Archive for October, 2022
BOSTON, Mass., Oct. 27, 2022―Voice of the Faithful, which has worked for 20 years to reform Catholic Church governance that causes and abets clergy sexual abuse of minors, commends New York Attorney General Letitia James for forcing government oversight of areas of the Buffalo Diocese’s operations dealing with clergy abuse allegations.
On Oct. 25, the Diocese of Buffalo agreed to such oversight under a deal with the State of New York that mandates reforms that include restrictions on accused priests monitored by Kathleen McChesney. McChesney is a former head of the U.S. Bishops’ Conference Office of Child and Youth Protection and was a high-ranking FBI official. The New York attorney general had sued the diocese for violating the state’s laws governing religious charities by failing to follow Church rules regarding abuse allegations.
Mary Pat Fox, VOTF president, said she is angry and heartbroken that the government has had to do what the Church has failed to do. “That certain bishops were allowed to thwart the Church’s own laws and do so for such an extended period of time is unconscionable,” she said. “Thank God someone has found a way to check such aberrant behavior that put our children at risk.”
As The New York Times reported, two former Buffalo bishops, Richard Malone and Edward Grosz, shielded more than two dozen priests from Vatican investigation, allowing them to retire or go on medical leave with full salaries and benefits. The agreement with the state banned both bishops for life from any charitable fiduciary roles under the agreement with the state.
VOTF did some of its earliest work in child protection when it started in 2002 in Boston, where Malone was an auxiliary bishop. VOTF, for example, helped parishes follow guidelines set up by the U.S. Catholic bishops in the so-called 2002 Dallas Charter for the protection of children and has continued its advocacy for the past two decades. In 2022, VOTF completed its first report “Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices.” The study included all U.S. dioceses, and the Diocese of Buffalo received a score of 72 out of 100.
This may indicate that present Buffalo Bishop Michael Fisher’s statement in response to the oversight deal may be true, at least in part. He said, “The settlement that the diocese and the New York attorney general have agreed to confirms that the rigorous policies and protocols the diocese has put in place over the past several years are the right ones …”
While rigorous child protection policies and protocols are essential, unless diocese follow them, they will do no good. If the Church continues to shield abusing priests in secrecy and deception, the effectiveness of child protection polices will not be known until years in the future when today’s victims are finally able to come to terms with their abuse and report it, and such policies do not address past offenses.
Voice of the Faithful®: Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Voice of the Faithful Statement, Oct. 27, 2022, contact Nick Ingala, email@example.com, (781) 559-3360
The (Catholic) church reached a settlement with the New York attorney general after a lawsuit accusing officials of a years-long cover-up of sexual abuseThe New York Times
“The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has agreed to submit to sweeping government oversight of its operations in a legal settlement reached on Tuesday with the New York attorney general, Letitia James, resolving a lawsuit that accused the church and its officials of a years-long cover-up of sexual abuse.
“The agreement, which is the first of its kind in New York, includes no financial penalties but instead mandates a series of structural reforms within the diocese, particularly regarding its handling of abuse allegations.
“Under the deal, priests who have been credibly accused of abuse will be assigned an independent monitor with law enforcement experience to ensure they comply with a list of restrictions, which include a ban on watching pornography, performing priestly duties and having a post office box.”
By Liam Stack, The New York Times — Read more …
Pope Francis marks 60th anniversary of Vatican II opening by pleading for the church to overcome polarization
“Pope Francis on Oct. 11 marked the opening of the 60th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council — a three-year period that launched landmark reforms in the Catholic Church’s relationship to the world around it and the church’s own liturgy and practices — by pleading for the church to ‘overcome all polarization and preserve our communion.’ In a Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica, which served as the council’s chambers during the 1962-1965 meetings, Francis said the council, which was inaugurated by Pope St. John XXIII, was ‘one great response’ to the question ‘Do you love me?’ posed by Christ to his disciples.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
- Pope marks 60th anniversary of Second Vatican Council, By Association Press on USNews.com
- Did Vatican II fail? Are we allowed to ask the question? By Zac Davis, America: The Jesuit Review
- Vatican II at 60: Is Pope Francis or Ross Douthat right? By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Pope Francis extends Synod of Bishops a year, two meetings now planned
“Pope Francis announced on Oct. 16 that he is significantly expanding the timeframe for his ongoing consultation process for the world’s Catholics. The Vatican meeting of the Synod of Bishops, originally planned for next year, will now be held across two sessions: one in October 2023, and another in October 2024. The synod process, which has been underway for more than a year, has involved discussions with Catholics across the world on a range of sensitive topics. The Oct. 16 announcement indicates Francis wants the process, and the discussions, to continue on much longer than formerly planned.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
Who knew? The sexual-abuse crisis and ‘epistemic injustice’
“What have we learned from the Catholic Church’s sexual-abuse scandal? What didn’t we know before that we know now? One way to answer these questions is to catalogue the revelations of the past few decades. To begin with, we now know, better than we did before, the extent of the abuse … The injustice of sexual violence is often compounded by what philosophers call ‘epistemic injustices’: wrongs done to people as knowers. One common kind of epistemic injustice is testimonial injustice, when a person’s credibility as someone with knowledge to convey is discounted because of prejudice on the hearer’s part.” By Bernard G. Prusak, Commonweal
Vatican’s mishandling of high-profile abuse cases extends its foremost crisis
“Three years ago, Pope Francis said the Catholic Church was committed to eradicating the ‘evil’ of abuse. The pope and other church leaders drew up new guidelines to handle accusations. They pledged transparency. They said victims’ needs would come first. ‘A change of mentality,’ Francis called it. But two recent major cases suggest that the church, for all its vows to improve, is still falling into familiar traps and extending its foremost crisis.” By Chico Harlan and Amada Coletta, The Washington Post
As Sex Abuse Claims Continue to Double, Catholic Church’s Bankruptcy Stalls Justice
“The sexual abuse scandal roiling the Catholic Church, although mostly under the radar in the recent past, has not gone away. In California–and elsewhere–the lawsuits are mounting — middle-aged men, saying they were sexually assaulted as children by a Boy Scout leader or a priest. A woman, now in her late 30s, detailing how she was allegedly assaulted in a center for foster children … At least 750 of those lawsuits filed since January 2020 are against Catholic dioceses, and more than 800 people are in the process of filing to beat a Dec. 31 deadline, according to lawyers involved in the cases.” By Amanda James, The Voice of New York
FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION
Synodality and the perennial temptations of power, pleasure, and wealth
“If one looks back on the Synods of Bishops during the pontificate of Pope Francis, and the controversies that have accompanied them, one can notice that even with such disparate themes as the family, youth, the Amazon, and synodality, many of the same topics have arisen again and again: divorce and remarriage, contraception, LGBTQ issues; the role of the laity in church governance, the ordination of women and married men; the role of the laity in Church governance, especially in gaining control over Church finances and property. That these same issues have bubbled up again and again is, oddly, both surprising, and not surprising at all.” By The Catholic World Report
Pope announces that synod on ‘synodality’ will be extended to 2024
“Pope Francis Sunday announced that his ongoing Synod of Bishops on Synodality will be extended for an additional year to allow, as he put it, more time for discernment and a greater understanding of the concept as a key dimension of church life. As things now stand, bishops and other participants will gather for an initial meeting of the synod Oct. 4-29, 2023, in Rome, to be followed by a year of reflection with another culminating meeting set for October 2024.” By Elise Ann Allen, Cruxnow.com
- Pope extends reform process for year amid apathy, criticism, By Associated Press on Spectrum News
The three most important lessons from the synod
“Now that the church has gathered together reports from nearly all of the bishops’ conferences around the world, Pope Francis has declared the first phase of the church’s two-year-long Synod on Synodality over. But that first phase of consultation with the faithful has been more than just an exercise in gathering information. It has also offered some valuable lessons. It will be crucial to keep these in mind during the synod’s second phase—meetings of “continental assemblies” from January to March 2023—and then the third phase, the international assembly of bishops at a later date.” By The Editors at America: The Jesuit Review
The Holy Spirit is guiding the synodal process. But how?
“The Holy Spirit was the guest of honor at a recent gathering of church leaders on the topic of synodality. Literally. After one panelist suggested the practice of leaving an empty chair at meetings to symbolize room for the Holy Spirit, the next panel featured — you guessed it — an empty chair. And organizers of the event were attributing to the Spirit the perfect timing that saw the U.S. national synthesis document — compiled after diocesan and other synodal gatherings throughout the U.S. — released just days before the Sept. 22-23 Catholic Partnership Summit in Washington, D.C.” By Heidi Schlumpf, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican II didn’t fail. It’s just getting started
“I sometimes wish that I could travel back to see my parish in the 1950s in West Philadelphia. The great domed church, St. Francis de Sales, towering over Victorian houses and Edwardian apartment buildings, can seat 800, but back then it needed simultaneous Masses in the lower church and the parish hall to fit all the attendees. I wish I could still watch that many people streaming toward the church each Sunday. We are not now that strength which we once were. The loss of that strength is hard, but it can end up being the source of renewal.” By Terence Sweeney, America: The Jesuit Review
Change is not easy in the Catholic Church, whether Vatican II or Pope Francis
“Sixty years ago, about a month after I entered the Jesuit novitiate in Los Gatos, California, the Second Vatican Council opened in Rome. No one bothered to tell the novices about it. The council went on for three years, during which I took vows and studied Latin and Greek without knowing what was happening at the council. In those pre-Vatican II days, the novitiate was what sociologists call a ‘total institution,’ completely isolated from the rest of the world, with no access to newspapers, radio or television. Except when I went to the dentist, I did not talk to a woman outside my family for four years. The idea was to insulate us from the world so we could devote ourselves to our Jesuit formation.” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service
Vatican II: Five views sixty years on
“Everybody I know seems to be writing something on Vatican II these days and I began feeling a bit left out of the fun. So, I thought I would jump into the mosh pit of pundits to offer my take. The many recent commentaries, if I’m allowed the chutzpah to summarize them, fall into five basic categories. First, there is the view that Vatican II was a wonderful Council in full continuity with the tradition. But it was implemented poorly and hijacked by progressives, who made liberal use of the mass media to spread the view that the Council was about liberalizing the Church in a culturally accommodationist direction.” By Catholic World Report
Diocese confirms French bishop disciplined by Vatican for sexual abuse
“The Diocese of Créteil in France confirmed last week that its former bishop had been credibly accused of sexual abuse and ordered to live a life of ‘prayer and penance’ by the Vatican last year. Bishop Michel Santier retired in January 2021 at the age of 73, two years before the age at which bishops are required to submit a letter of resignation to the pope. Seven months prior, in June 2020, Santier had told Catholics in his diocese he would be retiring early for “health reasons,” according to a report by La Croix.” By Hannah Brockhaus, Catholic News Agency
Major survey of Catholic priests finds trust issues, burnout, fear of false allegations
“A study that claims to be the largest national survey of Catholic priests conducted in more than 50 years has found that despite relatively high levels of personal well-being and fulfillment among priests as a whole, a significant percentage of priests have issues with burnout, distrust in their bishop, and fears of being falsely accused of misconduct. Conducted by The Catholic Project, a research group at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the study released at an Oct. 19 press conference used survey responses from 3,516 priests across 191 dioceses and eparchies in the United States.” By Jonah McKeown, Catholic News Agency
- New study of priests shows a distruct of bishops, fears of false sex abuse allegations and widespread burnout, By Michael J. O’Loughlin, America: The Jesuit Review
- Study of priests shows distruct of bishops, fear of false abuse accusations, By Rhina Guidos, National Catholic Reporter
How Catholics became prisoners of Vatican II
“The Second Vatican Council, the great revolution in the life of the modern Catholic Church, opened 60 years ago this week in Rome. So much of that 1960s-era world has passed away, but the council is still with us; indeed for a divided church its still-unfolding consequences cannot be escaped. For a long time this would have been a liberal claim. In the wars within Catholicism that followed the council, the conservatives interpreted Vatican II as a discrete and limited event — a particular set of documents that contained various shifts and evolutions (on religious liberty and Catholic-Jewish relations especially), and opened the door to a revised, vernacular version of the Mass.” By Ross Douthat, The New York Times
The secret to healing the church is looking outward, not inward
“Last month, I looked at the U.S. bishops’ conference national synthesis of synodal reports, concluding that the process seems to have been more successful than anticipated and commending those who wrote the report for its frankness and comprehensive quality. I also noted that one section of that report warranted greater attention, the section titled ‘Social Mission of the Church,’ and today will offer that attention. It is only one paragraph long …” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Why is San Francisco’s top Catholic shielding pedophile priests
“If you grew up under the influence of the Catholic Church, you likely know someone who was sexually abused by a priest. In my family, the destruction manifested in the form of a man who, after several years training for the priesthood, returned home and spent the next few decades preying on boys in the Central Valley. He would eventually die alone, ostracized as a registered sex offender, but his evil lives on in the anguish of the victims he permanently damaged. His name does not appear on any official list of abusive clergy, but I count his horrific crimes as part of what I consider the Catholic Church’s systematic and global campaign of child rape.” By Gil Duran, San Francisco Examiner
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
IICSA concludes with a demand for mandatory reporting of child abuse
“Mandatory reporting of child sexual abuse must be enforced by UK law to protect the 13 million children in England and Wales from the ‘vile and degrading’ abuse found within institutions across the country, the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) has concluded. Its final report, which includes 19 other recommendations and covers all 15 of its investigations into institutional child abuse across the UK, was published on Thursday (Oct. 21). The executive summary describes child abuse as a ‘global crisis’ which has been exacerbated in recent decades by the internet — the regulation of which is a key concern in the report.” By Hattie Williams, Church Times
- Inquiry publishes concluding report, By Independent Inquiry Child Sexual Abuse
These Catholics are trying to work within the church to change how sexual abuse is addressed
“When a group of local Catholics decided to expand their advocacy work outside a Milwaukee living room, they had to come up with a name for their new organization. They settled on ‘Awake Milwaukee.’ As Catholics who wanted to push for change on the issue of sexual abuse from within the church, the name represented their own views as well as what they hoped to do for others. ‘We felt like we were finally awake. We were finally paying attention to something that had been there all along,’ said executive director Sara Larson. ‘It’s also what we’re aiming to do for our broader community: to help people wake up to this reality.’” By Sophie Carson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Clergy abuse has scarred minority Catholic communities
“The image of a white victim does not tell the complete story of clergy sexual abuse in the United States, according to a number of panelists during an Oct. 5 online forum titled ‘Neglected Voices in the Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis.’ Blacks have suffered from clergy sex abuse, but ‘it’s an invisible trauma. It’s an unknown trauma because there are Black victims, survivors, of the sexual abuse crisis,’ said Father Bryan Massingale, author of ‘Racial Justice in the Catholic Church.’ ‘Yet in the Catholic imagination, we usually see a white face — a white male face, overwhelmingly.’” By Mark Pattison, Catholic News Service
Hundreds of priests with SF archdiocese accused of sexual abuse
“Victims of clergy abuse and their advocates gathered at the headquarters for the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Thursday (Sept. 29) to hand deliver a list they’ve spent years compiling, which includes the names of hundreds of priests accused of preying on children, abusing some of them for years. The list is 312 names long and goes back more than 100 years. While many of the accused predators are dead, some remain working at Bay Area churches today.” By Bigad Shaban, Michael Bott, Mark Villarreal, Alex Bozovic, Grace Galletti and Roselyn Romero, NBC-TV Bay Area News
St. Sabina Church stands by Rev. Pfleger amid new sex abuse accusation: ‘Father Mike, this is your army’
“A day after the Rev. Michael Pfleger was accused again of child sex abuse, the popular priest was absent from Sunday Mass at St. Sabina Church. But he was the focus of the service. ‘Show Father Mike what it means to be persistent in prayer,’ the Rev. Tom Walsh told the congregation during the 2 1⁄2-hour service punctuated by support for Pfleger. Walsh directed congregants to face a camera at the rear of the church broadcasting the service on the internet, where he said Pfleger would be watching.” By David Struett, Chicago Sun-Times
- Rev. Michael Pfleger removed from St. Sabina again as archdiocese investigates another decades-old sex abuse claim, By Mitchell Armentrout and Zack Miller, Chicago Sun-Times
Archdiocese of Chicago adds dozens of new names to list of priests, clergy accused of sex abuse
“The Archdiocese of Chicago’s list of priests accused of sex abuse nearly doubled Friday (Oct. 14) with the addition of dozens of names, including priests who were accused when they were no longer alive. For years, the Archdiocese of Chicago has publicly named priests with substantiated allegations of sex abuse, but its list did not include the names of priests accused when they were deceased and clergy from different religious orders.” By Sarah Schulte and Ross Weidner, ABC-TV7 News
Catholic diocese: Brighton priest admitted to sexual relationship with teen
“The Diocese of Lansing in a statement said that a priest who the Michigan Attorney General declined to prosecute for having sex with a minor was found to have done so during a separate church investigation. The priest, Shaun Lowery, served at Brighton’s St. Mary Magdalen parish from 2019 to 2021. In the diocese statement, spokesman for the Diocese of Lansing David Kerr said: ‘Father Lowery engaged in immoral sexual acts, grievously violated his vow of celibacy, and gave scandal to the young persons involved in this case, as well as to the wider church.’” By Sophia Lada, Livingston Daily
Priest convicted of sexual assault on boy in Michigan church
“A Catholic priest has been convicted of sexual assaulting a 7-year-old boy in 2004 in a Detroit-area church. A Wayne County jury convicted the Rev. Joseph ‘Jack’ Baker on Thursday (Oct. 13) on a charge of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Baker, 60, gasped as the verdict was read, The Detroit News reported. Baker was a priest at St. Mary Parish in Wayne when Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel charged him in July 2019 with sexually abusing a minor.” By Associated Press
6,000 child pornography photos found on retired St. Louis priest’s electronics, court documents say
“A retired priest from St. Louis pleaded guilty to federal charges of possession of child pornography. According to court documents, James Beighlie, 72, admitted in court that colleagues of his at the Congregation of the Mission in St. Louis found compromising images of him on a church printer on May 17, 2021. The church launched its own investigation and called the FBI when videos of minors performing sex acts were found on electronics used by Beighlie. Investigators found 6,000 images of child sexual abuse on one computer, including 3,000 photos of child pornography and 2,992 images of child erotica. Another computer had 236 photos and 40 videos of child sexual abuse.” By KMOV-TV4 News
Former R.I. Catholic priest facing child-pornography charges is back behind bars
“A Catholic priest formerly of Providence who was granted bail last year after being charged with possessing and transferring child pornography is back behind bars after authorities alleged he violated the conditions of his pretrial release while living in Kansas. U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Sullivan last week ordered The Rev. James Jackson detained after a separate child pornography investigation in Kansas this summer led police to search a home in Leawood, Kansas, where Jackson, former pastor at St. Mary’s on Broadway, was staying with a relative.” By Tom Mooney, The Providence Journal
Native Americans recall torture, hatred at boarding schools
“After her mother died when Rosalie Whirlwind Soldier was just four years old, she was put into a Native American boarding school in South Dakota and told her native Lakota language was ‘devil’s speak.’ She recalls being locked in a basement at St. Francis Indian Mission School for weeks as punishment for breaking the school’s strict rules. Her long braids were shorn in a deliberate effort to stamp out her cultural identify. And when she broke her leg in an accident, Whirlwind Soldier said she received shoddy care leaving her with pain and a limp that still hobbles her decades later.” By Matthew Brown, Associated Press
Pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced for sexual abuse of boys at Mortlake
“Prolific pedophile priest Gerald Francis Ridsdale has been sentenced for the sexual abuse of two boys in western Victoria in the 1980s. The 88-year-old appeared in the Warrnambool County Court on Wednesday (Oct. 19) afternoon via video link from Hopkins Correctional Centre in Ararat. Ridsdale pleaded guilty in July to 13 charges relating to the sexual abuse of two teenage boys in 1981 and 1982, when they were aged under 16.” By ABC News
Former Catholic bishop of Auckland questioned over recommending priest facing abuse allegations
“The former Catholic Bishop of Auckland has come under intense questioning at the abuse in care inquiry over recommending a priest, who had three allegations of abuse made against him, for a teaching job. The Catholic Church appeared at the Royal Commission hearing in Auckland on Monday. Bishop Patrick Dunn was responding to complaints made about Tongan priest Sateki Raass. Raass was convicted in March 2019 for assaulting a person under 16, and he was sentenced to do 100 hours of community service. He later resigned from the priesthood.” By Andrew McRae, Radio New Zealand
Historic Portugal church sex abuse ‘truly endemic’ at times
“The head of a lay committee looking into historic child sex abuse in the Portuguese Catholic Church said Tuesday (Oct. 11) the problem in the past had been ‘widespread’ and on some occasions reached ‘truly endemic’ proportions. Pedro Strecht, a psychiatrist who heads Portugal’s Independent Committee for the Study of Child Abuse in the Catholic Church, said his panel has compiled a list of 424 alleged victims. Before the committee started its work in January, senior church officials had claimed that only a handful of cases had occurred.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press
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.
Groome has been teaching at Boston College since 1976 and is the founding director of the doctorate program in theology and education. He regularly lectures on Catholic and religious education, religion and politics, the papacy, pastoral ministry, and spiritual practices. His latest book, What Makes Education Catholic: Spiritual Foundations, and his 2020 book, Faith for the Heart: A Catholic Spirituality, have won top honors from the Catholic Media Association. He has written more than half a dozen other books and is the primary author of religious education curricula that Catholic schools and parishes across the country use. The Credo Series is his most recent theology curriculum for Catholic high schools.
Special guest Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., internationally recognized scholar on women deacons, will lead attendees in Grace before the luncheon and serve as acolyte for the closing Mass. Special guest Fr. Bill Clark, S.J., from the College of the Holy Cross, who led the benediction during VOTF’s virtual conferences, will celebrate Mass. Claire Byrne and Manny Lim will offer the opening song and prayer, as they did at VOTF’s 2021 conference. Renowned pastoral musician and composer Normand Gouin will lead the Paulist Center Boston Community Choir during musical interludes and Mass.
VOTF also will feature a Commemoration Wall at the event to help mark its 20th year. VOTF will provide attendees with paper, pen, and pin to use to jot down and fasten to the Wall a brief comment, remembrance, blessing, hope, or suggestion, acknowledging how the Spirit has changed VOTF members and supporters and the Church over the past 20 years. Selected participants will bring attendees’ commemorations to the altar during the Offertory of the closing Mass, giving VOTF’s work its “authentic meaning, since through the celebration of the Eucharist, it is united to the redemptive sacrifice of Christ.” (Robert B. Williams, “Offertory Catechesis”).
Additionally at the 20th Year Commemoration, VOTF leaders will bring attendees up to date on its programs, projects, and initiatives. Reports will include VOTF’s submission to the General Secretariat for Bishops in Rome for the Synod on Synodality, as well as women’s roles and emerging voices, financial transparency and accountability, child protection and safe environments, and lay involvement in Church governance through the Diocesan Finance Council. The latter two updates will cover VOTF’s first such nationwide studies. VOTF now publishes three comprehensive reviews of all U.S. dioceses’ websites. These reports give the faithful in each parish the information to judge diocesan activities within the purview of each report:
- “Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency: 2021 Report” (VOTF’s fifth such annual report)
- “Measuring Abuse Prevention and Safe Environment Programs as Reported Online in Diocesan Policies and Practices: 2022 Report” (VOTF’s first such report)
- “Measuring Lay Involvement in Governance of the Church by and through the Diocesan Finance Council: 2022 Report” (VOTF’s first such report)
VOTF’s 20th Year Commemoration: 20 Years of Keeping the Faith, Changing the Church takes place Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, from 9:30 a.m. until 5 p.m., at the Boston Marriott Newton Hotel, 2345 Commonwealth Ave., Newton, Mass. Click here for more information and an agenda for the day.
VOTF 20th Year Commemoration Agenda
9:30 a.m. Registration
10:00 a.m. Opening Song and Prayer by Claire Byrne and Manny Lim. Welcome — Mary Pat Fox, VOTF President & Commemoration Moderator, on VOTF Past, Present, and Future Hopes and Dreams. Meet old friends and new, as we gather in the hotel conference room.
11 a.m. VOTF leaders will review and provide the latest updates on major VOTF programs, projects, and initiatives, each followed by Q&A.
- Margaret Roylance, Ph.D., VOTF Trustee and Finance Working Group Chair, reviews Diocesan Financial Transparency and Accountability Reports and presents findings of unique, first-ever study of Lay Involvement in Governance of the Church through Diocesan Finance Councils.
- Patricia Gomez, Ph.D., VOTF Trustee and Child Protection Working Group Co-Chair, reviews Diocesan Child Protection, Abuse Prevention, and Safe Environment Programs.
- Svea Fraser, M.Div., VOTF Trustee and Women’s Emerging Voices Working Group Chair, reviews programs promoting women’s roles in the Church and a women’s ordained diaconate.
- Donna B. Doucette, VOTF Executive Director reviews Listening to the Faithful: Synod 2021-2023 and VOTF’s Synod Sessions Report to Vatican’s General Secretariat of the Synod of Bishops.
Noon Lunch — Grace before meal offered by Phyllis Zagano, Ph.D., Senior Research Associate-in-residence and Adjunct Professor of Religion at Hofstra University, internationally acclaimed Catholic scholar and expert on women’s diaconate, and prolific, award-winning author.
- Click here to view Dr. Zagano’s presentation to VOTF’s 2020 Conference.
1:30 p.m. Keynote Address — Thomas H. Groome, Ed.D., Professor of Theology and Religious Education at Boston College and world-renowned author and religious education expert. His interactive presentation will be Putting Jesus at the Heart of Keeping the Faith and Changing Church.
- Click here to view an excerpt from Dr. Groome’s address sat VOTF’s 10th year Conference in 2011.
3:00 p.m. Break and set up for Mass
3:45 p.m. Mass — Celebrant Rev. William Clark, S.J., S.T.D., Associate Professor of Religious Studies, College of the Holy Cross; acolyte Dr. Zagano; music by Paulist Center Boston Community Choirunder the direction of Normand Gouin, renowned pastoral musician and composer.
- Click here to view Fr. Clark’s closing benediction for VOTF’s 2021 Conference.
4:45 p.m. Closing Remarks — Ms. Fox
Voice of the Faithful’s® mission is to provide a prayerful voice, attentive to the Spirit, through which the Faithful can actively participate in the governance and guidance of the Catholic Church. VOTF’s goals are to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse, to support priests of integrity, and to shape structural change within the Catholic Church. More information is at www.votf.org.
Time for more transparency in Vatican handling of sex abuse
“A Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop alleged to have abused teenaged boys during the 1990s was sanctioned by the Vatican, which limited his movements and prohibited him from contact with minors or with his home country of East Timor. Meanwhile in Yakima, Washington, after a whistleblower raised concerns about the previous bishop’s handling of sexual abuse allegations, the now-retired bishop received a formal reprimand from the Vatican. Though the details of these two cases differ, what they share in common is that the consequences to the church leader under investigation — and even the fact of the investigation itself — were kept secret. That is, until news media shared the truth.” By National Catholic Reporter Editorial Staff
- Vatican urges Timorese Catholics to accept decision on Belo, By UCANews.com
Is net finally closing on U.S. priest who allegedly abused ‘countless’ children?
“In arguably the clearest sign yet that he is under active criminal investigation, a retired Catholic priest from New Orleans who has been publicly accused of molesting ‘countless’ children but never charged has acknowledged that the FBI recently questioned him. Lawrence Hecker, 91, declined to elaborate on exactly when FBI agents met with him or what they asked him as they reportedly lead an investigation into whether clerics serving a Louisiana region that is home to nearly half a million Catholics took children across state lines to abuse them. But, in a brief conversation with the Guardian, Hecker admitted that FBI agents had spoken with him.” By Ramon Antonio Vargas, The Guardian
U.S. Catholic bishops’ report to the Vatican shows a church split by politics
“Catholics in the United States are deeply divided over issues as disparate as LGBTQ inclusion, clerical sexual abuse and celebrating the liturgy, according to a summary of consultations carried out in dioceses across the country in recent months as part of Pope Francis’ Synod on Synodality. ‘Participants felt this division as a profound sense of pain and anxiety,’ the U.S. bishops wrote in a summary released Monday (Sept. 19) to the public after being sent to the Vatican last month.” By Claire Giangravé, Religion News Service
Australian archbishop investigating retired bishop on abuse allegations
“Australian Archbishop Mark Coleridge will conduct an investigation into retired Bishop Christopher Saunders of Broome, using a process established by Pope Francis in 2019. Young Aboriginal men from towns and bush communities in the remote Kimberley region of Western Australia accused Saunders of sexual misconduct. The bishop has denied the allegations. Local media reported the inquiry in February, but it was not confirmed until late September. Brisbane’s Coleridge is president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference.” By Michael Sainsbury, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Churches defend clergy loophole in child sex abuse reporting
“It was a frigid Sunday evening at the Catholic Newman Center in Salt Lake City when the priest warned parishioners who had gathered after Mass that their right to private confessions was in jeopardy … In the following days of February 2020, Utah’s Catholic diocese, which oversees dozens of churches, says it collected some 9,000 signed letters from parishioners and sent them to state Rep. Angela Romero, a Democrat who had been working on the bill as part of her campaign against child sexual abuse. HB90 targeted Utah’s ‘clergy-penitent privilege,’ a law similar to those in many states that exempts clergy of all denominations from the requirement to report child abuse if they learn about the crime in a confessional setting.” By Jason Dearen and Michael Rezendes, Associated Press
Vatican’s quiet reprimand of U.S. bishop raises concerns about Pope’s clergy abuse law
“Earlier this year, the retired bishop of the Diocese of Yakima, Washington, received a formal reprimand from the Vatican for how he handled clergy abuse allegations — and possibly for how he treated a whistleblower. Victim advocates have praised the Vatican’s actions on that case as a rare rebuke of a bishop. Yet the dearth of information about both the investigation and subsequent reprimand appears to reinforce advocates’ concerns about one of Pope Francis’ landmark achievements on clergy abuse. Last week’s report that retired East Timor Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo was secretly sanctioned for alleged abuse has raised similar critiques. Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You Are the Light of the World”), issued by Francis in 2019, is a sweeping set of laws that includes a system to evaluate reports of abuse or cover-up by bishops. Bishop Carlos Sevilla, who led the central Washington diocese from 1996 until retiring in 2011, was investigated under the system put in place by Vos Estis, according to reporting by the Yakima Herald-Republic.” By Ketie Collins Scott, National Catholic Reporter
FOR A SYNODAL CHURCH: COMMUNION, PARTICIPATION AND MISSION
Pope meets group that prepared text for next phase of synod
“Pope Francis personally expressed his thanks to the four-dozen people who read through hundreds of reports about the listening phase of the Synod of Bishops and, after 12 days of prayer, reflection and discussion, drafted a working document for the continental stage of the synod process. The pope welcomed the cardinals, bishops, priests, religious and lay participants to the Vatican Oct. 2, the last day of their work. At the heart of the work were the 112 syntheses submitted by national bishops’ conferences from around the world, as well as syntheses from the Eastern Catholic churches, religious orders, church organizations and movements, offices of the Roman Curia and individuals.” By Catholic News Service in National Catholic Reporter
Synod on Synodality had its doubters, but it’s proving to be balm for ‘enduring wounds’
“In preparation for the Synod on Synodality, which will bring the world’s bishops to Rome a year from now, Pope Francis called for Catholics to meet in their parishes and dioceses to listen to one another and discern a path forward for the church. Many of the laity in the United States were excited by the opportunity … Despite these reservations, the U.S. bishops reported to the Vatican, ‘many were surprised by a level of engagement and richness that surpassed their expectations. It was frequently noted how much agreement participants found when they listened to each other.’” By Thomas Reese, Religion News Service
Head of Vatican Synod office: ‘Let us trust in our people’
“The head of the Vatican’s synod office says that when it comes to hot-button issues such as the reception of Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics and the blessing of same-sex couples, discussion cannot be limited to doctrinal concerns, but must also include pastoral considerations. ‘These issues are not to be understood simply in terms of doctrine, but in terms of God’s ongoing encounter with human beings,’ said Maltese Cardinal Mario Grech, secretary-general of the Synod of Bishops.” By Christopher White, National Catholic Reporter
National synod report raises question: ‘Now what?’
“The U.S. bishops’ conference issued its ‘National Synthesis of the People of God in the United States of America for the Diocesan Phase of the 2021-2023 Synod.’ The document is exceedingly well done, bringing together into one, concise and readable document the results of 22,000 reports from 30,000 listening sessions, in which the conference estimates some 700,000 people participated. Those numbers are staggering, a rebuke to the naysayers who viewed this process with suspicion … So, kudos to everyone who participated in this enormous undertaking and to the staff at the bishops’ conference who brought it all together. Now what?” By Michael Sean Winters, National Catholic Reporter
Vatican’s synod chief tells U.S. Church leaders to ‘listen to others’
“Cardinal Mario Grech encouraged more than 200 U.S. Catholic leaders to continue the process of listening called for by the Synod on Synodality, even as it moves out of the local phase, and to consider the contributions of all people of goodwill, in a recent presentation. “When we say that we are listening to the others, we are also saying that we are listening to the Holy Spirit, and for me, this is something sacred and it was about time that we came around to recognize this wealth, this richness in the church,” said Grech, secretary general of the Synod of Bishops.” By John Lavenburg, Cruxnow.com
Pope names new members to commission for protection of minors
“Pope Francis reconfirmed the leadership of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and expanded its membership from 17 to 20 people, naming 10 new members and reappointing 10 returning members. U.S. Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley of Boston, president of the commission, said, ‘Coming from all over the world with varied backgrounds and a common passion for the well-being of children and vulnerable people, the members announced today (Sept. 30) include advocates and practitioners of prevention and protection to the many areas in which the church ministers to children.’” By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Canadian bishops say they’ll follow pope’s example with Indigenous
“Canada’s bishops wound up their first in-person meetings in three years with discussion of concrete steps toward reconciliation with Indigenous Canadians. At the end of four days of plenary meetings of the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops in Cornwall, Ontario, Edmonton Archbishop Richard Smith told a news conference that the bishops are following the example of Pope Francis and the priority he placed on meeting with Indigenous people.” By Michael Swan, Catholic News Service, in National Catholic Reporter
Leading German bishop to stay in post despite damning report
“A leading German bishop said on Thursday (Sept. 22) that he will remain in office despite a damning report on the handling of abuse cases in his diocese. Bishop Franz-Josef Bode told journalists at a press conference on Sept. 22 that he had discussed whether to resign as bishop of Osnabrück, northwestern Germany, with the safeguarding expert Fr. Hans Zollner, S.J. Zollner is a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors and the founding president of Rome’s Centre for Child Protection.” By Luke Coppen, The Pillar
New Zealand Catholic women display ‘pink shoes’ to call for equality in the church
“Hundreds of Catholic women in New Zealand contributed to a provocative public art protest on Sept. 18 calling for equality of women in the church. The event took place in Auckland, the nation’s largest city, and Wellington, its capital. Called ‘Pink Shoes into the Vatican,’ the event consisted of an installation of hundreds of pairs of shoes donated by women around the country that were lined up on the streets leading up to both cities’ cathedrals. Tied to each pair of shoes was a label from its owner describing their contribution to or aspirations for the church.” By Peter Kirkwood, National Catholic Reporter
LAITY & THE CHURCH
Will laity by granted voice at next October’s synod
“I was pleasantly surprised that the U.S. bishops’ national synthesis for the Synod on Synodality explicitly named ‘hot button’ issues such as women’s ordination, LGBTQ+ inclusion and the need for freedom to speak up on controversial issues without fear of being silenced. Synthesis writers are to be congratulated for compiling a comprehensive, transparent document featuring input from ‘over 22,000 reports from individual parishes and groups.’ Many other important ecclesial issues are also named that I shall not address here, but the text is well worth the read.” By Christine Schenk, National Catholic Reporter
First graduate of Child Safety Certificate Program serves diocese
“When she began facilitating safe environment training in the Diocese of Palm Beach in 2005, Donna Eurich did not know that child protection would become her vocation and full-time work in the future. She was a middle school religion teacher at the time. Now she is the director of child and youth protection and the victim assistance coordinator for the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma, and the first graduate of the online Certificate in Child Protection and Safe Environments offered by the National Catholic School of Social Service at The Catholic University of America.” By The Catholic University of America
Former Holy Cross Catholic Church official arrested in embezzlement case in Vero Beach
“A former parish administrator at Holy Cross Catholic Church was arrested Monday (Sept. 19) after police accused her of using nearly $550,000 of church donations over several years to pay off her personal lines of credit, according to records obtained Tuesday (Sept.20). Deborah Lynn True, 69, who has a listed address in Frederick, Colorado, was arrested on a charge of organized fraud over $50,000 after a Vero Beach police investigation that began in December 2021.” By Will Greenlee, TCPalm.com
- Former parish admi nistrator, ex-pastor in Vero Beach use bogus bank account to steal $1.5 million, police say, By Scott Sutton, WPTV-TV5 News
Theologian Gaillardetz warns against over-critique of church in ‘last lecture’
“Theologians from across the U.S. gathered here (Boston College) Sept. 23-24 for a conference celebrating the legacy of Richard Gaillardetz, one of the country’s foremost experts on the exercise of authority in the Catholic Church, who is receiving treatment for pancreatic cancer … In an hourlong discourse that was at turns autobiographical, theological and deeply personal, the theologian encouraged his colleagues to continue the work of ‘meaningful and lasting ecclesial reform’ and to seek out a middle path between over-critiquing the Catholic Church as an institution and being over-trustful of its leaders, especially after the clergy sexual abuse scandals.” By Joshua J. McElwee, National Catholic Reporter
The Catholic Church is increasingly diverse – and so are its controversies
“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,’ a worldwide discussion of issues that impact the church, which will culminate with a bishops’ meeting in Rome. A final report is scheduled for October 2023. The Catholic Church in Germany has also moved forward with a national ‘synodal path’ to restore trust after its own sexual abuse scandal.” By Matthew Schmalz, Religion News Service
CLERGY SEXUAL ABUSE
Curran Center Award winner explores healing power of voice
“There is healing power in using your voice. That was one of the lessons of ‘A Theology of Voice: VOCAL and the Catholic Clergy Abuse Survivor Movement,’ an article by Brian Clites, Ph.D., chosen by Fordham’s Curran Center for American Catholic Studies in May as the winner of its third annual New Scholars essay contest … Clites said that when he first began working on the paper, which is part of a larger book project, in 2011, he was struck by how little academic research had been devoted to the sexual abuse crisis, and how often the concept of the voice was referenced in contemporary Catholic survivor groups, such as ‘Voice of the Faithful’ and ‘Speak Truth to Power.’” By Patrick Verel, Fordham News
Bishop Hart accuser discusses abuse with clergy at Wyoming film screenings
“A priest stood up and asked Ed Gavagan how he found hope after all that he’s endured. As a room full of Catholic clergy looked on, Ed told the priest that he had none. None at all. Gavagan had been shaken when he walked into the community room attached to Sheridan’s Holy Name Catholic Church on Monday (Sept. 19). The seats were filled by 50-some priests, plus a half-dozen nuns, all gathered to watch a documentary that follows Gavagan and five other men as they work to heal from the trauma they say they suffered at the hands of priests decades ago.” By Casper Star Tribune
Four more former California all-boys Catholic school students allege priest sexually assaulted them
“Father Kevin Fitzpatrick’s first 25 years in the service of the Order of Servants of Mary were commemorated by a page dedicated to the popular priest in Servite High School’s 1980 yearbook. The page features a photo of Fitzpatrick, the school’s swimming and water polo coach, poolside. There’s a picture of Fitzpatrick, known to the Servite community as simply Father Fitz, sticking out his tongue at the photographer and another of him grabbing a Servite student by the front of the boy’s shirt in mock anger.” By Scott Reid, By The Mercury News
Catholic priest who served in Atlanta faces rape, abuse warrants for three different victims
“A catholic priest who once served in Atlanta is now accused of rape, with warrants out for his arrest in California.The Atlanta Archdiocese confirmed the allegations Monday (Sept. 26). According to the Diocese of Sacramento, where the charges stem from, he left California in 2005 and served in the Atlanta area until leaving for his home diocese in Colombia in 2008. According to the Sacramento Diocese, 70-year-old Father Roberto Jaramillo faces criminal warrants for three instances of alleged sexual abuse going back more than two decades – the alleged ‘repeated’ rape and abuse of a girl between 1996 and 1999, kissing a juvenile boy in 1999 and sexually abusing an adult male in 2001.” By Kaitlyn Ross, 11Alive-TV News
Former Sacramento priest accused of child sex abuse. Here’s when and where he served.
“A priest who formerly was with the Catholic Diocese of Sacramento has been added to the list of clergy accused of child sex abuse, and authorities are searching for him. Roberto Jaramillo, who served at multiple churches in the Sacramento region for 10 years, is accused of rape and other sexual assault involving a girl under the age of 14 between 1996 and 1999. The Sacramento Police Department confirmed on Saturday that a felony warrant had been issued.” By Mathew Miranda, The Sacramento Bee
Archdiocese of Chicago asks three retired priests to remain out of ministry pending investigation of nearly 50-year-old allegations of sexual abuse of minors
“ The Archdiocese of Chicago today announced that it has asked three retired priests to remain out of ministry while its Independent Review Board investigates allegations of sexual abuse of minors against them. The priests are: Father John J. Rudnik, 87, Father James E. Flynn, 80 and Father John W. Clemens, 75. Each has one allegation against him, all dating from nearly a half century ago and all are cooperating fully with the process. The persons making the allegations have been offered the services of the Archdiocese Victim Assistance Ministry and civil authorities have been notified. In addition, parishioners in the parishes where these priests served have been notified.” News Release by Archdiocese of Chicago
Garrett Park priest placed on leave pending sexual abuse allegations
“A priest at Holy Cross Catholic Church in Garrett Park has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of sexually abusing minors in another diocese decades ago. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Washington notified parishioners last Friday (Sept. 30). According to church officials, the sexual abuse allegations against Reverend Robert Buchmeier were first reported to the Catholic Diocese of Arlington on Sept. 30. After reviewing the preliminary information, the Diocese of Arlington notified Alexandria City Police and the Archdiocese of Washington — where Buchmeier is incardinated.” By MyMCMedia.org
Judge to reexamine her decision on release of Eagle reporter’s notes in Springfield clergy abuse case
“A Hampden County Superior Court judge is poised to decide whether a reporter for The Berkshire Eagle must provide information the newspaper says would violate a promise of confidentiality to an anonymous source. That information is needed to allow the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, its lawyer says, to defend itself against a civil lawsuit filed by a man who says he was raped by clergy, including former Bishop Christopher J. Weldon.” By Heather Bellow, the Berkshire Eagle
- Judge in clergy rape suit says diocese can’t have information that reveals confidential Eagle sources, By Heather Bellow, The Berkshire Eagle
Retired priest removed from ministry as abuse allegation is investigated
“A retired priest of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Father Michael Ince, has been placed on a leave of absence from priestly ministry while an allegation of abusing a minor in the 1980s is investigated. ‘In accordance with archdiocesan policies, the archdiocesan Office of Ministerial Standards and Safe Environment promptly reported this to law enforcement, who advised that they are investigating the allegation,’ Archbishop Bernard Hebda said in a statement Sept. 26. Once law enforcement completes its investigation the archdiocese will follow its processes to determine next steps.” By Joe Ruff, The Catholic Spirit
‘Slap in the face.’ Sex abuse victims outraged over priest’s return to Kansas City.
“A former Kansas City priest and retired Wyoming bishop whose numerous sexual abuse allegations were dismissed by the Vatican but deemed credible by two current U.S. bishops is moving back to the metro area. Joseph Hart, who left Kansas City more than four decades ago to become Bishop of Cheyenne, will be residing in a senior living facility, The Star has learned. Hart, who turned 91 last month, has a brother — also a priest — who lives in Kansas City. One of Hart’s victims told The Star that he was contacted last week by Bishop James V. Johnston Jr., head of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, to let him know Hart would be returning.” By Judy L. Thomas, The Kansas City Star
Priest convicted of sex abuse claimed ex-police detective McLaughlin erased tapes
“Gordon MacRae, the Catholic priest now serving a state prison sentence after he pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting four boys, once claimed in a lawsuit that the evidence against him was destroyed by a zealous investigator out to railroad him. The cop who pursued MacRae was then-Keene Police Detective James McLaughlin. The old lawsuit brought by the convicted child sex predator against McLaughlin is newly relevant now that McLaughlin’s recently released personnel file shows the decorated investigator was once accused by his own department of doctoring evidence.” By Damien fisher, InDepthNH.org
Questions as accused former pastor relocated
“A former pastor at St. Andrew Church in Westwood who resigned in 2018 amid allegations of sexual misconduct from over three decades ago has been reassigned as chaplain to a Catholic resource facility in Newark that offers services to help pregnant, post-abortion, and sexual abuse victims ‘who need a safe and supportive environment.’ Former pastor James Weiner was found to be working at The Mercy House, a ‘family-oriented resource and referral center in the heart of Newark with a focus on assisting pregnant and parenting women who need a safe and supportive environment.’” By The Press Group
Former Cincinnati Catholic priest told rape victim ‘I don’t have a clue what you could be talking about’
“In a ‘chilling’ phone call to then-Rev. Geoff Drew, the Catholic priest who raped him three decades ago, Paul Neyer said he was so unnerved that he grabbed a table and felt like he could ‘squeeze through it.’ At the request of detectives investigating his case, Neyer called Drew on July 31, 2019, one day after investigators from Green Township and Cincinnati interviewed him about being raped, according to previously unreleased police records from the investigation.” By Craig Cheatham, WCPO-TV9 News
Details emerge about Father James Jackson’s alleged pre-trial release violations
“Father James Jackson, a Rhode Island priest who was arrested in October on federal and state child pornography charges, admitted Monday (Oct. 3) in federal court that the government could prove that he violated certain conditions of his pre-trial release. The conditions of Jackson’s pretrial release were set in November 2021 before he was allowed to leave Rhode Island to reside with a family member in Kansas. He was arrested in July by the U.S. Marshals in Kansas. He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals at the Donald W. Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island.” By Joe Burkuras, Catholic News Agency
Catholic priest arraigned for allegedly sodomizing 10 children
“A Catholic priest in Moshi, Sostenes Soka, who was being held by the police has been arraigned today, September 26, at the Resident Magistrate’s Court for allegedly raping and sexually assaulting more than 10 children. He was arrested on September 20. The children are pupils whose identity has been protected are in Standard Six and Form One who were attending the teachings for the first communion and confirmation.” By Florah Temba, The Citizen
B.C. man reaches settlement over priest sex abuse allegations
“A man who alleged he was sexually abused by Mission Roman Catholic priests and a seminary employee has reached an undisclosed settlement to end the case. Mark O’Neill was seeking damages for sexual abuse he alleges he suffered as a teen during his time at a Mission Roman Catholic seminary from 1974 to 1978. He was 13- to 17-years-old at the time. The defendants listed in the suit included the Seminary of Christ the King; Westminster Abbey Ltd.; the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Vancouver, a Corporation Sole; Emerick Lazar; Harold Vincent Sander, a.k.a. Dom Placidus Sander; Shawn Rohrbach; and John Doe.” By Jeremy Hainsworth, Pique News Magazine
German court asks Benedict XVI to testify after complaint by a victim of abuse by a priest
“ The Traunstein Regional Court in Bavaria has requested a deposition of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI over a lawsuit filed by a man who was abused by a priest, court spokeswoman Andrea Titz has confirmed. “The defendants have the opportunity to indicate their willingness to defend themselves within two weeks, after which they have four weeks, or one month, to respond,” she explained. As reported by German media when the complaint was filed, the plaintiff is a 38-year-old man from Bavaria who alleges he was sexually abused by the priest as a child.” By Daniel Stewart, News 360
Catholic Church in Guam begins processing abuse victims’ compensation claims
“The chief judge of the US district court of Guam Frances Tydingco-Gatewood has approved the final revision to the compromise agreement that would bring closure to the clergy abuse victims’ civil action against the Catholic Church. The settlement amount for victim-survivors of clergy sexual abuse will be in the range of between US$34 million and US$45 million, but Catholic church officials said the final amount would depend on the actual sum that the sale of respective archdiocese properties would bring in.” By Radio New Zealand
Indian family seeks dismissal of priest accused of abuse
“An Indian Catholic priest already under suspension following sex abuse complaints has fresh charges of sexual assault being lodged against him by a minor boy and his father, sparking calls for his dismissal from the priesthood. Father Vincent Pereira, 55, was originally suspended from public priestly ministries after police arrested him in September 2018 for sexually assaulting a teenage boy in a school where he was the principal. Released on bail in March 2020, he now lives in the pastoral center of the Pune diocese in western India.” By Michael Gonsalves, UCANews.com
IRELAND & NORTHERN IRELAND
Sex beast priest caught in another breach of sexual offenses prevention order
“One of Northern Ireland’s most notorious pedophile priests has admitted yet another breach of his life-long sexual offences prevention order. A court has been told the case of Daniel Gerard Curran ‘is to proceed by way of a guilty plea’ to the single charge against him. In August this year, the creep breached his lifelong SOPO by ‘loitering’ around Tollymore National Outdoor Centre in Newcastle.” By Paul Higgins, Belfast Telegraph
Lebanese pedophile priest Mansour Labaki defrocked by Vatican
“Mansour Labaki is believed to have sexually abused more than 50 individuals. The Vatican defrocked the former Lebanese priest and convicted pedophile on Tuesday (Sept. 27), ten years after he was found guilty of the sexual abuse of minors. The Assembly of the Catholic Patriarchs and Bishops of Lebanon issued a statement saying that Pope Francis decided that both Labaki and Priest George Karim Badr, will be ‘returned to their secular state.’” By The New Arab
Portugal abuse cases mount amid questions over Nobel bishop
“Clergy sexual abuse cases are casting a pall over the Catholic Church in Portugal, ensnaring senior officials even as authorities scramble to explain why shelter was given to a Nobel Peace Prize-winning bishop at the center of sexual misconduct allegations. Senior Catholic leaders apologized over the weekend for the hurt caused by decades of alleged abuse and cover-up — current estimates number around 400 cases — with the archbishop of Lisbon begging the faithful to not lose faith in the church.” By Barry Hatton, Associated Press, on ABCNews.go.com
Spain’s ombudsman urges Catholic bishops to collaborate in sexual abuse investigation
“The Spanish ombudsman on Tuesday (Sept. 26) said he ‘hasn’t noticed a lot of enthusiasm’ from parts of the Catholic Church as he looks into sexual abuse cases and urged bishops to collaborate with his investigation. ‘If they say they won’t, I will make very concrete requests about what happened in specific cases, congregations and what’s going on with certain archives,’ Angel Gabilondo said at the New Economy Forum in Madrid.” By Alyssa McMurtry, Anadolu Agency on aa.com.tr
‘What I want is apologies’
“For years, Timor-Leste’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has been sexually abusing boys, survivors and others claim. Meanwhile, the Catholic church imposed travel restrictions on Belo. ‘We have to talk about it, and shout it out louder to the world.’ By Tjitske Kingsma, De Groene Amsterdammer