Archive for July, 2021

Synod theologian says laity must make decisions, not just implement them / Cruxnow.com

Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves.

Cruxnow.com

“Looking ahead to a looming Synod of Bishops on the concept of ‘synodality,’ a lay Venezuelan theologian says the time has come for bishops to grasp one key point: Lay people aren’t just called to implement decisions in the Church made by others, but to make those decisions themselves.

“Layman Rafael Luciani, who divides his year between Venezuela and Boston, where he works at Boston College, is one of three Latin American theologians who were chosen as consultants for the upcoming Synod of Bishops on the matter of Synodality, to which he hopes to contribute “from a non-clerical vision.”

“‘If there is no co-governance, there is no understanding of the Church that involves all the baptized,’ Luciani told Crux. ‘Co-governance does not mean that one person makes the final decision and brings it to the table, where others have to understand why I made a decision. It means that a discernment has to be done together, and decisions have to be made together, not explained from the top down.'”

By Ines San Martin, Cruxnow.com — Read more …

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Three years after the 2018 ‘summer of shame,’ what do American Catholics think about the sex abuse crisis? / America: The Jesuit Review

“Nearly three years after a searing report issued by a Pennsylvania grand jury detailed the sexual abuse by clergy of thousands of children and the extensive cover-up by church leaders that followed, America asked the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University to survey Catholics nationwide about their understanding of the crisis, its emotional impact and how it has affected their faith.

“CARA asked respondents other questions about their faith, including about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on Mass attendance. It also asked about financial contributions to the church, as well as the controversy over whether Catholic politicians who support legal abortion should be denied Communion. In September America will explore these and some of the other issues reviewed in the survey, including the blessing of same-sex relationships, women’s ordination and more.

“Fifty-seven percent of the Catholics surveyed by CARA said they pay “a great deal” or “quite a bit” of attention to the issue of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy, similar to the 56 percent who said the same in a survey conducted by CARA in 2007. Fifty-one percent of adult Catholics said that they believed Pope Francis has at least “sufficiently” handled the crisis.”

By Mark M. Gray and Thomas P. Gaunt, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Bishops’ meetings won’t heal the U.S. church. We need a Fourth Plenary Council involving all Catholics. / America: The Jesuit Review

The Third Plenary Council of Baltimore concluded in December 1884. Among its results was the standardized catechism known to generations of Catholics as the Baltimore Catechism. This meeting was the last of 13 councils of different kinds that took place in Baltimore between 1829 and 1884. These 13 councils made the United States one of the most conciliar places in the Catholic Church during that time—rooted, in part, in the country’s own democratic experiment.

Given all the challenges facing the Catholic Church in our country, we are far overdue for a moment in which the bishops, clergy, religious and lay faithful of our country can discern together how to be the people of God in our time and place. It is time that we as a church convoke a Fourth Plenary Council of Baltimore. Given the work of practical preparation and spiritual conversion needed for such an event, it should be held in 2029, the 200th anniversary of the First Council of Baltimore in 1829. That will allow us to walk together in dialogue about the pastoral needs of our church.

The most prominent of the many challenges before the church in the coming decades is the issue of clerical sexual abuse of minors and the enabling of that abuse by bishops, religious superiors and other church leaders. We have yet to acknowledge fully and address these sins, both past and present. Nor have we appropriately addressed the ongoing responses to survivors of clerical sexual abuse and other forms of sexual harassment and misconduct.

By Brian P. Flanagan, America: The Jesuit Review — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

July 13, 2021

TOP STORIES

Vatican indicts 10, including a cardinal, in London deal
“A Vatican judge on Saturday (Jul. 3) indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud(link is external) in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture. The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, though lawyers for some defendants questioned how they could prepare for trial so soon given they hadn’t yet formally received the indictment.” By Nicole Winfield Associated Press

The German synodal way explained
“Some Catholics in the United States are deeply concerned about the German church’s ‘synodal way.’ A quick YouTube search returns titles like, ‘What is going on in Germany!?!?!’ ‘English Bishop WARNS Vatican ‘Stop German Bishops, We’re Heading to Schism!’ and ‘Vatican in Crisis Management Mode Over Catholic Bishops in Germany.’ Is any of this true? Not really(link is external). For this week’s special episode of America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast, I spoke with four German Catholics who understand the synodal way well: A bishop involved in the synod’s forum on power, a theologian involved in the forum on women’s roles, one of the synodal way’s spiritual guides, and a critic of the process.” By Colleen Dulle, America: The Jesuit Review

Review board chair urges bishops to focus on healing for abuse survivors
“Although major steps have been taken to help achieve healing and reconciliation with survivors of clergy sexual abuse, much work remains ahead for the U.S. Catholic Church(link is external), the chairwoman of the National Review Board told the spring assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Citing the progress that has occurred since 2002 when the abuse scandal exploded, Suzanne Healy said in a prerecorded address to the bishops that the church’s outreach efforts must continue to evolve as the needs of survivors are better understood. ‘We must focus on the areas of healing and reconciliation, accountability, transparency and ongoing education for all involved in child and youth protection,’ said Healy, who has chaired the NRB since June 2020.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Polish church reports recent clergy abuse of 368 children
“In its latest report on the sexual abuse of minors, Poland’s Catholic Church says 292 clergymen allegedly abused 368 boys and girls from 2018 through 2020. The report, released June 28, comes at a time when the Vatican is investigating reports of abuse and of a lack of reaction by church leaders in Poland(link is external), a predominantly Catholic nation where the clergy enjoy special esteem. The Vatican recently punished a few Polish bishops and archbishops for negligence and barred them from church and lay ceremonies. The Holy See is also investigating reports of negligence by retired Krakow archbishop, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, who before that served as personal secretary to the late pope, St. John Paul II.” By Monika Scislowska, The Associated Press

French priest, former Vatican adviser, to face church trial on abuse claims
“A prominent French priest and psychotherapist who was once an influential Vatican adviser on matters regarding human sexuality is going to face trial in a church court over accusations of inappropriate sexual relationships with male clients(link is external), the Paris Archdiocese has confirmed. The charges against Msgr. Tony Anatrella have not been announced.” By Elisabeth Auvillain, National Catholic Reporter

ACCOUNTABILITY

New law forces priests to report child abuse
“A new Queensland law requires priests to report to police any information about child sexual offences heard during confession(link is external). According to the law, all adults will have a legal duty to report to police sexual offending against children, unless they have a reasonable excuse for not doing so. The law came into force on Monday (Jul.5). It passed through the state’s Parliament with support from both major parties last September, despite the Church defending the seal of confession. In a formal submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge explained that stripping Catholics of the seal of confession made priests ‘less a servant of God than an agent of the state.’” By CathNews.com

Why criminal charges for deaths at residential schools would be unprecedented — and enormously complex
“Cowessess Chief Cadmus Delorme said he is treating the site of 751 unmarked graves at the former Marieval Indian Residential School ‘like a crime scene.’ Federation of Sovereign Indigenous Nations (FSIN) Chief Bobby Cameron said the deaths of children at the school was ‘a crime against humanity.’ And yet, after the second discovery in less than a month of hundreds of previously unknown burials at former residential schools, there is no indication that criminal charges of any kind will be laid in connection to those deaths(link is external).” By Nick Boisvert, CBC News

Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Cruxnow.com

POPE FRANCIS

Pope agrees to meet with Indigenous groups from Canada about schools
“Pope Francis will meet with Indigenous leaders later this year to discuss coming to Canada to apologize for the church’s role in operating schools(link is external) that abused and forcibly assimilated generations of Indigenous children, a step toward resolving the grievances of survivors and Indigenous communities, the head of Canada’s largest Indigenous organization said on Wednesday (Jun. 30).” By Ian Austen and Vjosa Isai, the New York Times

BISHOPS

Sex abuse claims against late Fargo bishop dating to ’60s found credible
“The Diocese of Fargo said July 2 it has added the late Bishop James S. Sullivan, sixth bishop of Fargo, to its list of clergy with credible accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The diocese said it took this action after it was informed by the Diocese of Lansing, Michigan, that an investigation of accusations of sexual misconduct with a minor from decades ago made against the late bishop were deemed credible. Sullivan was ordained as a priest for the Lansing Diocese in 1955.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter

N.J. Catholic diocese sells archbishop’s controversial ‘luxury’ retirement house for $910K
“A sprawling retirement house used by former Newark Archbishop John J. Myers — that drew protests from some parishioners for being too lavish for a Catholic priest(link is external) — has been sold, church officials said. The Hunterdon County residential house, which included two elevators, indoor and outdoor pools and a three-story addition, sold last month for $910,000 to an undisclosed buyer, the Archdiocese of Newark said in a statement.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ.com

US bishops’ latest display of desperation has roots in years of dysfunction
“The recent vote by this country’s Catholic bishops, the equivalent of a corporate tantrum, was cringe-inducing but should not have been a surprise. The move to produce a document designed to render a severe and public judgment of President Joe Biden was engineered by men who, ensconced in a culture capable of stunning depravity and cover-up, have been searching for any means to reestablish their authority(link is external). The vote by three-quarters of the bishops was the latest in a series of tawdry displays of desperation cloaked in the language of piety and gestures of moral superiority. The irony is as subtle as a Wile E. Coyote anvil. Their cause even further off target. The subsequent protestations — that any new document will not be a political statement — is a transparent reaction to public outcry. The damage has been done.” By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter

U.S. bishops respond to Interior Department investigation of Native American boarding schools
“Responding to the announcement of a Department of Interior initiative that will look at the history of Native American boarding schools and seek to identify the possible grave sites of a still-unknown number of Indigenous children(link is external), the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, through its spokesperson Chieko Noguchi, issued a cautious statement on June 28, noting that the conference would ‘look for ways to be of assistance’ to the Interior Department’s investigation: ‘We are deeply saddened by the information coming out of two former residential boarding school sites in Canada,’ Ms. Noguchi said. ‘We cannot even begin to imagine the deep sorrow these discoveries are causing in Native communities across North America.’” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

Bishop’s ‘heartfelt’ apology over Catholic college abuse
“Men who were sexually abused as boys at a training school for Roman Catholic priests have welcomed a bishop’s ‘momentous’ apology(link is external). The group were pupils at St Peter Claver College in Mirfield, West Yorkshire, when they were molested in the 1960s and 70s. At a meeting with the men, the Bishop of Leeds said their abusers were people they should have been able to trust. One victim said the apology marked a changing attitude from the church.” By BBC News

PRIESTS

Vermont Catholic priest numbers plummet to historic lows
“Vermont Catholic Bishop Christopher Coyne stepped onto the altar of St. Joseph Cathedral in Burlington this month to announce what, at first glance, appeared to be good news. ‘We have arrived at a place where things can return to normal,’ he said. Coyne was speaking of the state lifting Covid-19 restrictions, allowing Vermont’s largest religious denomination to reopen its 68 parishes at full pre-pandemic capacity. But he was saying so at an annual clergy ordination that, as in too many past years, was welcoming just one new priest(link is external).” By Kevin O’Connor, VTDigger.com

Grace abounds at Association of US Catholic Priests’ meeting
“When giving a talk, it is necessary to scan the audience every few minutes, to make sure you are not losing them. But every time I scanned this audience, once I assured myself they were still very attentive, different thoughts entered my mind(link is external). How many dying souls had been comforted in their last hours by the men in this room? How many children had received their first Communion from these hands? How many grieving families had been comforted at a funeral presided over by one of these priests? How many sermons had stirred an individual to a moment of personal growth or conversion, or stirred an entire congregation?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

RELIGIOUS WOMEN

No surprise: Nuns are taking the lead in putting ‘Laudato Si’’ into action
“In December 2019, students from the Notre Dame Preparatory School in Baltimore joined members of the Atlantic-Midwest Province of the School Sisters of Notre Dame at a grocery store for a giveaway of reusable bags. The reusable bags were handmade by Sisters Virginia Brien and Clara Beall, aged 94 and 85. Other sisters, many long retired, attached information about plastic pollution and climate change. It was one of the many ways that the School Sisters of Notre Dame exemplify what it means to promote ‘the dignity of life and the care of all creation(link is external),’ as their directional statement ‘Love Gives Everything’ exhorts.” By Kathleen Bonnette, America: The Jesuit Review

CHURCH REFORM

Momentum for Catholic Church reform builds in Australia
“As Australian Catholics prepare for an historic plenary council assembly in October, a leading churchman says there’s ‘unprecedented momentum for deep reform(link is external).’ The Bishop of Parramatta, Vincent Long, a Vietnamese-born former boat refugee and a survivor of clergy sexual abuse, has called for the elimination of clericalism and for more women to be given roles in church governance and decision-making.” By Mark Bowling, The Tablet

CHURCH FINANCES

Catholics must know how Peter’s Pence is spent, Vatican official says
“The head of the Vatican Secretariat for the Economy said he hopes efforts at financial transparency and reform will foster Catholics’ trust ahead of the annual Peter’s Pence collection(link is external). In an interview with Vatican News June 25, Jesuit Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves, prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said Catholics ‘have the right to know how we spend the money given to us.’ ‘Sometimes contradictions arise from a lack of knowledge, which, in turn, comes from a lack of transparency,’ Father Guerrero said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

CLERICALISM

How do you recognize clericalism?
“In November of 2019, the Report on Clerical Sexual Abuse made 31 recommendations for preventing and investigating sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver. In particular, recommendation #25 called for ‘…the immediate establishment of a leadership team comprised of lay, religious and clergy to prayerfully explore the development of an Archdiocese-wide plan’ to combat ‘the inherent evil of clericalism(link is external)’ within both the laity and clergy of the Archdiocese.” By Archdiocese of Vancouver Clericalism Committee on BCCatholic.ca (The BC Catholic)

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Buffalo Diocese considers merging parishes to share resources, priests
“After filing for bankruptcy amid growing clergy sex abuse claims, the Buffalo Diocese is working on a ‘Road to Renewal.’ Catholic Church Deacon, Paul Snyder, said he wants churchgoers to have an input on the renewal(link is external). ‘What I have seen so far is in this Road to Renewal is its telling people in the pews what they need to do,’ Snyder said. ‘I find that very surprising because it was never the people in the pews causing these problems.’ This plan comes as church attendance continues to decline.” By Lilia Wood, WKBW-TV7 News

Buffalo Diocese eyes grouping parishes to share priests, schools as it emerges from scandal
“The numbers tell a stark story about the extent of decline within the Buffalo Diocese over the past decade or so. Average weekend Mass attendance fell by 41% – from 158,300 people in 2011 to 93,134 people in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Enrollment in Catholic elementary and high schools dipped from 16,716 students to 12,643 students during the same time. And 62 fewer priests were working in the diocese in 2019, compared to 2011 … As they try to restore the diocese’s battered reputation and finances, Bishop Michael W. Fisher and other church leaders are also asking Western New York Catholics to re-imagine the traditional parish structure(link is external) that has marked the practice of the faith since their births into it.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Bishops’ conference walks back mixed messaging on Communion and Catholic politicians
“Following a virtual meeting of the U.S. Catholic bishops, at which a majority of the country’s hierarchy voted to advance a divisive document on the Eucharist, the U.S. bishops’ conference is seeking to clear up its own mixed messaging and is insisting the eventual document will no longer target Catholic politicians(link is external). A June 21 document published by the bishops’ conference states ‘there will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians’ and notes that the timing of the document is related to ‘declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful,’ which has been of concern ‘for some time.’ The new messaging from the bishops’ conference, however, has now undergone some revisions from their original proposal.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

VOICES

Catholic Church has misplaced moral priorities
“Talk about lousy timing. The biggest religion story in Iowa last week was a jaw-dropper. Attorney general Tom Miller announced he has concluded a three-year investigation of sexual abuse allegations against priests in the four Roman Catholic dioceses(link is external) in our state. Miller’s staff examined church records, some dating to the 1930s, that involved about 100 priests. His office also received and looked into 50 allegations against 36 priests, many of whom were the subject of earlier complaints.” By Randy Evans, nwestiowa.com

The USCCB’s misguided effort to punish President Biden
“‘As a convert, I never expected much of the bishops,’ Dorothy Day wrote in a 1968 letter. ‘In all history, popes and bishops and abbots seem to have been blind and power-loving and greedy(link is external). I never expected leadership from them.’ Many Catholics, and not only converts, would agree with Day’s jaundiced view of bishops—and June’s meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops reminded us why that’s the case. President Joe Biden’s worthiness to receive Communion dominated coverage of the proceedings, a predictably divisive outcome that underscored the bishops’ political obtuseness and pastoral failings.” By The Commonweal Editorial Board

Editorial: The Catholic Church must come clean – completely – about what it did to native Americans
“Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has helped all Canadians and First Nations communities grapple with the sorrowful realities of their nation’s colonial past, particularly the gruesome legacy of its residential schools for Indigenous children. Those schools, many administered by Catholic religious orders and intended to be engines of assimilation, became centers of despair and brutality(link is external). The recent discovery of hundreds of unmarked graves at two schools, and the likelihood that thousands more will be found at other residential school sites, have added to the anguish. But at least in Canada, a foundation for healing is being laid by the government-sponsored truth and reconciliation commission.” By America: The Jesuit Review Editorial Board

Janet Petersen: Give survivors of sexual abuse a chance to pursue justice, no matter their birthday
“Attorney General Tom Miller recently released the findings of his investigation into child sex abuse in the Catholic Church, which represents just a small fraction of sexual abuse cases in Iowa … Despite Iowa’s new law eliminating the criminal statute of limitations for child sex abuse, these Roman Catholic priests who drugged and raped Iowa children and the dioceses that covered up the crime are immune from criminal prosecution in every case(link is external).” By Janet Petersen, Guest Columnist, The Des Moines Register

Editorial: Don’t put your faith if the bishops’ conference
“At their June meeting, 168 U.S. bishops voted to move forward with a document on the Eucharist, an idea that came out of a working group concerned with President Joe Biden’s political positions on abortion. Although subsequent messaging from the conference has indicated the document will not address denying Communion to politicians, it was clear from the discussion at the meeting that such exclusion motivated many bishops. They proceeded with this divisive project despite repeated warnings(link is external) (including from the Vatican) that it would lead to further politicization and polarization — concerns confirmed within hours of the release of the vote total, when a group of Democratic Catholic politicians responded with a letter of their own, lambasting the ‘weaponization of the Eucharist’ … What a mess.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Board

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

AG’s Office releases report on clergy abuse
“The Iowa Attorney General’s Office has completed a review of clergy abuse in Iowa(link is external). The office examined records involving about 70 Catholic priests and looked into 50 complaints of sexual abuse and misconduct reported to the attorney general. ‘Sexual abuse took place over decades. The complaints, the victims, the duration of the abuse were overwhelming,’ a report by the AG’s Office concluded. ‘Our hearts go out to the victims of these acts. The consequences are severe and lifelong.’ The report concludes that while the Catholic Church in Iowa had a long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials, the Dioceses have enacted many reforms over the last two decades. The Dioceses have become more responsive to victims of clergy abuse and each now reports all accusations to law enforcement authorities.” By Iowa Attorney General’s Office

COLORADO

Colorado survivors of childhood sexual abuse can sue institutions that hid or ignored it
“Individuals who were abused as children in Colorado can sue the institutions that hid abuse or did nothing to stop it(link is external) starting in January. Gov. Jared Polis signed SB21-088 into law Tuesday (Jul.6), giving survivors another avenue to pursue claims against government entities, schools and private institutions that have youth programs like the Boy Scouts or the Catholic Church. The law caps how much victims can get from the lawsuits — up to $1 million from private entities and up to $387,000 from governmental entities.” By Saja Hindi, The Denver Post

IOWA

Former St. Mary’s priest names in attorney general’s abuse report
“A former Storm Lake priest and Fonda man affiliated with the Catholic church have been accused of sexually abusing young boys(link is external) decades ago, according to an Iowa Attorney General’s report that commended the Sioux City Diocese for keeping an active list of ‘credibly accused’ priests and clergy members. The attorney general’s report released last week said Everett Apt of St. Mary’s Parish and an unidentified ‘non-clergy member who was involved in a Catholic organization’ in Fonda were among its list of 31 alleged abusers.” By tom Cullen, The Storm Lake Times

Attorney General: Iowa report finds ‘overwhelming’ sex abuse by Catholic clergy
“Citing ‘overwhelming’ incidents of abuse and ‘extensive’ cover-up that spanned decades, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller issued a report Wednesday (Jun. 23) detailing 50 complaints his office received about allegations of sexual impropriety by Catholic clergy, non-clergy or spiritual leaders(link is external) — including 17 victims who had not previously come forward to report abuse to authorities. The report concluded the Catholic Church in Iowa has had a ‘long, painful history of abuse by priests and a cover-up by officials’ but has taken steps recently to implement reforms and respond to victims.” By Rod Boshart, Special to the Globe Gazette, in Blue Mountain Eagle

LOUISIANA

Diocese of Lafayette puts deacon on leave pending sex abuse investigation
“The Diocese of Lafayette has received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Deacon Shawn Jude Gautreaux(link is external), according to a news release. Following an initial inquiry, the Diocese has placed Gautreaux on administrative leave pending a further determination in the matter. The allegation received, according to the release, relates to a period of time many years before he was ordained a deacon. Further, the Diocese has reported the allegation to law enforcement authorities in St. Martin Parish.” By The Daily Advertiser

MAINE

Maine priest placed on leave following sexual abuse allegation
“A Roman Catholic priest serving several midcoast churches but who has worked throughout Maine is on temporary administrative leave while the diocese investigates a decades-old abuse allegation(link is external), officials said Monday (Jul. 5). According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland, the Rev. Robert Vaillancourt has been accused of sexually abusing an underage girl in the 1980s. He has been placed on administrative leave while the diocese’s Office of Professional Responsibility conducts an internal investigation, consistent with the diocese’s protocol for such allegations.” By Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald

MASSACHUSETTS

Trial date set for Catholic priest charged with rape
“A trial date has been tentatively scheduled for the Catholic priest who was charged with rape in a local case(link is external). Mark Hession is scheduled to go to trial Oct. 5, according to a pretrial hearing Monday (Jul. 12) in Barnstable Superior Court. He faces two charges of rape, one charge of indecent assault and battery on a child under 14, and one charge of intimidating a witness. Hession, a 63-year-old Fairhaven resident, on Jan. 11 pleaded not guilty to the charges.” By Jessica Hill, Cape Cod Times

MICHIGAN

Ex-Catholic priest in Oakland County faces more sex abuse charges
“A former priest in Oakland County charged with sexually assaulting a minor decades ago now faces two more cases(link is external), the Michigan Attorney General’s office announced Monday (Jun. 28). The three cases against Gary Berthiaume stem from allegations in the 1970s involving victims who were between 13 and 15 at the time, investigators said in a statement. Berthiaume, 80, was then a priest at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Wyandotte and later Our Lady of Sorrows in Farmington, according to the release.” By Mark Hicks, The Detroit News

MINNESOTA

Northwest Minnesota priest cleared of child sex abuse; deacon now faces similar allegations
“Just days after a priest in the Crookston Catholic Diocese was cleared of sexually abusing a minor, leadership announced a deacon who oversaw youth camps is under investigation for similar accusations(link is external). Deacon Aaron Kaiser has been placed on administrative leave pending the probe into allegations of child sex abuse, according to a news release issued June 11. He has been removed from ministry.” By April Baumgarten, Brainerd Dispatch

NEW YORK.

Buffalo priest placed on leave following abuse allegations in new lawsuits
“A retired Buffalo priest who is accused of child sex abuse in two recent Child Victims Act lawsuits has been put on administrative leave(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher suspended Monsignor James G. Kelly from active ministry Wednesday (Jun. 30) after an unnamed plaintiff said in court papers that Kelly molested him from 1980 to 1982. The plaintiff was an 8-to 10-year-old student of the Diocesan Educational Center and attended church at St. Nicholas and St. Benedict the Moor at the time of the alleged abuse. The school and both parishes are now defunct.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

OHIO

Cleveland-Area Catholic Priest Intends To Plead Guilty To Child Sex Charges
“A Cleveland-area Roman Catholic priest intends to plead guilty to federal charges involving the sexual exploitation of children and child pornography(link is external), according to his attorney. Attorney Robert Dixon filed a motion Thursday saying Robert McWilliams will plead guilty to charges contained in an indictment without a plea agreement. Dixon declined to comment on Friday (Jul. 2). McWilliams was accused by prosecutors in an indictment filed last July of posing online as a female to persuade boys to send him sexually explicit photos and videos of themselves and threatening to tell their parents if they did not send more images.” By KDKA-TV2 News

PENNSYLVANIA

Father Robert Cedolia, Catholic priest, charged with sexual assault
“A former priest-administrator at several Roman Catholic parishes in Allegheny County has been charged with twice sexually assaulting an 8-year-old boy(link is external) who was preparing for his first Holy Communion, police said. The Rev. Robert J. Cedolia, 70, was charged with aggravated indecent assault, corruption of minors and related offenses for alleged sexual assaults that occurred in the spring of 1998 in the sacristy of Our Lady of Joy in Plum and two weeks later in a restroom at the back of the sanctuary, according to a criminal complaint filed by Allegheny County police detectives.” By Kris B. Mamula, Pittsburg Post-Gazette

SOUTH CAROLINA

Catholic church fires employee, allegation of sexual misconduct involving minor
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Charleston has fired an employee over a 2016 allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor(link is external). The allegation was reported to Charleston Police Department on June 18, reports show. The employee was identified by the Diocese but his position was not noted. The Post and Courier is not naming the accused. ‘(The employee) was terminated after officials with the Diocese of Charleston learned of an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor,’ Maria Aselage, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Charleston, wrote.” By Olivia Diaz, The Post and Courier

CANADA

Disgraced Bishop Hubert O’Connor again accused of sexual assault
“A dead former B.C. Roman Catholic bishop convicted in 1997 of rape and indecent assault against residential school students has again been named in new allegations of sexual assault(link is external). The now-dead Bishop Hubert O’Connor is one of three priests named in the lawsuit. In 1997, O’Connor was convicted of rape and indecent assault of female students at schools. He was later acquitted of indecent assault in a 1999 appeal and a new trial was ordered for the rape charge but the Crown decided not to pursue the case after O’Connor apologized.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine

5 more priests named in latest archdiocese sexual abuse report
“The latest progress report from the committee studying clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Vancouver names five more clergymen(link is external) involved in abuse settlements, lawsuits, or other cases. The previously unpublished names are Father Roland Joncas, Brother Edward Patrick English, Father Frederick Robert Neilsen, Father Duncan George Goguillot, and Father William Crawford Mendenhall.” By Agnieszka Ruck, The B.C. Catholic

B.C. man sues Vancouver archdiocese over abuse claimed at Catholic summer camp
“Vernon Mulvahill says he has lived with an anger at his core since he was seven or eight years old. In the decades since, the Chilliwack truck driver’s rage has expressed itself through violence, heavy drinking and restlessness. Mulvahill says he is tired of feeling ashamed for a wrong that was done to him as a child. He is suing the Roman Catholic bishop of Vancouver and the archdiocese over sexual assault he claims happened at a summer camp(link is external) in the late 70s.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Former priest jailed for repeated indecent assault of a boy in 1970s
“Former priest Tony Walsh has been jailed for two years for repeatedly indecently assaulting a child(link is external) 45 years ago. Walsh (67) was a trainee priest when he sexually abused the child victim on six occasions inside a church in the 1970s. Dublin Circuit Criminal Court heard that Walsh has 39 previous convictions, 34 of which are for previous offences of indecent assault.” By Brion Hoban, The Irish Times

POLAND

Polish Catholic Church Facing Wave of Sex Abuse Allegations
“The Catholic Church in Poland is facing a wave of allegations of sexual abuse, church authorities said on Monday (Jun. 28), as they laid out statistics on the extent of abuse amid an investigation into alleged cover-ups by a senior clergyman. Seen by many as a core element of Poland’s national identity, the Catholic Church is a powerful force in public life. However, it has been rocked by a series of pedophilia scandals that have contributed to the erosion of its authority, especially among younger Poles.” By Reuters in U.S. News & World Report

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Vatican indicts 10, including a cardinal, in London deal / Associated Press

Five former Vatican officials, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu and two officials from the Secretariat of State, were indicted, as well as the Italian businessmen who handled the investment.

Associated Press

“A Vatican judge on Saturday (Jul. 3) indicted 10 people, including a once-powerful cardinal, on charges including embezzlement, abuse of office, extortion and fraud in connection with the Secretariat of State’s 350 million-euro investment in a London real estate venture.

“The president of the Vatican’s criminal tribunal, Giuseppe Pignatone, set July 27 as the trial date, though lawyers for some defendants questioned how they could prepare for trial so soon given they hadn’t yet formally received the indictment.

“The 487-page indictment request was issued following a sprawling, two-year investigation into how the Secretariat of State managed its vast asset portfolio, much of which is funded by donations from the faithful. The scandal over its multimillion-dollar losses has resulted in a sharp reduction in donations and prompted Pope Francis to strip the office of its ability to manage the money.

“Five former Vatican officials, including Cardinal Angelo Becciu and two officials from the Secretariat of State, were indicted, as well as the Italian businessmen who handled the investment.”

By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

June 30, 2021

TOP STORIES

New Vatican laws on clergy abuse not enough, says former papal commissioner
“A respected former member of Pope Francis’ commission on clergy sexual abuse has expressed disappointment in the recent revision of the criminal section of the Catholic Church’s canon law, saying the changes do not go far enough to protect children and vulnerable adults from possible predators(link is external). Marie Collins, an Irish survivor who resigned in frustration from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors in 2017, pointed during a June 15 webinar to the fact that the new provisions do not mandate that a priest found guilty of abuse be removed from any office he may hold, or from the priesthood.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter

A Vatican office rallies the strength of the laity
The Holy See’s Dicasteries recounted from the inside: history, goals and mission – a look at how the offices work that support the Pope’s ministry. The prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, describes the work of his office in this interview.
Five years in existence and three areas of competence as big as the world can be summarized in a single word: laity(link is external). Pope Francis created this new structure of the Holy See in response to his wish to bring together men and women of every background, culture and part of the world. The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life is the privileged place and observatory to discern and promote all that can give prominence to the lay vocation in the Church and the world … The aim is to promote reflection in anthropological, moral, and philosophical areas, as well as action in political, economic, and ethical spheres in order to protect and promote the dignity of human life..” By Alessandro De Carolis

The abuse crisis and the elusive horizon of a repenting church
“The Catholic Church enjoyed a bit of a renewed honeymoon with the global media after the May 21st announcement of the ‘synodal process 2021–2023.’ But the love fest lasted only about a week.(link is external) It was brought to an abrupt and ugly end when law enforcement officials in Canada discovered 215 unmarked graves of indigenous children at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia. International organizations quickly demanded that the Church in Canada and the Holy See admit responsibility for the tragedy … For the Catholic Church in the 21stcentury, the present is unmanageable, the future continues to slip away, and the hope of a fresh start has become elusive.” By Massimo Faggioli, La Croix International, in National Catholic Reporter

In Canada, Another ‘Horrific’ Discovery of Indigenous Children’s Remains
“The remains of 751 people, mainly Indigenous children, were discovered at the site of a former school in the province of Saskatchewan, a Canadian Indigenous group said on Thursday (Jun. 24), jolting a nation grappling with generations of widespread and systematic abuse of Indigenous people. The discovery, the largest one to date, came weeks after the remains of 215 children were found in unmarked graves on the grounds of another former boarding school(link is external) in British Columbia. Both schools were part of a system that took Indigenous children in the country from their families over a period of about 113 years, sometimes by force, and housed them in boarding schools, where they were prohibited from speaking their languages.” By Ian Austen and Dan Bilefsky, The New York Times

ACCOUNTABILITY

Synodality? What’s Synodality?
The USCCB just isn’t into it, and that’s a problem.
“This necessarily means a rebalancing of power in the Church—not only between the clergy and the laity or between men and women, but also (for example) between the power of money and the contributions of the voiceless. Therefore, even though the bishops are in charge, the synodal process requires a mobilization of the entire Church(link is external) … All have the opportunity to play an important role during the next two years. If everything is left to the vertical institution of the Church, this two-year ‘synodal process’ will simply perpetuate an ecclesiastical order that works only for an increasingly small number of people—that is, for clerics and the clericalized laity.” By Massimo Faggioli, Commonweal

UN rights experts urge Vatican to halt child sex abuse
“A group of United Nations human rights experts said Monday (Jun.21) they had urged Pope Francis and the Vatican to take steps to stop child sex abuse in Catholic institutions and prevent it from happening again(link is external). The experts called on ‘the Holy See to take all necessary measures to stop and prevent the recurrence of violence and sexual abuse against children in Catholic institutions, and to ensure those responsible are held to account and reparations are paid to victims.’ The four special rapporteurs, who do not speak for the United Nations but report their findings to it, wrote to the Vatican on April 7.” By Buenos Aires Times

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements(link is external) by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance had been reported.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, on MyJournalCourier.com

POPE FRANCIS

Francis names Oblate priest new secretary of papal clergy abuse commission
“Pope Francis has named Oblate Fr. Andrew Small secretary ‘pro tempore’ of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors(link is external). Small, 53, had served two terms as national director for the Pontifical Mission Societies in the United States, and his successor there was named in April. The Vatican June 22 announced Small’s appointment to the commission, which Pope Francis established in 2014. The body of experts, with input from survivors, is meant to make proposals and spearhead initiatives to improve safeguarding norms and procedures throughout the church. Its work is separate from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith’s investigation and canonical prosecution of clerics accused of abuse.” By Cindy Wooden, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

German says Pope made right call when he refused Cardinal’s resignation over abuse crisis
“A leading German bishop says Pope Francis made the right decision when he refused the resignation of German Cardinal Gerhard Marx(link is external), who had asked the pope to release him from his role as archbishop of Munich in an attempt to assume collective responsibility for the clerical sexual abuse scandals. ‘It creates security for the others: You never know for what mistake a bishop might be obliged to resign,’ said Bishop Franz-Josef Overbeck of Essen.” By Inés San Martín, Cruxnow.com

CARDINALS

Carinal says Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating’
“Cardinal Oswald Gracias says the Church was trying to ‘answer present-day needs’ when it revised the section on canon law dealing with penal matters, but also noted Church law on abuse will need ‘continuous updating(link is external).’ Under the new version of the code promulgated at the beginning of the month, there is new chapter on “Offenses Against Human Life, Dignity, and Liberty,” covering matters of abuse.” By Nirmala Carvalho, Cruxnow.com

German cardinal’s resignation, refused by pope, reinvigorates church reform
“Pope Francis rejected the resignation of German Cardinal Reinhard Marx’s on Thursday (June 10), but the news did little to calm the shockwaves Marx’s move sent through the Vatican and supporters of Germany’s controversial Synodal Path movement(link is external), who view the prelate as their champion. In a letter published June 4, Marx offered his resignation to Francis in light of the sexual abuse scandals shaking the church in Germany and beyond, which Marx said was ‘also caused by our personal failure, by our own guilt.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

BISHOPS

CCCB Statement – Delegation to the Holy See
“The Catholic Bishops in Canada have genuinely heard the sincere invitation to engage wholeheartedly with the past and are deeply committed to take truly meaningful active steps together with Indigenous Peoples in view of a future filled with greater respect and cooperation. The recent discovery of children’s remains at a burial site of a former residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia reminds us of a tragic legacy still felt today(link is external). With the strong encouragement of Pope Francis, the Bishops of Canada have pledged true and deep commitment to renewing and strengthening relationships with Indigenous Peoples across the land.” By the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Poland’s embattled bishops to meet with Pope Francis
“When Bishop Tadeusz Rakoczy, a retired Polish prelate, was sanctioned by the Vatican in late May for mishandling sexual abuse by his clergy, it was just the latest blow to the once-unsullied image of the country’s Catholic Church. In recent days, there have been reports that the Polish bishops have been specially summoned to Rome in the fall by Pope Francis because of a spate of sexual abuse cases(link is external) that have rocked the country’s church. Although officials have denied the accuracy of the reports, they nonetheless signal the deep unease now afflicting religious life in Europe’s most Catholic country.” By Jonathan Luxmoore, National Catholic Reporter

Can the US bishops grasp Pope Francis’ ecclesial vision?
“When Cardinal Reinhard Marx published his remarkable and unexpected letter of resignation as archbishop of Munich and Freising on June 4, religion reporters, theologians and members of the hierarchy jumped on the phone to try and make sense of it. Some writers foolishly rushed into print with analysis … Francis did not accept the cardinal’s resignation. Again he surprised us. Not only that, his response to the German cardinal was so spiritually rich, and so provocative in its understanding of the source of episcopal authority(link is external), it could well serve as the starting point for the discussion the U.S. bishops will have at their spring meeting later this week. The pope’s vision might yet save the bishops’ conference from its worst instincts.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

WOMEN’S VOICES

Irish bishops choose woman to head steering group for synodal pathway
“The Irish Catholic bishops have chosen a laywoman to head preparations for a national synod, due to be held in the next five years(link is external). Nicola Brady has worked in a number of peace-building roles, both nationally and internationally, and currently works on building relations between the Christian traditions in Ireland. Bishops meeting virtually for their summer 2021 plenary meeting announced June 16 that Brady will head up a new synodal steering group to make preparations.” By Michael Kelly, Catholic News Service, in The Pilot

VATICAN

Vatican to seek dismissal of Guam rape case
“The Holy See, or the Vatican, will be seeking dismissal of a lawsuit filed against it by a former Catholic school student who claimed that former Archbishop Anthony Apuron raped him(link is external) in the mid-1990s. ‘The Holy See intends to file a motion to dismiss based upon numerous grounds, including lack of subject matter jurisdiction, lack of personal jurisdiction, insufficient services of process and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted,’ the Vatican’s legal team said in court filings. That motion would detail the team’s defense against claims that the Vatican is liable for an archbishop’s rape and molestation of children, among other things.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post

Vatican regulates lay movements to prevent governance abuses
“The Vatican took steps Friday (Jun. 11) to better regulate Catholic lay religious movements by imposing term limits on their leaders and requiring internal elections to be representative of their memberships. The Vatican’s laity office cracked down on the largely unregulated world of international associations of the faithful after some cases of abuses of authority and bad governance(link is external) had been reported. Canon lawyers and theologians said the crackdown was perhaps a sign that other lay movements, which have flourished over the last half-century but were largely left to govern themselves, might be similarly targeted.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CHURCH REFORM

Voice of the Faithful 2021 Conference will feature well-known theologian and women religious leader
“An internationally recognized theologian and author and the leader of an organization representing thousands of women religious will speak at Voice of the Faithful’s 2021 Conference Re–Membering the Church: Moving Forward(link is external). Overall, this year’s VOTF conference will look closely at the body of the Catholic Church to see how structure, power, participation, and accountability can be brought together within the Church to fulfill its mission of bringing Christ to the world.” By PRZen on DigitalJournal.com

CHURCH FINANCES

No Vatican-NZ money-laundering probe
“Media coverage of a spectacular error in an Australian financial authority’s reporting of financial transactions from the Vatican to Australian(link is external) accounts earlier this year prompted some Catholic figures to mention possible New Zealand connections, as part of a wider discussion about money-laundering between nations. But New Zealand Police have told NZ Catholic that the New Zealand Financial Integrity Unit ‘has not commenced any money-laundering investigations in relation to the transfer of funds between the Vatican and New Zealand.’” By Michael Otto, New Zealand Catholic

Nun who ran Torrance Catholic school will plead guilty to stealing funds that financed gambling habit
“A nun who ran a Catholic elementary school in Torrance agreed to plead guilty to stealing more than $ 835,000 from school funds(link is external) to pay her personal expenses, including gambling habits. Mary Margaret Kluper, 79, was charged with one wire fraud and one money laundering charge on Tuesday, according to the California Central District Federal Attorney’s Office. The judicial transaction was submitted with the billing documents. Kluper’s lawyer, Mark Burn, said he was ‘extremely regretful of what happened’ about how Kluper became a nun at the age of 18 and devoted his life to helping others.” By California News Times

As new report released, Vatican bank chief says ‘bad old days’ are done
“With release of an annual report showing a healthy profit in 2020 despite the Coronavirus pandemic, Friday capped what’s already been a good run in June for the Institute for the Works of Religion, the so-called ‘Vatican bank,’ including good grades from Europe’s top financial watchdog and a key recognition by the IRS in America. In tandem with other milestones in recent years, President Jean-Baptiste de Franssu, the French economist and banker who’s led the IOR since 2014, believes June 2021 marks an historic turning point. ‘I think we can say,’ de Franssu told Crux, ‘that the era of the old Vatican bank is ove(link is external)r.’ By John L. Allen Jr., Cruxnow.com

Sardinia charity linked to ousted Vatican cardinal searched
“Italian police searched the offices of a Sardinian charity and diocese on Wednesday (Jun. 9) on behalf of Vatican prosecutors who are investigating a once-powerful cardinal on alleged embezzlement charges(link is external). Lawyers for Cardinal Angelo Becciu said in a statement that any and all documentation seized would only serve to confirm the absolute correctness of the behavior’ of Becciu, the charity and the diocese of Ozieri. Pope Francis sacked Becciu as head of the Vatican’s saint-making office and stripped him of his rights and privileges as a cardinal in September, amid a crackdown on financial mismanagement and corruption in the Holy See.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

Watchdog group: Vatican needs to improve handling of financial crimes
“Moneyval, the European financial watchdog committee, said that while the Vatican has made progress in combatting financial crimes, its investigations into potential crimes committed by senior officials needs more fine-tuning(link is external). The group, also known as the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the Evaluation of Anti-Money Laundering Measures and the Financing of Terrorism, released its assessment of the Vatican’s compliance with financial regulation standards June 9. The 275-page report was published after experts from Moneyval conducted a two-week onsite inspection of the Vatican in October.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, America: The Jesuit Review

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Joe Biden, the Bishops & Vatican II: The Battle Over the Brand of U.S. Catholicism
“With the Catholic Church now besieged by scandal, financial collapse and an extraordinary exodus of the faithful hastened by the Covid-19 pandemic, there are good reasons to be worried that the bold experimental spirit of Vatican II, its hope for a church engaged with the world, is at its end(link is external) in these Biden years. Many Catholics could be tempted to indulge hopes that the Biden administration could be a new beginning for the council’s spirit of engagement with the world if Mr. Biden can excite Americans about Catholicism—while at the same time exciting Catholics about the goodness of our political obligations.” By Steven P. Millies, America: The Jesuit Review

VOICES

Thomas Merton’s wisdom for a church in crisis
“It’s striking how timely those opening observations (of Thomas Merton’s) are 57 years later. Indeed, the church, at least within the United States, is facing a crisis(link is external). And, as I have written here before, part of what contributes to the crisis is the refusal of many bishops to recognize the ongoing creative power of the Holy Spirit. Instead, they double down on their own sense of self-assurance and the mistaken belief that they — and they alone — are responsible for the success or failure of Christ’s church. This is part of what I see playing out in their reduction of the Blessed Sacrament to an idolatrous token of political partisan approval or as a blasphemous weapon to be used in controlling the people of God.” By Daniel P. Horan, OFM, National Catholic Reporter

The collapse of the US bishops’ conference
What we witnessed last week at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ spring meeting was outrageous(link is external). As mentioned in my last column, bishops questioned each other’s motives without any objection from the chair. Bishops argued that this push to draft a document on the Eucharist was not motivated by politics, but then had to acknowledge that the idea came from a working group formed to cope with the Biden administration. And, in what would appear funny were it not so tragic, every time the principals in the effort to draft the document explained that they were not motivated by politics, that this effort was not directed at any one individual, one of the culture warrior backbenchers would get up and mention President Joe Biden by name.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Catholic Church response to sexual abuse must center on survivor well-being, not defensiveness
“In light of the recent discovery of 215 Indigenous children in unmarked graves at a former Catholic-run residential school in British Columbia and investigations at other former residential schools, there have been renewed calls for the Pope to apologize for residential schools and for the Catholic Church to release its records(link is external). The story has also turned public scrutiny on how the Catholic Church has responded to other calls to apologize and be accountable to victims in cases of sexual abuse both in residential schools and throughout the church.” By Beth Daley, TheConversation.com

Church For Residential Schools: Experts
Too few people in charge of residential schools have faced legal consequences for ‘crimes against humanity” committed against Indigenous children, experts say.
Following the discovery of the remains of 215 undocumented children, some as young as 3, under a former residential school in British Columbia, calls are mounting for leaders and staff of residential schools to be punished. Starting in the 1800s, residential schools were funded by the Canadian government and operated by churches to forcibly assimilate an estimated 150,000 First Nations, Inuit, and Métis children. More than half of all schools were Catholic-run. Sweeping physical and sexual abuses, disease, and malnutrition were rampant, and up to 15,000 children, many undocumented, were killed nationwide(link is external). The last school only closed its doors in the mid-1990s.” By Anya Zoledziowski, VICE.com

A mass grave for Indigenous children was found in Canada. Could it happen in the United States
“After years of grueling testimony about the treatment of First Nations and other Indigenous children in residential boarding schools during the 19th and early 20th centuries, Canadians could be forgiven if they believed they had already heard the worst. But on May 27, the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced that a land survey using ground-penetrating radar at the site of the former Kamloops Indian Residential School in British Columbia discovered the remains of 215 children—and more are expected to be found(link is external) after another survey this month.” By Kevin Clarke, America: The Jesuit Review

STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS

As Child Victims Act nears end, details of abuse still elusive
“Nearly two years ago, the Child Victims Act went into effect, touted as a way to bring both a reckoning for individuals and institutions involved in decades of child abuse and a measure of justice for their victims. But none of the thousands of court cases that have been filed in New York have yet gone to trial(link is external) and many details of the alleged institutional coverups that shielded the abuse remain cloaked in secrecy.” By Edward McKinley, Times Union

New Maine law will remove time barrier to civil claims on childhood sexual abuse
Anyone who has experienced childhood sexual abuse in Maine soon will be able to file a civil claim against their perpetrator, no matter how long ago the abuse occurred(link is external). In 2000, Maine eliminated the statute of limitations for those lawsuits. But that policy was not retroactive, so victims whose claims had expired still could not bring them forward. On Monday (Jun. 21), Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill that will lift the statute of limitations for those cases as well. Supporters said that means more survivors will have the option to take their abusers to court.” By Megan Gray, Portland Press Herald

Pa. lawmakers threaten university funding over statute of limitations deadlock
“A pair of state lawmakers who sponsored a bill to give adult survivors of child sexual abuse the right to sue their assailants beyond the statute of limitations say they will block state appropriations for Pennsylvania’s public research universities if Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward continues to stall a vote on their bill. State Reps. Jim Gregory, R-Blair County, and Mark Rozzi, D-Berks, say they’ve assembled a coalition of lawmakers from diverse sectors who are willing to block funding to Pitt, Penn State, Temple and Lincoln universities unless Ward, a Hempfield Republican, moves the bill to a vote.” By Deb Erdley, TribLive.com

Louisiana Legislature allows for more child sex abuse lawsuits — including against the Catholic Church
“The Catholic Church and other major institutions accused of mistreating children stand to lose a lot more money to lawsuits brought by victims of abuse(link is external) under a bill unanimously approved by the Louisiana Legislature Thursday. House Bill 492, sponsored by Rep. Jason Hughes, D-New Orleans, removes the time limit for civil lawsuits over child abuse. Currently, a person must sue over child abuse before they turn 28 years old.” By Julie O’Donoghue, Louisiana Illuminator

First-Of-Its-Kind Law Allows Child Sex Assault Survivors To Sue Institutions That Covered Up Abuse
“On the last day of the legislative session, state lawmakers gave final approval to what will be a first-in-the-nation law. The bill will allow survivors of child sexual assault between 1960 and 2022 to sue institutions like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts if their assault was the result of a cover-up by the institution(link is external). They will have three years to file the lawsuit. Earlier this year, lawmakers lifted the statute of limitations for sexual assault cases going forward but, because the state constitution bars retroactive claims, it didn’t help those abused in the past. This bill creates a new type of claim not under the statute of limitations.” By CBS4 Political Specialist Shaun Boyd

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

Do not say ‘rape’ but term it ‘inappropriate contact’: Catholic Church
“In 2018, the FBI’s National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime – the division within the bureau that provides profiles of violent criminals, among other things – reviewed much of the evidence the Pennsylvania Grand Jury received and concluded that its analysis of the material revealed something akin to ‘a playbook for concealing the truth(link is external).’ First, the church employed euphemisms for sexual assault, referring to the crime not as rape, but as ‘inappropriate contact’ or ‘boundary issues,’ center investigators said. In one case, the grand jury reported a priest’s repeated and violent sexual assaults of children were referred to as ‘his difficulties.’” By Savio Rodrigues, Goa Chronicle

Catholic churches publicly report a fraction of sexual abuse allegations
“The number of sexual abuse accusations made public by Catholic churches in Illinois is a fourth of the total number(link is external), according to Attorney General Kwame Raoul. An investigation launched by Former Attorney General Lisa Madigan in 2018 discovered Catholic churches kept at least 500 sexual abuse accusations a secret. At the time, only 185 clergy members in the state were publicly identified as being “credibly” accused of child sexual abuse. Madigan announced her investigation in August 2018, and by December, the state discovered those 500 undisclosed cases, bringing the total number of allegations up to about 690.” By Renée Cooper, WCIA.com

CALIFORNIA

Attorney says ‘predator’ Craig Harrison sexually assaulted 2 minors, one at Bakersfield church
“Attorneys have filed lawsuits alleging former priest Craig Harrison sexually assaulted two minors(link is external), one at St. Francis of Assisi Church in Bakersfield. Harrison sexually assaulted a 13-year-old at St. Francis in about 1990, said plaintiffs’ attorney Jeff Anderson at a press conference in Fresno. He said Harrison lured the teen into the rectory and ‘violated him repeatedly.’” By Jason Kotowski, KGET.com Bakersfield

Diocese of Fresno vows to soon release report on priests accused of sexual misconduct
“The Diocese of Fresno is close to releasing a much-anticipated report on priests accused of sexual misconduct, an official said Wednesday (Jun.9). ‘We are in the process of finalizing that report,’ said Cheryl Sarkisian, chancellor and victim assistance coordinator for the diocese. ‘It has been time- and labor-intensive and is close to being finalized for release soon. The diocese under then-Bishop Armando Ochoa vowed in January 2019 to release a list of accused priests, much like other dioceses have done across the country.’” By Robert Rodriguez, Fresno Bee

ILLINOIS

Chicago Archdiocese settles sexual abuse suit for $880,000
“Two men who said they were sexually molested decades ago by a notorious Catholic priest who was imprisoned for molesting other boys have agreed to a settlement of $880,000(link is external) from the Archdiocese of Chicago, attorneys announced Wednesday (Jun.23). The men alleged Norbert Maday sexually abused them repeatedly starting when they were as young as 10 years old while they were altar boys and students at St. Bede the Venerable Elementary School on the city’s South Side, attorneys Jason Friedl and Martin Gould said.” By Don Babwin, Associated Press

How one Catholic order closes its eyes to sexual abuse by clergy
“Among Catholic religious orders in the United States that, like the U.S. church itself, are facing a national reckoning over clergy sexual abuse of children, the Claretians stand out(link is external). The Claretians operate Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, 3200 E. 91st St. on the Southeast Side, which was the first Mexican American Catholic congregation in Chicago. Many of the order’s ministries center on children, including tutoring, violence prevention and arts programs. Like other orders that operate in the Chicago area, the Claretians have faced abuse allegations. Six clerics accused of sexual abuse have served at some point at Our Lady of Guadalupe, records show.” By Robert Herguth, Chicago Sun-Tmes

Northwest Side pastor reinstated following sexual abuse investigation by Archdiocese of Chicago
“The Archdiocese of Chicago reinstated the Rev. Daniel McCarthy to a Northwest Side parish(link is external) less than a year after a decades-old sexual abuse allegation surfaced. In a letter released Monday to the congregation of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity Parish and School, Cardinal Blase J. Cupich stated McCarthy would be reinstated effective immediately following an investigation from last year’s report. ‘The Review Board has concluded that there is insufficient reason to suspect Father McCarthy is guilty of these allegations,’ Cupich stated in the letter.” By Elvia Malagón, Chicago Sun-Times

IOWA

Iowa Attorney General’s report reviews dozens of ‘overwhelming’ sex-abuse complaints against Catholic priests
“In Iowa as in the rest of the country, the incidence and duration of sexual abuse by clergy ‘were overwhelming’ and the cover-up ‘extensive(link is external)’ in earlier decades, a report by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office that was released Wednesday (Jun. 23) concludes. A years long investigation by the office reviewed nearly 50 complaints of sexual abuse against current and former Catholic priests and other officials, including 17 allegations that had never before been reported.” By William Morris and Melody Mercado, Des Moines Register

KANSAS

KCK Catholic diocese says finding that priest did not sexually abuse minor was wrong
“A finding in 2002 that one of its priests did not sexually abuse a minor was inaccurate(link is external), the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announced on Friday (Jun.18). ‘With deep sorrow for the suffering of victims and survivors of abuse, the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas announces that William Haegelin, a priest who was removed from ministry in 2002 and laicized in 2004, has been the subject of a substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor,’ the archdiocese said in a statement published in Friday’s issue of The Leaven, its official newspaper.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

LOUISIANA

A Catholic Priest Admitted to Raping a Child. Because His Deposition Is Sealed, He Walks Free.
“The Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse (SCSA) issued a letter to various law enforcement officials requesting that they read the sealed deposition of accused child rapist, and former Catholic priest(link is external), Lawrence Hecker. The President of SCSA Richard Windmann explained that a ‘Federal Court in New Orleans, Louisiana, has sealed a deposition in which a Catholic priest admitted to raping a child. Because the deposition is sealed by the court, this predator is a free man on the streets of our community, and no child is safe, and he has escaped Justice.’” By Helen Lewis, Big Easy Magazine

Faced with financial liability, Lafayette Diocese and fallen priest shift blame to victim’s family
“Disgraced priest Michael Guidry has twice changed his story about the night in 2015 that he molested a teenage altar boy in the rectory of St. Peter’s Church in Morrow(link is external), a small community in St. Landry Parish. When the boy reported the abuse three years later, Guidry initially told St. Landry Parish Sheriff’s Office detectives that he could not recall the fondling. But moments before taking a lie detector test, he admitted rubbing the boy’s genitals.” By Ben Myers, The Acadiana Advocate

MICHIGAN

Former Jackson music teacher facing 10-20 years in prison after sexual abuse plea
“A former music teacher is facing 10 to 20 years in prison after pleading guilty to sexual abuse charges dating to his tenure at a Jackson Catholic school(link is external) in the 1970s. Joseph Comperchio pleaded guilty Friday (Jun. 18) in Jackson County Circuit Court to three counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct and one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, according to Attorney General Dana Nessel’s office. Nessel’s office in September charged Comperchio with six counts of criminal sexual conduct for sexually abusing two children and added five new counts in October related two individuals.” By Beth LeBlanc, The Detroit News

Former Catholic school teacher downstate pleads guilty; 4th conviction in AG’s Clergy Abuse investigation
“A former Catholic school music teacher will serve at least a decade in prison after pleading guilty to four counts of criminal sexual conduct(link is external), which will result in the harshest prison sentence thus far in the Michigan Department of Attorney General’s ongoing clergy abuse investigation. Joseph – or Josef – Comperchio, of Fort Myers, Florida, was first charged last September for sexually abusing two children. In those cases, he was charged with two counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. Then in October of last year, five new counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct involving two individuals were added.” By FOX-TV6 News

MISSISSIPPI

Mississippi Supreme Court sends case accusing Catholic priest of abuse back to Forrest County
“Robert McGowen’s hopes for relief decades after he says he was sexually assaulted by a Catholic priest(link is external) are still alive after the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned a lower court’s ruling Thursday (Jun. 17). McGowen was 12 and 13 years old in 1984-85, when he says he was sexually abused by former Sacred Heart Catholic Church priest Father John Scanlon. McGowen said he did not remember the abuse until one day in December 2018, after which he sought counseling, according to court documents.” By Lici Beveridge, Hattiesburg American

MISSOURI

Kansas City diocese hasn’t named all priests credibly accused of sex abuse, group says
“The Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese has failed to include nearly 20 priests on its list of clergy credibly accused of sex abuse even though they are named elsewhere(link is external), a victim’s advocate group said Wednesday (Jun. 23). Those priests — including one convicted in Texas of trying to hire a hit man to kill his victim— all had ties to the diocese in the past, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group publicly released the names at an afternoon news conference.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star

NEW JERSEY

Attorney for clergy sex-abuse victims claims Camden diocese ‘underreported’ assets
“The Diocese of Camden ‘grossly underreported’ its assets in a bankruptcy filing in an effort to ‘disadvantage survivors of clergy abuse(link is external),’ a lawyer charged Wednesday (Jun. 23). Attorney Jeff Anderson asserted Bishop Dennis Sullivan, the diocese’s leader, ‘has at least $774 million under his control.’ In contrast, he said, the diocese’s bankruptcy filing lists assets of almost $54 million and net assets after liabilities of $28.1 million.” By Jim Walsh, Cherry Hill Courier-Post

Law firm adds 9 N.J. priests to list of accused abusers, as deadline nears in diocese’s bankruptcy case
“Anyone who was sexually abused by a Catholic priest has less than two weeks to file a claim before a deadline set in the Diocese of Camden’s bankruptcy case, attorneys said as they added nine new names to the list of accused priests(link is external). The diocese — which includes parishes in Atlantic, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties — filed for bankruptcy last fall after church officials said its finances were overwhelmed by clergy sexual abuse settlements and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.” By Kelly Heyboer, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

N.J. man sues Delbarton School alleging monks sexually abused him repeatedly in the 1970s
“A former star athlete and football player at Delbarton School in Morris County has filed a lawsuit against the order that runs the private Catholic institution, claiming three monks sexually abused him as a teenager(link is external) in the 1970s – the latest in a series of similar lawsuits filed against the school. Rodney Baron, now 57, claims in the lawsuit he was abused in the late 1970s when he was 13 or 14 years old. Baron states in the suit that he and his brother were the only Black students at Delbarton and were instructed to be ‘exceptionally obedient’ because of their race.” By Anthony G. Attrino, NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

NEW YORK.

Buffalo Diocese to monitor 18 priests accused of abuse with home visits, restrictions
“The Buffalo Diocese, heavily criticized by State Attorney General Letitia James for not keeping better tabs on priests who molested children, is launching a monitoring program that will include monthly home visits and other restrictions for offending priests(link is external). Bishop Michael W. Fisher confirmed in an interview with The News that the diocese has developed and begun to implement a ‘detailed monitoring plan with a professional monitor who will be in contact with each of these priests who have been relieved of ministry.’” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

Tollner seeks info from Diocese on abuse he says he suffered
“Rensselaerville resident Richard Tollner has filed a legal petition against the Diocese of Albany, relating to an effort to secure justice against a Catholic priest whom Tollner says sexually abused him when he was a teenage prep-school student(link is external) in Nassau County. The petition for pre-action discovery, filed on May 28, would allow Tollner and his attorneys to acquire information from the Diocese of Albany that would help them to ‘fully evaluate [Tollner’s] claims’ against the Diocese of Rockville Centre, which oversaw the prep school, St. Pius X Preparatory Seminary, where Tollner says he was sexually assaulted a number of times by Alan Placa in the 1970s.” By The Altamont Enterprise

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

Sexual abuse claims at Bronx Catholic school spanning 3 decades come to life
“It’s taken him decades to tell his story, but one man is sharing with News 12 his traumatic memories of being sexually abused as a little boy for years at a Catholic school(link is external) and community center in the Bronx. He says the time to get justice is now as the expiration date for the state’s Child Victims Act approaches. ‘As a little child, I could not process what was happening to me. I felt defenseless, I felt dirty. I felt it was my fault,’ said the man. John Doe spoke with News 12’s Asha McKenzie under protection of anonymity.” By News 12 Staff

Rochester diocese seeks approval for $35M settlement with insurers for sex abuse victims
“The Diocese of Rochester has asked a federal judge to approve a $35 million settlement agreement with its insurers to help pay survivors of sexual abuse(link is external). In a statement issued Friday (Jun. 11) afternoon, the diocese said the proposed agreement was with Lloyd’s of London and Interstate Fire and Casuality, who are among the major insurers involved in its bankruptcy case.” By Sean Lahman, Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

NEVADA

Law Review: Seven more victims sue the Catholic Church
“A few years ago, this column summarized the statistics of thousands of lawsuits filed against the Catholic Church for ignoring the molestation of children by priests who historically were transferred to other parishes where their pedophilia continued. Today’s case, Ratcliff v. The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles, analyzes a new case filed by seven adults. Seven adults claiming they were molestation victims(link is external), sued the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Los Angeles and related individuals and entities for molestation allegedly committed by Father Christopher Cunningham.” By Jim Porter, Sierra Sun

TEXAS

New list of clergy accused of sex abuse released by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston
“Faith leaders from the Catholic dioceses in Texas have added four more names to the list of clergy who were accused of sexually abusing a minor(link is external) from 1950 through the end of 2018. The original list was presented as part of an effort to bring about the restoration of trust, according to the website hosted by the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. The updated list includes John Patrick Barry, C.S.B., Franz B. Lickteig, O.Carm. and William ‘Herb’ Schreiner, C.S.B. who have all been “deceased for decades.” By ABC-TV13 News

WISCONSIN

Lawsuit claims racial discrimination in treatment of clergy abuse survivors
“We’ve heard the reports of alleged and confirmed sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Church, but we’re also learning about racial disparities in the treatment of clergy abuse victims(link is external). In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, June 8, the lawyer for a Black clergy abuse victim accused the Franciscans of the Blessed Virgin Mary, headquartered in Franklin, Wisconsin, and the Diocese of Jackson Mississippi, of discrimination. He said both churches ignored Raphael Love’s repeated claim of abuse by former Franciscan Brother Paul West.” By CBS 58 Newsroom

AUSTRALIA

Some abuse survivors to receive advance payments
Elderly and terminally ill survivors of child sexual abuse will be able to access advance compensation payments of up to $10,000(link is external), after an inquiry found the scheme designed to support victims is a bureaucratic nightmare. In its first two years of operation, the national redress scheme has been criticized as incredibly slow, overly complicated and traumatizing for survivors forced to recount horrific tales of abuse in the hope of securing financial support. A review commissioned by the Morrison Government has been released by Social Services Minister Anne Ruston and agreed with many of those sentiments.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Ottawa archbishop apologizes for Catholic Church’s role in residential school system
“Ottawa-Cornwall Archbishop Marcel Damphousse issued a formal apology Monday (Jun. 21) to Indigenous people for the Catholic Church’s role in the residential school system(link is external). He also called on Pope Francis, the global head of the church of approximately 1.3 billion people, to apologize, as well. The apology is the latest expression of contrition from a Canadian Catholic leader since the Tk’emlúps te Secwépemc First Nation announced the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked burial sites of children’s remains adjacent to a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C. It follows similar apologies from the archbishops of Vancouver and Regina.” By Ryan Patrick Jones, CBC News

Catholic order that staffed Kamloops residential school refuses to share records families seek
“The order of nuns that taught at the former Kamloops residential school, and others in B.C., continues to withhold important documents that could help tell the story of how Indigenous children died at the schools over the past 150 years(link is external). The Sisters of St. Ann has never approved the release of relevant government records — documents that could relate to deaths at the schools — according to the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation and the religious order.” By Angela Sterritt, Jennifer Wilson,·CBC News

Sask. Catholic churches delay, reject calls to release internal files on abuser priests
“Joey Basaraba cries randomly while sitting in his Saskatoon apartment, in the shower or out walking. He can’t remember the last time he slept through the night. ‘I take it one day at a time,” Basaraba said in an interview this week. Basaraba, who says he was sexually abused for years starting at age six by two Prince Albert, Sask., priests(link is external), is joining the renewed national calls for church transparency after the discovery of what are believed to be the unmarked graves of 215 children at a Catholic residential school site in Kamloops, B.C.” By Jason Warick,·CBC News

GERMANY

Archdiocese of Berlin suspends work of commission on sexual abuse
“The Archdiocese of Berlin announced that it was temporarily suspending the work of its expert commission established to follow up on a legal report about sexual abuse in the archdiocese(link is external) since 1946. The archdiocese said June 22 that the commission is recommending that findings from the legal firm Redeker Sellner Dahs be reworked or that another legal firm be commissioned to investigate the abuse. In a statement later that day, lawyers Sabine Wildfeuer and Peter-Andreas Brand of Redeker Sellner Dahs said they learned about the suspension of the archdiocesan Sexual Abuse Expert Commission through the media.” By Anli Serfontein, Cruxnow.com

IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND

Fr Malachy Finnegan: Abuse survivor Tony Gribben gets six-figure settlement
“A man abused for years by a pedophile priest at a County Down school is to receive a six-figure sum in damages(link is external), the High Court has been told. Tony Gribben, 61, sued the trustees and board of governors at St Colman’s College in Newry and the Diocese of Dromore. He took the lawsuit over the sexual and physical assaults suffered at the hands of the late Father Malachy Finnegan. The pay-out to Mr Gribben forms part of a settlement.” By BBC News

‘The Irish Handmaid’s Tale’: Mother and baby home survivor says reality was worse than fiction
“The way survivors of mother and baby homes have been treated by the Catholic Church and successive governments in Ireland amounts to ‘abuse of the abused(link is external),’ one woman has said. Terri Harrison was among the survivors to give testimony to the Investigation Committee of the Commission of Investigation into Mother and Baby Homes. Speaking to The Journal, Terri said that recalling the trauma she suffered when coerced into giving her son up for adoption, and her ongoing search for him, while giving evidence to the Commission was incredibly difficult.” By TheJournal.ie

‘I was disgusted by it’: Former Belvedere College pupils claim priest assaulted them
“A number of former pupils of Belvedere College in Dublin have alleged that a priest who taught at the fee-paying secondary school assaulted them(link is external) in the late 1970s and 1980s. In March the Jesuits in Ireland publicized the name of a former Belvedere College teacher, Fr Joseph Marmion SJ, who is now deceased, to encourage people who may have suffered abuse to come forward. The Order said at the time that Marmion had ‘sexually, emotionally and physically’ abused pupils at Belvedere College in Dublin in the 1970s.” By The Irish Journal

Retired priest seeks to stop child sex abuse trial going ahead
“A retired priest is seeking a High Court order halting his trial on charges of child sexual abuse dating back to the 1960s. The man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, is facing four charges of sexual assault of a female(link is external) on dates between 1966 and 1969. The complainant was a secondary school student and a minor at the time of the alleged assaults in Co Galway. The first assault is alleged to have taken place in the room of an abbey.” By Aodhan O’Faolain, The Irish Times

POLAND

Poland asks Vatican’s data for its church sex abuse probes
“Poland’s state commission for fighting sex abuse of minors said Thursday (Jun. 24) it has asked the Vatican for data on abuse by the clergy in Poland because Poland’s church is not providing the requested information(link is external). Head of the commission Blazej Kmieciak said that some 30% of cases of abuse of persons aged under 15 that the commission is analyzing relate to the clergy. He said, however, that despite written requests made earlier this year to regional leaders of Poland’s Catholic Church and of other churches, only one bishops’ court made its files available to the State Commission for Cases of Pedophilia.” By Associated Press in Las Vegas Sun

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