Archive for August, 2022

Report: Catholic clergy’s unquestioned – and uneducated – power spurs abuse / Religion News Service

(Paul J.) Schutz (of Santa Clara University) told Religion News Service that their aim was to understand how ‘structural clericalism operates in the church,’ comparing clericalism to the way structural racism shapes the lives of people of color.

By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service

“A new report based on interviews with some 300 Catholic priests, nuns and laypeople concludes that clergy aren’t adequately prepared to wield the power they exercise and need more education on questions of sex and gender.

“The report, ‘Beyond Bad Apples: Understanding Clericalism as a Structural Problem & Cultivating Strategies for Change,’ released Monday (Aug. 15), explores the links between clericalism — clergy’s focus on its authority — and clergy-perpetrated sexual abuse. 

“The study’s authors, Julie Hanlon Rubio and Paul J. Schutz, both professors at Santa Clara University, a Jesuit institution in Northern California, initially intended to survey 600 respondents, drawn proportionally from lay, religious (those who take vows but are not ordained to the priesthood) and priests, but were turned away by five of the six dioceses and diocesan seminaries they approached.”

By Alejandra Molina, Religion News Service — Read more …

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In synod reports, US Catholics call for women’s leadership, LGBTQ welcoming / National Catholic Reporter

Still, the estimated 650,000 synod participants represent a little more than 1% of the roughly 51 million Catholic adults in the United States. The diocesan reports indicate that about two-thirds of those who attended listening sessions were 55 or older, and that most of those participants were women. An overwhelming majority of synodal participants were also white — 94% in the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, for example — and were more likely to be married and attend Mass weekly.

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

“More than a half million U.S. Catholics have participated in synodal listening sessions over the past year as part of Pope Francis’ two-year process of grassroots listening ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome, and responses indicate that many Americans want a more welcoming church that reaches out to the marginalized, especially the LGBTQ community, and that allows women to serve in leadership positions, including ordained ministry.

“A review of more than a dozen synodal ‘synthesis’ reports, posted online by dioceses across the country, also indicates that most Catholics are tired of the polarization in the church; believe that clerics need to do a better job communicating and involving the laity in ecclesial governance; and appreciate the opportunity to be heard, even if they harbor misgivings about what the Synod on Synodality will ultimately accomplish.

“‘I’ve been really touched by the amount of honesty that I’ve seen. Sensitive things are coming up, difficult conversations about difficult topics are coming up,’ said Julie McStravog, a consultant helping to coordinate the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ synodal work.

“McStravog told NCR that since fall 2021, more than 650,000 Catholics in the United States participated in synodal listening sessions, either online or in person, or responded to written surveys. In all, she said Catholics had more than 30,000 opportunities to participate in the synod.

“‘I’m delighted to see that every single report I’ve read expresses an appreciation for and a desire to continue the synodal listening, to enter into a sacred space and engage in deep listening and discernment with one another on a regular basis,’ McStravog said.

By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter — Read more …

Read Voice of the Faithful’s Synod report by clicking here …

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The USCCB’s 2021 Annual Compliance “Audit”

The victims of these historical allegations are now adults and their abuse occurred in decades past. Delayed disclosure of child sex abuse is a common phenomenon when survivors wait for years, even decades, before disclosing to others that they have been victims of childhood sexual abuse.

From article in Voice of the Faithful’s “In the Vineyard” e-newsletter, August 15, 2022

USCCB has released its 2021 Annual Report: Findings & Recommendations on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People (aka Charter Compliance Audit). The USCCB Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection released the so-called audit on July 12, 2022. The Annual Audit Report aims to measure diocesan compliance with the USCCB Charter for the Protection of Children. The Charter was adopted in 2002 by the U.S. bishops following widespread reports of clergy abuse and has been revised in 2005, 2011, and 2018. The fourth revision is forthcoming.

This iteration of the annual report is based on the audit findings of StoneBridge Business Partners and is available for viewing (2021 Annual Report). Note that it is dated MAY 2022 and covers the audit year of July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

This most recent audit reveals new cases of sexual misconduct by priests. Although there were few reports of new cases during this audit period, 30 new and substantiated allegations nationwide have been reported. Of the 30 new allegations involving minors, six were derived from four different dioceses. Nine other allegations are still under investigation; nine were unsubstantiated; five could not be proven; and one was referred to the provincial of a religious order. The Preface to the report indicates that offenders in substantiated allegations were removed from ministry and that “every” allegation was reported to law enforcement.

The number of allegations that are historical in nature still remained high during this audit period: 3,073. However, this number is 1,149 less than the number of historical allegations reported in the 2020 report. The victims of these historical allegations are now adults and their abuse occurred in decades past. Delayed disclosure of child sex abuse is a common phenomenon when survivors wait for years, even decades, before disclosing to others that they have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. 

The 2021 Audit process had been modified because the 2020 Audit report found dysfunction in diocesan review boards (DRB). The new audit format allowed for gathering more information on Charter requirements for DRB membership, DRB composition, DRB functions, and scheduled meetings. This audit included interviews of all or most DRB members from dioceses and eparchies that were visited personally by the auditors.

Article 2 of the Charter requires lay-run review boards that function as a confidential consultative body to the bishop or eparch. There were four instances of noncompliance with Article 2 of the Charter in this report: the Diocese of Corpus Christi, TX; the Diocese of Lafayette, LA; the Diocese of New Ulm, MN; and the Eparchy of Newton.  

These instances of noncompliance found in the 2021 Audit correspond with diocesan scores obtained on the 2022 VOTF Protection of Children Survey (VOTF POC Report 2022): Corpus Christi TX and Lafayette LA each received zero points in the DRB category; and New Ulm, MN received only 5 out of a possible 18 points in the category.

Auditors report that 192 dioceses and eparchies participated in the 2021 audit process but four did not participate. Although COVID-19 presented challenges to onsite visits, auditors completed 70 “onsite” audit visits: 35 dioceses were physically visited and 35 additional dioceses and eparchies were “visited” virtually. Data were collected from 122 other dioceses and eparchies and were included in this report.

Chapter 3 of this Report contains statistical survey data compiled by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA). One data set indicates a decrease of funds spent by dioceses and eparchies on costs related to allegations of clergy abuse for the fiscal year 2021. The grand total of those specific costs for fiscal year 2021 ($194,120,218 ) was 38% or $117,860,448 less than the grand total of those specific costs for fiscal year 2020 ($311,980,666).

StoneBridge Partners mentions additional child protection actions that can be taken by dioceses and eparchies that go beyond the specific requirements of the Charter. These include regular or “as needed” parish and school location audits by all dioceses and eparchies. The audit firm suggests the inclusion of visits and audits of parish and school during their onsite visits, especially within a diocese or eparchy that does not conduct their own audits. These actions would require instituting formal processes to periodically review documentation and compliance assessment with safe environment requirements. VOTF strongly supports the institution of formal diocesan and eparchial site visits to supplement the self-audit reports completed by parish and school locations.  

Another suggestion found in the StoneBridge comments section in Chapter 2 of the Report calls for implementing a policy for renewal of safe environment training for all clergy, employees, and volunteers on a periodic basis. Such a policy change towards mandated, periodic abuse prevention training emphasizes the necessity for ongoing prevention training. Periodic re-training can provide new information regarding the protection of children that has been developed from the last time participants were trained. Also suggested by the auditors is to set a time frame for periodic background check renewals. The 2022 VOTF Child Protection Survey report suggests that this be an annual process to ensure capturing the most up-to-date background information on those working and volunteering with minors.  

The Conclusion section in Chapter One comments on evidence that abuse prevention work and ministry must be ongoing to ensure youth safety and victim assistance. While many audit findings and comments indicate the need to bolster safe environments and child and youth protection efforts, the overall report does indicate progress and improvement in these efforts. 

Responses to VOTF’s 2022 VOTF Child Protection Survey from dioceses and bishops have been encouraging in this regard. Many dioceses and eparchies continue to look for suggestions and resources that will improve child safety efforts. Online resources and support continue to be provided by the Secretarial of Child and Youth Protection to assist dioceses and eparchies in their ministry to victims and to bolster safe environment training and education.

By Patricia T. Gomez, Ph.D., Co-chair, Voice of the Faithful Protection of Children Working Group

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Aug. 12, 2022

TOP STORIES

Detroit Catholic bishop halts public ministry after accusation he sexually assaulted boy
“A lawsuit filed this week alleges a Catholic bishop in Detroit who previously was a Vatican ambassador sexually assaulted a 12-year-old boy 25 times decades ago in Massachusetts. According to the suit filed Monday (Aug. 1) in Boston, Archbishop Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, 63, currently one of five auxiliary bishops in the Archdiocese of Detroit, raped the boy while Russell was a priest in the Archdiocese of Boston from 1989 to 1990. Pope Francis appointed Russell, formerly the Vatican’s ambassador to Turkey and Taiwan, to be a Detroit bishop in May and he assumed office last month.” By Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press

Portugal launches inquiries into alleged Catholic Church sexual abuse
“Portuguese prosecutors said on Thursday (Jul.28) they have launched 10 inquiries into alleged child sexual abuse by Catholic Church clergy, the first such move since a commission was created seven months ago to investigate accusations. A commission investigating child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy in the Iberian nation has collected around 350 testimonies since it started its work in January. It has said that number was ‘just the tip of the iceberg.’” By Catarina Demony, Reuters

Group’s report card shows many dioceses failing in financial transparency
“Before Voice of the Faithful prepared a report on diocesan finance councils, it gave dioceses a heads-up that it would be working on such a report and what it would be looking for when it visited the dioceses’ websites. The Massachusetts-based organization sent letters to diocesan bishops and chief financial officers of the 176 U.S. Latin-rite dioceses. Despite the advance notice, only 18 of the 176 dioceses got a grade of 60% or better — what the Voice of the Faithful considered a passing grade when it released the report July 13.” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service, on AngelusNews.com

German Catholics want expanded lay roles, greater tolerance for dissent
“In a new report summarizing the conclusions of a national consultation process among German Catholics, the country’s bishops state a desire for greater inclusion in the church of women and laypeople generally, as well as those who disagree on certain moral teachings. Titled ‘For a synodal Church – community, participation and mission,’ the report summarizes the conclusions of the German bishops’ conference’s ‘Synodal Path’ sent to the Synod of Bishops in Rome, ahead of a Synod of Bishops on Synodality at the Vatican next year.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com

Is threat of schism between the German bishops and the Vatican real?
“The Vatican is concerned with ideas coming from Germany to reform the Catholic Church. On July 21, a statement was published through official channels of the Holy See warning Germany’s ‘Synodal Path’ reform project against breaking with the universal church. Tensions are rising between Germany and Rome. Is the threat of schism real? First of all: No. Germany does not want to split with the Catholic Church. However, tensions seem higher than they ever have been before.” By Renardo Schlegelmilch, National Catholic Reporter

Church must undergo profound reform to survive, says French sociologist
“The Catholic Church may be at a turning point in its history, believes Danièle Hervieu-Léger, a leading French sociologist on religion. To survive in secularized Western societies, the institution will have to reform itself, she says. In a new book with fellow sociologist Jean-Louis Schlegel that came out this past spring, ‘Vers l’implosion? Entretiens sur le présent et l’avenir du catholicisme (‘Toward Implosion: Interviews on the Present and the Future of Catholicism’), she dissects the causes of the current model and suggests possible changes. The book has been generally well received in France.” By Catholic News Service on Cruxnow.com

ACCOUNTABILITY

Two-year-old lawsuit accusing Theodore McCarrick of repeatedly raping boy still pending in New Jersey
“One of the more graphic sexual abuse lawsuits against former cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick is still pending in New Jersey after the parties recently failed to settle the nearly two-year-old case, court filings show. The civil lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Newark in September 2020, accuses McCarrick of raping and sexually assaulting an unnamed adolescent boy on more than 50 occasions from 1985 to 1990. The lawsuit also names the Archdiocese of Newark and the Diocese of Metuchen as defendants, alleging that they failed to protect the boy from McCarrick while he led those New Jersey dioceses.” By Shannon Mullen, Catholic News Agency

Vatican’s reprimand falls disappointingly short
“The Vatican’s belated and inadequate reprimand of now-retired Yakima Bishop Carlos Sevilla shows that some church leaders still struggle to grasp the seriousness and complexity of the problem of clergy sexual abuse. It also shows that they feel little obligation to be transparent enough to reassure the community that local parishes are safe and that the church stands ready to hold clergy accountable for any misdeeds. Even now. Even after the church has had to answer for thousands of clergy around the world who’ve been plausibly accused of abusing young boys and girls over the years.” By Yakima Herald-Republic Editorial Board

FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION

‘Synodal spirit is alive in Africa,’ say speakers at major theological summit
“An old African proverb says that ‘until the lions have their own historians, the history of the hunt will always glorify the hunter.’ A second gathering of the Pan-African Catholic Congress on Theology, Society and Pastoral Life, which took place in Nairobi in July, showed that the lions are not only writing their own history now, but they are shaping their future — and also that of the global Catholic Church. In 1900, an estimated 2 million Catholics lived on the African continent. Today, that number stands at about 236 million.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Catholics’ reports on the state of the Church are in. Here’s what they have to say.
“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead. Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church. If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone.” By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service

POPE FRANCIS

Pope Francis is right. The Catholic Church cannot go backwards.
“During his press conference on the plane returning to Rome from Canada, Pope Francis made a remark about so-called traditionalists that rankled some conservative Catholics and confused others. ‘A church that does not develop its thinking in an ecclesial way is a church that goes backward,’ the pope said. ‘That is the problem of many today who claim to be traditionalists. They are not traditionalists, they are ‘backwardists.’ Tradition is the root of inspiration in order to go forward in the church.’ The operative word here, of course, is not ‘traditionalists’ or ‘backwardist,’ although the latter is expressive and accurate. The key word is ‘ecclesial.’” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Pope: Canadian residential schools were cultural ‘genocide’
“Pope Francis agreed Saturday (Jul. 30) that the attempt to eliminate Indigenous culture in Canada through a church-run residential school system amounted to a cultural ‘genocide.’ Speaking to reporters while en route home from Canada, Francis said he didn’t use the term during his trip to atone for the Catholic Church’s role in the schools because it never came to mind. Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission determined in 2015 that the forced removal of Indigenous children from their homes and placement in the residential schools to assimilate them constituted a ‘cultural genocide.’” By Nicole Winfield, Associated Press

CARDINALS

Another red hat for a McCarrick ally
“Four years have passed since Theodore McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals. We are still coping with the aftershocks of the scandal he caused. Moreover—the reason I write about this subject today—we are still coping with the clerical system that allowed that scandal to fester unchecked for so many years … Since that time, Pope Francis has named five bishops from the US to the College of Cardinals. Barring a dramatic last-minute change, Bishop Robert McElroy of San Diego will soon join Cardinals Cupich, Tobin, Farrell, and Gregory. All five have had close connections with McCarrick.” By Phil Lawler, CatholicCulture.org

BISHOPS

Bishop Libasci sex abuse lawsuit stalled over bankruptcy
“The New York lawsuit filed last year that accuses New Hampshire’s Bishop Peter Libasci of sexually abusing a child in the 1980s is stalled in court, with nothing happening in the case since it was filed last July. The reason for the inaction is the more than 500 other claims of abuse lodged against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre. The diocese filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2020, which put a halt on all the potential abuse lawsuits.” By Damien Fisher, InDepthNH.org

Bishop accused in lawsuit of abusing child in Lynn, Massachusetts, parish decades ago
“A former parishioner at a Massachusetts church has filed a lawsuit alleging he was sexually abused as a child more than 30 years ago by a Roman Catholic priest who is now an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of Detroit. The plaintiff, identified in court documents as John Doe No. 12, was a 12-year-old parishioner at Saint Mary of the Sacred Heart Parish in Lynn in 1989 and 1990 when he was sexually assaulted about 25 times by Paul Fitzpatrick Russell, according to the lawsuit filed Monday in Boston.” By WCVB-TV5 News

PRIESTS

It isn’t just the priest’s fault: Six tips for lay people for a better homily experience
“Media outlets frequently publish reports of new surveys, showing how dissatisfied Catholics are with their homilies. The approval ratings are always significantly lower than the parallel Protestant ones. The primary persons to blame for this situation are Catholic preachers, and rightly so. Then the usual suspects are lined up as the causes of their poor performance: inadequate seminary training, insufficient preparation time, preachers being out of touch with the ‘real world’ and unable to address women’s perspectives. These are real problems that need to be addressed.” By Terrance Klein, America: The Jesuit Review

WOMEN’S VOICES

Pope’s recent appointment of women is too little, too late
“Administrative tinkering to Vatican bureaucracy is hardly the stuff of stop-the-presses headlines, but Pope Francis’ recent naming of three women to the office that helps select bishops around the world is certainly more substantive than changing the office’s name from ‘congregation’ to ‘dicastery.’ On July 13, the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had named two religious sisters —Franciscan Sister of the Eucharist Raffaella Petrini and Daughters of Mary Help of Christians Sr. Yvonne Reungoat — and a laywoman, Maria Lia Zervino, as members of the Dicastery for Bishops. The appointments were made just over a week after the pope had told a Vatican journalist of his plans.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter

In Chile, five women lead the Church’s anti-clerical abuse campaign
“Experts have long said that, in order to fully address clerical sexual abuse, the laity has to get involved. In Santiago, Chile, devastated like few others after the fall of several highly respected priests and two consecutive archbishops accused of cover-up, this tactical change is spearheaded by five women. Andrea Idalsoaga heads the Pastoral Office for the Reception of Allegations of the Archdiocese of Santiago. She was called in when the office was created, after being a judge of the National Ecclesial Tribunal for 16 years.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

LAITY & THE CHURCH

Chile’s Catholics see chasm separating hierarchy from increasingly hostile laity
“To put it mildly, the Catholic Church in Chile has a big problem. Chilean Catholics describe a giant chasm between the hierarchy, which some church-watchers describe as elite and out of touch, and an increasingly incredulous and hostile laity. Without a real effort of both parties to bridge the gap, these same experts fear the church will never regain its once honored place in the country. One striking place the strain is showing up is in the numbers.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

CHILD PROTECTION

Former FBI child sex abuse expert on what parents should know about ‘grooming’
“A former Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) expert on child abuse — and ‘grooming’ — said there are a number of steps parents can take if they have concerns their children could be in danger. On Monday (Aug.7), GoLocal unveiled that priest Eric Silva had been reassigned to a Narragansett church after being removed from two other churches earlier in the year for asking children ‘inappropriate questions’ about sex … Kenneth Lanning, who was a special agent with the FBI for more than 30 years and has worked as a consultant in the area of crimes against children, said that while some behaviors of adults interacting with children might not rise to the level of criminality, there are steps parents can take if they believe their child is potentially being ‘groomed’ for abuse.” By GoLocalProv.com

VATICAN

Vatican enlists influencers to get young, disenchanted Catholics to answer Synod survey
“Last fall, Catholics around the world began gathering in church basements and school gyms to, in the words of Pope Francis, ‘look others in the eye and listen to what they have to say.’ These listening sessions were the first phase of the two-year-long Synod on Synodality that will end in 2023 when the bishops meet to chew over what they’ve learned. Now that parishes have recorded testimony from the faithful and compiled it in official reports, the Vatican is sending the message that they want to hear from those they may have missed – young or inactive Catholics who failed to show up at the parish meetings.” By Zelda Caldwell, Catholic News Agency

FUTURE OF THE CHURCH

Warning by archbishop on future of Catholic Church in Ireland
“Where the Catholic Church in Ireland is concerned ‘the one certainty is the ongoing and sustained decline both in the numbers who practice and in the numbers of those who answer the Lord’s call to priesthood and religious life,’ Archbishop of Tuam Francis Duffy has said. ‘All trends are dramatically downwards with no turning point in sight. I suggest you look at your priest, he may be the last in a long line of resident pastors and may not be replaced,’ he said. ‘I suggest you look at your church, you may be lucky to have a Sunday Mass or several, but for how much longer? I suggest you look at your fellow parishioners at Mass, who among your neighbors will continue to be the new leaders and carry on pastoral work in your parish, alongside a much smaller number of clergy? Who among them will lead prayer services and keep faith alive and active through catechesis and other initiatives?’ he said.” By Patsy McGarry, The Irish Times

CHURCH FINANCES

Roman stunner: More or less, the Vatican tells the truth about its money
“If you were listening closely this week, your ears may have picked up a subterranean rumbling out of Rome. It was the sound of the tectonic plates of history shifting, as, perhaps for the first time ever, the Vatican actually more or less came clean about its finances. In the old days, it used to be said that how much money the Vatican has was among the mysteries of the faith, akin to how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Funds were distributed among a bewildering variety of entities and accounts, many of them off the books – in some cases, cash was literally stuffed into desk drawers and cabinets in Vatican offices, replenished and doled out with no paper trail at all.” By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com

CLERICALISM

Why all the people of God must take some responsibility for clericalism
“Pope Francis has described pedophile priests as ‘tools of Satan’ and has often said that the cause of the clergy abuse crisis is ‘clericalism.’ But when in August 2018 he wrote a ‘Letter to the People of God’ that appeared to widen responsibility for the abuse to the whole Church, there was outrage. ‘With shame and repentance,’ he wrote, ‘we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that … we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.’ The Pope concluded, ‘I invite the entire holy faithful People of God to a penitential exercise of prayer and fasting.’” By Hatty Calbus, The Tablet

CELIBACY& MARRIED PRIESTS

The Catholic Church should end its policy of celibacy for priests
Up to the Second Lateran Council in 1139, most priests married, sharing that experience with the majority of the families in the pews. It seems that the main reason for the unfortunate policy alteration related to priests’ children claiming inheritance based on parentage. Understandably, this clashed with the church’s commitment to maintain ownership of any accumulated wealth. The inheritance problem could and should have been dealt with by other means than the extreme prohibition against marriage by priests. Sigmund Freud asserts that after self-preservation, the next most demanding human drive involves procreation, and celibates must find ways to respond to that human sexual imperative as much as married men.” By Gerry O’Shea, Irish Central

Ending priestly celibacy would not stop abuse
“The Economist recently ran a lead article arguing that if the Catholics ‘want to reduce the scourge of sexual abuse by priests, they should demand an end to the rule requiring priestly celibacy.’ I found myself checking the year of publication. Surely this must have been an article from 20 years ago. But no: In the same week in which the Catholic bishops of the United States published their annual report on the (still falling) number of abuse claims made in American dioceses, the Economist was running with a tired, discredited argument.” By Ed Condon, National Review

VOICES

The Catholic Church in Africa: The single most impactful institution in Africa
“This is a video news release distributed by APO Group on behalf of the Symposium of Episcopal Conderences of Africa and Madagascar, featuring the Metropolitan Archbishop of Cape Coast in Ghana.” By african.business

The Catholic Church is at a crossroads: Will it choose renewal or decline?
“The Pew Research Center finds just 26 percent of Catholics attend church weekly, while 65 percent say they attend ‘a few times a year or less.’ Another survey reveals 63 percent of Catholics believe abortion should be legal in all or most cases; only 31 percent think communion should be denied to politicians who support abortion rights; and 77 percent said Catholics who identify as LGBTQ should be allowed to receive the Eucharist. Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, says the rift between the laity and bishops on these issues ‘reveals a breakdown in communication and trust — shepherds who are far removed from the sheep.’” By John Kenneth White, Opinion Contributor, The Hill

Stephen Rowland: Always take allegations of sexual abuse seriously
“Why is it that pastors (or priests), of all people, are often the ones who stonewall an investigation into sexual abuse claims in their churches/parishes? It’s a definite problem — we all have followed the news in times past about the Pope apologizing to victims of sexual abuse perpetrated by certain priests. It was suppressed and covered over for decades. Then there was the Southern Baptist organization apologizing to sexual abuse victims not long ago. The burning shame of these humiliating ordeals is that you would think a church is the last place on earth to find such atrocities.” By Stephen Rowland, The Columbia Daily Herald

I’ve been a Catholic my entire life. But the church’s dark past is making me lose faith
“When the Pope came to visit Edmonton on his ‘penitential pilgrimage,’ my colleagues were joyfully planning carpools to Commonwealth Stadium where he would hold a public mass for 60,000 people. A lifelong Catholic, I went to Ticketmaster to reserve seats, but my fingers hovered over the screen for a while before I finally exited the website. Lately, I’ve been finding it hard to be Catholic. I grew up in the Philippines, where Catholicism is not only a personal religion but permeated every institution, organization and household.” By Alyssa Aco, CBC News

CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE

CALIFORNIA

Compensation program opened for California Roman Catholic sex abuse allegations
“In the last several years, the Catholic church has increasingly had to reckon with accusations of decades’ worth of sexual assault and abuse committed by priests and other church leaders within its ranks, all across the country. This was in large part prompted by a groundbreaking report published by a Pennsylvania grand jury back in August 2018 … The grand jury report has caused a wave of reactions across the country. In the wake of the report, Catholic dioceses all across the country have begun opening investigations, compensation programs, and even releasing lists of priests credibly accused of abuse.” By Joanne Szabo, TopClassActions.com

DELAWARE

Former DeSales University priest pleads guilty on child porn charge
“A former DeSales University priest who had ties to the Royal Family in Europe has pleaded guilty in a child pornography case. William McCandless, of Wilmington, Delaware, pleaded guilty to a charge of attempting to access with intent to view child pornography, according to online court documents. As part of the plea deal, prosecutors agreed to drop the other two charges of transporting and possessing child porn, says the document, which was filed in May.” By WTMZ-TV69 News

ILLINOIS

Chicago Archdiocese settles sex abuse case for $1.75 million
“A sex abuse case against the Archdiocese of Chicago and the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order, has been settled for $1.75 million, attorneys for the victim announced Friday (Aug. 5). The case was filed by a woman who said she was repeatedly abused as a child in the 1980s by Robert Boley, a Carmelite priest who taught at St. Cyril Catholic School, 6423 S. Woodlawn Ave. which has since closed. ‘During one school year, he abused her multiple times in the classroom, having her stay inside for recess and sexually assaulting her while also telling her she was a bad child, that God was angry with her and making her read the Bible during the abuse,’ according to a statement Friday from Romanucci & Blandin, the law firm that represented the woman.” By Mitch Dudek, Chicago Sun-Times

MAINE

Midcoast priest returns to duties after being cleared of sexual abuse allegations
“The Rev. Robert C. Vaillancourt will return to his duties after the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland determined allegations of sexual abuse were unfounded. Vaillancourt was placed on administrative leave in July 2021 while being investigated for an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor girl in the 1980s. Although he has not yet been assigned his newest post, Vaillancourt will be returned to active ministry effective immediately, according to the Portland diocese.” By Leela Stockley, Bangor Daily News

MARYLAND

Survivors of abuse in Catholic Church demand attorney general release findings
“For nearly four years, the Maryland Office of the Attorney General has been investigating allegations of widespread sex abuse against children in the Catholic Church. Survivors are still waiting for the results.” By CBS News

MASSACHUSETTS

High court allows sex abuse suit against diocese to proceed
“A lawsuit brought by a former altar boy who alleges he was sexually abused as a child in the 1960s by a now-deceased Roman Catholic bishop and other clergy can proceed, the highest court in Massachusetts said in a decision released Thursday (Jul. 28). The man from Chicopee identified in court papers as John Doe alleges in the suit filed in February 2021 that not only was he abused by former Diocese of Springfield Bishop Christopher Weldon as well as two priests, but also that the church engaged in a yearslong coverup to protect the bishop’s reputation.” By Mark Pratt, Associated Press

NEW MEXICO

Santa Fe priest removed from post amid misconduct investigation
“A Roman Catholic priest who heads a large parish on the city’s south side has been removed from his post amid an investigation into an allegation of misconduct, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe confirmed Monday (Aug. 1). Archdiocese spokeswoman Leslie Radigan confirmed the Rev. Daniel Balizan of Santa María de la Paz Catholic Community was the subject of ‘an allegation that is not substantiated, but not beyond the realm of the possible’ in an email Monday. Radigan did not outline the nature of the alleged misconduct.” By Nathan Lederman, The Santa Fe New Mexican, on Yahoo.com

Priest says he was put on leave for speaking out on sex abuse settlement
“The Rev. Vincent Chávez, pastor of St. Therese of the Infant Jesus Catholic Church in Albuquerque, said he has been placed on a leave of absence after publicly criticizing the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s request that its parishes contribute $12 million to a $121.5 million sexual abuse settlement. Chávez said after he spoke out publicly in a July 3 story in The New Mexican, he was called into a tense meeting that ended with the priest being placed on leave. Chávez, 59, said the leave will last four to six months starting Aug. 1. During this time, as Chávez understands it, he will not be able to attend archdiocese events but can still see and socialize with parishioners outside of parish buildings.” By Sean P. Thomas, Santa Fe New Mexican

NEW YORK.

Victim of clergy abuse asks Catholic church leaders for transparency
“Before July 6, Stephen Mittler was simply known as John Doe 1988-1989 in a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany and former priest Mark Haight. The Saratoga Springs man decided to make his story public in hopes the awareness would inspire others to come forward and to encourage transparency from the diocese. Mittler had a busy week, making the rounds and meeting with officials of the Catholic church.” By Jana DeCamilla, The Post-Star

Albany bishop meets with sexual abuse survivor outside Corpus Christi Catholic Church|
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany made efforts to connect with survivors of sexual abuse on Sunday. Bishop Edward Scharfenberger was in attendance for Mass at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. At the front steps of the church, Scharfenberger met with Stephen Mittler, who is a survivor of abuse in the late 1980s. The two held a conversation and discussed what are the next steps to help survivors and how the church can make sure no abuse happens in the future. Mittler says conversations like this go a long way towards helping survivors of abuse in the Catholic Church.” By Spectrum News Staff

PENNSYLVANIA

Harrisburg Diocese reaches settlement with clergy abuse survivors
“The Diocese of Harrisburg has reached an agreement to settle claims of people who say they were victims of clergy sexual abuse. The Diocese has agreed to set up a $7.5 million trust as part of a proposed settlement that will allow the Diocese to come out of bankruptcy protection.” By WGAL-TV8 News

Former Beckley priest charged with sexual assault of a minor in Pennsylvania
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston has released a statement from Bishop Mark Brennan, Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston : ‘My Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ: Many of you share my concern upon learning late yesterday that Fr. Pericles ‘Perry’ Malacaman, 84, was recently arrested in Beckley, WV, and is accused of sex abuse of a family member in Pennsylvania. The Diocese was not aware of the allegation until the day it was made public. We have not seen the criminal complaint and, as a matter of policy, we cannot comment on pending criminal investigations.’” By Annie Moore, WDTV-TV5 News

RHODE ISLAND

Rhode Island priest removed from Barrington and Cranston churches after allegations now at new church
“Priest Eric Silva was removed from two Rhode Island Catholic churches in February of 2022 for improper behavior. Now, he has back at another Rhode Island Catholic church offering mass. Earlier this year, Silva had been assigned to St. Luke’s Church in Barrington and was a visiting priest in Cranston. Parents alleged that Silva was asking inappropriate questions to children about their sexual orientation and sexual activity.” By GoLocalProv.com

TENNESSEE

Knoxville diocese fought to name plaintiff in rape cover-up suit
“A Tennessee judge struck down Friday (Aug. 5) the Diocese of Knoxville’s plea to dismiss a lawsuit which alleges that Knoxville’s bishop impeded a diocesan investigation into a rape allegation, and defamed an alleged rape victim, by charging publicly that the victim was actually the aggressor. Judge Jerome Melson also dismissed a petition from the Knoxville diocese for a protective order, which would have exempted from subpoena all diocesan records related to a Vatican investigation into complaints against Bishop Rick Stika.” By The Pillar

WISCONSIN

Amid criticism, AG Kaul calls his actions on Wisconsin clergy sex abuse a ‘review’ not an investigation
“Wisconsin’s attorney general is responding to Action 2 News after receiving criticism from an organization that represents victims of church sexual abuse. The group Nate’s Mission criticized Attorney General Josh Kaul last month for what it thought was an investigation the AG launched last year into the state’s five archdioceses and religious orders. But Kaul is clarifying telling Action 2 News what he is doing is a review of allegations.” By Joshua Peguero, WBAY-TV2 News

AUSTRALIA

Churches have ‘key role’ in reconciliation
“Writer and historian Jackie Huggins believes Australian churches have a key role in ‘truth-telling’ – an essential part of reconciliation in which the history of Australia’s First Nations peoples is told. The Bidjara/Birri-Gubba Juru woman from central and north Queensland, shared her family history – a story of shattered lives including forced removal from traditional lands and child servitude – at the first Laurel Blow Speaker Series for 2022, a joint event facilitated by Australian Catholic University and Evangelisation Brisbane.” By CathNews.com

Church puts safety at center of mission with new draft code
“Australian Catholic Safeguarding Ltd and the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference have this week released the first draft of the Church’s new code of safety, titled Our Common Mission. Our Common Mission sets out the commitment of the Catholic Church in Australia to put safety at the center of mission. It is a document intended to be adopted by all Church entities to inform ongoing formation in ministry and service for both people in religious ministry and lay people. ACSL CEO and Advisory Group Member Ursula Stephens said that in drafting Our Common Mission, the intention has been to create something that can speak directly and inclusively to diverse groups.” By CathNews.com

CANADA

Newfoundland church sales bring justice to abuse victim – and leave longtime parishioners in need of a spiritual home
“For the first time on his papal visit to Canada, Pope Francis acknowledged the sexual abuse perpetrated by ‘some of [the] sons and daughters’ of the church in Canada, describing them on July 28 as ‘scandals that require firm action and an irreversible commitment.’ ‘Together with you, I would like once more to ask forgiveness of all the victims,’ he said. ‘The pain and the shame we feel must become an occasion for conversion: never again!’ The long-awaited moment of institutional remorse for both Indigenous and non-Indigenous survivors of sexual abuse came as Catholics in a part of the country not included on this papal journey continued a difficult path of their own toward reconciliation emerging from another source of national anguish.” By Aloysius Wong, America: The Jesuit Review

CHILE

Chilean bishop deals with aftermath of abuse crisis in his diocese
“When Bishop Sergio Pérez de Arce was appointed apostolic administrator of the Chilean diocese of Chillán, 250 miles south of Santiago, he had the difficult task of succeeding a bishop removed by Pope Francis in 2018 following allegations of sexual abuse. Two years later, Pérez was confirmed as bishop, in a small ceremony held during a critical moment in the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, Pérez has been working closely with the laity and the priests to try to understand what went wrong, and identify possible solutions. In addition, he is the secretary general of the Chilean bishops’ conference.” By Inés San Martin, Cruxnow.com

FRANCE

France mulling Canada’s request to extradite Catholic priest accused of abuse
“France is considering a request to extradite a Catholic priest accused of sexually assaulting Inuit children in Canada, local media reported Friday (Aug. 5). The Foreign Ministry confirmed that the request to extradite Joannes Rivoire is being processed by the Justice Ministry. The 92-year-old priest is currently living in an elderly care home in Lyon. A dual national, he lived for more than 30 years in Canada, where he has a fresh arrest warrant issued since February. Another arrest warrant was issued between 1998 and 2017 for sexually assaulting three minors. The exact number of victims allegedly abused by Rivoire is not known.” By Shweta Desai, aa.com.tr

GERMANY

German bishop, accused of abuse, found to have helped wanted pedophile priests escape to Latin America
“A German prelate who served as bishop in Ecuador is not only accused of having sexually abused minors in several countries. As director of a German aid organization he also helped pedophile priests wanted by authorities escape prosecution, according to an independent investigation published Monday (Aug. 8). The late Bishop Emil Stehle (1926-2017) — known in Latin America as Emilio Lorenzo Stehle — has been accused of sexual abuse in 16 cases, a statement by the German Bishops’ Conference said on Aug. 8.” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency

GREAT BRITAIN, SCOTLAND, AND WALES

Priest accused of sexual conduct towards four girls at two Glasgow churches
“A priest is accused of sexual conduct toward four girls at two churches. Neil McGarrity, 68, allegedly attacked the girls between December 2017 and February 2020. Court papers state McGarrity engaged in sexual activity with a girl between the age of 13 and 15 at St Thomas’ church in Glasgow’s Riddrie. It is stated that he touched the girl on the body. A second girl was alleged to have been sexually assaulted at St Thomas’ between the ages of 10 and 11. It is claimed McGarrity repeatedly placed his arm around her, touched her on the body, hugged and pulled her towards him.” By Connor Gordon, GlasgowLive.com

INDIA

Catholic priest arrested for sexually harassing three school girls in TN
“A Catholic parish priest has been arrested under the POCSO Act for sexually harassing three underage girls. He noticed them attending the church alone and took them to his private chambers on the pretext of conducting ‘special prayers’ for their studies. John Robert (46) is the parish priest of St. Arulanandar Church in Mandapam near Rameshwaram, Tamil Nadu. Three school going girls aged between 15-17 accused him of sexually harassing them in the church. As per the news reports, the three girls used to come to the church alone. Noticing this John Robert started talking to them and established a relationship with them.” By MahaKrishnan

NICARAGUA

A Nicaraguan priest is accused of abusing a minor. Human rights activists aren’t convinced
“When a priest is accused of abusing a minor, public opinion seldom gives him the benefit of the doubt — often for good reason. But in Nicaragua, things are different. At least for Monsignor José Leonardo Urbina. Urbina is pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Parish of Boaco, a city 50 miles east of Managua, the country’s capital. He was arrested on July 13 and formally accused of raping an adolescent girl. And Urbina’s story is unlike most that begin with a priest arrested for sexual abuse — because Nicaraguan media outlets, and human rights activists –some of them fierce critics of the Catholic Church– have rallied behind Fr. Urbina, citing significant procedural irregularities and raising questions about whether the priest is receiving due process.” By Edgar Beltrán, The Pillar

PHILIPPINES

Church is challenged to end trafficking, child abuse
“Christian leaders, bishops, priests and laypeople should be outraged at the extent of human trafficking and child abuse in families and online and be motivated by faith to take every opportunity to help the victims by good deeds and action for justice as well as denounce the evil on the internet that is pervading society. A worthwhile prayer is that which motivates people to act for justice. Where are the organized militant ‘Catholic internet trolls for human rights and child protection?’ None that I know of. We need the revival of Catholic Social Action groups in every parish, led by dedicated internet-savvy students and youth fighting every day for social justice.” By UCANews.com

PORTUGAL

Portugal’s Catholic Church child sex-abuse scandal deepens
“Bit by bit the hideous truth that Catholic priests in Portugal have been left relatively free (if not almost completely free) to sexually abuse children for decades is coming home to roost. The scandal that hit the headlines in France less than a year ago, and which precipitated the opening of an inquiry in Portugal in January, has opened the floodgates on an accelerating domino-effect of horrors. Today, Expresso reveals another 12 priests have been outed by one of their own – half of them still in active duties. The story is all the more disturbing for the mantle of silence purportedly imposed by the Church’s hierarchy.” By Natasha Donn, PortugalResident.com

SPAIN

Spanish commission probes unreported clerical abuse cases
“The lawyer leading the Spanish Catholic Church’s investigation into clerical sexual abuse said he is currently looking into thousands of suspected cases that occurred in the 1970s and 1980s. In an interview with Spanish news agency Europa Press published July 25, Javier Cremades, who is leading the investigation, said he also has received hundreds of unreported cases since he was appointed by the bishops in February. ‘Between those that the bishops’ conference has and those that the newspaper El País has, we are talking about approximately between 1,000 and 2,000 cases. Now we are sorting and classifying those that have reached us,’ Cremades said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service, on UCANews.com

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Catholics’ reports on the state of the Church are in. Here’s what they have to say. / Religion News Service

Clericalism is a scourge on the Church, Catholics say, and women are not included in leadership.

Religion News Service

“More than a year ago, Pope Francis announced the Synod on Synodality, an initiative to take the pulse of the Catholic Church. The U.S. Catholics have been mostly silent about this effort, but in several countries, including Australia, France, England and Wales, and Germany, things are moving full steam ahead.

“Two major problems have come up time and time again: clericalism and the place of women in the Church. 

“If you haven’t heard much about this effort, which completes its first phase this summer, you are not alone. In May 2021, six months prior to the synod’s October 2021 opening, the Vatican asked the world’s bishops to name synod coordinators in their dioceses, who were expected to organize a program of public meetings for Catholics, ex-Catholics and non-Catholics alike to talk about the Church.

“Some did. Some did not. Yet, somehow most U.S. dioceses — 95%, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — wrote reports, though relatively few are published. Participating dioceses melded parish reports into diocesan reports, which were combined into regional reports. From the regional reports, as well as reports from some 110 independent Catholic organizations, the USCCB will create a 10-page report, due in Rome by mid-August.”

By Phyllis Zagano, Religion News Service — Read more … 

To see Voice of the Faithful’s “Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023” webpage, click here …

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