and the Catholic Church has restrained this tide in Michigan.” By Michael Betzold, Detroit Metro News

Priest accused of stealing nearly $100K from Downingtown parish
“A priest is accused of stealing close to $100,000 from his Downingtown parish, the Chester County District Attorney’s Office said. Father Joseph McLoone was arrested Wednesday (Aug. 21) for the theft of $98,405.50 from St. Joseph’s Catholic Church(link is external). McLoone, 56, took over as pastor of St. Joseph’s Parish following the removal of Msgr. William Lynn due to Lynn’s indictment and incarceration. Officials said McLoone accomplished the theft by diverting parish funds into a secret account, misappropriating fees charged to parishioners, and other fraudulent activity.” By ABC-TV6 News Philadelphia


Corey Feldman calls for Hollywood sexual abuse victims to support bill to change California statute laws
“Corey Feldman is hoping to use his voice and celebrity status to help fellow victims of sexual abuse(link is external). The actor, who serves as Child USA’s ambassador and has spoken out extensively about the alleged abuse he suffered as a child actor, is urging abuse victims in Hollywood to sign a letter that he will be sending on Thursday (Aug. 15) to the California Senate in relation to current laws about the state’s statute of limitations.” By


Why childhood victims stay silent about abuse for decades
“It took Ann Fossler more than 25 years to reveal that she had been repeatedly molested when she was as young as 6 years old. Fossler said she first confided in a counselor in the 1980s that a Buffalo Diocese Catholic priest who was a close family friend sexually abused her for several years and that she kept it secret because she feared her parents, who adored the priest and were devout Catholics, would be crushed by the revelation(link is external).” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Why is the Child Victims Act ‘look-back’ window so short?
“Buffalo News readers have asked a number of questions since Wednesday (Aug. 14), when the Child Victims Act opened a one-year window for filing civil lawsuits(link is external) over old allegations of childhood sexual abuse. The questions ranged from why the look-back is only a year long to why steps are not being taken against the Vatican. To answer the questions, The News gathered information from attorneys representing people who say they were abused, attorneys representing priests accused of molesting children, the Buffalo Catholic Diocese and past stories in The News.” By Lou Michel and Qina Liu, The Buffalo News


Bombshell report: Seven local clergy named in sex misconduct cases
“A bombshell report released by local Catholic leadership named seven Southeast Alaska clergymen who since 1951 have been ‘credibly’ accused of sexual misconduct(link is external). The Diocese of Juneau on Wednesday (Aug. 21) announced the results of an Independent Commission’s review of decades of files including sexual misconduct allegations within the diocese. The commission was formed in late 2018 by Bishop Andrew Bellisario, and it consisted of a retired police lieutenant and retired judges.” By Ben Hohenstatt, Juneau Empire


Arkansas church, Diocese of Little Rock sued over alleged sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Little Rock and the St. Joseph Catholic Church in Tontitown are being sued by an unidentified person who alleges both were negligent for allowing a priest to sexually abuse him(link is external). The lawsuit filed by ‘John Doe 201’ claims that he was sexually assaulted when he was a teenager by priest Joseph Correnti. John Doe 201 is now an adult resident of the State of Arkansas and is claiming the repeated sexual battery happened from approximately 1995 to 2002, beginning when John Doe 201 was approximately 14 to 15 years old.” By Associated Press on CBS-TV11News


Bakersfield priest sues founder of Catholic group for defamation
“A Valley priest who has been the target of several sexual abuse allegations is suing the founder of a Catholic organization for defamation(link is external). According to the civil lawsuit, filed through Kern County Superior Court earlier this month, Stephen Brady, founder of Roman Catholic Faithful, made statements about Msgr. Craig Harrison that were ‘false, defamatory, libelous and slanderous.’” By Monica Velez, Valley Public Radio News

East Bay priest charged with sexually abusing child facing nearly five years in prison
“An East Bay priest who repeatedly sexually assaulted a child is facing nearly five years in state prison(link is external), officials said. Hector David Mendoza-Vela on Friday (Aug. 16) pleaded no contest to five counts of lewd or lascivious acts on a child age 14 or 15, court documents show. David Mendoza-Vela, 42, a Catholic priest in Fremont, has been arrested on suspicion of lewd and lascivious acts with a minor, according to arrest records and the church. (Courtesy of Alameda County Sheriff’s Department). Last month, he pleaded not guilty to 30 criminal counts filed against him in April by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office.” By Joseph Geha, East Bay Times


Illinois attorney general and Cardinal Cupich have private meeting; discuss clergy sex abuse investigation
“Amid a protracted state investigation of child sex abuse by Roman Catholic clergy, Illinois’ top law enforcement official has met with Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich(link is external), the ABC7 I-Team has learned. The one-hour, one-on-one discussion took place at Attorney General Kwame Raoul’s office in the State of Illinois Thompson Center about two weeks ago. The Archdiocese of Chicago and Illinois’ five other Roman Catholic dioceses have been subjects of an ongoing investigation by the state attorney general’s office for the past year.” By ABC-TV7 News Chicago


Activists urge Kansas to broaden reporting of clergy abuse
“David Clohessy and Larry Davis stood on a busy Topeka street corner Tuesday (Aug. 20) for a moment of silence on behalf of people who committed suicide after they were abused by priests … Both men had plenty to say, however, across the street from Topeka’s Mater Dei Catholic Church about their belief Archbishop Joseph Naumann, of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas, hadn’t been proactive enough in reaching out to victims or in identifying alleged perpetrators involved with Catholic churches(link is external).” By Tim Carpenter, Topeka Capitol-Journal


Michigan priest accused of tying up teenage boy, taping mouth and eyes
“The ongoing investigation into sex-abuse claims involving Michigan’s seven Catholic dioceses has resulted in more charges by the state attorney general’s office, this time against a former Otsego priest. Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel announced today that Father Brian Stanley, of Coloma, is being charged with one felony count of false imprisonment(link is external). If convicted, Stanley would face up to 15 years in prison and be required to register as a sex offender, according to state law.” By Ryan Boldrey,


Clergy abuse survivor to coordinate Minnesota archdiocese’s outreach
“Paula Kaempffer, a survivor of clergy sexual abuse she suffered as an adult working in the church, knows firsthand about the kind of healing that can take place. And as the new outreach coordinator for restorative justice and abuse prevention(link is external) for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, she said healing ‘takes a lot of personal work’ and ‘a lot of inner strength to recapture the power that has been taken away from you.’” By Joe Ruff, Catholic News Service, on


St. Louis County priest already deemed sexually violent sentenced again
“The first U.S. Catholic priest to be labeled sexually violent when he was convicted in Illinois has been sentenced to 10 years in prison(link is external) for abusing two boys in Missouri in the 1990s. Fred Lenczycki pleaded guilty in May to two counts of sodomy for abuse that occurred at a St. Louis County parish in Bridgeton. Lenczycki is 75. Lenczycki was removed from the ministry in 2002, when he was charged with abusing three boys in the 1980s in Illinois. He pleaded guilty in 2004 and was sentenced to five years in prison.” By Associated Press on NBC-TV5 News


First Catholic priest charged with sex assault after tip to AG’s clergy abuse hotline to be sentenced
“A disgraced Roman Catholic priest who admitted to sexually assaulting a teenage girl three decades ago will be sentenced(link is external) Monday (Aug. 26) in Superior Court in Middlesex County. Thomas P. Ganley, 63, pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a girl who was a member of the youth group he led in the 1990s. The priest’s case was the first criminal case prosecuted after the start of the Attorney General’s Clergy Abuse Task Force, which was formed last year to investigate allegations of clergy abuse.” By Sophie Nieto-Munoz, NJ Advance Media for


Five adult siblings claim a childhood of abuse by the priest who kept them as his mostly secret family
“Five adult siblings recently claimed a childhood of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse by Francis Melfe, a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) whom, they say, kept them and their mother as his mostly-secret family at a large suburban Guilderland home. Edith Thomas, the mother of the five adult children, told The Enterprise this week, ‘They haven’t spoken to me since 1992.’” By The Altamont Enterprise Guilderland

Child Victims Act tears open North Country’s history of sexual abuse
“Lawsuits filed last week under the Child Victims Act claim children were targeted by abusers and pedophiles over a period of decades in dozens of communities(link is external) across the North Country. The Boy Scouts are named in at least one of the suits, but most of the cases target the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg. More than 400 lawsuits were filed statewide last week under the Child Victims Act, after New York temporarily lifted the statute of limitations on sexual violence cases.” By Brian Mann, North Country Public Radio

In disturbing allegations anonymously filed, three priests accused of abusing 7-year-old boy together
“In a graphic and disturbing case filed under the Child Victims Act, three priests are accused of sexually abusing a seven-year-old at St. Francis High School(link is external) in the late 1970s. The anonymous plaintiff says that in 1977, Father James Smyka, Father Aurelian Brzezniak and Father Patrick Mendola sexually abused him in a shower room in front of an audience of between 15 to 20 other priests.” By WVIB-TV4 News

Long Island hit with dozens of sexual abuse lawsuits under Child Victims Act
“Since Aug. 14, hundreds of lawsuits have been filed across New York State related to the Child Victims Act(link is external), which went into effect that day. The law, signed in February by Governor Andrew Cuomo, gives a one-year grace period, eliminating the statute of limitations for sexual abuse victims. Suits have already been filed against every Catholic diocese in the state, Boy Scouts of America, Rockefeller University, schools, hospitals, nonprofits and other organizations.” By Marco Schaden, Long Island Weekly

Filings detail clergy, school abuse in Niagara County
“Lawsuits filed in Niagara County reveal the details of abuse suffered by scores of children over the past several decades(link is external). The filings are among the hundreds of court documents that flooded state courts after the opening of the Child Victims Act ‘look-back window,’ which allows survivors to submit civil lawsuits against their abusers that may have lapsed due to the legal statute of limitations. The majority of the civil legal complaints accuse clergy or employees of the Diocese of Buffalo of sexual and physical abuse.” By Philip Bambini, Lockport Union-Sun & Journal


Priest won’t face child sex abuse charges in Fargo
“A Catholic priest in south-central North Dakota will not face criminal charges after being accused of sexual misconduct involving a child in Fargo(link is external), but the case could go to a prosecutor in McHenry County after an investigation revealed one incident allegedly happened there. The Cass County Attorney’s Office announced Monday (Aug. 19) it would not pursue a criminal case against the Rev. Wenceslaus Katanga, who has served as a priest at three North Dakota churches in McIntosh County since 2010.” By April Baumgarten, Forum News Service, in The Bismark Tribune


Activists demand Columbus Diocese expand list of clergy accused of abuse
“Advocates from SNAP gathered in front of St. Joseph Cathedral to demand the Catholic Diocese of Columbus add the names of three more ministers to its official list of clerics credibly accused’ of sexual abuse(link is external). The Columbus Diocese in March published a list of 36 clergy, both alive and deceased, alleged to have sexually abused minors.” By Adora Namigadde, WOSU-FM Columbus National Public Radio

Cincinnati priest arrested and indicted for sexually abusing minor
“A Cincinnati priest removed from ministry last month for grooming behavior has been indicted on nine counts of raping an altar server(link is external). Fr. Geoff Drew was arrested Aug. 19 on allegations dating back 20 years, which concern Drew’s time as music minister at a local parish, prior to his ordination as a priest. The accusations concern abuse said to have taken place over two years, when the reported victim was 10 and 11 years old. If convicted, the priest could face life in prison.” By Catholic News Agency

SNAP leader: Catholic churches need better vetting for priests
“The Rev. Geoff Drew, suspended last month after allegations of inappropriate behavior, now stands charged with nine counts of rape(link is external) — all for incidents that allegedly happened before he entered the priesthood. Dan Frondorf, a local leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Drew never should have been able to become a priest — and the Catholic church should develop a better process for keeping predators out of its clergy.” By WCPO-TV9 News


Two more Catholic priests accused of child sex abuse
Two more Catholic priests are being accused of child sex abuse(link is external). The Diocese of Pittsburgh says it is aware that someone registered with the compensation fund. The complaint named fathers Larry Smith and Joseph Girdis. It says the abuse happened when the victim was 12 years old and was living at the Holy Family Institute in Emsworth.” By KDKA-TV2 News

Court allows lawsuit against diocese
“The Pennsylvania Superior Court has denied the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown’s application for re-argument in the lawsuit(link is external) of a woman who claims a pedophile priest consistently molested her in the 1970s and ’80s in Blair County. Wednesday’s (Aug. 14) ruling reaffirming that Renee A. Rice can pursue her lawsuit against officials in the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese reflects an evolving legal landscape, according to Rice’s attorney, Richard Serbin of the Janet, Janet & Suggs law firm.” By Russ O’Reilly, Altoona Mirror


South Carolina Catholic priests and diocese silent on how they’ll handle allegations on Sunday
“Sunday will once again bring South Carolina’s Catholics to church as fresh allegations of child sexual abuse surface, this time in a lawsuit against the bishop who presides over the state(link is external). Bishop Robert Guglielmone, who has led the state’s Catholics for more than a decade, has denied the allegations, which are alleged to have happened in the late 1970s while he was a priest in New York. The lawsuit was filed Wednesday (Aug. 14) along with hundreds of others as New York state loosened its statute of limitations for such lawsuits.” By Mike Ellis, The Greenville News, in The Independent Mail


Victims of child sex abuse have new chance to hold abusers accountable in court
“John Delaney, a survivor of child sex abuse, wants other victims to know this: Starting Sept. 1, they could have another chance to hold their abusers accountable in court(link is external). Delaney and the San Antonio chapter leader of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests gathered outside the Bexar County Courthouse Tuesday (Aug. 27) morning to raise awareness about a new Texas law going into effect next month that allows victims of child sex abuse to file civil lawsuits against abusers up to 30 years after they turn 18.” By Marina Starleaf Riker, San Antonio Express-News


Catholic Diocese of Burlington to release names of priests in church investigation
“A 10-month investigation into potential pedophile priests is done. The Catholic Diocese of Burlington will release its report Thursday (Aug. 22). But our Darren Perron obtained details of that report, revealing decades of abuse by 40 priests(link is external). ‘I’m 66 years old… This individual had an elevated place in my family’s life. So, no, I never told my parents,’ John Mahoney said. He didn’t tell them that he was repeatedly abused by a priest starting in eighth grade. Mahoney kept the secret– until now.” By WCAX-TV3 News


Priest guilty of sex abuse; list of D.C., Baltimore accused priests
“A Catholic priest who served in both Maryland and Washington, D.C., was convicted Thursday (Aug. 15) of four counts of child sexual abuse(link is external) against two children that happened on the grounds of his parish, Shrine of the Sacred Heart Parish in Northwest Washington. The Rev. Urbano Vazquez, 47, of Washington, D.C., committed the abuse from 2015 to 2017, prosecutors said. He was arrested in November 2018.” By Deb Belt,


Clergy abuse: Here are the resources offered to victims in Wisconsin by diocese
“The Catholic church both nationally and in Wisconsin has been under intense scrutiny recently with a rising number of people claiming priests sexually abused them. In Wisconsin alone, more than 130 priests are known to have sexually assaulted children in the state(link is external). That number is likely to grow as Madison, La Crosse and Superior dioceses review their files and investigate abuse allegations. Officials with each of Wisconsin’s five Catholic dioceses said they urge anyone who knows about or is suspicious of current, ongoing abuse to report directly to local police immediately. Dioceses then ask that a report be filed with the church, as well.” By Laura Schulte, Wausau Daily Herald


Diocese says more abuse victims have come forward
“More people who say they’re victims of sexual abuse at the hands of Wyoming clergymen have come forward(link is external) since the release in early June of a list of 11 men who the Diocese of Cheyenne deemed had faced substantiated accusations of abuse. That list identified 30 known and substantiated victims of the 11 men. Twenty-nine victims were juvenile boys and girls, while one was identified by the diocese as a vulnerable adult. It’s unclear how many more victims have come forward since the list was released in the diocese’s newsletter and on its website June 12.” By Seth Klamann, Casper Star Tribune via Wyoming News Exchange


Coalition agrees to pass laws forcing priests to report child abuse
“New legislation forcing priests to report child abuse to authorities even if disclosed in confession(link is external) now has enough support to pass through both houses of Victorian Parliament. The Andrews government introduced the legislation earlier this month compelling priests to break the seal of confession to report disclosures of child abuse, but the Coalition stopped short of supporting it at the time. However, on Monday (Aug. 27) Opposition Leader Michael O’Brien revealed he would back the bill.” By Benjamin Preiss, The Age

Argentina prelate says clerical abuse crisis ‘just beginning’ in pope’s country
“Although by now Catholics in some parts of the world have lived with the ferment caused by revelations of clerical sexual abuse for decades, a bishop who heads a commission for preventing abuse in Argentina says that in Pope Francis’s native country, the crisis is ‘just beginning(link is external).’ ‘It’s not that the abuses are beginning, but society’s awareness, with cases becoming public,’ said Bishop Sergio Buenanueva, of San Francisco, in the region of Cordoba.” By Inés San Martin,


Pope sends video message to new abuse prevention center in Chile
“Pope Francis begins by saying that, through this video message, he wants to be present on this day on which the Fundación Cuida takes shape. The purpose of this new centre, he says, is not only to address the serious problems of prevention and abuse, but to conduct research and to seek policies(link is external) that can ‘save more and more minors from everything that is abuse, everything that is manipulation and that in some way destroys their hearts.’” By Vatican News


Costa Rica priest wanted for sex abuse of minors arrested in Mexico
“Costa Rican Catholic priest Mauricio Víquez Lizano, on the run since January of this year, was arrested this Sunday (Aug. 18) at dawn in San Nicolás de Los Garza, Monterrey, in the Mexican state of Nuevo León(link is external). The priest, 55, was wanted in 194 countries since he fled Costa Rica for alleged sexual abuse, qualified rape and aggravated corruption against minors. See more: Catholic Priest Mauricio Víquez fled after the Church warned him about a criminal complaint? The Attorney General of Mexico confirmed the detention.” By


Chichester publishes in-depth study of abuse in its diocese
“The diocese of Chichester should not be too hasty in its attempts to consign sexual abuse to history, a new report suggests(link is external). The diocese was marked out by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sex Abuse for special interest, based on the number of high-profile cases of abuse. An earlier report by Dame Moira Gibb also examined aspects of abuse in Sussex. This week, the diocese quietly published a third report, Sexual Abuse by Clergymen in the Diocese of Chichester: ‘You Can’t Say No to God’ … The authors warn the diocese ‘not to be tempted to approach the future by adopting the mantra ‘That was then; this is now.’” By Hattie Williams, Church Times


More than 220 former altar boys, students and Boy Scouts launch sex abuse lawsuit Guam’s archdiocese
“More than 220 former altar boys, students and Boy Scouts are suing the Catholic clergy in Guam in a shocking sex abuse scandal(link is external) that has spanned generations and involved the island’s archbishop. The Catholic clergy in U.S. has been shrouded in a sex abuse scandal over the past decade and now it has left its mark on the American island territory of Guam.” By


Judge in India says Christian education ‘highly unsafe’ for future of children
“A representative of the local Catholic bishops’ council called the remarks of an Indian High Court judge attacking Christian education ‘unfortunate.’ Madras High Court Justice S. Vaidyanathan on Friday said, ‘there is a general feeling among parents of students, especially female students, that coeducational study in Christian institutions is highly unsafe for the future of their children(link is external).’” By Nirmala Carvalho,

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