Archive for May, 2022

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 26, 2022


Federal bankruptcy judge rejects Catholic diocese’s bid to stop state litigation on child sex abuse, excoriates ‘heavy-handed threat’ to survivors
“On Monday (May23), a federal bankruptcy judge granted survivors to resume their previously paused actions against hundreds of independent Catholic corporations that did not seek bankruptcy protection. His scathing ruling slammed what the judge perceived as the Diocese’s hardball tactics. ‘Portraying itself as a victim, trying to do right by the Abuse Survivors, the Diocese predicts that if state court litigation is permitted to move forward against any of the Catholic Corporations, ‘the Diocese may be forced to pursue a non-consensual plan of reorganization,’’ U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren wrote in a 16-page decision and order. ‘That is a pretty heavy-handed threat to be leveled at the people who are the real victims here—the Abuse Survivors.’” By Adam Klasfeld,

New Italian church head faces demands for abuse inquiry
“Pope Francis on Tuesday (May 24) named a bishop in his own image, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, as the new head of the Italian bishops conference, as the Italian Catholic Church comes under mounting pressure to confront its legacy of clerical sexual abuse with an independent inquiry. Zuppi, 66, is currently the archbishop of Bologna and has long been affiliated with the Sant’Egidio Community, a Catholic charity particularly close to Francis. The Italian Catholic Church is one of the few in western Europe that has not opened its archives to independent researchers to establish the scope of abuse and cover-up in recent decades.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press, in National Catholic Reporter

New head of Italian bishops tasked with handling clergy sex abuse, By Inés San Martin,

Spanish Catholic Church’s internal child abuse investigation of little use, prosecutor says
“An internal investigation by the Spanish Catholic Church into alleged child sexual abuse by members of the clergy is ‘partial’ and ‘of little use,’ the office of Spain’s national prosecutor wrote in a letter to the country’s ombudsman that was made available to Reuters. The Spanish Catholic Church in January launched diocesan-level inquiries after Spanish newspaper El Pais reported in December more than 1,200 cases of alleged abuse between 1943 and 2018.  The revelations came years after sexual abuse scandals had rocked the Church in countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis,’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.
“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up. Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich. ‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.” By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter


Fordham conference on abuse highlights way the church can foster healthier culture of sexuality
“Last month, scholars from all over the world met to discuss projects related to the clergy sexual abuse as part of Fordham University’s ‘Taking Responsibility’ initiative. Some attendees disclosed their abuse by Jesuit priests, adding a palpable solemnity to the larger, systemic issues that make up the Catholic sexual abuse crisis. These stories also laid the backdrop for how important it was to research and answer exactly how Jesuit institutions can ‘take responsibility.’” By Mark A. Levand, National Catholic Reporter


Catholics with disabilities share their vision of a synodal church
“Catholics with disabilities can be and want to be active members of the church and missionary disciples, but that will require fighting discrimination, exclusion and paternalism, participants told an online listening session for the Synod of Bishops. The Dicastery for Laity, the Family and Life, in collaboration with the General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops, sponsored a two-hour session May 19 with representatives of bishops’ conferences and international Catholic associations to hear directly from Catholic with disabilities, ‘who are often on the margins of our churches,’ according to a media statement.” By Catholic News Service, on

Listening & Discernmnet
“Listening and discernment are perhaps the two words that have been most used in this first phase of the synod process. Those who were able to participate in listening sessions, in spiritual conversations, were able to rediscover the meaning of these words that have often lost the force of their meaning in our daily vocabulary. But how does one listen and discern correctly? Apparently, listening and discernment belong to two distinct moments: first listening and then discerning, but on closer inspection they are perhaps two sides of the same coin. In short, there can be no true listening without discernment, just as there can be no side of a coin without the back.” By Editorial Staff

Towards Pentecost 2022
“The Scottish Laity Network has organized a program ‘Towards Pentecost 2022,’ focusing on listening and responding to the cry of the poor and the cry of the Earth. From 28 April to 2 June there will be six sessions with different speakers. In a world brutally divided between rich and poor, suffering wars and violence, and failing to take radical action to prevent climate devastation, they seek to discern how the Spirit is calling for a response.” By

Justice and peace in the Synod process
“The Justice and Peace Commission of the Assembly of Catholic Ordinaries and the Preparatory Commission of the Holy Land for Synod 2021-2023 encourage us, during the synod process, to be more aware of the lives of those in our ecclesial communities, neighborhoods, and society who are affected by the lack of justice, inequality and permanent violence in all its forms. That is why it is necessary to listen with these keys: to know people’s lives better, to promote community solidarity, to understand justice-inequality-peace as a right for all, and to promote integration and participation in society.” By


New head of umbrella group for women’s religious sets sights on synodality
“Sister Nadia Coppa, the newly-elected president of one of the largest international conglomerates of women religious, is set on creating a global network of collaboration among congregations based on Pope Francis’s much-touted spirit of synodality. Speaking to Crux, Coppa said she believes synodality ‘is a horizon of the church, so it’s also a path for us.’ ‘We want to continue to promote the style of synodality,’ she said. ‘We want to be really open, to listen to one another, because listening is demanding, and it calls us to be really open, to make space for others. It also means letting go, letting go of my own desires, my own interests.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


The Catholic Church lacks an imagination for lay agency
“Some two years ago, I attended the Called and Co-Responsible conference at the University of Notre Dame. It was a conference about the role of the laity in the Church. One of the speakers, Fr. Michael Sweeny, O.P. made two insightful statements in his talk that resonated deeply with my experience working with parishes all over the country. He said, ‘Formation in the Church has always been for the sake of a mission;’ and ‘as a Church, we have no imagination for lay agency.’” By Peter Andrastek, Church Life Journal

Cardinals, theologians discuss decision-making role of laity in church
“As the Catholic Church continues to reflect on synodality through a two-year process of listening and dialogue, a panel of six notable theologians and canonists discussed the nature of consultation and decision-making in a synodal church. The discussion took place May 20 at the Vatican’s Palazzo Pio during the presentation of a new book released by the Vatican publishing house and written by Cardinal Francesco Coccopalmerio, retired president of the Pontifical Council for Legislative Texts, the office charged with interpreting canon law.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in The Arlington Catholic Herald


The eerie parallels between the Southern Baptist and Catholic sexual abuse crises
“When news broke that Southern Baptist leaders had covered up sex abuse for decades I felt a numb sense of familiarity. I came of age as a Catholic against the backdrop of our own ongoing sex abuse crisis. It would be years before I would truly understand how sexual violence and the criminal conspiracies that perpetuated it had defined contemporary U.S. Catholicism. One thing was clear quite quickly, however. The sex abuse scandal cast doubt on the moral authority of the Roman Catholic Church itself. A similar crisis of moral authority is underway for arguably the most significant white evangelical institution in the country. I say this both as a U.S. religious historian and as a Catholic who grew up in Alabama surrounded by Southern Baptists.” By Matthew J. Cressier, National Catholic Reporter


Rome conference revisits ‘Amoris Laetitia’ and church’s call to welcome marginalized Catholics
“Although Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ landmark 2016 document on marriage and family life, has been widely praised for its call for greater integration of divorced, remarried and LGBTQ Catholics into church life, theologians have long said the text’s implementation on the ground has been mixed. A major May 11-15 conference at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University, however, brought together nearly 200 bishops, priests, religious women and theologians from 25 countries in Africa, Asia, North America, South America and Europe with an aim of firmly cementing the pope’s magisterial teaching on these matters into pastoral practice around the world.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican airs dirty laundry in trial over London property
“The Vatican’s sprawling financial trial may not have produced any convictions yet or any new smoking guns as prosecutors work through a first round of questioning of the 10 suspects accused of fleecing the Holy See of tens of millions of euros. But testimony so far has provided plenty of insights into how the Vatican operates, with a cast of characters worthy of a Dan Brown thriller or a Shakespearean tragicomedy. Recent hearings showed a church bureaucracy that used espionage, allowed outsiders with unverified qualifications to gain access to the Apostolic Palace and relied on a pervasive mantra of sparing the pope responsibility — until someone’s neck was on the line.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press


Adult Survivors Act for abuse victims on track to pass in New York
“A long-sought bill that would allow adult survivors of sexual abuse to hold their alleged abusers accountable is on track for approval. Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan) announced Thursday (May 19) that there are enough votes in her chamber to pass the Adult Survivors Act before the end of the legislative session early next month. ‘Today is a watershed moment for survivors of sexual assault in New York and across the country,’ Rosenthal said. ‘Today, New York State recognizes that ensuring justice for survivors of sexual assault is more important than maintaining arbitrary statutes of limitations that have for years shielded predators from justice.’ By Denis Slattery, New York Daily News


Haaland seeks healing for Native American boarding school survivors
The Interior Department found that the U.S. operated or actively supported more than 400 American Indian boarding schools between 1819 and 1969 – a history that affects the agency’s own leader. Secretary Deb Haaland, the first Native American to serve as a Cabinet secretary, tells NPR’s All Things Considered that she had grandparents who were taken from their homes and placed in these schools.” By Michel Martin, National Public Radio

Catholic Church to investigate abuse claims at children’s homes
“The Roman Catholic Church will investigate allegations of child abuse in the December 2021 Judith Jones Report on children’s homes. In a press release on Wednesday (May 18), Archbishop Jason Gordon said the investigative team would include independent and qualified experts in the fields of psychology, childcare/social work, law and human resource management. The investigation was launched in response to the 139-page report entitled Safeguarding Children in Community Residences and Child Support Centres in TT which was laid in Parliament on April 29 by Minister in the Office of the PM, Ayanna Webster-Roy.” By Janelle De Souza, Newsday


Sex abuse suits pouring in as state’s Catholic leaders seek relief from highest court
“Now, facing hundreds of lawsuits, a group of Catholic bishops is taking those challenges to the nation’s highest court. Saying they faced ‘potentially ruinous liability,’ the bishops last month asked the U.S. Supreme Court to declare the California lookback window unconstitutional.” By Nigel Duara,


Catholic priest, once suspended for inappropriate conduct, resigns from central Iowa parish
“A Catholic priest who was suspended by the Diocese of Des Moines in 2020 after allegations of inappropriate conduct resigned from a parish he was recently assigned to in Elkhart. Rev. Jim Kirby resigned from the St. Mary/Holy Cross Parish in Elkhart, according to the parish newsletter. The dioceses hopes to fill the position, the newsletter said, but no other priests are available at this time.” By Philip Joens, Des Moines Register


Rochester diocese offers $147.75 million to abuse victims
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rochester has put forward a $147.75 million offer to settle claims filed by 475 sexual-abuse survivors in the diocese’s Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Whether the nine-figure offer will bring a quick end to the long-stalled bankruptcy at this point seems far from certain. The offer was outlined in a filing posted with the Rochester Bankruptcy Court late Friday afternoon … Despite its size, the offer—tendered nearly two and a half years into a bankruptcy whose slow-moving pace survivors have seen as frustrating—is being met with disdain by the abuse survivors it is meant to placate.” By Will Astor, Rochester Beacon


Sex abuse suit filed against Oklahoma City Catholic school
“Ten current and former students of Mount St. Mary Catholic High School in Oklahoma City and six parents or guardians are suing the private school, alleging it fostered ‘a rape culture’ for more than 10 years. School officials have known since 2011 that female students have been victims of rape and sexual assault by students, teachers and coaches and done nothing to stop the attacks, according to the lawsuit filed Monday (May 16).” By Ken Miller, Associated Press


Lawsuit accuses Providence Diocese of ‘victim blaming’ in clergy sex-abuse complaints
“A newly filed lawsuit by one of the alleged child molestation victims of recently suspended Smithfield priest Francis C. Santilli accuses the leaders of the Rhode Island Catholic Church of ‘victim blaming’ while disregarding multiple accounts of sexual misconduct by ‘Father Frank.’ The lawsuit was filed Thursday (May 19) against current and former Bishops Thomas Tobin and Louis Gelineau of the Catholic Diocese of Providence, and the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes on Atwells Avenue in Providence.” By Katherine Gregg, The Providence Journal


Insurers suddenly raise stakes on German churches’ sex abuse response
“Germany’s Catholic and Protestant churches have been criticized for their handling of clergy sexual abuse for years now by victims, believers and the media. Now they face new pressure from an unexpected corner: the insurance industry. VBG, a national association of accident insurance providers, recently complained to the two predominant church bodies in the country that they had not been notified of the thousands of sexual abuse cases that have been found in the church groups’ ranks.” By Tom Heneghan, Religion News Service


Vatican uses NY decision to seek dismissal of a Guam abuse case
“The Vatican is using a New York court’s recent decision to bolster its push for the dismissal of a Guam case that seeks to hold the Holy See responsible for former Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron’s alleged sexual assault of a child. California-based attorney Jeffrey Lena said the New York court ‘supports dismissal with prejudice of all claims against the Holy See.’” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Guam Daily Post


Survivors, advocates push Italian bishops for national abuse inquiry
“A collective of abuse survivors and advocacy groups have published an open letter to the Italian bishops, who are meeting to elect new leadership, calling for the adoption of several measures aimed at acknowledging the problem and prevention. ‘Abuses perpetrated within the Church affects people in their bodies, in their lives, in their conscience: they are violations of human rights. If the Church does not respect human rights, it cannot preach the Gospel,’ the letter said.” By Elise Ann Allen,


Catholic diocese in Poland to pay compensation to victim of child sex abuse by priest
“The Catholic diocese of Kalisz has been ordered by a court to pay 300,000 zloty (€65,000) to a man who was abused as a child by one of its priests. The case is one of a number relating to sexual abuse in Poland’s Catholic church that have come to light in recent years. It has drawn particular attention because the victim, Bartłomiej Pankowiak, and his brother Jakub, who was also abused, confronted the priest in a documentary film broadcast in 2020.” By


Portugal’s clergy abuse commission wants more help from church officials
“After four months of activity, an independent commission created by the Portuguese bishops to investigate child abuse has received at least 326 allegations of abuse. The fact that 214 of them were collected within the first month of operation demonstrates that there has been a significant decline in the rhythm of testimonies over the past few months. Some of the group’s members are now calling on the country’s bishops to better publicize their work and encourage abuse victims to come forward. It was the initiative of the Portuguese bishops’ conference to create the commission, a decision taken in November 2021 after the release of a report on abuse and cover-up in the French church shocked many across Europe.” By Eduardo Campos Lima, National Catholic Reporter


Carmelite fathers show strong commitment to child safety
“A safeguarding audit report of the Carmelite Fathers Australia and Timor-Leste published today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd has found a strong commitment to child safety across the religious institute’s operations. The audit assessed the Carmelite Fathers’ progress in implementing the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards, a framework for the safety and protection of children in Catholic organizations. The Carmelite Fathers’ work in Australia serves communities across a variety of operations, including administering three parishes in partnership with local dioceses, working as chaplains in hospitals and schools, and running a spirituality and retreat centre. Since 2001, the Carmelite Fathers have also provided ministries in Timor-Leste focused on forming young men as seminarians.” By

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Francis’ clergy abuse law, ‘Vos Estis’ isn’t working. Here’s how to fix it.

Our assessment so far of Vos Estis, based on the cases we’ve tracked in Poland, the United States, and elsewhere: Too few bishops have been found guilty, they’ve been punished too lightly, and next to no information about their misdeeds has been disclosed.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter

“Three years ago, as the Catholic Church faced an unprecedented reckoning with clergy sexual abuse, Pope Francis introduced a church law that promised to hold bishops and religious superiors accountable for abuse that they commit or cover up.

“Entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (‘You Are the Light of the World’), the law was touted by papal spokesmen as a turning point in the fight to end child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

“It’s ‘revolutionary,’ said Chicago Cardinal Blase Cupich.

“‘The silence, omertà and cover-ups can now become a thing of the past,’ said Maltese Archbishop Charles Scicluna, the pope’s trusted abuse investigator.

Vos Estis, a motu proprio that was signed on May 9, 2019, was originally enacted for a three-year trial period that ends this June 1. As we wait to see if Francis will now make the law permanent, it is a good time to assess what will likely be this pope’s most significant response to the Catholic abuse crisis.

So far, the Vatican has released no information about the number or names of bishops investigated under Vos Estis. has been able to identify 28 cases where it has been used to process allegations of cover-up or abuse by bishops. We hope it is being used more widely than this — there are 5,600 living Catholic bishops! — but we can’t be sure.

By Anne Barrett Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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By closing Catholic News Service, bishops show they’ve lost interest in civic engagement

No, the deeper – and in some ways worse – problem is that the bishops have lost their own commitment to civic engagement, of which the responsibility for providing reliable information is so integral a part.

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

The decision by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to close down Catholic News Service was terrible in terms of lowering the standards of Catholic journalism. It was terrible, also, because of its ecclesial significance, which is a related but different concern, one that strikes at a deeper issue for the nation’s bishops. 

The commentary from Fordham University’s David Gibson, published here at NCR, touched on some of the reasons why closing Catholic News Service was ill-advised pastorally. Gibson observed that CNS is “a counterwitness to the proliferation of ideologically driven Catholic media platforms that are driving the church apart, and regular Catholics around the bend — often right out of Catholicism.” That is surely true. 

It is also clear that not enough bishops were alarmed by the prospect that the only remaining wire service specifically focused on news about the Catholic Church in the United States would be the Catholic News Agency, a subsidiary of EWTN. More bishops need to adopt the posture taken by Bishop Christopher Coyne of Burlington, Vermont, a former chair of the bishops’ Committee on Communications. “In Burlington, we don’t want anything to do with CNA because of its affiliation with EWTN and the anti-Francis rhetoric on the network,” Coyne told America magazine recently. 

By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

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In closing Catholic News Service, U.S. bishops undermine their pastoral work / National Catholic Reporter

So many of the Catholic media outlets that are opposed to Francis and Vatican II exist only to promote their views, not to report, write, edit and publish Catholic news, and the truth as we can best ascertain it.

By David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter

“That Catholic News Service was the first to report on its own demise was both a tribute to the legacy of the 102-year-old outlet’s editorial independence and perverse proof of what a bone-headed decision the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made in opting to gut CNS.

“The May 4 announcement that effectively shutters CNS’ domestic operations eliminates a rare source of credibility for the hierarchy, a critical tool for reliably informing American Catholics about the church beyond their own diocese, and a counterwitness to the proliferation of ideologically driven Catholic media platforms that are driving the church apart, and regular Catholics around the bend — often right out of Catholicism.

“According to the news service, staffers were told that the core operations in Washington and New York were to be shuttered and that only the Vatican bureau would be retained. (CNS also wrote that USCCB Publishing, which holds the rights to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the U.S. Adult Catechism and many other books, will cease its publishing operations at the end of 2022.) How even that isolated remnant in Rome can actually work, or whether it will survive, remains to be seen, as they say in television.”

By David Gibson, National Catholic Reporter — Read more ...

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Ministry & Governance: What might ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ have started / Commonweal

Gianfranco Ghirlando {Pontifical Gregorian University emeritus professor of canon law) made this striking change even clearer at a March 21 press conference, saying that ‘the power of governance in the Church does not come from orders, but from one’s mission.’ Governance becomes linked to canonical mission, which one is eligible for through baptism—not from the power of orders …

By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal

“There is great rejoicing in heaven today, or at least in that little corner where Yves Congar is still toiling away. No other twentieth-century Catholic theologian was so insistent on the close connection between baptism and mission. Now that Pope Francis has made clear in his motu proprio, Praedicate evangelium, that because “the Pope, bishops and other ordained ministers are not the only evangelizers in the church,” and “any member of the faithful can preside over a dicastery,” Congar’s great work, Lay People in the Church, comes to full fruition.

“Jesuit Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlando made this striking change even clearer at a March 21 press conference, saying that “the power of governance in the Church does not come from orders, but from one’s mission.” Governance becomes linked to canonical mission, which one is eligible for through baptism—not from the power of orders, as John Paul II had said in the previous curial reform. Now, in principle, all levels of Church governance are open to any Catholic, male or female. But there are two questions to be asked about the implications of the change for the role of ordained ministry. First, what is left for ordained ministry if governance is removed from the job description? And second, how, if at all, can we reconnect ministry and governance for the good of the Church?

“Pope Francis has long wanted the ordained to give more attention to pastoral concerns and spend less time managing a complex institution like a parish or diocese. Given the growing shortage of ordained ministers, this surely makes good sense—except, of course, that just as the pope has now made clear that there is no essential connection between ordination and governance, so it is also evident that there is no essential connection between ordination and pastoral activities.”

By Paul Lakeland, Commonweal — Read more …

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Voice of the Faithful at 20: Women’s Voices

By Svea Fraser, VOTF trustee and chair of Women’s Emerging Voices

Listen. Can you hear the sound of voices getting louder in support of women’s roles in the Church?

For 20 years VOTF has championed the change for women to be fully recognized as equals in the Church. We took advantage of every opportunity to raise awareness of the needs that would be better met when women have a place at the table. Resources on the website included articles, papers, videos, cards, templates for letter writing and books. One book in particular gave us a laser focus for our ongoing efforts.

The groundbreaking work of theologian Dr. Phyllis Zagano published in the book Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (by Gary Macy, Phyllis Zagano and William T. Ditewig) was a wakeup call for many of us. A free study guide made it possible to hold group discussion groups across the country. We learned things we never knew about women deacons in our faith tradition. Two points were of great significance:

  1. Women ministered as deacons in the past.
  2. The permanent order of deacons is clearly distinct from priestly ordination.

With increasing awareness, we began discussing women deacons at webinars, at lectures, and among networking groups. Women began to ask the question, “What can we do?” Our VOTF Women’s Working Group invited others from across the continent to advocate for women and ultimately formed an “advocacy network.” Invested in our faith communities and ministering in diaconal ways, we were buoyed by others who shared our pains and hopes for inclusion. As we shared these stories, we changed the working group title from “Women’s Roles” to “Women’s Emerging Voices” to better reflect our work.

At the same time, other voices were rising in support of women and their status in the Church: at the meeting of the International Union of Superiors General, at the Amazonian Synod, and in a papal-appointed Commission to study the issue.

In Durham, N.C., another voice also attracted our attention. That was the voice of Casey Stanton, the mother of two young children and holder of a Master of Divinity degree with a certificate in prison studies. When Casey encountered incarcerated women in her prison ministry, she came face to face with the reality of abuse and violence leveled against women.

During Mass one day, Casey made a connection: Because only men preach and preside at Mass, could the implicit message that men are more important than women contribute to their treatment as “less than”? What does our Catholic Liturgy say about women?

Casey wondered if other women wrestled with the same issue, and if they shared her strong vocational desire to preach the Gospel. She initiated conversations to find out. Each individual encounter affirmed that she was not alone. Also affirmed was a feeling that women’s stories needed to be told. From this grew a desire for a liturgical service to engage others in praying and sharing and listening together.

Saint Phoebe’s Feast Day on September third provided an ideal opportunity for a Virtual Prayer Service. Phoebe is the only person named a deacon (in Greek) in the New Testament, yet she was unknown to many of us. Her name is unspoken because the passage from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 16:1-2 is excluded from both Sunday and weekly lectionary cycles. Saint Phoebe also suffers the indignity of her Feast Day having been replaced by Pope Gregory I.

The first prayer service attracted 500 participants. Four women spoke of their heartfelt callings to minister as deacons, and their deeply felt emotions brought tears of recognition. The experience set hearts on fire.

Thus emerged a movement, a defined mission, and an informative website was created, under the name Discerning Deacons.

VOTF found common ground with Discerning Deacons: Our goals and mission statements harmonized. We joined in collaboration and mutual support. VOTF’s “advocacy network” began to call itself a “Deacon Circle.”

The success and spirited activity that followed is a testament to the power of prayer, the value of story-telling, the dedication of faithful disciples, and the overarching belief that the Holy Spirit will not deny what the Church needs.

The second Virtual St. Phoebe Prayer Service on September 3, 2021, registered 1,500 people from around the world.

From this side of the world, we sponsored an international delegation to Rome: five women from Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, and the United States. With the words of St. Paul in mind when he commended his sister Phoebe to be “welcomed in the Lord as is fitting for the saints,” we sent our group with our prayers and an image of St. Phoebe preaching to the faith community.

I believe that Saint Phoebe is interceding on behalf of women today. The Rome delegation was invited to a front row seat at Pope Francis’ weekly audience. When Ellie Hidalgo (a co-director of Discerning Deacons) presented the image of St. Phoebe to the Pope, he accepted it with a smile. And when Sr. Cira Mees told him about her ministry in the Amazon, he looked at her and said, “Firme! Adelante!” (“Keep going forward with inner strength.”). The women were truly welcomed and received “in the Lord.”

As climactic as that event was for us, the story gets better.

In an unprecedented moment in the history of the Church, Pope Francis in 2021 called for a Synod on Synodality. He wants to hear from all the people, both Catholics and non-Catholics, to discern the Holy Spirit’s will for the Church.

When was the last time a pope asked you for your thoughts?

As ancient as synods are in the Church’s tradition, it is a puzzling word for most of us. Pope Francis explains it as simply journeying together. He invites us to walk together, tell our stories, and listen to the Holy Spirit—just as VOTF and Discerning Deacons have been doing all along! Without naming it, we have been synodal in the process of sharing, listening, and discerning.

An inaugural Mass on October 10, 2021, opened the Synodal path. The window for the laity to tell our hurts and hopes for the Church is open right now. Pope Francis wants to hear from you.

Both VOTF and Discerning Deacons, along with other groups and individuals, are offering listening sessions to share your thoughts. Go to the VOTF webpage “Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023” to register for the opportunity.

It is time to tell your story.

The Pope is listening

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

May 11, 2022


Pope mandates annual audit on protection of children from abuse
“Pope Francis on Friday (Apr. 29) asked for an annual audit evaluating how national Catholic Churches are implementing measures to protect children from clergy sexual abuse, saying that without more transparency the faithful will continue to lose trust. ‘Abuse in any form is unacceptable,’ Francis told members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was established in 2014 to promote best practices and a culture of safeguarding worldwide.” By Philip Pullella, Reuters

Women religious blaze new trails in roles of authority at the Vatican
“When Pope Francis met more than 850 religious sisters attending the International Union of Superiors General plenary meeting in Rome in 2019, the pope insisted that the chair for the body’s then-president, Sr. Carmen Sammut, be seated right next to him. At the time, both Sammut, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, and those in the room were touched by the pope’s deeply symbolic gesture to level the playing field. Now, as delegates from around the globe prepare to travel again to Rome for this year’s May 2-6 plenary, a wave of new appointments of sisters inside the Vatican has made it clear that Francis is backing that symbolism up with substantive changes and making room for more women religious to have a permanent seat at the table.” By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Vatican clears Polish Cardinal Dziwisz of abuse cover-up
“The Vatican has wrapped up its own investigation and dismissed allegations that Polish Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz had covered up cases of the sexual abuse of minors by clergy in his archdiocese. In a written statement released April 22, the Apostolic Nunciature in Poland said the Vatican found the cardinal had been ‘correct’ in his actions after it examined the findings of an investigation led by Italian Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, on

Expert says too many laity ignore abuse crisis because ‘it doesn’t affect them’
“When it comes to addressing the clerical sexual abuse, the role of the laity is central, according to experts. However, according to one of the Colombian lay women at the center of the country’s bishops’ response, too many people avoid addressing it, because they don’t think it is a problem that affects them. Ilva Myriam Hoyos, former Colombian attorney general for children, adolescents and family, is the head of the bishops’ working group for the protection of minors.” By Inés San Martin,

Pope warns of lost trust without more abuse accountability
Pope Francis gave a new mandate to his sex abuse advisory commission Friday (Apr. 29), telling its members to work with bishops around the world to establish special welcome centers for victims and to audit the church’s progress on fighting abuse from its new perch within the Vatican. Francis warned that without more transparency and accountability from the church, the faithful would continue to lose trust in the Catholic hierarchy after decades of revelations about priests who raped and molested children and bishops and religious superiors who covered up those crimes.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press


Voice of the Faithful puts children first with new study of dioceses’ child protection efforts
“Voice of the Faithful has published the first independent, online review of all U.S. Roman Catholic dioceses’ level of compliance with child protection and safe environment guidelines. The average overall score was 67%, with the most frequently achieved score 63.5%. Although some dioceses did well, no diocese achieved 100%, and three dioceses scored in the 20s. Click here to read the entire report. The study is the first independent analysis of child protection and safe environment policies in all U.S. dioceses.” By Voice of the Faithful on Religion News Service Press Service

Cologne paid a million euros for priest’s gambling
“After several reports in the German secular media during Holy Week that the archdiocese of Cologne had paid more than €1m to settle a priest’s debts, including his gambling debts, the archdiocese confirmed the reports on Maundy Thursday. The money … was taken out of the special ‘bishop’s chair’ fund which is also used to pay the damages of clerical sexual abuse victims and to finance Archbishop Rainer Maria Woelki’s favourite project, the Cologne University for Catholic Theology (KHKT).” By Christa Pongratz-Lippitt, The Tablet


Synod on synodality to be ‘process of spiritual discernment,’ participants say
“The Vatican office organizing a major 2023 Vatican summit on synodality held a preparation meeting last week, saying the synod of bishops has already begun. ‘This synod was conceived not as an event that will take place in a moment, meaning October 2023: It has already begun, and this awareness has been assumed by all of us taking part in this assembly,’ said Colombian layman Oscar Elizalde, spokesman for CELAM, the Latin American bishops’ conference. ‘We are not preparing for the synod, it has already begun.’” By Inés San Martín,

Church seeks Synod insights from Anglican, Uniting events
“To help better understand the place of synodality in the Catholic Church, ecumenical leaders will attend national Uniting and Anglican gatherings this month to see how synodality works in those communities. The global Synod on Synodality has encouraged engagement with ecumenical and interfaith groups as part of the process leading towards the gathering in Rome in October 2023. The Australian Synod of Bishops committee reached out to the National Council of Churches Australia to see how the Catholic Church and other Christian communities could walk together in their synodal journeys.” By


Pope Francis vows new start in fight against clerical sex abuse
“Pope Francis said Friday (Apr. 29) changes to an advisory body on preventing sexual abuse represented a fresh start in the fight against pedophile priests, but conceded ‘much remains to be done.’ The pope in March moved the Commission for the Protection of Minors into the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office, which oversees the church’s investigations of abuse cases, in a bid to give it the institutional power critics said it was lacking. The reform ‘marks a new beginning,’ the 85-year-old told commission members at the conclusion of their plenary meeting Friday.” By Agence France-Presse on Phillipines.Lics.News

Pope Francis updates canon law on dismissal from religious institutes
“Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter on Tuesday (Apr. 26) bringing Church law up to date on the rules for dismissal from religious institutes, in light of the updated penal law on sanctions related to clerical sexual abuse and other crimes. The letter, known as Recognitum librum VI and issued motu proprio (on the pope’s ‘own impulse’) on April 26, modifies one sentence from canon 695 of the Code of Canon Law.” By Courtney Mares, Catholic News Agency


Are lay cardinals next?
“Pope Francis is reorganizing the Vatican Curia — the church’s administrators and his senior staff — and may name new cardinals in June. Francis’ new apostolic constitution, ‘Praedicate Evangelium’ (‘Preach the Gospel’), issued last month, noted that the heads of dicasteries and other offices that manage the church need not be ordained. This highlighted Francis’ stated aim to give ‘more space’ to women in the church. Most of the important dicasteries are as a matter of fact headed by cardinals. But if any Catholic can head a curial office, the question becomes, does the title come with the job? More importantly, is the title needed to do the job?” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service


Spanish bishops say they won’t participate in national clerical abuse inquiry
“Spain’s bishops announced Friday (Apr. 29) that they will not take part in an independent commission into clerical sexual abuse created by the national legislature, alleging, among other things, that the commission won’t look into all sexual abuse of minors but only those committed by members of the Catholic Church. ‘We want to state that to carry out an investigation of abuses only in the church, when it is clear that out of 15,000 open cases in Spain, only 69 refer to the church, is a surprising decision,’ said Bishop Luis Argüello, spokesman of the Spanish bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martin,

After tense year of debates, U.S. bishops to gather for retreat in June
“The U.S. Catholic bishops will gather for a retreatlike special assembly this summer in San Diego to focus on episcopal unity after a tense year and a half in which deep divisions surfaced among prelates over the issue of denying Communion to pro-choice Catholic politicians — including President Joe Biden. There will be no public session for the June 2022 meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops because the normal assembly business of committee reports and presentations are being set aside for prayer, reflection and episcopal fraternity, a spokeswoman for the conference told NCR.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter


Irish priest appointed to senior Vatican role investigating abuse
“An Irish priest, Msgr John Kennedy has been put in charge by Pope Francis of leading investigations into child abuse allegations against the Catholic clergy worldwide. The 53-year-old monsignor is the new secretary of the disciplinary section at the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, which has responsibility for dealing with credible allegations against clergy. He had been serving at the office since being appointed there by Pope Francis in 2017 and his appointment is part of a major shake-up of the Vatican curia being undertaken by Pope Francis.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times


Argentine nuns accuse archbishop, others of gender violence
“Several feminist groups are calling for protests May 3 in support of a community of cloistered nuns who have caused shockwaves by accusing the archbishop of a northern Argentine province and other church officials of gender-based psychological and physical violence. The pairing of feminists and Carmelite nuns is unusual in a country at the forefront of Latin America’s women’s movement where activists are often at odds with the Roman Catholic Church. The support illustrates how rare it is for this type of dispute to make it to the courts.” By Almudena Calatrava, The Associated Press, in Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Editorial: Thanks to Network for 50 years of lobbying for the common good
“It is not an overstatement to say that some 17.5 million formerly uninsured Americans now have health insurance thanks, in large part, to a group of Catholic sisters. Network, a Catholic social justice lobby of religious women, was instrumental in the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act, which dramatically reduced the number of uninsured Americans. That is just one of the group’s many accomplishments over the past five decades. Network, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this month, has tirelessly worked for the common good, and the country is a better place for its having done so.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff


Should women be ordained Catholic deacons?
“In 2020, Pope Francis created a second Vatican commission to consider ordaining women as deacons—clergy who may read the gospel and preach at Mass, baptize, witness marriages, preside at funerals, and work with the needy. (A prior commission had ended two years earlier with no action taken by the Vatican.) One media report said the move signified that ‘women deacons in the Catholic Church are closer to reality than ever before.’ Correction: women deacons were reality in the early church.” By Rich Barlow, Bostonia, Boston University Alumni Magazine


Vatican backs Cardinal Woelki over abuse study contracts
“The Vatican has ruled that the German Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki did not breach canon law when awarding contracts connected to a landmark report on clerical abuse. The Archdiocese of Cologne announced the Vatican’s decision on May 3, reported CNA Deutsch, CNA’s German-language news partner. During a seven-month ‘period of spiritual leave’ taken by the cardinal, the apostolic administrator of the archdiocese commissioned two independent canon lawyers to study the contracts awarded by Woelki and vicar general Msgr. Markus Hofmann.” By Catholic News Agency Staff


Rome on a Mission: Pope Francis’ reform of the Curia
“This, at last, is the reform ‘strongly wished for by most of the cardinals gathered in the pre-conclave general congregations’ in 2013, as Praedicate recalls at the end of its preamble. The date of the constitution’s release—March 19, the ninth anniversary of Pope Francis’s inaugural Mass—is a reminder of those days, when cardinals in the wake of Benedict’s resignation stood up, one after another, to urge the next pope to turn a dysfunctional, inward-looking court of self-aggrandizing cronies into an effective, outward-looking organism of service to the whole Church.” By Austen Ivereigh, Commmonweal


Vatican trial places pope, top aides at center of London deal
“The former director of the Vatican’s financial watchdog agency testified Wednesday (Apr. 27) that Pope Francis asked him to help the Vatican secretariat of state get full control of a London property, once again putting the pope and his top deputies in the spotlight for their roles in the problematic deal. Tommaso Di Ruzza is one of 10 people accused in the Vatican’s sprawling financial trial, which is centered on the secretariat of state’s 350 million euro investment in a luxury London property. Vatican prosecutors have accused brokers and Vatican officials of fleecing the Holy See of millions of euros in fees, much of it donations from the faithful, and then extorting the Vatican of 15 million euros to get full control of the property.” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press


Stephen Mills: Don’t tell us it’s too late to get justice
“Take it from me, the aftershocks of child sexual abuse last a lifetime. I’m 66, and the sexual violence I experienced at age 13 — a near-death experience, really — can still grip my body and mind when I least expect it. I thought I’d be released when my abuser died. But that happened 30 years ago. Then I was sure I just needed to find the right meds, the right therapy, the right spiritual practice. No, no and no.” By Stephen Mills, Trib Live

What kind of Catholics are we?
What does it mean to be a vowed Dominican Sister, a member of the Order of Preachers within a church that largely rejects women preaching in liturgical settings? Lucky for me, I am blessed with a high tolerance for perceived contradictions. In fact, it was my penchant for incongruities that, after 25 years as a non-practicing Catholic, drew me back into the fold. For me, the endurance, scope and coherence of the Catholic tradition belie a profound underlying Truth that enables me to live with the inherent, sometimes painful, contradictions of the church.” By Quincy Howard, Globe Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

Troubling past: the Church’s role in America’s Indian boarding school era
“The doll is about 6 inches tall, handcrafted of red leather, with a tan belt and headband around its long black hair. It’s a male warrior, holding a bow. ‘This is actually me,’ D. Richard Wright said of the doll. The parishioner of Gichitwaa Kateri in south Minneapolis made it as part of an effort to process recent findings in Canada of what are believed to be hundreds of graves of children on the sites of former indigenous residential schools. Some Twin Cities American Indians — mostly women — gathered together to make ‘spirit dolls’ representing the children in some of those graves, resulting in an exhibit called ‘215+’ that was on view from November to January at Indigenous Roots in St. Paul.” By Maria Wiering, The Catholic Spirit


California Catholic dioceses ask Supreme Court to hear statute of limitations extension case
“California Catholic bishops are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to consider a case challenging the state for permitting victims of childhood sexual abuse to file claims again, after the timeframe for them to pursue legal action has expired twice. Nine California Catholic dioceses and archdioceses filed a petition for writ of certiorari, or a petition to review a lower court’s decision, in the case — Roman Catholic Bishop of Oakland v. Superior Court of California for Los Angeles — on April 15.” By Katie Yoder, Catholic News Agency, on

Iowa’s dangerous safe base for abusers
“The game of tag is one of the most classic outdoor childhood games. Although it has many versions, traditionally speaking, one player is ‘it’ and must tag other players to eliminate them. Generally, players cannot be tagged out if they are on the ‘safe base.’ Kids often complain and holler that the safe base is unfair. They have a point. There is ‘safe base’ in Iowa, but it is a dangerous one. You see, Iowa law creates a safe zone for the absolute worst – sexual predators. A sexual predator may be out and held accountable in one jurisdiction but cross the state line into Iowa and they are safe. Why?” By Kathryn Robb and Kylie DeWees, The Gazette


A wounded healer speaks about the sexual abuse crisis
“In this new episode of Field Hospital, Jeannie Gaffigan and I had the privilege of speaking to Mark Joseph Williams, a survivor of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest who has undergone a long journey of healing and recovery. He now advocates for and accompanies other survivors as they seek the healing and justice they need after suffering the trauma and injustice they have endured. Professionally, Mark is a management consultant and a forensic social worker from New Jersey. He also serves as special advisor in the Archdiocese of Newark for Cardinal Joseph Tobin.” By Mark Lewis, The Field Hospital Podcate, on

Navarre will recognize the victims of abuses in Church already prescribed
“Navarre will enact a law to recognize as such the victims of pederasty in the Catholic Church, clarify the crimes committed by the members of this institution in the community and ‘contribute to a collective, democratic and critical memory’ about the problem. The draft of the law, to which this newspaper has had access, contemplates the creation of a ‘recognition commission’ composed of experts who will assess, during six years of work, the requests of people who claim to have suffered abuses by the clergy and want to benefit from the law.” By Julio Núñez, El Pais


Archdiocese of Chicago settles sex abuse claim against the Rev. George Clements: lawyer
“The Archdiocese of Chicago has reached an $800,000 settlement over claims of sexual abuse by the late Rev. George Clements, the famed Holy Angels pastor, and four other Chicago-area religious figures, according to lawyers representing the alleged abuse victims. An attorney for Clements’ now 54-year-old alleged victim called Tuesday (Apr. 26) for Cardinal Blase Cupich to place Clements on the archdiocese’s public list of ‘credibly accused priests.’ ‘The hiding has to stop. The secrecy has to stop,’ Boston-based attorney Mitch Garabedian told reporters.” By Stefano Esposito, C

Chicago Sun-Times


Judge rejects sex abuse plea deal for suspended Indy priest
“A judge rejected a proposed plea agreement for a suspended Catholic priest accused of sexually abusing a teenage boy in 2016 and instead set a trial date for the cleric Thursday (Apr. 21). Hamilton County Superior Court Judge Michael Casati threw out the deal that would have allowed David Marcotte to plead guilty to one count of dissemination of matter harmful to minor in exchange for the state dismissing charges of child solicitation and vicarious sexual gratification. Casati scheduled a jury trial for Oct. 10 on the three felony counts, WRTV-TV reported.” By Associated Press in The Goshen News


Lawrence priest suspended after child sex abuse allegation
“A former pastor at Catholic parishes in Lawrence and Eudora and on the Haskell Indian Nations University campus has been suspended from ministry following an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. According to March 25 issue of The Leaven, the official publication of the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas, the archdiocese learned on Feb. 28 that Father Michael Scully had been accused of sexual abuse. Upon notification, the archdiocese ‘relieved Father Scully from public exercise of priestly ministry’ until an investigation is complete.” By Andrea Albright, The Lawrence Times

Topeka man’s status as a priest now to be decided after DA opts not to file charges in abuse claim
“Now it knows a Topeka Roman Catholic priest accused last year of child sexual abuse won’t be charged criminally, his archdiocese says it will proceed with evaluating his status as a priest. Shawnee County District Attorney Mike Kagay has decided not to file charges against the Rev. John Pilcher after reviewing the results of an investigation conducted by the Kansas Bureau of Investigation, he told The Capital-Journal on Monday (Apr. 25).” By Tim Hrenchir, Topeka Capital-Journal


Priests accused of sexual abuse living at Jefferson County treatment center
Catholic priests and clergy accused of sexually abusing children are living under the radar at a Missouri treatment center. Tucked behind trees in a quiet neighborhood off Eime Road in Dittmer, MO, is a Catholic community shrouded in secrecy. ‘There’s some sick people over there,’ said Michael Stenzhorn, who lives just across the street. Signs outside the Vianney Renewal Center don’t say who lives there. ‘I believe there are hundreds if not thousands sex offender clergy who have been through that place,’ said David Clohessy, the Missouri Volunteer Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).” Stenzhorn says for years his family was in the dark.” By KFVS-TV12 News


Abuse survivors and Catholic Diocese of Rochester face off in bankruptcy court
“The Rochester Catholic Diocese is being accused of acting in bad faith. Sex abuse survivors are frustrated the diocese bankruptcy case is still not settled. When they joined the case, their civil lawsuits against individual parishes and priests were frozen. After three years without a settlement, they now want to be able to proceed with those lawsuits. Brian Delafranier, a survivor of the abuse, said him and other victims deserve to be compensated for the abuse they suffered.” By Ginny Ryan, WHAM-TV13 News

Court: Albany diocese must release priest treatment files
“A recent court ruling has opened the door to the release of psychological treatment records of priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany accused of child sexual abuse. The Albany Times-Union reported the ruling came in a lawsuit by an alleged abuse victim from the 1980s who sought records detailing the treatment received by the Rev. Edward Pratt and other priests. The diocese had argued that the records were subject to patient-physician privilege, but the appeals court wrote last Thursday that the privilege was waived because the priests’ records had been shared with then-Bishop Howard J. Hubbard.” By Associated Press


Archdiocesan priest accused of inappropriately touching minor in 2018
“A report to the Archdiocese of Denver states that an archdiocesan priest inappropriately touched a minor a single time back in 2018. The inappropriate touching occurred in a public space when the young girl was exiting church immediately after Mass had ended. According to the Archdiocese of Denver, the church followed its Code of Conduct and the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People and immediately reported the allegation to authorities.” By Morgan Whitley, FOX-TV31 News


Diocese of Toledo Announces Final Decision Regarding Reverend Nelson Beaver
“The Diocese of Toledo is announcing the final decision regarding Rev. Nelson Beaver, who was placed on administrative leave in October 2018 having received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor dating back over 25 years. Three other allegations of sexual abuse of a minor from a similar time period were subsequently made against Beaver … In October, 2019, the diocese announced that the investigation had been completed, the Diocesan Review Board found all four allegations to be substantiated and voted unanimously that Beaver is not suitable for priestly ministry. Bishop Daniel E. Thomas accepted the Review Board’s recommendation …” By Diocese of Toledo


Lawsuit: Knoxville diocese mishandled sex abuse claim
“A lawsuit says the Catholic Diocese of Knoxville mishandled a report about allegations that a priest sexually abused a parishioner. The lawsuit filed in Sevier County says Father Antony D. Punnackal locked an adult female plaintiff in a room on Feb. 17, 2020, and fondled her, the Knoxville News Sentinel reported. Police allegedly informed the diocese about the allegations against Punnackal before he was indicted by a grand jury, but no action was taken until the indictment, the complaint states.” By Associated Press


Archdiocese of Seattle settles two sex abuse claims for $375,000
“The Archdiocese of Seattle said Thursday (Apr. 28) it will pay $375,000 to settle two separate claims of sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s. The Roman Catholic archdiocese said in a news release that it settled a case involving allegations of childhood sexual abuse in the early to mid-1970s by David Pearson, a volunteer at St. Joseph Parish in Issaquah. Pearson has died. The archdiocese also said it settled a case involving an allegation of sexual abuse by Father Paul Conn in about 1987 when he served at Queen of Angels Parish in Port Angeles.” By Associated Press


New portal will assess, improve safeguarding
“A new portal launched today by Australian Catholic Safeguarding Limited will help Catholic organizations measure their progress in applying the National Catholic Safeguarding Standards. Marking the launch of the portal, ACSL CEO Ursula Stephens described it as a crucial resource for entities wanting to understand where their current safeguarding standards are in relation to best practice. ‘It is intuitive, easy to navigate and use and will be invaluable to safeguarding personnel everywhere. The portal we have developed will help Catholic entities to meet their own legislative safeguarding requirements in a timely way,’ Dr Stephens said.” By


Sex abuse case sparks Ottawa to assert papal ambassador’s diplomatic immunity
“Three weeks after Pope Francis apologized for Catholic residential school abuses, Ottawa issued a diplomatic immunity certificate for the pope’s ambassador who faced a lawyer’s demand for records in other Catholic school sexual and physical abuse allegations. ‘Clearly, that consent is not forthcoming, because the certificate was issued,’ Sandra Kovacs, lawyer for complainant Mark O’Neill said. ‘This position is not surprising, particularly in light of the frustration also expressed by residential school survivors, who have asked Pope Francis for unfettered access to records with the Vatican’s missionary department, too,’ Kovacs said.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique Newsmagazine


Brooklyn diocese settles sex abuse lawsuit vs. Filipino bishop
“The Diocese of Brooklyn has settled a lawsuit against the late Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, accused of sexual abuse of a minor when he was a visiting clergy in St. Francis de Sales Church in Belle Harbor in New York in the early 1970s. According to Road to Recovery, Inc., a non-profit in New Jersey that assists victims of sexual abuse, Father Gutierrez sexually abused a minor child parishioner of St. Francis de Sales Parish on approximately six occasions from around 1970 until 1971 when the boy was about 11 to 12 years old.” By Cristina D.C. Pastor, The FilAm Magazine


Member of Catholic order in Singapore who committed sex acts on two teenage boys jailed 5 years
“A man who was part of a Catholic religious order that established a school in Singapore, was sentenced to five years’ jail on Thursday (May 5) for committing unlawful sexual acts with two teenage boys. The Singaporean, who The Straits Times understands is not a priest, pleaded guilty to one charge of voluntarily having carnal intercourse against the order of nature and one charge under the Children and Young Persons Act. Two other charges were taken into consideration during sentencing.” By Samuel Devaraj, Straits Times

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New Vatican constitution will create more space at the table / U.S. Catholic

An interview with scholar Phyllis Zagano on the new constitution and the roles of women in the church.

U.S. Catholic

“On March 19 Pope Francis issued a new apostolic constitution for the Roman Curia, the offices that help him govern the Catholic Church. Praedicate Evangelium (Preach the Gospel) has been in the works since the beginning of Pope Francis’ pontificate nine years ago. It is slated to go into effect on June 5, replacing the charter Pastor Bonus (The Good Shepherd) that was promulgated by St. Pope John Paul II in 1988. The completion of this constitution signifies an important milestone in Pope Francis’ ongoing work of making the church more pastoral, synodal, and inclusive.

“One significant change in the new constitution is that leadership of Vatican offices traditionally run by cardinals is now opened to all baptized laypersons. This includes women.

“According to internationally acclaimed scholar Phyllis Zagano, this move is less about making changes to women’s roles in ministry than it is about the pope’s determination to involve as many competent people as possible in the management structure of the church.

“Zagano is a senior research associate-in-residence and adjunct professor of religion at Hofstra University. She is the author of 23 books, including Women Deacons: Past, Present, Future (with Gary Macy and William T. Ditewig) (Paulist Press), Women in Ministry: Emerging Questions About the Diaconate (Paulist Press), Women Deacons? Essays with Answers (Liturgical Press), and Women: Icons of Christ (Paulist Press). She is a leading expert on the history of women in the church and an advocate for the ordination of women to the diaconate.”

U.S. Catholic interview with Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., — Read more …

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Pope mandates annual audit on protection of children from abuse / Reuters

Francis said he wanted a yearly “reliable account on what is presently being done and what needs to change” to protect children and vulnerable adults from predator clergy.

By Philip Pullella, Reuters

“Pope Francis on Friday asked for an annual audit evaluating how national Catholic Churches are implementing measures to protect children from clergy sexual abuse, saying that without more transparency the faithful will continue to lose trust.

“‘Abuse in any form is unacceptable,’ Francis told members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which was established in 2014 to promote best practices and a culture of safeguarding worldwide.

“The commission had a rocky start, with several members resigning in frustration, complaining that it had no teeth and that they had met internal resistance.

“It was given a new lease on life in March, when the Vatican’s updated constitution placed it in the doctrinal department, which rules on abuse cases.

“Francis said he wanted a yearly “reliable account on what is presently being done and what needs to change” to protect children and vulnerable adults from predator clergy.”

By Philip Pullella, Reuters — Read more …

Click hear to read Voice of the Faithfuls recently released “2022 Report: Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices,” which studied the level of diocesan compliance with child protection guidelines.

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Women religious blaze new trails in roles of authority at the Vatican / Global Sisters Report

Much of the change has been fueled at the top by Pope Francis, who in his nearly decadelong papacy has repeatedly elevated the work of religious women. 

By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter

“When Pope Francis met more than 850 religious sisters attending the International Union of Superiors General plenary meeting in Rome in 2019, the pope insisted that the chair for the body’s then-president, Sr. Carmen Sammut, be seated right next to him.

“At the time, both Sammut, a Missionary Sister of Our Lady of Africa, and those in the room were touched by the pope’s deeply symbolic gesture to level the playing field.

“Now, as delegates from around the globe prepare to travel again to Rome for this year’s May 2-6 plenary, a wave of new appointments of sisters inside the Vatican has made it clear that Francis is backing that symbolism up with substantive changes and making room for more women religious to have a permanent seat at the table.

“‘Change takes time,’ said Sr. Patricia Murray, executive secretary of the International Union of Superiors General, which represents 600,000 sisters from around the globe.”

By Christopher White, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter — Read more ...

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