Archive for October, 2020
“An unprecedented trial is underway this month at the Vatican, the result of a whistleblower going public.
“A young priest is charged with sexually abusing an altar boy over a five-year period inside Vatican City walls. An older priest is charged with covering up the abuse.
“It’s the first criminal trial for sexual abuse to take place in the Vatican court.
“The first hearing of the trial, held earlier this month, lasted just eight minutes — enough for the Vatican court to hear graphic descriptions of the charges. The alleged victim, identified by his initials, LG, was forced “to undergo carnal acts, acts of sodomy and masturbation at different times and in different places inside Vatican City,” according to charges read out by the court clerk.
“The alleged abuse took place from 2007, when the victim was 13, until 2012.”
By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio — Read more …
“Wilton Gregory, the archbishop of Washington, D.C., and a leader of the U.S. Roman Catholic Church’s response to its sexual abuse crisis, was among 13 new cardinals that Pope Francis announced on Sunday. The move positions Archbishop Gregory, 72, to become the first African-American cardinal next month.
“He has been a national figure since 2002, when, as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, he presided over the adoption of a zero-tolerance policy toward priests guilty of sexual abuse. He was elevated from his position as the bishop of Belleville, Ill., to lead the Archdiocese of Atlanta in 2005 before Francis installed him in Washington last year.
“In recent months, Archbishop Gregory has pushed for better race relations in the church, saying it was important that young Black Catholics see church leaders who look like them.”
By Christina Morales, The New York Times — Read more …
October 26, 2020
In case related to abuse at minor seminary, two priests face trial at Vatican
“Two priests connected to a minor seminary located at the Vatican will appear before a Vatican criminal court Oct. 14 on charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of students(link is external) at the seminary. Father Gabriele Martinelli faces charges of sexually abusing younger boys when he was a seminarian at the St. Pius X Pre-Seminary. Father Enrico Radice, former rector of the seminary, is accused of aiding and abetting the abuse. The two were indicted in late 2019 following an investigation that began in November 2017.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, on Cruxnow.com
- In a first, Vatican puts priests on trial in sex-abuse case within its walls(link is external), By Associated Press in Los Angeles Times
- Vatican trial for sex abuse in pope’s youth seminary opens,(link is external) By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
- Vatican Puts Priests on Trial Over Alleged Abuse Within Its Walls(link is external), By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
Poland’s powerful Cardinal Dziwisz accused of covering up abuse case
“Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish bishops, and the Vatican’s ambassador in Poland are responsible for the case of Janusz Szymik, a long-time victim of the abusive priest Fr. Jan Wodniak(link is external). Why does the injured person have to fight for justice for over 25 years, and still waits … Szymik claims that between the years of 1984 and 1989 he was sexually abused almost 500 times by Wodniak in the village of Międzybrodzie Bialskie, about two hours southeast of Krakow.” By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter
Judge: Victims can sue Santa Fe Archdiocese over transfer
“A U.S. bankruptcy judge has ruled that lawyers for clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred millions to avoid bigger payouts to victims(link is external). The recent decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims, The Albuquerque Journal reports. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims.” By Associated Press
- Ruling allows victims to sue archdiocese over millions transferred to parishes(link is external), By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal
Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows
“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18). The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly(link is external), especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service
- Clergy shortage grows to more than 3k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows(link is external), By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Justices review priest abuse lawsuit’s ruling on time limits
“Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday (Oct. 20) grappled with whether a woman’s lawsuit on claims of sexual abuse by a priest decades ago should be allowed to proceed(link is external) — a lower-court ruling that has launched many other lawsuits since it was issued a year ago. In oral argument, the justices focused questions on whether the plaintiff, Renee Rice, waited too long to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown. Rice has argued that a 2016 grand jury report alerted her to allegations that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.” By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter
Poland becomes testing ground for Vatican’s new anti-abuse legislation
“In 1984 in the town of Międzybrodzie in southwestern Poland, a boy was abused by the local parish priest for more than five years, beginning when he was 12. Today, more than thirty-six years later, he is still looking for justice(link is external). ‘Abuse was only one station in my personal way of the cross,’ he wrote in a letter to Pope Francis last week. The investigation into the case not only involved the accused priest and his bishop – the now retired Tadeusz Rakoczy – but might also involve Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, the longtime secretary of Pope John Paul II, who later served as Archbishop of Krakow from 2005-2016.” By Paulina Guzik, Cruxnow.com
Vatican clears 91-year-old priest of abuse allegations
“The Vatican has determined that an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against a 91-year-old priest is unsubstantiated(link is external), the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said Tuesday (Oct. 13). The Rev. John P. Carroll, who was ordained in 1953, has been on administrative leave since 2005 while the allegation has been investigated, the archdiocese said in a statement. Carroll will remain restricted from ministry and has been given senior priest status, the statement said.” By Andrew Stanton, The Boston Globe
Pope intention for October: that women have greater leadership roles in the Church
“No one has been baptized a priest or a bishop. We have all been baptized as lay people. Lay people are protagonists of the Church. Today, it is especially necessary to create broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church(link is external). And we must emphasize the feminine lay presence because women tend to be left aside. We must promote the integration of women, especially where important decisions are made. We pray that by the virtue of baptism, the laity, especially women, may participate more in areas of responsibility in the Church, without falling into forms of clericalism that diminish the lay charism.” By Pope Francis on VaticanNews.va
- Pope Francis again called for more female leaders. Some Catholic women say his words aren’t enough(link is external), By Ricardo da Silve, S.J., America: The Jesuit Review
Francis expressed ‘dramatic concern’ over Germany’s ‘synodal path’
“A German bishop says Pope Francis expressed a ‘dramatic concern’ over the Catholic Church in Germany and its ‘synodal path’(link is external) of reform that began last year, which could include reviewing ‘taboo’ issues such as priestly celibacy and a female priesthood. Francis comments were reported made at Wednesday’s (Oct. 14) general audience during a conversation with Bishop Heinz Josef Algermissen, the retired bishop of Fulda. Algermissen spoke on the phone with German newspaper Fuldaer Zeitung after meeting the pope.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com
Cardinal George Pell meets with Pope Francis for first time since child sexual abuse convictions quashed
“Cardinal George Pell has met with Pope Francis at the Vatican(link is external). The meeting was confirmed in the Holy See’s daily bulletin. The Vatican released video of the private audience, showing Cardinal Pell sitting with the Pope inside his office while the pair were filmed by a camera crew. No further details were provided, but Cardinal Pell told reporters in front of his residence just outside the Vatican walls that the meeting ‘went very well.’” By ABC News Australia
- Cardinal Pell’s return to Rome fuels rumors of his restoration as finance sheriff(link is external), By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service
- Pope meets Pell: ‘Vindication’ yes, ‘resurgence’ not so fast(link is external), By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com
Pope Francis accepts resignation of Polish bishop under investigation
“Pope Francis accepted Saturday (Oct. 17) the resignation of the Bishop of Kalisz in central Poland(link is external), Edward Janiak, who is under investigation for his handling of an abuse case. Since June, Janiak’s diocese has been administered by Archbishop Grzegorz Ryś of Łódź. Pope Francis named Ryś apostolic administrator ‘sede plena’ of the Diocese of Kalisz June 25. ‘Sede plena’ is a term used to signify that a see is still occupied by a bishop.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
Germany’s Catholic Church: women are pushing for equality
“Monika Schmelter is one of the women who crisscrosses the country to press for equal rights in the Catholic Church. The reason, she points out, is that people are leaving the church in droves — including her own children. Many women share her experience of seeing their children turn their backs on the church. In response, they have come together to form a movement called ‘Maria 2.0.’(link is external) Many of them are among the traditional church faithful: women who are the backbone of Catholic parishes across Germany. They raised their sons and daughters by giving them a spiritual home, and guiding them through important sacraments.” By Deutsche-Welle
Women who ‘applied’ to be clergy say Vatican envoy is ‘open-minded’
“Seven women who recently turned in résumés at the Vatican embassy to France for ecclesial jobs open only to men were shocked not only when they got a response, but were offered one-on-one private meetings with Vatican’s nuncio(link is external) to the country, Archbishop Celestino Migliore … Several of the women came out of their conversation describing it not only as ‘cordial’ and pleasant, but praising Migliore – a longtime Vatican diplomat who from 2002-2010 served as the Vatican’s Permanent Observer to the United Nations – as kind, as an attentive listener, and as someone who is well-informed.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
Vatican plagued by scandal as Pope Francis sorts through its finances
“Pope Francis faces a scandal as he tries to sort out the Vatican’s finances(link is external). This month, he appeared publicly with European financial inspectors to reassure them that he’s cleaning house. Pope Francis was elected with a mandate to clean up the Vatican’s murky finances, and he’s made strides in doing so. But as NPR’s Sylvia Poggioli reports, the Vatican is still plagued by scandal and intrigue.” By Sylvia Poggioli, National Public Radio
Power struggles entangle the Vatican
“Sometimes for excellent reasons, presidents and prime ministers in democracies are prone to suspect plots aimed at removing them or forcing fundamental policy changes. The reign of Pope Francis, now in its eighth year, testifies to the fact that ruthless power struggles go on at the Vatican, too(link is external). The infighting revolves around alleged financial crimes, sexual abuse scandals, doctrinal disputes and Pope Francis’s efforts to reform the Vatican’s administrative apparatus. All are being weaponised in a contest for control of the Roman Catholic Church that has persisted since the death in 2005 of John Paul II, the second-longest-serving pope in the Church’s more than 2,000-year history.” By Tony Barber, Financial Times
Australian police probe alleged Vatican funds transfer amid Pell trial
“Australian police are investigating the alleged transfer of Vatican funds to Australia amid the prosecution of former Vatican treasurer George Pell for child sex abuse(link is external) and have referred the matter to an anti-corruption body. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) confirmed on Wednesday (Oct. 21) they have received information from Australia’s financial crimes watchdog. ‘The AFP is undertaking a review of the relevant information,’ the police said in emailed comments. The AFP said it had also referred some aspects of the matter to the Victorian Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission (IBAC), which investigates misconduct by state police.” By Sonali Paul, Reuters
Moveyval team concludes evaluation of Vatican Bank
“Moneyval, the Council of Europe Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism concluded what has been described as a ‘positive and collaborative’ on-site visit to the Vatican(link is external). A statement released by the Holy See Press Office said the meetings, that took place during the evaluation visit, ‘were held in a constructive and cooperative atmosphere.’” By Independent Catholic News
Vatican updates transparency laws to strengthen financial management
“Continuing its efforts to combat money laundering and financial mismanagement, the Vatican amended its transparency laws and expanded the role of its financial watchdog agency(link is external) in monitoring financial transactions. According to a statement released Oct. 10, the Vatican said it updated its legislation, more commonly known as Law XVIII. Passed in 2013, Law XVIII regulated financial activities and paved the way for collaboration and an exchange of information between the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority, known by the Italian acronym AIF, and its international counterparts, and monitored financial transactions.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
Who governs the Catholic Church? It’s an open question.
“As every Catholic knows, the pope runs the church. Is it not exceedingly strange, therefore, to call church governance an open question?(link is external) Yes, it is strange, but I feel compelled to do so for three reasons. First, I have just published a book, “When Bishops Meet,” in which the third chapter is entitled “Who Is in Charge?” That question arose with unavoidable force as I compared and contrasted the last three church-wide councils: Trent, Vatican I and Vatican II. That review of the councils showed clearly that, historically speaking, the question of who runs the church is complex—and cannot be reduced to the papacy.” By John W. O’Malley, America: The Jesuit Review
N.J. diocese bankruptcy filing creates uncertainty
“Amid the world-shaking news of recent days, the announcement that the Catholic Diocese of Camden has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection created fewer ripples than it might have at some other time(link is external). This may well have played into the diocese’s desire for the faithful and the community to regard the event as a ‘nothing to see here; business as usual’ one. After all, Americans have been busy sorting sort out another set of circumstances concerning the health of its president, where the smiley faces posted in official updates turned out not to be what they first seemed.” By South Jersey Times Editorial Board
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Churches knew of allegations against notorious pedophile priests, royal commission says
“The Anglican and Catholic churches knew about allegations against notorious pedophile priests years before they were convicted and jailed for child sexual abuse(link is external), missing crucial opportunities to stop them from abusing other children. The findings were outlined in two unredacted and one previously unreleased report published by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse on Tuesday (Oct. 20). The findings were previously redacted so as not to prejudice ongoing legal proceedings against the two abusers: the former Anglican dean of Newcastle Graeme Lawrence and the former Catholic priest Vincent Gerard Ryan.” By Melissa Davey, The Guardian
Report: 18 people eligible for compensation in statewide priest abuse cases
“The Most Rev. Stephen J. Berg, bishop of the Diocese of Pueblo, said Friday (Oct. 16) that he is grateful for the work of an independent program created to help victims of historic sexual abuse by priests throughout the state(link is external). The Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program provides survivors of abuse with an opportunity to file claims for compensation and to receive victim support services, regardless of how long ago the abuse occurred.” By Anthony A. Mestas, The Pueblo Chieftain
Colorado’s Catholic dioceses paid $6.68 million to 73 survivors of priest abuse
“Colorado’s three Catholic dioceses have paid $6.68 million to 73 survivors of sexual abuse by priests(link is external). That’s according to an update Friday (Oct. 16) from the managers of the state’s Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which fielded claims from survivors and determined their credibility and eligibility for compensation, and how much money each should be given by the church. Eight claims were rejected by the IRRP. Another eight claims are pending because the survivors are waiting to receive payment, have not received their compensation offers or must still report their abuse to law enforcement before their cases can move forward.” By Jesse Paul, Colorado Sun
Archdiocese of Chicago removes retired pastor Daniel McCarthy from Norwood Park parish following allegation of sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago over the weekend removed the Rev. Daniel McCarthy from St. Elizabeth of the Trinity, a parish in Norwood Park where he was pastor emeritus, after an allegation surfaced that he sexually abused a minor(link is external) about 50 years ago at a Far North Side orphanage, according to the archdiocese. McCarthy, a chaplain since 2012 at Notre Dame College Prep, a Roman Catholic school in Niles, was alleged to have committed the abuse while he was assigned to the now-closed Angel Guardian Orphanage in Chicago’s West Ridge neighborhood, according to a letter Cardinal Blase Cupich sent Saturday to the St. Elizabeth of Trinity community.” By Kelli Smith, Chicago Tribune
Ex-Merrillville priest accused of abuse, faking assault is defrocked, church says
“A former Merrillville priest accused of sexually abusing a girl(link is external) in the 1980s, and later faking a 2018 beating at St. Michael Byzantine Catholic Church was officially banned from the priesthood this summer, according to a church statement. After a nearly two-year review, Basil J. Hutsko was defrocked, according to a letter dated Aug. 17, posted online from the Byzantine Catholic Eparchy of Parma, an Eastern Catholic sect based in Ohio.” By Meredith Colias-Pete, Post-Tribune
Indiana church defrocks priest who allegedly abused minor, faked assault claim
“An Indiana priest who garnered headlines in 2018 by claiming that he had been assaulted in a hate crime and allegedly sexually abused a minor in the 1980s has been defrocked(link is external). Father Basil John Hutsko of Saint Michael Byzantine Catholic Church in Merrillville claimed back in 2018 that he’d been assaulted by a man shouting ‘this is for all the little kids.’” By Michael Gryboski, Christian Post Reporter
Archdiocese of New Orleans prepares to add 7 Franciscan priests to clergy abuse list
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to add seven names to its list of local clergy found to have credible accusations of child molestation(link is external) against them, after a Roman Catholic religious order released its own roster of accused priests last week. The additional names, which include a priest who is believed to have preyed on a minor during his time in the New Orleans area, will bring the total number of alleged abusers publicly identified by Archbishop Gregory Aymond to 72.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, New Orleans Times-Picayune, and David Hammer, WWL-TV
New Orleans priest removed for abuse sent messages to high school student
“The Archdiocese of New Orleans reportedly knew for months but did not inform school officials that a priest chaplain at a Catholic high school had sent texts to a student, in violation of archdiocesan policies(link is external). The priest was removed from ministry last week after admitting to have sexually abused a minor in an unrelated case.” By Catholic News Agency
Michigan’s clergy abuse probe identifies 454 accused priests, 811 victims
“A two-year investigation into sexual abuse in Michigan’s Catholic churches has, so far, identified 454 accused priests and 811 victims(link is external), and led to charges against 11 clergymen. Of the 11 charged, two have been convicted thus far. Their sentences were for 60 and 45 days in jail. ‘We are committed to ensuring that every case of sexual abuse and assault is thoroughly reviewed and that whenever we are able to pursue justice for a victim, we do so aggressively and relentlessly,’ said Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel. “We must all commit to breaking down the walls of silence that so often surround sexual assault and abuse.” By Justine Lofton, MLive.com
Former priest charged with sex crime in Farmington returns to court next week
“A former priest charged with a sex crime that allegedly happened in 1977 in Farmington has been extradited from Illinois and arraigned in 47th District Court, where he will return next week for a pre-exam conference. Gary Berthiaume, 78, was arrested Sept. 29 at his home in Warrendale, Illinois, and arraigned Monday (Oct. 19) on one count of second-degree criminal conduct for allegedly assaulting a young boy at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church(link is external). Bond was set at $50,000 cash/surety.” By Aileen Wingblad, The Oakland Press
Twin hit of abuse claims and pandemic could push NJ Catholic dioceses toward bankruptcy
“For Catholic churches around the country, it has become a familiar refrain: After shelling out millions of dollars in settlements to survivors of clergy abuse, a diocese says it’s broke and declares bankruptcy. The Diocese of Camden, representing a half-million Catholics in 62 South Jersey parishes, became the latest to file for bankruptcy protection(link is external) on Oct. 1 — 10 months after a new state law waived the statute of limitations on decades-old abuse claims.” By Deena Yellin, NorthJersey.com
Date to file lawsuits against Syracuse Diocese moved up to April
“A bar on filing claims against the Roman Catholic Syracuse Diocese will begin April 15, 2021, as part of Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings(link is external). Chief Judge Margaret Cangilos-Ruiz of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court Northern District of New York made the decision Thursday, according to an announcement from the law firm Jeff Anderson and Associates. This was confirmed by diocese officials. Court records show a bench decision was made but a written decision has not yet been issued.” By H. Rose Schneider, Observer-Dispatch
Pastor place on leave after two sex abuse allegations
“The pastor of a Roman Catholic parish in Buffalo’s Old First Ward has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation(link is external) by the Diocese of Buffalo into two allegations of child sex abuse made against the priest that date back to the 1970s, according to a statement released by the diocese Friday (Oct.9). The Rev. Donald Lutz, pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church, was placed on leave by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger.” By Harold McNeil, The Buffalo News
Rape case is latest action to bring attention to Catholic clergy in Butler County
“In a little more than a year, multiple local Catholic clergy have drawn accusations – and one faces criminal charges – about sexual abuse of youths(link is external). One of the more high-profile cases involving a former Liberty Twp. priest took its next step this week, when a judge ruled an alleged second victim of the Rev. Geoff Drew could testify at Drew’s rape trial, which was also rescheduled from this month to April 2021. In a little more than a year, multiple local Catholic clergy have drawn accusations – and one faces criminal charges – about sexual abuse of youths.” By Michael D. Clark, Journal-News
Priest found unsuitable for ministry after sex abuse allegation in Chester County is substantiated
“A Catholic priest has been found unsuitable for ministry after a finding that he sexually abused a minor(link is external) in the late 1970s in Chester County, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Friday (Oct. 9). The victim reported in October 2019 that the Rev. William E. Dean, now 70, had committed the abuse while serving at SS. Philip & James Parish in Exton. The allegation was reported to the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program, which was set up in 2018 to financially compensate victims of clergy sex abuse whose claims are too old to be taken to court.” By Julie Shaw, Philadelphia Inquirer
Pennsylvania Supreme Court sets hearing in clergy abuse case
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Oct. 20 on the appeal from a Roman Catholic diocese in a case that could allow plaintiffs to sue over sexual abuse by priests in cases that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations(link is external). The court will hear the case of Renee Rice of Altoona, who sued the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown alleging sexual abuse by one of its priests, the Rev. Charles F. Bodziak, in the 1970s and 1980s.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
- Diocese of Erie seeks stay in federal abuse suit as Pa. Supreme Court takes up big appeal(link is external), By Ed Palattella, Erie Times-News
Judge dismisses priest-abuse suits against R.I. Catholic diocese
“A state judge on Friday (Oct. 16) dismissed three priest-abuse lawsuits against the leaders of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence(link is external). The ruling, by Superior Court Judge Netti Vogel, analyzed a new 2019 law that extended the deadline to sue over childhood sexual abuse in Rhode Island from seven years to 35 years after the victim’s 18th birthday. Vogel noted that if the deadline had already run out under the old law, someone could still sue their ‘perpetrator’ under the new deadline retroactively.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal
Catholic Diocese of Richmond paying $6.3 million to 51 victims sexually abused by clergy
“The Catholic Diocese of Richmond is paying $6.3 million to 51 individuals who as minors experienced sexual abuse by clergy(link is external). News of the payments was released Thursday in a report on the diocese’s website. ‘The completion of this program is by no means the end of our efforts to provide for our diocese’s victim survivors,’ wrote Bishop Barry C. Knestout in a letter on the website announcing the report. ‘Our outreach is ongoing. We must, and we will, continue to meet victim survivors with support and compassion motivated by our shared love of Jesus Christ.’” By Dean Hoffmeyer, Richmond Times-dispatch
Catholic abuse survivor says the money is not enough, she wants answers
“Father Mark White has been calling for transparency from the Catholic Church for a long time(link is external). The Catholic Diocese of Richmond will pay $6.3 million to 51 people who were sexually abused by clergy members when they were minors. As White explains, the money is a start. ‘It’s some kind of effort to make people who, to give them a cash settlement. Money comes in handy, because people who suffered the sex abuse as minors wind up with a lot of financial problems as a result.’” By Santiago Meilli-Huber, WFXR-TV News
Sex abuse: the price of negligence, ignorance and cover-ups
“Church leaders in Bangladesh are perhaps relieved that a series of brutal gang rapes in the country have overshadowed and shifted public and media attention from the arrest of a priest on allegations of raping a minor girl(link is external). Father Prodip Gregory, 41, a parish priest in Rajshahi Diocese, was arrested by police on Sept. 29, a day after the elder brother of the girl sued him. He is the first Catholic priest from the minority Christian community to be arrested for rape. If found guilty, he will be the first priest to serve a jail term for rape.” By Rock Ronald Rozario, UCANews.com
‘Loophole’ in child abuse reporting in historic cases: advocates
“If a child told you they’d been sexually assaulted by an adult what would you do? Would you call police? Would you report the allegations to a children’s aid society? Or would you do neither? For most of us, the moral choice is clear. So why has the obligation to report often been ignored by many who claim to be doing God’s work(link is external)? Sister Nuala Kenny is a pediatrician who has spent decades examining the sexual assault scandal rocking the religious institution she’s given her life to.” By Adrian Ghobrial and Jessica Bruno, Toronto City News
Toronto-based order of priests buried allegations of sex abuse at boys camp: whistleblower
“For a group of underprivileged children from Toronto, a sunny escape became a cabin of horrors. A whistleblower tells CityNews he reported allegations of child sexual assault by a Catholic Father(link is external) and said he now wishes he hadn’t gone to the priest’s religious order to seek justice. ‘In hindsight, knowing more now, I would have phoned the police,’ said Bill Taylor. ‘But at 17, I did what I thought was right.’ This is the first time he’s publicly sharing his story.” By Adrian GhobriAL, Jessica Bruno and Meredith Bond, Toronto City News
- Basilians refuse to answer questions about alleged pedophile priest moved through Catholic schools(link is external), By Jessica Bruno and Adrian Ghobrial, Toronto City News
- Exclusive: Pursuing a historic order of Catholic priests accused of hiding child sex assault(link is external), By Toronto City News
- Alleged abuse, coverups and year of trauma: inside the legacy of the Basilian Fathers(link is external), By KitchenerToday.com
Man claims he was sexually assaulted by former principal of St. Michael’s College School
“If you or someone you know are victims of sexual violence(link is external), you can contact Crisis Services Canada, a 24/7 hotline, at 1-833-456-4566 or you can find local support through the Ontario Coalition of Rape Crisis Centres; The Government of Canada has also compiled a list of sexual misconduct support centres. If you are under 18 and need help, contact the Kid’s Help Phone online or at 1-800-668-6868. Peter Luci loaded his father’s shotgun into the trunk of his car, drove to St. Michael’s College School, and sat in the parking lot.” By Adrian Ghobrial, Jessica Bruno and Meredith Bond, Toronto City News
IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND
Limerick priest jailed for sexually abusing young boy
“A priest who worked in several parishes in the Diocese of Limerick has been sentenced to three year’s imprisonment after he was convicted of sexually abusing a young boy(link is external) two decades ago. The 60-year-old, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had denied nine charges relating to offences which occurred on dates between September 1, 1999 and December 31, 2002.” By David Hurley, Limerick Leader
- Bishop of Limerick apologises to man who was sexually abused by priest as a child(link is external), By David Hurley, Limerick Leader
“Pennsylvania’s highest court on Tuesday (Oct. 20) grappled with whether a woman’s lawsuit on claims of sexual abuse by a priest decades ago should be allowed to proceed — a lower-court ruling that has launched many other lawsuits since it was issued a year ago.
“In oral argument, the justices focused questions on whether the plaintiff, Renee Rice, waited too long to sue the Roman Catholic Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.
“Rice has argued that a 2016 grand jury report alerted her to allegations that church officials’ silence about a priest who she says molested her amounted to fraudulent concealment.
“The 2016 report in Altoona-Johnstown preceded the wider 2018 report that found decades of sexual attacks on children by priest in other Pennsylvania dioceses.”
By Mark Scolforo, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
Clergy shortage grows to more than 14k Catholics for every priest, Vatican data shows / Religion News Service
The reasons for the steady hemorrhage of Catholic clergy worldwide are varied, from secularization to the church’s ongoing sexual and financial scandals. And the COVID-19 pandemic has brought its own challenges. (Religion News Service)
“Catholic missions are struggling amid dwindling vocations and the COVID-19 pandemic, according to data released by the Vatican ahead of the World Mission Day this Sunday (Oct. 18).
“The number of priests and ordained leaders has dropped significantly, especially in Europe and America, according to the report issued on Friday (Oct. 16) by the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, charged with distributing clergy and coordinating missions around the world.
“The total number of priests in the world decreased to 414,065 in 2018, with Europe registering a drop of 2,675 priests compared to 2017. The report also reveals a slight decrease in the number of Catholic faithful in America, Europe and Oceania. Meanwhile, Africa and Asia continue to show signs of growth, according to the data.
“‘We mustn’t be afraid! Mission goes on thanks to the power of the Holy Spirit,’ said Archbishop Protase Rugambwa, the secretary of the evangelizing congregation, during a press conference at the Vatican on Friday.
“However, the diminishing number of clergy coincides with an increase in the global population, putting pressure on priests who must minister to larger numbers of people. As of December 2018, the report shows, there are 1,328,993,000 Catholics in the world.”
By Claire Giangrave, Religion News Service — Read more …
“A U.S. bankruptcy judge in Albuquerque has ruled that lawyers for clergy sex abuse survivors can file lawsuits alleging the Archdiocese of Santa Fe fraudulently transferred an estimated $150 million in assets to parishes in an attempt to avoid bigger payouts to victims.
“The decision by Judge David T. Thuma in the Chapter 11 reorganization case opens the door to what could be a multimillion-dollar boon to hundreds of alleged victims. Or it could set off protracted, costly legal appeals that would tap funds that could have paid valid abuse claims.
“Lawyers for the 94 archdiocese parishes, several of which predate the archdiocese by many decades or even centuries, predicted at a court hearing in August that the “decimation” of certain parishes would result if the lawsuits into the transfers go forward.”
By Colleen Heild, Albuquerque Journal — Read more …
By Svea Fraser, a founding member and former Trustee of Voice of the Faithful, delivered during VOTF’s 2020 Conference: Visions of a Just Church on Oct. 3, 2020. Use this link to watch Svea Fraser’s presentation.
I have been invited to speak on women’s roles in the Church.
It is my pleasure to take this opportunity to tell you of some initiatives that have engaged us in Voice of the Faithful, and the resources available on our website (www.votf.org).
I will begin by putting our work in the context of the wider Church and efforts on behalf of women over the past decades.
I hope that after this brief overview, each of you is more aware of the possibilities for authentic lay ministry, and that you will add your voice, your actions, and your prayers for renewing the face of the Church, a Church that as our former VOTF President Jim Post said, “would make Jesus smile!”
With that, I have titled this presentation, “NOT COUNTING WOMEN …”
The title is based on the conclusion of the miracle of the loaves and fishes in Matthew’s Gospel. It reads:
“Taking the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, he (Jesus) said the blessing, broke the loaves, and gave them to the disciples, who in turn gave them to the crowds. They all ate and were satisfied, and they picked up the fragments left over—twelve wicker baskets full. Those who ate were about five thousand men, NOT COUNTING WOMEN and children.”
Two thousand years later, the time has come to take account of women, half the members of the Catholic Church!Tweet
VOTF has counted on women since the inception of our movement:
Falling well within our mission to actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Church, and meeting our goal to change the structure, the role of women is a worthy subject of prayer and renewal. We need only look back to the last chapter of Jim Muller and Charles Kenney’s book Keep the Faith, Change the Church, called “How We Can Change the Church—Together,” to be reminded of this. In their list of nine suggested activities to help strengthen the church, “Enhancing the role of women in the church” is ranked number three.
We are a universal catholic church, spanning the globe as brothers and sisters sharing our universal call to holiness by virtue of our baptism: prophets, priests, and royal leaders. Our desire for the equality of women is not an isolated endeavor. VOTF is like a star within the wider galaxy of voices whose concerns we share.
And so before I describe some of our initiatives, I am reminded of the rising tide of voices speaking up for the inclusion of women seeking affirmation and credibility. Our questions and our hopes are set within a broader context of the wider Church that challenges all of us to be the Gospel people God calls us to be.
Here are some courageous challenges spoken to popes by a number of our faithful sisters.
Remember the day Pope John Paul II came to the United States in 1979? Many of us saw him on that rainy day in Boston. 400,000 people gathered for Mass on the Boston Common. As memorable as that day was, I remember his visit most profoundly for what happened in Washington, DC a few days later.
Sr. Theresa Kane, a Sister of Mercy and then president of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, stood before 5,000 other sisters (not counting men!) who had gathered to greet Pope John Paul II at the Basilica of the National Shrine in Washington, DC. She spoke these memorable words:
“Our contemplation leads us to state that the Church in its struggle to be faithful to its call for reverence and dignity for all persons must respond by providing the possibility of women as persons being included in all ministries of our Church. I urge you, Your Holiness to be open to and respond to the voices coming from the women of this country who are desirous of serving in and through the Church as fully participating members.”
Theresa’s action was a “huge boost” to the promotion of women’s roles.
Although these words were spoken well before the horrific revelation of abuse and cover up, they were an inspiration to me when the time came for us to speak truth to power. Moved by the Holy Spirit, and buoyed by the courage and dedication of so many unnamed heroes, VOTF was born and endures to this very day! God’s will be done!!
Fast forward to the Papacy of Francis. Among other changes, Pope Francis called for synods for wide consultation on critical areas that need attention in the Church. The 2015 Synod on the Family included 30 women and 279 men. However, invited as auditors only, the women were not allowed to vote. As welcome as the synodal approach is, voting by members is limited to men only.
One woman asked, “Where are women’s voices in the Synods? You are breathing with only one lung.” Italian historian Lucetta Scaraffia wrote, “The absence of women’s perspectives at times of reflection on these issues is not only an act of disdain toward women, who make up more than half of religious and believers, it is also an impoverishment of Catholic life.”
In the Final Report of the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis admitted that a contributing factor in the social recognition of the role of women depends on a greater appreciation of their responsibilities in the Church: this includes involvement in decision-making, participation in the administration of some institutions and involvement in the formation of ordained ministers. (para 27)
At the May 2016 meeting of the Women’s International Union of Superiors General, the Pope was challenged with the question, “What prevents the Church from including women among permanent deacons, as was the case in the primitive church?” Sister Carmen Sammut, President of the International Union of Superiors General admitted, “We are already doing so many things that resemble what a deacon would do, although it would help us to do a bit more service if we were ordained deacons.” Challenging the way leadership is tied to being a cleric and therefore excluding women, Sammut adds, “It’s not just a question of feminism, it’s a question of our being baptized, that gives us the duty and the right to be part of the decision-making processes.”
The Pope responded by promising: “I would like to constitute an official commission to study the question: I think it will be good for the church to clarify this point, I agree, and I will speak so as to do something of this type,”
Subsequently, the Study Commission on the Women’s Diaconate was established in August 2016 to review the theology and history of the of deacons in the Roman Catholic Church and the question of whether women might be allowed to become deacons.
That Commission comprised five men and five women (CORRECTION: six men and six women, with Archbishop Ladaria President), the first Papal Commission ever to have women and in equal proportion to men. Dr. Phyllis Zagano (Catholic studies scholar who also addressed VOTF ‘s 2020 Conference) was one of those members! The commission met for two years . After submitting their report, it was a great disappointment that their conclusion about the possibility of women deacons was ultimately deemed inconclusive. But the work continues with a reconstituted Commission.
In October 2018, the Synod on Youth ended with some of the strongest language yet for the inclusion of women in its all-male decision-making structures, calling the matter a “duty of justice” that requires a “courageous cultural conversion.” Paragraph 148 in the final report states, “The absence of women’s voices and points of view impoverishes discussion and the path of the Church, subtracting a precious contribution from discernment.” It continues, “The synod recommends making everyone more aware of the urgency of an inescapable change.” The spirit of inclusion in the synod was meant to spill over the entire Church, calling for a greater “female presence at all levels of ecclesial organisms.”
More recently, at last year’s Amazon Synod, delegates returned to the question calling of the possibility of women’s ordination to the permanent diaconate. Bishop McElroy of San Diego wrote, “My hope would be that they find a way, a pathway, to make that a reality. And I think there is a good possibility that’s the direction it’s going to head into,” and cited the Pope’s comments immediately after the final vote as an indication that “there’s a good chance some positive action” will take place.
Some of that positive action was expressed at the conclusion of the Synod when Francis indicated that he welcomed “the request to reconvene the Commission and perhaps expand it with new members in order to continue to study the permanent diaconate that existed in the early Church.” Although the new Commission does not include any of the old members, it does continue the balance of five men and five women (plus two men: priest secretary and cardinal president).
What other POSITIVE ACTION is possible? Without the collaboration of both women and men working together, nothing will change. Positive action is dependent on men raising their voices on behalf of women—for it is men who are seated at the table where decisions are made. Women have no authoritative voice to vote, and women are no longer content to wait for mere crumbs of recognition to fall from the table.
My hope in the possibility of reform comes from so many of you, men and women, lay and clergy together who are committed to instituting pathways to shared governance and ministry that have been open to male, celibate clergy alone. To do so depends on ongoing conversation and collaboration between and among the People of God.
And HALLELUJAH! There are men who respond to this call for tangible recognition of women’s ministry. We are blessed with priests and pastors and even some bishops who support our desire for women’s rightful place in governance.
Many of those clerics are members of the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests, the largest association of priests in the United States. Founded in 2011 its members are priests in good standing in dioceses and religious communities.
At its national assembly held in Seattle in June 2013, the Association of U.S. Catholic Priests passed a resolution to promote the ongoing discussion of the ordination of women as permanent deacons and agreed to ask the U.S. bishops to give public support to the restoration of the first millennium practice of ordaining women as permanent deacons.
In August 2018, Executive Director Bob Bonnot, a priest of the diocese of Youngstown, Ohio, and a good friend of VOTF, invited us to be part of a project regarding The Status of Women in the Church. The idea was to develop a white paper on the matter to “clarify the basis of distinguishing the pastoral ministry that can be afforded the faithful (and others) by men and by women respectively in the name of the Risen Christ. Without clarification, the legal and practical distinction between men and women as regards the ability to provide pastoral ministry appears to be discriminatory and is a scandal to many.”
I was honored to be one of eight members—four priests and four women. I think it is important to name each one:
- Steve Newton, CSC (Congregation of Holy Cross), campus minister at St. Mary’s College Notre dame
- Deborah Rose-Milavec, Executive Director, FutureChurch
- Sister Mary Beth Ingham, CSJ (Sister of St. Joseph) of Orange, California, Professor of Philosophical Theology at Franciscan School of Theology, and a Blessed John Duns Scotus scholar at the University of San Diego
- David La Plante, a priest from the Archdiocese of Omaha in ministry in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee
- Sister Jackie Doepker, Franciscan Sister of Tiffin, Ohio, who is the executive Secretary of AUSCP
- Jerry Bechard, co-founder of AUSCP and longtime pastor at Sts. Simon and Jude Catholic Church in Westland, Michigan
- and Friar Kevin Schindler-McGraw, OFM Conv, Director of Ongoing Formation of Priests Formation in the Diocese of Oakland, California
We met via zoom and committed to the goal of promoting discussion, using the white paper as an opportunity for dialogue rather than an argument in favor of a specific position. Although we admitted that the conclusions of our thinking could (and did) point directly toward a proposed solution, we hoped the style would be invitational rather than adversarial. Our method called for presenting different threads from various disciplines, suggesting certain implications or conclusions. We prepared the paper as an impetus to engage the People of God in discerning women’s equal status in the church.
The preamble of our paper quotes the opening lines of Gaudium et Spes in expressing “the joys and hopes” which spring from our faith in Jesus Christ, along with the help of the Holy Spirit to overcome the “griefs and anxieties” caused by crises in our Catholic Church today. We believe that unless the institutional Church engages women as equals those crises stand little chance of being overcome.
The signs of the times suggest that what were once considered to be the most effective ways of spreading the Gospel are no longer sufficient. We need new models of universal and parochial leadership to stimulate Church renewal.
Relying on the guidance of the Holy Spirit, who speaks to us through various disciplines and our own experiences, we each chose a topic and briefly reflected on the role of women from different sources: historical, cosmological, anthropological, biological, scriptural, philosophical, theological, sacramental, liturgical, and pastoral. Each entry supported the conviction that this is a moment when we can engage a process that recognizes our common Baptism and the vital role of women in the present and future of Church ministry. Each section posed a question such as:
- How might the institutional Church meet women where they are pastorally?
- How might the Church welcome their insights as prophets and preachers, as priests in the universal priesthood of believers taking part in rituals collaboratively with their male counterparts, and as leaders with an authoritative place at the table where pastoral decisions are made?
- Would ordaining women in the permanent diaconate further endorse and sanctify the rights and duties of half of the people in the pews as a visible sign for the benefit of the People of God and the world we seek to serve?
In addition to these questions, the paper concludes with a discussion guide, suggested prayers and additional resources.
Where is the Holy Spirit leading us in these efforts? What are the possible NEXT ACTIONS for us? It is clear that the question of THE PERMANENT DEACONATE continues to rise to the surface ever since its restoration after Vatican II. And so our attention in VOTF focuses on this topic.
And who have we turned to for expertise on the subject? There is no one more well-known, more knowledgeable and more outspoken than Dr. Phyllis Zagano. VOTF is blessed by our mutual support and admiration. You are already well aware of her qualifications as a theologian, author, speaker, and member of the first Papal Commission on Women Deacons.
It was highly appropriate that we awarded Phyllis our “Catherine of Sienna Award Distinguished Layperson Award.”
Catherine’s famous statement, “Speak the truth with a million voices, its silence that kills the world,” could readily apply to Phyllis, whose “hash tag” could be “PREACH the truth with a million voices…” And through her books, articles, webinars and on-line opportunities, she must have close to a million supporters!
We all had the privilege of hearing Dr. Zagano speak this morning (use this link to watch Dr. Zagano’s presentation), and although I do not have the benefit of responding because this was prerecorded—I am sure you were captivated by her faithful and persistent dedication to the ordination of women to the permanent
We are blessed to be affiliated with her, and VOTF is a grateful recipient of her friendship and generosity. Her book Holy Saturday: An Argument for the Restoration of the Female Diaconate in the Catholic Church was a ground-breaking exposition of the possibility of ordaining women to the permanent diaconate.
In 2011 she co-authored Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future. This book offers a way to explore the history of women deacons in the Church through examples from Scripture, rites of the Church, ancient documents and contemporary sources beginning with Vatican II, when the diaconate was restored as a permanent vocation.
Donors supported the book, along with a Reflection and Study Guide for group discussion, for availability on the VOTF website.
Last Spring, VOTF offered this opportunity with downloads of the book and study guide. Eight groups of 55 people from across the US signed up and engaged in lively discussions about the permanent diaconate.
My parish collaborative hosted a workshop for 20 parishioners, which included men and women, one of whose father was ordained a permanent deacon in the first group in Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.
For many it was an education about a topic they knew little about. For others it was an opportunity to express the frustration as well as the hopes for women in ministry. Most importantly, it raises awareness and encourages ongoing conversation and action.
We plan to continue to offer this resource on our website, as well as introducing the opportunity to colleges and faith groups interested in learning more about this ministry.
This year, Phyllis published another book titled Women: Icons of Christ. This book explores the imaging of Christ and whether a woman is suitable to be the face of Christ, and capable of being conferred sacramental ordination to the diaconate. A similar Reflection and Study Guide to the Women Deacons book groups is offered on line for continuing education and discussion.
And finally, another resource is a small card, available for you to download and print, that summarizes the case for women deacons: It has already been translated in 14 languages!
One side reads:
The Second Vatican Council restored the diaconate as a permanent vocation, noting men already functioned as deacons, and thus “it is only right to strengthen them by the imposition of hands that they may carry out their ministry more effectively because of the sacramental grace of the diaconate.” Many women function as deacons today. The diaconate is not the priesthood. Women can image the Risen Lord.By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D.
The other side reads:
Ancient and medieval liturgies document Women were ordained as deacons by their bishops within the sanctuary during Mass, in the presence of the clergy through the imposition of hands by the invocation of the Holy Spirit; they self-communicated from the chalice; the bishop placed the stole around their necks. These women were called deacons. Deacons minister the diakonia of the Word, liturgy, and charity to the people of God.By Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D.
Speaking of women deacons, did you know that the church celebrates the Feast of St. Phoebe on October 3rd? You may not know much about Phoebe, and that wouldn’t be surprising.
That’s because in the continuous reading from Romans, verses one and two of chapter 16 are omitted from the lectionary (Saturday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time, Year I). So churchgoers never hear of Phoebe in our liturgy, a woman who was a deacon!Tweet
Let me proclaim it to you now!
“I commend to you our sister Phoebe a deacon of the church at Cenchreae, (sen-kree-aye) that you may receive her in the Lord as befits the saints, and help her in whatever she may require from you, for she has been a helper of many and of myself as well.”
If Saint Paul entrusts his letter to a woman deacon, how can the church justify not doing so today?
The VOTF website offers many opportunities to promote women in the church. Take a look at Women’s Roles on the votf.org website listed under “Programs.”
Some of those suggestions include:
- Writing a letter to your Bishop calling for ordained women deacons (there is a template included)
- Distributing the cards summarizing the evidence and need for women deacons
- learning about women deacons
- sharing what you learn with others—both lay and clergy
- connecting with others for conversations about restoring this Church ministry for women
- check out the DeaconChat page prepared by FutureChurch
- look at the video and reading resources;
- Of special note among the readings is a paper titled “Women Deacons: How Long?” by Carrolyn Johnson, Ed.D.
Johnson was one of the awardees of the Emily and Rosemary Fund donated by Lynette Petruda of Missouri in 2010 for women facing hardship after losing their jobs in the Church as a result of injustice or discrimination. Lynette established the fund after winning her own court case. She donated her substantial settlement money to be dispersed as grants distributed by VOTF in the name of her two grandmothers, Emily and Rosemary.
What more can I say? It’s your turn now.
- If you believe it is time to hear a woman’s voice preach the Word of God.
- If you hope to see a woman pouring the water of baptism
- If you welcome a woman witnessing the sacramental vows of a couple in marriage
- If you envision the comforting presence of a woman ministering to the bereaved
Then DO something about it.
Stand up and be COUNTED!
“Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Polish bishops, and the Vatican’s ambassador in Poland are responsible for the case of Janusz Szymik, a long-time victim of the abusive priest Fr. Jan Wodniak. Why does the injured person have to fight for justice for over 25 years, and still waits?
“The question, still hanging open, raises difficult issues for the Vatican, as Dziwisz was Pope John Paul II’s trusted secretary for 27 years before serving as the Archbishop of Krakow from 2005 to 2016.
“Szymik claims that between the years of 1984 and 1989 he was sexually abused almost 500 times by Wodniak in the village of Międzybrodzie Bialskie, about two hours southeast of Krakow.
“‘It lasted so long, because I was a child who was cornered by him, lived in a snare, because there was nobody to turn to for help, and Wodniak knew it perfectly well,’ Szymik explained to me, adding that due to the experience he came close to committing suicide.
“From 1992 forward, the village in which Szymik was abused became part of a new diocese, Bielsko-Zywiec, which was established by John Paul. It was headed by one of the Holy Father’s closest associates: Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy. This name is worth remembering as it will prove crucial to the whole story.”
By Szymon Piegza, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …
“For the first time, a clergy sex abuse trial opened Wednesday (Oct. 14) in the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, with one priest accused of molesting an altar boy in the Vatican’s youth seminary and another priest accused of covering it up.
“The case concerns the closed world of the St. Pius X youth seminary, a palazzo inside the Vatican walls just across the street from where Pope Francis lives and the criminal tribunal itself. The seminary, which is run by a Como, Italy-based association of priests, serves as a residence for boys aged 12 to 18, who serve as altar boys at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica.
“According to the indictment read aloud Wednesday (Oct. 14), the Rev. Gabriele Martinelli, 28, is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force a younger seminarian into ‘carnal acts’ of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.”
By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …
“The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments on Oct. 20 on the appeal from a Roman Catholic diocese in a case that could allow plaintiffs to sue over sexual abuse by priests in cases that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations.
“The court will hear the case of Renee Rice of Altoona, who sued the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown alleging sexual abuse by one of its priests, the Rev. Charles F. Bodziak, in the 1970s and 1980s. The case is scheduled to be heard at 9:30 a.m. on Oct. 20, with arguments livestreamed on YouTube, according to the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts.
“Ms. Rice’s lawsuit, filed in 2016, was dismissed by a Blair County judge who said the statute of limitations precluded suing over long-ago abuse.
“But the state Superior Court ruled in 2019 that she could pursue her claim that the Altoona-Johnstown diocese covered up sexual abuse by numerous priests using a pattern of alleged fraud and conspiracy that continued right up to the 2016 release of a grand jury report into sexual abuse in the diocese.”
By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette — Read more …