Archive for September 30th, 2020

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup


September 28, 2020

TOP STORIES

Investigation: Abuse allegations against Catholic bishop ‘credible’
“An independent investigation found that allegations of child sexual abuse by a former Roman Catholic bishop in Massachusetts were ‘unequivocally credible,(link is external)’ according to an executive summary of the report released Wednesday (sept. 16). Retired Superior Court Judge Peter Velis’s report of abuse allegations against late Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon also criticized the way the diocesan review board handled the allegations. Velis found that there was a ‘reluctance to fervently pursue an evaluation of allegations against (Weldon) due to his prominence and revered legacy in the religious community.’” By Associated Press in The Boston Globe

Clergy Sex Abuse Crisis Isn’t Over
“The Catholic University of America and The Catholic Project present Crisis: Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church, a podcast on clergy sex abuse(link is external). Hosted by the University spokesperson Karna Lozoya, the 10-part audio documentary explores how the Catholic Church continues to struggle with the issue of sex abuse, despite the many reforms it has adopted. Episode one revisits 2018, the Catholic Church’s ‘summer of shame.’ High-ranking American cleric, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, was credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. More accusations followed, including from former seminarians.” By The Catholic University of America

Clergy abuse survivors face a lifetime of PTSD recurrence
“New job in hand, Jim Richter was adjusting well to life in Minneapolis several months after leaving his hometown of Chicago. He was enjoying his fellowship at the University of Minnesota Medical Center despite the long hours and he was coming to realize his move was a good one. Sexually abused as a teenager by a South Side Chicago Catholic priest(link is external) who had similarly assaulted other young men, Richter wasn’t expecting to hear more about the clergy abuse scandal in Minnesota.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Catholic Groups Seek Apology From Brennan and Removal of His Enablers
“A letter addressed to the Most Rev. Mark Brennan, bishop of the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, from two groups representing lay Catholics seeks further action taken in the wake of disgraced former bishop Michael Bransfield’s ignoble resignation(link is external).The letter, which was sent Sept. 3 to Brennan, comes from Morgantown-based Lay Catholic Voices for Change, and ACT: A Church Together, which lists a Wheeling address, which represent lay, or non-clergy, members of the Roman Catholic Church.” By Alan Olson, The Wheeling Intelligencer

Diocesan Synod calls for reforms
“The call for reform of diocesan and parish governance at the first session of the Maitland-Newcastle Diocesan Synod will strongly influence planning for future sessions. A Governance Focus Group is evaluating diocesan governance structures and processes(link is external) and will prepare documents and recommendations for the next Synod session in 2021 … Lawrie Hallinan, chair of the Synod’s Governance Focus Group said the group had embraced the recently released national report on diocesan and parish governance, The Light from the Southern Cross: Promoting Co-Responsible Governance in the Catholic Church in Australia.” By CathNews.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

New laws in Queensland mean priests no longer protected by seal of confession
“Priests in Queensland will no longer be protected by the seal of confession(link is external) and must report cases of child abuse or face criminal charges. State parliament rejected protests from the Catholic church to pass new laws on Tuesday (Sept. 8). Other states continue to debate similar proposals, and in several jurisdictions clergy remain exempt from prosecution for failing to report child sexual abuse.” By Australian Associated Press in The Guardian

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis: ‘Never again to the culture of abuse’
“Pope Francis has written a prologue to a recently published book on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) entitled “Theology and Prevention.” ‘Fighting against abuse means fostering and empowering communities capable of watching over and announcing that all life deserves to be respected and valued, especially that of the most defenseless who do not have the resources to make their voices heard,’ Pope Francis wrote in the introduction to the book.” By Catholic News Agency in Catholic Sentinel

McCARRICK INVESTIGATION

Newark archdiocese bought second beach house for use by McCarrick
“Months before officials in the Archdiocese of Newark sold a beach house used by former cardinal Theodore McCarrick for sexual abuse and coercion,(link is external) the archdiocese bought a second beach house on the Jersey Shore, at which McCarrick reportedly hosted friends and courted donors. The second beach house, according to an investigative report from northjersey.com, was purchased in 1997 by the Newark archdiocese from the neighboring Diocese of Metuchen.” By Catholic News Agency

BISHOPS

German Catholic bishop dismisses cardinal’s fear that ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to split
“The president of the German bishops’ conference dismissed Friday (Sept. 18) suggestions that the controversial ‘Synodal Way’ could lead to a split in the Church(link is external). Bishop Georg Bätzing made the comment Sept. 18 after Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki of Cologne said that the worst outcome would be if the process ‘leads to a split and thereby outside of the Church, out of communion with the universal Church.’” By Catholic News Agency

PRIESTS

Irish priest spurns Vatican plan that would have allowed return to ministry
“A well-known Irish priest who has been in a dispute with the Vatican for several years over his controversial views has rejected a plan from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith that would have restored him to public ministry(link is external). Redemptorist Father Tony Flannery has been forbidden to exercise public ministry since 2012 after he was censured for saying that he no longer believed that ‘the priesthood as we currently have it in the Church originated with Jesus’ or that he designated ‘a special group of his followers as priests.’” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

WOMEN IN THE CHURCH

‘Fratelli tutti’ does not include women, and neither does ‘fraternity’
“Forget about women in church leadership. Do you think maybe the Vatican could hire a few women editors? The latest embarrassment: ‘Fratelli tutti,’(link is external) the title of the coming papal encyclical, is Italian for ‘all brothers.’ Vatican Media says that includes women. Oh, they say, the title comes from the writings of St. Francis. Well, yes. Except that St. Francis’ Admonitions were written to all his fellow friars: ‘omnes fratres’ or, in Italian, ‘fratelli tutti.’” By Phyllis Zagano, National Catholic Reporter

LAITY & THE CHURCH

‘We lost what we cherished’: Cincinnati parish fights back when a new priest brings change
“The changes at St. Anthony’s are part of a broader debate in the American church over the role regular Catholics, or lay Catholics, should play in the day-to-day operation of their parishes(link is external). But they also have ignited an intensely personal fight over what it means to be a religious community and what it means to be Catholic. At St. Anthony’s, the community has for years been guided by the belief that lay Catholics can and should be empowered to do important work in the parish, including, at times, work typically left to priests.’ By Dan Horn, Cincinnati Enquirer

VATICAN

Vatican envoy’s removal from India brings relief for some Catholics
“Several Catholic groups in India have expressed relief after the Vatican removed its controversial envoy from the country. Pope Francis Aug. 29 suddenly transferred Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, apostolic nuncio to India and Nepal, to Brazil amid accusations of inaction against allegedly corrupt bishops(link is external). ‘I saw the nuncio’s transfer as a small moral victory, not something to gloat about, but more a sense of relief,’ Chhotebhai, coordinator of the Indian Catholic Forum and former president of the All India Catholic Union, the largest lay association in the country, told NCR.” By Jose Kavi, National Catholic Reporter

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

German Catholic Church is losing priests and parishes
“A key issue for this fall’s Bishops’ Conference will be the pressures facing the Catholic Church in Germany. Fewer priests mean fewer communities, even in one of the world’s richest dioceses(link is external). As head of the Bonn Münster, one of Germany’s oldest churches, Wolfgang Picken is the Catholic Church’s most recognizable face in the former German capital. More churches are about to fall under his purview, according to new plans from the Archdiocese of Cologne. “It’s a sweeping change,” Picken told DW.” By Deutsche Welle

Reimagining parishes is a step along road to renewal
“It’s now been well established that the Catholic Church here in Western New York is facing unprecedented challenges that strike at the heart of its credibility(link is external), its ability to serve so many critical needs and, yes, its viability as a force for good. Those in church leadership must admit that many of these challenges are a result of woeful failings over many years that have caused devoted Catholics to question the fundamentals of their faith and identity.” By Edward B. Scharfenberger, The Buffalo News

Charlotte Diocese opens college seminary to serve growing Catholic population
“It was a day to thank God for sending more laborers to gather his harvest, Diocese of Charlotte leaders said as they blessed and formally opened St. Joseph College Seminary. The newly completed college seminary was blessed by Charlotte Bishop Peter J. Jugis(link is external) Sept. 15, the feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, after an official ribbon-cutting ceremony. With its striking Gothic architecture and 30,000 square feet of living-and-learning space, the college seminary serves as home to young men who are exploring a vocation to the Catholic priesthood while also pursuing undergraduate degrees at nearby Belmont Abbey College.” By Patricia L. Guilfoyle, SueAnn Howell, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

What if women comprised 50% of sex abuse victims in the Catholic Church?
“What if the cornerstone of our conventional wisdom about the victims of the Catholic Church and clergy sex abuse crisis was wrong(link is external)? What if, in a statistically viable sample of survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church, 50% of respondents were female? What if you also knew that this result is almost statically impossible to achieve with the conventional wisdom, which says that boys outnumber girls four to one? Would that change how you, the church, advocacy groups, and the general public respond to the crisis?” By Joelle Casteix, Worthy Adversary Blog

Why there’s more to the question of the confessional
“I DON’T always get to see letters written about me to editors or online, and maybe that’s a good thing. However, one particular letter to the editor earlier this month from a local politician which I did read gave me reason to pause. He had just finished reading The Altar Boys by ABC journalist Suzanne Smith, a book on the abuse of children in the diocese of Maitland and the cover-up by the church(link is external).” By Father Brendan Lee, Wellington Times

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Accuser and excommunicated priest both wait as sexual violation case drags on
“The accuser prefers the traditional Tridentine rite Latin Mass. That way she only sees the celebrant from the back and can pray in peace, she told NCR. ‘That’s real separation; it doesn’t feel like the priest interacts with you,’ she said. A few thousand miles away in Sacramento, California, Jeremy Leatherby, the former pastor of Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish, excommunicated priest, and the man she accuses of sexual exploitation(link is external), is said to be living quietly with his family.” By Peter Feuerherd, National Catholic Reporter

New podcast series examines history of U.S. clergy sex abuse
“A new podcast series, ‘Crisis,’ has debuted, which examines the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the U.S. church(link is external). Produced by the Catholic Project at The Catholic University of America, Washington, its 10 episodes plan to recount the history of the crisis and church leaders’ responses to it. ‘Catholic University really found itself in a unique position to offer a response to the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Karna Lozoya, executive director of strategic communications in the president’s office at the university, and narrator of ‘Crisis.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on CatholicPhilly.com

ARIZONA

Another Former Brophy Priest Has Been Accused of Sexual Abuse
“A Jesuit priest who taught at Brophy College Preparatory for seven years in the 1980s and coached the boy’s football team is the latest Phoenix-area Catholic priest to be accused of sexual abuse(link is external). In a lawsuit filed today (Sept. 24), an anonymous alum now living in California alleges that Reverend James A. Sinnerud, S.J. engaged in sexual contact with him without his consent and when he was a minor incapable of giving consent. The lawsuit does not specify the nature or time frame of the alleged misconduct, but Sinnerud would have been been in his late 40s when he taught at Brophy.” By Erasmus Baxter, Phoeix New Times

LOUISIANA

Former De La Salle principal, fellow religious brother accused of molesting student in 1980s
“A former principal of De La Salle High School and a subordinate are accused of sexually molesting one of the Uptown school’s students(link is external) in the 1980s, according to a new lawsuit filed last month. While the Aug. 7 lawsuit appears to mark the first time ex-principal Richard Langenstein and Robert Gandara face public abuse accusations stemming from their service at the 71-year-old school on St. Charles Avenue, each has previously pleaded no contest to charges of child molestation for unrelated conduct in St. Tammany Parish.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, NOLA.com

People alleging sex abuse by New Orleans clergy must come forward by March 1, judge rules
“A federal bankruptcy judge on Thursday (Sept. 17) set a March 1 deadline for purported victims of sexual abuse by Roman Catholic clergy to make claims(link is external) against the Archdiocese of New Orleans, resolving months of legal arguments over how much time to allow before they are barred from seeking compensation. After a four-hour court hearing, Judge Meredith Grabill ruled that anyone alleging they were abused before the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1 must come forward in the next 5½ months or lose the right to seek money via the judicial system.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans Times-Picayune, on NOLA.com

MASSACHUSETTS

Massachusetts clergy child sexual abuse claims against three priests settled: Mitchell Garabedian
“Clergy child sexual abuse claims against three former Massachusetts priests have been settled, the victims’ lawyer announced on Monday (Sept. 14). Boston attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who specializes in sexual abuse cases, said he settled the clergy sexual abuse claims with the Archdiocese of Boston(link is external) earlier this year. The former priests were Fr. Sylvio Ruest, Fr. John Salvucci and Fr. T. Raymond Sullivan, according to the lawyer.” By Rick Sobey, Boston Herald

Vatican bars former Catholic priest in Lynn from active ministry; had been accused of sexual abuse in 2012
“A former longtime priest at a Catholic church in Lynn who’d been accused in 2012 of sexually abusing a child has been banned from exercising “any public ministry” and sentenced by church authorities to a life of prayer and penance, according to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. In a statement, the archdiocese identified the priest as Rev. James E. Gaudreau and said he’s “not permitted to exercise any public ministry, including not being allowed to celebrate public Mass.” By Travis Andersen, The Boston Globe

NEW JERSEY

2 new sex abuse suits filed against Metuchen Diocese include clerics not accused before
“Two lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church on Wednesday (Sept. 9) include allegations of sexual abuse against two clerics(link is external) — including a brother who worked at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen. The suits, brought under the New Jersey Child Sexual Abuse Act and New Jersey Victims’ Rights Bill, allege abuse by Brother Regis Moccia and the Rev. Patrick H. Barrett, both who had not been publicly accused of abuse before Wednesday.” By Nick Muscavage, Bridgewater Courier News

NEW YORK.

Child Victims Act lawsuits accuse ex-Seton coach of sexually abusing students during 1960s
“A now-deceased during the 1970s faces similar allegations from his past employment at a Catholic school in Poughkeepsie. Four lawsuits filed since December in the state Supreme Court of New York County accuse Vincent Dutkowski of sexually abusing students(link is external) at Our Lady of Lourdes High School during the early to mid-1960s.” By Anthony Borrelli, Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin

Number of WNY priests accused in Child Victims Act suits grows to 173
“Child Victims Act lawsuits filed over the past year have accused 173 Catholic priests in Western New York of sexually abusing children(link is external). More than 30 of those priests were accused publicly for the first time only in recent weeks, including one cleric who has continued to run a South Buffalo parish despite being linked to abuse in a July lawsuit. The Rev. Donald J. Lutz said he wasn’t aware of the lawsuit when The Buffalo News contacted him last week.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Buffalo Survivors Group seeks meeting with Pope Francis
“A group of survivors of abuse by Catholic priests(link is external) in Buffalo is seeking a meeting with Pope Francis. The Buffalo Survivors Group, which was founded by abuse survivors Gary Astridge, Kevin Koscielniak, Chris Szuflita, Michael Whalen and Angelo Ervolina, wrote the following letter to Pope Francis …” By WKBW-TV7 News

Bankruptcy judge sets deadline for filing clergy abuse claims against diocese
“Sexual abuse victims will have until next August to file a claim against the Buffalo Diocese in federal bankruptcy proceedings. Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Western District of New York ruled Friday (Sept. 11) that the bar date for abuse victims to submit claims should be the same day that the extended Child Victims Act expires – Aug. 14, 2021(link is external). Bucki also ruled against a request by the diocese to push the bankruptcy proceedings into mediated settlement talks.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

SOUTH CAROLINA

Former Columbia priest returns to ministry after being cleared of sex abuse charge
“A Catholic priest who formerly worked in Columbia was cleared to return to the ministry after charges of sexual abuse involving a minor were dropped(link is external). Prosecutors dropped all criminal charges against Father Javier Heredia in February, according to Maria Aselage, spokeswoman for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston. York County court records show the charge, criminal sexual conduct with minor — commit/attempt lewd act, was disposed on Feb. 3.” By Noah Feit, The State

SOUTH DAKOTA

DCI investigating allegation that priest abused child in Faith
“The South Dakota Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating an allegation that a Rapid City-based priest sexually abused a child in Faith(link is external) in the early 1980s, according to the Meade County State’s Attorney. States’s Attorney Michele Bordewyk said the Diocese of Rapid City contacted her office about the allegation against Father Michel Mulloy when he was working in Faith. She said she referred the case to DCI, which is under the Office of the Attorney General.” By Arielle Zionts, Rapid City Journal

WEST VIRGINIA

WV Court considers whether the First Amendment protects diocese from consumer protection laws
“The  West Virginia Supreme Court is considering whether it’s a violation of the First Amendment for Attorney General Patrick Morrisey to pursue a case against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston under the state’s Consumer Credit and Protection Act. During about an hour’s worth of arguments in Charleston on Tuesday (Sept. 22), the justices asked attorneys whether it was possible for the attorney general to hold the diocese accountable for potential violations of the consumer law(link is external) in a way that didn’t impede its faith doctrine or church governance.” By Lacie Pierson, Charleston Gazette-Mail

Groups, saying trust in church leaders has been ‘devastated,’ push for further action on disgraced Bishop Bransfield
“Two groups have sent a strongly-worded letter to the Diocese of Wheeling Charleston, saying ‘amends’ by disgraced Bishop Michael Bransfield have been inadequate(link is external) and pushing for further steps. ‘Our faith has not been destroyed but our trust in our church leaders has been devastated,’ they wrote. Bransfield served as bishop of the Wheeling-Catholic diocese from 2005 to 2018, when he retired. Following that, a church investigation examined multiple credible allegations of sexual harassment of adults, as well as financial improprieties.” By Brad McElhinny, West Virginia Metro News

CANADA

Catholic Church appeals to Supreme Court of Canada on bombshell Mount Cashel ruling
“The Archdiocese of St. John’s is looking to the Supreme Court of Canada to examine a landmark ruling that puts the Catholic Church on the hook for millions in sexual abuse lawsuits(link is external). The ruling involves Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, where over the course of decades boys suffered immense sexual and physical abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers of Ireland. The Brothers were not employees of the archdiocese, but in July Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal ruled the church created space for them to abuse children and get away with it, and therefore was liable to pay out damages owed by the now-defunct Christian Brothers organization.” By Ryan Cooke, CBC News

Vigil calls on Catholic Diocese to drop legal fight against abuse survivor
“Those taking part in a vigil outside St. Peter’s Basilica in downtown London on Tuesday (Sept. 15) called on the Catholic Diocese of London to drop its appeal in a decades-long legal battle with a sexual abuse survivor(link is external). ‘The way that the church is treating me now through litigation is so traumatizing, and it’s much more traumatizing than the actual abuse,’ said sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes. Deschenes reached a settlement in 2000 for sexual abuse she suffered as a child in the early 1970s at the hands of the late Father Charles Sylvestre.” By Bryan Bicknell, CTV News

Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth Sexual Abuse Class Action Lawsuit
“McKiggan Hebert Lawyers in Halifax has filed a class action against the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth on behalf of persons who allege they were sexually abused by priests from the Archdiocese(link is external) from 1960 to date. The class action, filed by Douglas Champagne on behalf of other sexual abuse survivors, claims that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax-Yarmouth, more commonly known as the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Halifax-Yarmouth, had a decades long policy of secrecy of any allegations of sexual abuse against a priest.” By APMLawyers.com

Catholic church settles Vernon lawsuit, apologizes for sexual abuse
“Two brothers who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest in Vernon(link is external) during the 1970s have come to an out of court settlement with the Archdiocese of Kamloops. The brothers filed separate civil claims last year, both alleging they had been sexually abused by Father Herbert Bourne when they were teenagers while the now-deceased priest was working at the St. James Catholic Church in Vernon. The brothers’ lawyer Bill Dick told iNFOnews.ca the case was settled out of court a couple of weeks ago.” By Ben Bulmer, InfoNews.ca

St. Catharine’s Catholic Diocese reaches settlement with witness of her sister’s chronic sex abuse
“A woman whose sister was sexually abused as a child by a Roman Catholic priest(link is external) has reached a settlement with the Diocese of St. Catharine’s for abuse she witnessed in a case that expands the common understanding of who is a victim … The woman, whom The Globe and Mail is not identifying to protect the identity of her sister as a child victim of sex abuse, said she wants to share her story with others who may not have recognized abuse in their own lives. It was only six years ago that she realized she was also a victim.” By Kelly Bennett, The Globe and Mail

INDONESIA

How Catholic order from the Philippines set up orphanage where sexual abuse occurred
“The Philippines-based Catholic religious order the Blessed Sacrament Missionaries of Charity (BSMC) was largely unknown to the Indonesian public until one of its members, Lukas Lucky Ngalngola, calling himself Brother Angelo and later Geovanny, put the congregation on the map, and for all the wrong reasons. Angelo allegedly abused orphanage boys under his care, sexually and physically(link is external). While the abuse against the boys who lived at the Kencana Bejana Rohani orphanage that Angelo set up in 2015 in Depok, West Java, was reported to the police in September last year, the crime was revealed to the public only very recently after victims and child protection activists spoke out in the media.” By Margareth S. Aritonang The Jakarta Post

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Victim of Malachy Finegan to launch legal action against Pope and Catholic authorities in Ireland
“A victim of Malachy Finegan is to launch legal action against Pope Francis and Catholic Church authorities in Ireland. The priest has been accused of sexual abuse across Co Down(link is external), including at St Colman’s College in Newry where he taught from 1967 and was president for a decade. At least 12 young boys are thought to have been sexually abused while he was at St Colman’s, while many more were physically abused.” By Connla Young, The Irish News

ITALY

Trial of Catholic lay leader highlights gaps in church’s sex abuse oversight
“The sexual abuse trial of Piero Alfio Capuana(link is external), the lay leader of the 5,000-member Catholic Culture and Environment Association, began in this small Sicilian city on Tuesday (Sept. 15), three years after the abuse allegedly took place … While the trial is taking place in Catania, a small city under the shadow of the volcano Etna, it has highlighted the Catholic Church’s lack of oversight over lay Catholic movements, particularly the actions of their often charismatic leaders.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

NEW ZEALAND

State abuse inquiry makes slow progress
“Nearly three years have grumbled by since the government first signed off on the Abuse in Care Royal Commission. What on earth have they been up to?(link is external) Announcing the inquiry shortly after assuming her premiership, Jacinda Ardern said it would be a historic opportunity for the nation to ‘confront our history and make sure we don’t make the same mistakes again.’ A little noticed omission in the fine print appears to have been that rather a lot of this historical confrontation would take place behind closed doors.” By David Cohen, Radio New Zealand

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