Archive for March, 2021

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

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March 22, 2021


Cardinal Tobin joins Cupich on Vatican’s influential Congregation for Bishops
“On March 4, Pope Francis named Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark, New Jersey, as a member of the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops(link is external), making him the second American now serving on the group tasked with advising the pontiff on which Catholic priests to appoint as bishops across the world. Tobin effectively replaces retired Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl, whose appointment to the congregation ended in November on Wuerl’s 80th birthday. Tobin now joins Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich, whom Francis appointed to the group in 2016.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

The Vatican is pushing forward on synodality; the U.S. Bishops should follow suit
“Pope Francis’ appointment of Xavière Sister Nathalie Becquart and now-bishop-elect Luis Marín de San Martín to the Vatican’s Synod of Bishops is only the latest step in his efforts to push the global church toward a synodal model of leadership(link is external). That is, a model in which bishops and lay people speak freely together about the issues affecting them and where they believe the Spirit is calling them, and, through discussion and voting, reach decisions together.” By Colleen Dulle,

Cologne diocese abuse scandal: Investigators identify suspects
“A German law firm published an independent report Thursday (Mar. 18) following accusations of efforts to cover up sexual violence in Germany’s most powerful Roman Catholic diocese, Cologne. The report identified around 243 abusers of minors — priests or laypeople working for the church — and at least 386 victims between 1946 and 2018, but some of these did not fall under the jurisdiction of the Cologne diocese. Some 55% of cases referred to children under the age of 14 and around half dealt with sexual violence. The rest of the cases had to do with verbal or physical abuse. Almost two-thirds of abuses were carried out by members of the clergy, the rest by laypeople. The report also indicated a clear rise in reported abuse between 2004 and 2018.” By Deutsche Welle

‘It’s not just lip service’: Jesuits announce new commission on the role of women in the order
“On March 8—International Women’s Day—Arturo Sosa, S.J., the superior general of the Jesuits, announced the creation of the Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus(link is external). Father Sosa explained in a statement that the commission is the next step in the Society’s efforts to more fully include and collaborate with women, following previous decrees from General Congregations. A task force assembled by Father Sosa in 2020 also recommended the formation of a commission of this nature. The Commission on the Role and Responsibilities of Women in the Society of Jesus is made up of 10 members: six women, three Jesuits and one lay man.” By Molly Cahill, America: The Jesuit Review


Retired Buffalo bishops must pay for lawyers in defending against AG’s lawsuit
“Two retired bishops from the Buffalo Diocese will have to pay for their own defense against a state Attorney General’s Office lawsuit that accuses them of protecting priests accused of child sex abuse(link is external). “U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Carl L. Bucki rejected the diocese’s request to retain a Buffalo law firm to represent retired Bishop Richard J. Malone and retired Auxiliary Bishop Edward M. Grosz, both of whom are individually named, along with the diocese, in a lawsuit brought by Attorney General Letitia James in November. In a ruling late Tuesday (Mar. 2), Bucki said the diocese has “no obligation” to retain the Lippes Mathias Wexler Friedman law firm on behalf of the two bishops, who retired prior to the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing in 2020.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Washington account of $2m Cardinal Wuerl fund raises transparency questions
“The Archdiocese of Washington on Thursday (Mar. 4) said that more than $2 million allocated for the ‘continuing ministry activities’ of emeritus archbishop Cardinal Donald Wuerl was given by donors to cover Wuerl’s living and travel expenses, and to allow the cardinal to give charitable gifts at his discretion. But while the archdiocese now says the money was given by donors for the express purpose of funding Wuerl’s ‘expenses and ministerial needs,’ its audited financial statements tell a different story, stating the archdiocese designated $2 million of its own ‘net assets without donor restrictions’ for Wuerl’s use(link is external).” By The Pillar, on

Panelists call for reckoning on abuse of Native American children at Catholic boarding schools
“In its attempts to address sex abuse crises, the Catholic Church has issued apologies, conducted investigations and paid reparations, but the Vatican has never publicly apologized for abuse inflicted on Indigenous Americans at Catholic-run boarding schools(link is external) in the United States and Canada in the 19th and 20th centuries, according to presenters at a Feb. 25 online panel event, ‘Native American Communities and the Clerical Abuse Crisis,’ hosted by Fordham University’s Taking Responsibility project.” By Lucy Grindon, National Catholic Reporter


Pressure eases on Cardinal Woelki
“German bishops have backtracked after sharp criticism of the turmoil in the archdiocese of Cologne in recent weeks caused by Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki’s decision not to publish the abuse report he had commissioned(link is external). At their plenary in the last week of February, they publicly emphasised that they were all responsible for the situation of the German Church. ‘A number of things in the Cologne archdiocese certainly need clearing up, but it would be all too hasty a conclusion to put the focus solely on the Archbishop of Cologne,’ conference president, Bishop Georg Bätzing of Limburg, underlined in his final report after the online plenary.” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet


German bishop orders new look at US claims against Schonstatt founder
“Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier has ordered a reexamination of abuse allegations against Fr. Joseph Kentenich(link is external), the founder of the international Schonstatt movement, from his time in exile in the U.S. The German Catholic news agency KNA reported Ackermann referred to allegations made by an American man who accused Kentenich of sexually abusing him between 1958 and 1962. The bishop told the diocesan newspaper Paulinus that the accusations had been examined at the time, but that such suspected cases were treated differently today.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of church
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Thursday (Mar. 4) that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a ‘scandalous image’ amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy(link is external), but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse.” By Associated Press


Dear Pope Francis: Thank you for 8 years of challenging and healing the church. But women still deserve more.
“Dear Pope Francis, I remember that last year you personally recommended us to be brave like Mary Magdalene even when addressing the Pope. That is why I allow myself to tell you, with all respect, trust and affection, that as a woman I feel that something is owed to us(link is external). You fight against machismo and clericalism, but I think that not enough progress has been made in taking advantage of the wealth of women who make up a large part of the People of God.” By María Lía Zervino, America: The Jesuit Review

Ambassador: Progress for women leaders at Vatican
“International Women’s Day was celebrated yesterday (Mar. 8) with the global theme ‘Women in leadership: achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world.’ In terms of the Church, Pope Francis is making small but significant steps towards greater inclusion of women in decision making and leadership(link is external). He has amended Canon Law so that women may be officially recognized as exercising the ministries of Lector and Acolyte. And he has appointed a woman as Under-Secretary to the Synod of Bishops – with the right to vote. Chiara Porro, the Australian Ambassador to the Holy See has told Vatican News that Pope Francis is an active promotor of gender equality:” By

Mary Grace Gallagher: Man shares why Maryland should end statute of limitations on child abuse claims
“It is a paradox of ‘social movements’ that they rely on lone voices, sharing stories of impact and pain. Whether chanting ‘Me Too’ or ‘Black Lives Matter,’ it is easy to stand in a crowd and demand change and much harder to stand alone, as one Bowie resident did last month, when he shared with strangers the most horrifying and vulnerable experience of his(link is external) life in a recorded Zoom session for the Maryland General Assembly. The legislators tuning into the hearing had been given a 200-page stack of testimony from survivors of childhood sexual abuse, all of it urging them to strengthen a law called the Hidden Predator Act that had passed with great fanfare in 2017.” Commentary by Mary Grace Gallagher, Capital Gazette

Catholic women invited to national consultation
“Catholic women are being invited to participate in a national consultation with two bishops later this month and to mark their diaries for a national gathering in September. The national consultation, which will take place on 27 March via Zoom, invites women to articulate and celebrate their contribution to and vision for the mission of the Catholic Church in Australia(link is external). Bishop Michael Morrissey, the Bishop Delegate for Women, said he is looking forward to hearing from Catholic women from across the country.” By Catholic Outlook


Ex-Vatican altar boy testifies in seminary sex abuse trial
“A former Vatican altar boy has testified that an older seminarian would come into his bed at night to perform a sexual act on him(link is external) in the Vatican’s youth seminary, saying his initial shock gave way to resignation because he feared being sent home. Accuser L.G. testified for the first time Wednesday (Mar. 17) in the Vatican’s criminal courtroom, in the first-ever case to go to trial alleging sexual abuse within the Vatican walls — among the altar boys who serve at papal Masses in St. Peter’s Basilica. The Rev. Gabriele Martinelli is accused of abusing his authority as a more senior seminarian to force L.G. into ‘carnal acts’ of sodomy and masturbation, using violence and threats, from 2007-2012.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

The Vatican restricts Traditional Latin Mass and suppresses private Masses at St. Peter’s Basilica
“The Vatican’s Secretariat of State has issued an instruction regarding the celebration of Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, suppressing Masses said by a priest by himself, and restricting the celebration of the extraordinary form of Mass in the Latin rite to one altar(link is external) in the crypt of the basilica. The instruction comes from the First Section of the Secretariat of State, which deals with the general affairs of the church and is headed by Venezuelan-born Archbishop Peña Parra. He is the third-highest ranking official in the Roman Curia and is known as the “substitute” (or chief of staff).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Curial speculation follows papal meetings with bishops
“Sources have told CNA that Pope Francis may choose two US-born prelates as prefects of congregations in the Roman Curia.(link is external) The two are Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago, and Bishop Robert Prevost of Chiclayo. Pope Francis had a private audience with Cardinal Cupich Jan. 30, while he met Bishop Prevost March 1. The two audiences may be part of a series of meetings Pope Francis has in view of a general reshuffle of the top Curia officials. After the retirement of Robert Cardinal Sarah as prefect of the Congregation for the Divine Worship and the Discipline of Sacraments, there are five congregations whose prefects have already reached and surpassed the retirement age of 75.” By Andrea Gagliarducci, Catholic News Agency


Celebrity priest creates financial storm at Long Island parish
“The gist of a meeting on a late February weeknight at St. Joseph Parish in Babylon, New York, is probably familiar to many Catholic churches across the country, as Fr. Jason Grisafi, the pastor, discussed how St. Joseph could meet its expenses in light of steadily declining contributions, a drop exacerbated during the last year by COVID-19. The meeting, however, was remarkable, given St. Joseph’s recent history(link is external). For one, it was livestreamed and a video of it was posted on the parish’s website, which also contained St. Joseph’s latest financial report. That transparency stands in stark contrast to the alleged opacity that marked the tenure of the previous pastor, Fr. Charles Mangano, who has moved on to a new assignment but has left behind unanswered questions about his financial stewardship at St. Joseph.” By Mark Nacinovich, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis signs off on Vatican budget with a multimillion-dollar deficit
“The Holy See’s budget for 2021 is significantly different from those of previous years both because of the financial difficulties related to the Covid-19 pandemic and the new methodology involved in its preparation—a ‘zero-based budget’—that sought to ensure maximum accountability. It envisages a deficit of $59 million (U.S. dollars), but the deficit would have been $95 million if the Peter’s Pence donations had not been included as income(link is external).” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review


Poland’s Catholic bishops work with religious orders to strengthen child protection system
“Poland’s Catholic bishops strengthened their child protection system(link is external) on Thursday (Mar. 11) with an agreement with the country’s male religious orders. During the bishops’ plenary meeting in Warsaw on March 11, Archbishop Stanisław Gądecki and Fr. Janusz Sok, C.Ss.R., signed a declaration committing men’s religious orders to cooperation with the St. Joseph Foundation, which the bishops established in 2019 to support abuse survivors.” By Catholic News Service


German Catholics and Protestants Pursue Intercommunion Despite Vatican Objections
Catholics and Protestants in Germany announced on Tuesday (Mar. 16) that they would press ahead with intercommunion at an event in May despite Vatican objections(link is external). In a March 16 press release, organizers of the third Ecumenical Church Congress (ÖKT) in Frankfurt said that they planned to invite Christians to attend celebrations ‘in many churches’ in the city and across Germany on May 15. According to CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner, they said: ‘Christians of all denominations have the opportunity on this evening to come and enter, to get to know different traditions and — following their own conscience — to celebrate the living memory of Jesus Christ.’” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register


Honor the ‘mothers’ of early Christianity during Women’s History Month
“Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate the ‘mothers’ of our Christian church. Until recently, few realized that early female believers shaped our church’s future no less than their better-known brothers (aka the ‘fathers of the church’(link is external)). On Feb. 14, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI made the rather remarkable statement that ‘without the generous contribution of many women, the history of Christianity would have developed very differently,’ and that the female presence was not ‘in any way secondary.’ Some early church mothers are relatively well-known while others are all but forgotten. Early writings and funerary inscriptions testify that women served as prophets, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, deacons, presbyters, enrolled widows, and heads of house churches and monasteries.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter

How Big Money Is Dividing American Catholicism
“A schism in the faith between liberals and conservatives is being exacerbated by a group of plutocrats. The hardening schism in American Catholicism is shaping up to be a test of the influence of liberal Catholicism and the liberal left more broadly(link is external). It pits a loosely organized cultural and theological movement against a well-oiled and well-funded political movement on the right—the latter a testament to conservative Catholicism’s commitment to a politics of money and power.” By Katherine Stewart, The New Republic


Catholic group opposes Colorado bill that would give child sex abuse survivors the ability to sue their abuser at any time
“For decades, survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their advocates have urged states to let them hold abusers accountable in civil court, no matter how long it’s been since the abuse. A bipartisan bill in the Colorado Legislature to do just that so far appears to have widespread approval, but it’s not without opposition from the Colorado Catholic Conference — a church embroiled in a sex abuse scandal in Colorado, the U.S. and around the world(link is external). There is no expiration date in Colorado to bring criminal charges against a person accused of child sex abuse, but the statute of limitations to sue an individual is only six years after a victim turns 18. Last year’s effort to change the latter failed.” By Saja Hini, The Denver Post

Lawmakers want to use emergency powers to pass sexual abuse reform. Can they find the votes to pull it off?
“Six weeks after the Wolf administration revealed that a clerical error had derailed a years-long effort to help survivors of child sex abuse, Pennsylvania state lawmakers are invoking a seldom-used legislative power to salvage it. If the plan that lawmakers put in motion on Monday (Mar. 15) succeeds, Pennsylvania voters will be asked during the May 18 primary election to ratify an emergency amendment to the state constitution allowing child sex abuse victims to sue perpetrators in decades-old cases(link is external). If it fails, voters will have to wait at least two years before they can weigh in.” By Stephen Caruso and Elizabeth Hardison, Pennsylvania Capital-Star


Cologne Archdiocese awaits potentially explosive report on abuse
“A potentially explosive report about sexual abuse in Germany’s Cologne Archdiocese is set to be released March 18(link is external). The fate of the city’s archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, could be profoundly affected. He has offered to resign if he is implicated in a cover-up. The upper echelon of the archdiocese will be targeted in the currently secret report, according to Joachim Frank, chief correspondent of the Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger, the city’s largest newspaper.” By Donald Snyder, National Catholic Reporter

This trauma counselor helps heal the wounds of abuse
“It was the early 2000s. The stories of sexual abuse by the Catholic clergy were making headlines everywhere(link is external) and over and over again. Horrifying stories of the abuse perpetrated on children by adults they had been taught to trust. It had happened in parishes across the country, and even those who hadn’t personally experienced that sort of trauma were triggered by the news stories. Sharon Froom, a licensed mental health professional, was witnessing a great deal of emotional turmoil.” By Ann Christenson, U.S. Catholic

Sipe documentary prompts memories of early sex abuse activist
“I watched the documentary, ‘Sipe: Sex, Lies, and the Priesthood,’ with a mix of very powerful emotions: profound admiration and gratitude for all that A.W. Richard Sipe had done and all that he continues to do, and very painful sadness. Richard and I go back to the earliest years of the clergy abuse phenomenon(link is external) … The documentary accurately showed Richard as a loving and gentle person who attracted people to him, especially people who were troubled, precisely because the empathy he shared was real, and because it was real it transcended the barriers of fear so many have when they seek help.” By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter


Lapeer teen sues Catholic church and school, claiming a priest raped him 10 years ago
“A former student of Bishop Kelley Catholic School in Lapeer has filed a federal lawsuit, claiming a priest raped him in a teacher’s lounge(link is external) 10 years ago. The student, who was 8 years old at the time, said he attended a one-on-one counseling session in October 2010 with the priest in a teachers lounge. The student claims the priest raped him during the spiritual formation session. The student, who is now 18 years old, says he did not immediately report the assault because the priest allegedly told him that he had “power with the devil” and would have the student’s mother killed if he talked about the incident.” By ABC-TV12 News

3rd man accuses a Chicago activist pries of sexual abuse
“A third man has come forward with sexual abuse allegations against a Chicago priest who has gained widespread acclaim for his activism(link is external), saying he felt he owes it to two brothers who have faced criticism for accusing the priest of abusing them decades ago when they were teens. The 59-year-old man alleges in an affidavit shared late  Mar. 2) with church officials that the Rev. Michael Pfleger once grabbed his crotch over his clothes in the priest’s bedroom area at St. Sabina Church in the summer of 1979 as the then 18-year-old accuser pretended to sleep.” By Associated Press


Archdiocese estimates 400 sexual abuse claims filed by March 1 deadline
“Roughly 400 people, who allege that they were sexually preyed upon by local priests and deacons(link is external), went to bankruptcy court and sought compensation from the Archdiocese of New Orleans before last week’s deadline for victims of clerical abuse to file such claims, church officials said Thursday. The announcement provides some clarity about the number and potential value of remaining clerical abuse cases that the archdiocese will have to settle or litigate before it can reorganize its finances, a process that started when the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last May.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Metairie deacon arrested on child molestation charges
“An ordained Catholic deacon from Metairie was arrested Monday (Mar. 8) and charged with sexually molesting a 10-11-year-old boy(link is external) two decades ago, Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Office confirmed. Virgil Maxey ‘V.M.’ Wheeler III, 62, was booked into Jefferson Parish jail Monday on one count each of sexual battery and indecent behavior with a juvenile, Capt. Jason Rivarde said. Rivarde told The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate that Wheeler is suspected of performing oral sex on the boy in question and showering with him.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News


Deceased priest added to archdiocese’s list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse of minors
“The Archdiocese of St. Louis has added the name of a deceased priest to its list of clergy who have had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor(link is external). Father Vincent Duggan was added to the list of clergy with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. Because Father Duggan was accused after his death, his name will be added to that section of the list. The updated list of clergy with substantiated claims of abuse is available online at Archbishop Mitchell Rozanski sent a letter to parishes in the archdiocese where Father Duggan had served in ministry, and an announcement will be made in those parish bulletins.” By Archdiocese of St. Louis


Ex-Las Cruces pastor accused of molesting teenage girl in 1970s
“A civil complaint filed in Albuquerque alleges a former Las Cruces Catholic priest sexually abused a teenage girl(link is external) in the 1970s. The Rev. Jesus Goni was a pastor at St. Genevieve’s Catholic Church at the time of the alleged incident. The plaintiff, who is identified as Jane Doe 43 in the lawsuit, accuses Goni of ordering her into his office in approximately May 1970 and inappropriately touching her. She was about 14 years old at the time.” By Leah Romero, Las Cruces Sun-News, in Albuquerque Journal


Deadline for filing sex abuse claims against Syracuse Catholic Diocese is approaching
“Anyone who wants to file a claim seeking damages for clergy sex abuse against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse must do so by midnight on April 15(link is external). The diocese issued a reminder of that deadline, known as the “bar date,” in a news release Sunday. The deadline was initially set in November 2020 by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Margaret Cangilos- Ruiz.” By Don Cazentre,


Advocates push for a clergy abuse investigation in memory of Notre Dame graduate who died one year ago
“Supporters of a man who accused priests at St. Norbert Abbey of sexually abusing him(link is external) gathered outside a Green Bay Catholic high school Sunday (Mar. 7) to call on state officials to pull back the curtain on clergy abuse in Wisconsin. The rally near Notre Dame Academy came two days before the family and friends of Nate Lindstrom will mark one year since he died by suicide on March 9, 2020. Lindstrom, a Notre Dame alumnus, said he endured abuse by three Norbertine priests in the 1980s while he worked for clergymen who often took him to the abbey swimming pool.” By Haley BeMiller, Green Bay Press-Gazette


Argentine court clears former priest in sexual abuse case
“A court on Tuesday (Mar. 9) cleared a retired priest of sexual abuse charges on grounds the statute of limitations on the alleged crimes had expired(link is external). Former priest Carlos Eduardo José, 62, had spent more than a year in custody during the legal process and the ruling by a three-judge panel in the city of San Martin means he can go free. Attorneys for his accuser, Mailin Gobbo, said they would appeal.” By Almudena Calatrava, Associated Press


Catholic priest denies historical abuse
“A former Catholic priest has denied sexually abusing a teenage schoolboy(link is external) almost 50 years ago while stationed at a remote northwest Queensland parish. Neville Joseph Creen, 80, pleaded not guilty to four historical counts of indecent and sexual abuse of the teenager in Mt Isa, where he served as a priest in the 1970s. The alleged victim, who cannot be identified, had just lost his father in a mining accident when he first met Father Creen, crown prosecutor Katrina Overell said in her opening in Brisbane District Court.” By Robyn Wuth, Guardian News

‘I was walking into an ambush’: Former Wallaby Tony Daly speaks out about childhood sexual abuse
“‘I can acknowledge it and I accept the ramification. But I won’t accept that I was a 10, 11-year-old boy and I was walking into an ambush. It shouldn’t have happened.’ There are small moments around which our lives turn. A chance encounter, a diagnosis, a shared connection. The defining moment in Tony Daly’s life happened when he was just 11. The man who he claims sexually abused him was a Catholic brother at his new boarding school(link is external).” By David Mark, ABC News


Saskatoon Catholic officials promise to name sexually abusive priests in spring report
“Roman Catholic Church officials in Saskatoon are promising to publish a report this spring naming all abusive priests and staff going back to 1933(link is external). Saskatoon would be just the second jurisdiction in Canada to release names of abusive priests. A partial list was published by the Vancouver diocese in 2019. In the U.S., the vast majority of churches chose—or were forced by the courts—to make their lists public more than a decade ago. The Saskatoon report will list the priests involved in public court cases, but also the ones contained in the church’s internal records, said Brenda Fitzgerald, a member of the historical review committee for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon.” By Jason Warick, CBC News

Class action against archdiocese for alleged negligence in abuse by priests ‘proceeding’
“A class action by dozens of Nova Scotians who say they were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests(link is external) dating back to 1960 ‘is proceeding,’ says the lawyer representing the plaintiffs. The class action was filed on behalf of Douglas Champagne and other sexual abuse survivors. Champagne, according to the court filing, suffered lasting and permanent effects from sexual abuse at the hands of Father George Epoch while Epoch worked as a priest at the Canadian Martyrs Church in Halifax.” By Francis Campbell, The Chronicle Herald


Costa Rican bishops respond to alleged cover-up of sex abuse by students at Catholic school
“The National Commission for the Protection of Minors and Vulnerable Adults of the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference released a statement in response to the alleged cover up of the sexual abuse of a former student at the Calasanz Catholic school(link is external). According to the local newspaper La Nación, a 21-year-old woman surnamed Cruz Carrillo made the accusation on social media that two of her male classmates sexually abused her in 2016.” By Catholic News Agency


France faces hard-hitting report on clerical sexual abuse
France faces a hard-hitting report on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church(link is external) this autumn after the head of an independent inquiry into such crimes since 1950 said it could reach a total of at least 10,000 cases. The commission, headed by retired judge Jean-Marc Sauvé, has been analysing self-reported cases and combing through diocesan archives for the past two years and expects to issue its report in October.” By Tom Heneghan, The Tablet


Cardinal Marx’s Handling of Abuse Cases Under Scrutiny
“German Cardinal Reinhard Marx has rejected as ‘baseless’ accusations he prevented a full disclosure of information regarding clergy sex-abuse cases(link is external) in his diocese a decade ago — similar to accusations he himself has made against Cardinal Rainer Woelki, the archbishop of Cologne. The charges were made against Cardinal Marx, the archbishop of Munich and Freising, by German criminologist Christian Pfeiffer, whom the German bishops commissioned in 2011 to investigate a major study of abuse in the Church in Germany. That study was published in 2018.” By Edward Pentin, National Catholic Register


Ampleforth College: Catholic school in child abuse scandal fails new inspection
“Ampleforth College, the Catholic school that is banned from taking new pupils after a child sex abuse scandal, has failed another Ofsted inspection(link is external). The school said that the latest findings related to ‘procedural’ issues rather than ‘horrific abuse.’ Ampleforth initially challenged the findings of an inspection in September before dropping its appeal. In November Gavin Williamson, the education secretary, ordered the North Yorkshire school not to take new pupils.” By Nicola Woolcock, The Times


Amid sex abuse trial of ex-priest, Timor-Leste confronts its demons
“Images and short videos of people holding posters containing statements against sexual abuse adorn the timeline of a new Facebook campaign page. The campaign is called ‘Hapára Abuzu Seksuál hasoru Labarik,’ which means ‘Stop sexual abuse against children(link is external)’ in Timor-Leste’s Tetun language. Created on March 3, it aims to strengthen public awareness of sexual abuse amid the trial of ex-priest Richard Daschbach, according to Ariel Mota Alves, one of its administrators.” By Ryan Dagur,


Notorious clerical abuser Oliver O’Grady back on the streets after release from prison
“Former priest and infamous pedophile Oliver O’Grady has been released from prison this week after serving his latest sentence for a sex-offence. Now 75-years-old, O’Grady had been jailed for 22 months last October for possessing ‘child pornography’, his ninth conviction(link is external). He had served time in California for the abuse of two boys where he served as a Catholic priest before being deported back to Ireland in the 1990s.” By Emon Dillon, Sunday World


Clerical sex abuse case to be heard behind closed doors
“The case against two Xagħra priests charged with sexually abusing an altar boy(link is external) will be heard behind closed doors, a Gozitan court ruled on Monday (Mar. 8). Magistrate Bridgette Sultana issued a decree ordering the proceedings to be held behind closed doors ‘in the interest of full justice.’ She also barred the press from further reporting on the alleged perpetrators before the proceedings end. The priests, aged 70, and 84, have both denied sexual abuse charges.” By The Times of Malta

Chihuahua priest sentenced to 34 years for sexual assault of altar girl, 8
“A Chihuahua priest who was convicted in February of aggravated sexual assault against an 8-year-old who served as an altar girl(link is external) at his church was sentenced Tuesday (Mar. 2) to more than 34 years in prison. Aristeo Trinidad Baca, 78, a suspended priest at the Santa María de la Montaña Parish Church in Ciudad Juárez, assaulted the girl between 2015–2018, the court found on February 22. The priest received multiple sentences, totaling 34 years, five months and 10 days, reflecting the fact that he had sexually assaulted the girl on at least three occasions.” By Mexico News Daily


Faith-based Institutions To Front Royal Commission On Redress For Abuse
“Witnesses for faith-based institutions, including Archbishops and a Cardinal, will give evidence before the Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry this month, on their processes for resolving historic and current abuse claims(link is external). Phase 2 of the Faith-based Redress hearing runs from 15 to 29 March. Phase 1 of the hearing was held late last year and focussed on the experience of survivors in seeking redress (such as compensation, counselling, an apology etc) for abuse and/or neglect in the care of faith-based institutions.” By Abuse in Care Royal Commission of Inquiry on

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Cologne Catholic Church Failed in Handling Sex Abuse Claims, Report Finds / The New York Times

“A Roman Catholic archbishop in Germany offered his resignation and two other high-ranking officials were suspended in the wake of a report that found decades of ‘systematic cover-up’ in the church’s handling of accusations of sexual abuse at the hands of clergy members.”

The New York Times

“The 800-page report, examining the years 1975 to 2018 at the Archdiocese of Cologne, was released on Thursday (Mar. 18) after five months of intense investigation. It was critical of the actions of Stefan Hesse, who had worked at the Archdiocese of Cologne and is now the archbishop of Hamburg.

“Archbishop Hesse said he would offer to step down. “To prevent damage to the office, of the archbishop or the Diocese of Hamburg, I am offering Pope Francis my resignation and ask him to immediately relieve me of my duties,” he said in a statement.

“The archbishop said that he had always sought to act responsibly in his handling of abuse allegations and denied any intention to hide wrongdoing during his tenure in Cologne, but said that he would accept the consequences of the findings.”

By Melissa Eddy, The New York Times — Read more …

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Honor the ‘mothers’ of early Christianity during Women’s History Month / National Catholic Reporter

Yet Christian women did not keep silent or remain enclosed. They spoke up about important ecclesial issues, served the marginalized, taught both men and women, and witnessed freely about the Christ with whom they had thrown in their lot. They are great role models for the women and men of today.

National Catholic Reporter

Women’s History Month is a great time to celebrate the ‘mothers’ of our Christian church. Until recently, few realized that early female believers shaped our church’s future no less than their better-known brothers (aka the ‘fathers of the church’).

“On Feb. 14, 2007, Pope Benedict XVI made the rather remarkable statement that ‘without the generous contribution of many women, the history of Christianity would have developed very differently,’ and that the female presence was not ‘in any way secondary.’

“Some early church mothers are relatively well-known while others are all but forgotten. Early writings and funerary inscriptions testify that women served as prophets, evangelists, missionaries, teachers, deacons, presbyters, enrolled widows, and heads of house churches and monasteries.

“Marcella, Paula, Melania the Elder, Melania the Younger and Macrina exercised considerable authority in ancient Christianity. Marcella founded a sort of urban monastery and study group in in Rome that greatly benefited — and benefited from — Jerome’s biblical erudition. When Jerome left for Jerusalem in 385, Rome’s priests began to seek out Marcella for help in understanding the biblical texts.”

By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

March 8, 2021


Survivors of sex abuse by nuns suffer decades of delayed healing
“Anne Gleeson was 12 years old when she says Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet Judith Fisher — her charismatic history teacher at Immacolata School in Richmond Heights, Missouri — began singling her out for special attention. ‘She’d wander around the classroom, and she’d lean on my chair and press her fingers into my back. Or she’d send me a little note or leave a present in my desk,’ Gleeson, now 63, said. The secret, forbidden touches gave Gleeson shivers(link is external). She says the rape began in 1971 when she was 13, although it [took] three decades and some therapy for her to recognize it.” By Dawn Araujo-Hawkins, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

The curse of clericalism: The Catholic Church must act now to address the sins of the past
“In just one week in January, it seemed as if all the grief and shame was unleashed again. Every media outlet was covering one story after another about the Catholic Church and the cumulative effect was dispiriting and demoralizing(link is external). There was the decision by the Supreme Court of Canada, which declined to hear a final appeal from the Archdiocese of St. John’s concerning its liability over the abuse of children at Mount Cashel Orphanage … So when does it end? When will the toxin that is clericalism – the corrosive pattern of entitlement and abuse of power by clergy – be purged?” By Michael W. Higgins, The Globe and Mail

‘Spotlight’ editor on retirement: Clergy abuse coverage has permanently changed church
“When Martin Baron, one of the most consequential newspaper editors in America, announced his upcoming retirement, he cited his work overseeing the Boston Globe’s coverage of clergy sexual abuse and cover-up as a highlight of his journalistic career(link is external). ‘I think the impact has been really quite profound on several levels,’ he told NCR ahead of his retirement. ‘One on investigative journalism, the other on the Catholic Church and then more broadly on institutions that are facing allegations of abuse of various types, but particularly sexual abuse.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Will the Vatican investigate a cardinal implicated in its own abuse trial?
“An unusual sex abuse trial currently underway in the Vatican took a potentially explosive turn Wednesday(link is external) (Feb. 24), and the response may have a great deal to say about how serious the reforms launched by Pope Francis actually are. Three witnesses testified that Italian Cardinal Angelo Comastri, who was relieved of his position as Archpriest of St. Peter’s Basilica last Saturday by Pope Francis, or his aides, had been aware of sexual abuse allegations at a pre-seminary on Vatican grounds and took no action … At the very least it creates the basis for an investigation of the 77-year-old Comastri, which, depending on the outcome, could lead to a charge of criminal negligence.” By John L. Allen, Jr.,

Head of French church child abuse probe says there may be 10,000 victims
“The head of an independent enquiry investigating church child abuse in France said Tuesday (Mar. 2) that there might have been up to 10,000 victims since 1950(link is external). Jean-Marc Sauve, head of a commission set up by the Catholic church, said that a previous estimate in June last year of 3,000 victims ‘is certainly an underestimate.’ ‘It’s possible that the figure is at least 10,000,’ he added at a press conference where he delivered an update on the commission’s work. A hotline set up in June 2019 for victims and witnesses to report abuse received 6,500 calls in the first 17 months of operation.” By


Delayed Legion of Christ extortion trial goes ahead in Italy
“A judge in Milan has ruled that trial can go ahead in a case in which priests and lawyers of the Legion of Christ Catholic religious order are accused of offering to pay the family of a sexual abuse victim to lie to prosecutors(link is external). During a preliminary hearing Tuesday(Feb. 16), which was delayed by nearly a year because of the coronavirus pandemic, Judge Patrizia Nobile confirmed the charges of attempted extortion and obstruction of justice and set a May 13 trial date for the five suspects, said Daniela Cultrera, the lawyer for the victim’s family.” By Nicole Winfield, The Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter


Seeing Pope Francis in the Argentine priest made a cardinal 20 years ago
“I recently gave a close friend a bit of dating advice, ‘When someone reveals who they are to you, believe them.’ Something similar, it turns out, is true of how we should think about cardinals who become popes. I was reminded of this recently when the Vatican released a lovely tribute to Pope Francis on the 20th anniversary of his becoming the Cardinal-Archbishop of Buenos Aires, on February 21, 2001. As with his predecessors, one can clearly see the pope he would become in the Argentine priest many years before his election(link is external).” By Charles Camosy, Religion News Service

Anonymous bishops take potshots at pope
“This week (Feb. 26), we got a big peek behind the hierarchic curtain and an example of anonymity used to assassinate from Fran Maier, the longtime amanuensis and senior advisor to former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput. A gifted writer, Maier is now a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a research associate in Constitutional Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Maier penned a column on First Things, strangely, even creepily, entitled “Somebody Needs to be Dad” that presents the results of confidential interviews he conducted with 28 U.S. bishops in recent months(link is external).” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Pope Francis Accepts Resignation of Conservative African Cardinal
“Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea as head of the Vatican’s liturgy department, removing a conservative who was seen as an opponent of the pontiff’s vision for the church(link is external). In a statement released on Saturday, the Holy See Press Office announced that Sarah had stepped down from his leadership position. The Vatican did not provide any reason for his resignation or name a successor.” By National Public Radio


Cardinal convicted, acquitted of sexual abuse charges to speak at Ave Maria University graduation
“Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was accused, convicted and then acquitted of sexual abuse charges(link is external), will speak at Ave Maria University’s commencement where he will also receive an honorary degree from the school. Pell will be one of the highest-ranking Catholic Church officials to have addressed the university’s graduates, according to the school. Pell, who once served as the Vatican’s Secretariat for the Economy, spent more than a year in prison following his conviction in 2018. The High Court of Australia overturned his conviction in April 2020.” By Rachel Fradette, Naples Daily News


Top German bishop laments ‘scandalous’ image of the church
“The head of the German Bishops’ Conference said Feb. 25 that the country’s Roman Catholic church is suffering from a ‘scandalous image’(link is external) amid mounting anger over the Cologne archbishop’s handling of a report on past sexual abuse by clergy, but he defended its overall record in addressing the issue. The Cologne archbishop, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, faces discontent after keeping under wraps for months a study he commissioned on how local church officials reacted when priests were accused of sexual abuse. Woelki has cited legal concerns about publishing the study conducted by a law firm. He has commissioned a new report, which is supposed to be published March 18.” By Associated Press in National Catholic Reporter


Psychologist rallies efforts to better screening of would-be priests
“For the past eight years, Chatham University psychology professor Anthony Isacco has been part of a growing cohort of mental-health professionals nationwide who have been conducting psychological screenings of men interested in becoming Catholic priests(link is external). So when a Pennsylvania grand jury issued a devastating report in 2018 on the history of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh’s and five other Catholic dioceses, he saw a need to respond.” By Peter Smith, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


What the first woman to run BC High thinks is key to creating and educating good men
“In 2017, Grace Cotter Regan became the first woman president of Boston College High School, a Jesuit, all-boys college preparatory school in Boston, Mass. Ms. Regan is not only the first woman to serve in the role in the school’s more than 150-year history, she is also just the second lay person(link is external). Ms. Regan earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Boston College, then served as a post-collegiate volunteer with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps in Belize. She has worked in advancement and communications at high schools, universities, the Boston Public Library Foundation and the former New England Province of the Society of Jesus. This interview has been edited for clarity and length …” By Molly Cahill, America: The Jesuit Review

German Catholics appoint first female secretary
“Germany’s Catholic bishops elected a woman as their general secretary for the first time(link is external) on Tuesday (Feb. 23), in a decision hailed as a “strong sign” of modernisation in the crisis-hit Church. Theologian Beate Gilles, 50, will succeed Hans Langendoerfer on July 1 as a high-ranking official charged with implementing decisions taken by the bishops. ‘This is a strong sign that the bishops are acting on their agreement to promote women into leadership positions,’ said Georg Baetzing, president of the bishops’ conference.” By Agence France Presse on

A day in the life of a lay Catholic woman who runs a parish
“The day begins with a beautiful sunrise: pinks, purples and blues that help dispel the heaviness of our continued slogging through a Covid-19 world. As we begin to assemble for Mass, everyone comments on what they had seen. Father F says he had reoriented his chair for morning prayer so he could watch the day unfolding. God will not be outdone in generosity. I serve this community, the Church of St. Vincent de Paul, as a parish life director(link is external), a position also known as parish life coordinator, which is a lay leader of a parish under the norms of Canon 517.2: ‘The diocesan bishop [may decide] that participation in the exercise of the pastoral care of a parish [may be] entrusted to a deacon, to another person who is not a priest or to a community of persons.’” By Elizabeth Simcoe, America: The Jesuit Review


Lay member sees promise following first meeting of DWC’s Diocesan Pastoral Council
“Gina Boggess, a parishioner at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Princeton says her deep faith and respect for Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Mark Brennan drew her to the Diocesan Pastoral Council of lay members(link is external). Boggess is a member of Beckley Vicariate on the council which met for the first time Feb. 19 and 20 at the Saint John XXIII Pastoral Center in Charleston. The council was reestablished by Brennan earlier in the month with hopes of increasing laity and communication in the diocese following the fallout from the scandals of former Bishop Michael Bransfield.” By Jake Flatley, Metro News


The Remains of Vatican II
“Pope Francis has said some interesting things about Vatican II in the last several weeks. On January 11, in a letter to the cardinal prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith accompanying his motu proprio allowing women to become lectors and acolytes, the pope described his decision in terms of the ‘horizon of renewal traced by the Second Vatican Council’ and ‘in line with the Second Vatican Council(link is external).’ Then came these remarks in his January 29 speech to the national catechetical office of the Italian bishops’ conference …” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

Vatican sex abuse trial exposes ‘unhealthy’ environment within youth seminary
“Witnesses at a Vatican criminal trial on Wednesday (Feb. 24) described ‘an unhealthy environment’ at St. Pius X preparatory seminary for Vatican altar boys(link is external), where a priest is accused of sexually abusing a student. The trial is the first to address alleged sexual abuse within the Vatican walls. St. Pius X, whose students are ages 12-18, is run by the Diocese of Como but is located in the Catholic nation-state, a stone’s throw away from Pope Francis’ residence.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service


Vatican expects multi-million dollar budget deficit for 2021
“In the wake of the economic fallout due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said it expects a multimillion-dollar deficit in its budget for 2021(link is external). In a statement released Feb. 19, the Vatican said Pope Francis signed off on the Holy See’s 2021 budget, which was proposed by the secretariat and approved by the Council for the Economy, the Vatican board charged with overseeing the financial operations of all offices and entities.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, in America: the Jesuit Review


Donors’ group asks funders to sign pledge supporting child protection policies
“An umbrella group for Catholic philanthropy, calling it an effort to ‘change cultural norms’ by increasing donor engagement, has developed a pledge for funders to use to connect their giving to guarantees there will be procedures to protect children and vulnerable adults from sexual abuse(link is external). Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, or FADICA, which was founded in 1976, calls it the ‘Funder Safeguarding Pledge’ and said it is the key component of a multiyear initiative, ‘Commitment to Child and Vulnerable Adult Protection.’” By Kurt Jensen,


Jefferson City bishop taps into parishes to develop diocesan plan
“Bishop W. Shawn McKnight, of the Catholic Diocese of Jefferson City, described development of a pastoral plan for the diocese as having grown from the bottom up(link is external). It focuses on the stewardship of parishes — the wise use of the gifts each person brings to a parish. Oftentimes, parishes spend their time reflecting on what the bishop’s vision is, then they try to figure out what they need to do in their own parish, McKnight said. What’s different for the new diocesan pastoral plan, he said, is the diocese went to parishes and shared what the pope has asked Catholics to consider about what it means to be a church.” By Joe Gamm, Jefferson City News Tribune

Catholics in Quebec are leaving the church in droves. Can reinventing parish life save it?
“In a pastoral message released in December, Cardinal Gerald Lacroix of the Archdiocese of Quebec announced a dramatic transformation in how the Catholic Church in the province should understand itself(link is external). Faced with declining resources and a faithful but increasingly small cohort of weekly Mass attendees—between 2 and 11 percent of the province, according to The Economist in 2016—Cardinal Lacroix called on the church in Quebec not to struggle to hold on to what it has left but to see itself as a mission church moving outward. ‘We must reorient our pastoral teams toward a more intensely missionary activity, turned toward the people and groups that we join too little,’ the cardinal said.” By Dean Dettloff, America: The Jesuit Review


Investigation of Rev. Pfleger demands fairness and thoroughness, not a timetable
“Michael Pfleger is one of the most remarkable Catholic priests in Chicago history. He leads one of the most vibrant congregations in the city, having first helped breathe new life into St. Sabina’s Church 40 years ago. He has been a crusader for social justice. We admire Pfleger for this. Always have and always will. At the same time, Pfleger now stands accused of sexual abuse(link is external). Two brothers allege they were victimized by Pfleger when they were minors more than 40 years ago.” By Chicago Sun Times Editorial Board

Our Opinion: Diocese suit shows need for transparency
“It’s a story both illuminating and disturbing: A Chicopee man credibly accuses the late Bishop Christopher J. Weldon of repeated sexual abuse, and alleges that top Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield officials engaged in a cover-up(link is external) to protect the legendary figure’s reputation. That illumination would not have been possible without the tireless Berkshire Eagle news reporting led by investigations editor Larry Parnass. Indeed, the Chicopee man’s lawsuit against the diocese, filed last month in Hampden Superior Court, cites The Eagle’s coverage and Mr. Parnass’ interviews with diocese officials throughout.” By The Berkshire Eagle Editorial Board


After infighting, Colorado lawmakers revive effort to give child sex assault survivors unlimited time to sue abusers
“Colorado lawmakers are once again debating whether to give recent and future victims of child sexual assault unlimited time to sue their abusers(link is external) after a similar effort failed last year because of infighting among proponents of the policy change. Senate Bill 73 cleared its first hurdle on Wednesday, unanimously passing the Senate Health and Human Services Committee. Victims of child sexual assault have just six years after they turn 18 to sue their abusers. The bipartisan legislation would eliminate that restriction. The measure would apply to people abused after Jan. 1, 2022, as well as for those still within the window of the statute of limitations by that date.” By Jess Paul, Colorado Sun

R.I. lawmakers want to change deadline to sue over sexual abuse
“In 2019, Rhode Island gave victims of childhood sexual abuse more time to file lawsuits against their perpetrators, even if the abuse occurred decades ago. But victims’ advocates say the state courts have too narrowly defined what a ‘perpetrator’ is. So now some lawmakers are going back to the drawing board: They want people to be able to sue not just the person who actually committed the abuse, but the institutions that aided and abetted them(link is external), even if the deadline to do so had already run out under the old law.” By Brian Amaral, The Boston Globe

Hidden Predator’ bill for child sex-abuse victims to sue in Georgia advances
“Legislation to extend the statute of limitations for Georgians who were sexually abused as children to sue their abusers years later as adults advanced in the state House of Representatives on Tuesday(link is external) (Feb. 23). Sponsored by Georgia Rep. Heath Clark, R-Warner Robins, the bill would extend the deadline for victims to bring suits against their childhood abusers to age 52, a steep increase from age 23 under current state law. The bill would let victims sue their alleged abusers up to a year after realizing that past abuse has led to present-day trauma.” By Beau Evans, Capitol Beat News Service, Rome News-Tribune

Are you a former New Yorker? Times almost up for childhood ses-abuse survivors to seek justice
“Most former New Yorkers have no idea that our legal rights were dramatically expanded recently. In 2019, New York State enacted landmark legislation that makes it possible to seek justice for decades-old child sex-abuse crimes — the Child Victims Act (CVA). For a short time, this new law suspends the statute of limitations for child sex-abuse claims and provides a unique opportunity for survivors of such abuse, which happened in New York, to seek accountability and finality. But the time to take action is almost up(link is external). … Survivors have until early August 2021 to seek justice against institutions



Fresno-area priest resigns Catholic church amid lawsuit over misconduct investigation
“A Diocese of Fresno priest accused of sexual misconduct but never criminally charged resigned from the church this week. According to a statement from his attorney, Monsignor Craig Harrison handed his resignation for his pastor position at St. Francis Parish in Bakersfield. ‘This decision has come after nearly two years of seeking due process and fair play from the Bishop,’ the statement reads.” By Yesenia Amaro, The Fresno Bee

600 Sex Abuse Lawsuits Expected to Hit Northern CA Dioceses in New Window for Accusers
Hundreds of people accusing Northern California priests and clergy of sexually abusing them as children are coming forward for the first time(link is external), enabled by a recent law allowing new lawsuits to be filed based on older allegations that were previously barred by the statute of limitations. Assembly Bill 218, signed by Governor Newsom back in 2019, opened a three-year window beginning in January 2020 for the new lawsuits to be filed. A similar one-year window was opened by state lawmakers back in 2003.” By Candice Nguyen and Michael Bott, NBC-TV Bay Area


Church officials OK’d moving another priest accused of abuse to Hyde Park friary, records show
“Intended to be a place of contemplation, Hyde Park’s St. John Stone Friary instead became a source of consternation in 2018 when it came to light that the Rev. Richard McGrath was living there. A former president of Providence Catholic High School in New Lenox, McGrath was accused of having child pornography on his cell phone and of sexually abusing a student(link is external) and moved into the building as the allegations began to emerge. The monastery is next to a day care center and around the corner from a Catholic elementary school. Yet no one informed the people running those institutions McGrath was living there.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times

California bishop banned priest, but that didn’t keep him from ministry around Chicago
“While ministering in San Bernardino, California, in 2014, a Chicago-area priest named Joseph Jablonski told a boy something that prompted the bishop’s office there, when it found out, to notify the authorities and bar him from ever again ministering in that diocese. The bishop’s office decided that Jablonski’s words — deemed to be an attempt at ‘grooming’ for a possible sexual encounter — amounted to ‘sexual abuse(link is external),’ according to records and interviews. But that didn’t prevent Jablonski from continuing over the next several years to serve as a priest in other places — including Chicago, Aurora and Joliet.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Times


New clergy sex abuse claims against archdiocese pour in as filing deadline arrives
“As a 5 p.m. deadline to file sex abuse claims against the local Catholic Church loomed, roughly 50 claimants filed forms saying they were preyed upon by members of the clergy. Another 370 claimants filed proof of claim forms saying the Archdiocese of New Orleans owed them millions(link is external) of dollars for other reasons, from outstanding utility company bills to accidental falls on church property. The New York-based firm processing the compensation demands received at least 56 claims in which the claimant’s name and address was intentionally omitted, a likely signal those were filed by anonymous clergy abuse victims.” By David Hammer, WWL-TV4 News

Clergy sex abuse survivors and whistleblower priests join together for healing and worship
Survivors and whistleblower priests are joining together in an unconventional way. They’ve found common ground in their personal experiences speaking out about clergy sexual abuse while continuing their fight for transparency from the church(link is external). On Sunday mornings, you will find a sanctuary for survivors. It’s a private mass that doesn’t take place within church walls. ‘Yes, it is a strange experience after so many years presiding and celebrating Eucharist, not to be able to be with the people in the church and behind the altar,’ said whistleblower priest, Father Ryszard Biernat.” By Kimberly Curth, FOX8 News

New Orleans archdiocese overhauls support for sex abuse survivors
“An ongoing series of discussions between New Orleans Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond and Kevin Bourgeois, the leader of the New Orleans chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, has led to a significant broadening and restructuring of Archdiocese of New Orleans’ response to abuse survivors(link is external). Aymond announced Feb. 11 that Joey Pistorius, director of the archdiocesan Catholic Counseling Service, will become the archdiocese’s new Victims’ Assistance coordinator April 1.” By Paul Finney Jr., Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter


Clergy sex abuse jury trial moved to July 2022 due to scheduling error
“The case alleging complicity in the rape of a child(link is external) against several Catholic entities scheduled to begin in December 2021 was moved to July 2022. The case was originally scheduled to go to jury trial on December 13, 2021, but that trial date was canceled due to a scheduling error, court records show. The case was filed by a John Doe against several parishes, dioceses and the Servants of the Paraclete alleging each were complicit in allowing Fr. David Holley, who moved to Alamogordo in the 1970s, to sexually abuse the complainant.” By Nicole Maxwell, Alamogordo Daily News


Lawsuit accuses Brooklyn bishop of sex abuse in Jersey City decades ago
“One of two men who have accused Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio of sexually abusing them as children(link is external) in Jersey City decades ago has filed a lawsuit based on allegations that he made public last year. The suit, filed last week in New Jersey Superior Court, alleges that DiMarzio sexually abused the man repeatedly when he was a 6-year-old boy at Holy Rosary parish in 1979 and 1980. The accuser, Samier Tadros, who lives in Florida, went public with the allegation in 2020, months after another man publicly alleged that he had been abused by DiMarzio at another Jersey City parish in the 1970s.” By Abbott Koloff,

Child sex abuse lawsuit names Diocese of Ogdensburg as defendant
“The Diocese of Ogdensburg has been named as a defendant in a child sex abuse lawsuit(link is external) filed in state Supreme Court late last week. The plaintiff, identified in court documents as LG 83 DOE, filed suit Feb. 17 in state Supreme Court in St. Lawrence County against the diocese and St. John the Baptist Church in Keeseville, which is a hamlet that straddles the border of Clinton and Essex counties. The plaintiff is a resident of New York state and was born in 1963.” By Sydney Schaefer,


State report on child sex abuse by priests paints sobering picture
“In the late 1960s or early ’70s, the Rev. Armour Roberts drove three boys from Bismarck to New Leipzig to visit another priest, the Rev. John Owens. The men mixed cocktails for the boys, and the boys — high school freshmen — drank until they were drunk. One passed out and later awoke with Owens standing over him, partially naked and inappropriately touching him. Owens had already molested another boy. Roberts was in an upstairs room with the third boy(link is external). … That incident is one of several detailed in a recent report by the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation that resulted from a 1 ½-year investigation of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in North Dakota.” By Travis Svihovec, Bismark Tribune


Sioux City diocese settles sexual abuse lawsuit
“A man who had alleged that he was sexually abused by a priest(link is external) in the late 1960s has settled a lawsuit against the Diocese of Sioux City. Samuel Heinrichs had sued the diocese in October 2019, saying he was sexually and physically abused by the Rev. Dale Koster at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Mount Carmel, Iowa. Terms of the settlement agreement are confidential, said Heinrichs’ attorney, Patrick Hopkins, of West Des Moines.” By Nick Hytrek, Sioux City Journal


Christian Brother Rex Elmer jailed for sexually abusing boys
“Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer will be classified as a serious sexual offender for the rest of his life after being sentenced for ‘abhorrent’ and ‘depraved’ historic abuse of children at a Melbourne orphanage(link is external). Elmer, now 76, fronted the County Court of Victoria on Friday dressed in a white forensic suit and blue gloves where he was jailed for two years, with a non-parole period of nine months, for abuse against two further boys.” By Erin Pearson, The Age


Former Catholic priest and paedophile Patrick Holmes jailed a second time for sexually abusing children
“An elderly ‘defrocked’ Catholic priest has been sentenced to five-and-a-half years’ jail for sexually abusing five children in Perth(link is external) in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. It is not the first time 86-year-old Patrick Holmes has been sent to prison — in 2014 he was jailed for three years for abusing two young girls, also in the 1960s and the 1980s. All the offences happened when he was the parish priest, firstly at the Holy Name Church in Carlisle and later at the Saint Aloysius Church in Shenton Park.” By Joanna Menagh, ABC News Australia


French Catholic clergy may have abused at least 10,000 people since 1950, say investigators
French Catholic clergy could have abused at least 10,000 minors and other vulnerable people since 1950(link is external), according to an independent investigation set up by the Church in France. The Independent Commission on Sexual Abuse in the Church (CIASE) ‘estimates that the number of victims could reach ‘at least ten thousand,’’ it said in a statement released on Monday (Mar.1). The commission said it had so far received 6,500 testimonies, which concern at least 3,000 different victims. Jean-Marc Sauvé, the president of the CIASE, said it is not known at this stage what percentage of all victims have testified to the commission.” By Pierre Bairin, CNN


New report on abuse in Cologne will incriminate church officials
“The second expert report commissioned to investigate abuse in the Archdiocese of Cologne also incriminates church officials who are still alive and accuses them of mistakes in dealing with cases of sexualized violence(link is external), according to its author, Björn Gercke. The criminal lawyer who was asked by Cologne Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki to conduct an investigation told the newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger March 2 that the report had already met with opposition from some officials and their lawyers even before its publication, scheduled March 18.” By Catholic News Service in The Pilot


Vatican probes sex allegations against Indian bishop
“The Vatican is to investigate allegations against an Indian bishop two years after some priests and laypeople accused of him fathering two children and embezzling church funds(link is external). A team of church people has been appointed to probe the claims against Bishop K.A. William of Mysore (now Mysuru) Diocese in southern India’s Karnataka state, said a church official who asked not to be named. ‘Right now it is a preliminary investigation to find out if there is any truth in the allegations … because there are several cases where false charges are leveled against leaders to tarnish their image,’ the official told UCA News on Feb. 27.” By


Ex-priest in sex case: Long battle for justice in Timor-Leste
“After a turbulent struggle for justice, the trial against a former priest charged with sexual abuse of children in his shelter finally starts(link is external) on February 22 in Timor-Leste. It is the biggest case in the history of the SVD congregation. … Ana was just 8 years old, when she went to live in Topu Honis Shelter Home. Life was perfect and she never imagined the betrayal and harm that would be inflicted upon her. ” By Tjitske Lingsma, The Rappler


Priest ‘sexually and physically’ abused boys at Belvedere College in 1970s
“A Jesuit priest abused boys at Belvedere College in Dublin’s city centre when he taught there in the 1970s, the congregation has confirmed, two years after being confronted by a former victim about the secrecy surrounding the case. Fr. Joseph Marmion ‘abused boys sexually, emotionally and physically(link is external), while he was on the teaching staff at Belvedere College in the 1970s,’ the Jesuits said in a statement.” By Patsy McGarry and Conor Lally, The Irish Times


Child sexual abuse victims retraumatized in their fight for justice
Thousands of New Zealanders were sexually abused as children in state care and faith-based institutions(link is external), but will never get the justice they need to move forward … He was 12 years old when the abuse started. The principal at his elite Christchurch Catholic school would call the boys to his office to check their lunch boxes. When J arrived, the principal would take him into his office and tell him his parents had sent him to the school ‘to help him become a man.’” By Mariné Lourens,

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