Archive for September, 2022

Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 23, 2022


U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church
“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops. The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.” By John Lavenburg,

South African Catholics: End clericalism, open ministry to women, be inclusive
“Widen the preaching circle to women and other laypeople, change the leadership style from autocratic and bureaucratic, move away from clericalism, and build more inclusive and welcoming communities, say Southern African Catholics. These were some of the major themes that emerged in the synthesis document for the synod on synodality released by the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference at the end of August. The conference represents the Catholic bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini. The secretary general of the bishops’ conference, Fr. Hugh O’Connor, said that the synthesis aimed to reflect the wide range of opinions mentioned in the diocesan reports.” By Russell Pollitt, National Catholic Reporter

Bill eliminating statute of limitations for child sex abuse civil suits heads to Biden’s desk
“The House on Tuesday (Sept. 13) passed a bill eliminating the statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse who seek to file civil claims, sending the measure to President Biden’s desk for final approval. The chamber cleared the bill, titled the Eliminating Limits to Justice for Child Sex Abuse Victims Act, by voice vote, a strategy reserved for non-controversial, popular measures. The Senate passed the legislation by unanimous consent in March. The measure calls for removing the statute of limitations for minors filing civil claims relating to a number of sex abuse crimes, including force labor, sex trafficking, sexual abuse and sexual exploitation of children.” By Mychael Schnell, KGET-TV News

Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By George Weigel, The Pilot


Exclusive: Cardinal Grech on drafting the first global synod synthesis—and what’s in store for phase 2
“Even though the first phase of the Catholic Church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality convened by Pope Francis only ended in mid-August, ‘We can already see the fruits of the synodal process,’ Cardinal Mario Grech, the general secretary of the synod, told America’s Vatican correspondent, Gerard O’Connell, in an exclusive interview conducted for America’s ‘Inside the Vatican’ podcast at the Jesuit Curia in Rome on Sept. 14. Cardinal Grech gave the interview before leaving Rome for two weeks starting today, Sept. 21, with a team of 35 people ‘summoned from all continents’ to study and analyze the feedback from the first phase, also known as the consultation phase, of the synodal process.” By Gerard O’Connell, America: The Jesuit Review

Synodality and its issues
“Persons worried about the current ‘synodality’ process in the Catholic Church have good reasons to be anxious. The car wreck of the German Catholic ‘synodal path’ on matters of sexuality and Church governance is one of them. Other key problems with Rome’s 2023 Synod on Synodality are the personalities and behaviors of some of the loudest people advancing it. More on that in a moment. The idea itself – synodality – is worth considering. But be warned and caffeinated: Roman documents ahead.” By The Catholic World Report

The synodality report
“What is synodality? Bishop (Harry) Silva defines it this way: “The Church always must defer to its Head, who is Jesus Christ. He is sacramentally represented by his bishops and priests, who act in his name as pastors, overseers and servants. But the clergy are not as wise or holy as the Head, and the Body must always be in communication with the Head. So while the Church is not a democracy, it is essential that the pastors be in touch with the thoughts, aspirations, needs and dreams of the members of the Body. Thus, we have pastoral councils, finance councils, priests’ councils, deacon councils, and a host of other consultative bodies so that the flow of communication between head and members may always be healthy. Synodality is the recognition that every member of the Body is important and contributes to the welfare of the whole body. It also offers concrete mechanisms by which this can happen.’” By Patrick Downes, Hawaii Catholic Herald

Synod on Synodality organizers: ‘Trust the process’
“The Synod on Synodality, Pope Francis’ massive consultation of all Catholic dioceses, parishes and organizations on the state of the church, completed its first phase, with Vatican officials receiving reports from countries around the world on their findings. As the second phase begins, and amid doubts that the results will be representative, the synod’s chief organizer, and even some participants, are encouraging Catholics to trust the process. ‘It’s the first time in the history of the church but also for humanity to have such a consultation,’ said Sister Nathalie Becquart, undersecretary for the General Secretariat for the Synod at the Vatican. ‘It’s a huge achievement.’” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service

Sex and gender dominate German church debates. But Catholics in the Global South have difference challenges—and values
“There is a lot of talk about ‘synodality’ in the Catholic church these days. Synodality refers to a process in which bishops and priests consult with lay Catholics about issues in the church. In 2021, Pope Francis called for the ‘Synod on Synodality’… The Catholic Church is often assumed to look and feel the same everywhere. But Catholicism is culturally quite diverse. The most public disagreement involves African Catholics and those in the United States and Europe. For example, Ghanaian Catholic bishops have criticized advocates for LGBTQ rights for imposing ‘their so-called values and beliefs.’ Other African bishops have said they feel betrayed by liberal sentiments in European Catholicism, such as the push to allow Holy Communion for divorced church members.” By Mathew Schmalz, America: The Jesuit Review

Personal reflections on the synod on synodality
“Over the centuries, men and women religious have practiced synodality through chapters, community meetings, and conversation groups to prepare for chapters of elections and affairs, house meetings and more. Decisions are made through prayer, dialogue (sometimes intense), and contemplative discernment to come to a decision or a way forward. The synod handbook, or vademecum, states that ‘Synodal listening is oriented towards discernment. It requires us to learn and exercise the art of personal and communal discernment.’ As religious, we know that synodality and discernment is a way of life … The charism and rule of each institute creates the environment for both synodality and discernment to take place.” By Donna L. Ciangio, National Catholic Reporter

Germany’s synodal assembly ends with far-reaching proposals
“The fourth plenary assembly of Germany’s Synodal Way in Frankfurt has concluded with a series of far-reaching reform resolutions. They concern, for example, the position of women and trans people in the Church, sexual morality, gay priests and the future national leadership structure of the Church. It said all texts involving changes to Church doctrine were formulated as proposals for consideration by the Pope and not as independent dogmatic changes by the German Church.” By


Finding the bishops we need
“There was considerable excitement in some quarters this summer when Pope Francis appointed three women as members of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, which makes recommendations to the pope for episcopal appointments in much of Latin-rite Catholicism. Whether this innovation will make any significant difference at the final stage of a long, complex process remains to be seen; given the byzantine ways of the Roman Curia (and its boys club atmosphere and dynamics), I have my doubts. But we shall see. In any event, deep reform in the process of selecting bishops in the Latin-rite Church would begin by bringing women, not to mention laymen, into the process at a much earlier stage.” By The Catholic World Report


The future of the priesthood: Boston College theologians edited book on priestly ministry
“The priesthood is deeply cherished and lies at the heart of Catholic faith and people, but a fresh conversation is needed around the formation of priests in order for ordained ministry to flourish going forward, according to the new book Priestly Ministry and the People of God (Orbis Books), co-edited by three Boston College theologians. Priestly Ministry and the People of God presents a collection of essays from a variety of voices—a cardinal, bishops, seminary rectors, ordained and lay ministers, and academic theologians—who have put forth their best hopes for the future of the priesthood. The essays are faithful to the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and the best of Catholic tradition, while also responding to the needs of the Church today, say co-editors Richard Gaillardetz, Thomas Groome, and Rev. Richard Lennan.” By Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications, Boston College


Will religious life rise again – and should it?
“The question this column purports to answer is a clear one: Will religious life rise again? Yes? But is it sensible in this day and age to even think of such a thing? The answer is actually a simple one but a potentially life-changing one at the same time. Several ancient stories long ago illuminated both the purpose and the spirituality of what it means to be a religious. Even now, even here. The first of those stories is from the tales of the desert monastics. One day, Abbot Arsenius was asking an old Egyptian man for advice on something.” By Joan Chittister, National Catholic Reporter


Two historians track down Jesus’ women disciples
“When you hear the word disciple, what do you think of? Probably the 12 apostles, maybe some of the greater crowd following Jesus in the gospels. A few readers may perhaps picture Mary Magdalene. But overall, our image of the disciples is of a group of men sharing Jesus’ life and listening to his teachings. Joan Taylor and Helen Bond, both professors of Christian origins, decided to challenge this dominant picture of who the disciples were and what they looked like … Instead, Taylor and Bond say that there were just as many women as men in this group. Indeed, it would have been impossible for the gospel to spread as far as it did otherwise.” By U.S. Catholic

Deacons decision on hold
“Top advocate says Rome statement on women deacons won’t come soon. The Vatican is unlikely to make any statement on the possibility of women to the diaconate in the Roman Catholic Church until after the conclusion of the international bishop’s Synod on Synodality next year, said international expert Dr Phyllis Zagano. Dr Zagano was one of 12 scholars appointed by Pope Francis in 2016 to the commission to study the diaconate as it existed in the early Church to ascertain the possibility of women deacons. The Pope said their research was inconculusivew and in 2020 reconvened a new commission to examine the question.” By Marilyn Rodrigues, The Catholic Weekly


Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the Church
“ Voice of the Faithful commemorates 20 years of keeping the faith, changing the church on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, for an event aptly named “VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years of Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church.” VOTF’s friends and supporters will gather to pray, learn, plan, and socialize as a community honoring its two-decade commitment. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., professor of theology and religious education at Boston College and an internationally known author and religious education expert, will offer attendees an interactive keynote address called Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church. “I would like to spark people’s own thoughts about why Catholics often think of Church or Pope or Sacraments as the ‘heart’ of their faith and seldom Jesus,” Groome said.” By Voice of the Faithful on Religion News Service


St. Louis Archdiocese releases parish financial data as closures loom
“Catholics across the region can now take a detailed look at their church finances, Mass attendance and school enrollment as the Archdiocese of St. Louis moves to restructure its parishes. The archdiocese released data Thursday on all 178 parishes ahead of hundreds of listening sessions in October and November. At the meetings, parishioners will be shown two to four different models reflecting potential church closures or consolidations. The proposed plan for school closures is expected to be released early in 2023.” By Blythe Bernhard and Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Catholic cardinal calls for an end to celibacy in clergy
“A recent damning report into child sex abuses in the archdiocese of Catholic Cardinal Reinhard Marx in Germany led him to call for the lifting of the celibacy requirement for Catholic priests and Bishops. According to the influential Catholic archbishop of Munich and Freising, many priests would prefer to get married. Last year, a damaging independent report found that 235 people — including 173 priests — sexually abused 497 people between 1945 and 2019 in the Munich and Freising archdiocese.” By CTN News


Through study and prayer, it’s not too late to get Vatican II right
“Sixty years ago, on Oct. 11, 1962, Pope St. John XXIII solemnly opened the Second Vatican Council. Addressing the council fathers, he said, ‘The major interest of the Ecumenical Council is this: that the sacred heritage of Christian truth be safeguarded and expounded with greater efficacy.’ Referring to the sweeping political and economic changes that had occurred in the 19th and 20th centuries, John XXIII rejoices that the Church would have the opportunity to return to the essentials of the spiritual life, particularly the instruction of the faithful. Free from ‘worldly fetters that trammeled her in past ages,’ Holy Mother Church had a new opportunity to preach and catechize.” By Father Patrick Briscoe, Our Sunday Visitor

Americans lack confidence in some churches’ abilities to handle sexual-abuse allegatioins
“Three churches have made headlines recently for their alleged roles in covering up claims of sexual abuse. In May, leaders of the country’s largest protestant denomination, the Southern Baptist Convention, published a review alleging that reports of sexual abuse were suppressed by top church officials for two decades. In mid-August, Southern Baptist leaders announced that the church is under federal investigation for sexual abuse. Less than two weeks earlier, the Associated Press published an analysis of sealed records from a child sexual-abuse lawsuit against the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as the Mormon church) in West Virginia, revealing how the church’s helpline allows church leaders to divert abuse accusations away from law enforcement and toward church attorneys. The Catholic Church has long faced allegations of sexual abuse by its leaders, which continue to surface; last week, Pope Francis addressed these claims, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending the problem.” By Taylor Orth,

An epic struggle for the soul of Catholicism
“(Author John T.) McGreevy begins his story with the near-death experience of the French Revolution, when a very Catholic country turned with bloodlust on the keepers of the faith. Priests were murdered, convents and monasteries closed, property seized. For a time, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Paris was renamed the Temple of Reason. Clergy members were required to take an oath of loyalty to the new regime or risk the guillotine. During this period of “dechristianization,” as it was called, the revolutionaries created new calendars, and renamed streets and public squares.” By Timothy Egan, The New York Times



Suburban priest Father David Ryan faces allegations of sexual abuse of a minor again
“A suburban priest is facing two allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. The Archdiocese of Chicago has asked Father David Ryan of Lake Zurich to step aside — again — while it conducts an investigation. In a letter Saturday (Sept. 17), Cardinal Blase Cupich called the news “upsetting” and said Ryan has agreed to cooperate. In late 2020 Ryan was asked to step aside amid an investigation into sexual abuse of minors 25 years prior. He was reinstated in 2021.” By CBS-TV2 News


Warrant issued for former southern Minnesota priest charged with sexual assault
“A warrant has been issued for the arrest of a former Catholic priest accused of sexually assault, after he missed his first court appearance Thursday (Sept. 8). Winona County District Judge Mary Leahy issued the warrant to hold Ubaldo Roque Huerta, 50, without bail after he failed to show up for the hearing. Roque Huerta is charged with fifth-degree criminal sexual conduct for allegedly performing sexual acts on another person without their consent. Roque Huerta was going through laicization — the process of leaving the priesthood — with the Diocese of Winona-Rochester when he allegedly assaulted a person in December 2020.” By Trey Mewes, Minneapolis Star Tribune


Sex abuse settlement may disrupt plans for new church
“Another parish is feeling the pain of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe’s $121.5 million settlement in a bankruptcy case that stems from hundreds of allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy. Some congregants at San Isidro Catholic Parish in the village of Agua Fría had been told the parish would be receiving half the proceeds of a land sale to build a new church. But now there are doubts the parish will retain the building funds amid the archdiocese’s efforts to settle its Chapter 11 bankruptcy.” By Daniel J. Chacón, Santa Fe New Mexican


New York Archdiocese: ‘Vos estis’ Hubbard records can’t be turned over in sex abuse lawsuit
“The Archdiocese of New York argued in an Albany courtroom on Friday (Sept. 9) that records compiled during a Vatican-ordered investigation into a retired bishop are protected by the First Amendment, and cannot be turned over in response to a subpoena in a sexual abuse lawsuit. The case raises questions about the confidentiality of the Vos estis lux mundi process, promulgated by Pope Francis in 2019 as a mechanism for investigating allegations of abuse or misconduct against bishops.” By The Pillar

Summary judgment closes case against Catholic Diocese of Brownsville
“A state district judge in Cameron County has issued a summary judgment in a case brought against the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville that alleged church officials tried to protect a priest accused in the alleged sexual assault of two siblings. The case had been scheduled for a jury trial Monday (Sept. 12) but was canceled following the summary judgment signed Aug. 25, by 445th state District Judge Gloria Rincones, which closed out the case, court records show. The Brownsville Herald has reached out to the Diocese and the attorney representing the siblings for comment. As of late Monday afternoon, neither have replied to a request seeking comment.” By Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald


Next steps: Recommendations from Awake Milwaukee for our archdiocese
“Sexual abuse is a persistent evil that cannot be eliminated from our Church with limited, one-time interventions. Instead, an effective response requires Catholics to undertake an ongoing journey down two paths. First, we must accompany and support victim-survivors in their pursuit of truth, accountability, and healing. Second, we must work proactively to prevent future abuse. As committed Catholics, we believe that the duty of walking these two paths is not some abstract obligation that belongs to the narrow subset of church officials who are tasked with addressing the abuse crisis in their professional capacities. It is a concrete responsibility that falls on the shoulders of every member of the Body of Christ.” By


‘I needed to step up’: former Surf Coast mayor sues church over alleged abuse
“A police officer and former Surf Coast mayor has launched legal action against the Vincentian order almost 50 years after he was allegedly abused by a priest while boarding at a former Catholic college in Bendigo. Brian McKiterick, 61, has claimed in a writ filed in the Supreme Court of Victoria that he suffered appalling sexual abuse at the hands of Father Murray Wilson, who was the dean of discipline, a maths teacher and football coach at St Vincent’s College.” By Cameron Houston, The Age


Moncton archdiocese, insurer reach settlement in lawsuit over sex abuse compensation
“Although the details of the agreement with the Co-operators General Insurance Company are subject to a confidentiality clause, the resulting funds will be used to pay claims for sexual assaults that occurred in the archdiocese between 1955 and 1984, according to a statement issued by Archbishop Valéry Vienneau. ‘The settlement made does involve some compromise, but it provides immediate certainty, particularly in light of advice that the pending court hearing would be put over for another year due to a shortage of judges,’ he said.” By Bobbi-jean MacKinnon, CBC News

Oblates dismiss Rivoire as retired priest denies abuse allegations at meeting with Inuit
“As Inuit delegates from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. prepared to meet with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in France Wednesday (Sept. 14), they had a shock: the man they’ve accused of sexually abusing Canadian children would be there, too. The delegates have been in France all week to call for the extradition of retired priest Johannes Rivoire, who has been charged in Canada with sexual assault dating back to his time in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s. The meeting with Rivoire was one the delegation had sought, but hadn’t received any word about until they were nearly at their destination in Lyon, France.” By April Hudson, CBC News

Acclaimed podcast Stolen spurs lawsuit against estate of dead Catholic priest
“A British Columbia woman claims she was told the late Father Georges Chevrier had no history of the kind of sexual abuse complaints she was bringing forward. Then she listened to an acclaimed podcast titled Stolen: Surviving St. Michael’s. Now she’s suing. The woman — known as LV — filed a B.C. Supreme Court claim this week against Chevrier’s estate and the corporation of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, which she accuses of failing to tell her the dead priest had a ‘known history of allegations of sexual abuse’ when she first asked for compensation.” By Jason Proctor, CBC News

Settlement proposed in class action on behalf of victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Halifax and Yarmouth
“A proposed settlement has been reached in a class action lawsuit against the Catholic Dioceses of Halifax and Yarmouth on behalf of victims of sexual assault by Priests. The action was certified as a class proceeding on March 31, 2020. This class action alleges that the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Halifax and the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of Yarmouth are legally liable for sexual abuse committed by their Priests between April 14, 1954 and March 31, 2020. Both sides have agreed to a settlement.” By

B.C. victim sues estate of priest sex offender and Catholic church officials
“A B.C. man who claims he was one of 17 young men who were sexually abused by a Catholic priest over a period of 25 years is suing the perpetrator’s estate and Catholic Church officials for damages. The victim, who is only identified by initials in the lawsuit, says that while on assignment in and around Terrace in 1981 or 1982, Father Harold Daniel McIntee sexually abused him and two other young men. He says that while staying overnight at the Secret Heart rectory with McIntee, he was experiencing abdominal pain and McIntee asked him to remove his pants to see if he had a swollen testicle.” By Keith Fraser, Vancouver Sun


Inuit group ‘implores’ France to extradite priest accused of child sex abuse
“A group of Canadian Inuit have come to France to push for the extradition of a retired French priest accused of sexually abusing several Inuit children when he worked as a missionary in the north of Canada more than 40 years ago. The five-person delegation from Nunavut Tunngavik Inc (NTI) head to the Ministry of Justice on Tuesday to argue the extradition of Johannes Rivoire – a former Roman Catholic priest who lives at an Oblates nursing home in the southern city of Lyon.” By Allison Hird,


New German study finds Osnabruck Diocese ignored rights of abuse victims
“Church leaders in the northern German Diocese of Osnabrück failed over decades to fulfill their duties in responding to accusations of sexual abuse, according to a study presented by the University of Osnabrück Sept. 19. The German Catholic news agency KNA said the study found that, until recently, officials had neglected to conduct adequate monitoring of clerics after they had been removed from their posts following accusations of abuse. The main area requiring improvement was communication with victims, the project leaders said. In addition, the diocese had been defensive and bureaucratic in its handling of cases and “stingy” in its recognition payments.” By Catholic News Service on


Sexual abuse victims welcome apology from missionaries
“A victim of child sexual abuse at a priest training school has said missionaries ‘begged for forgiveness’ at a meeting. Mark Murray was one of several abuse survivors who met the Comboni Missonaries in London on Tuesday (Sept. 20). The 66-year-old from St Asaph, Denbighshire endured repeated abuse by a priest while at St Peter Claver College in West Yorkshire. The Comboni Survivors Group said it was “deeply moved” by the meeting.” By BBC News

Man who claims he was sexually abused by a Catholic priest settles High Court damages action for €350,000
“A man who claimed he was sexually abused by a Catholic Priest almost 50 years ago has settled his High Court damages action for €350,000. In his judgement on Friday Mr Justice Garrett Simons approved the settlement of the now 60-year-old man personal injuries claim, who currently resides in the UK, against The Sacred Heart Missionary Education Trust and his alleged abuser. The case was settled by the Trust, without an admission of liability by either of the defendants.” By Aodhan O’Faolain,


Clergy sex abuse claimants vote on payout plan
“Survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults have a few days left to vote for or against the Archdiocese of Agana’s bankruptcy exit plan, which includes settlement of the abuse claims estimated at $37 million to $101 million. Their ballots must be received by the U.S. District Court of Guam clerk by Sept. 19 to be counted as a vote to accept or reject the disclosure statement, which is the plan to get the archdiocese out of bankruptcy. U.S. District Court Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood approved the adequacy of the third amended disclosure statement filed on July 19, giving each claimant a chance to be heard by their vote.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, The Pacific Daily News

Vatican: Questions to pope in Guam clergy abuse case ‘improper’
“The Vatican said judicial inquiries directed to the pope as a head of state are ‘improper,’ after a federal judge ordered the Holy See’s counsel to report on whether Pope Francis could meet with all survivors of Guam clergy sexual assaults to help settle abuse claims. Attorneys for the Vatican, led by California-based Jeffrey Lena, also said the Holy See ‘has given no indication that it is currently inclined to settle the case at bar,’ or participate in similar lawsuits. All this is part of an ongoing case filed by a man seeking to hold the Vatican liable for the actions of Guam’s former archbishop, Anthony Apuron, who allegedly raped him when he was a minor student at Father Dueñas Memorial School in 1994-1995.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert, Pacific Daily News

Two late clergy sex abuse claims will be accepted
“Two men who were sexually abused by priests as children but filed their claims past the Aug. 15, 2019 deadline will get their full share of the Archdiocese of Agana’s compensation plan. This comes two weeks before a hearing on the archdiocese’s bankruptcy exit plan, a key part of which is paying out hundreds of abuse claimants. In the offer, the archdiocese and its creditors’ committee propose to pay abuse survivors $37 million to $101 million, plus a free burial plot and Catholic education for their children.” By Haidee Eugenio Gilver, Pacific Daily News


Indonesian Church urged to tackle sexual abuse head-on
“A forum of priests, nuns, laypeople, and activists in Indonesia has urged the Catholic Church hierarchy to tackle sexual abuse head-on and to end the practice of cover-up for the sake of protecting the church’s image. The online discussion was held in collaboration between Let’s Talk About Sex and Sexualities, and Yayasan Sesawi dan Kawal Gereja (Mustard and Church Watchdog Foundation), a lay Catholic group, on Sept. 9. The organizers said the event sought to encourage Church leaders to be serious and proactive in investigating sexual violence within the church, in line with Pope Francis’ commitment to zero tolerance for sex abuse.” By


Former priest accused of breaching sexual offences prevention order
“A former priest who was a serial sex abuser for almost 20 years was yesterday accused of breaching his Sexual Offences Prevention Order. Almost four years to the day since he last appeared in court, Daniel John Curran (72) was charged at Downpatrick Magistrates Court with breaching his lifelong SOPO on August 12 this year. It is alleged that Curran, from Bryansford Avenue in Newcastle, breached the SOPO in that he ‘remained / loitered at Tullymore National Activity Centre which by its nature is likely to attract or be frequented by children under 16 years without permission of your designated risk manager.’” By The Irish News


New Zealand child abuse survivors call for intervention from Pope Francis
“A New Zealand group representing survivors of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church has called on Pope Francis to intervene in the redress process, claiming that church authorities were mishandling it and retraumatizing victims. In a letter sent to the Vatican and seen by Reuters, the New Zealand chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a global organization for child abuse victims, accused church officials in New Zealand of breaching procedures for managing abuse complaint cases.” By Praveen Menon, Reuters


Pope Francis orders new canonical process in abuse case at Opus Dei school in Spain
“The complaints of abuse against the teacher date to 2009 and 2011. After a long judicial process, the Supreme Court sentenced him to two years in prison in 2020, but since it was his first conviction and did not exceed a two-year sentence, he wasn’t imprisoned. Bishop Joseba Segura Etxezarraga of Bilbao, Spain, has announced that Pope Francis has ordered a new canonical process for a case of abuse that took place at a school run by the prelature of Opus Dei. The announcement states that the Holy Father was aware in December 2014 of allegations of abuse against José María Martínez Sanz, a numerary member of Opus Dei and a teacher at Gaztelueta School.” By Catholic News Agency in National Catholic Register

Ex-priest gets 30 years in prison for child abuse in Spain
“Spain’s Supreme Court on Tuesday (Sept. 13) sentenced a former priest to 30 years in prison for abusing seven minors at a Catholic boarding school nearly a decade ago when he worked as their tutor. Allegations of child abuse by Catholic clergy and possible cover-ups by the church have surfaced in recent months in Spain, years after similar scandals rocked the Church in other countries such as the United States, Ireland and France.” By Reuters

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U.S. diocesan synod reports highlight ‘enduring wounds’ in Church /

“Throughout the diocesan phase of the Synod on Synodality, U.S. Catholics consistently highlighted several ‘enduring wounds’ that plague the nation’s church, including the still-unfolding effects of the sexual abuse crisis, divisions over the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass, and a perceived lack of unity among the nation’s bishops.

“The feedback was published by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on Sept. 19, in a national synthesis of the diocesan synod phase. The synthesis is the culmination of diocesan Synod reports and contributions from other Catholic entities since last fall.

“An estimated 700,000 people out of an estimated 66.8 million U.S. Catholics contributed to the feedback that went into creating the synthesis.

“Bishop Daniel Flores of Brownsville, the USCCB’s committee on doctrine chair who oversaw the national process, called the document a ‘significant moment’ for the U.S. church, while cautioning that it’s only the first step in a larger process.”

Click here to read the National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.

By John Lavenburg, — Read more …

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New York archdiocese: ‘Vos Estis’ Hubbard records can’t be turned over in sex abuse lawsuit / The Pillar

“We are not trying to pierce their attorney-client privilege. But the archdiocese says over 1,400 records are protected under the First Amendment. And we’ve made a motion to compel the production of those documents in the privilege log.” (plaintiff attorney JoAnn Harri)

The Pillar

“The Archdiocese of New York argued in an Albany courtroom on Friday that records compiled during a Vatican-ordered investigation into a retired bishop are protected by the First Amendment, and can not be turned over in response to a subpoena in a sexual abuse lawsuit.

“The case raises questions about the confidentiality of the Vos estis lux mundi process, promulgated by Pope Francis in 2019 as a mechanism for investigating allegations of abuse or misconduct against bishops.

“New York’s Cardinal Timothy Dolan was directed in early 2021 to investigate claims against retired Albany Bishop Howard Hubbard, who has been accused of multiple instances of sexual abuse against minors, and who admitted last year that he transferred several priests to new parish ministries without contacting police, after they were accused of sexual abuse.”

By The Pillar — Read more …

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What makes education Catholic?

Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Professor Thomas Groome’s new book explores the essence of a Catholic education.

Prof. Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., will deliver the keynote address, “Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church,” during Voice of the Faithful’s 20th Year Commemoration on Oct. 29, 2022, at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel.

The vast network of Catholic schools likely constitutes the largest single system of education in the world today. This enormously influential educational system has some 55,000 schools, ranging from kindergartens to research universities, located in 200 countries and serving more than 150 million students.

But what exactly does it mean to place the word “Catholic” before such terms as school, education, or teacher?

In his new book What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations (Orbis Books, 2021), internationally renowned religious education expert Thomas Groome explores the history of Catholic education from its spiritual roots to present day, in order to define what Catholic education is and provide a reflective resource for today’s Catholic school educators.

Thomas Groome
Boston College School of Theology and Ministry Professor Thomas Groome (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

School of Theology and Ministry Professor Thomas Groome (Photo by Caitlin Cunningham)

“I’ve been thinking about this book for about 40 years,” said Groome, a professor of theology and religious education in the Boston College School of Theology and Ministry and founding director of the Ph.D. program in theology and education. In a recent interview, he recalled an experience he had decades ago in Pakistan where he witnessed what he calls an excellent example of Catholic education. Unlike the Catholic schools he was familiar with in his native Ireland or in the United States, the Pakistani school was staffed predominately by Muslim teachers and the students were also Muslim. Groome has seen a similar phenomenon during visits to Korea and Hong Kong—Catholic schools delivering a Catholic education even though the educators and student body were primarily not Catholic.

“Catholic schools educate from a faith perspective and for a faith perspective,” said Groome.

He said that the curriculum of a Catholic school should give students an academically rigorous, competent, and capable education that prepares them to make a living, but also prepares them to have a life grounded in some kind of faith perspective as they engage in the world.

He added that it doesn’t mean imposing Catholicism on students, but rather inviting students “to consider a spiritual grounding for their lives in the world that might make their lives a little more meaningful, worthwhile, purposeful, ethical, and might sustain them in the tough times.”

In the face of the declining presence of the ordained and vowed religious in Catholic schools, the key to maintaining the Catholicity, said Groome, is forming and nurturing teachers and staff in the deep values that undergird Catholic education and Catholicism, such as mercy, compassion, justice, integrity, truth-telling, care for the poor, respect, and care for the neighbor and the common good.

A Catholic school also needs its top person to be a spiritual leader who can articulate the school’s faith-based vision, with support from a cadre of faculty and staff who know the charism and can serve as custodians of the institution’s Catholic identity, Groome said.

Groome would like to see ‘What Makes Education Catholic’ become a catalyst for a fresh conversation among Catholic educators around the world.

In What Makes Education Catholic, Groome offers brief overviews of some of the important voices in the Catholic intellectual tradition and Catholicism with whom he feels Catholic educators should be familiar, such as Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Julian of Norwich, Ignatius of Loyola, Angela Merici, and Mary Ward. He shows how these foremothers and fathers of Catholic education can ground and shape the spirituality of Catholic educators in today’s postmodern world. These foundations ensure that Catholic schools deliver the education they promise to students—not only to Catholics but to those of many religious traditions. There are prompts throughout the text that encourage readers to engage in reflection and dialogue.

Catholic education is best realized in practice, added Groome. It is seen in “how teachers go about teaching and principals go about administering schools: the environment, the atmosphere, and values the school reflects in its own way of being.”

Groome has been teaching at Boston College since 1976. He is an award-winning author whose other publications include Educating for LifeWhat Makes Us CatholicWill There Be Faith?Faith for the Heart, and a widely-used textbook series.

Groome would like to see What Makes Education Catholic become a catalyst for a fresh conversation among Catholic educators around the world. Since the book’s launch, Groome has been contacted by educators from Canada to Australia who are interested in getting What Makes Education Catholic into the hands of Catholic school teachers and principals.

“There is great purpose in Catholic schools; they are the Catholic Church’s contribution to the common good,” Groome concluded, “and they have never been more needed.”

From Boston College website By Kathleen Sullivan, University Communications | January 2022 | Used with permission.

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Voice of the Faithful Focus News Roundup

Sept. 9, 2022


Pope creates 20 new cardinals, including San Diego bishop
“In a ceremony to create 20 new cardinals, Pope Francis encouraged the College of Cardinals to have the same spiritual zeal for all people, whether they are in positions of power or ordinary Christians. ‘A cardinal loves the church, always with that same spiritual fire, whether dealing with great questions or handling everyday problems, with the powerful of this world or those ordinary people who are great in God’s eyes,’ the pope said Aug. 20 during the consistory, a prayer service during which he personally welcomed 20 churchmen into the College of Cardinals. Those who have this apostolic zeal are compelled ‘by the fire of the Spirit to be concerned, courageously, with things great and small,’ he said.” By Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service

Pope Francis exhorts San Diego’s McElroy, new cardinals to practice ‘unassuming power’
“Pope Francis on Aug. 27 elevated 20 Catholic prelates from around the world — including San Diego’s Bishop Robert McElroy — to the rank of cardinal, exhorting that those who are often referred to as princes of the church must instead exercise an ‘unassuming power’ and preach the Gospel with an openness to all people ‘without exception.’ ‘The Lord wants to bestow on us his own apostolic courage, his zeal for the salvation of every human being, without exception,’ Francis said. ‘He wants to share with us his magnanimity, his boundless and unconditional love, for his heart is afire with the mercy of the Father.’” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter

Cardinal McElroy’s elevation has ‘enormous significance’ for U.S. church
“As you can imagine, I am not often speechless. But when I finally reached the end of the receiving line at the U.S. ambassador to the Holy See’s residence to greet Cardinal Robert McElroy on Aug. 26, I couldn’t find the words. It has been three months since the news of his elevation to the cardinalate arrived — three months for it to sink in — and I was still not sure what to say. Archbishop John Wester of Santa Fe, New Mexico, knew what to say. ‘Ecstatic’ was how he described what so many Catholics were feeling at this moment. Wester spoke at a dinner for McElroy’s family and friends after the Mass of thanksgiving on Aug. 28. In discussions with pilgrims from San Diego, friends of McElroy’s from San Francisco or from college and seminary, and his brother bishops, ‘ecstatic’ was the exact word.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter

Poland’s Catholics complain of deep divide between clergy, laity
“A new report by the Polish bishops, summarizing the results of consultations with both the leadership and the rank and file of the Polish church, points to a deep division between clergy and laity and an urgent need to rebuild he relationship between the two groups. ‘It not a report about the state of the church,’ Archbishop Adrian Galbas, coordinator of the synodal process in Poland, told Crux, referring to a synthesis of the results of widespread consultations published Thursday (Aug. 25). ‘It’s a very personal document, giving an image of the church,’ Galbas said – and the image is fairly harsh.” By Paulina Guzik,


Pope Francis’ big gamble: the Synod on Synodality
“Pope Francis’ synod on synodality, which will take place in October 2023, is the greatest gamble of this papacy. It may succeed in bringing greater unity to the church, or it could result in greater conflict and division. Synods under Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI were stage-managed affairs, where the agenda and debate were carefully controlled. Curial cardinals instructed the gathered bishops what topics could not be brought up or discussed. Although the purpose of the synod was to advise the pope, speakers spent most of their time quoting the pope to himself: ‘As you so wonderfully said …’” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service, in National Catholic Reporter

Non-diocesan Catholic groups submit their own synod reports to the U.S. bishops
“Inmates, college students, climate activists, LGBTQ people, clergy sex abuse survivors, health care professionals, church reform advocates and older Catholics are among those who have participated in their own listening sessions for the grassroots consultation that has been held ahead of the 2023 Synod of Bishops in Rome. In all, 110 non-diocesan Catholic groups—universities, advocacy nonprofits, religious congregations, ministries and private associations of individuals, among others — submitted their own synodal ‘synthesis’ reports this year to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said Julia McStravog, a consultant helping to coordinate the bishops’ synodal work.” By Brian Fraga, National Catholic Reporter

Church at Crossroads: bishops, priests, and lay Catholics speak out
“The story of Jesus meeting a skeptical Samaritan woman at the well told in the Gospel of John is, for many Christians, a story of encountering Jesus and choosing his well as the source of eternal life. As the Irish Church faces a crossroads ahead, with many big decisions to be made, Bishop William Crean of the Catholic Diocese of Cloyne wonders what wells sustain the Irish people today. The increasingly secularized nation has found new watering holes after decades of Church scandals.” By Conor Capplis, The Irish Examiner

The CCCB submits its national Synod synthesis to the Holy See
“The first phase of the ‘Synod on Synodality,’ listening at the diocesan level, has concluded. Synthesis Reports were prepared by each of Canada’s four Regional Episcopal Assemblies – Western, Ontario, Quebec and Atlantic regions. These four regional reports were then received by the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) and used to draft a national synthesis, which has been submitted to the General Secretariat of the Synod of the Holy See on 15 August 2022. The national synthesis document is divided into 11 sections, collectively reflecting on the major themes of this process and the voices heard. This report is the culmination of a sincere listening exercise that occurred in every diocese across the country.” By The Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops

Catholics see synod listening sessions as significant for the entire church
“Evangelizing the whole church, taking personal responsibility for the mission to evangelize, engaging youth and young adults better, accompanying families, asking parishes to become more welcoming, understanding the experience of LGBTQ+ Catholics and allowing more women in church leadership roles. These are some common themes that surfaced in a sampling of U.S. dioceses’ synthesis reports on listening sessions they held in preparation for the world Synod of Bishops on synodality in October 2023.” By Catholic News Service

Synodal process described as an invitation to leadership in the church
“The synodal process that is underway is an invitation to people in the Catholic Church to listen to each other and can lead to greater leadership by laypeople within the church, Bishop Daniel E. Flores of Brownsville, Texas, told a webinar audience. ‘One of the most important fundamental intentions of the synodal process around the world, and particularly the U.S., is that we really do need to learn how to listen to each other again. We may think we do, but we really don’t,’ Bishop Flores said Aug. 25. He made the comments during the online program assembled by the Catholic Apostolate Center and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.” By Dennis Sadowski, Catholic News Service

Cardinal Grech: ‘Synodality, theme for reform of Roman Curia
“As the Cardinals of the universal Church arrive in the Vatican to discuss the reform of the Roman Curia, synodality will be an important element of their discussions. In an interview with Vatican News, Cardinal Mario Grech, the General Secretary of the Synod of Bishops, made this observation as he discussed synodality in the Church. He was speaking on the sidelines of a press conference on Friday (Aug. 26) at the Holy See Press Office presenting the second phase of the synodal process: the Continental Phase of the Synod on synodality, on the theme ‘For a synodal Church: communion, participation and mission.’” By Deborah Castellano Lubov, Vatican News


Pope declares ‘zero tolerance’ for Catholic Church abuse, saying he takes personal responsibility for ending it
“Pope Francis says he has taken it on himself to rid the Catholic Church of sexual abuse, telling CNN’s partner channel CNN Portugal that he was ‘responsible that it doesn’t happen anymore.’ In an exclusive, wide-ranging interview in Rome last month, the Pontiff said the church had ‘zero tolerance’ for abuse and said that ‘a priest cannot remain a priest if he is an abuser.’ The church’s response to sex abuse scandals has become one of the defining themes of Francis’ time as Pope, and he told CNN Portugal that every case of abuse within the church ‘hurts’ him.” By Ivana Kotasová, CNN


Conservative cardinal calls for conclaves to be limited to Rome-based cardinals
“German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller, a once influential conservative prelate known to be at odds with several aspects of the Francis papacy, has asked that the right to vote in a conclave be limited to those residing in Rome. Brandmüller said that there are too many cardinals who come from faraway places, so they lack experience with the Roman Curia and do not know one another, making them vulnerable to lobbies attempting to push a specific candidate forward.” By Elise Ann Allen,

World’s cardinals meet with Pope to reflect on Curia reform
“Just under 200 cardinals, out of the College’s 226, are participating on Monday and Tuesday (29-30 August) in closed-door meetings convened by Pope Francis to reflect on the Apostolic Constitution Praedicate Evangelium, the document reflecting the Pope’s reform of the Roman Curia. The event will most likely mark the Pope’s largest and most attended meeting with the College of Cardinals. In almost ten years of his pontificate, never has such a meeting been held, and such wide attendance was seen only eight years ago when the Pope called the synod on the family (2014-15), inviting some 180 Bishops and Cardinals.” By Salvatore Cernuzio, Vatican News

New cardinal says opposition to Vatican II ‘not Catholic’
“England’s new cardinal says those who are ‘stubbornly opposing’ the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council are in danger of adopting a position that is no longer Catholic. Cardinal Arthur Roche, the Prefect of the Dicastery for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, was among 20 prelates admitted to the College of Cardinals on Saturday, with 16 of them under the age of 80 and eligible to vote in a future conclave. He has one of the most sensitive and demanding jobs in the Church’s central government, requiring him to work closely with the Pope and with the world’s bishops in overseeing Catholic worship.” By

New cardinals feel honored, humbled, ready to promote renewal of church
“Becoming a member of the broad, unique body of the College of Cardinals is both a great honor and an invitation to help promote a renewal of the Catholic Church’s mission of evangelization, some new cardinals said. With 20 newly created cardinals representing 16 countries, and with the entire college of 226 members representing more than 90 countries, some also said they see their elevation as a way to help their home dioceses better comprehend the universality of the Catholic Church.” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service


A proposed agenda for U.S. bishops
“In mid-November the American bishops, gathered in a general assembly, will choose a successor to Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles to serve a three-year term as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. A new vice president and chairmen of several conference committees also will be elected during the meeting. Except by the bishops themselves plus a handful of habitual bishop-watchers, the USCCB elections will probably not be much noted. But there are several issues of major importance for the future of the Church that need to be on the bishops’ agenda, and the results of the upcoming vote could go a long way to determining whether they make it there. Three issues in particular stand out.” By Russell Shaw, Our Sunday Visitor


Q&A with Sr. Marueen Geary, new president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious
“Maureen Geary didn’t see herself joining religious life. In her late 20s, she was an attorney and an accountant at a great law firm where she was happy. But something kept telling her that her gifts could best be put to use with the Dominican Sisters of Grand Rapids, Michigan, the sisters who taught her from second grade on. Finally, in 1987 at the age of 31, Geary joined the Order of Preachers as a candidate — but kept working part time at the law firm, just in case. Now, she is president-elect of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents about 80% of the nuns and sisters in the United States.” By Dan Stockman, Global Sisters Report, National Catholic Reporter


She was an early church deacon. Catholic women now want to reclaim her example.
“On Saturday (Sept. 3) Amman and 55 other pilgrims from four countries gather in Mexico City at the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe to celebrate St. Phoebe’s feast day. In the presence of an archbishop, several priests and nuns and a host of Catholic lay women, the pilgrims will honor the little-known saint who makes a solitary appearance in the New Testament’s Letter to the Romans as an associate of St. Paul and a female deacon of the early church.” By Yonat Shimron, Religion News Service


Lay Vatican leadership reportedly key topic at pope’s meeting with world’s cardinals
“While an official communique at the end of Pope Francis’ Aug. 29-30 meeting with the world’s Catholic cardinals only said that participants ‘freely discussed many aspects,’ participants told NCR that discussions centered around the extent to which lay individuals can be granted authority in church governance, term limits for Vatican officials, and the city-state’s finances. While the gathering took place behind closed doors, participants from four different continents said in interviews that much of the meeting took place in small group discussions, similar to the format used at Vatican meetings of the Synod of Bishops.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter


Vatican cardinal decries criticism of German ‘Synodal Way’ as ‘denunciation’
“The chief organizer of the Catholic Church’s Synod on Synodality has decried as ‘denunciation’ the number of public criticism of the German ‘Synodal Way.’ Cardinal Mario Grech said he did ‘not agree with the method used by the critics’ of the German process in an interview with the German publication ‘Herder Thema.’ The secretary general for the Synod of Bishops added that he disapproved of the style: ‘I think a fraternal correction and dialogue is very positive. But why a public denunciation? It doesn’t help. It only polarizes further.’” By A.C. Wimmer, Catholic News Agency


St. Louis Archdiocese continues planning to reduce 178 parishes to about 100 parishes
“Roman Catholics from throughout the St. Louis region are reluctant to cross highways and rivers to worship God in different places than they are accustomed to. That was one piece of feedback from a group of about 220 priests recently gathered to see dozens of potential ways to restructure parishes in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. ‘It was a great first round of conversation,” the Rev. Christopher Martin, who is helping oversee the ‘All Things New’ initiative, told the Post-Dispatch on Thursday (Aug. 25) about the five-hour meeting.” By Jesse Bogan, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

Young Poles abandoning ‘frozen’ Catholic Church
“It is still one of Europe’s most Catholic countries but Poland is seeing a rapid secularization — particularly among younger generations. ‘The children on my courses barely know who Adam and Eve were,’ said Dawid Gospodarek, a journalist from the Catholic press agency who teaches ethics and religious culture at a school in Warsaw. According to the latest polls by the CBOS institute, 84 percent of Poles say they are Catholic and 42 percent say they are practicing. Among 18-24-year-olds, only 23 percent say they are practicing — compared to 69 percent in 1992.” By

New San Diego cardinal says political divisions are flowing into Church
“The only American in Pope Francis’s new crop of cardinals has pushed back against characterizations that he is somehow in rivalry with other local prelates who didn’t receive the red hat, saying such depictions are the result of a problematic polarization in U.S. Catholicism. Speaking to Crux during a sit-down interview in Rome, Cardinal-Designate Robert McElroy of San Diego, who will get his red hat from Pope Francis on Saturday (Aug. 27), said one of the most problematic trends in American Catholicism is ‘polarization along ideological lines, mostly within the Anglo community.’” By Elise Ann Allen,


The ‘People of God’ and the continued battle over Vatican II
“‘The real problem with popes,’ a friend once said to me, ‘is that they die.’ What he meant was that no matter how consequential a particular papacy might be, it is still at the mercy of the next pope, who might have a radically different ecclesial agenda and a whole different set of emphases, theological and pastoral. And given the fact that the memory is a faculty which both remembers and forgets, with the forgetting often leading to a creative ‘misremembering’ (theologian Cyril O’Regan’s famous term) of the now past papacy, the door is left wide open for the revisionists to ply their trade in the interests of discrediting previous papacies in order to promote the agenda of the new guy in Rome.” By The Catholic World Report

A Eucharistic revival that renews the Church
“The Catholic bishops of the United States have launched a eucharistic revival over the next three years. Pope Francis has made a singular contribution to that effort with the recent release of his powerful and theologically rich apostolic letter on the liturgical formation of the people of God, ‘Desiderio Desideravi’ (‘I have earnestly desired’). He tells us that his aim is to ‘invite the whole Church to rediscover, to safeguard, and to live the truth and power of the Christian celebration’ as a means of more fully appreciating ‘the beauty of the Christian celebration and its necessary consequences for the life of the Church.’” By Cardinal Blasé Cupich,

Rome consistory showed Pope Francis’ vision is taking root
“The Barque of Peter is currently floating along several currents. Pope Francis’ pontificate has brought about a renewed focus on pastoral theology, bringing the insights of the post-conciliar church in Latin America to the center of the universal church. It has placed concern for the environment at the heart of the church’s social teachings, and reoriented the work of the Roman Curia, as embodied in the apostolic constitution Praedicate Evangelium. It has emphasized the church as the bearer of God’s tenderness, rather than as a bastion of doctrinal clarity. And, perhaps most importantly, it has revived synodality as a means of church governance.” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter


A lawsuit window for Pa. survivors of childhood sexual abuse could open as early as next May
“State legislative leaders are pledging to vote early next year on a constitutional amendment giving adults who say they survived sexual abuse as children two years to sue their alleged abusers and any institution that sheltered them. A 2018 Grand Jury report showed the statute of limitations may have closed for hundreds of Pennsylvanians who were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests as children decades ago. That report recommended lawmakers give all abuse survivors more time to sue.” By


When words hurt instead of heal. What never to say to someone who has survived abuse by Catholic clergy
“As the daughter of a clergy abuse victim-survivor and a lay person who works for the Church, Jerri von den Bosch speaks often with fellow Catholics about her family’s experience with the abuse crisis: In June of 2021, I wrote 10 Things Never to Say to Survivors of Clergy Sexual Abuse that covered some of the hurtful things people sometimes say to clergy abuse survivors. Included were some more supportive things they might say instead. Many people read it and several clergy abuse survivors, including my mom, responded with additional things that they have heard from Catholics and would add to the list. I believe that most people who say these things are well intentioned; they are just not aware of how to walk with someone who has experienced trauma. So I present 6 Things Never to Say About Clergy Abuse Survivors, along with some things that you, as a supporter of abuse survivors, can say in response.” By Jerri von den Bosch, Milwaukee Independent


A priest left California after he was accused of sexual misconduct involving a parishioner. Now he’s in Fairbanks
“A Catholic priest who faced allegations in a civil lawsuit that he engaged in a sexual relationship with a ‘vulnerable’ adult parishioner is now working in Alaska. The Rev. Gerardus Hauwert arrived in Alaska this summer to serve Catholic parishes in the Fairbanks area, Robert Fath, vicar general of the Diocese of Fairbanks, announced to parishioners in an email in July. Hauwert is now a priest at Immaculate Conception Church, which describes itself as Interior Alaska’s oldest Catholic church.” By Michelle Theriault Boots, Anchorage Daily News


Ruling that bankruptcy negates sexual abuse lawsuit is under challenge
“The Arizona Court of Appeals has agreed to hear arguments on whether federal bankruptcy law precludes a victim from suing the employers of the two Catholic priests who allegedly sexually abused her as a child several decades ago. The woman, referred to in court records as Jane HM Doe, is now about 50. She filed a nine-claim lawsuit in February 2020 against the Roman Catholic Church of the Diocese of Phoenix, St. Mark Roman Catholic Parish Phoenix, and the Society of the Divine Savior USA Province concerning sexual abuse she alleges she suffered as a student at St. Mark in the late 1970s and early 1980s.” By Arizona Daily Independent


A Cheshire woman’s long wait to see her abuser named by the Springfield Diocese is over
“A year ago, Sheri Biasin of Cheshire was still waiting for the Catholic priest who molested her to be listed as ‘credibly accused’ by the Springfield Diocese. The diocese, in a spirit of disclosure and healing, had just changed its policy to include priests who died before those accusations surfaced. But that new and more complete list, released in June 2021, did not mention the Rev. Daniel Gill. Now it does. The diocese said Wednesday (Aug. 31) it added Gill to its online roster Aug. 1, ‘based on a credible finding by the diocesan Review Board.’ By Larry Parnass, The Berkshire Eagle

Diocese issues quarterly report on update to list of credibly accused clergy
“As part of its ongoing commitment to provide regular communications regarding its Safe Environment efforts, the Diocese of Springfield is today (Sept. 6) issuing a quarterly report on an update made to the online listing of ‘Finding of Credibility of Allegations of Sexual Abuse of a Minor.’ On Aug. 1, 2022, the name of the late Father Daniel L. Gill was added to the list based on a credible finding by the diocesan Review Board. Father Gill was ordained in 1958 and passed away in 1995. The abuse reported in this allegation dates back to 1967 to 1971 and involved a minor.” By

Former St. Mary’s pastor named among ‘credibly accused priests’
“A priest who once worked at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Padanaram is among those added to the Diocese of Fall River’s list of ‘credibly accused’ clergy last week. The diocese said the Rev. John Gomes, who retired from St. Mary’s in 2012, is accused of sexually abusing a minor. The alleged abuse happened ‘decades ago’ and did not occur at St. Mary’s or involve the parish, Rev. David Frederici said. Gomes also served in Fall River, Somerset, and Taunton, according to the diocese.” By Morgan Beard, Dartmouth Week

New Bedford priest accused of sexually abusing boy in Massachusetts and Maine
“A former altar boy and student at St. Anthony of Padua School is accusing a former priest of sexually abusing him in the rectory, in his car, and during an overnight trip to Maine more than 30 years ago. The Diocese of Fall River from the ministry in February and added his name to the list of clergy who were credibly accused of sexual abuse of children. Now, an Acushnet man is alleging that Degagne had molested him repeatedly when he was 12 and 13 years old in 1988 and 1989.” By Amanda Milkovits, The Boston Globe, on

Man who went to Arlington Catholic High School sues three former archdiocese officials he says hired the vice principal he charges molested him
“A former student at Arlington Catholic High School yesterday (Aug. 25) sued two former priests in the Archdiocese of Boston – and a third, as yet unidentified priest – whom he blames in part for the times he says the school’s then vice principal came into the room where he was serving detention and molested him. The suit was filed in Suffolk Superior Court yesterday (Aug. 25) by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who has spent much of the last 20 years in  both in the Archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere.” By


Roman Catholic priest gets record expunged in dropped St. Louis sodomy case
“A St. Louis judge Thursday (Aug. 25) granted a Roman Catholic priest’s petition to expunge his 2014 arrest record in a St. Louis statutory sodomy case dropped by city prosecutors in 2015.

Circuit Judge Jason Sengheiser found that the Rev. Xiu Hui ‘Joseph’ Jiang, 39, had met his legal burden to have the April 2014 arrest record expunged. Police arrested Jiang based on a boy’s accusation that Jiang molested him in the restroom at St. Louis the King school, the elementary school at the Cathedral Basilica.” By Joel Currier, St. Louis Post-Dispatch


Diocese objects to 74 non-diocesan claims
“On July 22, the Diocese of Rochester filed objections asking the court to disallow and expunge 74 claims (including several duplicates) asserted in its chapter 11 bankruptcy case. In an affidavit filed with the bankruptcy court, Father Daniel J. Condon, diocesan chancellor, noted that ‘A number of claims allege that the survivor was abused by a member of a religious order, a lay employee, volunteer, resident or student of a school or facility owned and operated by a religious order or other non-Diocesan entity.’’ By Karen M. Franz, Catholic Courier

With little explanation, diocese has reinstated 17 priests accused of sexual abuse
“Seventeen of the 29 Buffalo Diocese priests put on administrative leave since 2018 due to a sex abuse allegation involving a minor were later allowed to resume their priestly activities. The diocese publicized the priests’ returns to ministry by stating that a review board had examined the claims and found them to be ‘not substantiated.’ Diocese officials maintain that the review process is rigorous, independent and designed to protect children from potential abuse.” By Jay Tokasz, The Buffalo News

New York Archdiocese goes to court to block probe of sex abuse involving Bishop Howard Hubbard
“The Archdiocese of New York has gone to court to keep under wraps hundreds of pages of records involving an Albany bishop accused of sexually abusing children. The records pertaining to Howard Hubbard, who served as bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany between 1977 and 2014, are being sought in connection with a lawsuit brought against him and another former priest. Both have been accused of numerous child sex abuse claims, according to an Albany Times Union report. Hubbard has vigorously denied the allegations, and the former priest — Francis Melfe — is now dead.” By Isabel Vincent, New York Daily Post


Yakima diocese priest arrested for rape
“A Yakima Diocese priest has been arrested in Benton County on suspicion of third-degree rape with an aggravating factor of being a person of trust. Reverend Tomás Vázquez Téllez, 49, was arrested on Wednesday, Sept. 7th. He is now in the Benton County Jail awaiting his charges. The arrest follows a Kennewick Police Department investigation of a reported rape that occurred August 19th and 20th at the suspect’s home in the city.” By KIMA-TV News


‘We have to hold people to justice’: Clergy abuse victim opens up; AG Kaul shares what the state is doing
“As a number of protesters gathered outside of Rembert Weakland’s funeral, who was archbishop of Milwaukee from 1977 to 2002 after a sexual abuse scandal, a survivor of clergy abuse is speaking up and his concern with the statewide Clergy and Faith Leaders Abuse initiative. ‘We have to hold people to justice no matter who they are,’ said Peter Isely, director of Nate’s Mission and survivor of clergy abuse. At just 13 years old, Isely said his abuse began less than a week after attending a minor seminary. The abuse done by one of his faith leaders.” By Yukare Nakayama,

Victims of clergy sexual abuse to hold press conference objecting to public funeral celebrating former Archbishop Robert Weakland
“In 2019, the Archdiocese removed Weakland’s name and statue from the downtown Cathedral acknowledging his guilt in protecting abusive clergy. This is why victims expected a private funeral mass after the announcement of his death last week. But Archbishop Listecki rejected this option in favor of a public celebration, inviting city leaders, the public, and the press to attend. During his tenure as Archbishop of Milwaukee, Weakland transferred dozens of known sex offenders into new assignments where they were warmly welcomed by trusting Catholic families. These offenders then proceeded to abuse their children.” News Release from


Families of clergy abuse victims’ new legal precedent paves way for litigation
“A Supreme Court ruling in relation to a lawsuit levelled against the Catholic Church has been heralded as a potential new precedent for loved ones of alleged victims of clergy abuse. The court this week ruled the Catholic Church could not use a legal argument pertaining to the so-called Ellis defense. The defense was named for choirboy and prevented abuse survivors from suing unincorporated organizations such as the church.” By Laura Mayers, ABC Ballarat


Sex misconduct suit hangs over Ouellet
“Cardinal Marc Ouellet’s legal battle over allegations he made unwanted sexual advances toward a young intern over a decade ago might place him between the Church’s Code of Canon Law and Canadian law. Between the Church’s long and complex tradition of law and Canada’s common law system, there’s not much agreement on what constitutes sexual assault or how allegations are investigated and brought to trial, one of Canada’s most senior canonists told The Catholic Register, Msgr. Roch Pagé, professor emeritus of Canon Law at Saint Paul University in Ottawa.” By Michael Swan, The Catholic Register

Though Harper government agreed to ‘forever discharge’ Catholic Church of settlement obligation more can be done
“A 2015 decision by Canada may have released the Catholic entities from their $25 million settlement for residential school survivors, but that doesn’t mean the Catholic corporation still can’t do something substantial, says Dr. Cynthia Wesley-Esquimaux, chair of the Governing Circle for the National Truth and ‘Maybe it’s not going to be $25 million. Maybe it’s going to be the churches are going to say ‘in lieu of the money, maybe we can do something … about the Doctrine of Discovery’, because that was very much part of the discussion when the Pope was here,’ said Wesley-Esquimaux.” By Shari Narine, Regina Leader-Post


Catholic Church reveals list of 26 alleged pedophile priests in Columbia
“The Catholic Church in Colombia has released the names of 26 priests who were investigated for alleged sexual abuse of minors there, local media reported Saturday (Aug. 27). The Archdiocese of Medellin revealed the list of those accused between 1995 and 2019 in response to a court ruling in favor of Juan Pablo Barrientos, a journalist investigating an alleged network of pedophile clergy. “Most of these priests … were suspended for a little while, and went back to being priests again,” said Barrientos, who has been investigating sexual assaults by priests for years, in a video released Saturday (Aug. 27).” By Agence France-Presse on


Priests transferred by German diocese continued to abuse
“A German diocese transferred priests who were alleged or convicted perpetrators of abuse to new locations in and outside the diocese, where they reoffended against young people and children, according to a new report. German Catholic news agency KNA said the independent commission’s interim report on abuse in the diocese from 1946 to 2021 showed 513 victims of abuse in the Trier Diocese’s area of responsibility ‘could be identified by name or anonymously’ for the period from 1946 to 2021.’In a large number of cases at least … no measures were taken on the part of the diocese to protect potential victims from sexual abuse,’ the commission said.” By


I once looked up to my uncle, the Jesuit priest and teacher – then I discovered the monstrous truth
“On a summer evening in the first decade of the new millennium, I had arranged to meet a friend at a gastropub in London. I walked into the large, open-plan room, a crowd already at the counter. There was no sign of my friend, so I went to the bar to get a drink while I waited. ‘You next?’ asked the man beside me. He had traces of silver in his hair, somewhere in his 50s. ‘No, after you,’ I said, before we started to chat. I told him my name. I wasn’t expecting what came next.” By David Orr, The Guardian


Every single victim of this monster deserves justice, says brave abuse survivor as more complaints against ‘Fr. Filth’
“Evil pedophile and former ‘singing priest’ Fr Tony Walsh is at the center of five new complaints to Gardai, The Irish Sun on Sunday (Aug. 28) can reveal. The fiend — now known as ‘Fr Filth’ — is being investigated by the Protective Services Bureau over the abuse of five boys in the 1970s and 1980s. Statements have now been taken by the abuse victims and a file will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions.” By Stephen Breen, The Irish Sun


Nicaraguan judge sentences priest to 49 years for rape
“A judge in Nicaragua sentenced a Roman Catholic priest to 49 years in prison Friday (Sept. 2) for the rape of a 14-year-old girl. Judge Edén Aguilar Castro sentenced Rev. José Leonardo Urbina to 24 years in prison on two counts of abuse and 25 years for one count of rape. However, Aguilar Castro ruled that Urbina would serve only 30 years. Nicaraguan law limits maximum sentences in most cases to 30 years.” By Associated Press

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It’s Not about the Furniture

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz, “Give Us This Day”

The commitment of Pope Francis to church reform is real and profound but widely misunderstood. Understandably, many of us think about church reform in a strictly institutional key. We want to change structures, laws, and policies in the light of basic Gospel values. Pope Francis is not opposed to structural reform; indeed, he has made considerable progress on that front. But for Francis, reform is not simply a matter of rearranging ecclesial furniture; it is about becoming a different kind of church. And the term he most frequently invokes in describing what that different kind of church looks like is “synodality.”

The word “synod” comes from the Greek synodos and means “a shared journey.” Francis imagines a church bound together as a people on a common journey. What marks that journey is a shared commitment to discipleship, a determination to follow Christ where he leads through the impulse of the Spirit. Consequently, synodality entails a spirituality that attunes us to the gentle voice of the Spirit heard in scripture, tradition, and in the lives of those we accompany along the way. This synodal spirituality has two essential features: vulnerable encounter and openness to conversion.

An authentic synodal spirituality impels us toward an authentic encounter with others. We can grasp something of this spirituality by way of the Hasidic philosopher Martin Buber. Buber contended there was no such thing as an autonomous “I.” We are always implicated in relationships. We spend much of our lives in what he referred to as “I-It” relationships, that is, relationships in which we place people and things in categories that predetermine and constrain how we engage them. So, when I go to a restaurant and order a meal, I am inclined to address the person taking my order as nothing more than a “waiter.” This is natural and often unavoidable but, by placing that person in a predetermined box, much of who they really are is filtered out in advance.

Yet Buber also suggests we are capable of entering into an “I-Thou” relationship. In this relationship, I abandon the categories and presuppositions that predispose me to engage you as “a certain kind of person.” I am invited to simply be present to you in all your marvelously mysterious and idiosyncratic depth. I allow your deepest truth to emerge in our interaction. This relationship is inherently vulnerable as we risk hearing insights and perspectives that may differ from and even challenge our own. Having acknowledged our differences and recognized even deep disagreements, the I-Thou relationship requires a faith that admits there might emerge from our encounter something holy, something of God.

This synodal encounter may also call us to conversion. We may have to abandon the impulse to foreclose honest listening prematurely. We may have to confront a deeply engrained instinct to defend the distinctive attitudes and convictions that mark our particular “tribe,” often at the expense of getting at the deep truth of things. We will have to learn to listen, not for a confirmation of our own “rightness,” but for the gentle voice of the Spirit.

When we cultivate this synodal spirituality, we as a church will be better equipped to discern where the Spirit is leading us and to commit ourselves to those ecclesial reforms which faithful missionary discipleship requires.

Richard R. Gaillardetz is the Joseph Professor of Catholic Systematic Theology at Boston College and the author of numerous books, including By What Authority? Most recently, he is the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Vatican II.

From the September 2022 issue of Give Us This Day, (Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press, 2022). Used with permission.

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