Archive for October, 2020
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 …
October 12, 2020
Report finds flaws in Catholic Church abuse-prevention plans
“Child-protection policies adopted by Roman Catholic leaders to curb clergy sex abuse in the United States are inconsistent and often worryingly incomplete, according to a think tank’s two-year investigation encompassing all 32 of the country’s archdioceses. The analysis by Philadelphia-based CHILD USA said the inconsistencies and gaps suggest a need for more detailed mandatory standards for addressing sexual abuse of children by priests(link is external) and other church personnel, a problem that has beset the church for decades and resulted in many criminal investigations, thousands of lawsuits and bankruptcy filings by numerous dioceses.” By David Cray, Associated Press, in Martinsville Bulletin
Facing 200 Abuse Claims, Diocese Becomes U.S.’s Largest to Seek Bankruptcy
“Facing more than 200 lawsuits over sexual abuse allegations, the Diocese of Rockville Centre on Long Island said on Thursday (Oct. 1) that it filed for bankruptcy, the largest Roman Catholic diocese in the United States to do so(link is external). The diocese, which serves about 1.5 million people, said it was seeking financial protection in part because of the passage of New York State’s Child Victims Act, which allows adults who were victims of sexual assault as children to file claims.” By Michael Gold, The New York Times
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(link is external) amid accusations of inaction against allegedly corrupt bishops. ‘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
Cardinal Becciu allegations mount as Vatican appoints new prosecutor
“Italian businessman Gianluigi Torzi has provided detailed information to investigators in the ongoing Vatican financial scandal(link is external), according to new reports. News of Torzi’s cooperation with prosecutors follows the resignation of Cardinal Angelo Becciu last week, and the announcement that Pope Francis has appointed a new prosecutor to strengthen the case.” By Catholic News Agency
- Becciu accused of sending Vatican funds to Australia during Pell trial(link is external), By Catholic News Agency
- Former cardinal ‘stole funds to bribe witnesses’ in rival’s sex-abuse case(link is external), By Michael Keogh
Church says Cardinal Pell returning to Vatican in crisis
“Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis’ former finance minister, will soon return to the Vatican during an extraordinary economic scandal(link is external) for the first time since he was cleared of child abuse allegations in Australia five months ago, a church agency said Monday (Sept. 28). Pell will fly back to Rome on Tuesday, CathNews, an information agency of the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said, citing ‘sources close to’ Pell.” By Rod McGuirk, Associated Press
- Cardinal Pell returns to Vatican mired in financial scandal,(link is external) By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press
- Why is Australia’s Cardinal Pell returning to Rome?(link is external) By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review
- Cardinal Pell Is Expected at Vatican, 3 Years After Leaving Under a Shadow(link is external), By Elisabetta Povoledo, The New York Times
- Cardinal Pell to return to Rome days after resignation of his rival on Vatican financial reform(link is external), By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service
Mincione used former Vatican fund to invest in mafia-linked bond managed by Torzi company
“An investment fund created for the Holy See Secretariat of State to invest Church assets was used to purchase millions in a bond of debt products issued by companies, some with alleged mafia links. Both the investment fund and the bond, which packaged hospital receivables into a debt security, were managed by companies belonging to two businessmen at the center of the ongoing Vatican financial scandal(link is external).” By Ed Condon, Catholic News Agency
Gonzaga Scholars Awarded Grant to Host Conference on Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Catholic Church
“Gonzaga University has been awarded a $40,000 grant to host a four-day research conference in spring 2022 as part of a new interdisciplinary initiative entitled ‘Taking Responsibility.’ The initiative, made possible by a new nearly $1 million grant to Fordham University in New York City, aims to address the crisis in the Catholic Church related to sexual abuse by priests(link is external) … Other universities awarded grants by the ‘Taking Responsibility’ initiative include Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California, and Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. Each is pursuing a specific project within the effort.” By Gonzaga University News
Under Pope Francis, ‘accountability’ finally crosses the Tiber
“Although the drama triggered by the sudden fall from grace of Italian Cardinal Angelo Becciu is far from over, things nonetheless have reached the stage where it’s also possible to stand back and ponder the bigger picture … Such diversions aside, there is at least one big-picture insight confirmed by the Becciu affair: ‘Accountability,’ in the full American sense of the word, is finally crossing the Tiber in the Pope Francis era(link is external).” By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com
WOMEN IN THE CHURCH
Women in the Catholic Church: An unresolved issue
“This article emerges from two complementary thoughts. The first is essential when reading the pronouncement of some Mexican Catholic female theologians, published on March 9, 2020, in which they join the national women’s strike: ‘To denounce the Kyriocentric hierarchical patriarchy that has appropriated the sacred, the spiritual and leadership(link is external) under the pretext of a more ‘Christlike’ corporeality, and has denied women recognition of ordained ministries. Because the church has not been a safe place for women, and many have been victims of sexual predators, abuse, threats and harassment by leaders, priests, theologians, and laymen who have participated in these violations against women.’” By José Zepedal and Isabel Corpas De Posada, OpenDemocracy.net
Vatican releases financial figures, promises transparency
“The Vatican released its most detailed-ever financial figures on Thursday (Oct. 1), acknowledging it might have been swindled before but promising the faithful who have been shocked by money scandals that it would become like a ‘glass house’ in its transparency(link is external). The Vatican economy minister, Father Juan Antonio Guerrero, said the Vatican’s total net assets in 2019 were about 4 billion euros, which is believed to be the first time any such figure has been given.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters
New group calls for church reform
“A new group has been formed in Tasmania to promote reform in the Church, calling for it to become more collaborative, accountable and transparent(link is external). The Concerned Catholics Tasmania group will be launched in Launceston on Saturday (Oct. 3) with Francis Sullivan, the former chief of the Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, named as one of the guest speakers. Chairman and retired Burnie lawyer Kim Chen says there is no formal means whereby lay Catholics can converse with Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous about ‘their hopes, wishes and needs.’” By CathNews.com
Camden Latest Catholic Diocese Bankrupted by Clergy Abuse Claims
“The Diocese of Camden in New Jersey filed for bankruptcy, becoming the latest U.S. Catholic Church district to seek court protection from a surge of lawsuits filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse(link is external). The Camden diocese filed for protection late Thursday (Oct. 1) in New Jersey, joining at least five other dioceses that have declared bankruptcy this year to deal with sexual abuse claims. One of the largest church districts in the U.S., Long Island’s Diocese of Rockville Centre, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this week.” By Josh Saul, Bloomberg
- Camden’s Catholic diocese left two-thirds of the claims filed with its sex abuse victim fund unpaid as it sought bankruptcy protection(link is external), By Jeremy Roebuck and Mensah M. Dean, The Philadelphia Inquirer
Vatican causes chaos by invalidating baptism formula
“Computers are unforgiving, but Christianity is supposed to be forgiving. Computers insist that humans, especially programmers, be exact. A single wrong letter in a line of code can crash a program. But even ordinary users can experience this. Nothing puts us into panic like a computer telling us: ‘Invalid Username or Password.’ The religion of Jesus is supposed to be forgiving. He attacked the Scribes and the Pharisees for their emphasis on the minutiae of the law(link is external). Yet, even under Pope Francis, who is all about compassion and forgiveness, the literalists appear to be alive and well in the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Analysis: Vatican financial report stops short of questions on Peter’s Pence
“The Vatican on Thursday (Oct. 1) published a 2019 financial report on the Holy See, citing calls for greater transparency in how the Roman Curia has used the money at its disposal(link is external). But with a Church-wide collection for the pope’s charity taking place this Sunday, the report leaves open questions about how the Vatican has administered the millions of dollars of donations made to Peter’s Pence in recent years.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency
Abuse in the Catholic Church: Meisner’s Truth
“When the abuse scandal of the Catholic Church in Germany(link is external) reached the public at the beginning of 2010, Joachim Cardinal Meisner was in the Cologne University Clinic. He had to have an operation on his left knee. Meisner later said he had thought of a smear campaign at first. And then it came out that the reports were well-founded: ‘That horrified me, that horrified me!’” By TellerReport.com
Britain’s reckoning with past systemic child abuse is long overdue
“For the past decade, investigations in Ireland have exposed the legacy of the state-funded, religious-run institutions, from industrial schools to Magdalene laundries. Canada and Australia have confronted a similar past of institutional abuse and forced adoption. Now, as abuse inquiries in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are set to issue final reports, a reckoning is overdue in Britain(link is external).” By Caelainn Hogan, The Guardian
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Podcast: The church still needs to stay on top of the sexual abuse crisis
“In the midst of a global pandemic, an economic recession and renewed unrest around racial injustice, it can feel overwhelming to highlight yet another crisis. But the Catholic Church is only two years removed from the summer of 2018, when the sexual abuse crisis came roaring back(link is external) after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and the crimes of former Cardinal Theodore McCarick had come to light.” By Jesuitical, America: The Jesuit Review
Many victims fall through the cracks of New York’s Child Victims Act
“More than 4,400 lawsuits have been filed against alleged child abusers under New York’s Child Victims Act, but there are still many victims remain unable to access the court system in order to seek justice(link is external). A decade-long political fight preceded the passage of the CVA last year. It expanded the statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and rape cases and opened a look-back window for bringing lawsuits against alleged abusers who had previously been immune from civil liability because of the time that passed.” By Edward McKinley, Times Union
Lawsuit: Catholic priest abused children in Indigenous, rural communities in Arizona
“A Catholic priest with a history of sexually abusing children was placed in several Arizona schools(link is external) in Indigenous and rural communities, a lawsuit alleges. The Rev. James Grear worked across Arizona and in other parts of the country and U.S. territories. The lawsuit filed Thursday (Oct. 1) claims the priest sexually abused a teenager, who is a citizen of the Navajo Nation, when Grear worked at Chinle High School in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” By Lauren Castle, Arizona Republic
Lawsuit: Georgia Diocese covered up sex abuse allegations
“A lawsuit filed against a diocese in Georgia alleges officials knew about and covered up allegations that a Catholic priest sexually abused young students(link is external) and failed to prevent the crimes more than 30 years ago. The lawsuit was filed last week in Chatham County against the Diocese of Savannah and its current bishop, accusing the Catholic jurisdiction of conspiracy and fraud in mishandling alleged abuse by former priest Wayland Brown in the 80s.” By Associated Press
Man says 2 New Orleans priests abused him; church gave him unlimited therapy but no abuse listing
“Retired Catholic priest Luis Fernandez let his answering machine take the journalist’s call last month, but picked up when he heard the reporter mention molestation allegations(link is external). Initially, Fernandez said he couldn’t talk about the claims brought against him by one of his former students because ‘he didn’t know anything about it.’ But after hearing the ex-student’s name — Tim Trahan — Fernandez changed his tone.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News
Slidell pastor removed after admitting to sexual abuse of a minor in 2013
“Two local Catholic priests have been removed from active ministry, and one has been criminally charged with obscenity(link is external), according to the Archdiocese of New Orleans in a statement released on behalf of Archbishop Gregory Aymond on Thursday (Oct. 1). The two priests are Rev. Patrick Wattigny, pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist in Slidell, and Rev. Travis Clark, pastor of Sts. Peter and Paul in Pearl River, have been removed from ministry, effective immediately.” By WWL-TV4 News
Springfield Diocese online survey seeks to improve response to clergy sexual abuse claims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield is seeking input from the public on how it can improve its response to clergy sexual abuse allegations(link is external) as well as assistance to the claimants through an online survey on its website beginning Thursday (Oct. 8) and running through Oct. 19. A recent report that investigated diocesan practices on how such allegations were handled by the diocese in a case involving sexual abuse claims against the late Bishop Christopher Weldon found the process in that case to be flawed with delays, unexplained missing reports and contradictory communications that left the claimant waiting years for a response.” By Anne-Gerard Flynn, Springfield Republican, on MassLive.com
Diocese, priest named in abuse lawsuit
“Bishop McManus announced that the Diocese of Worcester has been named in a lawsuit, along with Father Thomas E. Mahoney, retired priest of the diocese, for abuse of a minor(link is external) in the 1970s. The law office of Attorney Carmen Durso is representing “John Doe” as the claimant.
Bishop McManus said, ‘Because of the serious nature of the allegation, and consistent with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Father Mahoney was notified that I have relieved him of his faculties as a priest.’” By CatholicFreePress.com
Investigation Leads to Sexual Assault Charge Against Former Catholic Priest with a Criminal Past
“A former Catholic Priest with a past of abuse towards young boys is once again locked up and charged for even more abuse allegations(link is external). In the never ending saga of Catholic priests being charged for sexual abuse of children who attended church where the priest was in authority, yet another appears to have come to light after an investigation by the Michigan Attorney Generals Office. A former priest who severed the community in the Farmington area has been charged with sexually assaulting a minor as Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel continues to investigate sexual abuse within the seven Catholic dioceses across the state.” By B. Thompson, MIHeadlines.com
- Skubick: AG Nessel poised to bring more charges in Catholic priest abuse investigations(link is external), By WLNS-TV6 News
Notice of credible allegation of abuse
“Bishop Johnston and diocesan leaders recognize how difficult it can be for a survivor of clergy sexual abuse to come forward and appreciate the great courage it takes in making a report to the Church. The diocese has received and deemed credible an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Thomas Reardon(link is external). This allegation was deemed credible following the diocesan Policy for Response to Allegations, by the Ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston. The abuse occurred in 1972 at Camp Little Flower, a diocesan camp for children ages 7-12, at 83rd and Raytown Rd. where Reardon was Camp Director.” By Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph
New legal protections for sexual assault victims in N.H. take effect this week
“New Hampshire’s protections for victims of domestic and sexual violence were widely expanded(link is external) this week, after a broad package of reforms pushed by lawmakers and signed by Gov. Chris Sununu this summer took effect. House Bill 705, known as the ‘Crime Victims’ Rights Enhancement Act of 2020,’ ushered in significant changes. The statute of limitations for civil actions in sexual assault cases is now eliminated; the rights of victims during court proceedings have been increased; and those who commit sexual assaults against people with disabilities who are unable to consent – or 13- to-16-year-olds – may no longer use marriage as an excuse, among other changes.” By Ethan DeWitt, Concord Monitor
Camden’s Catholic diocese left two-thirds of claims filed with sex abuse victim fund unpaid as it sought bankruptcy protection
“More than two-thirds of the victims who signed up to participate in a fund set up by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Camden to compensate survivors of clergy sex abuse were left with their claims unresolved and diminished expectations of seeing a payout(link is external), according to previously unreleased information included in the diocese’s bankruptcy filings this week. Now, 141 people who were encouraged by Bishop Dennis J. Sullivan to come forward and recount their trauma for fund administrators last year must join a line of other creditors — including banks, independent contractors and lawsuit plaintiffs — to jostle in court over a limited pot of money that will be divided up by the bankruptcy court.” By Jeremy Roebuck The Philadelphia Inquirer
Former NJ Catholic School Chaplain Charged With Endangering Welfare Of Students
“A priest and former chaplain of a North Jersey Catholic school was arrested and charged with endangering the welfare of six students(link is external), authorities announced Thursday (Oct. 1). Salvatore DiStefano, 61, who most recently resided at Our Lady of Peace Roman Catholic Church New Providence, is charged with engaging in a pattern of behavior that threatened the welfare of six Oratory Preparatory School students, acting Union County Prosecutor Lyndsay V. Ruotolo said.” By Cecilia Levine, Daily Voice
Cash-strapped Buffalo Diocese wants to speed up bankruptcy case
“Buffalo Diocese officials, citing a sharp decline in donations and an estimated $4 million per year in bankruptcy costs, are pleading with a federal judge to speed up its reorganization by reducing the time childhood sex abuse victims can file claims(link is external) and appointing a mediator to negotiate a settlement. Diocese officials told Chief Judge Carl L. Bucki that the diocese is strapped for cash and no longer provides financial support for 19 programs and ministries, including outreach to youth and migrants, lifelong faith formation, evangelization efforts and aid to Catholic elementary schools.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News
Former Pastor Named In Child Victims Act Suit
“A Child Victims Act lawsuit filed in July names a former Jamestown pastor who died in a 2007 plane crash at Chautauqua County Airport. The lawsuit, filed on July 28 in the state Supreme Court in Erie County, claims that the Rev. Msgr. Antoine Attea abused a male victim while serving at St. James Roman Catholic Church in Jamestown(link is external). The 17-page lawsuit list the plaintiff as ‘PB-37 Doe’ and names St. James Roman Catholic Parish Outreach, known currently as St. James Parish, as the defendant.” By Cameron Hurst, The Post-Journal
Podcast features survivor of priest sex abuse who is working with Columbus diocese
“Neither priests nor the public really understand what survivors of clergy sexual abuse go through(link is external), but they’re beginning to, says survivor Teresa Pitt Green. Co-founder of Spirit Fire, a national “Christ-centered restorative-justice group” that helps Catholic churches reach out to survivors, Pitt Green recounted her personal story of being abused by a priest as a minor on a Sept. 30 episode of the podcast ‘Crisis: Clergy Abuse in the Catholic Church.’” By Danae King, The Columbus Dispatch
Appeals Court Judge: Catholic priest Geoff Drew’s $5 million bond is ‘staggering’ but within lower courts’ ‘discretion’
“Geoff Drew, the Cincinnati Catholic priest charged with raping an altar boy(link is external) 30 years ago, has no income, sold his condo and car, and will live with his 81-year-old mother if released on bond, according to a court document filed with the Ohio Court of Appeals on September 18 by Drew’s defense attorney, Brandon Moermond. Drew has been held in the Hamilton County Justice Center since his August 2019 arrest.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News
Screwed twice over: victims of abusive NJ Catholic clerics
“Catholic Diocese of Camden in New Jersey, headed by Bishop Dennis J Sullivan, above, was filing for bankruptcy, people immediately began asking where this will leave victims of clerical abuse who were in line for compensation. Well, it looks as if their claims could either go unresolved, or fall well below expectations(link is external).” By Barry Duke, Patheos.com
Ex-altar boy who says R.I. priest sexually abused him on trip to NYC sues in New York
“A man who said he was sexually abused as a minor by a now-deceased North Providence priest(link is external) is suing Rhode Island’s Catholic diocese — but doing it in New York, which makes it easier to sue over abuse from decades past than Rhode Island does. Philip Edwardo, now 53, said the Rev. Philip Magaldi of St. Anthony Church took him to a Waldorf Astoria hotel room in New York City and sexually assaulted him in 1983. It was one of at least 100 instances of sexual abuse over five years, he said.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal
R.I. judge hears arguments over whether Catholic Church leaders can be sued as ‘perpetrators’ of sexual abuse
“When Rhode Island lawmakers in 2019 extended the deadline to file lawsuits over childhood sexual abuse, they said victims could sue even if the clock had already run out under the old law — so long as the victims were suing a ‘perpetrator. What is a perpetrator? A state Superior Court judge on Wednesday (Sept. 30) heard more than an hour of arguments on that issue from three victims of clergy abuse who say the leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Providence could be considered ‘perpetrators(link is external)’ under the new law even if they didn’t physically carry out the abuse — and from the diocese, which said they cannot.” By Brian Amaral, Providence Journal, on SouthcoastToday.com
Attorney general’s report on Catholic Diocese to be released soon
“It has been 13 months since the Burlington Catholic Diocese released its report on sexual abuse allegations, naming 40 priests(link is external). We’re still waiting for the Vermont attorney general’s team to tell us what their investigation found. Now, they say that wait is almost over. Attorney General T.J. Donovan tells us we can expect the report by the end of October or early November. Donovan says he met with many of the survivors as recently as last week and plans on seeing them again Friday (Oct. 2).” By Christina Guessferd, WCAX-TV3 News
‘Perverse’ subpoena costs dispute over Ridsdale abuse
“A decision from a Supreme Court judicial registrar in a civil case involving a victim of paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale(link is external) has revealed a push against costs for extensive subpoenas. The plaintiff, whom The Standard has declined to name, alleges he was sexually abused by Ridsdale when he were a teenager. Ridsdale is currently in prison after being convicted for these crimes, as well as dozens of other child sexual offenses.” By Alex Ford, The Courier
Senior Catholic William Wade sentenced for concealing child sex abuse at Marist schools
“The first senior Catholic to plead guilty to concealing child sexual abuse in Australia has escaped jail(link is external) despite a judge acknowledging his ‘reprehensible’ inaction contributed to ‘terrible consequences.’ William Wade admitted to failing to provide information to police during a 2014 investigation into abuse at Marist schools in the 1970s. Wade’s roles at Marist Brothers schools included headmaster in Canberra, at Hamilton, in Newcastle, and Kogarah, in Sydney alongside convicted child sex offenders Darcy O’Sullivan, known as Brother Dominic, and Francis Cable, known as Brother Romuald.” By Jamie McKinnell, ABC News
Victorian child sex abuse survivor wins second chance to sue Catholic Church in ‘landmark’ case
“A victim of historical child sexual abuse has won what is believed to be a landmark case in Victoria against the Catholic Church(link is external), giving him a second shot at suing for compensation. The Supreme Court heard the former altar boy was abused between the ages of 11 and 14 by the late priest Daniel Hourigan in Gippsland from 1977 to 1980. Hourigan died in 1995.” By James Hancock, ABC News
Bangladeshi Catholic priest accused of raping minor girl
“Police in northern Bangladesh have arrested a Catholic priest and produced him before a court on allegations of confining a 14-year-old indigenous girl for three days and raping her(link is external). Father Prodip Gregory, 41, parish priest of St. John Mary Vianney’s Church in Mundumala, covered by Rajshahi Diocese, was arrested on Sept. 29 evening, a police official confirmed.” By UCANews.com
Church seeks to take Mount Cashel abuse ruling to Supreme Court of Canada
“The archdiocese of St. John’s will ask the Supreme Court of Canada to overturn a decision that declared the city’s Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation liable for sexual abuse(link is external) at the Mount Cashel orphanage in the 1950s. The archdiocese says in a release that its lawyers today petitioned for leave to appeal the July decision from the Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal. Geoff Budden, the victims’ lawyer, had said the Appeal Court ruling meant the archdiocese would have to pay about $2 million to four lead plaintiffs in the case.” By The Canadian Press
Chilean abuse survivors fear COVID crisis will stop investigations into accused clergy
“Chilean abuse survivors allege that the government is using the COVID-19 pandemic to delay having to deal with South American country’s clerical abuse scandal(link is external). ‘The emails of the [Chilean ecclesiastical] Survivors Network are on fire seeing the situation of the allegations in the prosecutor’s office,’ said Eneas Espinoza, a survivor from the Marist Brothers who is still waiting for justice. ‘The expectation grows and there’s much concern over the possibility of the pandemic being the truck of dirt that the Catholic Church needs to cover up its crimes.’” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com
Vatican began looking into ex-priest for child molesting, in 2016
“The Vatican began an investigation into a former U.S. priest accused of child abuse and child pornography(link is external) in East Timor began in September 2016 but he was only removed from where he allegedly committed the crimes three years later. Documents seen by Lusa show that the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith was investigating the case involving former Father Richard Daschbach between September 2016 and October 2018, when it decreed his ‘punishment for life’ and expulsion from the priesthood.” By Macau News Agency
German Catholic Church to offer abuse victims compensation
“The victims of sexual abuse in Germany’s Catholic Church can apply for compensation(link is external) payments of up to 50,000 euros from next year, the chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference (DBK) said on Thursday. According to a study from 2018 on abuse in the Catholic Church, at least 3,677 minors were victims of sexual violence by at least 1,670 members of the clergy in Germany between 1946 and 2014. Experts, say, however, the number of unreported cases could be as high as 100,000.” By Reuters on WTVB-TV
Japan Catholic Church sued for damages in alleged sex abuse
“A woman has filed a suit against the Roman Catholic Church in Japan alleging that a priest raped her four decades ago(link is external), as the church’s unfolding worldwide sexual abuse crisis gradually reaches Japan. The civil lawsuit, filed this week in Sendai District Court, seeks 56.1 million yen ($534,000) in damages. It accuses a priest, who has not been charged or penalized, as well as a bishop who counseled the woman in recent years about the alleged abuse.” By Yuri Kageyama, Associated Press
Abuse in care: Man who suffered as a child gives evidence
“A man with an intellectual disability who went into care as a young child and was physically and sexually abused(link is external) has described his childhood as a nightmare. Kerry Johnson, which is a pseudonym, is now 48-years-old. He first spent about one year, 1980, in the Catholic-run St John of God, Marylands School in Christchurch before moving into state-run institutions. On Monday (Sept. 28), he gave evidence to the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry sitting in Auckland.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand